About This Blog

For the next 365 days, I am focusing on KARMA as my resolution to 2010. I'm open for stories, ideas and kismet. EMAIL ME.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cuckoo for Plaid

My little sister bought me a random gift from WalMart that I was able to exchange for two new dress shirts for work. The Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs t-shirt was exchangeable for two Clearance rack shirts to kick of my new school year in style.

Karma is a random act of kindness - KC's - which turned into nice attire I would never buy for myself. Yesterday was a lucky day, indeed (as if she bought me a Lucky Charms t-shirt).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ah, finally a summer day.

I finally took a day off.

I cleaned my garage, drove to my parents, ran ten miles, sat by the pool and read an entire book: Tyrell by Coe Booth. Something got into my father, too, and he went to the store to get vegetables, then stir fried on the grill.

I rotated between the plastic chair on the deck and a raft. I simply soaked in the sun and applauded the sky for not having a single cloud in it. For the most part, the only view I had today was off the words on the page of my book, the foot resting on the ladder and the crystal clear chlorinated water. Oh, and my mom.

We have to soak in the summer karma while we have it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Karma is never learning a lesson

Every year I get pumped to go to the New York State Fair and every year, after an hour of sitting in dead traffic, I regret going. Last night, however, the crowds to see Rhianna and Styx far exceeded any Fair crowd in my memory.

In short, I wanted someone to place a gun to my head. It was so bad, I didn't even get fried dough.

You would think one would learn this lesson year after year, but the truth is the ritual is part of CNY's karma and it has to be experienced every year. Whereas I haven't had a vacation in four years, the State Fair is my one big splurge: a total of $5 to park, $10 to get in, and usually, USUALLY, $5 for fried dough. This year I saved money and left hungry and sad for the human race.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jake Attack!

A week ago, Jake was apprehensive about taking four or five steps. A week later, it's like, 'Where is he now???"

He's walking, wobbling, moving, climbing, disappearing, strategizing, thinking, meandering and galavanting anywhere his chubby legs will take him.

And Dave and Casey? They're trying to keep up like the babysitter in the Pixar short, Jack Attack! Yes, karma is the way a parent mush muster up the energy to keep up with their kids. Run, Jake! Run!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Welcoming Friday

Remaining true to my acrostic fanaticism and in order to welcome a new faculty member to our University family, I created a karmic gift to say, "Syracuse says hello." Such playfulness is my way of channeling AnERip.

a poem for your arrival

R ivers. Siddhartha learned they are music, and
o n the banks of Vasudeva’s ferry (in the
c horus of movements, the chimes of fluidity, the
h armony of humming and the serenity of winds) – the
e nvironmental cacophony of everything can be learned:
l iving is laughing and laughing is learning & we must
l earn to laugh and live to learn more. We must
e arn the bliss that wisps from the kiss of each and every day.

D ate et dabitur vobis*
a s it was given unto others before us.
i sing the songs of southern blues, but
l atch upon the northern hues orchestrated in the Syracuse sky.

* (give and it shall be given unto you)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Accomplishing the American Dream

I attended Upstate's white coat ceremony for incoming students last night to support my friend Marino Mauro. Marino is a graduate of LeMoyne College and studying to be a Physician's Assistant after his four years of undergraduate study and continuing education at Syracuse University. Standing outside an auditorium that was donated by a family who is seven years in the medical field, I began to think about how historical it was to be with Marino last night - the only Sudanese American in this particular graduating class (other individuals from international backgrounds were also present).

From the wars in Sudan, the orphaned childhood, and the belief in the American system, Marino is putting in 20 hour days to fulfill his goal. Attending the ceremony with Lino Ariloka (who was featured in Ping Chong's Tales of the Salt City), I felt a sense of karmic pride. He introduced us as his Syracuse family which redefines the global reality of the 21st century and success in the United States.

I am proud of Marino for his hard work and the efforts it will continue to take for him to accomplish the next step of his life. Buying him a copy of David Egger's What is the What is a small token of appreciation for celebrating his historical place on this earth. As Lino and I remarked on the drive home, "The Gods Must Be Crazy."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I am not really posting this Karma Blog. The truth is, I put all my posts in the system a month ago, so I could enjoy one week in August at a beach resort and where I could put my feet in the sand, everyday, and look out at a blue ocean.

See, I feel I deserve a little time off.

The end-of-the-semester stress of Spring bled quickly into the stress of summer teaching, employment, and projects. Now, a week away from the Fall semester, I'm forcing myself to take time off. That is why I'm away. I needed to get away.

Okay. Karma is having a vivid imagination.

I am in gray Syracuse and spending my time off transcribing interviews and getting prepared for all that is to come. I will get my vacation someday, but not for a while. Because of this, I will need to channel my dreams more than usual and create nirvana in my head.

And that is why, right now, I think I'm going back to bed...yeah, right. By the time you read this, I will be back at the grind.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yesterday, it rained

But I had my green golashes to keep my feet dry. Seriously, I don't think it stopped raining for one second, but karma comes from being prepared.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What's missing in the post is the wonderful breeze

The Syracuse Lost Boys of Sudan Cow Project spent its third year at the Stone Quarry Park Pottery Show in Cazenovia, New York. It has become a ritual I look forward to.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

First Steps

When I moved home in the summer of 2007, I was taking the next steps to a new journey that included being closer to my family and challenging myself to the next level of my academic journey. As I've tried to get my footing on this new ground, I wobbled and fell to my knees a few times.

Fast forward to the birth of Jacob Charles. Because I've been home, I was around for his birth, the joy he brings to the world, and the role of being a God Father. What does that title entail? It is my job to assist my nephew with all the steps taken in life, even the spiritual ones.

Last night, I was there for an additional challenge. The twins from Liberia were with me and they encouraged Jacob's stability on two feet and coached him towards the upward mobility and confidence it takes to put one foot in front of the other. It is Ramadan, and they are also fasting, and driven to prayers several times a day. While they cheered Jacob on, Dave was able to explain to Sean about the twins' prayers and rituals of being Muslim.

In the strange way the world works, I can't help but think that their world of prayers, their stories of making it in America, and now, their friendship with my family, was meant to happen. They've helped me, as a God Father, to be around for my God son's next steps in life. I am at a place where I will be slowly trying to stand upward, myself, to write about the world they've allowed me through their conversations, memories, and experiences. As the Fall comes forward (and I hope I don't fall), I will be using my fingers to move forward, myself, and to make sense of the knowledge they've given me come alive with my studies in literacy.

So, J.C., you and I are in a similar place. As the film, Slum Dog Millionaire, declared, "It is written." And it is written in a karmic way.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm not Sikh, I'm just learning.

Two summers ago, I taught in a program at LeMoyne College and met a young man from India. This year, he'll be a senior and he contacted me to read a few of his college essays he's prepared for the upcoming year. His goal is to major in mathematics, environmental science, and/or film. He will be the first in his family to go to college and, if luck has it, he should go on full scholarship. He's a bright kid and I was honored by the karma of meeting up with him again.

Sanjeev is Sikh. No, he's not ill, but a disciple of the religion's dogma. A unique feature of the religion is a non-anthropomorphic concept of God (meaning he doesn't come in the shape and form of mankind). Instead, God in the Universe, itself. Sanjeev explains it as a combination of Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism.

It's always wonderful to be back in contact with someone you once taught to and to be able to help them move to the next step of their life. Each step is more complicated, of course, but they are easier when others are around.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pottery Fair in Cazenovia next weekend

Pottery Fair in Cazenovia next weekend: "Local artisans display, demos & make your own"

This may be the last chance for everyone to go to Cazenovia to see the Cow Project in action. We began our sales here and we are hopeful that another karmic year will be with us. It is always a beautiful weekend and Stone Quarry Park is a beautiful place to be for this even.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Over the weekend, I headed out for a six mile run thinking I missed the showers, but I miscalculated. About two miles out, the skies opened up and I was drenched.

