North to Alberta, Part 1

Dear Liza,

The weather Tuesday was cool and clear, perfect for an adventure. I took the number 15 bus to Grand Avenue, close to the Willamette River. I was walking toward the number 6 bus stop when something caught my eye.

Twelve stories of glory

This wonderful building has been puzzling me for some time. It is on the corner of SE Belmont and SE Grand and is, as far as I can see, the tallest building on the Eastside of Portland, certainly the tallest for miles around. So I walked over to learn more, if I could. Many old buildings have a name, a plaque declaring it to be on the National Registry of Historic Places, a date….something to indicate when it was built, why, and by whom.

Fabulous ironwork

What I found was some ornate old iron work, odd architectural bits, and Charles McCloud.                 Mr. McCloud has run the parking lot behind the building for the last ten years. He told me the building was built in 1927. There used to be a theater where the parking lot is now, and a dry cleaners next door. He doesn’t know if the building has a proper name.

Later, I found that the Weatherly Building was built in 1927 by George Weatherly, a man who made his fortune in the ice cream retail and manufacturing business. One of his employees invented and patented the first ice cream cone making machine. Civilization owes them both a great debt, I think.

Mr. Charles McCloud

He does know that it has recently been sold and his parking lot will be closed within a month or two, which means he will need to find another job.

We lamented together that change usually means someone gets pushed out of where they are, I wished him luck, and caught my number 6 bus heading north on Grand Avenue, which further on joins with Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

I got off at Alberta Street, the main drag of the neighborhood. The Alberta neighborhood has been one of the main black neighborhoods in Portland since the 1940s. In those days, red lining practices in real estate meant that black people couldn’t buy property in most areas of the city. Even after these racist practices were outlawed, they were still quietly continued.

The Alberta has the feel of an older neighborhood working to re-invent itself. Murals and memorials show the racial struggle and heroes the the community. There are smaller houses and storefronts, but many lots have taller new construction going on.

On a corner, I found a small silver monument to Officer Harry Jackson, dedicated in August, 1997. This memorial was erected while Officer Jackson was still working for the Portland Police Force. Becoming a police officer in spite of discrimination, he became respected for his community-building and encouragement of shared responsibility within the area. He represented the best in policing. img_0547.jpg


IMG_0560.jpgAfter looking around for a while, I found my primary quest: Modern Domestic, a fabric store that was recommended by the lady at Josephine’s Dry Goods.

This store was what I have been looking for. It carries cottons, wools, linens, blends, all the sorts of fabrics I want for my quilt.

Tomorrow, I will tell you what I found!

Love, Grandma Judy







Adulting at the Zoo

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett worked all day at the SideStreet Gallery today, so Grandpa Nelson and I went to the Portland Zoo, taking the number 15 bus and Red Line train. Of course, we have been to the zoo with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel, but going with just grown ups is a whole different experience. We were like our own island of calm in a sea of chatting, fussing, small people.

Masai Giraffe

It was a perfectly Portland fall day, cool and cloudy but not raining. The animals were mostly up and about and, since I had no children to keep track of, I could really enjoy the critters.

On our way to the giraffes, which are Grandpa Nelson’s favorites, we stopped at the Columbus monkey enclosure. There was quite a crowd watching the new baby, sitting on a branch with his mom and learning to handle branches. His balance was precarious and every time the branch shifted, the crowd gasped. After a few minutes the father came over, and the baby became much less adventurous, seeming to keep Momma between himself and Big Dad.

Baby Colobus monkey keeps an eye on Dad

The giraffes were delightful, walking elegantly around their enclosure, or leaning gracefully down for a drink. Grandpa Nelson says he likes them because they are quiet.

Having no children to keep track of, I got to watch everyone else’s. This was a zoo-going experience, too, watching this species of small human interact. I loved seeing the kids play with Jim Gion’s bronze sculpture group called Lunch Break, especially this little guy trying to be a cub.


It was also fun to see older siblings explain things to little brothers and sisters. “See this snake? See how you are red? He can tell you’re not a rock, so he can eat you!” And, on cue, the little brother squeals.

Heat sensing snake

Something I had never seen was an elephant enjoying a swim in the big pool. A keeper was fielding questions and telling us all about elephants, while we watched this giant animal duck and squirt in the water like you do in your bathtub. I imagine it’s about has hard to get him out, too, when it is time!

