asakiyume: (good time)






I'm just back from a truly wonderful visit to Nova Scotia. I have so much to catch up with from everyone here! I had absolutely no Internet whatsoever, so it'll take time, but in the meantime, I wanted to share--just as a start--photos of the good cheer evident in every town we visited. Today marks Canada's 150th birthday! There were flags and red-and-white balloons and streamers everywhere, as well as a special flag representing Canada's multicultural heritage. (And, although Canada, like the United States, has its share of shame for various cultural conflicts, what we saw everywhere were efforts to include and listen to everyone--so encouraging.)

We got so into it, we put flags on our dashboard for the drive back across the border.

Happy 150 Canada

Happy Birthday, Canada! Canadian friends, you have an excellent country.

Happy 150 Canada

Happy 150 Canada Happy 150 Canada Happy 150 Canada Happy 150 Canada


asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)
The other day I went to a high school graduation, but today was graduation for the people in the special program I help out in. There's some overlap between the two graduations, but a lot of today's graduates were not at the high school graduation.

I was standing near the front to try to take some photos, and who should I find at my left elbow at one point but the young mayor of Holyoke! I blurted out, "You're one of my heroes," and then told him the story of the girl pointing him out with pride to her relative.

He spoke at this graduation, too, said he felt especially close to this program because of his own parents: his mom dropped out of high school because she was pregnant, and his father dropped out too. In her forties, his mother went back to school and got her GED, and then--even though she had never thought it would be possible--she went on to become a nurse.

Two former graduates spoke about what they were doing now (one is in a transition-to-college program and one is in college)--they said that whenever they have something they don't understand, they come back in to get help from the teachers here. Then several of the students spoke. One talked about how he thought he was going to have to drop out of the program because he couldn't find childcare for his son, but the staff wouldn't let him--they had him bring his son along. Another spoke about dropping out of school and then getting in trouble with the law and thinking he wouldn't be allowed back because he had an ankle bracelet police monitor device on, and being welcomed by the teachers. I saw the mayor wiping tears from his eyes.

And this time, I got pictures. I don't feel free to share them, but believe me: they are beautiful.


Blessings

Jun. 6th, 2017 04:38 pm
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Last week I went to the graduation of one of the high school students I'd been tutoring. The high school she was at has a history of low performance, which probably contributed to the huge joy and sense of celebration in the air for this ceremony. Everybody was really, really rooting for these kids; each one represents a huge victory for everyone--the kids themselves, the families, the teachers, the whole community.

That sense of community spirit! The very young mayor of the city was there, and when he got up to speak, a girl sitting in front of me--maybe eleven or twelve years old--said to her older relative with pride, "Do you see him? He's our mayor." I have never lived in a place where a little kid would be that enthusiastic for a local politician.

Afterward, I had to walk a few blocks to get to where I had parked, and on my way back I couldn't stop smiling. A guy coming the other direction said to me, "God bless you sister," as we passed, and I did feel blessed.
asakiyume: (Hades)
The reason I feel anxious when I dump off my papers in the paper recycling dumpster is because people like me will see interesting items and pull them out--as I did, yesterday. I was attracted by the fancy handwriting. The book in which it had been inscribed was falling apart, but I grabbed the first few pages to situate the dedication.

Erle Stanley Garnder to Frances G. Lee

It might have been hard to decipher the name of the person who was making the inscription if it didn't happen to be ... the author of the novel!

copyright page

Although he was writing under one of his many pseudonyms:

title page

I thought the name "Erle Stanley Gardner" sounded somehow familiar--and a Google search told me that yes, indeed: he was the creator of Perry Mason and many other mysteries. Regarding his writing, the Thrilling Detective website says, "Although critics sneered and many felt that Erle Stanley Gardner was not a very good writer ... Gardner was one of the best selling writers of all times, and certainly one of the best-selling mystery authors ever."

Erle Stanley Gardner


source

Armed with this knowledge, and with some effort (and invaluable aid from Wakanomori), I take the dedication to read,

To my friend and
instructor
Capt. Frances G. Lee -- Trooper Gardner reporting.
With all my love
Erle
Stanley Gardner
June 1958

So who was Captain Frances--female spelling--G. Lee?

Well! She turns out to be Frances Glessner Lee, whom Wikipedia tells us is the "mother of forensic science"!

She had to wait until she was 52 to embark on the career for which she became famous, but at that point she inherited a fabulous fortune that enabled her to pursue her studies and endow departments of legal medicine, police science, and a library.

Further, Wikipedia tells us that "for her work, Lee was made an honorary captain in the New Hampshire State Police in 1943, making her to first woman to join International Association of Chief of Police."

a picture of her

source

And, Erle Stanley Gardner dedicated several novels to her.

... and somehow one that he'd sent to her himself, with an inscription, ends its life in a recycling dumpster in my town. I wonder who owned the book?

an extra, on prisons )

In any case: not your everyday find!


asakiyume: (holy carp)






Behold the powerful falls at the Holyoke dam. Holyoke Gas and Electric generates power here.



This dam is a barrier to fish that need to get upstream to spawn. There have been various means of solving this problem, but at present it's a literal elevator, a huge mechanism powered by giant turbines and with great chains that lift boxes of water, packed with fish, up above the falls. Yesterday Wakanomori and I went to see it--a marvelous experience!

It has very cute signposts:
Enter Fishway

In the informational room, there's a diagram that shows how the elevator works. You can see the giant turbines:

How the elevator works

And a tally of how many fish have been lifted: yesterday was a record for American shad. (In the colonial days, they used to say that when the shad were running, you could walk across the Connecticut river on their backs.)

Fish elevator totals

photos and videos of fish, people watching fish, people fishing, and massive machinery )


a rescue

May. 12th, 2017 11:16 am
asakiyume: (bluebird)
I saw a pickup truck pulled up on the opposite side of the road from me as I was driving to do the recycling. As I neared the spot, I saw a catbird just sitting in the road ahead of me, not moving. The burly guy in the pickup truck said, "There's a bird in the road."

I stopped. The guy's lanky companion, who was outside the truck, approached the catbird with a jacket in his hands, to pick it up gently and without touching it. Just as he was about to, the bird fluttered off the road and into the long grass and dandelions. "He tricked me!" said the lanky guy. The guy in the truck shrugged his shoulders and laughed.

I drove on, really happy that those two guys--going in the opposite direction--were willing to stop and help out a catbird in need, even if in the end the catbird declined the offer. IRL goodness.

portales

Mar. 15th, 2017 08:17 pm
asakiyume: (Iowa Girl)






The high school volunteering I do isn't actually in a high school, it's at a special program for kids who have to amass a fair number of credits in a short period of time in order to graduate, and it's on the third floor of a downtown building. It shares space with a program for adults who never got their high school diploma, who are catching up on education and passing a high school equivalency test.

The program director had these little scenes hanging on her wall. She told me they're portales--representations of storefronts doorways (but a lot are storefronts; those are the ones I especially liked)--which are a folk craft. Hers come from Puerto Rico and Ecuador.



Here are some of them up close. If you can turn yourself small, you can go into them, and you'll find yourself in the actual place. I think. I mean, it stands to reason, right?





I said it would be fun to make those for storefronts here, and she said, "Wouldn't it! And our students would love it; they're so creative. I can't tell you how many times I've written grants for arts-related things, but we never win them."


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