Sunday, September 6, 2015

Labor Day Weekend is for Family

      Facebook has added a new feature.  If you would like, it will give you notifications of what you posted each date however many years ago.  Roland, Jenna and I had spent the day driving and spending time with friends in McMinnville. I happened to check facebook with only an hour left on September 5th - or else I would have missed reminiscing some great posts of years past.

      In 2010 I posted that I enjoyed spending the day playing games with the family.  At that point Bill and Kayla were not married.  Corey and Kayla were both at home and Roland and I decided to visit.  Patrick's family had also come.  They were about to leave to go home and make dinner, but I had actually made a huge chicken salad sandwich which I had put on a loaf of French bread and cut it into pieces, but there was still plenty left for Patrick's family.

      Ellen and Candy loved the chicken salad and ate it all up.  I was happy that I didn't have to take any leftovers home.  I was grateful too for the extra time it had given us to play games.  I have always enjoyed playing games with the family.

      One year later I had posted how much I enjoyed the Walden Family reunion. I was introduced to the Walden family after Jenna had turned one.  They are related to the boys by their mother.  Very hospitable people (mentioned in this post

      Jenna, Biff and I had planned on going to the reunion in 2013 but for whatever reason did not go.  Labor Day was on September 2nd.  Mom had gone into the hospital on the 1st.   I was scheduled to teach a class to the youth.  I heard my phone go off during my lesson.  I knew it was about mom. 

      On September 5, 2013 I posted the following: "This post is for those interested in the welfare of [June Cannon] - who was doing so spectacular before Sunday morning, and a freak fall sent her to the hospital. . She is now in hospice at St. Marks room 3W21. They are making her as comfortable as possible. Those who would like the details can message me and I will let you know. Or if you are friends with [Peggy] or [Corey] you can learn more details on their fb pages."  Still with family - but not a fun way. My mom passed away five days later.

      This year Roland will work on Labor day this year. He will take off Wednesday - which is our anniversary. Celebrations this year won't include the same group of people. Two of my sibs remain in Utah, one in Las Vegas. 

      On Saturday we went to McMinnville to spend some time with Beth and Graham - who loaded our trunk with food.  Graham also parted with the clarinet he had played which had remained in the closet since their arrival in McMinnville.  So Roland and Jenna are able to practice together - even if Jenna leaves her instrument at school. Here are a few of the pictures that we took.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Opportunities, Pros & Cons

            We all make decisions.  Each choice we make has consequences whether good or bad as mentioned in this post

            When we were living in Utah, Jenna had the opportunity of learning Spanish through the dual immersion program.  While some parts of Oregon offer this same program, the particular county we live in doesn’t offer any foreign language until high school.  I really did not wish to pull her out of the program.  She’s no longer learning Spanish at school, but she does have other opportunities here that she did not have in Utah.

            She would not have been enrolled in band while in the sixth grade.  We may not have been able to afford the instrument.  We have the opportunity to do so here. 

            There is only one elective at her school.  We had to do away with crafts in order to keep her in band.  She loves crafts.  She has an opportunity to do crafts at the youth center she attends after school.  In Utah we couldn’t afford the after school activities.  The state of Oregon pays for her after school activity here in Douglas County.  For that, I am very grateful.

            When I post this to my blog, Jenna and her classmates (entire school really) will be at the Memorial Pool for their first-week-of-school celebration.  Can you imagine?  We never did that in Utah.  There was an activity at the end of the year. Certainly not a kick off for Labor Day weekend – which for her starts in less than 20 minutes.  She will then have the next four days off.  So what was the point of starting just four days before?

            There are certainly things that I’ll miss about the opportunities she had in education while we were living in the Granite School District.  I am grateful for the new opportunities that she will have here. 

            It rained yesterday, and though we really do need the rain and it is greatly appreciated, I’m happy that there is enough sunshine for the children to enjoy the pool right now.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Happy Anniversary – You’re Outta Here!