These are miraculous, karmic days, and the cold water feels most awesome against the perspiring skin.

Actually, I look to such runs as magical, because I would not head out if it was already raining, but am thankful to be on the road when the drops begin to fall.

Perseverance and perspiration go beautiful with precipitation.

Monday, August 16, 2010

chop chop chop

Over the summer, I guided the art of digital storytelling with students entering high school. On the day of their debut, students had the audio, the visual, but the actual art of a digital story didn't work out as planned. One young man, too, came in the morning with very specific directions for me and a teacher, Jodi, to sing back up to his rap which he wanted to use for credits.

A few weeks later (it's Monday), I have his video the way he wanted it to be seen. Karma is perseverance and not giving up on the cause of a creative brain.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fou Fou Poo Poo

This post is for Nikki, several months before the song get into her head and she's tired of hearing it. Northstars JV. Let go, Nikki, you know you'll never be as cool as your mom. Just Let go!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Waxwings and Butterflies

The end-of-the-summer season has brought a plethora of Monarch butterflies through the area heading to Mexico for the winter. Actually, I have come across a few of them stranded on the highways of life with clipped wings caused by windshields and bumpers. One, stroked-out victim was struggling on the side of the road and I thought, hmmm, I wonder if this little guy needs mouth to mouth resuscitation. Then I thought about how funny this would look to a person driving by...this man blowing a butterfly into the wind out of the palm of his hand. It made for a comic thought, if only for a moment.

Then, last night in Manlius, the sojourning Cedar Waxwings made a stop at the Swan pond. They aren't as brilliantly colored at this time of the year, but they are still as magical as ever.

Karma is the return of the cycle and knowledge that summer (and its supposed vacation) is very short lived.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm a Lumberjack and I'm okay.

My pops came over in the afternoon, yesterday, with his lumberjack tools. We went to work splitting logs for the winter.

See, it's August, high humidity, and there's nothing better to get done than to think far ahead to the winter months. The cicadas are buzzing, the wasps are flying, and the Black Eyed Susans are in full bloom, welcoming the traveling Monarchs, but just around the corner are the 8 months of Central New York winter. One can never have enough wood chopped and ready to put in the stove.

I never knew how therapeutic and fun it is to split wood. It may be taxing on the muscles, but it feels awesome on the body. I love doing the physical stuff as an alternative to all the mind crap I've chosen for a career. I am thinking, in fact, that I may split more wood tomorrow. Like Aesop's grasshopper and the ants, it is always good to think ahead.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Bantu Reading

Last night, several volunteers and I completed the summer writing program at Central Village for adolescent Somali Bantu writers. These are young men and women who came every wednesday night to explore short fiction, personal writing, poetry, interviewing, script-writing and art. Under the stellar leadership of our fearless captain, Robbi (the hugged deity in the center of this entourage), the students read their best pieces last night before their summer writing is sent off to press (a Bantu Zine). Some of their phenomenal work will be traveling around town on Centro buses, as well, demonstrating and welcoming the ever-changing Central New York community.

Karma works in magical ways when one is surrounded by youth. The power of words cannot be described accurately, nor can the strength of what these young people bring to Syracuse. Their energy, humor, drive, ambition and zest for life will surely be missed on Wednesday evenings. Well, at least the ways it has been centralized in one place this summer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

in a parallel universe

Karma is teaching Liberian twins how to parallel park with a Ford Explorer on the first day of Ramadan when they woke up at 4 a.m. to pray, when they've not had anything to eat or drink since sunrise, when they've dedicated the next 30 days to a world with no girls, no cussing, and no evil, and when there's 100% humidity in the air. Karma is pure joy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Summer Box Checked

My summer cohort turned in their final projects tonight and I distributed writer's notebooks and doodle poems (using their names) to say goodbye. Karma is knowing the hard work comes to an end and accomplishments are felt.

Apples. At the core, it can be as simple as this. After the
laughter of children subsides on a chaotic school day and the
yodels of the young are ready to go home and play,
some little kid stands and offers you an apple. at that moment,
everything is compacted in red deliciousness and a toothless smile.

