Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lynn & Reta

To me, those names are as inseparable as the people themselves. Grandma and grandpa Stewart are both in their 90s and have been married for over 75 years. I've been thinking about them a lot lately. They seem to be getting shorter, but they keep growing in my estimation. Grandpa was a baseball player, a farmer and a school bus driver. Grandma cooked lunch at the junior high, raised six good kids, played the organ at church, and bowled like a champ (200+) with her friends.

So many memories. I remember:

--Helping grandpa mow their big lawn, then sitting on the patio chairs and talking while drinking Shasta and eating homemade cookies.

--Going shopping and out to eat with grandma and grandpa for every birthday until I left home. My favorite was eating fish and chips at the Tiffin Room after shopping in the Ogden City Mall (none of which exists now).

--Sleeping in the back room when grandma and grandpa tended me while mom and dad were out of town. Grandma usually woke me up with a warm breakfast that I ate on a TV tray, and then we would move out to the patio to play darts.

--Going to see “The Karate Kid (I)” in the theaters, then going out to lunch at Burger King when grandma and grandpa were babysitting me. This represented two firsts for me – the first time I saw a movie in a theater, and the first time I ate a Whopper.

--Spending time with grandpa in his big garage, usually fixing his old Chevy or working oil into my baseball mit.

--Spending foggy Christmas Eve nights eating the best Christmas dinner on earth, opening presents, then sitting next to the hallway heater with my new pajamas, book, toy, etc.

--Listening to stories about baking bread for the neighboring Indians, buying the first TV in town (Warren, UT), the wars, the Depression, the vacations, etc.

--Seeing grandma and grandpa in the crowd at all of my baseball games and piano/trumpet/vocal recitals.

--Ceremoniously honking the horn as we ended a visit, then watching out the back window as the cutest grandparents in the world waived goodbye from the driveway.

--The immaculate home and yard...

Grandpa Stewart was a worker. He started at 3:00 in the morning and worked until Jeopardy came on (he nailed almost every question). Grandpa spent a lot of time with his tools...

...and his work boots.

He also had a knack for fishing (a gene that wasn't passed on).

Oh, and he read a few books each week.

In addition to everything else she did, grandma maintained detailed scrapbooks of all of their travels, and for all of her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids. Priceless.

And finally, as evidence that my grandparents are the coolest ever, I submit for the record photographic evidence that my grandparents visited every state (including North Dakota!) and the District of Columbia, and collected a souvenir bell from each.

Lynn and Reta Stewart are amazing people. They accomplished much but sought little. Out of nothing they built lives and created opportunities for their children and posterity. A great portion of what I have received and experienced in my life is a direct result of the love and tireless efforts of my grandparents. When I was about eight or nine, grandma and grandpa gave me a picture of themselves in front of the White House, and every time I looked at that photo I hoped that someday I could go to Washington like my grandparents. I think of that every day as I ride my bike past the White House on my way to work. I feel like I carry them with me through a thousand traits, characteristics, memories, hopes, dreams, and debts of gratitude.

Grandma and grandpa loved us unconditionally. I love you, grandma and grandpa!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Playing in the back yard

And now you can see where the term back "yard" comes from (in England they call this the back meter).

It's got dirt, though, so Tennyson doesn't mind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Three sentence book reviews

All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren

I started this novel, about a populist governor gone bad, while on jury duty in December 2007, and tried to get through it on multiple occasions during the past year, but I've now decided I'm an adult and don't have to read boring books. I've read federal statutes that are more deserving of the Pulitzer -- I don't even care how this one ends. But, if you're the kind of person who likes reading four-page Steinbeckian descriptions of mud (or roads, or heat, or...), and you don't get your political corruption fix from the newspapers, go ahead and give it a shot.

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

I was cleaning out my bookshelves and came upon this one from my high school days. Love it! It's about a group of British boys marooned on an island, or rather, it's about you and me.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Outdoors again

A warm weekend made for hundreds of happy kids in Lincoln Park. This is one of them:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winter, still

Tennyson is ready for spring. Any day now. He destroys every square inch (all 9 of them) of our house within minutes of waking up, and then spends the rest of the day trying to escape. And driving Suzanne nuts. It's just wrong to cage this bird, so let's warm it up a bit already.

Our imperial superhero takes a break from ruling our lives to have a sip.

Curly a bit?

Don't be fooled: he looks cute, but he's a hurricane.

Warming by the fire while the ice falls from the sky outside.
In other news, Tennyson climbed out of his crib for the first time last week. He swings the leg over the bar, pulls himself over the edge, then drops and lands on his feet. Every time we put him in his crib. We weren't quite ready for that development. We haven't slept (much) since. If we ever regain our senses, we plan to think about how to deal with our new situation. Until then, anyone have any advice (besides sleeping pills crushed up in his bottle)?