Thursday, July 28, 2011

On My Mind

For some reason, today, I can't stop thinking about my Grandma Carol.  It's been five years, now, since she passed away.  I can't believe it's been so long since I've seen her.  I just realized, she would be 80 years old now.

She had a magic about her.  She moved through the world with such grace and love.  Anytime you were with her, she made you feel like the most important person in the world. 

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I lived in the same house my whole life, the same house in which my dad spent most of his growing up years.  When I was a senior in high school, my parents felt impressed to move away to Idaho.  We were then about 200 miles from all our Salt Lake family, my grandma included.  Anytime I tell people this they assume that this was a really hard thing for me to do, moving my senior year of high school.  And to them I always say that if my parents had forced me to go, it probably would have been, but my dad would always say when the topic of me moving to Idaho arose, "We'll do what's right."  I was dead-set that the right thing was for me to stay in Utah and graduate with all my friends.  My friend Erin's parents offered me a place to stay, as did my Grandma.  I was sure I was staying.

Eventually, I had another experience, which I won't go into right now, that opened my mind to the possibility of moving.  I realized that I could make a whole new set of friends if I moved.  I could be the mysterious "new girl" for the first time in my life.  And I'm sure I was not conscious about it then, but I probably wouldn't have had a very easy time without my family around me.  I have an awesome family.  And so, I decided to move.

Why am I telling you this story?  Because today, in one of the many moments I felt my Grandmother's grace alight on my heart, I realized how blessed I was to make the choice to move to Idaho.  I think, had I stayed in Utah, that I would have lived, not with my Grandma Carol, but with my friend, Erin.  Her house was closer to everything... school, work, friends... and she was my FRIEND!  How cool would that be to live with one of my best friends?  (I didn't know at the time that living with friends has good points, but it is also full of challenges.)  So, I chose to move and with that choice came the opportunity of coming back to Salt Lake City to visit. 

From the time we moved in 1995 until the time my precious Grandma passed away in 2006, whenever we'd come back to Salt Lake (which was frequent) we would stay at her house.  For ten years I was graciously welcomed into her home.  And when I became a wife, she welcomed my husband as warmly as she did her own granddaughter.  When my children came along, she adored them and thrilled to have them in her house.  I know it's not easy to have small children in your house, especially when you're used to quiet, but her generous heart never faltered. 

When I was staying there for our family Christmas parties, I would help her in her preparations.  I would set tables, arrange relish trays, move chairs, decorate her Christmas tree, peel potatoes, cook hams, vacuum, shine sinks and make cookies.  She did so much that I was completely unaware of before I got the chance to be there for the prep.  It was my joy to help her and she always made me feel like she couldn't have done it without me, even though we both know that for all of my life before 1995, she did just that. 

Every year she would make her special clam dip.  She had a special fork that she kept at the back of her silverware drawer... it was her clam-dip-cream-cheese stirring fork.  She just liked the way it felt in her fingers... those fingers that I can still see holding that fork.  We had so much fun, laughing as we made ready for all those she so devoutly loved. 

She was, quite simply, the most delightful human being I've ever encountered on this earth. 

She had a poem framed in her kitchen window sill that her friend, Kaye, had written for her.  I've read it so many times, I don't think I could forget it if I tried.  It went like this:

Carol-
Your sunflower self,
of bosom earth,
so caring,
warms the weary world.

How true it was.  How true it is.  She continues to warm this weary world in the memory of anyone who knew her. 

I miss you fiercely, Grandma. 

Ella and Grandma Carol, 2002.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Because It Moved Me

A hundred years ago, I wrote about when I was going to our local sidewalk art show, and how much I loved my own original artwork that I've purchased.  Well, the sidewalk art show was this last weekend.  I only had about an hour to cruise around and view the lovely artwork, but I was going because I love it SO much.  There was one booth that is there every year, a guy who carves walking sticks with old-man faces.  This is not usually a booth that interests me, but my kids wanted to check it out, so in we went. As I was glancing around the booth, I turned to the south wall and saw the most amazing things.  There were only three of them, barn wood pieces painted with black and white portraits of Native Americans.  The one in the middle grabbed me.  I couldn't stop looking at it.  It was an old Native American man in profile.  He was looking far off.  He was aloof and ghost-like.  It reminded me of my grandfather who is 1/4 Cherokee (I think that's the right tribe...?). 

I spoke to the artist for a good 15 minutes.  He doesn't do many of these, never enough for a whole series.  The barn wood is difficult to obtain.  He uses real photographs of Native Americans from a book he has and he only likes to spend about an hour on each piece... just gets a feel for the shapes, shadows and highlights.  A.MAZ.ING.  I was entranced. 

As I chatted with the artist, I kept thinking I would walk away from the booth.  I got his email address so I could have him email me more of these pieces as he did them.  I was going to leave.  Every time I tried, I found myself worried to leave because what if somebody bought this piece?  I watched people walk into his booth and if they looked in the direction of my lovely old Indian man, I found myself stepping a little closer to it, to make sure they knew I was already interested in it.  I felt like it was mine and I had to defend it and protect it from everyone else. 

After the fourth or fifth time I tried to leave, and the fourth or fifth time I "protectively" stepped closer to it, I realized that if I didn't buy this and take it home, I would regret it forever.  And it only cost as much as a tank of gas in my van, for heaven's sake!

"I'm going to buy this right now," I told the artist.  "I can't leave it here." 

"Great!" he responded. 

I discovered I was out of checks, but said that he could take cards. (no power or phone lines, so I was surprised...)  He pulled out his "Jurassic" credit card machine... you know the ones you swipe on carbon paper?  Awesome.  He was all old-school.  I left with my Native American barn wood painting. 

I came home and hung it on a wall... perhaps a temporary spot, but I had to have it up.  I stare at it all the time.  Ella even said to me today, "Mom, why do you keep staring at that?" 

Because I love it and I can't help it... and that's how I know I made the right decision. 

(not a very good picture of it, but you get the idea... 
and you're just grateful that I posted a picture since it's not a forte of mine, right???)

Random Thoughts on a Monday Night

-My husband was in Louisiana for a week and I was living the single-mom life.  I don't like that.  I like being married and having my husband around.  He's awesome.  High fives for my awesome marriage and my kids' awesome daddy.

-There is something I want to do and I find myself gripped by fear about it.  I remember times in my life where I have pushed through fear and doubt.  I need to find that place in myself for this thing I want to do.


-Mac is at scout camp this week.  My son is at scout camp.  I forget he's gone and think I need to call him up for dinner or pick him up from his friend's house.  It's very weird.  I'm sure it will happen more frequently as the years press on.  He turned 11 on the 15th of this month.  How did that happen?  He wears a men's shoe... size 7 1/2.  What???  He's five feet tall.  WHAT?  He has armpit hair.  WHAT!!!!?   He's a real person and he's going to grow up to be this awesome funny human whom I LIKE and have fun with instead of this twerpy kid who I send to time out and who's mouth I wash with soap because he's a little sass-box.  Life is so weird.  And so awesome.

-Ella got a Toys R Us gift card for her birthday.  We redeemed it today and she had a grand time choosing her own gift.  She chose a wolf stuffed animal (wolves are her favorite animal), and a Magic 8 Ball.  I've chuckled endlessly to myself while I listen to Ella and Rohan ask it questions. 

            Rohan:  Ask it if I will go to outer space.
            Ella asks. 
            Magic 8 Ball: YOU CAN COUNT ON IT
            Rohan:  WOW!  I'm going to OUTER SPACE!!!
           
            Rohan: Ask it if I'll see aliens.
            Ella asks.
            Magic 8 Ball:  YES
            Rohan: I'M GOING TO SEE REAL ALIENS!!

            A minute later I've left the room and I'm washing dishes.  Rohan runs in screaming with excitement, "MOM!!!!  I'm going to BUILD my OWN rocket ship to get to outer space!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Those are the mommy-moments that make all those harder mommy-moments worth it.

-I made curry tonight for dinner.  I love curry.

-I got a new purse.  It's red leather.  It's HAWT.  I love it.

-Got my A/C fixed in my car a month or two ago and now it's not working again.  LAMESAUCE.  Seriously.  Makes me want to cry.... or kick something.