Dear Liza,

I am feeling better! Yesterday evening I walked around the block, did laundry, and even took the trash out. I will live!

Two years ago today

Feeling so good, I will spend today making soup for Auntie Bridgett (who isn’t well yet), walking to do some errands and working on the story. But this morning, I was wondering what I was doing two years ago today. Do you remember?

I was packing up to come down to Salinas, to live with you for my last few months of teaching. That was the strangest thing…. leaving my home here in Portland to live in your home there, going back to a job I’d done for almost thirty years… Getting to see you every afternoon but having to work every day… such an odd combination of new and old, normal and weird.

Adventures with the Panther

And now I am retired, not getting up at six o’clock to teach until three and work until four; snacking when I want, reading what I want, walking where I want. I feel very spoiled.

And, except for missing my adventures with you, I’m okay with that.


Grandma Judy

European Dreaming’

Dear Liza,

I still have my cold, which means I am napping about five hours a day. But in between cups of tea, chicken soup and the naps, I am thinking about our next trip to Europe.

Christmas decorations in Paris

The last time we were in Europe was the winter of 2014 -2015. We spent a cold, bright Christmas in Paris and took the train north through Ghent and into Amsterdam for New Year’s Eve. We visited the Christmas market in Cologne and wandered sparkly streets in Strasbourg.

Auntie Bridgett made us a lovely Christmas in our apartment

That cold winter trip had been an experiment. Grandpa Nelson’s company was planning on sending him to Europe long term, and we had to know: Would we be happy in that sort of cold? Turns out, we would, but the company changed its mind and we came to Portland instead.

Since then, I retired, Grandpa Nelson got sick and is better, and we are settled here. It’s time to venture back.

This will be a fall trip, warmer and brighter than winter, but not as crowded as summer. We are blocking out our route. We are thinking of landing in Dublin (where Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett scoped out the good pubs a few years ago). We could rent a car and drive on the wrong side of the road to see ancient burial monuments and 16th century castles, eating lots of seafood pie on the way to the very southeast corner of Ireland to catch a ferry.

The ferry, which looks more like a cruise ship, would be our hotel and transport overnight to Cherbourg, France. From there we would visit Bayeux, home of the magnificent Tapestry I studied (and partially copied) in Junior High School.

From the Bayeux Tapestry website (historic cartoon embroidery!)

Afterwards, we would take the train to Paris to complete our trip and celebrate Auntie Bridgett’s birthday in her favorite city.

Happy travelers, caught in a Parisian summer shower.

But for now, I am drinking tea and spending a lot of time in the couch, looking at maps. I love illustrated daydreams!


Grandma Judy

And the Rain, Rain, Rain….

Dear Liza,

One of the unexpected benefits of being sick is feeling like a child again. Since I don’t have to be at work, I can let myself be taken care of, be a little bored, and allow my mind to wander.

Yesterday Auntie Bridgett made lunch and served it to me on the couch. It was a combination of two leftovers, (kale salad and roasted chicken) and it was delicious, warm and spicy. What made it even more special was the serving tray.

I bought this tray years ago at Disneyland. Your Daddy David and Auntie Katie were too old for it, but it was so charming and sweet that I bought it for ME.

And of course, seeing Winnie the Pooh when it is all rainy outside means I have had the Rain Song from Winnie the Pooh tripping through my head.

If you don’t know it, go to YouTube or ask Alexa to sing it to you. It was written by the Disney team of Richard and Robert Sherman, and here are the lyrics:

The rain rain rain came down down down In rushing, rising riv’lets,
‘Til the river crept out of its bed And crept right into Piglet’s!
Poor Piglet, he was frightened with quite a rightful fright.
And so, in desperation a message he did write.

(H-h-help! Piglet. (Me)

He placed it in a bottle and it floated out of sight.
And the rain rain rain came down down down so Piglet started bailing.
He was unaware, atop his chair, while bailing he was sailing!
And the rain rain rain came down down down and the flood rose up up upper.
Pooh, too, was caught and so he thought, “I must rescue my supper!”
Ten honey pots he rescued, enough to see him through,
But as he sopped up his supper, The river sopped up Pooh!
And the water twirled and tossed him In a honey pot canoe!
The rain rain rain came down down down…

Off to take a nap for now,


Grandma Judy

Sick-y New Year!

Dear Liza,

Cold, wet Portland

Well, between the wonderful company, too many sweets, and walking in the rain, I have managed to start 2020 with a lousy cold. I am being well taken care of. Grandpa Nelson went out and got me dinner so I didn’t have to cook, and Auntie Bridgett has made me lots of tea and even baked cookies for First Friday at the SudeStreet Arts Gallery.

Still, I hate colds. They sap my energy, so I can’t be busy. I have trouble lifting my head, much less the Christmas tree that Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett are carrying to Sunnyside School today for recycling.

