Saturday, June 10, 2017

Family Fun: Across the Country in Edmonds, Washington and Sister Ruby's Retirement.



 I'm going to share a couple of  family biggies with you: A couple of weeks in Edmonds, Washington visiting family plus, back home, celebrating sister Ruby's retirement after more than 25 years as manager of a home for the elderly and needy.

Her daughter Linda pulled off the impossible by getting  three of her four siblings there at Ruby's beautiful lakeside cottage -- and taking her mom completely by surprise!

Here she is with myself and younger brothers Victor and Reggie:


Ruby and I are in the middle with Reggie left in the photo. Vic is on the right resting his leg on mine.  As usual, Vic was trying to annoy his older brother.  As usual, I was ignoring him.  This was our version of brotherly love. The truth is that we are family and, with all of us having been brought up in uncaring foster homes, today we feel so lucky to have each other.

And I know that my two younger brothers, Vic and Reg, deeply appreciate and respect me, though neither one will admit it to my face.  Oh, face.  Maybe that's how they show their love for their big brother.  Here is a recent photo of the three of us. I'm on the left, Vic is in the middle, and Reggie is on the right.  Have they done a great job trying to look like me or what?



In addition, the cottage was packed with many longterm friends.  It was a great day of food, yakking away, and just enjoying friends and family. Because Ruby is not one for attention, I'll let it go at that and devote the rest of this blog to Barbara's and my time in Edmonds, Washington.

We stayed with daughter Misha, her husband Ed and four grandkids. Oldest  to youngest, the grandkids are Mia, Bella, Max, and Talula.

Here I am with Talula and the full head of hair the kids fixed me up with. They all said they were tired of looking at my bald head and that it made me look too old. You know, they were right.  I do look younger! Thanks kids!
Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg





Now here is Talula with two rock sculptures she created for the front of the house. I collected the rocks for her and she built the sculptures herself.  While Barbara did grown-up things with parents Misha and Ed and the older grandkids, Talula and I went on long walks and played together.  She is feisty with a mind of her own.  I never told her what to do.  Didn't have to.



Here is Barbara and Talula in the beautiful background designed by Misha and Ed.



Below Ed gets a photo of wife Misha with Mia, left, and Bella at right.  Bella had just performed in a school play.





Above is Max with sisters Bella and Talula on a walk to the local playground. The sculpture was actually made from a live tree!  Whether the tree is still alive, I don't know.  But the sculpture has been there for years with no change.  Amazing.  Check it out here:

Mornings I go to Starbucks for coffee, something I shouldn't eat with it, my beloved New York Times, and to check in with the regulars pictured below.  Believe it or not, they actually seem happy to see me. I chat until they start rolling their eyes.  Getting the point, I take my hurt feelings back to my VIP room (to my way of thinking) and work on my blog. Here is the Starbucks gang:

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

I'm a walker. At home I walk everywhere.  I get in the car and drive until I see an interesting neighborhood.  I park the car, get out, and snoop around.  Out in Edmonds, I was no different -- and no one called the cops.  We'll end now with some pix that caught my eye. No words needed. The photos speak for themselves:





Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

On Edmonds shore, I noticed a woman sitting on  a boulder. I sat, watched, and took the above photo. She never moved.  She just sat there looking out at the water.  I wondered who she was, where she was from, what she was thinking, and wanted to talk to her. But I couldn't do it. After sitting and watching her for some twenty minutes, I left with just this photo.

I'm going to keep it. I will always remember and wonder about her.

So long and keep moving.

For info on my ebooks, click here. 





Sunday, May 07, 2017

Age 79, Yes!: Years of Age, Silence, Denial, and Falsehoods Come to An End in -- Celebration!


Yup, that's daughter Misha's amazing birthday cake with me coming clean on my real age after  decades of dead silence and what I call truthful lies such as:

"Can't believe I have turned 30" when I was in my 50's.

"Wow, in my 50's, can't believe it" when I was in my 70's -- right up to NOW.

"My two sons, Jon and Greg have turned 30, unbelievable"-- though many years ago.

OK, except for the ages of Jon and Greg, which is their business, here's the truth about my age.  On May 2, I turned 79. And... and ... and I am celebrating it! I am routinely older than  half  the people in the obits.  All those human beings  are gone while I am still kicking and brag in this blog that I'm going to make it to 120.

