Friday, December 30, 2011

I don't like or appreciate year end reviews... by that I mean, I like them about as much as I like Christmas music forced upon me for two months... yeah, I don't like them.

So, I will not be recapping anything.

I will be happy to see 2011 go away not because it was bad or onerous, although at times it was... I just like looking forward.

Here is a picture of the sight I am looking forward to seeing tomorrow.

I get on a train this afternoon and tomorrow morning, I will be here... for a minute before I take a bus and another train to get to my friends in Oakland.

I may or may not be writing up all those drafts sitting in the folder.

I am playing with these words for next year:
none of these will fit on the little tiny necklace -- but I would like to choose a word for the year before the new year arrives... so I might spend some of my travel time turning this around in my head.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Haiku Thursday, part 4

into the ranks
of the suits of armour
deep winter*

-Arima Akito
(b. 1930)
translated by
Lee Gurga and
Emiko Miyashita

*written in the 
Tower of London

Photos by Pomegranate and The British Museum.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I am still not done, but I can really almost feel it.

I think I wrote for about 9 hours so far today ... and ... yet... it better at least not be terrible.

Here are some things to read if you get bored...

For all the hype about low approval ratings, looks like the country is still taken with Barry.

It turns out in the end, but I was holding my breath a little while I read this.

Maybe one day I will share some about the paper that has been holding my life hostage... for now, when I stumbled across this, I just had to take a break in order to read it.  My head is swimming in thoughts about this.

This is truly fascinating.  Someone at the LA Times wrote a flip piece about Kobe and Vanessa's divorce; a reader wrote in to check the reporter on a sexist read on the situation.  The Times' ombudsperson-ish, writes back.

I thought there was another one, but I can't find it now.  These will have to do...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


still writing that damned paper... hoping to be done by tonight ... updating soon... hopefully in time for santos inocentes...

Friday, December 23, 2011

late entries...

Even though I am officially pretending that there is no such thing as Christmas that I will be missing ... I couldn't help but share these stories.

This nun and her order need help... if you can, you could be their Santa.

I am so excited to hear that they are making a movie out of this story! The highlight of any car trip from Oxnard to Santa Barbara was looking for Santa.  I can only remember stopping in Santa Claus Lane once ... maybe twice.  It was more exciting to see Santa poking up with the ocean behind him than to visit the lane. When I heard that they were taking him down but not changing the name... I wondered what was the point.  It couldn't have been more fitting that someone in Oxnard decided to save the Santa from the dump and put him up on another less glorious stretch of the 101.  I don't get to see him that often because I really try to avoid that part of the freeway when I am home, but it warms my heart to know he's there.  Looking forward to seeing the movie to see how she portrays the story.

The truth is we all have more than we need.  If we stop to think about it, even if we don't have all we want.  Need would be pushing it for a great many of us.  I am sorry that it takes a lot of us to be in the Christmas spirit to help out... on the other hand, I love to see it.  Here are two more... one about how an entire community is helping a family in desperate straits.  I especially appreciated how the social service agencies took this opportunity to explain how support needs to be sustained in order for families to really get back on their feet.  The other is about a couple taking the chance to bring light to someone who's life was darkened right before Christmas.


The best thing about Christmas is that we all have the opportunity to be Santa... and to bring happiness or lightness or something good to others.

These stories tickled me... they are all about spreading out the Santa duties.  Or whatever your religious tradition's equivalent to Santa is...

Paying down the lay-aways...I love that it started in one place and then the spirit spread.  This story is about the Santas in the Bay Area.

If you are on Facebook, and you are interested in being a Santa yourself, here's a chance to help a homeless shelter in my hometown... Lighthouse needs people to vote for them so they can get a $25,000 Home Depot card and the opportunity to win $250,000.  They need the votes by December 30th.

Here's one more about Santas who are making the chat with Santa experience accessible for autistic kids.

The best laid plans often go, even though I am celebrating these Santas today, as soon as I post this I am going to work on forgetting that it is Christmas.

Through my own poor planning and execution, I am spending Christmas alone in NM.  No beach weather, no Oakland, no wine tasting, no crab fest New Years Eve.  Just me and the turtle in the freezing cold weather. 

I am not going to cry about it anymore, just going to pretend it is not happening... or watch all the Christmas movies I own... depending on the strength I feel I have.

I hope you all are merry wherever you are. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Haiku Thursday, part 3

cool clear water
and fireflies that vanish
that is all there is

translated by 
David Cobb

Photos from Pomegranate and The British Museum.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Circle Up

I am sharing this video -- calling all women to join a circle... to find those shadows, residual bumps and bruises (physical or emotional), dark spaces inside and release them together on the winter solstice (TOMORROW).

Mother of All Releasings Ceremony: Winter Solstice, 2012 from Pixie Campbell on Vimeo.

This is supposed to be one of my travel days ... if the weather is holding (and I get my paper done), I am driving Albuquerque to Las Vegas (NV) -- that means I have all day to think through what I am letting go...

Please enjoy a ceremony of letting go - in a circle or alone ... burn some sage, and bury or burn some bundles of troubles you don't need anymore.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

in other news...

I am happy that middle school and high schools are figuring out that parents are allies and need to be brought into the team!

I have never been ultra excited about John Madden or his video games, but I really enjoyed reading that he is taking a stand on concussions and putting some of that video game money behind it.  I have always thought that knocking people down as sport was largely barbaric... not just the doing it, but also those that watch it.

This is a fascinating piece on MIT's newest venture MITx... a semi-alternative way to get an MIT education online without the degree... yeah, I read the whole thing and was still scratching my head a bit.  My advice to those who are interested is to get on it before they figure out how to really charge for it.  Right now, I assume as they test out the market and the technology, they are willing to give all the content for free... so if it is the quality of the education you are interested in...then you get all the brainy power without the price tag... but if you want a grade, then you have to pay.

Turns out some folks who were against Obamacare have found it to be useful ... and still there are others that continue to be haters.  The interesting part is the response to the haters.  I would have added... and Merry Christmas... because you can just guess that the hater is someone who thinks that wishing people Happy Holidays is the work of the devil.

 One last one ... here's an editorial about a site that is evaluating the words of our senators and representatives: Capitol Words.  You can go to the site and search for yourself.  Fun --- especially if you are supposed to be doing something else....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grocery Store Crush and CL Flags

I have posted this TWICE on CL missed connections... and it has gotten flagged and removed TWICE after only being up for less than an hour each time.

Sometimes when I see you,
I get the twinkle-in-your-eye smile.
It is a little bit crooked... I think.
There is something about that smile,
Your mouth, the lips -- angled
To one side or the other.
Maybe it is your head tilted
To one side or the other.
I couldn't tell you for sure
Because I get lost in the twinkle.
Before I know it, you're gone
And I haven't had time to figure it out...
But other times I get the polite smile
And a wave or a head tilt
Acknowledging something...
But not what I hoped for.
It is going to be a long
three weeks without the chance
to see you and those eyes
and that smile...

I am guessing that someone is sitting home alone and angry or frustrated or just sad about being alone at the holiday season.

It strikes me as odd, however, that my little attempt at a poem is so offensive to anyone.

Perhaps the universe wanted me to claim it ... or just to talk to my crush in person.  Who knows?
Back to paper writing.

Christmas Spirit??

I guess I thank the universe that I am a procrastinator because if I weren't up in the middle of night writing... I don't think I would have seen the ad for the Chiaobama.  Yes, you read it write.  I suggest you watch the video.

I was going to be offended but it appears to be a part of the Proud to Be American Chia series... you can have a Liberty Chia, a Washington Chia, a Lincoln Chia.  Not sure what's next...

Perhaps there will be another line soon for the protesters around the world?  At this points, really anything is possible.

The countdown to Christmas is on in countless homes, I am sure, but I am still in the throes of the semester, so I am just pretending I don't even know when Christmas is coming.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Yes... I should be writing...taking a super short break, in part because the fever is not allowing me to concentrate on the paper right now ... to bring you these articles...

wow...just wow...

Believe me when I say that I understand if you don't have time to read these articles right now... but this one made me stop and write this piece.  It is wonderful that certain people with positions of power are starting to share the truth they know rather than pandering to the ugliness that seems to be taking over in these troubled economic times.

Just this was enough ...
Beck contends that the hundreds of dollars in fees and fines that must be paid to retrieve an impounded car and the disruption to illegal immigrants' often tenuous hold on jobs deal a disproportionate blow to people "who are a valuable asset to our community and who have very limited resources."

In an interview Tuesday, Beck amplified his position: "It's a fairness issue. There is a vast difference between someone driving without a license because they cannot legally be issued one and someone driving after having their license revoked."

Of course, those opposed to this plan are calling it politics... hmmm... what do they call their opposition?

Here is another one ... it was supposed to be heartwarming.  I was not warmed or amused... I was befuddled.  Seriously, Christmas is saved because the thousands of people who wanted to see Snoopy's Christmas display can still see it? 
How about this man's house?!  How about everyone of those people who have enjoyed his selfless act of generosity give him some cash ... or write letters to Wells Fargo or do something anything for this poor man and his family??
Maybe he's not out on the street, maybe he has another place to live, how would we know?! They didn't bother to mention it in the piece.  Maybe there is another version in a newspaper that cares about the ramifications of what is being "reported" here... I don't know.  All I can say is where is the Christmas spirit??
Well, before I went back to writing...

I dug around the Los Angeles Times... somehow I knew they would not just highlight the people who wanted the display but didn't care about the homeowner

This story is much more well-rounded and points out the missteps of the bank and the homeowner and the help many have offered.
Ok, Charlie Brown and the gang can go back to dancing and ice skating... the true meaning of Christmas is still understood by some.

Ok...back to writing...
 All photos swiped from the internet ... THANK YOU INTERNET!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Haiku Thursday, part 2

a sudden squall
and the bird
by the water
is turning white

translated by
David Cobb
Photos swiped from card company (Pomegranate) and the British Museum.  More on the photo here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

you dirty rat...

We will all have to think twice before we call someone a "rat" in a way that demeans the character of said animal.

Listen to this, you'll see what I mean.

It has made me think seriously about how quickly we judge ... and with what authority?

photo swiped from NPR... they attribute it to

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I have...

...many drafts that will not be finished this week as I put all of my attention to finishing the project write up ... etc...  wish me luck

here is blog post I think everyone should read... it might just be that I have similar thoughts, but I think this woman is brilliant!  She may not have all the answers, but her questions are pretty damned thought provoking.

It's been raining ... so I thought I'd share...this photo is from the summer, though ... the rain we're having is more like ICE RAIN... Supposedly it's raining in SoCal too, so I guess it's ok...

Monday, December 12, 2011

oops...another news round up

Too much going on to not report/record it here.

RIP Harry Morgan... M*A*S*H is still one of those shows that I like to watch even though I have seen every episode several times.  There is no other like Morgan either.

I am not sure what to make of this.  I am glad that Blago got the book thrown at him, but I am still peeved at how unevenly *justice* (especially in terms of sentencing) is applied.  All a long sentence does for Blago is assure that he cleans up with a book deal later.  Now, a really punitive sentence would require him to do *good* work for a long time and disavow trading on his infamy for dollars for the rest of his life.

So, Justice Breyer's wife has to sell her stock, but Justice Thomas' wife doesn't have to stop being a lobbyist or she just has to lie about it?  I am so confused... and it's OK for representatives and senators to do insider trading?  Wait, and pundits who comment on the presidential race can also be working for or having their spouses work for candidates... unless you are Black and your spouse works for the sitting president?  Our democracy may be one of the best in the world, but that just means the world is really fucked up, as far as I can tell.

Not sure whether or not the fact that the new DA in PHL is Black has anything to do with why the change of heart.  Just sayin... despite his assertion that he believes Mumia Abu-Jamal deserves the death penalty and is guilty, it is interesting that he is willing to let it go... or as the conservative blogger at sfgate  (no I am not posting her trash) put it "give up" the fight for *justice*... ah, a recurring theme these days.

I saw Conspiracy Theory over Tday vacation ... LOVE that movie.  Mel Gibson is so good at playing crazy.  When I said that at my house, someone said, maybe he's not playing.

Thinking about *break* and what books I might read.  Definitely this one (already winging its way here from, and maybe this one.

Oh... and the movies I would like to see.  Kenneth Turan's review of this one makes me really want to see it.  Wonder if anyone will be up for it.  Hope it isn't one of those cases where the critics love it but real people can't stand it.  Also gotta see this one; you know, eye candy and all.  This one sounds interesting as well, but I am still trying to wrap my head around Jung/Freud and Kiera Knightly

Thinking about buying the box set of the original movies before the English language version comes out ... Daedalus has the box set for $40.  Witness money trying to burn its way through my pockets as I resist writing papers...

And I am not posting stories about someone getting thrown off an airplane and tweeting about it... WHO CARES!

While I am ranting, let me just be clear: I HATE THE NEW LOOK on gmail.  I don't want any more damn new looks ... I do not want them Sam I Am. I wrote them a long feedback message the other day ... they shouldn't have asked, if they didn't want to know.

Friday, December 09, 2011


It is not always easy to get perspective, particularly when you (by you, of course, I mean me) are in the middle of a million deadlines with projects and people and circumstance tugging at you relentlessly.

Yet, it is important to try to get some perspective...

Mine came in the form of this article.

I am a cemetery visitor.  I put them on the list of places I need to see when I travel. I know, it sounds creepy.  [I read obituaries, too -- particularly when I have the print version of a paper in front of me -- it's a family trait.] I have had chocolate and champagne parties at cemeteries whenever I could find some live companions who were game.  And, I set aside time at Thanksgiving and Christmas to visit my grandparents, my friend from junior high and various other relations the cemetery.

Sometimes I imagine myself as an old woman going to funerals of people I don't know ... who might not have a lot of people to mourn them. It breaks my heart when I read that there will be no services.  I know that they are expensive and the cost might not be justifiable when there is no one to mourn.  But it still breaks my heart ... all lives should be celebrated and all souls should be helped along to the other side, even if it is by strangers.

So, I guess it is no surprise that this story touched me.

Consider this if you don't have time to read the whole piece:
"I'm not here for a specific person," said Ed Pilolla, 39, of Torrance. "I came … just to pay some respect, give some recognition to those who officially have no recognition," he said.

Pilolla attended with six friends from the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, which runs a soup kitchen on skid row and a hospitality house in Boyle Heights.

"A lot of people who came to our soup kitchen — in poor health or estranged from their family — probably have ended up here," said Ann Boden, 56.

"You have the 1% at the top," Boden said. "This is the 1% at the bottom."
 And another tip of the hat to the Los Angeles Times for giving space to this story.  Remember your dead (and your living, too)... even if you can't get to where they are resting.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Haiku Thursday

He says a word,
and I say a word --
is deepening.

I am swamped... so I am digging into a beautiful box of cards a friend gifted to me for HAIKU for the next couple of weeks.

Hope you like them...

Photo credits: Me, fancy camera, from the train, July 2009, not really autumn, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


This is why parents are constantly coming up with new bills like the one that the LA Times was criticizing yesterday.

I criticize them, too, but I don't think mere criticism is the answer.

Someone needs to call for just sentencing in cases where the victims are women and children... and particularly victims of sexual violence.

There is apparently no three strikes law when it comes to hurting women.  Donna's father is correct ... this man will hurt, rape and kill more women.  He knows that he can get away with it.  Our judicial system has shown him how to do it.

Registering as a sex offender is not going to help.

As far as I can read, here, the parents are not looking for vengeance or glory (like some others).  These parents want to make sure that this particular animal doesn't kill more young women.

You can add this to the poop pile of outrageousness.  Yeah, there are going to be a lot more charges against this guy because raping boys is not legal no matter how much you *like* little boys (or don't like them).  It is just wrong... so if you see someone raping a child (or touching one inappropriately, or YOU EVEN SUSPECT a child is being endangered) SAY SOMETHING!

NPR round up

I realized I have been hoarding quite a few pieces on my iPod, so I thought I better share them so I can clear out my playlist's history.  Here you no particular order.

