Frozen Fog Forest

Dear Liza,

Today the snow started melting. There was a little rain and the temperature was predicted to get all the way up to 45 degrees! I had lots of work to do inside after all of our company, so I was happy to stay in and be warm.

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Snow and leaves

By the afternoon, however, Auntie Bridgett was ready for a walk, so I went with her.

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Icy Steps at Laurelhurst Park

We hadn’t been to Laurelhurst Park since the snow, because we didn’t want to slip on the ice…but we figured by now it would be gone…right? Well, not so much. There were lots of clear paths, but lots of ice, too. Some places it was very slippery and easier to walk by the bushes, where the dirt made a soft, but muddy, path.

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Dog and people at Laurelhurst Park

The fog was so beautiful between the trees and down in the ravine part of the park. There were several people out, playing with their dogs or just walking…even a young man jogging, over the ice, IN SHORTS! Some people are a little crazy, I think.

The trees were dripping from all the snow and ice that had been stuck on their branches, which got my hat wet, but I didn’t mind.

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Lamppost for Mr. Tumnus….

As it turned out, the temperature never got above 37, and will get below freezing again tonight, so the water and slush will probably re-freeze and be scary and slippery again. I am glad I got out today.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Strange Icy Magic

Dear Liza,

I grew up in Southern California, and have lived the last 30 years in Salinas, where ice and snow almost never happen. So having a few days to really get out and see what ice does to a familiar neighborhood has been fun.

First, clothing. Three shirts, long underwear under jeans, wool socks and boots, plus scarves and hats. Gloves, too,  if you want to keep your fingers.

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Footprints in fluffy Snow

Next, walking. Any kind of movement becomes very thoughtful. Since the ground is squishy or slick, and cement is hard, you pay a lot more attention to your feet…the actual placement, checking for traction every second.

This means you need to stop in order to look up, which you must do, because everything is so different. The snow that fell three days ago had changed from fluffy and soft to grainy and icy, and has melted and re-frozen a few times, making some weird shapes along the way.

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Icy Camellia Bush
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Ice on our stump

 

 

The evergreen camellias common in yards around here hold up to the ice well, even forming molds which the ice flows into. It was amazing to hold one of these!

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Camellia Ice Mold

Familiar things, like our gnomes on the back steps, take on new meaning. Not just “I’m a gnome” but “I’m a really freezing, patient gnome.” The plaster sun becomes a study in irony.

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Winter Sun

We had such a wonderful visit from Great Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle, showing off this new city that we love. We walked the neighborhoods, looked at houses, saw art museums and bookshops, ate Babydoll Pizza and marathoned Christmas movies. We are now ready for a few days of downtime before the new year.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Snow for Christmas!

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Scuffs in the snow

Dear Liza,

This morning when we woke up, snow was predicted. The temperature was 30 degrees, and there were heavy clouds, and before we knew it, there it was…the light rain became…snow!

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Gnomes at the beginning

For a while it couldn’t make up its mind to sleet or snow, but then it decided to snow. Soft, fluffy, flakes drifting down and actually sticking, making the streets, our gnomes, and everything white….Or at least sort of white.

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Gnomes at the end

We needed to make a trip to the Whole Foods a few blocks away, and it took quite a while to get there. The sidewalks were icy and slippery, so we walked mostly on the crunchy grass. Parking lots, with their expanses of asphalt, were scary and we went slowly, like awkward baby penguins.

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My mint on the porch

Once we got back in from the market, we decided to enjoy the weather from INSIDE. I don’t mind being cold, or even wet, but I don’t want to fall and break anything…that would spoil Christmas!

Of course, the same kids who play with tiny drones and frisbees in the summer were out in the snow, scooping and scraping to get enough snow to throw at each other. It was fun to watch them, from INSIDE!

 

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Kids in the snow

Love,

Grandma Judy

Family in Portland

Dear Liza,

Merry Christmas!

Your Great Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle have come up to spend the Holiday with us, and we have been showing them the town.

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Carolers at Kennedy School

The first day they were here we had dinner, then drove up to the McMenamin’s Kennedy School to show them that wonderful space and listen to the Dickensian Carolers. It was so wonderful! Every time I go there, I see new art work.

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Artwork at Kennedy School

The next day Grandpa Nelson and Cousin Kyle got dressed early and walked down to the Rocking Frog for fresh doughnuts and cinnamon rolls. Then we all walked around Laurelhurst Park, which was COLD and almost naked of leaves.

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Freezing, happy family

After lunch, we headed downtown via Lyft car, which with this many people, is cheaper than the bus, and did some shopping at Powell’s City of Books.

Then, carrying the 20 pounds of books we had bought, we walked down to the Portland Art Museum to show them the Laika exhibit. Kyle is a big fan of the Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings movies, so he was delighted. We all enjoyed it, as well…it is the sort of show you can see many times and always see something new.

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Kyle and monster from Kubo

After resting and snacking at the museum cafe, we hired another Lyft car and got a ride to Auntie Katie’s store, Books with Pictures. We shopped and visited, then we all (including Katie, who got off work) over to the Double Dragon Restaurant, at SE Division and 12th,  for dinner. It was noisy, but the food was good and sitting down was a nice break. Grandpa and Auntie Katie wanted ice cream, so we walked (more walking!) down to Fifty Licks Ice Cream on Clinton Street, where, in spite of the cold, we all ate ice cream. I had the blackstrap gingersnap…so good!

When it seemed that we had bought, eaten, and seen everything, we got another Lyft home and fell asleep watching the classic movie, The Bishop’s Wife.

What a great day!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Walking and Helping

Dear Liza,

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

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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.

 

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Soft Serve Fairy

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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