springtree road

Toast

When it's cold outside like this morning, I always think of waking up at my grandparents' house in the winter when we lived with them for a while. They always kept it freezing in their house because Jimmy Carter told them to and so I'd sleep in the bed piled high with scratchy wool blankets and quilts so heavy I could barely move.

We got up before the sun rose and the first thing I'd do is stumble sleepily to the kitchen in my flannel nightgown and stand by the stove. The oven door was cracked open and there'd be a cookie sheet inside with slices of white bread dotted with pats of butter. It was the warmest spot in the house so I'd stand there and shiver until the toast was done.

I only ever got the last sip of coffee, but it was served in some seriously retro mugs, which of course weren't retro at the time. The ones I remember most were brown and orange striped. Sweet coffee, lightened with evaporated milk. Swiss Miss with those hard little marshmallows was in my mug.

When the toast was done, we'd sit down and eat, still shivering. The toast! There's not a slice of Wonder bread in my house today but I can still remember the taste - crispy on top, except for five spots of buttery deliciousness. And the bottom of the toast was still Wonder bread doughy, nice and warm. The combination of textures - mmmm. Add some Bama apple jelly and I can't think of anything finer.

These days, I make my whole wheat toast in a toaster and, even though I keep the heat at 66°, it's almost always warm when I wake up in the morning. It surely makes it easier to get up in the morning, but I don't know - I miss the old way.


She's not usually so snoozy

I have this post in my head on Rainbow Rock. Can you guess what that is? No? Well, it was making me a bit sad and I don't feel like being sad tonight, but I scanned some old pictures and a postcard and I'll write about that soon.

So then I was looking through the photos I've taken recently and came across these of Roxy.

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Love her light and dark paw pads.

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We really couldn't be happier with her. She's got spunk. She knows no fear. And she's great with V.

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V has taken to calling her Tooshie. Or "Little Dickens." No idea where she got either of those, but I love them.

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Have I ever told you how much I love taking pictures of yawning cats? I have a whole collection. Maybe sometime I'll scan some of the old ones for you. Looking at them one after the other makes me laugh. Out loud.

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I finally got to create my first Treasury on Etsy today. I loved putting all the photos together. It's called "V is for Violet." Please check it out if you have a moment & let me know what you think.


Then there came a day

I keep having these random childhood memories pop into my head. Not that I mind; I just feel the need to get them out.

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Going to see an animated movie called Fantastic Planet. I would've been 4 years old.

Walking down the street after the movie, window shopping. This was when we lived in Washington DC. In my memory, it was the same day that we bought a twin mattress set for me. The ticking was this crazy pattern of muted blue and green flowers, with maybe a little yellow. Very 70s, it always reminded me of that movie.

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My parents would sometimes take us to dinner at a friend's house. I remember lying on the sofa, pretending to be asleep so they wouldn't worry about getting me to bed and would continue talking so I could listen. I remember them saying they knew I was pretending. Then I remember waking up when it was finally time to go and being mad that I'd missed the conversation.

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When we lived in DC, my parents had a friend named Janice. She had cats - lots and lots of them. My favorite was a Persian named Sasha. They told me not to bother her while she was eating, but I couldn't resist and she scratched me. I didn't tell anyone about it because I knew I wasn't supposed to be bothering her. I thought she was the most beautiful cat I'd ever seen.

Janice had lots of kittens too. She showed me an old dresser drawer where she had them all lined up in a row and covered in a light blanket so they could sleep. I dreamed about that for years. Those little puffs of fur! I wanted to gather them all up into my arms for a big hug.

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Playing in the yard. I was probably 4. A man walked by and, ever friendly, I started talking to him. He kept walking, so I let myself out of the gate and started skipping happily down the street with him. My mom saw me from the window and yelled at me to come back inside the gate.

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My beloved squishy Alice Bear. Brown and white, constantly dragging her behind me. Me wearing a dress my grandmother made out of fabric she'd also used for a quilt that I think my brother still has. Sitting on the steps, pigeon-toed and with said bear; I have a picture around here somewhere...

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(You can join me over at Gayle's for more Monday Memories, if you have a moment.)


My grandparents standing on a bridge somewhere

GM and GD approx 1961

There's nothing written on the back of this photo, but here are the few things I can guess about it. I can guess that they are in the South - my grandmother never ventured far from the South (if she ever did, I never heard about it). I would guess that my grandmother made the dress she's wearing. This was probably around 1961. I'm guessing that because other photos that look the same (the photo paper has wavy edges) have "61" stamped on the border. And my grandfather is holding one of the cigarettes that would eventually give him emphysema. But that's not a guess; that's a fact.

This photo is in a book that I have (and need to return - yes I know, Mom! :) that my mom made for my grandfather when he was in the retirement home. It's a great little album. But I have noticed that in most of the pictures from the 60s that have my grandfather in it, he is holding a cigarette. Eventually he gave them up - not sure if that was before or after he got the emphysema, but I do know that emphysema is a rotten disease that you really don't want if you can avoid it. He didn't like me watching him having an attack - he'd go out on the back porch, away from everyone - but I saw my fair share of what it does to you and it's horrible.

I love this photo because they are young and stylish. Because they are traveling, which they loved. And because it is taken at an angle, which is how I take a lot of my out-the-car-window shots. So looking at it makes me feel like maybe I could've taken it, even though I was almost a decade away from being born. I also love it because so many pictures I have are either of Grandmama or Granddaddy, often with kids/grandkids or dogs they had or a car they had or standing next to a flowering bush in the yard. There aren't that many of the two of them together. I guess this is natural because someone has to hold the camera. And when I look at my own photos, it's the same with me and R.

So I'm aiming to start taking more pictures of the two of us together even though I'm as camera shy as they come. Because years and years from now, I might have a granddaughter who would love to see more pictures of her grandparents together when they were young.

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Join me over at Planet M Files for more Monday Memories!

And check out The Gennysent Page, where I'll be over in the sidebar with her collection of Vintage Vignettes!


Riding bikes

For the six of us kids on my grandparents' block, our bikes were all important. When we weren't playing with our Star Wars figurines, singing along to the radio, or playing Charlie's Angels (I was always Kelly), we were riding our bikes. Our boundaries were either end of the block. Occasionally we'd get permission to ride all the way around the block where the best hills were, but most of the time we just rode up and down the block all summer long.

There was one empty lot on our block and it had a hill that we could ride up and back down to the street. There was a dip in the road that made you feel like you were flying. We'd get up as much speed as we could and then coast over it with our arms held out wide.

