About Me

My photo
Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Friday, March 25, 2011

When trying leads to liking

The movie had been by our television for three weeks.

"Let's just put it on for an hour, and if we don't like it, we'll send it back," Rob said.

In a bout of connective zeal, I had put "The Seven Samurai" in our Neflix queue. It was supposed to have something for every one of us. It was a movie that influenced George Lucas (Star Wars, for Rob and Nate), was the blueprint for many Westerns (me), and it was Japanese (Madelyn).

It was also over three hours long, made in 1954, and in subtitles. So it sat.

Then Rob made his suggestion. We put it on at 8 PM. The kids had the choice to either watch it or read in bed. Reluctantly, Nate took up a blanket, crossed his arms, and "harumphed" onto his seat. An hour, later, Madelyn had drifted off (which she does regardless of the movie, once it's past 8:30), and Nate was groggy, but we were still watching.  I didn't want to stop. It was obviously the influence for all those "get the gang together" movies, like Sneakers and Ocean's Eleven and, oh, that Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck one about saving the world from a meteor. The A-Team, my favorite show as an eight year old, was modeled after it.

Rather than a quick, rock music-themed montage or opening voice over, the samurai meet one another in scene after scene, and we get to know each character. The story unfolds rather than rushing. It gives time for the personalities to be established well before any action. It's got some swearing (not too bad, but words like "bastard" and "hell" and "ass"--enough to get Nate tittering). At least he had to keep reading to keep up. It's got a gentle love story. It has sequence after sequence of non-computer generated action. The blueprints for Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi are in this movie.

We put it in the next day and finished it, damp and drizzly day that it was. What a find!

Destiny calling

In big and small ways, we seem to be in the right places lately.

Take the Ides of March (15th)--while walking with the family, a woman pulls up and asks if we have "seen anyone walking this dog." There's a black lab wagging in her backseat. She had found him on a chain, wrapped figure-eight style around a stop sign and a street sign. He has no tags.She is taking him to the vet to be scanned for an ID chip.

A second ticks by and a dozen things flash through my mind--mostly that I had just the night prior told Rob that, after many weeks of thinking about it, reading articles and a book about it, and looking breeds up online, I feel like having a dog again, six years after Newton passed away.

I tell her that if she doesn't find his owner, to call us. The next day, she calls. We can have him for the rest of the ten day waiting period that Animal Control mandates for lost/abandoned animals. But, someone may claim him. We say, "Yes" and bring home an underfed but docile black lab.

The kids cannot believe their luck. One day we are four, the next day we are bringing home a DOG?! REALLY?!

When we visit Helen, our friend and my cleaning client, Madelyn spends the whole time with Willow, her rescued Golden Retriever. Madelyn is proving just as attentive with our new charge, throwing the tennis ball or frisbee for him in the backyard, using scoop bags to pick up his droppings, patiently walking him back and forth in front of the house to teach him to "heel." She's dutiful, that girl. Nate loves him, but Nate's more into whatever doesn't take that much work, like reclining next to the dog on the floor. Nate chose the name, however, which means baker: Baxter.

And speaking of baking, we made bread last week for history in conjunction with learning about the agricultural revolution of prehistoric humankind. It was flour and water bread, kneaded, flattened and baked. Nate declared it "the best bread" he's ever had and ate his share by dipping it in plain water and biting off the damp end. This boy would fare well in prison if this counts as good eatin'. A few days later, we made a standard loaf, as a comparison. Yeast requires a lot more waiting. Amazing what a little bacteria will make you do; it took hours between start time and the eating. Rob explained how the gas by-product of the yeast makes the air bubbles, which was hilarious to us-- yeast fart bread. Yummmmm.

In smaller ways, we were in the right places just being out and about. At the laundromat, doing all our bed comforters, I asked to watch the attendant crochet a blanket. This lead to her compliment about my kids' behavior at the laundromat and how pleased she was to "see them reading." I explained that they had to read before being allowed to play on the arcade games on site--a treat for them in this era of hand-held DS games. This lead to the homeschool revelation, which lead to her sharing about her grandchild's disability and the mother's consideration of homeschooling.

Onward to lunch at our favorite spot, where the owner asked, kindly, about whether the kids had no school today. When I confessed to homeschooling, his eyes widened and warmed. "That's just wonderful," he said. He went on to share that his daughter wants to homeschool his grandchildren someday, and he wants to help. I gestured around us, to his establishment, and said, "Bring them here. This is an education!"

Both encounters yielded compliments about the kids' behavior "compared to most." I know it doesn't matter what others think, but the public school-raised me sits a bit taller when another adult compliments my "work."
Perhaps we are adding to their confidence, too, being living examples of what is just an idea at this point in their lives.

Some days we are just in the right place.

Friday, March 18, 2011

To the city

Steering from the back of a trolley
We took an early Spring Break. It was time.

We had been working for eight weeks. For most of our week off, the kids played at home. There was a lot of Pokemon stuff and Cartoon Network. Rob was on vacation, too, so we took an overnight trip to Grand Rapids. I wanted to see the Bodies Revealed Exhibit. I had chosen our science lessons (the body) to coincide with this event.  The kids had already reviewed muscle types and the names of major muscles and bones.

Madelyn and I were riveted. Nathan and Rob were, shall we say, borderline-repulsed. They spend a lot of time looking at the floor. We girls spend a lot of time leaning into exhibit glass and hovering over the figures, pointing and comparing.

There was a planetarium, which was Nate's favorite part. Anything with a screen that big is aces for Nate. Rob found the animal exhibits the most interesting. (What--preserved animals good, but preserved humans bad?) For Madelyn, the bodies were cool, but the carousel was best.

The kids had never stayed in a hotel/motel. We lived it up and stayed at the Amway Grand Plaza, just a block away. Between down comforters, restaurants on site, a huge pool and TWO hot tubs, this was the hit of the trip. Museum lessons cannot compete with luxury. Maybe that's why so much money is poured into corporate coffers (TARP government bailouts) while school budgets are cut. Can't deny the wealthy their standard of living, can we?

Despite the decadence, it felt rather silly to be pampered. It takes an huge staff to keep up the appearance of perfection. There were parties in  the ballrooms, corporate ones by the looks of it.Watching people in their suits mingling, drinking, guffawing, and striding past with a level gazes, I wondered what real work they do.  How many people worked, figuratively, under one business person so that he/she can make decisions and connections amid glittering crystal and vast expanses? It's a small town bias, but being in a city--despite distractions galore--felt like a reality show  There was a big set with lots to see, but behind the scenes, there's a lot of emptiness. No one can be genuine or the charade falls.

I think our next overnight should be in a tent. One values tiny conveniences more when life's a little rough.

It can be any color, as long as it's pink