Celebrate Black History Month by reading

February 4, 2022

Every February since 1976, Americans have been celebrating Black History Month. Black History Month is an extension of Negro History Week created in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Rev. Jesse E. Moorland to make all of us aware of the significant contributions of black people to our country and the world.

Way back in 1967, I took a sociology course entitled Black History. I was attending, what was then, Southwest Texas State College in San Marcos. It was a shit-kicker and future teachers school, so just the name of the class got the campus all lathered-up. The slightly-nutty professor–sometimes standing on his desk to make a point–opened our eyes, and minds, regarding black people in America. Included were black authors who brought forth their experiences as individuals and as a people. So to help celebrate Black History Month, I’d like to recommend a few books I was introduced to in that class.

Go Tell it on the Mountain A short, but powerful book, written by James Baldwin, a prominent voice in the civil rights movement. His partially auto-biographical novel echoes the struggles of the soul blended with the social struggles of being black in America. He expresses the role of the Christian church in the black community as both repressive and hypocritical.

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin So, Griffin, disguised as a ‘Negro’–he actually darkened his skin through medical treatment–traveled in the segregated South and journaled his observations. Even though I thought I knew the injustices perpetrated on racial minorities, this book took me to the depths of the crushing world of racism as Griffin aptly describes how he becomes filled with hopelessness and despair after only a few weeks of living as a black man.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Hailey). Malcolm X was big back then another rallying point in the civil right movement. His conversion to Nation of Islam, and association with leader Elijah Muhammad, directed his preaching the radical and controversial concepts of black pride and social justice.

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois Manning Marable says about this particularly intellectual book, yet moving book, “Few books make history and fewer still become foundational texts for the movements and struggles of an entire people. The Souls of Black Folk occupies this rare position. It helped to create the intellectual argument for the black freedom struggle in the twentieth century.”

And, most of all the poems of Langston Hughes. Sadly, this poem is still relevant today. We have not evolved much and even seem to be going backwards as a society and country.

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. –excerpt from Let America be America again. 

So, why are these books important? Because they provide evidence to the racist attitudes and practices that are our history. In a recent study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, it seems the Texas State Board of Education is trying to erase the reality about segregation from the standard history/social studies curriculum at public schools. “Incredibly, segregation is not even mentioned except in a passing reference to the 1948 integration of the armed forces,” the study states. Even though we think “we’ve come a long way, baby” there is still work to be done to ensure everyone is treated as belonging to the same race–the human race.

“Always look for another point of view, always learn from people not like you.” Hey, I said that!


Where’s your church?

November 21, 2021

Early this Sunday morning, after I let the cat out, I went back to sleep for a while. I dreamed I was in a church. It was a large, crowded church and I couldn’t find a seat. The choir was singing, the preacher preaching and everyone was swaying and raising their hands. I went to the back of the church and visited with the others left out in the lobby.

I am a firm believer that church can be anywhere. It’s not a building, although most denominations seem to have buildings. Church doesn’t belong to one certain denomination. It’s more like that faith lives inside you. You can abide faith as well.

When our kids were elementary school age, we took them hiking every Sunday to a trail on what was then the outskirts of town. We’d stop at the very top, sit on bench in the small covered shelter with all the Daddy Longlegs spiders. Looking out at the trees, birds, and sky, we proclaimed to now be in church. This picture of Colorado looks like church to me as well.

As many, many peoples do, I have a ‘little altar’ in my room. It helps me focus and quiet my mind. I think, give thanks for my life and my parents. I pray for all those who are sick or having troubles. I pray for peace.

According to 1st Thessalonians 5, Jesus said to pray without ceasing. Questions: Do you believe prayer works? To whom do you pray? Is it just a universal plea or to God? What or who do you pray for? When do you pray? Let me know

Also read my previous post “Going to church in my mind


A Star Trek Future

August 1, 2021

Star Trek the series, first premiered on September 8, 1966. I was a college sophomore living in a dorm. Somehow I found Star Trek on the TV in the common room and it became a life-long favorite. I’ve seen everything, sometimes twice!

If you’re a fan of Star Trek, what the appeal for you? For me it was being science fiction–a glimpse into the possibilities of the universe. Also, the characters. But most of all, the message.

This is it, my Sunday Sermon. The way I always longed for life to be. I don’t trust humanity enough to see it happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Picture from CNET

Peace and Love and get vaccinated.


July 2020–What already!

July 6, 2020

Time flies when you’re having fun. Or, evidently, even if you are NOT.

Week 17 of COVID-19 self-quarantine

Mind you, I’m not complaining, as the alternative to staying home and being healthy would be no fun at all.

In most of our states, positive cases of Covid-19 continue to increase, and there are still many fun-loving, don’t f**k with my personal liberty to have fun, wearing a mask isn’t fun, citizens out there helping ‘Rona’ spread her evil disease.

At least our complex pool is now open so I can do water exercises in the morning. My knees, which never bothered me when I regularly walked via treadmill, do not like walking on the pavement.

