Archive for the Musings Category


Posted in Musings on August 29, 2009 by xxxicana

Well, Amby has been with us nearly a week now.  Balam seems to have slowly come around to accepting the little guy.  Today Mister Man found them napping together on one of the chairs.  Now that Spot has gone, Balam has taken over as senior cat and appears to be acting the part!  Amby shows proper respect, but now and then dares to chew on Balam’s tail.  Evidence of their growing relationship can be seen in this photo:


Balam is kind of like the 300 pound gorilla . . . so, one can’t blame Amby for showing a little caution.

Otherwise, Amby is a pretty good kitty.  He walked right into our home and hearts.  He loves to nap with us, he sleeps politely at the foot of the bed, and LOVES to watch TV.

watching tvWe’re keeping him away from our liquor for fear that he may be too much like us!

hey that's my perch

Amby does seem to be part parrot!

parrotToo cute!

I’ve been remiss in posting about the chickies . . . I’ll update on them soon.  They are fine and are laying eggs that are 75% full size.  Henny and Penny are getting SO big which is good.  It’s been a very cool summer which may mean we will have a cold winter.  I think the hens will keep each other warm as the temperatures dip.


Posted in Musings on August 25, 2009 by xxxicana

So, I submitted an adoption application to the Cat House (yes, that’s what they call it).  We had intially wanted to adopt a kitten named Edward since he had perfect posture.  Alas, when we went in, he was in quarantine for some virus.  Looking around we found a little guy and his sister.  The sister had just been adopted and he was so cute! Amby is his name — why, I don’t know.  He isn’t restful but rather restless.  Here’s our new little guy:

amby on the shoulderAmby loves to sit on our shoulders . . . he’ll climb up on his own.  I now have bloody tracks all along my back from him climbing up!

car and amby

Balam is non-plussed . . . well, actually he’s a little hostile.  He took over Amby’s blankie

balam on mat

Amby doesn’t let it go down without a fight

kitten in a bag

Amby likes to hide in the bag and then jump out!

touching nosesBecoming familiar

AmbyMy little guy.  He loves to nap with me and slept at the foot of the bed.  I think he’ll do!

A sorrowful parting with our cat Spot

Posted in Musings on August 14, 2009 by xxxicana

Yesterday our cat, Spot, passed through the barrier between this and the nether worlds.  Unfortunately, Spot had chronic liver malfunction due to his advanced age (15 years).  I was lucky to be Spot’s adopted mother for about 7 years — but many people loved and cared for Spot over the course of his long life.  Spot’s “real” mom, my sister Shelly and her family are surely missing their little cat.  Larisa, Tom, my parents, and many friends and neighbors all cared for this naughty whiny cat . . . he had a way of endearing himself to everyone.  Here are a few pictures of Spot:


Our last hours together, Spot and I spent snuggling in my chair.

spot and balamspot and balam2

We caught the kitties in this playful pose last week.

spot in his chair

Tom and I miss our little weasle cat so much.

Dear Spot, Rest in Peace

Why Nebraska’s state motto is “The Good Life”

Posted in Musings with tags , , on June 19, 2009 by xxxicana

Lincoln has a minor league baseball team — The Salt Dogs.  Mister Man and I venture out a couple of times each season to watch –ALWAYS on a Wednesday.  Why?  Because Wednesdays are Wiener Dog Race nights.


Not only does Nebraska have the second lowest rate of unemployment in the nation, but we have really exciting events to please the crowds!  Here’s a local newsman’s coverage of the Wiener Dog races . . . wait for it . . . race is at the end of the video.

ps:  photo of weiner dog flagrantly copied from

David Carradine, R.I.P.

Posted in Musings with tags , on June 5, 2009 by xxxicana

word_kung_fu Today I mourn the loss of another pop icon, David Carradine.   Of course, he was best known for his portrayal of Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series Kung Fu and later as Bill in Tarantino’s Kill Bill flicks.

Ok, call me hokey, but I grew up watching Kung Fu and was really into it.  Tarantino was totally into it as well — after all in Pulp Fiction, Jules decides to leave his hitman lifestyle to “walk the earth. . . like Caine from “Kung Fu.”

Yeah, Kwai Chang Caine was one bad motherfucker — just walking the road, meetin’ people, playing his new age-y flute, and dispensing mono-syllabic bits of cracked wisdom.  I ATE IT UP!  [personal confession, I trained for a very short time at a Shaolin Kung Fu dojo a few years back].

I know, I know, this kind of show was guilty of stereotyping Asian peoples . . . but I think it also provide generic US society with a model for conflict resolution that fit the times.

Lessons from Kung Fu:

1.  Be in the here and now.

2.  Do not initiate violence, and avoid it if possible.

3.  If all else fails, whale on their asses with fancy roundhouse kicks.

4.  Perseverance matters — sometimes you have to sit in the rain for a long time to prove your worthiness.

I am relieved that Carradine’s death may have been accidental; an auto-erotic session gone bad.  Hey, the guy was 72 years old!  He survived some real hard living and every moment of it was etched into his face.  I gotta respect a guy that could still be into kinky sex in his 70s . . . but CANNOT fathom suicide.  Oh, it’s just my Catholic upbringing . . . suicide is the only sin that cannot be forgiven.  But it is also philosophical.  Except in really extenuating circumstances [terminal, painful illness], I reject suicide as cheating and the ultimate selfish act.  Yes, I realize that there are some that would disagree with me . . . including the Sylvia Plath fan club.  But that’s how I see it.

So, David Carradine, thanks for the many years of cheesy “oriental[ist]” performances.  May you find a beautifully illustrated copy of the Kama Sutra in your next plane of existence.

Mindfulness on Monday

Posted in Musings on May 11, 2009 by xxxicana

I have been reading the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh and others on mindfulness and tried to practice mindful walking and eating this morning.  It is a lot harder and easier than I thought it would be.  Mindfulness is the practice of being fully conscious in the present moment (see “A Mindful Way: Eight Weeks to Happiness” by Jeanie Seward-Magee).  I went for my morning “constitutional” — a one hour brisk walk and tried to free my mind from any thoughts other than observing the flora and fauna along my way.  What a beautiful day; bright, sunny, pleasantly warm, and fresh.  I saw and was cheered by numerous birds: sparrows, house finches, grackles, mourning doves, pigeons, robins, and even a red winged blackbird (the first I’ve seen in the city).    Here’s a photo I snatched from the blackbird_LillianStokesI also saw a baby bunny (they abound at this time of the year), a new foal at the zoo, and a pitch black squirrel that looks just like Ek Balam! As I walked along the path I saw so many flowers — many weeds, bushes, and trees in bloom.  I tried to walk in wonder of it all.  I got in my full work-out and felt so refreshed in mind and spirit.  I ate my breakfast afterward in a semi-mindful manner.  This is REALLY hard for me.  Since I was a kid I have always liked to read while eating — even if was just the cereal box.  Mindfulness prods us to savor each morsel — to feel the texture, note the aromas, and enjoy the taste.  Mindful eating prompts us to appreciate where our food comes from and to give recognition to the people that work the land to provide us with our meals.  I will say that my strawberries were especially tasty with chopped mint and stevia from my garden.

Kiva – a microlending institution

Posted in Musings on May 1, 2009 by xxxicana

One of the great things about having a good job in an area with a low cost of living is that I have a bit of discretionary income.  Money is not of great value if it not put to good use  . . . and there’s only so much space in my closet for shoes!  Anyway, I finally made a contribution to Kiva.  This is a great organization that lends small amounts  of money to people in poor and developing areas that would not otherwise have access to credit from major lenders.   The funds are used as start up capital for small business, home construction, etc.  I made a very modest loan of $25.00 to a woman in Bolivia to help her embroidery business.  Here’s her photo:


It feels good to support a woman that makes beautiful textiles to support her family.  As a fellow embroiderer, I have decided to support small scale textile artisans.  You can check out Kiva’s website, click here.

Of course, there are many deserving organizations that need our support.  In our increasingly globalizing world and through Al Gore’s great invention of the internet (LOL), we can make a difference.  Someone recently told me that as one single individual, they couldn’t really affect any change on the world.  Call me deluded, but I do believe in the Power  of One — every communal effort must start out with one individual deciding to engage.

Nebraska – The Good Life

Posted in Musings on April 8, 2009 by xxxicana

Ok, I’m back from sunny Southern California . . . and while I was away my daffodils popped up, the chives are 3″ high, and sorrel leaves emerged (but froze the other night).  What a difference a few days make!  It was great to be back in SoCal.  I spent time with my parents, sister, and nephews [note to mom  & dad:  kill that Tickle me Elmo or face the consequences].


As frequent readers know, I was away for the National Association for Ethnic Studies conference held in San Diego.  No hatin’ on me, porfavor . . . I didn’t get out of the hotel except once for lunch.  Yep, that right . . . all the way to San Diego and all I really saw was the freeway from my hotel window.  But, I did connect with the NAES peeps and met many new people.  I especially enjoyed meeting some pretty fantastic undergraduate students.  I also learned something important.  Flattery is the best way to get someone to do something . . . I signed on as the Conference Program Chair for the next conference.

On another note, while I was away, I received notification that a project I applied for with a stellar undergraduate student was approved!!  Miss Misam Ali will be working with me to learn research skills on the topic of “Race and Ethnicity in New Media.”  I’m super happy since Misam is a hoot!

TGIF, I think.

Posted in Musings on March 27, 2009 by xxxicana

Phew, I stayed up really late last night putting the final touches to the National Association for Ethnic Studise (NAES) conference program — the conference starts next Thursday!!!  Talk about cutting it down to the wire.  It has been a great experience working on the conference.  I never really appreciated all the hard work that goes into event planning — and our conference is pretty small.  I can’t even imagine the kind of work that goes into a conference with +2000 papers.  At any rate, I don’t even attend large conferences anymore.  I feel too adrift in a sea of people that constantly do the name tag scan (quick firtive look to your tag to see if you rank high enough to speak to . . .  and then they ditch you the moment someone higher on the food chain comes along).  I love NAES — first it is great to work with a group of like minded people committed to social justice, transformative pedagogy, and increasing diversity in academia.  It’s also a hoot to hang with so many other peeps of color and enjoy the freedom of letting our hair down.

I stayed up late last night also to read a manuscript that my colleague and cuate Joy Castro wrote for an edited volume on Latina Motherhood.  She is so not like me in many respects — calm, reserved, quiet, kind, tenured  — ok, I’m kind too.  But I’m loud, spazzy, opinionated, and not tenure.  Yet we click on a number of levels that provide relief and those lightbulb moments of “you, too?”.   Anyway, her article focusses on waking up one day as an empty nester and trying to figure out what to do with all that maternalism.  It was great to read how she has turned her maternal focus into more of a sisterly focus and how she is enjoying the opportunities to be found in Lincoln.

Tomorrow I am attending the History Graduate Student Symposium to offer commentary on a trio of papers.  The paper topics are pretty darn interesting:  La Virgen de Guadalupe, Tourist Imaginings of Eastern Europe, and Sex in the Ancient Greek City (ooh, lots of images of gay sex!).  Now, unfortunately, many profs don’t really enjoy graduate students all that much (I had one prof that REFUSED to work with grads).  But, often times, the cutting edge ideas come from these young researchers that haven’t been jaded by over work or whipped into dogged submission by the tenure process.  They have the (relative) freedom to play with ideas and see where they lead.  But, between now and then, I have to sythesize these three disparate papers!!  Hope I can pull this together!

So, for the moment, I’ll sign off — gotta get ready for work.  TTFN.

Guilted by a Crypto Catholic

Posted in Musings on March 23, 2009 by xxxicana

You know it’s gonna be one of those days when a tsunami of guilt slams into you — totally unexpected with no prior warning.  I received an email this morning from a friend that I now suspect of being a Crypto Catholic — the guilt was laid on so thick that it stuck to the roof of my mouth.  I will now spend a few cyber moments prostrate before the Virgin of Perpetual Guilt (thanks to Fred for inventing her) and ask for guidance.


On a more sorrowful note, condolences and my greatest sympathies go out to the West-Carranzas who are shedding many tears for little Mango who unfortunately flew on to a higher plane of existence this weekend.   Mango is sure to be in bird heaven . . .