All’s Well That Ends Swell

Dear Millie,

Stevie the Snake!  HA!  I was wiping tears from laughing so hard.  Is he still on your neighbor’s front steps?

I have to tell you a dumb thing I did. I know you won’t be surprised, but anyway…. Have you ever gotten yourself too far into something and not known how to get yourself out? I do it all the time, but I’m hoping you’ll be better (or are already better) at speaking up when you should than I was.  You know, now that you’ve shared your steps to deal with unpleasant situations, I feel much better equipped the next time I find myself in one!  At any rate….

It was just after stake conference. It had been a wonderful meeting and it seemed like everyone was basking in awesomeness afterward. Most of the crowd eventually dispersed and the visiting authorities were enjoying a lunch with the stake presidency and their families. I was waiting to talk with Bishop about Relief Society-related things. As it happened, there was a gentleman already waiting ahead of me. I visited with him a bit and my feet were getting uncomfortable in the heels I was wearing, so I excused myself and sat down in one of the comfortable chairs in the lobby and busied myself in papers and things.

A youngish lady from my ward came into the building and saw me. She hurried over and said that she had just a bit of time before she had to be to work, but wondered if I’d like to take a walk with her. She had already changed into the tennis shoes she’d be wearing to work. I considered my footwear, but said sure and mentioned that it wouldn’t be a good idea to walk in the shoes I was wearing. She waited while I took them off and we headed outside. We had no sooner stepped onto the sidewalk than she started pouring out her soul. When we got to the end of the sidewalk, I started to turn to head to the grass, but she was forging on ahead through the parking lot, deep in lopsided conversation. I hurried after her and we marched right through the parking lot and onto the street where she turned to walk through a neighborhood.

Now, I’m no sissy and I enjoy being barefoot. It wasn’t painful to walk, and I was quite pleased at the pace I kept while discussing all sorts of things that were troubling her. But I also knew that since I don’t spend a lot of time barefoot on the street, it didn’t bode well for me that we were heading farther away from the church. To make matters worse, we were getting closer to an interstate, and her small voice was quickly being drowned out by the noise of the traffic. I could barely make out what she was saying, and she was clearly concerned about what she was talking about. We were quite far from the church, but it was too late to turn back now! She must’ve sensed my hesitancy as I was mulling my options. She turned her face to me and asked if my feet were doing okay. They were, and I said so, but I silently decided that I’d better do something or they might not be. So, I picked up the pace! I hurried us around the neighborhood and she commented that I must have fantastically tough feet.

By the time we reached the parking lot, I was trying to maybe spread the love and walk on different parts of my feet without slowing the pace or making my smooth stride weird or gallop-y. Praise be…I was wearing a long maxi skirt that hid all my weird leg configurations. I tried my heels for a bit but decided it was less noticeable to walk on the outside parts of my feet. It was all I could do to not have spazz hands (have you ever walked on the outsides of your feet? I remember Pops having us do that across the dojo when he taught Tae Kwon Do. All the kids’ hands took on mangled shapes while they walked! Try it and see what happens to your hands. And then report back!). I was practically race walking across the parking lot to the church. My companion thanked me for the lovely visit and walk. I practically barked, “You’re welcome!”

I sat down in the comfy chair for a few moments before Bishop came out and invited me into his office. I quickly decided I’d better just carry my shoes in. I played it casual like it was normal to not be wearing shoes in the church and certainly his office for a meeting.  I’m breezy!  I set my shoes down next to the desk and pulled out my notebook. We talked and I got some great counsel on things and by the time we finished, the building was empty. He offered to see me out to my car as a gentleman does, but he had to check all the doors on our way out. I had to wear my shoes. Blast. I could barely walk. Fortunately, the lights were off, so only my off-beat click-clacking shoes on the cultural hall floor could give any indication that things were amiss as I helped check doors. Rest assured I sported spazz hands in the dark. I waved goodbye at my exit and pretended to check my phone as he locked the door behind me. There was no way I was going to make it down the steps without some heavy rail usage!

A plus side was that I rarely reach any fitness goals on Sunday (I take my day of rest very seriously and maybe a bit too literally), but my distance tracker says that I walked at least a mile that afternoon.

I couldn’t walk the next day. I had forgotten about my feet when I woke up. I stretched and got out of bed. It was excruciating! I had blisters on my toes, the balls of my feet, my heels, and of course the outside edges as well. I mostly got around in a completely unnoticeable fashion: with my knees pressed together and lower legs splayed so I could walk on the inside edges of my feet. Most becoming!  By evening, I could make it up and down my carpeted stairs when thrown over using the banister. The next morning, it felt like I was walking on water balloons. Still painful, but it was picture day at Walmart (thank goodness for my fancy reminder card!), and I couldn’t miss my appointment with Disaster.

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Kinda nasty.  Sorry!

Tell me you’ve done something dumb like this before.

Love,

Grace

Stars for Everyone (but Mostly for Me)

Dearest Sister Millie,

I love broccoli!  I love cheese!  And I love broccoli cheese soup!  I’m not sure I’ve ever had Mumsie’s (where was I??  Sometimes I wonder if we had different childhoods.  And parents.), but I remember when she first started making that broccoli cheese concoction for smothering baked potatoes.  Mmmmm.  Maybe it’s one and the same?  At any rate, I’m going to have to make it!

Guess what I did today?  I polished acorns!  A friend of mine invited me out to her adorable farmhouse for lunch.  Last time she had us over (I had Vanessa and Lucy with me), she made us pierogi.  They were filled with mashed potatoes!  I’d never even heard of them.  Anyway, after lunch today, the girls all played while we chatted at the table and cleaned acorns.  We’ll be painting them at a Relief Society activity next Tuesday.  Isn’t that fun?  If I didn’t already have commitments, I’d be going to hunt mushrooms with her tomorrow.  Hunt for mushrooms!  I love this place.  When I left, she handed me a jar of pure maple syrup tapped from the family’s trees (pure maple syrup is amazing!).  She also gave me a carton of fresh eggs from her chickens.  I love her!

She texted me later that she had found a huge bag of mushrooms today.  Of course it reminded me of something I’d eaten and so I sent her a recipe I love–portobello mushroom lasagna.  It is so, so good!  I can’t say my whole family was crazy about it because they aren’t all crazy about mushrooms.  But I am, and in case you are (except I’m thinking you’re not?), here’s a link to the recipe!  Ina Garten.  You’re welcome.  Although I do have to say that I used maybe 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg instead of a full teaspoon.  And I added more cheese–maybe 1/2 cup?  And I can’t promise they were portobello mushrooms either.  They were whatever I couldn’t pass up buying at the store (I am ashamed to admit that I don’t know what kind the ones are that come in the packages that go on super sale and I go mushroom crazy for a bit!  Do you know?).  Anyway, if you like mushrooms, you’ll like this!  If not, sorry.  I’ll send you a recipe for something you like.  Maybe Abe would like mushrooms since they aren’t green?  Or if you add enough cheese?

Welcome to the wonderful world of Neato!  It’s the best pet I’ve ever had.  I did like our Roomba, but it has given up the ghost and joined the choir invisible.

I can’t believe Abe has three months to go!  At LEAST?!  That’s nuts.  You might need to take on a second job to support his online shopping.  Ha ha!  One sure cure for cabin fever is to leave the cabin and come and see meeeeeee!  I will start stocking up on apple juice.

I happened to be in Walmart a few weeks ago with my nearly-four-year-old daughter, Vanessa. I can’t even recall why I didn’t have the other four children with me, but anyway, there we were. She was sitting in the cart and we walked in and noticed that what used to be a mini arcade had been turned into a portrait studio. Now, you may recall that my last experience with a portrait studio happened on my second son Paul’s birthday. I had taken to having my children’s pictures taken on the occasion of their respective birthdays. I had made an appointment in advance and the day before his birthday, I received a phone call confirming the appointment. The day of, the birthday boy was dressed and ready to go out. I quickly checked my email and a confirmation message had arrived early that morning. We headed out the door and when we arrived, the lights in the studio were off and there was a sign:

 

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NOT COOL.

 

You can imagine my delight when I realized I could restart my birthday tradition and have my nearly-four-year-old’s picture taken on her birthday the next week! I rushed over to make an appointment. The multi-color(ed?)-hair(ed?) girl at the register was friendly enough and as we talked, I decided that no, the school would be taking pictures soon and I would prefer to have all the portraits on my piano match. But! I COULD have the children take a picture together! The five little darlings! My heart was a-flutter as I pictured a massive portrait of my sweet earth angels hanging above the mantle where all could see. The girl at the register needed all their names and respective birthdays. As she typed, I noticed a beautifully scripted tattoo on her arm. It should’ve raised a red flag when I realized what it said: Disaster.

I chirped each of the children’s names and birthdates. At the bottom of the digital form she was filling out, there was one last question. “Your relationship to these kids…grandmother, I’m guessing?”

 

 

I laughed. It might have been a little more like a “Ha!” blast than a laugh. The girl gasped, her eyebrows shot up and eyes widened. Vanessa crinkled her nose and shook her head (and probably also rolled her eyes—she’s famous for that). The girl started gesturing heavily while she stuttered out an apology. All was made well again and I wondered whether I should detour my planned shopping route and swing on by the night cream aisle. She told me she’d get an appointment card and quickly scribbled out the date and time on a post-it note. She handed the very formal appointment card to me, and we were on our merry way.

I’m going to have to pause this story because it’s late. But not before I share one more thing from that evening.

Not twenty minutes after I had been asked if I was my children’s grandma, I ran into a dear friend. It is Walmart, after all! We chatted and her son swung around from behind her and said, “Hi!” I greeted him and he put his hand right on my belly and asked, “When are you ever going to have this baby?” His mom turned red and shushed him as I laughed and said that I wasn’t expecting a baby any time soon, but that I should probably cut back on the baked goods!

Pregnant grandma. It was a gold star day!

Love,

Grace