Gramma goes tubing

Gramma goes tubing

Despite having been born in Minnesota and living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes the first decade of my life, I'm not big on water sports. To any degree. I still don't know how to swim... even after having swim lessons as a child and again at 40 years old.

I'm not deathly afraid of water, but I certainly don't seek out splishy-splashy fun in water over my head. Not even water up to my chest, to be honest.

So it should come as no surprise that I've never whiled away hours in an inner tube on a lake. Nor have I engaged in tubing…

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First crushes

It saddened me to find out Davey Jones had passed away. He was the first star I ever had a real crush on. (Though Tom Jones was a close second, I must admit.) Unfortunately, I have no posters from the past to remember him by. In all honesty, I don't think I was even old enough to have posters on my bedroom wall at the time that I swooned over Davey.

While Davey may have been my first celebrity crush, my first forever crush was on someone else. I do, thankfully, have a poster of him:

That is my own personal rock star.

That is Jim.

Husband to me. Dad to my amazing daughters. PawDad to my awesome grandsons.

That's Jim as he looked 31 years ago, when I very first crushed on him.

The groovy colors weren't part of the original photo, of course.

I added those yesterday.

Because I still have a crush on him.

And crushes make you do crazy things.

And because I wanted a groovy photo to add to his birthday post.

Today is Jim's birthday.

Thirty-one years later, Jim is still my rock star.

Thirty-one years later, Jim is still my one and only forever crush.

Happy birthday, Jim.

The voting continues: If you liked this post—or Grandma's Briefs in general—please vote for Grandma's Briefs in the About.com Favorite Grandparent Blog poll. Vote once per day through March 21. Thank you!

Today's question:

What posters or pictures did you have on your bedroom wall as a teen?

The Saturday Post: Jim, Jimmy & Elvis edition

I'm in the desert and although I'm loving my time with Bubby and Mac, I wish only that Jim had been able to join us. So this one's about Jim. For Jim. Because, as Bubby says, we don't want PawDad to feel "alonely" while Gramma's away.

I hope this video of the <cuss> earworm my husband inflicted me with before I left song Jim's been singing the last few days will let him know we're all thinking of him.

And I hope everyone else will appreciate this brief glimpse into the wackiness otherwise known as My Life With Jim. Just imagine him twanging it up singing this tune. It happens. Often. Quite often. I usually groan when he starts it up; today I sort of miss it...and Jim. (All together now: "Awwww...!")

Feel a little less alonely now, PawDad? Bubby and I hope so!

Today's question:

What Jimmy Buffet song(s) do you know all the lyrics to?

Choices

I was going to write something profound, something memorable for today's post. But soon after waking, I found I had to make a choice: food for thought or food for Jim?

Food for Jim won out.

Why?

Because this is the sad state of my refrigerator today, and I leave tomorrow—without Jim—for the desert to visit Bubby and Mac (and Megan and Preston):

I didn't grocery shop before BlogHer, and Jim survived on what was in a similarly empty fridge. Although I'm pretty sure that's mostly because he ordered take-out every single night I was in San Diego.

But I can't do that to him again.

So unless he's to survive on sun tea, three tomatoes, three lemons, Snak-Pak pudding, condiments, and carrots—well, not really the carrots, as those are the dogs' treats—while I'm away, I need to go go grocery shopping. Today.

Sometimes we gotta make the tough choices in life. This is the one I must make today. And believe me, it's tough because I loathe, loathe, loathe grocery shopping. More than anything. Ever.

And let me make it known here and now that after making this tough choice and visiting the oh-so-loathesome grocery store to buy food to fill the fridge for Jim instead of posting profound punditry for my friends, I will kill Jim if he chooses to order out for every meal again while I'm away. Really. No joke. No codswallop.

Cross your fingers Jim makes the right choice.

Although...if he doesn't...the wrath he faces will surely make for a profound and memorable post for you all to read upon my return.

So go ahead. You make a choice: Which scenario will you be crossing your fingers for?

I'll keep you posted on the resultant state of the refrigerator. And Jim.

Today's question:

What is the state of your refrigerator today?

For this I may be killed

Jim may very well kill me for this. If there are no more posts going forward, you'll know what happened. If you know where I live, you'll know where to find my killer.

Despite the risk, I'm doing this anyway. I'm sending out birthday wishes to Jim right here, right now, wishing him a lovely FIFTIETH birthday!

I believe reaching the half-century mark warrants notice. Jim disagrees, has been hoping to keep it quiet.

Not happening, honey. At least not here on my blog. Because here I get to do what I want, and what I want to do is say Happy 50th Birthday to my handsome husband.

So here goes:

Happy 50th Birthday, Jim. I love you!

There ... that wasn't so painful. Right?

In other news, I've grilled up another grandma!

Marlene is a mucho magnifique grandma, so please read Grilled Grandma: Marlene and leave her a little love in the form of comments. You all are always so thoughtful and kind in the words you lay down for the Grilled Grandmas, and I so appreciate that. I'm sure the featured grandmas do, too.

Happy Wednesday to one and all!

Today's question:

What age has been your most memorable, for better or for worse?

Ring of ire

Jim and I were married very young. In fact, I was so young, my dad had to sign my life away for me in order for us to obtain a marriage license.

Being married so young means I missed out on learning many of the things young single women learn early on in adulthood. One of those things, a skill I've noticed of late I'm seriously lacking, is the ability to reflexively scan the left hand of those of the opposite sex immediately upon meeting them to see if there's a wedding ring.

I didn't learn to do that. I've never had reason to do it, never did it enough -- ever, actually -- for it to become a conscious or unconscious part of my getting-to-know-you ritual upon meeting someone new. Yes, it's lately become all too clear to me that if I were a dog, I'd surely be a lonely one as the whole sniffing out of potential mates simply and surely is not a part of my makeup.

And why should it be? I have Jim ... have for pert near 30 years ... so there's no reason for me to scan the hands of men.

But I've found in the last few weeks that my lack of ring-searching ability is a detriment -- especially when it comes to sniffing out potential mates for my single daughters. (Shh...don't tell them; they don't know I do that.)

Just last week a charming young man, part of the team that cleaned my chimney, spent enough time in my home and enough time making interesting small talk with me that afterwards I thought, "Hmmm...that's the kind of kid I would sure be happy to have as a son-in-law."

When I told Jim about him, he asked me if the young man was married.

"How the heck am I supposed to know?" I replied indignantly. "I'm not so desperate for a decent mate for my daughters stupid as to come out and ask such a thing."

"Well, was he wearing a ring?" Jim asked, as if he's so cussing smart.

Oh ... a ring. I never looked. Honestly, it never even crossed my mind to look.

It never crosses my mind to look at the left hands of women, either. Which wouldn't normally be an issue because, like I said, I am married ... and straight. But Jim and I have been trying to figure out if one particular couple at church -- a couple we've been loosely acquainted with for years, a couple about our same age, who have been married about as long we have and have kids near the same age as ours -- are, sadly, separated, possibly getting a divorce. They're never seen together anymore, and Jim insists there's a problem; I insist the husband likely just works on Sundays and can't make it to church.

"Is she still wearing her wedding ring?" he asked yesterday, again playing the smart guy.

We both spied out of the corner of our eyes while singing. Yes, she's still wearing her ring.

After getting no clear answer on the divorce question, Jim and I returned whole hog to the singing and praising and all those other things you do at church. Until he leaned over and nudged me.

"Hey, she's got a ring on her finger," he whispered, nodding toward the young woman in front of us, a gal we've known for some time, who was sitting mighty close to her new beau.

"That doesn't mean anything. People wear rings on that finger all the time," I whispered back.

He shrugged like a smartcuss who has a secret.

I leaned over and whispered quite forcefully, "That's why it's called <ahem> a ring finger."

Ha! Now who's the smarty pants?

I'm just crossing my fingers now, hoping that next time we see her dad he doesn't announce that his little girl is engaged. If he does, I'm pretty sure Jim's sure-to-follow smirk will make me want to smack him.

Or take the ring off my ring finger and throw it at him.

On second thought, maybe I won't throw my ring at him. For with an empty ring finger, I may be immediately dubbed a single woman by those quick-on-the-draw folks who check for such things.

And Lord knows I would completely cuss at being a single woman ... because I'm so darn handicapped at sniffing out potential mates.

Photo: follmann/stock.xchng

Today's question:

How many rings do you typically wear on an average day?

The Saturday Post: Ding-a-ling edition

This one's for Jim.

Sure, there are more polished versions of this, Jim's favorite Christmas carol. But I think these voices are lovely and especially impressive because they're kids.

Holiday question of the day:

If any Christmas song could bring you to tears, which would it be?

For the birds

We have a small waterfall in our back yard. All summer long it gurgles and burbles and lends a small portion of peace to our place smack dab in the flight path of the airport and mere blocks from one of the busiest traffic corridors in the city.

I love the waterfall. At summer's end, I lament the loss of the trickles of tranquility as the water is shut off, the pump put away for the winter. And winter has indeed come to my part of the mountains, despite the calendar saying it's still fall.

Yes, it's time to put the waterfall to bed for the season.

But Jim is rebelling this year, refusing to shut 'er down. He loves the waterfall more than I, spends more time fiddling with the rocks, the water flow, the chemicals to keep it clean, the daily clearing out the leaves and needles. And more time admiring 'the heads' he mounted at the top of the waterfall.

(If you read this post, you understand the significance of the 'the heads' in our lives. Despite the significance, I still groan regularly about Jim placing a miniature version of the national memorial -- courtesy of the darn Sky Mall catalog -- in our yard.)

So with temperatures falling well below freezing every night -- and during some days, too -- the little waterfall that could does ... keep flowing. Which I think is really stupid.

"What a waste of electricity," I say to my (usually) utility bill-obsessed husband, thinking that'll do the trick, show him how irresponsible and expensive it is to run the waterfall all winter. He just ignores me.

"You're going to burn out the motor," I keep telling him. It won't fully freeze up because the water's moving, he responds, adding, "And it'll look so cool when it freezes around the edges. Remember the one time it did that?"

Yeah, I remember. But it was a freak freeze, and we shut down the waterfall right after that.

Jim continues ignoring me, the water continues flowing and I continue thinking my husband's a nutjob.

Tuesday morning I let the dogs out and glanced over at the waterfall. It had frozen all around the edges, leaving only a small stream flowing down the rocks and a little tiny pool at the bottom. And in the stream and the pool were several birds, merrily splashing away, thrilled by their luck at finding fresh flowing water when all the birdbaths in the city surely were frozen.

It was a delightful sight. And once the birds flew off -- frightened away by Lyla and Mickey dashing out for their morning potty break -- the nearly frozen fall remained chillingly magical.

 

Much to my chagrin, I had to admit Jim was right. Just like the last time the waterfall froze, the icy sculpture definitely did look so cool.

Consider my tongue bitten. I'll back off cussing about the waterfall. I'll stop trying to convince Jim that not shutting it down for the winter is a really dumb idea. The water can flow, I guess, and I'll keep my mouth shut.

But I'm only agreeing to let it flow for the sake of the birds.

And in hopes that next time I'll be able to snap a few shots of the birds enjoying the unexpected deep-winter delight before the dogs frighten them away.

Holiday question of the day:

If you were to create and market an ice cream available only during the Christmas season, what flavor(s) would your concoction be?

Somewhere in time

Sunday at 11 a.m., Jim and I settled into the car for a six-hour drive home from South Dakota. We spent the the first half of that drive, nearly three hours, without conversing, listening only to the iPod on the stereo. Mile after mile, we spoke barely a word to one another, both of us lost in thought, considering the weekend, absorbing what we'd learned.

We had left for South Dakota early Saturday morning, arriving that afternoon at the nursing home where Jim's mom resides. She was propped up in her wheelchair watching "Giant" on the tiny television on her nightstand.

We said our hellos, hugged her fragile body, taped together her broken glasses that had the lens inserted upside down, commenced a visit. "Giant" served as the primary focal point, fodder for filling awkward moments as Jim and I attempted normal conversation with his once vibrant, talkative, normal mother.

Our attempts were met with stories from Mom about her outings to various places from her past -- visits she believed had happened just days before, despite not having left the nursing home for about a year. She talked of how grand it was to have attended and be escorted down the aisle in her wheelchair at her brother's wedding, a wedding that took place more than 50 years before -- 50 years before the amputation that took part of a gangrene leg and committed her to a wheelchair earlier this year.

She talked about recently attending church at the church she and I attended together 20 years ago, when the girls were young and Jim worked on Sundays and couldn't go with us.

She talked about phone calls and visits from relatives who, in reality, rarely call, never visit.

She talked of how beautiful Elizabeth Taylor was in "Giant."

We wrapped up with a promise to return in the morning, to spend more time with her before heading back home after the quick trip. Then we went to Jim's sister's house. His oldest sister, his medically trained sister, his sister who visits their mother each and every day, his sister who best knows what to do about Mom.

My first question to her as we unpacked our bags was, "Do we go along with Mom living in the past?" Or do we call her out on such things, try to jog her memory, try to bring her back to reality? The latter was the original tack when Mom first suffered a stroke and mental impairment from violently hitting her head during the associated seizures. It no longer felt like the right tack.

Sue assured us it's not. "She's too far gone and that part of her brain will never return," she said. We learned it's best to play along, to not frustrate and confuse Mom. We learned it's best to let her reminisce about days when she felt happy, content and whole. Days now lost somewhere in time.

That's not all we learned during our too-short weekend trip. From the last boxes of Mom's personal items, the final remnants to divvy up between siblings, we learned of a few of Mom's prized possessions, things that mattered most to her.

We learned of hundreds and hundreds of photos Mom had saved in her cedar chest, many of them photos she rarely shared with the family. Treasured photos of her grandparents, her parents, her siblings, herself. Beautiful decades-old renderings of lives well-lived: births, parties, communions, weddings, new homes, new babies, new starts on life.

We learned teenaged Mom was an avid fan of the glamorous movie stars of the '40s, collecting -- and keeping -- old-time studio shots, postcards, autographs, from Dorothy Lamour, Lana Turner, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Kelly and more.

We learned she still had Jim's baby book, achievement records, locks of hair.

We learned she had carefully tucked away the newspapers containing my very first published articles.

We learned she kept in a manilla folder in her desk every card, every letter, every thank-you note that Brianna, Megan and Andrea ever sent their beloved Granny.

We learned of these and many other things Mom held on to in hopes she'd never forget.

Mostly we learned -- during those hours of silence as Jim and I reclaimed the miles between South Dakota and home -- that we're not yet ready to fully consider the loss of Mom, of Granny. We learned we're not yet ready say the words that open the floodgates.

As we got closer and closer to Denver, we made comments here and there, turned up the radio a little louder. Jim sang. I whistled. Soon we were discussing the girls, the coming week, the never-ending to-do list.

We didn't discuss Mom.

Eventually we will.

Eventually we'll talk. Eventually we'll cry. Eventually we'll mourn.

Somewhere. Sometime.

Today's question:

What is among the treasured photos and papers you're saving?