Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rolling out the Rose Parade floats

Riding the City of Hope float for T2 test. Photo by Lisa Ely
I had a great time at the Saturday monring street tests for the some of the 2012 Rose Parade floats.  These partcular floats are being created by Phenix Decorating.  I got to ride the City of Hope float for its T2 test (meaning the cocoon was on and the mechanics working). I am following the City of Los Angeles/Natural History Museum collaboration as it is built, and posted a video of its impressive T1 street test in my Tournment of Roses column.

If you love the Rose Parade (and the Tournament of Roses in general), keep watching my column!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Three women, three families

Three families enjoy playing together at Five Acres after being reunified by DCFS.
What would it be like to have your children removed from your home because it was determined that you could not parent them in a safe and nurturing environment?

Then, what would it be like--after months, even years of hard work to sober up, learn parenting and job skills, and create the kind of home your children deserve--to get them back?

I heard three stories last Friday from three amazing women who found the inner fiber to recreate their lives and form strong families.  They didn't do it alone, of course.  A community of social workers, volunteers, and other professionals surrounded them with the soil it took to help them blossom.

They were celebrated by the Department of Children and Family Services at Five Acres. Their stories are being posted on Altadena Patch this week.  I will add the links here as each one posts.

First up is Erica Ward, mother of five, who regained custody of two-year-old Ma-Nijah and six-year-old Kenyae.  Here is her story, in her words.

Anna Flores began to turn her life around before the week was out after her daughter was removed from her home.  She tells her story here.

Brea Sheriff, only 22 years old, was able to keep her infant son and regain her two daughters. Here is her story.

Friday, September 2, 2011

September 11, ten years later

American flag and Tournament of Roses flag taken from the porch of the Wrigley Mansion

Where were you on 9/11?  The fact that we don't even have to put a year at the end of that date speaks to the sea change that day brought to our country, and indeed the world.

Where were you?  I was sitting in the living room, waiting for my kids to be ready to be driven to school.  Gabriel had gone across the street to talk to his friend.  Suddenly, he burst in the door and said, "Mom! Do you have the TV on?  The Twin Towers were bombed!" or something like that.  Maybe he didn't use the word "bomb" but he didn't know what had happened yet, either.

I didn't believe him. I thought he was joking.  But at his insistence, I turned on the TV and saw the towers coming down again and again.

Then I went to church.  Not my church; I was working in a church at the time.  I went to work, but it was a church, and I thought there was no better place to be on that day.  We hastily planned a service for noon, one of the pastors turned off the TV after a couple hours, and we started getting the stories.

There were two men from Boston who had just settled into their hotel when they discovered that their two partners, who were coming on later flights--one on American Airlines Flight 11, the other on United Airlines Flight 175 had certainly perished at the World Trade Center.

There was the young woman, a member of the congregation on a recruiting junket for USC, who woke up in the Marriot on the WTC site and thought she was experiencing an earthquake.  She grabbed her purse, cell phone, and sandals.  When she got to the street, she realized it was much, much more than an earthquake.  Someone got her to a ferry to Staten Island, and a family there took her in for a few days.

The stories are still coming, and they are still new.

With the 10th anniversary of this infamous day coming up soon, I wrote a series of seven articles, "Remembering 9/11", on the local events related to 9/11.  Here they are: