Monday, June 17, 2019

Maid of Honor's Speech for the Bride and Groom

Ashlyn & Audrey

"First off, I’d like to say how overjoyed I am that we could all be here to celebrate Erick and Audrey; two people whom I find so deserving of the love they have found in each other. For those of you who don’t know me, (which is not many of you) my name is Ashlyn, the one who has always been fortunate enough to say that Audrey is my sister. There was never a dull moment growing up with Audrey, whether it be a dance performance (on stage or in the living room), making up games for us to play, taking us on nature hikes, or just bringing all of the family together to put on a skit that she orchestrated all on her own. She had a way of making our childhood feel extraordinary. 

For as long as I can remember, Audrey has exuded elegance and confidence. She has always had the strength to stand up for what she believes in, and to unapologetically be herself while inviting others to do the same. She has a love for her family, friends, and this world that is unmatched. There is a difference between what my sister is to me, and what we are as sisters. She has always been my biggest role model, my built-in best friend, and my go-to when I was in trouble with our mom and dad for no good reason at all… (I’m kidding Mom and Dad, I know you had every right), but more importantly as sisters, we have never allowed each other to feel alone. Through every phase of life, no matter how silly or dark the circumstance or how broken we felt, one of us was always there to help pick up the pieces and remind each other that we are always stronger than we feel. I mean, I don’t know anyone who would listen to me cry about my over-plucked eyebrows, or a mountainous pimple on my face for as long as she has.
When I first learned about Erick, I had to admit I was a little leery. I was going to school in Oklahoma at the time, so I wasn’t able to see anything first-hand.. (Audrey) called me and told me about this cute, curly-headed musician that lives in a 'tiny house' that she kept running into at my mom and dad’s apartment. Well, my first thought was 'what in the world is a tiny house, and why is he at the apartments when he has a tiny house?' As fate would have it, hurricane Harvey’s devastating effects had Erick’s parents seeking refuge in the same apartments as our parents. To me, it is evident that the stars were aligned for them to cross each other’s paths. 

As time went on, my sister was just head over heels in love with Erick and his precious son, Ishan. I still had not met him, and I was anxious as all get out to meet the guy that my sister told me 'could be the one'. When I finally had the pleasure of meeting Erick, I knew he was different. It didn’t take long for me to see that he is fun-loving, he can roll with the punches (which is very important in this family), and that he has the adventurous spirit that my sister has always deserved in a husband. More importantly, it was evident from the very first second I saw them together that Erick loves my sister deeply. Not only did I see that he is a
great addition to the family, but so is his son, Ishan, who shares the same adventurous and kind-hearted spirit as his dad. Since Audrey first met Erick, she has radiated a sense of joy, adventure, and love that Audrey has always been capable of, but with more intensity, and a sense of security than I have ever seen in her before. Erick, you are wonderful. I could not imagine a better man for my sister, or to call my brother-in-law. (They don’t know this, but I’ve been working on the blueprints for adding a room in their house for me… but we can cross that bridge when we get there.) 

I only wish I weren’t kidding…Cheers to the stars aligning, and for endless amounts of patience, love and happiness for the both of you! Congratulations Audrey and Erick!"...Ashlyn
Mother Carajean, Bride, Maid of Honor
Audrey & Father Branch

The beautiful wedding of these two took place outdoors at the bride's parents' Lake Travis home on June 1, 2019.
Instead of rice, the guests held fireworks sparklers as the newlyweds made their way to their "getaway car"! A two-week honeymoon was spent in Italy. I can't wait to see the professional photos taken of the wonderful event as well as the ones the couple took in Italy. These were taken by me or son Matthew. 

This was the first of my seven grandchildren to get married. Of course, it was very exciting, and my daughter did a great job of getting her home and backyard ready for the big event. Forty (or more) people for a sit-down dinner was not an easy task to plan, but it was perfect and everything indoors and out was absolutely beautiful. 

As my second oldest granddaughter Ashlyn caught the bridal bouquet, the next wedding may be sooner than we thought. And -- the love of her life is also named Erik! 

