Back to PAM

Dear Liza,

It has been too long since we’ve visited the Portland Art Museum. Covid restrictions made it difficult to get reservations and it was almost frightening to be in the enclosed space with folks for a while. But yesterday Auntie Bridgett and I masked up, took the Magic Number 15, and went!

The museum is currently setting up two new shows, one about Queen Nefritari of Ancient Egypt and another on the Nabis, a group of French artists. This means that a lot of the museum was closed, but there was still a lot to see. The visit was a combination of visiting old friends and meeting new ‘faces.’

This tall, narrow painting, called ”Le Petit Patissier”, was painted by Chaim Soutine in 1921 and is one of my favorites in the whole museum. The title means ”The Little Baker.” Isn’t he cute?


Another favorite is an Alexander Calder mobile called “The Gong is a Moon”, which hangs above a collection of neon words that encourage action and engagement. Auntie Bridgett couldn’t stop looking at them. Me, either!

A new piece (to me) is ”Trois Enfants en Blue” by van Rysselberghe, painted in 1901. It is a pointillist piece, in that demanding style of tiny brush strokes of different colors that was made popular by Serrault. It is a portrait of three bored little girls and seems to shimmer.

The last piece I’m going to tell you about is another new one. These ”Penny Loafers” (yes, loafers made out of pennies!!) were made by Sonya Clark in 2010.

It’s not very often you get to see puns in an art museum.

And that’s all for now!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Walking Out in the Last Day of Summer

Dear Liza,

Grandpa Nelson and I took a walk down to Zach’s Hot Dog Shack on the last day of Summer. The day was bright and warm.

We enjoyed the Morrison Street Chickens on the way, and then had a tasty Chicago hot dog and soda. Zach’s summer assistant, Haley, put on the Elvis Pandora Channel, which also includes folks like (really) Englebert Humperdink. (His real name is Arnold Charles Dorsey).

Once we were full and rested, we wandered through the neighborhood. This wonderful, colorful hodgepodge of a front yard was created by the owner, who we got to visit with.


Some of the balls are glass, and some are old bowling balls. There is even a Virgin Mary, a Hotai, and a few random ceramic animals. It is amazing.

The late summer flowers are so pretty. These tall Dahlias, which are Auntie Bridgett’s favorite flowers, are going strong.

By the time we got home, we were happily worn out.

Love,

Grandma Judy

It’s Decorating Season

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett loves decorating for any reason, and Grandpa Nelson has good ideas. This weekend, these two things combined for a fun crafty project.

Grandpa Nelson suggested a wreath for the front door that would celebrate Fall. Not Halloween, just Fall. There has been such a dramatic change here in Portland as Summer ended, it seemed appropriate.

Auntie Bridgett and I took a pair of clippers and a bag to the Blair Community Garden, where a rogue rosemary bush has overgrown its parkway bed and is crowding a parking space.

The bush had really long, straight branches, and we were done within a few minutes!

Back home, we found an empty frame from a past year’s wreath and filled it up. The rosemary branches bent easily around the circle.

Clever Bridgett added some ribbon and silk leaves, and voila! A decoration that celebrates Fall AND smells fantastic. Come October, we may just stick a few skulls and bats on this bad boy!

PS. The rest of house is looking cute, too.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Fall in the Neighborhood


Dear Liza,

Maybe it’s because our summer has been so hot and dry, but Fall is falling hard here in Portland. Leaves are falling in piles earlier than usual. The change from heatwave to rainfall seems more abrupt.

In our lovely, funky Sunnyside neighborhood, the lush flowers of summer are dying back, waiting to be trimmed into their winter rest.

Plum, apple, and fig trees are all over the neighborhood, planted decades ago by resourceful homeowners. Some folks gather them up and share them, which is really nice. One house on Taylor Street even provides little boxes to take them home!

Other folks seem overwhelmed by the abundance and the fruit just falls and rots, smelling like a brewery. Not terrible, but a terrible waste.

