Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Time of Year

It's time to plan for the Christmas celebrations which are so different now from when I was younger. In the past, I was the Santa Claus. I coordinated gifts for the children with my parents and an aunt who lived near us. We indulged in good cooking and lots of music and visits in the three households.

These traditions were paltry compared to the ones that I remember from my childhood because when I was younger I lived in New York with my large extended family. There everyone brought and shared dishes like arroz con gandules, pernil, and my Mom's specialty pasteles--meat pies or Puerto Rican tamales. Christmas for me meant playing in the snow, partying with large numbers of cousins, aunts, and uncles. It also meant going to church with Mom who preferred Spanish with her Catholicism.

In Puerto Rico, my Cousin Rosin Torres tells me, Christmas Season meant music like the Aguinaldos formerly sung by "Jibaros" in rural communities and small towns. My Mom and aunts and uncles brought those sounds and the smell of good cooking with them to New York. In New York getting the ingredients for Puerto Rican cooking was easy as the demand for them was high and shipment did not take long.

When we moved to California we had to learn to make do with the paucity of Caribbean spices there. However, we kept the traditions as faithfully as possible and today my children cook with the same love for the family and friends that stop by as my mother did as a young woman on the island, in New York, and later in California. 

I live to see many of the traditions and love passed along to newer members of the family and I am at peace and praying for peace in the world.

Friday, October 22, 2010

These two love birds did things well. They were together for a long time. After all the picture to the left is dated 2006 and they waited to marry 12/12/2009.

He is my Grandson, whom I love and Cassandra has also gained my love for the way she cares for Antonio.

We Grandmothers love our children and their children.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Working Class Shows up the Banks

I have been thinking about how stinky the banks have been. They took money that they say the government "forced" them to take. What did they do with it? Did they do problem solving within their institutions? Did they give the money to projects that need attention in the communities where they exist? Do any Public Private projects resonate within the halls of Chase, BofA, CitiGroup or other banks? NO! The answer is NO Way.

From what I read, they gave their stockholders big dividends and their executives bonuses.

Now look at the car makers that were given stringent loans. Working along with the people they employ they seem to have been able to come up with profits and repayment of government loans. MOST importantly, they saved the jobs of many of their employees. Yes life in Michigan and other areas where people build cars are not as they were, but the workers and their bosses seem to have been more responsible and Patriotic than the Wall Street Greedmeisters.

I really hope Obama learns whom to help and whom to let fall and fail on their own. Some of these banks are too greedy to be propped up by the government and the taxpayers whose money is used in the wrong parts of the economy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Music, Language, Nuns, and Me

I recently posted some of the many kinds of music and artists that are near and dear to my heart. The rhythms from Afro-Latin and US Pop Culture among many genres are on my media player or on my Pandora.com account. I wish I could own all the funk, rhumba, mamboo, musica del jibaro as so much of it contributes to me--who I am. There is poetry in the rhythms I feel and in the words I seek to speak.

Sometime ago, I read about nuns who wrote plays which turned out to be against church teachings. Yet in their life times these women reached audiences outside their immediate sphere of influence.

Another nun had a busy career as poet and playwright.

Earlier posts to this blog show my connections to nuns, for I think I was raised to be one and one of my cousins actually became one. She lives in Convento Carmelita de San Jose en Trujillo Alto Puerto Rico.

Let us see where these explorations go.

Hey Jude

Mother by Lennon

One of the many reasons to Love John Lennon

CAINA.- RUBEN BLADES


www.Tu.tv


Para que la gente sepan que Ruben Blades puede cantar a todos topicoos importante para el Pueblo Latino

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Ruben Blades

 This Latin American from Panama does it all and he continues to raise  issues even when singing older songs..

Friday, October 08, 2010

Something in the Cosmos

I do not know if the primitive, superstitious parts of me are affected by the many nasty little problems I've had lately. For most of us in this highly technological era, a computer and a cell phone  are very important. I like my gadgets and when they do not act like the like me back I am at a loss. As a matter of fact I think the mere fact of logging on to blog spot is a minor miracle for it went off without a hitch.

