Generation to Generation

The last time I traveled to visit the Angels, I packed a bag full of gifts but also a little baggie of steel wool pads infused with soap.

From previous visits, I recalled that there were none and nothing works better on pots and pans and glass dishes than a good scrub with steel wool, one of many life hacks I learned from my mom.

A couple of days after I arrived, DIL asked me where I found them, and when I told her they were packed in my bag and I had brought them, she started laughing.

Apparently, HER mom brought a bag of them from England the last time she visited, and showed DIL how they worked and what a valuable little cleaning tool they were.

I learned it from MY mom and DIL’s mom learned it from her mom, too.

It was a funny moment of cleaning secrets passed down from one generation to another; apparently this new gen can still benefit from the teachings of the elders.

After a little elbow grease, this sixty-year-old pan which originally belonged to my mom and now lives with the kids and is still going strong, will sparkle and shine.

SOS and Brillo to the rescue!

Chatting With The Angels: All About Crunchy Towels

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

This story isn’t as funny as the one about little green moldy dots on my tortillas, but it still makes me smile every time I think about it.

When I’m at the Angels’ house, they love to assist me as I unpack my suitcase because they know I always bring presents. In fact, T “helpfully” carries the heavy one for me and C drags my smaller bag–anything to hurry up and reveal the goodies.

Angel Boy 2.0 says,

“We helped Mommy make the bed for you. Wait a minute Grandma, I forgot something!”

As he runs up the stairs, it’s easy to follow exactly where he is because I can hear dinosaur-like stomps on the way back down.

He hands me a giant bath towel. “Here, Grandma, feel THIS! It’s so soft, right?”

“THIS is the way towels are supposed to feel, not crunchy like at your house. Isn’t that nice and soft? Mommy does it the right way. Feel it again.”

I hear Mom laughing in the kitchen, and my own Angel Boy snickering in the dining room. Ha ha. (Let’s just see if they get THEIR presents I so carefully packed.)

Rewind back to their previous visit to Casa de Enchanted Seashells…

“Grandma, not AGAIN! Why are your towels so crunchy?”

“What are you talking about, T?”

“How do you wash your towels? Do you use the same stuff that we do?”

I know exactly where he was headed with this line of questioning, but I’m gonna let him continue, because 1. He’s adorable and so earnest and 2. He sounds exactly like a lawyer, maybe unconsciously channeling his great-grandpa.

“I think I use different detergent than you use at your house, my darling.”

“Do you use softener and put them in the dryer?”

“Nope, I don’t. You know I hang all my laundry out in the garden on clotheslines, right? I think the sun is especially good for towels and sheets. It’s solar power. I use the power of the sun and the wind to dry everything, unless it’s raining, of course.”

“WHY? But, Grandma”, and here he uses his hands to illustrate his point, “It makes them so crunchy and rough. I don’t like them that way. I like soft towels like at home.”

“Think about this, though. This is how Daddy’s towels always were and he didn’t complain about the way they feel.”

“DADDY GRANDMA SAYS YOUR TOWELS WERE ALWAYS CRUNCHY WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE BOY! REALLY?”

More snickering, and then, “Yes, T, Grandma always hangs clothes in the sun.”

T shakes his head in outrage at the apparent abuse his dad suffered as a child. He can’t fathom a world where towels are scratchy.

“Hey, you guys. Would you like it if I put the towels in the dryer for a while?”

“I do, We do. Come on, Grandma, do it our way.”

“OK, my little buddy, if it means a lot to you, I’ll soften them up in the dryer and they’ll be nice and warm for you and C after your bath.”

Am I the only one who still hangs laundry outside on a line? I admit that my towels are “crunchy” because they hang out in the sun until they dry. That’s actually the way I like them, ‘cos it’s like a loofah, but I can see his point.

Those children are priceless.

Oops, Mercury’s in Retrograde Again!

Mercury is doing its retrograde thing from May 10 to June 2.

This is so weird. My newish computer — a generous gift from the kids — suddenly locked me out.

Nothing I tried seemed to work so I called Apple and an extremely patient person helped me for more than an hour to go through the steps to recover access. None of the usual fixes seemed to work for him and he was stymied too, as there didn’t seem to be a mechanical or software reason to explain this glitch.

Finally, as he mirrored my device (with my permission), we were able to unlock the password protections.

It’s all fixed now, thank goodness, but I checked, and sure enough, Mercury is in retrograde which MIGHT explain how and why it happened.

FYI: this is a good time to back up all of your technology! It’s common to have files go missing, technology crashes, or software malfunctions during this time. Better safe than sorry, right?

Happy World Wide Naked Gardening Day!

That’s today, May 7, and that’s also a definite hard NO from me, whether it’s “world wide” or “worldwide”!

I’m out in the garden, fully dressed, thank you very much. However, if YOU choose to celebrate sans clothing, please wear sunscreen and please DO NOT send pics!

Random Chat with a Princess: Secret Revealed

Those two little humans I’m honored to spend time with love nothing more than to perch themselves on the bar stools, four elbows on the countertop in order to scrutinize and narrate my every move in the kitchen like a TV chef.

From chopping onions to slicing red peppers for an afternoon snack, to helping roll out pizza dough, I’m the star of the show.

“We have that same kind of hummus, Grandma.”
“Grandma, my almond butter at my house looks like yours!”
“I go to Trader Joes with Daddy. He lets me get snack bars. I like strawberry.”
“Did you get your almond butter from Trader Joes, Grandma?”

“I have a Traders too, Angel Girl, and a lot of the food I get at my store is the same food you get at your store. The next time I go there, come with me and we can compare all the labels and the similar types of food. Won’t that be fun?”

There was a unanimous request for breakfast burritos, so I placed all the ingredients on the counter and started preparing them like a short order cook.

When I opened the plastic bag of tortillas, I saw that SOME of them had a TINY–literally microscopic– bit of mold on them. (Ooops.)

That did NOT escape the eagle eyed surveillance of a curly haired little girl. She doesn’t miss a THING.

“Grandma, we have tortillas at our house too, but ours don’t have little green spots on them.”

“Why do your tortillas have little green spots on them, Grandma?”

She was seriously conjuring up a memory of the tortillas at her house and comparing them to these with admittedly very TINY moldy spots on them. As a reminder, this child is two and a half years old and speaks in complete sentences like her kindergarten brother.

I couldn’t stop laughing to myself because I have a slight problem I’ve tried to hide from everyone. It’s this: once in a great while, I confess that I’ve been known to camouflage or cut out mold on bread or tortillas and this brilliant and observant child just outed me to the world.

I poked through the layers of tortillas and found a couple that did NOT have telltale little green spots on them and finished their second breakfast of the day.

(Don’t worry, I don’t make a practice of serving moldy food!)

Later….

“Grammy, why are there so many seashells in your house?”

“Well, you know how much I love seashells and rocks, don’t you? I save them every time we go to the beach at your house and I bring them home.”

In the upstairs bathroom as I ran the water for a bath, T (the math lover) counted all the seashells, forgot where he stopped, and had to restart the count about four times.

“Grandma, there are thirty two seashells just right here.”

“That’s a nice even number”, I said, as we toss all the toys in the bath.

“But they’re everywhere!”

“Well, my friend, I guess you’ll have a lot of counting to do, right? But now it’s bath time, so in you go and then it’ll be time for Char’s bath.”

“Out of the mouths of babes” is so accurate. You gotta be on the top of your game 24/7 with those two bright humans.

April’s Angst

I don’t know what the heavens have unleashed, but since April 1 every day seems to bring a new disaster, a series of unfortunate events…

—I tore or somehow injured my medial collateral ligament on my right knee, the one that had previous injury issues! Talk about collateral damage…It’s starting to heal; KTape is my new best friend.

—The day after our big rainstorm, I went out to my pond to empty the filled up basin so I could use the water for the garden. There used to be a waterfall with a motor that kept things moving along, but that’s no longer working cos it’s some sort of big job to fix the electricity.

—I very gingerly knelt down to protect my painful knee. I then leaned IN (not the kind that Sheryl Sandberg wrote about) with a small container to transfer the rain water to a larger bucket. Everything was still slick with the inch of rain we had and as I leaned my left hand on the rocks surrounding the pond (some cemented in, some not) I apparently leaned on a rock that was NOT cemented in which was super slick and my left hand slid right in the water, while my right hand which had been acting as a stabilizer got sliced on the other rocks. There was blood EVERYWHERE.

That’s not even the worst of it. I fell so hard and unexpectedly that the larger cemented in granite boulders directly collided with my upper left quadrant rib area. I have prominent ribs and oblique muscles so there wasn’t a whole lot to cushion the blow, which felt like I got hit by a bus. Now I have either bruised or cracked ribs or cartilage, not sure which as I’m going to wait as long as possible to call the doctor. I think that’s called “blunt force trauma.” I figure as long as I’m not having a problem breathing, I can be pretty sure that my lung wasn’t damaged, not so sure about the spleen, but I’m hopeful the ribs caught the brunt of it.

Did you think that was it?

Nope, there’s more…

—Yesterday I went in the shed to take out all the deck cushions and toys to get ready for a visit from the Angels. (My ribs are sore and I know I shouldn’t be lifting anything heavy.) I haven’t really been all the way in there for a while, maybe only briefly to get a rake or some clippers so I was absolutely SHOCKED to see that everything was covered in layers of fresh and old rat droppings. It is quite literally the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.

Apparently in our tight housing market, the first rats to move in must have communicated this free space to their entire extended family and they set up an elaborate condo development. The rats also ate completely through the plastic bags of fertilizer and snail killer, which was NONtoxic (unfortunately).

I thought about cleaning it up myself, but as I looked around at the filth and contamination, I realized that it was beyond my capability. I don’t even know what I’d do if I saw a rat run out of there; I’d probably be scarred for life. The shed also appeared to be a perfect breeding ground for the hantavirus which I definitely didn’t want to breathe in and become infected with, so I found a company that’s coming with biohazard gear and they’re going to take everything out, vacuum up the droppings, disinfect it all, and help me figure out how to avoid another catastrophe like this in the future.

I love all animals but the not the ones that bring disease.

You have to know that a situation has to be REALLY REALLY bad if I don’t clean it myself. I have pics but you probably don’t want to see them. The only one who seemed interested was Angel Boy 2.0 who wanted me to flip the camera around so he could see.

“Show me the rat poop, Grandma!” “Wow, that’s a lot!”

Yuck. I’ve lost my appetite, hope I didn’t do the same to you.

This garden has possums, coyotes, bobcats, hawks, and owls; all of whom include mice and rats on their menu. I’ve tried to make a hospitable environment for them here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells and all I ask in return is that they keep my space rodent free — and they let me down. They failed. I’m very disappointed in our relationship.

What more could April bring? I don’t even want to know. Tell me when it’s my birthday month of May, OK?

UPDATE: The rat guy left and the infestation was so bad that a lot of stuff had to be discarded!! It’s all clean and disinfected now, but WOW. If anyone’s in the SoCal area and needs similar services, I 100% recommend Pacific Coast Animal Control.

Time for a Confession

I need an intervention.

I’ve watched so many British TV shows that I called somebody a wanker (under my breath) and actually started to get in my car on the OTHER side.

Sometimes I use the word “whilst” and stop myself from adding a “u” to color, honor, favorite. I actually think they look better with the addition, but that’s a personal issue.

I think it all started years ago with Absolutely Fabulous and all the British baking shows, Downton of course, Broadchurch, Vera, Scott & Bailey, Call the Midwife, Endeavour, Sherlock, The Crown, Unforgotten, Grantchester, now All Creatures Great and Small…soooo many!

Honestly, I don’t watch a lot of American TV unless it’s reruns of The Nanny or Bewitched or Emergency and it’s turned me into a bloody fool, but I should stop whinging. I’m cheeky like that. No worries, it’s all brill.

My DIL thinks I’m so funny because she likes to watch American shows and I don’t think they are nearly as well acted or written. Oh, we love to watch trashy Dynasty, but that’s a one off for me.

