Auntie Katie Takes Her Books to the People

Dear Liza,

This past weekend Portland hosted, among many other things, The Rose City Comic Con. This is a convention for people who love comic books and the characters who` live in them. I’m sure thousands of people went. We didn’t, because we are concerned about indoor crowds in this age of Covid.

Auntie Katie, who runs a comic book and graphic novel book shop, Books with Pictures, would usually have a big table at the Comic Con. But she is concerned about Covid, too. So she took her books outside!

She posted on Facebook and Instagram to let people know that she and her books would be at the Food Truck Pod on SE 28th, just across the street from The SideStreet Arts Gallery. She and one of her staff, Kitty, showed up with boxes of books and shelves to put them on.

In the midst of the Saturday evening crowds, they set up shop. And as the Rose City Comic Con shut down across town, the crowds came to the food court to see Katie and buy her books!

It was quite a thing to see. We stuck around for long enough to buy a book and watch the crowds form, and then headed to the grocery store and the home.
What a day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

After the Heatwave

Dear Liza,

Wednesday was the first day of human-level temperatures since our historic heat wave began. We woke up to cloud cover, cool air and even a bit of dampness. It felt wonderful.

Look! Clouds! Hooray!!!

I went to the garden early. My friend Tonya gave me one of her parsley plants, and I planted it between my radishes and lettuce. My garden is doing well, even though it isn’t as tall as the other ones. They have five foot tall trellises and arbors hanging with peas and beans. I have a magnificent beast of a zucchini.

And it makes food, too!

I walked around Laurelhurst Park for the first time in a week, enjoying the cool green, the ducks, and all the people out doing their people thing. Tai c’hi classes, guitar practice, dog parties….. it was life as normal, out on the grass.

After a morning of sewing, French lessons, crossword puzzles and cartooning, the three of us headed off to Grandpa Nelson’s favorite lunch spot, Zach’s Shack. Auntie Bridgett got to go because she isn’t working at the SideStreet Arts gallery anymore. Her new comic strip, Auntie Beeswax, allows her more flexibility with her time.

One of my favorite views….

We ate hot dogs and fries, and, since the sun had come out, appreciated the icy cold sodas.

Then came ping pong! Zach’s back patio has a table and enough hard surfaces that even if the ball misses the table, you can keep it in play. We get a little nuts sometimes, and it is fun!

We played until we were played out, then walked home by way of the Taylor Street chickens. The day had warmed up to 88 degrees and we were happy for the air conditioning.

This heat wave was bad. It send a lot of folks to the hospital. We need to figure out how to help our planet heal so we can all be well.

Portlanders ❤️ Chickens !

Love,

Grandma Judy

Auntie Beeswax

Dear Liza,

Did you know that your Auntie Bridgett Spicer was a cartoonist? From 2009 to 2012, her comic strip called Squid Row ran in the Monterey Herald newspaper. It was about an artist living in a touristy seaside town. Since Auntie Bridgett was an artist living in Seaside, California, it made perfect sense. The strip was really popular, too.

A sketch of Auntie Beeswax

After we moved to Portland, she took a few years off from cartooning to do painting. She joined the Sidestreet Arts Gallery and helped make it a better place for people to see and buy art. And now she has starting cartooning again!

The city of Roseport and some characters

Her new comic strip is called Auntie Beeswax, and will be in the Willamette Week newspaper here in Portland. Auntie Beeswax is an eccentric lady who lives in “Roseport”, a thinly disguised version of Portland. She keeps bees, cats and chickens, rides her bicycle everywhere, and is an organic gardener. In other words, she is a delightfully ordinary Portlander. But she always does things just a little differently.

Rough draft of a comic strip

The comic will be about her adventures, and will include a young niece who learns about life ‘outside the box’ from her Auntie Bee.

Bridgett Spicer herself

I am so happy to see Bridgett smiling and sketching, getting her stories all ready. I look forward to reading about Auntie Beeswax!

Love,

Grandma Judy

North in the Sunshine

Dear Liza,

The other day I knew I needed to get out of the house, but had no motivation. Grandpa Nelson suggested a walk, and promised me goodies somewhere along the way. I went.

We headed north through the Laurelhurst neighborhood, then kept going up to Kerns. About a mile and a half from home, we stopped at Oregon Park and watched two little girls learn that going down a slide doesn’t have to be a straight forward proposition. It was fun to see their inventiveness.

“Where next?” Grandpa asked.

“I’m not sure, but it seems I remember a bakery just over that way,” I said, pointing north west-ish. He checked his phone.


“Good call! Helen Bernhardt Bakery is just 1.2 miles away. Practically around the corner.” So off we went. In the neighborhood in between, we found all sorts of delights. These stone lions are very stylish and Covid-aware.


These vintage, hand-carved children’s rocking chairs sat outside a turn of the century home, as if waiting to be adopted.

Window art is wonderful along Broadway.


We got to Helen Bernhardt’s Bakery, which has good Covid procedures in place, and chatted with the lady behind the counter.

She said that this past Easter, a week ago, was the best Easter ever for the business. That’s since 1924! It’s nice to know that some businesses have been able to survive and even thrive in this weirdness, and that we will have this lovely bakery around for a long time.


Grandpa Nelson has been eaten by a camellia!

After sitting on a low wall outside the bakery, enjoying our donut, Florentine and coffee as we watched happy folks come and go from the bakery, it was time to “South” a little. That is, to head towards home. We found this incredible camellia bush that was huge outside and magical inside. The flowers under the ‘umbrella’ seemed to glow pink with the afternoon sun.


We walked back across the Banfield Freeway and were soon in our own neighborhood. We stopped to say Hi to Auntie Bridgett, who was working her shift at the SideStreet Arts Gallery, then got home to crash before dinner.

The Banfield….. an ugly scar of a road with good views

Another fine adventure!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Bernies and Jackalopes

Dear Liza,

Even with the lockdown, there is always so much going on! If you stop and look around a bit, the world is a busy place.

Two Bernies on books….

First, Auntie Bridgett has a cousin who got a 3-D printer, and the first thing she thought to make were some delightful teeny tiny Bernie Sanders models! They came to us last week, and are currently perched on our mantelpiece. I have tried to find little tableaux for them to be in, and haven’t found anything suitable yet. Any suggestions?

Found on a walk…

There are lots of little eccentric bits around the neighborhood. Houses with pumpkins still perched on the porch, skeletons posed as Santa Claus, and little triangular rocks with Google eyes.

Daniel Haile’s delightful work at SideStreet Arts

And, of course, there is the work at the SideStreet Arts Gallery! A local illustrator named Daniel Haile does tender portraits of all sorts of folks, but this baby Jackalope sitting in a bowler hat is my very favorite.

Since it is the third anniversary of the gallery, Auntie Bridgett did a series of things in threes. She loves bees, so they are all over the place. There is always something new to see.

I hope you have a wonderful week !

Love,

Grandma Judy

Birthdays and Birds

Dear Liza,

It is SideStreet Arts’ Third anniversary! The gallery Auntie Bridgett shows at, and is a partner in, is having a big on-line (and tiny in-person) celebration. You can see all the art at SideStreetArts.com.

Happy Birthday, SideStreet Arts, at the corner of Ash and 28th

And because every party needs flowers, we stopped at our favorite flower shop, Flower Bomb. Solara moved her business from a truck to a shop front at the corner of Stark 29th last February, and has been doing very well.

As a matter of fact, the place was a bit chaotic. Solara is having a pop-up shop down on Division in the days between now and Valentine’s Day, and was busy both taking a delivery and sending plants off. Good business is busy business!

Also, there was the small matter of a tiny bird who had flown into the shop and was having trouble finding his way out. The tall ceiling and perches kept him up high, and he couldn’t see all the doors and windows left open for him to escape. The rumbling delivery truck was probably scary, too.

As Auntie Bridgett collected chrysanthemums and stargazer lilies for the bouquet, I tracked the little feathered friend from light fixture to twig wreath to potted plant, trying to get pictures. He was easily ten feet over my head, and never stayed still for more than a few seconds.

As we finished up and the truck got ready to pull away, we were hopeful that the little guy would find his way out. If not, I’m sure Solara has a bird feeder and birdbath in her inventory to keep him comfortable him for a while.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Crazy Busy First Friday

Dear Liza,

The First Friday of every month is usually busy for artists. Galleries are open, artists meet folks, talk art, and maybe even sell some. Since Auntie Bridgett Spicer’s show at Sidestreet Arts is this month, THIS First Friday is even busier than usual!

Window display at Sidestreet Arts

She has been making art for her show “A Sketchbook(ed) Life” for months, organizing it for sale on her website, and getting ready to talk about it on the ZOOM First Friday Open House.

And then, the day got crazier. Friday morning, fellow Sidestreet Artist Dawn Panttaja called to let us know that the gallery had been tagged with graffiti. Again. What a mess.

The mess…..

Since paint comes off more easily when it is fresh, and since the wall that got tagged is only in shade until noon, we hustled over with buckets, rags, and grim determination. Dawn met us, and the three of us scrubbed for hours, until our arms were noodles and our masks were dripping. We made a good dent in it, I think.

…. After a few hours of scrubbing

We chatted while we worked, which always makes the time go by more easily. Passersby offered their sympathies for the tagging and thanked us for keeping the neighborhood nice.

A Paris

When it was almost time to go, Dawn suggested that Auntie Bridgett put another painting up for the show, “A Paris”. (There is an accent over the a, so it is pronounced ‘ah Par-ee’. It means ‘in Paris’.) There was space in the alcove and folks had been asking about it, she said… might be nice to have it out. Since the painting was just sitting in the back room, it was easy enough to hang. Hooray!


Denice Krueger, another Sidestreet artist, came just as we were leaving, to help clean. Many hands make light work, and all will be well. Thanks, Denice!

Once we got home, Auntie Bridgett rested and got ready for the ZOOM party. At 7:00, Michelle Sabatier greeted a group that grew to about thirty people, all seeing and enjoying Bridgett’s art and conversation. It was wonderful to see George and MiMi Niesen and others join the group. It is nice to know that even with crazy times, friends show up to make us smile.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Bridgett’s Art Show!!!

Dear Liza,

Your Auntie Bridgett Spicer has her show at Sidestreet Art Gallery this month. It is a very big deal, taking months of work to prepare. I think it is wonderful.

The show is called “A Sketchbook(Ed) Life” and includes her sketchbooks and art created from them. Since she is on her 155th sketchbook, she has a lot to ‘draw’ from!

Bridgett Spicer, artist

I love watching Bridgett draw. She has so much skill and so many funny ideas that cartoons just jump out of her pencil. Her sketchbooks have told the story of quiet times at home, history and language lessons, and all our travels together.

This little monster….
Became THIS finished piece!

The main themes in her sketchbooks are coffee and the people who drink it, cats, and ghosts and monsters. The art for the show reflects this. But there are also sketches and art from her comic strip “Squid Row” and from her zines.

Sketches of Harold the stufftie And Randy Springlemeyer from Squid Row

To see her show online, you can go to SideStreetArts.com. The information for her First Friday ZOOM and her Sunday Art Talk will also be there. Come and join the fun!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Re-Opening SideStreet Arts

Dear Liza,

Since mid-March, the corona virus shut down has had all the non-essential stores closed. We could buy food, gas, and medicine, and even some take out food. But art galleries and shops have had to go on- line for business.

Auntie Bridgett, making it all pretty

And, for many, it has worked out well. Even with the doors closed, Auntie Bridgett’s gallery, SideStreet Arts, has had sales almost equal to last year’s. The members have kept their art on display through Instagram, Facebook, and an on-line newsletter. Last month’s ZOOM First Friday was well attended and had lots of sales. First Fridays will continue to be ZOOM for a while, as we get used to a “new normal”.

Last month’s ZOOM fIrst Friday

Governor Brown has announced it is time to (carefully) open Portland for business. The city is considering closing some streets to traffic so restaurants and bars can spread out, allowing more space between customers. And SideStreet Arts is getting ready, too. June 4th will be their first day open, from Noon until 5 PM! Woo-hoo!!!

Moving things around

Auntie Bridgett and the other artists have been cleaning, re-painting, and rearranging all the art. They are putting some health procedures into place, like bottles of hand sanitizer in every part of the gallery and a plexiglass shield at the register. They have moved pedestals around to allow more space between shoppers and will be allowing people to use their own bags. They have changed their small kitchen to a hand-washing station.

And they will be offering masks to customers who want to come in and browse but didn’t bring one. That’s where I come in.

Masks for shoppers

I am making a bunch more masks, single-layer for comfortable shopping, which the customers can keep and even wash and re-use, if they like.

Many businesses are working out these same snags. The point is to limit the spread of germs while being as comfortable as possible. It is a narrow line to walk and not everyone agrees on everything. But if we understand that everyone is doing their best and, when in doubt, smile and say “Thank you”, I think we will be fine in the end.


Love,

Grandma Judy

Bridgett Spicer’s Art

Dear Liza,

You know Auntie Bridgett is an artist, right? Well, this week she sold three of her lovely paintings!!

Abstract Paris II by Bridgett Spicer

Bridgett shows her paintings, collages, buttons, magnets and zines at SideStreet Arts gallery at SE 28th and Ash Street here in Portland. She is one of nine members of the gallery and also handles the graphic design for their show postcards, their news releases, and advertisements. It is a big job!

Abstract Paris 1, by Bridgett Spicer

This last Sunday was a good day for art selling. The lady who had bought Bridgett’s wonderful collage of Max Jacob last year came by, and they got to chat. It is always nice to know where your art has gone.

Then a couple came in and, attracted by “(I wish I were) A Paris”, they went to the corner where Bridgett’s paintings were. They fell in love with, and bought, three of her wonderful blue “Paris Rooftops”!

Paris Rooftops, by Bridgett Spicer

I love these paintings, which were inspired by our vacations to Paris, and I am so pleased that people love and appreciate Auntie Bridgett’s art. It makes her happy to create it, and then it goes out and spreads happiness in the world.

That’s a win-win, as they say.

Love,

Grandma Judy