Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Family”

POM: April 4

Nikki Giovanni is a poet who knows how to capture a moment, a feeling, an event. She is a poet of note. This poem, never no matter it’s about Tennessee, gets me itching for summer. Summer and its treats is summer regardless of the state. Summer is a state all its own.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Nikki Giovanni, 1943

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy’s garden
and okra
and greens
and cabbage
and lots of
and buttermilk
and homemade ice-cream
at the church picnic
and listen to
gospel music
at the church
and go to the mountains with
your grandmother
and go barefooted
and be warm
all the time
not only when you go to bed
and sleep

The Wonderful World of Seven

The grandkiddo turned seven this year, part of the reason of the yearly sojourn.  You see, my birthday is one day before hers. Someday this will take on greater significance, and I envision an annual midnight call between us to celebrate our birthday at the same moment.

While A.A. Milne celebrated being six

image: Wikipedia. Six has its tricks, yet seven is heaven-ly

I delight in finding so much changed after one year:

  • she can read to me!–“Please read me a book” is now a give and take opportunity for sharing the delights of reading
  • she is more reasonable–melt downs are infrequent now that logic is not such a foreign concept
  • she can ride a bike–tips and spills and “I’m tired!” aren’t even part of the lexcicon (perhaps one spill)
  • she can tolerate outings much better–“Are we there yet?” doesn’t much occur due to being occupied with a book
  • she is much more content to answers to questions involving “How come?” and “Why does?” because her understanding of the world is more complete
  • she likes jokes and riddles–a shared sense of humor is definitely a bonding bonus
  • she can carry on a conversation–there is actual dialogue instead of answering a stream of questions
  • she enjoys classic cartoons as much as I–Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny rock
  • she can go to bed a bit later–9 pm vacation bedtime doesn’t involve cranky kid syndrome the next day


Seven is not quite a perfect number, although it is perfection in the making I notice these glitches:

  • loud and not-so-loud are not volume options: it’s pretty much tuned to loud
  • cause and effect aren’t quite connected synapses yet: such as jumping on the bed with possible breakables in the vicinity, like my headphones
  • full and empty are only relative terms when it comes to hunger
  • bored and engaged entail thinking and non-thinking strategies: iPads are handy but guilt-inducing babysitters
  • tone is important and attitude is quickly mimicked: in other words speak to them as I want to be spoken to
  • sarcasm is a learned nuance as is teasing: “Do you mean that for reals?”
  • sleeping in past 6:30 am is a foreign concept: okay, to be honest she at least waits for me to make a movement of waking up before pouncing on me with conversation (“DO you KNoW TIGERS haVe StRIPeS?”)

I project eight will be much different. Eight seems to be the new thirteen these days as I watch kids with iPads and iPhones in hand wander about. There is a savvy that is a bit disconcerting. I remain hopeful since the grandkiddo lives in a TV free household (amazing, I know) and has been mostly homeschooled so far.

For now I relish the nearly perfect age of seven. She still finds blowing bubbles a delight. I shall not worry yet when my love of parks and playgrounds and bubbles and cartoons become passe in her eyes.

Dandelion Summer

It’s always a pleasure to discover a new author, especially one who is prolific. Such is the case with my discovery of Lisa Wingate and her novel, Dandelion Summer.

Set in contemporary Texas, this is a character-rich story  with two polar opposites.  Imagine Henry Fonda from his role in On Golden Pond and a teenage Queen Latifah, you then would have Norman Alvord and Epiphany Jones, better known as J. Norm and Epie. Thrown together against their will, they reluctantly form a truce of temperaments as they launch out on a journey of discovery together.

One of the more delightful aspects of the novel is how Wingate swings the viewpoint from J.Norm’s to Epie’s, allowing the reader to fully realize the entire picture. Norman is a recent widower, ailing not only in health, but in regrets.  He is at odds with his only child, Deborah, a resentful professional woman who believes her efforts to run her father’s life is merely a way to honor her promise to her deceased, beloved mother. Epiphany is a troubled biracial sixteen year old who has it tough at home and at school. Both Epie and J. Norm want to break free of their circumstances and solve the mystery of who they really are.  The varying viewpoints provides the balance of age and youth, and it isn’t long before it’s clear that no matter a person’s age, status, or experience the basic need of family is foremost.  Epie and J. Norm form a family bond of sorts and what could have become oversweet in outcome turns into a realistic story of two hurting individuals who learn to rely on someone they least suspect of being a means of help to their situation.

My biggest takeaway from the novel is Norman’s letter to his daughter, Deborah.  He knows he wasn’t there for her when she was growing up and his letter is an apology, yet it is also an instructive that all fathers can learn from.  I plan on slipping this to my sons someday (never mind there aren’t married, or even have serious girlfriends yet), and maybe I can convince my pastor to read it for next Father’s Day. Here is an excerpt:

Dear Deborah,
Words do not come easily for so many men. We are taught to be strong, to provide, to put away our emotions. A father can work his way through his days and never see that his years are going by. If I could go back in time, I would say some things to that young father as he holds, somewhat uncertainly, his daughter for the very first time. These are the things I would say:
When you hear the first whimper in the nights, go to the nursery and leave your wife sleeping. Rock in a chair, walk the floor, sing a lullaby so that she will know a man can be gentle.
When Mother is away for the evening, come home from work, do the babysitting. Learn to cook a hotdog or a pot of spaghetti, so that your daughter will know a man can serve another’s needs.

The letter continues with sound advice and lyrical admonition to be all a man can be by being the best father a daughter can have and remember.  I read this to my writing compadres and the “oohs” and “aahs” circled around the table.

Dandelion Summer is definitely a book for perfect for the summer read list, yet  its warmth resonates long after the last word is read.

Badminton, Barbecue, and Baby Birds

The other day we were enjoying the fine summer evening with a mix of badminton, barbeque, and the usual family hi-jinx. We have tried to be courteous and considerate of our new neighbor, especially since it appears she is a single mother with four babies.  The babies make absolutely no sound.  Unheard of.  They patiently wait at home while mom is out getting them food.  We keep an eye on them for her when we can.  Recently, we noticed the babies were about to take that first significant step of independence and leave home.  I know–what? Babies leaving home?  Sorry, I couldn’t help but build up a gotcha.  The mom is a robin who’s built her nest right in the corner of our patio and garage. Silly, silly birdie.  Didn’t she know what a noisy lot we were?  We have been watching with anticipation as the birds went from hatchlings to fluffy bits.

This particular evening I had a feeling the birds were about to head out.  All day long they had been stretching up and airing out their wings and periodically during the day I would check on them.  A countdown began.  Four babies. Three babies. Two babies.  Finally, the one lone baby robin left in the nest.  We encouraged it and cajoled it to head out into the unknown.  It resisted and began pitifully uttering dismal little chirps–they were much too soft to qualify as cheeps.  Some of my family had grown restless waiting for the big moment and wanted to return to the game.  I decided I wanted to actually witness the big moment of baby bird first flight and sat down with my book.

“Forget badminton, will ya,” I stubbornly replied to tauntings to rejoin the game.

“Oh, it will be awhile for it goes.”

“Nope, any minute now.”

More stretchings and wavering pips from the corner nest.

“Hey, maybe it is goin–”

“Look! There it goes!”

“That was really cool!”

With a birdie sigh of “Now or nothing” the last baby flapped its wings and zipwinged it to the pine tree at the edge of the yard.  With shouts of “Hooray!” we congratulated one another on witnessing the positively, absolutely neat event we had just watched.

Witnessing the resolution and trepidation of a baby robin before it determines, “Yup, this is it” is a moment to always remember.  There’s definitely an extended metaphor in here somewhere.  Robert Frost–any commentary, sir?

Update: Mom’s back with a second brood.  I guess we weren’t such bad neighbors after all.  Looks like this batch will be taking off within the next week.  The Flight of the Baby Bird II?

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