Fidget Spinner

A broken skateboard on the ground
was days-old trash until I found
some greased ball bearings deep within.
Thought I’d take ‘em for a spin.

I grabbed a vice grip and a pliers
and pulled apart the useless tires.
When I got the needed part
was when my project I could start.

My sister drinks a lot of juice-
her bottle caps I put to use.
In three red caps I placed a dime
and filled with clay to save some time.

The fourth red cap- I had to cut
away the top and leave a rut
around the middle without tearing
the place I’d put the greased ball bearing.

But still my project wasn’t done
I went to get my grandma’s gun
(a gun for glue, so don’t you worry).
I pegged the pieces without hurry.

So now the part I really hate
the glue sets slow so I must wait.
My patience pays off in the end.
Participating in the trend

I rush to show it to a friend.
He laughs and asks what did I spend?
“Designed and built with nothing new!”
He pauses, asks, “Can I …
… build one too?”

Is it Getting Warmer?

Did you ever notice that houses and factories have chimneys that carry the smoke, the exhaust, the fumes up and away from people?  I noticed the same thing about cars- no company makes a car with an exhaust system that brings exhaust into the car.  We do these things because no one wants to breathe in the toxins that are created by combustion and burning.  We know that toxins are poisonous, well, by definition. Can we agree to this?

If that is the case, that the toxins that are created by combustion and burning are poisonous, then what if there were a way to avoid the toxins?  Wouldn’t it be better for everyone to not create the toxins?  There is!  There are ways to create energy that do not pollute and those ways are becoming cheaper and cheaper through economies of scale.  There are now more people employed in solar energy than in oil, coal and gas.

We also know that not all resources are renewable; someday oil, coal and gas will run out.  If we are smart enough to prepare for a winter storm or a hurricane, we are also smart enough to prepare for a world without fossil fuels.

Maybe you do not believe that the earth is warming or maybe you believe that the earth is warming but that it isn’t caused by human activity.  (My reading and my personal experience tells me that the earth is warming and it makes sense to me that 7 billion people could be contributing to it.)   Either way, if we don’t want poison in our houses or our cars let’s not put it into the air.  If we know that fossil fuels will run out, then let’s get ready for what is next.  There is no reason not to.

Resurrection

A few days ago I received a phone call from a friend of mine.  He had recently learned that he and his mother will receive their social security cards and residency papers.  They will be able to stay in the United States.  Wonderful!  We are lucky to have them- good, caring people; hard working people.  Gentle.

This family was forced from their home country by negative situations beyond their control.  They moved to the US only to live in the shadows, experiencing violence both personal and systemic.  When you live in the shadows you cannot fully participate and share your gifts.  You live in fear – fear that you will be sent back, you might lose your job and a thousand other fears.  Those fears, though, are nothing when compared to the lived experience that sent you away from home.

Now there is hope.  There is hope of permanence and pertenencia, belonging.  Having grown up in the only city he has ever known, he will now be able to participate fully in all of the rights and responsibilities of belonging.  Moving out of the shadows.  May we hear the same positive news for many other immigrants so that they, too, may move out of the shadows.

This blog was started about 5 years ago as an Advent gift for a 12 year old.  The waiting of Advent has come full circle to an emerging from the shadows:  Resurrection.

You always belonged.  Now it’s official.

Pizza Dough

Here is the mix I use…

  ½ Recipe Full Recipe Double
Warm Water ¾ cup 1½ cups 2¼ cups
Yeast 1 package 2 packages 3 packages
Sugar 1t 2t 3t
Salt ¾t 1½t 2¼t
Olive Oil 3T 6 T ½ cup + 1T
Flour 2 cups 4 cups 6 cups

Mix everything except the flour and let the yeast mixture become foamy for about 5 or 10 minutes.  Then, add the flour until it is no longer sticky; knead for 5- 10 minutes; you may need a bit more or a bit less flour.  Let it rise until doubled (about an hour, depending on how warm your kitchen is), punch it down and it is ready to use.  I won’t explain how to use it.  If you would like more information please let me know.

