Friday, November 28, 2014

Pink morning

On the platform at station stop Moorpark.
I have seen a few too many 2am starry skies and sunrises in the past few days. 
Since it could not be helped I tried to at least appreciate the beauty.

NRU super mish mash

Jailing (and killing) innocent people is not only immoral, it's expensive.  Not all of those who were wrongly imprisoned will get compensated ... but the costs to society as well as to the person are undeniable.  I wish that prosecutors (and law enforcement) would learn to be as careful with all suspects as they are when the suspect is someone well-known.

If you still haven't tuned in to Serial, you should ... and I am not the only one that thinks so... apparently they are being streamed by millions.  I sure do enjoy it ... and yes, I have questions that haven't been answered yet.  But as a long-time fan of the serial drama, I enjoy the suspense and the weaving.  I am sad that it is a true story that affects the lives of real people, but I am glad that the issues about evidence, witnesses and lawyering are getting air time.  I like it so much, I even donated when asked this week.  I know... I love free things on the internet, and I haven't donated to my local NPR since I have been in graduate school. I couldn't resist.  Call it my impulse buy for the holiday season.

Just to prove that this news round up is truly mishy and mashy and not about Thanksgiving at all... here is a story about some countries banning entry to a crazy asshole who has been making money all over by claiming he can teach men how to be Don Juan rapists ... there is the side of me that thinks, wow, good for them for banning his ass; then there is the side of me that thinks, in what way is this better than talking about one of those girls whose last names start with a K?  Honestly, I say actually put the ass in jail, let him rot there and don't talk about it.  And somebody get those K girls some self respect or meds that can help them with their need to be the center of prurient attention.

I have blogged many times about Oren and his battle with lung cancer, but I thought I would share this article he was featured in last weekend to remind us to be more aware of our blessings.  May we all acknowledge abundance.

It seems like loss is all around me these days.  As I struggle to come to terms with it, I have been drawn to stories of others doing just that.  This is a bittersweet piece about a young basketball fan connecting with his idol and celebrating the mother who he lost to cancer this year.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Poetry Thursday

Might have already used this one... but I thought it was apt for Thanksgiving -- or any holiday at this point in my life.

The soul is nourished
by living and loving
without defensive armor
and by approaching death and loss
with openness, courage
and compassion.

~Froma Walsh

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Loaded for Bear and Being Nice

I have been told more than once that you can get more bees with honey than vinegar.  It’s not that I doubt that might be true for some, but it has not always worked for me, especially in the most tense situations.  Perhaps the issue is that I am not looking to attract bees, just to tame them.

Full disclosure:  I use what I call “little girl voice” whenever necessary to get what I need.  It works with those who want to “save” you – or those who are susceptible to helping.  And, to be honest, it works with those who need to be the stronger, more powerful one.  It is not exactly “baby bird” who behaves as though she were completely defenseless.  Of course, if I tried to do baby bird with anyone who already knows me, I would be laughed off the planet.  It is not a huge difference, but little girl just admits her needs, not that she needs all.

So, there I was in the second IEP with the usual suspects plus the regular teachers who had been put on notice that I wasn’t letting them off the hook.  I was nice - to a point, that is to say, nice but firm.  I wasn’t impolite – just direct, attentive and relentless.
I would feel bad about holding their feet to the fire if 1) the psychologist had bothered to learn my niece’s name; and 2) she had not brought the photocopy of “the law” complete with yellow highlights to back up her defense of the school district’s fuck up so many years ago.  MAYBE ... that is, maybe I would feel bad if...

Yeah, I’m not afraid to be strong and smart and if that means not nice, so be it.

Vinegar forever.

I am loaded for bear, so they are on notice.

[In case you didn't notice, these photos are largely unrelated.  I took them while walking around downtown LA, that's the only tie in.  But I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the news headlines with the evangelizing headlines!]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Just Another Day, Commuting Adventure

Union Station, November 10th
On my way to Q’s second IEP battle, I thought I would have brunch with a friend and run some errands (more on that later) in downtown Los Angeles, traveling by train, so I also had a lot of work with me. 

As it turns out, that was a key move because at the second stop the conductor informed us that there had been “an incident.” She went on to say “if you are a regular, you know that means we’ll be here for a while.”

Incident, in this case, means someone had been struck by a train, probably due to jumping in front of it.  When the train hits something, it is a collision, but when someone/something hits the train, it’s an incident.

I was clear that it was most likely suicide that caused this delay.  However, I found myself making up stories that would make it an accident.  It is not unheard of for someone with headphones on to not hear a train coming down the track.  My new friend, Max, from Holland looked at me incredulously, but then he played along.  He suggested that it was odd that the train only sounded its horn when it was very close to a crossing.

