Hi everyone. I was on a COVID hiatus during the spring and summer, but I am back to posting.
I hope you were all well and managed to avoid the virus as it has wreaked havoc with so many people, including my son, who lives in New York City. Thankfully, he successfully battled the virus and is doing so much better.
The cute graphic up top is an illustration of the varied shades of Latino’s or Latinx children. More so than in my generation, children are multi-ethnic, bi-racial, or multi-racial as my children are and several in our extended families.
Stories by Latinx are not only about one or two subjects, just like Latinx people are not one ‘type,’ but this rich heritage is often not reflected in the written language of children’s books or adult books for that matter.
There is a concept in education called “Windows and Mirrors.” A mirror is a story that reflects your own culture and helps you build your identity. A window is a resource that offers you a view of someone else’s experience.
When students read books where they see characters like themselves who are valued in the world, they feel a sense of belonging. Rudine Sims Bishop
This fact motivated several writers, authors, editors, illustrators, and others in the publishing arena to increase and publicize the stories they have to tell.
I belong to one such group, LatinxPitch, modeled after the Twitter groups, PitchMad and DVPit. I’m a co-founder of LatinxPitch, along with eleven other authors.
There are so many good things happening in the world of increasing representation in children’s literature. I hope you check out the article and descriptions of picture books, middle grade, and Young Adult literature that is highlighted.
In early December, there will be an online Latinx Kidlit Book Festival.
Keep the list of children’s books handy for the holidays or to request from your local library.
This is day eleven of my self imposed “Stay at Home,” routine and day five of the California Governor’s decree.
How are you all doing?
Amid the humorous and not so funny memes and photos, I came across the above message, which gave me pause to reflect.
My mother is in her 90’s. Practicing self-isolation, I don’t visit, but I phone and ask her how she’s doing.
“Oh, fine.” She then goes on to talk about her “normal for her” ailments of age.
I talk to my sister, who lives with Mom, and ask, “How’s Mom doing?”
“She’s like nothing’s different, no big deal.”
I realize Mom is in a different situation than most elderly. She has a family member living with her who takes care of cooking, cleaning, and her medication. The other family members live within the county and take care of appointments, excursions, and visiting.
Many other elderly are not as fortunate.
Mom and I got to talking about her experiences with difficult times. She was born during the depression and was a pre-teen during World War II, which she remembers clearly.
Orphaned a year before war broke out, Mom was one of five children, second to the last. The youngest nine and the oldest seventeen.
This is one of the stories Mom related:
In the post office, there were giant posters of an Army woman, with a finger to her lips, with the caption “Shhh, be careful what you say because it may cost a life,” and “Loose lips sink ships.”
Newspaper headlines reported that a Japanese submarine fired on a boat off the coast of Santa Barbara.Another paper headline said “LA Area Raided!”There were rumors that Los Angeles had come under Japanese attack with airplane fire and bombs.
Your Uncle Cata enlisted in the Army. He had quit school when he was in the 9th grade, so he could work to support us when our parents died.
Lute was fifteen, but he worked at two jobs, which kept him out at night. He tried to enlist, but he wasn’t accepted.He had injuries from playing football and was called a 4-F.He was so disappointed; he moped around the house for days, but I was glad he wasn’t going, because then who would take care of us?
Sometimes I was frightened, mostly in the evenings when Lute was gone to work. I had nightmares about the Japanese bombing Pomona, especially when the practice air-raid siren would blast its earsplitting alarm.
Walking up and down the street, the neighborhood air raid warden moved his flashlight around our dark yard, the light darting across our rickety wood fence and up and down our fruit trees, like ghosts running back and forth.
Della and I would turn off the radio, the lights and cover the windows with blankets. We’d run through the darkness and hide under our bedcovers, hugging each other, sweating in the summer heat, when the warning siren blasted into the night.
How I wanted to have my mother and father, to wrap their arms around us and tell us that everything would be okay; that we weren’t going to be bombed and that they would protect us and we would be safe, like before the war.
But I knew that wouldn’t happen. They were dead. My dad for four years, my mom for one.
So I held my tears in and tried to be brave for my little sister.I told her everything was going to be okay, even though I didn’t feel like it was the truth. It was a very lonely and scary time.
This saddened me, because I know life can be so much worse. I thought about the kids in the same situation, those in detention centers, those without caring parents or siblings to protect them, and sad for any person who is isolated without anyone to help.
I think about what others are doing, the medical staff, first responders, educators, my son who stocks groceries and prepares food at a Brooklyn natural foods store, my daughter who works in a doctor’s office, and my other son whose factory is now making hand sanitizer.
I worry that they could catch the COVID19 virus by taking the subway to work, although it’s desolate now, or coming into contact with others at their worksites.
But Mom’s story also reminded me to continue to record all of her recollections. If you haven’t put your parent’s experiences onto the page, or computer, now’s a good time. Organize those old photos, tell their stories to your children, tell your stories to your kids. Now’s the time.
Thanks for reading. Now, I’ll return to the routine I’ve set up for myself. My “Artist in Residence” schedule.
Prayer, meditation, writing, reading, exercise, gardening, meal preparation, phoning others, thirty minutes of news and social media, a couple of hours of T.V (you know I’m lying, it’s sometimes more) and back to prayer.
Church services were canceled by our Pastor due to our Governor’s decree of no more than 250 people in one area. My mom is in the elderly group (and immunocompromised), so I do take this virus seriously and skipped services.
So this weekend (and probably a few more in the immediate future), I find myself with time on my hands.
Due to our self imposed social isolation and no toilet paper to buy in the markets or online, we are now doing non-social activities, at least until the TP runs out.
Update: bartered books for rolls. Surreptitiously, I picked up, with an antiseptic wipe, the bag of TP my friend left for me on her porch. I left her and her kids several books.
Our pantry is now organized and clean. I found out we have oatmeal for the next decade. We found most of the Tupperware lids. I don’t know why we have three picnic baskets.
Our cat, Heidi Ho, is mystified that I’m home and pulling weeds in the backyard on a Sunday. The ground is still damp from the rain, but I need some outside activity.
Here’s the latest decree in California:
So much for Happy Hours. We have a burgeoning brewpub industry here. I heard the local pizza place delivers wine and beer.
Last week I returned from the AWP (Association of Writing Professionals) Conference in San Antonio and scored a few books. That and NetGalley will keep me in reading material for a month, plus I’m two books behind on my self-imposed book challenge. (You can find my reviews on GoodReads if you’re looking for a book).
Writing in this time of anxiety has turned out to be a good thing. Writing helps me turn away from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which some people are using to post pics of empty store shelves, stoking rumors, and generally acting out their anxieties-which creates fear.
Understandable, but I need to self-restrict from all things panicky. I do like the memes, though. Humor is a good salve and coping mechanism.
If you’re working from home:
May I offer meditation for those who feel stressed. Hop over to my friend, Mikko’s page at Elemental Energy Healing, for grounding exercises.
My favorite reminder:
What are you doing during this time of social isolation?
San Antonio, Texas, the land of ma’am, terrific tacos, Chicana literature, and Nora Jones.
I’m here for a writing conference, which ended yesterday.
The place where I’m staying called me back to the neighborhood of my childhood.
Wood houses with peeling paint, chain link fences, front yards of abundant flowers, blossoming succulents. Stucco homes of bright green, azure, yellow and old white guarded by courageous dogs, barking their heads off, but tails wagging. The sleeping cat lifted her head when the man selling paletas jingled by.
After a few days of workshops, I needed alone time, so I spent the morning walking the San Antonio River (the non-restaurant row part). There are 15 miles of RiverWalk, from downtown through Hemisphere Park, and through several neighborhoods, should you care to take on the whole adventure.
Gentrification is around the block, across the train tracks, where the ten-story apartment buildings begin and Airstream trailers sell bar-b-que, tacos, and cold beer under a rainbow of stringed light bulbs. Breweries take up full blocks buffered by outdoor cafes.
The walking path along the San Antonio River is rimmed with Cypress trees, duck marshes, leased dogs, stately homes, and from time to time, the sight of an older man fishing off the ledge.
“There’s still catfish, bass, and gizzard shad,” the man tells me when I stop to see where his fishing line landed. I nod, wish him good luck, and good eating.
Cool wind pushes along marshmallow clouds, giving a respite from a warming sun. A passel of joggers run by me. “Run the Alamo Marathon” began twenty-three miles back.
Two men, one in front of the other, sing out a call and response in cadence, encouraging one another for the last mile. Two women in their fifties, who look like sisters, hold hands, one slightly in front of the other who is flushed red, but wears a face of granite determination and trust. They jog almost shoulder to shoulder. Their whispered cadence call is for them alone.
A “Do not feed the ducks” sign is posted by a toddler throwing bits of saltines in the water. Soon there is a duck fight among the reeds, where the mallards flap, circle, and honk until one dives underwater and upends his opponent.
Sugar aromas of Belgian waffles drift by. A large Art Nouveau house, turned restaurant, looms into view. The library now houses a museum of Dresden china, gas-lit chandeliers, and original 1920’s memorabilia.
Hunger won out after mile three. I bypassed the colossal restaurant and explored a much smaller venue where I had more coffee, veggie scramble, homemade bread, and jam.
Music from nearby DJ’s played, the sun broke through the clouds again, and I rested.