Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Paddle Your Own Canoe

Jane Rowland
June 18, 1916 - January 31, 2012

We've been going through the things at my Grandmother's apartment this week, and one of the things she had was a memory book from grade school through high school. Like an autograph book that her friends signed throughout the years and they generally put a little verse of some sort on the page where they wrote as well. They were WAY more poetic than the "stay cool!" kind of things we wrote in our yearbooks. Anyway, there was one from her friends Florence that really spoke to me:

Love many,
Trust few,
But always paddle your own canoe.

My grandmother is one of the strongest role models I have ever met. She didn’t do it on purpose, she didn’t do it for show, she just did it. I know that, because she never boasted about her accomplishments, as a matter of fact, I only found out about a majority of them in the last five years. She got her pilot’s license through a program to teach civilians to fly planes during the war, and although the program was ultimately canceled, she still flew planes. She got her PhD in education.

And I bet she’s been to any country you ever thought you wanted to go to. She traveled the world extensively after my grandfather died, every year her Christmas cards featured a picture from her travels, I specifically loved the one from Egypt where she was sitting on a camel in front of the pyramids. If I go to a third of the countries she’s been to, I would consider myself well-traveled.

She also had a green thumb. She had a HUGE garden and always had a row of green tomatoes on the window sill waiting for them to ripen. And anytime I don’t know what a plant is, my response is, “Well, I could ask Grandma, she’ll probably know.”

Each summer I spent a week with her, and we ate hot dogs and macaroni and cheese the entire week. I also remember that she had a Tupperware container in the fridge with a bunch of different kinds of cheese in it. It was a glorious week of eating exactly what any kid would want to eat! She’d let me ride my tricycle inside the house until grandpa got upset about it. And we went swimming almost every day, piling into the front seat of her sky blue Dodge Dart with the hot pleather seats. She’d swim laps while I swam in the shallow end. Each summer we’d also do something else during the week besides swimming. One time she took me to Hanna-Barbera Land…where she convinced me to ride the sole rollercoaster in the park. And I screamed like someone was stabbing me in the eye, then steadfastly refused to ride another roller coaster for 4-5 years. The next summer she took me to Astro World – which would have been more cost effective if it hadn’t been during my roller coaster boycott, but we rode several non-roller coaster rides and still had fun. I took ceramic painting classes with her, and a pottery class and I remember her taking me to the Children’s museum once too.

I’ll miss her a lot, but I’m glad I have those good memories to look back on.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Monthly Newsletter #64

Dear Landon,

This month has been kind of hectic, but in a good way. We celebrated our last Christmas of 2011. And you actually fed Aunt Kelly’s horses…it’s the first time you’ve been willing to come within 5 feet of them, and with no fence between you AND fed them carrots. I was completely shocked! And you said “Mom, I’m five NOW, I didn’t do it before because I wasn’t five!” Like, duh, of course I can do it now. I guess five is the magic number.

We also got some books from the library, one of which featured some kids building a time machine out of a cardboard box. So, we built you a time machine. It seems to be a work in progress. The first weekend it really was only a transporter, we had no dials telling when in time we were going, but we did have a map to pick a place. The next time we worked on it we added a month dial and a year dial…apparently day during the month and time of day are of no consequence to you in your time travels. We also added a door, and talked about how it might need a few buttons the next time we work on it.

This morning during a conversation about addition and multiplication I discovered that you are beginning to understand multiplication. Obviously at 5 you don’t have the multiplication tables memorized, but you were able to figure out 2x3, 2x4, and 2x5 pretty easily and show that you get the concept of it…please don’t be so smart that you’re bored and become a trouble maker. I already noticed that on the backs of all your worksheets from school, Ms. Nicole writes some addition and subtraction problems for you to do after you finish the worksheet…I asked if all the kids were doing that and you said “No, she just does that for me, because I finish faster than anyone else.” I hope you will always have teachers who are willing to go out of their way to challenge you like Ms. Nicole does.

This month you also experienced the death of a close relative for the first time. My uncle died when you were less than a year old, but I don’t believe you were really aware of that. Your Great Grandma died at the age of 95. She led a very full life, and I would be ecstatic if you got to do even a third of the things she did in her lifetime. She has a PhD in education (this, by the way, is a HUGE accomplishment for a woman of her generation), she had her pilot’s license, she’s traveled to so many different countries, I don’t think anyone even knows what that number is. I have some great memories of spending a week each summer with her, and I hope that you’re creating similar memories with your grandparents when I send you there for a week at a time. You took the news pretty well when I told you, a few tears and a long snuggly hug.

Now I’m to the part where I tell you to work on something, and I’ve got nothing for you to work on. You’ve been really great for the last month, so just keep it up.