Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Inter-related ness . . . . . . a lot +1; 1001

Mulberry, Rose of Sharon, and Mystery Treelet Universe
I worry about my yard sometimes.  It is full of weeds, right now.  It is also full of trees, bushes, vines, perennials, and annuals.  All of which have struggled into existence during the years I’ve held sway over our dominion.   Our dominion is full of random occurrences, orderly progression, luck, work, mistakes, and beauty.  We are working out how to get along with each other. My yard is a working relationship. in progress.
My yard is a small universe.

What I worry about is that someday all of us life forms that support each other in this micro-mini universe will have to make way for bigger things.  Like somebody who buys my house when I’m too old to take care of it will tear it all down and that will be that. 

Stars are born and stars die.

There is a towering young  mulberry tree in the corner of my yard.  It fireballed into existence out of some random bird droppings several years ago, hidden from notice in its corner until it reached a respectable height.  A puny six-foot sapling that has chutzpah is hard for me to take out.  Because of its determination to live a chancy and ill-placed existence, it sneaked into the gravitational pull of my heart.   It’s now a big tree, providing shade and bird food and jelly fruits.   It was not a planned thing.  Some people, my mom included, call mulberry trees “weed trees.”  They drop  really sweet purplish fruit all over the ground, which stains everything , including bird poop.  And I really love that tree.

Galaxies born and galaxies die.

There is a row of Rose of Sharon bushes along my back fence.  I carefully planted 6 of them, mixed white and purple and red, when they were scraggly twigs on sale at Home Depot.   They were so happy to get out of their root-bound pots, I remember.  That was 6 years ago.  They’ve grown into a sizeable hedge between me and my neighbor’s kid’s ugly plastic playset.  They are in bloom now, and so pretty.  They spread their branches in a growth pattern, reaching out to each other, and to the mulberry tree, and to some other little tree which has grown up out of an old stump nearby.  The stump-treelet is random, but interesting, and I’m waiting to see what it turns out to be.  The reaching-out to each other is something trees do, with a specific name: canopying.  Trees grow purposefully towards each other.  They support each other, shading each other’s root systems.  Sharing information.  I love the galaxy of shrubs and trees in my yard.  They shelter each other and the yard and me, in shared and interdependent life.

The universe was born, and the universe will die.

Sometimes I think I shouldn’t plant any more things, in case they are left on their own.  I’ve left houses before, as I’ve moved around.  Frequently, new owners will pull up everything, including big trees, and mark their territory so to speak with new plantings.  Like spoils of war.  So to eliminate that false hope that my mulberry might live to be a hundred—as it could under ideal conditions—I  should maybe never have encouraged it. 

But then I think, hey, look around.  Everything in the world, and out of the world, is born and dies.  Some have very long happy lives, but quite a few have short or violent ones.  It’s unreasonable and defeating to throw in the towel to avoid an ending.  What the universe and my yard have in common must be that they began, randomly and with headstrong will.  They exist.  For now.

I resolve to not worry about my yard’s future.  I’ll enjoy my mulberry weed random tree as long as we both shall live together.  And we’ll  enjoy our universe.

 (For further reading on stars and life, check out: Carl Sagan’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My First Day of School. . . . a lot: 1001

A long time ago, when I was a child, a really long time ago, I lived one cornfield away from my school.  Our family was the closest family to the school.  Other students lived several miles away, and got to ride the bus.  If, the Gods of School District 159 decreed, you lived less than a quarter mile from the school you had to get there on your own.  The cornfield stretched for less than a quarter mile.  Therefore one of the big regrets I had about grades 1-8 (no kindergarten or middle school) was not getting to ride the bus.  All the other kids did, and I thought it was the greatest thing to do.  BUT disappointing transportation issues aside, I loved school.  It was the most exciting social aspect of life as I knew it. I've gone to school off and on ever since.

But you never forget your first day.

Mom  had a small house full of 5 kids.  I was #4, and she probably smelled 'freedom' with 4 kids in school.  I was born on the cusp of school attendance deadlines, so Mom didn't think twice.  I started First Grade at 5 years old, having no idea what school was, except my older brother Kenneth--who also told me that the old gray cat dug in the sandbox to get to China--told me that school was horrible.  Kenneth has turned out pretty well, a hugely friendly, outgoing, and canny guy who can do a mean BBQ for a company of soldiers or a VFW full of townspeople.  But he flunked First Grade early on in life and had no love for school after that.  He, too, was a deadline birthday, and Mom had figured out that the sooner one more child was out of the house, the emptier the house would be. 

My first day of school, I was decked out in a dress which Mom made, of course.  She is a great seamstress, with a good eye for decorating.  She made all of our clothes when we were little, except the underwear.  For Christmas, when we were older, the girls got material instead of clothes.  I longed for a real store-bought anything for years.  But my first day of school I had no knowledge of fashion.  I just really liked the way my big tied bow flew behind me as I rode on the back of my brother's bike.  He said, "Now hold on tight and don't let go," because despite the fact he had to take his little sister to school on his bike in front of his friends, he was a kindly big brother.  He was in 8th grade then, having fared better in all the grades after First.

That's really all I remember about the Big Day.  Flying behind my big brother on his bike to an unknown destination which had been given some bad press.  But I went with a happy heart and innocent expectation.  Although many of my school years I was so painfully shy of other students that I only looked at my feet all day, I was a good student.  Learning came easy to me, and it gave me a sense of belonging which made up for a lot. Now I teach school. I still love it.

So I'm prepping for another September.  Buying some new (store bought) clothes, writing up syllabi, hooking up with the other teachers who've scattered to families and vacations and personal business all summer.  My students come from many countries.  They are adults. They, and I, live in a large metropolitan area.  I've checked my online roster for classes, and reading the names I wonder what the people behind them will be like.  Most, I'm sure, will be nervous and excited.  When I walk in the classroom the first day, I will be happy to meet them.  To my advantage, I still love being there, still love learning, and got over the shy thing a decade or so ago. 

I plan for them to have a good memory, many years from now, of their first day in class.  Whether their transportation is memorable or not is out of my hands.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Doing It Right . . . . 1001;89

Today's Goals:  (2 goals are about right per day, to get ONE done and ONE thought about.)

1. Order some REALLY GOOD shoes before school starts and I spend 8 hours a day on feet..
2. Move Massive Sofa to the Nether Regions towards the ongoing goal of eliminating visual and spatial clutter.  Which eliminates mental clutter by default.

1. Shoes (Then):  Not so long ago, I wore cheap shoes with abandon, and going barefoot was fun. 
Shoes (Now): looking forward to spending big bucks on luxury and comfort.  Deficient arches, hard wear, and random universe actions all seem to create potential foot pain. Must be dealt with, since feet take me places and can make life difficult for ankles, knees, hips, etc..
Lesson learned:  ageing body malfunctions sneak up on us, a little at a time.  By the time you notice them as more than an annoyance, they are usually right In Your Face.  When you feel twinges anywhere, keep an eye out for future problems. Feet are Important, don't mess with them, put them in comforting and supportive environments while there is Still Time.
What I do differently now:  Shoes with lower heel, more arch support, higher price tags. More red shoes. Splurge on comfort with good conscience.

2. Sofa (Then):  It's comfortable burgundy bulk has held down the living room floor and reputation for years, in good form.  It's a good sofa. The cats love to flop on its broad back.
Sofa (Now): No fault of Ms. Sofa, but I'm suffering from a deep need to move stuff around in my life.  Burgundy, cordouroy, massive, and "too much" spatial /visual stuff; Must Be Ousted.  The sofa's immediate future is to be suitably mated to TV, which lives in basement. 
Lesson learned: ousting stuff is exhausting.  Reminds me to Not Get Stuff to oust, i.e. live on minimal stuff already extant in household.  Note for other stuff to move or toss: floor sleeps just fine with single futon mattress. Watch out, Bed.
What I do differently now  Moving furniture requires more careful forethought, including removing doors/ rails/ sofa feet before moving.

Tomorrow's Goals:  Think up a couple more goals to check off before Summer ends and life changes into Fast-Paced and Filled Up.