Dear Liza,

Tulips, celebrating Springtime

This week is Passover, when we usually have a dinner with family to celebrate being together after all the hard times Jewish people have been through. This year we are staying apart and remembering, instead.

But the day started with little things. Dear Auntie Bridgett trimmed my hair, and Grandpa Nelson’s, because we were getting very shaggy. She has a good eye and did a nice job!

A new artist in the neighborhood!

Then I finished the masks I promised to friends in Salinas and we all walked to the Postal Annex to send them off. We are getting used to putting on masks every time we leave the house, though I will be glad when they are no longer needed. They steam up my glasses! Still, it was an incredibly beautiful Spring day, and the art and flowers were blooming.

Back home, we sat out on the balcony to rest and read, listening to conversations of dog walkers and folks going out for some take out pizza. We walked down to Rendezvous off Belmont to pick up some take out Manti and Poke…both yummy, even without Nour’s good company and ambiance.

Rendezvous, when we could sit inside

Auntie Katie texted us to arrange a Seder via Skype. She would do her two hours of deliveries from Books with Pictures while the lamb cooked in the slow cooker, then give us a call. We set up candles, wine, and matzoh on the table, along with Grandpa Nelson’s laptop computer.

Second night Seder… long distance style

It worked! We were all able to see and hear each other, read the same Haggadah, and enjoy being silly with each other. We even got to watch the cousins hunt for and find the Afikomen, and negotiate for its return. Their price? A pillow fight! It was clearly time to end the Skype and let the feathers fly … over there.

Dinner with the family!

Having to stay separate to stay safe is weird. It feels like the usual reaction to stress is to huddle together with all your people, but here we are, miles apart on purpose. But different problems call for different solutions, I guess.

Auntie Katie, realizing she has just agreed to a pillow fight

Hag Sameach!

Grandma Judy

Harder than I thought

Dear Liza,

The shut down because of Covid-19 is now in its third week here in Portland. It is starting to get me down a little.

Drippy, empty, rush hour

The last time I sat down with anyone besides Auntie Bridgett or Grandpa Nelson was March 11, when I had a cup of Golden Fire tea with dear Misha Moon at the Rocking Frog. Now, with the extra time imposed on us, we have both finished drafts of our stories that we were talking about.

That same day I met a good soul named Roger, and we exchanged stories of our childhoods in Southern California. His had a stepdad who was a building inspector in Watts, not far from where we lived for a while in Bellflower.

Our local hangout, closed up tight

Grandpa Nelson and I had lunch at McMenamin’s Barley Mill the next day, just before they closed up shop for the duration.

These are the sort of chance meetings and conversations that I have taken for granted, and now, for a while at least, they are over. I miss my species.

Mouse enjoys some inter species time with Luna

We eat, chat, read and write, here in our pleasant little house. There is enough room that we can be alone when we need to be, and we have games and movies and food, and even enough toilet paper. There is nothing really wrong, as long as we stay inside and away from people.

And yet, there it is…

So, I heave a big sigh and tell myself to get over it, and decide what to do today.


Grandma Judy

Small Business Woes

Dear Liza,

One of the reasons we bought the house we did, here in the Southeast part of Portland, is because of the neighborhood. It is a nice mix of Victorian style homes and newer houses, full of big trees and rhododendron bushes, and just a few blocks away from fabulous Laurelhurst Park.

It is also close to dozens of bars, restaurants, and cool shops, and even a Korean grocery store. We love being able to walk less than a block for milk or eggs at H Mart.

But it is the little restaurants and the people who run them that make our Friday nights special. Pulled pork, shrimp with grits, a glass of wine while hanging with David at at the Hobnob. Watching scifi movies and having dessert with Mitch at The Nerd Out. Street tacos and chatting with Gilly at Ankeny Tap and Table. Making our own birthday pancakes at SlappyCakes. You know, the good times.

And it is exactly these small restaurants that are suffering during the shut down mandated by the corona virus. Keeping everyone safe and distant means the dining rooms have to close, and there just isn’t enough take-out business.

The only businesses close by that are doing well are H Mart and the smaller convenience stores like Plaid Pantry and Belmont Market, and pizza places like Baby Doll and Straight From New York Pizza, who are doing take out and even free delivery.

I am worried about a lot of things, lately. Staying healthy, and keeping Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson well. What this virus’s stay in our country will cost in jobs and retirement investments. Whether our Federal government, which doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on things, is going to make things better instead of worse.

But I am also worried about the survival of the small businesses that make our neighborhood special.


Grandma Judy

Happy Birthday to Me

Dear Liza,

In house decorations

I turned 64 last week, just a week or so after the self-quarantine-ing became a big thing. We three walked to Whole Foods, on Burnside, who are limiting the number of people in the store at one time to reduce crowding. We got birthday dinner fixings, and then stopped by Vino for a wonderful French red to keep us company.

My florist…

Auntie Bridgett even got flowers, and we walked home to read, write, do art, practice French, and wait for dinner.

We prettied things up, of course, because, you know, BIRTHDAY! It was fun getting out serving pieces that were gifts from family and friends, and thinking about the folks who weren’t with us.

My grocery delivery guy….

After dinner we walked through Laurelhurst Park, very aware that any day now, Mayor Wheeler and Governor Brown are going to put out the shelter-in-place order. We enjoyed the frisbee dogs, rhododendron blooms, and ducks. We even got a Unipiper ride by! He was playing The Superman Theme Song…very heroic.

The miraculous Unipiper

I’m sure I will find things to write about in the coming weeks, as the city shuts down. My brain has always been my best friend and has lots of interesting things to say.


Grandma Judy