Things My Grandfather Taught Me: Sing Silly Songs


Grampa grew up in the days when you made your own entertainment.
No television, computers, video games or cellphones – just imagination, conversation and radio.
I remember the few times Grampa and Gramma took us “to the cabin” on vacation.
We’d travel for hours (seemed like days to us, but was probably closer to four hours).
Grampa would entertain us and lead us in the singing of silly songs.
We’d chant “99 bottles of beer on the wall,”  warble about marching ants, and laugh through choruses of monkeys and goats.

My favourites went like this:

“Ain’t gonna rain no more, no more.
Ain’t gonna rain no more.
How in the heck can I wash my neck
If it ain’t gonna rain no more?”

“Peanut sittin’ on a railroad track;
his heart was all a-flutter.
Train came from around the bend:
Toot! Toot! Peanut butter.”

“Oh, the lady in the bathtub,
she was so skinny, you know,
that when she let the water out
she went right down the hole.”

Grampa sang silly songs LONG before there was a cucumber named Larry who sang them.
I, in turn, taught silly songs to my kids and (Lord-willing) will be a Gramma who sings silly songs!

“Do your ears hang low; do they wobble to and fro?  Can you tie them in a knot?  Can you tie them in a bow . . .”

“I’m a nut . . . I’m a nut . . . I’m a nut!!

Things My Grandfather Taught Me: Naps aren’t just for five year olds.



I can’t decide if I’m a night owl or a morning person.
I like both.
Best for me is to go to bed at midnight and get up at 5.
But with five hours of sleep a night, I have a mid-day “slump.”

I remember when Grampa confided to the doctor that he was often awake at night and then falling asleep on the couch during the day.  He was told that this is quite common, in fact absolutely normal.  The doctor told Grampa not to toss and turn in bed and worry about missing sleep; rather get up, read the paper, have a drink of milk (non-fat powdered stuff *shiver*) and go back to bed when sleepiness returns.  And little twenty minute naps throughout the day are supposed to be very healthy and quite beneficial.

I had it drummed into me from an early age that naps are for preschoolers.  Adult napping is a complete waste of time.  So Grampa’s advice ran contrary to what i had always heard.  And the problem with my naps: they turn into hours and hours of a comatose state.  Then I awake feeling grumpy, groggy and miserable.

Lately, though, Grampa’s short snoozes seem to make more and more sense.
So if you walk into my office midday and find me with my head in my hands, I am most likely taking Grampa’s advice and catching 40 winks.

Things My Grandfather Taught Me: Get the disagreeable tasks out of the way first.

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When I have work to do I often do not heed this particular bit of Grampa’s wisdom.

I iron on Tuesday nights.  I am not particularly fond of ironing,
but ironing is not the worst thing in the world.
Well, with the possible exception of ironing PANTS!

Given Grampa’s philosophy and teaching, you’d think that I would start with the pairs of pants and then move to the other stuff.  But no, I can’t face the pants so early in the evening.  So I begin with (wait for it) handkerchiefs.  Then I go on to the nearly permi-press shirts.   Next it is the 100% (or nearly) shirts which are wrinkled beyond recognition.
AND THEN I am ready to tackle the pants.

I do the same thing with the dishes — I wash the silverware last.
Schoolwork — marking at the end.
Housework — vacuuming as a finale.

Anything disagreeable — I put it off as long as I can.
Maybe the world will end before I get to those trousers!

Things My Grandfather Taught Me: A positive attitude makes the work lighter.

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bert and mary

Bert always reminded me a bit of Grampa.

There are always going to be things that we HAVE to do
which aren’t particularly savoury.
Grampa was a bit like Mary Poppins when it came to disagreeable tasks.
He couldn’t make things fly around the room and put themselves away,
however he believed he was responsible for his own attitude,
and that a positive attitude made the chore (and the surrounding people)
much more palatable.
Sometimes Grampa would sing while he worked.
Often he would hum.
And usually his attitude was infectious,
and before long others would join in the work.

Grampa could make the most boring exercise quite interesting.

Things My Grandfather Taught Me: Laugh at least once a day.

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reader's digest laughter the best medicine


One of Grampa’s favourite things in the Reader’s Digest magazines (which he would pick up for a song in neighbourhood garage sales) was the column “Laughter is the Best Medicine.”  Grampa contended that laughter is good for one’s general health and he loved to read humorous stories which he believed were (for the most part) true.

Here is an example of one of those RD stories:
A fellow walked into a drugstore and headed to the back to speak to the pharmacist.
“Do you have anything for hiccups?” he asked.
Without warning, the pharmacist reached over and gave the man a sharp smack on the shoulder.
“Did that help?” he inquired.
“I don’t know,” the startled man replied. “I’ll have to ask my wife. She’s waiting in the car.”

Grampa seemed to have a story for every occasion.  And a smile that went with it!

Things My Grandfather Taught Me: Clean up messes.

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I am a mess-maker of note.
When I get stuck into a project there are pieces of that project all around the house.
My problem is that I am a better mess-maker than I am a mess-cleaner.

Grampa was a firm believer in cleaning up messes, especially, but not only, one’s own.
Quite often, when Grampa was in the middle of something, he would clean as he went,
so by the time he got to the end of whatever it was he was doing, there was relatively little to put away.

I remember walking with him one day down Trestle Glen Road to the mailbox.  What seemed like miles to me then, I realise now in adulthood was actually half a kilometre.  As we walked we talked about school, friends, future.  I noticed Grampa would stop and bend down every few paces or so.  Grampa was busy picking up rubbish.  Whenever we reached a bin Grampa would make a large deposit.

Grampa, I’ve concluded, not only cleaned up his own messes, but also cleaned up the messes of others.

Things My Grandfather Taught Me: Be content with what you’ve got.

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when life gives you lemons . . .

when life gives you lemons . . .

Grampa counted his blessings and always came out, as he said, ahead.
He was grateful for everything he had and he expressed that gratitude.

I once asked him what he’d do if he were given his pick of careers.
He stopped and thought for a while.
There were many things he thought he might like, but he wasn’t sure that he would appreciate them if he had to make a living from them.
He told me that he’d enjoyed his job and that things are mostly what you make them.

There were many aspects of Grampa’s life that, were I to walk in his shoes, I would grumble about.  But Grampa’s philosophy was to look at the positive and to be happy with what you’ve been given.

He was the original Lemonade-Maker.  And his lemonade was delicious!


pic found at: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/old%20fashioned%20lemonade

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