Julie’s Journal

“We ache to touch intimately what is real” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer


 
 

WELCOME ALL!

  

This is where I shall begin a new adventure… letting light pour through those windows that have remained tightly shut for what seems like endless days and nights. Okay! Perhaps said with a bit too much melodrama … but the prospect of all that fresh air fills me with great expectations.

Lucky you!

All who find me here shall be eyes to read and ears to “hear” the words I hope to share…… be they letters, essays, poems, mere ramblings….. perhaps a recipe or two… thoughts on my journey from mother to nana….. to my passion for fashion and design…oh, and cooking too.

A recent book purchase of mine contained the following vignette….”This is a space for dream words, love words, made up words, flying words, fall down and get up words. Get to know the sound of your own inner voice. Be creative! Be generous! Be bold!”

I’m excited!

And, just for clarification … I’m the “young one” up there in the arms of my mother.

 

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In awe even at age one!

In awe… even at age one!    


And, speaking of young ones…. My first born darlin’ Amy stands alone before the mighty waves at the tender age of one and seems to understand her Mother’s love for the beauty of Oregon’s coastline. (1973)

Sisters behold the mighty waves

Hand in hand… sisters stand at water’s edge


And then there were two… Amy and Allison at about ages 4 and 2 stand in “awe” of the surf and sand…with pails in hand, ready to build their sand castles. How we all loved the Oregon Coast. Year after year we returned time and again to play, to walk, and just be happy! (1976)

Mom and Me…..

Mom and Me.....

I know a woman of strength and beauty
I watched her for years.
She is my mother

This picture is almost ancient history by now, as mom has been gone for over a decade and I’ve become a grandmother seven times over during those ten years. As wonderful a mother as she was however……. if possible, she was even better at being a grandmother and she is and always will be my shining star to follow as I strive to be a loving Nana to the seven beautiful children of my wonderful “threesome.”

Mom could remember and tell the best stories about all her grandchildren and I would cajole and downright beg her to record them in some fashion. I gave her notebooks galore and even a tape recorder but alas…. no written or oral record was ever made of her wonderful stories and memories. In thinking about my pleas to her, it occurred to me that I should do what I so wanted of her. Hence this amazing format for me to begin my journey. I shall call it a journal since the word blog is just plain harsh and even ugly to see and hear…… wouldn’t you agree?

Please keep in mind dear readers that there is no ‘rhyme or reason’ to my postings. If blogs could be arranged in chronological order then so would my journal but, since that’s not the case, it will seem like I’m jumping all over the place….memory to memory and picture to picture. Come to think of it…perhaps that will make it more interesting. After all, it is sort of the zigzag nature of how our mind works.

With that said… I begin with a poem

 
 

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Re-Arranged

 

She’d laugh and say…
“Indulge me please this one idiosyncrisy.”

Do you remember, Stacey?

How often did we arrive home from school to find
the sofa had traded places with a chair
and the chair with a table?

As for the table….well it had completely disappeared.

“How many ways can this room be re-arranged?” we’d wonder aloud.

Mom’s vision was limitless.

~ julie © may 2012

 

How true! How true! Stacey and I were constantly amazed and surprised, mother, by your ability, strength and passion for finding just the right arrangement for any room. This propensity lasted well into your retirement years and was passed on to both Stacey and I. The better part of my morning was gloriously spent re-arranging….. maybe not the furniture but a newly framed picture just had to find its’ place among all the others. Great fun! Thanks Mom for the gene that won’t let “things” remain the same for too too long.

Your daughter, Julie

 

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Content on our home's front porch.... Stacey in my lap (I loved being her second care-giver)

Pure contentment sitting on our homes’ front porch…. Stacey in my lap. I loved being her secondary care-giver.(1955)

 

With a ten year age difference between us, my sister and I have struggled to find ourselves ever in similar enough circumstances that we could maintain a real friendship and sisterhood. Seems our footprints have always been on different paths at different times. We joke that perhaps the day will come when we can slow down and catch-up to the relaltionship that we’d like to have together. Our mother was ten years younger than our favorite aunt and, in their later years, they finally formed the sisterhood that awaited them. So perhaps…. the same will happen between Stacey and I. We’ll be able to ‘re-arrange’ the stuff of life long enough to spend more time together.

