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

Blueberry Adventure Part 1

Dear Liza,

Just north of Portland on the Columbia River is a 26,000 acre farming community called Sauvie Island. It is nothing like the rest of Portland, being mostly farms and woods. It is like being a million miles away from the theaters, traffic and pizza joints of the city.

On Saturday we went up for an adventure. First thing, once we crossed the bridge onto the island, was we drove down a road we’d never been down, and followed it until it ended. We saw houseboats along the narrow Multnomah Channel, lavender fields, and eagles’ nests perched on top of power poles.

When we got to where the road ended ( it sort of faded from paved road to gravel to dirt), we turned around and headed towards our favorite you-pick blueberry place, Columbia Farm. They were really crowded on this lovely holiday Saturday, and had opened their auxiliary parking lot. They let us use our boxes from last year, which made me happy. I hate throwing perfectly good boxes away.

We headed out to the fields and passed families with wagons heading back in…. With lots of berries! We had to look pretty closely to find enough to fill our eighteen small baskets, but we got them all full.

I love being in the fields and picking fruit. Maybe it is because my parents were farmers and I grew up valuing the folks who get our food to us, or maybe it’s just fun to be out in the sun and fresh air, hearing birds and other people’s conversations.

I even found a tiny, abandoned hummingbird’s nest, tucked safely in a bush. I left it so the birds could use it again next year.

We picked only blueberries because that’s what we like best, but many folks also picked raspberries and blackberries. A lady had a boxful that was so pretty, I asked to take its picture. She very sweetly said yes.

We filled our boxes and paid up (Fifty dollars for too many berries to carry) and put them in the car. We were hot and sweaty and…. Hungry!

And on to the next adventure!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Living in Layers

Dear Liza,

Before I moved to Portland, I lived in Salinas, where the land is very flat. The wide Salinas Valley runs for about a hundred miles, wide and flat. Down most streets you can see a long way.

Looking about half a mile down Alisal

Portland has a river, too, bigger and wider than the Salinas, but the Willamette hasn’t flattened things out much.

One of the few unobstructed views in town… down the river!

Portland has lots of hills and lots of trees. Looking at anything more than a block away involves looking through things. And I am loving it.

Having to look through things and past things makes my brain work harder, and ask questions.

Is it the house I love, or the view of the house beyond the rock garden and blossoms?

Would this flower look as lovely if it were all by itself? (Probably not, I answer myself).

And why does the moon just look prettier through trees?

Anyway, I hope you love the street you live on as much as I love mine!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Back to the Riverside

Dear Liza,

On the way back to Portland, we all felt the need for snacks. We stopped at the very posh Lake Oswego Safeway and got coffee and pastries. I was in awe of the enormous collection of Kosher for Passover goodies! Kosher wines, macaroons, and a dozen different kinds of matzoh.

There was whole wheat matzoh, bran, rice based, and even spelt. But it was the gluten-free matzoh, Made of oat grain that made me laugh. I showed them to Auntie Bridgett but instead of laughing, she wanted to get them! Wheat based things don’t always agree with her stomach, and she thought this would be an interesting experiment. We got a box, almost choking on the five- times -regular-matzoh price tag, to have (along with Grandpa Nelson’s regular) for our Seder that evening.

High-end oat based matzohs

With our new matzohs carefully stashed, we again set off for the city. We drove north on Taylor’s Ferry Road , catching glimpses of the mighty Willamette River between buildings and trees. “Should we find a place to stop?” Auntie Bridgett asked. “Yes, please,” I said.

Mount Hood, waaaayyy across the Willamette River

She found parking at Willamette Park, which had a very busy boat ramp. Apparently, everyone agreed with us that the day was too nice to stay inside. At the park we were again treated to a show of nature and humanity that we have been missing for a long winter and an even longer shut-down.

The sweeping views of the river and parkland seemed to open up our hearts, letting fresh air in. We just sat and let the sun soak into our skin, warming us right through.

Downtown Portland from the Riverside

After we had walked along the river, visited with more dogs, and soaked up hours of sunshine, it was really time to go home. We finished the drive, then rested and cooked dinner for our first night of Passover. We said thanks for our good health, our sweet life, and our good company.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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!

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Lighthouse Inn

Dear Liza,

A place with some history to it!

Once we sadly said goodbye to Sauvie Island and headed back towards town, lunch was definitely next on the agenda. Auntie Bridgett pulled over in front of a small, idiosyncratic cafe called The Lighthouse Inn.

Cool welded chains

This building has been here since 1865 and carries a lot of history.

Bank alarms and post office boxes

Shortly after the town of Linnton was established in 1844, this was a branch of The First U.S. National Bank and Post Office, and even a barber shop. The brass grill of the teller window and the tiny brass post office boxes are still there, adding to the story.

There are reminders of the area’s location on the Willamette, and its importance to the shipping industry that built the city. Each table has a ship’s bell above it with a pull rope (I guess if you want more beer, like, right now. The tables are held up by ship’s chains, welded to hold their shape. For many years, starting in the 1950s, this was where longshoremen would come after a long cold day loading and unloading ships, to get a drink and something hot to eat.

There is a wonderful old drawing of the river steamer The Portland II between the men’s room and the ladies’.

All the way from Lancashire

In other decorative touches, the walls are paneled with at a crazy quilt of different types of wood, and over several of the tables are old English railroad signs. Every place you looked, there was something interesting, quirky, and just plain odd. I loved it.

We chatted with the owner, enjoyed french fries, fried chicken and ahi tuna, caught our breath, and continued on to do the shopping.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Seeing the Doctor

Dear Liza,

On Friday, Grandpa Nelson finally felt lousy enough to call the doctor. He had been having fevers every night for weeks, along with fatigue and dizziness. I mentioned this to your Mommy (Dr. Olga), and she said Grandpa Nelson should talk to his doctor. They chatted via an on-screen meeting and agreed that Grandpa should visit the hospital and get checked out.

Auntie Bridgett drove and I rode in the backseat as we three traveled across the river to the west side for the first time since the shut down began in mid-March. It was so good to see the Willamette River sparkling and the bridges arching in the sunshine. Downtown, though emptier than usual, was beautiful. The parks and statues glowed, and the shining buildings reflected the clouds and sky. It felt like coming home.

The old Raven and Rose, next to the newer buildings…

We continued up the hill to OHSU, where we have been many times, but we didn’t just park and walk in. As part of the new procedures for limiting everyone’s exposure, we waited in the car and called to let them know we had arrived. A doctor walked to one of the small tents and Grandpa Nelson left the car to be escorted in. Auntie Bridgett and I had to wait in the car. I understand that fewer folks in and out of the building is safer for everyone, but I still wished I could go with him. We read, sewed, and drew, for nearly an hour.

Older parts of OHSU

When Grandpa came out he said that his had been checked for blood oxygen (fine, at 97%) blood pressure (a bit high, at 160) and been swabbed for the corona virus. That result won’t be back for a day or so. He was told to stay inside and rest and limit exposure to other folks. He was also told that whether this was Covid or some other virus, he would not be “well” until he had three full days with no fever.

Once we were home he had lunch and slept for a long time, got up, had dinner and went back to bed. Now we just wait for the results and do what we’ve been doing. Positive or negative, it won’t really make a difference. There is no cure, or even effective treatment. But we will know.

Love,

Grandma Judy

PS. We got the results back. No Covid-19 in this house! Grandpa Nelson still feels icky, but at least it’s not big and scary. Just small and irritating.

Hello, SUN!!

Dear Liza,

Sunny day at Lone Fir cemetery

With fall getting grey and damp, I had sort of given up on sunny days. But yesterday I wanted a long walk and Grandpa Nelson wanted to visit the zoo, and we got to do both under piercingly blue skies.

We walked through the neighborhoods down to the river and across the Morrison Bridge.

Amazing new building with giant flower pots!!

Because of the elevated bridge approaches, there are a few blocks by the river that feel sort of spooky and underground… not places to be after dark, anyway.

But being there on foot gives great perspectives on new buildings going up. This colorful new building has huge flower-pot shaped planters attached to the outside with trees growing in them!

Sparkles on the Willamette River

We crossed the Morrison Bridge, enjoying the brilliant sunshine reflecting in the Willamette. The stiff breeze made my wool sweater and leather jacket feel just about right.

We could have continued walking once we got downtown, but the climb to the top of Washington Park would have worn us out. We took the train and then the super fast elevator up to the top of the hill. ZOOM!

Inches away from a Bald Eagle

The zoo was practically empty, just the way we like it. A few groups of moms with small kids in strollers, some brave grandparents, and us. We got to spent quality time with the giraffes, talking with their keeper, Virginia. She told us that the zoo tries to never anesthetize giraffes. Becoming unconscious means falling down, which can be deadly for the tall, spindly animals.

Did you know giraffes love carrots?

While she was feeding the Masai and Reticulated giraffes their carrot treats, we got to see their twenty inch black tongues! It was adorable and creepy at the same time.

Virginia, goddess of carrots

We got to watch as the cheetahs prowled their enclosure. We felt a bit anxious realizing that we were just one pane of glass away from becoming lunch. The graceful cheetahs could run us down like a rocket. It was delightful.

Eyeing his lunch….

I will tell you more tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy