Monday, March 9, 2015

True Stories


For me, the best stories always make you ask yourself, "What in the world?" 

My Monday memory is short, but it always makes me smile when I recall the day I heard it for the first time. I'm a little twisted like that. 

First, a little back-story: 

My great grandmother and I were very close and I was blessed with her presence till 1984. Though she lived 160 miles away, we saw each other pretty often.

I graduated in 1977 and at eighteen, I proudly moved into my own apartment. One of the first things I did was to call her on my very own phone - there's a limited number of people in the world who will be impressed that you are calling from your own phone; your grandma is one of them. Especially when you can brag about your fancy beige princess phone rental. Wild, huh? 

If you're still following this story without question, you are definitely over forty -five years old; you've been outed, geezer pal.

From that point on, I never went more than a week between calls to grandma. Sometimes I had to keep 'em short with my young person budget - this was back in the days of long distance charges and we're pretty verbose in my family. If I didn't call her, she would call me.

We fell into a pattern of favorite topics that included, but were not limited to, family, animals, recipes, the last crazy thing __________(fill in the name of any family member) did, and birds. 

As long as I can remember, my great grandma loved birds. She had a pump house behind her home and she'd throw birdseed on the roof and watch them enjoy their feast. Cardinals were abundant on her property and an impressive number would show up. I'd get the head count. Hummingbirds clustered around her bright red bees balm plants and she'd supply a play by play description of their antics. It was the next best thing to being there.

On one cold December day, I called her to say happy birthday. Immediately, she squealed with delight and reported, "You'll never guess what I saw yesterday when I went to feed the chickens - the first one I ever saw up close in my whole life!"

Let me tell you, her whole life was pretty long at that time, so I figured it had to be something good. Mirroring her excitement, I asked what she had seen.

"A snowy owl!" she said.

As far as I was concerned, that was a big bird deal. I'd never seen one in the wild and I was a bit envious, one bird lover to another. She launched into a description of the bird: it was rather large with an amazing wingspan; she guessed it was a yard or more long. The white of its feathers made it practically disappear with the backdrop of snow and it was dotted with several small black dots along the tips of its wings. 

"Wow, grandma, that is so cool! I wish I had seen it, too!" (I really did!)

"There's only one thing I'm wondering about," grandma said pensively. 

"What's that, grandma?"

With total seriousness, she replied, "I wonder what ate the other side of its head."

It never occurred to me that the thing was dead. She had seen it lying on the ground. After that, every time she would start to tell me about a bird or an animal, I'd ask whether or not the critter was alive. For me, that really sets the stage.

You can't make this stuff up.

[After the snow departed this week, flocks of robins appeared in my yard. I've never seen so many robins - and they stayed for so long, evenly spaced across the yard! Oh, how I wanted just one more phone call...]



28 comments:

  1. "fancy beige princess phone rental"
    Or as I call them, REAL telephones. Made by Western electric. Made to last 40 years. Many lasted a lot longer. Some are still going.

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    1. Hey, no one PURCHASED a phone back then and I can remember when everyone was so excited that you could get colors. Grandma's was always a plain black rotary phone till just before she passed away. My uncle gave her a phone that looked like it would be more at home at the palace of Versailles. It was so out of place in her simple house that it was funny (she thought so, too).

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  2. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    Yesterday Mrs. Shady told me that, had he lived, her dad would have celebrated his 100th birthday. She and her dad were close. He owned a popular restaurant in Baltimore and taught her a lot of what she knows today about cooking and presentation. She misses him. Mrs. Shady also tells me how much she wishes her mother and sister were still alive. Those two female family members were the two people Mrs. S called first when she had family news to share. They would often talk on the phone an hour or more. I suppose I'm a typical guy because talking on the telephone is one of my least favorite activities, but one those occasions when I called home from college and from other places I lived in Pennsylvania and Florida after graduation, I always knew that my dad would want to discuss birds and animals. A love of nature and its wild inhabitants was one of the things my dad and I had in common. Dad brought me up to date on the deluxe bird house he built for purple martin swallows and grumbled that most of the tenants were common sparrows. He told me about sightings of owls hawks, eagles and deer on his many bike rides along the Susquehanna Trail and the first robins of spring when the snow melted on his property there in York. I'm happy to know that winter appears to be losing its grip and that your spirits are buoyed by the sight of those red breasted harbingers of spring.

    Happy Monday, dear friend Cherdo!

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    1. I'm glad to see the weather change; I may have developed full-fledged seasonal affective disorder...the dreary days and being stuck in the house were a drag. I'm ready to move in to that magical time period where everyone complains that this part of the country is the worst for seasonal allergies.

