Last Fair of the Summer

Dear Liza,

The Belmont Street Fair is always scheduled as the close of the summer street fair season. It is also the one closest to us, just a block down the street.

We got over early, because overcast skies are cooler to walk around under. We found Stitch guarding the west end of the fair, chatting with a person from Dick’s Kitchen. They had a bunch of tables set out on the street, which were empty.

Delightful recycled jewelry

Further along were jewelers, poets, second hand clothing booths.

Then came political parties and alternative energy companies, massage therapists and tarot readers.

Finally, the food!! Two Wahine’s Shave Ice is always a favorite of Grandpa Nelson, I had a dish that I am sure is NOT called an Ethiopian Taco (but was delicious, anyway). And Auntie Bridgett had a burrito from Laughing Planet.

One issue politics

Of course, what I really love to watch are the folks to come to see the fair. Young families enjoying chalk art in the middle of the street and out of town grandparents taking the kids out for a spin in their rented bikes make it all very Portland.

Art in the city
Brave Grandparents!
Shopping for the perfect helium pet…

By this time, Dick’s Kitchen’s tables were bustling and Stitch had moved on. The sun had come out and it was getting too warm. I found myself longing for the predicted rain, and we headed home.


Grandma Judy

Just Circles

Dear Liza,

Logo for Bend, Oregon

I don’t have anything to write about today. I have been busy, but it’s the in-my-head, working-on-the-story kind of busy that doesn’t make for an interesting blog post.

Clock in a downtown diner

My characters are getting more complicated and intense, which is good, but I am constantly amazed at how long it is taking me to see really obvious flaws. My second story, if I live to write it, has got to be easier.

Jasper getting the hang of things at the Echo Theater

But enough of that for now. On a more visual level, I have realized that I really like circles. They are complete, powerful, calming symbols for me, and I find that I take a lot of pictures of them.

Symbolic sculpture at Providence Park Stadium

Here are some of my favorites. More news next week!

Decoration on 1900s warehouse


Plate of appetizers

Grandma Judy

Auntie Bridgett’s Birthday!

Dear Liza,

Waiting for the number 20

This week we got to celebrate Auntie Bridgett’s Birthday, and it was fun! It was also the first really rainy day of the Fall.

We unwrapped presents at the house after breakfast, and Mouse helped. Gift cards for Dick Blick art supplies, a big box of very stylish postcards, and a book on color started the day right.

Mouse helps unwrap

Then she and I headed toward downtown. We stopped at two shops in the Fairhaired Dumbell, a very unusual, oddly placed building on Burnside by the river. It is built on a small lot in the middle of traffic, so you need to step quickly to get there without getting run over.

The Fairhaired Dumbell

The shops are 11:11, a high end stationary, office supplies and organizational shop. Next door was Crema, a small coffee shop, where we enjoyed a pain au chocolat to hold us until lunch.


We walked across the Burnside Bridge and caught the bus to Scrap, a second-hand art supply store that is an artist’s, mom’s, and teacher’s dream come true!

I’m going in!!!

So many wonderful, recycled materials like Scrabble letters, old piano keys and tiles, and fabrics, could make for some fabulous, and very affordable, art projects.

So many tiny things…

Science would be easier, and cheaper, to teach with new, donated vials, tweezers, and microscope slides. For just a moment I wished I was still teaching….

So many projects!!

Grandpa Nelson met us and we headed for lunch at a new place just across the street from Scrap, the Boise Fry Company, who specialize in Grandpa Nelson’s favorite food! Ironically, their turkey burger and Fun-Guy Burger (70% beef, 30% mushroom) were delicious, but their French Fries were soggy and disappointing. We met a nice server, though. Nice folks make things better.

They are serious about fries!! Just not very good at them….

We watched the pouring rain outside the shop form wide puddles around the equipment that is there to re-do the drainage system, and imagined someone saying, “I told you guys we shoulda got this done in August!”

First flooding

When the rain slowed, we took the bus home for a rest before our next adventure….Dinner at La Moule. We got dressed up and took a Lyft car south to the Clinton neighborhood. We enjoyed some nice local wines, absinthe (of course) , mussels, halibut and some REALLY good fries for Grandpa Nelson.

Auntie Bridgett with Debbie Harry and David Bowie

Sadly, Auntie Bridgett realized she had left her umbrella in the Lyft, but we will find her a new one soon.

We got home after watching a great sunset, watched baseball (Yay, Giants!) and fell asleep. What a day!!


Grandma Judy

On the Cusp

Dear Liza,

It is still a week until Fall, but the weather is starting to change. The awful heat seemed to have passed, though I expect there will be one last Indian Summer heat wave before we kiss summer completely goodbye.

The summer flowers are still blooming…. wisteria, roses, and dahlias.

Summer fruits are reaching their peak… apples, tomatoes, and grapes.

And yet, we are getting rain, lots of rain, cooler temperatures, and it’s dark by seven o’clock. Fall is on its way.

Pumpkins are ripening in the Sunnyside School garden, reminding me that we need to use up the frozen pumpkin purée from LAST fall so we can go get more pumpkins!!

When I grew up in Southern California, all my relatives there lamented the lack of “seasons”. A friend from Oregon once said the bright blue skies of Salinas were “obscene” in January. I had no idea what she was talking about.

Now I do. The seasons changing are like breathing out after breathing in, or hearing the splash after you throw the rock into the pond.

