Grandma's dishcloths

My Grandma Hollywood is months shy of ninety. Her tender heart and precious soul are now outliving her nearly century-old body. While macular degeneration, cancer, bone frailty, and deafness (among other cruel gifts from aging) have attacked her senses and mobility, the good Lord continues to give her breath.

My Grandma Hollywood can no longer read or drive. Though she lives independently, she must wear an Emergency Response System and she requires daily check-ins from family. Recently she fell while taking out the trash and she had to wait 10 minutes before mustering up enough strength to crawl back to her porch. One of the hardest realities of her 90 years is that she has outlived her husband, her son, dozens of friends and family, and her ability to engage in hobbies such as knitting, crocheting, crossword puzzles, needlepoint, and dancing. With the help of hearing aids, she can listen to music and books. But listening will never replace engaging.

My Grandma Hollywood will tell you that she's ready to go. She wants to be in Heaven with her husband, her son, and the mother she never met (her mother and twin brother died when my grandma was born). Selfishly I pray that my grandma has another 20 years. But that's not Grandma's prayer. She is at peace with her life. She is not afraid to die. She welcomes eternity with open arms.

Us grandkids joke that we need to keep procreating so that Grandma Hollywood has another great-grandbaby to live to see.

One thing Grandma Hollywood refuses to give up is her ability to crochet dishcloths. Many many years ago my grandma could turn yarn and thread into beautiful clothing, blankets and wall hangings. With what little mobility she has left in her hands and with just enough of her diminishing mind still intact, she manages to crochet dishcloths from memory. Every single visit from Grandma Hollywood is accompanied by a set of surprisingly well-stitched dishcloths.

And though I've collected dozens of Grandma's dishcloths, I won't throw the old ones away. Occasionally one will shred so badly that it no longer serves a purpose, and I sadly retire it to our compost. But that's the absolute last resort.

You see, each time I wipe a hand or scrub a counter, I think of my grandma. With every rinse from the crocheted work of my grandma's crippling hands, I remember my childhood. My obsessive use of these sometimes crooked-stitched cotton rags has little to do with cleanliness and everything to do with a love that only a granddaughter can feel from her beloved grandma.

You see, I refuse to part with these silly things because one of these days Jesus might decide it's finally Grandma Hollywood's time. And I don't think she can send me dishcloths from Heaven. Sure, I'll still know that she loves me unconditionally, but it won't be the same as kissing her thinning cheek or watching the attendant wheel her from the gate as I meet her at the airport or seeing joy overcome her as she hands me a stack of dishcloths that she proudly made using all her remaining memory, muscle, and might.

There's simply no replacement for the tangible love of my Grandma Hollywood. And I'll cherish every last darn dishcloth just to feel it.

Non-Maternal Instincts

Nonmaternal Instinct

Originally posted in January, 2009

Before reading this post, please read Part One.

The Couch Escapade, Part Two

I know what you are thinking. I marched back into Value City and got all Edward Scissorhands on Dottie's beehive, leaving a foul-fingered masterpiece on top of her lady-lost-her-mind head of hair.

Oh, how I wish I could tell you that was true.

But remember I told you there was a blessing that came of all this? Well, there is a pretty, soft, buttery, oh-so-cozy ending to this escapade. That I promise.

So after my near-Towanda moment, I vowed to find the couch of my dreams.

That following weekend, we hit the stores - new and used (Yes, I said used. And before you haters judge, let me make two things clear: 1) We have a young son who travels with crumbs, drool, and boogies; a dog who tracks in dirt, mud, and critters; and a baby-on-the-way who will surely litter our home with spit-up stains and the occasional oops-I-missed-the-diaper; thus we have no need for a showroom piece of furniture, and 2) I aim to make green choices whenever I can - a used piece of furniture satisfies my favorite mantra - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!)

Not having much luck, I remembered that there was a JC Penny outlet store in a land far, far away. Okay, so the outlet was merely on the other side of town, but when your side of town contains over a dozen furniture stores and a few consignment shops, a 1/2 tank of gas for JC Penny is hard to justify. But like Veruca Salt wanted her Oompa Loompa NOW, I wanted a couch yesterday!

So here is how the JC Penny outlet works: every piece of furniture has a colored sticker on it. Each color corresponds with a percentage discount starting at 50% going up to 90%. We soon found several pretty, soft, buttery couches, all 50%-70% off! We were looking at $2000-$3000 couches selling easily for under $1000! Score.

One such couch was very much in stock. We found five of that same exact couch, but strangely a couple of them were 50% off, a couple were 60% off, and one was 70% off. Curious, indeed. We couldn't figure out why the one was so much cheaper, so we asked one of the I'd-rather-be-with-my-boyfriend sales gals. She said that the longer the couch sits in the store, the cheaper it is.

Uh, works for me!

We didn't have to think twice - we asked the darling little sales gal to put a SOLD tag on that bad boy. Before making the not-so-big-purchase-after-all, we made another loop around the outlet. While reveling in our bargain, a young family approached us.

"Excuse me, we saw you folks looking at that couch, and well, we looked at it too, but it appeared used. There's dog hair in the cushions."
Hmmm. Not sure what to say, "Um, thanks, we'll check it out."

Thinking he might be right, we moseyed our way back to the golden ticket and started the cavity search.

WHAT IS THIS? Dog Hair?! And crumbs?! Ewww! Thank God for the don't-let-'em-fool-ya angel who brought this travisty to our attention!

I frowned, hubs shrugged, but being the optimist that he is, he said, "well, we can still get this style couch for 100 bucks more, no biggie, let's go check the others."

Um, I should mention that the same mother who once embarassed me in the department store because she manipulated her way into a great bargain actually taught me a thing or two. And remember that Don't mess with the pregnant lady mentality? Well, it all kicked it.


I wasn't going to just buy the next couch because this one apparently was on it's ninth life.

So I flagged down the darlin' sales gal and showed her the results of our cavity search.
Poor girl, her expression couldn't have been more telling. 'Oh shoot' is a nice way of putting it.
Fortunately, she had a walkie talkie. Walkie talkies call managers. Managers mean, "I ain't paid enough to deal with this crap."

Manager appears. For the third time, I pry apart the cushions revealing the leftover sandwich and shaggy beast hairs hidden beneath.
Manager wasn't happy.
Manager was very unhappy with mystery employee who okayed this fine furnishing onto the sales floor. She gives us this spiel about "this should never of happened, these things are supposed to be sent back, I'm gonna find out who did this, and it ain't gonna be pretty."

Okay, fine, whatever, but here was my question, what happens when the couch is sent back (to where, JC Penny reject hell?)

"Oh, they're destroyed," replied Manager.

D-E-S-T-R-O-Y-E-D. What do you mean, like, insinuator-destroyed?

"Um, yeah, basically, but let me look at the ticket. I need to see that ticket."

She pulls the ticket, glances it over, and starts scribbling. It seemed very official with her big important pen and strong scribbles.

Then she comes close - real close-talker close. I could smell her sour cream potato chip breath. I could see her chin hairs. And she whispered, "I'll mark it down 90%."


Okay, this couch was originally $2000; 90% off made it $200. I don't care whose dog spent a week living the good life on its buttery goodness, that couch was SOLD (again)!

Once again, before the haters judge (and really, I know they're just jealous), the couch was probably returned to the original store then sent to the outlet. Because there were several others of the same make we knew that it wasn't a used couch from a previous season. If anything, it spent a week in some hungry man's living room, then it was returned.

I am SO not above that. Not to mention, we saved this beauty from fire and brimstone! We saved a couch! Not only did we get a holla-back-girl kinda deal, but I satisfied my desire to go green! Oh, ain't that just happy?!

Jesus loves me.

Non-Maternal Instincts

Nonmaternal Instinct

Originally posted in January, 2009

The Couch Escapade, Part One

This post doesn't necessarily belong under the category of non-maternal, but in some ways, it does.

Remember the movie Adventures in Babysitting? Great movie. Anyway, there is a line in that movie that I cannot repeat, but the gist of it is, "Don't mess with the babysitter."

The Couch Escapade is two-fold. It has a "Don't mess with the pregnant lady" mantra, and for any of us who have been pregnant or even menstrual, you know what I mean. When my hormones are whack, I DARE someone to cross me. I know that sounds harsh, but we have all been there (unfortunately for me and anyone who comes in contact with me, I'm going to be there for several more months, at least).

Secondly, the Couch Escapade is the story of a hidden blessing. I'll explain more about that later.

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you know that we have been in the market for a couch.

For those of you who do not follow me on twitter, we have been in the market for a couch.

Well, we bought a couch.

But that's the end of the story.

Let me start from the beginning.

Last week I went to Value City to look at furniture. Value City really isn't a city, it's just a store with well-priced furniture. And technically, all cities are value cities as they are all full of things with value, no? But I digress.

Value City was having a Leather Clearance Extravaganza {rolls eyes}. All that means was that they had some really ugly leather furniture on sale. And by really ugly, I mean fluorescent orange and lime green. It was gross. I don't know how they can call it a sale. They are going to have to pay people to take those couches. I'm not kidding about the colors. Go see for yourself. I guarantee those orange and green couches are still there.

Anyway, I did manage to find one set (everything was being sold in pairs) that I liked. It was brown, leather, and my style. But it was still out of our price range.

And that's when the lady with the bright-red bouffant entered my life. Oh, is she special! I'll call her, "Dottie."

Dottie and her big, red hair, saw that I was interested in the brown leather set. She saw me sitting on the couch, working my hiney into the soft pigskin. She spouted off a bit of information about the couches, "100% italian leather all-around," "blah, blah, blah."
I told her that I liked them, but we really weren't in the market for a set, and it was out of our price range.

That's when she got funny (first red flag - actually - the first red flag should have been the hair). She looked around, realized no one was looking, and then she pulled out her black book. I got nervous. I thought she was going to show me a list of all the men she had been with on that couch. I mean, she was acting really funny.

She showed me the black book. Inside was an ad that was set to hit the papers the next day. It advertised a special that was going on the next day. She was giddy. She said, "that set goes on clearance tomorrow," (I thought, is it not already on clearance? Whatever).

I asked, "what do you mean?"

She said, quoting the ad, "it is $200 cheaper starting tomorrow."


"Yep, but you'll have to get here first thing, that's our only one left."

Hmmmm, I thought to myself. Now that's not a bad price. And we could use both pieces, it just wasn't what we needed, per say.

So I pulled the, well-I-have-to-talk-with-my-husband card.

Though in the back of my head, I'm thinking, "This is a deal! I like extravaganzas!"

Dottie reminds me to be back first thing in the morning, and I tell her I like her hair okay.

Later that day, I see this ad on T.V., and it's for the same couch set, but the deal starts a different day, so I call Dottie.

She tells me that she misread the dates (second red flag) and the ad on T.V. is correct. She asks for my name and number, and she promises to call me to confirm this (she is a very confused lady).

She calls, she verifies, and we arrange to meet on a specified date and time for the exchange.

She whispered a lot on the phone, adding to the excitement of the deal. At times, I felt like I was arranging to buy something illegal, that's how secretive she was about the whole thing. I like living on the edge.

Sure enough, I show up to purchase the set, she starts ringing me up, and I notice that the price isn't reduced. I mention something. She acts confused (RED flag!). She says she'll be right back. I watch as the red bouffant enters the manager's office. She returns seconds later. It's not looking good. She seems disappointed. She seems very un-Dottie-ish.

And guess what? She failed to read the fine print in the ad (and I never thought to look at the ad closely myself; she was the one who worked there, after all). As it turns out, only the heinous orange and green couches were on clearance-clearance. The pretty, buttery, brown leather ones were not.

She gave me a look of, "don't you still want it?" I gave her a look of, "I'm going to hit you." I did not hit her. I did not key the furniture on my way out, although I considered it. I did not park in the back of the parking lot, waiting for her to leave the store, only to ruffle her feathers after her shift. Jesus intervened. Jesus made me turn around and walk away. Jesus told me to keep walking, if they were desperate, they would chase me. They did not chase me. I kept walking. I cursed. Jesus understood. I cursed again. Jesus said, "that's enough." I got in my car and had a mini temper tantrum. I repeated, over and over, as if Dottie was sitting next to me, "Don't mess with the pregnant lady. Don't mess with the pregnant lady."

I guess you could say that was my prayer. I think all the pregnant angels listened to me.

Because the story gets a lot better. I mean, it gets good. Like pregnant-lady-eating-fried-pickles-and-Rocky-Road-ice-cream-good.

But you'll have to wait for the delicious ending.

Rest assured, I'm sitting on a brand new, pretty, buttery, brown leather couch right now as I type. But you will have to wait until next week to find out how.