Monday, July 28, 2014

Being The Smallest

He might be the smallest, but he sure can hold his own. When he does this holding of his own, the other two stand in awe and respect. For a while, they find other pursuits. They'll try again later.

He loves the other two and gazes at them as if they are Rock Stars. They are so talented and funny that he laughs at all their jokes, even when he doesn't understand them. They love this. Every comedian appreciates a willing audience.

One day he was taken on a visit to Great-Grandma's farm. It was big, and seemed filled with farming implements that Grandpa and Daddy could take them for rides on. They ran and threw balls and hollered and went into a wheat field. But then suddenly he was yawning and found himself, rather swiftly, placed inside a warm bath. 

This was a signal that bedtime would be soon but he wanted Great Grandma first, all by himself. This didn't happen often, but he was released while the other two were being scrubbed mercilessly by their mother. He crept to the living room and climbed up onto Great Grandma's lap.

She chatted, and laughed, and they snuggled up together like old chums. Great Grandma was so good at snuggling and listening. She was never in a hurry, which is one of the real advantages of having a Grandmother.

He also knows how to listen. He listened and watched carefully as a visiting doe came one day outside this sweet woodland cabin. He was quiet, because he knew that speaking might scare the doe. He had learned that 'doe' means a lady deer, usually a mother. He was fond of mothers because his own was wonderful and lovely and hilarious. She knew just how to make him happy whenever happiness was needed.

He might not always know it, but it is very nice to be the smallest. You don't have to go anywhere to sit up straight and do your sums and turn in your homework. You don't have rules that make you be in a line, or not talk back, or correct your mistakes. You can still be home, with Mother. And Grandmother! Yes, it is nice to be the smallest.

Rules, and responsibilities, and homework can wait. In the meantime, there's always a Grandmother.

See you along the way,
The SconeLady

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Planes and Water Bombers

It was all they wanted to talk about. They could talk about Water Bombers all day, if someone would. Grandpa used to fly RF-4's and F-111's and knew all kinds of things about jets and planes. He could talk about them all day long, if someone would. Theirs was a very satisfying arrangement. Simbiotic, really. 

So one day, after a very gratifying session of youtube Water Bombers with Grandpa, Mommy and Daddy said we could all go to the opening night of Planes, the film. PLANES?! No pronouncement could have been met with more excitement. So many wonderful things had happened already on this trip north! - friends had reconnected, ponies were ridden, the river had been floated down.. could anything better be even possible? But it was.

There would be seven of us, and it was arranged that Grandma would go early to the theater to purchase tickets before the hordes. She would battle her way and be first in line. Grandma always liked to be first in line. But as she approached the theater no crowds materialized. She stood there alone, under her purple umbrella, and waited.

"Grandma, why do you always carry a purple umbrella?" the small girl had one day asked. Grandma said that lots of people had asked her that question. People seemed surprised by a purple umbrella meandering all over the place for miles each day. The people of this sweet woodland town were becoming accustomed to it, but they often wondered if Grandma was expecting rain, or something. "No," she would reply. "I'm expecting the SUN."

Now, she stood outside in the sun waiting for the crowds, which were strangely missing.

No one was there when the theater opened for business. No one was there when Grandma happily purchased seven tickets. No one was there when she walked in to 'grab up' her seats. She sat. She read. She could be patient.

Suddenly there were the sounds of six wonderful people (whom she loved) coming in. "Grandma! You got such good seats!" Haha! Yes, and there were a lot to choose from.

Soon the lights dimmed and popcorn was munched. Mommy and daddy were on one end of the row, Grandma and Grandpa on the other. The children sat in between. At one point, mommy glanced down the row and noticed that all three children were sitting on, and around, Grandpa...eyes on the screen, but crammed all around him. Grandma, too, but mostly? - their Water Bomber hero, Grandpa.

The four of them sat, entertained and fascinated by what had always fascinated them. It didn't matter that these were talking Planes, and therefore not 'real'. I know of one 7 year old who had stars in his eyes just thinking of piloting one of those beauties. Yep. He could do it. He could strap himself in, set the dials, and roar forth.

He was only in second grade. But he could be patient.

See you along they way!
the SconeLady

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beauty. Beast. Who Wins?

It's tough to go to two movies in one day, and find yourself wondering which is worse (both) and which is better (neither). It was a conundrum. I literally went from one theater room to another, fleeing the wrath of both. It was harsh.

Ok, here's the story.

We were going to see the new movie Lucy. Have you seen it? Well, I was completely uneducated about it and knew only that it was 'SciFi'. Nothing more. After the inevitable trailers and ads we suddenly saw, on the screen above us, the gargantuan name of SCARLETT JOHANSON
I immediately knew why I, and a ton of other people, were crammed in there. And it had nothing to do with the movie.

Don't get me wrong; I like her just as much as the next person. She is interesting. Somebody told me that she might be the most sought after actress right now. At least by the men. I am really quite noncommittal about her, myself. Not at all jealous. And if anyone is waiting for her star to start fading, or her movies to stop selling, well don't hold your breath. It won't happen anytime soon.

So anyway, we were becoming entranced in the SciFi world of Lucy and right away I could tell it would be good. Good acting. Believable repartee.  She was arguing good-naturedly with a twit who then handcuffed her to a valise and made her go into a building. 

Are you worried about Spoiler Alerts? There's no need to worry, people. I have no idea what happens next. After they put some horrid thing inside her stomach (well, oops spoiler) I did not last past the next five minutes. Horrid and squidgey things started to happen, truly gruesome types of things, and I (as they say) couldn't take it.
Dashing out the door, I wondered what I would do until Lucy was over. The theater was a 4-plex so I decided to dip into the new Planet of the Apes. I suppose it, too, could be considered SciFi if you take into account the fact that apes have turned up smart and sassy. The only place that would ever happen is in SciFi, no matter what they say about our ancestors. I sat in the back, turned the brightness down on my iPhone and proceeded to text people.

I texted people until I noticed an ape grabbing an AK-47 and mowing people down mercilessly. He must have been really mad because his crooked teeth opened in a gruesome howl that reminded me of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings. After that I couldn't really concentrate to text because it was getting so loud - screeches, and super human snarls, not to mention the guns and rockets and other weaponry at play. I overheard a man in the next row saying, "This is ridiculous. We've wasted our money. Where is Charlton Heston, anyway?"

The poor man was from another era, hoping (as we all do) for a sighting of Charlton himself, astride a horse and leading kinder, gentler apes to the Statue of Liberty. 

Now THAT would be a good movie. They just don't make movie stars like Charlton Heston anymore. Certainly the Apes don't look anywhere near so handsome.

Besides, if they are really all that smart, for heaven's sake why don't they get a dentist? (I ask you).

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Friday, July 25, 2014

When We Turn The Key One Last Time

Things are moving along here at a furious clip, for the SconeLady and her husband are moving. All of the activity has the affect of distracting my mind from sad woes. And why should I be sad? Or woeful? It is because I must leave my sweet woodland cabin, and that is a melancholy feeling. I will probably hang on to the bitter end, and then turn the key one last time.

This husband of the SconeLady is making it all unbelievably easy - for me. The most difficult parts of moving are all being handled before I even have a chance to think of them. Bliss.

While contemplating these things, I felt the sudden need for a fresh and creamy scone. Why else be a SconeLady if you are not going to bring another batch into this world? I asked my mother and sister to come, to share them, and to sit around the table once more, together. 

I decided upon the Cream Scone recipe from a previous blog. The principal ingredients are thick cream and white sugar. Need I say more? Oh - and, of course, butter. Lots of butter. Also interesting was my newly purchased antique (well, that's debatable - let's just call it 'old') pastry cutter, which made the process much easier. 

Boxes lay strewn about the place; newsprint stood ready to wrap up any number of dishes. But the four of us sat, together, talking. There were darling grandchildren to exult over and thoroughly brag about. There was the SconeLady's upcoming trip to England (oh yes, and she is bringing her husband this time!). We didn't want to think/talk/analyze the impending move very much; there will be plenty of time for that.

I fully understood last week when the 7 year old grandson, as he strapped himself into the car seat, said "This is my most horrible day. I can't bear the thought of leaving here..!" No one who leaves this sweet woodland town actually wants to. It gets into your heart, this spot of green and blue. It's a place where even the dogs are happy. I'm not even joking! They actually smile.

So, we ate our scones, and our tea sandwiches, and lovely watermelon. Even sweeter than the scones, though, were the people sitting around our table. That is what I will really miss, most of all. Those dear faces.

I can't say very much more, my dear Readers (is it possible for fingers to get choked up?). ..I'm sure you understand.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Yes, Headmistress" (part 10)

Every American school, wherever you are, indulges in what we call 'Back To School Night'. We usually enjoy this because student behavior hasn't yet had a chance to reach crisis mode. This is key. Have Back To School Night early on before all you-know-what breaks loose.

The Brits also have their version of this night, which in 1990 took place soon after we arrived. Miss Lunn gave a stirring opening address, and then released us to visit the classrooms and meet the teacher. I wish I could remember the name of the 1st grade teacher because she was hilarious. On the first day of school our son had come home and stated, "My teacher is 93 years old. THAT'S REALLY OLD isn't it?" I thought it was, actually, quite aged for a school teacher. But really - who was I to judge?

We walked in and browsed. I was excited to learn if perhaps some American brilliance had shown up to impress the teacher. I approached her with the respect due an elder person. She stood facing a wall of graphs attached to student names.

"So how is he doing?", I enquired, and she turned. She certainly did not look 93, and I thought about mentioning it to her - but didn't. 

"Oh, he is very cooperative. Very nice." I waited for more. When nothing was forthcoming I ventured further.

"Oh. Well.. is he about where the other students are in terms of progress?" I squinted toward the graphs.

She apparently decided honesty was the best policy, and said in her jolly voice, "Oh, no, ma'am, he is right down there at the bottom!"

