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March 2018

Here we are again, mourning the loss of innocent school kids. That they were killed by a young teen, a former classmate, is astounding. It brings a loss of hope for the future. When will it stop? How do we stop the slaughter of innocent people everywhere. Another young man walked into a church in the South and killed members there. Another young man who owned lots of weapons went to a children’s school and killed children and adults there. His mother seemed oblivious to all the powerful weapons he loved and owned. These are just a few of he many atrocious murders in our country. How do we change this madness, this culture of violence in our country?

First of all we are united as a country but we have a varied populations. They’ve come from all over the world because they wanted to be here. To save their own lives, to leave countries that were owned by cruel, despots. They came at the end of vicious wars, seeking relief and an opportunity to start again. They came because they had skills, talent, possibilities and they might be able to create a better life. They came by the thousands, learned English, went to school, started businesses, grew their wealth and powers, their influence. Some began dynasties that flourished, all the way to the White House, the pinnacle of success. What we have always had is opportunities. The path to the future. There was a sense of stability and acceptance. The last few decades have turned those pathways around. Today we have so many citizens who hold fear close. They fear “others” who have different languages, customs and beliefs. They might not fit in with what the majority thinks is “right.”

Our suspicions are keen now, we watch “the others” who are getting a lot of attention, help, rewards while some of us are still struggling to move ahead. We have huge systems of help for everyone. We aim to take care of children, adults, the elderly, the sick and the addicts, those released from prisons and of course, our military members who are back home. Americans are tasked with taking care of our citizens, whatever their needs.

The U.S. is a very large country which is multi-cultural to the max. We are not a homogenus group, where we all speak the same language, worship the same and even look alike. Life must be easier where that is the norm. But no, the U.S. is a true melting pot where we have worked hard to include everyone, to respect differences. It has taken a long time to get to that place of unity, as it is today. We manage to tolerate whomever has been elected to office. The majority wins. I am a mother and grandmother so what happens in the world can be worrisome for me. I also understand that none of these folks, my family have to follow my lead. Most are grownups who are supposed to chart their own course. They can do what they want, when they want. I am positive they know by now what my standards are. What I like and don’t like. Sometimes we’re in accord and on some issues we’ll never agree. They are separate human beings. They will go their own way; it doesn’t matter what I think.

Every adult has to decide for himself or herself what they will accept and not accept. If they make a bad choice they will have to deal with it. They need to develop their own standards. That’s done w3ih time and experience. All parents want the best for their children and grandchildren but at some point they are gone, into the world ready or not. Life is difficult for many people, all the time. It’s not easy to ask for help or sometimes they don’t know where to go. There are severe consequences for those young adults and adults who haven’t learn some rules of the world.

That very young man who shot up the high school in Parkland, Florida was lost a long time ago. We’ll most likely find out a lot about him and his family, but he’ll never be okay. People around him weren’t paying attention, didn’t see how troubled he was and so many others will suffer forever. There’s the saying, “I’m not my brother’s keeper.” So, does that mean that we can ignore warning signs, bad behavior, from anyone, children and adults? No, we can’t ignore those warning signs around us. We can and must report something that doesn’t feel right, look right. We learn that lesson at an enormous cost. Adults have the right to observe, ask questions, to get answers when something is going on in their neighborhoods, at their schools or church. If we look away, nothing good happens.

Hang in there.

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February 2018

California has taken a beating last year, moving into 2018. First the fires, from the northern part of the state to the southern areas. Fires like we’ve never experienced before. Fires that burned week after week. Thousands of fire personnel worked day after day to total exhaustion. They had to stay and keep fighting the horror of whole mountainsides ablaze. One fireman lost his life and was accompanied by his fellow fire personnel back to his final resting place in Southern California. Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson was honored for his valiant service. He left behind a wife and young child. Mrs.Iverson is expecting another child. Thousands of citizens stood at freeway overpasses to show their respect. What a heartbreaking loss.

The fires were stubbornly active from the Santa Paula area, over to the Carpenteria and Montecito areas just south of Santa Barbara. After a brief respite the rains came to pour down the barren hillsides, through canyons and streets. I know that area well, it’s one of my favorite destinations. I have favorite places that I enjoy visiting, small restaurants that are a “must stop“ for me. I felt relaxed, renewed just to be driving through highway 126 and on to Santa Barbara. The rain seemed to go on forever, day after day of rain running wild down the mountainsides. No one expected the force that carried water, boulders, trees and parts of houses down the canyons of Montecito. Houses collapsed from the onslaught, as fire personnel went house to house looking for people to rescue. There were also inmates who volunteered to work the mountainside, before and after the rains come.

They all worked to exhaustion day after day.

The Thomas fire went on for days, with 250,000 acres destroyed and hundreds of homes turned to rubble. To rebuild or not will be a difficult decision for homeowners to make. Stay and remember it all or move and begin again in a new setting. All the recent fires have killed a lot of horses who couldn’t escape their barns and corrals. Many other animals in the mountains were also killed.

It will take a long time for the healing, for life to begin to look normal again. Nature will assert itself again, the hillsides will be green, saplings will take hold and in another lifetime the trees will once again cover the mountains. The families who lost their homes will decide to rebuild or to move away. The trauma is so enormous that that will be a hard decision for some survivors. A stubborn resilience will take hold as people decide what to do.

California has battled a horrible season of loss. We don’t forget that we also suffer from earthquakes. Fires are endured and many decide to rebuild. From my home I watched the hills burn in all directions in my nationhood a few months ago. Helicoptors rumbled over head for hours night and day carrying water drops. Some of these fires are started by sick individuals who get excited by their dirty deeds. When found and convicted they should be locked up for life. Or better yet, given the death sentence.

Man made disasters and naturally occurring disasters are conquered by amazing heroes who don’t back down. They stay until the work is done, no matter how long it takes. Then, there are man-made disasters that don‘t have to happen. I‘m thinking about the bullet train that has become stalled before it‘s even near completion. First of all, the tracks are being built in an agricultural area, which doesn’t need a high speed train. The farmers and growers didn’t want the train, but some owners made a lot of money to say “yes.” The train project is already busting the budget. Billions were allocated to build the “train to nowhere” and it needs more billions to complete a reasonable route. It was originally budgeted at 6 billion for the Central California section, 119 miles. Now that are asking for 10 billion to complete this particular stretch of track. The total budget for the bullet train is 64 billion dollars. Yikes!

It’s barely started and it’s already over budget. What a waste of money, time and energy, just to give our outgoing governor a big ego boost. Think about what 64 billion dollars could do to solve some very serious problems we have here. A few elected officials have questioned the cost and delays but they were not successful in getting a tough audit done.

California is a unique state in so many ways. We have natural resources everywhere, with a diverse population. The Pacific coastline has been ours to enjoy for recreation, commerce, transportation. We have huge cities like L.A. that sprawl for miles or tiny hamlets in excellent locations to invite tourists. From deserts, mountain communities, acres of land for growing vegetables, acres of fruit trees, lumber forests, mining from the ground, oil wells, natural gas, snow capped mountains for recreation, lakes and rivers and of course big cities where all kinds of jobs are available.

Someone has proposed using the old Ikea building in Burbank for housing. That’s a great idea! Housing is high up on the things that we need to end homeless encampments everywhere in SoCal. The homeless are also parking their large recreational vehicles on city streets all over. They expect to live there without access to running water, gas lines or electricity. They simply park and stay. This is a serious problem. The whole issue of the homeless needs to be handled by the people who are elected and paid to figure these things out. Businesses are affected by different aspects of the homeless, for example, drinking and drug use around areas where they live or hang out.

