Housesitting in the Hills

Dear Liza,

These past few days, I have been staying at my friend Amy’s house in Lake Oswego. She and her husband are away visiting their brand new grand baby, and they needed someone to take care of the cats and water their garden. That someone is me.

Lake Oswego is different from the Sunnyside neighborhood where I live. For example, my house is a small condominium in a very crowded neighborhood. There are about 25 people living in 12 different houses in the same space as this one house and yard. This is very much ‘out in the hills’.

And because of that, the neighbors are different. I have been visited by a deer and her two babies, who stopped by but decided that the roofers next door were making too much noise. A squirrel dashed up a tree, stopping just long enough to give me his opinion.

A woodpecker knocked himself senseless flying into the kitchen window and sat on the flagstones for a few minutes, looking like a tiny, disoriented pterodactyl. He flew away just as I was figuring out what box to put him in for transport to the Audubon Society.

The sounds are different here, too. Once the roofers take a break, it is very quiet for a very long time. When the sun goes down there is a wind that fills up the space with the sound of millions of leaves dancing. You don’t hear motorcycles, sirens, other people’s music, or even the chatter of pedestrians, because, being so far out of town, most people drive to get around. It can feel sort of lonely, to be honest.

Terri

The cats here are different, too. Terri and Charlie were strangers to me when I arrived, and I didn’t see them for a whole day. Then one evening, Terri came down to the guest room and stared at me from the doorway, dashing away when I moved. The next day was the same. The third day, I found her in her cat tower and gave her some scritches.

Charlie

Now, she and Charlie come down every evening to get petted, pounce around, and interfere with my solitaire Scrabble game. They still haven’t sat in my lap, but I will be patient.

I am missing Auntie Bridgett, who is in San Diego with her family, and Grandpa Nelson, who is home taking care of Mouse. But we will all be together soon.

And then, maybe you can come visit!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Garden Update

Dear Liza,

I have had some real progress in the garden this week!

The zucchini plants are still getting bigger. I wonder when they will start to take over the plot! The tomato plants I put in, from the nursery and from my windowsill, are still alive and getting taller. The carrots are getting taller, as you can see in the picture. But it has been weeks and weeks since I planted them, and I felt the need to know what was going on under the ground. I pulled a medium sized one up!

It is teeny tiny, even for a miniature carrot. But it tastes perfectly carrot-y and gives me hope for a future harvest. I will keep watering and hoping.

The strawberries planted by a previous gardener are coming ripe, but up until now, the squirrels have gotten to them before I did. Not today! Hooray! They were wonderful.

The pumpkin seedling is standing tall, up to about four inches so far. It has a little mound all to itself by the miniature lavender plant.

And most surprising, the replacement radish seeds I put in just last week are coming up! I spaced them out better, so they will have more room to grow than my last crowded bunch. Keep your fingers crossed!

I love having the garden just up the street to play in. Some days I go for a quick stop to water, and others I take a snack and have a nice visit.
Love,

Grandma Judy

More Art, Squirrels, and The Slide Inn

Dear Liza,

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An even cooler mosaic!

It has definitely gotten colder here. If you go out without wool socks, at least three shirts and a wooly hat, it’s your own fault if you are miserable. The sun is coming up later and going down earlier…where we were walking in 10 P.M. dusk in July, it is now dusk at 6:30 and full on dark at 7. Yesterday afternoon was some rumbling thunder and rain, but no lightning we could see.

Cleverly, Auntie Katie and her family are in Maui, enjoying some warm weather and sunshine, whale watching and sunny beaches. I am enjoying getting to know her cats and hens. The hens gave us three eggs yesterday, which we enjoyed for lunch. The recent winds knocked down their lovely sukkah, but there were no casualties.

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Fallen Sukkah

Last night we wanted to try a new place for dinner, so we headed for The Slide Inn on Ankeny and SE 24th. We arrived too early, so we had a nice walk around the neighborhood. There are some nice houses for sale, but no parking areas, driveways or garages attached to them…street parking only, which makes car maintenance hard. But the squirrels are very handsome and cooperative. There was also a very Easter Island-ish sculpture that had been dressed in mosaic.

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Handsome Squirrel

On our second go-around, the place was open. It is decorated with mid-century home decor….my mom had a clock like one of these and the kids with the really big eyes are familiar to any baby boomer. The place is run by a man and wife team and a cook, and the food is good, if a bit over-cooked. Grandpa Nelson enjoyed the french fries, Auntie Bridgett the turkey burger sliders, and me, the spaetzel and speck (that’s German noodles and dried ham). A good dark German beer washed it down very satisfactorily. I wish I could remember the name of the beer, but it escapes me. (Maybe it was the second beer).

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The Slide Inn

As we ordered and ate, the Slide Inn filled up with families and friends. The happy hour prices are good (our whole spread of food and drinks was $40) and the people are friendly, but the service was a bit forgetful. We got an order of gnocchi we didn’t order, and waited quite a while for an order of yam fries.

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My Mom’s clocks!

After dinner, we headed off to feed Aunt Katie’s kittens, do the grocery shopping, and crash at home. Another day in PDX.

 

Love,

Grandma Judy