Tag Archive | grandkids

Good girl gone

Tess about 4 years ago.jpeg

One of my favorite pictures of Tess, from three or four years ago. She loved a camera and cameras loved her. Her eyes were still amber then.

If anyone ever tells you that losing pets gets easier with time, they’re lying, especially if you have to make the ultimate decision for them. Over 42 years, I’ve had the great luxury of only having five dogs – they’ve all lived very long lives for their sizes, and many of those years we were a two-dog family. Trigger, who lived to be 12, came home with me when I was 20. Our beloved Tess came home with my sister and me in the last vestiges of my youth – I was a mere 49, which seems young at almost 62.

But never have I had the luxury of a dog dying in her sleep. Even little Trudy, who at 16 years and 3 months had a massive stroke, had to be assisted in her final exit. Tess, a graceful beauty – we called her “Barbie” for her delicate ankles and catwalk poses (but I also called her “Catfish” in her younger years for her silly, swishy walk when we used to go for miles) had dealt with neuropathy for a long time. She had her 12th birthday party in May, and things just seemed to swarm after that. Her dainty ankles puffed up and she fell more and more. But she never lost her sweetness or her smile.

Still a beauty.jpeg

Our gorgeous girl spent most of her time sleeping or resting the last few weeks. Our beloved vet, Tim Palladino of AllPets, made a house call so she could depart on her own bed. 

She so enjoyed our big family Memorial Day party, but she wasn’t interested in the hot dogs her dad grilled for her. She did really dig the Caesar salad, though, and cleaned the cheese grits pan.

When Tess was tiny and I was recuperating from a life-changing/potentially life-saving surgery, she stayed in the bed with me and patiently chewed on the corner of our expensive newish nightstand. We’ll cherish those little teeth marks forever.

She annoyed the heck our of Toby, who was 9 when Tess joined the family, until Tess was old enough to be her best pal. (Toby made it to almost 14.) She preceded grandchildren but loved, endured, and protected them fiercely as each came along. Zuzu is their buddy, but Tess was their guardian.

Only child.jpeg

Big little Zuzu will have to learn how to be an only child, at least for a while. She’s wearing Tess’s going-away lei in her honor.

Today we had a little memorial and gardenia-planting for Tess. I’ll close with pictures from that. My heart isn’t in this. It still hurts.

Pop planting.jpeg

Pop put the lovely bush in the ground,

Everyone Get Some Dirt.jpeg

then all the kids helped fill the hole with dirt.

Group effort.jpeg


The kids are happy to have a reminder of Tessie, but Sylvia, who said a few words along with Pop, wanted assurance that we’d never move and leave Tess’s gardenia behind. No matter what, she’ll live in our hearts forever.

The post with no name


John, Julia and I recently attended a fabulous upholstery workshop in the Applied Arts department at UALR, taught by the wonderful Annie Evelyn (whose assistant was my friend Morgan Hill – both had driven in from Penland, despite the snow). This is my class product, a “lab rat,” which makes a very nice mediation seat, should I ever decide to try that route. But I hope reupholstery and helping John with is fine furniture-making is in the future. I prefer doing to sitting.

People keep asking, though it’s only been a week, how life after regular employment is going – and since I’m so far behind on blogging (though I’ve been writing like mad on another front) that seems as good an excuse as any to do a feeble little post.

So far, so good, would be the answer, and perfect timing in more ways than one. Slipping into that mode has been easy. And, actually, I’m still doing a some work from home, just in casual shoes and clothes.

second childhood?.JPG

In the late ’60s/early ’70s, we just called them “Converse” or “All-Stars,” but these berry Chuck Taylors, which were on sale, to boot, had my name on them. The only pair left was in my size. Perfect retirement shoes, no?

Things are gradually getting a little cleaner around this old house, though soon we’ll make a big mess when the tiling project upstairs gets in full swing, so right now it’s still a losing proposition.

Next week I think I’ll tackle closets and drawers. So many options.

One of the best aspects is having more time for the kiddos.

just like his dad.jpeg

What a familiar pose. Like father, like son.

Today was the SoMa Mardi Gras parade – and my duties were nil, which is a nice feeling for a change. John and I walked the girls down, enjoyed the parade as mere spectators, then met the grands for some post-parade fun.


