Inspired by the $5 Starbucks drink and my much craftier sisters, I made my own green tea lemonade. For the perfect summer drink, you just need to grab two ingredients. I’m sure you can guess what they are:
My grandmother has had Alzheimer’s for the past several years. I’m told that she’s dying and doesn’t have much time left. My family has been sending me pictures and updates while I’ve been away and it has me thinking of the past.
We have always called her Grandmother. Everyone did, even if she wasn’t their grandmother. I never thought anything of it. In hindsight it sounds pretty formal and proper. I suppose she was in her own way. At the table, if we didn’t want to eat something, she wanted us to say “I don’t like it, but I’ll eat it anyway” and when we wanted to get up but others were still seated we had to ask, “May I be excused?”
She and my grandfather traveled the world and valued experiences over things. I don’t think they bought or replaced any one thing unless it was absolutely necessary, but went to every continent except Antartica. They would come back from their trips and show all of us grandkids slides of the photos they took. There’s over 40 boxes of slides, each with travel notes. When I went home for Christmas, we watched a few of them with her even though she wasn’t aware of what was going on. It brought back memories of being in awe of the far away places I saw while staring up at the projector screen in the living room of their house. I’m sure it had something to do with the fact I chose Egypt as the first place to try out my new passport.
Grandmother was an artist. We would draw and paint at her house and she would show us things she had done in the past. She had a pile of paintings and drawings in the attic. She would also take us on nature walks and we’d press the flowers and plants in between pages of an old phone book. She had a box of old clothes and kimonos for us to put on, clomp around the house, and of course get our picture taken. We heard her ‘wap, wap’ on her gigantic loom in the warm basement and saw the amazing rugs she made with it. The garden that took up half the yard was filled with food and flowers, and all I ever saw her use was the little trowel in her gardening gloves. She invented ice cream soup, which was fruit mixed with slightly melted ice cream. Her homemade ice tea was Grandmothers Ice Tea; there was nothing like it and if you didn’t grow up on it, you probably weren’t into it.
She made us laugh. She said “tinkle” and “plupas” when referring to going to the bathroom. We scrunched up our nose when she put olive oil on her face. She had a very distinct way of clearing her throat and placing her hands while praying that we would try to imitate. Her daily exercises were unlike anything we had ever seen and we were sure she had made them up herself. We heard she swam every morning the backyard pool was open, even when it was freezing out, sometimes in her birthday suit??
Summers growing up were spent at her and my grandfathers house. They had a pool and there always seemed to be tons of kids over. She would be outside, in her big sun hat. Her ice tea, the ice cream soup, and watermelon slices were always there too. We knew only to go inside if we were all dried off and only if we had to go to the bathroom. After we were done swimming, all the toys had to be fished out of the pool and the towels in the bath house – not hung up over the railings.
Grandmother knew a lot of things. She had this notebook with all sorts of lists and facts. She taught me how to write out and say Japanese numbers. I still remember them. She did the crossword every day to keep her mind sharp. I remember her telling us that it was important to exercise your brain, and that Alzheimer’s ran in her family so she wanted to do whatever she could to fight it. It came on slowly and took over until it now leaves her all but lifeless. I’m not there to see the worst of it now, but I have been remembering the good times and I think that is what she would want us all to do.
Update: Grandmother passed away just two days after writing this, on March 28, 2016.
Last March, my friend Parms* and I went on a 900 mile road trip to ski and snowboard. I was living in Chicago at the time and was itching to be in the mountains. She was having a not-so-stellar winter in New England and wanted that pow.
We met each other in Salt Lake City, rented a car and skied and snowboarded at 3 mountains in 3 states: Snowbird (UT), Sun Valley (ID) and Jackson Hole (WY). We stayed 3 days in Utah, 5 days in Idaho, and 5 days in Jackson Hole. We both work remotely so we were able to work in between being on the mountain, in the car, exploring the towns, and just hanging out.
*Her real name is Cheryl, but my friends and I call her Parms.
My dad and I redid a 1987 VW Vanagon last year. We (well, mostly he) did quite a bit on it and continues to be a work in progress. He was itching to go on another road trip and I had to be in Utah for work. I think you can guess what happened next.
He started driving from CT to my place in Chicago. He stayed the night and we got up on Sunday, said goodbye to Emi and hit the open road.
We knew we wanted to see Jackson Hole and Yellowstone and he had a flight out of SLC on Saturday, but other than that we didn’t have much of a plan. This is my favorite way to travel and well, to live. To have just enough of an idea of where you are going and things you want to accomplish while leaving plenty of room for “things” to happen.
Day 1: Chicago to South Dakota
The flatlands. Illinois > Wisconsin > Minnesota > South Dakota
It’s normal to go on a road trip with your dad when you’re 31, ya?
My dad woke up early and started driving. I laid in bed for a while. Perks of van living.
Sometimes working from home can be quiet. Too quiet. And some days I don’t want to leave and go to a coffee shop, meet up with a friend, or go somewhere. I like being home.
So I’ll put something on. I’ll listen to music, usually something with few to no words when coding, planning, and discussing. I put on a podcast while designing because there’s something comforting about a human voice when you are home alone.
And then there’s Mumble Meetings.
I have two very close friends who also work from home. We are all in different states, working for different companies, and every so often our schedules sync up and we have a Mumble Meeting. Basically we all jump on a video chat and just work. I guess you could call it virtual co-working. (We say mumble because we mutter to ourselves under our breath when we work.) We click away at our keyboards and trackpads, we vent, we catch up, we help each other out. Its a great way to break up the day and it has the added side effect of staying in touch with long distance friends.
The box said it was for ages 14 and up. I decided to show my 4-year-old nephew how to fly my little drone anyways. And by fly I mean just to use the up and down throttle. He eventually figured out if he moved the same control a bit to either side he could spin it as well.
Hours of entertainment. Well, until a few propellers broke. Related: We are both now eagerly awaiting new propellers.
“Did the flying things come yet? Does the mailman know?”
My dad is an auto mechanic. Growing up I spent many days in his shop, learning how to change oil, use a grease gun, clean parts, and pay the bills.
I liked listening to the interaction between customers and the mechanics. There was one lesson I learned that has stayed with me.
Tell me the problem, not how you think I should fix it.
Meaning: the mechanics don’t want to hear your solution to your car’s problem. They want to hear what is wrong. They are the experts. Let them figure it out.
As I got into art and design, I’ve learned this is true in my line of work as well. It really applies to any type of feedback. The receiver benefits far more from hearing the what rather than the how. At the same time, the giver stands to learn something new.