Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nico and Me

 Nico and me

Oh, I know what this means to you, a bragging grandmother talking about her grandchild! No, this post is not about his alertness and cuteness, his wonderful smell, his smiles, his singing along...
It is not even on the way he recognizes me after an absence....

What I will  tell you is how my grandchild Nico has invaded my life, and my dreams, and everything I do. Just walking through Barnes and Noble, I scour shelves for books he may not already have, toys he can begin to appreciate, mobiles he can engage with.

....I will not tell you how as I walk and sing to him, he sings back; his head moves toward me to see my lips; his legs push up and down in rhythm with the beat of the song....

I will tell you how I move differently when I cuddle and rock him; how I stand firmer and taller because I want to make sure he's well supported; how I sing made-up words about what life is like the minute we're together; how we burp after a meal; how happy we are to recognize each other; how we dream long dreams about each other; how strong our legs are; how everyone around us, new or old discusses and appreciates every little change they see.

Nico does not know this now: His smile are just the vitamins I need to live two more decades; to see him through kindergarten; to see him through high school. He'll tell his girlfriend, as they walk down to pick up their diploma:
"That lady there who can't stop smiling at me, she is ninety years young!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Am I blending in?

Water is the ultimate medium.
It has power to soothe, to destroy, to awe.
This is Elk Creek Fall behind me, a short walk from a county road by Powers, Oregon, the reward after an hour drive up a winding road.
Here, I'm congruent with each step I take, each breath I inhale, muscle aches reining my enthusiasm.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When do you know it's time?

I've been aware of certain signs, the currents and moods
of each circumstance that separates me from the mainstream of life.
It started a few years ago, after my son died, when I began to have trouble clearing my
thoughts enough to stay on topic.

I thought that was a good time to quit.

I started another blog; and yet another. But, I stopped writing my personal pieces.
I joined a new organization and waited to see if my life turned around, if my own circumstances
were ready for a change. Daily, thoughts of quitting bubbled up at inopportune times, as right at this moment when instead of taking a photo of the beautiful walking path in Eugene by the Willamette River, I took a selfie.  Disgusted with my lack of abilities, I turned off the camera and buried it in my pocket.

I used to love taking pictures and talking about my world.
I used to love writing about everything.

How do we know when to move on?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Learning styles.

The picture above is of my son Brian (1980-2011).

Early in my teaching career, I was assigned to teach English at a junior high in East LA, a suburb of Los Angeles where newly arrived immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico crowded the local schools.

I picked up enough Spanish to have casual conversations with my students. More than fifty percent of them were born in the US, but their education had not been constant. Often, families would spend months visiting relatives in their homeland, and by the time the child returned to school. the curriculum and course of study had moved on.

I learned a great deal about students' lives at that time, but not enough to change how  hos ineffective I was as a teacher. I assigned, covered the material, and gave grades. When the children failed to turn in homework, I asked no questions. I just punished them with a fail for each missing assignment. They had earned whatever grade they earned because they had not done their homework, and had not studied enough for their tests.

Years later, my son Brian taught me the biggest lesson I would ever learn. Though a very bright child, he would complain that his teacher assigned work, but never showed them how to do it.  You see, he was a  kinestetic learner, taking things apart to see how they worked, rather than opening a manual and reading the instructions one line at a time. He had followed his older siblings around the house, trying to imitate what they were doing, not afraid to make mistakes and trusting his instincts. He had been socialized to do things together.  Going to a quiet room  to get a page of homework finished was not an easy task for him.

I, on the other hand, believed all knowledge comes from books, and following intricate instructions, practicing each skill before attempting bigger tasks was the way to go.

