Saturday, September 30, 2006

Uncle Dan--the fisherman

My dad's only brother died this week and I was able to drive up to his memorial service. When I heard he was gone, my first thought was "The three little orphans are no longer orphans--their family is all together again." Uncle Dan was the last of the siblings to die. My dad left over 22 years ago and their sister Margie left a few years later. Their parents passed two years apart when my dad was only 8, Dan was 6 and Margie 10. They were split up among various relatives with my dad lucking out by getting to live with a kind woman who grew to truly love him. She became our beloved Grandma. Neither Dan nor Margie was so blessed. Once when telling the story of my grandparents' short lives and tragic deaths, my children over-heard and wondered if it was a book I'd read, but no--it is our family history. So now, the end of the sorrow has come and they are a family reunited.

Uncle Dan loved trout fishing and most of my memories of him involve strings of fish laying on our lawn with us admiring them. It was really good to listen to his grown grandchildren tell amusing stories and realize how much the brothers were alike. My dad didn't get to be a grandpa for very long. We children had produced 18 offspring before he died, but most of them were under eight, and so they don't have the great memories I heard about Grandpa Welch from my cousins' children. I'm happy that they have such terrific memories.

It's interesting to realize that someday my children will recount a synopsis of my childhood to their children. I hope it seems more cheerful than that of my dad and his brother and sister--but it should be. My dad worked hard to provide a "happy" childhood for us. We had two parents all through it, they loved each other, and we always had enough food to eat and clothes to wear. It was everything he didn't get.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Visit to Preschool

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Now what could warm a Grandma/teacher's heart more than seeing her grandson at school?? Love the doesn't carry anything, but--come on--it can't be REAL school if you don't have a backpack.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's Green

I just returned from Seattle where I planted flowers with S-Boogie and smiled with Little Dude. It is definitely not the desert there. It reminded me of parts of San Diego as we drove around the old neighborhood by the university. There isn't much "flat" in that part of town, so the bungalow style homes have garages dug out out of the hillside, and then you walk up steep stairs to get to the house itself. The San Diego Sensation evaporates when you see the totem pole outside the shopping center, or the Alaska yellow cedar trees. Think "Dr. Seuss" when picturing the Alaska yellow cedar. All these years, when I saw this tree in a photo, I just thought it was a dead tree covered with long trailing moss. But, actually those are its needles. And apparantly it doesn't need many limbs... The other sure sign you're in Seattle is the plethora of anti-Bush bumper stickers and signs in house windows, and abundant recycling receptacles. There are lots of chatty signs reminding one to scoop while walking the dog, stop for pedestrians, sort the trash, impeach the president.

My sister who's lived there and frequently visited, urged me to eat at Ivar's for fish and chips. I saw their store at the airport on the way home, and ordered a small serving. You see, we love food in our family. We often reccommend things to one another, and sometimes embellish a bit. HOWEVER--I can say without exaggeration that Ivar's fish and chips is stunning, fabulous, sensational, without peer, yummy, tasty--well, you get my's weird when food really exceeds your expectations.

So, if you're ever in Seattle, remember to eat at Ivar's and recycle your trash and the administration.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Morning Has Broken

I had to get up really early this Saturday to drive Cool Guy to the airport and it was just barely dawn when I opened the front door. It was breathlessly beautiful! There is a very large, craggy desert mountain a few blocks east of our home and it was silhouetted by a line of golden light. The sky all around it was deep blue and the air is so clear that every surface was in sharp relief. I just stood and gaped, unable to move, it was so stunning. I really missed this aspect of dawn when we lived on the east coast. The farm where I grew up in the West was also on the immediate east side of a narrow valley and dawn was very similar there. We were in the shade, with the light rising up behind the mountains for a long time before the actual sun peaked over. But you could watch the light spilling over the west hills and crawling eastward as the earth turned bringing the sun into full view. It was one thing I really loved about early morning milking: watching the day spilling over the mountains.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Take your hat off when the flag goes by!

Good grief...who'd have thought I'd have nothing to say? This is the first blog and suddenly I'm feeling shy. Hmmm...

Today I wore my heart-shaped red/white/blue necklace with my blue star earrings (since my heart-shaped flag earrings that I had for more than 15 years were stolen by the creeps who took my jewelry box during a break-in) and I, alone, wore anything remotely Americana. I thank our music teacher for making the musical theme for our morning assembly the Star Spangled Banner. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore Bay on Sept. 14. That is the occasion that prompted the poetry by Francis Scott Key which led to the song. She is preparing the students for Thursday morning when we'll join with thousands of other school children in singing it.

I feel an urgent need to teach more cultural literacy to my fourth graders here in a rather poverty-dominated part of Las Vegas, because so many of them know nothing at all if it isn't on TV. And many of them watch TV exclusively in Spanish, at that. So, today we sang "America" again (we practiced it last week) and then they made books with one phrase from the song on each page. They love drawing and coloring and I needed them busy doing something independently so I can work with individual students giving a reading placement test. Sigh...I'd far rather be teaching, but I must gather data and it'll take about three days.

Anyway, by next summer, at the end of our year round term, my class will know at least five songs about America, and will have sorted out the difference between Lincoln and Washington. Small goals, but strangely retro goals, since the whole design of free, universal public education as envisioned a century ago by Dewey and those radical reformers was to Americanize all those foreigners that were swarming to The Land of the Free and the Home of Brave.