This was/is a lot for this aging grandmother to take in. I bubbled with pride at all of my family, but this was one weary woman at the end of a long, beautiful day.

May you all have as much love in your lives,

Just in.. a few photos by ELISA LOPEZ PHOTOGRAPHY:


Monday, June 3, 2019

In Memory of a Big Little Man

 John Nance Garner V 

"I am John Nance Garner. I come for a long line of John Nance Garners. My grandfather's brother, John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner III, was the Vice-President of the United States for two terms under Roosevelt. My father, John Nance Garner lV, was involved in politics, but not in a national capacity. So here I am, John Nance Garner V. I strayed from the political path, and was a disk jockey for thirty years.

"I act at the Denton Community Theater, do art work, and have written my first novel 'Good Bad and Oh My God.'" 

The above short bio John wrote on his Amazon book page, where you can purchase e-books he has written. After his first book in 2012, he went on to write "The Garners: From a beautiful Welsh woman accused of Witchcraft to a heartbeat away from the presidency", "Thank God Elephants Don't Fly", and his last book "Old Billy", his take on Billy the Kid that he finished in 2017.
I lost a dear friend on May 24th. Although his name was John, those of us who knew him called him "Jack". Jack was one of the first persons I met when I started attending Unity Church of Denton in 1989. He really admired the Unity Licensed Teacher we had at the time, Ellen Davis. She had held her first study group in a motel, which Jack attended along with a few other local folks interested in the Unity beliefs. He remained a member for many years, although Ellen Davis didn't return until she was ordained a Unity minister. The church is now known as Unity Spiritual Center of Denton, located in a nearby suburb of Denton, Texas. Shortly before Jack was admitted to hospice care, he was glad that Ellen would be available to conduct his funeral service, and he outlined plans for his wishes. I cried when he shared that with me on one of our last Saturday telephone visits.

For several years after I left Denton in 2001, Jack and I communicated. In the past few years, Jack has called me every Saturday to catch up on the news and his latest endeavor. Most recently his passion was writing Letters to the Editor of the Denton newspaper, the Record-Chronicle. These were primarily political in nature, many of which I posted on this blog. Next to that passion was his morning breakfast at a local coffee shop, where he met with the same circle of men and discussed politics. These were often loud and confrontational - which Jack really enjoyed.

I remember when in his mid-sixties Jack decided he wanted to "create
Judy Dench
art". He knew that I had done a few pastels, so he asked me to show him some of my techniques (which were very amateurish).
Morning Coffee
He was fascinated, so he then took a few lessons. And oh, what lovely portraits Jack was able to paint. They were larger than life, and accomplished by his viewing photographs - many of which he took on yearly visits to a friend in New Orleans. I have one that I cherish that he copied from a photo of me and my two youngest grandchildren.

Fiddle in the Cold

I posted the following on my blog almost ten years ago. It tells so much about Jack I want to share it again.

“.. My dear friend, Jack Garner, is 73 this month. Jack has gone through many different 'careers' in his life: DJ, actor, artist, barber, hair stylist, and even a stint as a charismatic 'preacher' (his term). From standing on his feet doing folks' hair for so many years, Jack eagerly 'retired' from that profession. After a while, Social Security notwithstanding, Jack determined he still had years of work ahead of him. He started working as a bus monitor for the Denton Independent School District. He rides twice daily picking up special needs children to deliver them to school and back. In the beginning, there was a grown, young man who is over 6-feet tall with the mind of a three-year-old who rode his bus. His name is Trey. Not knowing what to expect, Jack inquired of the driver how he was to handle this man-child should he begin to agitate or turn violent. He was told to sing the children's song, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and that would calm Trey. Jack spent the whole weekend memorizing the words to Twinkle. Twinkle..

Rather than feel the job beneath him, or feel that it was extremely boring, Jack began to fall in love with these special children. With no education or training to do this kind of work, he has presented ideas to his supervisor that have been incorporated into the training program for bus drivers and monitors, as well as others who work with these children. He truly cares what happens to them and doesn't look at them as just people to be shuffled around and given busy work. What wonderful work Jack is doing. If everyone could put as much effort into solving little problems in their world, perhaps we wouldn't have so many big problems. Jack wrote the following:

 THE MAGIC MIRROR "I am trying a new thing with my six children with learning disabilities. One thing learning disabled children have in common is low, low self-esteem. 

I remembered the Louise Hay concept of looking in a mirror and saying I love myself, and how hard it is for many adults to do this. So I introduced the kids to Mr. Jack’s 'magic mirror'. When one of these kids gets on the bus, I get my little hand mirror, lean over the seat in front of them. Then I say (if a boy), 'Look into your handsome eyes in your handsome face and repeat after me: I deeply and completely love and accept myself exactly as I am. Now give yourself a big happy smile'. I've been doing this only two days but have already had some results, well considering the time, I call them outstanding results. 

One little girl with ODD (Oppression Defiant Disorder) usually has a scowl on her face and looks as if she is mad at everybody and everything. I did it with her and when she got off the bus she was still smiling. Marcos, a boy in speech therapy who only learned to speak so he could be understood said 'Hey, this is good'.

I play 'trash can', which is calling out 'trash can' every time we see one, with Andrew, who wants to win so badly (I always let him win except when I need to win to keep him on his toes). Last Friday he asked, 'Who won Mr. Jack?' I told him he did. Then I did the mirror thing with him. Afterwards, as he was getting off the bus, he said, 'Mr. Jack, I don't think I won. I think we tied.' I almost lost my false teeth I was so open-mouthed.

I do this twice a day when they get on and when they get off. I'm hoping it will help them emotionally and I am hoping, hoping, hoping that it will cause them to learn better and quicker. 

You can probably tell I'm very excited about this. I especially wanted to tell you about this because you are familiar with Louise Hay. Wish me and them luck."
(About a week later, JACK wrote the following):

"I am now sure that the magic mirror works. This week the angry little girl with ODD got on the bus, walked up to one little boy and hugged him, then walked back to another little boy and hugged him. Friday when we got to school and I said it was time to go, one of the older children from State School walked over to Trey and said 'Let's go, Trey'. In all the times she has ridden with me she has never done anything like this. She took charge of an issue. I have managed to teach Trey to say 'I love myself' - whether he knows what he's saying or not. I don't know, but I am encouraged. 

I know it helps the children emotionally, now if it only helps them to learn. I do have hopes that it will, but only time will tell. 

Done on a consistent basis, the mirror technique will help any child, not just the ones with learning disabilities. Unless the child is the offspring of the equivalent of saints, negative material will be absorbed by them, and they, in some area, will doubt they are loved. If one doubts they are loved, they will doubt themselves and all that they do. I believe some of this is present in all children and the consistent use of the mirror technique will help them. It is more prevalent in children with learning disabilities, as their intelligence is questioned earlier. I believe the mirror method will help build their self-esteem to the point that they will do better in school. 

Friday my regular driver was out and the Special Needs Assistant drove me and the children. What I didn't know at the time was that he was evaluating both the children and me. He told me at the end of the route he had never been so impressed, and that he was blown away by the improvement in Trey. Needless to say, I was proud as a puffed-up pigeon. I was very proud of the kids."
And I was very proud of you, my good friend!
As the cancer progressed and I was increasingly aware that I was losing my friend, Jack sensed it and told me more than once that he was not afraid to die, but he was afraid of suffering severe pain. Hospice made certain that he never suffered at the end of his life. God bless them.

Jack's only relative in the Denton area, a nephew, Randy Sherling, is in charge of the funeral arrangements. He advised me that it would probably be another week or so before the service.

In the meantime, Rest in Peace, my friend. I miss you already.


Thursday, May 2, 2019

The "Me" that I came here to be.

