Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

However and whereever you're starting 2011, I hope it's a good one.

If you can find black eyed peas (don't think I can), enjoy a big bowl of Hoppin' John for me.

Much love,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Giving Gifts

Hello Friends,

Here comes my annual holiday time post. I can't believe that this is the third year I'll be writing one of these.

I love getting presents as much as the next person. I love a well-thought-out gift. I love a gift card (even if Slate says they're evil). I love getting a nice note. They're all terrific. Some of the best gifts I have received over the years, however, were from loved ones who donated to a particular cause close to my heart. So, simply, please consider doing the same this holiday season for your family and friends.

If your sister's an outdoor enthusiast, try here.

Or if your roommate cares about Haiti, try here.

And of course, if you choose to donate to mothers2mothers, I know your money would go to a good cause.

Have a warm (or for Southern Hemisphere-ers, balmy) and happy holiday season. And thanks for reading and for your continued support. More posting to come in the new year.

Much love,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Confronting Violence Against Women and Children in South Africa

In South Africa, we are currently observing the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children (25 November-10 December). As you may know, violence against women and children in South Africa is a pervasive issue. South Africa has one of the highest rates of reported rape in the world--and it has been estimated that only one in nine rapes is reported to the police. In 2009, a survey found that 28% of South African men had raped a woman or girl, with 5% reporting that they had committed rape in the past year. In a recent article in the Cape Argus, it was reported that a four-year-old girl who was raped was denied treatment at two separate health facilities when she and her family sought care. One in four South African women is a victim of domestic abuse. Arrest and conviction rates are very low. And with the huge bottlenecks and backlogs in the health sector, counseling, medical treatment, and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to protect against HIV are all difficult to access.

People Against Women Abuse (POWA) is one of the activist organizations heavily featured over the past week, and it has had a lot of visibility due to the video below. It records a man playing drums in a townhouse complex in Jo'burg and then, a few days later, playing a tape of a domestic dispute. Neighbors' reactions differ a bit between the two noise incidents.

Hat tip (H/T) to Allie for supplying the vid.

Snapshots of Home

I returned home for a few days for Thanksgiving and crisscrossed up and down southern and central California, from Ojai to San Diego to Lompoc. Here are a few of the shots I took (mostly from the car). Southern California is a strange place--full of some of the most beautiful natural vistas on the planet, like the Pacific Coast Highway or the Ojai Valley, as well as (the best) freeways, miles of housing developments in repeating patterns, and strip mall after strip mall. In a strange way, I love and miss all of this.

I love the fall color of hills in Southern California. It's a sort of dove-grey, mouse-brown.

Traffic and clouds. One of these is a rare occurrence.

The boobs at San Onofre.

Heading back north towards LA.

The Ojai Valley at dusk. The second-most beautiful place on the planet (sorry, Cape Town wins).

The pink moment on the Ojai Bluffs.

I was lucky to be able to get up to see a friend in Lompoc. This is the J2 Ranch--that's a fresh cow hide hanging on the fence. I didn't get there early enough to see them shoot the steers, but I did get to see a few moments of butchering.

A pond at J2.


Largest tier of a wedding cake (I was relegated to raspberry cutting and lace flower making, which are harder to screw up, removable, or not visible. When offered the chance to ice the cake, I refused--delicacy is not my strong suit).

Gracie and her goats.

The color of the water around the Santa Barbara area is one of my all-time favorite shades.

Looking out over the railroad tracks to the Channel Islands.