Saturday, January 30, 2010


For some reason, I've developed an interest in the Jewish faith. I think some parts and prayers are so symbolic, I have no idea why we gave them up. In picking up books here and there, I came across this book pictured above. I love it. I'm reading it the second time through. Rachel Remen is a doctor, in her sixties, who shares the impact and blessing of a beloved grandfather, who only lived until she was seven. It's quite inspiring.
Awhile back, before I found this book, I had an interesting conversation about quantity versus quality of time spent with little people. The person I was conversing with shared that she had a grouchy grandma she spent lots of time with and a sweet grandma she didn't see as much. Now that she and her siblings are grown-up, they prefer to spend their time with the sweet grandma.
This conversation caused me to really examine why I so want to spend a lot of time with my gramerlings. Was I investing into the lives of these little ones so they would grow up and want to spend time with me? Was this simply a selfish pursuit? I didn't exactly know. I hadn't thought about it in that light.
Somethings I did know. I knew I wanted to be a grandma just as soon as I realized there would be no more children. I also knew I wanted to be an Auntie Mame type of grandma. It was a surprise to me still the depth of love I feel for them. I really didn't think it was possible to love like I loved my own three children. It is a wonderful and terrible knowledge. Wonderful in the way your heart swells when they reach for you, or tell you they love or miss you. Terrible as you have the same fears for them as you had for your own, only you have no control or say. Thankfully for me, their parents love them so, and want to make an abundant, happy life for them. I know many grandparents who lack that luxury. I also knew I wanted them to know how important they are to me. I don't think that's an easy task unless you give them a lot of your time and attention.
In the book, Dr. Remen talks about going to her grandfather's everyday after daycare and then school. Each day they shared tea in just the way he took tea with adults. Hot tea in a glass, sipped through a sugar cube between one's teeth. After tea, he would place his hand on her head and pray a blessing, mentioning all about her that was right as well as concerns she expressed in their time together.
She says, "These few moments were the only time in my week when I felt completely safe and at rest. My family of physicians were always struggling to learn more and be more. It seemed there was always more to know. It was never enough. If I brought home a 98 on a test from school, my father would ask, "And what happened to the other two points?" I pursued those two points relentlessly throughout my childhood. But my grandfather did not care about such things. For him, I was already enough. And somehow, when I was with him, I knew with absolute certainty that this was so."
When I read this, I cried, and I knew the answer to the question I posed.
"And somehow, when I was with him, I knew with absolute certainly that this was so."
That's it. That's why I want to spend time with my grandchildren, and that is exactly how I want them to feel with me. Fifty plus years later this doctor is unconcerned with the caffeine or sugar she ingested, she just knows how that great love made her feel.
So, I now know, I'm not interested in spending time with them so they'll love me when I'm older. I don't know if I'll even get to be an old person. I want them to know, as often as possible, that for this day, I just think they are wonderful, practically perfect in every way, beautiful, the joy of my heart, and that's enough.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Winter Textures and Babies

As soon as the weather gets really cold, I start thinking about knitting.
These colors and textures were so dreamy-delicious, I couldn't resist. I love knitting with such soft fluff. I think I knit for an excuse to feel the yarn.
Rae-rae has a blue and white vest and a green and white coat, so I knitted the pastel one for her. The other one reminded me of a friendship I have. My friend being warm and soft and steady, and me being all those wild things poking out everywhere.
It appears I liked having babies in winter as well. I always dreamed of May babies, but reality proved different when my first was born in February, and my second and third during an horrendous ice storm at January's end. It doesn't seem possible that my babies could be 27 years old. How in the world did we get here so quickly.

Every year since that were tiny little red curly tops, I've taken this same picture. Makes me a little teary. They've grown into such beautiful people that I am so proud of. Happy Birthday Drummer Boy and Rae-rae.

Drummer Boy ordered a cake made with mandarin oranges and pineapple. Rae-rae wanted a chicken dish she had at a fancy restaurant on her anniversary -chicken stuffed with Brie and rolled in pecans, topped with a raspberry sauce. So, along with that we had roasted asparagus, Texas style potatoes, green beans and homemade wheat and pumpernickel bread. Tasty. Best of all, I have enough for supper for my Kaye Night.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Painting Up the Town

After a busy day at school and playplace, especially when it's cold and wet, Bean and Bugg just like to come over and chill awhile. They hunker down on either end of the couch with their silkie (a baby blanket that no longer covers them unless they're scrunched in a ball), pillow, drink and snack. For his afternoon snack, Bean poured pistachios in a baking dish to munch (the nuts, not the dish) while resting. If you are wondering, the preferred container for his green tea with locally harvested honey and Bugg's chocolate milk, is a bottle. That's another repeated tradition. My own mom always kept those little cute pastel colored plastic baby bottles and the kids drank out of them as long as their wee hearts desired. Bugg and Bean think it's so funny.
After a bit, Bugg disappeared to go potty. It seemed she was taking a long time and as I decided I better go check about her, turned around to this. I exclaimed, "Well, Miss Bugg, did you need to get your lipstick on? " She honestly replied, "No, YOURS." Well then.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Celebrating Peace

Here in my neck of the woods, my friend girls and I head out of town for MLK weekend for a little peace and tranquility in the woods somewhere in Brown County, where we spend a lot of time talking and eating and sleeping and eating and laughing and crying, oh, and eating.

Seriously, how Check Spellingmuch stuff could five people even hope to use in two days? Well, you know we like to settle in and not have to run out.
So if you are hankering for an apple, a cookie or need an onion, you better have it. It turned out that we were all very familiar with these bags before the end of our outing.
We arrived at this beautiful cabin in the deep dark woods and carried each and every bag in, put it all away, and started on dinner.
We decided it was likely the best place yet in all the years we've stayed until..........
I took a potty-break about 10:30 and the flusher refused to flush. Hmm, well says I, I'll just wash my hands and inform the girls that this potty be broken. Uh, no water out of the faucet either. So I ran around trying one after another- no, no water. Oh where, oh where has my Handy Man gone? Seriously, you do not want to be the messenger when women must be informed that there will be no flushing or showering in this little cabin tonight. A call was promptly made to the property manager, who sent a maintenance man of sorts to try and rectify the problem. Within 3 minutes of his arrival all five of us desperately needed to use the bathroom. After this strange little man spent two hours under the house, he informed us there would be no water this weekend, as he really was a light bulb man and cisterns and pumps weren't his forte. Yeah, we kind of got that idea. Not wanting to pack up at 1:30 in the morning, we toughed it out, and decided to move the next day.
The morning was brightened significantly when I opened the chickie-girl eggs I brought and found at least evidence of where Handy Man had been. So sweet.
One advantage to no water is you can't
do dishes. After breakfast we headed 20 miles the other direction to our new place. First though, we had to pack up all those bags, again.
Uh, hello. This is not a cabin. Where is the deep dark woods, Bambi, coon tracks?
It's saving grace, or so I thought for a few minutes, was a fireplace. I love me some fire and set about getting one roaring. Well, as soon as we'd hauled all those bags in, again. I could see the damper was open and the smoke was going straight up the flue, but the house was still getting smokey. Another call to the light bulb changer, whose resume apparently didn't cover fireplaces either. Boo, hiss, the fire had to go.
Still, a good time was had by all. Next year, I'm packing my Handy Man.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Boy and His Creek

Bean can smell a change in the temperature, which brings on a immediate need for some creek play. I picked them up from daycare and his first concern was the condition of the creek and the chance of a visit. I felt like it had warmed up enough for a little trip.He never seems to tire of the creek. I
am so thankful.
Oh, there's a Grumpy Ol' Troll under
the bridge.
The thawing ice made some beautiful crystals.

I put his feet in plastic bags, then his rain boots. He said, "Is this going to be comfortable enough when I'm walking?" I told him I thought he'd be okay, but to walk carefully- one fall, and in we go, because you can't be wet and outside in winter. Thankfully, he'd had a good play time before landing in an icing puddle, standing up quite rapidly and declaring emphatically, "Time to go!"

