The Granny with the Magic House


IMG_0632It’s unsettlingly easy to make me feel guilty and inadequate. But all these blog posts and articles and encouragements to clear out your clutter before your kids have to—not making a dent on my conscience or behavior.

First, do you know how many years I cleaned up my kids’ clutter? Come to think of it, some of their stuff is still sitting at my house, mingled with my stuff, probably spontaneously generating more stuff.

Second, when I am gone (and I’ll be honest. I’d like to postpone that day till I am ancient and doddering and my kids are saying “We love Mom so much, but she’s ready to go to a better place). Where was I? Oh yes. When I’m gone, I like to think my boys will be going through my stuff and finding treasures. Treasures to remind them of their childhood. Mementos of how greatly they were loved. They’ll see all the saved drawings and “I love yuo mom” [sic] cards and little gifts made of pipe cleaners and cardboard. I want them to understand that to me, each was an expression of boundless love via small hands.

I hope they find mysterious items they can only speculate about. Is it old? Part of our heritage? Something precious? Isn’t this like a treasure hunt?

(I wish there was a stash somewhere of my grandparent’s stuff—especially the little bits of living belonging to the three of them I never knew. To see what they loved, what they thought was important. To see a bit of the history that is a part of me. What delight I’d find in that!)

Finally, I want to be the granny with the magic house. The house with unexpected delights in closets and corners and on bookshelves and the basement. I want there to be things they don’t have to worry about handling with care because Granny saved these things for just such a time as this. And there should be the fragile, lovely stuff to marvel at and cherish, to only touch with a grandparent nearby. There should be stuff with stories, stories that link them with people they’ve never meant and places that no longer exist.

I want them to be able to touch their heritage. I want them to see paraphernalia that connects them to past generations, read books their great-grandparents read, admire jewelry that was admired a century ago. I never want them to run out of clutter and accumulations to explore at Granny’s house, so they always feel there is more to discover. More mystery, more excitement, more objects to handle and marvel at and speculate on. Magical bits and bobs that transport them across time and oceans could be just around the corner, maybe on that top shelf or the bottom drawer or in the dark and dusty crawl space.

Some of my stuff ends up in the trash every time I go through it. But my acid test isn’t very strong:
-Is this stuff safe for the grandkids to play with? Even if it is a one-and-done pleasure, it just won a reprieve.
-Does this stuff elicit an immediate emotional connection? Does it link me to a place or person or event? As long as my brain encourages my feelings to respond, this stuff stays.
-Then there’s the stuff I hold dear only because of its inherent beauty, Does it evoke wonder? Bring me delight? Because it may delight my loved ones too, I’ll hang onto it. We’ve got the room.

Stuff is just stuff. But it can serve a purpose. That stuff can be a visible reminder of love and loved ones, of creative expression and events and people and places that faded into oblivion. Yet when the stuff hits our hands and our retinas it wakens something in the heart and brain.

My kids and grandkids may one day regret my propensity to hang onto stuff. Even so, I hope they take a final look on the way to the trash can and say, “She sure did love us though, didn’t she?”


I blame the mourning dove


mourning-dove-1980911_1920Have I mentioned that two of my predominant characteristics are sloth and short-mindedness?
The first is just a more dramatic way of saying I’m lazy.
The second means I can’t see the end of my nose from my face. In other words I can’t anticipate outcomes. I could never play chess or any other game of strategy. I can’t plan my murder mysteries past the next page, which makes for many painful writing sessions.

It snowed here over night. A lot.
I feed birds.
The connection between the above is that I’m too lazy to maintain bird feeders, and I don’t care if squirrels or the occasional possum snacks at the feed on my patio. The grandchildren and I enjoy tossing the food out the back door and watching the birds on the patio eat lunch.

The sloth-bird seed-snow connection occurred when I was too lazy this morning to shovel off the patio. I just swept a clear spot however far I could reach from the patio door.

The mourning dove-shortmindedness connection comes in because a mourning dove was on the stoop outside the door looking in wistfully.
I could almost hear him say “Please, mum, could we have some more? Ours is all covered up.”
(Another feature of my nature is assigning anthropomorphic qualities to everything. I’ve been known to apologize to inanimate objects after tripping over them. Wouldn’t want the footstool to have hurt feelings.)

