Busy Sunday!

Dear Liza,

Wearing the new fairy bands!

Sunday was another full day. As Summer comes to an end, it feels like we are all trying to fit as much sunshine time in before Autumn chases the big events indoors.

Auntie Bridgett was busy most of the day, helping host Mimosa Sunday at the SideStreet Gallery. Grandpa Nelson and I walked down to the Hawthorne Street Fair to see what was going on there. The weather was cool enough that I actually wore my jacket and hat!

The booths were a lively mix of local artisans, people with political agendas, and established businesses hoping to pull in some new clients. The more interesting of the first was a lady (whose name I neglected to get) whose company, Deja, makes lamps from old 33 mm film strips. Each lamp has film from a particular movie…my favorite was “ParaNorman”. The strips of film are hand-crocheted together to make lampshades. The lamps aren’t very bright, but are delightfully moody and I love the re-use of materials.

Re-used film lamp shade

Another a creative example of re-use was this dress made entirely out of beer bottle caps. at The House of Resource booth. Each bottle cap was hammered flat, pierced, and strung to its fellows with a slightly stretchy rubber strip. I imagine it would need an undergarment and would be very heavy, but it was wonderfully creative.

Beer bottle cap dress

A booth with a very unusual political agenda was the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. This is a group of folks who see humanity as a real blight on the Earth, the one species that seems to be making it harder for all the others, as well as ourselves. They say that fewer humans would make a healthier planet and advocate that humans stop reproducing, or, if we have already, don’t pressure our children to. The members of the movement that I met are very positive, cheerful people, who just want to make sure people understand that, when it comes to population, sometimes less is more.

Tee shirt for Human Extinction
Millie and her friends

Pets and their people are always a big part of Portland events. We met Millie, a dog who must weigh over 100 pounds, and Hollandaise, a hen who looked very well cared for.

Grandpa Nelson and I got tired and went back home, and then Auntie Bridgett got done at the SideStreet Gallery. She and I walked to the library to return some books and then went back to the fair! I was totally worn out by the time we got home for dinner. We had planned to go to Laurelhurst Park for another symphony concert, but we were done in.

I am sad to say that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and we sure had it yesterday. We slept like rocks and today are enjoying the sounds of men pressure-washing the building prior to re-painting.


Grandma Judy

Oregon State Fair, Part 3

Dear Liza,

Carol Cooper’s Faces

Even more than farm animals, junk food and local history, State Fairs, for me, are all about the handicrafts. After we had seen everything else, including pig races, we finally found the “Creative Living” building.

On the way to the quilts, I met Denise Steele and Carol Dare, who are local authors. Denise has solved an 800 year old mystery surrounding The Magna Carta, and tells about it in The Mystery of the Magna Carta  that has computer apps that make it even more interesting. Carol has written four books about women in history, like World War II nurses ( titled When the World Wept) and  the Vanport Flood.  I plan to keep in touch with them both, to enjoy their books and get advice on my own story.

After some interesting conversation, I was finally headed for my goal. The back wall of the hall was lined with quilts!  I have always loved quilts. Historically, quilts were a way of using every scrap of precious fabric, of making a thing of beauty out of leftovers.

Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam

But the quilts at the State Fair are not historic quilts, but new creations made by contemporary artisans, men and women who use new fabric, machine piecing and machine quilting to make works of art. Some patterns were very traditional, like the hand appliqued pattern Sunbonnet Sue. Others were charmingly modern, like a flamingo scene or a caricature quilt that looks sort of like Auntie Bridgett’s cartoons. They were bright and fun and made with skill and care.

Reitha Hall’s Flamingos


As far as I could see, the only quilter to use old and recycled material was Bill Crane, a quilter from Portland. He used fabric, found embroidery, and even a tuxedo shirt to make a beautiful, interesting piece of art.

Bill Crane’s delightful recycled work

What I missed were hand-quilted quilts. I noticed only two out of the hundred-plus quilts, and these used hand quilting as a bright feature of the quilt, a folksy feature to make it obviously hand-sewn. The goal of “the most stitches per inch” seems to have gone by the wayside with the availability of quilting machines. Beautiful as they are, the precise, overt machine quilting lines lack a subtlety that I value.

Rare Hand Quilted Quilt

We finally felt that we had seen and done everything we could do, and headed back to the car. Grandpa Nelson drove us home and we crashed on the couch, feeling all Oregon’d out.





Grandma Judy

Oregon State Fair, Part 2

Dear Liza,

Childhood in motion

After we had visited all the animal barns at the Oregon State Fair, we headed to the midway. The rides and junk food were delightful, but we were careful how we combined them.

Years ago, my equilibrium decided I shouldn’t ride the fast rides anymore, but I sure enjoy watching. Most of them are rides that have been around since I could, though. One vintage swing ride even bills itself as “A Michael Jackson Ride, from Neverland Ranch.” The paint job and simple construction are elegant and really take me back.

The one ride we got tickets for was the “Fair Lift”, benches on a high cable, like the sky ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. “See the fair from a chair!” Says the sign. “In the air, if you dare!” We added. It was not only a great view of the whole fairgrounds, low enough to smell the BBQ ribs and hear the music, but a chance to sit down for a full 30 minutes!

Grandpa Nelson, following the rules

Down the fair from the midway was the one room Criterion School, which was in use until 1925. It was moved here from Maupin by the National Guard in 1976 as an example of a standard schoolhouse and is currently maintained and staffed by retired educators from all over the state.

Criterion School

I enjoyed talking with the ladies and seeing the old report cards and desks, but what really got my attention were the old books! I have been trying to find curriculum materials from 1903 to use in my story, and here they were! I took lots of pictures and notes…I will be cruising old book sites soon.

Tomorrow, quilts and things!


Grandma Judy


Oregon State Fair, Part 1

Dear Liza,

Very calm sheep

Portland is only about 45 minutes north of Salem, which is the capital city of Oregon. Yesterday we all drove down to see the State Fair. Since the weather has finally gotten a little cooler, it was a pleasant day.

First, of course, was the animals. The FFA and other livestock barns are the heart and soul of any state fair. We enjoyed seeing the sheep and goats get all spruced up, then dressed in little robes to keep them clean while they waited their turn to be shown.

Very clean goats

Next door was the poultry, where Auntie Bridgett spent some time talking to the ducks and chickens. They actually seemed to be listening for a while, but were confused by her accent. She speaks California poultry, I guess.

The barns are not just big, they are historic. The poultry barn was build in 1921, the year my Momma was born, and the horse barn in 1919. Included in the poultry were pheasants, which I always think of as wild birds, but these seemed comfortable being in a pen and being admired by hundreds of strangers.

Not just a building, an historic poultry building

In the historic wooden horse arena we saw the “Showmanship” judging. This involved a few dozen horses standing, stopping, walking, and backing up. I admired the construction of the arena as well, all wooden trusses and bracing, and wondered how it would have sounded in 1919, when it was jam-packed with local horsemen  showing off their prize animals. I confess, horse shows make me miss my dad, your great grandpa Lowell. At every fair I ever went to, he greeted every horse like an old friend.

1919 horse arena

Walking out of the cool barn we found the beginnings of the dog judging. One handsome fellow was being the practice dog, to make sure the timing mechanisms were working. He was having so much fun, he kept running through his paces backward and forward, having a ball!

Extremely happy dog

By then, it was time to eat, so we went in search of healthy food! Just kidding. I had a baked potato with everything, Auntie Bridgett had a pulled pork sandwich, and Grandpa Nelson had a three course meal: Karmelkorn, a milk shake, and giant pretzel.

More tomorrow!


Grandma Judy



A New Treat

Dear Liza,

Quirky Decor in Farmhouse Kitchen Thai

Yesterday, Portland broke a record, having more than 30 days above 90 degrees this summer. It has been so hot for so long! And today, the weather changed. Yesterday’s high temperature was 93. Today it is 73. Whew!

So Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk. How nice to be able to walk and not dodge under trees for shade, or worry about if your destination is air conditioned. We wanted to try a new place for lunch, so we walked to Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine, down on Southeast Hawthorne. IMG_9690.jpg

This lovely, welcoming place is one of four branches of the same restaurant, the original being in San Francisco. It is located in an old farmhouse and uses the yard as a patio and the glassed-in porch for extra seating. We were greeted and seated and given a menu. Everything looked good, but nothing looked familiar… so we asked the manager about the food.

Vegan Fresh Rolls

She explained that this is very traditional Thai food and some was very spicy. She steered us to milder dishes and we ordered Vegan Fresh Rolls for an appetizer.

We got ginger beer and ginger tea to put out any unexpected fire.

The Fresh Rolls arrived, looking like flowers in a pond. The rolls were rice paper, veggies and tofu, tasty, fresh and bright. The pond was a delicious chili/peanut sauce that we couldn’t stop eating. Seriously, we held on to the plate and enjoyed it the rest of the meal.

Our main dish to share was Kai Yang Chicken. The large plate held a half chicken, roasted with a spicy coating, a large bowl of noodles, salad and a quarter of  cabbage, a bag of sticky rice, and two sauces; one sweet, one savory.

We were instructed not to worry about utensils, but to use our fingers to pull the chicken apart, peel a leaf off the cabbage, roll the chicken in it, dip it, and enjoy! Also, to dip the sticky rice in everything, including our sauce from the appetizer. We did use our fingers more than usual, but also the knife and chopsticks. Everything was so good!