TIPS FOR SENIORS

Here are some tips for seniors-who like myself-are staying home for what might seem an eternity.

Complete at least three tasks a day that will feel like an accomplishment.

Examples are:

  • exercise– outside or in a pool if you can, at least 30 minutes a day #SilverSneakers Facebook page has some great exercise videos you can do in your living room.
  • minimize your possessions–give away, throw away enough stuff so you have at least one empty closet in your home. I know–what a concept!!
  • try a new recipe–something vegan or vegetarian if you don’t normally cook that way.
  • Eat some dark chocolate every day. Grab a handful and enjoy.

    My favorite chips

  • If you still keep paper (which I do some) clean out your file boxes. Reuse the blank backs as a note pad.
  • read a book in a different genre than usual–lots of free ebooks from your public library and other places
  •  deep clean your refrigerator–seriously, how often do you do this? It probably needs it
  • Keep a prayer list-meditate-or otherwise have a quiet moment
  • last, but not least–talk with someone every day–kids, grandkids,  friend, shout at a neighbor from the appropriate distance, or the mail person

Peace be with with you all. Stay healthy wear your masks.


Summer Solstice 2020

June 21, 2020

Week 14 of COVID-19 self-quarantine

Greetings of peace and renewal on Summer Solstice 2020. And what a year it’s been so far!

Six months of constant changes and challenges. Most of us are learning how to adjust to life in the pandemic era. And, it’s not over yet folks, so stay cautious.

‘Summer solstice occurs on the longest day of the year, usually on June 21. Although, the sun’s position remains in pretty much the same place for a few days either side. For Neolithic people, sunlight would have been crucial – for warmth for them and their animals and for helping their crops to grow!’

Last night, I watched a live video of the sun setting over Stonehenge. There’s also a live video of the sun rise. Both videos are posted on the English Heritage Facebook page.

I toasted to the sun with a glass of wine and a few tears as I tried to wrap my head around the immense history of the human race represented here. Sometimes I wonder what will become of us. We take three steps forward and two steps back. We destroy the natural world which was created to sustain us. Let’s do better!

 

June is the month of five birthdays in my family. I celebrated mine at my dog-sitting job. There was a pool and a lovely view—along with sweet, cuddly dogs. I call my overnights ‘sleeping with the dogs.’

 

So here’s to however many more weeks it takes for us to figure out how to ‘lower the curve’ of COVID-19 infections. We miss seeing the grandkids!


Race Relations 2020

May 30, 2020

Ten years ago, I wrote Race Relations about a piece of my life that is now 45 years in the past. This is the sequel.

I’m not black or brown. I’m pretty much a privileged white person. I was exposed to racism in my youth via the small Texas town where my grandparents lived. I never understood it. I was also privileged to live in Hawaii and be a part of a community rich with many different cultures. I’ve lived in mixed race communities most of my adult life. Not bragging, just saying.

Even though my parents traveled extensively, they never quite shook the racial prejudice they were brought up surrounded by. My mother was quite the  snob. Perhaps I am a bit of a snob myself, since I admittedly judge people by ‘stupid or not stupid’. I’m thankful my son and daughter also understand the worth of a human being is in their soul, not their skin color.

Right now I am feeling like I want to say ‘I’m sorry” every time I see one of my African-American neighbors walking their dogs or just out for exercise. How do I explain I’ve always been an inclusive person without seeming lame? How do they know I’ve been active in efforts to confront racism, inequality and social justice all my life? How do they know when I say hello and smile, I really mean it?

When people of color look at me what do they see? Are they judging me as a whitey, la huera or gringa or whatever other derogatory word for blond (now gray) privileged white woman there is going around?

I’m angry, I’m scared—not for me, but for anyone who is being discriminated against. Or, judged by their appearance. Or mistreated because it’s assume they deserve it for some stereotypical knee-jerk reasoning. Believe it, we are in a national crisis.

And, I’m sorry we all can’t act like decent, intelligent human beings.


Serious questions and other stuff

May 7, 2020

What’s going on in your brain these days? Here are a few things that keep me up at night.

Cool tips for toilet paper roll art.

What was the deal with the run on toilet paper? Some of us have issues with tissues and were a bit concerned, and relieved when all the panic buying leveled out. I still count the squares and try to be conservative just in case.

Now meat production is in the COVID cross-hairs as workers are falling ill at an alarming rate.

Where has God been hiding thru all this–what’s the purpose–are we being punished? I get my free range faith from a number of sources including my parents and the nuns with whom I worked for 20+ years. It’s been 18 years since I set foot in a church. I’m ok with that. I go to church in my mind and I pray often. My daughter in law is a Pagan–which is a reverence for the natural world. She wrote this on her Facebook page and I concur. “I believe in the power of prayer no matter the faith. Prayer with good intentions to The Divine, by whatever name, is powerful and exponential.”

Why are there so many stupid people? A friend of mine asked me what makes some people so stupid? The question was a reference to the folks who still believe COVID-19 is a ‘fake news hoax’ and/or maybe having to wear a mask and practice social distancing is a violation of their rights. Welp! that’s a complicated question. Nature vs Nurture kind of question. Scientists and sociologists have studies and theories galore. It’s just life. Everyone is a unique mixture of their genetics, upbringing and culture.

“Life’s lessons can take many forms and present us with many challenges. There are scores of mundane lessons that help us learn to navigate with grace, poise, and tolerance in this world. And there are those once-in-a-lifetime lessons that touch us so deeply that they change the course of our lives. The latter can be heartrending, and we may wander through life as unwilling students for a time. But the quality of our lives is based almost entirely on what we derive from our experiences.” (Daily Om) “And to our ability to respond positively to change.” (me) as I ascribe  to this statement from Charles Darwin.

What would we have done without the internet and steaming entertainment? I’ve been streaming and binge watching thru several platforms for about 8 years now. We cut the cable early and never looked back. I read Netflix had 16 million new subscribers in March alone. There was marvelous and quick adaptation of online learning from school districts and teachers all over the country through technology. Too many businesses to count found out really quickly that it was either embrace the online presence or not survive.

I see on Facebook and other social media all the clever ways people have made do with alternate resources. Heck, most of the masks people are wearing come from enterprising individuals who answered a call. All of these things represent adaption to change in a good way.  Oh yeah, let’s add food and wine delivery services to the awesome adaptation list.

Adapting the cocktail hour–in the town-home alley with neighbors

Adapting well and staying healthy might just be my new motto.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Aging: forgetting to remember

December 10, 2019

I’ve noticed the older I get, the more I have forgotten. I also think I misremember a good deal. Merriam Webster defines misremembering as “to remember incorrectly.” I think you’ll agree this seems a ubiquitous trait for any of us who have the opportunity to live into ‘old age.’

Last week, my brother, sister and I went on a road trip to attend the funeral service of our last aunt, our mother’s only sibling. It closed the door on that entire generation of our family from both sides. People we loved and grew up with. None of us cousins from either side are particularly close. And, some of us have already reached, or are nearing, whatever our expiration dates are.

The many conversations we had unearthed precious memories of our childhood into adulthood when our grandparents and parents were still with us. We commiserated the loss of them and held dear the love and the amazing upbringing they gave us. Each of us had different perspectives, but common memory roots.

As I age, I am apprehensive of loosing all the parts of me. It’s important to be able to share with friends and/or families those significant memories which shaped us and now hold us together.

Now, if I can just remember why I came in the kitchen.


What stuff are dreams made of?

September 29, 2019

Today I began reading Patti Smith’s Year of the Monkey. I’m not sure I (a mere mortal) could do her writing any justice by trying to describe it’s lyrical beauty. But, the way it makes my mind wander is a good thing. The Year of the Monkey begins as Smith is spending a few days at the Dream Inn down by the ocean side in Santa Cruz, California where she dreams of many things.

I’ve always been a vivid dreamer. Since I was a small child I remember having dreams almost every night. I have good dreams, bad dreams, scary dreams, sex dreams and just plain weird dreams. Some I remember and some I only remember the feeling it left me with.

I used to have dreams that came true. Like when I dreamed one of my best friends was enjoying lovemaking that would result in a child. About a month later, she told me she was pregnant. Or, when I dreamed that I would find that desk I was looking for and I did. OK, maybe you don’t believe in that. Anyway, I still have ‘problem solving’ or inspirational dreams on occasion. I some times dream of deceased family or friends and wake up crying. I imagine those kind of dreams are fairly common. The night after my mother died, she came to me and said “tell your brother he doesn’t really have to cut his hair to come to my funeral.”

I was also reminded last week by my grandson Justin of some of my ‘out there’ dreams.  He mentioned on Facebook about he had been dreaming about living on a Mars colony. I’ve been in outer space in my dreams many times. One I specifically remember looking up and seeing two moons in a brilliant sky and running through a field of strange high grass.

I can’t imagine how people who have experienced real tragedies in their lives handle the awful dreams they must have.

If you are interested in scientific explanations

More from Psychology Today

This one is fun if you want to interpret your dreams

I personally prefer just to enjoy my dreams–even the scary ones after I calm down  I’m grateful for them as they make every night an adventure.

 


Advice in Four Words or Less

June 10, 2019

Today’s blog is a total Twitter rip-off. Thanks to Giles Paley-Phillips @eliistender10 for asking the question: Your best advice in four words or less.

This a fraction of the replies, but worthy of sharing.

Walter Shaub
@waltshaub
do the right thing
Art Thiel
@Art_Thiel

1. Don’t sweat petty things.
2. Don’t pet sweaty things. (h/t George Carlin)

Rogue EPA
@RogueEPAstaff
Don’t vote Republican 2020.

Patrick Leiser
@leiser_patrick
Even better: Don’t vote Republican ever

Rachel Wolfson
@wolfiecomedy
smoke weed every day

Cliff Jerrison
@pervocracy
Condoms, sunscreen, vaccines, seatbelts.