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When the Grandsons Come

August 24, 2016

When our grandsons come for their summer vacation visit, it seems that most all my prior plans to do ‘ALL the fun things’ go out the window shortly after the tweenagers’ arrival.

In no time at all I’m already exhausted and sleep-deprived, and realizing that I’m not as energetically young and capable as I was when I was raising my own young sons. The missed sleep also hinders my brain’s abilities as well. I become an old bimbo, and a bit of cranky old lady hovers on the edges.

This time around, my early agreeing to let them stay up all night (meaning me too), a few nights running, when their grandpa was out of town and state on business, seemed to set a precedent and pattern for weeks to come, and became a hard habit to break.

‘What were you thinking?!’ my husband later asked.

‘I was just trying to be nice.’ I fully explained.

Egad, was I tired!

With a huge backyard pool plan falling through, among others (for various reasons), there was little left for me to do but to cook favorites, bake treats and scoop out scads of ice-cream drizzled with oodles of chocolate crackle shell, to make up for all I couldn’t accomplish.

For every week the boys stay here, I understand they generally gain a number (tons?) of pounds. Well, one’s back at his football and the other is distance running again, so, it will all even out. They needed to stock up on all those calories, right?

The moral of this story might be, not unlike the ‘good cop, bad cop’ method, I prefer to be good gran(ma) and leave the bad gran(pa) including laying-down of the laws, to the main man of this house. I just wanna have fun, and be nice.

From Tiny Tot to Big Bruiser

June 30, 2016

Anybody who’s had more than one baby, whether one or a few years apart, will relate to this. When my toddler granddaughter was first pictured next to her new baby sister in recent weeks, some of us were a bit surprised to realize how big that little girl had suddenly got.

We were reminded that there’s quite a difference in size between a toddler and a newborn. It’s a little stunning to suddenly see the big contrast. My toddler granddaughter went from seeming teensy, to huge, in one day.

This took me back to each time I brought a new baby into this world. Our former littlest, suddenly appeared much older than our previous perception.

And with that realization, expectations suddenly rose for he or she who was no longer the baby of our family. Time to grow up some, little one!

The younger they are, the more the adjustment can be for the usurped baby, but they’ll soon get used to their new position in the household. Our older granddaughter seems to be doing wonderfully: more happy to have a little sister, than sad to share her mommy and daddy with the new baby.

From where I sit, it’s a thoroughly lovely thing to welcome another little member to our larger family. It’s a true reminder of the most beautiful things in life. Loved ones, are the best life offers. And the littler they are, the more they seem like angels sent down to us straight from Heaven above.

Easter Treats, Toys & a Tiny Tot

April 11, 2016

What’s cuter than seeing your granddaughter happily holding a new dolly you gave her? What’s sweeter than seeing her cuddle a soft toy you picked out for her? And to see that she bypassed the sweets for the cute cuddlies? Not to say that she didn’t dig into those chocolate sweets later, but, you know, treats only last so long, and cuddle toys persist with love and fun far longer. And dolls, well, I’m a bit of a doll person, so I can’t resist regularly introducing my granddaughter to dolls of all my favorite kinds.

And what do treats and toys really have to do with the Easter Holy days? Well, to me, it’s the love. The sharing, the giving, the loving we bestow on the little ones particularly. And to those tiny tots: treats and toys do communicate love.

Of course, I don’t mind enjoying a little chocolate myself, and wearing more pastels during the Easter spring season. But hunting down eggs, chocolates, bunnies and other delights for the younger ones in our family, is the Easter finest for me.

My Jane Austen Hero?

February 14, 2016

Valentine’s Day has got me thinking romantic thoughts about my man again. And asking, ‘which Jane Austen hero is he’? As I’ve done before.

Sometimes I’ve thought he was a Darcy, other times, a Bingley, or a Knightly and even a Tilney. Occasionally, I’ve wondered how much an Edward or Edmund he is. I suppose, over the years (and decades!), my man’s many facets and moods have made him seem an Austen hero chameleon. I can fit him into most any Austen hero slot on any given day or hour.

No matter, he’s my hero. My very own.

And he doesn’t have to fit into any fictional slot, no matter how profound or Austen-like. As long as he fits with me, that’s what counts. As with many couples, we two work to fit together. Constantly. Ah, communication and compromise, SO romantic.

Come to think of it, as I actually have pondered many times before, I’ve never fully fitted any of Jane Austen’s heroine slots either. I’m a little bit of a number of them, at different times in my life. And then there are my own moods, of course.

Whether you have your romantic hero in hand, or not, worry not about having or finding a Darcy, a Brandon, a Knightly, or any other Austen hero creation. Don’t fuss which heroine you are either. It all matters not, save understanding human personality traits and characteristics, and how to mesh it all together nicely. Wisely. Lovingly.

Though Jane Austen’s heroes and heroines can be very realistic, for she was decidedly and even expertly a connoisseur of human follies and all, this is reality. And truth is stranger than fiction. More complicated and less understandable as well. Who’s life perfectly fits any romance novel, however classic and crème de la crème?

But yes, it is fun to compare your life to Austen stories and characters. Jane is romantically tops.

Reasons I Love this Season

December 15, 2015

The Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas are filled with more than a few of my favorite things.

