Wednesday, August 20, 2014

You Will Live Long Enough To Wear Me

I've been wanting to write lately and find myself drawing back from the keyboard.  I don't want to turn off my readers. I'll just apologize in advance for some things I've been carrying around on my chest. I'm going to make myself ill if I don't write it out.

There is so much going on in the world and little of the news is good. The events unfolding in Ferguson, MO are awful. For the first time, Amnesty International has sent human rights advocates to a U.S. location. There are riots and at least two dead now, with people and journalists being gassed and first amendment rights violated.  Schools are closed.

Last week, an environmentalist used the word "Fucked" to describe how much trouble we'll be in
“If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere.."

There were 20 earthquakes in Oklahoma today. We're heading for another dust bowl.

And Mork from Ork died.

A little girl, age 8, was tased in South Dakota.  Police say it was justified because she had a paring knife.

Water is becoming dangerously scarce. 

And the middle east is all up in crazy, dangerous arms.

Ten miles from here are wildfires that have burned over 12,000 acres. They're contained but won't be out until the heavier fall rains.

ISIS is dangerous, and we need to help people that they've cut off in a canyon and who ISIS are trying to starve out. And ISIS is beheading people. Find your own link on that one. I just can't.

Putin is making power plays and land grabs and I'm not sure if he is following the will of the people or if they want to join him and I'm not sure it's all black and white but I'm pretty sure he isn't so hot on human rights issues either.

Mostly I want to curl up in my bed and pull the covers over my head and wait for all of this to be over.  Maybe breathe into a paper bag for awhile.

I have rage fatigue. As someone who devotes her life to educating others and caring about issues of equity and social justice, I am exhausted. As a white person who would like to be a better ally, I'm out of ideas. I'm blue in the face from talking about white privilege to people who simply do not believe in their privilege and who think the people of Ferguson, and all of those other non-white people shot and killed or harassed or otherwise harmed by a system of oppression, should just "get over it". We shouldn't get over it.  We should deal with it, white people.

Anyway, I'm all worked up; verklempt, to borrow a yiddish word.

And that's just the stuff outside of my personal life.

So I need a moment, an interlude, to focus on something positive.  Human rights and human suffering matter. They matter a lot.  But I need to concentrate for a minute on my own mental health before I go on with the fight.  Which means one thing:

Gratutide list.

Just a list of 20 things I'm grateful for today. Hey, it's what I've got.

1. G. En toto. He makes an ordinary day awesome and the bad times bearable.
2. My old cat is still kicking. She's responded well to my adjustments to her medicine and is doing great.
3.  We have a roof over our heads and food in the fridge.
4. Canning.  I do love making jams and jellies.
5. The hot summer is almost over! Bring on the 80 degree days.
6. That means fall is coming.
7. Went to the doctor today. I'm going to live.
8. My asthma isn't terrible. Even with awful wildfires, I've still been able to breathe.
9. I get to walk to work
10. Lunch with G at least once a week.
11. I woke up yesterday. I was going to write more than that, but that'll do.
12.  Yesterday when I woke up, I had a cute little kitty all snuggled up with me with her head on top of my head.  Of course, today when I woke up, she'd turned around and repeated.
13. Air conditioning. We have a little window unit upstairs.
14. Books.  My book order is coming for my fall classes. I can't wait.
15. I was stuck in I-5 traffic around 4:15 today and a nice man let me merge ahead of him.
16. I gave a homeless lady a few dollars today and she called me "sister".  I nodded my head in agreement.
17. Sitting on the front porch and talking while a cool, lazy breeze plays with my hair.
18. Living in a town where it's safe to walk places alone.
19. Good friends to talk to. Old friends and new ones and friends I only know online. Some friends I'm even related to by blood.
20. I'll probably wake up tomorrow, and I probably won't get shot at, and I will probably have clean drinking water. And I will most likely have clean clothes to wear too.
21. Teachers in Ferguson are taking to the streets to help clean up. Community members are feeding the kids who normally get free and reduced lunches. After a night of looting, all seems quiet in Ferguson (as of ten minutes ago, anyway). And G was really nice and gave me over a thousand songs for my phone, so all the way to Seattle and back, I listened to the Rolling Stone's "You Can't Always Get What You Want".

Ok, that's more than 20. I feel better. I'm not letting any of that stuff go, mind you, but I do feel better.  I may have to do this tomorrow too.

I am reminded of a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, called "Arabic Coffee".  I find it comforting, the way she writes and how she makes something outside of my personal experience feel like home. There is comfort there, but also hope. 

Arabic Coffee
It was never too strong for us:
make it blacker, Papa,
thick in the bottom,
tell again how the years will gather
in small white cups,
how luck lives in a spot of grounds.
Leaning over the stove, he let it
boil to the top, and down again.
Two times. No sugar in his pot.
And the place where men and women
break off from one another
was not present in that room.
The hundred disappointments,
fire swallowing olive-wood beads
at the warehouse, and the dreams
tucked like pocket handkerchiefs
into each day, took their places
on the table, near the half-empty
dish of corn. And none was
more important than the others,
and all were guests. When
he carried the tray into the room,
high and balanced in his hands,
it was an offering to all of them,
stay, be seated, follow the talk
wherever it goes. The coffee was
the center of the flower.
Like clothes on a line saying
you will live long enough to wear me,
a motion of faith. There is this,
and there is more.