One of my favorite sayings is “needs must”. I reckon those two words speak volumes.

Cheers! Off you go then.

Happy February | Imbolc | Chinese New Year

This is a great day for all of the reasons!

Have you ever gone to a store with a purpose, on a mission, like you know exactly what you’re looking for or need, BUT you become sidetracked and MUST HAVE what caught your eye?

Well, that happened to me. I was looking for prezzies for my almost six-year-old. I like to start accumulating stuff way in advance of his March birthday and not wait until the last minute. I put a lot of thought into the gifts I choose; some educational, some for fun, some for artistic craftiness.

Up and down every aisle and there’s really nothing that I/he can’t live without…until I spy a pink butterfly and I’m entranced. When I get closer, I’m hooked. I’m in love. Obviously I’ve forgotten all about my original intention because this beauty was coming home with ME.

It’s a 12×12 pink butterfly pillow and it’s entirely crafted out of beads and sparkles. Oh my. It’s EVERYTHING. It’s gorgeous and sparkly and pink and tactile and PERFECT for my bed, and it’s on sale. It’s obviously not to be used as an actual pillow; it’s decor– it’s princessy and enchanted and beyond precious.

I have no idea why it was discounted 50%, but I l very gently– reverently— carried it in my arms to the register.

The employee said, “Where did you get that? It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” I pointed, and she said, “Just a minute, OK?” and ran over to snag the only other one.

“I had to have it”, she whispered, and I nodded. “I know. Sisters.”

What a simply perfect way to start the lovely month of February.


Walking Each Other Home

Ram Dass said it: “We’re all just walking each other home”, but he probably didn’t mean it like THIS.

Side note: I don’t know much about Ram Dass except for this quote and the fact that he went to Harvard — also that he dropped acid with Timothy Leary.

After my grueling DIY brick patio project, I took a break and went for a sunny walk around the lagoon. As I was heading up the hill toward Casa de Enchanted Seashells, my phone rang and it was my two favorite Angel Boys on FaceTime.

“Grandma Grandma, Guess what? We’re coming to you for a visit and Daddy says I’m old enough to go to Legoland ALL day and I can go on all the rides and the waterpark and you’re coming too!”

“Hey buddy, that’s so cool, I can’t wait!”

(You need to know that I wasn’t telling the truth. NOPE. I want to spend an entire day at Legoland about as much as I EVER wanted to go to Disneyland, which is honestly NOT AT ALL. Although I did take the original Angel Boy to Disneyland one time when he was seven years old because he wanted to go, it’s not my cup of tea. Too many crowds, too much noise. It’s overwhelming.)

But for the Angels, I will endure it. I want him to have that memory. These days don’t last forever.

“Grandma, you’re not home, I can see palm trees behind you, where are you?”

“Good eyes, T! I walked around the lagoon and now I’m almost home.”

“Hey, we all went for a walk too, it’s raining here, but I see blue sky at your house.”

“DADDY GRANDMA WENT FOR A WALK TOO JUST LIKE US AND SHE HAS BLUE SKY.”

“Walk me home, T, let’s walk and talk, and I’ll show you what I made for you and C to have tea parties when you’re here.”

“OK, Grandma.”

“T, stop playing with the emojis and talk to me. OK, that heart is sweet, but let’s talk!”

“Can you spell ‘dog’ for me.”

“D-O-G.”

“Awesome. You’re so smart, that’s too easy.”

“Now spell ‘cat’.”

“C-A-T.”

When your daddy was little, we used to walk together and spell and count, too, right on this same street!”

“How about we do some math. Count by tens to 100.”

“10-20-30-40-50-60-70-80-90-100.”

“Amazing!”

“Add 2 plus 2.”

“Grandma, that’s too easy. It’s four.”

“What’s Daddy doing?”

“He’s pruning a tree, see? (He flips the phone.) Mommy and C took a different way home so they’re not back yet.”

“All right, I’m back, see? Thanks for walking me home, my beautiful boy.”

“Yes, I see the garage, Grandma!”

