Cultivating Hope Amid Corona Virus (COVID-19) Chaos w Video by da-AL

2020 is taking a bit of a nosedive, no? So let’s celebrate the new year again! My husband was born in Iran, where it’s Nowrooz, a non-religious holiday. Here we are with our Persian New Year’s setting…

Here we are with our Persian New Year’s setting.

Spring and new years are laden with blossoms of promise. Regardless of what occurs outside ourselves, they’re opportunities to release our pasts and do what we can to foster good times ahead.

In addition to Iran, other countries participate in Persian New Year (aka Nowrooz, which is spelled many ways due to varying phonetic translations). The list includes Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, and Albania. Even Japan celebrates a version of Nowruz!

Here’s a speech about Persian New Year I performed as a member of Toastmasters…

My wish for you, dear reader, that the future brings only the best to you and your loved ones.

How do you cultivate hope and celebration during uncertain times?

Squatting Whole Body Health Benefits and Politics plus Video by da-AL

Picture me sitting on my haunches atop a conference table, assigned to perform an entertaining Toastmasters speech titled, “The benefits and the Politics of Squatting”…

Can you do this and smile? Image by edwindoms610 from Pixabay.

The subject first piqued my interest years ago, when my mom moved in with us. To make things extra comfy for all, we had some construction done on our snug home.

Each morning, a crew of men assembled under our backyard gazebo. Aged from early twenties to eighties, each hailed from Cambodia.

What intrigued me was the way they waited for each other to show up. In totally relaxed full-squats, the gentlemen sipped coffees, munched pastries, chatted, and smoked. Once all were there, they stood — not a one groaned or complained of creaky bones.

Lunch involved more of the same. They full-squatted as they passed around freshly steamed rice with fragrant grilled meat and veggies. Afterward, still squatting, they finished with smokes and maybe a sweet.

Squatting was still on my mind when, a couple of years later, I broke my knee twice in the same year. Torn cartilage, fractured bone, stretched tendon, blah, blah, blah. Ouch!!!! and Ohno!!! don’t begin to cover it.

Enter, Francisco Rufino, a gifted yoga instructor who pointed out that squatting keeps people in India free of knee and back problems.

Voila! Thanks to his suggestion that I squat five times a day, for thirty seconds each time, as I watched TV, my knee is so great that I never needed the surgery that two doctors prescribed! Yesterday I went for a terrific jog, no problemo!

By aligning muscles and organs from toes to neck, squatting aids in…

  • Getting rid of hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and hernias.
  • Preventing heart attacks caused by straining on European-style toilets.
  • Alleviating incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
  • Making pregnancy easier.
  • Guarding reproductive organs, including protecting against prostate cancer.

So why don’t we do it more? When I gave the speech, at least one audience member expressed disgust. My h-a-unch is that we think we’re too good for it — and that includes politically. This Korean woman, married to an Anglo man, explains his chagrin when she and her family socialize while squatting.

Would your family be embarrassed if you performed full squats?

Blog Tips, Free Mind/Body Apps, 1st Youtube, Anti-Viral Dog by da-AL

Juggling writing my novels, blogging, and daily life is a huge challenge. This week I (sort of) chunked the task of researching the business end of blogging. That voyage into Google-ville unearthed a meandering myriad of fascinating stuff worth sharing with you…

This Aboriginal woman of Australia’s NPY region may be listening to Smiling Mind’s free meditation app in English or Pitjantjatjara or Ngaanyatjarra!

Blogging: In most any timezone, folks check their social media on weekdays, around lunchtime. According to these statistics gathered by Sprout Social, most of us bloggers are wisest to post mid-week, mid-morning. Forget about posting on weekends.

Social media: Trendwatchers at Pew Research Center report that everyone everywhere is increasing their social media engagement. Among all ages, Facebook is used most and most frequently, with Youtube gaining behind them.

Mind: “The greatest gift you can give to people is your full attention,” according to the Australian guy on Smiling Mind. Meditation, mindfulness, stress relief, call it what you will — everyone tells us we need it. Smiling Mind coaches us to do just that, in English and even in Aboriginal languages! — no credit card required to upload it and use its free version indefinitely!

Body: Mindfulness can help us stay fit — MyFitnessPal tracks and calculates our eating, nutrition, and activity. No credit card required to use its gratis edition forever.

1st YouTube: Ever wonder about it? Ta-da! Here it is, originally uploaded on April 23, 2005…

Anti-Viral Dog: Crisis brings out the worst — and the best! — in us, like how whoever kindly made this video wanted us to smile…

What are your best blogging hacks and fave truly free apps?

Textile Protest, Alt-Reality Animation, Nature Dreams: MOLAA by da-AL

The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, is a great way to spend a rainy day with visiting family!

What a delight to visit MOLAA with Angela!

On display were arpilleras — textiles sewn by the women of MEMCh (Movement for the Emancipation of the Chilean Woman) to protest the 17-year-long fascist regime of Agosto Pinochet. The dictator seized control of Chile with the backing of United States President Nixon in 1973 and further support of later U.S. President Bush’s family. (More about the exhibition here)…

Bullets rain down on seekers of justice in Chile…
Women had to be creative to get word out about the killings…
“Children search trash cans for bread.” “Not everyone has running water.”
Books are burned…
All are forced to worship the dictator…

Dreams, politics, and beauty merge in the art of Argentine artist Matias Duville

Transcendent and political art by Argentine artist Matias Duville…

Award-winning animation was also on display — the alternative worlds created by Quique Rivera, a Puerto Rican animation artist, sculptor, photographer, and film director. His sculptures such as these…

Quique Rivera sees things differently…
His underwater world is like no other…

…created videos such as these! Also, more about the Museum of Latin American Art is here and here and here.

Where’s your favorite place to take visitors?…

Part 3 of 3: British Museum, where dwarfism is divine n Video by da-AL

There’s much to learn at the British Museum! (Our trip there began with Part 1 and Part 2, an overall tour of London, plus we visited the Kelpies of Scotland, and later BathAvebury henge, and Stokesay Castle.) For instance…

Here lies a favored retainer. Nefer, a.k.a ‘beautiful’! He was buried with extra care alongside First Dynasty kings. He has achondroplasia, the most common type of dwarfism. Ancient Egyptians regarded dwarfism as the mark of divine favor. Highly esteemed, little people often served as personal attendants to the king, in charge of his clothing and jewelry. Egypt, c. 3150 – c. 2890 BCE

“When you meet someone different, what part of their day do you want to be?” That’s what filmmaker Jonathan Novick asks in, “Don’t Look Down on Me,” his documentary about his experiences in New York City as a little person.

Tang Dynasty tomb figures. Horses and camels weren’t indigenous to 700 BC China.
Yellow-painted jar in the form of an animal, probably 12th-13th century AD, from Soba (former capital of the medieval Nubian kingdom of Alodia).
Goddess? Priestess? Ritual participant? Whatever her duties, she’s covered in Nile Valley elements; a hippo on her belly, symbols probably for water and plants, collared hunting dogs on her back, and jewelry around her wrists, ankles, and neck. Early-Middle Predynastic, before 3900-3300 BC.
The statuette sports even black dogs on her back!
Lookin’ cute for the afterlife — or the beach? Back in the day, these ivory figurines might have sported wigs and lapis lazuli eyes. Egypt, 3900-3300 BC.
Here’s an artifact — a drawing of myself that I did when I was tiny!

Do you have art that depicts you?

Part 1 of 3: the British Museum (plus silly video) by da-AL

The British Museum is amazing!!! Join my husband and me for the eye-opening stroll we enjoyed…

The British Museum’s outside isn’t nearly as interesting as its inside.

During this vacation, we visited jam-packed London, Bath, Avebury Henge, Stokesay Castle, and the Kelpies of Scotland. The British Museum (here’s Part 2 and Part 3 of our trip to see it) is best known for the Rosetta Stone that helped scholars decipher ancient Egypt’s hieroglyphic writing. Here’s the front of it at another site. So dense was the crowd that I could only snap these photos…

Rosetta stone from the back.
Rosetta stone from the side.

There’s much of the relief sculpture from the Parthenon, a Greek temple finished in 438 BC. (Btw, ever visited Tennessee’s Parthenon, from 1897?)…

My fave art at the Parthenon’s frieze is on the left, wearing a llama t-shirt…
The Parthenon frieze is huge! This is only a small portion.

On it, the faces of hunters are differentiated by their postures, rather than by their features…

Galloping around the Parthenon…
Sacrificial animals on the frieze weren’t thrilled about their lot.
Iris, the winged messenger goddess, roomed at the Parthenon.

The British Museum’s collection is overwhelming. We only had time to see a smattering of it…

Clay mastiffs warded off devils and demons in about 645 BC, northern Iraq.
This god has appreciated his mastiff’s protection from evil since 800-700 BC, in southern Iraq.
Lely’s Venus (Aphrodite) does what she can to stay strategically covered. She’s a copy from 1st or 2nd AD.
Compared to lots of other items at the British Museum, these poker-style game cards from Iran, are freshly minted — they’re from 1800-1900.
This protective spirit lost his sheaf of twigs. Palace of Sargon II, Khorsabad, Iraq, 710-705 BC.

After the museum, we meandered across the street — where a gift shop offered a different type of show…

What’s the silliest thing you’ve seen in or around a museum?…

Jam-Packed London, England by da-AL

London, England, is a sprawling city packed with everything from art and food to shopping and royalty. The transit system is terrific, so for the few days that my husband and I visited, we let our feet guide our itinerary. A city of immigrants, the bed and breakfast we stayed at in the Shoreditch district was run by a New York couple. Our first morning began with a view from their balcony…

Many of its most famed sights are near each other, a riot of shopping, eating, history, theater, and even China Town, all walking distance of each other. It had been ages since we saw our dear cousin Giulia, Italian by birth and now a Londoner (read about her beloved mom here)…

We had a fabulous time with her brother, cousin Stefano (2nd from right) and his friend, Federico, who was visiting from Italy…

The Victoria Memorial is at the end of The Mall road…

Just around the corner, we happened onto an unexpected marvelous reprieve from our travels — classical musicians practicing at St Martin-in-the-Field church…

Rain didn’t dampen the abundance of lovely sights…

Our night ended with a spectacular view!

We also saw the British Museum here and here and here, the Roman Baths, Avebury henge, Stokesay Castle, and the Kelpies of Scotland.

Have you been to London? What impressed you most, or what would you like to see there?