Monday, January 31, 2011

I Had Come Home

"Where are you?" my daughter asked. "The girls want to know how long it will be until you get home."

Nice words to hear when you have been away from home for a few days. Of course, I missed them, but so nice to know they missed me, too.

My friend and I went to visit her grandson who is in his first year of college. Justin is a fantastic young man. He actually didn't mind hanging out with two grandmas. In fact, he thought he was lucky. A friend asked if he was going to do something, and he answered that, no, he had family visiting.

We like to know we are missed. Knowing that there are times when thoughts of us cross the minds of others warms the soul. No matter the age, we all love to know that we are thought of.

I had only been home a bit when my son called. "Are you coming over to see the puppy?" he asked.

I had been gone just a few days, and now I was immediately requested to go to their house and catch up on Millie activity. I'm not sure if I was to see what the puppy had learned or what James and Lisa had learned. Yet, those words, "are you coming over" take the tiredness of travel away.

I walked through the front door, and Millie came running, dashing between my legs, begging for attention. A grandma was happy to receive such a greeting from a grandpuppy.

The best part of my visits back to the farm in Ohio were that moments we got off the plane or walked through the door at the house back the lane. The hugs I received from my parents were priceless. A child had come home. I appreciate those hugs more now that I am older. Those embraces when we said 'good-bye' took the child home time and time again.

My friend and I had a lot of time to talk on the long trip over last weekend. We talked about grandchildren, we talked about children, we talked about getting older and we talked about death. It's love that is in the embrace of coming and going, of life and death. Love takes us home again and again even in our memories.

Millie danced around my feet as my granddaughter held on to my arm. I had come home.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grace and Beauty

She dances across the floor. Grace and beauty. As she dances by, I see glimpses of the woman she will be. Grace and beauty.

The wall was lined with parents and other family members watching their child move through exercises and steps. Instead of PE, this arts school offers dance for every student. Boys try to get their feet untangled while the girls struggle with their maturing bodies trying to image the same movements as their teacher. A few of the kids have a gift for movement. Most do not.

I'm struck with this view of the complete self confidence these kids possess on the floor performing in front of these adults. Even the most awkward seems unaware of us. Is it the age? Have they mastered self confidence? Maybe they just don't care. The discipline of dance echoes in each child. Each does his or her best even if awkward and clumsy. Students support the efforts of one another. A dance requires discipline, support of one another, feeling for the work. The music is the catalyst that speaks to the dancer.

There is a rhythm to life. A song that calls us all to be the best we can be, to be in sync with those around us. I don't know about reincarnation, but I told a friend a few days ago that I wonder if we are given experiences in our lives that offer opportunity to see things more clearly. Perhaps the doors that have been opened to us, those we walk past, are open over and over again until we finally get it. Perhaps we cannot have peace and love in this world until we learn the steps.

I noticed with the kids this morning that they watched each other. Some copied the steps of the others around him or her. Some tried to match their movements to the teacher or other students. With each dance repetition, the uniformity improved and each student seemed more confident.

So we sat along the mirror watching the children observing what they have learned over the last few weeks. We sat as an audience....or, maybe we were the students.

The dance of life. Grace and beauty.

My apologies. I will not be writing tomorrow. Have a safe and wonderful weekend.....maybe even learn some new steps.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I am a Camera

According to eHow: A camera lens is the eye of the camera, allowing it to see the outside world.

Allowing it to see the outside world. Hm. I have two lenses since I have two eyes, thus I should be able to see the outside world pretty darn clear, right? Well, okay, we have a brain to go with our lenses that process information. Our camera lenses see the outside world colored by what we have already tucked away.

Going a step farther: Children do not have a brain full of experiences as we do. Their brains are filling up with what they see in the outside world. Their little lenses capture everything they see and tuck it away. So what do they see?

Life is difficult for the single woman. She struggles with everyday life. All doors seem closed and life is an endless tug on her fraying nerves. Her child is a camera capturing the pictures, pictures that will be stored away, pictures that teach, pictures that color the child's world. There is no explanation that comes along with those pictures. No, the lenses just aim and shoot. The picture is taken.

What subjects have we been for those little lenses? What do we do to clear the fog created by our own past?

I have worked hard to focus on the positive. I have worked hard to create a beautiful landscape for my granddaughters to enjoy. I work at presenting a good subject on which their lenses can focus. I never know when the lenses will be focused on me.

I am a camera.

  • A camera lens is the "eye" of a camera, allowing it to see the outside world.

  • A camera lens is the "eye" of a camera, allowing it to see the outside world.

  • A camera lens is the "eye" of a camera, allowing it to see the outside world.

  • A camera lens is the "eye" of a camera, allowing it to see the outside world.

  • A camera lens is the "eye" of a camera, allowing it to see the outside world.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Bring It On

    2012. The number strikes fear in the hearts of many. Imagine me saying it with mock fear in my voice. 2012. Maybe a little bit of Orson Welles.

    I guess when you have lived long enough nothing scares you. Our world was supposed to come to an end several times during my 63 years. I'm still here so I guess it didn't happen. My son and I were talking about the hype about the Mayan calendar. He informed me of the basis of the expected doom. I inform him that probably the Mayan's, were they still around, would just need to go buy a new calendar. Maybe one with puppies on it.

    We all know that we aren't here forever. I certainly don't sit around worrying about it. We only have today. And, I'm fine with the fact. For if I only have today, I will make the best of it.

    Tomorrow Oregon will have their largest earthquake drill ever. Schools, businesses and homeowner are to initiate a practice drill. A 9.0 quake is expected at any time. We are informed that it is long overdue. So some time tomorrow I will drop and roll. I guess if I'm with the puppy, she will go with me. The ocean plates are shifting, and we will shift with them when it happens. Am I worried? No. Again, I live for today.

    I feel sorry for those people who live in fear of the unknown, fear of the past and fear of change. Most of my life I think I was afraid of the mistakes I'd made in my life, of job loss, of raising a family, of a big mountain called St. Helens that lives nearby. I cannot hide from the past, let alone, the earth. I cannot change many things in the present. And, if St. Helens or Mt. Hood decides to blow, I will sit in my house and listen to the ash fall on the roof. I cannot change many things, but I can change me. I refuse to be afraid.

    Years ago I would not have tolerated being near a snake. Yet, after a long talk with myself, I touched a snake at the science fair and encouraged my granddaughters to do the same. I have spent nights worrying,  afraid of decisions I made or had to make, afraid of loss, afraid of myself. Well, I'm not afraid any more. I might stumble and fall over my own mistakes, but it will not destroy me. A hurricane might pass through my life, but I have felt the sting and will survive. I have today and embrace it with all I am.

    2012 will come no matter what I do, how much preparation I could be. Also in 2012, I will be 65. I will hopefully have another grandchild added to the pack. Hopefully, I will have a book on the shelves of every bookstore in America. Best of all, I will have a positive attitude.

    Bring it on.

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Take Care of Yourself

    "Take care of yourself," he often said when we left the farm heading home. Take care of yourself.

    Hey, Dad, I'm listening now.

    As a parent, a grandparent, we forget to take care of ourselves. Oh, we might eat better, exercise more, even go to counseling to take care of ourselves, but what do we do to 'take care of ourselves'. Maybe I'm not explaining this well.

    If I had the money to spare, I would have a cozy house, like a bed and breakfast, but not the aforementioned. The house would be an oasis for parents and grandparents offering a 'home', a place where they could come to read or rest. A sort of 'time out' home away from turmoil, children, noise. A place to write, listen to music, take a nap. An oasis with a garden in which to dig or to sit. Paths to walk and new friends to make.

    I needed one of these when I was raising my children. I needed a place where I could escape for a few hours after my husband got home from work or on a weekend. A place away from the responsibility of home. A time out just for me.

    As a woman living with my daughter and granddaughters, living on a very limited budget, I long to have such a place. Writing at home is difficult for me now. Writing at a coffee shop is spendy....and I do need my coffee. We all need that place where the stress stays outside the door, a place to create and recreate. A place to find the parts of us that get tossed aside due to the circumstances of our lives.

    We all need to find our place away from home where we breathe a bit easier, where we refresh. Life is indeed not easy. Often the load is heavy. So for now, I run away to the bookstore or library. I sit by the lake and fill my senses with birds, water and trees. I lose myself between the pages of a novel. I know that I need to escape to my 'time out' space.

    Available to everyone in our families, we are too often not allowing the same availability to ourselves. Maybe one day I will have that house, a haven, a temporary hideout for parents and grandparents.

    "Take care of yourself". Thanks, Dad.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Sweet Millie

    "Get the puppy!" I yell to the girls as Millie takes off with a pine cone in her mouth. "Grab her!"

    James and Lisa have a new Airedale puppy. Millie is the new baby in the family.

    Puppy loves to chew. She tackles anything that comes within reach of her mouth. The sofa, a hand, the rug, whatever draws her attention. Ah, the trials of puppy raising.

    I watch Millie and think how similar puppy rearing is to child rearing. We didn't walk our babies, but who can forget the frustration of potty training. How many new foods were pushed aside or tossed on the floor? How many things found their way into the baby's mouth? We removed things we didn't want destroyed or that could hurt the child. We were up during the night seeing to the needs of the child. We comforted our children when they visited the doctor. And, best of all, we sat next to them and watched them sleep grinning at every little movement and coo. Millie is our new baby.

    Dogs take a lot of work. Many have passed through my life time. But each was my friend and a loved one. Lessons were learned from my pets. They gave me comfort. They gave me unconditional love. They were my playmates.

    I'm a firm believer in pets for children. However, pets are not always good for the adults. The shelter is full of animals that 'didn't work out'. These once sweet animals are turned away when patience wears out and training is not considered. I wonder what message this gives to a child.

    In a time when marriage is so easily dissolved, in a time when we no longer live in the old neighborhoods, a time when kids are faced with many transitions, I'm not surprised that many kids are depressed and confused. We can see through the adult eye, but we cannot see through the child's. I know that during the struggles of my life, my pets have been my confidants and my comfort.

    We take in a pet as a member of our family. As a child so fiercely stated when mommy and daddy divorced and gave up the dog, "How can they do that? He's family." For the parents, the decision seemed right. For the child, a family member was going away. Her pal, her comfort, her friend. Perhaps she worried that about her place in the family as well.

    I do not condemn those who see the need to give up their pet. However, I do wonder that maybe we give up too easily on those special 'family members'. Perhaps we don't realize their importance to us as well as the children

    The puppy chews, the puppy pees on the floor, the puppy doesn't do the things that could make life easier. Yet, in the end, the grown dog resulting from the care and love given by the family is indeed a friend.

    Ah, sweet Millie.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Out to Play

    The door closes. The parents are gone for the evening or off to work. The children come out to play.

    My relationship with my grandchildren has been greatly changed since they live in the same house with me. I'm sure that those of you raising grandchildren have seen that change in a big way. I miss the 'special time' of having the girls visit. I miss having my house as a second home to the girls. I miss having my space as well, but that's another story.

    Every day I pick up the girls after school. Snack. Homework. Finally it is time for us to relax and settle in. The silliness seems to settle in as well.

    "Grammy, tickle my feet."

    "Grammy, can we play a game?"

    Grammy. Grammy. Grammy.

    When mom is home, the kids are more reserved towards me. They want time with their mom who works. They want her to know she is the most important adult in the house. They do their best to follow her lead. I interact, but the feel in the house has changed. How I miss my own home.

    "Grammy!" Sydney yells as she dives onto my bed. I'm tucked in reading. This is a surprise visit since she has been in her Mom's room watching TV. It feels like old times.

    The girls are trying to find their place in this living arrangement. I try very hard not to have hurt feelings or to feel slighted, yet I feel outside of this family unit. I savor the glimpses of the relationship I had with the girls before the move in. I savor the time now when we revert to doing all the silly things we did before. 

    Grandparents, you are not alone. We all work at finding our niche in the lives of our grandchildren. We all cherish the goofy times when the 'children' play. We long to have recognition in the eyes of our children as well as our grandchildren. We work hard trying not to invade but to enhance the family dynamics. Grandparenting is not always easy. Feeling get hurt. We often hold back comments that we know will really do no good. We are the 'parents' when the parents are not around. We try to find our place when they come home and are often misplaced.

    But I really love the times when we dance across the floor, play school, paint, make a mess with crafts, cook together, snuggle over a book or movie and get poked by small feet when the girls sleep over. This is not a sleepover living together. It is a responsibility to give the children the best home possible.

    I love when my granddaughters come out to play.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Too Old To Change

    My bag of groceries cost $25. I pay $30. The clerk gives me $5 in change.

    "I'm too old to change."

    Well, I've heard those words my entire life. I'm sure you have as well. Too old to change. Hm. Now you would think that if someone realizes that they have a reason to change and refuse by making excuses, that they would be able to change. Age is no excuse. Age is an opportunity.

    Is it lack of caring enough about others? Is it an excuse? Is it a borrowing from another time? What is the reason so many think they are 'too old to change'?

    As a child, I remember hearing those words. They never made sense to me. In fact, the words were selfish. My parents were older and set in their ways. My father seemed to get more narrow minded as he aged while my mother opened her mind to new possibilities. Too set in our ways. Too old to change. My mom was a pioneer in thinking.

    That phrase doesn't work for me. It is a lame excuse. Truly we lose enthusiasm, energy, mental challenge by the determination to hold on to our comfort zone. We are the setters by example. We are the matriarchs and patriarchs of our families leading by strength and heart. Being part of a family requires sacrifice. Being part of a family requires stepping out of our comfort zones and into life.

    I am getting older with more aches. I do have less energy. However, that doesn't mean I am too old to change. I am determined to head into that tunnel of my last years having lived every minute to the fullest even if it wears me out. I intend to leave a trail of memories for my family. I refuse to just be a shadow in the lives of my family. I refuse to be too old.

    What I have lived is my bag of groceries. That bag is nourishing and represents years of a fruitful life. What I get back in change is what I have left...what is left to make the most of.

    Don't give up on life. The rewards of new thinking and new adventures are worth their weight in change.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Words on Hold

    Guitar Hero echoes in the background. The girls are home from school for the day. I'm trying to get my mind around writing but find myself breaking into "Crocodile Rock", singing at the top of my lungs. Can't seem to get my thoughts written down.

    "...when your feet just can't still. I never knew me a better time and I guess I never will....."

    I stop singing and begin to type once more. Foot stomping and head bobbing in time with the music take over my body. Argh!!!!! Why don't I go to another room?!

    I don't play the Wii. My hand can't take the repetitive moves. Yet there are times I find myself staring at the TV screen watching Scooby Doo make his way to clues hidden in rooms full of monsters. What is wrong with me????

    Last night I could not sleep. With only about four hours under my belt, a nagging desire to crawl back into bed pulls at me. Words escape me.

    Since I'm not of much use on my blog today, I think I'll go sit with my granddaughters and cheer them on. There are more important things than accomplishing anything today.

    A Lego woman is singing, "I'm walking on sunshine and don't it feel good....."

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Letters to Our Children

    My father wrote a letter to me after I was married. It is the only letter I ever received from him, a treasure on a piece of paper. My mother wrote often. With the flair of her pen, she entertained and informed. Wednesday I posted on my Neff Road blog a letter I found from my grandmother to my father, her son. She wrote:

    " I cleaned up your room (partly) yesterday and I felt homesick for you again. Your room is pretty empty without you in it."

    Simple words of a mother's love. A letter my father saved.

    It dawned on me that online communication has robbed us of those pieces of paper, pieces that can survive decades, words on paper that can tell us a little something of those we never had a chance to know. Online we reply, we delete, we ignore these pieces of communication that can often be priceless.

    My granddaughters and I live together. Once in awhile we email. No paper trail. I know that I have written letters to my son since he lived away from home for many years. I'm not so sure that I have written to my daughter since she has been close all of her life. What's wrong with me?! I know how much that single letter from my father means to me. I know that this letter has gained meaning over the years, especially since the loss of my parents. So what's my excuse?

    Letters. Words of praise, words of meaning, words of love. Words that now get deleted or stored in a   computer and forgotten.

    "The point?" you ask. "Are you getting to the point, Pam?" Well, yes I am. We need to grab a piece of paper and write, type, draw, whatever we use to express our feelings and just do it. Letters. Letters to those we love. Love letters. A letter from an older parent, a letter from a grandparent.

    A letter.....

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    The Second Time Around

    What to do with old Christmas cards? Over the years they are used as future gift tags, craft supplies for next year's Christmas ornaments and maybe just stuffed in a drawer to read again at another time.

    Last year I tore off the front of the cards thinking that this year the girls could cut them out as I had years ago and make gift tags. The stack sat amid our supplies for our 25 Days of Christmas craft supplies. The ornament pile grew and the dust began to settle on the old cards. I'm not sure why I didn't throw them away.

    "Grammy, can I have these," Gabby asked with the old card fronts in her hand.

    "Sure. What are you going to do with them?" I asked.

    "It's a surprise," she replied.

    For the next few days she toiled over the cards.

    "Grammy, can you hide these for me until Christmas?" she asked holding up the pile of cards. "You can't look at them."

    I hid them for her, not looking at them. They were almost forgotten when I stumbled upon them tucked away behind the clothes hamper. Obviously, Gabby had almost forgotten as well.

    "You still can't look," she informed me. 

    Christmas day arrived. Gabby handed her precious cards out to each of us...including her sister. The card was priceless, a gift of her heart.

    An old card worth even more the second time around.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    A Favorite Thing

    Mmmmmmmmm. Cookies. Nothing makes a kitchen smell better. Girls covered with flour, frosting and the smell of baking adds to my list of 'favorite things'. Gabby smiles with tell tale chocolate at the corner of her mouth. Sydney stands looking into the oven watching the cookies grow and brown. Me? I wait the to claim the first, warm, broken cookie. Once more the kitchen offers new memories in the baking, er, making.

    The Loxley girls were not allowed to cook in my mother's kitchen. When Mom cooked, her daughters set the table, retrieved the condiments from the refrigerator and served those sitting at the table. After the meal, the girls were given the task of washing the pans coated with grease and dried mashed potatoes and piles of dishes left by the field hands now full of Mom's great cooking. No, the Loxley girls did not find delight in the kitchen.

    Something changed in my mother as granddaughters joined the family. It was not unusual to find Jobi or Stacey standing next to Mom on a chair learning to cook from the pro. Since their mothers hated cooking, it was a good thing.

    It's hard to be a mom when you don't know how to cook and really don't care to learn. My family was fed, but time in the kitchen for me needed to be at a minimum. Teaching my children to cook wasn't part of my agenda. My lack of luster in the kitchen became the mantra encouraging my children to pick up the spatula. Stacey is a natural cook using the 'pinch and dash' method. My son, James, loves to cook creating his own dishes. I may not like to cook, but I love to eat meals they prepare. And, yes, I offer to do clean up.

    For this Grammy to spend time in the kitchen with her granddaughters is pushing me out of my comfort zone and into the 'let's make memories' mode.

    "What do you girls want for dinner?" I often ask.

    "I'll cook dinner, " eagerly exclaims Sydney.

    Wow, my mother never heard those words. At eleven she takes on the cooking with gusto. Gabby is soon joining us in the tiny kitchen asking for a task as well.

    "I can stir," she calls to me on her way to get her stool.

    Soon pans lids are clanging and yummy smells are filling the kitchen. It is a good thing happening amid the steaming pasta and bubbling sauce.

    "You can each make your own cookie dough," I informed the girls before Christmas.

    Soon two big bowls of chocolate chip cookie dough sat on the kitchen counter. Enthusiasm grew as the first two batches were placed on the wire racks. Cookie sheets into the oven. Cookie sheets out of the oven. After the second batch, I noticed that I was the only one shoveling cookies. The excitement of breaking eggs and stirring the dough had passed. First warm cookies had been eaten. The sink was full of bowls, spatulas and measuring utensils. Memories of dried mashed potatoes in Mom's old aluminum pot stood before me once again.

    "Hey, whoever cooks gets to help clean up," I shout in an enthusiastic voice.

    "I'll wash," cries Gabby on her way to retrieve the stool.

    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, cooking with granddaughters and warm woolen mittens...these are a few of my favorite things.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Is there a 'P'?

    _ _ _ _

    I ask, "Is there an 'A'?"

    Without a word she drew the circle.

    "Is there a 'B'?"

    The circle gained an ear.

    "How about a 'P'?"

    In the first blank, she wrote 'P'. I knew at once that the other three letters were 'ONY'. Well, I knew when we started playing that the word was "PONY". Every day while we sat in the car waiting to pick James up from preschool, Stacey and I play Hangman. Every day she chose the same word. I changed my strategy from day to day just to keep her interest. Once in awhile, I actually completed the man dangling at the end of a rope.

    A few years ago I was looking for a game for my daughter and family. I came across the game that my mother had taught me to play when I was a little girl sitting in church, the boxed edition of Hangman. In picking up the box, I was surprised at the repulsion I felt holding a game in which an imaginary person was hanged.

    I decided to find out just how far back the game could be traced. It seems that it dates back to the Victorian age in England being first mentioned in a work by Alice Gomme titled Birds, Beasts and Fishes. The year was 1894. This game reflecting another era is still played today.

    "Grammy, can we play Hangman?" my granddaughter asks as we sit in the car waiting for her sister to get off the school bus.

    "Sure we can," I answer.

    No longer do the figures consist of just circles and sticks. No, now they have hair, clothing and anything we can think of to keep the spelling game going.

    "Gabby, what kind of person are you drawing?" I asked looking at the strange person on the gallows.

    "It's an elf, Grammy,"  she replied. Hm. I wonder if we missed something at Christmas? Hm.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Little Bird

    They wait by the bedside. They wait. The tubes and needles are gone. They wait constantly saying good-bye.

    An illness has taken him to this place, this place of dying. He has lost all, literally all. A handsome man in his forties is finished with his long struggle with depression. A sweet man who lost his home, his wife, his daughter, his livelihood, lost himself as well.

    Jeff sat on the front row of the auditorium. The memorial for my ex-husband brought past students there to remember a time when they were younger, bonding in rehearsals for a musical. Teenagers blending together creating a new family that formed with each production.

    After the memorial, Jeff invited those interested back to his home. In just a couple of hours, I found out that this man was a sweet, gentle spirit. We talked and laughed like old friends, those who bond over a moment in time. I saw him only twice after that night. Little did we know then what fate would befall this beautiful man.

    His parents sit by his bedside. Waiting. Waiting. All tubes and mechanisms to keep him alive have been removed. A child, their child is leaving them. The difficult decision is behind them. His suffering in life is fading as he steps into the peace of death.

    There was no brain activity. The pain of living for this once boy, young father, creative spirit is finally silenced. As a parent, I can think of no more painful decision to make. We are mothers. We nurture, we feed, we teach, we comfort. But life is not in our hands. We hand it over to our children. We hand them over to God.
    A friend sleeps, lingering for awhile before he goes home.

    Little Bird

    I set you free, little bird
    from your nest, lovingly I lift you
    and set you free

    No longer will your song fill the emptiness
    No longer will you nestle in the bosom of your home

    I set you free, little bird

    You stopped and questioned my actions
    then understood the pain of losing you

    I set you free, little bird

    Because you asked me to, I set you free.
                                 - for you, Jeff. Peace.


    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Song of the Wind

    The wind blew and the bottles sang. Nature made known her voice. They sang in harmony joining in a voice singing to the ocean, singing with the ocean.

    A couple of years ago on a visit to see my sister in Key West, she suggested that we go to an exhibit at the local gallery. She explained that it was a bottle exhibit. Bottles were placed on the ends of poles and whistled when the wind passed by. My enthusiasm did not peak. Who among us had not blown across the top of a pop bottle to hear the sound once more? My granddaughter's and I can't pass up the chance.

    We walked to the gardens behind the small gallery sitting on the shore. A variety of blue bottles were turned upside down on the spikes of the fence. There was little wind. The garden was silent.

    For awhile we lingered in the garden hoping that there would be more than just bottles on sticks. At first a single note resonated. More and more notes began to fill the air. The blue bottles seemed to take up a life of their own blending sounds that were at times almost human. We stood alone in the garden with the music our only company. The bottles matching the blue of the water, the simplicity of this piece of art were as lovely and moving as a painting by the masters.

    It was indeed interactive art. One could not but help interact with the song of the wind. One creating harmony with many. The song of the wind. The song of mankind.

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    The View From the Car

    School was out. Young women walked down the sidewalk carrying babies or pushing strollers. Very young women. The school is an alternative high school for struggling kids and kids with babies. My heart ached.

    Recent statistics show that the birthrate for teens is down. Can it ever get down far enough? I know women who literally grew up with their children. A matter of maybe 15 years separating mother from child. Grandparents at the age when they should think about being parents. Nothing new. Just a same cycle repeating from the beginning of time.

    I'm not so sure that it is a case of teaching kids birth control. I'm not sure it is about teaching boys to be responsible. It is all of that in part, but there is so much more.

    What do I think? Well, as I type, I'm trying to decide what I think. Soooooo, this will involve some thinking out loud.....rambling typing. Today I had coffee with a past student. She is a talented young woman who was never supported in finding herself. I can relate. I was one of those kids as well. My parents never believed that a career in the arts would be financially solid. And, they were right, but there is a voice that calls out in each of us to follow. We know there are doors but have no idea how to enter them. We know that other people do what we want to do, but we don't know how to get there. Again....rambling.

    My parents didn't have the finances to support me in a career in the arts. No one where and when I grew up actually thought of the arts as more than a pastime. We all have a voice calling us to do something, something in us the day we were conceived. It is a voice that won't be denied.

    My granddaughter is going to a school that encourages her to explore her talents. We encourage the girls to think about what they love most to do and do our best to give them the tools to do it. Maybe in essence we are teaching them to love themselves, discover themselves so that they can make smart decisions. Finding friends who have common interests gives kids community. Parents supporting that community imprints on their children.

    Yes, they will all have hormones raging. They will all experiment with these new emotions. But I think that if we give them a strong feeling of support, a strong feeling of self-worth, that they will perhaps make better decisions in all areas of their lives.

    Maybe it wouldn't make a difference at all. I don't know. I know that if I had found an outlet for my artistic passion at that age, nothing would have stood in my way. I know that if I had parents who supported me in my journey into myself, my rebellious years would have been different. Parents can make a difference.

    So goes the rambling of a woman who watched young women walking down the sidewalk with babies in arms and their dreams on hold.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Treasure Hunt

    "Grammy, this is hard," my youngest granddaughter said as she sat doing her homework.

    "Yours isn't as hard as mine is," her older sister quickly tossed back.

    "Okay, listen up you two," I said. Both girls looked at me probably wondering what boring thing I would say next. It might be boring, but at least I had their attention.

    "We aren't quitters," I began. "You expect too little of yourselves."

    I knew my time of 'attention keeping' was short. I knew that I needed to keep it simple.

    "Do you know what I mean by genes?" I went on to explain that we all carry talents and gifts through our genes. We have the power to do things we may not realize, but we need to try. It's fun to try.

    Our family history tells us about who we are, what we can do. Investigating our past can make our present richer.

    "We have had family members who were actors, singers, artists, musicians, writers. You have those gifts from both sides of our family."

    The girls' blank looks told the story.

    "Let me put it another way. I knew I could sing. I knew I could act. I knew I could write. I didn't know that I could draw until this year. We don't know what we can do unless we try."

    "Does that mean that I can do that?" asked Gabby.

    "Honey, we already know that you can paint and draw. You can both write. You both have gifts just like the other members of our family had long ago. There are things you can do that you haven't discovered yet."

    I had their attention. I went on to explain that by learning, they will find those talents. By trying, they will find their gifts. Learning is exciting and fun even if it is hard at times.

    My time had run out. The girls tackled their homework with new energy. It could be because I inspired them or that they just wanted me to shut up, but every day since, the same enthusiasm for their work is there.

    So I'm in my sixties and a grandma. I am trying on my gifts as well. I want to be an example for my grandchildren. I want to inspire them to say, "I can." I wonder what I will try next.

    We are a treasure trove. The treasure will remain hidden unless we turn the key and open the chest. There is no failure only adventure. Let's take our grandchildren on a treasure hunt.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Shoes That Tie

    "He couldn't even tie his shoes," she said. "At his age, he should know how to tie shoes. He told me he didn't need to know how. He had velcro fasteners!"

    Ah, already we are seeing things pass into "I remember when". Shoes that once tied are becoming those that slip on, velcro and even those that zip. Tying shoes just might be a thing of the past. I can't complain. I hated lacing up new shoes. I never could tie a bow that stayed tied for long. Even now I double knot.

    My granddaughters and I sat in the car while my daughter ran in to the store. Across the way a man sat beneath coin phone that hung on the wall.

    "Hey, girls, look at that phone," I said. "Someday those phones will be gone. You will no longer see one."

    "Where will they go, Grammy?" Gabby asked.

    "Honey, they will be a thing of your past."

    No longer do phone booths stand along the streets. More and more people are turning to cell phones instead of the standard home phone. Ah, times be a changing.

    Gabby does her homework. I try to help. A story problem requires her to subtract. She sits there quietly thinking.

    "Why don't you write it down, Honey?" I suggest. By the time the question has left my lips, she has written down the answer. She is using the computer in her head. An equation on paper is obsolete.

    We play board games on the TV, type on our phones and talk on computers. My granddaughters' will not find many of the changes in their lives on the shelf of an antique store. I'm fascinated with this passing history so different from mine.

    Glimpses of yesterday are here today.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    In My Hands I Held My Life

    I am doubling my blogs today. I wanted to share this as well as the following blog both from my Neff Road Blog. 

    Before my eyes, I beheld a wondrous sight. A gift. A gift far beyond a Christmas present. In my hands I held my life, a dream come true, a reality of what I do. I didn't know I would feel this way. Do all writers feel this way? Maybe. But this was something more. This was the story of my parents, my childhood, a road in rural Ohio. I held a history of another time and the love of a child for the people and the place on Neff Road. My son and his wife had given me my first book. They may not realize that truly they have given me something more.

    Often I have thought of writing a book but was never sure there was a book in me. Yet here in front of me was proof that it could happen. My grandchildren were thrilled to see my blogs in book form. Grammy wrote a book.

    "Can I read it?" asked Gabby.

    I knew she wouldn't....not now, but some day this book will tell her about her grandma and the place she loved. She will learn about the people on Neff Road and about a farm. Sixty years of life residing in three hundred thirty-three pages. A history of another place and time.

    I am humbled as I hold the book. A lump forms in my chest holding in my hands the memories I love. My mind spins. "This is me," I tell myself.

    What will happen with this little book? I will work it a bit more and make copies for my family. Maybe I'll even go for a second edition. Maybe some day my great grandchildren will learn about a little girl on Neff Road.

    I received a beautiful present. My family receives their history.

    A Grey Matter

    For those of you who read this on my Neff Road Blog, you can skip reading this blog today. I am posting what was written last Friday because I think it is important. Thank you for checking back. Last week was quite a mixed bag ranging from an unexpected trip to Seattle to illness. It is a new year, so let's get started.

    I wasn't going to write today, but a thought occurred. From the missing of loved ones? From the passing of another year? Whatever the source, this thought needed a voice.

    Yes, my friends, we all get older. Those of us over 60 know that the body aches and does not always cooperate. The thought we had in one room is gone when we get to the next. The grey and white hairs have become the natural color. Our families are requiring less of us. Many of us have lost dear ones. Some of us have had our struggles this last year. But I have good news. There is hope for the year 2011.

    More and more I think of the wisdom I have gained regardless of the things I have lost. I embrace the knowledge that has come from loss. I embrace the me who has evolved over these years. I have a brain, folks! I have a brain that has barely been tapped. The grey matter in my thick head (as some would say) has only begun to be explored. Now how exciting is that news?!

    My younger years consisted of growing up, marrying, raising children. I didn't have time find what I believed sorting through everything I'd been told. I didn't have time to think of me and my place in the world. I barely had time to think of the world.

    We may be older, but we are considered younger. The longevity of life has lengthened. So we need to grow with it. I have friends who are senior citizens who have conquered Facebook in order to keep in touch with old friends and new. Other friends are authors. Some have working careers. I'm not sure we knew that we could still be valuable after a certain age. I don't think we have allowed ourselves to embrace this thing of aging.

    Millions of dollars are spent in diet programs, face and body lifts, botox, hair color....everything to make us look younger. Well, I'm not younger. You can dress up a dog, but it's still a dog. We may be older, but we still have a great deal to contribute and to learn. Why stop now?

    I have often wondered why nursing homes don't supply voice recorders for residence to record their family history....their stories. Slide projectors and video recorders can help keep the memories alive and awaken new part of the brain. Volunteers can assist the elderly in stretching their minds, by sharing their stories. A family tree can consist of more than just names and dates. It can consist of personalities and stories. The residence homes are full of incredible history...history we can all appreciate. We are creative and full of wonderful thoughts and ideas.

    My hands are painful and hurt. I can not hold a pen for long, so I type. The computer has become my paper and pencil, my tool for expression and communication. I started on the computer when I was in my late forties. My first fear of tackling this new technology was soon dismissed when I found that I could figure it out myself. I just had to say "I can".

    We have a gift, older generation. We should know by now that fear is a frame of mind. We should know that adventure has no age limit. We are of value. The grey matter might be a bit fuzzy, but the more the fuzz is removed, the clearer the light. What a wonderful thing to discover that we are on a new adventure. We can read, write, explore our thoughts and share. We can be new again by expanding our brains.

    A new year is just hours away. Enthusiasm for each day of our lives is at hand now. Come on, adventurers. Let's make 2011 the year we make a difference.

    Happy New Year, my friends.