Meeting a Hero

Meeting a hero this winter…

When I was a little girl I was blessed with the best possible momma, sister, and daddy. I thought that they all walked on air from the time I was old enough to understand until today.  What you don’t realize as a child are all the little details we fixate on as adults. These are the things that make or break relationships in today’s world, and yet, why must we concern ourselves with things that are mere trifles in the grand scheme of life and the world.

What I was blessed with the most was a house hold that valued reading.

I was read to from womb until I left the house at age eighteen.

My father told me stories of his childhood at bed time, he read to me from the chapter books I selected as a pre-teen and continually read every book I was reading into high school.

My mother fostered a love for literature from infancy. I loved being read to by both of my parents and my sister. Those were some of the most vivid memories I can still feel when I slip into my mind’s eye today. The feeling of swinging in my mother’s skirt while holding the pages of the book up so she could read to me about Peter Rabbit or Benjamin Bunny.

While covered in chicken pox, facing another round of bronchitis at the age of six my sister waltzed into our folks bedroom and presented from behind her back, “Rescue Rangers,” the story of two brave little mice that save another fellow creature and jewel. I can still see he smile, tumbles of curls spilling over her shoulder while saying in a passing breath, “Here you can pass the time reading this with me, and you’ll soon look like this, once again,” as she passed my framed school photograph from the year before. Ha! Just what you want to be told when you feel like the creature from the blue lagoon.

Why share all of these strings of connectivity and literature?

Tonight I met a heroine of ours, my mom’s, my sister’s and mine. Patricia Palacco. Her book, “Mrs. Katz and Tush,” was a beloved favorite that I chose often at bedtime. I remember reading it to my nephew upon a sleep over occasion. We’ll have to revisit it sometime soon. Hearing her candid words about her youth, her learning disabilities, and her remarkable family, friends, and neighbors brought tears to my eyes this evening.

Happy tears.

Tears that made me smile, and nod, and spring forth a new well of emotions within me. Especially when she described her fourteenth year of life. The year that her deepest, darkest fear came to light, and a teacher reached out a hand to help guide her towards climbing a hurtle she had always felt was so formidable. The fear that she could not read.

She went on to describe Mr. Falker, who was really Mr. Felker in her junior high classroom in California.

I was brought back to my second grade year when my amazing mother said, “I’ve had enough of this not reading and not doing anything about it with your current school, we’re doing something now.” My mother researched, and read, and found a program at a private school that had major results for children with dyslexia.

I was the child in the classroom that had a keen ability to hear, see, and listen.  I memorized text. I repeated it, I evaded being called upon. I stumbled through the sounding out of words. I was being educated in the “whole language” classroom environment, and nothing clicked with phonics and phonemic awareness. I saw shapes, and negative space when told to sound out the word. It was not until the moment when with repeated practice, isolation of words into boxed in shape I could recognize these shapes as letters, then digraphs, and vowel combinations. Finally the sounds and the letters connected.

Patricia spoke of the moment when she finally made sense of the negative spaces that surrounded these “letters,” and the feeling of elation that followed. Realizing that a whole new world had opened up to her.

I can recall the first library chapter book I read that felt, I liken to climbing Everest. I had the best parents in the world. The most patient, supportive, and loving humans. They provided me with the tools for knowledge and they put in the work that needed to be done with me in order for my goals to be achieved. Without that reading program, Mrs. Lau, and my parents, I would not be a teacher today. I am not quite sure where I would be. But I do know that I wrote to my third grade teacher every year of my public school education. Every few years I send her a letter, and I receive a card in reply. When I graduated with my masters degree in teaching, the first person I wrote to after my sister, was Mrs. Lau, my third grade teacher. The woman who taught me how to read, and helped me make sense of the puzzle pieces that I finally knew where to place.

Thank you Patricia Palocco for sharing your stories all these years. I met you once in 1997 at the Lusac Public Library in Anchorage, Alaska. I can still see your face, your bun, and the back drop of the maroon curtains behind you in the basement hall. Life has a funny way of coming full circle. Tonight I showed you my book, signed by you in 1997, and I thanked you for doing what you do. Your stories have been read to every single class of mine every year. Each year before I read aloud her stories, especially in the winter months, I tell my students the following:

“I’m going to share with you one of my heroes. Now, this hero is an author. This author helped me feel like I was not alone. When I was a little girl I could not read, until third grade. Patricia Palocco’s words, her family, and her stories are one of my greatest joys to share in life, and now, I will introduce you to her work.”

You might wonder what the children think of her work? I’ll leave you with one word: riveted.

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Roxanne

When I was a young girl there was an amazing human in my life. Her name was Roxanne.

She and my mother were in a mahjong group together. If I listen carefully to my mind’s eye I can still hear the tiles as they would gently slide across the table and click slowly into place.

Four players.

Four women.

All of them bound by a unique organization called Hadassah.

The word Hadassah itself translates from the Hebrew word meaning: compassion. Which further explains the namesake of the organization that is run in Israel known as Hadassah.

With compassion I write tonight.

I thought a great deal about Roxanne this past week.

I had the opportunity to spend time with my thirteen year old niece who is a wonderful young lady.  It’s crazy for me to stop and look back upon my memories with her. We met when she was six months old, a tiny sleeping baby in a crib visiting her Grandparent’s and Uncle Andy with her mother. Now she is a tall, beautiful, smart, sarcastic, and quick-witted teenager making her way in the world.

I thought of Roxanne when I drove to pick up my niece that morning.

Her small stature. Her quiet mischievous grin when I knew we were about to embark on an adventure together.

The little girl with the long brown hair and dimple that flashed with glee upon entry to her home.

She was the mother of two boys, always wishing for a girl to dote upon. She later became an amazing grandmother to a lucky little girl who I am sure felt the same way I did when spending time with this woman.

I was such a lucky girl circa at the age of six.

I so admired her immaculate persona, the air of Chanel on her person, Gucci hanging from her arms, and the red nails like slippers donned upon each finger tip.

What I loved most of all about her was how she made me feel.

They say that what people remember most about you is how you make them feel. It is ever so true friends.

She always made me feel like a talented princess. Roxanne had this special way of creating a make-believe world in her basement with me. I would dress up and march around waving my imaginary scepter, and she played along as a royal subject. Pink cheeks, singing Disney songs, and bouncing from couch to couch.

Little did she realize that along with my parents, especially my mom, they all helped set the stage for my belief in the magic of the theatre. I was a tiny star in her living room creating a world of imagination and ruling the castle one couch at a time.

I can fondly recall upon one play date when her husband came home and threw on his Groucho Marx mask and wig. I was scared out of my wits and jumped into this tiny woman’s lap. She laughed and laughed and yelled at her husband Gary to take off the mask while I squealed into her chest.

Another special event took place on a gray spring Anchorage day. Dad dropped me off and went about whatever errands he and my mom had to take care of that afternoon.  I spent the day with Roxanne watching a Disney film, playing on the kitchen table while she prepped a meal for lunch. Then suddenly she looked at me and said, “Do you hear that? It’s the ice cream man!” She rushed me outside with her, she darted past the rain puddles and into a stream of sunshine. The rainbow sherbet pop wasn’t the greatest treat that day. It was the memory that became nestled into my brain instead. Now, I think of her when I see raindrops and sunlight touch, meeting again for a moment back in that afternoon sky.

Sometimes I think I can see her in a crowd.  That shoulder length reddish-brown hair with the crisp blunt edges swaying just above a black turtle neck sweater and Chanel-esque cardigan.

She wrote to me at sleep away camp in 1997.  I was in the grim years of my life, the early teens, the awkward age of 13. This time was marked by training bras, awaiting the time when I would finally become a woman…oh we ladies know what I am talking about…

My mom called and asked her to write because even back then, I had quite a mighty sword with my pen.