So slothful me swept off the back stoop and 18 inches of patio. (I was, to give myself a little grace, in my robe, and it was barely light out yet.)
Short-minded and imaginative me rewarded the mourning dove by sprinkling food on the stoop, where he could enjoy a little mid-morning snack since he had been so polite.

Then I heard the thunk. Sure enough, a plump little junco had been going for the food on the stoop and flew right into the patio door. He got blown back into the snow and sat there. And sat there. And shivered. In spite of my prayers and begging forgiveness because I should have anticipated this, he continued to sit.

So I put on gloves and opened the patio door to pick him up. What was I going to do with him?
Good question. Short-minded, remember?
Maybe I planned to put him on near the garage service door where the snow had melted because of lousy insulation.
But it was what we like to call a moot point.
He flew away.
Rejoicing, I ran for the shovel (being fully dressed now) and cleared a fair portion of the patio and tossed out fresh seed and swept any remaining temptation from the stoop.

And I promised to never again be so lazy or short-minded.

That’s when the mourning dove gave me a knowing wink.


Photo credit: edbo23 at Pixabay

Well, we sure stink



I had a post all ready. It was this correlation between the disregard for human life as exhibited in the glut of school shootings, and the legalization of abortion.

My reasoning was that, no matter what we call it, or how good the rationale might be for it, abortion takes something that was alive and kills it. And an intelligent kid is going to wonder what makes a life a few minutes after birth more worth the government’s protection than a life a few minutes pre-birth?

Then I was going to espouse my theory that some disturbed people have internalized the question and come to the conclusion that there is no difference between a defenseless infant in the womb and a defenseless student in a classroom. Any excuse might do—the child is unwanted, the classmates are mean. The child has a birth defect, school discipline is unfair. The child and everything it represents will compromise parents’ quality of life, the school and everything it represents compromise the shooter’s power. So might makes right in both instances.

But since I research almost everything I write to death, I started checking on extreme abortion stances. That led to sites on extreme eugenics and that’s when I tore up (in a virtual sort of way) my 846 words ready to be posted to this blog, and decided it was time to kick the human race in its virtual rear.

Seriously. Humans are jerks. I, a human, raised by humans, am sick of humankind’s collective jerkiness. I am ready to resign my citizenship and become a dog. But the dogs probably wouldn’t have me.

What was I thinking, that our problems started with abortion? It’s just another scab on the leprous human condition.

Before 1973 and Roe v. Wade, “separate but equal” laws were in effect in many states and if you think blacks had access to perfectly equal toilets, jobs, drinking fountains, voting rights and schools, I have a lovely little farm with forty acres in Chernobyl you might like to buy.

Most of us pro-life people know that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was an advocate of sterilization. Oh, and she might have had some racist opinions to boot. But wouldn’t you know it. Just when I point my finger at her as a prize jerk, it wobbles over and lands on…Clarence Darrow! Yep. A big advocate of eugenics. While he didn’t support the killing of “imbeciles and morons” (because someone had to do menial labor for the intelligentsia. Truly.), he was all for chloroforming babies seen as unfit. Oliver Wendell Holmes helped make forced sterilization of “undesirables’ the law of the land.

Well sure. They were liberals. What do you expect? Then my finger jerked over and landed on none other than Teddy Roosevelt. And Winston Churchill. What? My conservative heroes? Then there’s Alexander Graham Bell. And even Helen Keller. Say it ain’t so, Helen!
All promoted, at the very least, sterilization of anyone who didn’t meet a certain standard of intelligence, ambition, productivity or morals. At worse, some advocated outright killing of the “unfit,” from infants to adults.

Of course we stunk as humans long before the early 20th century. We stunk before and during and after the Civil War and our “slaves are three-fifths of a person” policy. We stunk in France when we slaughtered each other in the Reign of Terror of 1794 and the massacre of Huguenots two centuries earlier. We stunk in Russia with the starvation of millions, with pogroms against the Jewish population (think Fiddler on the Roof). We stunk in Victorian England when children were just cogs in factories and we stunk during the Crusades when Christians massacred Muslims and we stunk in China and India and…well hey. Can you name a place where humans haven’t stunk? A time in history when some human wasn’t treating another human as something less than a human?



Seriously, I’ve had it. I don’t like us. I don’t even particularly like me. I was all ready to call out abortion (which should be called out as one of the most noxious). And then I start wondering when in the history of people that we’ve ever smelled really, really good? Never. NEVER.

Aren’t you glad I’m not God? Because I wouldn’t have died for us. I wouldn’t give grace and hope and the Spirit of the Divine to such a group of jerks. I would have tossed our putrid selves into a pit, sprayed some Lysol on our lingering stench, and left us to rot.

Not that we’d have an opportunity to rot. We’ll slaughter each other first.


Note- once I get over my snit I’m going to write a post on whatever is true and right and noble and lovely. Because really, if God didn’t give up on us, why should I?

Fishing for Compliments


I’m guilty, I admit it. When I was the epitome of awkward, shy teen, I would have given almost anything for affirmation from my peers. (Compliments from Mom and aunts, although appreciated, didn’t really count. After all, they loved me. They had to say nice things.)

Sometimes the compliments from friends would be so scarce that I would resort to fishing for a compliment. Ever done that? I’d dangle the bait—“I look so gross today” or “I made these cookies but they aren’t very good”—and then hope someone would contradict me with a nice juicy compliment.

It rarely worked. Peer groups, especially in junior high, are notoriously good at sniffing out neediness and rejecting it.

Somehow I survived but recently I’ve been thinking about the importance of genuine words of affirmation. If you have a minute, follow the link to my post at Heart”wings” today. I always love company!

With this ring…or was it that one?



Or that ringSeveral months ago I shared my engagement story.

Engaging (or, How About It?)
Below are the rings my husband thought had sunk to the bottom of the river.

With this Ring

On top is the engagement ring. I flashed it everywhere in the nine months before we married.
I made certain everyone in flashing distance knew I was engaged by using my left hand almost exclusively.
I’m a rightie, by the way.

The ring on the bottom is the one my husband slipped (ok, let’s be honest. He jammed it) on my fourth finger, left hand, during our wedding ceremony.

I wore them through pregnancy and child-rearing, baths and showers, cooking and baking and dish washing and puppy house-breaking.

Maybe that was the problem.

About 22 years into marriage, which would make it almost 10 years back, I was fusting with my rings in church. Fusting is the act of twisting the rings on my finger, pushing them up a bit, down a bit and then back around.

Something felt different.

I looked at the engagement ring where the biggest diamond was supposed to be and saw only prongs. Can I confess that I probably didn’t pay as much attention to the rest of the service as I should have?

After the final benediction I alerted my family, who all dropped to their knees to examine the carpet. A beautiful thing happened then. Everyone is church started looking for my diamond.

But no one found it.

I put the engagement ring in my jewelry box and just wore my wedding band. That’s the one on the bottom with the three smaller diamonds. And guess what happened? Yep. Those diamonds jumped ship and the naked wedding band cowered in my jewelry box with the naked engagement ring.

My husband graciously did not remind me that I should have had both cleaned and checked periodically.

For a month or so my left hand remained unadorned and I had to fend off a ridiculous number of men who thought I was unattached and available.
I’m kidding.

But I didn’t like the no-ring/not married look at all.

My mother, not long before my dad died, had bought new wedding rings to wear since the ones Daddy gave her were worn thin to the point of fragility. She’d willed those rings to my eldest son, so he could use the diamond when he was ready to get married. He wasn’t ready to get married when the Great Diamond Fiasco occurred and told me I could wear the rings.

When he was ready to get married, my son could afford to buy a diamond for his wife.
So I continued to wear my mom’s rings.

I loved my mom. She was a great mom, loving and selfless and funny. Every time I looked at my fourth finger, left hand, I thought of her.

See the problem? When you look at your wedding rings, you should be thinking, “I love my husband,” not “I love my mom.”

But there were always other things to spend money on and Mom’s rings continued on my hand while mine sat in my jewelry box.

On our yearly Chicago Christmas junket last month, my husband pulled a small plastic bag out of his pocket.

Inside were my rings.

The ones he had given me almost 32 years ago. He’d snuck them out of my jewelry box, brought them to a jeweler, and had new stones set.

So now my mom’s rings can go to my son to do with as he wishes.

And I can look at my fourth finger, left hand, and be reminded that That’s right! I do love my husband!