Twinkling lights and trees, the music and movies. Sparkling snow and shining stars. Dears and deer, ribbons and bows, wrapping and wreaths.

Warm woolen scarves, sweaters, slippers and mittens. Leather and furry collars, cuffs, muffs and moccasins.

The food and festivities, family and friends, giving and smiling, hugging and loving, and spreading cheer.

A perfect baby boy, His loving virgin mother and protective adoptive father. Humble shepherds and wise men bearing gifts and honoring Him. A lowly manger in a stable with the star on high.

Now, for those who don’t believe in Christ, there is still much to celebrate and enjoy, so why not? For goodness sake, the world around us needs more caring, joy, charity and love. Won’t you agree?

Here’s wishing you all your favorite things this season of peace and goodwill.

No Tricks, Just Treats.

November 1, 2015

The kiddies and costumes were cute again this year. Many darling princesses and cute little pirates came to our door last night. Every witch or zombie seemed an adorable version. One standout was a perfect little female cop. Then there was a beautiful blond family playing out their night as lovely Native Americans. One memorable girl was a creative jellyfish, or at least her large twinkling hat was, and the sparkling streamers were as long as she was tall for her age.

Yes, we should have gotten pics, but the trick-or-treaters were hurrying on their ‘get candy, get candy’ hunt and we were too busy holding the cauldron full of treats for each to reach into, and looking at all the creative outfits. Many seemed pretty obviously custom sewn up, likely by their moms.

A surprising favorite was Nonni’s Biscotti, even amongst the tiniest tots, oft holding up their treasure treat, marveling at its newness. Many asked what it was and our common answer was simply ‘dip it in milk or hot chocolate’. Because we had plenty on hand, it was a last minute addition to round out the other Chocolate and Rice Krispie Treats, but its interesting popularity means we’ll be adding more of those next year.

They chose for themselves and only a few took two or more without permission first. When told they could take more than one, some said things like ‘you’re awesome!’, which is always nice to hear – and makes the sharing well worth it. Polite and gracious as most were, reminded us that their parents are doing a great job and the rising generation is wonderful.

Write like Van Gogh or…

October 5, 2015

Write like your favorite artists throughout history painted. The ones who made history, and even those who didn’t. Breaking rules, from the heart, after years or decades of practice. And standing on shoulders of giants who went before them, by following those genius paths, though still originating their own style. Coloring outside conventional lines, or just drawing their own lines altogether.

From Van Gogh to Claude Monet, from Da Vinci to Michelangelo, from Mary Cassatt to O’Keeffe, from Frederick to Edmund Leighton, from J. S. Sargent to George Romney, from Degas to Renoir… and the list goes on and on. Pick Picasso or any artist who inspires or resonates with you, and ask yourself why. Why do you love that art? What is it about the style or technique that speaks to you personally? Why do you keep coming back to look? And why do you buy?

I love art with meaning I can relate to or art that makes me feel. Especially in a good way. In this world of too much bad, mostly I want to feel good. I crave pretty pictures. Or simply colorful. Something pleasing to the eye. When it comes to fiction, I prefer happy endings, interesting people and main characters I can look up to or learn something from. True heroes and heroines. And believable villains that I feel free to despise.

With art, I’m drawn to things of beauty, goodness, family, or celebrating nature’s original art. Sunsets, stars, flowers, greenery, the sky and water in its many forms. Lately, Van Gogh and Monet capture that energy, those impressions, expression, contrasts and colors I marvel at when I go outside or travel. Or see in my vibrant dreams. And, Mary Cassatt has always lovingly touched on relationships of especially mothers and their children. I love to see true art that is family. Norman Rockwell’s art was memorable that way.

As a writer who was more an artist first, and a novelist who has studied classic art and literature many years, I keep thinking about my love of art, and how that focus relates to my own artistic endeavors. I’ve been pondering my favorite paintings and prose. Why do I feel the need to emulate them? What is their power over me? Why do they call to me, still, after so many years? And why must I create in kind?

Painting and writing are more similar than some might expect. Studying the works of masters you admire, emulating what you love, then honing your own style out of it all. The planning, sketches, adding details, and polishing until you’ve got something worth showing or sharing. Painting or writing, the process is basically the same.

Lately, I want to write like Van Gogh painted. Expressively. But uniquely me. Faux Van Gogh? Perhaps. Shutting myself away, breaking imposed rules, not caring if people call me crazy, using all the colors I love, writing with an expressive brush, painting stories that call to me personally. Feeling free to create fiction all my own.

Set yourself free to write or paint as inspired, and to evolve, to embrace ‘periods’ or ‘moods’ – like Van Gogh’s predominantly yellows or blues. When happy, write happy, when somber, write that way too. And mix it up too. One story doesn’t have to only evoke one feeling, nor hold to one arbitrary genre. And characters can be complex, like people tend to truly be.

So, before you try to write like Van Gogh painted, or any other masterful artist whose work you might admire, spend some time just drinking those paintings in. Live in their ambiance. Pay attention to what moods they paint in you, what thoughts are awakened, and any visions that haunt or seek you. Maybe even paint a little with that sense of being, before you begin writing that way. But, whatever you do, write like you’d love to paint.