Big cats bring big dreams to Norristown zoo

Progress is measured in many ways.

When it comes to the Elmwood Park Zoo, progress is measured by a child’s memory.

Like others from Norristown and surrounding towns, the zoo was a regular activity. From my childhood memory – which can be spotty but contains beautiful recollections – the zoo was free and we deposited our donation into the “monkey’s mouth.” The eagle greeted us, then we circled to the gray mountain lion, and to a monkey who had no shame in his display of self-pleasure or butt scratching.

“It only does that for attention. If no one looked he would stop,” my mother reasoned, as her young daughter roared in laughter.

For parents, the zoo offered a close-by go-to entertainment option. The pond area at served as my mother’s favorite part since it meant a few minutes of peace. We fed the ducks and talked about what happened at school during the week. It was always at the end of our visit since we ended up lingering. The pond also housed to what I would learn was the meanest thing in Norristown, and that’s putting it nicely for print. The white swan.

In children’s literature, the white swan is what he ugly duckling turns into. I believed swans were supposed to be graceful creatures until the Elmwood Park Zoo swan bit me, and according to all my other friends, nipped their tiny fingers, too.

Call it a Norristown, “beak-tism.”

Consider me hooked on the zoo.

Over the years, I have spent spring and fall afternoons (not summer, I loathe the humidity) walking the familiar paths and visiting the zoo’s growing list of residents. The giraffe feedings make grown women (and men) giggle with childlike delight (but not as much as the monkey). The zoo offers more amusements like the Treetop Adventures but still maintains its boutique charm.

There are still spots to linger and those where ain’t nobody here but us chickens.

The zoo is one of my favorite spots and you will see me there waving to the giraffes and asking whomever I’m with to talk like the animal (if it could speak).cats

On Friday night, I attended the preview of the new cornerstone of the zoo, Trail of the Jaguar. Designed by the same architects involved with Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it is home to the zoo’s jaguar family – adults Zean and Inca, and newborn cubs Diego and Luna.

I knew well before Friday night President and CEO Albert Zone’s affection and enthusiasm for the zoo was infections.

“Being born and raised in Norristown, this zoo was very important to me,” said Zone. “We had a great previous director and a lot of support and that’s why it’s still here. When I had to the opportunity to get involved at the zoo it was like a dream come true. To come here every day is a gift. It’s the best office in the world. We have an amazing board and team.”

Perhaps Zone’s enthusiasm is due to his connection to Norristown and youth at the zoo. Or it could be his football mentality (Zone starred at Norristown High School) that is the driving force behind his constant push for better.

“Did you see the babies,” he gushes to guests.

They are adorable. When Luna, the female cub, emerged with her mother and brother, it only took only a few minutes to make her way onto the top perch of the exhibit.

You can’t fault him for sounding like a proud dad. Trail of the Jaguar broke ground in January 2016 and the zoo, like the jaguars is growing into their paws. It is the first of several projects under the Majestic Predators Capital Campaign. The zoo’s growth is not only obvious in attractions but numbers. In 2016, they welcomed 530,000 guests, a huge leap from 2011’s 114,000 guests.

“To know what the animals do for people…the way it touches them emotionally, it’s unreal,” commented Zone. “We will continue to build great exhibits especially when you see the quality of this one. What you are about to see is the future of Elmwood Park Zoo and the road we are traveling.”

The jaguars are a must-see attraction, and combined with the cubs knocked giraffes from the Number Two slot of my favorite animal. Regular readers of this column know my love of penguins and should be reassured they are still Number One. When I was five-years-old I asked Santa for a penguin and he brought me a stuffed penguin (which I still have). I have asked for a penguin every year since and Santa has worked hard to fulfill the request adopting penguins for me at the Philadelphia Zoo and Camden Aquarium.

Of course, I noticed that Elmwood Park Zoo does not possess my tuxedoed friends. At times, my love of penguins can border on fanatical but I had to do myself and my readers justice by asking Zone about the penguin possibility at zoo.

Since the zoo always has an eye on offering great experiences, penguins are on the radar but there are no definitive plans right now.

However, Zone hears my plea (and my offer to be penguin public relations/penguin ambassador/penguin writer/penguin feeder/anything penguin related.)

“We’ll see what we can do,” he said with sincerity.

Progress can longer be measured by a child’s memory. It’s measured by jaguars…and hopefully, one day, penguins.

 

Players, community to pay tribute to a Norristown coach and mentor

The game of football is finite.

One hundred yards.

Four quarters.

No career lasts forever, even though Tom Brady may test the limits.

But the camaraderie and lessons learned through football can be infinite.

In May 2016, longtime former Norristown High School head football coach passed away after a battle with cancer. Grove began as an assistant coach in 1968 and took over the head spot in 1976, which he held for 27 years, compiling a record of 209-98-6. After retirement, he joined friend and former Norristown assistant Mark Schmidt’s Neshaminy staff for eight years which was highlighted with the Redskins state championship in 2001. When Grove left Neshaminy, he still attended local football games on Friday nights. Throughout his coaching career, he received numerous college offers but chose to stay at Norristown. “There is just a connection between him and the kids and this where he is supposed to be,” said his wife, Peggy of the reason Grove stayed.

fullsizerender_1During his final days, a steady stream of former players and students visited Grove’s Phoenixville home to express how much he meant to them. They didn’t mention wins, losses, bench press numbers or grades. It was far beyond any statistics. It was the intangibles Grove possessed and built a football program on – accountability, responsibility, and loyalty. They weren’t limited to those who suited up on Friday nights; he passed on those qualities to his family, assistant coaches and students who had not interest or involvement in football.

Grove didn’t field a team, he built a program.

“It takes belief to keep it rolling. The kids have to believe in the system. They have to believe in the guy running the train. They believed what he said was going to be in their best interest and what we said was going to work, and usually it did,” said committee member Brian Kennedy who coached the offensive line from 1986 to 2002.

Said Mike Grove during an interview in May a few weeks before his father’s passing, “He was a father figure to a lot of kids who maybe didn’t have them.”

Many of Grove’s players have said, “I would do anything for Coach.” I’ve interviewed former players to write about their current professions and they, without provocation, mention the impact Grove had on their lives and the lessons – mainly discipline and camaraderie – upon which they base their own values.

“He was always more proud of what they did off the football field. He was proud of them becoming men in society. It meant everything to him,” said Mike Grove.

There is never a way to “pay someone back” who has impacted as many lives as Grove did during his tenure. Paying back also carries a sense that the transaction is finished. What Grove embodied through his coaching should be infinite. It should continue not only through a football program, but through building pride in school spirit and strengthening – and appreciating — the common bonds all Norristown Area High School alumni possess.

I’ve written multiple times about my love of the high school, offer my experience to the publications program and try to offer support in any way possible.

Recently, I’ve been a member of the planning committee for the 1st Annual Roger Grove Reunion and Golf Classic, which will take place on Friday, March 19th at the Jeffersonville Golf Club. Proceeds will go the Roger Grove Memorial Scholarship Fund which was established to fund higher education scholarships for three senior student athletes every year at Norristown Area and Neshaminy High schools.

I didn’t play a down of football for Grove. I entered Norristown High School after eight years at a small, Catholic school in 1995 as a shy, introverted nerd. The football team that year was ranked Number One in preseason state rankings. Sports are a universal language and even though my new school on Eagle Drive was a new world, I instantly felt a connection. I tried not to blush when I passed a football player wearing their jersey on Fridays (not that they would have noticed me, anyway). I spent Friday nights at Roosevelt Field because it was the place to be seen and the team was winning.

“The atmosphere when they made the playoffs in mid-nineties…the excitement level was unreal,” commented Kennedy. “Kids who did and didn’t play sports were excited. We talked it up and celebrated it. There was very little where they felt the players were on a pedestal. They blended in and were part of school in all aspects. They bought into academics and athletics.”

Grove didn’t much care for golf, a detail that hasn’t been lost on his sons, Mike and Dave and other members of the committee.

“His reaction to this event would be very funny. What he would embrace is alumni, past students and players coming together. He would love that,” said Mike Grove.

Just like Grove’s impact wasn’t just about the game of football, the event which bears his name isn’t just about golf. A reunion dinner will be open to golfers and non-golfers alike, with an auction, and perhaps most importantly, the chance to catch up with former classmates and teammates.

“It would make a big statement,” said Kennedy of those who were impacted by Grove supporting the event. “It would make a profound impact especially with Mrs. Grove being there to see it. It’s a chance for kids from across the different eras and classes to come together, share great memories and find out how many commonalities there were between the teams.”

Attendees of the dinner will also have an opportunity to see their donations in action. The first scholarship recipients will be in attendance, paying off on the characteristics that Grove, no doubt, would have heralded.

“Through this event, as well as the donations we’ve been receiving year-long, we want to recognize students – year after year — who are leaders, good citizens and positive role models in the hallways of their schools,” said committee member Mark Schmidt. “Those are the kids Roger would be most proud of, and that’s how we will make sure that his legacy lives on.”

 

 

 

ACPPA Community Art Center, Norristown, is a key to the future

Brain drain is a term for a significant emigration of educated or talented individuals. It’s often referred to on the city-level when college graduates leave after graduation. Educated individuals make for desirable employees. If their education includes arts and culture it gives them an appreciation of music, theater, galleries, and maybe even different cuisines.

On a local level, Norristown has a gem in the ACPPA Community Art Center on Haws Avenue. The job of a columnist/reporter doesn’t give much time to linger on a subject but after my visits to the center a few years ago, it left an impression. On the first trip, one wall was covered with Post-It’s with the typed words “I can change my community by,” with handwritten answers like: by cleaning up trash, being kind, and embracing differences.

The display served as an example of how ACPPA’s end goal is not create artists but instead, to develop good citizens of Norristown. The students, who range from 4 –14-years-old, are representative of Norristown with a mix of African-American, Caucasian, and Latino.

A resource like ACPPA should be valued, especially since it represents and serves its town as well as ACPPA does. I was disheartened to hear they are facing challenges.

“We’ve had challenges with our cash flow. We traditionally have had balanced budgets and budget surpluses but the money doesn’t necessarily come in evenly throughout the fourth quarters of the year. It’s been hard for our cash flow projections based on the irregularities,” said Michael Roberson Reid, Executive Director.

Yes, many non-profits (and people) face cash flow challenges. But it’s organizations like ACPPA that Norristown needs and deserves.

Many times I hear, “why can’t that happen in Norristown?”

This resource of arts, culture and place where kids develop their creativity is happening right now.

“Our kids are involved in activities, clubs and are the leaders in their schools. We’ve seen them grow up and mature into the next leaders of our community,” commented Stephanie De Simone, Director of Education. “There is much value to the arts. They are a universal language and can make everyone feel extremely included. For a child who is in school all day and doesn’t feel recognized or like they aren’t doing well, to be able to create something out of nothing…there is so much worth in that.”

ACPPA opened in 2008 with the mission of using the power of the arts and the creative process to help young people envision a positive future for themselves and gain the tools necessary to build a pathway to that future. Through music, dance, art, and theater classes, an after-school arts immersion program, and traveling arts workshops, ACPPA aims to improve the quality of people’s lives. ACPPA serves over 3,000 kids a year through programs such as Studio Arts classes which are offered for students aged two through adult in visual arts, dance, music, and drama. Creative After-school Alternatives (CASA) which local youth in 5th and 6th grades enroll in a free after-school initiative providing both homework assistance and interactive learning opportunities. The 2017 Summer ARTS Intensive, HogwARTS Camp of Creative Wizardry, will be inspired by the magical world created by author J.K. Rowling.

Sign me up for the camp, please. I can’t wait to be sorted into (not Slytherin, not Slytherin) Gryffindor.

Norristown’s 2016 Annual Report points to “Main Street Revitalization,” which includes a Downtown Retail Recruiter, who started working with Norristown to more facilitate the revitalization of downtown by attracting and retaining businesses that want to come to Norristown. Under the “Community: Arts and Culture,” section it says, “Norristown offers a rich cultural atmosphere unlike any other in the Philly suburbs.”

For Norristown’s revitalization and arts to be maintained and move forward, it must invest in its youngest members.

Through programs offered by organizations such as ACPPA, a child not only has a safe after school spot, they also get to learn something outside of what is on standardized tests. They can create. Perform. Interact with a diverse group of people.

Maybe one of them will open an art gallery on Main Street. Perhaps another is an aspiring designer and will sign a lease for her first boutique (filled with one-of-a-kind handbags, dresses, skirts, and jewelry) across the street from the Court House. The kid who dabbled in everything…he finished culinary school, traveled through Europe and is ready to open a thirty-seater that will draw foodies eager to see what he hype is about.

What if they don’t pursue a career in the arts?

They usually developed an appreciation of it.

I made more of a mess in ceramics than I did bowls. Only a mother would hang my drawings. Musically, I only sing in the car or shower.

It doesn’t mean I don’t spend my free time enjoying the trove of culture the Philadelphia area offers. Just because I can’t personally do it, doesn’t take away my interest.

Norristown’s vision for revitalization and its assets are spelled out in the Annual Report and touted by its leaders – Main Street Revitalization, Arts and Culture. A part of the foundation is the children who grow into educated, well-rounded citizens who are stakeholders and active members of the town that supported an organization like ACPPA which nourished their budding creativity.

Palm braiding isn’t always in the blood

My mother braids palm during the Lenten season and on Tuesday morning, my aunt, Anne Dearolf, was with a group of other volunteers in the basement of Holy Saviour Church. Ever the family historian, she told me how her, my other aunt Toni, and my father used to go the Children’s Mass on Sundays at 9 a.m. On Palm Sunday, they walked from the church to the 300 block of East Main Street where their grandfather (my great-grandfather) Anthony Scirica, taught them how to braid palm.

“It’s a very rewarding feeling to know I’m carrying on a tradition which is part of the church and part of our family,” said Dearolf who admitted she was more adept at the art as a child since her hands moved better.

I attended Holy Saviour School for eight years and am well aware of the forty days of Lent and the meaning of Palm Sunday which recalls Jesus entering Jerusalem where the people used palm to acclaim a great leader.

“The irony, off course, is five days after Palm Sunday is Good Friday,” explained Monsignor Charles Sangermano of Holy Saviour Church. “It’s a lesson about the fickleness of the crowd that acclaims you one day and condemns you the next.”

fullsizerenderI thought a drop of weaving was in the genes combined with the Catholic school experience, meant I would be able to at least braid a small piece of palm.

A kind, patient Maria Greco offered to show me the craft. She got two pieces and stapled them at the bottom for me to start.

“Bring it down. Bring it up,” she instructed.

Ok.

“Get the one behind it and bring it all around….”
Um…

Maybe there was a reason I never braided my Barbie’s hair. Maybe I should stick with what I know.

“Maria, you mentioned you go to a few different local churches to braid palm…”

“I call it my Lent duties. I don’t give up, I give back,” she explained. Greco started braiding twelve years ago at St. Patrick’s and her daughter and grandchildren also braid.

Holy Saviour Parish gets about thirty bundles of palm from the Archdiocese which are stripped then either braided into arrangements or given out on Palm Sunday. Twenty-five to forty volunteers fill the church’s basement during from the mornings and evenings in the week leading up to Sunday and a variety of palm arrangements are for sale (and usually sell out). The age of the weavers ranges from college students to ninety-year-olds.

“I enjoy it. It’s fun. I make whatever comes to my mind. The design is in the beauty of the eye. I teach other people. I can’t take it with me,” said Sue Fuschetta, who has been braiding palm for fifty years.

I ask a few people who are the best palm weavers, and they mention Rosemarie Wait and Sue Bellace who both demur from the compliment.

Wait claims patience is the secret to braiding which explains my failed attempt. However, she says, they can teach anyone to braid and offer classes on various nights.

“Every palm has a different way of talking to you. Once you start working with it, it guides you where to take it. It is the Lord’s inspiration. We all start with the same stalk but it all becomes different,” said Wait who has been at the craft since fifteen.

Music plays on low and the ladies (mostly…but there is a decent showing of men) are able to talk and braid. Some make small crosses, “boxes,” or roses while others make bouquet size arrangements.

“They are all beautiful. All the palms are different and everyone braids different.

It’s a neat craft. The first time I saw braided palm I knew it was something I wanted to do,” said Bellace.

Monsignor Sangermano makes a midmorning visit, greeting the parishioners by name. As pastor for fifteen years, he has seen the continuity from new people learning from seasoned vets.

“We certainty are very fortunate here,” he says. “I’m grateful to God and the people. It reminds us that this parish, with all of its history, isn’t a museum. It’s a living place where these things continue.”

Does he know how to braid palm?

“No,” he says sheepishly. “Much to my shame, all of these years I have been hesitant and didn’t have the confidence to learn.”

“Neither can I. It was funny how bad I was at it.”

“Katie, we’ll say we all have different talents.”

He’s right and so is Wait. The palm was talking to me. It told me to write about it instead of braid it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legoland in Plymouth presents a world in miniature

When in Rome….

When in LEGOLAND, get a kid’s perspective.

During a preview event for LEGOLAND Discovery Center at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, I enlisted the help of my friends Alex, 5, and Gavin, 4, to help explore the soon-to-be opened indoor LEGO playground which features 10 LEGO play zones, including MINILAND. Children of our longtime friends, the well-behaved boys always let me play with their toys when we visit. For those of you who are new to the column, my husband, Tom, and I are happily childfree.

Designed specifically for kids, and in a twist of the usual requirement for many places, adults must be accompanied by a child to visit the center. However, for the many Adult Fan’s of Legos (AFOLS) there will be Adult Nights.

img_6939img_6930 img_6964But LEGOLAND, and my visit with my two “junior reporters” was about kids and my own child-like awe.

The first thing kids will notice is the Imagination Express since it’s visible from the mall. However, once we entered the boys’ heads swung from side to side at the scene.

“Whoa!” I said taking it in.

Our first stop was MINILAND where iconic Philly landmarks were recreated with 1.5 million LEGO bricks. The creators of MINILAND did their homework and adults will love the details.

Tourists pose for pictures outside of City Hall. A horse drawn carriage takes a couple for a ride by Independence Mall. With the push of a button, Rocky climbs the steps of the Art Museum. Lines form outside of Pat’s and Geno’s. Both the football and baseball stadiums are represented complete with beer-pong playing tailgaters and a Porta Potty.

Gavin enjoyed the interactive race aspect of the Boathouse Row rendering. Alex watched in amazement as the trains and cars moved on the city streets.

“This is so cool. Watch. The LEGO fire truck stops at red lights!” I said.

“Look at the school bus,” Alex pointed out.

For me, and probably most adults, MINILAND is worth the price of admission.

Moving on from “mini” Philly, the boys pressed the bubble machine button about a hundred times. Kids may be more technologically advanced but bubbles will always be entertaining.

They didn’t seem too interested in the LEGO Racers and Build Test where you “test drive” your creation.

Then they saw Pirate Adventure Island.

“I want to ride the pirate ship!” Alex said.

It was the first request of the day from the super-mannerly pair so I happily accommodated. To board the LEGO-themed pirate ship you have to hit the height requirement. Alex easily made it and Gavin just barely. They shucked their shoes, hopped aboard and played for over twenty minutes.

Only set to last until noon, I wanted the kids to see the entire 33,000 square foot center. I promised them we could come back to the ship (and the LEGO pirate play area) before we left.

On our way to the 4-D cinema, we stopped at Heartlake City where Gavin picked all the horses he could out of the LEGO bins. Alex contently built his own little creation. Other kids gathered in the area and added pieces onto the already-built (amazing) LEGO creations.

“My brother plays with LEGOS more,” said Gavin. “But I like them.”

The 4-D show incorporated flurries of wind, rain, lightening and snow but it probably didn’t need it since the boys were more glued to the screen than I am during the last five minutes of Scandal.

“Ready to go on the ride? I asked.

Of course.

We (adults can ride with kids) hopped on the Imagination Express, an interactive ride where you use your magic wand to score points. I am happy to report I won since I always lose during the Toy Story ride in Disneyworld.

“Can we go back to pirate ship?” Gavin asked.

At that point, we walked though the center but did not stop at everything since I tried to let the kids be the guide on what they wanted to do. I despise over planned-we-have-to-do-everything-see-everything trips.

“I think Alex wants to see the Ninja LEGOS.”

“NINJAGO. I like them,” Alex said.

NINJAGO Training Camp had interactive build challenges and a Laser Maze. Most of the “older kids” flocked to this area. I didn’t “get” it but I’m not the target demographic.

As promised, we returned to the pirate ship, both boys’ favorite part of LEGOLAND.

“The pirate thing was my favorite,” said Gavin. “And next to it all of the LEGOS to play with.”

“The buildings (MINILAND) was the second best. But the pirate ship was the best,” said Alex, who especially enjoys Star Wars LEGOS. I think, and Alex would agree, a Star Wars area would be a fantastic future addition.

Our visit concluded at the LEGO store. Doesn’t it always at places like this? My junior reporters finished their job, just in time for their father to arrive to spot them ogling a $200 set.

“Thanks for help, boys,” I said before saying goodbye. “Tell your dad you want to have your birthday party here and invite me.”

 

Case study of an Italian-Catholic grandmother

Case study of an Italian-Catholic grandmother.

Submitted by: Katie Bambi Kohler

Subject: Mary Borzillo

Date(s) of study: March 17 – March 24

The following are key points and discoveries while observing the subject, Mary Borzillo a.k.a. “Gram,” “Grandmother,” “Mary Sue,” during her stay with her granddaughter, the submitter “Katie,” “angel,” “Katie Bambi.”

Gram won't tell you what she wants to eat. But she will never turn down a tuna zep.

Gram won’t tell you what she wants to eat. But she will never turn down a tuna zep.

1) The mass on EWTN starts the day. Some may need a cuppa’ Joe to get going. Cold brew coffee is my new boost of choice but Mary revs her engine by tuning into the mass with her rosary in one hand and prayer book in the other. Her prayer list is long and she has to get an early start.

2) Why use an app for that when you can use a saint. Saint Anthony isn’t the only player on her roster. She has a deep bench of saints she calls on for various intercessions.

Selling a house?

Bury a statue of St. Joseph in the yard.

Looking of Mr. Right?

St. Agnes is your wing woman.

Considering Lasik surgery?

Say hello to St. Lucy.

Padre Pio is her “Swiss Army Knife” of saints.

“We all have something different. I have arthritis. I have to work at it and do my exercises,” explained Grandmother. “He’s a good priest. They didn’t believe him when he had the stigmata.”

I haven’t had such schooling on the sainthood since my days at Holy Saviour when we dressed up as them and memorize their biography.

“But they aren’t going to tell you are going to be a millionaire in six months,” grandmother adds.

3) Subject proves to be masterful at the art of laundry. She isn’t able to make the steps to the basement in my house to work the washer and dryer so she beams with joy when I present her with a basket of clothes to be folded. Right now, every article of clothing, towel and sheet in my house is freshly laundered.

“It takes time to fold them and you don’t have the time,” Grandmother says of her laundry obsession. “Since I’m here. I don’t mind it. It’s like therapy. I like it. It makes it easier for you.”

Her pet peeve? Inside out clothes. Please turn them right side before you put them in the hamper.

“I just can’t wait to come here, angel. Being with you and your husband,” she says before taking a few seconds to think. “I like folding clothes here.”

Grandmother is also a master at bed making, tucking hospital corners so tight you can bounce a quarter off the mattress and dent the ceiling. I have literally never “slept tighter.”

4) Subject, at times, refuses to follow directions.

“Mary Sue,” I say, hoping my sweet tone will get her to listen. “Please rest. You did enough today. There can be one dish left in the sink.”

She tries to hide her smile but she can’t. She “accidentally” already did all the dishes. And folded the last basket of towels.

“Gram, you can’t accidentally do dishes or laundry,” I say. I don’t even want to do it on purpose.

“Sure you can. We aren’t all perfect. You have to let me know who’s perfect in this world.”

5) Back in her day…Subject still has her wits. Easily recalls details of early days growing up on Airy Street and then living on the 300 block of Main Street.

Subject refers to granddaughter at times as a “galavanter” because she travels further than a one-mile radius of her home.

“We weren’t allowed to go any further than the macaroni factory or if my mother sent us to the butcher shop it was the furthest we went. We never went down to arch street,” grandmother recalled.

6) Subject shows curiosity toward modern trends.

“What’s a hash tag?” she asks over breakfast. Tom and I were talking about something on Twitter yesterday so I know where the question comes from.

“What’s Wi-Fi?”

I don’t even know where to begin. Grandmother still has some difficulty operating a television remote control. Then the often-repeated line of, “ask your father,” pops into my head but it needs to be tweaked.

“Ask Tom when he comes home.”

7) No one loves, or listens to you, quite like your grandmother.

Subject listens and is enraptured with every word granddaughter says. A refreshing experience since communication with others seems to be distracted by a buzzing phone or half-hearted listening.

When put in an environment much different than her usual settings she adapted. Her vast knowledge of her granddaughter’s personality also helped ameliorate any tense moments.

“Katie Bambi! You’re tired and cranky. Take a nap,” she said over the weekend, stopping me in my tracks.

“It’s Katie Kohler and…I’m not cranky.”

“Look at your grandmother,” she said raising your pointer finger. “You’re irritable. Go lay down and you’ll feel better.”

With anything she says or does, it’s out of love. A love of a grandmother I am lucky to have and can only wish the same for you.

And I felt much better after the nap. It could have been the freshly washed sheets on the perfectly made bed, though.