See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

See Grandma, my eyes are really dark blue....not big brown ones like daddy

Ryan and friend

Ryan and friend
Mommy, Daddy, I'm saying Hi to Grandma?

This one is for you, Grandma!


soccer with determination and no airplane distractions

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Never too Old to Learn New Tricks

This past week I did something that in a million years I never thought that I'd be doing. The question came upon me suddenly and surprisingly. "Will you take care of my dog while I'm on vacation, my son blurted out over the phone." Since they were leaving in a few days I knew that this was not a question out of the blue but one he thought of previously, and most likely knowing me, hesitated to ask. Normally, his sweet little girl dog, a snoodle, would have been bound for the nearest kennel. Not that the kennel doesn't do a good job, he wanted me to "enjoy" Madison.

I paused, not quite knowing what to say, as I've never had a dog, and wondered if I was capable of "watching" her 24-7. Well, it wasn't quite seven, but a barking dog in a quiet neighborhood is incomprehensible. He continued by saying, that all you need do is feed her the allotted portion of food per day, and have clean water in her bowl at all times. Reluctantly, after checking with grampy, the answer was "yes". (Other's who have seen her in action, would have said no, and thought that I'd have my hands full.) In a few days, I was to be responsible for the well being of a dog which my friend, Linda, typed as "hyper." I do recall at the lake, while she was tied up, she'd bark endlessly, and would run left to right repeatedly, like a mad dog.

That night they came over to leave "her" with me. Instructions, kisses and they were on their way. We kept Madison in another room with the door closed so she would not witness their leaving, thinking like children, it can be sometimes upsetting. Sure enough she started to cry somehow knowing that they had left without her. I imagine, that having a dog since four months of age, it does have it's effect on the emotions of all concerned.

I dog proofed the house in order that she could move about without any danger to bother her and my home. I already learned that she would in fact jump off of the bed, even though she didn't do it at home. After the short session of tears, see went around smelling where her mommy and daddy had been.

I was given a brief instruction as to how to hold the leash and take Madison for a walk out back to do what I was to tell her "go potty". That all went very well, and for the first night she probably went more than she needed to go, as we were both getting used to "understanding each other" which included a 1:45 a.m. false alarm. (Truly it is better to be safe than sorry).

I was very surprised that she warmed up to me instantly, cuddling on my side and coming to visit me several times during the night to be reassured that I was still there with her. She even licked my feet. There were times when she barked at me at close range. (I don't know who was more reactive her or me). I would respond by telling her to "sit down" with a tone of my own, and each time she did, I told her she was a "good dog." Soon, as there was no need to bark, and as it did not get result for her, she discontinued doing so.

We got to know and understand each other very well that week, as I took her for walks, fed her the very boring dog food, and entertained her with television. I even took her on the swing with me, and made her a makeshift "tent" from a blanket, to offer her shade on a very hot afternoon. Knowing she had become a very good friend, and never leaving my side for the most part, I ventured to slip her into the pool, drying her with a towel. Not even a sound did she make. Amazing!

She came with a squeaky toy bone, which we passed in the yard, and ran around the table playing peek-a-boo, doggy style. Of course, she looked forward to grampy's evening strolls as well.

The only time she barked was when her parents "returned". Other than that, she was attentive to two things, when someone came to the door, leaving my side to check on who it was, and when the telephone rang, dashing into the kitchen, silently. (She learned that from me.)

Somehow, she understood that I didn't want her to bark, and, that I took her out regularly so she would "not have too". It was a matter of scheduling and understanding how she acted.

Initially, her little legs would shake and grandma knew that she was scarred and had to be reassured that we cared for her. That did not take long. She gained so much "trust" that she even went up and down staircases that her parents said she would not do.

As she was going home, she did what my other grandchildren do, stop, look back and smile. If I had to say just one thing to dog keepers about how to treat their animal, it would be with patience and tenderness. They bark because their scared or maybe they do it because you expect them to. They do not listen to yelling, rather they prefer a "soft tone". If they are in a frenzies, just maybe they are reacting to your having lost control, a dog "barking" is not "listening", but venting. (That is, trying to get your attention.)

If I wanted her to hear what I had to say, I simply held her leash, gave her a quiet command that began with her name and her looking at me. Having held her close in this manner, it made her feel secure and only too happy to obey. I even used "baby or sweet talk" and she loved it. She was a pretty little princess, with soft white clipped curls and large puppy-dog eyes, who wants what everyone else wants--to be loved.

My son said she was very happy here. Of course, I try to make everyone feel at home in this place. Then, the question came, "would you take her again?" "Yes", I said, she is such a wonderful and well-behaved dog, at least for me. She loves her grandma I can tell.

