Saturday, April 24, 2010

April is Poetry Month

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Robert Frost

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Introducing Penny!

Meet Penny -- a baby mini-lop rabbit that my daughter has adopted. Actually someone needed a home for her and Lys, animal lover that she is, couldn't resist. Having a rabbit is a new experience for her, but fortunately we know a couple of people who have had rabbits that are giving us good advice. That is a pink striped hammock you see in the background of the picture above and a fun little ball with a bell in it for her to play with. She picks it up and tosses it!
Penny is adorable -- sweet and friendly and very soft. She loves to cuddle, but can also be playful. She will be an indoor bunny. After Lys brought her home Friday night, we made a trip to Petsmart for a few supplies. We lucked out as one of the store clerks is involved in rabbit rescue and has pet rabbits herself. In fact, she has harnessed trained one of them so she can take it for walks on the beach and carry it in her purse. I had no idea that bunnies could be litter box trained and treated much like a cat. (Except they hop so fast!)
Of course, our dogs Chaucer and Uncle Frosty don't know what to think of her yet. Initially they were quite wound up about her presence in the house, but seem to be ignoring her better today. We put them out in the backyard when we take Penny out of her cage to stretch her legs.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can you find a classical station?

Last weekend I filled in for a speech therapist at a nursing home for a couple of hours. One of the patients I saw was a woman who started telling me about her life. She lay, fairly confined to her bed, and began with growing up on a ranch. Oh, how she loved her dogs. Then they moved to Berkeley -- it was during the Depression and her dad had to find work. She went on to tell me how she studied art, lived in Mexico for a year, married and had children. Sometimes they were wonderful times and sometimes they were tough. Probably many of us have read the highly-circulated Crabby Old Man poem (which I've learned is fiction -- but the thoughts behind the poem are so true that you must read it if you haven't). That is what this woman reminded me of.

Toward the end of our conversation she sighed and said she was depressed being there. I didn't know what to say. I asked her if there was something she would like -- some books to read (she'd already read the book on her nightstand twice), magazines, a sketch pad and colored pencils (thinking of the artist side).... I tried to encourage her to go down to the "activities" offered at the nursing home. She brushed every suggestion aside. As I was getting ready to leave she said, "Do you happen to know how to find a classical station on my radio?" Pushed to the back of her nightstand was a radio/CD player. No CD. I turned on the radio to static. Then I found it -- KBach, our local classical music station. The sounds of the symphony filled her corner of the room. With tears in her eyes she thanked me. What a difference music can make in transporting us to different times, to conquering loneliness, to feeding our souls.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Back in the College Classroom

It's the same yet oh-so-different to go back to college. It's like putting on a new pair of glasses and viewing the world through the eyes of young adults. After realizing that I could make considerably more on the salary schedule at work next fall if I took a few units at the local community college, I looked to see if there was anything offered "mid-term". Now I'm enrolled in two online classes and one 'living room' class. I thought the LR class was the same as an online class, but I was wrong. The LR class is basically read the textbook on your own, then come in every other week and take a test on a Scantron form. The online classes are more interactive. We actually have online discussions, as well as assignments to complete and some tests.

I figured I would sign up for a couple of business classes so enrolled in Human Resource Management. I also planned to enroll in Principles of Management but it was full and the instructor was adamant about no new admits. My smart daughters told me not to ask ahead of time -- to just show up for the intro night if I want to stand a chance of getting in. Didn't work with this class, but did work with another one I got into. The only other class left that began mid-term was a humanities class called Feminism Theory. I wasn't particularly interested, but showed up for the mandatory 'intro class' last night (the rest of the course is online) and am duly intrigued.

I can now tell you that there have been three waves of feminism to date. The first one was all those years women were at home, having babies and taking care of domestic tasks, without a voice -- leading up to the 1920's and the right to vote. The second wave was in the 60's and 70's -- women's lib, equal pay for equal work, etc. I lived through that wave and feminism seemed to have quieted down since. Yes, we still have 'clean up' to do, especially for women's rights in other countries, but didn't we have it more or less figured out here in the States? Or not??? Enter the third wave of feminism. This is the wave happening now -- the one my young adult aged daughters are living through, consisting of images like the Spice Girls and "girl power" -- rather odd, in a way, that some women should define themselves in roles like empowered Barbie dolls. So it will be an interesting class, much food for thought, and I think I'll have a different way of looking at our society afterward.

The third class I'm taking is a Sociology class (since I missed out on the other Bus. class) . Since it has been many, many years since I first cracked open a sociology class textbook, it will also be enlightening to think about where we are now. Much has happened in the last few decades, technology has impacted our world, many Americans no longer get married and start families in their early 20's, life is different.

I walked around the campus yesterday, paying my fees, picking up a couple textbooks, getting a college library card. This is the life my daughters live. They are brave, I realize. And disciplined. And smart, very smart.

Textbooks cost more than the tuition! It is an outrage! One textbook is between $120 and $200 easily. I paid $117 for a crummy USED textbook. My smart daughters, guiding me through the back-t0-college system, told me to check out,, and a few others. I found the same used textbook for $25 so back to the bookstore the $117 version goes (two days to return for refund). Another book was $47 new, I found it for $2.95 through one of the used books websites. Like a child on the first day of school, my pencils are sharpened, my notebook awaits. My books are calling, and the keyboard is now warmed up and waiting for a 'reading response', so off I go.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Petroglyphs - revisited

Celebrating Lys's birthday in March was fun! After finding some more photos of our special day, I had to go back and repost this blog entry -- hence the name Petroglyphs - revisited!

We started Lys's birthday at the Santa Cruz Harbor, enjoying a wonderful lunch overlooking the boats and snapping pics of a cute otter who was playing in the water outside our window. A couple of large brown pelicans also kept us entertained.

The restaurant treated Lys to a mug full of candy as a birthday treat!
From there we went downtown to a fun place called Petroglyph. To jog your ancient history class memories, a petroglyph is a form of prehistoric rock writing. There were rows of unfinished pots and vases and ceramic boxes to choose from. We each selected a piece to finish, grabbed some sponges and laid claim to a work table.

Next we needed to select our paints and brushes, stencils, pencils and anything else needed to create our works of art.
Our work in progress! What a relaxing and fun way to spend the afternoon! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Once we completed painting our pieces the rest was up to the shop! The shop would fire them in the kiln and we would pick them up a few days later. They now grace our home!

Looking forward to doing that again and the birthday girl had a great time!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Music In My Soul

Music is a big part of our lives. Ash plays piano and flute, and took violin lessons in her younger days. She was first chair flutist in three different youth orchestras. Lys plays piano and guitar (both electric and her dad's old acoustic), and played clarinet in youth orchestra. She was even in hand bells one semester. She also has a nice singing voice. As for me, I took a few guitar lessons when I was young, but mainly have stayed with piano over the years.

Music brings us together -- we appreciate all kinds of music. So last Sunday we went to hear the Santa Cruz County Symphony perform their Romantic Rhapsodies concert. It consisted of three beautiful selections:

Adagio for Strings by Barber
Violin Concerto by Tchaikovsky
Third Symphony "Scottish" by Mendelssohn

We were treated to the talent of Tessa Lark, a young concert violinist who played her solos to perfection! It amazes me when someone so young has such amazing talent. I liken her to an Olympic athlete -- many are good, some great, but a few select are beyond measure. The program noted:

2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great American composer, Samuel Barber. We feature our string section in his moving “Adagio for Strings.” The emotionalism continues with Klein composition winner, Tessa Lark, in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The concert concludes with Mendelssohn’s melodious Third Symphony, “Scottish.”

Scroll down and hit the pause button (it looks like double ll) on my auto playlist on the right menu of my blog. Then come back and hit the play arrow to enjoy the beautiful Adagio for Strings here:

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Close your eyes, let the peace and beauty fill your soul. This is life.