WILD THINGS . . . A Rumpus in a Teapot

Dance of the Books, Panel 7, by Helena Clare Pittman, Grahamville Library, Grahamville, NY.
www.helenaclarepittman.com

“But I don’t want to do a story!”

Storytelling in the last thing Mathew, my 7-year-old grandson, and I do before lights out when he stays over.

“You’re good at starting off,” I say.

He squints. “Ok. I’ll do the starting, but you’ll do the finishing.”

I nod in agreement to this familiar clause in our contract: if he begins, [...]

LOL . . . A Personal Perspective

On the first page of George’s Marvelous Medicine, author Roald Dahl introduces us to George’s Grandma, as loony an old lady as ever existed. She lectures George that he should be growing down, not up.

“Before it’s too late!” she rants. Her recipe? Eat insects, all manner of small crawly creatures.

From Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvelous Medicine illustrated by Quentin Blake, Penguin Group, 1981.

I chose the book to read to my six-year-old grandson, Matthew. The title sounded interesting.[...]

Rediscovering Neverland

Believing Begins with Books

Dance of the Books, Panel 4, by Helena Clare Pittman, Grahamville Library, Grahamville, NY. www.helenaclarepittman.com

Long ago in the war-plagued world of 1944, my family moved up and down the East coast according to my Dad’s assignments as a Navy Supply Officer for troops over seas. Ripped from my classroom in my hometown, I fumbled my way through the year; annoyed each new teacher who had to acclimate the new student, endured exile from the kids on the block, and teetered on the brink of academic failure in first grade.[...]

A Child, A Grasshopper, and Rachel Carson

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In Support of the Sense of Wonder

Child at Insect Zoo by David Lee, 1977/ Smithsonian Archives

I read Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s book about the dangers of the uses of chemicals in 1962, the year it was published. Carson opened her narrative with an ominous fable. A village had gone quiet. The inhabitants, even young children, died from no discernible cause. The birds had stopped singing and vegetation withered. [...]

Fortresses, Fences, and Walls

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When Family and Friends Become the “Others”

The five of us settled into a large cab for the 25-minute ride from the hotel to Aunt Gloria’s house. My son, my two grandchildren, and I were visiting relatives in Cali, Colombia with my daughter-in-law, a native of the city. With the success of security measures for city dwellers reported by our Cali in-laws, the summer of 2009 seemed right for the moment of reunion that had been on hold since my son and my Latina daughter-in-law married nine years ago. [...]

Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson

CNN.com

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The images of the helicopter departure of Michelle and Barack Obama from the White House on January 20 felt awkward, certainly theatrical, if not slightly surreal. Don’t get me wrong, everyone played his or her part and the exit went off without a hitch. What kept nagging at me was, where were the girls, Sasha and Malia? Or, perhaps more accurately, how can our first family of the last eight years depart—even symbolically—without the children and to me, as important, without their grandmother, Mrs. Robinson [...]

To Swim 70 Miles a Day . . . Every Day of Her Grandmother Life . . .

Photo via Orca Network, by Heather MacIntyre

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And still able to spring out of the water, balance for a moment on her tail before going under for the next laps in her Pacific Ocean domain, traveling with other members of her orca pod. All are in high spirits, breaching and tailfin slapping, momentarily released from their H2O milieu and apparently rapturous about the brightness of the sun and the massaging of their skin by surface breezes. [...]

The Covenant

How does it happen that as infants grow into their six-month stage, their eyes, large and wide, their gaze, long and leisurely, seems to beam from a far off place, a heavenly body, perhaps, where pools of feeling need no shelter, where wonder and seriousness are in abundance, exposed and available for the innocent to absorb.

My most recent “gaze” came from my grandniece, Lucy, at her baptism ceremony. [...]

November Bloom

november iris

When I rounded the bend in the cul-de-sac in front of my house, I stopped dead in my tracks to stare at the most beautiful of blooms, an iris, planted in our community garden by my neighbor, a variety in Connecticut that always produces its clusters of flowers in early June, hearty and elegant with the graceful curves and colorations of its petals.

But this was November, nearly five full months past its days for blooming.

Under the petals, two fully developed buds were in waiting with a third further down the stem. The shock for someone like me [...]

T-REX—on My Deck

T-Rex On My Deck

One day after a wind blown summer storm, my 7-year-old grandson, Matthew, and I collected fallen debris from trees and other rubble, piling fragments of dead branches in a corner of the deck. As we stacked final bits, I remarked how great it was to have his help.  "Now, it's time to get the recycling bag, yes?”

“No. I have an idea.”

“Really?”

“Yup—you’ll see.” [...]