Sonoma’s Tuesday Night Market

There are so many reasons we love living in California. Now that Spring has sprung, we can add one more reason to the list. Downtown Sonoma’s Tuesday night farmer’s market.

Our new friends, Laura and John, live in Sonoma near the square, so we were excited to get together for the first Tuesday night market of the season. The square was full of people enjoying the evening. Picnic tables and blankets were spread throughout the park surrounding city hall, and the market was bustling with vendors, customers, and lots of delicious eats. The best part? You could carry your wine glass through the whole event. It truly is a wine country market!

Jake was particularly excited when he found the corn dog stand. For some reason, I just can’t understand the draw to the corn dog. It is such a bizarre food, but people seem to love it. These particular corn dogs looked delicious, so I did try a bite. For a corn dog, it was pretty yummy!

All in all, the evening was lovely. We met some wonderful people, a really cute baby (don’t worry, she wasn’t actually drinking was an empty glass!), and had some delicious food and wine.

I look forward to going again soon!


The Peace Journalist, a Publication of Park University

In April 2012, Park University’s Center for Global Peace Journalism published Volume 1, No. 1 of its new journal, The Peace Journalist.  Dedicated to “disseminating news and information for and about teachers, students, and practitioners of peace and conflict sensitive journalism”.  Wow.  I opened the pages of the new journal and was immediately fascinated.

Page 3 quotes Mahatma Gandhi, the famous Indian humanitarian who used non-violent protest to oppose British colonial rule before and during World War II and who worked for harmony between India’s Muslim and Hindu populations.  His perspective on journalists is that:  The true function of journalism is to educate the public mind, not to stock the public mind with wanted and unwanted impressions.  A journalist has therefore to use his discretion as to what to report and when.  As it is, journalists are not content to stick to facts alone.  Journalism has become the art of intelligent anticipation of events.

As I reflected on Gandhi’s sentiments and wandered through the pages of this journal, I became aware that my view of journalism seems pretty simplistic.  I have asked only that journalists state the facts and let me decide how to feel about the facts presented to me. I still believe that.  But the focus of the articles in this first volume is far more sophisticated in analyzing the role of what are described as “peace journalists”.

For instance, an article by Dr. Ghassan Rubeiz, an Arab American commentator, focuses on ways in which the media can promote  religious tolerance.  She encourage the publication of what she calls “good news” stories, stories about how a Jewish boy saves an elderly Muslim woman or how a Muslim saves the life of a Jew.  She further advocates for free and honest media that discredits what she refers to as “fear-mongering pundits”.

Another article focuses on training peace journalists in Uganda, particularly to support violence free elections.  In an article analyzing the ethics of peace journalism Julie Dolezilek describes the ethics of peace journalists:  1) their first obligation is to the public; 2) they must report the truth; 3) they should avoiding reporting news that is really just propaganda; 4) they should avoid writing articles that will incite violence of further worsen conflict.  She also comments on the obligation of journalists to anticipate the consequences of their articles before they are written.

I have not yet fully absorbed the material in this new publication.  I don’t even know whether I agree with all of it.  Even as I read the discussion of ethics I respected the conflicting ethical challenges touched on by the author, herself a student at Park. But in this era when we complain constantly about the state of civility in the national and international dialogue and complain about media bias to the left and to the right, isn’t it refreshing to have a new journal focused on these important issues.

Park University has long had a focus on international students and global studies.  Park’s focus on preparing its students to be prepared to participate in the global community positions it as a natural center for such a journal.  I applaud Park and Steven Youngblood, Director of the Center for Global Peach Journalism for this fascinating new journal.

Pictures of my dog and my yard with a borrowed Nikon D80

Pre-Meg I had a great camera, it was a Canon FTb. It went everywhere with me.  Sometimes I traveled alone.  When I did, my camera was enough company.  I was able to spend all the time I wanted setting up a shot.  It never complained.  Of course, in the pre-digital age, I spent more money on film and developing costs than I spent on the camera.  But that was then and this is now.

Terry and I are planning an October trip to Cuba.  Much as I love my handy iPhone, I am looking for something more.  I’ve been reading camera reviews and specs.  I check out the blog Photobotos and covet cameras that would take such amazing photographs. A friend loaned me his Nikon D80 to fiddle with for a week.  I chose my yard to check out the quality of the camera, recognizing I am now so rusty I can’t remember more than the most basic techniques for taking a picture. Here are my results:

Casey at peace with his world

My feeble attempt to make my overturned wheelbarrow look like art

                                                                      In mid-May the Hydrangea are suddenly blooming
                                                                    The yard is Casey’s kingdom and he knows he is the king
                                                                                             View from our second floor deck
Hope your weekend is as beautiful as ours.

A Day at the Museum: San Francisco’s Legion of Honor

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

San Francisco is full of art and culture. Most of our recent visits into the city have been to see the touristy-type attractions. Pier 39. Ghirardelli. Coit Tower. For our visit this past Saturday with Aunt Carol and Uncle John, we opted for the arts. As our Christmas present from them, the four of us planned a day in the city to visit several museums and have a delicious dinner. Our first stop? The Legion of Honor.

The Legion of Honor is one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. It is located in SF’s Lincoln Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was built as a gift from Alma de Bretteville Spreckels in the 1920s to commemorate the Californian soldiers who lost their lives fighting in France in World War I. The collection of fine art inside the museum is beautiful, and the architecture of the structure itself is equally magnificent.

As we walked around the inside of the museum, I couldn’t help but think how much it reminded me of the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City. The architecture is very similar, and both have Rodin’s Thinker! The collections ranged from impressionist paintings to Annie Leibovitz’s photography to ancient Roman sculptures. These were a few of my favorites.

My favorite piece of art in the whole museum is a ceiling in one of the exhibit rooms. The detail is incredible. The ceiling was carved from wood in Spain in the late 1400s-early 1500s during the Moorish occupation. It is one of four removed from the original setting in the Palacio de Altimira in Toledo, in the Torrijos region in Spain.

It was a beautiful day at the museum. With our busy lives, it is nice to be reminded of all the beautiful things to see around us. I believe the arts to be an important factor in maintaining the balance in society. It is hard to argue with the importance of the arts, especially when we see such beauty through the eyes of the artists, enlightening us about their fascinating perspectives on the world. In a lot of ways, it helps us look at the world through new eyes, learn how to see something from someone else’s perspective, and have a little more appreciation for our own world.

Once we left the Legion of Honor, heavy in thought, we made our way over to Golden Gate Park to see the de Young museum. But I will save that exciting experience for next time.

An Indian Wedding: Finishing the night with a horse ride, dinner and dancing!

By this point in the wedding festivities, we have seen henna designs, skits, beautiful dresses, delicious food, a stunning bride (and groom!), and a Nikah wedding ceremony. Drumming introduced us to the second part of the wedding festivities on May 5th, 2012, when Noah rode in on a white stallion to the entrance of the reception hall. He looked very handsome in his traditional Indian ensemble, and very confident on the enormous white horse they had for him to ride!

Once Noah rode in on the horse, Natasha’s cousins and bridesmaids gathered around him to participate in a tradition I had never seen. We stole his shoes! And then he had to negotiate with us to get his shoes back. In the end, he paid a lot of money (I hope pre-arranged) and did a little dance. It was a lot of fun. Following the bartering of the shoes, family members gathered to bless Noah with a coconut. They would stand in front of him, touch the coconut to his forehead, and move the coconut in circles in front of his head.

While traditions surrounding Noah’s entrance were taking place, Natasha was upstairs getting changed for the rest of the evening. Her second gown was very similar to her first gown, only in teal instead of red. It was absolutely gorgeous! Noah somehow found time to change as well, from his traditional Indian ensemble into a black tux with teal accents. They were quite the handsome couple.

The reception was held in the grand ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel on the Plaza. Outside the ballroom, the couple had arranged a photo booth for guests to take fun pictures, appetizers, and refreshing beverages to cool off from the heat outside.

Once the bride and groom were ready to make their grand entrance, we all moved into the ballroom and anxiously awaited their arrival. The families entered first, with the parents dancing in to pre-selected songs. Then Natasha and Noah entered the room to a song of their own selection. As they strutted their way through the room, you could see the excitement on their faces to have reached this part of the day. Time to let loose and have fun! They started with the cake, and then sat down to have dinner.

One of my favorite aspects of this wedding was the incorporation of different cultures. Indian traditions from Natasha’s family, Jewish traditions from Noah’s family. They incorporated prayers from both in the wedding ceremony, and dances from both in the reception. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures of the hora because we were both participating. The bridesmaids joined in the circle, and Jake jumped at the chance to help lift one of the chairs in the center of the circle dance. Such a fabulous time!

The surprise guest of the evening was….drum roll please!…..Big Jay! The Kansas Jayhawks mascot joined in the festivities for part of the night, competing in a dance off with a representative from the Syracuse Orangemen. He then stayed to take pictures with all of us.

The night finished with a first dance for the bride and groom. It was a beautiful evening and a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of what I expect to be a strong and happy marriage. Natasha and I have known each other for so long. We grew up together attending Pembroke Hill School, and even created a cool handshake in 5th grade. We played soccer together, learned Spanish together, and still made time to see each other through college. She then went off to med school, while I attended law school. Now, we’re all grown up, with fancy degrees and wonderful husbands.

Natasha and Noah, I am so excited for both of you, and I wish you both all the happiness in the world. Congratulations!

An Indian Wedding: Getting ready for the Wedding Nikah Ceremony

There were many parts to the wedding day for Natasha and Noah. The morning was spent at the hair salon and in the hotel suite getting ourselves primped and ready to begin the day. Mid-day was focused on  Natasha’s preparations. The early afternoon was dedicated to the wedding ceremony itself and to wedding photos afterwards. Following the Nikah and related events, the day changed to the ceremonies associated with the reception.  Natasha’s family received Noah and his family and friends, while Noah rode in on a white horse with drums playing and people dancing. The rest of the evening was spent at the reception, eating delicious Indian cuisine, listening to heartfelt speeches from friends and family, dancing, and of course, celebrating the newlyweds.

