Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy happy

In South Africa we would hear whistling and drunken shouts of "happy happy" wafting into our homes from the streets on the last day of the year and the very first day of the new year. So I add my very own shouts and whistles, 'happy,happy,'to each and every one of you, my loyal followers and faithful friends. Here's hoping that 2011 will be a year of health and peace, inner, if not outer.

The last week of 2010 has been one of connecting with friends and enjoying all that this breathtakingly beautiful area has to offer.Yesterday a friend and I went to San Francisco via the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a cold clear winter's day - everything has been washed sparkling by the rains and green abounds. We hiked along Land's End and Ocean Beach. Every time I am in the midst of this beauty and can see Mount Tamalpais, Mount Diablo, the Farallon Islands and see the waves breaking on Baker's Beach I am filled with joy and gratitude that I live in this place. It is with this feeling of gratitude an abundance that I bid farewell to 2010.

Love to you all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I wrote an article about the India trip which has been published in Namarupa Magazine, and I am trying to copy the article on to my blog but I don't know how. Here is a link and I hope it works. Please let me know. There are some amazing photos taken by my brother, so good luck.

PS as you may see, nothing! Because it is not working. I will ask for help, but will also add this to the writing section in my website, so those who want can access it,eventually. Oh, the woes of the technologically challenged.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Post Thanksgiving

A strange title, "post Thanksgiving." Of course I should constantly be giving thanks, and in fact, I do. What I mean by 'Post Thanksgiving" is for the benefit of my many loyal and faithful followers who live in far away countries that do not celebrate Thanksgiving. This is my favorite American holiday, as it is (or was) mostly non commercial. and is centered around family, friends, and food. What could be better? Also, I enjoyed five days off work. Today is a new week and the end of the Thanksgiving holiday - hence post Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, a cold and rainless Sunday, a friend and I met for a walk around the Berkeley Marina. We both love this time of the year when, on clear and crisp days the views of San Francisco and the Marin Headlands are clearly delineated. It is the time of the year the burrowing owls come to rest. I love to find them in the scrub after I stop mistaking the squirrels for owls.On our way back to our cars we saw quite a large grous of what appeared to be teenagers and very young adults dressed in medieval looking costumes jousting with foam swords. I remembered how when I first came to America and lived in Oakland, I saw a group of people every Thursday night at Rockridge Bart Station. They were dressed in armor (real) had swords not covered in foam, addressed each other as Sir Galahad, or Lady so and so, and judging by the clanging sound of their weapons, appeared to be really jousting. They belong to A Society of Anachronists. This group looked similar, although their clothes were far more makeshift, and their helmets and shields were made from cardboard. They spoke normally. The foam on their weapons didn't exactly clang.This group was having fun, playing outdoors in nature.

After watching a while we moved on and saw two young women in costume sitting on rocks. We asked what this group is and they told us, AMTGARD and explained it is worldwide, and they do have rules etc. As everyone looked so very young I asked whether older people could join, and the one said: "Of course, my husband is there playing, he is 39."

Everything is relative!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veterans Day

Yesterday morning I drove to my eye doctor (not good news), and listened to the radio. There was a report on the film HBO will air for Veterans Day on PTSD. (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.) Of course this phenomena is not new. A woman they interviewed had researched letters written by soldiers during America's Civil War. She then reviewed court cases in which families tried to get compensation when their breadwinner returned "changed." Apparently this was a very difficult thing to prove and there were many court cases. Someone read harrowing letters written by a soldier in the Civil War. In the first few he described how he saw some men in his camp suffer terribly - they could not sleep at night, some stopped eating, they became paranoid and had outbursts of anger. He described how some of them took their own lives. He himself wrote that war is awful, but he will not succumb to the taking of his own life.

After a few years the tone of his letters changed and it was evident to his family that he had 'succumbed' to the numbing horrors. After he returned home his sister wrote how she and her mother had to hold him down when he had fits and rages. He was no longer able to work.Apparently he went on a hunting expedition with friends from his platoon. They were aware he was a danger to himself and forbade him to accompany them. It was while he was alone in the woods that he shot himself.

A mother of a soldier from Minnesota who served in Iraq, read her son's tragic and horrifying suicide note. He drank as he wrote the note. He stated this and apparently the writing and content became progressively worse. He described how he could not stand seeing people die and that he had killed people. Now he said was the time to take his own life. After cutting out images of his face from his driver's and personal photographs because he could no longer 'face' himself he put his dog tag to his temple and shot himself through his temple.

When I first came to America 30 years ago a therapist told me I had PTSD. I laughed at him. It has taken me all these years to realise the horrors of the war that I went through in Israel in which my husband was killed. Those events shaped my future and changed my life and my relationships forever. But even now I have many moments when I think, what is wrong with me? I must be crazy, will I never get over this? It wasn't so bad. What happened to us wasn't so bad. Many wars are far far worse.

I caught snippets of another radio show yesterday in which they interviewed a young widow from Kosovo who told how she goes to the cemetery all the time because she cannot and will not, and does not ever want to forget.A young American woman described how she met her husband at the tender age of 16. It was love at first sight, and after dating for several years he proposed to her and gave her a beautiful ring. She herself went to find the perfect ring for him. She had it engraved with the date he proposed to her on the inside. He was killed in Iraq and apparently his personal affects were returned to her, but not his ring. Later one of his commanders and his wife invited her for the weekend and when she walked into the guest room she saw a box, and inside was the ring which the commander had found. She sobbed with happiness and sadness and said at least she has the memories of their perfect love.

Then a young man from Korea described being separated from his family and reuniting with his sister years later. Thankfully, I had to go to a meeting, because I was riveted to these stories, and at the same time sobbing my heart out.

War is universal. Coincidentally last night a friend from my kibbutz called me. Her brother was killed in the first Lebanese war in Israel. We both know of what the other speaks, and thinks, but we keep quiet, maybe mention it in passing, then talk of other things.

When I was last in Israel the Gaza invasion happened. A friend there said to me that it seems like every time I come there there is a war, or an uprising, or something. I noticed how, in Israel, when talking to friends our memories are indeed of wars - the debate becomes, which war, the first Lebanese War or the second? The first war of attrition or the third? The first or second Intifada? Wars are compared, the Gulf War was strange because we remained in our homes like sitting ducks, the men weren't used to this, they were used to going out to fight. Life in Israel is indeed punctuated by different wars or horrendous events, like suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. The entire nation suffers from PTSD.