I have not especially been following NPR's Hard Times series ... but this one is a keeper.  It is about Berea College.  Unfortunately, for me, I didn't find out about this place until I had finished undergraduate work. I wonder how my life would have been different had I attended a place like this instead of Princeton.  This was my favorite quote:
She recalls coming with her mother for her first visit to the campus.
"I finished my tour, and my mom turned to me and said, 'If you choose this school or any school, I want you to be as proud of what you're doing as these students seem to be. I don't care what school you choose, but this is the only one I've seen where people seem to love what they're doing,' " Nugent remembers.
I love this story of resilience.  It's about how an area in Greece is making barter a larger part of their economic system in order to cope with the economic crisis.  This is the kind of subversive action I can get behind in these troubled times.  If only our Occupiers were putting forth good ideas of how to subvert capitalism in order to help ourselves!

I don't think I ever got around to sharing this one, but if I did, it's ok... it's worth a second listen.  This is J Cole, a rapper I have never heard of, but that is not surprise. I generally don't listen to rap music.  So, it is part of NPR's desire to reach into the younger demographic, but it a genuinely interesting story.  And there's this little piece of metanarrative near the end of the interview that tickled me.  Here's a snippet where he describes his mom putting his drive into perspective:
"My mom tells this story of when I was in the second grade or first grade, and I would be at the teacher's desk, asking her, 'Can I get my average?' " Cole recalls with a laugh. "And the teacher would be like, 'Man, you're in the first grade! Why do you want your average?' But it was a competition for me — like, I really want to be the best. Anything I do, I want to do it well."
Another old one that has been gathering dust about the *war* on drugs and thinking through what might be termed a new kind of surge.  I enjoyed the author's take on how linked Juarez and El Paso are in reality despite being on either side of a border.  I think you have to respect people who change their opinion after recognizing the damage a moral stand can take when it doesn't take into account the real pain the moral stand ignores.  Here's a taste of this editorial like piece:
"El Paso knows how Juarez works and how it suffers, for El Paso bears firsthand witness to the bloody drug gang carnage in its neighbors' streets. In January 2009, the El Paso City Council toyed with the idea of recommending drug legalization as a means of crippling the finances of Mexico's criminal organizations. The City Council requested a national U.S. dialogue on ending the prohibition of narcotics. The council's resolution (which El Paso's mayor vetoed as unrealistic) upset several Texas state representatives. The state representatives argued the resolution indicated El Paso had surrendered in the fight against illegal narcotics."

I am not sure how I feel about this policy as a long term solution to our college graduation rates, but I salute Tennessee and CUNY for making a real effort to help students get through community college.  I think the jury is still out on the final question about whether or not four year colleges have something to learn from this model.  But even recognizing how students spend their time fumbling around in their first two years might bring us to better results.  What do you think?

This one is added to the pile on unlikely dating schemes (that is with the CL missed connections and various dating sites, etc).  Who would have thought that the IKEA would become the hook up hub?  You have to listen in on this one.  If you don't have time, here is a good part:
"You can find a boyfriend or girlfriend, or just make friends and chat. It makes you a little bit happier," says Ge, a smartly dressed 50-year-old woman who retired this year.
Ge's friend, ... a retired bus-ticket seller ... says IKEA is a good place to meet people if you're divorced or widowed, because there is so much matchmaking going on.
"If I meet a guy and he's appropriate for me, we can call each other," Ge explains. "But if he finds someone more suitable for me, he'll help and introduce me to the other guy."
"When we go out, we don't tell people we're going here," Han says. "We tell them we're going to a tea house. We don't tell them we go to IKEA, because IKEA is the place to find boyfriends and girlfriends."

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

snowed in...

Once again, we are "cold" in, not exactly snowed in.  But a snow day nonetheless...

Well, a no travel to Gallup day on Monday afternoon turned in to a snow day for me on Tuesday.

Here is how I kept myself busy between writing papers:

The more things change, the more they stay the same: LA cops and the occupiers.

This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me use YELP only to find the location of various restaurants. I have never felt like reviews on this site could be useful.  I didn't think about how they could be malicious...

I was going to write a whole post about how as a society we have put so much stock in stranger danger that we neglect the need for all of us to be more vigilant, observant and willing to get involved.  Children (of any age) will give us signals that they are being hurt.  We have to be willing to SEE those signs, and to risk being judged as metiches, and investigate AND report.  We are all connected, and every time we turn the blind eye because we are scared to get involved, then we are complicit in the abuse of these children.  Too often we *don't* see whatever we don't *want* to see...

A friend sent me this and asked how one of her niece should read this article with regards to her own admissions prospects.  For me it highlights the discussions we don't have about underlying assumptions in this country...the myths of meritocracy and American Dream.  But, then again, I am a downer like that: bursting bubbles with my little reality pin.

While we are on sad subjects, I will share this story because I think it has a silver lining.  I think it is always worth celebrating successes and when people rise above challenges. But I will refrain from sharing the story about the embalmers who had to work on a child.  It was gut-wrenching.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Stinky Beach

When I was growing up, we called (I called it this and then it stuck) the stinky beach.

As we approached it, I would hold my nose.  It is right next to a sewage treatment plant.  So, the beach itself probably doesn't smell... and being that the winds blow continually from the ocean, you might not be able to smell the plant while inside the beach.

Perhaps as a result of the stench, I have never been in the state park, by it innumerable times.  My mom and I were talking about it while I was home for turkey day.  We laughed at how ironic it was that the beach would close because no one wanted to pay to upgrade the sewer system.

We remarked how neither of us had ever been inside... my mother's nose is much more sensitive than mine.

I guess I am glad that they figured out how to pull together the money to *fix* the beach's sewer system, and keep it open.  Maybe I will check it out while I am home with my car for winter break.  Maybe...

Friday, December 02, 2011

yummy pantry cooking

I will readily admit that when I have a million things to do, I feel like cooking...

