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Vacation for Vacation’s Sake

I had asked for today off back several months ago and was lucky enough to be approved, so today?  I’m off work just to enjoy the day off.  Monday will be my official “holiday” day, for which I will receive double pay.  I didn’t expect that, but I’m certainly not complaining!

After snoozing through until a ridiculous hour (9am is 5 hours past my normal wake-up) and an updated prescription a couple of days ago that actually HELPED, I am feeling stupendously better.  G and I plan to run a few errands this morning, then come home and STAY home for the remainder of the weekend.  The plan is that if I stay in and stay warm, hopefully the last dredges of this virus will slough away.  Though I have to say that I feel better overall than I’ve felt since I don’t know when.  I’ll take it!

G fixed me a cup of hot tea first thing this morning and just brought me a blueberry muffin.  The kids are all gone for the holiday so it will just be the two of us for several days.  Youngest son moved out last weekend, finally, which made a huge difference.  He might be here for Christmas dinner, and if so he’ll be welcome – as long as it doesn’t constitute a move-in, lol.  My oldest daughter is going to California to spend the week with her boyfriend’s family.  I definitely won’t worry about her there.  Boyfriend’s mom is absolutely nuts about Lisa and the baby and will probably drop a thousand bucks or more on shopping, over and above what she already spent on them for Christmas.  Boyfriend’s family is, if not among the 1%, skirting mighty near its parameters.

And I don’t in any way resent daughter going there.  I can see her and my grandson by hopping in the car for a quick drive, any day of the week.  The other grandma doesn’t get to see them as often.

My youngest daughter is house-sitting for them while they’re in Cali, so even she and the baby won’t be here for a few days.

That leaves G truly torn.  He’s far more besotted with our youngest grandson than I think he was ever expecting.  Baby and granddad bonded in a huge way.  Baby goes completely nuts when grandpa reaches for him.

Having just read the latest entry from Golfwidow, on the subject of trains, it spurred some interesting memories.

Grandma and Grandpa PMy maternal grandfather died before I was born and my paternal grandfather when I was around 4-5.  My only memory of my paternal grandfather (with my grandmother, left) was going to see him in the Veterans’ Hospital in Iowa City, where he was incapable of doing anything more interesting than drooling on himself.  Want fun family history?  Grandpa on the paternal side died of complications of syphilis contracted during WWII.  He was not a young man when he died.  He wasn’t a young man when my father was born, for that matter.

But I digress.

While for all intents and purposes I was without a grandfather when I was young, I did have something of an adopted grandfather.  His name was Cleo, and his wife’s name was Clara, and Cleo was an engineer.  As in, he drove trains for a living.

I must’ve been 3 or 4 years old when he brought us into the engine and we got to ride with him.  My little brother screamed like a banshee the entire trip.  I was awestruck and got the added thrill of being able to touch some of the controls, even pulled the cable to toot the horn.  That may have been the moment that launched my love of technology.  I learned big powerful things could be controlled by someone small.  I was hooked.

Mother and MeMy earliest memory of trains, however, is from when I was two years old.  My mother (right, holding my hand when I was around 2), my baby brother and I took a train cross-country from Iowa to California.  I don’t remember the trip in intimate detail.  I do remember two very crisp images.  One was looking out of the train window to see a series of flat-topped mesas, their cliffs ablaze in the sunset.  My second memory of the trip was at the beach, where people were bobbing in the surf.  I remember my mother and my uncle discussing the scandal of a 50’s-era young woman who stripped off her dress in plain sight to display her body in a one-piece bathing suit.  How horribly immodest of her, to wear a bathing suit to the oceanside!  And a one piece at that!

I remember white rubber bathing caps on the ladies and the sand underfoot.  I remember loving every second of it, but the train was especially cool.  I loved just watching this fascinating world go by while my mother was busy with my baby brother.  For whatever reason, my dad wasn’t with us, which made for a peaceful trip.

The only other experience I recall with trains was somewhat indirect.  My maternal grandmother, having been widowed fairly young, alternated living with us and living with my uncle and his family in California.  I recall taking my grandmother once to Mason City (Iowa) to catch a train.  She was dressed in a beautiful gray suit, her long hair wound in a crown of braids around her head.

Grandma EmmaMy grandma Emma (left and with my maternal grandfather, below) was always a beautiful, elegant lady.  My mother once told me that in her entire life she never heard her mother – my grandmother – raise her voice.  She was kind and gentle, the one shining exception to my otherwise miserable childhood.  I’d like to believe that the best things in me are her legacy.   Different people have told me I was very unlike my parents.  I attributed that to the fact that for the first few years of my life, my grandmother raised me.  If she couldn’t protect me from my parents’ stormy personalities and marriage, at least I had one example of calm that transcended the storm.

I think the bottom picture here may be one of my favorite old family photos.  It’s fun and it’s adorable.  The only one I’m missing that I really, really want is one from when my grandma Emma was a little girl, maybe 5 or 6.  She was standing next to a covered wagon – and it wasn’t staged.  She and her family really did travel west in a covered wagon when she was very young.  They were moving here because her mother had tuberculosis and the hopes were that the dryer conditions out west would save her life.

Rather than saving her, the trip saw not only my great-grandmother’s death, but also the death of all but one of the children.  Only my grandmother and her dad survived.

By the way: my maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Hall, and her family started out in Indiana.  There’s a bit of wonder whether Brain Gerbil (who also has family from the region whose name was Hall) and I may be distantly related, as a result!

Grandma and Grandpa L

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