Just off of I5 sits Myrtle Creek. There is a Dairy Queen near the freeway’s exit. My first introduction was on June 5th when sweet Denise drove me back from Roseburg to Myrtle Creek so that I could secure the property where I currently live.  We ate at the Dairy Queen before we went back to Roseburg and parted ways.  (See this post)

Roland and Jenna also visited the same Dairy Queen just a week later.  We’ve been there a few times, but not often.  Occasionally Roland has surprised Jenna and me with DQ treats that he’s picked up when he’s been out driving – or as with this photo from this post

Jenna and I have enjoyed Dilly Bars, ice cream cones and peanut butter parfaits.  It now appears that our ice cream treats may be a thing of the past – at least for the remainder of this year.  

Yesterday we decided we would go to DQ for Family Home Evening – eat a little something – listen to Jenna tell us about her first day.  A sign on the marquee said:

Closing Aug 31st
Reopening Nov 1st


         The DQ that has been a part of this town since 1949 (although not named DQ until a later date) New ownership wants to call it: Tommy’s All American Burgers.


         We had no clue that when we went to the DQ, it would be for the last time – not by choice, but because it was the last day it would be opened under that name. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Safe Place

      Jenna's Utah friends have been in school for two weeks.  Her first day was today.  I told her not to be nervous as all of those who attend Coffenberry today will all be new to the school.  6th graders start middle school.  I think she was excited and nervous.

     The bus picks up at 7:00 a.m.  We left the house early, not quite knowing where the bus stop is.  We crossed the street and waited - hoping that there would be at least one other student who would know if we were standing in the correct spot.  Close enough.

     Fall is in the air - finally.  Some trees have started to turn.  For the first time we saw rain yesterday.  We've been praying for rain.  Rain without lightening. Our county has been in extreme fire danger since we moved here.  Everybody has told us that the summers have never been as hot as this one has. 

I think the hill behidg this house looks like a large haystack

     This morning seemed more promising of cooling off as there was a thick fog hanging over the hills.  I hadn't seen that since we had stayed in McMinnville earlier in April.  So happy to see that again.  We really need the moisture.

It has been smokey, but this is a fog from the river (I'm guessing)

    She forgot her clarinet.  I had planned on stopping by the school to pay for lunch.  I left her clarinet at the front office.  It was still there when I picked her up.  Band was not a part of her schedule.  I went back to the office to find out why.  There was an error and her schedule will change tomorrow.  She'll no longer have crafts.  How sad.  She doesn't want to be in band anyway - especially at the expense of crafts.

     I've been keeping a journal for Jenna since before she was born.  Before she turned ten, I figured she could continue writing on her own.  Often, getting her to write anything is as has proved challenging - though I don't know why.  She's very creative.

     On the last Wednesday in August, we went to a youth center which I discovered as a supplement for after school.  At first she was not at all excited about the idea of going, but went from "being forced to attend at least once a week" to "I'm going everyday"

     We'd gone there for an open house and she received a journal in a raffle - a journal she has actually written in every day since she brought it home.  YEAH!!!!  I'm certain she will have tons to write about now that she's home.

cover of Jenna's new journal

     The fire sign needle had been changed to Moderate.  I don't know if that's for real or if it was an ignorant prank.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Weeding Out the Thorns - both Literally and Figuratively

        Recently I posted to facebook that I really LOVE Oregon - but did not give details. One friend who lives in Oregon asked for details.  I answered her in a private message. I have many friends and family in Utah who may not share my feelings about the hoop-jumping that so many have to deal with in the state of Utah that I did not want to post my number one reason why I like living in Oregon.  I love being in Oregon because it isn't Utah - or more specifically Salt Lake City. I guess it's wrong of me to judge the entire state by just one county.

