Gearing up for Christmas

Dear Liza,

Toys!

Yesterday we spent all day, in one way or another, getting ready for Christmas. First thing, Auntie Bridgett and I walked out in 36 degrees F to go shopping. Hawthorne Street, just a bit south of us, has so many wonderful, locally run shops! Asylum, Kids at Heart, Tender Loving Empire, and Memento all have really interesting items that tickle my funny bone. We had a good time choosing special things for our special people.

When the lunch bell in my stomach started going off, we knew it was time to get home. Leftover chicken and cheese made for delicious burritos to keep our spirits up.

Miles and the new tree

Then, the three of us headed off to the big quest of the day: The Christmas tree! Last year, we drove all over town looking for a lot we liked…and finally found a small lot at Belmont and 48th. We went there first this year.

We usually get a Noble Fir, but standing very tall and shaggy, was a Nordman. This was a new type of tree to us, but we liked the height and slightly careless look , so we had the nice fellow tie it to Miles’s roof and took it home.

 

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Sneakin’ in the tree

Our new garage is narrow and pretty full, so it took some real maneuvering to get it in and upstairs…but once installed, it fit perfectly. Grandpa Nelson put up the lights and I brought boxes of ornaments in from the garage, for Sunday’s decorating.

After resting a bit, we wanted to go visit the Open Studio of our friend Nicole Crucio, who makes ceramics. We met her at an Art Show this last summer, when we were headed for Silver Falls. Nicole’s studio is in southeast Portland, in her basement, with a good sized kiln and lots of space. We enjoyed looking at her vases, plaques and paintings.

Nicole Crucio’s work by the fire

She shared her show the her friend Jeni Lee, who does wonderful acrylic paintings with raindrops!! These capture the beautifully atmospheric conditions here in the Northwest and feel cool and welcoming.

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Jeni Lee and her raindrop acrylics

At Nicole’s, we also met her dog Stevie, who is very sweet and loves to show off her tricks. She does a figure eight between Nicole’s legs, rolls over, and dances. She was fun. We also ate some cookies from the Morsel Code Cookie Company, baked by a lady who wants cookies to taste good but be less bad for you! Amen to that. Very tasty, indeed.

Nicole and Stevie, showing off

Back home, Auntie Bridgett started the wrapping g of the goodies we had bought on Hawthorne ….coming to you, heading the San Diego for kidlets there, and some staying here in Portland.

Tomorrow, we decorate the tree!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Visitors and Ramona’s Neighborhood

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               George and Mimi                                        Photo Credit: Bridgett Spicer

Dear Liza,

Yesterday our dear friends George and Mimi Niesen were in town delivering one of her paintings and they stopped by for brunch! We decided to walk, since there are so many wonderful places close by.

Their first choice, called Fried Egg I’m in Love, on Hawthorne at 34th, turned out to be a food truck. I’m sure their food was good, but their eating area right by the busy street was too noisy for conversation. We walked a few blocks east to Bread and Ink, a restaurant that has been here for 32 years!

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Bread and Ink

We had a very tasty brunch of waffles and berries, black bean cakes with mango chutney, potatoes and sausage, and eggs Benedict. Good coffee, good service, and interesting art on the walls made for a very pleasant morning.

We walked back through the neighborhood more slowly, stuffed with breakfast. We walked along Hawthorne seeing all the fun shops and met Ray, the man who owns Classic Collection, where we found Grandpa Nelson’s new summer hat the other day. Ray has a bigger store downtown, but he calls this one “my baby”.

We saw the Tov Bus, a coffee place made in a re-purposed double-decker London Bus. Turning into the quiet neighborhood, there was a sign in a garden explaining that there were important pollinators called mining bees living in their yard, so it didn’t get gardened much.

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Bee Protection Sign

We passed the ‘cow house’, which has, well, a large plastic cow on the roof. It just sort of sits there, being a cow. Very entertaining!

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You know, it’s a cow…on a house

We imagine it saying things…”Yeah, I’m a cow, what’s it to you?”….”Who took that ladder?”

After George and Mimi went on their way and we worked and had dinner, Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson and I went for a long walk up to the Grant Park neighborhood. This is where the author of the Ramona books, Beverly Cleary, grew up.

In Grant Park (named for President Grant, who was president from 1868-1877) there are three statues in a fun, splashy fountain. The statues are of Ramona Quimy, Henry Huggins, and Henry’s dog Ribsy. Ramona and Ribsy are actually part of the fountain because their statues help spray the water. Henry is watching from the side. The sculptor, Lee Hunt, captured the fun of playing in the water perfectly.

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Auntie Bridgett and Henry Huggins
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Ramona Fountain at Grant Park

We walked a long way through the Grant Park neighborhood, seeing the big high school and Beverly Cleary Elementary School, lots of nice houses for sale, and friendly cats.

 

 

 

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Ribsy helps out!

We were getting tired and thirsty, so we stopped at the Migration Brewery for cider, beer, and pretzels, then finished our walk and collapsed happily at home.

Auntie Bridgett’s mileage meter on her watch said she and I walked six and a half miles in all. No wonder our feet were tired! Another lovely, interesting, exhausting day.

Love,

Grandma Judy