Saturday, September 17, 2011

Envy Adjacent

Lately, Pasadena Adjacent has been posting some nice looking lawn furniture on her traditional and highly popular Trash Tuesday posts. Mmm, like like like like like.

These chairs at San Marino Pool and Patio are new--not free, not yet even on sale. For the likes of me there's a bonus in that they're perfect as they are, requiring no sanding or paint.

Does that take the fun out of it?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Not Skywatch Friday

I like this picture, looking west and slightly south from near the Avalon Funeral home at the corner of Orange Grove Blvd. and Los Robles. I thought I'd post it today because it's Friday and a lot of people post pictures of the sky on "Skywatch Friday."

Normally, that would be my reason not to post it today. I appreciate groups, I even hang out with groups, pretending I belong, but I haven't joined many officially. I've never joined a church or a political party. I've tried joining a couple of movements but I lose interest when things get strident, and they always do.

In high school I was a member of a three-person clique. Later I was in a theater company for a while until...I don't remember why I left, something else must have caught my interest.

I don't join because I don't want to commit to someone else's requirements. I want to keep myself free to say "Thanks but no, I'm not actually a member."

I'm in a book group. All the group asks of me is that I broaden my horizons and bring a bottle of wine.

But I'd be lying if I said I'm not an official member of groups (Facebook, Twitter). I can't pretend I'm not adhering to guidelines (City Daily Photo). I can't pretend I'm some kind of rebel (human race).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Neighborhood Walk

Boz and I took a slow meander early yesterday evening. We met four delightful children on the next block, all of whom wanted to meet and pet Boz.

"Remember what I told you," said their grandmother. "Approach slowly."

"What's his name?"

"Does he have teeth?

"Does he bite?"

"What happened to his tail?"

"What's a 'rescue dog?' Does he rescue people?"

"How old is he?"

I answered their questions and they petted Boz with gentle persistence until he could no longer endure their attention. He pulled at the leash and rolled his eyes at me, letting me know he was ready to move on.

Half a block down we were privy to another conversation between a mother and her kids. This time, we stayed out of it.

"Get outta my car!"

(Something breaks.)

"What are you doing, just sitting there, being stupid? I said get outta my car! Get out!"

(Tears.)

"Stupid. Get in the house."

(Tears.)

Life is charmed. Life is vicious. It's love and it's fear. It's accidental, serendipitous and deliberate. It's true and it's a big, fat lie. It's a million things at the same time, funny and sweet and tragic.

After dinner, Boz did everything he could to get us to sit in the living room with him so he could chew his bone. He doesn't like to chew alone. He wants company. I had things to do first: help John with the dishes, sort the laundry, upload a photo. Through it all Boz was most impatient. We finally sat down together in the living room--me with my laptop and Boz with his bone--and life was good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Author: Kay Mouradian and A Gift in the Sunlight

Long-time visitors may remember my brief profile of Kay Mouradian in May of 2010. Besides her current novel she has also written books on yoga and meditation. (Wow! I want the brand new copy!) Please welcome today's Guest Author, Kay Mouradian.

 

I wish I had known more about my mother Flora. She was 18 when she came to America in 1920 to marry my father, a man she knew only from a photograph. Becoming an orphan after losing her family in the Armenian genocide, my mother took a chance that the man in the picture would take care of her and I am a witness to say that he did.
        
When I was a kid growing up in Boston, Mom would tell me stories about her tragic life in Turkey, but those stories went in one ear and out the other. I was too busy trying to be an American kid, like my Irish and Italian friends, so I never really knew what happened to my mother during World War I. All that changed when she nearly died at the age of 83. That’s when I started to read about Ottoman Turkey during the Great War and became overwhelmed with the depth of cruelty inflicted on the Turkish Armenians in 1915. I then learned how that catastrophe had broken my mother’s heart and changed her life forever and I knew her story needed to be told.

There is a saying in the literary community that if you want to know the facts read a newspaper, but if you want to know the truth, read a novel. That statement reverberated in my mind and I decided to tell my mother’s story in a novel. Since most of my writing had been in academia, I spent months scouring through books in the 808.3 section of my South Pasadena library learning about plot and character development, foreshadowing, and point of view. The actual writing was far more difficult, but I had a wonderful critique group who kept me honest.

I’ve often heard writers say that the best part of writing is the research and I also found that to be true. I went into used bookstores canvassing the history and memoir sections. After reading through the table of contents I bought and read every book that said "Constantinople." I went through the book stacks at UCLA and became mesmerized with the "Turkey in World War I" section. Then I read through 10 reels of microfilm from the Library of Congress of dispatches and letters from the U S Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire covering the years from 1913-16 and spent a week at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt library reading the personal papers of the Ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, Sr.

My mother’s story, A Gift in the Sunlight, is now in its second edition and can be purchased through Amazon, Vromans, and my website, agiftinthesunlight.com.

I AM MY MOTHER’S VOICE and her story is being made into a documentary...an Armenian Ann Frank story!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Needed That

Lately Boz and I have been walking at dusk when it's cooler. The cicadas, frogs and crickets send up a racket. Behind every bush there's something to interest Boz, even if it's only a scent.

There's something to interest me, too, around every corner. A light, a shadow, a new view.

Yesterday was one of those days when nothing went right. Except this.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zen Monday: #162

If this is Monday, it must be Zen.

In Zen, you learn through experience rather than books or lectures. Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and tell us what you've learned, rather than me lecturing you about it.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments box and enjoy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later

Ten years later America is a nation divided, divisive. If we can afford air travel we must suffer long lines of indignities only to sit cramped in airless pens. Our journalism has become corporate pandering instead of actual information. Our economy is this thing we stumble through, some of us falling. We are dispirited.

It's not like the Muslim world has it any better. Think of the struggles for Democracy in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan. Think what Lybian and Syrian citizens are enduring this very moment.

So. Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Did Al Quaeda win or can we turn this thing around?

Maybe it doesn't sound like it, but I'm an optimist.

Meeting each other teaches us about each other. It's a lot harder to fear or hate someone you've shared conversation with over a cup of coffee.

If we can't afford to travel to the Arab world, (or if we're afraid to get on a plane), we can meet our Arab neighbors right here in southern California, starting with the annual Arab American Festival in Garden Grove, September 23-25th. It's free (so the economy is no excuse) and it looks like fun.

Or just...break bread with someone who is different from you.

Here is the best writing I've seen about 9/11, from Roberta Martinez.