21 July 2010

Letters to my grandchildren: July 2010

Beloved children,

What an amazing month it's been!
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First, the garden is making amazing progress -- we have had loads of greens (turnip, beet, and radish mostly) and not much else, so far. But the greens have been so good that even Rod likes them and asks for salad! The tomato plants, squash, and watermelon all look like they plan to give us LOTS of fruit, but so far there has been nothing to eat. We have some eggplants and peppers that will be ready in a little while and the tomato plants are taller than I am and have a LOT of green fruit growing. Even Rod has taken an interest in gardening this year, which is good because he is excellent at killing the big bugs that eat our tomatoes!

We'll have lots of juicy red tomatoes in the coming weeks so we will have lots to feed Corey. I am so excited to see Corey! He is coming today! He is getting together with his friend, Lara, before he comes here and then taking the bus to see us, but I will see him this afternoon.

We went to New York State last week and we just got home. It was a LOT of driving -- two days each way! But it was an important trip!

Sixty-four years ago, my mother's mother died; my mother was only seven years old. My grandmother knew that she was going to die before her youngest children were all grown, so she asked her older children (who were already married and had children) to take care of their little sisters and to keep the family together. They did the very best they could to keep the family together and to help my grandfather to raise his littlest daughters. The three older daughters came home every few days to cook for the little children and their father, and the two older sons worked extra jobs to help pay for shoes and clothes for the littlest children. My grandfather continued to do his farm work, while he took care of six little daughters, the youngest of whom was a very small baby.

After the littlest baby was grown and had moved away, the older children remembered what their mother had asked of them as her dying wish, and they decided that they must host a family reunion every July, in honour of her memory.

I can’t afford to make the trip every year, but I do try to go every few years. My brothers try, too. This year, three of my brothers were there and my baby brother brought his grandson, Bo, so it was especially fun! (Bo is only three, so Jack had a chance to be a Big Kid for his little cousin.)

Of course, since we were driving so far, we made a few extra stops. We stopped and said hello to my old college friend, Rich, and his partner. We went to Niagara Falls, too. On the way home we were running late, so we weren't able to stop, but we saw the cottage where the famous English poet, Robert Louis Stevenson, stayed for a year to recover his health at a “spa”. Stevenson wrote a lot of poetry for children and most American kids know at least one of his poems. We also saw, but couldn't stop at, the home of a very famous boy, Alonzo Wilder. He grew up to marry a very famous writer, who wrote a book about his life on that farm. Do you remember that I told you when we were reading Farmer Boy? That's the book about Alonzo's life on that farm -- in the same town where I was born! (Malone, New York). I really want to stop for a few minutes next time we pass by! We also ran out of milk and so we stopped at a lovely farm and bought some of the milk fresh and warm from the cow -- it tastes wonderful!

Jack is just finishing up his school unit about Ancient Egypt and we are preparing to study Ancient Greece. That will take a long time, because we know so much more about Greece than we do about any previous culture! Do you know about Ancient Greece? They developed the style of theatre that later developed into stage plays and then radio plays, and finally the types of television show that we watch today. The Greeks also developed some of the ideas about education that we still use to guide out lives and our schools today! And they were the first to develop the style of art that we still call "classical" and we still try to imitate today. The Greeks are important to know about if we want to understand about Western culture because so much of the way we live started first in Greece. I'll bet Farfar Olof would be very happy to tell you about Ancient Greece -- he LOVES history.

Bella, we saw your photo in your karate Gi! Jack and I are very excited that you are studying karate, too! I will send a photo of him in his gi for you! (I meant to send many photos with this letter, but didn’t get them printed in time. I’m sure you won’t mind another letter when I send them.) Jack hopes to get his gold belt (second level) this autumn, but we don't know exactly when he will be ready. I wish I had been able to afford karate school for Pappa TJ. I think he would have done very well at it. What do you think about that?

Leo, what are you learning these days? Are you or will you study karate? Do you think Pappa would do well at karate? Do you like school? What are you learning about now?

Wanja, I so hope that things are going well for you! I understand how busy you are and I really hope you're not feeling too overwhelmed. I love you, darling girl, and I think about you constantly! Please don’t worry about the things that you “should” do. There will be time for those later, when the kids are older and life is calmer.

I send you all my love; you are in my thoughts often!

Grandma ‘Farmor’ Misti

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