Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tiny, Scary Crazy Red-Haired Woman Living in Grandma Joey's Yarn Closet

First, I little information about mine and Grandma's relationship (It will help in visualization hopefully).
I am very lucky that I was able to know my Great Grandma. I feel extremely privileged to have had 11 wonderful years with her.
I spent a lot of time with my Great Grandma when I was very young. She lived in La Conner and didn't drive so we spent all day together. We weeded her vegetable and rock gardens, we walked to the beach to collect the colorful plastic caps from the tips of fireworks so we could save them (She lived through the Great Depression and she "saved" almost everything). We raked the pine needles out from under her trees and I collected pine cones in plastic buckets and she would pay me 5 cents a cone. We spent weekends together during the school year and full weeks during the summer; getting up at 7am, making our beds together, her making the same "traditional Dutch breakfast"; two slices of wheat toast; one with butter and strawberry jam and the other with butter and a few slices of cheese with dill seeds. She drank black coffee and gave me a small glass of Tang (sometimes she'd put a little raspberry or strawberry juice in the Tang to surprise me). When she was done with her coffee and toast she would go outside and check her thermometer outside and sit down and write in tiny diaries the date, the time she woke up, what the weather was like and what it was supposed to be like later, how she was feeling and what she'd planned out for the day.

At one o'clock everyday we'd have Red Rose tea. She drank her's plain and I put one pack of Sweet n Low and a little milk in mine. She would freeze and slice Snickers bars and put 3 small slices on my tea plate and we would take a little afternoon break and relax and enjoy some tea. We would usually play a game around that time too: Aggravation, Triominoes, Yahtzee, Black Jack (we'd bet pennies) or side-by-side Solitaire.

We would listen to her Polka cassette tapes for a while and when the two sided tape had played out I would put on 95.7 KJR Classic Rock and call the DJs and request my favorite songs so she could hear them and I would sing and dance all crazy just to make her laugh.

She cooked dinner every night. Usually she started preparing around 4:30, we would pick green beans from her garden and sit in the sun and snap them into bite size pieces. We'd peel potatoes and carrots side by side at the sink (I'd stand on a pink homemade wooden stool). We'd eat around 6, watch Wheel of Fortune at 7 and Jeopardy at 7:30 and I would glance over and she Grandma either sleeping or close to nodding off.

She knitted a lot, and crocheted afghans and scarves and slippers and Barbie clothes for me. She taught me, very patiently how to move the needles and tie to knots to make patterns. When my mom had time to take her into town, we would go to the craft store and Grandma would by rolls and rolls of every color yarn and take them home and I would stack them neatly in a small closet just outside her bedroom in the hall. In the closet there was a high shelf and (as we've probably all witnessed) she would take packets of Sweet n Low from restaurants and stash them in a cardboard box just below a single hanging light bulb with a pull string.

Grandma Joey is sitting on the couch in the front room. It's mid afternoon and the sun is reflecting off the fish pond through the picture window and a wash of gold light is on her face as she looks down at her needles. I'm just watching her. Standing (maybe?) in the middle of the room just to her right and she says to me, without looking up, "Can you get me some yarn from the closet?"
I start to feel uneasy...I hesitate a little and she encourages me to move towards the hallway. The closet doesn't have a traditional bi-fold door; it has a paper-like accordion door that gathers and is held to the side with a strap.
The door is slightly open and I'm already anticipating something bad. The bulb is off and just as I start to open it fully the pull string snaps briskly and the light is swaying roughly as dust floats in the glow. 
I hear a shrill, high-pitched voice and I cringe. I stare up toward the only shelf and squint as hundreds of pink packets of Sweet n Low start to fall on me. A woman, probably 12" tall with crazy, curly hair is on the shelf, holding the cardboard box above her head and pouring the sugar squares on me. I kind of swat at her a little bit, grab a ball of light blue yarn and quickly pull the door shut.

Then I wake up

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