Sunday, Busy Sunday Part 1

Dear Liza,

What a Sunday! First there was LaBrie’s “Two artists clean out their basement” garage sale, where we found fabrics, watercolor palettes, fabric trims, some cool old clothes and vintage postcards. There were lots of folks and everyone found something they needed to take home.

Everyone was masked and very respectful of personal distancing, and we felt safe and happy while we shopped.

La Brie, our hostess…

We carried our goodies home and had a snack. I realized that these trims are going to find a place in this season’s work on my “Big Map of Portland.”

I put it away early this Spring, and it seems like time to bring it out and put some more layers on. These odd bits of color may be just what is needed. Of course, I see that I still need to embroider the Steel Bridge…. And put some lovely swirly bits in the Willamette River.

The Big Map as it is now….

On to further adventures!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Seen on the Sidewalks

Dear Liza,

Portland is a big city, which I sometimes forget here in our little neighborhood. There about 650,000 people just in the city, and lots more in the surrounding area.

And as a big city, we see all sorts of odd, unexplainable things. Here are some of them.

…A sparkly mask outside the Electric Castle’s Wunderland, which is very popular for kids’ birthday parties.

A cartoon of a grumpy Dennis the Menace calling someone a “Nerd”.

And a sign showing that the city is making sure the local squirrels are safe.
Have a good weekend! See you soon!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Summer in the Sunnyside

Dear Liza,

I have been taking care of Auntie Katie’s cats this week while she is on vacation. This means I have been getting to walk in different parts of the neighborhood.

There are cool old houses and huge trees in our Sunnyside, Richmond and Ladd’s Addition neighborhoods. I love the bright colors!


There are dozens of pieces of art put in place just to amuse people.


The weird Morrison Mini Art Gallery….

And there are generous folks who share their ripe fruit right off the trees with anyone who wants it.


I sure like our neighborhood!

Love,

Grandma Judy

First Jog

Dear Liza,

Between the Covid lockdown and our cold wet weather, it has been a pretty slothful winter. There have been short walks to the market and out for hot dogs, but no long hikes to Sellwood or the Pearl District, and lots of cookies and potato chips. I was feeling like a bear in hibernation, or a kitten on a lap….Comfy, but a bit overstuffed.

The spring weather, along with jeans that just stopped fitting, has inspired me to get off my Grandma Judy butt and get some exercise. I bought new sneakers (my old ones literally fell apart just after the shut down) and Aunt Bridgett and I headed out.

My big investment… Wooloomooloo shoes!

Years ago, we started running. We’d walk to the Hartnell College track, jog a few miles around, and walk back home. But we went too fast, or twisted a foot, and the joy got lost. We stopped.

When Auntie Bridgett and I decided to start again, we had to dig our old exercise clothes out of the bottom of the drawers. We did lots of stretches so we didn’t break anything, and we set off around the neighborhood. It was fun going down streets, waving at folks out gardening.

Our lovely neighborhood

We stopped (after a paltry ten blocks, but it’s a start!) at our garden plot, to water and check things out. It felt so good to be moving! We ended our day on a healthy note, with a chicken and beet salad with all sorts of greens and nuts for dinner.

And this morning, I woke up feeling… Fabulous! No strains, so sore legs, just clear headed and healthy. So, after our writing time and French lesson on Duolingo, we headed out again. We went a block further and ran a bit faster, and got home with no damage done.

I will keep you posted on our progress. Stay well!

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Sunny Afternoon Out

Dear Liza,

The other day, Grandpa Nelson offered us lunch out at Monster Smash. It is a pleasant mile’s walk away and has yummy burgers and fries.
Belmont Station, the tavern just in front of the food truck, sells good beers and ciders. They also have a bright breezy patio with windows that open all the way up, making for a pleasant airy environment, more eating outside than inside!

The breezy patio at Belmont Station

We enjoyed the yummy burgers and such, and Grandpa Nelson had an English Reveille’s Cider, which is actually made in Astoria, Oregon, just about 90 miles from here.

When we had eaten ourselves silly, we headed down Belmont towards home, and along the way we found a new food truck pod, The Bite on Belmont. Auntie Bridgett found the coffee she was needing from Kind Coffee. It was tasty and the service was very friendly.

We made a quick stop for a six pack of Guinness at the Belmont Market and a to order a book at Belmont Books, and headed for home. We put our feet up and rested up for the Giants ball game later this evening.

I love that we manage to keep each other entertained!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Living in Layers

Dear Liza,

Before I moved to Portland, I lived in Salinas, where the land is very flat. The wide Salinas Valley runs for about a hundred miles, wide and flat. Down most streets you can see a long way.

