Fetching Lala Home

Dear Liza,

After Auntie Bridgett got the house decorated, it was time to get our Christmas tree. We headed down to our favorite Christmas tree lot, just 15 blocks away at 48th and Belmont. The folks there are always helpful, fun, and all their trees are from farms in Molalla, just a few miles from Portland.

We named our new tree Lala, after her hometown, as we named last year’s tree Molly. Yes, we name stuff.

Getting her home was easy, and we even had a plan to get her upstairs to the house without tracking needles up the stairs.

A long rope, a bosun’s knot, and a couple of good pulls, and up she came, from the front patio up over the balcony railing and into the front room.

But of course, she wasn’t really home until she got decorated.

So now she is home, and our home is ready to start the 2022 Christmas season. Happy Christmas!


Grandma Judy

Our Christmas Tree, Molly

Dear Liza,

There is an old Irish song called ”Molly Malone” about a pretty girl who lived in Dublin. Using the same tune, here is a song for our Christmas tree for 2021.


In Portland’s fair city, Where trees are so pretty

Our Molly stands out, ‘ cause she’s seven feet tall.

She grew in Molalla

Photo from Mollala Retreat

Way down in the holla

And she is the loveliest tree of them all.

She came over the railing, And it was smooth sailing

She got covered with lights

And stands right by the door

She wears memories’ laces

And far away places

The beauty that cannot be had from a store.

***** ****** ********* ****** *******

That’s my Ode to Molly the Nordman Pine, 2021.

I hope you are enjoying your Christmas season!


Grandma Judy

Double Holidays

Dear Liza,

At our house, we celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas. And last week, we celebrated both in one day!

Friday was predicted to be our last dry day for a while, so we headed out to get our Christmas tree. Our favorite lot is down at Belmont and 48th. The prices have gone up because of the local growers losing so many trees to the fires the past two summers, but we paid anyway. We chose a lovely Nordman pine from a farm just down the road in Molalla. We named her Molly.

The nice man gave Molly a trim and tied her onto Miles and we headed home. And that’s where the next adventure started.

The last few years, we have wrestled our tree through the garage and up the stairs. Unfortunately, this leaves a sticky trail of pine needles in the carpet. This year, Auntie Bridgett suggested we pull it up over the balcony. It looked impossible, but with the three of us working together, it worked really well!

And in no time, Molly was up and ready for decorations. But they would have to wait until tomorrow, because we had to get ready for a Hannukah party.

I’ll tell you about that tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Old Friends

Dear Liza,

Our Christmas tree is a look back at our lives. When your Daddy David was little, Grandpa Nelson and I attended synagogue and celebrated Hanukah. There weren’t any Christmas ornaments in the house!

But we had both been raised with Christmas, and Great Grandma Billie had lots of ornaments. When Auntie Bridgett came to live with us, she brought lots of them… breakables and stuffies, religious and silly, you name it.

Kitty’s duckies

She loves Christmas so much that we started celebrating it again! And I am glad we did. Some ornaments remind us of dear friends who aren’t nearby. Kitty Petruccelli ‘visits’ us every year with her silly rubber duckies.

When Great Grandma Billie got older and came to be closer to us in Salinas, she got to see our tree with some of her ornaments and Bridgett’s, as well. It helped her feel at home.

Momma’s pine cone

When she passed away, her decorations let me celebrate a little of her joy and history.

Ornaments let me celebrate other people, as well. A former student, known as Ex, made this for me about 20 years ago. He was a sweet soul with a hard life. I have no way of knowing where he is now, but I wish his happy heart well.

Ex Wells’ sweet face

When we travel, Auntie Bridgett makes sure we get a souvenir that we can see every year. Here is a tiny gnome form Strausburg, France.

From France…

This delicate wooden scene came from the Christmas market in Cologne, Germany.

…and Germany

Every year we pick up a few ones, so we keep making new memories.


Grandma Judy

Gearing up for Christmas

Dear Liza,


Yesterday we spent all day, in one way or another, getting ready for Christmas. First thing, Auntie Bridgett and I walked out in 36 degrees F to go shopping. Hawthorne Street, just a bit south of us, has so many wonderful, locally run shops! Asylum, Kids at Heart, Tender Loving Empire, and Memento all have really interesting items that tickle my funny bone. We had a good time choosing special things for our special people.

When the lunch bell in my stomach started going off, we knew it was time to get home. Leftover chicken and cheese made for delicious burritos to keep our spirits up.

Miles and the new tree

Then, the three of us headed off to the big quest of the day: The Christmas tree! Last year, we drove all over town looking for a lot we liked…and finally found a small lot at Belmont and 48th. We went there first this year.

We usually get a Noble Fir, but standing very tall and shaggy, was a Nordman. This was a new type of tree to us, but we liked the height and slightly careless look , so we had the nice fellow tie it to Miles’s roof and took it home.


Sneakin’ in the tree

Our new garage is narrow and pretty full, so it took some real maneuvering to get it in and upstairs…but once installed, it fit perfectly. Grandpa Nelson put up the lights and I brought boxes of ornaments in from the garage, for Sunday’s decorating.

After resting a bit, we wanted to go visit the Open Studio of our friend Nicole Crucio, who makes ceramics. We met her at an Art Show this last summer, when we were headed for Silver Falls. Nicole’s studio is in southeast Portland, in her basement, with a good sized kiln and lots of space. We enjoyed looking at her vases, plaques and paintings.

Nicole Crucio’s work by the fire

She shared her show the her friend Jeni Lee, who does wonderful acrylic paintings with raindrops!! These capture the beautifully atmospheric conditions here in the Northwest and feel cool and welcoming.

Jeni Lee and her raindrop acrylics

At Nicole’s, we also met her dog Stevie, who is very sweet and loves to show off her tricks. She does a figure eight between Nicole’s legs, rolls over, and dances. She was fun. We also ate some cookies from the Morsel Code Cookie Company, baked by a lady who wants cookies to taste good but be less bad for you! Amen to that. Very tasty, indeed.

Nicole and Stevie, showing off

Back home, Auntie Bridgett started the wrapping g of the goodies we had bought on Hawthorne ….coming to you, heading the San Diego for kidlets there, and some staying here in Portland.

Tomorrow, we decorate the tree!!


Grandma Judy