We've moved!

Please keep up to date with all think Yankee and gluten-free over at A Yankee in Rebel Clothes.

30 March 2013

Celebrating the sun

The family and I all went to Duke Gardens today to enjoy the warm sunshine and have a little picnic. As an added surprise, a good friend and her little girl happened to be there at the exact same time, so our party grew! It was a wonderful afternoon, and I even managed to grab a few pics while we were out.

Everyone loves Pickles apparently. 

Harley got some love as well. 

Just chattin' and stuff while we walk the dogs ...

What are these flowers? They are beautiful!

All of the tulips were n bloom. Stunning!

Love this girl. 

The Crescent City

I was lucky enough to spend this last week in New Orleans at the annual SITE conference. My paper was chosen for presentation, and I attended a lot of great session which I can't wait to share with my colleagues back at school.

But, of course, New Orleans is never all work and no play. I made the best of my time and visited familiar places as well as a few new sites. I finally got to see the Audubon Insectarium (which had an AMAZING butterfly house) and the Aquarium of the Americas. I also finally got to see Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District. And, of course, I ate a ton of good food, heard a lot of great music, and walked the soles off of my feet.

Some of the highlights ...

I like to think of this one as "Vacancy."

"Disrepair," or
"Trying to get out or in?"

This little yellow guy was playing hide-and-seek for hours. 

Jellies! My favorite part of any aquarium. 

My LL came to visit!

This post is a wee-bit belated, but my MOH and best friend came to visit a few weeks ago (I know, I know. Bad blogger!) and, of course, we had a fantastic time. It was low key and relaxed, but we did manage to make a day trip to our old stompin' grounds in Greensboro. Most importantly, she got to meet JD, and, no surprise, they really hit it off. We had so much fun together  and it made me realize how much I miss her! Now JD and I have made it our mission to get her to move her ass here.

And, of course, we are horrible people and only had one photo of ourselves taken the entire week. And it was in Pottery Barn. Seriously? What kind of people are we?!

Testing out couches.

19 March 2013

The kids

Time for some puppy pics!

Sunny and Pickles

B likes our patio.
The sun calls them like a tractor beam. 

The value of knowing your food

Every year, I plant something. Be it herbs or flowers or veggies, each spring I find myself drawn to the soil to grow something from simple little seeds. This year I get to grow a REAL garden because I actually have a real yard. I've planned a veggie and herb garden with a few edible flowers thrown in for variety, and I've already started my seedlings.

I love growing something from just a seed. The anticipation over those first few leafy green appearances is almost too much to handle. When the slender green leaves begin to poke through the rich soil, I feel like a giddy school girl. I spend countless minutes adjusting them in the sunlight and bringing them in from the cold at night. I gently prune each plant until only one strong seedling remains in each square of soil, hoping that it will continue to flourish and grow. My little seedlings aren't big enough to transplant into the ground yet, and it is still too cold at night for their tender roots and leaves. But, once they are established in their permanent spots, then the waiting for fruit begins. Enjoying my fresh food and herbs later in the summer is often the most rewarding feeling I get all summer.

There is a special importance to growing something from scratch. Sure, you can go buy seedlings at any home improvement store, but waiting for a tiny seed below the dark soil to emerge and grow into a mature plant is truly magically. Even after all these years of growing things, I am still amazed that such tiny specks of matter can eventually become the long winding vines of a bean plant or a vibrant aubergine eggplant. Those seeds are so tiny and yield such amazing fruit! Tending a garden takes time and energy and patience, the latter of which I often seriously lack. My garden helps me to slow down and take time to appreciate the bounty of blessings that surround me.

There's a pride I feel when I bite into a tomato that I have grown from just a seed or gaze upon a morning glory that I have coaxed up a trellis. I've never felt this after shopping in a grocery store, no matter how fresh the tomatoes may be. There's this feeling of "I made this" even though the magic of its creation is far beyond my mortal hands. Seeing the green of my garden provides a satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that my rushed life rarely produces. 

I think that our culture is too far removed from the food we consume. I'm not absolutely positive, but I would guess that 98% of the food consumed in America is purchased in grocery stores and farmers' markets and other places. We don't raise our own meat to be butchered and we rarely grow our own fruits and vegetables. This is a vital step in our nutrition that we are missing, and we miss out because of it. Growing/raising your own food gives you a confidence in the quality and value of that food. I know that when I make a salad later this summer with my very own home-grown spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, those vegetables will be clean of dirt and chemicals. I will know exactly where they came from and what they went through to get to my table. I won't worry about cross-contamination with E Coli or fecal matter or any of those other horrible health/food scares. I will eat my dinner in confidence. More confidence than I have with the food that I purchase at Harris Teeter. 

