Monday, August 31, 2009

Living in the Past

I don't know why my mind has been "harking" back to the past so much these days. Last night my dreams were filled with my grandmother, my mother and my Aunt Florence and Uncle May. No, that's not a misprint, his name was Arnold May Sellers and I believe it was a family name...he was called May. In my dream I could see them all and chatted with them as though I were 8 years old again and in the center of their hearts. By the way, all these beloved people are no longer on this side of the veil.

Like I said, the past has been on my mind quite a bit lately and yesterday while chatting with Lee I asked her if she remembered the Betsy McCall paper dolls. She assured me that she remembered them well, having played with them at her grandmother's house. I remember playing with my Betsy McCall on the floor of our apartment in Washington, DC. I was about 4 at the time, and I know you find it hard to believe that I can remember these things, but I do. I remember my toy ambulance with working lights and sirens from that era, too. But Betsy was special. I had my little scissors (metal not plastic) and waited eagerly for my mother to finish the magazine so that I could acquire my "pasted to hard board" Betsy some lovely new clothes. Now, my mother sewed, she and all her sisters learned to make their own clothes when Home Ec meant just that. Home Economics! Mama sewed beautifully and collected patterns for our clothes from McCall's huge drawers located in the cloth shops she frequented. Betsy's dresses were often found in the deep long drawers located under the cutting tables. So yesterday, Betsy was as real in my mind as she had once been in my hands.

Cooties. Do you remember the game Cooties? Doesn't sound very nice, does it? But it was a game along with so many others...the card games we learned like Old Maid, War and Rook. I loved it when my older sister Holly would come down off her high horse long enough to play a game of Rook with her annoying little sister. It never lasted long, but I felt special while it was going on. We played Monopoly, of course. It was the lucky player who wound up with not only Boardwalk, but Park Place , too. Usually that indicated a winner...but not always! And the year I got my really nice Bingo set with the turning basket and genuine bake lyte bingo! I was forever trying to get a game of Bingo organized!

But Scrabble has forever and always been my favorite game. I introduced it to my boys as soon as they learned to spell. First it was Scrabble Junior, then they became such good spellers that we packed it away for the real deal. While some families get together to play poker, we crowd around a Scrabble board. Now, Arianna is included in this fast paced game of words and meanings. Lee and I play online nearly everyday. It's something I look forward to.

But of all my toys of the past, Betsy McCall stands out in memory and I can't say why. I don't know why. But I found her online last night and she's about to become mine again. Of course, I'll let Arianna play with her. I want her to have such a memory, too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Why I'm Sporting a Shiner...And Alla answers

The Porch...before the glider!

This is a story about clumsy. Clumsy is as clumsy does. And it's also a story about Good Sister. You all remember my wonderful Good Sister, my sister of the heart, not sister of the blood? She of Quincey fame (a lady Medical Examiner) and morgue intrigue? Well, I am happy to say that she is back on the dating scene and seems completely over the lying miserable cad who captured her heart then stomped all over it with his big hobnail wait, he wore Harris Tweed jackets and blue jeans, so perhaps they were just boots, no hobnails...the lying dog (sorry to dogdom) who claimed to be single but was NOT. Makes me grit my teeth and ball my fists just to think of it. (And go in search of my gun for crying out loud!) Cad was not my word of choice, but my granddaughter reads this blog...have to use some decorum.

So anyway, once I convinced Good Sister to stand on her back porch and scream "NEXT" and many nights on the phone listening while she cried, suddenly one day she didn't cry. She talked about going out. And gave me the gentleman's name and car description and tag number. Okay, you gotta know that women who have anything to do with law enforcement know what type of world we live in and that we trust if I don't hear from her I know whose car she left in complete with tag and color and car body condition...and we have a picture of said date in my data's the way we roll. So anyway, just as I keep up with Good Sister's social life, she keeps up with my physical one.

So she calls me on Thursday night to tell me that she is going out, who with, and where...I ask about the two kittens she got from me (named Tweedledee and Tweedledum) and she says they are doing fine and she is making introductions to Shadow and Butch (her two dogs). She asks me what I have been up to. Since I am a mass of bruises and pain, I hesitate. She hears the hesitation in my voice.

"What have you done?" she asks. "I don't want to tell you, you'll fuss, " say I. I can see her eyes narrowing, through the phone. "Don't make me come over there, because I will, you know!" Yes, I know. I laugh nervously. "Well, I sort of...okay okay...I fell. I fell really hard."
"You FELL? Where? Did you go to the hospital?" So I began to explain...

I can't leave anything alone. I am never happy with the arrangement of a room or a porch or even a yard. I rearrange furniture and plants and decorations. Mac says it's a good thing he's not blind, he'd never know where to find his chair. He pities Mindy Lou (the blind dog) although she adapts quite well to my madness. The glider that was under the big Sweet Gum tree with several chairs had caught my eye. Mac was cutting grass and I took it in my head to move the glider onto the front porch. It would be much more convenient for sitting. So I went down and took the big thing apart and moved it piece by heavy piece to the front porch. I took the small table and two yard chairs down to replace the glider. Mac wasn't amazed that I had managed to do this while he was cutting grass. He wasn't even surprised. He just wondered what had taken me so long to get a wild *ss idea about the accoutrement's of the front porch.

So Wednesday morning he tells me that he wants to go to Bethune (a small town in Kershaw County near us) to get a replacement bowl for the birdbath. I'm chattering away, grabbing my purse and happy to be going to the huge concrete yard where I can browse and buy, walk out the front door when suddenly I feel myself falling and sliding and head bouncing off wood. Mac is suddenly next to me, helping me to turn over and I see his face and it is white. He is looking at my head. "Oh my GOD," he says, " are you alright? Your head has a goose egg the size of Cleveland on it!" I begin to tick off the signs of concussion as he helps me to my feet...I didn't lose consciousness, I am not nauseous...I rush into the guest bath and look into the mirror...pupils are normal...but MY GOD! The bulge on my head gives me pause. And terror. I quick like a bunny (been waiting a long time to use that term) hurry to the kitchen and grab my ankle wrap from the freezer...and apply it to my head! Mac is behind me as though he is going to catch me in case I fall. Where was he ten minutes ago I want to ask...testily! But I don't. He's worried enough as it is.

"So, " I am telling GS, "I tripped on the footing of the glider...I had just earlier decided I needed to move it down further away from the front door but hadn't done it yet. I caught my foot and the only thing that saved me from sliding on down the steps was the gate at the end of the porch. My head broke the slide." I laughed. She didn't. "Did you go to the hospital?" I heard her demanding to hear a yes to her answer, but she didn't get it. "The darnedest thing, " I began and she interrupted..."DID YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL?"

"Ummm...well, no...not really. You see when I kept peeping under the ice wrap I could see the bulge going down and then Marty Horton showed up out of the blue!" (Marty is a Paramedic I had once worked with , one I hadn't seen in two go figure that one out!) "So I say to Marty, boy am I glad to see you! I told Marty what had happened and he looked at the knot on my head, the bruises on my shoulder, the scrape on my knee shined a light in my eyes and pronounced me capable of going and sitting down without fear of dying right away. But he told me if anything changed, head ache or nausea , loss of consciousness...get to the ER immediately...okay?"

She allowed as to how since it had happened the day before and I was still as sassy as ever, she supposed it was okay. "But, there is I have a black eye, " I told her.
You know, I could hear her pulling keys out of her purse, walking down steps, car door opening...and I knew she had to see this one for herself! God may have sent me Marty, but nothing takes the place of a sister.

Me...sporting my shiner...sans makeup!

And an addendum to this post, from my new dear friend Alla, I just wanted to share it with you all!

Dear Sandi,when I saw "Hello, Alla" in your blog, I was amazed ,and this page appeared the whole week ago,the time flies, I`ve just listened to the music in your blog. And I was reading this story in tears, I remember your mother and her kindness to me, I was so sorry when she fell ill and when Toni informed me of her death on 28.06.01.I can`t stop crying even now.
Yes, I am reading your book every evening, I am finding a lot of interesting and wise thoughts and ideas about life in them.Oh, I am saying Thank you very much for the dedication of this page to me!
And the story about school room desks seems unreal but the idea is great, and the teacher is a genius .The WW2 in my country is called The Great Patriotic War, 20 million people were killed, and children must know who paid their young lives for the possibility for the children of future generations to take their seats at the school desks.You did the right thing of passing this story on.
Yes, blog is a good idea when you have what to say to other people.I`ll think about it.
I am still very awkward at the computer. I hope I`ll learn soon.
By the way, it was Tony who we began to communicate with, then she shared my letters she found funny with your mother, I called her Grace. She had such an ideal, beautiful handwriting.
I`ll tell you why the title "the crazy cat lady" appeals to me so much, that`s because I had a cat, his name was Kuzma( the stress on the last letter) and he lived 19 years with us then he died in my hands, it was a real grief. I said I would never ever keep any animals in my home, but my son brought two rats ,bought them in a pet-shop. Now feeding them.They would be absolutely nice if not their ugly tails.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Welcoming Alla

I find that the older I get, the less it takes to make me happy. In my youth possessions and the acquiring of them gave me blissful moments. I could take a lovely crystal snowball into my hands, turn it to catch each facet of light, examine every nuance of color that erupted as the sun burst upon the surface and smiles would wreathe my face. That it belonged to me made me the happiest. That it was beautiful came in second. If I somehow lost or broke the object of beauty, it would bring me the strangest sadness. The sadness never lasted long because there was always something prettier, something harder to attain that would make me happy again. That was me as a selfish teenager. When I married I treasured my young husband for who he was, as well as what he was. It was a partially grown up feeling. I had just turned twenty. At twenty three when I held my first born son, the feelings that came over me were overwhelming. I couldn't stop looking at his tiny hands and feet, at the abundance of dark hair that covered his head, at the smiles he offered so soon and so often.

My second born brought me just as much joy and I marveled at how his face worked when he slept. His eyelids would twitch and his lips would echo the involuntary movements of those heavy lashed pale lids. I always wondered if he was dreaming. We were not sophisticated parents who spoke in full sentences of Mr Shakespeare or news of the world. We babbled baby talk and goo goo faces were the theme of the first two years. I treasured my babies and my husband above all else. I was finally grown up.

As they grew up and grew away, my friends became new treasures to me. Some I have kept for years, others have moved away and out of our lives. While we miss them, that we have lost contact is not life threatening. Should we hear from them again we would take up where we had left off. Maturity came along unexpectedly.

Mama had a pen pal that I believe she shared with my sister, Toni. Her name was Alla and she grew to love this young Siberian mother as she loved the many people who came into her life. She loved people above all. We learned from example. Mama wanted to send Alla things that would benefit her in life. She loved sending her little gifts and loved the gifts that Alla sent to her, as well. Her nesting dolls (she has several sets) were her treasures. After Mama died, I missed Mama's stories of Alla her friend who lived in Siberia. One day not so long ago, I mentioned to Toni that I wondered how Alla was doing. Imagine my surprise to learn that Toni still kept up with her and her family. She told me that she had sent Alla a copy of my book and from there that Alla was now reading my blog. It made me so happy to know that Alla was well and now had a computer of her own with which to keep up with the world! I only wish that the technology had been such when Mama was alive. What joy it would have given her to talk to her dear friend on a daily basis.

So, I have grown considerably from the child that I once was where things were important and people were afterthoughts. I am so thankful for a loving teaching family of Grandparents and Parents who taught us that ownership may be nice, but friendship is more constant.

I'd like to say "hello Alla! " I welcome you warmly to blog land and encourage you to start a blog of your own. I'll be a faithful follower!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August 4th...Or Supergirl's Ordeal

So as I posted last, Supergirl had her little operation yesterday. We received a call at 4:30 a to tell us no need for a wakeup call..."Grandma, I'm on my way to the hospital, so don't call to wake me up. Are you and Grandpa going to come here?"

I assured her we would be on the way soon. We left here about 8 a and headed up to Florence to McLeod's Hospital.

She still hadn't been taken into surgery but we weren't allowed to go up to holding. Going into the cafeteria, we got coffee and a roll and waited for Michael and Anna to come down. They joined us at 10:30 to tell us that she was talking up a storm as they wheeled her towards surgery. Typical Arianna.

So, here is Supergirl, not a happy camper, but a brave strong girl who never cried once. I can't figure out why hospitals only have grape and orange Popsicles. Would banana be such a budget breaker? Or raspberry? Or cherry?

Thanks all of you, my pals, for being concerned about our little sweetie...her mom and dad enjoyed reading all your comments. She will be reading them for herself soon.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Day of the Tonsils...Removal In Progress

The Grandgirl has an important date with destiny on Monday, the 3rd of August. Following in the footsteps (throatprints?) of her forefathers and mothers, her tonsils have become her worst enemy. We have family stories about the trips to hospitals to have the offending appendages removed. None are pretty. No names have been changed. No one is innocent.

I was in the fourth grade. Having just gotten over my umpteeth bout with tonsilitis, I was told that we had to do something about the situation. Nothing was explained as to just what we were going to do about it, but the whispered conferences between parents and grandparents became more intent after the last round of penicillin shots and being chased down by the Grandmother so she could "mop" my throat. You see, there was a medication back then called Gentian Violet. My grandmother found it to be the best antiseptic for throats since Merthiolate. If you said your throat was sore, out came the big purple bottle and the big cotton swab. She's say, "open wide, let me look at those tonsils" and Bob's your uncle, you found yourself gagging and spitting purple. It dyed your entire mouth, teeth included. We dared not admit to a sore throat within her hearing. If anyone was being asked if their throat was sore by Mammy, there would be another grandchild behind her signaling like a demented windmill to say nothing!

Daddy said that Mammy was going to kill one of us with the Gentian Violet one day. I remember once when I returned home with purple teeth him saying to my mother, "she does know that's horse remedy for wounds, right?" Mind you, this is the same woman who gave us turpentine on sugar cubes before we went into the woods to prevent redbug infestations. I fully understand the concept of old wives tales and for the life of me, don't understand how so many of them attained the distinction of old wives.

So one day, Mama picked me up early at school. She told me we were going shopping. And we did. She bought me the cutest pair of pajamas and a nifty robe. Now, we were children who never slept in anything but our underwear and one of Daddy or Daddy Dwight's (the Grandfather) old teeshirts. Pajamas were considered a waste of money. When we left Belk's, Mama said we were going to visit Daddy at the Hospital. He worked at Hamlet Hospital, in Hamlet North Carolina with Dr. Bill James. So when we arrived, we went and sat in the office and Dr. Bill explained to me why I was really there. Okay, so there should be a cartoon of me about here......showing me with tears exploding out my eyes and wailing and foot kicking, arm thrashing and head twisting all going on at the same time. Okay, so after about 2 seconds of that (Mama had one of these looks that could wither a tomato on the vine) I agreed to the procedure but only if Daddy was the one who put me under. It was agreed all around and I was admitted. The next morning, the dirty deed was done and all hail the AMA, I was soon on the way to not being sick with tonsillitis ever again. Of course, my throat would still get sore every so often, but that's the way of life.

Michael was cursed with the same set of rotten tonsils as his mother. His ears stayed infected along with the tonsils and we were constantly at the Doc's. So, finally on his 12th birthday, they decided that the tonsils have to go. I took him to meet the surgeon, Dr. Firestein, who explained to Michael the situation he was now in. "You see Mike, your tonsils are your friends. They protect you by filtering out all kinds of bacteria and germs that would other wise cause you some sickness that we'd have to treat aggressively. " He pulled down a chart showing a little army, complete with helmets and guns, that was supposed to be the last defense of the body fort. He looked at Michael and said, "the bad news, son, is that your army has defected. They've turned on you, boy plain and simple. We need to pull out, now." And so that night, Michael was admitted to the hospital and the offending army was annihilated.

Arianna has had the misfortune to inherit the dreaded defecting army. We have known this for a while now. Michael and Anna have put off the surgery about as long as they can. The snoring and sleep apnea from the swelling has finally put paid to the situation. So on Monday, the last shot in the war against sore throats, inflamed adenoids and achy ears will be fired. We were going through some paper work today and I came across a card that I had written to Michael on the occasion of his Tonsillectomy. I wrote this (black ink as befits the occasion) for him to cheer him up:

On the Occasion of Michael's Tonsillectomy

Where oh where have my tonsils gone?
where or where can they be?
my throats on fire and my spitter don't work
why did they do this to me???

The Doctor said they had to go
did it have to be so soon?
they were all in a rush to get me tied down...
here in this hospital room...

Oh, here they are my tonsils
old friends
they really aren't very far
bobbing around and having a swim
by the bed
right here in a jar

Love Mom

So I find this ancient card and show it to Mac, who reads it solemnly, looks up at me and says
"don't show it to Arianna till Tuesday."