Loving is not the hard part. Her parents were glad to see their "girl". The shoes that she will smell in the evening will no longer be grandpy's but her daddy's. My son said, "do you think she missed us?" Well, what do you think? Of course she did.

This was my first experience with our little "grand daughter Madison." She is all that they say she is and more.....Now and then, I find myself thinking about her and the things that she does in her specialness.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today, we buried one of our own...

It was a very difficult funeral today, bringing back so many memories.

When I was a little girl my dad used to weep at the grave of his mother, Laura, who I never knew personally, but through the hearts of her children, my dad, aunt Betty, Bella, Armand and newly departed Irene.

During the mass for the departed, a neighbor got up and told the story of what Irene was like. It rang home like a bell. Always in the garden, baking and serving her family and neighbors. A woman who liked people and loved art and her natural surroundings. She loved to laugh, and enjoyed children and pets. Roland and Irene won a contest dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, I recall. My dad used to enjoy Halloween, too! Uncle Roland was always clowning around. They were from a generation that made their own fun, and rolled up their sleeves to help others in need.

The little tea cups and small breads and the comfort of home and family, were shared by all the siblings, as well as aunt Irene. Stephen's country wedding, with candles all over their beautiful home, was what you'd see in a Better Homes magazine.

I too received a Christmas decoration from her, (an angel), as I understand from the neighbor who spoke in church of the fond memories of my aunt, doing the same for others. My kids enjoyed her company, remembering that she came to family picnics with fish earrings on and a large straw hat, long jean skirt, always fanning herself in the heat and laughing contagiously, while complaining of the hot flashes to all the aunties.

Once, when the Beaver got into a car accident, she had my sister and I over to help occupy herself with business, of being a good auntie. She made us dollar size pancakes with syrup and with her huge heart, loved us to pieces. Then, there were the long country strolls and conversations.

The lady at church mentioned the penny candy, and, it all rushed back to me of how both she and uncle Roland were so welcoming. They took me to the beach for the first time, in Uncle Roland's bread truck. I can still see the whole family and all the white sand, everywhere. The family picnics and the family reunion of yesteryear, poured out today just like watching a video clip. Even remembered the little "mud hole" swimming parks, where we gathered as a family for picnics.

Karen, her only daughter embraced me in church, and I knew her heart was breaking. I remember to well the experience of losing my mother. The grand kids said it best, "they are all there together, missing us as much as we miss them, having one heck of a back-yard party". "And she's with Pepe'." The love of her life, Uncle Roland.

We know that everything will be alright now. If something needs fixing, Aunt Irene will see to it. She knew who Jesus was and now will behold His face.

Ninety-one years ago she was born to a tiny mother who had six siblings. Irene was between 1 1/2 to 2 pounds at birth, having much determination to live, having been placed in a shoe box behind the kitchen stove. She grew up amidst a vegetable garden with her father's prized strawberries, probably chasing after chickens. Later, after the return of Roland from the second world war, married and devoted herself to him and their children.

I spent many happy days on the huge swing in the back of the garage--does anyone else recall it, it was located just above her lovely garden? Remember the countless antiques that were stored over the garage stalls? Or the many walks we took up Paige hill and over Clemence hill? Who could ever forget the sledding in the winter, hot chocolate or cookies. We won't.

Courageously Dave and Stephen her sons, walked in front of her, together, down the isle to say their "so long for now" to a wonderful lady, their mom.

We are lucky, because we are the inheritors of a beautiful legacy of a loving family. We were reminded once again, that this world is a better place because of them, and because of her, by Fr. Peter Joyce.

Rest in peace, aunt Irene. You will be missed. And...May your memory be eternal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In The Good Old Summertime

Living in New England, we learn to cram in all the events, for summer is short then, it's preparation for the winter. This weekend is our church festival, which I am looking forward to.

Saturday, will be our family day at the Village, where they will feature all sort of fire displays and old-time fire-fighting techniques. I know my grandsons will have a great time, as there is something for everyone, we will all have a fun day.

Yesterday, Nathan finally got to see the sawmill in operation. A water powered operation, about one thousand pieces of wood would be cut in a day. A back breaking effort to produce pine wood cuttings that would serve for floor boards and siding. Nate's been waiting to see its operation for some time. Other activities included: the horse-drawn-ride through the covered bridge, the boat ride on the Quinnaboag, where Lilly pads and their flowers were the featured highlight in its natural habitat, that is, until a turtle was spotted on a floating log.

The boys enjoyed seeing the ducks and wild birds at the Mill Pond, along with the fish visible from the shore. The benches and breeze in the shade, provided the much needed respite from the heat of the day. It was quite pleasant all in all, in it's primitive setting. Nathan thought it funny to see planes flying above, somehow, not fitting into the scene of the late 1800's.

There were goats and chickens, gardens and cows chewing their hay rations. Nate got to see cow-milking the old fashioned way. Ryan just took it all in, enjoying the boat ride and the animals. Just like in the car, when we stop at the light, when the horse ride stopped, he cried wanting more....

Nathan enjoys pumping water and washing his face and hands at the well. Yesterday we didn't have time to play at the playground designed for kids with a Village theme, as we were looking forward to a dip in the pool at Grandma's house, before dinner. The biggest excitement of the day for Ryan I think, was watching the hot air balloons go up into the air, giggling and kicking his feet and hands, clapping as they ventured upward.

It was thrilling to see the way they blew up the tissue-papered-fashioned globe-like beach balls, utilizing steam from a tube, then releasing them as they became full of hot air.

Grandma enjoyed it just as much as they did....The balloons did not go very high or far. I wonder if that is where we got the expression, "full of hot air?" I'd like to try and make some of those....clever!

They didn't have much in the village then, that is, of course according to our standard, but they had a lot of "do it yourself kind of fun." Then as now, there were also serious times, which was made evident by a very impressionable flag display, consisting of many rows of red, white and blue, at the Village entrance. It is a reminder of sacrifice, God and Country. A presence of the 4th of July, and the roots of our great nation.

Nate will be entering school this year. I cannot believe how smart he alread is. And Ryan, is just learning how to walk. He cannot wait to walk in his brother's steps, especially to drive the new vehicle Nate got on Saturday.

Nathan told me that he liked my hair yesterday, just like in the picture that grampy and I took in the "Love Boat, with my bangs on the side." I never would have quessed that! Children take it all in and sometimes they surprise you with their comments. Nate and Ryan miss nothing. And, that's a good thing, in the good old summertime.

Friday, July 1, 2011

When the trials of life get you down

When the trials of life get you down, the old saying is to whistle a happy tune. (I was never good at whistling). Other's say, set your mind on something else. I say think happy thoughts.

So what is getting my goat? Don't have any goats--it's another old expression that means getting me frustrated. Ants...We have had a rainy season and wouldn't you know, no matter how much I clean this house, empty trash cans, rinse all containers, and take the measures to prevent bug attraction, they find their way into my home. That means of course, that we must have a nest somewhere of those black carpenter destructive-nuisance-type ants.

Yesterday, I saw one after another following each other on my white kitchen wall. The exterminator will come next week. I went to the store to pickup ant cups, which I have placed here and there, over the back door particularly, as that is where they have been spotted, once again, as in years past.

The family next door has a collapsible pool right next to my deck. I know that ants like water, so that is where I placed the food that attracts them, hoping that they will bring the substance to the nest in order to destroy it.

It is time for my vacation as everything seems to be magnified, at this point, making a mountain out of a mole hill. The winter was especially hard, then came horrendous storms, including the tornado, which is uncommon for our area. Planting is done, now to keep the critters from destroying our gardens. Life is a constant battle here in New England. Come to think of it, it's everywhere you go. People living in warmer climates certainly know what insects are like. Some do not even have the garden snakes that are present in my back yard, but the real venomous type. Yesterday, I found a tick on my living room rug, and I don't even have pets.

Today is gorgeous, I think I'll go out soon. I can hear the birds that surround my home, the finch and wrens, which are so colorful especially the yellow ones. Their song is always so joyful and it makes me give thanks for the little things in life.

Just the other day, I was taking my grandson out of the car, and because it was pouring, I placed an umbrella over our heads. He immediately started to show his delight as the drops hit the cloth. I wondered if he had ever been under an umbrella before, truly enjoying this moment with grandma. Nathan and I have spent many such days, with the canopy overhead swinging and enjoying the day, especially in the rain. Now, it appears Ryan has a lot to look forward to... the chocolate chip cookies, carriage and sled rides, and his first birthday cake. He will need to cut additional teeth, and soon he will take his initial walking steps, alone.

Life is full of cycles of all type. We learn to accept the good with the bad. The shortness and goodness with each of the seasons, and their constant change. I appreciate the small things, like ice cream and flowers, friendships, and children's laughter. Soon we will pick blueberries and see fireworks and of course it will be time for the church festival. So much ahead and crammed into so few summer days.

Humor is one of life's greatest medicine. Our oldest grandson taught us that on Wednesday, when we got together for dinner to celebrate birthdays in June. He simply said, "Do you want to hear a joke?" We thought that funny. Clever for a five-year-old. I hope someday that he will learn to tell great jokes. A sense of humor just may get you through the many trials that life throws at you.

Wishing you all sunshine....laughter.... and a wonderful 4th of July.