soy * maestra

A reason why I love the neighborhood…

Overheard at the hairdresser’s this weekend, one Nepalese esthetician said to her younger sister, a Nepalese cosmetologist (no, I don’t know the difference between an esthetician and a cosmetologist: I only know their titles from reading the licenses on the wall.  I do know the difference between a cosmetologist and a cosmologist, will give myself credit for that) —

“The doctor said I can’t have any sugar.”

“What can you eat, then?” (Clicking noises for sympathy.)

“No rice… no potatoes… no corn, especially not corn, the doctor said, and no tortillas… no fruit… no oranges, no strawberries, no pineapples… if I have an apple, only half… no juice… no cookies… no sodas… no cupcakes…. no pancakes… nothing.”

My kind & patient hairdresser, a self-described “African woman in a Mexican mujer/cuerpo” b/c her great-grandmother was an African woman from Africa who lived in Mexico and married a Mexican, echoed, “¡Eh!  What can you eat?”

“Spicy peanuts.  I can eat spicy peanuts.” 

Cacahuates picante!  Ah, the little graces in our lives.  I actually think a Nepalese diet would be a vast improvement (smoked fish, black soybeans, pumpkin vine tips, lentils) over traditional American fare, but I also understand love for cakes.

Prayer: For the women in my neighborhood who see me at the market or hairdresser & ask if I’m Filipina, or Vietnamese, or Thai, or Japanese, and I wish my response were all of the above y la Mexicana. 

When the women ask me what I do for a living, I say, soy maestra. 

I am a teacher.

swan * scythe

One thing I love about my little college is the library, where I’ve spent hours upstairs & downstairs browsing the faith-based collections, especially spiritual autobiographies.

A fig tree with huge elephant-ear-leaves shades our stone-and-glass edifice.

If you walk quickly alongside the tinted mirror-glass, your image vanishes into shelves and shelves of books…. this tickles me to no end!  If I had the gift of “disapparation,” I’d love to vanish into books.

Last month, I borrowed Julian of Norwich’s Book of Showings, this edition.  I taught a fragment of Julian’s text in the first phase of our British Lit Survey course this past autumn.

See Julian’s profile under “300 Women Who Changed the World.”

Swan Scythe Press holds a dear place in my heart since it published my first chapbook almost 10 years ago.  Please submit to the annual chapbook contest.

To see Swan Scythe’s diverse & beautiful books, click here.

Prayer: “All shall be well/ and all shall be well/
… and all manner of thing shall be well.” ~ Julian

eyjafjallajökull * volcano

A slowly spreading plume of volcanic ash from Iceland is covering parts of Europe, shutting down air travel and stranding tens of thousands of passengers around the world. The ash cloud forced Europe’s two busiest airports, Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris, to cancel all non-emergency flights Thursday.

“What we are seeing in Iceland is that as the magma particles get towards the surface, they interact with the very cold water and they chill to form glassy fragments and these glassy fragments are small, they have sharp edges and when those get up in the air that is what is causing the risk to aviation,” says Colin Macpherson, a professor of Earth sciences at Britain’s Durham University.

baja * quake

7.2 earthquake in Baja, California this Easter afternoon…  started with a 3.3 earthquake, a little tremble… I sat quietly, waiting to see what would happen… it lengthened into a big one!  My kitchen swayed like a boat… mirrors rattled… windchimes jingled… although I’m over a hundred miles north of the epicenter.   

Everyone talks about “what one was doing” shortly prior to earthquakes.  So, I was in the kitchen washing a colander of dou miao (fresh pea sprouts) from my favorite Asian market, a steaming plate of chapchae (rice vermicelli with vegetables) on the dining table.  I’d finished responding to students’ e-mail messages – it’s Academic Advising Week –  and was ready for an early supper.

I’ve lived in California for over a decade but am still unaccustomed to earthquakes, big or small… grateful for little damage, no loved ones hurt, aye, no one hurt at all… but these are only initial reports, and prayers still go up. 

According this site, the earthquake was caused by “shallow magma fields” associated with “tectonic forces which are slowly separating Baja California from the remainder of North America.” Yikes!

lemon tea * limon

Yesterday afternoon, I enjoyed a spontaneous tea celebration with colleagues.  What was the reason for this celebration?  Ah, a secret!  I must say the prayers & hard work of department faculty and program chairs played a special role, and I am proud to stand among our fine ranks. 

Humming with good tidings, we brought our little offerings for a tea party at noon:  red velvet cupcakes from the recesses of a department fridge, a colorful array of teas (white chai tea, green tea, lavender tea, lemon blossom tea – my choice), and spicy red kimchi.  Humble contribution from me… salmon sushi rolls from the campus “snack-nookery.”

My department usually hosts teas once a semester… once, we even invited the parents of students in our major.  Perhaps I should make weekly teas a part of our co-curricular programming, too!  And spontaneous tea celebrations, well, a definite must!

Now I will spend the evening drinking mint pomegranate tea, listening to the Adagio Sostenuto by Sergei Rachmaninoff… it’s the second movement in his second piano concerto… played by the venerable Arthur Rubinstein… on an old audiocassette tape, such a bother to rewind to the middle, but well worth it.

zucca * pumpkin

Today I learned “zucca” is Italian for pumpkin.

Birds I’ve seen lately in southern California ~wild green parrots (today), hummingbirds (all the time, a joy), & a chicken-hawk (I think).

As light runs along the length of power lines / you glimpse, in the garden . . .
Ginkgo Light, Arthur Sze

Desert wind blowing: how the city suddenly turns . . . Yosefa Raz  

I cut out / irises from your clouds and pin them / to sleep beside the ibis tablecloth ~ Arlene Ang

Inside the dark flower moonlight runs / endlessly. Violet moonlight ~ Lynn Xu

To live is so startling ~ Emily Dickinson

Index of Emily Dickinson’s fascicles . . .

bird & tamarindo


When I lived in Berkeley, there was a store where you could buy reams and rolls of dyed handmade paper from all over the world.   

I used handmade paper ~ turquoise, gold, crimson ~ to create a giant accordion chapbook. It stood on the floor to the height of my elbows.   


Dos mujeres ~ Tepehua, Nahuas & Otomi Mexican women engaged in papermaking …

Without using a blender to pulp the fibers, as I do ~ paper-making bark is peeled by Otomi mujeres, then boiled with lye & ash to soften.   

“Folhetos” ~ literatura de cordel ~ chapbooks on strings. “Bird” and “Tamarindo” are my favorites this afternoon…


Do not pray by heart, but with the heart. ~ Anonymous