Monthly Archives: April 2014

Whining is over, maybe

After whining yesterday about my frustration over the paper work required to get my stipend, I forgot about that today while working at the Indigenous Culture Day in Greenfield.

It’s been awhile since I reported for that town, and much has changed.

I had some awesome volunteers who worked hard and I think had a good time.

I sure did. One woman, an immigration attorney had a chat with another volunteer who is headed to law school. A Defense Language Institute soldier showed up to help, and two kids from Greenfield High School, were there as well. There were others, including one high school student who stepped in for about one half hour.

The Indigenous folks who live in Greenfield come from various parts of Mexico and speak their own languages, and find it difficult sometimes with the rules and customs of a different country. These folks don’t speak different dialect; they are total different languages, and they come to the U.S. with no English or Spanish language skills, including the other Indigenous languages.

There has been a conflict with the long time Mexican immigrants with the newly arriving Indigenous people. This was the first cultural event to showcase the culture and to exchange friendships with the long-time community members.

The dancing was awesome, and the costumes colorful and different. One group had head pieces made from long pheasant feathers.

The children who came up to the arts/craft booth where I worked were so cute and polite. Some could barely see above the table, but were focused on their drawings.

It was a good day.

I admit it


At the state I’m in with red tape and all kinds of other types of things that have tied me up into knots, I admit: AmeriCorps was a mistake for me.

I cannot wait until I have sprung loose from this ten month hell.

Last night I was all ready to sit down at a table to help guests at the gallery purchase paintings, when my chair was taken away by one of the office, young whipper snappers, who said it didn’t look nice to have a chair at the table inside the gallery.

My legs and feet are in pain and after the night was over, I could hardly walk to my car after standing for nearly 5 hours. I liked the event, however. But I have had to rest all day today and I’m still in pain.

Then this morning, after deciding to take one whole day just to get my paper work ready to receive the educational award for the Cambodian experience, I’m dizzy and worn out trying to figure it all out. I’m the guy in the circus who spins plates, trying to get them all spinning at the same time, but the first one falls off before the last one gets to spin. I finally put my head down and cried.

I do not like myself when I feel sorry for myself and when I feel defeated, and when I’m not sharing something positive. But I’m human, too. (I think)

And…tomorrow is another day of work. I’ll be helping families have a good time on Easter Sunday, when I don’t get to spend my time with my family.

Sorry, but I am feeling sorry for myself…please forgive.



Student artists had first gallery opening today

King City High School, in the heart of the valley where there are more farm working families, and a school that sill has an art program. The art program is through a teacher who is dedicated to her students, as she has been for over 30 years.

The student artists got some money donated to frame their art work; photography, sketching and painting, and the artwork  looked beautiful having in the gallery.

So today, these kids had a gallery opening, complete with snacks and a musician who played a flute. They were shy at first and sat together in a room by themselves, talking and eating their snacks.

I mentioned to one of the board members that the kids ought to be in the room with their artwork, talking about it, explaining their process.

Once they did that, they all became more open, and I felt really got their confidence raised from the positive attention.

That’s not all: 16 pictures were sold.

I felt bad for those kids whose paintings didn’t get sold, but that is life, isn’t it?

Even if their work didn’t get sold, they did get positive feedback.

I want to add here, that this is the kind of work I love to do: hosting gallery openings and hearing the appreciation of the guests for the artists.  

Indigenous culture day

The town of Greenfield has been the settling point for several groups of Indigenous-to-Mexico people who work in the Salinas Valley fields. They have a colorful culture, each with a different type of dance, art, music and food. Each group has their own language, and do not have English or Spanish knowledge when they cross the border and find their way to Greenfield.

I have been searching everywhere for volunteers to work on Easter Sunday at the Indigenous Culture Day for the Arts Council of Monterey and First Night Monterey  Children’s Art/Craft table. One supervisor said we’d need 15 people, while one of the event planners said we have enough with the 8 people I have lined up, including myself.

The day promises to be lots of fun with dancing, music and food. I love to learn about various cultures and Sunday will satisfy that desire. But no Easter celebration for me this year.



So proud of a young man

Brandon Marquez was just elected the Chief Controller of the Associated Student Body of San Jose State University.

I couldn’t be prouder of him, if he was my own son/grandson. I met him while I was a reporter and interviewed him on several occasions. He beams confidence and always has a smile on his face.

Some folks are just destined to take the lead, and I believe it is a gift. He certainly is an intelligent young man, and has a welcoming, charming personality.

I ran in to him in Monterey at Peets coffee shop that happened to be the same evening I picked up my roommate for the first time. He was so kind to her and I was so happy to see him.  He’s always in a good mood.

I mentioned him to the reporter who took my place, and I hope she’ll interview him. He’s  good example for other young people his age.

Watch this young man continue the path he’s on and I would not be surprised if he’ll become the governor of the state. Or, why not the president. He could do it.

Yea Brandon Marquez!


….and more paper work

Well now, it seems one entity doesn’t know what the other entity does. Notice I didn’t say one hand doesn’t know what the other hand does….I hate cliches.

I have done all the paper work for the Cambodian experience and even have the flight tickets. The initial agency I worked with and who sponsors the Cambodian adventure, Global Services Corps, told me to send in a note from my local supervisor that I will finish all the hours to receive the stipend..called the Segal Award.

