Fifth Grade Promotion and a Walk to Fleet Week

Dear Liza,

Last week was the last day of school for everyone. For Cousin Kestrel, it was her last day AT her school. She got promoted from the fifth grade at Abernethy Elementary and will be going to Middle School next year!

The small, friendly ceremony was held on the playground, with just Kes’s classmates and teacher, because each class had its own time. It was delightfully low key and personal.

I was happy to be able to be there and celebrate another milestone in the family.

It was fun, too, to see Kestrel’s best friend Lennon. I have only met her in groups of kids at birthday parties, so it was great to see her unique spirit and understand why she and Kes are so close.

After the ceremony, the girls went back to class and I bought Katie breakfast at the Honeycuspe waffle truck in the food pod in her parking lot. I love how the space is becoming a cheerful outdoor dining spot! The murals, tables, awnings, and repaired paving (which Katie installed herself!) makes it easy to sit and enjoy.

I headed home, full of waffles and happiness, and took pictures of magnificent peonies along the way.

That afternoon, still full from brunch and rested up, I joined Grandpa Nelson on his walk to the river to see part of Fleet Week, where Portland plays host to sailors from the American and Canadian navies.

As the Canadian ships HMCS Edmonton and the HMCS Brandon came up the Willamette River from the Columbia River, the Fremont Bridge, the Broadway Bridge, the Steel Bridge and Burnside Bridge were all raised to allow the ships to pass underneath. We got to the Burnside Bridge as it was raised and clanging, making sure everyone for a mile in all directions knew what was going on.

The fireboat was off to the side, spouting water in celebration. I’m sure the sailors enjoyed the spectacle. I know the people on the riverbank did!

When the bridge came down, we realized that we had walked five miles and were ready for a snack and a sit-down. We found the Forte Cafe at SW Sixth and Washington. It was modern and delightful, with Italian sodas and cookies and unusual art. This wall of fish just tickled me!

There was a framed Robin Williams quote that spoke to me, as well. “You’re only given a little spark of madness.” He said. “You mustn’t lose it.”

That says it all.


Grandma Judy

Nothing but Flowers

Dear Liza,

The neighborhood has gotten so pretty! It has been hot, and if people water enough, their flowers are just going nuts.

There are about a zillion varieties of dahlias, and they are all beautiful. Some of them grow taller than my head, and others are little guys about six inches tall. They all grow from potato-like rhizomes and I think I’ll put some in my garden next year.

Cone flowers are another plant that can be stunningly tall and showy. They have really prickly centers and petals that flop like skirts.

AND when you have coneflowers, dahlias, and sculpture all together in front of a delightful old house, it’s even better!


Grandma Judy

P.S. Peonies….

The Oregon Garden Part 1

Dear Liza,

The Oregon Garden, where we visited last Wednesday, is 80 acres on a gently sloping hillside just outside Silverton. It was started in 1997 as a project by the Oregon Association of Nurseries as a sort of outdoor showroom. But it is so much more!

Ducklings out for lunch!

Entering the garden from the gift shop, we were met with a collection of natural-looking water features interlaced with pathways. This area is called The A-amazing Water Garden and is filled to bursting with water lilies, frogs, ducks, and even one lovely green snake. Watching OPK’s ( Other People’s Kids) giggling, running, and enjoying everything was half the fun!

Handsome snake getting a bite to eat…

Our journey through the garden alternated between small gardens overhung with trees and wide-open sunny spaces, offering a comfortable rhythm. There was so much to see, I couldn’t stop for all the pictures I wanted, or I’d never move. I decided to enjoy my time and only take pictures when I really wanted to save an image. There are still a lot.

Just past the Water Garden we found the Bosque, a very formal set of lily ponds, created to reflect the surrounding trees and elicit a sense of calm. It was lovely and tranquil.

Reflections in the Bosque

We turned left and up the hill, heading through the Axis Garden. This is mostly open space, and is used for weddings and events.

The Axis Garden

To either side were the Conifer garden, with a delightful collection of evergreens, and the Children’s garden, with Hobbit holes and even a dinosaur skeleton in the sandbox.

In the Children’s Garden

Just above the Children’s Garden, the trees opened up again in the full-sun Silverton Market Garden. This garden features grapes, berries and other major Oregon crops, and is a major open air event space which would easily hold a few hundred people.

It features a large Pavilion, pathways, and about a thousand Peonies and Irises all in bloom. It was stunning.

Auntie Bridgett among the irises

About this time, we realized that our eyes were full and our feet were tired. We found a bench in the shade and just sat for a while, letting all the beauty soak in. Then we continued our journey up the hill, which I will tell you about tomorrow.

Peony explosion


Grandma Judy

It’s Pink Season

Dear Liza,

Pink has never been my color. As I have told you before, it was always mentioned as “The Girl’s Color” in a derisive sort of way that made sure it would never be “my” color.

Majestic Dogwoods reach for the sun

But Portland has changed my mind about that. In Spring, pink becomes the power color. The color of pollination, of getting things done. And it is breathtaking.

Gigantic peonies lurk in the shadows
Redbuds bloom to contrast a green house

The bees, butterflies, and birds love the pinks! They flit and hop around, making sure we see their colors, too.

And Camellias, of course…

So, though I may still not wear pink, I love it. It is bright and full of life, and will always, now, remind me of spring in Portland.


Grandma Judy