The Murals at Mendez High School


Every Wednesday I visit Mendez High School in Boyle Heights near downtown LA. I volunteer as a college counselor for College Match LA. The school is named after the couple who, in 1946, sued for equal education for Mexican children and won.

This is the couple and the school mascot is the jaguar.

This explains the ruling that gave Mexican children equal educational rights.

View of downtown from in front of the College Center area where students go to get help with college applications, learn from presentations by admissions officers from different colleges, and work on college and financial aid applications.

Thanks to the two guys sitting here chatting for giving me permission to take this photo.

When I asked who did the murals, I was told that students did them in conjunction with an art class several years ago.

Easy Vegan Dishes for Summer


It is too hot to do a lot of cooking in many parts of the US these days. Salads are a good alternative. However, if you get tired of just salads, here are two easy vegan dishes to enjoy that require little cooking time. If you are not vegan or vegetarian, you can add some cubed meat as you are sautéing the veggies.

Sauté coarsely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil. I have not specified amounts because amounts can be adjusted to your taste. Coarsely chop 1/2 medium sized beet and add to the onion and garlic. Cook this mixture until tender. Add 1/2 seeded and coarsely chopped red bell pepper. Add 2 Tablespoons of Thai red curry paste and mix well. Finally, add 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Thai basil and 2 cups arugula. Sauté until wilted stirring constantly. Serve over rice.

Sauté 1/3 coarsely chopped medium sized sweet onion, six small carrots cut into coins, and 5 coarsely chopped garlic cloves in olive oil. When nearly tender add five sliced mushrooms. When these are tender, add 1/3 coarsely chopped red bell pepper and sauté until tender. Finally, add 2 cups arugula and stir until the arugula is wilted. For spices add basil essential oil or World Market Greek Mediterranean Seasoning Blend. Serve over pasta of your choice. If you like cheese, grate fresh parmesan or asiago, my favorite, over the top.

Note: these recipes can be adapted by using your favorite vegetables, e.g. spinach in place of arugula.

Road Trip Up Mt. Baldy


At 10,065 feet Mt. Baldy rises above the San Gabriel Valley, home to nearly 1.5 million of which I am one. The highest mountain in Los Angeles County, every day she looms in the distance quite visible from my front yard. For months last winter, she remained snow capped, sometimes with snow half way down the mountain.

People seemed shocked when they discovered I had not yet driven up the mountain. Yesterday, as I was driving up Monte Vista, I decided it’s time and continued past Baseline where Monte Vista becomes Padua. At the traffic light, I turned right onto Mount Baldy Road. Up I went. You know it’s going to get steep when signs telling slow traffic to turn off ahead show up regularly.

I pulled off about half way up and took these two photos.

A bit farther up, signs appear saying they will tow your car if parked in the way of snow plows. It is about the same time that super sharp switchbacks start. I have driven all over the mountain West and this road has some of the most extreme switchbacks I’ve ever experienced. I kept thinking, “This would not be much fun in the snow.” Keep going and the road ends at a parking lot of the ski resort so they must do a good job keeping the road clear in winter. I stopped off and on to take photos. Up this high there are ponderosa pines and fir trees.

A lot of trees like the one on the left grow everywhere. Not sure what kind of evergreen they are.

I drove as far as cars can go, to the ski resort parking lot, adjacent to the ski lift which goes to a restaurant farther up the mountain. I’ll try that another day.

After all this driving, I decided to stop at a restaurant by the side of the road in Mt. Baldy Village. I wanted to eat on the patio but no eating outside yesterday–yellow jackets.

Near where I parked, I took a few photos of the community church and the village.

Puma–2


Years ago while visiting Albuquerque or Santa Fe, I acquired a Zuni puma fetish. It is the only fetish I own. I bought it because it is a puma, the Directional Guardian and prey god of the North, representing independence, personal power, intensity, and loyalty, carried by travelers to protect their journey. It resides on a dresser in my bedroom, watching over me, protecting my life journey.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my puma obsession extends to researching them and writing poems about them. The following poem was originally published in my book, “On the Rim of Wonder”.

My neighbor walked out her door

found a puma lying on the lawn.

Puma rose, stretched, disappeared.

At night when I open my gate

I wonder if she lurks

behind the cedar trees,

Pounce ready.

A Zuni puma fetish guards my sleep.

I run with puma

Night wild

Free.

I scream and howl

Moonstruck

Bloodborn.

I hike the canyon

stroll around my house

look for puma tracks.

I see none.

I would rather die by puma

than in a car wreck.

Pumas — 1


Some people possess obsessions. For me only one really exists–pumas. I kept hoping I might see one when I lived at the edge of a canyon in the Panhandle of Texas even though I knew where I lived was probably too populated. Now, living in LA Country, I realize pumas can be anywhere. Have not seen one yet, but I keep hoping. I’ve considered driving 1/2 hour up into the Los Angeles National Forest to hike and hope. Since one of my walking partners refused to go any farther when the sign said “Watch for Bears”, I would have to take the hike alone. The bear sign did not deter me, but she could not go home since I drove so I went back to the car with her. People see bears in town all the time, but rarely pumas or if they are around, they hide. My puma obsession includes dreaming about them and writing poetry where they star. Here is one of the puma poems I wrote while I still lived in Texas.

I watch for eyes, blue changing to amber and back.

I put my palm, fingers stretched to measure, into the footprint.

Too small, bobcat

No puma.

My thin body squeezes between the rocks,

climbing quietly down the cliff.

Watching, listening, searching.

No puma,

Pale amber rushes across my vision line.

My hearth quakes.

