Sunday, December 16, 2007

Missing My Grandma

"I loved my friend.

He went away from me.

There's nothing more to say.

The poem ends, 
soft as it began--
I loved my friend."

--Langston Hughes

I slice cantaloupe once a week in the restaurant kitchen and am reminded every time I scoop out the goopey seeds of how my grandmother always saved cantaloupe seeds to place on the bird feeder--a simple wooden plank on a pole outside her kitchen window--for the Cardinals who always visited her and Papa's yard.

Yesterday as I walked home from work in the snow, I remembered the afternoon at Papa and Grandma's that found me and Grandma sitting together at the kitchen window watching the snow fall. I was trying to keep track of individual snowflakes as they fell to the ground when Grandma smiled and said conspiratorially, "Sometimes I try to keep my eye on just one snowflake from the time I first see it until it lands on the ground." I turned to her and exclaimed, "I do that too!!! I was doing that just now!!!" And she laughed and seemed so happy to hear that.

I just miss Grandma so much lately. "Little" memories like the cantaloupe seeds and snowflakes have choked me up a number of times in the past couple weeks: The Christmas I got a Cabbage Patch Kid and got so upset with Grandma when she said my doll was ugly. (She was comparing my dimple-cheeked and single-toothed doll to the kinds she had thought beautiful when she was a child.) The good laugh she, my mom, one of my aunts, and I had when Grandma pulled her roasted chicken out of the oven and I pointed out that she had unknowingly arranged the onion slice-rings into a smiley face on top of the bird. "Ohhhhhhhh! Count on my little artist to notice that!" she said, and we all laughed together some more as we carried the side dishes and the "grinning" chicken out to the dining room. How every Christmas, a Cardinal-red Poinsettia plant, an annual gift from one of Grandma's nieces, would sit in the same windowsill in Papa and Grandma's dining room.

Every few days lately, I walk around the display of red, cream, and pink Poinsettias at the grocery store and think about how I'd never really liked Poinsettias much until this year but how now when I see them, they remind me of Grandma and her niece and how real love lasts and can be relied on--distance and time apart be damned.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Card from Mom :)

I wish I could jump right into this picture. 

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Becoming Catty

I'd never had a cat before moving in here in September, and I'd never wanted one. My family had a few Beagles as pets over the years, and I've just always seen myself as more of a dog person than a cat person.  I've never been intentionally hurt by a dog, but I always seem to end up scratched in my encounters with cats. I don't like the way cats jump and creep around. They seem nosy.  And their eyes are spooky. The black and white cat curled up by the radiator as I type this is part of the Mr. Mike Package Deal, though, so I have been adjusting to the feline-filled life.

"All he does is sleep!" I commented to Mike about his cat, Stuffed, a couple months ago. "What's the point?! He wakes up, goes back to sleep, wakes up and eats, sleeps some more, wakes up to use the litter box, sleeps some more...." Surprisingly, though, watching the cat nap on all his various perches around the apartment has turned out to be one of the small joys of my new life here.  Sometimes Stuffed sprawls out along the windowsill until he looks two feet long, and other times he'll curl up on top of the couch with his paws all tucked under his body like a bunny. He naps with one arm outstretched sometimes too, and when he's safely on the floor he'll stretch out on his back for a second with all four paws pointing outward, then curl up into a ball again. Most adorably of all, he can sometimes be found asleep with his paws over his eyes.  "Go back to sleep, Stuffed," I hear myself softly saying when he begins to stir, and I sit extra-still as his fluffy football-shaped head slowly settles back onto whatever he's using as a pillow.  He scrunches up his nose every now and then, with his cheeks and whiskers quivering around itI wonder if he's dreaming, and I hope that if he is, that it's a good dream.  
I emailed Mike while he was at work one day in October to tell him I'd changed my mind about cats:

The thing I meant to tell you about Stuffed awhile back is that I've been thinking about what I said about him before--"What a boring life! All he does is eat, sleep, visit the litter box, and look out the window!"--and realized/decided a few weeks ago that some things, like cats, must just be here to be loved by us. They don't serve much of a purpose, so maybe they're "just" here to make us happy and give us something to love and take care of (and ooh and ahh over while they sleep curled up in a ball). That's my new theory and perspective on cats.

A couple months since that email, I have learned something else about cats, as well: I don't know anymore if I could ever consider a place "home" without one. Just as I feel when I look up from writing a letter and see Mr. Mike contentedly reading his newspaper and drinking coffee, it makes me happy to see Stuffed looking so peaceful here. I probably could have figured it would come to this--my slowly becoming a cat person. My childhood favorites had purring cats at their ankles, after all: Strawberry Shortcake had Custard and Holly Hobbie always had a kitten nearby.  Anyway, dear little Stuffed has found his way into my heart.  I'd tell him right now, but he's asleep.