Thoughts and Wanderings

Monday, July 28, 2008

Phone Conversation with a 5 year old

She's answering the phone now, usually getting to it before Mamma even knows it rang!

"Hi Nonna!" she said as soon as she heard my voice. We had a very pleasant conversation for a few minutes as I told her I was going to pick her up on Friday and bring her back to my house on the train. I thought that Amtrak would be a fun summer adventure and I wouldn't have to drive. We could read and talk and embroider as we took the trip from her house to mine.

Then, wanting to talk to her Mamma, I said, "Is Mamma there?"
"Yes," she answered.
"What is she doing? Is she having a happy day?" I asked.
"Not so much."
"Really? Why?"

"Mamma," her sweet 5 year old voice called out to her mother, "Why you not so much happy?"
Mamma, just realizing she was on the phone.... "Who are you talking to?!"
"I'm talking to Nonna. Are you happy?"
"Yes, I'm happy."
Mamma came on the phone to finish the conversation with singing and dancing in the background. A happy little 5 year old "spark plug."

Mamma was having a happy, restful day off work. Everything was fine. Maybe she was just sitting and contemplating her little girl's first day of kindergarten in a few short weeks...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Afternoon Tea

I was taking care of two of my granddaughters one afternoon while my daughter, their mommy, was out doing a photo shoot (she's a professional photographer). It was a beautiful, sunny summer day and I thought it would be nice to have tea on my back porch. 

I chose a pretty little tea pot with matching tea cups, tea napkins that matched, and put it all in a lined basket. The two girls helped me to make "something savory and something sweet" to go with our tea. We had Wild Sweet Orange tea, celery with cream cheese, and girl scout cookies.

We sat at the table on the back porch overlooking the lush green garden and I poured tea for the three of us. CL, always thinking deep thoughts, looked at me very intently. 

"Nonna," she said, "I think we're ready for fancy tea with Grammy."

I then remembered Grammy wanting to go out to tea again and wanting me to bring some of my little girls. I had talked to my daughter about it at the time and she started to prepare her girls for the event. She was going to tell me when they were ready. CL told me they had been practicing and she felt they now were ready. Her birthday is the same day as Grammy's birthday. What a treat that would be! Grammy and two little girls are going to be very excited.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Going Home

Today starts out with a 3am shower and a 4am drive to the airport by our amazing host. He said that he “needs to get up at 5am anyway, so one hour earlier won’t matter.” It probably did, but he very generously gave us his time and energy and we were very grateful.

The airport seemed like it was just starting to wake up for the day. Getting through security is never a problem for us and we walked through effortlessly with our two little bags each. Once we found our gate, I walked down to get coffee for me and hot chocolate for Papa. It was an interesting experience to see people at the coffee shop in various shades of wakefulness making their purchases. Me included… I’m just not used to buying coffee, or anything for that matter, at 4:30am. But some coffee and juice got me started.

As we took off, the sun was low over the horizon and a new day was beginning. I thought of our trip (Orlando and Virginia), of all we had done and seen, of those we had visited and now have to leave behind. Leaving always seems to come before all the talking is done, before all the kisses and hugs are finished (we’ll miss those babies!), before all the quiet sitting time together is over. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way so we can save something for our next visit.

Time to go home. Papa heads back to jobs and people that need his attention. I think I’ll plant an herb garden in that sunny spot, dry some of my lavender to make sachets, clean a closet, and take grandchildren to Tahoe.

Last Day in Virginia

This was back to a work day and Papa’s cousin was going to be away most of the day to bring her daughter to a sewing class. It was our last day in town, but there were still things on our list we wanted to see. Not enough time! Make a list for our next visit…

So Papa and Nonna took off on our own in the Mustang that we had decided was “school bus yellow.” We were going to be ok, because we had “Jack” to guide us.

We went to Arlington first and saw J.F. Kennedy’s grave site. The cemetery was filled with people, but everyone was quiet and reverent. We were told there are about 30 burials a day there and we could hear the 3 gun salute often as we walked. We reached President Kennedy’s grave where people only whispered or were silent. What was also impressive was the photography display in the main building.

