Saturday, December 12, 2009

Desde el cielo una hermosa mañana….

Since a trip to Mexico in the mid-90s, I have made it a point to attend las mañanitas for the virgin de Guadalupe. I invited Joe to come along (though I had failed to tell him that pick up time was at 4:30 AM) for this very Mexican tradition.

The basilica of Mission Dolores puts on a good celebration. By 4:30 on a rainy morning there was already a crowd outside door. Just before 5:00 am, the procession entered: altar servers, a Knights of Columbus color guard, lectors, deacons, priests, and the bishop. Within a few minutes the church was filled and the faithful stood and lined the side aisles. The altar was decorated with a scene from the narrative and the entire altar was filled with flowers. After the offertory a man dresses as Juan Diego runs up to the bishop, opens up his tilma, and reveals the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe, to which the faithful applaud as rose petals fall from the copula. At the end of the mass, the people approach the sanctuary to have the priest bless their flower boquets and images of Guadalupe. They also receive a rose. Afterwards the parish offers tamales, pan dulce, chocolate caliente and ponche (with alcohol if you wish). So by 6:30, people are off to work if they must.

It is a wonderful tradition that I am fortunate to attend.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

who said jobs were always easy?

My father after some 40 plus years in the US speaks little English. He tells me he suffered in his jobs as he knew little English. He couldn’t communicate very well—sometimes he was misunderstood and sometimes he didn’t understand. He had a family to raise and the luxury of leaving a job was not an option. He feels grateful that the people he worked with were so patient with him.

I have been fortunate to enjoy the jobs I have had and the people with whom I have worked. But that is not always the case with everyone. Many people have jobs they detest, jobs that are extremely stressful, or jobs that require an inordinate amount of hours (or all three). My job as a teacher is not always easy. My job is stressful—studies indicate that urban teachers are second only to police officers in the stress they suffer—but this year has been particularly difficult in addressing the discipline and classroom management at our school. I am trying to expand my repertoire of engaging lessons in a culturally responsive environment to the students I serve, something I have not had issues with in the past. It has been a challenge. I am trying to see this as an opportunity to grow and learn and love and open myself to change—but it is hard when you feel depleted and exhausted.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Silence and Truth

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.

–Mahatma Gandhi.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Truck cargo

Driving on the way to Fresno last weekend, I was behind a truck carrying a gigantic load on its open bed. In the shadows of the tree-lined freeway at dusk, I discerned the load was a large beast that struggled against the ropes that held it down as the truck rambled on.

In the light of the setting sun, the load revealed itself as an enormous elephant shrew with a red nose that pathetically swayed its head up and down, left and right against the wind and the tethers that held it down.

Upon closer inspection, the load was actually a large fir tree tied to the open bed of a truck by a net-like tarp where only its very top, on which was attached a red flag, peeked through, and its massive shape was tossed about by the rushing wind. Truly the magnificent beast was held within the captive conifer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

i blinked

I have been making efforts to connect with students who are prone to get in trouble at school, especially our African American boys. I start up conversations by asking them about how their families are and if I know their siblings, how they are. A few weeks ago, I mentioned to a 5th grade boy I have known since 2nd grade, “K, where do you live? I know your sister, C, when can I come to your house to meet your mom.”

He responded protectively, “Oh Mr. Lee you don’t want to come to my neighborhood. I live by Third Street and there’s shootin’ and gang signals. You don’t want to be coming into my neighborhood—it’d not be safe for you.”

“K, I think you’re just pulling my leg. I’m not afraid of visiting you.”

K is a charming, handsome boy with academic challenges and anger issues that flare up sometimes. But I like him and I want to connect with him in a way that is real and authentic so he knows there are people here at school that care about him.

Last Wednesday, I came into his room to follow up with another classmate of his. K was just outside the room and he tells me, “Mr. Lee, I want to meet your wife or girlfriend.” I recognized his reaching out to me.

“Oh K, I don’t have a wife or girlfriend. I live with my brother.” And he went inside.

