Artistic Living….

It’s been quite a while since I posted about the issues and concerns we had when we decided to support our son in his desire to be a professional dancer. The popularity of all the TV competitions such as “American Idol”. etc., usually show the huge number of “hopefuls” as they are narrowed to the few. Even those who do not win the big prize are often helped by the exposure on their way through the process so it would seem to be of value.

Anyway, there was a Twitter post this morning about encouraging/supporting love of the arts in your children even if it means teaching them to balance early on. It is difficult to be forced to choose between art and “practicality”  and I mean art in every creative form. Even though a tiny percentage of aspirants in whatever the discipline is, “make it big”, many that do come from long-shot circumstances. Encouraging talent and a dream doesn’t mean ignoring the “real world”. You can help prepare someone to live a dual life without taking away from their passion. If a lack of talent does happen to be the case, finding a gentle way to deal with that is different. Coping with the lack of fairness in how certain careers are valued can be a challenge and helping with time management can be tiring. The love of art, music, dance, performing, etc., and the joy it brings to those around the creator can be a powerful antidote to frustration. As I have also mentioned in our decision to make certain sacrifices to allow son to be a dancer, that was very much because contemporary and ballet dance is age-restrictive. It is simply not something that can be a mid-life career. In our local artist community, it is interesting to talk to those who having spent a career in engineering, the allied health field, and so forth, are now able to spend time with their various mediums. There is a range of talent as there will always be, but the enjoyment is what they have in common.

Other Army Memories…..

I have explained in previous posts about my role as an “inadvertent pioneer” in the Army during the transition time of the Women’s Army Corps into the regular force. Notwithstanding those who were convinced it would be the downfall of the military, most were accepting and in some cases it was amusing. At that time I weighed far less than I do now and in graduating from college a year early, I was barely 22 when I arrived in Germany for my first real assignment. The previous almost year was spent in a series of training courses. So here I was, this 4’11” 2d Lieutenant placed into a Captain’s position and the first female officer in the unit. One of the sergeants who willing stood by me (literally and figuratively) was about 6’3” and built like a linebacker. (He may very well have been one in high school; I never thought to ask). We lost track for many years and it was maybe five years ago he reached out to find me. Like many who were part of those tumultuous years of the Army going from draft to all-volunteer, he wanted to write his memoirs of all the changes he experienced during his career. We spoke two or three times as he worked on the project.

He was ready to send me the completed book when he had to make multiple trips to Germany as one of the senior NCOs he was close friends with became quite ill. As was the custom, each American unit had a “partner German unit” and that was where their friendship was formed. My friend was a great comfort to the man and his family prior to his passing. My friend returned and in the process of catching up on things, he finally decided to go to the doctor. Sadly, he was diagnosed with more than one condition, none of them good news. We talked about a number of things and he’ll see how treatments go. He is close to his son who is with them and my hopes are of course for the best. I know I will cherish his book whenever I receive it.

In A Child’s Eyes….

Setting aside the angry/tearful outbursts that come from a variety of reasons, spending time around a child at certain ages does bring different perspective. Granddaughter was three in March and thus, her vocabulary was considerably increased from the previous visit, as was her reasoning ability.

One of the first questions as we exited baggage claim was if those were palm trees? Yes. Do they have coconuts? Not those, although we will see some that do. This is courtesy of having watched the animated movie of “Moana” set in Hawaii. Are we in Florida? Yes. Can we go in the pool when we get to your house? Tomorrow will be pool time. Oooh, the neighbor has big and little minions in their yard. (I think that’s the movie “Despicable Me” and sequels). In discussion of what adventures to go on – No, I don’t want to see alligators; they might bite my toes. Okay, I can see that.

A word about swimming – for the first time, the weather was cooperative enough to allow pool time each afternoon. It wasn’t entirely comfortable, but tolerable for an hour and hot coffee after helped. Grandma was in each day, Daddy two days, Grandpa and Mommy each also had a day. The wonderful swim vest worked well again although she was also tall enough to stand in the hot tub (not heated of course) and in the shallow end of the pool. If all goes well, there will be swimming lessons this coming summer.

I didn’t have personal experience, but had heard good reports of Pinto Farm, close to Monkey Jungle and open only Saturday and Sunday. It was a big hit and involved her first actual Shetland pony ride. The next day was let Mommy and Daddy have a “date afternoon” with movie and a stop by Exit One Taproom. The fairly long walk to the small Tot Lot yielded seeing butterflies, coconut palms, quite a few decorations, and the ability to fly in the swing since it was a “sit-in” type where hands were not always required. With Grandma pushing, it was flying like a plane, or bird, or acrobat – we cycled through all the comparisons.

Oh, and going back to an observation of an earlier post – seeing the inflatable decorations flat on the ground was remarked upon, but we used the opportunity to discuss the process of inflation. Ah, and in case you weren’t aware, a puzzle can become a cake which must be slid into an available cabinet which serves as an oven. Hey, these are the sorts of things we forget in our journey into adulthood.

Headed Up for Thanksgiving…..

One of the reasons we made such a fast trip to Georgia for my mother-in-law’s service was because we were already scheduled to go there for our annual Thanksgiving trip. We’ve only missed it a few times; last year being one of them. Apparently, this is not going to be one of the mild weather stretches so I have sweaters in the suitcase and will put the coat in the car as opposed to the wrap I last carried. It would be nice if we didn’t hit rain  as we have the past two trips. On the other hand, we really don’t have any control over that. One of the nice things though is they did finally open a Chili’s within walking distance of the hotel we stay at. With a 10 (or more) hour drive, it’s so much easier to simply walk over for dinner than head downtown. I suspect, however, Thanksgiving night will be a repeat of previous years when none of the alcohol-serving restaurants will be open. I have mixed feelings of course. After all, people who work there ought to get time with their families. For travelers though, it does leave limited options. In this case, it means fast food or I-Hop, and yes, we do tip extra. I realize as we are moaning about feeling utterly full at the bountiful Thanksgiving meal, we do tend to all say we won’t need to eat later, and yet, that hardly ever seems to be the case.

Anyway, we will have a good time and hopefully this year, no emergency room visits will be required. It wasn’t either of us – my husband’s second cousins got a bit rambunctious in a golf cart whizzing about the property. Just about the moment their mother looked out and commented the speed did not bode well – the event occurred. By the way, we are not talking children or even teens engaged in this and fortunately it was a sprain other than something more serious.

When The Time Comes…..

Serious content alert. We made the drive to Georgia yesterday. My mother-in-law passed away peacefully Saturday after a brief final illness. As I mentioned in my previous post, she had been in assisted living for a while and at age 92, this was not unexpected. The fact is at this age, many of the people who really knew her have already passed. We will be having a small, quiet graveside service later today to put her to rest next to my father-in-law.

In our busy lives, especially when geographically dispersed, it’s often  a question as to how often to visit an older loved one/friend. You know there will be a limit as to number of times available, yet there is also the idea of, “Well, people live longer these days.” Then there is the painful reality when mental abilities begin to deteriorate and the individual is simply no longer able to communicate/interact in the same way. That stage requires an understanding of why reaching out may come with a level of frustration you aren’t always prepared for. Repeated discussions about the weather may be the best you can manage.

These are not easy aspects of life to deal with and with each person who passes from you, it is of course, the good memories you hold to.

Travel Home…..

It’s always nice when travel goes smoothly and especially in this case when we hit the traffic well from MIA to the house. Our schedule didn’t even require us to get up too terribly early for the morning flight.

We certainly checked off a number of blocks for the trip despite the unseasonable chilly temperatures. If all goes well, between the intensity of tasks I accomplished prior to departure, what I managed to get done yesterday, and the line-up for the next two days should get me mostly caught up. We did order pizza last night since going to the grocery store was more effort than we wanted to expend after we made it home. Besides, we did need to have breakfast pizza available for Hubby. He’s all fixed up now and in light of all the wining and dining we did, he will picking up plenty of salad when he goes shopping.

Anyway, other than our usual quick Thanksgiving trip to Georgia to see his family, we will be staying around for a while. We do still want to slip away a couple of days for the hammerhead shark diving in Bimini, although we’ve said that the past two years and haven’t made it happen yet. The main issue is the prime season for that bumps up against all kinds of other “main annual events” of some of the community activities we are involved in.

So, Happy Halloween to everyone and we’ll see if we can get the skeleton into the rocking chair for our minimal decorating. And of course, despite the number of bags of candy I bought, I’ll think, “Oh, maybe we do need a couple more.”

The Paths Children Take….

I’ve posted in the past about how startled we were and what adjustment we went through when we came to accept the degree of our son’s passion for dance. I had an entertaining conversation with a woman I met last night during an event with the opposite side of the coin situation with their daughter. She has very definitely gone into a career that’s not for the fainthearted and not what most women choose. It is financially lucrative though which is also the opposite said of the coin with the world of dance.

Anyway, as I have also mentioned, my whole “female pioneering” aspect of being in the Army was not something my parents expected and until last night I hadn’t remembered this part. Back in the day, males could join the military at age 17 with parental consent and 18 without. Females, however, could not join without parental consent until age 21. Because of me finishing my undergraduate degree a year early, and having an August birthday, that meant I was not actually 21 until a couple of weeks after I was scheduled to receive my commission as a second lieutenant. It required my parents to sign their permission and while Daddy was puzzled, but practical about my choice, Mother expressed some reluctance. In talking through it, she finally agreed providing I didn’t tell “Mamaw” (her mother) she’d agreed. Not a problem, although as it turned out, my grandmother thought it was terrific and would brag about me to her friends. The fact of the matter was she was a feisty woman and had opened her own assay and tax preparation office at a time when that was not commonplace for married women. I don’t know the whole background of it – I’ll have to ask my aunt next time I visit – but as I recall, she always had that office. Daddy learned about tax prep by working part time for her during peak tax season because we didn’t live too far from them and forest fire threats were usually mild until the heart of summer.

So Many Ways To Miscommunicate…..

Serious content alert. Recent situations locally and certainly otherwise have brought to mind the class in Human Communications I took as part of my graduate work. Setting aside the potential for misunderstandings when speaking two actual different languages, the ability for people to get cross-ways over words is so common. For this post, I’m only going to focus on hearing the words “lie” and “liar” thrown out a lot.

People can have flawed memories of a conversation/event/something they read. People can literally hear/read something incorrectly. Two or more people can hear/read the same sentences/sentences and perceive what was said/written differently. In each situation, the listener/reader can be in error yet be convinced they are correct. The issue becomes when someone acts on that misunderstanding and is unwilling to acknowledge he/she could be mistaken.Reluctance to admit error also applies to the individual who may indeed have said/written something in a way open to multiple interpretations without realizing it.

None of the above scenarios include “lies”, but human nature being what it is, if something intense and emotional is involved, “That’s a lie or you’re a liar”, is often easier to say than to admit the possibility of personal mistake. Once those words are spoken, it tends to go in bad directions and it’s difficult to recover. Getting people to take deep breaths and step back from a situation is tricky. This is why having someone mediate can make a difference, although that isn’t always simple. Finding an individual who can objectively listen and effectively point out where miscommunication has occurred is only one factor. Steering/guiding the parties toward genuine understanding can be even more difficult.

In other cases, drawn-out discussions are not required. In the TV series, “Home Improvement”, the two brothers had become at odds over something. In the final part of the episode as they chuckled about it, the exchange was something like: “Glad we worked that out.” “Yeah, Jill [the wife] wanted us to talk about it.” “Nah, putting me in the headlock was better.”

The above example is not to make light of the topic. If you find yourself at the center of turmoil, look first to the possibility you may be in error. Then be willing to accept the other individual/individuals may be emotionally attached to their version and finding a way to “unhook” that is important. By the way, it doesn’t always work. Also, by the way, people most assuredly do often lie, but that’s the subject of other posts.

Home Again…..

Despite the travel with a lot of driving and what in the military we referred to as the “duffel bag drag”, of being in most of the locations for only one night, I did get to catch up with a lot of people. In two cases, I hadn’t seen the friend/friends for years so it was really nice. I have a fair amount to catch up on now that I am back. The next several days are jammed with meetings and tasks, but that was a known when I headed out on the trip.

For my last night one of my other high school friends and I had our traditional dinner at 2Johns Steak and Seafood in Bossier City. It’s a lovely restaurant in a somewhat unlikely location  which everyone has come to understand. Anyway, she recently celebrated her 65th birthday and the birth of her first grandchild on the same day which is quite convenient when you can manage that.

I took one of the early flights out of Shreveport and do greatly appreciate the people who open the snack bar at 4:30 a.m. I appreciate even more the fact whoever they have on duty always seems to be friendly and either a “morning person” or an accomplished actor. The free Wifi worked properly this time to allow me to clear out the numerous emails that I immediately or soon delete. We did have a hold on departure due to weather in Dallas and I was concerned about making the connecting flight. I had to walk quite rapidly and was grateful to be only three tram stops from my new gate. It was a smooth flight though and we landed a few minutes early. Hubby used the cell phone lot for the first time and it worked well.

Sept Trip, Day 6…..

I closed out the visit with friends with a pleasant brunch on the lake. In fact, another couple from their church joined us and I of course gave out book marks. The short drive to my aunt’s house was easy as always, paying close attention to the speed limit sign in going through a couple small towns on the way.

One of my cousins came in not long after I arrived, and her older sister came later. We had plenty to catch up on and my sister and her husband had been for a visit the latter part of July. This was the first time they’d been by for several years. Anyway, the house my aunt is in has been in the family for decades. My maternal grandparents bought in the 1930s. There have been updates over the years and the 80+ year-old tree by the driveway finally did enough damage to the concrete that it was recently taken down. The roots had been causing problems for quite some time and there was always the chance the tree would eventually fall during a storm. As large as it was, even if it fell “away” from the house, it could have been dangerous. It does look odd without the tree, but it was time.

In actuality, there are two houses in the sense the house next door has been occupied by some family member for as long as I can recall. My aunt and uncle were among the occupants before my grandparents passed away and they moved into their house. My cousin, the oldest daughter, and her husband live in it now. Of my five cousins in that group, there are three boys and two girls. The other daughter lives in town about ten minutes away. The oldest boy is maybe 20 minutes away on several acres near where my aunt grew up. They prefer the country life although both still work at their professional jobs. Anyway, it was a good visit and we are close as cousins.