Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's that time of year again

After spending the better part of an hour trying to upload a youTube video onto my blog, I finally just posted the url so my readers could cut and paste it into their own browsers. After I posted it (last week sometime), a friend wrote to explain how to imbed the youTube video in my blog. It should be easy, but technology has STILL gotten the best of me. Now I can't even cut and paste the url into my blog--a quirk in my technique, apparently, is corrupting the process and I get gibberish instead of a sensible Web addres. Therefore, instead of wasting any more time, I am going to suggest politely that you go to and search for a video called Pumpkins on Pikes.

Halfway through the video you'll see and hear my son talking about the event--now held in California where he lives now. He first imagined it when he lived in Vermont and this year is its 18th occurance. Pumpkins-on-Pikes is magical. I wrote about it on my blog in October 2009, so I won't bore you with my opinion about its ethereal beauty. Just click on the video and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I wrote this essay last year, when my granddaughter, Mae, was only three. I hope you'll enjoy it. . .

Our neighbors are the gourmet gardeners of the outdoor visual feast —the Julia Childses, the Anthony Bourdains and Paul Prudhommes—serving up course after course of textures and colors in their gardens. Living in this neighborhood of master gardeners and horticultural experts, I frequently feel embarrassed and self-conscious at what passes for a garden at our house. And envious of theirs.

We are the people with the Betty-Crocker-casserole garden. I shouldn’t even call it a garden, really, as it’s usually made up of plants that have arrived uninvited and stay with the audacity of a party crasher who won’t go home. But each year we put ‘color-spots’ in a small square of earth at the top of our driveway so we have something to nurture and enjoy.

“Will you look at that pansy,” I’ll say to Hubby. “It’s really taking off.” I say this as though it’s the rarest tuberous begonia coming into to full bloom.

And he’ll reply, “And did you notice how the marigolds are holding their own against the slugs?” We take our own prideful pleasure in managing our ordinary items, such as petunias, impatiens, daisies and—every few years—a smattering of vegetables.

This year the lettuce did well, yielding salads every night for almost two months—
and the chard was delicious. The color-spots consisted of pink zinnias, yellow and rust-colored marigolds, tiny violets, impatiens in all colors (pink, purple, orange and white), and some gangly pink petunias that arrived as volunteers. Unsolicited red clover weaseled its way throughout every bare patch of earth. Our other veggies were carrots, beets, and one potted tomato plant. The vegetable garden was superb by our standards, although the beets and carrots were slightly disappointing—their size being perfect for Barbie and her friends (most of whom don’t like veggies much, I imagine.)

But thanks to my granddaughter, I learned all over again the lesson of relational perception—and gratitude. Three-year-old Mae and her parents were visiting from Canada. The pink zinnias enchanted her, and the cheery yellow marigolds appealed to her for their sunshine color. When I pointed out their pungent odor, she was all the more interested in picking them so we could enjoy their ‘little-bit-stinky’ smell. On the first day of her visit, we filled a tiny vase with yellow and pink flowers and kept it (and refreshed it) in a prominent place where she could see it.

On the last day of the visit, she asked if she could pick flowers to take home. I was all for it, but just as we started outside to get them, her mother remembered the border-crossing regulations. “No, Mae,” Mummy said, “remember how the border guard took the wildflowers you’d picked to bring for Grandpa’s birthday? We need to leave Mae-ma’s flowers here.”

Tears welled up in Mae’s eyes. “But I want to take flowers home,” she said in the saddest voice I’ve ever heard her use, and continued, “I want these flowers. Why can’t we have ‘bootiful’ flowers at our house like Mae-ma and Grandpa’s?”
My empathic tear-flow mechanism kicked in, and sympathetic tears sprang into my eyes. Oh, dear child, thank you, I thought. Yes, our small assortment of simple flowers is beautiful. I’ve let myself be overcome by envy, cowed by the splendor and scale of the neighborhood gardens. I hugged her tightly, then promised our flower garden would be here for her to enjoy when she visits next summer.

Mae immediately cheered up. And so did I—immensely.

© 2010 by Sara J. Glerum
All rights reserved. Electronic version published 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What rhymes with old . . .

and has the capacity to make me giddy?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

T for 2

Toby, the Chihuahua, and Telford, the Schnoodle, California Canines

Here are my Gr-r-r-r pups, as promised.

Friday, September 10, 2010

No, you may not call me "Grandma"

What do a cross-eyed Chihuahua and a high-strung Schnoodle have in common? The same Gr-r-r-ma.

Seven years ago, a lucky puppy was born; he was adopted by a loving family who traveled more than 1,500 miles to collect him and take him home. My daughter's Schnoodle, Telford (called Telly for short) is adorable in a classic terrier kind of way--whiskery and bright-eyed, with the chronic look of old-man wisdom.

A year ago, along came the cross-eyed Toby, severely abused and deemed nearly unadoptable by the rescue group that was frantically trying to place him before his own personal doomsday arrived. Enter Daughter, a loving woman who was open to a new family dynamic, and a sucker for this needy, tiny whirlwind with--believe it or not--blue eyes that cross at the very moment he tries to look serious.

Telly and Toby dearly love each other, creating lots of laughter and dust, as they playfully romp through the house. I am a firsthand witness to their rough and tumble play today. Their style of play reminds me of my sons' play about forty years ago.

I refuse to be called "Grandma" by dogs--whether or not they belong to a child of mine, so soon after Telly's arrival, I coined "Gr-r-r-ma" as my dog-relation name. Hubby quickly became Gr-r-r-pa. Now my daughter can say, "Be good for Gr-r-r-ma and Gr-r-r-pa," when she leaves for work, and we all know what she means. Well, at least the Gr-r-r part. In a forthcoming post I will put pictures of the gr-r-r-pups on the blog, but today I am without camera.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bye-bye, stuff . . .

“It feels like what I imagine attending my own funeral would be,” observed Hubby, as we collapsed in exhaustion after a frenzied seven-hour-long Moving Sale last Saturday. I had joked about calling it an Estate Sale, with the caveat “We’re Not Dead Yet, but the Move Nearly Killed Us.”

Seeing beloved possessions depart from our garage with complete strangers was difficult for both of us. And yet it was gratifying, too. When you’re crazy about something you no longer have room for, seeing an excited new owner is uplifting.

The drafting machine Hubby purchased years ago, when he was doing design work by hand, delighted UW teacher who is going to display it in the School of Architecture’s historic exhibit. The barely-used bed tray tickled a mother of young children, chattering of her hopes for breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. The weed eater appealed to an entrepreneurial woman starting her own gardening business, and the folding lawn chairs headed off under the arms of a young couple dreaming of leisurely days at the beach together. We made $377 on items priced mostly at 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1 and $2. A few things went for more.

The saddest thing for both Hubby and me was heaping boxes with the unwanted things when the sale was over. A mixer—used first by my mother, then by me from 1950s on—didn’t sell. No doubt it will end up in a Vintage Shoppe somewhere . . . but it will seem strange to beat egg whites for Christmas meringues with my little mixer after using that machine for more than four decades. Hubby piled loose hardware (not to be needed at our new place) into boxes with a stoic face. It was hard not to think about the hopes and dreams attached to various items’ acquisition.

We’re supposed to feel liberated as we shed possessions. I’m working on it. A little part of me is still grieving. Saying goodbye is always tough. Hubby’s observation rings true.