I came in to observe briefly.

As I passed his desk, he asked me, “Why don’t you have a wife or girlfriend?”

“I just don’t.” I responded equivocally as I felt a bit uncomfortable.

“But don’t you want a girlfriend?”

“I just don’t play that game.” I said.

“You don’t like girls?”

“No I don’t.” I stated matter of factly as he looked off in a corner of the room and processed my response.

I chickened out in not being upfront with K in outing myself as gay because of presumptions of homophobia and fear of victimization. Regardless I owe K honesty for his sincere efforts to get to know the people I love. K was demonstrating that he cares about me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is it that Uranus and Saturn are misaligned?

Last week, I had to take care of a discipline problem at school between three children whom I kept after school. At the end of the session I took the students to their after-school locales, one which was a child I had to drive to a school for his mother to pick him up.

As we were walking across Precita Park, a loose dog came toward us. The 10 year-old boy ran from me which triggered the dog to chase him. I called to the student but to no avail. He ran into the street. I caught up to him and walked him to the sidewalk. It was then I realized that the dog had frightened him. The fifth grader shook off my hand, as he didn’t want me to hold his hand.

Although there are clearly posted signs stating that the Park is available to dogs as long as they remain on leash and pick up after their dogs, there were at least two dogs off leash. I went up to one of the owners who was with another dog owner with some five leashed dogs. I reminded them that Precita Park is an on-leash dog park. One of the dog owners slipped away but the dog owner with the five dogs stood his ground against my declarations, “Well sometimes the dogs are going to be off leash.” He was simply ignoring what was clear to both of us. I explained, “Children use the park and many of them are scared of them. Just now, as I was walking a child, he got scared by the dog and ran into the street.” The dog owner was having none of it, “There is a fenced off area where children can go,” indicating the east end of the park. I restated by position: “Listen, I simply came to state that this Park is listed as an on-leash park only.” “Well I heard you and I am going to tell you that dogs will be off leash.” I walked away, calm but frustrated, knowing I had to take this child home.

When I arrived at Charles Drew Elementary, there was a traffic jam along the narrow streets so I parked away from the entrance and walked the student to the school. As we walked down along the sidewalk, an apparently frustrated gentleman decided to drive up on the sidewalk to avert the traffic.

On Friday, I stopped at Safeway to buy a couple of items. When I came to stand in line, the man at the conveyer belt was glaring at two Safeway workers behind me. They demanded, “What are you staring at?” The man responded, “I am staring at YOU! If you don’t want me to stare at you, don’t stare at me.” They defended themselves: “You are the one staring at us.” And he continued, “Keep staring at me you fools because I am going to win. I am the customer here and you are here for customer service. I have to put up with this broad (indicating the woman in front of me) and now I have to deal with you. That’s why I hate coming here.” What a way to start a Friday. The woman in front of me stared blankly ahead and said nothing, not approaching the conveyor belt as the man’s groceries were bagged. This created a tangible empty space between him and the rest of us. But the gap was actually the atrocious behavior he was displaying and what is normatively acceptable.

What is going on in the world? Why the craziness? God grant me the wisdom and calm to navigate through these turbulent times.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


is a memorable month as it provides the last hot days of summer, like the season’s last tomatoes. And while it heralds the waning of light and the coming of cold, its balmy days and cool nights are comfortable, still. But most appreciated is its sunlight, not the garish light of summer with washed out colors and down-cast shadows. Its warm angled light is gorgeously sets everything in its best side—sky, trees, structures, people and air itself—in flattering light. Even the sun itself shows off. Over the weekend I saw the sun set, a molten glob of gold sinking slowly into the ocean leaving only a warm rosy smudge between the sea and sky.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I bought the San Francisco Chronicle the other day. The viability of newspapers has been in question for several years especially how the Internet has eaten into their subscriptions but the economic downturn has exacerbated their downfall. It cost 75¢ ($1.00 if purchased at a retail establishment) and it sadly, it is a pale shadow of what it used to be. While it is more colorful, it is thinner and narrower and has fewer features and articles: its text is larger and there is much more “space”. The front page has banner advertisements and includes a one-page (what used to be two pages) OpEd at the end of the section. The relatively substantial regional Bay Area section is combined with the business section. The Sporting Green front page is once again tinted in green. The Datebook contains the entertainment features, the movie and TV listings, comics, and classifieds. Over the summer I lamented that the Wednesday food section has disappeared. I fear examining the Sunday paper as to how it has been gutted. In the future we may simply have a one-sheet broad sheet with all the sections on it.

Newspapers have a place in our society. Newspapers had the role in documenting pivotal events in history—that magazines and TV just couldn’t do. Even our little histories like births, wedding announcements, and deaths were documented and saved in newspapers. But I lament the cultural place newspapers had in our world. The experience of tingeing one’s fingers with ink after reading the paper will no longer be. I remember my mother cutting out coupons to use at our local grocery store. Old newspaper was used to line our bird cages, to wipe down our windshields, make piñatas and papier mache masks, We used line our bird cages with old newspaper, or used improvisationally to swat flies.

I acknowledge my lack of patronage to the newspaper’s demise. The fact that I get my news via the radio (NPR) and that I (and so many others) find little time in daily life to read the paper. But the death of newspapers. is a real concern not to have a space for democratic discourse, to have investigative reporting, to examine what is happening in other parts of the world and to have a paper of record in our communities. But perhaps this is a temporary challenge for newspapers who will be transformed in ways we will find more useful—I hope.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Java on Ocean

On Saturday, I spend a good chunk of the morning in Java on Ocean drinking coffee and reading the Chronicle. The place has what Desiree calls “old San Francisco”—an unsleek, comfortable place with good service and food owned by locals.

It is open from 6 am to 9 pm and run by a Middle Eastern man as evidenced by the food and art. The café has a spacious sitting area with a variety of miscellaneous furniture; benches, sofas and coffee tables, tables & chairs, two computer stations—giving it many options for people to interact and to socialize or not. It has outside furniture for the rare days of beautiful San Francisco weather. The weekly tabloids of the Guardian and SF Weekly are readily stocked for available reading material and decorated in posters of current events in the city. The place’s soundtrack is eclectic acoustic world music I has a canary which trills happily on occasion, which reminds me of my father who used to raise canaries. It attracts a variety of patrons; city college students and professionals, young bohemian types and pensioned seniors, Asian, White, and African-American. It is a wonderful place to take a zebra mocha (dark and white chocolate) and read.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The most challenging part of my job

This past week I had my first negative encounter with a student this year. I was in a classroom supporting a teacher manage assessments, while I directed the class in a rather boring lesson. He didn’t follow directives on a couple of occasions so I kept in for recess and he became angrier and angrier. Later in the day in dropped in on the classroom and he was demonstrating a defiant, incompliant and disrespectful behavior. I was surprised how fearless this short fifth grader was towards his teacher and me. My stating his address or his mother’s name did not seem to faze him. On Friday, his teacher and I made a home visit to his mother, whom I had met before two years ago. The visit was friendly and illuminating. We got support from her, but we also realized that his home provided little if any structure for improving his academics—there was no expectation that C do any homework at home. We now have clear options if we encounter a defiant and uncooperative C.

But I realize that it is these clashes that drain me emotionally. Yes there is the physical exhaustion from managing the cafeteria or the play yard at lunch. There is the intellectual challenges of trying to solve scheduling problems or in finding pedagogical approaches that will work with particular students. But it is the emotional clashes with students or parents that is the most difficult part of my job. And I wonder how long I will have the inner resources to replenish me.

I also recognize the need to build up my cultural competence with my African American families. While our African American students comprise some 15% of our student body they represent over 50% of the behavior problems we have at our school. Building the bridge of trust between our African American families and the school is one of the most important challenges we must take on. I, as a teacher, must build my cultural competence with my African American students so that there is a presumption of trust and understanding so I can get beyond management and discipline and into instruction.

by Kalin & Xavier

Kalin by Xavier

Megumi, myself and Yoriko at City View Dim Sum in Chinatown

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back at IRFing

Now that I am back at school I realize that I am very competent in my job. My organizational skills, my knowledge of the history of the school and my relationships with colleagues, families, students, and support personal serve me doing my job well that I hope makes an effective impact on the school.

But being competent can be a stumbling block. I have a wealth of knowledge and experience since I have been at the school for some 16 years. But specific interactions with colleagues and superiors that make me feel that my suggestions are dismissed, give the impression that they have a better way of structuring the school, or am seen as someone to be directed but not consulted, make me feel slighted. My competence then becomes hubris that is impatient or stubborn or unyieldingly focused and deafens me or blinds me to the reality beyond the surface. So instead of listening to the words behind the words, I take them at face value and instead of winning advocates on my team, I become defensive and push back. And in this work it is too hard to work alone: we must work as a team.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Pedazos para un retrato by Maria Lopez Vigil is a compilation of remembrances of Oscar Romero, the assassinated Archbishop of San Salvador. The book recounts stories of the this individual from when he was a young boy to the anguished prophet he became in defending his people. The “biography” creates a more complete picture of the man than any one author could have written.

People who know me also know fragments of me. My parents and siblings know what I was like as a youth. My friends in school could recount what type of student I was. Those who have worked with me in my illustration capacity can vouch for the quality of my art and my dependability as an artist. My spiritual director knows the moral struggles and interior journeys. My coworkers can attest to my qualities and competence as a teacher, a colleague and a coach. And my friends and intimates can point out my strengths and my foibles as a human being. Then there are whispers and scribbles I reserve only for God and myself. I realize that you my blog reader also has a piece of me. You may or may not know me but you get a purview of who I am that is not necessarily evident in my life. It is a reflective writer or artist who ruminates on particularities of life while conscious of the vastness and irretractibility of the cyberuniverse.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

turning point: Mark 5: 21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to Jesus, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, 'Who touched me?'" And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction."

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said,
"Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?"
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
"Do not be afraid; just have faith."
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
"Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep."
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child's father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, "
Talitha koum,"
which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

Monday, August 24, 2009

back in the pool

There is nothing like a diving into a cold pool to wake you up. It jars the body with the sensation of cold and wet and stimulates the mind with blue and surprise and consciousness. But soon after you acclimate to the watery world and swim gracefully (or not so) in the chilly water.

Last week, I dived into school. On Monday, I felt the freneticism of trying complete my list of things to do before instruction began and to locate documents and materials. On Wednesday, half of our staff had brief discussion on race and equity. And while this is important to consider as we teach, I generally find these process-driven discussions unsatisfying and frustrating, as they do not come to some concrete and helpful conclusions. On Thursday, I had the satisfaction of accomplishment when a colleague and I did our part to beautify the school by putting up colorful bulletin board paper and taking down old, tattered posters. On Friday I was disheartened by the dysfunctionality of my district: a newly arrived Special Education teacher was unable to set up his classroom as children from the child care center were still using his room, the child care teacher had yelled at him and thrown objects against the wall, the director was no where to be found, his furniture had been brought from his former school and lost, and the district had not disclosed the transfer of the class until spring even though it was in the works for two years. I thought, No wonder parents lose faith public schools. But this was all before any students arrived.

Today was first day of teaching after a year-long sabbatical (14 months of rest actually). It was exhausting. I wonder how I will continue to have energy for this as I age. But it was wonderful to reconnect with children and parents, who were so happy I had come back to them. And I felt fortunate (and proud) to work with a great group of professionals, who in nearly every classroom, managed their students well. So while the water was cold and arresting, I am glad to work to earn my keep, but more importantly to contribute to the edification of our culture.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Francis' Pix

My godchild has been collecting old cameras and taking photos with them, especially his holga. I am sharing some of his images below. I find them playful, delightful and inspirational, stirring up the creative juices. Watch for his name in the future: Francis R. Gonzales.

