Valentine’s Day

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

We have been celebrating Valentine’s Day all this week! We started a few days ago, when Auntie Olga and I spent an evening helping Liza decorate her Valentine cards for her class at school. There were 18 cards, and each one needed a name…. “Elizabeth”, 18 times. Then there were the stickers, then putting them in the envelopes, then sealing the envelopes. Such a production! But we had fun. Liza is getting very good at signing her whole long name.

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 Artist at Work

Then there was the preparation in my classroom. The fourth graders cut, punched holes, and sewed their Valentine’s mailboxes, and then they decorated them with cut paper. They were all different and wonderful.

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Dragon-Made Card

Today I opened the present Auntie Bridgett left for me when she left on Sunday. There was wonderful lavender soap and lovely pink socks. The picture on the socks is a little girl and her pet squirrel, each saying “…No, YOU act normal.” There was also a handmade card from my sweet Bridgett. One day I will have a show at an art gallery with all the one of a kind cards she has made me over the years.

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Card and Socks!

Then, during the day, my vice principal Erin brought me a bouquet of flowers that had been delivered from Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson! There were roses, carnations, and day lilies in a beautiful vase..they looked so pretty on my desk, surrounded by spelling lists and bottles of Elmer’s glue.

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Flowers from my Sweeties

During our school party, I received so many lovely cards and presents from my Room 10 Dragons! Two stuffed bears, a panda, candy candy candy, and a coffee cup. Such wealth! But more important is the love and respect of my sweet students.

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My School Goodies

Finally, this afternoon, Cousin Liza got home from school with HER goodies from school. Cards, candy, stickers, and even bubbles to play with at the park. She sure has nice friends.

I hope you all had a nice Valentine’s Day in Portland, too.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Our Favorite Things Part 2

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Lunchtime had arrived. We walked from the Rec Trail up to Lighthouse Avenue to Tilly Gort’s. It was founded in 1969, and the photograph of its original staff shows a smiling group of children of the 60s. Originally a vegetarian restaurant and coffee house, it has widened its offerings to include vegan and ‘with meat’ menu items, all of which are delicious.

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We had the tofu pesto scramble and Huevos Rancheros, and I had a freshly squeezed carrot juice. It was fabulous! I thought of Bugs Bunny and his oath never to mix radish juice and carrot juice, and that made me laugh. The art on the walls and the great food definitely rejuvenated us for the rest of our day.

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Bridgett at Tilly Gort’s

Further down on Lighthouse is an art-making space called Progress, not Perfection, run by Jessica Ansbury. You pay a fee and get to use their supplies and space to make art. It is popular with birthday parties, but also individuals who live in small spaces and just need room.

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Art Space!

We figured that as long as we were in the neighborhood, we should walk a little further down to Forest and visit our friend Germaine at her shop Imagine Art Supplies. Germaine is also an artist, and her beautiful and inspirational work hangs on the walls, above her well-chosen inventory. Bridgett asked her classic question. “What is your favorite new thing?”

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Germaine in her element

Germaine immediately showed us Porcelain, a newly improved type of pen and paint, which can be used on glass or glazed pottery, fired in a home oven, and become dishwasher and food safe. THIS is a revelation! Bridgett loves decorating recycled to-go coffee cups, and this would allow her to make practical, usable art pieces. Very Exciting. We said good bye to Germaine and her shop cat, and headed off with several jars and pens to try out.

Bearing our prize purchases, we headed back down to the Rec Trail back to the Aquarium, where we caught the Monterey Free Trolley. We had walked a long way and were a bit foot weary. We got off at Alvarado Street so we could see the Plaza and shops on our way to the Transit Plaza.

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Monterey Free Trolley

Realizing we were early for our bus home, we stepped into Old Capitol Books, a used book store with a great selection. There was also a poetry reading going on, so we had the lovely experience of milling about in literature and art with the satisfying cadences of poetry floating over our heads.

We caught the number 20 back to Uncle David’s house and crashed until dinner and Bridgett’s departure. Our friend Mark Gurley, the best Lyft driver on the planet, came by and whisked her away to the San Jose Airport.

