Inez Castor

Last weekend was a particularly harried time. I'm used to living alone, except for the huge goofy cat that still thinks he's feral, even while he's hacking up hairballs on my bed.

Ordinary weekends entail equal portions of piano practice and silence, fresh produce and pretzels. This makes it possible for me to tackle real life with enthusiasm on Monday morning.

But last weekend, my daughter Shannan came home from Eugene, Ore., plowing into my peaceful life like a truck bomb. Like her mother, she tends to have big ideas frosted with urgency. Everything has to happen now. The only problem is that Mom got old, and when blind-sided by big ideas and urgency, I tend to burst into tears.

The ringing willow

The current big idea was wonderful, and as a result of her efforts and those of the work crew she assembled, I no longer live in a tarpaper shack. My beloved old house has nice new siding.

After Shannan and company left, while I was out admiring the siding, a nearby willow tree rang. At first I thought perhaps it was time for the huggy jacket and soothing medication, in case I was becoming dangerous to myself or others. Willow trees are capable of many things, but I've never heard one ring before.

After fumbling around, I found a battered little green cell phone hanging in the tree. It seems that Miranda, my youngest grandchild, had seen her cell phone advertised as being andquot;for children from 5 to 8.andquot; Miranda is 9 years old, and so she was highly indignant. She now has a andquot;realandquot; cell phone.

For years Shannan has been trying to give me a cell phone. andquot;You could carry it in the garden,andquot; she says. But I don't want to be disturbed in the garden, and when something large falls on me, you can be sure that the phone would be well out of reach.

Nevertheless, I have a little green cell phone, a hand-me-down from Miranda so simple even I can figure it out. It's programmed to call four separate numbers and 911, which is about all anyone really needs.


During the weekend work project, the two people most likely to cause trouble were sent away to play, and so Miranda and I wandered along the beach tasting salty rocks. I highly recommend the activity on many levels.

It's not absolutely necessary to taste rocks, but if you have grandchildren, spend a bit of time with them. You'll be amazed at the misconceptions children acquire from TV and video games, from friends and conversations they've over-heard and misunderstood.

With just a little effort, you can help a child to see that the pile of fly-covered feathers on the beach isn't really a horrible, scary thing, but simply an empty cormorant. You can replace the stuff of nightmares with a biology lesson.

And perhaps you'll be blessed with a phone you can carry in the car in case of emergencies. But remember to plug it in every night, or you won't be able to share your emergency.

Reach Inez Castor, a long-time Triplicate columnist, at