Thursday, December 31, 2015

Poetry Thursday, Abe Nouk

new life grows everywhere - after rain, even in the welcome mat
See Abe Nouk perform this here. Find more of his work here.

I was birthed in a society that decided to use its children as child soldiers.
Instead of wearing nappies, we were wearing camouflage.
Instead of baby bottles, they put guns in our hands, and persuade us to think as men in advance.

Only ten years old, wanted to refuse, but had nowhere to go. In his mind, this isn't the life that he was destined to be. He just wanted to be... free. 

My hopes for the world is constantly diminishing as we are constantly reminded of what we've become.  
Pretend to preach love, instead it's all hatred, quick to blame religion and talk about change. 
Our selfish ways have taken us to the graves. 

But if you make it to Heaven before me, tell all the child soldiers, 'The land you fought for is finally free. And you should keep your head high, because you fought for me.' 

I'm told I'm lucky - I could've been a child soldier. 
 I could've been dead. Instead, I'm still alive. 
See, God don't make mistakes. 

I'm blessed to testify because I know what hatred looks like. 
It's bullets loaded in a gun and pointed at infants, and they call that revenge. 
I know what hatred looks like. 
It's bombs dropping on innocent civilians and mothers trying to avoid them while protecting their children. 
I know what hatred looks like. It's genocide justified. 
A pile of bodies in a mass grave while the world turns a blind eye. 
I know what hatred looks like. 

But today, that defeats the purpose. 
Looking at you, I know what love looks like. 
It's at the extensiveness of a handshake as we become friends and not enemies. 
We... are what love looks like.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Generosity and renewal

I had the great fortune to see Jack Kornfield a couple of weeks ago, and it turned out to be his annual end of year holiday blessing and a discussion on renewal and generosity.

It was a truly lovely talk - pointing to the ways in which generosity and renewal weave through so many holidays at this time of the year.  He read some truly beautiful stories -- and I wish I had paid better attention to the title of the book in order to share here.

Suffice to say, I was moved to action on a thought I have been cultivating for a few years.  As hard as it is to not participate in the rabid commercialization of Christmas and gift giving, it is somewhat easier when you are broke.  I still, though, even in lean years cobbled together small tokens for my family and friends ... and often felt badly that I could not do more even though I knew that these were not people who *needed* gifts.  Indeed, who really needs them? 

Though, I have also thought about how fortunate I have always been to have something under the tree and enough to eat.  Several times I have tried, with my siblings, to move the family from gift giving to no avail.

This year I decided to not even participate in Christmas by choosing not to go home.

Instead for Christmas (or New Year), I am trying to practice what I preach about generosity.  I don't want any Christmas gifts beyond good wishes for continued personal growth.  And I want to honor those nearest and dearest by giving in their names.  And I am sending some cards out to my loved ones, hopefully they will make it into the mail in time for the New Year...

If you are not sure where to give, here are some ideas.

I love Homeboy Industries -- they do tremendous work with the people everyone else has given up hope on -- and they are very successful.  If you are not ready to just give in someone's name, you can buy merchandise, including delicious cookies and other goodies, and support the work in that way.

I stumbled upon this group because of the video above -- it is a good way to connect with families in need. This group will give you a way to help families month to month and in many ways including with your money and your time.  I was lucky that my work place sponsored a family, so I was able to contribute to that gift giving.  But, this seems like a great way to make sure that families are happier and healthier on a regular basis.

My friend convinced me to try Kiva even though I have known about their work in the past, I just hadn't taken the leap.  The gift I gave was a "dedication" which means that I won't get to reinvest the returns.  So, I am going to try to just add to the pot as I can.  I only have a small amount to work with, but I am looking forward to hearing how even that small amount can help.

This marvelous story about one woman's generosity and how her family and friends have carried on her loving ways also inspired me -- and they take donations to try to make a special day for as many children as possible. 

Funding your local food bank/pantry or volunteering there is always a wonderful way to support your community!

Monday, December 28, 2015

NRU not so great news

I really cannot bring myself to read about the reauthorization of the ESEA, but the bad news seeps through the cracks anyway.  Someone asked me the other day if NCLB had been repealed... how to answer.  I deferred answering, saying I hadn't read the new legislation, which is true.  But I know that it is actually tinkering around the edges, so I did say that.  I am sick of being the bearer of bad news, but there is precious little else to tell.  This piece details how new provisions for special education students intended to help them with standardized tests in fact hinder their progress. 

So, LAPD investigated itself and then said there were no problems.  Sandy Banks takes a look at just how hard it is to find, change or acknowledge bias in police officers.  Learning to talk about what bias looks like, whether it is overt or subconscious, is surely the right way to start.

I am increasingly worried about the pathologizing of children's differences.  It is just too easy to slap on a label without truly investigating the behaviors, the family history and the settings.  We need to know much more about students than any pencil or paper test or cursory appraisal of "expert" or teachers.  We need to also see these students' strengths before we make

I really don't have words for Zuckerberg, you can read this and decide how you feel.  It may be a little strident but not more so than the rest of the articles I read on the subject.  Somehow the coverage has been either scathing or fawning. 

I cannot get away from the reporting on the scourge of gun violence, nor should I try to, I guess. I just would like to be able to create more change around this issue.  And there really are no good ways for me to do that, as far as I can see... other than contribute dollars I do not have.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Poetry Thursday

A Walk
Rainier Maria Rilke
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

it's raining, it's pouring...

every time I hear the little sump pump that could start up, I think I can also hear the chanterelle singing and sighing under the leaf cover
hoping to have pics to share of those babies grown up, soon....

Monday, December 21, 2015

NRU uplift...

...or at least silver linings. The world has been so full of bad news that it has been hard for me to do my news round up.

Here are two stories I felt I needed to share on the uplifting side... bad news will return, no doubt soon, with attendant ranting.

Our current media is replete with examples of public education that does not work or that is not working the way we imagine it should.  I was pleased to see this article shared on fb about a superintendent that goes above and beyond what we might consider *education* in order to help her students be successful.  I think the majority of teachers and principals would love to participate in this kind of education -- but we need to provide them with the resources, not just money but time and people, in order to do this.  Just think what would be necessary to level this up to Oakland or Sacramento or San Francisco, not to mention Los Angeles. But it is a potential model... 

Norway is facing the challenge of how to integrate immigrants into their larger culture ... this may not appeal to all as it may seem like forced assimilation, but I believe it is a model for having adult conversations about difficult topics.  We can choose to say nothing, to do nothing.  But the challenges will persist.  And our unease about the newcomers frequently morphs into bias, conscious or not.  We have to find ways to bring migrants into our culture with tolerance or we will continue to radicalize them as permanent outsiders.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Poetry Thursday

Dance, when you're broken open.

Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of the fighting.

Dance in your blood.

Dance when you're perfectly free.

~ Rumi

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Every once in a while, I get to spend time with one of my five-year-old sidekicks.

As I am starting to understand my ability to read other people's energy (and what parts of it I take with me after meeting or passing them), I am learning why I yearn for these visits with my little buddies.

They always have so much to say and questions, boy do they have questions.

But, I also note how different the boys are from the girls.  

The little boy I sometimes pick up from school generally starts off our time together reticent.

I ask him what he did that day, and he usually tells me he can't remember.  Over time, I joke with him about his lack of memory, or ask him specific but very crazy questions.  And eventually, I win him over.

We laugh a lot together -- I get to be whimsical and creative and open to any ideas, nonsensical or brilliant or both.  We make snacks together, walk and investigate places, read books or play.  We do homework and clean up.

We do every day regular things together for a few hours.

At some point during our time together, mostly when we are getting close to bedtime story, he asks me if I have children.

No matter how many times I have answered this question, I get it again ... sometime two times in row.

Is it that he thinks that adults without children wouldn't know how to understand a child?  What does that question mean?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Beach Cat

One of my last beach walks in November, I spied this black cat enjoying the sunset. 

It was chilly, the wind shooting cold air, but it was low tide, and there seemed millions of miles of beach. The sun was sinking like a big orange ball into the water behind the islands. 

I could hear Taps playing from the base behind the lighthouse.  I turned to look at the rocks and there was this cat. 

From his/her perch, the sunset was glorious.  I imagined that cat coming out just at the right time every morning to greet the sun and then every evening to watch it settle in for its night sleep.

What a lovely ritual.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Planning to go mushroom hunting. It will be an adventure! These beauties just presented themselves on a walk. I guess it really is mushroom season since it has been raining. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Poetry Thursday, RIP John Truedell

I’ve been the mirror 
To others reflecting selves 
I’ve known love that can’t help 
But love and I’ve been close 
To that hurting way of love 

I flew with the eagles 
Until I fell from the nest 
I ran with the wolves 
Then got lost from the pack 

~John Truedell

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

NRU education ed

I had decided to take a break from reading articles about education.  But, since I have been sending emails to these reporters for several years suggesting that they follow the money more carefully before reporting, I can't resist.

My heart really isn't in this NRU, but I haven't been able to avert my eyes from the protests on campus -- particularly my alma mater.

The demands these students are making, twenty plus years after I graduated, are some of the reasons why I do not contribute as an alumni - even a nominal amount.

My story, my recollections, are not as fraught as this young woman's.  But that the same nonsense persists sickens me.  I am sorry that these students have lived through this, continue to put up with blatant racism and the microagressions I know all too well.  Here is a great piece by Joshua Rothman (not Black at Princeton, not a contemporary of mine) on the un-naming of Wilson on Princeton campus...if you read nothing else on this, this quote struck me:

"The problem with the slippery-slope argument, however, is the slope. Even if you don’t want to slide down it, you still have to deal with the fact that it exists. To the extent that Wilson’s racism was typical, America was racist. Ultimately, his views are emblematic of the way that, for hundreds of years, Americans could have it both ways, regarding themselves as egalitarian even though they were also white supremacists. This way of thinking has shaped universities, too, from admissions policies to curriculum design."

Monday, December 07, 2015

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Poetry Thursday - Rumi Hope

Sorrow prepares you for joy. 
It violently sweeps everything 
out of your house, 
so that new joy 
can find space to enter. 
It shakes the yellow leaves 
from the bough of your heart, 
so that fresh, green leaves 
can grow in their place. 
It pulls up the rotten roots, 
so that new roots 
hidden beneath 
have room to grow. 
Whatever sorrow shakes 
from your heart, 
far better things 
will take their place.
~ Rumi

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

picture therapy

Seeking some peace right now ... this reminds me of the quiet time I spent near the water.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Unexpected Beauty

 Taking pictures with the iPhone while on the beach means never knowing exactly what I am capturing.

I pointed at the birds and the surf.

But I didn't imagine the mirror image in the sand.

What a lovely surprise!

Barely processed one day of pictures.  Working back from Saturday (11/28), so there are more treasures to come.


Monday, November 30, 2015


You know that annoying habit radio stations have of playing the same song over and over and over and over?  It feels like the song, however good it might be, is being shoved down your throat.

Well, a few weeks ago, I spent a long time in the car, listening to the radio.

This song appeared to be on repeat.

Every time I switched stations, this song was on.  Usually it was in the middle of the song. I had never heard it before.

And instead of feeling like something was being shoved down my throat uncomfortably, I kept hoping to catch it from the beginning.

I am not sure if it resonated because it is such a great song.

It's a nice song.  It's a pop song with people singing with lovely voices.  But it is just a song.

But something about the words struck a chord -- rather I felt they were stroking a chord I heard Jack Kornfield strike at a Monday night dharma talk just a few days before my long car ride.

I can't remember his exact words, but he said something about what if we answered all the inconveniences with love.

Whenever I repeat things he says, the words seem trite, threadbare and slight.
The signs are every where... LOVE!

But when he said it, with all the examples (poems, stories, quotes) he gave, it felt like a symphony.

The threads, woven together brilliantly, created a tapestry that felt like the richest, yet most simple, panorama.


What if you met all unpleasantness (from yourself or others) with love?

This song seems like it is exhorting the same kind of loving -- imagining that love can hold unpleasant.

Especially as a "reaction," love can keep unpleasant from causing more pain, more damage and more suffering.

I know ... what if we met with physical harm, should we bring love there, too?

Well, sometime between the Jack class, the day in the car, and today, the attacks in Beirut and Paris (and...and...and...) happened.

Then I saw the video with the father giving his son a way to meet terror without giving into fear.

That clinched it.

I knew Jack was right.  Meet it with love. 

The father told his son that we had weapons greater than guns: we have flowers and candles.  The subtext: we have love.  We can meet terror with love and remembrance.  What he said stroked that same chord and the symphony started up again.

If we can meet terror with love, we can certainly meet our inconvenience, challenge, unease, suffering with love.

May you all find love, especially in times of distress... it's right there, in your heart.

These are some of my favorite parts (see, it's almost all of it):

...And I realized
No, we're not promised tomorrow

So I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna hold you
Like I'm saying goodbye wherever we're standing
I won't take you for granted 'cause we'll never know when
When we'll run out of time so I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you

In the blink of an eye
Just a whisper of smoke
You could lose everything
The truth is you never know
I'll make the most of the minutes and love with no regrets

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Poetry Thursday, Thanksgiving edition

The universe is a complete unique entity. 
Everything and everyone is bound together 
with some invisible strings. 
Do not break anyone’s heart; 
do not look down on weaker than you. 
One’s sorrow at the other side of the world 
can make the entire world suffer;
one’s happiness can make
the entire world smile.
~ Shams Tabrizi

Friday, November 20, 2015

NRU education edition

It has been hard to read these ... not because they are bad news, but because I feel like in my break up with education, I need to figure out how to not *care* about this stuff.  Fat chance, I guess, but one has to try to build some healthy boundaries.

This is a long list of mixed bag stories - mostly offered with little commentary. Enjoy, ignore, distribute, or refute at your leisure.

LAUSD and how teachers are dealing with new discipline guidelines...

Rewriting the curriculum to include a South Korean Korea, of course, not here, don't get excited.

What teachers really want, it's not what teacher haters would have you believe.

Closely related: low teacher morale, the newest education crisis.

Op Ed on teachers for the needy.

A different take on schools in the US and what our typical view says about us.

Ostensibly this is a story about a strange coincidence and students' resiliency, but it is also the story of a great teacher.

A piece on a different take on teaching English Language Learners, hopeful..

Geffen, UCLA and paying for private school education for the profs and staff of a public university.  You do the math.

Thanks to the many college students standing up to bias, prejudice, ignorance and racism (on small and large scales) around the country, some of the news media decided to talk about microaggression (or whining as many who have never suffered discrimination-other than red cups at starbucks- would have you believe).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Poetry Thursday, Thanks Jack!

Jack Kornfield read this at Monday's dharma talk.  It was magnificent.  I had to share.  Enjoy - and do go listen to Ellen read it.  It seems long in writing, but you will wish it were longer.

Gate C22
(second link goes to Ellen reading this)

Ellen Bass (more from her here)

At gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like he'd just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,
like she'd been released at last from ICU, snapped
out of a coma, survived bone cancer, made it down
from Annapurna in only the clothes she was wearing.

Neither of them was young. His beard was gray.
She carried a few extra pounds you could imagine
her saying she had to lose. But they kissed lavish
kisses like the ocean in the early morning,
the way it gathers and swells, sucking
each rock under, swallowing it
again and again. We were all watching —
passengers waiting for the delayed flight
to San Jose, the stewardesses, the pilots,
the aproned woman icing Cinnabons, the man selling
sunglasses. We couldn't look away. We could
taste the kisses crushed in our mouths.

But the best part was his face. When he drew back
and looked at her, his smile soft with wonder, almost
as though he were a mother still open from giving birth,
as your mother must have looked at you, no matter
what happened after — if she beat you or left you or
you're lonely now — you once lay there, the vernix
not yet wiped off, and someone gazed at you
as if you were the first sunrise seen from the Earth.
The whole wing of the airport hushed,
all of us trying to slip into that woman's middle-aged body,
her plaid Bermuda shorts, sleeveless blouse, glasses,
little gold hoop earrings, tilting our heads up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ugh, NRU, and sigh

For those who misread protest against violent police as anti-police sentiment, please take a minute to read this:  As citizens we deserve to feel protected and served by our law enforcement.  The largely just, competent and proactive police officers should repudiate the unlawful behavior of their violent and racist co-workers.  They should stand with fellow citizens in holding the "bad apples" accountable; as should the courts, rather than contributing to a climate that defends and, thus, encourages unlawful, violent and deadly behavior.

All this before Beirut, Paris, the latest in Baghdad and Syria.

On a different note, this time last year, I was picking up my distant aunt's ashes because I read an article about the unclaimed dead in Los Angeles county.  This year, thanks to that story, the list is digitized so anyone can look for their departed ones.

What about willpower?

Oh, Charlie Sheen, may you find some peace for all this turmoil.   I worry about Charlie.  Not in a teen idol gone awry way -- I worry about him in that way he is a poster child for mental illness not being treated properly in our society. It seems like we either demonize it or use it as a source of amusement. Would we do that with cancer?  Anyway, I met Charlie Sheen once at LAX.  He was sitting in a little bar waiting for his luggage.  Sweet as pie though he was obviously irritated by the travel mishap.  We chatted; he tore a piece of the paper bag holding whatever he had bought at the concession stand and he signed his name.  He wished me well, and I hurried off not wanting to be a bother.  He had really been very nice.  I saw him again at a nightclub some years later.  He was out carousing with Nicholas Cage.  I didn't speak to him, and he didn't seem like the nice, young man I had met at the airport.  Ah... life, it takes us down so many different path and tempts us with mysterious alleys.  I hope he can find peace.

And as we all search for meaning, here are Anne Lamott's thoughts.  We all need some perspective, peace, gratitude and compassion right now.

Friday, November 13, 2015

broken hearted

...and praying for peace, compassion and healing.  These are the only anti-terror tools that I believe can make a difference in our violent world.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Poetry Thursday ... more RUMI

Love means
to reach for the sky
and with every breath
to tear a hundred veils.
Love means
to step away from the ego,
to open the eyes
of inner vision
and not to take this world
so seriously.
~ Rumi

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans' Day

I don't believe in war.  I know that it "exists" but I don't believe there is any reason for it to exist.

This does not mean that I don't respect the men and women who bravely serve our country here and abroad.

I wish we would allow them to spend more of their time helping those in need, and sowing peace, rather than making war or any of its residuals. 

We have tremendous power and potential for good.

Today, I am going to believe in the ways we can promote peace and the millions of veterans who did just that despite having been sent to *war*

Hug a veteran and give him/her much respect; shower the world with peace today; and love someone prickly even if it hurts a little bit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tough way...

... To spend the day. Just kidding. 
Started work at 5:30a but now I am sipping wine. 

Monday, November 09, 2015

NRU mishy and mashy and terse

Such a wild collection of articles have been sitting open on my desktop ... see the headlines:

The Funny Thing about Adversity

The Strange Case of Anna Stubblefield

Spoken Word Poet Elizabeth Acevedo Issues a Challenge to Rape Culture 

Standoff in Boulder [hint -- Buddhists vs prairie dogs ... ]

something to smile about ... silver linings abound.

If you don't know Father Greg Boyle, you can start here ... and donate if you can, in any way you can...

Friday, November 06, 2015

Exhaustion and silver linings

Four days of 5:30am starts, five days straight and one more to go (thankfully not starting til 7:30am).  Three of those days marathon scoring days: 11 hours, 12 hours, and 10 hours. 

Every muscle in my arm, neck, shoulder aches. Stretching helps. The short walks and long walks help. But I shift and several areas in my spine pop. 

Saving grace and silver lining: daylight saving means watching the sunrise as I am working the first hour of my shift and glorious sunset as I walk at the end of the long shift. 

Blessings from the universe or the ability to be present? Either way I am thankful.

P/S Does this count as noticing the unpleasant and pleasant as I was supposed to be doing all week?? 

These are actually both sunset pics from Thursday. 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Poetry Thursday -- RUMI

You were born 
with potential. 
You were born 
with goodness 
and trust. 
You were born 
with ideals 
and dreams. 
You were born 
with greatness. 
You were born 
with wings. 
You are not meant 
for crawling, so don’t. 
You have wings. 
Learn to use them 
and fly.
~ Rumi

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


I don't smile easily.  I don't really know because I rarely even check myself out in the mirror, but I just know that I think to myself, smile back when someone smiles at me.

But, when I do smile, it is generally so authentic that it disarms.  I am sure the brave might admonish, you should smile more.

Smiling, for me, is just organic.  When I am touched or moved or feel close to something or someone, the smile blooms unbidden.  I have a hard time faking a smile.  

Monday, November 02, 2015

Rainy days and Mondays

Too dry to not be happy about light, steady rain... but it is shaping up to be a gloomy day.  After the endless summer, I am looking forward to the fog and chill.  I will be happy to welcome more of that wet stuff if it decides to fall some more.  Thinking about giving into the darker feelings, too.  Storm clouds have been massing behind my eyes for weeks.  Maybe it is time for the tears to flow as well.

Friday, October 30, 2015

I needed this today...

...maybe you do, too.

"... 'Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership:'
  1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
  2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
  4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
  5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
  6. The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
  7. People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
  9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
  10. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway."
This is by Kent Keith (not Mother Teresa as it is often attributed) and it is piece of a pamphlet titled: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council.

The fascinating story about how this became "by Mother Teresa" is here.  

I was sitting here feeling sad and frustrated and trying to not be overwhelmed by the sadness.  ...anyway with whispers of these commandments came to my mind, so I googled it.  

Here is the version we usually see, though it is intact:
The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Poetry Thursday, Advice from L. Erdrich

Advice to Myself
Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

Somewhere in there was supposed to be a little hummingbird, but maybe he/she flew away before I snapped these?? Do you see the bird?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

NRU education edition college for philanthropy? Sounds interesting and potentially awesome and potentially dangerous depending on who is giving the classes.

I can't even offer commentary on this piece about UC and whether or not they are spending enough on their core mission ... just read it and you decide.

Something else I am too tired to offer commentary on ... better late than never?  Or just WTF? Or please, it's just too little too late? I don't know, but here it is.  When teachers are crying in their cars or on their kitchen floors due to the pressure, and students are routinely not performing well, one has to question the value (and/or the purpose) of the standardized test.  And Florida is dealing with its own conflicting feelings about testing: superintendents hopping mad about tests used and statisticians rating Florida students as top five.  It certainly leaves me thinking that putting so much stock into standardized tests is at the very least deeply troubling.

As I am tangentially connected professionally to this topic, I can only offer this as an interesting read.

I hope this is really a good thing because too many companies have been taking advantage of the poor, marginally educated and undocumented folks when it comes to "higher" education.

On a happier note, mindfulness in schools is not only catching fire, it is also getting noticed in the media.  Except for the crazies who will sue the school for religious freedom, this is a good thing (ala Martha Stewart).

And here is what using data productively (instead of pejoratively) can do for a school.  Outstanding! This is the kind of school where I could be a happy teacher.

One more silver lining in the education edition:  East Los High, a netflix original series, is apparently not just a teeny bopper show, it is a teeny bopper educational experiment.  Now that is an interesting use of technology and education.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

sunrise, again

Sunrise has become a very special treat ... though sleepy, I am happy to catch the day beginning, the world coming back to life.
These are not from my early start yesterday -- but last week.  Yesterday the fog hugged the hills like a soft blanket, maybe fall is finally within our reach.

Monday, October 26, 2015

NRU silver linings

Here's one way to make lemonade out of lemons... share what you have even when the chips are down rather than cry over your drink. Love it!

Not really sure this qualifies for a silver lining, except that though this man died alone, the folks in this story spent a lot of time unraveling the story of his life.  In death, he was not alone, sort of.

