Back to the Riverside

Dear Liza,

On the way back to Portland, we all felt the need for snacks. We stopped at the very posh Lake Oswego Safeway and got coffee and pastries. I was in awe of the enormous collection of Kosher for Passover goodies! Kosher wines, macaroons, and a dozen different kinds of matzoh.

There was whole wheat matzoh, bran, rice based, and even spelt. But it was the gluten-free matzoh, Made of oat grain that made me laugh. I showed them to Auntie Bridgett but instead of laughing, she wanted to get them! Wheat based things don’t always agree with her stomach, and she thought this would be an interesting experiment. We got a box, almost choking on the five- times -regular-matzoh price tag, to have (along with Grandpa Nelson’s regular) for our Seder that evening.

High-end oat based matzohs

With our new matzohs carefully stashed, we again set off for the city. We drove north on Taylor’s Ferry Road , catching glimpses of the mighty Willamette River between buildings and trees. “Should we find a place to stop?” Auntie Bridgett asked. “Yes, please,” I said.

Mount Hood, waaaayyy across the Willamette River

She found parking at Willamette Park, which had a very busy boat ramp. Apparently, everyone agreed with us that the day was too nice to stay inside. At the park we were again treated to a show of nature and humanity that we have been missing for a long winter and an even longer shut-down.

The sweeping views of the river and parkland seemed to open up our hearts, letting fresh air in. We just sat and let the sun soak into our skin, warming us right through.

Downtown Portland from the Riverside

After we had walked along the river, visited with more dogs, and soaked up hours of sunshine, it was really time to go home. We finished the drive, then rested and cooked dinner for our first night of Passover. We said thanks for our good health, our sweet life, and our good company.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Sunny Day, Sweeping the Clouds Away….

Dear Liza,

It was so pretty out Saturday, we just had to get out in the sun!

Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson figured out what we should do. While they got dressed, I packed a picnic lunch, and we headed off across the Willamette and south toward Lake Oswego. Looking ahead on the map, Grandpa Nelson found a park we had never been to.

Fanno Creek and footbridge

We drove through a forested neighborhood with Tolkien-inspired street names like Rivendell and Arkenstone to the Durham City Park. The trees are still bare, but tiny green shoots are bulging and showing color. We found a picnic table above the soggy ground and enjoyed sandwiches and fruit in the nearly blinding sunshine. People walked by with dogs and kids, scooters and walking canes. It was a slow parade of humanity, all out enjoying the sunshine.

We crossed the footbridge over the Fanno River, enjoying the sounds of the rain-fattened stream. As we walked around the park we couldn’t get over the colors. Ruby red branches. Baby green leaves. Buttery yellow Oregon grape blossoms.

We walked until we were tired, chatting with people about their dogs. We got back in the car, and I thought we were heading back home. But life is full of surprises.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Progress in The Garden Journal

Dear Liza,

I haven’t done much work in the garden, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it! My garden journal gives me a place to put my dreams and imaginings down in a art-y, fun, not-having-to-think-too-much-about- it sort of way.

So when the rain comes down and the garden plot is all mud, I dream and draw, get out the collage glue and the watercolors, and have fun making up what I WANT to be doing.

Hopefully, by the time I run out of ideas to paint, spring will have sprung enough to where I can put seeds in the ground.

I am anxious for spring to come and to be able to watch my seeds grow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Spring Ups and Downs

Dear Liza,

Having celebrated my second lockdown birthday, I have lost some focus lately. Doing art with Ruth Inman and Jody Tockes on ZOOM makes me very happy. So does practicing French on Duolingo, and watching cool British sitcoms and documentaries. But for just a while, these were not feeding what needed feeding.

I got a bit blue. Nothing seemed fun or interesting. I had zero energy and couldn’t carry a conversation. My poor people knew I was sad but didn’t know what to do.

I did a lot of sitting and staring, or holding a book and trying to read. It felt like a light had gone out, that fun was something just out of my reach. I am lucky enough to only deal with this very rarely, and I know it will pass. It is, sort of, day by day.

I go for walks and notice spring flowers and the oddities of our old neighborhood. I try thinking about family and friends, but that just makes me sadder because of the impossibility, just now, of seeing them. I make art and learn history.

I know there is a ramp up out of this darkness, and if I just keep going, I will find it.

See you then.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A “New” Family at Lone Fir

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk in Lone Fir Cemetery the other day, in between rain showers. There were squirrels everywhere! They were being so friendly that it was a little alarming, fixing us with their little squirrel eyes as if to say, “Well, do you have treats for me, or not?”

As we stepped quickly to get pictures of the furry little guys, I noticed a set of headstones I hadn’t before. Particularly, this one.


Ollie Fliedner was just thirteen when she died “near Dallas Ogn”.
Dallas is a small town south west of here. I wanted to know more about her and her family.

