Posts Tagged ‘Grandchildren’

2021.January 1

My word for 2020 was “Discover” and it lasted for about two months before we found ourselves starting a two-week “lock down” that lasted through the end of the year, ten months later. I didn’t do much “discovering”.

It is now the first day of 2021. I have no word for the year. The only resolution I have is to be kinder and to be quicker to reach out to someone when they are hurting, sick, or bereaved. I probably could lose 25 pounds, too.

Today, I worked through grief by deep cleaning the bathroom. I have already rearranged the kitchen cupboards. Two days in a row, I have been out in the garden cutting the deadheads I didn’t get to in the fall because it’s currently warmer now than it was in October and November when I normally do those things. I closed the door when I worked in the bathroom, but I had help in the garden. Too much help.

His name is Ruger. Ruger Buhl’s Fall Surprise, per AKC records. He’s a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, born the 24th of September and hauled home to Oregon mid-November. He chews on all my plants which is not a good thing. I don’t know what is poisonous to puppies and what isn’t. I’m guessing peonies, primroses, asters, different salvias, and irises are not. I dug out all the foxglove in November. I know we have some arum in the corner flower bed that I will need to dig out because this dog is so mouthy – and because it is starting to show green shoots.

I have a stack of paperwork to filter through but no desire to. There’s a stack of sympathy cards, Christmas cards, and Christmas-cards-as-sympathy-cards to go through. I need to call my cousin in Montana back because the last time I spoke to her, I blubbered the entire two minutes. We have received so much support from Seventh Group Special Forces (Airborne) and I need to preserve all those commendations sent to us, specifically.

I need ideas to send gifts to my grandchildren who not only lost their father but who were taken from his home to live with their mother in Texas. She didn’t have custody when our son was living; he did. But she is the birth mother, and the law recognizes her first and the widow, second. I did decide I should put together three memory books of photos on Shutterfly. Monthly letters and cards. My daughter bought a subscription to Highlights Magazine for one of them. Is there a Pokémon magazine club? (Note to self: do the research).

I am not the only person grieving right now. I need to focus on taking care of myself, but also on helping my loved ones walk through their grief.

I don’t have a word for 2021. I have a sentence. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Disney World 2020, Levi in the middle with all of his children. ♥

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Grandma is worn out. Today was the last full day that the grandchildren will be here, and we’ve had some epic adventures. Let me just tell you about today (not because yesterday wasn’t exciting – we hiked part of Silver Creek Falls, caught crawdads and a snake (!), and ate pizza cooked on the barbeque – but because today is freshest in my mind).

Grandma and Grandpa live a few short blocks from The Bluff, which is shorthand for a certain scenic viewpoint in Oregon City that overlooks greater Portland, and the southeast suburbs. On a good day, you can see Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens, and nearly any day you can see the skyline of downtown Portland. The Bluff also overlooks a rather wild area known as Waterboard Park.

There’s a trail down the hill and through a neighborhood that puts you out just two blocks from Dairy Queen. There’s a road going the opposite direction that is a permanently closed road due to a long ago land slide that took out portions of the road. We have made several walks to the Bluff and home, but our day-to-day busyness has prohibited the steep hike down to DQ. Oh, and it’s been really, really, really hot.

Today dawned overcast and cool, so we decided the hike was a “go”. We told them all we were going to “go on a hike”, but we didn’t mention DQ. Not that it mattered any: they didn’t have a clue as to what a “DQ” was: no Dairy Queen where they live(!!). So off we went.


We weren’t twenty-five feet from home when their mother noticed a “Potato bug. Roly-poly.” They’d never seen a sow bug before, and were completely awed by how it rolled up “just like an armadillo” (they’ve never seen an armadillo before, either). Miss V. picked it up and carried it three blocks before we told her that she needed to set it free to go home.

We really just wanted her to walk faster and to watch where she was walking because the trail is a bit steep and tricky.

Then we hit the trail down. Down, down, down, through a neighborhood, and down again. I was worried about the major street we’d have to cross, but lo and behold: major construction! We were flagged across in no time and got to see big machinery with men in vests and hardhats riding around looking important.

Two blocks later, we were at Dairy Queen and the menu options were daunting: a dip cone? a plain cone? a small sundae and what flavor? The employees were wonderful and served up the cones as the kids decided: three small dip cones, one medium dip, one medium vanilla cone, and one small pineapple sundae.


Their parents will never be able to talk in code about Dairy Queen again.

We then hiked through a larger neighborhood to the foot of the closed road, which is behind the old National Guard Armory. It’s not a steep hike and there are benches on the switch backs. Wildflowers, but not much for animal life(a few fleeting birds). (Waterboard Park hosts coyotes and deer, we just didn’t see any.)

011This is possibly why the road was closed and the park was formed…

After lunch, Mom and three of the grands went on a short road trip, leaving Mr. Naturalist “Home Alone” with us.

Earlier, Grandpa made an “arrow” for this kid using a stick, string, and a barb from the black Hawthorne. Javan added a second barb on his own, and now he wanted to “hunt something” (but not a bird, because those are illegal- hi words). I suggested we try to find a slug, even though it’s been in the nineties for a few days, and very dry. We overturned every pot and empty planter and not a slug – until the very last one I have in the yard was upturned and – tada!: slug.

I was going to pick raspberries and didn’t stay to see the ugly results. Not that I care about slugs, but…

When I came back, I found Grandpa sitting inside his VW van, supervising the grandchild who was pulling up false dandelions with the nifty dandelion tool. Said child was earning ten dollars and Grandpa was looking pretty smug, like Tom Sawyer supervising the white-washing of a fence.


Even after the third grandson claimed his ten bucks, Grandpa was still feeling pretty smug about it.

It gets better: Mom left to go shopping for herself, and left us in charge of her precious children. Besides working the false dandelion angle, Grandpa put the others to work on the rotting log he dragged home one summer. This log has decorated my yard for several years.


There were three of them at work on the log at one time, but this is my favorite picture: the four year old with a hammer and lever. That concentration! The foot! The claw on the hammer… Our daughter will probably never leave her kids Home Alone with us again.

For the record: they captured several termites, eggs, and one large Carpenter ant soldier. All the wood went into the yard debris recycle bin.

While the others were gone, Grandpa helped Javan set up the rain poncho cum pup tent. I thought it was cute and posed all the kids inside of it:


Keep in mind that noone told me there was a plan for tonight and I watered the garden… The poncho-cum-tent cover may be very wet (but the floor tarp is not).

For a denouement, we watched “ET” on Netflix. Mom wasn’t sure her sensitive child could handle it, especially as he would be sleeping outside, but we gave him permission to leave if he felt uncomfortable. He loved the movie. We all cried. Except Miss V. who didn’t really watch the movie.

Then Grandma helped the boys haul sleeping bags and a quilt out to the pup tent in the dark, and each boy got a flashlight. Yard lights were turned on. We didn’t mention that skunks like our yard. No dogs were allowed out.


They are asleep now. I want to sneak out and take a photo, but I am afraid the flash will wake them. Their sister is furious, but i don’t hear her crying anymore, either.

It’s been great.


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We took a little sight-seeing trip to Jekyll Island, just past Brunswick, Georgia, on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a windswept piece of land, part of a series of islands called the Sea Islands or the Golden Isles, and helps form a line of barrier islands between the rage of the Atlantic and the mainland. We stayed clear of the touristy spots and combed the beach, instead. With six small children, this is the ideal activity.

The tide was low enough that we found some tidal pools with dull anemones and tiny hermit crabs.


It’s a photographer’s dream.


That’s a hermit crab. Itty-bitty one, next to the green glass.

We didn’t see much wildlife, which is sad, but December really is not the time to come to a place like this and expect to see a lot of animals. And the trip wasn’t about seeing wildlife outside of the car, it was about dealing with the wild critters called “my grandchildren”. So I was content with what we didn’t see and with the company I was keeping.


That’s my daughter-in-law and one of my granddaughters by the sea.


My son & one of his sons, combing the beach for treasures.

It was a beautiful day.

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I really want to go outside and put seeds and seedlings into the ground, but the fact remains that it is *only* the end of March and no matter how nice the weather is, the last official frost date is around April 15th here, and it is guaranteed to rain cats, dogs, frogs, fish, and buckets between now and the end of Rose Festival. It does not help my itchy green thumb that my peonies are sporting large buds on the verge of opening.

The last time I had peonies open in April was in 2003. I know this because I cut several blossoms and played Door-bell ditch with my closest neighbors on the first of May. It was my first May Day in this house and I didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood and figured hand-delivered peony flowers would be a great ice breaker. (They were, I made friends, and I got my vases back – a bonus.)

I haven’t been able to cut peonies for May Day since because they haven’t bloomed before the first of May since.

I will probably plant pansies this coming weekend, and despite all my knowledge of last frost dates, I will probably plant sunflower seeds, too. If the sun stays out over the weekend, I will make a futile attempt to get ahead of the weeds (if my left arm holds out – I’m currently nursing a painful case of “tennis elbow”).

I have been unable to keep the hummingbird feeders filled. I counted four different birds at one of the unpopular feeders out back. I have no idea how many birds are draining the two out front, but I am replacing one of those every four to five days right now. Drained dry.

Summer is coming and I have opted to stay home this summer. I have a big family reunion in Colorado in June (one that was supposed to happen last summer but didn’t, due to a wedding). My reasons are complicated, but first – and foremost, I changed jobs and I won’t have enough time off to go this year. I’ll really miss seeing my elderly Aunts and that weighs heavy on my heart.

This is where being a long-distance grandmother is not fun and I understand what my mom must have gone through when I moved so far away. There is something to be said about living a lot closer to one’s relatives. I guess we make choices and mine was to live as far away and as independently as I could, so I shouldn’t be too surprised that my own children made the same choices. It’s in the blood.

I am loving my job. More specifically, I am loving the parttime. Yes, I love the new job, and I work with great people – no doubt about that. The part I was worried about when I accepted the position – that is is less than 40 hours a week – is turning out to be a huge bonus. I don’t come home stressed out. I have time to do things. I feel stress falling off of me like layers of dead skin. I’m three months into it and still finding it quite novel to have so much time left after work. I have a life!


I haven’t had a “life” for so long that I don’t know quite what to do with it. I’m even making social plans again, something I hid from before. I actually answer the phone when friends call. I go to lunch and dinner.

I have been writing more on my art blog about my life than on this blog.

I’m still bird watching, but I have not been taking photos. I need to grab the camera and go for a birding walk soon. Or just a photography walk. Harvey is getting to be a great companion on walks & is pretty patient when I want to stop and take photos.

Have I mentioned that I now have nine grandchildren? And I’m so young! Someone asked me “how did that happen?” and I told them (straight-faced), “I never had the birds-and-bees talk with my kids?”


I recently painted five of them. They were posed in a photo, looking out at the snow falling on the ground along the eastern U.S. I took that photo and juxtaposed a photo of our house during the snowstorm of 2009. My five grandbabies looking out the window at my house on the opposite coast of the continental USA.

It makes me happy.

Spring makes me happy, too.


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I am taking a little break from the homeschooling posts in order to bring you this.


It says: DEAR GrAnDma i LOVE YoU VOLTRON Love, Zephaniah

Voltron, in case you are unaware, is the Defender of the Universe. He’s a Transformer ™.

I also received this:


My daughter’s handwriting is scrawled across the bottom: Bad Voltron.

The other side reads (in my daughter’s hand):

Dear Grandma.

I hope you give me this present for my birthday. (Don’t worry, I’ve warned him it doesn’t exist) I love you.



My husband said, “Why can’t we give him that?

Me, “Because Voltron is a GOOD guy. There’s no ‘bad’ Voltron.”

But that’s not even the best part. The best part is the back of the envelope.


HAHAHA! He must have been pretty proud of that picture.

I love my grandsons. Even the ones who can’t bear to part with their artwork.


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The Waldo Canyon Fire put a kabosh on a lot of our plans, but it didn’t stop us from finding something to do.

We drove down to Cañon City and out to see the Royal Gorge Bridge.

1,270 feet across the gorge and 1,053 above the Arkansas River, it is touted as the world’s highest suspension bridge. It is probably the world’s most expensive bridge to walk on, too, but the price of admission aside – we had a wonderful visit there.

“There’s boats down there, Grandma!”

Yes, Justin, and they look so tiny!










We ate lunch on the far side of the gorge and watched a lightning storm move across the western horizon and we hoped that it dumped some rain on the fires at the same time. The wind picked up and the bridge swayed when we crossed back over.

Needless to say, we didn’t stand around much on the way back across the bridge, but going over the first time was a leisurely stroll – except when the cars came rolling across! It’s rather unnerving to be standing on a suspension bridge a thousand feet above the floor of the canyon when a big car rumbles by, shaking every thing. I don’t know how much more you had to pay to drive your car across, but I am certain it was a lot more fun to walk across.

This guy was probably the most unpleasant part of our visit, and he was just looking for water. We shooed him off after I snapped his photo. (It’s a mud-dauber wasp, not very aggressive as wasps go, but contains the potential of ruining a little kid’s day. And the accompanying adults.)

These very fascinating cacti were everywhere and they were in bloom. I really wanted to bring one home, but I had no idea how I was going to manage that. So I took photos instead (and saved the native flora for the next person).







There was this bucket… I’m not really sure what the attraction was, but it provided some amusement for all.

The dogs all got along fairly well. Murphy tried to push Midnight and Nicky around like he does Harvey, but they weren’t going for it. But there were no major fights and very little growling and posturing. I didn’t get a photo of all three dogs together but then I didn’t get a photo of all three grandchildren together.

Ha! Nothing like rubbing dirt into your eyes, Justin! At least he didn’t try to eat the rocks like his brother.

Fearless Boy was in and out of lawn furniture, climbing up ladders (!!) and stomping on all the dog’s tails, including Murphy’s. All dogs are Midnight to him, but Murphy didn’t seem to mind being called Midnight. And he didn’t seem to mind being walked on, either.

I think Murphy was rather fond of Micah.

Oh heck, he was just after his share of the water on the Slip-n-slide.

Colorado Springs set new records for high temperatures the week we were there.

What a cheesy grin!

Stealing Dad’s sunglasses.


We had a good time and we ate at some great places. If you’re ever in Colorado Springs, there are two places I recommend you check out:

Gunther Toody’s Diner – if only for the memorabilia on the walls and between the booths. The food is good, too.

King’s Chef Diner – we didn’t go to the original “castle” location but ate at the Bijou St. location. This is the best kind of “hometown” restaurant eating: casual to the point of… casual. The food was great, the service … Well, you just have to experience it.

I still haven’t been able to wander around Old Colorado City. The area was open but we just didn’t have the time. Manitou Springs opened up after a few days, but we ran out of time for that, too. But I have at least been able to wander around there: I blogged about it when Justin was a wee babe here.

BUT – we did get to ride the historic Pike’s Peak Cog Railroad. That’s tomorrow’s post.

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