Reading the Signs

Dear Liza,

There is an expression,”It’s a sign of the times.” This usually means something is a clear, visual example of what is happening. Today I decided to share some of my signs of different times with you.

When I first started traveling to Europe, I was struck by signs and posters that would not have existed in the U.S.

In Cambridge……

This 300 year old sign for Jesus Lane is on the campus of Jesus College at Cambridge University in England. In our country, religion has become so politicized and I doubt this sign would survive vandalism.

In London…..

On the other side of the coin, this poster for theater tickets would probably be considered too weird for the American market. It’s ironic that in a country that touts Free Speech there is such a “you can’t say/show/ wear that” reaction.

Man wrestling with an umbrella

This street construction warning sign makes me laugh, because of its original nickname in England, “Man wrestling with umbrella.” Also, if you look closely at the smaller sign, horrible things are happening.

In Paris…..

Other signs make me smile because of where they are. Seeing this wonderful sign showing an entrance to the Paris metro would mean I am in that magical city.


And not far from that sign is this one, for the narrowest street still existing in the ancient part of Paris. The name means “The Street of the Cat Who Fishes.”

Back in California, this sign touches my heart and feeds all my senses. Crows and cypress trees grow in my happy place at Asilomar, and looking at this parking sign, I can smell the fog and feel the sand between my toes. Oh, and taste the good food at The Fishwife, just up the hill a bit.

Missing Asilomar…

And in my new home, there are signs, too. This one, at The Enchanted Forest south of Portland, is greatly improved by Jasper showing his high score on the “Return to Mordor” ride.

Being with kidlets….

And these signs at a protest for the Trump administration’s policy of separating and imprisoning immigrant families touched my heart and let me know I was in good company.

Finding kindred spirits…

What are your signs of the times? What visuals make you smile, or travel to another time or place?


Grandma Judy

Treasure Hunting

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Donald being Donald

Having such a short time to visit friends and places here in California, yesterday I combined one of my favorite people, Donald, with my favorite place, THE BEACH. I wanted to explore a part of the Sand City beach that has interesting things, just off of Highway 1.

The View from the top

We parked on a little road that leads to an old sand and gravel company. The gate was open, so we walked right in. Walking past old equipment and broken chunks of concrete and asphalt felt like we had found the ruins of an ancient city. The high dune above the beach had been covered with poured concrete of different textures, and looked like a lava flow.

Weird concrete pours

We had fun taking pictures of the rocks, sand, and even a lizard who was very comfortable on his broken boulder. Nearby is a huge sand dune that was used by the city as a dump for many years. Because the sand and the stuff dumped in it are always shifting, you have to be careful and wear heavy shoes, because there are sharp and dangerous things. But it sure is interesting!

Climbing straight up a steep, soft sand dune, we found some old rusty chain, bits of beach glass and pottery, as well as new glass and bits of metal. Near the top we found a fellow sleeping in his tent, so we headed off and left him in peace.

On a bluff with a beautiful view, we found benches dedicated to people who had helped Sand City. Police chief Staples and Jerry Smith, men who worked hard to make the city successful, were people I had known when I lived in the area and worked on different committees. It was good to have a quiet visit in such a lovely place.

Donald and Jerry Smith

When we left the beach, Donald wanted to go by the Orchard Supply Hardware store. This country wide chain of really good stores has been around for 90 years, and they are all going to be closed by the end of this year! It makes me sad that 45,000 people will be out of a job, and that folks won’t have this store to help them fix up their houses.

Wonderful Store, Sad Closing

We got Donald’s buckets, hummingbird feeders, and wind chime, walked back to the car and he drove me to Salinas. I was exhausted, but I didn’t care. I felt full of joy, sunshine, and friendship. At Uncle David’s house, I looked at the treasures I had put in my pocket, but realized the real treasures were kept in my heart.

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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!


Grandma Judy