Thursday, November 24, 2016

San Francisco and ATA 57

I left home alone for almost a week. I did. I had a hard time believing it all came together, and no one came down with a fever, the flu or a broken limb in the minutes before my departure, but they didn't and I did. I attended the 57th Annual American Translators' Association Conference in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago.The conference is for interpreters and translators; from all over the world. Taken altogether with the venue, the course offerings and the attendees, it was truly a feast for a language-lover's mind and soul!

My first trip to California; the ferry back across the bay after a bikeride over the Golden Gate
Here are a few highlights; advocacy; or why I am an interpreter. My every day work does not allow for advocacy in any form, but just by being present and remaining true to the message I convey from one party to another, I am a part of the right side. 
Making sure the people who need the services have access to them is the first step. Presentations by James Dickens of the Office of Minority Health in the US Dept. of Health and Human Services on C.L.A.S., and by the folks at The Community Interpreter addressed both healthcare disparities and the need for culturally sensitive treatment and ethical behavior on the part of an interpreter. 
French translation, visit with my Auntie and Godmother and the whole family, traveling by bicycle in a city and more below...

The Bridge

Lunch with my auntie, my uncle and (above) my cousin and her three smart, beautiful, charming children. Sausalito. 

Golden Gate Park: Botanical Gardens

Saying farewell to Auntie Margie and tiny Keewi
Golden Gate Park: Japanese Tea Garden

Not yarn; but oh my; the colors of embroidery floss!

A favorite San Francisco moment: reading poetry upstairs at City Lights

The "had to do before leaving" lunch with my adorable roommate; fish n' chips at Fisherman's Wharf

Half of my mother's family lives in the Bay Area, or the other side of the bridge, so getting together was, naturally, a priority, while I was there. The last time they visited Iowa was about fourteen years ago. It was like old times, with new characters thrown in. It was the best! I met first with my aunt and we strolled around Sausalito, after we found a spot to stash my bike for the day. We met my cousin next; outside the restaurant, holding my brand new second cousin! She is so sweet, and adorable, it was heaven. Then we joined my uncle and the two brothers of baby; all perfect charmers. The boys wanted to talk politics, it was the eve of the presidential election, but my aunt had forbidden the topic. They found ingenious ways of bringing it up was cute. Thank you for a fantastic time, all of you!
Later, I took the ferry back to San Francisco. I had to almost dare myself to do it, but I was determined to bike across the bridge and find my way to a cafe in Sausalito...and I did.  I  practiced first by biking around SFC on Wednesday. I got lost for three hours, in the neighborhoods they don't show you in Disney movies, then found Golden Gate Park, the Presidio (or the Royal Fortress of St.Francis) and the whole beautiful way back along the bay. What a day! I ended up having my first shoe shine too; my boots needed some serious work after the dust and dirt of the day. I don't think I will ever have a public shoe shine again; too high up, too public, but my boots still look great, two weeks later. 

I attended a couple of translation sessions, just to delve more into other topics. The one I particularly enjoyed was by Luc Labelle on elegant English>French translation. It made me think, stretch the brain a bit, hmmm, a lot, I guess, like when I was still in school. 

I shared a hotel room for the first time since college, with incredible roomies; three the first night; from Mexico, Boston and Germany, and two the rest of the week from Argentina and Mexico. We CELEBRATED the Cubs winning the World Series together, commiserated over the downside of our diverse professions and tried out new dining experiences all over the city.

Thank you to my family; for the extra work this caused, the sacrifice of a normal week in your life, and to the attendees who made this an experience to remember. It was!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Mother's Influence

That title is a big, scary one. I used to think I really should not have children, since I would surely botch it up in a large, crazy way. Now I can say with confidence...that I can only hope I minimized the potential damage I may have caused by how fiercely I love them.

More or less a third of my five children have been raised to adulthood now; math is not the best at this hour of the morning...or is it still night? I am home from a call to interpret in the ER and it is an odd hour to be contemplating all of this. Originally, I was thinking about working mother vs. stay-at-home mother. I remember being slightly scandalized and a little confused by an article when I was still in high school; the gist of it was that children of working mothers have more confidence in themselves because they see their mothers as empowered.

I grew up in a latch-key era, and I would have thought that a child in that situation would feel a certain part of neglect and loneliness, and therefore less confidence. No one is there to greet them, no one to make sure they are well, are fed, to know where they are?

The me that decided, along with my husband, that I could not ever conceivably leave my baby, ever, was more reassured by the second scenario than the first. Yet, the second lingered in my mind.

Now that I have been both mothers,  I can take a look at it from both sides. Of course, I never did get to be that kid with complete freedom when I came home from school, because my own mother was always there. Other 7th graders were sneaking alcohol out of their parents' liquor cupboards and dancing in the living room. I came home, ate my allotted 3 cookies, that my mother had baked herself, and left to take care of my paper route. If I wanted clothes that were not hand-me-downs, I could either earn some money or wait until Christmas. It built character and independence. As for confidence; I always knew my mom could do anything she put her mind too, long before she re-entered the workforce once the kids had grown.

I am so glad that I was able to be home with my babies and small children! I am still glad of a week when I work hardly a day or a day and a half. The time we have together could not be replaced by a great caregiver or even a grandparent, it just would not have existed, poof; hours and days and months of our lives lived apart. The play, "Ondine" comes to mind; Jean Giradoux. In it, a fish girl, who makes her way up from a neighboring lake one night, falls in love with a prince. When he goes off to take care of some princely business or other, she is aghast; time apart? Why? Why ever? Either you are together or you are not, in her watery world. I think children have that same mentality. Mama is here, or not here, and it is the end of everything. 

This is far from a judgement or condemnation. I well know that many families from Africa, from Asia, by necessity, leave their child to relatives back home for years on end. This does not mean those babies are any less loved or missed than my own. And...there is still that nagging doubt in the back of my mind that maybe they would have been better off  with a wonderful nanny, who could leave at the end of the day, thus convey less stress, less dismay when things got all topsy-turvy.  Spilled milk and sibling fights might not have put her in a tizzy. They might have experienced more calm and less chaos, it might have been better, who can say? But in the end, I would have missed them way too much.

Camping: Version October

This was a welcome little getaway, sandwiched in between work, activities and endless chores. And in what I qualify as "balmy weather." A nice bonfire, with the addition of pants and sweater is just right. Sorry, heat-lovers...autumn has arrived.

Bacon-toast and hot cocoa for the chilly morning time:

And the campfire for the only light to tell scary stories by at night:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

You Can Get Used to Anything

...which is what allows human beings to persevere in the face of misery, atrocity and unjust treatment...but what if you chose what it is you get used to? 

This was my thought this morning, as I flew down the hill I once feared biking down, because it invariably meant I had to bike back up it at some point. 

Now I enjoy that ride. I have become accustomed to going back up the hill; so the ride down is A BLAST. I am happy to have a few precious moments to meditate because I am up before anyone else in the morning. When the alarm goes off, I change my thoughts from, "already?" to gratitude, right away. 

What are you willing to change to be happier, more at peace, fulfilled by life each day?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Real Backyard Nature Study

Crash! "A squirrels' nest fell, mama!" And our lesson on whatever it was, morphed into two hours of watching out our back window as:

The boys were so quiet it was almost unbelievable. Charles ran for the camera, and he carefully and silently slid the screen up and moved it out the window...I admit to taking over and saving my camera from certain doom as he zoomed in to see what was happening.

The mother squirrel spent hours returning to the nest, searching, and attempting to lead each baby back up the trees. She did not always go back up the same tree, and it looked like she was distributing them to neighbors' nests around the yard as she went. It was pretty fascinating. Just last week, a baby fell out of the nest and landed on the fence, wet, clinging and petrified out of moving until the mama squirrel came to get it. This week, they were mobile and first played tag with mom, scrambling around the whole yard until the right path was painstakingly communicated. Mother squirrels can be as loud as a harpy when their babies are in danger. Shrieking, scolding, running up and down trees; it was not a show to miss! 

Our anxiety practically matched hers as we worried and wondered if all of the babies made it. We witnessed the extraction of four little squirrels. There may have been more, but I was dragged back to my cooking duties when everyone got hungry.

Baby squirrels may be trouble, but little humans are ornery creatures when they get hungry. Lunch: the harvest made into soup: but only the ones the squirrels have not yet stolen or nibbled.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Never Weave in Another End?!!! Video Explanation

Aah; weaving in ends; such a beautiful part of a project. It bespeaks of the nearness of completion, the cusp of the joy you are about to be witness to as you behold the fruit of the labor of your own two hands. Such peace, such bliss...of course, you might just be p.o.'d that you still have to weave in 1001 stupid scraps of yarn before you are done. Either way...I came upon this video today and I want to share it with you, I think knitters everywhere will rejoice. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Barns, Bloggers and Dryads

 This is where I found my tree sprite after church last week.
Michelle, who writes at : Simplify Live Love, invited Iowa bloggers to a conference last Saturday, to meet, share and learn at her incredible family homestead, above and below. I got to meet bloggers who know how to do everything from promoting your blog, connecting to brands, increasing your page views through an increased online presence, to working with a virtual assistant and managing time. I am not sure how much of it will pertain to what I do and write, but it was invigorating to be in a roomful of people, men and women, who write for a living and love doing it. Thank you, Michelle, for hosting us! What a day!

My favorites? The people, and the really pretty chickens!

 Warming up my lasagna, we had a potluck straight out of a gourmet cookbook. Check out the Le Creuset showcase behind!Beautiful stuff!
 My blogging girlfriends; the casual sort of blogger, like me. Melanie's blog: Many Hands House, and Rebecca's: Archie, Down!
 A shot inside Michelle and Dan's passive house.
One highlight: finding a high school friend...of my cousin's!...whom I remembered meeting a few years ago at my cousin's high school reunion. This is Nicole, who blogs at SAHM Reviews.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Let's Do What You Love!

The other night, my husband asked if I would like to bike down to our favorite date night spot by the river. It was already 8:00pm, but I said yes...and what a ride. The way down, was, predictably, not too bad. Heading home later in the dark, the Mississippi was beautiful and mysterious. Then we had to climb the hills. I cursed his cute little trim rear end half the way home...until we turned into the woods, and it was magic. The drone of the locusts, the dark, the creek bubbling along the path. There was no one but us and the wild of the forest dwellers.

My husband regularly takes me out of my comfort zone. Without his encouragement, I would maybe not use my bike very often. He opens up new vistas and experiences for me in the same town I have lived in for fifteen years. All it takes from me is a "yes," and a little uphill climbing, to soar.

What is the raison d’etre of this little blog? The reason for everything else I do.  I write and talk and make things happen when someone says;

                          "I wish I could..." 
homeschool? knit? cook? speak another language? Make Waldorf more a part of our lives? find nature, even in the city? YES YOU CAN! Taking a willing participant along on the journey makes my day. I am so very fortunate to have people who take me along on new ventures, literally.

You will have to find your own questions, and your own reason for asking them, but I am absolutely determined that if you ask me, my response will be a resounding...OF COURSE! If you are willing to put in the effort, the rest will follow, people will show up to help you, the universe will open up possibilities and you will paint, dance, cook, sing, knit, homeschool along the Waldorf/Steiner path. You will love life again. This blog is meant for one reason: to empower you, the Waldorf homeschooling mother or father, to confidently say, “yes, I can do this!”

Friday, August 12, 2016

Reverence and Joy Continued

There is so much to rejoice in, if only you will let yourself, every single day. At this time of year, creation is a marvel of growth and green and sunshine; all humbling me to a constant sense of wonder as I see the need for the fierce heat, and for the pounding rain in between.

This morning, the gentle patter of rain has the whole household sound asleep, all tucked into their dreams, all but me, and now my husband, sitting with his coffee and his computer, working. Like me,  he is enjoying the calm of a cloudy day, in the midst of an abundance of sunshine, heat and humidity. 

Bonjour tomatoes, flowers, squash and cabbage.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

In Deep

I cannot claim to have reverence for much. Not much beyond the woods, the ocean, rivers, mountains, and people for their humanity, not their brilliant accomplishments. Respect for the traditions of others; religions, commitment, the courtroom, yes, but a deep-abiding reverence and awe; I reserve that for what really counts. 

Babies, the elderly, the people who give a hoot, trees, the dark green of leaves and moss all around with the early morning sun just penetrating through thick branches, the trail beneath my feet, Tuxy the dog, thrilled as always, to be with me here, and the heavy, humid air, already alive with the thrum of locusts and buzzing of mosquitoes. This, yes, this is real. This is where I am truly present.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Summer at Home

It is 85 degrees and muggy. I would have been outside anyway, as a child, well, maybe I would have been hiding and reading in the afternoon. As soon as my youngest finished the bacon-weaving in the previous photo, he scooted back into his fort, with the dog, to listen to a good audio book. In the dark.

The others are working, learning a new song on the piano, packing for college and "using the heat gun" for something again. 

When Mama Works Too Much

You get children who get really learning about bacon-weaving on Youtube videos. A mixed bag, but at least it did not require a trip to the hardware store,'s lunch!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

When You Choose Learning

Or...where there is a will, there is a way. This is a good friend and client who is so inspiring to me, that I asked her if I could publish a couple of photos from our last training session.

Why are we conducting our session on the sidewalk in front of the house?
That is where we are, for real, after several aborted attempts at other venues that same day. She is an aspiring interpreter and I am helping her train, in English and in medical ethics for interpreters. She is a hard-working, studious, ambitious young woman. She has taken a bus for 2 hours to meet me to work on her English. She has found a way to work full-time and go to school and succeed at it, in a country that is not her own. The challenges have been many, and include a cute little baby who has become a very active toddler.

This is the adorable little pumpkin who, 5 minutes prior to this photo, was running amok in the library and giving fabulous renditions of his own screamo act all over the place.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Graduation Party That Finally Happened...

Duncan was always going to graduate, in fact, he officially did so back in March. Whether or not he would attend the ceremony or want a party, he waited to decide until really the very last minute. He did decide on both, and each event was a lot of fun, maybe especially because I did not stress about it for two months ahead of time...just a few intense days before the event. My gratitude to Duncan, for being a gracious, charming host, and to Kyle's mother, Wendy and his step-mother, Heidi, for planning the whole dang thing and just giving me jobs to do and a list of groceries to bring. We pulled it off; never would have happened without you! And I am so very grateful to my family who found out about this at the last minute and drove for hours to be there, thank you!!! To all who braved the sticky, humid heat to join us to celebrate, and to those who sent well wishes, thank you.  You make my world the beautiful place it is to be in. 

Here are a few snapshots of the day; in spite of the temps in the 90s, this picnic shelter overlooking a lovely park was a shady, breezy, comfortable haven. (Thank goodness!)

 The boys:

Why You Need to Camp

I have a love/hate relationship with camping, I'll admit it. I think many people do; there are bugs, the lavatories are far away and spartan, it can be hot, wet, cold, is outside, after all. I believe however, it is an essential part of life. There are experiences, pleasures and lessons that can only be had living outside, and camping, especially tent camping, is the simplest path to to outdoor living. 

In the photos from yesterday, you can see one small thing that happened to connect the children to the environment while living out of doors. The tiny bird was found while exploring, close by our campsite, and for 36 hours it became part of their world.