        Thus far I have not had to jump any hoops - not even to get a driver's license or state plates.  Nor did I have to wait.  I have been treated like a person and not just a number.  I count!  I may have counted in Utah, but I didn't feel like I did.  Especially when it came to voting.  Seriously.  Utah's a Republican state.  Overall I am not.  I vote for the man, not the party.  Often I actually vote against someone. 

        I grew up on the east side of Salt Lake.  I never questioned the government or political issues or even the PTA.  I suppose I just didn't know any better.  I grew up quite naive and though I knew about existing situations - I didn't think I knew any of those circumstances personally.  And then I married Roland and was introduced to deceit and corruption - not by him, necessarily - but by poorly run systems that failed us.  The systems, quite frankly, fail many.  And I know it's everywhere and not just in Utah. That still doesn't make it right.

        I didn't have to deal with thorns on the east side, but the west side was full of thorns - or perhaps it was just in those neglected neighborhoods that we could actually afford.  While the flower itself seems harmless, it has to be mowed or weeded immediately in its yellow stage - otherwise it becomes a vine of thorns which attach themselves to footwear and thus gets tracked in the house.  And it doesn't seem to matter how much I sweep or vacuum, the thorns are always there - on the floor, in the carpet, on the furniture . . . I've had them attach themselves to my socks.  I didn't dare to go barefoot indoors - let alone outdoors. 

        Our grass has always been dry - no matter how much we tend to water it.  Even when it has been green, there are always patches of brown - except for the green stems that bring the thorns.  Our lawn has always been ugly.  Even here.  It is dry.  The cost of water has gone up.  Only a few of our neighbors have green grass.  Most lawns are dry and ugly.  But I can still go outside in my bare feet.  I don't have to wear shoes to take the garbage to the curb or run out to the garage or pick the mail up across the street.  For the most part, I do.  For the most part I wear some kind of footwear because I'm in the habit.  But I don't have to anymore.  The yellow weed flowers in Oregon don't turn into thorns.  This is a good thing.

        I miss the Salt Lake County library system.  I miss having access to public transportation - though it was not always reliable, it was better than whatever may be offered in this county.  There are some things I miss about Utah.  But overall I am happy that I am no longer a resident of Salt Lake.  I really do like it here in Oregon.     

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Emotional Reader

            After finishing "The Rent Collector" by Cameron Wright, I started "Letters for Emily", by the same author.

     While I did not care for the story itself, I did enjoy the message of the letters and the profound metaphors, and even some of the poems that a character in the story leaves as clues for his granddaughter. There is a lot of wisdom given in his advice.  I even found interest in the entire "puzzles" concept - that is a bunch of poems that each contain a password. 

     The characters names are Harry, Laura, Emily, Cara, Bob, Michelle and Greg.  I've formed an opinion on just about each of them which may have damaged my relationship with them.  For much of my attitude (toward the characters themselves) was somewhat cynical.

     The first chapter is written in first person.  We are introduced to Harry - who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Except for his letters, the rest of the book is written in third person.

     Every Friday after school, Laura takes her seven-year-old daughter, Emily, to see her grandpa, Harry.  Cara is the aide who comes to check on Harry and provides a breakfast and lunch.  I was wondering why not all day. 

     Someone had once explained to me that dementia is like a wheel with several spokes - each spoke is a different dimension of dementia.  Alzheimer's is just one spoke of the dementia wheel.  Thus everybody who has Alzheimer's has some form of dementia, but not everyone who has dementia has Alzheimer's. My mom didn't have Alzheimer's but another form of dementia.  There were times that she was alone, but after we noticed mom's mind was being robbed by the disease, we made it a point to always have someone with her.  It was danger to her to leave her alone.  Who looked after Harry when Cara or Laura weren't there?

     I like Cara - though not a main character.  She has a way with people to accept them and make them feel comfortable.  She doesn't put up with nonsense.  She really does care for Harry and wants what's best for him.

     Laura's a bit insecure in her relationship with Bob, and he seems uninterested in permanent commitments as he seems to have given up on Laura and tolerates his father (Harry) at best.  I don't believe he's taken the time to get to know either one of them.

     Michelle is Bob's sister and Greg is her husband.  Greg is portrayed as a jerk who is far more interested in material possessions than he is in the human race or relations.  It's interesting to watch each of these characters as they to work together - or at least pretend to - as they read through Harry's poems and letters. 

     Harry has left a book of poems (well three books, duplicated, but identical in context and appearance) which contain password for opening each letter.  Though some of the poems are silly, some of them seem profound and thoughtful. 

     I was intrigued by a love poem he had written to Kathryn from Harry.  It was tender.  And the result of the password was intriguing:  "Believe in Love at First Sight." Wow.  What a wrap-up to such a tender poem. And his letters are filled with instructions on how to live - not just for Emily, but for each of us.

     It doesn't take much to get me to cry.  I will often I will allow my emotions to break through while reading or watching some movies.  During a few of these times, whenever Roland has happened to see my tear-stained face, has asked me what's wrong.  For this particular book, it's mostly been triggers.

     First off, the tragedy of having to look at assisted living facilities brought some emotions to the surface.  Those emotions will always be there.  It's a tough thing to have to find a place for a parent who cannot care for self.  It's a tough thing to settle for affordable than to place her where one month worth of paychecks wouldn't even keep her in for a week. 

     I remember looking at one thinking, "my mom will never fit in.  She is not old like these people.  They are ancient relics - not a one is even close to her age. We will all feel like we're just leaving her here to die, and that is NOT what we're doing.  The facility that Corey and I liked the best was really inviting.  At the time we saw it, I would have liked to move in.  It was nice.  It was also out of our price range.  BY A LOT!!!

     I do remember a worker showing us around, and what a positive atmosphere was provided.  She had invited us to eat lunch, though we declined.  She said the patients always had a choice for dinner.  I remember she told us there was one patient who always asked what was on the menu.  She asked each day without fail.  And then she would politely say, "Oh, I think I'll just have a grilled cheese sandwich"

     She also told us about another patient who would dress up every morning, find a work desk, sit down and work for a few hours before moving on.  She said no one really knew what he was doing, but it was always a part of his routine.  I thought of that while reading this book as the family members would read various letters and wonder when he found the time to write them or how he was able to remember.

     Some of the letters themselves would cause triggers as his one about "angels".  In the letter he told the story of his late wife who was a streamstress with a generous heart who had made a dress for a girl who couldn't afford to pay her.  And although it was "just a dress" to Kathryn (Harry's late wife) it meant all the world to Andrea (the girl she had made it for) -  I was reminded of a Christmas when I received a sack of potatoes that I'm certain the giver thought of as "just potatoes" but I still cry over the memory of receiving them and how truly blessed I was to have them.  (see this post) 

     Perhaps it was through this book that I decided to send a letter to a cousin who is getting married.  He was in the fifth grade when his mom passed.  He didn't really get to know her - not the way I had known her.  She was diagnosed with MS when she was pregnant with him.  He never knew her prior to the disease.  I don't know what memories he has of her.  Sometimes reading words about someone gone helps others to have a better understanding and deeper appreciation.  At least it has for me.

     One letter tells about how he had made soufflé and one day he found a recipe for pudding.  Both recipes contained the same ingredients.  I loved the comparison:  "Life is very much like gourmet cooking.  The ingredients we are given are often the same as those that others receive.  It is how the ingredients are put together  - the detail, the time and presentation."  I'm probably more of a pudding person.  Often I carelessly throw the ingredients of life together and hope things work out. Roland is an eternal optimist.  He makes soufflé.

       At the end of the book is a loving tribute from the author to his grandfather as there is a small collection of  poems that his grandfather wrote.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Easy Money - for her anyway

            When Jenna was three she had learned what goes into the recycling can and what waste goes into the garbage - something her dad and brothers never seemed to catch onto no matter how many times I tried to spell it out for them.  They either just didn't get it, were just too lazy or just didn't care.  Often Jenna and I would scold them.  It was pretty funny when she was the one who called them on it.

            Since we've been in Oregon Roland has improved a great deal.  Still not perfect, but much much better at recycling in Oregon than he was in Salt Lake.

            In Salt Lake there were few who would actually collect the aluminum cans and physically take them to a recycling and get paid so much per pound.  Here, in Oregon, deposits are paid at the time of purchase.  In order to get our deposit back, we need to recycle.  And we can't crush down cans and bottles the way we did in Salt Lake.  The item is deposited into a machine that will read the barcode and tally each bar code read. 

            The machine then spits out a receipt for the total amount of containers returned.  That is then taken to the register of whatever store the machine resides and a deposit is collected - which we should just apply to our next purchase, but somehow we have given Jenna the honors of collecting the cans and water bottles and taking them to the machine and allowing her to keep the money for her part in.

            Jenna's got a good head on her shoulders.   When she is not making money out of recycled products, she is creating.  As I have mentioned in several posts, Jenna had a healthy imagination. 

            The idea behind this creation was to roll paper out as though it were a tongue, and she could tear off the amount needed as one would with tape. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Picking Pears in Medford

While living in Salt Lake, Roland and I had several opportunities to assist with the welfare program.  When Jenna was in first and second grade, I tried going to the cannery at least one a month. For the most part, the items were actually in bottles and not in cans - at least at the one I went to.

I have been to another location that does actual cans - food like chili, beans, tomato sauce - mostly messy stuff.  Roland and I would work as a team at the pasta plant - or I would team with one of our boys.  We'd assist at the dairy, storehouse, and DI.  All of these locations could be driven to in 20 minutes or less. 

In Oregon we don't seem to have as much opportunity to assist with the Church's welfare program due to our location.  Even to be recipient of the welfare program is a lot different from driving oneself to the storehouse to pick up an order.  From what we are told, orders are shipped from a city larger than Roseburg.

We have not had the need to be recipients of the welfare program in Oregon - and hopefully will not have to rely on that. We had been recipients in Utah probably at least half of Jenna's life (different years off and on). There isn't anything wrong with being recipients - except that it indicates to me tha we are financially disabled.  At the same time I LOVE church cheese and BYU creamery chocolate milk and many products that we get at the bishops storehouse.

The bishops storehouse offers a lot in the way of fresh produce as well as canned goods.  We have had many canned good put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Beans, spaghetti sauce, soup, assorted canned vegetables, jellies, honey, peanut butter, fruit.  Of the fruit, we mostly liked the canned peaches and pears and applesauce.

I don't recall a welfare project in which the members canned fruit in Salt Lake. Today I learned that the pears are canned in Idaho.  I have also been told that the Church's only pear farm is located in Medford, Oregon. We were told that 80 volunteers from our stake (church boundary) were needed to pick pears today.

Originally we had planned on taking Jenna with us and have her pick pears with us.  We were told that the youth had to be at least twelve and Jenna just turned eleven in April.  I had tried to make other arrangements for leaving her with someone, but ended up taking her anyway. 

I set the alarm for 3:20 a.m.  We were on the road by 4:00 a.m. and arrived in Medford just before 5:30.  We signed in at 5:30 to 10:00.  We were also told to give ourselves credit for the three hour travel (or whatever other amount was given.)  We ended signing Jenna up to pick with us, no questions asked.  She was fine.  The farm was fine.  No harm. No accident.  I saw some youth there that looked to be a lot younger than her. And I saw some who were obviously in the Young Men's program that weren't working with the same effort that Jenna put in.

Jenna and I had picked pears before at my mom's house.  Picking from an orchard is a lot different than having Brian or Patrick shake the branches while the rest of us glean from the ground.  The government has placed stipulations and the Church is not allowed to use pears that have fallen to the ground.  That is so sad as the amount of pears that have fallen to the ground were many - pears that are still edible.  Pears that fell to the ground when another pear was picked. It was hard having to leave them on the ground.

