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,

This is a re-post from last winter. I don’t feel up to writing this morning. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

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 Nour, 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 Nour. We got the feeling he was a regular.

We ordered our dinner. Manti, something totally new for me, and tuna poke for Auntie Bridgett. Turns out, Manti 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

Christmas Walks

Dear Liza,

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Azaleas in December!

I know I will have lots of Christmas pictures to share with you, but they will come tomorrow. Auntie Bridgett and I went for a walk to the market (who knew we didn’t have any tomato paste?) and saw some lovely things. A friendly cat came out to check our credentials.

 

We saw another cat in a window, looking very warm and cozy, while this hummingbird mocked her from the top of a very bare tree. There was also n early blooming azalea making the world pretty.

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Hummingbird being still

 

 

We talked to a man about the tree by his door, which is blooming, in mid-winter. He said it is called a viburnum, and that he planted it precisely because in the cold dark, it would bloom and smell sweetly. There is also a Daphne bush, which we have by our front door! I look forward to all the lovely scents coming soon.

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Viburnum

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And by Sunnyside School, we found this posting of neighborhood friendliness. We just took one, because we already feel pretty full of love, with family, friends, home and hearth so close.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Cats in Portland

Dear Liza,

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Creepy hairless cat doubts our sincerity

With all the walking we do around the neighborhoods, we get to see a lot about people’s lives. We see them moving in or out, jump starting dead batteries, arguing with their children, picking the fruit in their gardens, and helping pull fallen branches from the street.

We see a lot of dogs being walked… on leashes and off, poking along behind, dashing ahead, or being wheeled in carriages. Portland is a very big dog-city. I heard that 50% of the households have one or more dogs. That’s millions of dogs!

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A Mariposo at the Symphony

I do enjoy the dogs. I love seeing the dog-joy on display when the leash is unclipped and they run at top speed, just because they can. I love how dogs are part of people’s lives wherever we go.

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Kitten showing super powers

But you know me. I am a cat person. Their joy of sleep, their short list of needs, their “yeah, you feed me, but  let’s not make a big deal about it” attitude.

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This cat, on this corner. Always.

Cats in Portland are mostly people friendly. They will saunter up to be petted, or dash over as if checking our credentials. They roll to be petted or stoically stand their ground. What they don’t do as much is run away. These are confident cats.

I enjoy their company very much.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Thanks for petting me, now go away. New people are coming!

Sunnyside in Summer

Dear Liza,

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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.

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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!

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

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Baby Grapes

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

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Lettuce Turnip the Beet!

Into Summer

Dear Liza,

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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.

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Sweet peas!

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

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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.

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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!

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Bridgett’s score!!

Aw, shucks. More pinball….

Love,

Grandma Judy