Still Strong Inside

Dear Liza,

Our country seems to be in a dangerous place. Our people are fighting each other in Walgreens about wearing masks and in the streets over everything else. Our President is talking crazy about not leaving office when his time is up. People are worried about their health, their schools, and their jobs.

Last week, walking back from downtown, I passed this fallen oak tree in our Lone Fir Cemetery. It was one of the old ones, probably fifty feet tall, and had green leaves all over it. Five minutes before it had fallen, it had looked fine.

Hollow center of a giant

But now that I was able to see into the trunk, I could see the truth. It was rotten on the inside, hollow and useless. I had a shiver of bad literary juju. “That’s like us,” I thought. “We still live in nice houses and have luxuries, but our government has failed to protect us from the evil ambition of this President. We could fall any moment now.”

That sense of dread has stuck with me for days. It has given me nightmares. But it won’t stick around forever. There is still good in the world, and I went out and found some.

Vote of confidence on the Morrison Bridge

I love public art, especially the small bits that sneak up on you. It lets us see good intentions and know that the power for good is there, even when the artist has moved on.

Caring for tiny things on a side street

I love that more people are registering to vote and encourage others. I love that even “the other side” is taking steps to limit the damage to our Democracy. And I hope that when all this energy is acted upon, it will be enough.

Sticker art at Asylum
Always a good idea!

I send you waves of love and hope for a better day.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Time out of Joint

Dear Liza,

It is almost Autumn. School has started and leaves are beginning to change.

Fall color…

But in the bizarre world of Covid-19, it still feels like March. That’s when things closed down. That’s the last time I hugged Auntie Katie or the cousins. That’s when I sat at The Rocking Frog with Misha and chatted about regular life. As someone on TV said, during Covid, it is always sometime between breakfast and dinner, it is always NOW.


Visiting the dead people at Lone Fir Cemetery always puts things in perspective for me. These folks saw difficulties that make ours seem small. In the days before sanitation and vaccines, hundreds of babies died before their first birthday. Typhoid Fever, Spanish Flu, World Wars I and II took folks in their infancy or prime and there was nothing to be done for it.

Perspective

In comparison, being stuck at home is pretty small. Not going to camp is doable. We just need to get through this year, this election, this political and national health debacle, and come out the other side with our humanity intact.

Chestnuts are falling already….

So, remember to love each other, hug who you can. Pet dogs and smell flowers. Help those in worse situations than yours. Be your best self.

Love,

Grandma Judy


Unfocused Rage, Intentional Joy

Dear Liza,

Our country is a very nervous place these days. People are worried about the Corona Virus, people being out of work, and political upheaval in our cities. I have been upset, too, and am doing what I can to cope.

I have donated supplies to the braver souls in downtown Portland who are standing up to (President) Trump’s Federal goons. I have written my Senators and Representatives to encourage them to use the power of Congress to censure these illegal and unwanted actions.

But other people have other, less positive coping mechanisms. One unhappy soul has been wandering around our dear Lone Fir Cemetery, kicking over beautiful, historic headstones.

Yes, I am angry and wish he (Folks have see him and say it’s a man) hadn’t done it, but mostly I am sad for him. I mean, how bad does your life have to be that you take it out on the dead?

Is this who we are becoming?

But then I see acts of love, large and small, in evidence all over the neighborhood, and I find my faith in my species returning.

People are working in their gardens, writing encouraging words on sidewalks, making beautiful, positive murals, and donating time and money to good causes. People are learning to smile with their eyes over the masks to show folks they are loved and appreciated.

Life is good, it really is. Not always easy, but good.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Hermina Zipple, Educator and Career Woman

Dear Liza,

Walking in Lone Fir Cemetery the other day, I came across a name I had never seen before. Zipple. Carl and Emma Zipple, Mother and Father. I wanted to know more.

Since the Oregon Historical Society closed for renovation months even before the corona virus hit, my research is all online. I looked at newspapers around the state and Grandpa Nelson got out his Ancestry.com account. Zipple, it turns out, isn’t a very common name. In fact, for many, many years, these folks were the only ones here in Portland.

Carl was a machinist from Saxony, Germany, and worked at the steel mill here. Emma was from Switzerland. I don’t know when they came to America, how they met, or when they were married.

