Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Ollieisms

David - Did you watch the Bears game last weekend?  (Bears played the Packers - David's team. Packers won.)

Oliver - Yes.

David - What did you think?

Oliver - I don't want to get into an argument.


In the car:  Oliver - Daaaad you know what?

Dad (Marc) - What?

Oliver - I know how to drive.  But I don't know how to drive safely yet.


In the car driving to dinner:  Oliver - Can I have a snack as an appetizer?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Back in the swing of things...

...or not.  Last Wednesday I took Ezri to Wiggleworms again.  I hadn't done it in a few weeks and the room was changed.  I panicked for a moment, thinking it was the wrong day or I had forgotten to register but then I figured out they had changed rooms.  So silly!  There were all new kids there except for one.  I guess the others have graduated to the 1 year old group.  I believe next time Ezri will also attend the next age level class.  She is so animated now: sits, crawls, claps, grabs things.  Pretty soon she'll start singing too.  And speaking of singing - Oliver is a good singer.  He's also taking piano lessons and singing while playing.  I hope Adelaida gets the opportunity to take music classes - at least, for a while.  Music is so useful for other things, the experts say.  On a related topic - Saturday evening we went to the Symphony Ball concert: the opening of the season for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  They played a Ravel piece with a guest pianist and David whispered to me: "one day Oliver will be sitting on stage playing."  And I said - "and we'll be in the front row proudly watching him."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's been a long time

Wow!  I've been away for a long time.  So much happened...so much to do...I am exhausted.  Not so much physically but intellectually and emotionally.

Mom came in mid-August and two days later everyone went to Delavan Lake (Wisconsin) for a week.  The house we rented was in the midst of other houses, no privacy.  The water stank of sulphur.  The floors creaked horribly.  It was not the best house we've rented but we had fun going to the beach in Lake Geneva and Fontana.  I loved going in the water.  And Oliver and Adelaide enjoyed themselves tremendously.  At the house we worked on puzzles.  Mom sat in the porch most of the time or at the beach, not one for walking.  I felt bad for her because her room had a couch, not a bed.  She slept in a narrow sofa but did her best.

A week later we went to South Haven for two days and then onto Madison with mom for two days.  The following week Toronto!  Mom stayed with her cousins and David and I went to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival).  I never had to stand in lines for so long and so often.  My back was killing me.  You have to stand in line for everything at TIFF.  I didn't enjoy it as much as I had in earlier years.  Plus the red carpet crowd waiting got on my nerves and I exploded one afternoon, cursing people.  I think Ewa will never speak to me again but it wasn't directed at her but at the stupid women who wouldn't let me talk to her.

Mom left last week and I had to go back to Madison to watch the kiddies because the nanny went on vacation.  David came friday and we left sunday.  It was exhausting but I love the kids.  Adelaide celebrated her second birthday on sunday.  And she started talking in complete sentences that are intelligible.  She's the sweetest, prettiest girl ever.

I am finally at home for a while and trying to regain my footing, get back to my life and my routines.  This morning tennis.  What a whirlwind of a month and a half!  Now I need to get my classes going.  So far Loyola's Creative Nonfiction is a go.  Please please let the others run too.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ollieisms III

David:  I have to close Poster Plus.

Oliver:  Why?

David:  Because the landlord is not a nice man and wants too much money.

Oliver:  Is Scott Walker the landlord?

Note:  Scott Walker is the governor of Wisconsin.   

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ollieisms II

* You bring me presents because you love me so much.

* - What's your favorite thing at the State Fair Oliver?  The cream puffs, the rides, the animals?

   - The next thing.

* You should always make pasta when you know I am coming to your house.

* I'm going to eat the big corn because I am hungrier than you are.  Your stomach didn't make noise like mine.

* Da Bears are the best. 


These past few days have been filled with grandchildren: last weekend in Madison for the Fourth of July, this weekend in Chicago for the 8th of July.  

On Monday in Madison we decorated Oliver's bike with patriotic colors: flags, ribbons, stickers and paraded down to Wingra Park for the festivities.  There were water balloon tosses, a fire truck, chips and salsa, ice cream, and general merriment.  We even ran into two families who know from Chicago!  Small world.   There was a "wife-carrying contest" that evening but we opted for a cookout.   Burgers and brats for the meat eaters, soysages and corn for the vegetarians.  The weather cooperated fully: sunny, warm, happy weather.    

