Tag Archives: grandmothers

Flip Flops


First of all, I’d like to remind everyone to stay hydrated.  I got a little sun stroked Wednesday and somehow in my dehydrated delirium ended up with the song Telephone Man stuck in my head.  It’s been three days . . . and it will not go away.  STAY COOL!!!  You do NOT want this to happen to you!!!

Today is my Grandma Summer’s birthday.  She would have turned 100 years old today; sadly she passed away 15 years ago after a short battle with cancer.  She was one of the most important people in my formative years.  She taught me about gardening, how to cook, how to be silly, and above all else, she taught me unconditional love.  Florence Charlotte Summers Erbentraut was a very special person, and I think of her often. Happy Birthday, Grandma!

The last time I wrote was from the cool beaches of Rocky Point, Mexico.  Last week in Tempe, AZ, the afternoon temps were close to 120 degrees every day.  It truly is a dry heat, and I’ve been comfortable enough living my life in the usual manner.  I liked having the grocery store practically to myself because when it’s this hot, most people take care of their errands in the morning.  In a few weeks when monsoon season begins is when I will be really uncomfortable.  I do not care for high humidity which brings out the cicadas that buzz all day and night, setting my teeth on edge.  The humidity and cicadas stick around through mid-October, so I’m focusing on the “good parts” of summer:  magnificent towers of clouds building in the east each day, frequent dramatic monsoon storms, night swimming at the community pool, and best of all, having my college kids home for the summer.

I’ve not been as productive as usual because Eve and William are watching New Girl for the first time and it’s super distracting.   I try to do the dishes or start dinner or fold the laundry, but next thing you know, I’m sitting on the couch giggling along with two of them.  What’s better than watching a favorite show with your favorite people???  School begins for me August 7 and for them August 28, so we have oodles of summertime left to get stuff done  . . . and enjoy lazy times together.

I’ve been doing a bit of shopping and am having such a hard time finding blouses long enough to go over leggings.  My middle-aged muffin top is not accommodating to blue jeans, and I realize soon the summer clothes will be out of the stores.  The one style I CANNOT STAND is the cut-out shoulders.  UGH.  Seriously, who looks good in that???  I’ve seen young women pull it off, but for the most part . . . NOPE.  It’s worse than the horizontal stripe fad that lasted too many years.  I find myself saying YIKES in my head whenever I see anyone wearing this unfortunate type of blouse, but then chide myself even louder (in my head), BE NICE!!! Be SO glad you can’t read my mind, because it’s a little wild and crazy in there.

I fear people will be saying YIKES when they see me wearing my adorable new straw fedora.  Every summer my face gets too much sun, so in an effort to avoid having a burned beak, I bought a trendy straw hat.  My kids saw me in it and said, NOPE, but I say YEP.  I sound superficial, but I’ve always loved fashion and style.  As a girl, I spent hours pouring over the JC Penney catalog and saved up $6 for a pair of culottes when I was seven years old.  I don’t remember the actual pants, but I remember the saving and pining for them like it was yesterday.  My mom was always sewing something, and I spent hours as a child playing amongst the bolts of colorful fabric at Cloth World and Hancock. Fashion is a creative outlet for me!

Today we spent an hour in the JC Penney just down the road.  Hubby needed new flip flops (his current pair is ten years old, and I insisted he upgrade) and then he tried on blue jeans and then he tried on more flip flops.  It felt like we were there forever, so I walked up and down the cool aisles, getting in some excercise . . . and humming “Hey Baby, I’m the telephone man. Show me where you want it, and I’ll put it where I can.”




Peacefully and Quietly


Winter came late to the desert this year, but FINALLY we are enjoying sweater weather.  I couldn’t have asked for a better Thanksgiving weekend and feel so blessed for the family and friends in my life.

The only thing I would change is what happened on Sunday afternoon–our youngest son, William, had to return to college to finish the last few weeks of the semester.  I felt so sad at his departure that I stayed in the house when his ride arrived.  Hubby helped him with his luggage, and I watched through the window (and shed a few tears).  Oh man, is it hard for me when my kids leave!  I was blue all afternoon, but “blue” soon turned to worried as snow and snow and more snow fell on the mountain road to NAU. Usually a 2.5 hour drive at the most, numerous accidents and slippery roads made it slow going.  After 4.5 hours, the boys arrived safe and sound.  Watching the comments on the NAU Parents Facebook page didn’t exactly help.  Those kids coming from California had a really hard time getting back to school.  Crossed fingers that there is not another snow storm when it’s time to leave school for the winter break.

I talked to William the next day.  He said he went to class in his cotton hoody, thinking nobody would be wearing their big coats yet.  The dumb kid nearly froze his arse off (and everyone else WAS wearing their “big” coats) but promised me he’d bundle up for his afternoon classes.  He sent me a few photos and ahhhhhhh, the campus looks so magical with its heavy frosting of snow.  Today most classes are cancelled due to icy roads and sidewalks.

