i’ve been thinking about how we can move towards finding connections, instead of focusing on differences. i see the image above and i think idealistically about how the united states would be so cool if we lived up to our image as a place where all are welcome. (i do not know the source of this artwork, and hope the artist does not mind it being shared!)
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
~emma lazarus (the quote associated with the statue of liberty on ellis island, the entry point to our country for my ancestors, all of whom came from europe.)
some would say, “but it’s not that simple. we have to think about national security.”
others would argue, “yes, it really is that simple” to be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. i thoroughly enjoyed reading about the refugees the pope personally rescued from syria here and here. i also love this rainbow-rific image (unknown source) of pope francis, whom i have come to admire for his practical, no-nonsense way of practicing what he preaches. it’s one thing to claim you have no problem with someone of a different religion; it’s another thing to wash that person’s feet.
speaking of rainbow-rific, this is the current boss of our hummingbird feeders, and i think he likes having his picture taken! and clearly, he has found the rainbow connection.
red: i am finally overcoming the inertia of winter and making some real progress on wedding planning! i feel some flat bride posts coming on… because there is some good comedy in taking your own measurements for a wedding dress, let me tell you!
red: a friday lunch for my ten year old young man!
orange: brightly colored driftwood on my lunch break beach run today.
yellow: the daffodils are coming!
green: a new bayou vista opened up by my trail blazing fiance.
blue: blue hair braided with black hair. they found a rainbow connection. (image from reuters)
so i’m puzzling on this, but i think that trying to find a rainbow connection means not defaulting to the scripted polar divisions and not becoming reactive on topics regardless of whether the topic is pokemon go, colin caepernick, the election, or standing rock. this neural groove of either/or is well lubricated, so it’s going to take strong intentions and follow through to avoid slipping into it. what if i could be with each of those topics, without taking a side? without having to justify an opinion?
instead, what if we used a new language? what if we stepped off the continuum of us/them, right/wrong altogether and asked in what ways do we already agree? in what ways can we move forward towards the common goals we have? can we acknowledge how our fears are clouding our solution-finding?
what if we stop seeing causes as mutually exclusive, stop assuming scarcity, and work to achieve both/and? can we both fund the national endowment for the arts, and maintain our military? can we care both for refugees and our homeless veterans? can we help young women and help unborn babies?
i’m pretty sure we can!
blue: sunnier days ahead! welcome signs of spring are all around.
purple: primrose surprises in the front yard!
as i keep seeking the rainbow connection, i keep looking for the silver lining, looking for the ways in which people are being the rainbow, even in the face of some very dark clouds…
on january 21, women marched in the united states and 57 other countries, on all seven continents (even antarctica!), for so many excruciating reasons. women marched to affirm their own lives. it’s unfortunate that so many people saw the women’s march as antithetical to life, because i believe that in order for babies’ lives to be affirmed, the lives of the women carrying them have to come first.
women did march for reproductive rights. they marched for the women who fought hard to flee countries where their families were unsafe, who now fear deportation because of their muslim faith. they marched for the women who fear deportation to mexico, being torn from their children who were born in this country. they marched for the victims who will have to go back to buying their own rape kits if violence against women legislation is undone. they marched because rape culture is a real thing, (not sure? two words: brock turner. two more words: baylor university. there are a million more words i could say about this if you’re still not convinced.) they marched for kids in public schools, and the belief that they deserve to receive an equitable education, regardless of their income or ability. they marched for the babies in nicu wards who will go back to reaching their lifetime health insurance caps before they ever leave the hospital when the aca is repealed. they marched because our great grandchildren deserve clean air, clean water, and to have public lands left to explore. they marched for the endangered species we stand to lose because they are an inconvenience to big corporations. they marched because no matter how far we’ve come, some men still think they can go around talking about lady gaga’s abs like lady gaga owes them something.
women can diverge from soft and nurturing once in a while to be strong and fierce, and it’s a good thing. we’ve come a long way, baby, and we don’t want to give up any ground.
it hasn’t been that long since women could not own property, and not long before that women were property. the property of their fathers, and then their husbands, a condition that reverberates forward through time in ways we haven’t eradicated. that time spanning between amendments 15 and 19 stands as an awkward pause belying that we value women as much as men as a nation. also awkwardly revealing is the failure of our government to ever ratify the equal rights amendment, to this day.
i phrased all of the reasons for marching in terms of “they” because i wasn’t marching that day. i was selling organic vegetables. although i was wearing a pink hat and directing anyone interested to the venue for the local march, i did not get to attend it myself. i wasn’t protesting the day before that, on inauguration day, either. on that day, i was chaperoning fourth graders who were picking up garbage from agate beach. i would have gladly participated in peaceful protests on those days, but other life affirming callings rose to the top. some nasty woman’s gotta sell the organic vegetables and pick up the beach trash.
nasty woman, circa 2000.
while we’re on the subject of life affirming messages, i want to share this beautiful song, written and performed by girls in a music theory class, who were presented with a portion of hillary clinton’s concession speech “to all the little girls.”
one of the most poignant and unifying symbols i came across throughout the turbulent time surrounding the inauguration was a gathering of women on a border bridge between the u.s. and mexico who stood with their hair braided together and hands clasped. i really feel they captured the idea of letting ourselves truly feel empathy for the “other” in such a tangible way.
these issues are gnarly to try to discuss, but it needs to be done. it needs to be done in a way that we acknowledge the humanity in one another. it’s tricky and i’m struggling to find the right words, but once again staying silent isn’t the right option for me. as we transition from black history month to women’s history month, i am still hoping that in some way, my words will encourage dialogue to help those of us who disagree to find more and more common ground.
yellow: i snagged the last fish print card off the shelf by local artist bruce koike, and wrote my own mama message concerning orders of magnitude on the blank inside.
green: reading his card from grammy and grampy.
green: after he set up his pokemon figures to decorate, he noticed they were forming a q!
green: bulbasaur guacamole, and grass-type broccoli for snacking
green: my fiance was incredibly productive in outdoor projects during the birthday festivities, though he made sure to be around for key moments like present-opening and cupcake-eating. he found some awesome new nooks in our backyard forest, like the one not done justice by this photo.
blue: water-type… water!
purple: instead of forming crystals, these bubbles changed color from rainbow, to various single colors, to colorless, then shrank until they disappeared. bubbles on wet snow experimental results, in case anyone wanted to know!
gray: new bathrobe for this young jedi apprentice. his old one was up past his knees and elbows, so it was time. i made this out of some organic cotton french terry (the loopy part is on the inside of the fabric).
black: hands down his favorite present, a minecraft medieval fortress book. he will be talking of turrets and portcullises for the next few weeks, i can tell!
for grammy and me, and anyone else who would like to go back and revisit previous birthdays…
last year i was startled to realize that quinn was halfway to 18, and now suddenly he’s halfway to 20. for some reason, time feels like it is accelerating on me.
the time we spend together when i walk him from the car up to the door of the school, never fails to be the time he wants to talk my ear off. i really cherish this precious “get to hear from your kid” time that feels like a secret that a lot of other parents don’t seem know about as they drive their subarus through the “hamster wheel” as i like to call it, and pop their kids directly out of the car onto the doorstep of the school. on one recent walk up, he was telling me all about the next game he is drawing on graph paper which is about angry birds, and explaining all the details to me, but he was still explaining when we got up to the door. i was hugging him, and he just held onto me and kept explaining, so i kept hugging him, and listening, and then he was finally done and let go of the hug and said bye and ran inside.
he has lived a whole year for each one of his fingers, and will have to start counting on toes next year. also, a year for each leg of a crab (they’re decapods!)
10 = 1+2+3+4… from the bathtub, he told me, “there’s actually a fourth person point of view in stories, because sometimes the narrator is telling you about everything mostly through one person’s thoughts.” he explained how in harry potter, he noticed that the narrator isn’t harry, but only reports on the thought process of harry, and observes the actions of other characters from his frame of reference without reporting on the thoughts of other characters. he noticed that this differed from a third person perspective in which the author could see inside all of the character’s thoughts. i proceeded to pull out my notes from reading word painting, specifically the chapter on point of view, and we discussed the subtle nuances between third person omniscient, third person objective, and third person limited omniscient (the magical point of view which he had identified). i had never fully articulated the differences among these points of view, until learning about them approximately a year ago when i read this book intended for writers.
what’s funny is that i had just had a conversation with him about minor frustrations with the level of material he feels he could be learning, which ended in a discussion about using his time in fourth grade to bring his writing level up to speed with his reading and math. more about that in a lifelong learning post, but needless to say, his writing skills are not a big concern.
“now wash your hair, son.”
