Eschew on this

It’s Thanksgiving week as we all know. And, I could have prepared a feel good piece about how Geoffrey and I celebrate at a table filled with delicious, ethical seasonal fare such as pistachio risotto with roasted root vegetables and cornbread stuffing with porcini gravy and maple-sweetened yams.

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But, I am feeling too serious for all that.

I will make this brief.  As we sat around chewing over the disastrous outcome of the recent election, and listened to Free Speech TV — the only talking heads I can bear any longer, i.e., Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, Bill Press and Amy Goodman — it gradually dawned on me that nothing we can do now or in the future will change the morass we find ourselves in.  In fact, I now recognize that we, in America, just like the rest of the world, have been enduring these political boom/bust cycles for the past few thousand years.  Around and ’round we go on the gerbil wheel, deluding ourselves that this 21st century is any better than any before it.

Let me boil it down and if anyone cares to challenge or amplify it, I welcome your input, as this is a short week and at our house we are in the throes of holiday prep.  We will be spending it in Los Angeles and then I will be in San Diego for most of January, so my writing and photography will be subject to my new computer equipment and abbreviated time to do both. I hope to stick to my two week schedule, but don’t hold me to it.

Part of the reason I blog is to share my enthusiasm or my discoveries in all the arenas in which I dabble: crafts, photography, gardening, nutrition, decorating, music, higher consciousness, and politics.  What is the point of another blithe piece on any one of these when the realization that we are just fooling ourselves into thinking there is real progress is just that: foolish, silly, and deluded.

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I am not a depressive type by nature, so believe me when I tell you I am not sad about this, nor down, nor dejected, nor defeated.  I am more resigned, accepting and sobered by it.  Life goes on. I have lots of hobbies and activities that keep me busy. I am an acquisitor, as I have joked about extensively. Name the item and I have at least 100 of them. No foolin’. I say this not with pride, but with astonishment. Stuff just arrives. Good, nice stuff that I really like. Like my new computer and all the bells, whistles and gimcracks I got to go along with it. Like all the bling and shine and color I add to my wardrobe, my home, my accessories.  That’s enough to keep one person occupied.

Unfortunately, I am cursed with an inquistor’s mind. I think a lot, love to study, want to know what is true, to look at the sweep of history and learn lessons from it. From my own errors, achievements and those of others.  That is where I think I have been stuck and as a result have fruitlessly expected the right, the good, the true and the beautiful to prevail. But it hasn’t.

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And why do I say this? Because, despite our evolving intellect and psyche, the reins of power remain in the hands of the very few, the owner class, that much overworked but accurate term, the plutocrats/oligarchs, and has done so for thousands of years.  It is no different today than it was in medieval times when powerful landowners bullied and terrorized their way to scooping up treasure from those less powerful, to the colonial times of the Founders here when the fortunes were made on the backs of free labor, conscripted for the purpose of making a handful of European overlords exceedingly rich, to the current fossil fuel hegemons, the so-called petro-billionaire class who are loyal only to their billions, who depend on a duped, doped, docile army of workers, toiling at near slave wages, to continue building their obscene wealth and immutable power.

If this makes me sound like a communist or a conspiracy-theorist, I am neither. I do like a Scandinavian-style capitalism, in a peaceful (anti-bellicose), verdant, egalitarian social order but have long given up that we can have it here. To see Europe and the United States taken over by right-wing Nationalists is to set my personal idealism back 30 years. While I am at it, the world doesn’t think The Leader is stupid, they think the American voters are.

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Who is better off? The supposed adherents to the “white-lash” myth, who believed The Leader would be a change agent and who, to this minute, refuse to see that he is filling our government with the very thieves and crooks and liars that caused their misery in the first place? The self-same group! What is the matter with Americans? Can’t they see that they are being abused all over again and actually partnering in it willingly?

Or are we so-called bi-coastal ‘elites’ (hah!) happier in the knowledge that we, with our lofty principles and untrammeled notions of the inner goodness that comes self-illumined, just threw away the next 30 years of progress with both hands? The election was stolen through a variety of means. Those of us on the ‘left’ know exactly what they were. People on the ‘right’ refuse to acknowledge these techniques. (Anyone here forgotten those tricks? Just ask and I will refresh you on them, but in a nutshell: voter purges and suppression). We watched the oligarchs use their toadies to pull this off and we did and said nothing. This is what a modern day coup looks like, folks.  We should demand a recount of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. But Democrats being the elegant people they are, will likely not do that. Just imagine if the situation were reversed.

The public was lured down this dark road by the promise of jobs. Really? The Leader is promising fossil fuel jobs. That industry is being mechanized. It has little or nothing to do with trade deals or the world, it has to do with improved technology supplanting costly and inefficient human labor. The Leader cannot bring those jobs back, it was and is a lie.  Our Candidate promised jobs associated with the booming clean energy industry, but coal miners and frackers would need new training. That frightens them, so they ignored its promise. Other advanced countries are already eating our lunch in that sector, among them Germany and China, for heaven sake. But, The Leader and his backers in the fossil fuel field (Robert Mercer, a Koch crony, bought this election and got the puppet of his choice appointed to the highest seat in the land. It might as well be Mercer himself in the White House) don’t want to relinquish the feed bag and certainly not to any public works or middle class!

The Leader is also jumping in front of the infrastructure parade, giving himself credit. And what do you think he will do? Privatize it and put up toll roads! Duh! Our Candidate would have made this a shared bond-issue project from which all communities would have benefited at the individual and collective level. You decide which you would have preferred.

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Which is worse, the drug of stupidity or that of superiority? We progressive post-modernists were so sure that when the oppressed considered their choices between a fascist and a proletarian, they would obviously know which to choose in their own best interest. Did they? No, into the mouth of the dragon they marched, willingly and cheering, wearing the beast’s colors proudly as they went.

Sorry. I know I have a lot to be thankful for, and I am, believe me. I begin and end every single day reflecting on these.

What I won’t be doing ever again is believing that anyone outside the tight circle of the powerful can have the society we were all promised. The only way these people can maintain their pinnacle is on the backs of modern-day slaves, and slaves we are.  All we can do is decorate our slave quarters, both physical and mental, and survive in them.

Despite this, I am happy. Perhaps that is because I can afford to be. I will weather this latest cycle of Thatcher-Reaganism. Though a slave myself, I am one of the more accepted among them: an Irish Catholic woman of modest means, who toes the mark and only protests in futile academic words that most can ignore as being tiresome, dull and abstruse. So be it.  Maybe I will wake up in another life, on Mars, and be too busy scrounging for oxygen to notice that it is the same world order there as here, then as now and was.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

 

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Dark matters

dsc_6632-smallWhat irony. My last post was on the sunny, warm, glowing happiness that comes with San Diego and its Great Ball of Fire, that spreads over the landscape virtually every day of the year. Then I came back up to our main house in Valencia and a week of welcomed rain and cold, with dark turbulent skies and roiling clouds. Being a Jersey Shore girl, I reveled in it.

By the time I had the photographs we took, walking around in the rain on Halloween eve, open in LightRoom, I was struck by the contrast. It gave me such a sense of foreboding. As if the set and the weather premonitored the coming upheaval we are experiencing this week.

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You be the judge.  What timing, no?

I had planned this title long before Election Day.  It was going to be all about the importance of spending time in the dark, in our overlit, 21st century world. Our eyes need dark, just the way they do distance, to rest and be healthy.  Ah, but it was not to be.

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Nope, that idea will have to be developed in the future.  Right now, I am marinating in the stupefying swill of the voting results.

I am going to say it here, one more time: the people who voted for The Man, were lied to.  He and his right-wing cronies made promises they knowingly could not keep. Unfortunately, despite my candidate winning the popular vote, our antediluvian electoral college system handed the White House to this unqualified, unscrupulous man and a coterie of opportunistic helpers who merely want power and influence and money for themselves.

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I know I have friends here who do not like my candidate. I contend you don’t know her, even though you think you do. She has been lied about aggressively for more than 30 years by jealous, resentful people who are not only against powerful females, but who cannot believe anyone wants to serve others without ulterior motives.

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They are wrong. My mother is one such person. Her father, another. I watched both of them give a lifetime of care, selflessly, to others.  I believe Secretary Clinton is another one.

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Take a look at what we are in for right now. See the way Trump is going to “drain the swamp” and then think about the choice you made Tuesday. Read each description carefully.

So, OK, America, you are getting the leader you deserve. Let’s see what he does to us and most importantly, for us.  I am saying it now: I told you so.

Images: ChezBeBe assets/Valencia, California, November 2016

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Great balls of fire

It’s curious how events  often come together in a strangely synchronic manner.  We had spent two months over the summer looking for a vacation home so we could be nearer to Deanna and Al and what struck me most about them each time we went touring, was their Craftsman charm, high prices (ouch), and most of all the brilliant sunlight they enjoy, literally pouring into each space. For people who have had apartments/co-ops in New York City, you know how valuable (and pricey) light and air are there. In Southern California, it comes baked in to the atmosphere, if you’ll allow me to mix images.

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Consequently, I referred to the whole experience as one dictated by the sun, that great ball of fire that seems to be a permanent fixture of every outdoor and indoor space. This is partially due to California’s golden climate and in part the result of global warming. Whatever the cause, it is here to stay.

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At the same time, I began a new project working on questionnaires for parents who have ‘explosive’ children, those who have combustible personalities as a result of one or more in a range of mood disorders. In the past we may have thought of these kids as “brats”, whose personalities were permitted to run wild. They were “out of control”, “undisciplined”, little “tyrants”. Or so it was assumed.

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Now we know that these are children who have difficulty processing information and change. They are easily frustrated and act out, as their ability to deal with stressful (to them) situations deteriorates and they lash out in what is really a cry for help. We need to radically rearrange our thinking about and approach to this potentially deadly syndrome.

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That made me think about how dramatically child-rearing has changed in the more progressive parts of the country.  When most of us were growing up, parents routinely barked orders for which non-compliance brought punishment. The latest thinking in child development psychology is that punishment does not produce learning but only short term benefits with long term deficits.

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Another thing I learned long ago, when I was in school earning my first of degree in what used to be called “special education” (in my case, for emotionally disturbed children — now referred to differently, more along the lines of those with emotional needs), is that all teachers should receive more training in child psychology and development. If they did, they would all be better equipped to accept and manage children in the regular classroom whose maturation is delayed in a number of areas (cognitive, emotional, physical, mental, etc.).

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Rather than treat them as if they were defiant delinquents, we now realize they have a condition akin to any other syndrome that may afflict any of us from birth, like poor eyesight or impeded motor skills.  These kinds of anomalies require extra care and can be managed so these children eventually catch up to and function among their peers who do not have these particular challenges.

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Instead of barking harsh commands and enacting extreme disciplinary measures, the best practices approach now is to calm and reassure them to diffuse the impending explosion or blow up and then engage them in a safe verbal exchange that aims to bring their ideas into the situation in a cooperative, collaborative way. These are children who know what is expected of them by parents, teachers or peers and want to please, but whose short fuse leads to a temporary deterioration of reasoning that makes any attempt to “reach” them virtually impossible.  Best to avoid getting them to the trigger point by picking battles (not sweating the small stuff) and concentrating on the most important behaviors that they will need to master to be fully functioning in society now and in the future.

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Anyway, this is more than you probably wanted to know about my work, but it did seem appropriate to go along with the explosive and fiery nature of the sun this past summer while we were looking for our getaway place. There must be a joint lesson in all this for me — but one thing it has done is caused me to look at my own nature, the corners where my anger demons dwell and to consider the value of getting things out of the shadows, into the bright light for examination. I determined, through both the process of “owning” my time in California, hot and alien though it may be to this East Coaster, and looking at the areas in which I am inflexible/intransigent and at times combative, that the approach educators and therapists are now taking to these volatile human beings, is the one we should all take all the time with everyone. This is especially important right now with all this dark toxicity interfering with our collective sense of peace and security.

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We would be a much happier, sunnier society. Just a thought or two and a work in progress, like everything else I embark upon.

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Images: Chez BeBe assets/San Diego

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By the way, please read today’s post from my friend Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, on children with ADHD and suicide. Madelyn’s entire site is devoted to research and therapy in this field and provides invaluable information, resources and commentary.

Rode to joy

You will be gratified to see that this is not a wordy post, for a change because this has been a frenzied two weeks and the rest of the year portends to be no less harried.

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Time for updates. Autumn has finally arrived in Los Angeles, more or less. We had a scorching summer and the utility bills to match. Ouch.  But, finally, we will be in a six month mild period of sorts and not a day too soon for this cold-weather afficionada.

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This weekend I am heading down to our new second home, first to our cottage and then to my Aunt’s and finally to stay with Al and Deanna while they welcome a new addition to their household.

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Whenever I am able to be on the ocean, I feel at home because that’s where I grew up, both in NYC and at the Jersey Shore. As many of you know, when Geoffrey and I first moved to California as newlyweds, we also lived on the beach, so taking my morning coffee out to watch the waves and my evening tea to see the sunset, is something I have done all my life. For some reason, in San Diego in particular, the sunset lights up the western sky like a huge beeswax candle. It is really exceptional. Perhaps it is because the air is so clean.

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These photographs were taken on the last trip we took down to get our second household set up.  It is still a work in progress as we don’t have time to be there together for long stretches. This month, Geoff is holding down the fort in LA, while I get two weeks change of pace that will I am sure include lots of photography, shopping, eating, and basically relaxing — at least that’s the plan.

