Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ora Newman

We go on a stroll almost every evening, usually to the creek that runs about 3 blocks south of our house. But tonight, I felt the itch to go somewhere different. Instead of going south, we went north, turning on a side-street that we've rarely walked on. And lo-and-behold, what a serendipitous decision it was!

We met Ora Newman. She was standing on the sidewalk in front of her house, poking at some weeds with her cane.

"Hello," I said, "Isn't is a lovely evening?"

"Isn't it though?" she replied, "It is such a beautiful night!"

It was cool, the breeze was blowing, and there wasn't a cloud in sight.

Ora (which is also the name of one of Squeeze's paternal Great-Grandmothers) is a small black woman in her mid-late 80's; she uses a cane to get around, hobbles a bit, and wears spectacles so thick they look like magnifying glasses. When she saw that we had a baby in the stroller, she immediately started squawking and crooning, calling him, "Sugar Boy" or "Mother's Love", and asking him how he was enjoying his walk. He smiled at first, but then stared at her wide-eyed until breaking down into intermittent tears.

We talked outside for awhile; we learned that she had lived in her home for 50+ years, her husband, Oscar, had 'passed' 12 years prior, and that they were some of the first black people to move into the neighborhood. She wanted to give Starbeans some mints, something - anything. Then she invited us in, saying "I've got to get this boy something! Ooooo - Mother's Love."

I love Grandmas. In fact, I love anyone's Grandma.

Her home was exquisitely kept and decorated. The carpet, walls, blinds, and drapes were all a light blue. Her home was decorated in 50's style - amazing boxey furniture with gold fabric woven in, lovely sculpture, curved ceilings, and wall-paper in the dining room that could make your mother cry. So ornate, it was shimmery with felted designs that added texture and made me want to touch it. She also had bowls of mints and candies everywhere.

We talked for awhile, and learned that her husband's father, Cecil Newman, had started the first black newspaper in Minneapolis - The Spokesman. She also said that while they were looking at houses in our neighborhood, they were told courteously, "We're sorry - we don't sell to blacks" (by the realtors). It is hard for me to even fathom this concept. However, they had decided on the neighborhood. They liked it, got in contact with a lawyer, and moved in; she said that the neighbors have always been extremely friendly and in the 50+ years that she has lived there, not one thing has ever been stolen from their yard or home. She had a dog for many years that she named, "Joipan". In fact, her neighbor named his dog, "Joi" in honor of her dog and she says that she takes care of him while the neighbor is out of town.

The conversation was punctuated with "Sugar Boy wants some pop - look how hard he is working on that can! He really needs some pop. Com'on now, go on in the kitchen and get a small cup. Oh go on - give him some pop!"

We had to leave before we wanted to, as Squeeze needed to head to bed. (He gets up at 2:30 a.m. with his new job - can we say yikes?) As we were leaving, she said, "Com'on back now, and visit me, Sugar Boy - I mean it!"

We exchanged goodbyes, and while we were parting, she said something very meaningful to me: "You never know who you're gonna meet, or what new friends you'll make!"

All because we took a little detour on our nightly walk.

We will definitely be visiting Ora Newman again: without a doubt.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Whole Bean

A few years ago, Squeeze and I were at a thrift store near my parent's house with two of my siblings, Seahorse and Squig. The thrift store is owned and operated by a retirement community; the cashiers are resident volunteers.

Sifting through things, Squeeze found an impeccable copy of Mr. Bean - The Whole Bean (The Complete Set). PBS had whetted our appetite for more Mr. Bean, so we put it in the basket with our other treasures for purchase.

It wasn't marked, nor were DVDs listed in the price sheet on the wall, so when we took it to the counter, we asked the woman how much it would cost.

"What is it?" she asked.

"It is a DVD," I said, "it was over with the books and videos."

"A DVD...okay," she said quizzically "errr - what is that?"

"It plays movies, like a VHS tape - but it is a disc, like a CD."

She still seemed confused.

"It was over by the tapes and CDs," I finished lamely.


I waited.

" dollar."

SCORE!! I hated to celebrate pulling one over on an old lady, but shoot - we didn't do it on purpose. I did my darndest to try and explain to her what it was; it isn't my fault that she didn't have any idea of 1) what it was, or 2) its true value.

I paid my dollar; then Squeeze, Squig, Seahorse and I went out to the car, guffawed, and re-played the interaction like an old record. What a great way to get a Mr. Bean DVD, of all things. He's such a jackass, isn't he?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A smidge of nostalgia

Bear with me, please: I'm feeling a bit nostalgic for my sleepy little newborn. How did that happen so fast??

2 weeks

10 months

Monday, June 19, 2006

Laughter, the best pain-killer

Today, Starbeans was biting me mercilessly.

While nursing.

But the thing about it was - it was so funny! Even though it hurt, I could barely say no biting in a stern voice - let alone without laughter. I kept on turning my face to the side, so he wouldn't think he was being entertaining and feel encouraged to keep up his act. I could - not - stop - snickering.

It was something about his general aura, or the face he was making - chomping on me with his 4 little teeth, so contentedly. He had been nursing lazily, upset when I would take him away, but not really hungry either.

It must have sounded so bizarre to Squeeze, who was in the kitchen. I was chortling and snorting and trying to say no biting - like I had just heard an irresistibly funny joke - while a little sharp-toothed beast was gnawing on my breast.

Bizarre though it was, it makes me smile just thinking about it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Busy, like a bee

Errrr, I've been busy.

Our flight arrived in Minneapolis at the bleary hour of 5:33 am on Wednesday morning. We spent most of the day in bed, catching up on sleep. Thursday and Friday, I worked; Friday, Squeeze's parents were here and spent the night; Saturday, we went to a family party at his sister's house. Starbeans got to play with all of his cousins. The almost-2 year old was very interested in him; he kept on pointing at him and signing "baby". They are going to be great pals!

We spent today getting ready for Squeeze's new job. He'll be working 3 am to 7 am, five days a week. The hours are horrific, but each of us working part-time equals one full-time income. It will be good. We are hoping for a smooth transition, especially for poor Squeeze. He is getting up at 2:00 am tomorrow morning. Yes, that is 3 hours from now. As the Minnesotan Swedes say, "Uff-da!"

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Has anyone missed me?

I've been at my parents' house for the last week. My sister graduated from high school and my brother graduated from college; it has been a busy time, filled with parties and seeing family and old friends.

A few stories:

  • My Great-Aunt Alice tried to feed Starbeans a spoonful of frosting from the graduation cake. It was like a scene out of a movie: her giant hand moving towards his face in slow motion - Starbeans gleefully opening his mouth to it like a little bird - and me, shrieking and holding him back from it like it was a poison death-draught. Literally. Shrieking. She said, "Oh, he doesn't eat frosting?" and I said, "He's never had sugar in his whole life!" She said, "Oh," and withdrew the demon spoon.
  • I swear there is a graduate from Western Washington University named, "Invisible Swanson Johnson". I swear it. My sister heard Melissa, but I'm sticking with Invisible.
  • Starbeans has learned to bite; I now say, "No biting" several times a day. He responds with a complaining whine: he definitely knows what NO means.
  • My mom's horse, Smokey, rubbed the hair and skin off his hind-end scratching himself on a tree. She's treating him with anti-bacterial soap and Bag Balm. Poor thing.
  • All of my siblings, as well as my parents, grandparents, and aunts were nutso about his Royal Sweetness - that is, Starbeans. He enjoyed their affectionate attention (I did too).
  • I ate 4-5 avocados during the visit. My mom stocked up for my brother Brent to make guacamole, but guess who got to them first? Whoopsie.

Monday, June 05, 2006

It's that POOP again!

For those of you who are big fans of Starbeans (and I know you are), you will be impressed to know that he pooped on the bowl again. The peeing has been hit and miss recently, which discourages me, but the big pooper this morning raised my spirits a bit.

He usually pees right after the poop - however, this morning, I had to take him off the bowl before he could squeeze out even a drop of pee, because he wanted to play in it. Not good.

Some stats about my beloved little squirt:

  • He is 10 months old
  • He has tasted 7 things - carrots, banana, oatmeal, avocado, bread, grapes, and watermelon. Oh - and cat hair.
  • He has 3.5 teeth
  • He has pooped on the bowl 3 times now
  • He has recovered from 1 black eye (poor thing - he conked his head on a window sill)
  • He has attempted to ingest cat hair 135 times

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Lovely Lupine

We've thought the white lupine looks so lovely next to the dwarf blue spruce in our backyard. The colors and texture mixed together is quite dramatic.

I've loved lupines since I read the wonderful book by Barbara Cooney - Miss Rumphius. Her illustrations are so comforting to my eyes and mind (the story is interesting too).

Lupines grow wild like that, in large clusters, along the roads above Lake Superior; north of Duluth.

Quite, quite lovely.