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.

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.

The Visit: Part Two | Joy

Do you know the definition of pure joy?

Pure joy is when I pick them up from the airport and T first spots me standing next to my car and he starts yelling at the top of this lungs, “I see her! I see GrandmaGrandmaGrandma!” and parents let him run through the crowd outside straight toward me and he throws himself in my arms, almost knocking me over, hugging so tightly it squeezes my heartlight into love energy.

And then comes Angel Girl 2.0, a bit slower but no less affectionate, hanging on to me like a little monkey while Mom and Dad bring up the rear with all the suitcases.

Two enchanted curly haired conveyers of intense happiness; more alive than any two humans I’ve ever known.

That is simply and perfectly PURE JOY. And do you know what else it is? It’s EVERYTHING.

Grateful.

Now for the important stuff…”After you’re buckled in, who wants a muffin or an oatmeal cookie?”

Future Seafarer

Here is the Angel who loves to be on a boat (with a careful grasp of the railing) as they leave Seattle on the way to a new adventure,

Birth

I just called my Angel Boy to wish him Happy Birthday as he was walked HIS Angel Boy to school just like I used to walk HIM to school, holding hands and chatting nonstop the whole way, a full circle moment.

I’m not seeing him today so I didn’t send a lot of gifts because they’ll be here soon and I like the idea of multiple celebration days plus I can bake his favorite strawberry cake roll with homemade ice cream.

Labor and Delivery:

After being in labor all night, I finally entered the stage called transition and it seemed as if things were finally moving along enough for me to push my baby into the world.

At that point, his big fat head got stuck. l tried and tried to push (in agonizing pain) but he wouldn’t budge. I asked the doc to use forceps which he was firmly against for all the right reasons and after a few more attempts, baby’s heart rate slowed.

Between contractions, I remember the doc very kindly tell me there was no other alternative than a C-section, not for my health, but for my precious child’s.

I couldn’t stop crying. This whole experience had turned into a nightmare, not the soft focus natural childbirth fantasy I had wished for, a quiet delivery at home surrounded by my beloved animals welcoming this new human into our family.

I hadn’t prepared myself for any other ending to my story. I had lost all control.

The safety and health of this child I had loved and grown for nine-plus months was paramount. Like I said before, it would never again be all about me.

I remember my mom doing her extremely patient nursey thing with me, but at the same time, she knew more than anyone how every single dip in heart rate was compromising my baby, and I was finally persuaded to have the emergency C-section.

I’ll never forget the feeling of failure as they prepped me and injected the saddle block with the promise that it wouldn’t interfere with nursing, and they were giving me only enough to pull out my still stuck baby. I was awake and could see everything as it happened.

At 9:52 a.m. on March 23, I was finally able to meet my healthy Angel Boy. At 8.5 pounds, it was obvious that he was too big to have been delivered any other way and it’s true that the anesthetic wore off as I was being sutured which was painful on a scale I couldn’t imagine, but I refused additional anesthetic.

I can honestly say that it felt like someone cut out my heart and placed it on my chest. I was born too that day, as a mom.

Like I told him at his 21st birthday party (in front of all of his friends and to his extreme embarrassment) I have loved every single breath he’s taken and that’s 100% true.

Happy Birthday to the original curly haired Angel Boy! (No matter how he got here.)

Beauty in Death | Decay and Decompose

My little angels know how to make Grandma happy. Look what came in the mail, whole and undamaged.

It’s a gigantic, perfectly formed, preserved, and decayed leaf they found in their front yard. It brings me so much joy that the first thing they thought of was that it’s something I would appreciate.

I immediately framed it to admire every day.

March is here, winter shifts to spring, trees are budding and leafing, and it’s important to remember that autumn’s falling leaves were the catalyst to everything new. This leaf died so that more will grow; the inevitable circle of life.

It completely fills out an 8.5 x 11 frame. Isn’t this amazing?

I don’t know why the wall looks yellow cos it’s not.

“I want to go home.”

I had an unsettling dream. I had originally awakened just before six a.m. and thought I’d meditate but I made the mistake of laying my head back down on the pillow and fell asleep for about thirty more minutes.

BIG mistake.

I remember bits and pieces of this dream but am losing the main narrative. Dreams are so ephemeral; they swirl out of my mind like smoke from a bundle of sage. I’m hurrying to write it down before the details disappear forever.

My mom decided she wanted to move to another city. I can’t remember the reason but I went with her. I recall that I was moving away from the angels who lived in the city we were leaving and why I would do that that made absolutely no no sense to me, but I did it anyway. This was weird and out of character behavior because in real life, my mom lived with us here in this house. She wasn’t the type of person to encourage me to abandon my family.

There are decades and lives that are not aligned in reality — my mom died years before there were any angels and I don’t live in the Pacific Northwest like they do, but dreams shapeshift and time travel, so in that regard I guess it all makes sense. Sort of.

On the whole, I like to stay put, I like security, I love the adventure of travel but I also like to have an anchor to bring me back, a safe haven, a sanctuary. I don’t really take risks like packing up all my stuff and moving away forever. For me, there’s no place like home.

Back to the dream…we found a house to rent and I was engrossed in decorating my bedroom in pink and lavender (details!) but I wasn’t happy. I was yearning for HOME. I can’t explain WHY but there were roommates and I stayed in my room because I like solitude. I missed the angels. Oh, my bed was a narrow hospital bed with a handcrank, not sure why; maybe it was already there in the room because I wasn’t sick, not in the dream.

My mom suggested we attend some kind of outdoor activity–I can’t recall if it was a theme park or a street fair or a sports game (things she HATED in real life) but I went with her.

I got lost and separated from her because it was too noisy and I became disoriented. A little boy about T’s age was lost too but he had a better sense of direction than I did and helped us both find the exit where I found my mom waiting for me. I remember thinking that I should escort the little boy to his grownups, but in my dream, he kind of vanished. I guess he was there to help me, not the other way around,

I told her, “I want to go home. I really want to go home. I really need to go home.”

She said “OK” and we immediately started packing to return home.

After that, I woke up with the strongest message in my head, “I want to go home.” As soon as I opened my eyes before I was fully awake, I repeated it out loud to myself.

But I AM home.

I already know there’s no place like home. It’s very special to me.

What was that all about?

Happy Birthday, Mommy

She’d be 107 years old today. I miss her more than she probably ever imagined.

Her legacy endures because Angel Boy 1.0 and DIL named Angel Girl after her. They have photos of her at their home and both children know who she is and how much of an honor it is to be named for her. She’s Daddy’s grandma, Grandma’s mommy.

Since my mom was an absolutely amazing grandma, I try to emulate some of the same things she did with my son; have endless patience with laser focused attention, play with them forEVER, and take each of them solo toy shopping.

“Look what Grandma got me, Mommy! Grandma said I could get ANYTHING I wanted” as my son showed me one Matchbox car, the only thing he chose. (He always was frugal!)

I knew it wasn’t the object that made him happy, it was spending time with Grandma that was fun and special. And important.

Happy Birthday! I wish we all had more time with her, that’s for sure.

Driving around doing errands this morning, I heard one of her favorite songs at least three times, a message for sure! She loved Prince’s When Doves Cry, and so do I.

Angel Boy Chat #323 “I TAUGHT GRANDMA SOMETHING!”

I have a lot of posts in my drafts folder; this sweet little convo took place the last time I saw the Angels.

“Tell me one fun thing you did at kindergarten today, my beautiful boy.”

(Note: I try to never ask questions that will never elicit a yes or no response.)

“I can subitize. Can you, Grandma?”

“What word did you say?”

“SUBITIZE!.” “SUBITIZE!!!” he yells RIGHT in my ear.

[Laughing] “Dude, I can hear you just fine, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that word. Say it again slowly.”

“Subitize.”

“What is that?”

“It’s like this” and he grabs a domino, looks at the amount of dots on it, and says “Eight”.

“Do another one, T.”

“Six.”

“How do you know without counting each one?”

He shrugs his TEENAGER-ISH shoulders, “I dunno, that’s subitize, Grandma.”

OK, well of course I know how to look at a group of items and my brain automatically counts them, but I didn’t know there was an actual word for it, so I learned something from our little kindergartner and he was BEYOND pleased that he could teach me for a change.

“Mommy, I taught Grandma something!” He was so proud of himself for knowing something that I did not.

From that day forward, our game is to say “Subitize me!” so he can quickly subitize sections of tangerines or apple slices or carrot sticks lined up to dip into hummus.

Did you know this word? Am I the only one who didn’t??

Subitizing is the rapid, accurate, and confident judgments of numbers performed for small numbers of items. The term was coined in 1949 by E.L. Kaufman et al., and is derived from the Latin adjective subitus (meaning “sudden”) and captures a feeling of immediately knowing how many items lie within the visual scene, when the number of items present falls within the subitizing range. Sets larger than about four items cannot be subitized unless the items appear in a pattern that the person is familiar with (such as the six dots on one face of a die).(Wiki)