A while back I decided to write a special story for each of my grandchildren. For the past several weeks I’ve been struggling with the story for my youngest granddaughter, and it seems to have reached the point where the more I work on this story the worse it gets. Before I decide whether or not to give up on this story entirely and start over, I have decided to take a break from it for a few weeks. And, I’m not going to work on any of the other stories until I understand what has gone wrong with this one.
And, that’s why I’ve just this minute decided to complete “Cee’s Share Your World” weekly questionnaire every week this year. I want to make sure I keep writing regularly during this little hiatus, since I’m not going to have a writing project to work on for a month or so. Also, I think I’m ready for the challenge of posting something at least weekly. And, if I’m to have 52 posts by the end of 2016, it’s obvious that I must start by first getting caught up. So, I begin with 2016-Weeks 1 AND 2:
As a child, who was your favorite relative? Hmmm. That’s a tough question. My sister and brother, and my cousin Carla were my favorite playmates. My favorite adult relative was probably my maternal grandmother. She could be a little strict with us (I’m sure I got more than one swat on the behind or spent more than one eternity confined to a chair), and after every event that involved the consumption of large quantities of candy (especially Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s, and Easter) she would make us drink a bitter hot drink she called “sage tea”, so we wouldn’t get worms from all the sugar we’d eaten. I have a vivid memory of the three of us sitting on her back porch trying to choke down our ‘tea’.
So why was she my favorite? Because she kept a large book of Grimm’s fairy tales in her linen closet, and being asked to get that book for her was a thrill because it meant we were going to hear a story. I loved looking at the drawings, but mostly I loved listening to her read the stories as we sat on the floor around her upholstered rocking chair. My favorite stories were “Snow White and Rose Red”, and “Little One-Eye, Little Two-Eyes, and Little Three Eyes.” I haven’t thought about those stories in years and about the only thing I remember is that Little Two-Eyes was a kind of Cinderella, with her mother and sisters always being mean to her because with her two eyes she was nothing special; she was ordinary because she looked like everyone else.
Grandma’s house and the way she lived was also fun. She never learned to drive, so we walked to the grocery store pulling a little cart. She had a garden every summer, and she grew morning glories around the house. We were always allowed to pick strawberries and wash them off with the garden hose, and I loved watching the morning glories close up at nightfall. In the middle of a small patch of lawn in the backyard she also had a little peach tree that never grew any peaches. In fact, I don’t think it ever grew at all, but she never gave up on it. In the basement she had two or three heavy crocks full of homemade pickles, and things like pickled watermelon rind. And, in her laundry room she had a wringer washing machine. We were always eager to help with the laundry–what kid wouldn’t love cranking a big handle and watching the water squish out of the clothes?
Looking back, I guess today we would call her a ‘high energy’ grandma. And, she was very much her own person. She practiced a fundamentalist religion and lived according to the values she believed in–she simply didn’t care what anyone else said. Even when I was very young, I remember somehow understanding her attitude that it was her life and she was going to live it her way. But, mostly I remember her as always busy–cooking, baking, cleaning, canning, doing laundry, sewing and mending, gardening–but never too busy to talk to us, or read a story.
If you could be a tree or plant, what would you be? I would be a flowering tree, probably an orange tree, wallowing in the wonderful fragrance of thousands of white star-shaped blossoms, then showing off dozens–maybe hundreds–of sweet oranges.
What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?
First, this is the sort of question that makes me want to quibble: if I’m awake before dawn then, obviously, I’m also awake before noon. That said, I prefer get up early, although I don’t like getting up in the dark; I like getting up with the sun, not before it.
Would you like to sleep in a human size nest in a tree or be snuggled in a burrowed spot underground? This question is easy: I need a view, so I would take the human size nest in a tree. The first thing I do every morning is open the blinds; I need to see the world outside and the weather. While I like to sleep snuggled and cozy, I think an underground burrow would feel suffocating, not cozy.
Do you believe in extraterrestrials or life on other planets? Yes, I believe there is other life out there. I would be more shocked to discover that we were the only life in an infinite universe than to learn of life on another planet or to encounter an ET. One of the great things about living high in the mountains, away from the city lights, are the night skies. Just seeing the wide swath of stars that comprise the Milky Way makes it impossible to imagine that we’re alone. And, if we’re all the life there is in all this, I can’t imagine anything feeling lonelier.
How many places have you lived? You can share the number of physical residences and/or the number of cities. I’ve lived in eleven cities, all but two of them in Colorado. But, while I was growing up, we averaged at least one move a year, and sometimes more. To the best of my recollection, by the time I was 18 I’d had 15 different addresses. This doesn’t include my great-grandmother’s house and the cabin in Wyoming where I spent every summer beginning when I was six or seven (maybe younger) through age 18. It’s no wonder Nanny’s house and the cabin hold such significance for me now, as they were the only real “homes” (places that were always there) I had as a child. And this nomadic childhood seems to have set the stage for the ensuing years, as (again, to the best of my recollection) I’ve added another 29 addresses since age 19. I’d like to think my current address will be my last, because I love the deck and my view, but the condo is so small most of my things have been in storage for almost three years. I do think that living without having every single thing I own around me has been good as it’s given me a better perspective on what I really value, so paring my possessions to a manageable size no longer looms as the daunting (and somewhat scary–what if I get rid of something then later discover I want it back?) task it once did.
If you given $22 million tax free dollars (any currency), what is the first thing you would do? First thing? See a reputable lawyer and financial planner to assure my ongoing financial security and that of my family. Since the first thing I would do is more utilitarian than interesting, I’ll note the second, third, and fourth things: 2nd, a month at a spa; 3rd determine a location in Colorado or Wyoming to serve as my ‘home-base’ and buy a small house there, and then 4th, travel. (Question: Why $22 million?)
The Never List: What are things you’ve never done? Or things you know you never will do?
Things I’ve never done: Jump from a plane, go into space, scuba dive, snorkel, been outside the U.S., had a passport, seen the Grand Canyon, been in a movie, played professional sports, been a corporate CEO, learned to ice skate, driven a boat or a motorcycle, gone camping alone, looked for buried treasure, been an economist, driven from ‘sea to shining sea’, written a romance, studied photography, acted in a Shakespearean play, worn a ball gown, been to the top of the Empire State Building, slept in a hammock, been a financial planner, designed a house, repaired a car engine, washed windows on a skyscraper, ridden a jet ski, walked through a cemetery at night, baked a souffle, driven a race car…the list of things I’ve never done is endless.
At my age, one of the things I do believe is, “Never say never.” When thinking of things I know I’ll never do, I was going to say, “Be 16 again,” but if reincarnation is real, then maybe I will be 16 again. Never say never.
Some of the things I’ve listed I would still like to do (among many others), some I would never consider doing (among many others), and a few hadn’t even occurred to me until just now. I’ll let the reader figure out which is which.