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From the desk of Dora DePaoli: Grandma tales

March 16, 2001

I just spent a busy three-day weekend in Orange County with my daughter, Mary, and her husband, Dave, and their family.

I normally take a lunch to eat on the way at the rest area north of Oceanside. When I headed for the restrooms after having eaten this time, I noticed all of the restrooms were closed. It seems they were having some water problems. The final 45 minutes of my trip was a bit tense and not just because of the traffic. Every time I use the 405 freeway, I am grateful I don't have to drive it on a daily basis.

The first night I was with my kids I got to go to a mime performance at The Barclay in Irvine. It was with a bit of reluctance that I accompanied Mary and 7-year-old Devon. Mary is known to enjoy the unorthodox in theater. She assured me Mummenschanz, a visual-theater group, would be wonderful. She had seen the group three times over the years. I have never been crazy for miming, and I couldn't imagine a 90-minute performance without music or speaking. I should never have doubted Mary. The group was superb and did amazing things. The time flew by.


My 2-year-old grandson, Johnny, is a tough little guy. He will attempt anything Devon does. When I didn't move fast enough on the playground equipment he would quickly say, "Move Mimi!" Scrambling around the playground equipment for an hour or so a day took care of my aching back and sore neck. Crawling through the tunnels and going up and down slides took out the kinks. There is truth in my son Steve's oft-repeated adage, "muscle confusion." He frequently tells the rest of the family to vary their workouts for added benefit.

Mary often goes running in this park near the playground. One morning she discovered some idiot had driven on the wet grass and had run his car into a fence. She reported the vandalism to the police when she got home. The officer she spoke to asked if she happened to have the license of the car.

"As a matter of fact, I do," she replied. "His license plate fell off his car when he hit the fence. I've got it at my house."

Sunday morning I headed for Sunday school with Devon while Mary was getting dressed for church. Johnny was occupied with a favorite toy and Dave was at the grocery store. On his way home Dave spotted a man carrying Johnny a half block from their house. The pint-sized Harry Houdini had opened the front door and was walking down the sidewalk when the man spotted him. Right after church Dave went to Home Depot to get a door-safety device to prevent this from happening again.

That afternoon as I was glancing out the windows at the storm clouds, I spotted a pair of mallards in the swimming pool. They were probably seeking refuge from the storm and were attracted by a mallard decoy Dave has in the pool.

While taking Devon to school Mary and I got to visit her first-grade classroom. Apparently on Mondays students are allowed to share things with the class. One solemn little girl went to the front of the room. She was carrying a bronze-colored urn. Mary told me the little girl's grandmother had recently died and they might be her ashes. It seems the family is into cremation. The urn contained her dog's ashes. The teacher said, "That's a first," as she winked at us.

On my return trip to the Imperial Valley, I once again made record time when I discovered the rest areas at Buckman Springs and near Seeley were both closed. There seems to be a conspiracy afoot to make older women uncomfortable.

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