I am rationing my Trader Joe's (TJ) buying for reasons that I am too embarrassed to write here at this moment (perhaps after I have had more wine), so I only bought crimini mushrooms for this recipe (that I made up today while I should have been writing or reading or something).

Everything else I had in my pantry or wine refrigerator.

I am afraid this post will be full of TJ ingredients.  My secret is found out.

[As a funny aside, I have to say, that my cousin calls Trader Joe my sister's boyfriend because everything is Trader Joe this and Trader Joe that... I am guilty as well, though I am not claiming Trader Joe as mine.]

 I was worried about getting enough protein... and my body has been craving meat, but I don't care for cooking meat.  

I checked my pantry, and there was what I needed: anchovy fillets.

Of course, I did previously buy these for the pantry from TJs.

[I couldn't find the exact tin, but picked this one because it's pretty.]

With those two ingredients decided, the only thing left to decide was pasta or barley or quinoa.

You can guess that it would be pasta.

I am learning to like quinoa, but so far I only like it as a salad (someday I will share).

So, whole wheat penne rigate from you guessed it!

I let these bad boys cook while I chopped green onions and garlic... I was going to use regular onion when I realized there were left over green onions (these were also bought at TJs only because my friend and I were taking one too many trips to TJ while she was stopping over on her way to Florida).

I am afraid that I am going to have to tell the hidden TJ story ... just not yet.  It will be worth the wait, I promise.  I am stalling because I am hoping for an even better ending than the one I have currently.

Back to my pantry cooking... I quickly sauteed the onions and garlic with some chili pepper flakes (my usual secret ingredient ... oops, not a secret anymore) in EVOO, as Mr. Ray would say.

I am so grateful to all the people who take pictures of their TJ products and upload them somewhere on the internet. Can you believe the shots I found?  I didn't take any of these.

After I added the mushrooms and anchovies (and spiced with salt, pepper, oregano and parsley), I had a thought: what if I add some wine to this little creation.

Afterall, I have a wine refrigerator still pretty full of all the wine I collected when I had a job.  I sifted through the wines that might *expire* in the next year ... yes, I have them all marked so that I can drink them appropriately.

Look, you would do things like catalogue your wine, too, if you had millions of papers to write and more books and articles to read.  Seriously, do you think I would do this kind of stuff if I didn't have things I was supposed to be doing??

I chose the Nebbiolo in part because it is not my favorite to drink... I can admit that I was sort of saving it in order to gift it to just the right person.  Nebbiolo is just a little light for me. I am sure that a more refined palate would appreciate this one.  [The one I used is actually the 2004, the 2006 is still in the wine refrigerator.]

It is from Sunce... it is the first winery whose wine club I joined. I have a ton of their wine which suits me fine because I have a super soft spot in my heart for them.  In fact, I am looking forward to at least one trip to wine country while I am in California this winter!  And they will be on the top of my list for sentimental reasons along with the fact that it is FREE and they have at least 20 wines to taste and a beautiful deck where you can have a picnic lunch... their wines are divine, too.

I used a little in the sauce and I poured a glass to go with my meal.  I was hoping it would help me write.

Finally, I topped the whole dish with TJ shaved grana padana.  Yum... if I do say so myself.  I have to toot my own horn because not all of my *experiments* turn out this well.

I am happy to say I made enough for lunch today, though, I will not be also partaking of a glass of wine.  Perhaps, though, I should...

Back to writing.

Photo credits: all swiped from the internet... thank you, oh helpful photographers!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

if it's Thursday...

Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
- T. S. Eliot

swiped from another blogger... but lovely

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tigerly Advice

I subscribe to several listservs from my alma mater's alumni network, principally those that provide career networking advice.  These usually include job postings and questions from people looking for advice.  Occasionally, something asked, or something answered, will set the group afire. 

I admit it... it is almost the only time it is entertaining or, even, of interest as most of the job postings are in NYC and not from the kind of industries where I would want to work.

This week, someone asked for morning rituals of *successful* people which led quickly to a discussion of the meaning of successful as well as a lengthy post about morning pooping.

Yup, you read that right... one person wrote emphatically about the importance of the morning poop for highly successful people, particularly as one ages.

I admit that I thought it was moderately entertaining... but there were those on the group that thought it was offensive ... so then we had a plethora of responses regarding offense, poop, and what a tiger can abide.

This was my favorite response:

Heaven preserve me from littleness and pleasantness and smoothness. Give me great glaring vices, and great glaring virtues, but preserve me from the neat little neutral ambiguities. Be wicked, be brave, be drunk, be reckless, be dissolute, be despotic, be an anarchist, be a suffragette, be anything you like, but for pity's sake be it to the top of your bent. Live fully, live passionately, live disastrously. Let's live, you and I, as none have ever lived before.'

Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, October 1918
potentially, that is.

I have no idea who Violet or Vita are...and I have no time to research it, but I share the tidbit because I don't have the energy to write anything else or finish the many drafts in my folder.

Also, I really did enjoy it.  I hope you do, too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Borders and Discourses of Fear

My friend, A, and I decided to drive to Montreal for the conference.  She has moved back to Massachusetts and lives not far from Vermont, putting her only one state away from Montreal.  Besides, we would have hours to catch up, dissect issues and people, and in general hang out.  The trip up seemed fast.  There was nearly nothing to distract us ... except the vistas, and some of those were so covered in fog that you could only imagine what lie beyond the mist.

My friend was somewhat nervous about crossing the border... we had our passport check before we left Massachusetts so as not to have to worry.  The four and half hours crossing through Vermont went so quickly we were unprepared emotionally for the border when it seemingly jumped up before us.  We got to the open window and handed the guard our passports.  He asked where we were going, and my friend offered, "To Montreal for a conference." He looked at us and smiled, "Anthopologists?" he said with a French accent.  I asked him how many he had seen and he put his hands up and looked up and to the side, I don't know... he smiled again and we were on our way.

Turned out crossing the border into Canada is a piece of cake.

Coming back to America, on the other hand, is more like a pie in the face.

The grouchy customs officer took our passports and asked us what we had to declare.  Nothing.  We hadn't had time to sight see or buy trinkets.  He scowled at us and we smiled.  Then he said to turn the car engine off and open the trunk.  I could hear him unzipping the luggage.  What was he looking for?  Had we made a mistake by not buying anything? I had just joked with my friend that we should stop at the duty free.  We told him we were at a conference.  Was that code for something illegal?

Our time with the customs officers did not end there.  Let me say that knowing we were near the border and my friend had planned to get gas just over the border, I had been holding it.  But I really had to go.  This was my most pressing concern throughout, but I was also concerned about why it is that he had decided to call our actions into question.  He told us to pull up and get out of the car and go into the office.  He had our passports, so there wasn't anything we could do.  He hadn't punched in our numbers or done anything but a cursory look in the trunk.

In the office, we had to fill out claims forms, we were instructed to read the back carefully and sign. It was the standard bit about not carrying more than $10,000 in cash.  Neither of us had any trouble signing that... we had about 100 bucks between us.  Then they rifled through our purses.  My agent unzipped all of the little bags I keep in my purse:  the coin purse, the toiletries, the pencil bag. When he pulled out my computer and the books, he said, I guess you were working.  That would be the only clue we had in the whole ordeal as to why we were being searched.

I was admonished to not carry medication that was not in its original packing.  My friend was threatened with a $300 fine for carrying a clementine (that came from a grocery store in Massachusetts) in her purse.

The other agent asked my friend if it was her car...and if there was anything in it that wasn't hers.  She said no, it was a brand new car... barely in her possession over a week.  They left us in there, not allowing me to use the bathroom, and searched the car.  I watched as they sauntered over to another car searching while leaving us to wait in the office.  Obviously there was nothing for them to be alarmed at in our car... they never even found the other clementine.  I wondered if they just needed to continue to be hardasses since the first grouch had decided we were undesirables... maybe we shouldn't be let back into the country.

I know, I know...they are just doing their jobs.  However, since we live in the discourse of fear country, we must create monsters out of really ordinary situations.  While we were waiting, another customs agent came in carrying a bag of offensive grapes.  And she gasped, "They have bread in the trunk."  Not to mention the people she was talking about were BLACK and didn't speak English perfectly.  Yeah, lady, I got your number... now that you have them pulled over, there has got to be something wrong with them.

We got in the car and drove away fuming.  How ridiculously these border agents handle the situation ... skull and daggers, as if... in the world of fear you must have monsters. On that day, we were chosen to be monsters and then rejected as light weights.  For me this came on the heels of another friend having crossed into Arizona from California ... to be stopped at a checkpoint and asked her nationality.  Seriously?  Do I need a passport to cross state borders now?  As I prepare for my Christmas trip to California in the car, I am stewing with the reactions I will have ...

I can report that I passed in a car from California to Nevada Sunday night without incident...

I decided I need to think of fear and borders in other realms as well.  Here's one that I just got around to listening to... and I think you will see what I mean about fear/borders if you listen to it.

My niece's birthday party was held at a friend of her mother's house.  It is inside of a gated community nearby called Leisure Village (interesting, very time my dad hears this name he says, Sleazy Village, and I need to remember to ask him how it got that moniker).  I find it confining from the moment you drive in and have to tell a gate attendant where you are going and who you are ... though they didn't ask me.  You round the corners that all look exactly the same, perfectly manicured lawns and trees.  All I can think is "STEPFORD."  As my sister and I pulled out, I said something about it, and she said, it was a great place for someone like the host... retired, unmarried (widowed? divorced?). It was safe, my sister said.  But, safe from what? I asked, not convinced that anyone needs that kind of safety. 

I am continually intrigued by those that feel the need to live behind gates.  I say this in the full knowledge that mental and emotional walls are gates... though often unseen.  And I have spent my share of time behind those, so I guess my sister is right that I don't have a leg to stand on in my condemnation.

On a lighter note (but not really that light), I found a *new* (new to me) favorite song:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Which is your favorite muppet?

I always have to clarify ... I have a favorite monster from Sesame Street (Grover, of course).

But then when it comes to the muppets, the MUPPETS, then I have to decide between Kermie, who doesn't love Kermie?  And Beeker...and Animal...and Gonzo.

I might have to say that Gonzo is my favorite ... I mean, the chickens can't be wrong about him, right?

It isn't actually fair to have to choose... there are muppets for every feeling: Fozzie (everyone needs a really bad joke every now and again), The Hecklers (I am sure they have real names, I never learned them), the Swedish Chef!

One thing is sure, The Rainbow Connection is the best song ever sung by a frog, or The Frog as he is referred to so often in the new movie.

So, who is your favorite?  And don't act like my niece and say that you don't know the muppets because they are not of your era...

Friday, November 25, 2011


I tried to pick pictures that demonstrate movement.