I have a few more questionable silver linings to share ...
1) Junot Diaz stood up for Haitians against the government in the Dominican Republic, his homeland, in return the government took back an award it made to Diaz.   I daresay Diaz is more proud of losing the honor than for taking a stand.  My response is to give Diaz the good person/standing in his truth award.  Silver lining?
2) This man standing by his wife shouldn't be exceptional, but apparently because he is in the NFL it is?!  So, though I am suspicious of the notoriety, it is a silver lining(-ish) that his fame allows him the ability to shine a light on something we generally pretend is not happening.  May their strength and courage inspire other survivors to ask for help and receive it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Proverb Thursday

Whatever you have in 
your mind - forget it;
Whatever you have in 
your hand - give it;
Whatever is to be 
your fate - face it!
~ Sufi proverb

Monday, October 19, 2015

NRU mostly CA sights

I was reminded of an episode of Star Trek Next Generation when Jean Luc is transported to a planet dying of drought as I read through the news articles this week.  So, here are some of the roundup, drought watch articles: 
This may not seem like something brought about by the drought unless you realize that our overuse of energy has a lot to do with our drought.
Not sure if using disposable plates and plastic ware will really help with the drought ... perhaps the compost-able ones?
Turn your pool area into astro turf? Well, that is another "solution" folks are instituting in times of drought.
Of pumpkins (and corn mazes) and drought ... when we lose our "precious" traditions, will we still see the value of our overuse of fossil fuels or our complicity in the climate change?
Finally, making a young boy's shark week dreams come true, climate change brings feeding shark to the dock near Alcatraz?
[There was also the poisonous snake that washed up in my hometown (a lot of coverage of the snake) ... thanks to El Nino - it has brought the snakes and the mudslides but what we need is slow steady rain and some snow in the mountains, so not sure it is the lifesaver some think it will be.]

In other news, yes there were a few news stories not drought related:
This sounds like a promising way to bring humanities professors to the academy - though admittedly not a necessarily replicable or sustainable.

Who knew there were so many people speculating about Disneyland's Haunted House? The only speculation really necessary, for me, is will it be open when I visit?!  Love that place ... always on my must "ride" list. [And ... should the article have had a posted warning that it was sponsored because why else would you do this story?!]

Wish I could have been home for this ... this is the real story of Junipero Serra and the Native Americans of California ... may they all rest in peace. I am still fighting mad over the *saint* status, but it is far more important that the truth of the "missions" be told.  If you can help on the last leg of their journey between LA and San Diego there is link on this page for places to stay, meals, coordinating...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Poetry Thursday, RUMI!

I love my friends
neither with my heart
nor with my mind.
Just in case
heart might stop,
mind can forget.
I love them
with my soul.
Soul never stops
or forgets!
~ Rumi

Friday, October 09, 2015

NRU parenting edition, rant-y

I love small children.  LOVE THEM.  I find them infinitely fascinating and hi-larious.  I connect with them more often than not ... sometimes it is just through the eyes though sometimes it is talking or playing -- even with complete strangers.

I have always loved small children (I like the bigger ones, too), though I have never wanted to birth them.  I am also utterly perplexed by why so many parents of small children do not seem to know the first thing about these little creatures.

In this vein, I noted with interest and a little confusion some posts about toddlers.  While this one is hi-larious, and clearly true for many, many parents, I wondered at the post because it was so obvious.  Was it just for comedy or did this writer think it was a revelation?  I was also somewhat sad to see the way the parents respond in these "dialogues" because they frequently seem to not understand what the children are doing.

This other piece, nice but in some ways pedantic, also is perplexing.  Could it be that parents of toddlers not know what children are doing when they engage in this kind of negotiation or devolve into tantrums? 

Let it be known, I thoroughly enjoy walking through these conversations with my niece (who is four) and not so much with my nephew (who is 11).  I can see how tiresome it can become after long periods of time --  the "instructive" piece from the *child development specialist* points out the long term benefits and how adults can *forgive* themselves for getting it wrong sometimes.  The more often you are willing to be the adult (which sometimes equals the bad guy) the less often this conversation will turn into a meltdown. 

Kids *are* super skilled at pushing buttons, particularly in their parents, they are nothing if not the most able observers of the human condition.  Just ask any kid -- she or he will tell you all about the people around him/her.  If kids are watching adults meltdown in order to get their way, they have already learned that this is the easiest way to what they want.

When I saw that video about the six year old pleading for her mother and father to get along, I did not applaud her -- I felt sorry for her.  How much of this has she had to live through that she is not using it for her own gain (a kid's primary job/objective), but rather as a way to get her parents to stop warring.  Let's let kids be kids ... in all their sometimes annoying glory -- and let's be the adults who help them to learning how to deal with the world in a respectful way!

I did warn in the title it was rant-y!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Poetry Thursday, in honor of the genuises

Love after love
-Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine.  Give bread.  Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


Had another early start and was rewarded with this! 

Monday, October 05, 2015

NRU education

I was cleaning my email inbox (yes, I must have many other things to do that I am occupying my time with this), and I found a bunch of articles about education I have been apparently hording.

Here they are for your pleasure...

This is a little piece about testing, framed so that it purportedly takes on the parent perspective.

It should not surprise anyone that Jeb! is a fan of common core -- but it is somewhat surprising that he not take the party line on every little thing.  I think since this article, and Trump not going down in the polls, he is starting to sound more like a teabagger every day though.

Not really about education, in a schooling kind of way, instead this is about mothering.  In fact, it impacted me because it talks about how often we put our hearts and souls into something, like education, and even with adequate resources, time and effort, we cannot change a tragic (or stupid) outcome.  It is rare for mothers to admit this -- so I really appreciated the bravery in this piece.

I can't remember now if I shared these two already (could be) and I was just keeping them so that I could look at the transcripts ... but gonna share again, just in case I didn't before.  NPR covered a lawsuit against the school district in Compton about trauma.  I do not disagree that trauma causes students stress at school (at home, in life, etc.), but I am not sure how the school district labeling these students as disabled will help with the problems created.  My personal experience with IEPs does not lead me to believe that students will get better educations or more help in dealing with the issues.  If the problem is so great, it seems like the district might pursue healing projects, like mindful schools or peer counseling, that would benefit the entire student body.

This opening of the school year was very difficult for many districts, including Oakland, because of teacher shortages.  It is super interesting to me given the anti-teacher climate in the media.

Friday, October 02, 2015

NRU mishy and mashy

It is heard to know what to think or how to feel about this piece on a young woman with cancer who decides to have her brain preserved through cryogenics.  On the one hand, everyone needs to deal with death in their own way, and if they have the means to do this, who are we to say no?  On the other hand, money trumps everything?!  So, if young people stricken by brain cancer can get enough money together, they can attempt to stave off death?  But young people in the same condition who want to hasten their deaths, do not have that right?  At least the legislature in California finally got it together to send a bill to the governor - we'll see what he does with it.  I don't think citizens have a right to opine on the life decisions of other citizens -- but it seems that laws should not either.  I may or may not disagree with either of these young women, but ultimately it should be each individual's choice what to do with his/her life.

I am not trying to say that clowning or playing music for small children is in my immediate future, but I was inspired and impressed with Robert Markowitz's story finding joy and how what we do for a living is connected to that.

Volunteered at the food bank recently and discovered just how far we have come in getting fresh food into the hands and homes of people in need. It was wonderful to be a part of the endeavor.  Looking forward to this event to find reasonably priced, easy to produce food to be sold at "bodega" like stores in neighborhoods with limited healthy food options.  I love the whole idea - and can't wait to taste the chefs' creations!

An unlikely art collector discusses his obsession with art, in general, and how he came to Chicano art and the group CACA -- better than an ironic mustache, I promise.

I cannot believe I have to write about this *again* [and the irritated tone of voice my president used to describe his grief, anger and frustration sums it up pretty well].  I have a tremendous amount of respect for Sheriff Hanlin for denying glory to the coward who took innocent lives rather than get help, figure out his shit or just shut up and go home:
Sheriff Hanlin said at a news conference that he would not speak the gunman’s name.
“Let me be very clear, I will not name the shooter,” he said. “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act.”
 He also encouraged reporters “not to glorify and create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves it.”

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Poetry Thursday (repeat, I think)

i carry your heart with me 
(i carry it in my heart) 
i am never without it 
(anywhere i go you go, my dear; 
and whatever is done by only me 
is your doing, my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) 
i want no world
(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; 
which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
“[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” Copyright 1952, © 1980, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust, from Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.
Source: Poetry (June 1952).