Bravo Mario Molina, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom 2013

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was handed out today to 16 exceptional Americans, civilians that have made important contributions to this country. It is the highest civil honor anyone can receive in the US. I’m always impressed by this ceremony and the range of all the people who receive this recognition.

As I watched the evening news recap, where they kept focusing on the 2 most famous recipients of the group, la Oprah Winfrey and Mr. William Jefferson Clinton, aka the best president in my humilde opinión, I noticed that in the back row right behind President Obama was a familiar face. Why yes! It was Mario Molina, who also received this award today.

President Obama awards Mario Molina the Presidential Medal of Freedom 2013.

President Obama awards Mario Molina the Presidential Medal of Freedom 2013.

This amazing scientist and chemist happens to have won a Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry (1995) and is the person who alerted everybody in the world that the ozone layer was going to be kaput if we didn’t do something about the environment asap. But also important to note, Mr. Molina was born in Mexico (México, DF, 1943 to be exact) and he came to the US in 1968 to continue his graduate studies in chemical engineering at Berkeley. ¡Es de los nuestros!

He studied how chlorofluorocarbons are depleting the ozone layer (I guess we need to read more about it.) He continues to study how the environment is affected by all the messed up things que los seres humanos do to this planet of ours. President Obama said, “Today, inspired by his example, we’re working to leave our planet safer and cleaner for future generations.”

So I’m very proud. Even though he didn’t get air time on TV como Oprah, it was nice to see him get this recognition and see him among the group.

Muchas Felicidades, Mr. Molina. Qué honor tan grandeY muchas gracias for all the important work you do.

(The group also included musician Arturo Sandoval, the fearless Gloria Steinem, the talented Loretta Lynn, the first female astronaut Sally Ride (+) and the editor Ben Bradley, among others. A most admirable group of individuals.)

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First time hiking in LA: Fryman Canyon

Los Angeles is a wonderful and complex city, filled with freeways and concrete, but surrounded by hills and a sprawling landscape that every once in a while reminds you to connect with Mother Nature.

A mi no se me da mucho eso del hiking y los nature walks, neither am I the outdoorsy R.E.I. type. But when presented for the first time ever with an invitation to go hiking last Sunday, it was honestly an offer I couldn’t refuse. The place: Dearing Mountain Trail: Fryman Canyon to Tree People Park.

Starting the hike.

The location was right off Mullholland Drive (the famous spot of many movies and weird incidents) and it was a hike that promised a bit of adventure.

A group of newfound very cool friends, all experienced hikers and nature lovers, organized and lead the hike. So off we went.

It was initially a challenge for moi; going down a hill with slippery dirt, rocks of all sizes, not to mention ubiquitous poison ivy. When you haven’t done this, it can be a task not suitable for the faint of heart (ni para los que sufrimos de vertigo– at one point where I looked all the way down, I thought to myself, what was I thinking?!) But I kept trying to not look below, enjoy it as much as I could, and take a few pictures.

Don’t get me wrong, I may be eco-friendly, use those funky foquitos en espiral, and recycle often, but the thought of going too far with this did cross my mind. Some sections of the trail are extremely narrow and the way down looks quite bottomless.  (Or I may exaggerate. Aquí su segura servilleta se medio ‘panickeo’ cuando vio las profundidades de las barrancas, bien bien profundas y verdes. Pero mentalmente me puse a cantar la canción de “Sacaremos a Ese Buey de la Barranca” y me alegró el momento.)

Yet, the views are amazing and the walk provides time to meditate or just catch up with nature and make friends.  After a few hours on the trail, when we arrived back at the parking lot, I emerged with a newfound appreciation for nature in LA, and with a slightly improved concept of hiking.

This is another perfect example of why we are spoiled in California, with great backdrops and idyllic landscapes, a stones throw away from the city.

So I want to say Thank You AMIGOS– Gracias Ken, Aaron, Olivia, and everyone. They are new friends and made this experience one to remember. ¡Gracias a todos! And especially thanks to Loic for the post hike dinner. Truly a treat.

One of the views of the hike.

Poison Oak interweaves everywhere. It is not to be messed with! (Primera vez que la conozco en persona, pero de lejecitos.)

Ahi vamos todos, going up the hill.

Taking a mini break. Every once in a while you would find these kind of spots, with a bit of space for conversation.

When coming to a fork in the road, naturally we had to go in the direction of the rainforest.

Nice group shot by the lovely Ms. Erin Tamayo. We stood by the sign just to prove we had "arrived" at the rainforest.

Another group shot of the hiking friends.

Post hike rest and stretch at the parking lot. There is free parking, by the way.

A view from the trail. This is a great place for meditation and nature appreciation.

Mi Mamá Lilia rocks!

It’s taco night at the house and that only means one thing. Mi grandmother is making a beautiful mess in the kitchen and making us a delicious tacos dorados de pollo feast.

When I got home to see her, she greeted me with her latest creation/accomplishment: sus cebollines verdes freshly picked from the backyard! And these are not just any cebollín. Have you ever seen such a huge green onion? She was so proud, I just had to take a picture.

Mi abuela y su organic green onion. Ella es lo máximo!!

She is one amazing woman. Best all around. My all in one Top Chef meets Martha Stewart meets Mother Teresa. And she turns 92 this month. Que tal?

Now if we can only convince her to speak English in time for her citizenship exam!

La lección de los japoneses: Be Prepared!

One week ago today, Japan experienced their most devastating event since the atomic bomb at the end of WWII.  It has been a lesson on so many levels for the rest of the world, but especially for us in California. Both shocking and humbling, we must accept the fact que en el momento menos pensado, Mother Nature is capable of wiping us out.

Hemos visto las noticias, pensado en que nos pasaría a nosotros, but we need to do more, we need to heed the warnings and be prepared. We know the dangers, it’s time to make a plan, a kit, a drill, and get involved.

Tengo meses diciendo “voy a hacerme un earthquake kit” y hoy es el día. Encontré este website que se llama 72hours.org and it’s very easy to read and follow. Basically it says that in the event of a disaster, we should not expect any services, state or emergency, to be available to us during the first 3 days. Scary but true. You especially need to see what to do if you have an elderly family member, a pet or special needs to tend to…we need to think of everything.

I highly recommend you visit it and read it, print out the information. It’s in English, Español, even Russian and Vietnamese. Please check it out if you’re a California neighbor and let’s  pray that this ring of fire keeps calm, as we continue praying for the people of Japan.

72hours.org is a great site for information on how to be prepared. See it today and do something about it.

what’s wrong with this picture?

Hummer Bummer. This “vehicle” (alias humongous carbon emissions monster) was parked for a quinceañera at a church near the house.

Pobre planeta nuestro, de veras.

Is this really necessary?

Celebrating Earth Day #40. Madre Tierra sólo hay una.

Gracias a Juana Márquez de Umbral Yoga y Clean Slate PR por enviarme esta información.

Este jueves 22, celebremos el “Earth Day” cuidando más de nuestro planeta y reflexionando sobre como vamos a organizarnos para poder enderezar todo el daño que hemos hecho. Todos podemos hacer algo para mejorar y ser más verdes. ¿Tú que estas haciendo para mejorar este planeta? Hmmm, don’t you think we could all improve our efforts a little bit, at least?

Aquí les presento a Andrés Opsina, un cantante con conciencia y que contribuye a mejorar el planeta todos los dias. Hay que apoyarlo,  ya que lanza su nuevo album este jueves, en el 40 aniversario del Dia de la Tierra. Además, desde el 22 de abril hasta el 30 abril, ustedes pueden bajar el album completo GRATIS en andresospinamusic.com

Chequen este video con una de sus canciones, y ademas nos da un tip para el “composting” ecológico.

Andres Ospina sings for Planet Earth. Check him out at http://www.andresospinamusic.com. (Photo by Laura Wills)

Andrés Ospina is a young Colombian singer/songwriter who is releasing his debut album Buenaventura in observance of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22.

The album was produced with the help of Lee Curreri, who has produced songs for artists such as Natalie Cole, made famous by his starring role in the 1980 movie Fame and the television series under the same name.

Aside from being a talented artist, Ospina has a story and a message to share with the world.  The singer/songwriter comes from a family of environmental activists who have fought for the cause for over 40 years.  In 2004, Andres embarked with his father on the Natibo Expedition, which connected the Orinoco, the Amazon and the Paraná basins by navigating the rivers of the South American continent, and then by sea, exploring the entire Pacific Coast of South America from Chile to Colombia.  Inspired by his travels and alarmed by the destruction of the ecosystems he witnessed first hand, Andres returned to California with his mind set on becoming an ambassador for the conservation effort.

Andres will be donating 20% of proceeds from album sales to the environmental non-profit Treepeople. Buenaventura is a digital-only release, and will be on iTunes after April 22, 2010.

The album is a mix of rock, cuban trova, reggae, blues and other caribbean sounds that carry the poetic lyrics that Andres writes.  His songs are an ode to the idea of going back to the basics, they sing to the joy of having time to connect with nature and celebrate love.

For the release of Buenaventura, Ospina and his band will offer an outdoor concert for friends and media.  The event will take place in TreePeople’s beautiful amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. April 22, 2010.


We invite you to watch the promotional video for the song “Sabia que iba a volver” and that you visit Andres’ blog: www.andresospinamusic.com


 


¿Hasta cuándo, Incendio?

A veces me dan ganas de decirle a “Mother Nature”: OK We get it! Your mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore!!!

Ya nos dimos cuenta que el planeta esta enojado, que el calentamiento global está que arde, que ya se nos está pasando el tiempo para mejorar el medio ambiente…. We know we have to “reverse” the damage we’ve caused…But honestly, WHAT ARE WE DOING TO FIX IT???

How many fires need to burn in California for people to get a clue?

Apparently we still can’t do enough. We have a serious drought in California and the fire season started strong. So again, everybody needs to do their part: Conserve water. Please recycle all materials you can (paper, cans, plastic bottles). Ride the bus or the metro. Consume less energy. GO GREEN. Find ways to inform yourself and make a difference.

De veras Gente, ¿qué más estamos esperando?

Estos incendios son de la semana pasada y es hora que no los pueden apagar. Pobres bomberos. Y nosotros que nos respiramos todo el humo.

A huge "mushroom" fire cloud of smoke lies over LA. Photo from Sept. 1

A huge "mushroom" fire cloud of smoke lies over LA. Photo from Sept. 1. on the 110 Freeway North.

Read more about the fires here:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/09/firefighters-honor-fallen-comrade-as-progress-continues-on-battling-flames.html