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There isn’t much news in our neck of the woods. At the end of October we will make our annual rounds up here taking pictures of the beautiful Halloween ornamentation that people do who have the time, creativity and money to celebrate autumn, the real Oktoberfest.

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After that, I have in mind to show you all another lovely Northern LA community and then, our neighborhood at the winter holidays, as I do every year.

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Thank you all for stopping and reading. Bear with me as my next post may be late, since my schedule is now in the hands of mother nature. 😀

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Images: ChezBeBe assets/La Jolla, California

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In my mind

29048014664_3215c79c29_oAs I promised, I am adding a new Autumn sticky post this year that will enable me to alternate between my NYC fall post, up right now for the season, and the new one.

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Not being one to shrink from taking on too much and this being an incredibly busy time for me, I chose a place that I think may be the other perfect state to visit when you just want to see the leaves turn but you don’t want to shiver doing it. That state is North Carolina.

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I can speak about it in an intimate way because I have been to North Carolina more a dozen times in the past decade or so.  My mother’s extended family is populated with physicians, so I have aunts, uncles and cousins who are doctors practicing up and down the East Coast.  There is a cluster in the Research Triangle, comprised of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

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So, whenever Geoff and I want a change of scenery, going from parched to quenched, we head to visit my family in the Tar Heel State.  Most of them moved there from England or the Northeast, but now consider themselves local natives and that has made it possible for us to travel all over the south, from their jumping off point and appreciate the beauty of that little region that encompasses Virginia, Georgia, South and North Carolina.

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Growing up I had only passed through or flown over them on our way to my parents’ condo in Boca Raton.  I really missed a lot, but I suspect that the North Carolina of today, bears less resemblance to that state of a few decades ago. I am glad I waited. It really is up and coming in an exciting and unique, yet familiar way.

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My cousin Hallie and her husband Mike are pathologists and chose North Carolina for its famous scientific community of young, progressive, professionals. They also loved its reasonable costs of living. A house in North Carolina, even in the metropolitan areas costs about 20 percent of its equivalent in the North East or California.  They have a beautiful sprawling house on 20 wooded acres of paradise, three seasons of the year.

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The winters are mild, even when it snows, in North Carolina. Spring sees a burst of life, due to rich fertile established loamy soil, regular rainfall and warm temperatures. If you want a temperate four-season climate, this is the closest I have seen to perfection. There is only one brutal month: August.  Literally, stepping outside on a sunny August day you had better just wear a towel, it is a veritable Turkish bath. The first time I spent August in North Carolina, the humidity hit me like a wall, it was shocking.

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And, along with that comes mosquitoes, a particular concern right about now, until the state perfects a program to eradicate them.  To make matters worse, gullies or culverts run in front of almost every residential street, presumably to direct overflow during tropical rainstorms. They present all kinds of hazards, including for drivers who often drive right into them inadvertently when the roads are slick with snow or flooded.

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There is something else to mention, lest you consider living in North Carolina. If you are a fierce progressive, you might have to adopt some mental and political flexibility, as the state is undergoing rebirthing pains. For those of you who know the American South, you will understand the tug of war going on right now for the hearts and minds of millennials seeking the 21st century even in rural southern states. I don’t want to delve into it too much, but the struggle is ongoing as the state emerges from a chrysalis of tradition that has a three hundred year history.

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Never mind that. North Carolina is fairly bursting with things to do. The most exciting gourmet and ethnic eateries, bakeries, cafes, coffee houses are on almost every block in Downtown Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill. I hope to mention a few of them as I work on this seasonal sticky-post this fall. It may take me awhile to list all my favorites, but I will consider this particular post to be ongoing and a real-time travelogue. Bear with me on this.

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Meanwhile, I am putting these pictures here so you get an idea of why this is a place you should consider for a vacation, three seasons of the year (unless you need an all over body-sweat, LOL) and perhaps a place in which to buy vacation property or your retirement home. You had better hurry though, it can’t stay this affordable forever.

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While I am thinking about it, I will probably not list any hotels or B&Bs as I usually do.  These days, more and more, the way to do this is by snagging an Air B&B and using Uber to get around, if you don’t want to drive or rent a car. There is no better way to “live” your vacation than through a home for lease, including a Vacation Rental By Owner, aka VRBO.

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So, this is my test case for an evolving seasonal travel post — stop back periodically. More is coming.

Welcome Autumn 2016!!

Images: Chez BeBe assets /North Carolina in three seasons

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