A Very Happy Mother’s Day

Dear Liza,

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and it just about wore me out! It started with a huge box of wines delivered from our weirdest local wine shop, “Pairings”. Your Daddy David had asked Jeff, the owner, to send us some wines. His directions were “light-ish reds, and interesting labels are a bonus”. And boy, did Jeff deliver!

A delightful collection

We set the wines aside for the moment, and did FaceTime with Auntie Bridgett’s family. Her niece Madilyn had had her first communion, and between that, moving into their new house, and Mother’s Day, there was a lot of happy energy on that call!

For lunch, Auntie Bridgett and I walked to Suzette, just down on Belmont. We thought we’d get take out, but there was only one other customer in the cafe, so we took a table by the door and enjoyed wonderful, interesting, Nicoise Salads.

Ahi tuna, eggs, asparagus, potatoes, arugula, and teeny tiny cornichons!

The salad was a surprising balance of flavors and textures, and so filling, we saved the other half for dinner. The owner, Jen, has done a good job of redecorating during the Covid shutdown, and we enjoyed looking at walls that were not our own.

We watched the Giants lose to the Padres, did some drawing, and then Auntie Katie came! She had taken the afternoon off from her bookshop and walked up to bring me my Mother’s Day present, a wonderful mug by Michael Grubar at Stark Street Studios.

And then it was time to head to the Jazz concert.

Gordon Lee and his small jazz band were putting on one of their free Front Porch concerts down at Alder and 32nd. About fifty folks brought folding chairs, wine, and snacks to enjoy fellas on piano, drums, a stand up bass, and both an alto and a tenor saxophone play music. Jazz Standards, like “Nature Boy”, as well as new pieces like Gordon’s ode to the former President, “Sulking on the Golf Course”, were delightful, as was the parade of kids, dogs, bikes and regular folks. It was pure Portland.

We enjoyed some of the wine your daddy had sent, a light red wine called “Syrahcha”, a combination of Syrah and Shiraz grapes, found right near here in the Columbia River Gorge. It was tasty and went well with the cheese, apple, and blue corns chips we had for snacks.

We were pretty worn out by the time we got home, and there was still Art with Liza time! I am glad we mostly just chatted, and I hope you got your werewolf drawn. Mine is still just a twinkle in my eye. We got to visit with your Momma Olga and Daddy David and hear their plans for summer trips to Denmark and Russia.

As the last entertainment of the day, we snuggled down in the couch to watch Escape to the Chateau, with Dick and Angel Strawbridge building their business at Chateau Le Motte Husson.

This morning I used Auntie Katie’s gift for my morning cuppa, and it is perfect!

What a life, right?

Love,

Grandma Judy

Front Porch Jazz is Back!

Dear Liza,

Spring is here, a particularly warm and sunny spring, and Front Porch Jazz has returned, as well.

Such a bright afternoon!

On Sunday afternoons, weather permitting, Gordon Lee and a very talented group of musicians perform on his front porch, just a few blocks from our house. The porch is at a quiet intersection with almost no traffic. So Gordon puts a sign out and folks bring chairs, wine and food, and sit on the sidewalks or right in the middle of the street. Large upturned buckets set up warn any drivers of what’s going on.

The Band……


The band has a keyboard, stand-up bass, drums, and alto sax. They play classics like Spring is Here and Cantaloupe Island (my favorite Herbie Hancock song) as well as Gordon’s original compositions like Pendulum Swings and Tobacco Monkey.

Our seats in the shade


The music is great, the camaraderie is amazing, and the vibe is most definitely Portland.


Good Portland. Positive Portland. Funky, happy, neighborly Portland.

And the decor was great.

Borrowed beauty….

Love,

Grandma Judy

Jazz on the Porch

Dear Liza,

It has been a long, long time since we heard live music. Before the pandemic, it was one of the great joys of living in Portland: somewhere close, almost every evening, folks were playing music.

Oh, yes!!

But before the summer outdoor music season even got started, the whole country shut down. Movies, concerts, even outdoor venues, were all closed for the duration. Poop.

While out picking up litter the other day, we saw this sign and confirmed what we had heard talked about: Jazz in the neighborhood!

Gordon Leem and company

Just a block from our house is a lovely front porch where a group gathers to play gentle jazz, for whatever people want to put in the tip jar. Lead by Gordon Leem, the ensemble includes a keyboard, stand up bass, trombone, drums, and some fine scat singing.


It was wonderful. “Blue Skies”, their opening number, celebrated the return to our clear skies after nine days of toxic smoke. Folks slowly wandered in, carrying camp chairs, wine, and snacks. The sidewalks and even Alder Street itself became seating, and no one seemed to mind. The sun started to go down and we all just reveled in being there.

Being out in the world, watching people with their kids and dogs, was as important as the music itself. It wasn’t perfect, of course. A group close by us were so happy to be out of the house they chatted a bit too loudly. But I realized that was part of it. We have missed the luxury of being irritated by strangers.

The tip jar got regular donations, and Gordon reminded us that a part of that money will go to the Red Cross, who is helping lots of people in Oregon who have lost everything. After an hour and a half, it was time to head home. We waved at neighbors ( hard to recognize after months inside and with everyone masked!) , packed our chairs and headed off to dinner.

It almost felt like normal life.

Love,

Grandma Judy