Sunday, May 19, 2019

Goin' Fishin'

Pa-pa and I have high hopes for the prospect of grandkid fishing. That's partly why, nearly two years ago, we picked up lock, stock, and barrel to relocate our lives half an hour south near Truman Lake.

We had reason to think this was a good idea. Our son Teebo and his boys, Heero and Beenie, were already spending a lot of time at our farm pond in pursuit of the wily schools of bass, which we introduced there as tiny baby fish many years ago. Beenie, particularly, has embraced the fine art of fishing to the point where he enjoys posing with his catch after reeling it in.


He has even learned to cast proficiently and to contemplate the pond bank patiently while waiting for his bobber to first rock and then sink.


With Beenie already hooked (pun intended), Heero not far behind, and the other two grandsons ready to play catch-up, Pa-pa deemed the time right to add this brand new beauty to our fleet:


This way we can introduce the boys (and maybe the two girls as well) to the joys of fishing in the lake for crappie (pronounced "KROP-ee," in case you are not from around these parts), undoubtedly the most delicious fresh-water fish to ever tantalize the taste buds of a human being.

John Lasseter, a Walt Disney filmmaker and executive, expresses concern about the frantic pace at which many kids experience childhood today. "I worry about kids today not having time to build a tree house or ride a bike or go fishing," he says. "I worry that life is getting faster and faster."

Pa-pa and I want to make sure that doesn't happen here at the lake. Since the kids now range in age from five to eleven, we hope to give them the chance to enjoy the recreational opportunities this area offers. We also hope these six keep us young enough to offer this opportunity to any additional grandkids that come along, including the one slated to arrive at the end of September.

We learned just this week that he is a boy--and we sure hope he will like to fish.




Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Easter Report

Memo to: "Googie's Attic" Readers
From: Googie
Re: Easter Celebration of April 2019

Number of bunnies spotted: 6


Ages of Bunnies: 5-11
Preliminary Bunny Activity: Hopping


Major Bunny Objective: Egg Hunt
Number of Eggs Hidden: 175 (new record)


Number of Eggs Found: 173

Evidence of Egg Hunt:


Secondary Evidence:


Evaluation of Event (Scale of 1-5): 5+
  
Report Submitted by: Sooby, Pooh, Bootsie, Beenie, Zoomie, and Heero

Long-term Goal: Increase egg supply to 200 for next year in anticipation of new bunny.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

"Googie's Attic": Time To Hang It Up?

"Googie's Attic" has been a big part of my writing life since the first post on March 9, 2011. This writing marks my 312th piece exploring and sharing the like-no-other experience of being a grandma--"Googie"--to six great kids.

When I started the blog, there were only three of them. Sooby, now going on twelve, was just three and a half. Pooh was two, and Bootsie was just five months old. The blog is a record of the last eight years of our living, loving, and laughing together.

From the start, I envisioned "Googie's Attic" as a place the kids can go when they are older to "rummage through" the trinkets and mementos of a time they will have been too young to remember vividly. For instance, how did we celebrate Pooh's third birthday?  What cute things did Bootsie say when she was learning to talk? The rummaging has already begun, as all three of them now read the blog for themselves.

Then, as I continued to chronicle, three more grandchildren, all boys, joined the subject matter. Beenie, Zoomie, and Heero are now seven, six, and five years old. With Heero's fifth birthday in November, all the kids are now school-age. They are getting old enough to remember the family celebrations we have on their birthdays and holidays. They aren't going to need "Googie's Attic" to do that for them.

As blogs go, "Googie's Attic" isn't very fancy. It isn't monetized with advertising. It uses a standard Blogger template rather than an elaborately designed web page. The first year and a half or so, there weren't even any pictures. It is just a series of writing-heirlooms that I have tucked away primarily for the kids, but always, hopefully, with a sense of the larger audience of extended family, friends, and general readers who also stumble across and follow it.

It was especially with Heero's fifth birthday that I began to think seriously about closing the treasure chest that is "Googie's Attic." I am doing more poetry now, and lake life makes for a rich, full existence. And so, I ask myself, Has "Googie's Attic" run its course? Is it time to hang it up--or, at least, post much less frequently? Is it time to softly close the lid of the chest, turn out the light, and walk away?

No.

Why?

Because we have just learned that, in early October, we are expecting another grandchild. Sooby, Pooh, Bootsie, and Zoomie are preparing to add a little sibling. I know it is not a dream because I have already pinched myself numerous times.

On May 15, I should know whether future posts will be tinted pink or blue. Meanwhile, the saga of the other six continues, and I drift off to sleep smiling every night.

