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!

A Whimsical Flower Garden Bouquet For ME!

Tomorrow might be all about the original Angel Boy as it’s his birthday, but today is all about me, so I walked around the garden and picked all the flowers blooming in early spring to celebrate myself.

Back in 1981, he was already a week overdue on March 22. I had walked my dogs, Sabrina and Beowulf, early in the morning where I tripped on an uneven sidewalk and fell down.

Other than being annoyed at my huge bulky belly that got in the way of everything, I didn’t think about it. I felt fine.

My mom came over to take me out for lunch and shopping, two of my most favorite pastimes (then and now). I remember exactly what I bought. She wanted me to have a pretty nightgown to commemorate the birth of her first and only grandchild. In fact, I still have that little rose sprigged lacy cotton gown, mainly because I never throw things away and besides, it’s a lovely reminder of that day with my mom.

As we were eating lunch, I excused myself to use the restroom. When I returned, I said to her, “It’s so weird, I don’t know why my pants feel like I wet myself.”

Well, my mom who NEVER freaked out, was always calm, freaked out, “Your water broke. Why didn’t you tell me? We need to get to the hospital. When did this happen?” “What other symptoms do you have?”

I told her about falling earlier in the day and she deduced that I had partially ruptured the placenta. I don’t remember much about driving home except for her repeating, “You might have introduced bacteria, you might have introduced bacteria. Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

Stubborn as I am, I did NOT go to the hospital right away, although I was having slight labor pains. I wanted to take a shower and walk my dogs again.

She and Daddy-to-be called my doc who agreed that I needed to get to the hospital to be safe.

I was extremely upset because for nine months I planned to have my baby at home with my mom attending. She was an amazing nurse, had worked for many years in labor and delivery and had brought home a sterile delivery kit, kinda sorta like Call the Midwife.

The fact that there was even the slightest chance that my baby was in danger caused my mom (and Dad) to refuse to allow me to play the role of Earth Mother and stay home. I had planned to have all my animals surround me to participate because their little brother or sister (we didn’t know) was being born.

I had to reluctantly agree with them that it wasn’t all about me, plus the vaginal mucous plug or “show” had started to separate from the cervix which meant actual labor was progressing. We arrived at the hospital about 7pm.

I’ll save the rest of the story for tomorrow, because after that day it was NEVER all about me ever again–it’s always and will forever be about my Angel Boy.

Here’s me on March 22, on that final walk, taking a break with my beautiful Sabrina, a couple hours before going to the hospital. I’m really happy to have this photo. My sweet Sabby looks so old.

I’ve shown this pic to my other Angels and they get a kick out of seeing their Daddy inside Grandma’s body before he came into the world. “There’s Daddy!” And “Grandma, you love Border Collies so much, don’t you?”

But not more than you guys. Nope. Never more than you, my Angels.

Cinderella

My son is funny. Snarkywittyfunny.

He comes out with the most apt observations in such a deadpan, low-key way that you never see it coming.

I had been cleaning up after dinner and decided to get down on all fours to wipe up a smashed blackberry off the tile floor in the kitchen.

Fam had been walking past me, in and out of the garden, enjoying the still warm and sunny early evening while I was happily toiling away.

My erstwhile son came in from the deck and as he passed me on the floor, paused and delivered this perfectly timed line,

“How’s it going, Cinders?”

I had been so engrossed in my task that this unexpectedly struck my funny bone so hard and I gufffawed.

“Cinders! Oh good one, J!”

Trust my boy to assess the situation and release such an accurate quip.

There was no malice, no disrespect intended, no offense taken — he knows that I can take a joke and this was one that unerringly hit its mark.

I am a volunteer Cinderella; it’s a labor of love, I don’t mind at all.

The Big Four-OH-MY-GOODNESS

March is the birthday month the two Angels share but there’s no way I have a child/boy/man who turned forty today at 9:42 a.m. NO WAY.

In my mind, I still see him as being four or eight or even as an obnoxious and sarcastic teenager, but FORTY?? A dad with two kids? AND a fully tenured professor?

It’s not possible. I’m still shaking my head.

I needed to do the math to make absolutely sure I was correct and there’s no doubt about it. I gave birth to the original Angel Boy forty years ago today after a seemingly neverending 24 hour labor that resulted in an emergency Caesarean section.

Stubborn girl that I am, I tried and tried to push him out but his gigantic head got stuck (TMI) and I only capitulated to the C-section when I saw his heart rate was being compromised. I really wanted that whole Mother Earth experience but of course would never harm my baby boy to satiate my ego. I can always look at that perpetually lopsided scar where the surgeon had to open me up FAST between contractions.

He’ll always be the love of my life, my shiniest and most lovely baby boy.

Even today, I can feel the weight of him hugged tightly in my arms, despite the fact that he’s now over six feet and no longer sits on my lap (‘cos that would be just plain WEIRD.) This is one of my favorite photos if we can ignore my horrible haircut where she obviously didn’t know how much curly hair SHRINKS when it’s not styled properly.

I am forever grateful for this sparkly emerald green-eyed boy.

He called me a bit ago. What’s he doing on his birthday? He took the day off so he could go to the Dirt Exchange, fill the car up with soil and mulch, and spend the day gardening. He has a green thumb to match those eyes.

Read more about AB and his almost catastrophic illness in 2014 here:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2020/07/24/that-dreaded-call-at-300-a-m-2/

And more about the birth here:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2014/03/22/i-fell-down-and-a-baby-popped-out-2/

And more about my love for this special boy who will always be my heart here:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2020/05/10/the-boy-who-is-my-heart/

What’s Your Inspo?

Friday thoughts…

(inspo = something or someone that serves as inspiration or motivation.)

deviantart.com/ignisfatuusii/art/In-the-Magic-Forest-3311904

I’m a forever child, never to grow up, still talking like the perpetual thirteen-year-old that I was/am, and sometimes a fairy princess in an enchanted forest with flowers in my hair surrounded by gentle creatures.

It used to irk my son when I’d repeat key phrases from South Park or Beavis and Butthead that were sooo INAPPROPRIATE, but now he laughs with me. A snarky chuckle, but a laugh nonetheless.

One day when he was in graduate school, we were eating lunch with a few of his friends and he put me on the spot and made me imitate Towlie from South Park. “Wanna get high?” in that Towlie voice. Good sports, we all laughed. I knew they were laughing AT me, but it wasn’t in a mean way. I laughed at myself, too. The jokes on them though, ‘cos whatever I did as a mom inspired my son to become a professor. HAHAHA.

Here’s Towlie in case you didn’t have a teenage son in the 90s…

NEVER GROW UP, that’s my mantra. (A girly Peter Pan without leaving all the narcissistic destruction in my wake.)

Just now at the ATT store I noticed that I was the ONLY one who was enthralled with two little starlings who walked all around me in a circle, not a care in the world with regard to humans and cars, and then I looked up and saw a gigantic White Egret. There was a UPS man parked right next to me and he followed my gaze as I was looking up, so I said, “Look at the beautiful white egret!” Nothing. “It’s a BIRD.” Nothing. “It’s really special!” Nothing. He continued with his stressed and frenzied pace to get those packages delivered and delivered and delivered. He looked at me like I was slightly off center but I wanted to tell him that he’d have a better day if he stopped just for a minute to BREATHE and LOOK UP.

There are miracles all around to be seen and heard. The simple things are the greatest bringers of joy and gratitude. It’s also true a Chanel handbag can bring its own kind of joy, as much as a seashell. Same.

Back to inspo

What’s MY inspo? Now it’s mostly Theo and Charlotte, and always my original Angel Boy, that’s a given.

I’m putting the finishing touches on Theo’s half birthday gift, another one of my personalized books with photos and beginner words that I write just for him.

Yes, we celebrate half birthdays around here. It’s a tradition started by my mom, the original Charlotte. Hee hee. Not only did I get presents on my dad’s birthday, I received gifts and HALF a cake on my half birthday in November. The same was done for AB and now his kids. I think it’s an awesome tradition.

When my son turned twenty-one, I embarrassed him (yet again) in front of his friends with my speech about my love for every breath he’s ever taken and then gave him a gift of a star that I named for him because he was and will always be my entire universe. Check it out: International Star Registry, Scutum RA18h 47m 46d D-12′ 24′

Do you celebrate half birthdays?

What’s your inspo?

“Vas ist Los” or “Was geht ab” auf Deutsch

What’s up?

This is just a random post to test the waters with the new WordPress format WHICH I HATE HATE HATE. For me, it’s taking all the fun out of writing. It’s clumsy and NOT user-friendly. 

By now if you have read even a couple of my posts, you know that I am unapologetically a MOM first and foremost. All I ever wanted was to be the mom of one boy, and my wish came true. Not only is he brilliant and kind and a great dad, he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. 

He’s a professor of German language and philosophy. That’s actually what his Yale PhD is called: Germanic Language and Literatures.

At my insistence, he’s been teaching it to Angel Boy 2.0  but it’s harder than it seems. We do refer to raccoons as Waschbär, though, so that’s progress, I guess. 

I don’t speak Deutsch, I do better in French or Spanish, but I used to help when he was first taking German in high school, like conjugating trinken to getruken.

We practiced with 3X5 cards every day until his conversational skills surpassed my ability to decipher even a single word.

