How Sad for Us, too

In February of this year, those of us in rain-drenched Northern CA. got a reprieve from the rain gods, and the Princess and I decided to take a drive over to the coast. It was one of those beautiful, CA sunny days with temperatures in the 60’s and cloudless, brilliant blue skies ripe for beach walking, biking and anything else you could imagine doing with a gorgeous, sun-filled day.

We headed to Half Moon Bay to stroll on one of our favorite walks that looks out at the ocean from a path above the cliffs, and were doing just that, when we spotted a stranded baby sea lion cornered against the side of one of the bluffs below us.

Crossing paths with the ranger that was trying to help it, we asked if he knew how the little bugger got there, and he told us that a couple of unleashed dogs had sent him scurrying for his young life. By the time the ranger had tried to intervene, the pup had gotten himself stuck between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” and couldn’t get himself back out to sea. Realizing the pup needed to be rescued, but unable to help him without assistance, the ranger had put in a call to the people from the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. We happened to be there when they arrived, so we watched as they carefully netted and prepped it for the ride to their facility in Northern Marin.

The little guy was clearly distraught and made quite a fuss before he was caught.

The Princess, concerned with its well-being, and wanting to know exactly what they’d be doing, asked one of the volunteers what the protocol was for this pup, and if they thought it would eventually calm down and be ok.

He acknowledged her concern, but really couldn’t predict any outcome. All he could say was that they’d do their best to help it. We’ve been to the Center a number of times and are aware of their meticulous care and involvement with the animals, but were concerned with its young age, and if it would thrive without its mother and ocean community. Sea lions are highly social creatures and currently an endangered species, with humans as their primary predators; so we were extremely concerned about the fate of this little one.

As we stood atop the ridge watching the volunteers and ranger as they cautiously corralled the animal into their nets and eventually the holding cage, we heard the pitiful muffled barks and grunts from the anxious pup, and I suddenly got a lump in my throat and started to tear-up.

Standing there in the bright sunlight, attentive to the waves breaking against the side of the cliffs and listening to the muffled cries from this sweet, frightened little baby, I couldn’t help but get a little upset with the dog owners who created this heart-breaking scene.

I totally understand a dog’s need to frolic and run and can appreciate dog owners who like to have their dogs enjoy the beach unleashed, but the beach was well-signed, and the owners informed: Dogs are to be leashed while walking the beach.

They chose not to obey and let them run free. And I’m sure they weren’t bad people, and their dogs were just being dogs. But now this infant pup is without a mother and was carted off to a home totally unnatural and unfamiliar to him. We don’t know if he’ll make it and have no idea if he’ll thrive, and I can’t help but think: how sad for this little guy and how sad for us, too.

As we go forward with our week, let’s try to be respectful of one another and mindful of the world around us, and I’ll catch ya the next time; looking at life from my shoes.

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Dream On

As someone who definitely knows my way around gabbing with people, individuals are often pleasantly surprised to discover the quiet side to my gregarious self. So, my recent silence (both in writing and in speech) has been disconcerting to some folks.

Or so I’ve been told.

Recently, I have been faced with a plethora of life challenges and my body simply stopped working the way I wanted it to work, and I ended up with pneumonia.

The sad thing for me, though, is that my connection with God and my spiritual side has been as stuffy and muddled as my nose and lungs have gotten.

My heart is heavy with indecisions and confusion, and I’m having a hard time feeling hopeful these days. I feel anxious and stressed and often times scared, and I’m thinking that maybe now isn’t the time to be silent.

I am a gay, American woman of immigrant peoples and have serious concerns that my country is on a path of destruction and discrimination. I have significant worries that this administration’s policies are not policies that will “make us great’, but in fact, do quite the opposite.

On the morning of the “Woman’s March” that was held in Washington and nationwide, the Princess and I went to see the motion picture, “Hidden Figures”. The movie is based on the brilliant, black NASA physicist and mathematician, named Katherine Jackson, who was instrumental in the early years of the US space program. We both wanted to participate in our loc0al march, but prudently decided that my claustrophobic issues and our rainy weather would be reason enough to stay away. So, instead we went to an early showing of this film and were pleasantly treated to a quality story and an excellent reminder of past times.

As I sat in the theater, immobile with emotion, I couldn’t help but see the juxtaposition of the day. We were watching first-hand the outward discrimination of Ms. Jackson and her co-workers as they heroically pushed on, day after day, insult after injury. At one point in the movie, Ms. Jackson’s boss questions why she’s taking such “long breaks” during the day. He discovers, to his great embarrassment, that it was because there were no “colored restrooms” nearby. NASA’s only bathroom “of color” was over a half a mile on the other side of their campus, so she had to run back and forth every day; rain or shine.

It’s when her boss, played by Kevin Costner, takes mallet in hand and smashes the sign hanging over the woman’s restroom that says, “For Coloreds Only”, and declares to his employees, “As long as we pee all the same color at NASA, we all use the same bathrooms,” that the tears started to uncontrollably roll down my cheeks and my body felt sick with shame.

There I sat in a luxurious, remote-controlled, padded lounge chair – the epitome of American ingenuity and affluence, watching a movie depicting discrimination of a minority from the 1960’s; acutely aware of the various marches taking place outside of our local theater, and it sadly dawned on me, “Are we repeating history once again? Has America elected a man so intent on 0making this country “great” that he’s going to do it at the cost of those that actually DID make it great?”

We’re a country based on differences; a country based on acceptance. We’re all human and all valuable and all “pee the same color”. So, let’s not take that for granted, and let’s remember who we are – a country of dreamers and inventors and a country of freedoms and of hopes.

I care not that you voted for “him” or voted for “her”. I care that you stand up for what is right and what is wrong. It is important that we go forward, with the understanding that no man is better than the other; and no woman less than, either.

We must not go back to a time when “colored bathrooms” is a concept we agree to – whether in practice or in silence.

We’re all human and all valuable.

And all “pee the same color.”

I pray we all remember that and pray we all dream on.

Until the next time, be kind to each other, and I’ll catch you the next time, looking at life from my shoes.