Pandemic Artifacts – Part II (of III)

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Pandemic Artifacts – Part I (of III)

Part II:

Community: Neighbors, neighborhood, rainbows, household helpers, tools, the murder of George Floyd and ensuing protests.

By the second third of the pandemic timeline, community became more important and more visible, sometimes as basic as are my neighbors wearing masks/having parties but beyond that as well.

There was more waving at each other as more people were home during the day. There were phone calls from my parish checking on our needs. The same from the kids’ schools about school meals and available wifi. Our area, and many others put rainbows up in their windows or on their lawns to be instagrammed or facebooked with area code rainbow hashtags, like a mini-scavenger hunt (hello GISH). One family in the neighborhood bought prisms and left them out, socially distanced for neighbors walking by to help themselves to. I sat outside in the front of my house reading, meditating, praying, watching the local world go by. I heard kids in strollers, on bikes, and nearby church bells ringing.

After the murder of George Floyd, I saw one or two Black Lives Matter signs in my very white, seemingly unaffected area, although it made me realize that no one is, nor should be, unaffected by the murder of a Black man by the police. The quarantine and lockdown enabled many to protest, and despite right wing complaints about social distancing, there was not much of an uptick in covid cases due to protesting as compared to political rallies held indiscriminately on the other side of the aisle.

I continued adding to my covid resource center, and my family cooked some of the recipes I was sharing. I attended church online and began to attend remote retreats, which I found both a distraction and a new way of prayer and contemplation. I wish I could say I wrote more; Maybe I did write more, at least here, and I’m proud of my work here. I tried to let the world flow around me and not put too many expectations on myself. I was home for my kids in a greater way than usual even though I’ve been home for my kids since they were born. This was the first year family didn’t ask when I was getting one or encourage me in that way of theirs to get a job. I already have several, thank you very much. We rediscovered our teamness. Looking forward to next school year in a few short months, I’m going to miss them when they return to school which we expect them to.

We were also able to go on vacation at the end of the summer. We remained in New York State since we were comfortable with the rules put in place by the state for covid precautions. I’m not sure how much longer my adult son will be willing to go along with us, and we’re enjoying time as an entire family.

The Photos:

Timeline, Part II.
(Pink = Summer, Orange = Fall)
(c)2021
4-6: Prism, orange peeler, In This House/BLM sign
(c)2021

Prism from neighbor

We belong to a neighborhood Facebook group, and at the beginning of the pandemic there were many posts offering suggestions for how to entertain the kids, especially the younger ones who weren’t in remote school. One of the fun, community activities we included ourselves in was the #Rainbow project. Houses and businesses began to put rainbows in their windows, on their garages, painted on pallets, flown on flags and banners, and included a hashtag of the area code with the word rainbow so those of us walking throughout the neighborhood could take pictures of all the rainbows we found, and post it online – on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, that sort of thing on social media.

My artifact came from one of our neighbors in the Facebook group. The family bought several prisms online and put them at the end of their driveway in a bucket with a rainbow flag. They posted on the Facebook that they were to be taken whenever folks walked by on their neighborhood romps, but of course, to please take only one per family. They went quick! We were lucky to be able to get one on her second round. When it’s held in the sunlight, it makes rainbow reflections on the walls, windows, and other surfaces. Just looking at the clear glass teardrop shape makes me smile and think of how lucky we are to be in the place that we live. Also, rainbows are hope and promises of better times.


Orange peeler

We all discovered our kitchens again. I was reminded very much of the nesting that went on after 9/11: we stayed home, kept our families together, simplified our lives, and more than ever before, we cooked. At least that’s what happened in our house, both after 9/11 and during lockdown. I’ve mentioned before about Chef Jose Andres’ Recipes for the People on Twitter. While we were on vacation, we had clementine oranges in our breakfast bags provided by the hotel and I became obsessed with having a delicious, juicy orange almost daily.

