Just Thinking, Part 2

Dear Liza,

Once I was back home in Portland, I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do. I was here for good and wanted to get to know every inch of the city.

In June we went across the river to the place where the high class dead people end up, the Riverview Cemetery. Yes, one of our founding fathers’ was Henry Failing. But he made it look good.

June: Visiting High Class Dead People

In July, Grandpa Nelson and I rode our bicycles eight miles around Portland in the Sunday Parkways event. Streets closed to traffic, signs to keep us from getting lost and wonderful sunshine made it a glorious day.

July: Biking the City
August: Back to Salinas

In August, I came back down to Salinas to visit you for your Daddy’s birthday. We had a nice dinner and I gave you a pretty head wreath from the Belmont Street Fair.

September brought Auntie Bridgett’s Birthday, with brunch at The Cricket Cafe, shopping downtown, and dinner at Kenny and Zuke’s. Here she is with the critters by the Pioneer Courthouse.

September: Bridgett’s Birthday!
October: Thinking about Life and Death



In October we said goodbye to Barbara Kadden, celebrated Halloween, and did some thinking about life and death.






November saw me in San Diego to visit family, then back up in Portland to go on adventures with Jasper and Kestrel.

November: Adventures!







December is just coming to a close, and I am still figuring out what comes next. But I’m not worried. With my lovely people to love, possibilities to ponder and trees to walk under, life is sweet.

December: Beauty of the Rain


Grandma Judy

Just Thinking, Part 1

Dear Liza,

This has been an eventful year. In January, I left Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Katie and Bridgett and the cousins in Portland to come spend a few months with you and finish up teaching.

January: Dancing at my Goodbye Party

I have tried to find one photo from each month that was special to share with you, but I have too many! So I will fit in what I can.

February: Walking in the hills above Salinas
March: In the hills of Oregon
May: The Grotto in Portland

In the six months I was down in Salinas, I came back up to Portland twice…

There was always a bit of culture shock.

June: Retirement Parties

That is all the photos this writing program will let me include in one blog. I promise to continue with the rest of the year on Monday!


Grandma Judy

Christmas Day

Dear Liza,

Decorating in fancy clothes

We had a busy day on Christmas! I woke up at 6 in the morning to put the pork shoulder in the slow cooker and the cinnamon rolls in to rise. Coffee, cereal, and soon the rest of the family started trickled down the stairs. The cinnamon rolls came out of the oven in time for the second pot of coffee with Grandpa Nelson.

We opened presents and nibbled all the goodies that family had sent via Harry and David, Oh Nuts! and Pittman and Davis. Mouse enjoyed her new toy from a new shop, Mud Bay. I got Harry Potter things from Cousin Kyle, who works at a fun shop called Boxlunch.

Grandpa Nelson, enjoying the day

When Auntie Katie and the cousins came, we opened more presents, including the ones from Auntie Christy…she had made us all magic wands in her wood shop. Maple, Utile, and Walnut woods are so beautiful, and will get even prettier as we use them to make good magic. We all had fun gathering magic from the air and sending it to our family across the room and around the world.

Wands of Utile, Maple, and Walnut wood

Auntie Katie also brought a gingerbread house they had made and decorated, so we could help make it better. Some of our candy gifts ended up on the house! Later in the evening, we took a heavy mallet and totally smashed it, eating the bits. It was very dramatic!

Soul Mates and Cousins

When we had put all the food away and made sense out of the mess in the kitchen, we walked around the park (which was getting darker every second) and found a new tree that Kestrel named Falfla. It is an old lady Sycamore, and seems to have a good soul.

The Park at dusk

We talked and read and played games until it was time for them to head home, and I went to bed early, feeling like the richest woman in the world.

The gifts that make you laugh out loud

Merry Christmas!


Grandma Judy

Christmas Walks

Dear Liza,

Azaleas in December!

I know I will have lots of Christmas pictures to share with you, but they will come tomorrow. Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk to the market (who knew we didn’t have any tomato paste?) and saw some lovely things. A friendly cat came out to check our credentials.


We saw another cat in a window, looking very warm and cozy, while this hummingbird mocked her from the top of a very bare tree. There was also n early blooming azalea making the world pretty.

Hummingbird being still



We talked to a man about the tree by his door, which is blooming, in mid-winter. He said it is called a viburnum, and that he planted it precisely because in the cold dark, it would bloom and smell sweetly. There is also a Daphne bush, which we have by our front door! I look forward to all the lovely scents coming soon.







And by Sunnyside School, we found this posting of neighborhood friendliness. We just took one, because we already feel pretty full of love, with family, friends, home and hearth so close.


Grandma Judy

Zoolights 2018

Dear Liza,

At Zoolights

Merry Christmas!! I hope you and your Mommy and Daddy have a fun day with Baba Alla and lots of presents and good food. I will be spending the day with Cousins Kyle, Jasper and Kestrel, and Auntie Christy and Bridgett, and Grandpa Nelson.

Last night we took Auntie Christy and cousin Kyle to Zoolights. We went with Katie and the cousins last year, but Katie still has a cold and it was going to be a wet night.

First, Christy and I went to the movies downtown to see “Welcome to Marwen”, a movie that looks really sad but is really very hopeful. Steve Carell, who does the voice of Gru in the Despicable Me movies, was the star and did a very good job of making us believe an unbelievable story.

Portland’s Living Room

When the movies was over, I showed Christy around our pretty downtown…the trees wrapped in lights, and Pioneer Square (which Portlanders call ‘The Living Room’) with its giant Christmas tree.

Grandpa Nelson, cousin Kyle and Auntie Bridgett met us there and we got on the train to the zoo. It was cold and damp, but not raining…..yet.

Before the Rain

As we got into the zoo, it began, and kept raining all night. We had brought umbrellas and hats, gloves and coats, but I could feel my feet getting wetter and wetter as I enjoyed the lights and dealt with crowds.

We stopped for food at the Africafe, where we usually watch the birds darting around their aviary. But they were all asleep. It was odd, being at the zoo when all the animals were not active, sort of like sneaking into someone’s house when they are away. Along with a few hundred other folks.

When we had walked the route and gotten just about as wet as we could, we caught the train back downtown….and then the rain really kicked in! Fifth Street was a river that happened to have streetcar tracks in it. Thanks goodness for Portland’s covered bus stops, or we would have been miserable.

The Zoo Train racing with dinosaurs

We were home around 7, but we were all exhausted. We changed into dry clothes, hung up the wet ones, and watched Graham Norton until we got sleepy, around 9:00. Falling asleep, I thought about how good it is to get wet and cold, get warm and dry again, and be with family.


Grandma Judy

Anniversary Celebration

Dear Liza,

Yes, that’s us!

Grandpa Nelson and I got married 44 years ago, on the Winter Solstice in 1974. We had been dating almost four years, and I had graduated high school just six months earlier. We were on winter break from the California State University at Long Beach.

The wedding was at the church I had gone to as a child, and the reception was at Great Grandma Billie’s house in Manhattan Beach. The caterer was her best friend, Millie Meyer, who ran a sandwich shop and owned a meat slicer. We acted very grown up.

When you get married at 18, acting grown up feels important.

Here in Portland yesterday, I walked the mile down to Auntie Katie’s house. She is suffering from a cold and needed a little help. I took the makings of chicken soup, got it going, did some dishes, gave Katie her lunch, and went to the market for groceries. Then I walked home and helped Auntie Bridgett clean the house.

I AM the grown up now, so pretending I am one is less important.

So, for our big anniversary celebration this evening, we will walk down to Bread and Ink for dinner and then over to the Bagdad Theater to watch the new Mary Poppins movie. The child in me will delight in Disney joy while appreciating the man who married me all those years ago, when we were so young our friends gave us giant candles and houseplants for wedding gifts because they were kids, too.

A more recent picture

Ah, perspective!


Grandma Judy

Changes in the Neighborhood

Dear Liza,img_2305.jpg

There is always something going on in our city! Just down the block, where a Zupan’s Market used to be (it closed before we moved in), a new H Mart is going in. This is a Korean chain of markets known for fresh vegetables and fresh fish, including hand rolled sushi ! When it opens, weekly shopping will go from being a car trip to a short walk. That will be amazing.

On Belmont, there are lots of fun shops and places to eat and drink. A nice clothing shop (which carries pretty clothes that just don’t fit me) is called Twill. Yesterday as I sat waiting for the bus, it was getting its front door repaired. The fellow had his ladder and power screwdriver and kept adjusting and re- adjusting, I imagine trying to get it done before the rain started again.

I spent a few hours on the fourth floor of the Oregon Historical Society, reading about Chinatown and ice cream stores in 1903 Portland. img_2320-1.jpg

When I went outside to eat some of Auntie Bridgett’s Aunt Chris’s Christmas cookies for snack, I saw a fellow up on a scaffold, doing some work above the brick patio in front of the History Museum. He was carving letters into the concrete building, (which was noisy, but really cool to see) declaring the brick area in front the Jin and Juliann Park Plaza. I don’t know who the Parks are, but they must have given a lot of money to the Historical Society, for which I am grateful.

Always something new in Portland!

Love, Grandma Judy