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Global Pen Pals

Letter 3 in our series.

Dear Joy,

Your kids are sooo.... lucky to have a Mom who takes them each on a special holiday weekend each and every year. Whenever I spend time with Laura and Marc, it is with their families, too. I did take Laura to the New York City Ballet Spring Gala just recently, but that ain't Paris!

We're off to New Haven next weekend to see Madeleine in a dance recital, and the weekend after that we travel to Boston to see Anna in a hip-hop dance routine – two minutes' worth! But that's what memories are made of: two hour plane trips and two-minute dance exhibitions. Then out for pizza with Grammy and Gramps!

Ben doesn't do dance, but he does take keyboard lessons. And, as I wrote in my last letter, he spends hours with his x-box. You guessed right -- it is a computer game. Actually, the x-box is the control mechanism for a number of games: sports contests; car racing; Dance, Dance Revolution (don't ask me what that is) and a Lord of the Rings game, to name a few. Anna tells me that her parents won't let them play the latter unless they are in the room with her and Ben. Must have a lot of violence in it! I know that lots of parents think computer games are a total waste of time, foisted on them and their kids by greedy game makers. But Ben taught himself to read at age three with a game called "Reader Rabbit", and I bought all three kids a computer game that introduced them to the opera "The maic Flute". Even I loved playing that one!!

The U.S. is a land of contrasts in its myriad geographical variations. In the rural areas of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, parents have always had to send their children to schools miles and miles away from home. But this is a country of immigrants, and they still pour in from all corners of the globe. (I'm sure you've heard about the fights ((and I use that term with good reason)) going on in the U.S. Congress about the 11,000,000 or so undocumented immigrants within our borders.) So, if anything, the children of these immigrants are swelling the numbers of students in many schools here, especially in metropolitan areas, and the necessity of providing teachers, school supplies, and even new structures for these pupils is proving to be a challenge for school boards across the country. So, in a way, we have the opposite problem that you have in Switzerland, i.e., having to close schools because of the declining birth rate.

Would you believe that our family, too, has a book story like yours and Maxie's? As a little boy, my dear husband had a book called "Brave Mr. Buckingham". It was the tale of a little boy who had a very loose tooth, but he was afraid for his uncle to pull it out. So he climbed up a tree, and his uncle tried to coax him down by telling him this story about a brave Indian who was very courageous about a lot of injuries he got. We treasured that little book and kept it together with spit and tape, so to speak, so that our children could enjoy it, too. And they did! But somehow in our move ten years ago, "Brave Mr. Buckingham" was lost. We are hoping against hope that he is in the bottom of some box we haven't yet unpacked. Yep, we've lived here for ten years, and there are still unpacked boxes in the basement!!

Did I mention that I've been taking a Russian literature course? We're reading works by Tolstoy, Gogol and Chekhov. Reading these masterpieces now, I find them much more profound than when I read them in college. In my spare time, I'm reading a memoir by an American author named Gail Caldwell titled "A Strong West Wind". This book contains some of the most poetic prose I've ever read. I give it a four-star review!

When we visited San Francisco in early April, the city had just experienced the most drenched, wet march on record. Meanwhile, we here in Baltimore were having a drought. Well, finally the rains came here, too. And came! And came!! And came!!! Baltimore is now "The City That's Green". We and the goldfinch, tufted titmouse, downy woodpecker and the oriole who alight the leafed-out trees in our yard, love it.

A Happy, Green Spring to you, too.

Much, much love,
Ellen


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