I am struggling to see the movement... the forward motion in my life right now.
But it's complicated. Am I headed towards something? Like this mountain in the distance (Shasta, if you were wondering)... is there some point where I will arrive? Or should the looming mass just symbolize a mythical target to which one can direct attention? Is it motivating to imagine arriving there or climbing the mountain? Or does it just make me feel like it is an impossible dream?
Will I arrive at a fork in the road (or the stream) and have to choose? Will I know which direction leads me more directly to the ocean? Why can't I just climb over those dunes, I know what's on the other side?  The dangers, adventures, deviations is unclear.  Again, it is complex.
And all these paths are intricately connected -- in the choices and their histories and the futures they promise or threaten.
But, I need most of all to be in the present.  To be present.  There is nothing wrong with wanting progress, but if it means that I am not appreciating here and now for all of its own complications...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Poetry Thursday


Es verdad que el ambar contiene
las lagrimas de las sirenas?

Como se llama una flor
que vuela de pajaro en pajaro?

No es mejor nunca que tarde?

Y por que el queso se dispuso
a ejercer proezas en Francia?

-Pablo Neruda
El libro de preguntas


Is it true that amber contains
the tears of the sirens?

What do they call the flower
that flies from bird to bird?

Isn't it better never than late?

And why did cheese decide
to perform heroic deeds in France?

-Pablo Neruda
The Book of Questions
translated by William O'Daly

And... happy thanksgiving, if you celebrate that holiday ... and if not (or if you do, too), may you acknowledge abundance.

One more T-day gift, my latest Sade favorite song:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


There are a million things to do before I get on the plane this afternoon ... so the post I had carefully planned to draft for today did not happen.

Instead, I opened an email that reminded me that mercury goes retrograde tomorrow.

So, I am taking deep breaths and hoping for a lovely, drama-free time with family ... or the wisdom to laugh and enjoy when it doesn't go that way.

With my aunt in the hospital and a friend's baby having surgery in the morning tomorrow, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of drama waiting to happen.

Wishing you all the best for a lovely Thanksgiving with all the bumps and bruises that come along with that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude (Love), Blessings and Sighs...

This an incredibly loving way to show gratitude and honor our fallen:
"Jim Capoot was a United States Marine. He was a police officer. He was a coach. He was a loving and caring person. Above all, Jim Capoot was a beloved father, husband, son, uncle, brother and friend. He loved his family and they loved him. He loved the good people in the community that he protected and served, and the community clearly loved him. The outpouring of love and support from the entire community has been incredible and greatly appreciated."
The family added, "Please show your respect by saying 'thank you' to a police officer today."

I was just talking to a friend who lost her father last week... she is far away from her family and trying to make sense of a loss that is at the same time excruciating real and impossible to fathom. As she told me how she was reasoning through the pain and loss, I gained more and more respect for her compassionate heart.

Then I read this piece, and thought, what presence of mind these folks have ... to show their love without anger.  It is a blessing for the world that there are people who can see through pain and anger to love.  A true blessing.

And there I was reading about this blessing given to the world through this family's pain ... and I read this blog post.  Andrea is one of my favorite people in the world. And I feel eternally blessed to have spent a few hours in her presence at a time in my life when I needed guidance, an ear, a shoulder and some constructive advice on where to go and how to proceed with life.  If we could bottle a little of her perspective, honesty and vulnerability, I am sure we could share it with the world and make it a more compassionate place.  I have been struggling with what to do with the "mean, nasty thoughts" that invade my space.  Andrea's message about stealth blessings seems like just the right PRACTICE.  These are issues that require practice and cannot be resolved with any antidote.

I was thinking about how little time I have had to write here ... and how easily I slip into the news round up ... and, frankly, feeling guilty about it.  But, here I am, again, sharing articles.  These are some that I cannot help but share ... some because they touch on the very vulnerability I seek to embody and understand, and some because they follow up on stories that I have posted here before.

This one, for instance, brings a bittersweet end to a judicial mess...the hell that our community (and the larger community) has been through with the first court case and the looming second one cannot be understated.  I cannot say that I agree with the terms, but I can only hope that Brandon's lawyers did the best they could.  May Larry now rest in peace... and may we all learn to do more about our adult responsibilities so that more children do not have to look for resolution in violence.  May there be some healing ... and may Brandon not become the sociopath in prison that the prosecution would have liked the jury to believe he already was.

In the search for redemption, there is often a revelation of gratitude... for what we have, for what we have taken and for what we can do to atone.  This piece is heartbreaking, but well worth the read.  I feel the need to express my gratitude, once again, for the Los Angeles Times, they may not always get it right, but they have some tremendous folks on the look out for great stories to tell.  This is one of those stores that might not have been told were it not for those watchful reporters.

I feel I need to prepare for Thanksgiving this year with more than the anticipation to hug the mijos and be in the blessed madness of my family unit.   Sighing deeply here ... praying for compassion on all sides and feeling grateful for all the blessings, stealth and overt, we all experience daily.

I made a pledge to myself to figure out how to hold on to my own idealism... falling down the stairs Monday morning threatened to weaken my resolve.  Now I am going to be grateful for the bruises - together with the wince of pain, I am going to celebrate life...and hope and vulnerability.

[photo credits: me, small digital camera, trying to catch the storm from the summit of the Sandias, 2009]

Monday, November 21, 2011

...home again, home again...

After a long day of traveling, I have no energy for the blog....
but here are two articles to share:

the Sierra Club and its changing leadership

the DREAM Act and the ways people see it in California

preview for days to come...
Montreal without a camera or sightseeing
The perils of crossing the border
Networking adventures

******** late entry
the Muppets are coming back, just in time to have a date with the mijo...

Friday, November 18, 2011

rekindling the flame

I have been wildly estranged from my department all semester.

I am technically teaching anthro courses and enrolled in an independent study.  And I am utterly focused on determining how to talk about my proposed research so that it sounds anthropological.

