Straddling The Fence or “Agent of Change!”


There was once a young, naive, loving, peaceful Chicanita who reluctantly left the comfort of her Mama’s bosom and went away to college at 17 years old. As the eldest this was very difficult for her Mama,  and her, but her Mama knew she had to push her out! 

Her eyes were filled with a strong desire to change the world by helping her people. Deep-down inside she always knew even if she didn’t change the world to improve things for Chicanos, she would be changing her immediate world (her family). 

She felt she was going away to college to educate herself and to improve her life for herself and her family. Who started off as very very poor field laborers and then became small business owners. 

She dreamed of traveling  to far away lands, to eat exotic foods, to someday have a beautiful home and all that the American Dream encompasses. 

She had a good and simple life till her 17 years of life. She was very protected and perhaps overly sheltered. Life was simple which entailed going to school, returning home and helping her Mama around the house and with her siblings, playing, visiting with her Abuelitos on weekends, which  was her joy. She was “somewhat” street smart, but life had much to teach her.

It wasn’t long after arriving in college, that she and other new Chicano students were told they were one of the selected few, they were, if you will “Chicano elitist!” And they were also known as  “agents of change,” she liked the term and though it was a good thing. 

Only to find out that with this opportunity of being an “elitist agent of change” came the responsibility and obligation that they should one day return to their communities to improve other’s lives.

This was inculcated and indoctrinated in her from day one and now she felt traumatized, Chalé she didn’t want to return to her hometown, when she had worked so hard to get out of there! She started to feel a sense of guilt that if she didn’t return she was somehow letting people down.

She was invited and considered going to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade who were attempting to show solidarity with the Cuban Revolution by working side by side with Cuban workers. Something inside her told her not to go, and she was happy she did not go to Cuba. 

She saw many Chicano professors preaching and marching to Chicano Power and Viva La Raza and returning in the evenings to their Anglo wives in the suberbs in their  SUV’s. 

She saw some older Chicano professors exploiting young naive Chicanitas mainly from the San Jouquin Valley. Several even became pregnant. Chicanas were viewed as sexual objects, cooks and caretakers! 

She saw violence at peaceful marches, perpetrated by her people. 

But, putting all this aside what was most crushing and disillusioning was that she felt she wasn’t only attempting to educate the “white man” but she felt she was also educating her Chicano brothers on how women should be treated and that we were more than the roles they relegated us to as care-takers or the “cocineras” (the cooks)! In her own home she had fought for the rights of women in her family, that they be recognized as more than “tortilla and baby makers!”

At Sacramento State the mujeres  quickly learned that it wasn’t about the men relegating! We took charge to do things on our own. We were then labeled as lesbians. So if we weren’t subservient to the men’s wishes we were lesbians, “marriconas” or Macho Women!

The women were the real “movers and shakers!” We were the real organizers; we wrote, we planned, we organized, we delegated and directed, we made things happen! 


I never saw any real changes and the status quo continued, after six years, I left Sacramento State defeated,  but at the same time exhilarated and scared for my first teaching position.

This wore on me and it was very challenging, it bothered me  profoundly. I saw racism, sexism and all of the weaknesses of society, in my own people whom I had placed in high esteem.

So don’t talk to me about revolutions or movimientos! I marched with Cesar Chavez and Delores Huerta. I protested against Coors and Safeway, and other companies.
Which is what is supposedly occurring now! If you interviewed 20 people on the streets and asked them what they are fighting for, you’d get 20 different answers and you have some followers who have no clue why they are out there protesting!

I believed that my people wanted equality in issues relating to  better educational opportunities for their children, job opportunities, political representation and farm workers right’s to name a few. Forty-four years later we are still fighting for those same things. Many good things have been accomplished but…… not enough. Obviously were not doing something right! Perhaps just perhaps the tactics have to be changed. I’m reminded of what the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over with the same results! 

I reflect and see some of my old college friends still in the same location, same outfit, same thinking, smoking “grifa,” still writing proposals to receive grant monies from the government! Still singing the same song of “De Colores.”

I did became an educator and pray to my Lord that I positively affected some of my students.  I know many had a positive impact in my life.

I also feel very strongly committed to changing men’s views on the  roles of La Mujer Mexicana. But, this must start at home, since birth. This is another trait you cannot learn in the classroom, I don’t care how many women’s study courses you take! 

At this point in my life the most important revelation that has come through very strongly is that I needed “Lord Power” not “Chicano Power” in my life! I have always known my Lord, but I did not have a personal relationship with Him. Had the Lord been a priority in my life I would have been a much stronger and secure person and perhaps not had questions on identity, who I was and how I fit in. I have always felt I straddled the fence (no pun intended); having been born here from a Mama born in Chicago and a Papa born in Guadalajara. Growing up I had a a strong connection and influence to Guadalajara, Mexico.

In retrospect, I felt my whole college career had been extremely “isolated,” by my doing,  it’s not anything anyone forced upon me. Nonetheless, I now regretfully recognize I couldn’t name one Anglo friend or acquaintance I made while in college. I had Black friends. 

It wasn’t until after I left college that I realized I learned more from the people I disagreed with than all the “yes” people I was surrounded by. 

I now question affirmative action and bilingual education; what has changed, what has improved, has there been growth? Are we hindering our children? 

Some of you might say you are a “vendida” a sell-out, not only because you married an Anglo,  but because of how you think! I have never been a follower, except for my Lord.

And, I don’t think I am a vendida or a coconut or any other negative label given to people who think differently than the masses.

I’ve always been proud of who I am and where I came from and openly revealed  that. I’ve never been ashamed.

I’ve always had my own mind and have always questioned. You may not agree with me and that’s fine. All of our life experiences make us the persons we are. You have your own life experiences, which make you the person you are. 

My husband has never influenced my political views. I’ve developed those all on my own because of my personal life experiences.

Believe it or not God, Family and Country have always been important to me. As a child when I visited Guadalajara  and could not find a toilet with running water, I was in disbelief! My travels have only confirmed I live in the best country! 

Yes, I agree, I think we need to change some things and certain issues need to be addressed; we are not perfect. But, this is the greatest country! 

