Saturday, September 19, 2009

A tattoo and a prayer~

I stood, camera in hand, waiting my turn at a local bakery where a mouthwatering array of pastries and cakes would tempt the most ardent dieter to fall off the wagon. Fall? Make that, leap off the wagon. Happily. Diet schmiet!

Colorful cartoon-character cupcakes, with candy eyes focused on elegant petits fours on dainty doilies, shared prime shelf real estate with brash Italian pastries stuffed with cream cheeses.

When the counter woman asked, "May I help you?" I explained that I was a photographer and would like to take some pictures of the goodies.

I expected a quick, "Sure, go ahead." But instead she looked confused, and said she'd have to ask the manager in the back room.

"Ask him if I can set up a time to take some photos of someone decorating a cake, too, please."

The answer was no. No, I couldn't take any photos in the shop, nor of someone decorating a cake.

And no, I will not buy anything from your bakery either, I thought silently, while I made my lips say, "Okay, thanks for asking. I appreciate it."

And then, because I'm me, I said, "I'm curious, though. Did he give a reason?" She just shrugged; she seemed the type who wouldn't think to ask why, especially not of a boss. Maybe not of anyone.

But there are people who welcome the lens pointed in their direction. Broad Street Tattoo was happy to allow me in with my camera.

"Come back at 1:15," shop owner Joe Staska told me. "I'll be setting up for my next customer, and you can get some photos then."

Joe Staska of Broad Street Tattoo

When I returned, a kid--a young man, I suppose--clean-cut, sort of sweet and innocent looking, was sitting on the couch. I figured he was waiting for someone who was getting tattooed, maybe his mother. Or maybe a friend with a five o'clock shadow at 1:15. Someone wearing a do-rag and tee shirt with the sleeves ripped off, the better to show bulging biceps in tattoo sleeves.

But then he took out a wad of cash and counted it--twice. "Are you here to get a tattoo?" I asked.

He was. He smiled and told me he'd always wanted a tattoo, this was his first--he'd just turned eighteen--and he was excited about it, that he wasn't worried about the pain. Yes, his mother knew, and no, she wasn't upset at all.

Nick Bennett

All sorts of designs adorned the walls. "What are you going to get?" I asked, thinking of my son's tattoos. Ghoulish designs that, nonetheless, have meaning to him.

"The Serenity Prayer," he said. "I've always loved that."

I'll never know the reason he chose that tattoo. There are only so many questions one is entitled to politely ask. But I'll bet there is a good story there. I wish I knew it.


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.


Read my story, Coffee Break, at Camroc Press Review--a tattoo related tale of mother and son.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For Alice~ She's home!!!!!!!

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes it's all about knowing that loved ones and friends stand behind you,
knowing that support is there on the down days,
the worry days,
the days when you feel off-center,
out of sync,
bedraggled emotionally,
and in pain,
but knowing all the while that you're not alone.

You're not alone...

Alice is an online friend--she lives in Hawaii-- who belongs to the writer's workshop that I do. We've only "met" online, but those who have online friendships know that they can be just as strong as those in-person relationships.

Alice was hit by a car while walking, and is in the rehab phase of things. She's working to regain mobility after a broken pelvis, a broken arm, and a broken nose. It's scary to realize how, in the blink of an eye, life can lurch and our plans for a time are displaced by survival and healing. We've all been there--the place where the road veers sharply and suddenly--and it is then that we see how much our friends mean to us.

Pohai Nani Good Samaritan Retirement Community
Weinberg Care Center Room
45-090 Namoku Street
Kaneohe, HI 96744

September 12 update... Alice says: Please tell everyone that I'm walking better and better. My physical therapist even let me try a cane instead of a walker and suggested that it might be better to use in the house instead of the walker. We're beginning to discuss logistics and I'm working harder and harder. Able to rise almost gracefully and get myself out of bed. Getting back in is another matter, not quite so elegant, but pain is at a minimum.

September 17 update... Alice is making good progress. She'll soon be able to go on "outings" with friends or relatives, and is looking forward to seeing the ocean again.

She writes: I do have a lovely piece of news - I'm moving into a private room! There are only two. Mine has a patio facing the forest that covers the hill behind Pohai Nani. The private room is my luxury. I do believe I've earned it.

It's probably easier to send any future snail mail to my home address. My husband, Sachi, brings it to me every day.

Alice Folkart
333 Aoloa Street #324
Kailua, HI 96734

September 20th update:
Dear Friends,

I still don't know when they're going to let me go home, but I did make a very pretty polymer-clay rose--pale pink--in occupational therapy(OT) yesterday. Clay play is good to improve dexterity in the broken-arm hand. In physical therapy(PT) I endlessly stepped up and down, down and up on a low step.This is supposed to get me ready for climbing stairs.

