text Letter from Editor

April 2019
I was driving towards home from the USC campus one night after a class (or event). I remember that it was cold out and the 5 freeway was very busy with many of us moving along. There was a sudden slow-down. I could see a very large fire up ahead. It was startling and the drivers were coming to an slowdown. I could make see a glimpse of a tanker truck on its side, fully emblazed. My first thought was that I was going to be extra late getting home to my kids and then I hoped that the driver of the tanker had escaped. It was a very chaotic scene.
When there’s nothing that you can do, that’s it. You have to wait and see what comes next. Fire trucks, Highway Patrol and L.A. police cars were arriving as officers checked the area and began setting out flares on the freeway, I was waiting in an outer lane and after about a half hour police were attempting to get some cars off the freeway by directing them to go down the next ON ramp. This started a slow caravan of autos driving down, towards Riverside Drive and maybe getting back on the 5 freeway down the road. My uncle Joe told me, when I was just beginning to drive on my own, not to be afraid of the big trucks, or “big rigs” as he called them, because they were better drivers than anyone else. I still believe Uncle Joe was right, but things happen that we can’t control. By the time I got home the furious blaze was seen on the TV news.
I had taken a year off from my full time job, so I could concentrate on my education, gather the units I needed and finally just be a working mom. I truly enjoyed my time at USC. It was a lively campus with students coming from all around the world. Speakers would set up in front of the Tommy Trojan statue to speak the latest outrage, which at that time was the war going on in Vietnam and beyond. The speakers were fierce and loud. The teachers I encountered were very good, engaging and interested in making their students think, really think about the topics at hand. I was often the oldest student in the classroom. My experiences as a married, then divorced mother of four children, who was still attending classes to learn more gave me a boost in the sociology classes I majored in. For example, my Marriage & Family Life instructor was terrific with a great sense of humor as a Dad with six kids at home, if I remember correctly. We had a lot in common.
It pains me to read the LA Times and find that USC is in so much trouble for such things as admitting children of wealthy parents who lie and cheat about their kid’s actual grades and abilities. They even paid “phony students” to take admittance tests, phony photos of their children as athletes. Tons of money went to the college on behalf of false documents. It has created a crisis for USC, something that will hang over it for a long time.
It’s all for nothing, really, because the institution already has excellent instructors, mentors, athletes and resources to help all students. Graduates from the past have been very generous with their donations of money and time to devote to the University. There will always be parents and kids who are willing to lie and cheat to get their own way. Sooner or later the truth comes out and they are caught and punished. Their selfish acts don’t count for much in the bigger picture. Losers will always be losers. If you can’t be your authentic self, what’s the point?
To this day I remember distinctly the first football game I attended with USC and UCLA battling together at the nearby Coliseum. The beautiful white horse with an elaborately dressed Trojan rider made its way around the entire stadium to huge applause, as the USC Marching Band added more excitement. The horse reared on its hind legs as the crowd roared. It was a magical afternoon, I’ll never forget.
Every so often life gives us a big dose of bad luck, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, too many bills, not enough money to pay them and so on. The ebb and flow of life is always there. There are very few “perfect pictures” available. Defeat comes with a big bang with no sense of when the bad times will be gone. Being resilient is very important. A lifetime of success after failure will stay. The core strength we all have has to come into play so we can move along and not fall into depression, bad choices, then more depression. I think we all know people, family members who keep falling down because they make bad choices over and over. Professional help is very helpful if it can be found. There is no shame in admitting that a professional “listener and advisor” can provide insight and techniques that will help. Saying “it won’t help” is to accept defeat immediately.

There is a very large flock of green parrots that can be seen in my n4eighborhood. They go from tree to tree squawking loudly, making themselves known. I went outside immediately to see them in a tall tree, in my backyard. It fills with the noise of them communicating with each other. They don’t stay long. Their purpose seems to be to find a tree, rest a moment, communicate with each other then they take to the sky again, en masse, to the next tree, making a noisy ruckus. Why and when they make their appearance doesn’t matter to me. I’m always happy that they’re still around.

Hang in there.



