Friday, February 10, 2017

Nana Files the Second

I learned a few things yesterday.
Number one, don't feed the little darlings their yummiest things for breakfast, it's a waste of a good appetite. Save the yummy things for dinner. So we had eggs and french toast. Scarlet gobbled it down but London was playing hard to get.
Fine, I said, you can eat it later. Less chocolate milk for you tomorrow.
So she pulled her craft bins out of the pantry and concentrated on her art for a while.
The blue face in the top right corner is me. Be jealous.

And this is her whole family, including Wrangler and Max, the cat.

And after an hour or so of painting, Miss London cleaned her plate and declared it was time for ice cream. Er, okay, why not?
So they ate little bowls of ice cream.

Scarlet got pretty mad when her bowl was empty. This was after she forgave me.

While Scarlet took her nap today we made banana bread. As soon as she woke up we left, me pulling the wagon full of two girls, a picnic, and jackets. (Lesson number two, always take jackets.) This lake is halfway to the park and we quacked at the ducks and admired the scenery. 

We picnicked on cookies and banana bread (tasty! said London) and apples and ran around the play structure and mostly I chased Scarlet while trying to simultaneously keep an eye on the wagon and on London, who is remarkably daring in new situations for a timid child. One poor little girl threw her coat into our wagon and took a drink out of one of our cups, thinking it was her family's wagon. She was so embarrassed when her dad told her what she had done that she started crying and they had to go home. 

I was trying to get a good picture of Scarlet's gleeful expression so I stopped the swing. She stuck her little nose up in the air and turned her head away and wouldn't look at me until I pushed the swing again. Not even eighteen months old and a force of nature already.

The sun was low in the sky when I finally convinced London it was time to go home. I decided to take a different route to avoid a nasty road crossing that hadn't been apparent on Google maps. We passed right by the water tower. I love water towers, for no significant reason.

On the way home we picked a few pansies from flowerbeds at the intersections. London said her favourite colour was pink and the pansies weren't pink so she didn't want any. Fine, I said. After Scarlet had ripped apart several differing shades of pansies, London did a little pout because she didn't have a flower. Well, sez I, you only wanted a pink flower and pansies aren't pink. Do you want a different colour next time we see some? She nodded. And collected a purple pansy at the next corner. 
Score for Nana!
It was a long walk home because of our wee distractions, especially when Scarlet decided that she was going to be a hellion unless I let her walk with me. It was only a little over three miles round trip, but pulling the wagon made it seem more like double that distance. Plus, I am not in the best shape of my life, sadly. Five minutes before we reached the house I looked back at the girls and London was sitting upright with her eyes closed. She had fallen asleep. I put her head on my purse so that she wouldn't fall out of the wagon.

And so went the second day. One of the blessings of being a nana is being able to look after grandchildren when their parents take some much-needed time to be together. It makes me a bit sad that the girls probably won't remember this weekend, but perhaps some day, when they get older, they will read this and get an inkling of how much their nana adores them. 

The Nana Files:Part 1

Whenever I arrive at Charlie and Sam's house, I usually get the most enthusiastic reception from the weimaraner. Not that the rest of the family snubs me, they just don't follow me everywhere I go, leaning up against me and trying to knock me over. 
I am in Texas to spend a few days with the little girls while Mommy and Daddy have a long weekend on their own. Luckily, Wrangler went to spend the weekend in a kennel, or I might have spent the whole time on the floor.

Scarlet looked a bit confused when she woke up on the first morning to find Nana was the only adult in the house. After a few minutes she seemed to accept her fate and snuggled in while she drank her green juice and watched nursery rhymes on the telly.

London had a whole list of things that she was "so excited" for us to do together, so I didn't get to sit on my laurels for too long. I thought she might like this hairstyle because it kept her hair out of her face. 

After a morning of doing bubbles outside and playing, Scarlet went down for her nap and London promptly went into event planner mode. First on the agenda was cookie-making. Chocolate chip with pink sprinkles. I tried to talk her out of the sprinkles but no deal. London is quite the little baker for being not even four yet. I turned away for a moment and a rather large amount of sprinkles went into the dough. My plan had been for her to shake the sprinkles on top of the cookies so that not all of them would be sprinkled, but I was foiled before I even started. 