In addition to her pear tree, my mom also had at least two pine trees in her backyard (they were put there before I got married and continued to grow long after I moved out)  I remember that she would offer to pay the younger grandchildren a penny a pinecone.  I think pears may have been worth more.  I know I spent more time gleaning pears from the ground than picking them off the tree.  I think that honor went to Patrick's family.

The rows of trees were long.  They seemed to get longer as the morning hours pressed forward.  The length between the last pear tree that weighed my bag to "too heavy for comfort" and the bin in which to "carefully let the pears out of the bag" seemed like miles. Their goal was to fill over 100 bins today.  Surely they met their goal before we left Myrtle Creek.  Our stake was told to work the hours between 6:00 and 12:00.  When we arrived, we were told that they wouldn't shut down until after 2:00. 

We had also been told that we'd have access to doughnuts between 8:00 and 10:00.  That's what we were told.  Fortunately we weren't there for the doughnuts as the doughnuts were non-existent.  However we were hungry and had been before our last shift. We stopped off at a McDonald's on our return.

Jenna had been invited to a party that took place at Stanton Park in Canyonville that took place at noon.  Instead of going directly home to Myrtle Creek, we stopped off at the park so that Jenna could be with her friends.  It had been such a long morning and I was so very tired - of course Jenna is the Energizer Bunny who continues to go and never wears out.

The expectations for the party were placed at a much higher value than what actually took place.  I felt bad as I know a lot of planning went into it, and I think everybody made the best of the situation at hand, but I did feel bad for Callie's mom (Callie is the birthday girl) as she had spent several hours preparing for the event -  a lot more hours preparing than what was actually spent.

Though we had arrived 90 minutes after the party supposedly started, the potato salad didn't actually arrive until after we did.  By then, almost everybody had finished eating (though some of the adults did return to get some)

Though the kids seemed to enjoy the idea of having a colored-water fight with water guns and blasters - it was very short lived.  The piñatas that were made came down after only two whacks.  No one else received a turn at whacking.

Though the piñatas themselves seemed well made, not everybody got their fair share of candy as some of the greedier children loaded their bags leaving no thoughts for the others.  Jenna managed to grab three pieces.  The birthday girl ended up with an empty bag.  So all the bags were dumped into the middle and divided up evenly.

I think the most fun that anybody had was in playing "Red Rover" which I think was just an impromptu game that was suggested while Josie and her husband set up for the water activity.

Roland and I, both tired, didn't want to stay for any of it really.  By the time the cake was served, we were more than ready to leave.  But Jenna wanted to stay as Callie hadn't even opened her presents. Casey and Carley's mom said she would bring Jenna home if we wanted to leave.  I expressed my gratitude and told Jenna about our plans.  Just as we got ready to leave, Jenna expressed her desires to go with us.  And now we are home and I am ready to call it a night.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Opening Doors Through Literature

          First of all I would really like to thank Ellen and Sunny for their recommendation of the book "The Rent Collector" by Camron Wright.  I have enjoyed it and actually wouldn't mind having the book in my personal collection.

          I'm intrigued by so much of the story and the situation and dreams and literature.  Though the story itself is fictitious, Stung Meanchey was a real place.  A filthy dump in Cambodia. Three sided huts provided housing to those who worked at the dump.  The documentary "River of Victory" says that there are over 600 of this type housing.  Or at least there were.  The author's notes (Camron Wright on the Rent Collector) indicate that Stung Meanchey was shut down in 2009 and there is no housing at the new location of dumping grounds.

           When I look at pictures taken of those who reside in conditions that I can't even begin to understand, I often question if these people in these situations have dreams and wonder how simple their dreams may be compared to mine.

