The view from Jean Colonomosâ€™ home that inspires her to write, â€śI praise Mother Natureâ€¦when a deer shows up and its spirit reminds us to be gentle to ourselves and others.â€ť
In Praise ofâ€¦
Sometimes, it feels right to give over this editorial space to community voices because someone said, better than I ever could, what needs to be heard. As the pandemic progressed through more than a year now, Jean Colonomos kept a diary, a COVID-19 Diary, which brought to us terse colloquies of people we donâ€™t know, yet we heard their voices, not unsimilar to ours, during dark days. Now, itâ€™s time to praise those â€śwho speak the frequency of humanity,â€ť and name some of our own.
â€”Flavia Potenza, Editor
Join me as I praise those who speak the frequency of humanity. Join me in praise for doctors and health care workers who, in the beginning of the pandemic, lacked personal protection equipment, had to breathe through headache inducing N95 masks and wore makeshift plastic garbage bags to protect themselves and their patients. I praise frontline workers who were denied protective gear. Church bells toll to mourn and praise those who died in isolation with only a phone call for a final â€śgood-bye.â€ť I praise those like my hustle-bustle friend, Ann, who found new appreciation in staying home. I praise Topangaâ€™s stores, restaurants, the Topanga library and their workers for putting in place necessary safety measures so our community could thrive. I praise Helen and Simon, owners of the Topanga General Store who stock a cereal for elderly me so I wonâ€™t have to venture into a big supermarket. Further praise for the kind Ahrens-Pigott family who shop and deliver my groceries, and Karla and Joe of Morrisonâ€™s Heating and Air who help the community and me in countless ways. Every morning Karla and I check in and Iâ€™m reminded of how these phone calls reflect a loving friendship that grounds me. I praise her industrial engineer husband who speaks like an artist when he shares, â€śI talk to my machines.â€ť I praise the question Leslie asks, â€śWhat if fear is safe?â€ť I praise editor Flavia Potenza and The Canyon Chronicleâ€™s staff for keeping our community current with local and world news. I praise my daughterâ€™s mantra, â€śDonâ€™t let perfect be the enemy of good.â€ť I praise the Topanga Womenâ€™s Circle that outfits apartments for veteranâ€™s families when they move into a new place while reorienting themselves to civilian life. I praise the generosity of citizens like Jon Rivera, Artistic Director of Playwrightsâ€™ Arena, who often cooks Filipino dishes from his native country. Since theatre has been closed, he sees his chef role as a new creative endeavor. â€śTwo months into this year, heâ€™s whipped up two dishes a day, six days a week.â€ť The food he offers is free. I praise undocumented workers who risk their lives for a better future in America. I praise organizations like No Kid Hungry, Feeding America, and Mazon who provide free food to countrywide food banks. I praise the doe that showed up and spent two hours on my land because something â€śinterestedâ€ť her. When a deer shows up, its spirit reminds us to be gentle to ourselves and others, this messenger that harbingers an awakening about to be born. I praise the worldwide goddesses and gods of science who quickly developed three vaccines though theyâ€™re now researching what to do about dangerous new strains. I praise Dr. Fauchi where, in his recent interview with NPRâ€™s Teri Gross, I learn how scientists found that some of the 20 years of AIDS research was essential to create these vaccines in such a short time. I praise the planets that on Dec. 21, 2020, birthed us into the Age of Aquarius where in the next 200 years weâ€™ll gain enhanced perceptions and a greater social conscience already nascent in movements like Black Lives Matter, StopDiscriminAsian, Stacey Abramsâ€™ Fair Fight about national voting rights, Say Her Name, the Womenâ€™s marches, #neveragain formed by high school students from the Stoneman Douglas shootings fighting for tighter gun control and in our electing Kamala Harris, an African American Vice President with Indian heritage. I praise Nancy Pelosi and the House of Representativesâ€™ double impeachment of the former Destroyer-in-Charge. I praise the American people for electing Joe Biden and for all the positive actions heâ€™s taken from Day One, among them, halting construction on the Keystone Pipeline, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, taking action on LGBTQ rights, reuniting families in the U.S. forcibly separated, and safe access to abortion, among others. I praise Mother Nature and the endless reams of beauty she provides: dark swallows in flight lighting up the pale sky; how skinny legged sand pipers scurry on the beach then swerve in unison; the monarch butterflyâ€™s stained glass wings; the intoxicating smell of lavender; and the wonders of imagination nature provides. I praise Sheila, co-owner of Ashlandâ€™s Bloomsbury Books and our 50-year friendship where we live between the words; my daughter and son-in-law, my three young grandchildren whose love and laughter fill me with happiness. I praise my diary contributors whoâ€™ve generously given me permission to use their wordsâ€”Andy, 2 Anitas, Cathy, Clare, Jay, Karen, Karla, LM, Lou, Marsha, Mary Kay, Sarah, Star, Uncle Red, Yves, and many others. I end in praise for all that we have come through and for new vulnerabilities that have become part of our lives.
Epilogue by Phil Taggart: â€śa / cartoon / bubbles / a question / and then / blinded / by / expedience / the answers / are boxed, wrapped / and never delivered // mostly we are forgotten / like angels dancing on pins / like moths caressing the flame / self reconciled / as our pyramids crumble / god is in the box / dreaming / and all we really know / is now / and all we really want / is to be loved.â€ť