But recently when I checked with Global Services they said I probably wouldn’t need to send anything to Albany University (the second agency) because they have already enrolled me.

So I asked Albany University if there was anything else I needed to do, and  this morning I got a shocking letter from Albany University saying I owe over $4,000 and I better pay it on time or the interest will keep multiplying.

I thought this might be the sign that the letter from the supervisor was due. So she wrote a nice letter to me and I sent it off to Albany only to be told that I must work it out with AmeriCorps to pay them the fee.

Meanwhile, the agency I’m working with, Global Services Corps isn’t responding to my request for help. This comes after I have finished getting everything in, in time.

But I sent a copy of the Albany letter to Global Services Corps and to an AmeriCorps supervisor up in Sonoma. What I was told in the beginning of this process seems to have changed now that it’s time for their payday.

Stay tuned.





Paper work, paper work, paper work, paper work, paper work, paper work

It will end soon. The paper work required to demonstrate that the hours put into making events successful by recruiting way more volunteers that are needed, makes me feel like I’m being punished.

Today I interviewed a potential replacement for my position and I stressed to her that there is a lot of paper work. “Paper Work”  She said? I don’t think that went over too well.

She’s a college grad with a master’s degree in International studies with emphasis in Russian government. She’s fluent in the language.

Well, whatever she does, a term in AmeriCorps will look great on her resume.

As for my resume, if I added anything more, people won’t believe it. So why bother?

Bird talk by Grandpa Jones

I started out giving the big shiny black birds in our back yard, nice sweet cake crumbs, and they seemed to love it. They competed with smaller birds. They are the pigs of the air, but it’s fun to watch them.  They are very cautious, and look around to see if there is any danger lurking by, until they get close enough to grab a bite and fly away. I imagine they fly to other birds and brag about the party at Laureen’s place.

But then I ran out of cake so I began giving them bread instead.

When they discovered it wasn’t cake, t actually heard one speak in disgust.

He said, “cheep”.

I’m cheap, you say,  bird? What do you expect for nothing?

Bad joke, I know but it’a  left over memory from my Grandpa Jones.

Cheep, cheep.

Time o’clock

When I began thinking about today’s blog, because it’s all about time, I was reminded of Ronnie, my youngest son’s learning curve at telling time.

At around the age of 5, he thought he was pretty smart when he kept saying, “It is Time O’Clock.”

Well it’s almost time o’clock for me, because I have eleven more weeks and a few days until the AmeriCorps experience is over. I must have 1700 hours turned in, and some of those in particular categories by the end of my ten month term, to be eligible for the $5500 stipend.

The stipend is what I’ll use to get me to Cambodia for the Buddhist Immersion program and where I’ll teach English to Monks. If I don’t make the hours, I won’t get the complete stipend. It’s a must to get to the finish line.

I need 564 more hours, and if my math is correct, that is an average of 51+ hours a week up to the end. That will make for long hours. I will be attending the many events for which I have recruited volunteers to get credit for the time. Then, at the same time, I’ll be getting ready to move my belongings either to Goodwill, my family or my storage unit.

Time o’clock will get my bed, but he’ll have to take his old bed out first. He’ll also get some dishes and linens.




Jan, my aunt who was married to my Uncle Art, my mother’s brother, died the day before yesterday at age 91.

She was a classy lady with a determination to live life her own way. Let’s talk about the classy part, for that is how I want to remember her.

Jan, was really named Jane, but my family knows her by Jan for  a funny reason, and completely understandable if you knew Uncle Art. When Art met Jan, he misunderstood her because of her Texas accent, and Jan it was for him and for his family from then on. Jan never minded that, in fact, liked it.

Jan’s home in Citrus Heights was white; white walls, white couch and chairs, white throw rugs and white dog. Her house was never dirty or messy; but she always complained about how ‘dirty’ it was.

She always presented a pretty picture of herself; hair in place, clothing up to current fashion trends, and real jewelry – no costume stuff.

So one day, I showed up on Easter. She had booked us in a very nice restaurant and because I didn’t want to bother her, I took a motel room nearby. But because I worked up until the time I had to leave from work to drive to Sacramento, I didn’t have time to pack.

Not a problem, because of the fashion outlets near the motel. So when I arrived in Sacramento, I found some of the stores opened and purchased a nice pair of white pants and a white jeans jacket. I thought I looked pretty sharp the next day with my new white outfit.

On Easter Sunday, the next day, we had to wait at the bar because the restaurant didn’t have our reservations, which put Jan out a bit, but we were determined it would be a good day.

So, the bar tender asked us if we would like something more while we waited. And I, trying always to make people laugh, said. “not unless you can think of something.” And he said, “I can.” I said, “Ok, what?’ Giggle, giggle, giggle.

“Well, you can take that sales tag off your jacket.”

It was hanging down on a long string from the  inside of the top of the arm’s sleeve. Anyone could, and probably some did,  watch it swing.

Oh, my gosh, I pulled that tag off, and put it in my pocket and laughed a self conscious laugh, and looked over at Jan. She was mortified: it was written on her face.

I just kept on like nothing happened, but wondered why that had to happen while I was with her? A bunch of my silly friends would have laughed it up.

So Jan, classy as she was, was not a happy person, even though she did have a sense of humor when she allowed it. She was depressed for as long as I have known her, and often made me feel sad after spending time on the phone with her. She just couldn’t rise above her sadness.

The classy lady is now at peace.