Long Walk to the River….

Dear Liza,

I woke up Tuesday feeling the need to take charge of something, to get out and DO.The weather was predicted to be cool in the morning and get really warm by noon, so whatever I was going to do had to happen early.

Bright changing leaves dazzle the eye…

So, right after coffee and before Grandpa Nelson was out of bed, I headed off for a long walk through the Fall sunshine. I headed toward the river. This is sort of cheating because it is all down hill, but the neighborhood is wonderful.

I found this poem by Jellaludin Rumi framed in a safe place. I liked the sentiment, but also the way my reflection got into the picture. It made this idea of “being human” even more human!

“This Being Human” by Rumi

I continued through Ladd’s Addition and into the more industrial part of the Southeast. This fabulous mural, with live plants for hair, was painted by Fin DAC and is called “Attitude of Gratitude.” The building houses a fancy Cuban restaurant on the ground floor and apartments above, and the main office of Solterra, a company that makes vertical planters like the lady’s hair.

Attitude of Gratitude

The area by the railroad tracks and warehouses is a bit run down, but in the bright sunshine, with the river and West Hills just beyond, everything looked pretty.

A bit cluttered, but very pretty…

After about an hour of solid walking, I found the Willamette River! On this sunny day, it was busy with kayakers, jet skis, and motorboats, all dancing on the sparkling water.

The mighty Willamette River

Tilikum Crossing Bridge is the newest bridge in the city and my absolute favorite. It was built in 2015 just for transit and pedestrians.The blue of the sky and the white cables made for a lovely sight. Mount Hood, just sixty miles away, was barely visible through the haze to the East.

Not so far away Mt. Hood

I spent quite a lot of time on the bridge, soaking up the breeze and the sunshine.

Built with no right angles, to let the wind spill off

But where to go next? I’ll tell you tomorrow!

Happy me!


Grandma Judy

North to Dixon Street

Dear Liza,

Union Station Tower

I am still researching about Portland history, and I’m learning so much! Besides the history, I am learning about how to get around Portland without driving. Yesterday I needed to get to 501 North Dixon, a part of town I had never been in. That’s where the Portland Public Schools keep their archives.

Googlemaps told me there was no transit solution, and I should walk. Almost 4 miles, one way? Carrying research on my back? Um, nope. Thanks anyway, Google.

I chatted with Steven Hanks, the fellow at the District who was pulling files for me. He suggested the number 17 bus, which passes within a few blocks of the office. Grandpa Nelson suggested the Portland Streetcar. There were so many options, and the only way to see which was best was to do them. I chose the bus method first, taking the number 15 downtown, walking a few blocks, and catching the 17.

Downtown Portland always show me something new.  This time it was that a 13 block stretch of SW Stark Street was renamed Harvey Milk Street in June of this year. I am proud of my city for recognizing this important gay activist. Well, first I was confused, because I was looking for a bus stop on Stark. But then I was proud.

Catching the 17 took me through the Pearl District and old Chinatown, past the fabulously old Union Station, where people have been catching trains since 1896. Then over the Broadway Bridge and into Northeast Portland. Down in the second sub-basement was Steven, who had found all sorts of wonderful history for me.

Couch School, 1882

As I learn more about schools of 1903, my story keeps adapting. I have been a teacher too long to play fast and loose with facts. So the walking field trip in my story had to get written out, because there were no ‘field trips’ in American elementary schools in the early 1900s. “Kids in school should stay in school”, was the thought. I had included a scene in the school cafeteria, but schools of that time didn’t have them. Kids ate lunches brought from home at their classroom desks. As it is often said, good stories are not written. They are re-written, and re-written…

Heading home, I decided to try Grandpa Nelson’s suggestion, because the Portland Streetcar was as close as the bus. The A Loop runs clockwise, the B Loop, counterclockwise, in a large oval from the Eastside to the Westside of the city. The A Loop would take me within a block of the number 15 for my trip home, so I waited in the Fall sunshine by a delightfully ‘retro’ shelter.

