Grandson outsmarts grandma — which is not that difficult to do

My grandsons are the most amazing people I know. You probably believe that your grandchildren (or children if you’re not there yet) are amazing, too. And I bet they are. There is something about this crop of young ‘uns that gives me hope for the future.

Here’s an example:

I stopped by Older Daughter’s house for a bit the other day. Youngest Grandson, a rising first-grader, always claims my phone immediately when I walk in — probably because it’s an iPhone 12 Pro Max that I don’t really understand & it’s out of his Mom’s all-encompassing media-censorship reach so it’s ripe for non-approved game downloading. On this day, I got a hug, handed over the phone & sat down to visit as he left the kitchen with his prize.

He was back again in a couple of minutes.

“Kacky, would you help me with your password so I can get this game? It’s new and I really really really want it,” he said.

Unfortunately, his mom heard him.

“No, Wesley,” she said, firmly, in that voice that always makes me straighten up a little even though she’s not talking to me. “You can’t use Kacky’s password to download games all the time. Give her back her phone & use your own tablet.”

The world held its breath for the next couple of seconds as he thoughtfully considered his options, apparently discarding the nuclear “arguing with Mom” choice (which, obviously, never ends well), and finally decided on a strategy. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next as he shrugged a concessive “OK, Mom” and left the room.

It didn’t take long.

A few minutes later, he returned with his headphones plugged in to his own kid-appropriate tablet. Taking a sip out of my glass of tea, he hopped on my lap & settled in as his mom & I kept chatting.

During a conversation break, he pulled off his headphones & asked me a question.

“Hey, Kacky,” he said, with a studied nonchalance, “I think that game is on my tablet. Would you help me find it?”

With his Mom’s attention diverted elsewhere (one of the dogs? one of the cats? one of the other kids?), I was happy to help.

“Sure, sweetie,” I said. “What’s the name of it?”

He seemed to ponder.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Maybe look it up in the App Store to see?”

Who could refuse such a reasonable request? We searched, looked up icons & tried to identify the mystery game.

“There it is!” he said. “I knew I had it.”

But, being the helpful (read “naïve & gullible”) grandma that I am, I had to point out that the game had been deleted from his tablet & needed updating.

“Would you do that for me, please?” he said, adding a kiss on my cheek. “I don’t know how.”

And that is how Youngest Grandson did an end-run around all the barriers erected against him & got exactly what he wanted with a minimum of fuss and a brilliantly executed plan.

As I said, my grandsons are amazing.

Random Thoughts from a Cluttered Mind

Recently I had a mad cleaning fit and finally — finally! — took on my home-office space. Although I think I’m a fairly organized person, the stacks of magazines and piles of papers and random notes stuck everywhere (I hope “Snd by 4:30 Tuesday” wasn’t important because I have no idea what I was supposed to “snd” or to where) said otherwise. Inspired to do better, I cleaned and filed and recycled and threw away and ended up with such a clutter-free work space that I know it will take me only a few days to mess it up again I’m feeling back in control. So why not do the same thing to my brain? We all have these unfettered half-finished thoughts and lists and ideas sort of floating around — you know, the things that keep you up at 2 a.m. because you simply CANNOT GET THEM OUT OF YOUR HEAD. If you can declutter your desk, why not declutter your mind? So here are some of my thoughts that are just lying around taking up valuable space. Who knows what I could accomplish without them in the way — finish start my novel, clean out the refrigerator, take a nap? The possibilities are endless!

  • We early-to-bed and early-to-rise folks do not like springing forward into Daylight Saving Time, with its dark mornings and its sunshiny evenings. Bleh! Of course, it does feel as if you have more time to go clothes shopping after work to get home and pull weeds, so that’s a good thing.
  • I never have to complete this sentence when talking to a fellow female about why I can’t go to the movie and sit still for two hours: “You know I had that major sinus infection for six weeks and then I finally went to the doctor and got some high-powered antibiotics that worked great, except that now …”
  • I don’t know why I cannot look away from “Celebrity Apprentice.” Has Donald Trump’s hair somehow hypnotized me? Scary stuff.
  • The baby-switching at the end of “Downton Abbey’s” final episode still bugs me. From one frame to the next, Lady Mary went from holding a “newborn” with fluffy reddish hair to one with slicked-back black hair. What does this mean? Did the producers think we wouldn’t notice? Or when season four starts and we’ve jumped ahead 10 years but nobody’s changed except for this strange child who DOESN’T LOOK LIKE ANYBODY ELSE, will somebody remember that Lady Mary blacked out for a bit after childbirth and nobody was with there with her for a few minutes and maybe SOMETHING HAPPENED???
  • I hope colored jeans are still in style this spring because I picked up several pairs last year and if everybody else is back in classic blue denim and I’m bopping around in turquoise and lime green and bright red … well, it won’t be pretty. Literally.
  • Speaking of babies — and this is a good thought I don’t want to get rid of — seems as if everybody’s having them. In the past few months,  my brother & sister-in-law had their second, a girl named Harper (love, love, love that name); several friends welcomed new grandchildren; and almost everybody I talk to is hosting or attending a baby shower. More, please.

