Thursday, July 31, 2014

Poetry Thursday, RUMI!

Sunflower emerging from the kale...
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the door sill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

**my photos of Julie's garden ... with many thanks to the Mira Vista gardening crew for keeping all those bugs and birds so happy!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

NRU silver and gold

I kinda wish I could have been at this meeting. Coincidentally, I was wandering around Los Angeles on this day.  I hope that this story gets significant media coverage -- Homeboy (& Homegirl) Industries need as much attention and support as possible.

I am sorry that it has taken the brutal deaths of several men on death row for the public to begin to see the futility of the death penalty.  However, I will take it as a win if it works to eradicate vengeance from our so-called justice system.  By the way, I know this guy didn't mean what I just said ... but I think he is correct in suggesting that we need to either go all the way to brutally killing people or give up the death penalty. I am not convinced, even in our current gun-promoting craziness, that we will support the firing squad.
I guess I have to say that is it very sad when a kind gesture is met with fear.  Is it a sign of our times because the media hypes every little thing in an attempt to fill airtime or because our world is that scary?  I am not convinced we are living in a truly scarier world.  Though when I read the comments on newspaper articles, I can imagine that scary world.  I wondered as I drove around listening to the news if the internet and are new relationship with anonymity is what gives the rebels in the Ukraine or the military in Israel the idea that shooting at innocents is okay as long as it is done remotely.

I guess I should have made another color for those things that are both awful and yet there is some silver glint to its lining.  This op-ed, in my opinion, has this quality ... and I think it was the quality the author was trying to express.  We should be proud that we have far enough in our un-learning prejudice to elect a not white president.  But we should continue to hold people responsible for their racist actions, words and calls to action.  Because of how far we've come, the racist/prejudice people have learned how to couch their feelings into words/campaigns that need to be scrutinized carefully.  But we are capable of doing just that ... instead of merely repeating the ugly things they say.

One of the joys of reading newspapers online is that you get to see headlines from sections into which you might not otherwise venture.  This is a gold nugget from the sports section I would have totally missed.  I want to be in this guy's social circle ... and I would learn to talk about football (not derisively that is) for the privilege.  Just love this guy!

This is another pure gold story about how eating healthy andwell are coming to "fast food" – not sure how fast this is since they all sound like sit down restaurants.  These are chain restaurants I can whole-heartedly get behind!  Also there is a quick shout out to my hometown and a family-owned farm providing greens to one of these chains. 

I am not sure how to categorize this op-ed on the border "crisis" - it twists and turns around ideas, some silver linings and others just the truth.  I just wish we could all figure out how to find charity in our hearts ... I think if we could just take stock of what we had, what we don't need and what we can easily share, then our notions of abundance would blossom.

It would appear that there is good that can come from technology – and the geeks that are willing to donate their time.  This is a lovely article about the tech community in LA, including those still trying to break into the industry, giving to nonprofits that would otherwise not have the funds or the geek power to create apps.  I am confused about the judging and winning aspect of the Causathon, but the results sound really good to me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

diagnoses, research, hope part 3.2

The next morning, I rose early to prepare to fill out the forms we needed for the meeting.  Some of it was very straight-forward:  medical history, doctors, medicine, conditions, sign releases, etc.  But the seemingly innocuous describe your child was there with its impossibly small lines and check boxes that left no room for gray area.  I filled out what I could and then "interviewed" C. so that I wasn't just putting in my ideas.  I modeled the kind of information and how to give it, with examples to illustrate the issues.  She started to remember really good examples of instances that demonstrated some of the adjectives that otherwise would have been meaningless or open to interpretation, such as "innocent." 

I had to physically take a break to give myself some emotional space.  I was afraid I would lose my ability to write up a reasonably objective description.  It had to be something the psychologist could interpret as observation not emotion.  If nothing else, the skills I have gained in graduate school around observation and writing up those notes are good for something.  I typed up the results of my interview, but then I decided we should turn it in handwritten. 

So, as I wrote it out over two pages of college ruled paper, C. and Q. got dressed.  We made it to the place about ten minutes late … drama and concern and lack of sleep and eating made us a little out of sorts.  At the last minutes, I asked Q. to bring a stuffed friend or other toy and her favorite clay sculpture.  I wanted her to feel comfortable, and usually holding one of her favorite toy/friends works well for that.  But I also wanted her to share the work she does at home … away from school with really no influence other than what she has in her mind.  I think it illustrates both the view from the world she lives in and some of the abilities she has that her verbal skills do not.

They saw us immediately, and the intake person attempted to interview Q.  It was interesting to see what she would/could answer.  The intake person wrote furious notes.  Pretty quickly, the psychologist joined us, asking questions and taking notes.  The psychologist took Q. in another room for testing and we continued with the intake person who had a few more questions.  We needed to fill in the blanks of all the things Q. could not or chose not to answer.  It was again heartbreaking to list her abilities in this way.  Her deficits are so clear, though their origins are not so easy to distinguish. 

They have until November to let us know if she is eligible for services. But, due to her age, the psychologist administered the adult intelligence test.  I am guessing that means it was pencil and paper.  Thus she will qualify for intellectually disabled because she cannot perform on paper above a first grade level.  I corned the psychologist for a bit before we left to give her more of my observations and interpretations.  Though the intake person had finished her part of the interview, she took out her notes and began to scribble more as I talked to the psychologist.  There were more follow up questions and knowing looks between them.

I felt elated and confident after we left … hopeful, really.  Not because they now think that she is intellectually disabled, but because we have our foot back in the door.  There is no doubt way more work to do … and battle with the school district about the IEP and the services before school starts in two weeks.  But we are on the road to getting her the help she needs.  We have a long haul ahead of us.

But the absolute best part, in reflection after these few days, is that I learned so much more about Q.'s conditon.  I will try to write more about it later.  Suffice to say that really uncovering the outside behavioral issues opens a box to much deeper understandings. 

Did I mention that two beautiful butterflies captivated us as we entered the center?  I sure hope that my brother and sister were there because they believe we are doing the right thing.  We could use a little spiritual support right about now.

Monday, July 28, 2014

diagnoses, research, hope part 3.1

The afternoon and evening before our appointment with the Regional Center my sister-in-law, C., and I reviewed every piece of paper she had with regard to Q. and education.  It was not just a pile of paper, though, it was a mountain of struggles.  I had to be strong throughout because it was making C. cry to see how much trouble they have had with the school district throughout. 

I needed to go through each IEP from the time she was in early intervention with the Regional Center because I wanted to pinpoint when she was switched to the Special Education Day Class.  I needed to see when and how this so-called Specific Learning Disability was attached to my niece.  I wanted to know if there was an actual evaluation with diagnostic tests that could shed some light on the disability.  More than that, though, I wanted to see what services she received that were meant to meet that disability within the special day class.

By the middle, I was almost unable to continue reading.  I was so angry.  Many years, starting early on … the teachers barely bothered to change the date on the papers they were submitting.  Not only was she not progressing beyond the point which they had switched her to special ed, they were not trying to help her learn.  The goals barely changed from year to year.  The teachers switched whether she had met said goals from yes, no, maybe – I guess because that was supposed to indicate that they had observed or noticed something?? 

If you just took one piece of information and followed it from year to year, you could see that no one was paying attention at all.  For example, in kindergarten she was developing the ability to tie shoes.  In grade 2, she could tie them, though she was receiving occupational therapy to learn how to tie her shoes.  Oh, and she was wearing slip-ons because tying shoes was difficult for her.  This goes on and on throughout elementary school.  Are we supposed to believe that she learned and unlearned how to tie her shoes every year?

It was heartbreaking, frustrating and motivating all at the same time. While I tried to keep my own emotions in check, I also tried to think through how to answer the questions on the intake form for the re-evaluation.  After reading what teachers over the course of eleven years did not know about my niece, I needed to write something truly helpful for the re-evaluation team.  If we were going to make a case for autism, then we were going to have to show what you cannot see in a simple IQ test, particularly if it is a paper and pen test. 

I explained to C. that we needed to be brutally honest about mija's capabilities and deficits.  As a parent, I guess it is hard to be that truthful. When someone asks you how your daughter is doing, you want to say all the things she can do.  You want to paint the rosy picture.  But what we needed were the black clouds and the gray edges that tinged all of those rosy scenarios.  I showed her through the IEPs how her words had been twisted over and over to make it seem like she, not the professionals, were asking for specific services to stop. 

We took a long walk after reading everything and C. felt devastated and angry at the world. I can't say that I blame her – it is the guilt that hurts her the most.  In a perfect world, she could have relied on the professionals to have her daughter's best interests in the forefront as they made educational decisions.  Outside of that perfect world, parents have to advocate – and how do they acquire the professional information in order to do that against a room full of so-called educational professionals?  Yes, they give you a handbook every day, in two languages, that lists your rights and your child's rights.  But it does not tell you how to get the knowledge you need to understand what is happening in the IEP meeting.  

.... this is super long, will finish tomorrow...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Through the Windshield

I spent an awful lot of hours in the car in the last fifteen days ... what with 7 hours up to Oakland and then another 7 down and we won't count the hours it took just to go 60 mile from my home to my sister-in-law's house.
Okay, I wasn't stopped for this...

In an attempt to make the best of being in traffic, I snapped some pics of the beauty that surrounded me while waiting *not always so patiently* near someone's bumper.

[Not sure if you can see it, but it looked like a little black hat sitting on top of that big white cloud]

You can tell from these pics that in many cases I was stopped ...

[I think that is Catalina in the distance, though I guess it could also be one of the other Channel Islands.  I thought since I was so close to Los Angeles at this point that it must be Catalina.]

 The Getty Villa on its precarious perch -- and guy chilling and looking out at the ocean. 

[This is to show that there is no one headed south bound ... just us north bound PCH drivers looking at the ocean.  I think I tried to capture the sail boat in the distance.]

I am sorry that I didn't get one of the leafless tree filled with cormorants and their nests! You will just have to imagine that one ... I was tickled by them and would have truly enjoyed being stopped next to them.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quote Thursday

Mom's garden, cactus flower
All sorrows can be borne 
if you put them into a story 
or tell a story about them. 
 ~ Isak Dinesen

From the nearly dead stump, a bud...
Some days, when I am not so spent from the school writing, I think, these trials may someday become a book -- a story, if you will.

The only thing I can't figure out is if it is a self-help book or a novel. It is some kind of story.

Today's adventure in evaluation is a story waiting to happen ... part 3 coming up soon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NRU mish mash

Sorry to hear that our knee jerk reactions continue to foil students as they try to stretch themselves into adulthood.  I would certainly love to see this movie and any others produced by this group.

This was a lovely little bit on what to say to your child about death. As I continue to field questions from my nephew -- usually not so directed towards the loss of his mother -- I often wonder how truthful I need to be to get the point across.  So far, I have always come down on the side of truthful and direct ... but there are some questions I do not know how to or how I will answer.

This story about a study of children who die prematurely after losing a parent made my heart drop.  My concern for my parents after losing my brother and sister is only greater for my nieces and nephews.  This piece is high on statistics and light on story -- that is it is a story about a study about numbers.  Even though this is true, it is still scary.

Turns out being a vegetarian, vegan or just switching to anything but beef is good for the environment.  In general, I think it is best to do much less of everything we do.  We might plant more ... but everything else we do seems to get us deeper in the environmental hole. 

In my opinion, full contact football should be banned from middle schools and high schools, so these new rules do not go nearly far enough for me.  One bad practice can end a young player's life -- we have seen this one too many times.  However, the long-term damage done by continued trauma to the head should certainly not start while children are under 18 years old. 

I share the frustration and anguish that this op-ed expresses -- the only saving grace to this dark cloud is that by the time any of this can actually be put in motion is after millions of Americans who have never had the opportunity can experience a primary care physician and preventative care rather than emergency room band-aids.  I want to see those Americans who have derided Obamacare to stand up and demand their right to health care ... I believe it will happen.  I have to believe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Side Bar, Oakland

I love Oakland... and I love bartenders that can make an awesome drink.  Somehow, I didn't know about Side Bar.

This happened at the bar ...
Jared (the bartender) heard me talking about how I don't like bourbon but these two drinks looked good. As I was talking shit, he calmly made one of those drinks and pushed it towards me.  Just try it... mean time, I had not only been talking shit but got the name of the drink wrong, I called it Caged Heart (not Caged Heat).