The Fliedner Building

Looking in old, digitized copies of The Oregonian newspaper, I fell down the usual ancestry rabbit hole. Mr. William Fliedner was from Germany and got barber training in New York when he first arrived in America, around 1850. After moving west and failing at gold mining, he started his business empire with a hair cutting and barber saloon in Corvallis. He married Chloe Norton, who had come to Oregon in a covered wagon. They moved to Portland and did well enough that by 1906 the family was able to build The Fliedner Building, which still stands today at the corner of SW 10th.

Chloe and William, Ollie’s parents, were prominent business folks

Mr. Fliedner was prominent in local politics as well, being appointed to the Fire Commission and running for office. He and his wife, Chloe Norton Fliedner, had two children, Ollie and William Louis. Ollie, whose headstone had caught my eye, died when she was just 13. I haven’t been able to learn anything about her short life or early death.

Their remaining child, W. Louis Fliedner, named after his father but called by his middle name to avoid confusion, married Gertrude Miller. Louis and Gertrude had two children; Barbara Jane Fliedner, who later married a Mr. Farmen, and a son, yet another William Louis. This man was the most recent headstone in this family grouping.


This William Louis Fliedner was born in 1915, served in World War II, and passed away in 2009. I still need to find out more about him, but he must have been well loved, living to 94 with a nickname like “Uncle Woo Lucky”!

I love getting to know more about Portland’s history through the folks who lived here, even when information is hard to come by.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Another Landmark Gone

Dear Liza,

It has been a hard spring for trees here in Portland. With so many of our tall giants being over a hundred years old, extreme weather takes a toll.

The other day in Lone Fir Cemetery, we saw with sadness that our General Joseph Lane Tree was gone. This maple tree memorial to the first Territorial Governor of Oregon Territory had come down in a storm and been removed.

The General Lane tree in 2017, with Pioneer Roses in the background

I can find no record of when this tree was planted. It may have been an accident of squirrels or an anonymous memorial to a loved one, as are many of the trees in Lone Fir. In 2009, the Pioneer Rose Association chose it as a memorial to General Lane and listed it as a Heritage Tree, and it joined a list of more than 300 other magnificent trees in the city.

It stood in the center of the cemetery, just across the way from the memorial to the soldiers of the Civil War and the Pioneer Roses of Oregon garden. It was Heritage Tree #295, and stood 100 feet high with a spread of 105 feet. It looked like it would stand forever.

I know in my head that this sort of thing is inevitable. Trees, like humans, are living things and subject to injury and age. But they are also landmarks, survivors of the past lasting into our present to remind us of who has come before.

Remains of the General Lane tree, 2021

But in my heart, I mourn for these living monuments. I wonder what finally broke them? Was there more we could have done? What will we do to remember them and honor their life?

And seeing that these monuments can’t last forever, I become obsessed with recording what we have, right in this moment, because I know that someday I will look and they won’t be there.

This year the city of Portland has lost many monuments. The statues of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, even the Thompson Elk, have been vandalized and removed for their own protection. I understand some of the arguments against who they memorialize (except the Elk) but these statues were part of the downtown I loved and I miss them.

Time keeps sliding by. Let’s see and appreciate what we have while we have it.

Love,

Grandma Judy

What a Day! Part 2

Dear Liza,

After I had rested a bit, we continued my birthday by all working on the Gia Whitlock puzzle. It is so pretty! The colors are amazing and I love that I got to see her process on the SideStreet Arts Art Talk last week.

Then there was a delivery from our local flower shop, Flower Bomb! Grandpa Nelson had ordered a Spring bouquet. It is gorgeous! Hydrangeas, lilies, dahlias, two tiny tulips, even a Love Lies Bleeding. Sad name, gorgeous flower. The unusual color scheme of the bouquet coordinated exactly with the Gia Whitlock puzzle and Michele Maule birthday card, and looked great in our Nicole Cursio vase! It was amazing.

Bunch of flowers….

For dinner, we braved nasty weather and walked to Monster Smash, a great food truck just behind the Belmont Station tavern. We got burgers, fries, some cider and beer from the tavern, and ate in their very noisy, but socially distanced patio. It was weird being with people again, but felt good.

We got home before the storm hit, and got a delivery of an edible fruit arrangement from Auntie Bridgett’s momma Donna. That, with a little cheese, will be lunch tomorrow.

Bunch of fruit

Then, as if the day wasn’t perfect enough, Auntie Katie and Cousins Jasper and Kestrel stopped by, bringing a wonderful ranunculus in an owl planter. It will live on the porch for now because I don’t want the pretty blooms beaten up by our spring winds.

I took these lovely people to see the allotment and we agreed that they should come and help me put seeds in the ground when it gets dry enough.

Bunch of family!

Our dessert was the lovely French creations we had picked up way back at the beginning of the day from the Pix 0 Matic Patisserie. They were delicious, delightful works of art. We ate them slowly and loved every bite. Our better selves knew we should save some for later. Nope. We ate them all up!

