Signs of the Times

Dear Liza,

There’s a lot to be stressed about…

Between the political unrest and the pandemic, people are feeling very stressed these days. The big signs of this are protests and violence, which can overwhelm the small goodnesses that are happening in corners of neighborhoods.

Lots of little signs of love and hope…

When I go out walking, I look for these small signs and take comfort in my fellow humans’ capacity for kindness, cleverness, and joy.

Sharing delicious apples….

And yet, amid the apples and sweetness, we need to remember that the fight for fairness isn’t over yet.

It’s not time to stop yet….

We need to keep those who have been killed and brutalized in our mind as we make decisions about who will run our cities and our country.

Take care, love people, and stay well.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Full-On Portland

Dear Liza,

After weeks of feeling isolated and in my own head, Wednesday was a day that felt very connected, very Portland.

Hooray for Auntie Katie!!!

First, Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books With Pictures, was voted BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP IN PORTLAND by our local newspaper, the Willamette Weekly. Hooray!

I am sure that her hard work and dedication to customer service in having an online ordering service and door to door deliveries during the pandemic has endeared her to everyone. With so many businesses closing down, it is wonderful to see her thrive.

And in the evening, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett walked with me to deliver first aid supplies to the Black Lives Matter protesters. A group of volunteers called Snackbloc collect bandages, gloves, and other useful items in different neighborhoods to be used downtown to support the protesters against the Federal troops.

A beautiful mural along the way!

It pains me so much to see our government beating peaceful protesters. There has been some vandalism, but these troops are not dispersing crowds or stopping it; they are attacking unarmed people, shoving them down and gassing lines of singing women.

Protesters in Portland…. Photo by Beth Nakamura

It is as though they have come to punish these people for standing against the beatings… by beating them, like an abusive father ranting, “Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about.” This is not how I want my country to be.

Police attacking protesters in Portland… photo credit, CNN

But I am a coward. I fear beatings, teargas, arrest and undocumented detention by unknown troops. So I help in a small way so others who are braver can help in larger ways.

Take care, and I will see you soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Quarantined Easter

Dear Liza,

Well, here we are again, celebrating a special day in isolation. I am so blessed to be ‘stuck’ with the two people I have chosen to spend my life with! Our weather was bright and sunny, and we could hear that a lot of people were outside enjoying themselves.

First thing Easter morning, Auntie Bridgett and I had regular breakfast, then spent some time dyeing eggs. We weren’t able to get any of the Easter Egg dying kits, and the vinegar-and-food coloring isn’t quite as good, but it was fun, anyway. We used to other half of the hard boiled eggs to make deviled eggs for later.

We decorated the table with flowers I picked yesterday, Auntie Bridgett’s New Years’ hat, and candy sent from Auntie Bridgett’s mom, Donna. It was all so pretty!

Auntie Bridgett made haroset and fried some sausages, and I learned a new thing, Oatmeal pancakes! They are yummy and sweet. And there was matzoh, of course, because it is still Passover.

The day was especially lazy, with a nap for me between each meal. Isolation is weird. But later in the day, Bridgett’s sister Esther called us on video, and we got to see her, Nick, and cousin Madilyn. We even got to visit with Harold the Stufftie and see him in the mask we sent to keep him safe from whatever stuffties can catch.

Before bed we watched Fred Astaire and Judy Garland dance and fall in love in Easter Parade, the Time Team from British tv dig into a Spitfire crash site from WWII, and a rerun of the British Baking Show featuring puddings.

We are not exactly setting the world on fire, but getting by and enjoying the time together.

Sending you pages of love!

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

New House!

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Even though I am here in Salinas, Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I have just bought a new house in Portland!!

About a month ago, after looking at many houses that were too expensive or in the wrong neighborhood, my two wonderful people found this nice condominium just a few blocks from many of our favorite places. Laurelhurst Park….3 blocks away.  Lone Fir Cemetery, the Belmont Inn, the Nerd Out…all in the neighborhood. The number 15 bus to the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society…. two blocks away.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-83.jpg
Lone Fir in fall

nerd out 2.jpg.jpg
Desserts, Drinks, and Action Figures!

It was within our budget, new enough to not need major repairs, and bright and sunny. It has room for Auntie Bridgett to paint, for me to write, and for Grandpa Nelson to work on his computer. It has a patio where I can grow a rose or two and a balcony for all of Great Grandma Billie’s geraniums.

Auntie Katie’s friend Alyssa Isenstein-Krueger is a Real Estate Agent with Living Room Realty and helped my two people get in to see the place before the first Open House, so they got first dibs. And boy, did they dib!

We made an offer that afternoon. There was a lot of traffic over the internet with signing papers and passing banking information, but the final papers couldn’t be signed over the net…they needed to be signed in person. A notary named Jasmin printed out the papers and we met in the delicatessen department of the Nob Hill on South Main. So I signed the papers for my house in Portland in the grocery store I shopped at here in Salinas. Nob Hill is the bridge, sort of, between my life here and my life there.

