Archive | July 2011

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Today is my grandma’s birthday.  She was born in Zanesville, Ohio in 1909; the only daughter in her family (I believe she had four brothers, but I might be off on that).  She was born before the time of electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, automobiles, computers, and many of the other technological advances we enjoy on a daily basis.  In her lifetime, there were 2 World Wars, a Great Depression, wonderful advances in civil rights, and a man landed on the moon. There were gas wars, a Cold War, and a president resigned amid scandal.  In her life, the Berlin Wall went up and it came down; history happened all around her.  Of course, my grandmother made her own history-she married my grandfather, raised four children, and was active in local clubs and her church throughout her life.

I never gave much thought to all the events she lived through.  By the time I came along in 1978 (her 9th grandchild), she was thoroughly ensconced as a grandmother.  She was the stereotypical widowed, white-haired lady with glasses and an apron.  When I came over, strawberries & raspberries were harvested from her enormous yard before breakfast, the newspaper comics were read and cards were played.  During the summer, we watched soap operas on her old-style console TV.  I helped her cut fabric squares for quilting and we made sun tea in a jar on her concrete patio.   I was absolutely enthralled by the fact she had a special cut-out in her wall just for her telephone (rotary dial) and that she lived without a dishwasher, clothes dryer or microwave.  She taught me that messed-up recipes can be fixed rather than thrown out, grilled cheese sandwiches are best made with Velveta, and that sometimes in Euchre it’s best to call Clubs trump even if all you have is the 9 of the clubs and the jack of spades.

It is unfortunate, but like all children, I grew up.  In spite of my love for my grandma, I thought about her less and less; I called less and less, but I always looked forward to seeing her at family events.  Like all children, I thought she would always be around; after all, she had always been around, and anyway, death certainly didn’t apply to MY family.  Later, I reasoned…there is always later.  Of course, my “later” ran out.  Death stole her mind before he took her body; she had a stroke in 1998 and died in May 2001, a couple of months shy of her 92nd birthday.

I think of my grandmother often; early summer mornings remind me of her.  Early morning in the summer has a certain smell, a certain quality of light.  In the early morning, the grass is wet with dew, the birds are chirping and there is an anticipation of a beautiful day ahead.  Beautiful like my grandmother and the soft personality she developed after seeing so much history, both personal and textbook-worthy.  Beautiful like a six-year-old girl racing down a grassy embankment and crashing through scratchy hedges, a red plastic bowl in her hand, eager to see if her grandma’s meager raspberry vines were bearing fruit.

Happy birthday, Grandma.

 

Grandma & Me, October 1980

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Modulo-n

I have been thinking of writing a blog for quite some time; yet, I always put off starting one.  Though I enjoy writing, journaling has never been my thing…in fact, I always quite dreaded it and groaned inwardly when teachers would assign those exercises.  Besides, I was always too busy or too tired or too something to be bothered to record my thoughts.  I reasoned that my thoughts were my own, and sometimes, what goes on in my head is best kept between my ears.  Lately, though, I have been filled to the brim with the need to write…hence, myshiny new blog.  I suppose I’ve chosen a public forum rather than a neat-looking sketchbook from Barnes and Noble to keep me honest and to keep me posting.

Of course, a blog needs a snappy name…Modulo-n is my choice.  I’m sure most of you are thinking, “Modulo-n?  What does that even mean?”  Well, let me educate you, my pretties!  In mathematics, modulo is defined as, “With respect to a specified modulus” (dictionary.com).  Let me make it less…well, “mathy.”  A modulus is the remainder you get when you divide two numbers by the same divisor.  For example, the number 18 and the number 42 can both be divided by 12 and they both leave 6 as their remainder.  In mathematics, this means that 42 is congruent to 18 mod 12.  A very fancy and technical way of saying that I can have a set of numbers, and when I divide them by the same divisor, I get the same remainder.  Neat-o, right??

Modulo is an interesting and useful concept…both in mathematics and in real life.  In math, its main purpose lies in division, obviously.  It is also used for the domain and range of functions (equations) as well as pattern-keeping & repeating.  In life…well, in life, we are all divided into many, many different pieces that come together to form our daily existences.  Just today I divided myself into a mother, wife, teacher, mentor, listener, yard work completer, friend, daughter, student yogini, patient and probably others I have forgotten or that have been more seamlessly integrated into my life.  Yet, there is still me.  There is a remainder  after each part of my life has taken what I can give to it for the day.  That is what this blog is about; keeping and focusing, as well as expressing and renewing that small part of me that is still the core of me…the part that is not a mother, not a wife, not a teacher, not a mentor…you get the picture.

You might be wondering why I’m modulo-n rather than modulo 7 or 5 or some other number.  Although mathematics is rigorous and beautiful, its application to the real world can be somewhat messy and in need of restriction.  I don’t know what modulo I am because I have no idea how many divisions of myself I will need to make on a given day.  For various practical and mathematical reasons, I know it is a number greater than zero and I feel safe in conjecturing the number is less than positive infinity-1.  I suppose I don’t find it important to know my modulo; at the end of the day, the remainder is and will always be 1.  At the end of the day, I’m still me: J congruent to A mod n.  Remainder 1.

JJ

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