99 Days and Celebrating!

Get ready for a Fishbowl Trifecta! First, an apology, then a confession, followed by a huge celebration! 

I have been sorely neglecting my faithful Fishbowl followers, and for that I am truly sorry. There are countless, endless, reading opportunities, including blogs galore, and I so appreciate you--all 3 or 7 of you--for wanting to read mine. I have heaps of reasons why I haven't been posting (and each time I don't guilt ridden me finds a few more). The simple truth is this Gardening Leave has thrown me for a loop. And rather than taking time out to blog about it, I've wallowed in it.

 I must confess, it's been super fun, just being, living, doing, with minimal obligation. And a big part of me considered hanging a "Gone Fishin'" sign and calling it quits. But the truth is...Confession Time...I like blogging. 

People ask sometimes, "Why I write?" as in "Why do I think anyone should want to read what I write? What's so good about it?" Usually, that question is tossed at me during horribly uncomfortable moments: During a lull in dinner party conversations, after I've just received yet another rejection, when a big-time famous, award-winner author is standing nearby. I usually mutter something stupid. But now, thanks to this hiatus, I have the answer: I write to process events: I share my writing because I believe you and your, or you, might be experiencing the same things--if not in the same way. Or, you might need a diversion. I missed this time with you. 

And if that's not enough to celebrate, dig this: The day, June 22, 2016, marks the 99th consecutive day in a 365 day Poetry Challenge! 

Along with my writer bud, Cindy Faughnan, I am working through the Aspiring Poet's Journal, by Bernard Friot, illus. by Herve' Tullet. It's a fat book of guided assignments designed so "aspiring poets can spend a year developing their voice and practicing seeming the world through a poet's eye." While I am not a poet, not do I aspire to be a poet, I do want my writing to have a lyrical quality. Besides, what else did I have to  do these past 99 days???!! 

What have I learned during these 99 consecutive days:

  1. Buddy System Works: Alone, It's easy to cheat
  2. Consequences: If I don't post, I have to pay.
  3. No matter how busy I am, where I am, how lousy the Internet, If I really want to, I can do it! 

Only 264 more prompt to go! 

99 Days Playlist:

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Growin' Grapes 

Growin' Grapes 

Salads Fixins & Herbs 

Salads Fixins & Herbs 

Unpacking & Organizing

Unpacking & Organizing

Sorting of all Sorts

Sorting of all Sorts

On Gardening Leave

Is "Gardening Leave" the same as being "Put Out to Pasture"? If it is, should we be worried? Or happy? 

Us back then!

Us back then!

Four years, three months ago, Curtis and I moved to Trinidad from Indonesia. Seven years before that we'd moved to Indonesia from Houston. 

The day after April Fool's Day, loaded down with 6 suitcases, 2 carry-ons and lots of memories--especially of our dear Trini friends--Curtis and I boarded a plane bound for New York, and whatever comes after. . . 

 

 

Why we were New York and not Houston or somewhere else Bound?

Several years ago, while my Creativity Group (or the GGs as we called ourselves) was working through The Passion Test, I came to the realization that I wanted-needed-a base, a home, a nest of our own.

So, we went searching for that nest and finally found one in a seaside village of Westhampton Beach on Long Island. It met all our requirements--the requirements of late mid-life: Withing 2 hours of an International Airport; good doctors, hospital, within walking/biking distance to all the necessities. 

If you're wondering what "Renovation" means, this sums it up... sans the theatre/romance/fun subplot.

If you're wondering what "Renovation" means, this sums it up... sans the theatre/romance/fun subplot.

A better/worse/more realistic example...

A better/worse/more realistic example...

Our Vene Mange "Mini Band" won 3rd place in Carnival 2016

Our Vene Mange "Mini Band" won 3rd place in Carnival 2016

We proceeded to make the nest our own

And then,  little more ours . . . 

Fast forward three years. . .

We knew this day would come. Curtis's Trinidad & Tobago Work Permit expired on March 31t. We'd  been planning for it. Working toward it. We thought our builder was too...

