A Ducky Mother’s Day

Dear Liza,

Sunday was Mother’s Day. It was also almost 90 degrees F here in Portland.

Still, I was determined to spend the day somewhere pretty with Auntie Katie and the Cousins. I walked through a very pretty neighborhood full of azaleas to Ladd’s Addition and helped Katie pack a wonderful picnic. When Jasper and Kestrel arrived, we took the Orange Line train to Bybee station and walked a ways around the golf course to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.

There was a certain amount of grumbling about the heat, of course.
But we found a shady spot by the lake and settled in. We enjoyed delicious hunks of bread with creamy cheese, strawberries, and radishes.

And as we sat there, a Momma duck and her three babies swam over, hopped out just by our feet, had a grooming lesson and then fell asleep. Right there. It was magical.

And of course, when you get to witness magic, you want to share it. Kestrel quietly walked around, letting people know there were adorable sleeping baby ducks right over here, if they wanted to see them. Many did, and it was nice to see grown up people go all Gaga over the fluffy babies.

When we were full and rested, we packed up and walked around the lake. We found that there was a sale of Rhodies and azaleas, to share the wonderful plants and help support the garden. Auntie Katie found a plant for her garden at Books with Pictures.

The garden folks would haul the heavy plant to the entrance on a wagon, so we were free to make our way back. But we couldn’t carry the plant on the train, it was too heavy and the weather was just getting hotter.

We took some silly selfies and appreciated the incredible blooms, and debated how to get home. Lyft? Uber? Call home? That was it. Grandpa Nelson said he would come fetch us.

And after a very warm day and a very crowded ride home, we all got to relax in our cool houses.
It was a Mother’s Day much like motherhood itself: a bit busy, a bit out of control, but full of love and memories.


Grandma Judy

Free Comic Book Day!

Dear Liza,

Our lovely spring walk took us all the way down to Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books with Pictures! And since it was Free Comic Book Day, there were all sorts of things going on!

Auntie Katie met us, all dressed up this fabulous outfit.

Then I ran into Cousin Kestrel, who had done such a nice job painting her own knees, I asked to to put some abstract plants on my face.

I’d say that’s a real improvement!

We were there to visit, but most folks were there for comics! There were so many people there to shop and pick out their free comics, there was a line out the door. It was wonderful to see the shop so full!

We got snacks at the Underbite food truck, listened to Courage Music, and then headed home.

On our way down Clinton Street, we saw this adorable fairy village hiding in the garden of a tiny house. Portland always has such fun surprises!


Grandma Judy

Heading to Auntie Katie’s

Dear Liza,

Our weather has gotten so pretty! Almost 70 F, sunny, and just a tiny breeze. Today I got to appreciate it all as I walked down to Auntie Katie’s house.
I was there for difficult reasons, but the view was wonderful. The garden at Books with Pictures is looking good, and Nick, Kitty and the staff are keeping the shop open and running well.

There is a mighty strain of strep throat racing through Cousin Jasper’s Middle School. He caught it from his best friend’s sister, and gave it to Katie. Jasper is currently staying a few nights at Randall’s Children’s hospital getting treatment, and Auntie Katie is home on antibiotics. We hope for a good recovery for all.

I took chicken soup and made sure Katie had food and a clean kitchen to live with until she recovered. Then I got some lunch for myself from Tori’s Underbite food truck (roasted cauliflower soup, yummy!)

I headed home past the East Rose Garden of Ladd’s Addition. They are all looking good, at a uniform level of new-red- leafiness. Give them another few weeks and they will they explode with color.

The neighborhood between Ladd’s and Sunnyside is always so pretty, with the yards well-tended and explosions of color! This colorful rock garden just tumbles down the side yard of this old craftsman style house, with tall red tulips standing happily above.

Sending love to you and hope you all stay well!

Grandma Judy

Auntie Katie Wins an Eisner Award!

Dear Liza,

You know how hard Auntie Katie has worked at her bookshop, Books with Pictures. She started down the street eight years ago, then moved to her current location four years ago, growing and improving all the time.

When the Pandemic hit, she shut her doors but kept the business open with on-line ordering and driving to make deliveries every evening. She hired fabulous people who know and love comics as much as she does, besides having skills in art, design, organization, website management, and advertising.

With her staff and other friends, she has created a popular, all-inclusive space that has become the center of the LGBTQ+ community. No matter who you are, you will find books that represent YOU. She has meet-ups for teen clubs, creators, and even a pre-schooler’s story time out in the garden.

In short, she has made a change for the good here in Portland. And people noticed.

This year, she won the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award. This is the Comics World equivalent of an Oscar for comic book shops.Besides her years of work, there were many pages of applications and hours of preparation and interviews. It was hard!

And this past weekend at the San Diego Comic Con, she got her just desserts. Up on a huge stage, with a thousand people watching, she was handed the cherry-on-top of these eight years of hard work.

I couldn’t be prouder! Keep going, Katie!

(Well, take a well-deserved nap, first….)

Keep making the world better!


Grandma Judy

The Day After BwiP Con

Dear Liza,

On Saturday, Books with Pictures was FULL of people for their first annual comic con. Hundreds of people came, shopped, drew, and had a great time. The day after, however, was another matter.