On Tuesday we took Oliver to camp, waved goodbye from the window and came to Chicago.

This Friday in Chicago we celebrated David's birthday at Millenium Park along with friends and family.  Oliver and Adelaide and their parents came Friday afternoon and left today - Sunday.  The party was a huge success.  Classical music, Spanish guitars, a delicious black forest cake from Dinkel's, a warm and calm evening under the stars.  On Saturday we went to the Adams Playground Water Park and ran around getting wet for a long time.  I hadn't been there for over a year.  It was refreshing.  Ezri and her parents were there too for David to bask in the joy of his grandchildren.

I have enjoyed the grandchildren tremendously these past two weekends.  Exhausted but happy, I go back to my work.  (Look for more Olleisms coming up) 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Siesta time

After a morning of Wiggleworms and lunch, we return home to sleep.  I hear the music of the swing in the living-room where Ezri sleeps: For Elise, Twinkle twinkle little star, Itsy bitsy spider.  This afternoon waiting for my souvlaki sandwich outside The Athenian Room a tv crew taped me eating kalamata chicken.  The host asked me when would Ezri be ready to eat chicken and then I had to talk about the food.  I told him I've been coming to The Athenian Room since it opened - 1972.  I remember the Gardiakos family: Basili, Sotiri, and the sister Basiliki.  Basili sold the place after six months to sail around the world.  I told the tv host Ezri would be ready in about 6 months.  She was smiling broadly, her big blue eyes shining.  I got my food and we walked home: to eat, to sleep, to write.  These sun-filled days lighten my heart, bring me joy and peace.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Yesterday was our first day at Wiggleworms with Ezri.  There were 11 other children between the ages of 6 and 12 months - all sitting on the floor with their mothers and a few grandmothers.  And even a great-grandmother!  I had forgotten how it goes at first but in a few minutes I got into the swing of things: singing, clapping, swaying, "The itsy-bitsy spider," "the wheels on the bus," and a few I hadn't heard before.  I love it!  And always marvel at the possibility I have given at this stage in my life to care for babies.  Ezri is a sweet child, quiet most of the time, easygoing.  She smiles when I talk to her.  She babbles.  After Oliver and Adelaide left town I was sad and missed the experience of feeding, going out for strolls, going to the playground, talking and singing.  Changing diapers not so much.  Now I have Ezri.  And sometimes I also have Oliver and Adelaide - when they come to Chicago and stay with us for five days like last week.  It was something!  Fun and exhausting at the same time.  Next weekend we're going to Madison to see them.  I'm sure it'll be fun and exhausting again.  But mostly great fun.  More later...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Something I read that made me ponder...

"The secret of happiness is to have low expectations."  That's what the Danish people said when they were surveyed about happiness and were found to be the happiest people in the world.  That's the opposite of my mother.  But how wonderful it would be to have low expectations!  David disagrees with me.  I strive to achieve that state but - sooner or later - fail. 

Most of us are accustomed to wanting more and more under the guise of needing more and more.  How much do we really need?  Downsize!  Downsize I say (mostly to myself).  That's a hard lesson to learn.


Oliver: You should not yell at Nana. 

David:  Why?

Oliver:  You will hurt her feelings.

David:  That's very grown up of you to say.

A pause.

Oliver:  And you should be careful when slicing carrots with a knife.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I wonder...

... when did people start needing music pumped into their ears at all times of day and night?  What's up with that?

...when did people start needing to carry water with them at all times of day and night?  What's up with that?

This new world baffles me at best, irks me at worst.  And sometimes it even drives me up a wall.  Be patient.  Be accepting.  I repeat to myself but it's not always easy. 

Anybody have an answer?  Or answers?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rainy Day in Chicago

Today brings to mind another rainy day, a few years ago:

Rainy Day

All morning the wind

shudders the windows, pushes
a curtain of water against
the glass.  Outside
each creature cowers
in its shelter.  Inside I

listen to the furious

lake and the death-cries

of the wind while words
    one by one
          across the lined pages of
my notebook, its blue covers
thick and velvet-soft.  There is
something desirable
about rain and
the solitude it brings.   The possibility
of hours of un-
interrupted reading; an entire day
devoted to shaping a poem, carving each word
out of the void or simply plucking one
out of the hundreds lined-up at attention
like good little tin soldiers in my brain.

