Kestral’s Zoomy Bithday

Dear Liza,

We have now celebrated our fourth family birthday under the Corona virus isolation. Cousin Kestrel turned 9!

The guest list

As before, it was a Zoom birthday party. But this time, Auntie Katie made cupcakes and delivered them to the guests’ houses! So we got cupcakes with tiny dragons, kittens, and birthday candles on them. I know it made her day more complicated, but it sure was nice.

Kestrel and Jasper were at their Daddy Dave’s house, and once all the cupcakes had been delivered, we all lit the candles, sang, and blew them out. It was almost like being together. Kestrel opened her present from her Denver grandparents, a pretty dress with flying unicorns (which are called alincorns, as you know) printed on it.

I didn’t get a picture of Red Bob, sorry….

Dave had set up a Minecraft game online so everyone could play together, but since everyone has different equipment, it took a while. Vivian, one of Kes’s friends, passed the time by introducing us to her pencil topper, a one inch high rubber toy, who she calls “Red Bob.” Apparently he has a theme song, which goes, “Red Bob will eat you, Red Bob will eat you.”

Of course, this started us all on a line of thinking… Red Bob should be a YouTube star! He needs a melody for that song, and a refrain, something like “Yum, yum yum…”. This could be great!

Lenin’s fireworks

When the technology fell into place, we got another surprise. Kes’s friend Lenin had put an effect into her Minecraft world so that when Kestrel walked to a certain place and had her character jump on a rainbow colored keyboard, FIREWORKS were launched! It was so pretty and unexpected, and everyone was impressed.

When dinner was ready at our house, we excused ourselves and said goodbye and thanks to everyone for inviting us to such an unusual party.

I hope you have a nice day, sweetie. See you real soon.

Good night, everyone!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Nelson!

Dear Liza,

It’s nice to have artsy grandkids!

This past Sunday was Grandpa Nelson’s birthday, and we celebrated it inside. He is still weak from the bit of sort of Covid he’s had, which has been mostly fevers and fatigue, so it was a slow day.

But even a slow birthday needs some celebration. Auntie Bridgett had made him a beautiful painting of our beloved Laurelhurst Park, so he can visit even when he isn’t feeling well. It isn’t quite done yet, she says. It needs three people (us!) walking along the path. She also made one of her delightful, hand painted cards. Handy Hand was so pleased!

I made a new type of ginger cookies, and they turned out very well. Grandpa had some after breakfast and some more after dinner, because a nutritionally balanced birthday is important.

Ginger cookies…

We ordered ice cream online from Fifty Licks, a local ice cream chain, and Auntie Bridgett went to fetch it. We got two pints for us to share and a chocolate milk shake for the birthday boy.

Auntie Katie and the cousins came by, after she had closed the bookshop, and stood just below our balcony. They banged cowbells and held up a great “Happy Birthday Grandpa Nelson” sign the the kids had painted. I wish I had taken a picture of their smiling, masked faces looking up, but I was too busy laughing and crying at the same time. It was wonderful, raucous, and celebratory.

Off the Balcony delivery system

I lowered some of the cookies and one of the pints of ice cream down in a basket-and-yarn rig that was half Rapunzel and half Swiss Family Robinson, and got the job done with just the right amount of whimsy.

We were chatting, and just then your Daddy David called us for a ZOOM video chat with the whole family! After a few minutes’ adjustment, and Auntie Katie and family dashing back to their own house, we had the three of us, both our kids and all their kids, looking at each other. It was so nice.

Us, you and your daddy and mommy, and Auntie Katie and the cousins, all Zooming along

Auntie Katie and the cousins ate their ice cream and cookies, and you all had your dessert there in Salinas. We talked about what art and video games we had been doing and how tall the kids were. Everyone was even able to toast Grandpa Nelson with a glass of whatever they were having. The call went on for two happy, silly, hours.

