Saturday, March 17, 2012

Where Did My Mother's Finger Come From?

One of the things I like about having joined From Left to Write is the idea of writing blogs that are -inspired- by a book, but not necessarily a review of it.  Today, my inspiration comes from:

Thirteen-year-old Meredith yearns to become a teacher but must help support her family, so she travels to the city to work as kitchen help in a doctor's household. Conflicts with the butler, and with Maggie, the doctor's spoiled thirteen-year-old daughter, threaten her job from the start. As Spanish flu sweeps the world and reaches their city, members of the household fall ill one by one. Only Meredith, Maggie and Jack, Maggie's handsome older brother, are left to care for them. Every day the newspaper's list of yesterday's dead adds to Meredith's growing fear. Forced to cope, Meredith finds a strength and maturity beyond her years and shows herself to be a true hero despite her lowly station in the household. As Meredith wrestles with questions of duty and responsibility, she opens the door to a future that she thought had been closed forever.  As a member of GoodReads, I received a free preview copy of Yesterday's Dead by Pat Bourke through their First-Reads Giveaways. All opinions are my own. Get your copy available April 1, 2012!

One of my absolute favorite parts of this book are the words of wisdom from her mother that have stuck with Meredith through out her journey and trials.

Just the other day, a friend was talking about her daughter, who's getting ready to head to college. She was talking about having to tell her about the sacrifices she had had to make in order to give her daughter this opportunity. And then she laughed because when she was younger, she'd sworn to herself that she would never have that kind of conversation with her own kids, yet here she was!

It reminds me that there are both good and bad things we take from own experiences as children growing up-- and that some of both will be passed on to our kids.

As I was getting ready to write this, I remember something my mother said to me when I was about 14 after I'd done something worth getting on to me about. She was shaking her finger at me and scolding me when she suddenly stopped and asked, "Where did my mother's finger come from?"

And not two months ago, while I was scolding my oldest and my own finger started wagging, I found myself catching it up in my other hand and asking the same question, with an addition, "Where did my mother's finger come from?.... Or I guess it'd be my Grandma's finger..."

And then I shared the same story with my son and we both laughed. I anticipate at some point in his future, my boy will catch himself shaking his finger at one of his offspring while reprimanding them and, noticing, ask the same question (;

One of my fondest memories are sharing silly moments with my mother. Yup, we were the family doing the bunny hop down the grocery store isle. Or the cha cha. Or the conga. And singing out the blue. Sometimes changing the words to popular tunes to suit the current situation. All of them, I believe, were a lesson from my mother to remember to enjoy life. I would say that it is largely due to her outlook that I'm more of an optimist than a pessimist. And more prone to laughing that crying when a situation leaves you with only those two options. I can only hope that all of this is a legacy that I'm passing on to my two little boys as well.

Every now and then, I hear my mother's voice reminding me to count to 10 when I get upset. Or that if I don't have anything nice to say, it's better not to speak at all. And when I'm boiling eggs, I remember in my mother's voice the instructions-- cover them with water, put a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil. Then turn the heat off and let them sit for 20 minutes so the yolks don't turn green. To be honest, when ever I'm making dishes I learned from my mother, I tend to remember the directions in her voice.

And it makes me wonder if every now and then, when I'm not present, my boys hear my voice offering up words of wisdom that might help them with their current situation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Difference of One

I adore Netflix.  Currently, I'm on a Quantum Leap kick.  It was one of my favorite shows as a kid.  Right up there with Star Trek: Next Generation, Sliders, Night Rider and A-Team.

I'm into the beginning season two right now.  And something dawned on me this afternoon:  Quantum Leap works on the theory of Star Fish.  Really, all of those shows that I loved do.

So what's the theory of Star Fish?

Now I'm not sure where I heard it, but the story goes that a young girl was on the beach and lots of star fish were washing up on the shore.  She ran along, scooping up star fish and tossing them back into the sea.  An adult watching her said, "There are too many star fish to save them all.  What's the point?  Why does it matter?"  And the little girl answers, "Well....I'm sure it makes a difference... to each of the star fish I get to...."


Spring Forward

This morning, I was yet again made a victim of the dreaded yearly Monday-after-the-time-change.  (Meaning that it was incredibly difficult to get up, I ignored my alarm clock and didn't climb out of bed until a full hour later.  Fortunately, I'm on spring break, so it's not that big a deal.)

And this morning, a friend on facebook shared an image that expresses that feeling EXACTLY:

(That and it's a rockin' Princess Bride reference as well-- I call that a double win!)


I just finished reading my friend Kim's blog about people asking -her husband- where she's from.

I don't talk about Ethnicity very often (though I do speak of it occasionally).  But her question, "How would you have reacted?" got me thinking.

I realized that typically, my response is to laugh with what my husband calls my, "Oh, really?" face.  I'm going to blame it on shock and 'the laugh or cry' response. (Obviously, I'm a laugher.)

But unlike my friend, I'm not so 'obviously' any particular ethnicity.  Generally speaking, the speaker assumes I'm whatever 'tan' ethnicity they want to.

I remember the first time I was made aware of being 'different'.  I was 8 and had spent the summer getting as dark as I could just because I wasn't sure just how dark I might go. Turns out, I was almost as dark as my current chocolate colored couches, and my hair went flaming red.  And kids at school teased me about being half black (which was not well regarded at the time (remember:  Early 80s?), especially since my mother is white).

When I was 13, we were walking through a mall and when I stopped to admire the beautiful turquoise jewelry being sold by one of the vendors-- when I looked up at her to ask the price, she looked away like she was doing something wrong, blushed crimson and refused to make eye contact.  She was blonde with blue eyes with her hair in pigtail braids held in place with leather thongs-- and I recognized in that instant that with my naturally long black hair, she thought I was a Native American.

When I was 15 and my parents adopted my fair skinned youngest sister, we went to a company party-- and one of the wives of my father's co-workers, making small talk, said to me, "Your parents have so much love to give" (as she looked over at them cooing over my new little sister), "having adopted your sister (indicating my full birth sister) and you when they can actually have children of their own."  I know I must have had my Oh, really? face on when I responded, "THAT is -our- birth mother and -she- (indicating the baby) is the one that is adopted." as I walked away.  I still remember her face as she stared after me gape mouthed like a cod.  It's funny now, but I was fuming then.

It's not all bad stories though-- I actually considered it a boon when I grew up and got a job selling appliances at Sears.

Because it wasn't a case of being labeled as different--but from people going, "She's one of US!"  If they were ethnically tan-- they would make a b-line directly for me.  I was greeted excitedly in so many languages!  And although they were disappointed when I would tell them I didn't speak it, they were intrigued and excited when I would say 'one moment' and grab the phone.

See, Sears, like practically any company now a days, has customer service lines for people who do not speak English.  So I would dial up the 1-800 number, press the button for the proper language, and as soon as I got a live person who rattled their greeting in the proper language, I would say, "I have two questions: 1. Do you speak English? and 2. Do you have time to play translator?"  It turned out that invariably (and I mean -every- time!) the answer to both was an amused Yes.  Then I would explain that I had customers who didn't speak English wishing to buy an appliance--and we would use the customer service representative as our translator.  Being willing to take the initiative to figure that phone trick out, as opposed to just stopping with, "Sorry, but I don't understand you." got me a -lot- of repeat and word of mouth customers.

Now that I'm older, I tend to take it in stride.

But every now and then... I still find myself 'Oh, Really?' laughing.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Journals of Immortality

One of the things that I love about GoodReads is it's First-Reads Giveaways.

Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Death prophecy to hang over your head? Double check. Seventeen year old Emma Hutchinson struggles to find her place in the world she has been born to as she tries to decide whether she should be with Michael, the boy she has been dreaming about since she was three or if she belongs with Dominic, her betrothed.  As a member of GoodReads, I received a free copy of Bella Notte by Jesse Kimmel-Freeman through their First-Reads Giveaways. All opinions are my own. Get your copy from Amazon!

And one of the things I like about From Left to Write, is writing an inspiration blog as opposed to a review.

Tonight, I'm going to write about journals.

