Monday, July 03, 2017

Blueberry picking is like teaching children to read

The blueberry picking is fine this year.
When I am home, my mornings consist of gardening,
and blueberry picking.

The bushes are perfect for wandering
and morning prayer.

The berries that are ripe, roll right off into your hand.
Just a gentle touch.
Much like how children learn to read.
When they are ready, they just roll into the book.
People often think teaching a child to read is magic.
Maybe it is.
After years and years of doing it, my experience was that they read when they are ready.
If you force it early,
they will sour,
just like those slightly red blueberries.
If you hold it away too long
their brains get mushy,
just like those old berries on the bush.
The nice thing about those old ones
when they roll off
they are sweet as can be
just like those old readers.

Anyway-- Her Squash, hibiscus and peppers. All ready for the week of growing in the garden of life!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Can we all get together now?

Long haul.
So far the country has not fallen apart.
We need some changes.
That is what people, in many states, voted for.
Can we PLEASE pass a tax reform law?
And, maybe, attempt to fix the health care system?
Just get it together and get to work!!!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Ancestry finds

Downtown Abby. I blame that show for my renewed interest in my extended family. What were my ancestors doing at the turn of the 1900's? How did they do during WWI? Spanish Flu?

My great grandparents had three boys in the service during WWI. Grandmother Carrie was a founder of, what is now called, Blue Star Mothers of Baltimore.

My grandmother was the life of the party. Lots of photos of her dressed from full length, serious, with gloves to this one in 1917 near her DC front porch. She worked until she married at 30.












My grandfather was one of her beaus. He joined the war effort and served in France. He kept the letters of introduction his uncles had written if he had been captured or killed.

 My mother's father's parents were in Tennessee, editors of a small, new newspaper.  They succumbed to the flu, leaving my grandfather an orphan. He ended up on a train west--at six.

My son in law's family were homesteaders and physicians in the Oklahoma territory. They worked on the reservations. 
My husband's grandmother was a widow very young, remarried a man with 12 children and lived a tough life in a railway station. This is a more recent photo- but she was born into a "push cart" LDS family and was part of the beginning of Utah.
Last, but not least, is my husband's grandmother. I hope to find her name at Ellis Island. She was 14 when she got on a ship, alone, amazing!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

The White Privilege of "Independent Living"? Stepping into it.

Nursing Care, Home Care, Assisted Living, Independent Living
First, let me say that I am bias.
I do not believe that the elderly should be removed from society in anyway.
It diminishes the input of wisdom that comes with age.
It glorifies only being young, and/or privileged.

Next, let me say, that this is an issue that is something I think about, but have no answers for.

This topic continues to return to me.
Is it possible that Independent and Assisted Living is really just a "White privilege" ?

My mother lives in a beautiful independent living facility.
Really, it is amazing and she is well cared for. For her, it is exactly what she desires and I would never deprive her of her choice.

As I walk with her it comes to my attention that there is only one color in those rooms
White
There is only one status in the building
Middle Upper Class wealth.
Here is an entire group of, mostly professional, people
who worked their way up,
or inherited their way there,
but was that "on the back" of the minorities?

Is this actually the exact same thing we have seen for years with the public school systems.
White sections of a city keeping the minorities in their place by offering them schools, but at a lesser extent.
Separate but equal. Pay more taxes and you get better- but it is still equal. Right?

In old age it is worse. Nursing homes, and what they imply, are quickly being abandoned by the privileged class and being filled by the minority, working class. The middle uppers are moving into the cool Independent Living places. "We"save for it. Buy insurance for it. Deserve it.

An example of the expanding supply of alternatives to nursing homes is the rapid growth of assisted living facilities. However, these facilities cater primarily to relatively well-to-do people with private health insurance, and they tend to be concentrated in areas whose populations have high levels of education, income, and wealth in the form of equity in the value of personally owned housing.8 Such areas are typically suburban and predominantly inhabited by whites.

Growth of Racial and Ethnic Minorities of US Nursing Homes

For, as we see the growth in the predominately white Independent Living centers, we see the equal amount of growth in "Nursing Homes" for minority

I "see" lots of privileged white people who rail against how their minority members are cared for. They are willing to spend more of the working people's money on more education (while moving to lower property tax states or out of the country all together).  They insist on higher pay for all, but rarely shop in the stores or eat in the places that "those" people work in. In fact they are hell bent on keeping "big box" stores out-- especially Walmart---but spend the majority of their money on Amazon while the poor pay extraordinarily high prices at little mom and pop stores in their neighborhoods (instead of foods at those big box stores at a reasonable price). They are upset about illegal immigration, but rarely think about the exploitation of the migrant working --even in their own houses or gardens.  

Something just does not ring true to this plight.  

I do not have an answer, even one. I just am beginning to ask the questions. 
Isn't that where social justice really starts?
My Jesuit upbringing  taught me to think of such things, even when I see that my teachers in those schools retire to beautiful San Francisco hills to be cared for, in the way they are accustom, for the rest of their natural lives. 

The ultimate, do what I say and not what I do?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

A stroll through Arlington National Cemetery.
Lest we forget.











Saturday, May 27, 2017

The journey begins--Moving

Military families always seem to be on a journey.
My daughter was military and married military, but decided two moves were too much for her. They got out and plan on never moving again.
My son moves next week.

My family did ten moves in sixteen years.
Wuerzburg, Germany/ Alexandria, VA/ Indianapolis, IN/ Manhattan, KS/ Fort Riley, KS/Monterey, CA/ PokFuLum, Hong Kong/Honolulu, HI/ Riyadh,KSA/ Flagstaff, AZ.

My son's family is on track to be close to our record. They are currently starting their fifth move with about half of our sixteen years done.

