‘When Will They Ever Learn…?’

The Canyon ChronicleBy The Canyon Chronicle

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‘When Will They Ever Learn…?’
National Archives Virtual Event, Tuesday, March 8, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. EST / 10-11 a.m. PST—Female Genius: Eliza Harriot and George Washington at the Dawn of the Constitution. Author Mary Sarah Bilder looks to the 1780s—the age of the Constitution—to investigate the rise of a radical new idea in the English-speaking world: Female Genius. (womenshistorymonth.gov)
War is not the answer. Tonight as I write this, the sixth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine dawns and promises to worsen before it gets better (please, God!) as Putin’s diabolical plan moves forward. Growing up, my sister and I and everyone around us thought that my father was Russian. We knew nothing about Ukraine. I learned later that he was born in Kharkiv, where a dense residential district was reported to have been under siege from Russian rocket attacks. The family later moved to Kyiv and names I’m hearing today in news reports were places he knew and spoke about. He emigrated, became an American citizen, spoke beautiful English with a lilting accent, played piano, was an artist. People loved him. In 1951, as Sen. Joseph McCarthy continued his purge of American communists, something happened to him, what we called then a “nervous breakdown.” Today, it would be diagnosed as PTSD. He served in three different branches of the Russian military during the 1917 revolution, and often said, “I don’t know why I wasn’t killed.” Survivor’s guilt. He spent two years in the New York Psychiatric Institute, none the better for treatment, in my opinion. I often think it might have seemed a safe space for him at the time. I was a child when he left and a teenager when he came home. Our relationship changed from “his little champion” to him having to deal with a mouthy teenager with a temper. There are so many questions I would like to ask him now but am grateful for the stories he did tell me after school over tea at the kitchen table. In the News March 1 begins Women’s History Month (womenshistorymonth.gov), and International Women’s Day follows on March 8 (internationalwomensday.com; #IWD2022; #BreakTheBias). The Canyon Chronicle kind of got the jump on the holiday last November when Claire Denis, proprietor of Cafe Mimosa, suggested that we spotlight Topanga’s women entrepreneurs. On November 26, 2021, we created a center spread, “Women in Charge in Changing Times,” featuring three women whose businesses survived the COVID lockdown: Claire ,whose cafe is one of Topanga’s most popular gathering places since it opened in 1993; a newcomer, Elizabeth Carter, who in the middle of the pandemic, opened a yoga studio and skin care business in Pine Tree Circle; and artist Lori Precious, who also has a long Topanga history and no stinkin’ virus is going to stop her. In that same issue, we featured 16-year-old Zoe Mack, who was invited to train with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow for six months. She remains there in training even as Russia’s leader pursues a disgraceful war of choice. Like many Russians, members of the Bolshoi Ballet signed a petition in protest of the war. We stay in touch with Zoe’s parents who say she’s safe. The idea laid fallow for the rest of the year, the Chronicle took a break, and our January 21, 2022 issue featured Kim Zanti and her documentary film project about the Akumal Festival in Mexico, as a feature, not under the “Women in Charge” series. (See “Akumal Diary,” on page10.) Since there are so many accomplished women in the Chronicle’s purview, “Women in Charge” will be ongoing. Suggestions are welcome but they will be added to a long list. “Tycho and the Trash Warriors” is a delightful story about five-year-old Tycho Hendry and how he became an honorary Trash Warrior (Page 4). Part 3 of “The Stone House” continues (pages 8-9) as an ongoing serial publication of an unpublished book by Topanga Historical Society archivist Pablo Capra and Ed O’Neill, current owner of the Stone House. Paula LaBrot’s column, “All Things Connected,” has an interesting take on the Lost Art of Medicine (Page 12). There’s more, but I’m out of space. Practice kindness during the next two weeks, be grateful for what you have and who you are, and pray for those in distress. —Flavia Potenza
The Canyon Chronicle

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