A Mother’s Day Rescue


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Things weren’t going well.  Haven’t been for a long time.  Spring chores have fallen far behind.  Among other issues, we have had a great deal of rain which grew weeds profusely while keeping me out of the garden.  I was beginning to despair of having a garden this year. 

Then came Mother’s Day and a convergence of generations–just ahead of the next round of storms.

One family arrived the night before and the other came that afternoon—eight in all.  The gardens didn’t stand a chance. They were quickly weeded and planted.

The men hung new shelves and fixed an amazing dinner.  Better Half replaced the small wooden ramp with concrete.  Youngest son gave me a Blackberry Curve.  Youngest Son #2 surprised all the women with flowers.  The Grands colored pictures for my “art gallery.”

While Youngest Son’s wife was loading the dishwasher, I thanked her for all the help and reminded her that it was, after all, Mother’s Day and she should take some time off to enjoy it.  Whereupon she replied, “That’s okay.  I don’t want you to work today because you’re the Supreme Mother.”  Well, the room went silent as everyone tried to figure out if she was praising me or cussing me.  Either way, I didn’t care because it was followed by the kind of hug a daughter gives when she means “I love you.”  And a lot of laughter.

Just a bit more proof of how very spoiled I am.  And how grateful I am for it.

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So Busy


 

100_3263The past week few weeks have been…well, challenging. Thankfully, we’ve had a refreshing bit of a reprieve the last couple of days and expect a less stressful week ahead. I am looking forward to going in fewer circles in the weeks to come.

Youngest Son and Better Half seemed to have gotten the truck fixed. Apparently, a new part bought to replace a broken part was defective—working intermittently, giving the illusion that the replaced part was not the original problem and making the defect difficult to locate.

Auto mechanics was so much simpler before computerization. A person could dismantle an engine and transmission, examine each individual piece, visually determine what was broken, worn, misshapen, unaligned. Then correct the problem with adjustment or replacement, reassemble everything and drive off merrily on your way. Now the problems are usually hidden in a sealed black box, a computerized module, that can’t be visually examined and often can’t be externally tested without specialized and expensive equipment that only professional shops can afford. The number of shade tree mechanics diminishes with each new drive train innovation.

Still, when a vehicle is paid off and loved as much as our old truck, it’s hard to give up on it–even when it’s too expensive to take it to a professional shop. So Better Half and Youngest Son have tinkered with it for the past three years. They refuse to be outsmarted by a fourteen-year-old technology. Time will tell if they’ve solved the riddle. I hope so, I’ve missed the old truck. It will be nice to be able to take the travel trailer on trips and down to the lake. And it will save the minivan thousands of miles of wear and tear.

While the men worked on the truck, Grands #5, 6, and 10 helped me with a few chores around the gardens and in the house. They filled the bird feeders, weeded the window boxes, cleaned the flowerbeds in front of the house, and started weeding the raised bed vegetable garden. I hope to get everything planted in the coming week.

Inside, the Grands helped with odds and ends. Grand #5 vacuumed. Then we made a late lunch and celebrated with the first picnic of the Spring. Afterward, they all helped clean up and then played the rest of the day. Well, not quite. Ten-year-old Grand #10 wanted to make dinner by herself. We started with canned chicken and noodle soup, then she scoured the pantry for additional foods and spices for added substance and flavor. She needed just a bit of supervision choosing the right spices and getting the right “dosages.” It was wonderful and nourishing. I look forward to watching her integrate her loves of cooking and science.

Last week I found a few got-to-have books. Among them was a single volume collection of Dick and Jane readers. Four-year-old Grand #10 learned to read “Look” and “Oh” in various combinations. He read them, first with help, then without, after they arrived on Friday and on Saturday he needed no help. Sight reading, for sure, but still reading. I bought a spiral bound pack of fifty index cards, glued an unbound card to the front cover and wrote “My Word Book” on it. Then I tied a small sharpie to the spiral with a red string. (Did you know some sharpies now come with rings on their caps so you can put them on a necklace or tie them to a notebook?)

I used a pencil and lightly wrote each word he could read on its own page to show him how to “collect” his words. He traced them with the sharpie. He’ll be writing without tracing in no time—just needs to get the hang of using lines. Every time an adult hears him read a new word without help two days in a row, the adult can give him permission to write the new word in his word book (which will double as flash cards later). Writing one word on the front and one on the back of each page in his book, he can collect 100 words. By then, he’ll be well on his way to reading. Grands #5 and 6 said they wanted word books too. I’ll have to buy them larger books. Both are accomplished readers already.

Grand #6 went home with both the Dick and Jane book and a book of science experiments tucked under her arms. They are on loan. I put one of my sticky address labels inside the front of the book to remind them that these books are mine. That means they will be extra careful with them, being sure to only handle them with clean, dry hands. But more importantly, it will keep one from claiming ownership and remind all that the books have to be shared with everyone in the house. I don’t expect to ever get the books back. (But don’t tell the Grands that. They might forget to take good care of “Grandma’s” books if they don’t think I expect them back.) These books will be well read and loved, then passed on to other Grands.

While I was loading the dishwasher, Grand #10 came twirling into the kitchen behind me. “Gwanma,” he said, “I am busy, busy, busy….  Do you know why I am busy? Fwom spinning awound!” 

Perfect summary of not just our day together, but of my last few weeks.

The Sun, My Gardens, the Birds, and I


The sun, warm and bright, took me by the hand and led me to my gardens.  Barren and overgrown, my little gardens hold Spring promise—and debris from the fall harvest and weeds and leaves and trash blown in on the winter’s winds.

When I can find the garden tools that the Grands have played with all winter, I will begin rescuing each container from its barrenness, mix in new life-giving compost, and cover with mulch until the frost is gone and seedlings are grown enough to be outside all night.

In the meantime, I reset the bird feeder poles and filled the feeders to the brim.  Cardinals and finches flocked to the garden-side feast.  The hummingbirds will be here soon. 

Rain will visit a few times during the next week, and the sun will be gone.  But today, we had a gentle visit, the sun, my gardens, the birds, and I.  

Ladybugs


I don’t know much about ladybugs except that “Ladybug” was my daughter’s nickname when she was very young, and it is now a granddaughter’s nickname. Nevertheless, my home is a haven for ladybugs—even on the first of January.

Every fall, they invade the house in hordes. What is the real term for a million ladybugs? Flock? Bevy? Herd? Gaggle? (No, I’m sure “gaggle” is just for geese.) Maybe the term is “Tickle.” That sounds good…a tickle of ladybugs. That’s what they do, you know. Tickle.

From Fall until Spring I find them meandering along the spines of my books, up and down my curtains, across the toe of my shoe. I’ve never seen any damage from their presence. They don’t bite. And they make me smile when we cross paths unexpectedly. So I leave them alone. It’s a peaceful co-existence.

Next Spring they will head back out to my garden and defend it against unwelcome bugs. They will crawl in and out of the leaves and blooms searching for their food—unwittingly pollinating the plants. Until then, I don’t know what they are living on. Not one thing in this house looks as though it’s been nibbled on by a single ladybug.

Every Fall when they first swarm into the house (maybe that’s what you call a million ladybugs: a swarm), there is an adjustment period in which they learn their place in the house. One morning around 4:30 a.m., a ladybug tickled me awake with its meandering march across the top of my left ear. A swat of my hand sent it flying. I have heard the telling crunch of a ladybug under my wheels and even poured them out of my coffee cup with the coffee. It seems to take a few days for them to learn where they shouldn’t be. Then they settle in for the winter and tend to stay just out of reach until the Spring exodus.

The next time the Grands come over, I will give them each a Mason jar and see who can catch the most ladybugs without killing them. Their numbers have dwindled in the past months, so it will be more of a challenge. We will count the captured critters, talk about them being beigey-orange instead of red, and wonder what they eat–all the while we will watch them crawl up and down the glass like restless teenagers looking for something to do. Then we will take the lids off the jars and let the ladybugs find their own way out. We’ll take bets on whose jar will be empty first. The winner gets the first popsicle. Then everyone else will get a popsicle too. Just in time to eat them on the long drive home….

I love ladybugs.