Wait a sec. A thought just hit me. After decades of bragging about reaching 120, what if I actually got there?  I'd be the oldest person on earth! Finally, after decades of being nobody, I would be famous!  The name George Francis Pollock the Third would be known and admired throughout the world!

Whoops.  Sorry. I'll come back to earth.

The truth is my life actually is unusual for a 79 year old. I play tennis 3 or 4 days a week and run around the court like a crazy man (which I am, of course). Before playing at the Worcester Greendale Y, I do strength exercises for at least 20 minutes.

I tell my tennis guys that the way I want to go is on the tennis court after hitting a winner. I ask that they just drag the body off the court and keep playing.  They have no problem with that.

Hmm. Are they telling me something? Oh well, on to more of moi.

Most afternoons, even after morning competitive tennis,  I get in my car and drive off looking for an interesting neighborhood to hike around. And I mean hike not stroll.  I lift my chin, pull in my stomach, and straighten my back. I march like a presidential guard for at least an hour and often for an hour and a half.

Every home has people with a story. Snooping round, I wonder what those stories are.  Sometimes I notice people in windows staring at  a stranger walking around their neighborhood.  So far one has called the police on me.

I don't drink.  I don't smoke. I don't overeat (OK, once in a while I do). No bad habits (OK, in my opinion; can't wait for the emails listing  my bad habits.)

Today Barbara and I are in Edmonds, Washington, visiting daughter Misha, son-in-law Ed, and four grandkids, Mia, Bella, Max, and Talula (from oldest, 15, to youngest, 5).

I and the three youngest just got back from checking out a monster's house.  When I smelled something foul in the air, I yelled "Poison! It's trying to poison us!!"And the four of us ran off with me screaming, "Run, run, RUN!"

Before leaving for Edmonds, Barbara, niece Linda, and I celebrated my birthday with a great meal at the Sole Proprietor in Worcester, Mass. -- with wonderful surprises.  Then we arrived on May 3 at Misha's and Ed's house in Edmonds, Washington to an even greater surprise -- an amazing birthday celebrating my long, long, long life!

Following are photos from those celebrations, starting with this one with Barb, niece Linda, and me at The Sole Proprietor.  Linda was a total surprise.  It was great to see you, Linda! She is below with Barbara and the birthday boy, moi!



We had a great meal. When we got to the birthday cake and Barb and Linda singing happy birthday, we all got a big surprise: a bunch of old guys behind us joined in.  I could not have had a greater, more rousing happy birthday song!

When the song ended, I got up and and went over to the guys. I asked, "What are you old guys doing here singing happy birthday to me?  You don't even know me. Are you old guys all nuts?"

Their quizzical looks told me they were thinking the same thing about me. But they didn't tell me to get lost. So I went around and asked each one his age.  They were all retired, in their 70's, and had been meeting regularly for over 30 years.

"Man, you guys are old," I said. In the old days, I would have told them that I was in my 50's. Instead, I snarled, "Hah, I'm older than all of you."

"How old are you," one of them asked.

I puffed up, lifted my chin, and went super superior. "I'm 79. You are all a bunch of kids."

We all had  a good laugh.

In case you think I'm making this up, here is a photo of those "kids."




Conversation opened. 1 read message.
Now, for photos of my birthday party at daughter Misha and
Ed's place in Edmonds,Washington. Misha is a talented interior
designer, party planner, and jack of all-trades artist. She plan-
ned and prepared it all.

How was it?  To die for!

And all for me, an old man who spent almost his entire child-
hood in ever changing foster homes. As just a source of income
as a foster kid, I never had a birthday party. In fact, in celebrat-
ing my 79th,  that's exactly  what kept popping up in my head.

But when the grandkids gave me birthday cards  created on
on their own, it told me that those hard, familyless days are
long gone.  I had family.  I had love.

I was one happy old man of 79!

Let's end now with photos of Misha and Ed's fabulous 79th
birthday  party for me. Notice how after lying about my age for
decades, I now can't stop saying 79?

Now photos of the best birthday party any old man could hope
for.

Here's the work-of-art birthday table designed by Misha. Yummy!










Barbara and me with four grandkids


And here is Misha. with Me, Max and Talula




My wonderful wife Barbara and 79.



























And finally Ed picking up a big baby:

Is this any way to treat a father-in-law?



















So long and keep moving.

For info on my ebooks, click here. 











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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Family Fun: Across the Country in Edmonds, Washington and Sister Ruby's Retirement.