Oh, wow! I read those words in my Daily Word booklet and had chills run over me, I had just turned on my "background music", a video on YouTube that is said to unlock your true potential" and to "cleanse self-doubt." I always have musical videos running continually when I am on my computer. Most consist of music containing binaural beats, some of which are Native American flutes and drums; some ringing bowls and soft Om chanting; and many with quiet nature sounds of oceans, rain, and waterfalls. The theory is that binaural beats can help create the frequency needed for your brain to create the same waves commonly experienced during a meditation practice. These can be used for different purposes such as healing, increased awareness, relaxation, learning, etc. I particularly like the ones made by The Power Thoughts Meditation Club and Good Vibes - Binaural Beats. I can attest to the fact that listening to these has alleviated lots of my minor aches and pains. But draw out "the me I came here to be"? The results are still out on that.
I remember reading a book in the 80s titled I Love The Person You Were Meant To Be. It is no longer available on Amazon. Written by Martha Wiley Emmett, it is described as "An intense and extraordinarily realistic account of a married woman's mental breakdown." I don't recall much about the book, but obviously I was going through a depression myself. (A divorce followed not long after.) Those of you who know me well know that I have not been very successful at marriage(s). I read that book because maybe I was looking for an answer as to how I could change and be someone else - and be loved for that someone.

Along came the 90s. Still looking for that "me", I fell victim to the craze of what was known as "glamour shots". Even though I considered myself a feminist, strongly supporting the movement in the 70s, another failed marriage once again led me to believe that my happiness depended upon a man to "love" me. And in order to attract the "perfect" one, I must adhere to the notion of "beauty" that was still prevalent after all the women's movement's work. A couple of days before my 52nd birthday, I trekked to the Glamour Shots studio in our local mall, and when the photographer was finished, (I can't believe I did this), I marched down to the Victoria's Secret shop. "Vanity (frailty, divorce), thy name is woman." That perfect man I thought I attracted? He left me at the altar.

It turns out that was not a bad thing. 30 years later and more than a few counseling sessions, I probably am the "me that was meant to be" - a happy mother of three grown children and grandmother of seven beautiful, bright, talented grandchildren, whose parents are equally precious in my eyes. Each has made me proud. They are better parents than I was, with more stability in their lives than I ever gave to them. It was easy to love all of them - and love them better - once I learned to love myself.

I had many dreams and aspirations that were never realized. Those compared so much to my grandchildren's accomplishments it seems supernatural. They appear to have had some of the same dreams early on. Or their parents dreamed for them. At any rate, I love to brag on them, and I praise them every opportunity I get.

I was never very good at the things I loved to do as a child, but that didn't stop me from trying. No matter where my parents took me or sent me, I quickly found a niche to practice my dreams. Singing, dancing, and acting in school productions, I also played a cello for one brief semester in junior high. When the next school didn't have an orchestra, I played the snare drum. Even in the marching band. The drum weighed almost as much as I did.

I have watched my own children and my grandchildren achieve so much -- and be extremely good at those achievements that it is almost as if I am doing it right along with them. It is so thrilling when they excel at what were once my dreams, I cannot resist lavishing the praise. It's as though the Universe is showing me that dreams do come true... sometimes it takes another generation or two. And great parents - as well as a good education.

I wrote a short play when I was about eleven. A neighbor my age and a gullible young girl about four were helping me to act it out. We ceased acting quickly when the little girl's mother discovered us "acting like we were dentists treating her child"! A couple of years later, I was in the process of writing a Christmas play for the little school in a small town in upstate New York when my mother informed us we were moving back to Texas. I attended four schools in three different states that year.

Two of my grandchildren attended Booker T Washington Performing Arts High School in Dallas. To a child who dreams of such things, it affords a great opportunity to test one's abilities. I can only imagine how excited I would have been to attend such a school. My granddaughter not only acted in several performances, she learned playwriting and directing. My grandson went on to study opera in college. They both have a talent for writing as well. 

No matter where their childhood dreams take them in the future, I have had worlds of fun watching each of them testing their wings and learning to fly! Three have already graduated from college. That was my biggest dream of all.

May all of your dreams come true.. even if it happens through your grandchildren.

Love and peace,

Monday, April 22, 2019


Too bad the 1972 song by Three Dog Night didn't spur a big enough movement to slow down the damage being done to our world. "Joy to the fishes"? So many are shrinking in numbers along with their brothers of the deep. And in many places, that sea isn't "deep blue" anymore. Overfishing, warming waters, discarded trash, and the millions of molecules of leftover plastic is being swallowed by these marine animals, placing some on the verge of extinction.

