Friday, August 7, 2020

Lazy Days and Frugalish Fridays

In the past two days I've done as little as possible, mainly because I canceled Kindle Unlimited  and wanted to read those books before it expired. I'm also reading one of those Amazon First Reads which isn't bad. I'll have a review post of some of what I've been reading later. So I finished two and have begun a third.

Other than reading all that's happened round here in the past couple of days is that I managed to get my 45 minutes of weights and strength in, I played with fabric arrangements for a few minutes and had a nice chat with my brother on the phone. Other more constructive pursuits including the crafty kind were put aside for reading time. Lots of reading time.

On the frugal (and possibly non-frugal) end of the retirement equation for this week(and the month, per Personal Capital):

1.  The grocery budget for July was $400 for food only and that includes our dairy delivery. While prices are up, we've had stuff from the pantry and freezer and are happy with whatever meats and  such are on sale. Easy to please, are we. Whether I can get back to my previous goal with rising prices is questionable at best.

2. I'm back to my normal habit of free and library only books. For awhile there during our friendly "lockdown", I was downloading every new mystery from Amazon as soon as it was released. Now I'm back to my friendly library, with a long list and plenty in the old Kindle to read.

3. I did have a fairly large hobby expenditure last month, in that I purchased my yarn swift and yarn winder. Saving time is frugal too and now I don't have to run to the yarn store and ask them to wind my yarn or abuse a family member in order to get the yarn wound the way i like it.

4. Since I have the time, I've started paying attention to rebates and deals and once again started doing some user testing and phone reviews and studies for gift cards once in awhile. As well as shopping online through a rebate portal. Lockdown has given me some time I didn't have during my social butterfly life. And I will need to buy a sofa and love seat (or chair and a half), ottoman,  bistro height dining table, a patio set, a new sewing unit and more. And yes, I am fine with the used side of things, but not for upholstered furniture. Plus pay for moving and movers! So I'm letting the gift cards pile up.

5. We made a mad dash to save the last of the cherries from the squirrels and now have bags of both pitted and non pitted  in the freezer.  Our neighbors, who have wires all around their vegetables, gave us a huge amount of squash! We will make them a cherry pie.

6. I cut my own hair again (Wahl clippers now paid for), I exercised at home and amused myself with things entirely at home, and made a tentative list to fulfill my goal of all handmade gifts for the holiday, using stuff on hand whenever I can.

Admittedly a large part of number six falls under the "I'm not leaving the house because of Covid" umbrella, but there you have it. More or less.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Making it and Digging Deep

Rarely do I have the urge to spend more than a few minutes a day on the housekeeping and organization aspects of life, life being to short and all of that. I may have shared that before. So you'll be happy to know that on Sunday I went out to the 120 degree garge with a couple bins, and  dragged literally everything out of my chest freezer, counted it, organized it in shopping bags and put it back in the freezer.. After writing down every little thing inside.  I now know that I have between two and three weeks of meals in the freezer.  I also know that I've done my organizational task for the month. Or maybe for two months. Or three? Not including the packing equation of course.

I need a smaller brush pen (or maybe even a rubber stamp or two), and that bird on the far left is supposed to be hunched over but needs some work.
After puttering round for a day or a half, and watching a Utube video or two, I also managed to create a few cards to add to my Meals on Wheels donation pile. I am living proof that things can be fun to do even though you may not necessarily be good at doing them. I may be a damned good quilter and a pretty good knitter these days, but when it comes to the so called "arts" I dabble my friends, dabble. Sometimes they come out, sometimes they don't. But since I use things like greeting cards thats okay, because the people who love me are happy to get them, I hope. and perhaps they'll cheer up other people once in awhile. Oh and the card that was on Friday's post, that was a sample of the stuff I am trying to learn to do. Not something made by me. On the other hand, the two cards above are my attempts.  I also may also have made a couple others that I am not sharing here. Now for the writing little notes thing in each card.

