Why Delaware is the World’s #1 Vacation Spot

When I was little, some people’s families would go to Disneyland–or Cancun, or Florida–anywhere more exciting than Delaware. But looking back there was no place I would have rather spent my childhood summers than this little house on Rt. 1. 
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Once, when I was wee, and Pop was unpacking groceries, Gam asked,

“Pop–did you remember the Jello?”

“The what?”

“The Jello. J – E  – L L – O! (Sung like old commercial jingle.)

“Oh–I knew I forgot something.”

Gam threw her hands in the air and sang, “O – S  – HI  – T!”

When life gives you Ensure…

Mom is convinced that her mother-in-law–for however much longer we’re blessed to have her with us–is going to start eating healthy.

Good luck with that.

Today, my cousin Laura went over to visit–where my mom was trying to funnel a glass of Ensure down Gam’s throat under the guise of a strawberry milkshake.

Mom asked, “Do you like the strawberry?”

Gam nodded yes.

Then mom left the room.

As soon as the coast was clear, Gam handed the glass to Laura and said, “Quick! Take a few sips of this stuff for me so she’ll think I drank it!”

“Gam, you don’t like it?”

“I’ll never tell!”

Then she tried to get Laura to hide the cheese danish they gave her in her “bloomers.”


“Even on the rough days,” Laura told me, “she still has me cracking up.”

This is a valuable life lesson.

When life gives you Ensure . . . make your granddaughter drink it for you.

Patito’s Big Day Out

Last week, Gam’s duck came to work with me. CSK is an equal opportunity employer.

(Even though Gam can’t see these photos, my mom can tell her about them.)

So here we go.


This was Patito’s first day on the job. He was really excited. But a little nervous.

Mostly about pooping on the floor.

Here he is helping Lori design a really cool logo.

He had some great ideas. This is his “I’m thinking” pose.

He’s an outside-the-coop thinker.

He also did some consulting and synergizing and strategery.

He’s a pretty good art director.

Until he got a little frustrated and took matters into his own beak.

That was a little awkward. Lori took it well, though.

He even test-drove our scooters to make sure they were up to code.

Then he did some sunning on the deck with his best friend, Abrielle. He liked her pink shiny skirt.

We finished the day with happy hour at Jack Quinn’s. But they didn’t let Patito inside.

(They have a shirt/shoes policy.)

But he did get to go home with Leah and Jon–after she asked.

This is what the conversation sounded like on Leah’s end of the phone:

“Honey, can I bring a duck home tonight?

A duck.

A duck. Like, quack quack?

Yes it’s a real one.

No, he isn’t potty trained.”

Patito and Leah had fun. But Jon said he couldn’t stay.

Thanks for letting us borrow your duck,Gam. It was a great day!

Grandma’s Magic Refrigerator, Part II

This is the most recent addition to Gam’s magic refrigerator prayer list. 

Right away, you’ll notice four things:

  1. I’ve been booted.
  2. I’ve been booted in place off “baby chicks” and “3 mallard eggs.”
  3. Gam’s got friends named Agatha and Gertrude (and Claire Comalli, and Sarah Shapirro, and Marie Paradise. They already sound like they could get into trouble. If you made a movie about the Ladies of Riddle Village, you just couldn’t make up better names if you tried.)
  4. Did you notice I was booted?

Every morning, at 7:45, my mom had been calling Gam on the way to work–giving her updates on the annual batch of baby ducks she and her kindergarten class were hatching.

If there’s one thing my mom and my Gam have in common (besides “not taking any bullshit from anyone) it’s love of nature and animals. Which is the main reason Gam looked forward to her updates. The main reason I was booted from her magic refrigerator prayer list. And the main reason she still will not shut up about the duck.

 “Where’s my duck?

“When is your mother bringing me that duck?”

“I need that duck!”

“I want my duck!!”

You really can’t blame her. He’s really cute.

There’s not many things that can top being shaken awake at 2 a.m. by sound of your grandma’s voice calling for help, and flying out of bed in a half-asleep stupor–only to be asked, “Where’s my duck?”

Or to squeeze her hand tight, and whisper, “I love you,” and to hear “Me too. And my duck.”

Or to greet her first thing in the morning–and see her happy face fade to a scowl as she realizes that you are, yet again, duckless.

And to see a hospice nurse emerge from the bedroom with a concerned “how in the world am I going to say this . . . I think she is beginning to lose it” face.

(with a wince) “Your grandma . . . well . . . she thinks that she has a duck.”

“She does.”

[Cricket cricket cricket]


“Oh–no. He’s in Colorado. His name is Patito.”

She looks at me funny.

So I brief her. And sweet Danine laughs and relaxes and says, “Girl, please, you have to get that duck here! What are you waiting for? The woman needs her duck!”

Mom brought her a beanie baby version. Although everyone thinks that we need to find some sort of “rent a duck” option from a farm before she dies–even if its just for the afternoon. It would make her happy.

And “the woman needs her duck.”

No More Dumb Diapers

Sometimes when you don’t know what to say, you sing.  

It was 3 in the morning, and it had been a rough night. And I don’t know why I picked this particular song, but I did–and she remembered.

She mouthed the words with me. Couldn’t believe she remembered.

When I was wee, I remember marching around the living room in our old Ambler house with my Grandma. We were celebrating. There was marching and singing and a plastic drum and a parade. I remember her waving her arms like a drum majorette. Potty training is a big deal, I guess–so much so that she made me my very own parade song.

“No more dumb diapers!

No more dumb diapers!

No more dumb diapers!

We’re wearing big girl pants!”

And I don’t know why, but I sang it to her–and her eyes lit up a bit, and she sang with me.

We sang it a couple times.

She even wanted to sing it for the nurse that came to help with a tough evening.

If an 83-year-old woman and a 30-year-old woman singing about diapers and “big girl pants” makes you tear up, you’re either very tired or extremely perceptive. I think this nurse was the latter.