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

Sunnyside in Summer

Dear Liza,

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Shasta Daisies

Our neighborhood is so pretty!

So far, I have gotten to be here in the spring (for just a week), and the summer (for two months) and the trees and bushes keep changing and growing.

In the spring it was very wet and cool, with only the blooms of azaleas and rhododendrons making big wads of color amid the dark and damp. It seemed like the wet dirt was napping, just waiting for sunshine.

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Laurelhurst in March

And it’s a good thing the ground was so damp, because we haven’t had rain for two months, except for a short, dramatic thunderstorm. The larger trees are doing well without help, but we see a lot of people out watering their gardens to make sure the plants stay healthy.  Summers weren’t always this dry, but because of climate change we are seeing more drought conditions here.

Over at Sunnyside Environmental School, there are watering crews that come in once a week. They have even made signs which crack me up!

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This part of town also has lots of food growing. There are apple trees weighted down with fruit and even grapes hanging on fences.

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Baby Grapes

I love sharing my new city with you. I hope your new year at school goes well.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Lettuce Turnip the Beet!

Sudden Storm

Dear Liza,

On Father’s Day it was hot! Auntie Bridgett and I needed to sell some books back to Powell’s, so we went early and spent the hottest part of the day indoors, reading, practicing French on Duolingo, and researching.

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Grandpa Nelson celebrating Father’s Day

By about six  it felt cool enough to enjoy a walk in Laurelhurst Park, so we all three put on sun hats, and sunglasses, and headed out. There was blinding sunshine in the western sky and ominous dark clouds to the east. We kept an eye on it.

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Ominous Clouds

The park was full of families and dogs, people in hammocks and on blankets, playing frisbee, guitars, even a fellow practicing his accordion by the pond. We sat down to listen and enjoy the sun on the water, when WHOOOSH! a wind came through and blew leaves, seeds, dust and even small branches past us at eye level.

The families packed up, called their dogs, making a small exodus out of the park. I took videos and photos. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett just wanted to get home before the rain hit. On the way home, I noticed a big branch that had fallen across the road about a block from us. I went up to see, and met a lady who had come to see, too.

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Unsuspecting Accordion Player

Turns out, the big branch was really several very long branches, and they had fallen across a REACHNOW car, a rental business like ZipCar. The lady, and some other folks who stopped to help and I, managed to lift the branches off and get them out of the road, without doing further damage to the car.IMG_7195.jpg

I got the business information from the sticker on the window and let them know they have a damaged car.

Once we got home, I settled in to watch the storm as it progressed. Listening to the thunder was wonderful! We even got to sit out on the balcony for a while, until the wind shifted and brought the rain straight at us.

By eight o’clock, when we were meeting Auntie Katie for a post-Pride Day Father’s Day drink, the storm had passed and the sunset was pink and lovely.

Things are sure different around here.

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Springing…

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Rhododendron

Dear Liza,

Spring in Portland is an exciting time. You don’t know, hour to hour, if you will have sun or rain. Trees that have been bare all winter get dusted with petals before their lacy green petticoats come out.

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Spring Canopy

The ground smells alive as the rain and mosses work together to create life.

Each Rhododendron bloom looks like a perfect bouquet.

Wild roses and strawberries burst with buds and fruit, bright red against the dark shady soil.

The state flower, Oregon Grape, which isn’t a grape, can be found putting on its tiny sour fruits.img_6880.jpg

I remember walking around this very neighborhood, just about a year ago, apartment hunting. I saw a yard with its just- out -of -the -flat zinnias and thought how optimistic the gardener was, planting heat loving zinnias in what I thought was the perpetual damp of the northwest. But last summer’s heat set me straight, and I walked by the zinnias everyday, being reminded of how much I still have to learn about my new home.

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Optimistic zinnias

Being in our old neighborhood, I got to visit the flamingos! They are all decked out for Pride Day next weekend, lead in their own parade by their friend duck playing a kazoo. I smiled to see that our gnome is still lurking in the bushes, chuckling as people spot him.

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Proud Flamingos

Love,

Grandma Judy