11 July 2017

The Place to Take Children in Portland that You Haven't Thought Of

I've had occasion recently to visit a couple of shiva houses and I've been thinking of King Solomon's statement (Koheles 7:2) that it's better to visit a house of mourning than one of feasting. I was kind of reluctant to visit the first one -- "I am going so the mourner can talk about the person who passed away but others there are going to make small talk, it's a long walk, it's raining, there's a lion in the road, do I HAVE TO??" and yes, yes I did, so I went; and I was glad I did; the mourner was telling stories about her mother, and what it is like when someone passes away, and what it's like for the family, and it was a meaningful experience for all of us.

Fast forward to a recent trip to Portland.
My mother proposed that we ride the tram that flies across the city on a cable, which was built ten years ago to transport hospital staff from one OHSU campus to another. The ride is a few minutes long and quite beautiful, and we all enjoyed it, although Loops thought it would be more like a roller coaster and said she thought it ought to bump a little more. You can see all the mountains, even Mt. Adams; and I noticed for the first time that Portland's Mt. Tabor closely resembles the original Har Tavor in Israel; and the area below the tram is the old turn-of-the-century Jewish neighborhood of Portland, which is nice to look down on; and if you, reader, are wondering along with everyone else who rides the tram what the big round building you passed on the OHSU tram is, I can tell you: it's a synagogue built by Jews from the Isle of Rhodes, still in occasional use and known affectionately to the community as "the beehive."

Once we got off the tram we stayed in the station for another cycle to watch how the mechanism works (I'm glad we rode it before I saw that the whole thing boils down to just three wires - it's very elegant) and then we discovered that a set of stairs leads down from the tram to other parts of the hospital.
The best banister to slide down in Portland is the one in the Hilton hotel downtown; the second banister disappeared in a remodeling years ago and the third (the Keller Auditorium) and fourth (the Arlene Schnitzer) are nothing too out of the common; so I am pleased to tell you that the new banisters up at the OHSU tram station are almost as good as the one at the Hilton, better than any other banisters in town for sliding down.

Should you be weighing the merits of taking children for a ride on the tram (and down the banisters), the factor you haven't considered is that the tram station was built as an addition to the Doernbecher children's hospital and that of all the wonderful things we did that morning (it's only early July but the salal berries up there are already ripe -- OH JOY), walking through a children's hospital en route was an unexpected but very important experience for my kids.

There are exhibits in the halls of art by the children in the hospital and their families. A thousand paper cranes... sneakers the children designed that were made by Nike... and installations in memory of others.
It's all very beautiful and well-designed (children's hospitals usually are) and it served as a good opening for conversation with Loops.

Highly recommended.

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for that is the end of every man, and the living shall lay it to his heart.בטוֹב לָלֶכֶת אֶל בֵּית אֵבֶל מִלֶּכֶת אֶל בֵּית מִשְׁתֶּה בַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא סוֹף כָּל הָאָדָם וְהַחַי יִתֵּן אֶל לִבּוֹ: