Just catching up

You’re part of my daily life.  I see you each day.  You spent the night last night and I took you to school.  You seem to love our car rides and singing down the road with me.  Yesterday you told me, This is just delicious.  What are you eating I asked.  Boogies, you said.  Eeewwww.  I moaned.  You crooned with delight, I love to eat them.  They are salty and good.  Maybe we should stop for a snack, buddy.  Okay.  You agreed.  But first we went to the local “whale museum” to watch the active bee hive and see the stuffed animals on display. The kids there were mostly older.  You watched them interact, studying them. I seen so many golden eagles in my life, one said, it’s just amazing.  You walked up to the eagle on display and asked the boy if it was a golden eagle.  He was so happy to tell you all the facts he’d collected.  In the car later you told me those facts, ending each with, “its amazing”.  And in the store flew around with your talons out-stretched looking for things to grab.  Golden eagles in Bonny Doon only eat ice cream, you told me.  Hmmm. Better than boogies.

You and your mommy have to work so hard with each other.  She says you hurt her feelings and you say she got too mad at you.  After I ask you to put the plum back on the counter because its dinner time, you stand stiffly mimicking her movements and expression. Your index finger points at me and you say, Hey! really fiercely. It’s so easy for children to pull out our own child within.  For mommy, that child isn’t really buried.

Liza is cranky with teething and mommy tells me what she’s trying with her.  She tosses back her head and protests.  She flips out of our arms.  She is very happy and laughs or very mad and growls.  She clearly has a stronger reaction to things and is capable of strong expressions of her feelings. Mommy is working hard to be a good mommy.  Some days are shitty and others, well, they are actually quite fun. They seem to be keeping the hoop clean and the tent picked up.  There are mice, but of course, with new smells in their woods and ease of entry.  They’ll just have to be managed.

You and your family are out of food, fuel and the car needs servicing.  The appointment for help foodstamps, medi-cal, etc, was delayed because your daddy couldn’t find some paperwork.  Now he found it.  I told them to tell the office social worker that it is an emergency. I think it is. Mommy and daddy need to get jobs right away.  I will watch you here while they go to unemployment.  But they don’t want to yet.  Daddy likes his job but its only two days a week. Mommy is studying to get her license to drive.  That’s a good thing. (I hope)

Next week early head start services start for Liza and mom.  But mom has to make contact with the office.  The papers say that she and Liza are qualified.  They are called homeless because they live in a tent.  I don’t know about that, but at least that is good to have mommy and Liza go play together with some other babies.

Maybe you can take swimming lessons.  You need to be safe around your great grandma’s pool.  You and I saw some kids doing lessons and you asked me.  Funny.  It’s the same place your daddy did swim lessons.Maybe when we get back from Echo. Grandpa and I will open the cabin this week.  We will be gone for four days.  We decided not to take you because we have so much work to get done.  Also our friends are coming up for a few days.  It’s a grown-up trip this time.  We’ll take you in August for a week, okay.  I know you will be sad.  I will miss our daily exploits, buddy.  Happy 4th of July! gma

We spend most of our time outside.  You found a rubber boa on the deck and Ellie wants to water the flowers.


“The eggs ‘sploded out of the pot, Grandma.  They gotted all over the floor.  They hopping out and again and again.” What would I do without my three year old little buddy? I forgot the hard boiled eggs on the stove.  Well, to be more accurate I didn’t hear the timer go off.  Actually, it didn’t beep because you, my little curious buddy, twisted it to go off a few minutes from an hour. We’ll have peanut butter and jam for lunch, okay? Then you asked me why “the apple juice is beer now”and I knew it had gone off and was undrinkable, pouring it down the sink.  You heard a truck and I said no its an airplane and in fact, it was a truck delivery waiting at the old house and just about ready to leave.  Thanks, buddy.  How come, you asked, that poo is following Metro? Yuk.  He indeed had a dangler hanging from his rear section in the living room! Close to the floor, heightened senses, and keenly aware.  I need you, my little preschooler.  All of us old folks should have at least one!

Tonight you drew a few figures with eyes, mouths arms and legs.  One of them developed slanted eyes, down-turned mouth and a red wiggle looked like and angry line.  You called the face scary Dale from Billings.  You said I gonna put him in a cage.  You pressed fat lines across his face, several of them.  He still showed. You got up from the table, stomping your foot.  We don’t like angry guys here.  You shouted.  Thick blue masking tape in chunky strips placed over the face did the trick. He was entirely covered; gone. Bad guys are gone now.  We don’t like Dale.  We poo on him. And you laughed with relief. Me, too. Daddy says he never knew a Dale in Billings.  Hmmm.  I think you did.

