Tuesday, November 25, 2014

trying to make sense of it

Yesterday I went on a school field trip to Jamestown. Our tour guide took us to the boats first. If you have never been to Jamestown Virginia there are three outdoor exhibits: reconstructions of the English ships: The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery; the settlement or fort where one finds the Governor's house, the church, a storage building and other buildings to depict life in early Jamestown; and the Powhatan village. (If you haven't been, look it up. It is worth a visit.)

Our class went first to the ships where we boarded the Susan Constant. We went bellow deck and while there thought about living in these quarters with many other people for approximately 3 months was it? without showers, with little food, with chamber pots for toilets... and most of us agreed we must be very desperate indeed to consider such a journey.

And yet I thought to myself, people stow away every day to reach the shores of this great nation believing it to be a better place than the country they were born in.

That day I held hands with a 9 or 10 year old young man. He gets in trouble a lot at school and I see in him my son. They are both smart, easily distracted, impulsive with difficulty keeping their hands to themselves. At some point I had my hand around his shoulder to help him stand still and he realized the sweater I was wearing was soft, and he snuggled in. For the next hour we were buddies.

Later in the evening the news reported that the Grand Jury would not indict the officer in Ferguson. And riots started. And the news reported that the National Guard was called into other cities around the nation as well.

I thought about that young man I'd held hands with earlier in the day, who is a black boy. And how will people look at him in eight years when he is 18 and tall and still struggling to grow up. How will he look at me?

And I thought about those people who stow away believing that this country offers them a chance that they will not be offered in the country they were born into.

And I thought about all those people who were born here in this country and who feel that it does not offer them the same opportunities that it offers me. This isn't about glass ceilings. This is about safety. This is about mother's who fear for their sons and daughters. If not here where? If not here in the land of promise where does a mother go to raise her son in safety?

A man named Tony wrote this:

I WISH we could have an honest conversation about race relations in America.
I WISH that people would not be offended by the phrase "white privilege" and just be cognizant of the systematic social, political, and economic advantages inherent in being part of the majority.
I WISH that we as a nation were more educated and would accept that "race is a social construct designed to fulfill one purpose. racism."
I WISH that we would stop assuming that the color/hue of anyone's skin correlates to their work ethic, integrity, intelligence, or natural aptitude.
I WISH that we could put down our guards and try to truly understand each other's experiences and how that affects our world views.
I WISH I could walk into interviews, classrooms, and department stores and not worry about being stereotyped and judged before I have the chance to speak.
I WISH that my white friends would stop trying to point out how articulate President Obama or some other notable Black American (as if he is the exception) merely in an attempt to not seem racist, ( I know your heart and that you mean well).
I WISH that all of us, as Americans, would realize that the protests over the KILLING of black youths like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Jordan Davis is NOT because Officer Darren Wilson or the other shooters are overtly and explicitly racist. The public outcry is because there is a predisposition (that has existed for over 300 years) in all of America that Black Americans are inherently more dangerous and more violent. We as black Americans, are NOT given the benefit of the doubt, and in life or death situations it means that we have been and will continue to be killed.
I WISH we truly could be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.
I WISH we could embrace each other as humans and see value in each other because we are all part of the Human Race.
I WISH.

I do not know him and I have shared it with out his permission so I use only his first name here. But I share this because I feel that sometimes we, we white people, just need to shut up and listen.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ferguson -

I don't remember which state exactly I was driving across when I saw through someone's Facebook post that Michael Brown had been shot to death. And I wondered how and why and why it was a national thing. And couldn't help but think about the man who was choked to death in NYC just a week, a few weeks before? And I did wonder how was it that this man had been in a place that ended in him being shot, to death. Because in my nice middle class white world, you don't get shot by police officers without reason. Right?

And in between driving 7 or 8 hours a day and tucking small people into beds in hotel rooms and then getting back up and driving some more so I could go on even more vacation, I would catch glimpses of reactions on social media. And amongst my friends, those glimpses of reactions were limited to pretty much only the black women I know on Facebook.

And I stayed out of it.

Because I haven't watched the news in a month and I have only read the news as it pertains to work and I don't know what is actually being reported about this.

But my heart is sick.

Because I know of several little boys but there is this one in particular. I've only just started to get to know his mother. And I've only had one conversation with his father. His dad is a big black man. Quiet spoken and very well educated. His mother is has only once said in a forum I am might be in something like "another black man in the news, I'm turning on the tv to see if I can catch a glimpse of our president tonight, please no Obama haters. I just need some hope for my son."
It was that plea that really caught me.

I cannot imagine not having hope for my son because of his color.

And then a woman I know, a former classmate and now an educator posted on Facebook an article about talking about what is happening in Ferguson in school:

5 Ways to Teach About Michael Brown and Ferguson in the New School Year

by Christopher Emdin published in the Huffington Post

And I was horrified. My kids are blissfully unaware that a man was shot to death and that there are protests, and the protests have led to some looting (I think) and I saw somewhere the National Guard was called in...

I said as much. My classmate called me out. White Mom privilege. As in, if you were the black mother of 3 sons you'd be having conversations with them about this. Would I? I don't know. I am not a black mother with 3 black sons. But I hear the implied, if you were you wouldn't have a choice. 

This morning she posted an article again published by the Huffington Post "White Mom Privilege" which articulates much of what I am thinking and feeling. But there was a different one that caught my eye Dear White Moms by Keesha Beckford. And in this post she brings up that small innocuous thing I mentioned before, few if any of my white friends and connections are discussing this. It is like the elephant in the room, nobody knows what to say so they are just ignoring it. And that hurts. And it doesn't do anything.

Apparently there was a shooting in 2001 in Cincinnati and Timothy Thomas was shot dead. (I don't remember it. 2001 was a blur of small children and traveling husband.) Cincinnati.com ran an article:  Could Ferguson happen here... again? 

what I see when I read the article is what Cincinnati did: "Cincinnati's riots gave birth to the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement, widely viewed as one of the most innovative plans ever designed to improve police-community relations."

While I expect discussion and change is ongoing - this gives me some hope, and possibly some direction. And asks the question, what lessons can the rest of us learn from the Collaborative that will help us circumvent these tragedies? How do communities outside of Cincinnati learn more about the collaborative and what has come of it? 








Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Huckleberry Season

It is Huckleberry Season in Govy. The kids have been picking the berries almost since we've arrived but it seems like in the last week the bushes have really peaked and there are ripe Huckleberries everywhere you go. Berry picking has become one of our main activities.  And we've been baking with them. I made a blueberry/huckleberry pie, a huckleberry pie, banana huckleberry muffins, and yesterday plain huckleberry muffins.

Funny, the dogs like huckleberries. One of the kids put their little plastic container of berries down while picking and Thalia stuck her nose in and took a mouthful. Kahn Sol literally begs the entire time we are picking until he gets fed up with begging and tried to pull them off the bush himself. This is a lot of work for him, working only with his mouth, and is amusing to watch. I have discouraged the kids from giving the dogs too many berries, I am not up for any misadventures with canine digestion, but the berries they've had don't seem to bother the dogs one bit.

KahnSol picking berries 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Painting, with kids & dogs


summer!
I finally went out and bought some acrylic paint, some brushes and some paper.
I don't love acrylics, but they are the "fastest" and that makes them easiest to work with right now.
And so I've painted three different pieces, keeping the focus just on 'doing' it - and trying not to expect too much or to be too critical.
And it has been nice to paint again.
The other day I took the two littles and the dogs and we found a spot along the "crosstown trail" I think it is called. Just a mostly flat trail from one side of Govy to the other.
There was a pretty waterfall and I wanted to paint there. As it is close to town and easy there is a moderate amount of traffic.

I parked myself on the little bridge in front of this little bit of water, the kids were told to play where they could see me and the dogs milled about. That worked for a while, but there is traffic. With my focus on painting and the noise from the water I didn't hear approaching people or dogs in time and Thalia would bark and run with Khan Sol right in there with her.

So I pulled out leashes and had tied them up next to me and told them to down.

Thalia, my German Shepherd, played the role of the troll  from "The Billy Goats Gruff." And while it is a wide enough bridge she barked every time any one came near. Twice she sat on my painting. In the fuss I lost a paint brush (I just bought them!) over the bridge and down the little stream.  The bridges are build so that the middle part is solid and the sides are slated. We were on the slats. Kahn Sol would stand up to bark and his feet would slip through slats and he'd get all excited. I was sure I'd loose paint tube through a slat but didn't. Once Kahn Sol  got so wound up about these bridge intruders he fell off the bridge (on leash) and I had to haul him back up by his collar.  t feel clips of this expedition should have been on video.

started sketching in bits and pieces and the dog sat on it!


We will seek less populated spots for further paintings.

it is a lovely little spot



there it is:
"Waterfall"
with a story behind it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hidden Lake

We have taken a few hikes in between ski camps.

I saw the trail head for "hidden lake" one day when we were headed to Little Zig Zag falls (not really a hike, a lovely little walk along a beautiful bit of small falls.) and so one day we headed over to try the hidden lake trail. You take 26, to the Kiwanis Camp turn off (road 39) and you'll see it on the right.

I don't know why I love these signs.
Mt. Hood Wilderness, Mt. Hood National Forest
I think this trail is rated as moderately strenuous. The beginning is not bad, zig zags up but shaded and pleasant. We crossed the water, found the hidden lake, and kept going. Then it got a bit steep.

overlook

It is an interesting trail because the vegetation changes so much. And because you really are quite high. Near the lake we are pretty sure we saw a bear track in the mud, which was a first for us!



found the lake!
the mossy ground in the area around the lake was spongy, like one of those special floors for gymnasts. I was a little worried about what was underneath it as it gave to the weight of ones footsteps.


the water crossing areas were a bit tough on the younger ones. Their legs aren't long enough to reach from one "safe" spot to the next. We got them across okay, but coming back I had picked up Little Hawk to pass him to my oldest on the other bank and I misstepped. I fell into the stream and so did he. He was surprised and shaken up a bit, the water is very cold, but he was alright. I split my shin which wasn't very comfortable but it was a minor thing. Something to think about if one is out on their own with smaller sized people.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pfriem Family Brewers, Hood River

For reasons I don't understand the MacBook Air and the Collins Lake WiFi aren't speaking to each other. My last few posts were managed via the husband's computer. Alas this morning I dropped him off at the Portland Airport to head back East- to work and to family obligations there. I miss him already and I miss access to his computer!
So- I'm trying to do this from my phone!

Last night we drove to Hood River. This confuses me because when we got there Tim said the river separating Oregon and Washington wasn't the Hood River it was the Columbia River. Ummm, so why is the town called Hood River? Don't know.

We tried to find a place called Turtle Island, said to have good vegan/vegetarian food. Wasn't where four square said it was. So we looked at some other places and decide to try Pfriem Family Brewers.
And now we are big fans:

We had the Moroccan Stew and the Veggie Burger. Both were awesome. The veggie burger tastes house made and is hands down the best I've ever had. The Morrocan Stew came in a ceramic dish, piping hot, with a very interesting taste and texture. Also very good. Prior to dinner we tried their pickle plate: pickled beans, maybe pickled fennel? and pickles. Thumbs up. We also had an order of olives, very nice! and house made french fries.

The vibe is casual, people come in off the river to eat, and family friendly, there is even a kids play corner for wiggle preschoolers.
And of course beer.


Tim and the girls

me and the boys

Tim has a friend who wants to open a brew pub in Williamsburg. So I took some extra shots of the inside of Pfriem Family Brewers because it does look and feel like a great pub.






they are just phone snap shots, nothing fancy, but you get the feeling. An interesting mix of industrial, with the pipes showing, the vats for the beer, but all the "reclaimed" looking wood keeps it feeling warm. Very well done interior.

so the bin needs to emptied, but that has to be the cutest little baby station I've ever seen

so family friendly!



Saturday, July 12, 2014

The kids' thoughts on Volkl Slalom Demos

Yesterday I took the racers up to the glacier with Volkl Slalom Skis.

Their comments:
I asked 4 questions:
"rate how they turn"
"rate how you feel about the weight of the ski"
"do they feel fast"
"are they easy to control"
they could either answer or give me a number, 0= burn them; 10=I never want to try another ski

K is a U18 female about 5'5 maybe 100lbs, I am not sure on the weight.

regarding how they turn: K gave them a 7-8
weight "yeah, they are nice and light, 7-8"
feel fast? "well I was on slush today but I think they feel fast. I didn't feel pulled down the hill by them, they are light."
easy to control? Um, yeah.

K isn't into having me ask her for her comments and she isn't into demoing SL skis right now. She likes the ones she has, and she is focused on finding GS skis.

Tiger is a U14 male, like K he is a light weight. I think he tips the scale around 85 lbs.
He skied 145 Volkl Slalom skis
"rate how they turn" 9
"rate the weight" 10
"feel fast?" 10
"easy to control?" 10
me: Wow! You really like Volkl!
Tiger: I like THOSE skis. Last year I demoed SL skis and they didn't feel any different than what I already had. After trying these skis I never want to go back to my old skis. I really like these skis.

Dragon is a U14 male. Unlike his siblings he is a giant. He is about 5'7" and around 115lbs. The Volkl guys didn't have Jr skis in his size so he was on adult skis, he skied on 157s.
"rate how they turn" 8
"like the weight" ummm a 7
"feel fast" 7
"easy to control" 9
comments: overall I like these skis. I really like Volkl in general.

MLyons is a U10 female. I've no idea how big or small she is! She skied on 131s.
before I could ask she said "10!"
me: You love 'em?
Mlyons: Yup! Just like my Bombers (GS) these are perfect for my size, perfect for my weight, perfect for my speed, They go really fast if they are on good snow.

We ski in SARA, not as competitive a region as some of the other regions, the kids find the podium  regularly in our region.

P.S. Tiger got his Volkl skis.
Happy Kid, New Skis