Flower Bomb’s New Digs

Dear Liza,

Sandwich Board for new place!

Here in Portland, we have a lot of stores that sell their goods out of trucks or trailers. That’s because property is very expensive, and a new business can start easier by renting a spot in a parking lot rather than a whole building.

Old digs ( Photo by Danger Garden)

For example, one of our favorite places to eat is cluster of food trucks on 28th Street near Burnside, and Auntie Katie has her first food truck, La Sabrosita, in her parking lot at Books with Pictures.

Solara, happy owner and plant lover

But I am writing this to tell you about a Flower truck that has now become a flower shop. Flower Bomb was a truck parked in the lot at SE 28th and Stark. Solara Schoeffler, the owner, had a smallish truck, an awning, and a rented garage across the street to keep her extra flowers in. We would see her out most mornings, pulling wagon loads of flowers across the street in the cold, rain, and heat. It had to be hard, but she was determined.

The flowers are calling us in!

This past Friday, after I left the First Friday party at SideStreet Arts, I got to walk into Solara’s new building, at SE 29th and Stark. It is wonderful. The large windows will let in plenty of sunlight, and the high ceilings allow for Benjamin ficus and fig trees to reach their potential.

High ceilings

“Look!” She said, sweeping her arms around in delight. “I have a roof! I have a door! I have HEAT!” Friends had come by to help celebrate, serving delicious mango-orange juice ‘mocktails’ , pizza and sweet treats.

Great ceramics

Stark Street Studios decorated the shelves with surprising art and customers walked out with summer in their arms despite the chilly rain.

Arms full of summer

I am so happy to see new businesses doing well in the neighborhood!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Chinese New Year Downtown

Dear Liza,

Yesterday I was heading downtown to meet a friend at the Art Museum, and I got distracted by drums! I crossed the street to the Oregon Historical Society where about a hundred people were gathering.

Coming down the street were a couple hundred more, lead by a hundred foot long Chinese dragon! Then came smaller dragons of blue and yellow, even black! It was delightful and amazing.

The line of dragons and folks paraded up the ramp to the Jin and Julieanne Park Plaza in front of the Oregon Historical Society and did a rousing dance. The thumping drums were so big they had to be pulled in a wagon. People kept surging up the ramp, with people shimmying into gaps in the crowd to be able to watch, until we were all shoulder to shoulder.

People were dancing along, taking pictures, and boosting children onto their shoulders. When all the dragons had taken their turn, bowed their bows, and the last drum had thumped, the dancers removed their dragon heads and chatted with the crowd. The dragons, which had danced so fiercely, now seemed to be big fluffy muppets. They even let some kids touch their delicate trim.

The Lunar New Year Parade was presented by the Chinatown Museum and the Oregon Historical Society, and they had paraded from the one to the other, and I had known nothing about it. I felt so lucky to have been in the right place to see the grand finale!

It’s good to live in such an interesting city.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Long Walk to Bipartisanship

Dear Liza,

Mt. Tabor in the clouds…

As you may know, there is a trial going on in the Senate to decide whether President Trump should be removed from his office. The Democrats have argued that using the influence of the most powerful position in the world to force a weaker country to do your political bidding is wrong. The Republicans disagree.

There are a lot of negative feelings about it. We worry about how our country is seen in the world and how this may change how we are governed. Grandpa Nelson decided that the remedy for this worry was a nice, long walk to The Bipartisan Cafe. There was a solid rain coming down, but no wind, and about 50 degrees…. pleasant for this time of year. So I said, “Sure!”

We walked East on Belmont, past lovely old house that is being restored, and up onto the shoulder of Mt. Tabor.

I was thinking about how homeowners living here must battle to keep their houses secure against the elements when I saw this, a garage that is almost completely hidden by ivy. I guess sometimes, the battle is lost.

Lost garage!

Further up the hill, we found this delightful mosaic covered tiny library! The roof, glass door and tile exterior make it beautiful and weather proof. It was a joy to see.

Little library…

When we had worked up a bit of a sweat inside our coats, we reached to top of Belmont Street. There was the paved road down, or an “unimproved road”… guess which we took?

unimproved road… nice!

Yep. It was a bit muddy, but delightfully rustic. Tall trees and shrubs leaned over picnic tables and little yards. This would be heaven in the summer.

We headed down the East face of the Mountain into the quaint neighborhood of Montavilla. It used to be called “Mount Tabor Village”, but the name was too long to fit on the streetcars. They shortened it, and the name stuck.

Gnomes!

Enjoying the window displays (gnomes!), we finally arrived at our destination, three miles from home. We were damp but victorious. And there was pie!

Inside the Bipartisan Cafe… photo by Bridgett Spicer

The Bipartisan Cafe is decorated with old political posters, from John Tyler’s presidential run to John Kennedy’s campaign in the 1960s. It is funky, comfy, delicious, and feels very much like home. It was busy, but we were able to find a small couch all to ourselves, and enjoyed tea and pie.

As we sat there, we realized that our feet were chilly, that it was still raining, and that it was another three miles back home.

Waiting for the Magic 15

We are adventurous, not foolish! We took the bus.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Remembering

Dear Liza,

I am feeling better! Yesterday evening I walked around the block, did laundry, and even took the trash out. I will live!

Two years ago today

Feeling so good, I will spend today making soup for Auntie Bridgett (who isn’t well yet), walking to do some errands and working on the story. But this morning, I was wondering what I was doing two years ago today. Do you remember?

I was packing up to come down to Salinas, to live with you for my last few months of teaching. That was the strangest thing…. leaving my home here in Portland to live in your home there, going back to a job I’d done for almost thirty years… Getting to see you every afternoon but having to work every day… such an odd combination of new and old, normal and weird.

Adventures with the Panther

And now I am retired, not getting up at six o’clock to teach until three and work until four; snacking when I want, reading what I want, walking where I want. I feel very spoiled.

And, except for missing my adventures with you, I’m okay with that.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Cousins in Town

Dear Liza,

Cousins Paul and Candace

Well, it sure has been a holiday full of family!

This past weekend, after Auntie Christy and Cousin Kyle left for home, we got a call from Grandpa Nelson’s Cousin Paul and his wife, Candace. They were in town to visit friends, and wanted to meet us for a Portland breakfast and see Auntie Katie’s bookshop, Books with Pictures.

Me, Auntie Katie, Grandpa Nelson, and Paul in the shop

We met them at Pine State Biscuits down on Division Street, just a few blocks from Auntie Katie’s place. I’ve eaten their biscuits before, with jam, and wanted to try their gravy, as well. They were delicious!

I was so busy eating that I forgot to take pictures.

Auntie Katie came by to eat with us and catch up on family news before heading off to open the shop at 10:00. We followed along, and spent a fun hour looking at books and visiting on the comfy couch in the shop.

When we had talked ourselves out, they headed off and we headed for home. What a lovely morning.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Looking Back, Just a Bit More…

Dear Liza,

Portland does SPRING very well!

This past year saw some big adventures, too.

Three generations! Me, Auntie Katie and Cousin Kestrel

In March, for my birthday, you and your family came up to help me keep a long-overdue promise to MY parents, to put their ashes into the ocean. We all drove over the mountains to Seaside, made a sand castle, and placed them in it. High tide would take them where they wanted to be.

David and Katie built their grandparent’s castle

A perfect Florentine

I started baking with more skill, with new equipment and confidence.

The summer came, and fall…

Leaves in Laurelhurst Park

In September we took the train to Vancouver, BC, and Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed what those cities had to offer.

Vancouver, BC, by day

Seattle by night

Auntie Bridgett kept painting, working hard as a member of SideStreet Arts.

Auntie Bridgett and one of my favorite paintings, A Paris

This year also saw the young people growing into wonderful ‘older’ people. Cousins Kyle and Jasper got to know each other and became buddies, bonding over Dungeons and Dragons and video games.

Cousins Kyle and Jasper, being guys together

As for me, I am still working on my story. It has grown from being a story about a CITY to being a story about a girl living IN a city.

My had drawn map of Portland, 1903

I never knew writing a book was so complicated, but I am learning, and I think that as long as I take time and don’t give up, it has promise.

My (at least) twelfth outline, getting more complicated and person- centered

Last year, I kept my promise to my parents. Maybe this year, I can keep my promise to me.

Happy New Year!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Big Changes This Year

Dear Liza,

I have spent way too long looking at pictures from this year, and am using this letter to you to put things in perspective.

We started the year with snow.

Chilly Gnome

Auntie Katie, the Cousins and I walked to Slappy Cakes to celebrate her birthday, getting all bundled up against the February cold.

Birthday girl and Kestrel at Slappy Cakes

Just about a week later, we were celebrating Katie’s purchase of the building that would be the new home of Books With Pictures, her bookshop.

Meeting the new shop in February…
Less than 11 months later, in full retail mode for Christmas!

The building would also be the family’s new home, and they started off with celebrations, knowing there would be lots of work to do.

and the new home!

Before the summer was over, the Cousins were moved in and making the place into a home.

Cousin Kestrel’s art corner

Another change this year is in the health of my dear Aunt Bea. At Easter, we visited her in a hospital in Corvallis. She was recovering from a fall and feeling very… old.

Aunt Bea, a bit worn down

But by the time we visited her in September, she had moved to Bend and had been reunited with her dear Kitty Cat, and was feeling all spunky and fun again. Momma always said, “Bea doesn’t leave a party…she takes the party with her.”

Me and Bea, feeling like getting into mischief

I will tell you more about the year tomorrow, as I continue getting ready for the New Year!

Love,

Grandma Judy