An Afternoon with Kestrel

Dear Liza,

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A place of tiny magical things

You are your Mom and Daddy’s only child, so you get a lot of alone time with them, and with me, when I’m around. Cousin Kestrel is Jasper’s little sister, and she doesn’t. Everything she does, including lunchtime at school, is with Jasper.

Jasper is a very nice brother, but we all need some time with our people when it is just US. Kestrel and I got that the other day.

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Someone made a Fairie House!

Auntie Katie made plans for her and Jasper, and I made plans for us. After I ‘kidnapped’ her from Books with Pictures, we walked past the giant banana painted on the wall at SE 12th and Division, past a fairy house in some one’s yard, all the way to Hawthorne Street, where we caught the number 14 bus.

At 32nd Avenue we got off and walked to The Hazel Room. This is a lovely little lunch place in a big house, and I have walked past it dozens of times. They don’t sell hamburgers or french fries, so Grandma Nelson wouldn’t like it. Inside it is pretty and old-fashioned, with old wooden floors and wallpaper. There are lots of elegant tea pots on the window sills. Kestrel is a very picky eater, so I read the menu to her and let her choose. She asked for french toast. When it came, it was so big that we shared it, but she said it was the best french toast she had ever had! Fat and sweet, it most more like toasted cake..yummmy!

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Brunch at The Hazel Room

When we had played reading games and finished our lunch, we headed down Hawthorne to our main destination: Fernie Brae. This is a shop that sells fairie things. Handmade fairie dolls, beds, houses, jewelry, paintings, costumes, wings and wands…if a fairie could want it, they have it.

Everything is so beautifully made, we spent an hour in the small shop, looking at every tiny thing.

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Admiring the lovely stones

I knew we had just a little while until my bus pass expired, so Kestrel picked out a tiny dragonfly treasure, a jasper stone for Jasper and a rose quartz heart shaped stone for herself, and we caught the bus back to Ladd’s Addition. Walking through the shade of the old trees, we made up stories about which fairies lived under the trees and in the bushes.

What a wonderful, magical day!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Back to the Zoo

Dear Liza,

On Monday, Grandpa Nelson and I drove over to Auntie Katie’s house. School hasn’t started here in Portland yet, so we still have time for summer!!

First, there was some important business to take care of. Kestrel had lost one of her magic fairy keys (from a Birthday a few years ago at Fernie Brae here in town). It was, she said, tossed on the grass at the Ladd’s Addition Circle Park while she was making a magic spell, and lost in the grass. In the bright light of day, we figured we could find it.

Hands and knees for 30 minutes, asking at Palio Coffee and Pastries, and even enlisting friendly passing strangers, all to no avail. Whether the fairies decided they wanted the key back or we just looked in the wrong places, the key continues to be elsewhere.

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Jasper on the bronze goat

Then the next order of business, getting ready for the Zoo! Breakfast, shoes, and hats were found and dealt with, then we were on our way. Grandpa Nelson opted for the car so the trip home would be quicker when we were near the end. He’s a smart Grandpa!

It was a pleasant day…not hot, but sunny. Lots of people, but not crowded. We visited the Pacific Northwest Canyon (my favorite part of the zoo, because it is foresty and has lots of creeks and waterfalls) and acted out being coyotes and rabbits. We talked to the bears and saw river otters napping in their dens.

We had a sit down to refuel our good natures, with cookies, water, peanuts and a reading of Million of Cats by Wanda Ga’g.

At the petting zoo we visited with goats and saw a new “Catio” installation, with information about why keeping cats safe and happy is important for birds and other animals, as well as our sweet kitten friends. The kids also enjoyed the ice cream and merry-go-round. Because grandparents.

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Charge!!!

Then, off to see the elephants. They were coming out into the public area just as we got there, and Lily, the youngest, was positively prancing! She really seemed happy to be out with the people. Everyone was waving as she ran up and down, smiling a baby elephant smile.

The Free Flying Bird show was on, and we sat and watched eagles, parrots and even a North American Kestrel (the bird, not the cousin) fly from one perch to another. Oshi, the toucan, decided to re-write the script and flew from one perch, under the bushes, hung out for a while, to the top of the stage, and finally down to accept a bunch of blueberries. It was wonderful to hear the ladies ad lib the show during Oshi’s fly-cation, telling us about how they train the birds with positive reinforcement.

Lunch was next! Africafe fed us hot dogs and gave us a cool place to sit down. We watched people and drank so much water I thought we would pop, but zooing is thirsty work.

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Being Bears

On the way out of the zoo, we saw a sculpture group called “Lunch Break” by local artist Jim Gion, who died just a few weeks ago. We got to meet him this spring as he was sculpting outside his studio. He was a talented artist and a very nice man.

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Lunch Break, by Jim Gion

We had originally planned to also see the Children’s Museum, but we were done. We will come back Thursday for that. I was pleased to see how responsible the children were, wanting to see the museum but realizing it would be more fun another day. A quiet ride home, pizza for dinner, and a tired but happy Grandma delivered home.

More tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Faeries in Portland

Dear Liza,

I have told you how much fun it is living in Portland. I have told you about the plastic flamingos that go on camping trips and the silent dance parties in the park. But I haven’t mentioned the Faeries.

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Flamingos out camping

First, there is a shop called Fernie Brae, not far from us on Hawthorne Street. It is a combination of art gallery, museum, and shop, all about faeries. Tiny pictures, statues, jewelry, and plants all take you inside a special, delicate world. Cousin Kestrel had part of her birthday here. There were tiny keys to open tiny doors and find magical gifts. She and Jasper enjoyed it very much.

 

 

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Inside Fernie Brae Photo credit: Morgana Krinsley

Then there are the regular gardens that people make to enjoy. These gardens are regular people sized, but have fishponds, tiny lights, and mosaic paths through them. There are also statues of frogs, flamingos, and all sorts of animals. Birdhouses and even bat houses make the animals feel welcome. Many of the trees are so old, there are hollow places in them that look exactly like faeries would live there. Moss growing on all the walls feels like faerie carpet.

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Person sized Garden

But some people seem to want the faeries to feel even more at home. They build tiny gardens that are faerie sized within their own people sized gardens. These have tiny gates, benches, plants, even houses. There may be stepping stones the size of bottle caps.Whenever I see one, I want to make myself very small and go visiting!

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Faerie Garden in a person’s yard