“Do you love me more than a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles?” More brilliant chat with a little human.

“You’re my little Grandma.”

“I know I am. I’m a very small person and now you’re almost as big as I am.”

“Let’s compare hands, little Grandma!”

“OH MY GAWD, Grandma. My hand is almost as big as yours now!”

“I know, T, remember I told you that you are growing and growing every day and I stay the same size?”

“You’re my old little Grandma.”

*Yes, I am. (Lolz.)*

“Grandma, can you carry me?”

“I don’t think I can do that anymore, but let me try. You are so tall and SO heavy. I can pick you up, but I can’t carry you now. Daddy will carry you if you’re tired.”

“Daddy, Grandma cut triangles and hearts and circles and squares and I glued them to a piece of paper. Do you wanna see? Grandma said that’s one of the things I’ll do when I go to Kindergarten.”

“Grandma, did your little boy Daddy do that too? Did he like to glue shapes? Did he like to read? Did he like to watch Sesame Street? My Daddy is your little boy, right, Grandma? But he’s a man so how can he be your little boy? He’s big. My Daddy is so big. He’s bigger than you, little Grandma.”

“If there’s no gravity in space, how did the astronauts not float away when they were on the moon?”

What a great and thoughtful question, T. Let’s research it and find the answer.”

“Grandma? Do you love me more than a chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles?”

“Hmm, that’s a really tough one, buddy. I do love chocolate a LOT. Let me think about it. Well, the answer is yes, I love you more than a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles.”

“Do you love me more than seashells and rocks?”

“Oh NO, that’s going to be so hard. Let me give it some thought.  *Sigh*. You definitely know how much I love seashells and rocks, but I love you so much MORE.”

This went on for the longest time until he was completely assured that I love him more than ANYTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

This brilliant not-so-little-human.

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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. 
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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.

“I swear, Grandma!” More chat with the world’s most brilliant human

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Four going on thirteen. That’s Angel Boy 2.0, or as he likes to be referred to when he’s cooking: “Mr. Ovens”.

I have no idea where he gets that precocious attitude. Well, yes I do, but that’s another story.

Since the pandemic has eliminated all of our in-person visits, T-boy and I have been chatting on the phone a lot, sometimes several times a day.

If he sees my favorite breed of dog walk by his house, he likes to call me and say, “Grandma, I just saw a Border Collie, you love Border Collies, don’t you?”

Or he’ll call and flip the camera around to show me his weather, “It’s supposed to rain today but right now there’s some blue sky and clouds.” “What’s your weather like today at your house, Grandma?”

He likes to call me after dinner when Mom is giving baby a bath and putting her to bed and before his bath and bed routine. Dad is usually working in the garden and I’ll get a call.

“Hello, my special friend! How was your day? ”

“GOOOD. I’m outside with Daddy. You know what, Grandma? I had to call you. I swear. Daddy went on a skateboard and didn’t wear his helmet again. I swear. I told Daddy you want him to wear his helmet but he doesn’t. He wears it on his bicycle but not when he’s skating with me. I wear my helmet, Grandma.”

“Thank you for telling me about Daddy. And I’m so proud of you for making good choices and wearing YOUR helmet. Well done!”

“Thank you.”

“Let me talk to Daddy, OK?”

“OK, Grandma.”

And then I hear…

“Dad? Daddy? Jay? Jas? JASON NATHANIEL!! Grandma wants to talk with you. I told her about the helmet situation.”

It cracks me up every single time I hear T call his daddy by his other names using the same exact inflection that he’s heard. Pretty adorable.

“Oh you did, huh? Hello, Grandma.” Says the original boy who stole my heart so many years ago.

“DADDY, I was just informed that you are still not wearing your helmet when you skate with T. You do not need to be told about traumatic brain injuries, you know all about that. Who will take care of your babies when you are incapacitated?”

“Geez, he’s a tattletale haha. I wear it sometimes.”

“Dad, did you hear what Grandma said?”

“Hey, T, I have an idea. Tell Daddy that I won’t allow him to go surfing the next time you guys come to visit if he doesn’t make good choices and wear his helmet.”

I hear him yelling at the top of his lungs, “DAD! GRANDMA SAID YOU CAN’T GO SURFING IF YOU DON’T WEAR YOUR HELMET!”

Then I hear Dad, “OK, tell Grandma I will.”

“Grandma, did you hear that? Daddy said he would wear his helmet.”

“Awesome job, T. We love Daddy and we want him to be safe just like we want you to be safe, right?”

“Right, Grandma. Hey, look at me jump! Grandma, I can jump so high! Grandma, did you send me a box of presents? Did you send The Borrowers Aloft?”

“I did, you’ll get the box in a couple of days.”

“DAD!!! JAY!!! I swear, I told you Grandma sent the second Borrower’s book! I knew she did. I told you not to buy it, I remember Grandma said she was going to send it.”

“OK Grandma, I’m going to go now. I’m going to have a bath. High five, Grandma.”

He likes to “high five” the phone.

“Bye, T. I love you.”

“Bye Grandma, love you, too. I’m going to hit the red button now.”

And he’s gone.

 

 

 

My experience as the virtual grandma at Passover dinner during a pandemic

Wednesday marked the first night of Passover 2020.

Although my grandfather was a rabbi and we used to observe most of the Jewish religious dates, it was much more for the fun than any strict adherence to dogma.

Hanukkah was the fave cos of all the prezzies of course, and Sukkot is cool cos it was a gathering of the harvest, and Passover/Pesach was chock full of symbolism and the time for the youngest member of the family (usually me) to have center stage reciting the Four Questions to explain what Passover is all about. (see below)

How is this night different from all other nights? This is one year none of us will ever forget.

Growing up, my son wasn’t too interested in anything Jewish, probably because we don’t live in a Jewish community and the lure of beach and ocean and skateboarding was more important, so I didn’t really push religion on him because in all honesty, I don’t really care.

For me, seeing a butterfly or growing and eating our own fruit and veggies is equally as spiritual or more so than being forced to sit in a smelly synagogue and recite endless words.

However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my son and DIL’s interest in dipping their toes (along with Angel Boy 2.0’s) into the ritual and symbolism of certain Jewish holidays.

For instance, last night we all gathered together to celebrate Passover dinner. Since they are physically located in the Pacific Northwest and I’m here in SoCal and we obviously can’t be together right now because of the pandemic restrictions, I was able to be included via FaceTime, which was actually pretty awesome. I think the original Charlotte would approve.

Keepin’ it real, they set a place for Elijah, upon which my grandson placed a very realistic looking furry fake rat. Yup, he’s his daddy’s boy for sure. He had grape juice instead of wine, and if the way he drank it and kept refilling his glass is any indication of future behavior, well, ’nuff said.

I still have the Four Questions memorized, tucked away somewhere up in my gray matter, so I helped with the pronunciation, while my son read the story of Passover and they followed the rules of eating the symbolic foods on the Sedar Plate.

Angel Boy 2.0 ran off to find the afikomen (a piece broken off from a matzo during a Seder and put aside to be eaten at the end of the meal. (It’s traditionally hidden during the Seder to be searched for by the children.)  There’s a really funny Curb Your Enthusiasm episode about a Passover dinner, not sure what season, but it’s on Amazon Prime.

It ended with latkes and matzo ball soup (for them) and tofu for me. There’s always a silver lining and always a rainbow after a storm, if you keep your eyes open.

Here’s some info about Passover:
The story about the origin of Passover is also the story of the life of Moses. For a time, the Israelites lived in peace and prosperity amongst the Egyptians until a new Pharaoh saw them as a threat to his power. He enslaved them and ordered all their sons to be killed at birth to prevent a new leader from arising.

According to the story, one mother was able to conceal the birth of her son, Moses. When she could no longer hide him, she hid him amongst the bulrushes. The Pharaoh’s daughter noticed the baby and decided to adopt him. She sent Moses’ sister to find an Israelite woman to nurse him, so he was reunited with his mother. When Moses was older, he moved into the palace where the Pharaoh’s daughter raised him as her own son.

As a young man, Moses noticed the suffering of the Israelites and his actions in retaliation forced him to leave Egypt to become a shepherd. God appeared to Moses one day in the form of a burning bush and commanded him to return to Egypt to lead his people into freedom with the help of his brother Aaron. Although Moses and Aaron repeatedly begged the Pharaoh to free the children of Israel, they were not successful. As punishment, God inflicted 10 plagues on the Egyptians. After the 10th plague, in which all first-born children of the Egyptians died, the Pharaoh agreed to free all Israelites and to allow them to leave Egypt with their possessions. As they had to leave in a hurry, they did not have time to allow bread to rise, so they baked unleavened bread, known as matzoh (plural matzah), for the journey.

Many aspects of Passover have a symbolic meaning. Cleaning the house to remove chametz, using a candle, a feather, a wooden spoon, and a paper bag, symbolizes the removal of egotism and spiritual coarseness from life. The matzoh represents the haste in which the Israelites left Egypt, and the red wine or grape juice represents the blood of sacrifices and male circumcision. Special kitchen utensils and the Seder Plates are used in the special Passover meals.

The Seder Plate consists of 3 matzoh piled on top of each other on a plate or clean cloth, which are then covered with another plate or cloth. Next, small pieces of symbolic foods are then placed on top. The foods are: zeroa , a roasted shank bone or chicken neck; beitzah, a hard boiled egg; maror, freshly grated horseradish or the stalks of romaine lettuce; charoset, a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, and wine; karpas, a non-bitter vegetable, such as an onion or a boiled potato; and chazeret, more horseradish or romaine lettuce. A dish of salt water and wine accompanies the Seder Plate. Each item on the plate represent a different aspect of the Passover story and they are eaten in a particular order and in specific combinations during the ceremonial meal. From https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/jewish/first-day-of-passover

The Four Questions:

?מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת
Ma nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?
Why is this night different from all other nights?

1st Question:

.שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה – כֻּלּוֹ מַצָּה
Shebchol haleilot anu okhlin hametz umatzah; halailah hazeh, kuloh matzah.
On all other nights we eat leavened products and matzah, and on this night only matzah.

2nd Question:

.שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת – הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה (כֻּלּוֹ) מָרוֹר
Shebchol haleilot anu okhlin sh’ar y’rakot; halailah hazeh, maror.
On all other nights we eat all vegetables, and on this night only bitter herbs.

3rd Question:

.שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אָנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּעַם אֶחָת – הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים
Shebkhol haleilot ein anu matbilin afilu pa’am ehat; halailah hazeh, shtei f’amim.
On all other nights, we don’t dip our food even once, and on this night we dip twice.

4th Question:

.שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין – הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָּנוּ מְסֻבִּין
Shebchol haleilot anu okhlin bein yoshvin uvein m’subin; halailah hazeh, kulanu m’subin.
On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, and on this night we only recline.

https://www.kveller.com/article/the-four-questions/

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More chat with my brilliant human…”You love coyote poo, don’t you, Grandma?”

“You love coyote poo, don’t you, Grandma?”

Those words warm every part of my heart.

“Yes, I do, Angel Boy! I love it so much when I see coyote poo on a hiking trail. It makes me very happy. Sometimes animal poo is called scat [spelling it for him], S-C-A-T.”

“I love coyotes too, Grandma. I’m just like you.”

“You love love planting in the garden, don’t you, Grandma?”

“I do very much, you’re right!”

“I love to garden too, I help Daddy in our garden at home.”

“I know you do, buddy. You’re a big helper.”

“You love your bunny slippers, don’t you, Grandma?”

“Yes, they are my 100% favorites.”

“I love them, too, Grandma. See, I’m wearing your bunnies! My feet are as big as yours.”

“We are a lot alike, aren’t we? We like many of the same things and that is so cool.”

“Do you love Spiderman, Grandma?”

“Well, I can say that I LIKE him, but I don’t really love him.”

Jumping up and down while showing me his new Spiderman…”I do, I do, I do. I love love love Spiderman.”

“Sometimes we can like different things and that’s OK, too, because you are your own person and so am I, right, T-man?”

“I can’t wait to see you, Grandma.”

“See, now we’re exactly the same. I can’t wait to see you, too!”

“Can I push the red button now, Daddy?”

And then, just like that, he’s gone.

Our light, bright vision of magic.

Move over, Princess Rosebud; there’s a new princess in town!

Welcome to the world, Princess Charlotte!

August 26, 2019!

Eight pounds, seven ounces of perfection.

She was named after my wonderful mommy. What an amazing honor!

I can only imagine how happy she is up there in heaven or wherever her free spirit has taken her. She died when the original Angel Boy, was only about seven years old, so she never was lucky enough to see him get his PhD or get married or be the best daddy ever to Angel Boy 2.0.

Check out these photos of Theo and Charlotte 3.5 years apart. They look like twins! That’s strong DNA for sure.

So far, her only accomplishments are eating and sleeping. Big brother looks intrigued…

What do you wanna bet she’ll have curly hair?

#Thankful #Grateful #Love #Family

Taking a minute to breathe before heading to the airport to claim Angel Boy 2.0. I suppose I’ll have to tote my son and DIL home too, as 20 month Theo is still too young to fly to me by himself, but they don’t really matter. HAHA. No really. They.Do.Not.Matter.

For all the years that my laser focus was directed at the original Angel Boy, I bet if he had known that the way stop me from being a drone and hovering and helicoptering was simply to procreate, he might have done it YEARS AGO.

While I sense a slight, very slight wistfulness in his voice sometimes because it’s ALL ABOUT THEO, I know he’s very proud of his accomplishment in whatever part he played in the creation of Theodore. Just to see him play with Theo brings tears to my eyes.

Did you know that AB named Theo? Years ago, he shared an experience with his best friend in Greece where they were climbing Mt. Olympus and didn’t realize how very far it was to go up and then down, a miscalculation on the part of those (then) undergrads.

I don’t remember all the details, but just as they were near exhaustion, out of nowhere, a truck appeared, stopped, and the driver took pity on them and drove them to the bottom.

As they thanked him profusely, my son asked his name. In broken English, he said he was called Theodore, which means “god’s gift”.

Apparently, that kindness stayed with my son all these years, and that’s how Theo came to be.

My break is over. I’ve already made the stuffing, apple and pumpkin pies, kugel, and fresh cranberry sauce, filled the wading pool with water, and set up a little sandbox. I wanted to get as much done as possible in advance to have more playtime for me and Mr. T, and since I make everything from scratch, it helps to prep early.

It’s going to be record breaking heat today in the 80s at the beach.

Time to go to the airport!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and I’m sure you can figure out what I’m grateful for.

Home really is where the heart is today for sure!

Death. SO VERY BIG.

 


Before I was Princess Rosebud and Rowdy Rosie, I was a little girl who loved to dance in pink tutus and satin toe shoes.

A sweet and innocent little girl who was very gentle and sorta clueless about life.

Who loved animals (especially wolves and coyotes and foxes and mountain lions and bobcats) but all animals really.

Who never had to face life’s seriously sucky tribulations, cos life was pretty good most of the time.

Especially when there were seashells to pick off a sandy beach. Or someone thought about me and brought home a handful of seashells from one of their vacations.

Seashells make me happy. Butterflies make me happy, too, but that’s a different story.

This is about death. DEATH. Not a metamorphosis.

D.E.A.T.H.

Death is pretty final in a lot of ways. I mean in this plane, on this Earth, when someone dies, stops breathing, heart stops beating…well, that’s pretty final.

Why do some deaths hit us harder than others?

Randomly searching for something on the internet, I discovered that a friend and business associate I hadn’t seen in a long time had died of cancer five months ago, right around my birthday.

I didn’t know. No one told me. How did this happen, that I didn’t know?

The death and the not knowing shocked me, rocked me to my core. I was sobbing. Not him, I thought. Not him. Good men like that should live to be one-hundred-years at least.

(I could tell you how it happened that I didn’t know, I could elucidate, fill you in on all the deets, but then the story would be all about me and not a way, however small, to honor this fine, fine man.)

I heard him say this one thing a thousand times, “Hey guys, here’s just another rusty brain idea I’d like to run by you.”

He was one of those true-blue, honorable, faithful, simply noble, ethical, principled, reliable, honest, trustworthy, dependable, SALT OF THE EARTH men.

They don’t make them like that any more. Trust me on that. It’s really so simple, when you think about it. Not a difficult way to live one’s life if you know what’s really important.

All men (and women) should aspire to conduct their lives to that standard. A decent man with character and a deep commitment to his wife and family.

A never-give-up kind of man. The very definition of what a man should be.

If you needed anything, Steve was there. Especially if there was food involved. Oh yes, Steve loved to eat, that’s for sure.

I sent his wife a letter expressing my sorrow for her loss and apologized for not knowing and not attending his memorial service.

She wrote back almost immediately.

True to form, he never told anyone of his battle with cancer. Thinking back, I remember he was always showing up with bandages all over his face and head from skin cancer surgeries, but he brushed aside all questions about his health. The cancer spread and though it was quite painful, he never complained.

One day he collapsed and died in his wife’s arms, the only place that was ever really home to him.

I honor you, Steve, and I will miss you forever. More than you could know. This is a big loss, a big death, and my heart goes out to your lovely family.

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A Little Name Change

Although I thought Princess Rosebud just about said it all; aspiration as well as inspiration, I’ve been renamed.

For most of my life, the most wonderful way to get my attention was to hear my son call out “MOM or Mommy!” and I’d immediately stop what I was doing and give my 100% laser-focused attention to Angel Boy.

I never thought I’d become an obnoxious grandmother; it’s a huge surprise to me, but I confess that I’m REALLY obnoxious. I show pics of Theo to friends at the gym and complete strangers. He’s the most amazing child in the world. HE IS, I promise you.

But now things are different. I still love to hear my son refer to me as Mom, but it doesn’t touch my heart the way it does when Theo, Angel Boy 2.0, wants his  “AmmahAmmah”.

It’s the most beautiful sound in all the land, along with the song of the coyote and the howl of a wolf.

Theo first named me “Gammma” and it’s morphed into “AmmhaAmmah”, which sounds cool and hip and a for sure guarantee that he will forever and ever get every single toy that he will ever want.

ammatheoThose eyes, that hair, oh yes, he’s my heart of hearts.

What do your grandkids call you?

 

Walking away…The bittersweetness of it.

Nothing stays the same.

Children grow.

No matter how much you want them to remain babies that simply smile, sleep, poop, and eat, children don’t stay that way forever.

As soon as they begin to move, to crawl, to walk; the rest of their life seems to be dedicated to moving AWAY from us.

I visited sweet Angel Boy 2.0 recently and my overall observation was of his back, moving TOWARD what caught his eye, what intrigued him, and what was the next obstacle to surmount.

No longer a baby, AB 2.0 walks and runs everywhere; his autonomy and confidence is a magnificent thing to behold, albeit a bit scary, too.

He’s fearless, this amazing boy of my boy.

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Contemplating a sea of possibilities

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His confident and empowered stride

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The world is endlessly fascinating

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A boy and his balloon

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The magic of salmon

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My two boys, Angel 1.0 and 2.0