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

Smiling Anyway II

Dear Liza,

It was nice to see you, your Mommy and your Daddy on our Mother’s Day ZOOM call yesterday. It was nice to visit with Auntie Katie, too. I am surrounded, as much as I can be, by people who love me. That is a real gift.

Auntie Bridgett and I even got out for a bit of a walk. We avoided the park, because we had seen dozens folks heading that direction and knew it would be too crowded to safely social distance. We walked through our Sunnyside neighborhood and enjoyed seeing flowers, kids on bikes, and even a “Free to a good home” bicycle sitting on the corner. I hope it finds someone nice.

We were happy to see Stumptown Coffee open, and got an iced coffee to help our closest coffee shop. I found the image of the day there, in this magnificent lupine growing out front. The angle of the sun was such that it highlights the Aalto Bar, which isn’t even open now, but that’s the way the photograph clicks sometimes.

We also found this cartoon by a local artist, posted on a telephone pole, that sort of said it all for me at that moment. Amidst the flames, we sit in our houses and cope. “This is fine,” we say.

So, for now, I will be fine, even when I’m not. I will appreciate and relish the beautiful while quietly acknowledging the underlying “What the Heck?” aspects of our current situation. It’s a delicate balance.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Out and About, Properly Masked

Dear Liza,

Yes, Portland does spring very well

After getting to chat with our neighbors last evening, I felt less like a hermit who wanted to stay in her cave. Today I got my mask on and walked three pleasant miles around the neighborhood.

I headed east on Belmont, because I knew heading UP hill first would make the return trip easier. I enjoyed the feeling of really warm sun on my face, and the incredible blooms that Portland offers in spring.

The view from under Historic Tree # 241

I passed Heritage tree #241, a wonderful Japanese Maple at the corner of 37th and SE Alder. It shades about 50 square feet of yard and sidewalk, stands 30 feet tall, and is simply a beautiful thing. It also gave me the metaphor of the day, The Light At The End Of The Tunnel. It’s more about getting past despair than the virus at this point. And it’s coming soon.

Down on Hawthorne Street, I stopped at one of the few places still serving lunch, The Whole Bowl. Its tiny dining room was closed, but they were still serving wonderful spicy bowls for a good price. I was happy to eat, and they were happy for the business!

Healthy fabulous-ness from Whole Bowl

I noticed all the businesses we love that are closed for now, and wondered how many will be able to open again. Zach’s Shack, Belmont Books, even Powell’s, a branch of the mighty local bookstore. They are all suffering from loss or total lack of business.

Then I saw a bench with words of hope, finished my lunch in the sun, and cheered up. Passing a million more azaleas, lilacs, and dogwoods on the way, I headed home.

Lilacs

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

Unexpected Warmth in Winter Greys

Dear Liza,

Mood lighting and menu

Yep, it’s still winter here… dark, grey, and drippy. Last night we needed to get out of the house, but it was too nasty to walk very far. Our first choice, the Suzette Creperie, was closed, so we stopped by a tiny place we have walked past a thousand times, called Rendezvous Vous. Since it was early, we were the first customers in.

There was interesting lighting and an appealing informality about the place… tables of different heights and styles, a few velvet sofas and chairs. A tall bookcase made of old doors held books and games, Star Wars Monopoly among them.

We were waved at by Norah, who seemed to be running the place by herself. She got us water, and got us some wine. I had a Bordeaux and Grandpa Nelson got a Chilean Pinot Noir. Both were tasty… really different from each other, but tasty. The Bordeaux had the dark balance of most Bordeaux wines, and the Pinot was sharp, like cider.

Soft and warm, just what was needed…

We enjoyed the music… Frank Sinatra, Pink Martini, and cool jazzy covers of old rock and roll songs. After a while an older fellow came in and sat at the bar, reading his newspaper and chatting with Norah. We got the feeling he was a regular.

We ordered our dinner. Mati, something totally new, for me, and tuna poke for Auntie Bridgett. Turns out, Mati is a dish of small beef dumplings in a garlicky, tomatoey, yogurt sauce, and absolutely delicious!

I ate and enjoyed the combination of wine, spice, music, and soft lighting, and being in a new place.

When we got home, I had to brush my teeth three times before I could get a kiss goodnight! The garlic sauce, tasty as it was, had real staying power. I will remember to tread more lightly next time (burp.)

Love,

Grandma Judy

Art Pop-Up

Dear Liza,

Our color box neighborhood

This weekend we got to meet some more Portland artists!

Auntie Bridgett and her new umbrella

Auntie Bridgett and I walked through a light rain to Dona White’s house and met her, Kass Battin and Bobby Mathews, and had a wonderful chat while enjoying their art. The art looked especially fine hanging against the bright wallpapers.

Dona White with some of her work

Dona White paints in many styles; abstracts, figures, and a wild, fun Impressionism.

Bobby Mathews paints people, animals and country scenes with a light, humorous style. Some are taken from old family photos and others from visits to farms that surround the Portland are.

Bobby Mathews and “Ladies in Hats”

Kass Battin is a woman after my own heart, a quilter. She and I chatted for quite a while about sewing machines (she has a fine Bernina) and fabric shops ( we share our love of Cool Cottons). I loved her use of bright colors contrasted with black and white prints.

Kass Battin and my favorite quilt

We enjoyed our visit very much, and headed out into the nearly clearing skies and made it home in time for lunch.

Sunlight through leaves

Love,

Grandma Judy

Accident

Dear Liza,

Today while I was out walking, a lady named Susan got hit by a truck while crossing Belmont Street at 35th Avenue. I was the second person to stop at the scene.

A gentleman driving a brand new Toyota Tacoma truck had slowed down for a cyclist crossing Belmont going north, and started up again, not seeing Susan over the very high hood of his truck. He stopped again immediately, but she was already hurt and sitting on the pavement just in front of his truck, bleeding from her right temple.

EMTs asses the situation

The first witness was already calling 911, so I sat down next to Susan there in the street. I asked her name, if she lived nearby, letting her know that help was on the way and that she was in good hands.

I noticed that Susan was holding a ‘poop bag’ and asked if she had been walking her dog. Yes, she nodded. The first witness told me she had gotten the dog out of the intersection and tied him to a sign nearby. I stuck around, sitting by the dog, letting the EMTs know the pup belonged to their patient. Another passerby stopped and petted the dog for a while.

A doctor pulled over and she took control, talking to Susan and taking her vital signs. Within 5 minutes the Fire Department, Police and EMTs arrived, working their magic to close the intersection, collect information, and care for Susan.

Susan gets gurneyed onto the ambulance

Before I left, Susan’s daughter came and took possession of the dog, who willingly went with the welcome, familiar face.

Scared little dude

As Susan had a neck brace applied and was loaded into the ambulance, I stood, catching my breath from this vicariously scary adventure. I said thanks to everyone who had made this less awful for Susan. I was grateful to see that good people stop and care for strangers, even in a big city.

Love,

Grandma Judy