Art Therapy

Dear Liza,

The other day, I woke up grouchy. There wasn’t really any reason for it, I just had a chip in my shoulder. Art projects I had started weren’t working the way I wanted. A story wasn’t as good as it should be. Nothing felt right.

Grouchy.

After stomping around the house all morning and irritating my lovely people, I went for a walk and stomped around the park. I watched the dogs, listened to the birds, and smelled the rain in the mud. I am glad I did.

When I got home, I didn’t go near the art or writing projects I had wrestled with. Instead, I opened my box of collage papers and just started gluing pieces down.

I know enough to stick with colors that look good together. The first few I chose were red, so I went with that. Watercolor pencils, tissue paper from Pittman and Davis fruit boxes, and a small envelope filled up the bulk of the space.

The circles on the tissue paper were looking good, so I pulled out some circles that I cut from magazines years ago. A watercolor piece I did online with Ruthie Inman got cut out and added. A little bit of black made it better.

I made a weird little dude to hide in the envelope. And after more than an hour of cutting and gluing, I felt better!

Art therapy. It works!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Ken, the Oak Tree

Dear Liza,

You know how much I love walking in Laurelhurst Park. I feel very close to some of the trees, especially the younger ones that I have gotten to see grow up.


This past Spring, several of our old giants fell in a big windstorm. This is a natural way for a tree to die, but it is still sad to see. This oak fell over with some of its roots still in the ground. The City cut most of the tree away to keep the paths safe and the dog park clear.


And someone decided that the remaining set of roots should protect a NEW tree, and planted one, right there. We named it Ken.


This summer we have enjoyed watching Ken grow. He has gained about a foot in height. He is growing almost as fast as you are!

And now it is Fall, time for Ken to change his leaves and have a nice long rest for winter. I can’t wait to see his new leaves pop out come March!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Seasonal Poetry

Dear Liza,

I went out for a walk the other day to enjoy the colors and clear my head. Sitting with a cat on your lap, watching the fire burn, though very pleasant, makes me a bit fuzzy headed.

I bundled up, headed out, and got inspired. Here is my take on the seasons.

For The Leaves

The Spring brought us colors of blossom and bloom,

The beginnings of life, bursting forth, making room.

The summer brought jewel-colored fruits of the vine

Apples for a pie and grapes for some wine.

In Autumn the world became darker and cold,

The youth of the spring has grown up and grown old.

No longer bursting, it no longer glows

It flashes an instant before the storm blows

But just for this moment, the wind holds its peace

And leaves us to contemplate

This lovely release.

I hope you enjoy the Fall!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Just a (Wet) Walk in the Park

Dear Liza,

This week we saw some real rain, which was a relief after our too- hot summer. I wanted to properly appreciate it, so out I went!

I didn’t have far to go to find beauty. Auntie Bridgett’s angel and spider plants were much improved by the weather. The gnomes were lurking about, as usual.

Raindrops hitting the puddles remind me why I love concentric circles.

I stopped by our plot at the Blair Community Garden. Only three new tomatoes were ripe, but Morgan and Abby’s corn was shiny and tall.


My late blooming pumpkin, Leo, seems to be coloring up a bit.

I continued on to Laurelhurst Park, which was mostly deserted. A few diehard dogs and their owners were at the off leash area, and the puddles grew all along the base of the hills. This young lady found a good spot to enjoy a conversation with a loved one.

I am a firm believer that rain makes everything prettier, and this rain drop-enhanced rose proved me right.

By the time I got home I was pretty soaked, but so much richer for all the beauty. Now to get dry and have a snack!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Willie the Dawn Redwood Update

Dear Liza,

One of the many things I love about our Laurelhurst Park is that it is always changing. Old trees die or are damaged in storms and need to be replaced, so we get to meet the new babies.


Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson, and Willie, Summer of 2018

Just after we moved up to Portland, this young Dawn Redwood was planted near the dog off leash area. We named it Willie, after my Mom.

Fall of 2018

Every time we walked through the park, we would check on Willie. That first autumn we were very worried. Willie’s thin, soft needles began to dry up and fall off! We looked up Dawn Redwoods and discovered that (whew) they are deciduous. That means they lose their leaves in winter. Willie wasn’t sick, she was just hibernating!

Winter of 2019
Summer of 2019

After a long nap, Willie woke up in the spring and looked fabulous! She was a good foot taller. She apparently liked where she was.

Summer of 2021!

And she continues to thrive. This summer she is three years old and growing like a weed. In ten years or so, she may take on the look of her elders, which look sort of like the scary apple trees from “The Wizard of Oz”.

Elderly Dawn Redwood

I love watching things grow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Twelfth Night at Laurelhurst

Dear Liza,

Last night we went over to Laurelhurst Park for some Shakespeare. The Original Practice Shakespeare Company, which could only do Zoom Performances during the Covid Shutdown, is now back to performing its open air, 18-play repertoire in person!

Feste, Sir Andrew and Auntie Toby have a drunken romp

Original Practice means that this talented troupe of players prepares for and performs the plays as the troupes did in Shakespeare’s day. Since there were no copyright laws and printed scripts could be stolen and performed elsewhere, each player was given a scroll with only their lines. Also, since each troupe would perform many plays on a very tight schedule, rehearsals were non-existent. Each performance was, and is, a new experience.

It is delightful!

Malvolio is in love!

Twelfth Night is a raucous comedy, full of gender switching and mistaken identities, pompous aristocrats and clever underlings. Performed by the talented OPS, it had us laughing, cheering, booing and swooning.

Malvolio has a moment….

Sitting in lawn chairs under the trees, enjoying Shakespeare, snacks and wine and surrounded by people, kids, and dogs also enjoying their snacks and wine, is a uniquely Portland experience. I have missed it more than I can say and am grateful to have it back.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Late Summer Magic

Dear Liza,

Welcome to August! I can’t believe this summer is racing past so quickly.

The heat wave here in Portland has sort of upended my usual way of doing things. Since it is so hot in the afternoon, I go to the vegetable plot early to water and harvest the zucchinis, and to check on the tomatoes and pumpkins.


Some days it feels like a race to harvest and eat as fast as they are growing. My gardener friend Tonya has clued us in on how to freeze zucchini to use later, when it isn’t too hot to bake.

Inside the house, Auntie Bridgett’s Sundew (which she bought to eat the fungus flies…. Don’t get me started) is blooming! The perfect, delicate spiral is so pretty!


At Laurelhurst Park, the local Faerie Folk have been out improving their summer homes.


Morning Glories are creating some accidental beauty on telephone poles. They follow the spiral growth model, climbing around and around.

And last but definitely not least, the sunflower that has made this dead chestnut tree its new home. The tree was fatally pruned to a height of about ten feet. I am glad it is having a useful afterlife.

We should all be so fortunate.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Summer Sundowns

Dear Liza,

In summer, the sun doesn’t go down until nearly 9:00. That means for me to be able to walk in the cool dusk, I need to go out walking later than Grandpa Nelson or Auntie Bridgett want to.

And that’s okay. Walking by myself is one of my favorite things. Being able to stop and stare at a leaf or a bit of moss, or talk to the cats or chickens, without making someone wait on me, is a delight.

Last evening, after we were all in pajamas, I caught a glimpse of the orange sky and put my clothes back on. I wanted to feel the change from day to night, to see the back-lit trees turn to silhouettes. So I went.


I headed to Laurelhurst Park, where hundreds of folks sat scattered through the 26 acres, on blankets or low chairs, chatting, eating, watching their kids and dogs play.


The setting sun lit up the treetops and cast long, cool shadows. Our street became a leafy tunnel leading to the last light. I was glad I had come out.

Love,

Grandma Judy

After the Heatwave

Dear Liza,

Wednesday was the first day of human-level temperatures since our historic heat wave began. We woke up to cloud cover, cool air and even a bit of dampness. It felt wonderful.

Look! Clouds! Hooray!!!

I went to the garden early. My friend Tonya gave me one of her parsley plants, and I planted it between my radishes and lettuce. My garden is doing well, even though it isn’t as tall as the other ones. They have five foot tall trellises and arbors hanging with peas and beans. I have a magnificent beast of a zucchini.

And it makes food, too!

I walked around Laurelhurst Park for the first time in a week, enjoying the cool green, the ducks, and all the people out doing their people thing. Tai c’hi classes, guitar practice, dog parties….. it was life as normal, out on the grass.

After a morning of sewing, French lessons, crossword puzzles and cartooning, the three of us headed off to Grandpa Nelson’s favorite lunch spot, Zach’s Shack. Auntie Bridgett got to go because she isn’t working at the SideStreet Arts gallery anymore. Her new comic strip, Auntie Beeswax, allows her more flexibility with her time.

One of my favorite views….

We ate hot dogs and fries, and, since the sun had come out, appreciated the icy cold sodas.

Then came ping pong! Zach’s back patio has a table and enough hard surfaces that even if the ball misses the table, you can keep it in play. We get a little nuts sometimes, and it is fun!

We played until we were played out, then walked home by way of the Taylor Street chickens. The day had warmed up to 88 degrees and we were happy for the air conditioning.

This heat wave was bad. It send a lot of folks to the hospital. We need to figure out how to help our planet heal so we can all be well.

Portlanders ❤️ Chickens !

Love,

Grandma Judy

Summer Surprises

Dear Liza,

This weekend brought some lovely surprises. Even though the weather was really warm on Saturday, Grandpa Nelson suggested a walk. “Let’s head down to Division,” he said. “There’s ice cream, and gelato, and even frozen yogurt.” So we headed south.

The sun was hot, and the sidewalks got hotter as we walked. It was afternoon, but the shade wasn’t much help. “Maybe we find a pub a little closer?”Grandpa sighed. We agreed, and found the delightfully decorated McMenamin’s Bagdad Cafe and theater, down on Hawthorne. They had food and drinks, A/C and friendly folks.

Some pretzel fondue, tuna sliders and beverages later, we were refreshed and ready to head off. Grandpa Nelson was still feeling the heat, so he headed for home. Auntie Bridgett and I continued on to Laurelhurst Park. It can be full of surprises.

And it was. We found an impromptu violin concert along one end of the lake, and a reading of a play I’d never heard of at the other. Both had collected small but appreciative audiences. We listened for a bit and walked on.

I love walking in the park when it is buzzy! There were folks walking dogs, playing frisbee, and practicing circus tricks with hoops and slack ropes. Kids hollered and ukuleles were strummed. It is a like all the best of life, just out playing on the lawn.

When we left the park we were absolutely vibrating from all that human energy! And the surprises weren’t done yet. Growing on a telephone pole-supported grape vine were the beginnings of this year’s grapes.

Always something to see….

Love,

Grandma Judy