Walking to Grandmas

 

veranda chair 002

It is the early 1950’s.  Not a hundred years ago, but in this old head it feels like it could be.  Mom wipes some flour off her house dress, tucks a stray lock of hair behind her ear, and hands us a basket of apples with a handle big enough for two little hands to share.  She tells us to deliver this to grandmas house.  Together, remember, mom tells my brother.  Keep your little sister with you, wait if she gets behind, don’t walk on the road, watch for cars.  No stopping!  Grandma is waiting for you, so off you go.  Dad and I will be over for supper soon.

That’s  lot of rules and instructions, and I’ll never remember all of them.  Neither will my brother, but that’s simply because he choses not to.  He bends and breaks rules all the time or makes up his own.  I admire him greatly and trust him implicitly and will do whatever he says.

Grandmas house is easy to see from ours, even though it’s a bazillion miles away,  up a winding laneway at the top of a hill.   I love to go to grandmas and I’m thrilled to be big enough at last to walk there with my brother.  I like to keep my eyes on our destination as it gets closer and closer with every step.  I like how the dry gravel dust puffs up and coats my shoes.  Ron likes to stop and dawdle and kick things, and jump down into the ditch for an amazing stick or a funny rock.   I am on the look-out for big bad wolves.   If I tell him this he’ll just laugh at me, so I don’t.  I imagine the house of Red Riding Hoods grandma looking just like this.   It is made of stones and has big white pillars holding up the roof over the  porch where one corner points in and another juts out.  No one else outside of a story book has a veranda of such magnificence.

There are big white outdoor rocking chairs waiting to be climbed on, and the wonderful smell of flowers cascading from buckets and beds all around.  The last leg of the laneway is very steep  and the basket is ten times heavier than when we started out.  I am dusty and thirsty and hot.

Grandma always whoops and fluffs up her apron and acts completely surprised to see us when we land on her doorstep.  She says funny things like ‘land sakes’ and ‘mercy’ and is always calling out for Will.  That’s grandpa.  He never answers, but eventually he will show up from the barn or the field or the woodshed quietly going about his business.  Grandma is never quiet.  She’s the very opposite of that.  It’s always crazy and noisy wherever she is, with banging pots and clomping feet and non-stop out-loud thinking.  Years later when I learn about ‘inside voices’ I realize that grandma never had one.

She takes the apples and plops herself into a chair.  Fetch another sharp paring knife Will!  Don’t you children touch these knives!  Oh, the apples are grand! Apple Brown Betty for supper, there’s nothing better.   Will, fetch some kindling for the cookstove!   And the stove is where that stick you brought into my house is headed,  she tells my brother.  No sticks in  my kitchen, and empty those rocks out of your pockets young man, they belong outside on the road!  Here’s the dipper.  Go out to the pump and get yourselves a drink of water!  Run along now!  Shoo!

Ron and I escape back out into the sunshine, drink as much cold sweet water as we have the energy to pump,  and then go looking for garter snakes in the long grass.  Grandma thinks little people should be seen and not heard, but she talks so much that we never really have to say much to her, so that’s one rule that’s pretty easy to keep.

When night comes and I curl up in my little bed with my tummy full of sweet Apple Brown Betty, sleep comes easy.  The long walk on short legs, all the sunshine and fresh air, plus a head full of grandmas random exclamations have done me in.  I want to go again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that!  I want it to be summer forever.  I want to always have dust on my shoes.

The Litmus Test For Dogs

Cover of "Scary Dog (Starters)"

Cover of Scary Dog (Starters)

I am afraid of dogs.  Not just big ugly ones either, although they’ve been freaking me out in nightmares since childhood.  Perhaps I was Little Red Riding Hood in a former life.  To me, big black canine type creatures are terrifying.

I am also afraid of little dogs.  I was riding a bike once and got chased by a yappy little terrier who jumped up and nipped at my ankles.  I suppose if I had stopped I could have kicked him halfway across somebody’s yard, but that thought didn’t occur to me until much later (once my heart beat had returned to normal) and I probably could never have done such a thing anyway.  I just rode faster to get away from him.  Which made him like his little game even more and try even harder to bite my foot off.  It seriously scared me.

Where this fear of dogs comes from is a mystery.  I have never been viciously attacked or bitten by a dog.  We grew up with dogs for pets, and with friendly familiar dogs I’m fine.  It’s the strange and unfamiliar ones that make me uneasy to the point of panic.  Somebody told me once to calm down because dogs can sense fear.  So of course ever since then I’ve been twice as apprehensive thinking I’ll be attacked simply for being such a wimp.

I’m not a dog lover, but I’m not a dog hater, either – more of a dog tolerater. There are dogs I like okay, some I like less, and many I don’t care for at all.  Sorry to all my family and friends who love their dogs so much.  I like your kids and your cats – I hope that makes up for it.

So if you want me to like (tolerate and not run away screaming from) your dog, here’s my deal breaker.  He can’t look scary.

growl.

growl. (Photo credit: kunkelstein)

Plus it’s also good if he doesn’t growl at me, drool on me, smell bad, jump up and knock me over, bite me or lick my face. Or crap on my floor.

This blog post was inspired by Rarasaurs’s Prompts For the Promptless, Ep 8:  The Litmus Test is a test in which a single factor (as an attitude, event, or fact) is decisive.  In other words, it’s a single question test, not necessarily related to the information that is gleaned from the test.