I lost so much time trying to get my programs and word documents back that I almost did the unthinkable.  l almost put a little hex on it. However, after a few moments of calm meditation, I called someone who took care  of most of the issues. A horrid little Trojan and his smarmy friends infected the computer which had to be deloused and set to running right. Except for the web-shots fiasco, The machine is now allowing me to log on and do a public venting.

I hope to be in a better mood later today after the sun rises and reassures me that all is right in my world. There is nothing much I can control  in the greater world. Leaders of countries are not doing their jobs---lead. Others steal from their   own people, and others in our country care nothing for the plight of the poor.

I don't think I'll die soon; however, in the state the world finds itself without true caring wise leaders who do what is right for their people instead of what is politically expedient, living is not as pleasurable. I still have not rid myself of the idealist within.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recent Events

    Recently I noticed that when all around me are venting, I can actually stay calm. The feeling that overtook me was similar to the ones that held me tight when my parents passed. A family issue arose. Many people were upset, yet somehow I and the person affected were able to spend time together, talking, sharing, crying and loving one another. I felt at peace. Perhaps because the issues were not mine, I could actually be a grown up to actually help without judging. So today I am happy I survived 9/19/2010 and I think my beloved Father, mí Papí, would be pleased.

Theckla

A favorite person in from my childhood had a very strange name, Theckla. Now who had ever heard of such a name? Over a period of time I learned many versions of the story of "Thekla".  Since the original Theckla lived nearer to the times that Romans ruled the world, I did not know her. However, I met a delightful, kind woman who had taken her name as a sister of the order of nuns founded by St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Mother Theckla turned out to be a bright light in my girlhood.

I must have been pretty daring because shortly after meeting her I felt comfortable enough to laugh at her jokes and tell her she "was funny enough to be on TV." One of the young women, who worked at the school, shushed me for daring to speak so directly to the person who would become my teacher for three grades. Mother Theckla, however, had a good sense of humor and put me at ease. Like many 8 year olds, I was easily led by the catechism lessons we learned. One day I ran to Mother Theckla in tears. "What's this? Why are you crying?" I had just learned that only Catholics went to heaven and I was concerned that one of my heroes was not there. Abraham Lincoln was an early hero to me. I was born on his birthday and everything I read about him showed him to be caring, diligent, and concerned with undoing injustice. Patiently and kindly, Mother Theckla soothed me and stated clearly. "President Lincoln followed his religion and was a good man. He most definitely is in heaven." That was my first experience of an ecumenical practitioner of the Catholic faith. And I believe it preceded Pope John the 23rd's call for opening the windows of the church. This was his metaphor for letting in new light and air into what had become a stilted religion.


 

I bring up my fourth grade teacher in loving memory because I am a teacher and a "fallen" Catholic who still appreciates the sisters who helped raise her. I believe many of my more loving and caring approaches to life come from these Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and of course my family. I credit Theckla most because when I most needed a motherly touch, she provided it.

Despite the fact that my parents were working class, I had the privilege of a different learning environment and experience. These helped me see greater complexity in the possibilities and obstacles that people from my parents' working class and immigrant status encountered. I fear it instilled in me a desire for living as if I were a Roosevelt or Kennedy—I did it in my mind rather than in fact. While in the convent school I had one kind of experience. When I was in Manhattan that was another experience, and later when I left my beloved Sacred Heart Villa to move to California I once again encountered new situations. I suppose it was a good thing that I learn t be flexible at an early age because life has challenged me to adapt to new things all too frequently.


 


 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

La Sangre Llama

Many things I read and some things I hear remind me of my mother's repetition of an old Spanish saying: "La sangre llama" or "our blood (or ancestors) call us beckon to us. In graduate school I tied Mami's saying to Toni Morrison's discussions of "ReMemory". So whatever our origins, those who walked the earth before us and contributed to our genetic pool cry out that we not forget them. Perhaps? Or that we honor them? Or that we  mindfully build on that which they have given us.


In our family we love storytelling, politics, arguing and calling each other out on those things that make us unique--not with malice but frequently with laughter and joy. I think that is happening now with me and my older progeny. Not wanting to date myself I now include grandchildren with children in one lump sum. In truth the characteristics of my parents and my late-ex-husband's parents are readily seen in the children that came.

So now is the time to see how my children respond to the call of their ancestors. I'll patiently await to see how we each take the gifts we have been handed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Small Things that Matter

Life is ever changing, and in the words of a friend of mine, we need to change with circumstances. To do otherwise would be to perish spiritually as well as physically. So on a recent trip around town, I reflected upon an old truism that we must appreciate the little things in life. For example, talks with friends and family. Being alive. More importantly not taking these things for granted. On a recent day, I experienced a multitude of things spending time with an adult child "in person" instead of via new technological gadgets--email and cell phones. Refreshing our memories and hopefully making new ones

Short entry on a small thing that I need to remember more often.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Reflections

I've tried to write more than one page of stories I've told to people who in turn want me to write them down. So of course I come up with a great dose of writer's block. I turn to a piece of personal writing that my son, James, left on my computer.  I recognize the incident because it is a part of a shared history. However, I focus on something James said about a childhood friend with whom he feels a strong bond despite the many years that have passed since James has seen or been with his good friend, Chris Parker. A light bulb goes on inside my head and memories from over 52 years come to mind and my special girlhood friend, Judith Gloria Herman, comes to mind again.

I've held her in memory as she was when we were 14 and 15. When I needed a special person, Judi and her mother Margaret were there. I can almost hear Judy's voice for we walked to school many days and we shared each others family stories. We both lived in the Bronx and after school we generally went to her apartment and listened to music, listened to Mrs. Herman's stories of  life in Hungry where she and Mr. Herman had lived during WWII, played cards and thus I came to learn of a non-Latino culture that was rich in history and sorrows. Despite the past, Mrs Herman exemplified the best qualities of a person who embraced the present and made the most of it.


When I left New York, I gave Judy my Harry Belafonte album and she gave me both a necklace and a Star of David.But she gave me so much more. She introduced me to Classical Music, particularly the opera, Tosca and friendship which encouraged me and believed in me.

Why is it that at all the stages of my life self-doubt rears its ugly head. At that time in the Bronx, I had a good friend who believed in me and encouraged me to live beyond the limits of the environment at 2087 Creston Avenue.

If I could see Judi now, I'd tell her about my life's journey and hope that she sees in it the tenacity that has allowed me to survive and thrive because she and her mother were two of the three most important women who gave me early encouragement.


I hope that we can all remember the people in our lives who have given so much to us and we can thank them either in person or in prayer. I do not know how else to reach out to those  who have passed to the other side of life or whose current addresses we do not have. Perhaps there is a good reason we are not in contact now--perhaps it is best to have places in our memories for these special friends. Thus, the magic of friendship can continue its work through the years of our lives.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Returning to Some Basics

Yes,  I've taught for many years and despite the wisdom of NOT going on to get a Ph D in the early 1990s, I went and did it.My exposure to theories that applied to our lives as citizens sent me off like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. I forgot a basic tenet of teaching communication in the written form--audience. Too  often my  classes would go into tangents that I now realize were not "wise". How did I arrive at this reflection? A training session on improving comments for student writers led me back to the basic point--language. We must focus on the language students use and address the writing issues that arise from their fledgling writing status.

