Shoveling it Forward

Dear Liza,

The temperatures are rising, and we are done getting any new snow (for now, anyway). Now is the time, apparently, to shovel the walks. Our neighbors John and Stacy got out this morning and took care of their walk, and continued all the way to our gate, and the sidewalk.

Auntie Bridgett got out, borrowed their shovel, and cleared from our walk up to Jonathon’s, next door. She was really scooting along!

When she was almost done, Grandpa Nelson headed out for his turn, working up to Trevor and Kara’s place.

Once I had finished a batch of cookies I made for John and Stacy for loaning us the shovel, I stepped up. My two mates made it look so easy, I figured I could steam forward. However, I found that the snow was just too darn heavy for me to lift! I felt like an old lady, but didn’t want to break anything.

Trevor came out and did some more, continuing the good-deed-doing all the way to the end of the lane, meeting up with the other set of buildings. Curt came from around the corner and cleared the sidewalk in front of the building.

It was so good to see all our neighbors out doing, talking, and working together, becoming more neighborly. Everybody doing something lets everyone accomplish anything!!

Maybe this summer we can even get some potlucks going….

Love,

Grandma Judy

Icy Magic

Dear Liza,

Just as I was getting used to snow, I started noticing the ice. A icy glaze covered every tiny branchof every bush and tree in the neighborhood, as though they had all been dipped in glass. I couldn’t stop staring at them.

The forecast was for warming Monday evening and rain through the week, so I am glad I managed to see the ice and get the pictures I did.

The sharp, drippy shards of icicles are amazing and alien looking, but something I saw that I didn’t expect was this lovely frozen-bumpy effect on car windows and mirrors. The temperature was so low that the rain froze as soon as it hit.

Sadly, all this magic will be gone by Tuesday morning. Icicles will drip into non-existence. Snow will melt and flow into the bioswales and from there to the river. We will be back to normal, and that’s okay, too.

Weird bubble mirror and Auntie Bridgett

I’m glad the snow doesn’t last long enough to be just “that darn white stuff”.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Snow in Portland! Part 2

Dear Liza,

After we realized the front gate was blocked, we headed out the garage door. Snow was there, too, but we could stomp through and get to the sidewalk, anyway. We walked toward Laurelhurst Park, staring at icicle drips and snow covered steps along the way.

Ghostly garden steps

We watched a cheery parade of folks dragging sleds and carrying plastic trash can lids. Every pair of cross country skis in East Portland was in use. It was like a party!

Tinseled nandina

And once we got to the park, the fun continued. Sledders found the ravine. Big fluffy dogs rolled and ran in the snow, like kids let out of school. People of a certain vintage walked like penguins, taking tiny steps.

The Off Leash area run amok!

At the west end of the park, one of the hundred year old trees had fallen across SE 33rd, barely missing the windows and facade of a house almost as old as the tree. It must have been a windier night than I realized! Of course, the downed tree became a temporary jungle gym for neighborhood kids, who climbed over its frosted branches.

By this time, my phone and I were both out of energy, so Auntie Bridgett and I trudged home. But this snow isn’t going anywhere for a day or two, so I’ll show you more frozen beauty tomorrow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Snow in Portland! Part 1

Dear Liza,

In winter, Portland is mostly a wet and chilly city, not a cold and frozen city. This weekend has been different.

Our patio gnomes, snowed in…

We knew the snow was coming. The weather reports warned of heavy snow, freezing temperatures, and icy bridges. We did extra grocery shopping so we wouldn’t run out of things if we couldn’t drive or walk to the market. And when we went to bed Thursday night, it was snowing.

For me, a girl from the beach in Southern California, there is always something magical about snowfall. Unlike rain, which falls quickly and races away along the gutters, snow comes down at a leisurely pace, as if it is enjoying the scenery along the way. Then it makes little piles, settling in for a visit.

Modern art sculpture of trees in the courtyard…

Friday was a wonderful, mostly-stay-inside day. Grandpa Nelson and I got out to walk around the building just to hear the snow crunch under our boots, then got back inside before we fell in our butts. Tucked back inside, we watched as the snow came and went, with some chilly wind rattling the ice on the branches of the dogwood tree across the way. Even my bonsai forest, The Hundred Acre Wood, out on the balcony, got some snow.

Hundred Acre Wood in snowfall…

When we woke up Saturday, we saw that quite a bit of snow had decided to stay and visit. The little gate that separates our patio from the main walkway was frozen shut, the latch having been welded and glazed by freezing rain.

Frozen latch

Once I got that melted via a hot washcloth (thanks for the advice, Auntie Katie!) I realized that I had a bigger problem. The bottom six inches of the gate were buried in the snow. But my dad would not have been deterred, and I didn’t want to be, either.

I went in search of weaponry, but when we moved from our house in Salinas to our townhouse with no yard, we gave all that away. No shovel, rake, or push room, not even garden trowels. What did I have? A spatula and some cardboard.. I tried, I really did. But no go. There was no going out that way.

These footprints went nowhere!

Sigh. More tea…. more sewing. It could be so much worse.

I will tell you about our victory and adventure in the snow tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Different Kind of Drift…

Dear Liza,

When I tell you we have weather up here in Portland, understand that I mean WEATHER. Real, crazy swings of temperature and precipitation that can take your breath away.

For example, here are four pictures taken in our neighborhood.

These pink ones, showing the cherry blossom drifts covering everything in sight, were taken this past Wednesday, the 22nd of April.

These freezing cold white ones, showing snow coming down and creating sufficient drifts for small snowmen, were taken just five weeks ago, on March 15.

Now, these are both wonderful sights to see and even be out in, but I never expected to see them just over a month apart. Portland puts on a good show, even when the theaters and art galleries are closed!

And I am enjoying it no end.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Snowmen in Laurelhurst Park

Dear Liza,

Snowboys of all ages!

I don’t think these even need words! Saturday, March 14, 2020, this is what was happening in Laurelhurst Park.

Grandpa Nelson and friend
Not quite Olaf, but a pretty happy snowman, anyway

It was a wonderful day. Folks are self-isolating because of the state of emergency declared for the Coronavirus. Being at the park is public, but not too close. The snowmen were all at least a meter away from each other.

Love,

Grandma Judy

And then, Snow!

Dear Liza,

Saturday morning, we woke up to snow. It was just a dusting, and we went back to sleep. A few hours later, it was STILL snowing, and Grandpa Nelson decided it was time for a proper snow adventure, so we bundled up and headed off.

Grandpa Nelson, out and about

First, we saw our walkway, decorated with snow. The gnomes were wondering who put out the lights, apparently.

Gnomes, just chillin’

Then we noticed some tulips that had not seen the snow coming. I hope they can spring back!

Very surprised tulips

Laurelhurst Park itself is lovely in any weather, but is a Narnia sort of beautiful in the snow. The Ravine always looks like Mr. Tumnis is going to show up any moment.

The edge of Narnia

As we walked around, we saw dozens of families enjoying the snow. There were snowmen, snowball fights, dogs dashing around. It was a winter wonderland… in March. I will show you the snowmen tomorrow.

Firwood Lake and snowy Boomarang Island

The lake was very pretty through the trees, as the snow came down and sat on the surface for just a minute before melting.

After our walk, we came in and hung our wet clothes up in front of the fire, and spent the rest of the day alternately watching TV and snow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Snow! Well, Sort of…

Dear Liza,
Yesterday afternoon, after many false predictions, it snowed!!

One of our gnomes

Well, it was precipitation and it wasn’t rain, so we will call it snow. It bounced when it hit, making steep pitched roofs and driveways look like Pachinko games. And of course, Grandpa Nelson and I walked out in it! (He said we were really going down to Zach’s Shack for lunch, but I know better).

Before we got to Zach’s, there was quite a crunchy layer of little ice balls (okay, it was hail) on the sidewalk and covering roofs. It lay on hoods and hatchbacks and surrounded fearless daffodils.

Brave early daffodils

It was cold and lovely, like all winter beauty is when you have a warm, dry place waiting for you. Which we did. At Zach’s we ate some fries and watched the weather change, from heavy hail to damp grey skies to blinding sunshine. Then it was time to head home!

Squirrel checking the weather…

Love,

Grandma Judy

Looking Back

 

Dear Liza,

It is a new year, and I am looking forward to some more big changes. I will be coming to Salinas to stay with you for a few months while I teach, and my life here in Portland will be put on hold. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett will stay here and take care of Mouse the kitten, the houseplants, and their jobs…but we won’t be together. This will be weird, and sometimes sad.

Before looking forward, though, I want to look back on the crazy trip that got me here and what I love about Portland.

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Auntie Katie and Cousin Kestrel

During the hot Summer, we learned about getting around on air-conditioned buses and trains. We got to visit our new favorite Laurelhurst Park with Auntie Katie and the cousins. We even walked to the Willamette River and put our feet in!

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View from under the Hawthorne Bridge

It was fun getting to show you all the things in our new city, like the zoo.

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Being a Squirrel

 

The biggest thing that we learned about is the weather. It rains a lot here, and we are getting used to asking Google if we should take an umbrella. It even snows! This takes getting used to, but is such a nice change from highs of 70 and lows of 50 that I don’t mind.

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Snow on the back steps

 

I have fallen in love with the theater and art here in Portland. Theaters are made from old churches, warehouses, and even set up in parks. Art and music are everywhere.

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Young violinist on SW Salmon and Park

People playing music, reciting and writing poetry on street corners just isn’t something we saw in Salinas, and it is a real treat.

And of course, the history! I have been studying about Portland’s past…it’s buildings, trolley cars, and people. It is just about as old as Salinas, but since it is a bigger city, it has more stories.

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I am still trying to find out who this young lady was

There is so much I love about Portland. I will miss it, and then return in June to re-discover my new city all over again.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

Strange Icy Magic

Dear Liza,

I grew up in Southern California, and have lived the last 30 years in Salinas, where ice and snow almost never happen. So having a few days to really get out and see what ice does to a familiar neighborhood has been fun.

First, clothing. Three shirts, long underwear under jeans, wool socks and boots, plus scarves and hats. Gloves, too,  if you want to keep your fingers.

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Footprints in fluffy Snow

Next, walking. Any kind of movement becomes very thoughtful. Since the ground is squishy or slick, and cement is hard, you pay a lot more attention to your feet…the actual placement, checking for traction every second.

This means you need to stop in order to look up, which you must do, because everything is so different. The snow that fell three days ago had changed from fluffy and soft to grainy and icy, and has melted and re-frozen a few times, making some weird shapes along the way.

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Icy Camellia Bush

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Ice on our stump

 

 

The evergreen camellias common in yards around here hold up to the ice well, even forming molds which the ice flows into. It was amazing to hold one of these!

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Camellia Ice Mold

Familiar things, like our gnomes on the back steps, take on new meaning. Not just “I’m a gnome” but “I’m a really freezing, patient gnome.” The plaster sun becomes a study in irony.

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Winter Sun

We had such a wonderful visit from Great Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle, showing off this new city that we love. We walked the neighborhoods, looked at houses, saw art museums and bookshops, ate Babydoll Pizza and marathoned Christmas movies. We are now ready for a few days of downtime before the new year.

Love,

Grandma Judy