Long Walk to the River….

Dear Liza,

I woke up Tuesday feeling the need to take charge of something, to get out and DO.The weather was predicted to be cool in the morning and get really warm by noon, so whatever I was going to do had to happen early.

Bright changing leaves dazzle the eye…

So, right after coffee and before Grandpa Nelson was out of bed, I headed off for a long walk through the Fall sunshine. I headed toward the river. This is sort of cheating because it is all down hill, but the neighborhood is wonderful.

I found this poem by Jellaludin Rumi framed in a safe place. I liked the sentiment, but also the way my reflection got into the picture. It made this idea of “being human” even more human!

“This Being Human” by Rumi

I continued through Ladd’s Addition and into the more industrial part of the Southeast. This fabulous mural, with live plants for hair, was painted by Fin DAC and is called “Attitude of Gratitude.” The building houses a fancy Cuban restaurant on the ground floor and apartments above, and the main office of Solterra, a company that makes vertical planters like the lady’s hair.

Attitude of Gratitude

The area by the railroad tracks and warehouses is a bit run down, but in the bright sunshine, with the river and West Hills just beyond, everything looked pretty.

A bit cluttered, but very pretty…

After about an hour of solid walking, I found the Willamette River! On this sunny day, it was busy with kayakers, jet skis, and motorboats, all dancing on the sparkling water.

The mighty Willamette River

Tilikum Crossing Bridge is the newest bridge in the city and my absolute favorite. It was built in 2015 just for transit and pedestrians.The blue of the sky and the white cables made for a lovely sight. Mount Hood, just sixty miles away, was barely visible through the haze to the East.

Not so far away Mt. Hood

I spent quite a lot of time on the bridge, soaking up the breeze and the sunshine.

Built with no right angles, to let the wind spill off

But where to go next? I’ll tell you tomorrow!

Happy me!

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

Too Early for Halloween?

Dear Liza,

Once Fall has fallen and October comes, ya know what’s next? Halloween!! The grocery stores have had candy and Jack-o-lanterns, skeletons and light- up ghosts on display for two weeks already! The air is cooler and it is getting dark earlier….just right for spooooky decorations.

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Spooooky comes early to Taylor Street

Yesterday, however, started with a more ordinary quest: Printer ink. The closest place that carries it is Office Depot down at MLK Jr. Avenue and Stark, about mile and a half away….so I walked. I passed one of my favorite places, the Lone Fir Cemetery, where crows and squirrels are enjoying the glut of acorns, chestnuts and walnuts. The clever crows even use the headstones to crack open their treats. Thanks, dead people.

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Sweet Chestnuts opened up

Closer to the river were industrial sorts of places, warehouses and art-making shops with delightfully quirky murals, as well as urban breweries and wine makers.

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Murals along Stark Street

After I made the very quick stop at Office Depot and bought the ink, I strolled the aisles of Sheridan Fruit Company, a family business founded in 1916, enjoying the smells and sights. Besides a dizzying variety of bulk goods and exotic sausages, they have a lively deli section which was crowded with people buying lunch to go…which reminded me of how hungry I was. I caught the bus home for lunch.

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Bulk goods at Sheridan Fruit Company

After an afternoon of reading and art, we had something new for dinner! I tried making pulled pork in the slow cooker and it was delicious! It is nice to know I can make Auntie Bridgett something she loves right here at home.

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Pulled Pork started!

We walked through the neighborhood and saw the beginnings of Halloween decorations. Big and small, inflated and illuminated, they all make us giggly-happy.

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More decorations

So of course, once we got home, we moved the car, dragged the ladder, and pulled down the boxes of our own Halloween decorations!

Let the spooky silly begin!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Last Thursday on Alberta

Dear Liza,

Last Thursday, we went to an event called “Last Thursday Art Walk.” It happens on the last Thursday of every month during the summer, up on Alberta Street, about three and a half miles north of our house. They close off about 7 blocks of Alberta Street and people set up tables, booths, musical instruments, or just themselves, to sell, sing, dance, see, and be seen.

We went into some some galleries first, with exquisite assemblages and ceramics, paintings and sculptures. These were very well organized and air conditioned, which was welcome in the hot evening. We spent lots of time looking at each and every piece, but I didn’t take pictures, because artists are touchy about that.

Then we stepped out onto the street, where there was no traffic. This was sort of like the Hawthorne Street Fair a few weeks ago, but also really different. The street being closed to traffic and full of tents was the same…everything else was different. That had a ‘doing business’ sort of feeling…friendly, but there for a purpose. This felt more like friends getting together to hang out, make music, enjoying each other’s music and weirdness.

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10 year old rock stars

And weirdness there was. Belly dancing, drum circles, people dressed in costumes and posing like statues, and kids playing rock and roll were there, as were t-shirt shops, ice cream carts, and tarot card readers.

There were also some very talented musicians playing great music, while jugglers juggled in time to the music. Amazing.

We walked all the way west, (into the sun again!) and back east, ending at O’Leary’s Irish Pub for a cold drink and dinner. The cider and Guinness were welcome, and the fries, grilled cheese sandwich with caramelized pear, and roasted brussels sprouts were exactly what was needed. While we sat, we watched the people passing by, which is always the best show ever.

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Mural of the Vanport Flood in 1948

Another thing that made the fair so much fun was getting to see Alberta Street. There are so many murals on the outside walls, where the artists don’t mind if you take pictures, and since there was no traffic, I could take pictures without being killed. I have included quite a few here.

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Circle of Life mural

After we had seen, listened, laughed and eaten, we walked back to the car and headed home. Portland has so much to offer, I just can’t keep up! I may need to take a break tomorrow. But I will be back soon.

 

P.S. And of course, there were mosaics. Maybe so many people make them because the tiles last so well in the rainy winters, or maybe because it is fun to turn broken bits into art, but there sure are a lot of them around! And I LOVE it!

 

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And mosaics, of course

 

 

 

 

 

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More!

 

 

Love,

Grandma Judy