Thursday, August 15, 2013

Letters From Camp..... Are You My Mother????

Dear Mom and Dad,
You should have seen us for these couple of life changing days!
I walked out the front door toward the driveway one morning and almost jumped when I caught a very fluffy baby bird sitting in the rain gutter out of the corner of my eye. I  jumped (you know how I feel about birds) realized it wouldn't hurt me and kept going to the car. I didn't tell the kids about it because I thought for sure the boys would race over to it and want to hold it, feed it, pet it, and bring it inside to keep with the stuffed animals.

We were in and out all day and then finally home by about 4. The bird managed to move itself from sun to shade throughout the day. He (we just started to call it a he) seemed healthy, was able to move his head, hop around and his wings seemed to be sitting exactly where they should have been on his body. By 5:30 I went to my neighbor's house as she is the expert on helping lost animals. We discussed feeding it, getting a box for it for the night, taking it to a shelter, everything but leaving it up to nature and waiting for the parents to show. Finally the guy at Petco helped me.  "Just Google it and see what comes up," he said, much more calmly than I felt. Why didn't I think of that? Oh right, I was panicking.

I Googled (a few years ago, that wasn't even a word). It turned out that this was a fledgling and most likely in the process of learning to fly with his parents close by and watching. Not 5 minutes after my research, Momma bird showed up and fed Baby bird. Then (and this was amazing) she coaxed the baby bird to fly up to the top of the railing by the stairs, so it would be safe for the night. Ok, so the bird could fly, but not very far and yes, the parents were close by. Apparently, they were just as worried as I was about creatures wanting a little Dove for dinner during the night.

Over the course of the next day, we watched Baby bird closely and listened for the parents. The kids were as glued to the windows as I was and we all took on new walking patterns so as to not disturb Baby bird. The parents showed up in the afternoon and were everywhere from my roof to the walkway. Night was approaching and as much as we wanted to help, it would have been worse for the baby.

As a mother, I have never felt quite so helpless (except during wrestling meets). As an observer of nature, I felt ever so grateful to see, in person, how much they resemble people. The Baby bird has been back just once; I think he feels comfortable in our flower beds, and flying here from the tree.  And now, when I hear the doves from the wires and trees around our house, it just sounds different.

So I have to ask: did P.D. Eastman witness something similar before writing Are You My Mother? I should look that up.

Talk soon.

Sadly, summer ends soon, and so will my Letters From Camp. If you could write to someone who would it be?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Letters From Camp.... Remember The Time......

Dear Mom and Dad,
Remember when Valerie Seeley was new in the neighborhood (I can't even remember where she lived) and the family she was living with was moving back to Antigua (or something like that) and I begged for her to be able to stay and live with us? And remember when I came home from Switzerland after the Caux program and asked if Wolfgang could stay with us during part of his visit to America? A friend of mine, or maybe it was some personality test, said that I was a "fixer." I liked to fix things. I like to think of that as more of a helper. In those situations at least, there was no fixing, just helping a friend.  Well, I'm back at it again. Maybe I should have been a nurse, or my other favorite fantasy profession, an engineer. But, I digress. Back to helping. Mom, as a history major, you'll really appreciate this, I think.
My book coach, Anna Olswanger, had a children's book published last year called Greenhorn. Not sure what a greenhorn is? Neither was I.

Greenhorn: n., an inexperienced person, a novice, beginner or newcomer, according to 

In 1946 Daniel was an orphaned holocaust survivor who was sent to yeshiva (an elementary school where students learn both Jewish and secular subjects) in Brooklyn, NY. His sole possession, a small silver tin, is also his only link to life before Brooklyn. Daniel doesn’t speak English, knows no American customs, and has no family but embarks on a life journey where he learns of friendship and trust. Aaron, his first friend, stutters his way through defending the Greenhorn who has joined the school. What’s in the tin? Why is it so important? How does it connect Daniel to the life he fled?

These questions, and the miracle of hope, are explored in the book, Greenhorn, by Anna Olswanger. Based on the true story as told by Rabbi Rafael Grossman, portrayed by Aaron in the book, it is one which like so many others will eventually only be able to be told through books and movies. Olswanger first heard this story from Rabbi Grossman more than 30 years ago while on a family trip to Israel with her synagogue. Touching and true, she felt it was “important and wanted to write it so the story would live on
The tin, and more importantly the secret object inside it, are also a source of history. According to Anna, post-World War II many Jews believed the Nazis mass produced soap made from human fat. While not a Holocaust expert, her research found that the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig/Gdansk, did experiment with making soap from human fat. Inside Daniel’s tin is a small bar of soap, described as sticky and greasy. When the box is stolen and the soap is discovered, Daniel’s attachment to it is revealed, “Maybe fat from mama in soap. Maybe fat from papa . . .,” Daniel says in the story.

Here's the cool part about the book and Anna's project:

Greenhorn’s story of friendship, hope, and a bit of history is one that Anna is currently looking to share with a much broader audience. Her goal, along with screenwriter Ree Howell and director Tom Whitus, is to develop the book into a 40 minute independent film to be submitted ultimately, for an Academy Award. Tom Whitus believes that making it into a film will help reach a broader audience “in a way a book cannot.”  “The point of the book,” Anna said, “is friendship. Aloneness. One object connecting [Daniel] to a lost family and human beings connecting with each other.” There is an information page for the film which of course gives more technical information than I can put in your letter. They are trying to raise $18,000 to produce the film.
 As a lover of art and independent films, I knew you'd love this Mom. It's a very cool story on several levels. Feel free to spread the word and I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to seeing this at the Clairidge one day. I'll write more later.
This summer I'm writing letters from camp to my parents as a fun way to share with them what's happening in my life. Who would you write a letter to?


Monday, August 5, 2013

Letters From Camp: I Think I Started Something

Dear Mom,

I think I started something- but don't worry, it's a good thing. Not a Martha Stewart Good Thing, but a reading related book kind of good thing. That was a mouthful. Anyway......
My favorite, Forever, by Pete Hamill
Last week I learned how to have two open screens on my Surface after seeing it done in a commercial. This is the best thing ever! As I write you this letter, I have Twitter open on the side of my screen, with a live feed (this means that I see Tweets as they happen). A couple of days ago, I saw a tweet from Ame Dyckman, a children's book author who I have met and often have little Twitter chats with. She's hysterical and comes up with some crazy ideas.

That morning Ame's Tweet was something to the effect of: I wish there was a day when you could just walk around holding your favorite book. So I replied (via Twitter): Let's make one!

I suggested October 23, 2013, just 6 months after World Book Night. Here's the beauty of social media. Other Tweeps (Twitter people) started chiming in saying they were on board, adding the date to their calendar, suggesting ideas for art so we can make a badge (those little things on the side bar of my blog) and ultimately spread the word. Now there's  #ShowABookDay on Twitter and about 7-10 people committed to participating, gathering kids to show their favorite books, and have some fun. Julie Falatko suggested a bunch of people standing with their arms up holding a book (instead of a boom box) like John Cusak in Say Anything. You might not have actually seen that movie, but all of us 80s kids have an immediate visual. :) Either way, we're all excited!

Mom, mark the date on your calendar- 10/23/13 and you can walk around holding your favorite book. What would it be? I put mine above. Isn't this a cool idea?

I'll write more later,

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Letters From Camp- The Kick Off

Summer is busy when you have kids.
I think we'll go berry picking soon!
It's a different kind of busy compared to the school year but I'm thankful for two things:
 1) no homework and 2) all three kids can swim. *throwing confetti*
Oddly enough, I find I have even less time to talk to my parents and check in during the summer, which may or may not have something to do with constantly being surrounded by my kids. So, last summer I started writing them letters via this blog. It seemed like a good way to communicate and works well with my schedule. As I'm writing this, it's almost midnight, and I expect they are both sleeping. I should be too, come to think of it. Alas, let the letters begin, with all the things I would tell them if we had hours and hours to hang out and chat poolside.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I'm back and writing my letters from camp for the summer. It's phase II of summer- camp season. 2/3 of my kids are away, the rush of swim team season is over and I'm finding myself more anxious than ever to get to the mail box each day. Whether it's to receive a letter from the kids, or send one, my mornings revolve around my mailbox. Sure beats the lunchbox!
Once I'm past the mailbox, it's off to the bookshelf. I just finished Kimberly McCreight's novel, Reconstructing Amelia. Wow. As a lover or mysteries, this was incredible, right to the last page. Then, I got all teary- which I rarely do when reading. As a mother, I couldn't stop thinking of all the times I've said to my own kids, "can we please talk about this later?" For Amelia and her mother, that was a terrible mistake. When everyone's back, I promise to not get so caught up in the rushing around.  So, that's one down on the bookshelf.
I'm on to Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial; one of the first non-fiction books I've read in a while. There was so much happening with hurricane Katrina I was unaware of that August. The book isn't officially out yet, I have an advance copy from Crown Publishing, but I promise to tell you more about it when I finish.
Everyone here has been talking about the heat. It hasn't bothered me too much beyond being annoying. Dad, this is the part where I thank you for never putting central air in our house and keeping the air conditioners off until it was 100 degrees at night for a whole week. :) I know how to deal.
That's all for now. I'll keep writing you letters, so keep an eye on your mailbox inbox.

If you could write letters to someone during the summer, to whom would you write? Have you ever rushed to your mailbox looking for a letter?