Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

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Liza figuring things out

One of my favorite things to do here at Uncle David’s house is read books with Liza. She loves “If you give a Mouse a Cookie” and anything about dinosaurs. Lately she has been reading more to me!

She is learning letters and sounds at her school, and a few months ago she noticed OPEN signs on stores we could go in. Then she saw the same sign on the Steinbeck Library! We checked out books in the Word Bird Series, and she is enjoying recognizing some words and figuring others out.

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She is starting to read everything! The other day she wanted more light in the kitchen so she found the remote control Uncle David made and read  “…k…kitch…kitchen!” She pressed that button and turned the light on. She was so excited! I am sure she will be reading before she goes to school, just like your Mommy did.

Remote Control for Lights

In Uncle David’s house there are also books in Russian, which are gifts from Auntie Olga’s Mommy, Baba Alla. There are bright and colorful, but I can’t read them! I only know four letters in Russian, the four that spell “Liza”.

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Beautiful Russian Book

I don’t know if I will be able to learn to read Russian, but I am practicing speaking it.

“Liza, kudah tapitchki?” (Liza, where are your slippers?)

“Ya niz naito.” (I don’t know.)

“Na.” (Here)

There is sure a lot of learning going on here in Salinas!


Grandma Judy

Winter Gardening

Dear Jasper and Kestrel,

I know it is raining and cold up in Portland where you live, but here in Salinas, it feels like summer! Today was 75 and very sunny.

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Liza with the Hoe

On Sunday, Liza and I took advantage of this lovely weather and started to do some work in the garden. When Auntie Olga and Uncle David bought this house before Cousin Liza was born, there were rose bushes in the back yard. With everyone working so hard and being busy, the roses have been ignored, and one even had a tree (and not a pretty tree, more of a ten foot tall weed) growing right up through it. My first job was to get the tree out, then prune the rose so it had a chance of growing back pretty.

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Weed Tree

Uncle David has some nice tools in his shed, including a fine, strong pair of long handled “loppers” which work great on thick branches. At the bottom, I finally needed to get out the pruning saw, but it was worth it to see the rose ready for spring.

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Pruned and Ready for Spring!

Cousin Liza was very helpful. There are tiny weeds and long bits of grass growing in the flowerbeds. I chopped them with the hoe, then Liza pulled them and threw them into the trash can, which is taller than she is.

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Tiny Liza, Big Trash Can

We made a good team, and by the time Auntie Olga and Uncle David made scrambled eggs and salad for brunch, we were hungry for it!

Glorious Spring!

Then came the adventure. Our books were due at the Steinbeck Library, so we three girls packed snacks and headed off.

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New Books

It was such a warm day, we kept having to find shade to rest in. We drank all our water.

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Resting in the Shade
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Liza and I on the Panther at Hartnell

The library was nice and cool and we didn’t want to leave, but we managed to make it all the way home under our own power. Then, of course, was nap time.

I love my weekends. As John Steinbeck said, “There’s always something to do in Salinas.”


Grandma Judy

To the toy store…and beyond!

Dear Liza, (and Jasper and Kestrel),

Sunday started with breakfast with a teacher friend, Vickeye Welch. We met at First Awakenings at the corner of Main and Gabilan and chatted about friends and future plans.

Once I got home,  Liza and I set out on another adventure. She had asked for some beads to make necklaces out of, and with so many local stores closing, The Club House, which is a lovely store that used to be “Educational Stuff” was the only walk-able choice.

We set our sites, packed snacks, and headed off. Knowing it was going to be a long walk, we by-passed our closest park, Hartnell Park. We continued down West Acacia, stopping to rest on the shady benches at Mission Park School.

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Chillin’ at Mission Park

Arriving at The Club House, we shopped. It is a bright and very full store, with lots of wonderful things. It was hard to stay focused! We found a Melissa and Doug wooden bead set that was designed for Liza’s age, and got that. A snack of some cheese sticks and Hawaiian Rolls, and we were raring to go.

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The Club House

Realizing the library was …..sort of….. on our way home, we walked up Main Street in that direction.

Liza enjoyed getting to climb the wonderfully old California Pepper trees on the front lawn of Salinas High School. A jig-jog through the neighborhood, and we found the John Steinbeck Library.

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Liza and the pepper tree

This is the library I took my kids when they were small, and it is well maintained. There are computers for kids to work and play on, a toy area with kitchen and play food, and of course, books. We checked out Pete the Cat and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you hear?,  then Liza made me a pretend snack of soup and a sandwich, and we headed off again.

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Full view of pepper tree!

Passing Hartnell College, Liza recognized the home of her new friend, the Panther! So we visited for a while, playing with the long afternoon shadows.

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Liza and John Steinbeck

As usual, the last leg of the journey was the hardest. The wind picked up and the sun went behind some clouds, and it got cold! We plowed on, stopping for a few minutes at Hartnell Park before trudging the last block home.

Fun with shadows!

Being in the nice warm house took all our energy away, and we both were asleep very soon. The nap revived us in time for dinner… and I know I’m going to sleep well tonight!


Grandma Judy