In addition to two hours a day of OT and PT, I walk and walk and walk, mostly with my walker but sometimes with my lovely new cane. There's not much of any place to go except round and round in the corridors or in tight circles in the little garden.You can't leave the building without setting off an alarm. So, I don't do that.

We have a black standard poodle here named Hoku. He is definitely NOT a therapy dog. He'll only go to people who have food preferably French fries. He's very naughty. I'm trying not to take him personally.

Wish I could give you some local color, but the big news here is when someone's doctor has increased
or decreased some blood pressure meds or maybe when someone has convinced the nurse that he really does need a suppository. Big news! Am loving my private room and my very own shower. That's it, what's big here.

Thank you all again and especially Ruth.

More later.

September 25th update: Alice is home!!!!!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The scarlet letter~

I feel like Hester Prynne, except, instead of a scarlet A on my bosom, I have a big red X on Facebook… next to a picture of Obama.

There was a "quiz," and though I seldom take quizzes I saw that other people had big green check marks showing that they had taken the quiz, so I clicked the link.

Here's the question:

Should President Obama be allowed to do a nationwide address to school children without parental consent?

-I don't care

Well, in a blink of an eye "without parental consent" trumped the president in my mind, and I clicked the box beside No.

Then I thought, I really should find out what this is all about. I looked for the cancel button, but there wasn't one, so I returned to the Facebook page.


There was a big, fat, red X next to a picture of Obama at the chalkboard on my page, like I was Xing him personally. Everybody else has pretty green check marks next to the picture on their pages.

Some of us are just doomed to fail multiple-choice tests, aren't we?And we know what a red X means beside an answer.

If my kids were little, would I complain about an encouraging message from the president to children? Not at all.

If they came home and said, "Guess what, Mom? In school today, we all watched a speech from President Obama."

I'd say, "Oh? And what did he tell you?"

"That school really matters. That we should try hard, blah, blah, blah…"


But still, there is something about "without parental consent" that bothers me. Not that I think there is something sinister or political about this speech. I don't. Some parents raised issues, as is their right, and those in charge made changes to some of activities that were suggested teachers do with their classes afterward. Good move.

But the bottom line for me, after years of teaching and interacting with parents of my students, is my I belief that each parent should have the final say over what his child is exposed to. Yes, even the "kookie" parents. The one whose views differ from mine. The ones I really don't see eye-to-eye with. The ones who sound… uptight, overly concerned, paranoid, or … fill-in-the-blank with an adjective of your own. Because if we don't grant parents their different opinions and approaches… then whose opinions do we replace them with?
The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's all peachy~

Full steam ahead. It’s harvest time. And time to can and freeze as much as possible, a hot process in steamy late summer.

My husband doesn’t remember that I canned peaches last year, he says, although I have the pictures to prove it--and memories of pleasant winter breakfasts of peaches on oatmeal when he--oblivious, I guess--had toast.

This year, we make it a team effort. Although, to be honest, right now, I'm not playing. I’m on my laptop, and he’s peeling peaches at the sink. We have a small kitchen, poorly designed. If I get in his way in the crowded space he sighs in annoyance so… fine… peel away. Have fun. We’ve bumped elbows enough, and he is too precise for me, and I’m too loose for him.

“Why don’t you do such and such?” he asks me.

“Because this way works fine,” I reply.

He times things. I don't. He measures. I don't. He doesn't cut corners. I do. this is an exaggeration, but you get the point.

He sighs. Exasperated. “I don’t know why you insist upon doing things your own way,” Don’t you think the experts know what they are doing?”

“Experts? Experts!” I cry. Who’s the expert? You’re just reading directions on someone’s blog!”

The freshly cut fruit needs to have lemon juice on it to prevent the oxidization that turns it brown. I have lemons. How much juice, he asks, am I adding? Enough, I tell him, as I squeeze lemon juice on the slices. My fruit never rusts. But he bought a 32 oz. bottle of lemon juice and he adds a precise 1/4 cup to his fruit. This bottle will see us through many seasons…. maybe well past 2015.

“Hon,” he says, “it was only $2. 29. How much did your lemons cost?”

“More than that,” I admit, “but at least they’re real. If I squeeze them in tea they don’t taste like ….”

And so it goes. But come December, come the blizzards and Nor’ Easters, we’ll sit down to oatmeal with peaches and cream, peach muffins, peach cobbler, and peach jam on toast--not to mention what we did with the apples and pears-- and when the temperatures plummet and the wood stove keeps the house cozy, we'll be tasting summer.

We’ll forget all about lemon juice and what the "experts" said. We’ll forget who measured, and who didn't. It won’t matter a whit come winter. We are both experts who work differently. And it's impossible to eat peaches and not smile.

Proof of last year's canning.


And more peaches.
Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring and because it has fresh peaches in it. ~Thomas Walker