Today my neighbor was quite upset with my plan to get our road gate set up on the driveway during the house construction.  We talked about it but today when we started working on it, she called and ranted. She could not bear it.  She was sick with worry about her privacy and unwilling to consider other options or even discuss what might work better for her.  I had to ask her not to talk to me about it anymore until Grandpa comes home. She really loses it on territorial issues.  We need to use the gate, and will consider moving it, but she says no.  I think we are really in a fix.  Yep, we don’t want to go back to the barn permit stress.  Where’s the blue tape?  Bring it here, buddy.  I need it. Right now! gma

Sing and Play

I am here this week alone. Well, almost.  I spend a few or many, many hours with you and sissy each day.  Sometimes just you.  Yesterday you went with mommy and daddy to town.  Grammie was waiting for you and excited about seeing you and your sister.  She waited and waited. You never showed up. Grammie was sad and a little mad.  Mommy forgot Liza’s bottle and diapers and had to return home.  She didn’t tell Grammie. I guess visiting didn’t fit into their schedule. It’s important to be ready.  Ready for whatever you are doing.  If you are going to be gone awhile, take a snack.  If your snack is sticky, take a washcloth, if you need a wet washcloth, take some water. If you might potty in your pants, take extra undies and pants.  I want you to be thoughtful about your family’s feelings, too.  Kindness feels good. It comes from caring about others; their feelings and needs. It feels good to work to understand the people you love and be willing to do things for them.  It was a good idea to think about visiting Grammie.  She loves you guys.  Please visit her next time you go to town.  Let her meet you at the park or take Liza for a walk. Be thoughtful.  Maybe you can remind mommy and daddy to be prepared.

You told me that you don’t have proper shoes.  Proper shoes for what?  for a hike, you tell me.  Yes I see that you are wearing your crocs.  Me too.  We’d need to go home and get our closed-toed shoes.  Proper shoes, you say. You say what I say.  I’d better watch my language choices.  You are quite interested and cued into sound.  Intonation and accents are reproduced with ease.  Your daddy is very auditory, too.  Your singing has increased in frequency and your sense of melody is quite accurate. Carol King’s chicken soup with rice and Vicki’s Singing in the Bathtub are this week’s favorites. I have to get you a source of music here for you to use on your own.  I got Mommy and Daddy’s house a lullaby player when you used to live here.  I wonder if you still have it.  I won’t ask, because I asked about too many things and each time your mommy said “no” she seemed sad.

Your play is full of construction.  You call the “exagator” a “Snort” from the book, “Are you my mother?”  You make yourself laugh every time you say it.

You scoot the small trucks, tractors and dozers around in the sand scooping away the old house.  Getting ready to build a new one.  I’ll have to bring our your blocks when the construction begins in a few weeks.  Grandpa is going to build you a workbench in the shop.  You and Liza (when she’s big enough) can build things while grandpa works. He likes to talk about that with you, doesn’t he?

Forget what I said about being ready, thoughtful and all.  Just play, buddy.  Just play with sissy and enjoy. Gma

Alone with the babies

Rock, rock, rock, rock.  Swing, swing, swing swing. Roll, roll, roll, roll.  Whew.  I need a crib for Liza.  After and hour in the stroller, then the porch swing, the rocking chair, swing again then finally the stroller in the kitchen, back and forth, round and around.  I nearly fell asleep on my feet.  You were in the bed reading books, got up to poop, drink water, read some more and then asked me to lie down next to you.  You fell to sleep in three minutes.  It shouldn’t be hard, just need to find the right sequence and …We need  crib for sissy.

Daddy flew (he got help with paying for the flight) to Montana yesterday and driving your old silver car back home here.  Its full of your things.  But mommy didn’t pack the computer or Liza’s crib.  So the porta crib stays in the tent and I have to find some kind of bed here for her.  You suggested that I throw her up on the loft.  Then added, “very carefully.” I thought not. She is a light sleeper.  The phone rings and she’s awake, the dog coughs, taps his feet.  Not you, you sleep through anything when you are tired.

