George Rogers Park

Dear Liza,

I’ve told you about my new friend Amy who lives in Lake Oswego. She is sweet and funny and knows a lot of fun places to go, because she has lived in the area for more than 30 years!

The other day I took the #35 bus from downtown Portland to downtown Lake Oswego, and Amy picked me up for lunch.

She drove me down to George Rogers Park. I knew the name as a place for the booths of the summer Art Festival, but clever Amy drove past that part and headed down to the river, where we found this: A beautiful, restful window on the Willamette.

This was the location of the old iron foundry over a hundred years ago, and is now a quiet, beach-y place for folks to get right down to the river. Moms and kids were playing in the water and a young man was renting kayaks, canoes and paddle boards! That seemed like a really good idea…. for another time.

There are statues celebrating the indigenous people, who knew the value of this area before anyone else.

And as we walked down by the water, we saw a mermaid! Well, a young lady in a mermaid costume, anyway, and the fellow who was photographing her. I’m not sure what story they were telling, but it was a nice surprise, anyway.

I will make sure and come back to this lovely, quiet place. Maybe there will be mermaids, maybe kayaks. Who knows?


Grandma Judy

A Birthday Lunch in Lake Oswego

Dear Liza,

This past Monday was our friend Amy’s birthday! We headed down to Lake Oswego to have lunch with her to celebrate.

Amy lives in the hills above the lake, and there are inspiring views of Mount Hood as you make the turn to head east. Bridgett pulled over so I could get this nice picture.

It was our hottest day so far, predicted to get to 96 degrees. We knew we would be looking for shade and cold drinks. Amy lead us to Holy Tacos, where we got a table in the shade, yummy cold horchata to drink and spicy tacos for lunch. It was delicious and delightful.

There are lots of sculptures around the Plaza by the lake.

I love how they work with the landscape and buildings when you look at them from different angles.

Lake Oswego was smooth like glass, with not a single boat on it. It was awful pretty, though. Perfect for posing!

We hadn’t walked very far in the sun before it was time to cool down. We stopped at St. Honore Bakery for some iced tea and shade. Auntie Bridgett took this opportunity to help Amy learn about her birthday present, a brand new Apple watch. There are so many applications, it takes a while to know what it can do!

We chatted and laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company, like friends do. What a fine day! Happy birthday, Amy!


Grandma Judy

Tryon Creek State Park

Dear Liza,

While I was in Lake Oswego, we made the most of being close to a state park. Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Katie and cousins Jasper and Kestrel all came down and we had a fun afternoon.

Since Tryon Creek runs right through the middle of the park, the trails in and out of the park are steep : DOWN going in, UP coming out. You start in an ivy covered, sparely spaced wood, and hike down to a fairy land forest of mushrooms, marshy berry patches, and ghostly trees.

The park doesn’t have any picnic tables, but we found a fine fallen log to enjoy our lunch on. Right near it was a “seesaw” , made of another fallen tree wedged in between two standing trees. Jasper and Kestrel, with Auntie Katie’s help, got it balanced and made it work!

Besides the seesaw, we found, further on, a “slide”, which Kestrel came down and lost some skin, and a “swing” created by a very loopy growing branch.

There was so much to see! Katie and the cousins climbed down to a boggy spot and found wonderful fungi growing in logs, and we found more just growing by the trail. This would be a perfect home for some goblins.

All in all, it was a day to have fun and remember what wonderful people my grandkids (and daughter!) are growing into!

(And now one with just the girls!)

We drank about a gallon of water and had nice long naps when we got home. What a wonderful day!


Grandma Judy

Housesitting in the Hills

Dear Liza,

These past few days, I have been staying at my friend Amy’s house in Lake Oswego. She and her husband are away visiting their brand new grand baby, and they needed someone to take care of the cats and water their garden. That someone is me.

Lake Oswego is different from the Sunnyside neighborhood where I live. For example, my house is a small condominium in a very crowded neighborhood. There are about 25 people living in 12 different houses in the same space as this one house and yard. This is very much ‘out in the hills’.

And because of that, the neighbors are different. I have been visited by a deer and her two babies, who stopped by but decided that the roofers next door were making too much noise. A squirrel dashed up a tree, stopping just long enough to give me his opinion.

A woodpecker knocked himself senseless flying into the kitchen window and sat on the flagstones for a few minutes, looking like a tiny, disoriented pterodactyl. He flew away just as I was figuring out what box to put him in for transport to the Audubon Society.

The sounds are different here, too. Once the roofers take a break, it is very quiet for a very long time. When the sun goes down there is a wind that fills up the space with the sound of millions of leaves dancing. You don’t hear motorcycles, sirens, other people’s music, or even the chatter of pedestrians, because, being so far out of town, most people drive to get around. It can feel sort of lonely, to be honest.


The cats here are different, too. Terri and Charlie were strangers to me when I arrived, and I didn’t see them for a whole day. Then one evening, Terri came down to the guest room and stared at me from the doorway, dashing away when I moved. The next day was the same. The third day, I found her in her cat tower and gave her some scritches.


Now, she and Charlie come down every evening to get petted, pounce around, and interfere with my solitaire Scrabble game. They still haven’t sat in my lap, but I will be patient.

I am missing Auntie Bridgett, who is in San Diego with her family, and Grandpa Nelson, who is home taking care of Mouse. But we will all be together soon.

And then, maybe you can come visit!


Grandma Judy

Out and About in Lake Oswego

Dear Liza,

Grandpa Nelson came to take me out to lunch the other day. I like it here in Lake Oswego, getting to know the cats and watering the garden, but I do love company!

We drove down to the actual Lake that Lake Oswego, the town, is named for. It is a very pretty lake, surrounded by groves of trees and houses, piers and small boats. There are lots of shops and restaurants, too. People rich enough to build and buy houses on the lake want fancy places to shop and eat. Once these lovely places are built, other folks, like us, come to visit and shop, too.

We walked in the sunshine past public art and fountains down to the lake, looking for a place to have lunch. We saw folks out on the lake, on kayaks and SUP boards, enjoying the sun and the water.

Stickmen’s Lakeside Smokehouse and Brewery served us a wonderful lunch. The staff was very friendly, the pulled pork sandwich excellent, the beer cold and sweet, and the views delightful.

We saw crowds of happy, pretty people, walking, eating, and driving all around town. Families with kids in swimsuits, life jackets and flip flops, teenagers on colorful skateboards, and lots of well-cared-for cars.

Up ahead, I saw a Salt and Straw Ice Cream shop, which I thought was Grandpa Nelson’s destination.

But nope, we continued past, finding a new and different ice cream parlor!

We have visited Tillamook, where they make Tillamook ice cream, and know that they do good work. Besides, a place to sit in air conditioning seemed a good idea. And so it was.

Once we had finished, Grandpa Nelson drove me back to ‘my’ house in the hills, and headed back to Portland. I had a quiet evening with Amy’s cats who are becoming more friendly by the day. Here is Charlie, showing how pretty he is.


Grandma Judy

Sunny Day, Sweeping the Clouds Away….

Dear Liza,

It was so pretty out Saturday, we just had to get out in the sun!

Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson figured out what we should do. While they got dressed, I packed a picnic lunch, and we headed off across the Willamette and south toward Lake Oswego. Looking ahead on the map, Grandpa Nelson found a park we had never been to.

Fanno Creek and footbridge

We drove through a forested neighborhood with Tolkien-inspired street names like Rivendell and Arkenstone to the Durham City Park. The trees are still bare, but tiny green shoots are bulging and showing color. We found a picnic table above the soggy ground and enjoyed sandwiches and fruit in the nearly blinding sunshine. People walked by with dogs and kids, scooters and walking canes. It was a slow parade of humanity, all out enjoying the sunshine.

We crossed the footbridge over the Fanno River, enjoying the sounds of the rain-fattened stream. As we walked around the park we couldn’t get over the colors. Ruby red branches. Baby green leaves. Buttery yellow Oregon grape blossoms.

We walked until we were tired, chatting with people about their dogs. We got back in the car, and I thought we were heading back home. But life is full of surprises.


Grandma Judy