Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way
Walnut Room? This way, please.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Reflecting on Reflective Social Work Practice

Several years ago, one of Rand's co-workers sketched a "super-hero" of him as Random Access.  It was a tribute to his accessibility and willingness to help with technology issues.  First of all, I think RA the person rocks, and second, RA the super hero does willingly make himself accessible--not just at work, but to his family and friends who are always calling on him for help with our computer issues.

Frankly, I am a little jealous.

As hard as I try (and I do, constantly reading about teaching and coaching and supervising and professional development and educating, and consulting and dialoging with my mentors and mentees about all those things, and researching and publishing about those concerns--3 so far in the last 6 months), I seem in a "slump" these last few weeks.  I am not only not a super-heroine, but not even a heroine.
  It reminds me of my tiger metaphor.  I am torn between wanting to jump up and attack a jugular, and the awareness of needing to lie down and wait for the prey to come to me.  Kind of reminds me of my first mentor when I started teaching social work.
Anyone who thinks teaching in a university is a plum job has never done it.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Cat Light on a Dark Night

It has been another weird week around Lottabusha County.  Wearisome.  Last night I was tired and cold.  I had to catch a ride with R to work as J needed the car.  He dropped me on the corner several blocks via a long detour.  Construction.  A nightmare to drive and worse to walk.  Fences, detours, closed streets, half streets--all worsened by the multitude of folks who do not understand (or else do not care) about the rules for a 4-way stop.  Folks who cross the street by walking diagonal through the center of the street, tying up 4 lanes of traffic.  It was raining, and windy, and I had a book bag and my computer because because none of the work computers will work in the makeshift temporary classroom.

At 5, R texted to see when I would be ready.  I asked where he wanted me to meet him.  He said he could get to where ever I wanted, so I said I wanted in front of my building.  Time passed--25 minutes of it with me on the curb, in the wind, holding that heavy book bag and computer.  I put my hoodie up and stood with my back to the wind.  I watched the guys down the street loading and unloading giant dumpsters with a semi to haul off the debris from the day's demolition work and get ready for the next.  I watched them lock up the construction site fences.

I had expected it would take a while, because traffic lines are lengthy on all roads, and there are long waits at the intersections.  I finally pulled my phone out of my pocket to check with him, and saw where he had called 1 minute prior--but the phone had not rung.  "I can't get to your building."  I called him back and asked where he was.  "In the parking lot by the chapel."  I said I was on my way--trekking back the same several blocks, up a flight of stairs, down a flight of stairs as from the morning traipse.  Another 20 minutes to get off campus and 10 more to get home.

We were standing in the kitchen talking when the electricity went out and we were standing in the kitchen in pitch black dark.  I felt for the flashlight, and lit a couple of candles.  All lights were out at our neighbors (believe me, around here, it could have been something else in this house going wrong) so we sat down to wait it out.  It was a long wait.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Metaphor for Aloneness and Togetherness: Waterfowl in New Orleans City Park

 Yep, doing all right here by myself.  I'm cool.  I'm chillin'.  This gives me time to think thoughts, and dream dreams, and envision visions. 
But at some point in time, we need to consider togetherness and connection.  Without that, all the thoughts and dreams and visions do not amount to anything other than noise in our heads.  Social Bridges said it nicely yesterday:
...memory is crucial to connectedness in the world and our sense of having a place within that.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday Puzzle

Can you spot the dog in this picture?  Remember those puzzles that used to appear in kiddie magazines?

Friday, January 6, 2017

Aluminum Architectural Details in former Shushan Airport

 New Orleans former Shushan Airport contains a wealth of architectural Art Deco details.  For interior pictures during the 1930s and vintage post card images, see the link at the Restoration of New Orleans Lakefront Airport.
This stairwell post reminds me of a miniature Empire State Building.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Me and Rio rocking out in Texas sunshine

