Back in Salinas for May

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

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It was so much fun visiting you in Portland! Grandpa Nelson enjoyed spending his birthday with you, and we got lots of work done on our new house. But I have 19 more teaching days to do, so I am back in Salinas. Yesterday, Uncle David picked me up at the airport and took me to the Club at Crazy Horse for dinner. Good company, very tasty food, and lovely scenery!

Today started out with Liza enjoying her new comics from Auntie Katie’s shop, Books with Pictures.IMG_0340.jpg

After breakfast, it was time for a nice adventure. The weather was warm and sunny, so Liza and I packed some snacks and our overdue library books and headed downtown. We had snacks with the Hartnell Panther, who then followed us downtown. Liza says he can sense where we are, so he doesn’t need a leash.

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We continued to the Steinbeck Center, and  visited the Red Pony, Tom Joad and the Pipe House, as well as fishing for sardines off a small boat. It was a fun imaginary trip.

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We were hungry for a snack, but Blue Aces was closed! Liza was so disappointed, but we decided to try Portobello’s…no ice cream. The Cafe and Deli? Closed. Finally, we stopped in at the Monterey Coast Brewing Company and THEY had ice cream! Hooray! And even a lemon tart for me. No beer, though. I’m on duty.

Refreshed, we headed to the Steinbeck Library, played, and got some new books. It was getting windy and cold, and I was grateful for the jackets Auntie Olga had insisted we take along. We had to run for the bus, but we caught it and were home at 2:00…just in time for a nice long nap.

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Love,

Grandma Judy

Adventures in Transit

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

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Auntie Olga, ready to roll!

Today was another adventure. Auntie Olga, Cousin Liza and I went to the John Steinbeck library, but this time, we took the bus! We figured with the bus ride replacing the mile walk, we could enjoy more time at our destination. Since both the number 20 and the number 25 bus run between our house and downtown Salinas, even on a Sunday we don’t wait more than a half hour for a bus, and much less if you plan right.

We left the house earlier than usual, and Auntie Olga still had her coffee cup. Liza found some lemon grass and noticed that the leaves look like hearts! Somewhere along the way, Liza found part of a pencil sharpener and started creating tiny bouquets in it…blades of grass, a tiny belladonna daisy, and some small magnolia seed pods.

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Chatting with John
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Liza explaining her bouquet

She was explaining all the bits of loveliness in her creation when we noticed that Rick’s brother Kevin was riding up on his bike! We had hugs all around before the bus came and took us to the Steinbeck library. We turned in books, got new ones, and Liza made us a fabulous pretend lunch from the library’s toy kitchen. We realized that we weren’t just pretend hungry, we were really hungry!

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Liza’s food truck

Auntie Liza suggested lunch downtown, so we walked to Portobello’s new location on Main. They were closing in 15 minutes, so we took our seats at a table outside to enjoy our burgers and quiches. The food was very good, and I introduced Auntie Olga to Messiah Beer. The weather was cool, but we had coats and were very comfortable.

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Driving Auntie Olga

In the Steinbeck Center, Liza had fun showing her mommy all her favorite things…the red pony, the model A car, the children in the migrant field camp, and Doc Ricketts’ boat. And as she looked at the exhibits, Auntie Olga’s mind was racing…how could she use this museum as a teaching resource for her class at Central Coast High School? John Steinbeck’s work encompasses history, literature, and science. The museum itself is a graphic artist’s dream. I got the business card of the director so Auntie Olga could contact her about curriculum.

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“I nearly always write…just as I nearly always breathe.”

When we were done at the museum, we walked just across Salinas Street to the transit center and caught a bus within a few minutes. We walked the few blocks home and nodded off into napland.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Out and About in Salinas

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

It is so nice having Auntie Bridgett visit! Harold has missed Bridgettbear.

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Visiting Stuffties

Saturday morning, Auntie Bridgett and I walked downtown for coffee and a walkabout. It has been 8 months since she has seen Salinas, and I wanted to show her than changes… new stores, remodeled houses and such.

Our first stop was Rollick’s Coffee, where Grandpa Nelson still had about a hundred coffees on credit. Barista Savannah and Bridgett are old friends, so there was lots of conversation.

Then we walked up towards the Steinbeck Center to see what sorts of shops are in the new Taylor Building.  Portobello, a restaurant that used to be almost on the south edge of town, has recently moved here, and it is beautiful. Their regular selection of sandwiches, quiches, and salads has been augmented with a full bar and a breakfast menu. Susan, the owner, showed us around her new digs. The back patio has a french feel, with tall wrought iron details and olive trees. We promised to come back for lunch.

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Susan at Portobello

We stepped a bit further along and found Gifts on the Go, a chic and quirky gift shop run by Donna. There are so many lovely things our eyes didn’t know where to go first! Baby clothes and toys, fabulous kitchen gadgets, and cards kept us entertained. There are cookbooks, including an entire book dedicated to macaroni and cheese. It turns out, she spent some time in my hometown of Manhattan Beach. Small world, after all…

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Donna at Gifts on the Go

As we continued along Main Street, we kept running in to people we knew….Darryl the mailman and our friend Marek. This is one of the joys of living in a place so long.

It was so warm, we walked down to The Cherry Bean and got a glass of water before returning to Portobello for lunch. We had a tuna sandwich and ortega chili quiche, with salads of roasted vegetables. So delicious! I also had to try a new beer, Messiah Nut Brown Ale made by the Schmaltz Beer Company of New York. It was such an unlikely name, I had to give it a try, and it was good!

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Schmaltz Beer

When we were full, we walked down to Salinas Book and Sound to see Trish Sullivan and Dan Beck. We had a lively conversation about changes in Downtown Salinas.

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Trish Sullivan

We realized we still had a long walk home ahead of us, so we headed off and got back to Uncle David’s house. We read for about five minutes and fell asleep! All that sun and exercise and conversation just wore us out.

Love,

Grandma Judy