This morning, as we were meeting with the electrician to decide where we should position the lights, outlets, switches, cables and wires needed to complete this reno, with detritus from our six suitcases & 4 carry-ons scattered throughout our crowded "nest" Curtis got the call we'd been expecting. As of today, Curtis is officially on "Gardening Leave," whatever that means...

Am I nervous? Excited? Scared? A little worries? Sure am!

Here's one thing I've learned these 4 years in Trinidad:

Trini hearts must beat with the rhythm of the steel pan. I'm sure of it when I see Trini's move and when I hear them speak. Sentences blend and bounce, ending with a upturn, a lilt. I try to recreate the accent but mine comes out sounding leprechaun.

Even courtesy greeting to passerbys dance. No quick, curt "Hi," or nod of the head. Joggers sweating and puffing their way up steep Lady Chancellor hill this past Saturday morning sang out, "Mornin' Mornin'" "G'day! G'day!" just as they had every other day. Morning greetings, regardless the age of the speaker,  come twice.

Curious about the origin of this charming greeting custom, I'd looked it up when we first came to Trinidad. I recall something about how the custom stems from back when servants manners better be above reproach. (Although when I searched just now for that reference, I couldn't find it.) 

I asked a Trini friend about the two-call greeting and she said she recalled her grandmother saying it was about not risking being considered rude. "Trinidad is a small community," she explained. "If you're not related to someone, you know someone who is. If it ever got back to our family that we hadn't been polite, hadn't greeted someone properly, we'd catch the devil. Better to say it twice and be sure to be heard."

Knowing this charming custom grew out of fear--fear of losing one's position or risking punishment--a "Better safe than sorry," mentality, should, I suppose, make me enjoy it less. On the contrary. I think there's something to this idea that if one has something important enough to say once, we should make sure it's heard. And if that means saying it twice, sing out!

So now, today, with Gardening Leave (and whatever it entails) about to begin, we're taking a cue from our Trini Friends:  We're Ready! We're Ready!

 

"Gardening Leave" Playlist

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Mosquito, Don't Ya Know!

I should have known I was in for it when the 4th forms started giggling before they started reading... (read why later in the post).

I should have known I was in for it when the 4th forms started giggling before they started reading... (read why later in the post).

Turn around is the best play! 

My last school visit as a resident of Trinidad & Tobago was to Guayaguayare R.C School, and what a treat! Instead of me entertaining them, the students, each grade in turn from 1st to 4th form (ages 5-10), shared their stories with the other students, teachers, visitors from Bridge Foundation, and me!

As part of its "Read to Rise," early literacy program, Bridge Foundation works with students and teachers in some of Trinidad's most needy areas, including Guayaguayare R.C. school.

Guayagyayare (pronounced exactly as it looks, with a Trini accent, yes I practiced heaps) is about 2 1/2 hour drive south-east of Port Of Spain. Reginald Holder, a Bridge Foundation staffer and long-time supporter before that, was kind enough to drive me down. (I'm thinking he and Anthea were worried I might not make it if I drove myself.) They might well have been on to something, some of the towns we passed through looked inviting and the beaches, spectacular. Here's a photo of the coconut palm lined highway in nearby Mayaro. That's the beach just to the left of the road, about 50 feet. (Now you see the temptation...)

Bridge's Founder,  Anthea McLaughlin, is a former Jumpstart board member, so naturally, when she moved to Trinidad about 7 years ago, she brought  Read for the Record® with her.

Jamie Tan from Candlewick Press hooking up the webcast on 10-22-15

Jamie Tan from Candlewick Press hooking up the webcast on 10-22-15

Now it's an annual part of the Read to Rise curriculum. And this year it was huge! Through Bridge Foundation's efforts 92 Trinidad and Tobago schools and almost 30,000 children and adults took part in the shared reading experience. Including the students and staff at Guayaguayare and Mayaro schools. What's more, Bridge Foundation gave every student at this school a book, and 2 copies each to the 90 other schools! 30,000 students, that's about 20% of Trinidad's children! 

Already acquainted with Norman, the 1st form students (4-5) were brilliantly equipped to respond to the prompt: When I got Norman, I didn't want to keep him.

(Can you guess which was Norman's fav?)