By the way, 1 package of yeast = 2 rounded teaspoons (a bit fuller than full).

Let me know how it works.

Social Currency

She listened carefully, watching his face, watching his lips. When he finished speaking, her eyes looked up and to the left, thinking. Remembering. Nodding.

Her eyes, then, returned to her 61 year old son. “So your patient wants you to travel with him to Houston,” she paraphrased. “That’s wonderful! He must respect you and trust you… and have a lot of money!”

“Mamá, he wants someone to accompany him and yes, he trusts me. I worked with him and his wife when she was sick. But we can’t do the type of surgery that he needs.”

“I see.” She paused again.

“Impressive.” She nodded again.

“How much will you charge?” she asked, looking him right in the eyes.

“Oh mother!   I don’t know. I have never been asked to do something like this before.” He took a sip of coffee.

The answer didn’t matter and she knew he wouldn’t say… but maybe he would. No harm in asking.

The conversation went silent for a bit. Then she turned to me and said, “And you just returned from that overseas training your company sent you to. How did that go? They must think the world of you, sending you off to a training in another country! They wouldn’t send just anyone, now then, would they?” She looked up again, not waiting for an answer.

Then I understood. I could see it in her eyes. This conversation was not about accomplishment or money, per se; this was about social currency. Later in the evening she would go on her evening constitutional to the casino. Some people find community at church or with their neighbors. Some go to a bar where everybody knows your name. She goes to the casino, every night if someone will take her; she can no longer go out alone with that bum leg of hers

Yes, I understood: When she gets to the casino she will slowly find her favorite machine, talking to friends and relatives amid the rings, dings and bings of the one-armed bandits (that mostly worked with the press of a finger). With her cane and her attendant she will stop and talk to everyone she knows, perhaps someone new. What will she say? Not much has happened since yesterday evening. She spent the day with meals, the newspaper and Netflix so what will she add to the conversation?

“How are you tonight?” Someone will ask as she walks the aisles looking for her machine.

Putting her hand on the other’s arm she will take out some of that social currency and say, “I am good. You’ll never guess where my son is going to go…”

By the end of the evening she will have talked to many who passed by to share their stories. She will listen carefully while watching their faces and lips. She will ask questions, thinking, remembering and nodding as they speak. Tomorrow, we will be brought up to date on the members of that community. We will ask questions that she will be sure to get the answers to as the carousel takes another spin.

Happening in Peru: Flooding

Off the coast of Peru and Ecuador the ocean has warmed 5º C or more.  This warming is known as the Costal El Niño and it is wreaking havoc on the land and people of those countries.

This article from Reuters explains and shows what is happening.  Be sure to scroll down.  Here are some more images of the flooding.

Today is the 4th day of no classes for students in Lima, as directed by the Ministry of Education.  Because of the flooding, travel has been difficult if not impossible in some areas and most everyone has been affected by water shortages. The excess water, filled with dirt and debris, has overwhelmed the water treatment plants, shutting them down and cutting the water supply.  Schools cannot operate if there is not a steady supply of water.

At home our basement cistern ran dry but the water tanks on the roof still held water; we did not run out completely.  Three buildings down, where my mother-in-law lives, they were without water for about 12 hours.  This is to say that we have been extremely lucky!  A few hours with no water is nothing when compared to the destruction in other areas.

There are many organizations that are gathering items and money, the Red Cross being one of them.  Please help the international effort if you can.

Which Side?

Beside the freeway bus stop
the boys play soccer
with a piece of trash
(today it’s a tossed-aside
one liter water bottle).

The bigger one kicks off his
shoes, towards his mother
who is selling fruit to the commuters,
because the sneakers’ sole
became unattached
to the hole-y canvas upper
making it hard to beat his brother
at trash soccer.

“Put on your shoes,” sighs mom
as she takes a few cents for a
watermelon slice, all the time knowing
he won’t.

The commuters,
with purses, backpacks and briefcases
(and slices of fruit),
climb the stairs of the pedestrian bridge
that spans the freeway.

Which side will they come down on?