Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Re-tying Apron Strings

We had a dinner for the women of our congregation last evening where we each wore an apron and shared an "apron story."  I wore an apron that belonged to my maternal grandmother.  It is green checked gingham with yellow edging and a pineapple appliqué.  My mother made it for her, and one for my dad's mom as well, the Mother's Day when she was just pregnant with me.  I don't remember seeing Grandma in it, but she apparently wore it a bit.

My memories of my grandmother do include her in an apron, however.  It was one that she made for herself.  Navy blue checked gingham with red piping, the front crossed over in a v-shape that resembled a vest or maybe a wrap-around blouse.  Pockets on the skirt and tie in the back.  Very tailored and sharp.  Just like my grandma.

Grandma would come from San Diego for anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months one year to visit us back east.  She'd have that apron packed.  I don't remember many times that she was baking or cooking.  It seems to me now that she was always doing dishes.  Grandma hummed while she washed.  Sometimes real tunes, sometimes random made-up ones.  Always hummed with a do-do-do.  And she'd scoop those notes to beat Bing Crosby.  I can still hear the sound of Grandma humming in my head, but the moment I try to recreate it it disappears, and I can't come close.

If she knew I was around, the humming would often turn to singing, and I learned songs like "The Sheik of Arab-ee" and "The Lady on the Crocodile."  She loved the hymn "Abide With Me," and there were several years after she developed Alzheimer's that I couldn't sing that song without crying.  She also sang a non-LDS hymn that I can't really remember, but was something about walking with the Savior in a garden.  When I learned to play my flute, I'd play hymns for her and she would hum or sing along.

I'm not sure that my grandmother was really as musical as I describe her to have been.  I'm not sure why these are the memories that stick out in my mind.  Perhaps because the music meant so much to me.  I know she was always proud of how musical her grandchildren were.  If she could visit for a day, I'd love to have my daughters play the flute and guitar and sing for her.  I'd like to show her how our family continues on in that musical tradition.

We could listen while we did the dishes.  Me in my white linen apron and her in navy gingham.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Stress Management

Living at the end of a windy mile and a half long mountain road, I frequently encounter various fauna as the pavement interrupts their trail.  I have become convinced that were I so inclined I could generate a quiz entitled "Which Road-kill are You?"  Maybe I'd name it something less gruesome, but I think an edgy title would get more hits.

Responses to questions regarding stress management would place participants in categories of "Squirrel," "Deer," "Rabbit," "Dog," and "Quail."

A squirrel  is interesting.  We all have vast experience with them up here.  Most of us have hit at least one.  Sensing threat a squirrel darts back and forth, unable to decide which way to go to get out of the way.  Some people recommend honking at them.  I have found this to only agrivate the squirrel's stress and prolong the confusion.  I've also been given the advice to keep driving a straight and consistent course.  This has worked really well.  Since employing that strategy, I haven't hit one.  So amazingly, squirrels can avoid doom by acting like chickens with their heads cut off, assuming those actions aren't over analyzed.

Deer.  I usually encounter these in the early morning.  I've not seen one at night and have no idea whether one would really just stare into my headlights.  In daylight they just majestically stride along.  The driver will have to wait.  Deer are luckily large enough to damage a vehicle, thereby discouraging poor behavior from even the most self centered careless driver.

Rabbits dart out into the road BECAUSE a car is coming.  Maybe this isn't true, but it seems to be the case.  I had a cat that did that.  It was well after she was killed on the highway that my parents broke it to me that they believed her to be mentally retarded.  The good thing about rabbits, though, is that they stick to their path and get off of the street relatively quickly.

Dogs on my street seem to think there is no danger at all.  Ever.  I had one lay in the middle of the road, sunning himself and starring at me.  "What?  Why are you honking?  Can't you see I'm resting?"  

Quail crack me up.  The run as fast as they can, faster and faster until they decide they have no choice but to take off.  It is their last resort.  It must be exceedingly difficult for them, because they sure seem to exert a lot of energy avoiding flight.

How do you handle pressure or stress?  Do you act like it's not there?  Do you run  in emotional or intellectual circles, never quite knowing the path to take?  Are you just big enough to handle it?  Maybe you're like me and the quail and wait until the last minute to haul it outta there.  

Just so long as you don't eat my pansies ...