Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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Yesterday I visited the U of A Poetry Center to find inspiration for my month of writing poems. Much to my surprise I arrived in middle of a special event. Family Day is held once a month in the winter months. Graduate students lead activities designed to stimulate interest in different age groups. I was given a name tag and asked what age group I wished to attend. Since 60 and over was represented by the docents I hung out with them for a few minutes asking questions. The groups were gathered with leaders coaxing them to collaborate. The toddlers were drumming and drawing on the floor. The teens were making up ironic statements about dental hygiene (which were very funny). The middle school group was on the patio writing odes. I took a place at the end of the table where I could hear them, but would not disturb them.
I listened to them praise mother and father, bamboo and bugs. The work was brilliant and astute. I spoke to the leaders after the session. They are graduate students studying creative writing. They said that the activities here leave them completely uplifted and amazed every time they do it. The kids blow their minds, just as they had mine. I did some drawing and free writing while half-tuned into my fellow poets on the rock. That was what I had come to do, so I spent 15 minutes on the task. The snacks were being served and the band was playing in the courtyard, so I hustled on out to see what else was happening.
Chalk was provided and words had been applied to the concrete. Hula hoops and a live band made the festive atmosphere complete. The kids clearly loved Family Day. The parents were pleased too. A beautiful work of art was made on the spot by graduate students in art education. Poems written by the kids that day were written on the background. It was a resounding success. I realized that I had come at the perfect time after all because the kids have the pure innocent free wheeling creativity I want to generate next month.
There were two typewriters set up for people to try, and they were popular. The catering consisted of perfectly ripe fruit and muffins, perfect child fare. I enjoyed the ripe pineapple, strawberries, and honeydew melon. I felt like I had attended one of the best children’s parties ever. The band even included a saw player, and what could be better than that?
Each year the Tucson Botanical Gardens hosts an orchid, butterfly, and now tropical frog display for the public. It is popular with families and with me. I enjoy the humid tropical mist on my skin and the fun of watching the butterflies and people. Yesterday there was a lot of activity. Kids love to use the magnifying glass, no matter why they see in it. It is a small lesson in science, botany, biology, and ecology, adapted for all ages. Who doesn’t like butterflies?
We are fortunate to have a wonderful teaching farm in Tucson, and I am lucky it is very close to my home. I visited the Tucson Village Farm during the U Pick hours on Tuesday this week. It is much more than I thought it was. This campus is organized to teach kids how to grow, prepare, and eat organic produce. Much is said about slipping healthy ingredients into the kid’s meals, but this is teaching an appreciation for the real thing. I picked lovely greens and tasted a really good salad made from the garden while I was there. I was pleased to see that many of the customers picking while I was there were kids and parents. This is a natural way to teach the love of gardening and good health.
There is no better way to eat than farm to table. It is encouraging to find this worthy institution making a difference in our city. The food is tasty, too.
I spent my school career through the 8th grade in the small town of Oakmont, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh. This tiny, close knit (nosey) community was about the Oakmont Country Club and Edgewater Steel, and some other stuff. For kids it was paradise with millionaire robber baron neighbors providing lavish recreational opportunities. My parents were Republicans who disliked JFK and did not play golf. On one hand they were non conformist, and on the other, very concerned with image. I had a running battle with my mother for my entire grade school career about bangs, permanent waves, and white socks. These symbols of culture and control were so important to my mother that my wishes were never considered. She stuck my hair in the sink and put stinky stuff and curlers in it against my will, and with loud protest. She always cut my bangs off, mullet style. The most important symbol to Ruby Morse was the little girl’s need to wear white anklet socks. This was truly the most hated of all conditions, the white sock purgatory. Ruby Morse believed that wearing stockings was a sign of loose morals. I believed she inflicted the white socks as a crazed statement of micro management. We had deep, basic irreconcilable fashion differences.
Management of any kind was about to fly out the window when the family moved to San Tomé, Venezuela in 1963. My father became the general manager for Mene Grande ( Gulf Oil) for eastern Venezuela. This meant that I lived in a big house with servants and my father was the boss of everyone in the town where I lived. My teachers in school worked for my father, as did all my friends’ parents. Strangers constantly gave me lovely gifts, and it was obviously too hot to wear white socks. I was the lucky imperialist 13-year-old with everything. I lived in a remote place so radio was a lot less available than it had been in Pittsburgh. The strongest reliable signal came from Radio Havana. Fidel would hold forth for hours and then they played some music. Live music was everywhere. I had a harp serenade at my window by a guy who wrote the song for me. This could not have happened in Pennsylvania. Although San Tomé had a golf course, there was no other commonality with Oakmont, PA. Nothing could have been more drastic, really. I loved it, but when given the chance to choose where I would go abroad for 10th grade, I chose PA because I still thought of it as my US home. I have not visited Oakmont since 1964.
I will return to Oakmont to see some of my school friends in a couple of months. We have all traveled different paths, but mine diverged drastically and forever. I am bringing back memories and enjoying the stories that my classmates remember. Some scenes are vivid as I think of them, and some are gone. I hardly remember any of the parents. Our personalities are in tact, from what I can detect on our Facebook page. We will go and physically be in the building where we went to elementary grades together. I think it will be amazing..our own versions of what we remember. I look forward to it with great anticipation.
I play the part of Auntie Mame to three kids who live in California. I am not grandmother, aunt, or even Jewish, which gives me a distinct place in the family order. I have creative freedom that the other players do not have. I can be indulgent, which I am. I can go home and ignore them, which I do all the time. I feel a responsibility to model for and with them a fair and loving friendship between kids and an adult. This means the authority card can not be played unless there is a dire emergency. We are equals. Of course if I lived with them full time this would collapse quickly, because adults do need authority in order to hang out with kids at all.
They each have distinct talents and abilities. If I have a favorite it would be Max because we share similar interests in technology. This is the child every Apple share holder wants to meet. I think he wants to marry Siri. The kids inherit my old Apple products and are now officially hooked. The issue is that when a boy is alone with his computer, he is likely to just play stupid games and become addicted to it like to the TV. They need restrictions in order to have balance, so mom has very reasonable rules for tech use, which is a powerful force in discipline. To loose privileges to be with the electronics is severe for these guys, so they do behave in order to avoid it.
Yesterday I negotiated the permission for Max to start a blog. He quickly set up his WordPress page and published a picture of himself from the morning as his first post. I convinced mom that the archive will be her most precious possession that she will not need to file or protect. It will be there. Now comes the fun. He is extremely enthusiastic and interested. Mom is happy too because now he does not like to write. I have urged him to be consistent and thoughtful about his content. We talked about technical quality and how to develop interesting posts others want to read. I am curious to see how this will develop. I wonder if his enthusiasm can be maintained, and if he will use this practice wisely. Do you know any kids who blog, and how they got started blogging? I am very interested in finding other youngsters who are involved in this world.
It is with great pride that I present to the blogiverse the talented, the witty , and the very young Mr. Max Levy:
I ripped off his first post, which is this picture. Please join me in wishing him blogging success. We may all learn a lot from this young man. He teaches me all the time. Go Max!!!