“Now I’m going to flip the phone. Here’s the special place I made for your tea parties.”

“Char’s home now, too.”

“CHAR COME SEE WHAT GRANDMA MADE US!”

“Grandma planted raspberries too, Char! YUM. Just like we have, right?”

“GRANDMAGRANDMAGRANDMA!!!”

“Hi, Angel Girl, did you have a lovely walk?”

“Grandma, Char’s grabbing the phone and we’re inside. BYE!”

“Love you, T.”

“I love you, Grandma!”

Yes, we are walking each other home and this heart is FILLED with gratitude for the journey.

From The Grandma Archives: An Audience of Two VIPs

It’s been a while since I recounted a moment in time with the Angels…here’s one that brings a smile to my face and a glow to my heart.

I couldn’t help but hear the thundering footsteps of the familiar dinosaur stomp down the stairs at 6am which is marginally better than 5:30 am.

“Wake up, Princess Grandma Coyote Rose!” (He thinks long and hard about how he’s going to address me. It’s different and ADORABLE each and every morning.)

“Warm my feet up, Grandma, feel how cold they are!” “Are you still sleeping? You didn’t get up before I came down, did you?” [He hates when I do that because he’d miss out on our early morning tradition.] Did Daddy have a Batman tower when he was five?” “See my squishy? “I brought lots of stuffies down, too. Here’s Daddy’s teddy with the torn off ear.” “See?” “Give him a kiss, Grandma.”

“Did you have any dreams, my beautiful little buddy?”
“I DID but I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Was it scary? Do you want to tell me in a little while?”

“Yes.” “I’m hungry. Oatmeal first and then buckwheat pancakes when Char comes down.”

“Here are your slippers, Grandma. Hurry!”

First comes blueberry cinnamon oatmeal with a side of sliced apples; coffee for me, and more chat about the day. I never did find out what that dream was all about.

Angel Girl wakes a bit later than her ever/always on the move brother, so I prepped the buckwheat pancakes to be ready when she came down, which she did while AB was still eating his oatmeal. She climbed up on the bench next to him — “I’m in my spot, Grandma!. I need my pink spoon!”– to eat hers as I started the first batch.

After everyone had a few pancakes with agave for dipping and there was moment of calm, I asked Siri to play Swan Lake, one of our favorites. As the music embraced our peaceful eating, I asked them each to identify what feelings were generated by different parts of the ballet and was SUPER impressed by their accuracy.

With my captive audience of two, I stood up–in my fuzzy cheetah print bathrobe hahaha– and started dancing.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, Grandma?”
AG to AB, “Grandma is dancing, Tati!”

“You guys keep eating and I’ll do ballet for you.”

“Should I do a pirouette?” “And this is a plie and a développé, and the best one of all, arabesque!”

“Wow, Grandma!”

“Let’s practice our ballet arms, OK?”
“First, second, third, forth, and fifth. I like fifth position the best, because it’s the princess one.”

I observed wide-eyed Angel Girl reproduce all of the arm positions while shoving more buckwheat pancakes in her mouth.

“Well done, C!” YES, I thought to myself, she will absolutely love ballet classes in a couple years.

I’m not sure if T was all that enamored of my dance skills (or as embarrassed as a teenager would be), but it kept him sitting and eating, and that’s a win for me.

“Now, listen closely. Can you hear the music is telling us to become the swan? Let’s practice making our arms fly.”

“Here’s how we do it.” Again, only one is trying, but the other one is still there, intently watching me. I can’t tell if he’s impressed or if he thinks I’m completely insane; either way, I’m entertainment. As soon as it’s safe to go, I will absolutely take them to see Swan Lake. It’s a rite of passage.

“Now that breakfast and the ballet is finished, we always end with a graceful curtsey.”

“OK. Let’s play, Grandma!”

No applause, no bouquets thrown at my feet, no curtain calls…but my heart is full.

I hope they’ll always have that memory of Little Grandma dancing to Swan Lake in the kitchen after cooking a gigantic batch of pancakes. And laugh about it.

Do you want to know where mom and dad were? Sleeping in, of course!