On Wednesday I arrived in my old city of Salinas. I am staying at your house! It will be fun and different. So I am writing this blog to Cousins Jasper and Kestrel too, so they can know what I am up to.
First, I got all my stuff unpacked in the guest room. I brought a lot of stuff because I am staying so long! Then we went to dinner at Yangtse’s Taste of Thai. I love their spicy seafood soup. I was so tired after dinner I went right to sleep.
Thursday I got up early and walked all over south Salinas to see old favorite places. I think the High School is the prettiest building in town. I saw some old friends, too, in a way that I will miss again when I leave in June.
Walking to the the Cherry Bean…. see a friend. Going to the Post Office…see a friend. I don’t get this in Portland, because I don’t have many friends there yet.
I went by our house (that now belongs to someone else), and stopped by to see our old neighbors Leroy and Ann and our cat Sassy, who moved in with them years ago. They have all been good company for each other.
It was fun seeing some similarities and differences between Portland and Salinas. Salinas also has leaves that get slippery when they aren’t raked up, but it has roses still blooming in January, unlike Portland.
Things that have changed since I was here are the new red doors on the fire station on Alisal, and the asbestos clean-up at the Courthouse. Something that hasn’t is the Dick Bruhn building which was gutted by fire years ago and still has had nothing done to restore it. (Sigh).
This morning I start teaching again! Wish me luck.
Well, we are almost there. Grandpa Nelson and I fly down to see you and our old neighborhood in Salinas TOMORROW! The day after that I meet my new students and have a staff meeting, just like a real teacher. Oh, my.
But first things first. I spent yesterday packing up all the stuff I will need in my six months with you. Clothes, books, everything. It seems like a lot! And of course, my teaching hat.
We spent yesterday evening with Auntie Katie and the cousins. We had so much fun! We cooked and ate, talked about music (I didn’t know Dave Bowie did duets with Freddie Mercury) and danced.
Of course, there was considerable silliness, as well.
We helped Auntie Katie move a big, heavy couch down her long, skinny stairs, which was like putting roller skates on a whale, but it all worked out, with only a few bruises.
Grandpa Nelson and I drove south yesterday, looking at new neighborhoods that we might want to live in.
The first area we stopped at was Creston, by SE Powell and Cesar Chavez Boulevard. Creston Park is about half the size of Laurelhurst Park at 14 acres. It has a small forested bit, tennis courts, a swimming pool, and nice walking paths around. Since it was Sunday, we heard churchbells.The rain kept most folks away…. it was just a few dogs, the rain, and the crows and squirrels that own the place.
We continued 3 miles further south and found Sellwood. It is an old neighborhood, with houses built around 1910. Some of the streets have median strips planted with huge trees that will make a green canopy in the summer.
There are also great parks there. We walked through the Westmoreland Park Nature Playground. It is 42 acres of streams, geese, a really interesting climbing structure, and fun bridges. We walked a long way through the park and into the neighborhood, to a small business district near Bybee and SE Milwaukie Avenue. We stopped in at The Limehouse Restaurant and Lounge for lunch, and we found great french fries and friendly people.
Continuing down the cold, rainy street, we found a dozen or so coffee houses and chose cozy Rose City in which to warm up. The barista was fun and friendly and the tea and coffee very good, with free re-fills! There are regular cafe tables and chairs but also an elegant sofa and armchair. We saw a young man getting Japanese lessons, quiet conversations, and a fellow working on his laptop.
The most surprising shop we saw was Buttercraft….. a shop that sells wine and butter, and maybe other things. Even for a city known for being “foodie heaven”, this seems extreme. I wanted to go in, but the butter folks apparently don’t do business on Sunday. I will investigate further when I can.
Grandpa Nelson and I walked back through the neighborhood to look at a house that was for sale. It was old and had not been taken care of…. foundation unstable, old oil heater, electricity and floors that will need replacing. Ugh.
We drove back into our own Belmont neighborhood and found other houses for sale. Some were lovely and some just quirky.
By almost 5 o’clock, it was time to go home and crash…so we did!
Yesterday Grandpa Nelson and I helped Auntie Bridgett and our friend Jack Kent set up an art show at Motivasi Coffee, up on NE 42nd and Prescott.They have good coffee and very tasty muffins. Amanda, the lady who was working there, was friendly and helpful.
Jack draws a funny comic strip called “Gulls”, about a nutty group of seagulls, but he also does sketches of people he sees on the street, called “Sketchy People”. His Sketchy People and Auntie Bridgett’s Coffee Fairy collages are the main part of this show.
It took a while to figure out whose work was going where, and whether Jack’s and Bridgett’s work should be mixed together or hung separately, but once they figured that out, the work went pretty quickly. I held hammers and helped Auntie Bridgett, and Grandpa Nelson helped Jack. It was fun being the Minions and seeing the show come together.
Finally, it all looked like they wanted it to, and we packed up the bubble wrap and empty boxes. The show is up now and will stay up until late February. Jack and Bridgett will have a reception to meet people there on January 13, but I will be down with you by then.
We got home and had a walk around the neighborhood. Passing by the flamingo house, we saw Katherine, the lady who owns the flamingos, out tending her yard.
Today, the flamingos are set up to be ready for the Women’s March on January 21st. The are wearing colorful capes and tiny pink hats. They are, as usual, adorable.
I will be coming to Salinas to stay with you for a while, so last night was my last Friday in Portland for about 2 months. To make sure I didn’t miss my new city too much, Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett took me out to some of my favorite places.
During the day, Bridgett and I walked down to the Belmont Library to return some books. We enjoyed the decorations in the Sunnyside neighborhood. We always see something new!
Since it was very dark and rainy when we left the house, I wore my light-up coat and Bridgett wore her new light-up HAT! We were colorful, I tell you. But we were easy for drivers to see.
We walked down to the Hobnob, a funny, friendly place on SE 34th and Morrison. They have good food, the drinks we like (including stout beer for me and Absinthe for Auntie Bridgett) and a really comfortable atmosphere. There was a birthday party going on for a fellow and we got to sing with all his friends. There were french fries for Grandpa Nelson, a pulled pork slider for Auntie Bridgett, and a cup of roasted pepper chicken soup and some macaroni and cheese for me. Yummy!
Then, since I had filled my pockets with quarters, we walked around the corner to The Belmont Inn, where our favorite pinball game lives. Monster Bash! We played 2 sets of five games each and had a lot of fun. It wasn’t a great night for scoring though…. we only got one monster to wake up.
As we were walking home, we noticed…wait, could it be? Yes, The Nerd Out, which we had been watching since the Belmont Street Fair in September, is finally open for business! We HAD to go see it!
First impressions were very good, as there were a half dozen Vespas and other scooters out front. The space is full of small tables, people, conversation, and comic stuff. One long wall is wallpapered with pages out of comic books and a shelf running all around the place is full of action figures. There is a full bar and a good menu. We were full of dinner and drinks, but they have desserts!
Grandpa Nelson had an Un-birthday Cake, and Auntie Bridgett and I shared a Seasonal Cream Brulee, which had wonderful diced apples on top of the hard shell of sugar. We talked to Mitch, the owner, chef and head Nerd. We had met him at the street fair, and it was wonderful to see him running the business he had dreamed of. He was so excited to tell us about his upcoming events, a Grand Opening on January 18th and a Cosplay night on the last Thursday of the month.
It is a new year, and I am looking forward to some more big changes. I will be coming to Salinas to stay with you for a few months while I teach, and my life here in Portland will be put on hold. Grandpa Nelson and Auntie Bridgett will stay here and take care of Mouse the kitten, the houseplants, and their jobs…but we won’t be together. This will be weird, and sometimes sad.
Before looking forward, though, I want to look back on the crazy trip that got me here and what I love about Portland.
During the hot Summer, we learned about getting around on air-conditioned buses and trains. We got to visit our new favorite Laurelhurst Park with Auntie Katie and the cousins. We even walked to the Willamette River and put our feet in!
It was fun getting to show you all the things in our new city, like the zoo.
The biggest thing that we learned about is the weather. It rains a lot here, and we are getting used to asking Google if we should take an umbrella. It even snows! This takes getting used to, but is such a nice change from highs of 70 and lows of 50 that I don’t mind.
I have fallen in love with the theater and art here in Portland. Theaters are made from old churches, warehouses, and even set up in parks. Art and music are everywhere.
People playing music, reciting and writing poetry on street corners just isn’t something we saw in Salinas, and it is a real treat.
And of course, the history! I have been studying about Portland’s past…it’s buildings, trolley cars, and people. It is just about as old as Salinas, but since it is a bigger city, it has more stories.
There is so much I love about Portland. I will miss it, and then return in June to re-discover my new city all over again.