Piles of leaves are everywhere. They make for a seasonal carpet and art materials, as well as pulling nutrients back in the soil. But I know once it rains, we will have ‘leaf slime’ in every gutter.

So it is when summer ends. There is a melancholy, especially when it feels like Covid has cheated us of another summer’s concerts, plays, and festivals. But I am ready for Fall. The inside time and contemplation, and the creativity that come with it, are okay by me.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Arty Leaves, Leafy Art

Dear Liza,

I love learning new things! Last week, my friend and art teacher Ruth Inman showed me a way to put the beauty of Fall leaves on paper so I can keep them, send them to friends, or even scan them into my computer to use later.

First, of course, you have to collect the leaves. This gets you out of the house and noticing things, which is always good. If the leaves are wet, lay them between paper towels with something heavy on top for an hour or so.

Place dry leaves between the pages of a heavy book for a few days.

Once your leaves are flat and dry, they are ready. You will need acrylic paints, a brush, watercolor paper, and extra paper to paint and press on.


Paint your choice of colors on the back of the leaf, then carefully lay it, wet side UP, on a clean sheet of newspaper. Lay a piece of watercolor paper over it and rub to get lots of paint from the leaf to the paper. Then carefully peel the leaf off and set the paper aside to dry.

You will learn as you go how much is too little or too much. Be prepared to make a few that you don’t like until you get the hang of it.

TOO MUCH, DARLING…
NOT ENOUGH!

Putting Fall colors on randomly, you can get good effects. Sometimes, a single dot of pure yellow or blue makes the whole thing pop.

JUST RIGHT

Once your prints are dry, you can trim them and glue them onto cards. If you have a scanner, you can scan the prints into your computer and make dozens more.

I enjoyed leaf printing so much, I did a bunch more this morning!

Thanks, Ruthie!

Love,

Grandma Judy

David and Da Nob

Dear Liza,

This past evening, we got to go out to our favorite local place, The Hobnob. The evenings are getting cooler, but we sat at one of the new outside tables because of social distancing. We wore sweaters and jackets.

Auntie Bridgett and I went inside to see David, our favorite server, and order some drinks. Full of fun, stories and southern charm, David is one of those fellows who lights up the world.

As we enjoyed his conversation, I couldn’t help noticing his new ear art. When I mentioned them, he pulled them out and told us their story. A friend of his owns property in Camas, Washington, with large Carnelian deposits. David was able to chisel out a good sized piece and the use his lapidary skills to create these beautiful pieces.

See why we love him?

Besides hanging with David, we all enjoyed the sunset, passersby on 34th Avenue and glasses of wine.

When our evening out was over and we headed home, we realized that this was probably our last summer-ish evening out. Cold weather and even rain is predicted for this weekend, and Fall will start next week.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Auntie Katie Takes Her Books to the People

Dear Liza,

This past weekend Portland hosted, among many other things, The Rose City Comic Con. This is a convention for people who love comic books and the characters who` live in them. I’m sure thousands of people went. We didn’t, because we are concerned about indoor crowds in this age of Covid.

Auntie Katie, who runs a comic book and graphic novel book shop, Books with Pictures, would usually have a big table at the Comic Con. But she is concerned about Covid, too. So she took her books outside!

She posted on Facebook and Instagram to let people know that she and her books would be at the Food Truck Pod on SE 28th, just across the street from The SideStreet Arts Gallery. She and one of her staff, Kitty, showed up with boxes of books and shelves to put them on.

In the midst of the Saturday evening crowds, they set up shop. And as the Rose City Comic Con shut down across town, the crowds came to the food court to see Katie and buy her books!

It was quite a thing to see. We stuck around for long enough to buy a book and watch the crowds form, and then headed to the grocery store and the home.
What a day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Belmont Street Fair… The Last of the Season

Dear Liza,

This weekend was our closest-to-home street fair, the Belmont. It is literally one block away. The weather was warm and sunny and there were so many people out!

We saw that the food truck pod has expanded, including such interesting sounding (and smelling!) choices as Boy Howdy, Chubby Bunny, and Fresh and Funky. Portland’s food trucks are famous all over the country, and always delicious. But it was too early for lunch, and there were WAY too many people to hang about unmasked.

We continued on our way and found Steve from Oregon Raw Honey.Com. He gave us tastes of blackberry honey, which was delicious, and something called Meadowfoam honey. Meadowfoam is a cover crop with tiny white flowers that look like foam over the greenery, and the honey tastes (I kid you not) like marshmallow!! You know we got some of that! Auntie Bridgett will probably be writing to Steve so she can learn more about honey for her new comic, Auntie Beeswax.

We kept walking down the sunny, happy street, and we found Dawn Rasmussen, a local author. She lives just up the Columbia River at The Dalles, and has written a book about a wild fawn she and her family adopted. The story is called Mighty Little Thor and is written at the third grade level. It stresses respect for wild animals and making sure they stay wild, even as we care for them.

We had fun watching other people’s dogs and children, and just being out in our neighborhood. We heard some sweet music and stopped to listen to Faith and Majesty, a sister duet from Florida. They have sweet voices, close harmonies, and write their own songs. Later, I saw them out and about and told them how much we enjoyed their music, and got a proper picture.

Faith and Majesty

We stopped by the Belmont Market, which has been on the corner of 34th and Belmont for generations. Its new owners were out giving things away and meeting the neighborhood! Genevieve, Nick, and their son Wolfgang seem to be enjoying their new digs. They even carry Ruffles potato chips, Grandpa Nelson’s favorite, so you know we’ll be stopping by.

Well, it still wasn’t lunchtime. I was getting tired but was NOT ready to head home yet. Auntie Bridgett and I stopped at Suzette for lemonade and coffee and watched dozens more folks walk by. We enjoyed our purchases and refreshed ourselves.

When we got home, we had leftover birthday pizza for lunch and watched the Giants beat the Cubs. We rested and then headed out on our next adventure.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Happy Birthday, Auntie Bridgett


Dear Liza,

Our dear Bridgett got another year older last week, and we had a fun time celebrating. The day was a bit overcast and began with routine medical appointments, but we didn’t let that stop the fun.

There were packages arriving from friends and flowers from family, and Facetime with her Momma Donna and sister Esther ( and the kids, Nick, and their new dog Tucker)!

Cards, cards, and more cards…

And finally, dinner out in the open courtyard of The Kennedy School. Lots of food, wine, Edgefield Tonic Number 7, and conversation made the evening special.

Very happy, silly people….
La Femme d’Anniversaire

When we had eaten all we could hold we wandered the halls of the old school (now a delightful McMenamin’s property) and then headed home.

Life isn’t ’back to normal’, and I don’t know when it will be. When we leave the house we always take masks and consider the enclosed nature and social distancing of our destination. Covid is always on our minds. But life is still full of flowers, friends, and reasons to celebrate.

Say ”Beeeees!”

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Hob Nob Returns

Dear Liza,

Our neighborhood has dozens of eateries, pubs, bars, pizzerias and taquerias. That’s one of the reasons we bought this house…. Walkability to all sorts of goodies!

But the pandemic shuttered many of them. Some, like The Nerd Out, closed up shop for good. Others, like the Taqueria Los Punales, opened amidst the craziness and have done well with take out and outdoor seating.

But The HobNob was special. It served good casual food and drinks. It is super close (our Real Estate agent called it “staggering distance”). But mostly, the people were friendly, funny, and welcoming. It was Our Place.

With the pandemic it shut down, then tried to open again. The owner, Jason, got sick. The doors were closed and locked for months. We were worried.

And now, da Nob is back! Sunday evening, dozens of our neighbors collected at the outdoor tables (some under a newly-built patio on SE 34th) to eat, drink, and socialize.

Jason greeted everyone like old friends, Megan brought us drinks and food, and the world felt better.

I know the city is still messed up. Crazy people, both the powerful and the powerless, make things complicated and scary. But having a place to meet with friends, and seeing small businesses succeeding, gives me hope.

Love,

Grandma Judy