Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last Day of School - Chinatown Kindergarten

A long time ago, I used to live in New York City. Although it's been about 3 decades since I left (excluding a stint as a missionary doing kids' outreach from Brooklyn), folks still ask me, "do you miss it?"

Here's a link as a partial answer. It's from the New York Times, a video of a bunch of kindergartners in a Chinatown school singing, "Start spreading the news... I want to be a part of it... first grade, first grade!" as they look forward summer break.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Simple Supper

Earlier this week I had the good fortune of having supper with a good friend (since first grade!) his wife and two of their kids.

The younger of the two kids had finished up her first semester at college and her parents were in town with one of their sons, to pick her up.

I helped the family clear out her dorm room. All of the things had been neatly stacked in the hallway, and truth be told, there wasn't much stuff there. She's a very practical, no-frills sort of person.

So, after loading up the family Suburban, we headed over to supper in the school's cafeteria.

We spent about an hour seated together, eating and talking. I was struck at how easy the give-and-take among their family was, and how they genuinely enjoyed each other's company. There was real conversation happening around the dining room table.

Sometimes I wonder to what extent the art of listening and sharing - talking - has been tarnished by our reliance on technology. I was very pleased to realize that in this case, it hadn't.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Photo from Booksigning

Thanks again to family and friends who came to the Battle Creek Barnes & Noble store last Saturday for my first booksigning (of 20 Short Ones). It went well. It's been encouraging to see "movement" of the book, starting in little ways. In case you are a fan of Goodreads, from May 20 through June 20 you can register to win a free copy of the book. If you do win a copy, I hope that you'll review it. It was especially meaningful to have the Battle Creek B & N store host. That's the store that my Dad loved to visit with family members taking him there. Dad enjoyed his Starbuck's coffee and towards the end of his life we'd usually pull a book off the shelves - usually a humor book - and read a few pages to him. Mom also enjoyed the store as well!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

First Book Signing

This afternoon the Battle Creek Barnes & Noble hosted a book signing for 20 Short Ones (my first book). It went well.

But what was fun was having friends and family stop by. In the middle of the store, close to the Starbuck's CafĂ©, there was a spontaneous family/friend reunion. I had a chance to introduce friends from work to three of my siblings.

It meant so much to have such a nice turnout (and to sell all of the copies of the book that were available - 20 of them, a perfect match to the book's title).

Earlier in the morning I had prayed that the experience would be fun and joyful, and there was a lot of both. For me, there will never be a first book signing experience again. This was it. And it was made especially meaningful to share it with family and friends.

I also need to thank other family members who couldn't make it who have also helped tremendously by encouraging me and offering wise marketing tips.

Right now, I feel a little like Buddy (one of my cats) who is laying on the living room carpet, on his back, paws up in the air, giving in to the need to relax. Wishing everyone a peaceful, enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Different Sort of Mother's Day

On Mother's Day one of my brothers and I were on the road, going to visit a sister and her husband.

Along the way a mini-ramp (like you would use to hoist up your car when changing the oil) fell off the back of the vehicle in front of us. I didn't have time to react by swerving out of the way as we were on the highway when this was happening. In a matter of a few seconds I ran over the ramp.

Half of the front bumper of my car was pulled off, along with the shroud (plastic mold that protects the underside of the car).

There was a bit of an adrenaline rush as this was happening.

The final result was that my car was damaged but driveable and no one was injured. We called my sister and she and her husband came with duck tape - which we used to keep the front bumper attached to the car so we could drive it.

Afterwards we followed them back to their house for a Mother's Day meal. (She  had celebrated Mother's Day with one of her children and their kids the day before.) This was the first Mother's Day for our own siblings without our Mom who passed away in January.

All told, my brother and I were on the side of the highway for about an hour, with non-stop traffic rushing by us. The immediacy of the incident didn't really leave much room for thinking about anything else, including how great a Mom we had been blessed with.

Now that time has lessened the impact of that afternoon journey, what's left isn't concern about my car, but sheer thankfulness. Being thankful that no one was hurt (my brother, myself or any other motorist). Being thankful that we made it to my sister's house and were able to share a meal together, honoring the memory of our Mom. Being thankful that I had car insurance that will pay for most of the damage. Being thankful that I could drive the car home, and, the next day find a good body shop a five minute drive from my home. Being thankful that I could get a rental car from a company that comes to your home to pick you up, for free.

Being thankful for the realization that what's truly important in life aren't the things we own but the relationships that we share.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Visiting A Friend

A friend of mine and I have been visiting a mutual friend who is in a specialized nursing care facility for individuals struggling with dementia.

Today our mutual friend was uncharacteristically at ease.  We found her sitting down in an easy chair in the Activity Room, eating a bag of Cheez-its.

Our friend has reached the point where she really can't contribute to a conversation, other than responding to a direct question that only requires a "yes" or "no" answer.  But we still try to catch her up on current events.

At one point, she reached into her bag of Cheez-its, looked right at me and then handed a single Cheez-it to me. She kept this up at intervals during our time together. And it impressed me: What a generous, gracious act to offer a bit of her snack. A strong sign of the loving, thoughtful person she had been and was trying to remain, even though the loss of memory had severely curtailed her ability to contribute to the conversation. She wanted us to know that she was still present somehow.