Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Twelfth Week: Activities to do at home with our children



En Español

 




Los Bloguitos en el mes de junio


Los Bloguitos es un sitio de búsqueda  para niños y niñas que hablan y leen español. Encontrarás cuentos, poesías, adivinanzas, dibujos y mucho más.

En el mes de junio encontrarás aportes sobre junio, el día de las padres, el día internacional del día de los niños, el verano, las estaciones del año y muchas cosas más.

También puedes leer el trabajo de la escritora Leticia Teresa Pontoni.

Tenemos la sección sobre niños y niñas que escriben. Los niños y niñas pueden colaborar con cuentos, dibujos y poemas. Con mucho gusto los pondremos en Los Bloguitos.  Pueden mandar sus colaboraciones a renecolatolainez@gmail.com.

En el espacio de búsqueda puedes escribir sobre lo que andas buscando para descubrir lo que tenemos en Los Bloguitos.





Recomendado para niños a partir de los 5 años, es un espacio pensado para que desarrollen todo tipo de conocimientos y habilidades relacionadas con el mundo de los objetos y el espacio. Aquí pueden jugar con el sistema solar, escuchar el sonido que hacen los agujeros negros y hasta armar cohetes caseros que sí vuelan. Idioma: español.







Read Conmigo es un programa gratuito de lectura bilingüe que alienta a los padres a leerles a sus hijos en inglés y español. El programa proporciona libros infantiles en inglés y español y recursos de aprendizaje gratis para niños en edad preescolar hasta 5to grado. Read Conmigo fue creado para brindar herramientas y recursos gratuitos a padres y maestros, y ayudarlos a fomentar el amor por la lectura entre sus hijos y estudiantes.


Tuesday, June 02, 2020

The Gluten-free Chicano Finds Real Bread

The Gluten-free Chicano
Biting Is Believing: Analog Derrotada
Michael Sedano


Analogs, in general suck. We’re talking wheat-based food here. The list of acceptable exceptions is shorter than this sentence: a few pastas, a rare beer, semi-tolerable bread-like products from select bakeries. For people allergic to gluten, analogs look like what they’re not without tasting good. Wheat-eating people in The Gluten-free Chicano’s household get asco when he offers a plate of analog.

Long-suffering Celiacs learn to take silently a meal with friends, sipping water and declining to eat. It’s that, or lose friends over tiresome whining about all the food the gluten-intolerant diner watches his friends consume. Pizza. Soy sauce. Warm sourdough bread slathered in butter. Pan dulce. Ay de mi, a warm concha right off the tray. This is all poison to celiacs.

Ours is a bread and wheat-eating culture but people like me dare not consume any food contaminated by wheat or barley or rye. We read labels religiously and don’t buy ambiguous ingredients like “maltodextrin” and “yeast,” unless we’re sure they’re safe for people like us. Restaurants get put through a third-degree on prep and ingredients.

Bread analogs make the pain never go away. Find some in the freezer aisle, tiny shrunken loaves whose dense brittle slices have a uniform crumb like poundcake, and unpleasant texture in your mouth. Los Angeles’ La Brea Bakery makes an acceptable loaf that, like many breadlike gluten-free products, adds seeds to the masa to hold the crumbly flours together. Your bread crunches when you chew it.

Altadena Bread Company bakes gluten-free bread. Not an analog, bread, real bread. It’s not a miracle but the product of love, knowledge, industry, and the right ingredients. You can visit ABC’s website for details on their process (link). 

The Gluten-free Chicano got his hands on a beautiful hemisphere loaf of brown bread that immediately awakened his skeptic’s suspicion. This is artisan bread, wrapped in brown paper and cellophane. Tear off the ABC label and slide your hand under a brown crusty exterior, rich nose of toasted grain, the heft of a solid work of oven arte. 

How could something so gorgeous…the Gluten-free Chicano’s urban farmer daughter assured the loaf’s gluten-freeness, so he was prepared to be amazed.

El Gluten-free Chicas Patas sliced a chord off the half-globe and began a fabulous experience in unbelievable gluten-free eating. The knife edge pushes curling mantequilla across the welcoming plane, packing flavor into the lovely carpet of vacuoles left behind by expansion and contraction during baking of Altadena Bread Company’s marvelous multigrain masa.

That bite is exquisite.

Memory races through countless dining experiences dark atmosphere, white-vested waiters red leather banquettes, sharing basket of warmed bread accompanied by a white ceramic ramekin  mounded with whipped butter. All those dates with Barbara compressed into this bite. I ate bread. It was good.

Altadena Bread Co. bread is more than good, it meets ten criteria The Gluten-free Chicano expects any bread analog to meet or surpass.

1. Looks
2. Smell
3. Slice & crumb
4. Eaten plain with sweet butter.
5. Toasted with traditional toppings.

Slice this bread thin, all the way across the growing diameter. The slices are so large, I cut one slice in half as a serving for a fabulous snack. Toast the whole slice and divide it. Spread soft cream cheese and apricot jam on one half, strawberry jam on the other half. The texture of the slice makes it suitable for brick cream cheese, it won’t tear apart even from cold dairy.

Old-fashion cinnamon toast provides satisfaction, too. Toasted bread generously buttered, rub a tsp of granulated sugar with a sprinkling of cinnamon into the toast all over.

Why not cut to the chase and put this so-far fabulous product to the most difficult tests of gluten-free analog breads? Bad analogs invariably fail the bread soaked in liquid and cooked test. The Gluten-free Chicano exercised Altadena Bread Co. bread in two impossible for conventional gf product recipes. 

6. French Toast.

Barbara and I enjoy a sweet start to our days. I’ll make waffles with Bob’s Red Mill Pancake mix, occasionally, pancakes with Krusteze mix. I can’t make gf French toast that’s good. La Brea’s French toast is crunchy, not the custardy smoothness my mouth craves. It’s bad enough I’m not serving champagne, then to have my food crunch at me. I’m still living down my 8th grade shop teacher’s assessment that “Sedano, you’d make a crunchy noise eating whipped cream!”

2 thin slices of Altadena Bread Company bread. Only.
2 eggs.
1/8 cup half-and-half
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Powdered canela
Pie plate or shallow flat pan

Beat the eggs in a deep bowl with the dairy. Make them frothy. Splash in the vanilla and cinnamon. Froth up.

Cover the bottom of the pie dish with the egg-cream mix. Put the slices of bread into the liquid. Pour the remaining liquid across the bread.

Let the bread rest in the liquid half an hour or longer. This would totally ruin conventional gf analogs—they’d turn to mush. Turn the bread now and again to ensure deep soaking. 

With this, or any gf breadlike substance, a critical element is the soak and texture outcome. Ordinary gf crap sucks-in the water like a paper towel in a teevee commercial except it’s not strong. The breadlike substance becomes mush and fries up lousy. In the mouth, the slick pasty muck has a graininess that rakes across the tongue. Standard gf mixes use rice or potatoes that pulverize into minuscule cubes no matter how finely milled.

Not so Altadena Bread Co.’s amazing bread. Allow time for the bread slices to soak up really well. The masa's not hydrophobic but not eager to take up liquid. The brown bread round loaf is a tough-bodied bread like a sourdough or rye, but not elastic. The French toast soaked all the way through, browned wonderfully with splotches of color, and owing to the soak, offers a great tooth to the chew. 

Heat vegetable oil and a pat of butter to barely smoking. Lower the flame to lick the bottom of the pan like you'll soon lick your lips.

Slide the bread into the hot oil. Pour the remaining egg liquid slowly across the bread so it overflows and begins bubbling in the pan.

Fry the French toast for a minute or until the bottom is nicely browned. Flip it. Cook another minute or more to brown that side.

Present the French toast, one thin slice cut in half, with a couple slices crisp bacon, sweet stuff, peanut butter, knife and fork. 


7. Cheese strada / bread baked with cheese, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, zucchini rounds.



This is Depression-era food akin to fried canned string beans with egg. The ingredients are brick cheese, fresh or canned tomatoes, sliced bread, tomato sauce (unnecessary if canned tomatoes), zucchini or other squash.

The dish comes out triumphantly, like the cheese strada the cafeteria at school used to serve, with the deluxe addition of calabacitas. Rich cheesy flavor melded with acidic sweetness of tomato and the tooth of the liquid-soaked bread that has kept its structural integrity until served make this side a main course, too. We had leftovers for breakfast with an over-easy egg topping. Perfection.

So successful is the Cheese Strada (bread cooked in liquid) with Altadena Bread Company bread that The Gluten-free Chicano declares no need to continue the test, to include 8,9,10, a sandwich, croutons for Caesar salad with lots of anchovies, and a crumb coating for fried food.

The sandwich is going to be tough to the tooth. This bread in a sandwich is best served toasted or warm. That caveat in mouth, enjoy a celiac’s miracle, a real bread sandwich. 

Diamond Bakery, just down Fairfax from Canter's, used to sell a raisin bread, a rye loaf dense with more raisin than bread, the gluten was there just to hold the raisins together. This Altadena Bread Company recipe would make heavenly Diamond Bakery raisin bread!

A Monte Cristo sandwich lies in The Gluten-free Chicano’s future. That delight, a ham and cheese on French toast, served savory with a dusting of powdered sugar, will be perfect and heavy on the memories: a Monte Cristo was The Gluten-free Chicano's most special meal during his year in Korea.



Cheese Strada: Quick, Easy, Meatless

Non-stick spray the cooking vessel.
Pour tomato sauce on the bottom. Not necessary if using canned tomatoes. Use liquid from them here.
Shave 3 thin slices of cheese and lay them on the bottom.
Fit the bread to fill the bottom.
Pour more tomato sauce or cover with canned tomatoes.
Slice a tomato or two, layer across the top.
Shave eight slices of cheese or enough that generally covers the top.
Slice two small zukes, green and gold are pretty, and scatter rounds across the  cheese. This foto uses only half of each zuke.
Shave three slices of cheese and cover the top.



Preheat your oven to 350º or hotter.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Let baked dish sit for ten minutes to cool to eating temperature. 



This is a generous dish that serves four or six as a side. The Gluten-free Chicano served the sobras microwaved with an egg que-se-sale on top. The yolk melded with the cheesy bread custard into the best breakfast of the day in a long time.

Once you have bread crumbs, you can make a cheesy crispy crust for this and gather accolades from anyone you serve, no asco but lots of seconds.

That's why you cook, so people eat your food.


Rhetoric: Balderdash, or, The Art of Persuasion for Given People in a Pickle

There's a tiresome misuse of the word for the original form of verbal thinking, rhetoric. Rhetoric civilized the savages of the mediterranean. Socrates was a rhetorician. He was killed for teaching it.

Actually, Plato reports, Socrates was condemned in place of the Sophists, liars and manipulators who taught the youth of Athens to make the wrong reason appear the right and winning power over honest but less-trained advocates. Sophistry works. Civilizations decline owing to sophistry permeating a critical mass.

We're in a sophistic era of civilization right now, and journalists taking the easy route to dismiss "the rhetoric" of today's pendejx, aren't helping. Rhetoric is fluff and empty words, the assumption goes, and then merely count the lies.

Chaim Perelman, father of the violinist, wrote the entry on rhetoric for Encyclopedia Britannica. His offers the best contemporary counterpart to Aristotle's translated definition of rhetoric as the art of finding the available means of persuasion for a given audience.

Rhetoric, Perelman asserts, is situational. The availability of persuasion in a setting requires someone seeking to persuade, and someone open to being persuaded, provided the seeker is open to persuasion from the other. There's the rub today, que no? Both sides have to be persuadable by the other.

At its most essential expression, Lloyd Bitzer says, a rhetorical situation is marked by some exigence that can be mitigated by the right words. We know things are mucked up. It's complicated. Who can say what to whom?

Our United States of America finds itself at its most critical rhetorical situation. "the British are coming" "or give me death" "content of their character" "ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you".

People in the streets, waiting to hear something to send them home,  make up today's exigence. The right words are not "I'm going to send troops to shoot you," the right words are not "unlawful assembly," nor are the right words "all lives matter."

Those wise old Latinos, Cicero and Quintillian, declared rhetoric scientia bene dicendi, the study of the good person speaking well. Crud, good people are in short supply. Sophists abound, and the worst are full of passionate intensity and getting their loot on. Wrong words. But they work, for that audience.

The most fundamental power of rhetoric lies in its personal agency. You are the persuader and persuadable. Talk with your gente who talk to their gente who talk to their gente. We'll find the right words, all of us, with one another.

el pueblo unido jamás será vencido


Monday, June 01, 2020

From Dystopia to Absurdity: On Being a Chicano Writer in the Age of Trump


By Daniel A. Olivas

Estragon: [giving up again] Nothing to be done.
― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

In the summer of 2018, I argued in a New York Times opinion piece that the dystopia is here. Two years later, I might amend that characterization to say: We live in absurd times.

In that op-ed, I spoke about my fictional response to the election of Donald Trump in the form of my dystopian short story “The Great Wall” where the President has finally constructed his long-promised southern border wall. I describe it as a gaudy, golden monstrosity decorated with bas-relief scenes from the president’s life. I noted that the real monstrosity of the story was the detention center in San Diego, California, just inside the wall where the children are housed until they are allowed to wave good-bye to their parents through cloudy Plexiglas, before their parents are summarily deported in large, black buses.

I observed that a dystopia is an imagined, horrific place where people’s humanity is replaced by fear. But because Mr. Trump has implemented his cruel zero-tolerance immigration policies — where families are torn apart and children are sent to detention centers or even locked in cages — my dystopian tale had essentially become a reality. In other words, for many, the dystopia is here.

But Mr. Trump continues his downward spiral into racist, erratic, and vindictive anti-immigrant rhetoric and action, apparently playing to his base in the hopes of recreating his 2016 narrow Electoral College victory. Perhaps he is panicking as the economy’s health looks uncertain — exacerbated by the President’s trade war with China — and virtually all polling shows him losing re-election to Joe Biden.

Mr. Trump has flailed and sputtered — often on Twitter — at his political opponents and journalists in an attempt to lay blame elsewhere for his failure to fulfill his promise to build the wall. And when tragedy strikes in the form of migrant children dying in custody, the President is quick to blame others for the logical consequences of his policies.

Desperately searching for a “win,” Mr. Trump has decided to go around Congress to find money to build his wall. For example, we learned that military families at Fort Campbell, the Army base along the Kentucky-Tennessee border, will not be getting the new middle school that they had been expecting. Why? The school is one of 127 projects that will be suspended to shift $3.6 billion so that Mr. Trump may build his wall. In other words, Mr. Trump is willing to hurt military families to construct a wall that the GAO has called an ineffective — and expensive — way to prevent unauthorized immigration.

Mr. Trump’s wildly unreasonable, illogical, and inappropriate words and actions are the very definition of absurdity. And as a writer, I imagine the President as the star of the Theater of the Absurd, doing and saying things that would fit naturally in a Samuel Beckett play.

And then last August, we witnessed the horror of the El Paso massacre at Walmart, and learned that the shooter’s manifesto echoed Mr. Trump’s anti-immigrant language. All of this pushed me to complete my first play Waiting for Godínez inspired both by Mr. Beckett’s iconic Godot play and Mr. Trump’s absurd, anti-immigrant policies. The playwright’s Estragon, Vladimir, Pozzo, and Lucky are now embodied in my characters Jesús, Isabel, Piso, and Afortunada.

Absurdist theatre is a perfect fit for today’s irrational hatred aimed at immigrants, especially those who are Latinx. In Mr. Beckett’s play, Estragon is kidnapped each night, beaten, and thrown into a ditch. Each morning, he reunites with his longtime friend, Vladimir, and they both wait for a man named Godot who, of course, never arrives. Is Godot the symbol of hope for an absurd existence? Perhaps, but of course, Mr. Beckett famously avoided interpreting his work.

In my play, Jesús is kidnapped each night by ICE and put into a cage. But the immigration agents forget to lock the cage, so Jesús escapes and makes his way back to Isabel as they wait for Godínez in a city park. It is a wholly different play, of course, but Mr. Beckett’s absurdist spirit runs through my work. Poor Jesús is targeted despite the fact that, as his friend Isabel notes, he is a United States citizen who was born in El Paso. My play is being read by three theaters — two in Los Angeles and one in Seattle — and I have queried others. Now I wait.

Regardless of whether my play gets produced, I am compelled to speak truth to power, even if that power is farcical, risible, preposterous or — to put it in Beckettian terms — absurd. But I will not give up. Elections have consequences. There is certainly something to be done.

[A slightly different version of this essay first appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books last October. Waiting for Godínez has since been selected by the Playwright’s Arena’s Summer 2020 Zoom Reading Series. For more information about the series, please contact the Playwrights' Arena Literary Department at playwrightsarena.lanewplays@gmail.com.]


Friday, May 29, 2020

Carvana: A Pandemic Purchase

Melinda Palacio






What's it like to purchase a car from a vehicle size vending machine? Stay tuned to La Bloga. My pandemic purchase took some side trips and my post will be delayed by two weeks. By then, you'll get to find out if I keep the car or return it. Until then, stay safe, practice social distancing, wash your hands and love life, as crazy as it may seem during the Rona.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Thousand Little Chores

          Point of clarification: to the guy who emailed me to ask if Satiro's gave weekend discounts, the characters below do not exist, even if they bear resemblance to someone you may know. They exist only in the writer's imagination. So, if you are on the West Coast, traveling north from Torrance on the 405, and you exit on Braddock Avenue, west, then go two blocks and turn right on Slauson, stop at 1313, please don't knock on don Macario Machado's door and ask if this is the place they sell medical marijuana. He won't know what you are talking about, but if you are looking for good agua fresca and fresh pan dulce keep driving north on Braddock to Inglewood, where you will find Northgate Market. Bring a mask.                                                                    
 
     I was relieved when my friend told me Satiro’s Sin Semilla was staying open half-day Memorial Day and closing at noon, out of respect for the fallen, even if Satiro, himself, had shifted from 1970s Chicano hippy, anti-war activist, over the years, to straight-up Quaker pacifist, telling my friend, “All wars are bunk, especially the drug war. Nancy lost that one for us.”
     Satiro wanted to make it home by 12:30 to watch the jets fly over his Mar Vista home with his brother Emiliano, a Marine, who had lost his left leg and three fingers of his right hand in the battle for Hue. In ’70, when his draft number was coming up, Satiro’s mom had said, “I don’t need another hero in the family. You stay in college, or I’m sending you to the rancho in Zacatecas to live with your padrino Satiiricon,” which scared the hell of Satiro because, as a kid, he always thought his padrino looked kind of like the Chupacabra.
     Satiro graduated with an MS in chemistry from Davis, right as Vietnam was winding down. My friend said Satiro wanted to be a pharmacist, but the job prospects, back then, didn’t look good. One neighborhood drugstore pharmacist leveled with him. “I’m not prejudiced son, just want you to see reality. Would you hire a Mexican to sell drugs from behind the counter?”
     Of course, this was before the big boys, like Rexall, Rite-Aid, and CVS had cornered the market and started hiring any pharmacist willing to work long, stressful hours for low wages.
     No lie, at the time, it pissed-off Satiro to no end, so he spent most of the early 80s getting high, until he really started understanding the merits in the miracle weed. With his neighbor, an old-school farmer, originally from Tripasbuenas, Tamaulipas, a master with seeds, the two began experimenting with different strains of marijuana, way before anybody else.
     Satiro even wrote his experiments up as patents, just in case Washington ever came to its senses and legalized weed, like the Quakers had insisted, arguing, “You can’t fight evil with evil or you become evil in the process,” a paraphrase, of course.
     It all worked out okay. Satiro retired in 2005, after twenty-five years with Cayer Pharmaceutical, figuring how get a stronger “kick” into regular aspirin, hence, the first Aspirin-Plus then the Extra Strength series, changing the whole industry, and flooding the U.S. market with legally imported coca and caffeine from Latin America, fronted by the fictional coffee icon, Juan Valdez.
     I pulled to the curb just about 10:30 A.M., thinking I’d be early. I was surprised to see the same guy in line I saw last time, third from the front, holding a conversation with the guy ahead of him, another Chicano-looking guy, who didn’t seem to be saying much. The talker looked at me, and said,
“I remember you. What? It’s been two months already.”
     Talker wore an olive-green baseball cap, Desert Storm Veteran, U.S. Army, stitched in front. His black facemask had an Aztec warrior throwing a spear at an enlarged image of the corona virus. The other guy, his graying hair tied back in a ponytail, his scalp peeking through the thin strands, wore a brown facemask that said, “Rifa Rules,” kind of redundant, above the image of the Virgen de Guadalupe, but instead of roses falling from her tilde, there were psychedelic-colored marijuana leaves.
                                                                                   
     “Cool masks,” I said as I took my place in line, a little embarrassed by the simple $5.00 mask I had bought from the Oaxacan lady at the corner of Venice and Sepulveda boulevards, next to the Burger King.
     Talker said, “Might as well look good, you know, if we gotta wear them,” doing one of those laughs, no sound, just his body jerking.
     The other guy said, “My daughter made mine. She’s at Cal Arts.”
     It was eerie. When he said something, the leaves on Mother Mary’s tilde appeared to move and fall to the ground. I wanted to ask if his daughter had planned it that way, but I held my curiosity in check.
     Talker looked closer at my mask. “You better double-up, Ey.”
     “What?” “One mask’s not enough. It’ll stop the out-going but won’t protect you from the incoming.”
     As an example, the other guy lifted the bottom of his mask, picking up the Virgen’s bare feet, to reveal an N-95 surgical mask underneath. “95% protection,” said Talker, “and it keeps the top mask smelling clean.”
     I looked around. “I see Satiro made some improvements.”
     “Satiro is serious, bro’, a real proponent of Dr. Fauci.”
     There were perfectly spray-painted yellow circles on the driveway, six-feet apart, and two framed, computer-generated signs, Algerian script, one--OPEN FOR BUSINESS with the hours printed underneath, and the second, NO SPACING! NO SHIRT! NO SHOES! NO MASK! NO SHIT!
     “Bug’s spreading fast down here. I ain’t even stopping at Northgate for tamales or fresh tortillas, today, just getting my mota, er medication, and jamming straight home.”
     “Back to Torrance,” I said, remembering where the talker said he lived, about ten or fifteen miles south of Satiro's, on the Culver City-Venice border.
     “There it is. More people wearing masks there than here. When I got off the freeway onto Braddock, man, only a few people had masks. The Essentials down here aren’t taking it seriously, man. Up north of Wilshire, in Playa del Rey, down to Rolling Hills, the Non-Essentials learned their lesson and flattened the curve, bro’, but down here it’s still climbing, probably last time you see me here.”
     "People gotta work," the other guy said.
     Two new people stepped into the circle behind me, kind of dorky-looking couple, a kid with a battered skateboard, long, red kinky hair sticking out of his beanie cap, and a girl in a Grateful Dead sweatshirt, the hoodie shading her cute, mousy face.
     The window above the garage opened. We all looked up. “Hey!” came a booming voice, Satiro pulling his oxygen-powered facemask below his chin. “One person, one circle.” He was looking down at us, his head cleanly shaven, his gray fu-man-chu down to his jawbone, his face more wrinkled than I remembered. Still, not bad for a guy in his late sixties.
     “We’re together. I mean, we live together,” the kid called.
     "That's got nothing to do with what I just said.” Satiro’s voice was stern.
     The kid quickly moved to the yellow circle, six-feet back. Satiro followed up with, “Are you in line without a mask, man?”
     “Masked-man. That’s funny, bro’, like the Lone Ranger,” said Talker.
     The kid said, “Last I checked, there's no law. We can choose whether to wear masks or not. We were born free,” his voice a little shaky.
     Satiro stood silent for a moment, then, “And last I checked, I can kick your ass off my property. Now you either put on a mask or split.”
     And to the rest of us he said. “I make the rules here.” The window closed shut, then opened again. “Hey, is that you, Desert Storm, Sammy?”
     The talker answered, “Yeah, Sati. I need a prescription refill.”
     “All right. Thank you for your service, be with you in a few minutes.”
     The girl reached into her pocket and pulled out a wrinkled rag and tied it around her face. Grumbling, the kid put on a surgical mask. She pulled out her phone and started texting, her fingers moving like dragonflies, fast.
     Talker: “I tell you the bug’s getting bad. Every time I cough, I panic, thinking maybe I got it. My wife told me what I got is paranoia from me smoking too much yesca. ‘Medicine,’ I corrected her. You know what she said? ‘Sammy, you'll justify anything to get stoned.’”
     “You’re right, though. It’s spreading pretty fast,” the other guy said, leaves on the Virgin’s tilde rustling.
     Talker: “Actually, I was digging it in the beginning. The bug was isolated with the Non-Essentials. They locked themselves inside. They didn’t even want the Essentials up there working, afraid of getting the bug, no nannies and no gardeners. They shut it all down.”
     The other guys said, “Yeah, everything was pretty tranquilo, at first, wasn't so bad. Blue skies, no traffic, nobody in the stores, pick-up at Tacomiendo, Johhny's Pastramis, Talpa or Lares on Pico, no work, just cruise and nobody honking. Even social distancing was cool, nobody breathing all over you at Costco. I had my Spotify going, my books, and even got a Hulu. I don’t know why everyone was complaining.”
     He was on a roll. The Virgen on his mask wasn’t just dropping colorful marijuana leaves. He had her doing a zapateado. “Man,” he continued, “I could park anywhere. Life was good. Now, it’s all opening-up again, same ol’ crap. Frat boys out, no shirts or masks, flexing muscles at Mar Vista Park, taking over the basketball court. The Mejicanos are back out on the baseball field, and the Hindus and Muslims with their cricket.”
     Talker: Even in Torrance, it was pretty chill, until the Non-Essentials from Rolling Hills and Palos Verdes started opening-up, too. None of the Essentials wanted to work up at Gelson’s or Pavilion’s, too many asymptomatics walking around, passing the bug. Carson and Wilmington, just a few miles south of me, are getting crowded again."
     The other guy interrupted, "All my wife talked about was getting her roots done, like gray hair is a curse. 'Hey,' I told her, 'What's so bad about looking like a racoon? Hijo, man, you know there aren’t really that many true blondes out there.”
     “The roots don’t lie,” said Talker, doing that laugh again. “The bug is taking us all back to our roots, no pun intended, you know, like what’s really important in life, what is really essential. Imagine what would happen if the Essentials all said, ‘Basta!’ we quit! More PPE’s or forget about it. Go pack your own groceries, cut your own meat, pick your own vegetables.' You think the asymptomatics are gonna do that work? Essentials, man, right up there with the doctors, nurses, and first-responders?”
     From a little speaker attached to the wall above the garage door, we could hear Satiro say, "Next." A guy in a suit hopped up the stairs. We all moved up to the next yellow circle.
     The other guys said, in a lowered voice, almost a whisper, “Eugenics, that’s how they’re getting rid of us gray-hairs, Chicanos, blacks, and the poor, like we’re breathing somebody else’s air.”
     “That's some Rush Limbaugh talk, right there. That’s all conspiracy crap. I’m more into the little things, like taking Escapulario y Escalera for walks, checking out the trees, nature, you know. Now, they tell us the bug lives on concrete for nine-days.”
     I didn’t think I heard him right. “Escapulario Escalera?”
     “Yeah, my dogs.”
     “One or two?”
     “Two, a chihuahua, Escapulario, for me, and a Pekingese, Escalera, for my wife, to keep the Asian-thing. She’s Korean, my wife. I guess it’s because I always have them with me, I got to calling them one name, after a friend of mine, a Tejano, I knew in the Army. Poor guy got cancer from being in Kawait. He's a tough dude, beat it."
     The other guy asked, “She from South Korea?”
     Talker: “No, Mid-town, over near Vermont and Wilshire. I met her in college, both of us computer science geeks.”
     “Ahhh.”
     I said, “Weren’t you the one talking about too much ethnic mixing last time.”
     Talker: “Bro’, you never hear of do as I say not as I do. Anyway, it upset her, me giving her a Chinese dog for her birthday, said I was stereotyping. I told her, hey! I’m Mexican, and I got a chihuahua. You don’t see me getting all huffy about it. She said she always wanted a Yorkie. How was I to know?”
     I still wanted him to clarify. “She calls her Pekingese, Escalera?”
     “No accent, whatsoever, made her a hipster with the people at the dog park, before they closed it down.”
     The other guy just rubbed his cheek.
     Talker: “Anyway, my wife had a hard time with the new life, her being Korean, and wanting to work all the time, be productive. She's beautiful, I tell you, a sculpted Asian face, like Nancy Kwan, but always got a thousand little chores to do.”
     “Tell me about it,” the other guy said, as if completely understanding. “That’s why I go cruising, for hours, ey.”
     “So, I tell her, look babe, no use rushing around, stay in bed, watch the View or Wendy Williams, Dr. Phil. We can’t go to work, no school for the girls. It’s like the movie, the ‘Day the Earth Stood Still,’ except for the Essentials, nobody’s working. Everything’s closed. Nobody knows who’s got the bug and who doesn’t. It’s a jungle out there. I can’t even do any repairs around the house. Home Depot? Forget about it, too crowded with people from Rolling Hills and Redondo Beach--the bug carriers, A-symptomatics. The people who work at Home Depot don’t know shit, anyway. True Value Hardware, in Lennox? Come…on, the people there don’t even wear masks, and the place is so small by the time you find what you need, boom, you got the bug, and then I bring it home to you and the girls, or worse, to Mama-san #1. That’s what I call my mother-in-law, Mama-san #1. My wife called me a racist, said she was going to start calling my mom, instead of Francine, Dona Panchita, but her mom told us how much she digs the moniker, makes her feel important. Ah, bro', it's been two months of bliss, but now? She-e-i-t. Everything’s opening up again, same ol', same ol'.”
     Silence. Somebody with a broken muffler hauls down the street.
     Even the dorky couple was listening to Talker, the girl’s arm dangling, relaxed at her side, her phone in her hand, at the ready, just in case.
     Talker: “So, I won’t be seeing you guys anymore. Our old barrio here is a petri dish, probably bugs crawling all through the projects and up and down Slauson, man, probably all on the sidewalk and shit.”
     The girl looked down, around her sandaled feet, as if looking for the virus. Her boyfriend with the beanie said, shyly, “Maybe they’re going for herd immunity.”
     We were quiet. Then Talker said. “That’s pretty damn smart, kid. Herd immunity, in the ghetto, a few get sick and die but everybody else is immune. Brilliant! Like the Swedes.”
     “Cucarachas got herd immunity,” the other guy said, with a chuckle. “They’re like little tanks, immune from everything since prehistoric times.”
     I couldn’t help myself. “Okay, but which one of you wants to sacrifice yourself to the virus, so the others can get immunity?”
     No one answered. Then they looked at each other, like hoping for a volunteer.
     Just then the window opened, and Satiro yelled, “Hey! I told you before! Get that goddamn sign out of here.”
     We all raised our heads to Satiro. He was looking beyond us. We turned. Just then we saw a guy with a straw, battered ranchero’s hat, a sleeveless Levi jacket, and dirty khakis, holding a sign, high over his head, “Liberate Satirico! My Freedom over Your Ass!”
     The window slammed shut and Satiro flew down the stairs, mask swinging in his hand, like a madman.. He stopped at the bottom and rubbed his knees. He took off again. The guy ran up Slauson and turned on Braddock. We followed. Talker and the other guy, right behind, for backup. I tried keeping up.
     As he ran, the guy in the ranchero’s hat started yelling, “Free Satirico! Free Satirico! Libertad! Libertad!”
     Talker was faster than the rest of us, veteranos fighting to keep up. The ranchero-hat-guy had youth on his side. He jammed around the corner into an alley, between the apartment carports on Slauson and the concrete drainage canal. I had to stop to catch my breath. It was no use. We lost him.      Satiro hobbled back. “That bastard can’t even get my name right,” he said, "Keeps calling me Satirico."
     I remembered when we were kids, and I’d visit my cousins who lived in the projects. We pretended the concrete canal was a beautiful river running through the city.
     As we walked back, Satiro found the sign and picked it up. He said, more to himself than to us, "Liberate Satirico."

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Eleventh Week: Activities to do at home with our children






Read Together Texas is a Texas Book Festival initiative to connect readers of all ages with the children’s books that we love. Whether you’re looking for a family storytime, an educational resource for an at-home learning activity, or just want to introduce your child to new stories and ideas, this page has you covered! We have authors, Texas leaders, and friends of the Texas Book Festival reading their favorite children’s books. In the bottom tab, we also share resources to help make the most of the storytimes. We will be updating this page with new storytimes as we find new ways to connect to each other during this time. Happy reading!


You can find English-language Stories and Spanish-language Stories. Also, there are many additional learning resources and activities.





Free Printables

Get instant access to a wide variety of free educational resources for teachers, homeschool families, and parents. Ready to print, these free materials make it easy for you to download and use immediately! Choose from reading, language arts, math, social studies, science, and more!







A resource for families with children of different ages & areas of interest
As schools around the world close their buildings and families find themselves at home, we want to ensure that learning together continues. So we’re partnering with learning creators to bring parents & families resources and activities. These resources are not meant to replace homework assigned by teachers, but meant to complement that work.



Author and Illustrator John Parra

Coloring Pages