More Mosaics

Dear Liza,

As I walk around Portland, I see more beautiful mosaics. Maybe because the materials can be recycled things like broken dishes and tiles, or even bits of machinery, mosaics are a popular medium for public art. Also, these materials are strong enough to last outside, winter and summer, even through Portland’s wet and dry cycles.

img_9525-1.jpg
At The Children’s Museum

Some of them are group projects, like those outside the Buckman School or inside the Sunnyside School. These have an informal feeling and are very friendly. Looking at them, you can almost hear the kids and adults chatting and joking as they put the tiles in and get their hands goopy with grout.

At The Grotto

Other mosaics are extremely complex and delicate, showing real artistry in their design and execution. These beautiful works of art, out for everyone to enjoy, need to be respected and protected.

I give major credit to many of the local businesses and organizations for sponsoring the artists of these wonderful works. They make Portland not just weird, as the bumper sticker says, but more handmade, more personal, and more beautiful.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Recently repaired headstone at Lone Fir

Good things happening at Lone Fir

Dear Liza,

Yes, you remember correctly, Lone Fir is out local cemetery. So what good things could be happening there?

GetAttachmentThumbnail-1.jpg
Vandalized Headstone

Well, to start with, a unique headstone that had been vandalized has been repaired. Paul G. Lind, a young man who died in 2005, was a computer programmer and Scrabble fanatic. His family and friends remembered him by creating a beautifully unique headstone, decorated as if it were a Scrabble board, with words to describe him. By the time I saw the headstone last year, however, all the lovely tiles had been chipped off and stolen away by vandals. But now, it has been repaired and looks even better than the original.

IMG_9496.jpg
Repaired Scrabble Headstone

I stopped to chat with a happy young couple standing by one of the arbors, surrounded by Mylar helium balloons of animals…raccoons, a tyrannosaurus, a hedgehog, and the like. I had to ask, “What’s up?”

img_9499.jpg
Proposal with woodland creatures

“She proposed!” The young man shouted, holding up his left hand with a lovely ring.

His bride -to-be explained. “He always said his perfect wedding would be in the forest with just the animals around, and no people. But I like these people,” she gestured to all the headstones. “They don’t tell you what to do.” I am guessing they may return to celebrate their wedding…or maybe choose a more formal cemetery, like River View, across the Willamette.

The last new headstone I visited memorialized Andrew Brian Loomis, who was a local musician. He played drums with a band called The Dead Moon for 28 years, dying at the age of 54 of cancer. His stone is carved with his name and dates, and he is remembered as a cherished son, brother, uncle, cousin and friend, and the motto, “Life is good ‘sept the parts that suck.” The name of a local music and dance club, Dante’s, is included.IMG_9500.jpg

The grave has been recently decorated with crow feathers, a wine bottle, a ceramic dog, Mardi Gras beads, and other items that seem to tell of a life lived for music and fun. I am happy to know that his friends and loved ones, and even fans, still celebrate him.

And that’s what’s happening with the dead people!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

 

Believe it or not…

Dear Liza,

I know it has been, and still is hot here, but fall is definitely on the way. This morning there is a slight chill in the air. Some leaves are starting to turn. Kids are shopping for school clothes.

And the chestnuts are getting big. Last year was my first year in chestnut country, so I was just fascinated by these armored, spiky, golf ball sized nuts. Bridgett and I marveled at them and, when they started falling, collected about 30 pounds of the smooth,  mahogany colored things. We loved their color, their impressive size, and their smooth surface, like polished wood. We had big plans.

IMG_0073 2.jpg
Part of last year’s lovely, but useless, chestnuts

We would enjoy their beauty, maybe even make ornaments out of them, then roast them and eat them! “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” would be ours!!! Bwahahaha!

So we researched the best way to roast them, not having an open fire at our disposal. Hmmm. Turns out, there are two kinds of chestnuts….horse chestnuts, which you CAN’T eat because they are poisonous, and sweet chestnuts, which you CAN. The leaves and tree shape are the same. How to tell the difference? The differences in the wooden looking nut are slight and I was never sure which was which. I wasn’t willing to bet my health on it.

img_9486-e1534360256682.jpg
Green hulls of sweet chestnuts

But the differences between both the flower and the green hulls that grow outside the woody part are very clear. The sweet chestnuts have flowers that are spiky, and green hulls that look like Muppets. The horse chestnuts’ flowers are rounded, and their hulls more like a medieval spiked mace. So this summer, we have made note of where each are growing.

Oddly, the poisonous kind are much more common. Whether it is a difference in disease resistance or just accidental, the people in charge of planting them, probably 50 years ago, planted a bunch of ‘conkers’ you can’t use. The only sweet chestnut tree we have found is near the entrance to the Lone Fir Cemetery. I walked by today and admired them, promising I would return when they fell.

img_9485.jpg
Green hulls of horse chestnuts

We still don’t have an open fire, but we have a lovely gas oven. We will adjust. And Nat King Cole will be playing.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Song for Fun

Dear Liza,

IMG_7577.jpg
Sunsets

Your Mommy or Daddy can teach you the tune for this silly re-write. The Song is called “My Favorite Things.”

(Read the captions!)

First Verse:

IMG_6868.jpg
And artists
IMG_7804.jpg
And baseball with Pickles
IMG_8103.jpg
Beaches with grandchildren, giggles and tickles
img_77502.jpg
Kittens in fl’wer pots
img_81352.jpg
And wrecks by the sea

These are the things Portland’s given to me!

Second Verse:

IMG_7826.jpg
Art found on sidewalks and up on a tower
IMG_7667
Hearing the voices of love’s greatest power
IMG_6818.jpg
Old friends and new friends

e

IMG_8239.jpg
And pinball for fun

All of these just since the summer’s begun!

Bridge:

IMG_8250.jpg
Ghosts and mystery!
IMG_7516.jpg
Creepy History!
img_6904.jpg
Yummy food and wine….
img_7842.jpg
I’m up to my eyeballs in Portland, my friends,
IMG_7243.jpg
And I want to say…
IMG_8233.jpg
It’s fine!

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Day Downtown

Dear Liza,

img_7510.jpg
Later Diebenkorn

I needed to do some more research for my story yesterday, which means a trip downtown. Auntie Bridgett had a morning free and came with me. We caught the number 15 and off we went. My first stop was supposed to be the Oregon Historical Research Library, but it turns out they don’t open until 1:00 on Tuesdays.

IMG_7503.jpgSo, Plan B, I walked back across the  Park Blocks to the Portland Art Museum, where Auntie Bridgett was enjoying the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit. I enjoyed the sketches he did early in his career, when he was in the Marine Corps, as well as the abstract paintings he did later.

img_7512-2.jpg
Early Diebenkorn

 

While I was looking at art, I got a text from Grandpa Nelson. He told me about the City of Portland Archives, which are right downtown, that had (he had discovered) a whole file on the 1903 parade Portland held for President Theodore Roosevelt when he came to visit. I figured since the OHS library was still closed, I’d head to the archives. They were about 15 minutes away. This became Plan C.

But it took me longer. I saw a young family walking down the Park Blocks wearing matching T-shirts that said Free Ice Cream. They looked so friendly, I mentioned their shirts and we had a nice conversation. They were helping a friend advertise a new church downtown, and this was their fun way of getting to talk to people. I met some nice folks AND got a coupon for a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream cone! Score!

At the City Archives, I found that once again, timing wasn’t on my side. They were closing in 20 minutes! But the lady was very nice, brought me the thick folder, and left me alone. It had lots of information, but not what I was really looking for. But she took down my contact information and said she would have another look when she had time, and I promised to come back tomorrow to see what she had. I would come back to the OHS, anyway, because by this time I was brain dead and ready to go home.IMG_7516.jpg

So we had a snack and caught the bus. Auntie Bridgett suggested we get off a little early and walk through Lone Fir Cemetery, since it had been a long time since we saw the dead people. Does this become Plan D?  It was peaceful and beautiful as always, and we saw this lovely carved headstone for Elenor Springer. There were smaller stones from her three sons that outlived her, but no marker for Mr. Springer, to whom she was “beloved wife.” Another mystery!

