Disconnected Silliness

Dear Liza,

Most days, I like to have a story to tell you, a connected set of images that move from beginning to end and make some sort of sense. But not all the pictures I take fit into the stories.

So today, you get the random bits that didn’t connect with anything else.

This tiny shelf has been attached to the telephone pole for months, but has just recently been “closed”. I love our silly neighborhood.

These messages of friendship written all over the sidewalks let us know our friends are thinking of us.

A little love from the sidewalk….

And, of course, flowers blooming and blooming!

The combination of old houses and new blossoms just knocks me out….

And Laurelhurst is still one of the prettiest places in town.

Sigh.

That’s all for now. Maybe I’ll have a story for you tomorrow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Sunny Walk, New Things

Dear Liza,

We had some errands to do yesterday, so Auntie Bridgett and I went for a nice long walk. And since all the places we needed to go were down on Hawthorne, we saw how that street is changing during the lockdown.

One of our gnomes, lurking in the ferns….

We saw that Chez Machin, a lovely French bistro type place, has changed its name to Frog and Snail. I am hoping it is just a name change and the owners are the same. They are nice folks, and too many people are losing their livelihoods because of the shutdown. We will have a taste of their frogs and snails when the city opens up more.

Chez Machin is now Frog and Snail

We still found a lot of businesses closed, but the art and messaging is beautiful and hopeful. I took pictures as a way of holding tight onto goodness and love.

I have been so dismayed these last few days at the level of anger and violence that has swept over Portland and the rest of the country that I sometimes just want to curl up and sleep until all the hatred has passed.

But love, beauty and just plain human goodness are making themselves heard, too. And that gives me comfort.

Yep, just that.

After dropping off dry cleaning and mailing packages, we stopped at Hawthorne Liquor. Auntie Bridgett is on a mission to find a certain kind of yummy cognac that we had on an Air France flight, years ago. We have yet to find it anywhere in the city. But I did have time to wonder at this improbable bottle of pear brandy!

How did they DO that?

On the way home we stopped at Whole Bowl for lunch, which we ate while sitting on the chairs outside the temporarily closed Common Grounds coffee shop. We stopped at Chase bank to return someone’s lost credit card, and enjoyed some more street art.

Big smiles come from small stickers!

By the time we got home, we had walked nearly three miles! I felt pretty accomplished, after these long months of too much sofa-sitting. Maybe we can put ourselves out of this hole, after all.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Thunder, Lightning, and Tiny Critters

Dear Liza,

Saturday morning we were WOKEN UP by a wonderfully loud and flashy thunder-and-lightning storm. We had seen the clouds wafting in Friday evening as we sat on our balcony, and knew it was only a matter of time.

I love thunder storms. The power and energy give me a sense of perspective, an understanding of my tininess in the face of universal forces. I can picture myself as one of the mice huddling under bushes or birds snuggling in their nests.

Princess Zelda overlooking her realm

And speaking of tiny creatures, it is Spring, which means baby animals have been on my radar.

Terri expresses her opinion

My friends Amy and Angela have gotten kittens, named Terri and Princess Zelda, respectively, who are keeping them company during the shut down.

Skinny squirrel out and about

At Lone Fir, I followed one young squirrel in his exploration of the sunny headstones, and another, more ‘substantial’ fellow perching on a monument.

Chubby squirrel being immortalized

And then there are the ducks! Laurelhurst Park’s little Firwood Lake is home to a few dozen ducks, and this week, most of them are guarding little flotillas of fluffy ducklings. It is an eleven out of ten on the cuteness scale.

Fuzzy!!

This little guy got tired of swimming and followed Momma up onto shore for a rest.

Hanging out with Mom

And that is your dose of tiny animals for the day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

A New Friend at Lone Fir Cemetery

Dear Liza,

Saturday was beautiful and sunny, so between art and errands, Auntie Bridgett and I walked over to visit the Dead People at Lone Fir. This old cemetery is lovely in any weather, but on a sunny spring day it seems to deliver the package of emotions I need; beauty, mourning, eternity, new beginnings and final endings. It was wonderful.

Monument to James Gray Flowerdew

And I found a new friend. This eight foot tall monument was erected to James Gray Flowerdew (great name, right?) who had died on July 22, 1872. The Masonic emblem is on the tombstone, so we know he was a Mason in good standing. He was also only 37, which seemed really young to have this sort of marker.

I was really curious about this fellow, and got on the Internet to find out more about him. Mr. Flowerdew was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1835, where he and his family owned property. I know he lived there at least until 1867, because he is listed in a court case where he and other members of his family were awarded an inheritance due them.

He came to Portland sometime between 1867 and 1870, and on January 2, 1871, he formed a new company, Hewitt, Flowerdew and Co., with businessman Henry Hewitt. According to an ad in a June 1871 Oregonian, they had offices at the corner of First and Ash Streets downtown and bought and sold shipments of Liverpool Salt, Scotch Pig Iron, Dundee textiles, tin plates, and sheet iron.

The company got a valuable new client that June, the Imperial Fire Insurance Company of London. The ad announcing this business move was placed by Henry Corbett and Donald Macleay, powerful movers and shakers in Portland industry. Mr. Macleay was also from Scotland, so maybe having this in common with him helped young Mr. Flowerdew.

On August 16, 1871, Mr. Flowerdew was appointed as Vice Council to Great Britain, being congratulated in the official documents of the State of Oregon by Governor L. F. Grover. Life was good. His business was growing and he was becoming important politically. Then tragedy struck.

Sometime in June of 1872, he was thrown from his buggy in an accident, and died six weeks later of his injuries. He had been in the country less than four years. His brother and sisters back in Scotland put up this magnificent marble monument to him.

So now I know a little bit more about Portland’s late, great population. Only about a million folks to go!

Love,

Grandma Judy

New Beginnings Again!

Dear Liza,

No matter what sort of mess we human beings get ourselves into, nature just keeps on growing and changing.

Baby grapes are forming on a tiny vineyard on Belmont Street…

That crazy annual TREE that isn’t a sunflower is charging up to thirty feet tall…

Irises are going absolutely insane…

And Rhododendrons are making a real spectacle of themselves.

It’s really nice to know that there are some things we haven’t messed up yet!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Outing and Abouting

Dear Liza,

Ready to head out

We have been in corona virus shut down for two months now, and we have gotten better at it. I no longer forget my mask (and have to go back for it), and I keep an eye up to avoid getting too close to folks. Most people in this part of Portland are wearing masks, but a troubling number, especially those old enough to know better, are not.

Photo credit: Kathy Williams

With Grandpa Nelson having the fevers, fatigue, and general crappy feeling that come with a touch of Covid-19, we are staying home even more. Auntie Bridgett and I get our outside time when we walk to the market for groceries. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are both taking care to keep their carts clean and folks well apart, limiting the number of people in the store.

Safeway is larger and less diligent, but has put in arrows to show “one way” aisles and big dots on the floor to remind folks to socially distance. Even our local Stumptown coffee has painted horse shoes on the sidewalk for safe sidewalk ordering.

A safely socially distanced coffee purchase

Although we can now get toilet paper most days, some things are still in short supply. Ginger root, which comes from China, has been harder to find, and most of the garlic is now coming from good old Gilroy, down by Salinas. And there are some amusing new items showing up!

A powerful (apparently) alternative to toilet paper

In the neighborhood, we are seeing the inevitable signs of spring. Giant poppies are charging out of the ground.

Poppies!

Irises up to my shoulder lean against each other like drunken friends.

Irises!

Local artists are making bits to amuse folks. This fellow, who goes by the name “Toast Ghost”, paints images on metal and attaches them magnetically to metal parts of the landscape. We found this one stuck on the bolt of a telephone pole!

Art!

Well, that’s all the news from here for now. More tomorrow!

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