A photo opportunity?

photo-1Erica Jong said, “My grandchildren are fabulous and funny.”

As far as I can tell, all grandparents feel that way about their grandchildren. I do.

Sometimes I get a wild notion, and if it has anything to do with the grandchildren, I go with it.  I probably don’t have to tell you that I often create all manner of unnecessary work for myself by thinking this way. Case in point–colorful crocheted hats for every child.  There are a few who aren’t children any longer.  But they’re still my children.

I made ten hats.  I have nine grandchildren but will happily add a grandson to my collection in January when he and my granddaughter wed.  Welcome, J!  And even though my older grandson is now living in the Colorado mountains and won’t be here, I have one for him.  Hey, I can hope, can’t I?  And I can send it to him in his Christmas package.  I miss you, grandson D.

I’m counting on them to go straight to a hat that suits them and prepare to mug for the camera.  And some goofy older kid will try on a hat that’s too small.  A younger one will put on a large hat, covering her/his face, and we will try to photograph all their antics.

Thanksgiving at Grammy’s.  Does it get any better than this?!?

To all who celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I wish you a joyful and peaceful day with family and friends.  To those who don’t, I wish you peace and joy, too.


Oh Happy Day!

At 11:19 last night, my cell phone announced a text.  My day had started early so I had turned in early.  I was sound asleep and considered ignoring the phone.  As is usually the case, my maternal instinct awakened enough to make me pick up the phone and read the message.

It was my oldest granddaughter EJ.  She was announcing her engagement to John.  “I got engaged!!!!!!!”  I woke up just enough to respond, “Yay!”  Then I rolled over and went back to sleep.  I sent a more detailed response at 7:00 this morning.

Today, as I’ve contemplated my future married grandchild I can’t help looking back with a sense of nostalgia and even a longing for the baby and little girl she was.  She was a joy from day one, and still is.  I love this photo of her.  I think she had just played a softball game. The sun had brought a sprinkle of freckles across the bridge of her nose.  She was about eleven.  Grammy’s little athlete.

I remember when she was a snuggle-y, sweet-smelling babe-in-arms.  I would rock her and sing to her and wish there were some way I could bottle the smells and the satisfaction I felt with her in my arms and in my life.  My first grandchild.

I remember how she used to call me and “report” her parents whenever they did something she didn’t like.  How simple were her complaints back then.  She learned to dial me up before she could even read numbers.  When I asked her how she knew how to do that, she told me she had watched her mom punch the numbers and they took the shape of a house.  I knew then and there that she was a genius.  I still think that.

And now the sophisticated young business woman is getting married.  Planning a wedding.  We’re moving forward with gusto and anticipation and delight and great happiness for the handsome couple.  Where did the time go?

We (the families) have known for some time that the engagement was imminent.  John had sent an email to family members and asked us to make short video clips encouraging EJ to say yes.  Our assignment was to make our appeal using only three words.  We had great fun discussing and coming up with just the right message.  John then took all the clips and made one video show.  I hope to see the entire video one day.

Here you see the garden flag I made for my video clip.  Now that she’s seen the video I can send her the flag.

All day I have had the words “Oh Happy Day” ringing in my ears.  It’s a wonderful old Southern gospel song.  I found a marvelous video of the Soweto Gospel Choir singing it.  No one does this song better than they do.  They are in full colorful costume, so they’re “eye candy” too.  Even if you’re  not a gospel music fan I think you’ll enjoy it.

In my mind I’ll be singing “Oh Happy Day” as I attend the wedding.

All in the family.

For the better part of last week I had a family — here, at my house.  My daughter’s air conditioner gave up the fight and they had to get a new one.  During the wait and installation they lived with me.  Some days we had three of the children, sometimes we had only the youngest.  (The oldest was at gymnastics camp in Pennsylvania.)  Oh, and the cat!  I forgot to mention the cat.

It was fun being part of a family again.  I missed them when they moved back home.  While they were here, I found myself relaxing into the chaos that having children entails.  There’s almost always one who’s hungry, one who needs a ride to somewhere, one who needs a little extra attention, etc.  Multigenerational families are a thing of the past in our American society.  After last week, I can see reasons to bring them back.

There are times when moms and dads can’t stop what they’re doing in order to give extra attention to the child in need of it — even acting out to get it.  But Grammy can.  My little boy entertained himself for a long time after I snuggled with him on the couch and taught him to play Solitaire on my tablet.  Granted, times are different.  I learned to play by watching my dad play with a real deck of cards.  Still, F and I had some quality time and he knows a new game.

I’ve written about my youngest grandchild S before.  She’s five.  She, of course, has a personality like no other.  She constantly fascinates and entertains me.  I can’t decide whether I should call her my “bag lady” or my little “pack rat.”  She borrowed an empty purse to put her “finds” in, but quickly decided it wasn’t big enough when she discovered one of my large canvas grocery bags.  She took her bag and went about her days accumulating “stuff.”  It seemed harmless enough to me.  Occasionally she would show me one of the treasures she had in her stash.  No problem, right?

After “little missy” went home, I found her bag in an upstairs bedroom.  I picked it up.  It was heavy.  How on earth had that small child carried it up the stairs?  And down?  And up?  As I emptied the bag, I was able to solve many mysteries .  The Earl Grey tea we couldn’t find for breakfast?  The entire package was in her bag along with the missing place mat, a partial set of coasters, a flying pig doorstop, a modern-day version of the Bible, a book of positive quotes to start your day, some cocktail napkins, a bar of soap — I could go on and on.  How I wish I had taken a picture of her mountain of goodies.

They have gone home now to their once again cool house.  I miss them.  I’ve been thinking as I write that it certainly was fun having someone to “blame” when I couldn’t find things.  And guess what!  Even though they have moved back home, I’m no longer alone.  I have a cat!  That’s right, they left Lulu with me.  I’ve adopted her.  We’re getting along very well, adapting to each other’s idiosyncrasies.  It seemed the natural thing to do.  You see, Lulu doesn’t do well with children.  She’s getting less nervous every day.  Maybe I am, too.

Happy birthday, Tom Petty and little S.

Most things I worry about never happen anyway. ~ Tom Petty

I stumbled upon the fact that today is Tom Petty’s birthday.  It also happens to be little S’s birthday.  She’s five.  I think Tom’s about sixty-one.  It seems a little strange, even to me, to put the two of them together in the  same post.  I started to wonder whether there’s anything on earth they could have in common other than their birthday.

They’re both blond.  I think they both have a certain disregard for other people’s opinions.  I base that on this photo of little S and on the lyrics of some of Tom’s songs.  They both seem pretty obstinate once they’ve made up their minds about something. “I Won’t Back Down”  The most important thing, though, is the way they both entertain me.  Some days I listen all day to Tom Petty CDs and never grow tired of his music.  Other days I spend all day with S and her dollies and her wonderful five-year-old wit and I never ever get tired of her.  Two totally different types of entertainment, both of them wonderful.  But if I had to choose–I don’t even need to say it; grandchildren always win, hands down.

So…even though today is her real birthday, we will celebrate the occasion on Sunday with a party of family and friends.  She will come to my house on Saturday so we can bake and decorate her birthday cake.  It will probably be the best and prettiest cake ever.  🙂  And the family parties are getting easier.  Well, for me they are.  I think I’m finally reaching that stage where I’m pretty indifferent neutral toward the OW.   I’m striving for harmony these days, in all situations, so why would this one be different from any other?  I have no hate or anger for anyone.  Takes too much energy.  Energy that’s better used for other things like loving on grandchildren.  And art projects.  And friends.  And daughters.

Things have started to pop in “medical-land.”  I have an appointment on Tuesday.  I’ll be glad to get that one under my belt, so to speak.  Life is good.

Here’s another Tom Petty song if you care to listen.  “Learning to Fly”   This is really beautiful.  I dedicate this to you, Caroline!

Rule of three.

The number three is a magic number in writing–it’s  not too small and not too big.        ~ Brandon Royal

The number three has been gnawing at my consciousness for several days.  I’m not sure why.  In fact, I’m not sure where I’m going with this post.

I have three daughters and 3×3 grandchildren.  I have three sisters and all three of them have had three significant-other relationships in their lives.  Fortunately (or not?) I haven’t caught up with them and I have no plans to do so.

I found this image of the three little girls walking and it brought back sweet happy memories of being the mom to daughters.  My older two are very close in age (15 months apart) and the third is seven and six years younger than her big sisters.  This image is reminiscent of the three of them walking through the airport to catch a plane.  The two older girls acting as surrogate mothers to the youngest, their dad and I walking behind them.  Dad probably stopped and took a photo of them.

Back to the number three.  I did a little research to learn whether there is any significance attached to groups of three.  The first thing Google brought to my attention was a rule of three which relates to writing.  I also know that there is a color rule of three that many quilters pay attention to in their designs.  According to an article by Patricia Fripp, “we use this ancient mathematical law of proportion in ways we don’t even think about.”  She goes on to mention a number of historically famous people who used it in their writing or public speaking:  Abraham Lincoln, Aristotle, Lewis Carroll, and many others.  Wikipedia calls it a “principle that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers.”  (I wonder if they used the word that three times in one sentence because of the “rule.”)  Wiki also says that comedians use threes to establish a pattern, coming up with a surprise on the third element in order to make us laugh.  Example:  “How do you get to my house?  Go down to the corner, turn left, and get lost.”  I consider this example very useful for you who are finding only duds as you get back in the dating world.  If he wants to know where you live, use this.

A few more thoughts on having three daughters:  The three little girls grew up.  They are now my three very best friends.  Each is individually wonderful and a delight to spend time with– sometimes in person, sometimes on the phone, and sometimes in my thoughts and dreams and prayers.  Triple amen!

Note:  I think this post is called a ramble.  If you’ve read this far, thank you.

All the beautiful children.

Isn’t she lovely                                                     Isn’t she wonderful                                          Isn’t she precious ~ Stevie Wonder

Today I’m waxing poetic about children in general and about grandchildren in particular.  In this photo you see my youngest grandchild.  She’s 4 1/2.  I didn’t realize when I was taking the picture but her big brother is in the background.  He’s 9 1/2 and the second youngest. It now seems appropriate that he’s there because his little sister adores him, as do we all.

I was talking with a friend a while ago and she told me she reads all my posts and that it feels like she’s eavesdropping on my life.  I think that’s an apt and rather appealing description of reading a friend’s personal journal.  I told her I have had a bit of a writer’s block the last few days and I asked whether there is something she would like me to write about.  (My mind was blank.)  She said “the daughters and the children.”  Well, that sounded easy enough.  Since these are my favorite people I have much to say about them.  And there’s the rub:  I don’t like to read or write long posts so I may have to make this a three-part series, one daughter’s family at a time.

These are the children of my youngest daughter, S.  She has two other daughters who are thirteen and sixteen.  S is a teacher in a local elementary school.  She’s also a photographer.  She has a huge heart for children: her own and those she teaches and the neighborhood crew and all others who have the good fortune to cross her path.  She loves all of them and they know she does and that is her great gift.  The world is better for having S in it.

Ms. 16 (H) is a gymnast.  I would like to post a picture of her doing “her thing” but I couldn’t steal one from her mom’s blog.  Darn!  I tried.  But I can tell you she’s poetry in motion.  She went through a major growth spurt a while back and it caused problems on the beam.  She was at the age where a lot of girls quit.  H just became all the more determined.  She stuck with it and overcame.  She’s a dedicated, disciplined athlete.  And I wish my legs looked even a little like hers.  She’s also academically gifted and artistically talented.  She was recently accepted at School of the Arts.  I love watching and waiting to see what she will do next.  She’s my hero.  A precious, beautiful and loving young woman.

Ms. 13 (M) is a natural athlete.  She has tried most of the sports available to her and has excelled at all of them.  I think she’s narrowed it down to basketball and soccer (for now).  When she dribbles or passes or shoots (on the field or the court) she does it all with a grace that amazes me.  She has a big, inclusive heart rather like her mom’s.  Sometimes that great heart causes problems for her.  She often chooses to please her family and friends rather than herself.  But she’s young and has time to learn how to look out for herself.  She, too, has legs to die for.  She has one more year in middle school.  M’s a good kid and a beautiful almost woman.  I am loving watching her grow up.  She’s my hero.

Nine-year-old F is Mr. Personality.  He is small in stature but that is the only small thing about him.  When he was in first grade he played the role of Max in Where the Wild Things Are.  He got up on that stage and sang and danced as if he had done it all his life.  I thought he had found his calling.  Now that he’s older he tells me he wants to be a scientist.  He has an imagination that enables him to think in a way that I have never been able to do.  He figures out ways to put disparate objects together in a way that creates a new tool or gadget.  Maybe he will be an inventor.  He’s always thinking or talking.  Mostly talking when he’s in the car with me.  I think his talking is actually thinking out loud.  (Okay, he might have gotten that from me.)  Oh, and did I mention–he’s my hero.

What to say about little Ms. Es.  At four she is still at the pretend stage.  When she comes to visit me she pretends my house is her house and if I want anything I have to ask her.  She talks nonstop, too.  I forget how much energy a child this age requires until she leaves.  I enjoy, yes relish, every minute she’s here and when she leaves I crash on the couch for a nap.  Es is a little mother.  Sometimes I wonder if she will be the one grandchild who will grow up and decide not to have children.  I say that because she spends so much time pretending to be a mom.  She may become the high-powered career woman since she’s been there and done that with the babies.  I can’t wait to see what she decides.  BTW, she’s my hero.

Note to B:  This is the hardest-to-write post I’ve ever done.  Also the longest.  Sorry.

Get your knees green.

White azalea.

“If your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously examine your life.” ~ Bill Watterson

When I was a child my knees were green most of the summer.  So was the seat of my shorts.  My shirt.  My hands.  I loved being outside.  I lived in the mountains.  It was considerably cooler there than in Charlotte.  Here, and now, I have to take advantage of spring and fall and even winter for my outdoor activities.  Today my knees are green.  I worked in the yard this morning.

Sometimes, when the summertime heat and humidity become unbearable, I head for the hills.  I remember one time a number of years ago when D and I did that.  He had asked me what was wrong, that I seemed sad, depressed.  I told him it was the heat.  I didn’t think I could stand it one more minute.  I wanted to be outside.  I couldn’t.  The temperature had been in the high nineties and even triple digits for at least two weeks.  The only way to escape it was to stay inside in the air conditioning.  D said,  “Let’s go find some cool air.”  (He was often so very thoughtful and kind in those days.)  We got in the car, turned on the air, of course, and headed north up I-77.  We drove until we came to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Then we found an old homestead that had been preserved.  We got out of the car, walked down a little trail and found a rock wall to sit on.  We sat and felt the breezes blowing off the valley.

As we sat, the tears flowed freely down my cheeks.  D took my hand, put his arm around me and just held me.  I thanked him for taking me up there where I could breathe again.  My misery mattered to him and he acted to relieve it.  And now the tears flow freely again  as I remember.  That’s the D I will never stop missing.

I had no idea what direction my writing would take when I sat down.  I’m glad I have this sweet memory.  And that’s why I write.

“… freedom to choose.” ~ Thornton Wilder

Carolina jessamine.

“The more decisions you are forced to make alone, the more you are aware of your freedom to choose.” ~ Thornton Wilder

I have this meandering vine growing in my back yard.  I don’t recall blossoms on it in previous years.  This is my third spring here.  My daughter who is also my plant expert has identified it as Carolina jessamine.  It has a soothing sweet fragrance and as you can see its color matches my dandelions.  I love it.  I wonder why it chose to bloom this year and not the past two.  Daughter # 1 could probably answer that for me, too.  Maybe it’s been taking in whatever it needs in order to once again show the world its stuff.  Like me.

(Pause for a little research.)

It blooms best in full sun and with plenty of water.  Mine is in partial shade and we had several months of drought the past couple of years.  It was stressed.  Like me.  Unlike me, it can’t decide when it’s going to bloom.  Come to think of it, it’s not so unlike me.  For the better part of the past four plus years I haven’t been able to decide to bloom either.  But now I can.  Did I decide to or did it just happen?  A little of both, I think.

There was a time when I felt too wounded to make decisions, yet make them I did because I had  no choice.  I was forced to make decisions just as I was forced to get a divorce and live alone.  I can’t imagine not having the freedom that I have now–to choose or not to choose.  I like it.

Hopes and dreams.

Everything's blooming, even the pine trees.

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for.  The best you can do is live inside that hope, running down the hallways, touching the walls on both sides.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver in her book Animal Dreams

Barbara Kingsolver is another of my favorite authors.  I love the image she creates with her life/hope philosophy.  I can see myself in that hallway touching the things I love and hope to have in my life. In fact, I can see myself walking down that hall with excellent posture and a spring in my step.  Being physically fit has always been important to me.  I’m not saying I have always been fit but it never ceases to matter to me.

Everywhere I turn these days I see comments, quotes, advice about pursuing dreams, making goals, etc.  My first goal as of right now is to become as fit as I can be without hurting myself.  At my age that’s not always an easy line to draw but I can and will do it.  Because it matters a great deal.  One way I will accomplish this goal is to eat more carefully and deliberately.  I don’t think I will give up having a bit of dark chocolate a day (It is good for me, isn’t it?).  But sugar is my weakness right now.  So any other sweet fixes I need will have to come from fruits (fresh, when available).  Another thing I’ve been practicing lately is getting up and moving in one way or another when I’m feeling low.  I can go for a walk, walk in place if the weather’s bad, clean house, make another pillowcase dress (I’ve made four now.) or simply stretch a little.  Or go see a daughter or a grandchild.  Anything but sitting and moping.

My second goal is to be artistically creative.  It isn’t an option anymore, it’s a necessity.  I have to do it in order to be happy.  There are lots of ways to be artistic but for tactile me it will have to be done with yarn (crochet) or fabric (art quilting).  I found a crochet book yesterday that teaches a technique that I’ve never used before.  I’ll be working on that.  And of course I’ll be moving beautiful fabrics around and practicing my machine quilting.  I started to call it my technique but I haven’t actually developed a technique yet.  Right now I’m trying to copy what other art quilters have done so that I will hopefully get good enough to finish my in-progress project that I discussed in an earlier post Art quilt: Divorce therapy.

I’m not sure why it’s difficult for me to establish goals in my retirement.  Maybe it’s second nature for me to have goals.  It’s just not easy for me to write them down.  Maybe it’s cowardly to keep them in my mind.  Maybe I will be more accountable now that I’ve written them out for you to see.

Happiness…The Dalai Lama

“Happiness is not something ready-made.  It comes from your own actions.” ~ Dalai Lama

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Are these two men saying the same thing?  I’ve been rereading excerpts from the Dalai Lama’s book, The Art of Happiness. On the one hand he seems to be saying the opposite of what Abe Lincoln is saying.  On the other hand I get the feeling he’s agreeing with Abe.

Hmmm.  I will say one thing:  Give me something simple and I will figure out a way to complicate it.  Here’s what I think, though.  And I’m trying to keep it simple.  I think they are saying essentially the same thing.  Abe was running a country and fighting a war and he probably didn’t have time to over analyze this idea.  And his way of speaking is straight forward and to the point.  I usually understand and do well with that type of advice.

As I understand it, the Dalai Lama’s job is to analyze and give advice with steps toward achieving the happiness that we all seek.  He says we must share ourselves with others in order to be happy.  Both our sadness and our joy.  Our sad times are lightened and our joyful times are heightened when we share them with others.  Come to think of it, I think that idea is also in the Bible.  I’m pretty sure I read it there fairly recently.  Can’t remember where.

So…Happiness is there for the taking.  It’s all in your attitude.  And it depends upon your spending time with other people–family, friends, and sometimes even people you don’t know.  John Donne said, “No man is an island.” In other words, don’t isolate yourself.  Interact with your fellow human beings.  That’s what I think!