Monday, June 30, 2014

NRU mish mash

Some of these have been sitting in my to read pile, so they are a little old.  I mean old in internet time -- as in a few weeks ago, not a few months or years ago.  Enjoy...

This pair of articles discusses the trio of anti-Latinolegislation ushered in over a few years back in the 1990s under Governor Pete Wilson.   It was as one interviewee in the article stated, a cynical attempt to demonize Latinos in California – to lump all together immigrant and citizen.  Also as stated in the article, the policies backfired on two counts: 1) much of the most egregious legislation (187) was declared unconstitutional, and 2) the trio of laws caused a generation of Latinos to become more politically relevant.  The surge in both voter registration and greater representation in the legislature may have come about due to the growth in population, or it might have taken other draconian measures to force California Latinos to recognize the power of politics.  Now these legislators try to turn the tide, make their mark and remedy what they see as stains on our state.  It remains to be seen what kind of backlash, such as the Asian American response to the push to repeal 209, will emerge.  We are living in different times with a different population – but many of our wounds remain.
There is nothing but heartbreak in this story about fourteen-year-oldGeorge Stinney.  I am against the death penalty.  I restate it lest anyone accuse me of not being forthright.  This story about railroading this young man should put into perspective, however, how death penalty equals nothing more than vengeance.  It is not about justice.  As the editorial states, justice would have had some hallmarks we might recognize:  competent representation, a jury of our peers, cross examination, alibi witnesses, lawyers present at so-called confessions.  It would be easy to pass this article by – there are so many contemporary examples of just this sort of injustice.  However, I think this article aptly demonstrates the way racism has always been a part of this equation … and why so many of us continue to argue that until we can apply this kind of penalty equitably, it should not be applied to anyone.  May George rest in peace, and may justice for him bring some solace to his sisters who never saw him again.

There is so much about our own bodies and brains that we don't know. It is heartening to know that mother's mental illness is being considered by more scientists and included in more health plans. This piece in the NY Times sheds some light on the issue and how some are tackling it.

So this NRU got a little dark, so to lighten it up a bit, I am going to change gears a little:  I used to read a section in the AP news called odd or weird or something ... and it was a guilty pleasure.  There is no need for the section in most newspapers, though, because I think they pull from that pile first when they go through the AP articles.  Like a train wreck, it is hard for me to look away ... so I am going to share some of the silliness.  

If ever you were going to build a case for tea partiers being off their meds crazy, you might start with this little story.  A tea party Republican challenger in Mississippi had this supporter who thought the absolute most helpful thing he could do was to sneak into the nursing home housing the incumbent's wife and snap some photos.  I would stop there because that is a bad episode of some crazy dramedy I don't watch on TNT or USA.  But, there is actually more ... after his candidate did not win, said supporter took his own life.  If you just read the headline, you could decide it was because challenger didn't win.  I cannot tell if the AP reporter's tongue was in his cheek or if he really felt like he should include the quotes about the man who committed suicide's integrity.  I mean, may he rest in peace, but his actions don't really scream integrity in any way.  I was slightly more interested in the fact that the challenger's name was not mentioned in the headline, rather the incumbent's was.  Sarah Palin really is the tea party's spiritual mother.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Skittish, mostly photos

Mostly in honor of Mattie's curious bunny ...

Skittish, aka the wild bunny still with us, has been hopping around our house of late.

This week, Mijo was here to see him for a couple of days.  He immediately recognized the bunny as Skittish and not Carmul, who he considers his bunny.

But, this week, Skittish was feeling somewhat friendly.

First he let Mijo feed him and even touch him a bit before he hopped away.

Later, we heard, "BUNNY!" from outside.  The neighbor across the street's grandchildren were tooling around and saw the bunny.

Mijo went out to show the littlest grandchild, Faustino, how to feed Skittish.  Skittish complied and eventually even ate out of Faustino's hand.

 The other kids tried to act like they were too big to get in on this bunny stuff.  But then when they wanted in, Skittish had had enough.

On the upside, Mijo found a soccer ball while chasing Skittish around and invited Faustino and his brother to play for awhile.

