Hannukah Party!

Dear Liza,

After we rested from hauling the tree up over the balcony, Grandpa Nelson and I bundled up for the very cold evening and walked down to Auntie Katie’s house.

Since some streets are very dark, I wore my coat with lights in it. It makes me feel safe, and just a little bit like a neon billboard.

We enjoyed seeing the houses’ lights in the neighborhood. Some folks really go all out!

Once we got to Katie’s place, I chatted with her while she fried up a great bunch of latkes (and donuts!) and Grandpa Nelson played mini-cornhole with Jasper on the table.

We ate and talked and horsed around, and then Cousin Kestrel and Auntie Katie used her new mortar and pestle to pound dried lavender for sachets.

As we hugged everyone goodbye and headed for home, we noticed the wonderful new awnings on Books with Pictures. They will protect the books from too much sun, and keep the rain from battering the hundred year old windows.

We got home, after a very Christmas-y, Hanukah-ish day. We were pooped!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Halloween

Dear Liza,

Believe it or not, the party was only the night before Halloween! Halloween itself was even busier.

We woke up slowly Sunday after the party Saturday night, but we had things to do. Grandpa Nelson needed his booster Covid shot and I wanted to visit Auntie Katie and the Cousins. A bright fall walk through miles of leaves and spooky decorations was just the thing.

Kestrel as a mushroom fairy, in her element

It is always fun seeing what Jasper and Kestrel are up to. Sunday, of course, they were putting finishing touches in their costumes. I took some cookies down, as we had leftovers from the party and no one needs that many cookies (not all at once, anyway).

We headed out to have some fun and take pictures in the glorious sunshine. A Mushroom Fairy, top-hatted ghost and stylish Loki were very photogenic! Even Nick, Katie’s second-in-command at Books with Pictures, got into the spirit.

When we said goodbye, I headed for home, taking the number 14 bus to get me up the hill. A nice quiet afternoon on the couch was in order, then a dinner of leftover finger sandwiches and salad.

Then it was actually Halloween night! Time to go see some spooks. I love the spectacle of a street full of costumed kids running through the dark past lighted up porches. It takes me back to those evenings of my own childhood, where Magic was definitely in the air.

One house in particular went all-out, feeling more like a ride at Disneyland than a front yard! Skeletons, witches and werewolves howled and menaced passers-by. It was stunning.

By the time we had seen as much as we could see, it was time for my Sunday night art ZOOM with you, dear Liza. I had a good time, drew a fine banana split, and fell asleep pretty soon thereafter.

What a fabulous Halloween!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Pup Tent Flowers and Gifts

Dear Liza,

One thing I love about going for long walks is that you never know what you’re going to learn.

Grandpa Nelson and I headed south the other day, and ”almost accidentally”stopped at Palio Bakery in Ladd’s Addition for snacks and coffee. While we were there, we texted Auntie Katie, who came by and shared our cake. We caught up on news, and then it was time for the Cousins to be coming home from school!

Down at Books with Pictures, I found something new. Amareta Gregor has opened up her new business, Pup Tent Flowers and Gifts, out of Auntie Katie’s garage!

I asked how this came about, and Amareta said that she just walked into Books with Pictures, introduced herself to Katie and said, “How would you like a flower shop?” And she did!

Amareta’s business is mostly pop-up and delivery, but she also has display space in the garage.

After hugs and a chat with Jasper and Kestrel, we walked through the Clinton neighborhood, passing the historic Clinton Theater, where they still show The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday at Midnight.

As the weather is getting colder, these long walks will be out in hold until Spring, but I sure love walking around town!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Auntie Katie Takes Her Books to the People

Dear Liza,

This past weekend Portland hosted, among many other things, The Rose City Comic Con. This is a convention for people who love comic books and the characters who` live in them. I’m sure thousands of people went. We didn’t, because we are concerned about indoor crowds in this age of Covid.

Auntie Katie, who runs a comic book and graphic novel book shop, Books with Pictures, would usually have a big table at the Comic Con. But she is concerned about Covid, too. So she took her books outside!

She posted on Facebook and Instagram to let people know that she and her books would be at the Food Truck Pod on SE 28th, just across the street from The SideStreet Arts Gallery. She and one of her staff, Kitty, showed up with boxes of books and shelves to put them on.

In the midst of the Saturday evening crowds, they set up shop. And as the Rose City Comic Con shut down across town, the crowds came to the food court to see Katie and buy her books!

It was quite a thing to see. We stuck around for long enough to buy a book and watch the crowds form, and then headed to the grocery store and the home.
What a day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Looking Back on the Fourth

Dear Liza,

Our maple tree outdoor Bistro

Our Fourth of July was very busy! It was a warm but not deadly-hot day, so we felt up to some solid walking.

