Dear PeeVee

Dear Liza,

Today I am writing about our dear friend Pat van Noy, whom we call Peevee. It is her birthday!

I met Peevee about 20 years ago when she came to University Park Elementary School as a reading coach. She had taught in her own classroom for years, and, one last day of school, she decided to quit. She took a few years off, discovered she missed the kids, and came back to work part time.

We got to be friends and had so much fun together we just kept getting together. I met her son John, who has a different last name, working for a service group in town.

“You teach at University Park?” He asked. “You must know my Mom!”

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“Pat van Noy.” He answered.

I was so pleased. “She’s my favorite old broad!”

“Mine, too.” He said, and we got to be friends, as well.

She came to parties at our house and got to know Auntie Bridgett, Grandpa Nelson, and, of course, Harold the Stufftie. When we traveled to France and sent emails to friends, Peevee printed them all out and put them in a three ring binder for us to keep. It was so thoughtful! Because of her, we can re-visit our first impressions of Europe way back in 2008.

And Liza, when you got born and were big enough to visit, she got to know you, too.

Happy birthday, Peeves! I wish I could celebrate with you.


Grandma Judy

With a Little Help…

Dear Liza,

Grandpa Nelson, me, and Ruthie, many years ago

I don’t know if you know it, but some other people read these letters I write to you. One of my oldest friends read my letter about being sad yesterday, and she wrote me!

Her name is Ruth Inman and we met in high school, a whole long time ago. We were in choir together and had lots of fun singing and being silly together. Then life got complicated and she moved away, and we lost touch. Many years later, we found each other and Grandpa Nelson and I stopped to see her in Illinois on our very first trip to Europe.

A more recent picture of Ruthie.. isn’t she pretty?

Then a whole bunch of years went by again and we found each other on Facebook! She is still in Illinois, and she is an artist, like Auntie Bridgett! We have so much in common, sewing and loving art and finding our footing as grandmas and self-quarantined people.

Her words of encouragement helped pull me out of feeling sad, and I got up and did some things… filing old bank statements, making chili, going for a walk (yes, I wore my mask). And sure enough, I felt better.

It’s sure nice to have friends out there in the world.

Love, Grandma Judy

Retirement Festivities, Part 3

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Illustrated Jack and Jill

Yesterday was a wonderful, long, happy day! At school, we had a wonderful discussion about what cities do to remove their trash. We did art and writing, with more students finishing their cardboard constructions and their stories. While the kids were working on their projects, I continued packing. All our shelves are now empty and dusted, ready for the kindergarten classes to come in.

All packed up!

It was also Crazy Hair Day! Kids came with dyed hair, hair piled up on top of their heads, and even a few sculptures…like on young lady who used a soda bottle! Friday afternoon was Fun Friday, so all three classes (except for a few kids who were in trouble) got to play kickball, have races on the track, or climb on the Panther Palace.

That’s some Crazy Hair!

After school was my third retirement celebration! The lady from Portobello’s brought quiches and salads, Auntie Olga helped set up the beer and wine, and Jamie Gaynor brought four dozen of her wonderful cupcakes!

Dear Pat van Noy and Mr. Burgess

Me, Leslie Carter, and Anne Crawford

Friends that I have known for thirty years, like Rochelle Breschini and Stefanie Burgess came and got to meet new friends like Emma Mandella, Heather Gattis, and Shawn Quiane. Mrs. Breschini was Auntie Katie’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Burgess was her first grade teacher! We go way back.

Mrs. Burgess and Mrs. Breschini

Our friends Mimi and George Niesen came, as well. It was quite an afternoon. When Uncle David and Liza woke up from their naps, they joined the party. Everyone ate and drank as much as they could, but there was still quite a lot left over. We sent some quiches and salads, and even some cupcakes, home with folks. Yummy party leftovers!

Liza, me, and Emma Mandella

By the end of the evening, I was done in. I was so full of friendship and love (and good food and wine) that I dropped right off to sleep.

Love, Grandma Judy




Accidental Monterey

Fun with sandpipers and filters

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

Today was a Saturday, and I had no obligations! First, Liza and I woke up and played a game that her Baba Alla had brought from Russia. The fun part was, the rules were in Russian, so we couldn’t read them. We got to figure out how to play by looking really closely at the cards. Turns out, it was an “opposites” game. Black,white, long, short, fragile, durable, things like that. It was fun to watch Liza figure it out!

Russian opposites game

Then Liza and her Momma went on an adventure to The Monterey Bay Aquarium and to visit with some friends. I figured that I would go for a walk around Salinas. I bundled up and headed off. As I was walking, I was chatting with Auntie Bridgett on the phone. “Why are you walking around Salinas?” She asked. “Head for the ocean and walk on the beach!” So I did.

John Cerney art in Seaside

The Number 20 bus runs right down West Alisal, and goes to Monterey, but I got off in Seaside. I wanted to walk along and beach and end up in Monterey for lunch. Stopping at Starbucks (which I never do!) to get warmed up, I headed under the freeway and walked on the sand. Heading south, in one of those wonderful accidental miracles, I ran into my old friend Barbara Snell, who was heading north. She is a beach-walker, too, and had a bag of trash she had collected. We caught up and chatted and then went on our ways.

Me and Barb

Once I got to Monterey, there was a lot to see. There was a Jade Festival, where people were selling beautifully polished stones of all sorts…jade, quartz, hematite, and even iron pyrite, which is called “fool’s gold”. There was a jazz combo with a singer, and I listened to them for a while. They were delightfully smooth, even in the blustery grey weather. Of course, the historic architecture is always fun to look at.

Classy architecture at Franklin and Calle Principal

For lunch I decided on The Crown and Anchor, a wonderfully kitchy English- Style Pub on Franklin. They were decorated for the Royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, and I watched some of the wedding re-plays on the news broadcast and I had roasted corn soup and bread.

Inside the Crown and Anchor

While I was eating and realizing how tired I was, I checked my phone and saw that I had walked about 3 miles along the sand. It was time to go home. I walked up Alvarado to the Monterey Transit Plaza and caught the good old Number 20 back home.

Tomorrow, Auntie Olga, Cousin Liza and I  plan to celebrate (belatedly) the Royal Wedding and get haircuts!


Grandma Judy