Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Night before Christmas or How to Survive the Gifts

                The big event every year is the Christmas Eve party at Granny’s house, followed by the New Year’s Eve party given for the grandkids and their friends. The parents are free to party with their friends on New Year’s Eve and the kids, left with me and their grandfather, get to do their own celebration.  There is a plan to this madness, which I’ll go into at the end of the post, but let’s start with Christmas Eve.
                Unfortunately only seven of the grandkids make this event, the other two live in Wyoming, but it sounds like all nine are here and it can get a bit loud. As each family arrives, gifts in hand, I direct them to the basement where the gifts are placed on the pool table. While I try to get the food on the table the youngest follows me around, playing the game “20 questions”.
                “Were you able to find that game I asked for, Granny?”
                “What game?” I reply, trying really hard not to laugh.
                “You know the game for my X Box.”
                “I don’t remember,” I reply, and chuckle to myself as he walks away shaking his head.
                The youngest always gets me in trouble with his Mom, my daughter. While she was on her second honeymoon, I blogged about this, Nathan asked me to get him Gears of War for Christmas. He’s pretty slick for nine. Happy to have an idea on what to get Mr. Finicky, I went shopping. After purchasing the game, I called my daughter and told her what I bought.
                “What did he ask for?”
                “Gears of War,” I reply, quite innocent of the rating system.
                My daughter let out a yelp. “He can’t have that game, it’s X-rated. You have to bring it back.”
                So back I went to the store to return the game. The salesperson was very helpful in showing me the rating system and how it worked, and after I picked out a new game, I called my daughter from the store.
                “My daughter wants to know if this game has any sex, curse words, or bloody decapitations?” I asked the poor salesman.
“No, it’s safe,” he replied. The game passed the “Mom test” and off I went a much wiser granny. 
When it was time to open gifts, we had the youngest go first. Nathan was happy with the Nerf dart shooter, clothing and gift cards, I gave him, but he was looking forward to the final package.
“I got you something a little different,” I said, and waited for his reaction.
Wrapping paper torn away, he gave me a sheepish smile and said, “I really wanted this one.”
I had succeeded in finding a replacement for what was asked, but not right for him. It was a flight simulator, with lots of action, but no blood and guts. I had succeeded in pleasing all seven grandkids, points for granny.
On New Year’s Eve, all the grandkids come over with their newest board games. They’re allowed to bring friends, and everyone brings a sleeping bag. Parents are not allowed to pick them up until the next day around, midafternoon. We spend the night playing board games, eating, playing WII dance, eating, and any game we can make up on the spot. The ages run from nine to twenty three, but they all get along great, and if there is a disagreement, it is settled quickly.
I’m worn out by the time they’re all asleep, but there is a payoff. The next day, after they’re given a good breakfast, they help take down all the Christmas decorations, inside and out. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.   Have a happy, safe, and healthy New Years.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Why I love Steampunk

            A little more than a year ago, my granddaughter, who had graduated from Moore’s College, invited me to join her at an event in center city.
“Granny, I’ll be wearing my Victorian outfit, and I also have one for you to wear,” she instructed. Me, loving any kind of fun adventure, agreed to go.
That night after dressing at her house, I looked into the mirror and said, “Isn’t this a lot of black?”
“No granny, trust me,” she replied.
Donned in an ankle length black skirt, topped with a frilly long sleeved black shirt, and over that a dainty black vest, all I needed to add was the Victorian bonnet, I held in my hand. Feeling like a character from Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, we headed to Philadelphia. It was nowhere close to Halloween, so imagine the stares from fellow drivers.
Once we reached the hotel and entered the Ormandy Ballroom, I was transported into the world of Steampunk. People were dressed in all styles of Victorian clothing some even included futuristic accessories.
“Are we in Oz?” I asked, mesmerized by the beautiful array of Steampunk fashion.
“No granny, relax,” she replied, adding, “They have food and drinks, so let’s find a table.”
We lucked out and found a small table close to the stage. Settled, I watched all the performances scheduled for the assembled crowd. The music, entertainers, fashion show, Steampunk vendors, and the friendliness of the guests, won me over immediately. I was hooked on everything Steampunk.
The man who produces this event every month is Gil Cnaan, and the name of the event is Dorian’s Parlor, which is held at the Doubletree Hotel. The cost is minimal considering the excellent talent, which is on stage every month. Check it out.
I hope to have a chance to interview Gil, soon. So look out for the post. Also there is a site you can check and learn more about the genre from G.D. Falksen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pull Toy Granny

     So the other day, I was with my fellow writers, and the conversation turned to the different adventures, my grandchildren seem to involve me in. Some good, some strange, and some physical. My problem, there is only one of me and nine of them. Two of the grandkids live in Wyoming, so they don't get the chance to play "Pull Toy Granny.

     I try to give equal attention to all, when I'm not working or sequestered in my room writing, but like I said, there is only one of me. Have they improved cloning yet?

     I'll start with the girls.The youngest is interested in writing and introduced me to a wonderful writer's group. I became involved with Steampunk, thanks to the eldest granddaughter. I never knew there was anything like this and I fell in love with the concept. Once a month, we head to Philadelphia dressed in Victorian or vintage Steampunk clothing, to an affair held at the Double Tree Hotel. I intend to interview the amazing man who runs Dorian's Parlor and try to explain Steampunk in a later post. The middle girl is into everything Japanese including Lolita. Don't ask, this is for another blog, but I will say it has to do with unique clothing.

     Whenever I'm able to take all three shopping at the mall, I play the game,"Pull Toy Granny." To play this game, you must be able to go into three different stores at the same time without upsetting anyone. One of the girls wants to go into Hot Topic, the other to H&M, and the third anywhere the other two aren't. I had two choices, have them pulling me in three different directions( think of the slinky dog from toy story) or tell them to go to their designated stores and I would hop from store to store to check on them. I survive the game by running from store to store and this works...sometimes.

     The boys are into the martial arts. When I walk into my daughter's house, the middle grandson grabs my wrist, asking, "How would you break this hold?"
     "Can I first take off my coat ," I ask.

     He's into Aikido and tries his best to teach grandmom how to defend herself. Quite a feat when you consider, I can't walk and chew gum at the same time. The older grandson is into mixed martial arts and he is pulling on the other arm, saying "Try to punch me in the face."

     "Are you crazy?' I reply.

     He needed to practice some defensive move and there I was in the middle, both of them pulling on my arms, the slinky being stretched beyond repair, until the youngest came in and asked me to play a card game. Self defense was put on hold as we all played a game of 500 rummy.

     Do I mind being a pull toy? Hell no. I have to be inventive and able to give each of them equal time and attention, but they have opened my mind to new adventures.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog Contest: Just how good is your character's voice?

Lucy was helping her brother pack the cardboard box with some of the dusty remnants of the home they had shared. Both quiet, their father’s violent passing, a stark reminder of their troubled life, dying the way he had lived, his death brought a sense of relief, a closing to a bad story, they were written into.

“I could use a cup of tea right now. Let’s take a break, she said.

“What?” Michael asked, distracted from a broken toy he held in his hand,

“I could use something warm to drink. I’m going to make a cup of tea. Do you want a cup?” she urged not wanting to go into the kitchen alone.

“Do you remember our safe place?” he asked, answering her question with one of his own.


“We might be able to squeeze through the opening. Want to try it?” he urged.

The safe place, she thought to herself as the vision of their hiding spot returned, startling clear in her mind. “I’ve always wanted to come back, to… see, but he was here and…..” she left off, some memories better left in the grave. “Do you think the passage is still there?” she asked, wondering if her memories were only a figment of a troubled mind.

“Hope so,” he whispered, “come on, I… need to see it one more time.”

He went into the closet first, not too surprised to find it had shrunk in size since he was last here.

“What are you waiting for?” she asked, blocked from seeing inside because he was so much taller than her.

“He nailed the door shut,” Michael replied, a sick taste in his mouth.

“I hope he didn’t…” she was unable to finish.

Without saying a word he left the closet, searching for a tool to pry loose the nails separating them from the refuge they had discovered. Lucy stepped into the empty closet, the dust irritating her allergies, the metal hangers nothing more than a framework for cobwebs.

“This closet was much bigger,” she said, as she rubbed her hand along the smaller door, which led to the attic located over the room.

Let’s see if this works,” he said, moving her to the side, lifting the claw hammer to pry loose the nails from the door, which was a little more than three feet high and not so wide when you’re no longer a child.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Where can I buy one of those?

      It's been awhile since I posted, busy with Thanksgiving and shopping for Christmas presents. November and December are hectic for me, especially since there are close to twelve of my immediate family members with birthdays within the first two weeks of December. Can everyone say "Birthday Cake Overload".

     Last night as I was running around my house pulling out the Christmas decorations, I overheard a commercial for a wearable blanket called, and I kid you not, the forever lazy blanket. Thinking my husband was watching Saturday Night Live on demand, I walked into the living room to see the people in the commercial wearing these one piece jumpers. Think of the blanket sleepers we put on babies too young to be covered by a regular blanket.

     "This is funny," I remarked to my husband, adding, "Is this one of the SNL phoney commercials?"

     "No, it's a real commercial," he explained.

     "No way," I replied, and then sat down to watch the rest of the commercial.

     Not only was the advertizement saying how comfortable the 'forever lazy' was at home, but people were able to wear these blankets even outside the home. Now call me crazy, but when and where did it become permissable to wear a blanket sleeper as outside clothing?

     The highlight of the commercial was the mention of the specially placed zippers, which enabled the wearer to be able to go to the bathroom. The first thought,which came to mind was the old movies with Ma and Pa Kettle. Pa Kettle wore longjohns similar to the 'forever lazy' and he was also able to unbutton the back of the longjohns to go to the bathroom.

    Are we evolving into a new breed of couch potato? Do we now need special clothing to sit mezmerized in front of the T.V.? And are there other products on the way to compliment the forever lazy blanket?

     I can see it now, products for the 'forever clueless', or maybe the 'forever greedy', I even have an idea for a certain someone, called the 'forever dumb as shit'.

     "You want me to buy you one for Christmas?" my husband teased.

     "Do you want dinner, tonight?" I replied. My message delivered.

     I won't be wearing one of these blanket sleepers, my sweater works fine, thank you, but if someone innocently buys me one, I'll use it, like I did the snuggle blanket, I was given two years ago. They make wonderful tents for the grandkids.