But, I find myself feeling on the outside: sometimes abandoned (by my tribe), other times escaped (from the asylum) and still others locked out (of the palace).

I approached the conference, then, alternately with ambivalence, excitement and fear.

I was most pleased to be "getting away" from Albuquerque which I associate with unending piles of books and articles to be read and papers to be drafted.

I never mustered the energy to plan for sessions or craft a strategy for meeting people.

And when I realized that a bulk of the people I'd been resisting seeing on campus would be here, fear gripped me...

As luck would have it, many of the sessions have relit the fire of my passion for my research and, perhaps, through this rekindling of affection, sparked the synapses and will engender creativity.

I keep thinking I should stop going to sessions and just lock myself up somewhere and write while I feel full of ideas and confident in their soundness.

Instead, I am off to more sessions, hoping the fires won't be dampened by the physical exhaustion or the occasional lackluster presentation or the intermittent discomfort caused by pretentiousness.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Poetry Thursday

In honor of being in Montreal...

Le Canada

Il est sous le soleil une terre bénie,
Où le ciel a versé ses dons les plus brillants,
Où, répondant ses biens la nature agrandie
A ses vastes forêts mêle ses lacs géants.

Sur ces bords enchantés, notre mère, la France,
A laissé de sa gloire un immortel sillon,
Précipitant ses flots vers l'océan immense,
Le noble Saint-Laurent redit encor son nom.

Heureux qui la connaît, plus heureux qui l'habite,
Et, ne quittant jamais pour chercher d'autres cieux
Les rives du grand fleuve où le bonheur l'invite,
Sait vivre et sait mourir où dorment ses aïeux.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another one of the many uses of SB...

{While I am away, I am offering some things I have seen in the past few weeks but didn't get a chance to post before ... stories from Canada will follow my return.}

I drive by this building occasionally, it's called Neutral Corner.  Whenever I see it, there is a little pang.  I feel for the families that need a safe place to make custodial exchanges.  Sometimes, I am feeling less charitable and wonder how it gets that bad.  But, I guess I can imagine any number of scenarios that would require this level of intervention in order to keep all parties safe.

I have witnessed several tense discussions between split up co-parents... including using sb as the drop off point.  But the other day, I saw something I hadn't seen before.  The dad came in with the two kids.  I guess I should have wondered when they didn't buy anything. 

The dad held the son on his lap and the daughter was next to them, eating out of a bag of chips.  I kept waiting for a mom to join them with hot drinks, but she never did.  I tried to get the little boy to talk to me because he had his face painted.  But big sister did all the talking.  Dad laughed at the son not being willing to say anything, just nod or shake his head.

I went back to my work because that is why I was there, after all.  And a little bit later, I noted that everyone (dad and two kids) was looking towards the door.  The daughter looked at the door and then her father.  No one came in the door, and I didn't see anyone outside of the door either.  Then the packing up and hugging started. 

The dad didn't seem to want to let go of his son, but he did.  Then he hugged the girl and packed her up with backpack and lunch bag.  Off they went, jauntily, through the door, seemingly just out into the darkness alone.

Then I saw a figure standing about three feet from the door, near the steps up to the entrance.  Apparently that was as close as she was going to get.   Soon the two kids were being hugged on the other end by the shadowy figure I saw through the window. 

I let the scene register in my mind.

And then I heard sobbing.  I tried not to look over.  This must be the kind of excruciating pain they went through on both sides each time...

...what a way to live.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Today my older sister's 50th birthday.

I would like to say that I am on my way to California to celebrate it with her ... however, several hurt feelings later, there is no celebration to attend.

I sent her carefully selected card.

I will take her a present when I go out for Thanksgiving ... but there will only be phone calls in between planes today.

It's a long story not worth mentioning why we didn't get to have a party.  I will only clarify that my feelings were not hurt and I didn't do any feeling hurting either.  I am just part of the collateral damage of the skirmish that resulted in the no party declaration.

Instead, I am going to celebrate my sis here ... with some of the pictures we were going to use for the party.

Happy Birthday, C.  I hope you enjoy with your family.

Monday, November 14, 2011


My horoscope has been warning me against letting the money in my pocket burn a whole, and yet... I want these:
they're beautiful ... not ugg-like at all
 and versatile... and I was completely convinced by J letting me borrow hers last winter in NY that they will keep my toes warm...
See them here, so you can check out all the angles, and see how ridiculously I am spending my hard earned cash.  Thanks, B., for ordering them on your VIP status! :)

It doesn't help that my feet are cold... on the way to Gallup last week, I had the heater on, my thermals on, wool socks and my calves and feet were still super cold.  When I got out of the car and had to walk, I swear they were too frozen to work properly.

Clearly, I exaggerate.

But it isn't even winter yet... and I have at least three to five more winters to go here.

When I have to pay for the car to get serviced, unavoidable, especially since I have to keep driving the long trek through next May ... that will be a whopper and with little to show for it, except some love for the cute little green car.

Props to my car, by the way, for being such a trooper... I am not sure if it likes going to Gallup once a week, but it drives like it enjoys the scenery and the wind in its non-existent hair.  It shows its age only on the outside with the dents, dings and peeling wing thing on the back.  Where it counts, the car drives like I just got it... not like it is about to be 10 years old!!

So, for Christmas, I guess I am buying these for myself, and wearing them to Montreal... need more warm socks, too...

Oh... and I have been coveting this, too, but I will need to win the lottery for real if I want that one:
in RED [Barcelona Metallic Red]!
Go here to see the colors.

And these are the tangible wants I can write about ...

Want. Need.  Getting...and dreaming. Tis the season ... universe help us!