Sorry, all pictures taken in the morning sun while relaxing at the pergola table. But you get the idea hopefully. Yes, these are Tula fabrics.
Also over the past few days, I have started on the newest quilt. After a day or two of indecision as to which size of block (the biggest one)  and whether to be monochoromatic or contrasting, color wise (mono). Now for the sewing and designing the quilting. I also have a modern art quilt in the works, but since right now that's slashes of fabric I throw on as I go, I should probably go a little further.

In some good news/bad news, I've been good on the exercise thing, and did forty minutes of weights (me and my two pounders) today.  I also had, you guessed it, the red can of coke this morning. Maybe I can alternate mornings?

Tonight in order to avoid waste and have something frugal to chat about, we have a modge podge of leftovers. Steak tenderloins, lemon garlic chicken tenders, a throw together chili made with things on hand (my sister tends to be living proof that creativity does not only equate craftiness, but applies to food as well) and brown sugar pork chops. After two leftover lunch days and dinner, I think we're on to real food again tomorrow. Only since I never took any of that inventory out of said freezer, I believe we'll be doing the deli chicken and biscuits thing.

I leave you with a picture of my newest mask and my temporary buzz cut, along with some obligatory dog pictures, in my bed and on the ever loving dying yard.

The flowers, trees, and plants, they are blooming. The grass is going the other way in this drought.

With only the nightstand light, on top of not one, but two of his own blankies/quilts whie he awaits fo his master to return from work. Leaving him will be traumatic. For both of us.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Frugal-ish Friday on Saturday

Folks, I apologize but we are on moderation for awhile. Some of you may have seen the multiple posts on curing herpes and the like that have suddenly begun appearing and seem to not be caught by the spam catcher. I'm working on it and meanwhile I will keep close eye and respond quickly.

Today was my third day having a diet coke for my cold morning caffeine instead of the "real thing". I'm not holding my breath, but we'll see how it's going. I have not eliminated all carbs or sugars from my life (probably never will) and Lord knows once in a while I will probably have that red can at some other time during the day. But my blood test was a teeny bit high, so I am jumping on the wagon quickly, as well as upping my around the house step quick march routine (I've been concentrating on strength to the detriment of movement just a bit).

Overall, it's been a pretty darn contented week around here. I sometimes hesitate to say that knowing that for some of my readers the opposite is true, but sunshine, outside time and having a good "puttering" gene has kept me busy. I was sad about cancelling my gals group meetup the other day because of Covid, and the knowing that I may not see them all before I go. But there is a small group waiting to restart in a different form in the new year, so things will be fine. And I will be fine going back to smaller social events for sure.  

Now this is my artistic level, and I can do it all with stuff in my craft room with the exception perhaps of a thick brush marker!

As for the puttering and the things I did this week in the Covid zone, I'm deep into the second shawl (I'm a shawl and cardigan person vs a jacket person so shawls are what keep me warm when it's not really cold and yet I need a cover over decent clothes). I did too much  fabric cutting (the least fun part, that comes after the designing and before the sewing/gluing/attaching, depending on the project). I downloaded some Barbara worthy (read scary easy almost elementary) card ideas for my next bout of cards. I took a drive, in my decluttering mode I filled a large paper bag or two of torn paper, and I spent time outside. Lots of time. I'm also deep into the second season of a show.  I have both  fiction and non fiction reading going!

Frugalish Stuff

  • We've eaten all meals at home and cooked at home. I'm all for supporting local business but I need to save all the pennies for the moving van this fall so we have a hiatus in that area.  I'm about to do a deep dive into the freezer so we know what's in there because aside from eating it down the poor thing is desperate for a good thaw/defrost.
  • I subscribe to like ten channels through Amazon Prime and the fire stick:  Masterpiece, Acord, BritBox, Topic, Mhz and a couple more.  I have a master list of what is on each channel and will now only do one channel at a time since there is no dinging when you stop and start (and some times there are free trials). I keep Netflix, Prime and Hulu, and will let Disney go once everyone who uses my password has seen Hamilton.I already got rid of the Great Courses and now rely on Coursera and other free channels (and Utube). Now if I could just stop wavering on Kindle Unlimited and Audible
  • During my subscription box period I put one in the mail at the beginning of June, and today I got dinged for it in full. I emailed them and told them I watched the mail person take it and I kept one thing. Thankfully it looks like they will refund me the difference although they have not received it and it  must be in mail hell somewhere.
  • Maybe frugal, Maybe not? I received a card in the mail that offered me an 18 dollar Amazon gift card for living an "honest" review of my Fitfort tracker. I suspect what they mean is they want me to improve the review I left. Mine does great on tracking and heart rate, but I had to be honest and say that even after calibration if I had the BP it says I do, I would not be walking upright, and that for me the app is a mess. While I won't lie, if I can make the review more friendly I will but that's all I can say.
  • We entertained ourselves, fed ourselves and created and organized with no spending at all, using only things on hand except for a few food items. That remains the long term goal, although I will need a few yards of fabric at some point, and will slowly need to gather packing materials (I'm willing to spend on boxes so they are all the same size). Oh, and we bought some wire fencing to keep out the killer rabbits.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Thankful Thursday

