Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter 2011

 I took only a few pictures this Easter and most of them were of sweet Lucy. She's very cooperative.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cleaning Chronicles - Part 4

     I'm starting to notice that my house is getting much dirtier since Bev, the professional, is no longer with us.
I see terrible things like dust building up on the baseboards and gunky corners under my kitchen cabinets AND cob webs above my bed, on my hanging lights and in my laundry room. Dirt, dust and grime. Oh my! Hey! Speaking of grime, did you know that the big ol' stainless steel fan hood above my range needs to be cleaned? I found out that it's VERY greasy up there. A tricky contortionist position needs to be held in order to reach into it's nasty crevasses and a shower cap should be worn at all times. The last time I swept my mudroom floor I collected enough of dirt/ bark/ school papers/dirty socks/& something resembling an old chewed up yellow Starburst - to fill a small pool. My bathroom mirrors look better with the splatter of spittle then they do with the dreadful cleaning streaks. None of this is good. Neither my competency nor my attitude is improving. I'm simply not made for this kind of work.
     I'm thinking that I may need a real job. What would be better than cleaning my house? Animal control officer in the Everglades? Maybe. Publicist for Charlie Sheen? Perhaps. Rodeo clown? Absolutely. Let me know if you're hiring. Oh, and if you're blessed with a cleaning lady you should give her a big hug today.
 ~ Poor Pathetic Me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What's wrong here?

Today is April 14.

My tulips are confused.

My cherry blossoms are concerned.

This can't be good for the berries.

Ethel, on the other hand, seems to be rolling with the weather quite well.


This is craziness.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Day at the Park

If I loved these babies anymore my heart would burst.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kathryn Elizabeth (Ochs) Wilcut 1902 - 1994

My grandmother (Gram) was born on April 10, 1902 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her father worked in various mines as a supervisor, which meant that they - she, her parents and brother - lived in various western mining towns while her dad supported the family. When Gram was very young, they left Long Beach, CA via covered wagon and settled for a time in Grants Pass, Oregon. She told us a tragic story of a neighbor woman who left her baby on a blanket nearby while she hung laundry to dry. Gram said that a bear snatched the poor child from it's rest and carried it off into the woods never to be found. The men hunted fervently for the baby and bear but failed to find either in the dense Oregon wilderness.
 In 1906, Gram's family was on a boat travelling down the Pacific expecting to dock in San Francisco but were diverted from landing because of the great earthquake and fire. Their boat continued south and eventually her family settled in southern California where she spent most of her life.

I remember vague stories of my grandmothers younger brother Jack, who was a traveller and adventurer. Though I never heard what he did on these journeys, I was told that after a trip to the Middle East no one ever heard from him again. My dad tried to find some record of his death but he could never find an explanation for his disappearance. This is still a mystery to our family.

My Grandmother was an exceptionally quiet, gentle and patient soul. She would often say to us - Patience is a virtue seldom found in a woman but never in a man. - She had the rare virtue of patience.

As a young woman she was accepted to art school in Chicago but before she left California she met the man who would be my grandfather. He lived across the street from her and they married before she ventured east. I remember Gram painting beautiful landscapes of wheat colored land and barns in the background. She painted trees, mountains and ponds but was always very modest about her beautiful, careful work.  A widow in her early 50's, she lived near my parents in the Bay Area. When my parents found their dream home in Walnut Creek she sold her house, the only asset she had, to give my parents the down payment to the home we lived in for over 30 years. Gram was a soft and constant fixture through out my childhood. She took me to Golden Gate Park and the various San Francisco museums every year. While on the bus, (She didn't drive.) I remember her whispering in my ear to remind me to give up my seat to the older woman who just got on.  I have memories of her sitting at our kitchen table, delicately smoking Virginia Slims rarely talking but listening and smiling.

At Christmas she'd take on the tedious job of shelling the almonds that we'd fry for salted snacks and meticulously plucking the crab from it's shell for our crab cocktail. When asked if she'd like a sandwich or something to eat she always answered no. "Come on, Gram. I'm sure you're hungry... may I please get you something?"  "Oh, maybe toast with a little butter and jelly would be nice", she'd finally concede. She was an enigma in our family of mostly impatient, loud, opinionated, big eaters.(Sorry. It's true.)  At Christmas we all struggled to find gifts for her. In spite of her insistence that Christmas should be reserved for children and for those more needy, we'd buy her fancy soap, bath powder or a new robe that she'd save "for good". She unwrapped each gift slowly, never tearing the paper then she'd fold the paper for later use. After she died she had stacks of "good" soap and robes - never used.

My Grandmother also had the most beautiful hands. I only remember them when they were old, with blue veins popping through her thin, fragile, paper-like skin, but still they were so lovely with her long, thin fingers and perfectly shaped and manicured fingernails. She took very good care of her fingernails, filing and carefully painting them brilliant colors. This was the only evidence of vanity I ever saw in her. These hands were always busy with her painting, various needlework projects or helping in the kitchen. I also remember her sitting in my parents wing back chair. She'd clasp her fingers then rest her hands in her lap and twirl her thumbs. She'd sit silently, rotating her thumbs, eventually closing her eyes. "Gram, are you tired? Are you ready for bed?", we'd ask. "Oh no, honey, I'm just resting my eyes.", she'd say.

Minutes after Lily was born, she was given to me to cradle in my arms. Tears welled in my eyes when I saw her hands. God gave my daughter my grandmothers beautiful hands.

I admire my grandmother for her patience and quiet, generous spirit. I wish she was here today. I would ask her so many more questions about her life and about her. I loved her and miss her. When she grew old and couldn't manage to live on her own she moved into my parents house. I was given the gift of helping to care for her the last few years of her life. When she was 92 and failing, hospice came to help her let go of this life. She explained to us that she couldn't leave Patsy - my mom - who would care for her, she asked? This was such a poignant message for me. In this subtle way she taught me the most important lesson one mother can give to another  - that our love (and concern) is everlasting. Along with her spirit, my grandmother's name lives on through my niece Kathryn Elizabeth and my son's middle name,Wilcut.
Happy birthday, Gram.

A side note:
On Gram's 6th birthday the Titanic hit the iceberg and sank - April 10, 1912