Pretty Planet

Dear Liza,

The weather is getting nicer here, with just sweaters needed most days. I had to get out for a walk.


Everything is blooming! This chestnut tree is about fifteen feet tall, which means it is just a baby. The pink blossoms stand straight up, about six inches tall, and the bees love them.

Banks of rhododendrons planted in the 1920s line the sidewalks of the Sunnyside and Laurelhurst neighborhoods.

Since it is almost June, the roses that Portland is famous for have started blooming, as well. They look particularly nice when growing a bit wildly by a wonderful old house.

And, of course, it rained a bit while we were out. Not enough to be miserable, just enough to decorate the roses and remind us of what makes this part of the country so lush and green.

I got home, a bit damp, but happy to live on such a pretty planet.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Scenes from the Chilly Sunshine

Dear Liza,

Last week we had weird weather, for Portland. It was near freezing most every night and rarely above 40 during the day, but it was blindingly bright. There was, literally, not a cloud in the sky.

Knowing it couldn’t last, we went for walks everyday, soaking up the vitamin D as well as we could through scarves and fluffy hats.

We saw cats out enjoying the sunshine.

New Tiny Free Libraries appeared, with nice messages as well as books.

Shop windows created fun reflections.

And in our favorite tavern The Belmont Station, wonderful murals celebrate the origins of our local beers.

And that’s only on one walk!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Burgers at Sunset

Dear Liza,

Thursday was a slow day for me. I didn’t have much energy and felt a little sad most of the day.

I had my art class with Ruth Inman, and we worked on our concertina books.
We laid down some more black and white collage, and then added a tree, dabbing on color for the fall leaves.

I am not very happy with my tree at the moment. It looks clunky and wrong, but Auntie Bridgett says I should let it sit for a few days. Sometimes a piece that turns out differently than you expected looks ‘bad’ because it doesn’t match what was in your mind. So I will let it be and figure it out later.

I did language practice in the afternoon and then Bridgett suggested that we all go for a walk to Monster Smash, our favorite burger place. It was just about 5:00 and warm (and dry) for January, so we headed off. The sky was so pretty and the neighborhood so pleasant, it made me forget about not liking the tree for a while.

Maybe I’ll have another look at it tomorrow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Visiting Ramona

Dear Liza,

We had a few days between rain storms, so Grandpa Nelson and I went for a nice long walk.

Not far from our house is this pair of wonderfully carved trees. The trees grew in this parkway on Glisan Street for many years. When the trees died, instead of taking them out, someone carved them into birds on pedestals. They just make me smile.

We headed northeast over the Banfield freeway and into the Hollywood neighborhood.

This freeway runs through Sullivan’s Gulch, a low spot that divides the east side of town. Since the Gulch isn’t very pretty and is no good for buildings, it also holds passenger rail lines of Trimet and freight train lines. Crossing the freeway when the trains are also running by is extremely noisy!

We got out of the cold with a stop at the Bitter Rose coffee shop and enjoyed coffee, tea and fabulous cardamom brioche bun. A few blocks along, we found this amazing display of hand-turned music boxes, mounted so passers-by can turn the tiny cranks and enjoy them. Again, I smiled.

Finally we arrived at our destination, Grant Park. This park sits between Grant High School and Beverly Cleary Elementary school.

It also is home to these delightful bronze statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Henry’s dog Ribsy. These characters were creations of our local famous author, Beverly Cleary.

Beverly grew up here in Portland from the 1930s through the 1950s. She used street names, businesses and local landmarks in her stories, which have been beloved by many generations. She passed away last year in Carmel, California, at the age of 104.

The statues were created in 1995 by Portland artist Lee Hunt.

We headed home through the sunny cold afternoon, finishing up our five mile walk just in time to make dinner. Boy, were we ready!

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

A Walk Towards the River

Dear Liza,

Yesterday was chilly, but bright and mostly dry. Grandpa Nelson invited me on a long walk down toward the river, so off we went! There were still plenty of beautifully colored autumn leaves to decorate the sidewalks.

I love walking in new areas of the city, because there is always something new to see. On this walk, there were a lot of new murals on the walls of warehouses and businesses by the river.


Some were cute, like these of Dorothy, Toto and friends heading into Oz.

Even the flying monkeys were adorable!

Others were majestic, like this giant wooly mammoth on the roll-up door of a mechanics shop.

And every now and then, a big piece of truth, twenty feet high, reminding us that we all contribute to the city, for better or worse.

Our last painted mural of the day was this one, inside the Post Office on SE 7th Street, showing the Pony Express.

The post office originally had an earlier version of this mural entitled “Post Ride,” funded by the Treasury Section of Fine Arts and painted in 1936 by Paul Grellert. During renovation of the post office in the 60’s the mural was destroyed. Mr. Grellert fortunately was able to paint a recreation of the original mural. The only difference is that in the original, the horse was white.

After we picked up a bunch of post card stamps for Auntie Bridgett, we headed down to find someplace to rest and refresh. More on that tomorrow!

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. Amarette 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 Amarette 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!

Amarette’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 on hold until Spring, but I sure love walking around town!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Epic Walk

Dear Liza,

We don’t like to drive much. I mean, driving is okay for bringing heavy groceries home or getting to the coast, but our adventures around town usually don’t use the car.

So yesterday, when we wanted to see the installation of the new Earl Blumenauer Pedestrian Bridge over the Banfield Freeway, we walked! It’s only a few miles north, after all.

Well, and about a mile west…. Anyway, after a wonderful stroll through the Irvington neighborhood, we found the freeway.

It was EMPTY. Not a car in sight! The city had blocked off a few miles of freeway so they could install the bridge safely. I wonder how all those thousands of cars were getting around? After we had soaked up the quiet of six lanes of silence, we walked toward the installation site.

The work was going slowly and carefully, with gantries and cranes and dozens of people. We realized it wasn’t going to be done for hours and hours.

We stared for a while. We had walked about three miles, maybe more, with weaving through neighborhoods, and we were foot sore. The search began for coffee and ‘a little something’.

We knew busy Broadway Street was just up a few blocks, so we headed in that direction. On the way, we found these plaques showing the state bird, fish, flower, insect and mammal of the state of Oregon. They were a nice decoration, making the back of a parking garage interesting and educational.

We found coffee, then pastries, then a new cone for Mouse, at shops along Broadway, and we were all feeling the milage. We charted the most direct route home and trudged along, only stopping to notice that the flamingo flock by the park is showing their support for our favorite San Francisco baseball team. Go Giants!

We got home, rested our poor feet, and drank lots of water. We had a right to be tired. We had walked 6.4 miles!

What a day!

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

Walking Out in the Last Day of Summer

Dear Liza,

Grandpa Nelson and I took a walk down to Zach’s Hot Dog Shack on the last day of Summer. The day was bright and warm.

We enjoyed the Morrison Street Chickens on the way, and then had a tasty Chicago hot dog and soda. Zach’s summer assistant, Haley, put on the Elvis Pandora Channel, which also includes folks like (really) Englebert Humperdink. (His real name is Arnold Charles Dorsey).

Once we were full and rested, we wandered through the neighborhood. This wonderful, colorful hodgepodge of a front yard was created by the owner, who we got to visit with.


Some of the balls are glass, and some are old bowling balls. There is even a Virgin Mary, a Hotai, and a few random ceramic animals. It is amazing.

The late summer flowers are so pretty. These tall Dahlias, which are Auntie Bridgett’s favorite flowers, are going strong.

By the time we got home, we were happily worn out.

Love,

Grandma Judy