Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fat Mr. Raindrop

We all get our "start" somewhere.  And from such humble beginnings, something just might grow.  It might just be the growth that will set the world on fire!  That's what we expected of ourselves when we were children.  Or it might be a smaller blaze, lighting just a our corner of the world.  I'm not sure yet where my fire will lead, but I know where it started - with my Great Aunt Essie.  Let me introduce you.

Aunt Essie was my grandfather's older sister - older by 8 or 10 years, as I recall.  She told me about her memory of my Grandpa's birth once in a letter - but I'm getting ahead of myself.  This is a picture of her was taken almost half a century ago. YIKES!  How can that be true?  But that is my baby sister sitting next to her, and she is no longer a baby!  This picture actually says very little about my aunt, except that chronologically, her age exceeded mine by LOTS.  But, you see, she was always young to me.

I don't know when or how or why, but we became pen pals  - somewhere about the time I learned to hold a pen.  She would faithfully reply to the letters I sent her - or was it the other way around?  Maybe I responded to the letters she sent?  Whichever the direction, I just remember going to the mailbox hoping for a letter addressed to ME.  And on a regular basis, when it arrived, it had Aunt Essie's address in the upper left corner.  She always understood what it meant to be a little girl wanting to be a big girl.  She never talked down to me or corrected me, or if she did, it was so gently that it just felt like love.  And I loved her, and my heart still holds her memory with the tenderness and tenacity of a mama's bear cub.

I sent her a story once.  Maybe it was the first one I ever wrote.  Certainly it was the first I felt confident enough in to share with this woman who loved me - and who showed it with postage stamps (SWAK - remember that?)!  My first literary classic was called Fat Mr. Raindrop.  Now, I know I have you on the edge of your seats wondering just what made Mr. Raindrop such a captivating figure.  I hate to disappoint you, but I have absolutely no memory of the plot (if, indeed, there was one).  What I remember was Aunt Essie's accolades.  They spurred me on!  And if the book I'm now writing (Soggy Red Confetti) ever gets a cover (fingers crossed for this fall), a big part of the credit will go to my first fan, Great Aunt Essie.

Has anyone else noticed that I haven't mentioned grandloves yet?  That's about to change.

About a month ago, Aidan came running up to me telling me he wrote something for me.  He was so excited!  And my heart was skipping merrily along with him, too!  His story said, "From Aidan.  We are having a party.  I love you, Grandma."  (He misspelled my name, but I will love and forgive a 5 year old for that.)  So this Granma wrote him back - and he drew a picture for me - and I wrote him back - and - well, you probably have a good idea of the way things are progressing.

I hope that Aidan (and his brothers) learns to love the anticipation of the mailman like I did.  I hope he trudges back from the mailbox when it is more barren than he wished.  And I hope he floats back when he finds a card that bears his name.  I hope he tells me stories - words written in just such a way to bring light and love to literature.  And maybe, just maybe, someday, he will tell me his story of an overweight drop of water - or some other protagonist of grandlove renown.

And in that moment, I will thank my Great Aunt Essie. Her faith was well placed and well nurtured and so much more appreciated than I ever knew how to say - until now.  Much love, sweet lady, and much appreciation.  I love you, still.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Are you sure he's related to me?

Aidan DOES love sugar
There are some things that are just the hallmark of being me.  Some of them I'm proud to mention:  grandmothering, of course, and quilting and writing and biking.  That's a solid enough list, though honestly, a bit thin.  But those are some pretty common things you might hear about me, especially judging by my Facebook page - oh, and margaritas, but that's a blog of a different title...

Elijah vs the cupcake
There are other things that are "me" through and through - I'm just not fool enough to highlight them in a blog that I hear will reside on the Internet long after my demise.  Then, again, as long as we are talking about it - or I am anyway - let's bring one of them into the light of day.  Two rounds of Weight Watchers notwithstanding, I am a sugar-a-holic.  My mom taught me to make cookies before my age of remembering.  By second grade, I would make them by myself on a whim or as a result of a dearth of appealing after school snacks.  These days, I try (some days successfully) to keep my sweet tooth in check - or exercises off the excess - as dictated daily.  However, I am well aware that there is a bakery in Sycamore (20 miles west of here) that has the BEST frosted sugar cookies!  Fortunately, you can buy them individually; I cannot be trusted with two.  And I can't easily or often make a 40 miles detour just to satisfy my sweet tooth.  This is what passes for self-control in my life.
Josiah and the object of his affection

Frozen sugar
One of my jobs as Granma - one of the ones I love the best - is making cookies with the grands.  It's not my stated job in life to doom the generation-after-next to a sugar addiction, but apparently I'm not beyond it, either.  Chocolate chips are always at the ready.  Ice cream in always in the freezer (Grampa's vice more than mine, but only by degree).  Mind you, I have never forced sugar or even the love of sugar upon the mini's; they have followed quite naturally, voluntarily and enthusiastically.  Go figure... Until the introduction of cotton candy...

First, a disclaimer:  I wasn't there and I didn't ply the three with pure spun sugar.  I mention this only because my friend, Sue Wauer, beat me to the punch.  A Granma herself (though she spells it "Yaya"), Sue was watching out for the ones I love when she saw them sitting empty handed at a baseball game.  Gaining parental permission, a considerate gesture, she bought blue cotton candy for each of the assembled three.  How sweet - and I say that with multiple meanings.

Whether or not the gift was appreciated by parent(s), it should have been destined for love by three little boys - though in reality, only two-thirds ended up singing its praises with sticky blue mouths.  The picture below graphically reveals Aidan's opinion of the the fluffy stuff, as well as that of his brothers.  This photographic evidence occurred even before the first taste, though I'm told the reaction was that much more pronounced after the first, and therefore last, bite.

While I might not be a cotton candy aficionado, it is sugar, meaning I will eat it just because.  So, really, Aidan, whose grandboy are you?  Well, sweetheart, I still love you!

Want to make some chocolate chip cookies?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Take me out to the Ball Game

So many quotes are attributed to it:  
  • America's pastime
  • There is no crying in baseball
  • The (grand)boys of summer
  • As American as baseball and apple pie
Generally speaking, I might be more interested in the apple pie than baseball - but that just reflects upon my over-developed sweet tooth...

Josiah is playing T-ball  for the first time this summer.  Having shown his prowess in the backyard with a wiffle ball and bat - no "T" needed - he set off to seek his fame and fortune on the diamond.  Well, maybe he would just start his pre-fame-and-fortune story; everyone has to start somewhere.

T-ball rules vary slightly from the baseball it will evolve into.  First, besides first base, there are no set positions - and every team member plays on the field in every inning, regardless of how many show up at the game.  After an opposing diminutive slugger hits off the "T", the ball is thrown to first base.  No outs were recorded in the game I watched, but even if they had, the runner remains on first, advancing to second only when the next batter takes his place on first.  There are no doubles, triples or home runs.  Those will be doled out in future renditions of the game in years to come.

T-ball does have one thing in common with baseball, as I clearly recall from previous Little League days: there is no clock.  Baseball can take hours, and can be seriously elongated by either a pitchers duel or a slug-fest.  Of course, there are no pitchers to duel in T-ball, and in the entire three inning game, only one ball dribbled out of the infield.  BTW, there were no outfielders, everyone bats in every inning, runs are not counted, and outs are too rare to mention.

Apparently, T-ball is not perfectly in line with Josiah's definition of baseball.  "Can we go home now?" he asked after inning number two.  "Not yet, you get to bat, again!"  Being on the home team, there was half an inning of fielding, complete with much yawning from my favorite player, before his last turn at bat.  Game complete, the teams line up for the traditional "good game" slap of the hands with their opponent.  The final game obligation complete, Josiah moved more quickly than he had while running the bases - to claim his prize of Gatorade and a snack.  Little boy motivation has not changed in the intervening generation.

One thing did change, though, being how seriously parents take a game among four-year-olds.  Several of the players donned their own batting gloves as they stepped to the "T".  Over the top, maybe, but harmless and kind of cute.  But when several players stepped to the plate with their own batting helmets, I had to wonder:  do you think I was witnessing the very first season of some future major leaguer?  I think I missed my chance at an autograph or two!

Actually, Josiah signed a picture for me just the other day.  I'll keep that one.  After all, it is already priceless.  No waiting for the majors required.  Swing for the fence, Josiah! 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The mother of/at a playground

Having been at the Granma-ing for a few years, there is certain knowledge that must be collected.  I'm not talking about anything as mundane as diapering, having had plenty of practice in my younger years.  Though, truth be told, the first grandGIRLIE messy diaper was a new-ish adventure for me.  I digress.
Josiah, Elijah & Tyler showing us the ropes

No, the information that must be collected includes things like:

  • Who will or won't eat what, which can get confusing when it is "times eight".
  • Where is the closest bathroom when out shopping.  I still remember their location in my old haunts.  But I don't necessarily still frequent those locations anymore since the Tri-Cities have grown up and sprouted shopping areas of their own.
  • And, to the point for today's blog, where are the best playgrounds.
Colin & Emma - up
and away!
Most of the tried and true from a generation ago have either disappeared or morphed into something unrecognizable.  This is not all bad, mind you.  Some of them needed a good morphing - one of them in particular, being the child-grabbing, adult-denying rocket ship in Kehoe Park (more affectionately known as Rocket Ship Park).  That thing still lures the mini's to the upper reaches where adults are not able to follow, and from whose heights children fear to descend.  Again, I digress.

Colin and Court on top
of the world
On Memorial Day weekend, several of us made the way across the house from our hosts to entertain young ones in that conveniently located park.  The swings garnered some attention, but it was the spider-web-climbing-thingy that drew them all in.  The elder grands taunted the younger from the highest reaches of the spider's lair.  This did not dissuade the more diminutive from their attempts.  They may not have reached the top,but they did grow a foot or three.  Not a bad afternoon's growth spurt!

And sometimes, the chronologically advanced cannot resist the attempt to show the following generation how it's done.  Way to go Colin and Emma!

This last pictures, though, is proof positive that I served my penance and earned the right to grandones!  I'm not sure what I should call the show offs who conquered the spider's web.  I had only one questions for them as they displayed their prowess:  who is your mother, anyway?  Sigh.  I do love those goofballs, too.