Monday, July 26, 2010

Unfettered Joy

As my granddaughter would put it, my son was uber excited. According to the Urban Dictionary: Uber. The ultimate, above all, the best, top, something that nothing is better than. Yes, he was uber happy. 

One final walk through and the house would be theirs. Inspections by plumber, electricians, property inspectors, and I wouldn't have been surprised to see a doctor walk through. This house had seen them all passing and/or failing with each visit. Oh, for the love of a house.


My son had had quite a year. He and Lisa were married in January, both in shows in the spring, Lisa got a new job, James set the new musical he is writing into motion. Trips were made back ease when Lisa's father passed away and her grandmother turned 90.


"What do you think of this one," my son emailed me. One more house. He had always dreamed of having an old house to fix-up. At least every couple of weeks, I would hear a beep on my computer and another picture of an old house would appear.


"We're not going to go look at it," he later wrote after receiving my oooo's and ah's. "We just moved here. Anyway we have too much going on."


A little later. "Mom, we're going to look at the house. You want to go along?"


Yesterday, we did a final walk-through. After paper signing in about an hour, the house will be theirs. They go into it knowing the needs of the house. They go into it wanting this to be the home they live in for the rest of their lives.


I was afraid that my daughter-in-law was going along with my son in this dream, and it wasn't hers.


"No, I love the house. I am just focused on what we need to do today," she said.

"Our family gets a bit excited," I explained trying control my enthusiasm.


We were about to leave the house when my son took off running around the huge, treed front yard. He laughed and pranced like a young colt turned loose in the meadow. Unfettered joy. Yes, our family does tend to show our happiness.

My grandchildren will grow up in this home. My granddaughters will play in the backyard with their cousins. My son and his wife will paint and live with sawdust off and on. This small house will grow over time when the attic becomes bedrooms. Memories will be gathered here as they sit on the old porch swing that once resided on a farm on Neff Road.

As I watched my son, my heart soared with unfettered love.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Patiently Perfect

"Grammy, I need help." "Grams, what do I do now?" "Grandma Pam, can you help me?" The questions continue.

"Grandma Pam, you can write your blog we will be quiet."

I open my laptop holding my breath.

"Grammy, I have a problem."

Well, I knew it was too much to hope for and my own fault when it comes right down to it. It all began with, "So would you kids like to learn cross stitch?"

I knew that Sydney and her friend, Heather, could figure it out if I could get them started. I figured Gabby to have a rougher time. What I wasn't prepared for were my arthritic fingers and lousy eyesight. Still all were ready and willing...and somewhat able.

Patience. I'm not sure how we develop patience. Last night our entire family went out for dinner. By the end of our 2.5 hour meal, the girls were running out of patience. They were tired from a long day of playing and little sleep from a late night before. I know that antsy children make for short-tempered adults. Usually I bring something along to help the kids kill time, but in my haste I came empty handed. I was growing impatient myself.

I've looked for patience for many years. I don't know if I'm just old or if I have finally discovered the answers. Sure I get up tight. Sure I want to tie them to their seats. Sure I want to have a quiet meal without silliness, long decisions over the menu and wiggling children, sure I want quiet so I can write a blog, but I have had had my share of quiet times since my children have grown up. Now I find that a deep breath calm demeanor does more in the long run for child and adult.

Maybe this stockpile of patience has come stepping back and evaluating. From stepping away from my needs and looking to the feelings of others. I can enjoy these children and find solutions instead of heading straight for discipline and anger.

Sure I want to write my blog. Yet in the time since I first brought up the sewing idea, the kids have learned to divide embroidery floss, set the cloth into the wooden ring pulling it taunt, learned to tie knots, thread needles and tear out mistakes. It has been a good day.

The blog might be late, but this day has been just perfect....patiently perfect.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stepping Into Center Ring

"You try it! C'mon, you can do it!" The urging finally led me to middle of the group and my try out.

Since I was a little girl, I had a crush on Emmett Kelly and his clown Weary Willie. My Aunt Bess bought a Willie clown for me. It was my last doll. I'm not sure if I had the crush first or the doll, but either way, I loved this man and his talent.

In the 80's I was working with my then husband in the high school theatre. Barnum and Bailey Circus had come to town and were holding auditions. My husband asked if I would take the one student who was interested in auditioning. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

I sat on the sidelines making friends with the clowns as the auditions took place. I met Tuba, Scott, Tami and Tommy. When auditions were finished, a call went out to anyone else who might like to try. Being urged on by clowns is hard to resist, so I stepped into the middle of the ring. Not being shy, I enjoyed my moments ad libbing with the clowns.

That weekend my family went to the circus. My children were thrilled when Scott, the clown usher, played up to us. After the show, he took us down clown alley where my children met my other new clown friends. The following day, he took us on a tour of the circus train.

After walking through the train, I wasn't so sure why anyone would run off to join the circus. However, the experience was one my children and I won't forget. In fact, I wrote to Tommy, Tammy and Scott for some time after.

Oh, by the way, I got an offer to clown school, but never did get on that train.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Living With Wildlife

Nature is not ours to own but to protect, cherish and observe.

I heard the thud and immediately knew that a bird had tried once more to enter my house via the glass door. My windows need to be washed, so I'm not sure what was so captivating that a bird should want to greet it head on. As I walked over to the door, I knew immediately that this little finch had not flown away. With a plastic bag on my hand, I lifted the small, warm body realizing somewhere within me that the little finch was dead. Yet, I rub her small belly and stroked her head saying a little prayer for the life of this bird. After a few tears, I placed her on a high limb in the softness of a fir tree, a place she called home, a place to rest.

Often I talk of my growing up learning to respect the fauna and flora. You would think that in town there would be fewer chances to teach the children. Of course, we have squirrels and birds, an occasional rabbit crosses the road when traveling through the countryside. And, once I saw a coyote in town wondering why his forest had been replaced by houses. It's all out there, just sometimes not apparent.

When visiting my friends in Port Townsend, Washington, this little critter came up to the door conversing with me. My friends were often bothered by deer and raccoon. I was envious, and they were peeved at roses being eaten and raccoon butting their noses in places they didn't belong.

My house was situated near a small pond protected by Tualatin Park and Rec. The girls and I loved our walks to the pond where the nutria lived. I didn't know what a nutria was until I moved to Oregon. Resembling a ground hog or beaver, they are set apart by the long white whiskers and long pointed tail. Most startling are the two big orange teeth sticking out of their mouths. A lesson in the making. The girls knew not to agitate these critters living in their natural habitat. Curious brown babies were interested in equally curious girls.

"Stand still," I said.

They stood like statues and babies crawled closer not touching the girls nor they the babies. When the babies got braver, we retreated for their protection as well as ours. Some time after our visit to the family the nutria disappeared. They had lived in this pond for the years. Now they were gone. Somewhere in my mind I thought that perhaps a child had gotten to close to a curious nutria and the nutria were shipped out. At least I could live with that versus the alternative.

Nature is best left to nature. Pictures capture moments of nature doing what comes naturally. Moments we hope will happen again and again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happenstance

He gave my small son a map and asked that if he should see a fire, he call the forest ranger immediately. A small boy stood in awe.

Sometimes I wonder at the forces that work in our lives. How things fall into place by coincidence, by happenstance (golly I love that word). My sister and I discovered that we often bought my mother the same birthday and Mother's Day cards. Peg lives on one coast and I the other. We never wrote often, but invariably our notes would pass in the mail somewhere mid USA. Coincidence? Intuitive connection of sisters?

Life has not always been easy. My life is a constant walk with God, so He should know my circumstances. Whenever I was down to my last penny, a random check would come in the mail. It could be a refund, something from the bank, whatever weird thing had happened in the unknown to place a check in my mailbox. My son was living with me at the time couldn't believe the coincidence. I think he almost watched the mail to see when my prayers would be answered. Sure enough a check would show up.

I run into people I know constantly. My kids have this belief that no matter where I am, no matter what country I visit, airport I sit in, beach I walk on, I will find someone I know. It happens more times than not.

My parents were visiting along with my young nephew. Our site seeing trip was going to take us up through the forests on Mt. Hood. Warning signs were posted with Smokey the Bear asking that we watch for forest fires. My young son immediately became a fan of this bear wearing pants and a hat. Our trek up the mountain ended at the tree line at Timberline Lodge. As we walked up the stair to the lodge the door opened and, lo and behold, Smokey the Bear walked out. My son could hardly contain his excitement. Smokey kneeled down next to my son handing him a map of the Mt. Hood forests. Of course, by a young boy's request, he autographed it.

"You can help me fight forest fires by looking for them. If you see one, you can call the forest ranger," he said. "Can you do that?"

Well, my son would have done anything for Smokey. On our return trip, a small boy became a special forest ranger spotting for forest fires.

Coincidence? Fate? The element of surprise that often captures us and makes us wonder. I don't know what it is, but I am thrilled each time it happens. Happenstance.

Friday, July 16, 2010

We Are The Chalk

So who visits this little blog about my thoughts on life? Well, my blog has a tool on it that tracks the states and countries that visit it. So you are among those from: India, Italy, Texas, England, Ohio, Virginia, Canada, California, Oregon, Washington, Indiana, New York, Australia, Alabama, Washington DC, South Dakota, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, India, Massachusetts and more. I thank you all for sharing my journey. I would love to have you share yours in the comment section. I want to hear from you.

So what of your journeys would you like to share? What concerns have you? What answers are you seeking? Those of us who are parents and grandparents know that we don't know everything. I became aware of that quickly when I had my first child. I am aware of it constantly in the time I spend with my grandchildren. We are all on a journey together and, quite frankly, we need each other. What you learn from your experiences can help me in mine.

It's amazing what we learn from conversation, even blog conversation. New ideas pop up. Similarities give us allies. Desperation and frustration give us family, the family of mankind. Even though we reside in different regions, different countries, even though we have different languages and different cultures, even though we have different beliefs, we are all a part of creating a better world. We all different pages that reside in the same notebook.

Prejudice did not reside in my family when I was growing up. My parents didn't need to tell me about it, they lived it. I was given freedom to question and to find my own beliefs. I was allowed to make mistakes and to understand forgiveness and to know humility. I was raised in a faith that believed in peace and making life better for others by the merely sending a calf to a culture in need.

What is it that we all want? What do we want for our families? A tiny baby comes into the world a blank slate. What will we write on it? No mother wants her child to live with hate or to carry a weapon. No mother wants her child to even feel those feelings that tear apart families and nations. We are the chalk that draws upon that slate.

What will you write? What will you erase that has already been written? My blog isn't the answer to world peace. No, it is just a place that woman wanting world peace asks that we might make the world better together. Let me hear your comments.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Warn The Children

Kyron Horman's school is not far from here. His story affects those of us who have children in our families. Our hearts go out to him and his parents. We are terrified that it could be our child who is missing.

When my children were small, we never thought about abduction. Sure, we all had heard about kids being kidnapped for ransoms, but child trafficking, selling children, children used for prostitution was unrealized.

Now I have granddaughters. From the time they were small, we taught them about strangers. They know how to watch out for each other, what to do if someone approaches them. They have been taught skills at school, skills that we continue to reinforce.

Over the last year, I have added to their information. No longer do they need only to be aware of cars or a single stranger, now they must be aware of vans that might have someone in the back ready to open the door and grab the child. They must worry about women luring them as well as men. WHERE DOES IT END!!?!?!?!?!

In trying to explain ways to handle bad situations, ways to be cautious, I try to keep the fear I feel hidden that I might give them courage and strength without too much fear. A fear that chills me to the core.

We as parents and grandparents owe it to our children to check out the website for predators who live in our neighborhood. Please check this out: http://www.familywatchdog.us/search.asp. There are 10 registered sex offenders in my area. One is a child sex offender. His picture is available on the website. It makes me ill to look a the picture, but I want to know his face so I am aware. I'm aware for my kids. I checked out the rural community where I grew up and found several in that area as well. We need to be informed. We need to know the face of danger.

No child should suffer at the hand of an adult. No child should be sold, kidnapped or molested. It is our duty to be informed, to inform the children, to teach safety and awareness.

Kyron Horman is missing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Aunting and Uncling

Face by face, one by one, I name the people in the family picture, those my grandchildren don't know because we have lived on the other side of the states. My granddaughters want cousins. Their friends visit their aunts and uncles and play with their extended family. My children were not so fortunate nor are my grandchildren. We have had none of my family within driving distance most of their lives.

I have lived away from those who share my roots since 1978. My daughter was six and my son four when we moved. As the children grew into adulthood, my son decided to take the matter in hand by  writing a round robin making its journey from cousin to cousin even stopping to visit Grandma. We sisters did the same including Mom in the letter journey. An effort was made to keep these relationships alive.

My sisters have kept the thread tying my children to them alive. Their visits have meant the world to them knowing that they trekked the long journey form one coast to another just to see us. As adults, they are friends.

My life was impacted by my aunts and uncles. They were always there, always part of family events. I knew them and loved them and as an adult they became my friends and not just relatives. I have always missed this for my children.

My son is very involved with his nieces. He has been since the day they were born. The love he has for them is reciprocated ten times over in the love they have for him. I know that some day my daughter will do the same for his children. They realize the importance of extended family.

My nephew has no children so embraces his nieces and nephews as his own. When visiting us here on the west coast, he delighted in making memories with his little cousins. They know their cousin Brad.

Over the years, I know that I wasn't there for my nieces and nephews. Yet today, I feel closer to them than ever before. I love my grandnephews and want them to know they have an Auntie who loves them. My adult grandnieces and nephews are just getting to know me. None of us ever had the money to bridge the gap of years and distance. Now we do the best we can.

I thank my aunts and uncles for their love and memories they gave to me. I thank them for their attention, concern and involvement in my life. I thank them for being there.

Families have changed with time, but the needs of children have not.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Dance

From the earliest time I held my first child, we danced. With a babe in arms, I would sway and hum moving to a rhythm of mother and child, a sway that captured me even as I rocked a baby to sleep.

As years progressed so did our dancing. With the toddlers, we rocked and rolled stumbling and tumbling, laughing, giggling and playing. Progressing with each new dance experience.

When my granddaughters got older, their father took them to the Daddy and Daughter Dances. In the arms of their father they would dance around the floor spinning and twirling, twirling right into memories of time alone with daddy.

My granddaughters and I have danced together their entire lives. We dance impromptu modern dances striking strange poses and moving in unusual choreography. We close our eyes and move with the rhythm of the music. We dance.

Yesterday I was talking with a piano teacher at the music store while perusing new piano music for the girls. He was interested in my rather unorthodox method of teaching piano. He mentioned that sometimes students find it hard to let their own creativity find its way to the keyboard. His interested led him to ask about the method I used to get Sydney to become free to express herself.

Gabby, Syd and I each chose a corner of the living room. When the music transitioned, I would call for the next person to move to the center of the room and do their own dance. We had always danced together so this was something new and a bit uncomfortable. Gabby danced with sheer abandon while Sydney was stiffer and reserved.

"I don't know how to do it, Grammy," Syd said discouraged with her efforts.

"Close your eyes and just listen to the music. There is no right or wrong," I replied.

After several tries, dimmed lights and supportive sister and Grams, she began to sway slowly at first gradually allowing her inner self to come to life. Eyes closed she found her inner beauty.

I explained to the piano teacher that from that point on the tension at the piano eased, and she embraced the music. Perhaps she understood it better.

So we dance a dance that began with a baby bundled in loving arms to one that will carry us through our lives.

The dance.

Monday, July 12, 2010

the Monster at the end of this Book

"No, don't read that book," said little Gabby. "It scares me!"

Meanwhile her sister ate up every word, every voice inflection as each page was slowly turned moving us to the end of the book. A new generation once more found a monster at the end of this book.

When I moved away from home, I took my books. Books that my Aunt Alma, Grandmother and Aunt Welma had given to me. Books that had survived my childhood. My children and grandchildren were never into my old books. They wanted bright colors and big pictures, stories that were fast paced. Stories without pictures or a voice imparting the beauty of the story was less exciting than TV, the wii or books that contained puzzles, games, hidden windows or pop-up characters.

I remember sitting in the corner of the playroom reading the poems and jingles in my little Golden Books. When I played school with my dolls, I read to my silent pupils from my books and had them read the poems in a voice that sounded much like the teacher's. My books. My treasures.

Honestly, I don't remember anyone ever reading to me as a child, so when my children came along, I vowed to give them what I had missed. My children would know the beauty of books. Richard Scarry and Lowly Worm captivated my son. His little finger would be poised and ready to stab at Lowly who changed location on each page.

Jim Henson gave books an exciting new format. Books involved the children, talked directly to them."The Monster at the end of the Book" was a favorite. My little son sat on the edge of his seat as Grover moved page by page closer to the end of the book...closer to the monster. When his first niece was born, he could hardly wait to read the book to her. She was as captivated as he had been all those years before.

I walked into Powell's Book Store prowling the aisles as usual checking out what was new and what was recommended by the staff. My eyes landed on the sweet book that had traveled two generations with my family. Still a favorite, Grover continues to delight children and bring smiles to those of us who remember.

"I, lovable, furry Grover, am the monster at the end of the book."

Yes, Grover, you are still taking children page by page on a wonderful adventure.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Write.....go to park....write....go to park

Write blog.....go to park.....write blog....go to park with granddaughters.....write blog....let girls run through fountain with 98 degree temps roasting my house..... Guess which one won out yesterday.

When I was a little girl, I would go with Brenda to the fountain in Greenville park. The big white swan spewed water down on little tots giggling beneath. Golly, that was a long time ago and I very small, but I still remember it all so well. A little bit of splashing, a bit of scolding for running, a bit of sitting in the pool beneath the big swan. Big memories of a once little girl.

Most of the day was spent at the fountain yesterday. Snacks were packed along with books and cards. When the fountain fun dimmed and the cards were played, ice cream and a good book took over. Despite the heat, the girls did not want to leave the feel of the grass beneath their towels and the welcoming shade of the trees.

Being the people watcher that I am, I found myself pulled from my book while keeping an eagle eye on the girls and observing those around me. Mothers with infant babies stood in the sun, small children cried when a parent wasn't spotted, kids too big for the fountain pushed the smaller ones away. I wanted to be the fountain police giving out tickets and scoldings. I wanted to grab all of the babies exposed to the extreme heat and gather them with me under the tree. I found myself looking for shady lone men scoping out the children.

I miss that big old swan spitting out water to the delight of children closely watched by their mother. I miss the trees that surrounded the fountain protecting the babies. I miss the safety that once we experienced now seemingly gone forever.

It was a good day, there in the shade. We will return with me policing the area, reading my book.

Write blog....be with my grandchildren. Not even a contest.

I will see you back here on Monday. Have a safe, wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

No Packed Bags

Bags packed. Three day camp. Little did I know when this picture was taken that I would be coming back home on the second day.....homesick. This was an illness that followed me and my sisters until we were adults.

Camp Sugar Grove was the perfect place. When I was growing up. Old cabins, the stone cottage, the cottage by the creek, campfire, meals in the big old church and best of all, the swimming pool. Camp!

My son wanted to send his niece to camp this summer. In checking the prices, he found them to be exorbitant and impossible. Even the local church camp prices had gone up. For a middle class family, it was just too much.

So are the good 'ol days gone for our grandkids, at least those of middle class?  I'm a product of unemployment and trying to do what I can for my kids on a limited income, but I cannot send them to camp or give them special classes. Not easy for a single grams to accept. I miss not doing for my girls. Yes, we have creative times and nature walks. They go camping with their dad. They swim at their mom's apartment complex. But they don't go to camp.

Bible school offers the kids a chance to meet new kids and do crafts. They go for a week away to see friends who went to Bible school with them in years past. Yet it isn't camp.

I wasn't very good at staying away from home. I rarely stayed overnight at a girlfriend's house and never at a grandparents'. Not true for my grandchildren. My girls have been staying at my house since they were babies. They don't remember a time of not sleeping over. Just last week Gabby got homesick when at a friend's house. It was a first.

No, we can't afford camp. Maybe some day. I think we can be creative enough to come up with new, creative ideas for children and grandchildren. We may not have wealth, but we do have imagination, and wealth to offer in just being there.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Great Day For Sitting In The Rain

Two parents sit beneath the overhang of the school. A mother sits next to me each of us in warm jackets sitting beneath large umbrellas. The blanket is tucked around my cold legs. Yes, it is late June in Oregon, but unlike most of the country, it is cold.

When my children were young, I never missed a practice or a game. Even now, I will not miss one of my son or daughter-in-laws shows. Softball games, soccer games, gymnastics, dance recitals, singing competitions, band concerts, class programs, plays, special school events, I didn't miss a one of them. Again, the scene is replayed with me sitting front and center for my grandchildren.

Fortunately, I was a stay-at-home mom. My daughter often complains that she can't get everything done and is running constantly with the girls. If only she knew how quickly this would all be in the past. Since the divorce, I have been trying to be the wheels that get the girls from one place to another. Sometimes I sacrifice my own plans and desires to be there for these children. It is what I should do and what I want to do. All I ask and gratefully receive is respect for my time and the times I say "no".

As I sit with the rain pelting the umbrella and my feet getting colder by the minute, I wonder where the parents of the other four girls are hiding. Two parents are assistant coaching so they are excused, but aren't there grandparents and spouses who could brace against the weather? Where are these people who should be showing their children an example to follow and their grandchildren that not even weather will ban them from supporting their efforts.

Many times I have gone to events where parents drop their children off at the location then drive away. Still on other occasions entire families including everyone but the dog shows up. I find the latter happening more with those from other countries.

My parents were not supportive. I was young when I first noticed and remember every event vividly. When I worked in the theatre at the high school during the 80's, even the toughest students watched for parents and other family to arrive at their shows. When family didn't come to see their student, hearts fell and often so did the tears.

Children always look to see if anyone cares enough to support them rain or shine, commitment or choice. We adults tend to be selectively stupid. When a parent says that they don't have money for this or that, the child knows the difference watching the parent spends on their own desires. When a parents says that they won't make it to an event, the child notices when they make time for their friends or own entertainment.

Why do we choose to be so naive in thinking that children are oblivious? They aren't. My friend told me the story of when she was a child. Her sister was given a doll cradle carved by her father. Later when this child came along time her dad was busy with other things so cradle was lacking. Even as an adult it bothers her. She cried for in her mind he didn't care as much for her.

My son scanned the audience looking for his father. Would he show up? Would he care enough? Sometimes he did and other he didn't. Even now my son still looks. We never outgrow that need for recognition, for that extra effort, for that knowledge that we come first.

"She's not here," cried the young actress. "I knew she wouldn't come. She's never seen me in anything. She has no idea how good I am."

I wiped the tears and tried desperately to give this girl the confidence she needed, but the damage had been done. Her mother cared enough about doing her thing but not enough about her daughter. The experience made my resolve even stronger. I will always be there for my children for in essence I am truly there for myself. There is no greater joy than in watching your family members in their efforts.

I was in a play as an adult. My parents had come to Oregon to visit bringing along dear friends. At intermission my father and the other man decided to stay in the lobby. At the end of the performance, recognition and congratulations came from audience members....all except from my parents. Not a word regarding the show was mentioned. Yes, I can still hurt as an adult.

Sitting in the rain beneath my umbrella with my nose red and runny, I watched my superstar granddaughter bat the ball, catch a fly and run the bases. It was a great day for sitting in the rain.

