More Colors

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Moss on bark

Dear Liza,

 

It took me most of yesterday to get over the long day in San Francisco! I slept in, played with the cat, and in the evening we all rode the #20 downtown to Powell’s City of Books, the biggest independently owned bookstore in America.

Shopping, or even just browsing, the shelves at Powell’s is a treat. There is also a cafe in case you get hungry, and lots of chairs to sit in.

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Quince tree

But last night, we went to listen to Armistead Maupin talk about his new book, “A Logical Family”. It is about him growing up in the South. I haven’t read the book, but Mr. Maupin is funny, true, and delightful. His “Tales of the City” was made into a television series years ago and we enjoyed it very much.

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No idea, but pretty
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Ferns growing WAY up a maple tree

Today I spent the morning planning my Halloween costume. I will tell you about it soon.After lunch, Auntie Bridgett and I walked in the park and I took more pictures, because everything keeps changing! Rain is predicted to start this afternoon and rain for 5 solid days, so getting any outside time may be difficult….you need to get out while you can, as they say.

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Munchies for the Birds!
 

I hear you banged your head at school and got 5 stitches. Your Daddy says you were a very good sport about the whole adventure. Good for you! We all get a few bashes along the way, and you just need to smile, get stitched back up, and head off again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

To San Francisco

Dear Liza,

Yesterday Grandpa Nelson and I flew to San Francisco so he could have an appointment with a doctor. This was just a check up and all is well, but it was a full day.

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Sunrise over northern California

We all woke up at 3:30 in the morning (also known a 0 dark thirty) to get to the airport on time. We flew into San Francisco just as the sun was coming up and took the BART train into town. The trains in San Francisco are louder than ours in Portland, but they do the job and we didn’t have the nuisance and expense of renting (and parking) a car in the city.

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Handy dandy transit map!

After waiting and meeting with the doctor we got a Lyft car to Fisherman’s Wharf and played tourist. We took pictures, ate lunch at Ghirardelli Square, and visited Le Musee Mecanique, a building full of OLD arcade games.

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The oldest was a zeotrope (an old way of making pictures move, like cartoons) from 1927. We played skeeball and Grandpa Nelson played an old baseball game from 1936.

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Giant Crab

We saw public art (if giant crabs count) and more being created, a huge mural that is going to be Frida Kahlo being painted on a building. We enjoyed watching people swim in the lagoon, perform music on the sidewalk, and just be people, including a pair of Russian speaking grandparents in full conversation with their English speaking grand daughter. They all understood each other, but spoke in their first language. Amazing, and familiar.

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Big handsome something,  and a tree…

When we were pooped and brain dead (not enough sleep and too much out and about) we caught the BART train back to the airport and flew home. Auntie Bridgett picked us up and we finally went to bed at 9:30.

I will be staying home today and counting my blessings.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Cat Out and About

Dear Liza,

It is cold again this morning, but clear and sunny. I have two things to report that I have seen while still in my pajamas.

First, we have our first Rhododendron ready to bloom. These are magnificent plants that grow as bushes in California, but become major trees up here in Oregon. Many in the parks are 30 or 40 feet tall, and become their own ecosystem of birds, bugs, and small animals.

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Blooming Rhododendron!
Ours has been kept trimmed to “only” come up to the second story landing. While all the other plants are kicking out seed pods and getting ready to retire for the winter, the Rhodies are budding up and looking good. Here it is. I will keep you posted on bloom progress.

Second, our cat, Mouse, has been out and about exploring since the weather got cooler. She had chased a squirrel up a telephone pole, met the dog next door, and watched people coming and going.

This morning she decided to explore the ledge right outside our window. It starts out being about 4 feet off the ground, and as it rounds the corner, the hill drops off, and it becomes about 20 feet off the ground.

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Kitten out and about
The ledge is too narrow to turn around on. Mouse walked forward as far as she could, lost her nerve, and stopped. Sniffing and thinking fast, she discovered reverse gear as Bridgett squirmed and covered her eyes.

The reason this is a happy story is that kitten figured it out, came back around the corner, and sat on the ledge. She and Auntie Bridgett both caught their breath and all is well.

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Oops! Can’t go that way…
Now off to feed the kittens and hens at Auntie Katie’s!

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Art, Squirrels, and The Slide Inn

Dear Liza,

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An even cooler mosaic!

It has definitely gotten colder here. If you go out without wool socks, at least three shirts and a wooly hat, it’s your own fault if you are miserable. The sun is coming up later and going down earlier…where we were walking in 10 P.M. dusk in July, it is now dusk at 6:30 and full on dark at 7. Yesterday afternoon was some rumbling thunder and rain, but no lightning we could see.

Cleverly, Auntie Katie and her family are in Maui, enjoying so warm weather and sunshine, whale watching and sunny beaches. I am enjoying getting to know her cats and hens. The hens gave us three eggs yesterday, which we enjoyed for lunch. The recent winds knocked down their lovely sukkah, but there were no casualties.

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Fallen Sukkah

Last night we wanted to try a new place for dinner, so we headed for The Slide Inn on Ankeny and SE 24th. We arrived too early, so we had a nice walk around the neighborhood. There are some nice houses for sale, but no parking areas, driveways or garages attached to them…street parking only, which makes car maintenance hard. But the squirrels are very handsome and cooperative. There was also a very Easter Island-ish sculpture that had been dressed in mosaic.

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Handsome Squirrel

On our second go-around, the place was open. It is decorated with mid-century home decor….my mom had a clock like one of these and the kids with the really big eyes are familiar to any baby boomer. The place is run by a man and wife team and a cook, and the food is good, if a bit over-cooked. Grandpa Nelson enjoyed the french fries, Auntie Bridgett the turkey burger sliders, and me, the spaetzel and speck (that’s German noodles and dried ham). A good dark German beer washed it down very satisfactorily. I wish I could remember the name of the beer, but it escapes me. (Maybe it was the second beer).

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The Slide Inn

As we ordered and ate, the Slide Inn filled up with families and friends. The happy hour prices are good (our whole spread of food and drinks was $40) and the people are friendly, but the service was a bit forgetful. We got an order of gnocchi we didn’t order, and waited quite a while for an order of yam fries.

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My Mom’s clocks!

After dinner, we headed off to feed Aunt Katie’s kittens, do the grocery shopping, and crash at home. Another day in PDX.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

Hail, Hail!

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Roses and rainbows

Dear Liza,

The weather here keeps surprising me! Yesterday Auntie Bridgett and I walked down to feed Auntie Katie’s cats, Pixel, Pietro and Wanda. Grandpa Nelson warned us that there was weather on the way, but we headed out anyway.

There were looming clouds but also bright sunshine. We fed the kitties, then walked back, taking pictures of leaves, roses, and rainbows and chatting with a lady jump roping on the sidewalk. We had stopped in Lone Fir Cemetery to collect some more chestnuts when the looming clouds moved right over us.

The sky shook and rumbled, and the rain started, hard, heavy raindrops racing each other to the ground. We realized that ‘under a tree’ was not a good place in case of lightning so we opened the umbrella and headed up the path. By the time we reached the gate, the rain had turned to hail about the size of bb shot. The sky was throwing pebbles at us!

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Lone Fir Cemetery in the hailstorm    Photo Credit: Bridgett Spicer

We stopped by the gate, amazed at the storm happening around us. A poor jogger came by, shook like a dog, caught his breath and headed off, and several other folks found trees to shelter under. When we started walking again, the sidewalk was covered in tiny balls of ice, making it both crunchy and slippery. It sounded like Cheerios but felt like ice!

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Hail collecting all over the place
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Tiny hailstones

By the time we got home there were piles of tiny hailstones everywhere. We shed our wet things and had some warm apple cider, glad to be home and safe and dry. 