“Please,” the child says, “it’s an
apple for you that I picked while at the orchard last
saturday; I grabbed this one especially for you…
since you’re always bringing us gifts
and we’re always driving you
nuts.” With this fruit, they place the galaxy in your hand and
tip toe back to the hallway.
every once in a while the magic is obvious after taking the first bite.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Crandall Boys

Uncle Milford came to town to visit with his brother,
as I sit and type this post he visits with my father and my mother.
The hair upon this Crandall duo is shaved and history's past,
but with the karma and brotherhood, the love will always last.

It is always wonderful to see my relatives side-by-side...
and I type this post on Monday morning with nothing else but pride.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mardis Deck

The 2010 Isgar Deck Party took place last night with the theme of Mardis Gras meets Minute to Win It.
The weather was great, the food was outstanding, and the coolers were filled. In the words of Cheryl's husband, "Wife, this doesn't look good."

After the first round of games, it looks like Mike's new truck was the only one to win anything, although Cynde and Mike did look rather nice decked out in crepe paper.

But it was all good. Thanks to Cynderballs and Mike for another great summer party.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


The bad karma is that my garage broke when I went to shut it this morning after I mowed the lawn. The wood rotted out and the handle, locked onto a plank, tore off. There is no way she'll come down and I will need a new garage door.

The good karma is I have screens that fit into the door and can temporarily be placed to create a barrier to the outdoor world.

But I will will to spend money and be reminded of the joys of home ownership. And I will be reminded that I chose risk to live my life and am getting by with minimal income and stability. The reality sets in and having a good salary would feel so, so nice right now.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Okay, so I like them

Jim Stafford entertained my record player as a kid. His song was on an LP that went on my whirling spinner on numerous occasions, and besides Cynde's Jack Wagner record, I think it was the only other record we owned. It had "Won't you take me to, Funky Town..." on it, too, and I forgot about this song. I think it is a transitional piece out of Rock n Roll, the 60s, and the acidity of the 70s. It's corny, but I always liked it.

And I thought about it yesterday when a black, hairy spider fell on me from the ceiling and took off in spastic glee all around my house. He was charged and I got a kick out of how fast he moved all around my house. Then when I went outside, there were three grass snakes on my front porch simply sitting there feeling the world with their tongues. They didn't move when I stepped outside, and pretended they were sticks.

They say both spiders and snakes are lucky creatures and to have them around is a good indicator of karma. I hope so. I know many are freaked out by them, but I sort of like their company and friendship.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

the key to karma is magnetism

Bad luck comes in three.

He called from the emergency room last weekend. He had caught his hand on a nail and needed a tetanus shot and stitches. He also told me he got a ticket for a turn signal that didn't work. He called again, this morning, to tell me he was twirling his keys, they flew from his hand, and they landed in the sewer outside his apartment building. The housing authority, the police, the firemen wouldn't help.

When I arrived, I was wearing a Hawaii 5-0 meets Magum P.I. button down shirt and the crowd was curious by my attire and what I was there to do. He knew the keys were deep in the sewer, but he didn't know where. Just down. The crowd of Bantu mothers, draped in colorful garbs that made my Hawaiian shirt fade in the American landscape, chanted in tongues not proficient with English.

I suggested we go to a store and find a magnet. Auto Zone helped and I purchased a magnet on a stick that was capable of picking up 20 pounds. I worried we'd pull out condoms, hypodermic needles, and a few bras (the kids were watching). We needed string because the magnet wasn't long enough and we needed a plan so we could rope the magnet down. We crossed the street where a woman with colored hair like a My Little Pony tail wore golden Daisy Dukes and was buying menthol cigarettes. The Rite Aid only had shoelaces, so that's what I purchased to use.

We jimmied the string and magnet and went fishing with the crowd of children growing and the onlookers coming out of their apartments more curious than before. We didn't catch a thing (not even a penny). We grew more frustrated.

