Out… and then Down

Dear Liza,

Lovely blooms whose names escapes me…

This week I took advantage of a sunny day and went out for a short walk. It’s good to see that even with most folks inside, the rhododendrons and trilliums are open for Spring. The smell of jasmine makes invisible patches of sweetness that catch you by surprise.

Trillium!

There are still quite a few joggers and dog walkers in the park, and it’s not always possible to properly socially distance, so we walk in the neighborhood. Many folks have taken to crossing the street mid-block to avoid too-close contact, and there is usually a smile or friendly wave that goes with this, acknowledging each other but staying safe. People can be pretty darn wonderful.

Someone’s gift to a venerable tree

We are continuing to be careful but I may have caught a touch of the bug. Grandpa Nelson went out for groceries yesterday because I was feeling really tired, and Auntie Bridgett is just getting over a nasty spell of fatigue.

We are good at taking care of each other. Lots of ginger tea, fruits and veggies, and quiet time for naps will pull us through.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Harder than I thought

Dear Liza,

The shut down because of Covid-19 is now in its third week here in Portland. It is starting to get me down a little.

Drippy, empty, rush hour

The last time I sat down with anyone besides Auntie Bridgett or Grandpa Nelson was March 11, when I had a cup of Golden Fire tea with dear Misha Moon at the Rocking Frog. Now, with the extra time imposed on us, we have both finished drafts of our stories that we were talking about.

That same day I met a good soul named Roger, and we exchanged stories of our childhoods in Southern California. His had a stepdad who was a building inspector in Watts, not far from where we lived for a while in Bellflower.

Our local hangout, closed up tight

Grandpa Nelson and I had lunch at McMenamin’s Barley Mill the next day, just before they closed up shop for the duration.

These are the sort of chance meetings and conversations that I have taken for granted, and now, for a while at least, they are over. I miss my species.

Mouse enjoys some inter species time with Luna

We eat, chat, read and write, here in our pleasant little house. There is enough room that we can be alone when we need to be, and we have games and movies and food, and even enough toilet paper. There is nothing really wrong, as long as we stay inside and away from people.

And yet, there it is…

So, I heave a big sigh and tell myself to get over it, and decide what to do today.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Flying Cat Coffee And Coronavirus

Dear Liza,

flying Cat Coffee in the sunshine

Our weather is still chilly but clear here in Portland. Coats have been put away, but a sweater and a little something around your neck is still a good idea. It is good walking weather, and yesterday Grandpa Nelson and I walked the mile south to Division Street’s Flying Cat Coffee.

This is just a block west of Salt and Straw Ice Cream and the St. Honore Boulangerie. It feels ‘old’ Portland, where they feel very ‘new’. The building is small, and the seating is a mixture of all the living rooms of my childhood… avocado green sofas and orange striped overstuffed rocking chairs.

Lonely barista

But it is pleasant. Their coffee is strong and good, and they have a nice selection of teas and some pastries.

Quirky, friendly art

But we were there the day the coronovirus became very real in Portland, so we literally had the place to ourselves. And it was probably our last sit down in a coffee shop for a while.

The mayor has declared a state of emergency (city of emergency?) and said all K-12 schools will close starting Monday. Governor Kate Brown has declared that any group bigger than 250 people is illegal. So concerts, plays, movie theaters, indoor malls, our zoo, museums, comic conventions, all the places we want to go when the spring comes, are all closed. Poop.

And even a mobile coffee bike!

Auntie Katie is working with her staff to find ways to keep Books with Pictures open while keeping everyone safe. Auntie Bridgett is doing the same at SideStreet Arts Gallery. It isn’t easy being a public place these days.

Here is where I heave a big sigh and find the silver lining. We are all well. The sunlight is pretty and the Park is not contagious. Kittens are good company. I am continuing to improve my story.

And I get to see you in less than a month!

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Sun Before the Storm

Dear Liza,

Hyacinths!

Spring is coming to Portland! The hyacinths are standing proud, cherry blossoms are drifting down like snow, and we are getting sun!

Ya gotta love birthday pets…

Last week only played at being sunny. Teasing us, being bright and sunny and luring us outside, but still really cold. But yesterday, POOF! It was sunny AND warm. It was so pretty, Grandpa Nelson and I went for a walk.

Well, technically, I was going to make dinner. But Grandpa Nelson mentioned “Salt and Straw” Ice Cream, and dinner got put back in the fridge to wait for a while.

Tiny grape hyacinths

Division Street used to feel like a long walk, but it’s only a mile south through lovely older neighborhoods of Victorians and Craftsman style homes. The oak trees are tall and fat, the steps properly mossy, the garden a bit shaggy. Politics is blooming. It was wonderful.

