The title of my blog, From Time to Time, has really been overextended, since I see the last time I wrote one was over a year ago – way back in September 2013.
So, what’s on my mind today and why has the spirit suddenly urged me to say something – well, it , my blog, was no longer evitable.
What’s more is that we, My Beloved and I, have been away for three weeks becoming parents of little children again. Oh, dear, we had forgotten how busy a parent’s schedule can be. And after two weeks, we were….well, let’s just say, we honour all parents for what they do.
One of the three sisters, Shae, 9 years old has had a recurrence of a brain tumour and she and her mother, Tara, had to spend over a week in a hospital two hours distance from their home. Dad, Mike, was working, so we stepped in to look after the other two girls, Falin, 10, and Catlyn, 8.
We started the day by being told by their mother to wake the girls at 6.30. In the morning, of course. In the dark morning, before any sun has shown any light. Well, that meant I had to get up at 6.15 to shave and do the usual ablutions one does after trying to get your eyes open. We, My Beloved and I, are notorious for not getting up early, so this was the first challenge. I mean, why would any sane soul get out of a comfy warm bed when you can’t even see where the bathroom is?
That aside, the challenge was met. The first morning, I rose and dutifully awakened the sleeping pair, moved on into the kitchen, went to put the kettle on, only to be obstructed by the guardian of the home, Samson, the big, strong black cat. He kept so close to my legs that until I got him his portion of a can of cat food, I could not safely move. So, having got the kettle going and two tea bags in the tea pot, I then started on lunch for Falin. And asked her and Catlyn what they would like for breakfast. Catlyn chose a corn dog with maple syrup: Falin, a piece of toast with some of that special strawberry-maple preserve we had sent in a Christmas CARE package to them from Nova Scotia ere we had left those foggy shores back in November. I put the jar back in the fridge, only to see Falin go into it and move the jar. On enquiring why she was moving it, she showed me that she had put it further back and some larger jars of marmalade in front of it. “Just to hide it from others,” she said guilefully with a grin on her lovely little face.
So, while Cat was maple syrup dipping and munching on her corn dog (a hot dog wrapped in pancake on a stick) and Fal was enjoying her toast, I had spread some paper towel on the counter, put two slices of bread on it, buttered them well (Fal likes butter as much as I), slavered them in Nutrella before folding them together and wrapping the sandwich up in the paper towel and, finally, slid it into a zip-lock plastic bag. This was her lunch, along with some apple fries, apple cut into french fries shapes, if you can find them in the stores, otherwise apple or pear slices and some cheesey things in a cayenne-hot powder, a a bottle of cold iced water. Cat gets lunch provided by the school, so no lunch had to be made for her, but Fal likes to sit with her friends and exchange foods. Still, an iced water bottle had to be filled for Cat, too.
Then, “Both of you, go and get your teeth cleaned – and, Falin, are your swimming things ready in your other backpack?” For, after school finishes at 2.30pm….well I am getting ahead of myself.
Next, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We had over half an hour to wait before i had to drive them to school. Well, might as well get some homework done, kids. So they did. Then, at 7.50 precisely, we drove to school – just a three or four minute drive. There we got out and I talked to Miss Heather. Miss Heather is the 75 or so crossing guard. She rules the intersection with a steel whistle and a stop sign. She gives one sharp blow on the whistle and off she marches, defying all the vehicles wanting to preceed down or up the road. And woe betide you should you place a foot off the sidewalk before she blows the double whistle once she is established like the rock of Gibraltar in the middle of the road.
After a couple of days, Miss Heather and I had something going. She came up to the car window and Falin rolled it down, and told the girls Poppa, the name by which she called me, and I, she said, have a romance going. However, she told the girls, she was much too old to try to get Poppa away from their lovely Gramma. She, I am convinced, is a saint. Over her lifetime, she has looked after 58 foster children and adopted three of them, all three mentally challenged. She empathises with Shae and her family, as her husband died a few years ago of brain cancer.
So, I walked Fal and Cat across the road and into the school yard, where, after a few minutes, they all line up in their respective classes, pledge allegiance, and, some mornings, do ten minutes of physical exercises or dancing.
Then i went home, where My Beloved was preparing our breakfasts. Now, after a couple of days, My Beloved decided to get up at the same time as I did and that led to an expansion of the breakfast menu for the girls. While I was feeding Samson and making the tea, she would be frying an egg and putting it on toast for Fal, who thought this was a great idea, instead of just a piece of toast and jam. Perhaps to mother Tara’s chagrin, as that means she will have to compete with Gramma and fried eggs for Falin, once she is back to running the house.
Then My Beloved and I would go and do some shopping, she having decided what she will cook for dinner. And, of course, she was also doing laundry. And you should see how many clothes the girls dump in the laundry basket. Our five children never produced as much laundry as these two could and did.
On Mondays, a snack for Falin of half a dozen little pizza puffs or a corn dog from the yellow box with a small container of ketchup would be prepared by me or My Beloved, another bottle of iced water drawn and then I drove back to school around 2.20pm complete with swim gear, chatted with Miss Heather, went into the school yard and waited for the girls. Then, we drove to the open air pool, the temperature being not hot, varying daily around 12C to 20C, dropped Fal off and returned home with Catlyn. She would have had lunch at school, but she probably wanted a snack, too. Then, help was given to her with her homework, which might be math or writing a few sentences on a book she would read to me. When we arrived, she was struggling with her reading, being able to sound out the syllables, but not able to string them together. However, after a lot of reading and coaching by myself, by the time we left, a couple of days ago, she was reading much better. Her mother, Tara, says there was a vast improvement. And I believe there was.
Falin had to be picked up from swimming at five, having been training for an hour and a half. She does that every week day and has achieved Junior Olympic standards in breast, fly and free style. Between Shae’s first operation, almost two years ago, and until just before this second one, she, too, was swimming well. It is her favourite sport and thing to do. Catlyn, has improved tremendously since we last saw her swimming almost a year ago and so all three will be challenging for the Olympic team in the future, we hope.
On returning with Falin from the pool, Gramma, My Beloved, had dinner ready, grace is always said by this family, whether at home or in a restaurant, and after which the kids clear up the table and settle down for more homework, with which they almost invariably need help and at least another half hour of reading with Catlyn. She did very well with a series of books my Dad bought for our children way back in the 1960s and which served our children well.
After the girls went to bed, it was time for Gramma and Grampa to relax with a glass of wine and retire themselves very shortly after.
Tuesday was different – WOW – in that Catlyn went swimming after school, as well as Falin, so snacks had to be prepared prior to picking them up. Sometimes, I would stop and watch Falin for her ninety minutes, after which Catlyn was in the pool for an hour, so we would drive home after 6 pm.
Wednesday was different again – another WOW -, as school finished early at 1.30pm, so they came home, did some homework, before I took Falin back for her lessons at 3.30pm. Catlyn would go also, but only to play in the play area with friends from the swim team.
Thursday was like Tuesday.
And Friday was like Monday.
That’s how the week went. A huge WOW on Saturday, for Grampa, Gamma and the kids did not have to get up early. Mike did go to work, however.
The first Sunday we were alone with the girls, Gramma and Grampa overslept, so we did not get to church.
However, on Tara and Shae coming back from the operation to remove the regrown tumour on a Thursday, we all went to church on the Sunday.
Gramma was still preparing the meals and some laundry, and Grampa still insisted on continuing his duties of school and swimming runs and helping out with homework as well as a big project Falin has to get in before near mid-February. She had chosen to make her project, the River Nile. So we researched its history, animals, people, culture, and geophysics, all of which was of great interest to Grampa.
As for Shae, when we arrived just over three weeks ago, she was obviously having trouble with her right side arm which had become powerless and leg, which was dragging. However, since the tumour was removed, she has been making truly remarkable strides, being able to walk without support. All due, we contend, to the syncretic beliefs and support from hundreds around the world.
And Gramma and Grampa came back to the warmth and sun of Palm Springs and slept really late until after 10 am Friday, which, because we had neither eggs nor bacon, we went to Pinocchio in the Desert for brunch.
And if you want to see what we ate there, go to http://www.tripadvisor.com/members/MelvilleP_13#CITY_TILES in a couple of days and search for it under Palm Springs.