More downtown time tomorrow, and hopefully, fewer Plans and more results!

Love,

Grandma Judy

New House!

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Even though I am here in Salinas, Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I have just bought a new house in Portland!!

About a month ago, after looking at many houses that were too expensive or in the wrong neighborhood, my two wonderful people found this nice condominium just a few blocks from many of our favorite places. Laurelhurst Park….3 blocks away.  Lone Fir Cemetery, the Belmont Inn, the Nerd Out…all in the neighborhood. The number 15 bus to the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society…. two blocks away.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-83.jpg
Lone Fir in fall
nerd out 2.jpg.jpg
Desserts, Drinks, and Action Figures!

It was within our budget, new enough to not need major repairs, and bright and sunny. It has room for Auntie Bridgett to paint, for me to write, and for Grandpa Nelson to work on his computer. It has a patio where I can grow a rose or two and a balcony for all of Great Grandma Billie’s geraniums.

Auntie Katie’s friend Alyssa Isenstein-Krueger is a Real Estate Agent with Living Room Realty and helped my two people get in to see the place before the first Open House, so they got first dibs. And boy, did they dib!

We made an offer that afternoon. There was a lot of traffic over the internet with signing papers and passing banking information, but the final papers couldn’t be signed over the net…they needed to be signed in person. A notary named Jasmin printed out the papers and we met in the delicatessen department of the Nob Hill on South Main. So I signed the papers for my house in Portland in the grocery store I shopped at here in Salinas. Nob Hill is the bridge, sort of, between my life here and my life there.

I signed the papers on that rainy evening of the Union march at the Board meeting, going directly from signing papers to marching in the rain. What a day that was!!

GetFileAttachment-1.jpg
The “Three” of us in front of the new house

Tonight, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett had a bottle of wine at the new place, sitting on folding chairs, and we had a Facetime visit with all of us having wine here, to toast our new home. My two sillies brought along a large ceramic duck to stand in for ME.

We are all emotionally exhausted and ready to have a new nest to feather and be comfortable in. I get to see the house next week when I go to Portland for Spring vacation, and I am looking forward to deciding where everything will fit.

I can’t wait to start my new life in my new home!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Looking Back

 

Dear Liza,

It is a new year, and I am looking forward to some more big changes. I will be coming to Salinas to stay with you for a few months while I teach, and my life here in Portland will be put on hold. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett will stay here and take care of Mouse the kitten, the houseplants, and their jobs…but we won’t be together. This will be weird, and sometimes sad.

Before looking forward, though, I want to look back on the crazy trip that got me here and what I love about Portland.

IMG_1410.jpg
Auntie Katie and Cousin Kestrel

During the hot Summer, we learned about getting around on air-conditioned buses and trains. We got to visit our new favorite Laurelhurst Park with Auntie Katie and the cousins. We even walked to the Willamette River and put our feet in!

IMG_2099.jpg
View from under the Hawthorne Bridge

It was fun getting to show you all the things in our new city, like the zoo.

IMG_2539.jpg
Being a Squirrel

 

The biggest thing that we learned about is the weather. It rains a lot here, and we are getting used to asking Google if we should take an umbrella. It even snows! This takes getting used to, but is such a nice change from highs of 70 and lows of 50 that I don’t mind.

IMG_1432.jpg
Snow on the back steps

 

I have fallen in love with the theater and art here in Portland. Theaters are made from old churches, warehouses, and even set up in parks. Art and music are everywhere.

IMG_2591.jpg
Young violinist on SW Salmon and Park

People playing music, reciting and writing poetry on street corners just isn’t something we saw in Salinas, and it is a real treat.

And of course, the history! I have been studying about Portland’s past…it’s buildings, trolley cars, and people. It is just about as old as Salinas, but since it is a bigger city, it has more stories.

IMG_0749.jpg
I am still trying to find out who this young lady was

There is so much I love about Portland. I will miss it, and then return in June to re-discover my new city all over again.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy