Monday, July 22, 2013


About six years ago I heard the CDC statistic that African American children are three times as likely as white children to die from accidental drowning. I asked myself why, started doing some research, and learned a history that started in making sure slaves couldn't escape via the rivers, traveled through segregated public swimming pools where separate was not equal, and continued its journey through the correlation of minority populations with low income and therefore limited access to swimming facilities. Add to the lack of swimming access a resulting natural fear of the water passed down through generations. It was the first time I saw structural, systematic, institutionalized racism and it literally killed children. 

I had been the typical southern conservative white girl. I figured affirmative action had done its job, I thought people cried racism because they wanted something without working for it. I believed in equality for everyone, I just thought we were already there, or at least we would be if people would stop dragging the past into the present.

But once I learned that statistic all I could see we're drowned children. Mothers and fathers crumpled next to a small casket. I cannot accept a world in which I ignore that centuries of oppression continues to kill children.

And so when mothers and fathers who are crying next to caskets of dark skinned boys tell me that this reminds them of something from those days when nooses hung publicly because everyone assumed that of course the black boy was wrong, I'm going to listen. I will listen when friends and neighbors and people all over an entire country join in to say, "We are him, because we know what it feels like to have eyes follow us around the store, to have women cross the street to avoid encountering us, to have police officers stop and frisk us just in case. We know what it feels like to be suspicious to people whose history and culture has told them that our dark skin holds dark motives."

I can appreciate a legal system that at least states that people are only found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but listening to those who tell me of the centuries of reasons why so many people doubt that their children are good and worthy of life breaks my heart. This is not the world I want to leave to future generations.

I believe that we have to acknowledge that racism still exists in order to move past it. While I always want to be aware of my "privilege" and the fact that I need to listen more than I speak on this issue, I also want to be someone whose not afraid to speak and to remind others to listen. I hope this little bit of my heart shared here encourages someone to listen intentionally to those who are hurt and troubled by things you think are overblown, exaggerated, or pointless.

-originally posted as a facebook status tonight. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

What I'm Into: Summer Edition

I am enjoying "summer" mode. I still have various things that I need to accomplish for my collection of jobs, but I am SO enjoying a break from classes and the accompanying non-stop to-do list of reading and writing.


If you haven't been reading Charles Martin and you like novels, you need to start reading his books.  His newest is Unwritten and lovely.

I am a couple chapters in to At Home on the Range by Margaret Yardley Potter. It's an old book that's been recently re-published. It's a narrative-style cookbook and it's hilarious, along with being really interesting from a food history perspective.

I finally got around to making a goodreads account. I've been obsessively rating books and adding books to my "to read" list for the past couple of days. We'll see if I actually keep up with it. I've never been very good at keeping lists of what I read.

On the Dining Table
. . is my sewing machine

I went and scouted a thrift store to see if I could find some old vintages sheets to up-cycle into clothes. I spent one entire Saturday crafting a shirt. It's got errors galore and made me wish for a serger to finish up the inside seams, but I am happy with my effort.

My first attempt at sewing a shirt
I drew a pattern based on a current shirt I own. I thought I had done a pretty good job in drawing the pattern after reading up on it quite a bit, but I had not accounted adequately for the amount of stretch in my current shirt vs. the fabric I was using, so, first attempt was rather snug. Ripped out the seams and added a long vertical panel going up both sides and down the insides of the arms.  If someone is examining the seams of my shirt they will notice that it seems a bit odd to have that, especially on the sleeves, but since it matches on both sides, it's not really that bad. If I use the pattern again I'll sew the collar together and to the front/back of the shirt first and then add the sleeves last, as it got a little oddly shaped the way I did it this time. Thankfully I was able to fix it by just folding the collar a bit and tacking it down.  I added a few buttons to the collar, and voila,  vintage floral shirt! I love the vintage patterns that are so in right now, but have a hard time finding clothing that fits me in that style. This works. The sheet cost me $2.

Second sewing project - also a $2 sheet from a thrift store. This is a circle skirt - so it's just a doughnut of fabric with a waistband sewn in.  I kind of love it. I'm trying to decide where it's public debut should be - I have a couple of options  coming up in the next couple of weeks.

The snaps I used to fasten the waist are also quite vintage - check out those prices!  The 30 pack in the picture is marked 35 cents. Today, you can get a 30 pack of snaps from Jo-Ann Fabrics for $3.49. I inherited these snaps along with some wooden spools of thread in an old wooden sewing chest that was given to me n Chicago.


I took one of my much-loved train trips.  

I haven't been very adventurous in the kitchen, so nothing exciting to report there.  I tend to rotate through tomato sandwiches, chips and guac, egg salad, zucchini "burgers" on pita, and baked potatoes fairly often. Living in a place with no a/c makes turning on the oven about the last thing I want to do in the summer. I need to figure out some yummy salads I can make at home. 

In the land of Television, I had been excited about a new season of MasterChef, but it seems to have devolved into the mess of overly produced drama full of selfish bickering that characterizes reality TV.  So, that's been scratched from the watch list. 

I've never been into music enough to really recommend anything, but I will say that I enjoyed having the "Brenda Lee" station on Pandora as my soundtrack to work the other day. If you're ever in the mood for sing-along old-school country and rock, that station is a winner. 

So, my summer has been reading and sewing and generally enjoying not having a paper constantly due.  One more year of grad school coming up and then it's on to rest of my life.   I think enjoying what is likely to be my last summer "off" is a lovely way to spend this year. :) 

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh