Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Grandma’

Soft Spoiled Brats

The City Kittens by Mrs. D. Illustrated by Eladziem.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

61-tNH71BrL._SX260_The City Kittens is a children’s story about city cats brought to a country cats home at Christmas time. The illustrations are beautiful, colorful, and almost 3D like. The font-type is also lovely to look at and read. This tale about Mrs. D’s older cat, Nyda, includes themes of home, family, acceptance, and not judging a book (in this case kittens) by there cover (or fur). Past history and experience isn’t always as it seems.

Nyda has the following thoughts when Mrs. D’s older daughter brings some kittens (Mickey and Jack) to visit for the first time. “Spoiled inside city house cats… soft little things,” she grumbled as she passed by, walking to the kitchen to spend time with Mrs. D and the girls. But the story the old cat heard that evening made her feel bad. The kittens were not soft or spoiled brats as she had thought.”

There are also times that Nyda remembers her older cat friend, Nicky, who has since passed away, and how she treated her when she first arrived at Mrs. Ds. There is also some hissing, acting out for food with Grandma, and entertainment (watching the adults interact) in The City Kittens. Each page is almost complete unto itself, and the story overall is a pleasure to read.

Enough Already

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You’re Perfect the Way You Are.
Written by Richard Nelson
Illustrated by Evgenia Dolotovskaia.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Here is a good book with a vital message. Not only are the words used for this age group (4 and up) perfectly maintained throughout the story, but the illustrations also match on every page. Some kids books are either too wordy, and complicated, or so simple, as to be insulting. You’re Perfect the Way You Are found the perfect balance.

The young girl of the story asks her mother, father, brother, grandpa, grandma, and uncle, if various parts of her body are alright (hair, hands, nose, etc.). Unlike real life, they are all in unison and give her the same positive message. “Are my hands too small?” I asked my Grandma while she helped wash them for dinner. She just smiled and replied, “No honey. You’re perfect the way you are.”

Children hear what we say about ourselves (and others). They can also sense, even more deeply, what we are feeling when we say something. A mother worried about “looking good enough”, or a father wondering if he’s “gained too much weight”, can have a a big, and often long-lasting, effect on their children’s sense of themselves as well.

Young children, adolescents (and adults), often believe they “aren’t good enough”, and spend lots of money, time, and energy to try to be different. This is usually unconscious and habitual. It is frequently ingrained in our conditioning, and thoughts. You’re Perfect the Way You Are is a good reminder, and important story, to remind us all that we ARE ENOUGH just as we are.

Grandy’s Cranberry Crunch

Grandma Grandy’s Cranberry Crunch
by Gabriel Constans

This smoothie is not for the faint of heart; it is a sweet and tart elixir with a very strong flavor. Cranberry juice is excellent for relief of urinary tract and yeast infections. Make sure you use 100 percent pure cranberry juice, not the watered-down cranberry blends often sold in supermarkets.

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Yield: 5 cups

2 1/2 cups pure cranberry juice
2 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate or 2 cups fresh lemonade
1 cup apple juice
2 ripe bananas
1 cup seedless grapes
3/4 cup Grape Nuts cereal
3/4 cup honey

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and puree on medium speed for 1 minute.

Pour into tall glasses and serve up one of Grandma’s treats.

Get Over It!

Good Grief: Love, Loss and Laughter (Excerpt)

“What are you so upset about? It was only your ex-husband.”

“Come on, get over it. You can always get another cat.”

“Hey, you hadn’t seen your friend in years anyway.”

“They were drunk half the time. Who cares?”

“It’s not the same as being married. You just lived together.”

“You only knew them for two months!”

“Weren’t they old? They lived a long life.”

“No, you can’t come to the funeral. You aren’t part of the family.”

