Recycling In The Days of Old ©

Recycling for Earth Day with Malati Marlene Shinazy

recyclingWhen my oldest kids were in preschool and primary grades, many weekends were spent at the playground, going up and down slides – for hours.  They never missed a weekend.

They also never wanted to miss a periodic family ritual.  We lived in a part of the US that had just begun recycling.  Our recycling center consisted of four giant igloo-type structures placed dead center in a huge empty parking lot.  Two igloos said, “Glass.”  Two igloos said, “Newspapers.”

Going to the recycling center was an enormous undertaking.  We collected newspapers and glass bottles for weeks.  When we finally had sufficient quantity, we loaded all this stuff, two young kids and an infant into the station wagon.  We drove forever because our so-called recycling center was in the light industrial part of the closest Big City (not very close).

What was totally, 100% entertaining, however—and well worth all the effort it took to get there — was to watch my kids conduct the Recycling Ritual.  Those huge igloos were so tall, steps and a platform were built around them so that stalwart recyclers like our family could reach the 7” recycling hole at the top.

So, up my kids went, a glass bottle in each hand.  Then, poised oh so carefully over the 7” hole, they would take turns throwing a bottle, with all their might, into the igloo.  With the loudest, violent detonating blast of glass crashing onto glass, the bottles landed…  The kids would burst into peals of sustained laughter that were almost as loud as the recycling blasts!  It was contagious; even the baby would break into screaming laughter.

  • Bottle In!
  • Crash!
  • Explosion!
  • Three Children Scream With Delight!
  • Second Bottle In!
  • Crash!
  • Explosion!
  • Three Children Scream Even Louder With Delight!

And so it went, for clearly thirty minutes, while their dad and I struggled to stuff weeks’ worth of thick newspapers into itty-bitty igloo holes.

I have to admit, this was indeed an odd pastime for a young family that tried to eschew violence (with obvious varied degrees of success).

Recycling = Violent Explosions + Fun and Laughter

recyclingToday, even in the smallest hamlets, recycling has become quite civilized.  It is now pedestrian – and – thought-free.  Children interface with recycling by spending their weekends going up and down slides in playgrounds made of recycled flip-flops.  We fill up city-issued recycling containers, roll them to the curb and voila, away go the “office paper, newspapers, cardboard, phone books, magazines, aluminum & tin cans, glass & plastic containers (except polystyrene).”

Yes, gone are the days of schlepping station wagons full of a pack-rat’s bounty of newspapers and bottles to remote places to hear young children take primal pleasure in aggressive, and LOUD, planet-saving….  What’s totally perfect, however, is:

This recycling story is now on a Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babe and gets to be recycled – forever.

photos by malati marlene shinazy and shinazy

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Jazzed Up ©

Appreciating jazz with Will Jones

jazzLast week my wife and I and a small group of friends went to see and hear Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra play at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Performing Arts Center.  Fifteen virtuoso jazz musicians played a variety of arrangements, from Duke Ellington to James Moody, with a spectacular combination of precision and improvisation.  Combined with Marsalis’s knowledge, humor and reverence for the genre, it was one of the best jazz concerts I’ve ever attended.

My sister gave me the gift of jazz when I was only twelve years old.  She was eighteen, dating a guy a few years older who listened to jazz and got her into it.  One day in 1960 she suggested that I start listening to an FM radio station, WHAT, in our hometown, Philadelphia.  It was the first all jazz station in America, and the first FM station I ever listened to.  Up to then I listened to top 40 AM stations like WIBG (pronounced “wibbage”).  Hearing the jazz on WHAT was like visiting another galaxy.  It was both otherworldly and intensely exciting, and I was hooked from the start.

It was around the same time that my parents bought a Stromberg-Carlson stereo console, a cabinet on four legs meant to look like a piece of furniture.  We joined the Columbia record club, and my parents allowed me to order “Jazz Poll Winners of 1959,” award winning performances by the winners of the annual “Downbeat Magazine” poll.

jazzIf my appreciation for jazz needed any further boost, it came from listening to this record.  I can still hear virtually every one of the songs on that LP.  Beginning with “All Blues,” an absolute classic by Miles Davis, it also included “Blue Rondo a la Turk” by Dave Brubeck, “Better Get It in Your Soul” by Charles Mingus, “Cloudburst” by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, and “Just You, Just Me” by J.J. Johnson, among others.  My sister also took me to my first jazz concert, the incomparable Nina Simone.

In high school I started a jazz club and I was a regular at the Barn Arts Center in Riverside, New Jersey.  There I saw greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Les McCann and Jimmy Smith.  My first solo road trip was in the summer of 1966 when my parents allowed me to drive to Rhode Island for the Newport Jazz Festival.  I’ve been attending jazz concerts for over fifty years.

For my sister’s 70th birthday I took her to the Allen Room in Manhattan to hear the Piano Kings of New Orleans, featuring Ellis Marsalis and Jonathan Batiste.  It was the least I could do for the gift of jazz she gave me so many years ago, one that has enriched my life ever since.

 photos by edenpictures and alexkerhead

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Reader’s Comment ©

At BOBB your comment is what transforms a bowl of ice cream into a hot fudge sunday.

Below is a comment from Carol, who wanted to tell me about a memory she had after reading Easter Nest.  Carol graciously allowed BOBB to share her comment with you.

I believe everyone has a story and BOBB is the place to tell yours.  If you have a story you would like to share, please contact me by leaving a comment.  Enjoy!

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Greetings Shinazy,

Thanks for the lovely story of your Easter Nest ….

I really enjoyed the story and the memories that it brings to mind.

commentMy own Easter was in a boarding school in India, where the entire school participated in amazing music and pageantry, from the 6-year olds up to the 18-year olds.   We all dressed in white and paraded in to [the hymn] “Jesus Christ is Risen Today, Hallelujah”.  The Saturday before, groups of students scoured the hillsides for lovely white lilies, and the church / gymnasium, was decorated with lilies.  A huge wooden cross was at the front, smothered with lilies from top to bottom, all gathered by energetic students, hiking over the hillsides in the mountains.

I also remember shopping for the white dresses.  But, Easter Sunday started with a sunrise service, 6 am, on Coakers Walk, overlooking a huge set of hills and valleys.   Actually from Coakers Walk, it is possible to see the “Bracken Specter”, which is where very occasionally, one can see ones shadow on the clouds gathered below, when the sun is in a particular position in the sky.

commentAlthough I went to Coakers Walk probably hundreds of times over 11 years, I never did see my shadow.   But I always knew it was a special event which could happen from this tiny remote hill station in the Palni Hills of South India.

Easter involved weeks of preparation, with each class singing some special music.  I must say the quality of music at our school was outstanding, with amazing voices and orchestra.  So for me, Easter is filled with memories.

After the services, we were usually invited to someone’s home for a touch of “home” away from home.  My parents could not come up the hill, travelling from  Delhi, North India, until later in the summer.  So we always hoped for someone to take us in for the day.

Thanks for the sweet reminders of Easter in Kodaikanal School.

Carol

photos by chimothy and ananth

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Dock On The Bay ©

Dock memories by Cathy Reineke

dockThe dock was born one weekend in May, in Montana, when I was fourteen.  My father bought lakeshore frontage.  Only the two of us went up for that long weekend to build the dock.  The lake was at low pool (down 15 feet).  We had a short envelope of time to build our dock.

My father believed a daughter was as likely as a son to be a builder and taught me to wield a mean hammer.  First we dug holes for barrels, sunk them into the ground, and then placed poles into the barrels and filled them with cement.  After the cement set, we put up stringers between the poles and placed in the cross braces.  Finally, top planks went on and voila, we had the dock. 

I sat on that dock over many summers.  On fuzzy nights of too much beer, a few special friends discovered my secret as they lay in the dark at the end of the dock.  “This is a special place,” they’d say with voices full of quiet awe.

The dock formed a sturdy platform to launch ourselves into the water.   Mother grew her powerful petunias in big black witches caldrons placed at each post on the dock announcing that summer had truly arrived.  Each summer upon my return, the dock creaked its welcome to the chaise lounge placed at the end of the dock.  Sun was best there.   A quick step off the dock into the water always cooled my sun-scalded skin. 

On a wintry day, my boyfriend joined me there for the first time.  He found my heart when he stood on the dock and remarked, “I cannot believe anyone could have grown up with all of this.”

dockYears passed and I moved away.  Mother sold the cabin when she could no longer cope with the isolation and stillness after my father was gone.  A lovely couple staked their claim.  The dock filled with rambunctious children, gaggles of life jackets, and boats tied to its sturdy deck.  New voices echoed out over the bay. 

After many years away, I came back to visit friends.  I decided to drive by the lake place.  I found my way through the maze of dirt roads.  There upon my dock, stood the couple who had bought the place from mother many years before. 

Pictures of tanned young girls in new swimsuits returned to me.  Mom came down to the dock with her incredibly delicious tuna fish sandwiches.  Dad instructed me to “Put that level to the post and make sure it is straight up”, as he placed cement into the barrel.  And there I stood that last day, packing mother’s belongings into my car, turning my back to the dock, not watching our time end.  

I climbed out of my car and walked toward the couple on the dock who turned to look at me.  “Are you lost?” the husband asked.  “No” I said as I walked onto the dock.  I smiled and extended my hand as I introduced myself feeling that familiar slight give of my dock under the weight of my feet.

“I know exactly where I am”. 

 photos by cincooldesigns and jurvetson

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Easter Nest ©

Shinazy’s family Easter Nest tradition

easterMy mother loves the pageantry of holidays and celebrates with couture runway flair.  In my youth, when Easter approached, she would start the search for the next new outfit; for me it was time for another magical visit to the ancestral homestead in Colma.

Every year when the daffodils emerged from the dirt, I knew we would soon be shopping for the perfect dresses, bonnets, gloves, and shoes.  My two younger sisters and I – life size ‘Russian nesting dolls’ – would wait, hands folded in our laps, while shop ladies scurried about to find three identical suitable Easter dresses.

Although we did this every year, I only remember wishing that this year’s frock would be long enough to cover the scabs and bruises on my tomboy knees.  These shopping trips ended with the purchase of black patent leather strapped shoes called Mary Jane.  (I secretly called my shoes Sally, in honor of my former imaginary friend who moved away once my sisters were old enough for me to boss – but that’s another story.)

The purpose of these outfits was that we looked stylish for the Easter Parade, the annual spring photo shoot at my grandmother’s – Pauline, aka Gigs.

Before I was born, Uncle George decided that Easter needed more than just baskets and eggs sitting on the dining room table.  One year he returned from the yard with an armful of weeds that he lovingly arranged on the table; this was the start of my family’s Easter Nest.  When my generation increased in size, the nest moved to the front porch, where Aunt Judy decorated it with daffodils.

Every year, my sisters, brother, cousins, and I would stand in single file waiting for Gigs to adjust the focus and light meter on her cameras.  We would then parade past the Easter Nest, then pose around the nest, then pose with our baskets, then pose, and pose.  These movies and photos memorialize a tradition – a time in a family’s history – our Easter Parade.

Shinazy_BOBBblog_EasterNest_ALvin-egg-huntWhen my daughter was old enough to understand that the Easter Bunny delivered sugary goods and multicolored eggs, I continued the Easter Nest custom, sans, the clothes shopping excursion.  We lived in an apartment and had no lawn to mow or weeds to pull for the supply of nest building material; so coworkers would provide garbage bags filled with freshly cut green clippings.  The front door landing became the site for our first Easter Nest.  Some of my favorite holiday pictures of my daughter and son are the Easter Nest photos.

The Shinazy clan has produced another generation of wide-eyed cherub faces to smile at the wonder of the Easter Nest.  Although we no longer live within 20 miles of each other, continuing the tradition keeps the family connected and our stories carry on.

photo by danielle & shinazy

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Hiking Path ©

Hiking with Bobbi Rankin

hikingI hike, she runs.

The path I usually hike, in the foothills near my home, has become mundane.  I have the choice of at least 5 different routes I can trek over these beautiful tree covered hills, with sweeping views and roaming grasslands.  I’ve been hiking them for a few years and I’ve seen all this beauty from every possible angle.  I’m ready for some new adventure, new hills to climb, new vistas to find. Until one day last week, I brought my daughter along.

She’s a runner.  Her mother, that’s me, is a hiker/walker.  Because of the pace difference I was all of a sudden viewing this familiar area with a new set of eyes.  Immediately, she began to run circles around me.  Her motivation is get out there and get back, as quick as possible.  For me it’s quite different.  I place one foot methodically in front of another, pacing myself as I mosey on down the path.  She’d run way out in front of me then comes running back.  Back and forth, back and forth.  This method is being used so we can “spend time together”.

As she approaches, I’d comment on that amazing oat tree or try to draw her into looking at the view.  On and On I droll, not realizing that the runner is constantly looking at the ground and not enjoying the views, nor the flora and fauna.  That’s not why she runs.  The sheer pleasure of running in record time, is the personal goal of my daughter.  That quick and efficient way to exercise.  All in all I’m thankful that we really do enjoy each others company and we did enjoy the day.

hikingIn that process I began to see my mundane hiking trail from a different perspective.  My next trek to the foothills was met with a new vitality that had slipped away from me over time.  I began to hike those hills with a new energy and a feeling of freshness.

With this new realization of the beauty and views, I now see this path as a gift to me.  I have many ways I can enjoy the time I spend hiking.  I can look outward, catching as in a butterfly net, all this has to offer me.  I have a few friends that occasionally hike along with me.  We talk, laugh and listen to the stories we tell each other.  There are times I listen to my iPod.  I have moments where mindfulness is what I crave to restore and heal.  Walking through what I call the woodland chapel, now covered like a carpet of spring green clover, is my sanctuary.

This time I spend, a few days a week, hiking those hills is precious to me.  I relish the exercise it provides, the meditation I need and the time with friends.  All of this is valuable to keep me feeling young and vibrant.  My free outdoor hiking time is irreplaceable.  Want to join me?

photos by bobbi & shinazy

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Good Life ©

Shinazy honoring the a good life of her female relatives

good lifeComing from a long line of amazing women, I know the history of my great, great, grandmothers.  Over 6 generations, from these grand gals through to my daughter and niece, our stories have one thing in common:  A knack to live a good life.

Each of us stumbled upon something we claimed as our own.  Something to express a desire, a passion, a need.  Something where we stepped back and exhaled an “Ahh”, aware of internal warmth, reminiscent of the sun shining on our face as it does on the first day of Spring.

For my great grandmother, Grammy, her Something was her fairy-tale garden where she painted the landscape with trellises of ever blooming fragrances.  Here she constructed a wishing well and a pond surrounded by plants of exotic shapes.

My grandmother Nana grew rows of tulips and hedges of roses from every Mother’s Day floral bouquet she received. These were gardens where dandelions swirled and kept floating as if they knew their home was elsewhere.

Other women of my family sewed garments, created jewelry, restored vintage stain-glass, or baked pies.  Many traveled, attended classes, and wrote stories.  Some lived the word ‘dilatant’ and moved from passing inquisitiveness to fleeting curiosity.  And still others sat on the back porch with a bowl of green beans in their lap.  A good life, that Something, came in many forms and either changed or hibernated with time.

Over time, decades of time, Aunty Flo returned to her Something. To advance her career in the business world she stopped being a professional Hula dancer.  Upon retiring, she felt dance calling again.  She told me, at age 75 she walked into a studio, closed her eyes and saw herself as the young girl in the hand-made grass skirt.  Although, during the later lessons she struggled to rise from deep dips, for her to live a Good Life she had to dance.

good lifeWhen I talk of a Good Life I repeatedly use the word ‘nature’.  If I’m in the concrete city too long I yearn for the freedom of life without walls.  Being outside rejuvenates me.  When I connect with nature, I’m in harmony with . . . Every thing.  I see solutions and make corrections before I’m in too deep.  By the time my head touches my fluffed pillow I’m already dreaming.  Basically, I’m aware of my senses and all they offer.

Today, our senses offer us the Good Life.  Enjoy!

photos by family member & jim johnson

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Draggin’ Blankets ©

Cathy Reineke’s memories about her blankets

blanketsMy grandmother introduced us three kids to draggin’ blankets at an early age.

During the depression, she saved everything so mine was a mishmash of new polyester fabric.  Multitudes of clashing colors and textures zigged and zagged through its patchwork footprint.  The underside was a soft thick flannel that felt so good next to my face.

The term “draggin’ blankets: originated from my brother’s vocal insistence that these blankets had a sole purpose of being drug behind us whenever we journeyed out on adventures with our parents.

My draggin’ blanket wrapped around me and kept me safe and warm in many different venues.  It warmed me for all my naps.  I drug it in front of our old black and white TV to watch “The Wonderful World Of Disney” on Sunday nights.  But its most prized purpose was to take it to the drive-in on summer nights.

I was raised in Montana. Dusk came late in drive-in season.  My parents sat in the front seat of the old green Plymouth wagon and each of us kids were stretched out in the back with the rear seat folded down.  Underneath us, our draggin’ blankets outlined each kid’s space (not to be encroached upon).  It also provided an easy way for my father to scoop us up out of the back of the car upon our return home.  At that early age, we always fell fast asleep early in any movie giving our parents the bit of respite they enjoyed after a day of raising rambunctious and often squabbling children.

My draggin’ blanket has long since been discarded.  By the time it left my side in my late teens, it was in tatters, its flannel lining threadbare. Upon visiting my older brother last year, I saw he still had his draggin’ blanket some 50 years later slung over the back of a chair in his living room.  His dogs love it curling up on it for their naps after each one has jockeyed to own it for the evening.  He was 5 years older than me when he received his blanket from my grandmother.  Thus, his blanket did not suffer the wear we younger siblings inflicted upon ours.

blanetsRemembering the wonder, comfort and ownership of my draggin’ blanket, I have carried on my grandmother’s tradition. When a child is born into our family I make a draggin’ blanket for the new arrival.  Mine are made of durable and colorful fleece in the shape of turtles, caterpillars, and dinosaurs.

These blankets will last many years due to their sturdy construction. I hope some may even adorn dorm beds and be a conversation piece when friends stay overnight.  I include a letter with each new blanket telling the new arrival the blanket is warmth, love, and comfort for their lives ahead.

The oldest recipient of one of my draggin’ blankets is now six years old.  The other day, I received a picture of “Jack” from his father.  Jack is all curled up in his bed wrapped in his dinosaur blanket deep in slumber.  It is early morning and he had slept with it as his only blanket just as he has done every night for the past three years.

My grandmother is smiling somewhere knowing the next generation is carrying on her draggin’ blanket tradition.

 photos by chimothy and heidielliott

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Good Morning Teacher! ©

A Story by teacher, Mr. Will Jones

teacher

I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to visit Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most expansive and beautiful ancient Hindu temple complexes on earth.  As excited as I was about that visit, I was equally excited when I saw a poster on the wall of the Bliss Villa Guest House where I was staying offering guests the chance to teach English for a day at a small rural school operated by local Theravada Buddhist monks.  So after spending New Year’s Day on an astonishing tour of Angkor the World Wonder, I awoke the next day to an adventure at the Angkor Buddhist Organization School.

On the morning of January 2nd, my guest house host, two orange robed monks, and a traveling companion and I boarded noisy tuk-tuks and bumped along dusty red dirt roads for 30 minutes.  Habitations of all descriptions, vegetable gardens, rice paddies, cattle and water buffalo were the most prominent features of the landscape.  We arrived to find a small, open air pavilion and three dirt floor and palm frond walled classrooms on a narrow strip of land receding about 50 yards from the roadside.  Across the road was a rough field for recreation, and a palm roofed open walled kitchen where the locals prepared lunch for the monks.

After a brief orientation about the curriculum by the gentle, soft-spoken monks, I was escorted to my classroom.  The second I entered, roughly fifteen beautiful children ages 10-16 stood at attention, raised their hands in an attitude of prayer and respect, and, in perfect unison, greeted me: “Good morning teacher!  How are you?”  Imagine the smile that spread across my joyous face and the warmth that filled my heart at this greeting.  In all my years as a secondary English teacher and a high school administrator, I had never received such a warm welcome.

teacherWith a small instruction booklet, a dry erase marker, a beat up white board and a lot of imagination, I taught four forty-five minute English classes.  By the end of the day my students knew a lot about my family, the names of the items of clothes I was wearing, and in a leap of instructional faith, synonyms, like “pretty” and “lovely.”

I watched and smiled as eager students wrote names and phrases in their copy books, as they chanted rhymes about purple sneakers, as they giggled with delight when I overreacted comically to their mispronunciations or when I encouraged and rewarded them by drawing stars beside their work.  Sadly, I learned that the two beautiful young girls with shaved heads had recently lost their father, their appearance a part of their mourning.

My biggest reward came at the end of the day when the students gathered around to thank me and ask if I would be their teacher the next day.  No, I said, but thank you.  I will remember you forever.

photo by will jones

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Being a Mavericks Surfer ©

A Story by Shinazy

mavericks, surferI’m peering through binoculars at dots bobbing up and down.  I see them in between one-inch high waves at the Mavericks Surf Competition.  Then something happens … The Wave emerges.   A surfer propels himself down the face of a 30-foot giant aqua-blue wall.  The top of the wave folds like a used Thanksgiving napkin and the surfer disappears into The Tube, swallowed.  My breathing stops, anticipating, will the athlete reappear?

While waiting my mind wanders to my first athletic endeavor and that of every city girl with a piece of chalk in her hand . . . hopscotch.  Yes, the children’s sidewalk game where we balance and jump on one leg, instinctively calculating ballistics before we toss our marker into poorly drawn squares.  Hopscotch, a sport for strong, skilled athletes.

We trained for years.  In just over 13 months, from our birth, we mastered synchronizing our feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips, spine, arms, shoulders, and head to move from one set of embracing arms to the outreached arms a short distance in front of us.  Over the next year we completed our first marathon over kitchen floors and living room carpets.  Some of us incorporated stair repeats.  Once we ran, we never stopped.  We were endurance toddlers.

Our training continued, constantly climbing the ladder on our favorite slide and using our abs to navigate the slope, ensuring we stayed within the low, cold, metal lips.  By kindergarten we were jumping rope.

mavericks, surgerWith every contest we competed against ourselves as well as the reigning first grade champion.  We desired to be in first place.  We practiced and played with determination to win.

It’s also during this time we risked bodily harm.  We were fearless when we wrote to Santa – we’re ready – we needed a two-wheel bike.  Those first days without training wheels frequently resulted in scraped knees and bruised elbows.  But we continued; we must learn this skill.  With nerves and experience we soon used our power and peddled, alone, to our friend’s house.

As the lone surfer emerges, he flips the nose of his board and starts to paddle out into open water to try again.

Try again.

It never crosses the surfer’s mind to head for the safety of the shore.  It was the same for us when we were kids.  Someone might say comparing Mavericks to hopscotch is comparing the sun to birthday candles.  Nay, I say.  Sometime in our lives, we, too, had athletic skills that represented equal ferocity.  Today is the surfer’s day and the waves his playground.

photos by creativeage and knapjack

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