The awesome video work of Ari Lopez Wei

Ari in WWI uniform in a period train car

Ari Lopez Wei is The Wei’s photographer, videographer and Media Manager. He’s also a living historian who educates people about what life was like for colored and black soldiers in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and WWI.

You can see Ari’s fotos and some video shorts on Instagram and his blog. If you want to know more about the header image on this page, here’s the full post where he reflects on birthdays, and the day it was taken.

Newville Reenactment 2017
Alina & Gary Wedding Highlight Video
Camp Doughboy World War I (WWI) History Weekend

Chef Mama Wei cooks Mu Shu Pork

Mama Wei's mu shu pork
Chef Mama Wei’s Mu Shu Pork via @lalwei

Ari put together this 23 second video of me cooking Mu Shu Pork. Made me look like I know what I’m doing.

The Passaic River Garden is open and the community is invited to enjoy

Passaic River Garden-2A team of members from the North Jersey Clergy Fellowship CDC, Everlasting Life Foundation Ministry, Tierra Madres, Muture Sisters and the Bergen Community College NAACP have been working with Ivan Wei and next-door neighbors the Rodriguez family to create the Passaic River Garden at 108 E. Holsman Street in Paterson.

Cleanups have been done, some raised beds are made and planted, and the community is welcome to come by and enjoy sitting or helping in the garden and learning about urban growing. Soon, we’ll set up collection times for vegetable scraps to be brought by and donated to our compost area and we’ll invite the community to celebrate the garden’s creation with us.

This community garden features milkweed to feed and protect butterflies supplied by Monarch Watch, vegetables and raspberry bushes planted in square 4’x4′ raised beds and in 8’x2′ beds specially designed for vertical growing along an existing fence. We are completing the grapevine arbor which will provide both edible fruit and a pleasantly shaded spot for sitting under. And, we have water donated by the Rodriguez family as well as a 250 gallon tank for backup.

We thank City Green and the Passaic County Freeholders for helping to fund the garden and members of St. Augustine Presbyterian Church of Paterson for their continuing enthusiastic support and encouragement.

Here are some before and during construction fotos. Later today we’ll post more: our sign hung on site, planted boxes and pix of how the arbor and benches are coming along.

If you have questions or would like to help or support the garden in any way please contact Ivan Wei 201-688-0036 or email Tierra Madres.

Garden planting

Blessing of the Garden

Removing tree from fence

DC lawyer gives up career to live in a Louisiana tent & help her people

Colette Pichon Battle
Source: Lady

Colette Pichon Battle returned to Louisiana to help the community members who had bought fish dinners cooked by her family members in order to pay the fees that helped her become an attorney … and stayed. Pichon Battle gave up her DC career to establish the non-profit Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, that helps with a variety of life and legal issues that confront people rebuilding their lives in the wake of Katrina and the burden of generations of endemic poverty and environmental justice challenges.

CounterPunch tells the story of Ms. Pichon Battle‘s background and education, which informed her career choices. NeighborWorks America and StoryCorps’ video about Colette’s service includes images by Lady.

I come from a strong line of south Louisiana women who love the land and the water and the birds and the sky and the trees. We understand our entire existence requires a balance on this earth. I’d like to make sure that legacy is there when I’m gone.

~ Colette Pichon Battle

Hat tip to Jacqui Patterson for sharing the CounterPunch story.

Became a beekeeper, got stung a lot, definitely need a bee jacket & a lesson in how to work my smoker

NUCs have arrived 160422
150 NUCs on that truck and two of them are mine!

Became a beekeeper when I received 2 NUCs (5 frames) of bees at 8:20 on 22 April 2016. Got the first sting on my pinky around 8:45 – I must have been pressing on one of the little critters. By 9:15 I’d been stung 6 more times: upper arm four times plus under my shirt AND under my skirt.

Oops! forgot I shouldn’t be wearing a skirt while beekeping, but I was on my way to a Passover celebration and was dressed for the occasion. When I stopped by at home to pick something up, I heard a buzzing sound near my head and said to myself – you see, you’re so freaked out by the experience of situating your bees in the dark of night all by yourself and getting stung that now you’re imagining there are bees buzzing around your head. But then I caught a glimpse in the bathroom mirror of a bee sitting all pretty and relaxed, right on my shirt collar and the next day I found another trying valiantly to work her way out of our screened-in kitchen window. So the buzzing was bees, and not my imagination. I ended up bringing another bee with me to the seder table – found her on my hand.

Well, no lasting harm done. Bees are installed and I’m still relatively OK. These are the conclusions I can share about my first experience with beekeeping:

Bees don’t like being locked up in trunks so don’t leave them there too long. By the time I took the 2nd crew out, they were mad. Later, I found out that it’s important to orient NUCs to the same direction you’re traveling in so the frames don’t crash together when you accelerate or slow down, and I didn’t do that. Aside from being overheated, the poor guys must have gone crazy dodging death and trying to protect the queen all the time I was crashing them around while admittedly driving a little distractedly: being that I was wondering all the time if the bees in my trunk could escape into the car cabin and start flying around in there. With me.

Bees seem to like to hang out on my body. I’ve learned that some bugs do. If this bothers me I better get a suit. I’ve been thinking about that. Have decided that I’m so traumatized over being bitten that I must get a suit, and gloves. And learn to use my smoker.

It’s true that bee stings are worse to contemplate than experience. But gee, having been stung several times now in under an hour I can tell you that contemplating the next sting coming in a series is a bit disconcerting. After being stung, I did flap my hands around and do some little dances to wave the critters away from me … all the while reminding myself that this behaviour would probably be scaring those guys silly and maybe inciting them to more stings – and that I should stop being such a girl. My advise to self helped calm me down, a little bit. So much for the zen of beekeeping.

The bee under my skirt was plain old scary! Even though I knew once she had stung my belly she couldn’t do any more harm, I just didn’t want her there and crushed her dying body with my fingers through the fabric of my skirt. Poor us.

I was so glad my transport boxes had plugs I could pull out instead of the alternative – which is a little flap I would have had to play around with. Pulling the plug made it possible for me to walk quickly away after putting the box down near the hive and that’s all I wanted to do.

By a strange twist of fate, this 55 year old woman had ended up welcoming the bees and stings all by myself in the dark of night so that my two 20-something sons could arrive on time for our seder. With the wry sense of humour God likes to show me, our shipment of bees would naturally arrive on the Sabbath on the first night of Passover. Despite my unique journey, I managed to join the table not too late … about half an hour after our friends’ Hagadah reading began at 9pm.

Thanks NENJ team for getting me dispatched with my new charges as quickly as possible so I could buzz off to my adventure, and then my seder – y ou guys rock. Also thanks Rich Schluger for your tip to scrape immediately at the site of a sting to reduce venom penetration and discourage more bees from stinging there. This helped, although my 4-bite upper arm site became infected with 2 stingers I must have broken off and I ended up pretty sick for a couple of days.

Like I said, no lasting harm done but I definitely need a suit … and gloves …

Ivan and Kimi are Bernie delegate-selects & we need your petition signature! (in LDs 37 & 38)

Bernie for president 2016
Source: Bernie2016 Campaign

Ivan Wei and Kimi Wei were selected as pledged Bernie Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention and need you to sign our petition!

The way this works, is that selected delegates need to collect petition signatures from registered Democrat voters in a Delegate District (DD), which is a combination of two New Jersey Legislative Districts (LD). Our Delegate District is 19, which encompasses LDs 37 and 38. You sign one petition for all of the Bernie delegates in the DD, which in our case is 4 people.

If you live in one of these municipalities, are a registered voter who is also registered as a Democrat, please come see us at one of these locations to sign our petition or call us to arrange another convenient time and place. Ivan 201-688-0036 Kimi 862-203-8814.

NJ Legislative District 37 (Bergen County) includes municipalities:
Alpine, Bogota, Cresskill, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Hackensack, Leonia, Northvale, Palisades Park, Rockleigh, Teaneck, Tenafly

NJ Legislative District 38 (Bergen and Passaic Counties) includes municipalities:
Bergenfield, Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Hasbrouck Heights, Hawthorne, Lodi, Maywood, New Milford, Oradell, Paramus, River Edge, Rochelle Park, Saddle Brook

Ivan or I will be at these locations collecting signatures to become a Bernie Sanders delegate. Please come over and sign our petition (it’s one petition for all 19th District delegates) – or call us. Ivan 201-688-0036, Kimi 862-203-8814.

We’re also collecting petitions to make sure Bernie is on the primary ballot in New Jersey which any registered New Jersey Dem can sign.

1 Bergen Community College – at a table near the pizza place in Student Center
Monday 28 March 2016 | 3-5pm
400 Paramus Road
Paramus, NJ 07652

2 Bergen Community College – at a table near the pizza place in Student Center
Tuesday 29 March 2016 | 3-5pm
400 Paramus Road
Paramus, NJ 07652

3 Sultan Restaurant
Wednesday 30 March 2016 | 7-9pm
429 Crooks Avenue, Clifton NJ

4 Teaneck Public Library
Thursday 31 March 2016 | 12-1:30pm
840 Teaneck Rd, Teaneck, NJ

We need your assistance getting signatures to become a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention. If you would like to sign our petition or help us get signatures please either

  • Call us right away at 862-203-8814 or 201-688-0036
  • Come over to one of these locations
  • Let us know where to meet you

You can also search on the Bernie campaign website to find a “ballot access” event.

Why my husband is finally paying child support

For a long time – years, in fact – I didn’t want to point the law at my husband to help me collect unpaid child support. I thought about the welfare of his minor children in Colombia and the fact that as an undocumented immigrant my son’s dad could be jailed for a while and then deported. None of which wouldn’t do any member of two families any good.

But things change. So, what did change?

Ari & his Dad
Ari & his Dad

For one thing, our children grew up. Luís’ youngest child is older than my son Ari by about three years, which means that right now he’s about 23. He also no longer lives in Colombia – his mom re-married and took their son to Curação, where they live comfortably with her new husband.

Secondly, there’s what happened after my husband made his 3rd visit in 10 years to attend Ari’s high school graduation. Ari’s dad is a master car mechanic and helped us solve some car woes while he was here. When he left, Luís promised to return in a month or two to help us with the balance of our car problems. Well, guess what?

Ari’s dad not only failed to return but when I eventually said to him about a year later, “Look, Luís, if you don’t want to come back and help us fix the cars that’s up to you. But if you’re not coming, I need you to start sending child support, because we truly need that money. And after all, you owe several years of back payments,” my husband laughed at me.

He said, “Oh you think so, do you? Well the truth of the matter is, I don’t have to either give you anything or do anything that you want me to do.”

“OK,” I replied, “I don’t know if that’s true or not, but we’ll find out because I’m definitely going to take some kind of action. Our son needs financial help while he’s in college and at this point, I want my money.”

Luís snorted. “Besides which, do you know what kind of exorbitant monies those people are trying to extort from me?” Without waiting for my answer, he pressed on, “$70 a week, that’s how much!”

I had a comeback for that too. “If you think that putting $70 a week towards the expenses of a child being raised in the United States is a lot of money, you’re a completely delusional idiot.” And then I hung up the phone, because hadn’t I said all there was to say?

Another thing had changed too, in the political arena: an executive order that Pres. Obama had issued on immigration recommends that undocumented US residents not be detained for non-violent legal offenses. I felt relieved of needing to worry that Luís would be in grave danger of deportation if I filed for help collecting child support. I was unlikely to be jeopardizing the chance of getting payments from him, either.

I went ahead and filed a claim with the Probation Department. This, for some reason, is the New Jersey government department that collects child support – and learned that child support rules in Florida are not as family friendly as the New Jersey laws are.

I know that in New Jersey if a fellow owes court-ordered child support and won’t pay, the police just lock him up in jail – because this had happened to a friend of mine. They let Pablo out during the day so he could work to pay his child support backlog but by 6 or 7pm he had to be back at the county jail and spend every night there until he was caught up. It took a long time and it was hard on his second wife, who was also my friend. But between the two of them, the couple managed to pay down Pablo’s support arrears in a little under 18 months.

In Florida, the child support recovery system doesn’t work this way but I heard that a deadbeat dad who owes child support in Florida might come to be viewed unfavorably by the courts … and if this happens, he could potentially experience other kinds of troubles. In my husband’s case, for example, the court suspended Luís’ driver’s license after a year of waiting to see if he was going to voluntarily resume making child support payments (which he didn’t do).

Suddenly, my husband can’t wait to send his child support payment out, arrears and all. It’s going to take Luís a while to pay down the nearly $9000 in back monies that accumulated during the several years he didn’t pay, but my caseworker says that the state of New Jersey will continue to pursue collection until the balance is completely paid down. So, there’s hope yet.

Swayze dancing with his wife Niemi is a treat to watch

Patrick Swayze in Ghost
Swayze & WhoopiPatrick Swayze has a special place in my heart for helping me mourn the passing of my firstborn’s father through his performance in Ghost. I had not thought of Swayze as a dancer, although now I’ve learned that he was the lead in both Dirty Dancing and Broadway’s Grease.

Swayze’s video tells that early in his life, Swayze almost lost his leg to a tooth staph infection that dispersed throughout his body and lodged in his knee – which almost needed to be amputed.

By way of introducing me to Swayze as a dancer, Manara Nivron shared this video of him performing with wife Lisa at World Music Awards 1994 … and I’d like to share it too. Watching was a great treat.

Why I’m so pleased to have TextWrangler back

Textwrangler iconMy Mac note-keeping app of preference is BareBones’ TextWrangler, which I also use for coding. I love TextWrangler because although it’s a very powerful program, it’s also light on cpu usage even when I open a lot of windows and files with it. Navigating and managing open files through multiple windows is made easy with drag and drop functionality. And TextWrangler saves files on quit even if I don’t and will bring up unsaved files on relaunch.

So, how did I manage to create and access notes over the past couple weeks after TextWrangler suddenly stopped working for me? Since any text editing program will open the plain text files TextWrangler creates, I found a well-reputed free substitute in Sublime Text 2 and used that instead. I was able to open my old files and create new ones without needing to use Apple’s TextEdit – which corrupts text files by adding way too much bloat code to them – but oh boy, did I miss TextWrangler’s features and simplicity.

The TextWrangler features I most missed in Sublime Text 2:

  • If preferences are configurable, I couldn’t figure out how to access them.
  • Windows are black with white type – yuck.
  • Can’t drag files between open windows.
  • When in an ST2 window, the open new document command pops open a new entry in that window, but if I double clicked to open a text file from a Finder window, ST2 would make it open in a new window. That wasn’t very convenient.
  • read more

    Thanksgiving 2014 in Newark – interact and giving FAQ

    Here’s more information on giving to and interacting with Newark’s homeless and hungry for Make Thanksgiving 2014 for the Hungry & Homeless! Pictures on this page are from 2012 Break Bread With You Thanksgiving Celebration. Photographer: Kimi Wei

    Some of the kids


    Reach out to Luís 201-357-7341, Ivan 201-688-0036 or Kimi 862-203-8814 for donation instructions, to schedule a donation drop-off, or to learn about roasting a turkey at your home.

    Drop-off Locations

    We have drop-off locations in Essex, Passaic and Bergen Counties for food, clothing, shoes and other items at:

    The HUBB, 135 Prince Street, Newark NJ (9-5 or by appointment)
    Passaic, NJ (by appointment)
    Fair Lawn, NJ (by appointment)


    #1 We need you! Come on Thanksgiving Day to share the morning with others in need of a smile, a hug, a poem, a song, A PRAYER or just a tablemate!

    We – all of us – will be the family .. and together we will be the cheer!

    My family’s tradition is to join up with a few dozen friends and a bunch of donations at the Break Bread With You community celebration in downtown Newark at Lincoln Park with FP Youth Outcry and Debi Hall Dean of PACTS. My family will be on site from about 10:30-1 but feel free to arrive any time between 9am-1pm.

    Bearing gifts!

    #2 This year’s Greater Newark giving goal: feed at least 4,000 people in the park and with home delivered meals! You’ll be more than welcome – children too : )

    #3 Want to cook food and bake pies before Thanksgiving that will be delivered all over greater Newark on TDay? … The goal of PACTS run by Debi Hall-Dean is to deliver 3500 meals this year to hungry, elderly & vulnerable residents. Pick up a turkey to cook, or donate and roast one! Debi’s also in need of pies!

    #4 Pre-Thanksgiving fresh food and uncooked turkey donations accepted! but soon, so there’s time to get them cooked!

    #5 Bring donations of cooked food to Lincoln Park on T-Day.


    #6 On TDay, bring Clothing, Toiletries, and anything else you would like to share. read more

    Make Thanksgiving 2014 for the Hungry & Homeless!

    How about you? This year, will you help make Thanksgiving wonderful for the many who don’t have the wherewithal to do it themselves? We are talking about those without a home … or lacking family to share the holiday cheer.

    There are plenty of opportunities to roast turkeys and bake pies in the days leading up to the holiday and to share food and love on Thanksgiving Day with community members in need of TLC and cheerful company. We are also collecting money, gift cards and clothing! If you have an event to share or questions about how and what to donate, reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter.

    Take a look at the Interact and Giving FAQ for more information and have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving 2014! Easy Custom Auto Excerpt

    Break Bread With You, Newark NJ
    This is the community celebration my family and members of Madres por Obama y la Tierra, Kokokidz and the BCC NAACP and the NJ State NAACP Youth & College Division participate in Thanksgiving morning. It’s become our tradition – feel free to make it yours too!

    9am-1pm in Lincoln Park, Newark NJ
    View event on Facebook

    Wei group serving on Thanksgiving

    Our family and some friends help out Thanksgiving Day in Newark NJ as a Break Bread With You partner. Our group will be at least 25 strong, but we will be accompanied by several hundred people at this outdoor community celebration in Lincoln Park led by FP Youth Outcry and Partners in Acts (PACTS). Donations of clothing, shoes and winter items are collected and distributed to our less fortunate neighbors .. and everyone eats!

    If you sit down and share a meal and conversation with a homeless tablemate, your day of Thanks will be truly complete. Trust me, I know :-). The most important arrival for this event is you. But, donations are welcome too.


    Contact us for volunteering, money donations and drop-off instructions:
    Luís 201-357-7341, Ivan 201-688-0036 or Kimi 862-203-8814.

    Here’s an expanded Interact & Giving FAQ.

    Food on Thanksgiving Day

    On Thanksgiving Day, bring cooked food and packaged/canned food items and drinks to Lincoln Park .. and sit down to Break Bread with a homeless person or two. You can also serve food if you like!

    You can also help to carve turkeys, pack up meals and even deliver them to the 3500 people Partners in Acts (PACTS) plans to distribute Thanksgiving meals to. They deliver meals right to recipients’ doors!

    Food and Preparation before Thanksgiving Day

    In the days before Thanksgiving, you can help PACTS prepare meals by roasting a turkey, baking a pie or donating ingredients .. and even money.

    Clothing, foot wear and accessories
    Bring any donations you like to the community celebration on Thanksgiving Day. There will be plenty of strong hands to help you with offloading – just grab someone and ask for help!


    Through November 26, you can drop off at these locations. Contact us to schedule an appointment. Luís 201-357-7341, Ivan 201-688-0036 or Kimi 862-203-8814

    The HUBB, 135 Prince Street, Newark NJ (9-5 or by appointment)
    Passaic, NJ (by appointment)
    Fair Lawn, NJ (by appointment)

    Why would they make a heart out of palms?

    hearts of palm_can

    hearts of palm_canWhen you’re a kid, certain things just don’t make sense. One of those for me, were hearts of palm. They tasted OK but I still didn’t want to eat too many of them. Couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to replace a good old red-blooded human heart with a heart made out of these things.

    It was decades before I would “get” that one, but now I can finally enjoy gobbling these bad boys up without feeling I’m colluding in some kind of Frankenstein experiment.