I wrote to my parents telling them how homesick I was. How alone I felt. That I had no friends and no one to talk to. This was all true the first of the three weeks of camp. I slowly fell into a rhythm and made a couple of friends. But this is a story for another blog post.

The point was that Roxanne was there when it was needed.

She even wrote me as a pen pal the first year we moved to our new lower 48 state home. I should dig out those letters sometime. I have them all still, along with all my other correspondence over the years with friends and family.

Taking my niece out for a girls date of coffee treats, mall shopping, and laughing made me ache with a desire to call my sweet Roxanne and say thank you.

Thank you for making me feel beautiful when I was an ugly duckling waiting to blossom. 

Sometimes life deals you these cards that are just glaringly unfair.

I wish there was a magic eight ball of time that I could shake and go back to that place and find her and embrace her and say all that is on my mind.

However, that’s not the case. It’s not possible. As much as I wish it were.

So instead, I laughed with my niece that day, and I looked at her with love in my eyes.  I hug those moments in time when we can laugh like I did with Roxanne and enjoy the simple things about being a girl.  Discuss the in’s and outs of life as we pass by glittering dresses we hold up for one another and joke about trying the ridiculous attire on.

Roxanne, you made me feel beautiful. Your spirit comes forth whenever I see a rainstorm pass over and the sunshine through the clouds.

I can only hope that one day my niece might think back and say, “Aunt Rachel made me feel beautiful and loved.”

Sparkles for Roxanne.

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Fathers and Daughters

Dear Friends,

There is something to be said about the bond between a father and a daughter.  My father was the first model of a what a man could be like in another person’s life. There are certain things that trigger fond memories for me. I think psychologists call it the, “close connection to the limbic system.” This is the area in the brain that is connected to the olfactory bulb which is associated with feelings and connections to memories.  (Insert warm fuzzies here.)

My hippocampus, or associative learning response for senses that were conditioned responses linked to memories are quite strong when it comes to my childhood and family. More specifically, my father. Whenever I smell strong caffeinated coffee I think: Dad, especially, wait for it…Folgers. “The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup.” Gotta love a good jingle every now and then, right?!

More smell memories come to mind… Polyester material, old spice, dial soap, the list could continue you on and on…

There are other conditioned responses that also come to mind when I hear specific poetry, read works of literature, or listen to music.

My father was my first dance partner. I think he was over joyed when I really began to dig the 1950’s tunes from the days of his teenage years. He taught me how to jitterbug on the thick rug in our family room. Jamming out to the cassette tape I got for my birthday. His creaky 50 year old knees moving and-a-grooving to the sounds of the harmonized voices.

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My competitive streak comes from my father’s side of the family. You don’t want to play a board game with me…or maybe you do?!  My nephew and I had a raucous last two summers of playing Monopoly games that went on for DAYS.  I was a terrible Auntie influence whenever I lost. I’d demand a re-match!  When he learned about hotels in Monopoly land, it was all over…but I digress. Thanks for that dad!

Dad taught me how to play, “Old Maid,” “Go fish,” solitaire, “Shoots and Ladders,” and chess. He purchased this beautiful chess set in Malaysia on his all star paid tour of South East Asia, as he likes to refer to it, or better known as, the Vietnam War. Not most people my age have a parent that served in this war, but mine did. This chess set always made me wonder about where it was created, what my father saw, and experienced beyond the short lived stories he would share with us as kids.

This chess game set the stage for years of Thanksgiving post-dinner time fun, Winter break hours spent at the dining room table, and summer hours ticking by. I learned what each piece represented, was valued as, and the basics of chess strategy. We later became quite obsessed when watching, “Searching for Bobby Fischer,” taking the interest in chess and bond between us just a little bit further.

