In the Heights

Dear Liza,

Oregon is opening up as our vaccination rates climb, and people who have been masked and alone for months are coming outside and showing their faces. This new level of confidence, along with our recent warm weather, is making for busy streets!

Mosaic on the threshold of Stammtisch

The Laurelhurst Theater’s showing of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s musical, In the Heights, made this very clear. The theater has limited capacity for all these people, and seats were impossible to get on a Friday night. So Grandpa Nelson ordered tickets online for Wednesday and printed them out. Presto!

But before the movie, we would need dinner. We wanted something delicious and close enough to the Laurelhurst movie theater to make a comfortable walk. We chose Stammtisch, a German restaurant about a mile away.

Something for everyone!

We walked though the bright evening sunshine and chose a table under leafy trees. We were cared for by the staff, who brought us drinks, food, and good cheer. My Geshmort Hasen (Braised rabbit with potatoes) was rich and delicious, and just enough to finish without feeling stuffed. Then we headed to the movie!

Sorry, bunny. You were delicious.

There is always something magical about a movie, anytime. But going into a dark place to share an emotional experience with a bunch of strangers after months of relative solitude was a powerful thing. I got shivers.

And the movie delivered a powerful emotional experience, all right. The story of a nurturing Latino community in Washington Heights, told to the rhythms of hip hop and salsa music, was funny, sad, and human. Grandpa Nelson and I cried and laughed for two solid hours. It was marvelous!

When the closing credits were running, a lady across the aisle yelled “Viva Puerto Rico!” and I cheered.

We walked home through the warm night, with the moon stepping in and out between the trees.

It was just about a perfect evening out. Life is good, and getting better.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Zoolights 2018

Dear Liza,

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At Zoolights

Merry Christmas!! I hope you and your Mommy and Daddy have a fun day with Baba Alla and lots of presents and good food. I will be spending the day with Cousins Kyle, Jasper and Kestrel, and Auntie Christy and Bridgett, and Grandpa Nelson.

Last night we took Auntie Christy and cousin Kyle to Zoolights. We went with Katie and the cousins last year, but Katie still has a cold and it was going to be a wet night.

First, Christy and I went to the movies downtown to see “Welcome to Marwen”, a movie that looks really sad but is really very hopeful. Steve Carell, who does the voice of Gru in the Despicable Me movies, was the star and did a very good job of making us believe an unbelievable story.

Portland’s Living Room

When the movie was over, I showed Christy around our pretty downtown…the trees wrapped in lights, and Pioneer Square (which Portlanders call ‘The Living Room’) with its giant Christmas tree.

Grandpa Nelson, cousin Kyle and Auntie Bridgett met us there and we got on the train to the zoo. It was cold and damp, but not raining…..yet.

Before the Rain

As we got into the zoo, it began, and kept raining all night. We had brought umbrellas and hats, gloves and coats, but I could feel my feet getting wetter and wetter as I enjoyed the lights and dealt with crowds.

We stopped for food at the Africafe, where we usually watch the birds darting around their aviary. But they were all asleep. It was odd, being at the zoo when all the animals were not active, sort of like sneaking into someone’s house when they are away. Along with a few hundred other folks.

When we had walked the route and gotten just about as wet as we could, we caught the train back downtown….and then the rain really kicked in! Fifth Street was a river that happened to have streetcar tracks in it. Thanks goodness for Portland’s covered bus stops, or we would have been miserable.

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The Zoo Train racing with dinosaurs

We were home around 7, but we were all exhausted. We changed into dry clothes, hung up the wet ones, and watched Graham Norton until we got sleepy, around 9:00. Falling asleep, I thought about how good it is to get wet and cold, get warm and dry again, and be with family.

Love,

Grandma Judy