Prairie View

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Images I Want to Remember

I haven't blogged for a long time--perhaps for the longest interval ever.  Many of my thoughts, words, and efforts have been directed toward people and situations close at hand, and time and energy for reflection and recording don't extend far beyond them.  This morning when I saw the pink in the western sky (this is not a mistake), I knew, however, that I wanted to write about some of the things I've been noticing that give me pleasure.

1.  Every morning and evening sky has color in connection with the rising or setting of the sun.  Always.  This color even shows up in the sky in the opposite direction from where the main color action happens.  My classroom windows at school face east.  When I see the pink in the eastern sky, I know it's time to head home (driving southwest) so that I won't miss the sunset.

My computer location at home gives me a view to the west.  When I see the pink there in the morning, I know it's time to check the progress of the sunrise from the east windows.  I love to catch the sun in its appearing or disappearing moments, but the brightest sky colors happen well ahead of the sun's appearance and well after its disappearance.

2.  For the first time ever, I saw two doves cuddled tight against each other for a long time on a bare branch of the locust tree outside our house.  It was a raw, windy day, but the sun was shining, and they quietly soaked up its rays in companionable fashion.  They were Eurasian Collared Doves.  They come in somber colors.

3.  Our cat has a morning routine I didn't know about till now.  She sits in a certain spot in the backyard every morning to wait for whatever small rodent might be cruising nearby under the canopy of last year's Vinca major foliage.  I've observed her laser-like focus and pointed ears, and after one such time, Hiromi found her soon afterward on the other side of the house with a mouse in her mouth.  I missed the capture.

4.  The New Year's Day supermoon was a phenomenon worth calling the grandchildren to see.  In spite of bitterly cold weather, they stood at the front door of their house (we were there that evening), opened it wide, and exclaimed over the huge golden circular sky ornament suspended just above the horizon. I hope to enjoy the blue moon when it shows up at the end of this month.

5.  Tristan is old enough to help make the food for our annual New Year Day Japanese food feast.  He pinches gyoza wrappers like a pro.   And Shane can roll sushi like a pro.  Hiromi has always been a pro at Sukiyaki.  And I finally have recipes that will help make preparation of all of these foods a smoother operation in the future.

6.  Pulling taffy at school as the last activity before dismissal for vacation was a success.  I got randomly paired with Beau who boasted that ours would be the best taffy ever.  I grinned at what was probably an effort to let everyone know that he would not be dismayed by having to team up with the oldest person there, and a teacher at that.  Beau was right though.  We finished first, had no problems with stickiness or stringiness or it getting overly hard to pull or so soft that it threatened to puddle on the floor.  It was white and not too hard to cut, and sooo delicious.

I think part of the genius of our success lay in the fact that while we were waiting for it to cool, and others were pushing theirs around in the pans to get it to cool faster, Beau simply took our pan and ran around the school building twice.  After the second round it was just right.  I assure you that I would never have thought of this way of perfecting the outcome.

7.  The candlelit Christmas Eve service at church was amazing, consisting of beautiful congregational singing of one lovely carol after another, interspersed with Scripture reading.

8.  Christmas dinner at my brother Ronald's place in Labette County with family and friends involved a short trip for Hiromi and me, Shane's family, and Linda and Anthony.  Hiromi and I went with Shane's family and I came back with Linda and Anthony the next day.  Ronald and Brenda had also invited several friends from the community.  In the afternoon we went to see the place that Christopher and Rachel have purchased recently, as well as the place that Aaron and Megan now own.  A good trip, good food, good reconnecting, and good conversation.  What's not to like about this?

9.  My long-time co-teacher Norma got married a week ago today.  She and her new husband will live in Partridge in the house just vacated by my sister Linda.  The wedding was a grand celebration, and much happiness and loveliness was in evidence.

10.  Our daughter-in-law Hilda was able to come for the wedding, having been a close friend of Norma's.  She arrived home safely, in good health, in spite of having been with all of us who had the flu before and after New Year Day when she spent most of the day with us.

11.  Grant's family gave Hiromi and me each a small pillow for Christmas--just the right size for a side-sleeper like me to cuddle with at night.  Wyatt had helped to stitch the words Grandma and Grandpa on the back of the pillows--one label for each.  That's quite an accomplishment for a restless, all-boy almost-four-year-old.

12.  Favorite quote from Carson (4) in the middle of the flu miseries at their house, after many refusals to answer when his mother asked what she can do for him--delivered in solemn deliberate emphatic tones:  "I'm quite rather uncomfortable."


I haven't been able to smile all the time in the past number of weeks, of course.  It's the season of the year between the death of each of my parents in recent years.  Mom died on January 12, 2015, after having entered the hospital at Christmas time just before then, and Dad on November 22, 2016.  The holiday season is filled with those memories for us since then.

Hiromi's sister Chee and her husband Smitty have had increasing health problems and will probably relocate soon to a facility where their needs can be met more adequately.  They're in their mid-80s and have so far lived in their own home.  This year, for the first time, they could not make it to our New Year Day celebration.  Chee has always helped prepare the food too.  Hiromi took food to them in Sterling so they could enjoy it nonetheless.  On Wed., when he didn't have to go to work, he took fresh ingredients, and cooked up a fresh meal in their home.  No appetite and too little eating has been one of their problems, but on that day they both ate well, with pleasure.

On the day Hiromi cooked for his sister and her husband I was at home sick with the flu and could not go, although I had helped make some preparations the day before.  The first day was the worst, and I felt almost completely recovered by noon the following day.  It must have been the same flu that kept Shane and Dorcas awake all night one night, while they and their three children took turns throwing up.  They estimated that they may have ratcheted up a record of 25 or so puking incidents.
Unfortunately this happened in the middle of the Christmas in Kansas for the Kuepfer family, so the sickness kept traveling to other family gatherings and other states afterward, in spite of their efforts to stay home to keep from exposing others.  Shane got a substitute to sing at the wedding in his place because of the flu.

The location of my classroom at school has changed.  I am now in Room 12, the second room from the front door, with windows facing north.  I lament having to give up the view from my former classroom, with its bright morning sunshine, and its view of trees and fields and Vernon and Lena's well-kept front yard--now Vernon's only since Lena died several weeks ago.  From there I also see the arrival of parents for the after-school pick-up of students.  What I see now is bad grass, bare ground, chain link fencing, business buildings, and highway and railroad traffic.  This time of year no sunshine reaches the windows, ever.  I'm  not sure how my window plants will fare.  The re-location is happening for good reasons, however, and I believe those good reasons will balance the negatives.  This location means that I will never be "locked out" of my classroom and work space as happens regularly  now.

Our winter weather has gotten very cold recently, with multiple days of lows in the single digits, and sub-zero temperatures several nights.  Ice skating is happening.  No snow has accumulated, and no significant rain has fallen recently.  We are in an extended drought.  The weather pattern looks likely to continue, with warmer weather on the way, but no significant moisture for the remainder of the month.

School starts again on Monday.  I have many miles to go today to get ready.


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