Saturday, June 30, 2012

Full of Hot Air

Yes, I have been absent this week. A combination of busy life and Millie sitting. Seems like I will be completely oblivious to time when the twins arrive. But for now I am writing as I can.....because I miss talking to myself, I guess.

Balloons. We take them for granted. We have them for new babies, for parties, to mark the site of a garage sale. Latex. Mylar. Balloons for the sick. Balloons for the well. Balloons to delight and to mark special occasions. Car dealers tie them to their cars. Vendors sell them at fairs and the circus.

Helium is becoming an extinct natural resource. It is a non-renewable resource. Like so many of our other gifts of the earth, we are deleting one more. We are a world in crisis. A crisis that we have helped along by our greed and lack of information.

We at Hallmark are having trouble getting helium tanks for our balloons. Our order now stands three months out. Even then, we may not receive any. In all honesty, I think we should stop selling balloons and do our part to conserve helium. I didn't realize the variety of ways in which helium is used. Helium cools superconducting magnet in MRI machines and other equipment. Cryogenics is the biggest user of the gas. Our TVs and the internet all use helium. The military uses helium balloons. Submarines use helium to clean up noisy signals. The Department of Defense uses helium balloons to detect heat-guided missiles. Helium is used in research balloons. The next generation of nuclear reactors will rely on helium for cooling. Even the space shuttles used helium.

There are helium sources in the middle east, but the US does not want to rely on those sources, plus eventually they will be extinct as well. Some companies are recycling their helium. I'm not sure how it is done, but this may preserve the only helium left in our part of the world (perhaps in the entire  world).

I always have this niggling thought in my head about using the resources beneath our soil. I wonder what we are messing with that may be needed for the ecological soundness of our inner earth. When do we become responsible? Wait until it's too late?

Well, each time I fill a helium balloon I think of the shortage. Yes, it is only one balloon. One balloon here another there. A bouquet of six balloons. An MRI machine. Coolant for a nuclear reactor. Safety of our nation. Helium balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. What is the true cost of  helium balloons for fun versus helium used to benefit mankind?

Next time you need a balloon try to think of an alternative. Maybe it will take a bit more effort to come up with an alternative. Perhaps you might need to be a bit creative. I know you can do it. I know you can. I know I will try.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It is Time

I write two regular blogs. One is Neff Road. The other is A Grandparent's Voice. Today I am compelled to write from a grandparent's voice. It is only my opinion, but I am a piece of the solution to a growing problem as are you. Today I write in hopes of change.

Badgering. Bullying. Taunting, Teasing. Children. Adults. It's mix and match. It happens in all forms. It has been around forever. So why are we just aware of it now?

Our first awareness that has surfaced was with the children hurting one another with words and actions. Some resulting in suicide. Now we see that children are abusive to adults. Well, duh!! 

The commentator suggested to the counselor that perhaps this behavior began in the home. Perhaps?! Pretty good guess that it did. Ranting and raving in the house. Coarse words said in anger. Those words meant to degrade and to deflate. Words of sarcasm in a bitter tone fall on small ears and are passed on. We know where the anger begins and how it spreads. It is virus that has only one cure.

After watching this segment on the taunting of the bus monitor, I immediately thought of the types of video games that children and adults play. About those TV shows centered on bitter adults, hurting one another. It seems that more and more reality shows, based on families and adults talking about one another, those in which adults verbally abuse one another and make a mockery of such things as marriage and friendship, are topping the charts. What in the world is wrong with us that we accept this type of behavior? What is wrong with our society that we are complacent when it comes to our children? Why do we teach children that killing on a video screen to get points is fun? Why do we watch shows where women tear at one another, where gossip and cheating win? Why do we allow it to exist?

Shouldn't we be teaching our children conversational skills. Teaching them to embrace the positive and ignore the negative. Shouldn't we be showing them that words are better than the hand. That strength is more times found in walking away rather than standing ground. Violence begets violence. A child hurt by guilt, hurt by words, will act out. Children and adults scarred by gossip and taunting will only find anger instead.

Perhaps gossip seems harmless. I felt the sting of gossip. I felt the sting of friends hurting friends. We all have known what it is like to be hurt by another. Too often that hurt goes on turning into bitterness and more of the same. Where does it end?

It is a virus. It has only one cure. We are the cure. We are the ones who can change the face of humanity. We are the ones who can change the behavior of children. We are the ones who can change the behavior of adults.

The woman came into the store sobbing. I went to her and wrapped my arms around her asking what I could do to help her. She sobbed that she was going to her home to gather her belonging with a police escort. As with most abused woman, she still loved the man who beat her. She wanted a card to leave behind telling him that she loved him. We who have lived in healthy relationships find this hard to believe, but living in an abusive situation is part of that virus. A woman beaten down so far that she believed she deserved it. I told her that I would not sell her a card. I told her that his actions were not of a man who loved. I told her to walk out of the store, to gather her belongings and never look back. A few days ago, this woman returned. She did walk away with restraining order in hand. Now she is part of a support group and is in counseling. The virus stops here.

We all have a chance to make a difference. It doesn't need to be in such a big way, but it needs to happen. We must to learn to talk through differences and teach children the same. The days of the 'good ol boys' are over. The days of making fun of others are over. The days of brow beating children into behaving are over. It is time to stop this damage that affects us all. It is time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Young Fawn

The father held his small son in his arms as he walked around the store. They stopped first to look at the children's section. The boy picked up a Bambi stuffed toy, holding it tightly around the neck. They walked around the store, the father talking to his small son. Finally, he carried his purchases to the check-out counter. The fawn was still clutched in his arms.

As they walked away from the counter, the father told his small son that Bambi had to be put back on the shelf. Immediately huge tears appeared and screaming commenced.....and continued with the father trying to pull the stuffed toy from his grasp.

This situation was going downhill fast. I walked up to the struggling pair. "Would you let me look at Bambi?" I asked the small boy. Hesitantly, he handed the toy to me.

"Oooo," I said. "It is just as I thought. This is a new Bambi, just a baby. This Bambi can't leave the store yet. He's too little, but you can come back and visit him."

In my mind, I was sure this would work. It should have. It would if it were in a movie or a good book but not so that night in the Hallmark store. The boy left the store still crying against his father's shoulder.

The man stopped at the door, turning to me. "Thank you," he said. "I really mean it."

We don't know what we do that affects other people. We just try to do the best we can to be kind to ourselves and caring of others. Bambi still sits on the shelf. Perhaps the fawn will eventually find its way beneath a Christmas tree or into a birthday present. And, perhaps, a father will take time with his son with a bit more patience in himself as a father.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Music Changes Your Brain

Music: It's in your head, changing your brain by Elizabeth Landau

For all of us who embrace music and seem to hear the background music to our everyday lives, we already know that music makes a difference. This article is fascinating. From Alzheimers to a language for babies, music can change the world.

I never knew a time without music. It was in our home, in the field, in the car when we traveled. It was in our church and in our activities. Never a day without music. I never paid much attention to this fact until I was an adult. The radio or stereo always played in our home.

That old blond piano brought generations together back the lane on Neff Road. We sang around it at Christmas, and Mom was always standing someone up to sing next to it. I sang there with my children when they were toddlers. We sat on the piano bench together and sang children's songs. Music was just another part of the house like a piece of furniture.

I can't imagine my parents without music. My mother and her sisters played the piano. Mom played the banjo. Dad sang with the Imperial Quartet and for weddings and at churches. We grew up with the sound of music surrounding us from morning until night. Dad whistled as he crossed the lawn to the house. Mom could be heard singing in the kitchen. The beat of life was a musical strain that carried through the every day life on the farm.

My granddaughters and I have quite an array of musical instruments with which we create a cacophony of sound.  A xylophone, bongo drums, a lone drumstick, a melodica, a violin, a piano, a recorder are the instruments used in our trio of sound. We dance to music learning to not care about the steps but to embrace the feel of the sound.

My son met his wife on the national tour of the musical Evita. Music indeed changed his life. His home is filled with music. Already they have chosen music for the nursery. I read this article on CNN and found was pleased to know that what I have always believed is true. There is healing power to music. It can change a day. It can open doors to memories. It can sooth and excite and aid in learning. The brain is ready for our awareness of what music can bring to our lives.

I have find it interesting that hospitals and nursing homes are not full soothing music, especially in waiting rooms. I feel something is amiss when I am in a home where music is not heard. The silence bothers me. A piece of me seems to be missing, perhaps a piece I wish I could instill in someone life.

Music does change the brain. Or, maybe music is waiting in the brain.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father: an active verb

Happy Father's Day to all of those men who build memories with their children and grandchildren, to those men who step in when a father is lost or gone, to those men who watch over and care for the children in their families.

My nephew and his wife have no children. They do have nephews and nieces. We have often commented that Brad would be a wonderful father. And, he is like another father to those children. His eyes light up when he sees them. He sits on the floor and plays with them and their toys. His pride in them is that of a father. Forever he will watch over them and love them.

When my father passed, our neighbor Hollie told me that he would now be a father for me. His daughter, my best friend, and I had two fathers when we grew up. We knew that either would go to any length to protect us and see that we had quality time with a fishing pole.

My daughter-in-law has a stepfather who stepped in when she was just a little girl. He loves his stepchildren as if they were his own. Their love for him is endearing and enduring.

Fathers come in all forms. Truly, blood makes a father a father in the noun sense, yet there are other fathers who influence our lives. There are those fathers who are partners raising children giving their children two fathers to bless them with their love.

I looked into look up the verb form of father. We already know what defines a father, but I decided to see what the active form of father looked like.

verb (used with object)
 to beget.
 to be the creator, founder, or author of; originate.
 to act as a father toward.
 to acknowledge oneself the father of.
 to assume as one's own; take the responsibility of.
Today I honor those 'active verb' fathers. My life was richer because of fathers like these. My life has been blessed knowing men who were tender and kind to children and those children as adults. Today I remember my father. Today I thrill at the time very soon when my son will called Daddy.

Father: an active verb.

A favorite picture of my father and me

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Camera

A camera in the hands of a child opens doors of creativity, records memories and builds relationships, especially when it is a grandparent who places that camera in those hands.

"Look at the background before you take the picture," I said. Gabby had the camera. She and her sister were sharing it back and forth encouraging one another.

I love the camera. I love what I can see with the camera. Sometimes I am surprised by what I did not see when I took the picture.

"What is that?" Sydney asked. We craned our necks trying to get a clear look at what appeared to be a big bird on the other side of the lake. Several pictures were taken of the unknown figure which later proved that indeed we had seen a lovely heron.

The girls were excited when they found a great picture in the ripples of the water or the shape of a tree. They looked for beauty where most would only walk by not recognizing the beauty, the story, around them.

"Grammy, you two walk ahead. I want to take some pictures," Sydney said.

Gabby and I walked on. When I downloaded the pictures, I found that my oldest granddaughter had truly captured this precious afternoon.

A camera. Granddaughters. A lovely Oregon afternoon. And an ever grateful grandma.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Garden of Your Mind

Confession: I loved Mister Rogers. Despite those who thought that his show was silly, those who made fun of him, there are those of us who absolutely loved him and the simple lessons he taught small children....and sometimes big children.

Last week a friend posted this link: I sat watching the little video smiling and delighting in this new mix that gives us a singing Mister Rogers. I read the comments posted below my friend's link. Young adults were brought to tears watching and remembering. Time after time men and women admitted missing this teacher they watched as children. His work still touched their hearts.

The theme of the video is the garden in your mind. This place in our heads where ideas are planted and where discoveries are made. This place that learns and the place that teaches. A place ripe for planting and eager to grow. Garden in your mind. I'm not going to elaborate on what I think these four words mean to me for I truly believe they might mean something different for each person who takes time to think about them. I could go into the tiling of a garden and weeding, but the simplicity of this piece of work says it all.

I am writing from the garden in my mind. I am writing from an inspiration of a little video that touched my heart.

Happy Monday! Happy journey into the garden in your mind.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stay, Babies, Stay

Thirty weeks have passed. Two tiny beings are growing and developing eager to meet the world. Maybe a little too eager.

There isn't much we can do about the time that babies decide to enter the world. We have been watching these children grow through the ultra sounds and then their movements. They are developing internal organs now as their time of birth grows closer. Please, dear God, keep them in there for awhile longer.

Isn't that the way with life? We live the best we can growing and changing seeming to prepare ourselves through trial and error on our way to become better people. To be the best we can be. Sometimes we move ahead to early and are not prepared for the outcome. We trip over our own feet all too often. But still we grow into something new and hopefully smarter. Maybe the process should be called the birthing of the adult.

Little boy and little girl Drake need to stay in the womb and wait. Their little lungs need to develop and their bodies grow a bit more. Yet they lie with  heads down, resting against one another waiting for the birth canal to open and loving arms to welcome them. Two babies sure that they are ready and a family praying they will wait.

The birth of children. The birth of parents. The birth of us all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Finding My Own Skin

The costume changes were easy. There were none. The only thing that changed was the cast of character. Of which there was

During the years of my life I became a chameleon changing my persona to meet the needs of what I thought was needed to survive. It began when I was a shy child, trying to be what my parents wanted me to be. During my years in school, I tried to blend in with the others. I didn't want to stand out, be 'different'. I never felt comfortable in my own skin.

Once I went to college and to work, I found myself struggling to find out what I should be. I didn't feel good wearing my farm girl skin. I didn't know where to go from there when faced with campus and city life. I was lost, trying to mimic what I should be. In my marriage, I followed what I thought were the rules of 'engagement'. The perfect wife with children scrubbed and ready for dad to return from work. The woman who was handy to have around to run the home. The mother who was supposed to know what to do at all times. I failed on all fronts.

The first time in my life that I tried on my own skin, was after my divorce. I wasn't sure what I would find, but inch by inch, I began to like me better than I had ever before. I discovered that I didn't need to please anyone but myself. I found I could try things I'd never tried before and survive failure and embrace success. I needed to figure out who I had been my entire life.

Slowly I began to put together all of the insecurities I had felt in my younger years. I knew why my marriages had failed. I saw the mistakes I had made in raising my children. But most of all I discovered my own skin.

Should I go back and do it all over again in the same day and age, I would have probably do it all the same. I like this new generation who dress as they please. I love that classes are offered for children with all sorts of interests.Now I would look for a man who would be my partner and not the head of the house. I would pursue my 'untried' interests and perhaps a career.

I like remembering who I was, because it has made me who I am. There is something to be said for being a wise old sage.