I recall my Mama was very anti-immigration and would talk about it frequently. And without writing a book here possibly because of her personal experience with immigrating my father. She “fixed his papers” and then he abandoned us! This hurt her to her marrow.

I think she felt they took benefits away from her and other Americans besides the illegality of it all. She saw firsthand some of the illegal things that went on in our little town of Huron. Mainly illegal immigrants receiving two or three checks from unemployment under different names and addresses, receiving welfare, food stamps and WIC. Essentially our little town of Huron was lawless, it was like the Wild West. With high rates of people driving without licenses, drunk driving, drug abuse, domestic violence, human trafficking, prostitution, venereal disease, child abuse physical and sexual to name a few of the lawless and evil activities that prevailed my hometown. It was “puro party.” That’s why our family sheltered us so much.

Her thinking only reinforced my belief that we need to take care of our own first! Our veterans, the elderly and the disabled.  And, now it’s become an issue of security. So do I want a wall built? Heck yes, they can’t build it fast enough for me!’

Besides, my Lord my other saving grace was I had a Mama that had taught me to question and think, this was not a skill I had learned from a book or lesson in school.  

I was always lead and protected by my Lord and I cannot Thank Him enough.

At this point I’ll stop here, I’m sure at 3:00 in the morning I’ll wake up and think of something else I should have included. Oh well that will be part 2.

Abrazos y Besos

La Tierra de Mi Familia……La Tierra es Madre, Y Yo Soy Su Hija. She Contains the Sacred Memories of Our Roots

PREparing to go to Work
Mi Primo, Eric miReles’ TrabAjadores

January 6, 2020
On our most recent trip to California; driving from Paso Robles to Bakersfield. It is Sunday and I’m taking pictures like a paparazzi to preserve these precious memories.

Although, I know it is not necessary because these memories are
deeply etched in my being. Many people call California, “Calli” I dislike this term it sounds so Hollywood!

I see oranges and almonds being harvested, hardened leftover pomegranates drooping on trees and I instinctually want to pick the pomegranates for decorations (but we are flying out to Texas tomorrow morning).  I also see table grapes all within a mile. 

I see miles and miles of orchard and vineyard crops, such as deciduous tree fruits, almonds and grapes, pruning and shredding activities are underway now.

Grape growers are pruning, irrigating as needed, cultivating and spraying to control weeds and removing old vineyards. This is the time of year that new, bare root orchard and vineyard crops are being planted.

I don’t only see the fruits and vegetables I see “la gente” working. I see mi Familia still working there, as I wave. I see myself, as a chamaca.

If only my words could paint you a masterpiece or sing you a love song to reveal mi Amor and reverence for this Tierra, I would.

La Tierra de Mi Familia; that keeps giving and giving. But, you take also; you cut, you scratch, you break many bodies; you’re a heavy toll on the body

You cradled me as a niña 
I played, rolled and laughed on this Tierra I ate this Tierra
I slept on this Tierra
My sweat and lagrimas watered this Tierra
You fed mi Familia
I wept, hoped, had dreamt and prayed to escape you

And, once gone you gently appeared in my dreams, whispering my name

 I smelled you from hundreds of miles away. And, your “raíces” have always had a magnetic pull and you drew me back; it’s undeniable and inexplicable as if tethered by an umbilical cord.

You always ever so gently pull me in and Mi alma está feliz.

Thank You, Father
Abrazos y Besos

High Art

Most traditional wrapping..

One String Hoja Tie
Two String Hoja Tie

January 2, 2020
I view tamales as “Mexican Christmas Wrappings” and it’s all the Christmas I needed.
 There are many ways to make tamales and wrap tamales as there are families. The indigenous fillings were turkey, venison and fish. Some people use banana and avocado leaves (commonly used
along the coast and filled with fish) in lieu of the corn husk (hoja). And, yet others use foil or parchment paper around the hoja. And, most currently I have learned that people substitute the hoja for a paper wrapping made from a true vegetable parchment (this method replaces the hoja). The well known company Tampico makes a specific tamale wrapping paper (papel de tamale)that is resistant to boiling water and tearing. In terms of folding or wrapping your tamale there is the most commonly used diaper-folding method. Tying both ends with strips of hoja like strings and also tying with one single hoja ”string.” I know that in Puebla tamales are served as a pancake with fish. “Mexican tamales differ from one region to another in the fillings and leaves used to wrap them. Here are some of types you can find throughout Mexico:

In Culiacán, Sinaloa they use small sweet brown beans, corn and pineapple.

In Veracruz they use corn and pork seasoned with hoja santa.

In Oaxaca tamales are large and seasoned with black, yellow and green molés.

Tamales in Monterey are small and made with smooth or coarse dough filled with red chilies and strips of meat.

Tamales in Yucatán are seasoned with achiote and baked or cooked in a pit with chicken and pork fillings.

In Michoacan tamales are wrapped in corn leaves and have no filling.

The largest tamales come from Northwestern Mexico where they cook them in large pits or bake them in ovens. These  tamales can be three or four feet long and use coarse masa filled with pork seasoned with red chilies.

I recall Mi Mama making a tamale that was larger than her usual annual tamale, it was huge! She had some Oaxacan girlfriends who had taught her how to make this variation. It included the regular pork meat with molé in addition to a julienned potato and carrot, raja de Poblano chile and a couple raisins. These had to be tied at both ends because of their size. Of course they were delicious and a complete meal…….including dessert!

I have previously written on many aspects of tamale making; a favorite topic, or anything associated with Mexican food. The humble indigenous foods of my ancestors are now considered avant-garde with a recent influx to restaurants in Mexico City such as Pescadería El Puerto de Alvarado, Masala y Maiz, Rosetta, Molino el Pujol, Carmela y Sal, the New Berlin, Expendio de Maíz Sin Nombre, Tamales Madres and Restaurante Nicos to name a few.

I’m not a gambling woman, but if I was, I’d place my money on the street vendors “puesto” or push cart vendors. This is where I’ve had some of Mexico’s most delicious food on paper plates standing along the paved and unpaved streets, some lit and some unlit, as we say in Spanish “ para chupar se los dedos,” finger licking good! All this writing about my ”raíces” makes me want to hop on a plane right now directly to La Capital for tacos y tequila. Te invito Mi Corazón?

