Christmas Eve in the Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

The rain stopped Christmas Eve, and we got to go for a walk. It was long-underwear, extra scarf wearing cold, but clear and dry. I put on my light-up coat so we didn’t get killed by traffic, and we headed out.

We had expected, with everyone being in lock-down, that there would be more decorations than usual, but there weren’t. Maybe folks are feeling sad, not being able to visit and travel. Maybe they are saving money this year. But for whatever reason, there were fewer houses all lit up.

What there was, though, was pretty nifty. This house goes nuts every year, and I think they add more lights every year, as well. They are lit up from their front fence to inside their front window, and it is staggeringly bright.

These are very traditional decorations. Some of them, like the gingerbread people cut-outs on the far right, I remember from my childhood.


Other houses use a more unconventional set of things to celebrate the holiday, like this “Baby Jesus as television static” nativity scene. It was surreal and wonderful.

On the same porch was this just slightly possessed Easter Bunny, escorted by Malchior and Balthazar.

Then around a corner, we saw a truck idling in the middle of the very dark street. A man was calling to some other folks… offering candy canes at the end of a long handled fishing net.

Holy Smokes, it was Covid Santa, out and about! He and Mrs. Claus, all dressed up in their finery, were ho ho ho-ing around the neighborhood. What a nice surprise!

With that, we figured we had seen the best Christmas Eve could offer, and headed home for hot toddies and “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday, sweetie. I will see you soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Wintery Thoughts

Dear Liza,

Mousekin, wondering why I am not being her lap.

The winter cold has always appealed to me, bundling up and going out to feel the chill on my face, and looking at the lights. But this year, as much as I am trying to maintain my adventurous spirit, it feels like winter is turning me into a bear. Not a grouchy bear, just an I-want-to-eat-everything-and-Stay-Inside sort of Bear.

Auntie Bridgett has put up the decorations in the house, and they make very pretty scenes…. gnomes by the tv, Santa cookie jars by the philodendron, and even Ellen Hughes’ little needlepoint village on the windowsill. “Stay in and look at us,” they say. “You don’t need to go outside.”

Pretty decorations from Russia

My still-in-progress story calls me to the computer. “Come edit this mess,” it says softly. “It will be wonderful, but right now, Chapter 20 doesn’t make sense.”

Mousekin the cat looks accusingly at me. “If you get up,” she asks, “who will be my lap?”

Tasty food calls to my bear tummy. “How often do you make really good cornbread?” it asks. “Come have some more, with butter, and then we’ll make cookies!”

Playing with my food…

I know my teacher colleagues are dealing with over-excited students. I know my own children are parenting their hearts out and working hard at jobs they are incredibly good at. But today, I just want to bake. And maybe nap.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Falling into Winter

Dear Liza,

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Firwood Lake at sunset

I am so happy to be back in Portland after our trip to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, all the water is pumped in and does what it is told. Fountains. Swimming pools. A tiny green oasis here and there.

But in Portland, the water comes of its own accord, from the rains and rivers, wandering about with its own agenda. It is planned for, accommodated, and appreciated.

Our Firwood Lake in Laurelhurst Park is a natural low spot in the park, and catches all the water that falls in our lovely, hundred year old  forest. The Park planners were wise enough to use the environment rather than fight it, to make the lake a focal point and ecosystem instead of a muddy ball field.

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Graced by a gingko

The leaves are still falling, but the trees are running out. The small building in Laurelhurst Park, which houses the bathrooms and maintenance office, is graced by the nearby gingko tree.

In the neighborhood, Christmas is going up in eccentric ways. This Japanese maple tree’s leaves haven’t been raked in two years…but it has lights. img_1964.jpeg

This majestic house, which we can see across Cesar Chavez Boulevard through the now-bare trees, has very conservative decorations, which seems suitable to its old fashioned style.

Waiting to see what happens next!

Love,

Grandma Judy

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