Then on to the Valentine craft that Mommy had bought at Hobby Lobby. Or so London informed me. And look what happened to her hair. She went to the bathroom and took an inordinately long time so I went to check on her and she had very carefully taken out the band that held the two braids together, unwoven the braids, and left her hair in the two pony tails. I don't like it tight, she said when I tried to tidy up the pony tails. 
Okay then. Scruffy ponies it will be.
She really stuck to the job and pretty soon there were three hearts stuck to every ladybug wing. That's 24 of them, in case you were wondering. Nana had to do the rest of the gluing but she helped by sorting the pieces out and handing them to me as I needed them.

Then it was time for a cookie break. 
Delicious, she said.

We went for a walk, me pulling the big wagon, in the afternoon to look for a neighbourhood playground, but I didn't do my research before we left and the girls were getting cold so we turned around and came home after about half a mile, determining we would try again the next day. Dinner, another cookie or two, and a movie, and pretty soon we were all in bed. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Segways, fishies, and battlefields in Georgia

Jeff and I had some family business in Georgia in October. After it was all done, we spent a couple of days in the Atlanta area and then I went with him to Denver on his business trip. It was my first time in both places, other than layovers at the airports.
Ever since I saw a group of people on a twilight Segway tour of the capital in Washington DC that one time we were protesters, I have wanted to ride one. I noticed an ad online for a tour in Atlanta so we decided to go for it. We took a Midtown Atlanta Segway tour at 2 o'clock on a very cold and windy afternoon. 
But first, seeing as how we arrived in central Atlanta early and had an hour to kill, we took a ride on Skyview Atlanta, which was just around the corner from the Segway office. 

It was slightly interesting and we got to see some of the Atlanta buildings, but on the whole we thought it was a waste of $30. I did like these solar panels on the roofs of the parking lot structures though. Seems to me it's a win-win.

Sadly, the Segway company doesn't give you much time to take photos, so this is the only one Jeff got of me. But let me tell you, I rocked the beast. It was such fun, in spite of the ferocious wind! We were chilled to the bone by the time we were done. The tour went for about six miles. We even got to do a Leonardo di Caprio-on-the-bow-of-the-Titanic move. From now on, every city tour I take will be on a Segway. And Jeff wants to buy one. Or two. Sadly, the price is prohibitive.

Jeff is getting his Segway legs. It's actually a bit hard on the leg muscles. The movements to control the machine are very subtle but taxing over the course of a couple of hours. It was hard to walk when we finally got off the machines, and we kept wanting to tilt around the corners and bend our knees when we walked over bumps.

But I did manage a selfie in the square by the Coca Cola museum.

People made of people.

We never miss a good aquarium, so the next stop was the Georgia Aquarium. The displays were amazingly beautiful.

We managed to catch a dolphin show, but the lighting was not conducive to photos. 

The next day, before we went to catch our flight, we drove up to the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. We took the tour of the Visitors' Center, which covered the history of the Civil War from a fairly unbiased point of view, and then drove to Cheatham Hill for a small walk around the battlefield. 
If you know anything about Jeff and me, you know that we visit battlefields. This was a whistle-stop but we were so glad we made it. One of Jeff's ancestors fought here. It was interesting to visit a battlefield in the South, as all of the others we've seen were in the North. We wished we had had time to walk some of the many trails in the park, as the woods were so beautiful on this autumn day. These photos were all taken on Cheatham Hill.

This is the Dead Angle. It is a field that was totally covered in union soldiers' bodies and the two sides called a truce so that they could bury all of their dead.

If you are interested in learning more about Kennesaw Mountain, this is a good reference.
Next up, adventures in Denver.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

My sister, my friend

I count myself blessed to have a sister, even though we have spent the majority of our lives separated by very large oceans. 

Like many siblings, we didn't always get along when we were children and teenagers. I have memories of being squished together in the front seat of the family car and complaining to my parents that Anne was breathing on me. Or touching me. We were, however, a constant presence in each others' lives and it is an interesting exercise to compare our shared and separate memories of our younger selves.
Our teens were a time of emotional distance. I was basically too selfish and absorbed in my own life and friends to pay much attention to my younger sister. We are separated by three years in age, which, as teenagers, was almost as vast a gulf as the physical distance that has separated us since we became adults. As the older sister, it would have been up to me to initiate closeness, and it's one of my biggest regrets in life that it never occurred to me to do it.

Here we are in August, enjoying a community outdoor blues concert. Anne is wearing her special hat. The one she wears to annoy her husband, who has a much more conservative fashion sense than she does. It shows up in many pictures. 