We made it safely back to Mississippi this afternoon after a whirlwind trip between Christmas and New Year's Day.  Sis took off for San Antonio to have late Christmas with her kids, grandkids, and great grandbaby.  My Sister by Another Mother and I held down Fort Rio and took care of the parents.  It was tag team at its finest.  After all this time, my biological sibling Sis can manage Dad, Mom, Tinka, Rio, cooking, laundry, and the household chores for up to 4 days--if she has to. Fortunately, that has not happened except during a couple of ice storms.  I suppose most of us could do what we had to when it was a matter of life and quality of life for those we love, though I think some of us would even do it for strangers if circumstances thrust themselves upon us.  You know, like an ice storm or some other catastrophe.
Three shifts have to be covered every day, and due to unforeseen circumstances, we had one person...and me.  Now while I can do a whole lot of things and have a wide and varied skill set these days, there are some aspects of Dad's care that I do not know how to do because it has not been necessary since the first time he came home from the hospital with a broken hip and it was necessary.  Would I do my best if need be?  Of course I would, and we would manage just fine.  But Dad does not do well with change at this point and unless it is absolutely necessary, we avoid forcing him to deal with new experiences in the routine.  SbAM is really great with dad, having been with us for a little over 2 years now, and though young, is smart and a quick learner, and knows his quirks and how best to deal with them as it relates to caregiving--and better yet, he likes her and trusts her.  The deal was if she just took care of Dad, I would take care of Mom, Tinka, Rio, house, cooking, and dishes.  It is one thing to do all of that on an 8 hour shift, and quite another to do it for 24 hours, 3 days straight.

I sat in Dad's room every night and watched old movies with him, just being there in the chair so if he woke up from a nap doze, he could see me or talk to me.  Sis does that with him every night and I wanted to keep the routine as routine as possible.  He does not like to be alone, nor not be able to see us or hear us.

It was a hard week in so many ways, but it was also one of those times that you appreciate and honor, and for which you are thankful.  It is part of the cycle of life, and when you can embrace it, even in the hardness, even in the painfulness of impending unknowns and potential loss, it offers joy if we can have the heart to see it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The time of year for threes

 Yesterday I had to go in for lab work at 8 AM, and it seemed like the perfect time to head on up the road to Memphis while I was up and dressed.  I made the rounds of my three intended stores and back home by 4 p.m.  I splurged on some pecan-crusted pork chops about the size of a roast and put them on...about the same time that I remembered R was staying in town for the basketball game...and about the same time that J came out and announced he was going to get Chinese take-out.

Undaunted, I proceeded to sit in the living room with the dogs and music going full-blast, savoring my bit of time while the chops cooked, occasionally dancing to a tune.  My movements seemed to fascinate Abby--the baby of the three and she also danced around me in excitement.  Even though there are 3 dog beds in the living room, all 3 of them finally settled on one together.  It might be a metaphor for life.
Later, after my delicious dinner, followed by a mini pumpkin cupcake with buttercream and caramel frosting, I texted with my sister.  Sis and I have been discussing the new family information I found this past week, and some new resources.  Mother at 89 is pretty much the last of her family of origin, except for a few distant cousins.  While she grew up, as did we, with frequent contact with the extended family, she did not know much about those before her grandparents' generation other than their names.  That task has fallen to me, and has taken on a level of fascination as I have uncovered the journeys of the ancestors to the Colonies that would later become the United States of America.  Family history has always reported that we were descended from Scottish and English.  While that is true in the sense that some of the ancestors did live in England for a period of time, I have been able to discover Irish roots as well as Scottish.

I told my cousin the other day--as she and her sister have also been doing parallel research on her father's side of the family as well as her mother's who is the sister to my mother--that the more I find, the more I am seeing my "carefully constructed identity" take on new meanings and new clarity.

The ancestors tend to have that effect on me.  Since I take it as true that life is a construct, in that we "make it up" for how we understand everything, I find myself wondering what I might have constructed had I known some of this earlier.  The thing about assimilation of new information is that generally, if we can fit it into what we already know, we do not have to spend much time with it.  If not, and we find we have to develop new information and meanings in order to accommodate this new knowledge, it takes a little longer and might even be uncomfortable or difficult.

I find myself these days listening to women who are near my age or older, as they speak about their experiences of constructing lives and meaning in a time of "traveling uncharted terrain." Several years ago, I heard an interview done with Patti Scialfa, and last night, I ran across it again.  At the time, she was 54, and said she wanted to write songs that reflected her in this stage of her life.  I think for many of us who are reaching this point, and we are now all 10 years beyond the date of the interview, there is a certain nostalgia for some of the moments of our younger selves, while at the same time there is a sense of anticipation for what might lie ahead.

Can we be comfortable with that?  Can we be comfortable with being uncomfortable with the new identities that may be forged from these transitions?