Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just a Bowl of Bottle Tops

It was just a bowl of bottle tops. It would look like garbage to anyone else. But to me it was the most memorable moment of our Nicaraguan Medical Mission trip.

But let me explain.

The previous September I had joined a team to present a Teacher’s Workshop to the instructors who taught in the schools that are supported by Mision Para Cristo in Jinotega, Nicaragua. The team decided to present a Math Workshop. I searched my mind for some sort of math manipulative that I could use in this workshop that would be low cost and that the Nicaraguans could continue to replicate after the team returned back to the states.

 I hit upon the idea of bottle tops. They were on the ground everywhere we visited in Nicaragua. The teachers could easily have their students collect these if they needed them. Problem solved.

I asked my home congregation, the Las Cruces Church of Christ, to help collect 1500-2000 of these tops to be used in the initial workshop. Which they did.

I then asked Danny Dearest to paint all the tops one of four colors, blue, green, orange, or purple. Which he did.

I then packed up my bottle tops and returned to Jinotega, Nicaragua, and presented my ideas for using them as math manipulatives at the workshop. And I thought that was the end of that.

Until this June.

We had set our clinic up in a school for that day. Miss Emily was helping with the VBS in a different classroom from the one where I was having the eye clinic. Then she came running up with a simple bowl of bottle tops.

These were not the pretty painted ones I had brought in September, these  were better.  These were ones that the teacher had taken on herself to collect and use.  She had taken my idea and made it her own.  

Which was the point to begin with.

Sometimes you feel like your efforts mean nothing,  that the need is so great that you are just spitting in the wind.  But sometimes the news that you are making a difference comes with your granddaughter holding a simple bowl of bottle tops.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Whole Earth Grandma, Here I Come

I came of age during the late sixties and early seventies and, as a result, I was a wannabe hippie.  I had the long straight hair that was parted in the middle. I had large bell bottom jeans.  And I could rock some hip huggers.

And one of the hallmarks of this era was The Mother Earth News magazine.This magazine extolled the virtues of natural living before it was cool.  You could learn to build a cabin, make cheese from the milk of the goats you raised, or make your own shoes.  I thought it was incredible.  I longed to be a part of that group.  I wanted to walk around in my handmade sandals.  I wanted to live on a self sustaining farm and name my children Sunrise, Sunset, or Mostly Cloudy.  That would be the life for me.
Except that while I love to plan to do things sometimes I don't have the follow through to complete tasks.. I love to plan my compose pile.  I love to plan a garden.  But, somehow, things never get done.

And  I am lazy.  Much too lazy to grow my own food.  Much too lazy to make my own clothing. Much too lazy to collect rain water for my household use.

It is much easier, and much more fun, to go to the mall.

So fast forward to the present time and I am going once more try to stick the very tip of my toe back into that lifestyle by raising and drying herbs. Don't laugh.  It could happen.

Just call me Paisley Pam.

You may remember my herbs from a earlier post.

(Did you notice the oh so cute markers that I have added. I think the markers will make the herbs  grow so much  better.  Don't you?)

They are growing right along.

After an extensive internet search (five minutes on google), I found a website that shows how to dry herbs in the microwave. I think I can do that. No spreading of herbs on clean sheets in the sunshine and waiting and checking and waiting.  Just pop the herb leaves in the microwave, cook for a few seconds, and remove.  I can do this.

 So, continuing with my love of planning, I know that I will need something to put these aromatic herbs in once they are dried. So what can I use?

Enter IKEA.

After a trip to mecca, otherwise known as IKEA, I found the perfect shelf and jars in which  to encase my precious herbs.  Danny Dearest graciously hung it on the wall for me.
(Fantastic iPhone photography!)

Next thing is to find just oh so cute labels for the jars and fill them.  Now I know I that I am growing three varieties of herbs and I have eight jars on the shelf but three jars would have just looked silly on that shelf and it is all about how it looks.  PRIORITIES people. PRIORITIES. We all know that looks are much more important that function.

So the plan is that in the not to distant future, I will be sprinkling my fresh herbs on my delicious home made meals.

Just call Whole Earth Grandma. Or Martha Stewart. Or whatever.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Once a Duck, Always a Duck

 Like all good southern girls, I spent my Friday nights at the War Memorial stadium cheering on the mighty Mayfield Cardinal football team. In between the flirting, gossiping, and drama that is the lifeblood of high school, there was some football played.  I think.  I was very involved in the flirting, gossiping, and drama so I'm not really sure how much football was actually played. 

 The point was that the Cardinals, be they football, basketball, chorus, or whatever, were very important to our young hearts. And the hearts of our small town.


But every small town has the high school mascot that they hold near and dear and Taylor is no different. In Taylor, TX the mascot that lives in the hearts of its citizens is...the duck. Yes, Danny Dearest and I  are now a part of the Taylor Ducks. Where, apparently, the motto is "Once a duck, always a duck".


And this town embraces their ducks.

One of the selling points for Taylor when we were looking around (other than the fact that my grandbabies live here), was Murphy Park.   Murphy Park is a wonderful green space that stretches through the center of town. It has playscapes for the younger set, swimming pool, large trees, and a very nice path for walking and running.  And this.

(I especially like the little duck that appears to be flying.)

These signs are placed at the cross streets in Murphy Park because the park is full of ducks, geese, and cranes that enjoy the lake that is an part and parcel to the park and they do not yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles because they are, after all, THE Taylor Ducks.

As a rule, the local fowl are a friendly sort.  They will eat bread if you bring it and generally ignore you while you bask in their glory if that is what you want.  All except one.

The dreaded TURKEY DUCK!

This member of the bird family looks like the cross between a duck and a turkey.  And he got the worse attributes of both animals.  I mean a duck with a wattle?  A wattle for crying out loud.

And, in general a very foul deposition for a fowl.  ( Did you see what I did there?  Har Har  Har!)

And when an older woman (that would be me) wants to use the trail in Murphy Park to run in order to improve her general health, this frightful duck will chase the hapless runner, nipping at her legs.  He will run under her feet in attempt to make her trip and fall.  He will flap his massive wings to scratch her calves. I have personally experienced his techniques in combat against runners in "his" park. And he is evil, pure evil with wings.  And a wattle.  Don't forget the stinking wattle.

So if you are feeling the need to partake in a little exercise in Murphy Park in Taylor, Texas beware of the vile Turkey Duck.
(Kind of looks like he can see right into your soul, huh?)
And remember once a duck always a duck...unless you are a Turkey Duck!