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, across a tiny road through 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

Winter Gardening

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

I know it is raining and cold up in Portland where you live, but here in Salinas, it feels like summer! Today was 75 and very sunny.

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Liza with the Hoe

On Sunday, Liza and I took advantage of this lovely weather and started to do some work in the garden. When Auntie Olga and Uncle David bought this house before Cousin Liza was born, there were rose bushes in the back yard. With everyone working so hard and being busy, the roses have been ignored, and one even had a tree (and not a pretty tree, more of a ten foot tall weed) growing right up through it. My first job was to get the tree out, then prune the rose so it had a chance of growing back pretty.

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Weed Tree

Uncle David has some nice tools in his shed, including a fine, strong pair of long handled “loppers” which work great on thick branches. At the bottom, I finally needed to get out the pruning saw, but it was worth it to see the rose ready for spring.

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Pruned and Ready for Spring!

Cousin Liza was very helpful. There are tiny weeds and long bits of grass growing in the flowerbeds. I chopped them with the hoe, then Liza pulled them and threw them into the trash can, which is taller than she is.

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Tiny Liza, Big Trash Can

We made a good team, and by the time Auntie Olga and Uncle David made scrambled eggs and salad for brunch, we were hungry for it!

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Glorious Spring!

Then came the adventure. Our books were due at the Steinbeck Library, so we three girls packed snacks and headed off.

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New Books

It was such a warm day, we kept having to find shade to rest in. We drank all our water.

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Resting in the Shade
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Liza and I on the Panther at Hartnell

The library was nice and cool and we didn’t want to leave, but we managed to make it all the way home under our own power. Then, of course, was nap time.

I love my weekends. As John Steinbeck said, “There’s always something to do in Salinas.”

Love,

Grandma Judy