Category Archives: Misc.

How to survive in intersectional feminist spaces 101

So I generally don’t re-blog a lof stuff (I think this is the second time I’ve done it), it just isn’t a habit I’m in. I do it now because this is just so important, and this blog post is so well-written, and it isn’t something that I can easily summarize in my own words in any way that’s nearly as effective as you just reading this. Please, please read it.

Believe me, I know, it can feel hard sometimes to be white and read things about racism. I’m a fat woman, and now I’m disabled. Feminism has always made a lot of sense to me. Being an ally to non-straight has also always felt natural, and wasn’t challenging.

Race was harder. In college, when I was first introduced to different ways of looking at racism – hey let me just rephrase that – when I was first introduced to LOOKING AT RACISM, I mean, really looking: it was hard. I had a lot of feelings at first. Defensive, mostly. “But I’m not like THAT!” I was very invested in seeing myself in a certain light, and any challenge to that just felt insulting rather than educational.

I kept with it, though, and the reward was learning to see through others’ eyes, and realizing that the more I learned, and the more I spoke about it, the better off I was making the lives of people of color – the very people I always said I cared about but to whose experience I was essentially blind. Conversely, the more we don’t look at the things that make us squirm or feel touchy, the more we can trust that their experience is going to be lost and invalidated.

Decide that today you’ll spend five minutes reading something that might make you feel a little touchy. Try to open your heart and your mind, try to make it not about you. Read this.

CrossKnit

I wrote this for a specific group, but I’ve been asked to share it. A lot of folks are just waking up to activism and are heading into intersectional feminist spaces with some trepidation. Hopefully this can help keep you on track. I’ve already been reminded that I missed code-switching, appropriation (which is a whole post, frankly, but TL;dr if a living group exists that can be mocked for the thing you think is cool and that you want to do, don’t), and a few other things. I’ll try to pick those up at a later date, but in the meantime this primer will help you get your feet wet without making a damn fool of yourself. Much. It’s all lessons I learned the hard way, so do better than me and remember we’re all works in progress.)

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Time to make the blog pretty.

In my last post I talked about moving my blog to a self-hosted WordPress installation on my own server. I changed my mind! This morning I crunched some numbers, did math of money, time, and spoons, considered how much stress I wanted to put myself under when I’m often very tired and in pain, and decided it was very worth it to stick with keeping my blog on WordPress.com and letting them take care of all the niggly details.

Now it’s down to blog design. I’m going through the theme library, trying out different things. Until I’m done, the blog might appear weird, or broken. It shouldn’t stay that way. I ought to have this finished in the next few days. I’m very motivated.

Until then, enjoy Han Solo Season. Sew all the things, quilt all the things, make music on whatever you can find, and go drink a soy pumpkin spice latte, because damn those things are heaven.

 

 

Thursday update: a kitchen might be forthcoming

Kitchen Katastrophe 2016, the going-on-week-seven aftermath of a burst water hose, is finally on its way toward healing. We have a contractor, which means we finally have one person coordinating all the work. Today the walls were finished being plastered, and next comes the paint. Following that, the tile backsplash, and then the cabinet and sink-reinstalled, and then the flooring, and then the fridge and oven can come back in, and then I sit on the floor and cry tears of relief, and swear that I will never, ever, take a kitchen for granted again. Nor fill one with water.

paint sample

This is the palette of colors from Sherwin-Williams that I picked out. It’s called Color Pizazz. The idea is that every color works with every other color, so you don’t end up standing in your house gazing in horror, the realization slowly dawning that your living room doesn’t go with your kitchen. Or something.

I joke, but it’s true that it can really make a house feel “off” if the colors don’t work well. Putting color together is a huge challenge for me. I know how the end result makes me feel, so the ability to juxtapose color is one that I recognize and appreciate, but I don’t have it. I’m terrible at seeing the forest for the trees. I tend to fall in love with one color, and then I just monochrome the heck out of it, because pairing it with anything else causes me mild panic. Does it go? Does it not go? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. I’ve worked with a color wheel, I spin yarn, I knit, I draw a little, I know what the colors are supposed to do. I just can’t seem to get them to do what I want. I follow the rules, I break the rules, it doesn’t matter what I do; it all looks wrong. On my bucket list, I have simply: “Figure out color.”

For now, Sherwin-Williams and their color artists are helping. But the reason that paint palette is on the porch, and the reason the mug Greg made me seventeen years ago is upside down, is that I decided to start a truce with spiders. The truce goes like this: If you promise not to kill me, I promise to try and save you when I can. Sitting at my desk yesterday, a gargantuan spider crawled out of a stack of books, along a wall. My first thought was, “Australia. It’s like I’m living in Australia.”

But I didn’t scream, and I didn’t crush it against the wall. I did the cup trick. I dumped all the pens out of my mug, whacked the mug (carefully!) over the demon spider, and put the paint sample brochure under him, and put him out on the porch and set him free. Before I did, I got the camera ready, because I was sure it would be the biggest spider I had ever photographed, and I wanted to impress Greg and Jason, who have remarked before that they know there is a spider nearby by the pitch and intonation of the way I yell, “HEY!! YOU GUYS?! CAN YOU COME IN HERE?!”

spider small

 

Okay, I know he doesn’t look that big, but if you zoom in, you can see that it HAS HAIR:

spider big

 

I’m sorry but anything that is both BUG and in possession of the ability to BENEFIT FROM STYLING GEL is not something with which I want to be friends. And yet, I can’t seem to bring myself to kill them anymore. I’d rather let the spiders eat the insects I don’t like in relative peace, and whatever happiness spiders are capable of sussing out for themselves. This is a big life change for me. And the spiders.

Bicycling is still going well! My mileage is very low, but that’s okay. Fibro means I’m working up slowly. And my knees aren’t hurting anymore. My friend Elaine, also a Brompton rider, suggested I lift the seat up a little. I know that most people usually ride with their seats way too low, and I’ve been so careful with this, but her description of how she knows when her seat height was right did make me think that mine might still be too low. So I moved it up just a half inch, and that seems to have made a big difference.

Beth is now riding her bike to school sometimes, with her best friend, who lives a few blocks away. I like to ride Beth to her friend’s house, and send them off with warnings about walking across the busy street and being careful of cars, etc.

bikes

 

In other news, I’m trying to learn Norwegian using Duolingo. More on that later. But for now: Duolingo is a real hardass.

jenta

High winds, kitchen disaster: the universe wanted us to stay home last weekend

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know about the windstorm we had last weekend. Great big gusts tore through the area, knocking down trees, blowing over trash cans.

My friend Barb posted this hilarious photo to her Facebook page (and kindly gave me permission to share it here):

_2__Barbara_Martin

 

Meanwhile, people riding the ferries through the San Juan Islands ended up motoring through rolling, galumph-y swells that slid aboard to taste the cars (the good action starts at 2:50):

 

 

We had written to Dave to say that we were going to come no matter the weather, and just hole up in Everett for the night. Dave wrote back that, as a sailor, the worst thing is to let your trips get decided by a schedule rather than the weather. Wise words! When the weather  changed from an advisory for 20-knot winds to YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE (just kidding – but it was pretty dramatic), I decided we ought to heed his warning and go the next weekend. Everyone was so relieved.

It ended up being the right decision, not only because of the weather. On Friday night, it rained in our basement. We’d had some mysterious water appearing on the floor in front of the dishwasher. Mysterious water appearance should always be a concern, but we didn’t worry too much because a) we have a 10-week-old puppy who is leaving a lot of puddles, and b) the dishwasher has a tendency to leak.

But that night I was standing on the floor where the water had been, and realized the water was oozing out of the floor. Okay, now that can’t be good. I drew up a mental map of the bottom floor of the house, trying to pinpoint where that spot was in the floor below us. I walked downstairs and found my way into our dark storage room in the basement. I could hear dripping….uh oh. I reached into the darkness, fumbled for the switch, and flipped on the light. Water was dripping out of the ceiling from a few dozen places. I couldn’t immediately see a source. It was just….everywhere. Puddles shined up at me. Cardboard boxes sagged, soaked and bent over in pitiful defeat.

I leaned out of the doorway, and yelled up the stairs, “Uh, GUYS? WE HAVE A PROBLEM.”

Greg and Jason came running. And so it began. The Wettening, 2016. Did you know that an emergency plumber costs $100 just to show up at your door on a Friday night at 10:47pm, before he even sees the problem? Now you do.

Two long hours later, the source of the leak had been found. The culprit was a small, unassuming hose that connected the house’s water supply to the fridge.

Begin Refrigerator Water Rant:

You know, I’ve never thought that was a good idea. Why do we need to get water from a fridge? Why can’t we get it from the faucet, as nature intended? It’s true, some cities have questionable water supplies, and I don’t fault anyone in those areas for doing whatever it takes to get clean water. But Seattle has water born of snow-covered mountains and crystal clear glaciers. There’s no reason to have a water pipe hooked up to your fridge, to be pushed through a $25 plastic filter that is just filtering clean water and will end up wearing out and in a landfill in four months (to slowly break down over hundreds of years, ironically poisoning the water supply belonging to a dozen generations hence), so you can, what, not stand at the sink? How hard is it to stand at the sink?

My kids are like, “But Mom, it’s cold when it comes out of the fridge.”

“Hey you know what else makes cold water magically appear? Turning the faucet that says C on it!”

I know what you’re going to say. One needs ice cubes. You know what they had when I was a kid? Ice cube trays. And nobody died. The unassuming, ever-faithful ice cube tray has been responsible for flooding approximately no basements ever.

END RANT.
Sort of. (You can still hear the ranting if you read carefully).

Our plumber’s head and torso come out from underneath the sink. “Yep, that’s it,” he says. “I’ve turned it off.”

We all breathe a sigh of relief. One of the guys say, “How much will that cost to fix?”

“About a thousand dollars.”

“Wait,” I say. Surely he’s messing with us. “A thousand dollars to fix this whole thing?”

“No, I mean a thousand dollars to replace the tube that goes to your refrigerator.”

My jaw hits the floor. I shoot a look to the guys, that says, JUST GET OVER YOUR LOVE OF THE ICE MAKER RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE NO WAY ARE WE PAYING THAT.

Jason shoots me a pitiful look. BUT…..ICE! it says.

I look back. NO.

awesome

Even if you have Awesome, it won’t do you any good.

If only that thousand dollars was the worst of it. We are then informed that we no longer need our plumber, we need an ominous sounding thing called Fire and Flood Remediation Services. He hands us a pamphlet. “You need to call them right now,” he says,  more urgently than I’m entirely comfortable with. He gets ready to go. It’s late, and he has to drive back to Auburn. I give him a couple of lemon flavored Luna bars. “Thanks, I love these!” he says.

The next day, we meet our flood guys. They rip up the kitchen floor, a fascinating illustration of what we like to call, The Curse of the Browns. “The Browns” refers to the people who lived here before we did. Brown is not their real name.

In the five years we’ve since we’ve owned this house, we’ve repeatedly run into problems where the Browns repaired something, or built something, or un-built something, and did it as cheaply as possible. The neighbors like to tell of this one time, when Mr. Brown, the patriarch of the family, needed to put up a wall. Instead of hiring a contractor, he went to Home Depot and hired a few of the guys who stand around in the parking lot. Apparently one of them had a chicken with him. While these guys were off building the wall, the chicken got loose from the back of a truck, and everyone came out of the house and chased it up and down the street for two hours.

The neighbor who tells me this story is laughing. “Isn’t that funny?! A chicken!”

“WHICH WALL?” is all I want to know.

This has left us, the hapless new owners, to re-do it correctly when it inevitably breaks. See also: that time we had to replace one whole rotting corner of the house ($$$), or that time we had to re-do a bunch of wiring because otherwise the house would have burned down ($$$), or that time we had to re-level the deck because they didn’t build it right and water was pooling and running into the house (causing that rotted corner) ($$$), or the time we got new siding and discovered that there were seven (seven!) different types of siding on the house, and much of it covered areas that weren’t insulated ($$$), or the time they installed the sink disposal wrong and it broke and drained water all over the floor ($$).

And now we can add:

….that time they didn’t use the right size or fitting of hose for the water-to-fridge connection, and it began a slow leak that will cause us as-yet-unknown amounts of $’s.

After the flood guys ripped up part of the kitchen floor, we can add:

….that time they remodeled the kitchen, but instead of taking out the old flooring, they just built over it, so that when we had to rip out the flooring, we discovered that under our Pergo floors was:

  • a layer of plywood
  • a layer of linoleum
  • another layer of plywood
  • another layer of linoleum (this layer has tested positive for asbestos!)
  • the original wood floors

kitchen_floor

Goodbye, Pergo! Hello….asbestos.

Jason says, “I’m pretty sure I’ve lived in another house with this hideous linoleum. It’s following me.”

I tell him, “It looks like the kind of thing that would haunt someone.”

You want to know something, though? I still love this house. I love this house. It’s a hundred years old, it holds all seven of us (my mom and stepdad live in the mil apartment, and Greg, Jason, and the kids and I all live above on the top two floors). It keeps us warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and it makes a great house to entertain out of. It’s not its fault that it had to put up with the Browns for so long. When we all moved in, I named the house “Seven’s Rest”. Now I’ve joked I’m renaming it, “Brown’s Bane”.

The situation gets laid out for us. The simplified version goes like this:

  1. The plumber stopped the leak.
  2. The fire and flood guys will dry out everything that’s wet (so we can avoid black mold). This means we have fans running 24/7. It sounds like a plane is perpetually charging the runway. It’s really great for your sanity.
  3. The demolition guys will come and rip out our sink, dishwasher, countertops and cabinets along the wall where the water was leaking.
  4. The asbestos company will come rip out the remaining flooring.
  5. The fire and flood guys will come back and make sure everything is dry.
  6. We hire a construction company to put all of this back together, after everyone else leaves and the gaping bald crater that used to be our kitchen is now dry and ready to be built back up again.

We don’t know how long this will take. Thankfully, my parents have a working kitchen down in their MIL apartment, so my mom is cooking us meals and forcing me to eat vegetables. It’s just like the old days. I mean, THANKS, MOM! I love them so much. They help out with things all the time, and this is just the latest.

me-elskaThere was a silver lining to the weekend, though. Even though we didn’t get to bring Elska home (yep, I’m naming her Elska – it’s Icelandic for “love”), we did get to drive up Saturday, meet Dave and Sherrie, and sign over the boat to us. So, she’s officially ours! We brought up a lot of the equipment we were going to sail with, so we got to hang out on board for awhile and put everything away, and get used to her. Oh, heaven. I love this boat!

quilt

My sleeping bag fits great, there is plenty of room to stretch out and sleep! If I scooched over, Greg could sleep there too, although he thinks he’ll prefer the coffin quarter berth. I love that quilt! Greg’s mom, Julie, made us that when the kids were little. It’s an easy quilt, compared to the gorgeous masterpieces that she’s sewn. She said it was meant to be used as an everyday utility quilt – hey, a utiliquilt! It was supposed to be one that we could put on the grass, step on, get baby spit-up on, throw in the wash over and over. Now that the kids are older, I’m moving it to the boat, where it can be a comforting reminder of home, and add some color to the green and brown interior.

 

table

Charts are ready to go! I have Navionics on the iPad, then two copies of paper charts, and a handheld GPS. We won’t be getting lost.

 

elska

That’s my girl! Twenty feet of spunk and charm.

This weekend, we finally get to sail her down. My aunt and uncle, who have offshore sailing experience and have been sailing for years and years, will be coming with us. My aunt reports that my Uncle Mark gets up “really early”, so we’re thinking if we leave at the crack of dawn we might not even need to sleep over in Everett. Fingers crossed we don’t have another storm. Or another flood.