Family Out and About

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

The second day of Cousin Liza’s visit was very fun, full, and exhausting. First, Grandpa Nelson drove me up to the hotel Liza and her family are staying at, and we took her to breakfast while her folks slept in. We went to Grandpa Nelson’s favorite bakery, Helen Bernhard, up on Broadway. We bought doughnuts for now and cookies for later, which worked out well.

We headed home and Auntie Bridgett had some Art time. Liza, who is almost 6, loves to draw and paint, so they had fun together.

Then Grandpa and I took Liza back to Laurelhurst Park, where she found dogs to pet and kids to play with. We met Heather, who runs Oblique Coffee, with her two girls, and had a nice visit. They had brought Biscuit, their dog, and Liza took him for a walk.

Down by the lake we tossed pebbles and sticks to see them float and sink, and talked with the ducks, who quacked back at us. I showed Liza the Wallasaurus and she climbed to the top!

Uncle David and Auntie Olga let us know they were heading over, and we all went to Straight From New York Pizza, on Belmont. Very tasty, and I had a beer with the unlikely named of “Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout”. Which lived up to all the parts of its name. Except for the beaver part.

When we were fed and refreshed, Uncle David piled us all into his rented car, a Tesla station wagon with gull wing doors! Really, when they are opening, it looks like the car is about to fly away. It also drives silently, because it is electric, and parks itself. Uncle David loved it!

We drove to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, which is only for bikes, people, trains and busses…no cars. So we parked and walked across it, enjoying the views of the sunshine on the river. Even Mt. Hood, more than a hundred miles away, was shining white in the sun. Amazing.

Feeling the need for a snack, we stopped by Ebb and Bean for delicious frozen yogurt on Division. The decorations are fun and there were more friendly dogs.

Then Auntie Olga wanted a high view, so we drove to Mt. Tabor, our little, in-town mountain. Wonderful views of Mt. Hood, downtown, and even that big statue of Harvey Scott made us smile. But by the time we had gotten back to the car, we were pooped. Auntie Bridgett had moreArt time with Liza, and the rest of the grownups had some quiet time.

Dinner was at Bread and Ink, one of our favorite places, down on Hawthorne. Salads, salmon, spaghetti and wine filled us up and got us ready for bed, where we all went pretty soon thereafter.

More tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Liza Comes to Town!

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

I am writing to you because Cousin Liza is here in Portland! She and her Mommy and Daddy flew up Saturday.

First, we all went for a walk to Laurelhurst Park. The weather was clear but still a little chilly, but Grandpa fetched the frisbee and badminton set from the garage, anyway. As we all walked around the park, seeing all the kids, families, couples and dogs enjoying the lawns, he was secretly on the lookout for a place to set the net up and play.

And, not far away from the meadow where we see Shakespeare every year, he did just that! Within minutes we had the net up, coats off, and were having the first game of the season! Hooray!

Of course, it took all of us some time before we remembered how long the rackets make our arms, and Liza had never played at all. But Uncle David figured out a way for her to serve successfully, and we all had a great time.

Back at the house, we chatted, read stories, made dinner, and ate….. and ate some more.

i will tell you more about our adventures tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Pi Day

Dear Liza,

Pi is a very special number. It is usually written 3.14159, but is really much longer, going on…well, we don’t know how far it goes yet.

It is useful for finding the radius, area and circumference of a circle, which is otherwise a hard thing to do. When Auntie Katie was in high school, there was a math team, and she made up a cheer for them that went,

“Tangent! Radius! Cosign! Sign!

Three point one four one five nine!”

You gotta love math nerds…

Yesterday, being March 14, or 3.14, we took a walk after dinner, to celebrate Pi Day. We walked a mile and a bit up to Glisan and 24th, to The Pie Spot. I enjoyed the S’mores, Bridgett the Brandied Apple, and Grandpa Nelson, The Pie Crust cinnamon roll. All, very tasty.

We drove there last fall, thinking it was a long way away, but it really isn’t. When everyone is feeling well and rested, it is a delightful trip through the neighborhood.

We passed all sorts of interesting things.

The weather was warm-ish but overcast, so there was no lovely sun, but the clouds made a nice backdrop for the rooster weather vanes on an old building.

A bicycle sculpture that really turned when you pushed it reminded me of the street signs down on Clinton, with their pretty bicycles.

We found “Portland Pairings”, which advertises itself as Portland’s weirdest wine shop, and from the looks of the sign, they may be right! We also passed the still functioning 1940s style Coca Cola syrup factory, painted white and red, looking all vintage and wonderful.

When we got home, we were tired, happy, and full of pie!


Grandma Judy

Another Layer of Story

Mary Pickford, my model for Margaret

Dear Liza,

I love the way my story is growing! It started out just having one character; a terribly shy ten year old girl named Clara. Then, I decided she needed a best friend, who is bookish but confident Cynthia. Then, a resourceful Eastside counterpart named Henry, and his artistic best friend, Frank.

