Bridgett’s Birthday!

Dear Liza,

img_0309.jpg
Prezzies!

Monday was Auntie Bridgett’s birthday! The day started late, because Mouse the kitten actually let us sleep in. She usually starts dashing about like a maniac at 7:00, but this morning she was peacefully sitting on the bed until almost 8:30! Sweet kitty.

Our second lovely surprise was that it rained last night, our first measurable rain in 83 days! The clouds hung around for the rest of the day, spitting off and on. Very nice and Portland-Ish.

img_0304.jpg
The Open sign at the Cricket Cafe

Once we were all up and dressed, we walked to a place just a block away that we have been meaning to try, The Cricket Cafe. On weekends it is packed with brunchers, but Monday morning we had it all to ourselves. The biscuits and gravy were good and Auntie Bridgett loved her scrambled eggs, sausage, and fruit. The coffee was wonderfully rich and just the jolt we needed to get on with a big day. It is nice having so many delicious places so close by!

img_0305.jpg
Yummy!

We walked back home, where I made my first flan. Bridgett has been dealing with some sort of food allergy, so she is staying away from anything made with flour. Flan is just milk, cream, sugar and eggs! She also opened presents….earrings, sketchbooks, an IOU for our next trip to Europe from Grandpa Nelson, and an Annalee Birthday Mouse from Bridgett’s Grandma Bea. It is weirdly adorable.

Around 11 we caught the #15 downtown for shopping. As part of her present, Bridgett got some new clothes at the Gap. We had lunch at Kenny and Zuke’s delicatessen, which was very busy because today is Rosh Hashanna, the Jewish New Year. We ate, watched the passers by and recharged our batteries.

img_0318-1.jpg
Inside Dick Blick’s

A few blocks up the road we went into Dick Blick’s Art Supplies. New colored pencils for Bridgett, lots of fun looking at things for Grandpa Nelson and me. I really enjoy their wooden floor, which is made out of recycled basketball courts. Powell’s City of Books was next, where we had a fun time looking but didn’t buy anything except a shortbread cookie. Yummy, anyway.

img_03221.jpg
Cool skies!

Finally, under threatening skies, we headed back to catch the bus, got home, and rested our weary feet before starting dinner.

Dinner, as it turns out, was leftovers from yesterday’s potluck (baked beans with fruit salad) but the flan I made really turned out well. Creamy and not too sweet, I served it with berries and kiwis. And one candle, because Auntie Bridgett is ONE year older.

getfileattachment-43.jpg
Birthday Flan!

A walk through the park, a Scrabble game (not over yet) and a Facetime visit with  Bridgett’s sister Esther and the kids made the day complete!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Rainy Saturday!!

Dear Liza,

IMG_9367.jpg
Bridgett is always prepared

It has been so hot here, and yesterday we had a break…it clouded over, the wind blew, and it rained! Well, enough to make everything smell wonderful and the trees glisten.

In the morning, Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to The Music Millennium for their customer appreciation BBQ. It was so delightful. There were free, and very delicious, hot dogs (from The Dog House, on Division Street), potato salad, Voodoo Doughnuts, and soft drinks. The chefs were friendly and funny. There was a “wacky wheel” that you could spin to win things. Auntie Bridgett won a Bob Marley CD and I got a beer cozy.

IMG_9371.jpg
The chefs

We enjoyed visiting with people and then went inside to do some shopping. I have never seen the shop so crowded! We found a new jazz cd, two DVDs (Sneakers and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) that we had on VHS until they died, and a CD of the original Broadway cast of Fiddler on the Roof. Score!!

We walked home through the park because it was so nice and wet…everything smelled like life and growth and joy.

During the afternoon we worked on stories and art, and cleaning up for Grandpa Nelson who had been visiting YOU! In the evening, while it was still looking like rain, we packed a picnic and walked to Laurelhurst for the annual end of summer Symphony Concert. A group called the Three Legged Torso, a Klezmer group, played with them, and it was delightfully informal, fun, and Portlandish.

IMG_9381.jpg
Happy Crowd
IMG_9383.jpg
It’s just water, but she sure was fun to watch!!

Grandpa Nelson arrived in time for the concert and we enjoyed people watching, cookies, chicken, and wine. The final number was Stars and Stripes Forever, conducted by a lady who had never conducted anything before…fortunately, the symphony knew what to do.

What a nice, rain-ish day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

Looking Back

 

Dear Liza,

It is a new year, and I am looking forward to some more big changes. I will be coming to Salinas to stay with you for a few months while I teach, and my life here in Portland will be put on hold. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett will stay here and take care of Mouse the kitten, the houseplants, and their jobs…but we won’t be together. This will be weird, and sometimes sad.

Before looking forward, though, I want to look back on the crazy trip that got me here and what I love about Portland.

IMG_1410.jpg
Auntie Katie and Cousin Kestrel

During the hot Summer, we learned about getting around on air-conditioned buses and trains. We got to visit our new favorite Laurelhurst Park with Auntie Katie and the cousins. We even walked to the Willamette River and put our feet in!

IMG_2099.jpg
View from under the Hawthorne Bridge

It was fun getting to show you all the things in our new city, like the zoo.

IMG_2539.jpg
Being a Squirrel

 

The biggest thing that we learned about is the weather. It rains a lot here, and we are getting used to asking Google if we should take an umbrella. It even snows! This takes getting used to, but is such a nice change from highs of 70 and lows of 50 that I don’t mind.

