Friday, June 24, 2016

Oh, what a memorable birthday day; no- weekend; no - week

I turned 64 this past Saturday.  Thanks to so many I had a chance to celebrate this fact for almost a week.

Last Wednesday I gave myself permission and enjoyed a day at the beach with friend Kathee.

James had oral surgery a while ago and was going to have stitches removed on Friday, so I requested that my birthday dinner take place on Thursday.  We arrived at Bacchus Kitchen and I was happily surprised to see that James had also contacted our friends, Sandra and Luis, and they surprised me by being at the dinner!  Grand times whenever we're together.

Friday James had the surgery and then went to work.  I was home and spent the morning cleaning our dining room and living room floors.  I'll grant you not what I generally think of as a "fun thing to do", but I wanted to clean them.  So I did.  We had plans for the evening but James needed a bit of recovery time, so we stayed home.

Friday I also shared with my fiends on Facebook that I was looking for ideas of 64 things to do in my 64th year.  More on that at the end of this post.

Saturday was filled with atypical birthday joy.  Over the years we have done a lot of painting of the house.  We've also developed all sorts of no longer used electronics.  That day, my birthday, the City of Pasadena was having a Toxic Waste Round Up.  Zoom.  We were happy participants.  Thanks to the staff that was working in the crazy heat.   Then we went around and used the coupons that were sent to us electronically celebrating my b'day and Father's Day.   Okay, so maybe not everyone gets thrilled by getting a deal, but I do.

Sunday was breakfast with son and future-daughter and her rather extended family.  Impromptu Potluck Breakfast.  Never done that before, but I think I see more of them in my future.

I tell you; what a week.

Now the list.  Quite the list.  There are at least two thing on this list that will not be transferred to the final list.  All others; just might be.  Love my friends.

  • Have some ice cream & some cake!
  • Celebrate like you want and like no one is watching. 
  • Go to the Walt Disney Hall more often!
  • let's celebrate when I get home
  • Ask someone to drive you. Make a spontaneous trip, decide on where to go once you are inside the car. Go for the day, enjoy the simple surprises on the way, and enjoy your birthday day.
  • Go to Vegas and see the Beatles LOVE. It is wonderful and it will take you back to Strawberry Fields .
  • o for a bike ride
  • Give a talk on a topic or author or historical figure that is new to you
  • A tour of Mt. Wilson? Or get up early and go to the bighorn sheep area and catch a sighting
  • Read a classic you've always meant to read but haven't (Moby Dick? Walden? Seven Pillars of Wisdom? Goodbye to All That? tons of choices!)
  • Fabulous! I am planning 6 adventures when I am 66!
  • Let's do some gigs. We can finally, maybe do those Sephardic songs.
  • How about Cal tech folk dancing? I have been interested but would like a buddy to go
  • Let's have lunch at Yahaira's!
  • erhaps sending 64 thank you letters to 64 people who helped you, taught you or created wonderful memories.
  • Plan a weekend in Valle De Guadalupe, Baja California, Ruta Del Vino for great wine and food.
  • Obviously you need to rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight (if it's not too dear)
  • Hand gliding, riding bikes, roller coaster rides, parasailing bucket list?
  • Compose and record a song.
  • Run/walk a marathon!!!
  • Browse through Poo Bah Records at a nice, slow pace.
  • Write a song with 64 words.
  • Dance class! Salsa or samba or ballroom or tap or modern or anything you want!
  • A massage
  • Break a piñata!
  • Ask your family to get 64 individually wrapped gifts for you and celebrate with you as you unwrap each one.
  • Visit all 64 states!
  • Learn to Tango, there is a good dance instructor in Pasasena
  • Go dancing with friends! That's the best therapy!
  • Cross country trip driving!
  • Group sex
  • Appreciate what you have accomplished and value family, friends, and, especially, yourself.
  • the California Science Center and viewing the 3D movie "A Beautiful Planet."
  • Join your local library and help a person to learn how to read. The joy you will get is beyond description. Besos.
  • 50 good deeds in a month- from writings letters for Amnesty International, to giving to the homeless, to helping a weaker person lift something heavy.
  • We could put a few dollars together and hire you a stripper.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Good Days, Busy Days, Lovely Days, Funny Days

I usually write about my vacations after they've take place rather than while they are happening for a couple of reasons.  The first being I'm often in some out of the way place where I can't count on wi fi.  The second, well, I'm on vacation and I'm doing or not doing stuff.  The third, well, I don't want to share that my home is alone.

This past vacation was a whirlwind.  Immediately following our very successful PCC PLAC/ALE Scholarship Dinner, it was time to get the house ready for Kate and the girls.   I started, really I did, but my sciatica reminded me that I needed to rest more than clean.  I'm happy that I listened.

