Archive for June, 2011

Grandchildren are Exhausting Joys

June 26, 2011

Grandchildren are Exhausting Joys

Earlier this spring I invited my four and a half year old granddaughter Abby to spend a week with me this summer in Munds Park, She happily agreed. I knew behind my back the rest of the family was laying bets on what day she would insist on going home. She had visited the cabin with her parents and had stayed overnight at my place in Scottsdale, but a week was new territory.

I brought books and art supplies and stocked up on her favorite foods (watermelon and chicken nuggets.) I signed her up for Vacation Bible School. Although I’m Jewish, her family is Christian. They don’t go to church often and I figured she needed an introduction to Christianity and a dogma to later rebel against.

Her parents dropped her off on Saturday afternoon. We rested for a while, and then went to the pool. I got in with her and swam for an hour and a half. Then she made friends with some kids and I got out but kept an eagle eye on her. After another hour we went back to my cabin, took showers, and ate dinner at the Country Club. We watched the Lion King for a while. I lay down with her in her own bed, read her stories, told her a few, and sang her two lullabies. She was out like a light.

She got up at six the next morning, the same time as my dog Sparky and me. We all took a long walk, watched more of the Lion King, and had breakfast. We went into Flag to see the Judy Moody movie. She loved it! The rest of the day went like the day before.

On Monday morning she was more than ready for Vacation Bible School. She told me she was going to make new friends. By the time I left her with her teacher, I was ready for a rest myself. Abby is very well behaved, bright, cute, and creative. I had forgotten that everything revolves around kids. I knew I should write or read or do something productive while she was at school, but I found myself unable to do anything but drink tea, read the paper, and do the crossword puzzle. I guess if I was married, there would be two of us to share the caregiving.

The days flew by. She initiated a “project” of making a lioness out of a paper plate, sticks, pine needles, plastic bags stuffed with newspaper, rope, and styrofoam balls. I was amazed at her ingenuity.

On Tuesday morning we went for a walk in the forest with Sparky. She ran and tripped on a sharp rock and got a cut on her chest. She told me she had broken her heart. That was just the beginning of her accidents. She managed to step on glass and cut both of her big toes which bled profusely. Many tears. And that night she had the first of her meltdowns. By seven-thirty she was tired and missed her parents. She called them and cried when she got off the phone. Then she picked a fight with me (racing around on my office chair) and dissolved into tears and said she wanted to go home. I hugged her and told her that was fine, that I would take her in the morning. We read books, told stories, sang songs, and she went to sleep. The next morning she informed me that she wanted to stay.

Each night after that she had a meltdown. Each morning she would insist she wanted to stay. She enjoyed Vacation Bible School and we went to see the Judy Moody movie two more times. Yes, I’ am an indulgent granny. We baked cookies and ate ice cream.

On Friday morning, her last day, she told me she didn’t want to go home! I explained that her parents and baby sister missed her terribly. She went to school and I was happy to straighten up my cabin, pack her clutter in her many bags, and relax. Later that afternoon we met her parents and sister at the MacDonald’s at Cordes Junction. She had wrapped cookies for each of her parents and made cards to give them. It was a happy reunion and I got to hold the baby.

All in all it was a fantastic week. I never would have made it without the respite of Vacation Bible School. It took me two days to recover my energy and focus. I’m looking forward to her visit next year.

Fitting Square Pegs into Round Holes

June 21, 2011

Fitting Square Pegs into Round Holes

I’ve had a few dates lately with very nice guys. Starman was a retired aeronautics guy who got his RN and assisted in eye surgeries. We connected through an Internet dating site and arranged to meet at a place in Sedona. He had relocated from Connecticut four years ago and got a divorce shortly after he moved to Arizona. He volunteers at the Lowell Observatory.  He likes to fish and hike. He was disappointed that I hadn’t fished lately. I admitted I hadn’t fished since 2001because my second husband was the one who set up the fishing trips thought I thoroughly enjoyed them. Starman also claimed to be a big hiker. I admitted that I walked a lot but rarely hiked. He was dismayed at that. I figure it’s better to be honest right away. Then I found out his idea of a hike was leading seniors on a three mile trek. I could do that easily!

He is also very disciplined about eating a healthy diet and only has pizza two or three times a year. I like my pizza, sweets and junk food. And he lives in Cottonwood, which is a bit of a ride from Munds Park. It’s even far if we meet in Sedona.

I excused myself to go to the restroom. When I came back he indicated maybe we weren’t a match because I was too sedentary and liked to go to the movies every week. I thought he was a nice guy and worth another date. He agreed and we decided to go out for dinner a few days hence.

