Where the Wild Things Are

LeeAnnRubsam.com

We are visiting Susan and family in Pittsburgh for a few days.  They do not really live in Pittsburgh, just in one of the rural, wooded suburbs that surround the city.

I am in the midst of being a very cool grandma.  As everyone knows, cool grandmas come in a wide array of colors and shapes, but they are only really cool if they get artsy-craftsy with the little ones.  I have about three things in my artsy-craftsy arsenal, so it’s good that I am a long-distance grandma and can spread those three things out over my entire career.

Hence, I came prepared with a bucket of seashells and a huge jar of popsicle sticks.  We made treasure boxes by gluing the sticks together in dizzyingly-high layers until we reached the attention span limit.  The seashells became lid decorations.  The small fry will remember my visit fondly forever.  Now you know how to be a very cool grandma, if you didn’t possess that information before.   Isn’t the Internet wonderful?

Jason Upton sings, “Do you really want to know … where the wild things are?”  I know.  They live in suburban Pittsburgh — both inside and outside the house.  We arrived to find Susan and her husband in a massive battle with squatters — an army of mice.  These are brazen rodents: they do not wait until we are all snuggled in bed with the lights out to reconnoiter.   They watch us from corners, waiting for the very moment we leave the room, whereupon they scramble from their bunkers in search of plunder.  The killer beagle is not concerned.  He should face a long stint in the brig for dereliction of duty. 

Francis Scott Key described the battle he witnessed as “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”  Here it is more like snap, crackle, and POP — sounds of mice rummaging through the cupboards and their eventual demise in the cleverly positioned booby traps.

I commented darkly that we should consider mouse croquettes for dinner some evening.  I’m not sure that  is any more of a gross idea than escargot or frog legs, but it was merely a conversation starter, not an idea to be seriously entertained.

The house has a history of wildlife intrusions.  Last summer Susan found a baby snake coiled among the children’s toys.  Her heroic husband strode to the rescue, scooped the viper up in a box, and hurled him down the hill to the creek.  I’m not sure it was a real viper.  Chris said you can tell whether they are poisonous or not by how slanted the eyes are — but he didn’t examine the eyeballs intently enough to find out.  He’s a very just-get-the-job-done kind of guy.

Incidents of this sort must be why Susan once announced that she would much prefer to live in an apartment with concrete all the way up to the foundations and not a blade of grass or a tree in sight. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy Newsletter

leeannrubsam.com

Dear friends,

We  wish you a very merry Christmas!  I hope everything is going well with you and all your family.

We’re all ducky and ecstatically happy with each other at our house, as usual.

Having Paul home, now that he’s retired, has taken a bit of getting used to, but I am thoroughly spoiled.  I love having him around the house.  He keeps pretty busy with household projects, and he likes to go downtown and share Jesus with people on the street at least once a week when the weather isn’t frightful. 

He is done with one year of Bible school, and has one year to go yet.  After that he plans on being a televangelist.  He really likes class a lot.  Our pastor is a fine teacher, so Paul gets into it.  He is a bit of a godzilla to live with in the week leading up to exams, though.  He frets that he will not do well on the tests – but he always does.

Paul is a good sport about me picking on him in the silly blog posts I write. If one gets too outrageous, I always let him read it before I put it up for the world to see, just to make sure it isn’t something he objects to.  He has never refused to give his stamp of approval.  I think he likes the persona I have created for him.  Perhaps he enjoys having a fuss made over himself.

Beebee is a sophomore in high school now.  She is learning to play guitar from one of my friends, and she sings on the worship team at our church.  We will home school her until she is forty or marries and has ten children, whichever comes first.

We are thinking of going to Pittsburgh the day after Christmas to spend a week with Susan and her husband Chris – if the forecast is clear.  It’s a long drive for such stay-at-homes as us – about twelve hours – and we’d rather not hit a blizzard in Indiana.  (Encountering the highway patrol there isn’t such a super experience, either.)  So, if it even hints of snow, I’ll plant my feet firmly in the home snow banks and refuse to budge. 

Susan’s little boy Ezekiel is almost five and Rachel is two.  The parsonage that they live in is very large, so we have enough room to spread out and have space to ourselves if we all get too much for each other.  After several days together, we always get to be too much for each other!

They have a woods and a creek behind the house instead of a backyard.  It’s nice for a walk at this time of year, since the poisonous snakes and disease-carrying ticks are all asleep right now.  There is a beaver dam on the creek, and they have seen a beaver.  Chris said it is just a woodchuck, but they probably don’t know a beaver from a woodchuck in Arkansas, where he comes from.  Beebee saw it and said it had a big old flat tail – beaver, not woodchuck.  Other than the woods, they don’t have a lot to do there.  Perhaps I will bring popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue along and entertain myself making a fruit bowl out of them with Ezekiel, so that I feel like a proper grandma.  I don’t have the grandma stereotype down yet, somehow.

(Oops! This just in: Weather.com says forget about Pittsburgh.)

A few days ago, Ezekiel told Susan that he wanted to “fire” the house.  I would have freaked out, but she manages to stay calm under such astonishing announcements.  She asked him why he wanted to burn the house down.  He said he wanted to get rid of the clocks.  When she probed further, he said they don’t say it’s lunch time often enough.  I hope she finds a constructive avenue to steer his inquisitive mind into, so that he invents useful things to keep himself occupied as he gets older.  A chemistry set would probably never be a good idea.

 I hope you have a lovely Christmas, and that the new year is full of good things for you!

My Latest Inspiration

leeannrubsam.com 

I have been reading Tasha Tudor’s biography, Drawn from New England, and it has inspired me to write a biography of my best friend Peggy–authorized if she is enthused, and unauthorized if she isn’t. She won’t have a choice!

I thought the Tasha Tudor thing had a pretty good title, seeing she was an illustrator (Drawn) and from New England (lived in New England). So I’ve decided to go with a catchy title like that for my buddy’s biography. We want the readers to know she’s an artist (she’s into basketry), and we want them to know she is from Wisconsin, so we’ll call it, A Basket Full of Bratwurst. Isn’t that good??!!!

I haven’t got much material yet–just a great title–so I’ll have to interview Peg (for the authorized version) or those that know her (for the unauthorized version). Better yet, why don’t I just make it up as I go along? Who cares if it has any basis in reality? Hey, Hillary Clinton got away with this, and look how well her book did! Especially for the unauthorized version, we will have to find people who aren’t Peg’s favorite friends and can provide scoops of dirt (isn’t that the way they do it for the celebs?). Maybe, true to the Drawn from New England style, we’ll just stick with my own fond remembrances.

I’d better make this biography sound convincingly positive to Peg, so that she’ll cooperate, because we’ll need lotsa pictures–cute baby ones right up through the awkward years. (No, I’m not referring to adolescence. It’s the latest stage we’re in–the almost Depends generation.) We’ll want to include the colorful pictures of her accomplished artwork–knit sweaters, baskets, paintings, quill boxes, silk banners, grapevine wreaths, beadwork, and any other of her past art passions that I can’t recall right now. I’d just go steal the pics off her web site, but she has them all scientifically sabotaged so that they can’t be swiped.

If I do an unauthorized version, I probably won’t have to pay her anything from the massive profits I make. But then, she probably won’t let me have the pics, and I’d have to rely on dirt. Such a hard decision! Tsk.

This biography brainstorm has just got to be a winner! I figure, with Peg’s colorful, multi-faceted art career, she has at least as much going for her as Tasha Tudor. All Tasha did was create art while living like the pioneers did 100 years before her. Hey, Peg did bugs and butterflies, too! (See Chapter 9–The Lepidoptera Years.) We could add a little extra interest by having her pictured crafting an art piece in an RV with a flat tire out in the woods of Door County. It’s a sure winner. Yes, I like the ring of it–A Basket Full of Bratwurst.

Purchase at Amazon: Drawn from New England

leeannrubsam.com.

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