I signed the papers on that rainy evening of the Union march at the Board meeting, going directly from signing papers to marching in the rain. What a day that was!!

GetFileAttachment-1.jpg
The “Three” of us in front of the new house

Tonight, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett had a bottle of wine at the new place, sitting on folding chairs, and we had a Facetime visit with all of us having wine here, to toast our new home. My two sillies brought along a large ceramic duck to stand in for ME.

We are all emotionally exhausted and ready to have a new nest to feather and be comfortable in. I get to see the house next week when I go to Portland for Spring vacation, and I am looking forward to deciding where everything will fit.

I can’t wait to start my new life in my new home!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Last Friday in Portland

Dear Liza,

birds-in-tree.jpg
Tiny bird….

 

I will be coming to Salinas to stay with you for a while, so last night was my last Friday in Portland for about 2 months. To make sure I didn’t miss my new city too much, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett took me out to some of my favorite places.

During the day, Bridgett and I walked down to the Belmont Library to return some books. We enjoyed the decorations in the Sunnyside neighborhood. We always see something new!

sunnyside mosaic art.jpg
Wall Mosaic in Sunnyside

Since it was very dark and rainy when we left the house, I wore my light-up coat and Bridgett wore her new light-up HAT! We were colorful, I tell you. But we were easy for drivers to see.

We walked down to the Hobnob, a funny, friendly place on SE 34th and Morrison. They have good food, the drinks we like (including stout beer for me and Absinthe for Auntie Bridgett) and a really comfortable atmosphere. There was a birthday party going on for a fellow and we got to sing with all his friends. There were french fries for Grandpa Nelson, a pulled pork slider for Auntie Bridgett, and a cup of roasted pepper chicken soup and some macaroni and cheese for me. Yummy!

Then, since I had filled my pockets with quarters, we walked around the corner to The Belmont Inn, where our favorite pinball game lives. Monster Bash! We played 2 sets of five games each and had a lot of fun. It wasn’t a great night for scoring though…. we only got one monster to wake up.

As we were walking home, we noticed…wait, could it be? Yes, The Nerd Out, which we had been watching since the Belmont Street Fair in September, is finally open for business! We HAD to go see it!

nerd out 2.jpg.jpg

First impressions were very good, as there were a half dozen Vespas and other scooters out front. The space is full of small tables, people, conversation, and comic stuff. One long wall is wallpapered with pages out of comic books and a shelf running all around the place is full of action figures. There is a full bar and a good menu. We were full of dinner and drinks, but they have desserts!

nerd out 5.jpg.jpg

Grandpa Nelson had an Un-birthday Cake, and Auntie Bridgett and I shared a Seasonal Cream Brulee, which had wonderful diced apples on top of the hard shell of sugar. We talked to Mitch, the owner, chef and head Nerd. We had met him at the street fair, and it was wonderful to see him running the business he had dreamed of. He was so excited to tell us about his upcoming events, a Grand Opening on January 18th and a Cosplay night on the last Thursday of the month.

I am sure we will come back to the Nerd Out.

See you soon!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Pambiche

Last night is was very cold, about 39 degrees, and raining a bit….so naturally we walked out to dinner!

We bundled up in long underwear, jeans, coats, hats and scarves, and walked the eight blocks to Glisan Street and 28th, to a brightly painted fuchsia, yellow, and teal building with a laundromat on one side and a Cuban restaurant on the other.

We have walked past this building dozens of times, and in the summer, listened to music wafting past the outdoor seating. We decided to try it. The place is smaller than it looks from the outside, only seating about 30 people in very close quarters, but the colors inside of teal and fiery fuchsia are cozy and inviting, and the posters and paintings on the wall give a nice, chaotic ambiance that I associate with Cuba. There is a huge poster of Mary Pickford, a silent movie star, and a smaller photo of Earnest Hemingway, an American author who loved Cuba and owned property there.

There are no french fries for Grandpa Nelson there, and the fried cassava root didn’t appeal, so he just had a nice, but really cold, glass of sangria. I opted for a rum drink called Santo Remedio (Holy Remedy) that was warm and tasty and got the feeling back in my fingers in no time. Auntie Bridgett had a glass of hot tea.

We arrived in Happy Hour, or as they say in Cuba, “El Hora de Los Amigos”, so we ordered small plates to share. Both the chicken and spinach empanadas were tasty and the roasted beet salad very hearty. We enjoyed our time there, but when the time came for dessert and we looked at all the ornate pastries in the glass case, nothing appealed, so we bundled up and headed home.

It started raining! Just enough for Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett to get out their umbrellas but hardly got my kitty hat damp.

We actually have snow predicted in the next few weeks, so I am looking forward to that. This photo has nothing to do with Pambiche

except that the colors are bright and pretty, but it was too dark to take pictures last night!

Love,

Grandma Judy