On the long drive back to Munds Park, I thought about him. He was probably right. What is the sense of trying to fit my square peg into his round life? I am such a people pleaser that I am too willing to give a relationship a chance when I should see the pitfalls before one starts. Just because someone is a nice guy doesn’t mean that a relationship is possible.

I emailed him the next morning and said that after thinking it over, I decided he was right and cancelled our date. I wished him good luck.

On to the next!

Pine Needle Cleanup

June 5, 2011

Pine Needle Cleanup

 The pine needles have to be raked and the weeds in the yard cut every year at this time to protect the homes from fire. The pine needles also have to be swept from the roof. This is especially important as I have a wood-burning stove.

The first two years I owned the cabin, I had local companies do it. One year it was $160, and the next $240. Last year I decided I could do it myself. I bought work gloves, a rake and a weed eater, deciding on the electric one as I am afraid of fire and gas. I don’t even own a barbeque grill.

I forgot about the roof last year. Good thing I didn’t use the wood-burning stove. I went to work. It took much energy to rake up the needles. I put them directly into my large trash bin. That got filled up after twenty minutes. I found large black garbage bags in my storage shed and started to fill them. After I had done the driveway side of the house and part of the front yard, I was sweaty and pooped.

The next day a teenage boy knocked on my door. He asked if I would pay him to rake the pine needles. I told him I was only willing to pay five dollars an hour. He agreed and said his younger brother would help. I told him where the rake, garbage bags, and weed eater were and went down to Scottsdale for an appointment. When I got back a few days later, the job was very well one. There were nine bags of needles, stuffed full, in my front yard. I gladly paid them sixty dollars. I felt badly that their grandfather spent his time supervising and teaching them how to do it. They made more money doing other yards.

The local dump, about four miles away, has a “free cleanup day” and I decided to take advantage of it to get rid of the pine needles. It was hard work shoving the bulging bags into the back seat and trunk of my Honda Civic. Once I got to the dump I had to empty the bags as they only were accepting the needles. I made four trips. My car was disgustingly dirty. I went into Flagstaff and paid fifteen dollars for a car wash. Still it turned out to be economically a good move.

This year I asked the grandfather if the boys were returning. Unfortunately for me the boys were involved in summer activities and wouldn’t be up until July. Since the fire danger was extreme, I knew I would have to do it myself. I got the rake and gathered up the needles close to the garbage bin. It was filled quickly and I quit for the day.

One morning I saw my neighbor on his roof, sweeping pine needles. I looked at my roof and saw huge piles of pine needles. He offered to let me use his long ladder so I could climb up on mine. I agreed and promptly did something else.

I went down to the Valley for two days. On the ride up to Munds Park, I listened to the book Sara’s Quilt. It’s about a widowed woman who runs her ranch in the Arizona territory in 1906. She manages her hands, shoots when necessary, rounds up cattle, washes, cleans, and cooks. I was inspired by her pluck and determination in spite of a drought and the need to drill a new well.

Upon my return to Munds Park, I found that my neighbor had finished his pine needle cleanup. I could tell he was anxious to put his ladder away. I changed my clothes, got on my work gloves and located two brooms. He hauled the ladder to my roof and held it as I ascended. Once I was up there, he told me to holler loudly when I wanted to come down. I had my cell phone with me, so I got his cell number and told him I’d call when ready to descend.

I was a little nervous with heights, but I felt fine. The only problem was the slant of the roof. I am not known for my agility. Truth is I’m clumsy. I surveyed the job. There were individual pine needles as well as large piles of needles on each side of the roof. The piles were easier to deal with. Some of the individual pine needles did not want to be swept away. It was difficult to keep my balance while sweeping but I thought of Sara and how physically hard she worked and resolved to do this chore myself.

The first time I stumbled my heart raced. I was able to right myself. It happened a few more times but I never got close to falling off the roof. One of my brooms did fall off. It was kind of fun to sweep the gigantic piles of needles off the roof. I broke the handle of the remaining broom during a too enthusiastic thrust. Sweat trickled down my face and the mucous in my nose loosened so I was blowing it to beat the band.

Luckily my neighbor came out to check on me after an hour. He handed the other broom up so I didn’t have to sweep bending over. I told him I’d be finished in another twenty minutes, which I was. I called him and he held the ladder as I scampered down, feeling quite proud of myself. I peeled off my clothes, reclined on my bed, drank lots of water, and cooled down before I took a shower.

I raked up pine needles this morning, enough to fill my garbage bin. I’ve filled three bags already. One I put in my neighbor’s trash bin. The others will have to wait for next week’s collection. Since the exercise classes at the country club were cancelled until the end of June, I guess I work off calories raking pine needles and stuffing them in bags.