We noticed that the zoo is already getting ready for Zoo Lights, a wonderful night event held in December where the zoo is open very late and all the trees are lit up, and animals made of neon tubes glow and move. It takes weeks to take the lights down after the holidays, more time to refurbish them, and then another few months to put them all back up. But it is a delightful, if chilly, outing that we will certainly do again this year.

Getting ready for Zoo Lights

By the afternoon we were worn out and got back home for snacks and naps, because we had a date for the evening, as well. Auntie Katie’s book store, Books with Pictures, was sponsoring a showing of the 1984 movie, “Supergirl”, at the Hollywood Theater. I had never seen it, since in 1984 I was up to my eyeballs raising your Daddy David and Auntie Katie.

It was exciting to see Katie in her element, sharing her love of comics with a theater full of people. The movie wasn’t fabulous, but it did feature three strong female characters: Supergirl, Lucy Lane (Lois’s younger sister) and the villain, Selena, played by Faye Dunaway in all her evil glory. We enjoyed the silly camp and headed home, totally worn out.

Auntie Katie presenting SuperGirl

For being retired, I am certainly not bored! As my dad always said, “If you’re not having fun, it’s your own darn fault.”


Grandma Judy

Friday Night Out

Dear Liza,

Ultra-cool chair at NEXT

After my long walk yesterday, I came home, read, and had a nap. About five, we all got spruced up to try a new place. Le Canard is advertised as a “Portland styled French Restaurant”, a more casual version of Le Pigeon, the high end French place next door, run by the same folks.

Portland style French Food

We eat early, so usually we have the quieter end of the evening. But what hit us as we walked in the door was the noise! Fifty conversations, along with glasses and dishes, made quite a din. We got a table, ordered wine, and enjoyed reading the short menu. Bridgett ordered scallops, I had risotto, and Grandpa Nelson, french fries. The food was good, although pretty small portions, and we tried to have a conversation, tossing around ideas for our next trip to Europe… but we couldn’t. We kept having to lean in, repeat ourselves, and even yell to make ourselves heard. Not a relaxing way to chat.

As soon as we finished, we paid our bill and headed out. The relatively quiet sidewalks of Burnside seemed relaxing, so we just walked along. There is a lot of new construction going on, so we kept having to cross the street to avoid scaffolding, but it was enjoyable, seeing things change.

We passed The Jupiter Hotel, where we three had stayed years ago for Auntie Bridgett’s first Comic Con here. A refurbished 1960s hotel, it has a funky charm. Now, just across the street, is NEXT, the new section of the Jupiter. It is brand new, modern, and beautifully furnished. We toured the lobby, went upstairs to a lounge, and checked out the patio, as well as the view of busy East Burnside.

Jupiter Hotel’s stylish offspring

Further along we found a pop=up art gallery, featuring the collage wonderful-ness of Andy Jenkins. I don’t  take pictures of art in galleries, because Auntie Bridgett says it is rude, but his work is on line if you search his name. I recommend it. He has an abstract way of putting dry cleaning receipts, traffic tickets, and stereo instructions together that is unique and delightful.

We ended the evening by stopping at Forty Licks, the ice cream parlour that used to be just blocks from our rental and we don’t go as often as we used to. Their ice creams are made from natural ingredients and are extraordinary. Coffee, Ginger molasses, and a blood orange milk shake accompanied us on the last of our walk.

By the time we got home, we had walked almost two miles, which means MY total for the day was five miles, counting my trip to Clinton and back.

Good thing, too, with all that luscious food…

Love, Grandma Judy

South to Clinton

Dear Liza,img_0387.jpg

With cooler weather coming on (although it is sunny today) I decided it is time to start thinking about how I’m going to keep busy when it gets too cold to go for long walks. I have started knitting, but what I really love is making quilts. So I need to find some fabric.

Hunting online for fabric shops, I found the ones I already know about, The Whole Nine Yards, which only carries upholstery and drapery fabrics, and Cool Cottons, which carries only cotton/polyester blends. I want a store where I can find heavier and lighter fabrics, cottons and blends, corduroy and sheers, all in one place. I want to be able to see all the fabrics before I buy any of them.img_0393.jpg

A bit further away I found Josephine’s Dry Goods, about a mile and a half south on Clinton Street. I dropped Auntie Bridgett at Luke’s Frame Shop and headed off.

