National Cartoonist’s Day

Dear Liza,

Friday was National Cartoonist’s Day, and I celebrated it by reading my two favorite cartoonists. The first, Gary Trudeau, has written Doonesbury since 1968. I started reading it in our local newspaper when I was in high school, collecting the paperback collections as they came out.

The characters and stories in the strips were funny, intelligent takes on people very much like people I knew. Crazy Zonker Harris reminded me of one of my brothers, and Americanism zealot B.D. reminded me of the other one. The strips spoofed college sports, the anti-war movement, women’s liberation … all the hot-button topics of my teenage years.

The series of strips about Phred, the Vietcong terrorist, and his struggles during the war was enlightened and delightful.

Bridgett Spicer is my other favorite cartoonist, and your own Auntie Bridgett. She started writing her first comic strip, Squid Row, in 2002. It ran for in the Monterey Herald newspaper from 2009 to 2014.

It told stories about people I knew, too. Starving artists and their search for art supplies and folks with irrational fears of garden gnomes… people everyone could relate to. Like Gary Trudeau, Bridgett shows her characters’ flaws as well as their strengths.

Squid Row wasn’t nearly as political as Doonesbury, but every now and then Bridgett felt the need to make a comment on world affairs. When there was a controversy about cartoonists drawing the prophet Mohammed, she made this strip about a cab driver.

In 2015, she closed out Squid Row and started Randie and Ryan, showing her two main characters’ adventures as newlyweds. And when we moved to Portland, so did Randie and Ryan! That strip ran for four years.

After a few months , she started other projects and let the cartooning slide for a while. Then, in 2021, her friend Jack Kent, who does the comic Sketchy People and was working for our local Willamette Weekly, offered her a spot on their comics page. Who could turn that down?

Auntie Beeswax is a slightly eccentric lady who lives in Portland. She is always upbeat as she cares for bees, cats, chickens, and her melancholy niece, Mallory.

I love seeing our everyday life in the comic strip. A well-done comic takes real life and lets you see it differently.

PS. You can find all Bridgett’s works, including paintings, collages, and lots of comics, at


Grandma Judy

Belated Travel Journaling

Dear Liza,

Your Auntie Bridgett Spicer is an amazing artist. Not only can she create delightful comics like her “Auntie Beeswax” and wonderful paintings and collages, but she can draw and vacation at the same time. Here is a page from her sketchbook of our trip.

Her brain works like that.

Mine does not. I made a really cool cover for my travel journal for our last trip to Europe,

but am only now (three weeks after we got home) finishing up my account of our journey. Here is a page showing our train ride from Amsterdam to Utrecht.

I started with good intentions, but then it just got away from me.

I happily sacrificed journaling time for time spent with family in wondrous operas, delightful museums, and fabulous gardens.

So now I’m catching up, and I’m glad I waited. Not only is my Journal a more interesting synthesis of the journey, with my own sketches and all the sorts of paper you collect on a trip, but I am getting to re-live the whole experience!

It’s like watching my favorite movie all over again.


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

Artsy Cards

Dear Liza,

Everyone likes to get cards for Valentine’s Day or their birthday, and I am no different. I am luckier than many folks, however, because I have so many artists in my life.

My friend Ruthie Inman makes cards every month for her patreon supporters, and she made me a special card for my birthday this year. It is just like her: lovely, unexpected, and sparkly.

Auntie Bridgett made me a Valentine card, showing her beloved bees and hearts. For my birthday, she bought one of Dawn Panttaja ’s cards. Dawn does wonderful collages for her line called Lost Dolls. This one looks like something from historic Portland.

I have been getting wonderful artsy cards from Auntie Bridgett for so many years, I have a whole file full of them!

Here are a few of my favorites.

And here’s the last one for today!


Grandma Judy


Dear Liza,

There is a new store here in Portland, and Auntie Bridgett took me to see it!

Clody Cates and her business partner Larry host this visually delightful shop at 3719 North Mississippi Avenue in North Portland. GiftyKitty is a labor of love that was conceptualized and designed by Clody, and their tagline, “Changing the world one cat at a time” cracks me up.

I was impressed, first, by the largest features of the decor. The giant Alice in Wonderland-style house along the back wall gives the whole place a fabulous air of silliness.

The wonderful manzanita shelving, built by Oakland based designer Cameron Kephart, is wonky and perfect. Cameron also worked closely with Clody on the design and creation of the whole space, as well as the up-cycled glass and wood displays that hold more treasures.

Then, I got to focus on the delights of the treasures themselves and was stunned by the variety and quality of them. There were large glass mosaics, aprons, paintings, carvings, and books, mostly made by local artists.

We saw old friends from the SideStreet Arts Gallery. Painted plaques by Amelia Opie…..

…cute stuffed critters by Alicia Justus….

….. and book art by Melody Bush.

New (to me) artists included Nicola Turville and

Jenny Rideout, who upcycles fabric and makes everything more interesting!

Needless to say, we will be going back to GiftyKitty, especially now that they are carrying Auntie Bridgett’s buttons, cards and art!

I will take you when you come to visit!


Grandma Judy

SideStreet Arts is Open! Part 2

Dear Liza,

There were a lot of artists showing at SideStreet Arts last Friday.

Alicia Justice’s nostalgic constructions take hours to create, and are so pretty! They feel like a set design from ”Life with Father”. Here is a detail of just one room.

Auntie Bridgett has some work for sale, too. Her painting called ”New Home Coming”, showing Mt. Hood all pink at sunset, is displayed with some lovely pink glass by Phyllis Flury.

The last artist I will mention is Melody Bush. She does what are called Book Excavations, which highlight the art of old, forgotten books by carving into them, showing different parts of the book all at once. We own two of her works already! Here is a pretty one on display.

I am happy that with higher vaccination rates and so masking, we can enjoy getting out and about again.


Grandma Judy

Takin’ it Downtown Part 1

Dear Liza,

We haven’t been to downtown Portland for a long time. The pandemic shut down, followed by the riots and the damage they caused, made it feel just too bleak, like a scene out of a “Last Man on Earth” movie.

But on Saturday, we all got on the number 15 bus and went. With so many people vaccinated and stores being repaired, it is bustling! There are still some boarded up or empty storefronts. It is not 100%, but it is so much better than I expected.

We walked from downtown a few blocks north to the Pearl District, finding interesting things along the way. The Doc Martins shoe store has closed, though their building is easily spotted by the giant shoe print. Their window is now being used as an ad for Sizzle Pie, a local pizza franchise. We walked through the pop-up Moon Market, finding delicious cookies at Butterbakes. Yum!

And then we found what we had come for. CULT! This is a quirky, artsy shop, selling toys, collectibles, art, and books. Our friend Jack Kent, who does a series of cartoons and books called “Sketchy People”, was there, signing and selling his latest work. It was good to see him and pick up a new book.

CULT has more weird and wonderful things than I can show you here, but let this incredibly realistic hand flower holder give you an idea. There were also models of old school “Visible Man” biology models, but with ‘aliens’, and kitchenware with a dark sense of humor.

It was a silly, odd and thought provoking feast for the eyes.

And there was drawing paper! Of course Auntie Bridgett stepped up and put a little Auntie Beeswax up for the world to enjoy.

As the afternoon progressed, the shop got really crowded (hooray for sales!) and we needed to step out. But we weren’t done yet. I’ll tell you what happened next, tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Auntie Beeswax Goes Public!

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett’s new comic, Auntie Beeswax, has just had its first publication in our local newspaper, Willamette Week! We are so excited, we ran out and got a dozen copies. It is just so wonderful to see her art in the paper.

This morning, Grandpa Nelson even showed us how people who don’t live in Portland can see the comic. This is how you do it.

Google “Willamette Week”. Once you get to the WW page, go to the bottom of the page, where it says “Print editions”. Click on THIS one.

Once you are at that issue, scoot the arrow to page 29, or just flip through the paper (using the arrows) until you get to the comics, which are at the back.

And in case you have trouble, here it is!!

There is a new edition every Wednesday, so just follow the same steps and click on the issue of that date and go to the back to find Bridgett Spicer’s Auntie Beeswax!

Beginnings are delicate, exciting times, and I have a feeling this is the beginning of something big for Auntie Bridgett.



Grandma Judy

After the Heatwave

Dear Liza,

Wednesday was the first day of human-level temperatures since our historic heat wave began. We woke up to cloud cover, cool air and even a bit of dampness. It felt wonderful.

Look! Clouds! Hooray!!!

I went to the garden early. My friend Tonya gave me one of her parsley plants, and I planted it between my radishes and lettuce. My garden is doing well, even though it isn’t as tall as the other ones. They have five foot tall trellises and arbors hanging with peas and beans. I have a magnificent beast of a zucchini.

And it makes food, too!

I walked around Laurelhurst Park for the first time in a week, enjoying the cool green, the ducks, and all the people out doing their people thing. Tai c’hi classes, guitar practice, dog parties….. it was life as normal, out on the grass.

After a morning of sewing, French lessons, crossword puzzles and cartooning, the three of us headed off to Grandpa Nelson’s favorite lunch spot, Zach’s Shack. Auntie Bridgett got to go because she isn’t working at the SideStreet Arts gallery anymore. Her new comic strip, Auntie Beeswax, allows her more flexibility with her time.

One of my favorite views….

We ate hot dogs and fries, and, since the sun had come out, appreciated the icy cold sodas.

Then came ping pong! Zach’s back patio has a table and enough hard surfaces that even if the ball misses the table, you can keep it in play. We get a little nuts sometimes, and it is fun!

We played until we were played out, then walked home by way of the Taylor Street chickens. The day had warmed up to 88 degrees and we were happy for the air conditioning.

This heat wave was bad. It send a lot of folks to the hospital. We need to figure out how to help our planet heal so we can all be well.

Portlanders ❤️ Chickens !


Grandma Judy

Auntie Beeswax

Dear Liza,

Did you know that your Auntie Bridgett Spicer was a cartoonist? From 2009 to 2012, her comic strip called Squid Row ran in the Monterey Herald newspaper. It was about an artist living in a touristy seaside town. Since Auntie Bridgett was an artist living in Seaside, California, it made perfect sense. The strip was really popular, too.

A sketch of Auntie Beeswax

After we moved to Portland, she took a few years off from cartooning to do painting. She joined the Sidestreet Arts Gallery and helped make it a better place for people to see and buy art. And now she has starting cartooning again!

The city of Roseport and some characters

Her new comic strip is called Auntie Beeswax, and will be in the Willamette Week newspaper here in Portland. Auntie Beeswax is an eccentric lady who lives in “Roseport”, a thinly disguised version of Portland. She keeps bees, cats and chickens, rides her bicycle everywhere, and is an organic gardener. In other words, she is a delightfully ordinary Portlander. But she always does things just a little differently.

Rough draft of a comic strip

The comic will be about her adventures, and will include a young niece who learns about life ‘outside the box’ from her Auntie Bee.

Bridgett Spicer herself

I am so happy to see Bridgett smiling and sketching, getting her stories all ready. I look forward to reading about Auntie Beeswax!


Grandma Judy