Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weird Portland Wednesday: A Tiny House Hotel & a Beer Bus

Portland sports the first tiny house hotel?  Of course we do!  The Caravan has six custom-built tiny houses, which according to their website, "...are built on trailers with wheels and range in size from 100-200 square feet. Each has its own unique, creative and artistic features, plus a bathroom with a flush toilet and hot shower, electric heat, and a kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator, hot plate, and all of the basic kitchen and bathroom amenities."

The tiny houses are set in a circle around a communal area that has such things as a barbeque, a firepit, a hammock, chairs.  It is located in the Alberta Arts district and perfect for hitting local pubs and cafes (but why, since you have a kitchen!).  And get there in time to celebrate Last Thursday's Art Walk.

But what would be better for staying at a tiny house than to visit a bus that is now a pub?  The North Portland Bus is a fun idea, right down the road from my house.  A hotel on wheels deserves a pub on wheels.

We are all just doing our part to keep Portland weird.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

All Our Friends

Friends come from different places. 
Back in 1996, an Internet friend said I had a "big back yard."  I love that image, leaning over the fence to chat, commiserate, gossip, vent with all the friends I have all over the world.  That's what the Internet has brought me.  Oh they say that the Internet has brought us new worlds, made the global village much smaller, and introduced us to new wonders, new technology.  And I surely agree.  But friends...that is the greatest thing I take from the Internet.

My introduction to the Internet was in 1994 when I first bought a little computer--a little "pizza box" Mac with a 1200 baud modem.  It came with a disk that introduced me to Delphi, a UNIX-based online chat.  I joined that forum and found it great fun.  Not long after, I joined the "real" internet (Delphi was a closed group, like AOL was) and began chatting on Internet Relay Chat (IRC).  It was there that I found a great group of friends on (channel) #41plus.

Over the next few summers, I drove across the states and met and stayed with many of these people who had become friends. My driving across the country, meeting online friends is how I came to have the nickname "roadbabe."  Over the next 10 years, I would have met face-to-face thousands of #41plus people.  I dated a few.  I even married someone I met online; we just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary.  Many of these wonderful people are still good friends, even though they are often many miles away.

In 1998, I started writing on an online diary site, Open Diary (OD). It was the first interactive diary established on the 'web.  I soon found that the appeal was greater than having a place to post my thoughts, but that I would become friends with many of those who posted comments to the entries.  Again, I traveled and met many of the OD friends; some I would never meet but we stay close and in contact through other social media.

In 2000, I started visiting forums on Delphi Forums, first as a web writer for a beginning website, and later as a social outlet.  I would post to an online tavern and eventually became a "barmaid."  I discovered quilting and began learning different things from a couple of quilting sites.  Again, this became an important aspect of my social interactions.  And again, I have visited some of my Delphi friends, but generally we are online close, only.

A typical Wilma quilt: warm and full of stars
This past week two of my bestest friends on a Delphi Quilting forum have died.  Both deaths were a shock.  I loved them so much and my heart is broken.  I just feel numb, not wanting to do anything.  The loss of these friends is as hard, or even possibly more difficult, as the loss of any close friend.  I say perhaps harder because there is no opportunity to attend their memorial service, share our love and stories.  See, these two women lived thousands of miles from me.  One I had met face-to-face.  We spend two vacations together--one in my state and one in her state.  The other I had never met in person, but we were soul-sisters.

Typical Kathy quilt: bright and fun
One friend had not been online for nearly a month and we on the forum were worried.  Another forum member who lives in the same state drove an hour or so to this woman's house and found mail unopened in the mailbox.  She called the police for help.  They entered the house and found she had passed while in bed.

This is almost unbearably heartbreaking for me, for us, but one thing upsetting my friend who drove and to me, who was calling, writing, emailing, was the police report. "The police were notified by strangers."  Like many, the officer did not understand that we were her family, too.  We knew her better in many ways than her own sister.  We knew she was in trouble because she wasn't in contact with us.  And we were worried enough that someone drove 100 miles in order to check.

I have many many friends--some online, some in town, some out of town.  Some we never get physically together and some we get together in person.  And I love them all.  I know them well.  Face-to-face friends or on Internet friends--it's the same.  Don't let anyone kid's the same.