I watch; I wait.

It is Isabella, a golden whir chasing rabbits.

No puma.

At sunrise, I walk the rim,

watching.

At sunset, I walk the rim,

waiting.

At night, I walk the rim,

dreaming.

No puma; not yet.

I’ve had this photo, taken by a famous wildlife photographer, for at least a decade. She, yes, it is a she, watches over me daily. In my bedroom is a puma Zuni fetish and a painting. I have a couple of others here and there in addition to books about pumas. Someday before I die, hopefully.

Another Day at The Huntington


Decades ago three of us attended the same two room elementary school, Clay Center, located at the corner of the intersection of two gravel, country roads, surrounded by rolling farmland in Northwest Missouri.

On Wednesday morning, we strolled though part of The Huntington Gardens and one of the art galleries there.

Ramona, the youngest one of us, is visiting her brother, Craig, who lives in Palm Springs. She loves succulents so we headed to that part of the gardens first.

Ramona and my daughter strolling along one of the wider pathways.

I have been here at least six times in the last six months. I see something new and fascinating every time.

After the succulent and cactus area, we headed to one of the art galleries. When I was here before Blue Boy was on loan. Yes, this is the genuine Blue Boy. Craig was so excited to see him and loved this gallery, all of it.
Ramona wanted to see the Chinese Gardens so we passed by this portion of the Japanese Gardens on the way.
A little water fall.

A tiny bit of the Chinese Garden.

The lake in the Chinese Garden was full of water lillies in bloom. Most were flat on the water but not these.
The three of us together for the first time in decades.

Kale with Cannelloni Beans


1/2 medium sized sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded, cut in half lengthwise and cut in 1/2 inch pieces

2-3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1/4 large, red, bell pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped

3 cups lacinato kale–see directions below

1 cup cannelloni beans

Olive oil

Spices–for this recipe I used World Market Mediterranean Greek

Before measuring the kale, cut out the central stem, discard, and finely chop the remainder of the leaves. Sauté the onion and garlic in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan or skillet until the onion is translucent. Add jalapeño and red bell pepper. Cook until tender but the color is still bright. Sprinkle spices over this mixture and stir–amount of spices to suit your taste. Add kale. Stir and cook until the kale it totally wilted. Add cannoli beans and serve over rice.

Note: Other spices I use include basil, thyme, and fennel essential oils. Be careful when using essential oils to cook. A little goes a long way.

Reception for the New Exhibit at The Getty


Monday evening I attended a private reception at The Getty for photographs taken by teens to reflect their reactions to the pandemic and the shut downs. This first photo explains the exhibit.

I was able to attend because Faith Mowoe invited me. She is my daughter’s cousin and teaches English at a high school here in California. Usually The Getty is closed on Monday. We arrived early hoping to be able to walk around a bit, but they did not allow anyone to enter until 5:30 so we strolled around the gardens near the parking lot. You cannot drive up to The Getty. You have to park in the parking area which costs 20 dollars and take a shuttle to The Getty which is otherwise free.

This and the next few photos were taken at the gardens near the parking lot.

The Getty sets on a hill overlooking portions of LA in all directions. The red on top of the mushroom like pillars in the this photo is bougainvillea.

The amount of stone in the buildings is huge. The Getty comprises several different buildings including several filled with art, others for research, and a theatre.

This photos shows one of the teen photographers. This one is from Ohio. The following photos illustrate the teens who were chosen out of the more than 1600 entries.

We briefly met the young lady in this photo. Many of the students who took the photos were present and honored by the sponsors of the exhibit.

After eating–the reception provided all sorts of delicious treats, wine, beer, water, and various others drinks–we strolled into the gardens.

Posters have been made from the teen photographs and will be available for purchase.

The Getty is astonishing. I was able to see only a tiny portion of it. Definitely a place to see if you come to Los Angeles.

Road Trip to Palm Springs


Life brought me to the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California late last summer. A few months later, my childhood friend from elementary school in the farmlands of Northwestern Missouri moved back to Palm Springs. Today I drove out to the desert to see him, Craig Prater. I arrived a little early so drove around, took a walk downtown, and took some photos. We were so intent on catching up and visiting, I forgot to take a photo of Craig and me together. Here are photos I took as I walked and drove around.

Palm Springs shopping area.

Desert mountains surround Palm Springs. It is hot compared to where I live. When I returned to my car after lunch, the thermometer said 121. It really was not quite that hot, only 103. 1.25 hours later when I arrived back home, it was 87 at my house.

I took this to include parts of the palo verde tree and the mountains. Palm trees are everywhere as you can see from the photos.

This is one of the largest palo verde trees I have ever seen. I want one for my backyard. You see them everywhere in the desert. Now that LA County has water restrictions, it would seem to be a good choice.

Palm Springs is Mid-Century Modern architecture country. This photo and the following photos are some examples of the types of houses I saw as I drove around.

While some houses still have grass, the trend is desert landscaping to save water.

There is a house behind all this desert vegetation.

One Million Dead–We Must Remember


I see you, the dead, the too often forgotten,

you who lost your lives to Covid,

1,000,000 gone.

This is like wiping out the entire population of

Columbus, Ohio,

wiping out all the people who live in

Montana.

More of you died than live in the entire

states of

Wyoming or

North Dakota or

South Dakota or

Alaska.

This is like wiping out 1/2 the people in

New Mexico.

Lest you who read this forget,

pretend all are dead in Columbus,

no one is left in Montana.

All dead.

Envision the magnitude of

our loss.


Grieve for them, their friends,

their families.

Do Not Forget.

I post these flowers in remembrance.