(from Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, Columbia University Press, 1992)

I'll leave you with that thought tonight... a motion of faith.  I like that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer Adventures

I've been a traveling, working, fruit picking fool of late.
I have so much to catch up on that I'll first write a bit, then just splash in a BUNCH of pictures.

Last weekend (not this last one but the one before) G and I went on one of our hikes.  I'd bought a new book on Pacific Northwest berries and was eager to see what was out there for us to pick and prepare. Canning season is upon us, after all, and even though it's much more common to just buy a jar of jam at the store, I get a kick out of picking and canning my own stuff.  I can also control what goes into it.

I filled a little pack full of tart summer apples and used some mint from my garden to check out one of the recipes. The neat thing about my berry book is that it works in small batches.  A cup of this, a cup of that, and a cup of this makes about a pint of this... that sort of thing. I love the mint apple jelly I made. I'm going to have to make some more.  Oh, don't worry, there's lots of apples out there for the stealing gleaning. 

Fresh Mint

tart summer apples

Not a lot of juice, but they were free..

The ingredients

Ta da!

Last Friday, I went to Leavenworth with my good friend Joy.  I love my women friends! I am lucky to be surrounded by women who support me and who let me support and build them up too.  Anyway, Joy and I went up to Leavenworth and picked blueberries at a small farm called Roots. Nice people. Their son owns J5 Coffee downtown. We got almost 14 lbs before the heat drove us out. Less than 10 miles away is the Carlton Complex fire, so there was a heavy scent of smoke in the air. We still enjoyed ourselves and walked around their flower gardens too.  The owner said that if there was an award for most determined pickers, it would be us! 
Smoke from the Carlton Complex fire

Flower garden

See the bee?

Joy and me!
Those mountains are usually stark and clear

Berry fields

Half the haul

Dem blueberries tho!

That afternoon, I headed for Dayton, Wa to help my sister move. G stayed home because he worked on Friday and because Eleanor is so old and she needs medicines twice daily that we can't easily find a sitter for her.  I know, I know.  But what are you going to do? 

My sister's daughter is 3 now, and really chatting up a storm. She has great manners, saying please and thank you with no reminding.  She goes to daycare where she has learned to count and say ALL of her colors in Spanish.  I am over the moon about it.  I love how she doesn't even really try hard to recall the names. Pretty awesome.

Moving is hot and dusty work. I'm a bit bruised and there may still be an antique bedspring stuck in a spiral staircase. But the rest is moved out. I bet I could've gotten that rail off but it was over 100 degrees and people don't tend to have air conditioning here.

Anyhoo, after the work came the good stuff: visiting. I love visiting my relatives. There are quite a few as my Grandfather's Grandfather, Christopher Marll, homesteaded in Columbia.  Grandpa had 6 siblings and Grandma had 9.  Yeah, lots of relatives.  You have to do a genealogical chart before you get a date in Dayton.  If you're me that is.  Reason 6,748 that I married G. Yes, this reason isn't even in the top 1,000, but I still enjoy it. My aunt and uncle live at my grandparents house now that they have both passed on. They completely remodeled- something that was long overdue.  It looks wonderful and homey and they retained all of the touches that remind any family member who has a memory of before just who lived here and how much love lived and still lives in this place.  Uncle Steve is farming and Aunt Karla is quite busy keeping him in line and keeping them afloat. I saw four different relatives just in a short stop out to their place. Neatest five acres in Columbia County.

My uncle also has this old brown Ford that was my grandpas.  I keep trying to get him to sell it to me and this time we pinky swore that when he was done with it, I could buy the old thing.  Shhhhh!  Don't tell my husband.  That thing guzzles gas.
Wheat for miles. This is during a little storm

Out Patit Road

After the storm

He looks more like my grandpa every time I see him.

As I often do when I'm in Dayton, I snagged my old friend Orinda and we went to coffee.  We went to school together, 6-12 grades, though she's been in Dayton since she was born.  Ori is the heart of the class of 1991.  I think people just sort of fly into town, find Orinda to say hello, and then go about their business.  She's neat, too. One of those people who just makes you feel happy from hanging around them. Like she's made of love and it floats around in a little halo around her head.
We were "dragging the gut" and ran into Del and Krystle Avery. Del went to school with us and he and Krystle got married a few weeks after graduation.  They're a neat, fun couple and have two awesome kids.  Carrie- on the left- is Del's "little sister", and she happened to be visiting from Alaska.  Mini-reunion!

I couldn't leave town without snagging some apples. I can't sleep worth a crap when I'm away from G, and in general I've got some pretty bad insomnia, so after 5 hours of sleep, I got up on Sunday morning and zoomed over to my cousin's house.  With another relative (we're not that stealthy, nor am I unwanted, I just wanted to be considerate) I picked all the good apples I could reach from an old golden delicious and scooped the rest from the lawn into the trash.  My cousin doesn't like doing that part so that's the courtesy I extend for stealing his apples! I sent him a text too, that said 'Please don't shoot me! I'm in your yard picking apples! Let me know when you get up."  I think he got a kick out of that.  But seriously, let country people know it's you before you go fruit picking on their property.  Good advice right there.


Amber waves of grain

I was happy to see everyone and happy to come home to my husband and cat.
He makes me want to sing Pharrells "Happy"

There are wildfires about 15 miles from Ellensburg, and the smoke is faint because the wind is blowing it away from us. For now.  But I still had a happy reunion and was back to work this morning.

This week? Maybe I'll get some blueberry jam made. Maybe a little apple butter, though golden delicious aren't the best for it.  I'll take some pictures for y'all. :)