Brian learned to read  by constructing models of cars, planes, looking at pictures, identifying parts and functions and by trial and error to get the assembly together and functioning. At the end of the task, he could read every word in the manual.  We cooked and wrote recipes down at the end of the meal, each ingredient's name memorized and spelled correctly. Brian would often volunteer to fix anything around the house. He loved competitions and as a member of his high school Academic Decathlon Team, he brought  home team and individual gold medals. His curiosity was boundless. We were not surprised when he decided to major in Physics in college.  His father and I fed his imagination and provided many opportunities for him.

I wonder how many parents and teachers are still naive as I was, expecting their children to learn and succeed the way they did.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rainy Day Blues

Thursday, March 6, 2014, early morning.

The storm last night is fading, after thunder and lightening scared the cat and sent her to hide in the recesses of a closet somewhere. Sheets of water smudged all windows on the south-side, on the east-side, the north. The trash bin waiting to be picked up managed to stay upright, surprising us all. We have a day of rain ahead of us, and twelve, nay, fifteen hours to entertain ourselves.

First, coffee and breakfast. Hubby volunteered to make caponata and eggs after the cat woke him, around five or so. He had planned to cook and had told me ahead of time. Only, he heard that I was sick of eggs and skipped the egg when he served me. No problem. Caponata is a rich stew of wonderful veggies, so rich that your tongue will keep on singing praises to the chef for hours.

The Weather Channel app on my Samsung Android which I keep right by my bed, in case there is a Tsunami and we have to hightail out of the house in the middle of the night, by way of the garage, and our well-stocked SUV always ready for any weather, then up to Coast Guard Hill a good seven minutes away by car, that app. announced its downloading somewhere in the middle of the night, waking the household even before the rain and the winds began pounding the windows and the rooftop.

Great! I thought. In an hour or two I can take a very long walk to the beach to check up on last night's damage. (passing the time means stretching all activities including the aforementioned walk to the beach which might take all morning.)

No need to rush anywhere on such a day. Our house is full of food, cooked and raw. We can survive for days with our canned, frozen and fresh food. But, if we lose electricity, something that happens rarely, we do have wood to provide heat in the fireplace, and cellular phones to stay in touch and call for emergency.

Without electricity, however, I couldn't be writing leisurely as I'm doing right now. Or reading at length in a dark place as my living room is now. Without electricity, no stove, no microwave or toaster oven. Without electricity, I couldn't recharge my many devices that run on batteries.

From the look of my driveway, the torrent of rain from last night might have dislodged some tree branches or entire trees. Debris might have blocked access to many roads, disrupting commerce, services, emergency vehicles. When we first moved here the thought of such disturbances would have caused me anxiety.

I have learned that storms pass; that services resume; that neighbors help neighbors in an emergency. That if a tsunami hit in the middle of the night, and we didn't hear or feel anything, such catastrophic event would be out of our control.

No use worrying about it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Like Falling in Love

This part of Oregon, close to California, becomes the pass-trough area for people who are vacationing or moving North.  As California becomes more arid, as more people begin to think of retirement, temperate areas like Oregon and Washington State will be visited, will be consulted, and considered for what most people hope they can have during their retirement years.

I am not working for the Chamber, or for any real estate agency. I am not working at all.
All I  needed when we came up north from California were water features. (I know, it all sounds a bit naive!)

 I wanted a view of water, a feel of water, access to water.

We have lived in Southern Oregon for eleven years. Not a day goes by that I don't pinch myself. Fresh air, beautiful views, wild rivers...The list goes on...

I don't think we are totally rational when it comes to these life/changing decisions.  My husband just wanted trees. I wanted water. Neither one thought of all the practical things one needs to consider. And yet, just like falling in love, we take the step of loving someone without a lot of planning, or practical reasons.

 It just feels right.
Now that we drive three hours to our doctor, we are beginning to realize the choices we made then might not be right for us now. We don't want to give up what we have; but what we have is not enough anymore.

Perhaps, with more people moving this way, doctors and specialists will move here too.
Perhaps, we don't have to go anywhere else if medical care can be delivered via phone, television, and other technological inventions still to come.