Snow in Portland! Part 1

Dear Liza,

In winter, Portland is mostly a wet and chilly city, not a cold and frozen city. This weekend has been different.

Our patio gnomes, snowed in…

We knew the snow was coming. The weather reports warned of heavy snow, freezing temperatures, and icy bridges. We did extra grocery shopping so we wouldn’t run out of things if we couldn’t drive or walk to the market. And when we went to bed Thursday night, it was snowing.

For me, a girl from the beach in Southern California, there is always something magical about snowfall. Unlike rain, which falls quickly and races away along the gutters, snow comes down at a leisurely pace, as if it is enjoying the scenery along the way. Then it makes little piles, settling in for a visit.

Modern art sculpture of trees in the courtyard…

Friday was a wonderful, mostly-stay-inside day. Grandpa Nelson and I got out to walk around the building just to hear the snow crunch under our boots, then got back inside before we fell in our butts. Tucked back inside, we watched as the snow came and went, with some chilly wind rattling the ice on the branches of the dogwood tree across the way. Even my bonsai forest, The Hundred Acre Wood, out on the balcony, got some snow.

Hundred Acre Wood in snowfall…

When we woke up Saturday, we saw that quite a bit of snow had decided to stay and visit. The little gate that separates our patio from the main walkway was frozen shut, the latch having been welded and glazed by freezing rain.

Frozen latch

Once I got that melted via a hot washcloth (thanks for the advice, Auntie Katie!) I realized that I had a bigger problem. The bottom six inches of the gate were buried in the snow. But my dad would not have been deterred, and I didn’t want to be, either.

I went in search of weaponry, but when we moved from our house in Salinas to our townhouse with no yard, we gave all that away. No shovel, rake, or push room, not even garden trowels. What did I have? A spatula and some cardboard.. I tried, I really did. But no go. There was no going out that way.

These footprints went nowhere!

Sigh. More tea…. more sewing. It could be so much worse.

I will tell you about our victory and adventure in the snow tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Out and About in the Wet

Dear Liza,

It is still wet here…not always raining, but always rain-ish. The colors continue to change and be beautiful. This morning I went out walking with Grandpa Nelson down to the Rocking Frog for coffee and doughnuts, and saw lovely drops on branches, more plants going to seed and making lots of winter food for the birds, and more trees changing.

Purple berry seeds .jpg
Seeds for birds!

drip-on-branch.jpg
Drips

Last night we all went out for dinner at a new restaurant on Belmont (new to us, that is) called Circa 33. It has a dark, secret sort of atmosphere, like a speakeasy of the 1920’s. The first thing I did, while taking off my scarf, was bang into one of their low hanging lights and break it! I felt awful, but it turns out it had been broken before and was held together with tape. Still, what an entrance.

Disaster over, we ordered and enjoyed dinner. Seared salmon, bourbon brined pork chops, and Grandpa Nelson’s french fries filled us all up, then we walked across the street for a few games of pinball at the Belmont Inn. Auntie Bridgett and I love their “Monster Bash” game….lots of characters that move and good sound effects. Pinball is a lot of good time for just $2.00.

Circa 33 .jpg
Circa 33 on Belmont

The little mossy branch I brought home yesterday is now sitting in a small pot on the porch with a maple seed. This is what it looks like!

Moss in pot .jpg
Moss in a pot

Love,

Grandma Judy

Thunder, Lightning, and a Turntable!

Dear Liza,

Wednesday was a quiet, stay in and do some writing  sort of day. I spread out my books of old photographs of Portland, the timelines I have made for the city and my character,  some maps of what was in Downtown Portland in 1888, and started to write my story. I wrote all morning.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-22.jpg
Yes, it really looks like this….

After lunch, I settled back down at the computer, and it the lights went out. The lights went out OUTSIDE. Big black clouds had whooshed in and covered the sun so quickly it was like flipping a switch. I dashed downstairs and Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson had noticed it, too. “Thunder and lightning predicted for this afternoon,” said Grandpa Nelson.

It was hard to get focused back on the writing, so I watched out the window. Rain started as quickly as the sun had disappeared, and our gutters became rivers 3 feet wide. An unfortunate UPS delivery guy was getting soaked bringing boxes to us and the new folks across the way.

In our box was…. a new turntable! It replaces the one Grandpa Nelson bought 30 years ago, which we had donated to The Salvation Army before we moved up here. During the downpour, we read the directions, assembled the bits, moved some electronics, and got the thing ready to play.

I chose The Second Muppet Show Album, which was perfectly silly and happy, and as it was playing, thunder rumbled and lightning lit up the sky. The house shook and the sky flashed! We hugged and sort of held onto each other for a moment, then felt better and started laughing. It is impossible to be very scared when the Muppets are singing and the people you love are nearby.

After we got to feeling normal again and the rain settled down to a good solid pour, I got some more writing done. After dinner, the storm stopped and the sun actually came out.

GetAttachmentThumbnail-21.jpg
Yesterday, this was a dog run. Now it is a lake.

We packed up a bunch of books to return and walked through the park and neighborhood to the Belmont library at Cesar Chavez Blvd. and Taylor. There were so many changes after the storm. The lower dog park area at Laurelhurst Park has become a small lake, and the ducks have moved in. Vines that had been full of grapes and whole trees full of apples had been knocked down by the force of the wind and rain and lay like slimy land mines on the sidewalks. Piles of leaves, washed down to intersections, looked like piles of pudding. We walked carefully, found some new books, and walked back home.

All in all, a full day of writing, weather, music, and walking….some of my favorite things!

Love,

Grandma Judy