IMG_1432.jpg
Snow on the back steps

 

I have fallen in love with the theater and art here in Portland. Theaters are made from old churches, warehouses, and even set up in parks. Art and music are everywhere.

IMG_2591.jpg
Young violinist on SW Salmon and Park

People playing music, reciting and writing poetry on street corners just isn’t something we saw in Salinas, and it is a real treat.

And of course, the history! I have been studying about Portland’s past…it’s buildings, trolley cars, and people. It is just about as old as Salinas, but since it is a bigger city, it has more stories.

IMG_0749.jpg
I am still trying to find out who this young lady was

There is so much I love about Portland. I will miss it, and then return in June to re-discover my new city all over again.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy

Thunder, Lightning, and a Turntable!

Dear Liza,

Wednesday was a quiet, stay in and do some writing  sort of day. I spread out my books of old photographs of Portland, the timelines I have made for the city and my character,  some maps of what was in Downtown Portland in 1888, and started to write my story. I wrote all morning.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-22.jpg
Yes, it really looks like this….

After lunch, I settled back down at the computer, and it the lights went out. The lights went out OUTSIDE. Big black clouds had whooshed in and covered the sun so quickly it was like flipping a switch. I dashed downstairs and Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson had noticed it, too. “Thunder and lightning predicted for this afternoon,” said Grandpa Nelson.

It was hard to get focused back on the writing, so I watched out the window. Rain started as quickly as the sun had disappeared, and our gutters became rivers 3 feet wide. An unfortunate UPS delivery guy was getting soaked bringing boxes to us and the new folks across the way.

In our box was…. a new turntable! It replaces the one Grandpa Nelson bought 30 years ago, which we had donated to The Salvation Army before we moved up here. During the downpour, we read the directions, assembled the bits, moved some electronics, and got the thing ready to play.

I chose The Second Muppet Show Album, which was perfectly silly and happy, and as it was playing, thunder rumbled and lightning lit up the sky. The house shook and the sky flashed! We hugged and sort of held onto each other for a moment, then felt better and started laughing. It is impossible to be very scared when the Muppets are singing and the people you love are nearby.

After we got to feeling normal again and the rain settled down to a good solid pour, I got some more writing done. After dinner, the storm stopped and the sun actually came out.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-21.jpg
Yesterday, this was a dog run. Now it is a lake.

We packed up a bunch of books to return and walked through the park and neighborhood to the Belmont library at Cesar Chavez Blvd. and Taylor. There were so many changes after the storm. The lower dog park area at Laurelhurst Park has become a small lake, and the ducks have moved in. Vines that had been full of grapes and whole trees full of apples had been knocked down by the force of the wind and rain and lay like slimy land mines on the sidewalks. Piles of leaves, washed down to intersections, looked like piles of pudding. We walked carefully, found some new books, and walked back home.

All in all, a full day of writing, weather, music, and walking….some of my favorite things!

Love,

Grandma Judy

First Rain…Maybe

Dear Liza,

Today was predicted to be our first real rain in over two months. Portland usually gets some rain even in the summer, but this has been a really dry one. Today that was supposed to end.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-13.jpg
Interesting signpost downtown

But we had things to do. Grandpa Nelson and I wanted to go downtown, so we had coffee and fresh doughnuts at the Rocking Frog on Belmont and then caught the #15 bus.

Going across the Hawthorne Bridge, we saw a whole long line of people walking, and most of them were wearing PINK! T-Shirts, hats, tutus, all kinds of things, and all bright pink. It was the last bit of the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure, a fund raiser for breast cancer research. There were hundreds of people, walking, jogging, and laughing. I bet they raised a lot of money!

At Tom McCall Waterfront Park, along the west bank of the river, there was a stage with loud music and lots of booths selling food, snacks, even ice cream! But we had just eaten doughnuts, so we passed.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-14.jpg
The Old Portland Theater
 

Turning west on Yamhill, we walked up towards Pioneer Place,  an old building that has been re-done to have new stores inside. Inside the atrium, the high glassed-in part, there were statues made of cans of food! This one was supposed to be a copy of Rene Magritte’s self-portrait, which your mommy and daddy will recognize as the man in the derby hat with the green apple in front of his face. If you look really closely, you can see it a bit.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-15.jpg
Self Portrait by Magritte…with cans

Grandpa Nelson needed some Clark’s shoes. The ones he has are really old and getting sort of floppy. But we didn’t get any. It turns out, the kind he really likes, they don’t make anymore. So we passed on those, too. We went outside, expecting the rain to start any minute. We walked towards Pioneer Square, since I have always been in a hurry when we are there., and I wanted to get a good look at it. But it was closed off for a private party! Grrr.

So, with a frustrating morning behind us and rain ready to start, we got back on the bus and headed for home. We did see some more statues of animals, though…it’s hard to be angry where there are brass seals and beavers on the sidewalk!

GetAttachmentThumbnail-5.jpg
Seals
GetAttachmentThumbnail-10.jpg
Beavers

Got home, no rain…read some history, no rain…Auntie Bridgett got home, no rain… I got antsy and decided to go for a walk in  the park, and FINALLY the rain started! Not only rain, but wind and swirls of leaves, all dancing and turning around like happy confetti.

Fall has finally fallen! Hooray!

Love,

Grandma Judy