Oh Lord don't let them drop that Atomic Bomb on Me!

Recently I've been putting together a presentation for my book about my uncle, jazz musician Charles Mingus, Jr.  His song "Oh Lord Don't Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me" holds special meaning in light of the tug of war between #45 and North Korea.

While sifting through my old columns this afternoon, I came upon this piece written on a mid-nineties Central Valley spring morning. Even though we're in the throes of Fall, words written then about my childhood fears of nuclear devastation seemed to click with what is happening in today's world. 

Survival

 

Seen on Display at the Pompidou Centre, Paris France

 

Once in a while a writer jots down thoughts that I call "gems unbidden," or gifts from the ethereal. I recently had such a gift which I shall share with you this day.  Enjoy...

Days of Innocence, afternoons of Knowledge

 (From my Op Ed column first published July 5, 1997 - The Stockton Record)

... From my September perch in life, I watch the grandkids romp under hot July skies. Preoccupied with the gigantic bumblebee buzzing our backyard hollyhocks, they are oblivious to the ticking away of life’s precious moments. They cannot wait to grow up.

 

Bulletin from Grown-Upland: Time flies, whether or not you’re having fun!

 

Everything's coming up roses in Sutter CreekI

     

Sutter Creek Touring Group

I'm here somewhere...

 

  Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Mother Lode, Sutter Creek beckons to all who appreciate tranquility of spirit and the undying beauty of nature.  Here is a glimpse of the town as it was nearly twenty years ago---hope you enjoy the ride...

Mingus Hometown Music Festival

The crowd couldn’t have been more delighted when saxophonist Brandon Wright blew the first notes of “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” the legendary world bassist’s tribute to Lester Young. Except when the MI Corps Big Band from Fort Huatuca broke out with a stunning rendition of “Fables of Faubus.”  Wright’s flawless delivery, punctuated with soaring rifs, stirred the crowd to applause, and when the band finished its set, not surprisingly, a standing ovation.

 

Senior Travel: Hawaii, The Big Island

Cecil and another dream car in Volcano, Hawaii

Senior challenges and advantages experienced during our Hawaiian vacation last month. 

  • Advantage #1: Seniors of a certain age do not have to remove their shoes when moving through the airline's pre-boarding security point.
  • Advantage #2: Passengers with medical conditions which slow them down may board planes before passengers without such conditions. This enables early access to overhead bins. Yes! 
  • Challenge #1: Those with defibrillators, or other metal implants that set off security alarms, will be frisked. Enjoy...
  • Challenge #2: Luggage must be checked in using computerized machines. This can be especially challenging for those not computer savvy. Techno-phobes never fear: Airlines have personnel in place to assist you through this daunting process.
  • Challenge #3: Arrive early to allow extra time for these events, and so that you will not miss your flight.

Of Mice and Grandma

Happy New Year, y'all! This morning I woke up humming "Ben", a tune made popular by a young Michael Jackson some years ago. While scouring through old files via my computer, I came across an Op Ed column written for The Record (Stockton), an amusing piece about rodents. My sister Carol maintains "there are no accidents", so the song was a message from the ether: "Do publish the rat column again." So, please enjoy...

The Loneliest Road in America

Notes from my journal captured tantalizing moments while motoring across "bucket list" states in this great country of ours...

For Midge With Love

Today marks the 21st anniversary of my baby sister, Loretta Jean Schooler's, departure from this earth. This, a column I wrote for The (Stockton) Record following her death, I post in remembrance of the one our stepfather called "Midge," (for her petite figure and her place among the siblings.) For Midge, with love...

Channeling The Voice

 

"Sinatra" drawing by Carol Bowie, from "Art and Soul of Jazz, A tribute to Charles Mingus, Jr."

 

We will never forget meeting you after Carol’s 1962 wedding. She’d married your then valet, George Jacobs’s brother, Larry, and invited my then husband and me to the Cal-Neva Lodge on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore to celebrate their union. You treated us royally, providing lodging and front-row center tables for your performance that Saturday night.  Carol’s response when you kissed her hand is imprinted on my brain: “I’ll never wash this hand again!” Thank you, Mr. Sinatra, for all that you were and the indelible mark you left upon us and the world. 

   Excerpted from "Art and Soul of Jazz, A tribute to Charles Mingus, Jr., the Dynasty Revealed At Last, Third Edition

 

 

A trip to Lake Tahoe's North Shore inspired memories long suppressed...

 

 

 

 

 

Art and Soul of Jazz, The Mingus Dynasty Unveiled At Last!

