They’re IN!

Dear Liza,

This week we had our first really warm, sunny day. I took advantage of the almost 60 degree weather and took all those seedlings I have been nurturing in the kitchen window up to their new home.


I loaded them, along with the garden tool bag from Auntie Bridgett’s momma Donna and an onion that had been in the pantry too long, into my red wagon and walked the two blocks up to the Blair Community Garden.

First I pulled out all the fallen camellia blossoms, which are very pretty, even when they are in the way.

I decided where the plants would go weeks ago when I put in the terraces and supports. Now I just needed to do the stooping and digging work to get them in the dirt. Donna’s nice skinny trowel was just the right size!

I put in the seedling lettuces on the east side, where they will get some shade from the camellia bush. The cucumbers are also on that side, but they will climb up the white trellis and get more sun as the season progresses.

The zucchinis are planted under the ladder, so they will have something strong to climb on and keep the zukes off the ground. I will add pumpkins later in the spring.

When everything was planted, I packed up the wagon with the empty pots and droopy camellias and just sat there for a while, enjoying the warm spring sun. I listened to the birds fluttering, people walking by, and far off trains.

I thought about Momma and how much joy her garden gave her. We should all be so lucky as to have something that makes us that happy.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Quality Time with Momma

Dear Liza,

Your great grandma Billie, my Momma, would have been 100 years old yesterday. She passed away just the month before you were born, so you two never got to know each other. She would have liked you!

She loved two things above all: Her family and her garden. I think she saw all of us as her garden, actually, nourishing and us encouraging us to become our best. Here is a picture of her in her garden.


Momma in her garden

Wednesday, to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday, I got on a bus for the first time in a year and a half, and went to The Grotto. The proper name for it is The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother.

The upper garden at The Grotto

The Grotto is a beautiful church, sanctuary, and garden in Northeast Portland. It is most famous for its Christmas concert, but the holiday crowds are huge, so I don’t go then. I like it better when it is just me and the birds.

I bought a token for the elevator that takes you from the lower garden, where the Grotto, church, and gift shop is, and rode the hundred feet up to the upper garden, where it is nothing but lovely.

St. Francis of Assisi, Momma’s favorite catholic

The path that leads around the top passes a meditation chapel, and small shrines to Our Lady, who is Mary, the mother of Jesus. There are statues of Saint Francis of Assisi and St. Jude of Thaddeus. But mostly, there are gardens.

The last of the rhododendrons

Pines and maples soar up to the sky, azaleas and rhododendrons bloom pink and purple, waterfalls bubble, and birds sing. It the best place I know for walking and thinking peaceful, happy thoughts.

I spent hours in the upper garden. I walked the labyrinth, did a watercolor, and wrote about a momma. I wrote about how her love wasn’t the sort that smothered us or hid us from the world, but let us know that we could go out into the world and be safe. It was a love that got better and stronger as we got older and had some of our prickly edges knocked off.

When I took the elevator back down to earth, and was leaving the Grotto, I found a fellow’s wallet in the middle of the street. Once I got home, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get it back to him. With no home address or phone number, it will be a challenge, and I’m still working on it. But it’s what Momma would do.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Spring Beauty with a Side of Poetry

Dear Liza,

We got to walk through the neighborhood yesterday, on our way to Whole Foods for groceries. Our last two days of bright sunshine have encouraged all the flowers!

These irises with just a touch of yellow are magical

The bees are going nuts, too, though they were skittish and wouldn’t let me get close enough to take their pictures. However, this solid brick of azalea blooms was very patient.

Perfectly managed azalea bush!

Up on Ankeny Street in a poetry box, I found this very personal poem. If I had seen it on Mother’s Day, it would have felt cruel and bruising. But today I am stronger and can see it as beautiful.

Lovely poem that perfectly invokes Great Grandma Billie

Feelings are such delicate balances between joy and melancholy, sweet memories and frightful hauntings, it is a miracle we maintain as well as we do. I only really appreciate joy when I have pulled out of a dark hole and can sigh with relief at my freedom.

Thanks, Momma.

Love,

Grandma Judy