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.

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.

Hot Pink Toenails


Since this is National Poetry Month, I have decided to post a few of my poems from my book “On the Rim of Wonder” which can be found on Amazon. This particular poem has been one of the more popular poems.

The day I met Tom

my toenails were pink.

A big mistake!

He called me the lady with the hot

pink toenails.

I am not a hot

pink person.

They should have been red

or orange.

I am orange person–

mixed with lot of red.

It took me two weeks

of looking at those hot

pink toe nails

to paint them red.

Am I happier now?

Not really

but I know

it is the real me,

my own toes when I

look down.

When she painted them pink

the woman said,

“Old ladies want red toenails.”

Will I be able to look

at my toenails and not

think “old lady”?

Will I have to find

a new color?

Probably.

Maybe orange marmalade or cinnamon spice or burnt sienna.

The Boy From Honduras


My current writing endeavor is part of a challenge to write 20 minutes per day six days a week. The story I am going to relate now was written as part of that project. The brief introduction here was part of something I wrote the day before I wrote about the boy.

I watched “60 Minutes” on Sunday about German Jewish Americans who volunteered to go behind enemy lines before and after the end of WWII to either spy on or interrogate Nazis, often officers of higher rank. One of them related that he never met a Nazi who had any remorse for atrocities he had committed, who thought what they had done was wrong. How horrifying, to hate anyone, any group so much over religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, status, remains to a great degree beyond my comprehension. Although I may view people like the Nazis as my moral enemies, to hate anyone so much as to torture and murder them seems incomprehensible.

These views also affect my attitude toward immigration. People rarely leave their countries because they want to, they leave because they need or have to in order to survive. Often it is a matter of life or death. Now I will tell you about the boy from Honduras.

Short, straight black hair, obsidian eyes, skin the color of café con leche, he showed up at high school one day absent any knowledge of the English language. His brother, married to a US citizen, lived across the street from the high school secretary. The assistant principal brought him to me. By Texas state law he had to spend at least one period of the day with a certified ESL teacher, me. He came often even from his other classes because everything except Spanish class was in English. Written Spanish helped him only somewhat. In Honduras poor country students only attended school for a few years. The more advanced middle and high schools were in cities and required fees paid.

The counselor claimed he had not been to school at all. I knew better; he knew things that a kid only learns if he or she has gone to school. When I did not understand his Spanish, I asked him to write it down. It took me a while to figure out some of his written Spanish. He sounded it out and so instead of writing habla (h is silent in Spanish), he would write abla. When I really could not understand, I went to the Spanish teachers from Mexico; they could not always understand him either. One, who had travelled all over Mexico, said he spoke a dialect she had never heard. Over time, I learned he had started school at six, attended for four years, then went to work on a coffee plantation. He was 15 when I met him. After I showed him a photo of me picking coffee in Costa Rica, he became very excited.

His father had been murdered; his mother feared for his life so she sent him to his brother in the US. He was cheery, always smiling, played soccer at lunch with the other students, missed home. He told me his family was working with an immigration lawyer so occasionally he traveled to Dallas to meet the lawyer. Then one day he disappeared. We never saw him again. Later one of the Spanish teachers told me he had come, smuggled in a shipping container, had survived this for days. And now he was gone.

Students asked about him; we had no answers. Some who had ranted about illegal immigrants stopped ranting. It was someone they knew, liked, who had left with no answers. He was a kind, funny kid whom everyone liked. Is he in hiding? Is he safe? Is he alive? Who knows?

Christmas Thoughts


While many around the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus today, it seems worthwhile to recall some of the things he taught:

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

I keep thinking how much better this world would be if people would follow these teachings, care for others. be kind.

Note: painting is by Israel Guajardo.

Reflections–Old Year, New Year


Most 2020 goodbyes ring with epithets on the horrors of 2020. I object. 2020 brought bad, yes, mainly due to Covid 19’s effects on the lives of masses. It also enlightened us:

-staying home makes cleaner air.

-staying home increases home gardening and thus healthier eating.

-staying home leads to a slower, more thoughtful life, to extra time with family.

-staying home reconnects us with ourselves.

2020 lead to positives that have nothing to do with Covid 19:

-increased awareness and concern for the lives of others different from ourselves.

-increased awareness that discrimination and brutality among our police exists and we need to fix it.

-increased awareness of the ever growing income gaps in our society.

Covid 19 did bring:

-an increased awareness of the impacts of any pandemic and that we must prepare ourselves because there will be more.

-an increased appreciation of essential workers and their roles in our everyday lives.

-an increased appreciation for nurses and doctors and other health care workers.

Spring will come,

flowers will bloom,

birds will sing.

Yesterday, I heard Bishop Michael Curry speak on national news. I will close with one sentence which remains with me:

“Love is a commitment to the Common Good.”

The Churches of Lalibela


Last night part of 60 Minutes featured these churches.  Several years ago I went with friends from Ethiopia to see them.  We spent almost an entire day hiking through around and up and down all eleven of them. I decided to travel back a few years and relive my experiences there and share it here.

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800 years ago these churches were carved from the top down out of solid stone. They dug a trench deep all around what is now each church and then worked from there.  Everything is stone, including the interior columns and spaces.

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There are areas around all the churches and drainage canals so they do not flood in the rainy season.

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The inside of each church is decorated with carvings, frescoes, and wall hangings.

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Because 800 years of wear and tear and especially rain was beginning to take its toll, they covered them several years ago.  Now, according the the architect on 60 Minutes, they are experiencing the opposite problem.  The stone is getting too dry and contracting. They are teaching local people how to preserve the stone so it will last hundreds more years.

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Dino, my Ethiopia friend, and the guide, in white.

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Why the ridiculous looking socks?  Fleas are a problem.  Many of the churches have old carpet on the floors, thousands of people still workshop in them regularly.  We were told to spray our ankles, tuck our pants inside out socks, spray our socks. It worked.

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And here is probably the most photographed of them from up above. Yes, you do get to climb all the way down there if you want to go inside.  We did. The story goes that the king went to Jerusalem and wanted to create an Ethiopian Jerusalem.  There is a river nearby which they call the River Jordan. As you tour, they explain every detail and how they match passages and stories from the Biblical Jerusalem.  How did they build all of these out of solid stone?  With the help of angels.

 

 

 

 

The White Supremacist History of Tear Gas


One hundred years ago, a racist US General, Amos Fries, transformed tear gas from a wartime chemical into use against protestors. He loved war gases and saw them as the ultimate in US technology.  He advocated the use of tear gas against any form of civil disorder.  As head of US Chemical Warfare Services, he pedaled his favorite gas to private security firms, police departments, and the National Guard.  According to him, tear gas in the hands of the “White man can quell any uprising.”  He went on to talk about how White men are set apart from the Negro, Gurkha, and the Moroccan. In his effects were letters from the women of the Ku Klux Klan praising his efforts.

Today the tear gas he loved is used all over the world by tyrannical governments to control their people.