Bunnies bring many treasures.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Poetry Thursday, more from Mattie



At night, the moon is
The marble eye of a 
Curious rabbit, looking
Upon the world with interest.
[April 2000]

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

NRU, mish mash

I have been so busy with party preparations, the party or recovering from the party that I haven't had time to sit and write.  Trying to get back on the writing as of yesterday...

There were a few articles I read in the past week that I wanted to share, but I never got around to it.  So, here they are.  And some will be old news...

Starbucks CEO announced that he was partnering with Arizona State University to provide an opportunity for Starbucks employees to get online degrees.  ASU will provide extra advisors and Starbucks is offering collegetuition to all employees for ASU's online program.

I was vaguely listening to NPR the other day, and I caught the end of this story about a woman who chose her suicide date very carefully with her family. I had to go back to the site to listen/read the whole story. Here it is, if you are interested. 

There have been quite a few lovely graduation stories in the newspapers lately ... this is a late entry, but well worth the read.  It is about a young woman is foster care who profited from a program that helps advise foster youth on how to get through high school and to college.

Not because it is great news or even a good read, but because I value a follow up story, here is one about that LAUSD advisory board kerfuffle.  Turns out something changed their minds about pushing out the architect. 

There was a little drought/global warning media push this past week ... a story about what global warming looks like, in real life; how the Getty Center and the Getty Villa are responding to calls to conserve water in California; and trying to find an upside to the drought, scientists looks at slowing of sudden oak death spread.

I have ton more open in my browser, some of them might make the NRU cut for next week, so, more old news (but hopefully good reads) coming up...

[Oh... my NRUs are often super LA Times heavy -- and I know they only let you read a few articles, if you want to see one and you have been blocked out, send me an email.  I can send you a pdf of the article.]

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


For the past month and a half, or so, I have been planning a surprise party for my aunt with my cousins.  My aunt's only daughter died five years ago.  My older sister had planned to celebrate my aunt's 80th birthday, and now that she is gone, my younger sister and I decided we should move forward with the party. 

This aunt is the one who has taken in any number of cousins when they were down on their luck, been our cheerleader and the biggest promoter of family.   

She has hosted family reunions, attended every party we have ever thrown, and knows every cousin's kid and grandkid.  Just knowing the names of all the kids and grandkids is a feat – we are a big family.

Early on, my lil sis sent our first cousins a text asking if they wanted to participate.  My mom pitched in a ton as well.  So did my other aunt and their sister-in-law.  It was appropriately a family affair.

One cousin offered to cook the meat and make the desserts.

Another would buy the paper goods.

Another concocted a complicated story to get my aunt out of her house, dressed for a night out, and to our party.

My aunt's husband reserved the "clubhouse" in their neighborhood for the celebration.

My lil sis offered to make some food and buy some rolls.

Somehow, I got the job of decorations.  If you know me, you know that I am the least artistic person ever with little design sense.  I found some decos at the Party City … I created a guest book with photos I scanned, and a poster, too.

My aunt was utterly surprised and overcome with emotion … success!  Everyone seemed to have a good time.  We had enough food for three more parties.  And I had to stay in bed the next day I was so exhausted.

Flowers cut (in three colors) and pictures pasted.
I didn't get photos from the whole process, but those included are the ones I sent my sister to show our progress. 
And then there were sticks, me & mom in window

No party complete w/out recuerdos!

bee box filling

These were harder to make than I thought...

I was too busy enjoying the party to take pictures, so you will have to just imagine it.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Poetry Thursday, Cam Bday Edition

Happy birthday, Cameron!

If there were a way to give you one more hour with your dad, that would be my gift to you on this day.  Instead, I can only offer these photos, and the memory of his tremendous love for you.  He is with you every day, look in the mirror.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Special Olympics

June 6-8, Special Olympians from all over the world descended on the University of Southern California for the World Special Olympics.

Actually, it is the test run for such an event … so there were only 13 or so countries represented, but they were from around the world. I think the farthest were from the United Arab Emirates, but we also met some from Costa Rica, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, Iraq, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

We were there to support my niece, Quetzalli, who competes in Track and Field.

That means we didn't get to see the gymnastics, golf or bocce ball competitions (or others that I was not aware of).

It was a life changing experience.

As always, with things that involve my nieces and nephews, I can't help but be sad that my siblings are not here. But the three remaining were out to cheer on my niece.

She is a force … she does this thing when she runs, head up to the sky.


Long Jump Medallers celebrating, iPhone, 6/8/2014
And she also competes in the long jump.

I was overwhelmed just watching.

You have to run, hit just the right spot and then jump up in the air while propelling yourself forward.

Yeah … I would never have the guts to compete in that event let alone do well. She took bronze.

Bronze for long jump!, iphone, 6/8/2014
It was the first time I was able to see her run in person.

My brother's spirit was all around us … I could almost hear him cheering Quetzalli on.

Q's Relay Team, iPhone, 6/7/2014
We got the most special gift of witnessing the strength, power and inspiration of these Special Olympians.
Gold!, iPhone, 6/7/2014

While we waited between Quetzalli's events, we cheered on the other competitors from all over the world. We saw young Muslim girls covered from head to toe running at full tilt in the hot sun. We watched athletes leave their wheelchairs or walkers at the side of the track to race without assistance.

I won't lie, we quickly got attached to these very special athletes. We even picked favorites.
Long Jump
There was this young man [number 181] who was so earnest in his competition.  We watched as he ran sprints, stretched and got pumped up before each of his races.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the man who danced up a storm while waiting for his turn to compete.  There was something so magical about their enthusiasm and energy. Each one brought his or her own winning spirit to the games and wore them proudly.  

181 Fan Club, presente!

Even when they seemed sad about not having come in first.  There were a few dramatic finishes with the winner or another competitor collapsing at the end -- either out of exhaustion, sheer excitement or actual physical impairment. 

There were volunteers in a line cheering and another line to welcome all the runners.  [I noted that some had to remind the athletes they needed to slow down because it was over ... they could have run forever!]

My brother noted that the volunteers welcoming in the competitors was the best job.  Some athletes wanted high fives, others only wanted a big hug, and still others required some pep talking.

Then there was my tocaya who happens to be from our home county.  Her mom was sitting in the stands near us … going crazy every time her daughter competed.  That's how we found out her name.
Mi tocaya, #399

We learned the colors of the various teams, wishing we knew the names of the competitors to add them to our cheers.  We did add in the names of all of Quetzalli's teammates.

It was a lovely, inspiring experience, super painful sunburn notwithstanding.

The volunteers wore t-shirts with a warning on the back: Special Olympics is addictive.  I think they are right.  I am seriously considering volunteering with the local team … in all my free time!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Heartbreaking and inspiring

I stumbled upon two situations via blogs this past weekend.
totally unrelated, young Chairman Mao, Summer 2013

I spent a considerable amount of time getting to know Rebecca on the eve of her funeral.  [This is the first post I read.]  Wow, I really wish I could have been in her bright aura for just one minute.  She was truly a special person with equally remarkable parents and siblings.  I wish them peace and as much solace as possible in their coming to terms with their new normal.

And then, I read Oren's piece about learning about his cancer diagnosis.

I almost don't know what to say.  Just read it and marinate in the importance of being in the present moment as much as possible. [What others are saying and doing for Oren and his family.]

I think through my grief I have crashed up against this importance painfully and often.  But I am sure it is the only way through ... to confront it, breathe it in, be right there in the moment because otherwise there is no other side.

I want to say that being connected, even in small ways, over the internet has been so helpful in my healing.  Sometimes I can only cry here, verbalize (albeit in typed form) how I feel here and be consoled here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fate Intervenes

I was going to write a happy blog post about the wild bunnies of S. D St ... and then fate intervened.

Two weeks ago, while I was taking care of my nephew at his house, I got a call from my mom.  She said there was the cutest bunny running around the neighborhood.  She described the light brown with reddish tint of the fur.  She thought he was someone's easter bunny escaped, or dumped.  She told us he was running around the palm tree in the neighbor's yard.  She had already asked many neighbors if
Carmul, iphone 6/13
the bunny belonged to them.  Nobody had claimed it.

I was tickled by the story but perplexed as to why she had called to tell us about it.  Finally, I asked her point blank why she was telling me the story.  She wanted me to come over and catch it.  She said it as if it was the easiest thing in the world to do it.

I won't lie, I wanted to.  I would have tried if I wasn't pledged to go to meditation and my niece was already on her way over to pick up my nephew. 

When I got ready to drop off my nephew at school the next morning, he wanted to know what I was going to do while he was at school.  I knew that there was something more to his question, but I answered with my schedule for the day.  Finally, he admitted that he wanted to know if I was headed to his Grammie's house.  He told me as he got out of the car, "catch the bunny!"

What is with these folks that think that I can catch bunnies?

I did go to my parents' house to dump all my stuff before I was going to head to my "office" to study before I picked up my nephew from school.  When I got there, my mom pulled out her camera to show me the pictures of the wild bunny.  It was adorable.

So, we got the dog on the leash and went for a "walk" so that we could look for the bunny.  And there it was... hanging out in a neighbor's yard.  I brought out a carrot and tried to entice it over, but it was skittish.  I could get about a foot and a half from it and then it would run.  It was cute, though, no doubt.
Carmul, iphone, 6/13

I must have mentioned seeing the bunny to my nephew because when he came to stay over, he wanted to look for it.  We didn't go out when he first mentioned it, and then later as we were lazing around the house.  There was some commotion in the kitchen.  When I went to check it out, my nephew was ecstatic, "The BUNNY!"  He had locked the dog in the other room and out we went to see if it was still around.  There it was, in the neighbor's yard.

We found it and tracked it a little, and then my nephew told me he had to go to the bathroom.  But he insisted that I be on BUNNY WATCH.  I sat outside on the sidewalk and watched the bunny.  It was a curious little bunny – reddish brown, super cute.  It came up to the fence and peeked at me through the iron rods in the fence.  Since it was sitting there sniffing the air to see if I was safe, I decided to try to mimic his nose movements.

As I sat there, I was scrutinizing this bunny.  It seemed different than the skittish one I had seen before.  But it has been a week, so maybe it was older and bigger.  Something in the next yard over ran across the yard, and I caught a bit of fur in the corner of my eye. I started looking that way.  I was afraid it was a cat or a dog that might frighten the bunny.  Then a little brown fur ball hopped right back through that other yard.  There were TWO!

I went inside to get my camera to get some photos and to let my nephew know there were two wild bunnies.  Sadly, I snapped three photos and my battery died.

When my nephew returned, he went out with me to search for the bunnies.  I put out a little water dish and it hopped right over to get a drink.

I could hear the phone ringing, so I went to grab it.  I realized I could take photos with my phone, too.  The other bunny was not curious at all.  He ran from us, right under a car. 
Skittish, iphone, 6/13

He plunked himself down, stretched out under that car like he knew he could outwait us.  I snapped some photos of him and he even emerged from under the car for a good one.  Then he promptly took off across the street to another porch where he could relax.

Skittish, iphone, 6/13

By now, my nephew had decided he was going to catch a bunny.  I was doubtful, and we didn't have a cage to put it into if we did catch it.  He went into the house to search for a cage anyway.  He emerged with a crate determined to corner the bunny.  There were no plans beyond that.

We chased the curious one.  We named it Carmul (that is caramel, mispronounced).  Though over the few hours we were on BUNNY WATCH the name changed to Clover and then Spike(?!) Before coming back to Carmul.

We didn't catch it.  But the bunny was no less curious or friendly despite not wanting to be caught.  After a while, my nephew decided *being friends* was just as good as catching it.  Mijo noticed it like dandelions and he started picking them throughout the yard.   That little bunny ate right out of his hand. 

Mijo & Carmul, 6/13
House mijo built, early stages, iphone

My nephew was so tickled, he decided to use that crate to build a house instead of using it to trap the bunny. 

He found some cardboard and asked for tape.  Singing as he worked, he devised a way to let air in but keep the sun out.  Then he collected food for the bunny. 

