Sunnyside in Summer

Dear Liza,

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.

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!



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

Baby Grapes







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


Grandma Judy

Lettuce Turnip the Beet!

Into Summer

Dear Liza,

Hollyhocks and day lilies, living together, mass hysteria!

Now that is is officially summer, our evening walks have moved from six o’clock to more like 7:30. It stays light until nine and it feels silly to waste all that lovely sunlight!

Yesterday evening Auntie Bridgett and I  walked around the neighborhood and noticed that the flowers are really exploding. Sweet peas, roses, day lilies and hollyhocks are shooting up out of the ground like the police are after them.

Sweet peas!

Even the sunflowers are getting tall and majestic. The bees all seem to be prosperous and busy.

Bee on a leaf

We met a new cat, a very friendly young lady with beautiful markings and a tag that declares her to be “The Princess.” She not just allowed, but demanded, that we pet her, squeaking in a very royal voice.

The Princess in all her glory

On the way home we passed The Belmont Inn, and stopped in for a few games of Monster Bash, our favorite pinball game. We played together for a few, then went head-to-head. My score of six million made me very proud until Auntie Bridgett whupped me with forty-four million!!! Holy smokes, I need more practice!

Bridgett’s score!!

Aw, shucks. More pinball….


Grandma Judy

Murals, Ghosts and History

Dear Liza,

The other day Auntie Bridget and I passed the completed murals at Belmont and 33rd. We had seen them worked on all summer and fall. There are ten panels. This is what my favorite one looked like, months ago:

As we looked, we realized they were all images specific to our neighborhood of Sunnyside. There is the trolley car that brought residents here from downtown in the 1890s. There is the community garden…. and is that The Pied Cow?

Let me explain. The Pied Cow is a quirky coffeehouse located in a distinctive old house on Belmont Avenue. There is always this black Cadillac parked out front. It has a Haunted Mansion feel….spooky, but in a friendly, benevolently ghosty sort of way.

And that house is in the mural, with a lady ghost hovering above it. Hmmmmmm. The mural also shows another old house just around the corner, an equally distinctive structure, with bats coming out of it. Hmmmm again.

We walked and stared and took pictures. Then we went home and researched. There are indeed stories of the J.C. Havely House, which now houses the Pied Cow, being haunted by a benevolent ghost called Aunt Lydia. We can’t nail down WHOSE Aunt Lydia was, though. Mr. Havely, the railroad tycoon who built the house in 1893? A more recent resident? The answers are vague.

We spent a good deal of time reading and learning, then went and did stuff that needed doing. Auntie Bridgett did some collages and I continued organizing my office.

When dinnertime came, we knew we would go to the Pied Cow and see what we could learn. As we were walking around the block, we passed a young lady walking an extremely old dog. While we were sitting at our table in the yard, Bridgett looked up and saw this same young lady on the balcony on the restaurant, watering potted plants.

“Is that dog the one in the window, in the mural?” She asked. Phone, photo, check. Yes! It is! So the mural not only shows the house’s history, but its present! I am impressed. Intrigued. And I want to know more.

Why is the other house, a Queen Anne style built in the same year by Thaddeus Fisher, included in the mural? Is it also haunted? It is shown with bats coming out… did someone have bats in their belfry? Hmmmmm again.

The Belmont Murals, painted by Mado Hues in cooperation with the Portland Street Art Association, show a remarkable visual language. They answer questions you didn’t know you were asking and make you want to know more. That, in my opinion, is what art is supposed to do.

I love Portland!


Grandma Judy