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Getting Out

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

I spent some of my Friday and all of Saturday in the bush.  It was a wonderful feeling and relief to be in the bush.  I took Youth 1 with me on both days for Youth 2 was playing with a cousin.  Nothing is better than enjoying the wilds.  My Nikon D70s camera would have been better, but my lenses were at one location and the camera at another.

Friday’s excursion displayed the results of Hurricane Sandy.  Many of the trees were snapped, and the section of pines were devastated.  Our short hike provided sounds and smells of nature that otherwise could not be duplicated in the urban or suburban land.  Throw in the countryside when you include a farm.  There is no farm smell in the bush.  I could smell the deer that were recently in the area and felt the annoying drizzle of rain.  If it were dry, I would have sat and rested for a while.

This hike provided four grouse for Youth 1 and me to enjoy.  Normally, I would see a deer or two, but not this trip.  The signs for deer were there.  We really didn’t see any other animals on Friday.  It was a rather serene terrain.

Saturday was vastly different than Friday.  We have a dusting of snow on the ground along with snow squalls passing by throughout the day.  The temperature was in the low 20s instead of upper 40s or low 50s.  I must add it was quite blustery.  Again, I was without a camera, so many beautiful photos were lost.

Saturday brought more deer to my view which is always a pleasant sight.  Funny to watch a doe sniff the air after she caught my scent.  She knew the area but could not see me.  I could hear a hawk squawking in the distance as well as a woodpecker pecking away.

I was tucked on the calmer side of the mountain where the wind did not bother me.  This kept me warm and content as I sat observing life.  The occasional snowflake would annoyingly tickle my face.  A nice nap was in order, though I did not take one.  Instead I make a hike for the day.  Oh, if only I had the camera.

My time spent in the bush was refreshing and re-energizing.  I found myself scouting out area where I could do wilderness survival.  The temptation to spend the night in the bush was very strong.  Youth 1 enjoyed the wilds as well but may not recognize all of the beauty there is.  Sometimes getting out is the best medicine.

Categories: Outdoors Tags: , ,

Christmas Gift

November 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Today was the first day to pick a card off the company Christmas tree in order to purchase a gift for a youth.  Doing this has been a tradition for the Educator and myself since our first Christmas together.  This is one of our favorite holiday events even though we will never see the face of the person that receives the gift.

It is quite common to see a child ask for clothing.  This is an item my children take for granted.  For these disadvantaged children, the scene is different.  They may be lacking in a coat, hat or gloves.  Sometimes the teenagers ask for jeans or a nice sweater.  When I have selected request such as these, an extra gift is included.  Typically, the younger children will receive an age appropriate toy as well.  Christmas should be enjoyable all the way around.  This year I have a legos request.  Youth 1 and Youth 2 will be given honor of selecting the legos.  I also the two to want their own selection, so I may be selecting more off of the tree.

Whether you are religious or not, this act displays humanity and can teach children to be generous with their fellow human.  Acts of kindness supports civility and understanding.  We can not expect a government to provide for the unfortunate.  This must come from the citizens, and that is us.  Youth 1 and Youth 2 have been a part of this procedure for a long time and have learned from this.  It is a common occurrence for these two to donate their allowance to the poor.

Though we ask for nothing in return, our true return will be knowing that someone has enjoyed a moment of happiness and future knowledge that someone cared.

Categories: Family Life Tags:

Thanksgiving

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Halloween sparks the holiday season for me as an opener.  This holiday signifies the beginning of a period of celebration that ends with New Years.  Thanksgiving is the first major holiday with Christmas being the peak and New Years at the end.  Here we have the trinity of holidays in America. 

Thanksgiving holds many special traditions for people.  We often hear of the fighting, the crazy uncle or some other negative event.  These negatives are not frequent and not a tradition.  There are some identical traditions between families, many that are similar and a few unique traditions.  For me, Thanksgiving was very powerful with the traditions in my family.  Not all of these traditions have moved onto the next generation.  Indeed they may have reached their end with my parents.

A tradition is typically viewed as a ritual or belief passed down within a group.  Even more modernly, we consider a tradition to be a yearly action such as celebrating a holiday at a particular place.  Many acts considered as a tradition cease to exist after a single generation.  For me, I strive to continue some traditions even though the difficulty is great.  A Thanksgiving in my family followed the same pattern year after year.  It became a tradition with family and friends to spend their evenings with my family on Thanksgiving.  As a young child, Thanksgiving was a festive time with no relation to pilgrims.  The smells began the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving and carrying on through Thursday.  There was the Christmas anticipation as you awaited for tomorrows food.  There was no mystery.  You could hear my mother start her cooking as I drifted to sleep.  Thus began the tradition.

My mother would start preparing for Thanksgiving the evening before by baking pies.  The baking would continue throughout the night and into the morning.  I can remember now what was baked:  four pumpkin pies, two chocolate pies with meringue, two lemon meringue pies, two coconut cream pies, a mincemeat pie, a banana cream pie or two and a pie or two additionally that I never liked and so never remembered.  In fact I mention the pies in order of what I like – pumpkin and chocolate.  That is it.  My mother selflessly spent the night baking these pie nonstop.  She’d catch a minute or two while some of the pies baked.

Morning arrived with my siblings as well as myself begging for a slice of pie.  My poor sister preferred the chocolate and was often disheartened to discover only one pumpkin pie would be cut.  This happened every year!  I don’t know why she thought this would change.  Yes, my mother would sometimes make breakfast, but my dad never really asked for a meal.  He would enjoy a slice of pie too!

After breakfast, my mother began the preparation of the turkey and other items to be served.  My sister fought for the tely in order to watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  To this day, I can not understand the fascination in watching it on the television.  I would travel outside to play with friends or cozy up to my mother in hopes of catching a taste of a dish she was making.  Pandering to mom works.  As the morning grew late, I would visit or more likely bother my mother more often.  One of my favorites was getting a small bowl of marinara sauce and dipping bread into it.  The smell of the turkey was getting to me too.  The next food items fought was were the heart, gizzard, liver and neck.  My dad had a monopoly on these for only a short time.  Somehow we saved the liver for him.  My mother would take some of the neck.  I loved the neck for its healthy skin and bits of meat.

Our dinner time was always at the halftime of the first football game of the day.  For some reason Irv Cross comes to mind.  As the table was being set, the first football game roared on with the male members watching.  The females would set the table.  Isn’t that traditional?  On our small dining table sat the carved turkey (Dad would carve it in the kitchen), rigatoni (Italian staple), sometimes ham (introduced later on), stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce both gel and berries, relish tray, peas and a few additional items that I care to forget about.  I really do not recall “pop”.  We drank water and a glass of wine was allowed.  Wine was brought out only two times, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The standard group at the table was our family.  Occasionally we had a few straggling family members and sometimes friends.  The truth be known, anyone could come for dinner.  My parents were known to be generous and welcoming.  As we got older, it was very common for college friends to visit for Thanksgiving.  Our dog would dance around the table in hopes of obtaining gifts.  Our small table would be packed with people and food.  You couldn’t see the tablecloth.

Upon finishing the dinner, we enjoyed our dessert.  A 1/4 of the pumpkin pies would be finished off.  My sister had her chocolate pie and the mincemeat would get dug into.  Those twelve to fourteen pies had just begun to do their duty of entertaining our palate.  Now I can’t say buttons would be undone at this point, but I can say hunger was satiated.  Post dining had three rooms in use.  The living room with football, the dining room with food being removed and the kitchen with the washing of dishes.  My poor mother spent much of her time in the dining room and kitchen.  It would be several hours before she’d enter the living room for a sit and that is if we had no company.

Now the relatives that were at my grandparents or friends of the family started visiting, if they didn’t come for dinner.  This meant the food was brought out again for consumption and more pie was consumed.  Men watched the games, women were at the dining room table and us youth were crawling on the floor in the living room to avoid being an obstacle or doing something children do.  Post game was Miracle on 34th Street, a movie I didn’t enjoy as a youth.  Everyone was mixing in the three major rooms.  The celebratory noise of then is now recalled as lovely music from the past.  Around 10 anyone left visiting was preparing to leave.  My mother was busily packing up turkey, potatoes, pie and whatever else for people to take home.  I would closely guard my remaining pumpkin pies.  The evening was done and to bed we went for tomorrow would be part two of our holiday where my brother and father would leave for our hunting camp.  The rest of us stayed home.

This Thanksgiving holiday is really not too different from many families.  This was mine for many years.  Sadly, some of the traditions of our Thanksgiving no longer continue.  A few have been altered and even less continue.  My side of the family has virtually none of the traditions.  All I have are memories of a pleasant time.  My current Thanksgiving has evolved to fit my family and our needs.

I believe traditions are a way to keep the memories alive.  As I long for the fourteen pies, all-night cooking, sitting with family and friend watching football at my house, a part of my past is missing.  Why bother watching football games with teams I care little about?  It is about the memory of my family and a joyous memory too.  

Categories: Family Life Tags:

A Common Teenager Attitude

November 15, 2012 Leave a comment

“For people who want to get by on the minimum, there’s a reward already established. It’s called the minimum wage.” – Steven Dutch

Teenagers seem to thrive on doing the minimum.  This is normal.  Today there are a large number of adults that follow the first part of the statement above.  This wanting to get by doing the minimum is loudly becoming the American mantra.  Initially the do not realize the reward.  Afterwards they wish to change it reward.

Youth 1 has a penchant for doing the minimum.  This weeks issue has been chemistry and math.  Two subjects where the minimum shows you the path of a business degree.  I’m leaving out English majors this time.  Youth 1 has another habit of not asking for help when something is not understood.  I believe this is the teenage hormonal issue that affects communication between parents and teen.  Youth 1 was sulking and grunting as the Educator was asking why math was taking so long.  After much sulking, hand waving and grunting, the Educator discovered Youth 1 didn’t understand a concept.  I was called in.  Obviously I was not doing my job.

I looked at the first problem.  The problem was asking for the amplitude, period and a shift.  I explained this problem to Youth 1 the day before when all of these problems were incorrect.  I even showed Youth 1 by example that I could calculate the answers if I only go back a few pages and read a little.  Wow, I found a well hidden item called a formula:  y=asin(b(x+c))+h or y=acos(b(x+c))+h where the Period = 2∏/|b|.  The creators of the curriculum purposely hid these formulas where any unsuspecting teen could not find them.  We worked over the problems, and I mistakingly thought my teen understood.  No, this was not the case.  Youth 1 was trying to do as little as possible and was caught.  By not wanting to take the time to save time by reviewing pervious lessons, Youth 1’s attempt at doing the minimum failed.  As we progressed to the next problem, I again show this teen that the solution can easily found by following the example in the lesson.  This is about the tenth time I’ve explained this, but this teen does not want to expend the energy to turn back a few pages.  Funny thing happened.  As Youth 1 grudgingly understood the concepts and realized that we were correct, the smile and friendliness came back.  Youth 1 doesn’t want to admit fault. 

Today will likely be the same.  This child of mine never learns these lessons.  It is like watching Youth 1 march up a mountain and forget an item.  Ignoring us, this teen will go to the top and come back down.  The second attempt will be the same.  Youth 1 will march a second time forgetting an item.  Youth 1 will not listen to us or accept our advice.  It will be the third attempt up the mountain where Youth 1 finally takes the required item. 

Youth 1 is no different than many teenagers and adults.  All the Educator and I can do is equip our teen with the proper tools for the day this kid leaves the nest.

Categories: Homeschool Tags: , ,

A Book All People Should Read

November 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Youth 1 is preparing to start a book that I believe should be mandatory for all to read.  Thanks to the BBC I discovered this book.  Youth 2 shall discover the book too.  I find this book as vital reading for my children.  Reading this book will help guide them in life.  What book is it?

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin written in the 50’s.  It is a true story written by a white man about his experiences as a black man in the South.  Mr. Griffin would dye or stain his skin color to that of a black man and live as a black man.  He would later write about this experience and suffer too.  He discovered the only way to experience what it is like as a black man.  Just knowing a little about this book and the experiences of minorities saddens me that we can treat fellow humans like that.

When Youth 1 and Youth 2 finish the book, we shall discuss it.  My hope is that it will reinforce my education of my children and reinforce what their religious belief teaches them.  For me, I hope it will improve me too.

For you homeschoolers, please read this book and have your children read the book.  Everyone should read this.