Monday, August 9, 2010

The Force of Nature

My problem is that I make these grandiose plans that could not possibly be accomplished. For instance, I was going to climb the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks by the time I was 40. I was thinking about this when I was driving along Rt. 8, through the twisting mountains roads as Caleb was complaining of carsickness. Because I’m going to be forty.

Harry: When?
Sally: Someday.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it's there. It's just sitting there, like some big dead end.

I’m the same age as Sally was. Which means next year, I’ll be older than Sally.

I may cry.

The trip to Grandma’s went how I expected. Grandma is a talker. For someone who complains she doesn’t see people anymore, she sure knows a lot about everyone. If you happen to live in the Schroon Lake area, there’s a great possibility that I know what you did, why you did it, who you did it with, and, most importantly, whether or not Grandma approves.

I was spot-on correct about Grandma lecturing me about modern-day toys. When Ben pulled out his Leapster L-Max, Grandma insisted the world has gone (in her words) “too technological. What with microwaves and 600 television channels and tweeters.” Yes- Grandma is opposed to microwaves, cable, and Twitter- though she has no idea what Twitter is. Why have a microwave when your toaster oven does the job just as well? I don’t have an answer, either.

I rarely have an answer.

“So is that thing educational or strictly for entertainment?” she asked about the Leapster L-Max.

“Oh, it’s educational. You can do math problems and reading problems on it,” I answered smugly.

This is when I received the lecture about how we push kids too hard at too young of an age. I looked at Ben. He seemed happy, and unlike a child being pushed. God only knows what she would have said if I admitted the Leapster L-Max was really mostly for entertainment.

Grandma is a paradox. She was bewildered when she learned John was the sole caretaker of the twins this past weekend. One might think she is stuck in the fifties and sixties:

“In my day and age, a man changing a diaper was unheard of,” she stated matter-of-factly. I’m not sure if she approves or not. (I think she’s jealous my husband changes diapers and her husband didn’t. However, if John had narrowly escaped a horrible demise during WWII, I may have granted him a diaper-changing reprieve.)

Then again, she has recently discovered the wonder of Betty Crocker cookie mixes. She insists the mixes, which only require a bit of Oleo, are as tasty as the cookies she used to make from scratch. I beg to differ, but that’s just an opinion.

When in Schroon Lake, I like to walk through town (upstreet, as Grandma calls it) and browse in the little shops. Grandma insists the prices in the little shops are too high and threw a party when the Dollar General came to town.

Last year, the bridge over Lake Champlain that connects Vermont and New York was deteriorating fast and was subsequently demolished. A new bridge is underway. Grandma’s biggest concern? That the temporary lack of a bridge will hurt the Walmart’s business in Ticonderoga. Because, darn it, Oleo is cheaper at the Walmart. God forbid that wonderful establishment ever go out of business.

So, in some ways, Grandma has embraced the changing times.

Speaking of technology, Grandma has a hearing aid now, which is funny, because when I was little I thought she had hearing like a- like a something that has really great hearing. You could not mutter ANYTHING behind that woman’s back. Now, she says “What?” about fifty times during a ten-minute conversation. My voice is a little hoarse from talking so loudly. Plus, I had to translate everything Ben and Caleb said, as they are unapologetic mutterers. Occasionally, Grandma’s hearing aid began whistling, and disgusted, she’d wonder why she bothers to wear the thing at all.

Grandma is a force of nature. She walks for 20 minutes a day in circles in her basement, which is, according to her furnace man, the cleanest basement in all of Schroon Lake. She does this to keep spry, and she is fairly spry for her age.
Last March she fell. Bruised and scared, she amazingly did not break one bone. Not even one tiny fracture. This has compelled me to take my calcium supplement every day, just like Grandma.

Mostly, when I visit, I like to hear stories from Grandma: tales from her past. Like the story behind the picture of Grandma and a bunch of her girlfriends in snowshoes, dated 1940. (This was what we did for fun back then! We didn't need any of those fancy gadgets to amuse ourselves...) Like how she didn’t put her wedding dress on until my grandfather drove by her house on the way to the church, honking as he passed. Like how the Word of Lifers (the well-meaning bible thumpers from the popular bible camp in Schroon Lake) came into my grandparent’s store and scared away customers with their proselytizing.

I’ve come to find that my Adirondack outdoor adventures aren’t going to happen when I visit Grandma. There’s too much talking to get done. I suppose the mountains will wait.

Yes, there's pictures!

Hinckley Reservoir

Schroon Lake Town Beach

Hey Mr. Sandman- bring me a dream...

The Amazing Flying Caleb

A short hike through Scaroon Manor

Remnants of the old ampitheatre. This was one of my favorite haunts as a child. Back then, Scaroon Manor was abandoned. There were trails through the woods and people came in to camp and hike, but it was usually pretty quiet in there. Now, the old resort has undergone a major state-sponsored reconstruction. It costs money to get in there now, which I find distasteful. I don't like to pay for my nature. Plus, I liked it when it was wild and abandoned and haunted. The old ampitheatre was tucked back behind the trees...

Pictures of the ampitheatre back in its hey-day.

They filmed Marjorie Morningstar here!

Someone may have gotten a little carried away.
Schroon Lake
The boys and their Gigi. They ALL love their stuffed animals.
As long as she's alive, her kitchen will stay exactly as it has always been. With no microwave. And that is very comforting.


Natalie said...

I am following you back from FFF (I went on vacation! Sorry for the delay! :) ). Thank you for stopping by my blog!! :)

Elizabeth said...

I love the pictures esp the amphitheatre and your Grandmas table. I am older than Sally and its ok.

EcoMeg said...

Oh my gosh. What a pleasure reading that. Your grandma sounds like a hoot, and you sound like loving granddaughter. The Adirondacks are gorgeous. Looks like it was a great vacation.