Of all the bikes I ever had, my favorite was the Star Spangler, which I called my Evel Knievel bike. It was white with red and blue stars. The vinyl of the banana seat looked like an American flag. I have a picture around here somewhere ...

One of my favorite memories is of building the bike trail the summer I was 10. Laura and Sarah's backyard was big and full of trees. There was no grass, but lots of dead leaves. So we set about raking a winding trail. Then we found scraps of wood and built a small ramp. We gathered tree limbs to lay in the trail to jump over. We dug dips in the trail with a shovel. We raked short cuts, weaving through the trees. We worked for weeks and we did it all ourselves.

Then we rode.

Around and around, oblivious to the blisters on my hands and the muggy Southern heat, I raced and popped wheelies and flew through the air with my friends, the wind tangling my hair.

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You can read more memories today at Gayle's place - Monday Memories.


Grade Four

I've been tearing the house up looking for my birth certificate. Can't find it. But I did find a couple of old report cards that I've saved. One's from fourth grade, which has room for comments from the teacher.

What kind of student was I? Let's see:

1st quarter
Art: "Maya needs to work more freely. She doesn't express herself very well."
Reading: "Maya reads well but she needs to spend more time and put more thought into her written work. Also, she should be encouraged to read more outside materials."
Music: "Maya needs to learn to partiscipate [sic] more."
PE: "Maya works hard. She does suffer a little in wanting to give up. She could partiscipate [sic] better as a team member."

2nd quarter
Handwriting: "Needs work in holding her pencil correctly."
Spelling: "Needs to make sure she finishes her daily work on time."

3rd quarter
Reading: "Needs to take more care in her daily work."

Here are the areas where my teacher said I needed improvement throughout the year:
Is courteous and cheerful
Exhibits self control
Assumes responsibility
Uses time wisely
Works neatly and efficiently
Listens attentively
Shows creativity

Every quarter when I got my report card, I'd read it and be incredulous that she thought such horrible things about me. Every quarter I felt bad about myself, and then I wouldn't want to go back to school. It's still hard for me to read it.

What's funny to me today is that I still think I have shortcomings in those same areas: I need to learn to participate more, I give up too easily, I need to take more care in my daily work and finish it on time.

I'm normally pretty courteous and cheerful and I'm decent at assuming responsibility, but I could use some work with my self control (when there's ice cream in the house), using my time wisely (stop spending so much time on the internet), working efficiently (laundry/dishes/cleaning bathrooms), listening (when asked the same question 10k times by a 3yo), and showing creativity (the list is long and varied).

So what to do? Accept myself as I am? Or keep pushing myself to be what I am not? Is it ok to be flawed or should I work harder to hold my pencil perfectly? I am left-handed so I'm not really sure that's going to happen. Maybe, just maybe, I like my flaws. Some of them anyway.

Here are my 4th quarter notes:
Handwriting: "I have seen much improvement this year."
Math: "She has reached the successful mark in multiplication."
Music: "Maya is doing much better."
PE: "Maya partiscipates [sic] well now. She has grown much this period."

Well, thank goodness.

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I entered this post in Gayle's Monday Memories - please pop over and share your memories with us!


At Grandmo's

There's a story famous in our family of me, probably around V's age I'd guess, asking my mother to refill my cup of milk by saying, "Mo moke Mo."

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Years later, when my brother and I heard the story, we started calling my mom Mo.

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When V was born, her first and only grandchild so far, my mom decided she'd like to be called Grandmo.

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And so she is. V loves her Grandmo. There's always so much to get into at Grandmo's house.

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I love it when we get to her house and V runs up to her Grandmo and gives her a big hug and kiss.

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It warms my heart.


Why so glum?

This is a photo of Jack and Sybil from my small collection of family photos that I've swiped over the years. I've heard their names before, but I don't really know who they are.

jack and sybil

They don't look very happy do they? Still, I love this photo. I suppose I love all photos parents take of their kids.


©1974

Love this building, always have.

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In the late-1970s my father lived in the house that used to be to the right of it. There was no heat in the house. My dad used to roll my brother and me up burrito-style and lay us in the bed to sleep. I'd wake up shivering to the tip of my frozen nose at 3am, and he'd still be up reading the book he'd bought when we walked to The Hobbit Habbit earlier that day.

He baked fish for dinner on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil. He doesn't remember this; he says he doesn't like fish, but I distinctly remember the bones.

I remember him proudly showing me the sourdough pancake batter that was slowly, slowly rising in the fridge for Sunday morning. We ate them with honey. He says he doesn't remember doing this either.

His American flag backpack, the serious kind with a metal frame, hung on the back porch, always ready to go. Because sometimes you had to be on the road in the 70s. It was that kind of decade.

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Sometime in the late-80s or early-90s they tore down the house and the beautiful church to the left of this building (the church steeple remains, but it eluded my lens). They built an apartment complex in the area behind it. You can view the above photo large, if you like.

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Click if you'd like to read more stories about my childhood.


it doesn't matter what you say I just can't stay here every yesterday

We walked out to the car Friday afternoon and, as V buckled herself in her car seat, I went around to the other side and put all the stuff I was bringing in the backseat. When I closed the door to go sit in the front passenger's seat, V started to cry - she thought I was going to sit back there with her. So I did.

I was hoping to knit in the car on the way to the botanical gardens, but I get dreadfully carsick, especially in the backseat. So eventually I resorted to one of the few things that work for me - I rolled the window down a bit and breathed in the fresh air. The other things that work involve copious amounts of chocolate and/or fried foods.

It was cold; my cheeks were immediately numb. Cold never bothers me, so I closed my eyes and watched the lights change colors from behind my eyelids as we passed by alternating trees and open spaces. It was then that I started to remember.

When I was 6, the neighbors said they would start taking me to church with them to leave my mom and dad only one child to deal with for a few hours. The Thompsons were an elderly couple who went to church on Saturday and were out to evangelize us. The Perrys were the neighbors on the other side of us who would occasionally take me on Sunday so we wouldn't be evangelized by that crazy Saturday church.

The Thompsons took a woman to church with them too, Miss Ruby Love, and we'd have to drive to her apartment and then to the church. I was miserable sitting in the backseat of that pea green Chevy Nova with no air conditioning and not allowed to roll down the window. I would remove the small metal ashtray from the handle of the door and stick my mouth down into the hole to breathe in the tiny bit of air I could get. I did this all the way to Ruby Love's place and then would spend the rest of the trip sitting up properly, trying to keep from turning the same color as the car so that Ruby wouldn't think I was a bad child.

Back in the present, we passed the church that the Perrys used to take me to on Sundays. Up high on a hill, the church has one of those Jesus Saves crosses out front. I remember Mrs. Perry discussing with the preacher that I had never been "saved." I was eager for their help once I found out that I couldn't go to heaven unless I was saved. I thought it was going to be some sort of elaborate ritual, and I was excited to be let in on the secret. It was disappointing when all it involved was the preacher putting his hand on my forehead and praying for my precious soul. When I told my mom that I'd been saved at church that day, she wouldn't let me go back.

Our route to the gardens also takes us past one the mills where my grandfather worked and his father as well. This was the mill where he started out sweeping the floors because that was the job an 11-year-old could get when his parents told him it was time to quit school and go to work to help out the family. The mill is abandoned, but the little mill houses are so very cute now, each painted in a different bright color. I'm fairly sure university students live in most of them now.

Finally, just as I think I'm going to have to request that R and I switch places, we turn onto what my brother and I always called Puney Road. That rank smell in the air is the cows and horses the university keeps for agricultural study. I remember Saturday afternoons at 10 years old, riding home the long way after church to avoid the gameday crowds with the car windows rolled down in the orange Ford Maverick, keeping my carsickness at bay while we three yelled, "Puney Road!" from one end to the other.

And then there's the botanical gardens, just where I remember it, midway down Puney Road. These days, whenever we want to get somewhere, I have to picture the end of the journey and follow the road backwards to our starting point. Often I'll remember a shortcut along the way and yell, "Turn here!" Or I'll narrate the whole way - here's the skating rink where Sarah broke her arm except I wasn't there that day, here's where Roses used to be where Leanne put Nair into a bottle of shampoo and a lady bought it! Very probably the same stories over and over again. But I can't help it because the rose garden isn't where it used to be.

When my grandmother was alive, she loved going to the gardens. We went all the time. This was back before they built the conservatory and the only things they had to look at were lots of trees, a trail that ran into a swamp area halfway through, and the rose garden. But I'm living here now, a stone's throw from this town I hate, where I can't bear to take pictures, where I can hardly stand to write about it, but with a million pictures to take, a million stories to tell, and they moved the gd rose garden.

In the light of day, I had the most wonderful time there at the gardens. It was something different for us to do and there are nice trails now and pretty new landscaping. We spent two hours there, letting sweet V run all her energy out. We loved it, can't wait to go back. As we walked to the car to go home, an employee passed us in the parking lot. When he noticed our Tennessee licence plate he said, "A long way from home, aren't y'all?" I have a hard time lining all that up with how I feel tonight, writing this at 11:30pm. How sad and frustrating it is to be home when I can't go back to the people and places I love most. I can only ride through a city that feels so empty to me, the window down and the wind tangling my hair as I try to keep from feeling sick, because the people and the places I love are gone.


Coincidence

The last time we lived here, five years or so ago, I worked at the newspaper in town, selling classified ads. One day Jennifer, a coworker from another department, came over and asked me to rerun her ad for puppies they were trying to give away. When I pulled up the ad there was a photo of the pups with it, and it struck me that the linoleum on the floor of her house looked just like that at my grandparents'. We laughed about how crazy that was, I placed the ad again, and then we went about our day.

A few weeks later, I came home from work to find our new phone book in the mailbox. I took it in with me and set it on the kitchen table. It sat there for several weeks, since at that time having a cleared-off kitchen table was not my highest priority.

Eventually, there was a pile of things on the kitchen table that I could no longer ignore, and so I began to put things where they actually belonged. On the bottom was that heavy phone book. When I picked it up, it slipped out of my hand. As I grabbed for it I caught one page, which ripped out of the book as the rest of it fell to the floor. It was the Z section, but what caught my eye was my grandparents' old address on Springtree Road printed on the page. The house had been sold a few years before when my grandfather decided to move into a retirement home.

When I looked at the name of the person living there then, it was an unusual, but familiar last name - it was Jennifer, who was giving away the puppies. That linoleum floor we laughed about was my grandparents'.

The next day at work, I told her that my grandparents had built that house and asked her if I could come and see the renovations they'd made. A day or two later, I went over to visit after work.

So many things were the same and so many were different. The pine paneling was still there in the living room and kitchen, but the carpet was different (good idea, that). In the bathroom, they had removed all the original tile and put up pure white tile. The original tile was sort of a weird tan/flesh color, so I could understand that too. They put in a fancier bathroom sink, which was good because the original one had the hot and cold taps separate - though I used to love drinking the sweet well water that came out of that cold faucet after I brushed my teeth.

The whole time, I wanted to cry with gratitude for the things they kept the same and cry for the loss I felt at the things they changed. Jennifer chattered away the whole time about how they'd painted this or how it was a pain to get rid of that. Her words fluttered around my head, but I couldn't hear them. I could barely breathe. Then we went into my grandmother's bedroom.

They had taken the dated paneling off the walls and painted the bumpy plaster. There was a bed in the corner so that it filled the room diagonally (if that makes sense), which Grandmama had done as well. They had a dresser and that's about it; it's a small room. All that was fine, it was cute, even. It didn't bother me. But when I looked at the closet - they had kept the original door and the doorknob. Plain brown-stained, wood door, simple metal doorknob. Jennifer invited me to look inside and, as my hand reached for the doorknob, time and space blurred and I was 10 years old, sneaking into Grandmama's closet to steal a stick of Juicy Fruit out of her purse and try on a pair of her shoes from the 60s.

Grandmama didn't like me to go in her closet, but sometimes I snuck in anyway. I'd close the door in case she came into the room. I'd pull the chain to turn on the light and go through the few fashionable clothes she'd saved from years before. I'd put on the garish-colored lipstick she kept in her purse. Sometimes, if I was positive nobody was around, I'd come out and look at myself in her full-length mirror - lipstick more or less on, walking clumsily in too-big heels. If she caught me in there, she'd shoo me away, acting like she was mad though I don't think she really was.

As I turned the doorknob, the scent of the closet hit me immediately. They could've completely gutted that entire house but no way could they ever rid themselves of the scent of that closet. I can't describe it other than to say that the smell was the combination of musty and dusty with a dash of perfume from 1965. It almost knocked me off my feet, almost sent me crawling into Jennifer's bed like I did when I was 10 and my hamster died - rolled up in a quilt in Grandmama's bed, crying the afternoon away, positive that nothing was ever going to be the same again.

At that moment, Jennifer's husband arrived home from work. I was relieved to rush out of my grandmother's room and back to the kitchen to meet him, where at least the visions of cold, winter mornings warming up in front of the stove while the bread toasted and 30 Thanksgiving dinners couldn't accost me with their actual scents. Wes was immediately in tune with how I felt about the place and how I was feeling at that moment. His parents had bought the house from my grandfather, and he lived there with a roommate while he was in college. Then when he married, the roommate moved out and Jennifer moved in.

Wes was very kind. Jennifer was nice too, but she didn't seem to realize how emotional all of it was for me. I didn't stay long after that. I really just wanted them to leave and for me to have the place. I always meant to have that house, to buy it from my grandfather. Though I never want to live in that town again, I still want that house. I will always feel as though it belongs to me.

At Christmas this year, my brother was in town, and he drove by the house on Springtree Road. It's been sold again and now a family lives there. The back is fenced in now and there are kid's toys in the yard. This is as it should be. If I can't have the house, then a family should have it. I hope they're so very happy there. I hope they can feel what a happy home it always was for me.

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As you can probably tell, I'm quite hooked on nostalgia. So I'm entering this post into Hooked on Fridays at Julia's blog. If you want to know what other people are hooked on this week, check out the other sure-to-be-fabulous posts. And if you're here from Hooked on Houses, please take a moment to say hello if you can. I'd love to hear from you.


Winter's chill & White Linen = LOVE

One of my favorite winter memories is of my mom picking me up after work when I was three years old.

At that time, my mom worked at the Estée Lauder counter at a downtown department store. In the morning I went to a half-day of daycare so that my grandfather wasn't overwhelmed by a three-year-old all day. In the early afternoon he'd come get me, and I'd stay at my grandparents' house until my mom could pick me up after work. Often that was after dark, after my bedtime.

So Grandmama would get me ready and put me in her bed to sleep. I'd sleep there until my mother got home, and then she'd carry me out to the car and lay me in the back seat for the ride home to Myrna Court, the apartments where we lived (those apartments are gone now, but I have a couple of pictures).

What I remember is it being Christmas time and very cold. I remember pretending to be asleep when I wasn't, so that my mom would have to carry me out to the car. She had this short but heavy fur coat that she wore, and she'd hold me tight against her, wrapping the soft, warm coat around me to save me from the chill. I can still smell the White Linen perfume she wore that she got for free because she worked at the cosmetics counter.

Most of all, I remember feeling how much she loved me in that simple act - the cold, the coat, her warmth and embrace, the smell of her perfume all mingling together into the hazy glow of a dear memory. She always looked so lovely, so chic in the latest fashions, with the prettiest makeup and hair. My mom is a beauty, always has been. I remember being very happy and loving her so.

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Do you have a favorite winter memory? Please share - I'd love for you to knock my socks off with the happiness of it all.


Things you'll find in our new yard

My granddaddy was born and lived right around the corner from here, so I'm thinking of him a lot since we moved in. The other day, V and I walked around outside the new/old yard. I looked at the trees and the sky and thought, these are the trees and the sky that he used to see.

cedar tree

I've been thinking of a joke that he used to tell me.

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Three young boys are sitting on a log. The first one says, "My instinct tells me I'm going to be a great doctor when I grow up." The second boy says, "Hmph! My instinct tells me I'm going to be a great lawyer when I grow up." The third boy scratches his head and thinks for a minute and then says, "Well, my end stinks too, but it don't tell me nothin'!"

Granddaddy loved that joke.

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When my granddaddy was a kid, they would drive the wagon over to the nearby church (though probably not the original building, the church is still there and I'll be taking photos of it as soon as I can). Once, they were there at a revival - he was probably around 7 years old or so - and he got sleepy, so his mom told him to go lay out in the wagon.

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It was a stifling hot summer evening so he decided it'd be much nicer to lay on the ground in the cool grass. He fell asleep and didn't wake when everyone started to leave. He didn't realize he had fallen asleep under someone else's wagon and they ran over him, breaking both his legs. And that's the reason Granddaddy said he never served in the military.

Olden times were rough, weren't they?

tractor 2

V is getting sick or something. Stuffed up and red, itchy eyes. Kind of looks like allergies to me, but I'm going to remain in denial about that possibility. I have terrible allergies and I so hope she doesn't get them.

R took her to meet Santa at the mall yesterday. They got the cutest picture. She told him that she wants a baby doll. I think Santa can swing that.

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History lost

I went to visit the old homestead in Georgia this past weekend.

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This (double) fireplace was once part of the house that my grandfather lived in when he was a boy. His family built the house themselves. I know of one other house in town that my great grandfather built. One day I'll take a picture of it. Last I saw, it was home to a catering business.

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Now it sits to the entrance of someone's farm, right by the side of the road.

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My grandfather's family moved to town when he was about 10, if I remember correctly. That would've been in 1918.

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They moved to town so everyone could get jobs to help support two older relatives who needed help. Two years later, my grandfather dropped out of school to get a job at a mill to help support the family as well.

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He started out by sweeping the floors and ended up fixing spindles and other textile mill machinery for a different mill run by Johnson and Johnson. He and my grandmother both expressed their regret at not being able to finish their education.

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I could look at the fireplace and say, ok, this side looks like it was probably in the kitchen because it had a bigger hearth, and so the other side was probably the main room, but that's just conjecture. The kitchen and main room could've been the same room and the other side could've been a bedroom. Or the bedroom. Who knows? I couldn't find any clues left.

Across the street from the old fireplace, there is a small graveyard where my grandfather's parents, grandparents, a few of his siblings, and other relatives are buried.

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My grandparents used to take care of it along with another family with kin buried there, but I'm not sure who, if anyone, takes care of it now.

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This fellow was born on October 8, 1878, and passed away on October 7, 1926. He was my great grandfather's brother.

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And the old homestead? It's a subdivision now. This looks like an old irrigation system, though the bed of it looks like it was added later but made to look older than it is. I don't know for sure.

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My favorite part of the subdivision is the little dirt road that takes you through the woods.

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There's a creek that winds through all these trees, which go on forever. I like to imagine my grandfather and his brothers having full run of these woods - exploring, building forts, playing in the crick (as they would've called it). I like to dream of one day having a place like this myself, where V can do the same.

In reality, they were probably busy working most of the time - as soon as they were old or able enough. The family had a farm and their own mill. It was a hard life - I've heard stories. This picture is of my grandfather and his brothers. I'm not sure who the little girl is, which brother is which, or when/exactly where the photo was taken.

The C Brothers

They're all gone now, so there's no one to ask. History lost, just like that. I will try to do better with my own photos.


Dissection of a dream

I have this recurring dream where I'm standing in a shallow stream. Pristine water flows past me, cooling my toes. The stream bed is the smoothest, sparkliest pink granite you've ever seen. My pants are rolled up and I'm leaning over, hands underwater, feeling the flow. I pick up a beautiful pink stone. I look at it and the mica shines in the sunlight. When I look again, it's still a pink stone, but it's in the shape of a tooth and I realize that I have lost one.

This stream actually exists, though there's no pink granite, but instead fine, sparkly sand. It runs through Helen, Georgia, unless I'm completely misremembering.

When I was a kid, my grandparents would take me on weekend trips to the Smoky Mountains. We'd go to Helen, or to Bryson City, North Carolina, or wherever. We'd drive up to see the leaves in the fall, or to some small town festival in the spring. Most often, we'd go wherever there was an open-air Gospel singing going on. My grandparents were big fans of a Sunday morning show called Gospel Singing Jubilee. My grandmother loved The Inspirations, The Florida Boys, The Happy Goodmans, and anyone else who sang old time Southern Gospel. She kept a picture frame with a photo of The Inspirations on her dresser, along with a picture of her brother dressed in his military uniform. Sometimes we'd play her Gospel records in the living room, singing together and clapping in time to the music.

One day when I was around 6 years old, we were in Helen, strolling through the shops. My grandmother was buying some souvenir or other and I noticed one of those little boxes that holds those birthstone rings by the cash register. I had to have one. I loved my little topaz ring - for about five minutes. Soon after, I waded into the middle of that shallow stream to cool off, leaned over to touch the fine sand, and watched my new topaz ring float right off my finger. I looked and looked for it, but it was a gold band with a yellowy-brown stone - pretty much the same color as the sparkling sand. It was gone. I asked for another - it seemed so unfair to lose it like that and I knew it was cheap - but they refused. My grandparents didn't reward carelessness.

I've long wondered about the origins of my dream. I recognized the stream and the idea of a loss occurring there, but I couldn't understand - why a tooth? Looking up losing one's teeth at an online dream dictionary, it mentioned health problems on the horizon and having your words coming back to bite you in the butt. I don't put much stock in dream dictionaries.

Last night I realized that the key is the color pink and that the dream doesn't signify one loss, but two.

On another trip to the mountains, my grandparents bought me some cotton candy from a street vendor, and at the first bite something felt strange. When I looked at the pink spun sugar, I realized there was a tooth in it. It was one of my front teeth - I hadn't even realized it was loose. That was the easiest tooth I ever lost, no pain and no blood. We laughed about it and I wrapped it in one of Grandmama's silver Juicy Fruit wrappers to take home and put under my pillow.

Seems so simple now: pink cotton candy = pink granite. Mystery solved. I wonder now if I'll ever bother to have the dream again. Doubt it.

***

Come back tomorrow for my first giveway - my favorite book from when I was a kid...


My corner

I have to mention that today the clouds over the mountains were astoundingly beautiful and that the color of the sky was a fantastic blue. When I see such things, I am so very happy we moved here. It's just gorgeous.

R took V out for a while and I spent my time unpacking a few more boxes. There are still many boxes left to unpack and I am not at all sure how all of this stuff is going to fit in this tiny house. In fact, I'm sure it won't fit. Some of it is going to the storage space we rented, some of it is going to Goodwill, and some of it is getting tossed. It has been this way at every place we've lived. At least we'll keep our best and most favorite things, I suppose.

I was thinking today about the corner I had as a kid.

When I was 7 or 8 my parents divorced and we lived at my grandparents' for a while. It was during this time that I laid claim to my corner.

Even with three bedrooms, my grandparents' house wasn't very big, so I didn't have my own room - other than a small, unused area between the sofa,the wall, and the tv. Actually, I'm remembering now that it wasn't unused - it had a magazine rack that my grandmother moved for me so that I could have the space to myself. Since I had mine, my little brother claimed his behind the chair on the other side of the tv. His was more private, which I envied, but mine was bigger.

In my corner, I would keep whatever I held precious at the time, usually hiding it under the sofa. The things I kept there were almost always small enough to fit in a pencil box. For a long time, I had every newspaper and magazine clipping about Raiders of the Lost Ark that I could scrounge. And my Star Wars bubblegum trading cards. I had almost 300 of those.

On the wall I taped up posters, usually pictures of Shaun Cassidy from Tiger Beat. I remember my mom getting me an iron-on of Shaun and ironing it to a t-shirt for me. Too thrilled with myself, I ran outside and was immediately set upon by the neighborhood kids, who made fun of me for wearing a Shaun Cassidy shirt. They started pulling at it and soon Shaun's face was all stretched out so that he had a little piggy nose, which just made them laugh harder. I ran inside and pulled down all my posters and swore that I hated Shaun Cassidy, that he was stupid. I sat in my corner and cried.

I also put stickers on the wall, which must've driven my grandparents crazy. Garbage Pail Kids. Horrors. What was I thinking?! It took them years to get those stickers off; they were stuck good. But I'm glad they indulged me. I guess they understood that everyone needs a little space to call her own.

Above my corner there were shelves hung on the wall, mostly holding framed family photos or a card sent in the mail, but also a few other things that I loved playing with when I was allowed. This was one of them. There was also a clock - the dial looked like a captain's steering wheel and the base lit up, playing music and sending fish swimming in a circle. I wonder where that clock is now. I think my side also held the Rolls Royce model car with radio that my grandfather had. On my brother's side were more pictures, a green Depression glass candy dish, a common milk glass vase, and a model of a covered wagon. I always wished the covered wagon had been on my side, especially whenever I was reading books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Eventually we moved out to our own townhouse, but I kept my corner for several more years, until I didn't need it anymore. As I've said before, I would love to be able to thank my grandparents for the care they took of me when I was a kid. Now, as we're unpacking and I'm setting up V's space to call her own, I am so happy to be able to give that space to her. She's just fallen asleep in her own bed for the first time ever. I can hear the sound machine, playing rain. The house is dark and peaceful and happy.


