Forty Seven and Counting

Dear Liza,

Yep, Grandpa Nelson and I are celebrating another anniversary! They just keep coming around, as they have since 1975.

We have celebrated in a variety of ways, as our circumstances (and the world) have changed. Our first anniversary saw us re-visit Francisco and run out of cash. In a world before ATMs and with no credit card, we two barely-adult-people ended up wiring my folks for gas money to get home.

Much later, after our kids (your Auntie Katie and Daddy David) grew up, we flew to Hawaii to celebrate. We had a wonderful time and I got third degree sunburn, just on my back, from snorkeling for three hours. Fortunately, there are no pictures!

This year, of course, there was no travel. The continuing pandemic and Omicron variant, and the cold winter weather, have put a snag in anything like that. We did manage to get a few blocks over to The HobNob, our local pub, for their Customer Appreciation night.

We saw neighbors there, and Jason, the owner. I respect Jason immensely. Like your Auntie Katie, he has managed to keep his small business alive during a really tough time. Through a combination of reduced hours and extra work, he has stayed afloat, and the whole neighborhood came to show their love.

Even the dogs!

After egg nog, dinner, and cookies, we headed home to warm pajamas, a cat for our laps, and a fireplace. Happy forty seven, sweet man.


Grandma Judy

An Evening at Suzette

Dear Liza,

Eating inside restaurants is only just now starting to feel safe. Covid chased us out onto patios and into the ”to go” line, but as Portland’s vaccinations have grown and more places are requiring proof of vaccinations to enter, we are more confident.

So Sunday, we spent a very pleasant evening at Suzette Creperie, one of the small restaurants just a block from our house. We met our new friend Judy (yes, another Judy!) for drinks and dinner.

The food is always tasty at Suzette, and the service is friendly. But what I really love is the ambiance. This word means the feeling of the place, the atmosphere…. how it makes you feel. Suzette, especially on a dark, chilly evening, reminds me of Paris.

And that’s always good.

Even Judy noticed it. This was her first visit and she said it felt like she’d ‘walked into a different world.’

For a few hours we had drinks, crepes, onion soup, and other delicious things, and shared stories. It was a warm way to spend a chilly evening.


Grandma Judy

The Egyptian Brothers

Dear Liza,

After a few really rainy days, we had a cold, clear Friday. Fridays are the evenings we try and give some business to our local restaurants, as well as giving me the night off from cooking.

Sadly, some of our favorite places have closed, at least for the duration of the pandemic. The Hob Nob and the Belmont Inn just around the corner, and the Rocking Frog down the way, just weren’t able to make business work with only take out or delivery.

But in a city with thousands of people who love to eat out, there will always be something. Last night we ordered take out online from The Egyptian Brothers, a food truck at the food cart pod at 28th and Ash. On the walk over to pick it up, we enjoyed the sunset colored clouds and the patterns made by power lines, and the parade of folks walking their dogs to Laurelhurst Park and home again.

The Food Court has metal fire pits and some outdoor heaters set up in the middle of carts featuring Tobiko Bowl Japanese food, Wolf and Bear Lebanese, FOMO Chicken, and the Crepe place, make for a cheerful atmosphere. Quite a few folks were seated around the fire or at tables, socially distanced, but not very masked.

It was refreshing to see people talking and laughing, having some beer or wine with friends. It felt almost normal. But it didn’t feel like I wanted to stick around.

Our dinner was ready when we got there, smelling delicious. We headed home in the gathering dark, getting hungrier by the minute. Grandpa Nelson had opened a bottle of Columbia Crest Red Blend, and we enjoyed our lamb gyros with tzitziki sauce and wine before our Scrabble game.

Grandpa Nelson won handily, Auntie Bridgett came in second, but I think I had as much fun as anyone. Happy Friday! Welcome to your weekend!


Grandma Judy

Unexpected Warmth in Winter Greys

Dear Liza,

This is a re-post from last winter. I don’t feel up to writing this morning. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

Mood lighting and menu

Yep, it’s still winter here… dark, grey, and drippy. Last night we needed to get out of the house, but it was too nasty to walk very far. Our first choice, the Suzette Creperie, was closed, so we stopped by a tiny place we have walked past a thousand times, called Rendezvous Vous. Since it was early, we were the first customers in.

There was interesting lighting and an appealing informality about the place… tables of different heights and styles, a few velvet sofas and chairs. A tall bookcase made of old doors held books and games, Star Wars Monopoly among them.

We were waved at by Nour, who seemed to be running the place by herself. She got us water, and got us some wine. I had a Bordeaux and Grandpa Nelson got a Chilean Pinot Noir. Both were tasty… really different from each other, but tasty. The Bordeaux had the dark balance of most Bordeaux wines, and the Pinot was sharp, like cider.

