Lucia has something to say

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


How does one prepare to go to Rwanda? How do I, in just under a couple of weeks, prepare to put my shoes on Rwandan soil? Just before the long rains start.

They call it the Land of a Thousand Hills, or because of the perfect weather Land of Eternal Spring. Mountains and volcanoes. Mountain gorillas. I’ve heard it’s a beautiful country. Beautiful, and, when I looked at a map, I realized it’s remarkably small.

It’s impossible not to think about the genocide in 1994. A tiny country with a current population of about 8 million had one million, yes, ONE MILLION people killed. And there’s no way around it. It’s a country of survivors. And orphans. And refugees.

In the community I’ll be visiting, all of the school girls were killed. ALL OF THEM. How scarred they must be. Scarred for the rest of their lives. Maybe some even regret having survived when so many were killed.

Maybe there is no way to prepare. Maybe all I can do is go with compassion. Maybe tears should well up in my eyes. Maybe...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I am an introvert. I think introverts are often misunderstood. I’m not shy. I’m not afraid to speak my mind, to do a presentation or socialize. But I am most definitely an introvert.

Back in August, Meno wrote about being an introvert. That post has hovered around my head in tendrils ever since. (Click here to read her post.)

I suspect introverts are a minority, but couldn’t find any good data. Maybe it’s 25% of the population, maybe a third, maybe just under half. I’ve wondered if there’s a higher percentage of introverts in blogland than in the general population.

When I read Meno’s post, I felt comforted. Someone else who doesn’t like to talk about the movie on the way out. Someone else who understands that it takes energy to interact with people. Someone who understands the need for down time.

I have to be convinced to go to parties. They exhaust me. After being “on,” I need time to recharge. By myself. With myself.

There are articles on how to go from being an introvert to an extrovert. It’s not a pathology. Some studies even show that our brains may be hard-wired for being an introvert or extrovert.

So what do you think? Are there many introverts hanging around in blogland?

Add: That li'l collage is new from last night.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I played with a very small collage yesterday, and this is what I got. I do things intuitively, so don't start with a final plan. I also work in very small venues--tags (like this), slide mounts, Altoid tins. This morning, I realized this must be about blogging. Words. Tell your story. Fruit on the head. They all point to it being about my blog. I hope if I start working again, it'll get better as time goes by. This feels pretty primitive, but I'm happy with it anyway. Better something than nothing. And I think it might be part of something bigger.

I've developed a rooted fear of putting any photos of myself on my blog. I don't believe that my exterior shell matches my interior, which is what you see here. I don't think I look anything like what you expect. I don't think I'm the age anyone would expect. Or maybe even the ethnicity. And, so, I avoid blog photos (and of meetings with bloggers, which explains why even though Neen lives practically in my back yard, I haven't met her yet).

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Yups and the Kindas

I am amazed.

There are no nopes in your comments. Not one thing that just flat out doesn't apply. That is so very interesting to me.

The Yups
I know you are bright, articulate, well-traveled and adventurous without being foolish or taking unnecessary risks.

I see you as wearing comfortable clothes made of natural fibers, except for some microfleece outerwear. Your shoes are comfortable and will stand up to much walking and some weather.

Books. I imagine you read all sorts of things, across the spectrum.

Free day: relaxing, working on art (make the time!), playing with your corgi.

Love to travel, love to learn, love to wear things that represent your journeys and your discoveries, and your bookshelf is probably quite diverse and intriguing.

A ravenous and eclectic reader.

You would love to dance naked in the rain if you thought the neighbors wouldn't call the cops on you.

You are in touch with the world and yourself.

If you had a free day you would go hiking with your puppy dog.

Enjoy independence and of course you're well traveled.

You have the Great Novel in your head. (Or at least I like to think I do.)

I imagine you wearing bohemian styles without getting way out there.

I would guess you are fairly quiet unless you are comfortable in a situation.

I know that you are no nonsense, you've seen too much to take things otherwise, but you cloak it in whimsy and humor.

You do love reading.

And a late addition:
You hang out on Willy Street more than any other neighborhood in Madison.

The Kindas
You might be a vegetarian. (I guess with the word might, maybe this doesn't belong in the kindas. I eat vegetarian mostly, but in the interest of cultural politeness, I eat meat. If someone has spent their hard-earned money and serves, gulp, goat, I try to be culturally sensitive and eat it. That and sometime I get a craving for a really good burger or breakfast sausage.)

You wear Birkenstocks and can't wait to go to Bonneroo this year. (I have a closet full of Birks and Danskos, but I haven't a freaking clue what Bonneroo is.)

I imagine you doing the opposite on a free day: warm June weather, you sitting on a screen porch with your dog, a book, and an iced tea, pretty much all day, until the book is done and it is dinnertime. (It would be a cold day in Hades when I drink an iced tea, but this scenario with a cerveza works for me.)