By then, Grandpa Nelson was pooped. Everyone logged off and we three sat quietly for a while, listening to our nervous systems as they quieted down. I showed Grandpa Nelson the slide show I had made of photographs of him from when we has a little boy to now, and it was a nice walk down memory lane.

The Birthday boy, his dog Sky and sister June, a few birthdays ago.

When we finally had to let go of the day, we ambled upstairs and drifted off to a happy, exhausted sleep. I am so glad you all got to celebrate with us.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Another Quarantine First

Dear Liza,

Making the meeting fun!

I’m sure, after we are all free from the threat of Corona virus and free to wander about as we please, this part of our story will be a short, odd, chapter. But for now, it is where we are, every day.

Sausages and yummy cheese

Last night, Auntie Bridgett’s art gallery, SideStreet Arts, had their first ZOOM First Friday. Folks logged on at their houses with their own snacks and drinks, and we got to talk with artists Amy Rudinger and Michelle Sabatier about their art. Amy is a talented metalworker and Michelle is a gallery member and wonderful encaustic artist. That means she makes pictures by melting wax onto a surface.

One of Michelle Sabatier’s encaustics

Auntie Bridgett and I set up at the dining table, with wine, crackers, nifty goat cheese, sausages, and a bottle of Cotes du Rhone wine. Grandpa Nelson is still feeling tired from the fevers he’s been having, so he escaped upstairs.

It was fun to see familiar faces, and in their own homes! We saw one lady’s family heirloom sofa, another’s bookcase, and our dear Alicia Justice sewing away on one of her delicate, personable dolls.

We learned about how Amy goes to Mexico every year to gather the special coppers they mine there, and how she has learned from the artisans there. She says that her copper vessels and their wonderful patinas are ‘part chemistry and part magic,’ and I believe it. They are lovely.

Amy Rudinger’s copper vessels

During the event, a lot of folks logged on, listened for a while, and chatted. Even my friend Ruth Inman joined us from Illinois. I became aware, slowly, that pieces were being sold. Ruth noticed it, too, and said, “How do I log-on to buy before something ELSE I love goes away?” I’m not sure if she did make a purchase, but a lot of folks did! It was a very big sales night.

Actually, this shut down hasn’t been as bad for business as we all expected. Businesses that have figured out how to stay in front of their customers online and continue selling, like Auntie Katie’s Books with Pictures and SideStreet Arts, are having really good months. It is harder work, to be sure, with mailing and delivering, but if the alternative is going out of business, it’s worth it!

Hoping we can look back on this time knowing we did our best.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Zooming Along

Dear Liza,

It is ironic that being unable to get out and about here in town has gotten me closer to friends far away.

Ruth Inman

My friend from high school, Ruth Inman, now lives in Illinois. She is an artist who makes all sorts of cute cards and mixed media pieces, and the other day she invited me to an art group she hosts in an online program called ZOOM. She does a lot of these meetings, and even runs classes online.

This group of women all live near Ruth in Illinois. Some of them are professional artists and, since everyone is staying home, are doing art in their basements or extra bedrooms instead of their studios. I did mine in the dining room, because my office desk is too tiny to allow art supplies and messes.

My art from the session (I’m still not sure if it is finished)

It was so much fun! It was run less formally than a class, and was more like coloring with Cousin Kestrel. Ruth gave us a supply list and ideas, and we’d play with it while she worked in hers.

Ruth’s piece from the same session!

We chatted about other things as we went along, of course: Dogs, friends, and news of the virus. Illinois has extended its stay-at-home orders into June even as Georgia is lifting theirs, which none of us think is a good idea. Everyone has a very conservative attitude about physical exposure. “Why would I shake your hand?” One of them said, “I don’t know where it’s been.”

Lori Lee Bowles Sampson, a professional artist, did this one

By the end of the session, we all had really different looking art using cardboard, tissue paper, water colors, and sharpies. And that’s okay, because it is ART! And there is no wrong.

Love,

Grandma Judy