Jun 6, 2020

ONE OF MY FAVORITES

I don't recall when I first came across this poem or this poet. It's been a favorite poem of mine since the first reading. It may have been during the MFA Creative Writing program I completed in 2005 - 2006.

I've read this poem many times during different chapters in my life and I always found comfort in The Journey.  

The poem offers a powerful sense of calm, hope and wisdom. In the simplest of terms, complimented by grand gestures of the natural world, the poet offers that even in the darkest hours or darkest times .....light is possible, light is available, light is inscribed across the heavens and inside of all of us.  

The journeys may differ: they can be individual, collective, a nation, a continent, LIGHT is possible. No matter if we are one person, or a thousand, or a million, we all have the opportunity to look up and see that one line inscribed across the heavens for each of us. The very same line in the heavens that directs us back to ourselves and the journey begins. 



-------------------------------------------------------------------


THE JOURNEY 


Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again


painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.


Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens


so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.


Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.


You are not leaving.
Even as the light
fades quickly now,
you are arriving.







from ‘House of Belonging’ by David Whyte




Jun 3, 2020

OPEN SENTENCES




“Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world.” 
― Joanna Macy


 

I ran into Joanna Macy and her website on The Work That Reconnects via a DailyGood.org article that referenced her work with open sentences. 

I was immediately curious about the idea of OPEN SENTENCES so I followed the links in the article until I found videos, blogs and resources on open sentences and much more.  

If you are curious you can access the website at:
https://workthatreconnects.org/spiral/foundations-of-the-work/

If you want to know more about Joanna Macy, you can access her website at:

https://www.joannamacy.net


The Work That Reconnects is about many things.  Joanna Macy is a scholar, author, teacher, a citizen of the universe focused on teaching and sharing a "framework for personal and social change". 

With all that is happening in the world today, with all that is happening in the United States with respect to the protests ignited by the homicide of George Floyd; the world at large, the United States, every leader, every elected official, every individual person, every Mother, every Pastor, we all need to draw on our strengths to do our part to support and embrace social change.

Based on each person's individual circumstances and truths, we all have something we can contribute, something we can support, someone we can embrace and celebrate. To do this we all need to rely on our strengths as individuals, so we can collective affect and participate in what lies before us. 

If we know and understand and appreciate our strengths perhaps we are more apt to take a step forward, raise our hand at a community meeting, volunteer to lead the closing prayer in a Life Group, make a donation to non-profit that focuses on social justice, volunteer for a candidate running for elected office, have a conversation that is not comfortable; all of these possibilities with the focus of considering a better future for our nation, for the world. 

These open sentences ask about our strengths: lessons learned, traditions lived, pains experienced, responsibilities accepted and accomplished and so much more.  These open sentences require time, introspection, sitting still.  



  • Strengths I draw from my own family and ancestral lineage are…



  • Strengths I draw from having ventured out into other traditions and experiences are



  • Strengths that have come to me through hardships, losses, and failures are



  • Strengths that have come from tasks I’ve undertaken and responsibilities I’ve assumed are…




Not until I read more about Joanna Macy did I realize she is credited with one of my favorite all time quotes. 












Jun 2, 2020

Two Different Kinds of Storms


We are in the 2nd day of the 2020 Hurricane Season and Cristobal is forming in the Gulf of Mexico. When you live in Florida you have to care and pay attention to the forecast.  I love all the forecast models, all the radar information and visuals, some are like paintings. 



















Today, most of the country is 8 days into the national protests and unrest due to the George Floyd homicide in Minneapolis while he was being restrained by 4 Minneapolis policemen. Today during my early morning walk at the Town Center I observed another kind of preparation for a different kind of the storm. In the past I've seen retailers board up their store fronts in preparation for Hurricane Maria an Irma, not this time. The homicide of George Floyd and the historic injustices it represents has unleashed a different kind of storm.  

I had hoped the first week of June would be a turning point from all that happened in May, I was wrong. We certainly cannot manage or influence the forces of nature spinning up a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. The George Floyd storm, that will require intervention, dialogue, truth, recognition, wide open eyes, wide open hearts, time, healing and leadership at every level. 

I'm certainly paying attention to both storms.  
















 

Jun 1, 2020

The Last Week of May 2020




The last week of May of 2020 in the United States will go down in the history books for all the good and the bad that results from man's actions and inactions. 

Every aspect of humanity possible in the good and the bad of mankind was on display across America this week. Every aspect of leadership was on display, poignant and stark. More apparent, the void of leadership in this country was and continues to be on display; a giant, alarming void. 

I'm still trying to process all that has happened and continues to happen. 

Sometimes sitting in silence helps. I appreciate silence and the stillness it provides.  

Today I focused on all the clouds in the sky while walking, taking in the beauty that surrounds all of us ongoing; I love the art in cloudy skies. 

Sometimes focusing on gratitude for all the blessings I have in my life helps abate all the ongoing upheaval that is making headlines each and everyday all across the United States and the world. 

And sometimes I watch rocket launches in great detail. I have to admit, I'm a  fan of rocket launches like we had this past week with Space X and NASA. I was thrilled that all went well for that launch on Saturday getting the two U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. 

Below are a sampling of images from this past week, good and bad. 







 
















Mike Lukovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution 















Bill Day 









 
Astronauts onboard the International Space Station 







Apr 29, 2020

Culinary Contribution





My culinary contribution for our collective time in Covid19 Quarantine starts with a can of your favorite tuna.  Yes, Tuna.  My first and only disclaimer, if you don't like a crunchy meal, stop reading this post now. Nothing in this tuna salad recipe is not crunchy, well one ingredient is.  So beware of the crunch. And every ingredient has a story. 







You need fresh red radishes, also known as superfood, they are very healthy.  Fresh celery, sweet pickles, golden raisins, yes they have to be golden and a fresh crisp apple.  The quantity you see in the picture above is what I used today for an 5 oz can of tuna, hence a very crunchy tuna salad. All the ingredients should be chopped in small, small pieces and thoroughly incorporated with the tuna in a bowl. 





The tuna needs to be dry, so whatever your favorite brand is be sure to drain the liquid well.  Make sure you crack some fresh ground pepper on the tuna before adding the other ingredients, you want that pepper on the tuna and not the other ingredients. And be generous with the pepper. 


When I first started making tuna salad long ago, when I was in college in the San Fernando Valley, at Cal State Northridge, my recipe was basic. Back then it was tuna, celery, and a  bit of mayo.  I used to always have a few saltine crackers to go with the tuna, saltines were a staple in my pantry in those years. Not anymore. 


Over the years, I added the golden raisins because of my Grandmother Chichi from Panama.  I added the sweet pickles because of Liz DeRoulet's suggestion. She makes the most amazing potato salad with pickles, so I borrowed the idea from that dish. The red radishes were added after I stayed with Tichi in Panama during a few visits after my Father passed. Tichi ate beautiful fresh red radishes almost every day and I learned to appreciate their flavor and all the packed vitamins and nutrients. The crisp apple came as of late, my sister Ana includes fresh apples in most of her salads, so why not.  Trust me when you mix all of these together, you get a very fresh, crunchy, refreshing tuna salad. It's a carnival for the palate. 


You have to have fresh cracked pepper and also quality mayonnaise, not too much, not too little.  And the final secret ingredient, again from my friend Liz, add a tablespoon or two of the liquid from the jar of pickles. Every so often I will add a shake or two of hot sauce, this provides a hint of mystery in the overall salad.  


You can serve this tuna salad in many ways. The tuna salad has to be cold; it will compliment any bed of lettuce, any wonderful piece of bread, preferably toasted, any and all crackers, or simply by the spoonful. 


If for any reason you don't like tuna, substitute the tuna with chicken tenders.  And the better the pickles the better the overall taste.  


Trust me on this recipe combination, I've never had complaints and the overall recipe is mostly healthy. 




Buen Provecho ! ! 
















Apr 28, 2020

This and That





THE MASK DRAWER 
I never thought I would have a Mask Drawer, akin to my Sock Drawer. I now have a small selection of masks due to social distancing practices implemented, suggested and practiced to stop the spread of Covid19.  

I have paper masks, carbon filled paper masks, the kind they wear at manicure and pedicure salons. I also have 3 cloth masks that were made by talented individuals who can do great things with a sewing machine. My favorite at the ones above, made with African cloths from Ghana. Not sure if the collection will grow or not. I'm managing all things Covid and pandemic, one day at a time. Grateful for all my blessings, and especially my health. 







REFRIGERATOR SOLDIERS 

I've never in my life prior to March 2020 had purchased three containers of Almond Milk at one time.  Yet here they are, starring at me when I open the frig. It's great that the shelf life of this product is so long. I'm thankful for being able to purchase these and for being able to store them and have them available during the social distancing restrictions and cautions. Every day I start my morning with a cup of Cafe Bustelo and a splash of Almond Vanilla Milk. 









COVID19 SUPPLIES 

When I lived in California and worked for Cox Communications, we had an earthquake safety initiative that required the company to have the appropriate survival supplies in the building in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. In the event that an earthquake would prevent employees from going home, the company put aside basic medical and food supplies that were restocked and refreshed annually, so we would be prepared to shelter in place incase of an earthquake event. 

This initiative also encouraged all employees to have an "Earthquake Bag" in the trunk of each employees car with again, the necessary supplies, clothes, shoes, gloves, hats, basic hygiene products, all incase you were unable to get home in the event of an earthquake. So we had our work supply, our own personal supply and then the same idea was encouraged that you have this basic supply at home. 

During all the years I lived in California (18+) I always had my personal earthquake bag supplied, inventoried and ready. My personal kit at home included all the basic items and earthquake candy. In the refrigerator you would always find 2 or 3 Snickers and/or ButterFinger Candy Bars. 

Since early March I adapted the same strategy regarding the candy bars, with the exception that I get the mini size version so the calorie count is the least possible. In shelter at home, there is always a time for a mini chocolate treat. 










Apr 27, 2020

My New Friend ARIES






Today I finally got the courage to ask for a photo. I approached the owner of a beautiful Doberman I've been walking in and around and away from at the Town Center. And below is the best I could do. The dog's name is Aries, his owner is Roberto. Aries is 2 years old, a big pup.   


When I asked for the photo, the dog would not sit very still, he was very interested in the treat promised by Roberto if he sat still.  Any attempts to look at the camera did not succeed.  I took 3 or 4 photos and this is the best one. 


I've been spying on Aries for about 3 weeks now. He is not a regular at the Town Center. He gets walked probably 2 days a week.  For a time I thought that Roberto and I were coordinating our walks as I always saw the Doberman and I always had an escape plan to walk in a completely different path so I could not have to come anywhere near the dog. 


Aries gets walked on a long leash, he walks probably 10 to 15 feet away from his owner, he does not pull on the leash, at the same time, the distance between dog and owner makes me very nervous. The owner many times walks while texting, there is more focus on the phone vs. Aries and this also makes me very nervous. My dog radar in my head, sets off immediately, especially with large breeds. 


The first day I saw the Doberman, I stayed far away from him.  I immediately imagined what Morgan would have done if she got anywhere near this dog. Morgan as small as she was physically, made up for her size with attitude and presence. She wanted every dog to know that she was in charge of the universe and that she was present and should be accounted for.  She barked, she was not aggressive, but her bark served as an announcement that I'm MORGAN and you better watch out. Over the years, this got us in trouble a few times, so I learned to keep both Morgan and Maddie away from any dogs they were not friends with.  And the list of friends and familiar dogs was short. 


Aries owner is a nice gentleman, he told me that Aries is very friendly and I should not be afraid. I shared with Roberto a brief story about the Doberman in my childhood in Panama, his name was Rey. I also told him Maddie and Morgan. 


I'm sure I'll see Roberto and Aries again.  Although the rules for lockdown in Florida will probably be eased as of May 1st, so Aries owner may be going back to work. Or back to whatever routine he had before Jacksonville went on lockdown. 


Aries is a beautiful Doberman, very tall. I wish him and Roberto well. 









 


Apr 22, 2020

RESPITE HALLELUJAHS



RESPITE HALLELUJAHS 


Your reign inhabits 
Priests, Tribal Leaders, Mothers, 
Children, Prisoners and Bus Drivers 
Your royalty is not a surprise 
Your vengeance circumventing the globe is
Ready or not, you invade, 
crystalline droplets one by millions 
Your corona drowns the air of thousands 
and thousands and thousands 

How will we come to know 
When will we understand 
Will we ever appreciate 
Will truths be known in a year’s time 
Or in our lifetimes 

What really happened, when, where 
Even those who are not infected are 
Fear, anxiety, stress, grief, sorrow, ruin 
Your crown shines bright and is of many colors 
Everyone holding their own hue near and far 

Reality mixes with the cousins surreal
fantasy wears thin veils and sneaks around 
hours become blue days and blue days 
become orange hours 

Routines become respite hallelujahs 
while hushed prayers on bended knees wash over 
back and forth and back and forth 
desperately trying to drown uncertainty 
in the rough seas of our imaginations 

Corona today you are sovereign 
This war between virus and humans 
A caution, a Mayday, an admonition 
A chapter out of who’s demonic playbook 
What are we to learn, to appreciate, to sulk 

One day, predictors narrate potential victories
Academies, experts, virologist, scientist, they all sing 
Melodies of hope, concerts for a victor vaccine 
A vaccine that will in future crush your pointy crowns 

One day, how will we know, how will we understand 
will we ever appreciate the lessons of your reign 
Who will be our guide, who will turn the pages
Who will put the chalk away at the end of the day 





By 
Elena M. Arosemena 













 



Apr 21, 2020

JUNE ALMEIDA ~ BBC REPRINT







The woman who discovered the first human coronavirus was the daughter of a Scottish bus driver, who left school at 16.
June Almeida went on to become a pioneer of virus imaging, whose work has come roaring back into focus during the present pandemic.
Covid-19 is a new illness but it is caused by a coronavirus of the type first identified by Dr Almeida in 1964 at her laboratory in St Thomas's Hospital in London.
The virologist was born June Hart in 1930 and grew up in a tenement near Alexandra Park in the north east of Glasgow.
She left school with little formal education but got a job as a laboratory technician in histopathology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
Later she moved to London to further her career and in 1954 married Enriques Almeida, a Venezuelan artist. 

Common cold research

The couple and their young daughter moved to Toronto in Canada and, according to medical writer George Winter, it was at the Ontario Cancer Institute that Dr Almeida developed her outstanding skills with an electron microscope.
She pioneered a method which better visualised viruses by using antibodies to aggregate them. 
Mr Winter told Drivetime on BBC Radio Scotland her talents were recognised in the UK and she was lured back in 1964 to work at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School in London, the same hospital that treated Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was suffering from the Covid-19 virus.
On her return, she began to collaborate with Dr David Tyrrell, who was running research at the common cold unit in Salisbury in Wiltshire.
Mr Winter says Dr Tyrrell had been studying nasal washings from volunteers and his team had found that they were able to grow quite a few common cold-associated viruses but not all of them.
One sample in particular, which became known as B814, was from the nasal washings of a pupil at a boarding school in Surrey in 1960.
They found that they were able to transmit common cold symptoms to volunteers but they were unable to grow it in routine cell culture. 
However, volunteer studies demonstrated its growth in organ cultures and Dr Tyrrell wondered if it could be seen by an electron microscope.
They sent samples to June Almeida who saw the virus particles in the specimens, which she described as like influenza viruses but not exactly the same.
She identified what became known as the first human coronavirus.




Mr Winter says that Dr Almeida had actually seen particles like this before while investigating mouse hepatitis and infectious bronchitis of chickens.
However, he says her paper to a peer-reviewed journal was rejected "because the referees said the images she produced were just bad pictures of influenza virus particles".
The new discovery from strain B814 was written up in the British Medical Journal in 1965 and the first photographs of what she had seen were published in the Journal of General Virology two years later.
According to Mr Winter, it was Dr Tyrrell and Dr Almeida, along with Prof Tony Waterson, the man in charge at St Thomas's, who named it coronavirus because of the crown or halo surrounding it on the viral image.
Dr Almeida later worked at the Postgraduate Medical School in London, where she was awarded a doctorate. 
She finished her career at the Wellcome Institute, where she was named on several patents in the field of imaging viruses.
After leaving Wellcome, Dr Almeida become a yoga teacher but went back into virology in an advisory role in the late 1980s when she helped take novel pictures of the HIV virus.
June Almeida died in 2007, at the age of 77.
Now 13 years after her death she is finally getting recognition she deserves as a pioneer whose work speeded up understanding of the virus that is currently spreading throughout the world.

 


Apr 18, 2020

A POEM FOR SATURDAY - READ OUT LOUD




A Reward

Tired and hungry, late in the day, impelled
to leave the house and search for what
might lift me back to what I had fallen away from,
I stood by the shore waiting.
I had walked in the silent woods:
the trees withdrew into their secrets.
Dusk was smoothing breadths of silk
over the lake, watery amethyst fading to gray.
Ducks were clustered in sleeping companies
afloat on their element as I was not
on mine. I turned homeward, unsatisfied.
But after a few steps, I paused, impelled again
to linger, to look North before nightfall—the expanse
of calm, of calming water, last wafts
of rose in the few high clouds.
And was rewarded:
the heron, unseen for weeks, came flying
widewinged toward me, settled
just offshore on his post,
took up his vigil.
                               If you ask
why this cleared a fog from my spirit,
I have no answer.

 
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Whatever your reward is today, or this weekend, to lift and sustain your spirits, the spirits of those around you, family, friends, neighbors, I hope you recognize and relish in that reward however momentary.  

May those moments or minutes build on whatever expanse allows your heart and mind to fill with light, hope and comfort. 


Perhaps: 

The smile of your relatives as you engage with them via a WhatsApp video call. 


The swirling steam rising from your favorite cup of tea. 


A letter in your mailbox. 


A prayer shared in your LifeGroup WhatsApp Group. 


The silly songs of your children, the chorus of their joys. 


Fresh air moving around because the breeze decided to show up. 


Tony and Mary walking hand in hand, slowly, with intent, at the Town Center. 


A quote shared by a friend, "If you don't light a candle, don't complain about the dark."


The aroma of Ana's 15 bean soup. 


Confident blue skies before the afternoon storms. 


The friendship of silence and peace. 


Drew skateboarding like a teenager out front, every flip and turn an awkward ballet only he knows. 


Deep, purposeful, healthy breaths. 






















Apr 17, 2020

THE LIST OF QUESTIONS




The world is having a collective experience, unlike anything most of us have ever experienced in our lifetime.  Certainly there are other "almost collective" experiences, but none that can compare with every citizen of every country in the world to some degree being impacted by the Corona Virus, Covid 19 Pandemic.  

All the citizens of the world, (with very few exceptions) will have a memory collection in their psyche about how the pandemic affected them in their daily lives, in the place they live, in their city, in their country. 

This global experience makes us realize, (I hope) that we are all collective citizens of one planet, EARTH, and not as divided as we think we are. It would be so wonderful to consider that post this experience, boundaries would be much less than what they are today, that differences would unite and not create such discord as they do today.  

I keep waiting for someone to galvanize the spirit of America during this time and still there is a vacuum. There's not been a united rally, a display of American Flags, a song, a declaration of unity; where is the one leader, the one cultural impresario, or the one spiritual beacon that rallies people to unite, to care, to consider, to cooperate, to not be afraid.  

Perhaps this expectation of a galvanized national spirit is unfounded, not realistic. Maybe the pandemic is so far removed from anything anyone could have considered as a possibility that a collective rally of country, patriotism, consideration, compassion is not possible. Perhaps the breakdown of systems, government, institutions is too much to bear on the collective spirit of nations at large, including America. 

History is being written everyday in the lives of everyone. Some pandemic experiences and histories will become movies, documentaries, memoirs, first person essays in leading newspapers and magazines, there will be stories to tell and share and remember and recognize. 

I've been keeping a list of questions, some I've shared and discussed with family and friends. Some are questions I will one day answer and make a record of, for no other reason, than it helps me make sense of this collective experience. It helps process the magnitude of what is going on, the possibilities of what could be, the hopes I have for everyone I know and love to be healthy and safe.  

I'm sharing these today and I will continue to add to them. If you have one that I can add, please share. 






THE LIST OF QUESTIONS 


When did you a know a Pandemic had been declared by the World Health Organization 


How did you find out, where were you 


What was your initial reaction, your thoughts 


What do you remember about that day, your concerns, your fears


Who did you reach out to immediately 


Did you have difficulty sheltering at home, being restricted from your daily life, routine  


Who did you shelter with


Do you have young children/grandchildren 


How young are they and how did you explain the pandemic to them 


What were the fears of your children/grandchildren, what were there most poignant questions 


What was your biggest challenge: emotional, physical, financial, practical 


What were you most grateful for during this time 


What headlines or new stories broke your heart 


What will you remember from the news cycle in 5 years, 10 years 


Do you know anyone personally who died from Covid19, share your thoughts about them 


Do you know anyone who got Covid19 and recovered, share your thoughts about them 


Do you think you had Covid 19 and were not tested 


What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic 


Do you have family and friends in other countries 


How was their experience different from yours 


Did you have a favorite IF 


IF I could be anywhere right now, where would that be 


IF I could be with anyone, who would that be and what would you be doing 


What did you learn from your shelter in place housemates, family, roommates, that you did not know before 


Did you inventory your household toilet paper ? Had you ever done this before ? How many rolls did you have maximum


What is the craziest or most imaginative food preparation you came up during this time 


What was your daily routine like 


Did you days of discouragement, fear, depression 


Did you care for an elder parent, neighbor, friend 


If you were the PRESIDENT in your country, what would you have done different


Who would you characterize as a successful leader(s) during the pandemic and why 


How did you help/contribute during pandemic, who benefited 


Are you planning to do anything different once shelter in place orders have been lifted 


What brought you most comfort ? Cooking, Music, Silence, Prayers, Reading, NetFlix, Arts, Crafts, Exercise, Gardening, Dancing, Being Healthy, Fill in the Blank 



Did you learn new crafts 


Did you learn new games 


What is your favorite new app on your phone 


What were your consistent sources of news 


What were your go to sources for encouragement and sanity


Did you implement new activities into your daily routine 


Did you create any works of art / crafts 


Did you go outdoors ?   Where, what did you do 


Did you Zoom Conference Call ? With who, Why 


Did you read books that you can recommend, movies 


How do you expect your life will be different after sheltering in place orders are lifted ? 
In a month, by December 2020, a year from now in 2021


Did you cancel travel plans 


If you could title a book about your own Pandemic Experience, what is the title 


If the pandemic were a color ? What color would it be for you, why 


If you could associate only ONE WORD with your pandemic experience, what would that word be and why ? 


Who is your Pandemic Hero(s) and why ? 


Did you have a Pandemic Prayer ? Can you share 



If you could interview one person with regards to their pandemic experience 
who would you interview ? Why



If you had one superpower that you could active during the pandemic, what would
that power be 


Do you think the virus came from a wet market in Wuhan China 


Or was the virus released from a Biomedical lab in Wuhan China 


If you could create one film documentary on the pandemic, what would you consider as the most compelling subject or topic for your film ?


What is the most basic change in your thinking because of the pandemic, what are you sure of now going forward that you had never considered before