Add: The marido has asked me how y'all know that this blog isn't coming from an 11-year-old boy in front of a computer somewhere.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Think You Know?

GR over at Pottersblog asked a question on his blog that intrigued me. What do you think you know about me? Sitting and blogging, I think we all wonder what we’re projecting. What image do you have of me from reading my blog? What do I wear? What kind of shoes are in my closet? If I could only go to one concert this year, who would I see? What books have you read that you think I might like? If I had a day totally free, what would I do? If I had to eat the same thing every single day, what would I eat? What do you know about me? (No fair to take things from that thar last meme!)

Add: After reading a few comments, I feel a little weird about this bit of self indulgence.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Living Dangerously

When my co-workers first read about the marido in The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, not knowing the source, they said that it was a nice piece about his accomplishments. His accomplishments! Were they surprised when they found out what book it came from? You bet!

His “offenses”? Opposing free trade policies in Latin America. Working with Historians Against the War. Being an independent-thinking peace-loving human. He doesn’t proselytize in class. He does live out his values and beliefs.

There are professors who feel like they should have been included and who say they’re left out. The research was weak and random, mostly pulled from web sites. Who got in and who didn't was a crap shoot.

And his students? Here are a couple of comments:

I just found out you were featured as one of the 101 most dangerous academics in America - and that is frikkin cool!!!! Congratulations.
When Joe told me you were on the list of 101 most dangerous professors, I cracked up! I think it's awesome, but mostly funny, and am proud to say I had you for a class....

So there you have it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Me? I'm waiting for a universal passport. One where everyone can go anywhere. And abolishing visas too. It would make my life a lot easier.

These new passport regulations are crazy! Our friends in Canada cannot come into the U.S. without a passport. That should effectively stop the easy flow of people across the border.

And Americans? Only 27% of Americans have a passport. Under the new regs (with the silly name Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative), everyone (including kids) will need a passport when traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. No more Caribbean trips without passports. No more cruises without passports. (I don't do cruises, but for a lot of people, that's the only way they get out of the U.S.)

All of this made me think of my own passport, which I like to look at once in a while, so I pulled it out. It has additional pages, which I wish they'd add from the get go since I'll need 'em.

The great thing about a passport is that you can look at where you've been. When my first passport expired, I felt a sense of loss. But now the one I got two years ago is starting to fill up. There are visas and stamps from (from front to back) Indonesia, Vietnam, Argentina, Australia (where I've never been...only through airports), East Timor, Kenya, Mali, Cameroon, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh (as yet, unused), Ethiopia, the Philippines, Ecuador, Madagascar, and Chile. So, I guess that's where I've been in the last 2 years.

I'll come back to that topic of Horowitz and dangerous professors soon.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


So, I’m a little slow on the buzzer. I was tagged by the lovely QT, who lives not so far away from me, for this meme last week–Wednesday to be exact. I took the liberty of making it 8 things instead of 7. Following QT’s lead, I will tag only one other person–Maggie, you’re it.

Things I Can Do

1. Knit and weave–although my loom is in the basement covered with boxes.
2. Travel. I’m confident that I can figure things out as I go.
3. Sleep through the night practically anywhere, except airplanes.
4. Meditate and get hypnotized with very little effort or practice. Apparently I’m “suggestible.”
5. Read an average of 2.5 books a week.
6. Pack light.
7. Grow cactuses.
8. Make chocolate chip cookies.

Things I Can’t Do
1. Cook.
2. Build a deck.
3. Clean the bathroom.
4. Blow up balloons.
5. Sing–well, I can, but you really don’t want to hear it.
6. Keep my political opinions to myself.
7. Do anything to fix or maintain a car.
8. See scary or bloody movies.

Things That Scare Me
1. Bad dreams.
2. When my dog gets sick.
3. The dentist–I haven’t been there in a while.
4. Driving on snow-covered roads.
5. Fireworks–the noise has scared me ever since I was little.
6. Doing my taxes–I get crazy with anxiety.
7. Inching across streets jammed with motorbikes in Vietnam.
8. Traveling to the world’s most dangerous destinations, which in 2006 included Afghanistan, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia (Chechnya), Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Things To Do Before I Die

1. Go on a road trip without a destination.
2. Learn to play the drums.
3. Do more whitewater rafting.
4. Get a car that doesn’t use fuel.
5. Return to Bali, Cambodia, and Alaska.
6. Get tattoos.
7. Make lots of time for making mixed media art.
8. Get a kayak.