These are just some of the comments that people hear and a small sampling of how their grief is disregarded after they’ve had a friend, acquaintance or family member die. The losses they have experienced don’t match the images of who and what is acceptable to grieve in our society. And it’s not just others that cause such pain. We are often our harshest critics. We internalize the conscious and unconscious messages we are fed daily and are often confused with the intensity of our emotions and reactions after a death, when our head is telling us we should not be feeling much at all.

Our response to any kind of loss, especially from death, is our bodies natural reaction to the human condition, even though we analyze it, distrust it and, at times, find it hard to believe.

“Why am I getting so upset over my ex-husband’s death? We never got along and I’ve been better off without him.”

No matter what the relationship was like, it was a relationship. There were attachments, habits and shared time that will always effect one’s life. For some, the never-ending hope of reconciliation will have died as well.

“It was only a cat. I know it’s not the same as a person.”

Your cat or pet was a living creature. We can grow just as accustomed and fond of an animal as we can with a human. The same kind of attachments and memories occur.

“We were best friends during high school, but that was ages ago.”

Some friends stay with us forever, whether we see them often or rarely at all. The time we spend together can leave us with lasting imprints, influences and memories, as well as regrets, bitterness or pain.

“This is crazy. His drinking ruined our family and our lives. He was mean and abusive. Why is his death so hard? I thought I’d be relieved.”

Even abusive, negative relationships can cause unexpected mixtures of emotion. Though we may have separated ourselves from the individual and learned how to fend for ourselves or are still in contact, there is usually some deep feelings of loss over the years they were not the parent or partner we had wished for. The realization that they have died can also awaken the fact that the opportunity for them to change or be different has died as well.

“We were only housemates. It wasn’t like we were married or anything.”

Whether as a friend, lover, roommate or relative, living in the same household is one of the most intense experiences in our lives. It’s where we learn how to interact with others and provides daily reminders of our differences and similarities. Whether two people living in the same household have their arrangement sanctioned or accepted by others does nothing to diminish the powerful lessons and connections that develop. We are intimately shaped; both good and bad, by those with whom we live.

“I just met them two months ago, but I can’t stop thinking about them.”

The length or duration of a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that it is of greater or lesser importance or impact. Some people we’ve known for years, yet have little connection, do not effect us deeply upon their passing, whereas others we’ve just met leave lasting footprints. The grief and mourning that result from the loss of a recent or longtime acquaintance is VERY individual and unique to that person, as are our needs in grieving their loss.

“Grandma was eighty-five years old. I knew she wouldn’t last forever, but it feels so sudden. I loved her so much.”

The longer someone you know lives, the harder it can be to accept the reality of their death. Even though you may have had time to prepare and say and do what you needed or wanted to, it can still seem like it came too soon. There are times when no matter the person’s age, you want them to stay forever and their death is devastating.

“They never accepted me. I should have known this would happen.”

You have a right and a human need to attend the funeral and/or memorial of your partner. Your relationship with the deceased was between you and them, not their family or friends. How your relationship was seen or accepted by others is important in your adjusting to the loss, but not dependent upon it.

There are times when those you expect to be of help are not always able or willing to do so. For some, it is too painful. Others find it impossible to stop judging long enough to listen. When you can’t attend the funeral or memorial, due to the deceased’s family, distance or other circumstances, create your own ritual or ceremony of leave-taking. Invite those who will be present to you and share your loss.

Relationships with people and other living creatures are what make us human. It is normal to question, criticize and judge our selves after someone in our life has died. It is also normal to feel pain, frustration, anger, sadness, relief and confusion.

If you don’t get the kind of support and acknowledgment you need from family, friends or colleagues, then find it elsewhere. Don’t minimize, trivialize or try to forget your loss. Find ways to acknowledge, respect, honor and validate your experience and the reactions that have resulted.

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Our Ancestor’s Children

Not that long ago, I used to think people that were grandparents were very very old. Now, that I am one, I don’t see my self as an “older” person, let alone as ancient as I once thought such generations to be.

Our oldest daughter and her wife had their daughter Ilee (our granddaughter) just over a week ago and she is amazing and beautiful. Our other daughter and her husband, had their wonderful and bright son (our grandson), just about 2 years ago and they are coming to visit us for a week.

It all seems so natural, being a grandparent and being called GaPa or Opa, Grandma or Omi. It’s as if this was always meant to be and the lines of humanity continues. Of course, it’s happening all the time and we are one continuous thread since the beginning of life on this planet, but it seems even more real when it is happening so close to home.

We truly walk on the back of our ancestors or they are at our side (depending on how you relate to them) in everything we think, do or say. The energy from the past travels into the present and the energy we react with and live with now undoubtedly spreads into and shapes the future. The awareness of this reality calls me to be conscious and make wise choices. It calls us all up to take responsibility for ourselves, our communities and our planet.

This is not a matter of doing good or being a “good” person in order to fulfill some imagined self-image of who or what we “think” we should be; it is a matter of physics, action/reaction, science and self-sustaining necessity. The adage that “There is only one of us here” has never been more blatantly apparent and reflected within our world. I pray that I (we) do not turn away and anesthetize ourselves with illusion, suffering and self-imposed forgetfulness.

Even though our species has thrived for thousands of years, many others are now extinct. There is no guarantee that ours will continue. We cannot promise our children or our children’s children that they will continue to carry on their ancestor’s lives and spirits. As long as there is breath, there is hope. I hope I live to see great great grandchildren and continue to have the capacity to love and be loved. More importantly, I hope all forms of life on this planet traveling through space has the opportunity to do likewise.

Quake, Shake & Roll

Excerpt from collection of stories for children Solar Girl and Lunar Boy.

Once upon a time there were three bad earthquakes and one good little wolf, known throughout the woods as Terra. Terra lived with her grandma, Nova. Nova was one of the oldest and wisest wolves in the pack. They lived together in the far Northwestern portion of the United States, by a city called Anchorage, Alaska.

Terra was a math teacher who taught the younger wolves many important lessons. She taught them how many times to bay at the moon, how to count members of the pack to make sure everyone was present, and how many meters it takes to run, jump and catch a fast moving mouse. Grandma Nova was a retired builder who helped construct lairs and other dwellings.

Terra and Nova lived in a lovely home made of stone. Their home had kept them cozy and warm in the winter storms, but was not built to withstand vibrations from the ground below.

One day as Terra was making their mouse soup dinner, a loud rumbling noise arose from the earth and shouted, “I am the Great Alaskan Earthquake. I’m going to quake and shake and roll your house down!”

Terra stood up proudly and said, “I’m not afraid of you. Our house is strong and made of stone.

The Great Alaskan Quake began to quake and shake and roll. Terra and Nova could barely stand as the walls swayed to and fro. The ground felt like Jell-O rolling under their feet. Dishes fell from the table, books from the shelves and pictures from the walls. The sound was like thunder.

Terra was scared and began to scream for help. Grandma Nova grabbed her by the hand and pulled her under a strong table. When the quake finally stopped they walked outside and saw that the outer walls of their home had crumbled to the ground.

As Terra stood outside crying she asked Nova, “How could our beautiful house get broken? It was so strong, even during a storm!”

Holding Terra tightly Nova said, “Our home was safe and warm during a wind or snow storm, but stone can’t sway back and forth to move with a quake. Our next home will need more support and should be built with material that can move and bend.”

Terra and Grandma Nova moved in with their cousins, whose wooden house had not been damaged by the quake.

Though they liked their cousins and were thankful to have a place to stay, Tierra and Nova both wanted to have their own home.

Within a few months they received some wonderful news. Terra’s relatives in California invited her and her grandma to come live with them and teach a new pack of wolves about math and building.

After a long journey on the Howling Bus Line, they arrived in the mountains of Santa Cruz, south of San Francisco.

In Santa Cruz, Terra and Nova made many new friends and built another beautiful home. This time they decided to not take any chances on losing their house to another big bad earthquake. With the help of their family and friends they made their home out of wood, with a strong floor underneath.

Early one evening, as they sat down to read, they heard a loud, scary sound come up from the ground.

A second quake had found them and began stomping it’s huge feet.

It said, “My name is Loma Prieta and I’m going to quake and shake and roll your house down!”

Terra jumped up and said, “You can shake and shout all you want, but this time our house is built to withstand your temper tantrums.”

Once again the ground began to quake and shake and roll as the Loma Prieta Quake pounded the earth with all his might.

The brave wolves held on tightly to one another under the dining room table and watched their furniture bounce up and down like a Yo Yo. After thirty long seconds had passed the quake came to a halt. Terra and Nova danced with joy as they saw their house was still standing.

Suddenly Grandma Nova stopped dancing and sniffed the air with her soft black nose. “Do you smell that? It smells like gas. We’ve got to get out of here fast!”

The quake had started a gas leak and they didn’t know how to turn it off! They quickly walked out the front door. Just as they turned around they heard a big bang and saw smoke coming out of the windows. From a safe distance they watched their home burn to the ground. There was nothing they could do to save it.

Terra sobbed, “How could this have happened a second time? What did we do wrong?”

Through her tears Nova replied, “We built a strong flexible home but forgot to find out where to turn off the gas during an emergency. When the ground shook it broke the pipe that brings in the gas to our house. Since we were cooking our new Mouse Ear and Tail Soup for dinner, the flame from the stove lit the gas from the broken pipe, which started the fire. If we had known were to shut off the gas pipe when we left the house, the fire would never have started.”

Once again, Terra and Nova were homeless and had to move in with friends. Although they enjoyed living in the Santa Cruz Mountains they decided to move far away to another country and build one more home. They saved their money and a year later flew on a Wolverine Airlines plane to Japan. Japan is a small country far across the Pacific Ocean. It has lots of humans but very few wolves.

They settled in a park, in a city called Kobe. Terra got a job teaching math at the local lupus college, which was named Wolfgang University. They built a sturdy home, with flexible gas pipes, and Nova borrowed some books from the Wolf Den Library on how to safely prepare for an earthquake.

The books said to always stay away from windows, get under a hard table and think before you act. Know where your gas, electric and water lines come into the house and learn how to turn them off. Store flashlights, batteries, lanterns, blankets, a tent, bottled water, canned food and wood in a dry, safe place.

Six years later, when Terra and Nova had forgotten all about earthquakes, a third quake caught them by surprise. They were enjoying a delicious breakfast of mousy pancakes, rabbit cereal and fresh mountain water when they began heard a loud mad roar of fury.

“My name is Kobeka. Look at my power! I’m shaking and quaking and will soon knock your house down!”

Terra answered, “Your brother quakes destroyed two of our homes before and we respect your strength and power, but this time you’re too late. We’ll stand our ground!”

The Kobeka Quake rocked and rolled with all its might. Terra and Nova took no chances. They crawled under their kitchen table, away from the windows and listened to the wood creak and moan. They knew they would live, but would their house survive such a terrible beating?

Even though some plates on the table, books from the shelf, and bricks from the chimney fell down, their house remained standing strong and tall.

They had prepared for another quake by fastening the cabinet doors, putting their breakable dishes and glasses down low and bolting their bookcase to the wall. The quake lasted for only forty seconds but it seemed to last forever. As soon as the shock waves stopped, the wolves nimbly walked outside.

Although their home had not been damaged, others had. With their stored supplies, they helped their friends and warned them of the many aftershocks to come. Aftershocks are smaller quakes that always follow a large one.

Now, whenever an earthquake decides to strike (and it surely will), Terra and Grandma Nova are always ready.

Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad Earthquake? Not the wise little wolves.

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