I looked for their daughters, Hermina and Rosina. The oldest, Hermina, was born when her father and mother were 42 and 31. Even today, this is a bit old to be new parents. Hermina graduated from Portland’s Jefferson High School in 1919, when her father was 60 years old.

The Normal School, Monmouth, early 1900s

As was the practice of the time, she got her first teaching job right out of high school, in Garfield, Oregon. She went on to graduate from the Normal School (teaching college) at Monmouth and then got a job there as the assistant librarian, where she probably stayed for six years. Venturing further from home to advance her education, she moved to Seattle, Washington, and graduated from the University Of Washington in 1935.

University of Kansas, 1940s

And this is where the story gets interesting. I assumed that she would move take a job in Portland and live with her mom, since her dad had just passed away. But instead, she took a job as Director of Food Services for the University in Lawrence, Kansas, halfway across the country! She lived with some other ladies in a house with a maid and houseman.

In 1940 she wrote a paper for the Journal of Nutritian and Dietetics Entitled “Nutrition and War: Feeding the Army and Navy at the University of Kansas.”

I will tell you more about my interesting new friend tomorrow!

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

Thunder, Lightning, and Tiny Critters

Dear Liza,

Saturday morning we were WOKEN UP by a wonderfully loud and flashy thunder-and-lightning storm. We had seen the clouds wafting in Friday evening as we sat on our balcony, and knew it was only a matter of time.

I love thunder storms. The power and energy give me a sense of perspective, an understanding of my tininess in the face of universal forces. I can picture myself as one of the mice huddling under bushes or birds snuggling in their nests.

Princess Zelda overlooking her realm

And speaking of tiny creatures, it is Spring, which means baby animals have been on my radar.

Terri expresses her opinion

My friends Amy and Angela have gotten kittens, named Terri and Princess Zelda, respectively, who are keeping them company during the shut down.

Skinny squirrel out and about

At Lone Fir, I followed one young squirrel in his exploration of the sunny headstones, and another, more ‘substantial’ fellow perching on a monument.

Chubby squirrel being immortalized

And then there are the ducks! Laurelhurst Park’s little Firwood Lake is home to a few dozen ducks, and this week, most of them are guarding little flotillas of fluffy ducklings. It is an eleven out of ten on the cuteness scale.

Fuzzy!!

This little guy got tired of swimming and followed Momma up onto shore for a rest.

Hanging out with Mom

And that is your dose of tiny animals for the day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

A New Friend at Lone Fir Cemetery

Dear Liza,

Saturday was beautiful and sunny, so between art and errands, Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to visit the Dead People at Lone Fir. This old cemetery is lovely in any weather, but on a sunny spring day it seems to deliver the package of emotions I need; beauty, mourning, eternity, new beginnings and final endings. It was wonderful.

Monument to James Gray Flowerdew

And I found a new friend. This eight foot tall monument was erected to James Gray Flowerdew (great name, right?) who had died on July 22, 1872. The Masonic emblem is on the tombstone, so we know he was a Mason in good standing. He was also only 37, which seemed really young to have this sort of marker.

I was really curious about this fellow, and got on the Internet to find out more about him. Mr. Flowerdew was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1835, where he and his family owned property. I know he lived there at least until 1867, because he is listed in a court case where he and other members of his family were awarded an inheritance due them.

He came to Portland sometime between 1867 and 1870, and on January 2, 1871, he formed a new company, Hewitt, Flowerdew and Co., with businessman Henry Hewitt. According to an ad in a June 1871 Oregonian, they had offices at the corner of First and Ash Streets downtown and bought and sold shipments of Liverpool Salt, Scotch Pig Iron, Dundee textiles, tin plates, and sheet iron.

The company got a valuable new client that June, the Imperial Fire Insurance Company of London. The ad announcing this business move was placed by Henry Corbett and Donald Macleay, powerful movers and shakers in Portland industry. Mr. Macleay was also from Scotland, so maybe having this in common with him helped young Mr. Flowerdew.

On August 16, 1871, Mr. Flowerdew was appointed as Vice Council to Great Britain, being congratulated in the official documents of the State of Oregon by Governor L. F. Grover. Life was good. His business was growing and he was becoming important politically. Then tragedy struck.

