Saturday, December 18, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
As a librarian and a dedicated believer in the First Amendment, I was happy and pleased. And then, I began to think about what it meant to have my children read books that others thought were damaging. What if I was wrong? What if reading those books had damaged them in some way?
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
If I had to characterize my college years in terms of music, there are only three words: jazz and blues! It was marvelous! There was one student, a white boy who had deferred his admission so he could travel through the south to learn true blues piano! He was awesome. Then there a black student, who refused to wear shoes until graduation (yes, I mean even in winter) who played the most awesome acoustic bass. We had players of all instruments who would gather together to jam in the chapel.
Wesleyan also had its own radio station and that was my public entry. Taught by the one person who had the smoothest voice we all knew on radio, Charlie D [Charles Deramus], I became “Lady Lee” and played smooth jazz in the late night hours. This is in the age of vinyl and cassette. I learned all about the ladies I knew from my childhood and beyond: Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughn, Miriam Mekeba, Chaka Khan, Dinah Washington, and more than anyone else, Billie Holiday.
At parties, it was Earth Wind, and Fire; Chicago; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; Carole King; Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes; Led Zeppelin; Steely Dan; David Bowie; The Eagles; and so many others. Plus, Wesleyan developed a degree in Ethnomusicology, so we attended concerts by Indian drummers; Pakistani groups; and a number of African groups since we had an exchange program with Tanzania.
I remember attending a concert with Isaac Hayes where Grace Jones performed. Also, a concert at Yale, where Miles Davis played two songs and walked off the stage, throwing his instrument on the floor. But I must admit to crushes on Freddy Hubbard and Ron Carter (who is the featured picture).
But my most memorable experience occurred during my last years in college. I was 21 and my baby brother was having his 16th birthday. I bought him tickets to Shea Stadium (he was into baseball and Shea was brand new). I went home to bring him the tickets and told him to take his best friend with him. He said, “Well, when are we going?” It was then I learned how he had abandoned heavy metal and gotten seriously into jazz. Plus, it was the best baseball game in the world. Oh, yeah, the Mets lost, but I had eight hot dogs with my brother!
Friday, March 19, 2010
This came home to me when my best friend and I decided to take her dog, which the girls referred to as “Jack-Dog-Dog”, and the girls out to her cabin near the river for a nice outing. Spring was on its way and, while a bit cool, the day was sunny and bright. Shelley and I gathered up some lunch items, put everyone in the truck, and headed out to her wonderfully homey cabin off the Nome River.
At the cabin, we proceeded to do some preparation for the coming of “cabin” [aka summer] weather: shoveling the walkway, unloading pellets for the stove, dusting and cleaning. Jack, her black Labrador, was happy to be in the wild and just ran around, letting the girls chase him, checking out every little hole in the tundra, and generally feeling good. Somewhere around noon, we called everyone in and asked what we should have for lunch. Shelley said, “Well, why don’t have some hot dogs?” I chimed in and said, “Yeah, hot dogs would be good, don’t you think girls?”
My daughters, then perhaps 4 years and 2 years, suddenly looked stricken. “Hot dogs?” Shelly and I happily said yes. The girls looked at each other and said, “Hot dogs? Jack-Dog-Dog? No, Momma, no! We don’t want to eat Jack-Dog-Dog!”
Amidst a few tears and a great deal of explanation, we explained the difference and had a lovely lunch, feeding Jack-Dog-Dog some of the hot dogs.
The worst part of this is that was also the day we lost Jack. We think he must have gone off chasing some of the reindeer that were being domesticated as a food source for Nome. The reindeer herder had already warned that if he found dogs chasing his reindeer, he would shoot them. We went home that night, after having our hot dogs, with no Jack-Dog-Dog.
Jack, we still remember the joy your brought to our lives.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I became aware of the Viet Nam War. I discovered boys. I discovered poverty. I took weekly accordion lessons. I found the library was the best place to be other than home. I played these songs as I sewed all my own clothes and learned to knit and crochet. I figured out I would never look like Twiggy. Alone, I would go to the movies for the Saturday matinee featuring my television idols, Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, Sandra Dee, Connie Francis, Haylee Mills, and admittedly, Shirley Temple (would I ever look like these girls? I don’t think so.).
In my house there was also “The Mitch Miller Show”, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Leslie Uggams, Sam and Dave, Frank Sinatra, Otis Redding, the annual Christmas specials by any number of songsters. At school, there were The Temptations, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Simon and Garfunkel, Bobby Vinton, Mamas and the Papas, Dylan, Baez, and many more. I discovered music that seemed to accurately reflect my sadness, my adolescent angst, and could also make me dance with joy. I started dealing with death, bullying, and feeling like an outsider. But I also had “All in the Family” and more shows involving people who looked like me. It was definitely a time of interest.
I also had a “baby” brother who had to deal with not only our father’s death, but the deaths of many of our closest relatives, and a mother who had her own issues. Once, my mother made me take my brother to my regular Saturday matinee trips. I took him to see “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte”. He hasn’t forgiven me to this day.
I’m sorry, Brother Mine. But it is said I have “Bette Davis Eyes”.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Mau, an island boy, has just completed his rite of passage to adulthood by being sent to a separate island for his final test of endurance. As he is taking his canoe back to his home, anticipating the wonderful ceremony which will greet him as a man, a tsunami occurs. Daphne, a proper English girl of similar age, is on her way to meet her father when the ship on which she sails is also caught in this natural phenomenon. When the two meet on Mau’s home island, they must find ways to communicate cooperate and collaborate in order to survive. They are soon joined by refugees from other islands, as well as from the British ships. Each must cope with not only the problems of building a functioning community, but their individual cultural, moral, spiritual, and societal systems and beliefs.
My recommendation for this work of art has multiple facets. For parents, who either want to introduce issues related to science, culture, social structures, and belief systems, or whose children may be entertaining such questions, reading Nation and then recommending it to your children could open communication doors. This book does illustrate how true believers can question their values; that questioning will lead to a period of discomfort and doubt; how such a process is not “weird” and is fairly common for people, especially when individuals are confronted with contradictions. Most importantly, the book clearly illustrates that such periods of questioning and discomfort are not everlasting. There are interesting issues of intergenerational relations, respect, cooperation and collaboration, tolerance, leadership, bravery and courage, and what it means to believe in one’s self.
Thank you, Terry Pratchett, for this wonderful piece of writing.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Of course, the girls were all “courting” as I went through childhood. Silhouettes on the Shade reminds me of Brenda; anything by Harry Belafonte and Johnny Mathis reminds me of Loretta; and all doo wop brings memories of Brother on our front porch with his buddies harmonizing away. I remember my sisters’ crush on Frankie Lymon (picture is from Wikipedia) and their devastation when he died.
My mother and father loved blues, R&B, jazz, and the classic torch songs. From them, and my uncle Peter who was an acoustic bass player, I have not only audio but some physical memories of Pearl Bailey (her chest was the most comfortable place for a young child’s head), Eartha Kitt, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McCrae (her voice still gives me chills), and Lena Horne (her chest was way too, uh, bony. My mother’s family gave me spiritual hymns and my father’s family gave me the cha-cha and the meringue.
Once the older kids were basically out of the picture, my father gave me the big bands, the fox-trot, lindy, waltz, the two-step, and what is now called “the quick step”. Thanks Daddy.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Of course, any iPod’er realizes immediately the benefit of having all of their music at their beck and call – as well as the ability to forego music stores in search of CDs (and putting up with the really loud music that now seems to be the accepted ambiance of such environments). A major benefit of the classic iPod is not just its 30 gig storage lies its ability to be adaptable to the other iPod changes, such as accommodating video media. But for me the beauty of the iPod lies in its downloading Podcasts and audio books.
I have always loved radio. To me, there is nothing like listening to the spoken word, and even more specifically the reading of the written word. I am old enough to remember evenings with my family, especially my grandmother, listening to the radio. I remember how excited I was, when visiting my sister in France, in 1966, that the radio carried the old time radio shows like Superman and The Green Hornet. And then there were all those nights my sisters read me to sleep.
In this age of technology, the human voice has a special place. I find it in the amazing Podcasts put on the Internet, as well as the electronic books I can download for a price or from my local library. Of course, nothing can take the place of talking to my sister, brothers, my daughters, my partners, and my friends. They are always better than radio.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
My daughters, Liana Rose and Löki Gale, have realized that regardless of what Mom said, it was not about what I did, but what I said; and so they are true movers. Liana has just run a marathon and Löki has found ways to run even in a country that is primarily Muslim and does not condone women in exercise clothes.
The best part is given my current doctors’ advice (yes, we are talking multiple doctors), these two girls have been helpful in getting their mother excited about moving. The lucky part, Liana’s undergraduate degree was in preparation for her continued work as a physical therapist; plus she is a certified masseuse; and is working towards becoming a personal trainer. The best advice she gave me is to have a goal and find a workout buddy. It is a joy to have someone to provide and give support while we work through accommodating our particular life situations to insuring we take time to be healthy.
My goal is to complete the three-mile Walk to Empower to be held in Miami on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010. My workout buddy is my cousin, Ghana Imani, who lives in New Jersey, writes to me regularly and is working for her own personal goal. The process of working towards our individual goals involve regular walking and exercise, while we maintain contact and support each other every day to make sure we complete our daily exercise and emotional needs.
My monetary goal for the walk is $100.00. If you are interested in supporting Team BPP go to http://walk.networkofstrength.org/ where you can become a virtual walker or donate online directly to my team. If you do so, be sure that you have my everlasting thanks.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
December 15th was my cigarette quit date, and so far, so, well, so, so. I had already started to develop an exercise regiment with Pedro Cruz Rios, my personal trainer here in Miami. My logic was based on my [youthful] vision of my past when exercise meant I would not smoke. Here is where we get to the truthful part. Today is only five days since my quit date, and I’m finding the being true a bit tough.
Why did I pick a date before the holidays, when I know I’m inclined to feel down? Was I deliberately setting myself up for failure? One cigarette isn’t really cheating, is it? If I walk an extra fifteen minutes, will that make up for it? Oh, and I also decided to keep a food diary. If you think you are truly honest with yourself, try keeping a food diary.
At this time of year we need to remember no one is perfect. Okay, I need to remember no one is perfect; in fact, I need to remember that none of us can reach perfection; and striving for perfection can have dire consequences. In fact, the drive for perfection can, well, to be honest, drive you crazy.
Well, then, in the interest of being truthful with myself, maybe I can delay my quit date just a couple more weeks. Honest. Cross my heart and hope . . . well, you know.
[Image from: www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/bt1_37.htm ]