May 28, 2016

An Open Letter on Surprises

You always surprise me. One day I will post an article with no notice from you whatsoever. On another, I can't turn my back before you are all over. It is one of the great things about blogging.

I suppose that all of us that write about what interests us without any respect for genre or subject know that inconsistency is going to happen. What catches my attention may simply bore everyone else.

The article I wrote about a personal experience with shunning that reflected the life an elderly person has, evidently hit a hot button. Remaining effective and needed becomes increasingly hard as we age. For me, the story is not nearly over and you will hear a lot more about that subject.

My Garden Continues to Grow...in
real life and symbolically!
On an election year we are all a little on edge. This year the "edge-o-meter" is off the charts. Republicans and Democrats have become so accustomed to voting for their party that they cannot even imagine doing anything else. No one that I know is all that fired up about Trump but why do I feel that those people will vote for him anyway just because they are stuck. We will see. The comments on that post were extremely interesting. Thank you all for chiming in...we need to begin listening to each other.

You didn't even blink when I posted about my grandsons school open house. Back in the day, I did not get any traffic unless it was from grandparents. They were the only people that were older and blogged back then. AND they were all women. Not any more. I like that a lot.

The ebb and flow of life is reflected in these posts. Keep on doing what you have always done. Keep right on surprising me please. And have a wonderful day.

Much love,

Barbara

May 26, 2016

Politics: Supporter or Evangelist

Hillary Clinton at the 2004 March for Women's ...
Hillary Clinton at the 2004 March for Women's Lives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I received a "Support Hillary" bumper sticker this morning. I don't really think I have ever had that happen before...no politician has ever noticed me at all...my husband yes but me no. I was surprised.

But...what surprised me the most was my unwillingness to wear my heart on my sleeve. When I my husband told me to put it on the car I didn't want to do that so I didn't. What was that all about?

I am a Democrat and very liberal in some ways. I do think that Clinton is very smart and of course she is a woman and there is always that. So why don't I feel completely certain that she is a good choice or a bad choice.

I do support her candidacy and watch the primaries. I did vote for her. It could be that I have seen too much in my life and honestly know what could go very wrong.

It turns out that I am not the evangelist for the woman. In the end I simply will vote for the best of the two people that are running.

There you have it!

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PS: I cannot even bring myself to slam Trump even though I know I will NEVER vote for him. Did you read the article about his wife in the New Yorker? Yikes!

And, is this campaign driving you crazy?

May 25, 2016

The Quietest Classroom of 2nd Graders in the World!

I visited my grandchildren's "Year of Learning" open house last night. I am a retired teacher so this sort of thing just makes me happy.

Brycen and sister Shay
My youngest grandson, Brycen, read a book and shared his books about the farm. He is in kindergarten. He is doing a great job of being 5.

The oldest waited patiently until it was his turn. As we left Brycen's classroom the kindergarten teacher remarked on what a treat it was going to be when we visited Brayden's second grade classroom. We could hardly wait to see.

This is what we were greeted with:

Quiet Brayden and real Brayden

The quietest class in the world!
...the world's quiets class!  When Brayden introduced me to his teacher (beautifully if I do say so) I asked her where she found this genius idea. "OH, a teacher friend shared this on Facebook." Isn't that wonderful. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think that Facebook sharing teacher is going to be flattered all around the world!

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My hat is off to that Kindergarten teacher of Brycen's. She made Brayden feel very proud. I liked that!


May 23, 2016

On Being Invisible

I have a "friend" that shuns me. I am assuming you know what that involves but just in case you have never hear about the practice here is what it is:
Shunning can be the act of social rejection, or emotional distance. To refuse to accept socially; to avoid having  social contact with.
This definition is the one I have experienced from my friend. Although this has nothing to do with religion, the people that she gathers around her do nothing to change her attitude.

This has been going on for many years so I have come to terms with it. I do not know why she does it. It just is.

I began thinking about how being shunned is in a sense becoming invisible to one or more people. I have had women tell me that they feel "invisible" now that they are older. I have asked myself why that is many times.

