Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Saturday, June 29, 2013

In the Barn

I went out to the barn last night to check on Dad and Tinka after their last walk for the night.  It was cool, with a slight breeze and the stars were out.  It reminded me of all the times as a child and young adult that I sat out in the back yard at my Grandpa's, looking at the stars and the moon, seeing them as only they can be seen in a dark country sky.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Why I hate driving to Texas in the summer

The road goes west, the sun does not set until after 7 p.m., and it is hot.  That's why they used to hold the "Hotter than Hell 100" every summer.  It has been a pleasant 116 once, cooling all the way down to 99 this afternoon...in the shade.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The kitchen window

There is a blog I like, Mulberry Shoots, and the author K often posts photographs of the plants and ceramics in her kitchen, or some little bouquet or posey of flowers from her garden.  There is something about that still life that appeals to me, so yesterday when I was bringing in gardenias for the second day in a row, I thought about Mulberry Shoots and little vignettes of life.

You can probably tell from this vignette things that appeal to me.  Wine labels, heirloom tomatoes, gardenias (or other flowers), tea, and unusual bottles or tins...oh, and mirrors.  Years ago, I read something about feng shui and using mirrors so as not to have your back to the room.  I have had this mirror over my sink in whatever house I have lived in since, no matter whether I have a window or no window.  When we moved into this house, the space was open to the room beyond--a typical tribute when folks enclosed a porch to add on a room that encompassed an original exterior wall.  It allowed cold air in during the winter, and hot air in during the summer, so we closed it off as that room has its own heating and cooling system--separate from the one for the house and they were always competing with each other.  It now serves as my bulletin board/art collage to keep my eyes entertained while I am washing dishes.

I love gardenias, and there is a small gardenia bush in the front yard next to the porch.  Gardenias are short-lived though, on or off the bush.  I usually leave them on the bush so I can see them and smell them while on the front porch.  The bush has gotten extremely leggy, though, and desperately needs a trim, so this seemed like a good year to cut them and enjoy them for a couple of extra days in the house.  It has been delightful to not only see them as I am in the kitchen, but to smell their wonderful heady aroma as I walk in the door or through the kitchen.  They will last about 3 days, which is about 2 days longer than outside.  When I was in high school, a gardenia was often the corsage of choice for special dates, and I learned to love the sweet smell wafting up to my nose from my shoulder.  The girls would always wear the corsage to church the following morning.

While in Memphis Thursday, I stopped at Fresh Market and bought items I cannot get here at home--like heirloom tomatoes, long-leaf tea, a wonderful chocolate with maple-cured bacon bits (I know, sounds gross, right?  It's rather like the chocolate-sea salt combo, though--contrasting flavors that work together), some beautiful purple and white striped Asian eggplant (which went into the spaghetti sauce last night), Italian pastas, Brooklyn tomato and basil sauce, chicken la venezia, portobello, and parmesan ready to bake, and beautiful loaves of whole grain bread and cheddar popovers.  I am preparing for the third night in a row of cooking dinner!

Things are slowly moving back toward normal here on the hillside.  So much back to normal that I really have no excuse not to clean house this weekend...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lewisville Herald

 According to records in the Library of Congress-National Endowment of the Humanities project Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, the Lewisville Herald was published from 1917 until at least 1970 (papers exist from that time) although the exact date publication ended is not identified.
 According to the Lafayette tax records, this building was constructed in 1950 and is 75x140 feet--small, but could have held a printing press for a small town newspaper.  My uncle owned a similarly designed print shop for many years, and he cranked out a lot of paper in the small building that looked similar to this one.  The deed was transferred in 1967 from H. E. Watson, Jr.  Original publisher was H. E. Watson, so there is clearly a connection of some kind.
The Herald was a weekly paper, and founded October 1917 by George H. Dismukes and H. E. Watson, tow "veteran newspapermen of Southwest Arkansas" (Fred William Allsopp, 1922, History of the Arkansas Press for a Hundred Years and More, Little Rock: Parke-Harper Publishing Co., p. 222).

Dismukes was the editor and Watson the manager; in 1919, Dismukes sold the operation to Watson, who took over all responsibilities for the paper.

I am not clear about the purpose of the two bathtubs in front of the building unless they recently filmed a Cialis commercial in town.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

School's Back for Summer

(Note: Sung to the tune of "School's out for summer...")
Our full summer session started back up today, in our every other Monday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. gig.  It's a long day for students and for me--they travel anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to get here, and then back at the end of the day.  Joining our students from fall and spring are 5 new students.  Any time the group changes in composition, the group dynamics change.  One of my favorite sayings is: "It's not good or bad, right or wrong, it just is."  I love teaching family therapy and group therapy and these are "my" classes in that I developed them that first year of the program, and have taught them every summer.  They work well together, reinforcing each other in concepts and content, but it is also the aspect of group dynamics that I love teaching and observing in the classroom, and teaching students how to observe those dynamics and learn to love them as well.

I get excited at the beginning of each new class, and the opportunities it opens up for me as a teacher/learner, and for students as learner/teacher.  This group of students worked with me in Mound Bayou last fall in doing community education/vocation assessments for members of the community in relation to the re-opening of the Taborian.  During the spring, they worked on assessment and proposal development for a process of introducing behavioral health care in the community.  We will carry that project on during the summer in our Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice in Integrated Healthcare and Behavioral Healthcare course, so we will still have a hand in it.  Four of this group are in that class as well.

We'll be implementing some new learning modalities this summer in collaborative efforts to increase competencies in specific areas of child welfare practice through Child Welfare Professional Symposia, and Child Welfare Teaching/Training Rounds.  I am excited to be directing the project again this year, and also very excited that we have hired a child welfare scholar to join the faculty, who I hope will be working closely with me as we implement our revised curriculum model to better prepare child welfare workers, and to prepare social work students for the potential of child welfare practice, and collaborative practice.  We will be revisiting the Isolobantwana (Eye on the Children) model developed by Cape Town Childrens Welfare Society, South Africa, and the aspects of prevention and early intervention that were successful, and at evidence-based practice models, and our own Mississippi model of practice for child welfare.  Family and Group is the perfect context for those classes, as both are definitely related to child welfare in terms of treatment and intervention.

One of the things I enjoy about this group, besides the fact that they are smart, and funny, and engaging, is what I learn from them about child welfare, and preparing students for child welfare.  This has been a national effort for quite a few years now, and the research indicates there is still much we don't know about what is needed, and how to retain child welfare workers in what can be traumatic work.  I never saw myself involved in child welfare work until I began to work in South Africa, and their understanding that child welfare work is community work.  (Note: I did once provide therapy for parents/children who were involved in child protective services in Texas for a year). Prevention, early intervention, are related in terms of establishing a community that meets people's needs.  Child welfare made sense to me in that context.  I have continued my interest in the area, and increasing interest in educating social workers to be effective in child welfare in its many forms.  After all, child welfare does not just mean child protective services.

As we move forward this summer in learning the skills of family therapy, and group therapy, and embrace our new class members, it is always fun to watch the group become a group.  We use the class group as a lab, where we can learn from each other, experiment with methods and techniques and get feedback, and develop additional knowledge and skills.  To me, that is the fun part of instruction: co-creating the kind of experiential learning that lets us learn by doing.

Today was a good first start at setting the ground work and establishing the perimeters for our group.  I am excited to see how we move forward as a group, and combine our knowledge, skills, values, competencies, ideas, questions, and experiences to create the unique learning opportunities that enable us to further our personal and professional development.  Welcome to the additions to the group, welcome back to the "regulars" from the last semester, and as we jump into the hopper together and mix it up to see what happens, remember the professor I told you about today, "You can't just do this stuff mindlessly."  Thinking about what we are doing, feeling, experiencing, thinking, and why, is what leads up to learning and the development of new knowledge.  So, lets get to inventing!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

St. Paul Island, Alaska

I am preparing to teach a new class, Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice in Integrated Healthcare as part of a pilot project with the Council on Social Work Education, Health Resources and Services Administration, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  It is about integrating behavioral healthcare into primary healthcare settings.  It is an online class, and as I was "introducing" myself to the students, I mentioned my five weeks of clinical work as an itinerant behavioral health provider on St. Paul Island.
 It caught the attention of one of the students who wants to visit there, albeit because of Deadliest Catch and her desire to see the crab fishermen.   I will probably never forget the intense feelings as our plane approached the tiny island (it's roughly 4 miles by 5 miles if I recall correctly, but it has been about 5 years since I was there) that I would call home for the following weeks.
 It was without a doubt one of, if not the most significant and influential experiences of my career.  I would go back without question--and once I get all my body parts back in working order, I still might.
 One does not have to go to a remote island off the coast of Alaska to see the importance of behavioral healthcare, nor the connection it has to health as a whole.  We have many people here in the lower 48, and right here in Mississippi and in the Delta who have unmet behavioral health needs.  Sometimes, because they are not recognized, sometimes because they are not treated, but they are there, affecting the lives and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.
 The idea behind the national project is an effort to increase the involvement of social work in identifying and meeting behavioral health needs, and in increasing the ability of the primary health setting to recognize and treat those needs.  My spring class compiled a literature review and developed a proposal for beginning the engagement of community in identifying and treating behavioral health concerns.  We will continue that approach during the summer class.  The request came to us from a community who advised:
African American communities typically do not seek behavioral health treatment.  It is not acknowledged.
The students' research, and subsequent proposal, builds on the strengths of African American communities in addressing behavioral health needs: the church community, often, the first line of help-seeking outside that of family and friends.
One of the things that St. Paul (and other Native Alaskan communities) attempt is to promote health and wellness in the community, outside of the behavioral and medical health care facility.  Such a community-based process has been used successfully in South Africa, both during and after apartheid.  There are communities in the US (lower 48) who have implemented such plans.  Our hope is not only to educate social workers for practice and policy development in this arena, but to actually assist a community in developing and implementing such a process.  It is community-university partnership that benefits each of us: communities, as we assist in providing services and resources to enhance health care; university and students, as we have opportunities to make the community our classroom and implement ideas beyond the theoretical.

If you think about it, partnership is what it is all about in most things--if you have it, it's a good thing.