Posted in Family, Grandmother

My Practice Grandchildren by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Each of my three grown sons have wonderful ladies in their lives. Two are engaged! I’m thrilled to know they have love in their lives that has helped them navigate the trials and tribulations of the pandemic. I also have a selfish wish I never say in front of these very groovy couples: I want grandchildren!

One day I want to brag and smile when I tell friends about the unbelievable beauty and intelligence of my offsprings’ offspring. But until then, I will be happy with my three beautiful and intelligent “practice grandchildren.”  Jaco, Sunny, and Guppy!!!

I first met Jaco when he was a baby and his mom and I walked our dogs together in my old neighborhood. She would walk towards my house early in the morning led by her dog Lou, a regal Great Pyrenees, and Jaco faced forward in a Babybjorn carrier. As Jaco got used to me, he’d kick both of his chubby legs and give me excited smiles when my dog and I came outside. After several months of shared walks, he’d say “Mi-Mi!” when he saw me. ( However, Natalie and I were not sure if he was referring to me or my dog Millie). He shared the same wide-eyed joy for an adult who tickled his bare feet or for a dragonfly that landed on his mom’s arm. (Babies from 4 to 10 months old are very easy audiences!) But on a stroll down a trail in an off-leash dog park when Jaco was the wise age of two and a half, he gave both of my knees a spontaneous hug and said, “I love you so much!” My heart filled with a rush of love that reminded me of that tummy flutter that happens in the early months of pregnancy.

Now at age four, Jaco has matured beyond such displays of affection. During our walks he talks nonstop about the movie Cars and quotes Lightening McQueen as if he’s the cartoon car’s agent. And his long light brown curls bounce when he’s reimagining a favorite movie scene until he stops along the trail to point at the ground and say, “Look!! A roly-poly party!” So I stop and marvel with him at the crowd of bugs squirming at the base of a cypress tree. His sharp eyes miss nothing, and his curious intelligence has that “carpe diem” attitude towards the natural world so that walking with him is always part Discovery channel and part Comedy Central when he makes up silly rhymes or remembers some of Tow-Mater’s best jokes. I’ve watched Jaco grow from a stationary baby to a super curious toddler to a confident older brother and he makes me believe the world can be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows!

Sunny

My second “practice grandchild” fits her nickname like fine crushed ice settles neatly into the thin paper cone of a snowball on a summer afternoon. Sunny’s presence is always as welcome as a cold treat on a hot day. Almost 3 years-old, Sunday Joy (my friend Crystal’s granddaughter) daily surprises her parents and friends with a capacity for love and creativity that’s only surpassed by her intelligence and wit.

Her clothing style reflects her multi-colored personality. Some days her flowered dress will match the colorful barrettes in her hair and her rainbow sneakers. Other days she’ll wear  a couple of shirts, multiple scarves, five bracelets, a floppy hat and be naked from the waist down. Whatever outfit she chooses to throw together, she owns it whether she’s prancing in the backyard with her dog or chasing Oma Crystal around the living room. She started talking early and by two, she was belting out classics such as “The Wheels on the Bus” like a young diva or holding a small notepad and pencil while asking, “May I take your order?”  when pretending to be a waiter at her parents’ bar and restaurant, the Cavalier.

Sunny & Crystal at The Cavalier’s Wickie Walkup
Musical Sunny Bunny

Her grandpa Ric, who died of cancer before she was born, was the most soulful, wise, and loving human I’ve ever known. He had a smile reminiscent of Paul Newman’s grin in Cool Hand Luke. His joie de vivre lit up his whole face and shone through his mischievous eyes.

Sunny smiles like Grandpa Ric and she laughs like Oma Crystal, explosive and free. The way she greets a friends with a sweet-toned, “You want to play with me” reveals her big, generous heart, and the way she says good-bye with a hug shows her exuberant love. 

Every time I see her smile it’s like I won the Trifecta in the day’s biggest race. I always greet her as “Sunny Bunny! Sunny Bunny!” in a bouncy voice because she’s 26 pounds of laughs and smiles and JOY. 

I met my third “practice grandchild” the day she was born. Two years ago Natalie, Jaco’s mom, had a midwife help her deliver Gillespie, and I was lucky to be her first visitor because I picked up Jaco to give his parents a few hours of rest.

Guppy has large brown eyes that watch the world intensely. She took her time getting used to me. Like her brother, she surveyed me from her mom’s BabyJorn carrier. She did not smile as quickly as Jaco did. I had to earn Guppy’s smiles. During our dog park walks, I’d chat with Jaco about ladybugs and cacti. We’d find cool sticks to use as canes or drum sticks. And his little sister listened and watched, taking it all in and waiting for the time she’d have lots to say. The first time she called me, “Gingah,” it was barely above a whisper and she looked embarrassed by my huge smile and watery eyes. When she started walking she revealed her bold adventurous side. Her curiosity pulled her toddling ahead of us on the dirt trail. Soon she’d be climbing through a hole in a fence or chasing a butterfly without a thought of us. 

She first showed her trust in me at a playground this past fall. She held my hand and guided me to the bright yellow plastic slide and let me help her up the steps before she went down the slide backwards and head first- a daring toddler full of confidence.

This Easter I dyed eggs with my “practice grandchildren” in Crystal’s backyard. Sunny, as hostess, made sure we all had enough Annie’s cheddar bunnies. Jaco sat next to me and reminded me of Lightning McQueen’s best scenes as he carefully placed eggs in blue, green, purple, and pink cups of dye. Guppy sat across from her brother and often dropped her eggs on the wooden picnic table where they cracked, so she’d start to peel the boiled egg, giving more attention to eating than coloring. Natalie, Crystal, and I used white crayons to draw flowers, stars, polka dots, and names on the pre-dyed eggs. The artistic dying of eggs interested the kids for 30 minutes before Sunny led her company to the yard’s sandbox and toy cars and trucks and a bubble machine. I felt honored to share an Easter tradition with my three favorite kids. No matter what trouble the news focuses on, I have hope that my “practice grandchildren” will continue to make the world sweeter, brighter, and better.

Posted in Boo, Nature

Rocky’s Back!

           “Shhhhh! Do you hear something?”

            “I think it’s the dryer.”

            “No, listen.”

            Boo, the cat and I were all looking up toward the ceiling in the den.  We stood up and walked, almost in synchronized form, following the sound as it moved around overhead.

            “Whoa,” Boo said.  “Whatever is in our attic is huge!”

            After the third night of sounds, Boo determined it must be a large squirrel.  At first, he used the regular sized trap we had once caught a rat with.  He shelled some old pecans and put some inside the trap with a line of pecans leading up to the door.  We continued to hear sounds the next night, so he went up to the attic and the trap was still set, but the pecans were gone.

            Gol darn it!

            Once more we tried the same trap and got the same results.  No pecans and no squirrel.

            A few days later, Boo came back from Home Depot with the mac-daddy of all traps and declared, “This will get him!”  Him or her, whatever it was, could not out smart this trap.  It was 32” long and 13” wide, with a large metal handle and a spring trap that was sure to surprise.

            “Why don’t we just call Critter Ridders?”  I suggested.

            “No, it’s personal now.  It ate half a bag of pecans.”

            Looking in the pantry I gasped, “You gave that ‘whatever it is’ the good pecans from my friend Cynthia?  I was saving those for another pecan pie.”

            “I can’t set my trap with just any ol’ pecans, now.  This is serious.”

            And so, Boo went back into the attic, set the mac-daddy trap, and put the good pecans leading up to and inside.  “This will get him.”

            The next night was silent, so Boo went up to check and the pecans were gone, and the trap was still set.  “Damn it to hell!”

