Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018 Janus Turns His Head

Michael Sedano

Wood, Smiley
Warm days come as no surprise this time of year. It’s California winter in Pasadena. Here along the coastal side of the San Gabriel mountains temperatures reached nationwide highs of eighty-something on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. I sympathize with gente living in genuine winter.

Bravo Battery looking southwest
Fifty years ago I was living in wildy extreme winter on top of a mountain near the border of North Korea. Even on pleasant days I  used to fantasize about blue skies and Isla Vista beaches.

Since time immemorial, fantasy long has provided the muse for sheer escapism, and more practically, for things like new year resolution lists.

Some resolutions come ad hoc, others repeat themselves like the seasons.

Nature has a compelling way of turning fantasy into bounty, or regret. The weather has me gearing up for planting season. I won’t regret getting a jump on planting season.

Traditionally, I like turning the earth while the big football game plays on teevee, finishing the day planning abundant harvests from tiny seeds going into pots.

When I occupied space in the world of work, the big football game came the day after wrapping my work-year’s biggest project. Only la tierra had the power to empty the energy built over the three-month duration of the task and its final Saturday climax. There’s magic in working the earth.

The earth has now been worked. The process was anything but passive, however. Recent rains gave a plasticity to the soil that made running tools through it vigorous exercise. I bent to the labor filled with visions of la cosecha to come. Who needs Super Sunday to know the date?

La Chickenada laughed at the gardener’s back-bending work. “Don’t you have a bad shoulder, vato?” the Rhode Island Red taunted.

“Yeah, we could do it better!” the Barred Rock advised.

Despite their superior ability to scarify garden beds, the ladies would make short work of the bok choy planted in early December. So in la jaula they remain. What la Chickenada doesn’t know is I've resolved to get them some roommates this Spring.

The flock is entitled to its voice in exchange for their eggs and abono. “Órale, menso,” the New Hampshire just called, “we give the blanquillos and chicken shit because it’s our nature, there’s no ‘exchange’ involved.” She’s entitled to some slack on account it was a traumatic year, when a night visitor killed one of the Barred Rocks as she slept too near the predator’s reach.

La Chickenada will have a better year, and an improved jaula. That’s a resolution that pays.

I look forward to the seeds arriving in the mail. Local vendors are shrinking, with limited varieties. I’ll get local seedlings. The chicks will arrive at the post office.

The mail always has something interesting in it. For instance, I have a copy of Literary San Antonio, forthcoming from TCU Press. If Literary San Antonio is anything like Literary El Paso, readers are in for a treat.

Read, Raza! Read, Everyone!
Read more, that’s a resolution I can live with. In fact, 2017 was a year of expanding the farm to fork local sustainability idea nurtured in 2016's The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island by Kathleen Alcalá.

There’s a stack of unread books from last year. I feel them throbbing in the corner, vibrating fruitlessly to ward off accumulating dust. Inside my computer, there’s no dust on the PDFs in the 2BRed folder, but it hasn’t been opened in a while. Reading on the screen is a different horse feather.

The unread aside (I’ll find time), this year I need more SpecFic. I need a brick and mortar source, and I need books, not files. I want books for my granddaughter, all genres. I want sci-fi and imaginative stuff a pre-teen who loves Harry Potter and Percy Jackson will devour.

The epiphyllum collection in 2018 promises abundance. Good friends and collectors left this climate for the Pacific Northwest, honoring me with the care of their multi-generations epiphyllum collection. I resolve to organize my multi-generations collection to create a great wall of epiphyllums. I have old-growth staghorn ferns that need dividing. In a few months, and for a few days at a time, Echinopsis and other cacti, epiphytes, sundry succulents, will share their grandeur, and I shall continue capturing what I’m able.

I urge everyone reading La Bloga to subscribe to two resolutions: Good health. GOTV. (Facebook users will want to subscribe to La Bloga via the email link in the column footer).

A program of recuperation I began in 2015 turned into physical therapy and has since morphed into regularly applied preventive medicine. Read, raza! Walk, raza! If you’re fit, stay fit. If you’re getting fitter, adelante and here’s to the fittest year since 19NN, or last year, tu sabes.

GOTV 2018
2018 is mid-year elections. Don’t assume you are already registered, verify. The only way to change and reverse course is by taking back elected offices across the country. And winning elections is guaranteed to effect changes that affect policy-making. Turn 'em all out!

With verification that you yourself can vote, share the power with familia and friends and perfect strangers.

Until November, "Register" is the word of the day. Help spread the word.

In some states, Get Out The Vote depends on access to registration cards and deadlines. In California, people can register to vote, even via cell phone, through the Secretary of State’s website. http://registertovote.ca.gov

Once registered, GOTV means exercising the franchise and helping all like-minded registered voters to get to the polls to vote. We get only one day to do it right. And it doesn't matter if all your candidates are weasels. Our weasels are preferable to their lemmings.

FU on Resolutions
“You either Follow Up, or you Foul Up,” was how I finished sales training over the years, Take your pick, FU or FU." The sales force got a kick out it and laughed. I never got it wrong and those who FUd rarely FUd.

Pause looking forward to this year’s resolutions, how’d you do last year? FU with yourself. Are there one or three behaviors that you’d do more of, less of, or not at all?

I enjoy my ongoing walking campaign, a 2015 resolution. Maybe this is the year I can again wear a made-to-order suit I had tailored, making preparations to return from overseas to civilian life, in 1970. A ver.

For sure this year and forever onward I’ll FU this annual resolution to go walkabout. I'll be managing diabetes and amazing my endocrinologist. She agrees, walking and eating right make a life-changing difference.

That’s not the sole way I’m harvesting good fruit from resolutions. By divesting and simplifying my stuff I’m recovering a lost past and rekindling abandoned plans.

Korean silk fabric
I remember the day I bought the silk. My chingoes and I had a fancy sit-down lunch served on china from a deluxe menu at Eighth Army headquarters in Seoul, were kicked out of the military golf course, caught a cab to the top of Namsan, I bought my silk, we wandered through Seoul streets for a couple hours then caught a cab.

A bit of research and I learned the silk market lay at the foot of Nam San in the heart of Seoul, Korea. I rode the funicular from the mountain down to street level. To my right, per the guidebook map I’d consulted in the camp library, would be a multi-story marketplace where vendors traded principally in silk. I spent close to forty dollars, a fortune for me in those days.

Sidewalk near silk market. GIs wore mufti in the ville.
The silk arrived home one day in a big wooden box, along with all the stuff accumulated in thirteen months. I flew back to Ft. Lewis wearing my uniform and schlepping a duffel bag filled with khakis, fatigues, and a shaving kit. All my stuff was on a boat.

The silks we marveled at, put them into a metal trunk, and moved on. The green gold blue black striped material lines the sleeves of the fancy "arirang" traje of old-style Korean women. I liked the other colors, a bit garish perhaps for some, what can I say. I'd wear them. She could find a good tailor or seamstress. The trunk disappeared into the maw of the things in the attic. Now and again I’d remember the silks, fearing moths.

I found the trunk deep in the way-in-back of stuff. First-in, last-out. My old going-away-to-college trunk, back when all the stuff I owned could be contained within.

I dusted off the metal surface, on top was a torn label with the address of the old family homestead I'd written there in August 1963.

I opened the trunk. Out flowed fantasies of the Chicano adventurer, trekking through the fabulous Orient, acquiring exotic silks and untold riches.

Mrs. and Pvt. Lean Mean Fighting Machine, Ft. Ord, circa January 1969. His new year resolution
was to make the best of it.

Mail Bag Late-breaking News
Bless Me, Ultima. The Opera Opens at Alburquerque's NHCC

Buy Tickets via phone 505-243-0591
Buy Tickets via internet. 
More Information, added dates, link here.

Revolutionaries, Women, Lens

"Women, Mujeres, Ixoq: Revolutionary Visions is the outcome of a photo, video, and oral history project named: Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color, which is organized to share the creativity of women artists whose writing, paintings, and careers carry a theme of social justice. With their words, their art, and their photographs, the aim of this book is to display for the world women whose visions may transform communities and inspire young women to lead us into the future. Regardless of gender and positionality, its intent is to educate and inspire young minds to become the role models we need. Also, to keep in mind that revolutionary women, must nurture young boys to become respectful men who love and treat women as equal human beings. Women, Mujeres, Ixoq: Revolutionary Visions is a reminder that we all have a story of resilience and that every woman is a revolutionary in her own right."

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