New growth. Old redwood.

By Anita Garner

Christmas Amaryllis, 2012

Years ago, after the holiday decorations were put away, I planted this Christmas gift and here’s what I posted that day.

“This Amaryllis took up a spot on my harvest table over by the kitchen window where it appears to be content.  This seems significant somehow.”

Today I planted my new Amaryllis.

Christmas Amaryllis 2020

New bulb.  Same old dearly beloved redwood table. In the first picture, the table was in the kitchen.  The red pot this year is on the same table, which is now my office desk.  Everything old and familiar seems friendlier and comforting these days.

The table was made by a carpenter in Bolinas, CA who collected old, fallen redwood and aged it. If you knew a friend of a friend of his in Marin County, sometimes he could be persuaded to turn the redwood into something  you requested.  First you indicated what you’d like.  He would decide if it was something he wanted to make.  Then you waited while he traveled, chasing waves up and down the coast, until he returned to wherever he parked his van.  After a while, a price quote came through the grapevine. Then you waited again until he felt the wood was right and until he was in a woodworking mood.

Months later, a friend of a friend delivered a rustic and slightly smoothed, beautiful hunk of history.  New winter bulbs thrive in proximity to this old growth.

******

 

 

 

Looking forward to it is my favorite part.

By Anita Garner

I like Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day and Thursday night better than Friday (a holdover from when we used to work a five-day week.) I like the days spent making packing lists for a trip (remember when we used to travel?) and watching for the delivery truck to arrive, even when it’s something I’ve ordered for myself.

I cling to anticipation. It’s the only thing I get to decide and even that is iffy these days.  The days/weeks/months leading to any event are my favorite part and when Christmas has come and gone, it’s not the presents I’ll miss.   I’ll miss waiting for it to arrive.

Some people are superstitious about expressing a desire for something, fearing they might jinx it, but even when we try not to, of course we have expectations and with them come the possibility for disappointment.  It’s a chance I’ll take. Having no expectations would feel like  giving up, not something I’m willing to do.  If optimism is only for children who still believe, then put me down for that.

Before bedtime every night (shall I add “during these unprecedented times?”) I try to find the next thing to look forward to.  It might be as big as completing a project or as small as taking the first step to start a new one, or looking forward to tomorrow morning’s coffee.

Here I sit surrounded by gift-wrapped packages and lights and provisions for wonderful meals and my thought is, now I only have a few more days to spend in anticipation.  I’ll snap out of it as soon as I come up with the next thing to look forward to.

******

Defending Fruitcake

By Anita Garner

Every year about this time I have to come over here and defend fruitcakes.  If I didn’t, some of y’all would be using them to build tiny houses.  They’re heavy, yes but sturdiness is part of the charm. A chunk of fruitcake should offer some resistance when you pick it up.  A stomach should know it’s had some fruitcake. What’s the point if it looks and tastes like other cakes? I like the loaf shapes, heavy as bricks.

I like the ones in a circle with chunks of candied fruit protruding. I like them all.  I tried to make fruitcake at home a couple of times. Mine didn’t have the heft and the mysterious bits of things like the ones you can order. I don’t even know what all those chunks are.  Don’t care.  Old or new, a fruitcake looks and tastes the same after weeks. Somehow words make this sound like a bad thing, but my mouth waters and I’m about to begin my once a year fruitcake sampling festival.

My family has ordered from Collin Street Bakery in Texas, Sunnyland Farms in Georgia, Harry & David in Oregon and Vermont Country Store.  Sunnyland Farms added gluten free, light or dark cake, heavy on the pecans if you choose. All these fruitcakes are colorful and weighty and loyal.  They’ll stick by you for a long, long time.

******

Magic Wand

By Anita Garner

Dave Williams and I started this blog when we were both new grandparents.  Mine called me “Hammy” and his called him “Bompah.”  Occasionally I go back to read posts about our grandbabies.  Caedan Ray, the little girl in the picture above, has turned into a sixteen year old. Her latest birthday wish was granted and her hair is short and bright red.

If you visit here often you know I have one daughter and one grandchild.   When the Grand came along in 2004 I commuted between Mill Valley, CA, where I lived, to Woodland Hills, CA, where they lived and we made the most of every visit.

This story below was from this green velvet dress/cool black boots and princess hair period,  when all kinds of magic was in the air and anything could happen.

******

My Grand is disappointed with my wishes. She urges me to rethink them. She approaches with her magic wand. She isn’t tired of making that whooshing, wish-granting sound.  She keeps asking and I keep making wishes.  During these repeat performances, it’s hard to keep thinking of new things to want, a nice statement perhaps on how the presence of this child fills up so many places in a heart.

She complains that I haven’t been wishing for really important things, so I choose a wish I know will impress.  “Cake.”  That one brings a big smile. She waves the wand and whooshes. “Yes!  Cake!”  Then I name every toy I’ve heard her speak about.  “You want that?   Me too!”

Every time we go to Target she cruises the $1.00 bins and convinces me there’s something she needs.  We go to Target a lot when we’re together, sometimes just to pick up some of their great popcorn.  She checks the selection of magic wands.  I say, “Let’s get the things on our list first, then we’ll talk about wands.”  Up and down the aisles she keeps up  her sales pitch about why she really needs a new wand, chatting about the many things it can do to improve our future.  I say, “You already have a wand.”  Her response is yes, she has two but her favorite magic wand, the best one,  is broken.

A dollar plus tax and on the way out of Target she’s waving a new wand,  asking me and everyone she encounters to make a wish.  Just close your eyes, she says, and she whooshes.  The new wand goes everywhere.  It goes with her to Charlotte’s house, where the two of them spend time transforming each other.

A bit weary of the wishing, I warn her, this time I have a long list.  That’s okay, she assures me, she can make all of them come true.  I say,

“I wish to be smarter

And healthy

And kinder

And beautiful

And richer”

Then I close my eyes and tell her to go ahead.

She doesn’t whoosh.  She’s concerned.

“But don’t you want to be a princess?”

“I guess so.”

Her face is sad so I concede.

“Okay then.  Go ahead. Wave your wand.  I’ll be a princess.”

******

I remain “Hammy” still, but as Caedan Ray got older and was concerned with being teased by her peers, when she introduced me, she corrected herself.

“This is Ham… this is my grandmother.

It’s actually “Princess Hambone” if you please. My status was elevated long ago when I received a tiara and a sash from my girls to prove it, but after all these years, at home I’m still “Ham.”

******