10 is special. it’s the culmination of the numbers that come before it, and the start of a whole new set of numbers. there is still a little bit of a younger boy in there, the one who still needs to be cajoled into taking a bath, and reaches for my hand as we walk up the sidewalk to school. but there is also an older, mature and capable young man in there, whose brain can wrap around narrative points of view he hasn’t been formally introduced to, who can prioritize his learning goals, and microwave his own tupperwares of rice.
quinn is in an intensive art mode right now, mostly drawing games on graph paper but also some on regular paper and even getting out the markers, not just pencil drawing. he is coloring in and making scenery for games, and designing many intricate details of games. as a result, every time we leave the house for school or karate, he asks, “can i draw in the car?” and a few times recently when i expressed that we were really cutting it close on time, he ran back anyway and grabbed binder/pencil/markers. at one point he told me, “i’m doing a peaceful protest. i’m going to draw on the way to school. i’m like martin luther king jr.” what could i say? “if you are going to be martin luther king, i’m going to be proud. but you also need to bring your backpack for school.” “i’m peaceful protesting again,” now seems to be shorthand for, “i know you’d prefer i didn’t, but i’ve thought about it, and i’m going to anyway.”
10 is the sum of the first 3 prime numbers, 2+3+5. this stage feels like the prime time of parenting. quinn told me the other day, “lisa was being so cute sitting on the white box, and i just had to take a picture of her! so i went and grabbed the camera…. ” i had had no idea, but i adore the fact that i now sometimes get surprise pictures on my camera that i didn’t take.
he’s halfway to 20, the age that, when he was 4, he used to idealize as the magical age at which he’d be able to do all the things he was as yet too little to do.
from 2011: we arrived home to the dark house and snuggled up on the couch in the almost darkness, and i asked if i could talk to him about something. “you know how i told you i’d be going on a boat for a few days?” i explained in more detail how it would be ten days, and all the ins and outs. quinn got very quiet, then he got a little quiver in his voice and sat up straight on my lap (he had been snuggled up against me) and said, “well, can i come on the boat too?” oh god. the agony. the poor kid. i not only feel bad leaving him, but it’s his favorite dream ever to go on a boat and here i’m going and doing the super funnest thing ever (in his mind) without him. so i explained that we’re going too far offshore, where the waves are too bumpy for little people, and we have to do a lot of work with heavy equipment that’s not safe, etc. “well, maybe i could take a nap down in the cabin?” oh my god my throat hurt so badly, listening to his problem solving little self find potential solutions. sigh…. pretty soon he was just saying, “don’t go on a boat, mama!” and we both cried a little bit and i told him i would miss him so much. he asked a lot of questions like why did i have to go on the boat for work, and then finally told me, “when i’m 20, maybe you can go on a boat again and i can go with you because i’ll be 20 and i can catch some salmon and do work on them with you too.”resolved.
mother mother ocean, he’s wanted to sail upon your waters since he was three feet tall. a pirate looks at 10. 10 in roman numerals is x marks the spot!
celebrating having been a mama for a whole decade, i indulged a bit this morning in reading back through the story of his birth, which was a bittersweet time for a multitude of reasons, due to relationship strain and hospital stress all mixed up in the incredible joy of meeting quinn for the first time. i’ll admit it, i was a little teary-eyed while reading these memories. it struck me that birth stories, especially ones that were written, like mine, within days of birth, are impossibly intimate. they distill an unbelievable amount of the human experience into paragraphs, but are almost too graphic to share. i have so far spared the public the play-by-play of cervixes and contractions, dilation and doppler, perineum and pitocin and paramedics, oh my!, but i have extracted a few favorite excerpts of tmi (you have been warned!) to share on the tenth anniversary of the hardest thing i’ve ever done.
(it got bigger. there was still another month to go.)
On Wednesday I was finishing up session four of acupuncture when my water broke- I felt a small gush as I sat there all poked with needles in my hands, legs and feet, visualizing flowers opening, water flowing in and out of sea caves, baby’s heads pushing on cervixes and opening them up… woohoo! I thought that would start things off for sure. Kate visited to test that it was really amniotic fluid, and it was. I knew it anyway, it smelled like earthy water, like nothing I’ve smelled before, but reminded me of spring gardening in the rain.
I started finding that I could do 5 or 6 pushes instead of just 4 per contraction, and soon I was able to feel his head- I felt so much hair! This spurred me on- I knew the midwives had been able to see part of his head each time using the flashlight, but now I knew how big a circle I felt, and his hair for some reason made him a real baby and made it real to me that he was coming really soon…. I would sigh with relief to hear his heart beat, take a deep breath, and start the next gathering of my senses~strength~energy~spirit and begin the next push.
the midwives were telling me to reach down and hold my baby and talk to my baby and there he was! a slimy little tiny creature with tons of dark hair, all curly from being wet, all curled into a litlte ball of arms and legs and butt and head and umbilical cord. this was the very first time in the entire twenty hours of labor when i wanted to be on the bed. i think i needed help getting my legs on the bed at all. all i could pay attention to was quinn, this little dark haired bundle on my belly. the cord was just long enough for him to lay on my tummy with his head close to my breast. he was so tiny to my eyes, and so amazingly perfect. that was when he really became quinn to me. we had found out he was a boy days before, thanks to a fairly insensitive ultrasound doctor, and had decided almost for sure on his name, but now it was for real. i saw his dark blue eyes, his round cheeks, his tiny pink mouth, his little hands and feet, ears, arms, legs, butt, chin, tummy, chest… his head smelled like cinnamon.
(after it was decided we would head to the hospital by ambulance) i was immediately thankful we were attached, because immediately someone suggested taking him from me. i think my placenta refused to move from that point on, feeling that we could stay together if it would just cling a little longer…
(at the hospital) i don’t remember that moment of them separating us, i think i blocked it out. next thing i remember was looking over to my right to where quinn was lying on his own little stretcher, surrounded by people in scrubs. i was taken up to the labor and delivery ward, since i had not yet delivered my placenta. that was the first order of business. it sounded like the last thing in the world i wanted to do. i couldn’t really handle the thought of even one more contraction. they said they would need to give me pitocin (a shot in the leg) and then they would push on my belly and i would need to push once and then it should come out. (neither shot of pitocin i was given did anything to stimulate contractions. i never had another one.*) unfortunately, although my head was soaring from the meds, i felt the pain quite well when they pushed on me, but somehow i was able to push once and get the placenta out. it happened quickly, at least. sometime in this vicinity was when word came up that quinn was in the nicu and stable and that he weighed 11 pounds and 15 and a quarter ounces.
*ten years hence, i believe i never will have another contraction, including menstrual cramps. i think my uterus retired right then and there.
on wires and tubing:
it made me so sad that he had to have a tube in his throat. they tried to put him on CPAP (oxygen support that uses tubes inserted into the nostrils) but he seemed like he needed more support, so they intubated him and therefore had a tube down his throat and tape all over his face to hold it in place- i was warned it would be hard to look at him that way… It seemed like a thousand years between when they took him away from me and when I finally got wheeled in beside his crib. he was elevated (all the babies in the neonatal intensive care, NICU, are elevated so the nurses can reach them) and I couldn’t stand up, so i only got to stroke his little hand and talk to him from way down low in the wheelchair. i remember feeling sad and a bit defeated, but at the same time overjoyed to finally be touching him again. I just wanted to hold him. He was peaceful but it was a shock to my system to see how many monitors and tubes and things they had running to and from his little body. That first time in the NICU I didn’t notice any of the other babies. i just focused on quinn, and talked to him so he would hear my voice and know i was there with him. i scanned the layout of the place so i would know exactly where to find him- there are “pods” in the NICU, like little alcoves off a big hallway, and i counted which one he was in from the entrance…
People kept saying to me “no news is good news” and I was so frustrated with that. Any time I would ask how Quinn was, that was the answer I would get. I was still feeling so weak and had to rely on others to be able to be near Quinn, and that was the most frustrating, helpless feeling.
…Now that I had been to the NICU a few times, I had noticed the other babies around Quinn. Most of them were premature, and tiny. I could gaze at Quinn for an entire hour thinking how tiny and perfect he was, then all of sudden I’d glance to the right and the itty bitty girl next to him was less than a quarter of his weight- that was surreal.
