OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Vsetín, Zlinsky Kraj, Česká republika)- I’m an orphan. Well, I wasn’t always an orphan because at one time I did have a mom and a dad, although sometimes I thought I was the Star Child born from some cosmic “big bang” and was secretly a prince dropped into a crazy family on earth by mistake. I guess such feelings of grandiosity and self-importance sometimes filter into a few American psyches even today. I was the last (and best looking) of six children from an Irish-American family. Being the cutest of all, I got away with most things up to but not including murder. I do have my standards after all. My mom worked as an elementary school teacher for most of her life, taking odd jobs here and there to put food on the table. She taught me right and wrong and  if I wanted to go to heaven I should not play with protestant kids. She had opinions, strong opinions which were never questioned until late in her life. She was decent and taught me to show charity to others, except, of course, protestant kids. By the way some of my best friends, but secretly of course, from our neighborhood in ’50’s San Francisco were protestants. I’m sure she knew. She always knew. I couldn’t get away with anything. Watching her get ready for her classes each night after feeding us reenforced my notion that I didn’t want to be a teacher. As it turned out, three out of the six became teachers, my oldest sister with special ed, my oldest brother taught elementary school and I taught high school. As much as I thought, being a prince and all, that I should really be in the movie industry I always came back to teaching. It has been a good gig and I have no regrets. Today I still hear her voice in my head from time to time. It gives me pause and then I move on. I still miss her though and that hole left where she used to be will probably stay with me forever. So thanks mom, for comforting me during earthquakes and standing up for me with some of my teachers and trying to give me what I though I wanted through the years. And especially thanks for the sense of humor and  giving me an ability to laugh at myself that has saved me through constant battles, mistakes and various confusions over the years. It’s good to be silly and I learned it from the master-ess.

At this writing, two more boxes adding up to three are on their way back to California. It was still a sad task, but I did it. I think I mentioned last week, that the pace of these days since the beginning of May have picked up and are starting to move rapidly. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. It just is. Every moment I spend either with friends or students is being cherished. But like all solo experiences, it will be very difficult to tell the folks back home exactly what these people and events were all about and what they meant to me. All things being equal, I wish my whole family could come over and we would walk around saying “Dobrý den” to people I have met. Then they would understand. So the next best thing is having my pictures to look at and feelings I remember in my head when I do look at them. The explanations will lose a lot in translation and people will smile and nod but not have a clue what I experienced. But I will try. That’s all I can do.

Yesterday, Saturday, two students from my Tuesday night class, Iva and Robert, took me to two ski sites, Velké

Iva, Me and Robert
Iva, Me and Robert

Karlovice with it’s old wooden church and Kohútka. It was a pleasant relaxing afternoon with the two of them and cannot thank them enough for their generosity in schlepping me around.  At the first place we had lunch in the ski chalet and at the second place I had a huge blueberry dumpling. Absolutely scrumptious. Since we are in the middle of Spring, the various shades of green on the hillsides glowed in the sunlight. It was magnificent. The second site, Kohútka, is located on top of a mountain right on the Czech/Slovak border. We ran into a wedding party and they had set up for the ceremony outside under the trees overlooking the distant hills and forests. Beautiful location. What was interesting was where the bride and groom were was in the Czech Republic and where the guests were seated was in Slovakia. Of course I kept jumping back and forth over the border like an idiot saying “I’m in Czech. I’m in Slovak. I’m in Czech.” You get the idea. How does one explain that to the folks back home? But if you knew my mother, it would be perfectly understandable…

and so it goes…