California did add 52,700 jobs in December; government added 10.300 jobs, leisure/hospitality added just over 10,000 jobs. A business/government conference at UCLA forecast one million more people will be added to Southern California’s population. That means more housing will be needed whether this surge of people will be buying homes or renting. Toys R US will be closing 27 stores in California. Some stores will be a combination of ToysRUs and BabiesRUS locations. It may close as many as 182 stores nationwide. Alabama is going to get a new Toyota auto factory, which may employ as many as 4,000 workers. The jobless rate dropped to 4.3% in the United States.

L.A. county welcomed 48.3 million visitors in 2017. According to the census 50 million citizens in the U.S.A. are 65 years and older. State geologists have discovered a quake fault that runs under Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. L.A. Country is trying to get an accurate count of the number of homeless people in L.A. county. …So, life continues to be series of pluses and minuses. Things are better or worse, improving for some, failing for others. Our City Council wants to set up temporary trailers for the homeless on a parking lot. It would accommodate 67 people. That’s not a lot of people to get shelter. This is just a drop in the bucket. Considering that there are thousands of homeless people in and around city hall. They’re not all visible: some sleep on and under bridges, parks, the LA river and just about anywhere they can. The city council wants to build permanent housing through voter approved bonds of $1.2 BILLION. Life can be very difficult at times. Problems arise with no easy solutions. Money is often a problem for lots of people. We’re playing catch-up all the time, just trying to stay in the game, forget winning the game. We live in a very wealthy country. We grow millionaires and billionaires with ease. Someone is always figuring a better way or a new way to make things, solve problems, which often brings in money. Americans are very creative, seeking new ways to express ideas. We have been dreamers and schemers since day one. The role of President is key to a better life for citizens. President Trump has to make things better or he won’t be re-elected again. Despite his own wealth, he has never experienced Presidential perks. Being escorted everywhere with a squad of armed protectors. Having every whim taken care of. Queen Elizabeth in England is probably the only human on earth who really knows what pomp and ceremonies really feel like.

Fires, floods, disasters, we get it all in California sooner or later. Sometimes I don’t want to be here at all. I daydream about living in a place that’s easier, safer. Bad things happen to good people all the time. There’s no understanding that. Good people know what to do to make their lives better, easier, but that doesn’t mean it will happen. It doesn’t guarantee a perfect life. Bad luck hits like a sudden storm, with no rhyme or reason. Bad luck has to be handled, the best way we can. Bad luck may feel like a punishment for bad behavior. But we do know that even very good people have problems that need to be solved. We just have to get through those tough times. We can try to understand the possible causes of the bad luck, but ultimately we just have to accept it and see if there are solutions. Time often takes care of problems. A path of action may change things. The pessimist gives up, the optimist keeps trying to make things better.

Hang in there.

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“Everything alive is part of us, and many things which do not move as we move, are part of us….All things are part of us and we have come here to enjoy them and thank God for them.”
William Saroyan
Playwright and novelist
August 31, 1908-May 18, 1981

January 2018

It seems that our President can always find something to complain about. He claimed that there was an evil campaign by Democrats to outlaw the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Apparently President Trump vowed to bring that back to the American pubic. Huh? Did I miss something? After viewing the “ TV Ad” or public notice that showed various people saying “Thank you President Trump, for saving our jobs” and other things, ending with a little girl saying “Thank you for letting us say “Merry Christmas” again.” I was saying it throughout December to family, friends, shopkeepers, store personnel, etc. I just can’t keep up with all the bizarre things that our president gets involved with. Does he wake up everyday looking for a new enemy, or something to blame on the Democrats, or some person to disparage via his Twitter account? Politics, as it is practiced today, seems to create so many problems. It truly is a contest, Democrats vs. Republicans, endlessly. President Trump wants to be the best, the first, number 1, endlessly. Trump lies regularly. He’s often corrected immediately but he’ll never apologize, for anything. Narcissists don’t apologize for anything, ever.

