The Houses

Once upon a time, when Grammy was a little girl, before she ever was a Grammy, and everyone still called her Paula Jean, she lived in a little yellow house with her mama and daddy.

Sometimes, on Saturday, Paula Jean’s daddy would go to work, and she and her mama would walk downtown. They walked because her daddy took their car to work, and anyway, her mama didn’t know how to drive.

Paula Jean didn’t mind walking because it really wasn’t very far, and she liked looking at all the houses that they passed on their way to downtown. Each house was different and they all looked interesting. Paula Jean wondered what they were like on the inside, and she wondered who lived in each one.

One of the houses had large white columns on the wide front porch that went all the way across the front of the house. There was the one that looked like a house that fairies would live in because it had a front door that curved in a half circle at the top, while another of the houses had two front doors side by side.

A tall, fat, perfectly shaped Blue Spruce–sort of a blue Christmas tree– grew in front of one of the houses and was so big, Paula Jean couldn’t really see the front door to that house because it was hidden by the blue tree. On the front porch of another house, was a porch swing. It looked all comfortable and inviting with pillows and cushions piled in it. Paula Jean was sure it was the kind of swing you could sit in and read your favorite books or just daydream while swinging back and forth. Then there was the house that had a large round window right in front that acted more like a mirror than a window because it reflected the trees and sky and everything outside the house so that you could never really see through it. And of course, there was the house that had a little wooden bridge that led from the sidewalk, across a tiny creek, over to the yard that surrounded the house. It seemed the house lived on its very own island.

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Paula Jean always tried to decide which house was her favorite, but there was something special about each one, so she could never decide which one she liked the best. She liked all of them the best.

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Poky, Pink Rollers

Once upon a time before Grammy was a Grammy and everybody still called her Paula Jean, she lived with her mama and daddy in a small yellow house. Paula Jean slept in the bedroom at the end of the hall, and her mama and daddy slept in the bedroom next to the kitchen.

One night, her mama and daddy had already gone to bed, but Paula Jean was still awake, because she was thinking about tomorrow. Tomorrow was Easter, and she had a new dress and new shoes that she was going to wear to church. Paula Jean imagined her new clothes would look perfect if she had curly hair. The trouble was, her hair was very straight, and if it was going to be curly, it had to be wound around those awful poky, pink rollers that had sharp plastic sticks to hold them in place on her head. Paula Jean knew she wouldn’t sleep very well if she had the poky, pink rollers in her hair, because they were alll prickly against her head when she lay on her pillow. She had to put her hands “just so” under her neck and on the side of her face so her head didn’t lean against the pillow. It was hard to fall asleep that way. But that was the way to get curly hair, so she’d just have to put up with it.

And that wasn’t even the biggest problem. Paula Jean wasn’t very good at winding her hair around the poky, pink rollers. Her hair was slippery and slid off the roller and got away from her fingers while she was trying to wrap it around and around. Her hair did not want to cooperate. It wanted to be straight and get a good night’s sleep. And her fingers! Well, she would need trick fingers–circus fingers–to put the poky pink rollers in her hair. Trying to do the hair on the back of her head was the worst, because she couldn’t see what was going on. She just had to guess, so some of the hair got rolled, some didn’t, and all of it was crooked.

Paula Jean was in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, arguing with her hair and the poky, pink rollers, trying to get them to go along with her plan for curly hair. No matter how hard she tried, the poky, pink rollers wouldn’t stay in her hair, or they would get snarled and crooked, with hair sticking out every which way. Paula Jean was so disappointed she began to cry.

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That’s when she heard her daddy say to her mama, “Why don’t you go fix her hair.”

Mama came into the bathroom, took out all the poky, pink rollers and put them all back in again, straight and neat, with her circus fingers.

Paula Jean said, “Thank you, Mama,” and went to bed with her hands “just so” under her neck and the side of her face and dreamed of curly hair, which is just what she had that Easter morning.

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Paula J Wray