Ah, I feel much better now. Thanks for helping with my decluttering project. Sadly, I already can feel those empty brain spaces filling up, much like my clean desk seemed instantly to sprout new stacks of staff. So come back soon for my next data download. Who knows what’s in there?

It’s Still Fall, Y’all

I’m rebelling. I’m staging a protest. I’m calling it “Occupy Autumn” and I’m refusing to budge until Dec. 1.  Or at least until Thanksgiving’s over. Who’s with me??? I mean, Christmas ads are all over TV, Wal-Mart’s been stocking eggnog for a couple of weeks and my town already has Christmas lights strung up and downtown windows decorated — and all before we barely got out of our Halloween costumes and had time to separate the good candy (anything chocolate, caramel or peanut butter) from the bad (anything that looks as if it came from a basket of restaurant mints). Forget Turkey Day — Christmas*** already has obliterated that quaint tradition and now has set its sights on blasting Oct. 31 out of the holiday rotation. Before you know it, Labor Day will simply be a precursor to the pre–pre-Christmas sales. So, let’s make a stand. Keep your pumpkins and your earth-tone tableware out for a few more weeks. Use those orange dishes and autumn-themed linens right up until December. Let your fall flag fly!

***And by “Christmas,” I mean that whole outspend/out-buy/out-holiday mentality that causes us to go broke and crazy every year about this time. The birth of a baby to a young couple staying in a barn in Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago? That’s a whole different story.

I Cooked Supper Twice! Now What?

I know! Shocking, isn’t it? But it’s true: Now that my husband and I are in a house together after five years of having a commuter marriage, I actually truly really cook supper for him. This mainly is for my mother, who was properly skeptical as I heaped praise on the possibilities of our new kitchen in our new house — “But don’t y’all usually go out to eat?” she said, puzzled about why I would care about granite countertops and tons of cabinet space. But Husband and I made it a goal to cook and eat supper at home at least one night a week. Baby steps, you know! And here’s the proof. The photo on the left documents our first meal in Week No. 1: Sweet potato fries and sautéed vegetables straight from Jack-O-Lantern Farms market in Muscle Shoals with slices of Niedlov’s bread from EarthFare grocery in Chattanooga and some seasonal Samuel Adams. The photo on the right is from Week No. 2 — roasted vegetables from the JOL market with grilled Dubliner cheese-on-pumpernickel sandwiches and a bottle of Ravenswood. And that, folks, pretty much depletes my repertoire of cooking supper. Sad, isn’t it? Not sure what I’ll come up with for Week No. 3. But promising to post it here will motivate me to do something besides fall back on my childhood tuna-fish casserole, so stay tuned. Also, you can see that the boxes behind my husband haven’t moved from Week No. 1 to Week No. 2. Hey — I was busy cooking supper!

Moving Day

I am so embarrassed to show y’all this, but we’re all friends here in the blogosphere and I know you won’t hold this against me even though I cringe every time I look at this picture and think about all the stuff we accummulated through the years that now is going to end up in a landfill. After 15 years of living in this house and raising two daughters and four cats here and then getting married to my college sweetheart who so graciously and patiently tried to fit himself in a house that never really was his, we have moved. One of the biggest parts of getting ready for the move was decluttering and cleaning out. And everytime I thought I had done that sufficiently, more stuff somehow magically appeared. Such as this pile we pulled out of the Scary Spider/Stink Room. I promise you that all this — and more — was stuffed into an under-the-stairs basement storage area. And it all had great meaning and value at one time, such as my daughters’ Sesame Street and Pound Puppies sleeping bags, which kept them safe and warm through many evenings of cuddles and TV watching. But they’re 26 and 24 now and really don’t need their old Sesame Street and Pound Puppies sleeping bags. The memories — and photos — are enough. I hate adding to the world’s trash load, but maybe somebody came by and at least rescued the sleeping bags from the curb before the trash truck came by. I only hope the rescuers washed the bags very very well in steaming hot water first. And as you can see, even with all our decleuttering, we still managed to fill a moving truck with Essential Items We Can’t Live Without. I shudder to think how many trucks we would have needed if it weren’t for the three yard sales and numerous clean-out campaigns we waged during the year our house was on the market. Jeremy — our moving guy in the photo top right — would not be smiling in that case.

And speaking of moving, Older Daughter graciously took over my newspaper column this week to give me an unpacking break. She is an awesome writer and did an homage to this house she grew up in as a farewell/break-up letter. Brilliant!


Ponderosa Tree FarmI know  y’all think I’m a chic and urban big-John Deere tractorscity sophisticate — isn’t that right???!!! — but the truth is that I’m just a country girl at heart. Okay, that’s a lie, too. I did not grow up anywhere near a farm, except when I went to visit my friend Debbie out in Beechgrove, Tennessee. But my dad has a nursery and tree farm and I love going out there, so I figure that’s close.  The Ponderosa Tree Farm is just a Burning bushPine treescouple miles or so from my parents’ house in Manchester, Tennessee. My dad grows and sells pines, hollies and burning bush — and has loads of fun. Well, again, that may not always be true — in the right-hand photo above, he’s trying to pull a mower out of the mud. I did not take photos of the resultant tractor pull, when the back wheel of the tractor reared up what looked to be several feet in the air and I was running through the calculations in my mind of how soon after the tractor flipped over could I call 911 and somebody would be out here or would I have to rescue my dad myself which I would, of course, although it would mean ruining my shoes in the ankle-deep mud but he’s my dad, for gosh’s sake. Luckily, everything turned out OK, although he did admit that perhaps he shouldn’t have been mowing in ankle-deep mud to start with. Farmers!

Home Decor

Banners There is a turf war going on in my neighborhood — literally. Yard decorYounger Daughter was the first one to point it out to me, and after that I saw evidence of this fierce competition everywhere: The  pink/green-banner crowd versus the black/cream coalition. Seems as if in the past few months, these two-toned initial banners have been planted in almost every other yard, with some families going for the traditional and classic cream-and-black combination with others picking the perky and cheerful green-and-pink option. And now I see these banners all over — in neighborhoods everywhere I go lately. Is this a nationwide trend? Are there any other color choices? How do you know if you’re a pink/green family or a cream/black? And is it true that I have nothing better to do than skulk around my neighbors’ houses surreptitiously snapping photos of their front yards? I think we know the answer to that one, at least.


Kate Gosselin Dear Kate Gosselin,

Listen, girlfriend, I know we cannot get enough of you lately, but, seriously, you are taking up way too prime celebrity space and I would like you to stop it. Please? Like, immediately? I cannot pick up any gossip magazine without you being on it and frankly it’s starting to bug me. I mean, I’m spending good money because I want to read about Jennifer’s attempts to get Brad back or Angelina’s attempts to get Brad back or how Elizabeth Banks really is not very nice or how Sandra Bullock really is. I don’t want to read about you. And let’s be clear: I’m not being critical of you. In fact, I’m sort of envious. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a famous multi-millionaire with nannies, bodyguards and Emeril  as a personal chef? Sign me up, and I’ll take the hair stylist, personal trainer and free tummy tuck, too. I do not begrudge you fame and fortune. I say good for you. It shows initiative and determination on your part and really, if I’d known having eight children was a key to success I’d have rethought stopping at two. The thing is, however, you are not a celebrity. You are just a regular person who yells at her husband and yells at her kids and makes bad choices. You are, sad to say, just like us. We don’t want our celebrities to be just like us. Oh, it’s true we want our celebrities to pretend they’re just like us. We want to see them buying toliet paper at Costco and slurping down frapps at Starbucks and playing with their kids at the park, but we know and they know and they know we know that they aren’t like us at all. You, however, are just like us but you don’t know it. You are — and I say this with all due respect — sort of boring. We don’t care about your free trips and your free vacations and the TV “stars” who keep popping up in your driveway to install solar panels or take you on motorcycle rides. It’s just … oh, I don’t know … uninteresting. And this whole marriage breakup thing? Please! I can get five women together at a moment’s notice who have marriage-breakup stories that would curl … uh, straighten … your hair. I’m sorry you have problems, but put your big-girl panties on and deal with it. In private, please. I look forward to the day when — just like the rest of us — the only connection you have to gossip magazines is picking one up at the grocery and reading it in the express lane while the person in front of you has 37 items and doesn’t know how to use the debit-card machine. Thank you.