Sunday, August 30, 2009

Before school starts: helpful hints.

Thank you Tessa:
I'm not sure I thanked Tessa at Anarealarmadillo for this wonderful award. If you do not know her, please hop along and visit her. There is a lot to learn about reaching out from the wonderful Tessa. And today, with schools starting in many places, we all need to reach out and help each other through.

This week, I wanted to reach out to all you mothers and fathers of school-age children.
School opens for many early in September; for some it has already open. Parents are probably concerned about lots of things when their youngsters start a new term. And this is a good time to share with you some little known nuggets of information.
1. Schools run on a very tight schedule and an even tighter budget. They deal with hundreds of children, hundreds of parents, and hundreds of employees. They are in a business run on precise schedules and even more precise rules. Do not bother them with silly questions during the busiest time of their year. Unless you want to be on their "watch these folks" list.
2.Your child is one of many. His/her welfare is important; his happiness is important; but not as important as you think. What is most important is that things run smoothly, everything and everyone in the appropriate place, and that your child knows how not to tip this delicate scale.
3. Follow the instructions sent to you regarding schedules, supplies, contacts, emergency numbers, etc. Schools do not like sending home stuff either. But, they do not have time to call you individually and remind you of these things. You may think that they should have all this information in their files/computers. They may not. So, for your child's welfare, send the information, follow the schedule, buy the right supplies, and do not call the school to find out information you have in your packets!
4. Schools have to survive with fewer resources every year. If they ask for volunteers to help, they need conscientious helpers. You might ask yourself what the heck are you paying taxes for, when you get all these requests to volunteer, to fundraise, to donate money and merchandise. Without volunteers, lots of events and opportunities for children would not take place.
5. Wait and see how your child is doing. If he/she tells you that he hates his classes, his seat mate, his lunch schedule, whatever he/she dislikes can wait to be discussed back at school. Your child needs to handle his/her discomfort. Ask what he can do to alleviate the problem. Yes. Not what the school can do to move him to another class, but what your child can do to tolerate the discomfort. Why? Because, in life, he will encounter many discomforts that he needs to handle. If mommy or school solves his problems, how will he learn? You can jump on me on this one. This one is tough.
I'm stopping here. You can gather your thoughts and vent back at me if you wish.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Sunday Walk to the Beach

Some people drive to the beach. Some people drive on the beach. Oregon allows that. Strange, isn't it? Fortunately, there are few people who do. But they do leave tell-tale signs.

I can walk to this beach, at Battle Rock, the site of an early battle between early explorers and the Rogue Indians. Only two explorers remained, escaping through the woods to tell others about the natives' disposition. There are signs about this battle; but nobody is proud of the results.

Some people never leave their cars; they park and take pictures, and admire the rock formations. They never get their feet wet.

Some prefer to sit by the lakeside picnic table/a step away from the Ocean and take in the tranquillity of the lake on sunny days.

It's Sunday, and a sunny, calm day for a walk to the beach. Out of my driveway, I can walk to three different places. Each time, I'm pinching myself, incredulous of my good luck. I walk to the beach to be in the presence of a bigger source of wisdom.

This place makes me feel blessed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weather Watching

This pine, and many more like it, are still standing on my property after centuries of Pacific Coast weather. If you have never heard of the Pacific Coast weather, stay tuned. I will be your eyes and ears, reporting to you live. Or, as long as I am alive.
We moved here Christmas 2002. Our family, the entire extended family, two married children and their spouses, an unmarried college student, and a then small grandchild, all roughing it in a four bedroom house barely supporting us. It felt as though we were stuck in the middle of nowhere. The local hardware store had one set of everything you needed; and a lot of things you were going to need, but didn't know it. We ended up returning to that store for lots of things, including rubber boots and buckets.
During our stay, it never stopped raining-a hard rain that came at you from everywhere, soaked you through and through in two minutes, and no type of covering was sufficient to keep you dry-, we lost power, including heat, lighting and cooking ability. The wind was hauling most of the day and all through the night. Shingles and branches and assorted debris was flying around and bumping into windows, doors, walls, roof. The Pacific was roiling and spilling over the sand dunes into the adjoining lake, threatening to smash our cottage into the abyss.
When the roads became passable, children began leaving. We drove the first set to the airport 150 miles away. The second set drove themselves back to California as well. Our youngest remained through the second week; he was rewarded by a beautiful, calm, sunny and dry week. He helped us collect the loose shingles, pile our broken branches and clean out our property.
He had been through an earthquake in 1994 when we lived in California. He knew about nature's fury; and he had developed a certain calm about it all, a certain stoicism and faith.
Every winter since, only he returns to spend Christmas with us, unafraid and untouched. The others have returned for shorter visits, under better conditions.
We know that with global warming the weather will change in many places. We all need to make adjustments and preparations.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to Port Orford...

This is my tired husband, ready to soak in the sea breeze and rest after a week of go, go , go.

In the morning hours, our lake, viewed from our deck, is a peaceful place, the ocean just over the dunes, cool breezes keeping us comfortable day and night. We missed this peacefulness during the girls' visit. It was fun having them; but it was also very tiring.

The look here is one of satisfaction. We did it; we had a great time at the Shakespeare Festival, at the beaches, at the zoo, at the various family reunions we shuffled to last week.

We're back home, just the two of us, two birds on a wire, or a ledge, getting ready to face another fall, winter and spring of rainy weather. The boat house needs painting, the deck must be washed and sealed, and the outdoor furniture needs to be brought in. But, not quite yet.
We are taking long beach walks, enjoying dry, sunny days.
Soon, school bells will ring and the world will return to another rhythm, that of work and study. Three of my children/spouses are in education; their work rhythm is well known to me. At the end of August, we all stock up at Staples, at Walmart, buying extra paper and pencils, not for ourselves, but for the children in our classrooms who might need such supplies. My husband volunteers for an organization that provides shoes for kids. And all over Oregon, in each mall, there are bins to collect coats for children for the cold and rainy months.
With employment down, and food and utilities taking such a big bite of a family's budget, it is important for all of us to give more, to be more generous, more understanding. Many people are unemployed or underemployed. My children in California who work for the state received pay cuts, in form of unpaid furloughs. They have to adjust their budgets accordingly.
The country is debating universal health care, and many people are confused and fearful. We know that something needs to be done, and costs need to be contained.
Come September, our representatives in Congress need to sit down and pass a health care bill that addresses our most pressing need.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A week with grandchildren

Our grandchild J, the one with black hair, and her friend N, the blond one, are two eight-graders who spent time with us this week. Their visit was a reality check for me and my husband.They had so much energy and so many ideas and opinions that we got a real shot in the arm, an update on today's tastes and hot topics.
Here's what we learned:
1. school life weighs heavily on teens; their major concern is to do well and to be liked by their teachers.
2. life is a game; the girls tested each other on the beach, in the car, on the race-track, on the golf course, at the theater, at the zoo. They tested their knowledge, their skills, their opinions.
3. teens are in their own world all the time, until something catches their attention. Most of the time, they express themselves quite openly, yet, aware that adults may be offended by their remarks.
4. they are worried about the future, about cost of commodities, about making good choices in life.
5. they are versatile, polite, adaptable and grateful.
In many ways, teens and seniors are alike:
1. We supported Jeanine as the ultimate winner in the show, "So You Think You Can Dance".
2. Italian food, hamburgers, pizza, salads and ice cream are our favorites.
3. We like private moments.
4. We enjoy preparing food. Correction: they like to make ice-cream and pudding.
5. We love beaches-running , jumping, combing, and photographing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back to Nature

When I'm not thinking about health care, I'm tending my garden, a mixture of wild woodland and cultivated grounds. If you followed my blog for a while, you remember that I had pictures from France that became my plan for a kitchen garden. So far, the place is verdant. I look forward to harvesting beans and garlic, and enjoying the lovely roses climbing the new arbor my hubby built for me. He also installed the drip system to water everything during our dry spells.
In the meantime, I look forward to a visit from my grandchild. See you all in a couple of weeks.