Friday, May 22, 2015


Many yummy things come out of Oakland ... wish they got more press like this.

I don't think this is what we thought global warming would look like... but it is possibly more heartbreaking than those dust bowl scenarios.  I think we are courting disaster either way ... and we don't see our part in it at all.

I have an uncle who moved to the high desert a long time ago because he was stationed out there, but he never came back.  Whenever I asked him why, he always told me that Oxnard was going to fall into the ocean and he would have beach front property some day.  Well, that has never come to pass, but it looks like the geologists are starting to side with my uncle now... time to head for the hills?

Hooray for BEES! I love them probably because I have never been stung, so I don't have the sense to fear them.  All I can think of are those pollen crazy bees rolling around in the middle of beautiful poppies at the Getty Center.  HOORAY FOR BEES!

This is heartbreaking, and not just because I worked for an organization whose stated goal was to close the gap.

Well, this NRU has taken a dark turn, and I grudgingly include this here because the story has emerged (again) due to the suicide cluster in an affluent, overachieving part of Silicon Valley. The truth is, as the article points out, this is not a problem only for the rich or the smart, it is an issue for all teenagers.  I loved the best advice this psychologist (M. Levine) offered to parents on On Point: say no more often. Children need to learn, from an early age, that they cannot have what they want all the time, right away, or even, sometimes at all.  It is an adult's job to teach children that it is not, in fact, the end of the world when things are not just right, right now.  We should also help children to understand that waiting for things to pass/happen is also a way of the world.  For all of you that think that kids will pick up on this on their own, meander over to an elementary school and have a candid conversation with the principal about the kinds of "behavior" problems he/she witnesses every day.  It is our job as adults, and primarily that of parents, so, yes, the fingers will be pointing directly at you - get used to it, or do something about it with your children. [Getting off the soapbox - the great thing about the blog is being able to spout off knowing that hardly anyone reads it, therefore, many tiny feelings intact in my non-internet circle of people.]

Ok, in an attempt to take us back into the light, a little pop culture that is Los Angeles inspired but the story is really about Mexico and a band called Mexrissey -- and this is really for Joel, who if he hasn't seen this, would LOVE it.  Taken me so long to post this, here is the follow up on how it went.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Poetry Thursday

Soneto VI

En los bosques, perdido, corté una rama oscura
y a los labios, sediento, levanté su susurro:
era tal vez la voz de la lluvia llorando,
una campana rota o un corazón cortado.
Algo que desde tan lejos me parecía
oculto gravemente, cubierto por la tierra,
un grito ensordecido por inmensos otoños,
por la entreabierta y húmeda tiniebla de las hojas.
Pero allí, despertando de los sueños del bosque,
la rama de avellano cantó bajo mi boca
y su errabundo olor trepó por mi criterio
como si me buscaran de pronto las raíces
que abandoné, la tierra perdida con mi infancia,
y me detuve herido por el aroma errante.

~Pablo Neruda
Cien sonetos de amor 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


I read this post and tears came to my eyes, but lightness to my heart ...
wow... what a gift to teach your child these life skills -- I was going to write coping strategies -- but they are much more than that -- skills with which to not only deal with challenges, but how to pursue life, or adventures, as they like to call them.

I am writing run-ons with abandon because I have been grading written responses for endless hours these past few days... and no one here can stop me from writing run-ons....

...and flowers seen in Denver


Friday, May 15, 2015

NRU mish mash

**you will see from the collection here that I have been collecting these for quite a while ... alas... this news round up may be anything but timely -- *not new news* -- enjoy anyway.

I am not sure I *believe* in marriage -- its value or necessity -- but I sure do oppose the hypocrisy that this young woman describes as her reason for speaking out.

The tragedy in Nepal is stunning on so many levels -- but what strikes me is that in this world there are so very many things that we cannot control, like earthquakes (for the most part), that wreck havoc.  Then there are all those other things, like climate change, which we may not control but certainly have a hand in.  We could do a little more to keep that tragedy from happening ...  here all we can do is dig deep and help in whatever way we can.  But, I was struck by this author's take on the resilience of the Nepali -- and their relationship with impermanence:
"We Nepalis know suffering. ...
But my people are also resilient. Already Nepalis are uniting to deal with this most recent tragedy. They are digging through the rubble for survivors."
This was a fantastic piece ... compassion and empathy and soothing of our guilt for not being *perfect* at handling our parents growing old ... for all those who are caretakers or ponder the wisdom of becoming their parents' caretakers.

The affects of climate change are everywhere ... and in many places that we have never even worried about. Here is one.  At every turn, our planet is asking us to consider what it will mean to give up all of these things, to set in motion the destruction of so many things, little or big, just so that we can continue to eat beef, drive gas guzzlers, air condition EVERYTHING and not consider our role in any of it.

Everything Frida Kahlo -- or at least the latest... enjoy. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Poetry Thursday

Entre tu verdad mas honda
y yo
me pones siempre tus besos,
La presiento, cerca ya,
la deseo, no la alcanzo;
cuando estoy mas cerca de ella
me cierras el paso tu,
te me ofreces en los labio.
Y ya no voy mas alla.
Triunfas. Olvido, besando,
tu secreto encastillado.
Y me truecas el afan
de seguir mas hacia ti,
en deseo
de que no me dejes ir
y me beses.
        Ten cuidado.
Te vas a vender, asi.
Porque un día el beso tuyo,
de tan lejos, de tan hondo
te va nacer,
que lo que estas escondiendo
detrás de el
te salte todo a los labios.
Y lo que tu me negabas
-- alma delgada y esquiba --
se me entregue, me lo des
sin querer
donde querias negarmelo.

-Pedro Salinas, 1855
La voz a ti debida

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Taking another break from home ... and California, this time...
I may or may not be posting more than NRUs and Poetry Thursday.

We'll see where and how the spirit moves.

Monday, May 11, 2015


I am in denial about how quickly time passes ... and that it is already May ... it is beyond me that this could be true.

However, the signs are every where ... the other day, when I was still in Oxnard, I was sitting at the kitchen table at the animal hour.

Every day, I have noted, around 10am, the street has quieted down sufficiently (less cars, hardly no people) that all the birds (and sometimes other animals, like WILD BUNNIES) take over.

Sometimes they are so loud, I actually go outside to see what is going on -- usually it is the larger birds having dirt baths outside the kitchen door.

So, this day, I was sitting there, having my breakfast, when all of a sudden two birds barely made their landing attempt on a plant right outside the window.   As I looked at them, I realized that they were young ... though big, perhaps mockingbird juveniles.  They looked at each other, seemingly proud to have not bonked into the window or fallen on to the ground.  And then they took off again.

I sat there happily imagining the tale they would tell their parents as they returned to the nest they no longer fit into... think teenager stoner voice "it was sooo cooool, we both landed, like, together, and it was AWESOME!"

Throughout that day, I noted small birds traveling in packs, nearly bending over branches as they all wanted to land simultaneously. I imagined that after so much togetherness in the nest, it was hard to imagine going anywhere not stuck to your brother or sister bird.

Friday, May 08, 2015

may days

The early May birthdays in my family are now a jumble of happy and sad memories.

We said goodbye to my sister on my dad's 80th birthday.  So, while we celebrate more time with my dad, I know that there is not one of us that doesn't also think of my sister ... and her loss, especially as we look around the table.

Today is another one of those days.  My nephew turned 11 ... and my brother would have been 55.  For my brother's 50th, we had a big double celebration at my uncle's ranch.  We were all together and more than happy -- the two birthday boys were celebrating big.

I am missing my nephew's birthday for the first time since we lost my sister. 

I celebrated with him on Tuesday and will give him more birthday love when I return.

I have to say in some way it is liberating to be far ... and feel sad if I want to because I miss my brother.  In family, there is a need to always be public happy ... or at least not sad ... and it is exhausting.

Happy birthday to two of my favorite guys ...

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Poetry Thursday

Time heals grief 
and quarrels 
for we change 
and are no longer 
the same person.
~Blaise Pascal

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


A friend of mine identified this the year of forgiving ourselves -- of finding that compassion we want to lavish on others, and applying it first to ourselves.

I wish I could remember this without having to drag myself through the mud first.

I still have not become skillful enough to recognize how I am causing my own suffering without piling on to that suffering by berating myself.

I have to say, not super helpful.  In fact, not helpful at all.

So, wishing you all the awareness with a large dose of forgiveness and compassion for your tender soul.

We may do it [slip, fall, even wallow in our self-made suffering], but we rarely mean to do it [make ourselves suffer more].

Monday, May 04, 2015

happy bday, pops!

Dad with his sisters and cousins
Happy 82nd to my dad.  He drives me crazy in his old age, as I am sure I drove him crazy in my youth.  He is still my favorite Taurus... the man with the most integrity, compassion and generosity I have ever known.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Practicing Gratitude

Let us be grateful 
to people who make
us happy; they are the 
charming gardeners 
who make our 
souls blossom. 
~Marcel Proust 

I have the best friends in the world.  
They are so much more than family.  
And they save me everyday.
And I am ever so grateful.  
They tend to my garden when I cannot find the strength to pull the weeds and water the plants.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Poetry Thursday

When you really listen 
to yourself,
you can heal yourself.
~C. Deroham

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

busy bees

I finally made it to the Getty Center ... my niece was going for extra credit with her art appreciation class, and we all (mom, me and the mijo) tagged along.

In an attempt to keep the mijo occupied, who was already bored during the short drive there, I let him decide how we would explore the "campus."

One great thing was that they had iPods with tour info, maps and other features available for all to use.  We quickly grabbed our tech gear.  This allowed the mijo to look through stuff to his content -- no more "bored" moments. 

Whenever bored threatened to overtake him, he would find another way to use the iPod.  For instance, one option was to key in codes to hear more about certain pieces.  He discovered that he could key in numbers randomly like a game.  As it was an iPod Touch, there was often visuals to go with the audio.  So, not only would he get to hear about a piece, he often got to see it on the screen as well.  Consequently, he had *viewed* much more of the museum by the end of the trip than the rest of us.

His favorite, though, was when he discovered a set of audio pieces that spoke in the voice of an animal depicted in one of the art works.  He was very engaged with his technology -- often interrupting whatever I was listening to or looking at in order to tell me that I *needed* to listen to THIS!

He decided we should start in the garden ... turns out it was a good choice because the sun went away after our garden tour and rain threatened the rest of the day.  It was quite chilly ... windy, gray and angel spit.

But the gardens were beautiful ... and the best part were the bees.  I have never seen such happy bees.

I am not sure if you will be able to appreciate this from the photos, but these bees were rolling around in the pollen like dogs in dirt!


We went from flower to flower watching these little guys revel in the pollen. 

It gives one hope for *happiness* in the every day, even in the *work* we must do (I say hopefully as I return to my papers...)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Some days are like this...

Anger is a refuge.

Maybe it is a fort.

Maybe it is an impediment.

I don’t know, but it seems to be the *safest* emotion for me right now.

Maybe it is not safe, just readily available.

When I think of refuge, I picture Julie’s house with beds where you can sleep til noon and gardens where beauty can distract you from any pain.

It feels safe there.

Yes, there are mean and unthinking people everywhere, but somehow Julie’s house is safe.

Anger is not that kind of refuge. Anger is the hot tears turned inward creating a shield.

Anger reminds me that I have to fight against all the impulses to believe I am not worthy.  Anger has kept me alive so many times that I am reluctant to give it up or denigrate it.

But it also feels like a yoke. And it certainly leads to misunderstandings.

I yearn for safety, for someone to protect me so that I won’t need anger. But it is so hard to feel safe enough to let go of the anger.

What a crazy circle of pain, loneliness and peril. And, yes, it is of my own making. It is the definition of suffering.

NRU mish mash

This is yet another heartbreaking tale of our failure to both treat (medically and socially) and integrate into society folks with mental illness.  I am not an expert, but I am pretty sure that we cannot legislate our way into a solution ... but I feel for the families who have tried so hard to get their loved ones help.

A return to the natural way of disposing of dead bodies... is this a way to begin to heal the earth?

I had the pleasure of reading Eduardo Galeano when I was in college and then the great opportunity to see him at a book reading in Berkeley just before I started graduate school.  If you have never read his work, pick up one of them.  As this piece recounts, Galeano's work is part history, part poetry, or as Galeno called his style sentipensante (coincidentally quoting from a review by one of my best former supervisor's).  May you rest in peace, sir.

Lovely piece on a Holocaust survivor who is still making pastries ... now in Lake Tahoe.  Sometimes we just need stories of resilience and survival, you know, to remind us that strength is a good thing.  Ernie, may your light continue to shine.

A current, persistent annoyance is that many people, too many people, I know keep telling me that they get their "news" from places like fb ... this article should suggest to those people, and many others, that sources need to be scrutinized at all times -- even the newspaper, I know...

I think of all the precious, priceless brains lost to football, and I find it heartbreaking.  I hate football.  I am never going to be convinced it is a worthwhile pursuit for anyone -- because I think it is soul sucking for those who watch it -- they just don't realize how much of their humanity they relinquish every time they cheer for someone to be crushed senseless.

Friday, April 24, 2015

NRU mostly education

This is an inspiring and disheartening article all in one.  Over 25 years ago, when I was a first generation, not necessarily low-income, student at Princeton, we faced these SAME issues.  I am glad that the students are organizing themselves around the issue rather than just striving to be corporate tools.  I am sure that there are still those aspirations among some of these first gen students.  I am disheartened because the issues remain so striking - perhaps more striking.  These students have more financial help, in most cases, and yet describe similar

The importance of a college education for young people, however, continues to pile in ... despite all the anti-college rhetoric.  Yes, it will cost something to get it; and No, any building with the word "college" does not count.  In the end, the college education will still be more valuable than another 4-10 years in close to minimum wage earning ... which has its own detrimental aspects for the economy as a whole. If only the vast majority of people did not rely solely on FB for their news.

I am not sure how to feel about this story at all ... are they vicious felons that need to be punished or folks caught in a vise of our making?  I am sorry that no one could figure out how to use this situation to open a dialogue about the usefulness of the very tests they were accused of cheating.  That might have been worth the waste of so much time and money.

Um... I am not sure if this is education and not exactly sure how to feel about it, either, but it is *interesting* -- blogger smackdown about who is more uninformed?  blogger smackdown about who is more popular? the problem with too much information and too little filtering?  the problem of people believing anything that is on the internet? Maybe it is just about when we want to believe what we see/hear (not necessarily read because I am not sure who is reading ....).

Last week was National Public Library Week... and many people wrote a bunch of articles, but this is the one that I really liked.  So, I am sharing it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Poetry Thursday

Gentle time will heal our sorrow.

Or so we are promised....

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


He who has gone, so we 
but cherish his memory,
abides with us,
more potent, 
nay more present
than the living man.

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


These three letters are my life right now.

Don't ask me how I am ... unless you want to hear me say that.

These are hard days under any circumstances, but worse lately.

I am going to visit my sister's resting place tomorrow -- on the second anniversary of us letting her go. 

My head hurts, and my eyes threaten to get salty (that's what mijo calls it).  Last night I made it until 6pm before I had to take a nap.  The emotional energy it takes me to be upright at present is exhausting.  Exhausting.

I am at my *office* with the headphones on ... as loud as I can stand it... and I can't motivate to do work.  I can barely get this out.

When will it get better?  When will those awful memories of the hospital only be like a scene from a horror movie? Instead, I relive them in excruciating detail ... because the farther away from it we get, the more I remember.  It is a nightmare. 

I guess it is all just part of that "you have to go through it" part of grieving.  The more *able* I am to *handle* it (too many loaded words around here), the more I have to relive? 

These are the days when I wish I weren't *strong* -- if I were just a little pool on the floor, at some point I would evaporate, right? It would be over...