Saturday, February 23, 2008

Little House Life Story #13

Living on a remote island in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean requires depending on your resourcefulness almost all the time. The stores in Micronesia were very similar to the old-fashioned one-stop store in "Little House on the Prairie." You could buy almost everything in one of these stores, but there wasn't much of anything at any one time.

There were a few canned goods, a few types of hardware, a little fresh produce. One had to be very resourceful to identify what was useful. You could never predict what you might find in the store. But, interestingly enough, due to the proximity to Asia and India there were bolts and bolts of summer fabric: fabric of all types, colors and weaves. Fabric did not spoil or damage easily on the long boat ride to Guam and the trans-shipment to Palau. There was always a selection of colorful bolts to peruse. If you could sew, you could fill your days with making things.

In one of my recent blogs I mentioned how I made
clothes for my baby girl out of fabric scraps. Well I pretty much had to sew everything I wanted out of these tropical patterns. The photo above shows a cover that I made for my bamboo furniture in our little apartment when the original fabric wore out. I am sure that I found this quite the interior design solution.

If you keep reading, you will notice that the fabrics in the photo below are the same as the one on my baby girls outfit. This is a photo of the bedroom. Yes, the bedroom! I must have loved the pattern. I am sure that I thought it was very stylish and a wonderful example of creative interior decorating.

I must have had absolutely no taste after years of living on a remote tropical island. Geeese!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Three Day Weekend

Hubby is in Korea for a month or so and I am alone (except for noisy and nice contractors finishing the basement) at the house on the weekends. It is VERY odd being able to do anything I want, eat anything I want, watch anything I want for days...a VERY odd feeling.

During this wonderful respite I decided that it was time for another "Lifestory" blog. I was going through old slides and albums for ideas and then came across this photo of my husband and some islanders during one of his many island hopping jaunts when we lived in Micronesia.

I had to scan and post this because the picture tells a story or two if you look closely---no, my hubby is not gay---he is the most unselfconscious, unpretentious person I know and is totally relaxed with his body. Instead, look at the two island boys and imagine what they are thinking and saying. I am sure they had never seen reef shoes. Then look at how the other islander is dressed and also his body language. A thousand words in this photo, right?

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Ongoing Education

Once again Tabor is getting an education in life. I guess it means we are still alive if we can still learn.

I have recently (re) learned the following:

1) When you receive a call from one of those little people that starts with "I go poo poo in potty." you still react with the same manic enthusiasm you did when you had little tykes of your own. Obsession with pee pee and poo poo goes on and on from generation to generation.

Potty training means a child may wake up in the middle of the night several times screaming that he needs to go to the potty.

3) Watching a child bounce off the walls due to too much Valentine's Day chocolate and candy is almost as frightening as a Stephen King movie scene.

The reason they are called the Terrible Twos is because the child can be really, really, really terrible---behavior that one expects in an insane asylum comes to mind.

5) It is definitely time for mom to feed the toothless one when the toothless one starts grabbing food off of my plate and then commences screaming when I pull the plate away and lick her hands that are full of my mashed sweet potatoes.

6) At day care little girls are little girls---hugging and hanging on to X-man and little boys are little boys--- running around the room casting glances as they try to impress the visiting grandma.

7) Being around small children brings to mind the same question I ask about Presidential candidates...Why would anyone in their right mind volunteer for this!

8) The answer to #7 is that you are in love with the idea, the process and the result.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Happiness is Overrated

The February 11 issue of Newsweek has an article titled "Happiness: Enough Already." The gist of the article is that melancholia "generates 'a turbulence of heart that results in an active questioning of the status quo, a perpetual longing to create new ways of being and seeing." And the authors conclude that this is a good thing. In other words if you are perpetually happy you no longer long for anything and become constipated, boring, and coasting through life. Some of the article is based on a new book coming out - "Rethinking Happiness" by a father and son team --the Dieners.

Since I have not read the book, I cannot comment on it. But I do tend to agree with the Newsweek article on the popularity in our society of medicating anyone who finds themselves depressed. The clinical definition of depression is too easy to fit most of us at many times in our lives. Medicating this feeling away seems to me a false approach to growth and understanding. Yes, there are people who become suicidal and therefore need medical intervention. But too many of us in our wealthy and self-stimulated society are taking pills to avoid normal pain, to pretend that feeling depressed is not natural.

Pain/depression is a lesson. It tells us something is wrong. It tells us we must step back and move in a new direction. It reminds us that we cannot make it alone in this world and we should turn to those who love us for help. It tells us we are alive and when we begin that time of happiness (and it will come) -- great or small -- we will only fully appreciate it if we can contrast it with the sadness. We can also be more emphathetic and understanding of others' sadness when we take time to go through our own periods of the blues.

The cliche that great art results from great sadness seems to be true. Therefore, will our society not produce any great works of art because we are counting out pills from a bottle with each hiccup in our life's path?

I also think that if our society accepted mild depression or sadness as a temporary transition rather than a permanent setback, we would have fewer suicides. If we accepted that folks are going to be gloomy for a little longer than we like, than we would be more tolerant of their struggles. We need a little patience in this solve-it-in-24-hours-so-we-can-get-on-with-our-lives. We need to hold their hands and see if they can turn it around. We need to remind them of the good times or share our good times. We need to be patient. It is a fine line, but if we follow our instincts we will know the difference.

As Lucy would say, that will be 5 cents please.

Friday, February 08, 2008


This special doll belonged to me at one time long ago. I could not leave the room without her crawling speedily behind me almost causing an accident if I stepped back too quickly. Her little green and navy sundress is one of many that I made from scraps of materials I had. Almost all of her clothes were homemade because we lived on an island that had no clothing stores. Most of the native children ran around naked she was the most overdressed. Thirty-some years later, HER little girl, on the other hand, has literally three or four very large plastic containers filled with hand-me-downs in pristine condition in all sizes that will last for years to come.