The Fourth Star on the Left


I added a star to the tattoo on my ankle yesterday in honor of my sixth grandchild, Lee, now 9 months old and definitely star-worthy. It was a little hard finding exactly the right position for star #6 and then it ended up slightly bigger than I expected, which is the kind of thing that happens to me, but nevertheless I’ll be taking my six-star ankle to the grave, unless of course a seventh star comes along, but what the heck, let’s just put the whole damn galaxy on grandma’s foot.

Today five-year-old Cosette called several times saying we needed to go to Target right away so she could show me what to buy for her birthday, just around the corner next September. I felt guilty saying no until she said, okay then, she had to call Auntie Jessica, goodbye. Her brother Toddler Bret calls me regularly as well. For some reason he always seems agitated on the phone. He left me a happy birthday message recently that sounded like he was being attacked by pirates.

On Thursday I drove for an hour through snow and sleet to watch Christian’s wrestling match only to find it was cancelled due to the weather. (It’s almost May, for cripe’s sake.) Now eight, he just started wrestling and takes it very seriously. He came out of his first practice and told his mother, “I can’t show you any moves, Mom, because I might hurt you.”

A few Saturdays ago, 12-year-old Maria came over to get help building a model of the Eiffel Tower for a school project. I have never built the Eiffel Tower before, but apparently my expertise in this area is legendary. We made it out of shoeboxes, of which I have an ample supply. Well, not really out of the shoeboxes but from hundreds of little pieces cut out, glued together and sprayed heavily with black paint. I figured the Eiffel Tower was easier to build than some other famous structures I can think of. Her friend Madeleine chose the Colosseum in Rome, which her father helped her build out of a laundry basket and I’ll bet that was no picnic.

Which brings us to seven-year-old Grace. The last time she was at my house, she watched me applying face makeup with endless questions about what different products were designed to do. I explained, for example, that due to some unfortunate over-tweezing in my youth, I have to pretty much draw on eyebrows now, and that should be a lesson to her not to go around mindlessly plucking at things, and anyway her eyebrows are perfect so it shouldn’t even be an issue. Always take advantage of these little moments to teach, that’s what I say.


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Where’s El Nino When You Need Him?


It’s snowing and blowing again. The weatherfolks say this storm could be as bad or worse than the Halloween snowstorm of 1991, which has become our yardstick for all storms thereafter. No worries about a white Christmas, just whether there’s enough milk, bread and liquor for the duration.

Went to Maria and Grace’s dance recital last Saturday. It was packed. When little kids perform, you can count on family to be there – tired parents, little sisters, big brothers, cheerful grandparents, loyal aunts, bored uncles, clueless cousins – by golly, we show up! And that’s to see your little Ginger Rogers on stage for approximately two minutes of a one-and-a-half-hour show, because there are a lot of classes in that dance school and every one of them gets their moment.

From what I saw, my own granddaughters, who are exceedingly graceful and light on their feet, could have had extra time – solos perhaps – but that’s just my opinion.

I sat next to Christian for most of the performance. He had seen his sisters dance, so his attention wasn’t exactly riveted on the stage. I gave him a stick of gum, which amused him for a while. I looked over once and the gum was hanging from his nose. I looked over again and it was hanging from one eyelid. Finally his mother, sitting behind us, leaned over and told him to put the gum in his mouth and keep it there. Which he largely ignored.

Last night was the second annual manicure/pedicure party in honor of my friend Julie who died in 2009. Julie liked having her nails done, so a bunch of us who loved her started gathering at the nail salon on her birthday to do the same. The organizer, of course, was Barbara, who could have organized the settling of the West and done it with half the covered wagons and happier Indians. We bring our daughters and granddaughters, food and wine, and catch up.

So I’m snowed in for the time being. But I do have soft feet, copper-colored toenails, and enough leftover deviled eggs to last till the snowplow comes through.

“There will be a rain dance Friday night, weather permitting.” –George Carlin

So the weather. There’s just no predicting it. It’s only December 7. and we’ve already had two snowstorms, both with horrible timing. Minnesota winters aren’t nearly as cold as some people think, but they make up for it in perversity.

I lost two trees in that first heavy snowstorm on November 12. I didn’t know it till the thirteenth, when I came home from the hospital, all medicated up and miserable, and found them blocking the driveway. It was a shock. My daughter Jessica, who was driving me home after spending the night in one of those plastic-covered bed-chairs the hospital provides as a deterrent, was driving a little fast, because the street hadn’t been plowed yet (big surprise) and when that happens you have to take a good run at the driveway lest you miss it and end up stuck down in the cul-de-sac. So when she came around the curve and saw the downed trees, she decided to take a quick left past the mailbox and into the front yard instead, where she did indeed get stuck. (To be fair, I may have been screaming instructions at her.)

So there we were. Jessica was wondering, “How am I going to get my bootless, drugged-up mother into the house?” and I was thinking, “For the love of God, will I always be at the mercy of the fates and Minnesota weather?” Then I just opened the car door and, weaving a little, stomped into the house.

Last Friday’s snowstorm wasn’t as wet or heavy, but it lasted all day, and by the time I set out for Maria and Grace’s dance recital that night, every car on the freeway had given up trying to find a lane and simply stopped, as cars on the freeway will do for no apparent reason. I mushed on for 45 minutes before I turned around and mushed back home.

We live in Minnesota. We endure. The trees were cleared out of the driveway, the car was dug out, and there was a matinee performance of the dance recital on Saturday. Big cold snap coming next week.