Rainy Day with Kestrel and Jasper

Dear Liza,

Yesterday I took a walk in the rain down to visit Cousins Jasper and Kestrel. I took an unfinished doll Auntie Bridgett found while cleaning out her studio, and some fabric and other bits. It was a pretty, but drippy, walk, and I was glad for my umbrella.

Bioswale, doing its job

Along the way, I noticed all the swales in people’s yards had filled up. Swales are low parts built into yards, which usually look like dry ponds. Their purpose is to catch rainfall and runoff and let it soak into the aquifer instead of running down the street, carrying oil and pollution to the river.

Yesterday, they were full and happy, looking like actual ponds. I kept looking for frogs, but didn’t see any.

Lovely Kes….

When I got to Auntie Katie’s shop, I gave her some pinwheel cookies and headed upstairs to see the Cousins. They had a day off from school and were in art project mode. Kestrel was making a hibiscus headpiece as part of her Marin costume. Marin is a character from The Legend of Zelda. It is adorable.

And her doll

I showed her the doll and she figured stuff out while Jasper showed me an old video game console with Mario and Luigi punching a giant pink piranha plant.

La Sabrosita, the first food cart at Books with Pictures!

We got hungry and Kes and I braved the rain out to the FIRST food cart, La Sabrosita, in Katie’s parking lot. Basilio and his daughter make good burritos, tacos, and carnitas. We ate back in the house, but on sunny days in summer, the picnic tables are going to be a happy place!

When we finished lunch, it was time for me to head home. I walked, not wanting to end my adventure before I had to. By the time I got home I was very wet and cold, but that’s what dry socks are for!


Grandma Judy

Coming Back Home

Dear Liza,

Yesterday you and your Daddy David drove me up to San Jose so I could fly back up here to Portland. Grandpa Nelson has surgery this week and I want to be here. There are papers to sign, of course, but I also want to keep him company and make sure he is comfortable. Auntie Bridgett has been taking such good care of him, but I miss him.

The Minetta Airport at San Jose was monumentally crowded. It was a full hour from when I walked in the door to when I pushed my carry-on bag through the x-ray machine. The TSA agents kept opening up new loops of lines, like at the Pirates of the Caribbean on a summer afternoon. Those of us feeling like we were going to miss the Portland flight bonded in line.Weird sculpture at San Jose

Flying into Portland was wonderful. The Spring weather had been warm and sunny all week, but changed to welcome me home with heavy grey clouds and quite a pelting rain. Seeing Ross Island and the bridges on the Willamette let me know I was back. For unknown reasons, we flew over the west hills rather than around the east side of the city, so I enjoyed a very different view.

Then Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson met me and we hugged and walked, and walked and hugged, to get my suitcase. I brought home books and other things that are heavy but I won’t be needing my last four weeks in Salinas. It will make packing in June easier, I think.

Then, we were home! My new house on 33rd, which I first saw on the Zillow website in January when my two people started looking at it. When I was here last, in early April, there was no furniture except the piano. It was our house, but it wasn’t a home yet.

But these two wonderful people have been working so hard! Furniture is in, IKEA bookshelves assembled and loaded, and the new couch from Dania gives us a three person sized place to hang out and be together. All the necessities of life have been put away in their proper places.

However, I still don’t know where those places are. At breakfast this morning, I asked every time I needed something. “Sweetie, where is the cereal?” “Where are the tissues?” And I know that just about the time it feels familiar, it will be time to return to Salinas and my Other Life.

Speaking of which, I am realizing why these transfers from Salinas to Portland have felt so jarring. It’s not just that I am in a different place, it’s that I need to be a different person. The expectations of me in each city are very different. As Mrs. Drueding and Grandma Judy, I am endlessly cheerful, patient, and able to adapt my needs to whatever is required at the moment.

Other people’s schedules, arrangements, meetings. Five phone calls in one lesson? “Hello, Room 10”. Watching the kids in the back row passing notes during a math lesson, deliberately NOT noticing and deciding what to do about it while keeping the lesson going? Make it work and keep smiling. It is stressful. It is exhausting. It is why teachers go home wrung out every afternoon.

And of course, in Portland, I am not Mrs. Drueding. I am Judy in the next to the end house. I am Mouse’s other mommy. I am that woman hunkered over old maps of the city at the Historical Society Library, working on a story. I am part-time Grandma Judy to Cousins Jasper and Kestrel.

I have a different life here. And I will have fun living it for a week.


Grandma Judy