Because of that we ignored our dirty house and enjoyed time with our familia.

Saturday, April 23 
Went to a reading/workshop at All Saints.  Embrace the Chaos - with Ozomatli and some of my favorite actors.

It's been great to see Ozomatli grow from the group that brought what felt like unbounded energy to the Fiestas Patrias in the Playhouse District in the late 90's to having a show using their music to tell a bit of their story.

The girls arrived, went to our Compadres home and went for a swim.

Sunday, April 24 
Another Comadre stopped by and we had a grand time just hanging out.  Dinner - El Portal.

Monday, April 25
So much fun.  We told the girls we were going on an Adventure and were able to get all the way to Disneyland parking structure before they figured out what we were doing.  I suspect there's picture of us somewhere but it wasn't on my phone.

Tuesday, April 26
We Willie Nelson'd it.  Kate, the girls, and I drove from Pasadena to Portland.  Stayed in Dunsmuir in the Raliroad Resort Park.  We slept in Caboose #1.  

Wednesday, April 27
Still a long haul from Dunsmuir, CA to Portland, OR.  So we began the day at the Hi Lo Cafe in Weed and had dinner in Portland.

Thursday, April 28
Girls to school, Kate to work = time to shop for winter clothes at the Goodwill Stores in RIP City.  
School then Aerial Class for Cheli.  James boards a train to meet us in Portland.


Friday, April 29
Regular school day.  Followed by James' arrival in Bridgetown.  
The evening was special - off with Lili to see the world premiere of "Into the Beautiful North" at the Milagro Theater.  Play adapted by Karen Zacarias, based on the novel by Luis Alberto Urrea.  Didn't meet Ms. Zacarias, but I was able to introduce Lili to the author.  

It seems that there is going to be some really interesting news about "Into the Beautiful North"  - soon.  

Saturday, April 30

Thank goodness for Multiple Cars and Adults Day. 

 In the midst of the craziness we covered, two separate soccer games, Saturday Market, fence replacing, and dinner.   

Cheli and I went to theater and saw "Snow White" as interpreted by the Northwest Children's Theatre.  Quite the combo of the non-Disney version, but with Disney styled tunes and produced with an anime sensibility.  Grilled hot dogs for dinner.

Sunday, May 1

Heavenly donuts before James and I began our heavenly journey down the Oregon Coast.

Monday, May2
Easy drive inland.  What a joy it is to see Mt. Shasta with snow!  

Tuesday, May 3
LONG, LONG, long, long drive home.
So good to be greeted by the roses.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sí, Se Puede 2016

Theoretically there are four seasons.  In Southern California there are those who argue that there are fewer.  Don't know and don't much feel like arguing today.  I do know that there three major sorts of seasons in my life.  They are the Seasons of Nature, the Seasons of Work, and the Seasons of Volunteering.

Since 2001 I have joined others who remembered the life and the work of Cesar Chavez.  Initially the remembrance took place at Pasadena City Hall; lead organizers were Latino Heritage, Pasadena Latino Forum, and the Pasadea Latino Employees Association.  As happens with other events, it changed, it evolved and at one point included active participation by the City, by El Centro de Accion Social, and other groups.

For the past decade or so there has been the Art and Essay Contest.  It is now is organized by PUSD.  The contest has evolved and now includes the co-founder of the United Farm Workers - Dolores Huerta.

The artwork and essays are always wonderfully varied.  The staff led by Carmen Serrano, Elementary English Learner Coordinator in the district's Language Assessment and Development Department,  put together a clear matrix with a well defined rubric. Part of the discussion among the judges last week was does the image stand alone.  Is there enough in the image to help the viewer understand the context?  To what degree has the student mastered the technique they are working with in their art or their essay?  There were specific questions that were asked of the students.  How well the questions were answered was part of judging criteria.  As a judge it is hard for me to look at work and keep a rubrics distance from my responses.

I doubt if the image above would win on artistic merit alone.  And there is no reference to Aguila Azteca, or grapes, or workers in the field, or getting an education.  The sorts of things that would help raise the score with the rubric that was used.

For me this image is a winner.  There is something about their smiles and the way they look at each other that seems to express a good bit of pride.  I see two people who are sharing a moment of success.  "We did it".  "It can be done".  

That is a good lesson for any child to learn.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Welcome Spring and Happy Anniversary

There are the anniversaries you plan on and those that happen.  Every year James and I celebrate our anniversary.  On occasion we do it up with a party; last year was our 35th and we had a grand time.  Our son is engaged to be married; we'll have a big party when that happens and then we look forward to at least recognizing the date that will be special for them.

The City of Pasadena has gotten into the habit of celebrating its beginning.  Typically the celebration takes place on a warm, clear day in June.  The city was incorporated on June 19, 1886.

These are the sorts of dates one sets up or commemorates with joy or at least a bit of a happy feeling.

There are also the dates that have great meaning to vast numbers of people.  One might not remember the exact year, but few people in the United States don't have instant associations that happen with 9/11.

Each of us has our own dates that might be remembered by our nearest and our dearest; even they might not remember if they didn't calendar them.

On a very personal note, yesterday was a huge anniversary for me for it was a year ago that I fell and broke my wrist.  The radical hysterectomy I had had six months earlier was somewhat easier.  In some ways.

At the time of surgery I was almost 63 and had no great need for what was to be removed.  Well past menopause it was an organ that was what I came into this life with, but that had in many ways become a bit redundant; like an appendix.  The surgery was robotically assisted so I felt discomfort and was somewhat limited, but I needed no chemo, radiation, or therapy.

By contrast the surgery on my wrist was truly life altering.  Nothing quite like having to have someone help you get bathed, get dressed, or take you places.  I was quite lucky.  I am married to someone who made sure my needs were met.  I was also lucky to have medical coverage so that I could have the surgery, the follow up visits with the orthopedic surgeon, and several months of occupational therapy.

Very grateful to all the friends who gave me rides or helped with errands.  It made a world of difference to me and I'm sure helped me heal that much faster.

To be a bit graphic - skip this if you are a mite squeamish -

the incision was about two inches long.  Layers of skin and flesh were incised, muscles and tendons were moved about, and then the plates and pins were added to my being.  For a few days following the surgery endocet was my friend.

For weeks after surgery I couldn't hold a paper without my hand shaking.  My arm that had been taken apart, and then reconstituted, had to become strong again.

As I shared last year, the upside was that I became an expert in binge watching.  The downside, well, believe it or not, writing does take up energy and when you are busy healing, it is far too easy to overcommit.  There was no way that I could write with any sort of consistency.

All of this to share that yesterday was the anniversary of my fall.  Later this week will be the anniversary of my surgery.

If I am lucky, in time, the date of the fall and surgery will become something I need to double check on the calendar.  I'll be more likely to remember that it's spring rather then the anniversary of a fall.

Herbert Siguenza, is an accomplished artist in many fields.  When he learned about my break he sent me this sketch.  I often looked at it while I was working at being quasi-ambidextrous and while I was gaining strength in my hand.
Herbert Siguenza - 2015

I look forward to writing lots more this year and in years to come.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sid Gally, Presente

I lost a friend this past Friday.

Sid Gally was one of  those folks who almost instantly made you feel special.  I don't remember the first time we met, but I bet he did.  His gift of remembering sometimes took my breath away.  He might stop for a moment, clearly working at recollecting the memory, and then solidly share the facts with you.  Had he been a gymnast folks would imagined him "nailing" the landing.

He knew Pasadena history partially because he was a Pasadenan through and through.  He also had knowledge built on research.  Sid was my go to scholar for things Pasadena and Catalina Island.  I came to think of Sid as sort of being history incarnate; he lived here for nearly a century.

I got to know Sid as a part of the crew that regularly volunteered in the archives at the Pasadena Museum of History.  He, and the others, welcomed me; not as the new kid on the block - which I was - but rather as a colleague and peer.  I was another person who loved history and knew that keeping history is a bit like tending a garden.  You need be mindful of what is kept and what is weeded.  Sometimes you also have to trim back some of the well established plants so that the sunshine will be able to reach the smaller plants.  With history focusing on the less-known doesn't take way from the well-known.  They got this and they would share research with me that they thought would help with my work.

Sid became a regular columnist for the Pasadena Star News after he was 80.  His columns were easy to read; facts presented clearly and in a concise manner.  Technically his writing was an avocation, but that was only because he wasn't paid, not because of his approach to his work.

A couple of his closer friends shared that even in his last weeks, when he was strong enough, he would have his electronic tools at his bedside.  His iPad was never far removed from him as he would research a story he was planning to write.

Sid knew that I often was researching topics that related to the Latino community.  He would share stories with me that he felt would contribute to my work.  The segregation that has been a part of Pasadena history is an uncomfortable thing for most of us.  I know it was for Sid, but he shared the painful stories of division as well as the pleasant stories because they are a part of our shared history.

I think Sid knew his time with us was becoming short.  In his last year he mentioned the story of his great grandmother several times.  She had come to Duarte from Texas and had kept a diary.  He mentioned it because he valued the meaning of her experience.  I think that in his humility he had waited to share a bit of his own history.  It is so much like Sid to share another's story rather than his own as one of his final columns.

