Animal Friends

Dear Liza,

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Mousekin in her new favorite place

Today I went on a walk and got to see some interesting critters. Then I got home and hung out with another one.

On my walk to run errands, I met three free range chickens. According to their sign, the are Froggy, Zen and Wolfie. They have a lovely chicken coop and yard, but love to explore. As I knelt down to take their picture, they came right up to say hello! A woman was walking by with her baby, and it appeared they were all old friends. The chickens clucked their way over and the baby laughed like crazy.

 

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Free Range Friends

Further along, I saw a sad sight….a beautiful old tree had blown down in the wind. It missed all the cars on the street, which was something of an automotive guardian angel miracle. Looking at the trunk, I saw that the whole inside of the tree was dry and rotten, with what looks like termite damage. The tree had probably been dead for years, just waiting to be knocked down.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dead Tree Falling

As I was looking, these two sweet corgis came by, saying hello to me but clearly upset at the loss of a fine peeing tree.

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Corgis saying goodbye to an old friend

After walking about three miles, all my errands were done: dry cleaner, banking, doctor appointment, and shopping. I got home, chilly and tired, and sat in front of our lovely fireplace. Mousekin is loving it, as well. Second only to Grandpa Nelson’s lap, the hearth is her favorite place to be.

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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Dodgin’ Raindrops

Dear Liza,IMG_1874.jpeg

Today I took a walk through the neighborhood, on my to Collage. This arts and crafts shop is about a mile away, on Division Street, but is the closest place where I can buy embroidery thread. Besides, I love seeing how the neighborhood changes every day.

Rain was predicted, but, as my Momma used to say, I’m not made of sugar.

Today I met a fellow taking a picture of this persimmon tree. The tree has no leaves at all, but is full of persimmons, just too high to reach!

Along the way I noticed the retaining walls. Most old houses in Portland have basements, so the house sits above the street. The yard is made flat by these walls, which can show a lot of characters. Some are just mossy, but others have decorations or are practically their own gardens.IMG_1859.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was also this pile of mulch, leftover from someone who bought too much. The sign says: “OMG!  Please Take Some!”

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Collage didn’t have any of the color embroidery floss I was after, but Henry, the manager, took his time matching the color to his online order form, and it will be in next week so I can finish my project.

When I got home, this shadow of Mouse was on the wall of the landing….IMG_1807.jpeg

Another nice day in Portland.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

 

New Decoration

Dear Liza,

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Shelf fungus

No, I don’t mean Christmas! Well, not totally, and not quite yet.

Auntie Bridgett has gotten her boxes down, and there are candles and angels perched here and there…but what I’m talking about today is the change OUTSIDE.

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Happy Moss

Since we got home from Thanksgiving in San Diego, the wet weather had kicked in.

The rain has knocked most of the remaining leaves into tall, soggy piles in gutters, waiting to be hauled away on neighborhood “leaf days”.

The branches left behind are architectural and magnificent.

Moss is blooming, mushrooms are sprouting. I am in awe of the amount of life on every inch of stone wall and tree trunk.

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Deciduous vines on a wall

I love our wet weather. Of course, it means a few more layers and a fluffy hat under my brimmed hat, but it’s all good.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

Wet Fall Beauty

Dear Liza,

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Mushrooms

As we say slide towards winter, we are remembering the beauty of bright leaves on shiny roads and all the mysteries of the forest coming to the surface.

Laurelhurst Park is, of course, my favorite place in Portland. As cool and busy a playroom as it is in summer, it is a place of small life in fall.

Last year, around this time, we saw a fellow raking leaves into heart shapes and appreciated his art for art’s sake. Yesterday I may have seen his work again, as this wonderful “Yellow Brick Road” leaf installation greeted us uphill from the lake.

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Leaf art installation

Walking today, I saw a plaque near the Pine Street entrance to the Park. It commemorates the planting of this huge oak tree in 1932 by the Wakeenah Chapter of the DAR (The Daughters of the American Revolution) to celebrate the 200th birthday of George Washington.

 

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DAR Plaque

In a funny way, all the leaves falling reminds me of a speech from The Merchant of Venice, where Portia talks about mercy “blessing both he who gives and he who receives”.

 

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Blessed is he who gives…

 

 

Having given up their leaves, the trees show their beautiful branch structure, allowing us to see beauty that is hidden in summer. It also makes the ground more beautiful, blessing both the tree and the ground.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

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And he who receives…

Another Kidlet Evening

Dear Liza,

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Fierce Jasper Ninja

Happy Halloween again!!

I loved living in Salinas because I got to spend time with you, and, not surprisingly, one of the best parts about Portland is being able to see the Cousins as often as I want.

Last night I gathered chicken and Brussels Sprouts for dinner, Jasper’s costume, cookies to decorate AND the frosting, and walked down to Ladd’s Addition. The rain had stopped and I had a nice sun-in-my-eyes walk through wet neighborhoods and bright leaves.

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Naked Cookies

I laid out the cookies and colored the frosting, then got dinner started. Things were well underway when Auntie Katie, Jasper and Kestrel got home from Books with Pictures and Abernethy Elementary School. Everyone picked a cookie and started in, being careful and artful in their work. Auntie Katie’s witch cookie cracked me up, and Kestrel’s appreciation of the phases of the moon was lovely to see.

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Self-Portrait? I think not!
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Tasty Astronomy

Once we had eaten dinner and finished decorating (and eating!) the cookies, it was time to try on costumes. Jasper seemed very happy with his Stealth Ninja, and the costume wasn’t nearly as too-big as I had expected. He is growing so fast! He looked very fierce.

Kestrel’s costume for Halloween is a pirate, and she has it all together except the eye patch.

As the evening wound down, I texted Grandpa Nelson to come fetch me, and got home in time to watch a scary 1935 movie, Mad Love, starring Peter Lorre in his first American movie. He was so creepy!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

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End of the Evening…

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