Friday Night with George and Mimi

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

This evening I did something very different: I went out for the evening! My dear friends George and Mimi Niesen invited me for dinner and a show.

The Madonna del Sasso

The dinner was one of the Friday night fish feasts at Madonna del Sasso. This is the Catholic Church with the largest social hall and kitchen, so the whole Salinas Catholic community gets together and puts on seafood feasts every Friday during Lent. I’d only ever been inside the church, which is spacious and lovely. The social hall is huge! There were probably 20 tables with 8 people each, and they were mostly full. People were coming and going, talking, eating, drinking really generous pours fairly good red wine from plastic cups, talking to old friends.

This Salinas tradition is very popular and raises money for all the Catholic churches and services in town. It is attended by folks from other churches, too. I saw friends from Temple Beth El and a lovely lady from St. Ansgar’s Lutheran.

social Hall madonna
Room full of happy people!

But before the wonderful grilled shrimp, there was half a steamed artichoke, salad, garlic bread, and pasta with sauce. There were desserts, too, but after all that dinner was gone, I was stuffed.  We said thank you to the servers, who were all volunteers, and headed off to the next part of our evening.

George drove us over to Hartnell College for their Music Extravaganza! It was an evening of music performed by the Orchestra, the Choir, Piano students and the Jazz Band. George said “It’s good to see that music is in good hands!”

The teachers who lead the groups we saw were Sandy Rudo, who heads the choir, and Steve Ettinger, who leads the Jazz Band. Their skill, as well as their affection for their students, was delightfully evident. We heard southern gospel music, selections from “Hamilton” and “Moana”, Chopin, La Llarona (which, fittingly, always makes me cry), George Gershwin, and Count Basie.

Two stand-outs for the evening were young Monica Mendoza and Alexis Munoz. Miss Mendoza sang in the Choir, picked up a flute and played a solo, then, with pianist Alexis Munoz, accompanied the Chamber Singers. Then she grabbed her saxophone case and ran down the hall to play with the Jazz Band!

Alexis Munoz played piano as accompanist to the Choirs, then played for the Jazz band…later we learned that he has only been playing piano for a year. Wonderful talent, great skill, great fun. We wandered out of the Music building, and past the pool to the car. We were still glowing with the joy of hearing such lovely music in this small town of Salinas.

Thank you, George and Mimi, for a wonderful evening out in Salinas!


Grandma Judy


Adventure to Valentines

Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),

Liza Olga Judy off to adventure.jpg
Three Adventurers!

Sunday was another long walk and adventure, but this time your Mommy came with us! We packed salami, cheese, apples and crackers, along with plenty of water, and walked down West Acacia. We showed your mommy where the fairies live by the big rock and the nice benches at Mission Park School.

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Where the fairies live (notice their bells!)

We walked all the way to South Main Street, then turned right and walked to the MYO Frozen Yogurt shop, where we met our dear friends George and Mimi Niesen for treats and conversation. It is always good to talk to these lovely folks; they are busy doing such interesting things!

When we had finished our yogurt, we walked to George and Mimi’s house. In their front yard was the box of succulents Auntie Bridgett gave Mimi when we moved to Portland last year, and they are still growing well! Nice to see they are happy in their new home.

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Happy succulent

Then we went inside and made Valentine’s Day cards! Mimi had doilies, paper, and all sorts of pretty things to cut and paste, and we had lots of fun.

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Delightful George

But the time came, as it always does, where the energy is gone and nap time is calling. We phoned your Daddy who came and fetched us. We thanked our friends, went home, and had naps.

PS. I can’t show the Valentine’s cards…it would ruin the surprise!!



Lovely Mimi




Grandma Judy