Waging Peace: The Carter Center, The Old Globe and an Extraordinary Day in San Diego

Camp David old globe

The Old Globe Camp David Program

Jimmy Carter is one of my heroes.

Theater has long been my passion.

So when an invitation arrived to attend a west coast premiere of Camp David at The Old Globe theatre in San Diego, I pounced. The program exceeded my expectations and left me feeling hopeful for our troubled world.

The Carter Center

Founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter,  the Atlanta-based Carter Center has helped to improve the quality of life for people in more than 70 countries. The Center, in partnership with Emory University, is committed to advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering.

Our Weekend

We gathered at The Old Globe for a luncheon and a presentation by Hrair Balian. Balian is the Director of the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center.

carter center Hrair Balian

Hrair Balian, The Carter Center

I could have listened to him speak all day. His presentation was brief, but informative, touching on many subjects that I would like to learn more about.  I was able to appreciate all of the Center’s efforts towards peace. In conversations about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), The Carter Center involvement includes:

  • Relations with all, across multiple divides
  • Involvement of women, siting UN Security Council Resolution 1325
  • Factual conflict analysis
  • Coordination with the UN
  • Peaceful transition for Syria

and more. We were able to chat with Mr. Balian before lunch and sat with him during the play, which we loved.

The Old Globe, San Diego

Waiting for the start of Camp David at The Old Globe

Camp David received a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd. Playwright Lawrence Wright is also an awarding winning journalist. His thorough research, including access to the Carters, led him to add Rosalynn Carter as the fourth character in the play. Rosalynn Carter is a powerful force in her own right, advocating for mental health care around the globe.

Conversations with Playwright Larry Wright

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, author and playwright Lawrence Wright wrote the play, Camp David, and a follow-up book called Thirteen Days in September Days. It chronicles the thirteen days at Camp David that led to a peace accord between Israel and Egypt, facilitated by the President Carter. Peace between those two countries remains thirty years later.

Wright spoke with us after the play, and we joined in a question and answer session; also far too brief. What a fascinating man. They hope to bring Camp David to Broadway in the near future.

Special thanks to Seema Shams and Marian Dickson of The Carter Center

If you’re interested in learning more, here are a few links:

Here are a few snapshots from the rest of our weekend. We walked along the Shelter Island harbor, ate dinner near Balboa Park, and enjoyed an outdoor breakfast at our hotel.

Monday Morning Musings

sweet pea

Sweet Pea

I really should be in bed, but instead I’m tapping away at my keyboard. It’s 12:21 am meaning it’s officially Monday here in San Jose, California. I’ve become much more aware of the time zones since blogging. Five minutes ago I had a brief exchange with Helen who is starting her day in England. On this side of the pond, I’m about to head to bed.

Blogging allows for an intimacy I never would have imagined. Unlike Facebook which can feel superficial, bloggers open themselves up with a genuine honesty and desire to connect. The very nature of blogging is about sharing of yourself and engaging with those who stop by to read and comment. Chances are you’ll go have a look at what they’re up to, and the exchanges that follow captivate, educate, entertain and enthrall.

In a few hours, my dear friend Kelly will board a plane to Washington, D.C. I’ll be joining her and others at the end of the week. We’re kindred spirits, soul sisters, and the best of friends. She’s the friend I didn’t know I was missing till we met. Now it feels that I’ve known her for a lifetime. Improbably, we met through blogging.

When I get off the plane Friday evening, Laurie, will be there to meet me. It will be the first time we meet in person, yet it feels completely natural that she’s picking me up and that we’ll all head to her place later in the week for a few day’s stay. I met her through blogging as well.

I’m counting the days till I can wrap my arms around Pauline. She’s flying all the way from New Zealand, a long and exhausting flight. We’ve had intimate conversations via Skype and look forward to long talks and even deeper understanding in our time together. Yep. She’s a blogger.

Julia’s life is about defeating despair. Her optimistic spirit carries her through some very dark days, yet she’s opened her home and her heart to us all. We share a mutual love of books as well as the joys and sorrows of raising children whose heart beats to a different drum. We all want to be understood for who we are and to be loved unconditionally just the same.

Just five more days and I’ll be descending on D. C. Extraordinary experiences await.

 

 

The Winter That Never Was

daffodils

Daffodils growing in the curb garden

Spring is technically less than a month away, but the view outside my window is shouting, spring, spring, spring!

pink hyacinth and fuchsia freesia

‘William and Kate’ Hyacinth and fuchsia Freesia

San Jose, California is more that two-thirds of the way through the winter that never was.

Initially, I gave Winter the benefit of the doubt. Though the calendar announced the arrival of winter solstice in late December, Winter decided to take his time. As a woman in her mid-fifties, I respect that. I no longer move like a twenty year old and my memory isn’t that great either. Winter, however, forgot about January entirely. No rain and above-average temps ruled the month. Winter left us high and dry, leading us into year four of our historic drought.

Okay, so December and January came and went, but surely February would live up to its winter reputation: cold, windy and wet. We’re ready.

san jose temperatures february

Source: Accuweather

As you can see by the Accuweather chart above, virtually every day this month has been warmer than average, sometimes by as much as 12 degrees. Winter says no can do.

While the rest of the country is battered by rain, wind, sleet and snow, it seems ungrateful to complain. I enjoy beautiful weather as much as the next gardener, but it feels like cheating. It’s supposed to rain in January. February is known for cold, windy days and a good splashing isn’t unheard of either. Our forests, rivers, lakes and wildlife depend on it.  Winter left town and I miss him terribly.

Winter, won’t you please come home?

Connections: Our Big Beautiful World

Nandini and boys

Nandini and our boys

Sunday morning I spoke with my long-time friend, Nandini via Skype. She currently lives in Chennai, India. It’s wonderful to connect.

I shared this passage on Facebook:

Nandini and I worked together at a start-up called Pretzel Logic Software in 1995. We became fast friends, then first time moms when we had our boys just six weeks apart in 1997. We supported each other through those sometimes difficult and perplexing first months of parenthood. We met weekly for tea, pushed our strollers through the park, and enjoyed time at our respective homes. It was a sad parting when she moved back to Chennai in 2000 in order to support her aging family. I’m grateful for the technology that allows us to continue our conversations, and to marvel at the fact that those baby boys will soon turn 18.

That’s when all the connections (my word of the year) started rolling in.

When you tag someone in a photo on Facebook, their friends can see it too. After several lovely comments from my local friends, Nandini’s cousin, Sujatha left a few words. When she did, it showed that we had a mutual friend named Akila. Akila’s son attended pre-school with my younger son here in California. Incredible.

Akila joined the conversation, saying she knew Nandini’s cousin as a family friend. That’s when Nandini’s friend, Parvathi posted, saying she also knows Akila. Nandini knows Parvathi because their sons are schoolmates in India.

It’s been amazing discovering these connections throughout the day. I’m humming with the joy of it.

How about you? Have you uncovered an unexpected connection between a friend or colleague? Please share your story in the comments section, below.

Any one person is connected to any other person through six or fewer relationships, because it’s a small world. SixDegrees.org is about using this idea to accomplish something good. It’s social networking with a social conscience.

It Rained!

Yes, folks, right here in San Jose, California, in the midst of a protracted drought, it rained. In September.

Real rain too, not that “did I just feel a drop?” kind of rain, but puddle-forming, windshield-wiping, garden-refreshing rain.  I lingered in bed this morning with the doors flung open and took in the mesmerizing sounds and smells. Then I got dressed and went outside.

gardener in the rain

Rain, glorious rain!

Good thing, too, since the sun was out by 10 but I enjoyed the refreshing drops while they lasted.

acer leaves

Acer leaves

deck in the rain

Cloudy skies and Salvia reflected on the deck

This is a tremendous gift to the firefighters battling the King Fire in Northern California. We are not in harm’s way, but others are. Many of  the state’s late-summer fires are the result of lightning. Sadly this one was arson. Fortunately they’ve made an arrest, but the fire has raged out of control for two weeks.

The good news today is that the fire is 43% contained, but the damage is unbelievable. 95,000 acres burned and a dozen homes lost.  Their are over 8,000 fire personnel from across the country battling the flames.

Today I celebrate rain in my little corner of the world, as well as the potential relief for crews on the fire lines and displaced residents in our parched state.

