Saturday, July 30, 2011


Do you ever have those days when the unexpected seems to transform your point of view?

I had one of those days yesterday. It started at Masters Swim practice when there was a substitute coach at the workout time I usually attend. Her style was totally different from the usual coach. In addition to the workout instructions, she gave very specific techniques to practice. WOW! It felt like the two techniques she suggested transformed my work out--making it more aerobic and powerful.

Then I went on a "Dearma date" with my 16-year-old grandson, Cody. I always let the kids choose what they want to do, and Cody's choices never cease to surprise me. For instance, he wanted to go to Perko's for lunch. This is not a restaurant that I frequent and according to his mom they never go there, so what's the appeal? He likes a particular burger they serve. And I had a Thai chicken salad that was absolutely delicious. The place was cool and not very busy at 2pm when we arrived, so it was a perfectly delightful and, for me, unique lunch spot.

Then we went to see the movie: "The Transformers: The Dark Side of the Moon." What a hoot! The movie is funny and the animation is fabulous. Cody and I shared a large popcorn and laughed and commented liberally as there were very few people in the theater. This is a movie I would not have normally seen, but I have to say I enjoyed all 2 hours and 37 minutes, something I surely didn't anticipate when Cody announced this was what he wanted to do. Another thing I liked was that we sat through the entire run of credits after the movie, something I ALWAYS do but was surprised to learn my grandson liked to do too.

The next unexpected thing was going to the final performance for Vacation Bible School at Chapel in the Pines. The plan was that I'd drop Cody off there so he could do the sound for the performance. I popped into the little chapel to get a Raleigh hug, and he encouraged me to stay for the show, so I did. What a blast! The theme was upbeat summer Caribbean, so there were lots of grass skirts and flowery shirts and plastic fruit. Brent Corson led the singing which was lively and joyous. The highlight of the evening, however, was the closing song. It was a partnered, hand-clapping affair which I did with Raleigh. The short verse was repeated 4 times at a rapidly accelerating pace. Glistening with perspiration, Raleigh and I hand-clapped and sang with joyous abandon.

My Friday was transformed by unexpected pleasures and I'm feeling pretty grateful.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Working with Dearma

This summer, I set a goal to have each of my grandkids come and work for me. I have tons of chores that need to be done, and I like working with someone. They like making money, and I like to think they enjoy spending time with me. I know I love time with them, especially one-on-one time when I get to hear from them without the distractions that accompany many of our encounters.

So I made a list of tasks that I thought were age and ability appropriate and went to work setting times for them to come. Lunch and a treat were part of the deal. Usually I took them to the deli to select what they wanted and then we went to freezer to choose ice cream or popsicles for dessert.

The first to come was Gianna. She helped me trim a 50 foot rosemary hedge. Gianna is methodical and always figures out the practicalities of a task. Based on her evaluation of the project, we used both hedge trimmers and hand held pruners and moved along steadily with her setting the pace.

Next came Clare and Mary Autumn. Three-year-old Clare organized drip system pieces by size, type, and color in the drawers a small parts cabinet. She also helped me plant rotten bananas in my rose garden. She loved that job, especially when the trowel turned up worms. Mary Autumn helped me clean and organize my potting yard cabinet. She cleaned pots, wiped down shelves, and put things back in the best of order. That cabinet has never looked so good.

Leon helped me build a rock retaining wall and a step into the side yard. While eating popsicles after completing the job, we discovered our shared love for bird watching. The kid has an incredible eye for sighting the smallest bird in a tree. We took a bunch of pictures.

Cody worked with Granddaddy to build a retaining wall and two sets of stairs in the side yard. It was hot, hard, dirty work but Cody hung in there and finished long after I had retreated to sitting in the shade. I now have a spot for a fruit tree and berry vine to be planted in the fall.

Taylor and Candice are window washers extraordinaire. Candice worked ahead of Taylor and I cleaning all the window sills and the cruddy tracks where the aluminum windows sit. We came behind washing windows, inside and out. Cindy meanwhile was working on cleaning the screens. This was a 6-hour job and there was not one complaint from these girls and plenty of giggles! And can I just say, Taylor voluntarily cleaned up inside after the job while I was putting things away outside.

Next came Athan who helped me trim the oleander, a monumental job that I have to do every summer after the bloom. High atop a ladder, Athan chatted away about the view and pruning decisions he was making, once commenting on how he was like his dad in his interest in pruning. Yep, this is true. The oleander have never looked so fine as when he finished.

Still to come are Kyle, Aliou, Huck, Nell, and Anna Mae. Also, Candice and I agreed that she is going to come twice. (She was saving for dance camp so she came along for Taylor's job.) I haven't mentioned August because he regularly works in Dearma's yard.

When people find out I have 14 grandkids, the first thing they often say is "How do you afford Christmas?" I must say the gifts I get from these kids far exceed what I give them.

(NOTE: I didn't get pictures of Gianna, Clare, or Mary Autumn and promised Taylor I wouldn't publish a picture of her as she didn't feel prepared for a photo shoot.)