Wednesday, September 28, 2011

George Vaillant Corrects My Memories

Lovers WalkImage by ~~Tone~~ via Flickr I enjoy remembering my mother and father and the other members of my extended family.  I have stories I want to write about them.  I do have a problem though.  The stories seem to get better as I age.  Reading George Vaillant's book has given me a reason why and alerted me to a truth I didn't want to believe. 

We tend to reinvent out lives and memories to make them easier to accept and live with.  The studies Vaillant based his research on prove that.  The studies that took data at the time of the event may reveal a very painful and deprived childhood, but when the subject is interviewed at 50 or 60, he may tell of a loving and supportive family.  The subject is not lying or even confabulating; he has made the story tolerable.  He may pick details that conform to his view of his life. 

So it is with me.  I remember many events with a sort of a lovely, misty haze and the aroma of spring flowers or autumn leaves burning.  I associate great romance with my parents, partly because of the difference in their ages.  When I was old enough to understand that fifteen years is a considerable time, I thought both of them made a sacrifice for the sake of love.  When she died at 38, I was confronted with the tradgedy. 

Now I have shaped my memories to bless my life in ways I could not have anticipated when they were happening.  My mother was a pretty strict disciplinarian, but I remember her loving me without
cause or excuse.  I was not precocious, smart, or beautiful, but she thought I was.  My father was far more wise and wonderful that I thought at the time.  He was a romantic and clever with words, but I was too dense to know it.  Now I remember.

I don't really care whether my memories are accurate.  I care that they bless me.  I won't analyze them or find fault with them, even though sometimes they aren't pleasant.  Sadness deserves to be rememered to, and hard times, and bitter words, and spankings.  Even with these realities, the misty haze is still hanging in the air and my childhood is still charmed.
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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Even Ceres Needed Rain

agriculture • atopImage by origamidon via Flickr My Latin name is now my official nickname, at least to all my blogging buddies.  I must take this seriously.  Ceres was the goddess of agriculture in Ancient Rome who blessed the grain harvest.  I think perhaps in Rome the grain was harvested in the spring.  Maybe it was planted in the spring. Her day is April 19, but since I am facing autumn, I am using Ceres to symbolize the gathering of crops and my reflections of harvest and all things autumnal.

There are a multitude of holidays to consider and plan for.  Cooler weather is re-energizing me, and all the people around me are engaged in various activities.  I walked to church this morning feeling the cooler breeze and noting the shorter days.  There is so much to enjoy and anticipate in autumn.  But this autumn is different. 

The summer was so hot and dry many trees are dead or in shock.  They have lost their leaves without any autumn splash.  Pastures are empty because farmers could not feed stock and sold them instead.  No rolls of hay grace the meadows because no rain fell.  Creeks and rivers are slow flowing and muddy with dry banks and desolate islands.  Lakes have dried up and fishermen can't get a boat in the water at the dock.

I look for autumn rains.  I pray for autumn rains.  I think of the beauty of Robert Frost's "dark days of autumn rain" with nostalgia.  Even people who do not love a rainy day would welcome one now.  The cold splatter on the pavement, the dreary sky, the hunched and hurrying shoppers are sights I value and yearn to see again.

I miss the rain.  I know I am a nicer person when it rains.  I have confidence it will rain again.  I hope it is soon.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keres or Ceres?

Do you know why you see Keres on my blog URL?  Well, it's a long story.  About four years ago I began my Latin career with a class at the university, and one of the requirements was that each student had to adopt a Latin name.  I couldn't come up with anything I liked so I just took the first one I could remember-Claudia.  In my fourth semester, I decided to change my name to Keres or Ceres. 

Ceres was the goddess of grain.  I make bread, so I thought this was appropriate.  The professor said that I could spell it either way because in Latin the K and the C are pronounced the same. 

Well... now I find that Keres does indeed refer to mythical beings, but spelled with a K, they are goddesses or spirits or violent death in Greek mythology.  In Latin and spelled with a C, Ceres is the benevolent goddess of harvest.  Since I would like to be associated with benevolent behavior, I have tried to change the names associated with my various blogs.  Please forgive me if I have made a mess of it.

My mother had studied mythology, and she often told me stories that included these myths.  I certainly don't worship at their shrines, but I do believe we must understand the myths and meanings that names and places carry.  Now that I have sorted out some of these meanings, I want to enjoy them.  Ceres with a C, and her name is the basis for cereal--good and wholesome--and we celebrate bread!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blogging --What Can I Say?

Painting The Writing Master by Thomas EakinsImage via Wikipedia Blogging is just too much fun!  I have a new blog.  Everybody is welcome to come over and check it out.  the title is Keres Tells a Story at .  This is not actually a new story.  I wrote it some time a ago.  It is a little nostalgic--no drug wars, just one bootlegger.

I hope I can discharge this writing demon by using these blogs.  Writing is like a necessity of life for some of us.  We want to record everything and make it all understandable to other people, to find the germ of an idea in the words or the feelings.  We do it in different and unique ways, but we idenify with each other--we have the antennae out searching for others who have a story or an idea.  Some people are readers who connect with writers, but some are writers who reflect it with another story--like sunlight bouncing off mirrors.

If you read my blogs, you may be assured that I appreciate it.  If you hear my stories I hope they touch you, or thrill you, or sadden you.  I hope you are moved or enlightened or challenged.  And if you, too, are a writer, I hope the feelings, and thoughts, and meanings reflect everywhere.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Creativity for Old Folks

I finished reading The Mature Mind by Gene Cohen, and it offers great encouragment to the maturing individual.  I was very excited that older people have great abilities they have yet to tap.  By older, I mean fifty and above.  At least that's what Cohen meant.  People who are sixty five have reached a new stage in development.  Even at eighty the brain and the thinking ability are still sharp and active. 

One problem with our society seems to be a mistaken view of old age.  In our concern for people who suffer with disease or dementia, we have assumed that all of us are destined for the mental wastebasket.  Get over that idea.  There are many people in your circle of acquaintances that are old but still mentally alert.  They will benefit from activities that are challenging and exciting.

Include your older family members in games, discussions, and activities that give them stimulation.  They will benefit from it and you will learn from them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Why I Wake Up Every Day authored by Unikorna.  She has been kind and gracious to me, and now she had presented me with an award.  It is the Liebster Award which is intended to spread bloggerly love.
I have linked to Unikorna's blog and now I get to pass on the love to others who inspire me or whose work I enjoy.  The award is meant for blogs with less than 200 followers.  I am struggling here because I don't follow many blogs--maybe that's my problem.  I don't subscribe to the idea that if I follow them they'll be obligated to follow me.  I drop in and sample things I don't follow, but to follow somebody means something more than just putting their names on a list.  Recommending a blog for an award is more meaningful to me than just adding them to a list.

Crazy Creative Magazine authored by Hannah is good.  It is always funny and it always has heart.  I nominate this blog for a Liebster Award.

Aprons in the Kitchen written by Becky is nominated for the Liebster Award.  This one is just because I love her.  She is my daughter.  It thrills me when one of my children shows talent, especially in an area that I love.  Besides being my daughter, she is a very good writer.

 Laugh With Us Blog is the product of the busy mind and life of Esther.  She shares her family stories and joy.  She is my third nominee.

When you receive a Liebster Award you are supposed to nominate 3-5 other people to enjoy this honor.  Link back to the one who nominated you then to your nominees.  I doubt that this will make you instantly famous, but like everybody says, "It's an honor just to be nominated."  If you read my blog, check out these people and see what I like about them.
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Carol is My Fifth Child

Carol is my fifth child.  When she was little, her Care Bear was Grumpy and she identified with Eeyore.  It became a joke.  Carol always saw the gloomy side.

She married John who was quite caustic.  Maybe her gloom protected her from his acidic personality.  When she was 23, she was diagnosed with RA.  Her baby was three months old.  John died seven months ago.  Now she is 45, totally disabled, and lives with me.  You would think that Grumpy Bear and Eeyore would define her personality.  At least they seem to fit the situation.

Now let's view her through a different lens.  When her pain is intense, she wants medication and alone time.  She doesn't complain or gripe.  She likes to have the Golden Girls or I Love Lucy on TV--nothing too loud but always funny. 

For more active viewing, she likes game shows and food shows.  Jeopardy is her favorite.   She is a good player.  She is very quick on responses and knowledgeable about questions.  She claims she doesn't like school, but she knows a lot of facts about history, biology, and current events, and she is very analytical.  Basketball and Tennis are her favorite sports.  She is knowledgeable about the players and coaches.  She was thrilled when the Mavericks won the NBA title.  She was upset when she slept through one of Roger Federer's games.
She also likes more demanding plots like stories of intrigue and mysteries with red herrings, and of course, a good love story.  Since her activities are severely restricted, TV occupies the majority of her day.   She will engage in a lively discussion of foolish behavior of celebrities, and she has little patience with the commentators who exploit them.

Difficulties with sitting on pews restricts her involvement in church activities. When she goes to church, she likes a preacher who deals with the Bible passage and gets serious about why we came. Even though it may be painful, she does not enjoy the light and easy kind of worship.

Over the years many caretakers have commented on her resilient spirit and attitude.  She is always ready to try a new course of treatment even though none of them has provided much relief.  Don't let anyone tell you that artificial joints don't hurt--Carol will argue!  Phantom limb pain is real pain even though the limb isn't there.  She is able to joke about these things.  

In a strange and paradoxical way her limitations and scars, rather than limiting her growth as a person, have revealed the spirit within as generous and joyous.  I am constantly supported by her infectous optimism--optimism that knows that pain is real, bad things happen, and we go on anyway.  God has blessed me to allow me to carry some of her burden.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Don't Believe What You Have Heard About Old Dogs

Cover of "The Mature Mind: The Positive P...Cover via Amazon
I'm reading Gene D. Cohen's book THE MATURE MIND, and it is wonderfully illuminating.  Cohen was a psychiatrist and a gerontologist, and he says things in the book that are truly amazing.  He says that as we reach more advanced ages, there are some changes in the brain that complement the aging process.  Previously I thought that when you got past eighteen your brain might learn new material, but it was finished developing.  From nineteen it was in a state of decline in the number of neurons.

Cohen says that there is research that shows that new neurons are still being created.  Fantastic!  The neurons don't take the place of those we have lost.  They do not restore memories or reclaim lost skills:  They are new neurons.  They have to be programmed with new information.  You can and should teach an old dog new tricks.

Cohen also points out a shift in brain processing indicated by scans of the amygdala that reveal a shift in how memory works in the older brain.  In the younger brain the left side of amygdala is more prominent on the scan, but in the older brain both sides are equally active.  This seems to indicate that memory is a more sensual experience for older person including spatial and logical components as well as narrative and visual ones.

Getting old is something that we all look forward to.  Let's anticipate it with joy and hope, rather than dread and fear.  What will these new brain cells and the new functions allow you to do?
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