Saturday, August 19, 2017

It's Not a Game


I've been there. It was back in 2001. Carole and I traveled to various Civil War battlefields the month she graduated from high school. We made a grand sweeping tour; visiting Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Chancellorsville, Antietam, and Richmond. (It's quite ironic to us that she now lives in the area where we probably drove through so long ago.) On the way back to Illinois, we stayed the night in Charlottesville because we wanted to see Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home.

I don't remember the statue in question. I remember how the town was stuffed around the hills and valleys. There's the University of Virginia and a large hospital complex and the myriad of one-way streets had us locked in a bit of a circle until we figured out we could go straight through one intersection and get back to the main road and supper and our hotel. Our visit was about Jefferson. Statuary was not involved.

I passed through Chancellorsville three years ago, while driving from Warrenton, where Carole and Larry had just married, to Roanoke, where a friend lived. I remember the intersection between whatever road I was following and the Interstate, but that's about all I remember. But I can say I've been there. It looks nice from the road.

Like you, I followed and have followed, events unfolding during and after the protest. A tsunami of words have flowed in analysis; some of it thoughtful; some head-scratchingly tone deaf. If you have not seen the Vice News segment on the march, you need to watch it. It's tough to sit through. There were several times I felt like turning it off. I don't want to watch this. The attitudes expressed here are beyond horrible. Indeed, I have no word to categorize how bad this is. But part of citizenry is to know, even if I don't understand. I admire the reporter and camera person's guts; to be where they were not welcome. Watch the 6 minute interview between reporter Elle Reeve and Anderson Cooper of CNN. She adds information on what she experienced directly.

All of this is sickening. I heard a couple of people wonder how we got to this point in our history. I would argue, as have many others, we've never left this point. Since the founding of this country, we have always had a group of people for whom blacks are a subspecies. We are very good at covering this up.

One thing that struck me in the aftermath was somewhat a unified comment these white men have made when exposed as being at the march. "I'm not a racist." Some people in the video openly declare they are even if they don't use the word. But many, when confronted as being at the march say, "I'm not a racist. Ask anyone who knows me. I'm not racist." They never seem to get that association with white separatists is endorsing racism. The biggest facepalm moment was the guy who said, "I've got black friends. I'm not racist."

That one comment, out of the reams and reams of comments I've read, made me the angriest. Having a friend in a marginalized group does not give you a "Get Out of Racism Free" card. It simply means you have someone in your life who maybe overlooks your racism because you both play Settlers of Cataan, or like to discuss the chances of the New York Jets not being in the bottom of the league. Having a black friend does not mean you're not racist.

Replace the letters across the top of a Bingo card with the letters LGBTQ. I have lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer friends. BINGO! What do I win? I honestly don't see them as their labels. I see them as the people they are and I knew and liked them before they came out. The label is, for me, the same as saying they are Scottish or German or Indian. It's just another part of who they are. You don't get to "win" or have your racist, homophobic, or derogatory views unchallenged just because you happen to know someone in the very group you denounce.

There is no "white culture". This purity supremacists want to preserve is an amalgam of cultures from thousands of years of migration. We humans have been mixing up our genes since we were in Africa. I laugh way too hard at the stories now circulating that have white supremacists doing DNA testing only to find out they aren't what they think they are.

I have been reading, reading, reading. My historical assumptions have been challenged. I was taught the "myth" of State's Rights. I read, but now can't find it, of course, an article critical of Ken Burns' The Civil War mini-series; saying he presented a "white washed" (words intended) view of the conflict. He has yet to answer this critique. I've had one friend; Southern boy to the core; renounce the flag he defended earlier this year when New Orleans took down their statues. It was his culture and we were erasing it. He has come to realize it was about slavery, not culture.

I don't have black friends. I used to, but in the grand journey that is life, we drifted apart. I wouldn't say it was because I was racist in an earlier time. I wasn't raised that way and I don't think any of my life actions could be called racist. People wander into and out of your life just as a matter of course and that's what happened to us. I don't know any Latino people. I have Asian friends. Again, none of this is to "win" a column on a game board. I would hope, as I continue to wander this life, people would be my friend because we share interests, not because they need to tick off "Scottish female" on some internal scorecard.

This is not a game. If ever you find yourself saying, "I'm not racist" or "I'm not homophobic" or "I'm not anti-Semitic" or "I'm not [insert group]", you are. Plain and simple. If you have to qualify your actions or speech with any of this, you are what you say you aren't. Look at why you believe what you do. How are your words or actions marginalizing someone? Toss out the scorecard and like people for who they are.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola


Sunday, August 13, 2017

One Year

July came and went, all to quickly, it feels like. A year ago, mid-July, I was at my daughter's for a visit and the annual Spectacular Death meet-up. If you remember, I returned home with memories and a new fur baby.

How could it be a year now, that Hamlet's lived with us? I almost don't remember what it was like to have only 2 cats. He plays chase with Pilchard and, occasionally, Mija. He's a fount of energy. He's adapted to life with us or maybe we've adapted to him; who really knows.

The big change is Hamlet himself.

He takes up a lot more real estate than in July 2016.

I also note that, because he's more of a lover than the other two ever were, they are starting to demand lap time to curl up and sleep. Pilchard used to sit, for at least 2 hours or until the feeling started leaving my knees and I'd have to move her. Then, with Hamlet demanding attention, she quit sitting in my lap. She's back to that now, although not as long as before he came here. Mija just recently started wanting my lap when I'm sitting down with my feet up.

And there's the lying on mom when she's trying to sleep. I get that he was probably dumped too soon and I'm mom cat, but 1:30 in morning is not a good time to climb up my chest and lie down. Because he does it, Mija's been doing it. I don't want to have to shut them out of the bedroom, but I need a full night's sleep.

I'm trying an experiment this month with Feliway. Around the 10th of every month, I've been replacing the bottle because it's run out and I notice more antagonism between the cats. This month, things seems to be quieter so I have not replaced the empty bottle with fresh. So far, knock on wood, we are doing okay. I'd rather they just learned to live together and not have to rely on pheromones to do so. Maybe we've reached that point. We'll see.

Love my boy. I still call him "kitten britches", although he's hardly a kitten anymore. I was worried about adding another cat into the household, but rescue makes you do strange things, like rub the belly of a lap sleeping cat because, at 15 pounds, he's slowly cutting off the circulation to my feet.

Beverage:  Water


Guilty Pleasure

Peanut butter cookie dough ice cream.

Be still my heart.

Where can you get this? Well, you have to go to an Oberweis Dairy store. It's not available from home delivery. I went to Oberweis to get a gift card for some friends who were going through a spate of bad luck. You can get it in quarts. They have to hand pack it in the store. It's not in the ice cream cooler. They also offer chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, but one taste of this and it's just...oh my. They quit making my all-time favorite, banana chocolate fudge walnut, so I've been forced; forced, I tell you; to figure out what my new all-time favorite is. That's incredibly hard because there are so many good flavors. If I could get this home delivered, this would be it, hands down.

I know peanut butter is an acquired taste. I've met a number of people who don't like peanut butter. To each his own. It just means there's more for me.

Two spoons way up for this flavor.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola


Building a Better Bag

Back at the end of May, I got a new bag for the Disney World trip upcoming in October. (Is it time to panic, yet? How about now?) I settled on a very steampunk-ish looking bag I found on Etsy.

I felt everything I would want to carry on a trip to a park would fit inside the bag. I loved the look and how a Dungeons and Dragons pin a friend sent me fit wonderfully on the cross-body strap.

I took the bag to the June Highland Festival I attended and, quickly, it became obvious this was NOT a bag which would be useful for Disney. I lost 2 of the 3 bottles on the front. I thought they were in their straps tightly. They weren't. I couldn't get a bottle of water in the bag, along with the phone charger. There are other things which need to be in the bag while I roam. I was rather disappointed.

So, I started looking around for another bag, a bigger bag. I'm inclined to think Disney has a listening device in my house because, at the end of June, they had a sale and, viola, there was a bigger bag.

Well, of course I'd buy one with the Cheshire cat on it.

How could I resist this? It's "leather", although I think it's the imitation kind. It's deep with interior pockets.

The pocket on the right doesn't close while the pocket on the left zips shut. Anything I might want to carry should easily fit in this bag. The only issue is that the straps are not cross-body. They are short enough to make the bag sit right under the armpit, but long enough that I could access the bag reasonably quickly. But, I really wanted cross-body functionality. My RA can make my shoulder muscles tense and even paring down what I need/want to carry, was going to mean the bag would weigh on my shoulders by the end of the day. The ability to keep my hands and arms free would make the vacation better. What to do?

A trip to JoAnn Fabrics provided a solution. The inside is lined with a heavy silk material. I bought a length of pink canvas trim. It's an inch wide. I got a little more than I needed because, at the time, I didn't have the bag to measure. Once I figured out the proper length for the bag to hang where I wanted it to, I pinned the edges to the liner and cut the trim.

Then, I hand stitched the trim to the liner.

The trim is attached at the liner side seams. I could feel the fabric of the seams and tried to stitch the trim into that seam for added support. It was the perfect day to sit on the deck and stitch. When finished this is the result.

I'll be able to sling this across my body, keeping my hands and arms free, but having access to the bag. The handles are kind of stiff and I'm going to have an issue with them popping out of the bag at first. But I think, with use, and being anchored by things inside the purse, they will stay down when I want to use this cross-body. Plus, the trim goes neatly into the bag if I don't want to mess with it.

I moved the D&D pin to this strap and added a couple more.

I'll be able to add more pins to the strap, although I'm not a pin collector as such. My friend, Liz, sent me a link to all the exclusive souvenirs offered during the Food and Wine Festival and the Halloween party. There are pins. I will need to get pins for the strap.

After Disney, I can see this being a shopping tote for me. I'm going to keep the steampunk bag and try to find replacement bottles for the front. In some situations, the steampunk bag will be nice. It just doesn't work as I thought it would, for the Disney vacation.

Beverage:  Coca-Cola