 I'm going to share a couple of  family biggies with you: A couple of weeks in Edmonds, Washington visiting family plus, back home, celebrating sister Ruby's retirement after more than 25 years as manager of a home for the elderly and needy.

Her daughter Linda pulled off the impossible by getting  three of her four siblings there at Ruby's beautiful lakeside cottage -- and taking her mom completely by surprise!

Here she is with myself and younger brothers Victor and Reggie:


Ruby and I are in the middle with Reggie left in the photo. Vic is on the right resting his leg on mine.  As usual, Vic was trying to annoy his older brother.  As usual, I was ignoring him.  This was our version of brotherly love. The truth is that we are family and, with all of us having been brought up in uncaring foster homes, today we feel so lucky to have each other.

In addition, the cottage was packed with many longterm friends.  It was a great day of food, yakking away, and just enjoying friends and family. Because Ruby is not one for attention, I'll let it go at that and devote the rest of this blog to Barbara's and my time in Edmonds, Washington. We stayed with daughter Misha, her husband Ed and four grandkids. Oldest  to youngest, the grandkids are Mia, Bella, Max, and Talula.

Here I am with Talula and the full head of hair the kids fixed me up with. They all said they were tired of looking at my bald head and that it made me look too old. You know, they were right.  I do look younger! Thanks kids!
Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg





Now here is Talula with two rock sculptures she created for the front of the house. I collected the rocks for her and she built the sculptures herself.  While Barbara did grown-up things with parents Misha and Ed and the older grandkids, Talula and I went on long walks and played together.  She is feisty with a mind of her own.  I never told her what to do.  Didn't have to.



Here is Barbara and Talula in the beautiful background designed by Misha and Ed.



Below Ed gets a photo of wife Misha with Mia, left, and Bella at right.  Bella had just performed in a school play.





Above is Max with sisters Bella and Talula on a walk to the local playground. The sculpture was actually made from a live tree!  Whether the tree is still alive, I don't know.  But the sculpture has been there for years with no change.  Amazing.  Check it out here:

Mornings I go to Starbucks for coffee, something I shouldn't eat with it, my beloved New York Times, and to check in with the regulars pictured below.  Believe it or not, they actually seem happy to see me. I chat until they start rolling their eyes.  Getting the point, I take my hurt feelings back to my VIP room (to my way of thinking) and work on my blog. Here is the Starbucks gang:

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

I'm a walker. At home I walk everywhere.  I get in the car and drive until I see an interesting neighborhood.  I park the car, get out, and snoop around.  Out in Edmonds, I was no different -- and no one called the cops.  We'll end now with some pix that caught my eye. No words needed. The photos speak for themselves:





Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

On Edmonds shore, I noticed a woman sitting on  a boulder. I sat, watched, and took the above photo. She never moved.  She just sat there looking out at the water.  I wondered who she was, where she was from, what she was thinking, and wanted to talk to her. But I couldn't do it. After sitting and watching her for some twenty minutes, I left with just this photo.

I'm going to keep it. I will always remember and wonder about her.

So long and keep moving.

For info on my ebooks, click here. 







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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Africa, Africa: Why Africa is Always on My Mind.




Recently in line at the Greendale YMCA in Worcester, Massachusetts where I play tennis, I noticed a new guy behind the counter. He was black and he had an accent that I immediately recognized.

When my turn came, with a big smile on my face, I said, "Harbari." (a standard Swahili greeting in Kenya roughly meaning, "How are you doing?")

His mouth flew open. His eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head. Then came a huge smile, and I mean HUGE.

"Mzuri, mzuri sana," he replied in Swahili ("good, very good").

"Asante," I said. "Asante Sana." ("thank you, thank you very much")

Since this is America and not Africa, I then reverted to English. "I used to teach in Kisumu, Kenya. Nice to meet you."

 "Wow, I was born and raised in Kenya."

I told him that I had taught in Kisumu for two years. I also told him that my oldest son, Gregory, was born in Kenya in 1964, making him a dual citizen of Kenya and the United States. 

"I would say we have a lot to talk about, right?"

Mouth open, wide-eyed, he nodded his head. We shook hands, exchanged names, and email addresses, and he agreed to arrange a time for me to hear his story. That will be an upcoming blog.  Below is a photo of Kimani Thumbi behind the counter at the Y:



Displaying IMG_2120.JPG

Below left is a photo of Greg with his ayah Philomena and a little playmate in Kisumu, Kenya. Below right is a photo of Greg and me at a recent Pollock family get-together at my home in Worcester, Massachusetts. We look like brothers--agree?  I'm on the left.




