…And Back Again

Dear Liza,

Once I got to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, I had intended to head right back home, but my Dad’s voice whispered “Go home a different way, so you see something different.”

Art made with cables and sky

So I continued across the bridge to the Westside. The pedestrian walkway has recently been finished and makes for a very pleasant, if warm, walk between the bridges. There were more adventurers out and about.

Kayakers out and about

I found Poet’s Beach, a side path lined with stones that are carved with poetry written by students, years ago.

Thanks, Phoebe!

It is loud, because it is right under the double decker Marquam Bridge, but worth a read and a visit.

The extremely loud Marquam Bridge

By this time, my feet and my phone batteries were telling me it was time to head home. I decided to cross back over the Hawthorne Bridge. I love the views of bridges from other bridges!

The Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges… from the Hawthorne.

Of course, political statements are everywhere. I liked this re-purposed public service message.

You can see a lot of Portland from bridges, too. Joggers, cyclists, the Burnside Bridge and the Convention Center are all in these shots.

Once I was back on the Eastside, I realized I was hungry, and came upon Asylum, a food Court on the site of Dr. Hawthorne’s Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. This much-respected institution stood from 1862 to 1883. It closed when the good Doctor died and burned to the ground a few years later.

The space has a steampunk cartoony vibe, with trash containers that made me laugh, and really tasty food.

I had pot stickers from the Thai place and enjoyed some people and art watching.

The Asylum gates ….

Once I was fed, I still had a mile walk, all uphill, to get home. I paced myself, admiring gardens, appreciating shade, and visiting with nice folks. I had done what I had intended to do, walked a total of 6.2 miles, and it felt good.

By the way, as you can tell, Portland is not “in flames”. We are fine. The protests are being exploited by the President and his allies who want to use Portland as an excuse to use strong arm tactics against his political enemies. He is lying.

Took the words out of my mouth!

Stay alert, stay well, and remember I love you.

Grandma Judy

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

Hazel Hall, Poet

Dear Liza,

One of the shops I love most in our little Sunnyside neighborhood is called Noun, “a person’s place for things”. It has a delightful collection of curated second hand things and newer artwork, and is temporarily closed, of course. But it has a wonderful new window display that has taught me new things.

NOUN…A person’s place for things

In the window is this hand lettered and sewn paper creation that looks like a quilt with writing on it, and I got to stop and read it the other day. It is called Nobody Passes and it goes like this:

The day is set, like a stage for feet

With a ridge of white clouds painted high

Across the canvas of the sky,

With pavement gleaming and too clean,

A shimmer of grass that seems too green,

And houses alert in every side,

Showing a stiff and conscious pride.

The day is a stage and life is a play,

But nobody passes down this way.

I was intrigued, and looked up Helen Hall online. She was born in 1886 and lived in northwest Portland. When she was about twelve, either because of a fall or scarlet fever (history is slippery) she became paralyzed and could only get around by wheelchair.

Since her house was a typical Victorian with steep, narrow stairs, Helen spend most of the rest of her life in her upstairs bedroom. When she got older, she started taking in sewing work that she could do from home. Her sewing machine was set up by the window so she could look out.

She started writing poetry, mostly about her work and what she saw happening on the street outside her window. Her poems became well known, and were published in The Nation and Sunset, among many others. Her poems were praised and “true” and “poignant”.

Hazel died in 1924 at the age of 38. Her home, at 106 NW 22nd in Portland, still stands and is on the National Register of Public Places. There is a small park next door, and seems like a good place for us to visit,once we can go out and visit.

I love learning new things about my wonderful city. I hope you get to come see me real soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Parody of Sonnet 29

Dear Liza,

Here I am again, playing with Shakespeare! One of his more famous Sonnets is Number 29, which starts, “When in disgrace in fortune and men’s eyes…”. It talks about how hard it is to be down on your luck and jealous of other people’s successes, and how nice it is, in those hard times, to have someone in your life who loves you best.

Inspired by our current global mess, here is my take.

The Man-Child

Parody of Sonnet 29

Now in disgrace upon the global stage
Our once-proud nation fumbles forward, blind
Led by a man-child driven by bent rage
Fueled by the remnants of his tiny mind

In Germany their leader knows the facts
And South Korea quickly got the jump
But here the scientists all got the ax
If, in their knowledge, they spoke anti-Trump

But there is hope out in the country wide
In folks who want to keep their fellows safe
We can be careful, even stay inside,
 E’en when the confines of our houses chafe

To save ourselves from tantrum throwing men,
We need to be the grown-ups, once again

Hope you are well, and stay well!

Love, Grandma Judy


Tardigrade Poetry

Dear Liza,

By now, you know I love writing silly poetry. I like learning new forms and playing with the rhyme schemes, discovering which words fit the pattern and the meaning.

A tardigrade

You also know I love tardigrades. These tiny animals are about the size of a comma on this page. They are found in forests and are also called water bears or moss piglets. Scientists have studied them and found that they can survive intense heat, years of being dried out, and even the vacuum of outer space.

So, there is the mystery. WHY would an animal on Earth have evolved these features? What ELSE can they do?

A different tardigrade (I think, it’s hard to really tell…)

It is their mysterious origins and almost cute “bear-like” features that have inspired our friend Betsy Streeter to do a series of drawings that celebrate their versatility in cartoon-ish hyperbole. You can find more of her work on Instagram @betsystreeter or email her at tinyletter.com/betsystreeter.

Her drawings, in turn, have inspired me to write a parody of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 about the little critters.

“Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio…..”
”Bardigrade” by Betsy Streeter

From “Sonnet 18”

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s gnat?

Thou art more handsome and more alluring

Mere swats can squash a tiny bug like that,

But tardigrade, thou art ‘ere enduring

Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines

The tardigrade just laughs and snuggles down

Sometimes the icy voice of space opines

The tardigrade regards it without frown

For thy eternal tiny-ness goes on,

Delighting those with minds which seek you out

Thy protein-bas’ed armor thou shalt don

Proving thy just perfection, without doubt

    So long as we can live, and learn and see,

    Thou, tardigrade, our Shakespeare-buddy, be.

Silliness reigns supreme!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Spring Beauty with a Side of Poetry

Dear Liza,

We got to walk through the neighborhood yesterday, on our way to Whole Foods for groceries. Our last two days of bright sunshine have encouraged all the flowers!

These irises with just a touch of yellow are magical

The bees are going nuts, too, though they were skittish and wouldn’t let me get close enough to take their pictures. However, this solid brick of azalea blooms was very patient.

Perfectly managed azalea bush!

Up on Ankeny Street in a poetry box, I found this very personal poem. If I had seen it on Mother’s Day, it would have felt cruel and bruising. But today I am stronger and can see it as beautiful.

Lovely poem that perfectly invokes Great Grandma Billie

Feelings are such delicate balances between joy and melancholy, sweet memories and frightful hauntings, it is a miracle we maintain as well as we do. I only really appreciate joy when I have pulled out of a dark hole and can sigh with relief at my freedom.

Thanks, Momma.

Love,

Grandma Judy

There Will Come Soft Rains

Dear Liza,

I went out for a walk to the grocery store the other day, and took some pictures of our fabulously colorful Portland spring. There were not many people out, because of the shutdown, and the combination of uncanny quiet and lush flowers reminded me of something and tickled in the back of my brain.

I just figured out what it was.

There is a poem called There will Come Soft Rains, by Sara Teasdale. She wrote it 1918, in response to the horrors of World War I that the world was living through at the time. The Spanish Flu, spread by the movement of soldiers and lack of health measures, swept across the world at that time, killing 63,000 American soldiers, more than the enemy‘s weapons did.

Sara Teasdale was feeling as some of us are now, despairing of our capacity for self destruction, and the poem tells of the beauty of nature that will go on when mankind has finally wiped itself out.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows calling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous whit
e;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Our country has lost, so far, 72,000 people to Covid-19. It is so sad that it hurts to think about it. But most people are doing what they can, staying inside, wearing masks, sending help to family and neighbors, supporting the doctors and nurses. We are being our best selves. This is how we will survive.

And then we can get out into the springtime again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Political Poetry

Dear Liza,

The basis for Fibonacci Poetry

This post has some poetry in it, but also some comments about our President and (therefore) some bad words.

Thinking about the Fibonacci Poetry sequence I learned the other day, I started writing about world events that are on my mind. I like the way the syllables in the lines can get longer and longer, then shorter and shorter, making a sort of thunderstorm of words, starting slow, building to a crescendo, then tapering off.

I like how the number of syllables make me concentrate on finding exactly the right word for the space.

Auntie Bridgett’s cartoon from Election Day 2016

Here is my new poem:

Fat

Trump’s

Shitstorm

Continues

Bringing us closer

To a future we saw coming

When he bluffed his way to power

How can he be stopped?

We must vote

Him out

Vote
Him

Out

Sending you hope for a better, fairer world for when you grow up.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Halloween-y Zine-y

Dear Liza,

A Halloween Zine

Auntie Bridgett makes Zines, which are hand-made magazines, called Art-O-Rama. She has printed them every two months, every year since 2012. That’s 42 Art-O-Ramas so far! She sells them on-line (at squareup.com/store/bridgett-spicer) and at the Sidestreet Arts Gallery.

Each zine has a different theme, and she draws and writes about it. Some themes have been Imaginary Friends, Creativity, Monsters, and Eat, Drink and Be Merry…. all sorts of things.

Stuffties!!

Four years ago at Halloween, she was drawing in her sketchbook and this cute little witch appeared. I immediately started thinking of a story about her, and Auntie Bridgett put the story in her zine! I was so pleased!

So here it is, the full story-poem, with Auntie Bridgett’s drawings. Enjoy!

I love that Auntie Bridgett and I can work together and be silly sometimes.

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Fall Beauty

Dear Liza,img_1184-21.jpg

The sunshine has returned! I thought it was gone until Spring, but this week has been as bright and dry as August in Salinas.

I have pictures but no words, so I will borrow some from the English poet John Keats, who wrote it in the fall of 1819.

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfullness

Close-bosomed friend of the maturing sun

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;IMG_1130.jpg

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel-shells IMG_1187.jpg

With sweet kernal; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells…

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.

IMG_1129.jpg