Glowing Fall

Dear Liza,

We had a slow walk around Laurelhurst Park on Thanksgiving, to settle our dinner and enjoy being out in the world. Laurelhurst was planted in 1913, so most of the trees are huge. It feels like a tame forest and is my favorite place in the city.

Auntie Bridgett takes some pictures

This Fall, Firwood Lake is covered with duckweed and looks more like lawn than a pond. It is oddly beautiful.

Firwood Lake and oak trees

The old-fashioned lamps look beautiful against the trees in any season.

Ginkgoes and lamppost

The bright yellow of birches and ginkgoes brightens up the darkest corners of the woods.

Ginkgo glowing down the way

On a day when we were not with friends or family and were feeling a little sad, it was good to get out and be part of the beauty.

I hope you have a good week.

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Beauty of Letting Go

Dear Liza,

With the Corona virus having another spike here in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown has called for a ‘pause’. We are not going out to restaurants, even for take out. Our big weekly adventure is grocery shopping. But we do go out for a walk every day, and the leaves have been absolutely inspirational.
So I am playing with poetry again.

Red, like sunset, piled on the sidewalk

Red, like flowers, blowing down the street

Red, like candy, drifting in the gullies

Dancing along to the world’s heart beat

And some haiku:

Leaves on the sidewalk

Colors jumbled like confetti

After summer’s last fling

Arches of color

Bright gothic cathedrals

Welcome us home from the rain

Orange against blue

Making both brighter

Color theory come to life

I hope you like playing with words, too!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Fall Color

Dear Liza,

In Fall, Portland puts on some really fabulous colors. And today was so bright and chilly that we went out for a walk to enjoy them.

I love walking in the late afternoon because the light pours beautifully through the leaves.

The cosmos flowers one of our neighbors planted have gotten taller than me! They looked so pretty against the bright blue sky.

The last of the sunflowers are still blooming nicely just beside the cosmos.

We were getting very chilly on our walk, and passed by the Nandinas on our way home.

The weather forecast for to night is 29 degrees, just a little below freezing. I have moved the geraniums from Great Grandma Billie’s garden closer to the house and will cover them with a sheet to protect them from the frost.

Our movie for the evening is Cary Grant in “Arsenic and Old Lace”.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Topaz Farm

Dear Liza,

On Friday I got to spend a wonderful evening with Auntie Katie and Cousins Jasper and Kestrel. It was a real adventure!

Cousin Jasper bring in the pumpkins…

Auntie Katie drove us through Friday evening rush hour traffic up to Sauvie Island. We went to a farm where her friend Peggy works, called the Topaz Farm. It was nearly 5:00 when we got there, but Peggy assured us that there was a lot of fun to be had before the sun went down.

Peggy!

Kestrel and Jasper had great fun running around the extremely diverse pumpkin patch, admiring and adopting pumpkins as they went along. “George” would get googly eyes and a feathered hat, Kestrel decided, and a little white one would sit and watch.

Me posing with “George”.

Once the pumpkins were corralled in the car, Peggy took us over to meet the goats. There were several goats, including one just a month old. We were allowed to feed them bunches of basil, which made everyone smell delightfully of pesto.

Happy kids of all sorts

There were also turkeys, ducks, and an outstanding Goth chicken.

Goth chicken and random Turkey

The pigs had gone to sleep by that time, but the sign in their pen let us know what sort of sneaky critters they were!

Warning: Wily pigs!

The sun was beginning to go down as we headed into the Corn Maze. There were maps posted at every checkpoint, and we still managed to get delightfully lost. We picked and nibbled some corn, and Jasper held into an ear “as a weapon, just in case”.

Auntie Katie and Kestrel, tramping through the corn maze

We wandered into the barn where all sorts of apple things were being sold. Cider, caramel apples, hand pies, and mushrooms, all got loaded into a box. We sat out in the gathering dark and enjoyed feeling almost normal, almost pre-Covid. We bought some kettle corn for Grandpa Nelson and the kids climbed in a tree until it was literally too dark to see.

Zinnias in the sunset

I was one tired, happy Grandma by the time I got home. Life is good. Stay safe, stay well.

