Filling the New Art Journal

Dear Liza,

I showed you the new kind of Art Journal I was starting. It has fabric hinges and a binding you stitch up with the pages at the very end. Besides being something new for me to learn, it has a few advantages.

First, all the pages are made and decorated before they are put into the book. This means that when you are working on a page, it isn’t attached to the book yet. So if you mess it up, you haven’t got a big blot in your book, you simply set that page aside and try again. For nervous artists like me, this is very freeing.

Also, there is not a given number of pages to fill, with awkward blank bits if you run out of story or art. This flexibility is nice.

As to the content of the book, I have been thinking about the places I have lived and how I felt about them, and the places I may live in the future and the hopes I have for them.

Yep, it’s going to be a map book. Maps of houses, neighborhoods, bus routes, and imaginary places. This should come as no surprise. I love maps!

I have my first few pages finished. One is a collage of the world map, made from colored pencils, florist tissue and bits of the Portland map. I’m not sure if it will end up being Page 1 of the book, but it is the first one finished.

The second one is a watercolor of the neighborhood between our house and your favorite, the Slappycakes make-your-own-pancake restaurant.

The next page I am working on will use the Real Estate developer map of our old neighborhood in Salinas. When it is finished, it will get put in a folder and wait for the rest of the pages.

I will keep you posted!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris

Dear Liza,

My Momma, your great grandma Billie, was a librarian. This was not only her profession, but her personality. She loved to read books and tell people about them so they could read them, too. One that she told me about when I was little was a Paul Gallico story called “Mrs. ’Arris Goes to Paris.”

I liked Paul Gallico’s writing. He wrote the delightful “Silent Meow”, a guide ‘translated from the feline’; a sort of how-to book for cats on getting adopted. Later, he wrote the book and screenplay for “Thomasina”, about a cat who lives three very different lives. Good, imaginative stuff.

But somehow, I never got around to reading about Mrs. ’Arris. The other day it popped into my head, and not wanting to wait for the library, I searched IMDB and found that it had been made into a movie. Mr. Gallico had written the book in 1958 and had passed away before the movie was made in 1992, but his widow had been an advisor on the screenplay.

Grandpa Nelson found it on Youtube and we watched it. What a delightful movie! London housekeeper, Mrs. Harris, (played in 1992 by Angela Lansbury) gets it into her head to go to Paris and buy a Dior gown. She saves for three years, forgoing taking the bus and working extra jobs, and finally saves up enough to fulfill her dream.

While in Paris, she makes friends with people of all sorts, her good heart and sunny disposition overcoming social barriers. Omar Sharif and Diana Rigg play some of the people who help her, and more surprisingly, who she helps.

This is a feel-good movie of the first order, and not for the cynical. Though I know there are differences between the book and the movie, I can see why Momma loved it.


It has now been remade, with the delightful Lesley Manville as Mrs. ’arris, and I can’t wait to see it!

Looking forward to a cherry, optimistic evening soon!

Love,

Grandma Judy

May Day Walksies

Dear Liza,

According to the statistics, this past month was the wettest April in Portland’s history. Sunday was the first of May, and we went for a long walk to enjoy what we hope will be a sunnier month.

Our primary target was Eb & Bean frozen yogurt, down on Division Street. It’s about a mile and we enjoyed seeing the dogwoods and wisterias blooming like crazy.

The frozen treats were yummy, and gave us energy to think about our next goal, because none of us felt like heading home yet. We wandered south to Clinton Street and Auntie Bridgett wanted to go over the new-ish pedestrian railroad crossing. This is how your cousins gets from their Dad’s house to their Mom’s. It is impressive, and just a little intimidating. Very steampunk.

We climbed the stairs because the elevator is permanently out of order, and got some nice views of downtown to the west and Mt. Hood to the east.

It was an interesting perspective.

We enjoyed the bits of philosophy imprinted on the paving beside the train tracks.

Once we were headed west, the next goal was the Tillikum Crossing over the Willamette. We saw lots of folks out enjoying the day, and one of them took our picture!

We even got to see the Dragon Boat team out practicing for the races that will be happening later in the summer.

By the time we were across the bridge, we were pretty tired and decided that transit would be our way home. We caught the Orange Line train to downtown…

And then the number 15 home!

A wonderful hidden moss garden on a downtown tree

Grandpa Nelson’s and Auntie Bridgett’s fit watches said we had walked over five miles! Woohoo!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Au Revoir, Suzette Creperie!

Dear Liza,

I have sad news about another of our favorite places closing. Suzette, a delightfully French-feeling creperie just a block away on Belmont, is going out of business. We love this place so much, we take all our out of town visitors there.

I guess you could say they are going back to their roots. They started as a catering business and will be keeping that part. Still, we loved being in their space, enjoying the rich red walls and wonderfully eclectic bits of art and cookery.


The food, which is French pescatarian (vegetarian, except that they serve fish) is rich and savory (or rich and sweet, as you like) and not like anything we have found elsewhere.

