Tag Archives: grandma

DGD Makes An Appearance

It happened. Actually it happened quite a while back now. I’m a grandma, and I finally understand all the talk about how amazing and wonderful that miraculous journey is.

People have always told me nothing beats being a grandma. Now I know it’s true. For future reference on the blog this will be DGD (Darling grand daughter). You can see from the photos that we’re kind of in love with this sweetie.

Even the Acknowledgments Made Me Laugh

by Peggy Browning

by Peggy Browning

I’m a follower of Peggy Browning’s Fifty Odd blog, so buying the book was an easy decision. I knew I’d laugh. I knew Browning would make me think and make me thankful for what I have. I had no idea I’d experience the full spectrum of emotions as I read. I took my time with the book, savoring each chapter like a weekly treat. It’s a collection of columns much like Sharon Randall writes, so Fifty Odd lends itself to leisurely reading; however, the deeper I got into the book, the more I found myself wanting to know more. Those weekly treats weren’t enough. I ended up reading the last half of the book in two days. Browning shares so many truths in this story. From love to loss to body image to motherhood to grandmotherhood to bucket lists, Browning delivers vignettes that touch the heart. It’s definitely a collection I’ll return to again and again. When you get to the end of the book, don’t forget to read the acknowledgments. Don’t read them first! Get through the book so you understand. When you close the book you’ll smile to yourself and you’ll cheer for Browning who chose the road less traveled.

I highly recommend this book, especially for women. In fact, I think I’ll buy another few copies for gifts.

Fifty Odd: Viewing Life After 50 Through Rose-Colored Bifocals by Peggy Browning available on Amazon.

Garden Tales Because Forgetting Isn’t the Answer

I think my love affair with gardens started as a child enamored with dirt.
It didn’t matter where we lived, dirt was my friend.
You could dig dirt and turn it into roads and mountains and cities and caves.
You could add water to the dirt and turn it into something you could mold, change, create.
On a hot day, water added to dirt left a cool smushy mixture I’d stomp around in for hours.
In the summers I’d spend weeks with my grandparents and their dirt and their gardens. I loved that time.
It was a simple time, a time before we were all so connected, so busy.
Watching seeds turn to plants and plants turn to vegetables and fruits was fascinating to a kid.
Grandma and Grandpa spent hours in the garden. They always let us help.
Back then, I was a master gardener. I grew peas and corn and potatoes and beans and squash and tomatoes and onions and watermelon and more.
Today, I can’t grow much of anything.
A few years ago, I tried.
I had a gorgeous garden in the back yard, but the drought hit and the birds started attacking my tomatoes looking for a way to get to moisture.
We put netting up over the garden, thinking it would help. I guess it did. Unfortunately, it also killed the birds because they got caught in the netting.
I didn’t plant that garden. I just tended it.
Last year I spent hours in the garden. And killed it.
This year I decided to give up on the garden. But my husband bought some plants anyway. We have them in pots on the front porch. Maybe I’ll have more luck with that than with the gardens of my childhood
In my research for Honor and Lies, I learned a lot about plantation systems and dirt. They called an area that ran across the deep south the black belt. The soil there was black and rich and could grown anything. At least a million slaves were forced to work the land there.
Sometimes people like to romanticize the plantation age. They like to think of balls and gorgeous homes and chivalry instead of violence and death and forced servitude.
Honor and Lies is told through the eyes of young women. They get to think of the dirt as a place to play, a place to pretend. By the end they see they’re trapped in a society that won’t let them go just like those birds were trapped in the netting above my garden. I can’t imagine the lives the slaves led. I’m sure I didn’t capture the reality of the horribleness of that system.
Some people say the answer is to ignore our past, to push it away and pretend it didn’t exist. I disagree.

A Tribute: Miss Ella

50% off coupon for Honor and Lies and the link to buy the book at the bottom of this blog.

Miss Ella, one of the main secondary characters in Honor and Lies, is named after my grandma. If you’ve read my blog, you know Grandma will always be one of my heroes.

Re-posted. Originally posted March 15, 2008

After 84 years you have plenty of stories to tell.
 It’s hard to believe my grandma lived through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.