March 2019
As children some of us may remember singing, “rain, rain, go away and come back another day.” I’ve certainly had enough of this rainy season that won’t quit. The ground is saturated all around my house, which makes it extra chilly inside. I have had to use the heater inside a lot!
We need rain, but this much? After days of soggy rain, the skies were clear, the bright sunshine was a relief. The hillsides in my neighborhood were covered with lime green blankets of grass. It was so nice to see as I drove around the Hansen Dam area. I passed a grove of dried-out burned trees from the serious fire we had earlier in the year, last year. I hope the excessive rain water in the ground will give them a boost. Maybe, with time, they will revive. I thought maybe our rain storms would be over, but no, the next day it again was raining torrents again. Have we become Seattle? .
I am a retired person now. I think I work just as hard as I did when employed. I do the things that women do: house cleaning, yard work, cooking, shopping, laundry, bill paying, pet care, etc. I am home most of the time. In this very chilly weather I do use the whole-house heating system.
That means that the Gas Company sends me a higher bill along with a chart that states that I am using more gas than my neighbors. That is supposed to make me use less gas. Really? It’s been extra cold inside and outside. What the Gas Company doesn’t take into account is that many of my neighbors go to work at least five days a week, every week. They’re not home using the precious warmth of their heaters!
I used to leave every weekday to attend to a job. I don’t do that anymore and I don’t drive around in the rain, if I don’t have to. This year has been unusually cold in the Southland and throughout the country. The climate is changing more rapidly than we expected or planned for. That means all government entities should be focused on that issue now.
The growing population of homeless people do need help now but our elected officials spend a lot of time talking about what they want to do, or are willing to do right now. Our own mayor of Los Angeles was thinking about running for President of the U.S. Come on, that’s not reasonable. There are so many issues that he needs to be working on right now. How he even thought of the great leap to the White House is wishful thinking, bizarre thinking. He needs to do something about the huge homeless population just a few blocks from his office at City Hall.
Our new Governor Gavin Newsom has lots of things he wants to change or “fix.” so I give him credit for thinking ahead. He’s already experienced the huge fires, followed by flooding that has taken place in various parts of the state. He seems to be ready for the hard work and as long as finds the money to fix things he will do well. When a new person enters an important office they are given some leeway to get settled but I think that the stakes are going to be higher for anyone entering government jobs. We, the citizens, the voters have overlooked too much so far. We have repeatedly settled for poor performance from many of our municipal workers, the people
we voted for, trusted to do a better job than the last person who held the office.
One very important task for Governor Newsom is to figure out what becomes of the so called Bullet Train system that is currently being worked on in Northern California. Protests from many people and some local leaders blocked it from coming into certain areas. It was supposed to come through my neighborhood, through equestrian areas, through ranches, stables and such. Then the bullet train was to go through mountains to get to flat land again. Yes, the people who wanted that train built picked out a really hard route to conquer! The building, digging, laying of tracks would have taken decades! The citizens came out in force and said NO WAY!
So, anyway, it now becomes a new project for a new governor.. Some even question whether this billion dollar boondoggle will ever actually get built. If the route chosen would have been southern California to Las Vegas something better might have happened. The project from southern California to northern California was just too ambitious, too costly, too time consuming. Too unpopular. Governor Newsom will have to figure out a good way to end the deal, despite all the money that had=s already been spent on it.
In the national news President Trump went to Vietnam to meet for the second time with the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un .Nothing happened and President Trump returned to Washington right away. More details will most likely come out but Trump went to a big rally of his fans and supporters and I think that made up for his lack of progress in his talk with the North Korean dictator. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. That happens all the time, no matter who you are, where you are.
One last thing: our president uses the word ”collusion” frequently. I looked it up in a dictionary, just to be sure: collusion” means “dishonest, secret agreement, a fraudulent secret agreement.”

In the meantime, hang in there.

February 2019

This has certainly become the winter of my discontent. California has taken a beating from the extreme weather we’ve been having. First the fires that burned so much,: mountainsides, houses, buildings, businesses, When the rains come it just makes everything worse; dirt, debris, boulders start rolling down hillside and housing tracts. It takes a massive amount of help to save homes. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a home like that. When you are wiped out like that how do you begin again?
Once these “once in a lifetime “ events take place there is some help, from all of our government agencies and insurance companies, plus family, friends and neighbors. It’s quite a lot of juggling for everyone. What can never be replaced are the “precious “ things that are lost: photo albums, collections of art, musical instruments, even favored toys. Even memories will one day be lost.
Like it or not, we’re all bound by the government, all of the entities that surround us on a daily basis. Our government sets the parameters of our lives everyday. We have rules and boundaries for our behavior every day, in many situations. It has to be a cooperative effort by everyone. We also have the opportunity of voting for some of those leaders. If you don’t vote you lose the right to change things you don’t like. People can make a difference in how their communities are run, what policies can take effect for a long time.
President Trump shut down the government, sending thousands of workers home to wait till they were allowed to come back to their jobs. The figure was 800,000 federal employees were sent home to wait. Federal offices were closed, national monuments, museums and others. More worrisome; air traffic control workers were included in the layoffs. I don’t know how they worked that out to keep the planes landing and taking off without a hitch, but they managed. Some slept in their cars to avoid drives home or because of just plain “exhaustion.” This is all wrong, no matter how it’s explained. It never should have happened. It doesn’t make the president stronger, it makes him look small and petty, like a tyrant.
Our current president has made things harder for those who work to provide services and expertise . How can the Coast Guard do their important job day after day without a paycheck? They continued to work, on our California coast, looking for boats smuggling in people and/or illicit deadly drugs, This standoff lasted 35 days. and caused enough people a lot of grief. Here in L.A. County vandals entered areas of the Death Valley and Joshua Tree vandals entered the parks, making new trails with their off-road vehicles, cut down trees for firewood, defecated all over the place, making outdoor toilets. There was also a loss of the cash paying public who pay admissions and mind their manners while there. This was all unnecessary, a reminder of our president’s impulsive decisions.
Do I sound like, appear to be a total pessimist about the governance of our country.? Yes, I probably do, right now. I look around my own community and I see people working every day to make it better. The trash gets picked up early on Monday mornings, rain or shine. The trees on the boulevard do finally get trimmed. The police are moving about the streets, the fire station is close by, ready to help when needed. The mail gets to my house six days a week. People are busy getting their work done, whether they’re business owners, teachers, bus drivers, doctors, dentists. Everyone is doing their jobs, so the rest of us can live in a peaceful, productive town. That’s what everyone wants. Life is not so complicated, most of the time.
I think that I am so disturbed by the behavior of our president because he seems to flout all rules, as he
states his own thoughts, his own decisions. He lives with chaos, divisions, nasty comments about anyone he wants to humiliate. He doesn’t seem to have a “nice” bone in his ample body. It seems that he cannot be persuaded to listen to other opinions or advice. He fires people easily, quickly that he dislikes. He calls others with nasty nicknames. It’s very troubling that he seems, right now, to favor the leader of Russia and the leader of North Korea. His meetings with Putin are especially vexing because he’s had private meetings with him, with interpreters present, yet he says nothing about the content of the meetings. It’s all very secretive, which is disturbing.
One last Trumpism: asked if he was worried about impeachment: “You can’t impeach a president who has done the greatest job in the history of this country.”