By now you all know that this is Earth Day. Watching the news and the accompanying pictures and videos, leaves one wondering what this world will be like in a few very short years. One doesn't have to be a scientist to recognize the changing weather patterns. The increase in the number and severity of hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, and wildfires is evident throughout the year. We barely get over the pain of seeing the pitiful victims, the ruins of their homes and belongings, and thinking how fortunate we are to be spared such destruction -- at least this time -- when the next disaster hits planet earth. 

Unfortunately, the news of the destruction still outweighs the "good news" of people and organizations working to find solutions to undo or prevent the damage we have wrought. We witness daily the effects of pollution, natural disasters, and wars. The news show CBS This Morning now has a series titled "Earth Matters", which covers "climate change across the globe." This morning's segments were on deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and what is being done to help stop it Amazon Forest, the scientists studying the changes in the sea floor in Antarctica Sea Floor Expedition, the use of solar energy by the young generation in South Africa's Energy Revolution, as well as topics on air pollution and the challenges faced by our water sources.

The fact that a portion of the Rio Grande River has been bone dry in recent times (due to drought) was particularly frightening to me. As a Texas gal, I've always believed that river would be here forever. Watch just a few of the above videos and read the articles on efforts taken across the globe to help the environment, and join in or donate to the causes.

Image result for artificial reefs from oil rigs
(Rigs to Reefs - Mission Blue)
An article about oil rigs (I grind my teeth at them) and wind turbines mounted on the ocean beds surprised me. My younger son Matthew once was an avid scuba diver who brought back beautiful photographs of underwater coral reefs. The thought that some have already been "killed" is discouraging. Technology is contributing to the deaths of so much of our sea life. However: "researchers are urging governments to reconsider a law in which sea installations – such as oil rigs and wind turbines – have to be removed at the end of their lifespan, which can last for 20 or 30 years. The reason for this is that all the infrastructure needed to anchor the structures to the sea floor eventually becomes beneficial to plant and fish life.

Now that is creative! Researchers also state that they see many more porpoises around oil rigs than in the surrounding sea. If only oil companies would cease to drill in our oceans..and may we never have a disastrous oil spill like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 9-years ago this month. One of the worst oil spills in our nation's history, the impact of the environmental damage to our Gulf Coast ecosystem is ongoing.
Image result for tubs gathering plastics in ocean
The plastics which plague our environment are gradually being replaced. Many are opting out of using plastic utensils, shopping bags, water bottles, and especially straws. Many cities are banning the use of plastic bags, and recycling has become such a problem that China has begun to refuse to accept materials from the U.S. to be recycled. 

The length of time required for plastic to disintegrate in our landfills as well as the danger to our sea wildlife makes replacing it a priority to many ecologists today. A nonrenewable resource, synthetic plastic production contributes not only to global warming, but the transport of the unlimited items made from it to factories at all corners of the globe also increases its carbon footprint. 
Image result for algae bioplastic
(John Cunningham, JONAA's Marine Science Editor)
"Algae bioplastics were discovered when many companies were exploring alternative sources of biofuels for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption.

"Bioplastics or natural plastics are a variety of plastics based on renewable biomass resources which include vegetable oil, corn starch, pea starch as opposed to fossil-fuel plastic materials created from petroleum." Algae Bioplastics

Kudos to the Dutch designers, Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros,  who spent three years creating their biopolymer, made of local raw materials. They subsequently used materials such as organic resources like mycelium, potato starch, cocoa bean shells, and, more importantly, algae.. Algae Plastic.

A couple more items that peaked my interest: 
1) We may soon be able to melt down plastic waste into fuel for hydrogen cars. (Ahem, who has a hydrogen car?) And 2) Ultra cheap printable solar panels are now available in Australia.
More good advice from CBS This Morning. Three things you can do to help protect the environment.
1. Eat less meat. "Have meatless Mondays." Livestock are a major source of carbon emissions.
2. Cut your freeway usage. (Take a train or bus. Car pool.)
3. And of course, reduce your plastic use.

Spiritual traditions often contain good ideas to encourage us to take care of our Mother Earth:
"To truly practice Zen therefore means not leaving lights burning when they are not needed, not allowing water to run unnecessarily from the faucet, not loading up your plate and leaving food uneaten." Philip Kapleau in 365 Zen by Jean Smith

To Practice This Thought:
"Find ways to be respectful of the things you use and encounter, bearing in mind that water, food, light, and other resources are gifts."

So many people are not blessed with even these necessities of life. May we teach our children better than we were taught.

Peace and love for out planet,

Friday, April 19, 2019


There has been much excitement in the news lately -- some of it good and some of it not-so-good. I thought it best to post something uplifting instead of ruminating over items that promise to bring us down. As my regular readers are aware, I am particularly fond of reporting the good news emanating from my talented grandchildren. 

My daughter's son, Tanner, has been honored recently by eno Magazine. an arts and literature magazine published by the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. (Which, by the way, is where Tanner's sister Audrey received her master's degree.) He received notice from the Editor of the magazine: "I am happy to announce that your work has been selected for the 8th Edition of eno Magazine...your work completely blew us away and we are honored to publish your beautiful piece in this year's magazine." I was completely blown away myself when Carajean forwarded this to me. 

Blown away, but not surprised. Tanner has shown to be a gifted writer in the past. In 2017 I posted a poem from his Freshman English class. A Talent Exposed  Not only is he an accomplished writer, tennis player, and cellist, but he is now taking up playing the guitar. I'm thinking... Bob Dylan maybe?

Branch Tanner Archer, IV

See for yourself:

A MOMENT'S BREATH                                              

For life had not been fun, I must admit,
The past few months just pain. A broken vow:
“From loneliness shall I help you remit.” 

One night I left the library. Allow
Me to explain the strange sensation I
Soon felt, the one that changed my life. Just how?

You’ll see, with patience please progress. 
Said I, the house of books receding now. 
Aluminum I rode that night, a spry

Gray bike, for chains and gears cannot break vows.
This friend of mine was one of speed, the tick
Of clocks could not quite part. With time my brow

Grew wet with sweat. Oh no! A slick? A stick?
Not I nor you will know—the cause of my
Short fall is not what matters most. A thick

Abundant patch of grass, a strip nearby
On which my flying form could land devoid
Of pain. No blade of grass could hide the eye

Of strangers passing by. At first, annoyed,
My body-bike conjoined, I only sought
One thing, one goal: the stranger’s eye avoid!

Then something wonderful occurred. No thought
Had I like this before. My laugh and squawk,
No stop to come, my heartfelt laugh, onslaught

Of joy! How much I wished on my night walk
That I could see a sight like his, a sight
Hysterical--the gift of laughing stocks.

Once laughter dies a second phase alights--
The phase of mirth, of happiness content.
My eyes now drift and gazed at skies of night

A tranquil view ignites my heart’s ascent
To lights that soar and wink. No thought had I

Now up above a land and world so bent 

On keeping eyes down low. The stars nearby
From which I once were made held me with care.
A friend I found in life. No time had I,

To fret on this or that. One life to stare
To dream and feel among the Greatest Web
Through which we all connect and share.

This friend and I completed nature’s dance.
A cosmos filled my lungs in just one breath
That changed my life and loneliness remit. 

A note before closing.. there have been instances to remind us of the Crucifixion during this Holy Week. Notably, the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral. I have also been reminded of "resurrection". The millions of dollars already donated to repair the Cathedral is one example.. God bless the people who are willing to assist in its resurrection. We might even think of occurrences in our own lives that have raised us up from our despair. It is a season of overcoming.

Happy Easter,

Saturday, March 2, 2019


It is so easy to get discouraged with the political climate in today's world. Then when we hear the latest disturbing facts regarding how fast the environmental climate is changing for the worst, we wonder how everything is possibly going to turn out okay. If we pay more attention to the young people of today (and less to negative news), and see the areas where so many of them are offering to give their gifts and talents, we might be encouraged. I know I am when I study the children in my own family. I dedicate the following quote to my two oldest grandchildren, and the ones who are coming up behind them - both mine and yours.

"This person before me may be instrumental in saving us from nuclear war. In this person are gifts for the healing of the planet. In this person are powers that can redound to the joy of all beings."..Joanna May, Peace is the Way

My oldest grandchild, Cameron, seen here in costume for singing Christmas carols in the DFW area with the Uptown Carolers. This is something they do every year during the holiday season. (And get paid handsomely for it, too!) 

Cameron is not only the current Director of Lifespan Religious Education at the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, but also attends Seminary at TCU..(Brite). Cameron has a new position with the national Unitarian Universalist organization part-time now, full-time in June, having beat out 30 other applicants. This will entail lots of travel consulting with churches on educational and youth programs. 

In January, Cameron attended a Borderlands Seminar in El Paso, Texas with students of the Brite Divinity School. This photo is taken of people seen at the border of Mexico behind a portion of the "fence" needed to keep them out of the U.S.. To me, it appears that small children (or really skinny adults) could easily squeeze through the bars. 

This group of Brite students was in El Paso "to study the ethical issues around migration/immigration and its effects on the people and communities." This is according to Brite's website at the link above. 

Cameron just sent me this short report on the El Paso trip;
January 9th:
"Donald Trump Jr. using dehumanizing rhetoric, wants to push the narrative that there are 'animals' on the other side of the border. We only met these sweet kids, and couldn't help but wonder what they must think of growing up at this wall. What must it feel like to grow up in harsh economic conditions while observing prosperity just feet away? What must it feel like to watch those border patrol agents drive by vigilantly as they arrest your family members who are merely trying to feed you? The implicit message: You don't belong."
January 10th:
"More reflections from The Borderlands. On day 1, We met with Fr. Arturo Banuelas. One of the most inspirational people of faith I've ever met. After mass and a visit at his home, he took us to The Annunciation House, a migrant shelter which takes overflow from the detention centers, particularly for families. The vast majority were Central American asylum seekers who recounted stories of violence and extreme poverty. The kids were precious. I talked to many of the families in my very limited Spanish, but when words failed, we sang together. Music knows no language barriers. Most of these families were filled with optimism; convinced they had found sanctuary. Unfortunately, I learned most of them would eventually be deported. The El Paso district has a 90% + rejection rate for asylum seekers. Folks literally fleeing for their lives; who earnestly want to work; and are anything but violent criminals. What happened to 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free'?"
Cameron has always been involved in politics one way or another. With the gifts of a beautiful voice, working with and influencing young people, and being spiritually and socially conscious, Cameron will certainly have a positive influence in the future of our country and others.
Audrey Archer and Erick Bohorquez Wedding Photo 6
Erick and Audrey
Audrey Archer and Erick Bohorquez Wedding Photo 4
Audrey, Erick, and Ishan
My second oldest grandchild (she is four months younger than Cameron!) is getting married June 1st. Not only will I gain a grandson-in-law, but I will finally become a great-grandmother - even if it's by proxy!

Audrey, with a Master's Degree of Environmental Management from Duke University, has taken on a new job in recent months. She now works at a utility-scale solar development company, Core Solar, based here in Austin. She is a "project coordinator and the lead strategist for integrating pollinator habitat with solar projects." Her work is too complicated for my aging brain, so the easiest explanation - but certainly not detailed - is that she now locates areas for the company to build solar "farms" where they do not threaten necessary pollinators such as Monarch butterflies, etc.. Her entire career, even summer employment while still in school, has been in one area of environmentalism or another, all contributing to her expertise in her current position.

I've written in the past about Audrey's ballet and musical talents. She currently plays violin in the Central Texas Medical Orchestra, which raises funds for local health-related nonprofit organizations.

Which brings me to her beloved, Erick. Not only is he a professional musician, but he romances Audrey with guitar and love songs..
Audrey Archer and Erick Bohorquez Wedding Photo 5
Erick plays guitar and sings with a band he and his friend Nico formed in 2016. Their debut album "Suelta", which means, "let go" "is an inspiring message in today's political climate where governments want to build walls instead of bridges. Nico elaborates, "the theme of 'letting go' pertains to xenophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia, classism, all of which are driven and propagated by people's fear." He adds, "We are at a turning point politically, where the few in power are trying to maintain their grip on these outdated mindsets, but the overwhelming majority are no longer buying into the divisiveness of the previous generations and are ready for a change. Only by letting go of our fear can we break down these walls."..(excerpt from Broadway World).  You may hear this exciting Columbian funk music at the upcoming SXSW.

With young folks like these, who are so dynamic in their beliefs, talents, and aspirations, how can we not have faith in our future?

Love, Peace, and Hope for the future,

Thursday, February 21, 2019


As many of you are aware, I also have another blog that I keep for my high school classmates. I was going through some old files yesterday and I ran across a printed copy of this post, which I placed on that blog in 2008. I no longer have the back yard in which this occurred, and I really miss my birds. I tried feeding them here, but the squirrels found a way every time to get to any feeder! 

Unfortunately, war and famine still exist in too many places. Yemen is currently one of the most heartbreaking examples. Please donate to your favorite charity. Although help may not be getting through all of the time, as is happening in Venezuela, we cannot give up on the starving -- especially the children. You may go to this site Charity Navigator to check on the ones that are currently helping these areas.


The following occurred in "my back yard" in the summer of 2006... Marilyn
    I continue to see my back yard as a microcosm of the world. I have a difficult time understanding physics, but I once read a book on chaos theory and as a result, I see patterns repeating themselves over and over, down to the minutest particles I’m able to see. A world within a world within a world. As I watch the events unfolding in my back yard, I find myself relating them to what’s going on in the world at large.
    I have a couple of feeders and some water dishes for the birds in my back yard. I love watching my feathered friends, even though I don’t know very much about birds. I often turn to my bird books and field guides to seek information about the birds I am seeing.
   One morning I watched a single small blackbird on the grass behaving strangely. A brilliant red Cardinal would frequently fly down to this little bird. As he did so, the blackbird would ruffle its feathers and flap its wings. I know Cardinals are very territorial and I thought he might be trying to chase the blackbird away. I silently applauded the little bird’s efforts to resist this aggression.
   As I continued to look out my window, I noticed a different behavior between the two birds. The Cardinal seemed to be “nuzzling” the beak of the blackbird. “Hmmm”, I thought, “could all that fluttering and ruffling of feathers be some kind of courting ritual? Between two different species of birds?” Someone must be confused – and it was probably me! I longed for a pair of binoculars to see the pair up close. After watching for several minutes, I realized that the Cardinal was going to the feeder, then coming back to the little blackbird and feeding it!
cardinal at bird bath
(Woodstream Corp.)
    All day that day, I could not stay away from the window. I even put out more birdseed than usual, hoping to keep them around longer. I watched the Cardinal get into the water dish and take a bath, shortly followed by the blackbird. The Cardinal was parenting the little bird and teaching it how to care for itself. I have read stories about some birds that lay their eggs in another bird’s nest and then abandon them. I can’t remember if crows or starlings do that. Perhaps that is how these two came together.
   It has warmed my heart to observe this little miracle in my back yard. I thought of many analogies as I watched this odd couple the next few days, but my first thought was of the wonderful people who are adopting orphaned children from all over the world as well as in our own country. Most of them have so much love to give a child that they never give a thought to the color of its skin.
   I was also reminded of the terrible tragedy going on in the Sudan (Note: The Congo has lost 5.4 million people due to the conflict going on there as well.) and all the hungry, often orphaned little children. We should take lessons from the beautiful proud Cardinal and help feed the people of that beleaguered country as well as help them in their efforts to become independent and care for themselves. With peaceful means, of course. As it goes in my back yard. .. Marilyn Moragne July '06

(July '08) Recently, I was amazed to have the following video forwarded to me. Thank you, Ann Burton, for this touching little vignette. As I watched it, I began to tell myself that this just might be the little Crow I watched being mothered by a Cardinal in my back yard! What do you think?

May you witness miracles in your life today.
Love and Peace,