Family

CoVID19 and War Stories

grandp
This is not meant to minimize any pain or isolation anxiety you may be experiencing

 

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.

Writer’s and Creatives

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.

Be safe. Stay at home. Be Kind. Wash Your Hands.

 

 

 

 

Revision

Peaches and Preparing the Grid to be Ready

Babcock peaches

It started with a peach tree.

My tree is a dwarf second-year tree that I thought wouldn’t give many peaches especially since my mother said I didn’t ‘cull’ the tree months before.

What do I know of culling? I grew up in housing projects of concrete and asphalt for a backyard. We did have one spindly tree in the front shared patch of lawn.

But, Mom knew about culling (thinning the fruit from the tree) because she spent her first sixteen years as a migrant farm worker. Mom taught me more than that though from her hard work.

Culling my pretty peach tree sounded cruel but I found out it was necessary so I wouldn’t have dropped fruit or small peaches like this photo of my tree.

Dwarf peach tree-unculled

This process of culling is a lot like writing and revision.

The tree surprised me with the abundance of white Babcock peaches. So many, I made my first ever peach ‘nice’ cream (vegan ice cream) and two peach cobblers. I still need to work on those recipes though. I got a tasty product but the ‘nice’ cream could have been smoother and the cobbler topping flakier. Hey, again, this is much like writing: revising and rewriting until the piece is right.

Besides my love affair with my peach tree, I also received good news. The anthology which accepted one of my short stories was published. The book is now on tour in Chile, Spain, Argentina, and Mexico. The publisher is the University of Nevada and is not out for general sale, yet.

¡Basta!

I’ve spent most of July revising another manuscript and sending it off to be line edited. After that headache, I haven’t done much writing.

Instead, I’ve spent hours in the garden, visiting museums, working out at the gym, reading, practicing meditation with Deepak Chopra and Oprah (Desire and Destiny, online), and planning my September vacation (London!).

July turned out to be a period of self-care and “preparing the grid.” This means to create a vibrational focus.

My friend, Florencia, quotes Abraham-Hicks on preparing the grid or getting ready. This is similar to manifesting done through meditation. If you don’t know who or what is Abraham-Hicks, click here.

This quote seems to sum up July pretty well.

Your work is to be ready for what’s ready. Abraham Hicks

When I think of the quote I realize that July has been a month of culling, picking, chilling, fun and letting go.

Are you ready?

Health, Inspiration, poetry, Revision, Self Care, Staycations

A Bargain Way to Refresh, Renew, and Revive Yourself

Bridge on Chumash Trail, Santa Barbara

Hello,

I’ve been in the midst of digesting an editorial letter on a manuscript I sent in for editing. The information was a lot to process and there’s a ton of work in front of me. I’ve felt overwhelmed with the task of rewriting and revision.

Feeling overwhelmed happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s the kids, or bills, or relatives, or your job and sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

Whenever I feel my mind swamped, I need to step back, for my own sanity.

June is a good month to reinvigorate and revitalize.

Some people can’t take a costly vacation so Staycations are good ways to do something different as well as refresh yourself.

This month, I found a few ways to relax:

One Saturday was Global Wellness Day. The Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara offered free classes all day:

Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA
The Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA

Meditation on the bluff, yoga, Tai Chi, and Brazilian Capoeira. Not that I did the Capoeira. A highlight of the day was also receiving a reduced price for the spa day pass to use the pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and serenity room filled with teas, fruit, nuts, and cushy sofas.

Meditation by the beach, Santa Barbara, CA
Meditation by the beach, Santa Barbara, CA

A walk on the beach helped me to further relax.

Matilija Poppies, Santa Barbara, CA
Matilija Poppies, Santa Barbara, CA

Another day, I used a Christmas gift coupon I hadn’t made time for. This is the Salt Caves in Santa Barbara.

Himalayan Salt Caves, Santa Barbara, CA

The caves are made from 45 tons of 250 million-year-old pure Himalayan salt. We took off our shoes, entered the darkened cave and reclined on comfortable chairs. Meditation music is piped in for forty-five minutes. The salt is said to stimulate wellness and healing. Blissful.

The next week, I retired to my backyard and took in the colors of the garden, the sounds of birds, smelled the roses and felt reflective. I jotted down a poem.

statue of boy reading
Reading in the Garden

Hover of beating wings flit between blossoms

Flutters of orange dance above purple sage

Bumblebees disappear into white throats of lilies

Gardens, never silent, ever hopeful

Butterfly Dance in the Garden.

 

yellow poppies
Mariposa poppies

After these mini-retreats I feel uplifted and ready to tackle the edit letter and line edits. My mind is refreshed and I’m “ever hopeful.”

Have you taken a staycation this month?

See you in July!

poetry

How Hiking Clears The Mind For Poetry

Anacapa Island, Channel Islands, Ventura, CA View from Hills
Anacapa Island, Channel Islands, Ventura, CA View from Hills

The urge to lace up my hiking shoes, tight, to explore, to rid myself of unbalance drove me to the hills. During the hike my mind cleared and I thought of poetry.

I usually keep a small notebook with me and jotted some lines down whenever I took a break. After the hike, I felt the weight of current events fall away, my shoulders relaxed, my mood lightened. I can tackle another week.

Each photograph inspired a poem:

 

Trails layered themselves, invited me up, to clearer air, brighter vistas.

The glassy blue ocean behind me, the zig zag paths lie before me,

behind me an ocean breeze, a snap of frigid air.

Trees appear sprouting limbs, haphazard grasps for sky.

I need to see those trees, sun myself on the fallen log nearby.

 

anacapa-isl

 

Rocks tumble beneath my feet, pebbles slide, until I reach the pinnacle.

Handkerchief sails make their way to Chumash lands,

ancient islands, ridges of a dinosaur back submerged in the ocean.

Glossy ravens, red speckled beetles,

a hawk circles on a parasail of feathers above.

 

Rock People Gather, Grant Park, Ventura, CA
Rock People Gather, Grant Park, Ventura, CA

Rock people gather in homage to the sea.

Remind me of balance even with sharp edges on round surfaces,

the seemingly impossible, possible

A march of all sizes,

hues of cream, ochre, umber

in one direction.

 

 

nopal-heart-with-tunas
Nopal Heart with Tunas

 

 

Spiky barbs,

alarming, dangerous,

a heart symbol

dotted with strawberry tunas.

The end of the trail meets me with love.

 

 

Do you enjoy hiking?