Category Archives: Grandparents & Parents

Gone Fishing

Guess where we’re at?
We’re in a place where you need wellies


Where it is green all year long.


Where you can pick lovely blackcurrants and make jam (before you start thinking that I’m a domestic diva, please note I only pick currants and occasionally stir pots and eat jam.)

Annalee River Blackcurrant Jam

We’re visiting Granny and Granddad N.


And we’re going fishing…


Of course, some of us have already caught fish!


So do you know where we’re at? Huh?

Don’t worry, our housesitters have serious 4H Ag backgrounds. The chickens, cats and dogs will be just fine.



Filed under Explorations beyond Southern Arizona, Grandparents & Parents

A Whole Week!

Last week was my first time away from Bean for more than thirty hours, ever. The only other long period of time was approximately fifteen hours when I was in the emergency room.

Bean and Green took off to Nebraska to visit Grandma and Grandpa for a whole week.

I survived.

She had an absolute blast.

I think she missed me a little bit, but she certainly wasn’t sobbing at night for her mama. This, of course, made me question what kind of mother I must be. Alright, she was in a favorite place being spoiled terribly by some of her favorite people. It is hard to miss your mama when you’re busy with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. And there is that whole ‘the two best gifts you can give your children are roots and wings’ bit too. Maybe we’re just doing the wings bit really well? Still, I got a fabulous hug and kisses when I picked Green and Bean up from the airport. Maybe she missed me a smidgen.

From her trip:

Fishing with Grandpa and Uncle Harold

She actually caught 4 or 5

The Land Shark (aka Green’s first love the 75 Monte Carlo Landau) which is coming home in the fall


Visiting Smith Falls

Actually, while I missed Green and Bean terribly and I didn’t get half what I planned done, I had a fair bit of fun. Bookclub, a couple of evenings of fine company and good food, stitch and bitch and a whole Saturday with my friend Melissa (an awesome photographer) showing me how to use a macro lens. Plus the chickens kept me company.


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Filed under Explorations beyond Southern Arizona, Family, Grandparents & Parents, Long distance

The Long Goodbye

Some of my favorite childhood memories are based at my maternal grandmother’s home: Welsh cakes on the griddle, picking out the morning glory sheets warm from the laundry room, huge bunches of lavender in the garden, eating fresh veggies from the garden, swinging on the striped garden bench with a glass of orange juice, hiding in the coal shed with my brother, the smell of wood shavings in my Granddad’s shed, putting out the bird food with my Gran.

The house of those memories was sold about a year ago now, after Gran moved into a care facility for those with Alzheimer’s. After a long and horrible battle with Alzheimer’s, Gran passed away two weeks ago today.

The last time I saw my Gran was this past summer. We’d travelled over to the UK a couple of times while we were in Italy. The second time was the best set of visits, probably the best for several years. She had absolutely no idea who we were and that was almost better. She just enjoyed us and specifically our daughter. It was just joyful.

Lollypop girls

I’ve already cried buckets for the loss of her mind, and for the anguish that the disease created for both her and her children. This was not the way she wanted to go. This was not death with dignity, but that is a post for another time. Perhaps a post for my mum to write. So this post is not to mourn, but to celebrate. This is a post to say thank you to both sets of my grandparents for the love that we always felt and to share some of the love in the form of Welsh Griddle Cakes. I made those Welsh Cakes of my memories for the first time, with my child, the weekend I found out about Gran. It isn’t quite the same, not being in that kitchen, but almost…
Welsh Griddle Cakes

Welsh Griddle Cakes
8oz of self-raising flour
4oz of unsalted butter
4oz of ultra fine granulated sugar (I think this is the same as the caster sugar as I grew up with)
1/2 cup of raisins
1 egg
splash or two of milk

Chop the butter into tiny pieces and rub into flour using your fingertips until the consistency is like small breadcrumbs. Bean and I did this together. We add the sugar and dried fruit next and give a quick mix to distribute throughout. Then Bean cracks the egg into the bowl and I stir it into the dry mix. Theoretically, you should whisk the egg before adding it to the dry ingredients, but eh. Then a splash of milk. We use 2% because that is what is in the house, but I’m guessing full milk would be better. Using our hands we get this into a nice dough and then roll it out to about a 1/3 of an inch. Bean cuts away with a scone/biscuit cutter, then off to the frying pan we go. Actually, it isn’t supposed to be a frying pan, rather an old fashioned griddle, but I don’t have one of those. I do have a cast iron frying pan. Grease the pan up a little, heat it up, not too hot. Then pop the cakes on. Three to five minutes on each side. They should be a light brown with some crispy bits. Toss a little caster sugar over them while they’re warm. Make them with the help of children, share them with loved ones.

Goodbye Gran. Be at peace.


Filed under Domestic Diva, Edible, Grandparents & Parents


Pink Lego

About a week or so ago, this landed in our house. A gift, a shared joke, from a dear friend who after having three fabulous boys added an equally fabulous girl to the bunch, not long after our daughter came into being. While I desperately tried to avoid the onslaught of pink, my friend embraced it. In our home, the shrieks for the pink one, the one with the bow and the princess stuff grow more shrill by the day, in her home the insistence that Lego is the way to go on all things appears firmly planted.

Across the miles, in emails and then in this package, my friend tells me they honor both desires with pink Legos. I’m not keen on the message that the mass produced gender prescribed crap often offers to our children, but should that sully the color pink? I figure as long as Bean is still investigating ants, climbing trees, taking dinosaurs on tracks across the desert, or building pink Lego bridges that a little or lot of pink is okay.

Dinosaur, snail and pink

I wonder how my mum addressed this way back at the dawn of time when I was a kid. Part of the second wave of feminism, Mum went on to write books on gender issues in the elementary classroom, but still I occasionally got my then pink obsessed way and ended up in dresses like this:

Tepary, 1976 at my uncle's wedding

1976 – Seven years old and at my Uncle’s wedding. Check out the other outfits!

Thirty-four years later it seems to have turned out alright, but where to find the balance? Mum? Ideas?
Rachel, Kerry, Erika, Julie, others does pink really matter that much in the grand scheme? Does it matter if the Legos are pink?


Filed under Communication, Grandparents & Parents, Navigation of Dangerous Water (Parenting)

For the Love of Books

I’m not particularly known for my organization or tidiness. I contend I am much better than I was in college, or pre-Green, but still not particularly organized. At least not on the surface. Scratch that surface a little bit and you find a woman who has her books separated into fiction: alphabetically shelved by author, poetry, anthologies etc. and non-fiction: history, memoirs, anthropology, biology, nature, physical science, politics, history, gender and women’s issues, travel, education and so it goes on. You get the picture. There are other aspects where my need to categorize runs rampant, yarn: by fiber and weight, fabric: by color and weight, and the fact that the spices and herbs cabinet are currently all mixed up is driving me absolutely batty.

Tonight, one set of bookshelves set up, tethered to the wall (have a toddler you’ll understand why) in the newly painted living room, I got to indulge my need for order and shelve the fiction books into their new location. It was bliss. Bliss to visit these old friends, to discover books half-read, books bought and not yet read, books that I wonder if rereading them now five, ten, twenty years on would make a difference in my perspective of them. I considered for about thirty seconds revising my book organizing to be all hip, modern and color coded like Lovely Design’s shelves. Then quickly dismissed it as absolutely beautiful, but not practical for us. I boxed a bunch of books that I’m sure I won’t miss and won’t revisit and finally allowed Green to add his books to the shelves on the understanding that the organization must be kept. This is funny, he is typically much more respectful of such order than I, but the bookshelves were mine. A place where I actually was successful at organization I feel unduly protective toward.

One of the most exquisite aspects of this process is finding the books that my mum has left on the bookshelves for me to read. Books that she has read in the same feverish manner that I consume books, while visiting us and then left for me to find at a later time. These books are like another form of communication between us. Separated by six thousand miles and yet in the late evening as I sort through and note this is a book to return to, a little hello from my mum.


Filed under Grandparents & Parents, Libros