Granddaddy's maple

granddaddy's tree

Yesterday I was packing up my desk (hey! it's finally clean!) and I found some old photos. This picture I scanned in was taken in 1996 with my old film camera, a Pentax K1000. I remember when my grandfather planted it - he planted two, one on each end of the yard. When he planted them, they weren't even as tall as we kids, and we spent the afternoon jumping over them, which I'm sure made my grandfather crazy. He was very proud of his yard and I'm sure he didn't love our football games and general shenanigans on his front lawn, tearing up his grass. In the next year, those trees grew taller than the house.

You can see a bit of the house, the beige brick, the white awnings with red stripes. I was just thinking about the windows of that house the other day. Our new little rental was built in the mid-1940s, about 10 years before my grandparents', and when I went through it I realized that all the windows were new. I wondered what the original windows looked like. At my grandparents' house, there was a crank that turned the window to open them and they swung out instead of lifting up. The window lock was a curved latch that always reminded me of an elephant trunk.

You can also see my grandmother's camellia bushes - those are the three really tall ones in front of the porch, if you can make those out. They're kind of dark. To the left of the porch was monkey grass that I was always afraid of for some reason, and on the right, which isn't shown in the picture, was the area where I used to love to play when it rained.

The last little detail I notice in the picture is in the window on the left. I have no idea what you would call it, but there is one of those round pieces of plastic that magnifies things when you look through it - like people used to put on their van windows in the 70s. My mom got it for my grandfather, and he put it there so that he could see when the mail truck came. Just thinking of that kind of makes me sad. Whenever there's a big change in my life, I start thinking of my grandparents more. Maybe because things rarely seemed to change there; they were my rocks. Now my life seems to change drastically every year. Our new home, as I've said, is very, very small. It's too small. But what really sold me on it, besides the gorgeous hardwood floors, is that it was the owner's grandmother's. With no dishwasher and big bushes of blackberries and raspberries in the yard, I can see myself washing dishes in the evening and canning jam (no, I've never made jam before). I may not ever be able to live in that house on Springtree Road again, but maybe I can find a connection to my grandparents wherever I am.


Sweet tea and plum juice

sweet tea

I was having lunch the other day with my standard drink of milk and I started thinking that I would much rather have a sweet tea. Sweet tea always reminds me of summer and Grandmama, so that started me thinking of all the summertime drinks I loved when I was a kid.

Grandmama made her tea not so sweet. Always a saver, she put in just enough sugar for you to know that it wasn't unsweetened tea. She always made it fresh for dinner (lunch) and supper (dinner) in a yellow McCoy Hall teapot, pouring the hot tea over large glasses of ice. It drinks mighty nice when the weather gets hot outside - and you don't have air conditioning inside (except for the window unit that they never ran). I remember in college, I had a friend who came down to school from Vermont. The first time we ever went out to dinner together, I ordered a sweet tea, and she turned up her nose at it. I was incredulous. I told her she'd better watch herself, because sweet tea would catch her soon enough. By the end of the summer, I was laughing when she'd order a sweet tea. I told her I remembered her saying she'd never drink sweet tea. "But it's so hot here," she said, "and besides, it's gooooooooood." Yeah, that's what I thought.

Another favorite, of course, was Coke. Do I remember the last time I had a Coke? Um...no. Not because I don't like it, mind you - I could drink it all day. But, well, you know. Coke. High fructose corn syrup, lots of calories. Anyway, let's not think of that today ... Coke! I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company. It's the real thing, baby. I remember drinking it from the bottle (perfection) and playing the game under the cap - never winning, of course, and always ticked that my cousin Leanne was one step ahead of me in the game. Then one day my granddaddy decided Chek Cola was much less expensive, so he switched to that. It wasn't the same.

If it wasn't Coke, it was Budwine. Budwine was a cherry soda pop originally named Bludwine because of its red color. If I could find me some Cheerwine, I'd put it in a glass and pretend it was Budwine and I doubt I'd know the difference. I remember thinking Budwine was really cool because they started making it about two years before my grandfather was born. Unfortunately, they don't make it anymore.

My favorite summer drink had to be the plum juice that Grandmama made. They had a plum tree that grew these tiny, tart plums that weren't very good for eating. The neighbors had the same kind of tree and they never trimmed the branches that hung over on our side of the fence, so Grandmama considered them fair game. She'd gather tons of plums and put them in this big, metal bowl that she would heat on the stove. I'm fairly sure she added water and she definitely added copious amounts of sugar - anything beyond that I really couldn't say. She would boil it all, then pour it through a cloth to strain it, then bottle it in Coke bottles with the plastic caps. The bottles weren't airtight, though, and after a few weeks the juice took on a fermented taste. That's when we knew it was ready to drink. Grandmama would only let us have a bottle occasionally, so that it would last all summer. All the neighborhood kids loved it. We thought it must be wine, since it was fermented, and we'd often quizz each other on whether or not we were acting drunk after downing a bottle.

I have a box of decaffeinated Luzianne teabags that I got a couple of weeks ago. Usually I make my tea really sweet, but I'm trying to lose some weight so I think maybe I should cut way back on the sugar and call it remembering my childhood instead of dieting. Maybe I should check out some thrift stores for a nice yellow teapot.


Thinking of Grandmama

in dc

I'm thinking of my grandmother today. Why? I think because somewhere I saw a recipe for buttermilk pie and anything having to do with buttermilk reminds me of her. The smell of it transports me back to her kitchen immediately. I've never made a buttermilk pie before, but now you can bet I'm going to.

How I wish I knew more. How I wish I'd pried more stories out of her - pried any stories, really. She didn't talk much about the past and when she did, there weren't a lot of details.

My understanding of things is that her father was an alcoholic and that he and her mother divorced. And that her mother married another alcoholic. And so my grandmother left home at around age 16. I'd be afraid to ask how that happened.

She left school after sixth grade to work in order to help the family. I don't know what kind of job she had, but she ended up working at a mill. The story I remember her telling me of meeting my grandfather was that she had been out to the movies with some girlfriends and she met him in the street. I think they loved each other; it was hard for me to tell - until after my grandmother had passed away and then every time I saw my granddaddy he told me how long it had been since we'd lost her.

I think she had a lot of secrets. I know she knew a lot of sadness. She was a woman who was stuck in her life, who resigned herself to her lot. I think her biggest regret was her lack of education. She read a lot, though they were mainly bad romance novels. Maybe she just wanted to escape.

She sewed and cooked and cleaned her house. I remember her antique sewing machine that she actually used. Sometimes she'd let me push the pedal, telling me when to stop and start. I loved her pinking sheers too and I used to drive her crazy tangling her bobbins and spools of thread.

My grandmother is the one who always told me that you weren't finished washing dishes until you had wiped the counters and the table. Her house was never a mess. I should be so good at the housekeeping! She always kept a rag hanging and a damp paper towel (which she used again and again) on the countertop, ready to wipe down a mess.

My grandfather did the gardening, but my grandmother considered the flower bushes hers. She loved the camelias and the old fashioned roses and the gardenias - even though it was my grandfather who took care of them. She also worked hard in the kitchen, canning lots of the vegetables from the garden. Sometimes I wonder what she would think of all these blogs I like to read, like SouleMama, who appears to do things a lot like my grandmama would've.

Two of my favorite memories: Grandmama sitting on the sofa and me lying with my head in her lap. She'd brush my hair or just run her hand over my head. And then the time during and after my parents' divorce, when we lived with my grandparents for a long, long while. I slept in her bed with her and she'd let me drape my leg over her hip and sleep right up close to her. I really needed that feeling of security at that point in my life. Once I asked her if our sleeping arrangement bothered her and she said no, that we should keep sleeping like that. I can't thank her enough for that.


Sand dragons and playhouses

I want to write about my grandmother, yet I keep thinking of things about my grandfather that I need to get down.

Doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire. Doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire. There was soft, red dirt and a million pocks all along the edges of my grandfather's carport. He told me that doodlebugs lived there. Their names imply that they are much cuter than the reality of them. He showed me that if I swirled a thin stick or thick twig in one of those holes and sang the rhyme, the doodlebug would grab on and I could pull him out. I loved pulling them out and watching them scoot back down under the fine dirt.

***

My grandfather built me a swimming pool in his backyard. It was half the size of the bed of a truck. He dug it, poured concrete, laid the edge with bricks. He stuck a short length of old garden hose in the drain and fashioned a plug out of a hunk of wood. It was rough on my knees and elbows - not the least bit comfortable. I'd suit up and alternately sit or lay on my belly in it, watching him work in the garden or staring at the white clouds float through the blue sky. When I was too old for it, he used it to keep small branches he pruned from trees until they dried out enough to burn them. And after that, he broke up the concrete, filled it in with dirt and reclaimed his yard.

***

He always kept scraps. Scraps of metal, scraps of wood, the same way my grandmother kept scraps of fabric to make quilts. You know, they reused everything they could. Out of his scrap wood, my grandfather made me a playhouse. It had one door and one window. My grandmother made curtains for each. He never asked if I wanted him to do things like this for me. He'd just get an idea, make it and not even tell me about it - all of a sudden, there was a playhouse in the backyard. He was an excellent granddaddy.


A public service message

I was about 8 years old when my neighborhood friends, Laura and Sarah, got sick of all the cars speeding down our block. They were twins and two years older than I, so they pretty much ganged up on me and I pretty much did what they said until the day I got so fed up that I cracked a stick over Laura's (Sarah's?!) head.

So one day after a particularly speedy racer drove by, we came up with a public service message to be delivered to anyone who passed. The plan was for my younger brother to lie in the middle of the street with his bicycle beside him, as if he had just fallen. Then Laura, Sarah and I would wait on the side of the road for a car. As the car neared, we were to walk out into the street and hold our hands up to signal the driver to stop. Then we were to sing Stop! in the name of us, before you kill our friend! a la The Supremes.

Once the car had stopped and we had sung our piece, Sarah planned to walk over to the driver's window and give a little prepared speech about the Very Serious Dangers of Speeding Down a Residential Street and how all the kids on the block would appreciate it if they would just slow down when driving through. Then we would carefully help B up and walk him to safety.

If that went over well, we were going to work on some flyers to pass out too.

We practiced a lot when there was no traffic.

The problem was B didn't want to lie in the street when a car was coming. And I didn't really want to explain to my mother how I got my little brother run over. And then our song didn't really make sense without him. And we couldn't come up with a better song.

And really, we were just chicken.


Dipper

Do you ever feel that things in the past are in exactly the same place as you left them? I often feel that I could get into my car right now and drive down to Georgia (save for the baby sleeping on my shoulder). I could park in my grandparents' driveway and walk in the door to the back porch. Immediately to my right I would find the spigot with the old galvanized steel bucket underneath to catch drips. And sitting on the little brick ledge would be the gourd.

This gourd my grandfather had as far back as I can remember. He grew it, cut it, hollowed out the fat end, dried it, rubbed oil on the outside. He used it as a dipper to water the plants in the garden. There are a few items that always say Granddaddy to me: a two-toned, caramel-colored 1976 Volare, an old metal level, an emerald ring from Penney's, and that gourd dipper.

After years and years of regular use, he glued the gourd when it cracked. Then he taped it with duct tape when it leaked. He made other gourd dippers that he never used because he liked that one. When he died, I got the gourd. I had it for a couple of years but gave it to my brother. As much as it means to me, it means even more to him. But I have the level. And the ring.

So in my mind, when I want things to slow down, I go to the back porch and fill up that bucket. I carry it to the garden, the thin handle putting dents in my palm with the weight of the water. I slowly water each tiny sprout, careful not to disturb the roots. I feel the sunshine on my back, smell the laundry drying on the line, and watch the light reddish dirt turn dark as it soaks in the water.

It's all still there, just like it was.


King snake, garden snake

One day, I was probably about 7 or 8, I found my grandfather sitting in the garden. When I asked him what he was doing, he pointed to the ground and told me he was watching the snakes.

There were two snakes there - what my grandfather called a king snake, which was just a plain black snake, and what he called a garden snake, which was a bright green. I would like to be a good blogger and look them up for you, but I can't handle looking at pictures of snakes. But at that time they didn't bother me.

So there were these two snakes there, black and green, in the dirt under the pine tree, hugging. No, they weren't hugging, he told me, they were fighting. I wanted to know why he didn't stop them. Well, you don't stop snakes from fighting. They'll kill each other and then you don't have to do it.

I had seen my grandmother chop the head off a snake with a hoe - just like chopping the head off a chicken, she said. I'd never seen her chop the head off of anything before that day, since Bell's carried chickens already chopped up for you, but it made me feel safe that she was prepared to do just that if need be. You never leave a snake in the yard or you'll get a mess of snake babies in the house, so chop it she did. Because God forbid.

So I stood there beside him and watched the snakes writhe together. It was a slow process - apparently they'd been at it a while and were tuckered out with the dying. Eventually I got bored.

