Long Walk to the River….

Dear Liza,

I woke up Tuesday feeling the need to take charge of something, to get out and DO.The weather was predicted to be cool in the morning and get really warm by noon, so whatever I was going to do had to happen early.

Bright changing leaves dazzle the eye…

So, right after coffee and before Grandpa Nelson was out of bed, I headed off for a long walk through the Fall sunshine. I headed toward the river. This is sort of cheating because it is all down hill, but the neighborhood is wonderful.

I found this poem by Jellaludin Rumi framed in a safe place. I liked the sentiment, but also the way my reflection got into the picture. It made this idea of “being human” even more human!

“This Being Human” by Rumi

I continued through Ladd’s Addition and into the more industrial part of the Southeast. This fabulous mural, with live plants for hair, was painted by Fin DAC and is called “Attitude of Gratitude.” The building houses a fancy Cuban restaurant on the ground floor and apartments above, and the main office of Solterra, a company that makes vertical planters like the lady’s hair.

Attitude of Gratitude

The area by the railroad tracks and warehouses is a bit run down, but in the bright sunshine, with the river and West Hills just beyond, everything looked pretty.

A bit cluttered, but very pretty…

After about an hour of solid walking, I found the Willamette River! On this sunny day, it was busy with kayakers, jet skis, and motorboats, all dancing on the sparkling water.

The mighty Willamette River

Tilikum Crossing Bridge is the newest bridge in the city and my absolute favorite. It was built in 2015 just for transit and pedestrians.The blue of the sky and the white cables made for a lovely sight. Mount Hood, just sixty miles away, was barely visible through the haze to the East.

Not so far away Mt. Hood

I spent quite a lot of time on the bridge, soaking up the breeze and the sunshine.

Built with no right angles, to let the wind spill off

But where to go next? I’ll tell you tomorrow!

Happy me!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Marking Time with Sunflowers

Dear Liza,

We woke up this morning to some really cool air wafting though our windows! Fall is definitely on its way, and I am happy for it. With this endless summer finally ready to pack it in, I am assured that time is passing.

And if we keep moving forward, eventually we will get somewhere else.

So I celebrate the sunflowers. These magnificent beasts spend the spring shooting into the sky and the summer tracking the sun. And come fall, they lay their heavy heads down and make a feast for birds. One could do worse.

I know your world in Salinas is very smoky just now, from the fires in the hills west of town. I hope you have some sunflowers in your neighborhood, and I hope you get some nice rain soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Dancing in the Leaves

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Auntie Bridgett dancing in the leaves

Dear Liza,

(Another silly song. The original is “Singing in the Rain)

I’m singing in the leaves,

just singing in the leaves,

It’s finally cool and I’m wearing long sleeves.

The fat happy clouds,

Are up in the sky,img_0618.jpg

Just waiting for raindrops to plop in my eye.

The purple smell ofIMG_0848.jpg grapes

And sweet Suzette crepes,

Make all of dear Portland a charming landscape

I’ll walk as I please

Through the fresh, chilly breeze

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All of a sudden…

I’m dancing and singing in the leaves!

Busy Winter Weekend

Dear Liza,

Hello from Portland! Fall keeps passing, with most of the trees completely bare now. The ginkgo in Laurelhurst Park is a rare exception, but is fading fast.

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Last of the yellow ginkgo trees

On Friday, Grandpa Nelson and I walked down to Hawthorne Street to have dinner at another McMenamin’s restaurant. This is The Baghdad Cafe and is delightfully quirky, with oriental rugs on the walls, paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and the signature McMenamin’s hand-painted murals decorating any bare spot. The food was very good! I had a Harvest Moon Salad, with roasted sweet potatoes, pecans, and goat cheese …mmmm…

After dinner we walked a whole 20 feet to the Baghdad Theater, where the new Pixar movie, Coco, is showing. The Baghdad Theater is also decorated in the whimsical style of the McMenamin brothers, and we enjoyed looking at the design details before the movie.

