Ever-changing Laurelhurst

Dear Liza,

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Summer campers hunting snails

I have told you about Laurelhurst Park, the lovely old park in our neighborhood. It was created about 113 years ago when the neighborhood was developed from dairy farms and pastures. The park is land that was a gulch, or ravine, and too prone to flooding to build on, so they made it a park. Good call, city planners.

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Helping new grass in the off-leash area

Since there were no trees here when the park was developed, all the trees were planted at the same time, so most of them are the same age: 113 years! These great trees give the park a sense of history and permanence, peace and mystery.

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Fir Lake Reflections

But yesterday we had a strong reminder that even in this permanence, there is change. Auntie Bridgett and I were walking in the park, enjoying the shade, the summer campers, the birdsong, and the happy dog joy that was everywhere. From across a clearing we heard a large CRASH, and within a few minutes, an ever larger CRASH! It was so loud in the peaceful park, we were all stunned. It sounded (and I know this sounds silly) like a giant monster had stumbled into the park and was ripping up trees.

I ran towards the sound, wanting to see what it was. A huge tree by the west end of Firwood Lake

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Yes, that’s me beside the fallen limb

had lost one smallish limb, then a giant limb. They had grown too heavy with new growth, and without the slightest provocation of wind or weather, crashed to the ground. It was sad, like seeing a peaceful giant, still in his prime, dead on the ground.

People came from all over the park to see and take pictures. One fellow knew who to call and soon some maintenance guys came on Cushman carts to put up Caution tape, in case more limbs fell.

We stood (at a safe distance, because Auntie Bridgett worries) feeling sad at the death of the beautiful branch, appreciating the life forces at work. Trees are living, changing beings, and to expect them to stand tall all the time is unrealistic. We all lose a limb every now and then. don’t we?  I  keep learning new things.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Goodbye Mimosa

Dear Liza,

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The mimosas before the trim    began                                     Photo credit: Bridgett Spicer

There are so many beautiful, huge, really old trees in our neighborhood. Today, there is one less.

Down the block, between us and Babydoll Pizza, a giant mimosa tree has stood for, I would guess, 50 years, probably planted when the house we are living in was new.

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Urban Arborist

Yesterday we saw the cherry picker drive up, along with a trailer,  grinder, and compost truck. I didn’t get a chance to talk to the fellows doing the work…they were busy doing loud, hazardous work, and it was really cold. So I took photos from our window and thought about change.

I loved the trees because they were majestic and spoke of history and caring for one’s urban environment. They were part of this city that is so completely different from whence I came. I longed for change, and found it here. I found a new status quo.

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More change! Camellias blooming!

And now they are gone, and that new status quo is different. I am still figuring out how I feel about that.

One change we love and count on is the flamingo drama down the street. They have now been celebrating New Year’s Eve for several days and looks like they had a marvelous time!

Love, Grandma Judy

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Happy Flamingo New Year!

Out and About in the Wet

Dear Liza,

It is still wet here…not always raining, but always rain-ish. The colors continue to change and be beautiful. This morning I went out walking with Grandpa Nelson down to the Rocking Frog for coffee and doughnuts, and saw lovely drops on branches, more plants going to seed and making lots of winter food for the birds, and more trees changing.

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Seeds for birds!
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Drips

Last night we all went out for dinner at a new restaurant on Belmont (new to us, that is) called Circa 33. It has a dark, secret sort of atmosphere, like a speakeasy of the 1920’s. The first thing I did, while taking off my scarf, was bang into one of their low hanging lights and break it! I felt awful, but it turns out it had been broken before and was held together with tape. Still, what an entrance.

Disaster over, we ordered and enjoyed dinner. Seared salmon, bourbon brined pork chops, and Grandpa Nelson’s french fries filled us all up, then we walked across the street for a few games of pinball at the Belmont Inn. Auntie Bridgett and I love their “Monster Bash” game….lots of characters that move and good sound effects. Pinball is a lot of good time for just $2.00.

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Circa 33 on Belmont

The little mossy branch I brought home yesterday is now sitting in a small pot on the porch with a maple seed. This is what it looks like!

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Moss in a pot

Love,

Grandma Judy

Feeling More at Home

Dear Liza,

Today our new house became our home for real, because we went to the airport to pick up Grandpa Nelson! He had been in Salinas making sure everything was safely on the moving truck, and managed to be the last person on a plane coming to Portland. I love the Portland Airport for many reasons. It is beautiful, bright, easy to navigate, has delicious food, and is easy to get to by train. I had never had to drive there. The passenger pick up and drop off is so congested, there was a man with white gloves and a loud whistle directing traffic. When you come, I will take the train up to meet you!

Auntie Bridgett was driving and got us home safe, after stopping at Killer Burgers on Sandy to get Grandpa Nelson dinner.  Even being tired, sleeping on an air mattress in a strange place is weird. We are all sleeping downstairs because it is cooler and has carpeting, so easier to sleep if the air mattress fails. But the kitchen and living room with better light are upstairs., so there is lots of up and down…a new thing for all of us.

It was a day of lots of small decisions. Our 1950’s era house has old electronics, so there is only one place the television can go. That dictates where the rest of the furniture can be….the three of us are good at discussing options and differences of opinions, but it can be exhausting.

Auntie Bridgett and I made a long list of things we needed for the house, and in a interesting hour at Fred Meyer, we found them all! We also found lots of friendly people…a flirty, dapper fellow with an ornate mustache, pink shirt and cowboy hat, an old man shopping with his even older mom for baby clothes, and helpful clerks who walked up and down aisles to find us what we needed.

The day was productive. The garage door got repaired, the internet got connected, and the kitchen got set up, laundry got done. We had dinner at home with some nice wine, a Goodfellow Pinot Noir from a local winery here in the Willamette Valley, bought at the wine shop down the block, Vino.

After dinner it started to cool down a bit, so we went for a walk though Laurelhurst Park and around the neighborhood. We looked at houses for sale, art galleries in tiny old store fronts, and trees, trees, trees.

These huge old trees are one of the main differences between Salinas and Portland. The climate here and the age of the city means there have been trees planted for more than a hundred years. Many of those trees are still here, as well as their younger, but huge, brothers and sisters. Maples, elms, birches, pines, oaks, all growing 50 feet and more, as well as rhododendrons 20 feet high and around, make Portland more a city in a garden than a city with gardens.  The shade they give cools down hot streets. The birds and squirrels have lots of places to live. The light shining through their leaves makes every treetop shimmer like church windows, a sacred, peaceful place.

I miss you but I am feeling more like I have a new home here.

Love, Grandma Judy