NEW POSTS?

Yeah... so I stopped posting here again. I have been posting on two other family+friends blogs, and for those close to me, you are welcome to check them out here The Placi+plus Blog , and also The NewNeeNews Blog


Clover on my heart

Clover, resting her head on my chest
"I hear you heart, the heart man. He is dancing, just like Daddy's."
She gets up and starts marching on the couch.
"I hear him making music. He is going 'boom! boom! boom!' "

Asher on his classmates

I asked Asher what he thought of the kids in his class.

"Yeah, I like them. I just wish they all had different personalities."

More on That, Sorry, here it comes

OK. So I've posted (then removed) some emails. Kind of lame thing to do. They're even poorly written so it's also a bit embarrassing to say the least. I just wanted to lay it all out and now address what has got my goat.

I've been used. I've been misled. I've been scared into decisions. I've been presented only opinion and commentary on issues without hearing one real fact on the issue in question. I've accepted what others have told me without further investigation or hearing the other side out.

This has all happened to me before and it will unfortunately happen again. I am aware of it now and I try to take a proactive approach to fight off being the victim of my own ignorance.

"I think you are reading into what was being said"

My response...
"I am reading into what he is saying. That is exactly what I am asking you to do. Read into the opinions that are being presented to you. Learn more. Investigate claims. Follow arguments to their logical conclusions. Question presuppositions. Do not be passive as others present their opinions to you and their commentaries on issues, all the while not sharing with you the texts and history of the facts they are commenting on. Investigate the issues they present and are so passionate about. If they are serious issues, than we ought to take the time to investigate more to form our opinion as we strive to see the entire picture."

I have received many emails that have appalled me. Emails that leave their readers writhing with annoyance and anger against immigrants, in fear of Muslims, with utter disdain for the Left and their crazy Socialist tendencies. It disturbs me so because rather than inform they stir up. Rather than move people to action they build walls and make enemies of our neighbors. It works. We are urged to "Please Pray" because it works.

Yes, they disturb me so because I know that they work and readers are being stirred up. But what most disturbs me is when I start to question why. What are the motives of the crafters of these email forwards and article writers? When I lay it all out and look at the facts, the content of the emails, the repercussions that follow for many of the readers, the apparent motives of the authors disturb me so deeply that at times I just want to walk away and pretend I never realized the abuse in the first place.

May Day

It's May Day and marchers are united in solidarity for labor and immigrant rights at the bottom of our hill.

Is Asher flipping the bird to those marchers? Apparently he doesn't appreciate Sunset being closed down for the parade. 

Aunt Katina


Aunt Katina is in town and we visited Echo Park lake with loaves of TJ DD bread to share with the birds.  Before relocating to this area seen above, we were attacked my mobs of seagulls, pigeons, geese, and ducks in a heavily bird populated area of the park.We made a trip to a local bakery for some treats to enjoy at the park. Katina later took us all out to eat at a great local restaurant, Masa, where we ate an insane amount of pizza. Insane. I think the wait staff was talking about us in the back. 

Later that night, Aaron, Aunt Katina, and I all tried to pry some answers out of Asher about the day. He wasn't very forthcoming to say the least. He didn't have a story to tell his dad about the big day at the park. 

Katina, "What was your most favorite part of the day?" 
Asher, "Cuddling in bed with my mom this morning." 

However, much to our surprise, when we returned back home that evening, Rashad, Adam's roommate was heading out, and Asher stopped him on his way to his car to give him a complete play by play of the entire day.  

"And I met a kids who was a bully to his own brother!" (Asher played on the play ground with two boys, the older one kicked the younger in the head at one point when he got in he way.) Rashad, edging down the driveway, "That's great! Wow. Ok, I gotta go."  Asher, emphatically, "I'll tell you more later!"

That kid.


Ballerina

ballet
Asher dressed up his bear as a ballerina the other day. He pulled out his navy tights to
dress up as well. I gave him tips on what a guy dancer might wear. He told me that he was starting to think that it would be much funnier if he dressed up like a girl and then went over and surprised Adam and Aaron who were working next store. I tried to talk him into dressing like a boy so I could send a picture to Anika. He agreed that it was a good idea.

Moments later, I was next store with the boys when in walked Asher in a pink tutu and leotard. "Changed you mind?" I asked.

His response, much to the surprise of Aaron and Adam who were unaware of our previous conversation, "I don't want to be a boy!!!!"

He later changed into what he thought made the perfect boy dancer costume and posed for pictures for Anika.

asherdancer1dancer2

Jessica


I just discovered Jessica's blog where she has posts about our time in Ethiopia. I miss Jessica and I wish she lived closer!!

Camping


Great weekend camping with friends in Oxnard/Ventura near the beach. Not your hiking all day kind of camping. More like your hanging out, eating tons of great food and drinking beer kind of camping. 4 of us girls the first night. 11 more joined us on Saturday. It was great. Best night of sleep Saturday in a hammock under the stars.

Aaron's sick. Slept all day. Doubt it's the Flu. Probably stress induced.

I got a great idea last night while my attention drifted during a lecture. Even more clarity followed soon after while listening to my friends sing. It brought me peace. It made me cry. It made me smile. It made me grateful.

TB patient

video
Here is a video featuring John, Jana, and Temesgan ("Tom" translating) with a young patient in the clinic in Assosa. It's a little snapshot of working in the clinic.

YOU'RE MAKING ME TROUBLE!

Had some breakthroughs with the editing today. That's a good thing.

Took the kids to sports class, the two fussy, stomping their feet(Asher), laying on the ground(Clover), kids. After walking all the way to the baseball diamond, had to walk all the way back to the car to drive home for some time-out-time.

Stopped my ever advancing work to make a dinner that nobody wanted to eat. Hmp.

I cannot stomach watching footage from one day in particular. Handing out crayons, coloring paper, and plastic rings to boys and girls. It all seems so cheap. Two crayons, one piece of paper, and a compass ring that doesn't work. Seeing them lined up and wanting, wanting something but given not much at all. I can't write more. Right now I hate it and that's all I can say.

I hate being behind the camera. I hate being at a distance. I hate not talking to the people I'm watching. Sometimes it feels cheap and horrible.

Sometimes. Not all the time. Sometimes.

Sometimes it's wonderful and it's all I want to do.

Conversation

me: How often would you like to go camping, Asher?
Asher: Every six minutes.
Aaron: That may not be too far off if the Economy continues at this rate.
I briefly try to explain what the economy is to Asher.
Asher: This happened before, where there were only a few people who had houses and lots of people who didn't, but then it changed and more people had houses, but now it may go back to only some people having houses.
me: What?
Asher: Back when only a little bit of people had houses, during the Great Compression... and now there may be another Compression.

oh, my Asher.

Asher, the world famous camper.

For Asher's 5th birthday he received, with much excitement, a sleeping bag, animal tracking book, emergency kit, including a pocket knife, whistle and compass, and some other hiking/camping gear that has now fallen from my memory. Then the poor boy had to wait ten months to finally use the cool gear on his first father son camping trip, which took place this week.

Sometimes Asher introduces himself to people as a toy maker, as in, "Hi. My name is Asher and I'm a toy maker." Other times, he's been known to boast of unique characteristics that set him apart from others, such as his ability to go without sleep for what may amount to years in his young life. But on most occasions, if you ask Asher what he wants to be when he grows up, he will answer, "A famous camper."

I should admit that my early reactions were to tell him that most people who make it in the news for their camping exploits are normally those unlucky fellows who die unfortunate deaths while out in the wild. To my defense, this first discussion coincidentally occurred around the time the the wreckage of James Fossett's private plane was discovered. (For my prosecution,of course, Fossett was flying a private plane, not camping, and although being a famous adventurer, I think a good deal of his fame is linked to the fact that he is a billionaire, so really, it is likely obvious to everyone that I was making a stupid argument, and more importantly and more stupidly making an argument against a little boys dream.)

Ok, now that I've established that I can be a moron, let me say that I do encourage Asher's dream and take him hiking often, and we have introduced him to the TV show Survivorman to spur on his passion and let him know it is possible.

Oh yes, and one more thing. One of the reasons that it took the boys so long to take their trip, besides cold weather and the usual work and procrastination, took place shortly after his birthday when Aaron introduced Asher to the mystery that is the North American Big Foot. Aaron was streaming some doc on the subject while working on the computer, and Asher was quickly drawn into the movie. He was full of questions after the experience. "What do YOU think? Do you think it's just a man dressed up, or do YOU think he's REAL?", types of questions. It wasn't until Harry and the Hendersons stepped in that Asher was confident enough to venture that far into the wild.

And speaking of Harry, yes, for those of you who witnessed Clover at Christmas, opening her very own copy of her beloved movie, she still is quoting him and George to this day.

Daniela


My friend, Daniela, is currently living in the West Bank. I just read a letter she wrote that I wanted to share.

Clover

Having some fun with Clover.

Taka

We joke that Taka is the self appointed mayor of Asosa. He seems to know everyone. "My name means 'instead'," he tells me. "I had an older brother. He died and then I was born."I heard stories of Taka before arriving in Asosa. I heard about his motorcycle. I hoped I'd get a chance to ride with him, and I finally did.


Taka's 17 year old son, Nate, was with us all week, helping where ever we went. So calm and quiet, Delphine joked about the contrast between Taka and his kids. I met his daughter towards the end of the week. "My name is Mary. I love you." What an introduction. I've joked about taking that as my standard introduction, but I think I'll instead use something Taka himself once said to me, while interrupting a story I was trying to tell at the dinner table. "You are my sister. I am your brother. You live in one country. I live in another. We have the same Father. You are my sister. I love you. Do you love me?" He then threw his head back and let out a roar of laughter. He is amazing.

I was trying to tell Jess about the surprise personal tour of Asosa I managed to get myself into earlier that day (more to that later), and Taka kept interrupting in the most amazing ways. "Listen. I'll sing an Arabic song to you." He began to sing a beautiful song, and I tried to sing along. I wish I had recorded it. I retold this to one of the interpreters later in the trip, who was quick to dismiss it. "He doesn't know Arabic. He was probably making it up." Even better.

Solomon

I'm editing right now, and the words of Solomon play over and over in my head. He's telling me a story of a boy he knows. The boy is an orphan with 5 siblings. He showed Solomon his diary one day. In it, he wrote to God asking to die. He wrote "If you kill me, at least my brothers and sisters will have food for three days." He knew that if he died the neighbors would bring food for his siblings for three days, as it is the custom in Ethiopia. In my camera, Solomon continues, "We are not asking to die... we are not asking you to give your life just like this boy. But we are asking you, if you are professionals, to invest your time, or whatever you have... to help these poor people."

His words stay with me as I edit. I want to listen to them everyday to keep my focus on him and the kids he visits in the hospital and helps feed.Solomon serves up kids at Jaja, one of his feeding program locations. (More on this to come.)


back to work?!

This past week has been a busy one. I was working on a pilot that Adam and his friend Ryan wrote. I shot b camera. Under most circumstances I would have been thrilled to shoot with Aaron and these guys, but when Aaron asked me when I had returned from my trip, I was somewhat reluctant because I was really excited to be back and ready to get to work with my Ethiopia footage, and some other related projects as well. We had fun all last week, but I am glad that it's over and I can turn my attention to other things.

Another wonderful thing about last week was that Aaron's sister Grace flew out and stayed with us. It was great timing because she was able to watch the kids while I worked, and horrible timing because she had to watch the kids while I worked. Good news is we were able to get her another ticket so she could extend her visit for another week and we could all spend more time together, enjoying each other and LA! We went to the La Brea Tar pits yesterday, and we may be going to Venice beach tomorrow and the Getty Villa Museum.

Tonight Grace went out with Adam and his friends and we had dinner with some of our friends that I hadn't seen in almost a month. I was able to share about my trip, and almost lost it a little when I started to talk about how much I missed the people that I met. I really do miss everyone and wish that at least the people from our CA team lived a little closer.

Must go now, as the kids are in bed and I need some much needed down time with Aaron before he goes out to Trader Joe's with Micah. (...and by down time I mean catch up on LOST. How lame and I?)

Clover for the day: "You're making me trouble!"
Asher for the day: "I don't really need sleep. This is something that I'm proud of. I'm not like an ordinary person. I'm more like a super person." I wish I could remember this verbatim because it was ten times better, I assure you.

Annee highlight for the day: Visiting three different thrift stores in search of the perfect bow tie for/with Asher. At Goodwill a 10 year old boy wearing an extremely tight t-shirt tucked into his extremely tight pants stopped us as we rummaged through a box filled with belts, shoes and ties. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, we are looking for a bow tie."
"There aren't any in there. They are back against that wall."
"Which wall exactly?"
"Over t here. Oh yes. I'm thinking of Out of The Closet (another thrift store). They have them there."
He was amazing. Out of The Closet was out of bow ties. We did find them at American Vintage, although they were all the wrong colors. The search continues.

Friday Night Lights, yes, you heard me

This post was really supposed to be about something else, something seemingly more important, but I just finished watching Friday Night Lights online, and I am telling you, it is so very good, I just love it. It gets me every time. If you've never seen it, you're in luck, because NBC has all three seasons available for streaming. I suggest you start 4 episodes into the first season. The current season three is great. I love how it's shot and edited, and the soundtrack is perfect. The characters and storylines are wonderful and consistent, which is one thing I can no longer say about Battlestar Galactica... man, that show became a disaster at the end. I haven't even watched the final episodes because it became too painful for me. 

If NBC is blocked in Greece, Aims, I hope you can find another way to watch.


Some pictures finally up!

I have been working all night and so far I only have pictures from our first 2 or 3 days up. Feel free to check them out here.

They chronicle some of our time spent in Addis Ababa, where we prepared for our trip to Assosa by shopping for food and supplies. We stayed at the Axum Hotel, not too shabby, although we traveled to the Hilton to eat amazing food for a few lunches. We also ate at the Sheraton on our last night in Addis. I was not expecting to eat such great food. Too much. My stomach was not happy.

What else did we do in Addis? Visit churches! Doctors Giving Back was teamed up with another group from Colorado, called Touching Africa, made up of a pastor, Mike, (preached at churches during our time), his wife Anne (took care of feeding us in Assosa), their daughter, Tiffany (worked in the medical clinics and put on puppet shows for the children, their friend, Alice, (prayed with people at the medical clinics). Belizza, a sweet young singer who is very well known in Ethiopia was also apart of the group and she performed in the evenings during their services. Dan, a business man from Livermore who has been to Assosa 2 other times was apart of the medical team, but he also spoke at some of the churches. (I'll write more on my thoughts and feelings concerning this aspect of the trip when I have more time.)

Ethiopia

axum-hotelroom-bags
No room to stand as 15 giant hockey bags filled with meds, toys, and shoes piled high in my hotel room at the Axum Hotel in Addis Ababa. We spent 5 days in Addis. The city was overflowing with out of work Ethiopians who fled their villages in hopes of a better life. People flock to our vans asking for food and money, children running after us as our van drives off into the crazy streets. Although I enjoyed my time with our van drivers, interpreters, and the children Imet, the people in the streets and their disapproving glares at me and my camera had me anxious for our plane to Asosa.

jerusalemWe set up the clinic on our first day in Asosa in a small building on the grounds of a Full Gospel Church. Then we were off to the Asosa Hospital for a tour. The Asosa Hospital, the only hospital around to serve the needs of roughly 1 million people in the region, runs on an annual budget of $64,000. Broken syringes scattered on the floor, rust stained walls, shattered windows, and pipes that no longer deliver water; the perfect location for a horror movie. We spent four nights at the hospital scrubbing the walls and applying "broken white #217" paint to 11 rooms. Two woman died in the hospital, along with their babies the previous week due to the lack of a doctor and resources to perform safe c-sections. John was painting with us on the third night. He hadn't performed a c-section in 15 years, but with no other option, as the rest of us returned to The Bamboo Paradise Hotel, after a long day of clinics and painting, John and his wife, nurse and founder of Doctor's Giving back, Jana, stayed behind and performed a successful c-section. It was Jana's birthday, and she thanked John for the best birthday present she'd ever received.