Through Bridge Foundation’s efforts 92 Trinidad and Tobago schools and almost 30,000 children and adults took part in the shared reading experience

Along with readings by celebrities who put a "Trini" spin on the story, Bridge partners created a slew of activities built around the theme of Pet and Sea-responsibility. Here's more about Bridge Foundation and Read for the Record® day 2015! 

Which is where I came in. Reginald read that I lived in Trinidad, he told Anthea who got in touch with me. Three heads together over coffee came up with a plan for me to give a workshop to UWI 2nd year Creative Art students on picture books, which they would then use to help Guayaraguayare students WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE their own stories. The books are being created as we speak! And having met the students, I know they will be amazing! (I'll share some if I can.) 

The really really fun part came after my presentation. 2nd form students, with hands clasped & sincerity gave a rousing rendition of their Trini version of There Was an Old Man Who Swallowed a Mosquito--

It had the Zeeka Virus, don’t ya know...
He swallowed a lizard to eat the mos-qui-TO
That wiggled and jiggled down to his gizzard!

Q&A session was hillarious! Of course one asked my age...and if my goldfish ever died, because their's did!

Bridge Foundation donated stacks of copies of Not Norman that will be given as prizes later. I was thrilled to sign them. Principal Burt Wiseman is fab and welcoming!

The grand finale was 4th Form's surprise. A recital of a brand new poem penned in Norman's honor! 

I should have known their was something, er...fishy going on when they lined up looking like they were up to something. Turns out Bridge's resident poet, Shurla Blade, had composed a poem in honor of my friendly little fish, Norman. They could not stop smiling even while reciting. Imagine my shock & Surprise: 

What do I get from school visits? Besides hugs and smiles--and being made to feel like a rockstar for a day? Images of those earnest, interested, bright children to hold, a reminder of who I'm writing for and why. 

They Call It "Tabanca"

"Tabanca" our friend, and Carnival costume creator, Ian, finally named what I was feeling, after a chain of text responding with a bandaged thumb. (Ian literally ground off the tip of his thumb Thursday last, while trying to wedge a rock under the rear tire of his car so he could drive up a steep hill.)

Here's Ian hot-gluing Curtis's "Horns"pre thumb smash.

Here's Ian hot-gluing Curtis's "Horns"pre thumb smash.

"That's what we call what you're feeling my dear: Tabanaca. It's Carnival Blues." 

I do have Tabanca!...Or feel Tabanca? Or am Tabanca-ish

How could I not have Carnival Blues?  Dang it, after weeks of planning, collecting, gluing, beading and feathering. . . 

Ian, Charisse & Curtis during a "Bead & Feather" session.

Ian, Charisse & Curtis during a "Bead & Feather" session.

Followed by weeks of playing and limin' and chippin' and whinin' bhoy--not that I am much of a whiner (the Trini kind anyway)--Post-Carnival, rather than coming as a welcome relief after way too much revelry, hit me with, as my mother likes to say, "A dull thud!" Tabanca.

I tried getting busy. Still Tabanca.

I tried ignore in it. More Tabanca.

I'm tired of wallowing it in. So now I've decided to go with it.

In a veiled effort to vanquish TabancaI decided to relive Trinidad Carnival 2016 by sharing memories here. Enjoy!

Jouvert 2015, we played with a band called "Cocoa Devils" and by the end of the night were smeared with cocoa "mud"

Jouvert 2015, we played with a band called "Cocoa Devils" and by the end of the night were smeared with cocoa "mud"

Carnival Weekend starts Sunday night, well really Monday morning about 3:00 am with Jouvert. Revelers dance along beside music trucks--Steel Pan and/or DJ's spinning Carnival Music.

Splashing, smearing, dunking in paint, mud (cocoa powder), and clay until after daybreak.

The origin of Jouvert and this "camoflaging" isn't "pleasant" as it came about as a response to Officials, mostly British, trying to ban Carnival celebrations. (The Spanish, absentee landlords, really, didn't seem to know about Carnival; the French by most accounts, joined in.) 

In case you wonder where I'm getting my info, I've been reading up on it in John Cowley's Carnival Canboulay and Calypso.

Carnival was introduced to Trinidad by French settlers in 1783, a time of slavery. Banned from the masquerade balls of the French, the slaves would stage their own mini-carnivals in their backyards — using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating and sometimes mocking their masters’ behavior at the masquerade balls.
— http://www.definitions.net/definition/Jouvert

As with Carnival, despite it's beginnings Jouvert is now pure fun for everyone. Here are a few more pics beginning with us at 3:00 am sparkling clean and ready to play! This year we played Jouvert with "Caribe" and finished smeared with paint (or, as we say, with "improved work-out shirts)

Like Jouvert, Trinidad Carnival's has ebbed and flowed. Carnival came to Trinidad in the 1780s along with French planters and their slaves from other Caribbean Islands. In the beginning the celebration went from Christmas right up to Ash Wednesday services. 

In wasn't until after 1797, when the British "Captured" Trinidad that serious issues and ordinances against Carnival began cropping up. 

 

 Wealthy white French residents would hired steel pan bands to play for their pre-Lent, "Fat Tuesday" parties. The bands, accompanied by friends and family, made the best of the work. They'd dance and party as they pushed the heavy steel pan drums from house to house. Eventually the revelers inside joined the party outside. But before the revelry can begin, there are costumes to be made:

Carnival Monday everyone dresses in part of their costumes and parade down the street.

Carnival Monday costumes: halos, purple wig and comfy shoes.

Carnival Monday costumes: halos, purple wig and comfy shoes.

Carnival Tuesday is the culmination of "Bacchanal Week" with steel pan band competitions, King and Queen engulfed by costumes as big as floats--some fully 30 ft high x 30 ft wide--Kiddie Carnival, Band Camp "practice" sessions and parties "Fetes" to support the bands everywhere. Here's a fantastic link to more about Trinidad's Carnival.

 

And here are some of my photos (with apologies as I only had my baby phone to click with. We played with a small band sponsored by Vene Mange restaurant, the owner, Roses is pictured with her parasol below:

And alas, instead of quenching my Tabanca, it's made me long for more...next year!

Trini Translations:

  • "Playing": is getting costumed up, and parading through the streets
  • "Limin'": Getting together with friends
  • "Chippin": bouncy walking to the music
  • "Whinin'": Trinidad-style dancing (precursor to Miley's "Twerking")
  • "Bhoy": Boy in Trini-ese

For more images of Trinidad Carnival 2016 click over to view these by Rapso Imaging

Tabanca Playlist:

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Three Little Words

If only I could make his mouth move and make what I wanted to say come out. But, what would He/I say?

If only I could make his mouth move and make what I wanted to say come out. But, what would He/I say?

We—I—joke how my husband, Curtis, has a set allotment of spoken words at his disposal each month, so he doles them out sparingly. It’s how I explain his silences. Everyone laughs when I say it. But, now, the laugh seems to be on me…

I’ve recently come to the long-delayed realization that, like Curtis, I must have a set allotment of words at my disposal, too. But…while Curtis’s is a monthly quota, mine is a DAILY quota. And, while, to my knowledge, his quota is only on spoken words, mine is on written words.

My writer friend Marty, gave a talk, recently, about Chaos. She noted how, in picture books, chaos is triggered by someone or something breaking a rule. For me, rather than chaos ensuing it’s blah-blah blah blah blah blah bluckkkkkk

Unlike Curtis, it’s not my words—written or otherwise—that run out. It’s my ability to use them creatively. I have this newly adopted Bullet Journal to thank for the realization.  

My last Fishbowl post, “Shot Myself in the Foot with a Bullet Journal, chronicled prats and pitfalls I encountered while undertaking to begin Bullet Journaling. Now a one-month veteran of the process, I have come up with a system that works for me. And some Don’ts (Or Donuts if you prefer):

 

 

  1. Donut #1 Do not Spend Too Much Time on It
  2. Donut #2 Do Not Try to Make it Look Pretty or Neat
  3. Donut #3 (with sprinkles): Do Not Write too Much

The realization that I was wasting precious words by writing too much of the wrong things too early in the day came about expressly because of this bullet journal.

Don't get me wrong. Bullet Journaling is fab-u-lous! This past month’s Bullet Journaling has done exactly what it is intended to do. It has:

  1. Helped me prioritize tasks and keep track of to-dos
  2. Provided a space to keep all those lists & notes (i.e. movies to see, books to read, things to fix, notes to write, passwords that I think I will only need once, misc.)

