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Today was the last full day in Arizona. Once my husband’s step-father got out of the hospital, all of the intense family drama ended. My husband’s one step-sister arrived at the home with her three children and we broke the news to her of what happened the previous night. Then his other step-sister came by with two of her children and we ended up telling her as well. We all loaded up a few cars and ate a lunch at Applebee’s. Soon after we arrived home from lunch, the step-brother whom we visited last night (where that fall that landed my father-in-law in the hospital emergency room) arrived with my father-in-law’s cane (which he left behind last night).

Everything was okay today with only one minor drama. At one point a giant framed poster of a tall ship sailing at sea had suddenly crashed to the floor and caused the glass in the frame to shatter into many pieces. (My father-in-law had recently hung that picture up soon after my mother-in-law’s death.) My husband and I had to take turns dealing with the shattered glass in the carpet and keeping the dog away from the area. (Yes, he was very nosy. I finally solved that problem when I started to eat a snack in another room and the dog followed me there while flashing the saddest eyes he could conjure up.)

I’ve pretty much recovered from that horrible flu bug that gripped me on the first day in Arizona. My father-in-law has gotten over his fall, although he does have minor amnesia regarding his fall and subsequent trip to the hospital. The Mexican-American sister-in-law is also doing okay so far (knock wood!) despite the SB 1070 law.

This trip was pretty much okay. My husband did the bulk of the packing of my mother-in-law’s stuff (like books, clothes, and purses) in boxes so they could be shipped to various friends and relatives. We also tried to teach my father-in-law how to do very simple basic cooking (such as how to brown ground beef), which isn’t easy because he was never encouraged to learn that skill. He told us that his mother strongly felt that men shouldn’t cook and his first wife also echoed that sentiment.

As for his second wife, my mother-in-law, she wasn’t into giving cooking lessons either. She insisted on doing the bulk of the cooking and she considered the kitchen to be her domain. She used to get irritable if other people rummaged through the kitchen drawers and cabinets and I have more memories of her blowing her top regarding other people in the kitchen than I care to admit here. In fact, while she was still alive, the only times I even dared to enter that kitchen were to get myself a drink and to help carry dirty dishes to the sink after a meal.

So we attempted to teach my father-in-law how to cook for himself on those days when the daughter who lives nearest to his home can’t come by to cook a meal for him. Like I said before, we focused on very simple things (like fixing ground beef) and I even provided a brief instruction on how to hard boil an egg for both himself and his dog, Jay-Jay. (That dog loves hardboiled eggs and he gets one as an occasional treat.)

Going through my mother-in-law’s kitchen was also a challenge because she had her own system of organization that she never divulged to anyone else nor did she ever provide any kind of written instructions (mainly because she considered the kitchen to be her domain and her authority there was never questioned or challenged) so she took her kitchen organizing secret with her when she died. We found all kinds of grains that were not labeled and we had no idea what they were. We also found some spices in unlabeled jars as well.

Ultimately we chucked a lot of the unmarked items as well as half of her extensive collection of spices. We wanted to keep the kitchen organization as easy as possible so my father-in-law can cook simple meals.

But there are more things we should teach him regarding cooking but we only had four full days in Arizona and we really could’ve used more time to teach more.

Today two of my teenaged nieces introduced me to this video for a song that they found incredibly funny. It’s called "Shoes" and it was made by someone named Kelly.

So now I have to pack and prepare for the return trip home.


While I have been recuperating, there were two competing rallies regarding SB 1070 in Arizona. One side was protesting in downtown Phoenix, the other side was protesting near where my husband’s step-father lives in suburban Tempe. The downtown Phoenix featured the people who were against SB 1070 and in favor of immigration reform. Naturally the one in Tempe supported SB 1070 and were calling for the deportation of all illegal aliens.

I’m really pissed at that latter rally in Tempe. Ever since my recently deceased mother-in-law remarried and moved to Tempe, I’ve seen first-hand how the suburbanites there routinely hire illegals from Mexico to do the gardening, house painting, pool cleaning, and even child care. These people support SB 1070 while secretly hiring illegal aliens because they are too greedy and cheap to hire U.S. citizens. With U.S. citizens, you are generally required to pay the minimum wage and you also must adhere to laws regarding work hours, occupational safety, and health care—which is something you don’t have to do with illegal aliens. It’s much easier to intimidate an illegal to work longer hours for low pay and fewer benefits than a citizen because an illegal has fewer legal options.

If the suburbanites who were at the Tempe protest would stop hiring illegals, then this problem would go away in a short period of time because people in Mexico would be less likely to make a risky move if there were no jobs available for them. But they are too greedy and self-centered to do so because they want to have their cake and eat it too. And don’t give me that crap about "we need to hire illegals because they do very necessary jobs that U.S. citizens don’t want to do". Given the current high unemployment rate, I’m willing to bet that there are unemployed and underemployed U.S. citizens willing to do the so-called "jobs that U.S. citizens don’t want" that could be hired instead of illegals if it weren’t for the greed and selfishness of the job providers.

This morning I was so tired that I skipped going to the local Episcopalian church that my husband’s step-father belongs to so I could sleep more. The extra rest helped me enough that I was able to walk to the nearby community pool with my husband and do some brief swimming and a little bit of hot tubbing. By the early evening I felt well enough so I was able to go to my husband’s step-brother’s home with my husband and his step-father for a pleasant evening of dinner and conversation.

Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse totally out of the blue. As the three of us were leaving my brother-in-law’s home, my husband’s step-father suddenly fell right on his back on to the floor in the foyer. He was lying there for several minutes totally confused. We managed to get him to sit up only to find blood on the floor where his head was and he was also bleeding on my brother-in-law. At that moment we knew we had to get him to a hospital but he kept on saying "No, I’m fine." Well, my brother-in-law talked him into going to the hospital and he drove him there while my husband and I drove his car back to his house. As of this writing, we are there with my father-in-law’s dog, Jay-Jay, while waiting for word from the hospital. I really hope everything is okay because I really don’t need another sudden family tragedy just two months after my mother-in-law’s sudden death.

As of tomorrow my husband and I will be traveling to Arizona. I know we will be violating that boycott against the state because of its asinine new law that is encouraging police profiling of all Hispanic immigrants regardless of whether they are citizens or not (SB 1070) and its equally asinine newer law prohibiting public schools from teaching the history of non-white ethnic groups (HB 2281). If I had my choice, I would rather honor that boycott but my husband’s recently widowed step-father lives in the state as well as all four of his step-siblings. We are only flying out for the weekend to look in on my father-in-law and go over a few loose ends regarding my late mother-in-law’s estate. While we are there we will look in on my Mexican-American sister-in-law to see how she and her three children are faring since those horrible laws were passed.

If I happened to have any free time while I’m in Arizona, I’ll update this blog. Just keep in mind that if I do so, I won’t be as consistent or prolific as usual. If I end up not having any free time, then I’ll resume writing in this blog after we return and get over the jet lag.

As for my online stores, I’ve just put my Etsy store in vacation mode. My Zazzle store is not directly operated by me so you can still order things from there and get them in a timely fashion.

But it's a dry fascism in Arizona!

Soon after creating the first t-shirt regarding the passage of the new Arizona law (SB 1070), my husband came up with the slogan for another t-shirt. I finally got around to creating a t-shirt around my husband’s idea after I read Sarah Palin’s idiotic quote from yesterday when she said "We’re all Arizonans now." Uh, no, Sarah, we are not all Arizonans. Or at least we are all NOT the white Arizonans who support the police questioning anyone whose skin is darker than caucasian skin and who also support the ban on public schools teaching any kind of ethnic studies class (especially the ones that focus on African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos).

My husband came up with that slogan based on the "But it’s a dry heat" one that one can frequently find on t-shirts, shot glasses, and other stuff sold in Arizona souvenir shops.

You can now purchase that shirt in a variety of sizes, colors, and prices right here.

Alice at the Tea Party

Alice at the Tea Party
ink and watercolor
10 inches x 8 inches
26 cm x 21 cm

This is one of my recently finished pieces that I managed to finish just in time to display at last weekend’s Artdromeda show in Baltimore. I was inspired to create this piece by two phenomenons that have gotten attention in the media–the resurgence in popularity of Alice in Wonderland (fueled in large part by Tim Burton’s hit movie) and the rise of the Tea Party movement in the U.S.

I attempted to emulate the John Tenniel illustrations that were in the original Lewis Carroll books–Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. (Even though there have been numerous Alice in Wonderland editions with illustrations done by other people, one can still find the editions with the Tenniel illustrations on sale in many book stores.) As I worked on it, my own style crept in so it’s not a one-hundred percent copy of John Tenniel’s illustration of the Wonderland tea party.

I did this political parody piece where Alice arrives at a tea party that made the original tea party depicted in Lewis Carroll’s novel seem tame and sane by comparison. The various tea party denizens are based upon the politicians and right wing talk show hosts who have expressed support for the Tea Party movement. The Cheshire Cat is based on Rush Limbaugh (complete with a cigar and the infamous quote where he hoped that Barack Obama fails in his presidency). The Queen of Hearts is based on Rep. Michele Bachmann. The Mad Hatter is based on Glenn Beck (complete with tears in his eyes). The woman who shot and killed the White Rabbit is Sarah Palin. The tiny person in front wearing a Texas state flag jacket and carrying a sign with a misspelled racial slur is based on an actual photograph of a Tea Party activist who actually worn such a jacket and carried such a sign with the misspelled racial slur. The chicken in front is a parody of Sue Lowden (who is running for office in Nevada in the hopes of unseating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), who has frequently said that the high costs of health care can be best achieved by returning to the days when the U.S. was primarily an agrarian society and people paid for doctors visits with a chicken.

There are also the hidden activists who are behind the main characters but are only seen as arms holding various signs. The signs are based on actual photos of real Tea Party rally signs that I’ve seen throughout the Internet. All I had to do was concentrate to make sure that the original misspellings and gramatical errors were left intact.

When my husband first saw this piece, he remarked that Alice seemed pissed. Well, there’s a reason for that pissed off expression on her face. If you were blundering through an unfamiliar place like Wonderland in pursuit of the White Rabbit only to discover that he had been shot to death and his body was being displayed at a mad tea party with far right wing political overtones you happened to stumble upon, you’d be pissed too.

Okay, you can correctly guess that I have a less than favorable impression of the Tea Party movement. If the Tea Party movement had been something that was not affiliated with any political party, not backed by any media company, discouraged the use of racial slurs and/or waving Confederate flags, reached out to diverse groups of people, and stated policies that expressed real reforms aimed at dismantling monopolies in health insurance and oil companies and encouraging well-paying blue collar jobs being moved back to the U.S. from overseas, I would have at least respected that movement. (Heck, it’s possible that I may have even signed on to the movement myself.)

But I’ve heard that many of the Tea Party rallies were organized by Freedom Works (a company founded by former Senate Majority Leader Dick Armey). They have been endorsed by many Republican poiticians. Their rallies have been not only favorably covered by Fox News but they have been actively promoted on that network in such a way as to encourage people to attend them. Individual Tea Party people have waived signs using racial slurs aimed at President Obama without facing any negative consequences from the Tea Party movement organizers. Many Tea Party activists have seemed to refuse to say anything bad about the increased power of corporations (including the creation of monopolies) and–in some cases–have sided with the corporations on such issues as Net Neutraility. On top of that, many rallies seemed to be all-whtie people affairs with little or no minorities. (If the U.S. was a nearly all-white nation, this wouldn’t be an issue. But with the rise in population of people of color in recent years, it’s pretty ludicrous to have all-white movements in this day and age.)

For all the Tea Party movement’s frequent cries of freedom from government oppression, that movement has been strangely silent on Arizona’s recent passage of SB 1070. (Which empowers police officers to ask anyone on the street to prove that he/she are legally in this country and if the person doesn’t have such evidence on him/her at that moment, the police can arrest that person. On top of that, the police can ask that of anyone even if he/she have not been accused of doing anything illegal.) This is the kind of thing that communist and fascist governments do on a regular basis–the kind of governments that the Tea Party movement claim that they are fighting against.

I think there should be a real independent movement consisting of people from diverse races, ethnic groups, religions, social classes, educational levels, and political beliefs coming together for a common cause and who eschews racism and uncivilized behavior in general. I believe that, based on that criteria, the Tea Party simply fails as a real independent movement.

I’ve just opened a new store on Unlike my Etsy shop, which deals with handmade goods made in very limited runs of 10 or less, my Zazzle shop will deal with items printed in large batches that I really can’t handle myself.

So far I only have the following design available but the shirts are available in a variety of sizes, colors, and prices. You can buy this shirt right here.

A Police Officer Asked Me for My ID in Arizona

The bitch has signed that bill into law so the police in Arizona now have the right to harass anyone–both citizens and noncitizens–simply because they look Hispanic. My Mexican-American sister-in-law and her three children (two of them adolescent boys) are now sitting ducks for police harassment and it will all be legal.

When I first heard about this bill, I immediately began to remember the stories I heard about the Third Reich. When Hitler first issued his anti-Semetic laws, the authorities were empowered to harass anyone who was Jewish or who even looked remotely Jewish and it was all legal. Well, I was watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last night when I saw this story about the lawmaker who sponsored that bill is a Republican lawmaker who forwarded articles written by white supremacists to his supporters via e-mail then attended an anti-immigration rally where he was pictured with a J.T. Reddy, a noted white supremacist.

So a Republican lawmaker with ties to white supremacists have sponsored the bill that empowered the police to do the same thing to Hispanics what the SS did to the Jews during the early days of the Third Reich–harass them.

Of course the Third Reich didn’t stop with just harassing Jews. They came up with concentration camps, where millions of them were slaughtered. If this bill is allowed to stand in Arizona, will that same Republican lawmaker with ties to white supremacists sponsor a bill authorizing the creation of concetration camps in the desert? After all, why stop with harassing Hispanics when the authorities can come up with a Final Solution and get rid of them once and for all?

I hope the Federal Government intervenes in this and overrules Arizona because this bill is totally draconian.

Not all people living in Arizona like that new bill that has just passed the state legislature giving police the right to ask for ID of anyone who looks Hispanic, regardless of whether he/she is a citizen or whether he/she has been accused of a crime.

I’m still worried about the future of my Mexican-American sister-in-law and her three half-Hispanic children–all of whom live in Phoenix. If that bill gets signed by the governor, all of them will be sitting ducks for police harassment.

Until her death last month, my mother-in-law spent the last several years of her life in Arizona. She grew up outside St. Louis, went to college in Ohio, and raised a family with her first husband in New York. Of all the places she lived, she seemed to like Phoenix the best. She would proudly point out the state’s highway beautification programs, talk about how low the unemployment rate is in Phoenix, and expressed gratitude that she has had to stop shoveling snow since she arrived in the state.

She would’ve been horrified by the lastest news in Arizona, where the legislature has just passed an new resolution (SB 1070) which gives police the right to ask anyone who they think are illegal immigrants for identification papers. They now have the right to ask this of both immigrants and citizens at will without having to prove justifiable search and seizure nor do they have to be suspected of committing any kind of crime. Since the vast majority of recent immigrants living in Arizona–both legal and illegal–are from Mexico, the police have been empowered to pull over anyone who looks Hispanic to demand legal identification on just little more than a whim. And if, for some reason, the person is a legal citizen who just happened to have left his/her legal papers at home, the cops have the right to arrest that person on the spot.

My husband has a step-sister who is a Mexican-American. She was born in the United States to a Mexican-American family and she was later adopted by my husband’s step-father and his first wife (both of them white caucasians of European descent). Thanks to the fact that she is a Mexican-American who currently lives in Phoenix, she is now at risk of being harrassed by the cops simply because she is a Latina. Her three half-Hispanic children are also at risk for such harrassment. Never mind the fact that her and her three children were all born in the United States and they are American citizens. They are now sitting targets for any cop who’s in the mood to cause trouble for someone who looks Latino and they won’t have any legal recourse unless some court decides to rule this new law unconstitutional.

What’s more, my mother-in-law was actively involved in the Civil Rights movement back in the 1960’s. (She and her first husband–my father-in-law–were actively involved in the local New York City area chapter of CORE until there was an internal dispute, some militant blacks took over the leadership, and asked all the white members to leave because they wanted to fight their own battles themselves without any help from other races/ethnic groups.) Given her civil rights background and her Mexican-American step-daughter and grandchildren, she would’ve been horrified by what happened in her own state.

I heard there are now calls for an economic boycott of that state if the governor decides to sign that bill. I feel torn because I want to make a statement about how I feel about Arizona’s boneheaded move by voting with my money but, on the other hand, my husband’s step-father and step-siblings still live in the state and I would love to visit them from time to time.

At this point, I wish they all live in New Mexico or California.

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