I recall a few years back, I was flabbergasted to find Williams Sonoma selling tamales for $60 a dozen. I was initially taken aback, because as a child I remember they sold for $10 a dozen. Now 60 years later they‘re basically the same price $10. to $20 a dozen! Granted, I know when people sell them they are usually small and do not have a lot of meat. But, if I compare that price to the amount of work involved in making them. People should be selling them for a lot more, I’m not flabbergasted at Williams Sonoma prices any longer! I’m selling mine for $80. a dozen! Mi Mamá was the most generous and kind-hearted person I knew, but she was funny about gifting her tamales. She would gladly gift you all the fudge and cookies you wanted, now I understand why!
Abrazos y Besos 

Thank You, Father

El Año del Caldo

December 16, 2019

I never knew what el año del caldo meant, but many Mexican people including my family always used this phrase. Which literally translates to, “the year of the stew.” It means something outdated or antiquated. “The underlying idea is that anyone who heard this would ask “Year of the stew? when was that?” and the reply would be, “so so long ago, no one remembers…”
Huron was a mixture of Mexicans and Okies; ( I use this term with the utmost of respect) we were all equally poor and from my child age perspective we all got along. The story goes that Mi Abuelita had a cousin, Eloísa Baeza, in Visalia. When they left Chicago, this was after the Great Depression on Route 66, they were in dire straights in search of a better life, they were in route to Visalia, California. They arrived in Visalia (it was Mi Mama’s birthday) during their few day stay there. They learned that there was work in the King City/Greenfield area so they headed in that direction, they lived in tents and cooked their meals on a small camping stove and worked there for awhile. I know Mi Mama told me she attended  7th grade in King City for a short time. I recall one day she showed me the route she would walk to school in Greenfield. But, they pulled her out because they needed her help in the fields. Mi Abuelita was pregnant with Manuel (my youngest uncle) when they arrived from Chicago and she gave birth to him in King City in an area called El Hoyo (the hole). 

At some point they ended up moving to Huron and lived in campos and worked the fields. I’d like to think and have heard originally Huron had many “good” hard-working Mexican families all in search of a better life for their children.
Unfortunately, throughout the years it became progressively worse.When I was growing up there, it was a small town with a population of about 1,000 people. Everyone knew each other. Gradually I started seeing more and more people coming to work and live in Huron from Tijuana and Oaxaca. Huron’s landscape began to change. A well-known Mexican family ran there own cartel in Huron distributing heroin. It gradually became lawless, filled with drunks, prostitutes, human trafficking of girls as young as 14 from Mexico or South America working in cantinas, police were paid off with “mordidas,”and it went on and on. I’m reminded of the characters in the Cantina scene in Star Wars infused with a bit of Walking Dead. All blended in a cocktail of mental illness, loneliness, overwhelmed, hopelessness, unemployed and depression. You mix this toxic cocktail with teenage girls; and the equation equals teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, crime, domestic violence and sexual abuse. Huron was actually recognized one year for the highest percent of syphilis countrywide. Huron was similar to the Wild West; lawless and out of control!

A Godless town.

My family use to joke about the possibility of us kids being repossessed because Mi Mama had not paid the hospital bill for our births! I was a “welfare baby!” Not something I’m proud of, but the reality of life which catapulted me to be and do better. I swore then I would do everything in my power to be self-sufficient.

I recall as a child living in the projects, this was an upgrade from the campos we lived in. And, Mi Mama always fought to move us into brand spanking new projects. Before the projects our address had been Camp 22, I’m sure Mi Mama’s best friend Teya also lived there.

In the projects near the packing sheds, we lived next to Ernie and Marie O’Neil they were from Oklahoma and had two sons; one was my age named Richard and there was an older son whose name I do not recall. I have very fond memories of Marie. She took me under her wings and I enjoyed hanging out with her in her kitchen, except when she cooked duck eggs. As it was, I was not very fond of eggs anyway! Their size freaked me out. On the other side of the projects was Marylou Garza and her 5 sons. Marylou was beautiful. She taught me how to make popcorn balls for my siblings. And, on the other end of these upgraded campos of Marylou was Estefana, I recall seeing her shave her eyebrows and paint them in. I must have been 10 or 11.  Well I just had to copy her…….the shaving part came easy. I just never quite mastered the painting in part! So you can imagine how ridiculous I looked till mine grew back! I never did that again.

On several occasions I have seen pictures of Augie with Santa during Christmas and I jokingly tell him that Santa Claus would by-pass Huron. We did get a little doll or my brothers would get a toy truck. And, there was always tamales, atole y buñueos and plenty of Christmas candy.I just never recall visiting Santa and taking pictures with him.
I never viewed myself as poor we never lacked for anything. We always had food, no steak or lobster, but we had good food. We always had nice clothes, no linen, no cashmere, or organic natural fabric, but we dressed nicely. Our home was not fancy, we lived in the projects, but it was clean and we had a bed with clean sheets to sleep on. We had a roof over our head and I felt safe. I know my Mama struggled and I never knew how she did it, but she did. We did not have free lunch program back then that I can recall of! She always had lunch money for all of her chamacos. She tried and worked so hard for us. But, I knew there wasn’t any extra money to doa lot of fun things. Sowe watched tv and played outside. I also know that my siblings and I could have easily taken a different route of crime, prison, drugs or the easy way out and we didn’t, we chose to push, strive, and persevere. I know that God has always been there protecting us.

Luke 4:10

”For it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning you to guard you carefully.’”

And, I am so proud of each one of them. I am so grateful to Mi Mama and my Lord.

So in a short time our family’s journey has gone from tents, to campos, to projects to an authentic Casa! Thank you, Jesus.