At last this problem is beginning to be addressed, because we are all veterans, and all suffer the consequences of the ongoing wars, be they distant, in foreign lands, or on our own soil.There are the visibly wounded and the invisibly wounded, and there are way too many of us.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Settling In

A month already since my return, and all I have posted is one solitary little blog.Yesterday a supposed friend told me about someone he knows who blogs on a daily basis about her dog!

It may be sour grapes, but I wonder who is interested. He also added that she is newly retired! I am not.

I could keep you updated with the adventures of Max, my little piscean friend, but he would prefer to remain, for the most part anonymous. He thrived during my absence and when I returned and stumbled into my home after being sick for the entire flight back, I halfheartedly tapped on his bowl to say hi, and he fluttered and undulated and really seemed as excited to see me as I was to see him. Quite a few things thrived in my absence, Max seems to remain well and content, and an orchid I rescued from a dumpster has sprouted a branch full of buds which are in the process of opening, one after the other, displaying their magnificence. Some of my wee ones displayed new skills when I returned into their lives. Some began crawling, a few are trying out their first stumbly steps, Some, sadly, will never make any gains, other than phsyical, getting larger and heavier.

I spent a weekend in a magical home in Big Sur, enjoying the rugged beauty of the Pacific coastline, and the coastal terrain.We do live in a magnificent area, and I appreciate each moment.

Today I caught up with all the annoying and necessary things of life, like paying bills, finalizing dates and arrangements, making phone calls, laying out my crafting projects, like beadwork and knitting, and blogging about blogging.We shall see how long this spurt lasts.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mind Shred

This morning, very very early, I went to the gym. People greeted me saying they haven't seen me in a while, where have I been?

Where indeed? I have been away just three weeks, but it feels like eons. I have spent lifetimes in very different spaces, I have been lifted up and twirled around, I have spun in galaxies hitherto unknown, and now I am back, on the stairmaster!

Before I left I told friends that my memories of my last trip to India are such that once there you have to let go of any preconceptions, of any frames of reference, you have to dive in. Indeed, that part of my memory was correct, but what I forgot is that it is easy to talk about, and hard to do. But if you don't India will take your conscious mind and shred it for you. I won't even attempt to describe the overwhelming sensory experiences that ceaselessly surround and bombard one. Somehow the relentless intensity, buzzing vitality, devotion, filth, poverty, misery, beauty, all combine to form an archetypal experience. One is immersed into the bloodstream of life, jostling along with the corpuscles, platelets, lymph cells, all moving, renewing, dying, changing, flowing, on and on. And strange and wondrous things happen.

An almost cataclysmic flooding of the Ganga, replete with landslides prevented us from reaching our stated goal - Badrinath. We had to remain in a tiny place where people normally go for rafting. Into this unexpected hamlet stranded pilgrims poured in. Sadhus, Sikhs, travelers, mendicants, families. When it became clear we couldn't go further I commented to my brother, who was leading our group, that the one regret I had was that we would not hear Parvathy Baul, who had been invited to sing at a birthday event in Badrinath. That very afternoon Parvathy, her husband Ravi, and her friend Rita joined the stranded throngs. She sang for us that night, and the next. Her songs of devotion, accompanied by her stamping, jumping feet, a stringed instrument, and a drum, and her swirling, writhing dreadlocks pierced open my heart.

Before I left for India I received an e-mail from a childhood friend who lives in London. She and her husband were coming to California, and they wanted to know whether they could see me. I told her I would be in Northern India and she replied that her son and daughter-in-law are in India and she sent me the names of the places they were in, but they weren't where I was going. Our tour landed, by default, in Rishikesh and on a Friday night I went to eat in the Succa at Beit Habad. At least a hundred people were there, amongst them, my friend's son and his lovely wife!

Such are the wonders and workings of India.

And now, I am back.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Last night I was happily ensconsed in the most recent episode of Mad Men, I believe it is called "The Suitcase." Peggy and Don were in a really interesting argument after Peggy told him she was single again. All of a sudden - flash, boom. All the electricity went out. I peekedd out the venetian blinds, darkness everywhere in my little enclave. I fumbled for a flashlight which I keep in a handy place for such emergencies, but I couldn't remember exactly where it was. After a while I located it, cranked it up and saw flashlights going on outside as neighbours poked their heads out their doors. Well, for sure, there was no electricity. No more Mad Men for tonight. Ugh. My supply of matches had dwindled to nothing and I made a mental note to buy some the next day. It never ceases to amaze me how dependent we are on electricity.

I leave for India on Friday so I thought this may be a preview, in fact, I had packed my flashlight just before Mad Men, but knew I wouldn't find it in the dark! No choice but to prepare for bed. Even my toothbrush is electric (a very recent purchase.)

Last weekend I was at a yoga retreat in Philo. A few of us shared a lodge. The first morning my roommate and I were wakened by what sounded like a rooster or a strange bird chirping. It was the alarm of the woman down the hallway. She didn't hear it. After breakfast there was quiet time. All was silent in the lodge, then I heard an interesting kind of hum. Intrigued I went in search of it, was it one of the inhabitants chanting like a maniac, had someone put on some new age music? It was a woman fastidiously using an electric toothbrush.

This weekend has been truly glorious. A treat after our strange and very cold and foggy summer, or lack thereof. Two weeks ago I visited friends in Olympia, in Washington State. There we enjoyed wonderful weather and when my friend, (a former Bay Area resident) and I kayaked along the Puget Sound, I told her about our very cool summer. On Monday afternoon just before landing in Oakland the flight attendant welcomed us and said the local temperature is 94 degrees. This kind of went by me, but the woman in the seat on the other side of aisle tapped my shoulder to ask whether she had heard correctly. We stepped out into a furnace.

All is very odd.

So, a happy and sweet New Year and well over the fast to those concerned. I will not post anything until my return.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. I walked out of my office to go and see the children in one of our programs. They would be going home in 15 minutes and I hadn't yet had time to see them. As I walked along the paved passageway I heard "Pa-pow-pow." Instantly after I heard the screeching of tires and simultaneously I thought, 'gunshots, a car backfiring, it is going to crash on Robert Miller Drive.' I ran to the fence which afforded me a view of the hilltop leading down to Robert Miller Drive. Down below I saw cars slowing on either side of the median strip.I saw two young guys running into the back of one of the apartment buildings just below Birmingham Drive. I realised there had been a shooting and I ran back to the office to tell them. I heard sirens. I ran in to tell my colleagues what had happened. The office manager and another staff member came with me back to the fence. We saw police cars. One of the buses which was to transport the children drove in and told a program director the road was being cordoned off because there had been a shooting. Everyone was told to leave and go home in the opposite direction to the 'incident.'

When i got home I looked this up on the internet, but nothing came up. There was nothing on the news that night and nothing in the paper the next day. It was like it had never happened, but it had, and those shots were still ringing in my head.

I remembered about a year ago leaving the office one afternoon. On Hilltop Drive, just in front of the fire station a terrible accident had happened. Several cars were crushed in opposing directions over the road. People were trapped inside. There were onlookers, it was awful. The only good thing was it was right outside the fire station, but obviously it had been a very bad accident and several people were not going to make it. Shaken, I got home and looked for news reports. Nothing, nothing at all, not on the internet or the news or in the papers. The next day the office manager, who had left five minutes before me had also seen it, so I knew I hadn't been hallucinating.

So, there was a shooting, someone, or a few people, had been shot at. They probably didn't die, which is why it didn't even make a brief paragraph, but someone's son/daughter/father/mother has been badly hurt. I am writing this for them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Rant

Oh dear, I am becoming a raving ranter!

I won't even begin to discuss my experience with U-Verse. Suffice to say that customer service has really deteriorated in this country. When I came here 30 years ago I was very impressed by the efficiency of customer service. Okay, I had come from Israel which is not known for its high level of customer service, but still, things worked here, quickly. When they didn't, one could call or go into an office, have a word with a manager, and everything worked again. It was astonishing to me how smoothly things ran. I cannot say the same now.

One thing that has not changed is the variety of meaningless choices. When I first came here I wrote about the baffling amount of choices; from ice cream flavors to telephone styles. (If you are interested, my essay on this subject is accessible through my website,

30 years later, and I have never become used to the choices, but mostly it doesn't bother me like it used to. However, the other day I went to buy dental floss at CVS. I liked Longs, and although CVS is almost the same, it is different, and I don't really like it, however, that was what was nearby. I went into a small CVS and walked to the teeth aisle (it is not called that, but you know what I mean.) Just dental floss, that is all I wanted. I stood in front of the display of products. Waxed, non waxed, satin tape, broad floss, narrow floss, dentist recommended floss, expensive floss, cheap floss. Once again I found myself baffled, unsure of what to buy, just as I felt 30 years ago when confronted with salt, tea, ice cream, water (WATER!!!!!!!!) bread, milk, yogurt ..... oh help. This time an elderly gentleman was on his knees perusing the toothbrush display. He looked up at me and said "they just don't make the ordinary toothbrushes that fit our toothbrush holder at home anymore. I cannot find an ordinary handle." I smiled in an "I know exactly what you mean fashion." Three months ago, in this exact same spot I met another elderly gentleman looking for a regular toothbrush, which is exactly what I was doing at that time. Neither of us found anything.

I was already flustered because of my experience with the wireless services, robotic machines, and robotic humans. I decided I had enough floss to last me a while and walked out without buying anything.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Does anyone else find our automated life frustrating beyond belief? Everything is fine when it works; computers, TV's, washing machines, cars, telephones, iPods, ATM's, on and on and on and on. Heaven forbid something does not work.

My DSL service is provided by AT&T. I have had the service for several years, and the monthly amount is deducted automatically. This has been unproblematic for several years.

I go to Costco to fill up on gas and pay for this with my debit card. Suddenly one week when I inserted the card an error message came up saying the pump doesn't recognise my card. I tried reinserting it several times, to no avail. An attendant came to help - he thought my card may have been demagnetised, and wiped it on his trousers - nothing helped. I then used a credit card, something I hate doing. After this I went to my bank. They said my card was fine and my swipes hadn't even registered on their screens. I then went to Costco's customer service who informed me that they have nothing to do with the pumps on their property. It appears that the pumps had suddenly developed a mind of their own, and they decided not to accept my debit card.

Because everyone tried to 'fix' my card by manually wiping it on their clothing, I requested a new debit card from the bank. They sent a new card which had two different numbers from my old card. They said this was done to prevent fraud and it would not affect my monthly deductions from my bank account. They were wrong, I received a notice from Fastrak to update my information as my card was declined. Then I received an e-mail from AT&T that my internet services will be discontinued if I do not update my information. They gave me a number to call. Dutifully, I called and the bloody automated machine answered with the usual "if you are calling about ... punch 1, about that, punch 2,' etc. None of the options were suitable so I didn't punch anything, except for the table at which I was sitting. The voice said "you didn't enter anything," and repeated the useless choices. Out of desperation I punched any number hoping to get a human voice. I did not. I hung up and called again and didn't enter anything. Eventually a customer service person answered "this is Jeff, how can I make your day?" It was night time. I told him I needed to update my credit card information. Jeff could not locate my internet account. All he could find was my phone account. After an extremely frustrating half an hour with Jeff, who apparently really wanted to help me, but just was unable to, he transferred me to a gentleman in India. This man kept repeating every word I said in the hopes that we would both understand each other. Eventually he said, 'I work in technical services, you need a customer service agent." I am really surprised that I answered in a civil tone as he continued saying he would transfer me. Then came the "all our agents are busy," for another half hour. Eventually a woman came on with her cheery "how can I make your day" bullshit. I don't know how, but she managed to help, and she updated my information in ten minutes.

Throughout this hour or more of utter frustration I remembered calling the airlines when my mother died. I wanted to get on a plane to Israel. An automated voice kept asking for my destination. Whenever I said "Tel Aviv" the bloody reply was "I heard Indiana" or "I heard Iowa". To say I was beside myself would be the understatement of the century (last century, this one is too short.)

During the World Cup my TV reception went on the fry or whatever it is they do, in the middle of the game between Mexico vs. France. UNACCEPTABLE. This is not the first time my reception has gone out, but I am so tired of calling, waiting, then having to arrange for someone to come to my house, etc. that I have given up calling. But during the World Cup - unacceptable. I called, and waited, and screamed. They said someone would come Saturday between 10 and 2 - the exact time I was supposed to go to friends to watch the match that the USA lost. I had to stay home and wait. In the meantime the TV started working again, but I was not prepared to tell Comcast it was now working. The agent came at 12.30 - asked who was winning, and sat down with me to watch the game!!! At the end he told me that unless the TV does its conking out thing he can't help,but he would just give me a new box anyway!!!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The World Cup continues. I still obsessively watch, and LOVE it. Of course after Ghana's sad leaving I am no longer invested, and can watch without my usually low blood pressure rising to meteoric heights! I can't analyze the games, and give you an informed commentary, suffice to say, I thoroughly enjoy it, to the exclusion of all else. Hence, no blogs.

