Welcome to my new blog. Several bright people have suggested that one’s blog ought to have a theme. I’ve chosen a theme inspired by words one of my grandfathers once said—something that touched my spirit, something I saw in him that is in me too, and something that I believe enabled him to live, really live, for nearly ninety-nine years. It is especially fitting that this theme comes from my grandfather because he loved playing with words. He was a punster extraordinaire, and he showed me how delightful choosing words can be.
This grandfather lived in an apartment in New York City, originally with my grandmother, then, after she left the world, by himself, and later with some help.
The way my grandfather told it, my grandmother found the apartment in 1960. I loved that he used the word “found.” It indicated his acknowledgment of how clever she was and what good taste she had. The apartment was not lavish. The rooms were modest and comfortable, except for the kitchen, which was smaller than some closets I’ve had. I’m not talking about one of those modern closets that could be used as a small office. I’m talking about a kitchen so narrow that if you wanted to get to the far end and someone else was already in there, you’d have to ask them to step out of the room. But what was extraordinary about the apartment was that it had an expansive view and an ideal place to enjoy it—a terrace that spanned the apartment’s entire width.
As my grandfather was fond of mentioning, when my grandmother first showed him the apartment she expressed concern about the size of the kitchen. My grandfather’s response, and what I believe was his favorite part of the story, was: “The kitchen is small, but the terrace is large.” And so my clever grandparents moved into the apartment, my grandmother figured out how to work in its kitchen, and they enjoyed many fine occasions on its terrace.
I eventually came along and spent time on that terrace, first as a baby probably clutched closely on someone’s lap, then as a child peering through the frustratingly semi-opaque glass railing, and then as an adult. In those more recent years I found it an exceptional place to sit on a warm day, to listen to taxis, sirens, and chatter far below, and to enjoy city vistas, breezes, and good company. On one such day, when my grandfather was about ninety years old, we went out there for a sit and to admire the view. It was then he said to me: “I’ve lived here 35 years, and when I go out on the terrace, I’m still in awe.”
May we all keep our sense of awe as long as we are here. To me, noticing the awe-some is the joy in life. It impacts all my writing for children, it is powerful enough to get me out of most any funk (when I remember to look for it), and it is what I look forward to sharing here. And so I dub this my “Still in Awe Blog.” Thank you, Grandpa.
I will be checking back often. Looking forward to seeing your poetry soon as well.
Thank you, Stephen!
For any fans of the terrace that may stop by and be thinking, “hey, that terrace doesn’t have a glass railing!” The railing was changed to metal rails sometime after my childhood. Before that the railing was glass that was slightly scratched from the elements, at least by the time I was trying to look through it. My father recalls that it had a thin wire mesh inside. The metal rails both improved visibility and seemed more sturdy.
Great first blog entry. Not to be contrary, but I remember the comparison of the closets to the terrace, rather than the kitchen. It could be my memory or that he told the story different ways. Anyways, loved it. Xoxo
Thanks, Laurie. Your positive response means a lot to me. I told my mom about your memory regarding the closets. She remembers Grandma making comments about both the closets and the kitchen, and also guesses Grandpa told it both ways. I\’m loving revisiting these memories. Xoxo to you.
Welcome to the blogosphere! I enjoyed your memories today and look forward to reading more from you!
I was fortunate to visit the apartment and meet your grandpa telling jokes in his late nineties.
Karin- I LOVE your first entry. My family and I have fond memories of that terrace and the famous Red-tailed Hawk and the Central Park Regulars and your brilliant and endearing grandfather. Good to have you blogging!
Karin I just read this and it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!
Finding The Awe is key! And Sweet story too!
Loved rreading this thank you