Adulting at the Zoo

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett worked all day at the SideStreet Gallery today, so Grandpa Nelson and I went to the Portland Zoo, taking the number 15 bus and Red Line train. Of course, we have been to the zoo with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel, but going with just grown ups is a whole different experience. We were like our own island of calm in a sea of chatting, fussing, small people.

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Masai Giraffe

It was a perfectly Portland fall day, cool and cloudy but not raining. The animals were mostly up and about and, since I had no children to keep track of, I could really enjoy the critters.

On our way to the giraffes, which are Grandpa Nelson’s favorites, we stopped at the Columbus monkey enclosure. There was quite a crowd watching the new baby, sitting on a branch with his mom and learning to handle branches. His balance was precarious and every time the branch shifted, the crowd gasped. After a few minutes the father came over, and the baby became much less adventurous, seeming to keep Momma between himself and Big Dad.

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Baby Colobus monkey keeps an eye on Dad

The giraffes were delightful, walking elegantly around their enclosure, or leaning gracefully down for a drink. Grandpa Nelson says he likes them because they are quiet.

Having no children to keep track of, I got to watch everyone else’s. This was a zoo-going experience, too, watching this species of small human interact. I loved seeing the kids play with Jim Gion’s bronze sculpture group called Lunch Break, especially this little guy trying to be a cub.

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Cubs

It was also fun to see older siblings explain things to little brothers and sisters. “See this snake? See how you are red? He can tell you’re not a rock, so he can eat you!” And, on cue, the little brother squeals.

Heat sensing snake

Something I had never seen was an elephant enjoying a swim in the big pool. A keeper was fielding questions and telling us all about elephants, while we watched this giant animal duck and squirt in the water like you do in your bathtub. I imagine it’s about has hard to get him out, too, when it is time!

We noticed that the zoo is already getting ready for Zoo Lights, a wonderful night event held in December where the zoo is open very late and all the trees are lit up, and animals made of neon tubes glow and move. It takes weeks to take the lights down after the holidays, more time to refurbish them, and then another few months to put them all back up. But it is a delightful, if chilly, outing that we will certainly do again this year.

Getting ready for Zoo Lights

By the afternoon we were worn out and got back home for snacks and naps, because we had a date for the evening, as well. Auntie Katie’s book store, Books with Pictures, was sponsoring a showing of the 1984 movie, “Supergirl”, at the Hollywood Theater. I had never seen it, since in 1984 I was up to my eyeballs raising your Daddy David and Auntie Katie.

It was exciting to see Katie in her element, sharing her love of comics with a theater full of people. The movie wasn’t fabulous, but it did feature three strong female characters: Supergirl, Lucy Lane (Lois’s younger sister) and the villain, Selena, played by Faye Dunaway in all her evil glory. We enjoyed the silly camp and headed home, totally worn out.

Auntie Katie presenting SuperGirl

For being retired, I am certainly not bored! As my dad always said, “If you’re not having fun, it’s your own darn fault.”

Love,

Grandma Judy

South to Clinton

Dear Liza,img_0387.jpg

With cooler weather coming on (although it is sunny today) I decided it is time to start thinking about how I’m going to keep busy when it gets too cold to go for long walks. I have started knitting, but what I really love is making quilts. So I need to find some fabric.

Hunting online for fabric shops, I found the ones I already know about, The Whole Nine Yards, which only carries upholstery and drapery fabrics, and Cool Cottons, which carries only cotton/polyester blends. I want a store where I can find heavier and lighter fabrics, cottons and blends, corduroy and sheers, all in one place. I want to be able to see all the fabrics before I buy any of them.img_0393.jpg

A bit further away I found Josephine’s Dry Goods, about a mile and a half south on Clinton Street. I dropped Auntie Bridgett at Luke’s Frame Shop and headed off.

Along the way, I saw some lovely things and made some discoveries. These beautiful red balls that I have been seeing are actually dogwood tree seeds, and there is another sweet chestnut tree at 26th and Division.

Just past the sweet chestnut tree, I smelled something delicious and realized it was lunch time, so I stopped at La Panza Cafe, It is a small New Mexican place that doesn’t look like much from the outside. I was made to feel at home by the young waiter, whose name I carelessly forgot to ask.

From their lunch menu (though you can get breakfast all day) I ordered chili verde stew with meatballs and a cold, creamy horchata to drink. Maybe it was the long walk and the warm day, but both were incredibly delicious. Jose, the chef, knows his flavors.img_0404.jpg

After that delicious meal, I continued south to Clinton Street. I found a theater, a video store, art gallery, and comic shop, but finally, Josephine’s Dry Goods, my fabric store of the day.  Josephine’s has a beautiful selection, but again, a narrow focus. They carry natural fabrics, the sort used in high-end dressmaking: silks, wools, cottons, linens. Beautiful, but not what I can use for a quilt. I drooled over the silks for a while, thanked the lady, and headed off. Cloud Comics, next door, was clean and bright, but not as nice as Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures.img_0413.jpg

The Clinton neighborhood is very pretty, filled with Victorian homes from the turn of the century and old, well tended trees. The street signs highlight the fact that Clinton Street is a Bicycle Throughway, a road that has very little car traffic. Indeed, you can ride down Clinton Street to the river and cross the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. I want to do that bike ride!img_0422.jpg

 

I continued up past Sewallcrest Park (which, according to the map, is actually Hazeltine Park) and then home. A three mile walk, a fine lunch, and new things to see…I am a happy Grandma.

But pooped!

Love,

Grandma Judy

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New, Old, and Changing

Dear Liza,

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Giant Dahlias

Here in Portland, Summer isn’t willing to give up just yet. The roses and dahlias are blooming in what looks like a joyous shout before tucking in for the colder months. Portland is known as The Rose City (since 1888, anyway) but all flowers do well here.

We are having days that start damp and grey with wet sidewalks, burst into sunshine for lunch dates, then get cloudy again by dinner. It is dramatic and beautiful.

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Coy Dahlias

Our painters are almost done with the outside of the building, so today I get to put all Momma’s geraniums back on the patio. The poor plants have been holding their collective breath for two weeks, in a foyer with not enough sunlight or fresh air.

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Geraniums in exile

The Green Rain trees in the neighborhood are putting on their big show: seeds pods! They start as small swellings on the bud, and are now these bunches of pods that rattle like maracas when you shake them…which I do, every time I go by! Hey, it’s a toy, I’m a just big kid…what do you expect?

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Green Rain Tree

Today I will walk up to Yen’s and have her cut my hair. I am feeling too shaggy and need to spruce up a bit. Also, I want to show her this photo of the ginger cutting she gave us when we were last in, about 7 weeks ago. Bridgett put the cutting in water and, after a rocky start, sprouted roots like crazy! I am sure she will be happy to see her baby doing well.

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Yen’s Ginger sprouting!

Off to make the day happen!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Cats in Portland

Dear Liza,

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Creepy hairless cat doubts our sincerity

With all the walking we do around the neighborhoods, we get to see a lot about people’s lives. We see them moving in or out, jump starting dead batteries, arguing with their children, picking the fruit in their gardens, and helping pull fallen branches from the street.

We see a lot of dogs being walked… on leashes and off, poking along behind, dashing ahead, or being wheeled in carriages. Portland is a very big dog-city. I heard that 50% of the households have one or more dogs. That’s millions of dogs!

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A Mariposo at the Symphony

I do enjoy the dogs. I love seeing the dog-joy on display when the leash is unclipped and they run at top speed, just because they can. I love how dogs are part of people’s lives wherever we go.

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Kitten showing super powers

But you know me. I am a cat person. Their joy of sleep, their short list of needs, their “yeah, you feed me, but  let’s not make a big deal about it” attitude.

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This cat, on this corner. Always.

Cats in Portland are mostly people friendly. They will saunter up to be petted, or dash over as if checking our credentials. They roll to be petted or stoically stand their ground. What they don’t do as much is run away. These are confident cats.

I enjoy their company very much.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Thanks for petting me, now go away. New people are coming!

River View Cemetery, Part 2

Dear Liza,

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Memorial to the Second Oregon Regiment

There were so many interesting things (and people) at River View Cemetery, I wanted to share some more with you. The famous people memorialized here don’t stop at founders and politicians. Important people like Henry Weinhard, one of the first and most successful brewers here in the land where we love beer, is buried surrounded by his family and whimsically remembered with a can of beer.

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Beer!

Colonel Owen Summers and his Second Oregon Regiment from the Spanish American War in the Philippines are all here. The men are buried in a circle that surrounds a statue of a soldier, the flag nearby at half-staff for the late John McCain. Colonel Summers himself is buried away from this area, with his wife and family.

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Captain Couch

Captain Couch, a sea captain who developed an entire portion of the city, is buried under an impressive, nautical themed column with chains, an anchor, and compass. Another set of “streets” buried nearby are Flanders, Glisan, and Hoyt.

You see, when Captain Couch mapped out his neighborhood in Northwest Portland, he labeled the streets by letters: A, B, C, etc. Later city planners wanted something more “romantic”, so they chose men from Portland’s history to coincide with the letters, like Ankeny, Burnside, and Couch himself. This decision now gives us a shorthand history lesson as we drive through town.  We can also see that, like today,  offspring of important people often married offspring of other important people, which we see in headstones such as “John Couch Flanders” and ” Caroline Couch Glisan”.

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Couch merges with Glisan

David Campbell, the Fire Chief who died saving his men in 1911 and who is also memorialized on West Burnside, is buried here.

Harvey Scott, who was editor of the Oregonian newspaper for many years, is here. He and I don’t see eye to eye on things, as he opposed women’s suffrage and public high schools. Interestingly, his sister, Abigail Scott Duniway,  a suffrigist and prolific author who also edited a newspaper ( The New Northwest) is buried at River View. I wasn’t able to find her memorial, but I haven’t covered even half the ground yet.img_0111.jpg

In the words of another famous dead person, “I shall return.”

Love,

Grandma Judy

Flying with the Panther

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

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Liza, running ahead

Yesterday morning, Cousin Liza and I got to have another adventure before I left Salinas to come home to Portland. We woke up early, had a quick breakfast, and got our adventure clothes on. We packed some bread, cheese and blueberries for snacks and were out of the house by 9:00.

We enjoyed looking at all the flowers that are going to seed, and talked about how flowers help plants make baby plants. Her great grandma Billie would be so proud of her! Liza can recognize lamb’s ears by their fluffy leaves, magnolias by their big white flowers and seed pods, and maples by their hand-shaped leaves and helicopter seeds.

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Saying Hello to an old friend

Once we got to Hartnell College, Liza knew exactly where we going and ran ahead of me, getting to the panther long before I did. She decided that we should ride the panther (who can fly) to Disneyland, where we would attend a Disney character party, in costume. We got into costume, had manicures, and put on make up.

Liza was Ariel, I was Moana’s Grandma, and the panther was Raja, Princess Jasmine’s pet tiger. We flew on the panther to the airport, where we got on separate planes (not sure why). We performed at a ‘show’ by the student union, where we snacked, saw a squirrel, and fed the birds.

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Giving the panther a manicure

Then we headed across Central Avenue to Central Park. Liza loves to climb and do things that scare her a little bit, knowing that most things are only scary at first. She is always careful to pay attention to where she puts her feet.

I hated to see the morning getting away from us, but soon it was time to head back to her house. On the way, we ran into Irene, a dear lady who worked at Beverly’s Fabrics until it closed last year. We had a hug and a chat and went our ways.

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Liza the Brave

After Liza and I played with a picture puzzle that your mommy Katie used to play with, it was time for Liza and her mommy Olga to take me to the bus stop so I could head home. She told me “Spakoini Notchi” and “Paka” which mean ‘good night’ and ‘goodbye’ in Russian. I am glad that since she has gotten back from her trip to Russia to visit her other grandparents, she is speaking a lot more in Russian. That language and culture is a gift from her family and she should treasure it.

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200 piece puzzle

After an hour on the bus and two on a plane, I got home to my city and my people. We stopped for dinner at a new place called Perlot, on NW Fremont, which was tasty, delightful, and musical! We had delicious food, good wine, and listened to jazz by local musicians. What a treat!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Three Hundred!!

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Family

Dear Liza,

I started writing this blog as a way to stay in touch with you and my friends in Salinas after I moved up to Portland. I thought I would write a little, get bored, and quit….like I usually do.

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Fall
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Summer

But Portland is such an interesting place that I keep finding things to write about. Today, as a matter of fact, is my 300th post. Three hundred adventures. Three hundred stories.

Portland is a big city, and has big city problems, like anywhere. The housing costs are high and homeless people struggle to get by. Trash and noise can be a nuisance. And if you are driving, there will eventually be traffic that frustrates you.

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Spring

But there are also kind people and missions that help the homeless folks. Groups adopt neighborhoods to pick up trash. And transit is good enough that if you don’t want to drive, you don’t have to.

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Art

And the benefits of this lovely city are enormous. Art. Music. Parks. Art and music in parks! Food and drink and coffee and pastries.

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Winter

And the reason I can enjoy all of this is because I am not working. Working, besides being…well, work, takes up an enormous amount of time. Days and days of NOT getting to walk at random and stop when you feel like it. Evenings of being so tired you can’t even think of an adventure.

Being at liberty is such a joy and privilege that sometimes I feel like I’m cheating.

But maybe if I share it with you I can share some of the joy, and feel less selfish.

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You never know who you’ll meet at Lone Fir Cemetery

Love,

Grandma Judy