Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Friday, December 18, 2015

Holiday Expectations

They no longer call
But if they did,
And asked how I was,
What would I say?
This morning I saw the pileated 
destroying that old tree.
This afternoon I heard a loon’s lonely call 
across the silver gray river.
Tonight I will spend an hour flipping through channels
Before I find something I watched before
And will watch again.
Tomorrow I have nothing on the list
Of things I used to do.
They never call
But if they did 
What would I say?

(Yes, this is a sad little poem, but it kept forming and reforming and so to get it out of my head I had to write it down.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bah? Is there a bug humming?

Still sitting here waiting for the departure of this cold.  It is a moving target.  Fever and scratchy throat and malaise have given way to chest congestion, cough, runny nose and grumpiness   Taking various PM drugs to sleep, but decided to try without last night and now realize that getting about 4 hours of sleep does not put me in the best mood.  (Don't you just hate when bloggers whine about their winter colds?)

Speaking of wine, even that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I seem to be able to eat cookies and cupcakes rather easily, though.  And Lindt chocolate truffles go down without a whimper.  I am living in stretch pants this week.

I have finished my Holiday newsletter and will print up a batch and distribute them to one and all who might scan them before tossing them in the trash.  There are only so many news notes on travels and photos of darling grandchildren and brags about adult children that my friends and relatives are able to endure before pouring more bourbon in the eggnog and watching a rerun of Miracle on 34th Street, or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or the Muppet Christmas Carol while wrapping some odd shaped item that was on sale and will find its way into the back of a relative's crowded closet.

Yes, I am grumpy.  I am heading back up to those darling grandchildren to babysit once again this weekend...unless I find my illness does not go away.  Then it will be up hubby to hold up my end.  It is only the baby that needs to be watched as all four other members of the family have different social obligations on Saturday.  They have full calendars most days.  Hope the baby can keep up!  Below is the command center that was recently installed.

I have finished much of my holiday shopping for them, but it is a bit of a challenge.  Just a photo or two of my granddaughters room is an example of holiday shopping headaches for those who are grandparents to over-privileged children.  (For the longest time I shared a bedroom with my brother AND sister until I was a teenager!)

Yes it does look like someone threw up a strawberry milkshake in here and one can get a headache if staying too long!

Oh well, I do not want you to think that these over-privileged children are spoiled.  They do their chores somewhat faithfully and seem to get along with each other phenomenally well.  I am blessed and will be in a better mood to realize that when this damn cold departs!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Money, Money, Money

Father's Day shone forth a clean light on my son's immediate future plans.  While we knew he was serious about this sweet woman he was dating, as parents we carefully kept the conversations to the general and casual.  He now admits that he is saving for a ring and will probably propose sometime this fall and wedding plans are most likely to occur around the 4th of July in the year ahead.  While it is a relief that he now discusses these important events so openly with us, I am now realizing I have to plan a budget as I was going to replace my car this winter.

For my daughter's wedding (which was a somewhat elaborate affair) we contributed 1/3, the in-laws 1/3 and the married couple themselves 1/3 of the cost.  My daughter's in-laws are New Jersey people and while reality television tends to overdo the colorful culture there, big weddings are a necessity it appears.  Some seemed to feel that the wedding won't hold unless there is a large crowd in a fancy hotel dancing the night away.  Therefore, her wedding was held in a fancy catholic church in Washington, DC (neither hubby nor I are Catholic) and the evening reception was held in a ballroom of one of the largest hotels in Washington, DC.  Hubby and I held the line to the lower end of the 5-figure amount which we donated, as we are much more practical and just couldn't give more without acid indigestion for a one-day ceremony.  My daughter attended another wedding that summer in New York City where the budget for the flowers alone was $50,000!  I guess it is all a matter of perspective and values and disposable income.  At that wedding, with flowers everywhere, I understand both sets of parents of the bride and groom were barely speaking to each other and the priest almost had to perform some kind of intervention.  He actually lectured both parents (in a polite way) at part of the ceremony!  Yeah, there is some satisfaction in the rich being so dysfunctional.