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Me and my girl

 

 

It has been too short a visit, but I will see her soon!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Our Favorite Things Part 1

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Sun on the Bay

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

After visiting so many of her favorite people, yesterday was a day of seeing all of Auntie Bridgett’s favorite things. Uncle David gave us a ride to Monterey and dropped us near the Recreation Trail and Fisherman’s Wharf.

We stopped in at The Wharf Market for coffee. This is an old building that used to be the chandlery, which is a fancy name for a boat stuff store. It has become a coffee and pastry shop, produce market, and wine bar. The people are friendly and the coffee was good.

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Fresh Veggies at The Wharf Market

We wandered toward the Fisherman’s Wharf, a very touristy part of the city, enjoying the chilly sunshine and all the sights and smells….whale watching boats loading up, caramel corn being made, seagulls gulling…very pleasant. We thought about the shops that used to be here and have gone elsewhere or gone under.

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Our Offering to Doc Ricketts
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Bridgett, Fisherman, and Cat

Following the Rec Trail, we passed  the familiar and beloved statues of Santa Rosalia, Doc Ricketts, and memorials to the divers and fishermen of the area. There is always such a variety of people in Monterey. We passed the posh hotels welcoming visitors in town for the AT&T Golf Tournament, and the souvenir shops with customers wearing t-shirts with rude slogans on them.

We passed the Boatworks Boat repair yard and noticed this piece of sculpture which is almost complete, just getting the last coats of paint. It seemed odd, but made sense. Where else in town is there room to work on something this big? I wonder where it is headed.

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Sculpture Almost Finished

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Realizing it was nearing lunchtime, we weighed our options and decided on Tilly Gort’s on Lighthouse Avenue. More on that next time!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

Brunch

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

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Auntie Bridgett and I took a long walk the other day. We started at The Bagel Bakery on West Alisal, for coffee…because Auntie Bridgett doesn’t go very far without coffee. Then we walked downtown. We visited our friend Adrian at her shop, The Blue Aces Bakery, and got tasty coated sugar-pecans and walked out to the market to get flowers for our brunch hosts.

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Adrian at Blue Aces Bakery

We continued down Main Street and turned off at George and Mimi’s house. They were hosting us and our friend Dan Beck, who runs Salinas Book and Sound. He brought his guitar along and played some  music as we told stories and enjoyed George’s delicious waffles with all the trimmings.

George and Mimi host their brunches in their back yard, which they have recently turned into a patio “par excellence”. There is shade, space for a lovely table (made by George) with a large lazy Susan (made by George), two barbecues, and electrical outlets for the waffle irons! There is art on the walls, flowers all around, and cats!

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Reddy the cat was my personal host for the morning. As soon as I sat down, he showered me with feline attention, which I recognized is a rare and beautiful thing. We hit it off and at the end of the morning, I was allowed to give him two tiny scraps of ham, which sealed our engagement, I think.

Before we left, George, Mimi, Bridgett and I stood in their living room and talked about everything under the sun. These lovely folks have been around a long time and have such great stories to tell….I wish I could write a book!

Love,

Grandma Judy

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George and Mimi, and Samuel Beckett, printed by Crispo

Out and About in Salinas

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

It is so nice having Auntie Bridgett visit! Harold has missed Bridgettbear.

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Visiting Stuffties

Saturday morning, Auntie Bridgett and I walked downtown for coffee and a walkabout. It has been 8 months since she has seen Salinas, and I wanted to show her than changes… new stores, remodeled houses and such.

Our first stop was Rollick’s Coffee, where Grandpa Nelson still had about a hundred coffees on credit. Barista Savannah and Bridgett are old friends, so there was lots of conversation.

Then we walked up towards the Steinbeck Center to see what sorts of shops are in the new Taylor Building.  Portobello, a restaurant that used to be almost on the south edge of town, has recently moved here, and it is beautiful. Their regular selection of sandwiches, quiches, and salads has been augmented with a full bar and a breakfast menu. Susan, the owner, showed us around her new digs. The back patio has a french feel, with tall wrought iron details and olive trees. We promised to come back for lunch.

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Susan at Portobello

We stepped a bit further along and found Gifts on the Go, a chic and quirky gift shop run by Donna. There are so many lovely things our eyes didn’t know where to go first! Baby clothes and toys, fabulous kitchen gadgets, and cards kept us entertained. There are cookbooks, including an entire book dedicated to macaroni and cheese. It turns out, she spent some time in my hometown of Manhattan Beach. Small world, after all…

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Donna at Gifts on the Go

As we continued along Main Street, we kept running in to people we knew….Darryl the mailman and our friend Marek. This is one of the joys of living in a place so long.

It was so warm, we walked down to The Cherry Bean and got a glass of water before returning to Portobello for lunch. We had a tuna sandwich and ortega chili quiche, with salads of roasted vegetables. So delicious! I also had to try a new beer, Messiah Nut Brown Ale made by the Schmaltz Beer Company of New York. It was such an unlikely name, I had to give it a try, and it was good!

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Schmaltz Beer

When we were full, we walked down to Salinas Book and Sound to see Trish Sullivan and Dan Beck. We had a lively conversation about changes in Downtown Salinas.

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Trish Sullivan

We realized we still had a long walk home ahead of us, so we headed off and got back to Uncle David’s house. We read for about five minutes and fell asleep! All that sun and exercise and conversation just wore us out.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Open House and …..

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Last night was a busy one. Cousin Liza’s Montessori School on Hitchcock Road had their Open House. After a quick dinner Auntie Olga, Liza and I drove out to the school, which across a tiny road from lettuce fields. There were only a dozen or so families, since this was the Open House just for Liza’s class. The older and younger students have their Open Houses separately.

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Liza’s Planet

I love the Montessori School. It is laid out so practically, with everything within easy reach of the students. The lessons are clear and quiet and teach order, patience, fine motor skills, reading and math skills, and even housekeeping. Liza was able to show us the “Teens Board”, where she creates the numbers 10 through 19, using digits and beads.

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Teens Board

 

 

 

 

 

She washed a mirror, experimented with things that float and sink, made bubbles, and even sorted items according to which letter they started with…. using cursive letters! She was having such a good time and we were impressed with the calm and confidence inspired by her teachers.

When our time was up, we left and took Auntie Olga home,  picked up Uncle David, and drove out to the Monterey Airport to pick up…Auntie Bridgett! Yay! On her way back to Portland from a week in San Diego visiting Cousin Madilyn and her family, she is stopping by Salinas for a few days. I have missed her so much!

Auntie Olga had cheese, crackers and wine waiting for us when we got back to the house, and we ate and drank and then headed for bed.

I am looking forward to spending some real quality time with my darling Bridgett before she has to go.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Neighbors!

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

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Uncle David

Yesterday evening Uncle David invited the across-the-street neighbors over for a barbecue and s’mores.When I got home from school, I helped thread the strips of steak, along with tomatoes and peppers, onto the skewers for shish kebabs.

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Table Outside
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Dinner waiting for company

Then we moved the big table outside so we could eat out on the patio, and Uncle David pulled the bounce house out of the shed and inflated it. Liza had fun making sure it was ready!

Mark and Lindsey have a 2 year old named Daniel He brought a small dump truck and enjoyed playing with it in Liza’s sandbox. The grownups talked and the kids played so well together! Liza had fun showing Daniel her toys and was very good about sharing.

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New Friends

When the fire was ready, we put the rack of shish kebabs on, and it sure got hot fast! Mark and Uncle David decided there was just too much fire, so they moved the kebabs to the oven to finish. By that time, it had gotten chilly and they moved the table back inside, as well. The wide doors make that very easy. They didn’t even take the candles or dishes off!

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Doing the Dinner

Dinner was good…we are still learning how to cook over the fire, but it was tasty. Then came the best part: S’mores! I’ve decided that I prefer just plain roasted marshmallows, but watching grownups being kids again is sure fun.

When Daniel started getting tired, the evening ended peacefully. It had been successful and fun. I went to sleep with dreams of marshmallows dancing in my head.

Love,

Grandma Judy