Bernie!

Once we got to “Salt and Straw”, there was a line inside and happy people sitting in the sun licking ice cream cones outside. It felt like summer, with people in shorts and sunglasses, chatting and taking selfies in the sun.

THE place for ice cream…

We stepped into the St. Honore Boulangerie next door to pick up a nice pain au chocolat for Auntie Bridgett, who was home with a cold, and headed back through the neighborhood.

Look at that sunshine!!

And we saw these inky clouds over the bright pink trees, and knew that our sunshine would be short lived, that this coming week was going to be wet and cold.

Time to scoot inside!

Spring is tricky that way.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Rainy Day with Kestrel and Jasper

Dear Liza,

Yesterday I took a walk in the rain down to visit Cousins Jasper and Kestrel. I took an unfinished doll Auntie Bridgett found while cleaning out her studio, and some fabric and other bits. It was a pretty, but drippy, walk, and I was glad for my umbrella.

Bioswale, doing its job

Along the way, I noticed all the swales in people’s yards had filled up. Swales are low parts built into yards, which usually look like dry ponds. Their purpose is to catch rainfall and runoff and let it soak into the aquifer instead of running down the street, carrying oil and pollution to the river.

Yesterday, they were full and happy, looking like actual ponds. I kept looking for frogs, but didn’t see any.

Lovely Kes….

When I got to Auntie Katie’s shop, I gave her some pinwheel cookies and headed upstairs to see the Cousins. They had a day off from school and were in art project mode. Kestrel was making a hibiscus headpiece as part of her Marin costume. Marin is a character from The Legend of Zelda. It is adorable.

And her doll

I showed her the doll and she figured stuff out while Jasper showed me an old video game console with Mario and Luigi punching a giant pink piranha plant.

La Sabrosita, the first food cart at Books with Pictures!

We got hungry and Kes and I braved the rain out to the FIRST food cart, La Sabrosita, in Katie’s parking lot. Basilio and his daughter make good burritos, tacos, and carnitas. We ate back in the house, but on sunny days in summer, the picnic tables are going to be a happy place!

When we finished lunch, it was time for me to head home. I walked, not wanting to end my adventure before I had to. By the time I got home I was very wet and cold, but that’s what dry socks are for!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Snow! Well, Sort of…

Dear Liza,
Yesterday afternoon, after many false predictions, it snowed!!

One of our gnomes

Well, it was precipitation and it wasn’t rain, so we will call it snow. It bounced when it hit, making steep pitched roofs and driveways look like Pachinko games. And of course, Grandpa Nelson and I walked out in it! (He said we were really going down to Zach’s Shack for lunch, but I know better).

Before we got to Zach’s, there was quite a crunchy layer of little ice balls (okay, it was hail) on the sidewalk and covering roofs. It lay on hoods and hatchbacks and surrounded fearless daffodils.

Brave early daffodils

It was cold and lovely, like all winter beauty is when you have a warm, dry place waiting for you. Which we did. At Zach’s we ate some fries and watched the weather change, from heavy hail to damp grey skies to blinding sunshine. Then it was time to head home!

Squirrel checking the weather…

Love,

Grandma Judy

Looking Back, Just a Bit More…

Dear Liza,

Portland does SPRING very well!

This past year saw some big adventures, too.

Three generations! Me, Auntie Katie and Cousin Kestrel

In March, for my birthday, you and your family came up to help me keep a long-overdue promise to MY parents, to put their ashes into the ocean. We all drove over the mountains to Seaside, made a sand castle, and placed them in it. High tide would take them where they wanted to be.

David and Katie built their grandparent’s castle

A perfect Florentine

I started baking with more skill, with new equipment and confidence.

The summer came, and fall…

Leaves in Laurelhurst Park

In September we took the train to Vancouver, BC, and Seattle, Washington, and enjoyed what those cities had to offer.

Vancouver, BC, by day

Seattle by night

Auntie Bridgett kept painting, working hard as a member of SideStreet Arts.

Auntie Bridgett and one of my favorite paintings, A Paris

This year also saw the young people growing into wonderful ‘older’ people. Cousins Kyle and Jasper got to know each other and became buddies, bonding over Dungeons and Dragons and video games.

Cousins Kyle and Jasper, being guys together

As for me, I am still working on my story. It has grown from being a story about a CITY to being a story about a girl living IN a city.

My had drawn map of Portland, 1903

I never knew writing a book was so complicated, but I am learning, and I think that as long as I take time and don’t give up, it has promise.

My (at least) twelfth outline, getting more complicated and person- centered

Last year, I kept my promise to my parents. Maybe this year, I can keep my promise to me.

Happy New Year!!

Love,

Grandma Judy