What -  OUR son? My eyes inched downward toward the lower graphs, searching for a name. She explained that the rest of the class had been in school for 2 years, and were advanced readers. Things 'might be different' in the American schools (this was a theme I was becoming familiar with).

Thank you for letting us know... What should we do?"

"Oh, not a thing, dear, not a thing. He has made the best choice we could possibly hope for. He has become chums with the smartest student in the class, Nicki, and is scratching and clawing to catch up. I have placed your son next to Nicki to help the process along a bit. No need to worry!"

Okay, so that was good. Right? In my relief, I decided to mention a point of curiosity - "You are much younger than I expected.."

She laughed, and said, "What? did you think I was 93 or something? (I always tell my classes that. And they always believe it!) Hahaha!"

We walked toward the car, not quite sure if we had just had good or bad news. Thinking of the Headmistress, I said, "I wonder if all you-know-what ever breaks out at that school."

My husband replied, "With Miss Lunn at the helm? Not a chance."

Oh, for a few more Miss Lunns on this side of the Pond. We wouldn't know what hit us.

Rule, Britannia!
the SconeLady

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Yes, Headmistress" (part 9)

We talked all the way home. Not everything that happened that day was bad, but neither was it all good. "Mom," they said. "It's all different here!" 

"Oh? tell me how different.." Apparently the use of language was one way it was different, for our small boy had said the word 'bloody' on the playground, and had been in trouble for it.

And what was the matter with saying it? Well, they didn't know it but children were not allowed to say that word, even if they didn't mean whatever it was meant to have meant. Or something. Here's what happened: while on the playground he shared that he had gotten a 'bloody nose' last year. I mean, doesn't everyone get a bloody nose at some point? I would have thought such a thing was relatively ordinary. But he quickly found out it was a BIG mistake to say it, for the response was swift.

A teacher learned about it and the child that uttered the abominable b-word had to stand against the wall for the duration and not talk. 

Suddenly I remembered. "Oh! I knew about that word but never thought to mention it. You'll probably have to call it a 'nosebleed' from now on.."

So that was the first event. 

The next bit, as you already know, was the way they ate the school dinner. Americans eat the American way, which is pretty different from the English. We cut our food with (of course) the knife in the right hand, and the fork in the left. Then - and I realize what a waste of time this all is - we switch hands and pick up the bite with the fork in our right hand. Unconscionable!

Miss Lunn expressed that this sort of eating simply

That was the second event.

But before they could tell me more, the topic suddenly changed direction. We were passing the chestnut trees, and those two lit up like light bulbs. "Mom! It's the CONKERS!!!"


"Conkers! They're all over the place - look!"

Sure enough, there were horse chestnuts scattered 'all over the place', ahead of us. The b-word, and dinner knives, and strange differences were forgotten. They explained to their mother all about 'conkers'.

"You see, mum, they drill a hole through...."


So I was 'mum', now? That actually had a nice ring to it. 

Rule Britannia!!

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Yes, Headmistress" (part 8)

These two sweet things were safe and sound, and in the capable hands of Miss Lunn. She said they were the first Americans at this primary school in ten years. So they would be unique; interesting; divergent. Right? I couldn't wait to find out!

First day of school

I walked home through the most enchanting fall morning. A delightful beginning! There would be time to unpack boxes and gather groceries and bake an apple pie. We would all celebrate our first day in grand style. 
   (The Darlings)

Instead of purchasing apples, I remembered the apple trees scattered among the gravestones just steps away, behind the ancient church. To get there I walked through our back yard, where rose bushes crowded along a long stone wall. This wall and these roses were the best spot in the garden. They would be magnificent in spring. How could I be so blessed?

The wall was perhaps two feet high, so it was easy just to step over and find oneself in the churchyard. I was in no hurry now. A sweet silence beckoned me to mosey and to read the ancient gravestones surrounding me. The names were old and traditional - Jeremiah, Martha, Ruth, James - as were the dates, going back to the 1700's and earlier. I had never been in a graveyard this old. 

The apples I found were perfect for pie making, and I carried 5 of them back through the churchyard. There was a reason I was eager to bake in this new place of ours: it had an AGA cooker! I had never heard of an AGA cooker, but soon remembered the connection between the AGA and Rosamunde Pilcher books. The AGA figured very importantly in all of her novels, for many of her heroines did their cooking with one. How charming to be included! 

The SconeLady with her AGA

I walked back to the school, just in time to find out how my two had survived. A group of mothers and small children stood waiting, and I noticed the dark and lively mother of the adorable four. This lady was all smiles and laughter, and she greeted me right away. "I remember you from this morning! Are you the new Americans?"

I don't remember our exact conversation, but during it I was warmly welcomed and certainly accepted. In a few minutes the children began spilling out the entrance, and what did we see? One of her daughters was walking with my own. We both laughed. Could it be? Friends.

It was time to go, but before we parted I said, "...and what is your name?"

Her youngest was pulling her ahead, "Come on, mum!" but she turned, laughing and calling out, "Rosie!"

Rosie. It was perfect. There was something about that name that exactly fit.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady