Up and At It Again

Dear Liza,

Pretty Florentines!

I have always known that I am happier when I am busy. Part of why I am sad during the shut down is that I have not been able to do research at the library or go for long walks around town.

After my friend Ruth cheered me up, I woke up this morning and decided to bake some cookies. I will to get them to Auntie Katie to share with her family and deliver to some of her Books with Pictures customers on her delivery route.

Ugly, but still delicious, Florentines

I like baking, and the good thing about baking fancy cookies like Florentines is, even when they are too ugly to give away, they are delicious! So, I cheered myself up by baking and eating cookies.

Sidewalk art

Then Auntie Bridgett and I celebrated Friday by getting take out dinner from Hoda’s Mediterranean Restaurant just a block away on Belmont. It was delicious, and enough food for lunch tomorrow, too. And we even got a short walk around the neighborhood to see the pretty dogwoods blooming.

Blooming dogwoods

I hope you are happy and helping your Mommy.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Diversions

Dear Liza,

it is still rainy here in Portland. If it isn’t raining at any given minute, it has just stopped or will soon start. Such is winter here.

The neighborhood is full of things to see…like this tiny frozen pond up on Ankeny.

Fishing frog and his frozen plastic friends

We get out every day for a walk. But these aren’t the five mile leisurely strolls of summer. Yesterday I put on four layers plus a coat, gloves and fuzzy hat to walk to the market. Grandpa Nelson bundled up to get a haircut. Auntie Bridgett shivered to and from the gallery.

Inspiration and direction

But I keep busy. I am falling back in love with my story. I am making Gingernuts from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible for a brunch at the SideStreet Arts Gallery.

And yesterday I played a Scrabble game all by myself. Not a regular game, but one where I set out to make a pattern on the board. It was inspired by our accidental, real-game situation where we used only HALF the board. “What other patterns could I make?” I asked.

Our real-game accidental pattern…

Each turn is a legal turn and the words are all real words. I had to shift a few letters, but otherwise played by the rules. And I got this .

My solo game, planned pattern.

Like I said, the fun never stops.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Looking Back, Just a Bit More…

Dear Liza,

Portland does SPRING very well!

This past year saw some big adventures, too.

Three generations! Me, Auntie Katie and Cousin Kestrel

In March, for my birthday, you and your family came up to help me keep a long-overdue promise to MY parents, to put their ashes into the ocean. We all drove over the mountains to Seaside, made a sand castle, and placed them in it. High tide would take them where they wanted to be.

David and Katie built their grandparent’s castle

A perfect Florentine

I started baking with more skill, with new equipment and confidence.

The summer came, and fall…

Leaves in Laurelhurst Park

In September we took the train to Vancouver, BC, and Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed what those cities had to offer.

Vancouver, BC, by day

Seattle by night

Auntie Bridgett kept painting, working hard as a member of SideStreet Arts.

Auntie Bridgett and one of my favorite paintings, A Paris

This year also saw the young people growing into wonderful ‘older’ people. Cousins Kyle and Jasper got to know each other and became buddies, bonding over Dungeons and Dragons and video games.

Cousins Kyle and Jasper, being guys together

As for me, I am still working on my story. It has grown from being a story about a CITY to being a story about a girl living IN a city.

My had drawn map of Portland, 1903

I never knew writing a book was so complicated, but I am learning, and I think that as long as I take time and don’t give up, it has promise.

My (at least) twelfth outline, getting more complicated and person- centered

Last year, I kept my promise to my parents. Maybe this year, I can keep my promise to me.

Happy New Year!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

No Snow, but Cookies….

Dear Liza,

Getting the butter ready…

As I write this, it is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. I stayed up half the night waiting for it to snow, as the weather service said it would. Denver got a foot, Chicago may be getting a bomb cyclone, and the Macy’s Parade in New York May have to ground the balloons. It seems our beloved Pacific Northwest is the only section of the country with no snow.

Kneaded and ready to rise!

But tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and food is always good. I am softening butter to make Snickerdoodles, proving yeast for some Amish white bread for your picky-eater Cousins, and simmering cinnamon sticks for the cranberry sauce.

Simmering away…

It is amazing how excited I got about Thanksgiving once we decided to buy the turkey pre-roasted! I can enjoy making the food I know I can do well for people I love and still have energy to enjoy the day. I can’t believe it took me until I was 63 to realize that I can hate cooking turkey and still be a good woman. Oy. Old stereotypes run deep.

Bread, and the children who love it, are wealth.

I hope you and your Daddy David and Momma Olga have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I will send pictures from our celebration tomorrow!

Snickerdoodles!

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