 



Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Brunch Bunch

I love it when a plan comes together. Such was the case with a rather impromptu St. Patrick's Day brunch that granddaughters Sooby, Bootsie, and I pulled off several weeks ago.

I use the word "plan" loosely--I have to. The truth is, when our whole family gathers for a meal together, anything resembling a plan has to stretch or contract, like a rubber band, to fit the moment. This makes the whole thing crazy and fun--but, on a positive note, people rarely go away hungry.

When all of us are present, including Mom (our family matriarch), we are thirteen strong. When we are all hungry--and six of us are growing children ranging from five to eleven years old--you can see how we may be talking major amounts of food and considerable effort to get everything ready at once within the confines of our basic household kitchen.

So as a record to refer to for next year's now-annual spring family brunch, I list below our menu items and the amounts of each needed to replicate this year's success. Doing this will help us know from the outset how much food we can expect to consume, and, should you find yourself in charge of preparing a brunch for 12-15 hungry people, it will give you a place to start as well.

Just as important as the brunch ingredients is some attempt at attention to the time schedule and, at the risk of sounding like a math person, "the order of operations." Planning to serve our meal at 10 a.m. again next year, the girls and I will begin cooking the meat about 9.


Here, Sooby tends to a griddle full of bacon and sausage, while Bootsie prepares a skillet full of sausage.


Along with supervising them a bit, I put together a bowl of fruit. With the meat cooked and in the warmer, we could then clear space and recycle utensils for the next phase.

If you are brave enough to try this, assuming you have access to help as great as mine was, here is our menu list and the amounts we are projecting for next year:

  • 2 lbs. bacon
  • 2 nine-packs sausage patties (or about 1 1/2 pounds if you make the patties yourself)
  • fruit salad (2 cans mandarin oranges, 2 cans pineapple chunks, 2 sliced bananas, 1 pt. sliced strawberries)
  • 2 cans (8 each) large buttermilk biscuits (dairy case)
  • enough 2% milk, flour, and sausage grease for a skilletful of gravy (you are on your own here--I have never measured these precise amounts)
  • 2 dozen scrambled eggs (requires two skillets or two rounds of cooking)
  • 2 cans of dairy case cinnamon rolls (bake and ice these before you bake the other biscuits)
  • 2 1/2 gallons of orange juice
  • 1 jar of apple butter (or use your favorite jelly or jam)
There. I am proud to report that our serving line opened at 10:10, only ten minutes late, but everything was delicious. 

With our own kids and now our grandkids, we have come to treasure family traditions marked by the seasons and holidays of our year. We love our Easter egg hunt (coming up this next weekend), our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, our birthday parties, and our fall afternoons roasting hot dogs around the fire pit.

And now we have a spring brunch to add to our list. My mouth waters with the menu I just typed, and I am already looking forward to the next one.





 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Wonders

In "Barter," poet Sara Teasdale writes of "children's faces looking up/Holding wonder like a cup." Last Friday, as a new seven-year-old, Beenie reminded me just how accurate Teasdale's simile is.

I watched as he looked up onto Sheep Mountain and into the African savannah. Best of all, I watched as he gazed into the 1.5-million-gallon aquarium that is home to some 35,000 live fish and other aquatic creatures displayed at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Mo.

Pa-pa and I marveled as well at the sights and sounds of this 350,000-square-foot all-indoor attraction with its 1.5 miles of trails through land and sea habitats and their inhabitants. We saw zebra sharks and penguins, and touched the smooth, velvety backs of stingrays.

Now in its third year of operation, the museum/aquarium is the brainchild of conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, and it sits next door to the original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World at the intersection of Sunshine and Campbell Streets. On Friday, Pa-pa and I took advantage of a special half-price promotion in an attempt to make Beenie's seventh birthday especially memorable, since he has developed a love for all things aquatic.


After our trip we continued the birthday party on the dock near our home, where we tried to coax a few reluctant crappie onto the hook, but to no avail. They got a reprieve this time, but Pa-pa's brand-spanking new fishing boat portends a summer of grandkid fishing trips and family fish fries.


Although our adventures took place on March 22, two days after Beenie's actual birthday (and, coincidentally, our 38th wedding anniversary), we did celebrate the big day itself at Beenie's house with the traditional cake, ice cream, and candle. Looking back, I see that I had been writing "Googie's Attic" a little over a year when Beenie was born, and that I announced his birth in a blog post titled "The Trifecta." Now, as he did then, he fills our lives with joy and--yes--with wonder.


Happy birthday, Beenie-boy. You have a special lock on your spot as Grandkid #4. You are our intelligent, quirky, sweet, fun kid with a from-the-belly laugh that we can't get enough of. Like your great-grandma Florence, whom you never got to meet, you have definitely inherited the fishing DNA. When another seven years have gone by, you will be a teenager--but I hope that will be many, many fish from now.







Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Farewell to Frosty

It is with a bittersweet mix of emotions that we gather today to pay our respects to one who has brought great winter joy to three little boys. Yes, on this, the next-to-last day of February--and the end of a three-month period of cold, snowy, icy weather here in the northern Ozarks--we bid adieu (we hope) to Frosty the Snowman.

Beenie, Heero, Zoomie, and I wish him nothing but the best as we watch him go thumpity-thump-thumping his way over the hills of snow and out of our lives, at least for a while. It is time for him to move on to a place where he can be more--well--appreciated. Our spirit of hospitality for substances cold and white is waning a bit. Around here, we are ready for spring.

Don't get me wrong--we loved having Frosty around at first. He was a great playmate for Heero, Beenie, and their neighbor friend as he joined them for some front-yard games. He never started a fight or broke a rule, and remained cool under all circumstances.


Then, he certainly proved inspirational as he came to life on Zoomie's breakfast plate on New Year's morning, complete with bacon arms and strawberry buttons. Frosty, it turns out, is nothing if not versatile.


Finally, Beenie captured Frosty's jolly, happy soul in this mixed-media piece displayed on the bulletin board outside his first-grade classroom.


Accompanying this realistic likeness were directions for building a snowman, which, in Beenie's own handwriting and vocabulary, went like this:

1. Make three ball's out of snow.
2. Add tow eye's made out of coal.
3. Add a carit for the nose.
4. Add a hat.
5. Add coal for the mowth.

Certainly, Frosty, your magical presence brightened our winter with a blast of fun and a spark of creativity. We know that you are not merely a fairy tale, as rumored, and that you came to life for many kids just as you did for these boys.

But Frosty, you should probably head for the streets of some town very far north of here and do some dancing around up there. March is just a day away, and, with our greatest blessing, it is time for you to go.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Double Digits

On Saturday morning Pooh came into the guest bedroom where I had been sleeping. It was unusually early for a boy who, more often than not, is the last one up. Neither of us had been awake very long.

"Good morning," I said to him, and "Happy birthday!" Groundhog Day had rolled around again, and with it another birthday for Pooh. Quite unbelievably, he has now reached double digits.

"How does it feel to be 10?" I asked, whereupon he informed me that he wouldn't officially clock in as a year older until 1:57 that afternoon. That was fine with me. He and all the kids, for that matter, are growing up way too fast to suit me.

Pa-pa and I make it a priority to spend birthdays with all the grandkids if possible, and so far our record is pretty impressive. True to form, we had made the 3+-hour car trip the previous day.

We also like to make sure that even the siblings of the birthday kid get a small present. Since Pooh's birthday falls less than two weeks before Valentine's Day, our February trip always includes valentines as well. As fast as these kids are growing up, we figure we can't afford to squander any good opportunity to spoil them further. We consider it our duty as grandparents, and we take our calling seriously.

So in spite of the fact that all four kids were battling a benign little winter fever-bug, we had celebrated Pooh's imminent tenth birthday on the night before the actual event. We started off after dinner with a red velvet cake,


which served as appropriate precursor to the unveiling of the presents.


Here, Pooh is opening his package of nine Star Wars miniature figures, to be followed by a Nerf gun (which required Pa-pa, me, and You Tube to assemble), and a pair of night-vision spy goggles. Then, disguised as SpongeBob, Pooh and his siblings lined up for a photo shoot in the silly character heads I got for a pittance at our local Walmart's Halloween clearance sale.


At this point I fast-forward back to our morning in the guest bedroom, where we had been joined by the other three kids. As you might imagine, that is pretty much a bed full. But it is always a favorite thing that we do, whether at my house or theirs--our pre-breakfast powwow where they want me to tell all the old stories again or take turns making up funny jokes, games, or songs.

Finally, about the time the close quarters become not so congenial, we wander into the kitchen for breakfast, and this time, at the birthday boy's decree, it consisted of bacon, scrambled eggs, and monkey bread.

Shortly after the clock chimed 1:57, Pa-pa and I were on the road home, recalling the events of the weekend and talking, Pooh, about how glad we are to have you. In you, we have an effusive fountain of wit and charm. You are musical, theatrical, and a quick-as-lightning soccer player. This summer, Pa-pa and I want to teach you how to catch fish and to water ski.

I'm betting that double digits are going to be a lot of fun for all of us.