Springtime with the Dead People

Dear Liza,

I hadn’t visited our Lone Fir Cemetery in a while, and was missing the sense of perspective that going there always gives me. I was not disappointed.

Mr. And Mrs. Stephens, the original residents, seen just beyond a toppled stone

The dandelions and tiny belladonna daisies are everywhere, bringing a sense of beauty and renewal to the uneven rows of headstones.

The tall willow by the east entrance towers over the graves, as if sheltering them from too much sun.

Odd things caught my eye, as well. This years-old stump has been decorated with crow feathers and flower petals, and seems to bring some older spirits to the place.

And, as part of the newly installed section marking stones, I get to learn the name of the narrow area of graves along the west fence. Am I crazy, or does “Westside Singles” sound more like a dating website than part of a cemetery?

And there you go. Perspective restored.


Grandma Judy

Time out of Joint

Dear Liza,

It is almost Autumn. School has started and leaves are beginning to change.

Fall color…

But in the bizarre world of Covid-19, it still feels like March. That’s when things closed down. That’s the last time I hugged Auntie Katie or the cousins. That’s when I sat at The Rocking Frog with Misha and chatted about regular life. As someone on TV said, during Covid, it is always sometime between breakfast and dinner, it is always NOW.

Visiting the dead people at Lone Fir Cemetery always puts things in perspective for me. These folks saw difficulties that make ours seem small. In the days before sanitation and vaccines, hundreds of babies died before their first birthday. Typhoid Fever, Spanish Flu, World Wars I and II took folks in their infancy or prime and there was nothing to be done for it.


In comparison, being stuck at home is pretty small. Not going to camp is doable. We just need to get through this year, this election, this political and national health debacle, and come out the other side with our humanity intact.

Chestnuts are falling already….

So, remember to love each other, hug who you can. Pet dogs and smell flowers. Help those in worse situations than yours. Be your best self.


Grandma Judy

Big Changes This Year

Dear Liza,

I have spent way too long looking at pictures from this year, and am using this letter to you to put things in perspective.

We started the year with snow.

Chilly Gnome

Auntie Katie, the Cousins and I walked to Slappy Cakes to celebrate her birthday, getting all bundled up against the February cold.

Birthday girl and Kestrel at Slappy Cakes

Just about a week later, we were celebrating Katie’s purchase of the building that would be the new home of Books With Pictures, her bookshop.

Meeting the new shop in February…
Less than 11 months later, in full retail mode for Christmas!

The building would also be the family’s new home, and they started off with celebrations, knowing there would be lots of work to do.

and the new home!

Before the summer was over, the Cousins were moved in and making the place into a home.

Cousin Kestrel’s art corner

Another change this year is in the health of my dear Aunt Bea. At Easter, we visited her in a hospital in Corvallis. She was recovering from a fall and feeling very… old.

Aunt Bea, a bit worn down

But by the time we visited her in September, she had moved to Bend and had been reunited with her dear Kitty Cat, and was feeling all spunky and fun again. Momma always said, “Bea doesn’t leave a party…she takes the party with her.”

Me and Bea, feeling like getting into mischief

I will tell you more about the year tomorrow, as I continue getting ready for the New Year!


Grandma Judy

Anniversary Celebration

Dear Liza,

Yes, that’s us!

Grandpa Nelson and I got married 44 years ago, on the Winter Solstice in 1974. We had been dating almost four years, and I had graduated high school just six months earlier. We were on winter break from the California State University at Long Beach.

The wedding was at the church I had gone to as a child, and the reception was at Great Grandma Billie’s house in Manhattan Beach. The caterer was her best friend, Millie Meyer, who ran a sandwich shop and owned a meat slicer. We acted very grown up.

When you get married at 18, acting grown up feels important.

Here in Portland yesterday, I walked the mile down to Auntie Katie’s house. She is suffering from a cold and needed a little help. I took the makings of chicken soup, got it going, did some dishes, gave Katie her lunch, and went to the market for groceries. Then I walked home and helped Auntie Bridgett clean the house.

I AM the grown up now, so pretending I am one is less important.

So, for our big anniversary celebration this evening, we will walk down to Bread and Ink for dinner and then over to the Bagdad Theater to watch the new Mary Poppins movie. The child in me will delight in Disney joy while appreciating the man who married me all those years ago, when we were so young our friends gave us giant candles and houseplants for wedding gifts because they were kids, too.

A more recent picture

Ah, perspective!


Grandma Judy