Sunday, September 4, 2016

How Our History Has Shaped Us and Why Black Lives Still Matter

This made me cry.

Yesterday, Anna and I went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) to see Kehinde Wiley's exhibit "A New Republic." Wiley’s signature portraits of everyday men and women riff on specific paintings by Old Masters, replacing the European aristocrats depicted in those paintings with contemporary black subjects, drawing attention to the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives.

We watched two little African-American girls pose ala tableau vivant in front of "Two Sisters," a larger-than-life painting of two African-American women standing arm-in-arm. Anna said, "Mom, this is why he's [Wiley] so important; he "represents." There's nothing else in this museum that looks like them."

We also viewed the Gordon Parks exhibit, which traces Parks’ return to his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas and then to other Midwestern cities, to track down and photograph each of his childhood classmates. The images depict the realities of life under segregation in 1950–– presenting a rarely seen view of everyday lives of African-American citizens in the years before the Civil Rights movement began in earnest.

These photos were supposed to run in Life Magazine, but for some reason, were never published.

Then, this story was published on the front page of the Washington Post. A lynching of an American WWII happened on an American military base and only a cursory investigation was done. In fact, even now, 75 years after the fact, portions of the investigation are redacted and the FBI refuses to change this.
Why did this happen? Why does it continue to persist, even now? Martin Luther King, Jr, said, "If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the Southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man."

But this doesn't really answer, "Why?" In 2000, the researchers on the Human Genome Project told us that race has no basis in science.

I wept when I read how Private Felix Hall attempted to build a pile of dirt under his feet to ease the pressure of the noose against his neck. Ultimately, he failed, and hatred prevailed.

Under our skins, we are all the same. All the same.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Don't Dismiss the Actual Buyer Standing in Front of You for the Potential Buyer Tomorrow

Anna and I went to estate sales today. One sale had FIVE sewing machines and lot of sewing items (mainly buttons, doll patterns, and scissors) so I did pick up a bag of buttons and a pair of Gingher Dressmakers and a pair of Fiskar pinking shears because they felt so nice.

I didn't have high hopes for the next one because the main selling feature was decades of vintage Playboy magazines, but we went because they listed vintage and modern photography equipment and Anna is taking photography at NVCC.

Amazingly, they had a Pfaff 360 vintage free-arm sewing machine (manufacturer date stamp 12 23 59) and I plugged it in to see if it worked. The machine did turn on and all the parts were there, but to make stitches, I had to turn the flywheel because it just groaned when I pushed the pedal. The instruction manual is completely in German.

I took it downstairs and one of the workers said it was $175. Say what? I told them no, it would cost me at least $75 to take it to the shop for maintenance. I told them I would pay $30. There were gasps. If they would have countered with $50, I would have taken it. The lady running the sale said she would take it home tonight and research it with her experts.

I gave her my business card if they change their minds. The Pfaff 360 goes for $100 on Ebay with shipping charges between $20 and $50. The machines on Ebay also work. Just because it's vintage and it's worth a lot in some niche market doesn't mean you should dismiss the buyer standing in front of you for the potential buyer who *might* pay what you're asking tomorrow. I did leave my business card with them, but I don't think they're going to call me.

The fact is I don't really need another member of my sewing machine museum. However, if I DID have all that money to spend, I'd like to buy the mid-century modern piece that featured drop-down doors and slide-out drawers! That was awesome!

On another note, it's all very interesting to visit estate sales because I wonder about the past owner. In this instance, the man was at least a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who was married to a German lady. They must have met when he was stationed in Germany. He was also stationed in the UK as there was a lot of Spode china. The sewing machine had some stitches on a test piece of cloth, including the name "Helga," so I think that must have been her name. There wasn't a lot of women's clothing, although there were a few pairs of women's shoes in boxes. There was an office off of the bedroom, a massive desk in front of a massive window overlooking the backyard. All the Playboy magazines were lined up on the bookshelves. I 'm sure he subscribed just for the articles.

Mid-century modern credenza with drop-down doors and pull-out drawers

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Curse of the Firstborn: "Don't Be A Baby."

They got on the elevator at the 5th floor. It was evident he had been crying, this maybe 3-year old boy with yellow hair and tear-stained cheeks. His dad and grandmother accompanied him, the father standing next to his son who was hugging the railing around the elevator, while the grandmother took the opposite side of the elevator, next to me and the door buttons.

"He looks sad," I said. The father glanced at his son then at me. "His mother is having a baby and he wanted to stay with her," he said. "He's just upset because he didn't like being yelled at."

