Tuesday, December 26, 2006

More Louisiana Christmas

Here are some more pics from Christmas Eve...

Christmas morning...

John and Ricardo--hams....

Hunter and Hannah

A Louisiana Christmas

Ethan and Sofia

We came to Louisiana to visit Mama and Dad, John, Shelly, Hunter and Ethan--we arrived and set up the mountain of gifts under the tree, had some nog, and got to visiting. The next night we went to see the Nativity Story, very sweet. And then yesterday we celebrated Christmas, as always, eating a great dinner together and then opening the gifts. We played Pictionary at the end of the night which was nice. It's the first time Hunter was old enough to join in the game and it was so much fun!

Today we drove to Baton Rouge and visited Renee, Jason and Nicholas. I love how we can just pick up and reconnect, no matter how much time we've spent apart. It was so nice when they lived here in my mom's neighborhood and I could just sneak off and visit for a little while.
Tonight my cousin Santiago and his wife Fini arrive from Argentina for a visit. I haven't seen him for years and years, since he lived here with mom and dad and went to school at University of Louisiana (woo-hoo alma mater). Then tomorrow we go home because Ricardo's cousin Alicia, with husband Tom and sister in law Mercedes arrive for a visit to ring in the new year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Why I don't go to malls...

Katie and Hannah earlier this year

Today Hannah met a friend of hers at the fabulous, new, Northpark Mall. Sofia and I decided to stick around and shop while Hannah hung out with Katie. I hadn't been to the mall for a long, long time--a year? It wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be, or maybe it just doesn't feel as crowded now that it's so huge! We had a good time, and actually did get some gift shopping done. It was so overwhelming though, there is just so so so much stuff, many beautiful things vying for my attention.

I figured out what it is that unsettles me about shopping at the mall. Even though we bought several items, there is just so much that we could buy, there's so much that is 'wantable'. Instead of a feeling of satisfaction, I walk away feeling somehow deprived, knowing that I could have bought so much more but didn't, knowing that the girls want so many things there, and that no matter how much we buy, there would be that many more things that didn't get bought that were just as nice. It's just too much!

For the first time this year we have actually made lists of things we've been hankering for. It's so much easier to buy for each other, and it's nice to be able to tell others in the family that "perfect gift". Otherwise, it's just a shopping frenzy, without knowing if you'll actually make the mark, and that's what I hate the most about shopping.

Well, I hope all your excursions are fruitful!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

True or False?

I get a lot of email...solicited and unsolicited. Whenever I get a forward, it's automatically a red flag because most of what "goes around" is just not true!!! I use a couple of websites to check things out whenever I'm not sure, one is www.snopes.com and the other is www.urbanlegends.com. I got an email the other day from an unknown source, truly a sad story about a baby dying unexpectedly, with a blog of the family including a link to a website where you can donate funds in the baby's name. Ok, I hate that I've turned into a total cynic on these things, but it just didn't feel right. The blog only had a few entries, starting in September for a baby that "died" when he was 18 months old. The parents of young children I know either don't have time at all for a blog, or if they do they really keep up with it and use it as a way of staying in touch with everyone. I don't know anyone who knows anyone who knows these unfortunates who thought I should hear about their tragedy a week before Christmas. I checked on snopes and urbanlegends and neither one had the story...so maybe it's for real, and if so I'm really sorry and sad for this family.

So, while I was on the Urban Legends site, I was browsing the top 25 recent and crazy things going around on the web, and then the list of Christmas stories, and this one that's actually TRUE is worth checking out. Can you imagine being this guy's neighbor? You would end up having a seizure by the end of the holidays with the light effects going at you each night.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Parranda on the News

We were on Fox news last night! Here's the link:


I'm not sure how long the link will be live, if anyone knows how to save it, to youtube preferably so it can be viewed from there, please let us know!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Parranda 2006

(Dulce, Carla, Paola and Maria Conchita)

Last night was our last Parranda of the season...well, maybe just one more! If it happens it will be a last minute thing. It's been a lot of fun this year, it went by so fast! Here are some of our favorite moments of Parranda 2006:

  • A really pregnant Venezuelan woman dancing a "tambora" with her husband--so that's how venezuelan children come out knowing how to dance! (Carla)
  • The abuelita (grandmother) dancing and coming to ALL of our performances (Hannah)
  • Ricardo acting like he was mad in the middle of a song and that he wouldn't sing anymore, and everyone sort of panicked, except the guys who were 'in on it' (ok, that's Ricardo's favorite, definitely not mine...)
  • Sofia playing a new instrument, tambora--although I love when she plays the furruco, but we really needed another tambor player
  • Renee and Shawna at Zaguan, I had so much fun that night. The energy of the audience was awesome and I had a blast watching Renee and Shawna watching everything around us!
  • Our Parranda Emergency when Conchita lost her voice, and Nayi came to solo at the Navidad Latinoamericana, it was great having her back!
  • Our new logo and shirts!!!!!! Hannah seems to think there's a danger of us going memorabilia crazy, but I just want caps, keychains, pens, sunglasses, cups, boxers...

For all the details on parranda, bookmark the blog: http://parrandavenezuela.blogspot.com/

That's my update for Parranda 2006!

Friday, December 15, 2006

What I want for Christmas

Today our AmeriCorps grant went out into the ether of e-Grants....That's what I want for Christmas, funding for the next three years. Other things that would be nice:

  • a house that runs itself without our having to maintain it
  • landscaping for our yard
  • 4 day weekends so we can run around having fun and being busy for 2 days, then lounge around the house for two days (instead of one OR the other)
  • electronic equipment that can read my mind and never needs recharging
  • a self vacuuming car (hey, we have a self cleaning oven...)
  • clean air every day

And of course, peace on earth, healthy friends and family, and lots of love and laughter. Did I mention funding for the next three years...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

End of an Era

(Sofia, Sarah, Hannah, Mary and Rebecca, l-r, on our *last* Friday night dinner at Starfish)

We rarely realize the last time we do something. For example, when the girls were little and crawled into bed with us in the middle of the night, it was always a sweet disruption, then one day they stopped doing that. I remember when Sofia used to "make" me tuck her in bed every night, and then one day she just stopped asking, I miss that! We don't realize it's the end of an era until it's long over. I guess I'm getting to an age where melancholy for how-things-used-to-be starts creeping in...

Here's the latest thing that's disappeared from our life. Since the begining of the school year we have had a fixed date at Starfish Restaurant every Friday evening. "We" is an assortment of families living in Oak Cliff whose children go to Harry Stone or Townview. Whoever showed up was meant to be there that night. We've celebrated birthdays, traded summer stories, made plans and laughed a whole lot. The food was good, with wonderful sweet potato fries, awesome desserts and a byob policy that suited us perfectly. We were pretty much regulars and thought we had started a tradition that would last forever...and then Starfish closed...WHAT? Not wanting to let go, we went to Vitto's last Friday. We're going to have to come up with some sort of plan because we can't stop getting together...it's the end of the Starfish era and the begining of....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend Fun!

( Renee and Ricardo on their way to cheer on the Saints)

We had a fabulous weekend! We had a good time with Renee on Saturday, including a rocking performance of the Parranda Venezuela at Zaguan. We tried to prepare Renee for how CRAZY it can be at Zaguan when we perform but it even exceeded our own expectations! I'm not sure how many folks attended but I'm thinking it was upward of 100? 150? Fortunately, Shawna came early to the house and then hung out with Renee that night. Like the typical little kid with friends in the audience I kept looking at them and stepping out of "stage presence" to talk to them during the performance. It was so much fun to have them there! Then Sunday after brunch at Cafe Jordan and a little shopping Ricardo and Renee went to the Saints - Cowboy game, and the miracle to top it off...the Saints won! The only down turn is that Ricardo lost his wallet...or it was lifted during the game...I think that even that couldn't ruin his happiness that he got to see his beloved Saints in person!!!! It was his first professional football game ever, and to see the Saints no less...and then have them win?! Wow, talk about weekend fun!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's cold...

My Texas Toes, unprepared for snow in October, when I was in Wyoming.

It's been really cold here lately, in the 30's at night, but I'm not complaining! I still remember the horribilitating heat (no, it's not a word, but it describes perfectly the horrible and debilitating heat of Texas summer....) So, yes, it's very nippy out, but I'm enjoying putting on my winter duds, including my wonderful collection of Bolivian lambswool wraps.
Today my friend Renee came to Dallas, from Baton Rouge, for a business trip. I'm enjoying having her here so much! We went out for dinner (Starfish is closing? more on that another day...) and then went to Libba's fire. It was nice but we got really cold and came home early. Amazingly, there are no plans for tomorrow during the day, so we'll do something fun and spontaneous (movie? museum? shopping?) and then tomorrow night is the performance at Zaguan. She's staying through Sunday, for the Cowboys/Saints game, and then home on Monday. What a treat!

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Christmassy Weekend

Ricardo in the Bishop Arts District after our performance

On Saturday Parranda Venezuela performed twice. First was our traditional presentation at Casa Trevino here in the 'Cliff. It was really nice as always. The residents of Casa Trevino are all self sufficient older folks and they really appreciate the attention and entertainment. We sing our QUIETEST songs, which is a difficult feat with 3 drums and 10 voices....and then have hot chocolate and give them each a little gift. This year I bought mugs with some candy in them. We had a full house, with some new faces, and were happy to see some familiar faces. It's my favority performance we do, and I always want to come back later in the year, but then time flies and I never do. This year we HAVE TO.

Then we went to each at our favorite pizza joint in the neighborhood, Vitto's, and had dinner before bracing ourselves for the outdoor performance in the COLD evening! Thanks so much to our friends who came out to support us!!! A shout out to the Ehrlichers, Shawna, the Davis Family, Nayi, Pedro and everyone! You really warmed our hearts (the rest was frozen...).

Then today...the four of us went with Shawna, Tristyn and Forest out to the hinterlands of Dallas, to Quinlan Texas, to cut down a Christmas tree. Again, brrrrr, but well worth it! We took some hot chocolate and cut down our tree which is now on the back deck waiting to be put up. It won't be decorated until Tuesday or Thursday unfortunately...hopefully we can put it in water at least.

The reason we couldn't decorate it right away was that Ricardo and I went to a meeting of the musicians who will be playing at the Navidad Latinoamericana on the 16th. It was a lot of fun, we made plans for the event and then sang a bunch of other songs just for fun. It was a nice mix of Argentino's, Chileno's, a Brazilian girl and Ricardo and I. On the night of the performance all the bands will be coming together at the end to sing Silent Night/Noche de Paz in Spanish, Portuguese then English--it was so beautiful tonight, it will be absolutely STUNNING on the night of the performance with 50 voices!!!!

So that was our very Christmassy weekend, the holiday season is officially begun!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Time Flew!

Jason, Shawna, Ricardo, Edgar and Carla at our Thanksgiving table.
Wow! What happened? Well, Happy Thanksgiving...we stayed here in Dallas for once and really enjoyed NOT having to face the drive, although we all missed the Lousiana family! Normally we don't mind driving, but Thanksgiving is just CRAZY with traffic...the 6 hour drive to Lafayette turns into 9 hours, the 3 hours to Austin becomes 5 or 6...it's very aggravating!

So, we stayed in Dallas, and had Shawna, Jason, Trystin and Forest over; as well as Nayi, Edgar, Lupe and Duli. The girls really outdid themselves making some of "Abu's" recipes, and between what we cooked and what everyone brought we had quite a feast. The best part as always was the after dinner conversation that lasted into the night!

We had a great time on the other days home, going to movies, hanging out, cleaning the house, sleeping and reading. Then the rude awakening on Monday! My grant deadline rapidly approaches....an interim deadline is this Friday and then the final deadline is December 15th--I can't wait!

Oh! and on Sunday we had our first Parranda performance! We were kind of nervous, it was an early morning event (hey, 9am is early to me...) and so the first performance was kind of shaky. By the 11am performance we were warmed up and did so much better! Thank you Unity Church for inviting us!

Ok, I'll get back to posting more regularly. I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day and is gearing up for a good Christmas and New Year!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Music and Friends

(Forrest, Mr. Wright-Principal, Sofia and Cristal)

Last night Sofia debuted her composition at the Middle School Piano Recital at Harry Stone. It was a very nice recital and Sofia played three songs, including a duet with her friend Blanca and another with the piano teacher Mr. Brown. At a prior recital she aparently told Ricardo that she wanted flowers like some of the other girls have gotten after playing, so we brought her these roses. She didn't seem that enthusiastic about them, maybe she got over that! Anyway, I loved how she played, although being the expert she of course found fault with her performance...

I'm so happy for her that she loves piano so much, it seems like such a wonderful outlet to have. Even though we really didn't have room for a piano in the house, we managed to carve out a space in her room for the piano--thank goodness it's not in the living room because she's ALWAYS on the piano. In fact I know she's awake because I can hear the piano, and then know when she falls asleep because the piano stops...

This is Sofia's last year at Harry Stone--it will be my 12th year as a parent there!! She's already working on her application to the Talented and Gifted (TAG) High School, which is due in February. We should know by March or April, that's when Hannah found out and I remember that it's nerve-wracking to wait for that response!!! This year it's going to be very competitive because TAG was named the best high school in the NATION last year by Newsweek magazine. Yikes...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Want to Gogh...

I had a great time last week when Janet and I went to see the Hatshepsut exhibit at the Kimball in Fort Worth. I was really impressed with how different the style was from other Egyptian works I've seen. It reminded me of when I first came to Dallas and Janet and I went to see King Tut. It had been too long since I'd had a high brow outing with a girlfriend! Now I really want to see the Van Gogh "Sheaves of Wheat" exhibit, I apologize for the pun in the title...

Ever wonder what kind of art movement you would be? Well, I hadn't thought of that either, but found this on the web and thought it was kind of funny and interesting. I DO love impressionism, or it was one of the first artistic styles that I noticed for myself. So I took this silly quiz and found out...

You Are Impressionism
You think the world is quite beautiful, especially if you look at it in new and interesting ways.You tend to focus on color and movement in art.For you, seeing the big picture is much more important than recording every little detail.You can find inspiration anywhere... especially from nature.
What Art Movement Are You?

So, go on, find out what kind of art movement you are...you know you want to know...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pictures and Words

The moon rising over downtown Dallas tonight - one of those sights that's so much more spectacular in person!

I have just discovered the world of photo blogs and I'm hooked! Being able to capture a moment in time, or a great scene is one of life's great pleasures. Putting up pictures is one of the things that attracted me to blogging in the first place. My first love is still words though! The combination of words and pictures...as they say in the famous ad...priceless...

You have to check out the Dallas Photo blog, actually both of them:

http://dallasdailyphoto.blogspot.com/ and http://dallasdiorama.blogspot.com/

And on either of them you can see a list of other city photo blogs, the ones I saved were Edinburgh (there's no Aberdeen, so this is my Scottish fix), Mumbai (the colors!), Oulu Finland (this one captures the BEST images), Paris (for Shawna!), Port Vila (because there wasn't a Guam and this was in the 'vicinity'), Seguin, TX (for that small town TX bit), and Wailea (to remind me of my trip there with Sofia).

Earlier this year a small group of us started a sort of book club based on "The Artist's Way" book. It was so much fun! We only had a few meetings and then summer got in the way, and then our group was DECIMATED by two of the 5 members moving out of Dallas (we miss you Gretchen and Milena!!!). The goal I set myself has already come about, I wanted to write more. I set that as my artistic goal and totally internalized it, to such a degree that even though I didn't really think about the goal anymore I started writting! First one blog, then another...(home and work) and then started writing some letters...and now I have an idea for a Spanish language column I'm thinking about. That's a lot bigger committment but I'm really interested in trying it out. And then there's school....

I had left a PhD hanging a few years ago...no, I'm not going back and getting my PhD...rather than leave it as a bunch of coursework I would like to go back and turn it into a second Master's degree. That would also involve some writing....maybe not as fun as this! So, I guess I'm a writer again. Or maybe I never stopped being one, I just like to add pictures now.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ayer Marchamos, Hoy Votamos

(The "Marcha" reflected onto the windows of City Hall,
Downtown Dallas, Spring 2006)

"Yesterday we marched, today we vote". That's on a sign I saw in my mostly Latino neighborhood recently. It reminds me to VOTE TOMORROW! And that has reminded me of my strongest election memories, which I'll recount below...all six of them:

  1. High School - I either ran for office or helped my friend run. What I remember was the smart-alec negative campaign slogan against a fellow student. Our poster had the competitor's picture with the slogan "Can you really trust this person with your vote?" This was during the era of the "tricky Dick" impeachment hearings, so we thought it was clever...needless to say "the man", ie. principal, squelched our campaign saying it was innappropriate...
  2. College - my first service project was an idea I hatched up after reading an article about hunger in Lafayette Parish (ie. county). I went to the Clerk of Court Office and proposed that we have a canned good drive along with an upcoming election. The Clerk agreed, and to my JOY even gave me a little office and use of the copier and phone...I've always loved office supplies! Of course he got a lot of PR value out of it, and I had a great experience actually making a project happen in the community!
  3. Before leaving Lafayette I somehow got roped into being an election judge. I thought it would be exciting to be a part of the election process. I hadn't taken into consideration the early hours (I had to BE THERE at 6am), the late hours (didn't leave until 10pm) and how BORING it would be most of the time...even in Louisiana there was no cheating, no drama...
  4. I was so excited when President Clinton won because it was my first EVER election outcome that matched my vote! At the rate we're going, it may be the ONLY one...
  5. Two years ago Ricardo became a citizen and a few weeks later got to vote in the presidential election. It was wonderful to witness how seriously this new American took his privilege. I hope all the new NEW Americans vote tomorrow. Yesterday they marched, now they should vote...
  6. Earlier this year, Sofia ran for VP of the student council. She learned a lot throughout the process, she did a great job planning her speech, she made "Be Weir'd" buttons for hours, she campaigned hard...and lost...it was a disappointment I know, but she's moved on and learned from it!

Well, let me know your favorite election memory...By the way, Sofia and I went to the "Marcha" earlier this year, check out our video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjHlPIO9-ko

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

When do we get too old for this?

From Left to Right
Hannah "Cupcake", Sofia "Ozma the Good Witch", Ana "Wonder Woman", Alexa "Devil" and Rebecca "Cat"

It's Hallowe'en and we've just been trick or treating for the past few hours. The girls wore highly stylized outfits representing a cupcake (Hannah) and Ozma the "Good Witch" from Wizard of Oz (Sofia). I keep wondering when they will tire of this epoch of childhood, but the lure of candy and hanging out with friends in the middle of the week is just too strong.

Being teenagers, this year was a little different...we had 4 girls here at the house getting dressed and putting on make up together in a flurry of laughter, advice ("You need whiskers") and self doubt ("What if people can't tell what I am?"). After much primping and fixing, we were ready and drove over a few streets to a friend's street where they go "all out".

We walked up and down three streets while it got colder and colder. As I walked I couldn't help but think through the years and their many costumes (bear, witch, bride, cat). There were so many cuties out there, and such generous neighbors who prepare for hundreds and hundreds of children from all over the area. The girls had a blast, only one wondered aloud "When do we get too old for this?" I said "when you feel too old I guess..." It seems they still feel very comfortable holding on to some parts of their childhood, that's fine with me!

I read an article in Oak Cliff People newspaper about the areas of our neighborhood who get the most traffic. They interviewed a single man who prepares for hallowe'en by purchasing 100 lbs of candy! He commented on the fact that many of the kids who come by his house are not from his immediate neighborhood. He said something to the effect of "I know alot of the kids aren't from this neighborhood, but I'm glad they come by for candy because they may not feel safe where they live." I thought that a really sweet and generous perspective.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

We're growing and changing!

(Hannah and Sofia on the first day of school, August 2006)

One of the themes they learned in preschool (with the BEST Montessori teacher ever....thank you Miss Margo...) was "growing and changing", whether that was with plants, or in themselves. Whenever I would assume they liked or disliked something (ex. "I thought you hated peanut butter...") they would pointedly remark, "I'm growing and changing, Mama."

Each year on the first day of school I take a picture of them standing at our front door. It's amazing to see those pictures lined up. In the first, Hannah is alone carrying a backpack that's bigger than her. Then there's their first year together in school, each of them clutching their lunchboxes. In this year's picture they look so happy and sure of themselves. I think back to my own sullen days as a teenager and am so glad to see them this way!

Of course, they are not always "happy campers". We're always having lengthy discussions (ok, I know, they are really lectures...I just can't stop myself) about all the dangers out in the world, and how easily an impulsive wrong decision can change your life for the worse in a split second, etc. etc. I tell them that I trust them, it's the world I'm scared of, but as is natural at this age they want more freedom, more choices, etc. And of course, we are the ONLY PARENTS IN THE WORLD who are this closed minded, etc. etc. Every now and then I'll have a conversation with another beleaguered parent about these things and we always end up saying something like "well, I'm glad I'm not the only one...". I get the feeling we're all recipients of that ONLY PARENTS IN THE WORLD comment ...

This morning Sofia made breakfast for us, a very new thing in this household. We had a talk about colleges and what to look for, where to go, balancing wants and opportunities, scholarships, etc. They were reacting kind of "deer in the headlights" because it seems so far away to them but it's really only 2 years away for Hannah and 4 for Sofia, and time goes by so fast.

After that conversation Sofia came to me and said "Mama, I think I want to be a jounalist" - I was so HAPPY because that's what I originally wanted to become! I told her that I thought it was a good career because it has a lot of flexibility, you can be in publishing, in newspapering, in magazines, freelance, on staff, web based, etc. And, you can combine it with your other interests, ie. music, fashion, science, medicine, politics, travel. I want her to have the world wide open to her though, and told her she has plenty of time to decide and to keep her options open.

Later today Hannah and I took Chinche (dog) for a bath at the "Dirty Dawgz Self Service Pet Wash"--an excellent concept by the way--and then had lunch together at the Cosmic Cafe. It was so nice to have lunch together just us and I started musing about the near future (next 10 years...) and how, soon we wouldn't be living together anymore...and won't share the daily routine of life together. It's a natural part of life, of growing up, and also unimaginable to me. They are indeed growing and changing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Still Far From Home

(View from the top of Capulin Volcano, NM - driving home!)

This is my third week away from home and the strain is begining to show. I have been talking to the girls and Ricardo every night but YA, enough, it's time to go home. I miss my girls!!!! I guess it's a good thing to be gone long enough that we miss each other, absence makes the heart grow fonder and all of that. It's just not the same to talk on the phone! They are growing so fast and seem almost like women to me. When I hear their voices on the phone though they still sound like little girls to me. Peggy and I were remembering the other day when I first started traveling for HIPPY, when they were little, and how I would cry every time I'd see someone with a little girl their ages. We would be at a mall or restaurant somewhere (Colorado, California, New York...) and I'd see someone with a little girl and just break down.

Well, tomorrow I go home, I can't wait!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Working in Wyoming

(View of Copeman's Tomb, Big Horn Mountains, WY)

After a 3 day meeting in Denver, I drove up to Wyoming where my parents are fitting in the last days of their "summer" hiatus. The drive up was a beautiful display of fall colors and such a different view of what I thought I knew so well. The cottonwood trees are a golden yellow, and because they are so huge they can be seen from afar.

I've been getting so much work done here, and enjoyed spending time with my parents, one-on-one, cooking for them, eating together, talking and visiting. For lunch each day I've taken a nice walk, but today it's SNOWING and raining so I've stayed in, plus my back is hurting. If the rain stops I'll go out today too.

Yesterday I went to visit Cliff and Rowena, they are working on starting up a Geo-Science Museum here in Shell! I've committed to helping them. It seems that I can be most useful helping them with their board development and planning at these begining stages, and later on with developing materials for parents and children visiting the museum. It's an exciting project and even moreso to be in on it from the ground level.

I've been getting SO MUCH work done here, on projects and tasks that have been piling up, especially things that take some spreading out and quiet thinking time (neither of which do I have much of at the office). In the evening though, I miss home, and especially my girls. I've been talking to them every day, and yesterday was hard because I feel like I should have been home. Hannah is sick, I think food poinsoning, and Ricardo too, with a cold. They both sounded pretty pitiful over the phone, and are probably staying home today.

I've decided I could make this a habit, saving some heavy thinking and writing work for a trip to Wyoming, and spending time with my mom and dad here for a week or so in the Fall.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What's up ahead?

(View from the porthole of a railcar from Alamosa to LaVeta)

On Saturday I embarked on a road trip from Dallas to Alamosa, Colorado, just me, with the ultimate destination of Denver and later, Shell, Wyoming. It's 706 miles to Alamosa, which is almost 12 hours with no stopping (like that's going to happen...). It didn't take me long to stop at a winery outside of Dallas, one that I'd passed by many times on prior road trips. In the past it always seemed too close to Dallas for me to stop on my way out or on the way back home. But it was just me in the car and I decided to stop anyway. I didn't spend much time there, but it was SO worthwhile. I bought a few bottles of Texas wine, and took some pictures of the grapes and the soap-berry trees that I'll put up later when I get back home.

I only stopped a few other times, for gas, snacks and a few must have pictures...a field of spent sunflowers, some beautiful New Mexico clouds in the sunset. I rolled into Alamosa at almost 10 pm, thanks to gaining an hour when I crossed into Mountain time. I stayed with friends Peggy and Wally in Alamosa, and had a chance to taste the fine Texas wine I bought, not bad at all!

Saturday we went on a train excursion, from Alamosa to La Veta, through some beautiful fall foliage. (I'll also put up pics of that when I get home.) The Aspen trees are a bright, golden yellow right now and stand out beautifully against the pine trees. It's a tourist train and there was a lot of ooh'ing and ahh'ing at the fall colors and scenery. One interesting thing I noticed is the natural human inclination to crane our necks out the window to try to see what's up ahead. After a few hours of this, my neck and I were relieved to get off the train and enjoy the sweet little town of La Veta. Check out the pictures and information on this website: http://www.sangres.com/places/laveta.htm.

We had a nice lunch and peeked into a local art gallery and before you knew it had to get back on the train to return to Alamosa. On the first craning of my neck, the twinge I felt there made me stop to ponder--why am I so focused on trying to see what's ahead when there is some BEAUTIFUL scenery right in front of me? It's such a strong human impulse, to see what's around the bend, what's in the distance, behind the door, in the box, in the future. What about what is right in front of us, why isn't that as valuable? It should be more valuable, it's ours and it's here and now. The more we focus on what's up ahead, the less we can enjoy what we have right now. I made the return trip an exercise in enjoying what I had right before me, and enjoyed it so much more. The little nap I took helped too...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Three Speeds

I recently had a revelatory moment of insight into myself. When it comes to time, I only have three speeds. There's the past, that's easy, you can't really change it, either you remember it or don't and either way it's forgivable. There's the present...that's where I am at...the here and now. Sometimes the shadow of the past nudges onto me and I get sad or happy. It's when the future interferes that things go wrong...The future is my problem area...and it's easiest to explain by example. On a Tuesday someone calls me to suggest we get together on Saturday, "Great" I say, wonderful idea! On Thursday, someone else calls to ask me if I can help them with something on Saturday, "Of course" I say, be glad to...and on Friday night one of my daughters reminds me that on Saturday I promised them we would....(fill in the blank), "Ah, yes, I remember", and I am looking forward to it! You see, to me Saturday is not "Saturday, October 10th", it's "The Future" also known as "Not Now". So what happens when "Saturday" collides with "The Present"? Not a pretty sight as you can well imagine. There's a lot of hand wringing and phone calls, and me thinking "These people are asking me the impossible, I can't be at 3 places at once."...Then my husband, children and rational concience remind me, "No, you agreed to the impossible."

All that because I only have three speeds, then, now and later...and I prefer to stay in the now (unless I'm in the dentist's chair, but that's another story).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I hurt all over and under

Yesterday I went to yoga for the first time in 2 weeks, and today I'm achy all over. I should feel good! Instead I feel like the toxins that have been congregating in my joints have been released and are poisoning me. Ok, I know that sounds dramatic but that's EXACTLY how I feel.

Today I pushed around a prodigious amount of paper at work. Virtual paper of course. Maybe that made me feel worse? I know I fired off MANY emails and got some reporting and catching up done, but I don't really feel like it was productive in that "wow, I got a lot done..." way.

Tonight we had a meeting of the Oak Cliff Artisans and I agreed to do internet promotion of our November show. That means that I'll get the word out to as many internet sources as possible, get us listed on websites, and send out email notifications. I like that task because I can do a little every day or few days and on my own schedule.

The first three weeks of October are going to be busy with travel, first to Denver, then Wyoming and then Laredo. I'm going to take some intense writing work to Wyoming because I can get a lot of work done without distractions there. I need to finish the case statement and research funding prospects. I love that our cabin has internet! It makes it so easy to get some work done. I can't wait to see the weather there, and enjoy a few walks in the mountains, to the creek, and around "town".

Monday, September 25, 2006

Why Ricardo Likes Mondays

This morning Keith and Milena came down for coffee. Milena and I were nursing our coffees, mumbling about it being Monday, and Ricardo pipes up "I love Mondays". I laughed, but not too energetically because I was half asleep still. Now it's gotten me thinking... That's something I love about my husband, he loves Mondays. He's such a hard worker (that's a love/hate issue) and he's so positive about his job.

I remember how outraged he was when I first suggested he apply to be a teacher, how insulted he was that I suggest he leave Urban Planning and become an educator, saying "I am a professional!" And, how much that has changed! Back then, he was talking from the cultural bias that teaching is not truly a profession. The thing is, he didn't even really believe it, he was just channelling his Dad and all the nay-sayers in his history. And now, he's so proud of his work, his staff, his kids, his school. One of the things he loves to do is to take people on a tour of his school, especially visitors from Venezuela. It helps them see how awesome the field of education is, how wonderful it can be when we invest in children and take the job to heart. That's what made it so heart breaking when we visited a public school in Venezuela, and saw how run down and pitiful it all was. I know Ricardo was itching to get in there and make a difference. But we came back to making a difference here.

I've decided, I don't hate Mondays...I just hate mornings.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bye Keith and Milena

Delectable Desserts at La Duni--Shawna, Ricardo, Hannah, Sofia, Carla, Milena and Keith
Yesterday we took Keith and Milena out for a farewell dinner and dessert. It was bittersweet, so much fun as always to hang out with them, but sad to see them go. I know that the girls will especially miss all of Milena's encouraging and positive words. It's so important for teenage girls to have strong, optimistic and supportive role models and adults in their life, above and beyond their parents. Their time here with us was brief but so meaningful to our family, we will truly miss them. We also look forward to having friends in fabulous SEATTLE! I can't wait to go visit!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Coming out of the daze of summer in Dallas

Just as I was seriously considering moving ANYWHERE else, the Dallas weather has changed and become not only bearable but actually pleasant and enjoyable. This summer was the first time in the 18 years I've lived in Dallas that I spent pretty much the whole summer here and HATED it. The heat is BRUTAL, a hot slap in the face every time you step outside. The fetid, grimy air actually burns when you breathe. One outing a day is all I could handle, that is, if I went to work I'd come home and collapse. If I worked from home and had to go pick up the girls after school, then I'd collapse when I got home. Two outings into the heat would put me in the foulest mood imaginable. Sometimes when I would get up and look outside and see the trees moving in the breeze, a bright clear sky, I'd be fooled for a moment into thinkng that it was a "nice summer day", and then...step out into the inferno and quickly retreat back into the house. Today I looked outside and it looked clear and sunny and bright and I walked outside and it was TRUE! I was so so happy! I pledge to enjoy every cool day somehow, not to take it for granted EVER again. What did I do today to enjoy it? I walked to lunch a few blocks from my office, basking in the simple pleasure of walking outside for a few minutes! Tomorow morning we are doing a service project with the Humane Society, I plan on spending at least some of that time OUTSIDE! I'm glad to be coming out of the daze of summer in Dallas.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reminding myself of the fragility of THAT age

My daughters are 14 and 15 and I need to continuously remind myself of the fragility of that age. Full of bluff and bluster, they are acting casual, talking big, and sometimes reminding me of how hard I was that age. Their fragility is covered with an assuredness in their opinions.

I have to remind my self again and again that what they are doing is trying out new ways of thinking and being, not necessarily trying to drive me insane. Why is my fuse so short with them sometimes? I know I need to enjoy them because time is fleeting and before you know it they will be gone, etc. etc. Sometimes I guiltily look forward to that time of peace and quiet, when hopefully we can get together for a peaceful lunch, or go out to the movies together, but the daily drama of their lives won't overpower me.

I am grateful though, for every story they tell me of their day, for every moment that we crack up together, for every hug and hold, for their flashes of kindness and their fresh take on the world, for their righteous sense of justice, their energy and verve.

Are you out there going through the same things?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

No good deed goes unpunished?

What is the right thing to do when you see someone suffering on the street? The other day on my drive home through downtown Dallas I saw a man lying spread-eagled on the street. I called 911 and reported the situation. I was pulling up to my driveway and got a call from the Fire Department ambulance that they couldn't find the man and could I return and find him...OK, I decided I had started this and should see it through. I went back and found him, now he was leaning up on a dumpster a few feet from where I said he was. The ambulance was nowhere...and I called them back. 5 minutes later they drove up, took a look at him and then started questioning me. Did I know him? What happened to him? And finally, "Maam, he's just drunk and needs to sleep it off." I started driving off, then was curious to know what exactly they were going to do, if anything. They saw me watching them and began to question me again, this time with some attitude. I get the feeling they just wished I had driven by and not bothered noticing the man who was obviously in bad shape, and now were annoyed that I was "forcing" them to attend to him. My question again is, What is the right thing to do when you see someone suffering on the street?