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. 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

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

Poet’s Beach

Dear Liza,

On Saturday, I took Auntie Bridgett on a walk to one of my favorite places, Poet’s Beach, on the West Bank of the Willamette. It is a three mile walk from our house, but it is all a gentle downhill slope, so it doesn’t feel that far! And since it was National Teddy Bear Picnic Day, we took Patches and Brown Bear along.

Walking through new neighborhoods is always fun, so I try to take streets I haven’t been down. This time, we discovered this new tiny free library. It has a chalkboard for messages, and the door opens UP, like a garage door. Very pretty and practical.

As we left the neighborhood and got down by the railroad tracks in the industrial area, shade was hard to find. We were grateful for our hats and the cool breeze from the river.

We found a beautiful new street mural in front of the Portland Opera. It is too big to show in one photo, but here is a fisheye lens picture that shows a keyboard producing music, which then swirls out into the world.

We got to the best bridge in town, the Tilikum Crossing. This bridge is only for pedestrians, busses, and trains. No cars! It is also the newest bridge and not a drawbridge, so it is quieter, without the bangity-bang of the older metal ones.

We picked up lunch at the Starbucks just on the other side, and carried it to our picnic spot by the river. Poet’s Beach!

This is a small area, just under the very loud Marquam Bridge. The river bank here is sandy and the bridge makes deep shade, which we really appreciated on the warm day. The reason this little area is called Poet’s Beach is that there are poems by school children etched into stones along the path down to the river.

We had our tasty lunch, harassed by a very bossy flock of geese who wanted some. They got a surprise, though, when a lady and her dog showed up, and the dog scared the geese right back into the river. We went on our way, too. We enjoyed watching folks play in the fountains and along the promenade of the Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

We walked back across the Willamette on the Morrison Bridge, and then figured out that we were pretty tired. We caught the magic number 15 bus home and rested while watching the Giants beat the Washington nationals.

Another day in Paradise, as they say.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Looking Back on the Fourth

Dear Liza,

Our maple tree outdoor Bistro

Our Fourth of July was very busy! It was a warm but not deadly-hot day, so we felt up to some solid walking.

We packed a small picnic lunch and headed south to Seawellcrest Park. This is the same park where we had Cousin Jasper’s fifth grade promotion celebration, but on the Fourth, it was practically deserted. A few folks played frisbee with their dogs, but mostly it was just us and the giant maple tree we were sitting under. We enjoyed a nice lunch of cold sausages and cheese and listened to birds and happy dogs. Very nice.

We walked around the Seawellcrest community garden and enjoyed seeing how other folks arrange their spaces. Ladders are good for trellises! I am learning a lot for next year.

We continued through the neighborhood, greeting folks out walking.

Once we got to Division Street, there was Auntie Bridgett’s favorite frozen treat shop: Eb and Bean Frozen Yogurt. These friendly folks make healthy and yummy flavors such as Triple Blueberry Chèvre and Caramel Praline… what’s not to like?

We enjoyed the goodies on a bench in the shade, watching people and traffic go by. A young fella set up a lemonade stand and Grandpa Nelson was his first customer! Other folks soon followed.

Auntie Bridgett suggested, since we were on Division Street, that we walk a little way further and go visit Auntie Katie. The day was getting warmer, but we had tummies full of ice cream and we were good at staying in the shade.

We visited with Katie’s assistant, Nick, and then took her off for a walk and a snack at Palio. I know it seems like we were eating a lot. Yes. Yes, we were. Yummy! We had a wonderful visit, sharing some rose wine and berry cake.

Katie needed more of a walk, she said, so she decided to walk us up the hill and home. The heat of the day had really kicked in and it was a bit of a slog the final mile, but we made it! The three of us had covered five and a half miles, and we were pretty pleased with ourselves. And tired. We all had ice water and a rest before Katie headed off on her way.

The rest of the day was quiet, with reading and, later, watching the humans beat the aliens in Independence Day.

Belated Happy Fourth! Happy to still have a country to celebrate in.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Summer Surprises

Dear Liza,

This weekend brought some lovely surprises. Even though the weather was really warm on Saturday, Grandpa Nelson suggested a walk. “Let’s head down to Division,” he said. “There’s ice cream, and gelato, and even frozen yogurt.” So we headed south.

The sun was hot, and the sidewalks got hotter as we walked. It was afternoon, but the shade wasn’t much help. “Maybe we find a pub a little closer?”Grandpa sighed. We agreed, and found the delightfully decorated McMenamin’s Bagdad Cafe and theater, down on Hawthorne. They had food and drinks, A/C and friendly folks.

Some pretzel fondue, tuna sliders and beverages later, we were refreshed and ready to head off. Grandpa Nelson was still feeling the heat, so he headed for home. Auntie Bridgett and I continued on to Laurelhurst Park. It can be full of surprises.

And it was. We found an impromptu violin concert along one end of the lake, and a reading of a play I’d never heard of at the other. Both had collected small but appreciative audiences. We listened for a bit and walked on.

I love walking in the park when it is buzzy! There were folks walking dogs, playing frisbee, and practicing circus tricks with hoops and slack ropes. Kids hollered and ukuleles were strummed. It is a like all the best of life, just out playing on the lawn.

When we left the park we were absolutely vibrating from all that human energy! And the surprises weren’t done yet. Growing on a telephone pole-supported grape vine were the beginnings of this year’s grapes.

Always something to see….

Love,

Grandma Judy

In the Heights

Dear Liza,

Oregon is opening up as our vaccination rates climb, and people who have been masked and alone for months are coming outside and showing their faces. This new level of confidence, along with our recent warm weather, is making for busy streets!

Mosaic on the threshold of Stammtisch

The Laurelhurst Theater’s showing of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s musical, In the Heights, made this very clear. The theater has limited capacity for all these people, and seats were impossible to get on a Friday night. So Grandpa Nelson ordered tickets online for Wednesday and printed them out. Presto!

But before the movie, we would need dinner. We wanted something delicious and close enough to the Laurelhurst movie theater to make a comfortable walk. We chose Stammtisch, a German restaurant about a mile away.

Something for everyone!

We walked though the bright evening sunshine and chose a table under leafy trees. We were cared for by the staff, who brought us drinks, food, and good cheer. My Geshmort Hasen (Braised rabbit with potatoes) was rich and delicious, and just enough to finish without feeling stuffed. Then we headed to the movie!

Sorry, bunny. You were delicious.

There is always something magical about a movie, anytime. But going into a dark place to share an emotional experience with a bunch of strangers after months of relative solitude was a powerful thing. I got shivers.

And the movie delivered a powerful emotional experience, all right. The story of a nurturing Latino community in Washington Heights, told to the rhythms of hip hop and salsa music, was funny, sad, and human. Grandpa Nelson and I cried and laughed for two solid hours. It was marvelous!

When the closing credits were running, a lady across the aisle yelled “Viva Puerto Rico!” and I cheered.

We walked home through the warm night, with the moon stepping in and out between the trees.

It was just about a perfect evening out. Life is good, and getting better.

Love,

Grandma Judy