Friday, April 18, 2014

Family Visiting

Barb and John at Duke's Creek

When family drives across the country for a visit you put on a hostess hat and show off the local sights. It is always fun to see your area with the fresh vision of guests. My week turned into a surprise when my sister, Barb called and said she was only a few hours away having spent the night in Nashville. Barb and her partner, John had left Vancouver, Washington for a retirement cross country celebration a couple of weeks ago with plans to visit family along the way. Barb retired and has always wanted to do a cross country road trip. They had no strong dates in mind, but just to see the sights along the way, taking old Route 66. Well the rains limited some of their sightseeing, which brought them to my house sooner than I thought they might be coming.  Interestingly, they came at the time of National Sibling Day. A holiday I had never heard of, but I guess it has been around since 1997, according to my internet research and this year made it big on FB with people posting pics of their siblings. The holiday was originally conceived by Claudia Evart to honor the memory of her brother and sister, both of whom had died. Did you know that in the US, 79% of all children have siblings when growing up. So why not have a holiday celebrating our siblings.

Here are a few old time pics of Barb and I in the 1950’s, which is why they are all black and white. I am the oldest so this why I am taller, we are 18 months apart in age and she claims that now she is taller than me, but I think we are about the same height and size. Our grandmother made most of our clothes so we were often dress in matching outfits, sometimes of different colors. I think it was the fashion of the day to perm little girls hair, I can’t say I like the look. One of my fav photos is the one we are the youngest in with matching plaid jumpers. We are seated on the piano bench and I guess I really like it because I remember laughing and being posed for the pic. 

Barb and John's visit was a short one, but the spring started to be in full glory around here. The sun came out after the rains that they arrived in, so, we enjoyed a spring hike to Duke’s Creek Falls with the air scent rich with blooms and damp earth. This was my first in years and that felt really fun and exciting hiking down and back up the steep switch back paved trail and still feeling okay. At the falls a women offered to take our photo. Nice to have the pic and wonderful to enjoy the sights and sounds of the falls and creek filled by the recent rains. They both really enjoyed all the local sights, and local restaurants North Georgia at its best.
John, Barb and AJ at Duke's Creek Falls

Another highlight of their visit was going to the movies. Something I never get around to doing very often. We all wanted to see the award wining independent film, Cesar Chavez. A film I highly recommend seeing Cesar Chavez, the man who created United Farm Works Union back in the late sixties and early seventies. We lived in California during the events depicted in the movie, which did give us somewhat of a nostalgia for our idealist youth. It was also, a powerful reminder of past events that I wish I could say are all behind us and we now live in a country that has healthy working conditions and fair pay for all workers. Unfortunately, we don’t. So, this was a very relevant movie for our current times and how people can make changes in their lives through solidarity of workers and non violence. It was a well done film showing how one man and his family could set out to organize a whole community to promote change and success at least in part. It is a film that will leave you thinking. Thinking, maybe just how lucky you are or maybe how you can get involved in current issues for social change. There are many.

 Here is a quote from Cesar Chavez: On Starting a Union for Farmworkers:
"I had a dream that the only reason the employers were so powerful was not because they in fact had that much power, in terms of dealing with the lives of their workers at will, but what made them truly powerful was that we were weak.And if we could somehow begin to develop some strength among ourselves, I felt that we could begin to equal that, balancing their power in agriculture."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Art and Dog Training - Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

My Paintings at the Alumni Exhibit

This has been a busy week of yard work…for the first time in a very long time I got sore muscles from working in the yard….that is exciting! It was great to be out in the sun and clearing the back “40” to make a garden. Last year by the time we returned from Baja the Kudzu had won over the backyard. This year I am clearing out all the old vines before it has a chance to take hold and creating a veggie garden. We get full sun there which will be perfect if we don’t have too much rain this summer like we had last summer. After three delightful days of working in the yard I took a break and with a friend went to the Piedmont College Alumni Show to see my paintings and what other fellow artist are doing these days. It is a very eclectic show. My paintings stood out as the most colorful.  A little nostalgia to the day, I went to grad school at Piedmont when I first came to Georgia to help with my mother who had Alzheimer’s. So, my time at the art school has very mixed emotional memories. I do have the distinction of being the first to graduate from their then new Masters in Art Ed. Program, ( I could transfer grad school credits from California so I gained a semester on my fellow students). It was fun to see that in the new art building they now have a studio from Art Ed. After checking out the art we had a delightful lunch in a little near by Mexican Restaurant that I have not been to in years.  
Daisy waiting for class to begin
So, can you teach an old dog new tricks? Well Daisy isn’t really too old, she is three, but me well that is another story. Daisy and I went to beginner dog training Saturday and the trainer said the dog would be exhausted by the end of class, will Daisy was still all full of happy energy, me not so much. It was a lot of work to listen and do everything that we were being told to do…took a good deal of focus which I am still finding hard to do since my surgery. We have 5 more weeks to go and I’m sure by the end we will become the star of the class or at least we can think we are. LOL, there are only two other doggies in class and Daisy is the oldest and already the best behaved. When we got Daisy I thought how wonderful it was to get an older dog that we won’t have to do any training….wrong. If she ever had any she lost it in the months at the shelter. So, we are at square one more or less like a puppy to learn good manners. Though she did catch on pretty quickly during class, now it well be up to me to do the on going practice, just have to remember what to do. Luckily for me they gave us a folder with printed class notes or I would already be at a loss. I always thought of myself as smart, but training a dog is learning another language…”dog speak”. Like I said to the trainer, Daisy didn’t seem to know English. She just looks at you with big eyes and you know she doesn’t have a clue what you are saying. The trainer said, that’s right they don’t know English. So really dog training is all about communication skills, well darn, can’t I just paint her a picture. Seriously, I’m glad to have the help of a trainer and my Saturdays are going to be busy for the next 5 weeks. After class Daisy enjoyed a fast run at the dog park chasing another dog around in big circles, great fun to watch. I enjoyed the relaxing park bunch time with a couple other dog owners, a perfect way to enjoy the sun and the lakeside view. 

By the lake near the dog park