          It seems their lives would consist more of a day-to-day survival and accepting situation at hand.  I wonder if they wonder if there is better - for they do not own cell phones, or have access to TV.  Many of them (if any) don't even read.  I wonder if they have an understanding on what takes place outside of their world.  I wonder if they dream of leaving a certain situation how their circumstances would change or if they even think about it.

          There are many who constantly wish they had a larger house, a faster car, superior phone reception, the latest computer, touch screen, etc.  Yet for those in third world countries (and yes, they do still exist) what are their dreams?  their goals?

          I had heard of a situation with a family in Romania (I think it was) in which the family lived in a more modern house with electricity but had only one light bulb in which they would move from room to room - whichever was most pressing for light at particular time.  Some Americans, who had stayed with said family, were humbled by their act of kindness given despite their poor circumstances. 

          To reward their kindness, the Americans purchased a carton of light bulbs to give to the family.  There were cries of delight and disbelief to receive such a precious gift.  But even so, the family continued with their ways - removing the light bulb and carrying it from room to room - believing  they could get more mileage and perhaps even sharing the light with their neighbors who had electricity.

          In the story of "The Rent Collector" the narrator, Sang Ly, discovers that "the cow" that collects the rent can read.  Sang Ly decides that she wants to read - believing it will provide opportunity for her son to have an opportunity for a life outside of Stung Meanchey - believing that life outside the dump has to be better. She asks the rent collector to teach her.

          Of course there are different opportunities, different circumstances outside the dump.  Some good.  Some bad.  Our decisions always lead us to some things better and some things that are not.  The example that came to my mind was with a group of slaves that Harriett Tubman had taken out of the south. 
          The escape to freedom was not an easy one, and once the slaves had "escaped" they realized that freedom came with a price and though some situations and circumstance had become better for them, some just were not so great and some thought they'd be better off as slaves.

          We each give up things for our dreams or to help others with their dreams and sometimes our dreams don't live up to our expectations.  Sometimes they surpass our expectations.  There are always things about our current situation that we like.  There are always things we'd rather not deal with.  And we need both to grow.

          Camron Wright used his imagination to introduce the gift of literacy to one particular family living in the circumstances described in the River of Victory.  There are thousands of people who are not literate.  Some dream of how literacy might change their circumstances while many remain ignorant - perhaps by choice, but I think for the most part, the desire to read does not even occur to more than half of the illiterate population.  I think for many, they just don't know any better.

            They don't know about people who diet to lose weight.  They don't know about putting on make-up while looking in the rear view mirror as traffic comes to a standstill.  They don't know about the invention of the toilet or the importance of hygiene.  It's not their fault.  It's just how things are.

          Having a dream to own a light bulb or being taught to read or having a reason to look at the clock - those seem like simple dreams.  And yet there are several who might have those dreams.  The cell phone (or any phone for that matter) and the Internet are foreign concepts.  Perhaps even the idea of sending or receiving mail through the post office.  Why would it for someone who isn't even familiar with reading?

          The rent collector, called "the cow" by some, is not the most desirable person.  It isn't until Sang Ly has a book - a children's book- in her possession when she sees the rent collector as an actual human being and later dares to call her friend.

          The rent collector not only teaches Sang Ly to read but teaches her how to find metaphor in literature.  We learns that something as simple as instructions on how to grow rice can become metaphorical because someone has hand-written "and children" in place of rice.
          I love the relationships within the story.  The compassion that Sang Ly has for her son. The concern and love she develops  for a girl who becomes of age.  The remorse she feels for a thief who is killed.  And of course the development of the relationship between Sang Ly and the rent collector. 

          I love the interweaving of the literature and the lessons learned and the symbolic meaning that take place in her own life.  I love the profound statements such as this:  ". . . if every story ended with a handsome prince, there wouldn't be anybody left in the kingdom to stand around and cheer" and I love that it is written in first person.

          This is a book that I will definitely read again.  It's message was quite powerful for me.  I look forward to reading Camron Wright's other works.  It's truly Beautiful!  Thank you Camron Wright for sharing your talents.