Pasta and Goblincore

Dear Liza,

Last Thursday, Cousin Kestrel turned ten years old, and we had a family party at Pastini Pastaria, down in Division.

A few weeks before her birthday, I had asked Auntie Katie what sort of things Kestrel was interested in now, so I could make her something nice. Tastes change quickly at her age. A few years ago it was Princess Kittens.

Kestrel, her crown, and her cake

But now, Kestrel is interested in Goblincore. This is an interesting style and philosophy, combining a love of nature and magic with a darker understanding of death and decay. Think fairies, but with ravens, slugs, and bones. It is as interesting a contradiction as Kestrel herself.

Auntie Katie worked with friend Chelsea and Kestrel to make the magnificent cake. It was chocolate with macha filling, and was decorated to look like the forest floor. Fondant roots wound around merengue mushrooms and a fondant frog. Cracked bark made from milk chocolate covered the edge.

Keeping with the theme, I made Kes a bag to carry her Goblincore stuff in, for when she goes foraging for herbs or crystals. The body of the bag is a hood from an old coat of my Momma Billie. I embroidered it with plants, water, and a moon, to reflect the darker aesthetic of Goblincore.

Inside, I put some of my own collected treasures. Small bags hold shells, moss, lavender, and shiny stones. Lemon verbena and rosemary bundles are handy for use and crow feathers are tied to the outside.

And to complete the picture, Auntie Bridgett made a card with birthday snails! It was adorable.

Seeing my grandchildren grow and become such delightful people is one of the best things about getting old, and makes it all worthwhile. I hope I can see you on your next birthday, too!


Grandma Judy

Cat Art

Dear Liza,

Basking in the sunshine

I’ve told you that Portland is a city where dogs are very popular, but I still prefer cats. Our cat, Mouse (Miss Mousie Mouskin of the Mouseville Mousekins), is my favorite, of course.

Crazy Second floor ledge walking

She has the balance of a desire for adventure and a love of relaxation that I find copacetic.

But I’m not the only one here who loves cats. There are cats all over the neighborhood, happy, brave, silly and even weird.

There are cats in art here, as well. The McMenamin brothers’ chain of bars and hotels have a a picture of its “distillery cat”, along with Ruby the brewer witch and Hammerhead guy, who is painted in every one of their establishments.

Distillery Cat

While we were visiting Edgefield, which is a McMenamin’s location east of Portland, we saw this disgruntled cat on the back window of a car.

Window cat

Sunnyside Environmental School, in our neighborhood, has one painted on its doors, I guess to keep the free roaming chickens company.

Sunnyside School Cat


Auntie Bridget puts cats into her art all the time. My birthday card this year, which went all the way down to Salinas, featured her and Grandpa Nelson, as cats!

Auntie Bridgett’s cat card




That’s all I’ve got to say about cats in art, for now. But rest assured, there will be more…later.


Grandma Judy

Finally, Birthday!

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Thanks so much for calling me last night to tell me Happy Birthday! It was the happy cap on a fun evening.


I opened my package from Portland first thing in the morning. Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson sent me a copy of Auntie Bridgett’s new zine, about fonts and typefaces. It is so pretty and interesting! They also sent a cute card she had made, of two cats that look very much like my darling people.

First Card

Of course, the whole day can’t be celebration. It was a Monday, and a school day. My students had all had fun weekends, too, and didn’t seem to want to be in school. Following directions was hard, and treating each other nicely was even harder, so by the time I was done with my conferences, I was done in.

I got home and Auntie Olga, who has this week off as her Spring Break, had done the shopping. She ordered pizza from Riley and Papa’s Pizza, which used to be Mountain Mike’s. I had some tea and fruit and fell asleep until the pizza got delivered and Liza got home from school.

birthday gifts..jpg

women cards.jpg
Woman Cards

We opened some wine and Uncle David got home. He was even more tired than I had been. But he is still good company. Before we ate, I opened my presents! It was an accidental robot themed party! Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson sent me a little robot painted on a heavy domino, from the artist at Botjoy. It’s a tiny robot who is “programmed to love you…to notice all the nice things about you, and, when held to your ear, to tell you why people love you…”. Just the thing for an emotionally exhausted teacher. Perfect.

My presents from Auntie Olga, Uncle David and Liza were wonderful, too. One was a tiny tea robot, who holds your tea bag and looks fabulous. I have enjoyed his services already! There was also a pack of “Woman cards”…a real deck of playing cards with Rosa Parks, Hillary Clinton, Mary Cassatt, and 10 other female movers and shakers. There were even Lucille Ball and Phyllis Diller as the jokers! And there was a “never-ending card” that Liza and her mommy had made that kept opening and opening… it was amazing.

Auntie Bridgett mentioned that there might be a second card in the mailbox, in addition to the one that came with my presents. There was!!

Last card!

After dinner Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson called and chatted until my throat was sore, then I played and read with Liza. Then you called and my day was complete.

I slept the sleep of a 62 year old birthday girl filled with joy, love, and the knowledge that Spring Break is only 3 days away.


Grandma Judy