Monday, September 17, 2018


I hadn't gotten to the zoo to be up close to some butterflies, so I asked for a zoo outing for my birthday.  It was such a great day.  My grown boys put in another garden bed- woo hoo, while the rest of us headed to the zoo.
I think I might have taken a picture before Bean asked for the camera.  I was glad to have one less thing to keep up with. When I sit down to look at them, it is like getting a fun, unknown package in the mail.  So let's start today with my people, then another day I'll share some non-peopled pictures.

My Mister Smiley was too sick to come. We sure missed his rambunctious littlest self.
Ivonne fell asleep on the way over, but he didn't stay asleep long.

So much to look at.

 Sometimes you have to get on your tippiest wee toes to see the butterfly chrysallis.
 It was too cute, if Pap, Noella or I wondered to far Ivonne would yell, "hod a hand." 

 Bean certainly captures some interesting looks.

 I remember when visiting the zoo with a pack of littles, I packed most everything, so no icee drinks or train rides, etc.  I love that part of being a Gramerly, of sometimes saying, "Yes."   They were all so excited, but even in there excitement where uber polite to the attendant who seemed rather amazed at their manners.

 I love me some butterflies, but my heart is the gorillas. Well, gorillas and this batch of monkeys.

Too many distractions, so I didn't get a picture of the photographer and for some strange reason, there aren't 12 pictures of Bean's feet this time around.  I'll have to be more mindful next time.
I so enjoyed spending the afternoon with them.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Older by the Minute

Another birthday.  I wonder what this last year of being in my fifties will hold? I recall when I used to almost look forward to this time, thinking I'd be so much wiser and able to cope with all the things life throws into your path.  Hmm. I'm not the only one aging, of course. My gramerlings are growing up at warp speed and I feel that same sense of loss as I did with my own three.  Worried that I won't find a place to connect with them. No longer sure what to do with them when they are here.  These concerns prompted a little writing jag earlier this summer, which I will include on this auspicious occasion.

Through the Years

We usually got a late start, heading to my Papaws, four hours away. I guess it took awhile, after work and school,  for my Mom to get all seven of us herded up and ready for a weekend from home.
Eleven pm was the middle of the night to me then, and likely was to Papaw as well, seeing as he was up with the dawn.  No matter that it has been fifty years, I see that old corn popper clearly in my memory, sitting right beside the jar of hard candy he’d bring out on our arrival. Then, after a late night treat, and with a hug and squeeze, he’d send us off to bed.  I would wake up all snuggled down in the middle of an old four poster feather bed with a sibling or a cousin, the smell of bacon wafting about, inviting us to a kitchen warmed with a coal furnace. 
 Papaw was a coal miner in his younger days, a gardener and a bit of  a traveling minstrel through those hollers in Kentucky where he lived.  He loved to sing, and folks loved to hear him.  By the time I came along, he wasn’t able to walk hill and dale and join a front porch band, but he still loved to sing.  The songs were more like ballads, musical storytelling. 

When Mary she came the Lord Jesus to see, at the dawn of the day on the first of the week......
God looked down on Hezekiah, gave him fifteen years to go...
Oh Rebecca loved Issac and he loved Rebecca fair, it must have a been a happy wedding day....

I would hear the same tunes again and again and then return to Sunday School and amaze the teacher, with what she believed to be my biblical knowledge, when actually it was my song knowledge.  He loved people, his daughter, his grandchildren and hospitality was his gift. 

Songs, smells, and stories bring me right back to those places, right back to that man.

My mother shared his gift of hospitality, only she brought her own delicious cooking and songs of her time. No one could make pound cake, popcorn balls, fried apple pies, biscuits, or fried sweet corn like my mama. She loved people, her children and grandchildren and feeding them and singing with them was her greatest joy.  She will be ninety this fall and to soothe her unease with bath time, I sing all of her favorites like “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “Tupelo County Jail,” “ Filipino Baby,” and “Let’s Have a Little Talk with Jesus.”
A sister who sang like a lark and a brother and brother’s in laws who played guitar added even more songs to the family gatherings that we would sing again and again, with many of us pitching in to feed the masses.
Now, I am the grandma to twelve!  How can that be?  I have made entertaining them my number one job from the start, and living where there is a deep, dark woods and minnow and fossil filled creek made it easy, at least for a long time. I love people, my children and my grandchildren.  Can you guess what we have for lunch a lot of days?  Popcorn.  There is also a jar of hard candy.  Ask them and they’ll also likely mention Gramerly’s Tea and cinnamon rolls, and maybe gingerbread houses.  The same hand soap that smells of eucalyptus and spearmint has ever been used and favorite stories read again and again on the story blanket during Playdates while uncounted pouches of fruit snacks are enjoyed, but they are growing up and times are changing aren’t they?  

When I went for a weekend to my Papaw’s, his food, singing, visits to see the chickens and the old coal mine were the only activities available.  One fuzzy station was all that came in on his black and white television and the telephone was a party line.  He did not have to vie for our attention, we were all his. As my gramerlings are growing up, I’m troubled by how to be with them when I am competing with sports, and cell phones and video games.  I’m always looking and thinking and wondering, “How do I hold on?”

 My oldest, Conner, is thankfully a fan of music I have long enjoyed.  Recently he has picked up the guitar and each time he is over he pulls my guitar out and plays what he has  learned since we were together last.  Soon he will turn fourteen and I will give him book I’ve found about the history of country music.  As we flip through the pages, I can show him who sang the songs my mother loves and that I learned as a child.  Oliver too, is playing, learning other songs I love,  so on Playdates, while the little ones run about with all the usual Playdate fare, there is some background music from my big guys.
 In addition, I hand Conner my camera and his role as photographer seems to bridge that gap between childhood and grown-up. He has a reason to still be a part without so much play during our weekly Playdates. 
My fair Lilli is a jewel with the littles.  I offered her a job as my helper in  my Joyful Learning- Water, Worms and Words Camp.  Each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, she is here early to help me be ready for our campers.  She happily runs through grass, woods and creeks with the wee folk, sharing stories, listening to them read and encouraging them as they write. I love teaching-my day job, and to share this teaching experience with her has been my delight.
Emmeline bounced into the world with a ready smile and song in her heart.  She loves to be loud and dramatic and is such fun. Already she is singing a few much loved family songs, so we have begun sharing a song book.  She sang the song for her uncle that we sing for each long good-bye we've had to say. We might write new words to old tunes, or songs we know and love, or a brand new song altogether.  Back and forth our songs fly, bringing tunes and smiles.
Her sister, Annabelle, just fifteen months older is altogether different, a bit quieter, more stoic. A lover of paper and pens and fabric and paint.  So we share between us a journal, a media mix of dibs and dabs of things we love, of words that we want to share.  My hope is to encourage her in world that expects perfection, nurture her love of nature.  Such tender words and beautiful colors bring a tear and smile.
And so, we are finding our way in the midst of all that technology and growing up has to offer.  I hope my faith, my love of song and stories and teaching, of paint and paper and woods and creeks, of yummy food, will find its way through to the next generation. Maybe I will get to hear about how they love people and their children and how they offer hospitality. I can see my Papaw smiling.

Leaves for Antebellie

Oh tiny one, so intricate and perfect,
Bruised and plucked by boot, hand, beak and paw,
Soundly ignored for your more illustrious flower and fruit.

Do you know the power you hold,
To do what mammal or insect cannot,
to pull energy from the great light, creating sustenance.

Not just for yourself,
This amazing gift, photosynthesis,
Allows us all to partake of color and flavor and beauty.

And  as daily we turn,
From the sun that lights our way,
Do you rest, confident and assured that all your best was given.

Or do you wonder, ponder.
Was there more I could have done,
A brighter berry, a tastier tomato, a crunchier cashew?

Do you fret, worry.
Am I green enough, tall enough,
Wide enough, too skinny, too fat, too different from my peers?

Or do you know,
You are all you are supposed to be,
This wee spot of green is just right to do a big job.

Oh tiny one, I hope you know.

Happy Birthday to me.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Dogs Days of August

This August, now past, has been a hot one.
Lots of celebrations in addition to Ivonne.  Ceece completed another revolution of the sun and Blue Eyed Boy as well.
This year he wanted coconut cream pie.

First, we shucked corn for supper.  I had intended having a fire, but the rain interfered.

Next, we got our pie crusts ready. I showed him various ways to fancy up the edge.

While they baked and cooled we had dinner with Pap.
Then it was time to mix the filling.

Perhaps not all the filling got in the pie crust, ahem.

 While we watched the rain from the porch, we decorated a walking stick.

 We had just enough time to use it for a trip to the creek.

I know it's cliche, but honestly, weren't we just celebrating his birthday last week.  He's growing up so fast I feel like I can't catch up to the their age.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Seeing Red

Aunt Tish's man Joe has a thriving business bringing heirloom tomatoes and such from the country to Louisville's restaurants.  Saturday night is leftovers.  Wow!

This watermelon was so good.
 And this mango salsa was sooooooo good.
And this salsa, oh my. I divided  it and added quite a bit more peppers for the Handy Man.  We ate it for most every meal till it was gone.

 Beyond what I needed, Joe had a ton of Roma tomatoes.  Noella uses tomatoes in everything I have seen her cook.  I brought home a box full.  I got fifteen quart bags for her. In addition to her not having to pay for them, she also doesn't have to drag them home on the bus this winter.
I want to give a big shout out to my family.  I've shared before that while Noella was more than happy having a mother figure, I wanted Ivonne to have some experience with people of different ages and with guys and cousins.  They all showed up to shower them with love in celebration of Ivonne's 2nd birthday.  He didn't quite know what to think of everyone showering him with attention.

 He loved his birthday banner with cutest pictures I've taken.
 The kids played and played with him.  So sweet.

 Since Noella had Easter with us, she has wanted to cook "African" for my family.  As best as I can tell, she is accustomed to turning whatever meat she might have- beef, chicken, dried fish, goat ( what she calls "maaa"), into stew. Always with onion and tomato, but additionally anything she might have.  Along with a little meat, a bit more stew, is a good amount of some sort of starch that I'm guessing is meant to be the filling part.  She makes several starches but the two she made for were from plantain and corn flour.  The consistency is much like playdough and is used as the utensil to scoop up the stew.  She is showing Gwen how it's done.  You have to beat the daylights out of that stuff.

With supper cooked, but a while till dinner time, we turned our thoughts to presents.  Ivonne had no idea  what to think. 

Ceece had a job to get to, but Noella wanted her to try her cooking, so she sampled first and liked the stew and edible spoon dumpling. 

I was proud of the kids for all giving it go, though different than they'd experienced before.  In addition, they were so great to show their appreciation to Noella for her hard work. 

It seemed the men folk agreed that the "maaaa..." (goat) was  a favorite and we'll probably laugh about what we all now call it, for a long time. 
 When it was time to light the candles, Pappy was behind Noella and Ivonne and when so grown up Giddy-Up struck the first match Ivonne wanted up in Pap's arms and away from the fire. That was a first.

 He wanted nothing to do with those little flaming sticks.

We then enjoyed cake and ice cream.  Noella said she wanted to come to all the family parties and was so thrilled with cake and gifts and banners and pictures.  
It is delightful to be a part of her joy.