Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'll Take the White One

Danny went car shopping the other day when his mom Colleen and brother Robby came to town. He tried on the Smart Car, but it was too small.

Kevin and Rachel came down from Kansas City that same weekend to celebrate the 49th birthday of Kevin and his twin, Colleen. We gorged on a meal of childhood favorite foods: flank steak marinated in teriyaki, rosemary garlic roasted potatoes, green beans lyonnaise, homemade German's Sweet Chocolate cake, homemade carrot cake and of course, clam dip. The requisite birthday song was sung complete with "Many more to you, Woooappy birthday dear. . ."

Danny is a great cook and has spent a lot of time working in restaurants -- Italian is his specialty. Here he and his mom are putting together a wonderful meal of eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti with browned butter and some kind of cheese, buttery, cheesy, garlicky breadsticks, and a tossed green salad. It smelled yummy and tasted even better (and it used every pot and pan in the kitchen!).

Robby is on his way home, probably a little the worse for the sleepless nights hanging out with his cousins. Saying goodbye was hard to do, he's a great kid.
And here they go, off to the Kansas City airport in Danny's new Mitsubishi Endeavor (it was just the right size for him). They were fortunate to get away in the slight lull between this week's record-breaking snow storms. I hated to see them go, but was grateful for their safe travels. I hope they hurry back.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Farewell, Dolly

I call her Christine. She first belonged to Minnie Pauline Nichols when she was a little girl living on Figueroa Street in Folsom, California. Minnie was born September 9, 1886 and I'm guessing she got the doll sometime before her tenth birthday in 1896. I'm also guessing Minnie's mother Christine Wagner Nichols gave the doll to her youngest daughter (Minnie was the seventh born of eight children to William and Christine -- one, Loren, died in infancy). Christine died of pneumonia just after Minnie's twelfth birthday. I like to think the doll was a comfort to my grandmother while she grieved.

The doll wears several layers of handmade petticoats and a pair of pantaloons covering her kid body which is in remarkably good condition, given that it is around 116 years old. Her bisque head and hands are likewise in great condition. Her eyes still open and shut and her opened mouth shows her carefully formed teeth. Her feet are covered with knit stockings which remain in perfect condition. Her hair has been loved a bit too much. It is rather bedraggled and is trying to separate from her scalp. There are a few stains down the front of her dress. Did the little girl who first owned her try to feed her? Was it a tea party mishap? I must admit there is something overall scarey or creepy looking about the doll. I'm not sure how she will be received by a young girl today. But, I guess I'll soon find out.

I was honored when my grandmother chose to give her to me sometime after the birth of my first daughter, Robin. But, I must admit I did nothing to add to her character. She passed her years with me wrapped in a plastic bag, languishing in a dresser drawer. I took her out from time to time, tried to love her and imagined my grandmother holding her, feeling the love across the years. The doll is in good condition, but not pristine, so I assume she was actively loved, yet respected.

It's hard to pass down something like this: I have wonderful memories of my grandmother whom I idolize to this day. The next recipient will not have that history. She will only know she is receiving a family heirloom and it will be many years, if ever, before she grasps the significance of the doll. But, I am too old to hang on to it. It's time to try to pass it and all the love attached along to another generation. Mallaika Louise Paine will be the next owner. Mallaika was born October 15, 2005, 119 years after Minnie Pauline Nichols. Mallaika is the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Christine Wagner Nichols. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Mallaika could pass it on to her own great-granddaughter?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I am by nature a giver. There is nothing heroic about it. Psychologically, I am probably seeking approval or love because I don't feel I got it from my mother (she had her own burden). It is not in me to solicit gifts. I married a man who was incapable of giving because he too, was so needy. That's not to say I do without -- I am also very generous to myself, gifting myself abundantly and frequently. But I love to give. I love to feed people, sitting them down to a pretty table with delicious food. Lately, I have enjoyed giving people quilts (whether they want them or not!). I enjoy giving things that are a part of me -- something I have made -- put my hands on. It gives me a feeling of connection. None of this is noble or unselfish, it just is.

Today is Valentine's Day. I bought a small box of chocolates for each of the three young men living in my house and left them at their places at the kitchen table. Ben was the first to survey the scene and he quickly concluded the three boxes were for him, Logan, and Danny. But, the first thing he said was, "Grandma, you didn't get any." I don't know if I can write this in a way that lets you know how touched I was. Just the fact of his noticing meant more than a five pound box of chocolates, a dozen roses, and a gallon of perfume.

Happy Valentine's Day. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dam It!

It's a beaver dam. And it's attached to the upstream side of a pier on the Finley River Bridge. And I'm worried about it and the beaver. I spotted the beaver one day a few months ago waddling across the road (the beaver, not me) at the end of the bridge. I just assumed he was building a dam safely down river where it would be real hard to get at. No, this urban animal chose to live on the mill pond where people fish every day, kids swim in the summer, people putter around in boats, and a steady stream of cars thunders by overhead. My immediate fear was that mean-spirited people would bother the critter and/or destroy the dam. Then I learned it's perfectly legal to trap beavers in these parts. His (I'm just assuming it is a single male) luck has held for the past week or so. I have observed city parks folks looking at the dam, but they seemed to have decided to leave it alone for now.  I'm hoping he gets to stay -- makes my five or six daily trips across the bridge just a bit more interesting.

The birthday boy at sweet sixteen. He chose to wear his suit to school on his birthday partly because he had a presentation in English where he was posing as a lawyer and partly because he is a peacock and loves to strut his 6' 2" 222 lb. stuff dressed up in a suit. The good news is x-rays of his legs this week revealed his growth plates have closed, so he shouldn't be getting any taller. He went to the doctor because he is experiencing knee pain while doing football training exericises. So, he is going to try some physical therapy, some anti-inflammatory drugs, and more exercises. I wish him well!