Maybe we were just out of touch and each generation is less conservative than the prior.  Lord knows my wedding cost less than $1,, flowers, dress and all.  But I was a poor graduate student and my parents did not offer to help when I told them I was engaged.  Perhaps because I didn't want to spend what little money I had on flying home from Hawaii for a home wedding since most of my (our) friends were there at school and our first jobs were taking us even further out into the South Pacific.  Although I must admit that both of us were surprised when neither of our parents felt they could spend the time or money to attend!  Yeah this IS a tragic story of the strange ways depression era old folks lose sight of what is important, but we survived and still talked to them after we got hitched and our marriage survived without a ballroom and is now 42 years old.  Years ago my sister and her husband eloped to  much for ceremony there.  Yes, they are still married and could actually have afforded a huge wedding as they are both attorneys.

Anyway, I told my son we would give him the same amount of money that we gave my daughter and he could use it any way that he wished toward the wedding, honeymoon, or savings for a larger house someday.  Perhaps we should add an inflation adjustment to that?  I try to be fair, but in all honesty my daughter and her husband make lots of money while my son and his future wife do not and I tend to be more sympathetic to that.

Hubby and I are comfortable in our retirement and we can be reasonably generous, so with great thankfulness we appreciate our situation.  But I also know that money can be a poisonous thing whether you have it or not.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Thus far today my birthday has proceeded according to a typical plan.

  1. Last night my granddaughter, who is staying at my house this week, had a horrendous nightmare and then proceeded to come down with a nasty cough the rest of the sleep for me.
  2. This is birthday breakfast at my house in the photo above.  E-Z prep.
  3. Last night hubby asked if by any chance I had purchased the cake candles when I went grocery shopping!
  4. This morning, on my birthday, hubby asked if I had come across the cake mix and candles that he hid!  He can't find  the bag anywhere!  (Don't ask, because I cannot answer your many questions on this.)  I have spent 15 minutes helping him look without luck.
  5. He finally found the bag under his jeans on his bedroom chair.
  6. The first, and thus far only, birthday call I have received by 10:00 A.M. was on my cell and it was from my stockbroker!  
  7. We are eating dinner out (the 3 of us) and I am hoping that the restaurant doesn't burn down today.
  8. My last gift today will probably be a cold from that precious little girl in the photo.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cherry-Picken' Pain!

My mother, when she was a few years younger than I am now, was home alone most of the time since my father continued to work waiting for full social security.  He usually worked about 60 miles away from the farm.  One autumn my mother was in the process of picking cherries from our three cherry trees out back by the chicken shed.  She got a bee in her bonnet that using the ladder was not getting her high enough.  (What she was doing on a ladder on uneven ground all by herself at her age makes me shake my head?!)  Anyway her attempt to climb higher in the tree to reach the last of that red ripe fruit resulted in her taking a nasty fall.  She broke the heel of her foot upon landing, and nothing else thank goodness, and had to drag herself about 80 feet across the mowed field, over a dry irrigation ditch and over the gravel driveway into the house and eventually to the phone!  I remember her telling me this story, but I was not as impressed as I should have been at the time.  (What a little twit I was.)  I also remember her complaining at how her other remaining children, all living close but elsewhere with full-time jobs, didn't help her much.  I am sure they did as much as they could with their busy lives.  My mother also loved playing the martyr.

This incident came back to me while I was lying in bed this morning greeting a new day.

Yesterday, my husband and I using a much too small dolly were attempting to move one of those huge old fashioned television sets from the garage to the attic storage in the closet of the guest bedroom.  This old TV belongs to my son who had left it at our house along with a small collection of other furniture since he was moving into his girlfriend's tiny house a few weeks ago. Husband was above pulling the dolly and I was below holding the TV against it.  We had just reached the top step of the stairs which has a larger lip when the television flipped off the dolly platform knocking me down a few steps and then landing on my foot and lower leg mashing them against the steps as I fell back.  I held my ground fearing I might fall all the way down the stairs as this appliance rolled over me.  I managed, although in the early waves of pain. to drag my foot out from under the TV and to put the back of my shoulder against the set and scoot slowly down the stairs allowing the TV to follow against my shoulder.

Hubby could not help because he was at the top behind the dolly and it happened too fast for him to attempt anything.  I reached the bottom step and move away while the television slid to the floor taking a piece of the skin off my forearm as it did so.

I managed to limp to the nearby couch before the shock set in.  Eventually I felt waves of nausea and waves of pain and found myself involuntarily hyperventilating, until my body finally adjusted to what had happened.  After several hours of ice-on and ice-off and two Aleve, I had decided that I had not broken anything because the pain was bearable.  I was also very lucky in that I spend time, after lifting leg weights two or three times a week, stretching all of my joints including my ankles to keep me as flexible as possible.  That has given me some good resilience and bone mass.  We have talked to our doctor friend and all agree an x-ray is not necessary as my pain is easing and I can put some light weight on the foot.

Yes, we were idiots trying to get that 80 pound monstrosity up the stairs. I had told my son to just leave it in the garage since I hadn't decided where to store it, another mistake!   My husband had his adrenaline kick in and actually lifted the set and carried it upstairs by himself shortly after!  Probably another mistake but I was too busy trying to bear waves of pain to protest.

Since it was going to continue to be my lucky day, within 30 minutes the TV news stations were warning of tornadoes and major storms moving into our area and showing a lovely home missing its roof just about 200 miles to the south of us.  No way I was moving to the basement!  Luckily the storm missed us.

This morning my left ankle is now twice the size of my right ankle, but the religious application of ice every 20 minutes today, should continue to help keep the swelling at bay.  I am told that the swelling caused by fluids causes the majority of the pain.  The ankle does not appear black and blue which means little blood loss inside, another plus.

Lots of time to write a long post on this laptop but no way to search for an appropriate accompanying photo as they are on the other PC.  Of course, today the sun is brilliant and the angles are perfect for some photography.  Wouldn't you know it?  Then again, I could take a photo of my ankle....Nah!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Still Spinning

Trying to slow down now that I am back home.  Bunch of deadline mailings, unpacking, laundry, shopping (since my fridge is still empty from the hurricane visit), emails, land line voice mails, fall stuff and I still have not found time to get outside and check the yard and potted plants.  I hope sometime soon to look at a calendar!

Also trying to get back into the rhythm of being at home.  I am still in rock and roll mode and home is operating on smooth jazz.  Hubby is leaving for a long trip in two days, so trying to get ready for that as well!

I like visiting my relatives every few years.  I do not look forward to it, but once I am there, I realize how important it is to keep in touch with them and how much I do love them with all their idiosyncratic behaviors.  It is so true that ageing hardens your habits and opinions to phobic behavior and I wonder if I appear the same way to them.  They are a mixed troop of conservatives, liberals, shoppers, do-it-yourselfers, rich, poor, hard workers, indoor and outdoor people.  Fortunately disagreements are kept to a minimum when they get together, so they would not make a good situation comedy on fall television.

Weather in Colorado and Utah was lovely with a little more rain than one expects in high desert country.  I took lots of great photos and I will share just a few.

I am still attempting to catch my emotional breath and absorb it all while I push through the errands and tasks of re-opening a house that has been closed for several weeks.  Greeted by a baby black snake at the garage door; just missed running over a tiny box turtle on the driveway; watched a ground-hog devour the clover in the front yard as I drank morning coffee; and am amazed at how many little spiders I keep finding in the corners and fabrics of my house.  It does not take long for the woods to take over once you are gone.  Downed fences and trees still remain for clean-up.

I have been able to catch up on about 60% of everyone's posts, but must admit I cannot finish it if something important happened in your lives (that you want me to know about) let me know in your comments.  You are, after all, my other idiosyncratic family.

(Photo above was taken from my brother's mountain get-away in Colorado.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I am putting it off as long as I can.  This morning was filled with hot and sweaty work outside.  Lots of lifting and carrying and putting in piles made me sweaty and thirsty.  Now I have come inside and opened the fridge for the very last time in heaven only knows how many days to take out the cool ice tea pitcher and finish it off.

The yard looks like an elephant herd was frightened down the street and took a detour past the house and through both sides of the yard.  The only things that do not seem disturbed are the birds and butterflies who have continued their sugar collecting even before the sun broke through the clouds today.   HUGE and small trees are down everywhere and it is a miracle that the house, shed, boat and dock were spared.

I am writing now on a laptop with a waning battery and am writing this post in MSWord as there is no electricity in the neighborhood, and I hope to post it at my daughter’s house.  Rumor has it that 80% of the county is without electricity due to some major power station router being down.  A man up the road who has a tree on his house and works for the electric company said we might get power by 9:00 this evening.  I doubt  it.  I am not complaining because the temp will not break 80 F for the next few days and I do not have large trees resting on my house as those who live on the Bay and elsewhere seem to have experienced.  There were emergency calls about once a minute to the local fire station last night.  (My neighbor, the lottery winner, volunteers as an EMT, and she has had no sleep all night according to her husband.)

I had promised to take my granddaughter down here this week to care for as she has no school or camp…but it looks like we will be spending the week up at her house.  I am putting off opening the chest freezer and emptying the contents into a cooler to take up the daughter’s house where there is electricity.  It seems like such a long and dreadful project, and I am debating whether to complete a wash/cloth bath before or after.  We are on a well and that means no water can be pumped to the house, so everything is done using the water we have set aside.  I have so much food from the garden that will have to be tossed away.

When I return here at the end of the week I have only a weekend left to pack for a two-week trip, and if there is still no electricity, this could be a bigger project than I wanted.  I will empty the fridge, the freezer, and try to check off my list the things that have to be done when one is gone for two weeks to a place far away.  It will be a job with many small errands and projects and I am fighting a chest cold which drains all my energy reserves.  My adult kids want to join us for the next weekend prior to departure, but I am NOT cooking anything while they are here.  Seems reasonable to me?  Either we BBQ or eat out.

At least, with the neighbor’s help we have cleared the driveway of a 16-18 inch diameter poplar and tons and tons of leaves and branches. It is a long drive this evening up to my daughter's house past many black or yellow blinking traffic lights, dark houses, and darker stores.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The First Night

It is three in the morning in a dark bedroom and I am on my knees with my face almost to the carpet.  This is not an EAT=PRAY=LOVE moment as I am not least not formally.   I am trying to get the courage to run my hand under the edge of the darkness of the bed.  I have looked against the grayness of the sheets and all around the floor with no luck.

There is a little four-year-old whimpering quietly in my nearby bed.  She has lost her 'doggie,'  The bright pink one with the rip in its' bottom that was placed ever so carefully in her arms earlier when she was tucked in bed next to her 6-year-old brother.

Suddenly the young boy sits straight up in bed as if awakened by my gentle search.  I recognize his Elmo doll on the pillow between him and his sister.  But, I see he has something in his arms as he stares across the room.  I reach over and grab the Elmo and take the small dog from his arms and thrust Elmo in his arms and gently push him back down on the bed.  Hubby comes out of the bathroom and I whisper that he has to sleep with his grandson as granddaughter has taken his place in my bed.  I hand her the doggie and slip in beside her.  She is in heaven.  She has her doggie and she gets to snuggle with Neena. I am going to try to fall asleep once again before the sun.

Thus goes our first night of vacation.  Grandkids = 2 and grandparents =0

Friday, May 06, 2011

Home is Where They Have to Take You In

To those who actually care, and with such loving surprise to me, some of you do...

Hubby is home! Safe and sound.

How do I know, other than I drove the hour and half to pick him up, waited an extra 30 minutes for him to clear customs, and managed to find my way out of the cell phone parking lot to the arrival area on time?

I know because even though he was tremendously jet-lagged he let me stop at the HUGE landscape place on the way back from the airport to buy $80 worth of plants and actually pushed (drug) the cart all over the cobbled paths for me.

I know because this morning there are shoes left under the breakfast table and a bill cap hat on the floor next to his chair. I know because I see the $300 binoculars left out overnight in the rain on the deck table (they survived nicely).   I know because he is not hungry at dinner but is hungry at midnight and I hear him rustling up some cereal in the kitchen and then watching CNN. I know because he is jealous(!) I hired a yard service for the next month. I know because his favorite teapot is now always on the counter.

I know because we spent 30 minutes yesterday afternoon looking for his cell phone (a familiar routine) the the the every room in the house.  After calling it and listening carefully we heard a kitten-sized ring in our closet where he had left it in some pants that he had worn and then shoved in a drawer!

Yes, he is home and my life is now busier.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Turn around and you're a young wife with babes of her own.

Once again Tabor's world has shifted dramatically, not with the agony or pain of an earthquake, but with the dramatic entrance of a new life. Grandchild number three arrived at the very end of March into this lovely family.  Already Tabor follows this tiny face and eyes and actions as if this was a delicate needlework tapestry.  Since she cannot see the big picture, yet, she will focus on the details.

Who will this new person be? How will he fit in with the solid and established family unit?  Will he be the exotic and unique flower in this garden of love, or will he be the magnificent oak that spreads and overshadows all with his living energy, or will he fit in comfortably like a perfectly shaped shrub, unnoticed until we turn to check on him.  Daddy wants an athlete, mommy wants a loving child, and the grandparents want a healthy and happy child.  Can he meet all these expectations?

Within 24 hours he was trying, with much success, to lift his head when held against my shoulder, and therefore, I already know he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in years to come.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I have been married (to the same man) for 40+ years. No, I actually do not know the exact number give or take a year and I am not going to look it up and my husband is now asleep, so sue me.  I do know that we have had a pretty good run.  As most people who are past middle age realize, marriage is rarely about romance.  Oh yes, romance is nice, but it is not the normal state of affairs.  Actually, too much romance in a marriage would make me suspicious.  We have had our bad times, but there was only one year, two decades ago, when we came close to drifting apart completely.  He did a very bad thing and I decided, with time, it wasn't all that bad and with some marriage counseling we came through to the other side and I am so glad we are where we are today.

Ours is not a perfect marriage, but perfect marriages are undefinable to me anyway.  There are days when I have polished the kitchen to an unnatural shine and in his minute of fixing a snack it has been returned to an elementary school lunchroom.  There are days when I remind of him of something important or ask him to do something important that only he can do, and he still forgets because it is not his priority causing me frustration.  There are events where he talks too much about his interests, reveals too much personal stuff to strangers, or makes me wait alone for an hour while he finishes up something.  There are days when he says he wants to cook dinner, but doesn't even enter the kitchen until almost 7:00 P.M.  There are days when the time spent on this "business project" of his seems like eons.

But these are all in contrast to his telling and showing me he loves me (on occasion),  helping me with my projects, going with me on my errands, watching some film noir with me (which he hates), letting me have control of the remote, putting up with my blogging (which to him is like reading cartoons), loving our children totally, and living peacefully with my anal retentive sense of organization.  The above is also balanced with his love of the outdoors, his efforts to be active and healthy and to encourage me to do the same, and his intelligent sense of humor.

But a blogger posted this link which oddly brought tears to my eyes, because the woman in the video is my husband.  That is how he feels about the world.  He feels responsible.  His philosophy is that every big change begins with that first step and there is no need for recognition.  He does this when he is all alone in the woods and no one is watching!  

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Since You Asked

Daughter is still doing well.  She has been allowed to get up out of bed after her recent doctor's visit but must try to be as still as possible.  (Telling my daughter she can get up but be as still as possible is crazy.  I turned around and she was putting laundry in the washer, emptying the dryer and folding clothes.)  She cannot sit up or stand for long periods of time as this large baby is very uncomfortable for her.  Her contractions are only a few a day now and she is past the point of major concern if this baby decides to come.  The doctor indicated that if labor begins again, there is nothing to do about it.  Daughter is now off the meds as long term use is not recommended.

My husband was with her on weekends and then I came up weekdays, but I will probably leave her alone these next few days as i have seen my hubby little since this marathon began.  Both hubby and I have to come back if her husband goes on work travel next week, which is the current schedule!  We are a little over an hour away, and that should suffice long enough for a neighbor to cover if labor kicks in quickly and they have to head to their hospital which is only minutes away.

She gets very uncomfortable as the day grows and has to lie down often.

Such an odd miracle feeling the babies hard head at the base of her abdomen...but that is where it is supposed to be.  It keeps stretching its little feet and pushing on her organs.  Daughter belches like a farm hand after meals but has a good appetite. Looks like some miracles take their time after all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Unpacking Just to Pack Again

I had a wonderful trip in South Florida and in Jamaica.  I am back...but we barely got to our friend's house in mid-Florida to repack my husband's camp gear and canoe when we got a phone call that daughter was having problems with premature labor---6 weeks early.  We drove late into the night and then left Savannah, Georgia early the next morning and drove straight home.

I spent the hours of that evening unpacking and doing laundry and then early yesterday drove up here to my daughter's house to take care of her now that she is on bed rest for as many weeks as possible.

I should loose much weight in the coming weeks as the laundry room and coffee pot and my bedroom are in the basement, the kitchen and kids rooms are on the main floor and daughter is tucked away upstairs!  It seems they had four loads of laundry waiting for me and only odds and ends of food to cook, so, this morning I am heading out to the grocery to buy sustenance.  I have a renewed respect for those taking care of invalids!!  Daughter was glad to see me as she kept getting forgotten at mealtimes,  Hubby was so busy with the kids.

Working on the over 700 (!) photos that I took on my recent adventure, and I will post a few now and again as I wait for this third grandchild to grace us with (his I am guessing) presence.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Makes a Classic?

Above is my granddaughter sitting in the basement TV room of my daughter's house watching TV.  She has self-dressed this morning in a black velvet and red-silk Christmas dress with a "diamond" clipped waist bow.  Since it is winter, she has on leggings with orange stripes and her favorite pink-colored socks.  She reminds me of Pippi Longstalking in this funky outfit with a polka dot headband for some more bling.  She will not let anyone touch her hair and wears pigtails only to school.  The rest of the time it must flow with tangled abandon.  One of her favorite movies is Tangled...surprise, surprise.

Here she sits watching the 1930 movie version of A Christmas Carol with Reginald Owen.  I think she is enthralled because the ghost of Christmas past looks a little like the Good Witch in the Wizard of Oz and she is also very much into that tale right now.  She was Dorothy from Oz at Halloween.  She followed this entire movie without break.

I am fascinated that such a classic in black and white and without special effects can hold the interest of a three-year-old in 2010.  It seems a clean story told simply and with universal themes to an un-jaded mind can hold its own and becomes a classic!  What do you think?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reflecting On A 'Reasonable' Request

Years ago when I was in my twenties and thirties I was a big American football fan. I started my interest while in college watching various college football games and then male friends spurred (? oh so many ways?) my interest in professional football.  I knew the players and the team rankings.  I think it was after my children were all potty-trained that I realized I had outgrown this sport. The talking heads talked way too much, the replays from every angle possible went on too long and the drugs and money were too mind boggling for me to look at these guys as athletes anymore. I began to see that a 10 second play took more than three minutes to review/discuss/repeat.  (This was not the fall of the Berlin Wall, after all.)  Football is now the absolutely SLOWEST game on the planet in a culture that encourages video games with numerous explosions and demolition derbies.  In America there are homes where games can be on back to back for 9 hours on a weekend day!  When get-togethers were just the blood relatives I would busy myself with cleaning up dishes after Thanksgiving or watching something else somewhere else while the gang watched their games.

Today if there is a game (and puleeze when isn't there a game?) I retreat to read in the bedroom or hubby heads to our TV downstairs while I watch something I had previously recorded.  If the game becomes a bore, he re-joins me in a short time.  A few weekends ago I had planned a nice dinner for my daughter, who with two little ones and a pending child, rarely gets a break.  I selected several CD's for nice casual dining atmosphere and had them playing.  When they all arrived I was outside on the deck handling a small emergency for my husband involving a deer, a gun and the neighbors.  I was greeted on the deck by daughter and kids but after 10 minutes wondered where S.I.L. was.  I went back inside to find he had turned off the music and turned on the football game.  He was standing watching it even before he had greeted his host or hostess!  I let him know in no uncertain terms that I at least expected a hug and greeting BEFORE football took his total attention!  This real issue, which a mother-in-law will bravely admit, is that I do not get a chance to visit with my daughter as I would like because she is the one babysitting while her husband is watching the game.  There are some men that can do two things at one time...but I do not know many of them.

My son's 'new' girlfriend recently turned 33.  She had planned a birthday party at her house with the theme on threes.  She set up her Ipod for her favorite music.  She had cooked various meals with three ingredients or three in the name but was dismayed to find when she emerged with snacks from her kitchen the guys had turned off her Ipod speakers and turned on the TV for their Alma Mater game!  Their argument was that it was THEIR college and they really wanted to see this.  Her argument was that it was HER birthday and she wanted conversation and music!  She, being the hostess and knowing her mind, won.

Does anyone else find football addiction as rude and intrusive as I do?  Shouldn't the hostess be the one to determine if she wants a pseudo tail-gate party or an actual get-together where you play games or talk with friends and family or break-up into sports and mind groups?  If someone says lets get together and eat before the game...that is different.  But does every weekend get-together have to be a game day?  Am I being hopelessly narrow-minded or very naive or heading down a path of no return?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Ship of Life

(My prior post was about I will continue the theme.)

Life is something that has its own energy and schedule and pace even though we think we can control this ship of state fate.  We are here only as passengers on this ride, and while we try to steer the ship as best as possible, we are not aware of hidden shoals or unpredictable zephyrs that will delay our progress or throw us way way off course.

The stylish lady in the photo above was my mother-in-law.  The gentle beauty on her face reveals what a good and generous person she was.  She grew up in a small town in Michigan.  Her parents ran a sometimes successful photography shop with her father giving his work away and her mother holding customers strictly to paying their bills.  This dance between the two of them provided a reasonable income for the family and respect in the community.  She also had a younger brother.  As a teenager she probably had the best start in life that anyone could ask for.  Her life was like a Mickey Rooney movie.

But her ship was destined to go through a number of perfect storms. After high school she used her lovely singing voice and sang for several large mid-west orchestras before she went on the vaudeville road.  While in vaudeville she met and married another singer whose love of alcohol destroyed the marriage.  This was a terrible embarrassment during that time as divorce was something discussed only in whispers.  Then another hidden shoal, a goiter, brought her singing career to an abrupt halt.  She returned home broken but unbowed to help her father in his shop.  Her second husband (my husband's father) fell in love with her photograph when dropping off some film and pursued her until she married him.

He had been married before and had three children.  His first marriage broke up violently and his drinking probably contributed to that.  My mother-in-law was not going to give up on another marriage and stuck by his violent outbursts and his frequent job changes and many moves, and in her late thirties gave birth to my husband.  My husband was the golden child doted on by both parents and probably very much the reason the marriage held together.  She also became a binge drinker when life got too stressful and after her son moved to college which contributed to bringing fog to the years as she aged.

During this time her only brother, who had married and had a daughter, was badly beaten in a robbery in California and his brain was so damaged that he never returned to full mental capacity leaving his family to struggle through poverty.  There were rumors that he had been visiting a prostitute at the time.  It broke my M.I.L.'s heart.

A decade later after her mother's death (the stronger soldier in the parental unit) my mother-in-law had to put her father in a rest home in Virginia because her husband could not bear to see him aging and would not let him live with them.  She was very close to her father and this must have been almost unbearable for her to drop him off among strangers so far from what both of them knew as home.

Years past and I met her as the single daughter-in-law.  I knew my own mind and my independence was probably a little strange to her.  Within weeks after the birth of my first child I watched her go through some serious heart surgery and then a few years later watched her manage the 24-hour care of her husband who had emphysema from his years of smoking.  She survived in spite of our fear that she would pass first.  After she was widowed she came to live near us, and then eventually moved in with us, as her dementia set in.  I am of the opinion that dementia can bring blissful routine when yesterday's tragedies are pretty much forgotten.

The last years of her life as she stayed with us, she was sure she was visiting with her brother and his wife and going home as soon as she felt better.  We went along with the painful charade because she was a very special person and it was easier that way.  Perhaps her life would have been much different if just one of those storms went off-track.  But, then again, perhaps not.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Autumnal Reverie

This is my favorite time of year.  Days are cool enough for roast chicken dinners.  I harvested the last of the garden vegetables and the farmers market completes the rest.  I do not mind having the oven on for over two hours to let the big bird brown as the afternoon cools.  The fall rains have started and after our two-month drought, this is like champagne from the sky.

While I can no longer run outside barefoot across the wet grass to harvest the rosemary and sage for the chicken, I also do not have to avoid the hot sidewalk on the quick return.

I can no longer watch the moon rise in my Chinese pajamas (pink "silk" which my Princess granddaughter loves) because the evenings are most chilling now on the back deck, but I can still BBQ on the deck and enjoy the earlier sunsets through the flame red and yellow trees.

Perhaps I will also finally have time to search the back seat of my car and find the injured grasshopper which my grandson saved, wrapped carefully in a napkin, and then somehow lost on our trip back from the ice cream booth this past summer.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Swimming in the Gene Pools

I am certainly blessed with the presence of my daughter in my life.  We live an hour and a half away, but do manage to see each other as often as possible.  I rewarded her with a belated birthday weekend at a B&B and wine tour recently.   I was pleased and somewhat surprised that we still are so in sync with our personalities and interests.  We are more alike than different.  I know this is not true with many mother/daughter relations and therefore I am truly thankful.  This weekend together flowed just like honey.  There were no glitches or differences of opinion or problems.