A few days later, I saw them again. They were dead. And flat. Weeks later, they were flatter still. I never understood why he didn't move them, toss them somewhere out of the way. Eventually, they were gone. Into the dirt, I imagine. Into the peas or corn, growing in the tomatoes or watermelon.

Years ago I had the idea that I would paint this scene of the two snakes intertwined under the pine tree. It will be a folk art-type painting (the only way I'd know how to do it), with a crown on the black snake's head. I don't have any paints, though, so it'll have to wait.


Stay a spell...

back porch at grandmama's

The photo above shows my grandparents' house in 1961. I don't know the girl in the picture, and I wasn't yet born. They've got the materials out to lay the border of the patio, the dogs keeping watch. The house hasn't been bricked up yet, there are no awnings. You can see some of that wonderful old metal lawn furniture. To the left of those chairs is where the spearmint will grow and to the right of the walkway will be the dogwood.

The patio—I can't think of a better word for it, though this is not what we called it. I'm not sure we called it anything other than "outside." It was a little area of brick my grandfather laid outside the back porch of their house that led to the driveway, a place to "set and stay a spell." Sounds simple enough, but it was easily one of my favorite places at the house. There was a 1-foot wall at the back of it, always with something planted there. Usually a small tree or a large bush and then other smaller plants around—marigolds were a favorite, impatiens, for several years he had heather. But there was always spearmint growing. I don't remember it ever being used for cooking or tea, but it always grew. I loved it. The great thing about it was that as kids, we could be pretty rough with it—pulling leaves to crush and smell, tromping through it—it was so very hearty. This is one of the things I will plant in my own yard, when I get one.

There was always a good place to sit on the patio—you know those old gliders? Granddaddy painted the furniture a different color every other year, usually green or red. Gliders are slow, relaxing, comforting to me. I'd sit on the glider with my grandfather, my feet hanging off, and he'd glide and we'd talk. I'd ask him questions, very often when will the watermelon be ripe, Granddaddy? I'd bring him a glass of sweet tea in the heat when he'd rest after cutting the lawn. It seemed like he was always lawnmowing.

On the opposite side of the spearmint was a dogwood and a holly tree (hated the holly—no fun with my perpetually bare feet). The dogwood was planted in a small bed. My grandfather raked the dirt around the tree daily, his own tiny Zen garden. Around the bed he placed the smooth river rocks he painted red and white. Whenever he would cut a low-growing branch off the tree, he would paint the wound white, sometimes with a smiley face in red.

I loved the bricks and how moss would grow in the rounds. I spent a lot of time pulling perfect circles of moss out and planting them in other spots in the yard where I would forget about them until they died of thirst a few days later. I remember spending afternoons laying down with my face on the patio, petting the moss in the hot summertime, hugging the cool brick.


Chicopee and snap beans

When I was three years old, my mother worked at the Estee Lauder counter downtown at Davison’s. In the morning I went to daycare. In the afternoon, Granddaddy would pick me up and take me back to his house until it was time to go get Grandmama from work at Chicopee. The back door was always open. So everyday I would run in, swinging wide and letting slam the screen door, scoop up the bottle of chocolate milk my grandfather had left on the table for me, and jump on the sofa, laying down to drink saying, “I am so tired!”

***

Granddaddy had a wonderful garden every year. He grew peppers, okra, beans, peas, corn, several varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers for pickling. We had a sliced, salted tomato both at dinner and supper all summer. For supper, Grandmama would get a big bowl of snap beans and I would help snap them and pull the strings. We’d either sit outside on the back patio area or inside on the sofa together and work quietly. For years of my life that was a summer afternoon.

***

We would leave early to pick Grandmama up. Granddaddy would park on the hill facing the building so we could see everyone walk out at quitting time. Sometimes we’d get out of the car and walk around a little bit because we’d get bored waiting. Grandmama would bring me a lemon/lime from the drink machine. It came in an opaque plastic cup. I loved drinking it and then crunching the tiny ice pebbles, still sweet from the soda. On other days, we’d stop at the Dairy Queen and I’d get a chocolate-dipped cone or those lime sherbets they used to sell in the shape of a star that I can’t remember the name of.


Dreams of Springtree Road

v2 grandmama's house

When I was a kid, my brother and I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house on Springtree Road. Built in the 1950s, they were the first house in the neighborhood, built on the corner lot. Originally, the house was made of cinderblock, but by the time I got there, it had been bricked up. I have a picture of the cinderblock house around here somewhere, if I can find it, I'm going to scan it. Maybe I'll do something fun with it for my mom and my brother. (UPDATED: Found it!)

How can I describe the wonderfulness of that house in a short post that I'm really only writing in order to just get something up ASAP? I'll try just one scene from my childhood.

As long as we stayed in the yard, we were pretty much free to roam around with no supervision. Not that it was a giant yard, but it was big enough. The front of the house has a small porch and on one side of the porch was a crab apple tree and some bushes. I liked hiding in the tree. I liked hiding behind the bushes, especially when it rained. Because even though the rest of the yard had regular Georgia dirt, this space right here had very fine dirt. With little, tiny pebbles. And the windows had awnings (those are gone now), white metal awnings with red stripes and trim. When it rained, the water dripped from the awning over my grandmother's bedroom window to this soft, sandy dirt and washed the little pebbles so they sparkled. Lots of mica in the sand. Moss grew there as well. So I'd sit on the moss, covered from the rain by the awning, and sift the dirt and pebbles with my hands while a tiny puddle formed from the rain. It seemed very clean to me, very serene.

As an adult, the majority of my dreams take place or somehow magically end up at my grandparents' house. They have for years. My brother reports the same. Occasionally, I will dream that I've come to visit. My grandfather is usually stuck in some pattern of wandering around the house, looking for something to fix. I'll give him a hug. My grandmother will be frying chicken and making "chicken bread" and I'll hug her too. "R. will be over soon - I can't wait for you to meet him," I'll say to my grandmother. I can't wait for her to see V., the great grandchild she never met. How they would love one another!

When I wake up I'm always disappointed. R. and V. never show, my grandparents are just figments. It felt like I hugged them, touched my grandmother's fine, dyed-black hair, opened the kitchen curtains for her, but I didn't. My daughter has plenty of grandparents, but none like mine. Times are different now. Grandparents are younger, even if they really aren't. My mom blogs like crazy - my grandmother wouldn't have given you a hill of beans for a computer.