Becoming invisible can happen for many reasons. I have found that when no one will listen to me I feel as though I am not there. It happens occasionally at family gatherings.

When my opinions are disregarded because of my age, I feel invisible. I am a very smart woman and can out shout the best. But, as I age, I just don't have it in me to raise my voice in disagreement or even affirmation. I suppose I really would like the room to hush when I have something to say. But we all know a hushed room is never going to happen. I feel myself fading awy.

Being invisible also has to do with my basic belief system. Being clumped together with all those other people that share a part of my beliefs actually makes me invisible. Being part of a mass is not the same as being a whole person. I feel myself fading away.

I live with the shunning woman at my country club, in the desert and in social gatherings. By now it is just a fact of life. But I still feel myself fading away.

People have asked me over and over what I have done to her. I honestly do not know. I don't really think she would tell me. I always say that I suppose I am at fault and shrug.

Do you ever feel invisible?

May 22, 2016

A BOOK WORTH READING: WHAT THE DOG SAW

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been a fan of Malcolm Gladwell for years. In fact, I have most of his books and actually carry them back and forth with me to Arizona. I know...weird huh? But there you have it.

I find that his stories are ones that you read and say to yourself "wait" here it comes. And it always does. The punch line for an incident or even a whole chapter. He makes the connection that somehow I don't see coming.

I visited the bookstore last week and bought some books for the grandchildren, a puzzle book for my husband and What the Dog Saw by Gladwell for myself.

I began reading immediately, because a new book is very exciting. I read the introduction and the first chapter. Then I handed it to my husband with the instructions to read what I had read so we could talk about it. These Gladwell books are just too good to keep to yourself.

In this book Gladwell strived to explain what goes on inside the mind of a person that does what we do not understand.

The first chapter called "The Pitchman" is about a family of boardwalk pitchmen that lived and worked in NYC metro area. A family member was the pitchman that invented and went on to pitch the Veg-O-Matic, a spray on hair that actually looked real and the Showtime Rotisserie. Ron Popeil was the focus.

Gladwell told his story concluding with Popeil pitching his machines on QVC. In one hour Ron Popeil broke the rule books and the records for sales in that length of time. He did not do any of the marketing things we think of as normal in this day and age. For some reason, he saw what people wanted to hear and the voices in his head took him forward.

He sold a product by showing a group of people how it worked and then told them, over and over, that they needed it. He was a very old man when he pitched on QVC but it was evident that he still had the magic. The final sentences in that chapter, the aha moment went like this:
 "At that moment, on the other side of the room, the door opened, and a man appeared, stooped and drawn but with a smile on his face. It was Ron Popeil, who invented a better rotisserie in his kitchen and went out and pitched it himself . There was a hush, and then the whole room [of QVC executive and employees] stood and up and cheered."
I think that Gladwell made it very clear that inside Popeil's head what he saw when he pitched all those wonderful machines that really were as good as he said, was a room full of people rising to their feet and applauding. It was the connection, the aha moment I had been waiting for.

My husband and I will talk about this for a long time. I am only beginning but a really good book is always too wonderful not to share as the journey progresses. There will be more about this I am sure.

The bookseller liked my choice and then asked me if I had read any of Oliver Sacks books. They are on the list. Wow...is reading great!

May 18, 2016

There's a Girl in the Boy's Bathroom? So????

There's a Boy in the Girls BathroomMiss Nelson Is Missing, transgender bathrooms  and me.

I taught small children for many years. Every child between the age of 3 and 9 in our community knew my name. I was a substitute teacher.

In those 13 years I substituted, I probably learned more than the students. For the most part, I looked forward to each day in the classroom and took great satisfaction in filling another person's shoes. See, I needed to do everything like the teacher or it upset the students. I didn't want to do that.

I have two stories today:

First....
It was very simple back in those days when I was in the classroom. Students used the shared classroom bathroom or in the halls the boys used the boys, girls used the girls and teachers used the teachers. But it didn't exactly work that way.

The book that should have been written was There's a Teacher in the Kid's Bathroom. I had a 2nd grade teacher tell me that she spent a lot of time counseling children with her panty hose around her knees...they kept bursting in on her in the classroom bathroom. And life went on. Of course the students eventually learned to knock but she never learned to lock the door.  In fact, the locks were probably removed so student wouldn't lock themselves in there. She used it because there was a real need and she had a room full of students to supervise with no help.

That is where the transgender bathroom issue kind of a puzzle to me. See, I think that stalls need to be put in the boys restroom too. In fact, if there were stalls and all bathrooms were boys and girls both, no one would think a thing about it. We do share bathrooms at home, in the classroom and at our friends homes. It just makes sense to me.

There's a Boy in the Girls Bathroom
In foreign countries the bathrooms are not gender specific and the women and men wash their faces at the same sinks. What a concept for making the space work for everyone.

Then in public there is the issue of lines at the women's and none at the men's. More times than I can count the women have simply stood guard and as they took turns using the boys side. But, when you think about it, why would we need separate bathrooms when there is only one stall in each? I don't know.

Second....
Miss Nelson Is Missing
The second thing I learned was that substitute teachers are not generally loved. Well, I will say that the students that are in trouble all the time love a substitute teacher but the well liked students don't. In the book Miss Nelson Is Missing the students didn't like their real teacher until a really mean substitute was hired. Boy did the student change their tune.

The book ties in with the There's a Boy... book in that not being wanted or understood eats away at a person's heart. Many time I felt like the transgender kid that doesn't know quite where they fit. It is not a good feeling, trust me.

Miss Nelson is Missing was very popular in a school I subbed in and everyone apologized to me when they confessed of their love for it. I still remember when the school voted it the most popular book of the year with a bow to me as a sub they actually did like.

There is a Boy In the Girls Bathroom was also a favorite at that same time. Both of these books were about people that were "outsiders" in their world.

And so is the transgender issue. Hopefully, the problem will be thought through and transgender youths will not have to face the dilemma they are faced with now. It is very sad. Young people are confused, embarrassed and in some cases a little afraid.

It is something so outside our cultural heritage experience that everyone is a little uncertain about what to do. Are we ready to face it that there is a lot more to being a "boy" and a "girl" than meets the eye? We have been pushed over the edge and the time has come to open the parachute of compassion and inclusion.

In the end maybe we are all more alike than different...what about that?And as a former Miss Nelson, I know it is very important to fit in somewhere and that includes the bathroom.

What do you think?

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Note: If you haven't read the Oprah book selection Middlesex, you really should. It was a Pulitzer Prize winner. I'm just saying.
Middlesex



May 14, 2016

On Wasting Time

Pia Savage wrote an article on her blog at Psychology Today about how much smarter she has become as she matured. She set 40 as her bench mark for actually figuring out what it was all about.

The story she told rang true with me...why? Well, it seems the more I write about aging the more I like what I have discovered about myself. I continue to grow smarter, wiser and even a little funnier. On the down side I have never gotten over being messy in the places you cannot see. That is who I am.

Every group pictures is followed by a silly picture that is a
mess of faces and poses.
I love that picture best of all.
I have figured out what my strengths and weaknesses are and even what my disabilities might be. Knowing that I am what I am has forced me to actually deal with those disabilities.

I am a person that really, really likes the bottom line. Being forced to read the instructions, go through a sales pitch or even sit through a sermon at church is actually painful for me. I do not make a choice to be the way I am. I simply am.

Wasting my time is not a good thing but because I am a creative and flighty kind of person, I am also disorganized. That mean that I waste a lot of time looking for my glasses and searching for the cell phone.

On the up side, the fact that I don't care that much about being organized in places I cannot see lets me do things like toss the silverware into the drawer without sorting it. I only sort what goes into that drawer. I have a knife drawer and all sharp things are tossed in that drawer.

I have stopped folding clothes that are not seen. Pajamas, undergarments etc. are washed, sorted (kinda) and put in the drawer. Why would I fold something that does not matter. Honestly, who cares if the socks are a little mismatched...that is trendy right?