Finally he found a towel to act as the cushion.  I realized I could take videos – I wanted to capture my nephew working and singing.  And in that video, I also got the shot of the bunny letting my nephew touch him.

Later my father came out to inspect the bunny house my nephew had built.  The two of them started in on constructing a second choice home for the bunny out of a cardboard box.  My nephew filled them both with fresh dandelion cuttings and the stems from the kale salad I was making.

Later that day, as we continued to watch and follow, the bunny let both of us scratch behind his ears.  My nephew got so friendly I thought he would pick up the bunny and want to keep him.  But the boundaries had been set – the bunny wanted to be free and friends.

Over the next day, we saw the bunny approach his homes, but we never saw him go into either.  The dog continued to alert us to the bunny's presence by going crazy barking.

Then Sunday, my mother came into my room distraught.  My father had found the bunny near his truck's tire – dead.

Yes, it is the cycle of life.  Yes, a docile bunny in a neighborhood full of dogs and cats was living dangerously.  No, there wasn't anything I could have done to stop it from happening … indeed we had been expecting something like this.  I could hear Holly Golightly admonishing Doc, "You mustn't love a wild thing."

Knowing, expecting, anticipating did not make it hurt any less.  I tried to reason to myself all the things I knew, but when I saw my dad carrying him to the trash can in a plastic bag, the tears spilled right out. 

Carmul, kicking back while mijo made the house, iphone

Sunday, June 15, 2014

late addition to Silver Linings NRU +

I did an inordinate amount of driving around in the car yesterday, and the good part was that I caught this story about a former police officer whose life and work were changed because of an interaction he had with a mentally ill woman while on the job.   I will leave the rest for you to listen to ... I will just say that I had to stay in the car to listen to the end of it even though I had finally reached my destination.

If there is cause to say that there is silver lining to true tragedy, this is an excellent example of how it can happen.
Happy Father's Day to all those out there...but especially to the fathers in my life:  pops, my brothers, my brothers-in-law, my uncles and treasured friends.  It is a tough and thankless job to be a parent full of danger, pitfalls, frustration and fear.  But it is also a priceless treasure to be present in the life of your children.  We don't say thanks to our dads enough or always give them the effusive love we display for mothers. 

I know I don't ... my dad has always been my moral conscience and my staunchest defender.  I always wonder what my dad would do in a tense situation -- and then I try to live up to that.  Because of my dad, I know I am strong, capable and should fear nothing.  It has been very challenging to live with him again -- and having to remind him that he is getting old.  In these months, I have had to shift our relationship and prove to him that he can rely on me as much as I have relied on him.  That is challenging for both of us.

Friday, June 13, 2014

NRU, silver linings edition

I don't think I have done a silver linings post in awhile ... wondering how long it will take for me to find enough articles to post.

Here is the one that made me kick off this edition.  The SF Chronicle continues to suffer from clunky, uninspired writing, but this story was good anyway.  What a lovely gift to give your husband before you depart.  I couldn't help thinking, though, none of this would have been possible if they weren't so financially well-off: an estate in San Rafael and an apartment in SF.  May Noeleke have many years of peaceful living in SF!

A found this little gem on the residual good effects of Mr. Rogers.   I loved the show as a child and am glad that PBS has found a way, beyond youtube, for Rogers' expertise and philosophy to continue to support our children.  We all need more love and compassion.

I found this piece on an author whose work I have not yet read, but this article made me want to pick up one of his books.  I am currently thinking about how to be a part of guiding my nieces and nephews lives unobtrusively -- and giving them good books is one way that feels comfortable.  So, I am adding this to a list of things to read before I give them away...

I might be stretching to include this here, but I am truly awed and inspired by this young man, Jon Meis, his actions during and after the rampage at his university, and his statement about the event.   We need to spend more time talking about young men like this, dropping his name, like we know him, and putting him up as someone who can get a lot of attention for doing the right thing.  Of course, it was right for the press to leave him alone when he wanted privacy.  It is just that we have spent so much time and effort on young men who do not need to be emulated -- and by showering them with attention, we have encouraged others to pick up guns and kill more innocents. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Quote Thursday, "happy"

There are as many nights as days, 
and the one is just as long as the other 
in the year's course. 
Even a happy life 
cannot be without a measure of darkness 
and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning 
if it were not balanced by sadness.
- Carl Jung

Monday, June 09, 2014

NRU, mostly education

I am not a big proponent of lawsuits as a way to solve education system problems.  Most of the last few in California have been funded by anti-teacher, anti-public school foundations with the thin veneer of parent empowerment.  This one, however, gets my tentative thumbs up.  Lawsuits help most as consciousness raising not for implementing change in the classroom.  The current anti-union lawsuit out of LA relies on the fact that it will change state law -- but suggests it will create tangible change in the classroom.  I call bullshit on that.  But if folks learn about all the issues that create lost class time in these low-performing schools, perhaps we could stop blaming parents and teachers for all the problems in schools.  The issues raised in this article, and presumably in the lawsuit, demonstrate these are systemic problems.  Of course, these problems persist because there are not spotlights placed on the issue, so, maybe this lawsuit will work...maybe.

This is a charming, if not illuminating for lack of detail, article about a private school who tries to teach their pre-K students about social class (or at least open the conversation) by having students host their peers in their own homes.  Each student offers a snack and the kids check out any part of the living space they want to ... the visits have been pared down from the whole class to only 5.  I can only imagine the great fun this had been to watch.  I love this age.

Apparently hand-writing is good for more than just writing! I love it because I swear that I do remember by recalling how my hand wrote the words.  I cannot get behind the hand-wringing about not teaching cursive for the sake of posterity.  But if these studies are true, then it make sense to let students learn to write by hand at least until they are in the fifth or sixth grade and then integrate hard core keyboarding.  Of course, places with infinite time can do both. I didn't learn to type until I was in the eighth grade and I am doing just fine with the keyboard and the hand writing. On the other hand, they could include hand writing in an art curriculum and stretch the brain in many ways at the same time!

I am deeply troubled by attempts to further segregate autistic children, though I do acknowledge that we need to do a better job of including them in classrooms.  So, I listened with interest to this report.  Whereas I agree that it is troubling when the school forgets to get nametags or swag for the special education children, I am more interested in the training provided, whether or not it leads to better assimilation into adult society, and how if it is working in "specialized" schools that might be translated into public school inclusion.  Let's just say that many parents recognize that their children need more than feeling comfortable at school -- and that bullying is a real problem that needs to be addressed every day in school.  How will further segregation provide either of those two goals?  Could we opt for providing an environment of compassion?  Could we insist that teachers, principals, counselors and parents engage children in discussions about difference and tolerance?  Look back at the article about children hosting their peers in their homes ... this is a solution to a real problem that might not be possible in large scale, but it can certainly at least be simulated with earnest conversations and role playing in the classroom.  I call for compassion to be a common core our children will be exposed to and trained in during their time at school  Of course, we also need to work on the real training that autistic children/adults need to feel safe and comfortable in our society -- and be productive as a by product of that safety and comfort.

This one just has to be listened to ... I still can't say how I feel about it.  Moving to all charters is fraught for many reasons -- some of which are addressed in the piece and others are not at all raised.  We need to think seriously about what we are doing if we move all schools to charters because we want principals to have the ability to choose curriculum ... couldn't we just go back to the way schools were before we decided to "standardize" to the point of telling teachers when to be on which page and for how long?  It seems like an extreme response to a serious issue ... and attaching the label 'charter" to all of it a convenient way to pretend that we don't know what the problem is.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

By the way...

so glad that Jon Stewart is back from his short vacation and hitting this head on ...

Your moment of zen ...

Poetry Thursday, Let it go edition (not Disney)

Alaska 2008

I think of the trees 
and how simply they let go, 
let fall the riches of a season, 
how without grief (it seems) 
they can let go and 
go deep into their roots 
for renewal and sleep.... 
Imitate the trees. 
Learn to lose in order to recover, 
and remember that nothing 
stays the same for long, 
not even pain, psychic pain. 
Sit it out. 
Let it all pass. 
Let it go.
- May Sarton
Alaska 2008