Friday, June 3, 2011


So what are all those people doing standing there? They're playing what I call "poor man's golf" or "an activity for all ages to enjoy out on the lawn on a neither cold nor hot afternoon", in short Bocce Ball. 

 One person throws a small white ball, called a boccino, out on the lawn somewhere. Then everyone else takes turns throwing a colored wooden ball toward the boccino. Whichever ball lands closest to it gets a point for that team.
 In addition, any colored balls from that person's teammates, which have landed closer to the boccino than any ball from the opposing team also earn a point. If someone else's ball hits your perfectly placed one and knocks it away into neighboring yards, too bad.

Since each round must be played from the spot where the boccino rested last, each new throw causes the players to migrate.

It's a pleasant game for a warm evening...but I wouldn't rely on it for exercise.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Erratic, Luminous, Omen

The job of toy advertisers is to make toys look fun. Little children, beholding a picture of other children laughing and dancing wildly as they play with the toy,  are drawn to the promise of future thrills.  My grandson brought a new toy with him for this summer visit, and since the weather was warm, we had to try it out the first afternoon.

There is is: an inflatable ball connected to a hose.
In theory, the water flows through special channels on the outside of the ball, making it bounce erratically all over the grass, chase screaming children, and bring the joy of cooling sprays. Sitting quietly on the lawn, luminous in the summer heat, it did seem like something that would provide at least thirty minutes of gleeful entertainment.

But there were problems. First, the ball refused to dance all over; it just sat there and spewed water.
Ah! it seems the movements portrayed on the box were initiated by the children. In short, they had thrown it up into the air.

Now it's hard to grab and throw a sprinkler when your arms are "child-short". Zaya got around that problem by kicking the ball, an adaptation that worked--for a minute or two. Then the cord twisted; the water supple stopped; the ball just sat there.
It took five minutes for me to untwist the cord which was a convoluted mess. Finally, the water began to spout again while he kicked and shouted whee! (obviously something one was supposed to do while playing with toy--according to the picture on the outside of the box). Then the hose kinked and the water stopped. Zaya helped with the untwisting, shivering in the wind. This cycle was repeated about five times before he announced that he was tired, cold, and ready to do something else, like read a good Foxtrot comic book.  

Meanwhile, Mim had been observing the entire scenario from the dry safety of the porch swing, reluctant to get sprayed in the face. I feared her sad face was an omen of a melt-down to come, so  I consoled her with a promise that she could hook up the spray gun and water the flowers.

Zaya came and sat beside us. He had only one comment: "Dumber than advertised!"
At least he was still smiling.

The toy is sitting out on the grass. I'm using it to water the lawn on a rare, windless day in Western Oklahoma.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mim's Photography

 Mim's been taking pictures all week-end and I promised her we'd upload her pictures and look at them on my computer. Of course there are the usual blurry "I'm learning how to hold still when I shoot" pictures, and lots of "making funny faces" pictures, but among them are some excellent shots as well.

It becomes apparent almost immediately that her perspective is different. Grown-ups really look big when they are shot from a five-year-old's level.
 No, Art's head isn't about to crash into the ceiling, but it certainly looks like it.
 Her brother, Zaya, willingly poses for the camera. Years from now these pictures may show up in a senior slide show or in a "this was your life" album, but right now it's just fun.  I suggested that maybe it would be good to get the distorted, making-faces pictures out of their system so they wouldn't be tempted to post them to facebook when they were in junior high...but Carina said, "We'll see."
Most likely, with technology moving as quickly as it does anymore, there won't be a facebook; that will be an antiquated concept.

They found a long stick of bamboo. I didn't remember a bamboo plant being around there and thought the stick had most likely been thrown by the recent storms, as a large tornado had passed within a few miles of there, but Zaya said it was growing in the southwest corner of the property and he ought to know.
 Here's another shot of furniture--twin bunk beds that are really quite low, but somehow look high in this picture.

There were several rabbits hopping around behind the well house. Ashley and Mim were both snapping pictures. This time, Mim was steady with the camera, and the picture turned out fine.

 We all went for a walk and found lots of material for photographing. I'm including this one because I like the red color.
 Here's Turtle, mowing the lawn.
 Zaya took this picture of Mim with the bamboo pole. She's wearing the camera bag, but was willing to relinquish the camera for long enough to record this moment.
When we uploaded all her pictures, Mim helped me decide which ones to delete and which ones to post. She insisted on this one because she thought it looked "three-dimensional". I'm not sure what technique she used to capture it, but I suspect it's called "running out of batteries".

Monday, May 30, 2011

Questions and Answers

I'm keeping the grandchildren for a few days while their mom and dad go search for a house in the city where they are moving. Our conversations have been quite interesting. I'm trying to catch them as they actually happen, so you can experience them as "off the cuff" as I have.

Zaya:  "Grandma, do you know what makes radiation?"
Me:  "Nope. Haven't a clue. Do you?"
Zaya: "Well it's caused, take Uranium for instance, something triggers and it explodes and makes helium because of separating particles, two protons and two neutrons I think but I'm not sure."
Me: "It always produces helium?"
Zaya:"Well, if it's uranium. Anyway then it explodes and explodes and explodes and finally produces lead.
Me: "So is that why lead is poisonous?"
Zaya: "No, lead is not radioactive. Only all the molecules that exploded along the way are radioactive and their exploding makes radiation like in a nuclear power plant."
Grandma: "Where'd you learn all this?"
Zaya: "Library book."
Zaya: "Do you know how rigor mortis sets in?"
Grandma: "Yikes. Was that from a library book as well?"
Zaya: "No. Garfield."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Flock

They sit on Sunday morning all in rows,
Just close enough to nod, to touch, to talk.
The old ones graze,
the youngest scamper loudly.
They are the sheep, the lambs.
They are the flock.
It's been a fearsome week for some of them;
They've seen a wolf;
they've heard his howls at night..
And others suffered pain--they still endure it--but they smile and push the agony aside.
The headstrong try the fences, never settled.
The wounded hide from the balms they badly need.
My job is still to tend them, teach them, love them.
His mandate was that simple: Feed my Sheep.