Let it rain, let it rain!

 

Here’s the latest from the Weather Channel:

Western Drought Monitor

Western drought status as of Sept. 16, 2014. Darker shading indicates progressively worse drought status. (NOAA/USDA/NDMC)

Yes, runoff triggered by soaking rain from this September storm in far northwest California will raise a tad.

However, the key to drought relief in California is not rain, but snow.

Critical to water supply in this part of the country is the buildup of winter snow pack in the mountains, whose melt water in the spring replenishes reservoirs.

Snow melt provides up to 75 percent of the West’s freshwater supply. The Sierra and, to a lesser degree, Colorado River snow melt, is crucial for California.

In short, California and the West needs a persistently wet winter, with a combination of significant rain and mountain snow to replenish groundwater and reservoir levels.

Snow-in-a-Can, Winter Wonderland

Early last week, I received a package in the mail.  Not just any old package, but a package from a garden gnome named Alyster.  He’s a clever little fellow, small enough to fit in your hand, but full of big ideas.

Alyster says he’s “up to his eyeballs in snow” and wishes he could come back to stay in sunny California.  I wish he would come and stay, too.  I need to check in with his traveling companion, Boomdee.

Since Alyster is missing the sun, he thought I might be missing the snow.  (You are so right, Alyster).  That clever garden gnome sent me snow-in-a-can.  Just add water and watch the snow grow.  Along with the snow came a tiny glass igloo, and the smallest scarf you’ve ever seen.

snow in a can

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

So what does one do with snow-in-a-can, a tiny igloo and a pint-sized red scarf?  You make a snow globe!

Several years ago, my friend Marcia sent us this super-cool acrylic globe.  We’ve used it in many ways over the years.  It was a terrarium for a while till the plants outgrew it.  One year we filled it with colored silk Christmas ornaments.  It’s also beautiful unadorned.

Acrylic globe

Acrylic globe

This season it’s a tiny winter wonderland.  Here’s what I did:

I filled the bottom with airfill packing, then topped with a paper plate, cut to fit the opening.

Airplus Packing material

AIRplus Packing material

I foraged a couple of Christmas ornaments from our tree to help set the scene.  We bought the tiny wooden snowman for our first tree 18 years ago.  We were starting from scratch so we bought a small tree and even smaller ornaments at a local import store.  The little door decoration came from our local Hallmark store the year we remodeled our house.

snow globe details

Snow globe details

I added sprigs of Christmas greens, a small pathway and then it was time to let it snow.  I haven’t had this much fun in ages.

It’s ‘snowing’ on WordPress throughout December.  I can’t wait to hit the publish key so I can watch the snow falling on my winter wonderland.

PS…Alyster, I found your flip-flops.  You left them on the bottom of the box.  Please pop over to pick them up whenever you like.  🙂  I’ll keep the light on for you.

snow globe

Snow globe

under the dome

Under the dome

falling snow

Now just linger over this last photo and wait for the snow to fall

 

Garden Update: Frosty and Dry

Days of unseasonal frost have left my garden looking desolate. I raced past the dying tomato plant on my way to dump kitchen scraps.  I upended them into the compost bin, then raced back inside for warmth.

frozen tomato plant

Tomatoes last stand

Still no rain in sight, other than one brief storm last month. The days are cold and dry.

The leaves have been off the Pistache since mid-November, but the maple is just now turning color. It’s nice that they set color at different times. It gives us a chance to enjoy each one.

japanese maple

View from my living room window

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Somewhat comically, I won’t need to refrigerate my bulbs this year.  Generally speaking, California isn’t cold enough so we have to tease the bulbs with a six-week chill.  They’re getting plenty of cold in the garage and should be ready to go soon. I’m not ready, but they are.

The hyacinth bulbs are popping up, happy with the autumn chill.  When they finally bloom, the smell is potent and intoxicating.  I can’t wait.  It evokes a happy childhood memory, so I look forward to breathing that in each year.

hyacinth

hyacinth

I’m off to the craft store to buy some ribbon for the finishing touches on a gift. One last seasonal trip to the post office tomorrow.

What’s happening in your corner of the world? I’m behind on my reading, but look forward to catching up with all your lovely comments, and blogs, soon.