            “That bastard has got to be thirsty now after so many pecans, so Boo put a plastic container of water inside the trap and more pecans.  “There goes our pecan pie,” I sighed.

            Fast forward to 3:00 a.m. and a loud Snap! Bang! and Thud!  We both bolted from the bed and Boo said, “We got him!”  The last thing I remember was Boo saying he was going up to the attic to check.  I went back to sleep, but the cat, with an anxious look, jumped into bed with me.  I admit that later I realized I should have spotted Boo as he went up those creaky attic stairs at 3:00 a.m. but, I didn’t.  I vaguely remember him saying it was a raccoon when he got back in bed.  But the next morning Rocky Raccoon was in our trap sitting in the garage.

            “He looks so cute,” I said.

            “Well, he’s not that cute.  He chewed up the water bowl and hissed at me as I carried him down.”

            Boo fed him a few more pecans and drove him to a park about a mile away from our house.  We were so happy and both of us were proud of Boo’s courage and ingenuity.  “It’s the water that got him!”  he said, and we high-fived.

            THREE separate people told us that one mile was not far enough away and that sometimes raccoons will come back to the same house.  We laughed!

            One week later, early one morning while the cat and I were sittin’ ugly, we heard something in the attic.  Emmy cat jumped to the top of her kitty condo and sat looking straight up at the ceiling, then her wide green eyes looked at me like ‘what the heck?’

            When Boo got up, he went straight to work preparing the trap, water, and pecans, and two nights later…Snap! Bang! Thud! 

            This time I spotted Boo as he ascended the treacherous steps to the attic.  I heard the usual string of cuss words as he yelled down, “He’s back, and he broke off the handle of the trap.”

            I don’t know if you are familiar with raccoons, but they have long, slender arms, with long, sharp nails.  That’s how he was able to get the pecans without even going into the trap the first time.  

Boo began the slow descent down the rickety attic steps, while both hands held the trap.  One step at a time, slowly he tried to stay balanced while Rocky continued to move around.  He had thrown an old towel over the cage to help protect his hands from Rocky’s clawing.    

            “Be careful, Babe!”  I hollered, trying to be supportive while standing behind a large shovel, ready to defend myself if necessary.

            “Mother trucker!”

            Before I knew what happened, the trap, raccoon and all, tumbled down the last few steps and landed upright on the garage floor.  “Boo!!  You dropped him!”  I yelled.

            “What about me?  That bastard tried to claw me while I was carrying him down.  He might have rabies.  I could have fallen too.” 

Well, Boo had to go to work so Rocky spent the day and night in his cage with the rest of the pecans.  Boo even rigged a water dispenser to the top of the trap so he could get water.

            The next morning when I went out to check on Rocky, he didn’t move and didn’t open his eyes when I rattled the trash cans and made more noise.

            “He’s dead!”  I whispered to Boo, while he was still asleep.  “I think the fall killed him.”

            “%!*&!”

            When Boo came outside, Rocky perked up and opened one eye.  He was still alive!

Boo bungeed the trap to the inside of the truck bed and we took off for greener pastures, so to speak.  As we drove, Rocky put his arm out of the cage and with the air in his face, seemed to be enjoying a leisurely ride in the sunshine.  He looked at me with his beautiful brown eyes and almost smiled.  Approximately ten miles away, we found a lovely, wooded area and let Rocky out of the cage.  He paused just for a split second, as if to say farewell, but instead he pooped in his cage which fell onto the truck bed then he sprinted out into the woods.  Our raccoon days were over.

            Lest you think we are foolish, or suckers for pecan-loving raccoons, we will somehow find the point of entry.  For right now, Boo declares we do not need professional help, but I am asking for prayers that no accidents, hazards or other rodents befall us, and that Boo is able to repair the damage that no doubt is on the roof and in the attic.  But for now, I will bid adieu.

And to quote the famous Ice Cube, “Bye Felicia!”