Monday, August 31, 2015

NRU mishy and mashy

So much going on ... some good news and and some not so good news and some just interesting...

Good news:  twin pandas born at the Smithsonian Zoo! It is my favorite zoo.  I might have to try to get a trip to DC in six months or so to see those cute little things.  So sad, the smaller twin didn't make, fingers crossed for the other one!

I am thinking this proactive stance on community health work is good news ... though I am putting it a little closer to the neutral because it almost sounds too good to be true.  Hope it is working as well as this article suggests.

In the neutral category, here is a story about Dream Summer -- a program to train immigration activists.  It is not that I am not glad that there is a program such as this, but it is not really a jump up and down kind of news piece. Also, I am somewhat fearful of the kinds of training that will need to be added to this program to rebut the Trump nonsense.

I was so excited as read through this article ... I didn't even bother to look at the pictures first.  The first shot looked promising anyway -- a new Prius -- and one that doesn't look like the current crazy one.  But then I got to the part that said, still a hatchback and my hopes were once again dashed.  Ah well, not a truck and not a real trunk and ... hopes dashed again.  So, instead I just hope and pray my little car hangs in there.

Bad news... I would like to say I am surprised that these women had to endure this humiliation -- and racism.  I hope this demonstrates, again, why NAPA is not the wine country folks of color want to spend time in.  Sonoma, Santa Ynez Valley, Temecula, Santa Barbara ... so many places to taste wine, let's see if we can find some that are less racist.  -- And a lovely way to protest the racist train, which did finally get around to "apologizing" and retracting their rash fb statement, is to visit some Black owned wineries in California. Putting them on my list -- maybe I will even stop on my way back to Oakland next week at the one in Santa Ynez Valley!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Poetry Thursday, children's rhyme

The ladybug's a beetle.
It's shaped like a pea.
Its colour is a bright red
With lots of spots to see.
Although the name is "ladybug",
Some ladybugs are "men"
So why don't we say "gentleman bug"
Every now and then?

Ok.... so it's beginning to look like a theme, but it won't last long... this obsession will pass.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I owe you one ...

Last week I did not post a Poetry Thursday -- and it is already WEDNESDAY -- how does that happen?

In any case, my favorite blogger/ecourse giver/former life coach posted this today and I swiped it. Hope you like it, I did!

And I have read almost everything Erdrich has written ... sometimes I love her and sometimes I hate her, but I can't put her damn books down once I get my hands on them.

“Life will break you. 
Nobody can protect you from that, 
and living alone won’t either, 
for solitude will also 
break you with its yearning. 
You have to love. 
You have to feel. 
It is the reason 
you are here on earth. 
You are here to risk 
your heart. 
You are here to be 
swallowed up. 
And when it happens 
that you are broken, 
or betrayed, 
or left, or hurt, 
or death brushes near, 
let yourself sit 
by an apple tree and 
listen to the apples falling 
all around you in heaps, 
wasting their sweetness. 
Tell yourself 
you tasted 
as many 
as you could.” 
~Louise Erdrich
swiped from friend's fb

Monday, August 24, 2015

NRU CA sights

This is what I imagine in my mind when I think of over-the-top SoCal places.  Whoever this developer is, he seems to understand that idea pretty well.

Here is more for the stranger than fiction file -- there are so many television movies waiting to be written right now about the way we live.  We don't need zombies or aliens, this is enough.  I am always sorry when these are made into those dramatic-mentaries like 48 hours.  I would prefer a lifetime style movie.

Oaklandish ... an interview in the NY Times ... hmmm.

NY Times piece about the artist Ramiro Gomez and his special take on Los Angeles.

NYTimes feeling sentimental about the Sunset Strip.

Goodness... I sincerely hope that the LAPD is serious about this training and the attitude shift towards peace officers from the enforcers.  It would certainly be a monumental change in the way that this law enforcement agency does business.  And ... if they can do it, then there is no reason for this change to not cascade through out the country.  This is the kind of change we need ... this is the peace we have been calling for.  After I wrote this, I stumbled on this other timely piece on the "demands" -- good to see that the protesters have now drawn the line in the sand ... or ten.  I would make number 7 into number 1, certainly more important than body cameras, in my opinion.  Though I totally agree that we must investigate and prosecute police officers who kill citizens or else we will never get them to stop doing it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A lesson in lady bugs

I have been meaning to post this all week -- but I just never got around to editing it. So, unedited, here it is...

A while ago, I was walking on the beach and the ladybugs helped me to understand boundaries. Here's what happened.

I noted often when I walked along the beach that bees were washed up with the tide.
I kept track of them, so that I wouldn't step on a stinger.  I wondered what caused them to be there, but I didn't worry about them. Perhaps I think of bees as so strong and capable that they are above worry (though this surely is not the case given our issues with pesticide).  Maybe once I saw one that was water-logged but still struggling to stay alive. I can't remember giving it a second thought.

One day, however, it was not bees strewn along the coast, it was ladybugs. It seemed as though there were so many of them, everywhere.  This time, I noted just how many were still alive and truly struggling to either right themselves or get away from the rising tide.

I fell into that trap so beautifully mocked when the animated ladybug begins to talk and it is a man's voice in A Bug’s Life.  I saw those ladybugs as helpless without intervention, and that their death would somehow diminish the world that I needed to step in. I was truly concerned.  The poor little helpless ladybug, I needed to step in.

I started by trying to turn over the ones whose little legs were furiously agitating trying to get right side up.  I stopped and turned over quite a few, and then I realized my folly. Sometimes in turning them, I had gotten sand on them -- wet sand. Even those I managed to right without soiling were still struggling in the wet sand. There was no way they would reach the dry sand before the threatening tide would sweep them right back into the ocean.

I never stopped to consider that these little guys had already survived [ON THEIR OWN] this far ... or that their loss might just be a natural part of the life cycle.

As I continued to walk and see more and more of them struggling, I devised a more elaborate plan. I would pick them up, place them on my shirt and let them dry out as I continued to walk. Once back near my car, and far from the waves, I could release them onto some plants. Surely this way, I would SAVE many little precious ladybug lives so that they could happily eat the mean, nasty bugs on the pretty plants.

Feeling I had bested fate, I assiduously picked up ladybugs and then watched them as they either snuggled to my shirt or walked around.  One in particular disappeared into my hair.  Many of them did a lot of walking and when a breeze caught the area near my shirt in just the right way, they opened the red spotted wings to dry out the black flying wings underneath.

At first I was still concerned, convinced the wind would carry those little bugs back to the wet sand and certain death.  As I watched them, unable to reason or cajole them into doing what I thought was best, I realized just how self-sufficient they were.  With careful, reasoned effort, they made the best of the situation despite the giant's interference.

I watched in amazement all the way back to the car, sure that I had not only done the right thing but had worked in partnership with these little guys to give them another day - another chance at eating malicious bugs.

As I approached my car, I talked to the bugs, letting them know my plan to deposit them safely on plants.  I chose some lovely flowers and tried to coax them onto the flowers and leaves.  One or two refused and fell onto the sidewalk.  I drove home content in the belief I had done my best to help these defenseless waterlogged creatures.

At dinner, I was telling my parents all about the ladybugs.  I looked over at my mom and noticed a ladybug in her hair.  I thought that must be the one that hung out in my hair and had somehow flew over to my mom.

It wasn't that night, but perhaps discussing it with my parents that made a light bulb begin to glow.  Slowly because these kinds of revelations take time, I guess, I understood the ladybugs had been trying to teach me a lesson in boundaries.

They never eschewed my help, but they didn't take it openly either.  Those that could not turn on their own gladly gripped my skin, but I had to chase the ones that were already right side up on rocks. Once on my shirt, they no longer *needed* me - they made their own plans for survival - happy to take the ride but free to leave whenever they felt the need.

That one decided to take the ride all the way home was proof that they were in charge of their own destinies -- and my help was either an unnecessary situation they could exploit or another nuisance for which they needed to devise a new strategy.

It turns out that I neither have the responsibility or the right to decide who is helpless, needs my help or should take my help.  It it is important for giants and people in general to know this ... but it is very, very hard for me.

How I have been trying to use this lesson is languishing in another draft ... to be continued.
[Warning .... I have not started this draft, so it could be awhile given my writing habits these days.]

Monday, August 17, 2015

News Round Up (NRU) mishy and mashy

I hope the movie is as good as this review.  Looking forward to it in my new life where I can actually go to the movies (without feeling guilty).

Let's stick with movies for a minute ... I saw these two pieces -- one on how issues of mental illness seem to be well represented this movie season (I LOVED INFINITELY POLAR BEAR!) and a little bit about each movie.  I wanted to see Welcome to Me!  I haven't decided if I can really sit through The End of the Tour, it seems like it might be too painful. I am not very interested in the Beach Boys, but the Love and Mercy movie seems to have hit everyone's sweet spot, so maybe on cable when it hits.

Switching gears, this one was open in my browser for a long time before I could read all the way through it.  It is darker (if something not about mental illness could be darker!) and the preamble is to let you know it's long.  This story of policing is interesting because it offers a different perspective on how we understand what law enforcement is facing these days.  Let no one say that I don't allow other perspectives...because there are a number of stories talking about this kind of policing (finally).

I am loving so much about this idea, plan or rumor - I hope it is a plan that will materialize and not a hope/want that becomes a plan that never happened.  When my community made moves like this, it turned out to be right before a super long drought...but that is how it goes sometimes. We have watched too much good water run out to the sea for too long.  We can no longer afford it.

California and immigrants, documented or not... this is what dealing with reality looks like.

A friend introduced me today to the story of Brother Orange -- it starts here, and then continues here and here.  This is definitely a case of reality being stranger than fiction -- and too funny.  It is the story of our modern life, with technology becoming an integral part of our lives in ways we could not imagine.  It is the story of a bromance and souls separated by continents and then connected by a stolen iphone.  It might take a while, but it will be worth it, I think.

Solidarity Fridge -- wow, I love this story about fighting food waste, the sharing economy and doing rather than talking. I am also excited that this is in SPAIN.

NPR talking to Walter Mosley about Katrina (and Louisiana's connection to Los Angeles) and Watts ... memories...and one of my favorite authors.  I love the way he writes about LA -- his insights here into what SoLA was like when he was a child explain a bit more about the black/brown alliance he lived rather than the current tensions the residents live.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Poetry Thursday

You can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd,
You can't take a shower in a parakeet cage,
You can't drive around with a tiger in your car,
You can't go fishing in watermelon patch,
but you can be happy if you've got a mind to.
All you've got to do is put your mind to it,
knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it!

-Roger Miller

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NRU on race and suicide

These are some dark days ... couldn't keep from posting these.

This is the best I have read on Sandy Bland -- but admittedly, I have had a hard time reading about this AGAIN.  It is too much ... when will we learn? When will we demand respect for all as citizens? When will we check the pride and arrogance of so-called peace officers?

I would apologize for bringing only heavy subjects here for this edition, but these are issues that deserve cogent and deliberate thought and explanation.  This NYTimes article, in the usual long style, is not rambling at all.  It gets right to the point, tells the story of several people, including the focal point who made it through her dark night, in a professional, tactful and insightful way.  In other words, I am bringing these articles as examples of constructive ways to grapple with these hard issues.

One more ... with a silver lining.  I have heard this man's story on NPR and read about it before, but I had never seen the visual.  This piece from the Guardian brings it all home.  Thank goodness for this second chance, thank goodness for those who are not afraid to reach out and offer a hand and a heart and an ear.

Generally speaking, I do not condone news stories based on viral videos, but since I don't usually partake of viral videos, I was interested to read this story.  I can't say excited to read it, more like outraged.  I cannot count the number of times I had to endure dirty looks anytime my mother said something to me in Spanish. My response to this kind of racist nonsense is usually to ask if they would rather I spoke French or Italian, which I can -- in addition to Spanish and English.  Let's be clear, my mother speaks English or Spanish whenever she feels like it -- not because she can't speak one or the other.  To be fair, I suffer a similar racism from Spanish speakers when they hear me speak Spanish -- because someone who looks like me apparently shouldn't be able to speak Spanish.  Judging anyone by what they look like or how they speak or because of the language they speak -- all these actions are racist.  No question.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Longest day

Where I am right now, street cleaning is the second Wednesday every month.

As I walked back from dinner tonight, I decided to move my car ... because Monday was so long, I really believed tomorrow was Wednesday.

It might have something to do with the fact that I started work at 5:30am this morning and worked a long shift yesterday, too.

It might be that after the long shift I took a too long *nap* and didn't start my other work til after 5pm.

Or it might be that I am once again doing the fast-like diet for five days ... and I am on day three.  But I decided to have a glass of wine to help me write... on only 800 calories of food all day.

Not sure which one caused the brain fart ... maybe a combo of all three.

In any case, I will start wishing all happy hump day tomorrow even though it is technically only Tuesday to cover my *mistake*!

On the other hand, I don't need to move my car now until after noon on Wednesday!

Friday, August 07, 2015

NRU education edition

These are dated -- some of them, but it took me a while to be able to actually read them and have something to say.

I am slowly coming out of my terse stage -- or at least trying to.  It might have something to do with a 1000 word a day challenge.

I would like to know when the madness will cease, but I am afraid that we keep doubling down on specious data from standardized test, what those data might mean, and how we are going to apply what we think they are saying.  Ugh.

A primer on social media and bringing state legislators and the public around on higher education spending.  State schools around the country, and at the UC, might do well to see if there are strategies here to help secure legislative support.

I have mixed emotions about this piece. I applaud Cerritos College's efforts and success with Latino students to date (though the numbers are really not that high). But I still wonder if and when many white parents will also be suggesting this place as a first stop rather than going directly to a four year college (hoping they could finish in that time).  I think this piece does, however, provide some very simple insights about the barriers and the scaffolding that addresses those barriers.  As someone quoted in the piece said: this is not rocket science.  If only we could actually apply these lessons in more places.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Poetry Thursday...

The world is not respectable;

it is mortal, tormented, 

confused, deluded forever; 

but it is shot through with 

beauty, with love, with glints

of courage and laughter;

and in these, the spirit blooms...

-George Santyana

Friday, July 31, 2015

Poetry Friday ...

 Oops... somehow Thursday came and went and I forgot to post something.  Here is a little quote to celebrate the blue moon.  I found it on Goodreads, so I cannot really vouch for its veracity. However, I liked the quote ... and I found this little tidbit about the purported author who was allegedly was the mistress of a Russian spy.  Maybe the back story of this quote is even better than the quote, I don't know. 

“Tell me the story...
About how the sun loved 
the moon so much...
That she died every night...
Just to let him breathe...” 
Hanako Ishii

Monday, July 27, 2015

NRU California Sights

Still in my terse phase:

A long and rambling piece on Ojai but the picture are nice!

Article with an interview about the project Blaxicans of LA.

East and west (coasts) meet, sort of, over bagels...

On "sanctuary" and making cities into immigration officials...

South LA speaking directly to the Pope?!

A Ralph's becomes a Ranch 99, and the white people feel attacked ... I would be excited! I love me some Ranch 99!! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Poetry Thursday

At the centre of the lake is fire. 
Radical change.
In the same way, 

the noble one calculates 
the heavenly signs and 
clarifies the seasons.

- I Ching

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NRU mish mash

My mind is swiss cheese and thoughts and words fall through the little holes at will.  That is my current excuse for being so behind in any and all blog posts --even the News Round Up.

There are a million tabs open in my browser with articles to post, but ...

So, here they are with very little commentary because it has taken all my concentration to get this much out ...

I want to read this book.  I wonder, though, who gets the residual ... should I try to buy it used?

So much of the recent crazy news stories have got to be so sad that there is no longer BUMP BUMP, ripped from the headlines -- now we will have to wait for the movie.  Though in the L&O episode, the lawyer was going to have be a Princeton grad because someone over there in that production company sure had a thing about Ptn crazies.

To continue with the crazy pants ... I give you Texas.

If you want the updates on Donald Trump and his shenanigans, you will have to tune in to Jon Stewart -- yes, he is finally back from vacation!

And some almost real news, an interesting story about a woman working on Hilary's campaign...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Poetry Thursday

The Red Wheelbarrow
-William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

I found this article - amused by its title, I decided to read it.  I had never read this poem though I have heard of its author.  I loved the piece, especially following the detective work of the professor and town historian.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


If it is not too late where you live, get out there and see this movie:

I cannot say enough good things about this movie, but I don't want to give anything away.

For anyone who was ever an awkward teenager, or experienced loss, or had cause to regret, you will find something in Me Earl and the Dying Girl.

The actors are so natural, I swear they were not acting.  The writing is priceless.  It is hilarious and moving and fun and tragic and deep and real and hilarious!

Monday, July 13, 2015


Lovely piece about this author's meeting with Harper Lee.

The world is atwitter in anticipation of Lee's novel, to be released this week.  I read an early review, but it felt more like a comparison of Lee's two novels rather than a review of this latest one.  I wondered many times if the reviewer had actually read the novel, or if he/she (didn't look to see who wrote it) had promised not to reveal too much --- most of the quotes seemed to be from To Kill a Mockingbird not Go Set a Watchman.

This piece on the "racism" of the older Atticus Finch was somewhat more interesting on the nuances possible if you could get over your nostalgia for the Mockingbird Atticus.  Of course, the racist constructs we live within are undeniable -- and left unquestioned bloom in our souls even though we may not want to admit it.  As a nation, we carry racism in our social DNA, whether we like it or not.  Through privilege, again whether we acknowledge its existence or not, we are complicit in that societal racism.  We have created so many explanations for our attitudes that promote discrimination that we have a hard time even admitting to the existence of racism -- until it explodes in our faces.  What it made me think more about what it means to age than what it means to be racist. 