Eight Random Facts

1. I am an American Idol addict.
2. I cannot eat split pea soup–it grosses me out.
3. My cupboard is full of eclectic mismatched dishes, many of them from the 1950s.
4. I am a huge fan of Mike Doughty’s music.
5. I’m married to a professor whose politics David Horowitz does not agree with, so he consequently was listed in “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America” (very McCarthy-esque). He’s in the very fine company of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky.
6. I love being on boats in the ocean, even if it’s cold and rainy.
7. I secretly desire red sparkly Wizard of Oz shoes.
8. I lived in Ecuador for more than a year.

Zigzagging Through the Weekend

1. Took the dog to the dog park.
2. Ate a little chocolate chip cookie dough.
3. Read Chani’s post and had warm fuzzy thoughts about the marvelous and talented Dan Wilson who wrote the song currently on her site with the Dixie Chicks.
4. Google talked with the marido who is in Nairobi at the World Social Forum and just had his camera ripped off.
5. Watched the snow and thought about how much work it will be to shovel when it finally stops.
6. Bought a frame for that mandala painting from Nepal.
7. Thought about Karmic Jay standing up on the 27th. Yeah!
8. Waited for pics of Maggie’s haircut.
9. Did a lot of work for a non-profit I’ve run out of the house for about 8 years. It connects people in fiber arts (weaving, knitting, etc.) with people-in-need working in fiber arts in the rest of the world.
10. Tried to think of a brilliant blog post and failed.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I was having breakfast in Montevideo. A croissant, a slice of pineapple, and eggs that finally came out of the kitchen. And I heard a woman say to a man at the next table, “Why did you put your eggs in a bowl? There are plates there. That’s a cereal bowl.”

Screeech! Like nails on a blackboard. Why do people do this? It doesn’t matter what he’s eating from (well, within reason, I wouldn’t have wanted to watch him eat out of his shoe) or, speaking of his shoes, whether his socks match. Not really. There are a lot of couples who do this thing.

I think I must do it sometimes. Is it the same when absent-minded professor marido (OK, I’ve always wanted to say cutie patootie rock ‘n’ roll husband, but that doesn’t apply.) opens the front door and this transpires...

L: Sweetie?
M: Yeah.
L: Clothes.
M: I’ve got clothes on.
L: Mmm...remember when we talked about solids and patterns?
M (mumbling): To wear solids with plaid?
L: Yeah. Those striped Guatemalan shorts aren’t really working with that blue plaid shirt.

Isn’t that the same thing?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Dog's Superhero

There’s one in every neighborhood. The woman who stands by the door, policing the lawn. Making sure no dog sets foot on and bends a blade of grass, or in winter, no yellow snow appears at the perimeter. Dogs, my own always happy dog among them, do not understand and gleefully jump and run through the snow. And I pretend that this time I don’t even see her.

Her primal opposite, the neighborhood dog hero, is Biscuit Guy. (I wanted to put a cape and sparkles around that, but writing has its limitations. So, just say it in the same tone you’d say Superman!) Biscuit Guy is there on the porch with a big jar of dog biscuits. Except tonight. He wasn’t there. And believe me, there’s no explaining to a corgi. He sat and waited. And waited some more. And I tugged him around the corner. And as soon as he was around the corner, he forgot that Biscuit Guy wasn't there tonight, and he was happy again.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love...and Travel

I started it. And I love her writing. A woman who says, "Because God never slams a door in your face without opening a box of Girl Scout cookies" gets it.

It's made me think about who I am as a traveler.

I like to be alone when I travel. I don't go out of my way to make friends. I like the solitude of a hotel room at night. (I should add then when I'm working all day and often into the evening, I am with people I really like though, and some of them are or become friends.)

I'm not good at languages. I can understand much, much more Spanish that I can speak, and I'm not one of those travelers who ask what all sorts of words are and then repeats them. I try to learn a few polite phrases--thank you, hello--and leave it at that.

I'm not an adventurous eater. I'm pretty conservative, and rarely get sick.

I don't worry much about things going wrong. I figure I can work things out as I go. Left in the airport in Addis Ababa with no money and no ride? Wait. Talk to the cleaning people. Figure it out. Things have a way of solving themselves, given time.

I try to let mistakes go. So I tipped the kid $15 for carrying my bag because I didn't have the money figured out yet? Oh well. Lucky kid.

I don't read much about a country until I get there.

What makes me a good traveler is that I love travel. Deep down in my soul it makes me happy. Travel memories collect in my head. I remember men on a spiritual journey to the Ganges. I think about kids in the orphanage in Madagascar. I recall being given so many mangos and Cokes in one day in Bangladesh that I felt sick. I can hear young men in Mali playing guitars hooked up to the car battery.

