A Maverick Woman

A recent situation arose in our family, which immediately returned me to our New Jersey home some twenty-plus years ago. It was the time that Jamie misbehaved  and Dad retaliated by removing her toys from her room. She continued her unacceptable behavior and did not stop until Dad removed her desk chair. (“Not my chair,” she said followed by “I’ll be good. I’ll be good!”) See You’re in Trouble with a Capital “T.”

Now the culprit was the 2 ½ year old of the family, who was practicing the skills she had just learned in her new gymnastics class by repeatedly climbing over the gate at her bedroom door. Not one to always listen to commands, particularly when she believes her actions are somehow wildly hysterical and worth any possible punishment, she ignored the orders to stop. That is when her mommy decided to resurrect the not-my-chair punishment.

Being her own woman—a maverick—this did not work. I believe one of her parents had to snuggle with her until she drifted off to sleep.

That is not the end of the story. On her first day of school after this incident, she returned home with her own report of her morning in pre-school. She mentioned the snack of the day (cheesy crackers she told me) and the fact that she had gotten into trouble. Apparently, she was comfortable with her surroundings, and as she does when in any place where she feels at home, our little cutie removed her shoes. The rest of the class responded in kind by removing their shoes. The teachers were not pleased.

She is a leader—a strong woman. I look forward to what she becomes.




The Deal

Last weekend was sleepover night at Grandma and Bampa’s house. The highlights were the making of the mac and cheese and taking a bubble bath in the big tub with the jets, which create and maintain amazing bubbles.

After all the fun and merriment was over, Dad had a serious conversation with Bryce involving the future and golf. Dad asked Bryce if he would take care of him someday.

“Will you drive me around the golf course?”

“I need to be sixteen,” Bryce correctly told Dad.

Bampa explained that in ten years, Bryce will be driving and Dad will be seventy-six, so that would be a good time to be chauffeured around the golf course.

“You will be hitting the ball farther away than your daddy does now.”

Bryce found that difficult to believe, telling Dad that “Daddy hits really far.”

I do not believe that his daddy began his golf career at the age of five. Father and son need to have a contest at the driving range ten years from now. I will be the judge.

My Body Just Ain’t What It Was!

I have become more and more appreciative of my great grandparents, John and Mary Carey, after every sleepover of my own grandchildren. Little children are full of so much energy—far exceeding what Dad and I currently have.

Mary became a mother again at the age of fifty-five after her twenty-nine-year old daughter-in-law died. Grandma Mary and her fifty-six-year old husband had to care for their three and five-year old grandsons while their dad, Jim, went off to work at the local silk mill. Jim and his son moved in with his parents and brothers after his wife’s death. Life was so much harder during the early 1900’s, so a person in their mid-fifties was not as young physically as their counterparts today.

When our little cuties visit us for an extended stay, we are usually exhausted after their departure. Dad has trouble climbing into the fort and remaining inside in order to play a game of cards. “We need to play at the kitchen table,” he explains to them. While temperatures hovering in the mid-nineties with matching humidity are no excuse to stay inside for little people, our tolerance for playing outside in the Carolina sun in these conditions cannot match theirs.

We have become accustomed to binging on Handmaid’s Tale during the evening, but that did not happen during the latest sleepover. Two-year-old children (excuse me—2 ½ year old) think it is hysterical to jump on the bed while screaming at a high-pitched volume. This was not even amusing to her 5 ½ year old brother.

Thankfully, vanity took over and she decided to peruse the photograph album which contained pictures of her from her birth to shortly before her second birthday. (We really need to update those albums.) She then found a container of shells, which she played with until I announced it was time for bed.

Apparently, 10 o’clock was the preferred bedtime for our little visitor. I really appreciate what my grandparents did for their son, but wouldn’t any parent do this?

I hope we look younger than this!

A Must-See Bucket List Trip Completed

With our recent trip to Seattle and Alaska, Dad and I can now cross another item off of our bucket lists, and for him, he has now visited all fifty states. I am jealous, because I am only at 32.

Our visit to our two northern-most states filled us with both wonder and sadness—wonder at the beauty and vastness of Alaska coupled with sadness at seeing climate change in action with the burning of the California wildfires, which filled the air around Seattle with what looked like heavy fog, and the viewing of the melting glaciers.


Alaska is a lonely state, with some towns so small that they have access to a physician or dentist only once a month. Food is expensive because it needs to be brought in by trains or boats, and winters may see up to 20 feet of snow in some areas.

While I don’t fear heights as much as Casey and Jamie, there are some circumstances which cause me great unease, which is why I purposely sat on the right side of the Gold Rush train heading down the mountain.

We were warned that the train travels perilously close to the edge of the mountain, so I wanted to put my fears to the test. Despite traveling over some rickety old wooden bridges, I was able to look thousands of feet down and out the window of the right side of the train.

Traveling on the Gold Rush Train

Learning the stories of the people of the Gold Rush Era was sobering. Thousands of people packed up their bags and traveled to the Yukon Territory of Canada in hopes of discovering gold. They were not prepared for the brutal winter, which prevented them from continuing their travels in search of riches until the end of winter. Thirty thousand people were stuck in tents for months with only the food that they brought with them. I will have to think of them the next time the temperature hits the teens here and I have to go outside of my heated house into my heated car. I would never survive a single Yukon winter in a tent.

Walking around the top of Seattle’s Space Needle was a height test which I did not pass, since I was unable to stand on the glass floor. While I could stand adjacent to that floor and peer downward, only Dad and Flat Cocky had the guts to actually stand or lie down on it.

Atop Seattle Space Needle

I need to work on my height problem.

Planting Through the Years

I was given a very unique gift from Aunt Linda. It is a cutting from a plant which has been passed down from her grandmother to her mother and now to Dad and me. I feel a mixture of honor and panic because I do not have the best track record when it comes to house plants. Remember how I killed the plant that our friend Margaret gave me, which was so upsetting because it was my one living link to her after her death?

A little research has calmed my fears. Apparently, this particular plant is one of the easiest plants to care for and can actually “be neglected for weeks at time.” Now that is my kind of plant! It can allegedly survive low light, insect attacks, draught, famine and alien attacks.

The proper name is a Sansevieria, which I prefer to its more commonly known name—Snake Plant. Sansevieria has a classier sound and does not bring me back to the boa constrictor incident in third grade nor the images of a poisonous snake slivering toward my house from the pond behind us.

Still, this sounds like a plant I may not kill and it has now survived 3 generations. I will keep my fingers crossed.

The Future’s Not Ours to See

We have a budding horticulturist in the family. (Pun was definitely intended!) At just 2 ½ years old, Lily has surprised us with her interest in flowers, trees, bushes, and herbs. During each visit to my house, she insists on going outside to check out all that is growing. She points to each flower, tree, and bush and asks, “What is that called?” Sometimes, I do not know, so I am brushing up on the names of each plant in my yard.

She is beginning to recognize some, already identifying my crepe myrtles, roses, lilies (that’s a given), basil, and lantanas. Sometimes she cannot recall the name, but if I walk to a specific area and ask her to point out the lantana or the Mexican petunias, she has no difficulty answering correctly. We pick a few flowers and then carefully place them in a vase so she can admire the plants while inside my cool, air-conditioned house.

I believe her plant fascination began after I showed her my pumpkin garden, so our pumpkin patch is always the first stop on our walk around the yard.

Sadly, I am concerned about the possibility of even a single pumpkin surviving because they are apparently tasty snacks for our local deer, rabbits, and squirrels.

“Oh, no, Grandma!” she cries each time as she sees another flower bitten off the plants since her last visit.

On a recent visit downtown, she pointed out all the crepe myrtles she saw as she gazed out of the car window, and on a trip to an uncle’s home in Asheville, she was equally inquisical about the names of his plants.

What will her future bring? Que Sera Sera.



The Punky Song

I was recently warned by a fellow grandma to be sure to enjoy my time together with the grandkids because, according to her, sometime around the age of eleven, they will no longer believe that their universe revolves around me. While that made me sad, I understood and also know that they will eventually return to me.

With that in mind, I was happy to hear a story from Kelly about their recent day at the beach. On the return trip home, Bryce started discussing the fact that he had punkies in his toes. When questioned by his dad, Bryce explained that the sand in between his toes were punkies. Hooray! He had listened to me and understand the fact that dirt in between one’s toes are known as punkies. Everyone knows that, right?

I know you are all familiar with Grandma’s classic song, “She’s Got Punkies in Her Toes.” I recently taught it to the two kids, and they had me sing it over and over until they memorized it.

Just in case any of you have forgotten the lyrics, I would like to help burn that song into your brains.

She’s got punkies in her toes in her toes

Cha Cha Cha.

She’s got punkies in her toes in her toes

Cha Cha Cha.

She’s got punkies in her toes

And her mommy only knows

She’s got punkies in her toes in her toes

Cha Cha Cha.

 Now, the big question of the day is whether Grandma invented that song and kept it as our family secret or whether or siblings also taught that song to their children.

I will pose that question to my cousins and report back to you. In the meantime, you will have to tell me if that song is now stuck in your heads.