Posts Tagged ‘imagination’

My grandchildren are fabulous and funny. (Erica Jong)

Nine-year-old Rebe (Rebecca) announces that it is time to play. Her tone suggests Grandma hasn’t been feeling well and needs more entertainment and less work. At the same time, she is here to entertain and be entertained. It’s the nature of the grandparent/grandchild relationship.

Imagination explodes through these small rooms as Rebe and thirteen-year-old Kate feed off one idea after another.

“I’m getting married,” Rebe announces.

She’s marrying a famous film star Kate suggests. However, Rebe constantly calls him by the wrong name, Ansel.

“You’re marrying someone, and don’t know his name?” I ask.

“That’s okay. I’ll just call him sweetie.”

She leaves the room to hunt for bridal gowns—at a local dollar outlet.

On the offbeat wedding day with the famous-actor-without-an-identity groom. Kate and Rebe design the veil: a shawl, held securely on her head with a pair of antediluvian white cotton underwear.

Then, seconds after Rebe removes the bridal dress, one of my white t-shirts, she is ready to deliver her first child. Or rather fifteen babies.

I don’t have anywhere near that many dolls and stuffed animals. Our fertile mama’s hyperbole delivery lowers to ten infants. Kate improvises the last child. She designs a creature from some of my summer clothes, and a pillow, held together with an Ace wrap and stretch band, with a toy Dora, the Explorer backpack head.

My grandchildren’s ingenuity can’t stay wrapped around pillows and scattered across the floor as make-believe infants forever. However, I celebrate this moment and cough through laughs.

No life is perfect. Illness, as well as problems both personal and world-wide, interfere and must be faced. Yet, beauty is not dead. I see it in two pair of bright eyes and hear it in two young voices.

I can echo Erica Jong: my grandchildren are mighty fabulous and funny, too. And I am grateful.




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Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy. (Jacques Maritain)

I have attended fairs as a vendor, an author selling The Curse Under the Freckles, the first book in my soon-to-be-released series, The Star League Chronicles. The second book, Stinky, Rotten Threats, will be released soon.

However, I have never tried signing with a broken hand. The swelling is down enough to allow thumb and index finger to meet. I am at a health fair sponsored by a local senior center.

As I wish magic for a reader, it feels akin to a spell because each letter of every word can be read. My signature hasn’t been repeated often enough to reach celebrity status, spasmodic lines that mimic the measurement of earthquake tremors.

Blessings, however, seem to abound.

My table is in an ideal spot—one of the first seen, but it is isolated from the crowd.

My friend, G., gets a fresh cup of coffee for me. Then, later, she watches my table so I can get a sandwich. She collects samples from the booths, and then lets me browse a little as well.

The frozen gel pack I brought for my aching hand has warmed. A YMCA director replaces it with a bag of ice. The director of the senior program at the Y is especially helpful.

I’m impressed by the number of volunteers who pass by. Good, generous, people.

Broken places throb. In my hand, in life. It’s the nature of a broken place. Even in my middle-grade fiction, I don’t avoid the shattered. I suspect the contrast of darkness and light makes the beauty of kindness more striking. Perhaps even exquisite. Thanks to all the givers in the world.



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Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. (Carl Sagan)

I laugh at my middle granddaughter Rebecca’s antics long after she leaves with Daddy. She loves to play with an old pair of crutches that are too big for a nine-year-old girl. Each time she has a different pretend reason why she needs them.

Today’s reason: “I have boneless disease.”

She relays the surgical procedure, including plastic-skull placement with an occasional ouch; then she rises from a chair and reaches for the crutches. The OR is our backyard. She claims that all she needs to sustain her now, besides the beloved crutches, is a house filled with medicine. She pretends to swallow the first roomful.

I smile on the outside and chuckle internally.

“You raised my daddy. You raised my daddy,” she repeats the same line with a rising chuckle. Yet, I know she wants to be just like her father.

Rebe’s daddy, Gregory Petersen, is an author and a stand-up comic. Rebe’s wit is already sharp. Moreover, she has my complete attention, and she thrives on it.

When she is not in pretend-mode, Rebe is one-hundred percent honest. Two years ago, when I gave her a signed copy of The Curse Under the Freckles, a middle-grade fantasy, she took one look at it and asked where the pictures were. She knows I write, but she sees me as her ancient playmate.

Imagination doesn’t need to disappear with childhood. I happen to be a very old youngster.

By late spring, early summer, the sequel to my first book will appear—Stinky, Rotten, Threats. (No link yet. All is in progress.)

Chase Powers and his magic woods friends are attending summer school. Chase failed sixth grade—he studies both everyday fractions as well as how to use magical skills. His friends are self-motivated. They have natural smarts; they grew up with magic.