      Maybe Mrs. S's dad owned my favorite restaurant on Tremont Street...wouldn't that be a weird coincidence? Did his restaurant make an awesome stuffed scrod?

      Oddly, I just realized that the inside of the house seems colder than it is outside...there are downsides to living in a big stone house. It works in your favor in the summer, though. I'm off to check the thermostat!

      Have a great day, Shady-brother.

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    2. Favorite Young Man loved living in Baltimore. He still misses it after almost ten years in Jacksonville.

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    3. When I was in Washington, we'd make up reasons to go to Baltimore for lunch.

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  3. lol animals are fun to discuss but dead ones you`ve seen out and about, not so much.

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    1. ...and we discussed it a bit before that little tidbit was revealed. Lol.

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  4. Poor snowy owl I hope h had a good life! My Maw-Maw like her cell phone

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    1. Yes, I hope so, too (I think his final outing involved a hawk or an eagle, though). Have a good day, tart-lette.

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  5. Happy Monday, Cherdo, and I have to admit that I do remember the beige princess phone. At least there was some color rather than the awful black. A funny story about a phone...my mom stopped once at a farm house of a neighbor, as she was having car trouble, and needed to call my dad for assistance. When she reached for the phone, it was so dirty, that she wasn't sure whether to take off her gloves or leave them on to dial. I'm sure you miss your gram, especially sharing your love of birds, etc. Have a good day!

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    1. Oh, Linda, I'd be thinking the exact same thing.

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  6. Oh my...that is funny and I can hear that conversation...my mom was great at saying things like that. She would tell me of the rabbits and goats they had while she was young and they named them.....and then ate them! She looked at me dumbfounded when i told her you don't name an animal that will be on your dinner plate. My hubby saw a snowy Owl just glide right in front of his car at a stop sign. They are so beautiful. Love the birds...we have been feeding the birds and they are enjoying all the seeds...so are the squirrels

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    1. I have a rule at my house: never eat anything with a name. If we have any farm animals, I hurry up and name them. My neighbor had some cattle on her property for the purpose of "fattening them up" before they became dinner. The guy who cuts hay for us raises cattle and just needed a place to graze them. Hubzam warned me not to talk to them or name them. I compromised and referred to them by color...here spotty, blackie, brownie, white face, dirty legs...

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  7. That was quite a little twist there at the end, CHERDO.

    Just think how excited she would have been if the owl was still breathing!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Amen, brother. I wish you could have seen the look on my face when she added that special detail.

      Are you more north than when I last heard from you?

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    2. No, I'm in exactly in the same house, in the same room, in the same chair. The move starts on Wednesday. I'll probably be in the same condition that owl was in by the time it's over.

      ~ D-FensDogg

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  8. I graduated in 1977. I never had a princess phone of any color. And the snowy owl was dead? Bleagh. I started watching a movie on Netflix this weekend and had to stop because it grossed me out. I am not easily disturbed, but an old fashioned autopsy performed with bare hands disgusted me.

    Love,
    Janie, who still wants a princess phone

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    1. I'm telling ya, class of '77 rules the world.

      If you want a princess phone, you should have one - but in a bright, cheery color. And a crown...don't forget about that. No one should doubt you're a princess, m'lady.

      I've developed a five minute rule about movies. If you can't get me interested in five minutes, I'm turning it off. For books, they get a whole chapter...I used to read them regardless.

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    2. Maybe my phone can be a pink crown. Why bother with a princess phone at this point in my life?

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  9. Ahhh! The twist at the end. If only it was still breathing.

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    1. ...if only...also, it would have been the place the story STARTED for me, ha ha.

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  10. How cool Great-Grandma was, huh?

    I'll bet there were a few things you learned to ask first!

    Best I can do is when I was a kid and my Grandma Girardot was staying with us. We went out for an early morning walk one day when the cat came running up from... somewhere... and dropped a 13-lined ground squirrel at Granma's feet- and left. She called out after him, "What do I want the darn thing for?"

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    1. Ha ha ha...that's funny. My ex-MIL had "coon dogs" and she'd say she loved to see them hunt. While visiting her one afternoon, she called my little boys out to show them something. A mother groundhog was crossing the yard with babies and she wanted the boys to see the dogs go after them...IN WHAT WORLD IS THIS A THREE & FIVE YEAR-OLD'S AFTERNOON ACTIVITY??

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  11. It was dead? How tragic. Yeah, I would've asked up front if it was dead or alive from that point.
    And I guess I've just been outed...

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    1. Bam...Alex is out. Feels better, doesn't it? Breath in the geezer wind with me...in...out...in...out...

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  12. Oh dear, that reveal caused quite a shock for me. I think I have to lie down a sec...

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    1. Do that. Feet above the heart, even in Australia. (LOL)

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo