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I’ve been reading a few of my earliest blog posts this week. I’ve been here since 2005 and I find it interesting to compare my activities and thoughts from the past and see what has changed or remained the same. This morning I’m sharing this post from 2006 because with our involvement in FB and other social media it’s even more relevant today:
I love to watch the Dr. Phil show. Sometimes I even watch Oprah. An hour of observing and listening to the problems of other people leaves me happy and relieved. I’m OK! I’m not so bad! I’m certainly not as bad as those people! I can deal with my petty problems any day. Perhaps that’s the whole point. Perhaps we don’t really care if Dr. Phil solves their problems. We just want to know about them so we can compare them to our own and feel smug.
However, smugness flies out the window when those people are friends, neighbors, or co-workers. I have a relative who once who told me that what he did had no bearing on anyone else. He felt he was totally independent of other people. I’m not sure that’s physically possible unless you are totally without empathy. (I think there is a psychological term for that, and it’s not good.) The rest of us belong to circles of friends and relatives and acquaintances who are joined to other circles, who are part of other circles. One of my co-workers, who lives in another town, went to school with the sister of my son’s best friend. Think about that for a moment. I work an hour away from my school. She lives in yet another town. My son’s friend lives in another state. The interconnectedness of our lives is astounding if we really think about it. And I don’t think it is exclusive to my rural area. When the recent hurricanes devastated other areas of the country I was amazed by the number of people here who have friends and family in the disaster areas.
I was thinking about this today because of several things that happened this week. First, I received an email from someone who asked, “Are you Bob’s daughter? I went to school with him!” What a strange but wonderful thing it is to hear from someone in another state who knew your parents in high school. And she also mentioned how my grandfather had worked on their house.
Then someone I’ve been corresponding with for a community organization asked if I was the same person who was in a university publication from several years ago. I am, and she was in the same issue!
Then we had our fundraiser for the firemen on Monday night and the auctioneer was a former student of mine from 1981! They do grow up!
I’ve had a different perspective about my work and my life this week. I’ve paid more attention to the people around me. I’ve listened more closely. I’ve watched more intently. We’re all part of an ever-widening circle. And my life is a part of theirs.
I think one of the most important verses of the Bible is Genesis 2:18, “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone;’” God knew we would grow because of our relationships with other people. My relative was wrong. What we do matters to other people. Who we are and what we say matters to other people. When other people are even remotely connected to us we have greater sympathy for their problems. We’re more likely to help them. We’re more likely to understand them. Our lives have an impact on them today and tomorrow and ten years from now. I hope you take some time to notice the people around you today and think about the impact you have on each other’s lives. It’s not good to be alone.
There are often times when I talk to the children at school or listen to comments made by parents and I realize that my own childhood must have taken place in the Stone Age. There are so few correlations between my experiences and those of the children around me! Good or bad, my life revolved around work, education, more work, and a little play. The adults around me ruled the world and if I wanted something I had to earn it. I was expected to be polite, respectful, and responsible. I’m not going to tell you I always was…but punishment for not living up to expectations was swift and severe. I didn’t have my own television or phone or other devices. There wasn’t any entertainment in our car. Movies were something we went to…once in a while…at the drive-in. Food choices were made by my parents. “Fast food” was a strange new innovation. And work was always given priority over everything else.
My earliest memories involve work. If there was something that I could do at home I was taught to do it. I did dishes while standing on a chair. I learned to make my bed, set the table, fold laundry, and sweep the floor before I was old enough to go to school. I could pluck a chicken, snap beans, wash clothes in the wringer washer, and make biscuits from scratch before I was ten. I also chopped and picked cotton, cut grapes, tied vines, sorted olives, loaded hay, fed animals, worked the pipes that irrigated our fields, picked peaches, and cut fruit for the “drying shed” nearly every year from age six until I was fourteen and we moved here.
If I wasn’t working I was reading or studying. Education was very important to my parents since my mom didn’t finish high school and my Dad barely did. They wanted more for their children and they constantly told us we had to excel in school. I usually had to do my homework without any help because Mom was too busy with my brothers and Dad was too tired to be bothered. I was always worried about my grades and about pleasing my parents and my teacher. Report cards were examined very carefully and if we got in trouble for something at school we were in BIG trouble at home. I only did that once!
Play time was almost always spent outside. I remember watching cartoons and Tarzan or the Lone Ranger on Saturday mornings if there wasn’t anything to do in the fields. Other than that we were out playing in the yard, in the trees, or in the woods, depending on where we lived. We made up games. We pretended to be cowboys or soldiers or aliens. I sometimes played with dolls, but mostly I “played like a boy” because my brothers were often my only companions.
I’m sure my observations are limited by my current environment and my conclusions don’t apply to every household, but it seems that play is the dominant priority for children today (and for some adults as well), education is only important to a few families, and personal responsibility isn’t expected until children are at least ten. But, like I said, I grew up in the Stone Age…so what do I know?
It’s probably my imagination, but this school year seems to be “flying by” and I find myself quite surprised to be contemplating first report cards already! I sent home a note yesterday about the many activities we have coming up in the next three weeks and I know my parents are also busy with sports and other family obligations. I don’t know how they do it all!
Daylight saving time doesn’t end until November 2, so I find myself going to work in the dark. Although I don’t have SAD, as some of you do, I still prefer to come and go in the daylight. I offer my condolences to those of you will be severely affected by the coming changes in our daily light patterns. Darkness depresses…
Next week is Fire Prevention week. Make sure you check your heaters and fireplaces, check or install smoke detectors, think about escape plans, and talk to your children about fire safety. Two of my relatives died in house fires, and others have been seriously injured, so it’s often on my mind.
Candy, candy, candy! It’s everywhere! Tried the M&M’s White Chocolate Candy Corn. Beyond sweet! Wow!
And of course, who can change the calendar to October without thinking about Halloween? My students are already talking about their costumes!
It's going to be a busy month. Let’s stay safe and sane!
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.