I bought this great little tool while we were in Buffalo from a five and dime store. I couldn’t figure out how it worked at first, but it was labeled as an orange peeler for sixty-nine cents. If I knew how much I would love this little gadget, I would have bought fifty of them! Well, maybe not fifty, but a dozen. I’ve already put this five and dime on my list to pick up some more the next time we go through Buffalo (hopefully this summer on the way to Canada). It was one of those things that I didn’t know I needed until I had it. I will never peel another orange without this perfectly constructed tool. So simple. So easy.


BLM sign

About the time in the summer that political signs went up, I saw this same sign on my neighbor’s lawn. I didn’t know this neighbor, but I stopped by anyway to ask about it, thinking she had gotten it locally. At first, I think she thought I was complaining about the inclusivity of the sign. She was happier that I liked it and wanted one of my own. She got hers from Amazon, and mine arrived about twenty-four hours later. I added the American flag, and we’ve added more flags for Memorial Day weekend and then buntings for 4th of July. We’ll leave this sign and one or two of the Stars & Stripes until fall clean-up.

The entire sign reads:

In this house, we believe:
Black Lives Matter
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
No Human is Illegal
Science is Real
Love is Love
Kindness is Everything.

This one sign really says it all. Really, what more is there to say?


Part III coming soon.

4th of July

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I’ve been thinking a lot about July 4th lately, as in several years lately. I grew up with patriotic parents. I don’t remember displayed flags, but the way they lived their lives and taught their children was certainly patriotic. I remember two incidences specifically. One, we were at a professional sports game (could have been baseball or football) and the National Anthem played. I eas expected to stand, and stand still. The second was at a school assembly. I was young, elementary age probably, and we stood for the Pledge of Allegiance. Kids are lazy, and they hop on one foot, and lean on the seat in front of them, and they kind of sit on the top of those seats that close when you stand up, and that was me. Not disrespectful in my mind, but bored. My father leaned down and very quietly, all the important stuff was spoken quietly, expressed to me, in no uncertain terms that I would be standing up, and stand up I did.

My father was a veteran. He didn’t choose to join the Army, but he went when called and through that we saw the power of duty and real allegiance.

I’ve always been interested in history and genealogy, My grandfather was from Canada. I loved that we were from Canada. I once said that we were part Canadian. Goodness, you’d’ve thought that I had spilled tomato sauce on a white couch. We. Are. American. Period. End of Discussion.

When I got my own house I decorated for July 4th. We even marched in a parade with our son’s day care center (although that might have been the Uncle Sam Parade), but still. Nothing extravagant, but a couple of flags, flag shirts for the kids.

When the former guy became President, we didn’t decorate. It wasn’t a conscious decision. With my depression in full force in the mid-2000s, I didn’t do much of any decorating even though I tried for some minimal effort. Even after I got into a recovery groove, I didn’t put up anything patriotic. I didn’t want to go for the fifty cent ice cream cones at the local shop for wearing red, white, and blue. I saw that 90% of the American flags I saw were accompanied by T**mp flags or co-opted into Q flags. It was dispiriting. After the November election I noticed that many of the houses that had T**mp flags had changed them to the Good Ole Stars and Stripes. They are not the same.

This year, though, as Memorial Day was approaching, I was reminded of sacrifice, of bravery. I listened to marginalized voices and remembered what many of us believe – that the potential for this country is vast, and it is still accessible.

I bought a set of bunting. It looked unbalanced, so I bought a second set. That made it better. I fastened them in place with American flags and I left my Black Lives Matter sign and added a Choose Love in June. In a couple of weeks, I will take it all down, perhaps leave one flag in place because I am a proud American. I want my kids to feel that pride, to listen to all the voices, to accept the past, much of which is only now coming to light. Being proud doesn’t mean being blind to our faults. We all have them.

It may seem as though I’ve only decorated because Joe Biden became President. I’d agree, partially. We bought our house in 2006, and for the following July 4th we put up some flags and two buntings. It looked spiffy – very patriotic. I mention this because in 2007, President Bush was president, so this isn’t about only decorating for a Democratic President. I will say that President Biden’s concern and care for this country and especially for its people was an unconscious impetus to want to show off my colors. I have a place to store these buntings and flags safely, and I’ll know where they are so they can go up again next summer, just in time for the next 4th of July. Maybe they’ll go up for Flag Day and Juneteenth next year.