Grandma remembers living in Bristow, OK, in a nice house. And then she remembers the tent city in Maude.
 At six years old, she didn’t know how they lost the house, and no one ever told her. But she was old enough to remember moving to the tent city. 
They were lucky. They had two tents. One for the kids and one for Grandmother and Grandfather. Grandmother had worked as a nurse with the lady who had the big house in Maude, so they were lucky there, too. The big house lady let them set up their tents on top of the hill near the house. The rest of the tent city lived below in a valley of sorts. 
She remembers going to school with all the other tent city kids. Getting swatted with a big ruler the first day because she wouldn’t stop talking. Loving that teacher anyway because she opened the world and her imagination.
 She remembers Uncle Robison from Lawton bringing up a big bag of peas and eating peas and only peas for months because that’s all they had.
 She remembers the doctor operating on her baby brother, removing a cyst from his groin, on the big house lady’s kitchen table and not charging for the operation.
 She remembers the babies born in the tent city. No doctors. No hospitals. And one baby born way too early so everyone in the camp took turns rocking the baby up and down to keep its heart beating, trying with everything they had for hours and hours to keep the baby alive. And then when it died, she remembers her mother’s nervous breakdown. How she screamed and screamed and wouldn’t stop until they took her away for a while.

Grandma said she’s never seen another time like that.The way the earth baked under the hot sun and day after day after day the winds blew and clouds would build, teasing everyone with the possibility of rain, but then dissipate without offering relief.

It’s so strange to think she and Grandpa lived through that. That the stuff I think of as stories in a history book are their real memories. 
It makes me thankful for what I have. I can’t imagine existing for months on peas and only peas. Or living in a tent and being thankful because at least there were two and they were on top of the hill.

In Honor and Lies, Miss Ella is a touchstone character. In life, Mary Ella, Grandma, was a role model, a source of wisdom, a person who showed unconditional love. I miss her.

(I can imagine how excited my grandma was to go to school and how much she loved that teacher for opening the world to her. 🙂 I had my own set of teachers who did that. Teachers who helped me learn to read, and then gave me books so I’d continue. Teachers and professors who encouraged me to write. Shout out to Mrs. Tagy–1st grade, Mr. Novak–5th grade, Mrs. Burdette–6th grade, Mrs. Bo–Junior English, Mrs. Gillespie–Newspaper and Dr. Hoffman–all of college, especially grad school.)

Honor and Lies coupon:  50% off for one month: coupon code is LH94Z; find the book here.

Parenting 202

Parenting should get easier…
After potty training…no
After old enough to tie own shoes…no
After day care no longer necessary…no
After junior high…no
After first job…no
After first night out ’til midnight curfew…no
After first date…no
After first prom…no
After first heart break…no
After high school…no
After first weekend away from home…no
After first semester away from home…no
After first semester back home…no.
After first accident, minor as it was…no.

A long time ago my grandma told me it never gets easier. I thought she was joking.
I should’ve known better,

The Weekend Update.

I’ll never forget my last true temper tantrum. It was horrible and loud and angry and at the end I got smacked by my mom and a talkin’ to by my grandma.
The smack from my mom wasn’t the last.
The talkin’ to was.
This was the day and age of feathered bangs and bright blue eyeshadow. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were my heroes. I wanted to be JUST LIKE THEM, (or maybe, if not them Miss Arkansas or Miss Texas) even though I couldn’t do a cartwheel to save my life and my somersault was, let’s just say, SCARY!
The Oklahoma summer was in full hundred degree plus bloom and my grandma had decided to have a garage sale.
It was my first garage sale.
It was NOT FUN.
And my mom gave me the feathered haircut by putting my hair up in a ponytail and, snip, it was gone.
I don’t remember what set the tantrum off. I don’t remember what was said. But I do remember what happened afterwards. And I’m not talking about the smack. I needed a lot more of those before I was done growing up.
My grandma, the sweetest, kindest, most Godly woman I’ve ever known, sat me down and we had a little talk about anger.
Seems my anger issues weren’t the first she’d seen. She’d had a few herself.
I about died. The only time I ever saw her angry was when she and Grandpa would have their “moments” at the lunch table.
She gave me some advice and even though I didn’t use it right away, I did eventually.
She told me that day that the only way I would ever get past the anger was to work at finding peace every day. She said my mouth was a bad habit. She was right.
The last three years I’ve been reliving the mouth stage, only instead of the one saying the words, I’m getting to hear them. Today I shared my grandmother’s advice with my daughter. Times are different now, and I might ought to use the old smack technique, but I can’t do it. But grandma’s advice was some of the best I’d ever been given. I don’t know why it took me so long to share it with my daughter.

I gave four workshops this weekend at our state journalism conference. In three of those conferences I said something I absolutely believe even though it sounds so exaggerated.
High school journalists are so incredibly important to their campuses. They ARE the voice of their entire student body. They are the record keepers for the year. More and more, we’re seeing student voices quashed. In this day of zero tolerance and random drug testing, rights are taken away from kids on a regular basis and slowly but surely they’re beginning to NOT CARE. What happens next? WHat about when they’re in charge of upholding a constitution they no longer understand? It’s a scary world out there. I’m going to do my part to make sure my students understand the dangers in this type of thinking.

I’m participating in a BIAW this week. Hope it goes well.