i♥minimalism

27 Mar

This morning while scrolling through the usual headlines, I came upon a sweet surprise:  Christina Aguilera bare-faced and more beautiful than ever.  Now hang on here, don’t get lost in the new window just yet.  Come back!  Let’s chat for a sec about minimalism as an artform.  Speaking again as if to my grandkids, allow me to provide a quick snapshot in answer to, first of all the question:  what is minimalism?1996-02-10_wm-1024x351

That is one illustrious example.  Here is a poetic example from my favorite poet of all time, whom I lovingly refer to as Papa Cummings.

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valentine-by-oliver-simonsen.jpgLast but not least today, here is a very romantic example from my very own hunnybear, whose expressions are a treasure far more valuable than a thing that can be bought at Tiffany’s.

This concludes your lesson in the art of minimalism.  Now go and check out Christina’s new look.  I hope you love it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gramma Carmels

Carma is an American poet and author, publishing a variety of ebooks under her maiden name, C.Y. Dillon, and under Carma Chan to honor her Chinese stepdad. Her grandkids call her Gramma Carmels.

 

 

 

The Magic of Art as Stress Relief

25 Mar

What is ‘Art’?

I can’t answer that with a wordy definition.  I can show you what Art means to me.

nude_2002-03-1021163440l
Alex Nodopaka Nude 2002-03 

It has been a rare privilege for me to become friends with the artist who created this graphic image (right).

I first met Alex Nodopaka as a virtual presence when I began reading poets at AuthorsDen.  Before his artistry began to ripple and riddle my brainwaves, to be honest, I have no recollection of ever visiting an art museum.  The thought of an art museum bored me.

The only painting I liked (before Alex introduced me to the world of Art)  was…you guessed it…starrynight

And the only reason I knew about Starry Night was thanks to a song I had heard on the radio at age 14.  (Cheers for Radio GaGa!)  No cheers for the impoverished public education that failed me.

alex-langostino-earings-dec-10-20161.jpgHere is the man who would teach me–not to love Art, but that I already loved Art and had been emotionally starved, much in the same way that extremely poor children already love candy but do not know it until a generous soul shares a bite.

Mind candy is magical!  Transformative!  (Plus it has 0 calories, though rich beyond measure.)  Critics sprinkle words like ‘transformative’ sparingly, and readers, probably more often than not, fail to register the depth and breadth of its definition.

Surrealism

surrealistic

The first instance I was captivated by Alex’s surrealism in 2003.

These days, often overwhelmed by the insanity of “the White House”, exasperated by hypocrisy, broken dreams, misinformation, and a strange war on fact-checkers, Alex and I find relief in a creative project titled Poems to a Friend.  It is a shared journal that we write in once or twice a week, back and forth, stream of consciousness, sharing whatever we wish to say or point to in the moment.  Often he shares a link to his latest published artwork (several online journals feature his work).  The journal is to be published upon his exit from this life stage.  It is my shrine to his eminence, to the artistic genius that has expanded my consciousness and contributed to the quality of life, not only that I now enjoy, also indirectly he has enhanced the perspectives of my children, friends, and everyone in my sphere of influence.

Alex’s artistry is often disruptive and sometimes disturbing–but in a way that I find appealing because it is intoxicating.  Even when I do not like what I am seeing (the way I do not like the taste of tequila, but I like its mood-altering potency), I do not quickly avert my gaze because something in the composition compels me, like a vampire that bites not to suck the life out but to make you immortal (like him).

In closing for now, my suggestion is, for a breath of fresh perspective and to help plant trees for more oxygen, use Ecosia to search for Alex Nodopaka artwork.

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1017 Randomly Beautiful Moments
Available at Amazon

 

#Parkland #NeverAgain

24 Mar

It is 6 a.m. in Los Angeles.  The crazy kitties woke me an hour ago.  It is still dark and quiet, except for the chorus of migrating songbirds.  And I am awake.  Woke as they say.  About guns.  About gun violence.  About the facts.  Moved by the Parkland kids who should not have to be the ones doing all the work.  I walk with them, today, March 24th, I put this banner on my balcony as we all March for Our Lives.

neveragain

Gramma Carmels

Carma is an American poet and author, publishing a variety of ebooks under her maiden name, C.Y. Dillon, and under Carma Chan to honor her Chinese stepdad. Her grandkids call her Gramma Carmels.

Why I Advocate for Medical Marijuana

22 Mar

medicalmarijuanaI write this here today for my teenage granddaughters.  Advocating for medical marijuana to be legal in the world is important to me because:

1) My best friend Patty successfully avoided opioid addiction by using marijuana for pain management.

2) My daughter–your mother–was referred to a CBD clinic by her oncologist and it helped.

3) I watched a documentary series called Weediquette, in particular the “Stoned Vets” episode about relieving PTSD symptoms so our wounded warriors can function better at home–something I personally care about because your momma’s daddy, my first husband, M. Arndt, suffered tremendously from PTSD.  He was arrested for possession of marijuana, which triggered the crisis that tore us apart.

4) In 2016, I stopped using Zoloft and started using medical marijuana to calm my nerves.  I have struggled in ignorance with depression most of my life.  In 1993, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and started using Zoloft to treat the constant anxiety I felt because of many traumatic experiences that happened to me, starting in childhood, in my teen years, and into my life as a young adult.  Finally, when your Uncle Keath nearly died in the womb but was born three months early, and for 73 days I visited him in the NICU and witnessed horrors happen to other families too, it changed me forever.

5) Research and reports of cases about babies and seizure control–cases where placebo effect cannot explain away results–have further convinced me.

These are the core reasons I follow and read news such as this Forbes article about the U.S. Congress proposing a bill to protect medical marijuana from Jeff Sessions.

First, I want to talk about why Jeff Sessions’ name appears in the title.  Sessions hates marijuana and refuses to see any medicinal value, even though it has been scientifically proven effective in treating seizures and many other problems.  Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.  That means, according to federal law, nobody has the right to use marijuana for any reason at all.  Even if their doctor prescribes it–it is illegal to prescribe it, it is illegal to research it, it is illegal to grow it, distribute, or use it.  “But Gramma Carmels,” you might say, “it has been legalized in many states!”  True.  Voters in many states have moved to legalize it for medical use, but it is still breaking a federal law and can be prosecuted in a federal court by a federal law enforcement agent, such as a U.S. Attorney–the public servants whose focus and priorities are directed by Sessions.

Sessions, as the U.S. Attorney General, could have decided to let it be, to let the states’ laws rule in their land, but instead, he has declared war on medical marijuana.  He is actively trying to enforce the federal law banning all marijuana use, disregarding the U.S. Constitution’s provision for States Rights.  What makes that especially wrong is that Sessions, in other matters of law and order, has been an advocate for States Rights–when it comes to matters he personally favors, but when it comes to medical marijuana, he tramples on States Rights.  That is a classic example of hypocrisy–saying you are for something and your actions say the opposite.  He is either for States Rights or he is not.

The reason this matters is that, as long as marijuana remains on the Schedule 1 list, universities and scientists in America cannot study it.  That may be too simple or too broad a statement, but basically that is the fundamental problem.  In order to really get the research needed to discover and prove all of the potential medical uses, marijuana must be removed from the Schedule 1 list.  Until that happens, we are relying on the research of the international community, and fortunately, countries like Israel and Germany are leading the way.

I hope this helps to provide some light as you make up your own mind about how to vote for your future.

Gramma Carmels

Carma is an American poet and author, publishing a variety of ebooks under her maiden name, C.Y. Dillon, and under Carma Chan to honor her Chinese stepdad. Her grandkids call her Gramma Carmels.

Putin’s Odd Bluff

3 Mar

I woke up this morning wondering why our president has said nothing in response to Putin’s wild claim to have super-duper nukes against which no one on Earth can defend themselves.  Why–and how–could Trump remain silent?  Absolute silence.  Mum.  Nada.  Not one word.  Not a tweet.  Why?

Furthermore, I wondered if anyone had said anything–did any world leader react?  I have been watching and reading the news since the Winter Olympics ended and there is nothing much else (unless you like soaps) to watch…and I couldn’t recall a single reaction.

Vladimir PutinPutin stood up and said to the world that he has an invincible nuclear missile system, and his little animated video game showed what looked like Florida as its target.  Why Florida?  It left me wondering.  But before I get to these musings, I want to pause and thank @haltman for his article in the Tampa Bay Times, Why did Putin target Tampa Bay?

After a cup of coffee, I opened my Google News feed and searched ‘Putin’.  One of the headlines found was Fox News featuring the opinions of Condoleezza Rice.  Now, I am not a fan of Fox News, but I do tune in from time to time to see what they’ve got to say about certain things–I do not want to live in a bubble, so I do look into what they’re highlighting.  Usually, I do not fall for their click-bait, but today I clicked, on Condoleezza Rice mocks Putin over ‘absurd’ missile threatsScreen Shot 2018-03-03 at 7.30.08 AMNot only am I genuinely interested in Ms. Rice’s viewpoints, I found it curious that this was the only headline I saw where any leader, or former world-stage leader, had anything to say in response.  Isn’t that odd?

The North Korean leader announced he has an ICBM with a nuclear warhead that can reach Chicago, and there is a reaction, not only from our president, but from other world leaders.  Putin stands up and claims Russia can take out anyone anywhere and there is nothing they can do to stop it, and … crickets.  Oh, except Ms. Rice, a former U.S. Secretary of State, calls him out.  That’s hilarious!

Still, it gnaws on my imagination … why and how could Trump be silent?  He seems incapable of restraint unless there are dire consequences hurting himself.  What has Putin got on him?  In 2013 Trump hosted the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow (and was paid $12M for it).  Following that he gushed like a starstruck kid gazing at a teen magazine.  Then when confronted with questions about Russians helping him to win the election, he back-peddled and said he didn’t know Putin, never talked to him, had no business with Russia.  Now, Putin threatens the U.S. and Trump is mum.  It’s odd.

Putin’s bluff itself is odd.  But here is what is more odd:  Putin seems comfortable gambling that Trump would not call him out.  Isn’t that peculiar?  What makes Putin so comfortable making public threats against the U.S.?

The whole thing is peculiar.  The leader of Russia stood up and basically said, ‘We have the power to obliterate the U.S. and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.’  And the leader of the U.S. said…not one word.

 

Donald Trump

 

Four Months of Limbo

12 Feb

After The Fire

Today is the 18th Monday since we sat in a hotel watching in horror as our neighborhood burned to the ground, and although we would later count ourselves among the lucky ones because our homes were still standing–we didn’t lose everything–the irony is that we, the #JE44, are the ones who have been in limbo all this time.  Here are the facts.

Because our homes are still standing, the insurance payout was only limited to the policy cap of additional living expenses due to displacement, which was on average $6,582.

Insurance also paid to repair physical damage, cleanup of smoke damage, property loss, and spoiled food–which essentially means that once we are able to use our homes again, we will pay the difference between the actual cost to repair and replace, since the insurance companies payout based on their estimates of fair market value at the time of the incident.  The fact is, the actual cost has skyrocketed because of the enormous demand for materials and services.

FEMA denied housing assistance because we had insurance.  For those still living in a FEMA motel, their time runs out soon and they have to file an appeal based on being “under insured”.  None of us knew we were under insured.  We all thought, “No problem, I have insurance!”  Many of my neighbors are in dire straits because they cannot use their home–utilities have not been restored and the owner of the park is trying to sell the land, and the buyer is promising to build “affordable” housing (highly unlikely that the legal requirement of this new “affordable” housing will match what we had, which was less than $700/month including utilities).

Basically, our retirement homes were destroyed and they’re not coming back, and even though we had insurance, our losses were not covered because technically the insurance company did not have to move our homes, and legally we cannot force the land owner or the buyer to restore what was.

Let this be a warning to everyone who thinks they’re covered.  We all would have been better off if we had no insurance at all–every one of our neighbors who had no insurance was eligible for FEMA housing assistance.

After four months, we still have no idea what is going to happen to our homes.

“Can’t you move it?”  One neighbor received a quote of $60,000 to move their double-wide custom home.  Another neighbor received a quote of $13,000 to move a single-wide less than 30 miles away.  There are no available sites within 100 miles.

So 44 families are still in limbo because the park owner and the prospective buyer won’t tell us what they are planning.  This feels wrong.

Journey’s End … Before & After