Of course, even school in a magical setting doesn’t follow the teacher’s plan. The adults in Chase’s family enter the woods for instruction, and Chase sees how much trouble newbies can be. Add interference from the evil Malefics… Then, Chase sees a change in the magical world he could never imagine even with the most potent tools.

Boneless disease never appears in my story. That fantasy belongs to my granddaughter.

Chase Powers is a fantasy character in a world that does not exist. However, his character thinks, feels, and acts like a twelve-year-old boy.  Anna, his friend, is a near-genius who has a knack for unintentionally getting under Chase’s skin, the way real people do sometimes.

Even so, something incredible is about to happen.  In the story, and in real life. Yes, a lot of bad news rolls off commentators’ tongues with the same tone of voice used to forecast a partly cloudy day. Ugliness is real.

However, so is beauty. A friend calls. A child draws a picture—just for Grandma, Mommy or the dog. Not all brightness comes from sun. Hope is like a seed, or a plot. You can’t tell how it will grow in the beginning.

I do hope you will bother to turn a page that promises a lead out of darkness. Of course, I would recommend my own work. However, if anyone has suggestions for inspirational titles, go for it. I am always glad to hear about a good, positive-minded book.

Peace, and may something incredible touch all.

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You can never spend enough time with children. (Dwayne Hickman)

Dakota sits in the Captain’s chair as he punches tickets for passengers. When he isn’t driving an imaginary boat, I use that seat to work at the computer. (However, when I write I don’t use the swivel function for steering.) Dakota is spending time with me and Jay because his mommy is working toward a degree. She is in class, and Dakota isn’t. He is recovering from an ear infection. With the same speed he does everything else, quickly.

“How much are the tickets?” I ask, knowing that as a crew member this question would be ludicrous. Uh, shouldn’t that be printed somewhere on a board with letters the size of the E on an eye chart? Dakota is in a fantasy world. I am investigating his play. For fun. Imagination adjusts the rules.

“Three dollars.”

That sounds reasonable. However, after a few more hole punches and the tiny centers create confetti on the rug, he hands me the next ticket. “Four dollars.”

From my point of view the cost difference is either for inflation or the cost of clean-up. Then he turns, eyes wide. “This one is twenty-three-hundred dollars.”

For the boat? “Wow! That seat must be really special.”

His eyes sparkle. I manage not to laugh out loud, and he nods. I place the ticket, representing the position of the paying passenger, next to his chair.

My little buddy is priceless.

I had other plans for today, nothing set in stone, only in intention—to finish more projects than possible. Instead, I received the opportunity to meet heart-to-heart with an almost six-year-old boy, a far richer time for my spirit.

Dakota takes a picture of me while I take one of him.


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The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved—loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. (Victor Hugo)

Ella has scarcely removed her coat when she runs to a shoe box full of small toys. A special Friday. A day off school. Time to play.

She grabs the plastic slide and the character, Diego. I know she will want Dora the Explorer next, so I reach for the figure closer to the same size. (We have several Doras in the box.) Ella chooses the slightly larger figure.

Size is not significant in the world of make-believe. I forget. Play is my granddaughter’s realm. She makes most of the choices here. She needs to yield to the adult world often enough. In make-believe, she has more experience.

We take turns leading the figures down the slide: on their bellies, head first, up the wrong way, and one friend giving the other a gentle nudge to move faster. Then Ella decides head first means vertical, with feet facing up. She laughs.

She is a child, but she lives in the real world, too. She is aware of the attitudes others have toward her whether she can verbally express what she knows or not. Talking about her struggles in her presence, is unfair. Even cruel.

Yes, Ella has Down syndrome. She needs to work harder in some areas. However, she has been reading for several years—sounding out words, not simply memorizing them. Ella has a sense of humor.

“Look!” she says. She turns Diego’s head around.

“Are you doing that again?” I say for Dora. Then I turn Dora’s head around. “But, you do it so much better, Diego.”

Ella howls with laughter.

I suggest placing the two figures on the back of a plush ladybug. “Let’s fly.” Our fantasy world continues.

That’s how I know I’ve been completely accepted into her imaginative space. I consider it a promotion.

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Every student needs someone who says, simply, “You mean something. You count.” (Tony Kushner)

I am in a familiar place and ready to exercise—at least to the degree I can right now. My muscles feel somewhat stretched, relaxed. Few people are here today. The weather probably has something to do with it. Mother Nature is having violent, adolescent mood swings. One moment hot, the next stormy, followed by cold.

Then I hear the ubiquitous political discussion begin. A woman responds with a rant about how the world is ready to self-destruct. Our streets aren’t safe. Neither presidential candidate has worth. We shouldn’t bother populating the world. Our children don’t have a chance…

I sigh and move away. But, even though I’m not wearing my hearing aids, her voice penetrates the air and everything else. An idea comes to me; I decide to pursue it. I introduce myself to the lady.

True,” I begin. “A lot of bad stuff is out there. But I know some great kids. And they have made at least a few corners of the world better.” I tell her about Kate and how the kids in her class who have autism come to her for encouragement. And friendship. I mention our youngest granddaughter, Ella, who has Down syndrome, but has brought many members of the family up, in one way or another. Only four persons noticed I had new glasses; Ella was one of them. She is both aware and loving.

The woman comes closer to me. Closer than our culture usually finds acceptable until we know someone well. Yet, it seems okay. Even more than okay. Because, she tells me about a member of her family who had Down syndrome and died in her sixties. That person was an important part of her life.

And I let her know how important she was as a caretaker. She agrees that her relative saw and understood more than people knew she did. I see a new glow in my comrade’s eyes. Her nearness no longer feels as if it is trespassing inside my personal space.

Somehow I doubt this woman sees life with any less cynicism. But, perhaps, just perhaps, a seed of possibility has been planted. She did some good making the world a better place for her relative; maybe there are young people today doing the same thing.  

Later I tell my granddaughter she helped someone without even being there. She smiles. True, a student is generally considered a young school-aged individual. But, Kate shows me new apps for my iPad. She creates a collage of photos from a family birthday party within seconds. “And these are all free.” Twelve-year-old Kate teaches seventy-year-old Grandma.

I don’t plan to give up student status for a long time. The teacher’s age doesn’t matter. The relationship does. And so does gratitude. you-matter-you-hear-me

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I had the epiphany that laughter was light, and light was laughter, and that this was the secret of the universe. (Donna Tartt )

Sure, Kate and I should use the food processor to crush the cookies to make the truffles. But rolling them between two sheets of waxed paper turns the task into a game. And that is the purpose of our day—to spend time doing something fun.

Besides all I have is a recipe held precariously in my head. A superb baker, who owns two ovens, told me how to make the delicacies. Last week. I’m counting on my fallible memory.

Kate and I laugh as some of the crumbs escape across the table top. At least the cookies came from the organic section of the grocery. The mess contains fewer unnatural ingredients.

The final results taste fantastic, but won’t make the cover of any food magazine. We don’t take the time to make each ball even. And we run out of melted chocolate.

“Are you going to blog about this?” Kate asks.

“Why not?” I answer. Some of life’s most beautiful moments happen during mundane, messy, silly, and this-isn’t-the-way-it’s-supposed-to-happen experiences. Cookies-smashed-into-cream-cheese-and-scraped-off-with-the-blunt-edge-of-a-knife fit into that category.

As we work I think about how privileged I was to take Kate with me to find last-minute holiday gifts. I tend to be a get-required-items-then-skedaddle shopper. Kate and I stopped to look, to see, to celebrate, to talk over hot chocolate while Grandpa and Kate’s little sister, Rebe, had the chance to swim at the YMCA.

Kate wanted to help Grandma catch up. I feel honored.

The sink looks like it has taken over for a commercial chain of restaurants. Kate and I also made pumpkin bread. The stainless steel appears to be bleeding, in orange.

Then when Rebe comes back with Grandpa she decides she wants to bake, too. She doesn’t want to be left out. I agree only if she takes some of the finished products home with her. More food would end up in the freezer than we could give. Contents would need to be stacked like mortared bricks. For the freezer’s system this would be something like trying to breathe inside a basement wall.

And my waist line doesn’t need to hold what the refrigerator can’t.

After all our creations are completed the girls make a tent with blankets and couch cushions. I play with my granddaughters and crawl inside their play environment, too. I grab a plush toy cow and tell them it gives chocolate milk. Kate readily accepts a pretend squirt. Rebe claps her hands over her mouth and says, “I’m lactose intolerant.” She isn’t. But she has definitely inherited her father’s quick wit.

My neck should hurt more than it does. But perhaps laughter heals in unexplained ways. My considerably-past-middle-age years will return, sooner than I want them to appear, long before I see in a mirror the ridges in my neck. Probably sometime during the clean-up. For now I have discovered a great secret of the universe. The light in my granddaughters’ laughter makes me feel whole.

Kate and Rebe, thanks. Just for being the wonderful girls you are.

May  everyone find peace, love, joy, and plenty of laughter during the holiday season.

laughter words to inspire the soul

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