I love the evocative quality of this image.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Test, one, two, three, test.

I am uploading my first video. I took forever (30+ minutes) but it was successful. Click play to see Mariah's video of her brothers ice skating at the Embarcadero Skating Rink December 2007


Today, while checking on the status of our computer lab, I found out that outside computers can't use the wireless router at school to access the internet in order to block students' access to inappropriate sites. We throw out the baby with the bathwater. Not only are we behind in having state of the art technology, we are stymied if we bring in our own hardware.

Friday, August 14, 2009

promises to myself post-sabbatical

While our official reporting day to school is Wednesday, August 19, I will be returning on Monday to set up my office and go through my materials. While my sabbatical has been a wonderful blessing, the biggest challenge for me is to keep the hours I put into my job to a reasonable amount. Even when I do get home, I am often emotionally and physically spent to be of little use for the rest of evening.

The other day I wrote a small, idealistic list of promises to incorporate what I learned from my sabbatical into my daily working life. We'll see how I do:
  • Pray
  • Excercise
  • Take time to be creative
  • Take time to do nothing
  • Connect meaningfully with someone
  • Keep balanced work hours: 7:30-5:00.
  • Stretch myself

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

King Tut Exhibit

Last night I went to the King Tut Exhibit at the de Young Museum with some friends. Apparently it was brought to San Francisco with great expense, thus the increase in ticket prices for the show: $27.50 for non-members, $ 25.00 for members. The advertisements, the careful reconfiguration of the museum and the timed entrances portend that this is art show to see in San Francisco this year. The parcel check is posted outside the museum, there is a separate counter set up for the purchase of King Tut tickets, there are areas cordoned off for people waiting in line to get in, and your are forewarned to get your audio guide before you enter the first hall. But ultimately, the show was disappointing, mostly because the fireworks around the entire show seem greater than the substance of the exhibit itself.

The purchasers of the 7:00 show were brought into a dark room where a short video by Omar Sharif was presented. At its conclusion, the doors automatically opened to the first hall. It was as if I entering the Disneyland ride to the Haunted Mansion. The exhibit had text labels below eye-level and above eye-level in LARGE font, I presume for the large crowds that come during the day. But the text that usually accompanies exhibits upon entering a room seemed to lack substance; it was much more spare compared to previous exhibits presented. The artifacts were gorgeous and beautiful: there is a the sarcophagus of Tijuya, Tutankhamon's great grandmother, and the detail and goldsmithing on the small vicera coffinette was amazing. My main critique is that while the entire show is thematically presented rooms with Egyptian hieroglyphics and large images of the desert, the substance of the show seemed sparse. I imagined that the show would have Tutankhamon's beautiful death mask displayed in the 70s (apparently it is considered as a National Treasure of Egypt and no longer travels) ; my friend Yoriko expected to see his mummified body. Comparatively, the Chihuly exhibit seemed more dense and substantial with many more peices of art, explanations, and film. I was glad I attended after 5:00, where tickets for members are $15 (Tut at Twilight) and viewed the entire show in a little over an hour while not having to brave impinging crowds.


Kalin's drawings:

Kalin and Yoriko (mommy)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vinyl Memories

“Eso ya es un vicio”*

That is what my mother would tell me after coming back with an LP vinyl record after coming back from town when I was in my early 20s. She was referring to the fact that every time I would go into Fresno, I would come back with at least one LP. Since we didn’t get a record player until we were in our late teens, I figured it was justified to try to catch up on music we never owned. Additionally, I was in my first years of having a steady income, so I had disposable income. But my mother viewed my purchasing habit as developing into an uncontrolled impulse. Her admonition had the impact of my being more conscientious and judicious of my music purchases.