On the other side of the coin, I sort my spices alphabetically. I have wasted too much time sorting through spices to not take the time to do that. But, because spices come in odd shapes and sizes, my spice drawer looks like a mess. When my mother was alive she came to visit and rearranged that drawer so it looked much neater...it was not a good thing and she was very sorry she didn't see my design.

It is hard for my family to see why I do what I do. When I cook a family meal and other's do the dishes I find them stacked neatly on the counter. They know that finding where things actually go might be a problem. My logic escapes them.

My husband moved my silverware to the other side of the kitchen when he retired...he didn't see my reasoning. I wasted a lot of time opening the silverware drawer to only find mismatched kitchen tools.

I am a puzzle to myself. I cannot stand a crooked picture. I have a cupboard full of serving dishes that is so neat that I am taken back everytime I open it. I am very particular about my pantry...barware and small appliances in the top half with food in the bottom half.

But, since I am older I am learning everyday that being a puzzle is a part of my life. What I want I want and the way I do things is my own. Wasting my time is just who I am.

However, I do find that the silverware drawer really is better sorted. It is progress I think.

Now if I could learn to keep my thoughts to myself! But that is another blog post.

Do you waste your time?

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May 11, 2016

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The oldest known version [of Mistress Mary] was first published in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book (c. 1744) with the following lyrics:
Mistress Mary, Quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,
And so my garden grows.[1]
Now that you asked...my garden is growing quite beautifully, thank you!

When we bought this house 4 years ago we bought a wonderful house with a not so wonderful yard. My husband does not ever want a lawn so we set out to fill a fairly large lot with flowers and green plants of every sort.

Here is the before and the after.
BEFORE
AFTER
BEFORE
AFTER
The friendships that have grown in the process have been every bit as beautiful. When I work in my yard, people stop and talk. I am at my very happiest when someone asked me for a plant or even wants to walk my garden with me.

The after pictures were taken a few minutes ago. What a beautiful day.

How does your garden grow?

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May 9, 2016

On Growing Rice


We just returned from Arizona and are now at home in Oregon. Our trip this year took us through the center of California where much of the produce we find on our tables is grown. Rice is one of those crops that somehow seems out of place and yet there it is.

Growing rice really is a mystery to me. The rice that is grown in water to hold the stalks up (I am told) and is planted April. In the Yangtze Valley of China where the crop is harvested in October, the streets and highways are used to dry the harvest. Even in the middle of the villages rice is spread in the middle of the streets by the "people" to dry. It is not called the People's Republic of China without reason.

For those of us that have driven through California where large processing plants take care of the drying rice and machines plant that same rice in flooded paddies, it was a surprise when we come to a very wide road that cannot be driven on this week because the "people" are drying their rice crops. Really!

Canal very near the road with rice drying...water was everywhere.
Shanghai is very near sea level so there are canals everywhere and people live on the banks, grow crops in the borrow pits along side the road that are raised using the soils taken from the pits. The pits also fill with water. Is it understandable that a crop like rice would be a perfect one for the region. 

The natural order of thing was foreign to us too. The "people" were totally in control of the roads in these small villages and would not even acknowledge the cars at all. It takes a certain amount of getting used to and patience. 

I saw children playing in the areas between freeway off ramps in Beijing. Parents kept watch but open ground was at an a premium and the "people" do not hesitate to use what was going to waste. 

The infrastructure in the rural areas was not perfect and people keep warm using charcoal. A single light bulb that lights the center of the house might be a luxury for all I know. Children live in layers of quilting in the winter and resemble balls with legs. Their pants have a slit in the crotch so they can squat to go to the bathroom when the notion strikes them. Nothing is so private that a child cannot go potty anywhere.

Growing rice was the symbol for what I didn't understand totally. There was much to be learned and not nearly enough time. We were there last in 2011. China was growing up at that time but the simplicity for those living outside the cities was still very much on parade. I wonder what I would find now?

Rice being dried in the center of the village.

Broom hanging in a horsestall is hand made. The broom the man above is using is very similar.
I love travel so much. It seems that the experience follow me home. And I love to talk about it...not because anyone is interested but because it brings back such good memories.

Thank you for reading.

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PS: The pictures are my own. If you would like to use them just let me know.