In the early mornings we would kick rocks as we walked to Joseph Mouren Elementary School. It was a different time when children could still walk to school, unlike now. Besides, many families didn’t even own cars. And, it was my job to keep my siblings shoes clean. I was the “shoe police” and as the eldest I was the police period! A very difficult task. 
You might possibly believe I’m ragging on Huron. I’m not, I am very proud of where I was raised with all its faults. There was joy, color, texture and flavor! Perhaps the color was rusty at times and the texture was barbed wire, but those unique experiences make me. As babies we do not have a say where we will be born or are raised. Huron taught me a lot, these are just a few skills Huron taught me. Because of Huron I live and appreciate life to the fullest, it taught me to be humble, to be grateful, to push myself beyond what my brain thinks it can do, to be compassionate, to see with my heart and to be patient and still.


We would pass this old building of which my siblings and I were so curious about, because it looked old, dark and spooky. I always wanted to go inside, it was known as the Mouren building. I never knew what it was used for, but it resembled a campo to me. Secretly, I thought who is this Joseph Mouren whose school I attend? And, I knew the day would come when I would be weaving him into my story. 

In March 1869 Joseph Mouren came to San Francisco (originally from France) and worked for Eugene Havey, becoming a stock-buyer and traveling all over the state buying sheep for him. He was in Los Angeles in 1872, when it was but a small town, with a few adobe houses; that same year he was in Fresno when the railroad had just reached there and Fresno had only a few buildings. After traveling over the state  He selected Huron as a desirable place for a location as it was the shipping point for a large territory. Mr. Mouren bought a hotel and livery and he and his wife made a success of the business. 

Joseph Mouren and his family were largely responsible for the expansion of the community of Huron in the late 19th century and fueled the city’s growth into the 20th century by investment. He is considered by many to be one of the city’s founding fathers. In the early 20th century, Huron became one of the largest producers of wool in the nation.

And, all this took place in the “Año Del Caldo.”

Abrazos y Besos








The Day The Quince Died

December 13, 2019

It was early morning as I joined Mi Abuelita, Elena for our Sunday ritual to go out like something out of a horror movie and kill 6 chickens, in preparation for our Sunday dinner to feed about 20 persons and  growing.
First I’d run around and help her catch one,  I mainly did the running around, she used the neck dislocation method; she was short, strong and fast. She turned away from me, so I wouldn’t be exposed to “all” the gory ritual. My other job was to help her pluck the feathers and singe some of the feathers off. To this day I cannot forget the smell of singeing chicken feathers.

From there it was quite fascinating to me how Mi Abuelita or Aunt Lupe or both determined our menu, whether we would have barbecue chicken, fried, soup, baked, molé, or pollo con arroz. I’m sure part of that decision making process had to do with the seasons. But, it was always “A Chicken For Every Sunday Dinner.”

My all time favorite was fried. Oh my gosh, they and Mi Mama made good fried chicken using their secret ingredient, buttermilk.

Every Sunday of my childhood life I could count on having chicken since Mis Abuelitos raised them and we had many. If we did deter it would be the infrequent Sunday pot roast or the occasional menudo or birria (goat) since Mis Abuelitos also raised goats, and we had a lot of those also. 

I take pride in cooking Mi Abuelita or Aunt Lupe’s recipes, y no se diga las de Mi Mama, but of utmost importance to me personally is to preserve these recipes for generations to come. It doesn’t really matter to me if future generations in Mi Familia are all eating prepared packaged meals like Blue Apron, or any other space-aged food.It is necessary for them to know their history, their roots, their relations, our anecdotal stories.

Sunday’s  were the day we all gathered. Good food was the lure. But Sunday was more than just dinner: It was time held still, time to relax and engage with the people we loved for a long, loud, drawn-out afternoon.  Yes, loud, Mi Familia affectionately said they had Italian blood because they spoke with their hands and were loud. 

For me, it was time to play with my cousins, the Garza’s. We had so much fun terrorizing Polvadero.

I’m not sure how or when we lost our Sunday dinner ritual, but we did. It’s like the day the membrillo (quince) died, finding a quince now is like finding a rare  archeological treasure.

Mis Abuelitos moved from Polvadero where a lot of my fondest childhood memories were formed. Where I learned to garden and gather food, to care for animals, to quilt, to cook and where I was allowed to play and have fun asa child. My sense of wonder was fostered here. And, another gift I inherited from Mi Abuelito  besides gardening and quilting, was how to make something from nothing,  it has served me well on how to be resourceful in this disposable society.

Mis Abuelitos moved to Coalinga on 5th Street. It was a tiny kitchen that didn’t really allow for big dinners like Polvadero did. It only seated  4 persons. I recall you could barely squeeze in through the back door since the dining room set was there. And, I recall the family always used the side door on 5th street. Not sure why this was so, but the front door had a rolled up towel on the floor up against the door to prevent the draft from coming in.

But, perhaps it didn’t have anything to do with space, the times and demands were changing and out of necessity we all succumbed to the “neon concrete jungle.” Even though we still had family visits on Sunday and the occasional backyard barbecues on 5th Street, things had changed. We had moved from the country to the metropolitan city of Coalinga (jeje) and I missed Polvadero.I went away to college and the idea of sitting down to Sunday dinner seems to have fallen away by the wayside.

In as much as I think about my own immediate family, Sunday dinners are a tradition that should be kept alive.For us it would entail us flying in from different parts of the country! As my baby sister so succinctly put it:

Good Morning to the sister in Hawaii 

Good Afternoon to the sister and brother in California and

Good Night to the sister im Texas.

Abrazos y Besos

Thank You, Father

La Piñata and a Teaspoon of Sugar

December 6, 2019

If Mi Mama did not fry his eggs to his liking he would beat her up!She was disrespected, ignored, threatened, humiliated, beat, controlled, dragged, emotionally abused, had her hair pulled, her teeth knocked out and the list goes on and on while being cathartic for me it’s painful!What was he trying to do, kill her? You were suppose to love, cherish and protect her. It infuriates me that you hurt her! And, as an adult woman I confronted you about beating Mi Mama and you denied it! Why couldn’t you be a man, and man up to it! I would have had more respect for you. I saw you beat her! You said you didn’t remember, “no, Mija no me acuerdo.”I have worked hard to forgive you.

I once read that there is no life without suffering. Unfortunately, the path that takes us to the promise is always difficult. Nothing worth having ever comes without opposition. Storms will come, lions will roar, and our fears will be confronted. God allows the path to be difficult because He intends on refining us and preparing us for our place of promise. He is intent on extracting from us, that which our enemy would love to leverage against us.

As a woman who has lived this experience I have always felt compassion and fought for women who have suffered.

Tu eres la piñata de Mi Papá. 

He would just give her “the look” and she was terrified! She knew she had said or done something to upset him and she would be getting a beating!

While studying this topic I learned that the medical profession has not shown the same interest as in child abuse. Perhaps they have similar views as Mexicans!  In the Mexican culture ( I hate to generalize) but as a young girl,  it was a pervasive thought in my little backward town I was raised in and perhaps a sign of the times. “You’re married now, so you have to suck it up!” Or more crassly stated….. in Spanish “you made your bed so chingate!”I remember the look of terror on her face her body also showed defeat  but even more than defeat it was “non existing!”I can hear the little voices of children crying and screaming in terror, “Daddy don’t hurt my Mama!” “Daddy stop!”We were her main concern, I recall her running around at night after being beat to give us teaspoons of sugar  (it’s believed to be a Mexican remedio) for trauma or they would say in Spanish  “para no pasar susto!” 

I know she lost several babies and now, I can’t help but wonder if it was because he beat her.In retrospect, I see now my sperm donor ( Mi Papá) had an alcohol problem. But, as I have continuously stated even on the rare occasions he wasn’t drinking or drunk, he was still very angry! Like a walking time bomb!I know Mis Abuelitos did not like him and he didn’t like them. Everything upset him, I don’t care if it was the most minute thing. Mi Mamá was tender and  young at 15 years old, when they first met. Heck she was a baby.The sperm donor was considerably older than her, “ya estaba ruco!”He not only hurt her physically, he damaged her soul! It took her years to heal ( in retrospect I’m not sure she ever did).Mi Mama had a heart of gold! I know everyone says that about their Mamas,  but Mi Mama was wise and overflowed with compassion and kindness to all.I now understand it had nothing to do with Mi Mama, but with my sperm donor. He lacked social skills, coping skills, self-control, anger management, low self esteem and the list goes on and on. I know he felt emasculated in the United States; he did not speak English and a plethora of other issues that immigrants may suffer, but it was not Mi Mama’s problem!I was too young to be interested in demographics or statistics, but I’d venture to say 90% or more of the women in my little town known as Huron suffered domestic violence. Where there was a high concentration of uneducated people who worked in the fields, drank too much and had mental health issues that were never resolved!  Because mental illness is taboo in the Mexican culture! But, I also recognize that domestic violence happens in Silicon Valley just as easily as it does in Huron.

The term of domestic violence bothers me so much; it’s so sanitized and sterilized version of what it really is; it is beating the crap out of someone, it is black eyes, bloody nose, it is dehumanizing, it strips their dignity, it si broken bones, it is dragging someone from their hair like a rag doll throughout the house. It is injuries your body and bones feel  forever! It makes you angry and there is no way to vent! You have to pretend it’s ok or that you asked for it and deserve it, because he’ll only beat you more!I know once Mi Mama finally left this sperm donor; she continued to hurt herself in common ways most women do. She drank too much, ate too much, didn’t eat enough, didn’t sleep enough and suffered depression, these were some of the symptoms I saw and was aware of. Heaven knows what other ways she hurt herself because she viewed herself as “damaged!” 
Many years later after Mi Mama had finally severed relationships with our sperm donor.  I’m reminded of the song one less egg to fry, Manuela. No more beatings for Mi Mama.We could finally breathe. We were free! 
Mi Mama had to re-claim her being,  her Vida!Thank you, my Lord, Our Savior. Mi Mama started to gradually heal. 
We lived in the projects (a brand new apartment) across from Joseph Mouren Elementary School. The school playground and school were my refuge. I always felt safe there, it’s no wonder I became an educator. Our neighbors the Mendoza’s lived in the attached apartment, actually a cheap you can hear everything locked door separated the two families.I recall two very pretty sisters; Bertha and Lupe, a Mama and a Papá. Their father would also beat his wife especially at night and when he was drunk which also coincided with payday.The wife and daughters’s screams and crying terrified us and brought to light the memories we were trying to forget! I was grateful when they moved.
Many years later I wasattending esthetician school in Fresno, I became friends with a woman named, Lupe at the gym. One day she invited me to go to Clovis with her to visit her mother who was visiting from out of town. We drove to her brother’s home. En route she told that her brother was a quadriplegic. She  shared with me that he had had a diving accident. And his home was set-up to accommodate all his handicaps. She told me he had won a large lawsuit pertaining to his accident. We walked into this most beautiful home, it was a mansion, gorgeously decorated also, as he maneuvered himself in his wheelchair.I couldn’t help it I was impressed, but I didn’t care how beautiful this home was……. it was such a tragedy what had happened to him. We had a lovely visit with Lupe’s Mama. At times she seemed to “phase out.” Of course I just let it go and excused it to age or her being on medication. On the way home, Lupe told me that her Mama suffered from schizophrenia and wasin fact on medication. She proceeded to share her Mama’s story.As a young girl her Mama had been in love with a young man from a neighboring rancho in Mexico and the young man loved her. Another older man wanted her and her family bestowed her to him.They had a miserable marriage and he kept her pregnant. They had a large family. Lupe’s Father would become enraged and tie his wife to a tree and whip her with a whip, because he knew his wife did not love him and was in love with another man. As the sons grew the father forced the sons in beating their own Mama! I was in a state of shock, I actually felt physically sick  to learn of this story. It definitely left an impact on me and I began to think of her schizophrenia in relation to her beatings! I don’t think beatings cause it, but I’m sure there is a link. My heart cried for her…..and thought of my own beautiful Mama and her suffering.
My baby sister, Dudies, was very young and the  instrument that saved our family and I will forever be indebted to her. She became a Christian at a young age and she would gently share who our Lord was with us. Another special powerful milestone in my life was knowing Mi Mama had become a Christian also and changed her ways, she loved our Lord and was saved. 
About the sperm donor I really don’t know or care. I hope he was able to meet my Lord and ask for forgiveness for all the damage he had caused us.He returned to Guadalajara, I dug deep and visited him, he appeared to be a model husband and father. But, I don’t believe it for one minute, I think it was all a facade.
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment (Mark 12:30). God must be your first love every morning, every day and night you have left.

I question why this happened? Why was the sperm donor so angry, what was going on inside of him, what caused you so much pain, what demons possessed you? Why did Mi Mama allow this? Why didn’t Mis Abuelitos ( her parents) protect her, I know she was Mi Abuelito, Higinio’s favorite. How dare you traumatize us the way you did and how did this trauma affect us? 

And, most painful to me is why does domestic violence still exist today,  sixty plus years later? Women are more educated, more empowered, more of everything. And now you hear of date abuse. Lord, please help us to teach our daughters (and sons) to have self-respect, to love themselves, to not accept or tolerate abuse from anyone.

What I write about is deep rooted in my heart. Perhaps some of you do not relate or identify, and that is fine. But, as someone I love very much recently shared with me. There are many people who have lived similar experiences of growing up a poor Mexican-American in the San Joaquin Valley working in the fields as a child. Of growing up with an alcoholic father from Mexico or any other dysfunction or country. If you have lived similar experiences. You can try to forget and numb those pains with alcohol, drugs, men/women etc. and nothing has worked.

As bad as things were at times, Mi Mama never lost hope and always instilled that hope in her chamacos. And it was by Grace that our Lord saved us.
If just one person identifies and I can sharethis hope you can find the same comfort and encouragement in God’s promises that I have found, I will be happy.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
Thank You, Father

Abrazos y Besos

New Mexico vs. Mexico, Stitching Patriarchy and Trump Or “Cada Cabeza Es Un Mundo“

November 12, 2019
Not long ago, I left a New Mexico Recipe food group that was suppose to focus on New Mexican recipes instead it focused on arguing as to what recipes were authentically New Mexican! And, not only that they constantly criticized that Californians did not know how to cook, that our dishes lacked flavor and essentially that California food did not measure up to New Mexican food! Well this was highly offensive to me, because I know how to cook and enjoy it.
I know enough about Mexican food and food history to realize that New Mexican cuisine is distinctive; specifically in the chilies they use and the ever so famous Hatch Chile, Indian fried bread, sopapillas, Green Chile stew (which is similar, but different to Chile verde) fried puffy tacos, and the stacked enchiladas with a fried egg on top.
But, I also know and saw more similarities than differences and many of the same foods I was raised on in California being called New Mexican!
Such as some of what I call “soul food;” these are by no means considered gourmet meals, on the contrary, soul food to me is more like poor people food, down home cooking, or food that is eaten on a daily basis. Dishes that feed large families with not a lot of money. Such as fried potatoes with hamburger meat or weinies, pozole, menudo, cocido, huevos rancheros, carnitas, chilaquiles, sopas, chorizo con huevo, beans, rice, tostadas, tacos, burritos, arroz con leche, etc.
Excuse me Gente, but most of these dishes originated in Mexico and we have copied or modified to meet our needs throughout the Southwest. With the exception of frito bowls, I’ll never figure that one out. Although, Mi Corazon says it’s good, maybe one day I’ll succumb.
I finally gave up trying to defend and educate and left the group. I wanted to see food, recipes and cooking not a bunch of angry people arguing defending their position.

Recently, I joined another group that shall remain nameless, and now I’m considering  leaving this group also! It focuses on hand stitching on fabric, a passion of mine. It is stitching for 15 to 30 minutes a day to relax without any plan.

The true beauty of the process is that there is no right or wrong way to do this. You do not worry about making ‘art’ while you are in this process. You allow your intuition to guide your design. Let your heart speak with needle and thread. It is not overthinking and it
does not have to become anything. I thought this was a liberating/no need to think exercise…not a “learn how to” system. I like that it takes us away from that idea of perfection and out of our comfort zones of things having to be completed. The beauty of mindful stitching is that we can just do what we feel like with no boundaries and allow our minds to relax and sometimes empty.
This group was to be about fun and relaxation
I think it either needs to be something that comes from within – no formal learning or it is something else -learning. I have trouble with it being both simultaneously.
I have thoroughly enjoyed viewing others art and being inspired by so many creative women.
Well this weekend a woman posted a “Eff the Patriarchy” ( fully written out) I have cleaned it up for my post, stitched on a piece of fabric. With sideways lines depicting a flag and stitches in red and blue with a white background.
This bothered me immensely, why? because this group offered and allowed some time away from the “madness of the world, ”
to see beauty; in flowers, landscapes and birds.
I didn’t have to deal with news, politics, sexual content, cussing or anything negative.
 I commented that I was offended by this, for the above reasons. I researched the rules and there really aren’t any. It states, if something causes you discord just keep scrolling.
While many women were in agreement with my sentiments. Many  women supported Ms.
Eff the Patriarchy, they felt that this was her vehicle of releasing anger or stress.
Ms. Eff the Patriarchy stated she had been upset after watching a Peruvian beauty pageant where the women addressed the number of women raped, abused and killed in their country!
One women even stated that after her divorce she was very angry and her therapist encouraged her to say the “eff” word to release her anger. Because for too long women have held their voices inside for fear of offending people.
Another women said that we should all be more tolerant and use stitching as a healing process.
Another woman stated we should act more like men and use violence.
Another woman supported it also by saying that stitching wasn’t just about stitching puppies and flowers, but that now it was about conveying a message and that “eff the Patriarchy” was using this as her way of expressing her emotions.
Another woman stated she was offended by flowers and puppies and we should focus on issues affecting women!
And, yet another young woman stated we were all screwed (she used the eff word) if we did not stick together as women!
This is crazy!
Now it’s become political, politics are never a relaxing topic, tell me how I can continue stitching?
Well that about did it for me. I think it may be time to leave this group! This truly saddens me as I enjoyed stitching flowers and landscapes.
I am NOT a follower, I never have been and never will be! I have a mind and I use it. All the time I’m thinking I’d like to stitch a machine gun! Ha ha! I am not promoting violence, but all this hypocrisy gets me boiling! Why did you go ruin such a beautiful thing.
I trip out with All of this, why? Because this group is mainly “white women” Americans, Australian and women from the Uk. And, perhaps have this “trying to rescue the world mentality.” Most from my age group, who have the luxury of sitting around and stitching on fabric. I realize many women do not have this “luxury,” I know Mi Mama never did. I have seen  few women of color in this group. And, not that that is really significant, but I have always felt that Anglo women think they are the saviors of the world, they want to rescue everyone, especially people from other countries. Now please do not misconstrue this, I think Americans have done great things in other countries to help the needy. I just can’t help but wonder if “Ms. Eff the Patriarchy” whose anger was triggered by Peruvian women, didn’t realize women are being raped, abused and killed HERE!
Everyone is trying so hard to be politically correct.
Then we have the peacemakers, can’t we all just get along mentality. Which is fine and my preferred mode of operandi.
But, I refuse to stand by….. a bomb has been set off, how do we deal with that? You cannot have stressless political conversation or thought, it’s an oxymoron.
On this same thread I  learned of Diana Weymar with her “Tiny Pricks Project” which is in exhibition at Lingua Franca in New York. To Channel Her Frustration She Started Embroidering Donald Trump’s Most

Outrageous Quotes. She Inspired an Army of Needleworkers

Now, they have also been immortalized in needlework by hundreds of artists. Diana Weymar’s “Tiny Pricks Project,” a community-based, constantly-growing Trump textile protest immortalizing the president’s words in stitching, is now on view in New York.
What is the purpose of Tiny Pricks Project? I’m sure it is money driven!
All of these above experiences only confirm why I dislike groups! I think I’ve come to the realization that the older I get the less BS I can take and perhaps I do not play well with others!
You see at my age I have the right to pick and choose with whom I choose to be, where and when I choose to be and what I choose to be involved in. At one time in my life I didn’t have that choice, but I do now, Thank you Jesus.
I agree everyone has a right to their own thinking and thoughts.
There is a popular idiom in Spanish that’s says, “cada cabeza es un mundo,” which means “every head is their own world!”
I feel I am a reasonable woman, I am not angry nor full of hate. My heart tells me I am not wrong and that this world is upside down right now! If I am, I invite you to please set me straight with facts.
I can think of many “constructive” ways to utilize our energy as women as humans, at convalescent homes, schools, soup kitchens, there are many organizations to volunteer our time and resources. Instead of focusing on stitching “Eff the Patriarchy” or Trump’s outrageous quotes!
Abrazos y Besos
Thank You, Father

Not For Me And My Home!

October 26, 2019

I get frustrated when I am stereotyped and someone assumes I celebrate Día de Los Muertos,” since all Mexicans celebrate Día de Los Muertos. Well let me school you. This is not so!

We never celebrated this growing up and once I became an adult and a Christian I knew these practices do not edify God and are forbidden by our God.

I recall during my first years of teaching I had a short lesson for my predominantly Mexican students; thinking it was tradition and fun to commemorate our ancestors. 
You’d like to think it’s just a fun way to honor your deceased family members, but it is not.
I, myself had been sucked in by the colorful bling, each color signifies something. 
The papel picado, calaveras, marigolds (cempasuchitl or Aztec marigold of the dead) and flowers. And there is also food appropriated for this day. Sweet, egg-rich “bread of the dead” (pan de muerto) is one of the constants of Dia de Los Muertos, although it varies regionally. In some places in Mexico, sugar skulls are treats for children during Dia de Los Muertos, sometimes with names written on them.
Simply put, as Christians, we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).

People will set-up these colorful enticing alters of their dearly beloved who have passed; using pictures, incense, candles, flowers, etc. and make offerings of their favorite things in life, such as beer, candy or cigarettes.
This unholy event is the false idea that by means of its rituals, they can commune with their dear departed relatives, who are thought to participate in these ceremonies. Only One is worthy and powerful enough to call the dead; He will call these to the resurrection of damnation (John 5: 28-29). 
Personally it’s another means of making money, commercialism at its most colorful “ethnic” best. Now don’t misunderstand me I think commercialism is great. It’s a new reason to party that’s colorful and a different aspect that sucks people in. Just like something as innocent as caricatures
or the Adam’s Family.
Recently, my sister, Cathy shared a story with me of an innocent family that went to see the re-make of the movie, The Adam’s Family. The one we grew up with that was funny, silly and had characters of Lurch and Morticia.
This new re-make has the voice of a demon. And the little boy appeared possessed and started climbing up the wall. Then they pulled out a ouija board. 
At this point the family decided to walk out of the movie theater. Thank God these parents are so aware and protect their family.
I Thank my Lord every day that Mi Mama taught us how to think, by constantly questioning everything. She had the common sense of 10 persons.
It is our responsibility to be vigilant, especially for parents. We must be fully aware of what we see, say, read, think, model and practice.
Thank You, Father
Abrazos y Besos

My View From The Bus

October 22,2019


Last evening as I was

washing my dinner

dishes, my mind


I had just finished a
delicious Greek salad, I
had made. And, I thought
how did my palette
become so versatile and
well rounded. Especially
since I come from very
humble beginnings. And,
we ate pretty simple
dishes like rice, beans,
sopas, fried potatoes,
spaghetti, fish sticks,
tuna casserole, caldo de
res, birria, fried chicken,
meatloaf, tacos,
enchiladas, etc. You get
the picture.
I can taste any dish and
discern the spices and
herbs within a few
minutes, and sometimes
it may take a few
attempts, but I usually
learn how to make it.
Another skill I honed as a
child is that I can discern
what’s in the cupboard
and refrigerator and
invent a meal using
what’s at hand. And, it
will be delicious, maybe
simple, but delicious, of
course, depending on
what’s available.
I recall being very young,
and watching Mi Mama
cook I enjoyed hanging
out with her in the folds
of Mi Mama’s warmth
and our kitchen. By age
ten or earlier I was
cooking for my siblings.
I know this was birthed in
my passion for food as a
young girl which has only
evolved to now.
I also know I get easily
bored and I need a wide
variety of flavors. I love
exploring different
recipes, herbs, spices
and flavors.
I often wonder when
women say, “I don’t
know what to cook for
dinner, tonight?” My
problem is I usually have
ten different ideas I’d like
to prepare.
I recall at Humboldt
State being exposed to
fresh fish the likes of
halibut, crab and salmon.
I was wild about crab
dipped in butter with a
crusty baguette.
I don’t recall eating fresh
fish at home. My limited
patethic introduction to
fish was our typical fish
stick dinner on Fridays
with white rice, served
with canned corn or
Another, profound
experience was while a
student, I was poor and
struggling. I would ride
the city bus from
downtown Sacramento
to Sacramento State to
attend classes.
At the end of my day, on
my route home we made
a drop-off stop directly
in front of a popular deli
named, Sam’s Hof Brau.
Unlike today’s names of
Namaste,  just doesn’t
Seated on the bus I had a
birds eyes view of people
eating these humungous
sandwiches with a pickle
in their basket
accompanied with a mug
of beer, as if a child
peering in through a
window at toys they
desire for Christmas.
I use to think one day
when I have enough
money I’m going to go in
there and order one of
those sandwiches, since
I had never had anything
like that. In time, the day
arrived and I was in line
and overwhelmed with
all the choices. I ordered
one of those mile high
sandwiches with thin
shaved meat on this
delicious roll with a
pickle in the basket, just
like I had seen from the
bus window. I selected
the perfect seat, directly
in front, in my attempt to
relive the experience I
had viewed from my bus
seat. So I could re-live
the full experience.
I proceeded to slather
my sandwich from a
small jar of mustard. I’m
not quite sure what
compelled me to do that.
I took my first bite and
my mouth was on fire,
my sandwich was
uneatable. I had ruined
my much awaited
sandwich. I’m sure there
was a lesson here.
 It was very hot mustard
similar to those that
belong in a Chinese
restaurant, not here.
I was underage so I did
not even have a beer to
help ease the pain. I
ended up tossing it and
walking out in complete
You can only imagine my
Eventually, I was able to
re-live many positive
experiences at Sam’s
Hof Brau and finally got
my sandwich that I had
intently been eyeballing
for awhile from the bus.
Shortly after I was
introduced to the Ruben
sandwich another
favorite when the rye
bread is right.
While at Sacramento
State; crepes, fondue
and sukiyaki were
popular and new found
introductions. I could
order a big bowl of
sukiyaki for $4. or $5.
And this restaurant was
just around the corner
from my I’m
embarrassed to admit
cucaracha infested
apartment. But, it was my
reality, it cost me $90. a
month and that’s what I
could afford.
Now I don’t want you to
get the idea that I was
eating gourmet meals
every evening. I was poor
and these were far and in
between visits to
restaurants in the five
years I was in
Sacramento. Most of my
meals consisted of eggs
and bologna sandwiches
and large group
barbecues where we all
pitched in since the
majority of us were
in the same boat; poor
and struggling.
On another occasion I
had a date who took me
to Zorba the Greek. I
ordered the lamb shish-
ka-bobs with rice pilaf
for the first time.
Fortunately, we did eat
lamb growing up, we
raised a few. But, had
never tasted these exotic
I ate the most
scrumptious flavored
chunk of meat as the
flirtatious women
twisted, shimmied, and
circled around our table
dancing in their colorful
jingally costumes.
I was so taken by these
marinated flavors of
cumin, oregano, with
onion, bell pepper and
mushrooms. Grilled to
I kindly asked the
waitress for the recipe.
She responded she
wasn’t sure. And, shortly
returned with the chef
himself, who
enthusiastically shared
his recipe with me. For
the next month that’s all I
wanted to eat. Obviously,
this was not within my
budget, but occasionally
made it with beef on a
small hibachi I had.
In time I perfected my
While in Sacramento I
took many trips to
concerts in the Bay Area
with friends and had the
luxury of eating paella
for the first time, in the
Mission District. It cost
$7. for a huge plate and
enough for two people. I
had never eaten
anything so delicious in
my life.
My amigos knew I could
cook and occasionally
they would buy groceries
so I could cook tacos,
enchiladas, pozole,
menudo and I also
learned how to make
paella once I tasted it. Of
course this was a college
student version with
mainly shrimp, none the
less, very delicious. In
time I perfected my
recipe and introduced
my family to paella.
Shish-ka-bobs were
the dish that started my
life long quest of flavors
from diverse cultures in
1972/73. I have eaten
and experimented with
dishes from all of these
cultures: Chinese
Japanese, Korean,
Indian, Greek, Thai
Vietnamese, Portuguese,
Italian, French, Spanish,
Austrian, Swiss, German
and Mexican.
I love the delicacy and
fresh fish of Japanese
food. I recall going to a
Japanese restaurant
where we were seated in
a private room and sat on
the floor on cushions,
nearby where I lived in
downtown Sacramento.
This was a different
restaurant than the one
that specialized in
sukiyaki, but it was all in
the same hood around T
Street and 9th.
I love the herbs and
spiciness of Korean, Thai
and Vietnamese dishes. I
had a neighbor who
taught me a few Korean
dishes, she made a black
bean paste soup with
anchovies. It was hot
I love stuffed grape
leaves, falafels and in
time was introduced to
baklava a delicious
sweet treat. We have
taken cooking classes in
Provence, Cabo San
Lucas and Algarve,
Portugal that were
I love the cheeses, all the
pastries, wine and the
farmer’s markets of
France, Italy and Spain.
I have very fond
memories of a small
French bistro I would
frequent in Paso Robles,
Bistro Laurent.
There my memories
came to life of our time
spent in France. Where
food is not merely
viewed as food but, a
collective experience.
Of course I prefer going
with Mi Corazon, but
once in awhile after a
long day at the winery I
would dine solo in his
I love to learn how other
cultures cook fresh in
season food. Because in
the process of learning
and exploring food,
cooking it and eating it,
you learn and grow;
about culture and
Where you allow the
seasons to determine
your menu. It is my
passion. It’s in my DNA.
It’s so me.
Abrazos y Besos
Thank You, Father