Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Slice: When connections fail/ Learning to listen

I am not always a good listener.  And I know exactly why.

I am addicted to connections.  

When I hear something that "pings" a memory or a fact or an experience in my brain, the connection just jumps out of my mouth.

This propensity for making connections comes in handy as a teacher, a librarian, and as a parent helping a teenager with pre-calculus homework (who knew I could remember SOHCAHTOA?).  We all learn by building on what we know, so it's my job to connect new material with students' prior learning, connect their interests with books and materials, connect my teachers with resources, connect my teenager with time-tested acronyms.

The problem is that in conversation, it is not always polite or supportive to reply to a friend's or colleague's or child's recounting of their experience by bringing up one's own.  It's in those situations that my urge to make a connection can come across as self-centered and uncaring--I certainly don't want to perpetuate that image!

So I need to practice the same reference skills I use when I help a student in the stacks--asking questions instead of telling my own story.  Mea culpa.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Slice: Parsnips and naming a new blog

I cooked parsnips for the first time last night.  Doesn't seem much of a blog-worthy event, but since it was a new dish, and this is a new blog, I found a connection.

Parsnips were not on the menu during my childhood.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't aware of their existence, so it wasn't a case of missing out.  We had the standard dinner vegetable fare of green beans, corn, broccoli, potatoes, peas, carrots, and salad, with the occasional canned spinach gracing the plate.  At the holidays the relish tray appeared--radishes, baby dill and sweet pickles, green onions, black and green olives.  My mom was a great cook--she even learned to make spring rolls from scratch when we lived in Bangkok--but there was more experimenting with main dishes than sides, I think.

These days, my family's meals are planned out two months at a time, on a template I made in a Word document.  I spread out my favorite cookbooks--some I inherited from my mother, others I've been given as gifts or purchased along the way.  Several of my favorites are the spiral bound books put together by churches and choirs for fundraising purposes.  I subscribed to a couple of menu magazines for a time; the apple-parsnip mash came from a 2010 issue.  My cookbook collection spans over three shelves, two in the dining area and one in the living room.

I remember talking with my mother once about how she planned her meals.  It was a requirement for a Girl Scout badge I was working on.  I remember her saying she included a meat, a vegetable, and a starch, and that she tried to make it colorful.

I'd love to talk to my mother about parsnips, and have her taste this new dish, but I can't, and therein lies the meaning of this new blog.  My mother passed away at the age of fifty-one from ALS, a disease that swiftly took her from us eighteen months after her definitive diagnosis.  I am currently the age at which she started showing symptoms .

I am a motherless daughter, fast approaching the horizon of my mother's death-age.  Right now it seems like the straight edge of the flat world our ancestors envisioned, a fall into the unknown.  I find myself actively seeking out examples of life after fifty-one from women around me, social media, books.  There are topics I would like to explore and write about that don't quite fit into my books-reading-library-educator blog, and so I embark in a new direction in this new space.

I will be creating my own road-map,  up to and beyond Horizon 51.  Care to join me on the ride?