Granny's Plea: Help Me Off This Bench!

With Grandparent’s Day this coming Sunday, I’m taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t. So far, there's not much on the credit side. 

Whooooooooa there! Hold your retort! That observation has absolutely not one thing to do with my grandboy, Ben.

Ben peeping out  his birthday teepee from Great Grandmadele

Ben peeping out  his birthday teepee from Great Grandmadele

Why, just thinking of him makes me bust out singing: My boy, Ben, he’ll be tough and as tall as a tree, will he! Ben’s truly . . . well, GRAND!

The deficit is mine. And Grandparent’s Day—curse those Holiday Maker-uppers—has me keenly aware of what’s wrong. 

When it comes to the whole Granny-Mimi-Nanny-Magah-Oma-Nana-Gigi-Grandmother thing, I’m a Rookie, fledging, novice, newbie, minor-leaguer—definitely lacking in credit and credibility. Especially when compared to friends like Marty with 6 grans (two under 6 months) and 13 years practice; Beverly (whose granny name is Grandmother, as in Would you care to dance. . . ) she's clocked about 8 years experience with both kinds of gran; Marcia, with 3 grands she sees all the time even though they live hours away, and Mimi (not her granny name), with 4 grands—2 sets of each same kind, same age. 

Mimi and Brian with their 4 grans sang in Mimi's Milestone Birthday Aug. 11th.

Mimi and Brian with their 4 grans sang in Mimi's Milestone Birthday Aug. 11th.

Numbers-wise (Not that being a grandmother is a competitive sport or that I’m comparing….), my sis-in-law, Liz (aka Oma) with 2 grangirls, isn’t far ahead of me. Soon (come the end of the year), I’ll have 2 granboys of my own.

Liz with her newest gran, Felicity, born July 19th, 2014

Liz with her newest gran, Felicity, born July 19th, 2014

But, in terms of  time on the field, in the trenches--Play Time--Liz, and my other gran-friends are days-years-diapers-hugs-highlights beyond me. Real Pros!  

The other night, coming out of the movie theater, Curtis and I met up with another expat couple we hadn't seen for months, Graham and Kerri. Most every expat in Trinidad vanishes over the summer, so come September, there’s lots of catching up to do. During our catch-up, Kerri, asked, “Have you adjusted to being a grandmother, yet?” then leaned over and whispered, "I know how worried about it you were.”

Worried, me? You bet! 

Now, with another grandboy from different parents in a different state, coming soon, make that Gran worryx2!*

Like a 47th round draft pick, I had been stressing over being a grandmother. Still am. Not because I wasn't ready to be one, but because I know great grandparents. And being a great Gran takes commitment, practice, effort, time

My grandmother, Nanny, at my baby shower for Max, July 81. I'm sorry to day I don't have any pictures of my grandfather

My grandmother, Nanny, at my baby shower for Max, July 81. I'm sorry to day I don't have any pictures of my grandfather

 I only had one set of grandparents, my mother’s parents, Nanny & Poppy, who took the job seriously! The time—play and otherwise—they lavished on me and my brother, is the reason we are the adults & parents we are today. (BTW: Wholly deserving of their own holiday.)  

However, Nanny & Poppy lived close, in the same house, or a few blocks over for our early years, a day away after that. about 2000 miles, oceans, borders, schedules lie between me and my gran. I can't just pop over for a quick visit, recital, ball game, etc. the way my grandparents did. 

Is it any wonder I worry? How are me and my grandbabies supposed to bond with all that's keeping us apart? 

What’s my Grandparent Wish? That one day, after my grandson stops trying to eat the phone, he’ll pick it up and say, ‘I’m telling Grandma on you,’ the way my kids did.
Grandma Lee never lived close by, but that never kept her from being close to Lexi & Max. This is in Phoenix 1985

Grandma Lee never lived close by, but that never kept her from being close to Lexi & Max. This is in Phoenix 1985

When Gran worries hit hardest, as they have with Grandparent's Day--the annual time for Gran self-appraisal--looming, I calm myself by thinking of these Gran-friends, Mom and my 2 mothers-in-law.  They never let distance or technological difficulties come between them and their grans. 

