The Little Church

Dear Liza,

The Little Church

Our first house in Portland was at the corner of SE 29th and Pine Street. One block up the hill stands a building that was clearly built as a small church…. steeply peaked roof, one main room, high pitched ceiling. It seemed deserted, with no one going in or out, the only lights coming on with timers.

We wondered about this little church. Who had built it? How old was it? Who owned it now and what were their plans for it?

Well, yesterday, we got some (only some) of our questions answered. Auntie Bridgett was walking home from the SideStreet Arts Gallery and sent me a text. “The little church is open! Wanna come?” Of course I did!

Outside, I found a sign advertising an Eclectica Sale. Inside, I found Auntie Bridgett chatting with artist Catherine Rondthaler. She told us what she knew about the church, and it goes like this.

Up until five years ago, she says, it was an operational church, although Catherine doesn’t know what it was called. The attendance at the church was dwindling, and the building was sold. The young man who bought it planned, with his girlfriend, to refurbish the building as a home and live there. But the relationship fell apart and he lost interest. He is out of town a great deal and was having trouble getting anything done.

Artist Catherine Rondthaler

Catherine stepped up, volunteering to get the building to a point where it could be used for community events, but in the meantime, using it as a studio. Towards those ends, she is selling lots of delightful trinkets she has collected over the years, as well as some of her prints and other folks’ paintings.

We found all sorts of little things for Christmas stockings, and while I was taking photos, Auntie Bridgett found my prize! A vintage top hat that folds flat and springs up when you hit the brim, just like in the old movies! It fit me perfectly and…well, let’s just say it came home with us! She also found a wonderful orange briefcase for herself, into which we put all our treasures.

Classy dissident me in front of Catherine’s dissident flags

We walked home to rest up for our next adventure. More about that tomorrow.


Grandma Judy

Gearing up for Christmas

Dear Liza,


Yesterday we spent all day, in one way or another, getting ready for Christmas. First thing, Auntie Bridgett and I walked out in 36 degrees F to go shopping. Hawthorne Street, just a bit south of us, has so many wonderful, locally run shops! Asylum, Kids at Heart, Tender Loving Empire, and Memento all have really interesting items that tickle my funny bone. We had a good time choosing special things for our special people.

When the lunch bell in my stomach started going off, we knew it was time to get home. Leftover chicken and cheese made for delicious burritos to keep our spirits up.

Miles and the new tree

Then, the three of us headed off to the big quest of the day: The Christmas tree! Last year, we drove all over town looking for a lot we liked…and finally found a small lot at Belmont and 48th. We went there first this year.

We usually get a Noble Fir, but standing very tall and shaggy, was a Nordman. This was a new type of tree to us, but we liked the height and slightly careless look , so we had the nice fellow tie it to Miles’s roof and took it home.


Sneakin’ in the tree

Our new garage is narrow and pretty full, so it took some real maneuvering to get it in and upstairs…but once installed, it fit perfectly. Grandpa Nelson put up the lights and I brought boxes of ornaments in from the garage, for Sunday’s decorating.

After resting a bit, we wanted to go visit the Open Studio of our friend Nicole Crucio, who makes ceramics. We met her at an Art Show this last summer, when we were headed for Silver Falls. Nicole’s studio is in southeast Portland, in her basement, with a good sized kiln and lots of space. We enjoyed looking at her vases, plaques and paintings.

Nicole Crucio’s work by the fire

She shared her show the her friend Jeni Lee, who does wonderful acrylic paintings with raindrops!! These capture the beautifully atmospheric conditions here in the Northwest and feel cool and welcoming.

Jeni Lee and her raindrop acrylics

At Nicole’s, we also met her dog Stevie, who is very sweet and loves to show off her tricks. She does a figure eight between Nicole’s legs, rolls over, and dances. She was fun. We also ate some cookies from the Morsel Code Cookie Company, baked by a lady who wants cookies to taste good but be less bad for you! Amen to that. Very tasty, indeed.

Nicole and Stevie, showing off

Back home, Auntie Bridgett started the wrapping g of the goodies we had bought on Hawthorne ….coming to you, heading the San Diego for kidlets there, and some staying here in Portland.

Tomorrow, we decorate the tree!!


Grandma Judy

A Song for Fun

Dear Liza,


Your Mommy or Daddy can teach you the tune for this silly re-write. The Song is called “My Favorite Things.”

(Read the captions!)

First Verse:

And artists
And baseball with Pickles
Beaches with grandchildren, giggles and tickles
Kittens in fl’wer pots
And wrecks by the sea

These are the things Portland’s given to me!

Second Verse:

Art found on sidewalks and up on a tower
Hearing the voices of love’s greatest power
Old friends and new friends


And pinball for fun

All of these just since the summer’s begun!


Ghosts and mystery!
Creepy History!
Yummy food and wine….
I’m up to my eyeballs in Portland, my friends,
And I want to say…
It’s fine!


Grandma Judy