I thought about that. I don't like being yelled at either. But I didn't say anything. They let us out of the elevator first and I could hear the little boy breaking into sobs. My heart broke a little when I overheard the man say, "Why are you being a baby? Stop crying." Pause. "Why are you crying? You can't even tell me why you're crying."

He doesn't get it, this man. This boy's life is changing forever---after tonight, he'll never be an only child again. And everyone's going to dote on the new baby, cooing and smiling. Oh, sure, he'll get attention, too, but he's not NEW anymore. Oh, the curse of the firstborn and the self-aware.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Where, oh where, is my Jimmy Dean Bacon Lovers Roll Sausage?

Jimmy Dean Sausage
Only Jimmy Dean Hot, Maple and Sage Sausage available. MILD is sold out!
I haven't been able to find Jimmy Dean Bacon Lovers Roll Sausage ANYWHERE. I've been to Giant, Shoppers, WalMart, Safeway, and my local military commissary. This just doesn't exist in my part of the world.

I'm a BzzAgent so I get to try out all sorts of fun things and I've been carrying my coupon for a free roll to try and have been handing out coupons to my friends to get their sausage-bacon thrill on for awhile. I'm kind of surprised that the campaign ends on 21 JAN, because I think this would be AWESOME to feature at a Superbowl party. Maybe it'll be in stock somewhere I shop and I can feature this on some massive meaty nachos, some huge stuffed baked potatoes, or on a homemade pizza. My mouth is watering just thinking about this.

Jimmy Dean, can you help me out?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Mecca for Kecap Manis

I've been searching for kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce used in Indonesian and other South East Asian dishes so I could try out a few recipes. H Mart didn't have it on previous visits so I decided to call around to the various Oriental grocery stores here. Nothing from Daily Spices, Lotte Plaza, or the Fiesta Springfield Oriental Market. My only option was to try Great Wall Supermarket in Falls Church because they carried Vietnamese foods.

As soon as we walked in the door, I was transported back to Asia. The smell is so unique. I miss traveling around that part of the world. When I was a newbie Navy nurse, I was so upset that my options for serving in Europe were so limited. Now, I don't think you could get me to go there if I had the option to transfer to Okinawa, Japan, or Guam.

If you are a connoisseur of soy sauces, hang out in the Oriental food marts. (If you're hung up on cleanliness, don't go.) If you're a vegetarian, have no fear---they even make vegetarian soy sauce. We decided we needed to try the Mushroom Soy Sauce, and I did find the Kecap Manis.

My sirloin has been thinly sliced across the grain and is marinating in a combination of kecap manis and soy sauce en route to becoming beef satay. Yum!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's Snowing!

Flea is paying homage on the Altar to the Outdoors. He thinks he could catch the snowflakes if he were given half a chance....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sometimes You Need A Super Hero Cape

Anna was invited to a birthday party and we needed to get a birthday gift. We brainstormed and found some ideas on Etsy. Although it's meant for younger children, the Super Hero Cape appealed to us both.

I needed to create a logo for the cape and we decided to combine the design from the top left option and the letters from option second from the bottom left. Izzy's favorite colors are blue and green and we got blue fleece, green felt for the letters, a metallic novelty lace trim for the "tornado," a gold braid curtain pull for the collar and gold fringe for the bottom of the cape. The slogan, "More awesomeness per square inch," somehow got lost in the rush to complete it. Maybe if I had a fancy-schmancy embroidery-type sewing machine, I could have pulled that one off.
Super Hero Cape - Embryonic Form

Unfortunately, everything always takes longer than I expect or plan for. Anna cut the letters while I figured out what to do with the cape. My lovely Pfaff 1222E got tangled up with thread in the bobbin and quit (I have to make a trip to the repair shop tomorrow).  By this time I was very frustrated and thought this the worst present in the world. I seriously wished we had gone with Anna's original suggestion to buy an iTunes gift card. So I stitched the last three letters by hand and tacked the curtain braid on the collar. Then I discovered the small elastic cording I hoped to loop through the two blue flower buttons we'd gotten was too big. So, I stitched the elastic to the buttons with the thread and put a drop of glue on the thread and elastic for good measure. I didn't have time to make the tornade design on the back of the cape---we were already an hour late to the party.
I had Drew try the cape on so Anna could see it. It was awesome. I had made triangular darts at the shoulders and sewed some of the gold fringe under the folded-over fabric so it looked like epaulets. Drew ran up the stairs, the cape flying behind him, and came back down. "I love it!" he said. I did, too, and was glad I had finished the cape anyway.
"Please take some pictures," I told Anna.
"You don't think this is a lame gift?" she asked.
"No," I said firmly. "Every teenage girl needs a Super Hero Cape once in a while."