Her daughter, on the other hand, is very different from both of us and we recognize this in her even though she is only three.  She complains each morning about what to wear and changes at least once if not twice, even if clothes have been chosen and laid out the night before.  My daughter and I are social animals, but my granddaughter takes sociability to the top.  She calls across the street to perfect strangers telling them she is going to ballet,  this time she will not be afraid to participate and look at the nice PINK dress she is wearing.  My daughter and I did not talk to strangers so easily when we were children and we both could care less what we wore.  It was only when we discovered we were girls (probably around 13) that we decided to try to dress nicely.

She was bold and loquacious during her open house visit to her new pre-school.  She met the teachers, told them about her clothes, how she couldn't wear her Princess dress to the open house (school rules) etc.  

She is strong as steel and knows how to get what she wants.  She reduces her 5-year-old brother to tears by killing the line of ants in the backyard.  When her mother tries to get her to stop stomping on them she looks up full of conviction and says, "I don't like them!"  She is all girl.  She favors her two grandfathers over the grandmothers, and the old-timers melt like chocolate drops in the hot sun when she turns on the charm.

My daughter and I smile knowingly, but also know she will use these charms to get what she wants from men throughout life, and we hope we can provide the skills of caution in this art of trade.  We are both fascinated by her because she is so different from us.  When I left her yesterday after dropping off her mother she asked if I was coming to see her at her swimming lesson.  I explained I had to head home to meet grandpa.  She looked down at her pretty pink shoes and then up at me and said, "But, I love you!"

The photo above is my daughter taking a picture of the impending storm as we were dropped off at the fourth and last winery of the day.  Even after drinking wine most of the day, we still managed to stop and notice the changes in the Earth.  (This post was written before Father's Day...sort of incongruous in posting it now!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Over-planning vs. Full Speed Ahead

If my daughter says she is coming for the weekend I tend to over-plan. I head out to the grocery for kid-friendly snacks, make sure linens are changed, put out new towels and refill the soap dispenser.  I do a quick dusting even though no one will notice and make sure the sidewalk is free of grass clippings.  I check the weather to make a soft list of activities in case of rain.  I get out the toddler dishes and sippy cups.  Of course, I charge my camera battery.

My husband, on the other hand, tends to go with the flow.  His most recent approach was to decide after the toddlers had arrived for the weekend to sleep in a tent in the back yard with grandson.  He was pretty excited about this adventure.  Our two man tent has not been used for maybe a decade (it smells) and the directions have long since been lost along with our foggy memories of how we used to set it up.  No surprise, but help from the five-year-old was not as useful as he had hoped.  After a couple of hours and some stifled bad words, this was as far as he got before he admitted defeat.  I think I am happier facing less disappointment and spending more pre-time as the one who over-plans.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Puzzle for You

Discovery and serendipitous cleaning are some of the hallmarks of the time spent in wandering one's house post-visit of toddlers.  One cannot just wander through the familiar hallways or saunter into the bedroom as you normally do.  Make sure that you have shoes on.  Make sure you have your glasses on.  Make sure your hands and pockets are free to collect treasures.  Do not be squeamish.  One child's treasure is ... well, never mind.

If barefoot crossing the kitchen floor you will encounter surfaces that grasp your toes and heels with ardent stickiness.  You cannot see where this sticky surface rests, but it is there and will grasp every bit of dust and dirt in the days to come, revealing its presence unless it is scrubbed away right away.

One cannot just vacuum a floor without the same careful perusal of the areas that one uses before mowing the lawn.  Something will be camouflaged within the pattern of the Oriental rug or slipped just out of sight beneath the edge of the sofa.  Something will stymie that vibration brush on your vacuum or cripple your barefooted arch and leave you limping for days as you step upon that first stair. 

The expertise of looking for tiny fairy slippers, pointy plastic swords, and teeny legos is something that must be practiced and learned well.  Impatience in this arena will punish you.  I have learned this the hard way.

Yet, even I can learn something new.  I had collected all the sheets, pillow cases and assorted bath towels and had begun the first load of laundry.  When it was done I pulled the heavy damp sheets up into the dryer.  Within minutes I heard a clanging noise.  I stopped the dryer and pulled wet heavy fabric right and left and found nothing.  I continued the dryer again and heard that odd noise.  The photo of the metal hoop above is what I finally was able to retrieve from my damp laundry but only after it has torn a small corner off the sheet.

I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what it is, where it came from, or whether I should be a little panicked by my lack of knowledge.  I do not have one of those fabric tunnels that children can crawl through.  Everything is still working in the house.  Any ideas?  Should I worry?  Do you have one of these?