I saw a woman's mop and I wondered if we could use it. She undid the handle and gave it to us and we used the shoelaces to tie the magnet to the wooden pole. We poked in the water, but couldn't see because it was getting dark. We tied the string to the mop. I was nervous the string would get loose and we'd lose the magnet to the pipes below - both the keys and magnet would travel underneath the earth to destinations unknown. We pulled out the and the two of us tightened the string  that held the magnet.  He fished. He was unsuccessful. Yet, he kept trying.

I had to go. I announced this several times and the last I did, Abdi pulled the sparkling keys from the sewer below. He was playing the game Operation and was meticulous to not set off the patient's red nose. The keys came straight out right when we all were about to give up.

On the ring was his house key and the only key his family had to their car. Abdi is the man of the house and he drives everyone to destinations that support their American survival. He has his license and drives his mom to work, to get groceries, and to wash their clothes. He drives to Utica to purchase and bring home goat meat so his family has food. He drives kids to their doctor's appointments and cousins to their schools. He brings them all to Maine and Boston to visit their relatives. The wheels that he uses are central to their existence and the keys to that car are what ignite everything to happen in America.

The shoelaces cost $3 and the magnet cost $6. For under $10, I witnessed a rare magic that my cynical brain didn't believe was possible. The keys came out with ease, although it took quite a while to get them magnetized because we were searching for a black cat in a dark basement when we both doubted the cat was even there. When I saw the keys, I looked to the sky in awe. Abdi did the same. He knows the world of prayers better than I, but together we shook hands in bewilderment and felt blessed. He had spent all day worrying about those keys and I felt horrible that he was in this situation.

On my way home, I began to think of his life. Running from Somalia. Arriving to camps in Kenya. Making his way to Kakuma. Collecting canvases dropped by the UN that were left empty when the rice began to fill plates so he and his mother could sew them together to make shelter from the desert winds. He seldom went to school. His mother needed him more to help her with younger siblings and to protect her from the dangers Bantu women faced.

I heard a phone ring underneath the passenger seat of my truck and knew it wasn't my phone. The ring startled me from my daydream of life in Kakuma Refugee camp. He left his phone in my truck. The dark cloud came in four for him, and I drove back to return it to him. He couldn't go a day without it because, like the keys, his phone was central to the family's survival. Without his keys, they couldn't enter the apartment located under the Carrier Dome - the Bricks.

Karma needs to stay with him a while. He's a deserving kid who's been through enough.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

After a Great Showing all summer!!!

After an early defeat in June by a low-rated team, the Nottingham Bulldog Summer Team came back and walked home with the Central New York Summer League Championship last night at West Genesee High School. Defeating Clinton High School after two overtimes, the Bulldogs stormed the field in celebration: 3 - 2!

The Posse was stoked so we went for pizza afterwards. Karma is watching the World Cup in the local, suburbia of Wildcat Country and knowing the athleticism of the Nottingham team was triumphant tonight.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Finishing Best Practices in Writing Instruction

There is only one week left of my summer teaching and I am posting the voices of my students as they reviewed one of the texts we read. Why? Well, I wanted to have a place where I could link to last night's conversation and KARMA seemed like the right spot.

Karma is having the ability to double dip where ever possible so that things just might work out in the end.

For those of you not interested in this, I highly recommend not watching this video. It is task specific and rather random to the usual postings on this site.

Monday, August 2, 2010

and the footage of a karmic reunion

And here we have it...with a couple audio glitches and the mere fact I failed at capturing everyone in one night. Thanks to Facebook posters who provided a few images, too.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

And twenty years went by

There's something to be said for change, growing, moving forward, entering stages, and reflecting on where we once were and where we might one day be.

Reuniting with 188 or so of 1990 CNS graduates has me in a state of contemplation and wonder. So much changes so quickly and at the pace that can't be comprehended. Nothing sits still and we all ride the changes for what they are. The best of us take it in stride and roll with the journey. Today will not be tomorrow. Yesterday simply is a figment of what we once were. It's impressive karma, actually, and hits the heart in extremely profound ways.

For that, I am thankful.