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Gary and I had a great time at the circus yesterday, but afterwards we also discussed the difficulties of a life spent performing 32 weeks a year. He knows some of the “hardships of the road” from his many years as a truck driver. It’s not all about fast highways and pretty scenery. And I remember some of the problems encountered by circus families. I taught in Hugo- the winter home of several circuses- for four years. I’ve talked to parents and I know they have concerns for their children’s health, safety, and education. Everything we do each day and much of what we take for granted is complicated by living in an RV in a different city nearly every day and having a career that is physically and emotionally demanding. I salute the small circus and the families who make them possible!
BTW- If you have a chance, be sure to visit Hugo and see some of the circus attractions.
It’s time to choose some of my favorite photos and make a calendar for next year. I do this every year and give them as Christmas gifts. I’ve also sold a few in the past, but given the format and the time involved they become a bit pricey for any sort of major sales campaign. So I keep orders to a minimum.
I know the process pretty well by now unless Shutterfly makes major changes. I enjoy choosing layouts and putting pages together once I get started. But the starting…that’s always a major problem for me. First of all I have to choose what kind of calendar to make. In the past I’ve made bird, butterfly, flower, and mixed photo calendars. I even made one of Caddo photos. Last year I made a bird calendar AND a flower calendar and let people choose. Next, I have to choose the photos. I try to use only photos from the current year to make next year’s calendar, because if I tried to choose from all of my “stock” photos I would never get anything done. I am certainly not a professional photographer or even a particularly good one, but my love of the hobby means I have thousands of photos! I probably delete more photos than most people take. I could literally make an entire calendar of bee photos or dragonflies or rabbits or squirrels. I could create one of red flowers, wild flowers, lilies or tulips.
So…feeling a bit overwhelmed this morning by the task at hand. Choosing favorite photos is about like choosing favorite students. Each is my favorite for a different reason. These are a few that made the cut in the past. I won’t give you a look at this year’s yet…I haven’t made up my mind!
I posted this on my Caddo blog, but I thought I would also share it here because I find it so fascinating to think about someone in 1894 imagining television as a way to persuade Congress to act!! This appears to be a portion of a speech given by Senator Platt at South McAlester concerning the “Indian question”. Treaties, land, government, schools, etc. were debated in Washington and in every town in the Territory during this time period. I might have overlooked this article, but as I scanned the page the word “electricity” caught my eye.
“I wish all the members of the Senate and the House could look in here tonight on this audience and these surroundings could be transferred as it were and there thrown upon a screen as photographs are upon a canvas, and the members of the House and Senate, seeing it, could understand a little something of the condition of affairs that today exist in the Indian Territory.
A few years ago I saw in the newspapers that there had been a wonderful invention in electricity so that in a race at Sidney the audience at Melbourne could see by images the race as it progressed and tell what horse was winning. That was not true, but it was a prophesy of what was to be true and some of our electricians are solving that question today. If this scene could be transferred to Washington and there thrown as I have suggested before the members of Congress they could more intelligently solve the problem they have to deal with.”
Note: The first notion of television was imagined in 1878 and some of the concepts were put into use as early at 1881. A German university student actually patented the first electromechanical TV system in 1884, but the first demonstration of moving images didn’t occur until 1925. I clearly remember my grandmother buying the first television owned by anyone in our family, and I also recall my first encounter with “living color” images!
One of the promises made by early promoters of television was that we would “see news as it happens”. I’m not sure if Senator Platt would still consider it to be a good way to solve problems.
When I called Gary to the dinner table last night I was pleased to see that he was sitting in front of the television, but already “lost” in a book he had picked up at the library on his way home. It’s one that I read this summer, so I’m sure we’ll be discussing it soon. It’s nice to be married to a man who appreciates books as much as I do!
I will probably be the last person you know to buy an electronic device that masquerades as a book. I like the look and feel and weight of a real book. Print on a page brings back so many memories! Even though we moved often when I was a child we always carried a few books with us. I still have my old copy of Black Beauty. We quickly located a library after each move so we could keep reading. One of the locations where we lived for a few years had a bookmobile that brought books to our little neighborhood once a week.
In the early years of my working life I worked for a history book publisher. It was my job to design the books- decide the size, the paper, the typeface, choose the illustrations, etc. I also collaborated with the publisher to promote the books and often attended autograph parties. It was my dream job in many ways.
As a young mother I usually read with a book in one hand and a child in my lap or draped over my shoulder. I often cooked with a book in my hand. And there were many times that my children complained that I wasn’t really listening to them because I was lost in the world of the page in front of me. Guilty as charged!
My mother loved to read and some of our best conversations were about books. Of course some of those were about writing one ourselves. And we did work for many years together on a novel. I still have all 350 pages of it, including many of her hand-written notes. I deeply regret that we didn’t manage to get it published. Perhaps I’ll take another look at it after I retire.
I do read a lot of history books online when I’m researching. I appreciate the convenience of finding them quickly and locating the information I need with the “search” feature. But when I’m reading for pleasure I want the comfort of a book I can hold in my hand. Which reminds me…I need to go to the library.
Gary and I were discussing some childhood memories Sunday as we drove to Hagerman. He made the comment that much of his childhood is a vague blur with only a few specific events that “stand out”. However, like most people, if we begin a discussion of a current event it often triggers a detailed memory of something similar from his past. I think our brains are so filled with information that they need some key words or phrases in order to sort out the correct images. Sort of like a Google search- the more precise the terms you use, the better the results you get.
An example of that is a discussion I had yesterday with a colleague who mentioned that she had some old volumes of a children’s set of encyclopedias. Oh the memories that evoked!!! My father loved to read encyclopedias. He would sit in his recliner and share important and trivial information about countries and animals and famous people. We got a volume of a children’s encyclopedia each week at the grocery store. If you bought $_ worth of groceries, you could buy a book for a nominal price. I don’t think we ever obtained the whole set because, of course, we moved. When my own children were small I bought a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, from a door-to-door salesman. We used those for homework for years and years.
And naturally the memory of getting books at the grocery store reminded me of all the other things we used to get: towels in detergent, glasses in oatmeal, toys in cereal. Many stores also gave out Green Stamps. I “bought” Katrina’s cradle with Green Stamps.
Memories are not only entertaining, but they also trigger some of the feelings associated with them. Most of the ones that pop up quickly are good. The bad ones tend to be buried deeper in our subconscious and thankfully don’t come out unless we are currently in a bad situation. However, even those can be useful. Often times when I recall a bad memory it’s because I need to remind myself “I overcame that once and I can do it again.” or “This isn’t as bad as that was.”
We all have friends and loved ones who are losing some or all of their memories. Sad but true that our memories are a vital part of what makes us unique. If you have not already done so, I urge you to tell or write down some of the memories that are most important to you. Share them with a family member who will treasure and preserve them for future generations. One of my most prized possessions is my collection of Mother’s writings and childhood memories.
I may have discussed all of this before...I don't remember.
Although I’m clearly not a rugged outdoor woman anymore, I do still enjoy being outside. It’s always been my favorite place. So it occurred to me yesterday as we walked one of the trails at Hagerman that having a camera has given me an excuse for staying outside as much as possible. I no longer hike or fish or swim. We don’t go camping. But watching the birds and other creatures and attempting to capture them for even a moment has motivated me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I once walked for miles and miles with Gary, all over the Sierra mountain trails. I think back now and wonder why I wasn’t more enthusiastic about talking photos then. Opportunities lost! I suppose our major goal in those days was just “getting there”. It wasn’t always about enjoying the walk. We hiked to precise heights or locations or for specific numbers of miles. Yesterday I was barely able to walk a short trail through the woods near the visitor’s center. But distance or location no longer matters to me. I enjoyed the walk as much as any I’ve ever taken! My companion of almost 44 years was by my side. The squirrels were playing in the trees. The birds were singing. I even had the thought…since we were on the paved path…that someday I might have to take the same journey on one of those motorized scooters. Didn’t make me sad for even a moment. As long as I’m outside I don’t think it will matter how I’m getting around!
Someone's post on FB yesterday made me long once again for something my parents never could give me. So I am re-posting something I wrote in 2005 which is still true today.
I usually tell people that I don’t have sisters, just four brothers, as though I’m apologizing. There’s nothing wrong with having brothers; it’s just that they aren’t sisters. They’ve never gotten excited about my new outfit or my haircut or my broken heart. They’ve never felt the way I feel. I suppose during those brief moments when I see sisters together and feel a twinge of jealousy it is because I imagine a bond that can’t exist between siblings of the opposite sex. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brothers. I’ve enjoyed their company over the years. However, I hardly think our relationship is as close as it would be if they were girls. And I’m not the same person I would be if they were girls. I blame them for the fact that I’m somewhat of a tomboy and I don’t always act like a lady. “What do you expect?” I always justify, “I was raised with wolves!”
I did have sisters…once…long ago…for a short time. My mother used to tell me about them. Their names were Sandra and Carla. I don’t remember their last names. They were little girls who stayed with us and for some reason made a lasting impression on me. I don’t know why. I was such a little thing it’s difficult to imagine so brief an encounter making a “lasting impression”. I don’t remember the girls staying with us more than a few times over one summer. However, for years I remembered that giggly, sweet closeness that clings to little girls. Each time one of my brothers drowned my rag doll in the bathtub or pulled my hair, I imagined life with Sandra and Carla in their places.
My mother has sisters who are still alive to remind me of her. Each one is a connection to parts of her personality. One has a lot of Mom’s expressions and mannerisms. One has her warm heart and generous spirit. One has her sense of humor. They all have memories and stories of her. They shared a lifetime of experiences. It’s comforting to think that a part of her still lives in her sisters.
I have two daughters who sometimes admit to being sisters. They’ve always been very different and at times have been at odds with each other. However, I think that as they’ve married and had children and experienced some of the same joys and tragedies of life they have grown closer. I hope that in years to come they will rely more and more on each other and find even more to share.
My husband’s cousin has five sisters. Maybe that’s too much of a good thing! It seems to work for them. They have their occasional squabbles, but I know that they are close and have “sister trips” and “sister parties” and “sister dinners”.
Over the years I’ve had some wonderful friends who have seemed like sisters. My childhood friend, Elaine, was a part of my heart for many years, until cancer took her life in 1983. Someday I’ll share a bit of our relationship with you. There have been so many others I dare not make a list for fear of leaving someone out. Each woman has contributed to who I am and made me a better person. Perhaps I really didn’t need a sister after all!
I don’t know that I had any life-altering purpose in writing this. I just ran across this picture and it brought back fond memories. I hope that if you have a sister, you will give her a call or email and tell her how much you appreciate her!
(By the way, I’m the one in the middle.)
I have magical powers. At the very least that must be a rumor going around. Otherwise parents wouldn’t look me in the eye and seriously voice the expectation that after a month with their child I can teach/persuade/force them to do something they, the parent, have been unable to do in the five to six years they have known them. LOL I have to admit to appreciating their confidence in me! However, if they haven’t yet taught their child to behave appropriately, write their name, tie their shoes, recognize the alphabet, count to ten, and blow their own nose, then it will probably take me a few more weeks to do so!
One of the things that older teachers often discuss is the broad range of skills and behaviors we now teach in class that were previously taught at home. The most glaring lack in children today is personal care skills. Many children don’t even ask to have their milk carton opened, shoes tied, pants buttoned, or face wiped. They simply look at me with the expectation that I will immediately perform that task, since someone always has in the past. Some will even drop a spoon or pencil or paper and announce “I dropped….” and expect me to pick it up! Trained helplessness is NOT an attractive quality.
More and more of my students have little or no experience with reading, writing or coloring unless they have been to preschool. A few aren’t familiar with the alphabet. Some can’t count to ten. And yes, the number of children who have NOT been to preschool seems to be rising. I’m not sure if that’s because of long waiting lists or finances or personal choice, but it’s obvious that many who have stayed home have not spent their time doing much more than playing and watching television. Nothing wrong with that if you also understand and accept that the consequence is most likely two years in kindergarten. Very few children entering kindergarten today without preschool experience or parental teaching can “catch up” to their peers. That’s just a fact of life with the new curriculum, expectations, and testing.
Students are also unfamiliar with the concept of following directions because many aren’t asked to do anything in a specific way. There aren’t any procedures to follow or guidelines for a task at home. “Clean up your room” is a general directive that means put their toys somewhere out of the way. I’ve also listened to parents give specific directions, which are ignored, and then the parent steps in and does the task for the child.
I do understand that much of this is the result of busy schedules and overworked parents. But I’m just saying that I can’t be expected to change all of it in a month. Give me another six months and then I’ll show you some magic!