Fifth Grade Promotion and a Walk to Fleet Week

Dear Liza,

Last week was the last day of school for everyone. For Cousin Kestrel, it was her last day AT her school. She got promoted from the fifth grade at Abernethy Elementary and will be going to Middle School next year!

The small, friendly ceremony was held on the playground, with just Kes’s classmates and teacher, because each class had its own time. It was delightfully low key and personal.


I was happy to be able to be there and celebrate another milestone in the family.

It was fun, too, to see Kestrel’s best friend Lennon. I have only met her in groups of kids at birthday parties, so it was great to see her unique spirit and understand why she and Kes are so close.

After the ceremony, the girls went back to class and I bought Katie breakfast at the Honeycuspe waffle truck in the food pod in her parking lot. I love how the space is becoming a cheerful outdoor dining spot! The murals, tables, awnings, and repaired paving (which Katie installed herself!) makes it easy to sit and enjoy.

I headed home, full of waffles and happiness, and took pictures of magnificent peonies along the way.

That afternoon, still full from brunch and rested up, I joined Grandpa Nelson on his walk to the river to see part of Fleet Week, where Portland plays host to sailors from the American and Canadian navies.

As the Canadian ships HMCS Edmonton and the HMCS Brandon came up the Willamette River from the Columbia River, the Fremont Bridge, the Broadway Bridge, the Steel Bridge and Burnside Bridge were all raised to allow the ships to pass underneath. We got to the Burnside Bridge as it was raised and clanging, making sure everyone for a mile in all directions knew what was going on.

The fireboat was off to the side, spouting water in celebration. I’m sure the sailors enjoyed the spectacle. I know the people on the riverbank did!

When the bridge came down, we realized that we had walked five miles and were ready for a snack and a sit-down. We found the Forte Cafe at SW Sixth and Washington. It was modern and delightful, with Italian sodas and cookies and unusual art. This wall of fish just tickled me!

There was a framed Robin Williams quote that spoke to me, as well. “You’re only given a little spark of madness.” He said. “You mustn’t lose it.”

That says it all.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Our Willamette

Dear Liza,

You and I were talking the other day about the big river here in Portland. It is called the Willamette, and people sometimes get the pronunciation wrong.

They want to say “will-a-MET”, to rhyme with “make a BET”, but this is incorrect. It is actually “will-A-met”. My dad taught me how to remember it properly when I was about your age. He said, ”It’s will-A-met, dammit!”

The Willamette is unusual. Like the Nile River in Egypt, it flows from its headwaters in southern Oregon, north to the join with the Columbia River. For years, it was the easiest and safest way to travel from the university cities of Eugene and Corvallis, and the state capital of Salem, to Portland, and beyond that to the Pacific Ocean.

Even today, hundreds of ships bring cargo and people to the city. But our river is also a playground! Tour boats, jet skis, kayaks, fishermen and amateur sailors are out whenever the weather is good, making the most of this gift.

Just within the city of Portland, TWELVE bridges cross this mighty river, connecting the Westside, where the city began in the 1800s, to the Eastside, where we live. They are all useful in their own way, though some are more beautiful than others.

My favorite is the Tilikum Crossing, the newest bridge. It is only for public transit and pedestrians, so is the quietest. It is also very pretty, looking like a harp stretching across the river.

I hope that when you visit we can take a walk across some of these wonderful bridges.

Love,

Grandma Judy

…And Back Again

Dear Liza,

Once I got to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, I had intended to head right back home, but my Dad’s voice whispered “Go home a different way, so you see something different.”

Art made with cables and sky

So I continued across the bridge to the Westside. The pedestrian walkway has recently been finished and makes for a very pleasant, if warm, walk between the bridges. There were more adventurers out and about.

Kayakers out and about

I found Poet’s Beach, a side path lined with stones that are carved with poetry written by students, years ago.

Thanks, Phoebe!

It is loud, because it is right under the double decker Marquam Bridge, but worth a read and a visit.

The extremely loud Marquam Bridge

By this time, my feet and my phone batteries were telling me it was time to head home. I decided to cross back over the Hawthorne Bridge. I love the views of bridges from other bridges!

The Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges… from the Hawthorne.

Of course, political statements are everywhere. I liked this re-purposed public service message.

You can see a lot of Portland from bridges, too. Joggers, cyclists, the Burnside Bridge and the Convention Center are all in these shots.

Once I was back on the Eastside, I realized I was hungry, and came upon Asylum, a food Court on the site of Dr. Hawthorne’s Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. This much-respected institution stood from 1862 to 1883. It closed when the good Doctor died and burned to the ground a few years later.

The space has a steampunk cartoony vibe, with trash containers that made me laugh, and really tasty food.

I had pot stickers from the Thai place and enjoyed some people and art watching.

The Asylum gates ….

Once I was fed, I still had a mile walk, all uphill, to get home. I paced myself, admiring gardens, appreciating shade, and visiting with nice folks. I had done what I had intended to do, walked a total of 6.2 miles, and it felt good.

By the way, as you can tell, Portland is not “in flames”. We are fine. The protests are being exploited by the President and his allies who want to use Portland as an excuse to use strong arm tactics against his political enemies. He is lying.

Took the words out of my mouth!

Stay alert, stay well, and remember I love you.

Grandma Judy

Seeing the Doctor

Dear Liza,

On Friday, Grandpa Nelson finally felt lousy enough to call the doctor. He had been having fevers every night for weeks, along with fatigue and dizziness. I mentioned this to your Mommy (Dr. Olga), and she said Grandpa Nelson should talk to his doctor. They chatted via an on-screen meeting and agreed that Grandpa should visit the hospital and get checked out.

Auntie Bridgett drove and I rode in the backseat as we three traveled across the river to the west side for the first time since the shut down began in mid-March. It was so good to see the Willamette River sparkling and the bridges arching in the sunshine. Downtown, though emptier than usual, was beautiful. The parks and statues glowed, and the shining buildings reflected the clouds and sky. It felt like coming home.

The old Raven and Rose, next to the newer buildings…

We continued up the hill to OHSU, where we have been many times, but we didn’t just park and walk in. As part of the new procedures for limiting everyone’s exposure, we waited in the car and called to let them know we had arrived. A doctor walked to one of the small tents and Grandpa Nelson left the car to be escorted in. Auntie Bridgett and I had to wait in the car. I understand that fewer folks in and out of the building is safer for everyone, but I still wished I could go with him. We read, sewed, and drew, for nearly an hour.

Older parts of OHSU

When Grandpa came out he said that his had been checked for blood oxygen (fine, at 97%) blood pressure (a bit high, at 160) and been swabbed for the corona virus. That result won’t be back for a day or so. He was told to stay inside and rest and limit exposure to other folks. He was also told that whether this was Covid or some other virus, he would not be “well” until he had three full days with no fever.

Once we were home he had lunch and slept for a long time, got up, had dinner and went back to bed. Now we just wait for the results and do what we’ve been doing. Positive or negative, it won’t really make a difference. There is no cure, or even effective treatment. But we will know.

Love,

Grandma Judy

PS. We got the results back. No Covid-19 in this house! Grandpa Nelson still feels icky, but at least it’s not big and scary. Just small and irritating.

Walking, Walking by the River….

Dear Liza,

Yesterday Auntie Bridgett wanted to get out during the day and write for her comic strip, so we set off to find a new coffee shop. We walked down Burnside past Heart and Grendel’s, and settled in at Ristoretto on Couch for some pastries, chai and coffee.

After an hour of relaxing, reading, writing and listening to some pretty weird music, we headed off again. We walked past some very interesting new buildings, like “The Fair-Haired Dumbbell”, and I realized we were only five blocks from the Willamette River. We had been talking about making time to walk along the river, so we did!

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Fair-Haired Dumbbell

But you simply can’t start a major adventure on just coffee and a hand pie. Wandering down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (we call it MLK) we found the Sheridan Fruit Company. It is SO much more than fruit! They make sausages, cheeses, have a food truck, and a whole grocery store that has been there since 1906! The whole place smells fabulous. We shared the Seafood Creole Special of spicy shrimp, sausage, polenta and veggies and felt properly fortified for our journey.

 

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Sheridan Fruit Co., since 1906!

There is a huge freeway that runs between the east part of Portland and the River,  but with Googlemaps and patience, we followed bridges over freeways and under bridges and found the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. It is named for a woman who was mayor of Portland and in the Oregon government for years, and this wonderful path follows the Willamette River for one and a half miles.

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Vera Katz Statue Photo credit mygola.com

Along this path are water fountains, bubblers, benches, sculpture, trees, and even floating public docks to sit on and even jump into the river from, if you like. A few fellows did, and it looked like fun, but we didn’t…wet and drippy are not a good way to walk around town.

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Auntie Bridgett, me, the Hawthorne Bridge, and the Willamette River

We walked to the south end, just under the Hawthorne Bridge, and then north to the Burnside Bridge, up a long flight of steps, and turned east towards home. It had gotten warm and we were pooped. We walked up Ash Street and realized we had walked six miles! No wonder we were tired!

We sat on the couch, drank lots of water, and both fell asleep. After dinner, when it was cooler, Grandpa Nelson joined us and we…..walked some more! Just through Laurelhurst Park this time, not even a whole mile, but the breeze was cool and dogs and kids were playing in the park. It was worth it.

Love,

Grandma Judy

PS The flamingos are celebrating a birthday AND the eclipse! Check out this picture!

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Flamingo birthday/eclipse party

Ready to Leave Salinas

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What I’m leaving Behind…

Dear Liza,

     Tomorrow I start my new life in Portland. Leaving Salinas for such a big city will be exciting and a little bit scary, I think.

     I will fly into PDX airport and take the Red Line Max train to downtown. This train is part of Trimet, the name for all the trains, busses, and streetcars in the city. There is an app I can load onto my phone that lets the phone be a ticket for all of Trimet. That will make getting around easier.

     By the time I get downtown, I will be hungry. I know there are lots of interesting places to have lunch there. I will walk until something looks (and smells) good. I will tell you all about it.

     After lunch I will walk around and look at the city. There are statues, fountains, tall buildings, and even little parks all over the place. There is also the Willamette, a big river that divides the city into two parts, west and east, and there are ten bridges that cross from side to side. Each bridge is different!

     After I have explored downtown, I will get on the number 4 bus and cross the Willamette on the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. It is the newest bridge and is only for busses, trains, bicycles, and walking…no cars! I can get off the bus and walk past Auntie Katie’s bookstore and then to her house. I know where the key is, so I can get in and cuddle with her cats, Wanda and Pietro, and have a nice quiet evening.

     I will tell you all about my day tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy