Sunday, September 26, 2010

Something touching as I listen to "Soul Music" on KUSC 91.5 FM

From, one of my favorite sites:

Friends Departed

They are all gone into the world of light!
And I alone sit ling'ring here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
And my sad thoughts doth clear.

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,
Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest
After the sun's remove.

I see them walking in an air of glory,
Whose light doth trample on my days:
My days, which are at best but dull and hoary,
Mere glimmering and decays.

O holy Hope! and high Humility,
High as the heavens above!
These are your walks, and you have show'd them me,
To kindle my cold love.

Dear, beauteous Death! the jewel of the Just,
Shining nowhere, but in the dark;
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust,
Could man outlook that mark!

He that hath found some fledg'd bird's nest may know,
At first sight, if the bird be flown;
But what fair well or grove he sings in now,
That is to him unknown.

And yet as Angels in some brighter dreams
Call to the soul, when man doth sleep:
So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes,
And into glory peep.

If a star were confin'd into a tomb,
Her captive flames must needs burn there;
But when the hand that lock'd her up gives room,
She'll shine through all the sphere.

O Father of eternal life, and all
Created glories under Thee!
Resume Thy spirit from this world of thrall
Into true liberty.

Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill
My perspective still as they pass:
Or else remove me hence unto that hill,
Where I shall need no glass.

Henry Vaughan

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wisdom of the "Common Man"

Are we perhaps returning to the days of the troubadours? Many of us in the "love generation" of the Sixties were laughed at when that decade waned into the brash mega-materialism of the Eighties and Nineties. Maybe our day, and philosophies, have come around again. Click on the link below.

We NEED to see more messages like this on the web. Watch, listen, enjoy, and take to heart:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to Small

Right now, I think we're in the "Little Engine That Could" mode. We're SO weary of the uncertainty that the Great Recession has bred, and looking around desperately to see even the faintest signs of recovery.

I know I do. Every time I see a real estate sign on a lawn, and a "SOLD" or "IN ESCROW" has appeared on top, I give a little cheer. Then, going down into the commercial district, as I see small storefronts with "closing" banners, even though I don't know these enterprises or their owners, I feel a sadness. This wasn't just the folding of a business, it was the relinquishing of a dream. And yes, the closing of corporations like Circuit City or Mervyn's is disturbing, what with the adding to unemployment rolls and all, but it's the little deaths that pain me even more. I envision the person who rented the space, invested in inventory, took out credit card debt for advertising and promotions...whether the company lasted a month or many decades (such as Kessler's Jewelers in Burbank), its closing diminishes a community. True, there are venerable businesses that ostensibly close for lack of a young generation to carry it on, but you can't tell me that our current pains don't also have a bearing on the decision.

Didn't even the mega-corporations (like the fast-food chains or computer companies) start with someone's mullings over a kitchen table, or in a garage? It has been the "little" ventures on which our country was founded and has evolved. Capitalism and competition are not dirty words.

There needs to be return a genuine work ethic. "Get rich quick" was not always in our mindset, and the fears of "being poor" have led to average people falling for scams. Can't we each look in our email boxes each day, and see questionable offers for making $$$$$$ per day or week? These offers have always been around, but it seems like they're proliferating--to pander to people's fears and desires to try to carve out some control and security.

I LIKE independent stores. Going up and down Magnolia Boulevard through Burbank, North Hollywood, and Van Nuys, it's almost a way of getting a read on the character of a neighborhood. The last few years have seen more and more store fronts putting their wares outside onto the sidewalk. It actually lends charm, I think, to what used to be a buttoned-down area. We've taken on an open-air bazaar atmosphere, much more inviting.

There is much press about big-corporate bailouts by the government. I'd like the private sector to begin problem-solving how we "little people" can quit waiting for "things to get better," and push things along with hard work, optimism, and creativity. It's happened before in our history. Why not again?

Something I found this AM...just something to keep in mind for us or those we love

Many of us from the Sixties dabbled in pot, booze, acid, etc., etc. And then we stopped when we "grew up." Or did we? May we were "clean" as kids, and then the midlife work and family stressors got to us...

Alcoholism Among Boomers

Curbing alcohol misuse in the elderly.(PREVENTION IN ACTION): An article from: Clinical Psychiatry News

Substance abuse in the elderly a growing issue.(GERIATRICS): An article from: Internal Medicine News

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Los Angeles County child welfare official falsified death reports, two employees claim -

OR: "Where is Charles Dickins When You Need Him?"

It's been nearly ten years since I left my position at a local (now closed) foster family agency, to take the next steps on my career path. We case managers were continually feeling the pressure to "place children," and monitor the situations in the foster homes. Our weekly visits were ostensibly to oversee the safe and proper care of these minors, and to ensure that the orders of the Juvenile Court judges and County Social Workers (CSW's) in the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) were followed. Implicitly, however, we were charged with doing whatever possible to make sure that the placements didn't "fall apart," which would ultimately mean lost revenue for the foster parents and our agency.

Bottom line -- many foster children are still not safe in this country. Being minors, they are represented by social workers, attorneys, judges, AND foster parents--the best of whom may be good-hearted, but poorly trained in the psychological processes of traumatized children, and also very overwhelmed. On the other end of the spectrum, I encountered all too many who thought of foster care as purely a business, or the children as an inconvenience. One man called me up on my duty day, and said, "Hey, I hear you pay people to take in kids? How much?" When I stated that it depended upon the the age(s) and number(s) of children that could be placed with him, and his successful completion of our orientation program, this man hastily said, "Yeah, I'll get back to you." We also fielded calls such as the frazzled mom who wanted us to "take my ungrateful daughter and teach her a lesson," and the couple who wanted placement so they could go on a cruise for their anniversary.

Then, after what would seem to be good matches and smooth placements, I would often get middle-of-the-night pages from foster parents, demanding to "PICK THESE KIDS UP RIGHT NOW!" The misdeeds? "They're going to the bathroom too much," "They're not staying in their rooms--can't I just lock them in," "There's too much sibling rivalry; my own kids never fought like this," "He's using the f-word at our dinner table. This is a Christian home!" And those are the tamer calls I got. I would be on the phone, trying to bring myself out of my sleep, giving these foster parents a crash Child Psychology 101 course, and begging them to please wait till I got there first thing in the morning and not do anything rash. Then I would be at the home, as promised, trying to get them to see that these were damaged, traumatized little ones. Despite whatever horrific situations existed with their biological families, it was what was familiar to them. In their minds, all the kids had to do was act up, and they would magically go back to whatever home they had. To expect them to sit with hands folded and be grateful little cherubs was too much of a stretch for them. Sometimes I got the message across--and too often not. In the latter case, I would sigh, call the CSW, and the disruptive process would begin yet again for the children.

And then there were the biological family members. A tiny handful would comply with the court mandates and get their kids back, and it was happily ever after. Others, however, would promise to visit--and wouldn't show up, leaving the kids to be crying, disappointed, and prone to acting out when I took them back to the foster homes. Or worse, there would be those who would spend what was supposed to be time with their children, ranting to me about the injustices of the "system," and that they had "RIGHTS."

Returning to the earlier bottom-line reference: children ARE inconvenient. They need lots of care--from either biological family, or others who can do the job appropriately. As long as this basic human need exists, there will be a need for a social system like DCFS. Please don't misunderstand--my agency did have wonderful foster parents, ones who realized the true nature and enormous responsibility that is foster care. There were also terrific CSW's, and they were prepared to suck it up and handle the hectic, heavy caseloads assigned to them. But until we stop just paying lip-service to family values, patch up the holes in our social safety net, and truly value our children, tragic oversights of the DCFS system will be perpetuated.

Los Angeles County child welfare official falsified death reports, two employees claim -

Monday, September 6, 2010

Beware the desire for a "savior"

Another thing that has been on my mind. Tough times spawn fear,emotional rhetoric, and the desire to get problems fixed--yesterday if possible.

I don't want my blog to become heavy with polemics, but perhaps wherever there lies desire for change, there is a political concern. Just as a generation ago, we women would defensively say, "I'm not a feminist, but..." now people sheepishly admit to their own leanings.

Okay, go ahead and be conservative...or liberal...or whatever. Just don't be sheep. I've seen the videos of the Palin-Beck rally, and now fast-forward through the repetitive onslaught of election TV spots. Regardless of who you voted for in the last presidential election, all I hope is that you didn't do it with the hope that the winner would miraculously save us from years of collective missteps. In the almost two years since the last big crusade (conducted with an almost spiritual zeal), there has been much second-guessing and disappointment.

I think it was inevitable that (given our human nature), whoever "won" the election was going to be set up--first as a rescuing hero, and then as a scapegoat. The political pendulum, as I see it, is being swung more by desperation than by pragmatism. A week or so ago, when I was contemplating this post, I thought that we were in the throes of a 1960's-like division, but now I'm concerned that we're more leaning toward a herd mentality. With divisiveness there remains spirited debate, a check-and-balance; in the thunder of a frightened mass, voices often fall silent. Silence can then engender apathy, and even despair. With lack of knowledge and ideas, a nation is prime for extremists to step in and do its thinking for it. THAT is what frightens me, not Obama-versus-the-GOP.

Our country, and our world, cannot afford the luxury of hopelessness. I noted that the recent 90th anniversary of the passage of women's right to vote got very understated press. Perhaps--at least I hope so--a bigger deal was made of it in the schools. We need an informed and involved populace, and it begins with our youngest citizens, our schoolchildren. I'd like to see publications like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the New York Times become standard classroom required reading for students AND teachers.

Years ago, when I worked in a boys' group home, I was saddened to hear the residents shrug and say things like, "Oh, well, what difference does it make? My life, and the world is f***** up, and it won't change. You grown-ups don't care." Those boys are now in their late twenties, and I wonder just how their statements have been validated. Or if we can each take an active role, and help try to alter the course of OUR history.

Why we need Betty White -- and Beth Weems Pirtle

At 88, she's achieved what we all envy -- yet another chance to be reinvented. Damn, I think this broad is a cat reincarnated, and only on maybe her third or fourth of the nine allotted lives!

When I first saw Betty as Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," her fierce brand of femininity was lost on me. At the time, I was a square-peg young lady trying desperately to fit into a very smoothly-rounded life, one with which I was unhappy, but told that I "should be" content. I was engaged to a "nice boy," and had a "nice job," and didn't want to admit how confining "nice" felt. Still, watching Sue Ann's antics was a guilty pleasure, by which I could vicariously tap into my inner bitch. She symbolized all the women friends who had betrayed me, and was a female I loved to hate. Still, I admired her acting out the same sexual boldness that men always had displayed with impunity. Her Rose Nyland role on "Golden Girls" showed us more of the same, this time with a little more ladylike fluff.

The context of Betty's life, which includes her long-time marriage to Allan Ludden, and her public animal-welfare interest, has diversified her public image and saved her from becoming a one-dimensional "dirty-old-lady" caricature.

With us boomers aging, thank goodness the concept of the "senior years" is being redefined by people like Betty. She is everywhere now again--commercials, TV (how about that SNL performance?), and the big screen. The sharply-timed wit puts Sue Ann's witticisms to shame. Such comments from a 33-year-old would elicit shrugs, but from Betty, they draw cheers. At a time when we think we may be past the need for an empowering role model, along comes Betty.

And then there's the 74-year-old beauty queen Beth Weems Pirtle. Funny, with the ebbing popularity of "Miss America," the news of Pirtle's success was just a little footnote. How regrettable, and why is that, anyway? Might it serve to remind us of our still-ambivalent view of seniors, especially women? If we take glamour for granted in a twenty-year-old girl, why then not celebrate it in an senior, who certainly reflects more life experience in every curve AND age-acquired line in her face. Again, we have another role model, one who defies the "old bag" inevitability.

As I continue my own journey toward 74, and then 88, I know people like Betty and Beth will be among my inspirations. Gray hair? Creases? An ache or two? Bring 'em on! Men have integrated the "distinguished" look into their aging process sucessfully, so it's up to us to do the same.