Happy Anniversary SideStreet Arts!

Dear Liza,

This weekend was the one year anniversary of the gallery that Auntie Bridgett shows her art in, and they threw a party! It was scheduled for last weekend, but postponed because of the predicted “Snowpocalypse” that never came.

It was a fine party, with cookies, sweets, drinks, guests, and games. The sweets were made by the artists. The drinks were wine, champagne, and a variety of mimosas.

The game was fun. There was a canvas that started pink, and everyone added a little bit….a lady in the style of Matisse, words, hearts, even a tiny dragon, which I added to.

We chatted with people, looked at really interesting art, and generally had a good time. Then we came home to rest, and get ready for Auntie Katie’s Birthday tomorrow!


Dear Liza,

You know how much I love making cookies. Well, cookies, bread, cakes… anything that I can play with that also comes out delicious, I love to do.

Yesterday Auntie Katie invited me over to make cookies with her and Kestrel. I walked to Hawthorne and caught the number 14 bus. I normally walk all the way, but I was feeling tired and knew that baking with kidlets can take a lot of energy. I was glad I did!

When I got there, there were two extra kids…very nice neighbors and sons of Alyssa, our real estate agent and dear friend of Auntie Katie. The boys played Chess and Codewords while we baked.

By some instinct, the boys knew exactly when to come into the kitchen….”May I have a cookie? Could you frost it for me? Could I frost it? Are there sprinkles?” Needless to say, they could, and there were. I frosted one and took it up to Auntie Katie, who had a business call, to make sure she got at least one!

Our whole adventure was overseen by Noodle, a tiny little stufftie. Kestrel likes to balance him on her head, or tuck him into tiny fairy places. But yesterday, he was watching us make cookies.

Always something going on up here!

Love, Grandma Judy

Valentine’s Day, Spring, and Rain

Grandpa Nelson, my Valentine for 47 years

Dear Liza,

Hello from rainy Portland! We are predicted to have about a week of above freezing temperatures , and then some more snow, before Spring arrives.

To pass the time, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with cards to each other, cookies for Grandpa Nelson, and beautiful art from Auntie Bridgett. We talked about how blessed we are to have found each other and to be together.

Then we walked (miraculously, there was a break in the rain) to Chez Machin, a tiny French restaurant and creperie down on Hawthorne. It seats about 25 and offers sweet and savory crepes, boeuf bourguingnon, and luscious desserts like mousse au chocolate. The service was fun and quick, the food and wine yummy, and the bill, very reasonable.

We ate and talked, about Brexit and the Beatles, Louise Bourgeois and High School, and enjoyed being in a charming place in the city we love.

This morning, it is raining again. Stay dry, sweetie!


Grandma Judy

Handy and dessert
Auntie Bridgett with antlers!

Off With Their Heads!

Dear Liza,

Yesterday I went for a walk to see Auntie Katie and drop of Valentine’s presents and cards to the cousins. On the way, I saw two people working in one of the rose gardens in Ladd’s Addition, and I stopped to ask questions.

These two lovely people were pruning the scraggly, winter-dead roses down to about two feet high, and raking up the leaves around the base of the plants. They didn’t give me their names, but said they are part of the “Off with their heads!” group.

This dramatically named group of volunteers usually meet on Saturday mornings between May and September, “deadheading” roses as the blooms fade. Deadheading means taking the spent roses off so the bush will continue to make more roses. It keeps the gardens beautiful for months.

When we moved to Portland, I thought I would be joining a group like this. I had imagined missing my garden and wanting to get out in the mud. But I have been so busy with my history research and story writing, I haven’t gotten around to it! It is good to know they are still there, and that I can go play anytime I want.

Further along in my walk, I stopped at Backstory Books and Yarn, and found two different wools that I want to use to knit Auntie Bridgett a cowl like I made for myself. Stephanie, the owner of the shop, showed me how to knit with two strands of yarn at the same time! It will take some practice, but I will persevere.

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!


Grandma Judy

Valentine’s Day

Dear Liza,

It was so good talking with you last night, and seeing how long your hair has grown! I am so excited that you will be visiting next month.

Of course, a holiday of any kind is not complete without cookies. I am baking some for the cousins, and for Grandpa Nelson.

Since you have opened your card, I can share it here. I made it with Auntie Bridgett, who is a wonderful collage artist. She has boxes of papers, from the J. Peterman catalogue to old falling-apart books, magazines and even gift wrap, to cut up and use.

I find that if I have a person in mind as I flip though the paper, images come together and start to tell a story. For Cousin Jasper, there was a giant robot, tiny space dog, and diagonal lines. For Cousin Kestrel, birds perched on branches. And for you, a goofy bird in a heart.

Portland is a city where so many beautiful things are one of a kind, hand made, quirky and silly. It is a collage of everyone who lives here. That’s why I love it!


Grandma Judy

Ice Games

Dear Liza,

With the storm had come and gone, the weather didn’t warm up very much. Some of the snow melted, but the ice stuck around in really interesting places. Gutters, where the snow melted and then froze before it could go anywhere, have become works of art. This big puddle on 29th Street had what looked like Hokusai’s famous print of a wave.

People have been getting creative, wanting to make snowmen but using what they have instead. Note the daffodil leaves next to this tiny creation.

This looks like a crater on the moon, but is really a birdbath that got frozen. I love the way the cold changes everything into something else.

Finally, I saw this tiny slope still covered with snow, and pictured fairies about an inch high scooting down on sleds made from….maybe bottle caps, spinning around yelling “Wheee!”


Grandma Judy

Another Set of Flurries

Dear Liza,

On Friday, we got a winter storm warning, which is the city’s way of saying “Get what you need now because the roads are going to be awful very soon.” We had already done our shopping, so we were fine. We have food, matches, blankets, a kitten, and each other. We just enjoyed waiting for a big storm.

We waited a long time! Finally it started, and came down very prettily for a few hours. Saturday morning, we had about two inches of fine snow. I went for another walk, seeing all sorts of things I had never seen before.

Auntie Bridgett’s gnomes, a gift from her Grandma Bea, were standing very bravely in the front patio, patiently waiting for summer, I think.

There were actual icicles hanging from the moss on a tree, where the snow had melted and been caught and frozen mid-drip. Amazing.

The Daphne bushes, which smell so sweet, have stopped in mid-bloom, deciding to wait for days when the bees will be by.

And once I got inside, I warmed up and stood by the window with the Paperwhites, enjoying their scent and looking at the cold outside. We were both grateful to be inside.


Grandma Judy