Sunday, April 11, 2021

SO CAL -- PATIENCE -- VISITOR -- POST VIRUS

SO CAL DROUGHT & ENVIRONMENT

Our rainy season is past, and we didn't get enough of those moist drops from the sky to fill our reservoirs or snow to build deep packs for summer melting into mountain streams and rivers.   Californians are being told we are definitely in a drought.   Forest fires may well be an exceptional risk.  There reportedly is sufficient water to meet our needs through the coming year and the next one despite the low reservoir levels.  I wonder if any special water conservation measures will become necessary?

I've not incurred the expense of converting my yard to desert landscaping, especially after having to repair a corner of my concrete block back wall's separation caused by pressures from my neighbor's leaning wall.  Our city regulator's inspected and allowed me to separate his wall from mine so I won't encounter this issue in the future.

Meanwhile, I just received notice that our trash/recycle/sewer/street sweeping rates are increasing 12%.  We're told other cities across the country will be having to increase their rates, too, at least by 10%.  Eventually we may have to sort our trash for separate disposal of food waste which will be composted.  This is all an effort to compensate for dwindling land-fill sites and control where the majority of man-made methane gas is emitted which contributes to smog.  We have 3 bins now for weekly pickup -- trash, recycle (paper, cardboard boxes), greenery for compost.

PATIENCE ... Patience ... patience !

These are the words I said so many times to so many of my different patients when I provided all sorts of communication rehabilitation in speech-language-hearing-voicing-cogniltive and swallowing due to a variety of causes.   Patience -- a word easier said then practiced as I focus now on doing what I preach.

I'm finally reconciled to the fact my physical activity has slowed a bit from what I hoped might never occur, or expected at the very least not until I was older than my present eighth decade.  I may engage in physical therapy again, but my once-expected gains are being limited.  I ponder if surgery is warranted with benefits outweighing potential deficits.

Pain with movement experienced the past several years has significantly lessened but is not eliminated.  I recently read a report that redheads have a high tolerance level for pain.    I can attest to the truth of that for me, surprising even some medical people I've encountered.  

It does get tiresome having to spend more time than I had been accustomed to, just doing ordinary activities.  Also annoying are limitations even engaging in some activities.  I've been trying to wait out the pandemic before seeking some much-needed assistance here.

UNEXPECTED VISITOR

California's Western Scrub-Jay looks somewhat like a Blue Jay, "are bigger and longer than bluebirds"; have lots of "attitude" as described at Audubon.org.  in an article with photos by Garrison Frost, "Ten Birds Every Californian Should Know".  This handsome blue bird with a splotch of reddish-brown feathers has been flitting between the large leaves through the lower levels of my Bird of Paradise just outside my living room window that looks out onto my back yard.  This is the first time since we've lived here that I've observed this particular bird species in my yard visiting every afternoon for several days this past week though it's described to be common here.

The other day the Scrub-Jay finally came to the window, apparently attracted these several days by the perpetual motion of mini-solar powered figures sitting on the inside windowsill.  One realistic-looking figure appears to be a large bee hovering with rapid wing movement over colorful flowers.  Touching the window glass gently with his beak, the blue bird soon discovered penetration was restricted, keeping him from reaching that fake insect.

Apparently not completely discouraged, the Scrub-Jay then hopped further down the window out of my sight.  I soon heard pecking sounds which was obviously the bird determined to find a way inside to get to that tasty-looking bug.  Scrub-Jay quickly discerned entry was a futile effort there, too, and flew away.  Fortunately, my window is dirty enough the bird hadn't mistakenly flown into it, unlike a small bird I noticed one year repeatedly butting against a then clearer window.   I miss seeing Scrub-Jay and wonder if he will return another day but hasn't so far.

POST PANDEMIC

Now that -- presumably, going out in the world is safer for those of us who have our vaccinations, if we've waited the two weeks following the injections(s) for antibodies to fully develop in our system -- I don't feel any real drive to do so.   We have yet to see the full effect of variants.  I haven't set foot in a store or restaurant for over a year.  I've grown accustomed to ordering more items online and having other deliveries.

I rather like making pick-ups at grocery stores, other businesses, various restaurants and drive-thrus.  I hope some of these services continue after the pandemic is in our past -- assuming it will be eventually.  Perhaps I will evolve into using more of a mix of such conveniences than I've used in the past.  I wonder if others may alter their future shopping routines, too, from past patterns before this pandemic?



Sunday, April 04, 2021

DOLDRUMS -- BIRD LANGUAGE -- QUESTIONS

DOLDRUMS 

Have these coronavirus days brought on the doldrums for me?  Doldrums are described in Google quotes as "a state or period of inactivIty, stagnation -- a spell of listlessness or despondency, blues -- a state of bafflement, quandary".

I think of being in the doldrums as less than being depressed -- perhaps just a matter of degree.  I'm wondering if that might describe my state of being?  One of the manifesting symptoms for me is I haven't been blogging as much.  My sleep patterns have been topsy turvy, but is that because I'm in the doldrums or am I in the doldrums because of my sleeping issues?

Also, I wonder has the vagrant continuing to periodically violate my property I've previously written about here triggered my subconscious self to heightened alertness levels upsetting my sleep?  Even though consciously I am not fretting about possible concerns given my security measures, has this ultimately evolved into my developing the doldrums?  I am baffled and in a quandary.  I'm not sure how these doldrums have come about, but does it matter?

Incidentally, did you know "doldrums" is actually a variable place?  "An equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds."  That describes the range and variability of my feelings.

"The Intertropical Convergence Zone, known by sailors as the doldrums or the calms because of its monotonous windless weather, is the area where the northeast and the southeast trade winds converge.  It encircles Earth near the thermal equator though its specific position varies seasonally".  Wikipedia

"Monotonous" is how I might describe what some days have become despite my weakened efforts to inject variation into them.  Maybe monotonous leads to the doldrums.  Whadda ya think?  Whatever!

Perhaps this is how the coronavirus confinement has taken a toll on me.  I will make an effort to counteract that effect by maintaining a more regular sleep schedule to dispense with this perpetual tiredness I feel during daylight hours until the sun goes down.  I think, too, I will engage in some more regular indoor exercise routines I can maintain throughout our expected outdoors summer heat.  Maybe that will be rejuvenating.  

Life didn't seem to have these complicated feelings in previous years.  On second thought, I guess the feelings were complex -- just with different complicating factors in each decade of my life.  I ponder -- are these reverse sleep patterns, altered energy levels,  issues characteristic of the aged?

BIRD LANGUAGE

I previously introduced Allen's Hummingbird, petite iridescent green feathered Emerald,  referred to by some in chat as "Em" or "Emmie".  Her second clutch of 2 eggs this year hatched this past week as expected.   You may view the nestlings at this live feed: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3HDROQc2eU

Hummingbird Spot live video Allen's Hummingbird.                                                                       

(No infringement on copyright intended per Creative Commons.)

Reflecting on why I find this bird world activity appealing, perhaps this is to compensate for the disappointment I felt when this year's Big Bear Bald Eagles clutch failed for the second consecutive year to produce living eaglets to fledge and join the wildlife world.

Seems not what might be expected -- the large strong eagles having such difficulty producing surviving offspring -- the tiny fragile-looking hummingbirds producing more than one clutch of nestlings to successfully fledge each year.

Incidentally, I notice different language is used in YouTube chat discussion of these opposite in size bird species.  Maybe it's simply a matter of academic versus laymen verbiage.  The Bald Eagle folks awaiting eggs to hatch refer to that process as a "Pip Watch".  Pip referred to the eaglets making that first shell break to eventually hatch, often emerging over a long period of time, from inside their egg.

The hummingbird folks are writing about a "Hatch Watch".   Those baby birds emerge soon after the first break usually.  For both bird species it's all the same process but having not researched the intricacies of bird life I don't know if there are actually some definite baby bird development differences inside the shell  between the two besides the size of their eggs.

I've wondered if my attraction to periodically visit these birds may well be prompted by my desire to seek feeling the enthusiasms for living that new life brings, whatever our species?

QUESTIONS

Questions seem to occupy my thoughts presently, when I review the topics I wrote about this week.  More questions not mentioned here are also prevalent in my mind, including about my own future.   Do you think about your future?   

I query what is the cause of my doldrums?  Then  I wonder what is attracting me to hatching birds -- the promises that new birth, youth, offer for the future?  They also serve as distractions from the everyday world.  

Do you sometimes find yourself caught up in self-reflection, muddling about in your mind about what you do and wondering why?  Maybe it's the isolation from others that brings this on.  Are you attracted to seeking positive offerings and life-affirming promises for the future?  A good dose of humor usually enters into this mix for me, too.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

AGING -- RACISM -- CONTRASTING BIRDS

BIG BEAR BALD EAGLES UPDATE from Friends of Big Bear report the remaining egg has passed the expected time frame during which a hatching would usually occur.   The first egg did begin to hatch but then circumstances resulted in the eaglet not surviving.   So, another unsuccessful season has passed with no new eaglets.  This is the live cam link on the nest where the eagles continue incubating this last egg though it seems unlikely it will hatch.

Coincidentally, while periodically checking on the bald eagles activities I happened on to a live video of a hummingbird nest in Thousand Oaks, a community west of where I live.  I thought it was an interesting contrast comparing the eagles size, their eggs, and that of this Allen's Hummingbird named Emerald.  This iridescent green hummingbird's two eggs are expected to hatch around the first of April for any who might be interested and can be viewed at this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3HDROQc2eU.

This is Emerald's second clutch this year having successfully had Ruby and Sapphire fledging in early March.  Unlike the bald eagles she does all the incubating herself and the male parent has no further involvement with the brood.  Reportedly Emerald constructed this nest on a string of Christmas lights and has raised several other clutches in previous years as reported by YouTube's Hummingbird Spot. (No infringement on copyright intended per Creative Commons.)

The soft rock group Seals and Croft from the '70s recorded their tune "Hummingbird".


I am reminded of the hummingbird nest constructed on some lines strung across our patio years ago.  We could easily observe the nest through our patio door and found observing the 2 eggs that later hatched fascinating.  One day when we were all away the little birds apparently fledged.  They likely had to swoop down from the nest to get out from under the patio roof which proved to be to their detriment.  We had, coincidentally, a bird dog in the yard that we had rescued from the pound who must have concluded it was her job to catch these little ones.  We found them long-deceased laying on our patio when we returned which was heart-breaking.

AGING & RACISM

Aging issues present themselves in a variety of ways.  I feel quite alarmed at news reports of older people being attacked and harmed for no known reason other than they were old and presumed to be less able to repel their attacker.  Some attackers have discovered the hard way the error of their presumption and found themselves detained, even injured, also jailed for their crime.  Other elders have not been so lucky. This enters my thoughts since security issues have come to my attention recently,  resulting in my instituting some additional precautionary safety measures.

Additionally, I've been especially appalled by news reports of how many assault crimes are being reported against Asians of all ages, including older people.   Racism against Asians is much more prevalent than I knew -- less common in some parts of our country than other areas I once thought.  

I do recall the adopted Asian daughter of a friend reporting her first encounter with discrimination after her family moved to Colorado twenty years ago from our SoCal area when she was high school age.   I never imagined she would encounter racist attitudes there.   She was physically attractive, personable, intelligent.  I thought it incredible any others could disregard her kind, good-nature, delightful sense of humor, loving manner.   My heart ached she and any others could encounter that sort of discriminatory  attitude.  

Years later another friend, a young adopted person of Mexican heritage with golden brown colored skin was subjected to much more frequent law enforcement stops than his caucasian brother their parents noted.    My black professional colleague told me of being stopped much too frequently when he jogged.  All of this dispels any idea my state is immune to discrimination though I'd like to believe we have fewer bigots than some other areas of our country.   

Racisms's overt expressions increasingly surfaced the past four years, seeming to have been validated as acceptable attitudes prompting unacceptable behaviors encouraged by the language of our previous President.   We cannot discount the possibility that several groups engaged in discriminatory acts are dedicated to fomenting violence in our country, trying to incite a race war.   Fomenting these behaviors serves to undermine our democracy inciting seditious acts in the effort to convert our government to an autocracy.  

I wonder if the day will come when racism, discrimination cease to exist, or will there always be people who are racist and discriminate against others?   Perhaps that must be a rhetorical question given human nature and the most we can hope is to reduce the numbers with such beliefs to insignificant levels.   

   

Sunday, March 21, 2021

CATCH UP -- PIP TIME -- SERENDIPITOUS TIMING

CATCH UP

VAC TIME -- Received my 2nd Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination -- I had only a slightly sore arm at the injection site for just a few days.   Neither of my shots caused any objectionable reactions and pain. 

TRESPASSER -- I unexpectedly discovered a discarded blanket on my back patio which I reported to local authorities.  This is a second, possibly third trespassing occurrence of which I have become aware and described here in the previous post.  Police will accelerate their activities in our community I was told.   I'm considering that some additional security may be warranted.

PIP TIME 

Big Bear Bald Eagle 1st egg produced with peeps heard this past week, but the eaglet was unable to complete the hatching process, dying in the shell.

The 2nd egg is now being monitored for pip (first eggshell break), any day now.

Consider that scientist experts report only about 50% of these raptor baby birds usually survive in the wild as we are seeing with these Bald Eagles since I started viewing them in 2019.

Friends of Big Bear Valley (FOBBV) report:                                                                                                    "Due to the extremely high volume, chat will be closed until further notice.  We will post updated recaps of the daily events throughout the day right here".  

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7utMaDb1W08

SERENDIPITOUS TIMING

My recent need to contact local authorities prompted my recollection of an instance when my life might have been changed had my timing been different.

I was in the process of helping my mother to continue living independently in her residence.  She had been legally blind for a number of years.  She had been using large size checks so was able to continue to mostly manage her own finances.  In more recent years her vision had been slightly decreasing so I was gradually assuming more responsibility.  Even then I talked through with her everything I was doing, consulting her for decisions.  Feeling we have control over our lives as much as possible when we get older is very important, I believe, so keeping her involved mattered for reinforcing her positive attitude, confidence and bolstering her morale.   

One particular day there were some business matters to transact so rather than just handling them myself I had arranged that she go with me to the bank.  I drove to her residence, sat down on her sofa and we chatted a bit.  There was no hurry since neither of us had plans until much later in the day.  The longer I sat the more comfortable I became and I just couldn't seem to get started.  For reasons I can't further explain I persisted in just sitting there despite her beginning to become impatient with my delay, first questioning, then much more strongly urging that we get on with our bank business.

Finally, I arose, and we drove to the bank which was only five to ten minutes away.  On entering,  I noticed there were an unusual number of men in dark suits busily moving about in addition to the normally few tellers in this never-very-busy bank branch.  I thought maybe they were having an audit of some sort from my years earlier experience working in a bank elsewhere.  We were the only customers.  We were quite surprised to learn there had been a hold-up not long before and these were FBI agents.  Bank employees said they were relieved there were no customers in the bank at the time and no one was hurt.

After conducting our business, then leaving, Mother and I both marveled that had we gone to the bank earlier instead of my just vegetating on her sofa we would have been customers in the bank, or might even have walked in on the robbery in progress.  Who knows what might have transpired, but even if nothing, I'm very glad we did not have the experience of finding out.

I've reflected on other instances in my life when serendipitous timing might have altered my life's experience or path in other ways -- for better or worse.  

Do you recall any instances when unexpected timing could have made a difference in your life?



Sunday, March 14, 2021

DST RESET -- 2nd VAC -- PIP TIME WATCH

I trust you remembered to move your clock time forward one hour effective Sunday 3/14.  I reset my manual-needing clocks the previous Saturday evening lest I forget as I did one year.  The rest of my clocks automatically reset the time.  Then, we have to turn our clocks back an hour in the fall.  I'm so tired of doing this.

There's hope we can once and for all eliminate even having to think about clock resetting one of these years.  Beginning the necessary process once again, the Sunshine Protection Act has been reintroduced by a bipartisan group of Senators to make daylight savings time permanent as announced in a press release from Florida Senator Mark Rubio.  Never thought I'd be supporting some political action of Sen. Rubio's, but bipartisan legislation is possible as the current presidential administration desires.  

"The bill reflects the Florida legislature's 2018 enactment of year-round DST; however, for Florida's change to apply, a change in the federal statute is required [Congress must first amend the Uniform Time Act] fifteen other states -- Arkansas, Alabama, California, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming -- have passed similar laws, resolutions or voter initiatives, and dozens more are looking."

This bill simply means if passed that we can finally eliminate having to yearly reset our clocks twice a year.  Arizona and Hawaii have long since had one time year 'round.  What is your opinion about adopting DST year 'round?

VACCINATION TIME

My second Pfizer vaccination is scheduled the first of this week.  I'm not expecting any adverse reactions, but like those of us who live alone generally try to prepare for the unexpected, think I'm ready, just in case.

PIP TIME IN BIRDVILLE

We had quite a storm move through our area bringing some much-needed rain below the foothills where I live in northeast Los Angeles County California.  We're still way below our needed rain levels for the year.   Even the mountains above me are covered in snow.  Unfortunately, mud slides occurred in other fire-ravaged areas of Southern California.  Higher mountain elevations east of where I live brought the snow you see in the video below, courtesy of the Friends of Big Bear.  A live camera on the nest 24/7 can be accessed with a click on that link.  

Cali Condor, one of their web site monitors, shares interesting information on this video's web site including "Snow is one of the most amazing insulation materials in nature.  It limits heat exchange.  It stabilizes temperature.  It even muffles sound".  No need to worry about Jackie being cold with her usual 106 F degree body temperature, also.

We see Jackie's partner, Shadow, fly in to share parenting incubating duties while she takes a break, possibly for breakfast and to stretch her wings.  

Though not in this video, but in others a few sunny days earlier, Shadow brought her a large rainbow trout, still alive, for mealtime.  Later that night when she needed to relieve herself a direct PS (poop shot) that hit the camera hood was filmed.  Despite subsequent snow, sleet, the live camera still reveals the slowly diminishing but still obvious remains on the screen.  This is the first time I've known of this to be a potential visual-limiting problem, but am glad it hasn't been an issue before. 

The unwelcome sneaky visitor, Fiona the flying squirrel, periodically continues to attempt to sneak up on the nest, often in the wee hours of the night or morning arousing Jackie's ire, eliciting a few lightning-fast wing slaps.

Unfortunately, West End Catalina Bald Eagles left their nest with three eggs unguarded just at their pip time and Ravens devoured them all this past week.  

Big Bear Ball Eagles Pip time watch begins Monday 3/15 for the two eggs to begin hatching Jackie and Shadow are incubating.   They may not begin to hatch until three days or so later with timing varying.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

GOOD NEWS -- VAC. UPDATE -- VANISHING FIGURE

GOOD NEWS

Emergency assistance for public television and radio stations has been approved by the U. S. Senate for $175 million in the Covid-19 related bill passed in an all-night marathon session this past week.  Amendments to eliminate lifelines to these stations were prevented as Protect My Public Media reports ensuring the "highest quality remote learning services, local reporting and emergency communications."  Public broadcasting has always been highly valued by me but has assumed increased significance these later years of my life, especially during this pandemic.  

The Grand Canyon Protection Act to prevent uranium mining in the area has passed the U.S. Senate following previous passage by the House of Representatives.  This is "part of a package of legislation aimed at protecting wilderness and public lands.  Other provisions include protecting nearly 1.5 million acres of public lands as wilderness and designating more than 1,000 miles of rivers as part of the nation's Wild and Scenic Rivers" azcentral reports.

"A federal judge ... cleared the way for California to enforce its net neutrality law, denying a request by telecommunications providers to delay state rules meant to ensure equal access to internet content" The New York Times recently reported.

Florida voters over two years ago passed an amendment that took effect in 2021 outlawing greyhound dog races I was pleased to read.  This "...could amount to a national death sentence for the century-old U.S. sport", NBC News reported.  "With the state now out of the greyhound-running business, four tracks in three states -- West Virginia, Arkansas and Iowa -- are left still chasing rabbits."

I recall the summer after my high school graduation our multi-state senior trip in  a school bus made an unscheduled stop in Florida before moving on through the state.  Our adult chaperones encouraged us to go to the dog races which strictly speaking given the age of most of us we probably shouldn't have been able to attend.  Some of us objected on the grounds of rejecting this treatment of dogs.  We were able to remain on the bus with a chaperone, spared viewing what we considered to be an inhumane sport while the rest who chose to do so went to the races.   

VACCINATION SYMPTOMS UPDATE

Updating my vaccination experience following my first Pfizer inoculation ... this past week several days after my shot I became aware of experiencing an unusual degree of fatigue.  This tiredness continued a couple days which I think may be attributed to the vaccine as others I know receiving Moderna reported feeling this also though a younger person receiving Pfizer didn't experience fatigue.  Reactions are relatively nil and seem to be unique to the individual.    

As I previously reported I had minimal reactions initially: "The injection caused no immediate reaction just as occurs with my yearly flu shot.  The only difference was about twenty hours later I did begin to experience swelling, then aching with increasing intensity at the shot site.  This lasted for only a few hours, then abruptly ceased."

VANISHING FIGURE

A bit of an unexpected event occurred here one noon time earlier this past week when I glimpsed through a backyard patio door window and was startled to see what appeared to be a pile of clothing with legs stride out of sight toward a side yard gate.    I went to a utility room window where I could see a small section of the yard and gate but observed no one.  Returning to my living room I called our local police non-emergency number since I perceived no immediate danger though I was encouraged to call 911 in such an instance in the future.  Before I even ended the call there was a knock on my door.

Opening my door I was surprised to see a policewoman there already.  She informed me other officers were driving around the area, but she wanted permission to explore my backyard which I willingly gave her.  Incidentally, when I open my regular door I can see out through the locked screen door but no one can see inside my house.

Soon the policewoman knocked on my living room patio door to ask if a sweatshirt and a few other possible trash-type items she described were mine.  They were not, so she wanted permission to retrieve them which, of course, I granted.  Whether or not they later found the owner I don't know.

I did learn from neighbors that a homeless person had sometimes been observed at a residence down the street on their porch some days examining packages that had been delivered but had left without further activity.  

Several years ago there was a recurring instance with an individual I observed on several occasions in a neighboring city who suddenly lunged toward my car one day causing me to narrowly miss hitting him.  Periodically he would appear in heavy traffic on old Route 66, a multi-lane boulevard, sometimes seeming to be trying to direct traffic,  other times pacing the sidewalk, waving his arms appearing to talk to himself.   He would be gone for days, weeks other times, then eventually reappear.  I think he may have been removed from circulation on those occasions, then finally I ceased to see him any more.  

The homeless people  I've seen have been male except for one female for a short time several years ago.  These individuals have generally presented with mental health issues, various drug issues including alcoholism as described in our local newspaper and police blotter reports.  Some dangerous behaviors have occurred.  There have been increasing homeless people in our city and other adjoining cities in recent years.    Reportedly assistance offered them is sometimes rejected but efforts have continued to be made by our city government, religious groups and other organizations to provide help for the few homeless individuals in our community.



Sunday, February 28, 2021

AMERICANISM -- OLDER OLDS VACCINATION

The scourge of the world, coronavirus, continues to assault humankind.  Just when our scientists create vaccinations to protect us the virus mutates with a variety of viral variants evolving.    The threat covid-19 has presented should be enough to unify all our nations, dwarfing our differences as we seek to preserve human life.   Such does not seem to be the case as many of the issues dividing us from one another persist.  

Meanwhile,  our scientists strongly urge us to receive a vaccination to protect us in this pandemic.   Even if we still may become infected, at least we are told we'll be armed to prevent severe life-threatening illness.   Here in Los Angeles County California the distribution of any of the vaccines has been quite limited, necessarily resulting in difficulty obtaining an appointment to receive the injection.   

While groups were assigned, often in various age segments as eligible, the release for inoculation was rather erratically, sometimes confusingly changed at times.  Even those who were being permitted to receive inoculations were suddenly unable to do so at the only drive-thru in our area, for example.   I questioned an instance of this on behalf of the older old people 75 years and up, of whom I am one, who live in our community, alone, without family, when that occurred here affecting me, too.   They had importantly earlier provided vaccinations for only aged in group homes.

I conveyed my concern to our local senior center and county officials.     I suggested they needed to consider needs of those in this age group living outside long term care for future emergency events planning since we're told we may well expect such in the years to come.   

Unexpectedly to me our local senior center submitted my name to a local group for which I could qualify to receive a vaccination who had suddenly received a vaccine allotment.   There was no certainty I would be added.  I alerted a 90+ year old friend also living alone in her home with no family.  Ultimately she declined getting the vaccination thinking, erroneously, it would be different than the one she wanted.  

Much to my surprise I was contacted to schedule an appointment so I decided to follow my doctor's recommendation to take whatever vaccine might be offered whenever available.     The first of this past week I received a Pfizer vaccination and am scheduled mid-March for the recommended second booster shot.  Now I hear talk there might even be a third shot to protect against the latest variant.  

The injection caused no immediate reaction just as occurs with my yearly flu shot.  The only difference was about twenty hours later I did begin to experience swelling, then aching with increasing intensity at the shot site.  This lasted for only a few hours, then abruptly ceased.   I will continue to mask, wash my hands following protocol, using sanitizers and observing recommended safety measures to minimize this coronaviruses odds of infecting me.  

I'm not sure why but I seem to be in a philosophic pensive mood as I write this.  Perhaps it's partly a reflection of thinking about all the lives needlessly being taken around the world, especially in this United States by this pandemic.   

As if that isn't enough, I know I am distressed to hear news reports of so many mindless vicious attacks on individuals of a national heritage other than what some few perceive to be the criteria for being American.  Those violators attacking frequently older individuals are the ones who are unAmerican.   

I can't help thinking as I have through the years and expect you may have, too, what wonderful progress could be accomplished in this world and in our United States, if we could all focus our time, energy, finances simply on making this world a better place.  Seems it would be so much easier for everyone than all the dissension, anger, fear and hate that prevails with the lies deliberately told to perpetuate devious ends. 

I guess the best we can do is for each of us to live our lives to minimize humankind's worse qualities and concentrate on those that bring out our better selves.    We will be wise to make certain we choose only leaders to govern us who speak truth, defend democracy, reflect our values, optimizing mutual cooperation, tolerance,  peace, love, genuine caring for one another.   


Sunday, February 21, 2021

GRAND CANYON -- JUST A HOLE IN THE GROUND?

      PROTECT THE GRAND CANYON WITH H.R. 1052

The Grand Canyon is dear to my heart as is preserving this National Park to be as environmentally natural as possible.   My interest started as a young girl living in the middle of one of our country's  Great Lakes states.  Photos of the Canyon I serendipitously came across one day in a National Geographic magazine fascinating me.  One of those youthful years on a Sunday afternoon my mother introduced me to our local Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of The Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofe'.

Our orchestra's conductor, Sam Gelfer, had a professional music background associated then with a nearby private university music department I began fantasizing about attending one day, but my later life took a different turn.  Focusing his concert introduction on young audience members, Mr. Gelfer explained that different parts of the Suite created musical pictures of the Canyon.  I related them to the National Geographic pictures in my mind, then was swept away with a variety of emotions as I lost myself in the music. 

The movements of the Grand Canyon Suite are:  I. Sunrise, II. Painted Desert, III. On the Trail, IV. Sunset, V. Cloudburst.    This is one most familiar to listeners.     

GRAND CANYON SUITE -- III On the Trail . F. GROFE -- L. BERNSTEIN.                                (Shared under Creative Commons from YouTube)


My youthful years passed as I grew older and married, with our initial summer vacation being a road trip west which included our first visit to the Grand Canyon.  Earlier in the year my husband had reserved a mule train trip down into the Canyon where we were to stay overnight at Phantom Ranch by the Colorado River, coming up out of the Canyon the next day.  I delighted in our South Rim overnight cabin stay prior to that special next morning's trip.  Disappointingly, the following day we were informed an overnight stormy downpour/cloudburst had washed out part of the Bright Angel Trail, so our trip could only go half-way down to the Plateau.  There they would provide us a prepared bag or box lunch, then we would return to the top of the canyon the same day.

This still was a trip offering marvelous views and a thrilling experience despite the change of plans.  The shortened riding time may have been just as well, considering how stiffened I discovered my body to be from the jostling mule ride after we returned, though I was in better shape than my husband.  I had remained active that evening while he had not, so he was really stiff the next morning while I was more limber.

A necessary stop on the canyon trail as we were descending the many switchbacks that previous day occurred when an item dropped out of my pocket.  I was embarrassed to be the cause of bringing everyone to a halt but that did provide some unexpected mixed anxiety and humor.   The cowboy leading our pack train brought us all to a halt noticing what had happened.  The mules  then  automatically turned turned their bodies to the back of the trail with their heads stretching out over the trail's edge giving us riders quite a breath-taking feeling.  We gazed out only into space with the canyon a great distance below should those mules misstep.  

One of our single-file women pack train riders who was at the front was becoming unnerved which prompted our cowboy to make efforts to calm her.  I'm not too sure about his choice of utterance for levity when after a few reassuring words he loudly said, "Hang on to that mule, lady -- don't let him jump!"  Most of us laughed.  The lady hung on -- the mule didn't jump or the rest of them probably would have, too, and us with them.  

The rest of our trip down and back up was uneventful.  We did see one drag-out which would have been an expensive trip for those forewarned people who had blithely hiked down the canyon to the river only to realize they lacked the energy to climb back up the canyon trail.

The views to which we were treated were spectacular as the sun's position gradually moved, clouds floated above us creating altering patterns of shade with changing light on reddish canyon walls -- mesmerizing, the sight unforgettable, embedded forever in my mind.  A Southwest Scenics hiker describes his experience and shares some photos if you click on the link.   

Another vacation driving trip west before we had children also included a Grand Canyon trip.  This time we took a small plane flight over and through the Canyon providing a different perspective of the awesome sight from above, then surrounding us when the plane dipped lower, to be filed away in memories not to be forgotten.  

Several years later our family, now expanded by one more, unexpectedly moved to Arizona for a new employment position my husband had taken following completing  his University degree so much later in life and making a major career change.   During those years we traveled the state at every opportunity including making several trips to the Grand Canyon, viewing its wonders in various weather conditions and seasons.  We made one whirlwind Canyon trip with a family member, but all that was visible were clouds filling the open area from rim to rim before we had to return home that same day to accommodate our guest's schedule.  Probably disappointing to her but unique to me as this sight presented one more unusual Canyon view.

We did drive to the less accessible North Rim for a short visit on one of our other return trips home.  That rim area was much less developed and commercialized.  Caroline at "Pictures & Words" blog features more current fascinating details along with things to do at the North Rim with some amazing photos.   

Our last visit to the Grand Canyon as a family occurred following my son's graduation from a nearby University.  My husband was surprisingly given a lifetime pass to all the national parks as we entered but, unfortunately, we were never able to use it since our situation and his health changed.  Since that time I think the Park altered access to visitors who can no longer drive in as we always did and must now use group transportation on the ground's roadways.  They've had so many visitors in the ensuing years, changes have been needed to protect the Park's environment.

I recall in recent years a casual friend who much preferred a visit to Las Vegas over nature's wonders apparently, finally had visited the Grand Canyon.  Her comment when she returned was, "I don't know what the big deal is, it's just a huge hole in the ground."

Recent years one more matter distressing me during the previous federal government administration was that our now ex-President favored commercialization.   He was quite amenable to opening up the Grand Canyon National Park to various mining operations, especially uranium.  His forces are still at work pressuring for that goal.   

A temporary Grand Canyon protection act passed during the Obama administration is expiring.  
"Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ) re-introduced legislation with 16 co-sponsors ... to permanently protect l million aces of land around the Grand Canyon from mining" as reported by Environmental America.

There are at least 5 reasons to protect the Grand Canyon including to have clean water from the Colorado River, a vital lifeline for many people as you can read in this PEW analysis.

You can read Arizona Senator Sinema's descriptions of the need for this protection when a bill was introduced in 2019.

Representative Grijalva has introduced the bill to permanently support protecting the Grand Canyon.  The Grand Canyon Trust summarizes the bill, what's new, and provides an opportunity to comment.

Contact your Congresspersons to support H.R. 1052.

I do regret missing one event at the Canyon that would have been uniquely memorable.  Ferde Grofe' with an orchestra set up at Canyon's edge had his Grand Canyon Suite performed for the attending audience.  I was very pregnant with our second family addition, reluctantly deciding it was the better part of wisdom that we stay home.  I don't know about the quality of the musical acoustics in the open air or what the weather was like that night, but the whole idea was captivating to me.   I always wondered how successful the event was, but never happened to read a critical review. 


I'm left to imagine how wonderful that live concert would have been to experience when I close my eyes, lean my head back in my recliner chair and relive the enchantment the Grand Canyon holds for me.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

CONFLAB -- VACCINATION -- BIRDLAND -- IMPEACHMENT

              The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history."

CONFLAB

My daughter phoned this afternoon with an opening comment telling me our call could become disconnected at any moment as she had already experienced several brief power outages.   Another ice storm was in progress as they had the night before after five inches of snow had fallen.  We caught up on our lives over several hours until she noted the storm had finally ended, her power and heat uninterrupted.  We realized a need to sign off so I could have a now late dinner plus, given our time difference, she needed to go to bed.  Consequently, I am hastily pulling together this week's post.

VACCINATON

Earlier in the week I had a routine medical appointment following which I decided to see if I could schedule a Covid-19 vaccination.   I'll spare you the specific details other than to say it was not possible to make an internet appointment for the drive-thru site where I need to go, so I used the recommended phone number.  I made several different unsuccessful calls having to hold for varying periods of duration.

There are several reasons for this including inadequate and unpredictable vaccine supplies.  Erratic scheduling changes for designated groups have also created confusion.  Many, or even most in each group are not receiving the vaccination before additional groups are added, compounding the problem.  That coupled with the frustrations experienced by businesses off and on again closures has culminated in a drive to recall our state's Governor Newsom.

My personal view is it's poorly advised our state should incur the expense of a special election but some want to exploit the situation.  I felt the same way the last time that occurred when state finances were limited.  We ended up with Gov. Schwarzenegger before he and his Party were replaced the next election.      

BIRDLAND

I peeked in on the Big Bear Bald Eagle nest this past week to learn lots of activity has taken place there.   Jackie and Shadow are starting a second clutch this year after loss of the first one.  Jackie laid an egg on Monday, Feb. 8th and a second egg Thursday, Feb. 11th, Pip watch will begin March 15th.  This video reveals Jackie on the nest with Ravens being heard nearby.  When Jackie emits a "teakettle whistle" she lays the second egg.  

POV -- IMPEACHMENT

I've been caught up in watching the impeachment trial this week of our ex-President Donald J. Trump.

What is wrong with this picture?   Did someone suggest hypocrisy?      

Ex-President Trump was not impeached for inciting the January 6th seditious riotous coup attempt.

Senator McConnell claimed the U.S. Constitution allowed for impeaching a President only when he/she is in office.  Since Trump was now an ex-President he could not be impeached, so McConnell voted "No" to impeachment.

What that means is, once a November election occurs, if a candidate defeats the incumbent President for re-election, any effort to impeach the soon-to-be ex-President, Lame Duck, must occur between January 6th (when the joint session of Congress meets to accept the official Electoral College votes from the states) and January 20th (when the newly elected President is inaugurated).

So, can a Lame Duck President commit and impeachable offense during those 14 days and not to be held accountable by impeachment unless he/she is put on trial during those days -- but not after January 20th when he/she will have become an ex-President?

Point of fact:  The House of Representatives impeached President Trump when he was still President, but Senator McConnell refused to accept the article of impeachment so a trial could be held before January 20th.

Now, Senator McConnell has said in this NBC News video:  "President [ex-President Trump] is practically and morally responsible for provoking the event": -- January 6th riot/seditious coup at the Capitol.

