Claire and Karma and the Red Tractor

When I’m with Claire, I question my growing-up church lessons about “original sin.” Claire is perfect in every way. It is the world that will make her imperfect. I apologize to every pastor who raised me and put me through catechism, but I don’t buy the dogma anymore. 

Claire was here in Podunkville today because her mom was getting a perm. Cass can get a really great hairstyle here for half the price she’d find in Steeltown.

We started out having lunch with some friends. Claire was a doll. She loved watching the other babies and toddlers, she ate her corn chowder baby food and drank her apple juice from a sippy cup, and when her mom left for her hair appointment, she just banged on the ledge of our booth and said, “AHHH!!!”

We stayed in the restaurant awhile with my friends, and then Claire and I went downtown with a mission to get to the post office to pick up a package. Our adventure started at the health-food store to see Pat, then we crossed the street to Michelle’s Café to show off a bit, and then we went to the hair salon. I’ll never get tired of the “oohs” and “ahhs” and the “Oh my god she has such big beautiful eyes!” compliments. 

We finally made it to the post office and then went home and played with the dogs, talked to Grandpa Larry and then retreated upstairs to my office to play and (hopefully) take a nap.

A year before Claire was conceived I dreamed of the time I’d introduce my grandchild to my office. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s filled with books and things dear. In between austere and ornate are several items that wouldn’t fetch a dime on eBay but mean the world to me; things I want to explain to Claire when she gets older, but for now are OK to chew on.

Under my grandmother’s cedar chest I store a box of children’s books that my friend Gail sent to me a few months ago. Claire likes the books, but she loves the Priority Mail box they came in even more. At least for now. Soon she’ll appreciate the books, but today let’s just say she’s had her share of “fiber.” Cardboard is mighty tasty to a 9-month-old. 

After the cardboard, I sat down on my office chair, picked up Claire, and put on on the computer. We watched videos and I pretended I knew the words to the songs. As Claire laid back on my chest, she sucked on her nook and dug her toes into my calves and rolled her fingers into my arms. Fifteen minutes later, she wanted to be put down and so we both sat on the floor and started to explore.


Nothing makes a baby happier than a clothes basket. I loaded it with her toys and my sunglasses, which she played with while we roamed downtown Podunkville, and she proceeded to stand up next to it and finally dump it over. Once dumped, though, she wandered off to my book shelves.

On my book shelves are books, of course, but also pieces from my past. Claire first grabbed the wooden plaque given to me by my brother, Marty. He’d painted on it a couple of mules and my name. He gave it to me for my 16th birthday, which was his 26th birthday since we share a birthday 10 years apart. I didn’t think that was such a good thing for Claire to play with so I put that up.


Then Claire found the tractor and my “Space 1999” lunchbox. I used to watch “Space 1999” on Sunday nights in our kitchen in 1975 at 11 p.m. on the 8”x8” black and white screen television. I was almost 12. The storyline intrigued me even though it was based on “2001: A Space Odyssey” and I had no idea what that was or who Stanley Kubrick was. All I know is that 33 years later, my granddaughter is banging on the “Space…” lunchbox and chanting, “Da da da…”

The tractor belonged to my late husband, Bruce. When he bought his very own International Harvester tractor back in 1982, the dealer gave him a “thank you” gift – a steel toy replica, which is now (of course) a collector’s item on eBay. Bruce displayed it on his desk in his bedroom and after he died, I kept it to remind me of the times we spent laying on his waterbed listening to the Moody Blues and Boston and talking about our future. Sure, Claire is now gnawing on the tires, but whenever I see that tractor I smile and remember the man I loved so much.


I introduced Claire to Korbel the teddy bear and she kind of liked him but wasn’t real impressed. That made me laugh. While I love Korbel, I’m not so in love with the guy who gave him to me. He hurt me worse than any guy has ever hurt me in my life (including Bruce dying), and so maybe Claire sensed it and thought, “Grammy, this bear doesn’t have good karma.” I won’t blame the bear for its giver’s insensitivity, but it’s cool to know Claire might be in touch with good energy and bad.

Claire is 9 months old and doesn’t need a whole lot of stuff to make her happy. She was just as content this afternoon running her fingers over the wicker slats of the clothes hamper and playing with the loose veneer of my grandmother’s cedar chest as she was watching Moose A. Moose singing “Neighborhood Parade” on And when it was time for a nap, she fell asleep in the crook of my arm as we laid on my bed with the window fans humming. I admit I napped for a few minutes, too, but mostly I just stared at Claire. You’d think I’d be used to her by now, but I’m still amazed by her presence.

That’s all I wanted to say. Just some stuff about Claire and my office and to share some photos. It’s summer and life if groovy.

2 thoughts on “Claire and Karma and the Red Tractor

  1. Awe, Claire is an absolute doll. She reminds me of my little girl who is now 8. It seems like she was Claire’s size yesterday. I noticed the Barnyard Dance book and I had to smile. That was one of my daughter’s favorite books and as many times as we read it…..I can still remember some of the words! Glad you’re enjoying your Summer with your beautiful grandbaby! 🙂

  2. This is a cute blog. I followed a link from your weight loss blog (you are very inspirational).
    You are making me homesick 🙂 It was fun to read about your day…I can just picture Main Street and the stores that are there (though many of them have changed since I left). My family is, in fact, heading back there tomorrow for vacation – to see my family and attend my 20th hs reunion. I can’t wait!! We live in California, which is beautiful, but I do miss the green rolling hills of western PA.
    My parents were good friends with Pat at the health food store way back when. Such a blast from the past. I’ve been in her store a couple of times on trips home…I really like it. Ah, the memories.

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