Dear Liza,

Grandpa Nelson visits his favorite lunch place, Zach’s Hot Dog Shack, a few times a week. It is about a mile walk away, has great french fries, and everyone there is friendly. They also have a ping pong table and a corn hole game.

Sometimes I go along, too. I like the Chicago dog, and now that I am limiting my meat intake, I have all the spicy goodness on a soy based dog. Very tasty!

And there is Zach’s pet Corgi, Riley. She is a delightful dog. She is friendly, hardly ever barks, and has a sweet, subtle way of letting you know she likes french fries.

In fact, she likes them so much that she is getting a bit chunky, even for a Corgi. Since Zach is a conscientious owner, he has decided to help her stay healthy by putting her on a one-french fry-per customer diet. Grandpa Nelson and I do our part to keep Riley well. We eat all the fries ourselves!

So far, it is up to the customers to limit Riley’s intake, because she has no self control and can’t count very well. I hope the other customers help too, because I would like to enjoy Riley’s company for many years to come.


Grandma Judy

An Almost-Summer Walkabout

Dear Liza,

Before the rain this past weekend, we had four wonderful days of sun. Grandpa Nelson and I were able to get out for a long walk. After lunch at Zach’s we headed south through the Richmond neighborhood.

The peonies in Southeast Portland this year are absolutely stunning, and this group in a planter along Lincoln are pure sunny pink and and as big as a dinner plate.

As we were noticing all the blooms, I was stopped in my tracks by this piece of chalk art on a driveway. No one was around to ask about the artist, so we just enjoyed it, photographed it, and moved along.

The next piece of art was less colorful but charming, even so. Someone with less art experience had tried to paint a cat hiding in the high grass, failed, and expressed their disappointment.

Further along, these tall lupines graced the parkway, framed perfectly by a 1920s bungalow and willow tree.

As we were walking, Grandpa Nelson asked, “when you run out of things to write about, will we have to move?” I told him that in five years of writing blogs, Portland hasn’t let me down yet. I think we’re safe.


Grandma Judy

Bright Fall Light

Dear Liza,

This season is mostly a grey one, but every now and the clouds blow away and we have bright, cold, sunshine. That was today.

We did chores during the morning and then headed off through the neighborhood to Zach’s Hot Dog Shack. The noon sun was almost blinding, and made the still-changing leaves magical.

We found some rhododendrons, being a bit early even for them, (or late, it’s hard to know which) popping blooms open just as the rest of the plants have called it quits for the year.

We enjoyed a chilly lunch on Zach’s patio, since the inside was pretty crowded with folks watching football. Grandpa Nelson and I played ping pong, which warmed us up a bit.

The walk home was lit with the warm afternoon light of Fall. This beautiful cat was just so fetching between the orange leaves.

We walked by St. Stephen’s Church, which has been on this corner in a mostly residential area since 1924. It is built of bricks and is very pretty.

It has a large front entrance with doors topped by Mary and Jesus chatting with monks, along with with these delightfully glazed ceramic faces.

And that was our outing for the day. It never really got above 45 degrees, and was just too chilly to be out for long. We came home, read, made art, and cooked.

Just another lovely Tuesday!


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.


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.


Grandma Judy

After the Heatwave

Dear Liza,

Wednesday was the first day of human-level temperatures since our historic heat wave began. We woke up to cloud cover, cool air and even a bit of dampness. It felt wonderful.

Look! Clouds! Hooray!!!

I went to the garden early. My friend Tonya gave me one of her parsley plants, and I planted it between my radishes and lettuce. My garden is doing well, even though it isn’t as tall as the other ones. They have five foot tall trellises and arbors hanging with peas and beans. I have a magnificent beast of a zucchini.

And it makes food, too!

I walked around Laurelhurst Park for the first time in a week, enjoying the cool green, the ducks, and all the people out doing their people thing. Tai c’hi classes, guitar practice, dog parties….. it was life as normal, out on the grass.

After a morning of sewing, French lessons, crossword puzzles and cartooning, the three of us headed off to Grandpa Nelson’s favorite lunch spot, Zach’s Shack. Auntie Bridgett got to go because she isn’t working at the SideStreet Arts gallery anymore. Her new comic strip, Auntie Beeswax, allows her more flexibility with her time.

One of my favorite views….

We ate hot dogs and fries, and, since the sun had come out, appreciated the icy cold sodas.

Then came ping pong! Zach’s back patio has a table and enough hard surfaces that even if the ball misses the table, you can keep it in play. We get a little nuts sometimes, and it is fun!

We played until we were played out, then walked home by way of the Taylor Street chickens. The day had warmed up to 88 degrees and we were happy for the air conditioning.

This heat wave was bad. It send a lot of folks to the hospital. We need to figure out how to help our planet heal so we can all be well.

Portlanders ❤️ Chickens !


Grandma Judy

Delightful Weirdness in Portland

Dear Liza,

It was hot in Portland this weekend. I know it was hot in Russia where you were, too. This summer is only a week old and already it is trying everyone’s patience and electrical grids. I hope you are staying safe and cool.

Rather than wander around outside in the heat, I stayed in and looked over lots of photos that I have taken this spring that didn’t fit into any story.

This is a plank of one of the patio tables at Zach’s Hot Dog Shack on SE Hawthorne. It looks exactly like a Chinese mountain painting!

I am not sure why someone felt the need to plant plastic forks with their nasturtiums, but I like the effect.

This creepy piece of wall art is at The Bare Bones Cafe, just down the block on Belmont. There are also several skeletons sitting around with baseball caps and masks. The Bare Bones makes a fine chicken quesadilla and has a nice assortment of really cold beers.

This car looked like it was heading for a wedding, but it was just parked under a chestnut tree that was done flowering. We saw it later, driving along, the flowers still stuck on by a passing shower.

I love looking for (and finding!) the unexpected.


Grandma Judy

So Much Pretty

Dear Liza,

It was so pretty the other day, we three all walked to Zach’s Shack for hot dogs! We had the cool back patio all to ourselves, and we enjoyed our spicy Chicago dog, Dylan dog, and French fries. I even indulged in a pint of Guinness. Yum!

We were all feeling very full when we were done, and Grandpa Nelson suggested we take the long walk home.

There is always a lot to see in a new neighborhood. Spring has sprung with Forget Me Nots and flowers I can’t even name, growing from every planter, lawn, and crack in the sidewalk. It is glorious.

The dogwoods are all getting ready to bloom by our house. This one, about ten feet tall, has already popped.

And, on any walk, there is something you see that, well, you just didn’t expect to. This time, it was Bernie Sanders. Yep, a life sized standup of the Senator from Vermont, as he appeared at President Biden’s Inauguration, sitting comfortably on a front porch. We passed along our best wishes and waved goodbye.

And before we got home, we saw a dragon and covered almost four and a half miles.

Not bad for “ just an afternoon walk”.


Grandma Judy

Signs of Love

Dear Liza,

With all of us staying in our houses, chatting with folks has become a much rarer thing. We can chat with neighbors for a minute or two when we sit on our balcony, but they are all in their way somewhere.

Conversations with strangers, which is one of the best things about living in a city, have almost come to a complete halt. Folks scurry by behind their masks, not wanting to give or catch the virus.

But people need to communicate. It’s part of our nature and it leaks out all over the place.

Advice from neighbors…

And, on my walks in the neighborhood, these little things make my heart smile.

……making sure we know that their Naked Ladies are for us to enjoy…
Love Wins is a big theme here, one I thoroughly endorse

We have places we go, knowing which hours are best to find them uncrowded. Zach’s Shack, the HobNob, and Rendezvous all have outdoor seating, tasty food and friendly folks.

It IS special. Life IS short.

We have recently learned that another favorite haunt, The Rocking Frog, will be closing down and moving somewhere else in a few months, when their lease is up. With so many businesses closing and other changes happening so fast, we truly need to remember to show signs of Love while we can.


Grandma Judy