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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Signs of the times - 2

“Home is where the heart is”  and other notes

I know that I am not of the norm.  Living outside the United States, in a foreign country keeps me living outside the average lifestyle of Americans.  There are people, though, that are born, live, and will die in the same town.  Their family and friends are close.  Their lives circle around the dynamics of one community.  You could consider them the lucky ones but in these times they are also the exception not the rule.  

During the 50s and 60s and maybe even into the 70s this live-in-one-place life DSC_0580was still the norm.  It has slowly become the standard for families to split up, move apart, to live great distances from each other.  I was going to use my family as an example of this slow change in family dynamics, but really it also has not ever fit into the normal either.  For our family, starting in 1944 and 1946, my two oldest sister were born in two different states while my father was still in the Army.  They may correct me at any time but I am sure at least that they were not born in our ‘hometown’ of Adrian.   Then Judy and I were born in ‘48, ‘50 in Adrian, Michigan.  Then the two brothers in (or around) Kingman, Arizona and the last, the baby in Cottonwood, Arizona.  My family lived in Cottonwood and area until I was a freshman in high school then we all seemed to gravitate back to Adrian. 

When I married and had my children, my husband and I lived in Morenci, Michigan; moving all of 20 miles away and only living there for 3 years.  Then we lived in 3 cities in 3 years:  Phoenix, Virginia Beach, Dallas, and finally landed in Houston in the mid 70s.  I left there in 2003 for Brasil.  Twenty-eight years in one place, a miracle.  In a few more months, I will have been in Brasil for 9 years.

My daughter and her children still live in Houston,  my son is in Phoenix, my mother is now back in Adrian living with Candy, one of the ‘older’ sisters.  Candy is one of the lucky ones, having lived in Adrian for the past 45 years.  All her children live within a max 4 hour trip home.  I also have a sister in Virginia, one in S. Carolina, a brother in Colorado, and a brother in Prescott and a sister in the Phoenix area.  Where all of their children and grandchildren are is a list too long for me to type into one sentence.   You can start to see my dilemma for where I would call ‘home’ or to define that place as ‘where the heart is’. 

The longer I live in Brasil the more transparent the concept of HOME becomes.  Slowly, I am moving away from who I was, and what my life was when living in Houston.   Friends have died, left or lost their spouses, remarried or just moved away.  The large group that I used to meet to dance has disappeared, the ones left have gotten old..... OLDER – sorry!  Not me, of course.  This visit to Houston I have felt almost disoriented trying to fit myself back into the feelings of being HOME.  Shopping hasn’t seemed as much fun, I’m not driven to see and eat everything.... well that’s not completely true – but creative license allows me some wiggle room.  Now I find myself visiting Patty’s home versus returning home and have to conclude that this is just another sign of the times.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Signs of the times....

I have been at Patty’s for a week now.  Coming from Adrian and my sister’s household to Patty’s holds the same level of culture shock as when in Brasil Camillo and I go from the quiet and serenity of Friburgo to Rio with its chaos and confusion.   The schedule here is total craziness.  Schedules for two adults (three jobs), schedules for before school study SAM_0024groups and after school training activities, volley ball practice, volley ball games, Saturday tryouts for club volley, a weeknight trip to the mall to shop for a homecoming dress, SAM_0037and amidst it all, meals – did I mention homework assignments? Everyone is in their beds by 9 and up by five to do it all over again. 

Needless to say, I have had difficulty with the sleep schedule more than anything else because Camillo and I pretty much adhere to a bed at midnight - up at 8 type of schedule, with maybe 3 or 4 parties or dinners A YEAR mixed into the quiet pace of three sit-down meals at home, a choice of going to the gym and to the grocery store for supplies, a few hours of TV a day, and playing on the computer or reading to pass the rest of the daytime hours. If you ever wonder why you don’t hear from your kids regularly, you have to go and live in their homes for at least a few weeks, become immersed in their lives, and then you will have a complete understanding that this silence isn’t about them not loving you but is a sign of the times. SAM_0060

It is possible that my days when the kids were young were of similar chaos, but I don’t remember them like this.  When Pat and Marty were in high school in Houston, we lived about 3/4 of a mile from the school and they road their bikes to school – no hauling back and forth or fitting my schedule to theirs.  Okay, I might not have been the best parent, totally involved in their activities as parents seem to be today, but I got up and went to a job every day, bought groceries and cooked dinner each night, and like my daughter kept my own home and gardens cleaned. When they were on the swim team, I made their home competitions but not the away.  I thought what parents did was to provide a bed and cloths, and a place to study, good foods and quiet times and the rest was up to the kids to figure out.   The way of those times.

Yes, Marissa is a highly motivated teenager. Giving her as much support as possible is the right thing to do.   I am just saying that life today is a grueling list of things to do, and activities to get past.   Just saying, thank God there is only one teenager in this household and for one or two months a year I can step in and be a part of the chaos (and then step out again).

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Proud to be an American, Part 11

DSC_0289The plan for the mini vacation that Camillo and I took here in the USA was a drive from Washington DC to Poughkeepsie NY,  then a three day drive up the Hudson valley, then across to Lake Erie and along the Lake to Adrian.  Pretty ambitious when you consider the miles involved.  We ended up reaching Poughkeepsie, spending one day in that area and then heading straight across Pennsylvania and into Ohio and up a few miles north into Adrian – DSC_0299except for one small exertion into the farmland, all by expressway.  The initial plan also included lots of fall color, a few waterfalls and the tasting of a few New York Wines.  It ended up that fall color was just beginning - not a disappointment by the way, the variation of faded greens, gold and touches of reds was beautiful -  the first planned waterfalls were closed for maintenance, the vineyards we located were closed for a special function and DSC_0319smthe other’s restaurant was only open for weekends this time of year, and I ended up with a really bad goldenrod allergy attack.  Don’t get me wrong the goldenrod that lined the highways, edged the farm fields and rimmed the forest is really beautiful, but my head locked up, gripped me, blurred my eyes – shortened my temper.   The shortened temper causing more problem then the rest, of course.  

While in the Poughkeepsie area we ate in one really good bar, Camillo ate a prime rib sandwich and a wine, and I a hamburger and a coke (designated driver).  The owners were friendly and helpful, giving us good food and instructions to a decent hotel.  The next morning it was raining but we drove up to Hyde Park to visit the home of FDR and their neighbors the Vanderbilt's.  The instead of finding a hotel for the night we backtracked and finding a freeway, headed west. 

Family home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt:

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Vanderbilt Mansion:

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