July 21st, 2009


with the grain

It's raining this morning. I hope it rains all day. We've been in a nasty drought.

Last night I thought of another Grandpa thing I wanted to say. I have always found patterns in wood grain and ceiling spackle and other things like that--faces, animals, shapes. My grandpa was like that, too. When I was little, he would ask, "Rissy, can you see the wolf?" and I would go over to the wood grain and trace the outline with my finger. And he was always pleased when I saw what he saw and even more pleased when I saw another one he hadn't.

When I was about 12 or 13, we went up to Grandma and Grandpa's house for Christmas, and Grandpa was so excited. He had something to show me. We got in late, so Grandma told him to show me in the morning, whatever it was would keep. And then in the morning we were doing our morning thing with the blueberry muffins and the newspaper, and so it wasn't until early afternoon that Grandpa remembered he had something to show me. By that time another relative had come over, and if there was something to see, he was going to come see it, too. So the three of us trooped into the bedroom where Grandpa pointed triumphantly at the closet door he'd had for more than twenty years. "Shere Khan!" he declared, tipping his head all the way to the right. I tipped my head, and sure enough, there was the outline of a tiger's face in the grain of the wood, hiding there for Grandpa for all those years. I laughed delightedly.

Our other relative did not see things in knots of wood, nor, to put it gently, did he Kipple. So he had really no idea what we were doing standing in the bedroom giggling and putting our heads on the side and talking nonsense. But he was used to shrugging and going on with his life by that point.

Later when I found Sleipnir in the spackle above where I lay on my back blowing my hair dry (because my mom wouldn't let me go out with a wet head when I was in high school), I made Grandpa come lie down and find it. When we moved to California, I called him to let him know that our ceiling spackle had a lion, a butterfly, and John Lennon. And he did want to know; this was important news.

I think that's one of the frustrating things about our ceilings in this house: they're popcorn ceilings, which I hate, but they're also too even. Very hard to find elephants and George Washington in even popcorning.

I miss my grandpa.

Impending Grandma

I have just noticed that I have been so careful not to say anything about Grandma's moving dates in case something goes wrong with the people who are buying her house or whatever that I have not mentioned how soon it's supposed to be coming. I mean, it's not just superstition: even if the people who are buying her house have done everything right, things can go wrong with mortgage companies at the last minute. Strange and arcane are the ways of real estate transactions. It all makes me very nervous, because it doesn't feel like it just depends on people being sensible, it feels like it depends on people being sensible and having form XJ447b62 filled out properly instead of form XJ447b62a.

But: failing anything strange and arcane going wrong, my grandma will live here in the south suburbs in slightly less than two weeks.


I keep saying to her, "Everything is going to be so much better when you're here, Grandma." And I really do think it will.

She's coming up for her last pre-move visit this weekend, for my birthday, and we're going to see Aunt Ellen and Uncle Phil and the Smothers Brothers (consecutive, not concurrent) and generally have a fine old time. And then the next time I see her after that--good Lord willing and the creek don't rise--will be when she's moving in. To be 15 minutes away from me.


I have other pre-birthday things to accomplish--the making of the ritual birthday double-chocolate scones, for example, but that has to wait so they're fresh. Nobody wants stale scones. (Note to zorinth: I don't mean to taunt you, but they're very like my chocolate bread. Sorry.) It'll be a busy-ish week with that and other things. And then at the end of it there will be birthday and Grandma.