Front View. (c)2021
Close up View. (c)2021

Amplifying Black Voices Through Twitter

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Some of these accounts I have been following for years, and some I just discovered. Some are better than others. I don’t agree 100% with all their tweets/posts. This is just my list of follows to get you started. It should be noted that there are many allies that I have not included in this first list. I wanted this to be strictly black voices. Any that you would like to add, please put in comments and I can include them in the future. Continue reading

Election Connection – 21 Weeks – Anti-Racist Resources

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With the surge of justice Twitter, Black Lives Matter, Defund the Police, Vote, we are being bombarded with some messages that we may not have been exposed to before.

For those of us who are white, it is time to stop talking and listen to the voices of the black experience. What follows is several resources that I have found in the last week simply by listening to those voices.

Later this week, I will share some people to follow on social media (primarily Twitter). Please contact me through comments or email with any suggestions of black voices that you want amplified.

NAACP

ACLU

Racial Inequality and Injustice – A Panel facilitated by Misha Collins through GISH (his charity scavenger hunt)

NAMI’s Statement on Recent Racist Incidents and Mental Health Resources for African Americans (this link is a repost from yesterday)

The Anti-Racist Starter Kit by Brea Baker

5 Ways to Better Support the Movement

10 Documentaries to Watch About Race Instead of Asking a Person of Colour to Explain Things For You

Baratunde’s World-Saving Books

Unlearning and Relearning Through Literature (Victoria Alexander’s Twitter Link)

Anti-Racist Resource Guide created by Victoria Alexander, MEd

Anti-Racism Resources for White People

Mental Health Monday – Black Lives Matter and Resources

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After the last post, I have tried to sit down to write about how I feel and what I think in preparation for returning with posts this week, and it has really been something of a struggle. Even before last week’s unrest and ongoing police brutality, I have been in a state of numbness throughout the lockdown and the marches and the President’s rhetoric is only exacerbating that.

In fact, it has made things more difficult as I watched what happened in Minnesota travel as an ever-increasing ripple from coast to coast and then swirling around the world.

I say all of this with the acknowledgement of enormous privilege. I do know that it is much more difficult for the people mourning George Floyd and marching and protesting and making their voices heard. I have no intention of co-opting that, and I’m trying to discern how I can navigate my way to allow myself to continue what I do here and at home while honoring and respecting what is happening in this country.

I spent last Wednesday, what Twitter called #BlackoutTuesday as a way to not post my usual nonsense across my social media platforms. I didn’t go completely offline because I don’t think that was the point of the day, but I didn’t engage unless I was amplifying black voices. I let myself read black community tweets, follow links, look into things that black voices recommended and consequently, I found some really good resources, most of which I will share tomorrow.

Today, I will recommend two books and a link to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) that they shared especially for African-American people who are living through another trauma that many of us just can’t understand.

Recently, in January, as part of a spiritual workshop I participated in that talked about inclusion, diversity and recognizing bias, I was able to discover and read White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. I would recommend it to every white person to read. It was a tough one, especially recognizing myself and people I know in the pages.

I am currently reading How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. It’s also a tough one, in a very different way, but, it is also very good.

This is NAMI’s statement on recent racist incidents and Mental Health Resources for African Americans.

I will return tomorrow with more as part of Tuesday’s Election Connection series.

22 Weeks Until Election Day. #BlackOutTuesday #AmplifyBlackVoices

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Today is a day to amplify Black voices. This will be my only post today, and I’ve decided to postpone this week’s scheduled posts. As I was looking at my writing in progress for this week, I realized that going on as if nothing were happening in this country was, at a minimum, tone deaf. I will continue to update my covid-19 posts, and if I find anything helpful to the protests and justice for George Floyd and David McAtee (killed by police in Louisville (just in the last few days) and so many others that have been victims of police and government brutality. Mine is a voice that hasn’t had to live in a Black man’s skin and I’ve always tried to listen. Listening isn’t something I can do if I’m posting.

This graphic links to the secure act blue donation page. These are the organizations that any monies raised by this fund will be going to. Thanks to Crooked Media for providing the graphic on their Twitter.