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Aikya Param is a licensed minister, a visual artist, and writer.

Can’t Wait to Change Available on Amazon

Drawing by Aikya Param

I’ve worked in prison outreach for twenty years. Shaunta Grimes encouraged me to write about it and, more recently, to produce a nonfiction book sharing the experience. Can’t Wait to Change: D.I.Y. Rehabilitation, the result, reached number 1 in biography/autobiography short reads on Amazon Kindle. Watch for the paperback in September 2021.

The creativity and continued commitment to transform themselves among prison inmates I contacted hooked me. Because of that, their stories fill most of the book.

Many people agree that the United States has sent way too many people to prison for decades more than necessary. …

Only for special days at 4 PM

Photograph of set for sale on Wish website

No, we didn’t have a super-fancy tea set like the one in the picture, but we had family members serious about tea time. About 4 PM in the afternoon, elders broke out what my Indian friend called L.A. Tea (Lousy American Tea) in bags from a paper red and yellow box. The kettle would get fired until it whistled. Boiling water poured over the tea bags in each simple cup. After steeping, we’d add milk and sugar. A welcome break followed a stir and a taste test.

This wasn’t “High Tea” with a full meal in small bites. This was…

Measure this-way that-way so all is well

Emergency Care entrance of Philadelphia VA Medical Center from US Department of Veterans’ Affairs site.

Last time here was for me.
I walked a plywood tunnel
After telling the guard my doctor’s name.

Now no plywood outside the door;
Entrance shiny glass and metal,
And they will not let me in
‘Though Marilyn’s inside,
With indeterminate heart symptoms;
My roommate’s inside.

I wait until she’s in a room.
So we text and she talks
Which turns to text usually,
But not on my phone today.
It’s jaggedy soundscape
Instead. What did it say?

I got so cold, so cold in the wind;
I went into the hospital
Out of the wind
For a warm drink.

Cataract surgery in my future

HOW SOMEONE WITH ASTIGMATISM SEES A LANDSCAPE. Astigmatism from IMO (Instituto de microcirugia ocular) webpage

Every couple of years I have my vision checked. Often I get a new prescription and either new lenses or another pair of glasses.

The optician checked my vision in the past two weeks and pronounced little hope for improvement with a new eyeglass prescription because of cataracts in both eyes. With current glasses, my vision did not test well enough for the California Department of Motor Vehicles to permit me to drive. Yikes!

Blurry vision motivated me to make the optician appointment. Following his alarming words, I went to see an ophthalmologist. She saw mild-to-moderate cataracts. After I repeated…

Climate change effect and what we can do

Boat docks at the Browns Ravine Cove sit on dry earth at Folsom Lake on May 10 in El Dorado Hills. From CNN Weather, illustrating an article by Chad Myers and Monica Garrett, May 13, 2021.

On May 11, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom extended the California drought emergency to 39 additional counties. He visited Merced County and spoke at the San Luis Reservoir which was at half of capacity. It is now at 39%. The state’s reservoir conditions are tracked, updated frequently, and shown visually as part of Pacific Institute’s California Drought Conditions and Impacts website.

Alameda County, where we live, is on the list. A color-coded map shows the intensity of drought conditions throughout our state.

In addition, the governor proposed a $5.1 billion multi-faceted program to address the state’s water problems. Included are funds…

One more dance with the COVID vaccine

Photograph on website for article “COVID-19 Testing for People with a Disability.P

Tomorrow, Sunday, I go visit someone I know in a State Hospital. We haven’t seen each other since before March 2020. In order to visit, I needed to get a vaccination against the COVID virus and a clear test proving that I’m virus-free within 72 hours of the visit. So on Thursday morning, relatively early, I hopped in my car and drove to the entrance to my health care provider’s COVID test area.

To get the test, you drive through the area as directed. You do not get out of your car. The…

Remember to love yourself on dark days

Photo by Aikya Param

Margie Pearl started her article “Spring’s Etude Begins” with a poem featuring a dried rose.

Let me stay with the dried roses.

I’m not ready yet.
I can’t let go of loved ones.

I also have a dried rose.

It was given to me as part of a blessing ceremony by a minister in church. The gesture touched me so I kept the flower. Every time I see it I remember the feeling of loving and being loved.

I hope everyone has something like that. Perhaps it’s an engagement ring. Or, it’s the place you went on a surprise vacation…

Not things of this world for me but their attitudes, behavior, and beliefs

Native American regalia item, a hair tie: two eagle feathers attached — from Akitradingpost on Etsy.

My family lived in Weehawken, in the 1940s and 50’s a small lower-middle-class New Jersey suburb on top of the Palisades across the Hudson from Manhattan. People there were hard-working folks. My grandfathers did not earn great wealth to leave me as an inheritance. Instead, they passed along the strengths of their character. That shaped the cultural environment of my childhood and infused my character as an adult. I’m remembering my father and his father today.

I was born prematurely in January 1944 when U.S. forces and their allies won important victories in both the European and the Pacific Theater…

Physically present, emotionally engaged

Sid Balachandran, photographer, for “Father’s Day 2017: Into the Lives of some of India’s Stay-at-Home Dads”by Ishita Sengupta in The Indian Express website

When my younger brother was born, I was fourteen years old. There was so many years’ difference in our ages that we didn’t have a regular sibling relationship. Our growing up years were very different. I was very fortunate. He was deprived of our father and experienced the consequences.

My parent’s relationship was rocky. They wanted very different things in life. My mother needed to be in control. I think that’s why she was attracted to my father. He was a quiet, gentle person. She may have mistakenly believed he’d be easy to lead in the direction she wanted to…

Thanks, Marilyn, for this informative article. Skin cancer is something we roommates have in common. I see the dermatolgist every six months. She often found actinic keratoses on my face. The big excitement came when an apparently unexciting bump with no pigment to the side of my left knee cap turned out to be melanoma. It had not spread, thank goodness. Beware, readers. Lather on that sunscreen and wear a big brimmed hat.

Aikya Param

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