Life is sweet. I'm looking forward to Rwanda...and Guatemala.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Life, January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968

Years ago, I visited the Lorraine Motel in Memphis which is now the National Civil Rights Museum. Here, while he was organizing against the Vietnam War and working for the poor, Dr. Martin Luther King’s life was ended. Hotel room 306 is furnished as it would have been when he left it. Today we remember not his death, but his birth.

The media gives us small, selected glimpses of his life. There are the well-known speeches and marches. I want to remember the spirit of responsibility--to work for peace, to enfranchise the poor--the core of what Dr. King taught us.

Because I work with artisans and farmers in developing countries, I did a quick Google search to see what Dr. King said about international poverty. Here's what I found...

He said, the global west was "investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."

Economic unbalance has resulted in parents who cannot provide for their children, people who do not receive basic health care, and so much more.

Today I will continue in my own small way to economically empower those in poverty in the developing world.

What will you do today to carry on his legacy? It can be as simple as writing a check or a letter, or telling your friends and acquaintances what you really think about something that will make the world a better place.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Life's Loose Threads

Sometimes there are too many loose threads in life–things I really want to do, things that would enrich my life--but I never quite get to them.

1. I picked up Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, sat down to start it, and then put it back down.

2. I bought a stunning Thanka Buddhist mandala in Nepal, and it’s still in the cardboard tube I brought it home in.

3. For about 8 months, I’ve been planning to redo my kitchen in bright sunflower paint and Mexican talavera tiles. I haven’t started.

4. For longer than that, I’ve been planning to get a tattoo. The art work is done. It’s ready to go. And I just never get to it.

5. I’ve got a load of stuff for mixed-media art–Altoids boxes, slide frames, bottle caps, and a mountain of paper ephemera–but keep collecting it and never do anything with it.

Why are there things we really want to do--that would really make us happy--that we put off?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Weary Traveler

Apropos of my life, I stopped with a co-worker at The Weary Traveler. Wisconsin in winter is cold. And dark. I’ve been hibernating. Working. And sleeping. And working again. And getting airline tickets.

Sitting there folded in dark wood, funky decor, and other Wisconsinites in the winter dark, I felt for the first time since returning a little more like myself.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Where Are the Problem Solvers?

“Welcome to American Airlines flight blah-blah. We’d like to apologize that on our flight from Buenos Aires to Miami, we’re three flight attendants short, so won’t be able to provide our high quality service as quickly as you may like. We apologize, too, that you have the December entertainment guide, so the movies listed will not match the movies on your in-seat entertainment system.”

“This is your pilot from the cockpit. I apologize, folks, but we’ve been circling Atlanta for so long, that we need to go back to Jacksonville to refuel. I know you’re hungry from being on the plane for so many hours, so I’ll call catering and see if I can get some minuscule bags of snacks to hold you over.”

How do airlines and airports manage to run at all with inefficient systems and archaic communication methods? There are service cutbacks, no flow to moving people or luggage, constant delays, backed up air traffic, and, most bothersome of all, no real people to assist in the airport...only red phones to a reservation center. I don’t expect my luggage will arrive with me when it’s pushed into a comical line in the “group meeting room” after customs. (And it didn’t.)

Granted this is a complex industry with a myriad of external factors over which it has no control, but where are the problem solvers? Is there no one in this industry who can assess the situation and make changes? A lot of businesses wouldn’t last if there was so little problem solving. Warehouses need to be efficient. Customer service needs to be good. Problems need to be solved. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I spent a lot of time in airports and on airplanes both in the U.S. and elsewhere. On this trip, O’Hare (yes, O’Hare) proved to be the haven of calm. That should serve as a reference point for what Miami and Atlanta were like.

And with that, my airport raving is done, and I’ll move on to other topics.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Airport Drones

Over time, I have allowed my feelings to fester about middle management drones in US airports. I am saddened by the loathing I have nurtured, and at the same time, I am weary of a me-first moral de-evolution of the roosters wandering the airport barnyard, cell phones pressed to their ears. Eyes forward, their self aggrandizement and absorption propels them forward, running over feet of perceived lesser beings with their wheeled equipage. Smug bores in their belief to entitlement to more than everyone else.

Maybe they are not this way at home with their families, friends, and lovers. I’d like to believe they’re not, because that would allow me some room for forgiveness of their terrible humanness.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Under Iguazu Falls

It’s like a big kid ride–the boat shoots through the rapids and then under the big waterfall to the left in this photo. Way fun. Way wet. And maybe not too smart to get completely soaked since my luggage did not arrive from Buenos Aires, which meant that I had on the same jeans (the “clean” ones) as I had worn on the plane yesterday, not knowing if dry clothes would be waiting at the hotel. Thankfully, the luggage was delivered sometime today, and now I have all the amenities I didn’t have last night or this morning–shampoo, sunscreen, a dry shirt, shorts, and, um, clean undies and a comb. Lucky me!