Friday, August 20, 2010

Moments of Bliss

(Roasted ducks hanging to dry in the street markets of Taichung)

“And then the children saw that the house was made out of gingerbread, and the roof was made of cake, and the windows of clear sugar candy.
“Let’s eat!” cried Hansel, who reached up and broke off a piece of the roof while Gretel chewed on a wall.
Suddenly, they heard a thin screechy voice call out from inside the house.
“Nibble, nibble, like a mouse,
Who is nibbling at my house?”
The children answered.
“It’s only the air heaving a sigh.
It’s only the wind passing by.”


Sitting with my daughters at night. They are tucked beneath covers looking up at me with wide saucer-sized eyes. We finish Aesop, pause briefly at Midsummer Night for a speech by Puck, and giggle as Jesus pulls doubting Peter from the sinking sea. Before that, I turn off the nightlamp and light a candle... it's time for the Brother's Grim.
Storytime with my daughters is the best moment of my day. Here are some other moments of bliss that gave me inspiration this week.
(East meets West with these two traditional artists perform in the People's Park next to my apartment)

This afternoon I was caught in a rain shower while on an afternoon walk away from school. By some sheer coincidence of birth, I’m an Oregonian which precludes me from carrying an umbrella. So I draped a soggy shredded newspaper over my head as I stumbled toward the eaves of a large office building where upon I met a man who had a similar aversion. While the two of us hapless souls were standing there shaking off the well pellets, a third man passed by very slowly. He wore a bamboo hat which dripped around the rim with a steady stream and at his side was a donkey pulling a cart of melons.
(Construction is heavy in this city where they are hoping for Chinese immigrants to come fill up all the empty apartments... it's not happening and many are laying waiting)

Another teacher quit last week, ceremoniously throwing up his arms and giving up his educator’s ghost. He walked into our manager’s office and let out a tirade barrage of flying, zinging barbs like a howitzer then returned oddly to his desk, shoveled all his personals into a copy paper box, and stormed out the door.
When asked, Jermaine said, “All I did was ask if he wanted a cup of coffee.”
(Outside Xi'an's first grade classroom during summer camp)

Xi’an’s first grade teacher already dislikes me immensely and the school year hasn’t even started. It’s summer camp and she has stated through back channels that she finds my presence at lunch, hunckered-down on stools with my daughter in the cafeteria at the low kid table picking through spinach and radishes with a metal chopstick, to be annoying.
She tells Xi’an she looks like a little baby with her daddy hovering around, but I know my English just makes her nervous. It’s going to be an interesting year.
Laid in the grass this afternoon and watched the clouds roll by while listening to Dizzy Gillespie's "All the Things You Are." I am beside myself with joy.
An excerpt from a letter my sister sent to me:

So far, no more dead goats, but we have lost a few chickens. We are selling three roosters at the Clackamas county fair. We will take them down Monday night… My garden is a disaster. All I seem to be able to grow is weeds… Jeff wants to plow the whole thing under, but I want to see if we get some potatoes. The sunflowers are doing good too. Jeff is going to butcher the turkeys later this month… We will butcher two but keep two as pets…

Lisa, I adore you.
(Restaurants are open on the street here in the city. It's a nice place to sit and stretch your legs for a spell)

Finally, today I saw two men trying to carry a mattress up an outside flight of stairs in a tall building when a gust of wind stormed up and blew the queen sized cushion from their hands. It sailed out into the sky then plummeted twelve stories to the ground. The men just stood over the railing watching it cut through the sky in disbelief like a magic carpet before crashing in a thud of dust and relief on a rooftop below. Really, when does anyone ever see a flying bed?

(Spending some cool bonding time between father and son in the People's Park)

This week I began planning the year. It's strange to sit in one spot and prepare for almost every minute of classtime until June 30, 2011, but I have done it. Songs, poems, stories, notes, pictures, lectures, games, tests, projects, activities, and surprises... the key is that I have to enjoy it too. If I am not re-creating it each year from scratch then I don't invest. I love what I do, and I love my life. Be well everyone. I miss you all so much.

B.

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