The bookshop was open, but the scene was quiet and peaceful. Auntie Bridgett was by to help clean some new graffiti off the mural.

Some kids made chalk art while their Momma shopped.

I filled up the watering cans and gave all the little live things a drink.

Amarette Gregor opened up her shop, Pup Tent Flowers and Gifts, and made lovely things.

And Auntie Katie finally got to read in the peace and quiet of her own garden.

I love Books with Pictures, whatever is happening!


Grandma Judy

Finding the Silly at BwiP Con

Dear Liza,

When I was growing up, a “Convention” didn’t sound like very much fun. A big room full of businessmen talking about business. Ugh.

Comic Conventions helped change that. The Stumptown Comics Festival, in 2004, included a Comic Art Battle which was described as a “combination of Pictionary and wrestling”.

BwiPCon at Books with Pictures had lots of silly, as well.

Since it was an outside event, there were bubbles. Really big bubbles. Seeing a hundred people through the lens of a giant bubble is something I never even knew I was missing!

There were dogs.

Since it was comics, there were costumes.

There were trees, and a garden.

And sometimes there were bubbles and dogs and trees all at once!

I look forward to BwiP 2!


Grandma Judy

Comic con at Books with Pictures

Dear Liza,

This weekend, Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures was not only full of people, but surrounded by people! Hundreds of them! It was amazing.

It was the First Annual BwP (say it BWIP) Comic Con. There were thirty artist vendors (including Auntie Bridgett).

There was a book signing by comic artist Steve Lieber and a comics trivia game run by Douglas Wolk.

And finally, a wonderful talk, Q and A and book signing by comic artists Kelley Sue DeConnick, David F. Walker, and Brian Michael Bendis.

Hundreds of people shopped, played, listened, talked, and had a wonderful time.

Adding to the fun were Rob Courage, who played music on his guitar to start the day; April, who makes giant bubbles,

Paulette, who runs a digital photo booth,

Maia doing face painting, and Cousin Kestrel giving people temporary tattooes.

The vendor tables were set up around the three sides of the shop. There were all sorts of things for sale. Books, clothes, jewelry, stickers, and original art.
I will tell you more about BwiP Con in tomorrow’s blog.

What a day!


Grandma Judy

Storytime at Books with Pictures

Dear Liza,

When I was teaching, my favorite part of any day was story time. I loved holding my students captive by reading wonderful books aloud, doing all the voices and re-creating the exciting stories.

And on Friday, I got to do it again! The lovely lady who usually does storytime at Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures took the day off, and Katie asked me to fill in. We met in the new garden, spreading out blankets to sit on. It was great fun.

There were four young children and their care people, dads or Moms or grandmas, and they were delightful. There were four pictures books about dragons, and my favorites were “Dough Knights and Dragons” and “Julia’s Hiuse for Lost Creatures.” The kids leaned in to see the pictures and were so focused on the characters, it was a joy to see. They offered opinions, talked to the characters, and explained why things happened.

The summer sun was getting fierce at just 10 in the morning, and I noticed the new plantings in the garden starting to wilt. So once everyone had packed up and headed for home, I got the watering can and made about a dozen trips to the faucet and back to give all the plants a deep drink.

After all, those lovely plants need water to thrive, and they aren’t used to all this sunshine. That’s okay. We’ll make sure they have enough water to get them to October, when the rain will take over. This garden is going to grow as surely as the kids!


Grandma Judy

Happy Pride!

Dear Liza,

On Sunday Grandpa Nelson and I went downtown for the Gay Pride Parade and celebration. The streets full of happy people!

We didn’t see the beginning of the parade, but got there in time to see the women’s rugby team, some proud parents, and support groups for kids and trans people, and lots of rainbows.

The weather was drippy, but spirits were light.

There was a long, long line to get into the part of the Fair where the booths were, but we got to chat with some nice folks and watch the parade go by.

The downside of all the drippy weather was the muddy ground . Two solid weeks of carnival events (first the Rose Festival, then Pride) on the same patch of grassy ground had lead to mud, mud, and more mud. It was epic. It was deep. And I managed, somehow, to not land on my face.

Finally, we found what we were looking for: Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures booth! She was doing an absolute ton of business and only had time for a quick Father’s Day hug, but it was worth it.

As we left, I caught this accidental shot of perfectly dressed folks passing the street sign at the corner of 1st Avenue and Harvey Milk Street. Harvey Milk was the first out, gay person elected to office in California and was shot in 1978, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, by a fellow City Supervisor who didn’t like gay people. To help remember his sacrifice, a 13 block stretch of SW Stark here in Portland has been re-named for him.

What a beautifully rainbow day!


Grandma Judy

Final Touches on Katie’s Garden

Dear Liza,

A few weeks ago, Auntie Katie and her strong, clever friends got together and got the garden at Books with Pictures planted.

There were donated plants that people transplanted from their own property, as well as plants bought from local nurseries. They made sure to get plants that will grow and do well without a lot of taking care of.

There are other things installed, as well. A small stage has been built for performances, and the beginning of a stout fence to make it feel more enclosed. There is also a cool slab cut from a big tree to use as a seat.

With such a great team, everything is coming together.

I look forward to spending some pleasant afternoons in this little piece of paradise.


Grandma Judy