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

Big Little Yards

Dear Liza,

I grew up in the suburbs of Southern California, in a town with ranch style houses on good sized lots, with flat, green lawns front and back. They were a lot like your yard in Salinas.

Our dear Peevee heading home from a party

Now I live in Portland, where the houses are close together and the yards are smaller, but they sure are packed with fun, flowers, and even fruit, come summer.
There is apparently a large Faerie folk population in Portland, as evidenced by the number of fairy houses and doorways set into trees. This tiny neighborhood is home to fairies, plastic soldiers and Disney action figures, all living together in harmony.

Diverse Fairy town

Animals are a common theme in garden decoration. This fence top is home to a half dozen hand crafted birds. As the metal ages, they just become more beautiful! Sometimes a real bird will perch right next to a metal one and make Portland even weirder.

Just a bird on a fence…..

Our area of Southeast Portland has been developing since the 1860s, so there have been lots of houses built, and lots torn down. A law here requires that houses of a certain age be dismantled piece by piece, so toxic things like lead can be contained, and antique parts can be preserved. These bits often end up as decorative highlights, as in this Victorian ceiling panel turned garden fence.

Second life for old decor!

And of course, concrete garden haunts. Our damp, cool weather allows gargoyles and ducks to be beautiful while shrouded in snow, or overgrown with flowers.

Garden creatures in Winter….
And in Spring!

In every season, the tiny gardens are lovely and always show me something new.

Love,

Grandma Judy

…And Back Again

Dear Liza,

Once I got to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge, I had intended to head right back home, but my Dad’s voice whispered “Go home a different way, so you see something different.”

Art made with cables and sky

So I continued across the bridge to the Westside. The pedestrian walkway has recently been finished and makes for a very pleasant, if warm, walk between the bridges. There were more adventurers out and about.

Kayakers out and about

I found Poet’s Beach, a side path lined with stones that are carved with poetry written by students, years ago.

Thanks, Phoebe!

It is loud, because it is right under the double decker Marquam Bridge, but worth a read and a visit.

The extremely loud Marquam Bridge

By this time, my feet and my phone batteries were telling me it was time to head home. I decided to cross back over the Hawthorne Bridge. I love the views of bridges from other bridges!

The Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges… from the Hawthorne.

Of course, political statements are everywhere. I liked this re-purposed public service message.

You can see a lot of Portland from bridges, too. Joggers, cyclists, the Burnside Bridge and the Convention Center are all in these shots.

Once I was back on the Eastside, I realized I was hungry, and came upon Asylum, a food Court on the site of Dr. Hawthorne’s Oregon State Hospital for the Insane. This much-respected institution stood from 1862 to 1883. It closed when the good Doctor died and burned to the ground a few years later.

The space has a steampunk cartoony vibe, with trash containers that made me laugh, and really tasty food.

I had pot stickers from the Thai place and enjoyed some people and art watching.

The Asylum gates ….

Once I was fed, I still had a mile walk, all uphill, to get home. I paced myself, admiring gardens, appreciating shade, and visiting with nice folks. I had done what I had intended to do, walked a total of 6.2 miles, and it felt good.

By the way, as you can tell, Portland is not “in flames”. We are fine. The protests are being exploited by the President and his allies who want to use Portland as an excuse to use strong arm tactics against his political enemies. He is lying.

Took the words out of my mouth!

Stay alert, stay well, and remember I love you.

Grandma Judy

Signs of Love

Dear Liza,

With all of us staying in our houses, chatting with folks has become a much rarer thing. We can chat with neighbors for a minute or two when we sit on our balcony, but they are all in their way somewhere.

Conversations with strangers, which is one of the best things about living in a city, have almost come to a complete halt. Folks scurry by behind their masks, not wanting to give or catch the virus.

But people need to communicate. It’s part of our nature and it leaks out all over the place.

Advice from neighbors…

And, on my walks in the neighborhood, these little things make my heart smile.

……making sure we know that their Naked Ladies are for us to enjoy…
Love Wins is a big theme here, one I thoroughly endorse

We have places we go, knowing which hours are best to find them uncrowded. Zach’s Shack, the HobNob, and Rendezvous all have outdoor seating, tasty food and friendly folks.

It IS special. Life IS short.

We have recently learned that another favorite haunt, The Rocking Frog, will be closing down and moving somewhere else in a few months, when their lease is up. With so many businesses closing and other changes happening so fast, we truly need to remember to show signs of Love while we can.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Celebrating Health

Dear Liza,

Nothing makes you want to get out and about like spending a long day in a hospital. So after Wednesday’s eternal visit to the Emergency Room, I took Grandpa Nelson on a long walk. We went all the way to Mt. Tabor Park.

A fence with benefits!

Mt. Tabor is a 636 foot high dormant volcano right here in Southeast Portland, two and a half miles from our house. We started after coffee -and-crossword puzzles, when it was sunny but still cool.

Portlands’s own mythical animal

I love walking through new neighborhoods! I always discover beautiful and unusual houses, gardens, and …. well, things. These sheet copper fence-toppers, shaped like silhouettes of a squirrel, a dog, and Sasquatch, tickled me.

Who knew?

Further on, we found the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum, with a small handmade boat in the window, as well as books and other information. It is closed for now, of course, but is delightfully dusty and quirky. According to the website, the collection is mostly full-sized functional replicas of traditional small craft, created by Harvey Goldman, “to augment his research”. Peering through the window, I could just make out the outlines of more than a dozen narrow boats up on racks.

Yep, that’s the frame for a kayak!

As we got closer to Mt. Tabor, the hill got steeper, and we slowed down a bit. It was getting warmer and we were starting to run out of gas. We were thinking maybe we had violated my Dad’s rule of “only walking until you are halfway tired.”

We’re going here…. not all the way up there!

But we soon saw the long stretch of grass that is the off leash dog park, continued past the community garden, and found some shade. We sat and delighted in watching the world go by as we caught our breaths.

Grandpa Nelson, feeling shady…

Tomorrow, I will tell you about our return trip!

Love,

Grandma Judy