A Day Out with Liza

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

We got to spend all of Sunday with Cousin Liza!

After a tasty breakfast at The Old Monterey Cafe, we fetched Liza from Salinas to begin our adventure.

As usual, the Monterey Bay started out overcast and chilly. Lover’s Point Beach had a fine crowd of visitors anyway because they knew the sun would come out soon.

I introduced Cousin Liza to my watercolor brush pen, and she had fun making a picture of a “C” monster, as well as “T” and “B” Monsters. She is developing a nice, careful painting technique.

We walked down past Lovers Point Park, finding great rocks to climb on and trees to climb. Liza posed with this wonderful statue by Dorothy Fowler. It is called “Yesterday’s Dream, Tomorrow’s Memory”, and always makes me think of the Robert Louis Stevenson poem called “To my Name Child.”

From “To My Name Child” by Robert Louis Stevenson


Some day soon this rhyming volume, if you learn with proper speed,
Little Louis Sanchez, will be given you to read.
Then you shall discover, that your name was printed down
By the English printers, long before, in London Town
. . . . . . . . . . . 

Now that you have spelt your lesson, lay it down and go and play,
Seeking shells and seaweed on the sands of Monterey,
Watching all the mighty whalebones, lying buried by the breeze,
Tiny sandpipers, and the huge Pacific seas.

And remember in your playing, as the sea-fog rolls to you,
Long ere you could read it, how I told you what to do;
And that while you thought of no one, nearly half the world away
Some one thought of Louis on the beach of Monterey!
“Someone thought of Liza on the beach of Monterey…”

We stopped for lunch at The Grill and watched an ocean water polo game out in Lover’s Point Cove. A local seagull made sure we didn’t waste any of our hot dogs.

We visited Dennis the Menace Park and Liza enjoyed the newest installation. It is an incredibly fast spinning thing! I wouldn’t go near it, but she sure had fun.

By this time, we were pretty pooped, so we headed back to our room at the Monterey Hotel for a rest. Grandpa Nelson read the first chapter of The Hobbit out loud and it was just about the best part of the day. I hope Cousin Liza continues her reading.

Once we were rested and brushed the sand off, we met Uncle David (the birthday boy) and Auntie Olga at The Forge in the Forest for dinner. Yummy wine and lasagne, a cozy fire and fun family… the only thing missing was you guys!

I sure loved our visit back to our old haunts. Seeing friends and the ocean filled a bit of an empty space in my heart, and saying goodbye to all of them to fly home Monday morning was hard.


Grandma Judy

Should Old Acquaintance…

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

On Saturday, I woke up to seagulls’ squawks and remembered I was in Monterey. The sun was up, and The Monterey Hotel looked very pretty in the morning light.

I had what the Hobbits call First Breakfast at Red’s doughnuts. This shop has been here for 76 years, and dear Evelyn has been serving goodies and pouring coffee for 26 of them! She is a sweet soul who always finds the good in people.

After a delightful custard filled maple bar and conversation, I wandered around a bit, listening as Garbage trucks, motorcycles, and gathering groups of tourists joined the seagulls in their racket.

I wandered to Rosine’s on Alvarado to meet my dear friend Donald. We met in French class in 2008 and have been teasing and encouraging each other ever since. We chatted about our current reading selections; Goethe for him, Charlotte Bronte for me.

Grandpa Nelson had his own turn at Red’s, then we headed to Salinas to see more friends. Fellow retired teacher Pat and her son John were lively company, as usual.

George and Mimi gave us a yummy tomato gallette and mimosas for brunch.

We stopped by Downtown Books to wish Trish Sullivan a happy birthday, and picked up a copy of The Hobbit for Cousin Liza.

Needless to say, after all this visiting, we needed a rest! We crashed at Uncle David’s place to recharge our social batteries.

Our final step was the Hughes’ household, where we enjoyed cake and both Japanese and French wines. A tour of Rick’s homemade tea house, complete with altar and incense, and a game of catch between Cousin Liza and Kevin, made for a lively evening.

When we were just at the end of our conversation, we hugged everyone goodbye and headed back to the hotel. The road between Salinas and Monterey is pretty, even at night… dark silhouettes of oaks against the soft grey overcast.

More about our adventure tomorrow!


Grandma Judy

Heading South

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

I usually write this blog to your cousin Liza, but I was with her this weekend, so I will tell you two all about it.

It was your Uncle David’s birthday, so Grandpa Nelson and I took a plane (for the first time in three years!) down to Monterey to help him celebrate. In these Covid times, it was a little scary getting into an enclosed space with so many strangers. But everyone kept their masks on, and the plane wasn’t even very full.

We had a lovely lunch at the Crazy Horse Golf and Country Club.

This very pretty place is owned by Uncle David’s boss Don Chapin and is a perfect place to eat, play with Grandpa Nelson’s hat, or to show how far you can jump.

We drove into town and spent the rest of the day playing catch, eating yummy cheese and crackers, and catching up on family stories with Uncle David and Auntie Olga. This is the sort of dinner visit we used to have every Wednesday evening, and I have missed them!

When the evening was over, we borrowed Uncle David’s car and drove to the Monterey Hotel on Alvarado Street. This place is over a hundred years old! For this evening, however, that didn’t matter. We had flown, driven, eaten and drank all we could, and it was time to sleep.

Whew! That was Friday, and a mighty full day it was. I will tell you about Saturday tomorrow!!


Grandma Judy

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.

Enter a caption


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