Long Beach, Washington

Dear Liza,

Once we crossed the Astoria-Megler Bridge, we were in Washington. The forest came right down to the ocean and everything felt very far away from the hustle and bustle of Portland. We drove up Highway 101 to Long Beach, where we had reservations for the night.

We haven’t checked to see if it actually IS the longest beach in the world, but the beach does go on for more than 25 miles! It is a classic northwest beach, too; flat and wide, with small ripples instead of crashing waves. It makes for very peaceful walking.

Long Beach, as it turns out, is where explorers Lewis and Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean in 1805.

There is a life-sized statue showing Captain William Clark standing by a ten foot long sturgeon, a huge fish that had been washed ashore. I loved the details of his hair and clothes! It seemed like you could just talk to him.

He wasn’t particularly chatty, however.

There were all sorts of inscriptions along the Discovery trail on the beach, telling about who was traveling with the explorers and what they found here.

York, Captain Clark’s servant, was the first African American to come to the northwest. According to the first hand accounts, York was important in making friends with the First Nations people living in the area, because his color set him apart from the ”others”, (the white explorers)making him seem less foreign.

We spent a while visiting with Capt. Clark, then continued on, leaving him with his true friends, the crows. There was a lot more to see.

And I will tell you about it tomorrow.


Grandma Judy

Stepping Away

Dear Liza,

It has been hot in Portland lately (though not as hot as some parts of the country). Also, Auntie Bridgett has been working very hard on her art fairs, an upcoming show at the SideStreet Arts Gallery, and her new Zine. We decided to take a few days away to cool off and re-charge.

So we took a road trip! Driving north along the Willamette and then west along the Columbia, we came to Astoria. This still-busy port town was founded in 1811 as a fishing and shipping port, the gateway between the US northwest and the rest of the world.

We had a nice lunch at the Fort George brew pub, enjoying sandwiches, cider, and other people’s kids and dogs, and then walked down to the wharfs.

We found an interesting installation showing the history and culture of the people from Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark who came to Astoria in the 1800s as farmers, lumbermen and fishermen. It included images of the maypole, viking ships, flags of the countries, weird and funny trolls, birch trees, and other iconic images.

This piece of advice was given by recent Astorians and can apply to all of us.

“As your ancestors’ sole reason for being, embrace the virtuous and use your gifts with purpose and generosity.”

We wandered some more along the shore and then decided it was time to cross the Columbia River for the next part of our adventure.

We drove up and up to the high point of the Astoria-Megler Bridge, then swooped down like a rollercoaster to the lowest part, just skimming the white capped waves. Whoosh!

I will tell you what we found over there tomorrow.


Grandma Judy

Auntie Katie Wins an Eisner Award!

Dear Liza,

You know how hard Auntie Katie has worked at her bookshop, Books with Pictures. She started down the street eight years ago, then moved to her current location four years ago, growing and improving all the time.

When the Pandemic hit, she shut her doors but kept the business open with on-line ordering and driving to make deliveries every evening. She hired fabulous people who know and love comics as much as she does, besides having skills in art, design, organization, website management, and advertising.

With her staff and other friends, she has created a popular, all-inclusive space that has become the center of the LGBTQ+ community. No matter who you are, you will find books that represent YOU. She has meet-ups for teen clubs, creators, and even a pre-schooler’s story time out in the garden.

In short, she has made a change for the good here in Portland. And people noticed.

This year, she won the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. This is the Comics World equivalent of an Oscar for comic book shops.Besides her years of work, there were many pages of applications and hours of preparation and interviews. It was hard!

And this past weekend at the San Diego Comic Con, she got her just desserts. Up on a huge stage, with a thousand people watching, she was handed the cherry-on-top of these eight years of hard work.

I couldn’t be prouder! Keep going, Katie!

(Well, take a well-deserved nap, first….)

Keep making the world better!


Grandma Judy

Personal Messages in Public Places

Dear Liza,

The other day while walking through Laurelhurst Park, we spotted this tree with a hand-written message taped to it. We wandered over to investigate.

It said “Flick and Clever Chris sorry I said mean things.”

Further along, we found a similar message taped to a trash can. “Flick and Clever Chris Sorry for treating you like trash. (Heart) U guys”. I can only imagine what lead to this public apology, but it might have gone like this.

During the summer, kids meet to play in the park. Maybe they are visiting in town or attend different schools, and know each other only from their play at the park. They have no way of reaching each other other than THERE. So, when disagreements happen, that is where apologies happen.

There are other instances, more adult in nature, where private feelings are expressed publicly. A series of STOP signs additions are mostly political, but give us the temperature of the neighborhood.

This stenciled graffiti on a nearby building appeared a few months into the shut down, and expressed my feelings exactly. “Take this enforced idleness to step away from the rush and do some healing.” I realize not everyone has that luxury, but being retired, I have the time.

That’s what I tried to do, and it helped.


Grandma Judy

George Rogers Park

Dear Liza,

I’ve told you about my new friend Amy who lives in Lake Oswego. She is sweet and funny and knows a lot of fun places to go, because she has lived in the area for more than 30 years!

The other day I took the #35 bus from downtown Portland to downtown Lake Oswego, and Amy picked me up for lunch.

She drove me down to George Rogers Park. I knew the name as a place for the booths of the summer Art Festival, but clever Amy drove past that part and headed down to the river, where we found this: A beautiful, restful window on the Willamette.

This was the location of the old iron foundry over a hundred years ago, and is now a quiet, beach-y place for folks to get right down to the river. Moms and kids were playing in the water and a young man was renting kayaks, canoes and paddle boards! That seemed like a really good idea…. for another time.

There are statues celebrating the indigenous people, who knew the value of this area before anyone else.

And as we walked down by the water, we saw a mermaid! Well, a young lady in a mermaid costume, anyway, and the fellow who was photographing her. I’m not sure what story they were telling, but it was a nice surprise, anyway.

I will make sure and come back to this lovely, quiet place. Maybe there will be mermaids, maybe kayaks. Who knows?


Grandma Judy

Creating Postcards Part 3

Dear Liza,

I’m making more postcards! This time I have been focusing more on who the cards are for before I make them. It turns out, if I think about a person while I hunt through my collage box, things show up that I hadn’t seen before. It is some sort of weird picture-association Jedi mind trick.

For this batch of postcards, I thought about my newest friend Amy, my old friend Rick, my French teacher Veronique, and my newly-retired teacher friend, Cynthia.

Amy lives in Lake Oswego, just south of Portland. Every time we visit her, we get stunning views of Mt. Hood. When I mentioned this to Amy, she told me that she was as fascinated by the mountain as I am.

So of course the mountain had to be on Amy’s card, as well as some images that show her love of her garden.

My old friend Rick has an odd sense of humor and a long, tangled history with religion.

For his card, I put a silky terrier’s head on top of a print of a Cardinal on his throne, placed so Frida Kahlo’s head flowers and wallpaper shows. The foil that came wrapped around Christmas pears make up the finials of the throne.

Veronique is from Belgium and loves beauty in all forms. She is multi-lingual and has been an inspiration to me for many years. This Diego Rivera painting reminded me of her. The French on her card says “You must water the flowers” and reminds her to relax and appreciate life.

Cynthia and I taught together for many years and took French lessons together from Veronique. Cynthia has a Master’s degree in library science and is a cancer survivor, and has recently retired. The many changes in her life are making things a bit hectic. The French says “There are so many things to do.”

I am having so much fun making these small, mailable pieces of art.


Grandma Judy

Tom, Dot’s and la Fete de la Bastille

Dear Liza,

As I said before, Summer days are incredibly busy here in Portland.

This past Saturday we went all over town! First, I watered my growing veggies and pulled out the under-performing radishes. I will plant some carrots in that spot this week and hope for better things.