Streetcar stop on NE Weidler

On the streetcar I chatted with folks visiting from Massachusetts and a potter who works at the Radius Community Art Studio, just under the Morrison Bridge. Another new place to explore!

Walking from the Streetcar to the bus stop, I realized I was fading fast and needed a snack. A perfect opportunity to try the NEW place that smells so good: Pufflewaffle! This pretty shop just opened last month. They sell Pufflewaffles, which are unique, cake-like made-to-order waffles which look like tiny round pillows sewn together. They are sweet and light, and rolled around ice cream. After that, I was ready to make my way home, where I rested and thought about how lucky I am to live here.img_1178.jpg


Grandma Judy

Return to the Quilt Show, Part 1

Dear Liza,

Last Hope California by Ginny Hebert

On Friday, Auntie Bridgett took the day off from making art and went with me on an adventure. We took the number 15 bus downtown, walked over to the Yellow Line Train, and rode clear to the end of the line.

There was some drama on the train, as a few people with mental health issues were being loud and a little scary, but Trimet Security folks came and calmed them down and got them off the train. After they all went on their way, we breathed more easily and the train continued north.

Inside the Expo were hundreds of quilts by scores of quilters, as well as demonstrations of the latest sewing machines and gadgets. Auntie Bridgett tried the ABM International Innova embroidery machine, which you drive sort of like a motorcycle! It is bigger than our sofa, and costs a lot more.

Auntie Bridgett plays with toys!

We found a whole series of quilts by Virginia Hammon, called “Money Quilts”. They are all perfectly pieced and machine quilted, and all say something about money, politics, and humanity. These aren’t just pretty quilts: these are politically informed art.

A Money Quilt by Virginia Hammon

I saw quilts that I had noticed and photographed last year, like this lovely map-looking one called “Bee Good, or Be Hungry”, also by Virginia Hammon.

As with all good art, the more I looked, the more I saw. There was a barren white section, quilted in tight city blocks, representing the city. As the city gave way to suburbs and countryside, more colors were introduced and the quilting became looser. The message was clear: make room for bees, or do without their help.

Bee Good or Be Hungry by Virginia Hammon

Along with these very contemporary quilts were Victorian Crazy Quilts from around 1903, found in people’s grandparents’ attics. I love the combination of piecing and embroidery, and the any-way-it-falls- piecing technique. I may need to get out Great Grandma Billie’s velvets and Ruth Andresen’s silks and do something.

1903 Crazy Quilt





I was inspired by so many techniques! The raw-edge machine applique I saw last year has gotten more impressionistic, looking like landscape paintings. I want to use this on my Portland quilt this winter.

Extreme close-up of raw edge applique



Realistic, moving portraits show how quilting and painting can be combined.

Fabulous Portraiture in paint and thread

There was more to see and interesting people to talk to, and I will tell you about the tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Adulting at the Zoo

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett worked all day at the SideStreet Gallery today, so Grandpa Nelson and I went to the Portland Zoo, taking the number 15 bus and Red Line train. Of course, we have been to the zoo with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel, but going with just grown ups is a whole different experience. We were like our own island of calm in a sea of chatting, fussing, small people.

Masai Giraffe

It was a perfectly Portland fall day, cool and cloudy but not raining. The animals were mostly up and about and, since I had no children to keep track of, I could really enjoy the critters.

On our way to the giraffes, which are Grandpa Nelson’s favorites, we stopped at the Columbus monkey enclosure. There was quite a crowd watching the new baby, sitting on a branch with his mom and learning to handle branches. His balance was precarious and every time the branch shifted, the crowd gasped. After a few minutes the father came over, and the baby became much less adventurous, seeming to keep Momma between himself and Big Dad.

Baby Colobus monkey keeps an eye on Dad

The giraffes were delightful, walking elegantly around their enclosure, or leaning gracefully down for a drink. Grandpa Nelson says he likes them because they are quiet.

Having no children to keep track of, I got to watch everyone else’s. This was a zoo-going experience, too, watching this species of small human interact. I loved seeing the kids play with Jim Gion’s bronze sculpture group called Lunch Break, especially this little guy trying to be a cub.


It was also fun to see older siblings explain things to little brothers and sisters. “See this snake? See how you are red? He can tell you’re not a rock, so he can eat you!” And, on cue, the little brother squeals.

Heat sensing snake

Something I had never seen was an elephant enjoying a swim in the big pool. A keeper was fielding questions and telling us all about elephants, while we watched this giant animal duck and squirt in the water like you do in your bathtub. I imagine it’s about has hard to get him out, too, when it is time!

We noticed that the zoo is already getting ready for Zoo Lights, a wonderful night event held in December where the zoo is open very late and all the trees are lit up, and animals made of neon tubes glow and move. It takes weeks to take the lights down after the holidays, more time to refurbish them, and then another few months to put them all back up. But it is a delightful, if chilly, outing that we will certainly do again this year.

Getting ready for Zoo Lights

By the afternoon we were worn out and got back home for snacks and naps, because we had a date for the evening, as well. Auntie Katie’s book store, Books with Pictures, was sponsoring a showing of the 1984 movie, “Supergirl”, at the Hollywood Theater. I had never seen it, since in 1984 I was up to my eyeballs raising your Daddy David and Auntie Katie.

It was exciting to see Katie in her element, sharing her love of comics with a theater full of people. The movie wasn’t fabulous, but it did feature three strong female characters: Supergirl, Lucy Lane (Lois’s younger sister) and the villain, Selena, played by Faye Dunaway in all her evil glory. We enjoyed the silly camp and headed home, totally worn out.

Auntie Katie presenting SuperGirl

For being retired, I am certainly not bored! As my dad always said, “If you’re not having fun, it’s your own darn fault.”


Grandma Judy

Return to the Children’s Museum

Dear Liza,

Kestrel, the Alligator’s Dentist

As I had promised, the cousins and I went back up the hill to Washington Park yesterday to visit the Children’s Museum. Since Grandpa Nelson had to work and I hate driving, we took the number 4 bus and Red Line MAX train to get there.

The Children’s Museum is less of a museum and more of a giant, well designed play environment for kids. There are rooms with set-ups for water play, a farm to table grocery room, a pet hospital, engineering, toy cars, and a theater with costumes, lights and puppets.

Running the Shop

Jasper loves the water room and Kestrel, the theater, and the rooms are close enough together that I can sort of wander between them and keep and eye on both kids. Jasper actually came and found us in the theater, making me very proud of his responsibility and navigation skills.

Jasper the Hydraulics Engineer

After a few hours inside, we stepped out to the Zany Maze to eat the food I had brought. The Museum sells hot dogs and such, but I preferred a day with healthier snacks. Blueberries (from our Sauvie Island trip) and some of Grandpa Nelson’s peanuts and a big jug of water gave us energy for the afternoon.

Instead of going back inside the Museum, we explored the outside area, which has just been re-opened after a long period of development. It is wonderful!

The Outdoor Adventure, starts with The Spring, which has water play combined with sand, water management, buckets, and activities that encourage teamwork. Jasper and Kestrel played with several other kids, two of whom did not speak English at all, but they all understood and helped each other. It was wonderful to see.


We wandered down the trail past the creek, all the way down to The Amphitheater. There was a young lady helping the kids ‘fish’ in a small pool, and a mom teaching her little one about jumping rope. Jasper joined in and did 11 consecutive jumps! He was justifiably proud.

In our last 20 minutes, as energy was waning, we went back inside to see what The Treehouse Adventure room was. Turns out, it is designed for just the sort of activity we needed, a quiet winding down…. there is a tree house to go into and read, or just sit.

We got some going-home snacks, caught the Red Line train, then the Orange Line train, and were home by 3. We started reading Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville, and were on chapter 7 by the time Auntie Katie got home. It’s a great read!

Auntie Katie got home and Kestrel wanted some acrobatics time. Mother and daughter did some pretty nifty balance poses! These poses are ab workouts, mother-daughter time, and cooperation training, all at once. Real Ph.D level parenting, if you ask me.