Frustrated ramblings

I'm supposed to be working on my dissertation right now, but I'm so frustrated/angry/bewildered that I can focus on anything other than what's bothering me. And what is bothering me is how our culture and media has responded to the Steubenville rape verdict.

First and foremost, I've never identified myself as a feminist. I recognize that women have historically been treated more inferior than men and we have had a harder go of it in our classrooms, in our workplaces, in our families, and in our culture overall. There are unreal and impossible expectations put upon us at the same time we are often viewed as weak and in need of protection and a provider. However, I also recognize that man, too, have unreal and impossible expectations placed upon them -- especially in today's society -- and that neither situation is ideal. Men have, historically, had the upper hand and all of it's advantages, and that's not right. But I'm definitely not a man-hater as so often feminists are painted to be (which is a whole different conversation that I choose not to engage in). I'm not a feminist. I'm a humanist (not in the traditional definition) in the respect that all humans deserve fair treatment in all aspects of our culture. Sadly, we haven't achieved this, but I consistently hope that someday we will.

My heart aches for the victim of these assaults. She has been violated in a way that she may never recover from, and, like many rape victims, will be prone to depression and anxiety for the rest of her life. She has lost control over her own body and her own decisions at this point, and that feeling of total helplessness and violation must be hard to bear. Thankfully, she has a supportive family that surrounds her with love and compassion. It's unfortunate that the rest of her community does not do the same, but I'll save that discussion for later. I grew up in a generation that was very "blame the victim," especially when it came to rape. Girls shouldn't wear certain things or go to certain places or act a certain way because they would be "asking for it." We've all heard or said the phrase regarding rape, regardless of your gender. Because of this cultural climate growing up, I learned very early to "protect" myself. I learned to never go to a bar or club without trusted girlfriends who would watch my drink, accompany me to the ladies room, and who would make sure I got home safely. I learned to never accept a drink from a stranger and to never leave my drink when I went out on the dance floor to move. I learned that what I wore was a reflection of my intentions and my sexuality. Wearing a short skirt meant that I was easier than if I wore a knee-length skirt. Wearing a low-cut blouse invited unwanted stares and advances. I learned to never walk down a dark street alone and to always lock my doors and windows, even when driving in my car. I learned that carrying an umbrella made me less likely to be attacked, but having a ponytail made me more likely to be attacked. These are all things I think about each and every day.

But I shouldn't have to. I was raised by honorable and trustworthy men who valued women and would never dream of hurting one. But, sadly, the men outside of my home were less valiant and chivalrous. They couldn't be trusted and I needed to protect myself from their potential violence. This is sad in many ways. First, I've never been put in a situation where I was victimized by a man, but my distrust has been ingrained in me from the start. Second, by living a life where men couldn't be trusted and knowing that I had to protect myself, I've probably missed opportunities for good friendships and relationships. Third, I shouldn't have to focus on protecting myself. The cultural expectation should be reversed and men should be expected to control themselves.

I worry for my nieces and the young girls I teach. I see every day the cultural influences that bombard them, teaching them what it means to be an attractive and desirable woman in our world. You must have the curves of Kim Kardashian and the long blond tresses of Blake Lively. You need the perceived purity of Taylor Swift at the same time you exude the overt sex appeal of Katy Perry. This is impossible for our girls, and, with each attempt at making themselves into someone else, they lose a little more of who they are. Something in our culture has taught our girls that they need to be sexual and sexy, even as young as 10 (and probably younger but that scares me to think about that). Unfortunately, to be sexy and sexual, girls need to dress in revealing clothes, drink heavily, and be open to performing sexual acts. She should appear wholesome and good to the outside adults, but she needs to be up for anything among her peers of both genders. For a girl in our culture to have value and worth, she needs to be deemed attractive and desirable ("do-able") by a man (and, preferably, many men).