We drove over to the Washington National Cathedral which “Jack” had no trouble finding. It’s the 6th largest cathedral in the world. It is massive and beautiful. We visited the entire Cathedral including the 7th floor observation tower. From up there we could see the entire city. The National Mall was at a distance, but you could see the landmark buildings: The White House, The Capital, and the Washington Monument.

It was our turn to cook, so we went to The Giant grocery store near “home” to pick up Italian Sausage, pasta, and wine. It had to be an early evening since our flight was at 6am the next day, but it still gave us time for a lovely evening and conversations that continued to connect us and “cement” our new found friendship. Papa and his cousin keep reminding each other of the 27 years that had passed without seeing each other and how much they had missed. Maybe it just hadn’t been the right time then. It is now and I’m grateful for that.

Sunday in Virginia

It was Sunday and Nonna went to mass with Papa’s cousin, her husband and daughter. It was good to be able to share prayer with them. She handed me a song book and we sang. Her husband is a Eucharistic minister and she had been choir director for several years, so they are very active parishioners and well known in the community. I felt at home.

After mass, we picked up Papa at the house, left their daughter home, and went out to breakfast. We went to a place called Virginia Kitchen. It reminded me so much of Eggy’s in Sacramento where BB & JB often go and bring us when we’re up visiting. Again we felt at home.

After breakfast the four of us went on a car tour of the city. How fortunate we felt to have our own private tour guides. We drove to Arlington, past Georgetown University, and then over to the White House as our expert “guides” pointed out all the important buildings and sites. I took pictures from the car window. When we got to the White House, we parked and got off. Standing in front of the White House gates, we had a perfect view of the house and grounds and the secret service on the roof with binoculars checking out the crowd. More pictures, of course, and we walked all the way around the block.

We also went to see some of the war monuments, Korea

and World War II,

plus the Lincoln and the Washington memorials. Some long walks through the National Mall made us realize how much bigger and more impressive it is than we had realized.

After a long day of touring, we didn’t want to go home and cook, but decided we could “take-out.” We went home, ordered Chinese food from a nearby restaurant, and ate and talked some more.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Shanendoah & Monticello

We decided that we needed a ride in the country and Papa's cousin highly recommended Monticello which is Thomas Jefferson's plantation. Nonna wanted to see the Shanendoah Mountains and Valley, so we took off in that fun yellow Mustang.

We headed toward Shanendoah and took the Skyline Drive along the top of the mountain. We stopped at a vista point where we could see the Shanendoah Valley. I had sung Shanendoah for so many years that it was exciting to see what I had been singing about all this time. It was so beautiful even with the haze over the valley.

We continued driving down through the Blue Ridge Mountains and Madison County, thinking and talking about all the movies we had seen set in this part of the country. Papa's cousin had made us a wonderful lunch again, so we had a lovely picnic on our road trip. 

We went to Charlottesville and Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's plantation. By the time we got there it was about 3:30pm and we wanted to take a tour of the house, so we went to the visitor's center and bought tickets. Our tour was scheduled for 5:50pm which gave us time for an amazing, informative, lovely, garden tour. The guide was very well informed and was able to explain every plant and flower and tree and vegetable on the plantation grounds. It made me want to go home and plant my vegetables and tend my fruit trees and dig in my dirt. The guide told us how the fruit on some of the tops of the trees would glow when the sun was setting and Jefferson could see it from his home. I thought of my oranges and tangelos and how they also glow as the sun is setting in my garden. It was fun to see the inside of the house as it looked when Jefferson lived there. I especially liked the Tea Room and wish I could have stayed to have some. It was beautifully set and ready for a lovely tea. They talked often about Jefferson's grandchildren and how much they all must have enjoyed the home and gardens. The grounds are still/again planted and fertile and producing lovely fruit and vegetables that are shared with everyone who works there now. Oh, how it would be an amazing trip to go back in time and share the experience with them. Take a look at a nickel. One of these photos I took should look very familiar!

We had hamburgers at Applebee's, thanks to "Jack" who got us there just fine. We had a full day and started to head for "home." A delicious bowl of Java Chip ice cream and some enjoyable conversation was waiting for us when we got there at about 10pm. What a long but incredible day!

Oh! by the way! "Jack" and the yellow Mustang seem very happy together.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The National Mall

We had a good night’s sleep and were ready for a day of touring. Papa’s cousin made us breakfast and also packed us lunches to take with us. Instead of driving down town, they told us it would be better to take the Metrorail.

But one little stop before we did that. I developed a severe rash on my cheeks and neck. I didn’t want to be touring around and it becoming worse so I thought it would be best to go to an urgent care clinic to have it looked at and get some medication before we left for the day. After that was done (allergic reaction to something!) we bought the medication at the pharmacy down the street and started to walk to the Metro. We had told Papa’s cousin that we could walk, but ¾ of the way down she drove up beside us and took us the rest of the way.

Well, we got off at the Smithsonian stop and started to walk. Papa has always wanted to see the Spirit of St. Louis airplane at the Air and Space Museum so we headed that way. It was easy to get around with the map we had. We saw the Air and Space Museum, the National Archives where they keep the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I wanted to go to the American History Museum, but it was closed for renovation. It’s not scheduled to open again until Fall. As we walked, we could see the Washington Monument and the Capital building and took lots of pictures. We listened to Jazz in the Park across from the National Archives and had a good time just walking around and watching the people. The sound was wonderful all over the park and it was full of people sitting with their feet in the huge round fountain and on all the lawns and benches eating their dinner.

We took the Metro to Alexandria (we were expert Metro travelers by this time) and made reservations at a nice little steak house there on King Street. We thought it would be an easy walk from the metro to the restaurant, but quickly found out we were starting on the 1200 block and needed to get to the 200 block. And we had walked by all the taxis at the Metro station. Now what? That’s when a taxi came down the busy King Street, Papa waved him down and we got in. He took us straight to the door in 5 minutes.

At the restaurant, they brought us upstairs at the “best table in the house” we thought. It was in front of a window with a view of the busy “old town” street below. I ordered Southern Fried Catfish, Papa ordered steak, and we both had Bourbon Pecan Pie for dessert. Mmmmm! Dinner was lovely and romantic and Papa didn’t care if my face was a mess with this “severe dermatitis.” We were happy.

We took the Metro back to the Vienna station where Papa’s cousin’s husband picked us up, brought us home, and we sat and talked before heading upstairs for bed tired from a wonderful day.

Travel Day - Orlando to Washington DC

We had a quiet breakfast at the condo, packed our things and cleaned up. Then it was time to head for the airport. We did our usual thing with easy check in since we had already done that on line the night before and no bags to check. So all we needed to do was scout around for something good to buy for lunch. We found great sandwiches again and we were off.

When we got to Washington Dulles, we rented a car. Papa thought it would be fun to rent a Mustang and we did (bright orange!) with a good deal. We had “Jack” with us (our GPS) and he took us straight to Papa’s cousin’s house. They hadn’t seen each other in 25 years, so they had a lot to catch up on. We were very warmly received and had a wonderful dinner with them, talking and looking at old family pictures and mementos.

Nonna had “met” Papa’s cousin through emails and it was fun to actually meet. She ‘s married and has a high school age daughter. Through emails, she had invited us to stay at their house during our visit to Washington and we very gratefully accepted.

Orlando Day Four

This was a rest day which we needed after Universal Studio. We stayed at the condo until mid afternoon, doing some laundry and getting ready for our travel day to Washington DC. In the afternoon, we went over to the kids house. Papa went to visit Rollins College with SJ while Nonna stayed at home with SCJ and the kids. SCJ was teaching a class that evening at a birthing center and I was invited to go along with her. It was a wonderful experience to be able to actually see her teach and hear what she does. By the time we got home it was after 9pm and time to go get some rest for tomorrow. SJ was teaching a night class that night and needed to take us to the airport mid morning the next day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Florida Day Three

Today was Universal Studios Day and we started out at 8am. There are two parks: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We started at Universal and walked all through the park stopping to eat and to see shows and attractions and rides. The weather was nice until those thunder clouds appeared in the afternoon. Then some of the rides started to shut down because of the danger of lightning. The rains came, but gentle showers instead of huge downpours, so we just kept going and ducking into stores or other shelters if we started to get too wet.

When we had seen all we wanted, we went over to Islands of Adventure to finish up the day. Of course, Daddy SJ wanted to go on that "nasty" roller coaster at the entrance. I think it's called "Incredible Hulk Coaster." Needless to say, he went on by himself!!! The rest of us walked over to "Seuss Landing" where the kids explored everything they could see, splashing and running from one thing to another. By that time it had been raining pretty steady and we were wet, warm, and happy. Mommy SCJ changed the kids clothes a couple of times and then went on "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" with CJ which squirted them thoroughly. Many of the rides here are "water rides" and you get wet whether you want to or not. Papa even got into the act with the kids in "If I Ran the Zoo." Dinner was at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous where they have fried chicken, hamburgers and chicken burgers, pizza...

We all got home about 9pm. CJ walked into the house, flopped herself face down in the couch with her arms spread out, and couldn't move!. But I did see that little smile on her face. I think she had a good time. And TJ was the best little 1 year old! I think his favorite place was "Seuss Landing" and his favorite thing was the blue ball Nonna bought for him. But that's another story. Papa and Nonna came back to the condo to shower off an entire day of amusement park, fix tea, and rest up for tomorrow.

Florida Day Two

It’s a beautiful, hot, rainy Florida summer day. Papa and Nonna had a lovely morning at the condo. Nonna worked on some writing and catching up with email while Papa slept in. Then we make sausage and scrambled eggs with toast and coffee, relaxing and talking about the day ahead.

When we got to the house (about 10 minutes away) Papa and Daddy SJ went to Full Sail to do some editing. Nonna, Mommy SCJ, and the kids went shopping at a great little herb shop and then visiting a school that CJ will be going to for Pre-K next year and then dinner at the house. All wanted to go to bed at a decent time so we would be rested for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Universal Studio day. Papa has been looking forward to this since our last trip! We like to go to one place we've never been before every time we come to Orlando and last time was Disney World. More pictures tomorrow, I’m sure.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Florida Day One

How fun to spend the day with Florida grandchildren. Hugging and singing and dancing and storytelling and skipping back and forth to the swimming pool. (that was Nonna!)

Papa and Daddy SJ needed an afternoon nap while Nonna, Mommy SCJ and the kids went to the pool.

Then delicious BBQed chicken and steak with roasted sweet potatoes and salad at the condo. We ate and talked and it was wonderful.

CJ had been waiting for a couple of days to be able to have fireworks. She's been carrying them around for a couple of days, asking Daddy, "Tonight?" "Now?" "When will we have fireworks?" To which Daddy, ever patient, always calmly replied, "Sunday night with Nonna and Papa." And so we did. And CJ was front and center for the fun display.

Story time with Nonna before bedtime, movie night at SJ & SCJ's house, and then back to the condo for a good night's sleep. Happy.

Florida Travel Day

Off to Florida to visit our (Papa's) children there. SJ & SCJ (son and daughter-in-law), CJ (4 year old girl), and TJ (1 year old boy).

I do a lot of "research" when I begin a trip. Where to go, what to see, what to bring, how to pack. Papa and I decided we were going to carry everything on the plane this time. No checked baggage. Liquids and gels went into our zip lock bags, prescriptions went into a separate zip lock bag, and we got though security without a hitch. From home to the airport is always a taxi which is less than $15. We were under 40 pounds with our suitcases which was pretty easy to do, actually.

The trip went very smoothly. Papa was able to listen to his book until he fell asleep and I read and napped. Oh! Lunch! Did you know that San Jose Mineta Airport has Noah's Bagels? After we got through security and were all settled, I searched around for something good to eat on the plane for lunch. I did not want fast food. But Noah's Bagels was down at the other end (a nice walk) and I bought roast beef sandwich on potato bread for Papa and turkey sandwich on plain bagel for me. So, lunch was wonderful. I had put 2 large charcoal gray napkins in my large purse, which were perfect for spreading on our laps as we ate.

We arrived in Orlando (on Delta by way of Atlanta) at about 10pm where SCJ and our 2 grandchildren picked us up. She had bought food for our breakfast the next morning since we were going to stay at our (Papa's) daughter, SJJ, and boyfriend's, FF (soon to be son-in-law, we hope), condo while they're away for the summer as instructors on a drum corp tour with the SCV.

We're looking forward to a wonderful visit...