President Trump won an important victory for his party. The President and Republican leaders celebrated that they were able to pass a tax overhaul bill which is going to cost $1.5 TRILLION dollars. The overhaul of the tax policies will benefit corporations and rich taxpayers the most. Millions of American taxpayers could lose their health care. That’s a big issue for American families. It’s very hard to cope with the unknowns of Washington policies. I would be totally unhinged if I lost the health insurance I currently have.

Here in California, we’ve experienced a year unlike any other. Fires in the mountains and foothills in northern and southern California have been devastating, absolutely horrific. The wine country in Northern California was affected but more, important, many, many homes were lost. Some neighborhoods were wiped out, while one house left still standing. In recent days, Southern California mountain ranges have been burning continuously for days. It’s being called the Thomas fire and ranges from the farming community of Fillmore to the seaside community of Ventura and northward to areas of Santa Barbara. It’s estimated to burn 300,000 acres of land. The cause isn’t known but it could have been caused by humans.

This current fire killed one fireman who was stationed in southern California. He was part of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, San Diego Unit. For big fires, firemen from all over the state gather at he most dangerous fires. Cory Iverson, 32 died from smoke inhalation and burns. His death was mourned by his co-workers and many others around the state. He was taken to his home-site by a group of firemen in a convoy of vehicles. People gathered on overpasses on several freeways and saluted this distinctive hero, who was married, with a 2-year old daughter and with another child due in a few more months.

These fires had as many as 7,000 fire personnel out on the hillsides. Prisoners who are trained to fight fires were also working. Out of control fires are heartbreaking, for those who lost their homes, those who battled the elements to fight the fires that were breaking out all around the state. We are told by the experts who study fires that they will continue like this forever. Many fires are caused by careless people in the forests, but some are caused by natural events such as lightning strikes. I also think California should have its own fleet of water-dropping airplanes. Why it hasn’t happened is a puzzle to me.

In other places around our country people will be tested by other weather events, such as too much snow back East and in the Southern states. This truly was a year where people were confronted by lousy weather: hurricanes in the Southern states and complete collapse of houses, buildings, utilities and more in Puerto Rico. The citizens there are still asking for help, to return electricity and clean water to most of the citizens there. And to rebuild their houses. It’s going to be a long-haul for all of these folks. They’re all Americans and must be helped.

2017 was not one of my best years. It started on day one when I was attacked by a dog, bitten and mauled enough to have to go immediately to a hospital and stayed there for the weekend so I could be watched. It has changed my attitude about dogs and how blind some people are about their dogs. Some people will say, “He’s a sweetheart. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.” They are denying the dangerous their dog could be if not watched carefully all the time. By the way, I’ve always had dogs in my home. My children had dogs around to interact with. No one ever got hurt. That’s the way it should be. So, I still like dogs a lot but I’m much more careful around them.

Despite all our problems Americans are very lucky. We have the freedom to choose a career, or a particular job. We have the freedom to choose, to explore the world, to travel to new and interesting places. We have the right to vote and choose our leaders. We can join a military outfit and serve all citizens that way. People who choose the “helping careers,” such as doctors, nurses, police, sheriffs, fire services, teachers, people who work with the very young, in preschools, or the people who serve those at the end of their lives. Americans can accomplish a lot of things, can explore or even create whole new industries because we learned a long time ago that when people cooperate together amazing things can happen.

It was a pretty good year. Our website is very popular and it continues to bring a lot of news about the jazz scene in L.A. I didn’t go out as much as I used to but I totally enjoyed the singers and musicians I heard during the year. I’m going to try to get out more often. There’s so much talent here in L.A. and beyond. I hope the new year brings good things to all of us. We have an abundance of talented, creative, hard working citizens in America. As long as we elect strong, smart leaders we’ll be A-Okay. My helpful hint--never give chocolate to any pet. It’s very toxic!

Hang in there.


“One is happy as a result of one’s own efforts….“the necessary ingredients of happiness--simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, , and , above all, a clear conscience.”

George Sand, French novelist and memoirist July 1, 1804----June 8, 1876

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