Sunday, February 28, 2021


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



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


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


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.


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.      


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.  


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 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 " 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."