Good-bye, Hermy the tree!

They fog up my brain, so I made a cup of tea and forgot to put in the tea bag. I tried to edit my story and kept looking in Chapter 21 for something that was in Chapter 12. Who needs a bug that makes you even more stupid?

But worst of all, colds are contagious. The sneezing, coughing and breathing I am doing will most likely spread this energy-sapping, stupid-making Bug to my lovely people.

So I am counting the days until I am taking care of them and they are here, on the couch, forgetting stuff and feeling lousy.

And I hope I can take as good a care of them as they have of me.


Grandma Judy

Walking to Pip’s

Dear Liza,

Dry, grey skies

The New Year is upon us, and all the good intentions that come with new beginnings. We have had some unseasonably dry weather of late, so Grandpa Nelson and I took one of our long walks.

Beautiful old Franklin High School

We walked north through the lovely, historic Laurelhurst neighborhood, with its Craftsman style homes, century old maple trees, and complicated Christmas decorations. For a while, the bright overcast made everything look like it was being filmed in black and white.

We crossed the noisy Banfield Freeway and stopped for a snack and Cold Buster juice at Whole Foods, then continued north to one of my favorite streets in Portland: Kilckitat Street! Yes, this is the same street that Romona Quimby, the young heroine of Beverly Cleary’s stories, lived on. It still has the working class, family friendly feel it had back in the 1950s when the stories were written.

When we got to Pip’s Doughnuts and House made Chai, the first thing we noticed was that the bus stop in front of the shop had been destroyed. The metal bench and sign posts were literally laying in a heap on the curb. That looked like bad news.

Uh Oh….

Looking past that, we saw that the wall of the doughnut shop had been boarded up. More bad news.

More uh oh…

But looking just to the left, we saw the good news. A line of people out the door, happily waiting for fresh cooked Pip’s Doughnuts. All was well, after all.

All is well! Doughnuts!

It seems that during the night, a drunk driver had veered off the street and into the shop, breaking a window but missing the door, the supporting pillar, the equipment, and even the guitar hung on the wall. It could have been a disaster, but it was mostly an inconvenience to the owners.

More good news! People love Pip’s, and hundreds came by to make sure the business continued. They are the sort of ecologically- conscious, community- centeric business that help make Portland what it is.

We enjoyed way too many doughnuts, then headed back towards home.

Not so bad inside!
We love their ecological and social consciousness…
And their doughnuts!

Our short winter day made for a pretty sunset sky at not quite 4:00, and we got home in time for leftover chili and some British Baking Show before falling into an exhausted, happy sleep.

Good bye, Sun!


Grandma Judy

Cousins in Town

Dear Liza,

Cousins Paul and Candace

Well, it sure has been a holiday full of family!

This past weekend, after Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle left for home, we got a call from Grandpa Nelson’s Cousin Paul and his wife, Candace. They were in town to visit friends, and wanted to meet us for a Portland breakfast and see Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books with Pictures.

Me, Auntie Katie, Grandpa Nelson, and Paul in the shop

We met them at Pine State Biscuits down on Division Street, just a few blocks from Auntie Katie’s place. I’ve eaten their biscuits before, with jam, and wanted to try their gravy, as well. They were delicious!

I was so busy eating that I forgot to take pictures.

Auntie Katie came by to eat with us and catch up on family news before heading off to open the shop at 10:00. We followed along, and spent a fun hour looking at books and visiting on the comfy couch in the shop.

When we had talked ourselves out, they headed off and we headed for home. What a lovely morning.


Grandma Judy

Bistro Agnes

Dear Liza,

Bistro Agnes, sparkly with Christmas lights

Just about a year ago, we three went to the delightful French restaurant, Bistro Agnes to celebrate our anniversaries. It is in downtown Portland at the corner of SW 12th Avenue and Alder Street. We enjoyed it so much, we went back again this year!

Bistro Agnes is the perfect place to celebrate special occasions. The food, from escargots to moules mariniere to creme brûlée, are classicly prepared and delicious. The wines choices are local, Californian and French, and all good.

My loving people

The service is friendly and expert. Our same waiter, Justin from last year, took care of us expertly.

A very happy Grandma Judy

When we ran into our friend Nicole celebrating her birthday, we sent Justin on a spy mission to find out what she was drinking so we could send her another as a birthday surprise. It was a happy conspiracy which got her absinthe frappe!

We enjoy the decor and mood of the place, which is very French and politely chatty, but not loud. Although we could hear the other people, no one’s conversation overpowered the place. This is the usual in France, but sadly, not always the case in the U.S.

Cognac for dessert!

We finished our meal with ice cream and coffee, and a cognac for Auntie Bridgett. We bundled up and were home by 7:30, full and cozy and happy to all be together.


Grandma Judy