How many of you save pocket change? Anyone collect coins?

The summer of 1995 my grandfather shipped $25 worth of coins to my dad. We went through each and every coin that summer, searching for one thing and one thing only: A 3 legged buffalo head nickle. Now, here’s the thing about the coin we were searching for: it was printed in 1937 D, the buffalo stamp had 3-legs, and it was valued between – $500.00-$1000.00
This peeked my eleven year old interest in many ways. I used that giant magnifying glass and helped search through every coin we had. I learned about history, and numismatics. However, more importantly I learned about my family’s history and the connection between what collecting and being a researcher meant to my dad and grandfather.

The list of hobbies that my dad helped support goes on and on. He built my sister and I a clubhouse, with his own hands. We had two sandboxes, a ladder going up the backside and a slide going down the front, it was built upon 4 stilts and looked like a giant cache. For my fellow Alaskans, we know that a cache is a small house built on stilts, that was used for drying salmon. 🙂 When the slide began to chip away he took that down and built a miniature staircase and two accompanying swing sets.

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When I decided that miniatures was my thing at age twelve he helped me put electricity into my doll house, running tape wire along the walls of all three levels and showing me the basics of conductors and insulators. When we finally got that dang thing to light up the dining room chandelier we jumped around that room and high fived each other.

I can’t forget the hours of driving to and from piano lessons, recitals, the few competitions I participated in, or the endless voice lessons he drove me to. We have shared, cried, and loved music together. You and Debbie were my first duet partners. I know that we could still play a mean rendition of, “Heart and Soul.” Although my favorite thing to hear you play and sing is, “Stranger in Paradise.” Thank you for introducing me to Edith Piaf and Johnny Cash, among just a few of the great legends you’ve loved and passed along.

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After thirty one years with a father who loved, supported, and encouraged me I have gathered many stories, collected many tears, and memories along the way. However, a few dad-isms are being passed on from me to my students each and every day. Here’s just a few to brighten your day below. Thanks for being my father Jim. I love you to the moon and back.  Love, Your Favorite Youngest Daughter

“Molehills are mountains if you want them to be…

Half of life is showing up kid, so show up.

You gotta learn how to fight your own battles at some point.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Hey sugar, pumpkin, kid!

90% of communication is non-verbal, so watch what you do, and also say…

Kill ‘em with kindness.

Always keep a sense of humor about yourself, laugh and joke it off…”

~Jim Hipsher…isms….~

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For my kindred spirit

Ours started out with ‘spagetti o-’s and a ream of notebook paper. However, this might seem rather strange to the unknowing stranger. So let me set the stage better, shall I?

In 1989 we were both shy, quiet, long brown haired little girls entering kindergarten. I remember you as the tiniest of all us tiny tot’s with a trail of flowing brown hair and a thermos container full of ‘spagetti-o’s. Your best friend was a boy whose name started with the letter D, I won’t involve other people in this birthday blog though. 🙂 Out of pure courtesy of course…

We knew one another because all kindergarteners play together, however we weren’t best friends then though. We were in different classes first through second grade. Then you moved to another school and the elementary years passed by. Cut to 1997 at Hanshew Middle School in Anchorage. The looming hallways, business of middle school days, and crowds of people. I remember seeing you with your violin case on the second floor of our school. Good gravy it’d been a while, but I’m sure we both looked very similar to our little kid faces of ’89. I recognized you and was delighted when we had study hall together.

We re-bonded through the passing of notes and requests for lined notebook paper. Who knew that we’d go through so much paper?!  I on the one hand, an early Mary Poppins had pretty much everything I could possibly need and or hold in my binder including excessive amounts of notebook paper.  I think one of the most memorable things about that class, aside from sneakily passing notes and reading silently was that study hall teacher’s sneezes and nose blowing. I had never heard a human being make a sound that likened to a trumpet. His ability could have rivaled even the best players in the band, with only a single nose blow. Haha, I chuckle even thinking about it.

Cut to 8th grade, we came up with a secret language, or code, shall we say; for talking about the most important topic for any eighth grade girl to discuss in private… boys. We had Mr. Blue Eyes, Horse guy, Bob, and Fred, I really can’t remember anymore off the top of my head right now, and I’ve already embarrassingly stated enough names as it is. I read through some of those hilarious letters about 7 years ago when I needed to empty out my closet at my folks. Let’s just say that I couldn’t remember how to re-fold many of those triangular shaped letters packed with juicy gossip and all the latest news.

The best summer moments I had with you were in-between June of 1998 and August of 1998. Driving to and from, “Music Machine,” practice with your friend A. on Lake Otis Parkway, your mom patiently carting us around. Those were fun times!  We were so cool. I mean, learning how to wear eye liner and mascara was pretty exciting if I do say so myself!  I can still see your fancy winged-out liquid liner and blue eye shadow. YOU were so cool. I really couldn’t compare with my Walmart maybelline pink shadow and mascara. 🙂 We got to be partners for, “Make ‘Em Laugh,” and, “Broadway Baby.”  Sharing the stage and the lime light with you was the best thing ever. Whatever happened to those shirts any way? Or the video tape of our show?! 🙂

Although, I think one of my favorite memories throughout our years of school together was probably when we shared a locker. I just need to re-paint a picture here of that gigantic locker at Robert Service High School. We were probably, maybe 5 feet, I might have been about 5 foot three at the time in ninth grade, who knows. Point being, we were small people. We could have both fit in this locker if we really had wanted to. I’d wait to meet you and chat first thing in the morning before classes began. Our locker was chock full of all sorts of interesting odds and ends. I still have the same mirror that I did in high school, it now lives on a cabinet in my classroom. It makes me smile and think about those moments we shared. Applying lipsmaker sparkly lip balm was serious business when we were fourteen going on fifteen, right? Or decorating for birthdays?! 🙂 But the best collection and items in the locker were your Sobe bottles. Can we just take a MOMENT please and talk about those damn bottles. Girrrrrrrrrrl I think the only time I have EVER yelled at you, was about those dang bottles. Bahahahhaa, one fell when I opened up the locker and that was it, I started throwing them out, caps and ALL. People must have thought we lost our minds when you saw me throwing them out, you started shoving them in your backpack. OH my, we’re still friends. We surpassed the episode and saga of the bottles. Ha!

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Here’s the thing, having written about all those flashbacks. You, my friend are one of those people who come once in a life time. You are a kindred spirit and a friend for life. Even if months pass by, we can always call one another and then a few hours pass by before we even realize how long we have been on the phone. I always love how we can see one another and it’s as if no time has passed by what-so-ever. We both march to our own drum beat. We’re not morning people, we like quiet and subtlety with words, we show kindness and we stand up for what we believe in. Our motto is and always will be: Alaska Girls Kick Ass. Well, that and, “Pudding is better than jello!” Snaps for anyone else that knows where that quote comes from! 🙂 We dance like no one is watching, and don’t give a damn if they are. We wear crazy toe socks and rival Shania Twain at singing in the car at the top of our lungs.

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I feel so lucky and grateful to have you in my life. You’re one of the best people I know. You go after what you want to in life and you always have. I’m so proud to call you my friend. I talk about you with my students. They think it’s amazing that I have a best friend who is a high flying skier, death-defying stunt actress, sister, graduate, auntie, creative woman and scientist rolled into one package.

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You’re the only other person who has a laugh equally as loud as mine, aside from my big sister. 🙂 We know each other inside and out. If you needed a kidney, I’d be right there to give you mine. When we’re really old, wrinkly, and moving around with glitter canes, we’re gonna live together with our five cats and yell at each other from down the hallway. Like they say in girl scouts, “A circle is round and has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend.”

I love you! Happy birthday beautiful! May this next year be filled with amazing opportunities, new adventures, and moments of beautiful silence in nature. Big hugs like this one below!!!!! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE!!!!!!

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Ten years, Day 29

When I was blessed to come into the world, ten years had already passed for my sister on this Earth. I remember her lovingly showing me her journal and reading aloud her memory of my birthday. She recalled moving into the house on Leeward Place in Anchorage’s suburbs. My folks had scraped, saved, rented, bought, sold, and finally were able to build their own home after years of working towards their goal. She had a tiny black and white pencil drawing of her sitting in the woods behind the house with a book in hand, of course, and smile across her face. She said she was so excited to have a baby sister to dote upon. I was wrapped in pink with a squinted up face and a giant head of jet black hair.

As the baby of the family I had it much easier in some respects. We are both very unique and different individuals from one another. I appreciate her but most of all I have always looked up to her. She was my first role model, friend, and mentor. I know that I have written about it before, but hey, why not let memories repeat themselves? This is something that we often do in our family, and who doesn’t?!

Today I had the opportunity to meet a long lost relative that we had never thought we would get connected with. Luckily with the benefits of modern day technology and the internet they found our folks and today we had a very special reunion.

While enjoying a celebratory lunch with our cousin my mom recalled some fun memories I had not yet shared. So I will take this moment to do so now. As well as a few that you Debbie have reminded me of which are hilarious as well. I wish you could have been there today, but as I told our cousin, we will have to visit the east coast, and she and her boys come back to Oregon. Who doesn’t love the great Pacific Northwest?! As Andy lovingly stated, “Once people come to Portland, they don’t leave.” 🙂

Enjoy…

~Some of the best moments as a tiny child of six and seven were when your best friend’s visited. Some enjoyed your annoying little sister’s presence more than others. Dear Michelle was ever so patient, loving, and silly with me. I absolutely loved a game we came up with which was, “SLIDE down the wooden floor hallway as fast as you can!” This game involved getting a running start on the carpeted area and skidding down said hallway past an antique mirror on the wall. I especially enjoyed skidding past and seeing my reflection whizz by. Another favorite was being roll-pushed down the hallway. Mom called it, “Bowling you down the hallway,” I just remember it being an absolute blast.

Chopsticks,” anyone? This was the first song I learned on the piano as well as, “heart and soul.”  I’m sure many musicians cringe when they hear either being played. I on the other hand, loved both, and find it highly amusing when kids bang out renditions of this on the piano. Both you and Michelle would patiently show me the notes and play ever so slowly so that I could get the unison and then duet correct. I felt like such a big kid swinging my feet on the piano bench next to you two. My other favorite memories were of you and Michelle playing duets, along with Sheli’s sister. Those were the days!

Another enjoyable thought came trickling back to you after a few blog reads ago. This involved the laundry chute. I think that mom and dad’s thinking on installing this were: 1. it would make getting the laundry from point a. to point b. much easier. 2. They never thought we would slide down said laundry chute. Just to be clear, I DID NOT, go down the laundry chute. I was too scared, however you did.  “WHOOOOOOOOOOP, down you went and poof into a pile of clothes. I think I almost peed my pants after that. I remember racing down the stairs to see if you were ok. Of course you were fine and laughing the whole time. That’s all I’m going to say about that!

With these flashbacks in time I see things so clearly in that house. The wall paper, the floor boards, the missing grout between tiles, our pastel blue and pink bedrooms walls, the smell of the wood and books in the library, and the sherbet colored carpet in the living and dining rooms, as well as those creaky basement stairs and the scary sump pump…

There is a line in a duet I am learning that says,”It’s hard to talk away the memories that you prize.” Now out of context this line lends itself perfectly to my point. No matter how many stories we tell, or how many recollections that we share, the moments of today and tomorrow are irreplaceable. These emotions and feelings that we are granted to behold are not fleeting, but yet they are indescribable.

No matter where you are or what you are up to, I’ll always love you and be here to support you. Life is about sharing it with people whom you hold dear. With all this being said, I’ll leave you with another family member’s thought.  Our dear cousin shared a pearl of wisdom today, (her mother bestowed this upon her and her sister most days when they fought):

“Friends may come and go. Husbands may come and go, but you will always have your sister. Remember that.”

I love you! Have a great day and second to last treatment, YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

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Collective memories Day 28

Today’s blog is a collection of memories that I hold like leaves pressed between the pages of a book. They are more beautiful with age, and yet as fragile as a leaf’s brittle edges after years of safe keeping until they flutter from a page onto this keyboard.
Here goes:
1. When I was about two or three years old I remember us standing, (you holding me), up against mom and dad’s bedroom window and I waved as they drove off for the evening. You set me down and I cried. Puddles of tears running down my little pink cheeks. “Rachel, you don’t need to shed big fat crocodile tears, they’ll be home in a few hours.” I think I was sad about them being gone, yes., but yet, I think I was more upset about not being included, haha. I hated being the little one who couldn’t do this or that because I was too young and too small. I felt left out. L.O.L., I know…hindsight is twenty-twenty as dad says!
2. When I was about four years old I discovered an active interest in science. I would pull earth worms up from underneath rocks in the garden, I collected them in mom’s old Tupperware containers.  I supplied them with grass and sandbox sand and I placed them in our clubhouse. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I would forget about them and rediscover them days later, poor earth worms.  Secondly along these scientific lines, I would concoct fascinating experiments in the bathroom. My beaker was a Dixie cup, my stirring rod a q-tip, and my variables: water, toothpaste, baby powder and sometimes your bathroom items hidden inside of drawers beneath the sink. I’d stir, stir, and stir some more, and I’d wait to see how much powder I could get to slip below the surface, aha! Suddenly you would knock or rather, pound on the door, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE RACHEL? DID YOU FALL IN THE TOILET?!” Maybe that’s why the toilet would get clogged suddenly. Sorry dad….
3. We shared the coolest club house around. I must say. It was pretty fabulous! Inside it was decorated with my scribbles and later my love declarations with my first boy friend, awww young love….I think one of my favorite finds as a youngster in that clubhouse were the giant carpenter pencils we used to scribble on the walls. I hope that whoever bought the house from mom and dad in 1999 had children. I hope they enjoyed and or still enjoy that magical, imaginative, and fun play house dad built. Who knew that we’d be all grown up and still love that house, even more so now!
4. Three words: BOARDS ON DOORS
I’ll never forget when I was about eight and I tried to put the board on the front french double doors. I luckily balanced it correctly and did not take out the chandelier dangling from the tall ceilings height above said door. “Phew,” but let’s just say, I may or may not have accidentally dropped it through those two posts or pegs a time or two. The first time I tried to explain to a friend what it was, it was just too complicated for me to express. Upon further reflection now, I get it, I totally understand the boards on the doors. As a young kid, it seemed like, oh, ok that’s what we do, doesn’t your family board their doors? Haha. Well…you know, mom was ahead of her time. Early alarm system, talk about built-in security!
5. Mouse.
One word, super short, five letters, one syllable, and yet, it can summon up some of the most unprecedented responses from a human being. I shall never forget the shriek of fear echoing through the garage, into the house, and down the hallway. Remember how we kept the dog food in giant garbage can bins in the garage? Yeah…well…you encountered what was probably a shrew. I later met the same fowl in the garage area, only I found it’s number two sprinkled about in the vita bone cookie box and amongst the shelving around that area. I gotta say, “I’m not into mice.” Our poor neighbor Grandin had the privilege of removing said mouse once it became trapped on a sticky live trap. Dad was out-of-town, mom and I tried to be really responsible and take care of it with rubber gloves. Try as we might, we could not get past the rubber gloves and squealing sounds as we took steps closer toward it. I screeched, cried and laughed, and mom did as well. It was a mess to say the least, and dear Grandin swooped in with a laugh and a dust pan. What would we ever have done without him?
6. Now I know you say that you are not a runner. But hear this and you might retract your previous statement… 🙂
I believe I was age seven, you a young seventeen. I was playing on mom and dad’s bed with, “My Little Ponies.” I would make them gallop across the desert, i.e. carpeted area, and up the mountains, i.e. long hanging curtains that blocked out both the Anchorage frosty winter and kept in the heat. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of hair, jeans, and a long skid across the cul-de-sac. Yep, that blur was you my dear sister. I’ve never seen someone run as fast on ice as I saw that day. You ran so fast between the houses, up our street, across the circle, and into our driveway. I’m pretty sure that was probably one of the best cardio moments of your life. Why all this running other people are wondering?  I know you must be recalling at this present moment Debbie, the one word I have: moose.
Ok, now people, you need to understand that moose are not sweet, they are not friendly, and they are not our friends. They are wild animals that roam down from the mountains in search of food and unfortunately, they bed down in yards especially yards without fences. HOWEVER, they do occasionally cross over fences too, but that’s another story, never mind, anyway…. (Into the Woods reference…:) ) Needless to say, a gigantic bull moose was in the backyard of Mrs. Bell, our piano teacher’s yard. It stood up, you saw it above the snow bank, you fled, the rest is history. Thank heavens it had the sense enough to just ignore the small teenager that approached it. We had too many close calls with these mammals. There are countless stories we could share at a later date, right Debbie?!
Have a wonderful day! Enjoy the moose-less streets of H.K. but watch out for those mini-busses and fancy cars, crazy drivers in the land of H.K. roam quite free. I love you! xoxo.
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Pretty tulips for you! It’s beginning to feel like spring time! 😉

Yellow Herbie Day 15

There are ten years between my sister and I.  I was always keenly aware of this age difference for the first eighteen years of my life, as I’m sure my sister was as well. Although, to be the little sister is quite different than the elder. For one thing, I was given the opportunity to have a mentor and role model, where she, was given a sweet little shadow that wanted to emulate her every move. 🙂 Adorable at times, but annoyingly awkward and over involved at others.

One such occasion was the summer mom went to Israel. She was graduated and working an office job for the summer and taking care of me in the morning and evenings. I remember being dropped off at summer camp at my elementary school.  She’d pick me up at the play ground and I’d run to you and think, “That’s MY sister.” Oh I loved it so much. I felt super cool that my big sis would come get me and drive me home. Teeheee…you never knew eh Debbie?!

Then entered the boy crush for that month. He had a pony tail, and a yellow herbie or volkswagen. I think he also had a pierced ear, what a babe and a rebel right?!

All I remember of him, was the one evening you were helping me wash my hair out and you were on the phone with him.

Man I love thinking about that gray, plastic, cordness/portable telephone. I yelled for you from the bathroom and you popped your head in. “Aren’t you going to help me wash my hair out?” I called.

I could hear his voice come through the phone as you sat down to help me with my long tendrils. “How OLD is your sister, she can’t wash her own hair, woah…” The conversation commenced and you continued to help me. I was covering my eyes with a wash cloth as you poured water over my head. “You know Rachel, you could learn how to rinse out your own hair…” and that was the moment that I knew I was growing up.

As silly as it sounds, it was true though.

She always gave me good advice, she taught me how to do countless things, but in that one silly hair washing moment, I felt a shift, a change, and that sense that, “Huh…I’m not three years old any more.”

Thanks for pushing me to take a baby step forward, and for also helping me with my long knotty hair that summer. I love you! And as for the boy, he wasn’t so great after all. But the yellow herbie car was cool. 😉

xoxo. Have a sparkly fantastic Friday!!

ari and i flowers