For the first twenty-five years of our married lives, Anne and I only saw each other three times. Let's just agree that flying a family of five or six people from the USA to New Zealand, or vice versa, is a major financial commitment, and neither of us had the means to do it regularly. We wrote, sent birthday and Christmas boxes to each other's children, and occasionally talked on the phone, but whole segments of our lives were unknown to each other. 
In the last ten years, I have been blessed to be able to visit "home" every two years, so Anne and I have spent more time together. And in August, she and John came to visit and for five weeks we lived in each others' pockets. And now they are gone again and there is a hole in my life that I didn't know existed. 
Rather than dwell on the pity party we are both having right now about being separated again, I am sharing photos of us. And remembering the good times. The hilarious times. Because when we are together we tend to laugh so much that sometimes I have to rush to the toilet before I humiliate myself. Sometimes it's too late, which the husbands just don't understand. 

We attended a memorial service for Jeff's dear cousin, Janet, and afterwards spent a happy hour at the International Rose Test Gardens in the west hills of Portland, with a whole bushel of cute grandchildren. 

A few days later, we took twenty people to spend four days in a mansion at the beach. It was crazy and busy and fun. Here we are at the beginning of the stay.

One day, the four of us escaped from the mayhem and took a little drive down the coast. We ate lunch at the Sea Hag in Depoe Bay and took our time exploring some new and old (to us) places.
We made the men try on some coats at the factory outlets in Lincoln City. They were not persuaded to buy any of them.

Anne and I tried on some hats in Depoe Bay.
And yes, I bought mine. But only because Jeff liked it.

We loved these crazy old lady hats at the artist's co-op in Lincoln City. The men were very disturbed impressed by them as well. We would have bought them just for the shock value, but didn't feel like shelling out ninety bucks right at that moment.

We stopped at a pottery place that I have been wanting to see for years. 
Anne bought me a mirror I was admiring.
And I bought her a couple of little pieces that she loved, just so that we were even because we love each other so much.

We went out to Vista House for a few days and visited the Painted Hills and the Newberry Volcanic Monument. 
Pretty sure Anne is taking a photo of my bottom in this picture. It was a recurring theme. 

On the way home, we met Bethany's family in Sisters. They were on the way out to VH for the weekend. My grandkids love their Aunty Anne. She brought them a massive amount of presents and spent lots of time with them, and I think they love her almost as much as they love me. Maybe more. But I'm not a bit jealous because she loves them too, and the more people that love each other in this world the better.

And then we walked around the town taking Sisters photos, because how could we not? 
My grammatical self wished there were apostrophes in the signs, but we can't have everything, can we?

We took a cruise to Alaska for our last two weeks together. It necessitated a car journey to Seattle, light rail into a hotel in downtown Seattle, and an Amtrak journey early the next morning to Vancouver BC. We arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon. The men were beat and wanted to take a nap, so Anne and I took a bus to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and spent a few hours in the trees, sans men. 

We walked along suspension bridges and suspended walkways between giant trees. It was amazing.
And I caught her coming out of the toilet!

And later, Anne let me eat a squishy Hershey's milk chocolate with almonds bar that she had been carrying around in her purse for days, because she takes care of me like that.

The next day, before we boarded the ship, we all took the bus to Stanley Park. We had plans to take a shuttle bus around the whole park, which is over 1,000 acres, but after spending a fruitless half hour trying to track it down, we discovered that its services had finished for the season. Phooey.
So we rode a little train (John's long legs were severely constricted) and then attended a military memorial service for Polish soldiers in Canada in the Second World War, which was a serendipitous aligning of events. 
There were bagpipes. And men in kilts. And a marching band.

We finally made it to Alaska. This one is in Ketchikan. 

We took a tour to Mendenhall Glacier from Juneau, and walked from the visitors' centre to Nugget Falls. There was a very nice girl helping people across this difficult spot on the trail and I thought how generous it was of her to do that. I figured she must've helped a few people and then got stuck there. Anne laughed and said no, she is a park ranger. Now I ask you, since when do park rangers wear skirts?
Oh well, she was still very nice.

During a tour to the Yukon from Skagway, we stopped at Caribou Crossing for lunch. And petted sled dogs.

In Fairbanks, just before returning home, we had dinner in a bar across the road from the hotel. The food was unmemorable, but our waitress was the sweetest, a girl named Angel from a remote native village on the coast. Anne and I were wearing our new hats. A lady who was working on the curb repair (which must be a constant task in Fairbanks because of the snow ploughs) admired them immensely. 

Well, that is that. Life is back to as normal as it gets around here.
It occurs to me that my sister and I were raised by the same mother, who is, above all, a nurturer.
And that is what we do for each other.
Which is kind of nice.