Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Few Kind Words


Kind words spoken are the best gift of all.

During the past two weeks, I've had the pleasure of meeting and talking with students again. The coordinator of Emergency Medical Services took a much deserved vacation so I kept things going for prospective EMT students, as Fall registration is underway. All of the students are appreciative of the help I’ve given but there is one student that I won’t forget.

An African American lady, five years older than me, came to my office last Monday. She’s hot on becoming an EMT. Her children are grown and she helped raise a few of her grandchildren. She’s had many part-time jobs throughout her adult life but her desire, now, is to have a career as a first responder. I marveled at her physical strength and enthusiasm. I envied and applauded her aspirations because while she is ready to set the world on fire and make a difference, I’m ready to step back and let someone else take over.

In order to qualify for the EMT class, students need to either provide a college transcript or take a reading and math test. She left my office with a handful of informational brochures and agreed to take the skills test.

Two days later, I scored her test and knew I had to make a phone call that would be difficult for me as she scored 8th grade in reading and 4th grade in math. Before I dialed her number, I rehearsed my lines for a few minutes and took a deep breath.

Was she disappointed? No, as she expected low scores. I gave her options. Certainly, she could take the test as many times as she wanted, but I referred her to our tutoring center, free of charge, to get those basic math skills back and opportunities to read, read, read! It might take her several weeks of tutoring and that would preclude Fall registration but she’ll certainly be ready for Spring. I called the tutoring center yesterday and learned she has made appointments over the next three weeks. Many prospective students need to hear more than a recorded message. Smiles and encouragement goes a long way and I’m certain she will show up on an EMT roster one day soon.

Instead of immersing myself in budgets and paperwork, I’d rather do what I did lately. Assisting students. I’d like that.

This short message appeared in our college newsletter this week, written by a GED/Adult Education representative:

“We had a young man come in several weeks ago to get his scores. He looked very ‘gangster’ and was with another young man. When I looked up his scores they were quite good. I was telling him how well he had done...bragging on him somewhat....he seemed stunned that he had succeeded. As he stood there his friend said in gangster vernacular.... 'man you look like you gonna cry...are you?‘ His reply was with a broken smile....'yeah man, I just might...I finally did one thing right in my life.' I was so touched...I told him that he had done so well he should consider some college classes...his reply, 'For real?' I told him of course he could and explained the process. He said he had never even thought about college. He came back last week to get another transcript from us...he was on his way to admissions to sign up for college courses...not sure what to study...but ready to start. That is what this program and a GED can do..... how cool is that!”

Isn’t that what it’s all about?


The weather was splendid this weekend and graced us with a cool breeze and hot sun. The early mornings were chilly! Nice relief for burned out Carolinians.


A few thunderstorms rejuvenated the Crepe Myrtles out back but there are many trees, flowers, and shrubs that look miserable.

The Mourning Doves are bonding with me. I really think so!


Brown Thrashers and Woodpeckers have reappeared this weekend after a few weeks vacation. The Starlings and Grackles left a week or two ago but I’m still fighting the squirrel population. They’re draining my checkbook!


Welcome back, handsome man! Help yourself. You are very welcome.


On Saturday evening I took a stroll through the overgrown area near the bird feeders and culvert. There is always something new but I rely on my garden bloggers to tell me what it is?

Here’s another weed with striking photo appeal!

This is the one. I can’t count the number of hummingbird photos I’ve taken over the weekend. Many of them are good but this one is sweet. Can’t zoom in when they are zooming!

Hummingbird photos are fantastic in my blogging community but I want to praise a gentle lady who posts several times a day and makes me smile with her brief but meaningful poetry, complimented by her prize-winning photos. Please take a look at Sherry’s “Monarch and a Hummingbird”. You will love it. I did!


It’s been a full weekend. Lots to do. I enjoy a little time each night – winter, spring, summer, and fall – parking myself near the pond lights to look for something that might swim by…


Larry said...

A wonderful but real story-Those berry thing I think are called pokeberry or pokeweed-They are poisonous even to the touch I think-Native Americans used them for something-can't remember what-Don't ask me how I know this-Be careful if you remove the pokeweed-it is considered caustic.-birds love it though.

cat59 said...

Mary, I just read a couple of your wonderful posts. The stories about the students attempting college courses are touching. I hope they all do well! Your photos of birds and insects continue to be amazing.

KGMom said...

Can't help you on the flower id.
I love your turtledove--yes, they are bonding with you.
On counseling students or prospective students--so many times I say--have you used the tutoring help center. I sometimes say--I won't accept another paper until you go there!

Ruth said...

I love your people stories. I know you are a compassionate and caring person and will encourage these students to do their best.

Mary C said...

Mary, it's such a fulfilling experience when one can help another to advance in his/her education, isn't it? If it weren't for people encouraging me and family supporting my educational efforts, I probably would not have finished college (especially since I started college when my kids were in high school). I love that crepe myrtle pic - wow! Such a deep rosy color. And love your morning dove pic, too. I enjoy them in my backyard, too.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
I'm glad you got a chance to help other people last week and for sharing those good stories. Hopefully your kind words & deeds will continue to "pay it forward."

I'm glad your grackles are starting to depart. I only see maybe 1 or 2 a day anymore--they've all headed out to the hay and oat fields starting to be harvested.

Have a good week!

Susan Gets Native said...

Larry's right about the pokeberry. It's poisonous, but it can be used to make beautiful red/fushia ink. My grandma and I did it once...very messy.
I'm glad that you are crossing the bird/human barrier and bonding with your doves.
I'm glad to be back in Blogland. I feel like I have been gone for a year.

Anonymous said...

Mary, that lady is an inspiration. I'm sure you will meet up with her again, she will do well.
Your photography is superb. I love the bumble bee on your previous post. That is such an artistic photo. Also love that cheeky little chipmunk face.
Thanks for sharing.

Jayne said...

Isn't it sad to think that those souls just never had anyone to tell them "sure you can do it!" How wonderful that you were there to encourage that lady, who I am sure one day will be back in your office to enroll.

Love that hummer photo! At first, I thought it was a distand hawk or jet! Zoooooom!

Q said...

Dear Mary,
So kind of you! Thank you.
Birds, bugs and blooms is about all I do anymore. We do eat, drink and make merry, it is outside with the birds and bugs.
We never know when we say kind words of encouragement how we will change another's life. Your work is rewarding and important.
Cool down and rain! Yes! I have looked to the east many times hoping soft and nurishing rains come to you. You have been too hot and too dry for too long.
I am leaving the Pokeweed in some areas of my garden for winter berries for the birds. Pretty plants with their dripping berries and colorful stems.
You and Miss dove are becoming friends! Cross species bonding. I love that.
The Grackles and Starlings leave???
That would be nice.
Your rose photo against the blue sky is "high art"!
Wow, so beautiful. Just like you.
Thanks again for your support and care.

Anonymous said...

Just to add to the Pokeweed, it is poisonous to us humans but birds love them! Although, it isn't like other berries, it does make the birdies "drunk" if the birds eat too many of the berries! Manytimes if you have ripe Pokeweed berries, you can find sloshed birds under the shrub (that are sometimes "looked" almost as if being dead). Just another random fact for you Mary!

Mary said...

Larry, thanks for the tip on pokeberry! I googled it. I'll need to be sure it doesn't grow through the fence. My dogs like to munch.

Cathie, thanks. So many students need a little extra support, esp. in a community college.

Donna, she'd never make it without a lot of tutoring. The textbook is a hard read!

Ruth, it's the ones who really care that I help the most.

Mary C, congrats to you! I'll bet your kids helped you study, too.

Ruthie, the safflower seed was expensive (not that they minded...). They devoured it.

Susan, you were only gone a day or two. Does seem long, though - I know.

Jenny, those chipmunks are irresistable! I enjoy the bee wings, too.

Jayne, I wouldn't have been able to get that hummer in the photo - she must have been hovering for a few seconds.

Sherry, she actually sat on the fence and watched me bring seed to the feeders. I could have reached out and touched her but I didn't.

Monarch, Oh, boy! I'll need to check on the plastered birds LOL!

Lavinia said...

Wonderful brightness and such pretty colours in your photos.

This is a marvelous blog---great concept and uplifting to the spirit.

I've enjoyed looking through these pages. You may perhaps want to take a look at mine. It's fairly new. A humble addition to the cyber bird universe...

Thank you~!

I've added you to my list of favourite websites and look forward to checking your blog again in future.


Chrissie said...

Beautiful pics and beautiful stories, Mary. I hope your lady does come back, what an inspiration she will be to so many people! I think we call one of the 'weeds' papyrus over here, I have a relative in my garden by the pond. It dies back in the winter but looks very architectural as it turns bronze:-)

Mary said...

L.L., thank you for your nice comments and for visiting!

Chris, I don't remember seeing that plant last year...but last year at this time I wasn't with camera, either. I notice more now.

Greg C said...

Lovely pictures. We have the same hummingbird feeders.

Mary said...

Wow Mary. Great post. And your photos are fantastic. I just learned something too. I get pokeweed all the time. I knew that's what they called around here but I DIDN'T know it was poisonus.

I have lived in Maryland all my life. I grew up in Gaithersburg but have lived here on the Eastern Shore for 20 years.

kate said...

Mary, you have made a difference in someone's life and that is always a good thing.

Your bird pictures are a treat to see ... I haven't a clue how you catch them so clearly. It is quite a talent!

thailandchani said...

Oh, those pictures! (banging head on table) They're always perfect!

I like the story about the woman who wants to be an EMT. Wow.. hard to imagine that someone her age would want to take something like that on. I'm with you. More than happy to let others take over "out in the world" while I retreat.

Hope she does well in the classes. :)



Kim said...

Lovely post!! and how kind of you to want to help others- encourgament can go a long way- love the pics. Here in Illinois its rabbits that are making a big dent in people's pockets- eating everything. ( found you through Jean's sight) .

Alyssa said...

Hi Mary - The photos were great again but I really enjoyed the article about the lady who wants to be an EMT. I'm cheering for her so let us know how she fares, if you can. The newletter article was touching. It surly makes you feel good helping people. Such a basic thing, but so fulfilling.


Mary said...

Hi Mary
It must be very rewarding enabling people to realise their dreams. The photos are soo good as always.

Elaine Cougler Author said...

That one, single rose against the bluest sky is superb. Thanks for all the beauty you capture in your blog, Mary.

Annie in Austin said...

Your stories about people are wonderful, Mary. Your job may sometimes drive you nuts, but apparently it's also a vehicle for you to change things in a positive way...something other people don't get to do.

You also understand the psychology of your readers, and cannily included a few nature photos with the inspirational tale!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

dmmgmfm said...

The EMT story brought real joy to my heart. You handled it so well, I'm sure she will be very successful.

As always, your photos are gorgeous. I so wish I had a garden.