And, maybe most importantly of all, made me keenly aware of why I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write: CREATIVELY!

BTW: My sole purpose in writing this post on The Fishbowl now is as a caution to you, Dear Cherished Reader.

On Leap Day, as per the official Bullet Journal instructions, I reviewed my February monthly and daily task lists. What I realized was that each daily list had 3 or more tasks that required writing—and I was doing them before I got around to what I wanted, really, truly, wanted to be doing: creative writing.

Since all those other Bullet-Journal aficionados share theirs, here's mine.

Since all those other Bullet-Journal aficionados share theirs, here's mine.

These included:

  • ·         Bullet-Journal updates of yearly, monthly, daily task-lists
  • ·         Free writing (to clear the cobwebs)
  • ·         E-mail check and response
  • ·         Word-play exercises
  • ·         Facebook post on my author page
  • ·         Calendar update on my website

This past week, in response to an interview invitation from writer/musician/blogger David Alan Binder, I have been answering questions.(He sent a list of about 40.) Yesterday I stopped at this one, “What do you do when you are not writing?” (Clearly intending that in this context "writing" referred to "written-in-hopes-of-publication writing)

Yes, Curtis and I (with help from friends) glued all those beads, feathers and bling onto our Trini Devil & Angel costumes.

Yes, Curtis and I (with help from friends) glued all those beads, feathers and bling onto our Trini Devil & Angel costumes.

Part of me--the uncensored part, wanted to respond: “Glue beads and feathers onto costumes & parade through Port of Spain limin’ and whinin’.

Or turn on my Jack Nicholson’s Col. Nathan R. Jessup

                               “You want the truth? . . . YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.”

Because truly, what kind of "professional writer" would David and his readers think I was if, in response to his next question: “What are you currently writing?” I sent the above list?

Having written the above—and hyper-aware that I have used 628 of my precious daily quota (not counting deletions and revisions) to do so . . . 

Also keenly aware that because, in this post I discuss my mis-use of creative energy I prefer saving for "writing," some of you have already Fooled Yourselves into thinking this post doesn't apply to you. Yoo-hoo: Creative energy is "energy for creating, being creative, making, doing _Fill-in-the-blank_  

. . . I just want to say:

If you decide to create a Bullet Journal (or any variation on a task list). . . 

And If you prioritize the items on said list. . . . 

Do not do as I did and prioritize them in terms of “importance” to others, or with an eye to crossing-off-as-many-items-as-possible-because-it-feels-good. Prioritize them in terms of “important” to you! 

In short: EAT DESSERT FIRST!

  1. Select for Creativity. Use your creative energy to create—don’t waste it on trivial/menial tasks

  2. Select for Joy. Be sure to put tasks that bring you joy at the top of the list

(Note to readers: As of March 1, Bullet Journal Task Lists will be made the night before, email and responses, posting on Facebook, etc. will be written in my down time. If this results in a lack of liveliness in above-mentioned writing, I apologize in advance.)

Word Counts Playlist:

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Shot Myself in the Foot with a Bullet Journal

You and I have often talked about how to maintain goals we set. And those we don’t keep…

Click on the journal for a peek at so many images of Bullet Journal pages...

Click on the journal for a peek at so many images of Bullet Journal pages...

 This month—beginning Monday, Feb. 1stI pledged to begin an intensive picture book study, committing to at least 5 hours a day studying/reading/writing picture books. I’ve “pledged” before, but life…especially “important” family and work commitments keep getting in the way. Sound familiar?

This study commitment will require fortitude and organization. A writer friend of mine, Cindy Faughnan, recently set herself up with a Bullet Journal. A tuck it into your purse or pocket paper-pen-ink-no-battery-required journal. In support, she sent me a link to a basic How-To Bullet Journal U-tube video. Here's the link: The Analog System in the Digital Age.

After viewing, I bought my journal—bright pink—selected “the” pen, and following the step-by-step instructions, began setting up my journal. But I had a few questions…  

Turns out this Bullet Journal video is not a one-off; it’s part of a cult-er…craze…er website. There's a library! A Blog! A Store!!!! And slews of videos featuring other bullet journal aficionados showing & explaining their particular journaling styles. Too many . . . 