I did a lot of studying of monitors and instruments that day to learn what the numbers all meant. I learned that the settings of Quinn’s respiratory support were all very low or “ambient” settings, and that meant he was mostly breathing all by himself with just a tiny bit of enrichment to the air he was being exposed to. I learned which finger clamps and which little pads taped to which parts of his body were pulse oxymeters, which was the thermometer, which was his blood pressure cuff, and what tubing went to and from his umbilical IVs (one was in the umbilical artery, for drawing blood for his repeated tests of dissolved oxygen levels, and one was in the vein for giving him fluids, electrolytes, lipids and aminos, as well as his Fentanyl and antibiotics… I had to learn to be around for shift changes (7am and 7pm) when the nurses give each other the run down of the previous shift, so I could hear what they REALLY thought, not just what they said for my benefit.
on blood loss:
i asked if i could have help getting to the bathroom, so she got another nurse and they supported me over to the toilet and i sat down. then when they helped me to stand up again, i blacked out, i remember the nurse saying “look into my eyes! look into my eyes!” and really trying to obey, but i just couldn’t keep mine open. Then I was sitting down again, and they made me smell something to wake me up, and they helped me get back to my bed and lay down again… My blood hematocrit had been measured that morning, a 19 being pretty far below the “normal” level they quoted to me of 33. The doctors came into my room and told me they strongly urged me to have a blood transfusion. I could live without it, however, it would take me many months to regain my blood supply, and my energy levels would also remain low for a long time. In the end, I decided to have the transfusion because it meant I could be stronger more quickly, and be able to be there for Quinn. That night I had to stay in my room all night because the blood transfusion (two units) took 6 hours to complete. I was more than ready to be up and about the next morning to go see Quinn, and I felt SO much better that I stood up and walked down to his floor myself, trailing my IV pole behind me.
It was so strange to have grown up on a dairy farm milking cows, with milking machines, and then all of a sudden to be a new mother and hooking myself up to the same contraption…by evening I was running on a pretty large surplus over what was needed (according to their calculations) for feeding Quinn every 3 hours. I was holding myself to my 2 hour pumping schedule, and I think that had a lot to do with my success. My midwife checked in with me and reassured me, “your body knows you made a twelve pound baby.” It was so good to be reminded of such grounding wisdom.
source: wikipedia; couldn’t resist this orders of magnitude illustration, complete with baby
and just like that, his time on earth has increased by an order of magnitude. my heart feels as though it has correspondingly expanded like a universe by its own order of magnitude to accommodate all the love i have for him.
75 years ago, on february 19, 1942, executive order 9066 was signed, enabling the incarceration of japanese americans. our federal government stole 3 years of the lives of over 100,000 people, stole their livelihoods and dignity as well, in many cases. they did this in the name of national security. the rights of these people were suspended based on suspicion, not fact or evidence.
the fact is, that no evidence of spying or sabotage by any japanese americans has ever been discovered.
alternative facts, circa 1942:
“The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second and third generation Japanese born on American soil, possessed of American citizenship, have become ‘Americanized,’ the racial strains are undiluted. …It, therefore, follows that along the vital Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies, of Japanese extraction, are at large today. There are indications that these are organized and ready for concerted action at a favorable opportunity. The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.”
— General John L. DeWitt, head of the U.S. Army’s Western Defense Command
“A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched—so a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parents—grows up to be a Japanese, not an American.”
— Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1942
did you know that nowhere in executive order 9066 did president roosevelt identify the particular americans whose rights would be violated? the order simply circumvented the constitution by establishing a zone from which “any or all” persons could be excluded. i didn’t know that until a few days ago, and the comparison to current events came into sharper focus for me.
(white) Wartime Civil Control Administration workers
because japanese americans looked like the enemy, they were given identification numbers, put on buses, and forced to sleep on straw mattresses in horse stalls. they were not given due process, not charged with crimes, because they hadn’t committed any crime. evacuees built the barbed wire fence intended to contain themselves; forcing prisoners of war to labor is a violation of the geneva convention which states, “No persons may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed.”
prisoners clearing more land to hold more prisoners
in the grip of fear, we lost sight of our values.
george takei, who was five years old when his family was imprisoned, reminds us that, “The stigmatization, separation and labeling of our fellow humans based on race or religion has never led to a more secure world. But it has too often led to one where the most vulnerable pay the highest price.”
i was touched by the photos of japanese prisoners taken by dorothea lange. in the spirit of frederick douglass, i am once again engaging in photo activism, borrowing her amazing work, which as far as i understand, is in the public domain. up until 2006, most of them were hidden away in the national archive, and were only seen for the first time a decade ago.
i was particularly moved by the photos of japanese american farmers who were removed from their land, as a farm kid myself, there are few things that pain me as much as the thought of losing our land. though it was claimed the prisoners would be “given opportunities to continue farming and other callings,” that promise was obviously never going to make up for the loss of land and livelihood, and reminds me a bit of the potted plants i kept on my sidewalk when i lived in the city.
there isn’t (to my knowledge) an official day of remembrance for the japanese internment, but informally, many paused and remembered this past sunday, on the 75th anniversary of executive order 9066. i hope we do not need to commit any more atrocities against people of any race, religion, or ethnicity, because the calendar feels full of heavy, dark remembrances already. may remembering these grim events in our collective past prevent more crimes against humanity from bring committed; may we live based on love instead of fear.
hello, valentine’s day rainbow hearts! they don’t make them like they used to. aside from the ones that don’t have any words, there are some words that i don’t remember seeing on conversation hearts back in the day. i think one of those green ones (printed off-center) was supposed to say, “on fleek,” and i don’t even know what that means. i also have no idea what “pump up” has to do with v day. lol!
red: my valentine sported his ben harper shirt from live music 2016 when i took him to his early birthday concert over the weekend to kick off live music 2017. we saw experience hendrix, which included appearances by blues legend buddy guy, keb mo, robby krieger of the doors, zakk wylde, kenny wayne shepherd, and a bunch of other awesome musicians.
orange: the next morning, he helped his daughter and i pick out fabric for wedding projects.
yellow: more trouble-making, the night of the concert. he is a theater rat, and thinks it’s cool to walk around peeking into random doors and going up random stairways in a concert hall.
yellow: the arlene schnitzer concert hall is an exquisite venue.
green: a little sunshine to kick off the weekend was a welcome treat.
blue: finding our seats pre-concert.
white: the elusive mount hood was visible as we arrived in the city of quinn’s birth for our concert. more on that topic when my baby turns 10 in 3 more days. (wahhhhhh!)
from the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
this land was made for you and me
reason #9761 i know that i have found the right man to spend my life with: he has counted exactly how many redwood trees are growing on this land.
lest anyone come to the false conclusion that this post is unpolitical, since i kicked it off with a woody guthrie folk song, i will share one more frederick douglass quote with you as we honor black history month:
“in thinking of america, i sometimes find myself admiring her bright blue sky — her grand old woods — her fertile fields — her beautiful rivers — her mighty lakes, and star-crowned mountains. but my rapture is soon checked, my joy is soon turned to mourning. when i remember that all is cursed with the infernal actions of slaveholding, robbery and wrong, — when i remember that with the waters of her noblest rivers, the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters, i am filled with unutterable loathing.”
rich came into the kitchen to put something in the sink over the weekend, and quinn was at the table watching us and when we comically both turned the opposite way and missed each other, i said to quinn, “i could have sworn someone came in here.” rich was now behind me in the kitchen as i asked quinn if he saw someone come in, and could he describe the person. quinn told me, “yes. it was a boy. i mean, a male. tall, with the beginnings of a beard….”
then rich bear hugged me from behind, and after a brief loss of composure, i continued my commentary to quinn, “hmmm, rear bear hug with arms free, that’s crashing wings, right? (that is the name of our karate self-defense technique for said bear hug attack) and quinn said, “yup!” and proceeded to giggle while i did crashing wings on rich (who was also laughing) in the kitchen.
last night quinn had a headache so he fell asleep with junior strength ibuprofin at 6:30, then woke up at 8:30 to eat dinner, draw and listen to a story, and then i turned his lights out at 10. i had been in the bath when he woke to eat, so he microwaved himself a tupperware of brown rice and ate the rest of a corn muffin that had been in his lunch. he’s getting to be pretty self-sufficient, my almost ten-year-old.
after i tucked him in the second time, i printed out his star wars valentines that i had downloaded from etsy last year for his class party today. print-our-own star wars cards were a good $5 investment, because star wars will always be relevant.
this morning i put a valentine card and reeses peanut butter hearts on rich’s chair for him to find after he got up from stoking the fire. i wrote mushy stuff in the card, which had owls and said something like “to tell you the truth i like doing nothing with you” so i ran with that theme and also pointed out that this will be our only v day as fiances, so we’d better savor it! for quinn i put a pack of pokemon cards (in which he was thrilled to find a blastoise ex) and a jar of capers on the table (the back story: in the series of unfortunate events books, the baudelaire orphans make puttanesca sauce in the bad beginning, and the recipe involves capers, which quinn has never tasted. we had discussed making the recipe from the book sometime, so it was a literary/culinary present.)
i cookie cuttered hearts out of the middle of two pieces of bread, made a tiny heart pbj for his lunch (with another corn muffin, and a juice box, at his request) and then scrambled egg and cheese in the middle of the outside pieces of the bread for his breakfast which he gobbled. the biscuits were heart blob shapes this morning too, for biscuits and gravy.
rich called up the stairs that i should look outside, and i ran out the door with my camera to photograph the sunrise, which was heart shaped. of course, my valentine would arrange such a thing for me. he also serenaded me with a fun medley of love songs.
me: heart biscuit blobs. rich: jedi atmospheric control. he always has to outdo me.
i drove quinn to school, then got back in my car, got a momentary flash of his valentines in a stack on the kitchen table, and drove home and back to school one more time for good measure. his class was all doing yoga with the lights off. so lovely to find the long frame of him folded like origami into eagle pose as i snuck his cards into his backpack.
as of sunday, the christmas tree now has only lights on it… it is still standing in the living room as of this morning, still with lights. my friend wedding boss tries to keep me on task, but today another deadline comes and goes and my save-the-date cards are closer to completion, but not yet sent.
i baked my fellas a cherry death star pie. i baked them heart-shaped pizza for dinner. i declined to carve each whole olive into a tiny death star, as requested by quinn, but i think he enjoyed his pizza in spite of it. they each gave me a valentine card (swoon).
i may be behind on life, but taking it one day at a time, my priorities set on making my guys feel loved today and every day, feels right.
my good friend, frederick douglass, was asked how it felt in his first moments of freedom from slavery. he found that words were inadequate to capture those feelings, saying, “anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted; but gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil.”
still, we have to at least try to express the whole range of our emotions. and photos help, when trying to convey the simple gladness and joy of our daily lives.
i’ve been trying to be the rainbow in my daily work, or at least, having fun whenever i can.
red: signs of spring! the peonies i planted in the fall as bare roots are already starting to come up! i am hopeful that they will be blooming in the temporal vicinity of a certain summer get together i am hosting. i cherish the memory of waking up to the sight and potent aroma of peonies on my bedside table, placed there by my mom, on the morning of my high school graduation.
orange: probably a more accurate crayola name could be found for this raw burnt sienna umber color, but i just loved the bright rusty inner bark layer of these black walnut slices rich is making for his daughter.
yellow-orange: sunset therapy, whenever i can manage it.
yellow: did i mention how pleased i am that spring is arriving? this is the time of year i start to feel human again and come out of hibernation. everything starts to feel possible again, when the daylight lasts a teensy bit longer and life starts to emerge from the earth in the form of flowers.
yellow: this lad is (visibly) enjoying his new dojo. he tested for his full adult yellow belt on saturday with great success.
green: signs of spring emerging and winter retreating. i’m excited to see what flower bulbs are to be found around our yard!
blue: more daylight, more blue sky, more gladness and joy.
purple: i was particularly glad and joyful when rich discovered a patch of my favorite color of wild violets already established under the big cedar tree in our front yard. spring is coming!
red violet: sunrise overlooking our newly expanded eastern vista. always a great color to complete a rainbow post, the color of love, the source of all gladness and joy.
when i read the text of the speech delivered by the president upon the occasion of black history month, i was so taken aback by the dimensionless name drops of token black americans, and in particular, the use of the incorrect verb tense when stating that frederick douglass “has done an amazing job,” that i was inspired to read a bit about the life and legacy of frederick douglass. i learned a lot, and have much more to say about him, but for today i wanted to share that he made conscious use of photography as a form of activism. i decided that for black history month, i will make conscious use of my black and white wednesday posts to say some things i feel compelled to say.
today i’m borrowing some photos from history (all of which i believe are in the public domain).
frederick douglass was the most photographed american of the 19th century. he used the tool of the selfie to demolish the caricature of the “happy slave” and confront racism head on with a fiercely serious look. he had something to say, and he combined his eloquent speaking with his use of photos to bring about social change. i feel like i have found a kindred in frederick douglass, though i am not nearly as eloquent and my photos are rarely of myself.
here is one of the things he had to say. “This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
you simply cannot sum up his life by saying that he “has done an amazing job.” this man was separated from his mom at an age so young he could only remember the sense of her lying down to help him fall asleep, and the sense of her being gone when he awoke. he overcame extreme adversity, was beaten and nearly broken by his master before making his escape on the underground railroad. he taught himself, sought out teachers, and taught others how to read, and became an eloquent public speaker.