However, today again proved to be one of those joyous days related to work. The same kids I described in my May 11th blog, again passed major developmental milestones. The little boy who has Johansen Blizard Syndrome (they are all little, but this one is particularly little, it is part of his rare syndrome) has consistently never stayed in prone (on his stomach) for longer than maybe a nanosecond. When I first received the referral and read the name of the syndrome I imagined finding a freezing Norwegian. Instead he was a very odd looking, teeny low-tone little Mexican with a nose just like the beak of a bird, an odd pattern of hair growth, amongst many other anomalies. At first he screamed if I tried to place him in prone, Later he learned to wriggle out of the position. If he even sensed I may be placing him on his stomach he turned himself around so fast that sometimes he almost slipped out of my grasp. In vain I tried, his parents tried, his physical therapist tried - all to no avail. Tomorrow he turns two years old, and although he does many new things, crawling is not one of them. Today we played with a ball. He sat between my legs and threw the ball to his young cousin who then threw it back to him. If it went astray (nearly every throw) his cousin or his mother would have to crawl under the table or go down the passage way to retrieve it. He wouldn't move, even though he has learned to scoot around on his butt. After a while I placed him on his hands in a wheelbarrow position and lifted his legs. After a few minutes of this I lowered him, stomach down, to the floor, waiting for him to flip, writhe, scream, anything to escape. To my astonishment he remained in prone and began combat crawling. I could not believe it, off he went, along the tiled living room floor into the kitchen. There he turned around and continued down the carpeted passageway toward a bedroom! I stood there dumbstruck (briefly.) His mom said that on Friday he began doing this. What joy and excitement. This bodes very very well for his future development. I could honestly say to his family that he will eventually walk.

Later the mother of the other odd little boy who also has a rare syndrome, 41 xxxxy, of which not much is known, called me to say he is sick, he has been coughing. I asked whether I can come tomorrow and she said, "please, we have something very exciting to show you. He got to his hands and knees the other day and crawled a bit, before collapsing." For the first year of his life he didn't move, at all. He never reached for toys, he never moved. If placed on his stomach he stayed there until moved. When placed on his side, that is where he remained, the same when he was on his back. Eventually he learned to sit without support, and there he remained like a little Buddha. Just recently he has begun smiling and combat crawling, and he even initiated a game of 'peek-a'boo' to my astonishment. And now he is crawling!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The World Cup

I had no idea I would be so blindsided by the World Cup. I was excited before, and thrilled it would be in South Africa, the country of my birth. I was nervous that South Africa wouldn't be ready, that no one would go, that, that, that ---

I have a few countries to root for; South Africa, Argentina (my brother-in-law is Argentinean), the United States, and ... Mexico, (because I work with so many Mexican families.) I didn't think I would root for any team in particular. I told my families that for the first game, between South Africa and Mexico, I would paint my nails with the SA flag on one hand, and the Mexican flag on the other. Totally fair I thought I would be, just enjoying the game. That is what I thought. Then the opening night ceremonies began. I couldn't find on the English channel, so I watched them on the Spanish channel and got more and more excited. I cried, I loved watching the clips, I recognised places and did not recognise others. I was hit by waves of patriotic fervor, nostalgia, longing, memories. Sleep was out of the question. Friday morning I watched the game - a cousin came over. Simultaneously I was on the phone with my family in New Hampshire, Israel, South Africa. The TV, the internet, the phone, telepathic bandwaves. When Tshabalala scored that first goal we whooped, ululated, danced. The shrieks of delight flew over the air waves like the killer mosquito buzz of the vuvuzelas.

I am not sure I will survive the next few weeks, but it will be fun! Thank goodness the families I work with are equally besotted. Most of them took Friday off in order to watch the game. The first word of many of the children may just be "goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal" and that is a good way to begin to talk!

The event could not have come at a more opportune time, just as the world is going to hell in a handbasket, here is the joy of the game of soccer to buoy us up.

And now it is time to watch Italy and Paraguay.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This morning, on my way to work,it dawned upon me that I am living in a sea of uncertainty. As I thought that, I had another thought, a sea - what a metaphor. Over the last few weeks, we are witnessing two tragedies occurring in seas. The ongoing horror of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the dreadful uncertainty that the spill may not be contained for a long long time, and the uncertainty of the extent of the damage it has done, and will do. Then Monday came the failure, and dare I say it, stupidity of the Israeli raid on the flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean. My thoughts had begun with my personal feeling of uncertainty which has been with me for quite a while now. Uncertainty about work which continues, but we have fewer referrals, so what will happen. What will happen if and when I retire? where will I live? what will I do? etc. etc. It seems like everyone I speak to is in a state of flux, relationships are breaking up, even long term ones. Friends are leaving, moving to different states. The weather is downright odd, it rained this morning, in June.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Week

What a difference a week makes.

Exactly one week ago I was feeling really down after I finished with the last child of the day. It was one of those "why, and what, am I doing?" days.

One of my 'wee ones' has a rare disorder, and one of the many things he is unable to do, is drink liquid from a bottle or cup (which have to be held for him) without it dribbling out the corners of his mouth, and choking. So, I ordered him a special cup and xeroxed exercise handouts for his very young mom. When I got there she was on the sofa making out with her new boyfriend, (she broke up with Dad a week ago or so!) They were watching a ventriloquist on TV which was blaring. The boy was sitting untended in his 'saucer.' I tried getting mom's attention to show her how to help him drink out of the special cup. I also pointed out that he needed a diaper change - badly! She barely glanced in our direction. I gave her the handouts and tried to demonstrate what I wanted her to do with her son, but she just glanced briefly and then laughed at her boyfriend's inane jokes. I left wondering why on earth I even bother with this. I returned to the office just to go to the program and vent.

Today, a week later, I went to see the same children, and it was like each one had drunk a magic potion. The first child of the day smiled when I came in and sat down to 'play' without throwing himself backward and wailing. He took a ring stack apart and re-stacked it, looked at a book, put shapes into matching holes, and stood, well. He spent the entire hour doing one thing that he had either struggled with, or refused to try, after the other.

