Friday, January 2, 2009

Grandma's Birthday -- and the Winner!

Today would be my Grandma's birthday -- and I'm not even sure which one. (Time to find the family bible or check the gravesite.)

I think lots of kids have special relationships with their grandparents. I know my dad's mom was a key force in my life.

She lived fairly close to us and that, as most local grandmas know, makes a handy and trusted childcare option! My mom was very big into volunteering, and when I couldn't go with her, I'd go to Grandpa and Grandma's.

Before my dad was born, they'd owned a bakery and that's something she never stopped doing. Shortly after dad was born, they left that life and moved to a farm on the outskirts of Lansing. Grandpa worked in the state motorpool and together they grew everything from peaches, tomatoes and berries to the best sweet corn I've ever had.

I'd watch Grandma can ("not too close -- that boiling water is hot!"), but mostly I remember helping her bake. Cookies, pies. I've never been a huge pie fan, but she was very good and every Friday when we went to their house for dinner and an evening of TV, we'd have pie for dessert, neatly cut into six slices.

I can't remember what they call those big cupboards that had flour sifters inside, cabinets and a shelf that moved out. Hoosier cabinets? But she had one (I loved that flour sifter!) And we'd make molasses, chocolate chip, and sugar cookies on a regular basis. Then she'd let me play with her jewelry, her Calgon powder in a tall tin, and with the crayon box.

In summers, we'd pick berries and vegetables, and then I'd get to help her cook. And sometimes she'd sit down to "watch her stories" and tat the beautiful pillowcases, handkerchiefs and doilies, some of which I still have.

Is there any doubt this smiling, laughing lady who never seemed to lose her temper and loved to cook had an influence on my life?

(An irony -- when I look at photos of Grandma, she looked like the one right above -- from the first photo of her holding me as a baby to her last. She died when I was 21 at 85, I think, which made her 64 or so when I was born. And she looked that way long before -- certainly during the '40s when photographed with my dad in his Army uniform. I just find it an interesting sign of our times that women who are 64 or younger don't look like Grandma did. They all look younger, act livelier... Is 75 the new 64? 80? Just wondering...)

My grandparents were humble people and its no doubt they survived the depression well because they knew how to work the land, use what they grew, and didn't waste money on terribly frivolous things. There is much I can learn from them in this new year, where recession is the word of the day and those of us who are lucky enough to have a job (and benefits) keep our fingers crossed that cutbacks won't affect us too terribly.

So, here's to Grandma on her birthday! She probably wouldn't understand blogs, but I think she'd be pleased to know I've connected with so many who love to cook, create, and carry family high in their heart -- all things she cared about a great deal.

And now, the winner of my blogaversary drawing -- a felted purse, modeled here by Mr. Gyps -- is:

Beth McW. of Doors are Everywhere! Beth, let me know where you are and I'll post your purse!

As I was cutting up the names of those who commented, there were so many, I decided to have a second prize -- a packet of notecards. I let Gypsy pick this one -- he's a paper eater (which is a liability in my kind of art) and when I dumped all the names onto the floor, he dove in and snatched one -- namely:

Joanne of Ad Libitum!

Congratulations to both of you -- and thanks to all who commented in the past month. By the way, I will be joining Lisa Oceandreamer's "One World, One Heart" blog drawing again this year. This is great fun and I encourage you all to get involved. I'll be posting about this later this week -- or link to Lisa's blog!


Susie Q said...

What a lovely tribute to your wonderful Grandmother!
Yes, it seems so odd to look back at people from that era and see them at the age I am now. It always seems that they look *older*...the stye of dress, the hair, whatever. But maybe my grandchildren will say that about ME someday!!

The sweet purse is beautiful!! Congratulations to your lucky winner!

Happy New year!!


Unknown said...

Great photos of your Grandma! Nice post!

Joanne Huffman said...

I'm delighted to be a winner! And, I love what you wrote about your grandma. And, I, too, plan to again join the One World blog; see you there.


BONNIE K said...

I really enjoyed this one. I love reading about our young memories. By the way, how tall was she???

Qugrainne said...

A wonderful story about your grandma. There is another beautiful "grandma" story by Linda at
that you might enjoy.
I was lucky enough to have my grandma until two years ago - she lived to be 93 and was still excited about learning new things.
You are so right - I think we are able to take better care of ourselves and we don't have to work as hard as those who survived the depression.
This was so nice to read, and the pictures are fabulous - I love your grandma in her garden!

Bree said...

My grandma passed away several years ago as well. I remember very similar memories of her - cooking, baking, reading, play fun. I completely agree about the age thing - women did look older at a younger age. Thanks for sharing your story.

Annie Jeffries said...

Such a moving tribute you have written here. I have always missed living close to my grandparents. That MY parents were nearby to our children was as much by design as by chance. It was one of the important things that I could do for them that I felt I had so greatly missed. I truly enjoyed reading this particular post from start to finish. Hugs to you and give Gypsy a scratch behind the ears for me, Annie

jet1960 said...

Well, rats that I couldn't be lucky enough to win your drawing again, but congratulations to those who did.

Your grandmother reminds me of my Mom's Mother. She is the one on the 4x4 family page that I did that I think you have, except in that picture she has a scarf on her head, so you maybe you can't tell it as much. That grandmother was half Irish/half German. My paternal grandmother was the one I was closest to because we lived right by those grandparents and also because my maternal grandparents were not as demonstrative. I learned from both grandmothers, though. They did have difficult lives.

Judy Winter said...

I want to know why Gypsy didn't pick my name as a winner!!! Naughty kitty.....See if I continue to try to talk your mom out of dressing you up!

Mary Timme said...

Like your Grandmother, I'm in my 60's and still feel 20 in my mind. I also love to cook and bake but not just for two people. Sigh!

I'm so glad I get to have some frivolous things as my parents were also great depression survivors and often went without. I think we may all learn that again.

Wonderful post and congrats to your winners!

HerzBlatt said...

What a warm and lovely story about your grandmother...I love the is wonderful when the grandparents live near to their grandchildren...We will do the 4 or 5 years we will sell our house because the garden is not big enough for an extension and then we will try to find a house for my daughter and her family and us... we will build in their garden a very small extension of their building, a so called "grandparents house"...*lol*....We won`t need a big house when we are older, and we will try to build this little cottage without any stairs.
And then we will try to be great grandparents for our grandchildren, too.
Best wishes

Anonymous said...

You got a scanner! Excellent. So that means we can always look forward to your sharing the family pictures which are so evocative and speak in terms of generational things we know, recognize and love. Great blog, of course!

Now, here's my question to you for the New Year and a very seious one, too. You work, have a family and wonderful friends and your blog - how and when do you have time for doing your craft work and do you have a space dedicated to it? I'm checking out a table to put in my "office" (spare room) upstairs but don't want to blow my budget on getting organized. Any recommendations?

anno said...

Lucky Beth & Joanne! Lucky you, too, to have had such a wonderful relationship with your grandmother. Lucky all of us to have your wonderful posts to read! Happy New Year!

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