Lovely Damp

Dear Liza,

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Fall Sunset

We are now getting into the part of Fall that is damp and grey. If it is isn’t raining at any given moment, it has recently stopped or will begin again soon. When we were thinking of moving to Portland, this is one thing I worried about….as a former Southern California beach girl and Salinas resident, how would I do in a fairly constant situation of damp?

So far, it suits me right down to the ground. Granted, I am not working, so I don’t have damp students or muddy shoes to deal with, and we have a cozy warm house that keeps the chill away.

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Mushrooms in Laurelhurst Park

But even outside, there is so much life and beauty that it’s hard to be too fussy about it. At Laurelhurst Park there are mushrooms that spring like fairy lamp posts from the mud, and leaves that sparkle on the dark paths.

We have even found a sweet chestnut tree! We have named it Leila, after my aunt who had eleven children, because she is so prolific. Yesterday evening, when it was nearly dark, we foraged about eight pounds of chestnuts.

Walking through Ladd’s Addition, where Auntie Katie lives, is a joy, as well. The old trees and shady yards feel like a forest, with moss, ferns and earth that smells alive and happy. When the clouds part for a minute, the sunshine is so glorious that people stop and smile.

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Foresty front yard in Ladd’s Addition

Meanwhile, inside, there is quilting and reading, split pea soup with bacon and Halloween monster movies.

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!

Evening Walk in Laurelhurst

Dear Liza,

In case you missed me and my blog over the weekend, I have decided that I will only be posting on weekdays, and taking weekends off. I am feeling like I’m so busy writing about life, I’m not having time to DO life. But for now…

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Firwood Lake reflections

We are at the part of Fall where it can be warm during the day, cool in the evening, but still light enough to walk after dinner. If I am quick to get out and careful, I can take some nice photos.

In the neighborhood around Laurelhurst Park, there are signs of Fall everywhere. Leaves changing, seed pods doing amazing things, squash and pumpkins swelling and getting fat for Halloween, crows scavenging.

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Seed pod magic

Sitting by Firwood Lake, the pond inside the park, I kept seeing reflections and shadows, trying to channel my inner Monet.

Dahlias, one of Auntie Bridgett’s favorite flowers, are still blooming, catching the lower light in their dense petals.IMG_0583.jpg

And, of course, chestnuts! The scary-muppet looking ones that you can eat, and the studded-motorcycle-jacket ones that you can’t are both falling like rocks from trees all over the neighborhood. Keep your hats on!

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CAN eat…sweet chestnut!

And, as Edith Ann used to say, that’s all I have to say about that.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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CAN’T eat…horse chestnut!

New in the Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

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Beautiful work by Valerie S. Goodwin

Rain was predicted Wednesday, but not until later in the day, so after working all morning, Auntie Bridgett and I enjoyed a walk to the Belmont Library. She had books to return and pick up, and I always like to see what they have.

I found a book called  Art Quilt Maps by Valerie S. Goodwin. Valerie is an architect who also happens to be a fabulous quilter and artist. She loves maps, quilts, and haikus! I will be reading it closely and trying some of my own art map quilts this winter.

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Newest tiny library

On the way home, we walked on a side of Alder we usually don’t, and discovered something new. One of the lovely old Victorian homes now has a tiny free library out front! It’s hard to see because the trees are a bit overgrown, but it is well built and I found a small coloring book for Kestrel.

Near the library is our newest sweet chestnut tree. Remember I told you about chestnuts and how only a few are the kind you can eat? This is one on those!! This makes five, I think, that we have located. We will be going by with bags, come November, and picking up a few.

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Sweet chestnuts!

We got home, worked some more, and had dinner. I was thinking of going out and enjoying the park when whoosh!! Rain, wind, thunder and lightning! It was amazing!

Grandpa Nelson and I tried to sit out on the balcony and enjoy it, since we have a nice overhang, but the wind and splashes chased us inside. Then hail started bouncing off the railing and balcony floor! And just a week ago we were complaining about the heat.

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Joyous rainstorm!

We made sure we knew where the flashlights were and settled in for the evening, since walking through a forested park during a lightning storm is a bad idea. I felt so cozy and wintry, I even dug out my knitting needles and some new yarn I found on the sidewalk and started a scarf.

I guess Fall has fallen!

Love,

Grandma Judy

New, Old, and Changing

Dear Liza,

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Giant Dahlias

Here in Portland, Summer isn’t willing to give up just yet. The roses and dahlias are blooming in what looks like a joyous shout before tucking in for the colder months. Portland is known as The Rose City (since 1888, anyway) but all flowers do well here.

We are having days that start damp and grey with wet sidewalks, burst into sunshine for lunch dates, then get cloudy again by dinner. It is dramatic and beautiful.

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Coy Dahlias

Our painters are almost done with the outside of the building, so today I get to put all Momma’s geraniums back on the patio. The poor plants have been holding their collective breath for two weeks, in a foyer with not enough sunlight or fresh air.

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Geraniums in exile

The Green Rain trees in the neighborhood are putting on their big show: seeds pods! They start as small swellings on the bud, and are now these bunches of pods that rattle like maracas when you shake them…which I do, every time I go by! Hey, it’s a toy, I’m a just big kid…what do you expect?

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Green Rain Tree

Today I will walk up to Yen’s and have her cut my hair. I am feeling too shaggy and need to spruce up a bit. Also, I want to show her this photo of the ginger cutting she gave us when we were last in, about 7 weeks ago. Bridgett put the cutting in water and, after a rocky start, sprouted roots like crazy! I am sure she will be happy to see her baby doing well.

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Yen’s Ginger sprouting!

Off to make the day happen!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Believe it or not…

Dear Liza,

I know it has been, and still is hot here, but fall is definitely on the way. This morning there is a slight chill in the air. Some leaves are starting to turn. Kids are shopping for school clothes.

And the chestnuts are getting big. Last year was my first year in chestnut country, so I was just fascinated by these armored, spiky, golf ball sized nuts. Bridgett and I marveled at them and, when they started falling, collected about 30 pounds of the smooth,  mahogany colored things. We loved their color, their impressive size, and their smooth surface, like polished wood. We had big plans.

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Part of last year’s lovely, but useless, chestnuts

We would enjoy their beauty, maybe even make ornaments out of them, then roast them and eat them! “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” would be ours!!! Bwahahaha!

So we researched the best way to roast them, not having an open fire at our disposal. Hmmm. Turns out, there are two kinds of chestnuts….horse chestnuts, which you CAN’T eat because they are poisonous, and sweet chestnuts, which you CAN. The leaves and tree shape are the same. How to tell the difference? The differences in the wooden looking nut are slight and I was never sure which was which. I wasn’t willing to bet my health on it.

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Green hulls of sweet chestnuts

But the differences between both the flower and the green hulls that grow outside the woody part are very clear. The sweet chestnuts have flowers that are spiky, and green hulls that look like Muppets. The horse chestnuts’ flowers are rounded, and their hulls more like a medieval spiked mace. So this summer, we have made note of where each are growing.

Oddly, the poisonous kind are much more common. Whether it is a difference in disease resistance or just accidental, the people in charge of planting them, probably 50 years ago, planted a bunch of ‘conkers’ you can’t use. The only sweet chestnut tree we have found is near the entrance to the Lone Fir Cemetery. I walked by today and admired them, promising I would return when they fell.

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Green hulls of horse chestnuts

We still don’t have an open fire, but we have a lovely gas oven. We will adjust. And Nat King Cole will be playing.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Neighborhood Clearing

Dear Liza,

Every time I go out into the neighborhood, I see new things. The falling leaves are allowing more details to show.

For example, garden decorations that have been covered by overgrown trees and bushes are coming into view. This retaining wall for a house down by Hawthorne Street shows its decoration of old doorknobs, but only when the ferns die back in fall.

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Door knob decoration

This obelisk has been covered by one rosebush, which has now been cut back to just a few twigs for the winter, revealing the lovely sculpture.

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Garden Obelisk

Of course, leaf clearing and collection continues. This pile that was taller than you was waiting to be scooped up down by Laurelhurst Park. Inside the park, small trucks drive down the paved paths and blow the leaves onto the grass areas, where they are vacuumed up later. This is good, because the paths get really slippery and dangerous where the leaves sit and start to rot.

Also inside Laurelhurst, the workers are putting in net tubes filled with wood chips. These help keep the ground from washing away on hillsides. This series of tubes was put just below the off leash dog area, where there is a bit of a creek flowing during heavy rains.

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Erosion protection
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More leaves

The other day I saw my first sinkhole! A sinkhole is what happens when the ground underneath a street gets washed away, so the asphalt has nothing to sit on, and starts to collapse. This one was in the middle of the Washington Street and 27th intersection, marked by orange cones so no one would drive over or fall in!

Life just keeps getting more interesting up here.See you in January!

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Sinkhole!!!