When he did his junior year abroad in Goettingen, I visited him (as the good Jewish mommy-drone that I am) and was continually impressed by his fluency and beautiful accent. People thought he was a native speaker, and I was/am so proud of my Engel Junge (Angel Boy). 

I learned to say Tschüss instead of auf Wiedersehen every time we left a store, and that’s about it for my language skills.

He wrote a book entitled The Geological Unconscious
GERMAN LITERATURE AND THE MINERAL IMAGINARY 

It probably won’t be read by too many people but that’s OK ‘cos I’m mentioned in it, so my life’s work is done.

Here’s the link to that post: https://enchantedseashells.com/2020/05/14/happy-birthday-to-meeeee/

The boy who is my heart

Update Mother’s Day 2020: I wrote this post about my son lightyears prior to Angel Boy 2.0. because without him, I wouldn’t be a mommy at all.

Since the birth of his baby sister, AB 2.0 and I repeat this conversation pretty much every single time we speak or we’re together. (A little needed reassurance about his place in the world.)

“Who’s my very favorite boy?”

“I am, Grandma!”

And who’s my second favorite boy?”

“DADDY IS. DADDY IS!”

“You’re right! Now…who’s my favorite GIRL?”

“CharChar is, right, Grandma?”

“You got it, T. And then who’s my second favorite girl?”

“MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY!”

Just keeping it straight for the second little boy who is my heart.

(P.S. My poem was published in Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream Volume 34 #4)

 

The Yellow Steamroller

So much depends
upon

a yellow
steamroller

buried
in the dirt
 
behind the shed
On one bitterly cold wintry afternoon, I embarked on a major yard cleanup project. I raked all the pine needles shaken loose during the fury of Alaska-borne winds that roared down the coast to Southern California.
Metal rake clanged against metal.
Then I saw it, a bright yellow igniting the dirt and pine needles, suffused with a gleaming radiance through the brown. 
steamroller1
I threw down the rake, crouched on all fours, and with bare fingers dug through the wet fecund soil to uncover an abandoned yellow Matchbox toy from the spot where there once was a sandbox that my son’s dad  built for him when we first moved to this house in 1985.
I discovered in situ a three-inch wide artifact imbued with all the wonder of my perfect four-year-old child, the same age that my grandson is right now, thirty-five years later.
I gently brushed away decades of encrusted soil and sand.
steamroller2
sandbox
I was engulfed in wave after wave of memory.
I was there. Really there. 1985. 
I saw him–my precious four-year-old son in this beautiful huge sandbox filled with fresh, clean sand.  
I watched him as I often watched him from the bay window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard where I would wash dishes and keep an eye on him, keeping him safe–always keeping him safe–as he played in the sand with his dump trucks and cherry pickers and this steam roller and his buckets and plastic cups and forks and sticks with his cats and dog always near, and the loveliness of the memory set me on my heels and I cried.
Happy tears for the exquisite soft rosy glow of healthy well-fed cheeks, the deep Imperial jade green eyes, the curls that were my curls, my boy, my angel love.
The boy whose every breath contains a whisper of the intangible all encompassing LOVE I possess for this being who was a part of me before he was a part of the earth and sun and sky and sand.
The boy who is — and always will be — my heart.
I shut my eyes tight to keep the pictures from disappearing, but the ephemeral/evanescent impressions floated away with the tears that spilled out for the remembering of the beauty of a luminous child playing in a sandbox, singing to himself and constructing sand sculptures of the future, or, in his case, building words and spinning thoughts and erratica.
Those grains of sand that between his fingers mashed and smashed into forts and tunnels were the detritus of the granite from whence his brain reformed them grain by grain into skyscrapers of words and sentences that flow like a path from the back door to the sandbox.

And what eventually happened to the steamroller? It’s still here in the garden, living a new life helping another curly haired, green eyed little boy weave his own stories…

In a way, a sort of homage to…
The Red Wheelbarrow
William Carlos Williams
so much depends
upon
a red wheel
barrow
glazed with rain
water
beside the white
chickens.

One Year on This Earth

1 year, 12 months, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,00 seconds, not counting the nine months before he took his first breath on March 8.

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That would be Theo–Theo-dorable–Angel Boy 2.0

The most amazing grandson in this or any other universe.

I never really thought I’d succumb to the stereotype and become THAT sort of obnoxious grandma, but I did!

I am THAT grandma.

Hee hee.

I don’t have a REAL name yet; Grandma is how I refer to myself when I talk with Theo–my son likes to call me Granny cos he’s snarky–and I figured I’d let Theo make the decision. I’m pretty cool with just about anything.

Angel Boy 1.0 (the original) was born on March 23, so we have two special days to celebrate this month.

And lucky me, they’ll all be here (DIL included) for a couple of weeks so I can be a part of this momentous event!

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Getting party ready at Casa de Enchanted Seashells!

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Some outdoor furniture.

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A vintage toy, a favorite of AB 1.0

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You can’t start them too early to think about animal rescue, am I right?

Oh, and happy birthday to my first and foremost Angel Boy, without whom there would be no AB 2.0, honestly and truly my very first love. There was never a more amazing child.

I wrote this poem for him a couple years ago in this post (click on the title):

The Boy Who Is My Heart.
So Much Depends On A Yellow Steamroller.

The Yellow Steamroller

So much depends
upon

a yellow
steamroller

buried
in the dirt
 
behind the shed

 

A World of Firsts

A first grandchild brings memories of other firsts:AB2.0That first moment I knew I was pregnant.

The first time nausea was how I defined each waking moment, a fog of nausea and exhaustion no amount of sleep could erase.

That red letter day I woke up and for the first time in four months wasn’t running to the bathroom to throw up.

It was a day to celebrate. My mom made blueberry pancakes and I not only kept the entire stack down—I gorged on a second serving.

The first time I looked really and truly without-a-doubt pregnant.

That was about the time I felt that first flutter-butterfly kisses from the inside.

The insane feeling of the first kick – and how it was so much more intimate than anyone had warned me about.

That was my baby in there!

A HUMAN attached absolutely and for all time —with his own arms and legs and brain and thoughts and feelings and it was overwhelming.

The first Braxton-Hicks contractions.

I called my mom and she rushed over in less than fifteen minutes to take my vitals and reassure me that this was NOT the real thing. Not yet. (She was an RN.)

The first real contraction.

The first realization that it hurt so much more than I had anticipated.

And then, outside of my body for the first time, unattached but wonderfully connected by heart and soul; the first time I was able to hold my precious baby boy.

Who is now having his own first baby boy.

Simply crazy.

No way I’m that old, right?

I guess there’s a first for everything.

Princess Rosebud’s EMPOWERING Solo Adventure

(Blogging from the train, which is OK except for spotty wifi and my paragraph edits aren’t working, so this post won’t look exactly right.)


“It’s never too late to become empowered” she said.

Well, thank you very much for that unwanted opinion.
At 6:15 a.m., I was the first one in line when the Amtrak Station opened up.
I’m on my way to Santa Barbara to meet my son/DIL and have a little camping and hiking vacation. This is something that tugboat man and I had been looking forward to, but alas, he was called back to work immediately upon arriving home, so I decided to be a BRAVE princess and venture forth into the big scary world all by myself.
What was I thinking??
Confession: I’m not much of a traveler. Although I do travel alone from time to time, mostly tugboat man and I are together and he takes care of everything and all I do is stand here or sit there and do as I’m instructed, moving from point A to point B.  It works out better that way for both of us if he takes the lead. I mean, he’s so GOOD at it, and it reduces my stress level (and his) if he does all the thinking.
But this adventure is all my own.
My son’s dad picked me up a little before 5:45 a.m. to give me a ride to the train station, which is why I was there bright and early at 6:15.
I had many questions for the Amtrak employee:
1. Where do I go?
2. Where will the train be?
3. How will I know it’s the right one?
4. Where will I sit?
5. Where will my son pick me up?
6. Where will I find my suitcase?
7. Will you lose my luggage?
I explained to her that I never travel alone and I’ve only taken the train one time twenty years ago, and that’s when she proceeded to give me a life lesson that I didn’t expect, didn’t ask for, and didn’t really need.
“I never travel alone.”
“Well, you DO travel, don’t you?”
“Yes, but when my husband and I travel, he takes care of everything”
That’s when she said, “It’s never too late to become empowered”
I have to admit her tone was ever-so-slightly snarky, and this was corroborated by the nice young man from the United States Marine Corps (whom I have attached myself to for dear life).
He was standing next to me listening to all of my questions and I believe that he felt sorry for me (reminded him of his mom) and felt like he was performing in the intereste of our national security to guide me on the train when it arrived, and now we’re sitting next to each other.
He’s on leave for Memorial Day to his family ranch in Los Osos.
Of course, I thanked him for his service and I must say that I feel very safe and in good hands until my son collects me from Baggage lol.
Stress level is high, but if I could make my way SOLO to Goettingen, Germany to stalk visit my son while he was there for his junior year abroad, I can certainly sit on a train for four hours with my own personal USMC escort, dontcha think?
After all, like I keep telling my Angel Boy, that umbilical cord will stretch, but will never evereverever BREAK.
There isn’t a place on earth he can go that I won’t follow.
I know that sounds like a threat, but it’s really not. It’s just a mother’s LOVE.
I stand corrected…an EMPOWERED mother’s love.
Here’s a few pics from the train…
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