For example, we stopped in Friday and had a gluten-free peanut butter and honey crepe, a warm ahi tuna and cannelini bean salad, and potatoes tartiflettes (roasted potatoes with mushrooms, cheese, and onions.) Basically, the whole meal was a double Parisian kiss on a plate.



A tiny bit of good news is that much of the decor that makes us so happy is going on sale, since it won’t be needed for catering.

And we brought some useful mementos home. Auntie Bridgett got one of the lamps made from Grand Marnier bottles and I picked up a heavy copper bowl. It took some rubbing with salt and lemon juice, but is now shiny enough to hang on the wall until I feel the need to make a meringue or something.

Wishing Jehnee Rains and her staff all the best. They gave this neighborhood many good years.

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Weatherford Family

Dear Liza,

While you were visiting, we hung out with the Dead People at the Lone Fir Cemetery. I took some pictures of a monument I hadn’t noticed before, and decided to do some research by way of the online Historic Oregonian website.

This is the Weatherford family memorial, with four family members buried in the one plot over the course of twenty- six years.

First is William Weatherford, who was born in Virginia in 1814. His family moved to Iowa when he was very young, and he met and married Mahala Harris in 1839. They had five children and then decided to move west. In 1852 they began the arduous six-month trek overland to Oregon. They were authentic Oregon Trail pioneers.

Once the family arrived in Portland, William set up shop as a pharmacist on Front Street, just south of Yamhill. They built a ‘small, stylish’ house at the northeast corner of Third and Salmon in downtown. Five more children were born to he and Mahala, bringing the total to ten.

William G. Weatherford, son of William and Mahala, died in 1862 at the age of 18 and was buried with his father. William drowned in the Willamette River. I haven’t been able to find out any details if his death. Was he swimming? Did he fall off a boat? I wish I knew. New information, see below.


///Weatherford, William
On the 1st inst. Wm. Weatherford was drowned at Portland, while crossing the river in a skiff, in company with several other persons. The river was rough, and the boat dipped water and went down about the middle of the stream. [Source: The State Republican (Eugene City, OR) Saturday, August 9, 1862]///

Thanks, John Hamilton!


In 1873, the family house and business were both destroyed in a great fire that consumed 21 square blocks of mostly-wooden downtown Portland. Like many, the family re-built and carried on.

The eldest son, J.W. Weatherford, became his father’s business partner and they ran the business together until his father’s death, when J.W. took it over. After the fire, he had moved to Salem to continue the business for a few years (perhaps while downtown Portland was being rebuilt), and died of a heart attack in his Portland office in 1893 at the age of fifty-one.

Finally, Mahala Weatherford, having outlived her husband and five of her children, passed away in 1906 at the age of 84 at the home of her daughter Ella Steele in the town of Condon. She had crossed the country by wagon train, founded a business and raised ten children. She took in boarders to help the family finances, and built and re- built homes. She had served her community by ministering to the poor and it was written in her obituary that she was “truly a mother in Israel who exemplified in her life all the graces which ennoble true womanhood.”

I love meeting new friends at Lone Fir!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Next Steps in the Garden at Books with Pictures

Dear Liza,

The work has continued on the garden behind auntie Katie’s bookstore, Books with Pictures. I showed you before how the planting areas were filled with rich topsoil to create low berms and beds.

On a recent Saturday, eight women and girls aged 14 to 66 (and one helpful male teenager) worked for three hours creating the surfaces of the new garden just behind Books with Pictures. There were two tampers, which are heavy tools for flattening and compacting soil, and they were in constant use. First, the original soil was raked and tamped to make it solid and even. Plastic edging was laid in and staked down.

Then interlocking gravel was wheelbarrowed in to place, raked flat, and tamped down (twice) to make sure it was perfect.

Auntie Katie, who is injured and cannot work, was in charge of quality control and keeping us all fed. She did a fine job!

Finally, pea gravel, which will be pleasant to walk on, was wheeled and raked and tamped in place.

The walkway in the garden was extended beyond the space to the parkway, which makes for a nice entry from the street through the big wonky gateway.

And this weekend, the plants go in!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Multnomah Village Part 2

Once we found our way into town and parked, we got to know Multnomah Village better.

It was founded way back in the 1910s as a town south of Portland as a stop on the Oregon Electric Railroad. The city had a school, post office, grocery store, hardware stores, all the things a town needs. But in 1950, it was annexed (that means swallowed up) by the rapidly growing city of Portland.

Many of the old buildings are still there, and the whole place (now called Multnomah Village) has been designated as a Historic Landmark, which means the buildings must be kept in their historic condition.

We accidentally had arrived on their special Earth Day celebration! There were activities at the Neighborhood House with people making birdhouses, music at the small town plaza, and lots of folks out visiting and strolling.

But before anything, we needed lunch. We stopped at Fat City, an old fashioned diner that has been in this same location and run by the Johnson family since 1976. The decor is a hypnotizing collage of license plates, street signs, and, well, just about everything.

It was busy and pleasant, with most of the folks knowing each other. The menu was standard diner fare, and tasty enough. We mostly enjoyed looking at everything while keeping starvation at bay.