The sign on the platform, that I got to stare at for an hour, initially reported the incident as a person hit struck by the train.  Later it was strictly referred to as “incident” perhaps in deference to the deceased. 

We waited.  Max and I chatted.  For some reason, all the folks on the train thought that I had some secret answers, and asked me what was happening, how long we might be there, etc.  People who were trying to get to the airport called a taxi.  The conductor made an announcement looking for a third person to share the taxi.  Some people called others to get picked up.  Some people changed plans and went back to their cars. 

We were stuck, first in Moorpark for an hour and then in Simi Valley for another.  No buses to take, no people to call.  The meeting I was going to wouldn’t start until 2:30pm and we would be there in plenty of time.

Max asked me if he could get a refund. I laughed.

I fretted some for the new forever family I had met on the platform in Oxnard.  They were on their way to Legoland to celebrate the adoption.  They even invited me to come along.  They seemed in good spirits as I departed the train in Los Angeles. 

I had just enough time to rush to Grand Central Market for a pastrami sandwich.  I don’t know if it was an off day for them, or if I was just not in the right mood, but it was not as tasty as the first time.

Brunch and errands would have to wait as I prepared for battle…

Friday, November 21, 2014


I have been waiting for years for Barry to flex this muscle.

The fact is that the Republicans have no intention of doing anything ... any governing... at all.

They have made a career out of doing nothing but talking shit about other people, particularly President Obama.

So, there has been no reason at all to try to work with them, or not rock the boat lest some chicken shit Democrats might not get elected.

Yeah, so in case you have not met him, THIS is MY president.

Work it, Barry.  Shower them with executive orders, take them to the carpet, dare them to alienate the fastest growing ethnic group in the nation.  Just like that.

I knew you could do it.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quote Thursday

You love like a coward.
Don't take no steps at all.
Just stand around and hope 
for things to happen out right.
and unknowing
like a hog under an acorn tree.
Eating and grunting with your ears
hanging over your eyes,
and never even looking up
to see where the acorns
are coming from.

~Z. N. Hurston
from Their Eyes Were Watching God

I am not sure that Zora didn't mean that to be a poem.  It jumped out of the book at me many, many years ago.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Poetry Thursday

The Dream That Must Be Interpreted

This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.

Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.

But there's a difference with this dream.
Everything cruel and unconscious
done in the illusion of the present world,
all that does not fade away at the death-waking.

It stays,
and it must be interpreted.

All the mean laughing,
all the quick, sexual wanting,
those torn coats of Joseph,
they change into powerful wolves
that you must face.

The retaliation that sometimes comes now,
the swift, payback hit,
is just a boy's game
to what the other will be.

You know about circumcision here.
It's full castration there!

And this groggy time we live,
this is what it's like:

A man goes to sleep in the town
where he has always lived, 
and he dreams he's living
in another town.
In the dream, he doesn't remember
the town he's sleeping in his bed in.  
He believes the reality of the dream town.

The world is that kind of sleep.

The dust of many crumbled cities
settles over us like a forgetful doze,
but we are older than those cities.
We began as a mineral.  
We emerged into plant life
and into the animal state, 
and then into being human,
and always we have forgotten our former states,
except in early spring 
when we slightly recall being green again.
That's how a young person turns
toward a teacher.  That's how a baby leans
toward the breast, without knowing the secret
of its desire, yet turning instinctively.

Humankind is being led along an evolving course,
through this migration of intelligences,
and though we seem to be sleeping,
there is an inner wakefulness
that directs the dream,

and that will eventually startle us back
to the truth of who we are.

From Essential Rumi
translated by Coleman Barks

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NRU mishy and mashy

[wrote this one a bit ago ... and put it in the drafts folder]
Maybe several someones having been saying this ... but someone really needed to. In fact, I think it ought to run in a loop to counter all the crazy that is running on all the purported media outlets on television.  I have heard some good and some questionable on the radio (read NPR because I don't listen to talk radio), but to allow folks to talk about quarantine for ebola (why is it capitalized? do we capitalize flu?) is patently ridiculous.  I don't care -- every call in show in the world ought to be setting the crazy straight not allowing it to rage.  It is unconscionable that we are worrying about this when how many law enforcement officers have been murdered by gun violence in the past month?  We have some diseases running through our country, and we protect our "right" to keep it going.  Ebola (beginning of a sentence) is not one of those disease rampaging through our country.

And I would also like to give a shout out to the nurse in Maine -- she is super right to be whacking back at the wackos with the law and logic.  However, I would also like to point out that if she had not been white, she might not have taken it to this level -- take some basic rights away from a white person and they notice.  Just saying ... good on her, no doubt ... we should all feel that way about basic rights being taken away, like the right to be a person of color and walk the street without being shot down by a cop.
I am not sure what is says about Denton (Texas) and Santa Barbara (CA) that Denton passed its fracking ban and Santa Barbara did not ... but hoping that others will follow Denton's lead and build bridges with unlikely allies in order to make some sense out of this issue.  I wish that those reporting about the swarms of earthquakes would speculate more about how we are disturbing tectonics with the fracking industry.  I wish that we could take a step back and look at the economics of the situation, too.  Is it really a good idea to flood the market with oil and natural gas?  And at what price?  In the long run, will we be paying for fracking longer than conventional wells?  Ugh... so much to think about here, my head hurts, but we can't act like Ostriches.  So, back to the top -- way to go, DENTON!

For those that still do not believe there is a problem with football (yes, you are similar to those who still don't believe in climate change), here is a story for you.  Fascinating and heartbreaking ... and it may just make you feel respectful of lawyers ... they do get badmouthed a lot - not always deservedly.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Goods and Odds

"The odds were good, but the goods were odd," Seattle Underground Tour Guide

I love the underground Seattle tour -- in fact, it might be the best part of Seattle.  I have only been in Seattle twice and mostly saw the same things both times.  I guess if you had time to explore, you might find lots of other great things.

However, the line delivered by our super funny tour guide sums up several parts of our college tour of the Pacific Northwest.

My long train trips (read: overnight) have always been to Albuquerque -- you leave in the evening and arrive mid morning the next day.  Each time, I enjoyed the trips -- and, yes, I have always  met interesting, and sometimes odd, travelers, but nothing like this time.

There just isn't time on the Southwest Chief to get into a lot of trouble.

Not so the Coast Starlight past Oakland.  Wow...

On the way up to Portland, we spent quite a bit of time in the observation car -- getting to know the way some men cannot participate in conversations -- only throw in "facts" sometimes without any foundation and then throw banter back and forth.

I felt as if I were discovering a strange breed for the first time.

I am all about being friendly and talking to strangers.  But these guys were those men who must be entertained at all times -- and do so by engaging anyone, everyone in this little "did you know..." talk.

Super annoying.  One thing is sitting at a bar with your friend and getting interrupted a few times ... another is being trapped in a train for over 24 hours with these guys.


Had I been alone, I would have just put in my earphones.  Instead, I watched and winced as my mom, niece and nephew participated in the crazy talk.

I am not saying it wasn't at times entertaining ... but only for about five minutes.

That was the ride up ... and it was tame in comparison with the ride back.

There were no less than two large, loud and drunk parties that got on in Seattle and off in Portland. OK, they were funny because they were getting off pretty soon.

For the rest of the trip, over another 24 hours, the conductors made many, many announcements about drinking, being drunk in public and being thrown off the train.  If that gives you any sense of what the train ride was like. 

Let's just say that I spent more time at my seat, headphones in.  I got off the train on longer stops to let my nephew run, helping to keep his need to be entertained down.

Next time, I will buy the sleeping compartment, if only to get access to the other parlor car.

There were other adventures... when there is more time, I will share.

Friday, November 07, 2014

NRU cute, fun and entertaining

If this little gal doesn't melt your heart, then you probably don't have one.  Super cute -- so glad they were able to rescue her and nurse her back to health. Not sure I am so glad she is moving to Chicago.

I wish I had a whole posting worth of cute baby otter pictures.

Alas... I do not.  And there is too much bad news around crowding out anything fun,

I did find this though -- it has more promise than substance.  I could see myself following these leads - and making up anything that I didn't find out.  In fact, it is my plan for my grandmother's story -- you know the one where I have found more questions than answers.  In any case, it is fun enough that I am looking forward to hearing the rest.

If you want more true stories that are fun ... you can look here -- I am always happy to catch an episode, usually when I am on my way to pick up my nephew from school on a Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Quote Thursday, oldie but goodie (snippet) gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, 
no less than the trees and the stars. 
In the noisy confusion of life, 
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, 
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be careful. 
Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Life Intrudes

I have drafts... but every time I sat down to write on those drafts, life has intruded. [I'll get back to those drafts next week, I promise.]

Two things happened today.

1) I took that walk on the beach I promised the therapist I would squeeze in even though I had a million other things to do for myself or others.

It was glorious.  The perfect beach day -- November 4th.

My mother said the other day, we really do live in a beautiful place.

There is so much beauty, I can't even place which beauty she was talking about.

I am practicing reminding myself about that silver lining every day by enjoying the beauty.

Today I saw, felt and touched beauty -- life.

It helped shift me into a feeling mode that wasn't dominated by anxiety and overwhelm.

It was  blessing that I gave myself by taking an hour to just appreciate the world I live in.

2) I read this.

I stumbled on this piece back in June. [I am pretty sure I have shared it before.]

And I have been following Oren's progress through his twitter, facebook and blog posts.

I have been holding him and his family in my heart -- in the space where I still believe in miracles and hope for the best even though good news has been so short.

I cry whenever I read about Oren's diagnosis -- I wish I could trade my health for his.  I wish I could somehow give his family more time together and that time would be spent in good health.

But Oren's presence of mind, clarity about what matters in life and his ability to hold optimism in the face of such difficulties also fills me with faith -- faith in the world we live in, the intrinsic goodness of people and the strength love can give you.

I am sharing Oren's words because they have that power and because his family needs all the good thoughts and prayers we all can muster.  And, of course, if you have funds to donate to research, November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

May we all recognize the beauty around us, bless ourselves with living in the present moment, and take the opportunity to appreciate our abundance in whatever form it takes in our lives.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Tappet Bros minus 1

I was listening to the Car Talk guys this weekend -- it happens whenever I sleep in that before I know it, the guys are cackling in the background ... and I can't tear myself away.

I clued a friend in not too long ago that Click and Clack had retired and these were reruns... he had no idea.

It really doesn't matter - unless you are paying super close attention to the years of the cars and the guys talking about the relationship of time to the repair.

This weekend, one of the brothers, I could not keep them straight, nearly proposed to a woman who called in to get their advice about buying a used stretch limo.  When she said that one of her other cars was a 52 convertible cadillac, one of those Magliozzi was ready to buy a ticket to Florida.

I thought, then, about the fact that this was a rerun ... and wondered wistfully if they hadn't met up after all.

Then I opened the newspaper online Monday afternoon and saw that Tom had passed.

I guess the mystery of why they retired from the radio show is revealed by Tom's condition.

The pain of his passing must be somewhat diminished by the fact that he is no longer controlled by that anguish.

Still, so freshly having lost my siblings, my heart aches for Ray (and their sister, Lucille).

I can hear them laughing in the background of my mind.  What a treasure they are ... and I am so thankful for the many years of listening thus far ... and for the many to come as Ray has graciously allowed NPR to continue to air their reruns.

If you have never heard any of their shows, treat yourself to some.

NPR has some other lovely remembrances of Ray here and here and here.

Here is what the NYTimes had to say about him.

Here is the LATimes obituary.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Rain Watch

Life isn't about waiting 
for the storm to pass. 
It's about learning how to 
dance in the rain...

- Vivian Greene

Last week we spent much time and energy waiting and watching for rain.

All over the television and radio weather forecasters speculated, hoped and dreamed of rain for our parched land.

As we got closer, with certainty, the forecasters predicted, changed their minds, and admonished us about how slick the roads would be with all the oil build up in these dry, dry months.

We have been in the middle of yet another great renovation adventure.

Each time it seems like it will be "easy" and then the reality of a house filled to the brim with junk sinks in.

All of the crap my father put outside for the floors to be put in were mostly still outside -- usually not a problem at all.  And all the scraps of rug, rug pad, and other detritus had joined the crap on the front lawn. 

But rain was coming ...

As we surveyed the lot of it, it was dificult to tell the difference between the keepers and the trash.  At least for me...

Despite the week of detailed prognostication, my dad waited until the very last minute to bring in the junk in a mad rush of moving, bundling, covering and arguing.

All day, my dad had asked me for the weather update -- and every few hours, the time the rain would arrive changed.  The dark clouds had been menacing all day ... usually a bad sign because often that meant it was raining somewhere else and we *might* get a drop or two of their leftovers.

In our house, it is a rule that if it doesn't say at least 80% chance of rain, we don't believe we will see any rain.

And, of course, all of this on Halloween -- I was anxiously awaiting CHILDREN in COSTUMES since none ever approached my apartment thinking students too cheap to buy candy.

There we were, as the sun was setting, madly trying to get it all in...somewhere.

Long after I gave up *helping* and turned my attention to the trick-or-treaters, mom and dad were cutting up and bundling rug to "hide" it in the back of my dad's pick up.  Rain soaked it would weigh at least three times.

After all was said or done ... around 10:30pm, the rain came.

It pounded so hard for the first thirty minutes, I almost believed those last forecasts of lightning. But we didn't see any lights ... just rain.

I went to sleep to the sound of rain -- windows open -- and woke up to it, too.

By 9:00am the next morning, there were only puddles here and there.  But the plants were happy, the carpet trash was safe in the truck and everything else "dry" in its various hiding places.

Oh ... and my car almost looks like it was washed.