Cloudy with a Chance of Legos

Dear Liza,

The grey has settled in pretty well today, a slow solid rain. Lucky for me, I have hot soup, fresh bread and music, and writing to you, to keep me company.

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Mossy cobblestones

Now that almost all of the leaves are down, I am noticing the houses more. In summer, it sometimes felt like the houses were being eaten by their landscaping! 100 year old trees, bushes, fruit trees and annual bulbs exploded and covered everything with a heavy swath of green.

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Noticing the houses

But with the leaves, even the brilliant yellow ones, gone, the houses are emerging to be appreciated in their own right. Lovely pointy Victorians, square and true Craftsmans, even mid-century bungalows are coming into their own. It allows me to see the yards and shape of the houses and wonder which type of yard and house we will move into!

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Bare naked Street Sign

After a nice walk out, Grandpa Nelson and I met Auntie Katie and cousins Jasper and Kestrel at The Lego Minifigs place I told you about during the summer. We were there to have the kids choose a bag of Legos each as their gifts for Jasper ‘s birthday.

Actually, we offered Jasper two bags and he said Kestrel should get one of his.

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Pixelated Lego Art

I love that boy!

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Lego dude made out of Legos

After an hour of hard choosing, including Auntie Katie finding a great book with design information and advice for the budding lego-engineer, we headed over to Blackbird Pizza for dinner and pinball. This nifty place is on the corner of 20th and Hawthorne, right next door to Dr. Locke’s House that I wrote about the other day, so Grandpa Nelson got to see the stepping stone.

Off to bed and dream of coming to see you!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Changes

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Moss getting fat and happy in the bare branches of trees!

Dear Liza,

I have been busy researching for my story about Portland in The Research Library to see where schools were in 1903, where the trolley cars ran, and what kids did for fun. It has been exhausting and exciting.

I am glad I have inside things to do, because it is very cold and wet outside. Today I went out for a walk and took some pictures so I could show you how things are changing.

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Trees last month

The bright yellow trees I send you a while back have now lost all their leaves, and are asleep for the winter. I feel a little sad seeing them black and bare, but I know they will come out green in the Spring, while I am down with you in Salinas.

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Same trees today

There is also something new growing: Moss, moss, everywhere!

Not just little green frilly bits in the sidewalk cracks, but big fat clumps on the newly bare branches of trees, and blooming on the trunks. I even found a small branch with moss growing all over it and brought it home. I have put it in a flowerpot with dirt and a maple tree seed. Maybe I can grow a whole forest!

 

All is well here, but I miss you very much. I will be happy to see you in January.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Moss and Lichen on bark
 

Adjusting to Change

Dear Liza,

So much is going on here in Portland! The rains have started for sure, with two and a half inches just this past weekend. As the leaves fall in Laurelhurst Park, what was the darkest part of the park is becoming the lightest, with a thin veil of yellow leaves creating a wonderful light.

The weather is getting colder, hovering about 48 degrees at night and 55 degrees during the day. All this means adjustments have to be made.

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Vacuuming the Lone Fir Cemetery
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Newly Light Forest

The city is keeping up with the leaves by using giant, ride-on lawn vacuums to clean the paths in our Laurelhurst Park, because all the leaves get slippery and really dangerous to walk on when they start to rot. This picture shows the difference between a clean path, and a not-clean path.

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Yes, there is a path there!

There is also a truck that drives through Lone Fir Cemetery and blows the leaves and chestnuts off the paths, and ride-on mowers that mow the grass and vacuum up the leaves off the graves.

At our house, we are getting ready for colder weather, too. We found some big saucers to put our potted geraniums on inside, because the freezing weather that is coming will be too cold for them to stay on the back stairs. These are Great Grandma Billie’s  geraniums, and I love them very much and want to protect them. We have also put matches, candles and flashlights on the counters, just in case we have a blackout from trees falling on power lines.

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Happy ferns

Plants and animals are adjusting, too. The old Labrador down the street is spending less time on her porch, ferns are growing out of the bark on almost every tree, and moss is blooming on stone walls,  sidewalk cracks, and tiny libraries. Mushrooms are springing up at the bases of trees.

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Mushrooms!

Oh, and remember the linden trees? They smelled so pretty and gave us shade? Well now, they are making berries for the birds. The petals, instead of falling off, have become thick and waxy, with beautiful blue berries in the center. Amazing!

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Linden Berries

All these changes are fun to watch, because I don’t know what’s coming next! But I will tell you about it, whatever it may be.

Love,

Grandma Judy