I, like most other bloggers, I think, have been fortunate enough to meet – if only online – all sorts of wonderful people. It's a good medium for me, actually. I was rather shy as a child, and I still am not one to enter a room of strangers and become friends with them all instantly. I am approachable, I think, but I hesitate to approach. Unfortunate, I know, and I've no doubt missed out on all sorts of wonderful relationships and experiences as a result, but, well, the past is the past and there's no point in regrets.
Anyway, one of these wonderful people is a woman out in Texas named Judith.
She reads my blog, I read hers, and her daughter's. She won a cookbook I gave away one time, and she sent me her mother's booklet of canning recipes. And recently she emailed me to say she was sending a package to Julia.
Several days later, a box arrived in the mail.
And inside the box?
But not just any Barbies.
These Barbies haven't been played with in something like twenty years, I believe.
6 of them are Native American Barbies, each one differently and completely clad in all sorts of tribal garb, complete with moccasins. No heels! My kind of Barbies. Two of them also have babies.
The other one is "Arctic Barbie" – just looking at her makes me need a big glass of ice water – she's wearing a heavy parka, furry around the edge of the hood, and mukluks.
I'm sure they are collectible items. Perhaps they could have sold for gobs of money. Some Barbie collector somewhere could have the 7 of them displayed together on a shelf. Just standing there.
But instead, they are here.
Because Judith thought Julia would like them and enjoy playing with them.
Julia was beside herself. She looked at each one, checked out the jewelry ("They're all wearing a ring!") and the earrings (nice dangly ones!) and fell in love with the babies (one girl, one boy). She loves their long, dark hair, and their brown skin. She loves the differentness and the sameness.
Then she brought them all downstairs to meet the original Barbie population. And then she realized one Barbie was missing. Pink Fairy Barbie was still upstairs in her bedroom for some reason. So she needed to bring the rest of them up two flights to where their house is and so Pink Fairy Barbie could meet the new members of the clan.
I gave her a big pink shopping bag and she filled it and carried them all upstairs.
The next morning I had Julia write and draw a thank you card. She used her best Kindergarten handwriting, and she decorated the card with drawings of flowers and butterflies.
The other day I was in the dining room working at the table, and Julia brought the newest Barbies down to keep me company. I asked questions, and Julia told me all about them.
"They're all sisters and cousins. And these are the babies! They used to live in a different place, but now they're here! Where they lived, they didn't have…a Statue of Liberty…but now…they do!"
"What are their names?"
(now the Barbies spoke)
"We don't remember our names!"
"You don't? That's unusual."
"Oh, wait, NOW we remember!"
"Okay, what are your names?"
A pause. Then, "My name is Elizabeth!" "My name is Emily!"
"Don't you have…Indian names?"
Another pause. "My name is……………..Samara!"
"And my name is…Kaitlyn!"
And so on.
It's my understanding now that the newly arrived Barbies are sisters to each other and cousins to all the other Barbies that Julia had originally.
Well, and there's also Boy Barbie. It's not Ken. He's a teenager. I've seen other versions of him in stores wearing prom garb. Julia calls him David, when she calls him anything. He, apparently, is the boyfriend.
She's got twenty Barbies now, including the babies and Boy Barbie a.k.a. David.
A wealth of Barbies.
And a wealth of kindness brought them here.
Thank you, Judith.
I hope we get to meet one day.
And I especially hope Julia gets to meet you, and say thank you in person.
Bill's eldest brother, Ray, is here with us for a few days. The kids are delighted and constantly elbowing each other out of the way to get his attention. We're planning a trip to Seattle, so the kids can visit Uncle Ray and Auntie Nina on their turf and – very important – visit Woodland Park Zoo, which is more commonly known in this house as "Uncle Ray's Zoo."
But right now, Ray is here, and the kids try not to split him in two, though they come close, each tugging an arm, repeating "Uncle Ray! Uncle Ray!" in order to get his full attention every five minutes.
Well, maybe it's not that violent. But still.
The other day, Alex and Ray played catch in the back yard.
I've mentioned Alex's ever-increasing love of baseball and devotion to the Red Sox, right?
Well, Ray has not only played baseball as a kid and into early adulthood, but he has also coached little league. So the simple game of catch became a one-on-one training session for Alex.
And he loved it. Soaked up every word, every tip, every bit of advice.
Uncle Ray was out there, injured (torn tendon, if I remember right) foot in a boot-like cast, throwing to Alex and coaching him. For ages, it seemed, until he needed to put his foot up and ice it for a bit.
He didn't have to.
He could have just kept his foot up with an ice pack on the whole time.
Alex is already improving, too. Moving a little differently, running in to grab ground balls, using his weight to add momentum to a throw.
But, of course, it's not completely about technique, though Alex doesn't know this yet.
Eventually he will understand that the real gift was the time spent, and Uncle Ray's complete attention.
For now, though, it's enough that Alex is soaking up advice and trying to decide what position he'll play, and looking forward to the day when the Sox call him up from Pawtucket.