Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Memoir Monday: “Being A Grandparent” by Jane Scott

My husband Drew and I leave the Las Vegas Motor Coach Resort at ten o’clock in the morning to care for our four grandchildren. Their hard working and responsible parents are taking a much needed vacation to Hawaii for eight days.

We arrive to their beautiful three level home south of Salt Lake City, Utah., after two days or wrenching, vomiting and pooping it all out in the motor home. We are not sure if it was food poisoning or an immobilizing virus, and what does it matter? Lots of things do not matter now. I am weak, vulnerable, and dizzy after not eating for a couple of days. Grandpa Drew is happy he is beginning to get a brief glimpse of feeling hungry again.

Drew’s daughter has prepared a beautiful Easter dinner of spiral cut ham with a sweet sauce, twice baked buttery potatoes and asparagus. She is especially proud of her cupcakes straight out of Martha Stewart’s magazine with little Easter symbols on top of the lime custard whipped cream, featuring bunnies, eggs, carrots and other decorations welcoming Spring.

I know it must have all been delicious. I have no recollection of eating anything at all, but I do recall the lingering smells and the feeling of delight that we were present to join our children and grandchildren for Easter dinner.

I am certain I hugged and kissed each precious little heart and soul and body of our four grandchildren. The five year old greeted me with strep throat and an invitation to pour his pink medicine. Our eleven year old granddaughter was barefoot due to a lingering foot fungus. The fourteen month old baby was cutting teeth and grieving being weaned from his mother’s breast for two weeks. And, finally, our seven year old has a bad attitude. Slowly, but surely, in the next few days, each of these “gifts” appeared in the bodies of two sixty-five year olds, and it would not be pretty.

Babalu and Lola, our seven year old poodles, are mesmerized with all the activity. Lola learns quickly to run upstairs and hide in her bed which she has moved under the bed where Drew and I are sleeping. Having pulled a buttock muscle lifting the baby out of his crib, I am restless and unable to find comfort.  I can walk up and down the three flights of stairs if I hold onto the rail. Thank God for a strong upper body. My self-made prescription is to stop lifting the baby out of his crib and carry nothing weighing over five pounds.  Drew is not happy.

Grocery shopping is Drew’s salvation. Every morning after Mr. Brown Trail/Yellow Pond, our new nickname for the baby, goes down for his nap, Drew comes into the kitchen. “Let’s make a list,” he says. We proceed to make a list long enough to give Drew his desired time away and alone. As a nice side benefit, our daughter will have enough canned goods and paper products for a year by the time we leave.

We are now two days into our grand parenting adventure. My throat is raw and scratchy. I call my doctor from afar begging for a Z pack, some decongestant, and whatever else he recommends for adults who are sleeping in the same house with four children. One day later, Drew has the same symptoms and I am more than happy to share my meds.  We are walking around in a virus infested, bacteria filled, fungus producing 4,000 square foot house, unable to open doors and windows since the rain and wind and cold have blessed us each day of the visit.

With a couple of days remaining, we begin to gather our belongings. We chat with the children each night at dinner about how each feels about our performance so far. The ratings on a scale of 1-10 range anywhere from 5-9.5. Our granddaughter offers, “It’s going ok, but you may be getting a little too old.” And, the seven year old continues, “I’m not sure you know that much about children.” Drew reminds them I have a master’s degree in child development. Not one of them is impressed.

I love these children and their parents who want us to become more involved in their lives, but I now know why God did not give me kids. I can barely take care of myself. I would have been one of those moms who did something awful to her children in a flight of desperation. I would have lied to my family and friends and neighbors about how wonderful the kids were doing and how I loved being their mother. I would have failed miserably.

For each of you who has actually birthed or adopted a child, reared that child to adulthood and continues to function in mind and spirit, you deserve a place in heaven, no matter what awful things you may think or do for the rest of your life.

Our requested grand parenting responsibilities are over for now and we are alive and well enough. May each of us have stories to tell and memories to last a lifetime.


©Jane Scott 2014


Jane Scott writes for pleasure, self-reflection and humor. The more she writes, the more she recalls stories to share with family and friends.


Memoir Monday: “Me, Dale and Buttermilk” by Drew Scott

Every fall a group of Houston businessmen host the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo. The entertainment over the years has ranged from Gene Autry to Elvis Presley, Mary Chapin Carpenter to Garth Brooks. They came, they sang, they left with their money, never to give their stay in Houston a second thought. Perhaps 1952 was a different story.

In 1952, the headline attraction was Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I was five years old, and Roy Rogers was my idol. I had RR chaps, cap gun, boots, hat and, well, you get the picture. I sang “Happy Trails to You” all the time, even in the conservative presence of our Episcopal Minister W. Peter Nye, a tall skinny man with a long neck and bald head who cared not at all for children in general or their precocious behavior. He did love to come to our house on Sunday afternoon, not for the visitation of flock, but for the strong martinis my Father made. Happy Trails to you!

Back to Roy and Dale. My Grandmother Mumum bought tickets to the Rodeo and kept the performance a surprise until a week or so before the event. She left a flyer for the Rodeo announcing Roy and Dale’s appearance on my Mother’s dining table. She knew I was always searching for food, and the table was the first place I looked. I spotted the flyer and ran into the kitchen pretending to be Roy astride Trigger. Was I excited? Yep! My Father explained Roy and Dale were appearing at the Rodeo and Mumum had tickets for her and me to go. The event was five days away. I barely slept.

The morning I was to see my idols in the flesh, I woke up early and put on every article of cowboy duds I possessed. I was ready.

Because Mumum loved to shop and dine in Houston, she knew her way over the thirty miles from her home in Goose Creek to the towers of downtown Houston with her eyes closed. She parked her 1950 Plymouth Deluxe sedan in the Houston Coliseum parking lot, and we walked the short distance to the arena. I still remember entering the Coliseum and seeing the caverness floor of the arena covered in sand. And it smelled a little funny, but I did not care the least. It was not long before the fun began when the horses and riders of the Harris County Mounted Posse galloped around the arena. The riders held large flags and the sand was flying.

The first event was bull riding, enjoyable enough, but I wanted Roy and Dale. Mumum knew I was not at all present, so she hailed a vendor to joggle my attention with a hot dog and a huge soda. The hot dog went quickly. The soda took a little longer until the suction sound reverberated on the bottom of the cup.

I returned to my seat just in time to see the spotlight focus on the center of the arena. As the opening lines of a song I did not recognize rang out, they appeared. Roy on Trigger and Dale on Buttermilk. I was on the verge of delirium tremens and high on sugar. I don’t remember much of the performance, but I do remember what followed.

Roy and Dale started riding against the wall of the arena shaking hands with all the little Buckaroos. I was just a few rows from the wall, so I positioned myself perfectly to be seen and touched by my Stars. Slowly they made their way around the arena, Dale in front on Buttermilk and Roy following on Trigger. When the procession was half-way around the arena and just feet from me, I reached out my hand as far as I could. I was ready. I was going to touch THEM! They were right in front of me when Buttermilk brushed my hand with her nose and looked straight at me! I was beside myself. And then, for reasons better known by my five year old self, I responded by poking my index finger straight into Buttermilk’s right nostril.

All hell broke loose. Roy and Dale shouted. The horses whinnied. The Duo departed.

As a record played “Happy Trails,” they rode to the center of the arena and rode out of my life forever. But that was not the end of it. Next came the collective moans of kids at the rail waiting to be touched by the Stars. “What did you do? You made them leave!” they cried and pointed to me.

I commenced my walk of shame back to my seat. Mumum had not seen what happened, but a man said to her gesturing to me, “Did you see what the kid did to that horse?” I was numb. Mumum knew what we needed to do. We promptly exited the arena

That ended my rodeo experience, but not my devotion to Roy and Dale.  Puberty took care of that.

©2014 Drew Scott 

Drew Scott was raised in Goose Creek, Texas. He and his wife Jane Scott live in Santa Fe with their two poodles. “With each story, I allow myself to visit the people and places who helped make me the man I am today at age sixty-seven,” says Drew. “Pretty cool stuff!”

A New Day

Greetings!  Time and tides pretty much picked me up and turned me around for the last few months, but I have landed now, ready to reboot Under Santa Fe Skies, if you will have me. Here is the plan.

Every Monday is now officially Memoir Monday when I will post a story written by one of my writing students. Trust me, you will thank me. My Thursday-ish post will focus on Santa Fe and environs. And blog star Georgia the Dog will put paws to keys and write her Ask Georgia column whenever she feels the urge or you send her a question.

I made one resolution for 2014:  Be happy. I know cultivating happiness is an inside job. I do. I also know that writing and reading the stories of others gets me half the way there.

So Happier New Year to you all. See you on Memoir Monday.