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March 2007

The 15 Days of the Chinese New Year Celebration

RuthAnne Tarletz de Molina

10 Additional Lessons I Learned From 50 to 60

51 Don’t make lists

52 If you’re stubborn enough to make a list, don’t lose it

53 The sun shines on the good and the bad

54 No one is perfect, least of all me

55 Smile at everyone, we all need smiles

56 Hug everyone, we all need hugs

57 Don’t ask God for patience, He’ll give you trials to acquire it

58 Some questions don’t need to be answered or even acknowledged

59 Let people vent, but know when to go

60 Celebrate your 60th birthday at least a month

Hola Todos – With that out of the way, I’m going to talk a bit about the 15 day Chinese New Year Celebration that will end with the Lantern Festival on March 3. As you know, if you have been following my newsletters, we are talking about this here because of the joint history of the Chinese and the Spanish settlers at El Pueblo, Olvera Street. This weekend there will be a parade beginning at El Pueblo and ending in Chinatown, but more about that later. On to some information about celebrating the Chinese New Year.

The first day of the Lunar New Year is "the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth." Many people abstain from meat on the first day of the New Year because it is believed that this will ensure long and happy lives for them. The first order of business is offering ritual homage to one's ancestors. Reverence is then paid to the gods, followed by younger family members paying their respects to their living elders. New clothes are worn, and visits are made to friends, neighbors, and relatives to exchange good wishes of kung-hsi fa-tsai, which means "congratulations and prosperity." As an occasion for reconciliation, it's a time when old grudges are cast aside amidst an atmosphere of warmth and friendliness.

On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. They are extra kind to dogs and feed them well as it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs. Also on the second day married daughters return to their parents' home. If she is a newlywed, her husband must accompany her and bring gifts for her family.

The third and fourth days are for the sons-in-laws to pay respect to their parents-in-law. According to a charming legend, the third day of the lunar New Year is the day when mice marry off their daughters. Thus, on that night, people are supposed to go to bed early so that the mice can perform their wedding ceremonies.

On the fourth day, the fervor begins to ebb. In the afternoon, people prepare offerings of food to welcome the return of the Kitchen God and his retinue from their trip to the Jade Emperor's court. The Kitchen God's return signifies the end of freedom from spiritual surveillance, hence the popular Chinese saying: "It's never too early to send off the gods & never too late to invite them back."

The fifth day, called Po Woo, is when people stay home to welcome the God of Wealth. No one visits families and friends on the fifth day because it will bring both parties bad luck. Day five almost brings the Chinese New Year festivities to a close. All offerings are removed from the altars and life returns to normal.

On the sixth to the 10th day, the Chinese visit their relatives and friends freely. They also visit the temples to pray for good fortune and health.

The seventh day of the New Year is the day for farmers to display their produce. The farmers make a drink from seven types of vegetables to celebrate the occasion. The seventh day is also considered the birthday of human beings. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity and raw fish for success.

On the eighth day the Fujian people have another family reunion dinner, and at midnight they pray to Tian Gong, the God of Heaven.

Finally, on the ninth day, numerous offerings are set out in the forecourt or central courtyard of temples to celebrate the birthday of the Jade Emperor, who was believed to have been born immediately after midnight on the ninth day.

The 10th through the 12th are days that friends and relatives should be invited for dinner.

After so much rich food, on the 13th day you should have simple rice congee and mustard greens (choi sum) to cleanse the system.

The 14th day should be for preparations to celebrate the Lantern Festival, which is to be held on the 15th night. And of which we will speak more next week.

So where does one go here to touch a taste of this celebration? To El Pueblo, Olvera Street, of course. As we said before both the Chinese and the Spanish cultures of LA have ties to this area. The Chinese American Museum is even housed there and next week they’ll host the Lantern Festival. The 108th Annual Golden Dragon Parade will start at El Pueblo on Saturday and will end in Chinatown where on Saturday there’ll be the Chinese New Year Festival & on Sunday a Car Show. Then you should leave the festival early and head over to Self Help Graphics and Art for a very special exhibit, 2nd Edition: A Father/Daughter Print Retrospective that features the works of Frank and Sonia Romero, father and daughter.

Where are the Chicana/o artists this weekend/next week?

This Chicana artist is still celebrating her 60th birthday and just got back from Baja. Shalom, RuthAnne Tarletz de Molina

Where will you be???

Continue reading at Sarte_Mex.......


Hard Money Lending is exactly what it sounds like; loans that are hard to do.  Many borrower's needs fall out of the mainstream loan guidelines and they often need a "short-term" fix. 

A private mortgage loan is essentially someone with a lot of money lending to someone who needs it and can't get it from banks or mortgage companies.  Most of my investors are older, retired, well-heeled, and smart.  Investors are sharp and know how to mitigate loss.  They are also quirky and their quirks tend to match up with their life experiences.

Let me give you some examples where hard money loans are appropriate and the type of investors I match up with the loan:

1- Multi-family: Most banks or commercial lenders will not lend over 55-60% on multi-family in Southern California.  The rents don't cover the monthly debt service and expenses.  I have three investors who made a living owning and managing apartment complexes.  They know the "secrets' to undervalued properties that are being leased at below-market rates. They'll lend up to 75% on those properties if they have a decent borrower. 

2- Investor Seconds:  Many investment properties have low fixed-rate loans on them and the owner does NOT want to refinance a 5.25% first just to get money out of the property.  Oftentimes, the investors are "stated-income" borrowers that couldn't get a second mortgage on the investment property.  Maybe they just need $50K for some repairs.  They'll pay 12-15% for that money.  I have seasoned investors that understand that challenge.

3- Small Builders: Small builders are taking it on the nose this year! Their materials costs skyrocketed. They have "runout of money" on their traditional construction loans and are 80-90% completed.  They need maybe $100K to get the over the hump, finish the property and get it sold.  I have retired builders that will look at the property, analyze the costs overrun and lend him the money for a year at 15% with no payments (interest accrues).

4- Small Business Owners: Many times the small business owner can't get a quick loan on his property because his credit scores have dropped (he's maxed out on credit) and he just needs the money for short-term. 

5- Recent Bankruptcy:  We loaned 70% to a physician who was 6 months out of BK.  The seller carried the 30% balance and the doctor got the house.  We knew the worst was behind him (with the BK) and thought he could refinance in a year.  The investor made 10% on his money, the seller got his price, and my borrower refinanced out of the loans in 18 months. The investor, a retired physician, understood how managed care wreaked havoc on general practitioners in San Diego.

At Last!

Highland_perk The Highland Perk Coffeehouse is now Officially Open for business.

After a two and a half year construction period and endless internal and government delays, Highland Perk is now  open for business 6 am to 10 pm, 7 days a week. Visit their web site for a map and driving directions.

The Highland Perk Coffeehouse
5930 York Blvd. - - - Los Angeles, California 90042

Mardi Gras y Carnival y Lent

Arroyo Seco Recreation Culture & the Arts Newsletter
Special Issue 51a 02.18.07

Hola Todos - Welcome to a special Mardi Gras edition of our newsletter. Peace / Shalom, RuthAnne Tarletz

This is not just the end of the season of Winter Festivals, but also the beginning of the Spring Festivals which begins with Carnival y Mardi Gras. So gear up for what is to come…

The Carnival season kicks off with the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, Three Kings' Day and, in the Eastern churches, Theophany. Epiphany, which falls on January 6, 12 days after Christmas, celebrates the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for the infant Jesus. In cultures that celebrate Carnival, Epiphany kicks off a series of parties leading up to Mardi Gras.

Carnival comes from the Latin words carne vale, meaning "farewell to the flesh." Translating it in Catholic terms, it is a time of extended tolerances & a period for eating & drinking with reckless abandon
until the day of atonement—Ash Wednesday. In some traditions it is the three-day period preceding the beginning of Lent, the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday immediately before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of the Lenten Season. In other traditions it is the entire period of time between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. The three days before Ash Wednesday are also known as Shrovetide ("shrove" is an Old English word meaning "to repent"). The Tuesday just before Ash Wednesday is called Shrove Tuesday, or is more popularly known by the French term Mardi Gras, meaning "Fat Tuesday," contrasting to the fasting during Lent. The entire three-day period has now come to be known in many areas as Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras literally means "Fat Tuesday" in French. The name comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival. The day is also known as Shrove Tuesday
(from "to shrive," or hear confessions), Pancake Tuesday and fetter Dienstag. The custom of making pancakes comes from the need to use up fat, eggs and dairy before the fasting and abstinence of Lent begins.

It is the last hurrah before the Catholic season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It also has links to the Christmas season through the period known as Carnival. Mardi Gras, literally "Fat Tuesday," has grown in popularity in recent years as a raucous, sometimes hedonistic event. But its roots lie in the Christian calendar, as the "last hurrah" before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. That's why the enormous party in New Orleans, for example, ends abruptly at midnight on Tuesday, with battalions of street sweepers pushing the crowds out of the French Quarter towards home. What is less known about Mardi Gras is its relation to the Christmas season, through the ordinary-time interlude known in many Catholic cultures as Carnival. (Ordinary time, in the Christian calendar, refers to the normal "ordering" of time outside of the Advent/Christmas or Lent/Easter seasons.)

It's argued that the Mardi Gras tradition started in America with the French explorers, the Le Moyne brothers, in New Orleans in 1699 or when American college students returned home from Paris in the 1820s. Probably both, and the tradition has held, and today in New Orleans, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and other locations worldwide, Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday") means a traditional huge annual moving
celebration with parades and parties. Throughout the years the celebration has added African, Latin and Native American aspects to its French origins.

In 1699, the traditional French Catholic celebration ensued leading to what many refer to as "North America's first Mardi Gras". Over the passing decades, following their European custom, Carnival
celebrations took place in all towns and cities in the colony. Carnival celebrations became an annual event highlighted by lavish balls and masked spectacles. Some were small, private parties with
select guest lists, while others were raucous, public affairs. They continued until the Spanish government took over in the mid-1700s and banned the celebrations. The ban continued even after the U.S.
government acquired the land but the celebrations resumed in 1827. The official colors of Mardi Gras, with their roots in Catholicism, were chosen 10 years later: purple, a symbol of justice; green,
representing faith; and gold, to signify power.

In the old tradition of the feast, it was the only time of year when the poor & working class could mock the gentry & aristocracy who held power over their lives. For enslaved African Americans in pre-Civil
War New Orleans, it was a day to shed their shackles & dance with unfettered liberty---& even act as free men & women.

Like many Catholic holidays and seasonal celebrations, it likely has its roots in pre-Christian traditions based on the seasons. Some believe the festival represented the few days added to the lunar calendar to make it coincide with the solar calendar; since these days were outside the calendar, rules and customs were not obeyed. Others see it as a late-winter celebration designed to welcome the coming spring. As early as the middle of the second century, the Romans observed a Fast of 40 Days, which was preceded by a brief season of feasting, costumes and merrymaking.

Mardi Gras celebrations got their start in pagan Rome. They staged hedonistic festivals honoring the Roman deity, Lupercus, a pastoral god associated with Faunus or the Satyr. The Romans gorged themselves with carnal pleasures, wore masks, dressed like ghosts and went crazy. Fat Tuesday is thought to have come from the Pagan custom of parading the fattest ox through the streets. Pagans would wear bizarre costumes and eat, drink and have all sorts of fun that in other times would have never been allowed. When the Christians took over Rome, they attempted to make the celebration, their own and Mardi Gras became last-hurrah period of merriment and abandonment preceding the fasting period of Lent, 40 days prior to Easter. Mardi Gras is now always the day before Ash Wednesday on the Christian calendar.

Locations include New Orleans and other cities in Louisiana; Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Olinda & Salvador, Brazil; Venice and other cities in Italy; Bahia; Mazatlán and other cities in Mexico; Detroit, MI, Galveston and other cities in Texas; Biloxi and other cities in Mississippi; Mobile, AL; Pensacola, FL; St. Louis, MO; San Diego and other cities in California; the Caribbean: Aruba, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago are some of the celebrants; Belgium; Argentina; Uruguay; Panama; Slovenia and Sweden.

And here in Los Angeles you can celebrate it at Olvera Street with a traditional style Mardi Gras in the evening and children's events in the morning. After that you can head up the 110 to Mr T's Bowl for
more celebration including live bands and a potluck.

And if you haven't danced enough at Olvera Street and Mr T's, you can continue dancing with Los Cojolites and Son Mestizo the at Avenue 50 Studio or flamenco with Mojácar Flamenco at the Temple Bar or make it out to UC Riverside for Quetzal y Son de Madera or to dance to Latin Jazz with the Susie Hansen Band at Cavallino Ristorante & Jazz Bar on Friday. Or for a quiet moment join the Mental Menudo at the Mexican Cultural Institute.