Acro pose

Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett came a brought me home, and we had dinner. What a lovely day!


Grandma Judy



Goose Hollow and Beyond

Dear Liza,

Getting Around on MAX

My friend Terry Soria is in town! She is visiting her daughter and son-in-law, and she made time to have brunch with me. Her family lives way over on the northwest edge of Portland.

I knew it would be a long trip, so I started early. I caught the number 15 bus at 7:30 and rode up to Providence Park in Goose Hollow. Then I got onto the red line train (blue would have worked as well) and rode through the mountain, past the Washington Park station in the tunnel, to the Sunset transit center. This is where my plans hit a snag. I had planned my trip using the Weekday schedule, and I was traveling on Saturday. The commuter bus, the number 62, runs less often and was going to make me very late to meet Terry and her family.

Terry and the BEST Coffee!

Sweet people that they are, they came to the transit center and fetched me! We drove to Grand Central Bakery, on NW Cornell, and had a wonderful second breakfast of croissants, coffee, and sandwiches. We chatted about how our family’s are, how work is, and how fabulous Portland is. They told me of their visits to the Columbia locks, Multnomah Falls, and the Microbrewery festival. Yum!

And they had another full day planned, an exciting jet boat ride on the Willamette from Portland all the way upriver to Oregon City! So they drove me back to the transit center where I caught the train, along with a dozen happy Japanese tourists heading to the zoo.

Art at Lincoln High School

I have always wanted to see the area of town called Goose Hollow, so I got off the train there and walked. None of the shops were open yet, but I got to see the new construction at Providence Park. Situated just at the foot of the west Portland hills, this has been the main athletic field in town since the late 1800s. It was originally called Multnomah Field, and is where the Portland Timbers soccer team plays. I also enjoyed the mosaic and painted tile artwork along the walls of the Lincoln High School field.

This area is called Goose Hollow because, as the story goes, housewives in the 1800s would let their geese into the grassy area to eat and grow nice and fat before selling them. Apparently it would be quite a sight to see a few dozen geese strutting through field and road, stopping traffic when they pleased. These tall, proud geese are memorialized in a delightfully cocky bronze goose standing on the train platform.

Cool Goose, Dude

Ready to head home, I walked down to Salmon and caught the number 15, finally taking a picture of the salmon coming through the building. In the evening we got to have some more fun, but I will tell you about that tomorrow!



Grandma Judy

Giant Salmon in a Building

Zoo Lights

mouse in window.jpg
Happy Mouse

Dear Liza,

It is still very sunny here. Mouse enjoys sitting in the south facing glass and screen door, feeling the sun and watching the bird and dog action. Fortunately, the door keeps the cold out. The low has been 32 degrees, (freezing, actually freezing) and the high temperature only 44.


Kes at BwP.jpg
Cousin Kestrel reading

Last night Grandpa Nelson and I picked up the Cousins at their school. Then we walked over to Auntie Katie’s shop, Books with Pictures, and we all took the bus and train up to the Oregon Zoo for Zoolights. The train and elevator were packed with families. This is something a lot of zoos do, but it was my first time.

K, K and N at night.jpg
Waiting for the train downtown

At the zoo, since most of the animals are asleep or in dark corners away from the fences, the trees and lights become the attraction. All sorts of animals are outlined in lights.The trees become a fantastic forest of lights with the people just moving shadows underneath. It is eerie and wonderful.

light ostrich .jpg
Glowing Ostriches

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Bremen Town Musicians in lights!

It was also cold! After about an hour, we were feeling chilly and empty. We stepped into the Africafe for corn dogs, hot cocoa and some warm conversation,  and soon were feeling cheerful again. More walking, including racing a lighted cheetah, and then we were done.

Auntie Katie and her dear friend Chelsea drove the tired cousins home, and Grandpa Nelson and I took the train and bus back. The newly painted train station was quiet and almost empty.

tunnel painting wash. park.jpg
Beautiful train station under Washington Park

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Sparkling Forest

We will take you next year, if you come up during winter. Bring your mittens!


Grandma Judy