Monday, October 25, 2010

Grandma ice skates with varying degrees of success.

 While at the Eden Project here in England, all three grandchildren (ages 2, 5 and 7) and their parents decided to try out the ice skating rink. Grandma Julie (me) thought she'd regret not trying it herself, since she used to love ice skating as a child, and what could be more fun than joining the grandBrits?

If you can pretend I'm not holding onto the railing I look quite impressive, don't I.
To the left side of the photo Shawn is showing Euan the basics of ice skating,
and to the right you can see Jon helping Ellie get used to the ice.

Elias spent a fair amount of time dangling from Jon like a Christmas ornament on a tree.

Ellie, almost 3, amazed us all by having pretty good
balance on her cute little strap-on 2 bladed ice skates.

Euan loved it, spending most of his time skating without help,
falling down and popping right back up to skate some more.

Grandma? Well, she was quite good at falling down--one time even considering
making a snow angel while laying flat on her back on the ice--but not so good
at the popping back up....

no, for Grandma, getting back up "takes a village."

Okay, so a couple of those falls caused a very bruised and swollen
left hand, and led to a visit to the First Aid booth for an ice pack
held to her hand by gauze wrappings. Plus she now has
an official Incident Report filed in England.

Notice the lovely shade of purple on the left hand.
A great time was had by all. And while I may have come away with bruises on my hand, knees, elbows, and pride, I came away without a single regret.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cornwall wanderings.

across the road from Shawn and Jon's place
I am in the English countryside, Somerset County, specifically. But even in such beautiful surroundings, the locals want to go "on holiday." Sounds so much more festive than "on vacation," doesn't it?

So they find other beautiful places to go, like this:
Cornish coast

More on this later. For now, simply gaze upon the beauty. You see, yesterday we went ice skating while on holiday, and I'm really really sore and tired. ;-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

About the book Daisy Chain, by Mary E. DeMuth

I just finished reading Mary DeMuth's novel "Daisy Chain," first book in the Defiance Texas Trilogy.

It was a hard read for me.

The story of the small Texas town of Defiance is told through the young eyes of fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper. His closest friend, Daisy Chance, has gone missing, and he's sure it's all his fault. Town secrets come to light during the search for Daisy, and we experience it all from Jed's viewpoint--the viewpoint of a child living in a house full of its own secrets.

I was too captivated by the story to stop reading, since Mary DeMuth has a writing style that wrapped me up inside Jed's head--and there was my pain. Having grown up in a house of secrets myself, the author's uncanny ability to write from within the mind of a child unnerved me. I lived each emotion as Jed did: each moment of powerlessness, shame, guilt or rage. I felt his tentative hope, his doubts.

What I loved most about this book was the very thing that made it hard reading, the author's ability to crawl inside a child's head and stay true to the telling through his eyes. For this reason I highly recommend this book and author.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Saying goodbye to Uncle Joe.

He was my father-in-law's "little" brother. They were tall. Like "how do I hug them?" tall. My father-in-law, Eldon, was 6 foot 6 or 6 foot 7, at that height i couldn't see up there anyway so I'm not really sure. Tall was (and is) their family's "thing."

I'm pretty sure they were each other's favorite brothers out of the 4 boys in their family. (I think they all doted on their beautiful little sis, Mary.) I remember many stories of the boys' escapades when they were kids, crazy stuff like hunting skunks with pop-guns. Country living is so far from my upbringing in Portland, Oregon that I was always fascinated. I mean, the only wildlife I saw was some of the neighborhood kids, and they'd be a much safer bet to hunt with a pop-gun.

As adults they stayed good friends, and I would hear stories of Uncle Joe's clothing factory from my in-laws. We still have an old platform rocker from my side of the family that I slipcovered in sturdy suit fabric brought home to me probably 25 years ago from Joe's wife, Pat. She had her own business running a fabric outlet of leftover fabrics from the factory. (I only wish I could still fit into the coat they sent home to me at the same time!)

My father-in-law meant a lot to me. He was kind and loving to me, and would do things with me he wouldn't with my mother-in-law, like shop or eat tuna sandwiches. He sat with me in silent support through the years of my miscarriages, he helped us build our second story house addition, he called my m-i-l's peanut brittle "peanut brutal" and tuna sandwiches "cat food" sandwiches, but he'd eat them if I made them. And he absolutely without a doubt loved his grandkids.

His brother Joe was that same sort of person. Unfortunately I didn't get to know him very well, but when I saw him a few years back, he was the same kind of sit-down-and-chat guy that my father-in-law was. He had a ready smile and an accepting heart. He had the same sparkle in his eye, and oh he made me miss my father-in-law.

When my hubby and I visited the Alabama family just a few months ago, I got to see him with his great-grandkids--and I loved it. Again, it brought me back to memories of my father-in-law graciously letting my children and foster children use him as a climbing wall. The two brothers shared a lot in their attitude toward little ones and in their quiet faith in God. And if anything, Uncle Joe was even more of a family man.

This is why I know that Joe will be so missed by his wife, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other family and friends. As much as I miss my father-in-law, I have a fair sense of the loss Uncle Joe's home-going to heaven will mean to those still stuck on the ground who loved him.

Goodbye, Uncle Joe. We will miss you.