Friday, January 09, 2009

I Shook a President's Hand, but Whose Hand Was It?

When I was a young girl growing up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, I remember my mother making me mad. She made me get my coat on and go to the Cheyenne Airport so I could shake Former President So-and-so's hand.

I remember driving out there, parking, and being miserably cold because as usual, the Wyoming wind was whipping. If you've ever been in Cheyenne, or Wyoming for that matter, you know that the wind blows all the time.

I was tired, I was cranky, and I was not in the mood to meet "some old guy." That president stuff was pretty boring to me. My mom was excited about it, and kept trying to impress upon me what a wonderful thing this was, and that some day I would thank her.

Thank you, Mom. You're right, it was a wonderful thing. I just can't remember who it was.

I don't remember a plane landing, but there was excitement in the crowd as the former president approached. Now, I was a shy child, like my sweet son, and my mom kept telling me to get my hand out, as we weren't in the front of the crowd. I would not cooperate.

As the president approached, my normally non-pushy mother picked me up, thrust me forward and demanded I stick my hand out. And I did.

I shook the former president's hand. And I remember him smiling at me. I seem to remember him giving a slight nod to my mother as well.

That was that. Finally, we got out of the cold wind, into the warm car and headed home. I remember my mom being very frustrated with me that I wasn't more enthusiastic. I was just glad to be going home.

I'm sorry, Mom. I was a kid. I didn't know better. I didn't understand the significance of what you were doing for me. All I knew was that it was cold, he was old, and I didn't care. I was seven-ish, what can I say?

I care now.

The thing is, I could never remember who it was. I always thought in the back of my head that it was Lyndon Johnson.

If memory serves me, we moved from Laramie to Cheyenne in...let's see, I started second grade in Cheyenne. I was born in 1965, so I would have started kindergarten the fall of 1970. Laramie: Kindergarten 1970-1971. First grade 1971-1972. Cheyenne: Second grade would have been 1972-1973.

Harry S Truman died December 26, 1972.
Lyndon Baines Johnson died January 22, 1973.

So it was either Harry S Truman or Lyndon Baines Johnson.

This is one of those silly little things that has bothered me for years.

Will I ever know whose hand I shook? My one touch with someone famous, and I don't remember who it was.

Well, Richard Simmons called my house when I was in high school and skinny and loved to exercise. I loved his TV show and General Hospital and he was starting one of his exercise studios in our town, I had called inquiring about classes, and he personally returned the call. It doesn't count, though, because he talked to Mom not me.

Then, of course, there was the time I met Russell Means, who was an extremely kind man, while I worked in South Dakota. That man had a wonderful aura or energy to him.

But the question remains: Which president? Anyone out there know which president visited Cheyenne, Wyoming in the early 70s??

Monday, January 05, 2009

7th Grade Reading - Book List Revisited

Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
The Face on the Milk Carton
Animal Farm
Swiss Family Robinson: Johann Wyss
Shiloh: Phyllis Reynold’s Naylor
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: Mildred Taylor
The Incredible Journey: Sheila Burnford
Johnny Tremain: Esther Forbes
The Fox and the Hound
Julie of the Wolves: Jean Craighead George
Heidi: Johanna Spyri
Gentle Ben Walt Morey
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
David Copperfield: Charles Dickens
The Diary of Anne Frank
Little Britches
Flowers of Algernon
Summer of my German Soldier
A Wrinkle in Time Thomas liked this book so much, he got the entire series for his birthday and read all of them, too!
Anne of Green Gables
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Hobbit
The Cay
Phantom Tollbooth
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
White Fang
The Outsiders
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Day No Pigs Would Die
The Odyssey
Al Capone Does My Shirts
The Chocolate War
All Creatures Great and Small

Thomas has read so many books this year, he says he can't remember them all by name as there are so many. I make him read every day, and while I know what he's reading while he's reading it, and I usually write it down, I agree, I can't name them either. I know he read Lord of the Flies and he loved it.

I want him to plug away at this list a little bit, because there are some good books on this. I was really sad to see he had read so few on our list! Time to make up for that.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sunday, January 4

Well, I'm not done.

My kitchen is a horrid mess. But gee, the cupboards are clean, nice and neat. Well, all but two that is.

I'm having a wee bit of anxiety right now because we have to start school tomorrow. School? Eeeks, I've almost forgotten how to do school. I have nothing ready. I forget where we are.

While we're doing school tomorrow, I'll be fretting about the state of the kitchen.

It's a vicious cycle.

We didn't even get to Thomas's room. UGH. Christmas decorations are still up.

However, I am still thrilled beyond measure at what we have accomplished.

I think tomorrow will be a slow start. Math, Spanish, art--we have yet to do our gingerbread house, and the Thomas can work on that while I work on the kitchen. Better late than never. Reading, history--I guess it will be a full enough day.

I had so hoped we'd be finished. To be honest, I'm really getting sick of it all. I said the same thing over and over today, "I am not having fun, I am not having fun. UGH." At least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We're this close.

I might have finished, but my iPod quit working and I wasted two hours fiddling with it. (It works again, thankfully.) Priorities, right?

Just Thinking Out Loud

I shouldn't be posting this, but it's on my mind and has been since the death of a beautiful 16-year old boy.

First off, I am talking about the Travoltas. My heart goes out to the parents and sister because they have experienced every parent's worst nightmare. I feel for them from the bottom of my soul. I really do. I just cannot imagine what they are going through.

But, I have questions. I would bring these up if this were not the child of someone famous, if I had read the story in a newspaper or online.

First off, if your child has Kawasaki Disease or Kawasaki Syndrome, and you blame it on fertilizers and household chemicals, why, oh why, would you live in a home that is on a runway, with a jet parked next to your home? Can you imagine the fumes from that jet? How could they not get into the home? I just find that very questionable.

Secondly, if you have a child with a seizure disorder, as I do, if the medication you have been giving said child quits working, wouldn't you try new meds? Wouldn't you do everything you could to help the seizure disorder? I know I would.

Grand mal seizures are violent things. What happened to that beautiful boy could happen to anyone with epilepsy. It is a huge fear of mine. Oh, does my heart ache for them.

I've been reading reports for at least a year that Jett was autistic. I suspected it when I saw a photo of him tip-toe walking, several photos of him wearing a hood, and videos showing his mannerisms. I wondered, and then I go back to this: What business is it of mine? It's not.

However, what I'm trying to come to terms with is that we have freedom of religion in this country. What if, though, that religion comes in the way of the health and well being of a minor child? Is it the business of anyone but the parents?

Is a religion founded by a science-fiction writer even a religion?

This could have happened whether he was on medication or not. Not every type of seizure disorder is completely controlled with medication. It is a huge risk. Obviously it was a concern to the family as they had two nannies, both of whom, according to reports, were with him round the clock. Plus, they had an alarm that went off when he entered the bathroom. So it's not as if they were neglecting the situation.

My heart is heavy. This has touched me because it hit home. Again, I, too, have a child with epilepsy.

It is none of my business. This family should be left alone to grieve. Yet I can't help but wonder about it all. Looking at photos of John and his son, you can almost feel the love oozing from John toward his son.

My sincere condolences to the family. I just can't imagine.