First Bicycle Adventure of the Year

Dear Liza,

With warm and sunny weather in the forecast, it was only a matter of time before someone said, “We should go out for a bike ride.” This year, it was Auntie Bridgett.

So we did! There was some time spent pumping up tires and untangling bungee cords, but very soon we were off! Grandpa Nelson and Bridgett wore shorts, but I don’t own any! I wore jeans.

We decided to stay on “Greenways”, which are regular streets, but designated as “Bikes have the right of way”, and on special bikes-only paths. This means we didn’t have to worry about getting run over by cars. Always a good thing.

We headed down 34th to the Clinton neighborhood. I thought we were going for ice cream, but we kept going and going. We crossed the railroad tracks using the overpass, and the elevator was surprisingly working! It was very cool.

Not so surprisingly, we found ourselves at Grandpa Nelson’s favorite place : The Tilikum Bridge.

We hopped off the bikes and enjoyed the views of the river right below us and Mount Hood, covered in snow almost a hundred miles away. We were being watched over by a light fixture that looks like something from Star Wars.

But we were feeling the miles and the sun, and decided to head back towards home and find some nourishment. We found another branch of Broder, the Scandinavian restaurant we have enjoyed in the Mississippi neighborhood. Not needing lunch but desperate for sugar and hydration, we ordered ableskivers, lemonade, and cucumber soda. What a treat!

Ableskivers are a Danish speciality, round-like-the-globe doughnutty pieces of fabulousness, and are served with lemon curd and lingonberry jam. We stuffed ourselves and slurped the sweet sodas. It was wonderful.

Eventually, though, we did need to start back. I was dreading going back up the hill, but once I figured out my gearshift ( I have to re-learn it every year) I was fine.

We pulled in, parked the bikes, drank more water, and pretty much crashed. We had only done four miles, but with muscles that hadn’t used in more than two years.

We will get out for another ride soon, I hope!

Love,

Grandma Judy

More Spring Color

Dear Liza,

I finally felt like going out for a walk after being sick for a week, and the spring flowers did not disappoint.

I did a short turn around the neighborhood as the sun dipped below the clouds on its way down. There were so many dogs out walking their people, I wished you were here to pet all of them.

The azaleas and irises are teaming up for a one-two punch of pink and purple.

Yep, it is mighty nice to be out in the world again.

Love,

Grandma Judy

To Modern Times

Dear Liza,

We had walked a few miles towards the river, and there was some sort of disturbance involving lots of Police cars a few blocks north. It seemed like a good time to settle in somewhere.

So we walked into Modern Times, a cafe and restaurant on Belmont Street. We have gone past it hundreds of times on the bus, so I was more than happy to see it from the inside.

We were shown a table by the bar in a high ceilinged, bright room. We were two of only five people in the place. We weren’t hungry, and since this is a brewery, I ordered one if their dark beers which is made on site. Black House coffee stout was sweet and rich and just about perfect.

The decor of Modern Times, as seen through the huge windows, has always intrigued me. It looks as though very clever murals were created out of party decorations!

It was mind bending, actually. Cartoons posters and those puffy paper fans were all over one wall.

On the wall leading up the stairway, dozens of small donkey pinatas were applied right side up and upside down. A sign notified us that touching the art was punishable by death.

And looming over it all was a mural, at least thirty feet high, created out of party streamers. It was bright, bold, and completely unexpected. I stared and stared!

We enjoyed our drinks and learned that Modern Times is actually a chain of eateries and breweries, and employs a staff of artists (much like the McMenamin Brothers do) to create art for their venues as well as beer and cider labels, tee shirts, and other goodies.

We took the elevator up to the roof top patio, and enjoyed more quirky art. These hanging designs, created from plastic kitchen and storage baskets, moved gently in the wind and were just charming.

There were fire pits, as well, and views of downtown across the river. Big Pink, of course, was beautiful seen through the flames.

By the time we had seen everything, the police had managed whatever they needed to manage down on the street, and we walked up to catch the number 15 bus home.

Just another adventure in the city!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Pup Tent Flowers and Gifts

Dear Liza,

One thing I love about going for long walks is that you never know what you’re going to learn.

Grandpa Nelson and I headed south the other day, and ”almost accidentally”stopped at Palio Bakery in Ladd’s Addition for snacks and coffee. While we were there, we texted Auntie Katie, who came by and shared our cake. We caught up on news, and then it was time for the Cousins to be coming home from school!

Down at Books with Pictures, I found something new. Amareta Gregor has opened up her new business, Pup Tent Flowers and Gifts, out of Auntie Katie’s garage!

I asked how this came about, and Amareta said that she just walked into Books with Pictures, introduced herself to Katie and said, “How would you like a flower shop?” And she did!

Amareta’s business is mostly pop-up and delivery, but she also has display space in the garage.

After hugs and a chat with Jasper and Kestrel, we walked through the Clinton neighborhood, passing the historic Clinton Theater, where they still show The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday at Midnight.

As the weather is getting colder, these long walks will be out in hold until Spring, but I sure love walking around town!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Painting the Piazza

Dear Liza,

This past Saturday , we got to be part of a great neighborhood project! The Portland Street Art Alliance teamed up with Sunnyside Neighborhood Association and made this wonderful thing happen.

Will and Ashe, the organizers, sent emails out and called for volunteers to come paint a giant, seven-colored sunflower that filled at the intersection of SE Yamhill and 33rd Avenue.

Will, one of our leaders

The primer was laid down Friday afternoon and the yellows and oranges went down Saturday.

Chalk lines and numbered spaces guided us in an oversized paint by number game. Folks from age 7 to at least 65 (me) came to help. There were more than a dozen folks on the flower at any time, and it moved along quickly.

The Plan

When our knees were shot and our backs were tired, we headed home, knowing we had been part of making our neighborhood better. It felt good!

Love,

Grandma Judy

A Bird Walk… of Sorts

Dear Liza,

We three took a really long walk Saturday! And there were an unusual number of birds.

First, we visited a flock of plastic flamingos that started out on a front lawn last year and seems to be migrating. One has even adapted to living in a tree!

Then we stopped by to visit the Taylor Street chickens. We had remembered to bring quarters so we could buy some feed for them. Bridgett chatted to them and she was their new best friend.

It was so warm that we stopped for a minute in one of the little sidewalk arbors. This one even has tiny red lights strung up in the branches. We will have to come by some evening to see it all lit up.


We stopped at Zach’s for hot dogs, french fries, and some cold sodas to get re-energized.


After lunch we headed south for our next destination, but before we got there, we found more chickens!


This happy brood of three hens were out in their portable coop in their front yard on 47th Street. Their owners had posted signs with information about them , and it was just like Farm Day. They even listed foods we could bring to feed the ladies, which include soft fruits and veggies.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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