Mommy went to town on the bus.  She was pacing like a caged cat.  We had a conversation about what she pictured herself doing in town and backed off when I sensed her desperation a stopped expecting her to decide.  She left at noon and plans to return by five or six she said.  Its a delight to be with you little ones.  I have to admit that I am a little overwhelmed.  Part of it is that I had wanted to garden with Salvador today.  I can only manage taking care of the two of you when you are here.  Nothing else.  You know, I love spending time like this in play, pacing our day together.  Its mostly fun, but also exasperating, challenging, delightful, satisfying. Funny I just thought of something like an ad…you are an investment in the future.  Today its the whole day.  Time is precious.  Daddy won’t be home until Saturday.  Montana is closed now, you tell me.  The food stamps are gone too.  Okay.  That was in the snippets of conversation that you mumble as you fall asleep. Close the door so the rats don’t get in, you warn.   Camping life is like that.  Sleep now little ones. No rats in here. Loving you, gma

Relaxed Play

Our house is a wonderful place to play.  Feels more open, soft and slippery on your hands and feet. You spent all day in the sandbox, I raked it and got it ready for you.  We watered the lawn, making waterfalls over sticks and rocks, filled the blue pool and you made the slide into a water slide for your play figures to surf down onto the ground and you laughed.  And Liza she explored, the smooth wooden floors, the silky dog ears, the fluffy poodle tail and sand that sticks to your wet fingers, bottom and grinds between two front teeth, uppers and lowers and feels soooo good.

We smelled a foul; smell under the climber and discovered a tentacled pink fungus growing there.  Flies loved it!

Checking in (and out again)

I’ve pushed my damp clothes into the plastic ice bag I find on the desk, tossed the litter lying about my hotel room, folded the clean clothes and laid them in neat piles one on top of the other, shoes at the bottom. I poked the dirty ones in a mesh shoe bag and zipped them into an outer compartment of my black bag. Papers slipped in next to them, my hotel receipt and restaurant, taxi and parking, too so I can locate them for billing once home. I look up my flight confirmation number, confirm check in online and slip those papers in an outer, easy to reach pocket of my purse. My novel, glasses and a roll of tums in my purse, too. I check for liquids, look for my boarding pass again, just to be sure. I slip on my easy off shoes, sleep my computer, zip and slip it onto my shoulder and off go into the taxi. Sweaty and tired from the scramble to leave, the taxi ride is over before I get the ten dollar bill out of my wallet.

At the airport there’s bags, the check-in and a jumbled security line. A woman in an electric wheelchair with two pink ear bowed dogs and another with a mewing cat in a carrier. All of us witness one another pull it all out, falling apart in public and calmly reassemble. Locate the boarding pass, arthritic fingers dislodge ID from a tight clear wallet compartment, hold it in my teeth for a moment, the bag plops to the floor off the shoulder, the unzipped purse, the open computer bag, three bins for jacket, purse, computer gets its own, shoes off, hopping about, pass through. I got all the liquids out this time, no knife and no nail scissors. Pile it on both shoulders, hanging from hands arms and barefoot shuffle to a nearby chair and sit next to barefooted old men and two small women I don’t know. We pack it all up again. Assemble ourselves for travel, pretend the exposure never happened. Slip, poke, jab, zip and pull shoes over heels. Ahh. Ready to go. Then put it all down to use the bathroom in the tiny stall with a broken bag hook. Back home. Less trouble to walk!

Your mommy and daddy moved, packed and poked thing in places to leave your old house. It was all assembled for your little life. Dishes, pots, pans, tissues, garbage can, sink plug, tub soap trays and towel rack. All there, then your mommy wanted to leave. Time to go. Push, pack, drag, shove, pile, toss and go. Bye. I purchased it all again- pots pans dishes glasses soap trays towel racks spoons forks and other things all over again. Because they left it in Montana. All used, days of searching going through piles of things to find what you all need. There. You are ready to live here again. But not in you little place. The cabin is where me and Grandpa live as we fix the old house. It got broken. Let’s not do that again, okay? I wonder, buddy, where are those pans, pots, soap trays and forks? Where did they go?

Let’s all just stay awhile okay?  I will, too.  I promise.  gma


Your sister falls softly into the space between Grandpa and the light green chair.  She lifts both legs and props her puffy little feet on the arm with her head resting against your grandpa.  She rotates, pushes a series of buttons and tastes an unused remote after Grandpa removed the batteries for her.  He reads a book, you play on the floor and I watch all of you, wishing you many hours of this kind of relaxed play over at your tent this summer.  I am hoping Mom finds value in these kinds of moments.  Today my thoughts are focused on your mommy.  Not you or Liza, well Liza, too.  For now you are cared for, watched closely for signs of hunger, health and well-being, signs of excessive tension.  We offer you water, good food, love, stories and play time. But what does your mommy need?

One thing Mommy needs is Liza. That’s for sure. She may even think she is Liza. She is at times confused if its sissy that feels tired or mommy.  So sure that Liza is full because mommy just ate, warm because mommy is bundled up and grumpy when mommy is.  I dress your sister, change her, wash her little crusty hands and pick fuzz from her finger slots. I feed her and each time she gobbles up what I offer.  Today I spent four hours with you and Liza and discovered that I could manage.  More than that, I loved it. Thank goodness, because I will take care of you both after your mom figures out what  mommy will do during the week.  She has to go someplace to get training or a job.  She promised. So she came here to live.

Mommy and Daddy have to get better at keeping their promises.  Your Montana Grandma sent me a long letter telling me some things about your mommy that I didn’t really want to hear about.  They were things that your Montana grandma needed to work out with Mommy.  She seemed frustrated. Angry.  But one of the things was a problem keeping agreements.  That’s what we all are going to work on this summer.  Making agreements and keeping promises.  Mommy and Daddy may need a different way than I am used to, so I have to get really clever and very sure first of all.  We cannot manage up here together unless we are honest and talk about the hard things. Okay buddy? If we say we will, we do.

Besides gophers, chilly babies, hungry kids and flowers that become beans, there are so many lessons to share.  We have to include Mommy and Daddy sometimes, too.  Even when your mommy feels so injured that she goes to lie down.  And says she is too tired. We will get her up, to get her going.  We have to.  She has to join the effort to keep your family chugging along.  Even though she may say that all is  fine; that she’s a good mommy and doing everything she can.  Deep inside, she knows other things.  Some of them are hard things to think about.  Some hold her back from being a good mommy. We’ll have to find the key to a happier time in your mommy’s life.

We need a mentor, a catalyst, a magician.  Maybe its Liza.  Maybe a mom-baby play group.  Maybe.  Let’s think on it while you push Liza on the red swing I hung on the deck.  Swing, swing, swing, swing.  Push me like that, gma.  Okay climb in.  Your turn.  Maybe your mommy could fit and I’ll swing her like this.  I bet she could use a song, too.  gma

Cheer her up, Grandma

I am up on the mountain alone today.  I feel as free as the breeze in the trees.  I can hear only birds and that breeze. I smell the sea, herbs from the canyon and the jasmine on the fence.  Grandpa’s traveling, you and your family are in town and I am here.  Vacationing at home. I just turned the horses out into the pasture, watered the beans that have just this week pushed through the soil, counted tomato flowers and marveled at the number of kiwi blossoms.  The apricots are heavy this year, Santa Rosa plums light, but the satsuma prolific.  We’ve trapped three huge gophers in the garden and that seems to have been it.  It’s an awful thing those traps, but worse is the damage the gophers do.  You and I planted some bedding plants yesterday in the small house garden, newly protected from the bunnies.  You arrived this morning and said, This garden is so beautiful. Right-o, it is.

Sleep comfy in your tent?  I did, you said. Great.  Must be sweet over there all four of you together again. Liza stares at me with interest and caution.  She watches all that is unfamiliar and pulls into Mom if I look at her too intently.  I’m still glancing at your sister for now.  Yesterday mommy and daddy asked me to watch her for a bit so they could go out and get a coffee. She cried. You told me to cheer her up, please. I asked you for ideas.  You had some good ones and sang several versions of twinkle twinkle as loudly as needed for her to hear you. She cried and cried, then after about a half hour hiccuped back to calmness to focus on the dog.  It was Georgia’s nose-bopping and tail flapping in her face that did it.  Georgia wants to lick her all over and Ellie finds it very funny as Georgia’s fuzzy face pokes and pecks at her. She gave in and ate a bite of peas only after Georgia licked dropped ones off the floor. Whatever it takes.  By the time mommy got back it looked as though Ellie had enjoyed a lovely time.  She in fact was just thinking about taking a little cry break when they returned. We’ll figure it out, very soon she will know I am nice. I am her Grandma, someone that loves her. It was sweet to watch your sister crawl with a one-sided pusher foot, pull to a stand on the center tent pole and sit with Georgia’s head between her legs holding her ears so tightly she couldn’t possible move anything but her tail.

Today when Mommy came to tell me they were going to town, I suggested they take you so I could rest (I was dizzy and wobbly for some reason today).  Mommy told you to hurry and get ready, wash up because Grandma Jo (Great-grandma) wanted to see Liza. I imagine she’d like to visit with you too and I mentioned that. My mom, came yesterday. I need to re-acquaint you and Mommy. Maybe I’ll take Liza so you and mommy can do something together in my art area upstairs in the garage.  Hey, did I tell you I took down daddy’s bed and set up your easel?  We are going to have so much fun up there above the garage!  You can draw and paint and make things with clay.  Me too.  Maybe mommy can join us, too.  And Liza! Babies can paint and draw too.

I am really happy your family is here, buddy.  I am truly happy for you.  gma