Since school in my county doesn't take back in (doesn't that sound Southern? I've been practicing all day!) until January the freaking 9th and I have to, you know, work to pay the mortgage and all, my children are visiting my grandmother in Virginia.
My grandmother and my mother are absolutely nothing alike. Now, my mother and my great-grandmother (yes, she's still alive and kicking at the age of 95!) are just exactly alike. People like me and my grandmother frighten and alarm people like my mother and great-grandmother.
My mother and great-grandmother always look just so. Hair is done, outfits are just right and appropriately accessorized. My grandmother is lucky if she remembers to comb her hair and if her socks match. I'm lucky if I REMEMBER to wear socks. Today, I forgot.
My grandmother is one of my favorite people alive, as evidenced by this photograph:
Incidentally, I don't know I'm making that face. I think I was just really freaking sick of having my picture made, not that my grandma's head tasted bad or anything.
On Monday, when we arrived at my grandma's house she was thrilled to see us. Within twenty minutes of our arriving she had dragged to the center of the room a large, industrial strength nutcracker. Which she had mounted on a table. (She probably welded it on herself, truth be told) She invited my small daughter to come over and crack some black walnuts.
I'm not sure if you are familiar with black walnuts, but the outer shell? It's much like a large sheet of really hard plastic. Covered by steel. Those suckers are really difficult to crack. This, apparently, was why she had this industrial strength nutcracker. She's awesome like that.
My daughter, all fifty-two pounds of her, was leaning on the nutcracker with both hands. I think she might have even had a foot up there. My grandmother had to help her lean into it so it would break.
Visions of my daughters fingers flying through the air danced in my head. What flew by my head was black walnut shells. One pinged me in the ear and I had several in my hair.
I suddenly remembered why I adored my grandmother so much.
This is the woman who let us ride down the stairs on cookie sheets.
This is the woman who lives on the side of a freaking mountain on top of a HIGHWAY and let us play on said mountain with total disregard for our safety.
This is the woman who has a big yellow school bus in her backyard for the kids to play in. She gleefully told me she had found a snake out there once.
All the reasons I loved her as a child scare the ever-loving CRAP out of me as a mother.