Category Archives: Life

Kindergarten Memories

My kindergarten teacher was a young woman named Miss Rixford. She was in her early 20’s, and  had long dark hair with bangs. She was pretty, but not gorgeous.  I was just four years old when I arrived in her classroom, something unheard of today.  Other than the brief physical description, I don’t remember much about Miss Rixford, except that she really wasn’t warm and friendly. She was nice, but there was something cool and reserved about her. Whenever I think about her, I always see her in a particular dress that she used to wear. It was green and blue plaid, with overall type straps and she wore a long white sleeved blouse underneath. In hind sight I don’t think she liked kids much or teaching.  Nevertheless, I loved going to school and playing with all the neat stuff, especially, the faux grocery store items and cash register. That was probably the beginning of my serial entrepreneurship. Class was only three or four hours long but we packed a lot of activities into that class time.

My first experience with graham crackers was in kindergarten. Every day, we would get milk and graham crackers as a snack. I always looked forward to snack time because  I liked to eat in class, but I also dreaded it because after snack time it was required that we take a nap. I don’t know how long the naps were but each kid had a towel they would lie down on and sleep. I never slept. I hated naps. I would keep my eyes open and look around at all the other kids who apparently, were napping. Every day it was the same.  Today,  I can’t imagine going through life without a nap every now and then.

I still remember most of the kids names. I was boy crazy even way back then. I had a crush on a boy named Tim. He had dark hair and long eyelashes. I was way too shy back then to be myself. I was also way behind most of the other kids in coordination skills. I could barely hold a pair of scissors to cut paper, let alone draw something decent. But still, I loved all the crafty things I learned. One time we each had a long piece of butcher paper that was bigger than we were and we had to partner up with another kid and trace each other on the paper and then draw in the details of the face, etc. It was fun but very difficult for me.  Another time we had to draw a train and I remember looking at Janine Smith’s drawing and thinking how beautiful and pretty it was. It looked like a real train with gorgeous details of the caboose. Mine, on the other hand barely looked like rectangles and I was embarrassed. How come I couldn’t draw what I was seeing?

Even though I was behind the other kids physically,  I’m pretty sure I was ahead of them mentally. I thought and acted more like a little adult than a kid, but in school, I was too shy and insecure to express my thoughts openly. I rode the bus home everyday. It was bus no. 2 and the bus driver’s name was Mr. Johnson.  He was an older man probably in his late 50’s. He had gray hair, wrinkles, and he wore eye glasses over the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. He was a very sweet man. I just loved him. He knew all the kids names and he made sure that we didn’t get rowdy or disrespectful during the ride to or from school. Every day, I would get dropped off in front of my house at exactly noon. I know the exact time because Perry Mason came on at noon and it was my favorite show.  My mom and I would have lunch and watch Perry Mason together. It was the perfect way to end my school day and begin my day at home with my mom.

Oh. “J” your memories are so clear and crisp.  You were so young to be in school and away from you mother.  My kindergarten memories are very limited and I was nearly a year older when I started.  My birthday is in March so I turned five then started school the next September.  I think my memories really start the next year, from first grade I have many fragmented memories, but kindergarten let me see.  There is a big blank where the teacher should be.  She didn’t make much of an impression on me.  The kindergarten room in Cottonwood Arizona, though, was on the main highway as it wound through downtown.  The road took a sharp turn to the right before entering the one block long central shopping area.  I know this because I have been back to see,  and on that turn was what seemed to me to be a large Baptist church, and back behind the church was a small building that housed the kindergarten.

I wonder now if the kindergarten class was offered as part of the church.  My brothers and sisters and I walked to that church nearly every Sunday morning for Sunday School and church, then walked home for lunch.  Well dinner because it was the only meal we ate on Sundays.  My trip to the kindergarten class, possibly in the afternoon, was by tricycle.  Yes, I rode my tricycle to school when I was five.  We lived on 6th street so I suspect my peddling took me at least 6 blocks.  I would have had to cross at least 5 side streets and I went through the drive through of a gas station.  This is very clear to me.  I may have only done it once and is possible that my mother walked me to school but the memory is only of the tricycle ride through the gas station, across a pedestrian crossing on a bridge, down a ramp and parking in front of the school, and feeling very grown up and full of adventure.

Pulling the memories from my older brain, the only other thing I can remember is putting on blue smocks and finger painting.  Oh what fun, I could get as dirty as I wanted and it was called art.  The memories may be limited but I can still feel the happiness, the feeling of fun.  I even remember lying on my mat and ‘napping’.  As an adult I still love my nap, a quiet time to dream and think and in this case remember.   “GVS”


Making the Plan

Tartuffe Festival.

I love to travel.  Each year Camillo and I take at least one major trip.  By major, I mean outside of the country in which we live and to a city where we have never been before.  To a city where we have never been before usually means where I have never been before.  Camillo, who has traveled so far in his life, has usually been to the new city and is eager to re-visit, to show me his favorite places, from restaurants to hill-top views.

    Our trip this year will be to Turin (Torino) Italy.  Nestled in the area of  Piemonte, to the north and  west of Milan.  Torino has, of course, castles, churches,  food, wine and mountain views.   Camillo lived in this area briefly as a child (70 years ago) and spent time as a young soldier on a base right after WWII.  The primary objective of this visit is to spend four days in Alba, to the north and east of Torino, enjoying the Tartuffe Festival.  I am loosing 5 pound as my part of the plan for this trip.  If I start 5 pounds down I won’t once say…. “I can’t eat that.”   Camillo has made a complex spreadsheet as his part of the plan.

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe how well we travel together.  Camillo’s idea of a trip is getting there, arriving, and my focus is often the journey.  His spreadsheet has all the information as he sees as ‘the trip’.  Plane take off and landing times, train schedules, ticket costs, hotel names and reservation information when available.  He has also listed the particular sites he wants to show me, and any restaurants or even special dishes of the area he wants me to try.  As you can tell he has spent many hours making the plan.

My (other) part of the plan is to make suggestions like, “once in Italy,  let’s travel solely by train and bus, lets spend some days in Milan, will we be close enough to the Alps to take a train ride up a mountain pass (?), can we stop to visit Wendy?”  And to accommodate me, he builds my vision of the trip into his vision of the destination.  He only requires of me that I fit 30 days of cloths into one small suitcase, easy to load on and off the trains, and to do that I must make a complex plan, usually in my head, of what I will need to wear in between stops that are long enough to do laundry.   But that is part of the journey, right?

So this years plan is to fly from Rio to Lisbon on September 25th and will return Rome – Rio on October 25th.  We are flying TAP so we stop in Lisbon anyway and we will use the opportunity to spend 3 days walking in the old city.  Then on to Piemonte, Turin, Alba, Milan, Bagno di Lucca, back to Lucca to catch the train to Rome.   Once in Rome, there will be a week of short drives with his sister and train rides up into the Umbria area.  Maybe this is another trip, another plan, but Camillo is flirting with the idea of a small apartment in an ancient town, on a distant mountain top.  This year’s trip not started and our next journey already in the making.


Summer Fun

Summer. I not only love that word purely for the way it sounds when it rolls off my tongue, but I love that word because it represents fun. Kids get nearly three months off from school and parents seize this opportunity to take the whole family on extended vacation, provided their jobs allow for lengthy time off. Summer brings people together. The sunshine and the longer days allow for more activity. The parks fill up with families having picnics and barbeques; The lakes are busy with boaters, skiers and campers; Beaches are covered with sunbathers, while the rivers get their fair share of action with kayakers, and white water rafters. Just the thought of all this summer activity awakens my senses. I can hear the children laughing and screaming in delight as I imagine them running around in the park chasing each other with a game of tag. I can hear the hum of the motors and the waves of the water splashing against the boats. I can smell the freshness of the river water, and I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin as I imagine myself lying in the sand on the beach. Yes, summer represents fun and brings about nostalgic longings.

These thoughts and feelings repeat themselves through all countries and cultures, throughout the northern hemisphere and the southern, from north to south, east to west, wherever people have grown up and moved away from their childhoods.  The colors that remind us are different; muted beige of the desert or the aggressive greens of the rain forest and the smells may be of olive trees versus eucalyptus but the feelings that the heat of summer brings are the same the world over.   The same promise of heat saturated, lazy days running barefoot across hot stone.  The anticipation of hot dogs cooked on the grill and iced watermelon giving us feelings reminiscent of youth, this is what summer represents.

Every year when summer arrives it brings with it a sense of renewal. I say renewal because it gives people something to look forward to; A week or two off from the hum drum of their daily lives, a destination to travel to. Although it’s different for each individual, I’m certain that most people look forward to having a little summer fun. How can the sunshine not bring about good feeling? It’s a natural mood enhancer and if you are out in the sun you absorb one of the most important nutrients that your body needs to function properly, Vitamin D.  Dress in sunscreen, get out there in the sun and heat and play.


Dreams

Last night my sleep was restless and dream filled.  In one there were shadows and people I didn’t know, lurking, watching.  I was helping a few people clean up a restaurant maybe.  I put my purse over the back of a chair while I worked.  When I do this I think ‘don’t forget it.’  It was a nice time even with the shadows.  In another there was a ride in a car. I was in the back with someone and a women, I don’t think I know, is driving.  I know the others in the car.  They are all women. The driver who has thick curly hair is laughing and enjoying herself, but driving too fast.  Then the road is covered in snow and I become frightened.  We are flagged to slow down.  The person, a woman, flagging us yells there is ice under the snow and we come to a full, adrupt stop.  Everyone gets out of the car except me.  I don’t have my shoes on.  I can’t find my purse.  I left it in the restaurant of the first dream.  I am sure I did and am embarrassed to tell everyone that we must go back.

These two dreams are at least three hours apart.  They can’t be the same dream.  If they aren’t the same dream what is the connection that my purse is in both dreams?  I have always understood that your dreams are about sorting through things that happen; impressions that you have had during the period of time since the last dream.  That the underlying feelings you have in the dream are an emotional gauge; how you are feeling at the time.  Your mind weaves the impressions together with the feelings and you have a seeming cohesive dream.

Eating in restaurants, having many strangers around me, fear of forgetting my purse and having almost daily close calls while driving are common themes for my days here.  So for them to be a part of my dream I can readily understand.  To look to all the feelings, for me, is the interesting part of this dream.  While in the restaurant helping I felt hungry and happy.  Hungry because I am trying to loose another kilo (2.2 pounds) and am always hungry, probably while sleeping also.  Happy, I was helping someone and it felt satisfying to be useful.  I am on my way to Patty’s this next week and I love being useful to her while there.  The anxiety in the car is the same anxiety that follows me around the week before I travel.  Every time.

You all know I travel a lot.  I fly most trips.  JarieLyn asked me today if I fear flying.  I don’t think that is it as I have the same anxiety when we go by train.  I fear being late to the airport.  I fear forgetting something I need.  I fear not being able to find space in the overhead bins.   I fear my bags won’t arrive.  I am just anxious.  Then the moment I am walking onto the plane it is gone.  Where does it come from, where does it go.  Every time.


Just Kiss Me

I was twelve years old when I received my first kiss. I didn’t have a boyfriend or anything, but I’ve always been boy crazy. So this first kiss wasn’t planned or expected but surprisingly and awkwardly, good.  It came about one day at a party thrown by three sisters whom I’ve known all of my life. We didn’t live in the same town but my mom drove over an hour so that my sister and I could attend the party. And besides, the mother of the three girls was my mom’s best friend. A win win for the kids and the adults.  I have forgotten many of the details of the party except for what led up to my first kiss.  All of the guests sat on the floor, forming a circle.  Yes, you guessed it. We were playing spin the bottle.  Every time someone spun the bottle and it landed on the opposite sex we had to kiss them.  I’m not sure if my spin landed on him, or if his spin landed on me, but either way, I was very glad it was him. His name is Ron and he is the cousin of the girls having the party, and I have always had a crush on him.  I thought he was very cute. One thing you need to know before I go any further is that I was a very extremely shy young girl. So, imagine how I squirmed inside when it was my turn to kiss a boy. There were some giggles and prompting from everybody to just kiss.  When it finally happened, Ron put his tongue in my mouth, which I was not expecting. It felt kind of funny and part of me was grossed out but another part of me liked it and so I kissed him back with my tongue and even though I was embarrassed, it seemed like we kissed for much longer than necessary. I have never forgotten that kiss and I think it’s why I like kissing so much today.  A kiss is not just a kiss.  It is so much more.

A kiss is so much more than just an expression of passion; a means to express love or a loving act.  There are countless different kinds of kisses, mother to child, husband to wife, friend to friend, pre-sex, post-sex and among different cultures kisses are used for different reasons and occasions.  Lets take Brasil versus the USA, two places I am most familiar with.  In the USA you go to visit your family.  It is the first time you have seen them all in upward of fifteen years.  You walk in the room, say hello to the group, sit down and start talking; it could have been just fifteen minutes since you saw them last and when ready to leave a brief wave and you are out the door.  In Brasil you go to see the family.  You just had dinner with them all last night but as you walk into the room they all stand, you are passed from person to person, a kiss (buss as the British say) is given on each cheek. The 3 or four hours later when leaving the complete process reverses itself.  Some cultures do not kiss as a greeting and in another it is a process to maneuver through whether with family or casual friends. But for women the kiss can still mean more.

For me, a kiss is more meaningful than sexual intercourse.  It is an expression of intimacy that connects you to another person more lovingly.  When two lovers kiss, they are expressing how much attraction they feel for one another. There are many styles of kissing; soft and tender or wet and urgent as an example.   I believe that couples who continue to kiss throughout their marriage maintain a passion that is lacking in so many relationships. So, if you think you don’t have a spark left in your relationship, start kissing your significant other every day.  And I’m not talking about a quick closed mouth peck on the lips or cheeks. I’m talking about open mouth, tongues learning to waltz with each other kind of kissing.  I promise, you will make your partner come to life and have him/her wondering what the hell has gotten into you lately.  It’ll be worth the effort and If I’m wrong, well at least hopefully you had fun trying.  Now go start kissing.


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