I will end on a high note. California has added 24,5000 jobs in the travel/leisure category. Unemployment has ticked up to 4.2% as more people are looking for work. (source:LATimes by Margot Roosevelt) That‘s about all we can do as individuals, keep going forward, don‘t give up.
Hang in there.






So what’s new for a new year? Not much, it looks like. It seems that we’re going to get more of the same: chaos in the White House. The White House boils over like a pot of soup on the stove.! It leaves a big mess to clean up so maybe it’s just better to throw it all out!

We have a new year ahead and that feels good for a lot of people. A brand new opportunity to start again; to work on personal goals, to clean out the garage or closets and all the other things that didn’t get done in a long time. I recently visited a dear friend I haven’t seen in a long time. She had a medical problem that had to be taken care of and then she decided to leave to an assisted living arrangement. Months went by and we only spoke on the phone. When I finally arrived at her new permanent home I was so happy to see her. She showed me around her new home and it was very impressive. She would have all her needs taken care of in a warm, friendly environment. We had a nice lunch in the dining room, followed by a holiday sing-along gathering for the whole residence. By the time I left I was so happy for my friend. She found a wonderful new home.

All of us have “must do” items on our lists. If we’re diligent and lucky we get a lot done. We think, “I’ll get the rest done later.” The “later” gets later and later. Some chores get started but never completely accomplished. Some get dismissed as not “important right now.” My excuse is “I aim for perfection, but I’ll settle for less.”

We have installed a new governor in California, Gavin Newsome. He faces a lot of problems immediately. The devastating fires we experienced recently is simply astounding. The cleanup needed is enormous. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed, besides thousands of acres of trees. All of this “garbage” has to be cleaned up and put somewhere. Power lines have to be replaced, perhaps underground? Every single public building has to be rebuilt for future safety. New and different materials will have to be used for just about everything. Better emergency alerts will need to added to new routines. Evacuations will have to be better organized and planned for. It’s a lot to think about but strong leadership, better planning will educate all of us who live in the mountains and hillside areas.

I also read in the newspaper that Governor Newsome has named preschool education as one of his priorities. I’m a former preschool teacher so I agree that it’s important to get children into that setting so they can learn new skills before they move into kindergarten. Preschools s aren’t “babysitting.” Children learn to listen, follow directions, get along with others, sharing, solving problems, making friends, discovering books, art, music, dancing, trying new foods, science and much more. Preschools open up new worlds for children and makes their entry into kindergartens much easier.

I am more concerned with so many kids not graduating from high school. That’s a bigger problem for all of us who pay lots of taxes to educate everyone from preschoolers to college graduates. Some parents don’t know how many days of school their kids have missed. Kids who are missing from schools are more likely to fail their classes. Some parents are not keeping up with their kids. Parents may be working or taking care of younger children. A new system will be used so that parents are notified how many days their child has been absent from school. They will be notified five times per semester. Well, it’s a start. Busy parents have to take the lead to make sure that their student gets to school and stays there for the entire day. There are lots of good paying jobs for all kinds of work, but skills have to be learned for the long term. Good luck parents!

I’ve accepted that our president will continue to think he is the master of everything for as long as he’s in the White House. We’ll just get more lying, more outrageous statements, rotten behavior to anyone who tries to do their job to rein him in, so it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Our president Trump is already pretty predictable in his behavior. I don’t think I would be surprised by anything he says or does. It’s all sounding too familiar after two, slogging years. I’m waiting for something better.

Hang in there.