Walking and Helping

Dear Liza,

split show poster.jpg

By lunch time on the 21st, it was almost up to 35 degrees…so Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk.

brig and poster.jpg
Auntie Bridgett and poster

She wanted to put some posters up for an art show she is putting on at Motivasi Coffee Shop in Northeast Portland, with her friend Jack Kent, and I was happy to help.

We also looked at things in the neighborhood, like  a statue we have started calling The Soft Serve Fairy, because the big sea shell she is holding up looks like an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen.

 

soft serve fairy.jpg
Soft Serve Fairy

 

flamingo nativity.jpg
Flamingo Nativity

And on our way back from Laurelhurst Park, we saw the new, improved flamingo Nativity! It is cuter, bigger, and just in time for the solstice.

Also, this evening we are all going downtown to see A Twisted Dickens, a Christmas show at the Armory, and going out for dinner at Henry Weinhard’s Restaurant.  This is to celebrate Grandpa Nelson and I getting married 43 years ago today!!!

More winter fun!

Love, Grandma Judy

Solstice Morning

Dear Liza,

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, the beginning of winter. It was 30 degrees at 8 in the morning. So of course I went for a walk.

winter solstice fog.jpg
Freezing Fog

Two scarves, sweater, coat, fuzzy hat and gloves made the walking pleasant.

Our own tiny front yard has become soft and green with moss, and this morning it had a frosty white coating on it, so delicate it melted away when I breathed on it. There wasn’t enough water around to freeze puddles, except for a tiny bit near a lamp post.

frosty moss .jpg
Frosty moss

By the time I walked around the neighborhood, the frost was fading.

I noticed this very happy, mossy stepping stone in a yard, not far from some tiny pansies which ares till blooming in spite of the cold. These flowers are tougher than they look.

mossy stepping stone.jpg

 

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

Sushi and Christmas Cookies

Dear Liza,

Yesterday evening I walked over to Auntie Katie’s house. I carried all the ingredients for sugar cookies, thinking the butter would soften on the way. Wrong! It was 45 degrees, about the same temperature as my refrigerator.

yama sign.jpg
Yama Sushi

Anyway, once I got there, we chatted and mixed the dough, then put it in the actual fridge to chill and be ready to roll. While it was chilling, we wrapped up and walked to Yama Sushi, at SE Clinton and 21st. It is a wide, bright space, decorated with sake barrels and whimsical bits of art and fabric.

yama curtain.jpg
Whimsical decor

We ate as much sushi, scallops, bacon-wrapped peppers and halibut collar as we could hold for $37! Such a deal, and a small glass of sake, as well.

When we got back to Katie’s house, the cookie dough was ready to roll. Katie has a wonderful collection of cookie cutters, some that belonged to your great-grandma Billie, that I remember using when I was a little girl. The dough was very cooperative and we rolled and cut quickly, baking as we went.

unfrosted .jpg
Cookies (and future reading material)

Then we decorated! I have only ever done this when I was a child or when I had a child….either too young or too distracted to do very carefully. It was fun to decide what I wanted a cookie to look like and make it happen.

What a fun evening!

frosted-cookies-1.jpg
Ninja bread men cookies!

Today is the first day of winter, called the Solstice. We woke up to a temperature of 30 degrees (that’s two below freezing!) and fog. I put on the regular coat and hat, with two scarves (one for my neck and another for my face) and walked out for a bit.

winter solstice fog.jpg

As they say, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. I was grateful for the second scarf.

See you soon!

Love, Grandma Judy

Crows!

Dear Liza,

birds on wire .jpg
Resting flock

The other day I was noticing the tiny birds who somehow make a living during this cold weather. They eat seeds from the thousands of trees and bushes in the neighborhood. The bigger birds make a living, too, eating pretty much anything they can find. Pizza boxes, unfortunate critters, and fruit still on the tree make up a fine diet for them.

bird on wire.jpg
Lone Crow

This morning, I could not help but notice the crows! Living as we do between the forest of Laurelhurst Park and the Lone Fir Cemetery (which now has hundreds of trees, not just the one), we have more than our share of crows.

 

This morning, they were so loud I had a look out the window.

crows 2.jpg
Murder of Crows!

 

I don’t know if you know this, but there is a special word for a flock of crows: It is called a MURDER. That being the case, we had multiple murders on our street this morning.

Just another wonderful day in Portland.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Peacock Lane

Dear Liza,

It gets dark really early here now, as we approach the longest night of the year, December 21st.  By 4:30 I need my lit-up coat to walk out safely. One lovely thing about the early darkness is that you have more time to go see everyone’s Christmas lights!

lit peacock.jpg
History Lesson

Last night we walked east past Laurelhurst Park and Cesar Chavez Boulevard to a street called Peacock Lane. It used to be called Southeast 40th, but in 1929 the neighbors decided to give their street a special name and then live up to it.

Peacock Lane runs 2 blocks, from SE Stark to SE Alder, and every house is lit up like crazy. There are Santas, elves, Muppets, bears, deer, and even Star Wars characters, lit up and amazingly presented. It was like being at a parade, except the floats stayed still and the people did the moving.

And boy, the people!

hannuka bear .jpg
Hannukah Bear

The street was still open to traffic, so hundreds of folks had to fit on the sidewalk, and we all walked along slowly, taking pictures and enjoying the pretty lights. It was fun to watch kids’ faces light up as they recognized SpongeBob or C3PO.

lit muppets.jpg
My Favorite!

 

 

There was a small booth where neighborhood kids sold hot chocolate, and they were doing a great business. That was the only commerce on the Lane, and the neighbors are determined to keep it that way. This is a neighborhood of folks who work together and want to keep their street special.

holiday c3po.jpg
R2D2 with antlers??

There was so much car traffic that we were once again grateful that we could just walk over. When our eyes were full we walked home, enjoying other house lights, then through the misty forest of Laurelhurst Park. A mist was rising off the lake and the street lights along the path were mysterious and wonderful.

Home to snuggle down.

 

lights-in-lh.jpg
Mysterious path lights.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Belmont Street

Dear Liza,

Yesterday we went for a long walk down to Hawthorne Street, looking at a house that is for sale and getting the feel of the neighborhood. Parts of the house were very nice, but there was a lot of work that needed doing….old damp carpet in the attic indicated possible roof problems, for example, and the basement had some weird plumbing going on.

On the walk home, we left Hawthorne and walked up to Belmont Street. It isn’t as full of shops and restaurants, but it feels more livable. There are lots of lovely houses in that area, as well, so we have made a note to keep our eyes peeled.

On Belmont there are also interesting businesses. The biggest is Movie Madness at Belmont and 44th. This isn’t just an old style video store, as I had thought. It rents video, and cds, to be sure, but it is also a museum! There are artifacts used in movies, costumes, and posters. The dress Julie Andrews wore while singing “DoRe Mi” was right there on a mannequin!

Besides the wonderful costumes and things from movies, there are thousands and thousands of movies to rent, both vhs and cd format. The “Horror” section alone is two long walls, and Christmas is the whole foyer. Many of these movies are old, rare movies that you can’t find anywhere else. This is a real resource for movie buffs in town.

A few months ago, Movie Madness was going broke, on the edge of going out of business. A local movie theater , The Hollywood,did a Kickstarter online fundraiser, which made enough money to keep Movie Madness in business.

We enjoyed our walk through Movie Madness and will go back again, I am sure.

The other business we visited was Never Coffee, at 43rd and Belmont. Their decor is colorful and their folks friendly, and the coffee is good. But what cheered us up on the chilly day after our long walk was their sweet treats! They have muffins and cookies, pastries and bars. We enjoyed some spicy ginger cookies and felt much better for our long walk home.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Gearing up for Christmas!

cat tree up .jpg
Kitten showing proper respect for tree

Dear Liza,

We have the house all decorated. Most of the presents are wrapped. Cookie strategies are being worked out. Christmas is coming!

This week your Great Aunt Christy and Cousin Kyle are coming all the way from Torrance to visit us. I am looking forward to showing them our lovely Laurelhurst Park, taking a bus downtown, and maybe even going to the Lights up at The Grotto.

kitten tree down2.jpg
Baaaad kitten

But first, there has been preparation. Our kitten Mouse has helped, of course….as kittens do. She left the main tree alone, but decided a smaller one was withing her grasp…and so she grasped it. Oh well, kitten, no harm done.

Last night we snuggled down with some Bargetto pinot noir gifted us by Auntie Bridgett’s Mom and watched my favorite Christmas movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol. It makes the often dark story very accessible, and I used it for years in my third grade classroom as a way of studying story outline. Besides that, Rizzo the rat cracks me up and Michael Caine is a fabulous Scrooge.

mup-christmas.jpg

Today we are going to walk down to Hawthorne Street and look at some houses that are on the market….we aren’t ready to BUY yet, but we sure can look! We are figuring out which neighborhoods we like. So far, Belmont, Sunnyside, Kerns, and Richmond are on our radar, so we keep getting to know them.

Looking forward to seeing you next month!

Love,

Grandma Judy