“Ya llévense sus discos porque me voy a deshacer del gabinete.”**

My mother announced this to my brothers and me this past spring. My parents had long since disposed of the stereo we had since the late 80s. The tuner worked, but the turntable was in constant need of a needle, the speakers worked intermittently, and the cassette players ate magnetic tape. It had become a dust collector and some 10 years ago they had got rid of it.

There was no longer any means of playing the LPs, so it was understandable that my mother would want to rid herself of belongings that didn’t pertained to her. The LPs, which were possibly evidence of an addiction in the 80s, were was now dusty obstructions in the 00s. Additionally, I have felt that it is not my parents’ responsibility to hold on to their children’s belongings long after they have moved away. Some years ago my mother pointed out that I still had art materials stashed away behind the china cabinet: illustration board, frames, mat board, and artwork. I took some home with me but I also got rid of materials I didn’t foresee using. What was the point of holding on to stuff that no one was going to use?

So it was with due diligence that I sorted out the LPs that belonged to me from those of my siblings. It demonstrated who I was (and still am), my tastes and how they had changed since then: Supertramp, Spandau Ballet, Manhattan Transfer, Little River Band, Styx, Cat Stevens, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the Best of Peter, Paul and Mary, Neil Diamond, Sade, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing, Technicolor Coat, Barbara Streisand’s Yentl, Rhino Record’s Christmas Classics, Billy Joel, Billy Joel, Billy Joel.

The music reminded me of the late 80s and the persons associated with it. Jesus Christ Superstar was used as a text during Lent by cool Mr. Weber in my Catholic elementary school. Supertramp’s Breakfast in America was wonderful music that came out when I was in high school. Bobby Rodriguez, my roommate in my first year in college, had introduced me to the Boss. Billy Joel and Sade were hot when I was at St. John’s Seminary. I still remember Ernie Fimbres when I hear Manhattan Transfer’s Wacky Dust. The films Yentl and Tootsie were painful reminders were protagonists had to hide themselves (and their love) behind personas. There was also a large two-volume set of Las joyas de la música, classical and soft contemporary music, given to me by my Tía Armida, who has since died. I took it all home to San Francisco with me, not exactly sure what I would do with them. They ended up as a small pile in my living room while I traveled.

Last month, when George and I were steam cleaning the carpet, I decided that I needed a place for the LPs. I could take them to my bedroom, where they would collect dust. I could take them to the basement, wrapped in plastic, but the humidity there would probably cause mold and fungus to grow on the records. But the central question was whether I had planned to use and enjoy these records. I didn’t see myself buying a turntable; I am so used to the convenience of my CD player or my iTunes. So what would I do with them, even as memories were associated with them and I didn’t have some of the music in any other format other than in an LP? This is a constant contemporary challenge: as new modes of storage are developed what other formats become obsolete. I still have music cassettes and I have a boombox and a car where I can play them, but I rarely do. At school last week, I found a nearly new box of floppy disk drives, now everything is on flash drives.

I decided that it was best to have others enjoy the music than have them sit in my attic, my basement or any other part of my house. I really felt badly about getting rid of my Tía Armida’s Las joyas de la música as she had specifically given them to me. To rid myself of them felt like I was dishonoring her memory. But I figured that she would have wanted me to enjoy the music, not store the LPs somewhere. And if I couldn’t enjoy them then someone else could, and I would be complying with the spirit of her gift.

I took them to Streetlight Records in the Castro. From 3 canvas bags full of LPs and after checking for their condition, they accepted only about 25 LPs for which I got $10. What was I going to do with the rest of the LPs? I guess I could put them on line (Craigslist or ebay) but I was ready to part with them. I ended up dropping them off (some 75 of them) at the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, where they would be sold to raise money for the public library. While I didn’t get any money for them, I was happy that someone (I hope) would get joy from listening to them. What was once perhaps evidence of shopaholism was now sitting in a warehouse ready to be sorted and displayed. And memories associated with these artifacts would become a little less tangible but no less real.

*That is now an addiction.

**Take your records because I am going to get rid of this entertainment center.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

making aRt wherever you can

a simple delight is to make art wherever and from whatever you can. here are some examples from after having lunch at La Taqueria yesterday in San Francisco.

a paper rose

a house on fire

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One bucket only

As part of cleaning the bathroom, I patched up a small area of grout with sealant just below the waterspout. On the following day after a run, I wanted to shower, but I didn’t want to disturb the sealant, as it hadn’t quite cured. So I proceeded to fill a two-gallon bucket with warm water, placed it in the bathtub and washed my body using an empty yogurt tub. It felt so primitive and basic to affuse two pintfuls of water to wet my body, lather my head and body and rinse off with the remaining water. I didn’t actually need the entire two-gallons and was surprised to see how little water I really needed. A bucket may become a permanent fixture in my bathroom. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunset Beach, Watsonville

I was hoping that a weekend camping trip in Santa Cruz would be warmer than the cool foggy weather we've been having in San Francisco.  While Friday evening was gorgeous, Saturday was overcast and Sunday we woke up to damp fog. But the warmth was created by friends who had chosen to gather, to share food, to play and to pray, to bless Rosie and regale in each others' company. We created our own sun.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Strangers in the Pix

While waiting to go in the Orpheum to see "Wicked", Paloma asked me to take a photo of her family with the advertising poster. I was waiting for people to pass by when a set of women asked to be in the photo. While I was taken aback, I responded, "OK," and they got in the picture. I thought it was charming and forward of them and open of us to cooperate. So now we have a picture with strangers posing with us. 

Paloma says we should be so forward and ask strangers to be in their photographs.

I suggested we give the strangers names so when friends and family ask, "Who are these people?" we have names.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

The other day I was walking on Market St. and found a man sleeping so peacefully and beautifully that on a second pass I decided to capture this sleeping beauty.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


A lovely tradition is to set aside space
with a special person in a specific place
to share drinks & treats, words & feats;
But the encounter, in essence, is to enjoy each other's presence.

I can't remember. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wicked Tix, Parking Tix

Last week I drove downtown to see about the availability to get tickets to “Wicked” at the Orpheum. I parked on Mission St. off of 8th St. where there were construction sign boards stating “No Parking. Mon-Sat 7:00 am to 4:00”. Since it was 3:55 pm, I thought it would be safe and put quarters for about 40 minutes of parking time into meter and went about my errands.

 When I came back, I saw my car was gone. What happened? This is not what I needed. Did the tow truck come by and tow my car within the 5 minutes remaining to 4 o’clock? Then I noticed the No Parking sign from 4-7:00 pm as the parking spaces became a traffic lane. How could I have missed it?  This is not what I needed. Stupid. 

I called the number on the sign and fortunately my car had been towed to a place only four blocks away on 7th and Harrison.  I walked there and paid the towing charge: $273. And there was a parking ticket on my windshield of my car: $73. For a grand total of $346—this is not what I needed. 

But what was disturbing were the number of people who were also picking up their towed cars. Rather than feeling good not to be the only forgetful, stupid person, I was troubled by the continuous steady stream of people who were there to pick up their autos. At any one time from the time I arrived to the time I paid to the time I left, there were at  least four people at the pick up gate. Is there that many people who left their cars in No Parking Zones? The City and AutoReturn, the towing service, must be making good money on all this forgetfulness. 

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'll be there

I hope we remember Michael Jackson for his talent and how it impacted those of us who grew up with his music: ABC, I'll be there, Billy Jean, Thriller, We are the World. May the good he did impact us to do the same. 