What I have learned about moving?

ALWAYS have a safe room. That is where you put the stuff that you cannot live without (like your passports when going overseas).

Don't let them pack the trash in the trash can.

Let it go.  Once those boxes are packed, there is nothing you need from them. Ever. You may even learn that you can do without everything in those boxes. We had one move that our crates went all over the US while we lived in an empty house with blow up mattresses and borrowed pots for six months.

If it is larger then a bread box, expect that it will get dinged.

If you are expecting the move to go without some screaming fits or some wild antics, you are crazy. We spent one move trying to convince our seven year old that her undies were NOT different and she could wear them. Children need outlets and comfort zones. Dogs are almost as bad.

Drive for 100 miles, get out, go to the bathroom and begin again. This will be important this time as my husband and son will drive two cars from CA to NY. My husband says they will be in NY in seven days. My son is less optimistic.

When you get to the new place, set up a children's room and do not mess with it. Same thing if you have a family member that hates to move. Set that room up first. My husband does well if the kitchen is ready to roll.

The journey begins this week. I feel for my daughter in law. I am planning on meeting her on the NY end of a six hour plane ride (with two under 4) with a large cup of coffee and a cruise up the turnpike to her new home.





Friday, May 05, 2017

Sometimes we just have it so easy

My role of Nana is so dear to me.
My oldest grand is on the couch right now, getting ready for a day of homeschooling at my table.

Two days ago I met with some of my distant cousins.
They shared pictures of a side of the family I knew little about.
On picture was of Grandmother Mary.
"She was always such a sour puss."
"Look! I think that is the first time I have ever seen a smile on her face."

So I did some leg work.
Mary was the wife of Oliver. Oliver was the youngest of seven (living) children. My great grandfather was his brother- 17 years apart. Unlike most of his sibs, he did not go on to university. His parents passed away before his teens.
Mary had been brought up by first generation Americans who worked for the railroads. My husband's family was brought up in the rail business. Tough, hard, dirty, underpaid work. She was one of ten.
Oliver and Mary lived with her parents for the first ten years (and three children) of their marriage.
Oliver was a steel man, before unions.
My understanding is that Mary and Oliver had ten children in their first twenty years of marriage (they were married at least fifty years).
Of the ten children: two were stillborn, two passed in infancy, six were raised to adulthood.
I cannot imagine. One miscarriage and I am a mess.
Oliver worked hard, but never seemed to make enough money to sustain them.
Their oldest daughter bought a farm in Northern Maryland. Oliver and Mary moved onto that farm and the two city folks began to work with the rest of the family to raise Christmas trees.
No nice and relaxed retirement for her.
Oliver passed away in 1955. I think this picture (with her best friend and her oldest daughter) was probably at her husband's funeral. One of those rare (although probably fake) smiles on her face.
She went from family to family until she passed in 1963.

Here is Sally. Oliver's middle sister.

She had ten children as well.  Four died in one week from the flu.  Two years later two more were killed in a car crash.  She passed from the flu that year.  Of her ten children, none lived to be adults.

I cannot even imagine.
I have it so easy!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Deep Pantry


This is the day that changed my life.  My husband was in the office on the top end. Our car was near these cars- completely destroyed. I was at school- five miles away. My building was rocked and so was my world. We brought students back to a small compound that had injured soldiers all over it- many of the injured were the parents of the students. We had no idea.

For the next month I made meals for a core group of twenty people on night shift. Night shift in Saudi is day shift in the US- so they were core to the survival of the injured and moving the KIA. Several of the cooks were in the destruction, so that left the night shift to those of us who could put it together.

After having a tour in Hong Kong, I had learned to buy the things my children loved to eat in quantity when I saw it.  The supply ship would come in and three families would purchase cases of dried milk, pasta, pasta sauce, canned meats, jams, flour and yeast (one ship brought us salsa). Divide and conquer.  Each of us had a picky seven year old. It was important to them. It was then and there I can to appreciate a deep pantry.

The commissary officer laughed in Germany when I went for a mid tour breather from Saudi and ordered cases of the same things.  Those foods arrived in early October. November came with a crash and my life became one of "looking for fresh" on the economy. That meant that I would done my abaya and hijab, call one of the few drivers who still would take us places, and head to the market.
People in stress love comfort food. Finding a place that sold fresh ricotta and mozzarella was huge. I had the noodles and sauces in the pantry. I went to a huge market and found baking pans. I learned about the local fresh veggies and fruits in season and how to use dates instead of sugar. We made breads, entrees and fruit platters. It was crazy.

 Since that time, I have always had one. Deep pantry.
My family says that I am a closet prepper, but it is all about the moment.
Canning has added fruits to the winter- fruits from the area instead of South America.

After a wicked ice storm in Kansas in 2009 (we were stuck for ten days), different types of fuels were added to our deep pantry. Bees wax and soy candles, lots of solar lighting, back up water and propane were all a part of that preparation.
The garden is my new part. Having my own foods in the pantry, foods that were brought up in my backyard, well, it is a pleasure.
We finally live in a place where we can ride bikes to get places. We live in a community that can be self sufficient very easily.

Twenty years ago my life was changed by 220 lbs in the back of a pick up truck. Learning to take the good from the bad.
Maybe next year first aide will be on my list of things needed to make myself a part of the deep pantry.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring gardening

Several of my family garden in southern Arizona.
Their gardens are almost done.
Mine have just begun.

Quietly it sat all winter.

 Awaited new soil and a bit of organization


 The herbs and a very early tomato are dug in.
 The raspberries and mint are finally coming back to life.


Asparagus is planted by the creek
BTW- if you are into all things Hawaii or Japan go see Laura at Occasional Nomads.