Sunday, September 30, 2012

Botany with Seniors

Every two weeks we get this amazing gift at  The Bridge. "A" comes by an leads an art activity group. She is with the Alzheimer's Association here in Juneau and runs a variety of workshops and training for those working with, living with or coping with seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's. She is radiant with energy and ideas.

Last week her art activity was designed around fall leaves and watercolor painting. I assisted her and those participating. Before "A" invited the seniors to the table to do art work, she asked one of the aides to read a poem about fall that she had brought with her. She does this almost every time. It is her precursor to the creative acts that will follow.

"A" also prepares samples of art work before she arrives.

These simply serve as guides but do not dictate a specific outcome or creation. She highlights the process over the product. Too, she frequently creates a table centerpiece - or several of these - that again serve as visual clues for the activity of the day. Once she did this wonderful class on creating a beach scene and she brought with her these little trays that she had filled with sand and sea shells. She placed a few of these on the table and you could see some of the participants look up from their art work now and then to view them and to use them as an artistic compass to orientate them to where they were and what they were doing.

Last week, "A" brought with her a dozen or so pressed leaves that she placed in small groups down the center of the table.

She also placed red plastic cups at each setting. She put two paintbrushes in each. She explained that the red handled brushes were there to designate the cups as for painting not drinking. Therefore when one of the senior participants was using the other paintbrush, there would always be one in the cup to visually remind the cup's use. I take a lot of notes after "A" leaves so as to remember all of her good, good wisdom and knowledge.

As soon as one of the participants had paper, brushes, paint and leaves, she started painting. She did it her way. Yet, it so reminded me of work I have seen in the classroom with the botany cabinet. She painted an outline of the leaf with quick, short brush strokes.

She removed the leaf and then, while glancing back and forth to the leaf itself, she painted the veins and other details. The stem of her leaf remained me of a mouse's tail. It was long and curved. The painting evolved over 30 minutes. When it was done, she signed it. She started a second moments later.

Others traced templates of leaves, while some tried gluing them in place.

Colors varied from bright, pumpkin orange to soft, moss green.

Several completed their pieces and were satisfied. One participant, and this happens often with her, could not decide on how she wanted to place the leaves.

She is very invested in order. She arranged a few leaves in one pattern and then removed them to attempt another. After everyone else had put away their art materials and "A" had said goodbye, this participant remained at the table having glued two or three leaves in place and with another 5 or 6 sitting alongside the paper. She "finished" one composition and then moved onto a second.

I let her know that there was no timeline for her art work, that she could continue without the group. She welcomed this and did so. When she stood up and decide she was finished, she asked if she could take the rest of the leaves home and work on them later. Again, this is part of her routine regarding on-site activities. She watches others complete projects and then assess hers in relation to what she sees as "so much better than mine." However, she is an excellent artist and has previously painted pictures of horses that drew her many compliments from both peers and staff.  This is part of who she is now and that will not change, nor is it my intention to try and "change" her. Instead, I and the entire Bridge staff encourage and support how each senior participates now.

We celebrate the present moment - the only moment there is. The participant photoed directly above will not remember that she did art today or that any of the leaves glued down were glued down by her. We never insist a participant acknowledge their art work. We never say, "Come on, you remember. You did this with "A" this afternoon." That would truly be coming from our desire for acknowledgement. For an hour she expressed herself via fall leaves, glue and paint. That was the timeline of the experience. A half hour later, it no longer exists.

"A" reminds all of us, process over product. I am already looking forward to her next visit.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Celebrating Renilde Montessori


I was fortunate enough to have met Renilde Montessori and to have engaged in conversation with her. What do I remember about this remarkably graceful woman ? That she was an avid doodler. She drew the most amazing, complex and artistic doodles that I have ever seen. It is the small details we remember. She was a petite woman with an enormous vision. Farewell Renilde Montessori, farewell.

Follow the link to view AMI's recently released collection of tributes celebrating her life - Renilde Montessori


"Ice Fishing in Alaska" - Science with Seniors

Ok...we weren't actually "ice fishing," but we did have a lot of fun! Humor is key to engaging seniors in activities. It is not an across the board approach as each senior has their own unique way of engaging with the world at large and with others who occupy that world alongside them. Yet, a good laugh is often welcomed. Everyone had several last week during Science with Seniors.

I like to start each science group with a brief repeat of an activity from the week before. For those seniors who do not have advanced dementia, this prepares them for this week's activity. It reminds them of the enjoyment they had engaging with prior experiments. It also reminds me of a Montessori teaching philosophy about building trust from those that you are instructing, teaching, leading or guiding - pick your word. This trust that you are going to give interesting and challenging lessons opens the door to future teaching/leading/guiding moments. "Susan, you always show us stuff that makes us think," was one of the comments I was told by a senior last week. The woman who said it pointed her finger at me as she did and then said, "We don't tell you enough how much we appreciate you, but we really do, Susan. We really do." So what was it that we did? Oh, yeah! We went ice fishing.

I started the science group with two static electricity activities. These provided immediate results and such good, scientific eye candy. Both used balloons. All of the participants rubbed their balloons on their sweaters and vests. Next they held them over a plate of Styrofoam shapes. Those shapes jumped right up to meet the balloon.

The room buzzed with exclamations and laughter. Next,  I removed the Styrofoam shapes and poured about a fourth of a cup of dry Jello onto each of the participant's plates. Again they rubbed the balloons. Again they held them over their plates. It was like the balloons were mini vacuum cleaners. The Jello stirred, swirled and then rose up to cling to the balloons. Unfortunately, though, some of the seniors could not see, due to issues regarding their vision, the movement of the Jello as well as the Styrofoam shapes.

As interest in the Styrofoam and Jello was slowly waning, I walked around with my assistant and removed all of the items used for the static electricity exercises. I then spoke briefly about how the Styrofoam "clung" to the balloon. That the balloon could lift them up off the plate. I then explained that temperature can also cause similar reactions. This is when I stated, "It's time to go ice fishing!" Eyebrows raised and a few jaws dropped. I heard, as I hear every week, "What is she up to now?"

My assistant, or aide, placed plastic cups in front of each of the seniors and filled all of them three quarters full. I then gave each participant large, plastic tweezers (these are perfect in size, shape and color and cost $1.49 each) and a piece of yarn that was about six inches in length. We then placed an ice cube in each cup. When everyone had an ice cube, I asked that the participants tie the piece of yarn around the ice cube in the water and pull it up out of the cup. Faces leaned over the cups and then looked up at me like I was crazy. "How do you expect us to do that??" asked one of the more talkative seniors. "Don't worry. I will help you. But, first let me get some salt," I answered with a smile. "Salt? What do you need salt for?" she asked as I headed for the kitchen.

I returned to the table a few seconds later, the kitchen is quite close, and walked over to the senior who had asked me why I was getting the salt. I asked her to place one end of her piece of yarn on top of the ice cube in her cup. She did. Next, I sprinkled salt on the yarn and cube. I waited a few seconds and then asked her to pull up the cube. To her great surprise, she did just that. The cube clung to the piece of yarn and hovered in the air.

I went around the table repeating the above. Some ice cubes stuck immediately to the yarn. Others did not. When the cube did not stick, I explained that the temperature of both the ice and the water had been affected by the addition of the salt. I then replaced the ice cube with a fresh one. I also switched ends of the yarn. Finally, I sprinkled salt on both again. By the end of the group, all had pulled ice cubes up out of the water with their piece of yarn.

Waiting can be a very big challenge for seniors. They can lose interest quickly. Therefore, it is important to choose projects that take about 15 minutes or so to complete from beginning to end. This is why I generally do three science projects/activities during each Science with Seniors group. Also, and this is so important, if a senior decides that they no longer want to do the activity, even after you have briefly encouraged them to stay, simply assist them to get up and move to a place away from the group. This has actually happened at least once during all the activities I have led at The Bridge.

It has nothing to do with the competency of the staff or the quality of the activity. When a senior participant has decided that they are finished with whatever it is that they were doing, then that is it. Grace and courtesy is what you must offer. Insisting that they stay and participate is only about your ego and your ego has no place here. They may not even remember who you are, let alone what it is that you were attempting to show them.

If you are doing your activity at the same tables that they eat their snack and lunch, as I am, don't be surprised if one of the seniors states loudly, "I'm hungry." They are sitting at a table. They don't know what your science activity is all about or why you expect them to. They just know that this is where they eat and there is no food in front of them.

Again the Montessori method returns to me. Use materials appropriately. Unfortunately, these are the only tables available for large group activities - well maybe. I am thinking now of maybe moving this activity to the back room where our table puzzles are done. Yes, I think this might be a good idea. I will ask next week. If not, I will bring table cloths in to change the tables aesthetically and see if that is effective. Again, please remember you are all reading what I call my first field notes.  You are reading my diary, as is written beneath the name of this blog - The Diary of An AMI Montessori Theorist. Gosh, I am so glad I decided to call it that years ago!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Creative Writing with Seniors (2)

I continue to cut words and fragments of sentences out for the seniors to use with their creative writing. However, I added something new today.  I placed photos / pictures I had cut from various magazines on a tray for the participants to use. My intention was twofold. They could pick an image and use that image to prompt them to write something that was a response to it. The other option was that they could select an image, glue it to their paper but not write about it at all. It would serve as an added visual, decorative element. I must note a third option, which was that they did not have to select an image if they did not want to. One of the participants looked at all of the images I offered and said, "I don't like any of these." That was totally acceptable.

One of the means I used today to assist a couple of the participants to simply start constructing poems or prose pieces was to ask them to simply take five of the words/ sentence fragments from the trays and place them on their paper. Once they made their initial choices, they moved forward gluing them down in ways that they elected.

Let me state that a few of the images were chosen by me specifically because I thought that they might appeal to certain participants based on their personal histories. Also, some of the words and sentence fragments were included in the pile because of the same. Three of the participants are Tlingit. Acknowledging their native histories guided me to an extent in some of the material selection. I see that as an important part of my Montessori philosophy. Cultural and creative materials, as well as those in Practical Life, should, to some degree, represent where the seniors reside. They should resonate the history of place.

In some ways, the image limited the creative expression of the participants as their writing was harnessed to what the image was of rather than just flowing freely from them. Too, they wanted words that had to do specifically with the images and their interpretation of those images. I will have to think about how to pick images and words that do not result in my creative voice being too present in their work. I will be spending next Saturday working on this. I will let all of you know what I come up with.

Yet, two of the participants, both Tlingit, were immediately attracted to the images they chose. One of the seniors, a man, sorted through every tray of words / sentence fragments independently and then pieced them together into a prose piece that he titled after I read it aloud, "My Tee Pee." I watched him out of the corner of my eye, now and again, while I assisted others with trays and such.

When I first read his finished piece, I confess, it touched me deeply. My own step-father is a Seneca Indian. He was born on the territory and his voice returned to me as I listened to the prose piece of this male senior at The Bridge. (see the prose piece below identified as written by E1)

The second participant that was immediately attracted to her picture, a man with a bird on his arm, could not find the right cut-out words for the story that she wanted to tell. She had glued a handful in place, but she was getting a little flustered.

I asked if I could get her a pencil so she could write her own words and she said that would be useful. After she wrote a few sentences, she said she was tired and asked if I could write down what she wanted to say. I did. It was a prose piece about something in her childhood. The picture she chose reminded her of "a time long ago." (see the prose piece below identified as written by F1) It is the first memoir-like piece that any of the seniors have written during the creative writing workshops. It uses repetition and it has a feeling of both immediacy and intimacy.

After this fourth creative writing workshop was finished and I was packing up the supplies, one of my assistants approached me. He had helped out during the activity.  He said, "It is really great how you can hear each of their voices in their writing. They all chose words from the same trays, but their choices are so related to who they are as individuals." He was right, absolutely right.

These are the pieces written today:


We love -  gifts out of time - life is a miracle
Choosing hope - the whole truth
The best medicine is LOVE



Winter Stars
The Spirit of
It is hard to put into words the moment of truth


C1 (no picture chosen)

my friend
you must




A pretty face
Why is the moon big 
Make some magic
The sky is the limit.



A passage of seasons. A walk in the woods
We never forget the child's deep delight
Planet Earth. America America
Family is everything. Beauty in Motion
The place where you live. The spirit of the wolf. Back on the Prairie



Memory In The Place Where You Live


Makes me think of when I use to feed

ravens on my porch 
they sat on my arm
when I fed them.
In Angoon, on my porch.
They just came and
fed from my hand.
People would be amazed
when they saw me feed the
ravens sitting on my arm
on my porch
in Angoon. 



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rumi's Lame Goat

Ok...I confess. I get all goofy and swoon in the knees when I see a lesson or an activity independently chosen, used and then returned to the shelf for the first time after I have initially demonstrated it.

I also confess that I sometimes feel like a birch tree in a forest of elms when it comes to applying Montessori methods to seniors. Yes, I have spent hours and hours on the web reading about its application by skilled practitioners and so, yes, I know that it truly makes sense. I have also read that senior programs, on an international level, are beginning to, or have been for years, using the Montessori method more and more.

But, now and again, I sit at home asking myself if I should put together trays or order the pink tower or maybe, just maybe, re-think it all over again, and then again. I, like all of you, need to observe what is working and what is possible. I need my own Montessori moment...I confess, I do. I know its not about our egos...but, we do want to know that our efforts are effective and are serving those we assist or guide. can imagine that my heart leaped when one of the participants at The Bridge elected to take the magnet tray off the shelf and use it independently. He took it to a table, removed all of the items and then asked for some tape so that he could re-try the magnet and the paper clip component. He was so successful that he started laughing out loud. That is really what made my heart leap.

And then...he put all of the objects back on the tray and returned it to the shelf.

This participant spends much of his day in a recliner or sitting off by himself, unless great effort is made to engage him in exercises and/or games. He does not have dementia, so he can recall how to use the items on the tray. He used them today exactly as we had two weeks ago.

I's good. It's all good. Truth is I have only just begun this new Montessori journey. Truth is I am a guide and in that role sometimes I follow and sometimes I lead. I close with a couple of poems I read this morning that spoke to me about all this. They inspired me. I hope they will inspire each of you to continue even when you find yourself asking with that quiet, inner voice of yours, "What the heck am I doing?"

The Lame Goat

You've seen a herd of goats
going down to the water.

The lame and dreamy goat
brings up the rear.

There are worried faces about that one,
but now they're laughing,

because look, as they return,
that goat is leading!

There are many different kinds of knowing.
The lame goat's kind is a branch
that traces back to the roots of presence.

Learn from the lame goat,
and lead the herd home.   --- Jellaludin Rumi


The Seven Of Pentacles

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.   

---- Marge Piercy

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Practical Life with Seniors -- A Feeling of Purpose

The role of care giver is often lost to those individuals living with dementia or Parkinson's disease, and more. The majority of seniors at The Bridge or in most senior programs are women. Not to be sexist, but instead to think in terms of gender identification and in terms of associated behavior with historical time periods, these women were often the caregivers in their domestic settings. Women born in the late 1920's and 30's were socially defined by childbearing and marriage, as well as their religious commitments and the roles that they played regarding the promotion of their religion.

Yet, these same seniors may not recognize their adult children's faces or remember how many children that they had. Most do remember that they had children, but they can't put their finger on who they were or are, exactly.

While stating that, it is also true that some of the seniors remember more than others regarding their personal history. Also, that sometimes, for those with more advanced dementia, memories surface regarding spouses and households that..well, a visual image just popped into my head...are like clouds...visible and with form one minute...dispersing and reshaped the next. Or. all together absent.

Still, another tributary of  thought regarding this feeds off, some openly grieve, weeping on and off, about their spouse's death or the loss of their own parents. Also, some express anger and disappointment regarding their inability to simply care for themselves or others. Anger and frustration being another means of expressing grief - they have lost their independence, and too, their identity (the degree of this loss is defined by what stage of dementia they have reached). They express feelings of uselessness. They grow depressed and withdraw. In one case, here at The Bridge, a simple, kind act by a senior suffering from those same feelings, evolved into a daily act. This act has given her a role, a sense of purpose and an opportunity to care for others. Too, she is now more active and appears happier.

She had in her purse two things that pertained to eyeglasses, besides a pair of them also. She had the felt eyeglass case she sewed with me a few months ago and she had an eyeglass cleaning cloth that she kept inside its original, plastic envelope. This little, grey cloth became a key to re-establishing her as a caregiver amongst her senior peers.

However, she had previously tried to assist those in their walkers to the bathroom and such, yet she was told repeatedly by myself and other staff that she may not assist them as they could fall and get hurt. She needed to have an activity that did not put those that she wanted to care for in a perilous position. The cloth worked.

Everyday, now, this particular senior is provided the opportunity and the time to clean the eyeglasses of her fellow seniors. She walks from one to the next asking if she can do this task for them. They all always agree. She does the same routine every time.

Wait...I am getting red in the face writing this and my eyes are watering...ooops. There is no place at work for me to reveal my emotions. It is the same in the Montessori classroom when you view a child working with such dedication and concentration that you come to understand what the phrase "the spirituality of work" truly means, as you in fact witness it. I have stepped out of my classroom on many such occasions so as to wipe tears from my eyes and then stepped back in so as to quietly continue observing the work. My emotions have no place in either The Bridge or the Classroom. Yet, beauty is everywhere, as is inspiration. This woman's "work" is both beautiful and inspirational.

She does the same routine every time... She takes the glasses being handed to her from another, holds them up to the light and slowly shakes her head left to right. "How can you see. These really need cleaning. I will do it. These will be so clean when I am done. Just wait. Let me do a good job."

She carefully unfolds the cloth again. She refolds and folds it each time she walks from one senior to the next. She leans over the lenses and rubs the cloth on the glass, again and again. After she has spent a few minutes cleaning, she holds them back up to the light, "That is so much better. Here, they are clean now, but let me know if you need me to clean them again. It's no problem, really." She then refolds the cloth and walks over to the next eyeglass wearing peer. When all of the eyeglasses have been cleaned, she places the folded cloth back into its plastic case and returns it to her purse.

This Practical Life Activity is repeated everyday. Actually, last week her plastic case went missing. All of the seniors started looking for it. She became very agitated and accused one of taking it. After about 10 minutes, it was found on the floor under a table. She apologized to the individual she accused. They calmly said to her, "You do a good job cleaning our glasses, yes you do. I am glad you found your case." This brief "hunt" demonstrated how significant this individual act has become not just to the one who does it, but to the entire community.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Science For Seniors (4) - Balloon Magic

Science was a huge hit last week. I presented three activities with balloons. Two of which were engaged individually by each of the participating seniors. The third...well, I had trouble reaching up and positioning the balloon before it sped across the room, so this one was simply scientific eye candy.

The first activity included a repeat presentation on magnets and how magnets draw to them some objects, but not others. Also, I demonstrated, again, how a paper clip could appear to "float" in the air just beneath the strong pull of a magnet. Because the majority of the seniors have some degree of dementia, they did not recall me doing this activity the week before. It was fresh and new to them.

Next, I put aside the magnet and began talking about static electricity. I asked if anyone every pulled clothing from a dryer and noticed how some items clung to each other. Too, that when these items were pulled a part that there was a soft, crackle sound. "Yes, I saw that. That is called static electricity. It makes your hair stand up when you put on a sweater just taken out of the dryer," one senior stated in a matter of fact voice just before taking a sip of ice water.

I thanked them for their comment and said, "Yes, exactly. We are going to create static electricity now and we are going to the use the static, instead of the magnetic, to pick up these paper figures." I then placed four of the pre-cut shapes on the red place mat before me. I had placed one of the place mats in front of each of the seniors, also.

I had one of my assistants blow up eight balloons just prior to the activity and so I placed one of those in front of me also.  I can not emphasize enough how important it is that all materials be prepared prior to the activity. Maintaining excitement and enthusiasm for the activity is essential. Not having everything ready is the fastest way to lose the group's interest. This is the same for any group, regardless of age.

