Straight White Male.

PrintPRIDE week. Sitting in a coffee shop, I overheard part of a conversation from the table next to me, “When is MY day? I wanna know, when will there be a day for me, a straight white male. When will there be a day to celebrate me?!!!” Shocked, stunned and disgusted, I gathered my things and removed myself from the situation. At that particular moment, a response from me would not have been pleasant.

One Mother’s Day many years ago, as we were getting ready for church, I asked my mom, ‘’Why isn’t there a Children’s Day?” My mom answered, “Everyday is Children’s Day.” I nodded as if I understood.

Today I nod, because I do understand.

As children we assumed the world would take care of us, and for the most part, it did.  Adults looked after us, fed us, dressed us, protected us and provided a place to lay our heads. Television programs were designed for us. Family vacations were planned with our schedule and our enjoyment in mind. The world revolved around us, and everyday was “Children’s Day”.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are days set aside to remind us (children) that someone else (Mom, Dads and other adults) are out there working to make life comfortable, and safe for children.  They are days set aside for children to take a moment and say, Yes, you ARE an important part of my world and you help make me who I am. I honor and respect you as you have honored and respected me.

So… Dear Straight White Male, I say to you, everyday is Straight White Male Day!

Pride Week, Black History Month, Native American Month are special days set aside to acknowledge someone other than the Straight White Male, but they are days created for your benefit, for you to look closely at those who are not like you.

These special non ‘Straight White Male Days’ give you a chance to examine your privilege, your entitlement, your history, your place in this world. It’s a time for you to recognize the role diversity played in making you YOU! You can acknowledge the other people who struggled to make life work in a world that did not value their existence.

Consider the non-‘Straight White Male Days’ a time to renew your spirit and give honor and respect to those who have done the same for you throughout history.

Reflect and give thanks, we all have reason to celebrate.

Happy Pride.

 

Words of Wisdom from Walnut Creek.

rainydayThe owner of the really cool green linen jacket that hung in the lifeless cubicle, finally returned to the office. I noticed the jacket when I began working a few weeks earlier. It was simple in it’s design, however, it was the unique color that attracted my attention. I wondered why the jacket was left to collect dust all those weeks. Perhaps it was meant to be a decoy in case the “boss” walked by, giving illusion that this person was at work, but simply away from his desk?

Brian, the owner of the jacket was an engineer who had been working in Lisbon collecting data that was to be included on a map my department was creating.

While we listened to music from a portable CD player, Brian would list off the longitude and latitude points where cell sites were located. I would find the points on the big gigantic map and stick on little yellow dots to represent the cell sites. For hours that turned into days, I would place yellow dots on the big gigantic map. The map would later be photographed, reduced, and finally used in a presentation that offered cellular phone services to the country of Portugal.

Before moving to the Bay Area from Southern California, I went back to school to hone my  graphic design skills and learn the computer just so I could get a job where I stuck yellow dots on a gigantic map.

groceriesBrian worked for the international side of the company and would travel often, sometimes for weeks at a time. When he was in Rome (having his pocket picked while giving directions to Bocca della Verità), it was his birthday and his mother arranged to have a chocolate cake delivered to his hotel room. I remember thinking how nice it was to have care packages and such while on these assignments. Kinda like being away at summer camp or in the dorm at college and grandparents would write and send the occasional treat to make you feel special.

I agreed to collect Brian’s mail from his apartment and send it to him through the inter office transfer system while he was away. Along with the mail I would include a personal “greeting card” that was printed from the computer. I’d create an illustration with a simple phrase that said hello. My own little Hallmark ; I called them “Words of Wisdom from Walnut Creek”.
trysinging

I remember printing one of the illustrations. It still needed a little tweaking, so I left that first version on the desk of one of the assistants. The next morning, the assistant saw my illustration and asked if I could print another copy because she wanted to give it to a friend. No problem. From that point on, I began making multiple copies of my “Words of Wisdom” which were being pinned up in cubicles throughout the office. I printed them weekly and it became a cheery little way to wish everyone a happy day.

I never considered myself an illustrator, but creating these helped me develop a style by scanning my doodles and tracing them in Adobe Illustrator. I’d thought of starting a line of greeting cards, but… well…. uh….

I’d borrow phrases I read somewhere and create an illustration to go with it or I’d use my own wit and wisdom to come up with a something. Sometimes I’d take a quote from the Bible and the illustration would be used for the cover of our church bulletin.

On the top floor of our building, the Executive Offices, there was a rotating art gallery. It was run by a gallery owner in San Francisco that brought in works from artist sall over the world. At one point the employees were given opportunity to display their own work. I printed a couple of my “Words of Wisdom” in a large format and they were used in that exhibit.

Recently I rearranged furniture, got rid of some “junk” and moved things into what used to be my son’s room to create a nice working space for me and my many projects. In a box I found some old Zip Drives the copies of my “Words of Wisdom”. I decided to update the files and save them into a more current format. A walk down a digital memory lane.

These files are nearly 25 years old. Brian and I have been married 22 years years ago. Time flies.

boatelevatorstripesicecream

Insomnia and Butter.

 

Insomnia.

In the wee small hours of the morning I found myself watching a Jacques Pepin cooking show. He shared a memory of eating toast with homemade butter in his grandmother’s kitchen. Jacques’ own granddaughter, Shorey was on this particular episode helping him in the kitchen. He gave the granddaughter a small jelly jar filled halfway with cream. He put a lid on the jar and told her to shake it continuously. He then went on to show his television audience how to make butter using a food processor.

While demonstrating and giving culinary words of wisdom, he’d check on Shorey to make sure she was still shaking her jar. After about ten minutes, he asked the girl to remove the lid and show us her cream that had now become a small clump of butter sitting in a pool of buttermilk!

Butter.

I made butter! I have a food processor, but I chose the jelly jar method, and it worked. It took about the same amount of time it takes to prepare a pot of tea. I spread some of my homemade butter on a couple of pieces toast and topped it with marmalade. It was delicious! I look forward to sharing this process with my grandniece and nephew the next time they visit.

My dad used to drink buttermilk and as a little girl I’d turn up my nose watching him drink the stuff. I remembered it as tasting sour and yucky, but the by-product of this homemade butter (that I made) was slightly sweet and enjoyable. Who’d da thunk?

 

Directions:
•   Fill a small jar about half full of cream. Put a lid on it and shake continuously 10-15 minutes or until the contents separate.

•  Pour the “buttermilk” into a small glass and drink it, or use it for buttermilk pancakes.

•  Place the ball of butter on a cheese cloth, or paper towel and blot out the excess liquid.

•  Add salt if desired. Refrigerate.

 

 

Coral Cheeks

coral sweater

Mom wore a coral colored cardigan with big buttons, pockets and 3/4 length sleeves  (or maybe she pushed up her sleeves). It was a thick knit with a collar that closed up around the neck.  It was the sixties, I would have been 5 or 6. I  thought the color was pretty against her skin.

Her lip stick wasn’t a sassy red, but more like that same coral color. When she’d go out, my sister Robin and I would ask her to kiss us so she could leave a lip print on our cheeks.

When She Was Younger, by Edie Moore Olson 2014
When She Was Younger • 2014 • Edie Moore Olson

Tchotchkes

IMG_0029

Tchotchke: pronounced (ˈCHäCHkə), Yiddish  –  A small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket (Webster’s Dictionary). The Urban Dictionary defines Tchotchke as: A small piece of worthless crap.

Everyone has them. Little knickknacks hidden behind other knickknacks collecting dust. Perhaps they are kept in a box, maybe a secret treasure chest type box. Tucked away.

IMG_0025To an outsider it may look like a rock, but to me, it’s a gift my son gave me when he was three. I keep it in my purse.  A blue bird with a chip in it’s beak, was a gift from Edna Degraffenreid, a woman who worked with my mother. I was fourteen. I don’t remember packing or unpacking it, but it has moved with me and after 40 years, it still has a home on top of my dresser. I have three Murano glass frogs my mother-in-law brought back from Italy. There was a slight panic when I dropped one and broke its leg and a failed attempt at gluing. The sentiment remained intact.

IMG_0004When Uncle Winston passed away, a couple of the cousins and I packed up his house. One keepsake I took with me was a faux Limoges box shaped like a carrot. There’s a tiny white rabbit inside. Turns out, my sister was the one who gave it to him.

Inside the goodie bags at my daughter’s 5th birthday party, her guests found a tiny ballerina with a magnet at the base of its feet. The tiny mirror that came with it is also magnetic. Put them together and the ballerina dances. I want her to dance.  She spins and stops, spins and stops. She stares. In the end she performs a lovely adagio.

IMG_0005A tiny glass dolphin. A small glass bunny. A turtle, a pig, a teeny weeny rubber chicken. A long neck goose carved out of teak, a pIMG_0039encil sharpener shaped like a cannon from the Alamo. A minuscule teddy bear and blanket crocheted with vintage yarn. The craftsmanship of this little bear is amazing. I met the artist and admire her work, we belong to the same Artist Guild. The teddy bear wanted a ride on the bicycle after he saw the rubber chicken ride by.

Tchotchkes. Taking them down from the shelf is kinda like looking at old photographs. The memories come flooding in.

Mother's Day. My son's gift to me. A souvenir from Sea World.
Mother’s Day. A souvenir from Sea World. My son’s gift to me.
A handblown glass bunny. I found it at a toy store in Berkeley while shopping with my daughter when three.
Handblown glass bunny found at a toy store in Berkeley. My daughter was  four. A mommy daughter shopping date.
There's a glass straw inside of this coke can.
This belongs to my son. There’s a small straw inside (it’s broken).
Chickens, pigs, turtles. They are just cute.
They’re just cute.
The pig fits inside of the carrot!
The spotted pig fits inside of the carrot!
The world's tiniest rubber chicken taking a ride on a bike.
A tiny rubber chicken riding on a bike is pretty funny!

Lime Green Vinyl

pianoWhen I was growing up, the piano in our home was an upright covered in lime green vinyl. A memory that makes me smile. I recently called my mom to question this interesting choice in furniture decor.  Her simple response, “because her mother (my grandmother) wanted it that way”. Then she told me to stop laughing at her mother!

Grandmother played the piano by “ear”. My dad would have said, “that’s because she’s so short!” She was only 4’11” and her ears were close to the keys, of course she could play by ear!

The sound of her playing and singing “If I Can Help Somebody” is very much alive in my heart. My sister and I would imitate her, giggling when we’d get to the chorus, “then my living shall not be in vain…” We’d screech to reach the high notes, (just like Grandmother).

If I can help somebody, as I pass along,
If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,
If I can show somebody, (where) they’re traveling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain.
~Alma Bazel Androzzo