Saturday, June 13, 2009

end of sabbatical

Last Tuesday was the "last" of school, so officially my last day of my sabbatical. While I still have the summer before I go back to work, I need to prepare to get back to work, like securing and advocating for the position I will have in the school year. I am also equipping myself mentally and emotionally to be back in a school site after having a year off--it will not be easy. I am already having dreams of school....yikes!
This, while looking at things to do around the house, reviewing my trips, preparing my National Boards renewal, working on illustration projects, staying healthy, etc.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Back in Peru

May 23, 2009
  • Walk
  • Huaca Pucllana
  • Lunch: Al fresca
  • Shopping
  • Café
  • 8:00 pm arrive LIM


Back in Peru

One of the adventures of traveling is to land in a city without a place to stay and locate one. It is all fine and well when it is daylight, but when it is night it can be a challenge.


I decided to lodge in the upscale Miraflores neighborhood of Lima and selected a place in Lonely Planet. However at 11:30 pm, the place had no space, neither did the other nearby locales. We drove around for 20 minutes before we found one. I was fortunate that the taxi driver was determined that I have a place for the night. So while arriving in a city late at night without a place to stay is not the wisest thing, I was blessed helpfulness of a stranger.



This year of traveling about to end. While it is sad, I am looking forward to being home. The entire year off has been a blessing--the people, the places, the cultures, the history, the food, the knowledge, and the interior growth. I just hope I can maintain the peace and equilibrium that I have learned this year into my work. Work? How am I ever going to go back to work?


May 24, 2009

  • 1:15 am depart LIM
  • 7:30 am arrive MIA
  • 11:10 am arrive DFW
  • 2:30 pm arrive SFO

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sucre, Bolivia

May 19, 2009

  • Museo de la Libertad
  • Museo de Charcas
  • Terminal
  • Museo de Charcas
  • Museo de Recoleta
  • Mirador
  • Bookstore
  • 7:00 pm. Film: ¿Qué hace una chica como tú en un sitio como este?
  • Dinner: Pailita

 Sucre, Bolivia

I am feeling much better now that I settled into the quiet city of Sucre, at only 2700 masl. While it is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, it does not have the impact of La Paz. It is easy to be seduced by formerly La Plata, formerly Chuquisaca, now Sucre, as it has beautiful plazas, cafes, and a thriving arts scene.


I am presently reading Eduardo Galeano´s Las venas abieras de America Latina, a history of why Latin America is among the world’s have-nots. It is very interesting reading. He states that the reason the Western world (Europe, the US) is at the top of the economic pyramid is because the colonies of Spain and Portugal were used to extract their riches and build capital in Western Europe (both with slave labor and the promotion of monocultivation in Latin America) which caused Latin America to be dependent on an economic system that favors the developed countries. Spain and Portugal, and the subsequent post-colonial governments, also failed to build up native enterprises/businesses in the Americas so that they became dependent on the finished products of the industrialized countries. It is on this wealth that the industrialized countries built their capital, a system that continues to this day.. My being in Latin America has prompted me to read this, especially being in countries where I get by so cheaply (in Bolivia, $10-15 a day), while the locals struggle to make ends meet....


May 20, 2009

  • Mass
  • Museo de la Catedral
  • Lunch: El Germen; great place
  • Parque Bolivar
  • Plaza 25 de mayo
  • Tea: Joy Ride
  • Terminal
  • 7:00 pm depart Sucre

 May 21, 2009

  • 7:30 am arrive La Paz
  • Museo de Música
  • Museo Costumbrista
  • Museo Litoral
  • Museo de Metales Preciosas
  • Museo Nacional de Entografico y Folklorico
  • Museo de Coca
  • Mendoza Plaza

 May 22, 2009

  • Breakfast: Tambo colonial: great place!
  • Museo antropológico
  • Plaza de Estudiante
  • Plaza San Francisco
  • 9:30 pm depart La Paz
  • 10:30 pm arrive Lima

This is the other Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Sucre.

Pailita, a dish of sauted beef with an egg on rice with plaintain and curtido (pickled vegetables). 

Papas rellenas with sautéed vegetables at El Germen in Sucre. The potatoes are filled with cheese and tomatoes and baked crispy. Very good. If you are in Sucre, go early to their lunch specials where you can eat for less than $2.50.

A band of dogs resting on the street.