The next little girl I have been seeing for a year. She has Down Syndrome, and other than rolling, has not been able to move very well. For the whole year I have told mom to let her play on the floor. Three weeks ago mom confessed that she was never on the floor except when I was there. Other than begging mom, I just repeated that it would be good for her. Today I put her on the floor, placed a toy in front of her, and suddenly she rolled onto her stomach and began combat crawling! Then she outdid herself. She managed to transition from being on her stomach to sitting without any assistance! I have manually put her through these moves ad nauseum, but she never moved from sitting to prone, or vice versa. I looked in astonishment, and she repeated the same moves three times,each time getting a little quicker and more sure of herself. I was so pleased. Mom told me that she now does leave her to play on the floor and yesterday she began sitting and combat crawling.

Then I went to the strange little boy who, since last week, had been ill. When I got there mom and boyfriend were there, the TV was on - today it was a rerun of Law and Order, and the little fellow looked at me from his saucer and smiled (more like a twitch of his lips and cheeks.) I took him out of his cage and placed him on the floor. For a year he too, has hardly ever reached for a toy, and only just in the last few weeks has he learned to roll. He has spent months and months doing nothing whatsoever. Today he astonished me by beginning to combat crawl. I have never seen him so lively or engaged as today! He really moved, and did many new things.

I went back to the program, and the afternoon group of children was sitting in a circle, singing. Another girl I had worked with got up and walked!!! An entire 10 steps.

I really have no idea what was in the air today, but whatever it is, I am really pleased.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I would be severely remiss if I did not write about Max, my feisty little piscean companion.

Last year, during quiet time at a yoga retreat, a desire arose, unbidden, to the surface of my mind. I realised I wanted a betta (siamese fighting fish) fish. This wish, for me, was something new, I do not have any pets. I have, on occasion, cared for my neighbors' cats in their absence, I even took care of a neighbor's lizard, feeding it crickets. It was a horrible experience. I did have a beautiful little kitten, a manx cat. In South Africa growing up we had a manx cat, Whisky. They are gentle cats, hailing from the Isle of Man, and do not have tails. I named my coal black little kitten Shaka, and enjoyed his presence for all of two days. Tragically, he had a genetic condition which apparently is quite common amongst Manx cats. He had no control of his 'evacuation' routes, and had to be put to sleep. That experience so traumatised me that I determined never to have a pet of any sort, until up arose this desire for a betta fish.

Exactly two nights after my return from the retreat someone knocked on my front door about 10 p.m. A new neighbor whom I did not know, stood on my porch, illuminated by the street lamp. In his arms he held a fish bowl. He told me that there had been a death in his family and he unexpectedly had to leave town for a week, could I please take care of his betta fish? Of course he had no idea how fortuitous this was. I could now test my ability to care for a fish. His betta was an electric blue, and he survived the week with me. During his tenure I bought a fish bowl, betta food, (teeny weeny little pellets which apparently contain more nutrients than a 200 lb. tuna) dechlorinator drops, a ph. testing kit). Immediately electric blue was reclaimed I went to the tropical fish store. The fish that instantly attracted me was deep carnelian. He was no more than an inch and a half in size, and I loved the way he moved. I can swear he looked at me and signaled for me to take him. Immediately I held the plastic bag in my hand the name Max came to me.

As soon as I got home I gingerly (and tenderly) placed Max in his new environment, and gazed excitedly at his undulations. However, after a few fancy moves he just sank and stayed on the bottom of the bowl. My heart sank as swiftly as Max did. Every now and then I tapped on the bowl and saw a tiny movement, an almost indiscernible little flutter, which calmed me somewhat. But there he remained. The two little pellets I dropped into his watery home left him unmoved. The next morning I found him in the same position. Two more am pellets joined the evening pellets floating on the surface of the water. Max remained still, as did my heart. A friend came over, took one look at the unmoving little creature and said "this doesn't look good." I raced to the aquarium wailing that I had killed my fish. After asking me a few questions the worker assured me this strange behavior is common, Max is stressed, she said. He is in shock. She is sure he is not dead. Four days he remained in this comatose state. Then I went away for the weekend after ascertaining Max would be okay for a day or two, that is, he wouldn't be worse off than he now was. I returned, and resumed the thankless routine of putting in the teeny pellets and tapping on the bowl. After a week of showing no discernible sign of life, I put in a little pellet and Max shot to the surface opened his little mouth and - whoops - the pellet was ingested. Little Max was apparently acclimatised and ready to do his thing, which apparently included attacking his nutrients.

Max and I have been together over a year. He always responds to my finger at the edge of the bowl, swimming up and looking, then he is off again. I read that they can jump, and one day, after changing his water, Max jumped. His body kind of curved, his fins or whatever they are called fluttered and he arced up and out of the water, then headed for the water again.

He has survived the winter, even though there were nights and days of bitter cold (for a tropical fish.) I fancied knitting a fish bowl cosy (like a tea cosy) for Max, but instead wrapped a cashmere shawl around his bowl. He was sluggish, and didn't eat, but with the advent of spring he is back to being his energetic, feisty little self. My home is complete with the presence of Max.

Friday, April 30, 2010


After having previously declared that I am cutting back on my spending, as are most everyone I know, I confess to an indulgence.

I have my eyelashes dyed.

Why do I do this? Why do women have 'permanent' eyeliner and eyebrows tattooed? Why do they get liposuction, breast implants, breast reductions? on and on? The answers of course are myriad, from psychological to sociological.They are not in the scope of this blog. However, there is one saying, "Vanity, thy name is woman," and I resonate with that.

I went to Benefit (the cosmetic 'boutique') for a 'lash tint.' A $20 perk I indulge in every few months. This is something my eye doctor will never know, I am sure he would not approve, but the odds of him coming in to a Benefit store are not very high. Besides, he would not recognize me. If I saw myself I would be highly unlikely to recognise myself, perched on a white padded stool, my eyes closed tight while a perky young woman places plastic things under my lower lashes, applies the equivalent of black shoe polish on my lashes, and tells me to relax. Within a short while she returns, rinses my eyes, and, bingo, my lashes are dyed blue black for a brief period of time.

This time, when I opened my eyes at her command it was to see Groucho Marx, in the form of an attractive young lady, sitting on a nearby stool, staring at me.

"Your eyes look lovely," she said. I looked at her and burst out laughing. Apologetically I explained that she looked like Groucho Marx. She had two patches of thick dark goo where her eyebrows should be. I bemoaned the fact that I have very light sparse brows. The perky young tinter said she had a light colored dye which was perfect for my no brows, and told me to try it.

"Oh sure" I shrugged, "what the hell?" She then applied whatever it was to my eyebrows, no doubt I now looked like Groucho Marx. There we sat, a row of women sporting black goo eyebrows and eyes. What strange things we do. Soon one brow was rinsed - "hmm, too light, a bit longer" said my young lady. Eventually my brows were declared perfect, and I walked out, with perfect lashes and brows.

Not a soul has noticed, or commented on, my new and dazzling look.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


At just after 11.30 am today I walked out of a house toward my car. I heard the 'tak'tak'tak' of a helicopter overhead.

Ever since living in Israel I do not like helicopters - they always seem to be forerunners of something unfortunate - bringing in wounded soldiers, or here in California bringing in victims of coastal accidents, road accidents, or looking down on some clandestine action.

I looked up - they were police helicopters, so I knew something was 'going down.' My thought was to drive down San Pablo Avenue to a new coffee shop I had seen. It was 11.38 am when I turned on the ignition, exactly time for traffic and weather. The broadcaster announced the trouble spots, then said that in Richmond there was a situation going on at 39th and MacDonald (exactly where I used to work) and all the blocks had been cordoned off. No word of what the situation was. The coffee shop wasn't that close to MacDonald so I decided to go. I kept listening to KCBS, and sure enough I heard that there was 'some kind of a hostage situation.' I thought of the Health Clinic, the courts, Familia Unidas, WIC, the things I knew in that area. Then they said that a reporter was on his way to the situation. Before I returned to the office I heard that a woman suspect had held five people hostage at a nutrition center, as yet there was no explanations of what had happened.

Of course I told our AA as soon as I got in, "great" she said, just what Richmond needs now. Was she out of Vitamin C?"

When I went to the program the physical therapist had just come from a middle school in that area, and had already told everyone what she had heard, which was the same as I had heard," a hostage situation." What is so sad is that none of the staff were particularly shocked - they all said the same thing. "Things are crazy, people are desperate, it is only going to get worse."

Yes, there is a general feeling of desperation. On Friday I visited a little girl I had worked with. Her family were the first I knew to lose their home, at the end of 2008. Their home was in North Richmond, not exactly a wonderful area, but it was their home, and they loved it. They moved into a drug infested area because they found an apartment they could afford. Since they have been there there have been major shootings in the area. It is an open area drug market on the streets outside.Of course the matriarch wants to move. She works, her husband works, and his sister who lives with them works, but they have a hard time coming up with the monthly rent, let alone all the other necessities. A wall in their kitchen is black from mold, and the tiles and flooring around it are spongy. The little girl has asthma, the adults have been sick on and off with respiratory problems. They are hostages. Many of the families I work with are hostage to their situations, and so, no wonder there has been a hostage situation in a women and children nutrition center.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Today is a furloughed day, our second one this year. The organization I work for has tried to make it easier on us by spreading the days over two pay periods, so we won't be 'hit' really badly when we receive our next paycheck. But no matter how hard they try to make all these reductions easier on us, we definitely feel them. Like so many others all over the country, I have made changes in my lifestyle, which wasn't extravagant to begin with. In the office we bring lunch to work, instead of buying something. The positive side of this is that we share some wonderful meals. Much of the office talk revolves around food, and recipe sharing. My latte consumption has reduced drastically, and when I do buy a latte it is from MacDonalds!!! This was my first purchase ever at a MacDonalds. I went to the one closest to our office, in San Pablo. I ordered at the drive through and drove up to pay. The young woman at the window was all smiles. "Hola," she smiled, and continued in spanish "don't you recognize me?" But I did. I had worked with her son about three years previously. She told me they are all well and said she is expecting her third child in a few weeks', that is why she looks so fat, she said.

"Come and visit" she said, as I drove off.

Pleasant little surprises like this highlight my days, which are definitely becoming increasingly difficult. It is hard for children to qualify for services. Some services, like feeding specialists, have to be supplied, or denied by the child's insurance. If they are denied, then maybe Regional Center will cover them. I am working with a little boy whom I saw last year. At that time he also had a feeding specialist and a physical therapist (PT) in the home. We all came once a week to work with him, and instruct his family who were wonderful in following through. As a result, he progressed so well that he began attending our program for three hours a day. He obviously loved coming to 'school,'(his 'escuela') waiting for the bus everyday, waving goodbye to his parents who wiped their tears, and happily participating in the activities, playing on the gym and in the go-cars. He began eating by mouth (he is on a g-tube) and drinking from his bottle. Unfortunately, after some really good months, he became very ill with the RSV virus and was hospitalized for almost a month. They had to put him into a medically induced coma and he was placed on a ventilator. He came back home, but sadly he has totally regressed. I can see him until he turns three, and the physical therapist can come, but the feeding specialist can no longer come to his home. His mother can take him to see a specialist at Childrens Hospital once a month, to get some advice. This child needs to be worked with constantly, and the fact that his mother has to take him out of the house and into a hospital environment only puts him at increasing risk of being exposed.

Another little fellow I work with has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and recquires a specially adapted headrest for his wheelchair, which is on order. However, this is not covered by insurance and his parents really cannot some up with $160.

Another boy who has profound hearing loss in one ear, and some loss in his other ear would benefit from a conductive hearing aid. He would hear, and learn to speak, however, this device is considered "cosmetic." It costs $6,000. Everyone is busy finding out about where the parents can find devices, or used equipment, which is not readily available, if at all.

These things are making work more trying, so furloughed days are, in a way, welcome, if only they didn't impose severe limitations on us as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Hi - I am still here. It is just that this fog-like exhaustion overtakes me as I plan to write. Actually, that is not the only time. It happens when I am driving, when I return home from work, and at all sorts of inopportune times. Maybe it is the change of the seasons, that limbo period of 'in between.' In fact, now that Spring is officially here, I feel better, more energised, hence I am writing.

A couple of weeks ago I drove up to a yoga retreat. The retreat is held in the beautiful Alexander Valley. This year the countryside is simply magnificent, I had forgotten just how breathtaking Spring is, as it has been so dry the last few years. The creeks gush and gurgle. The hills are clothed in shades of green, and sprinkled with yellow wild mustard flowers. The blossoms are out in purple, pink, and white, and at the retreat site the red flowering quince blossoms tap against the window pane of the dining room, and scented magnolia flowers carpet the deck.

Of course Spring arrives with its attendant allergies, which may account for the exhaustion. As a teenager in South AfricaI I suffered from hay fever and received treatment for my allergies to grass and dust. I think the desensitization shots were still in the beginning stages, and not as closely monitored as they are now. After receiving one set of shots I suffered a rather shocking reaction and almost died. The positive side of that event was that I didn't suffer from allergies again for years. Not in South Africa, not in Israel. I forgot about allergies, and laughed mercilessly when the workers on the kibbutz returned with swollen, streaming eyes and noses from the orchards.

I came to the Bay Area and chose my first rental because of the olive tree in the garden that reminded me of Israel. One spring a friend asked me to house sit for him. I planned to spend the weekend at his home in San Francisco. The first night there I awoke in the wee hours gasping for breath. My eyes watered and itched and I ran onto the balcony gulping in air. I had no idea what had happened to me! A friend came out, took one look at me and said 'you are allergic to the cats.' We had to leave the home, and on the way back to Oakland my breathing became easier. I had never been allergic to cats before. This was upsetting, but okay as I didn't have any cats. However, shortly after that disastrous attempt at house sitting, I began sneezing and itching in my safe haven. I went for allergy tests: cats, household dust, and flowering olive trees!!! I declined the shots and learned to live with my allergies.

Each and every Spring I find an article in the paper as to why, this particular Spring, the allergy season is the worst ever. It is either because of the drought, or the rains, too many or too little, unseasonable heat, or unseasonably cool weather, the fog, or the lack thereof. Whatever, every Spring I begin to sneeze and hear my neighbours sniffing and sneezing, like some bizarre concert. (I live in close quarters with my neigbours.) At work everyone in the office tears, sneezes, clears their throats, and outside, in the parking lot the asphalt is colored yellow from the pollen which falls like a mist from the pine and acacia. When it rains, or, as it has done this year, pours, rivulets of yellow spread like abstract artwork,forming yellow puddles and streaking window shields and cars.

This too, shall pass, an until then I am focusing on the beauty, albeit with a kleenex in hand.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I took BART to San Francisco on Saturday. Just as I went through the stile I realised that, horrors, I left my cell phone at home! I felt a few moments of unparalleled anxiety. Should I go back to get it? That would mean paying for yet another ticket. My unused fare would go to waste. I had already entered the station, and as it is, a ride to and from San Francisco is damned expensive. Could I possibly survive half a day without my phone? What if there were some disaster and I needed to call someone? What if my hordes of friends all decide to call me today? This thought is, of course, a flight of fancy, the truth is that hardly anyone calls me.

A reality check. I carry around my phone for days without ever using it. And, of course, I survived for years and years without such a device. I did have my book with me, far more essential than a phone. Phoneless, I sat on BART and looked around, there wasn't one person without tubes hanging from their ears, or looking down at a phone, texting, chatting, bopping to music, talking, gesticulating, laughing. Everyone has things to chat about, or listen to, or text, non stop. The more I looked at this frenzied activity around me, the more I began to feel better without any device. Just me and my thoughts, which goodness knows keep me occupied, and of course, my book.

Every now and then I like to get on BART and go somewhere, without any specific destination in mind. I have always enjoyed people watching. Today there seemed to be some kind of event - now I know I will annoy someone, sorry - for either transvestites, transgenders, or transsexuals. Many men headed purposefully in one direction down Maiden Lane. One wore multi colored boots, pink, turquoise, black, and white leather, with very high heels and a skintight top (he had no breasts) and tight pants. Soon another walked by, his face was really well made up. He too wore very high heels. They were followed by many men in very high heels, with fanciful hairdos. How they managed to walk, and gracefully at that, I have no idea. And of course everyone had some electronic device in hand, or glued to an ear.

In the midst of all of this I remembered a couple of interactions at the Starbucks drive through windows this past week. I ordered a misto and a chai latte, and the reply of the 'barista' came through the microphone - "awesome."

Two days later, at a different drive through I ordered a latte, the 'barista' said, "cool." I wonder if they are being trained to make nonsensical replies to customers so as to make them feel as if their specific order is somehow one of the most meaningful orders that has ever been made. How meaningless our interactions have become.

And now I am going back to struggle with my website. Bye.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Samoans

A few weeks ago the TV show, '60 Minutes' had a segment on why so many outstanding football players come from American Samoa. They showed the teenage boys preparing and training for football in American Samoa. Without shoes and equipment they play on 'fields' of lava rock. Genetically they are large and strong, and are formidable players. A coach said, describing the teenage boys, 'they are gentle and kind until they get on the field, then they turn into monsters.'

Why do I write about this? Watching this segment brought me right back to the time I worked with Samoan twins. I already had a very full case load, but a case manager said she had these fraternal twins who were born prematurely, and needed to be monitored. I protested, saying I had more children than I could handle, but then she told me their names, and I couldn't resist! Of course I cannot disclose their names, but believe me, they were cute, perfect for a fraternal twin.Think along the lines of "Eric and Erica" and you will get the idea.

The first time I went to their home in the Iron Triangle area of Richmond I parked on the street outside and gathered my clipboard and paperwork. A pitbull dog jumped up and scratched the passenger side window. A strong looking man with flowing black hair reined him in, and they walked on the down the street. That was dad, I learned later.

I climbed up the 6 steps to the front door and knocked. A woman with the same wavy flowing black hair as the man came to the door, and introduced herself as the mother. I walked into the small living room behind her. She sat on a chair and gestured to me to sit. I sat on a sofa and looked around. An enormous color photograph of a black eyed, black haired good looking young man was on the wall. The photo was surrounded by strings of dusty plastic lilies. On the floor in front of it stood pots containing palms. The fronds were covered in dust. In front of the sofa on the carpet stood two walkers, and in each one sat a 5 month old prematurely born, low birthweight boy and girl. But something was very wrong with this picture. Each child looked at least like a large 10 month old chid. They both had a smattering of dark hair, and large dark brown eyes framed by long lashes. The girl's hair was sparser than that of the boy, but I knew she was a girl because she had a tiny pink ribbon clipped to a few sparse strands. Their faces were dirty, their noses snotty. The rims of the walkers were covered in spilled milk and crumbs.
The back of the little girl's head was flat - probably from lying constantly on her back. It was good she was up, but not in the walker, where she and her brother hung, their legs dangled and their heads bobbed around, but they were contained! Parents love these walkers because the kids appear content and happy inside, and they cannot get in anyone's way, but they are not good for the child's development. Their posture is wrong and they aren't using their muscles correctly. I explained that I would work with them on the floor, in this case a carpet, and requested that on subsequent visits she lay down a sheet or blanket. I explained to her that I would come once a week, at a time which was convenient for her, when the twins were awake, and ready to play. We agreed upon a time, Friday at 3.00 p.m.

Mom told me they were children numbers 5 and 6. The other children were in school. Mom was large and quite beautiful, resembling the women in Gaugin's paintings. She had on jeans and a T-shirt. On her left hand was a striking ring made out of what appeared to be bone, with colorful lines and symbols on it. She seemed to me amazingly laid back for someone with such a large brood. Her parents also lived in the home, but worked during the day. The boy in the photo was her brother who had been killed in a driveby shooting in San Francisco the year before. Toward the end of my visit dad and dog returned, and him and mom conversed in a language unfamiliar to me, Samoan.

The following Friday a tousled hair girl opened the door when I knocked. I told her who I was and that I had come to work with the twins. She held the door ajar then ran off shouting "Mom, a lady is here." The response was immediate and loud, 'FUCK." This was the response I received on each and every visit. Mom never remembered, apparently, that I was coming, despite the fact that we had agreed upon the time, and it never varied. From the 'FUCK' which emanated from within the home anyone would have sworn that I had come by to permanently remove the kids. I became accustomed to this friendly welcoming greeting, and walked into the living room calling to Mom that it was me and I am not here to hurt anyone.
Are the kids ready? They never were. They were always in the walkers, sometimes crying, sometimes cooing. Often the little girl pushed a bottle or pacifier in her brother's general direction, or vice versa. These two babies cared for each other, but obviously, being only a few months old, they were unable to do an outstanding job!

No floor covering was ever laid down. I brought my own sheets, as well as a pile of freshly laundered bibs. These two babies, and their walkers, were extremely dirty, filthy is a more apt word. Nothing in the house was free from dust, cigarette residue (the parents smoked), and particles of food. On my second visit, no sooner had I placed each large and heavy infant on the floor than I felt someone shaking my arm. I looked down to see the tousled hair little girl, or another child the image of her, for suddenly the living room and sofa were swarming with kids.

"Lady, lady" she shook my arm. "Pookie hit me so I hit Pookie. The poh-lice came for Daddy." Children everywhere, grabbing my toys, shaking my arm to tell me of mishaps at home and in school, boys, girls, climbing and running around in circles, and jumping over the little ones, no mom in sight. Utter pandemonium. Mom came in a little later, not saying a word to any of the kids, like "do you want something to eat?" "play with your own toys," or "do your homework" or "stop hitting Pookie," nothing. She asked me whether I would like a cup of coffee (I refused) and said that some of the kids belonged to her sister who was on drugs, so they were caring for them.

Sometimes mom wasn't there, the babies were alone with the swarms of kids. "Mom went with the neighbor to the store," or "mom is visiting someone." Dad apparently really had been taken to prison, again. This seemed like something the family was quite used to. This was not, of course, an ideal situation to be monitoring two little babies. I explained the situation to the case manager. We agreed that as soon as the kids were one year old they could begin our program, because these kids needed a structured environment. As far as their development was concerned, they were progressing very well, and would be doing even better if they were ever taken out of their walkers. I explained this to mom, when she was there, ad nauseum.

Over the next few months my work week ended with my Samoan nemesis. I couldn't wait to get home, bathe, and throw my clothes and the sheet into the washer. I scratched imaginary itches, and wiped my watery eyes and nose. I knew I wasn't hallucinating when I saw little white and grey things hopping in the childrens' hair. My ears rang with the kids' whining. The twins quickly grew larger and heavier, and cuter.

The boy began toddling surprisingly early for a preemie. I was there one Friday amidst the usual pandemonium. Mom sat in the living room, calm and placid, while all around the children fought, shook my arms, climbed on to window sills, swung from curtains, bickered, whined, and laughed. No one noticed the little boy had vanished. A snotty-nosed kid used the back of his hand to wipe his nose, he sniffed and asked for a kleenex. Mom told him to get paper from the toilet. He returned from the toilet to report they were out of paper. "Shit, Fuck," said mom, "I forgot to get some."

A house full of people, no toilet paper, and where was the little boy? I ran off to look for him and found him pulling up to stand next to the not clean toilet. His hands splashed in the unflushed bowl. I scooped him up and took him to the sink to place his hands under water. There was no soap or towels. I told the case manager they needed to start our program on Monday.

They flourished. The nits were removed and their hair gleamed. They learned to wash their hands and use the toilet, but best of all, they could run around, climb the jungle gym, go down slides, ride bikes. Then one day they were not on the bus. No one answered our phone calls. Letters were written. I drove by the house but no one was there. They didn't return. Mom had spoken about moving to another county where she hoped to find work, so perhaps this is what happened, but our Samoan twins were gone.

In many ways our work is a constant series of goodbyes.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An entire month

An entire month has passed, with nary a word from me. And now it is February 2010. The Year of the Tiger is about to begin, and, indeed, the year has roared in.

I returned to work at the beginning of January, and it is good, and not good. Good to get back and to see the kids, who are, happily, doing well. They seem to flourish when I don't see them!!!

A darling little girl who, it seemed, would combat crawl for the rest of her life, is getting to her hands and knees and crawling. A boy of two and a half who, until I went out for surgery, just combat crawled - with difficulty, and who, whenever he was placed in standing would either buckle his knees and plop down, or lock his knees and tilt forward from his hips, until we had to grab him to prevent him from landing head first on the floor. When I walked into his home after my return he came to the door on all fours, and flashed his incredible smile. He crawled all over his home, fast. After crawling from room to room, and to the kitchen to pick up some crumbs, he returned to the living room and sat on my lap. Then he stood up, showed good standing balance and toddled between his mom and me, his little arms in 'high guard,', a triumphant smile on his face. From house to house I went, those who couldn't sit sat, those who couldn't communicate were using basic signs, those who hadn't smiled were smiling. It was like entering a world of miracles, and at the same time it makes me wonder whether they would have made this progress without any intervention.

Actually, I know that it is because of the work we do that they do go through their necessary milestones. It is just that when I see them week after week I cannot see the progress!

A colleague had seen every child a a few times and kept me posted. Working all alone is extremely isolating. It really helps having another pair of eyes, someone to discuss treatment, famiy dynamics, and so on.

So that is the good part. The not good part of being back is not having time to devote to my writing and other projects. (I finished two sweaters while recuperating.) I have writing ideas, knitting and beading projects in my mind, so many things to do instead of work! But I do love my 'wee' ones.

I shall post this hoping that many new posts wil soon follow.