Writers Resist

IMG_2837 (1).JPGNo rhyme can be said where reason has fled.                                                                                                  June Jordan

The Bay Area Writers Resist event last night in Oakland was the most uplifting few hours I’ve spent since November 9. Continue reading

Have You Seen Santa?

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It’s that time of year again, and hidden amidst the gazillion catalogs are the holiday cards. I love to get them. I always felt badly about not sending anything in return and envious of mothers who managed to put together the family photo shoot and sign and send. If you’re reading this and wondering why you weren’t on my holiday card list, that’s because there was no list. Continue reading

Three pictures from El Paso-Juarez

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A week after returning from our Thanksgiving holiday in El Paso, and I continue to be grateful for family harmony. In three days under my brother’s roof, there were no arguments or disagreements about the recent election. We are all in accord about the frightening state our country is in now. We are bound together for reasons beyond shared DNA. We all hate bigotry. Everyone in this two generational picture voted for justice. Continue reading

A Sad Day in Our Nation’s History

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Fifty-three years ago today, I sat in my English class in Dallas and doodled spirals on my notebook. The next week would be Thanksgiving, and I was dreaming about my four-day holiday. One year earlier, my family had moved to Dallas from Baltimore, and I thought we had landed in a different universe — in a place where kids of color attended separate schools, in a place where drinking fountains were marked “white” and “colored.” I had never seen those signs before. Continue reading

Abandoned

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The five-year old girl sat waiting in her wheelchair. When she tried to speak, all she could say was a mournful “aaah.” She was scrubbed clean. Her pink leggings matched a pink t-shirt matched her pink sneakers and pink socks. Her tight black curls were cut close for easy care. Her head swished back and forth as if she was scanning the room with her deep brown eyes.

Abandoned by her birth mother. Abandoned by her foster parents. She was denied placement in kindergarten, because her constant crying disturbed the other children. No one knew if she had ever received any therapy. Continue reading

Saying What She Wanted

Ariela.Dynavox

The Huffington Post recently ran this blog post: “Man With ALS Tells His Wife ‘I Love You’ Out Loud For First Time In 15 Years.”

I thought, how sweet. His first words were his expression of love for his wife (and primary caregiver). I had hoped for similar sentiments from Ariela. Maybe she would say something like, “I love you, mom.”

She was around twenty, when she received a new communication device, a system that came with hundreds of short phrases, as well as an alphabet with word prediction software. She needed to select the first few letters and a choice of words would appear on the computer screen. A small speaker by her ear gave her the cues, and at that time, she used a switch on her forehead to choose the word she wanted. She was quick to use the phrases, experimented with the alphabet, but had yet to spell a word.

Not long after getting the device, some of her friends came for dinner. One friend brought a boyfriend, a good-looking guy with a goatee. He sat down across the table from Ariela and smiled at her.

Ariela looked directly at him and said with her synthesized voice, “K” and “I” and then “Kiss.”

Now for all of you who participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge:  Like Ariela, people with ALS rely heavily on assistive technology to communicate.  Ariela was fortunate to have had private insurance pay for her communication device, commonly called Speech Generating Devices (SGDs). The man with ALS might have had coverage for his SGD through Medicare and/or Medicaid. However, changes in the last year are threatening this coverage. You can help. Contact your U.S. representative and ask for support for H.R. 628. Here are the details.

Saving the Planet

crissy field Gabriela & Benji

Last week, President Obama vetoed legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, a major move to protect our environment by curtailing production of fossil fuels.

Ariela was a tree-hugger and a member of the Sierra Club.

Her passion for the environment began after she heard Julia Butterfly Hill. Ariela was about twelve years old at the time. She sat in the front row and stared up at the guest speaker. Butterfly Hill was a young woman who didn’t lean on platitudes. She told her story with religious zeal, and she spoke directly to Ariela. Saying “Save the Redwoods” wasn’t enough. Butterfly Hill had lived in the upper branches of a thousand year-old redwood for over two years.

Ariela was inspired. She read both of Butterfly Hill’s books, The Legacy of Luna and One Makes the Difference: Inspiring Actions that Change our World. That’s when she joined the Sierra Club. Like Butterfly Hill, Ariela wasn’t one to rest on slogans. When she finished high school, she became a volunteer trail docent at Crissy Field, part of Golden Gate National Park. She patrolled once a week for eight years. Her dog, Benji, dutifully came along until he no longer could. Her painting on the banner of this website is her impression of the trees she passed on the trail. Ariela was very proud to be a steward of the park and of our natural resources. She knew that to save our planet we would need to change our behavior. She would have approved of Obama’s stance against the pipeline.

The kings of the forest, the noblest of noble race, rightly belong to the world, but as they are in California, we cannot escape the responsibility as their guardians.   – John Muir