Then we rode our bikes down to the Clinton neighborhood for brunch with our dear friend Tom! He and I taught together for about 15 years at University Park, and in moving to Portland, I accidentally moved to his hometown. Though he lives mostly in New Mexico now, he still has a house here.

We met him at Dot’s, about two miles from our place. It is a neighborhood classic, but we have never been there. It was delightful! Bright outdoor seating, wacky 1960s indoor decor, friendly service and tasty food all made for a great time.

After we ate, we headed down to Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures to show Tom the ’new’ shop. Tom has known Katie since she was five years old, and was happy to see her being so successful!

We talked, bought some books, and then all headed off in our own directions.

We had to get to Jameson Square in northwest Portland, where the Bastille Day celebration was on. It was smaller than the previous ‘Fete’ (French for Festival) in 2019. Like everything else, it is still coming back after being shuttered for two years due to Covid.

But the fountain was there, full of happy kids. The wine and Cognac were there, delicious and cold. Beautiful handmade clothes were offered by June, and hung in the shade, allowing us all to feel rich and pretty.

And the music was there, delightful French tunes sung to the accompaniment of an accordion. We sat and listened until the music ended, then caught the bus home.

The day ended with the Giants’ Mike Yastrzemski hitting a walk-off Grand Slam to beat the Brewers! Hooray! And then off to bed.


Grandma Judy

Busy Summer Days

Dear Liza,

For months this past winter, we stayed inside. We did art, read mysteries, watched movies and cooking shows, baked cookies, and petted the cat. Rain and cold and remaining Covid concerns kept us home. It’s like hibernation, but for humans. Auntie Bridgett calls it Hermitting.

Blue skies and Mount Hood from Portland’s Tilikum Crossing

Now we have the opposite situation! Summer in Portland is an absolute avalanche of activities, and there is no way to attend all of them.

jasper and Kestrel at the Chinese Garden

There are Jazz and Blues Concerts, street festivals, Shakespeare in the parks, and art shows in every gallery.

Jenn Lanier stars in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Laurelhurst Park

There are Baseball and soccer games, boat races and floats on the Willamette River.

April’s giant bubbles bring fun to Books with Pictures Comic Con

Picnics in public gardens and parks make the most of summer sunshine, and evening walks extend the fun to after dinner.

It can be exhausting. But we do try to do our part.


Grandma Judy

A Birthday Lunch in Lake Oswego

Dear Liza,

This past Monday was our friend Amy’s birthday! We headed down to Lake Oswego to have lunch with her to celebrate.

Amy lives in the hills above the lake, and there are inspiring views of Mount Hood as you make the turn to head east. Bridgett pulled over so I could get this nice picture.

It was our hottest day so far, predicted to get to 96 degrees. We knew we would be looking for shade and cold drinks. Amy lead us to Holy Tacos, where we got a table in the shade, yummy cold horchata to drink and spicy tacos for lunch. It was delicious and delightful.

There are lots of sculptures around the Plaza by the lake.

I love how they work with the landscape and buildings when you look at them from different angles.

Lake Oswego was smooth like glass, with not a single boat on it. It was awful pretty, though. Perfect for posing!

We hadn’t walked very far in the sun before it was time to cool down. We stopped at St. Honore Bakery for some iced tea and shade. Auntie Bridgett took this opportunity to help Amy learn about her birthday present, a brand new Apple watch. There are so many applications, it takes a while to know what it can do!

We chatted and laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company, like friends do. What a fine day! Happy birthday, Amy!


Grandma Judy

Random images of Mississippi

Dear Liza,

Yesterday I tried to tell you all about the big Mississippi Street Fair in Portland. But there were so many different booths, stories, people, and images caught in my camera that today I will just share some with you without much comment.

This young lady posed for my picture as she enjoyed the shade of the Hardcase Tattoo booth. They were not offering tattoos at the fair, just artwork and conversation.

This very young DJ was spinning wonderfully funky tunes on his Apple computer.

Everyone was drinking water and seeking shade.

And the big parade just kept going!


Grandma Judy