Monday, August 3, 2015

Mission and Tacos Three

Santa Cruz or originally "Misión la exaltación de la Santa Cruz"

This mission had pretty bad luck all along and there is very little to see from mission days.

The wall is covered to protect it

Not much fuss is made to interpret the remains of the mission behind the current church. Across the street there is a half size replica of the mission that is a crazy mixed up museum and gift shop. Fans of 18th century European embroidery examine vestments over the heads of kids saying "Dad look how cute this is, can I have it?" A chalice used by Junipero Serra is in a glass case right above mementos that no doubt provide a bit of revenue. A dedicated volunteer answers questions and makes change.

1930's replica

Reliquary with original doors

Mass was just breaking up at Holy Cross Church. It's pretty. And there's a large school and a green square on the property. This mission was first built on the river where it flooded. So they rebuilt on High street.  They had trouble from the beginning with their fellow Spaniard neighbors. One bit of history I've never heard of before is the story of an expected raid by the pirate Hippolyte de Bouchard. (Pirates on the California coast?) The Padres felt they needed to go to safety at Mission Santa Clara and asked their Branciforte neighbors to look after things. Instead they raided and burned. And the pirate never came. This mission seems to have an especially cruel track record. Perhaps that in addition to the few physical remains is why the Santa Cruz community appears to be less sentimental than some others about their Mission.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Missions and Tacos Two

San Miguel Arcangel

On the way home from graduation we pulled off of 101 to find San Miguel Arcangel. It has a more rustic feel but has been lovingly restored.

We parked under the oak tress happy for the shade and discovered that someone at the mission has a sense of humor.

The candles and the Virgin of Guadalupe mosaic outside gave the sense of recent and regular visitors. I expected the missions to be dusty derelict ruins. After just two visits I am realizing that there must be communities and institutions dedicated to their restoration and historic value. And the two we have seen so far actually serve as parishes for people nearby.


We found her embedded into the wall outside.
The flowers around her in the church sing devotion

Cuesta College and community groups are part of  this mission's  life.

San Miguel's Museum's strength is creating a feel for Mission life.
Paper covered windows create a dim room

I read a lot as a kid. After I finished the blue covered biographies of early Americans like John and Abigail Adams I found a similar series about Catholic saints. Both sets spent more time on their subjects' childhoods and swept through their life accomplishments. I'm thinking about this as I try to explain why I love statues of saints. I especially love those painted with colors. Maybe it is because they are people, just a person with folds in their robes and expressions to puzzle over. The Padres brought their favorite saints with them.

My grandmother Stephanie Foley McA
 prayed to Saint Anthony to find lost items.

The dragon slaying St. Michael the Archangel

In the church there is this beautiful haunting statue of the Virgin Mary. It was carved in mission times, and looks like a Salinan woman.

The church is wonderful. The write up on the wall said the shell motif was meaningful to the Salinans.
St. Michael gets center stage

It says in honor of the Salinan people

The cemetery is well cared for.

The museum had a lot of Salinan artifacts from pre-mission days, but it also addressed Salinan issues and contributions up to contemporary times.

We headed to Soledad for lunch. I went for one chicken one beef.
I liked the simplicity and the lettuce. The chicken was grilled and then sliced, nice.

Missions and Tacos - One

Graduation Visit to San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

Two things struck me about the missions we visited graduation weekend;
  • their museums are gems 
  • they are alive for their communities.
San Luis Obispo is right downtown where we could hear a roar of voices doing the graduation morning pub crawl. It has been restored multiple times and looks crisp and pristine,

The museum starts with the daily life of the Chumash
We lingered in the back while a baby was baptized

The painted flower detail is so light and cheery

And so begins our discovery of California Missions.

There's youth and senior centers
The tacos at Tacos de Acapulco were a blend of the best of simple street tacos and restaurant tacos, Just a touch of guacamole convinced me it can be ok to mess with a street taco,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Almost Into the Field

In Mandalay, Myanmar our Stanford Alumni Association guides introduced us to the staff of Community Partners International. They provide sub-grants and capacity building to 18 local NGO's. It was wonderful to learn about their work riding the bus with Dr. Pyea Mon Thaw who is their Reproductive Health Program Coordinator. I gather that the original plan was to go into the field to see one of their projects, but lacking travel time we went to their modest Mandalay office housed at the Phaung Daw Oo Integrated Monastic Education School.

There we distracted classrooms of happy, curious children. Their smiles imply they are achieving their mission.

"Our Priority Goal

Here! The Children can pursue their studies cheerfully,
1. Without charging entrance fee..
2. without collecting monthly fee or yearly fee....
3. Without receiving offertory for teacher. Any fee is not charged!"

Josh Noble of the Financial times volunteered at the school in 2003 and wrote a detailed article after visiting recently. The school serves 394 students who otherwise would not be in school. It houses 150 children, many from Cyclone Nargis.

We heard singing and recitation methods similar to what I heard in rural India. 

After they graduate high school some of the children enter a pre-college program where it looks like they are trying to break out of the rote education model. I loved seeing "critically, analytically".

So many of the jobs that can now come to Myanmar require critical thinking. And debate can be part of the new political environment. The day we visited they were debating women's rights. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Road Trip Assist

Headed down Highway 80 last week we checked Yelp to search for lunch in Colfax, CA.  Cafe Luna had everything reviewers said -  a warm greeting from friendly owners, a delicious special (a healthy cross between a tostada and a quesadilla) and very entertaining local patrons. The local gossip is about what the new owner might do with the old theater in town. 

We got into the Yelp habit on our road trip last fall. Our ride to Oklahoma was our first mobile technology assisted road trip. We never ate fast food because Yelp helped us find "Main Street" cafes. We used Wikipedia to learn about every small town we passed, discovering that a lot of them were railroad stops. As soon as I had bars on my phone I could find out what Boron is used for.  I call the internet "the end of speculation". I love knowing the population, the demographics and the answer to "what do these people do out here?" 

Our motel in Kingman, Arizona was surrounded by chain restaurants  but thanks to Yelp we found Sirens Cafe which led us to the old downtown. The cafe was loaded with cute personality - mermaids in the desert.

A huge Yelp standout was in Winslow, Arizona when a reviewer undersold La Posada, a gorgeous restored Harvey House hotel. I had great pozole and loved their secret garden. If we had done one bit of research before taking off on the trip I would have targeted La Posada. I am so happy we didn't miss it.

As we made our way east we sought out bits and pieces of Route 66. One hungry morning we held out for Tucumcari, New Mexico and discovered that Kix on 66 indeed has pancakes that are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

On the way back west in Custer, South Dakota we had an elegant lunch at the Sage Creek Grille.

After a couple of days of making tuna sandwiches at rest stops on the road we turned off early in the morning at Dillon, Montana at Sweetwater Coffee to get a latte and we packed a couple of their delicious sandwiches for lunch later.

One of our most remote treks was across Idaho through Craters of the Moon National Monument. At Pickles Place in Arco, Idaho we got a friendly greeting, a clean restroom, a group of senior locals who teased us, and that road trip classic, afternoon pie.

I think it is cool that what is new - the amazing technology on my phone, helps us find what is old. And good.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Love, Loss and things that are left behind

Our Mom took care of our Dad for many years. He was slowly debilitated by MS and then also by a brain injury. So it was a long hard haul.  

After he died she married her neighbor who loved the symphony and best of all loved international travel.  In their seventies and early eighties they went to interesting places like Sulawesi, Papua New Guinea, and with us—to  India and Bhutan.

Our “bonus Dad” showed up one day several years later with this prayer flag from Bhutan. He had carefully used twist-ties to affix it to a long bamboo pole.  He was a neurosurgeon and could twist a twist-tie like no one else. He used them to affix Christmas tree lights to the branches so they we invisible. That was another great thing about him. He loved Christmas.

The bamboo pole and the Lungta-Wind Horse flags have been tucked in our garage for ten years. Like so many people we are streamlining our lives, especially our possessions. The hardest things to part with are thoughtful gifts from departed loved ones.

Luckily prayer flags are meant to be flown.  They should blow in the wind to “to spread goodwill and compassion into all pervading space”. On a hopefully auspicious sunny and windy morning I plunged the pole into the snow and mounded snow all around it. It is on our south side where I hope to leave it until sun, wind, snow, and rain fade it to gray.

1  Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Phantom Book Club

When I retired a year ago people gave me some nifty gifts. The Packard Foundation gave me binoculars to support my aspiration to become a birder. 

Linda Scott Furness and her colleagues at Next Step Partners gave me books, a bunch of them.  I’ve worked with Linda and her partner Heather Corcoran, but I’ve haven't met the other dozen or so on their team which is spread across San Francisco and New York.  I gather that Linda wandered around the office and asked everyone for their favorite book in the last year.  Such a neat idea.  I got diverted onto reading ten books on Burma and some e-books. And somehow I’ve been hoarding this unique gift pile of books a bit.  I grabbed one our way up to the cabin, and devoured it between snow fort building and cooking up a storm for our traditional New Year’s family visitors.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff is historical fiction about Mormon apostate Ann Eliza Young blended with a contemporary mystery.  I love historical fiction.  The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh is how I broke into my Burma reading. The device intertweaving a current day polygamy story worked for me.  I’m grateful for the recommendation, the book, and the time to read it.