Aren’t Grandsons Wonderful

“I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?”
Piglet

9.00 pm and I realise it’s my turn to write a post. My son has just left after dinner. I love my daughter-in-law from heaven but how I love it when there are just the two of us.

We talked about the four grandsons, all growing into fine young men (no bias here, you understand) and some of my special times spent with them, without parents. I could go on about them but I really don’t want to bore you.

But I thought of one day 10 years ago when I had the strangest text conversation with Grandson No 3. I wrote a blog about it and will reproduce it here –

“Monday afternoon. 
Ping – a text arrived from my No 3 Grandson – “Do you by any chance have a set of poker chips.” Excuse me.  This from a 15-year-old to his then 74-year-old Grandmother.
I remember I did have something that might or might not be poker chips.  So after some consideration and much digging and hunting, I found what I was looking for.
Me – “I don’t know if they are poker chips but I have some things that could be”
Grandson – “Are there many and could I possibly have them for the weekend”.
Me – “Yes darling.  I don’t know what they are.  There are red ones, blue and green and white.  There are 16 of each colour.  If they are of any use you may keep them.  How shall I get them to you?”.
Gr – “Sweet I may ask mum to pop by on the way home”
Me -“Good.  See you soon”
Gr – “Sweet”
2 hours later.
Me – “What sort of time will you be here?”
Gr – “I don’t know maybe not today”
Me – “OK  I’ll drop them into Mum’s office tomorrow or bring them when I meet her for coffee later this week.”
Gr – “Thanks”
3 days later. 
Gr – “Is it today you said you would drop off the poker chips?”
Me – “Yes.  I’ll give them to Mum when I see her this afternoon”
Gr – “Thanks”
6 hours later
Me – “Mum has the chips”
Gr – “Thank you so much.”

I wonder why my 15-year-old grandson would think that his grandmother had poker chips?  He didn’t discuss this with his mother, he just decided that I was the best bet (ooh an unintentional pun).  He is going away for the weekend with the rowing team and so I imagine that poker will be one way they will amuse themselves during their long waiting time.  I wonder where and when he learned to play.”

At that time I said ” I don’t send many text messages.  I would much rather pick up the phone and speak to somebody, but we know that all the young of our species are glued to their smartphones sending and receiving many, many texts daily.  I was pleased to see that Grandson No 3 was not using ‘text speech’ obviously either realised that I wouldn’t be impressed or else he thought that I wouldn’t understand what he was trying to tell me.  Over the past few years texts seem to be the only way that my grandsons communicate with me when we are apart,  So I am learning the art of “texting” although I am firmly convinced that text is not a verb, but in today’s changing world, I shall probably be proven wrong in this.”

I just thought I would like to share this with you and see your reactions.

And for no other reason except I love it and over the years the boys have often had to come to Granma’s aid, I share this –

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the
most room in your heart.”
Winnie the Pooh

JB July13, 2022

A Day with the boys

Reading Chris’ post entitled In my park 11 years ago I started thinking back to a similar day with three of my grandsons. July 2022 and a really Happy Granma’s Day.

3 out of 4 ain’t bad

Eleven years ago yesterday I had a day with three of my four grandsons and what a great day it was.
Then, they ranged in age from 12 to 16 and the difference in ages was not very pronounced. They got on so well together. The 16-year-old was particularly careful to include the youngest one in everything, although he is well able to look after himself.
Having picked one up from his mother’s office and the other two from the train station we set off for the garden centre to collect the final two bags of stones for the patio.  I was planning to use some of their time with me (and their energy) to get this job finished eventually.  It’s never too early to learn there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Well, Granma was so busy talking that she got onto the motorway by mistake and had to drive miles out of her way before arriving at the garden centre.
Here we were greeted like long-lost friends.  Lotte ( my small Tibetan Spaniel) and I have been regular visitors to the centre since the patio was first thought about.  And they recognized Jae (the youngest) from our last visit.  So, purchases made the boys loaded the bags into the back of my car and we set off for home.
They came in for a drink and biscuits before starting – don’t all workmen?  They certainly do here in New Zealand.  And for the next half hour, the street rang with their laughter as they spread the stones, filling in the blanks that Jae and I had missed last week.
Soon it was finished and everybody had a great time.  Isn’t it so true that many hands make light work?  And what joy to be surrounded by happy, laughing young folk. Then lunch.  Easy to feed growing boys.  Plenty of sausages, buns, mayo and tomato sauce and the boys made their own hotdogs.  I demurred.  Hotdogs are not among my favourite things
Now what to do for the afternoon?  They couldn’t make up their minds.  Of course, they were slightly constrained by the fact that Jae still had his leg in a cast.  So I made the decision.  Sir Peter Jackson and Weta, the animation and special effects company – Lord of the Rings, The Last Samurai, King Kong, Xena Warrior Princess among others – are based in Wellington and they have the ‘Weta Cave” a museum open to the public.  Strangely none of us had been there before and so we took ourselves off. This was very interesting as it had models from all the films Weta and Sir Peter have been involved in and of course, they had many collectables for sale.
Then on to the Roxy Cinema another of Weta’s projects. The old cinema had been abandoned years ago.  It was derelict and had been so for some years, following a brief period as a shopping centre.  The shops were very sad and there was no good reason ever to go there. And then the building was purchased and brought back to its glory days.
The Roxy has a rather pleasant cafe on the ground floor.  So after touring around the cinema we sat for a breather – tea for Granma (well, I am English after all), coke for one boy, hot chocolate for another and for the third, and eldest and so sophisticated, iced coffee.
And there our adventures ended.  A trip home where they watched a DVD.  My son and his wife joined us for dinner and then later my daughter and her eldest son came in for a short time.  Drew had been competing in a water polo tournament in Auckland and Cate had picked him up at the airport and thought she would call in not only to pick up her younger son but also to catch up with her brother, his wife and their boys.
It was lovely to have both my children and all their children together.  A rare happening and a fitting ending to my lovely Granma’s Day.

“To be a really brilliant grandmother
remember what it was about your own that you loved most,
then imitate her.”
Judith Baxter – 1938 –

JB July 9, 2022

Time Flies – So we must be having fun.

Tomorrow is June 11, fifty-five years since my children and I first set foot in New Zealand. Their father had come on ahead, so it was just the three of us arriving.

My children were 7 and 4. Oh how very long ago that was! We knew nothing of this country. The Embassy in London was obviously staffed by English people who knew just about as much as me. “Wouldn’t you love to be able to dry your washing on an outside line every day?” I was asked. Yes, but not in Auckland where it rains most days. And in response as to whether I should bring my about to be delivered new car I was told that wasn’t necessary as new cars were readily available to buy in NZ. Wrong again. When we arrived we discovered new cars could be purchased only with overseas funds. At the time NZ was controlled by import licences on everything from rice and aluminium foil to new cars, and everything in between.

The day we arrived and for the following six or seven days, it rained. Auckland in the winter is dull and drizzly and had little to commend it. We quickly learned that shops closed at 5.30 pm except on Friday when they closed at 10 pm and didn’t reopen until Monday. And pubs and bars closed at 6pm This was referred to as the 6 o’clock swill. Men rushed from their offices to get a drink before the bars closed. This law had been introduced in 2017 and 50 years later it was revoked. But more on that some other time.

We felt that we had moved back 50 years in time.

We were to be here for only 2 years and so set about finding a place to rent. We looked at the house the person before my husband rented, but I took one look and decided I couldn’t/wouldn’t live there. We found a lovely property on the North Shore with a path down to a separate beach. Perfect. Among the many rules and regulations at the time, you were only allowed to take $11 a day out of the country. So as we had overseas funds we paid the house owners in British pounds for a year in advance so both sides were happy. Oh, and we inherited their dog a large rambunctious mutt who immediately decided that he was David’s dog – when they sat beside each other the dog was the taller. Our own dog was on the way from Scotland and so suddenly we had two dogs.

The inherited dog was naughty and got into much mischief, but that’s for another time.

We enjoyed living on the beach in this lovely property. Unfortunately, the mother of the owner’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer and so their trip to the UK was cut short. Of course, we agreed to terminate the lease and found somewhere else to rent. Another tale for another time.

At the end of two years, we were off to Montreal – another tale. And after two years there we decided we wanted to bring up our children on the beach at Takapuna. But that’s yet another tale for another time.

By the time we left for Canada, New Zealand was catching up with the rest of the world, and in some instances was in advance – eg Women’s suffrage in 1893. And two years later when we returned, it was hardly recognisable as the colonial outlook it had been in 1967.

So now 55 years later we choose to live here in this far-flung land and are all New Zealanders. Each of my children married New Zealanders. Of course, we retained our British passports as here one can have dual nationality.

End of today’s walk down memory lane.

JB June 10, 2022

Good Morning, Good Friday

“Easter is joy, hope, love, and renewal.
Easter is proof that we can begin again.” 
Richelle E. Goodrich,
American Author, Novelist, & Poet 

Growing up all those years ago, Good Friday started with a visit to church with my sisters. Yes, even before breakfast. Then home and later a visit to my father’s father whom we saw not as often as mother’s parents.

Of course, we had new clothes for Easter. It was a very important time in our lives.

Now, here in New Zealand, I don’t go to church but instead I think back on all those years and what I learnt from regular church attendance. I know my life has been built on the lessons I learned then.

Today is a Public Holiday which means most retail outlets are closed. For some reason, dairies (the small Mom and Pop grocery stores) are exempt from the law. Garden centres continue to flout the law. They have worked out that the money they make being open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday far outweighs the paltry sum of $500 which they might be fined.

For most of us though, it is family time. I started this Good Friday with coffee and hot cross buns, some home made and some bought in, at my grandson’s house, with his partner, my son and daughter-in-law and their other son. What a lovely surprise. I hadn’t known Grandson No 2 was here from Auckland.

So now sitting in the sun on this glorious autumn day (19C) all that is left to do is wish you all a very Happy Easter however you choose to celebrate it.

JB April 15,2022

Five Word Friday

Come join us in this new challenge. You know what to do. Describe your life now in only Five words and then go on to tell us more. Remember to link back here when you are done. Alternatively, post your thoughts in comments.We would love to hear from you.

My Five Words?

CATE TESTED POSITIVE – SELF ISOLATING

I was at lunch with three friends in one of their houses. It is acceptable to meet in people’s houses during our current Covid rules.

We had just sat down for lunch when I received a text message from my daughter, Cate. Her text – “Don’t panic I just tested positive for COVID. You need to self-isolate for ten days…” So the planned mah jong game with three friends didn’t take place. Hurried lunch finished, I took off for home.

I had planned to go to the garden centre for more plants. Having been away recently for seven days, the indoor plants suffered from the heat and no watering, so that was my plan. Something to put on the back burner for now.

Then various telephone calls. Cancelling hair appointment, audiologist and telling various friends of the news. I also had to cancel an appointment on Monday afternoon with a subcommittee that I am part of. I had to advise the members of our Writing Group that I wouldn’t be there on Monday, and another friend who was to come here for lunch on Tuesday had to be advised. Oh and the library because several of the books I have on loan will reach their return date during the ten days.

I wonder what I will do with all this time I will now have.

 “There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” — “
Calvin and Hobbes” by Bill Watterson

But of course. Think of the hours now available to read those books in my TBR read and on my kindle.

As Bertrand Russel said –

“There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it .”

And Mary Oliver says –

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” 


JB March 4, 2022

Sauntering on Sunday

Chris has been busily writing thought provoking posts, while I have been just writing.

So to Sunday; a day for sauntering around.  Saunter – don’t you like that word? 

“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking,
that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering,
which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country,
in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre, to the Holy Land,
till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander
David Henry Thoreau. American naturalist, essayist, and philosopher. 1817-1862 

I like Thoreau’s definition of saunter but sadly, all dictionaries and linguists are united in rejecting this notion, but it’s an appealing idea.

I have just returned from brunch with my daughter and her two big, strapping, delightful sons.  They have both been in Wellington this past week as their other grandmother sadly died on the December 30.  After falling, a few days in hospital and a few days at home, she went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. A shock to her two sons and grandchildren, but what a way to go! 

Of course, the brunch was a happy, cheerful hour or so in the company of three of my favourite people.  One grandson Drew the eldest, is constantly making fun of his Granma in the nicest possible way. We all laugh at his nonsense. He left us for a long walk back over the hills to our home.

Then Jae, the other son, accompanied me to a used bookshop where I purchased a copy of Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook.  This was not what I was looking for in the shop.  However, there was no copy of Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room and the store owner suggested I might like this instead.  The Women’s Room had a major impact on/in my life so many years ago and I really wanted to reread it to discover why.  Instead and in keeping with my determination to support local businesses, in particular book shops, I purchased and will read the Doris Lessing book and continue in my hunt for the other.

Then home again and the first post I read was from Debbie at Domermom.com.  A lovely post about a happy dog.  Of course, this led me directly to thoughts about Lotte my sadly missed, little Tibetan Spaniel.  She was my friend and companion for a short but happy time some years ago.

Then looking back to January 8, 2012 I note that I posted Dancing with Skeletons.  Here I mused about a Creative Writing Course (one of many) that I had attended many years before

One task we were given early in the course was to “Write about your Skeletons”.  We were told we all had them and if we could put them onto paper it would be a good place to start.  We were required to write them down, not type them into the computer.  The tutor reiterated the “known fact”  (well accepted fact) that transferring the words from your mind, through your hand to the page gave them power

Note – Research has shown that hand-writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on at the moment—the physical act of writing brings it to the forefront.

This was proven to me in the years that followed, particularly when wearing my Life Coach hat and when running my courses, always encouraging people to do Morning Pages.

Do  you know about Morning Pages? This is the act of writing first thing in the morning. Strictly consciousness writing any and all thoughts that come to mind. I discovered this in the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  It’s a very powerful tool to help you sort out what you want to do and then, how to do it.

And so now, after that long and rambling saunter, there is little else to say – although that’s not true.  I have much more to say, but for another day.

And yet another thought for today

If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” 
― Wes Nisker author, radio commentator, comedian,
and Buddhist meditation instructor.
1942 –

Waiting for the sun to go down so that the dry garden beds may be watered.

NOTE – This has been republished because in copying from my other blog, I left out a paragraph and it didn’t make sense. So sorry for that.

JB January 9, 2022

Goodbye 2021

“To live In lives we leave behind, is not to die”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, Sister, Aunt and friend
1938 –

Now in 2022 I can look back on 2021 and say Goodbye. It was not a good year for our family.  During the year, we lost two of our members.

Early in the year my niece succumbed to some underlying health problems complicated by Covid.  She wasn’t particularly old or young, the ages we were informed were most at risk.  In fact, she would have been 60 later that year.  She was a special niece to me.  We referred to each other as FN and FA – favourite niece and favourite aunt.

We hadn’t lived in the same country since she was a very young child, but we had this special relationship that was always there and always obvious.  Earlier we connected by post or phone and then heavens above, we got the internet. We met only on my infrequent visits to London.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there for her wedding, but I celebrated the day with her from far away.  And then one day I heard she was ill, then she was in hospital, and then, she was dead.

At the time her mother was suffering from Covid and so her brother and sister kept the details of the illness as it progressed, from my sister.

Of course, because of the deadly Covid, I couldn’t travel to be with my sister at this dreadful time and had to comfort myself with a video of the funeral ceremony.

If you have known me through my blogs, you will know that I post often about my sisters; one in London and one in Los Angeles. Well, later in the year my elder sister, the one in Los Angeles, had a stroke nd died.  She never recovered consciousness.  My sister and her daughter had no relations in America and her daughter was left alone to make the decision to turn off life support. Again, I wasn’t able to be with her and all the support I could offer was over the phone.  We talked, we cried, we laughed together, and eventually said goodbye to my big sister.

I was very close to this sister being that there was only 14 months between us.  In fact, we had that special relationship shared by twins and remarked upon by our family doctor who thought it very strange   She it was who had swollen legs during my first pregnancy.  A few years later I was woken in the night with awful pains.  I advised my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) that I felt as if I had just given birth.  The following day I had a call from Mother to tell me that my sister had given birth to a daughter.
There were other such occasions, some too personal to share and others too silly.  We could finish each other’s sentences; we knew what one of us was going to say even if the question started “Do you remember..” 

And today I was thinking of a special time we had together several years ago (could it really be ten years?).  We spent five weeks driving around California.  She had always taken us to places that tourists , don’t see,and on this trip I saw out of the way missions, small villages,the Danish city of Salvang, and on one outstanding day – The Big Yellow House in Summerland.  Today, I found the blogpost I wrote way back in 2012 on that visit

Christine, the eldest on Mother’s right, Marianne, the baby on her lap and me on her left.

The last time all three sisters were together was following Mother’s death.  We had both gone ‘home’ for the funeral.  A sad time but in some ways a happy time.  Father could have his three girls together just once more, and we could laugh and exchange our memories of growing up in a home full of love and laughter and enjoy ourselves as we had when young.

Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond gains on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain, I am th gentle autumn rain….
Do not stand at my grave and cry, I am not there, I did not die.”
Mary Elizabeth Frye
, American housewife and florist
1905 – 2004

JB January 7, 2022