Sometime in June of 1872, he was thrown from his buggy in an accident, and died six weeks later of his injuries. He had been in the country less than four years. His brother and sisters back in Scotland put up this magnificent marble monument to him.

So now I know a little bit more about Portland’s late, great population. Only about a million folks to go!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Sunny Sunset at Lone Fir

Dear Liza,

Sunny late afternoon

We had so many sunny days last week! And after the time change, it was light enough after dinner to go for walks. Auntie Bridgett and I visited the dead people at Lone Fir Cemetery.

This is my favorite cemetery in town. It has been used since the 1840s and has fewer rules about what sort of marker people can put up. It has the best of old, new, immortal, fleeting, tragic and silly.

Classic, lovely headstone

On this walk we found a new marker. Burton Stein passed away a year ago this January, and his headstone has just been installed. Folks had already come around and placed stones on it. This is a Jewish gesture of respect. Flowers are fleeting, we believe. Stones live forever. I’m not sure what the dented candle stick is for, but I applaud the gesture.

Goodbye, Burton Stein

We walked around and enjoyed watching the sun disappear over the west hills. The boxy looking object in the photo is the very top of the tallest building in Portland, the Wells Fargo Building.

Heading off into the sunset

When my Momma, your Great Grandma Billie, was getting ready to die, one of the last things she said was, “I’m gonna put my boat on the porch, and head west.” And the next day, she did. Heading into the sunset isn’t such a bad way to go.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Bittersweet Beauty at Lone Fir

Dear Liza,

Where do you find fresh, blooming flowers in the middle of winter? Turns out, it’s the cemetery. Lone Fir, to be exact. I hadn’t visited the Dead People for a while, so yesterday I bundled up and headed over.


The skies were grey, drippy and cold, and I was enjoying the sound of mud squishing under my boots when I saw the bright color in the distance. It was a new grave, belonging to Sergey Arutygnov, covered in flowers and ribbons. I can’t read Russian, but I recognize it. Go with God, Sergey.

Further along there was another flower-covered Russian grave. There is quite a large Russian population in Portland, but I only ever notice it here at Lone Fir. From what your mommy Olga tells me, our dark, damp weather must feel like a summer holiday compared to Russian winters.

This Russian woman’s family has planted a rose bush on her grave and tended it since she passed away in 2008. What a sweet way to make sure you visit your Babushka every spring.

There was more sad beauty as I walked around. One of the magnificent chestnut trees has been taken down, which steals some of the deep shade and history of the place. But its cross section seems to be a view into some sort of cosmic vortex. This tree has seen a lot in its hundred plus years, I imagine.

I realized that the rain had started up again an it was time to head home, full of gratitude and perspective to make some Albondigas soup for dinner.

Love, Grandma Judy

Mr. Frank Dekum

Dear Liza,

500px-Frank_Dekum.jpg
Mr. Dekum as he was

Yesterday Auntie Bridgett and I went for a long walk. We enjoyed the dogs and trees at Laurelhurst Park, and the pretty houses of the Laurelhurst neighborhood. We wandered for quite a ways before we decided to turn back towards home.

When we did, I realized that we were very close to The Lone Fir Cemetery and that it had been a long time since we visited the folks there. So we went in.

As you already know, I love the peace and perspective of this old cemetery. We saw familiar headstones; heroic pioneers and shady ladies, revered doctors and just plain folks. And, as so often happens, something new caught our eye. Mr. Frank Dekum.

img_2602.jpeg
Auntie Bridgett with Mr. Dekum

We know the name, because a big stone and brick building built by and named for him is on the corner of 3rd and Washington and we pass it every time we go downtown. Mr. Dekum came to Portland in 1853 with his family and started a very successful fruit business. He was also a candy maker, so obviously, a lover of good things.

Dekum_Building_-_Portland_Oregon.jpg
His tallest namesake

When he had made his fortune in fruit and candy, he started investing in real estate development. He was involved in every building that went up on Washington Street between First and Third. He was on the Boards of banks and water companies, helping bring railroads and fresh drinking water to the city.

When the city was hit by a financial panic in 1893, property investments crashed and Mr. Dekum was badly impacted. He died the next year with only a fraction of his fortune intact. He is buried in our dear Lone Fir along with his eight children, so I can visit the whole family whenever I want.

Gone, as they say, but not forgotten.

Love,

Grandma Judy