Monday, December 9, 2019


Tim and I went and picked up that chifferobe (thank you for the right word, Lori) yesterday. My cousin and I tried to remember how long it has been since we saw each other. Neither one of us could remember. It's been a tremendously long time. Tim never met her and we've been married for 20+ years. Before that, I lived in Michigan for 10 years. Before get the idea. It's been a looooooooong time.

When we were setting this all up, I asked her where she lived.

Long pause. "In Mom and Dad's old house."

I had no idea she was there, right within sight of MY parents' old place.

Tim drove the big truck up and I took in the familiar sights from the passenger seat.

We blabbed for a while. We've got a lot in common. Tim said, "Look at her stove." She has an antique gas stove in her kitchen.
Now don't laugh at me, but I've actually dragged Tim along to look at stoves of this nature. I want one something awful, but the ones I find have an oven that is too small. It has to be able to hold my turkey roaster. When I saw Spring's stove, I had immediate stove envy. She has an Eriez, and it is a big thing with an oven that is just the size I need. 

As I exclaimed over that stove, she sighed and said, "I just love old stuff, and there is absolutely nothing that can go wrong with this." I said, "Yes, that's exactly what Tim said," 

We loaded that chifferobe, and she showed me the old cast iron sink she found for her kitchen. I loved it and we talked about the house we're going to build and how we've been accumulating old things for it too.

We had an awful lot in common.

My family tree has a whole lot of broken branches. They are a hot tempered bunch, and someone was always mad at somebody. We'd go months without seeing this relative, or that. Sometimes years. Sadly it's not so different in my generation. I have never been to my parents' graves, as strange as that sounds. They are not buried on neutral land. I don't expect people to understand. I don't even try to explain it anymore. 

Driving back down off the hill, I thought it was ironic that I wanted that chifferobe as soon as I laid eyes on it. It was really a powerful nostalgic wanting, a desire to capture something that is no more, I suppose. 

Last night, I was talking to my sister. 

I told her about that wiehnachtspyramide I found. I told her that I had no earthly idea why I wanted it, but as soon as I saw it....

And she said, "Oh, I LOVE those! Do you remember that Bea had one? Remember we'd get invited to their house when they were all decorated for Christmas, and there was so much to look at, the sleigh bells and the tree and the garland and the pyramid?" 

I remember those invitations. Bea and Gordie were our godparents and they decorated for every holiday, richly, lavishly. We'd never seen anything like it and it was a treat to be invited to dinner. We feasted our eyes AND our stomachs. 

I didn't recognize the pyramid, at least not consciously, but I understand now why I wanted it so very badly. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019


Yesterday, while we were at the animal shelter thrift shop, I laid eyes on this:
It was an exciting find for me. I've always wanted one. William had never seen one before and was intrigued. I couldn't remember the German name for them: Weihnachtspyramide. Truth be told, I still can't. It's probably 30 inches tall. I checked the price tag. At $9.99, it was an affordable extravagance, so....

I bought it. 

At home, I moved the stuff from the glass topped steamer trunk, and set up the pyramid. The candle holders seemed untrustworthy to me, so I'd bought 6 votive candles in glass cups, removed the candle holders (they just slide off) and set the 6 candles around it at the base. 

It works a treat. William was mesmerized, getting his Leap Frog to make a video of it. Later that night, I caught Tim sitting on the couch, with his chin in his hand watching it. "I never saw anything like this before, he said. "This is cool."

The Real Santa Claus

As Christmas approaches, William begins to talk about Santa. He believes, he assures us. He heard Santa. He heard the reindeer on the roof. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Now William and I have had an ongoing discussion about the difference between imagination and lying. My explanation is that when you know that what you're saying is not true but you're trying to convince everyone around you that it IS the truth, well, you've crossed over from imagining to lying. That is a problem.

The other thing is that when you're nearly 9, talking like that at school can get you labeled as a baby, and he hates to be teased.

So I fell back on an old tried and true technique.

I explained to him that Santa WAS real but the magic of it is that we're all Santa, every one single one of us, and that he was old enough to be Santa too.

So he got a wallet with a fair amount of cash in it, which made his eyes bug out. The only rule was that every penny of that money needed to be spent on someone else. So he made his little list of who he had to buy for: Mom, Don, Grandpa Brian and Grandma Barb, Grandpa, Uncle Dylan, Aunt Brittani, Iris, his teacher.

Saturday morning, Grandpa went hunting. William and I headed off.

First up was getting him a hair cut.

Then we went to the local animal shelter's thrift shop. They get some very high end stuff in there. He immediately found a crystal perfumer for his mother. It really was beautiful. It was also only $1.99. He found a nurse ornament for his aunt, and a wooden airplane ornament with a propeller that spun. He found something for his other grandparents too. He checked out on his own.

He wanted to go to Ollie's next, because there was a book that he'd seen Don looking at. We found it in short order. He also noticed a book about Camaros for his Grandfather. He also wanted to buy his mother a candle and took some time finding just the right scent. He sorted through the wrapping paper until he found exactly the perfect paper. He found a new bath toy for Iris. Everyone got chocolate covered cherries. At the check out counter, when everything came to thirty something dollars, he got a little upset. "I have to give him both my twenties?" When I told him yes, he said, "but that's ALL my twenties!" and the big bearded cashier said, "Welcome to adulting, kiddo."

He got his change back and still had nearly $10 to spend. He headed to the Dollar Tree to buy a notebook for his teacher that had cats on it. She likes cats. He also bought Christmas pencils and erasers for the kids in his classroom. Clutching his packages to his chest, he stood in front of a display of Santa hats. He said, "I would like a hat to wear while I'm giving everyone their presents." I agreed that every Santa needed a Santa hat.

He had a very large handful of change left which went into the nearest red kettle. He sat in the back seat with his bags of gifts. As we headed to lunch, I'd catch a glimpse of him in his red hat in the back seat, staring off happily with a big smile on his face.

When we got home, we wrapped his mother's and Don's gifts first. He chattered away at how he would wait until the two of them were not in the room and then he'd sneak their presents under the tree. He was afraid that they'd recognize his hand writing and so I was the one who had to write on the gift tags. They were all from "Secret Santa". He had his little story about what he was going to tell them when they noticed the pile of gifts under the tree. "I heard something. It sounded like Santa, but when I rushed into the living room, no one was there, but there were presents under the tree!" We had just finished wrapping when the  phone rang to tell us that they were on their way from work.

William was in quite a tizzy then. However was he going to get them home without him seeing? I lent him my big canvas bag with the zipper. We got everything tucked inside and the zipper zipped. We scooted all the unwrapped gifts and the wrapping debris away at about the same moment that his mother and Don walked in the door.

He stood there in his little Santa hat clutching his canvas bag waiting to go. And being a talker, he said, "We didn't go Christmas shopping today. I know we said that we were going to do that, but we didn't. We changed our minds. But I found some stuff upstairs that I wanted to bring home, so grandma let me borrow her bag. But I'm just borrowing it. And don't look in here. You can't look in here, but it's not presents."

He was still chattering away as they headed down the driveway.

He must have said it a dozen times over the course of the day: "This is going to be the best Christmas ever!"

It certainly seems like it from this Grandma's perspective. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

In a surprising development, this morning I went to work for a 9 hour shift, only to discover that we ran out of work by noon.

Not a good sign.

Anyway, I opted to leave. It's been a long week. 50 hours of it was plenty for me, thanks.

Driving home, I made up my mind to run to the grocery store and pick up some green peppers. It was a cold, wet, and windy day, and Tim was outside chasing the elusive white tail. I figured a nice pot of stuffed pepper soup would be just the thing to warm him up when he got home.

I was in the produce section when a woman said, "I have to ask you, are you Debby that wrote for the paper?"

I said that I was, and braced myself. The conversation could go either way.

She said excitedly, "I miss you, and I have to know! What has happened to Cara? I hated that I would never know what happened to Cara!" She was so excited that it made me laugh.

So I explained that Cara and Colin live in Tlibisi, Georgia now with Mack the Afghan street cat, that the cat has seen more countries than most people, his adventures in Italy, etc. She listened raptly.

In the end, she reached for my hand. She was so thrilled to hear the rest of the story.

I haven't had my column for almost a year and a half, but people still recognize me. It is touching.

Friday, December 6, 2019


I have been reading a book. It's from 1959, Mr. Bridge. I've been engrossed in it. I read in bed for a half hour or so, but this was so good, for three days, I took it to work, to read at breaks and lunch.

While we were waiting for morning meeting, a co-worker, actually someone I went to school with a hundred years ago, asked me what I was reading. I showed her. She said, "Gosh. I couldn't tell you the last time I read a book."

Me: *speechless*

She laughed. "I'm not joking. I used to try to read when I took my daughter to the pool, just to be doing something, but I just never was interested enough to read a book all the way through. I don't even try anymore."

I tried to imagine, couldn't, gave up.

"Do you read every day?"

"Yes," I said.

Quite honestly, this is my fourth book in a week and a half, although to be fair, I should say that one of them was a light-weight read (because it is easy to pick up and put down at work). One of your basic 'struggling London single mother goes to Scotland to become a nanny for a laird'.

(And yes. They got married and lived happily ever after.)