Reading the Signs

Dear Liza,

There is an expression,”It’s a sign of the times.” This usually means something is a clear, visual example of what is happening. Today I decided to share some of my signs of different times with you.

When I first started traveling to Europe, I was struck by signs and posters that would not have existed in the U.S.

In Cambridge……

This 300 year old sign for Jesus Lane is on the campus of Jesus College at Cambridge University in England. In our country, religion has become so politicized and I doubt this sign would survive vandalism.

In London…..

On the other side of the coin, this poster for theater tickets would probably be considered too weird for the American market. It’s ironic that in a country that touts Free Speech there is such a “you can’t say/show/ wear that” reaction.

Man wrestling with an umbrella

This street construction warning sign makes me laugh, because of its original nickname in England, “Man wrestling with umbrella.” Also, if you look closely at the smaller sign, horrible things are happening.

In Paris…..

Other signs make me smile because of where they are. Seeing this wonderful sign showing an entrance to the Paris metro would mean I am in that magical city.


And not far from that sign is this one, for the narrowest street still existing in the ancient part of Paris. The name means “The Street of the Cat Who Fishes.”

Back in California, this sign touches my heart and feeds all my senses. Crows and cypress trees grow in my happy place at Asilomar, and looking at this parking sign, I can smell the fog and feel the sand between my toes. Oh, and taste the good food at The Fishwife, just up the hill a bit.

Missing Asilomar…

And in my new home, there are signs, too. This one, at The Enchanted Forest south of Portland, is greatly improved by Jasper showing his high score on the “Return to Mordor” ride.

Being with kidlets….

And these signs at a protest for the Trump administration’s policy of separating and imprisoning immigrant families touched my heart and let me know I was in good company.

Finding kindred spirits…

What are your signs of the times? What visuals make you smile, or travel to another time or place?


Grandma Judy

The Enchanted Forest

Dear Liza,

Thursday, Grandpa Nelson took the day off and drove Cousins Jasper, Kestrel and me 45 minutes south to The Enchanted Forest, near Salem. This lovely old theme park was built in 1971 by Roger Tofte on a low budget and with no corporate sponsors. This was his dream, and it took seven years to build. It is still being run by his grandchildren!

Heading in

Grandpa Nelson and I visited The Enchanted Forest when your mommy Katie was little, and a lot of what we loved is still here. The cute castle entrance, friendly staff, and shady forest help a lot when visiting on a hot day with small children. The small scale, and quiet, walk- through experience is engaging and non-threatening, even with witches around.

A walk-through, slide-out witch

We visited Storybook Lane, where Humpty Dumpty sits on his wall, Little Red Riding Hood meets the Wolf, and we walked (with difficulty) through the crooked man’s crooked house.

There are new things to see, as well. There is Tofteville, an gold mining town, named after the original builder. It has a shooting gallery and Fort Fearless, which has tunnels to walk and crawl through. It was a tight fit, but I made it!

In the medieval village section, we saw a Dancing Waters Show while having pizza for lunch, and a music group performed rousing Irish music. Cousin Jasper got to shoot dragons and other bad guys in the Challenge of Mondor, and got enough points to be a Knight!

Jasper Victorious!

While we were walking around the Enchanted Forest, we were having so much fun that we hadn’t noticed that we were always going UP the hill. But looking over the trees, we realized we had climbed a hundred feet or more! Up near the top we found our last attractions for the day, the RIDES.

Knowing that some theme parks make their money with big, scary rides, I was worried. But these were “Kiddie Rides”, exactly the right size and scariness for Jasper and Kestrel, and the “height restrictions” meant you couldn’t be taller than 54 inches to ride! There were bumper boats, a Ferris wheel, Frog Hopper dropping ride, a carousel, and a tiny train. The kids rode and laughed and chatted with the operators.

Chatting with Lynette at the Ferris Wheel

There were bigger rides around the other side of the park, but we didn’t go there. It was getting hotter and we were all wearing out. It was time to head home. The air conditioned car and cool drinks of water felt very nice on the way home.

I sure slept well that night!


Grandma Judy