he didn’t only speak up for the abolition of slavery, he was also vocal about women’s rights, free public education, abolishing capital punishment, suffrage, and several other major societal issues. he was a man of integrity who would “unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”
in light of an administration who acknowledged black history month without mentioning the word “slavery,” and acknowledged holocaust remembrance day without a word spared for the six million jews (not a single mention of one single jew) murdered by nazis, i am feeling compelled to unite with those who care about doing right. i will not quietly submit in order to find out the exact measure of injustice that would be imposed, i have seen how that movie ends on the small scale of my little life, and i’m starting to see a glimmer of how that played out in history, and i can’t keep quiet.
speaking of jews…
“they are committing the greatest indignity human beings can inflict on one another: telling people who have suffered excruciating pain and loss that their pain and loss were illusions.” elie wiesel spoke out against holocaust denial, and he would know, having lived through his imprisonment at the concentration camp at buchenward, bearing the tattoo of a-7713, not one of the six million who was murdered, but instead one of the roughly three million survivors of the holocaust who would have to find a way to move on with life after his release.
within days of release, elie wiesel can be seen in this photograph, on the second row from the bottom, seventh from left next to the post. the atrocities that are represented by this image must not be allowed to repeat themselves. “We cannot indefinitely avoid depressing subject matter, particularly if it is true, and in the subsequent quarter century the world has had to hear a story it would have preferred not to hear – the story of how a cultured people turned to genocide, and how the rest of the world, also composed of cultured people, remained silent in the face of genocide.”
i will not remain silent.
the slow erosion of our humanity, the creep of one new normal into the next new normal, is the way fascism takes hold of an otherwise cultured people, and turns them to committing atrocious acts, up to and including genocide. it is the everyday citizen, charged with upholding a baseless and unconstitutional ban on immigration, who finds himself detaining an elderly woman for over 33 hours and denying her the use of a wheelchair. on the average day, the airport security person does not commit inhumane acts, but last week, he handcuffed a 5 year old child and separated him from his mother for hours. i’m sure he was just following orders.
this interview reminds us of the importance of watchfulness for the signs of fascism in our society, because of this slow, imperceptible creep that can overtake humanity. “At the Holocaust Museum in Washington…there is a placard that says “Early warning signs of fascism,” and it has a list that includes powerful and continuing nationalism, disdain for human rights, identification of enemies as a unifying cause, supremacy of the military, rampant sexism, controlled mass media, obsession with national security, corporate power protected, labor power suppressed, disdain for intellectuals and the arts, obsession with crime and punishment. ” (italics mine.)
the executive order that places a ban on immigration and refugees falls under several of those headings, and the cost is in human lives. lest we diminish the gravity of the consequences of turning away refugees at our border, we must bear in mind that our nation also placed limits on immigration of jews during the holocaust, such as the 937 jewish refugees aboard the s.s. st. louis who were turned away from miami in 1939, 254 of whom ended up dying in concentration and extermination camps upon their return to germany. these were humans fleeing violence, not numbers. Wiesel also said, “We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”
once again, photos drive the point home:
“My name is Joachim Hirsch. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz.”
i can’t keep quiet. another elie wiesel quote has stuck with me this week: “I write to understand as much as to be understood.” i’m starting to think my memory problems are inversely proportional to how much writing i’m doing, that writing helps me empty out and organize my brain, making neurons available for the daily chores. as i was washing my hands in the second bathroom i came to, walking to my office after finishing some lab work, it dawned on me that i had already washed them in the first bathroom i had passed. so it is time for me to get this jumble of thoughts out of my system, more for myself than to try and impress upon anyone else the importance of how we handle this juncture in our history.
and yet there is an urgency. i still do not wish to smuggle in any hate, or appear to attack or put on the defensive anyone who may chance to read this post. still, i find that the more history i read, the more i feel compelled to read. the more urgent my questions become when i learn that the concentration camp buchenward, in which elie wiesel was imprisoned, was liberated on april 11, 1945, by the u.s. third army. this fact collides with the one soundbyte i can recall of my poppy’s army service during world war ii, that he served under general george patton in the u.s. third army. hold up! was he still serving at that time? was he there at buchenward? are those some of the experiences that haunted his dreams? i cannot ask him, and there are fewer and fewer world war ii veterans and holocaust survivors remaining in the world today to ask. elie wiesel passed away in 2016, and my poppy, peter donnelly, passed away in 1993. this story must not die with the dwindling (estimated 100,000) holocaust survivors who are left of the (also estimated) three million who lived through the holocaust. it is up to us to not keep quiet about our history, and apply it to our present. i will save that for another post.