Take care of yourselves, my friends.

Monday, July 20, 2015

What is Privilege?

Thin Privilege
  I have been thinking a lot about privilege lately.  Who has it.  Who doesn't have it.  What it is actually about.  I have taught Speech Communication for thirty-five years and talked about communication and gender, communication and race, communication and obesity, communication and disabilities.  I have come to understand what is privilege...I thought.  It was all about being white, right?  And male.  White male.

But I recently watched a video that really helped me understand the differences in privilege and what being privileged means.  An eye-opener for this educator.

The concept of privilege refers to any advantage that is unearned, exclusive, and socially conferred. Peggy McIntosh, the associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women and an American feminist and anti-racism activist, coined the term "white privilege" in her essay written in 1988 (White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack).  Since the 90s, the list has grown to include ability, class, education, gender, gender identity, race, sexuality, and religion (MediaSmarts: Forms of Privilege).

It was surprising to me that perhaps my sons--two bright white males--have less privilege than I had growing up, that my view of the world, while struggling financially for many years as a single mother, is mired in that early aspect of my childhood privilege.

Here is the video that caught me up.  The full list of questions is on the bottom of this entry.

  1. If your parents worked nights and weekends to support your family, take one step back.
  2. If you are able to move through the world without fear of sexual assault, take one step forward.
  3. If you can show affection for your romantic partner in public without fear of ridicule or violence, take one step forward.
  4. If you have ever been diagnosed as having a physical or mental illness/disability, take one step back.
  5. If the primary language spoken in your household growing up was not english, take one step back.
  6. If you came from a supportive family environment take one step forward.
  7. If you have ever tried to change your speech or mannerisms to gain credibility, take one step back.
  8. If you can go anywhere in the country, and easily find the kinds of hair products you need and/or cosmetics that match your skin color, take one step forward.
  9. If you were embarrassed about your clothes or house while growing up, take one step back.
  10. If you can make mistakes and not have people attribute your behavior to flaws in your racial/gender group, take one step forward.
  11. If you can legally marry the person you love, regardless of where you live, take one step forward.
  12. If you were born in the United States, take one step forward.
  13. If you or your parents have ever gone through a divorce, take one step back.
  14. If you felt like you had adequate access to healthy food growing up, take one step forward
  15. If you are reasonably sure you would be hired for a job based on your ability and qualifications, take one step forward.
  16. If you would never think twice about calling the police when trouble occurs, take one step forward.
  17. If you can see a doctor whenever you feel the need, take one step forward.
  18. If you feel comfortable being emotionally expressive/open, take one step forward.
  19. If you have ever been the only person of your race/gender/socio-economic status/ sexual orientation in a classroom or workplace setting, please take one step back.
  20. If you took out loans for your education take one step backward.
  21. If you get time off for your religious holidays, take one step forward.
  22. If you had a job during your high school and college years, take one step back.
  23. If you feel comfortable walking home alone at night, take one step forward.
  24. If you have ever traveled outside the United States, take one step forward.
  25. If you have ever felt like there was NOT adequate or accurate representation of your racial group, sexual orientation group, gender group, and/or disability group in the media, take one step back.
  26. If you feel confident that your parents would be able to financially help/support you if you were going through a financial hardship, take one step forward.
  27. If you have ever been bullied or made fun of based on something that you can’t change, take one step back.
  28. If there were more than 50 books in your house growing up, take one step forward.
  29. If you studied the culture or the history of your ancestors in elementary school take one step forward.
  30. If your parents or guardians attended college, take one step forward.
  31. If you ever went on a family vacation, take one step forward.
  32. If you can buy new clothes or go out to dinner when you want to, take one step forward.
  33. If you were ever offered a job because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward.
  34. If one of your parents was ever laid off or unemployed not by choice, take one step back.
  35. If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke or a statement you overheard related to your race, ethnicity, gender, appearance, or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hey Mamaw, They're Singing Your Song!

I used to pick up my grandgirl from preschool when she was just a bitty thing.  On the drive home, we would play games in the car, like "I Spy (with my good eye...)," "I'm thinking of something and it's (color)...," and "Make Up Song Time!"  The song game went like this:

Me: What shall we sing about?"
Kaity: "Trees!"

And I would make up a song about trees.  Or about stop signs.  Or about princesses.  Or about cats.  Or about whatever Kaity wanted.  Usually the new tree song started out with a new tune but eventually all the songs always ended up with the same tune.  We loved it. 

And I would sing other sings, songs my father taught me.  
  • Oh the horses are running around/their feet are on the ground/oh won't you bring my horses back to me-ee.
  • Boom boom ain't it great to be crazy!/Boom boom ain't great to be mad?  Silly and foolish all day long...
  • I went to the animal fair/all the birds and the beasts were there/the big baboon by the light of the moon/was combing his long blond hair...

And commercials.  I'd sing commercials.  Oh heck, I'd sing anything.  There was one commercial so cute, with a white lab puppy singing "There ain't no fleas on me!  There ain't no fleas on me!"  Once the song came on the radio when the family was going somewhere and Kaity turned to me and said, "Hey Mamaw, they're singing your song!"   And I laughed and we started singing along.

The next Christmas, I was taking Kaity to IKEA for lunch before we went Christmas shopping at the Dollar Store.  This was a tradition I had long started: lunch and Christmas shopping.  She had to have four dollars: one for a gift for her mom, her dad, her grandad, and her uncle.  We would spend all afternoon trying to find "just the right present" with her dollars.  On the way, I started singing Christmas carols and Christmas songs along with the radio.  Kaity said, "We learned one of your songs in Sunday School."  "Really?  Which one?"  "The one on the radio right now.  How did they know your song?  Did you teach them your song?"  And I realized Kaity thought I made up all the songs we sang.  I definitely slid down a peg or two when I explained they weren't songs I made up, but songs others made.  It shattered her image of me...and brought on a bit of lost innocence.

I was reminded of this story today when my good friend came to visit for the night.  She has loved many of the quilts I have made and displayed online over the years, a pleased owner of a challenging wallhanging.  So I got out a couple of quilt patterns I had recently completed or just started, one I will start this weekend.  And she was surprised I had patterns.  "You mean you don't make up how the quilt will look yourself?"  "No, not usually.  I need someone to tell me how many inches this needs to be or that needs to be so I can get things in proportion."  "So did you make up the cats you made for me?"  "No, that was a pattern.  It was probably the most challenging applique I have ever done.  I needed a picture."  "Ohhh...," she said with disappointment.

Here's a few of the quilt tops I have completed that have shattered her illusion of my (now seen as limited) creativity.

This one was a bit challenging at first.  I had to cut the background block 30 degrees lengthwise, sew on a strip, sew on the second half of the block.  Then from the other side, cut the block 30 degrees, remove one and a half inches, and sew on the second strip.  Once I got the hang of it, it was quick and easy.  But without a pattern... hahaha!

The second pattern I showed her I had just begun sewing that morning while my friends were sleeping.  I completed it after they left for the Oregon coast and it is now joined 10 others in the Quilts-in-Waiting section of the house (waiting for the big beautiful quilting machine!).  It was a simple simple pattern, but I needed to have the dimensions of the flying geese before I could cut out and make them.  The pattern provided me with those.

I hate shattering her illusions...I hate be the cause for her to lose some of that innocence.  But...there ain't no fleas on me!  Might be bugs on some of you mugs, but there ain't no fleas on me!


Sunday, July 12, 2015

I Haven't Paid Much Attention

I haven't paid much attention to cancers other than those that somehow touch me--breast cancer, melanoma, uterine cancer, leukemia, prostrate cancer.  I don't know much about the other types of cancer, just as I didn't know much about the ones that are part of my life or of my family.  But today I received news that a dear friend has been diagnosed with lymphoma, with no treatment options.  Today I learned a great deal about lymphoma.

I want to DO something.  I want to save her and the world of cancer--any cancer.  I want to send her flowers and happy baby quilts and loving words.  I want to sit by her bedside and sing soft songs.  I want to save her and save me.  I'm not ready to lose my friend.

Lymphoma is a cancer of a part of the immune system called the lymph system. There are many types of lymphoma. One type is Hodgkins disease. The rest are called non-Hodgkin lymphomas.  Hodgkins disease is the most curable.  If caught early enough, many non-Hodgkins are curable.

I have nothing to say, just damn damn damn.