My grandfather, Charles Mingus, Sr. - The Mingus family patriarch

Dedicated to the biblical instruction to spare the rod and spoil the child, Grandpa Mingus decided early on that there would be no rod-sparing in his family. Thus began the Mingus dynasty...

The 2016 Mingus Hometown Music Festival

K

Kudos to Yvonne Erwin, founder of the annual Mingus Hometown Music Festival for another successful event to honor my uncle, Charles Mingus, Jr., the legendary jazz bassist. Pictured here with her husband Alan Hershowitz, Erwin is nearing her goal of erecting a park honoring the bebop pioneer. Nogales, Arizona is Mingus's birthplace. I was honored to be invited to this year's event where I showcased our book, "Art and Soul of Jazz, a tribute to Charles Mingus, Jr. The book features never before published letters & photos, given to me by my mother, Vivian Mingus, Charles's oldest sister. Stunning art work by my artist sister, Carol Bowie, separates this book from previous Mingus biopics. Like Yvonne says in her foreword: "Uncle Charles would be proud!"

Cruising Desert Corridors

   

A trip to Borrego Springs delivers all you could ask for in a desert getaway. This Spring, thanks to record rainfalls, the Southern California desert is alive with orange-tipped ocotillo. creosote, yellow, lavender and orange wildflowers, and creatures native to its unique climate. It even inspired a poem in honor of one of my favorite jazz greats...

 

On Death & Dying and Seasons Flying

Feosole, Italy near Florence 

 In retrospect, dreamlike, all time seems to have rushed by, but I didn’t notice the rush, the whisking by of the moments as I consumed them with things petty.  I used to scoff when the elders said “time is precious, use it wisely!”  Youth scorns such advice.  But old age demands it.  

Happy Happy New Year - It's 2016 and all's well!

Happy New Year...

North to Alaska

Strange how President Obama seems to follow us around the world. Let me explain: Last September we missed our beloved leader by just two days when visiting Talinn in Estonia via the Baltic Sea. He'd left the day before our arrival. I'm sure had he known we were coming, he'd have lingered a while longer. Today, I learned that Mr. Obama is in Alaska to discuss the global climate changes and to rename the country's tallest mountain, Mount McKinley, to Denali. We left Southeast Alaska a week ago, once more narrowly  missing our leader. 

Margie Baker, Let her entertain you...

Dr. Margie Baker: Can a woman from a little Southern town in Texas find happiness in the metropolitan city of San Francisco?  The answer is: "Yes!"  I recently caught up with the lovely chanteuse at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, and you'll never believe what happened. Your job now:  Catch her if you can!!!

On the Road: The Kindness of Strangers

 

Cecil and Ben at the Mojave Airport

Cecil's Long EZ reunion; pictured with new owner Ben  

 

Last month, feeling the combined pull of cabin fever and wanderlust, we threw our gear into the car and headed south, trailing swarms of winged birds and wild geese. Enroute we experienced two very significant events that restored our faith in the kindness of the human heart. 

 

New Year Musings

 Before we flip our calendars to 2015, I’d like to share highlights from my third European journey, one that involved much flying. If you’ve followed my past meanderings, you’ll know that a flying phobia limited my travels as a younger woman. Now I’ve thrown caution to the winds and am subject to board an airplane at any time. Come fly with me on my latest getaway. It happened this past September.

September has always been a favorite vacation month for me. The crowds have dwindled due in part to youngsters’ return to schools, the late summer weather is most forgiving, and twinges of fall color the landscape, as leaves of red, green and gold, buoyed by gentle breezes, cross our paths.

Midsummer Wanderlust Enhances Drought Awareness

Hey, wanna go outside and play? Me too! But we gotta be careful these days: There's a drought going on and we're caught in the middle of it! Just check out your local lakes and see for yourself...

Maya Angelou: And still she rises...

 

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1970."

"Please let us so live that we will not endure decades of useless virtue and inaction. Liberate the human mind and spirit, beginning with your own."

Maya Angelou

Mexican Travel - How Safe Is it?

Increased drug cartel activities have been much publicized lately. Many find these intimidating, and the impact upon the once thriving tourist business is evident through their diminished numbers. As recommended by the State Department, we stuck to the toll roads on our February journey through several Mexican states. What struck me most about the toll roads was the increased presence of young military and local law enforcement personnel. Often there were caravans of them, and all wore bullet proof vests and carried automatic weapons. According to one online travel expert, however, 'if you're not into drugs, you have nothing to worry about.'