We continued down the street to Annie’s Books, a store called ComeUnity, which supports local artists and donates to food banks, and more people watching. The plant shop was giving away seedlings, and Auntie Bridgett snagged me a replacement cucumber for my slug-eaten ones. They will go into the garden Monday.

And then we hit the jackpot! The Multnomah Arts Center has been developed from the elementary school of the old town of Multnomah. The school was started 1913 but soon became too small for the growing population. The expanded building was taken over by the city in 1979 and has been run as the Arts Center ever since. The Center has dozens of art, craft, drama, and music teachers. They teach hundreds of classes a year!

The beautifully decorated school is the perfect location for this sort of community focused art center. Each type of art has space for its special equipment, like 19 throwing wheels and 7 kilns for the ceramics classes and two entire rooms full of looms for the textile classes.

The murals which cover the walls above the doors speak of the community involvement. The murals were designed by Aimee Erikson and drawn and painted on canvas by over 700 volunteers, then hung like wallpaper. The cohesive, charming style put me at ease right away. I want to come take classes here!

Once we had walked all over the Arts Center, we were pooped and it was time to had home. But I will be back.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Multnomah Village Part 1

Dear Liza,

This past weekend, Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson and I went to a new place! Well, actually, it is an old place, but new to us. It is called Willamette Village, and we didn’t know anything about it. On the way, we actually got a bit lost.


We stopped outside of town to ask directions, at a building that just happened to contain artist studios! We spent the next hour visiting with the artists we met there. Diane Erickson does fascinating impressionist encaustic portraits. Her “Women with Attitude” series is amazingly fun, and many seem like someone we might know.

Brenda Boylan does beautifully realistic oil paintings. Many of her landscapes look like lots of other landscapes, but her painting of a sunny coffee shop captures so much of what we love about coffee shops that we couldn’t stop looking at it.

Finally we came upon Chas Martin. He does a type of sculpture I have never seen before, and we spent a lot of time talking, looking and just being amazed at his process and his product.

Chas uses wire to create a shape, standing it up on a wooden base while he shapes it with pliers.

Once he gets it the shape he wants, he covers it with rice paper and a polymer. This creates a three dimensional shape with a surface he can paint. He mounts the finished piece on a marble base to give it stability.

Some of his shapes stand, but some seem to float or fly. Some seem solid, but others have a transparency that is magical.

We chatted and ogled until it became clear that LUNCH needed to be in our near future. I am sure we will be back to this wonderful home of art!

Love,

Grandma Judy

A More Complicated Art Journal

Dear Liza,

I love learning how to make new things! Auntie Bridget gave me a great book called ”Making Books by Hand” by Mary McCarthy and Phillip Manna which had lots of new ways to make books. At first they all seemed really hard, but the more I looked at them, I thought, “I bet I can do that.”

I have been collecting thin, stiff cardboard to use for the covers, and this week I started. First, I cut two pieces each for the front and back covers. Yes, two pieces each.

This type of book is called a “fixed spine”. Not fixed as in ‘repaired’, but as in ’not moving’. After cutting fabric for the spine and paper for the cover, I spread glue on the front cover pieces.


I used a nice nubbly blue fabric and a Portland map for the covers of the book. The gap between the two pieces, when covered with fabric, makes a hinge that allows the spine to be fixed and the cover to open.

As with most book covers, you cut the fabric or paper about half an inch bigger, so it can fold under so no rough edges show.

As I look at the pictures, I see that I am about one-sixteenth of an inch off with lining up my cover pieces. I will go ahead and see what happens.

I glued the cover, flipped it over, and glued down the edges on the inside of the cover. Here is how the hinge works:


Once the outside was covered and tucked, I carefully cut more pieces of the map, to be the inside of the front and back covers.


And, with some pressing, the covers will be ready for the next step!


So, the covers are now dry and ready to use, and I need to fill them up. Auntie Bridgett took me to a wonderful art shop called “I’ve Been Framed” down off Powell Boulevard. What makes it special is that it sells both new and used supplies. You can buy someone’s used art canvas for a few dollars, sand it down, and have some art practice for almost nothing.

Anyway, we found heavy paper for the pages of my book and a few packets of watercolor paper for the art I will be putting on the pages. We also found some thin leather twine, and a hole punching awl, for putting the whole thing together.

I will tell you about the rest if the book when I get it done.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Garden Journal in April

Dear Liza,

It has been a weird spring of snow, sun, wind, hail, and rain. I have tried to reflect this in my garden journal.

This is my favorite two-page spread, with April 10 showing the garden as it was that day, and the dramatic change wrought by the overnight snowfall. As my accuracy improves, I am capturing the details better.

Illustrating transparent containers is hard, but they have been an important part of this spring’s garden, sheltering my sprouts from two inches of historic April snow. The bits of sunshine during the day allowed the soil to capture some heat.

And now that the freezing temperatures seem to be gone, we have rain and more rain. I am hoping for resilient sprouts and just a few peeks of sun for the next week.

Fingers crossed!

Love,

Grandma Judy