Saturday, March 05, 2011

Hippo at the Spa

Recently when I went to Animal Kingdom with my granddaughters and daughter, they went off to a high speed rollercoaster while I slowly trekked around a nature area where I was able to see exotic birds freely flying in an large enclosed area, as well as colorful fish, ducks, gorillas, and a hippo at a spa.

Take a good look at the pictures. This lovely hippo is napping while multicolored fish are pecking at her dermis. If you look closely you will see she is leaning her head on the boulder while her front legs are dangling in the air. What from a distance look like her eyes, are in reality her ears and her eyes closer to the front are shut. Occasionally, she would release a barrage of bubbles from her nostrils just to let us know she was still alive. Don't think of disturbing her, though because an angry hippo is everything but pleasant. So let's let this sleeping hippo lie, won't we?

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Surprised by an ex-Student Ten Years Later

I was under the weather yesterday and called in for a sub. So a sub came and today after about two meetings finally reached my classroom and found a folded letter on my desk with my name written large across it.

It was a lovely letter from my sub telling me how well it went in my classes and that he had been my student ten years earlier at Discovery Middle School. It was 2001, the year of nine eleven and he was an eighth grader, and he wrote me a nice letter thanking me for making an impact in his life. He also apologized for his behavior, typical of 8th graders and thanked me for being patient with him.

I have to tell you there are days that teachers really appreciate those kind of messages. Today, God bless you, son, it was one of those days.

Missy Vazquez

STS- 133 Behind the Trees

These photos were supposed to accompany the article about the Discovery taking off last week and for some reason they didn't come out. So here they are. Discovery is shooting up into the sky with a flaming golden tail behind it. It quickly rises and goes quickly up beyond view.Posted by Picasa

Discovery STS-133

Si quieren ver unas fotos maravillosas del Trasbordador Discovery en su ultimo vuelo al espacio, pueden verlas en el enlace a continuacion Es un articulo del Orlando Sentinel, el periodico de mas circulacion en Orlando.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Stories for Mom

My mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's though I don't agree. I prefer to think it is dementia, because I can have lovely conversations with my mother several times a week, and upon hearing my voice she immediately recognizes who it is and greets me happily. I don't want anyone writing me long argumentative remarks to the contrary. It is simply my opinion and really has no bearings to what I am going to relate in a few minutes.

Once I saw a documentary on Alzheimer's/Dementia patients who resided in a nursing home where the staff was committed to increasing the patients happiness level by including high quality high context materials and activities for their patients. Some of these activities actually helped the patients increase their cognitive abilities or kept them from further decline, not to mention it improved their quality of life. Adding color and activities helped patients not to lose further memory and contact with reality.

Since I am not in Puerto Rico, my visits are mostly by phone, so whenever I talk to my mom, I try to keep the conversations about things she enjoys and delve into those topics. Sometimes we talk about Naranjito and family who has long been departed and share pleasant memories about things she did there or what nice things I remember as a child such as visiting her cousin's house down the steep slope a quarter of a mile down the road close to the river or walking to El Salto, the natural pool tucked away behind tio Arturo's house. We might talk about the vegetables and plants surrounding the house where she grew up. Plants like platanos, guineos, chinas valencias, the best juicy grapefruits dark green to ripe yellow, or even rice and tobacco. The soil is still fertile.

She might mention La Vega, La Vega honda, or La Laja, or how she would go racing up a hill with her two lively brothers, Angel and Victor, right after lunch, to see that huge mango tree outstretched on the top of the hill or the ocean. This ocean in which she loved swimming. So contrary to many Puertorriqueños in the past who wouldn't venture into the water exclaiming, "El tiburon que me vaya a comer tiene que salir de la ducha." Roughly translated means that the shark that is going to eat me has to come through the shower head meaning that they were going to stay out of the water. No, my mother swam like a fish.

But today, I was telling her a story and she loved it. I've taken a liking to a series titled, "Wind at my Back," which is filmed in Canada and portrays life there in the late 1930's and early 1940's. Though it takes place in the forties in Canada, my mother is very familiar with that era, when she was young, beautiful, healthy, and fighting to survive like many Canadians, Americans, and Puerto Ricans during the Great Depression. My mother has always been a survivor and she was touched by the story line which depicts a time of which she is keenly aware. I was so surprised by how she was following along as I was telling her the stories. Unfortunately I had had a long day at work and my throat was sore, but I promised her that each time I call I will tell her a different story from the series. She was so excited. Just like we tell stories to children, she wanted to be told a story. Believe it or not, I am looking forward to this time together to tell her some stories that will inspire and affirm her since she has experienced many of these hardships herself.

There might be some lessons there for me, I am sure.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Animal Kingdom with Family

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Animal Kingdom

Last week, I was fortunate enough to get to visit Animal Kingdom for the first time with my daughter and two granddaughters. After living here in Central Florida for over 15 years, I did it ! It was so not "Disney." By that I mean, the setting seemed so natural, though it was obvious, it had been carefully designed, in that it had paths, restaurants, but each area was typical of other parts of the world it represented. The rock formations, also seemed natural by being surrounded by lush vegetation. There is something for everyone.

The first picture has to do with the girls just hanging out and the others with a lovely bird show. This bird show was unlike, Parrot Jungle, where birds perform unnatural tricks while in Animal Kingdom the birds flew over the audience in all their splendor. It was mesmerizing; you won't want to miss it!