Fun well past sundown

Love,

Grandma Judy

First Rainy Day!

Dear Liza,

It rained Saturday!

It’s sweater weather!!
Cutie pie Bridgett with her cool umbrella

It was a big, fat, wet, grey day. So of course we went for a walk!

Pretty raindrops on Nandinas

We had some errands to run, to mail some packages and pick up a replacement coffee grinder. We found lots of puddles, happy wet dogs, and kids in new rubber boots. Bright leaves floated down the gutters and stuck to our shoes.

Clouds moving along

By the time we had dropped off and picked up, the first wave of the storm had moved along and some blue skies showed through.

And when we got home, we drew, painted, and cooked, enjoying the sound of the wind and scattering leaves.

By the time the chili and corn bread were ready, the second wave had come and we listened to the rain through open windows.

Happy Rain!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Invasion of the Duck Weed

Dear Liza,

I haven’t been going to the park much this Summer, because so many of the folks who visit do not wear masks and I would rather stay safe. But I love Laurelhurst Park, and I have missed it. So, today I masked up and headed off.

All our favorite trees are still there, and some are even showing a bit of fall color.

But Firwood Lake, home to dozens of ducks, turtles and fish, is covered with GREEN!

A tiny plant called Duckweed is growing so thick, it looks like a soccer field…smooth and green. It is not dangerous to anyone, and the birds and fish like it. But it sure looks weird.

Just don’t try to walk on it!

The only places where the duckweed isn’t growing are where the circulation pumps are, which disturbs the surface of the water.

Round, rippled holes in the duckweed

In our three years visiting Laurelhurst Park, we have seen giant trees fall, new ones get planted, Shakespeare performances, and even Big Band concerts. So I guess an outbreak of manic duckweed isn’t surprising. But I wanted to share it with you.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Neighborhood Updates

Dear Liza,

The fires are still burning in Oregon and California, and many thousands of folks have lost their homes. Locally, the winds have shifted, so we here in Portland are not suffering. The only damage we have so far is that my bonsai, The Hundred Acre Wood, was left outside for a few days of smoke, and its leaves have shriveled.

Very shriveled Hundred Acre Wood

I’m not sure if it is totally dead or if the smoke has just caused it to go into a sort of premature hibernation, but for now it is getting regular care out on the balcony. We will see what happens come Spring.

We walk around our neighborhood a lot, and when we do, we notice things. New paint jobs, blooming cherry trees, sunflowers taller than our heads. And sometimes, trash. Sometimes, a lot of trash.

This morning Auntie Bridgett and I gathered up our trash buckets and bags, our new grabbers, our new VOTE masks, and headed out.

All kitted up…

Our day working with SolveOregon.org last month made us feel empowered to help. We don’t have to just step over the trash and disapprove of it. We can DO something about it. It is what my dad would want us to do.

Be the change you want to see….

We picked up lots of paper and cigarette butts, beer cans, old nasty socks and even masks. Following the SolveOregon guidelines, though, there are some things we won’t touch. These jugs, for example, contain materials that are likely to be toxic, and have been sitting on this curb for months and months.

Nope, not going to deal with those!!

I have researched which city department is in charge of removing such things (Environmental Quality) and called to make them aware of the situation, and gave the address.

I like that we can take charge of a part of our world. Little changes can help. Litter pick up. Donations to local charities. Buying from local shops. Voting, voting, and…. voting.

Acting locally, making a difference.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Leaves and Seeds

Dear Liza,

Fall is the time for endings and beginnings. The trees teach us that, and here in our neighborhood I have lots of teachers!

It’s Conker season!

The huge oaks and chestnut trees are shedding their leaves, which have danced all summer long.

Sweet chestnuts and acorns

They are casting their collective futures to the wind as seeds come clonking to the ground. Acorns, chestnuts, fir cones, and tiny maple helicopters fall and fly and eventually pile up, hoping to find just the right place to take root.

Golden Rain tree with its maraca-seed pods

I think it is fitting that our human institutions are tied to this idea of endings and beginnings. Summer ends, school starts. Elections allow for new directions for our city and country.

Time for a change!

Happy Fall!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Helping the City, Helping Ourselves

Dear Liza,

On Thursday we got a chance to do good work for Portland. Grandpa Nelson got us signed up with a group called SolveOregon, who use volunteers to cleanup and repair around the state.

Our group downtown

We got up early and drove downtown to help with litter clean up. Except in the area just around the Federal Building, (where the protests and conflicts with police have been happening every night for three months), most of the storefronts are fine and businesses are open.

A whole bunch of people, patiently waiting to help!

Our check-in location was at the Mark Spencer Hotel, where ninety masked but friendly people waited in line to get directions and equipment. We collected our long handled grabbers, gloves, and plastic bags, and headed off.

It was slow going, because most of the litter we were picking up were small, like bottle caps or cigarette butts. It took us a while to get the hang of handling the grabbers. We walked along, heads down, focusing on the sidewalk. About every fifteen minutes we would look up and check in with each other and figure out where we were.

I am sorry for the lack of photos to tell this story, but it was difficult to use my phone while wearing gloves, a mask, and carrying a bag and grabbers. I made a choice to do the work well instead of photo-documenting.

As we walked along, we were pleasantly surprised by folks’s reactions. People would roll down the window of their cars and holler “Thank you!!”. A postal worker stopped us and told us how much he appreciated our help to make the city better. Auntie Bridgett made sure he knew that we appreciated his work, too.

Half of our neighborhood’s haul

After two hours, we had a satisfying amount of garbage in our bags, and were pretty much done in, and turned in our grabbers. We chatted with Sarah, our group leader, who let us know we could help in other ways, and directed us to the website to check it out.

Lunch!!

We had a wonderful, filling lunch at the Zeus Cafe, a McMeniman’s restaurant just a block from where we were working. I hadn’t realized how hungry or tired I was! By the time we got home, I could hardly walk up the stairs.

A nice thought for the day. And maybe, the year.

I am happy that we spent a few hours doing something to help our city. We have had recent problems, caused by the pandemic and social unrest, but we are also just a big city with millions of people smoking, doing business, and eating. It takes maintenance to keep it up.

And today I got to help.

Love,

Grandma Judy

…And Back Again

Dear Liza,

Once I got to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, I had intended to head right back home, but my Dad’s voice whispered “Go home a different way, so you see something different.”

Art made with cables and sky

So I continued across the bridge to the Westside. The pedestrian walkway has recently been finished and makes for a very pleasant, if warm, walk between the bridges. There were more adventurers out and about.

Kayakers out and about

I found Poet’s Beach, a side path lined with stones that are carved with poetry written by students, years ago.

Thanks, Phoebe!

It is loud, because it is right under the double decker Marquam Bridge, but worth a read and a visit.

The extremely loud Marquam Bridge

By this time, my feet and my phone batteries were telling me it was time to head home. I decided to cross back over the Hawthorne Bridge. I love the views of bridges from other bridges!

The Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges… from the Hawthorne.

Of course, political statements are everywhere. I liked this re-purposed public service message.

You can see a lot of Portland from bridges, too. Joggers, cyclists, the Burnside Bridge and the Convention Center are all in these shots.

Once I was back on the Eastside, I realized I was hungry, and came upon Asylum, a food Court on the site of Dr. Hawthorne’s Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. This much-respected institution stood from 1862 to 1883. It closed when the good Doctor died and burned to the ground a few years later.

The space has a steampunk cartoony vibe, with trash containers that made me laugh, and really tasty food.

I had pot stickers from the Thai place and enjoyed some people and art watching.

The Asylum gates ….

Once I was fed, I still had a mile walk, all uphill, to get home. I paced myself, admiring gardens, appreciating shade, and visiting with nice folks. I had done what I had intended to do, walked a total of 6.2 miles, and it felt good.

By the way, as you can tell, Portland is not “in flames”. We are fine. The protests are being exploited by the President and his allies who want to use Portland as an excuse to use strong arm tactics against his political enemies. He is lying.

Took the words out of my mouth!

Stay alert, stay well, and remember I love you.

Grandma Judy