Being well fed and completely worn out by affection and good wishes, we curled up on the couch and watched William Powell and Myrna Loy solve crimes in The Thin Man, watched an episode of Foxes Afloat blog, and wafted our way to bed.

The Jane Avril pastry looks just like her poster by Toulouse-Lautrec!

What a great way to turn 65!

Love,

Grandma Judy

What a Day! Part 1

Dear Liza,

Friday was my 65th birthday, and I had made a short list of things I wanted to do. I got to do (very nearly) all of them!

I came down to breakfast to find my Hundred Acre Wood wishing me a Happy Birthday, and Auntie Bridgett and I did Duolingo french practice, like always. Grandpa Nelson came down and I got lots of birthday hugs. It was predicted to be a rainy, blowy day, but it wasn’t going to keep me locked in.

Auntie Bridgett and I walked the mile or so down to Pix Patisserie on Burnside. Along the way, we found a huge pile of tiles, apparently the leftovers from a going-out-business shop, neatly piled on the curb. On top were three that would be perfect stepping stones for our allotment! Auntie Bridgett hefted them into a strong canvas bag we had taken ‘just in case’ and we proceeded to the patisserie.

I have intended to try some of their pastry since we moved to Portland, but it has always felt too far away, or was too crowded. During Covid, they have installed two refrigerated, high-end vending machines that allow folks to shop for pastries or fancy canned goods with zero contact! Along the way I had a nice phone chat with my niece Lyn, who was born on my 11th birthday.

We enjoyed the adventure, being mindful of the guard-gnomes, of course. Inside the little automat doors were RBG masks, a canned survival kit (with waterproof matches, three yards of cord, and other useful things) and canned mussels in vinegar, to name a very few. But we were there for the pastries!

After reading the illustrated menu, I chose the Jane Avril almond cake with raspberries, and Auntie Bridgett got the Amelie, a chocolate and hazelnut delight. We placed these in a second bag and walked home, battling the rain and the gusty winds.

We dropped off the heavy stepping stones and ate grilled cheese and onion sandwiches for lunch. Then I opened my presents! A delightful Shakespearean insult mug from your family and a jigsaw puzzle made from one of Gia Whitlock’s wonderful paintings, from Auntie Bridgett.

After some rest, we had the second part of the day. I will tell you about that tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Happy Birthday to Me!

Dear Liza,

Hey, it’s my birthday! I am a very happy 65 years old today!
I have had a very happy life. It started with fun parents….


A delightful husband….

And two very awesome kids, with a side order of grandkids and a delightful daughter in law.


Less expected but very necessary was an amazing partner in crime (and art and nonsense)….

And much beloved friends….

I’ve gotten back in touch with long ago friends…


I’ve gotten to do the job I loved for thirty years, and then retire to do a bunch of other stuff!

And I’ve gotten to travel, meeting childhood icons…. and seeing the wonders of Europe.


Every day isn’t perfect, and the world isn’t perfect (yet). But I am sure enjoying the ride!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Playing Around

Dear Liza,

With the weather being so nice and sunny, I have not been making art as much as I did when it was cold. My creative juices have been working to decide what to plant in the allotment. I have even re-designed my garden plot. Here is my new idea, with veggies planted in bunches instead of rows.

New plan for the allotment

But this morning, I got inspired. I wanted to make a flower in a different way, without actually painting a flower. I had gotten inspired by watching Ruth Inman make backgrounds using acrylic paints and old credit cards.

First, I cut a stem, a rose, and leaves from heavy paper and glued them down to the page. Once they dried, I dabbed some yellow, white and blue acrylic paint around. I wasn’t too fussy about where the dabs were.

Then I took an old credit card and used it like a palate knife, scraping the paint around a bit. This mixed the blue, yellow and white together to make some interesting new greens.

I liked the way it looked, but it needed more.

As I put more paint down and scraped it around, I began to despair. It got too dark! It lost the definition of the stem and leaves!

But when I hate a picture, I keeping working until I don’t hate it anymore. I got more delicate and laid in a bit of red and pink for the rose, using a small corner cut from the card for better control.

Better….

I was liking it better, but it wasn’t done. I knew it needed more but I had gotten wary. Was I just going to make it worse? I stepped away for a while. We had dinner and worked on the new jigsaw puzzle.

Close up of the chaotic, joyous effect!

I was in pajamas by the time I figured out what was needed. I pulled out the art supplies and worked for about five minutes, laying down a scraped bit of white here and there around the leaves. Now I liked it.

I really enjoy this new way of painting! It is unpredictable and surprises me with colors and textures. One color will cover another, or reveal it, and it makes my eyes sing. I love staring at a picture I painted and seeing things I didn’t expect.

Who knew?

Love,

Grandma Judy