But, at the same time, I worry about my nephews and the boys in my classroom. Like so many of the young men in our culture, the two young attackers in Steubenville grew up in a world that told them that their value was based on their athletic and sexual prowess. Women were to be mere toys of conquest until after college when it is time to settle down and marry one. They are objects to be used rather than individuals with value and identity. Men are congratulated for their sexual conquests while women are expected to be chaste and pure ... an impossible dichotomy. Athletes seem to be above wrong doing and should be celebrated and honored, simply because of their athletic ability and regardless of the things that they do wrong or the laws they break. How many professional football players and baseball players and basketball players have been accused of sexual violence in the last decade and what has come of those charges? What role models are we encouraging for both our boys and our girls?

By no means do I give the attackers a free pass because of social conditioning. They chose to commit these acts of violence, and they deserve to face the consequences of their actions. The way the press is handling the verdict only reinforces the expectations of boys: women are to be play things, especially for those with athletic talent and skill. These are not poor boys who have had their futures stripped away. These are young men who consciously made a choice to violate and humiliate a vulnerable young woman who was unable to make decisions for herself. And then they documented it with video and images and texts which they shared with their peer community as a source of entertainment. This should be completely unacceptable and reprehensible  but, somehow, the media has taken pity on the rapists. They've made them into victims of circumstance, and that is sickening.

Sometimes I am ashamed to be a part of this culture. And the thing that frustrates me the most is I don't know what, if anything, I personally can do to make a difference.

10 March 2013

Spring has sprung!

The weather has (finally) improved and the sun has started shining more regularly. Happily, I've been able to get outside and start puttering around my yard. I've started my seedlings for the garden this spring, and they're making very good progress. I've planted my strawberries and a blueberry plant and a rosemary bush. I've even repotted a few of my houseplants into larger, fresher pots.

Because there is so little color around the yard (something I plan to rectify in the coming weeks), I picked up a few pots of flowers when I was at Lowe's.  They are just little bursts of color, but they brighten our front porch and our (ugly) garage.

Don't they just scream springtime?

I love the bluish-purple in this pot. 
I plan to add some pansies and other hardy but colorful plants around the trees in the front yard as well as adding lots of color in the back yard. I just hate that our house has no curb appeal right now. But I'm working to fix that!

Stealing off Craig's List

As we plan for the wedding, I'm faced with finding inexpensive accents for the celebration. Since our theme is a vintage rustic approach, I've been on the hunt for old mason jars to use as flower vases and candle holders on the tables throughout the reception. This is clearly a popular use for maso jars right now because anyone who has any sells them for pretty steep prices. Luckily, I happened upon a Craig's List ad for old, dusty mason jars, 40 in all. I offered the man selling them $25, and he accepted. I figured they were just regular ol' mason jars that he had found in his barn. He told me that I had to be prepared to carry them out of his barn (which made me a little worried that he was an ax murderer), so JD and I headed over to check them out.

What we found was a wonderful surprise.

Two full crates of dusty, dirty, rats' nest filled mason jars. But I knew instantly that the man selling them had no idea what he was actually selling. While he sold them to me for a little over .60, he could have sold them to me for $4-5 each. These jars, once cleaned, revealed themselves to be very old antique jars. They're in all shapes and sizes; jam jars, pints, quarts, circles, squares ... everything. And they're going to be absolutely perfect for our wedding. Hopefully I can get my hands on about 10-20 more, I'll be ecstatic.

While we were rummaging through his barn (thankfully he didn't turn out to be an ax murderer), I set my eyes on two old wooden boxes. I wasn't sure what they were or what I would do with them, but I instantly knew I wanted them.

Box #1
Box #2
Box #1 from the top
Box #2 from the side
We offered the man $5 for them (which he took) and loaded them into the car. As we drove home, I started thinking through what I wanted to do with my new finds. With a little sanding and polyurethane  JD and I decided that they would make great pieces for the house. The low box with the divider (Box #1) was covered with a wallpaper-like material, but we were sure that we could transform it into a tray for our ottoman. (We already have one on the ottoman in the living room, but it's nothing interesting or conversational.) The larger box with printing on it (Box #2), with a little work, would be perfect as a card box for the wedding. I set out to sanding them when we got home, and JD worked on them today outside in the sunshine. They already have started to look pretty good, and I'll definitely post pictures when they are all done. 

Of course, as soon as I told Mom and Dad about our awesome finds, they called us "pickers" and wanted to know when our episode was airing. Whatever. I'm pretty excited about getting such awesome stuff for $30!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...