Friday, August 31, 2012

Poem for Labor Day

The Poetry Foundation website (  has a lovely list of poems that honor working and workers.  Here is one I liked very much:

“Find Work”

By Rhina P. Espaillat b. 1932
I tie my Hat—I crease my Shawl—
Life's little duties do—precisely
As the very least
Were infinite—to me—
—Emily Dickinson, #443
My mother’s mother, widowed very young
of her first love, and of that love’s first fruit,
moved through her father’s farm, her country tongue
and country heart anaesthetized and mute
with labor. So her kind was taught to do—
“Find work,” she would reply to every grief—
and her one dictum, whether false or true,
tolled heavy with her passionate belief.
Widowed again, with children, in her prime,
she spoke so little it was hard to bear
so much composure, such a truce with time
spent in the lifelong practice of despair.
But I recall her floors, scrubbed white as bone,
her dishes, and how painfully they shone.
Source: Poetry (February 1999).

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I am not really in a "jubilation" mood--lots of background noise with a potential hurricane hitting The Big Easy and other political storms in that part of the country.  However, I am doing my "happiness" inventory and I have much to be grateful for so I am turning my attitude toward the mountain tops and lifting up my spirit to the skies.  From that perspective, I share this word with you for today and ask:  what are you willing to "shout out about?"  I will jubilate about our recent visit to Mt. Lemmon, during summer rains, captured in the picture by my husband/photographer.

jubilate \JOO-buh-leyt\, verb:

1. To show or feel great joy; rejoice; exult.
2. To celebrate a jubilee or joyful occasion.

Though this sudden setback of the plague was as welcome as it was unlooked-for, our townsfolk were in no hurry to jubilate.
-- Albert Camus, The Plague

This would enable me to jubilate like a normal person, knowing why.
-- Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable

Jubilate derives from the Latin word jūbil- meaning "to shout."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Recent Bright Spot: Az. Town Hall Tucson Community Outreach Meeting

This week, I attended this week's Outeach meeting on Civic Participation, convened at Pima Community College's Community Campus.  In the past, I have had my concerns about the Arizona Town Hall process because, since I first encountered them in the 1980s, they were marketed not to the general public but to the elected and appointed officials and required hefty membership fees to participate.  They are now open to everyone, but the hefty participation fee to the actual 3 1/2 dayTown Halls still applies.  However, there is growing institutional support, through donors such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, to proved scholarships for participation and, in the past years, separate one day youth town halls have been convened.  Thus, I can report the opportunities to participate in the Arizona Town Hall are expanding. 

The event this week had no fee but the participation was still (by my eyes' observation) mostly attended by people (like me), over the age of 50 and Caucasian.  I could count the number of 20-40 something participants on one hand and the number of non-Caucasian on the other.  But, progress in participation comes slowly, and I am hopeful the new directions for more open and diverse public participation at the Arizona Town Halls will continue.  The fall Town Hall will be on Civic Leadership and so the link I am sharing to the summary of three Southern Arizona communities on the Spring 2012 topic of Civic Participation serves as an important foundation for the Fall event.  While my business and personal budget will prohibit my participation in the Fall, I hope to attend the open-to-all luncheon (with a Talking Stick Resort lunch fee).  This luncheon will be honoring former Rep. Gabby Giffords and will be a "BrightSpot" in the dubious Fall election season.  I encourage others to follow the outcomes of these important community forums, convened by the Arizona Town Hall.

Friday, August 17, 2012

August Food Truck Round Up

On a relatively cool August evening, parked in front of The Shelter, a bar on Grant Road, my hubby (photographer for AnitaWrites) and I enjoyed a tasty fare.  For the two of us, the combined meal was around $17.00, including nicely chilled bottled waters from Baja Taco.  So enjoy the pics and comments and check out the Round Up when it comes to your part of town in the Tucson region.

A new touch to the event is a "say something nice" megaphone where folks can call out neighborly remarks to the patrons.  One clever dad took his crying toddler to the microphone and the experience actually settled the tyke to a small whimper--so I guess the kind karma works in reverse, too.

This was our first tasting from the Baja Taco Truck and we went back for seconds.  That's saying a lot for me, because fish tacos are still an exotic food choice for my palate.  I liked the combo of flavors and crunchiness of the fish and pico de gallo.  The fish was fried in beer batter and Mark, who is an afficiando of fish tacos said that, compared with local (La Salsa) and chain varieties, this was fresh-tasting and "a nice balance between the green sauce and the generous portions of talapia and salsa fresca."  And, also--the service is friendly!

Okay, after two tacos, we went on to three BBQ pulled pork sliders--another new addition for our experience.  I am a midwesterner and a niece of a hog farmer and I can tell you the pork was succulent and sauce was both salty and sweet.  What I also loved was the toasted, crunchy slider buns that held the meat so that there was very little messiness to the meal.

And, of course, a trip to the Food Truck Round-Up wouldn't be complete (at least for me), without a salted caramel moon-pie from Pin-Up Pastries.  I reviewed them in more detail in a previous post, but nothing has changed in the yumminess (except the price: one is now $3.00 instead of two for $5.00, but it's still a deal).

Now, if all these photos haven't tickled your taste buds (and encouraged your pocketbook), think about this:  buying from local vendors keeps the local dollars flowing through Tucson.  That's how our community prospers---.  More will be posted soon on that topic: community prosperity.  For now, just enjoy the food show which has 0 calories but can bring pounds of pleasure.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dick and Jane book's author

This is just to wonderful not to post and share for today (from 8/12/12 The Writer's Almanac)--

Today is the birthday of Zerna Sharp (books by this author), born in Hillsburg, Indiana (1889). She was a writer and elementary school teacher who created the "Dick and Jane" series of books for beginning readers. She was concerned about the low literacy rates she encountered as she traveled, and felt that children would be more receptive to reading if the stories featured kids they could relate to, and had colorful illustrations. In 1927, Sharp approached reading expert William Gray, and he agreed it would be a good way to get his reading method into the classroom. So she came up with a young brother and sister named Dick and Jane, and gradually added in more family members: Mother, Father, little sister Sally, Spot the dog, Puff the cat, and even Tim the teddy bear. She kept the storylines simple, and the sentences short and repetitive: "Run, Spot, run. Oh, oh, oh. Funny, funny Spot." The Dick and Jane books first entered classrooms in 1930 and were routinely used until the late 1960s, when educators began calling for materials to reflect the diversity in their classrooms. They went out of print during the 1970s, but were reissued in 2003, much to the delight of nostalgic baby boomers, who bought 2.5 million books in the first year and a half.

Friday, August 10, 2012

One Can A Week: Another BrightSpot

Here's a link to a really BRIGHT BrightSpot, that has been doing its good work for several years.  If you live in Tucson, you can easily contribute to Peter's effort by donating a can at RinCon Market which is a collection site for One Can A Week.  I like the double-meaning of the name of this project:  not only can you donate one can a week but if you change the "one" from an adjective to a pronoun and the "can" from a noun to a verb, One can do it every week!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Writer's Digest prompt for short short story

From Writer’, July-August, 2012, p. 49 "First Things First" writing prompt:
Hector at the Beach

Hector was exhausted.  He had been herding water-thirsty cattle all week on the ranch.  All week he had been looking forward to some quiet days with his wife, Rosa, on the beach.  But now, Galveston was hunkering down for a big storm, maybe a hurricane building in the Gulf.  So, instead of relaxing with a cigar on the beach house front porch, he was hauling plywood from the garage to nail down the shutters.  Finishing up that job, pausing for moment on the steps, he watched the sunset, purple and red, full of dark colors, he noticed, against the black water.  All he could see was gloom.

“Hector, don’t just stand there.  Take the lamp down to the shore,” Rosa encouraged from the still open kitchen door.  “It’ll be awhile before the minudo is ready and you might as well enjoy the quiet before the storm.”

Of course, Rosa was right, as she usually was.  After thirty-eight years of marriage, three kids—one recently buried in Arlington’s military cemetery and two kids still working on the ranch with kids of their own—Hector knew better than to argue with her.  So, he moved down the steps, though he was so tired he’d rather just sag his seat down on the yellow porch chair, cigar or no cigar, and watch the sky turn black, watch the stars try to shine behind the thickening clouds.  But, Hector wasn’t going to create an argument with Rosa, not when it wasn’t worth fighting about like earlier in the month.  That’s when he reluctantly agreed to limit his cigar habit to just one a day, after Rosa and Dr. Samuels had told him, without a doubt, “the cigars would have to go.”  Hector had dug his boots in on what the doctor wanted.  He’d smoked his daily cigar earlier that day to celebrate getting the last steer into the pen. And he was digging his heels in now, walking down the steps, out onto the sand, lamp in hand.  Walking further toward the water’s edge, Hector heard the silence, and the occasional crunch of his boots’ heels against the bits of seashells tucked into the sand.

Tonight’s moon, blanketed mostly by clouds, was waning.  Three nights ago it had been full and silver as he sat with his seven year old grandson, Tobey, on the hood of the Chevy truck.  Tobey was at that age when his “Poppi” was as close to a god with skin as a man could be.  Hector knew from experience that those days of god-status were numbered.  So when Tobey had pestered him to have just one puff of Poppi’s cigar, Hector had obliged.  But, damn, if, just as Tobey put the cigar to his puckered mouth, modeling his small, agile fingers exactly as Poppi held his cigar, damn but just then, Rosa hadn’t come out of the garden and let out a scream that sent Roscoe, their dog, scurrying into the knobby hills.  She lectured him good and hard and swatted the Levi-protected backside of Tobey as he fled to join Roscoe in the hills.  That moment, Hector recalled, that moment when the moonlight made a soft halo around Tobey’s cow-licked crewcut, his tooth-gaped mouth in a small bow of a smile, anticipating that first puff of Poppi’s cigar—that moment had been perfect.  But tonight, the moon was waning.  The sky was getting ebony black and even the glow of the lamp couldn’t lighten Hector’s mood. 

He was a dying man.  This storm, building in the horizon beyond the water’s edge, might be the last of the season and of his life.  He knew the truth behind Rosa’s fear and his doctor’s warning and that truth hung like a five pound rock around his neck.  If he had a bigger rock to hang, he just might see if he could drop his tired body into the water and feel it sink.  But, back at the beach house, there was Rosa, probably just now adding some cilantro and green onions to the menudo.  The prospect of a bone-soothing meal and the promise of another night with Rosa under the bedsheets, waiting for the winds to rock them both to sleep, pulled his vision away from the dark sky and waters.  Instead, he gathered up a softer rhythm to his walk back towards the open door.

a.fonte, 8/5.12

Shared link to Wendell Berry's wisdom

I am part of a summer writer's group and posted this which you might enjoy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Another "BrightSpot": Western Institute for Leadership Development

Yesterday evening, my husband and I attended the opening of a new public, charter high school, the Western Institute for Leadership Development.

Founded and funded by EveryVoiceinAction Foundation, the school offers project-based curriculum to its new class of freshman and sophomores.  We toured the facility and met two of the teachers who were full of enthusiasm and hope for the school.  At the dinner buffet, we met one of the incoming freshman, a shy, sweet girl who recently graduated from Booth Fickett Middle School.  She chose the school because of its small class size (no more than 25) and accessibility to her neighborhood.  I asked her if the fact that each student will receive an IPad also factored into her decision, and she said, "no, but I will like that very much."

Hubby-photoguy took this photo of the community gathered together to hear welcoming remarks from Pima County Supervisor, Richard Elias, among others.  Both of us left with promises to ourselves to followup with one of the teachers we met to offer our talents as school volunteers.

So here is another Tucson "BrightSpot" to share....