Skipping rocks on ice is awesome. It
skips just like on water only much further and lots more skips.
Buttercup is going to be our beach bunny I think. In spite of my best attempts to convince her of the joy of rock tossing or moss plucking, she was not amused with the ice and snow and did not care to participate in frolicking in the creek.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sweet New Girl

A lost love can't really be replaced, but you can be reminded that your heart will expand yet one more time to accept a new one.
Welcome to our world Princess Fiona. We're glad you are here!

My friend who lost two beloved pets within two weeks just before Christmas, got a new puppy.
Isn't she so fine?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday with Kaye

I haven't reported on Kaye in a bit. I feel a little heavy hearted for some reason this evening. Nothing major going on. On one hand, I see little things that make me feel hopeful. Today, she wanted me to help her practice writing her name. Actually, she prints it. That surprises me, as I imagine she's written her name in cursive for about fifty years. It seems that would be the pattern that surfaces in her mind, but no, it's one stroke at a time, like Bean does. She will do it one time, mostly correctly, but doesn't say the right letters, then tries again and can't quite get it. She is able to recognize when it's not right. I gave her an A+, and hung her effort on the refrigerator.
You know they kept telling us that in brain injuries what you see the first three months is about the most progress a person is likely to make. Well, she hardly made any progress the first three months. She had no appetite, or perhaps even an understanding of what food was. Then forever we would get her to eat a half cup of yogurt or soup on a good day. Now, it's like it's gone completely the other way and she wants to eat a lot.
She also wants to drink a lot. The staff at the dialysis clinic fusses at Pete everytime and tells him to limit her liquids. She has to take this big pile of pills four times a day. How in the world is he supposed to get them down her? When he tries to get around letting her have something, it just hurts her feelings.
So, we have a new thing-the writing. But, she didn't get up until 9:30 today and laid back down before noon for almost two hours, then wanted to go back to bed at 4.

Other concerns are her sodium levels dropping too low in dialysis, and her blacking out-three times in the last two weeks. Lastly, she has not been showing much progress in therapy, for about three weeks. Pete says. He has long been valiant in holding to the hope that she would make a better recovery than she is making. You know, if it works like it did with Daddy, little progress means they stop the therapy. Yeah, I get it from an insurance stand point. They want those dollars spent where you see results. What they don't get is even if she can never get up and walk, she feels so much better about herself when she even takes a few steps. All the work she does builds her strength and she will do it for them much more willingly than for us.
It is of course heartbreaking for Pete to think that this as far as she will go. Heartbreaking for us all because she knows what she can't do and hates it.
Today they were trying to make a grocery list. She wanted something put the list and we ran through every other thing on a grocer shelf and couldn't get it. I try to placate her and just say, "Oh, don't worry, if something comes up and we need it, we'll run get it." But Pete will not give it up. In some strange way she's wired now, she says, "diamin" for any word she doesn't know. She said, "It's like what you are doing." I was cooking. "Sue had it, David wants it." We finally called David down and continued until at last we arrived on my last nerve at "chili"-thanks be.
She gets so frustrated, who can blame her. Then, that leads to her calling Pete some unpleasant things.
Pete is sick this week with a cold and now cough, an antibiotic making him sick at his stomach.
So, I feel such sadness for them. Sad that there is really no one to take care of his needs when he's sick. I mean when my sisters and I are there, we cook and catch up laundry, but then we have to leave. I don't know, I just don't know.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter at Cluckingham Palace

It's been unusually cold here as most of you are well aware. We wondered how the girls would like snow. Handy Man let them out first yesterday and laughed his head off at their antics all afternoon. He said they came flying out in their usual fervor, then stopped short,some hopped straight up in the air, surveyed the white world, and with much indignation zoomed straight back to the coop. Today I turned over some hay to try and entice them out. It worked, mostly.
"Whoa, man, this is slick!" Basically, the hot oats and vegies were tempting, but they really couldn't decide if they were coming or going.

I did feel the need to run them out for a few minutes to gather the eggs and turn over the litter. This was the obvious favorite nest box of the day. When they won't go out there are lots more droppings, that I need to turn over.
It took, oh, maybe 4 to 5 minutes.
Golda-my-chickie was brave enough to fly up on the gate to look around, but not brave enough to get in the snow.
When I wouldn't let them back in the palace, they decided to set up housekeeping elsewhere. The big silver rooster is in the back, and I don't how many more.

"C'mon Mom, it's cold out here. Please let us in. We'll be good and scratch and turn over all that litter."
"See, we're on it." Every evening when it's cold we throw scratch over the litter, it's called that I guess because they scratch all around while pecking it and turn over the litter, composting the poo and wood chips. The corn digests more slowly than some things they eat and warms them up in this awful cold. The theory is the composting litter provides some warmth in the coop as well. Then, in spring, you scoop it all into the garden-brown gold!
The little heater underneath keeps their water from freezing. Cheeky and Little Red Hen needed a drink. The cardboard over the top keeps any droppings out of their water. When it gets dirty, it goes in the compost bin.

The girls could stay in Arwen's house, cuz this is where Arwen stays. Right by the gate. I told those girls Arwen would not be happy to come home to her bed all scratched up, even if it was done by someone named Yellow Chick Awesome. They are pretty girls though, huh? As you can see, they're managing the cold fairly well, but I'd say they'll be glad when the snow is gone.
Other chickies were busy as well. There were about 200 of these tracks circling around the bird feeder on the side porch.
Are you staying warm?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

So Beautiful

With a flash. It's walnut

Without a flash makes it look like cherry

Next to me, his kids, their kids, the chickie girls and a cigar (I won't be so bold as to say in that order, though I like to think so), Handy Man loves to work with wood. Someone donated a wood stove for his garage and for Christmas I bought him a fan that sits on it to spread the heat around. So he's spent some free hours this winter working on this piece.
I take pretty good pictures of babies and chickie girls, but I haven't figured out the knack for furniture photography. The picture never looks as good as the actual piece. I think it's beautiful.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Traditions

Buttercup passing out New Year schmoochies.
When the first grandboy arrived, Handy Man and I settled in to spend New Year's Eve as the babysitters. On New Year's Day, we added another tradition to the cook a meal with cabbage and blackeyed peas. The dedecked tree went outside of the window to hold yummy treats for hungry birds. We started this in earnest when Bean was 17 months old. I didn't really think he would much care at first, but he did. He rolled the buttered pinecones in the bird seed and everytime he came all winter he would want to see it. If a pinecone fell off, it had to be replaced immediately.

Miss Bugg thought it was kind of icky.

The tradition lives on. The birds appeared appreciative.
In the palace, we fixed the lights to be on when the sun shines, so if the girl's wee biological clocks were in need of slowing, they could. At the same time we turned on two heat lamps, because it is so very cold here. Today, we got 17 eggs from 18 chickens, so it doesn't appear they are ready to slow down any. They still want out. I'm thankful we've at least had warm sunshine. The girls tolerate it about two hours before heading back to warmer ground.
A friend asked if I would share a devotion with her ladies group this evening. It was such a nice time. Here's to a brighter New Year!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Wow, It's 2010

I took some of my littles to see The Princess and the Frog on New Year's Eve. It wasn't quite as overwhelming and crowded as our Christmas movie experience. It was a cute flick. The firefly character was my favorite. When we returned home, we used up the very last of the sparklers from Rae Rae's wedding to ring in the New Year.

The kids enjoyed them just as much as Fourth of July I think.
Now it was time to introduce Bean and Bugg to Jiffy Pop. Bean had no idea what we were doing with that flat silver pan, but he was a good sport and faithfully shook, shook, shook it over the heat.
Well, whatever. Uh, oh, something is happening!
It's growing!
Well, look at that. This stuff works immensely better than it did when I was a kid. Fun times.