While the Senator says the ex-President's actions occurred because he was "angry about losing an election" I believe the issues are far more serious, but that is a  topic for another time.  Suffice to say, democracy is fragile and must be protected from those like Donald J. Trump who would undermine our Republic to establish a different form of government, including an autocracy.  

Our current President Biden is quoted in this video repeating the point on CNN:

"The Senate vote followed the bipartisan vote to impeach him by the House of Representatives," Biden said.  "While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute.  Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a 'disgraceful dereliction of duty' and 'practically and morally responsible for provoking' the violence unleashed on the Capitol."


Sunday, February 07, 2021

A LIFE THAT MATTERS -- JANIS DAVID COOLEY

A tribute to Janis David Cooley I published here over a decade ago is most appropriate for sharing here again with only sight editing, updating links,  during this Black History Month.  The Black Lives Matter movement is accentuated by her life.

This is a salute to Janis David Cooley who I had the good fortune to become acquainted with in the early part of the year 2005.  We had regular contact several times a week for several months during which we engaged in some interesting conversations.

I think she would be pleased I chose this Black/African History Month of February to write about her as she was very proud of her African American heritage.  She was well aware she told me, that with her light skin she could easily have passed as white, as others had suggested she should consider doing, but chose not to do so.

She presented herself to me as an obviously well-educated, attractive older woman, friendly, personable, and warm in manner.   A delightful sense of humor was often quick to surface along with that twinkle in her eyes as I came to know her.

One day she quite enthusiastically told me she had been writing the history of her family and was now in the final process stages of self-publishing the book.  She was in the midst of her final editing of proofs.  A few weeks later she announced with great relief this step was completed, the corrected proofs returned to her publisher for initiation of the actual printing process.   During subsequent weeks of waiting to receive word her book was finally published, she spoke of her gradual increasing anxiousness to see the finished product of her labors, but clearly was trying to remain patient. 

I would come to learn the pages of Janis Cooley's book chronicles individual family members' lives.  A few pages graphically arrange names in family tree fashion.  Short biographies and pictures of numerous family members fill other pages.  She adds informative commentary about her personal and professional life including various moves with her husband beginning in Chicago, eventually to the east, then west coasts.

Most recently she had been continuing to provide English essay writing assistance for  Chinese and  Cuban senior high school students to aid their passing necessary tests she told me.   She was pleased to learn later they had successfully done so.

She notes in her book, "Virtually all of my African-American forbears were slaves until the end of the Civil War in 1865."   Her historical accounts confirm the rightful pride she expresses in her ancestors' wide range of achievements -- including some who became theologians, others educators as did she.

She recounted unique experiences when we talked with descriptions of some occasions when others assumed she was white, or forgot she wasn't -- the comments they made, even the questions she was asked as a white skinned black woman, an African American.  We had laughed together incredulously as she relished telling me some stories of those instances, or about other situations.  I couldn't help thinking how we often find humor where pain can sometimes rest just below the surface.

Wilberforce University receives special attention in a few pages, since it played a significant role in her family's life and her own early years.  They lived in the Ohio town the University website reports was "named to honor the great 18th century abolitionist, William Wilberforce."   Formed in 1856 the University describes itself as "the nation's oldest private college historically black."

This educational institution had been established "...to provide an intellectual Mecca and refuge from slavery's first rule: ignorance."   The University in west central Ohio was a major destination point in The Underground Railroad, for slaves escaping "the yoke of slavery" preceding the years before the Civil War (1861-1865.)

I recall my mother telling me she had been told by her parents, who lived during slavery years, of a nearby house in her Northeastern Ohio farm community that had been a safe haven and rest spot for slaves on freedom's journey headed toward Canada via that virtual railroad.  There were numerous safe houses in Ohio and quite a few in various other states as listed in the link above.

The author smiles at me in the photo on the cover of her book, exactly as I prefer to remember her on the occasion before I last saw her.  Our last contact was a late Friday afternoon when I took a few minutes before leaving for the weekend to see if she had yet received word about her book, or if she wanted to have a short chat.

Much to my surprise she was not sitting up at her computer or planning her next activity there in the retirement community where she resided but was reclining in bed.  I learned later she had played Bridge in the morning, but after returning to her room around noontime began to feel unwell.

When I looked at her, I sensed by her expression she seemed somewhat perplexed that she didn't feel well.  Her wan, unsmiling facial appearance, and soft weak tired-sounding voice strongly indicated to me she was fatigued or more.  Medical care had been provided, she said when I asked and that she needed nothing, but I immediately re-confirmed that fact with nursing staff.  I did not linger with her, as her drooping eyelids suggested she might sleep.  Sleep she did ...... later,  in the very early hours of a new day ..... forever ..... on July 9, 2005.

Two weeks later word was received from her publisher the drop shipment of books she had ordered that many of us had wished to purchase was ready for mailing. She never saw her book in final published form -- The House of David, "A Family History" by Janis David Cooley, Ed.D.

I am reminded the words she wrote which appear on the back cover of this slender 93 page large-size paperback book are much the same words she once said to me:

"This book is primarily for my family, because I want them to be aware of their marvelous background and hope that they will keep up the good work.  A secondary purpose is the hope that people of other races will read it and realize that their ideas about black people are wrong."