Immediately after graduate school, I was accepted into the Teachers for East Africa Program (TEEA) of Columbia Teacher's College. Soon after, Phyllis and I went off to Kenya as newlyweds. Fresh from college and with an intrepid new bride, I was going to save the world. I would do good. I would spread civilization. I would make friends for America. I was young and naive and I didn't know any better.

We spent two years in  Kenya. It was the greatest learning experience of my life. First, I saw real poverty. Everywhere I went I saw children naked, walking with bare feet, often with distended bellies, a sign of malnutrition.

Just outside of Kenya's capital, Nairobi, were perhaps a million black African souls existing in Africa's largest slum, Kibera. It was a mass of shanties without electricity, running water, sewage, and health care. Life here was short and brutal.

But, newly freed from decades of British colonial rule, Kenyans throughout the country were  celebrating independence by singing and dancing in the streets. It was a happy, optimistic time for Kenyans with their own new government under Jomo Kenyatta or the "Mzee" (old man). 

Several times I was at packed Kenyatta rallies where he stood tall in his multi-colored beaded cap, fly wisk in hand, and evoked roars of  "Harambee" (work together) and "Uhuru na Kazi" (freedom and work). Sometimes I was one of just a few "Mzungus" (whites), but I felt perfectly safe.

In Kenya, America and Americans were deeply respected. I felt it everywhere. For example, in 1963 I was in a little village -- the only American there -- getting my VW serviced when news broke of President Kennedy's assassination.

One Kenyan after another came up to me to express their sorrow. Each one extended an open hand, bowed, expressed their sorrow and slowly backed away. Here I was, me, representing the United States of America!

Despite widespread poverty and homelessness, Kenya was rapidly becoming an important regional and transportation hub as its tourist industry began growing in leaps and bounds. Kenya would soon become East Africa's biggest economy and an island of calm, avoiding bloody conflicts that ravished Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia, and Uganda.

Following are some photos from our time in Kenya.



Above are Phyllis and Greg in Kenya with two African women. We were driving our 1961 VW Bug along a dirt road in Masai country when we saw them. On the spur of the moment, we pulled over. Gesturing with my little Instamatic, I asked in bad Swahili if I could take their picture.
 
They smiled. Greg patted the goat without bothering to ask. Truthfully, Phyllis and I both felt safer with African tribal people than with strangers in American cities. These were the days when Europeans, what all white people were called, were greatly respected. Now Kenyan cities are as dangerous as American ones can be.


And here is a photo of me leaving the school with books under my arm. And what a teaching experience! I have never seen such eager students. You walk into the classroom and the whole class jumps to its feet.

"Morning, Sir!" they shout in unison.

Then they sit. All eyes are on the mzungu mwalimu (white teacher). With notebooks open and pencils at ready, they are ready and eager to learn. And you had better teach them so they can pass the overseas exam from England -- or else.

I'll never forget the time I was telling a story about life in America. A student in the back row, very tall and older than the others, jumped to his feet.

"Sir!" he all but shouted. "What you are telling us is not in the syllabus!"

He sat down with pencil at ready to take notes.

"Quite right," I said in my best faux British accent. "So sorry. Yes, I'll get on with it. Thank you."

 I never again strayed from the syllabus.

When I was not teaching, we drove everywhere. One time we drove all the way to the coastal city of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean. On the way, we stopped to say "jumbo" ("hello") to an elderly man on the side of the road. I gave him a shilling and asked if I could take his picture. He readily agreed.

 

When we saw a couple of African girls hiking along the road, we again pulled over. They were just as curious about us as we were of them. After Swahili greetings and giving them a few shillings, they willingly let us photograph them.



In Mombasa, we enjoyed the beach for a few days. In the photo below, I'm on the beach playing with Greg.

 

Have an idea why Africa is always on my mind? Oh the memories!


So long and keep moving.


For info on my ebooks, click here. 

 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 Pollock Reunion: Five Sibs and a Houseful of Family Chat, Eat, Play and Have a Ball.


I tell you, our house has never been so packed, noisy, and brimming with joy and laughter.

A wild party? In a way, yes, judging from all the storytelling, smiles, joking around, hugs, all  with everybody feasting on food fit for royalty: shrimp, lasagna from Val's in Holden, homemade meatballs, chicken, salads, fruit plates, homemade pies, cakes, and cookies galore.  Yummy!

It was a Pollock family reunion hosted by Barbara and me at our place.  The key word here is "family."  That is something that I and my four younger siblings were forced to spend our entire childhoods without. No father, who died when we were six and under. A toxic mom who quickly abandoned us all to state care where we spent our entire childhoods in uncaring, ever-changing foster homes.

Former foster kids routinely drop into lonely, failed lives. Many end up in prison. Somehow, all five of us not only survived but went on to build happy, successful, family-packed lives and today live in nice homes in respectable neighborhoods. I have documented our horrendous childhoods and described how each of us got to where we are today. For that story, click here.

Check out the above links and you will surely see why this Pollock reunion was such a happy blast.  Growing up, never, never could we have imagined such a gathering.  But here we are at the Pollock reunion, all five siblings with our real Aunt Lillian:

 Aunt Lillian is center, between Ruby (left) and Marion  (right). From top left are Reggie the baby, me the oldest, and Vic in between. On my neck chain is a ring that may-- or may not-- be our dad's. Unlike our  mom, our dad was a decent person.

Got our last name?  Yes? Good. The sweaters are doing their job. They were designed and handmade by our daughter Misha, who lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband Ed and four grandkids (out of a total of 10 grandkids.) The fish  is perfect for us since all three of us guys love the water, me for swimming and my two brothers for fishing -- not to mention that there is a fish by the name of Pollock.

When I'm swimming in my sister Ruby's lake in Oxford, Mass., Vic and Reg fish. I take a deep breath and go underwater to warn my fish friends to stay away from their hooks no matter how tasty they look. Sorry bros, love you both, but my fish friends are also family to me!

Now here is the group photo of the whole gang at the Pollock reunion:

Talk about family! From no family growing up, we five Pollocks are today surrounded by family --packing the entire living room. Where am I? Top right beside Aunt Lillian.Vic stole my spot front and center!

Early on my son Jon and wife Laurie and their two kids Aidan and Nathaniel let me know that they were not able to come. They had a previous commitment, involving kids' activities, in Vermont that had to be kept. Also, my other son Greg told me that he would be unable to come because of job commitments.

Bummer.  But, unknown to me, Jon and Greg would each deliver a delightful surprise.

Jon and Laurie shortly invited Barbara and me to their home in Berkley, Mass. where they gave us a wonderful early Christmas present.  They drove us early in the evening to Providence. They left Aidan, now a responsible young adult of 14, to look after his younger brother Nathaniel.

There at a downtown restaurant the four of us had a yummy pizza feast. Then we went on to see the musical "Once," which was terrific. Jon and Laurie picked up the tab for it all. We stayed overnight at their home. In the morning, Laurie fixed us a great french toast and sausage breakfast. Thanks Jon and Laurie for a great time that Barbara and I will remember always!

Now the other wonderful surprise. On the day of the Pollock reunion, I came out of the bathroom and walked into the kitchen -- and nearly had a heart attack. There standing in the kitchen were son Greg and his wife Kelly with huge, mischievous smiles!  They had driven all the way from Pennsylvania!

I ran into their arms. Here is a photo of Greg and me just after I saw him:



Two greybeards! Never in a million years could I have imagined myself having a kid with grey hair! With people who don't know any better, I just tell them that he's my kid brother.  We could pass for brothers, don't you think?

On my last birthday, Greg and Jon surprised me with a gathering at the Merrimack College rink in North Andover, Mass. I had gone to Merrimack on a full four-year ice hockey scholarship. They contacted teammates from those old days, arranged for use of the college rink, and there I was out there like the old days skating and chasing a puck.

It was the best birthday ever.

Greg is a Child of Africa. He was born in Kisumu, Kenya where I was a teacher for two years way back in the early 60's. He survived malaria in Kenya and later dengue fever in Maidugeri, Nigeria, where I taught for a year. Below left is a photo of Greg as a baby in Kisumu, Kenya. Yup, he was playing the drums just like any other child in Africa.

Below was Greg in Kisumu,  with his Ayah Philomena and a little African playmate.


And now he's a greybeard? Where did all those years go?


One thing is sure, this  reunion will live on in our hearts.


So long and keep moving.

For info on my books, click here. 

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