We packed a small picnic lunch and headed south to Seawellcrest Park. This is the same park where we had Cousin Jasper’s fifth grade promotion celebration, but on the Fourth, it was practically deserted. A few folks played frisbee with their dogs, but mostly it was just us and the giant maple tree we were sitting under. We enjoyed a nice lunch of cold sausages and cheese and listened to birds and happy dogs. Very nice.

We walked around the Seawellcrest community garden and enjoyed seeing how other folks arrange their spaces. Ladders are good for trellises! I am learning a lot for next year.

We continued through the neighborhood, greeting folks out walking.

Once we got to Division Street, there was Auntie Bridgett’s favorite frozen treat shop: Eb and Bean Frozen Yogurt. These friendly folks make healthy and yummy flavors such as Triple Blueberry Chèvre and Caramel Praline… what’s not to like?

We enjoyed the goodies on a bench in the shade, watching people and traffic go by. A young fella set up a lemonade stand and Grandpa Nelson was his first customer! Other folks soon followed.

Auntie Bridgett suggested, since we were on Division Street, that we walk a little way further and go visit Auntie Katie. The day was getting warmer, but we had tummies full of ice cream and we were good at staying in the shade.

We visited with Katie’s assistant, Nick, and then took her off for a walk and a snack at Palio. I know it seems like we were eating a lot. Yes. Yes, we were. Yummy! We had a wonderful visit, sharing some rose wine and berry cake.

Katie needed more of a walk, she said, so she decided to walk us up the hill and home. The heat of the day had really kicked in and it was a bit of a slog the final mile, but we made it! The three of us had covered five and a half miles, and we were pretty pleased with ourselves. And tired. We all had ice water and a rest before Katie headed off on her way.

The rest of the day was quiet, with reading and, later, watching the humans beat the aliens in Independence Day.

Belated Happy Fourth! Happy to still have a country to celebrate in.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Feeling Safe, Heading Out

Dear Liza,

With me being totally vaccinated along with so many folks here in Portland, I felt safe enough Friday to do the long walk down to Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures to take her new kitties some catnip toys.

I always love the walk to and through the Ladd’s Addition neighborhood. Gardens, trees, and lovely Craftsman style homes are so welcoming and friendly. And at this time of year, they really show the love.

On the way, I stopped by Palio coffee house to pick up lunch for Auntie Katie, because she works hard and doesn’t always get time out to eat. A sausage quiche, salad, and blueberry muffin should hold her until dinner. While we chatted, she told me that her new kitties, now named Maggie and Hopey, had gone missing. They were probably still in the apartment, but still, some worried faces here.

Since the shop was busy and Auntie Katie needed to take care of her customers, I dropped off the lunch, got a hug, and headed for home. Passing by Palio, I remembered how yummy Katie’s lunch looked and stopped and got one for myself. A Roast Beef Reuben sandwich with horseradish was so yummy! Along with chips and an almond Italian soda, I was filled to bursting.

I continued home and had a long quiet afternoon…. listening to music, working on art and thinking about history. A very pleasant time. But Friday evening is our night out. So at five o’clock, out we went!

We thought of Bread and Ink, an old favorite down on Hawthorne. Their website said they were open, but it turns out they meant ‘for take out only’. I totally understand that folks are not all vaccinated and don’t all feel safe, so we moved on. What WAS open?

St. Anthony Bourdain

Turns out, the Portland Ciderhouse is! Their food menu was short and sweet… fat pretzels for Grandpa Nelson, pulled pork sandwiches for Auntie Bridgett and me, and tater tots. The cider menu was more extensive, and we all found something we liked. Mine was a ‘Runcible Hoot’ which I got for the name. It was dry and wonderful. Once we were seated, we could remove our masks, and enjoyed being inside a restaurant. We looked at art, including a nice portrait of the late Anthony Bourdain, labeled ‘St. Anthony’, and watching other folks. We ate and drank and felt very blessed to be safe. Our walk home was sunlit and lovely.

And, once we got home, I heard from Katie. The kitties were found! Cousin Jasper spotted them in their new cuddle cave behind the clothes dryer.
All is well!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Seeing Friends

Dear Liza,

Let me tell you about an afternoon with a dear friend.

I first met Misha Moon a few years ago, helping your Auntie Katie set up her bookshop, Books with Pictures. Auntie Katie liked her very much, and it turned out, Misha and I liked each other, too. We have shared stories and pictures and marveled at our own progress through life.

Miss Misha Moon

Last March, just before the Corona virus shut everything down, we talked all afternoon at The Rocking Frog, a wonderful place that has since closed up shop. It turned out to be the last ‘friend date’ either of us had for over a year.


Albina Press Coffee

And this week, Misha and I had coffee together again. This time we met on a very rainy afternoon under the street-side covered patio of Albina Press Coffee shop on Hawthorne.

Our view

I got caught up on her news, and she on mine. We listened, shared, celebrated and sympathized. But mostly, we got to be a part of each other’s lives for a few hours. We got to see each other smile and watch the other person’s eyes sparkle as they laughed. We got to be people together.

And it was a real treat.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Cake Walk

Dear Liza,

Our spring has been alternating between rain and sun, so when the weather is nice, we get out in it! Grandpa Nelson and I headed out in Friday, with not much idea of where to go.

All sorts of flowers are blooming! The tulips are starting to fade, but azaleas and irises are going berserk. The colors are eye-smashing.

We continued south west, sort of in the direction of Ladd’s Addition, where Auntie Katie’s book shop, “Books with Pictures” is. The rose gardens had a few early bloomers looking good, with dozens more in bud, just biding their time.

Palio, a delightfully tasty and pleasant bakery/coffee shop on the Ladd’s Circle Park, has set tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. We ordered some delicious lemon custard cake and texted Katie with an offer. “Yes, please!”

Auntie Katie got her second vaccine just the day before and is on her way to being able to run her shop more easily. The business is doing well, mostly because she works hard to make sure she gets books to her customers. She has been driving to deliver all over the city for more than a year now. Exhausting, yes, but that’s what it took.

After a lovely chat and snacks, Grandpa Nelson and I headed back home through the Richmond neighborhood. It is full of craftsman style houses from the turn of the 20th century and hundreds of majestic trees and flowers bushes.

Portland is a cakewalk!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Full-On Portland

Dear Liza,

After weeks of feeling isolated and in my own head, Wednesday was a day that felt very connected, very Portland.

Hooray for Auntie Katie!!!

First, Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books With Pictures, was voted BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP IN PORTLAND by our local newspaper, the Willamette Weekly. Hooray!

I am sure that her hard work and dedication to customer service in having an online ordering service and door to door deliveries during the pandemic has endeared her to everyone. With so many businesses closing down, it is wonderful to see her thrive.

And in the evening, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett walked with me to deliver first aid supplies to the Black Lives Matter protesters. A group of volunteers called Snackbloc collect bandages, gloves, and other useful items in different neighborhoods to be used downtown to support the protesters against the Federal troops.

A beautiful mural along the way!

It pains me so much to see our government beating peaceful protesters. There has been some vandalism, but these troops are not dispersing crowds or stopping it; they are attacking unarmed people, shoving them down and gassing lines of singing women.

Protesters in Portland…. Photo by Beth Nakamura

It is as though they have come to punish these people for standing against the beatings… by beating them, like an abusive father ranting, “Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about.” This is not how I want my country to be.

Police attacking protesters in Portland… photo credit, CNN

But I am a coward. I fear beatings, teargas, arrest and undocumented detention by unknown troops. So I help in a small way so others who are braver can help in larger ways.

Take care, and I will see you soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Day Out with Family

Dear Liza,

On Friday we got to visit Cousin Kestrel, Cousin Jasper and Auntie Katie and give Kestrel some birthday presents.

Walking through Ladd’s Addition is always pretty

Grandpa Nelson and I decided to make a day of it, so we walked the two plus miles down to Books with Pictures. We stopped at Palio to get some pastries and met the family across the street from their shop and house.

We enjoyed the croissants and little apple pies, had a nice visit and got to say hi to our friend Misha Moon when she came by on her way to My Vinyl Underground, the record store in Auntie Katie’s basement.

Books with Pictures, as seen from the field of Hosford Abernethy School

After a while Grandpa Nelson suggested we play some games. This started with a race, which Auntie Katie won. Then Kestrel taught us a game called Gargoyle. In this game, the person who is the Gargoyle sits with their eyes covered (today, we used our face masks!) and guards an object. The other players try to sneak up on the Gargoyle and steal the object.

… And they’re off!

The Gargoyle needed to be able to hear the other players’ footsteps and call them out, and because of the street noise on Division Street, this was really hard! But it was fun to be sneaking and having to stifle our giggles. Jasper won that one.

Exhausted hugs

After some other games and chalk art, we headed over for some ice cream from Zeds, the ice cream truck parked in the parking lot of Books with Pictures.

Princess Leia and Auntie Katie

It was moving past lunchtime when we headed for home. Pastries and stolen ice cream licks just aren’t real food, so we stopped at McMenamin ‘s Barley Mill up on Hawthorne. On their very thinly populated open porch, we had cider, a wonderful oatmeal stout, and a veggie burger. Their fries were a letdown, but everything else was delicious.

Hammerhead and Ruby the Witch are role models

By this time we were over-sunned, over-fed and over-walked, and we were still a mile from home. We found the shady side of the street and just kept at it, covering almost six miles by the time we crashed.

Whew! Getting out and about is exhausting!

Love,

Grandma Judy