Adulting at the Zoo

Dear Liza,

Auntie Bridgett worked all day at the SideStreet Gallery today, so Grandpa Nelson and I went to the Portland Zoo, taking the number 15 bus and Red Line train. Of course, we have been to the zoo with Cousins Jasper and Kestrel, but going with just grown ups is a whole different experience. We were like our own island of calm in a sea of chatting, fussing, small people.

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Masai Giraffe

It was a perfectly Portland fall day, cool and cloudy but not raining. The animals were mostly up and about and, since I had no children to keep track of, I could really enjoy the critters.

On our way to the giraffes, which are Grandpa Nelson’s favorites, we stopped at the Columbus monkey enclosure. There was quite a crowd watching the new baby, sitting on a branch with his mom and learning to handle branches. His balance was precarious and every time the branch shifted, the crowd gasped. After a few minutes the father came over, and the baby became much less adventurous, seeming to keep Momma between himself and Big Dad.

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Baby Colobus monkey keeps an eye on Dad

The giraffes were delightful, walking elegantly around their enclosure, or leaning gracefully down for a drink. Grandpa Nelson says he likes them because they are quiet.

Having no children to keep track of, I got to watch everyone else’s. This was a zoo-going experience, too, watching this species of small human interact. I loved seeing the kids play with Jim Gion’s bronze sculpture group called Lunch Break, especially this little guy trying to be a cub.

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Cubs

It was also fun to see older siblings explain things to little brothers and sisters. “See this snake? See how you are red? He can tell you’re not a rock, so he can eat you!” And, on cue, the little brother squeals.

Heat sensing snake

Something I had never seen was an elephant enjoying a swim in the big pool. A keeper was fielding questions and telling us all about elephants, while we watched this giant animal duck and squirt in the water like you do in your bathtub. I imagine it’s about has hard to get him out, too, when it is time!

We noticed that the zoo is already getting ready for Zoo Lights, a wonderful night event held in December where the zoo is open very late and all the trees are lit up, and animals made of neon tubes glow and move. It takes weeks to take the lights down after the holidays, more time to refurbish them, and then another few months to put them all back up. But it is a delightful, if chilly, outing that we will certainly do again this year.

Getting ready for Zoo Lights

By the afternoon we were worn out and got back home for snacks and naps, because we had a date for the evening, as well. Auntie Katie’s book store, Books with Pictures, was sponsoring a showing of the 1984 movie, “Supergirl”, at the Hollywood Theater. I had never seen it, since in 1984 I was up to my eyeballs raising your Daddy David and Auntie Katie.

It was exciting to see Katie in her element, sharing her love of comics with a theater full of people. The movie wasn’t fabulous, but it did feature three strong female characters: Supergirl, Lucy Lane (Lois’s younger sister) and the villain, Selena, played by Faye Dunaway in all her evil glory. We enjoyed the silly camp and headed home, totally worn out.

Auntie Katie presenting SuperGirl

For being retired, I am certainly not bored! As my dad always said, “If you’re not having fun, it’s your own darn fault.”

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