Grandma Lee called herself "The Coat Grandmother" because she always gave coats for Hanukkah. She could write with either hand, backwards, forwards and both at the same time. 

 

Gramadele used to live in Texas. Now she divides her time between there and Montana. She's up for anything!

Gramadele used to live in Texas. Now she divides her time between there and Montana. She's up for anything!

Gramadele is "the Birder Grandmother". Sort of the Auntie Mame of the bunch, always going off on adventures, and laughing about them later. 

Having come into the Max and Lexi Gran game when they were 8 & 10, she's proof that starting late doesn't matter. What really counts with grans is heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Disneyland adventure with Grandma Mary, Max, Lexi and their Wonka pops collapsed in a heap.

Post Disneyland adventure with Grandma Mary, Max, Lexi and their Wonka pops collapsed in a heap.

My mom, Grandma Mary, was "the Toy Grandmother." Infamous among friends, known for huge sunglasses and a passion for chocolate!

When the kids were small, she never failed to send goody boxes of decorations & treats on holidays. And every school holiday and summer break, she'd send herself to visit us. 

She and Nanny invented what our Watsonville neighbor, Donna (now a Gran to 2--both kinds), called the "30 mile vacation." We'd load up the car for a road trip, 1st stop might not get us out of town, drive over the pass, pull in at the first hotel with a pool (often Anderson's Pea Soup), stay a few nights, then return home. Total trip: 30 miles, tops.

 

Grandparent's Day is Sunday.  In honor of the holiday, I'm getting off this bench and into the Grandparent game. I aim to score some big league Granny-to-Gran bonding time. I've started a HOW TO BE A GREAT GRAN list. Suggestions please: 

How can we long-distance Grandparents get in more Gran-to-Grand Play Time?

                                      Let's hear it for Grands!

*How do grans with more than 2 children in different places, do it? (I've asked Marty, just back from the birth of her sixth, but she's too jet lagged to answer.) 

Here’s this blog’s playlist:

 

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The Truth About Visitors

Visitors use towels, dirty dishes, take up space, have the nerve to claim the TV clicker . . .basically wreak havoc on routine. And more...

. . . If were lucky that is!

After having a home in New York for more than 3 years, I could name the sights on my way to and from the grocery, post office, hardware store & the airport exits. . .  I was especially familiar with the view from my desk chair. And since we're being truthful, with the view from the fridge to the TV. . .  I had a drawer full of New York/Long Island "Sights to See" Guides but had never cracked the spines. 

Then the visitor came! 

The visitor was framly (friend-so-long-they're-family) John from Tulsa. John and I, almost 30 years ago, worked together. We were both restaurant cooks. Our working relationship spread from kitchen work, to raising kids, gardening, decorating, painting, unpacking, packing. We work well together and have fun while we work. Our motto is: 

Crank up the music and get er done! 

Without apologizing, I'll admit how, in anticipation of John's visit, I looked around at my house, at the columns of boxes needed to be unpacked, at the stacks of pictures waiting to be hung, and the cupboards waiting to be organized, at the wallpaper waiting to be hung, and practically salivating. Imagine what John and I could accomplish this week!

And even though John was using one of his two-only weeks of vacation to come and visit, he wouldn't have minded one bit. In fact, I know he would have loved it! (He's that kind . . . )

Still. . . as enticing as the thought of all we could accomplish was, instead we:

Walked and walked and walked the city, discovering wonders like this Zipper Graffiti

Walked and walked and walked the city, discovering wonders like this Zipper Graffiti

Hunkered under a nut vendor's umbrella during a rain shower, then finally broke down--after we were soaked--and bought umbrellas.  

Hunkered under a nut vendor's umbrella during a rain shower, then finally broke down--after we were soaked--and bought umbrellas.  

Toured  Radio City Music Hall --and sneaked snaps of  Tony Award  rehearsal through the camera room window. Then, come Sunday night, glued ourselves to the TV with take-away dinner to watch the show because "we were there"!

Toured Radio City Music Hall--and sneaked snaps of Tony Award rehearsal through the camera room window. Then, come Sunday night, glued ourselves to the TV with take-away dinner to watch the show because "we were there"!

Braved the long and winding line at The Original Shake Shack. Which shake should we try? 

Braved the long and winding line at The Original Shake Shack. Which shake should we try? 

Took turns playing "photographer" with Russian tourists at Rockefeller Center--while pretending not to speak English

Took turns playing "photographer" with Russian tourists at Rockefeller Center--while pretending not to speak English

Before I knew it, I notices my mind drifting back to my stories. The "What ifs" and "I could trys" were popping, snapping, pinging and zinging in my noggin. At a level I hadn't experienced since first beginning on this writing journey, I found myself wanting to get to work. I even pulled out my cell phone to jot some story notes. 

Sniffed spices and filched samples at  Grand Central Station Marketplace

Sniffed spices and filched samples at Grand Central Station Marketplace

And even bought souvenirs   

And even bought souvenirs

 

Played with Dots pillows--even though we knew we'd get in trouble-- in  Dylan's Candy Store

Played with Dots pillows--even though we knew we'd get in trouble-- in Dylan's Candy Store

Sat at Meg Ryan's infamous " Sleepless in Seattle " table at  Katz's Deli (with the bossiest, grouchiest staff in the world!)

Sat at Meg Ryan's infamous "Sleepless in Seattle" table at Katz's Deli (with the bossiest, grouchiest staff in the world!)

Note one, but two tours of the   Tenement Museum  , and walked the streets, and explored the gift shop . . . 

Note one, but two tours of the Tenement Museum, and walked the streets, and explored the gift shop . . . 

And finished with a Frozen Hot Chocolate at  Serendipity 3- -because of that scene in the movie . . . 

And finished with a Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3--because of that scene in the movie . . . 

Julia Cameron, discusses the importance of taking ones' self on "artist dates" in her 12 Step Guide to Creative Recovery, The Artist's Way. She believes these dates to be so restorative, she prescribes them weekly as a vital component of the recovery process. 

As prescribed, I've taken myself on Artist Dates. However, as with gym time, spa time, dentist visits, and other "good for you" scheduled events, regardless how enjoyable,  I tend to rush through Artist Dates to art stores, playgrounds, museums and the like. After,  I tick them off like just another chore on the list and more on. 

When the Newark Express pulled away last evening, I was sad to see John leaving.

When the Newark Express pulled away last evening, I was sad to see John leaving.

At the same time I was bubbly, energized and excited to get back to writing. Why?

When we were kids and acting fussy. Not naughty, but that sort of irritating, pestery, whiney baby-ish, my folks would send us outside. "Let them play it out," they'd say. As though, by playing hard, we could use up, expel our peevishness. 

Artist Dates can be inspirational, informative, restorative even. But let's face it, they aren't necessarily fun. On the otherhand, Play Dates are fun. What the heck? We are writing for children + We are trying to tap into our inner children + Play Dates are fun = Maybe you do need to stay focused, keep your butt in the chair, approach writing as seriously as every other career. But, but, every now and again, especially when we're feeling peevish, we need to get out there and play! 

The truth about visitors is: Visitors visit to have fun. They want to play. And, unless they visit when we're away, they come looking for a playmate. Sure, we can do our best to stick to "business as usual" when we have visitors. But why?  

Playmate! Come out and play with me/And bring your dollies, three/climb up my apple tree . . . 

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Rocking and Rambling

Zane's pirate flag is flying high today!

ONE DAY I WENT RAMBLING

is a finalist for the Writers' League of Texas Book Award!

 

 

Bright Sky Press, 2011

For more on WLT click: http://www.writersleague.org/131/2013-Book-Awards-Contest-Finalists

 

 

The 2013 Writers' League of Texas Book Awards Finalists 

*Winners will be announced on this page in early September.

FICTION

Along These Highways by Rene S. Perez Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai by Barbara Lazar Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Saenz Appearances: Stories by Jan Seale

NONFICTION

Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing's Invisible Champion by WK Stratton Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality by Suzy Spencer Gated Grief: The Daughter of a GI Concentration Camp Liberator Discovers a Legacy of Trauma by Leila Levinson My Boys and Girls Are in There: The 1937 New London School Explosion by Ron Rozelle In the Shadow of the Carmens: Afield with a Naturalist in the Northern Mexican Mountains by Bonnie Reynolds McKinney State of Minds: Texas Culture and Its Discontents by Don Graham

POETRY

Horse-Minded by Suzette Marie Bishop Crane Creek, Two Voices by Vanessa Furse Jackson & Robb Jackson Strange Light by Derrick C. Brown Begging for Vultures by Lawrence Welsh Jan Seale: New and Selected Poems by Jan Seale

MIDDLE GRADE & YOUNG ADULT NOVELS

Breaking Lauren by Jordan Deen Chained by Lynne Kelly Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull The Veil by Cory Putman Oakes The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly

PICTURE BOOKS

Alicia's Fruity Drinks by Lupe Ruiz-Flores HummingBirds: Facts and Follklore from the Americas by Jeanette Larson It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate One Day I went Rambling by Kelly Bennett

SO FAR AND YET SO CLOSE . . .

** I can’t just push on with my usual day and let my guests fend for themselves, can I? Especially not in Trinidad where they can’t drive, the only place close enough to walk to is the mall—or around in a circle, and if they leave the building without a “fob” (of which there are only 2) they’ll be locked out forever and have to sleep under a car and catch a long green lawn lizard for lunch . . . What sort of host would that brand me?

Recently . . . okay, last October, sis-in-law Marilyn came to visit. I placed the TT Travel Guide on her bedside table, handed her a pad of sticky-notes and told her we could go anywhere in the book she wanted. (Being new to Trinidad myself, I’d never been anywhere in the book, either, so it would be an adventure for both of us.)

Yes, I did warn Marilyn that I’d already suffered 2 flat tires, run out of gas and driven on the wrong side of the street more than once, as well as the wrong way down a one-way. . .  Eternally “yar,” Marilyn rose to the challenge.

Our first few outings were timid enough: jaunts around town; up up up a scenic hill; over and around the mountains to the beach…on a narrow, shoulderless pitted roads . . . during a rainstorm. . . .

On the day of our last outing, Marilyn flipped to a sticky note which directed us South on the highway to a Hindu Temple, “Waterloo Temple in the Sea.” At high tide it’s surrounded by water; at low tide by mud flats. It serves as testament to Sewdas Sadhu, who built it, “single-handedly”--spell check doesn't like this word apparently, it suggested: highhandedly, underhandedly, offhandedly, evenhandedly--over a 25 year period, by carrying stones on his bicycles and preparing and dumping bucket after bucket of concrete on the seafloor at low tide to build the foundation.

According to the book, the way to the temple seemed fairly straight forward---it was NOT!  Others might have been tempted to turn back. Not us! If Sadhu could do what he did, we could, with air-conditioned confidence, find it!

Good thing we passed a “doubles” vendor on the side of the road, and hostess mindedness—and tummy growls—compelled me to crank a U-turn so Marilyn could try one of these fist-sized gloppy curried chick peas-drizzled-with-chutney-cucumber-and-pepper sauce (if desired)-sandwiched in fry bread morsels or we might still be looking . . .

It was low tide and the scene around the temple island was mudflat and religious relics mired in muck. Not the most photogenic, but inspiring none-the-less as they reminded Marilyn of something more she’d read in the guide book—the Chaguananas Pottery makers, where red clay is fashioned into all manner of pottery and fired in open wood-fueled kilns.

Although Southeast Asia is far from Trinidad—on the other side of the world--our visit to  Benny’s Pottery Works, “the oldest and most famous” of the traditional pottery workshops transported me right back to Java or India or Nepal. . . The methods are the same. The workers possess the same wiry builds, same stance with cigarettes dangling from their mouth, same quickness and expertise.

So far and yet  close . . .

*I’ll only say this one time, never again, and only way down here at the bottom of the post. So if you’ve read this far, this is to you: Forgive me for slacking on the blogging. Truth is I've been so busy "filling my writer's well" (as my friend Richard Harnett puts it) I haven't taken time to blog. Stick with me, I'll be better about it, promise???

LET'S GO RAMBLING BLOG TOUR 2012 AWARD CEREMONY

LGRBT 2012, LET'S GO RAMBLING BLOG TOUR launching my new picture book, One Day I Went Rambling, illustrated by Terri Murphy (published by Bright Sky Press) culminated yesterday at with the LGRBT AWARD CEREMONY. A couple of couple of handsome friends, Pucia & Brujita, drew the WINNERS of our LGRBT Cool Prize Giveaway. ONE DAY I WENT RAMBLING's talented illustrator of and blog tour organizer extraordinaire, Terri Murphy, recorded the festive finale on U-TUBE. WATCH THE AWARD CEREMONY HERE: And the WINNER IS... Huge thanks to our blogger friends who hosted and toasted and boasted  (not roasted) us and ONE DAY I WENT RAMBLING.

LET'S GO RAMBLING BLOG TOUR STOPS:

June 8:     “Author School Visits BY STATE!” Illustrator Interview by Kim Normanhttp://stonestoop.blogspot.com/2012/06/pleasant-ramble-with-illustrator-terri.html

  • “Kim Norman’s School Visit & Author Blog” Book Review by Kim Normanhttp://www.kimnormanbooks.com/www.kimnormanbooks.com/Blog/Entries/2012/6/8_REVIEW__One_Day_I_Went_Rambling.html

June 9:   “Simple Saturday” Book Review by Debbie Gonzales http://www.debbiegonzales.com/simple-saturday/2012/6/8/things-to-love-about-one-day-i-went-a-rambling.html

June 10: “Vonna Carter.com” Author Interview by Vonna Carter http://vonnacarter.com/wordpress/?p=7783

June 12: “Little Deb’s Doodling” Book Review by Debbie Meyer http://www.thelittledeb.blogspot.com/2012/06/one-day-i-went-rambling.html#links

June 13:    “Four Thousand Sentences to Go” Book Review & Author Interview by Cindy Faughnan http://www.cindyfaughnan.com/faughnan/index.php/4000-sentences/item/37-picture-book-one-day-i-went-rambling

June 14:  

  •  “The Story Continues -- The Writer's Plot” Book Review by Pam Zollman http://www.thewritersplot.com/news/2012/6/kelly-bennetts-newest-picture-book-one-day-i-went-rambling

June15:

June 16:    “On My Mind” Illustrator Interview with Alison Hertz http://www.alisonhertz.blogspot.com/2012/06/new-picture-book-one-day-i-went.html

June 17:    “Writing on the Sidewalk” Author & Illustrator Interview with Sarah Tomp http://writingonthesidewalk.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/one-day-i-went-rambling-by-kelly-bennett-illustrated-by-terri-murphy/

June 18:    "San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review" Book Review by Tammy McCartney http://citybookreview.com/2012/06/one-day-i-went-rambling/

June 19:   

June 20:      “Kids EBook Bestsellers.com”  Author Interview with Karleen Tauszik http://www.kidsebookbestsellers.com/2012/06/rambling-through-cyberspace-with-kelly.html

June 22:    “Michelle Kogan Illustration, Painting & Writing” Illustrator Interview by Michelle Kogan http://moreart4all.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/terri-murphys-journey-of-a-picture-book-one-day-i-went-rambling/

Thank you to everyone who joined, liked, shared stories, blogged, tweeted, twittered, chirped, chime-in. . . RAMBLED ALONG!

If you're wanting a creativity boost, the whole long and winding ramble is on the LGRBT 2012 Facebook Page