Sunday, September 30, 2012

Softball Time!

All of my NJ nieces play softball so we have spent the last few days attending quite a few games.  It's been fun to see them play and to sit in the sunshine (for the most part, though it did get a little chilly in the evening).  Above, Alex at bat.

Alex (R) and one of her teammates

 My adorable nephew, Billy

My sister in law Patty's mom (L) and my mom (R)

 My sister in law Patty and niece Abby

 Aunt Jane and Alex

 Out to dinner at Nifty Fifty's between games

Alex and Becca

Billy and Abby

Friday, September 28, 2012

Greetings from South Jersey!

Just a note to say I left Unalaska on Tuesday evening, the 25th, flew to Anchorage, then to Seattle, where I expected to sleep in the Alaska Air terminal till my next flight at 8:30 AM.  My friend Tammy is in Seattle at the moment and asked me what time I would be in. I told her 2 AM, expecting her to say "Okay, I will see you when we are both back at home!"  But here's a real friend for ya--she said she'd pick me up when I arrived and we could hang out for awhile.  Man, I am not sure that I would get up or stay up till that hour of the morning to go see a friend (I'd like to think I might...depending on who it was. LOL).  Sure enough, she was waiting for me.  We went to Denny's and had some breakfast while catching up on lots of discussion.  The waiter was very entertaining, the breakfast was great, and we stayed and talked for several hours.  She took me back to the airport around 6 AM and I was soon on my way to Philly.

The flight out of Anchorage was on a "combi," one of Alaska Air's planes that carry cargo in the front and passengers in the back.  I've been on one a couple of times before but it always feels sorta weird.  We had a smooth take off out of Unalaska, despite the rain and fog that developed right before I left.  I was worried but needn't have been.  All was well till we approached Anchorage and then we were battered about quite a bit.  Leaving Anchorage was more of the same, though it didn't seem as scary on a big plane. :)

Arrived in Philadelphia at 4:45 PM, where Mom and my sister in law Patty picked me up.  I had to have a hoagie for dinner, of course. :)  We didn't do much the first night since I was pretty jet lagged but I was happy to be here with family, where it's still pretty warm and everything is still mostly green.

Thursday Mom and I went out running around.  I had some things to drop off at the dry cleaner--yes, it is strange to think that I have to carry dry cleaning out of state, but we don't have anything in Unalaska.  Also went to an arts and crafts store so I could get some stuff to make books for my students' autobiographies, and I bought some yarn along with a knitting book on scarves and hats so Mom could help me figure out why my knitting is so terrible.  We had a healthy lunch at Panera Bread and later went to the grocery store.  We worked on knitting and I realized what I was doing wrong, hurray.  After ripping out my scarf project four or five times, I am finally on the right track, I think!  Whew!

I still seem to be on Alaska time and couldn't fall asleep till 4 this morning.  Ugh.  After puttering around the house most of the morning, we went to Triple A to get a "trip tik" for our journey to Milton, NY next week and made a Target run.  We took a walk to the deli in "downtown" Laurel Springs and I got another hoagie.   Yes, my dieting and exercising at home may be going all to hell on this trip.  At least we walked to the deli, right?!

Tonight we went to watch my niece Alex play softball and met up with my sister in law Patty and the rest of her kids, Abby, Becca and Billy. It was fun to watch the game; Alex made some good plays and their team won--they are undefeated!  It was great to see my other nieces and nephew, too.  I have photos but will probably not get them posted till tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This is the way the world should be

I've mentioned my English as Second Language class here a few times and how I am continually inspired and impressed with my students, their dedication, and their lovely dispositions.  I had planned to have a party at my house at the end of our session, but two of our students are leaving town sooner than we thought so we impulsively decided to throw a party last Thursday night instead of having class.

I called Rich from class on Tuesday night and asked what his workload looked like for Thursday.  He listed a few things and asked why. I explained what I wanted to do and said, "Can you help me?" (which really meant, "Will  you prepare a fabulous meal for all of us on short notice?")  Ever supportive and gracious, he said, "Of course" and by that night, he was coming up with a variety of menu ideas.  (I can always count on him!  What a guy!)

Everyone came, some kindly bearing additional food and flowers.  We had a great time eating, visiting, laughing and taking photos, but what struck me the most was the cohesion of the group and the genuine friendships that have been made.   It made me wonder why there is so much hate in the world when it's obvious that we can all have meaningful relationships if we take the time to get to know each other a little.  At the beginning of each class, I always say "Hello, friends" instead of "students" and when we work on conversations, we always introduce one another as friends. I don't know if that expectation has made a difference or if they would have all been kind and accepting to one another anyway, but I like the idea of it,  regardless.  And now, instead of always sitting with individuals from their own country, I see a woman from Japan and a woman from Mexico conversing in English about their day, a man from Ethiopia and a man from Vietnam trading stories, a woman from Thailand and a man from Guinea talking about their cultures.

 Juanita and Ibrahim

Spontaneously, someone asked "How do you say 'The food was delicious' in your country?" and everyone went around the circle and taught each other a new phrase in many languages.  Then we tried "I am really full!" and "Thank you for coming!" and "I love you."  We were cracking up trying to repeat these short sentences in Vietnamese, Japanese, French, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, two different Ethiopian dialects and a tribal language from Guinea.  So much fun and so heartwarming. 

 Victor and Mai Lan

 Ahmed, Marcela, Rebecca and Magda

 Food and flowers and our still thriving tomato plants in the background

 Duong, Ahmed, Magda, Victor, Sandra, Kaori and Tuyet

 Juanita, Champen, Basha, Ibrahim and Rebecca

My friends come from countries that can be very dissimilar, that have different religious traditions and cultural mores; they speak different languages and find it difficult to communicate at times; they are all thrown into a totally new country and language in America, and yet they are open and accepting of each other, helpful to one another, supportive and encouraging rather than critical when someone makes a mistake.  They joke around and draw out the quieter students who might get lost or ignored in a different setting.  They praise each other and applaud when a new person breaks out of his or her shell for the first time.  It's kinda like "Norm" on "Cheers" as people enter the room each class period--the rest of the class shouts out the name of everyone coming through the door.  Tuesday and Thursday nights I know they are tired and have many other things they could be doing, but they are in class with a smile and a happy attitude.  I feel so fortunate to know each and every one of them.

 Posing and laughing

 Tuyet and Yumiko

Duong, Marcela, Ahmed, Magda and Victor
 No, Kaori and Tuyet

 Rebecca, Sandra and Anita

Basha and Ahmed

Mai Lan and Anita
No and Mai Lan

Saturday, September 22, 2012

More Lists

List # 14  I know I am getting older when...

*Disclaimer--I don't think you should smoke.  I just thought this was kinda funny.   :)

*I can't sleep at night
*My eyes get tired when reading
*My hair is thinning even more (UGH! I hate this one!)
*I keep thinking about retirement and how much fun it will be
*I have six wonderful grandchildren!

List #15   I know I am young at heart when...

*I'm still a rock 'n roll gal
*I can run and play with the grandkids
*I still believe everything I believed in the '60s
*I like young people and don't talk trash about them or their habits...well, most of the time
*I am idealistic

List #16  Things I'd like to learn

The first two I have started and just need to make myself PRACTICE
*Tai Chi
*Another language
*How to be a better writer
*How to create a better blog design


List #17  Excuses

*I have too much going on
*It's just not my thing
*It's too cold/rainy/windy outside
*I don't want to spend the money

List #18  Favorite Names

My three girls have three of my favorite names: Sarah, Bonnie and Susan.  :) My other favorites have changed over the years but since I am past childbearing age, I don't think it really matters any more.  What are yours?

List #19  Events I'd like to attend

*Presidential inauguration (but only if my guy wins!)
*An international peace conference
*My favorite bands in concert one more time (okay, at least one more time!)
*My grandkids' high school and college graduations, and their weddings (assuming they want to get married!)

List #20   Fictional Friends

*See previous post about fictional places to live.  I have the best real friends in the world--don't need any fictional ones.  Skip!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Whale Watching

Last night, my friend Melanie posted on Facebook that they'd gone out on their boat and had seen lots and lots of whales up close.  I commented, "I want to be invited!"  Nothing like inviting yourself, huh?  She called today to say we could go out with them this evening if the wind didn't get up too much. 

 We layered up and headed out in the rain.

  Her husband Troy gave us a great ride and lots of whale sightings

 Rich looking for photo ops

There were so many whales, all close by. Some of them seemed very curious and kept coming toward the boat.  Very cool!

It was really grey out there after awhile. We got home and it looked like the second half of our photos were in black and white!

This one kept breaching over and over.  We counted 9 times!  It seemed to be having lots of fun.

Our "after" photo--I'm a little bit wet and bedraggled, but had a blast! Thanks, Mel and Troy!

More 30 Days of Lists

List #10   I am at my best when

*I am rested
*I am doing something worthwhile
*I let go of my worries
*I see the big picture

List #11 Favorite scents and smells

*Baking bread
*The ocean breeze
*A sweet little baby right after a bath
*Patchouli (reminds me of my young hippie girl days)
*Walking into a deli on the East coast
*The musty smell of an old book store

List #12  Fictional places I'd like to live

Hmmm, as a non-fiction reader, this is difficult for me! I have no idea.  Really, our dream is to travel around and live lots of places for six months or a year at a time.  Can't wait!

List #13  Dinner Party  Guests  (living or dead)

I love this one! I would have the biggest dinner party imaginable and invite all of my family and friends, along with

 *Jane Addams

 *Maya Angelou
 *Aung San Suu Kyi
 *Cesar Chavez
*Noam Chomsky
 *The Dalai Lama
*Dorothy Day
 *Molly Ivins
  *Anne Lamott
*John Lennon

*Malcolm X
*Mary Magdalene
*Edward Norton
*Rosa Parks
 *Ann Richards
*Oscar Romero

*Bruce Springsteen
 *Lucius Walker
 *Neil Young

I'm sure I could think of 20 more if I took the time.  What fun!