Soft and warm, just what was needed…

We enjoyed the music… Frank Sinatra, Pink Martini, and cool jazzy covers of old rock and roll songs. After a while an older fellow came in and sat at the bar, reading his newspaper and chatting with Nour. We got the feeling he was a regular.

We ordered our dinner. Manti, something totally new for me, and tuna poke for Auntie Bridgett. Turns out, Manti is a dish of small beef dumplings in a garlicky, tomatoey, yogurt sauce, and absolutely delicious!

I ate and enjoyed the combination of wine, spice, music, and soft lighting, and being in a new place.

When we got home, I had to brush my teeth three times before I could get a kiss goodnight! The garlic sauce, tasty as it was, had real staying power. I will remember to tread more lightly next time (burp.)


Grandma Judy

Finding Common Ground(s)

Dear Liza,

Finding companionship over coffee

It is still chilly here, but we haven’t had rain for a few days. On Tuesday, we took advantage for the dry spell to get out for a walk. Auntie Bridgett wanted to spend some time in a comfy coffee house, Grandpa Nelson wanted a tasty snack, and I just wanted to get out of the house.

Eastside walkway between Taylor and Salmon

We bundled up with scarves and gloves, because it was only about 46 degrees. We wandered through the neighborhood, seeing the winter trees and noticing all the small, promising signs of spring on the way.

Daffodil buds starting to swell

We walked a mile to Common Grounds down on Hawthorne near 43rd Street and found just the comfy coffee house that Auntie Bridgett was looking for. It was busy but not loud, and had an interesting variety of tables, chairs and sofas. People sat alone, reading or working on laptop computers, or in pairs for quiet conversation. The electronic music was at background levels and very pleasant.

Friendly, busy barista

We enjoyed coffee, Fire Tea (a spicy turmeric and cayenne blend), and a delightfully chewy Squirrel Bar. Grandpa Nelson didn’t see what he wanted, so he went half a block down to Zach’s Shack for French fries, and came back and joined us for coffee when he was done.

The remains of the afternoon

It was nice, in the dark chill of winter, to be out among our fellow Portlanders. After a nice long visit, we walked home to make dinner.

Threshold mosaic at Common Grounds


Grandma Judy

A New Treat

Dear Liza,

Quirky Decor in Farmhouse Kitchen Thai

Yesterday, Portland broke a record, having more than 30 days above 90 degrees this summer. It has been so hot for so long! And today, the weather changed. Yesterday’s high temperature was 93. Today it is 73. Whew!

So Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk. How nice to be able to walk and not dodge under trees for shade, or worry about if your destination is air conditioned. We wanted to try a new place for lunch, so we walked to Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine, down on Southeast Hawthorne. IMG_9690.jpg

This lovely, welcoming place is one of four branches of the same restaurant, the original being in San Francisco. It is located in an old farmhouse and uses the yard as a patio and the glassed-in porch for extra seating. We were greeted and seated and given a menu. Everything looked good, but nothing looked familiar… so we asked the manager about the food.

Vegan Fresh Rolls

She explained that this is very traditional Thai food and some was very spicy. She steered us to milder dishes and we ordered Vegan Fresh Rolls for an appetizer.

We got ginger beer and ginger tea to put out any unexpected fire.

The Fresh Rolls arrived, looking like flowers in a pond. The rolls were rice paper, veggies and tofu, tasty, fresh and bright. The pond was a delicious chili/peanut sauce that we couldn’t stop eating. Seriously, we held on to the plate and enjoyed it the rest of the meal.

Our main dish to share was Kai Yang Chicken. The large plate held a half chicken, roasted with a spicy coating, a large bowl of noodles, salad and a quarter of  cabbage, a bag of sticky rice, and two sauces; one sweet, one savory.

We were instructed not to worry about utensils, but to use our fingers to pull the chicken apart, peel a leaf off the cabbage, roll the chicken in it, dip it, and enjoy! Also, to dip the sticky rice in everything, including our sauce from the appetizer. We did use our fingers more than usual, but also the knife and chopsticks. Everything was so good!

Auntie Bridgett, patiently waiting…

The combination of moist chicken, sweet and spicy sauces and incredibly fresh veggies was so good, we ate long after we were full.

We chatted about the food and what we are working on. I started writing the new mystery version of my story this morning, and she is getting ready for her last day of training at The SideStreet Gallery, since she has become a full member! So exciting!

We finally had to stop eating and ask for a box, and we walked slowly home, feeling like happy pandas.

We walked past a house that has plums,  apples and even sweet chestnuts growing in the front yard! We were marveling at the sheer amount of food growing in this tiny yard when the owner came out and we congratulated him on it. “Come by and get some in the Fall,” he said. “We always have more than we can use.”

Hooray!! We will, thanks so much!


Grandma Judy