This storm, like the beauty and people of this new place, reminded me how big and interesting the world is, and how much I have yet to experience.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Sunny Rain, Rainbows, and Teddy

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Fall roses!

Dear Liza,

Today was a busy day. I was reading old newspapers online from the Oregon Historical Society, trying to find any story about Mrs. Pittock and her rose party. (So far, nothing…)

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Lovely fall colors

I got a call from Uncle Dave to see if I could come over and get instructions on how to feed their cats, Pietro and Wanda, while they are all in Hawaii for a few days, so I jogged the mile or so to their house, noticing the beautiful leaves, nuts, roses, and such, but in a hurry. So on the way home, I slowed down and got some pictures.

Even in fall, with the cold and rain, tomatoes are still ripening and roses are still blooming. The ground smells so sweet it is intoxicating. I collected another giant pocketful of chestnuts! We saw a wonderful rainbow and met some neighbors, Sarah and Elizabeth, who live up the block.

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Rainbow in the neighborhood

Back home, it was time for our big adventure for the evening. We walked up to Burnside and caught the #20 into town. Getting off at Powell’s City of Books, we were in the middle of the biggest downpour I’ve ever walked through, but we slogged a block up to Kenny and Zukes for dinner. Knishes, hot dogs, and french fries, all delicious. For something different, Auntie Bridgett had a ginger beer with horseradish infused vodka! Totally nuts, but so good!

The rain completely stopped as we ate, which was good, because we needed to walk up to The First Congregational Church on Park to enjoy An Evening with Teddy Roosevelt. This is a one man show by Jim Wiegand, a performer and historian who seems not just to DO Teddy, but to BE Teddy.

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Interior of the First Congregational Church

Mr. Wiegand was funny and true, historically correct but also delightfully current in his comments. He told of his life before, during and after his presidency, his travels, war experiences, and personal tragedies. His main message is that it is not enough to read the Word, and hear the Word, but you must ACT on the Word. Get off your duff and DO something to make the world better.

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Program for the show

He finished his show by asking the audience to all stand and sing “Good Bless America”. We all did, and we all felt better for it; for just a few minutes, we forgot the nonsense in our government and remembered that we love our country.

The bus ride home was dry but cold, and we were happy to be home.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Rain, Friendly History, and Pizza

Dear Liza,

Yesterday was another busy day. Auntie Bridgett and I took the #15 downtown just as the rain started, and walked up the hill to the Oregon Historical Society. This was her first time in the Research Library, and after she had signed in and our stuff was put away in a locker, we did our separate research.

I was hunting for pictures of Mrs. Pittock’s house on the corner of SW Park and Washington, and for information about a big party she had there in 1889. Bridgett was looking for information about a very funny KGW radio program called “The Hoot Owls”, which started in 1923. Librarian Scott Daniels helped me with boxes on photographs and folders full of newspaper clippings, and white glove to wear so I didn’t damage the old, delicate paper.

We were both fairly successful. I was able to see and sketch photos of Mrs. Pittock’s house and figure out what other buildings were on the property, but found absolutely nothing about the party. This puzzles me: Every story about the Rose Festival starts with a mention of Mrs. Pittock’s Rose Party…but no one seems to know when it happened, who was there, or what anything looked like. Did this party really happen? I will keep digging!

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A Burl

Bridgett found booklets of the silly songs “The Hoot Owls” sang on their radio show, and had a good time reading them. The producers of the show would publish the booklets and sell them, raising money to give to charity, like Comic Relief raises money today.

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Credit where due

By four o’clock, we were hungry for a snack and ready to head home. We walked up to catch the #20 home, walking down 6th Avenue, which was a new street for us. We saw some new statues and an old bank building with the letters F-A-R-G-O in huge letters across the top. Guess which bank built that?

We got home just in time for dinner, but didn’t want to cook, so after Grandpa Nelson had some dinner, we all walked down to Babydoll Pizza and enjoyed a slice and some cider, and a game of “Ghostbusters” pinball. A very satisfactory end to a lovely day.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Another bit of Burls