Sid was pretty darn special.  I will miss his smile and laugh - such a warm thing, that.  Sid had a welcoming heart.  I am thankful that I was one of many who enjoyed his collegial and warm friendship.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February is Full and is Following a January That was Jamming

I have continued to work on decluttering my closets and files. Came to an agreement with myself that I would not continue to show before and after photos.  Partially because I begin to work at the decluttering and partially because I am usually about halfway through the task before I realize that taking a photo would be a fun thing to do.

The past few weeks have also been focused on events that will be taking place within our family and events that are directly connected with my work.

Regarding the former I've been all Mother-of-the-Groom-ing. Beginning to work with son and his fiancee as they get closer to the Big Day.  Lots more to share at some point on this.  Enough to share now that this is a role that I'm enjoying and that warms my heart.  In addition to keeping an eye out for Junior Bridesmaid dress possibilities, burlap and ivory lace, there was also the hunt for a wedding venue.   The explore has been part location scout, part almanac reader, and part reminding myself that the lead is not mine to take.  Yes, the last is the most difficult for me.  But, in a good way.

The past 3 weeks have been filled with sharing history.  The end of January I shared local history with 5 different classes at John Muir High School.  The classes were all eleventh graders and were attentive.  They asked good questions.   Their majors were varied; Business, Engineering, and some in the AEM Academy.   One of the fun challenges for me is revamping the presentation a bit to better serve each audience.  The pedagogical idea of the Teachable Moment is quite simply responding to the twinkle in a student's eye as you share the lesson and then you figure out ways to use that enthusiasm as a sort of portal.  Not exactly time travel, but certainly mind travel.

Much of the rest of the time has been spent preparing for a couple of talks that I'll be giving in the next six weeks.  

The first takes place this coming Friday, February 19th.  
Eileen Galindo is one of those folks who has a lot of commas in their job descriptions.  If you look at here site you'll see links to her work: on the screen, as a voice actor, in animation, and as a voice over coach.  I'm guessing that she could also add production to the list.  She is coordinating a series of informal salons where folks are sharing storytelling in an intimate setting.  She has invited me participate and I invite you to join us. 

You are cordially invited to the 
True Stories from the Family Tree
"Love Makes A Family: Born and Chosen" 

  I'll be sharing a bit about my own family - especially those Chosen.  We have a couple of generations of folks who have been adopted into our family.  I'll be sharing how we came to adopt our son and the story of my Uncle Henry who died in Germany in WWII.

The next presentation I'll be making will take place February 25th at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library.  

I had the pleasure of working with historian and writer Mary Ann Montañez on a exhibit that was at the Altadena Library this past fall.   It is a joy to work others who love history and who are generous in sharing their work with others.

Mary Ann wrote an introduction to the exhibit that included that they "are a part of our history (and) lived under the flags of Los Estados Unidos de México, the Bear Flag Revolt, and the United States of America... From 1820 to 1920, they lived on Ranchos, homesteading claims, ranches, and in the cities of the foothills". 
Who were these people?  Well, come to the talk and you'll get some answers.
This is a free event.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

72 days ago

Time, time, time.  So much has been happening that I haven't had time to write.   There is the whole Idea of living in the moment.  Well, that's what life has been about for me.

It's also been about continuing to more deeply clean the house.  I've now reached a point where I've begun to clean out - imagine spooky music - the closets.

That's a part of the reason I haven't written.

Another part is this thing called "trigger finger".  Long story short - the tendon(s) of a finger become inflamed and then it/they has trouble going through a sheath that generally keeps the tendon in place.  Complex things our bodies.  It seems no one quite knows exactly why the inflammation takes place.  Genetics, repetitive use, stress, and age seem to be common factors.

Anywho, the thumbs gets sort of stuck and then bloop  - it's back in position.  Not a lot of pain, but there was a total loss of midrange control.  Makes it really hard to type.

I tried a couple of home remedies while I waited to get to Occupational Therapy.  

The picture below was supposed to be of my wacky hair displaying its own sense of fashion, but as I look at the image I note mostly the band-aid on the finger cut by my new knife and the flexi-bandage I was using.  

It's not really painful nor debilitating, but it does slow one down.  Well, it slowed me down.  Enough so that most years before Christmas look like this - 

By contrast this was what this holiday season was a hearty mix of passive entertainment - as far as my thumb was concerned.

On the other didn't slow down the partying

or taking time with Las Nietas

or putting up the Christmas tree for Larry

who was rather blasé about the whole thing.

He didn't care about any research done regarding trigger finger, I guess he prefers novels.

And now after visiting the OT I have new fashion statements to wear that assist me 
in my tippy typing.  
Turns out keeping one of the two joints still, allows use without triggering the joint bloop.

Happy New Year!