Friday, July 2, 2010

One More Nut

The squirrel scampers across my deck snooping into every plant and empty clay pot. He pokes his head into the pots tossing out dirt probably burying one more nut. This little critter loves to try any way he can to get seeds out of the bird feeders. He flings himself off of the deck railing hoping to connect with the feeder. Last year he would actually climb the pole until the new squirrel guard prevented his success.

All last summer I fought this little devil chasing him off the deck and out of my yard. I lost. So this year I decided to use him as a lesson for my granddaughters. Now we not only watch the birds, we also watch the squirrel. The girls ask questions, and class begins. They know not to touch wild animals. Observing them in nature is much more rewarding than trying to possess them. Protecting them is protecting our environment as well as theirs.

Instead of movies we often watch nature programs on OPB (PBS) or on DVD. No matter what their age, they have been captivated by the animal world. Perhaps it's asking a lot, but we grandparents can do a great deal for our natural world by teaching the children, raising them up to know how to respect, observe and care for it.

I find that when my teaching the kids about plants, birds and animals, their friend join in asking their questions. We gather lichen, nut shells, fallen leaves and create a collage on a paper plate. Pieces of nature become greeting cards for family.

Handing over the camera to a child on a nature walk, opens new doors of observance. A twig becomes a letter of the alphabet. An old stump becomes a howling wolf. Pictures of birds, squirrels and nature become photos in albums and on cards or gifts. The eye is trained, the child is trained and nature lives as it should.
 
My father taught me that touching animals could be dangerous. They might be small animals, but they deserved respect. The human scent could cause a mother bird or animal to leave her nest and babies. Children learn about the Audubon Society and other agencies that protect as well as retrieve abandoned or injured animals.

Curiosity channeled is a wonderful thing. And, we get to do it! I challenge you to make a difference. I challenge you to make a future for your grandchildren, for our world.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ours To Give

An elephant plodded down the aisle along with rhinos and other animals. Lion King had begun.

Surely it is impossible to raise children and grandchildren without wanting them to have some of what you had as a child and more of what you did not have. We were a family of the arts so attended community concerts seeing musicians like George Shearing, Ferrante and Teicher and so much more. This child was exposed to classical music at a very young age. Our family always rang with music. We all played the piano. Mom had played a banjo, Peg played the sax as did I, June played the clarinet. Once in awhile we were used as extras in church plays.

I was given conducting lessons and had my own singing group when I was a teen. When about eight, my mother stood me and three of my friends next to the piano and taught us to sing harmonies. We traveled from church to church singing. My father when a young man traveled with a group singing gospel. In the '30s group had once sung as a warm up for a new singing group from the nearby Piqua, Ohio, called The Mills Brothers. We were given a rich, artistic experience.

My children were given as much exposure to the arts as we could afford. The same falls true for my grandchildren. I am gathering old instruments so the girls can experiment with them. Of course, it involves my learning to play them as well. We have ukuleles, a small banjo, a small violin, bongo drums, a tambourine, a recorder and of course, the piano. I am still looking for an Indian Pipe and a saxophone. We are having fun.

I give to my family, the things that influenced my life as well as enriching that experience by giving them the tools to learn more. Many days we pull out drawing pads or paint and create new pieces of art, rich moments together. The girls have a bin of dress up clothes, old scarves and hats. Bins of art supplies fill the closet. Wiffle balls, plastic bats, tennis rackets reside in the garage. Non-technical ways to create and have fun.

My sister had told me about a fun little dessert she had been served. So the kids and I tried it as well. A small votive candle on a plate, a pile of mini marshmallows and wooden toothpicks soon became our table top campfires. A bit of chocolate on the side for dipping added to the experience. It was a hit.

What a gift we are given in imparting new ideas and experiences to our families! What a wonderful way to make memories....and to gain them in the process! We are the doorway to creative thinking.

The life-sized puppets came to life. Grass moved in beautiful choreography, lions sang, a baboon drew us in...into a beautiful evening. A time of family, a time of growing up, a time of Lion King.