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite memories of my Grandma Betty were of her writing in her journals at the end of every night. She would write down anything of note, but she would also keep track of the weather, temperature and meals. I can still remember her sharing some of her journal entries with me-- and how she could pull them out an tell you years later if a question came up-- like what the weather was like this time 10 years ago, or how much stamps were 6 years ago. It was really cool!

Once I learned how to write, I started keeping journals of my own.  Off and on-- I was never so consistent as my Grandma. Still, over the years until I was 17, I generated over a dozen filled journals.  Then, I headed off to college and got busy enough that I stopped.  Pretty much, my first round at college is only contained within my memories.  I wasn't big on taking photographs and I've never been really big on being in them, so it's almost as though I wasn't even there.  It makes me a little sad.  But I'm thankful to facebook for allowing me to reconnect with so many of my friends from then and to share those memories with them (:

Another 6 years passed and I got friendlier with my home computer.  Started trying to keep a journal saved in documents.  I was even worse at that writing them by hand(lol).  Again, facebook came to the rescue as a way to keep track of the little daily details worth commenting and sharing on (:  And so too is my blog-- this is as close to a journal as I'm ever likely to get again.  Because I've always been of the opinion that you don't write down what you wouldn't mind sharing, even if sometimes, you're quiet about it.  Eventually, I anticipate that my boys will read through these entries and learn more about their Momma.

After all, they say that once something is posted on the internet, it's out in the world forever.  It's as close to immortality as I'm ever likely to get-- and as close as I'm willing to.

As much as I like reading about immortal beings, I have never been under the influence of wanting to BE one; I'm alright with being a simple mortal human.

...with a good internet connection (;

Even MORE hair sticks

I've been making a lot of hair stick for Troy Fest.  As of tonight, I've made 25 different pairs (:  Here are the latest batch:

These are made with wood, stone, nut and shell beads.

These are made with nut, wood, and shell beads of two different lengths.

These are made of glass pearls,  mother of pearl, shell and metal beads, also of unequal lengths.

These are made of nut and stone beads, another unequal length pair.

These are made of glass pearls and shell beads.

These are made of plastic and metal beads, unequal length.
I still have roughly another 25 pairs to make.  It's a portion of how I'll be spending my spring break (amongst finishing other bits of artwork and homework).

Random Observation While Walking Campus

I -love- walking around Troy University and seeing things.  Every semester, there's something.  Sometimes, it's the professors and sometimes, it's the students.

I'm pretty sure this was a student:

It was during my 'take a different route because you've sprained your ankle stupid and can't walk up all the stairs like a normal person' phase of last week.  I walked past it, then it registered and I went back.  Yup, it's an 'F' on a brick by a corner about 5 feet up.  I couldn't tell you why, but at the time, I interpreted it as the wall reminding me of my fail to walk out my front door (lol).

But it also turns out that the administration may well be involved.  See, I have a class in the newly renovated Bibb Graves.  And with my ankle, I was looking for a chair in the hall to sit in before my class (I'd ended up half an hour early trying to make sure I'd have time to get up the previously mentioned stairs.)

And these are three of the images that kept me entertained while waiting for said class:

I actually stared at this one for 6 minutes before I figured out what was that I was trying to figure out--what it was that kept me staring, and then I figured it out:  Every single man is looking directly at the camera....and not a single one of the women is.  I can't tell you why, but there it is.

This one finally made sense, but only when I mentioned it to someone else.  See, when I looked at it, it seemed to me like the man in the center was obviously of more prominence than any of the other people-- more detail and looking directly out at the viewer-- but my friend pointed out the words and theorized that perhaps they're ALL the same man, as a life perspective, with the one in detail in the center being while he was at Troy.  Now, I'm thinking that's sort of right-- except that I don't think the children are him-- I think they're an illustration of him as educator.

^Him                                              and                           ^Him..................

And directly across while I waited for my classroom to empty, I saw this one...and still can't decide if the man in the front row on the far left (from our view) and the man three people to his left (towards the center and our right) have switched pants.  Because the tall man's jacket is an almost exact match for the pants that are too large on the other guy...and the dark pants that he's wearing would go great with the dark shirt of the other man.

I still need to get a picture of the latest stop sign.  It's not the first time they've put a red-bull in the hands of one of the cross-walkers...but this time, they've actually given her sticker wings (: