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Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016

Thank you, Col. Chris Hadfield.

Col. Chris Hadfield
With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look.
 
1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-38153932

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.
http://www.searo.who.int/mediacentre/releases/2016/1631/en/

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has official been removed from the endangered species list.
http://www.nbcnews.com/…/giant-pandas-are-no-longer-endange…

4. Tim Peake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.
https://www.theguardian.com/…/tim-peake-nursing-worlds-wors…

5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/…/160410-tiger-numbers-…/

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 800 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/juno-probe-nasa-celebrates-as…/

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.
http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/veteran-homelessness-droppe…/

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.
http://www.aljazeera.com/…/malawi-reduced-hivaids-infection…

9. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.
http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/2016-one-safest-years-aviat…/

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.
http://www.forbes.com/…/india-bet-6-billion-carbon-storag…/…

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.
http://www.theatlantic.com/…/09/measel-free-americas/501887/

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.
https://www.nasa.gov/…/nsf-s-ligo-has-detected-gravitation…/

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.
http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/china-announces-ban-ivory-t…/

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.
http://www.cnn.com/…/trav…/solar-impulse-2-plane-california/

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.
http://thecostaricanews.com/costa-rica-used-100-renewable-…/

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.
http://www.reuters.com/…/us-israel-radiation-treatment-idUS…

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.
http://www.cnn.com/…/…/health/antarctic-ozone-layer-healing/

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.
http://www.bbc.com/news/health-36304018

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.
http://www.newsweek.com/ebola-vaccine-small-pox-outbreak-va…

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.
http://www.reuters.com/…/us-canada-environment-rainforest-i…

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.
http://www.reuters.com/…/us-environment-oceans-pledges-idUS…

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.
https://www.theguardian.com/…/malaysia-just-established-a-o…

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/…/ross-sea-marine-prote…/

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.
http://sciencebulletin.org/archives/5347.html

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.
http://www.nytimes.com/…/a-medical-mystery-of-the-best-kind…

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.
http://www.csmonitor.com/…/Uruguay-The-little-country-that-…

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.
http://www.nytimes.com/…/is-the-era-of-great-famines-over.h…

28. The AU made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/the-opposite-of-brexit-af…/

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/…/rise-in-global-carbon…/

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.
http://www.wri.org/…/chinas-1-2-3-punch-tackle-wasted-renew…

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.
http://www.dutchnews.nl/…/falling-crime-rates-and-prison-c…/

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.
www.generatorevent.com/arctic/

33. Science, economics, and environmentalist saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/…/how-dwindling-fish-…/

34. Boyan Slat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.
https://www.theoceancleanup.com/

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.
https://ensia.com/features/water-desalination-middle-east/

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.
http://www.independent.co.uk/…/italy-food-waste-laws-news-m…

37. People pouring ice on their head provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.
http://www.alsa.org/…/significant-gene-discovery-072516.htm…

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are no longer endangered.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/ex…/manatees-threatened/

39. Grizzlies, arguable the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in national parks.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/…/160304-grizzlies-bear…/

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being spent to help the world’s 65 million refugees doubling.
http://www.oecd.org/…/development-aid-rises-again-in-2015-s…

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.
https://givingusa.org/giving-usa-2016/

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.
http://www.africanews.com/…/bill-gates-to-invest-5-billion…/

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.
http://www.nytimes.com/…/americ…/canada-syrian-refugees.html


44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.
http://www.pbs.org/…/teen-birthrate-reaches-all-time-low-c…/

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.
https://www.wired.com/…/spacex-just-landed-rocket-ground-f…/

46. Finally - The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere.
http://www.nbcnews.com/…/chicago-cubs-bury-curse-first-worl…


Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Leningrad Cowboys & Red Army Choir - SWEET HOME ALABAMA



"Sveet home Ah-lah-bah-mah"

MTV Video Music Awards 1994

When I fell in love with the Red Army Choir.

Enough, 2016.   Time to go away.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Traditions

When I was a kid, my parents (especially my mom) made Christmas magical.  Decorations in every room (well, not the bathrooms).  Cookie baking and decorating.  Homemade flannel pajamas for Christmas Eve. A gorgeous Christmas tree (Dad insisted on one strand of tinsel at a time).   The presents starting showing up under the tree a week or more before Christmas Eve, and we were each allowed to choose one to open that night.  In addition, there was always a new board game wrapped for Christmas Eve fun.



I tried to keep the magic going in my own home.  Decorations in every room (even the bathroom).  Their dad preferred to have all the gifts show up on Christmas Eve (or, more likely, he didn't shop until then) but I liked to put a few under there for the boys to suffer over.  And while I didn't make flannel pajamas (they were too hot for my little furnaces), they did always get new pajamas when they were little.

I added some new traditions of my own, and we all loved the countdown quilt.


Twenty-four little quilted boxes filled with surprises and tied with ribbons.  When they were little, the prizes might be a special eraser or little toy for each that would break after a few minutes.  A giant candy cane, always, in the last box.  As they got older, the erasers and toys changed to quarters or rolled up dollar bills.

Easily a third of the boxes held chocolates that I used my collection of Christmas candy molds to make into sweet holiday shapes or delightful suckers.  Snowmen and Christmas trees and Santa.  Two little cellophane bags holding a tasty treat in each box, one for each boy.

They enjoyed that tradition well into their teens and beyond.  As long as they were around, I filled that quilt and didn't stop until they had moved out and away.

You never know what they carry away from home.  And so it brought happy tears to walk into my house today after a morning away to find my youngest dressed in an apron and pouring melted chocolate (Mercken's, the good kind that I always used and that he had to order on Amazon) into those same molds that I had used for over a decade.  He was making those favorite candies for his best friend's annual Ugly Sweater party.  My baby (all gorgeous 6'6" of him) dressed as Santa tonight.  The chocolates were gifts for their mutual friends, in addition to the bagful of toys (all projectiles) that Santa was bringing.

I'm an emotional mess after last week and not real sure how our changed Christmas plans will work out this week.  But right now I'm nurturing a happy holiday bubble inside.  It's a thrill to know that the handmade chocolates were not taken for granted, had been loved and appreciated enough to be brought back for another round.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Whimsy Works



Yeah.  I needed this.

It's about hope, and dreams.  Right?

No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true.

Dreams, wishes and a whole lot of action.

Another racing day.

As much as I hoped and dreamed for rain, its timing could have been better.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Well, Crap.

We knew about the congestive heart failure and consequent water retention.

Now we add deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

Oxygen.

Good thing she's a tough old broad.  That stubborn streak will hold us all together for a while.

Need to find out how to do oxygen at Disneyland.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Spa Time

Mom's taking some time off at Kaiser Woodland Hills.

She has fluid retention issues thanks to her congestive heart failure.

My sister and I have decided we just need to check her in a couple of times a year for some spa days.  Kick back in bed, someone else to bathe her and feed her, good-looking orderlies, sweet attendants.

This is the second time she's had to go in for this, and last time she came out feeling MUCH better.

Help us think good thoughts, please.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Hey, Mom!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Premature

It's OK.

I believe that when something is "right," there is no anxiety.  No confusion.  No feet dragging.

So I've taken really seriously my anxiety, confusion and feet dragging about my retirement decision.

I talked to the STRS rep on Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon discovered that I'd made a budgeting mistake (having to do with my late husband's pension) that was big enough to keep me in the classroom for a while longer.

Once I discovered my mistake and concluded that retirement would have to wait, I was at peace.

New decision is the right decision.  And I'm fine with it.  I don't hate what I do, I love the people I work with and there is enough discretionary time to fulfill my Masteryear plans (or most of them) during the year even with work.

Everything always works out for me. 



Just because.
 Mom and I took our first Christmas trip to Disneyland.  I didn't buy the top level pass this year (who wants to be there for the biggest crowds of the year, anyway?) so we're cramming our visits in early.  This one and another on December 3.

It was a perfect day with a slight chance of showers that kept some people away.  I wanted to go to New Orleans Square to see the decorations and the sidewalks - often impassible, always crowded - were practically empty so I was able to maneuver the wheelchair out of the way and actually capture some nice pictures.

My favorite balcony.

One of the Club 33 entrances.  I guess nobody's using it now.



My mom couldn't understand why I was set on taking her picture right here.  I showed her once I got it that she matched the poinsettias.
 

Our day was pretty normal for us.  We were hoping to find the Moana Tsum Tsums at World of Disney.  We did.  We had a nice breakfast at Rancho del Zocalo, then went up to NOS.  Came back down to enjoy the Silverdollar Six on the balcony over the Golden Horseshoe, then got a good table to enjoy them again inside the theater.  The first showing of Laughing Stock was a good one because the audience members did an awesome job.

We decided our schedule would be to go see Musical Chairs with the Mad Hatter at 3:45, then stay there to catch what we could of the Holiday Magic Parade at 4:15.  We were a little worried, though, because the last time we were there Hatter was at the Coke Corner for Musical Chairs at 2:45.  I suggested that we change the plan and go to the Corner to see the 1:15 parade so that we would be there in case Hatter did show up at 2:35.  We left the Golden Horseshoe, did a restroom stop and then got to Coke Corner and got a good table.

Evidence of low attendance.  You NEVER see three empty tables here at lunch time.
And were really glad we did because Hatter showed up at 12:45 this time.  He had a rough job yesterday as there were few children in the audience, so musical chairs was mostly delightful adults who played along to see that the two little ones were the winners.



I had hoped to see the holiday parade in the evening, but they have brought back the Paint the Night parade so were only running the holiday parade during the daylight.  It's just not the same. Some of my favorites missing and if the herald trumpets - my very favorite part of the parade -  were there (we were sitting back from the street and couldn't see what was happening on the ground) they marched past us because I didn't get to hear them play.  Another casualty of the Paint the Night Parade (part Las Vegas - part Mardi Gras) were my favorite decorations, the Mickey swags across Main Street.  I spent some energy working on minimizing disappointment yesterday.

Still, we could see the tops of the floats and somehow I managed to catch some of them.









Look at him zeroing in on my Mom again.  How did he know the stud magnet was back in the park?
 

We stopped and shopped at the Emporium on our way out and I found the best Disneyland Christmas decoration they've had in years.  I collect unusual tins, and this is a tin music box cookie tin.  I'm trying to find out if Jerrod Maruyama designed it, because the critters are sort of his style.

video

We got to the tram station for our limo tram ride back to parking and made our trip over to Knott's Berry Farm for a nice early chicken dinner.  The first two times we tried this were traumatic, but we didn't realize how traumatic until yesterday's super fast and easy trip.

The food does taste better without the bitter aftertaste of trauma.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Transitions and Transformations.


For twenty years I was a daughter.
Then a wife.
And seven years later, I added mother.
And then teacher.
And five years ago, grandma.

I had my meeting with the STRS representative.  She went through everything I needed to know to decide whether to retire at the end of this teaching year.

Yes.

I will be 66.
I will begin a year-long Masteryear celebration.
Of me.

I realize, this will be the first time that I will add
SELF
to the list of Me.

I've realized that for most of my life, I have not seen myself as SELF.  Only in relation to others.

I've been doing the work to bring my SELF out.
I like her.

It's our time to play.