Along the way, I saw some lovely things and made some discoveries. These beautiful red balls that I have been seeing are actually dogwood tree seeds, and there is another sweet chestnut tree at 26th and Division.

Just past the sweet chestnut tree, I smelled something delicious and realized it was lunch time, so I stopped at La Panza Cafe, It is a small New Mexican place that doesn’t look like much from the outside. I was made to feel at home by the young waiter, whose name I carelessly forgot to ask.

From their lunch menu (though you can get breakfast all day) I ordered chili verde stew with meatballs and a cold, creamy horchata to drink. Maybe it was the long walk and the warm day, but both were incredibly delicious. Jose, the chef, knows his flavors.img_0404.jpg

After that delicious meal, I continued south to Clinton Street. I found a theater, a video store, art gallery, and comic shop, but finally, Josephine’s Dry Goods, my fabric store of the day.  Josephine’s has a beautiful selection, but again, a narrow focus. They carry natural fabrics, the sort used in high-end dressmaking: silks, wools, cottons, linens. Beautiful, but not what I can use for a quilt. I drooled over the silks for a while, thanked the lady, and headed off. Cloud Comics, next door, was clean and bright, but not as nice as Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures.img_0413.jpg

The Clinton neighborhood is very pretty, filled with Victorian homes from the turn of the century and old, well tended trees. The street signs highlight the fact that Clinton Street is a Bicycle Throughway, a road that has very little car traffic. Indeed, you can ride down Clinton Street to the river and cross the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. I want to do that bike ride!img_0422.jpg


I continued up past Sewallcrest Park (which, according to the map, is actually Hazeltine Park) and then home. A three mile walk, a fine lunch, and new things to see…I am a happy Grandma.

But pooped!


Grandma Judy








New in the Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

Beautiful work by Valerie S. Goodwin

Rain was predicted Wednesday, but not until later in the day, so after working all morning, Auntie Bridgett and I enjoyed a walk to the Belmont Library. She had books to return and pick up, and I always like to see what they have.

I found a book called  Art Quilt Maps by Valerie S. Goodwin. Valerie is an architect who also happens to be a fabulous quilter and artist. She loves maps, quilts, and haikus! I will be reading it closely and trying some of my own art map quilts this winter.

Newest tiny library

On the way home, we walked on a side of Alder we usually don’t, and discovered something new. One of the lovely old Victorian homes now has a tiny free library out front! It’s hard to see because the trees are a bit overgrown, but it is well built and I found a small coloring book for Kestrel.

Near the library is our newest sweet chestnut tree. Remember I told you about chestnuts and how only a few are the kind you can eat? This is one on those!! This makes five, I think, that we have located. We will be going by with bags, come November, and picking up a few.

Sweet chestnuts!

We got home, worked some more, and had dinner. I was thinking of going out and enjoying the park when whoosh!! Rain, wind, thunder and lightning! It was amazing!

Grandpa Nelson and I tried to sit out on the balcony and enjoy it, since we have a nice overhang, but the wind and splashes chased us inside. Then hail started bouncing off the railing and balcony floor! And just a week ago we were complaining about the heat.

Joyous rainstorm!

We made sure we knew where the flashlights were and settled in for the evening, since walking through a forested park during a lightning storm is a bad idea. I felt so cozy and wintry, I even dug out my knitting needles and some new yarn I found on the sidewalk and started a scarf.

I guess Fall has fallen!


Grandma Judy

Willie the Dawn Redwood

Dear Liza,

Ancient Dawn Redwood
Willie and Bridgett in July

In late June of this year, this new Dawn Redwood was planted at the eastern edge of the Dog Off Leash Area in Laurelhurst Park. We noticed it and named it Willie, after my Momma and because he has this little wiggle near the top…Willie with a Wiggle, Wiggle Willie, something like that. There are several magnificent old Dawn Redwoods already in the park, so we figured he was guaranteed success.

In September

But this has been an unusually hot and dry summer. Since early June, the city has seen about a quarter of an inch of rain, with weeks of temperatures near 100 degrees. This sort of drought is hard on all the plants, but especially those with tiny baby root systems.

During the summer we have kept tabs on Willie. He has gotten browner and more spindly and we have been worried.

But he is a deciduous tree, which means that he is supposed to lose his little needle-leaves in the Fall. Maybe the browning is natural, and not drought related.

Now that the rain seems to have started, I hope he can grow and be as tall and weirdly handsome as his older colleagues.


Grandma Judy