Looking about half a mile down Alisal

Portland has a river, too, bigger and wider than the Salinas, but the Willamette hasn’t flattened things out much.

One of the few unobstructed views in town… down the river!

Portland has lots of hills and lots of trees. Looking at anything more than a block away involves looking through things. And I am loving it.

Having to look through things and past things makes my brain work harder, and ask questions.

Is it the house I love, or the view of the house beyond the rock garden and blossoms?

Would this flower look as lovely if it were all by itself? (Probably not, I answer myself).

And why does the moon just look prettier through trees?

Anyway, I hope you love the street you live on as much as I love mine!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Front Porch Jazz is Back!

Dear Liza,

Spring is here, a particularly warm and sunny spring, and Front Porch Jazz has returned, as well.

Such a bright afternoon!

On Sunday afternoons, weather permitting, Gordon Lee and a very talented group of musicians perform on his front porch, just a few blocks from our house. The porch is at a quiet intersection with almost no traffic. So Gordon puts a sign out and folks bring chairs, wine and food, and sit on the sidewalks or right in the middle of the street. Large upturned buckets set up warn any drivers of what’s going on.

The Band……


The band has a keyboard, stand-up bass, drums, and alto sax. They play classics like Spring is Here and Cantaloupe Island (my favorite Herbie Hancock song) as well as Gordon’s original compositions like Pendulum Swings and Tobacco Monkey.

Our seats in the shade


The music is great, the camaraderie is amazing, and the vibe is most definitely Portland.


Good Portland. Positive Portland. Funky, happy, neighborly Portland.

And the decor was great.

Borrowed beauty….

Love,

Grandma Judy

Walkin’ the Neighborhood

Dear Liza,

I love where we live! Sunnyside, in Southeast Portland, is the best!

Grandpa Nelson, chatting on the balcony

There are hundred year old houses, townhouses like ours, and brand new builds. Some of the trees were planted last year, and others have been here a long, long time. Heritage tree number 241, a Japanese maple, has probably been in the front yard of this house since it was built in the 1920s.

Because of how closely the trees and houses are spaced, winter, when the trees are bare, is the only time to get a picture of it.

Sunnyside was started in the 1890s as a trolley car neighborhood. Folks would live here, a few miles from the mud and stink of downtown, and be able to take the newly installed trolley cars to work.

From the 1900s…..

Back then, the houses and lots were bigger.

As the city became more crowded, newer houses were built in between the original ones. Each was built in its own style. These three very different houses stand within two blocks of each other.

1950s….


…. and 2020!

There are some industrial buildings that are being up-cycled, as well. Jacob’s Garage, which housed the trucks for the Belmont Dairy, is now a set of very cool condominiums, having kept its brick-Ish charm.

Every walkabout shows us new things! As flowers come up and trees leaf out, some of the hard lines are masked and softened, but the architecture of the turn of the century is still here if you know how to look.

Besides, where else can you find a tiny free library right next to a dinosaur-infested dogwood tree?

I can’t wait to share it with you!

Love,

Grandma Judy

The First After-Dinner Walk

Dear Liza,

Spring is coming, which means warmer weather, and more daylight! Instead of waking up in darkness and eating dinner after sunset, we actually have daylight left after dinner for a walk around the neighborhood.

My dad, your great-grandpa Lowell, was a great fan of sunsets. He would pull over, if we were on the road, to stand and watch as the sky changed color and the day ebbed away. He would get quiet, saying thanks for another good day.


And Monday, we went out to see our first sunset of spring. We only needed sweaters, which was a nice surprise. Two weeks ago, we were shoveling snow.

Our hilly Sunnyside neighborhood is heavily wooded and built up, with thousands of deciduous trees planted over the last hundred years mixing with old Victorian homes and newer condominiums. This makes for delightful neighborhood walking, but hard to get a long view of … well, of anything. But the silhouettes are beautiful.

I am just happy to get out and about! Grandpa Nelson in on the vaccination list, and I will be soon. Then maybe we can make some travel plans.

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Neighborhood Favorite

Dear Liza,

We have lived in this neighborhood for a few years now. We go for walks in all weathers and all seasons, and have come to expect and enjoy some of the majestic, lovely, and quirky icons in folks’ gardens.

The Heron as the February snow is melting…

This wonderful heron, for example. Made of brass and perched in the front corner of a garden, he always looks like he could just turn his head and wink at us.

In winter he stands in the middle of chilly sticks, with the oddly decorated house next door clearly visible.

The same crane last May, with everything in bloom

Come spring, though, his location becomes more secretive, surrounded by leafy protection. Sometimes I have to look carefully just to find him!

I love that the seasons change so much of our neighborhood. Every few months, it’s a whole new place.

Love,

Grandma Judy