Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If you haven't eaten lunch yet....

You might want to check out the specials at World Cup on F street.

My lips are just....tingling.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Unmarked and Unnamed

At the edge of the Ukiah Valley Cemetery, there is what appears to be a large parking lot. Composed of dirt and gravel, it stretches nearly 100 yards before the ground breaks into well-cared for headstones placed carefully with flowers and memorabilia. Only it isn't a parking lot.

It is a mass grave where 433 people with disabilities have been buried. Buried and forgotten. Unmarked and unnamed.

On Monday, September 21, I was fortunate to be able to attend the seventh annual Day of Remembrance coordinated by the California Memorial Project. A collaboration between several California agencies, the purpose of the project is to remember and honor over 45,000 people who died and were buried in mass and unmarked graves in state hospitals and developmental centers.

Led by people with disabilities, a number of whom have lived in state institutions, the project is an enormous act of advocacy - they are reclaiming and healing their shared history by honoring those before them. They are achieving this by restoring the cemeteries at the state institutions, recording the stories of people who lived in them by decade, and documenting the history of the client/survivor movement in California.

After an opening ceremony at the mass grave site, we were led into the heart of the cemetery to another, much smaller, unmarked grave. People attending were then given the opportunity to share their stories and remembrances.

Some spoke with obvious pain about their own experiences of living in an institution. One woman was committed when she was fifteen because "in those days your parents didn't have to have a reason. They could just put you in there if they were tired of you." She talked about being abused by staff people and witnessing a murder. Others spoke about the horrific experiences of their family members.

Some read poems and others sang songs.

Undeserved confinement,
Someone's Grandpa
Sitting in a chair,
Watching birds sitting in a tree...
Lost lonely souls,
Souls not as lost as presumed,
Touched by the light of the universe.

One man said that he had survived over 140 shock therapy treatments. "One day I saw a little girl get killed right before my eyes. It wasn't right. I tried to talk to someone about it - to tell them it shouldn't have happened. I was mad. That was when they took me for my first shock treatment. After that, every time I spoke out about something - anything - I got another shock treatment. Before I went in the state hospital, I could read and write. I can't read and write anymore. "

"But I'm one of the lucky ones. I got out, and I'm still alive." He swept his arm in the air across the empty plot of land in front of us. A plot where 1660 people with disabilities had been cremated and buried. Buried and forgotten. Unmarked and unnamed.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Addicted to Veggies

My friend Sarahfae is a wonderful person. I'm not one of those bloggers who would enjoy being fired for talking smack about my job, so let's just say that Sarah is a scrumptious little dollop of chocolate cream cheese icing on a large ugly rotten-prune-filled cupcake. She is also a vegan and a raw foods enthusiast. But she's not one of those vegans. You know - the ones who look at you like you've just clubbed a baby seal if you use cow's milk in your latte. No, Sarah is different. She simply believes that eating a lot of fruit and veggies can change your health - and the world. And she's got a new blog to prove it.

From the Addicted to Veggies mission statement:

The real purpose of this blog is to learn through research, and share what we’ve learned with anyone who is interested about living a better life for themselves through eating more fruits and veggies.
In turn we plan to discuss the effects that these simple, healthy and positive choices have --- on our personal lives, the lives of animals, our precious local economy, as well as the big intimidating global picture.

Sarah is a genius at concocting deliciousness. She loves to take vintage cookbook recipes and turn them into whole new creations. Just look at this raw version of fried green tomatoes:

And this mango/orange/peach cobbler:

I am amazed at the things she makes without any cooking or baking whatsoever. Even this cake!

Her blog is full of wonderful recipes, tips, tricks and vivaciousness. And check out her banner photo. Totally snort-worthy. In more ways than one.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Sarah!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday ponderings

So here I sit, wallowing in self-imposed blogging anxiety because I am supposed to be writing based on B. There are just too many possibilities....blood, breakfast, brains, bondage, bad choices, boots, breasts, bourbon, bitter, bicycle, bald, beg, burrito, bumpy....and the list goes on. So instead, I'm pondering some questions I have about these two photos taken with my terrible cell phone camera. Perhaps you can help.

Antibacterial gel with a convenient plastic hanger. Sign of the times....or sign of obsessive compulsive disorder?

A portrait with a squash for a hat. So bad it's good, or just so, so bad?

I lean toward the latter conclusion in both. You?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Alphabet: A History (A is for Art)

I am joining Charlotte's Web and City Wendy , among others, in Alphabet: A History, a blog effort to write one's way through the alphabet with a series of short memoir pieces, one for each letter.

A is for Art

Last Sunday, my cousin Nathan, Mark and I drove to the hills of Rio Dell to visit my Grandma Edith. Only a few months away from 90, she still lives alone on several acres of land in a house built as a show home by Pacific Lumber Company in 1932 and made entirely of redwood.

In the 1992 earthquake, the house fell off its foundation, and in the renovation, Gram took her one chance to have white walls instead of wood - to her, a sign of gentility that she had long yearned for.

On two of the white walls in the living room, she has displayed some oil and acrylic paintings by Nathan's mother, my aunt Teresa, an accomplished artist. One of the paintings is a detailed landscape. It features a mountain top with a Native American man sitting on a horse looking out over the valley below him. Filled with saturated earth tones, it's a peaceful and beautiful scene.

Grandma Edith gave a piece of the apple fritter we had brought her to the dog, licked her fingers and then spoke to Nathan as she pointed at the painting. "See that picture? Your mom painted it when she was a teenager. Isn't it pretty?"

Nathan nodded in agreement.

"She entered it in the Humboldt County Fair," Grandma continued, "and it won third prize. When I went to see it, I couldn't believe it only won third. 'Take me to the one that won first prize,' I said. So your mom led me over to the picture that had the blue ribbon on it. Do you know what won first prize?"

She scowled at all of us, almost accusingly. We stopped chewing our donuts and shook our heads back and forth in unison. We had no idea.

"A giant tit. That beautiful picture lost to a giant tit."

"Well, Grandma," Nathan reminded her, "it was 1974."

She ignored him.

"I never had a thing to do with the fair after that. They could call me up tomorrow and beg me for money because times are tough and they can't raise enough to have a fair this year, and I'd tell them to go to hell."