Prayer FLagsNot that many people call me on my cell phone at 7 in the morning. Near the top of the list would be my only granddaughter Judy, a West Point cadet who’s home for the summer and eager for an impromptu visit to escape the weekend predicted temperature of 110° in the San Joaquin Valley.

“Hi, G’ma, sorry for the short notice, but I was wondering if Krissi Gutsche and I could drive down and spend the day with you?”

“Sure, just a heads up though. Grampa’s got a bit of a cold. But I don’t haven’t anything on my calendar at all. We’d love to see you.”

“OK, see you in about three and a half hours!”

That definitely lit a fire under me to get crackin’ on an unfinished art project upstairs – finishing two prayer flags and creating a third for a conference in Switzerland I’m participating in soon. I was back downstairs rinsing out stencil brushes and water tubs when Judy knocked on the kitchen garden window.

Judy’s 23 year old travel companion, Krissi, is a family friend from Stuttgart, who has been studying abroad near Toronto this last year. After hitchhiking west across Canada and south through the Pacific Northwest, he is on the last leg of his journey back to Germany where he will finish his degree in environmental engineering. Shortly after he returns to Germany he will head out to Papau New Guinea for a six-week cross-cultural experience with Lost Tribes.

And of course, there was all the catching up to do with Judy’s second year at the academy where she’s racked up some pretty impressive test scores in physics, has fallen in love with forests through the sport of orienteering, and is becoming proficient in Persian.

This is not exclusively a grandmother bragging, just a little context to say that I spent the day with a couple of very accomplished, well-educated, globally conscious young adults. And that we spent an impromptu afternoon playing like kids. 

Having two extra prayer flags from the project I’d finished before they arrived, I asked if they’d like to stencil their own prayer flags. Well, yeah. But with a little hesitation about how accomplished they might be. An hour later after thoughtful choices of design and paint colors, both had created beautiful prayer flags. As seen above, Krissi’s will be a gift for his mother. Judy, returning for a second year, is leading a team from West Point on a short-term mission trip to Nicaragua later in the summer. She intends to use her flag as spiritual focus for the trip.

Then I coached Judy through the process of making cut-out sugar cookies, a favorite recipe from my side of the family. And a personal request of Colin, another West Point cadet and Judy’s boyfriend, who hoped she’d mail some to him during their long summer apart. (Ah, stirred a sweet memory of the fifty-two “deck of cards” cut-out cookies I baked for Robert, an avid bridge player at the time, while we were dating – fifty-two years ago!).  

On a whim, I asked them if they’d ever made shaving cream art. Their skepticism lead to amazement when I commandeered Grampa’s shaving cream, squirted a generous amount on a plastic placemat, drizzled food coloring on the shaving cream, stirred the colors together a bit, then pressed a piece of cover stock paper onto the amazing concoction. After pulling the paper off, I then squeegeed off the excess shaving cream. Voila! Magical marbleized paper. They were HOOKED!  

An hour and a half later the kitchen was filled with the perfumed fragrance of shaving cream. We’d wondered what if, tried variations on a theme, and laughed ourselves silly at the surprising results. The counter was covered with an amazing array of marbelized papers when Grampa wandered through to appreciate their artistry. As I discarded an empty shaving cream can and fished out a second he observed, “I could have shaved for a month with that can!” Ah, the impromptu sacrifices one makes for art!

Marbleized paperWhile most of the marbleized paper was printed on white cover stock, this lone yellow piece (not nearly the best of the lot) remained behind when Judy and Krissi took off to show their collective artwork to family and friends.

If you’ve had an impromptu opportunity to play like kids, what did you do? If you haven’t yet, what would you do?

Looking forward to hearing about your fun activities and ideas!



9 comments to Impromptu

  • Jan

    You get about a million Good Grandma point for that day!! Thanks for sharing.

  • judy alexandre

    good to it

  • Erin

    You will live a long time if you invest in play!

    What unfettered joy you gave to two “accomplished” young adults!

  • Linda young

    On the off chance I’m going to have a Grandchild, I’m going to take lessons from the “best in the business”. I’ve already learned the most important thing. PLAY,LAUGH,LOVE

  • Linda young

    Fifty two years – fifty two deck o cards- love is grand!


    What fun! Lucky kids!

  • Wanda Dziuk

    Lynne, I read about the prayer flags earlier and thought it would be a great project to do with my Bible study group that meets at my house. Can I get a copy of the newsletter somehow? I wrote down the words: explore, reveal, illumine, confess, trust, and submit, but not the details. I love to read and see the projects again. Wanda L Dziuk,

  • Deanna Bowling

    I’m so glad you had such a great time with your granddaughter. What brand of shaving cream does Robert use? I think I will bring him a gift.

  • Mary MacMichael

    So happy that you used the ARW craft! But maybe you already had that in your art knowledge! So good to play – do it every day!

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