Walking for Sculpture

Dear Liza,

We have been having such sunny weather that I have been walking every day. Yesterday, I took Auntie Bridgett on a bit of a wild goose chase looking for some sculpture.

We had two items on our agenda: to eat a picnic lunch in a park, and for me to show Bridgett a front yard full of sculptures that I had seen the day before. I thought I remembered right where it was… and I was almost right.

We packed sausage, cheese, fruits and veg, and two giant bottles of ice water. We also took watercolor supplies, as Bridgett said, “just in case.”

I led us to Market Street and then Stephens, keeping my eyes peeled for the house that I knew should be … around here … somewhere. But we had gone too far, and I was puzzled. How had we missed it? We asked a lady working in her yard, and, after some confusion, she remembered and directed us. It turns out, we had turned exactly one block too soon.

Big sigh. It was getting on to noon, and we had come blocks too far. We stood in the shade and thought… should we go forward, not see the sculpture, and eat sooner, or backtrack, see the art, and delay lunch a bit? We opted for the art, turned around, and walked. And after fifteen minutes, there it was!

It is a real sculpture garden, right in someone’s front yard. Realistic portraits, stylized African heads, and a delightful hand monument, all set among flowers, sunshine, and shade. I took pictures and we stood and appreciated to variety and arrangement.

Then it was sure and truly lunchtime, and we headed to Seawellcrest Park. There were lots of trees and shade, kids playing hide and seek, and deliriously happy dogs playing fetch. We sat and enjoyed being out in the world, watching our fellow mammals at play. We ate our lunch and then painted a little, my first “plein aire” (painting outdoors) attempt.

It’s more of a sketch with pencil and water color than an actual painting, and I’ll work more on it later. But better to start badly than not at all.

When we had eaten every crumb and knew we had gotten too much sun, we headed back home. Sunshine, art, and a wonderful neighborhood to get lost in… I am truly blessed.

Life is good.

Love,

Grandma Judy

….And, We’re Back to Rain

Dear Liza,

I like to think of myself as a good sport. You know, going along, making accommodations, not letting things bug me. But darn it, it’s mid-June and it’s still raining. Every day!

My brain wants some sunshine, real, warm sunshine, not the damp glow we’ve been getting. I did get out for a walk yesterday, however, to take pictures and get my miles in, and found some things.

Cloudy artichoke silhouette

The grey skies gave me interesting silhouettes of a giant artichoke plant.

A hired flock of plastic pink flamingoes wished someone a Happy Birthday.

Someone got flocked!

And, always looking for perspective, I met Mr. Carl Zipple and his wife, Emma, at Lone Fir Cemetery. I’m sure they were nice folks and I hope people didn’t give them too much grief about their name.

The Late, great, Zipples

And that’s all for now.

Love,

Grandma Judy

New Beginnings Again!

Dear Liza,

No matter what sort of mess we human beings get ourselves into, nature just keeps on growing and changing.

Baby grapes are forming on a tiny vineyard on Belmont Street…

That crazy annual TREE that isn’t a sunflower is charging up to thirty feet tall…

Irises are going absolutely insane…

And Rhododendrons are making a real spectacle of themselves.

It’s really nice to know that there are some things we haven’t messed up yet!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Smiling Anyway II

Dear Liza,

It was nice to see you, your Mommy and your Daddy on our Mother’s Day ZOOM call yesterday. It was nice to visit with Auntie Katie, too. I am surrounded, as much as I can be, by people who love me. That is a real gift.

Auntie Bridgett and I even got out for a bit of a walk. We avoided the park, because we had seen dozens folks heading that direction and knew it would be too crowded to safely social distance. We walked through our Sunnyside neighborhood and enjoyed seeing flowers, kids on bikes, and even a “Free to a good home” bicycle sitting on the corner. I hope it finds someone nice.

We were happy to see Stumptown Coffee open, and got an iced coffee to help our closest coffee shop. I found the image of the day there, in this magnificent lupine growing out front. The angle of the sun was such that it highlights the Aalto Bar, which isn’t even open now, but that’s the way the photograph clicks sometimes.

We also found this cartoon by a local artist, posted on a telephone pole, that sort of said it all for me at that moment. Amidst the flames, we sit in our houses and cope. “This is fine,” we say.

So, for now, I will be fine, even when I’m not. I will appreciate and relish the beautiful while quietly acknowledging the underlying “What the Heck?” aspects of our current situation. It’s a delicate balance.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Laurel’s Rainbow

Dear Liza,

When I became a teacher in 1988, I met a woman who would become a life long friend, Laurel Sherry-Armstrong. Besides being a natural teacher, she was, and is, a talented musician and poet. I think about her when I think about colors, rainbows, and spring.

One of the many pieces she wrote for use in our class of “Kinderbloomers” was called The Colors of Promise. It is about rainbows.

The lyrics are a lovely way to remember the colors of the rainbow in order, a lesson in what causes rainbows, and a hint at the God’s biblical promise after The Flood, never to destroy mankind again.

“When sun shines through raindrops

An arc of hope is seen

Red on top, orange, yellow and green.

Indigo blue and violet, too.

Down come the colors of promise to you.”

Laurel retired from teaching before I did, and now lives half the year in Ashland, Oregon, and the other half in Honolulu, Hawaii. She plays music with her lovely husband Milton, dances the hula, and teaches kids how to play the ukulele.

She is living the life I would have wished for her; happy, busy, filled with music and love.

Laurel, dancing with Milton at Auntie Katie’s wedding

Love,

Grandma Judy

And then, Snow!

Dear Liza,

Saturday morning, we woke up to snow. It was just a dusting, and we went back to sleep. A few hours later, it was STILL snowing, and Grandpa Nelson decided it was time for a proper snow adventure, so we bundled up and headed off.

Grandpa Nelson, out and about

First, we saw our walkway, decorated with snow. The gnomes were wondering who put out the lights, apparently.

Gnomes, just chillin’

Then we noticed some tulips that had not seen the snow coming. I hope they can spring back!

Very surprised tulips

Laurelhurst Park itself is lovely in any weather, but is a Narnia sort of beautiful in the snow. The Ravine always looks like Mr. Tumnis is going to show up any moment.

The edge of Narnia

As we walked around, we saw dozens of families enjoying the snow. There were snowmen, snowball fights, dogs dashing around. It was a winter wonderland… in March. I will show you the snowmen tomorrow.

Firwood Lake and snowy Boomarang Island

The lake was very pretty through the trees, as the snow came down and sat on the surface for just a minute before melting.

After our walk, we came in and hung our wet clothes up in front of the fire, and spent the rest of the day alternately watching TV and snow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Grey Skies

Dear Liza,

Jonquils, jumping the gun

January is always a hard month here in Portland. The bright, food-and family filled holidays are past, but spring is months away, and it can feel like a very long road.

Bergenias love the rain and cold

We had a thumping rain storm the other night. It actually woke me up! But come morning the rain had stopped. Since I am mostly over my cold, I got bundled up and went to the park.

Camellia, having a peek

I wasn’t alone! There were dozens of folks walking around….some with their big fluffy dogs, some with kids on tiny bikes or babies in strollers, some tossing handfuls of frozen peas to the ducks. Everyone was chatty and seemed to be celebrating being OUT among their fellow humans. January can feel a bit like a jail sentence to be waited out.

The fellows who seemed to be enjoying the day most were these two, working on their j’ai alai moves. The older fellow stood pretty still, flinging the ball in all directions, while the younger played the part of a Labrador retriever, dashing and catching. It seemed the perfect cure for the January blues.

I spent an hour at the park, looking for bits of color. I found a few of these signs of the coming spring, but I am not fooled. It will be a long, wet, chilly haul. We will have to make our own sunshine.

Forsythia, I think…

Love,

Grandma Judy

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, 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

Into Summer

Dear Liza,

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Hollyhocks and day lilies, living together, mass hysteria!

Now that is is officially summer, our evening walks have moved from six o’clock to more like 7:30. It stays light until nine and it feels silly to waste all that lovely sunlight!

Yesterday evening Auntie Bridgett and I  walked around the neighborhood and noticed that the flowers are really exploding. Sweet peas, roses, day lilies and hollyhocks are shooting up out of the ground like the police are after them.

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Sweet peas!

Even the sunflowers are getting tall and majestic. The bees all seem to be prosperous and busy.

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Bee on a leaf

We met a new cat, a very friendly young lady with beautiful markings and a tag that declares her to be “The Princess.” She not just allowed, but demanded, that we pet her, squeaking in a very royal voice.

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The Princess in all her glory

On the way home we passed The Belmont Inn, and stopped in for a few games of Monster Bash, our favorite pinball game. We played together for a few, then went head-to-head. My score of six million made me very proud until Auntie Bridgett whupped me with forty-four million!!! Holy smokes, I need more practice!

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Bridgett’s score!!

Aw, shucks. More pinball….

Love,

Grandma Judy