They are what comes next.

And now I understand that.


Grandma Judy

Bea is for Bend, Part 3

Dear Liza,

Raindrops and reflections on the river

While we were visiting the city of Bend, we walked to the Deschutes River, whose bend the city is built on. It is a wonderfully smooth river, at least through town. The surface doesn’t let you know how fast it is moving, but play a game of Pooh Sticks from the foot bridge and watch them scoot away!

Perfect venue for Pooh Sticks

The river, of course, is why the city is here. There was water for crops and people, power for a lumber mill, and transportation to get the lumber to the Columbia River markets. It is historically the heart of the city.

A “High Wheel”, used for hauling trees to the mill

Now, the river is mostly recreational and decorative. In drier weather, there would be hundreds of folks out on kayaks or stand up boards. Today, because of the intermittent storms, there were mostly ducks and reflections.

Duck Weather!

It was getting late, and we still had the four hour drive back to Portland, so we waved goodbye to Bend and drove past the tiny town of Sisters, through more great weather, past pointy Mount Washington, and home to a happy Mouse-cat.

The storm passes
Mount Washington

Another fine adventure.


Grandma Judy

Bea is for Bend, Part 2

Dear Liza,

Aunt Bea and me

After we got settled into the Ed Danahy Room at the Old St. Francis School, we headed off to see Aunt Bea. She is staying at the Mt. Bachelor Assisted Living Care and it is a wonderful, bright place. Carpets keep the noise down, large windows let the sunshine in, and friendly personnel make everyone feel welcome.

Aunt Bea’s apartment is on the third floor, so she has a nice view of the surrounding hills and trees, and we had a great view of the thunder storm as it rolled by, with flashes of lightning and window rattling thunder. Aunt Bea’s cat, called KittyCat, hid under the bed for a while.

Bea and KittyCat

Auntie Bridgett and I went to lunch with Bea, and the dining room was full of chatting folks. One lady introduced herself as Bea’s “bad influence”. Knowing Bea, I told her, I doubt that.

During our visit in Bend, we got to have two long visits with Bea. But it’s exhausting for her, so we headed off to tour the city.

Bend, logically enough, is built at a bend in the Deschutes River. The oldest buildings date from the early 1900s and testify to a thriving business community. The O’Kane Building was built in 1916 and is still the largest commercial building in town. The circular “Bend” logo in the windows has become a symbol of the city, reproduced on stickers, magnets, tee shirts and cards.

Window logos on the O’Kane Building

Walking down Wall Street, we stopped for a delicious dinner at 900 Wall. Delicious fresh local vegetables (the corn on the cob was so juicy I got splashed on my glasses!) and two different local wines kept us healthy and happy.

900 Wall

Public art, ice cream parlors and neon lights amused us as we wandered the quiet downtown before we returned to the Old St. Francis School.

We even indulged in the soaking pool, which is the fanciest place I ever got wet. We soaked until our muscles were tapioca pudding and stumbled back to sleep for ten hours. TEN hours.

I didn’t take pictures Of the pool, but here is a photo of the postcard.

We had more adventures the next day, and I will tell you about them tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Bea is for Bend, Part 1

Dear Liza,

Art coming in…..

I’ve told you about my Aunt Bea. She is one of my Dad’s two surviving sisters, and the one I am closest to. She was living in Corvallis when I got to visit her at Easter, and has now moved to an assisted living apartment in Bend. So, you know what that means….

Road Trip!!

Volcanic geology in eastern Oregon

The trip around Mount Hood was delightfully foresty, reminding me of all those summer vacations I spent camping with my parents. We drove hours through maples, then pines, then entered the layered volcanic plateau and lost almost all the trees. As we gained elevation we found lodgepole pines and junipers, and when we got out of the car in Bend, the air smelled of gin and tonic!

Our reservations were at a McMenamin’s Hotel, the first such establishment we have ever slept at. It was magical.

We never did learn the story behind this one!

The Old St. Francis School started life as the first Catholic School in Central Oregon. Founded by Fathers Luke and Dominic in 1936, it was St. Francis School until 2000, when the growing student population needed more space out of town.

Honoring St. Francis

Brothers Brian and Mike, the McMenamins, bought the property, added their magic, and opened for business in 2004, with a major renovation in 2016.

All the elements we love about the McMenamin’s style were there.

Our host, Ed Danahy

The history of the place was celebrated everywhere, even the names of the rooms. We stayed in the Ed Danahy room, named for the janitor of the St. Francis School, and remembered by many students as their favorite adult there. He had a sense of humor and was a good listener. We were honored to be in his smiling presence.

Father Luke in glass

Art was everywhere, framed on the walls, but also in unexpected portraits over doorways and a stained glass portrait of Brother Luke. The orbs that are a featured motif were everywhere, all hand painted and wonderful.

Hand painted loveliness everywhere

Finally, it was quirky. In the newest building, called The Art building, there were hidden rooms. When you would see a blue light in the ceiling, you needed to start pushing on the walls to find the hidden room! It was so much fun!

Hidden rooms!

We had been told of a bar called The Broom Closet. When we found it, we realized that these weren’t sweeping brooms, these were flying brooms! But the bar was there, just the same. We were amazed.

Not so much a closet as a broom parking lot!

There is a lot more to tell, and we DID get to have a long visit with Aunt Bea, but I will end here and continue next week.

And art going out!


Grandma Judy