Auntie Bridgett, patiently waiting…

The combination of moist chicken, sweet and spicy sauces and incredibly fresh veggies was so good, we ate long after we were full.

We chatted about the food and what we are working on. I started writing the new mystery version of my story this morning, and she is getting ready for her last day of training at The SideStreet Gallery, since she has become a full member! So exciting!

We finally had to stop eating and ask for a box, and we walked slowly home, feeling like happy pandas.

We walked past a house that has plums,  apples and even sweet chestnuts growing in the front yard! We were marveling at the sheer amount of food growing in this tiny yard when the owner came out and we congratulated him on it. “Come by and get some in the Fall,” he said. “We always have more than we can use.”

Hooray!! We will, thanks so much!


Grandma Judy



Another Day with Serendipity

Dear Liza,

Founded in 1909

This past Sunday we had plans. Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I decided we would drive through the country to hike around Silver Falls State Park. We enjoyed the fields of wheat, hay bales, vineyards, and grazing llamas. We were amazed at how close all this country is to the BIG city of Portland!

At Silverton, we got off Highway 213 and started out to Silver Falls, but because of a confusion of which direction to go, we needed to make a U-turn. And that’s when we got waylaid by serendipity.

Loving it!

On a narrow street, we saw cars lined up in front of an old stone gateway. This is the entrance to Coolidge and McClaine Park, where the Silverton Fine Arts Festival was being held! After about 30 seconds discussion, it was agreed that we should investigate. Bridgett saw art, I saw local history, and Grandpa Nelson saw Karmelkorn! It was destiny.

Laid out along the shady paths of this hundred year old park were booths selling every kind of hand craft. Quilts, stained glass, paintings, metal sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, hand sewn backpacks and bags. There were some wonderful “burses”, which are purses made using recycled book covers as the sides. I wasn’t able to get  a picture because of the crowd.

Mosaic artist Christine Carlyle and helpers

I wandered down toward the creek, following chalk arrows that said “mosaic fountain”. I found local mosaic artist Christine Carlyle and her band of volunteers, putting the finishing touches on a wonderful project, a refurbished wading pool. Eighty years ago, this shallow pool was created for the little kids to play in while the older ones swam in the creek, but it has fallen into disrepair.

Christine was hired by the city to create the design, which is a tribute to local beauty. The tiles were laid by more than 250 volunteers, each working on small sections. It should be done, they told me, in a few weeks. There will be the pool and a center column with a sprinkler, all lovingly created and tended to by the local folks.

The fountain’s central column, showing Silver Falls


We had brought a picnic, but there were crepes and paella, so we had those instead. The food was so good, spicy, and made by people who were happy to talk about how they do it. I may want to try some paella myself, when the weather cools a bit. There was also lovely wine and beer from Silver Falls Brewery.

Some of Linda Lu’s work

We saw many lovely things, but only two came home with us: a tall ceramic vase featuring the Portland skyline made by Portland ceramicist Nicole Curcio, and a set of pot holders by quilter Linda Lu. Practical and beautiful, these things will remind us of this day for a long time.

The silliest part of the fountain!

When we were full of food and joy, loaded down with treasure and ready to drop, Grandpa Nelson drove us home. We all found places to nap until it was time for a light salad dinner and movies, a broadcast of Finding Nemo and my newly purchased copy of Sneakers. Then off to bed.


Grandma Judy



Three Hundred!!


Dear Liza,

I started writing this blog as a way to stay in touch with you and my friends in Salinas after I moved up to Portland. I thought I would write a little, get bored, and quit….like I usually do.


But Portland is such an interesting place that I keep finding things to write about. Today, as a matter of fact, is my 300th post. Three hundred adventures. Three hundred stories.

Portland is a big city, and has big city problems, like anywhere. The housing costs are high and homeless people struggle to get by. Trash and noise can be a nuisance. And if you are driving, there will eventually be traffic that frustrates you.


But there are also kind people and missions that help the homeless folks. Groups adopt neighborhoods to pick up trash. And transit is good enough that if you don’t want to drive, you don’t have to.


And the benefits of this lovely city are enormous. Art. Music. Parks. Art and music in parks! Food and drink and coffee and pastries.


And the reason I can enjoy all of this is because I am not working. Working, besides being…well, work, takes up an enormous amount of time. Days and days of NOT getting to walk at random and stop when you feel like it. Evenings of being so tired you can’t even think of an adventure.

Being at liberty is such a joy and privilege that sometimes I feel like I’m cheating.

But maybe if I share it with you I can share some of the joy, and feel less selfish.

You never know who you’ll meet at Lone Fir Cemetery


Grandma Judy