S’mores!

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Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),

One thing that is different about Salinas from Portland is that it is warmer here. January in Portland is a stay-inside month, mostly. It tends to be very wet and cold. But here, your daddy set up the Solo fire pit in the backyard and we all spent an hour outside!

The little fire pit is made of metal and designed to let lots of air in to help the fire burn. It was so pretty watching it in the dark. We bundled up a little, but no umbrellas were required.

And of course, if there is fire, there must be … marshmallows! Bamboo sticks and marshmallows came out and we practiced roasting. Close enough, but not too close, or you get a burning wad of sticky charcoal.

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Roasting practice

Once we got the hang of that, your daddy brought out graham crackers and chocolate for S’mores! It is very tricky to hold a melty marshmallow, slice of chocolate and cracker altogether, but we will get better as we practice.

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Mommy balancing a s’more

After we had enjoyed some s’mores, you and I practiced fencing with the sticky sticks. Cross, cross, touch…like slow motion Musketeers. Then you discovered you could put the sticks between the boards of the porch and make a marshmallow tree!

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Marshmallow tree

It is so much fun being here!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Steinbeck Adventure

Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),

Monday was a holiday from school, so Liza and I went on an adventure. We started in the morning, when it was cold enough we needed our jackets. We stopped by Hartnell Park first, to play for a while. We met an old friend of Liza’s, Victor, who can speak a little Russian.

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Off for our Adventure!

Our next stop was Hartnell College. We watched folks play tennis and found some interesting statues. We had fun with the Panther, who was carved in 1934! He has been here being adorable all these years. We found a girl walking with her mommy, and she and Liza played with the Panther for a while.

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Friend and Panther

 

 

Once we got downtown, we found The National Steinbeck Center. It is a huge museum that tells all about John Steinbeck and the books he wrote. It has a red pony to ride and comb, and a house like one the people lived in in a story called “Sweet Thursday”.

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Working with The Red Pony

We spent an hour at the Center, and got hungry! Farm Fresh deli got us back on track, and we went back into the Center. Liza wanted to celebrate a “Pretend Birthday” in the pipe house, so we did. What a great time!

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Pipe House Birthday

Once we were just worn out, we headed home, stopping by Blue Aces Bakery to get a snack. We chatted with Adrian and her assistant, who happens to be a girl named Katrina that I knew when she was little.

We walked back by Hartnell College, when Liza had a nice rest on the Panther’s back. She didn’t want to leave the Panther behind, so she hooked it up to a pretend leash and it quietly followed us home.

 

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A Girl and Her Panther

Then, nap time!!!

Love,

Grandma Judy

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Putting a Leash on the Panther

 

Old Friends

Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),

Down here in Salinas, we had more Christmas presents waiting for us. Auntie Olga’s Mom Alla got a new kippah for Grandpa Nelson, and it looks wonderful!

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Handsome Grandpa Nelson

I am having fun getting to know Salinas again. Grandpa Nelson and I went walking and found dome old friends, a Tiny Free Library and Squirrels, both just like we have in Portland.

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Tiny Free Library

We have been eating at our favorite places, too. We had Mexican food at Michael’s in Old Town Salinas. I haven’t found Mexican food this good in Portland. Maybe I need to keep looking.

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Uncle David and Liza

Last night we got dressed up and went to dinner at Patria, our favorite spot in Old Town. They have great food, friendly people, and their house wine is called Troublemaker and is delicious.

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Michael’s

We also visited people friends. Rick showed us his model of Notre Dame Cathedral that he had made for Christmas. I told him and the family all about Portland and they caught me up on news here.

 

 

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Rick his Cathedral

I am glad I will be here all spring!

Love,

Grandma Judy

 

 

 

Landing in Salinas

Dear Liza (and Jasper and Kestrel),

On Wednesday I arrived in my old city of Salinas. I am staying at your house! It will be fun and different. So I am writing this blog to Cousins Jasper and Kestrel too, so they can know what I am up to.

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Yangtse

First, I got all my stuff unpacked in the guest room. I brought a lot of stuff because I am staying so long! Then we went to dinner at Yangtse’s Taste of Thai. I love their spicy seafood soup. I was so tired after dinner I went right to sleep.

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Salinas High School

Thursday I got up early and walked all over south Salinas to see old favorite places. I think the High School is the prettiest building in town. I saw some old friends, too, in a way that I will miss again when I leave in June.

Walking to the the Cherry Bean…. see a friend. Going to the Post Office…see a friend. I don’t get this in Portland, because I don’t have many friends there yet.

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Sassy

I went by our house (that now belongs to someone else), and stopped by to see our old neighbors Leroy and Ann and our cat Sassy, who moved in with them years ago. They have all been good company for each other.

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Goopy Leaves

It was fun seeing some similarities and differences between Portland and Salinas. Salinas also has leaves that get slippery when they aren’t raked up, but it has roses still blooming in January, unlike Portland.

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Roses in January

Things that have changed since I was here are the new red doors on the fire station on Alisal, and the asbestos clean-up at the Courthouse. Something that hasn’t is the Dick Bruhn building which was gutted by fire years ago and still has had nothing done to restore it. (Sigh).

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New Doors on the Fire Station
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Still wrapped up Dick Bruhn Store

This morning I start teaching again! Wish me luck.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Getting Ready!

Dear Liza,

Well, we are almost there. Grandpa Nelson and I fly down to see you and our old neighborhood in Salinas TOMORROW! The day after that I meet my new students and have a staff meeting, just like a real teacher. Oh, my.

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My stuff

But first things first. I spent yesterday packing up all the stuff I will need in my six months with you. Clothes, books, everything. It seems like a lot! And of course, my teaching hat.

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Auntie Katie and Grandpa Nelson

We spent yesterday evening with Auntie Katie and the cousins. We had so much fun! We cooked and ate, talked about music (I didn’t know Dave Bowie did duets with Freddie Mercury) and danced.

Of course, there was considerable silliness, as well.

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Teaching Jasper…something silly, no doubt

 

We helped Auntie Katie move a big, heavy couch down her long, skinny stairs, which was like putting roller skates on a whale, but it all worked out, with only a few bruises.

See you tomorrow!

Love,

Grandma Judy