A Song for Fun

Dear Liza,


Your Mommy or Daddy can teach you the tune for this silly re-write. The Song is called “My Favorite Things.”

(Read the captions!)

First Verse:

And artists









And baseball with Pickles


Beaches with grandchildren, giggles and tickles
Kittens in fl’wer pots


And wrecks by the sea









These are the things Portland’s given to me!

Second Verse:


Art found on sidewalks and up on a tower
Hearing the voices of love’s greatest power







Old friends and new friends







And pinball for fun

All of these just since the summer’s begun!



Ghosts and mystery!


Creepy History!
Yummy food and wine….




I’m up to my eyeballs in Portland, my friends,


And I want to say…
It’s fine!


Grandma Judy







Baseball on the Fourth

Dear Liza,

The First Pitch, Courtesy of Miss Oregon

For the Fourth of July, Grandpa Nelson, Auntie Bridgett and I went to Lents Park, in the far southeast part of the city, to watch some baseball. Portland doesn’t have any professional teams, so these were teams made up of young men from colleges from all over the west. We watched the Portland Pickles play against the Gresham Grey Wolves.The weather was very warm, with interesting grey clouds.


Lents Park has tennis and basketball courts and baseball and soccer fields. There are a few Little League baseball fields, as well as the main field, which holds 1,500 people. Before the game we got to see the new Miss Oregon throw out the first pitch, and another young lady sing a lovely version of the National Anthem. There was also a goodly amount of country music. It felt a hundred miles away from hipster downtown Portland, instead of only five.

During the game, it was fun watching all the people. The grownups were trying to stay cool and eating every piece of fried food they could lay their hands on. The kids were walking around and around the stadium, eating gallons of snow cones.

The teams played well, and it was interesting to see young men from Hermosa Beach, California (where Grandpa Nelson lived when I met him) playing against kids from Eugene, where I was going to college when your daddy was born. The starting pitcher for the Pickles is a student at Cal State Monterey Bay, right close to you!

Dillon, the dill pickle mascot of the Portland Pickles, came out and visited with the crowd. Kids gave him high fives and he stood for dozens of pictures, though it must have been over a hundred degrees in his heavy costume. If you will excuse the pun, he is a bit of a ham.

Dillon the Pickle Mascot

Since there was going to be a double header (that means two games in one day) , each one was going to be short, just seven innings instead of nine. That was okay with us, really. The Pickles were not playing well and we lost, 3-1, to the Grey Wolves. It was hot, we were tired, and ready for a lay-down before fireworks this evening.

After we got home and rested, the clouds came in heavier and it actually rained! So much for fireworks! We played Scrabble, which Bridgett won in a landslide, and watch “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with James Cagney.

Grandpa Nelson and Dillon, Chillin’

I hope you and the family had a wonderful Fourth of July!


Grandma Judy



Murals, Ghosts and History

Dear Liza,

The other day Auntie Bridget and I passed the completed murals at Belmont and 33rd. We had seen them worked on all summer and fall. There are ten panels. This is what my favorite one looked like, months ago:

As we looked, we realized they were all images specific to our neighborhood of Sunnyside. There is the trolley car that brought residents here from downtown in the 1890s. There is the community garden…. and is that The Pied Cow?

Let me explain. The Pied Cow is a quirky coffeehouse located in a distinctive old house on Belmont Avenue. There is always this black Cadillac parked out front. It has a Haunted Mansion feel….spooky, but in a friendly, benevolently ghosty sort of way.

And that house is in the mural, with a lady ghost hovering above it. Hmmmmmm. The mural also shows another old house just around the corner, an equally distinctive structure, with bats coming out of it. Hmmmm again.

We walked and stared and took pictures. Then we went home and researched. There are indeed stories of the J.C. Havely House, which now houses the Pied Cow, being haunted by a benevolent ghost called Aunt Lydia. We can’t nail down WHOSE Aunt Lydia was, though. Mr. Havely, the railroad tycoon who built the house in 1893? A more recent resident? The answers are vague.

We spent a good deal of time reading and learning, then went and did stuff that needed doing. Auntie Bridgett did some collages and I continued organizing my office.

When dinnertime came, we knew we would go to the Pied Cow and see what we could learn. As we were walking around the block, we passed a young lady walking an extremely old dog. While we were sitting at our table in the yard, Bridgett looked up and saw this same young lady on the balcony on the restaurant, watering potted plants.

“Is that dog the one in the window, in the mural?” She asked. Phone, photo, check. Yes! It is! So the mural not only shows the house’s history, but its present! I am impressed. Intrigued. And I want to know more.

Why is the other house, a Queen Anne style built in the same year by Thaddeus Fisher, included in the mural? Is it also haunted? It is shown with bats coming out… did someone have bats in their belfry? Hmmmmm again.

The Belmont Murals, painted by Mado Hues in cooperation with the Portland Street Art Association, show a remarkable visual language. They answer questions you didn’t know you were asking and make you want to know more. That, in my opinion, is what art is supposed to do.

I love Portland!


Grandma Judy

Passover Easter Moving Craziness

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,After a week of moving box after box of dishes, pots and pans to the new house, some nice strong fellows from West Coast Piano Movers came and carried our heaviest and oldest belonging down eight steps, into their truck, then up two flights of stairs to our new living room. They were very good sports about it, but man, is that thing heavy! It was a wedding present to Grandpa Nelson and me forty four years ago and has been following us around ever since. It was nice to sit down and bang out some Carole King in the new place.

On Saturday, our newly ordered dishes came in, but were not nearly the quality we wanted and one even had a chip. So a trip to the most depressing mall in Portland, called Mall 205, was in order to return them without paying a shipping fee. Finding nothing even close to what we wanted, we found ourselves on a wild goose chase to the Washington Square Mall in the south west. Washington Square is all posh, all glitz. There is a Tesla dealership with cars gleaming like jewelry. There are Williams Sonoma, Macy’s, AND Pottery Barn. There are at least two stores that just sell make up. It was retail overload.

And because it was nearly noon and I was hungry, I freaked out a bit. I have only had a few anxiety attacks in my life, but malls are a definite trigger. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett knew I needed to eat, so we went to the nearest restaurant, the Cheesecake Factory. In my hungry, panicky state it looked like Cesar’s Palace, a den of noisy overindulgence. But there was food and water and I felt better. We went back to Willams Sonoma, picked up the dishes, and headed home. Exhausted but victorious, we had a well deserved sit down.The object of our quest

Of course, this was also Easter and Passover weekend. We celebrated Passover Saturday night with leftovers from the Cheesecake Factory and a bottle of Don Chapin’s wine that we have been holding onto. Grandpa Nelson had his first taste of matzoh for the year and a blissful look settled into his face. We lit a mismatched pair of candles and blessed everything in sight.

And Sunday was Easter! I woke up early, cleared packing stuff off the table, and snipped some camellias from the bush outside. Auntie Bridgett, who usually does such a lovely job decorating, was not able to this year, but that’s no reason it shouldn’t be pretty. After a nice morning spent feeling blessed and happy, Auntie Bridgett listened to a live streaming of the church service from Twin Lakes Church in Aptos instead of going to a new church here. She will find a local church, I am sure…but not right now.

And of course, the flamingos celebrated in their yard. I head back to Salinas today and will miss Portland until June. See you then, kidlets.


Grandma Judy

To the Coast …and back again!

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

As you can see, I am posting even without my big computer! Clever Auntie Bridgett taught me how to upload photos with my iPad! What would I do without my wonderful people?

After sightseeing to the north of Tillamook on Saturday, on Sunday we headed south! First we all had breakfast in our tiny house at Sheltered Nook, took Bridgett to the “Ice Hangar” at the Tillamook Air Museum, and headed towards Lincoln City.

The day was much sunnier than the day before, but still cold enough that we needed coats and hats. The views from the cliffs were spectacular, and it seemed we were living inside every postcard of the Oregon Coast. Since highway 101 also runs a bit inland, we got to see the forest as it was waking up from winter. Huge meadows had become daffodil farms and were blooming in yellow and white stripes. Bare birch trees arching over the road promised a green tunnel when they leaf of in a week or so.

food today was a mixed bag. The pastries at My Petite Sweet in Lincoln City were wonderful, but at The Dory, just north of town, we got burnt, limp french fries and and over-sized, over dressed “chicken wrap” that was almost inedible.

When it was time to leave to ocean, we stood for a while and just stared. The lacy skirts of the Pacific Ocean ruffled along the beaches, as though the grand lady Pacifica were gently perched on the Hawaiian Islands, her majestic blue skirts flowing around her.

Back in Tillamook, Nelson decided he wanted some decent food. We stopped at the Dutch Mill Diner, which was a 50’s style diner in all the best ways. The black and white checkered floor tiles and red leather bar stools were visually satisfying. The music of my childhood sang out about how hard it was to be a teenager in love. And the whole place was run by extended family members. Youngest cousin Elijah made the wonderful milkshakes and his mentor cousin, whose name I didn’t catch, was our waitress. It was a delightful stop before we went to fetch Bridgett from the Comic Con and head back to Portland.

Back at our rental home, we had a simple dinner (I got to cook!) and slept. Tomorrow we work!!

And we did. We started pulling kitchen stuff from the many unpacked boxes so I could set up the kitchen like I want it before I head back to Salinas. It is a smaller kitchen so we are needing to be more selective. I think maybe our fourth and fifth cutting boards and five pounds of plastic containers may have to go by the wayside….but it is a small price to pay for such a nice place IN such a nice place. We made a lot of trips up and down all. Those. Stairs.

After dinner, we realized we were done for the day. We left boxes half packed and got into pajamas, and watched a documentary on people who raise chickens for shows. These were delightfully odd folks who dedicate their lives to breeding, raising, endlessly washing and showing their fancy breed chickens, such as silver lace Wyandottes and feather-leg Brahmas.

A wonderfully irrelevant way to drift off to sleep.


Grandma Judy

To the Coast

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

I am back in Portland! I flew in Friday after Uncle David fed me a tasty dinner at Nemea Greek restaurant in San Jose and dropped me at the airport. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett hugged me as soon as I got off the plane and didn’t stop until we got to our NEW house! It was my first time in it, but it felt like home. It has three floors, with the garage and an office on the bottom, living, dining, kitchen and a bathroom on the second, and two bedrooms and a bath upstairs. The painters have come and gone, making major improvements and one mistake, which Auntie Bridgett will tell them about today. (Oops. Sorry painters, she’s gonna go all artsy on ya.)

Back in our rental, which has been home for eight months, we slept soundly and woke up early to head for the Oregon Coast Comic Con in Tillamook. We met Jack Kent and his wife Verity at Coco’s Doughnuts on the west side and then caravanned over the hills to the coast. At 2,000 feet, there was snow!!! Real snow, piled up by the road, carpeting the forest, decorating the trees, looking more like a Christmas card than Easter week. It even snowed on us, a bit.

Once we were out of the mountains, the snow turned to rain and the rich dairyland of Tillamook spread out green and wet all around us. We drove to the Tillamook Air Museum, which is in a blimp hangar from World War II, the largest wooden structure in the United States. Impressive from the outside, it was cavernous, dark and COLD inside. Artists were setting up their tables still bundled up for the 39 degree outside temperature. Grandpa Nelson and I helped Auntie Bridgett set up, then headed off to see what we could see.

Tucked into our nice warm car (with heated seats!) we drove up the Oregon Coast on Highway 101. Wonderfully wet views of the forest and the ocean ruled the day. I got out for a few short excursions, but 35 degree rain isn’t conducive to strolling along the beach. I had my third breakfast (I have Hobbit ancestry, I believe) at The Pirate’s Cove in Garibaldi. Breaded and fried Clams and eggs, made with local clams AND local eggs! Yummy!

We reached lovely Cannon Beach, bundled up, and walked along the main drag. It is cute and, in Summer, full of families having summer fun with ice cream, beach toys and sun screen. Today, everyone was after fleece jackets and hot tea. We stopped at Tom’s Classic burgers to get Grandpa Nelson some french fries. We will return another time to browse the shops selling recycled driftwood and other flotsam, shops with names like “Washed Ashore” and “Found”, with the “U” made from a rusty horse shoe.

Driving back south, we found our reserved lodging for the night, one of a collection of tiny houses called Sheltered Cove. We had reserved one for us, and Jack and Verity had one for themselves across the way. Our hosts, Hank and Dee, checked us in along with their friendly and protective standard poodles, Mook and Red. The house was adorable! Not more than 500 square feet, it had a living, kitchen, bathroom and queen sized bed downstairs, and two queen sized beds in a loft upstairs. It felt light and airy, not cramped at all, and had plenty of room for us and our stuff.

When the Comic Con closed for the day at 5:00, a nearly frozen Bridgett hitched a ride home with Jack and Verity, and we got her tea and warm socks until it was time to go to the Pacific Restaurant. The food was great but the service a bit slow, and our view was of the heavy equipment involved in major street repair downtown. But Jack and Verity always make for lively conversation!

Back in our sheltered no, we slept like rocks. More adventures tomorrow!

Love, Grandma Judy

Getting Ready!

Dear Liza,

Well, we are almost there. Grandpa Nelson and I fly down to see you and our old neighborhood in Salinas TOMORROW! The day after that I meet my new students and have a staff meeting, just like a real teacher. Oh, my.

full suitcase.jpg
My stuff

But first things first. I spent yesterday packing up all the stuff I will need in my six months with you. Clothes, books, everything. It seems like a lot! And of course, my teaching hat.

Auntie Katie and Grandpa Nelson

We spent yesterday evening with Auntie Katie and the cousins. We had so much fun! We cooked and ate, talked about music (I didn’t know Dave Bowie did duets with Freddie Mercury) and danced.

Of course, there was considerable silliness, as well.

Teaching Jasper…something silly, no doubt


We helped Auntie Katie move a big, heavy couch down her long, skinny stairs, which was like putting roller skates on a whale, but it all worked out, with only a few bruises.

See you tomorrow!


Grandma Judy