I loved it.  It was hot, particularly at the end.  And so it was the perfect flavor and a sipping cocktail.

Gorgeous and tasty.

Loved it.

Jared, then, also intuited what drink to make for my friend, C.

Thyme Fizz, also delicious.  They were very different drinks, and mine fit me perfectly and the other was perfect for C.

The good drinks and good food just kept coming from Jared. 

Somehow we got to telling stories.

Then C. and I decided to talk about the folks at the bar.  There was this "couple" that we couldn't figure out.  He: older, maybe fifties, sort of non-descript hair, clothes, no wedding ring.  She:  young, maybe mid twenties, red hair, red nail polish, really red lipstick, I can't remember what she was wearing, but I noted that she had no jewelry on. 

C. asked Jared if he knew what the deal was… C. and I were between dad/daughter and date.  Jared thought date, not first date, but working through exactly what the relationship was/would be. 

The threesome on the corner of the bar left just after we had a discussion about one of them not caring for leftovers.  He was adamant.

C. and I speculated about some others around the bar … we were at least three drinks in, each.

Then a young man sat next to C. and was using his iPad to look for tires for his bike.  C. bonded with him over this and he was heartily entertained by our running commentary with Jared.

I don't think we exactly won him over, but he was definitely amused.

Sitting at the bar is so entertaining. I am not sure why I don't do it more often.

And the drinks were really good, too… as was the cornbread/pound cake! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

RIP James Garner...

I love me some Rockford Files... and just about anything else that starred James Garner.
 [Links included for the uninitiated.]

I was already full of memories and some tears when I heard on the radio as I drove home that James Garner had passed away.  I was imagining my sister and brother welcoming Mr. Garner to the other side.  She is the biggest Garner fan I know ... her favorites were not mine, but there was plenty to agree on anyway.

May he rest in peace... and thanks for the many memorable characters - especially the terminally flawed yet redeemed ones like Jimmy Rockford.

As I have written here before, I spend a summer watching Rockford on hulu as I did some other grief filled work. He's a great companion if you need someone to commiserate... thank you, Jimmy and Mr. Garner.

Wishing his wife and daughters peace as they learn to live in a world without him.  May their memories bring them solace -- and their eyes brighten at the reruns as I know mine will.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bippity boppity boo...

 Back from the road...

Scenes from the garden before M. started picking all the pumpkins.  Cinderella would have had her pick for a carriage ... now we will have soup. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

diagnoses, research, hope, part 2

After several phones calls that turned into scavenger hunts for documentation, my sister-in-law learned what it means to be made to jump through hoops.

First they wanted a copy of this, and then they wanted a copy of that ... and in between the voice on the other phone demanded, why do you want your daughter re-evaluated. 

And she made up reasons to not be helpful: "we closed this case...years ago."

And, "I can't send you a copy of the file." And, "You'll have to call someone else for that."

And, finally, "No, we won't re-evaluate your daughter; we closed the file."

One of the scavenger hunt runs involved getting the school psychologist to send in the latest evaluation.  Let me highlight three parts for you, 1) "specific learning disability" noted as the issue, though no specific learning disability (sld) is named, no treatments for said sld described, and no long-term goal noted.  These two go together for emphasis: 2) reading grade level 1.7 [you read that correctly, she's in the 11th grade at the time of this evaluation, and reading at grade level 1 and seven months] and 3) making adequate progress.

These three facts do not make sense together.

The only up side to all of this scavenging for information is that my sister-in-law began to really question all she is hearing.  She is starting to feel like being nice and agreeable might not have translated into getting the best education for her daughter. 

My sister-in-law started building up for the fight we had in front of us.

We made a game plan.

1) Get the pediatrician to send a letter to the regional center and to start paper work through the HMO to get our own evaluation done.  And a letter to the school requesting an IEP meeting ASAP, maybe as soon as before school starts.
2) Research on what is needed for an evaluation and what might the regional center accept from the outside.
3) Gather all of the IEP reports over the 12 years Q. has already been in school.
4) Activate networks and identify other networks that can get us in touch with the appropriate lawyers/advocates, etc.

Battle ready, emotionally and physically... fears and inadequacies pushed aside to do what is best for Q.

Then came the call... we can re-evaluate Q., next week.

It was probably good they said no first.  It gave my sister-in-law the time and space to prepare for battle and understand what it might take to get the help Q. needs.  It also allowed her to make some moves that demonstrate the power of the parent and the registered letter. 

This is good because the re-evaluation is just step one.  We still have to stay on top of Q. getting exactly what she needs to be productive and successful. 

And so the saga continues...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poetry Thursday

Julie's retreat, threshold

Let yourself
be silently drawn
by the strange pull
of what
you really love

Sunflower emerging from kale, Julie's house, July 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Le quatorze juillet

Good friends and lively strangers
Red, white and blue for a different country
Bastille Day
San Francisco *alleys*
Prix Fixe
Excellent cocktails, champagne, wine...
Dancing, old American music, newish French disco music
Obnoxious fog/steam machine
Beer spilled on toes
Dancing til we nearly dropped

All in all a lovely evening!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Gone fishin' again

I was in San Francisco to celebrate Bastille Day and this is the picture I took.
Don't try to understand the motivation or rationale - it is only likely to cause a headache. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

NRU mish mashy

Several friends and I have been debating the idea of date/nondate for sometime.  I don't know why I thought we were the only ones... but naively, I guessed that it was just these friends who were having this issue.  For my friends, date or nondate frequently equaled good date or bad date.  Apparently there is much more to it for many others.  On some level, I am relieved to know that it is more pervasive, but I am also disheartened.  The issues presented here, though facetious, demonstrate a breakdown of that mythical dating thing.  But that we have destroyed dates is just too much.  I think it is most definitely an age issue, I am of an age to understand that a date is a date.

I think this is more disturbing than the headline (4Theories On Why The Ocean's Floating Plastic Is Disappearing) would have us believe.  If theory number 4 is right, so far it seems to be the front-runner though unproven – hence THEORY, those of us trying to make healthy choices by eating fish are in big trouble.  Like the GMO research, it makes me feel like we are really killing ourselves with our technology … not in the way most people in science fiction have predicted. 

On some level, this little article is meant as comedy.  However, it is also a recording of our society using mental illness as entertainment … and when it crosses the line, and we suffer the consequences, we are left feeling unsafe.

SFGate/Chronicle rarely has stories well enough written for me to share, but this story, despite its clunkiness, begged to be shared.  We never know the chain reaction of events we set off with our choices.  It is probably best to always think it is for the best as it was in this case.

Happy Bastille Day ...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Santa Monica Postcard

 This is how I think of Santa Monica ... houses on the ocean, the surf, sand and mountains.

 Is this what tourists think of when they conjure Santa Monica in their minds?

As a local, I had never been ... so I met friends from out of town there.  It's a boardwalk atmosphere with tons of tourists.  So far this year, I have visited Venice Beach and Santa Monica with visiting friends.  I can check them off the list ... done and done.

I know why I never went there before...but I enjoyed the Santa Cruz boardwalk as a child/tourist...

 I loved the composition of this sight.  The rocks, the palm trees (imported) and the yucca (indigenous) and the tourists... perfect combo of native and import all in in one shot.  Plus, the ocean and mountains in the background.

 This is a hotel I would like to visit ... after I win the lottery.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Proverb Thursday

Clouds over Arroyo Grande, CA, may 2009

You cannot prevent 
the birds of sorrow 
from flying over your head, 
but you can prevent them 
from building nests 
in your hair
~ Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

gone fishing...

Actually, not fishing at all ... just a day/night/day at the beach across from the mountains.

These pictures are not from the beach where we are camping ... but you get the idea.

These are all from my favorite beach in Oxnard ... we are at my favorite beach in Malibu.  I might get motivated to get pictures, and I might not..

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

diagnoses, research, hope, part 1

Yes, actually, almost all my posts involve grief, and, therefore, are tagged as such.

The last really long conversation I had with my brother was about my niece, Q, his daughter.  He had picked me up from the airport.  We headed for home so that he could attend a childhood friend's funeral.  It was a foreshadowing I could not appreciate at that time.

For years, at this point nearly 14, we (my sister, my mom and I) had tried to impress on my brother the need to get help for my niece.  She showed delays in speech and communication as a toddler.  She also displayed some odd behaviors.  And she suffered seizures as an infant and toddler that were never connected to a specific medical condition.

Probably because my brother was an independent contractor and did not have health insurance, she was not under the care of a primary caregiver.  Perhaps if that had been the case, "professionals" would have also impressed upon my brother and sister-in-law the importance of getting to the root causes of all three of the above mentioned conditions.

Finally, after about 3 years, the comparisons to other children could not be ignored.  FINALLY, they took her to the "Regional Center" to get some help.  My brother was so touchy about it all - over the years, our insistence on getting Mija more helped waned as we were told in subtle and not so subtle ways that she was not our child.

I tried many, many times to get him to see that she needed more than what she was getting in school.  Maybe I didn't ask the right, pointed questions -- like "Can I see her IEP?"  But I offered to pay for special tutoring over the summer.  I allowed that I would let them pick the person.  I just wanted to capitalize on the fact that one year she had a terrific teacher who knew how to reach my niece.  My sister-in-law has always been prickly with us and super over-protective of her kids, so none of us ever approached her ... that I know.

So, that February day, in the car, on our hour long ride along the coast, I pressed the case, again.  Mija, already 14, is unable to read and write.  How will she take care of herself?  I know he was seeing the danger more clearly than ever before.

I thought I felt a glimmer of hope because he was engaging and asking questions.  I thought I saw a wistful look in his eye.  Maybe I was making it up.  But we never got a chance to talk about it again.  I saw him one more time for a few days in Las Vegas, and then he was gone.

Now I approached my sister-in-law about it earnestly.  It was probably not a great time to press the case, my brother's shadow and his loss still cast over our landscape. 

But, time was running out for us to get her re-evaluated.  I insisted on going to the school to find out what kind of grief support was available for the kids.  I wanted to ask in front of my sis-in-law so she could mirror my actions later if needed. 

I had only one week with them following the funeral.  I needed to get so much done with her, bank accounts, and insurance claims and changing dmv records.   Now she doesn't even recall that meeting in the school psychologist's office. 

I saw an opening and asked what the diagnosis they had on record for my niece: "globally delayed."  I countered that it was not a real diagnosis -- the psychologist agreed that it would not qualify her for SSI or to stay at the high school for the extra three years that other special ed kids would get.  Yet, Q is in a self-contained classroom doing first grade level reading and writing ... per her IEP not necessarily her ability. 

When I asked what we needed to do to get Q re-evaluated, the psychologist said we needed to get back to the Regional Center. My sis-in-law said as soon as things calmed down she would call them; after all, she already had a relationship with them.  My hands, tied once again, were unable to do anymore.  I had to trust that I had impressed upon my sis-in-law the urgency.  Q was already a sophomore at that point.

A year went by, and then nearly another ... in between both my little sister and I had once again approached my sis-in-law about a diagnosis.  We had a long talk about autism, what it looks like and what kind of help is available.  She admitted that she was wary to do battle with the Regional Center on her own, I offered to go with her to the meetings.  I gave her my availability.


I have always had to measure how much to push because I know that we need to do more for Q and how much pushing will make me persona non grata.

Then, the miracle happened ... and we can thank Obamacare (hope there are some trolls out there that end up reading this).  I insisted when my brother died that the family would get health insurance even if I had to pay for it.  It is expensive for folks who don't get it through employment -- but without it there is no long-term care.  It does not exist when you only go to the doctor for emergencies ... even if it is to the same doctor.

My sis-in-law had to change providers at the beginning of the year, and her first visit with their new PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN (in caps because it is a wonderful, beautiful thing!).  This doctor wanted to talk with Q and when the responses were not what she expected, she looked at my sis-in-law and said, are you getting help from the Regional Center?  A new door was opened because it was coming from someone outside the family.

I don't care how it happened... next to do battle with Regional Center.

[I started this post weeks ago and just had the time to finish it ... the prelude to the next part is that the battle is full on with the Regional Center ... FULL BATTLE MODE, like looking for lawyers kind of battle...]

Monday, July 07, 2014

NRU CA sights edition

Winston Street in Los Angeles... who knew? Well the people who are trying to make it a better place to live for all, I guess.  From this piece, it would seem that gentrification here doesn't mean getting rid of people.  I wonder if this is peaceful cohabitation... guess I am feeling a little pessimistic today.

This little piece is ostensibly about Yosemite, but it is really about the founder of Patagonia.  It is fascinating and a good read.

I never knew there was a private club in Disneyland... I just figured out the restaurant in the Pirates of the Caribbean.  Well, obviously, I am not a regular.

I wish I were a hiker ... I have made many plans to be a hiker, except the obvious -- go for a hike, regularly.  I am adding this to the list, anyway, of the place I would like to hike (someday).

Long, but moderately interesting, piece on a play: taking a page from Culture Clash's and Anna Deveare Smith's ways of interviewing residents and then writing plays, this playwright has created a play about the ghosts of Santa Ana.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Sunday Rant

I don't generally blog on weekends … let alone on Sundays, but I needed to get this little rant out today.  It's Sunday, and I may not have gone to church today, but I have been thinking about God, American Christians and the way we have been treating some poor immigrants in the last few weeks.
1) We live in an incredibly rich and abundant world.  I know that there are many people who believe they are hurting … and some are.  But, there are many, many people buying $5 coffees and eating out and spending over $100 on phones and $200 on tv per month.

My point:  we have plenty of everything to share.

2) We live in a country where the majority of people (78%) claim to be Christian if not religious (5%) in some other variety.  [In fact, only 16% claim to be "unaffiliated" with less than 2% to be atheist.]  In the Christian Bible I've read, Jesus (that would be the Christ from Christian, lest you forget Christmas) told his followers he was proclaiming two new rules to supersede all others – love God, love your neighbors as yourself.  We call that last one The Golden Rule – and have a really, really hard time following it.  The first one, though, gets a little short shrift because we seem to not understand what it means … it means not only love and honor God, it means to love and honor God in ourselves, remember we were made in His image?  So, it also means to love and honor all other beings we believe to have been made in God's image, i.e. it reinforces rule 2 (the Golden one).  Also, honoring God means not doing things in His name that are ungodly … like being mean to people.

My point:  As God-loving, God-fearing, Christian claiming people, we ought to be sharing what we have… all of it, without reserve or conditions, certainly without malice.

So, I think the talking heads should stop trying to use poor children seeking a better life as a way to trash our president.  In the wake of your political shitstorm, there are real people.  In each of those human beings, you should see your God … the one you love so much you go to the Supreme Court to preserve your ability to honor Him … that same one, that one, right over there on the cross.

I pray the apocalypse doesn't come right now because all those assholes will be left here on earth with me because they didn't recognize Jesus in all the people asking for their help.

Yeah, I went there.  I said it was a rant, so what did you expect?

I believe this is political pandering to fear -- I wish that today from all the pulpits (or wherever religious people speak) they would be reminding their congregants that our country's media has had different ways of viewing young children in need in the past.  We also had a different way of understanding tenacity, the danger immigration involves and the challenge of making lives anew.

I believe in those words from the Bible even if I am not a church-goer -- I think there was a man named Jesus and he made some very profound statements which those who do believe in God and go to Church might do well to remember ... and apply liberally in their lives.

Stats from, lest you believe I am pulling "facts" out of my ass like all the people on FOX NEWS do.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Quote Thursday +

Perhaps they are not stars,
but rather openings in Heaven
where the love of our lost ones
pours through and shines down
upon us to let us know
they are happy.
[courtesy of Daily Affirmations]

I was going to try to find an appropriately patriotic quote or poem for the week, but then I didn't have the energy to do it. 

I found this one, instead, as I read through some Daily Affirmations.  I was trying to steel myself for a a hectic week of writing.  So far, in my grief process, this is when the hurt hits hardest.

I was also trying to think of an answer for the journal challenge I posted earlier this week... and I thought that this one spoke to what I hope it feels like.

Some days I can imagine being there, others not ... but when I get that crooked smile from my nephew, or I think of getting Quetz the help she needs, or I imagine my parents finding more will to live (healthily), or I imagine my nieces and nephews in college... well, then, I can imagine this also being true.