My excitement over this simple little system turned to angst.

  • Was I numbering correctly?
  • Bulleting, dashing, circling, arrowing appropriately?
  • Were my squares large enough?
  • Too large?
  • Should I color code it? Is that twee? Or just one pen? If one, which?
  • Should I write my goals on the front cover or first page?
  • Should my Future Log go across or down?
  • Should I copy a calendar and tape it in. Or create my own.
  • How many pages would I need for my monthly/daily task lists?...
  • How many other pages—books, movies, words, ideas, goals, writing project, house projects…what am I forgetting?
  • What if I mess it up?!!

                         I can not have an ugly Bullet Journal…

 After ripping out and starting over a few times,  I quit. I had to. My Bullet Journal was on the verge of being pageless.

BTW: This study includes returning to writing Morning Pages ala Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way.  Here's a link to a video explaining Cameron's Morning Pages.

 Feb. 3. was a dark day. I woke worrying about how I was going to continue my planned picture book intensive study if I couldn’t even manage a Bullet Journal?  

In the wee hours before morning I laid in bed driving myself crazy thinking about this Bullet Journal and all the other to-dos on my list, when It dawned on me how instead of mentally agonizing, I could agonize on the page and thus at least accomplish something…my Morning Pages!

Trouble was, I couldn't find any paper on which to write my Morning Pages. The last notebook I'd used to write Morning Pages was full. And I couldn’t find another one…anywhere. Was I destined to fail at this, too??

I’ve often thought these Morning Pages should be called Mourning Pages, M-O-U-R-N-ING...you’re saying farewell to life as you knew it.
— Julia Cameron on how morning pages should we whinny, petty, grumpy...

Then something one of the gals in one of those “Let Me Show You MY Bullet Journal” videos popped into my head. She’d been sharing how she had refashioned her weekly task list from the previous year and then, after all that work, said: “I’m going to try it. If I don’t like it, I’ll do something else next month…”

  Hallauah!!! (Que the Choir!)

 This is MY Journal. There was no rule saying it could “only” be a Bullet Journal... Or that it had “last” for a year... Or more than a month…Or be pretty...  

There was only one rule: If it’s going to work, it has to work for me.

I flipped half-way back and begin my morning pages there.  Done.

. . . Minor problem. The page number? (Every Bullet Journal has an index to each section.)

Click on the pic to see more

Click on the pic to see more

Very handy, but . . . Should I count all the pages so I could number the page about half-way back, I’d designated Morning Pages 1? Or write my darn Morning Pages?

 I made the tough decision: I stuck a post-it sticky on the first Morning Page—so I could find the spot again, took a breath and especially pleased to know that everything I needed to begin my days—my new Bullet Journal, pen, stick-notes & designated Morning Pages pages all in one tidy book—I began to write…

 If you’ve stuck with me through this entire post, I have no doubt you’re thinking—boring… tedious...if this is the worst of her worries… What a waste… a waste of time…hers and mine.

It’s tedious for me, too. That’s my whole point.

 Agonizing, doubt, questioning, beating myself up, aka “worry” is, in the words of Ben Franklin “Interest paid on trouble before it is due.” 

 But, “worry” is what I do.  If I'm going to play, I have to payfirst. That's how I roll. I have to circle before I can begin anew.  I have to get to that place where I am willing to allow myself to tear out a few pages, let go, make mistakes. Only then can I find my way in. This time, it was creating new routine. Next time, it will be something else…

 Trust in the Process. (I’m writing that in my Bullet Journal.)

...On a new page, that I'll number, and add to the index, so I can turn to it easily P.R.N. 

What a Difference a Smile Makes...

All was Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows last Saturday morning when I took Bennett and Michelle to the airport. He and his mama were winging their way north to Anchorage, Alaska to join Max.

On Jan 4, Max began a new job as an "Arctic Marine Biologist" with Audubon Alaska. (I've linked it here to the announcement on the Audubon website, so click on over to read about Max and what he'll be doing.)

