One of the things I enjoy the most is shopping for fabric. Very early on a Saturday morning I head out to the downtown Fashion District long before the throngs of people arrive. My favorite place to shop a shabby little spot with very unimpressive store front. Inside you will find a large battered desk and an old rusty register in the corner but the rest of the space filled from floor to ceiling with hundreds of bolts of fabric. Every possible texture, weight, pattern and print imaginable can be found there. The rolls are so tightly packed so that you only catch a glimpse of the patterns. When you find one that intrigues you have to fight to pull it out. The most rewarding part though is when you unfurl it to reveal it’s secrets.
To say that we are not affected by the energy around us would be naive. It is like being in a sealed room where a poisonous gas is being released very slowly. Eventually we shall all succumb. The events in Charlottesville this past weekend are disheartening. That a group of people would gather and march in the name of hate in this day and age is chilling. Though countering hate with violence is clearly not the answer, let us not let our silence condone this cancer.
Some of the best times in primary school were spent on the playground. The sweetest of those was when the last bell rang and we ran out to the front of the building where we would frolic until our parents picked us up. The only thing that dampened our time was being under the supervision of one woman. Most impressive of which was not her size or her booming voice when she yelled across the compound, it was her face. She had this permanent menacing scowl and it terrified us. From where she sat, she could see every corner. We did our best to keep a clear perimeter around her. It was only during a pleasant interaction a few months before I headed of to high school that I realized that that was just her face.
I can’t imagine my life without spice and I have a man I never met to thank for that. After returning home from a university residency in the UK my father stocked our pantry with every spice you could think of. He had the good fortune to have a roommate from India who was an incredible cook and taught him how to make curries. My father has always been a great cook and but this took his cooking to a whole new level. What is life without spice?
When first moved to the Midwest I heard about these things, phenomenon known as tornadoes. I had only watched the wizard of Oz a few dozen times back in Kenya so I thought only wicked witches need be concerned about them. Actually living in tornado territory was a very different experience. At first early summer drills, siren checks and actual tornadoes were terrifying. Then it dawned on me that they had been dealing with them for years. Tracking, warning, sheltering, damage control and recovery was now an art form. That once they decided this was their home they dealt with them. I think of life the same way. We have no control over disasters but somehow we can learn to deal them. Even though they may be unpredictable, we can develop a strategy to limit the negative impact and channel it into meaning change. Maybe then we won’t be so terrified of the unknown.
This past year I have had an over scheduled existence. In my quest to be independent I took on more responsibility that I could handle and as a result took on a ridiculous amount of work and projects. I had always wanted to live close to the beach and even though I now did, I had yet to set one foot in that sand. That is until yesterday when a surprise visit from a friend I had not seen in awhile had us out and about. As we ambled along the broad-walk catching up and enjoying the cool evening breeze I wished that it hadn’t taken me so long to do so.
Taking your dreams and passions as her own. Rejoicing with you in every success and mourning every failure. Holding up your heavy head, pushing you forward step by step. Offering her hand to crash as you labor in pain and grit your teeth in frustration. Gently wiping your brow when it is done. Staying close by but in the shadows when on you the spotlight shines.
When I was young I remember asking my grandmother why she was chewing on a stick. She explained to me that nature had given us this chewing stick to clean our teeth. This stick is known as Mswaki in Swahili. To this very day many people especially in the rural areas still prefer it over toothbrushes. They cut twigs from a shrub that usually grows in the wild. Chewing on these twigs releases juices that are believed to contain a natural antibacterial mouth wash and if swallowed can also aid in digestion. With all these qualities I now understand why the idea of buying a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouth wash must have sounded ridiculous to my grandmother.