The blue balloon in front of me had captured the attention of all of the seniors. Some had leaned forward in their seats to see just what I was going to do with it. I picked it up and rubbed it several times up and down on my sweater. I then held it over the paper figures and watched as they leaped up, clinging to the bottom of the balloon. Everyone smiled and some laughed. Soon, every senior was rubbing a blue balloon and/or the paper figures on their sweaters.

Again and again, they picked up the paper cut-outs. This first segment of  "Science With Seniors" was very successful and so was the next.

After several moments of working with the balloons and the cut-outs, I asked that everyone hand me their balloons and paper figures. I then stated that one of the assistants had tired themselves out blowing up all those balloons. I said this with a smile and a laugh. I said that we were going to need another way to blow up the rest of these balloons. I then placed ten empty balloons on my place mat. "I have a great idea! Let's use science to blow them up!" I said enthusiastically. "What is she up to now?" I heard one senior ask another.

I placed an empty, narrowed necked bottle on the table. I had several waiting on a table behind me. Too, I had all of the other materials positioned there. I then placed a funnel, a bottle of vinegar and a bagful of baking soda next to the bottle. "What is all that?" a participant asked. "All of this is going to blow up this balloon," I answered flashing a huge grin.

I placed the funnel into the bottle and poured vinegar into it until it was about 3/4 full. Next, I put the funnel into the opening of the balloon and then placed 4 tablespoons (or a little more) of baking soda into it and into the balloon. Next, I stretched the opening of the balloon over the opening of the bottle.  I looked up and noted that I had everyone's attention. The table was completely quiet. I then lifted the balloon up so that the baking soda feel into the bottle and into the vinegar. It was like feeding coal to a fire. The bubbles rumbled loudly. The balloon inflated larger and larger. I am absolutely not exaggerating when I say that everyone was hooting and hollering with absolute excitement.

My assistant worked alongside several of the seniors, while I worked with others so that each of them had the opportunity to do the baking soda/vinegar/balloon activity.  Some could put the balloon opening over the neck of the bottle, while others needed help. All did the pouring work themselves. All lifted the balloon so that the ingredients mixed and that the reaction occurred.

There was a moment when the laughing was so loud that I had to walk around and make sure that no one slipped off the seat of their chair. Maintaining the safety of all is always important.

The day was coming to a close and I had one last balloon "magic trick" planned. Hehehehe!

Before I even asked everyone to join me for science, I taped the end of a string on the outside of one of the cabinets and then threaded it through a straw. Next, I stretched the string, with the straw, tautly across the room and taped it on the opposite wall. I did this while the seniors were on a "walkabout." It was now time for this third and final segment of the afternoon's science activities to be acted out.

My assistant and I cleaned away the bottles with their now deflated balloons. I then walked over to  the the string and asked that everyone turn towards me. They were also encouraged and assisted to do so by my assistant. I took one of the three remaining balloons that had been blown up for the static activity and I positioned it just under the straw. Next, I placed two piece of tape over the top of the straw and down the sides of the balloon. I was careful not to squeeze the straw closed so that it would still be able to slide up and down the length of the string. I took a pair of scissors, and while all watched, I clipped off the knotted end of the inflated balloon.

It sped down the string like a sled down a snow covered hill. It shot down that string - oh yeah! And again there were hoots and hollers from the seniors. I did it twice more.

As the last balloon whipped down the string, one of the senior's caregiver entered the room. This middle- aged daughter stood next to her mother and, observing that there were balloons here and there, asked if she had missed the party. I explained that we were just finishing "Science With Seniors." She laughed and said, "I love it! Do you have science for middle-aged, pre-menopausal women? Let me know if you do because I love science too!"

One of the reasons that "Science With Seniors" is so successful is that all of the participants are successfully engaged. They hold a magnet over some metal hooks and the hooks cling to the magnet. The cause and effect works. It uplifts their spirit. They can do this. They may no longer be able to drive, use a stove or a telephone, but when they rub a balloon on their sweater it creates static electricity and the world is alive with possibility...well for an hour or so. And that is so much when you really think about much.