BRAVO! Minnestrone

“I make a darn good minestrone myself.” She says to me, as I’m about to serve her a dinner of my own version of this Italian classic.

“Yikes! No pressure here!” I’m thinking to myself but wouldn’t dare say out loud.

Mind you… I know that my recipe for minestrone is about as good as it gets but intimidation, nevertheless, settled in.

My dear cousin Dinah was in town and sitting at my table with her mother, my Aunt Agnes, for dinner that night. The “someone in the kitchen with Dinah” that evening was me. Dinah was here from California on her annual visit to see family and play catch up. Dinah and I grew up making many special memories of times together, especially with our mothers who took us on one outing after another.

Times at the beach, play times in our homes, taking the bus downtown to have lunch at the Rhodes department store, times at holidays and even a trip or two together. Dinah had a stream in her backyard with a downward sloped yard on one side and a slight hill on the other. We crossed that stream countless times to climb the slight hill and spend many an hour under the shade of willow trees with our dolls, tea parties and pure imagination.

And then there were the wonderful summers, as young wives and mothers, that we spent with our own children at the same beaches and backyards where new memories were made. To say there is history is an understatement.

Now… somewhere along this history, Dinah married Jer who is Italian through and through. So when she tells me how good her minestrone soup is… I’m thinking that I have just made a huge mistake in serving up soup for dinner that night.

Flashback:

Shortly after my marriage in 1970 and the birth of my first child in 1972, the crock pot made a spectacular appearance on the cooking playfield. I’d never heard of it and thought it was a new invention at the time. Turns out it was invented back in the early forties and finally manufactured and sold in the early fifties with the name Naxon Beanery. When the inventor retired, he sold the company to Rival and the Beanery was re-named, re-merchandised and the crockpot was born. My mother never had one of these “beanery” things or I would have remembered this method of cooking.

As a consequence, I was thrilled with the prospect of putting food into a pot in the morning and having dinner ready at night. After all, I was all consumed with the care of a new baby and then a growing toddler and then, barely two years later, another pregnancy. Whatever I could put into that pot was a welcome respite from cooking dinner every night.

Recipes for crockpot cooking were appearing everywhere, including in the cooking section of our own local paper. There it was! The best (BRAVO) minestrone soup. Of course, I didn’t know that… until making it for the first time and getting thanks for such a good meal with the proclamation that “we should have this dinner once a week.” High praise indeed!

Now back to Dinah in my kitchen.

With no other recourse but to serve up my soup and have it stand up against Dinah’s recipe, I sat down at the table and awaited her review of mine versus hers.

She took a spoonful and…

“Oh yes!” she sighs with resignation. “This is better.”

“Glad you like it.” was my simple reply. I must admit that, inwardly, I smiled.

So… that recipe has been around over forty years now. It’s a great comfort food for the beginning of fall…. full of fresh vegetables, pasta and parmesan. I still make it for company and always get asked for the recipe. I have shared its goodness with many.

In case you are curious, I shall share it once again.

While I don’t presume that this is a cooking blog, it seems that I get quite a response when I post anything about food. Even new followers with cooking blogs of their own make me think that I should re-assess.

Yet no! I started out with a purpose of story telling about family memories and will stick to my purpose.

However, memories of good times do often happen around good meals and good food.

Anyone remember the harvest gold and avocado green of the 70’s? It was during this initial boom that Robert and Shirley Hunter received their own avocado-toned Crock Pot as a gift. Now on display at the National Museum of American History.

Wonder whatever happened to my first Rival crockpot. More likely at the Goodwill rather than a museum. Alas!

After an awkward and difficult adjustment to the daily scary trek I made on foot to John B. Allen grade school in kindergarten and first grade, I was finally comfortable to the point of almost being happy in second grade with Miss Lofgren… a teacher I adored. We were about to enter the spring of the year and close to “graduation” into third grade when my parents announced that a new house was in our near future and we would be moving within a couple weeks to a new neighborhood and a new school and a new teacher.

My heart sank and terror filled it to the brim.

My poor mother. It had not been easy to send her first born off to school and, when at last, the transition was finally on a less stressful path …here comes another bump in the road.

While the walk to Olympic View Elementary was much shorter than my walk to John B. Allen, Mom and I.. with toddler brother in hand… made it that “first day” in late March with fear and trepidation written all over our faces. Brother Jim was oblivious to the agony of us both. Me having to face the fear of a new classroom and classmates and teacher all by myself. Mom fearing what my reaction might be and would she have to go through the agony of my fears of separation all over again.

She sat me on a bench in the outer waiting room of the school’s main office while she went in to register me with the powers that be. There was an open door to a classroom near my bench and I could hear the teacher giving instruction to the class, then reading a story and then I caught a glimpse of her through the door. Besides being very pretty, she sounded kind and warm and I sensed an immediate connection between her and the classroom….. and me.

‘I want her to be my teacher’… I remember thinking to myself.

Her name was Mrs. West. I will never forget her or the happy moment that I found out she was to be my second grade teacher for the rest of that year. How often does that happen in life? On the spot, just after making said wish, it comes true. Mrs. West entered my life and helped me through the rest of my second grade and the awkward transition to a new school.

Be patient and hang in with me. I’m getting to the infamous hamburger hot dish…. the subject of this post.

My third grade sailed by with Mrs. Carlson. The highlight being our teacher’s heritage, as she was from England and still hanging onto a slight accent. Being a “brit” through and through, imagine her excitement at the coronation of a new queen near the end of my third grade year. Mrs. Carlson somehow managed to get permission for a field trip to the home of one of our classmates in order for her class to watch the coronation on TV.

This was, of course, way before live TV but, none the less, it was exciting to see and Mrs. Carlson was all a ‘twitter.’ Correction! While we in the United States couldn’t see it live, as this was way before satellites, it was able to be seen live in several countries in Europe. The BBC was creating the first television event of international proportions. So Mrs. Carlson’s classroom was seeing it several days after the June 2nd event and on kinescope (a film recording of a television broadcast.)

I was nine years old at the time and the queen was 27 when coronated. Think of that and let it sink in. The queen is still queen… I am now 76 and she is now 94. She has been the queen of England during most of my entire life. Amazing!

Okay! Back to hamburger. And, onto the fourth grade. While I was moving up the grade school ladder so was Mrs West. To my delight, we met again and she was my teacher for all the year of fourth grade.

Towards the end of the year, we celebrated with a family picnic in a nearby park. Not just your picnic lunch. Oh no! Every family brought salads, hot dishes, desserts. You know…your basic potluck. Mrs. West’s contribution was about to become historic in our family as my mother loved her hamburger hot dish from the first taste. Mom asked for and received the recipe and the rest is history. It has been in the family for decades and generations. I made it again just the other night. Every time I do… I think of Mrs. West, her kind influence on my life and that family potluck. Over the years, the recipe has been modified by many, including me. My Aunt Aline added melted cheese over the top just at the “almost done” point of the hot dish. Sometimes I add the kidney beans and sometimes I don’t. The recipe works great either way.

For Mrs. West’s hot dish:

Brown one 1lb hamburger with one cup chopped yellow onion until meat is no longer pink. Add one 16oz can of diced tomatoes, one 16oz can of red kidney beans (undrained) and 3/4 cup of seashell macaroni pasta. Simmer until pasta is cooked. Can be topped with grated cheddar cheese at the end of cooking til it just melts.

This recipe can be changed out a lot by the kind of diced tomatoes you use. I often need to add more liquid and use V8 juice. Play it by ear and taste…. to satisfy your taste buds.

Guess it just wouldn’t be a family blog without that recipe ’cause that hamburger dish really is a member of the family.

What is Christmas?

Has there ever been a year more appropriate for the wise words of Ms.Pahro? Turns out her quote is quite famous and has been used in cards, calendars and the like for many decades. I just happened upon it for the first time in December’s issue of Victoria magazine and was immediately struck by its poignant meaning in this challenging and difficult year of 2020. I’d been searching for a way to express a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and there it was on the pages of my favorite magazine.

I seem to be looking heavenward….wonder what I was thinking…’cause I know what I am thinking this year as I look heavenward.

Funny how something so obviously simple and easy and effective has become almost courageous in the wearing of it. This pic of my dear friend Shelly and her beautiful family wearing their holiday masks speaks a volume. And yes…. the determination, endurance and strength of our health care workers, our essential workers, our families and our everyday neighbors and friends, all who wear masks, is the symbol of courage for this year of 2020.

How much I’ve missed you, dear Shelly.

So this is my Christmas postcard for the year 2020. I write and send it to all with offerings of hope and love for the coming new year. We shall get through this together.

Julie

A Clumsy Soffit

For almost twenty years now, I have been suffering from the pain of a clumsy soffit. Well, actually… more than one soffit with multiple pain. The builder blames the lighting expert and the lighting expert blames the builder….. which left me in the middle. On the walls of five rooms in my home, the switches to turn on these soffit lights remain quietly off. Rarely do they see the ‘light of day.’

Now all who know me…. know that, when it comes to decorating, I don’t do much in an understated way. I’m not gaudy…but, rather, an enthusiastic story teller. So, instead of giving just one room special ambiance with soffit lighting, my thinking was that if one is good then five would be better. You can only imagine the depth of my disappointment. Guess my propensity to be impulsive means that I don’t think before I leap. I just go for it and sometimes it works out great and then sometimes you get a clumsy soffit.

Soffit…. underside of any construction element

A soffit is simply a portion of the ceiling that has been built lower than the area around it.

According to the lighting expert, my soffits were not built low enough from the ceiling nor do they have depth enough to camouflage the lighting that lives within them. They are intended to look soft and romantic as opposed to the lighting that directs your pathway down the aisle of a theater with noticeable gaps between each light. Said lighting expert claims that he was very specific with the builder on the day he came to the building site and is not responsible for the builder’s mistake.

Said builder claims that he followed exactly what lighting expert told him to do and that I was there to bare witness which I probably was but didn’t understand a lot of what they were talking about, as I was counting on their expertise. Lesson learned…. get yourself educated on what you want done for any project, as you can’t be too well informed.

Needless to say, a deep disappoint for me and one that, even after nineteen years, I am not reconciled with. Never will be reconciled! The lighting that ‘spoke to me’ in all those catalogues which I poured over before building this home is not mine. There has been progress in the lighting industry that might solve this problem for me but, so far, the expense outweighs the solution.

So… just what is all this rambling on about my disappointing soffits doing on a family blog? I’ve no recollection of when or where or why I came upon that quote by the architect but it captured my imagination and spoke volumes to me and I thought how clever… to be a clumsy soffit. Not an adjective that I would have ever thought of for a soffit. Then it dawned on me that I live with just such a clumsy soffit… well five of them to be exact and, perhaps, that would be a great title for a new post. That title has been in the now infamous draft folder for several years. Time to elaborate!

And no… lacquer is not the solution because the soffit problem is lighting not finish. All of these soffits have been beautifully painted by my dear friend, Betty, who is a genius at faux finish. Thank goodness for that ’cause they do add depth and interest to each and every room. When it turns to dark and I want the light, therein lies the rub or therein lies the disappointment.

And, believe it or not, there actually is a family memory surrounding these soffits of mine. It involves a certain long Sunday day work party where family and friends gathered together at the building site just a month before move-in, sat around on the floor and tediously attached light bulbs to a rope like cord. When the builder showed me the actual nature of this lighting for my soffits, he pointed out that the installation of these bulbs on the “rope” would be very time consuming and tedious and would, at an electrician’s hourly rate, cost me a bundle.

I put out the word “help” and, sure enough, I was rescued. There was lots of laughter and camaraderie in the master bedroom that day, as we chose that as our base of operation. Boxes of bulbs and lots of rope were mingled that day in January. Think we ordered pizza for all. Made a game of who could get the most bulbs installed in the shortest amount of time. Talked and laughed and were excited and proud that my two daughters were expecting at the same time and my first grandchildren were coming later that year. Best friends and part of the family, Georgie and Roger, sat on the floor and joined in the circle, making it complete with their presence.

That memory is still alive today and I know it adds to the disappointment that my excited expectations for this soffit lighting did not live up to anything that I had hoped they would. All that time and effort for nothing. Well…not nothing as that work day resides in my happy zone.

My hopes are not completely dashed, as I still await lighting progress with more reasonable pricing. When they appear on the scene I will start in one room at a time and make happen the lighting that spoke to me in my favorite magazines. That’ll be the day!!

Hope springs….well, you know the rest.

she was a mighty fine lady…

We lost this dear kitty just four years ago. Adopted from a shelter, she filled the heart and gave us joy.

Neil wrote the poem. I put the picture and poem together and then never set it free. Why I wonder. Guess I meant to write some long post about the loss of a pet.

We all know the loss of a pet so time to let go and publish Neil’s poem. Sadie was special, as is every pet in the life of its owner. She remains in our thoughts and, most especially, in the heart of us.

sadie-lady

love loves difficult things

the answer to joy is life

the answer to sadness is being

the answer to promise is spirit

the answer to pain is love

 

for Sadie, 2016 november

~ neil reid

There’s an emptiness in our hearts. We love and miss you dear baby kitty.

MOM

Hi Mom,

This found picture of you takes my breath away. You posed for this pic long before we met.

I think Stacey might have put it on Facebook and I borrowed it for the blog because I have no recollection of ever seeing this before. As such, I have no story to tell. Only questions to ask which, of course, you can no longer answer for me.

Was this a high school graduation picture? I know you did some modeling before marriage and motherhood and so I wonder if this was part of a portfolio for that time in your life.

While in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, my curiosity is still there and it’s frustrating to have unanswered questions. There are many. How I wish you were sitting across the table from me now and we could talk.

Even something so simple as why you picked the name Julie for me. I never asked and I would love to have that answer now. My middle name Beret… that I do know came from my grandmother. After years of disdain, I’ve finally come to peace and acceptance. Took a while though for me to actually like that Scandanavian name.

I was ten when Stacey was born and I remember so clearly going through the naming process with you as we went through books and books of names and their derivation. Right up to a couple of weeks before she was born, we had settled on the name Jackie which I thought everyone in the family liked. Then one night you were watching a TV program and when the credits rolled… one of the actors was named Stacey. It sparked your imagination and the rest is history.

Where did Julie come from?

I miss you dear mother of mine. What I wouldn’t give for one more visit to Sky Nursery for lunch and a new plant. It’s Christmas time here and that tradition remains in our family. Just not this year, as we are suffering from a profound crisis in health. We have been through so much and now have hope that a new vaccine will get us out of this fear and dread but it will take a long while into the new year before this ends.

When I count the years and think about it.. you were just an infant and toddler during the Spanish Flu pandemic. You must have heard stories from your parents about the stress and worry during those two years. Another question goes unanswered.

Dear children and grandchildren of mine… any questions? Now is the time to get them answered.

So Mom…there is barely a day that goes by when I don’t think of you and all those years of having you in my life. Just hasn’t been the same without you.

Love,
Julie

If Betty Davis says so….

This poster hangs above the exam table of a doctor with an insightful sense of humor. When prone… look up into the eyes of Betty Davis and VOILA!

“Right on, Betty. Couldn’t have said it better myself.”

Not that her attempt at humorous, poignant wisdom hasn’t been echoed by many. I remember, for one, how often I heard Joan Rivers say…”don’t let anyone fool you, getting old just sucks.”

For all you neophytes out there wondering just who the heck are Betty Davis and Joan Rivers…an academy award winning actress and a comedienne extraordinaire! Both old when they muttered their words of wisdom. More detail than that and I’d be boring you silly so, if interested, you’ll have to google.

So why am I pursuing this line of thought…. ’cause the last thing I want to do is complain on and on about all the aches and pains of getting older…’cause right now I’m not quite ready to admit that I’m in the “old” category. Just older will do. What’s the difference you ask? I guess old is a mindset that I’ve seen in so many.

While the body screams old age, the head and heart are still thinking I’m not “old.” Thank goodness there are many in my life who validate my thinking. When I remind them that my birthday years say I’m 76, they look dumbfounded and tell me “I never think of you that way.” Like… what way is that? I take that to mean that they think of me more as friend, confidant and contemporary. I’ll take it!! That’s why I like having them around.

I’m also not going to get all ‘flowery’ about how wonderful it is to age and have wisdom galore … blah blah blah!