The movie itself was stunning. The animation is bright and colorful, and the story is real, human and beautiful. It also has is sad in spots, so take a tissue. We laughed out loud in parts, and cried like babies in others. The movie is about family and music and finding oneself.

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Painted tapestry in Back Stage Bar

After we recovered from the emotional roller coaster of Coco, we walked another 20 feet, past a small cigar bar (too stinky!) called Trump’s, to the Back Stage Bar. Still a part of the Baghdad property, this is a long, narrow room with a ceiling at least 50 feet high. It used to be the backstage of the theater, where all the giant canvas backdrops were stored. It is now weirdly wonderful, with some of the backdrops, old neon signs, pool tables and pinball, and a perfectly restored old cherry wood bar. Up to our earlobes in emotion, visual beauty and music, we walked home through a nice drizzle.

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Weirdly beautiful Back Stage Bar

Saturday afternoon was Cousin Jasper’s eighth birthday party. I foolishly left my camera at home, so have no pictures of the boys playing video games or the cake Uncle Dave made with a game controller done in frosting on top. Auntie Katie, her friend Chelsea, cousin Kestrel and I escaped the video game nuttiness by reading comics in the other room.

On Saturday evening, Auntie Bridgett came home!!! She had stayed in San Diego with her sister for the week and we missed her like a tricycle misses its last wheel. She had caught a cold and we spend the rest of the evening keeping her warm and making sure she drank lots of tea.

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Naked Tree

Sunday was another big adventure: Getting the Christmas tree! After several wild goose chases, Grandpa Nelson remembered seeing a sign for a lot at 48th and Belmont….and there were trees! It just started drizzling when we found the perfect one and the nice young fellow loaded it up on Miles the Volkswagen (who we protected with a heavy packing blanket, of course). Our tree was so fresh it still had moss and leaves on it from the forest, and is just wonky enough to be charming.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening choosing the ornaments to go on it. Auntie Bridgett has so many ornaments, they don’t all fit, so we only put our favorite ones up….some are from your great grandma Billie, 50 years ago, and some are from our more recent travels. I love that every year we get to re-tell our story with the decorations.

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Fully dressed tree with kitten

It was so nice this morning to wake up to the tree, Auntie Bridgett back home, and a kitten sleeping on the rug.

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Colors

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Moss on bark

Dear Liza,

 

It took me most of yesterday to get over the long day in San Francisco! I slept in, played with the cat, and in the evening we all rode the #20 downtown to Powell’s City of Books, the biggest independently owned bookstore in America.

Shopping, or even just browsing, the shelves at Powell’s is a treat. There is also a cafe in case you get hungry, and lots of chairs to sit in.

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Quince tree

But last night, we went to listen to Armistead Maupin talk about his new book, “A Logical Family”. It is about him growing up in the South. I haven’t read the book, but Mr. Maupin is funny, true, and delightful. His “Tales of the City” was made into a television series years ago and we enjoyed it very much.

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No idea, but pretty

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Ferns growing WAY up a maple tree

Today I spent the morning planning my Halloween costume. I will tell you about it soon.After lunch, Auntie Bridgett and I walked in the park and I took more pictures, because everything keeps changing! Rain is predicted to start this afternoon and rain for 5 solid days, so getting any outside time may be difficult….you need to get out while you can, as they say.

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Munchies for the Birds!
 

I hear you banged your head at school and got 5 stitches. Your Daddy says you were a very good sport about the whole adventure. Good for you! We all get a few bashes along the way, and you just need to smile, get stitched back up, and head off again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Fall Colors

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Dear Liza,

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Local trees go berserk
The air feels different. It is cooler, drier and has the smell of the end of summer. Aunt Bridgett and I walked through Laurelhurst Park yesterday for the first time in a week or so, and it felt like visiting an old friend who got a new haircut. All our favorite places and trees were there, but the fall has painted them brilliantly.

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Set off against a perfect blue sky
I am off today to visit a quilt show at the Expo Center, which is way up by the Columbia River. I am taking the Y#20 Downtown, then the Yellow Max line, all by myself. It will be exciting to see a whole new part of the city from the train windows! I will take pictures so I can show you.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Best crayons ever