 

You Gotta Have Heart

February, the shortest month of the year, is crammed with celebrations. Starting with frenzied festivities around a shadow seeking woodchuck, and ending--every four years--in a role-reversal exercise aptly named Leap Year, this month is packed with action.

 

Here are some practical tips for your next reading...

Biting your nails about that upcoming reading? Stage fright got you cringing? I know how you feel, because this just happened to me, a person who as a teacher and columnist has, in the past, spoken before groups numbering in the hundreds. But wait, I just bolstered my own self-confidence with a few helpful hints garnered from experience. With Valentine's Day and my next reading fast approaching (check out this poster), I needed to give myself a quick fix.  I think these tips will work for you too!

So why did you write that book, and what happens now?


The Eiffel Tower, Paris

When an old friend and seasoned writer asked me that question on learning that I'd completed my first memoir book, Granny Does Europe: A Love Story, I had to pause before answering.

     Why did I write this story? I found myself searching for an answer--an honest one. And then the words came:

     "Well, I wanted to share my experience with the world, and send the message that as long as we live and breathe and have our being, we are becoming. In touch with our spirits we grow, we soar. In touch with our hearts, we love."

 

Midge, My Sister Loretta Jean Schooler-Hillmon

She was a thing of beauty, thus a joy forever--if only in our memories. This tribute to my baby sister, Loretta Jean Schooler Hillmon (1941-1995) comes during our national observance of breast cancer month. To quote the hospice nurse who coordinated Loretta's  care during her final days:  "It was not the cancer that killed her, it was the treatment." Today we have improved treatment approaches to this devastating disease; may the quest continue...

A Bishop's Life

A Bishop's Life (Excerpted from my autobiography "Wattspawn" (c)

He was the unexpected child, the “change of life” baby who both delights and confounds its parents, arriving just as the cradle is about to be relegated to the woodpile behind the barn.  Ah, but his would be the brightest spark of them all!

Just Ask A Black Nurse

 

A habit is a habit is a habit--except when it's not! Consider my experience in caring for a sick nun, and draw your own conclusions...

Loss in the Key of Life

Loss in the key of life

Yesterday while browsing my hometown paper's obituaries, I came across the picture of a junior high and high school classmate who'd passed away on the Fourth of July. This set off an internal chain reaction that could not be contained...

Granny Straddles the WorldWide Web

Granny Does Europe: A Love Story will capture your heart as you journey through some of Europe's most fascinating attractions. Speed through Paris's Metro underground, watch a never-ending stream of street entertainers dazzle your senses; taste pizza prepared by genuine Italians across from Rome's coliseum. The book contains 32 images to enhance your journey.

Checklist: Granny's Ten Tips for Senior Travel in Europe

 Check it out: Granny's Ten Tips for European Travel. Tweak this checklist and make it your own. Each of us has different needs and priorities. Most importantly, whether this is your Bucket List trip, or you are a seasoned traveler, be good to yourself!

Mingus Hometown Festival to Feature Saxophonist Charles McPherson

 

"There was something inside of him, a decency, in spite of his being volatile. If he felt you had that decency he actually knew that and responded to it as well. That made anything else he did his redeeming quality." 

 Charles McPherson on Mingus, excerpted from "The Art and Soul of Jazz: a tribute to Charles Mingus, Jr."

Seige: A tribute to the Million Man March

Seige: A tribute to the Million Man March and to all of the marches to come...
 

by Alicia Schooler-Hugg

 The Million Man March was a gathering of African-Americans in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1995. Initiated by Louis Farrakhan, it took place on and around the National Mall in the city. A leading group of civil rights activists, The National African American Leadership Summit and the Nation of Islam working with scores of civil rights organizations, including many local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (but not the national NAACP) formed the Million Man March Organizing Committee. The founder of the National African American Leadership Summit, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. served as National Director of the Million Man March. (Excerpted from Wikipedia).

"Siege" is a tribute to that march. Below is the last stanza of the tribute, which captures its essence:

“Listen and hear us well.  It was for you we lived and shouted the messages crafted to guarantee a place for your children and their children’s children.  Truth is life’s vintage byproduct, its best lesson.  Your task is simple, yet as hard as that of any living creature:

Seek out the great truths, embrace them, live them, and note their relationship to one another.  For without truth your lives will not have mattered and you will have cast not a stroke upon the canvas of eternity.  Life’s basic truths are eternal.  Live your own truth moment by moment and your crops will be bountiful.

 

 

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