The parade was fabulous – huge crowd of mostly non-neighborhood folks, it seemed – and great floats.


soma mardi gras.jpeg

One of the many SoMa Mardi Gras parade floats. Attendance was spectacular!

Tonight is a belated birthday dinner with Cathy and Paul.

And that’s it for now. Next time will be better. Or not. Time will tell.

Babes in Toyland

December has been a blur – as is much of life at 59 – and we’re ending the month and year with an impromptu trip to Yakima. John’s little mother has fallen and shattered her hip and things are very grim.

The sadness is palpable in our house, yet as death approaches, life goes on. That’s the beauty of life and generations.

Most of the month has been good hectic, though (I’ll skip over the icky parts). For one thing, this is the year I bought Disney’s Babes in Toyland to show the kiddies. I saw it with my friend Kelly when we were 6 and loved it then bought the VHS when my kids were little. Liz has told her kids it was her favorite Christmas movie.

A full-fledged musical, Babes is both excellent and lame, depending on the scene, but Annabelle and Luke, who saw it Dec. 12 when I kept them, loved it. Sylvia and Jude liked it when they saw it here the next Friday night. (Sylvia loved the wedding scene, as did her mama when she was little.)

We kept them until around 1 Saturday, when their other granddaddy picked them up, but we kept Silas until Sunday afternoon. He and I made vegan gingerbread to take to Mother’s for Christmas at her house that day.

Since Si is so allergic to milk and eggs, all my baking (which was not much compared to year’s past) was vegan. In addition to the gingerbread, we had dark chocolate zucchini/cranberry loaves for Christmas Eve and pumpkin streusel coffee cake for Christmas brunch.

At Mother’s we had lasagna, too many sweets and present pandemonium. Mother outdid herself for a 79-year-old – in addition to gifts that thrilled the wee ones and pleased the adults, she had red “Peace, ya’ll” shirts made for all us women – said she wanted something “in your face” to make people notice the message.

Mother loves to give gifts, but she still gets as excited as a little girl about getting them, too.

Mother loves to give gifts, but she still gets as excited as a little girl about getting them, too.

I’d like to think she’s taking after me a bit in her older age, or at least that I’ve rubbed off on her some. I got her a “Coexist” bumper sticker for her car (she wanted one). We also gave her a CD copy of “Rubber Soul” – she always had to rely on my Beatles records, but now she has one of her own.

All the men got nice flannel shirts – but you can see a hint of little Johnny Hardy in this pic. You can't take the boy out of the man, can you?

All the men got nice flannel shirts – but you can see a hint of little Johnny Hardy in this pic. You can’t take the boy out of the man, can you?

Monday I was sick, of all things, right out of the blue (fever gave me an excuse to cuddle up and watch Kinky Bootswhich I’d been trying to fit in – you should see it, too), but by Tuesday, the day we learned about Doris, I was at work. Anita graciously sent me home to be with John and help him find us a flight – hard to accomplish this time of year.

Christmas Eve we closed an hour early and John and I scrambled to clean the house (construction mess + muddy dogs = super yuck) and get the food out before friends and family arrived. Brother Paul was in bed feeling puny by that point, so Cathy came alone.

Our friends Marsha and Lee picked up Mother. Our next-door neighbors/surrogate kids Alyssa and Matthew joined us, and my former coworker and friend of pushing-30 years, Helaine and her husband Dre rounded out the crew.

Christmas Eve conversation.

Christmas Eve conversation.

The dogs opened their gifts from Grandma,

Tess and Zuzu consult over their gifts from Grandma. Zuzu never touches a toy without permission from the bully big sister.

Tess and Zuzu consult over their gifts from Grandma. Zuzu never touches a toy without permission from the bully big sister.

and the adults posed for fun photos. It was nice.

C.Eve group

Not a bad looking bunch!

Christmas morning I got up early after staying up late and started baking the coffee cake, then we had our Christmas before the kids and grands arrived. What a marvelous morning/early afternoon we had.

The togetherness and how the little ones love each other was the best gift of all.

I could go on, but I won’t. At least not today. Maybe tomorrow.

I don’t feel very profound. Just aware of the joys and sadnesses that make up a good life.

Open-ended life

Human instinct tends to be to want to control things; we like to know where things are going and how they will end. But The Avett Brothers have got it right: It’s easier on the spirit to live an open-ended life and accept where that life takes us.

Easier on the spirit but often hard to do. Try too hard to control things  and you’ll strike out. Or burn out.

I’m battling that will to control at the moment. As usual, music soothes my soul and lets me relax enough to gain perspective.

John’s mother, far away in Yakima, Washington, has just been placed in hospice care. My instinct is to jump on a jet and get up there. Instead, we’re going sooner than we’d planned (which was August, for John’s class reunion), but not right now. Unless an emergency calls us.

I don’t like that. Makes me uncomfortable and is not how I do things. But, much to my continual surprise, I’m reminded once again that Laura is not the queen of everything or responsible for everything.

Deep breath. Ohhmmm.

No matter what, there’s an Elsa (from Frozen) dress to be made before i can go anywhere – Sylvia turns 3 on June 14, and that’s her request. I’ve also decided to make tulle capelets for the other little girls at the party. What the heck.

Little Silas has been diagnosed with severe allergies (milk is the worst, along with eggs and peanuts), and the next step is a scope and esophageal biopsy on the tiny fellow. By waiting to go to Washington, I can be here for that – but we’ll probably have to miss Jude’s 8th birthday party.

Tough choice, but as my wise mother said, “He’ll have other birthdays.” Doris’s time is limited.

Speaking of Mother, she’s digging her little house (mostly the view) and meeting more and more neighbors. We’ve gotten it pretty much together – much of my free time has been there getting art hung and other things how she wants them.

We cooked out on her deck Memorial Day and it was lovely. My stepsister Lisa was there – we’re so glad she’s staying part of the family.

Lisa and Mother chat. I made Mother a White Russian – she highly approved.

Lisa and Mother chat.

My vegan cupcakes met everyone’s approval. Maybe I’ll post the recipe later. Vanilla with salted caramel frosting. vegan cupcakes

Silas definitely approved.

Baby sis is looking good – having Mother situated and safe has been a big relief, and that fab yard (and deck drinks) had everyone feeling relaxed.

Baby sis is looking good – having Mother situated and safe has been a big relief, and that fab yard (and deck drinks) had everyone feeling relaxed.

One last thing – you may have noticed the blog looks different. I re-upped for another year, but the old template had to go. Time marches on and things change.

We’ll see where the next year takes us.

What a difference a day makes

The old song is true: What a difference a day makes! The sun comes out, a baby is born, luck takes a turn (we hope for the better), moods lift. But looking back over 365 days can stop you in your tracks – so much to process.

One year ago, Baby Silas was in his first 24 hours.

Newborn Silas, the youngest grandchild, in his first hours.

Newborn Silas, the youngest grandchild, in his first hours.

A year later, he’s running around, dancing, beginning to talk, and recreationally fighting with Sylvia.

Silas the wild child after birthday cake.

Silas the wild child after birthday cake.

Look at that face!

Look at that face!

A year ago Annabelle and Sylvia were straddling the baby/toddler line. Today they’re little girls, chattering up a storm.

Annabelle is 3, Sylvia will be in June. They're maturing at warp speed.

Annabelle is 3, Sylvia will be in June. They’re maturing at warp speed.

Jude continues to grow like a weed – he’s a good big brother, alternating between being protective and being a pest. That’s what brothers are for, I think. Never had one of my own, but from what I’ve seen …

Jude stops from helping the girls on Silas's new birthday slide (courtesy of G-Mom) to pose for Lolly.

Jude stops from helping the girls on Silas’s new birthday slide (courtesy of G-Mom) to pose for Lolly.

Little Luke, at almost a year and a half, is a cuddly clown – he loves to laugh and is quite a flirt. He runs more than walks and knows instinctively how to dial a Fisher-Price retro rotary phone, even though he’s never seen a real rotary phone.

Luke dials someone on Silas's birthday phone. That's Dad in the background – he had a Fisher-Price phone as a toddler, too.

Luke dials someone on Silas’s birthday phone. That’s Dad in the background – he had a Fisher-Price phone as a toddler, too.

A year ago, we were still reeling and angry from Bill’s sudden death; today we can see the signs it was coming, though I’m still angry that he got caught up in and was tortured by the medical-industrial complex in his dwindling days, until we said enough was enough.

Mother was in shock, in poor health and recovering from a back surgery we weren’t sure would hold. A year later, she’s the incredible shrinking dynamo. Her health has worsened but her back has survived two falls and her spirits are good. She’s sold her house in the outback and is downsizing to a smaller home in town with a lake in her backyard.

A year ago I was freelancing – today I’m working my rear off at a fun job that allows me to drop everything when family duty calls.

A day ago I was so tired I thought I might never blog again – it’s almost time to renew my website and I’ve been thinking I’d let it drop – then this morning I woke up with this basically written in my head.

The jury’s still out on continuing, but, again, what a difference a day makes.

Time of the season

So, first let me clear something up – it’s the time of the season to catch up in a hurry because John was right and I was wrong. We are a season behind on The Walking Dead, we think because I’d overdosed on gore (even fake barbecue-guts gore) and refused to watch for a while, though, frankly, we’re too old to remember for sure.

We may be in an older demographic, but we definitely fall into the new TV-watching model of watching nothing for a while then bingeing our brains out, so now we’re in heavy zombie-binge mode.

(And this gave me a good excuse to refer to one of my favorite Zombies’ songs.)

I think we watched one episode earlier this week, but I know we stayed up way too late the last two nights watching (“Just one more?”) three episodes in a row. Without commercials, they’re 43 minutes each, so it could be worse. But still.

We started our binge and purge cycles of watching with Weeds (caught up for the last season), followed that with Mad Men (we’re caught up and waiting on the next season), then Arrested Development in record time. We’re halfway through the new shows, which aren’t as compellingly funny as the originals, though we do have to finish. We’ve invested time and, well, they’re still addictive and dopey.

John also binged on Breaking Bad, but I refused to join him. I can only give so much of my reading and doing time to television. I recognize that it was great – and I was thrilled to see that an episode was titled “Ozymandias.” Clever, clever writers. I knew in a flash what was going down just by knowing the poem by Shelley.

So I probably would have liked the show. I watched the last episode with John, though, so I won’t go back. Too many books are stacked in too many piles around my house (and now on my iPad, as well). They whisper “Laura! Laura!” to remind me how behind I am.

Such is life.

What’s going on?

This year started out crazy in January with Mother’s surgery and my step-father’s horrific death. Many days I find myself wondering if this craziness is the new permanent state of affairs and asking “what’s going on?”

At the macro level, sometimes I feel like I’ve landed in Bizarro World.

Remember Bizarro World Superman comics from a simpler time?

Remember Bizarro World Superman comics from a simpler time?

This isn’t even a major election year, but the political climate in our state and in the country just keeps getting worse, something that didn’t seem possible.

Unrest in the world keeps mounting. Rivers and oceans are rising and wildfires are raging. And what’s up with that storm last night? Arkansas is starting to feel like beachfront property weather-wise.

What’s going on? Have we passed the tipping point for things to be righted? Did we learn nothing from Marvin Gaye? The Vietnam War? The non-weapons of mass destruction and the melting polar ice cap?

Sigh. We do what we can in our daily lives and carry on as best we can. But we need to do better. Our grandchildren deserve it.

OK, I just put my soapbox away – I try to keep it out of this blog. But some days it’s tough.

What’s not tough is finding reasons to keep trying to make things better and to focus on the here and now. We have five of them 7 and younger.

Now, on to what’s going on at the micro level.

• John and I have finally become Bluth-heads. For years Ben and Liz told me how good it was, but we just recently started watching the old Arrested Development on Netflix. Yeah, kids, you were right.

Not only that, but we binge watch.

• And I’ve been staying up too late reading, still. We did stop watching The Daily Show and Colbert Report in bed, especially since our first-generation HD television has turned into black-and-white with a shrinking picture. I won’t tell you what I’m reading yet, though I will say after finishing Bruce, I binge-read a bunch of magazines that had stacked up. We’ll talk more books later. And we’ll save movies for another time soon, too.

• The grandkids keep us hopping and happy.

• And we’ve had more major changes in the house of late. Our upstairs floors are in the process of being sanded – we contracted Zaio’s Hardwood Floor Specialties to do the work – and will soon be polyurethaned. Hallelujah! Right now it’s sawdust central, but you can see how it will look from John’s prior handywork in my office.

Still needs baseboards and more coats of paint, but you can tell how it will look.

Still needs baseboards and more coats of paint, but you can tell how it will look.

After the walls were finished (sheetrock and paint) a while back, John's dream of a large mirror to reflect the double-helix stairs became reality.

After the walls were finished (sheetrock and paint) a while back, John’s dream of a large mirror to reflect the double-helix stairs became reality.

A glimpse of what's to come very soon!

A glimpse of what’s to come very soon!

Zuzu models the new floors. You can tell by the ears she's not so sure about her Vanna White skills. (I think she did just fine.)

Zuzu models the new floors. You can tell by the ears she’s not so sure about her Vanna White skills. (I think she did just fine.)

• Once again I’ve gone much longer between posts than intended. Part of that is because I work from home (I blog over at TheBerniceGarden.org, too, a real pleasure), in addition to having a busy life. But part of it is that I seem to be losing some steam. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the crazy year.

Maybe it’s the 58th birthday approaching in September.

Pooh. Anyway, I’ve got lots of things on my Lolly Diaries agenda.

• One last thing that’s going on: My nephew is in jail once again. He’s been a Crisco-coated eel for 16 years, slipping out of tights spots and sliding through cracks in the system. This time no one’s bailed him out and, though no one expects miracles, hope does spring eternal.

We know he belongs there, but it hurts. My heart aches for my sister and the fact that Mother has cried her eyes out makes me want to punch said nephew real hard. He was a loved child. Sometimes things just turn out crazy.

You’d never guess it to look at any of us, which is a good reminder not to judge people or make assumptions. Life is hard for everyone, and you never really know what’s going on.

So much to say

Lately I’ve had so much to say and so little time time say it – well, blog it anyway. I’m sure I fill John’s ears to the bursting point – the granddaughters get their chattiness from Lolly (and Grammy, both who made less than stellar grades in conduct in school).

Having a lot to say isn’t a bad thing, but when you want to write, need to write but don’t have time, that can create inner turmoil. And, if you’re like me, you forget half the topics you’d “written” so nicely in your head while doing other things.

Much of my busy-ness is unavoidable. Part of it is Laura-created.

Sometimes I spin in circles (metaphorically)  like King, the mentally handicapped collie who lived behind my grandparents in Russellville when Cathy and I were little – when we’d tell him to go home, he’d spin in a few circles before he could get himself righted to amble on off.

I also get distracted easily or find diversions (see previous paragraph as an example). Sometimes that takes up valuable time, but other times it turns into something valuable.


In a departure from the usual Nikes, Asics!

Just today when I ran in to buy some new running shoes – they’re for walking, really, but running shoes are what I buy – I got into a nice long conversation with a woman about my age and her husband. She’s hoping to return to running and wanted my advice and help in picking out shoes. She actually had on sprinting shoes, as in flat-out, curled-toe racers, so I ended up explaining the difference in shoes, how they should fit, etc., etc.

We didn’t swap names and phone numbers and promise to keep in touch, but that’s happened before.

Now, back to my point. I had many things to write about this week: Books (I’ve finished my late-night dates with Bruce and moved on), movies (we’ve seen/re-seen some good ones of late), some reminiscences that seemed really important on the days I thought of them but which escape me now. But, yet again, those will have to wait.

Once again, I have pain in the shoulder – baby boy overload that I wouldn’t trade for the world – that will limit my computer time, and I’ve got important grandmothery things to cover.

And a big old thank you to offer again to my darling neighbor, 12-year-old Anneliese, who helped me Thursday when I had all five grand-bambinos solo. Crazy to think she was younger than our oldest grandchild when we were lucky enough to get her family as neighbors.

So I didn’t touch my sewing again this week. I didn’t blog as much as I wanted and intended. The house stayed dirty. But in addition to working part-time, I got my yearly checkup, helped with the grandkids and went with Mother to her doctor. John and I saw a movie with friends. Rhonda and I went to an art exhibit at Oxford American.

And we did manage to finish season 1 of “Arrested Development” last night.

I’ll do better next week. Or I won’t (though I hope I do). Life will go on.

I’ve just seen a face

Sunday marked 11 years since the day John and I each left Sufficient Grounds coffee shop in Hillcrest thinking “I’ve just seen a face” that could very well change my life forever.

We didn’t talk about it at the time – and neither of us really believed in love at first sight – not with our life experiences. But we later talked about how we knew, barring some scariness or insanity that might crop up later, that we’d just met the person we might spend the rest of our lives with.

We met on my daddy’s birthday, so I can always remember the day.

Daddy would’ve been 80 this year, a fact that made me wistful and made me wonder about what he would’ve been like as an old man. It also made me miss Aunt Barbara, his older sister, who’s been gone for about 2 1/2 years now, I think.

It made Mother a little tearful – she’s grieving Daddy again, as well as Bill, these days (though she’s really doing amazingly well).

I thought about being nine years older than he was when he died. I felt calm and accepting.

So it surprised me Tuesday night when I was babysitting at Liz’s and thinking how Silas is looking a little like Daddy (though he’s unquestionably the image of my sister, Cathy) and suddenly I felt I’d been punched in the stomach. No tears, just pain. Take your breath away physical gut punch, nauseating.

If someone tells you it goes away, she lies. Time passes and loss gets more manageable, but that feeling can hit at any time.

But life goes on. I’ve just put the finishing touches on a trip Mother and I are taking in little over a month, one she and Bill had wanted to take. We’ll go to Seattle, Victoria (yes, Canada) by boat and to the Yakima Valley, where John grew up – and my mother will finally meet his mother in person.

I’m finished with the zombies and Calvin Trillin’s Dogfight and am halfway through Bruce, the hard to put down biography of The Boss, which creates it’s own nostalgia for me. BruceHis Born to Run album, which shook up my life, came out about this time 38 years ago, just before I turned 20. “Thunder Road,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and “Born to Run” still give me goosebumps on this softer, saggier flesh. BornToRun

Sigh. But I’m happy about being old and a grandmother several times over. I couldn’t be surrounded by any better faces, all five of them.

Everybody I love you

Any day now we’ll be getting a new addition to the growing roster of people I love so much that it feels my heart could burst. Exciting.

I’m already in love with little Silas; his actual presence will just add to the joy.

Our friend Gail Roberson embroidered Silas' new Boppy that Liz's BFF Camille Roberson Hemmer got the newby.

Our friend Gail Roberson embroidered Silas’ new Boppy that Liz’s BFF Camille Roberson Hemmer got the newby.

When my son Ben was born right after I turned 23, I thought I could never love another person that much. Then Liz debuted 15 months later, and I loved her every bit as much. I’d gladly die for either of them.

Most parents think they can never love anyone as much as they love their children – with the kind of love that you can’t explain with words. You have to experience it to grasp the depth; it can take your breath away.

I think that’s why many adult children appreciate their own parents more after they become parents themselves.

Grandchildren, though, turn that myth upside down. We learned that with Jude.

Jude is such a big boy now.

Jude is such a big boy now.

The love just multiplies or your heart expands with each addition. I’d give my life for any of them.

But I want to stay right here and enjoy them all. And my husband and mother and  sister and in-laws and cousins and wonderful friends – and dog children. I’m lucky in love these days(and music saves my mortal soul, but that’s another story).

That is all, except for pictures of the cutest grandkids ever. Carry on.

Ben's firstborn, Annabelle, and Liz's firstborn, Jude, the dethroned crown prince of grandchildren. He doesn't mind, though – he has a big heart.

Ben’s firstborn, Annabelle, and Liz’s firstborn, Jude, the dethroned crown prince of grandchildren. He doesn’t mind, though – he had a 4 1/2 -year run of being the only grandchild, but he has a big heart and loves his sibs and cousins.

Annabelle and Daddy Ben

Daddy Ben is oblivious to the camera, but Annabelle loves to pose for pictures.

Sylvia watches Sesame Street videos on the computer. She put her headband on by herself.

Sylvia watches Sesame Street videos on the computer. (She put her headband on by herself.) She’s very computer-savvy and expanded the video to full-screen right after this photo was taken.

Luke has one of the sweetest faces and dispositions ever.

Luke has one of the sweetest faces and dispositions ever.