I Know Her

Before my friend Elise becomes any more famous, I have one thing to say:  I know her.

The artwork of Elise Hylden, the illustrious writer/illustrator of our KEM GEM critique group,  was featured in the March/April 2013 SCBWI BULLETIN, the official publication of the Society of Chiildren’s Book Writers & Illustrators.  What better endorsement?

Anyway, take a gander at pages 26-29.  The illustrations are Elise’s.  I think you’ll agree — Elise has a bright future on the horizon.  Her imaginative creations already delight us.  We can’t wait until everyone can enjoy them.

Congratulations, Elise!  We’re so proud of you.  In the inspirational words of Buzz Lightyear: TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!

Habemus Papum!

Me about our new Pope, Saint Francis: “Habemus Papum!  See, I told you he’d be bald!”

My husband: “I hate to tell you this.  He’s not bald, short, tired-looking, or dark-skinned. Now I’ll have to be the man of your dreams.”

Me: “Well, the top of his head is bald.”

You’ll need to read the previous post to follow my madness.

Incidentally, two of our family’s most cherished photos were taken in Rome by the Papal photographer.

Our daughter’s adept at getting papal blessings.  She was blessed with an opportunity to meet Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1999 when she studied at the Angelicum in Rome.

In 2005, as newlyweds, our daughter and son-in-law returned to Rome to ask Pope Benedict XVI to bless their unborn child (“Katie”).

Now that she’s been blessed by the 263rd and 264th successors of Saint Peter, we wonder when our daughter will be planning her trip to meet the 265th successor, Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in person.

I get my papal blessings via the television.  I’m thinking there’s enough love and grace for everyone.  But, if I ever play the lottery, I’m gonna ask our daughter to buy the ticket.

Please pray for Pope Francis! I know he’s praying for us.


Oh, Papa!

We live in an exciting era as the people of the world watch to see who the papal conclave will elect as our Holy Father.  For the Catholic Church, it’s kind of like waiting to meet a blind date before an arranged marriage.  We don’t know who to expect, but we wait in eager anticipation.  We trust that those selecting him are listening to the Ultimate Matchmaker (the Holy Spirit) — the One Who knows the soul who will best represent our Bridegroom/Shepherd as Vicar of Christ on earth.

When he’s chosen, we’ll have two living popes — one interceding on our behalf and one to lead and feed us.  How cool is that?

“If he’s short and bald — kind of a Gandhi character with dark skin — I’ve already met him,” I told my husband.

“Oh?” He gave me his this-one’s-gonna-be-a-doozy look.

“Yeah, I dreamt about him.  It was so real.  He stood at the end of our bed.  He looked spent and in need of consolation, so I hugged him and said, ‘Oh, Papa.'”

“You were hugging a guy at the end of our bed?”

“He was our Papa.”

“You and your dreams,” my husband shook his head.  “I thought you dreamt about giant Chex party mix and a cobra.”

“No, that was this morning’s dream. My Pope dream was a long time ago.  Anyway, if he’s short and bald, with dark skin, I met him first — but probably at the end of his pontificate, instead of the beginning.”

“Did it occur to you, the giant Chex party mix this morning might mean you’re hungry?  And, the cobra came into your head when I pinched you to keep you from snoring.  Thank goodness you’re not a Cardinal or you’d be scoping the Sistine Chapel for the short, bald, tired-looking guy with dark skin.”

“I’d at least want to chat with him — or hug him to see if he feels familiar.  What’s wrong with that? Saint Fabian was chosen Pope because a dove landed on his head.”

Regardless of whether our new Pope matches the Papa in my dream, I already have a strong affection and empathy for him.  What a tough job, carrying the Church and the needs of the world on your shoulders.  Historians say that papal elections are the opposite of political elections.  No Cardinal in his right mind is thinking, “Oo! Oo!  Pick me!  Pick me!”

If he is the right candidate, he should sleep well during the conclave, because humility will keep him oblivious to his eternity-altering future. And, after the initial shock, he’ll probably sleep well as Pope, too, because he’ll be open to the grace to come, assuring him that he’s not sherpherding his flock alone.

“Come, Holy Spirit, come!”

Smells Like Grandma

Our son and daughter-in-law bought a new living room set.  My husband and I liked their old set more than our own, so we bought theirs and sold our set to our daughter and her family.

I overheard  our daughter-in-law compliment our daughter regarding how nice our old furniture looks in their home.  Our daughter smiled and said, “Yeah, ‘Katie’ says it smells like Grandma.”

I ran to open their four-seasons porch and sniffed with all of my might.

Oh, no! I have my own smell?

My daughter laughed.  “Yeah, Mom, everybody has a smell.”

Some of my most embarrassing moments involved aromas, but I didn’t know they imbedded into my couch.

My mind wandered to the time we were standing in a crowded line at the movie theatre.  An alarmingly loud noise came out of the backside of an elderly lady.  The crowd parted like she was Moses at the Red Sea, but the woman remained steadfast and expressionless. I remembered thinking, “If we play poker, I want her on my team.”

A younger lady, standing by the woman, calmed the collective shock and awe by laughing.  “Sorry,” she apologized, “Grandma’s hard of hearing. She probably thought that was silent.”

So, back to real time, I asked my husband to stand across the kitchen for a hearing test.  He jerked my chain by mouthing, “PEE YEW” and “who stinks?”.

Then, the scent of a woman permeated my nose memory–unfortunately, that of an odiferous gradeschool teacher.  She definitely had her own smell. She also balanced textbooks on her bountiful bust and said “pee can”  instead of “pecan”.  Somehow these facts seemed intertwined. I shuddered.

I don’t deserve my own smell.  I use unscented everything because my husband will go into sneezing convulsions–like that time I tried to sneak Sweet Pea Bath and Body lotion into the house and he opened all of the doors and windows to relieve his headache–during a snowstorm.  Anything my grandchild smells is the real deal–the real me.


So, what can I do so my smell doesn’t haunt my grandchildren’s olfactory memory forever?

It may be too late.  But here’s my last ditch Stamp-Out-Smelly-Grandma-Memories plan of action–unless you have a better idea.

I will:

  1. brush my tongue.  That’s what they do in nursing homes and at dog kennels.
  2. use the deodorant.
  3. use Depends during special occasions when I know I might laugh too hard.
  4. step away from the couch during any questionable intestinal activity.  If fact, I’ll go outside.  Any Grandma smells will be blamed on the neighbor’s dog.
  5. dab a little vanilla behind my ears for that fresh-baked smell. (Hey, it worked when we sold our last house.  And that’s when we still owned our Smelly Grandma  furniture.)

At least I’m evolving.  I used to Smell like Teen Spirit.  Have you smelled teen spirit?  It will give you a headache–fast.

Strategic Spontaneity V

When you’re two years old and your grandma says, “George, wanna go on a date?” you have no idea what she’s talking about, but you nod your head “yes” anyway.

This was the case with our fifth grandchild, “George”. For his spontaneous grandparent/grandchild date, he just wanted to play outside in the snow. He didn’t know about more complex options and I wasn’t about to volunteer them.

Easy, huh?

Well — no. Our date involved an hour of preparation:

  1. feeding George
  2. cleaning George, his chair, the table, and the three-foot radius around where George dined
  3. chasing and wrestling George out of his full-to-capacity diaper
  4. selecting George’s clothes
  5. selecting “diff’nt” clothes — George has definite opinions about onesies vs. regular
  6. chasing and wrestling naked George into clothes
  7. finding George’s snow pants
  8. getting snow pants on George
  9. finding snow pants “Gamma” can wear
  10. squeezing Gamma into snow pants
  11. realizing Gamma has to use the bathroom
  12. peeling snow pants off Gamma, then squeezing them on again
  13. putting coat on George
  14. putting coat on Gamma
  15. putting cap and boots on George
  16. hot flash — taking coat off Gamma
  17. putting mittens on George
  18. finding gloves — George doesn’t like mittens
  19. putting gloves on George, most of his fingers in one finger space
  20. putting coat, boots, cap, and gloves on Gamma

George did the snowpant shuffle into the garage and emerged with a shovel and a rake. I shoveled snow.  He raked it back on the sidewalk and driveway.  Somehow, this made perfect sense to George.

I forgot my iPhone in the house and wasn’t about to rearrange my snow gear to retrieve it, so I tracked mud and snow through the entrance and kitchen. Then I crawled out backwards, wiping the floor with wet paper towels.

Whoever says our masculine or feminine nature is molded solely by our environment should explain George. He came into a pink world of three sisters and foo-foo everything. He won’t have any of it.

I snapped three warm-up pictures before the stars aligned for the perfect shot — and my battery went dead.  George was happy.  Gammas are more fun with dead phone/camera batteries.While we played in the snow, George’s four-year old sister “Sadie”  set up a “su-pwise” for us in the warm house. “It’s weady!” Sadie,  adorned in pink and purple flowered jammies and red and green snowman socks, motioned to us from the front door.

“Honey, you’re sick,” she gushed, mothering George out of his snow gear.  She pointed to the couch.  “There’s your bed.  Lay down now and I’ll feed you. Cuz this is a hospital westauwant.”

Sadie had arranged 54 toy dishes, food, and utensils in neat rows on the piano bench and the piano.

“Let me give you your cough sywup,” Sadie poured pretend medicine into a plastic spoon.

George didn’t play sick patient like Sadie had hoped.  He dove straight for the dishes like a wrecking ball toward a popsicle stick house.

Sadie stopped gushing.  “Lay down or I’ll draw chicken pox on you!”

By the time I confiscated Sadie’s red marker, George had a bad case of marker pox.

“Gwamma! Can you take him outside again?” Sadie begged.

Since George pretty much demolished Sadie’s hospital restaurant,  Sadie had to be admitted (into what was left of her medical facility).  So Gwamma became Sadie’s nurse and the neighborhood reclamation expert.

Later George was banished to quality time with Papa and a wash cloth. The pals watched two and a half  minutes (George’s attention span) of This Old House, then loaded toy food and toy dishes into the Tonka truck with the Tonka loader.  This included plenty of saliva-spewing sound effects. (George’s saliva, not Papa’s.)

When Sadie’s sisters got home from school, the three females moved the hospital restaurant upstairs.

They quarantined George to stay away — and not because of his marker pox.  He didn’t even notice.  He just pulled me to the front door, pointed outside and said, “Date?”