This reflection leads me to consider my own work so that it can become a better example of the kinds of writings with which I invite my students to engage. As noted in the previous entry to this blog, I have plenty of pieces of writing on my computer which need to be made public. So henceforth I will plug along with my work.Who knows I may share more of my interests in language with others so they can become interested in the wonders of words. Words do lead us to new worlds. Many of these worlds can be of our own making and worthy of existence along the worlds others have created.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Few Thoughts about Teaching

    I just found an old document on my computer which was a story about confrontations that teachers frequently experience. We've all heard, "Those that can, do, and those that can't teach." It's an old canard that seems to equate teaching with some sort of deficiency. I've had time to mull over the profession I have chosen and can say categorically that teachers "do". They write, the study, they create lectures and learn new technologies with which to enhance the learning experience. Moreover, most teachers "care". They care about their work, the profession, and most of all their students.

    I entered the teaching profession a long time ago and then went back to complete an education that I had left hanging (as it were) during the time I married and reared three children. In this, I am not unique. Interestingly, it was the problem I observed with my children's education in various places that led me to want to join the teaching profession to see if I could make a difference. I returned to school, acquired a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and a Doctorate – a Ph. D. What makes this story different is that my return to school to complete all that I'd missed took place when my children were "older" teens. Instead of being a 30 something Ph. D. student I was a 50 something Ph. D. student. Notwithstanding the age, I attempted to create a career path for me. My success is mixed but the point is that I am still learning and willing to learn to help others learn. Age, gender, illnesses all these have yet to stop me.

Today I completed the third of ten days of training for an exclusively online tutor position. I am still trying to learn new technologies so as to maintain contact with students and thus make difference. I find myself learning and enjoying the experience of the teachers who now instruct me and remind me how to be better at both teaching and encouraging students to take responsibility for their work.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thurgood Marshall On Trial: Republican Senators Use Elena Kagan's Supreme Court Hearing To Trash Her Mentor (VIDEO)


I've been toiling on this idea for years without coming up with an answer. I hope people will wake up from their apathy soon.
About Elena Kagan
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Language and Who Owns It

Recently saw an article dealing with language. I've always noted that English is like a shark--it takes in everything that comes its way. Burritos yummy and now in the American English lexicon. The French it seems are none too pleased with all the "borrowings" English has made and is suing. Whether or not the French will follow through, the issues helps to highlight one of the reasons non-native speakers of English have a hard time learning its rules and vocabulary.

Just a thought on a Sunday afternoon.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Leaf Turned Over

Every once in a while, life changes are very welcomed. Although many people fear an empty nest, I am welcoming it. I must admit that I owe my youngest child--a woman now--many thanks for the new appreciation I have for a more solitary but life affirming life.

I grew up in many different environments and as an only child I learned to acclimate to what I had even if I occasionally envied cousins who lived elsewhere. Over the past few decades I have come to be happy in an environment that is quiet yet near friends and activities I relish.

Sunday a daughter left, Wednesday carpets were cleaned and the process of creating a new space for writing and crafting has begun. I can't wait to see what I wind up with.

New Program Starting with Exercise from Huffington Post







Saturday, April 17, 2010

Living in a Culture of Youth

I went to a local CVS pharmacy in search of suntan lotion and other "age defying" products. I admit that living in a sun drenched state does tend to dry a person out from time to time. As I wandered up and down the aisles of hair and skin products (my hair too, once oily is now dry), when I happened upon stacks of books by well known authors. These were all hardback and unsold even with the huge discount on them.

I thought it discouraging for someone like myself who is trying to get her memoirs out on paper. I do the worst thing an aspiring writer can do. I tell myself that if these well known writers have stacks of their books gathering dust, what can I expect from my feeble attempts.

Today I heard a story on NPR programing about a person who'd been sent off to an orphanage when he was 9 and I said to myself--ah that's like me. Only I was sent away to a "boarding" school when I was at the ripe old age of 5. I felt a bit of solace and wondered if anyone would be interested in boarding schools AND happier memories of summers in the country side. Apparently boarding school teachers needed summers off.

Back to my original musings. Who reads?: Who cares? Are our feeble attempts worth the effort or are they indulgences to our egos?

Friday, April 16, 2010

This Week

I've been reading several books each for a different purpose. The first is The Shock Doctrine: Disaster Capitalism. The history related in the text makes sense when you take a long view of what has been happening during the past 50 years. I have no background in economics so I depend on balanced reporting, which I believe Naomi Klein has conducted very thoroughly. Just in the first two chapters I feel vindicated in observations that I've made to students in my former classes---I always mentioned that to an average citizen living here in the USAmerica most hold dear the type of capitalism has undergone a drastic change. Now I understand that a theory of economics has worked very hard to have its ideas take over public lands and interests while enriching the "producers" of wealth. In other words, what were once jointly owned and administered infrastructures and responsibilities by public and government in balance with corporations are increasingly in the hands of corporations--many or them multinationals and not beholden to the USAmerican tax payers. All structures put in place during the New Deal era are being dismantled in the belief that governments must, like business make profits.

I have never thought that all things should operate like corporations because there are many works like health, education and maintenance of public buildings and roads which should be done for the people regardless of the almighty bottom line.

People learn in different ways and need different approaches in order to grasp concepts. SO the privatization of Education does not take this into account and in stead insists on tests. Now some students do well in responding to standard tests. I never did yet with time I came to the point of earning a doctorate. Had my teachers insisted on evaluating me solely on results of GED or other standardized tests, I might never have succeed in earning my degree.

Not all students have the same family backgrounds and support for continuing in higher education. so they must work harder at both learning substance of the courses they take and passing standardized tests that make politicians feel as if they've accomplished something wonderful for the public schools. Of course the information in the Klein book points to the great desire of the followers of Milton Friedman to privatize all of education.

So as I get deeper into the Klein book I'd like to see what other have to say that either add further light on my findings or make any corrections for errors in reading which I may have made.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Being

As I wrote a few entries ago, I have begun practicing the art of "being" which I define as paying attention to what happens around me and what I am feeling. It is all a part of getting healthy and my journey towards "enlightenment" as a fellow blogger and friend notes.  I can tell "Spring" has arrived because I have a hacking cough due to dust and pollen with which this desert is blessed in abundance during seasonal return of new leaves to trees in the area. It doesn't help that two of the primary indigenous trees in the area--mesquite and palo verde contribute to my allergies. But all is well as other diversions will take to focus from the cough to happier thoughts.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Maureen Dowd's NYT Piece 3-28-2010

A Nope for Pope a lovely and insightful editorial about an old but important issue--the exclusion of women from the halls of power in religious institutions. In this case, the ever going and deepening crisis of child molestation in the Catholic Church. Dowd correctly points out that a good part of the solution to the crisis would be the opening up of church to women as priests. There are other solutions served up in Dowd's piece, but I fear the rottweiler in charge of the church is too deeply embroiled in the scandal to take any new ideas and implement them. Like others faced with a problem of their own making the non solution is to dig deep into obscure rationales for staying on a course that could likely doom the church's claim to moral leadership.

Stages

Recently I've engaged in a bit more soul searching than usual. I finally had the idea driven to the core of my being that I needed to make changes--big ones in my life. I guess I finally reached an understanding of points my loved ones had tried to make for a long time. I am referring to eating habits and reasons for eating here. I accidentally came across an advertisement for a diet while reading something on the Huffington Post.

The most important thing I learned from the advertisement is this: the enemy is not food in general. It is SUGAR! Sugar and low physical activity my nemesis will be challenged.

I now have the feeling of satisfaction of having followed through by not accepting sweets that are not grown on someone's farm and by practicing a little tai-chi. When I finish my first ten weeks, I'll just go for another and then I can gain greater satisfaction.

My Response to Frank Rich of the NYT

In a thoughtful opinion piece in the NYT for Sunday, March 28, 2010, Frank Rich lists the irrational responses to Obama, members of congress that do not look like the old congresses. His analysis is excellent and it is indeed a shame that people fail to reflect on the obvious consequences of life. Things change in life and too many people become hysterical, irrational, childish, and at times dangerous when events do not unfold in the manner that they wished for or expected. One critique of Rich's piece is that he doesn't name the racist elements of shifts in power taking hold in the US. I for one do not see a huge sea change. However, I identify with those marginalized voices which are slowly being represented in the new Congress and especially with the Obama presidency.

When Justice Soto-Mayor gained entry to the Supreme Court, I had a call from one of my cousins stating that the newly minted Justice looked and spoke like me.  I apologize to the Justice in advance. She is more Chic than I am.  Nonetheless a Puerto Rican American who struggled to become educated and worked hard to gain admission to the halls of power is but a small demonstration of what USAmerica looks like in the future.

Friday, March 26, 2010

When Bill Maher Is Right!!

Bill Maher: New Rule: You Can't Use "There Will Be No Cooperation for the Rest of the Year" as a Threat If There Was No Cooperation in the First Half of the Year


I love to listen to wisecracking Bill Maher whenever I can, although sometimes I disagree with him. However, I can't help but fully agree with his New Rules commentary posted at the Huffington Post. Many of us are celebrating the passage of Health Insurance Reform. Maher's commentary is both a nod to the success of the new law but also an admonishment for Democrats to take their newly acquired feeling of success as reason and method to push forward with other equally important and difficult work ahead.


Fortunately, the President's party has quite a number of strong leaders that include many women. We are all aware of the strength and support Hilary Clinton brings to diplomatic discussions on behalf of President Obama. Palin seems to be the only woman held in high esteem by members of her party and so they turn to her. However talented Ms Palin is there is little of substance in her positions I would admire. Nancy Pelosi demonstrates a different view of women in politics. Perhaps because she has worked hard to gain the Speakership of the House of Representatives in the U.S. and because she has dealt with issues concerning women, Pelosi was able to grasp the need for party unity, and its ability to go it alone when partnerships fail. The Republican members of the House and Senate relinquished their responsibilities for participating in governing the country during the past year. When there is a failure of leadership in the minority party, the majority party must make a decision to take control of the work that needs to be done. There comes a point when one partner says to the other: "I understand you want to do things your way, we have done it your way and it does not work. Stop the threats and the passive aggressive behavior we'll go it alone." We have reached the point of going it alone.


There is honor in doing the thing that is right for the national family and do what is right for the family members. President Obama needs to understand that winning will lead to bipartisanship but he need not go out begging for votes from people who seek to destroy his ideals for USAmerica and his presidency.


Bill you are 100% on this one.

I Love POTUS Again.....But Michelle can ...

After months nay a year and a few months of wrangling with wily and contentious members of the US Congress, a health bill is passed. President Obama smiles broadly again and I love him again, but Michelle can live with him. He took some getting used to as his style of politicking is different--nerve wracking and seemingly high risk. Yet he got the first step toward good health care passed. I must Say that much could not have been managed without that other woman in Obama's life (he has so many powerful ones to deal with)--Nancy Pelosi with her smiling brown eyes. Obama may want to get a copy of Frank Sinatra's song for his daughter Nancy and send it to Ms Pelosi. Once I heard her say she'd get the fixes done I was sure.


It is a testament to President Obama that he has sought the counsel and help from women. Yes we know he has high octane men in his administration, but Nancy Pelosi and Hilary Clinton. Wow what a team. As I get to know about the others on his team, I doubt I'll be disappointed in his selections--Larry Summers aside.


So way to go and I feel this law is just a beginning.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trying NOT to be Cynical

The way things move in real life compared with the way things move in public life can lead a person to grow not only tired by cynical about good citizenship. Why vote? The folks who get elected use rules or the system to do nothing of real value and there is much to be done.

Stewart on Beck's Interview with Massa

Jon Stewart's take on Beck and Massa. Really funny.