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Tracie Skarbo was motivated to write by her father, who was her biggest supporter. “He was always behind me, rallying me on with my writing. I would always see him with a book in hand. He gave me a great appreciation for the written word, and the power and responsibility that writers have to shape those who read their words. He also taught me to respect nature and to value the beauty within it; my reflections on my environment are just an extension of this.” Skarbo was raised on Vancouver Island and is working on her next two books.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jets, Fairies and Egg-salad Sandwiches

They were special times when we would pack up the yellow station wagon and go for the hour and a half trip up Island to my Grandma’s.  My brother and I would watch the landscape rush by with egg salad sandwiches in our thoughts.  Grandma made the best egg salad, served in huge Buns Master Kaisers, with pickles and Old Dutch potato chips on the side.  A glass of cold grape Kool-Aid in Tupperware cups to wash it all down. 

We would watch her prepare these as the adults caught up on the latest family news, our mouths salivating.   She had a glass cutting board with game birds on it, built into the countertop.  I can still remember the sound of the serrated knife she always used as she cut through the buns and hit the beveled top of the glass.  It was music to our ears.  Just like the constant sound of the jets taking off at the air base down the road.

I was always drawn to her living room, which was done in a Spanish motif.  Everything was in red and black, the woodstove in the corner, the furniture, the carpet; she even had a beautiful Spanish doll with black hair and vibrant blue eyes. 

After lunch we were allowed to play outside or find something else to do while the adults continued to visit.  I would watch the constant march of the big black Carpenter ants while my brother went out onto the long asphalt driveway beside the barn shaped house and raced his Hot Wheels.  I remember him crying when one of his favorite cars had veered off to the side, and did a huge jump into the bushes.  Our searches turned up nothing; it was lost to the Salal.   I wondered if the forest fairies would come and find it and play with it when we were gone.  Grandma’s house just seemed magical, the way it was back from the road, and surrounded by forest, it was a likely place for fairy to play. 

I remember constant smiles, and my grandparents ready mirth shining in their brilliant blue eyes, and Grandma taking her false teeth out in the downstairs bathroom and then making us laugh with her toothless funny faces. 

Grandma always had the best and most interesting things in her house, like the “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie.” sign in the downstairs bathroom.  In the upstairs bathroom there was lilac colored shag carpet, the only place I ever remember with carpet in the bathroom.  The books of shelves in the family room had a whole range of topics, ghosts, UFO’s and other strange things, and her six children would tease her about her constant purchases of the tabloids.  They also had cast heads of men on the walls, in all different kinds of professions, a sailor, a captain, a baker, just to name a few.  I was enthralled with these and could look at them for hours.  They seemed so life-like and full of detail.  Upstairs in the bedrooms there were slats of pine on the walls and the sloping ceilings, and when we stayed over, like the time the road washed out from a mudslide, and I couldn’t sleep, I would count the dark brown knots in the wood. 

I remember watching Grandma knitting when commercials came on TV, her old dog Brandy, and snowball her white cat with green eyes. 

I remember at night when it was time to leave, my dad, brother and I had to wait in the car for Mum and her long good-byes.  We would sit and listen to the singing bats and the peals of her laughter.  Then my brother and I, on the long drive home, would fall asleep in the back seat, dreaming of egg salad sandwiches, jets, and fairy.

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