the sky
spent of its passion, serene
after thunder, I walk
into town, a book under my arm,
wet grasses brushing
against my bare legs, crisp air
and vivid blue sky
all the creatures out
again -- 
a red-headed woodpecker
who dives noisily against
the dead high limbs
of a sycamore tree,
its curling bark exposing
the whitish-brown trunk;
a cedar waxwing, his cinnamon
crest darting
  in and out
            of a drenched thicket
of red mulberry leaves, quick
bursts to snack on flying
insects.  I
prefer a cup of coffee, a slice
of peach tart at the Pumpernickel Inn.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

@ home

I think it's time I explain the name of the blog.  It is actually very simple:  I never had children yet I have three grandchildren.  I never thought I wanted to have children and yet, I love my grandchildren; and enjoy caring for them regularly.

Until recently - and for the last four years - I took care of the first grandchild: Oliver.  He was and is a delight, a surprise, an amazing child.  Then came his sister Adelaide: sweet, loving.  When they moved to another city I was sad.  But now I have added a third girl - their cousin - Ezri.  She looks at me with her big blue eyes; she listens to my voice and smiles.

What a serendipitous turn of events!  How fortunate I am!  More later.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

@ the Nature Center

The walk at the nature center reminded me of the days in Union Pier a few years ago.  Here is the first poem I wrote then:

First Day

The season of snow has given way to this month of May
when wildflowers tumble out of the darkness, strutting
their warm purples and deep yellows out on the prairie. 
After this morning’s rain, the sun slices in-between
impossibly-high red oak branches, its lukewarm rays diving
all the way down into the forest floor where
the smell of the wet woods rises
to meet my deep breathing.

Excited --
like children on Christmas morning -- we
descend the rickety, narrow steps to wander
on the wide beach, our bare feet sinking into
the unwalked sand, freshly dried and loose
between our toes.  This is all ours!  All ours
to contemplate and listen to and smell,
a peaceful pleasure for two, a miracle. 
David skips stones into the lake’s shining sheets
but I can’t.  I
don’t know how
no matter how hard I try to hold the flat
pebbles just so, fling them straight out
with a twist
of the wrist, wishing for at least one bounce
or two.  Before long,  the fog -- that portent of cooling
temperatures -- begins to travel slowly overhead.   With the mist
on our shoulders, our backs, we quicken our pace,
craving some warmth in the face of so much dampness.  

And climbing the shaky stairs up to our newly rented cottage I
wonder how much of an urban dweller I am,
needing cellular phones and emails
to feel a part of this world,
a glimpse at a red cardinal perched on the slanted roof,
its black throat gleaming as he takes flight
should be enough,
in the black and quiet night the sound of waves crashing on the shore
should suffice.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

@ home

"don't like anybody" he says
refusing to play with the other kids
standing next to me
piling the rocks and sticks
one by one
adding a seed or two

"don't like anybody" he repeats
when the girl in the green frilly dress
touches his rocks and sticks and seeds
then he shrieks, he pushes,
he cries
I hold him I tell him to be nice

"don't like people" he shouts
when the boy in the blue pants and white shirt
takes his front loader truck away
I hold him I ask him to share
"don't like anybody" he reminds me
I should've known better

He knows what he likes and
what he doesn't: rocks, dandelions,
seeds, pasta, trucks, figs, these he likes.
Baths in the tub with rubber frogs and
yellow ducks, these he likes.
Taking a nap he doesn't.
Wearing socks he doesn't.
He likes blueberries and cherries,
goldfish crackers, lollipops.
He likes dreidles, sponges.
Stickers he adores.

He knows what he likes and
what he doesn't.  He likes his nookies
and his blanky.  He needs them to sleep.
His blue eyes, long eyelashes, dark
blond hair I like.
His cheeks red, his toes and fingers
I like. 
I don't like it when he says:
"don't love nana anymore".

Friday, May 20, 2011

@ Argo Tea

Here I am: fingers poised over keyboard, waiting, waiting.  Police cars, motorcycles, buses, cars, people whizz by the corner of Armitage and Sheffield.  I write.  Yesterday I saw and heard Renny Golden read from her new poetry collection Blood Dessert.  Her poems recover the lost histories of New Mexico.  There were slides too.  Photos of cacti in bloom, painted mountains, big big blue sky.  I think I'd like to live near the dessert one of these days.  It's like living near the ocean.  Wide, open, infinite and blue.  I like open spaces.  They offer the promise of things to come.  They are optimistic.  Full of hope.