Although I must say that when asked if I’d go back to a certain age and begin again… my answer, even though impossible, is that if I could go back with the wisdom that I’ve gained through the years… then yes! Of course I’d go back! Since that isn’t going to happen, I’ve got to make do with the hand I’ve been dealt as of now.

Where am I going? This post didn’t have a plan so here I am floundering. Gonna take a break and see if I can’t find some thread to follow.

Maybe I just got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Guess I gotta be glad I got up!

I’m back! Yippee! I found the thread and it sews into the cutest story of me and my grandson almost fifteen years ago when I really wasn’t old but, in his eyes…. I was.


Here he is looking all cute and innocent. Mr Ethan Jack!! Said grandson about which Nana is going to reveal all. Well…not all! Maybe just one precious moment that made me laugh and cry and has stayed with me for all these years. After all, that’s what this blog is all about. Stories and memories to preserve for all of you.
 
 
 
 

So… picture us one quiet afternoon seated upon the sofa. Correction: I was seated upon the sofa. You were standing on the sofa so as to be more eye to eye with me, as we were discussing important world things that day… you know, stuff like what you wanted for lunch, what game we might play next, and should we take a walk after lunch or read a story. You were only three or four at the time and these were really important decisions to be made.

I was visiting your Green Lake home… remember that house? Remember that street? Remember all those neighbors? I mention neighbors because there was an elderly couple living right next door to you. Seems like I remember meeting them over the fence of your backyard one day. Is that the neighbor who paid you and Adam to collect snails in a bucket so as to rid the yard of those pests?

I think you were rather fond of this couple, as I know they were of you, so you expressed sadness when you told me that the gentleman had died earlier that week. Your mom had told me about John’s death and I wasn’t quite sure if you had grasped the concept of what dying really meant so I was hesitant about what to say next. But you saved the day from such seriousness by, after thinking about it, offering the consoling explanation that he was… “really old.”

LONG PAUSE….

“Like you,Nana.”

Gulp! I put on a happy face, as you had just stabbed me in the heart, and accepted your reasoning that old age equates with death. After all, John had lived a long and fulfilling life or so it seemed.

We had PB&J for lunch (big surprise) and I read a story to you that afternoon. No worries… there was a smile on my face all the way home that afternoon and I still smile or chuckle out loud when I think of that day and your wise countenance.

I don’t know, Garfield, maybe getting older has a perk or two after all.

While opening a can of jumbo olives for our intimate Thanksgiving dinner for two last month, a house on Thackery Place came flooding back into memory, along with memories of a certain Thanksgiving from long ago.

Olives make great finger puppets. Did you know that? Have you ever eaten finger puppets made from olives?

Like many kids, my favorite part of the big holiday dinner was the olives. You can start eating them before dinner, then during dinner and, as far as I’m concerned, they make a much better dessert than pumpkin pie. Well…maybe not so much now but for certain that was true when I was a kid and my grandfather used to warn me that I was going to turn into an olive if I wasn’t careful.

That long ago Thanksgiving occurred at my Grandparents home on Thackery Place. I remember, even as a young child, loving the very name of a street that was lined by flowering crape myrtle trees with an occasional pink magnolia popping up here and there. I used to wonder if the neighbors got together and planned this coordinated beauty up and down the block. Well… in all truth, I didn’t wonder that when I was only five years old but later in life, as I looked back upon my memories of that home on Thackery Place. That home is now just blocks away from what was my favorite high school hangout… Dick’s Drive In. So many stops after high school football games and I was just a block or two away from Thackery Place and didn’t even realize it.

Maybe a picture or two would help. I just happened in a google search to find realtor pics of the home, as it was recently on the market….listed at over a million. Whew! Since the home was built in 1916, I am guessing that my grandparents were the first owners of the house. I’m even wondering if my great-grandfather Alexander Pearson who had come to the “new country” from Sweden built the home, as he was a prominent builder in Seattle…well known for many important buildings in the Seattle area.

Can’t imagine that those are the trees in my memories. Wouldn’t that be something if they were!

Ah… it’s the dining and living room that I remember so well. All the woodwork and the stained glass have to be original to the house, as I remember standing on my tip toes to reach the dining room’s built-in buffet in order to steal olives off the relish tray on that long ago Thanksgiving day. In order to steal as many as possible, my fingers became the culprit as I loaded them up with pitless olives and ate them one by one.

It was Grandfather Pearson who caught me in the act and gently admonished me with the “visual” of turning into an olive. Later my grandmother Clara appeared from working hard in the kitchen and wondered out loud what had happened to her relish tray.

“Where’s all the olives?” she asked.

My grandfather winked at me and answered.

“No idea, Clara.”

Just look what evolved from one can of jumbo black olives! I had no idea where this little journey would take me. It all started when I couldn’t quite remember my grandfather’s first name as he passed away when I was six years old. So I went searching and… lo and behold….I kindled fond memories and found information that was unknown to me before. For example, now I know why my father was named Bernard Alexander. And it was such fun to see both the outside and inside of the home where I have some memories of holidays and staying overnight when my baby brother was born. What an afternoon this has been.

Mind you… I’m not much into ancestry and I’m going to keep it that way. Maybe fun wasn’t quite the right word. This afternoon stirred up more than I wanted to have stirred. Gonna publish and then I’m off to find a new diversion.

Till later!

LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW!

Look what I’ve found! Yet another gem in that drafty draft folder of mine. Been trying to clean out that folder for days now. Stories to tell, memories to resurface, and a less cluttered folder for sure.

Ah!… for some reason, while I never really call her by a nickname, in my head I always think of this beautiful granddaughter of mine as ‘Miss Em.’ And yes… she is divine, dazzling, darling, delightful and a bit of an imp for which I love her dearly. She loved to tousle my carefully coiffed hairdo and mess up what I spent some good time that morning getting to be “just so!”

Cherished memory for sure! Even Neil found Emily very endearing and ended up chuckling away as she combed my head of hair with her fingers (he thinks I obsess way too much about hair and make-up and such girlish things). There wasn’t enough hair spray to save me from Emily’s re-arranging. And I have always just sat there, smiled and let her get away with playing beautician at my expense… sometimes just slightly annoyed, sometimes adoring her loving playfulness.

Well… that was then and this is now. Our snow day pic was five years ago and Emily is now a junior in high school. Oh my!

One of the occasional miracles of living in our small corner of the world is a White Christmas, as they are few and far between. Lo and behold… in the year of 2015 the world grew silent and stood still as we all awoke to just such a miracle. One that almost surpassed the excitement of opening presents because the best present of all had already been opened. We looked out on the beauty of snow falling on grass and trees and covering the earth in a soft, pure white blanket of downy flakes. Where Emily lives, deer are a common sight… here, there and everywhere…even in her own backyard. Gives new meaning to ‘stopping by woods on a snowy evening’… the woods and deer were ‘lovely, dark and deep.’

In looking back on my long history, I can only remember a couple of times that snow made its appearance on Christmas Day, leaving me with indelible memories. You know… like saying on some occasion, “where were you when?” The first such memory was as a young child of maybe four or five and living in a house on a steep hill. Very steep!! My father was an avid skier and, as such, looked upon that hill as a challenge for both he and me. He put me on “little skis” and set me carefully in front of him between his “big skis” and off we went down that hill. I don’t even remember what Santa brought me that Christmas as the cold air, the magic of snow on the ground and my Dad navigating me down that hill were a memorable gift enough.

A few years later we had moved off that steep hill and into a house that was situated on a more gentle incline. A couple of days before Christmas and on the day of our church Christmas program, snow began falling in earnest. I mean like tons of snow. More than I had ever seen before. It was breathtaking. We lived only a block away from our church, as did many of the members. So… the program was still on and I was going to play my “angel part” despite the road obstacles. I so remember breaking the silence of the early evening with every crunch on our walk to church through inches and inches of snowfall, all the while in my white gown and halo to match. It was magical and miraculous and has never left the deep recesses of my mind’s eye.

So… my divine Miss Em… there we are on my third memory of a most memorable White Christmas when I got to cross the Sound on the white ferry, get taxied to your house and spend a very special Christmas with all of you.

Loving you,
Nana

P.S. Let’s go see what pops up next in that draft folder of mine.

elizabeth & me in frame

I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!!

So I’ve changed my mind.

Perhaps I should tell you a bit about the day you were born from your Nana’s point of view.

Dear Elizabeth,

You really are adorable in that picture. What a smile! And..how fun! We’re going to have a redhead in the family!

In a previous post celebrating your birthday, I made mention of the fact that you must have heard numerous stories of the day you were born. Of course it was a monumentally momentous day in our family… the entrance of this beautiful new life into the world. After all, there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world. On the morning you were born, the sun smiled so broadly that the clouds peeked in to see you and the morning breeze sighed, “Life will never be the same.” (my adaptation of a line from Nancy Tillman’s book On The Night You Were Born.)

But, your birth day was also momentous for the many extenuating circumstances surrounding the day. In that earlier post I promised to leave my story of your day of birth for another day entirely, as I was certain you might be tired of hearing all those other “stories.” You know… the ones about how you were born a month earlier than expected and how your Dad was off on a business trip thinking he had plenty of time to return home to be with your Mom and how we had celebrated Mother’s Day the Sunday before your birth and how your Grandmother was with your Mom and got her to the hospital in the middle of the night and how she spent those first days with her when you came home from the hospital (about which I was very jealous, as that was supposed to be my time to share with my child.) I got over it quickly and fell into gratitude that your grandmother was there for both you and your mom and stayed with you both.

You know…. all of those stories.

So… you ask… why have I changed my mind? Well that post was written four years ago and you have grown into a lovely, intelligent young woman who is starting her college life in the midst of tremendous stress and the challenges we all face right now in this pandemic year of 2020. I’m feeling time marching on more than ever these days. The draft of this current post and that picture up there of the two of us has been in my draft folder for far too long. Time to set it free with words to embellish the picture. Guess I should be waiting for your next birthday but that is six months away so, when I am done waxing poetic, I’m going to press “publish” ….birthday or not.

Remember that flowery box on my countertop… the one in the pantry? That box is chock full to the brim of pictures that long for stories and remembrance. And no…. I’m sure you have no idea of what box I am talking about. For future reference, the box is no longer on the countertop but up on a shelf in one of the cupboards. You will all find it someday. It remains to be seen as to how much justice I can give to those pictures with stories and how much time is left to do so.

I rifle through that box often and when I happened upon that picture of you and I…. memories flooded back. After an early morning call from your Aunt Amy, I made a beeline drive to the hospital and arrived in time for your birth. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration. As we all know, Nana never takes the shortest route between two locations but rather, quite the opposite. Still and all… I did get there in time for your entrance into this world. Since I was pretty sedated during the birth of my own children, the immediacy of witnessing your birth was new to me and I remember your Mother asking me

“Mom, are you alright?” Guess I must have been looking a bit “pekid.”

That’s a question I should have been asking her. Turned out that I was alright enough to say ‘yes’ when the Doc asked me if I would like to cut the umbilical cord. Wow!

Funny the things we remember. Once you were swaddled in hospital attire and wrapped in a blanket and resting peacefully in your hospital bassinet, your Mom’s appetite kicked in and before I knew it, scrambled eggs with toast and all the trimmings were ordered from room service and breakfast was on the way. Even back then I had to smile ’cause, as we all know, your mother loves food and can get rather cranky when hunger sets in. She inherited that gene from your papa. I had been bearing witness to that crankiness for lots of years.

Sorry…. I digress. That last sentence brought back another memory which would lead me astray from what this post is all about. I’ll save that for another day.

I stuck around most of the day… enough to witness the tears of your Papa when you got your first prick of a needle. And… the tears in the eyes of your Dad when, after a long, hurried and stressful flight home, he entered the room and saw you and one could feel his joy at meeting you for the first time and the deep disappointment of not being with you when you were born. He walked over to your Mom and embraced her with such love. At that moment I knew you were going to have two parents who love and adore you and would be your greatest support for all your “growing up years” and well beyond. I was right about that!

As for me… well, one never thinks that one is going to be as old as your grandparents seemed to you when you were young. But, here I was a grandma for the first time… all proud, thrilled, another life to love, unconditionally, without having to sweat the small stuff. All they say about grandparenthood is true.

If you could look into my heart, how quickly you would see the special place you hold there and how much you mean to me.

I know! I know! Sounds like a Hallmark moment but sometimes those cards get the sentiment just right!

Love,
Nana