Looking Ahead

Babies only look ahead to having their next diaper change or satisfying their hunger.

Toddlers look ahead to when their parent will get home or pick them up from childcare, or when their next meal will be served.

Young children look ahead to recess time, weekends, or special events like holidays.

As they grow older they look ahead to the next year of school and start to think about what they want to be when they grow up.

Teenagers look ahead to what will happen when they graduate. Will they go to college? Get married and have kids? What will their careers be?

Adults in their 20s may still wonder about getting married (if they haven’t done that already,) and what will happen with their careers in the future. Will they own their own homes?

As people move through adulthood they realize they’ll eventually become old and need to prepare for retirement. They look ahead for decades.

And once they do become old they wonder what it will be like to become disabled and unable to live independently. And they may look ahead to life after death.

And they (or perhaps I should say, we) spend a lot less time thinking about the future and focus on enjoying life as it is in the present.

Perhaps people should do more of that at every age.

Another Claim to “Fame”

On my website I list three “claims to fame,” the first being my experience with Koko, which I shared in a previous blog post.

Here’s the second one: I once performed with the Joffrey Ballet, even though I don’t know how to dance.

I had a few months of ballet lessons when I was in First Grade, but after my father died we couldn’t afford those anymore. Obviously, I was hardly an expert ballerina.

One day someone at the church I attended in San Francisco mentioned that the ballet company was looking for supernumeraries. That’s what would be called extras in theatre terminology.

I tried out and was accepted.

They were performing Petrushka, which takes place in Russia in the winter.

Before each performance I’d go down to the basement in the old San Francisco Opera House and have a wig and long beard put on by the makeup people.

Then I’d wander through the maze of rooms through the room where the orchestra was rehearsing and they’d all laugh at me.

In the room where I changed into my costume I put on layers of padding and heavy winter clothes. I could hardly move!

During the performance all I had to do as part of the crowd was sway with the music and turn around once.

It was hardly what you would call dancing, but I can say I performed with the Joffrey Ballet.

Earthquakes

Yesterday the weather here in the Sierra foothills of northern CA was overcast and muggy. That’s very unusual in this area.

When I was a kid my grandfather lived with us, and I grew up hearing stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.

Because the quake and resulting fires destroyed homes, people camped outside for days, and the weather was overcast and muggy then. People who had experienced that event called it earthquake weather for he rest of their lives. Of course it didn’t cause the quake.

When the Loma Prieta earthquake happened in 1989 I lived in a victorian house that swayed from side to side during the quake. Fortunately very little damage was done to our home, but a lot was done to other structures in the area.

Earthquakes are rare, but very dangerous. Just think about what has happened more recently in Haiti.

It’s the movement of the tectonic plates below the surface of the earth that causes them, and I’m afraid all the lava pouring out from the volcanic eruptions in Hawaii may cause the Pacific tectonic plate to move.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a major earthquake in the next few months. I hope I’m wrong.

If Only …

I’ll make this post short and simple.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Golden Rule. I’ve seen paraphrases of it from most of the major religions on Earth.

If only everyone would follow it, most of our political problems, both in the USA and around the world would be solved.

So lets all try to do unto others as we would like others to do unto us. In other words, let’s all treat everybody else the way we would like to be treated.

Even though we may not be famous and powerful, we help make the world a better place a little bit at a time.

When I Met Koko

I mention on my website that I once met Koko the gorilla and, since her death has been in the news lately, I was asked to share more about that experience. So here it is…

Back in the 1970s when I lived in San Francisco I worked at California School for the Deaf in Berkeley, my husband was a Sign Language interpreter, we had a Deaf foster son, and we both interpreted services at our church in Sign Language.

We also had a deaf dalmatian who had learned to understand about 300 signs.

Someone at our church told me he knew a woman who was teaching Sign Language to a baby gorilla called Koko, and arranged for me to contact her.

I wanted our dog to meet the gorilla, but Penny Paterson said that wouldn’t work since gorillas are terrified of dogs. In Africa all wild dogs are predators.

But she did arrange for me to meet her at the zoo where she explained to me what she was doing, then took me out to Koko’s cage and went back to work.

A young man who was also working with Koko entered her cage and she slammed the door shut so he couldn’t leave.

Then the baby gorilla quickly clambered up on top of his head so he couldn’t scold her.

I asked if he wanted me to get help and he replied that wasn’t necessary because someone with a key would be coming soon. But he told me having Koko on his head was really hurting his neck.

I signed to her, “Get down.”

Koko turned her head away, then peeked back at me.

I told her, “Give him a hug,” and she climbed down into his arms and hugged him.

He thanked me, and I watched Koko for a while longer, but that was the end of my ‘conversation’ with her.

 

 

 

 

For the Fourth of July

This is from the plaque on the Statue of Liberty:

New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,


Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,


The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.


Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,


I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Bill Drake’s Book

This is the first time I’ve blogged about a book that isn’t for kids, but this one got me so excited I couldn’t resist sharing about it.

Almost Hereditary: A White Southerner’s Journey Out of Racism by Bill Drake is amazing!

Last week I jokingly posted something about being an anti-bigot bigot, but reading this book made me realize my attitude toward racial and religious bigots is really not very different from their attitudes.

The book is part biography, part history, and part information to help readers recognize and overcome their own prejudices. It’s well written and even some of the appendices are interesting to read.

With everything going on in the news lately, I wish everyone would read this book.

Playing Dress-up

When I was a kid I loved playing dress up.

I had some old Halloween costumes and a few skirts and blouses that had belonged to my mother, and a cowboy hat and cap gun. I think I also had a big piece of fabric I used as a cape.

All the kids in the neighborhood would put on our dress-up costumes and pretend to be various characters.

Of course the boys always wanted to be cowboys or super heroes while the girls often pretended to be princesses.

In about a month I’ll get to play dress-up again. I’ll be volunteering at the local Renaissance Fair for kids in Nevada City and I’m figuring out what to wear. I don’t have an authentic costume from that time period, but I do have a long dress with full sleeves, so I’ll probably wear that.

It will be fun to act like a kid again!

Bigots

My old dictionary says a bigot is a person with strong opinions. Today that word means someone who is extremely prejudiced against a group of other people.

In ancient history prejudice was necessary for survival. Perhaps if an early human ate a poisonous fungus and died, others in the tribe would avoid eating any kind of fungus. They might miss out on the healthy mushrooms, but avoid being poisoned.

For centuries if people saw others who looked different from their own group it was likely those people were coming to invade and try to take over their territory, so it was logical to be prejudiced against them.

In the ancient past prejudice was a survival technique, but times have changed.
Prejudice means believing all members of a group are the same, and it’s possible to be prejudiced in favor of people, such as a favorite sports team.

Bigotry is a strong, negative prejudice against a group of humans.

Unfortunately, I’m prejudiced against people who are bigots, so I guess that makes me an anti-bigot bigot.

Does that mean I’m prejudiced against myself?

Childhood Books and Toys

When I was a little kid my parents read to me every night before bed. I had books like The Pokey Little Puppy, Cheeky Chipmunk and many others.

I also loved to play with my dolls.

When I got too old for those things they were stored in the thin, wooden toy box and put in the basement. Since our home was on a steep hill, most of the basement wasn’t paved.

Decades later when I had graduated from college and got my first apartment I took the toy box there.

When I opened it, I was horrified!

It smelled terrible and everything in it was covered with mold and mildew.
Some of my dolls, which had been made before plastic was available, had heads made of composite material that had rotted away, and their clothes were rotten, too.

Most of the books were falling apart, the pages were brown and brittle, and they smelled horrible.

Fortunately, I was able to salvage a few toys from later in my childhood that were made of plastic, and some of my books.

I still have those today.

Do you have any toys or books from your childhood?