Michelle was due to report for her new position as Labor and Delivery RN, BSN at Providence Alaska Medical Center, Monday.

Yes, this move came suddenly, with less than a month to pack up and ship out, they'd had to scramble, but in a good way.  Although no one in our Tulsa family, was happy to see them leave, everyone: Barb, Chelsie, Bonnie, John, Rhonda, Chris & Parker pitched in to help them move. I flew in for the last week.

Their reunion Sunday was joyous and exciting! Then came Monday….

Max and Michelle had tried hard to get Bennett into a good daycare. There is a serious childcare crisis in Anchorage. All the “best” ones have a waiting list--about a year long--and costs about $1100 per month. So they found one that “seemed” good, Max checked it out and paid a deposit. They had to pack Bennett’s lunch each day, but no big deal.

When Michelle dropped Bennett off, no one seemed especially interested in him. No adult smiled. Patted him. Commented on his dinosaur.  He came home asking about his old teachers in his old school. To be expected. And a nasty, raw diaper rash...

The next day, Tuesday, Max took him to daycare. Bennett didn’t want Max to leave. “Stay and play with me.” So Max did for a bit. But he is in a conference all this week and had to leave. And Michelle was already at work. Max pulled himself away from Bennett…who understood "Dada" had to work. With a “see you later," waved goodbye.

Before driving off, Max paused to return a missed call. As it happened, he'd parked his car so it looked inside the day care. While he made his call he watched Bennett through the window. Bennett took his dinosaurs and sat down. No one spoke to him, or interacted. Staffers walked past him without a pat or a word.  Max said Bennett sat there for a bit with his dinosaurs, then he put his head down and cried.

 Work was work. A paycheck is a paycheck. Even Bennett knows that. Max went to the conference.

As soon as he could get away, about 2:00 pm, Max raced back to get Bennett. It was outdoor time: Bennett’s hat was on inside out, his boots were on the wrong feet, and his shirt tail was stuck inside his soggy diaper. Max was putting Bennett's boots on the right feet when the owner/operator came by.

“Oh, ,”the man said, “Bennett, did you put your boots on the wrong feet?”

Max glared at him. “He’s two,” Max spat. “He doesn’t put on his own boots.” Then he marched to Bennett’s cubicle, scooped up all his belongings and they left.

Michelle and Max’s co-workers stepped up when they heard this story. Everyone scrambled to find a better place for Bennett. The daycare at Michelle’s work—Providence Hospital—which can take B when he’s 3--agreed to let Bennett go there Wednesday, to give M&M time to find a better daycare. And, the director recommended some facilities. I believe she even made some calls, as did Michelle, until they found a spot in one.

On Wednesday, when we spoke—Max and I—Bennett was at Providence for the day, “running around the playground roaring like a tiger.”

Better news, Max called back that night. The daycare they wanted, near Max’s work and well-respected, Tundra Tykes, had a place for Bennett, so he started this Monday.

Two days in and so far so good! Tundra Tykes, doesn't cost any more than that first day care, however the staff is able to include diaper changes--and smiles--as part of the service. Fancy that!

Bennett’s daycare future is bright. Because His parents could take the time, have the resources, the job security education brings, the confidence to say "This is not right. My child deserves to be well treated."

But, I can't help thinking about those other children stuck in that day care... Where's their much deserved smile?

What a Difference Playlist:

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Technical Difficulties

Technically speaking, the technical difficulties have been all mine. Truth is, I have been avoiding anything technical. It started during the Hustle-Bustle Ho-Hos of the holiday season and has continued through most of January. Then yesterday, a certain song popped into my head:

"Hello! It's been awhile..."

As I was singing along, I realized it was true:

"I really just wanted to talk to you..."

As y'all know--all y'all who've followed my blog for a while--the Fishbowl is really not a blog, and I'm not your typical blogger. Rather than blog "posts", I tend to write travelogues, commentary, memoir... whatever comes to mind that I want--need--to share. I've been writing this not-really-a-blog for more than 10 years now. And I like it.

So, I'm back! My posts may not be timely, or usual, but they'll keep coming, just as long as those songs keep running through my head.  Tune in!

Happy 2016 wishes to you!

Technical Difficulties Playlist:

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