I will post the wedding day in two parts simply because there was so much going on that day. Besides, the photos of Natasha getting ready are so stunning, I wanted to share more of them with you.

In every wedding, all eyes wait in anticipation to see the bride’s gown. What does it look like? What is the texture? What style did she choose? In an Indian wedding, the gown for the wedding itself is traditionally red. And it’s not just a gown, it’s a full ensemble. As I mentioned in a previous post, Natasha and her mother, Shaheen, traveled to India to have all the dresses made for both Natasha and her bridesmaids. They picked the fabrics, described the designs they wanted, picked out the jewelry. In the end, they returned with some of the most intricate fabrics I have had the opportunity to see, with the most impeccable detailing.

The bridesmaids’ sarees were beautiful, but Natasha’s gowns were beyond stunning. Shes chose “lehenga” style gowns, red for the wedding, and teal for the reception. The gown consisted of a blouse, a floor-length skirt, and a draped fabric called a “dupatta,” which could be worn as a shawl or similar to a veil.

As heavy as the wedding gowns were for Natasha throughout the day (all the fabric, jewels and beading made her heaviest dress over 50 lbs), add her stunning gold heels to the equation, and I admit, I have never been so impressed with a bride’s balancing abilities. Her jewelry consisted of the “maang tikka” (the jewels worn on the forehead), the “chudi” (all the bangles worn on her wrists), the “hathphool” (bracelet connected to a ring), and the dazzling necklace and earring set that was so elaborate it practically molded into a part of her dress. Like I said. She was positively stunning.

The bridesmaids’ sarees were amazing, even if our ensembles were not quite as elaborate. Still, we all felt like princesses for the day. We had a blast getting ready at the salon, and then getting pinned into our sarees at the hotel.

The icing on the cake was getting to help prep Natasha for the day, and especially, for the Nikah ceremony. By the time she reached Noah at the altar, we could see the joy in her eyes.

We were so happy to be a part of the day, and we still had a whole afternoon and evening to come. Little did we know we would get the honor of meeting a special surprise guest! You’ll just have to wait and see who it was!

Happy Mother’s Day–to the Village

We all know the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child”.  Each of us benefits from such a village. I want to thank the village of people who have shared in raising Meg.

Meg’s village, necessarily, starts with my mom.  Until her death two years ago, she was the matriarch of our family.  She loved each of her children and her grandchildren unconditionally.  She was always there for us.  We did not want to disappoint her because she never disappointed us.  She made sure each of us felt special.  She was a wonderful mother, wife, friend, cook, gardener and listener.  Meg knew how much grams loved her.  She was beautiful in every way.

Our family has included an abundance of cheerleaders for Meg and her cousins.  We get together whenever we can even though we are spread throughout the country.  Here we celebrated with dad as he received his most recent community award last year in Independence.

As a family we have worked hard to provide each other personal and moral support.  We treasure our successes and provide each other solace during difficult times as we strive to grow individually and together.

Terry has been a rock star, guiding her and supporting her with his quiet wisdom and no-nonsense practicality.  He has listened to her, comforted her and helped her to grow with a combination of youthful idealism and an understanding of economic and financial realities.

Meg’s strong ties to both her father’s family and mine have enabled her to stretch her comfort level. With encouragement from others, she has ridden a motorcycle, danced at a ball, studied and traveled abroad, supervised a pro bono tax clinic, worn a sari, attended Passover and climbed a mountain at Jackson Hole.

In so many ways, our lives are enriched by friends as well as family.  There have been truly wonderful people who have shared their lives with Meg and nurtured her as she has grown to adulthood.

Close friends have also been like family to her and have enriched her life and mine.  Whether Meg needed a “sister”, a second “mother” or just a wise friend, there has always been someone there for her.

She has spent birthdays, holidays, and lots of ordinary days in the company of extraordinary people.  She has shopped for shoes, indulged in tuna melts, shared dinners, walked in 4th of July neighborhood parades, spent weekends in Branson and learned how to dream with these friends.

The terms wisdom, love of life, love of beauty, concern for humanity are terms that fit each member of this wonderful village.  It is never possible to truly isolate the gifts of knowledge and understanding she has gained from individual relationships.  But as she has matured, Meg has had role models and mentors who were there for her when she needed them.

As much as her family shared with her our own values, she was truly enriched by the opportunity to observe, and share in the family lives of friends and family who broadened and deepened her understanding of the many ways to live life, to mature as a true friend, to be a person of integrity and to live her life with grace.

Her most significant mentors have also helped her to develop her own strength and to gain a vision for the person she has become.

As I write this, I realize the futility of trying to include photographs of, or give individual thanks to, every individual who has been truly special in our lives. (Besides, the fact I don’t have photographs of some of these wonderful people is a mistake I will quickly rectify.)  But each of you know my gratitude to you.  For all of you who have been a part of her life, and mine, I want to thank you for being part of our village.  

Happy mother’s day.