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.”

Wandering the World–Recent Road Trip


My family and I took a quick road trip to California and back over the Thanksgiving break. Why now in the time of Covid? Grandson is applying to colleges in CA and needed to see what he could. We did stay in hotels, picked them carefully, did not use any services–most are currently not available anyway. You put used towels, etc. in the hall, go to the main desk to pick up more yourself, etc. It was fine. For meals we did takeout and ate at the hotel. Twice we did eat at a restaurant outside where there was no one near. It was possible because it was not cold. I took a few photos which follow.

On a side street in a little town next to Pasadena.
Camp Pendleton Marine Base near San Diego.

Near the UPS store in San Luis Obispo.

At the University of San Francisco, one of the few places where we were able to get out of the car and walk around.

Crossing the Gold Gate Bridge on Thanksgiving Day on the way to Muir Woods.

This and the following several photos were taken among the redwoods at Muir Woods. This is how we spent Thanksgiving Day.

If you stay on the main, paved paths, it is rather noisy. Even when there are signs for people to be quiet, they talk.
Off the paved path all we could hear was one very annoyed crow.
On our way back we crossed the Golden Gate again. In the following photo, Alcatraz is off in the distance.
On the way to Flagstaff, where we stayed the first night, we had wanted to stop by Petrified Forest National Park but arrived about five minutes too late. Therefore, we made a point to drive all the way through on the way home.
Rather difficult to believe that a lot of this was once a swamp with dinosaurs and huge trees.

On the way out or in, depending on which way you go, you can see the Painted Desert. Guess I caught my own shadow in this one.

Wandering the World–Italy, Part Two


It is an hour or so boat ride from Sorrento to Capri. Although not very crowded in November, apparently it is tourist heaven in the summer. The lower town contains many of the world’s major high end stores. This time of year most remained closed. Even though I am not a big fan of touristy destinations, I thoroughly enjoyed our day on Capri. I doubt I would like it so much in high season.

Looking down on the lower, main town from the town high on the island, Ana Capri. At the far point one can hike to the remains of Tiberius’ villa, where he hid the last ten years of his reign as Emperor of Rome. If he did not like you, off the cliff you went. I was standing on a trail with over 900 steps, carved by the Greeks even before the Roman times, that lead down to the lower town.
This walkway leads to the path mentioned in the previous photo. This time of year Capri is lush, relaxing, and peaceful.
This shop, among the few that were open, sold all sorts of chocolates with various limoncello products. The combination of chocolate, limoncello, and almonds is a taste of heaven.

I took all the above photos while strolling along the walkway shown in the third photo. Beauty lay everywhere I looked.

Capri is rugged. Houses hang off cliff edges, steep roads climb up and down near the sea’s edge. We strolled, went to a garden, found a little place to sit on steps and drink cappuccino .

Hiking in the Heat


For several weeks I noticed big bright white blossoms on tall stalks as I looked across the canyon in the evenings just before dusk. While it was still hot even at 8 during this latest heat wave, I hiked across the canyon for a look, taking various photos as I strolled along.

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When it rains, water drains into this arroyo and crashes over the cliff near my bedroom.

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Never bulldozed or cleared, this land allows ancient junipers to continue to thrive.

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No water dropping off the cliff on these hot, dry days.

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The flowers I could see from my house across the canyon.  My wildflower book tells me these are a type of Stickleaf. To take a photo of the other flower, I had to climb up an incline covered with gypsum.

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My dog, Athena, and I continued our hike along the canyon edge.

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It was beginning to get dark as we headed back to the house.

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I can also see this bush from across the canyon.  I see no others like it and do not know what it is.

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Headed back home along the canyon’s rocky edge.

 

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.

Heat


110

I look at the weather station.

watch hot wind bend juniper, mesquite.

Off and on clicks electricity, then off.

15 minutes, 20 minutes, 25,30,35.

Slowly, interior temperature rises.

I find the coolest place, read, worry

about refrigerated food.

40 minutes, 45.

Switch flips, ceiling fans whir.

I think:  how could anyone live

in this heat without air conditioning.

One happy plant resides outside,

from somewhere in East Africa.

Everything else–wilted.

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Reflections on Independence Day


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When I was a child, we lived on a farm where it rains around 40 inches annually.  On the Fourth of July, Dad always shot off a few Roman candles, and we had small firecrackers and sparklers, nothing fancy, just fun.  Even then I knew about the Declaration of Independence, revered its message.  Still do.

Now I live where it is hot and dry.  The neighbor’s fireworks display rivaled those found in cities–beautiful but dangerous in brown grass country.  I wonder if they give any thought to the history, to why anyone celebrates this day.

For the first time in the decades of my life, I did not celebrate Independence Day.  Why?

Born decades ago, I originally went to college in Virginia where I experienced the shock of real segregation; I had not grown up where it was like that. I was horrified, lasted only one semester, then transferred.  Later I attended a college which shut down in protest over the Viet Nam War, I supported The Civil Rights Movement, I helped create one of the first intercollegiate groups to advocate for abused women, and with an ethnically diverse group I taught diversity classes for teachers.

Now in 2020, I feel that even with all that hard, determined work, progress has been too limited.  It is as if I have been transported back to 40 years ago.  People need to learn from the history most do not even know:

-Cotton Mather, the leading intellectual and Puritan minister in the colonial era, actually helped butcher King Phillip (Metacomet) like an animal.  What did he do to deserve this?  He tried to save his Native people.  Cotton Mather later writes about tearing Metacomet’s jaw from his skull.

-In 1676, when poor whites joined enslaved Africans to rebel for a better life and decent living conditions, fighting for justice against the wealthy planters, those rich planters realized they had to get poor whites to hate Blacks.  They took land owned by Blacks and gave it to poor white people and then paid them to hunt down and abuse, even kill, people of African descent.

-Later, the same Cotton Mather mentioned above, learned from his slave that in Africa, Africans had been taking pus from a smallpox infected person and inoculating others with it to prevent smallpox from spreading.  He refused to believe any African  could be so smart even though he inoculated himself and his family after learning this.  Later, he wrote this about his African slave who had told him the story that may have saved his life: “…brokenly and blunderingly and like Idiots they tell the Story.”

-Of course, we all know that the intellectual giant, Thomas Jefferson, held the deed to the woman who would later bear him numerous children while he proclaimed those famous words that all people are created equal.

The history of racial and ethnic hatred goes back to the inception of this country.  It continues to poison progress and hope.  It never seems to end.  I am tired of it.  Enough is enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gallo Pinto


Last eve a friend came over.  Both of us have been careful during this difficult time and felt it was safe to see each other. I cooked a dish I ate every day when I visited Costa Rica, gallo pinto.  Usually it is served with platanos fritos.  I did not have platanos so served it with a mixed salad.

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Poblano, red and yellow bell peppers, finely chopped, and  ready to cook.

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Finely chopped onions already sautéed and now the peppers are cooking.

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The finished dish–left over rice, black beans, the pepper and onion mixture, and a little cumin–served with fresh salad. The recipe for this dish and the salad are in my upcoming book.  As soon as I know the date to preorder, I will let everyone know. The book will also be available at Burrowing Owl in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas.

 

 

Flowers for Mother’s Day


Usually, my son sends me flowers for Mother’s Day even though he lives far away.  He sometimes sends his sister in Amarillo flowers as well. Since none of us are participating in the flower rituals this year due to quarantining, I offer all of you mothers out there photos of my iris this year.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Stay safe, be thankful, take a walk.  Enjoy!

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