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been sorting through my mementos drawer.  My most treasured prizes are the cards and notes from my Grandma Summers who lived in northern Illinois (that’s where I was born).  She loved nature and was a bird lover, always keeping an eye out for the flashy red cardinals.  One card from my drawer has a simple drawing of a cardinal resting on a pine branch,  with snow falling in the background.  The saying on the front reads, “Peacefully and quietly, the season gives us the most wonderful gifts . . . the joy in beauty and the wonder of love.”   The card is dated December 2000. That was Grandma’s last winter.  She writes,”Dear Mary, When I got up this morning the outside looked like the front of this card.  I went out back and it was so peaceful and quiet with the new snow falling.  We will not go far today, but I am working on Christmas gifts.” It is a nice newsy letter and ends with “I’ll talk to you soon.  Love, Grandma.” I like to think of Grandma putting on her big coat and walking out back, soaking up the peace and quiet as the snow fell gently over the pine trees and meadow behind her house.

It’s still hard for me to accept that she is gone, even though it’s been 15 years. Sometimes I need to talk to her so badly that I close my eyes and think to myself, if I wish it and pray for it as hard as I can, maybe I will call her number and magically she will answer. Or that if I mail a pretty card to her with birds on the front and a newsy letter tucked inside, a letter from Grandma will end up in my mailbox.  I know this is magical thinking. I know I’m lucky to have had such a special person to love. I take comfort from the words from another card in my drawer which reads, “Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones shines down to let us know they are with us.”

Stay warm, everyone.



Spring Smells


Welcome to the “Smells” version of Cheers Darling.  Step right up and bring your nose along for this essay on the “Smells Du Jour” edition of this here blog.  You’ll need your sniffer, your schnoz, your honker, your beak.

This morning I woke up to the faint scent of orange blossoms coming through our open bedroom window.  Hmmmm, the smells of Spring Things blooming are delighting my olfactory senses.  I love how each season arrives with its own set of scents, and when I think Spring in the Arizona Desert, I think orange blossoms, blooming acacia trees, Lady Banks rose vines (not true roses), and the large patch of nasturtiums which grows profusely in my front yard.  And the smell of the winter rye grass being mowed on a Saturday afternoon makes me swoon!

So as I said, I started my day with some fantastic smells, however, it was only minutes later that a really nasty smell reached my nostrils–the cat box.  Poor Hubby was on a conference call in the office when Tilly decided to do her “number twos” which chased him into the kitchen while I got to scoop the cat box. (This is a daily conflict at our house of Nature Call vs. Business Call.)  So I started thinking about good smells and bad smells, and then my thoughts turned toward a friend who has no sense of smell whatsoever. Imagine never smelling an apple pie baking in the oven on a winter day?  Thanksgiving dinner?   Fresh baked bread?  Coppertone sun lotion?  A juicy orange being peeled? Marshmallows toasting on a stick over a campfire?

On the way to school the traffic stalled, and the smell of cigarettes being held out surrounding car windows got sucked into my car.  Peeuuuw!  But when I reached school, I brushed against the creosote bush by the front gate and closed my eyes to deeply inhale this scent which always reminds me of summer storms.  During the day there were stale classroom smells after the kids ate their lunches, but when I opened the door to the garden area, the smell of fresh cilantro wafted in.  In the teacher’s lunch room, I wrinkled my nose at the smell of a vegetarian meat called Jack Fruit.  OMG, seriously nasty.  I was forced to take a bite and immediately spat it out.  Blech.  NOT FOR ME.  (Sorry, Lyndsy.)

Back in the classroom I noticed a small bottle of Lavender essential oil that had been offered to us to calm our lively students.  I do not wish to offend anyone, but this whole craze to me seems, well, a little crazy.  I have very intelligent friends who are 100% sane EXCEPTING that they believe a drop of smelly oil on your wrist or your temples will quell anxiety, change your life, and even ward off or cure disease.  Well.  If I’m going to wear a smell on my wrist that is not from the House of Chanel, it’s going to be from my “good list” above. Who wouldn’t feel calm walking around smelling like apple pie all day?  Why can’t I find a bottle of “Eau de Baked Bread” or “Hot Campfire” at the perfume counter?   I really don’t care for the fakey smells of the essential oils but would like for them to come up with some that would appeal to we more “practical” folks.  I’d like an essential oil that conjures up a salty margarita . . . or better yet,  a really hoppy IPA.  Now THAT would get rid of any anxiety I was feeling.

And let’s not forget nostalgic smells. Whenever our family returns to the neighborhood elementary school where the kids attended and where I often volunteered, we smile as our noses are greeted by that familiar “Mariposa school smell.”

From our condo in Mexico, I have a bar of soap that the cleaning ladies always put in the bathrooms.  It’s a small square pink bar, and the scent is so distinctive that when I lift it to my nose and close my eyes, I am transported to our beach condo’s kitchen sink overlooking the Sea of Cortez.

My favorite story of a nostalgic smell is this one:  My Grandma Summers was not a fancy person in any way.  I love fashion and pop culture, but she was never interested in any of that stuff.  I learned all my best stuff from her, and by that, I mean homey stuff like being a good friend, telling a good story, being a good listener, cooking, gardening, and helping others without any fanfare.  So the smell I associate with her (besides the smell of her onion drawer in her kitchen) is the pressed powder she patted on her face on special occasions, like every Sunday for church.  I took her last compact of powder with me when I lost her 15 years ago, and when I miss her, I will steal into the closet, open my “Grandma box,” and deeply inhale the crumbling powder which brings her right back to me.

And as Walter Hagen said so eloquently, “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”