But every story needs a villain! Draco Malfoy, Lex Luthor, Snidely Whiplash, whoever. Every hero needs a villain to test their mettle and allow them to grow. My villain’s name is Margaret.

I found a photo of Mary Pickford as a child and saw my villain in her well-tended, dissatisfied expression. She has a lot, but it’s not enough, and if you have more, she will make you suffer for it. And if you have less, she will tease you about it.

As I wrote more, Grandpa Nelson said she needed her own chapters. So now, sprinkled between the chapters about Clara and Henry are what I am calling “Margaret interludes”, scenes that give you an insight into our villain and her home life.

Of course, a new character means more research. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be done! But I think the only way this story will fail is if I give up on it. And THAT isn’t going to happen.

See you this weekend, sweetie!


Grandma Judy

Yes, Spring!

This week, our temperatures have started moving step by step from the low 40s toward the 50s! Because of the time change, it is even light in the evening, and we went for a walk after dinner last night and I didn’t need gloves or a scarf. Auntie Bridgett even wore her sunglasses.

And just as I am getting more confident in the warmth, so are the flowers. Crocus, jonquils, and even some trees are budding. I keep waiting for Willie, the baby dawn redwood that was planted in Laurelhurst Park, to sprout his first new leaves.

And, yes, romance is in the air on Firwood Lake. Robins and ducks are chasing each other around, flapping and acting like misguided missiles. We keep creating dialogue for them…

“Edna! I love you!”

“Leave me alone, Sheldon, for goodness sakes!”

“But I love you!”

“Stop splashing me, Sheldon!”

I hope the weather stays nice and warm for this weekend, so we can all have some adventures while you are in town.

Cousins in Town

Dear Liza,

This weekend, two of Grandpa Nelson’s came to Portland to visit. Cousin Ann is a massage therapist in Kent, Washington, and her sister Carol does the same job in Oxnard, California.

Of course, they wanted to see our new home, so we dusted and tidied up, and had nice long chats catching up on their lives and those of their five brothers and sisters and their parents, Grandpa Nelson’s Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Paul. Then we headed down a block down on Belmont to Suzette, our local crepe place… actually, one of our local crepe places…but it’s the closest. The food was tasty and the atmosphere, as always, was friendly and comfortable. We stayed long after we had finished eating, just chatting away.

But we did need to get moving, because the cousins also wanted to see Auntie Katie’s bookstore, Books with Pictures, and her NEW, gonna-be bookstore, which, for now, is called “Building for Books” to differentiate it from the actual shop. Auntie Katie hopes to open it and give it its proper name by mid-May.

When we got there, we found six people, plus Katie, doing all sorts of work. A mother and daughter team were taping and masking windows so the walls could be painted. A burly fellow was trying to pick the lock of a door (from the inside) that had been locked years ago and the key lost. Another man was spackling holes and all sorts of gouges in the walls, also to be ready for painting.

I know this building will get done, because Auntie Katie DOES things. And I know that once it is done that it will be successful, as well. She has great books, wonderful service and love of her customers, and her new shop is actually across the street from an elementary school! Customers just walking by, every day! Hooray!!

After seeing all the progress being made (and all that is yet to be done) we sent the cousins off to the new part of the Jupiter Hotel, up on Burnside, so they could rest and shower. This new part is called Jupiter Next and we actually visited, but did not stay here, this past summer when it was new. It is very modern and hip, and the crowd and music in the bar sort of make the whole building vibrate. even the art in the mirrored hallways is cool.

We met them for dinner in the Doug Fir, the log-cabiny looking restaurant that is part of the hotel. It was chatty but not deafening, and the food, beer, and wine were very good. Hours more of conversation and we hugged goodbye and headed home.

What a family! What a visit! Looking forward to seeing you this weekend, Liza McGeeza.


Grandma Judy

Spring! Really?

Ice in one part, water in the other

Dear Liza,

It has been a weird few days. Exciting, but weird.

First, we had blooms…lots of blooms. Jonquils, crocus, Daphnes, and jasmines, looking like they came off a Hallmark card and smelling like a perfume factory. Bright yellows and purples, in bizarre combinations, just all over the place.

Then we had snow…drifting flakes that match the lyrics to the song we used to sing in Kinderbloom, “It snowed last night, it snowed last night, the sky bears had a pillow fight!”

Then the temperature went up two degrees, and it all melted away, except for the little lake in Laurelhurst Park, half of which stayed frozen. Sticks tossed on it bounced. Frozen weeds looked like trapped Inferi. Confused ducks walked on it.

Spring is coming, and I’m sure that in the hot weather of July, I will remember this cold weather fondly.


Grandma Judy

Spring is making a good try!
Puzzled ducks