Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fingers and Toes

There are things that happen when a child is born - things that are seared into your whole being and can never be forgotten.  Perhaps after a few decades they have taken on a life of their own - larger than life almost, in the form of a teeny, tiny perfectly formed being.  There is the first cry of a newborn, so familiar but so unique.  And seeing as newborn tear ducts don't produce tears yet, his parents supply them - happy tears, startled tears, overwhelming overwhelmed tears.  There are snuggles and sighs from the two generations immediately represented, but it doesn't stop there.  Now I know what Granma laughing tears feel like as well.

There are the comparisons - mouth and eyes and nose - as they relate to Mom and Dad and siblings.  There is the straining to see similarities that won't truly develop for years to come, but the start is there, or so we imagine.

I'm a finger and toes person, myself.  Curled up, wrinkly toes and long slender fingers with perfectly formed nails.  It's a little slice of heaven on earth to watch those tiny digits relax in sleep, allowing a really good look at the newest family member.  Babies are wonderful.  Birth is a miracle!

There are two sets of 10 perfectly forms grand digits in the family that I never got to view in miniature.  They belong to my Bella.  Of course, there were many who teared up at her birth.  Hours spent reveling in the beauty of her delicate features from her earliest days.  But I wasn't one of them.  Bella didn't burst into my world until she was five.  She is seven now.

Just last week, though, I got to do something I would have done naturally if we had met seven years earlier - I got to study her fingers.  And I got to do something that I have never done before:  I painted another person's fingernails!  I'm not particularly good at painting my own nails, but at least I know when to expect a zig or a zag in my movements and correct the angle of the brush accordingly.  Bella and I are not quite so symbiotic.  What I lacked in accuracy, I did my best to wipe off with my own finger and nail.  In the end, we admired ten near perfect and 100% adequately pink trimmed fingers.  There were also spots of pink on a paper towel, my fingers and Bella's knee.  Bella gets credit for the latter.

I got to really study her hands up close and personal for the first time.  They are perfectly formed and quite expressive (hence, in part, the splatters of pink in the various locations).  I didn't cry.  Nor did she.  In fact, there was much laughter.  I think that means the manicure was a success!  It was for me, anyway, though I don't see a career change coming my way.

I didn't get a picture of those 10 perfect fingers, pretty in pink.  And the toe model above belong to a grandboy of mine.  But look at her fingers.  Even without paint, they are indeed perfect!  I love you, Bella!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just call me (for) Bubbles

I love bubbles!  I'm not talking bathtubs or champagne.  And, believe me, I can pass on a sink full of bubbles with a stack of dirty dishes alongside.  Bubble wrap is good, but my favorite is the good old run of the mill bubbles from the bottle that come from the Five and Dime Store (which is now the Dollar Store - inflation...).

In the days of my youth, we would fish that slimy wand with circles on each end out of the colorful plastic bottle.  With just the right offering of air flow, bubbles would cascade from the wand.  They would float through the air without a care in the world, catching sunshine and manufacturing fragile, round rainbows.  If you mastered just the right delicate technique, you could catch the bubbles on the tip of the slimy wand, thereby holding a bubble in your "hand."  I really can't tell you what the attraction is, but considering that bubbles have been around FOREVER, I think I can say with confidence that it's not just me!

When Bryce was little, I would take him out on the back deck and blow bubbles with him. By that time, a great advance had taken place in bubble-ology - the bubble gun.  No more fishing a slimy wand out of a plastic bottle, though fingers still ended up sticky in the end.  There were times when Bryce was safely home in his own bed when I would sneak out on the deck just to blow bubbles by myself.  Sometimes there is nothing better than being three again in the privacy of your own backyard.

A few weeks ago at a craft fair, something like an electro-magnetic force drew me to the booth of a couple who were making enormous bubbles.   Yes, they did come home with me, as if there was any doubt - the bubbles magic, that is, not the vendors.

On a recent fine early fall day, we experimented with gigantic bubbles!  What our technique lacked, our enthusiasm made up for.  And by "our" I really mean Bryce and me.  My original soapy orb companion grandboy is still my most loyal bubble boy.  There is an amazing slow-mo video of Bryce making an 8' long bubble.  The really cool part was watching it pop in slow motion.  Alas, you will have to take that at my word.  Apparently the great, big wonderful world of technology has passed me by.  I'll just have to be satisfied with being a bubble guru - a much more distinctive, if not completely useful, distinction.  Thank you very much...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Remembering for Those Who Can't

Last weekend felt so normal and so not.  The weather was beautiful but the mood was kind of bittersweet.  The fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 held sway over the news and nipped at my memory throughout the day.  How could it have possibly been 15 years ago?

Last summer I was traveling with Bryce.  As we waited to board our return flight he lamented that he would really like to see the cockpit.  "You used to be able to do that," I said, "until 9/11."

The look he gave me let me know a question was coming, but it wasn't the one I expected.  "Is that the month and the day or the month and the year?"  Bryce is 10.  How do you explain the horrors of that day without frightening a grandboy?  And how do you honor the fallen without an explanation?

What followed was a very abbreviated explanation of what is my life's current event and his dust-covered history.  Hijacked planes lead to the security line we had just wound through that keeps us safe.  Locked cabin doors are an added precaution.  That September day was, in part, what caused his father to join the Marines less than a year later.  It occurs to me now, that indirectly, that uniform lead to his parents meeting.  Absolutely unaware, unanticipated and unlikely, 9/11 and the chain of events to follow, lead to the birth of my eldest grandboy.

I have long thought that 9/11 is the Pearl Harbor of my generation.  It offers me a glimpse into my grandparents' cautious nature.  The indelible mark left by great, sudden and senseless evil gave my Granmas and Grampas a wariness for the world my siblings and I just called life-as-usual.  They feared for our future, for the possibility of history repeating itself.  One Granma lived long enough to see that fear come true.  Did she spend 9/11 remembering Hawaii and the subsequent entry into the Great War - a war that left her to care for three small children while her husband sent letters home from Europe?

I don't know where this meandering leads me, really.  Though I feel two generations older now, as I watch my grandboys and girlies running in the yard, pausing occasionally to point out an airplane passing far overhead.  I remember the weeks when the shiny birds held the ground instead - and the day when they sounded above again and a shiver went down our spines as we looked up and watched them glide by.

I don't want to forget.  And I want this twice descended generation to know this piece of their dusty history, too.  In truth, though, I want it always to remain history to them.  But like those who came before me, how can I believe that?  I can't.  I can only hope that a blanket of love will protect their hearts.  I'll just have to do my part to keep them covered.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Goodbye to Summer

The last weekend of summer is over.  Actually, it's the last "unofficial" weekend of summer since officially it continues until later this month.  But everyone who is in school or who has been in school knows that summer is over now.  So does the weather, though the good stuff may linger a bit longer.  The sun it starting to sleep later and later in the mornings and the trees are thinking of disrobing.  As nice as fall weather can be, it's no summer in my book.  Bittersweet is the best I can give it.

Not wanting the summer to slip away without one last family gathering, seventeen of us gathered on Sunday for a gourmet meal of encased meats, corn on the cob and other summer delights.  There is always a certain bedlam that arrives with such a gathering.  It is my kind of chaos.

It starts with our dogs who announce the arrival of each person - for several minutes per entry, until the assembled turn to them in unison and say "shut up," which is absolutely ineffective but makes us feel better.  When enough have gathered the dogs will stop.  Maybe they have gone hoarse, or maybe they are just drown out by the rest of the cacophony.  They spend the rest of the night hoping the wee ones among us will drop something edible.  They are never disappointed.

Snippets of conversations fill the house, along with running and laughter, and the inevitable tears that follow running and laughter. Eventually we settle at the table (or two) to eat.  At this specific meal, Tyler discovered he likes corn on the cob (would Granma steer a kid wrong on that!), and Bryce confirmed how much he dislikes it (silly child).  Round one of the dishes cleared, dishwasher filled and started, a board game breaks out.  This occupies several adults and one child (the corn distaining one), which is perhaps not a good use of authority figures.  Then again, to watch the game being played, you occasionally have to wonder about the authority being represented.  Rules are challenged, and much (conflicting) advice is given to the youngest player.  There is also much laughter, and rarely does an actual winner get crowned.  A shorter game might be in order, but Bryce favors Monopoly and the such, so the game usually ends with a consensus of who would have won.

Eventually, we disburse, but not until the house is searched several times for a missing blanket or sippy cup or keys or something.  We then move the party outside for hugs and kisses while the more diminutive crawl into the back seats of mini vans.  Multiple waves and many blown kisses later, quiet returns to Forest Ridge Road.

I know the pictures above look pretty tame.  Truth is that neither of them were taken this past weekend.  It never even occurred to me to take a picture.  Nor would I have know where to find my phone.  Sometime you will just have to join us - or not - depending on your relative preference for noise and sloppy kisses.  I love my family.  Any reason to gather is good enough for me. The last celebration of summer was a perfect opportunity.  Now, let's start celebrating the autumn...