The DoubleClicks

Dear Liza,

Last night Grandpa Nelson and I drove down to Auntie Katie’s bookshop to watch a show. I know we usually walk, but it was 96 degrees, which is too hot to walk a mile.

First, we all went to dinner at The Smokehouse Tavern on Morrison. The pulled pork sandwich was smokey and tasty, with cold, refreshing cocktails for the hot day.

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Bridgett, Hand, and me (in the reflection)

The show was a pair of sisters, Angela and Aubrey Webber, who go by the group name “Doubleclicks”. They play guitar, ukulele, and electric cello, and even a cat keyboard that “meows” when you play the keys. But mostly, they write and sing very sweet, funny songs about being different, even a little weird, and being okay with that.

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Katie introducing the Doubleclicks

The Doubleclicks are very popular here in Portland, especially with people who like comic books, so they were a good match for Books with Pictures. By the time the show started, all forty chairs were full and there were probably thirty more people standing in the back. The audience was mostly people in their thirties and forties, but some much younger (8 or 9) and some much older (like us!)

The first song they sang was called “Cats at Parties”. It is about being awkward in large groups of people and seeking out pets to hang out with instead. I do this, sometimes. They had me.

Other songs paid homage to Wonder Woman, Dimetrodons, and board games. There was lots of funny conversation between the sisters, and with the audience. Auntie Katie asked them to dedicate a song to Grandpa Nelson, called “I have Nothing to Prove.” It was very sweet, about being happy with yourself and your accomplishments.

During the break, I got to visit with Chelsea Wright, Auntie Katie’s dear friend, and other folks in the audience. A lady named Kathleen, who sat right in front of us, was signing the lyrics as the Sisters were singing. I told her how much I enjoyed watching her and we had a nice conversation.

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Kathleen and her fella

When the show was over, we all hung up our chairs and headed off. As we got in the car, the train gates came down, and we. Were. Stuck. For thirty minutes while the train got rearranged and ready to head north. The main train tracks crossing a main road is a drawback of driving in this neighborhood. But, small price to pay.

We got home, wide awake, and watched the Giants win their ballgame, then went to bed.

More adventures tomorrow, I’m sure.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

A Song for Fun

Dear Liza,

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Sunsets

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:

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

These are the things Portland’s given to me!

Second Verse:

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

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And pinball for fun

All of these just since the summer’s begun!

Bridge:

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

Love,

Grandma Judy

Friends, Pizza, and Art

Dear Liza,

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View of the Lan Su Chinese Garden from across the street

My projects continue to keep me busy. I am finishing Cousin Kestrel’s princess kitten birthday present and had to change my story a bit. Did you know that in America in early 1900s, classes in the U.S. didn’t go on field trips? At that time,  they were not considered valuable. So I needed to remove a field trip from my 1903 story. Sigh.

Yesterday I also had a nice surprise. A former student and his wonderful family came to visit! First they visited famous Powell’s City of Books, and then came to see me at Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures. They had fun and bought tons of books! Then they invited me to have lunch with them at Old Town Pizza, a “haunted” pizza parlor downtown.

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Lovely friends!

Of course, I said YES! Pizza, friends, ghosts? I’m there!

The pizza was good and the air conditioning most welcome, as it has been hot here. (Hot for US, like 80 degrees. I understand many places are really suffering.) I didn’t notice any ghosts. After Kyle, his sister Gillian, Mom Heidi and Dad Paul headed off to the Creo chocolate tour, I caught the Orange train back to Auntie Katie’s shop and rode my bike home.

Since it was First Friday, we walked up to Ankeny Tap and Table for street tacos, grilled Brussels sprouts, beer, cider, and french fries. Yum! We walked over to the Sidestreet Gallery to see Auntie Bridget’s new art, as well as all the other new things. I got to meet Dawn Panttaja, Erin’s aunt, creator of lovely, odd sculptures. This one is called “Miss Fortune”, with a skirt made of old prophesies. Creepy and beautiful.img_78521.jpg

Auntie Bridgett was going to stay and talk to folks, but Grandpa Nelson and I walked to the Laurelhurst Theater to watch “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”img_7854.jpg, which was a fun roller coaster ride with an ending that surprised me.

Walking home, we swung by the flamingo house, where the birds are apparently enjoying the World Cup Soccer games.

Happy July!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

OMSI

Dear Liza,

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We’re Here!

Yesterday Cousins Jasper and Kestrel and I went to OMSI, The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It is only one train stop from their house and we spent the whole day there! At the train stop, we met a nice lady named Maria and her son Josue. They mostly spoke Spanish, so I got to practice speaking Spanish for a while. They met some friends and off they went.

The Museum moved from Washington Park, where the Zoo and Rose Test Garden are, to the current site on the east bank of the Willamette River, in 1992. It has a Planetarium, space capsule, a hall for changing exhibits, and a large hands-on room called Turbine Hall.

We started with a visit to the temporary exhibit on The Robot Revolution. The first floor was very informative, and we read a lot about how robots are built, how they ‘learn’ new information, and how they move. There was a small soccer filed sort of area where two robots were trying to score goals while another robot tried to block them. We could even make robots move, like this big spider walking one, or a robot about 10 inches tall who was programmed to do different moves, like push-ups, headstands, or wave.

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Big Spider Robot
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Learning by Watching, then Doing

Upstairs, the exhibits were much more hands-on. Kestrel played tic tac toe against a robot, and mostly played to a tie. She used “grippers”, what robots use for hands, and had to do a lot of figuring out to make them work. It was great to watch her brain work!

While Kestrel was doing these things, Jasper was building robots with Cubelets. These are, as you might guess, cubes that you put together to make robots. Each cube has a different job: battery, mover, light, rotator. By putting the different cubes together in different order, you can make robots that move, light up, or other things. Jasper worked on these for almost an hour, finally creating a robot different from anyone else’s, that walked in a weird wobbly fashion while lighting up.

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Jasper’s Robot

We bought lunch in the cafeteria, pizza and fruit juices, and ate on the patio that looks out over the river between the Tilikum Crossing Bridge and the Marquam Bridge. It was a very pretty day, so there were lots of bicyclists, joggers, and boats to watch, as well as cars and trucks on the Marquam and trains on the Tillikum, which is only for mass transit, walkers and bikes.

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Tillikum Crossing

After lunch we visited another part of the museum, Turbine Hall. This is a room almost as big as a football field, full of hands-on activities to study air pressure, gravity, wind, sound,water and engineering. The exhibits are so well designed that if a child can reach it, they can be successful at some level at it. Kestrel enjoyed exploring the wind and water areas, while Jasper enjoyed working with other kids to build an arch or make a machine play Score Four. There aren’t any pictures of Jasper because he hates having his picture taken.

We stayed at the Museum until almost 5 o’clock, and there wasn’t a cross word or bored moment. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Portland with children!

We left in time to make dinner and feed the cousins and Auntie Katie when she got home from Books with Pictures.

What a wonderful day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Portland Pride

img_7094.jpgDear Liza,

On Saturday, I helped Auntie Katie set up her double wide booth at Portland’s Gay Pride Festival. It was hard work, but it’s always good to help.

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Katie, looking fabulous

Auntie Bridgett drove me to Auntie Katie’s house at seven in the morning. We loaded up a van she borrowed from a friend, then went to her shop, Books with Pictures, and loaded some more. Boxes and boxes of books, bookshelves, snacks, banners, and chairs, were all tetris-ed into a space that I thought was too small for them. Then we drove to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, between the Morrison and Hawthorne Bridges, on the west side of the Willamette River.

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View of the festival from the Morrison Bridge

A friend of Katie’s named Dot, who has a strong back, cheerful personality AND many years of book store experience, was an enormous help. I unloaded and sorted, Dot organized and shelved, and Katie figured out where everything went.

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Dot on the job

By 11:00, we were ready for business! I took a walk around the festival to see the other booths. There were so many different businesses and causes, with booths run by cheerful people. There were banjo players, bankers, car dealers, a softball league, Fred Meyer stores, and even a booth supporting the adoption of deaf dogs. There were some outrageous costumes, but mostly just really happy people enjoying being out together on a sunny day.

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Banjos!

When the booth was ready and Auntie Katie had her lunch (of delicious pulled pork from Porklandia), I decided to head home. I had lots of snacks and water, so I walked across the Morrison Bridge and east for about 2 miles.

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The Willamette looking north from the Morrison Bridge

By the time I got home I was so tired, I ate a big lunch and slept for two hours! But Auntie Katie was at the booth until 10:30 Saturday night, and went back for a full day Sunday, so I think I got off easy.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Books and Art

Dear Liza,

After the Rose Parade yesterday, we were all pretty tired. We had walked about four miles all over town. We came home and rested before our NEXT outing!

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Jack Kent

Our friend Jack Kent had a book release and signing party at Auntie Katie’s book shop, Books with Pictures, down on Division Street. Jack does two different comics; a strip called Gulls, and single panel comics called Sketchy People. His wife Verity were there too, so we had a nice visit.

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Auntie Katie and Tom

 

 

At the shop we ran into Tom Goevelinger, an Oregon native who I know from my years teaching in Salinas. It was fun to catch up with him, his family and mutual friends. Cousins Jasper and Kestrel weren’t there, but there was a baby we all got to share. His name is Mirren and he’s a very good sport.

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Grandpa Nelson and Mirren

This morning Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to The Sidestreet Gallery, where she is showing some of her collages and her painted cups. There were snacks and lots of fun conversations, and some incredible art.

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The Sidestreet Gallery

Artist Alicia Justus does so many beautiful things it is hard to tell about them all. On the walls were gouache paintings that look like illustrations from the old Russian storybooks I read with you.

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An Image without Words, by Alicia Justus

She also does wonderfully detailed dolls! They are made of felt and other materials, embroidered and dressed, and delightfully full of personality. No sooner do you look at one than you start making up a story about it in your head.

It was fun to talk to Alicia about her inspiration (“way too many vintage children’s books”, she says) and see how this is reflected in her dress as well as her art.

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Alicia’s dolls

A ceramicist and painter paired up in a show called “Wild Art”.

Denise Krueger was showing her whimsical ceramics, which all look like weird, dreamy sea creatures. and these were set alongside Shari Carlson’s paintings of animals. Most of her work showed sea creatures as well, but my favorite was a goofy looking emu.

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Shari Carlson’s Emu

While enjoying all the art, I noticed some beautiful ceramic “Flying Mermaids”, and noticed the name of the artist, Dawn Panttaja. Auntie Katie has friends named Jofish Kaye and Erin Panttaja. Could there be a connection? I texted Jofish right away, and he confirmed it! Dawn Panttaja, Portland artist, is the aunt of Erin Panttaja, playwright, mommy, and really nice person! The world just keeps getting more interesting.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Dawn Panttaja’s Flying Mermaid

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