Also, that article brought home much of what I have been living with my parents, especially my dad, in their 80s.  The narrowing, the hardening, the anger and grief caused by the trials of aging -- these realities affect, or maybe even change, the ones we love, have known and respected all of our lives, into scared beings who exhibit these challenges through narrow-minded and often prejudiced viewpoints.  These opinions, in my case, are ones I never heard growing up ... and I look at this man, my father, and wonder how he got here -- I have to remind myself that it is mostly fear and helplessness and fear of helplessness that drive his brain right now.  It seems, then, completely appropriate to me that the older daughter's view of her father would be radically different from that of the young daughter in Go Set a Watchman.  Both father and daughter were different people.  And, as a metaphor for race relations in the South both also work -- the closer we get to true integration the more fear rears its ugly head.  Fear, real or perceived, drives our interactions much more than we are willing to admit to ourselves or others.  I haven't decided if I will read the book -- I am sure, though, that it will not change my opinion of To Kill a Mockingbird or its author.

Dementia -- or the aging of our brains -- can take different turns, too, and this article is a sort of* lighter look at that other turn.  (*sort of: I dislike how often we soften every thing we say with SORT OF, but in this case, I meant it not just out of habit).  The article reminds us that the best way to deal with this loss in its embodiment (that is the loved one who is losing his/her memory) is to actually interact with the person in front of us, and not our memory of the person who used to be there.  Of course, this author's experience of dealing with a softer personality is different from dealing with the fearful, narrowed, seemingly prejudiced or racist personality.  The example is still instructive.

I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this article because the topic, twins switched at birth and raised as fraternal instead of identical twins meet up, but it was, again, too long, and I skipped over some parts to get to the story of the brothers... but I did read it to the end.

This is a heartbreaking story about an adopted person and his mother searching for, and finding, each other.  It is not too long and though it brings in the larger issues around this personal story, it does not meander or lose focus - and thus it does not bore the reader.  BRAVO!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Poetry Thursday!

A callarse 
Pablo Neruda 
Ahora contaremos doce
y nos quedamos todos quietos.

Por una vez sobre la tierra
no hablemos en ningún idioma,
por un segundo detengámonos,
no movamos tanto los brazos.

Seria un minuto fragante,
sin prisa, sin locomotoras,
todos estaríamos juntos
en una inquietud instantánea.

Los pescadores del mar frío
no harían dañó a las ballenas
y el trabajador de la sal
miraría sus manos rotas.

Los que preparan guerras verdes,
guerras de gas, guerras de fuego,
victorias sin sobrevivientes,
se pondrían un traje puro
y andarían con sus hermanos
por la sombra, sin hacer nada.

No se confunda lo que quiero
con la inacción definitiva:
la vida es solo lo que se hace,
no quiero nada con la muerte.

Si no pudimos ser unánimes
moviendo tanto nuestras vidas,
tal vez no hacer nada una vez,
tal vez un gran silencio pueda
interrumpir esta tristeza,
este no entendernos jamás
y amenazarnos con la muerte,
tal vez la tierra nos enseñé
cuando todo parece muerto
y luego todo estaba vivo.

Ahora contare hasta doce
y tu te callas y me voy.

 en cancion

translation follows

Keeping Quiet / A callarse

-By Pablo Neruda
-English translation by Stephen Mitchell

Now we will all count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fisherman in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,
if we could perhaps do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

Monday, July 06, 2015


I don't think I ever heard of this man before, and I am sorry to only know of him upon his death.  I hope his 106 years ended peacefully and that he was able to enjoy life knowing he had given that gift to so many. May he rest in peace.

Add this story to the pile of those waiting for situations to be made right.  I hope she gets some measure of justice however delayed.

The New York Times hosted a discussion about race with white folks.  Here is the transcript... there is a video, but I don't watch those because they make my computer blow up.  And, I like to read the news unless it's Jon Stewart.

It is like the news lately is begging for a movie -- girl on girl violence sells, but this story is a little more complicated than that -- it is, as someone in the article suggests, Lord of the Flies, but I would add, meets The Bling Ring meets I don't know what ... spoiled kids, kids sent away from home to school, too much money, too little supervision and too much social media ... they are lucky no one is dead.  

The NYTimes is getting in on the love column ... and this one made me smile.

I am planning to go see this movie tomorrow ... I have heard some interesting commentary about it, looking forward to seeing it for myself.

Too long, but keeps your attention, til about the middle when it starts to feel toooo loooong... story of a person who doesn't really drive, and lives in NY City, who decides to drive in Montana and Wyoming ... go figure.

late addition:  beautiful photo journal of a family --Strangers No More, just gorgeous! I braved non-reader NY Times blowing up my computer to see it.  Worth it.