So today I am back on the waiting list (but approved and with my deposit paid), there were too many units opening right now and people ready to accept and I was confusing them that I wasn't ready to move tomorrow. The leasing agent is fairly new and we now have it worked out. I'll call them sometime after the beginning of September and see what they have available timeline wise.  I still will not move before mid October, but then they should let me know if that time frame is available. I have to wait until November I'll simply stay with my daughter. But she knows my dates and is keeping a look out for me as things continue.  And I have begun the organization process in earnest-a bit each day.

I'll be entering their bubble anyway, in terms of son-in-law and daughter (or they will be entering mine, maybe). They both work but are super careful because my daughter visits nursing homes. And since they'll be helping me move in, and all the other things, that will be fine. One of the things I noticed is that I have valet trash pick up and no recycling, so I'll be gathering that up to go to her house on the weekends anyway. This particular place has washer and drier space and I've been trying to decide what kind to get, so that may be an ask the reader question coming  up. Meanwhile as I work on my wardrobe plans, I'm trying t make sure I can wait for two weeks for now. Daughter says just don't get a washer and come to her (she has the newest super de dooper front loaders, the kind I won't touch-I just let her turn everything on)!

Things That I am Thankful For This Week:

1.  My daughter and son and law who have been supportive, offered to fly up and help me pack if needed and are willing to hold onto stuff and or pick it up. Today my daughter told me she's getting me one of those rolling carts so that I can get all my groceries to the house from the car in one fell swoop. It will be her housewarming present. There might have been a turning into a little old lady reference somewhere in there, that's her way of being funny these days.

2.  My sister and son. I was hesitant to pull too many things out of the established household. My sister started talking today about how she would pull out the silverware I brought from daughter (her old set) after her wedding and that she will deal with the kitchen box (not the dishes). My son and I are going through the garage and Christmas items next week as I have never seperated kid ornaments out yet (here we go).

3.  The Internet, man, the Internet. I mean sure, there are days when I want to  scream about the news and social media. But I was dependent on or enjoyed using the net for some things before C-19 and that has just expanded. I am using the Internet to: download books, research genealogy, take online classes, do online zoom Canvas and Cocktails classes, take museum tours, watch concerts and the opera, take a workout class,  connect weekly with pals for happy hour and just so very much more.

4. The yard and my view from the yard.  And the neighbors who live in the nearby  yards. We're now in the height of the season-although I'm spending more time outside earlier and later because of the heat. We have bees, hummingbirds (I'm on a mission to get a decent camera phone picture if it kills me), sunshine, shade and all kinds of flowers and plants-none of which are thanks to me.  I mean seriously, look at what this place looked like in 2013!!  

We have a variety of different fences going round, from six foot wooden, to plain wire with roses, to bushes, but all of our neighbor's yards are well kept and  and they are all friendly and helpful, so as long as I have my little pergola privacy when I need it, I am happy outside-every day.  We all also have dogs, which helps. One neighbor has chickens (you can do that in the city and suburb here) and occasionally they get very chatty, but so long as they are sharing and throwing some eggs my way, I'm fine with that.

5.  All the people from all my groups, many/most of who I may not see before mid October.  While I have nestled in quite well, and have missed my gals large group gatherings much less than I thought I would, I am sad that there will be no gatherings, even small ones, the way things are progressing-other than virtual. Church friends, knitting friends, meetup friends. I have enjoyed the company of all, many have been helpful and fun, and I will miss them when I am gone!  

6 And to expand the five, I am thankful that my sister-in-law is on the slow road to recovery. She is now in rehab, with a trache collar around her throat that they are finally trying to wean her off of and her husband can still not visit because of the pandemic. We are trying to send cards to her every week.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Making It Monday-Starts and Finishes

As part of my goal to bring small bits of organization to my day I have started a very brief, really modified hack of the Miracle Morning. My aborted, sitting in bed version, includes prayer, meditation, a full set of in bed stretches, some journaling (sometimes some reading or knitting before facing the world), and caffeine and and immediate mornng snack if I need it from my teeny nightside cooler. Note that there is absolutely no visualization or actualization in terms of exercises or anything else. And it's often not before 8 AM. Sorry, Hal!  

I blocked my finished shawl ( I dont have blocks so I used a steam iron). I may work on it more in the week to come to stretch it a bit but my sister loves it. The lace is popping if imperfect. Since I always alternate one for me and one for someone else, I've started on this shawl which goes with my summer capsule pretty much - at least the solid tops and the maxi dresses. I'd really like to make a summer tank as well, but then I think of my sister in law in rehab. It's Texas air conditioning. Could she use a shawl?  Will they let a handmade item come in?  

The quilt is finally quilted and finished, and ready to go (to press or not to press with a traditional quilt is always a question), and I'm now about to start on some fall fabrics that are partially cut before the big modern quilt. I also today hope to make a set of cards and write letters inside-one for my SIL in rehab and the others for meals on wheels peeps. 

I've finally decided that I really need to start watching Line of Duty as my next show. It's been on my list for a really long time and I've avoided it just because I'm a big fan of dear old Lennie from The Walking Dead and Jericho, ( I hate to see him be the bad guy) but it's time to jump in. I need a new show and there it is.  Meanwhile, thanks to the Fantastic Fiction website, Kindle Unlimited and all my Amazon emails I have a large backlog of books to read and check out. For my thriller/mystery types, I just discovered the Joe DeMarco series and my current book will keep me busy until the new Catherine Coulter FBI book comes out this week. 

I may actually allow myself to pay full kindle price for that, although I am keeping a very tight reign these days. I need a few craft/fabric/yarn items or tools to finish current projects. Also since I live near an SAS store and there is none in the area of Texas that I am moving to, I may spend the $150 for another pair of sandals before I move. Otherwise all the post bills and grocery shopping expenses will go towards renting a pod and movers and new things I'll need in Texas. I'll also be sending a monthly allotment to my son for awhile since he is taking over a full half of this house and his hours are questionable each week at best (they love him and he's supposed to eventually be promoted as a trainer and start traveling, but as Covid-19 goes up, restaurant business goes down. Everyone is affected, man).

So.  In theory, I will be ready to move on 1 October. But the reality is that I won't move until sometime around the fifteenth. If they don't allow mid month move-ins, I'll pay online and authorize my daughter to pick up the key and then sometime around the 15th move and drive. 

Why all this finagaling?  It's all so I can vote in my current state, since we are a swing state. I care much more about the possiblity of kicking Cory Gardner to the curb and taking the senate than the off chance of Cronyn.  Colorado, of course, is one of those states Trump hates so much because we vote by mail. We receive our ballots in the mail and then can mail them in, drop them off at secured sealed lockboxes or even stand in line.  As far as I'm concerned the mail fraud argument doesn't hold water and isn't particular advantageous for Democrats as such.  I mean, our senators are one of each party, after all.

You"ll probably laugh at this one, but after having a chat about parsing out stuff from the household for me to take, I pulled out one of those "furnish your first home" type charts to plan ahead for everything I would need. I'm taking my own dishes, we'll divide up silver wear and we have enough pots and pans to keep me till I get new ones. On the other hand I'll need toaster, microwave and so many more things things further down the line. I made a designatied Amazon wishlist for this stuff, if only to keep me organized. I've also not shopped for just one person for awhile, so I've been working a very rough budget and a master shopping list in that area.

Tonight we are having lemon garlic chicken tenders (I bought I gigantic package o we could just pull as many as we needed out) with cheese garlic biscuits, which come from Walmart, believe it or not and are fantastic.
Someone shared this with me this mornng, proof at what a lack of national leadership (Yes, I'm talking about Trump), looks like in the face of a pandemic. Sigh. Just when I had started going out a teeny bit here and there, I'm back in my nice little bubble. Anyone who still thinks Trump is doing well handling the pandemic or the law and order better look again.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thursday Thoughts: Cooking Small, Creativity and the Brain...

Things I'm drinkin' and thinkin' about this afternoon:

I've been going outside every day before or after the sun, embracing the shade in the heat. Today I decided I needed the sun and headed out for a good half an  hour of the real thing (I protect myself pretty well, but have serious vitamin D shortage and am blessed with skin that never burns or freckles. I dont do it every day and I do have a low to medium number suncreen but I need to get past hiding all in the shade).  

This morning I watched about four videos on how to do a specific quilting technique and have the fabric ready to experiment with tomorrow before I start my project. This was probably as big a brain challenge as taking a class or doing the New York Times or LA times puzzle (which I do weekly).  Hobbies stretch us, or at least me, and I don't just mean the crafty ones. For most of us, if we find a hobby we like, eventually we try and take it to another level. And then another. My sister is a great baker and each week she tries a different pie or tart in the cast iron pan she got for Christmas (more of them lemon than not thanks to me). While I wasn't paying attention fully, I did hear how she now has a new way to do the crust and is researching that and then it will be onto something else. The lace shawl I just finished required concentrated knitting without distraction. Yea, I still do the puzzles and I still take the occasional (now virtual) Olli or Coursera class. But my hobbies are just as challenging (and occasionally meditative and relaxing)!

 I've been having some real fun exploring meals for one or two. On a forum I belong to the topic came up of the problem of cooking small sized desserts and just took off from there, I still have my three quart slow cooker from my time living alone, and I've been wanting to look at smaller recipes both for sister and I on occasion and also ahead to when I move. Especially small sized desserts and snacks for now. I took a trip down the rabbit hole and checked out the One Dish Kitchen, Homemade in the Kitchen,  and a few other sites. Flourless chocolate cake for two, lasagna for two, stovetop beef stew for two, plus a pile of slow cooker recipes that make two or three servings. I also put some small casserole type pans on my wish list for the new place to facilitate some cooking.  
These mini five inch casserole pans are on my list!

I have to admit this, I miss my people on a regular basis. The small knitting group on Wednesday with deep conversation, the occasional lunch, the once a month dinner at my brother and my sister in law's. I also miss the just going out (at least as much or more, honestly). The day trip every week, an afternoon thrifting, even walking in the mall and people watching. I've made the adjustment, I'm doing okay, better with my new normal than I thought I would.

Thankfully what I am not is bored. As always, I only speak for me, but guess I just don't understand not having enough stuff to do. Yes, I craft and not all my readers craft or do art. But I am here to tell you that on a regular basis there is so very much that goes on in this house other than crafting and art and for six weeks three of us were completely locked down, mainly without boredom.  In the past week around here various people have watched TV series and read (admittedly we all have long reading lists we will probably never plow through), worked on putting up a fence, done some gardening, been working on a thousand piece puzzle, practiced golf moves post surgery/therapy, done cooking and baking and grilling, sorted though old family photos and organized according to side of the family, done minature paper sculpure (paper nano),  taken online classes, worked out, volunteered, walked and played with the dogs and a bunch of things I left out. And yes, I have sewed and knitted.

A regular reader here reads Tarot cards if I recall, does Astrology, volunteers for Meals on Wheels (maybe not now), works out, does Aromatherapy,  creative writing, and yes, also crafts. I'm sure she may remind me of what I've missed.  If this pandemic does nothing else, I hope it shows people that we all need hobbies and interests we an do at home. Some with others, some alone, some relaxing, some challenging.........

Meanwhile, for those who have been around for awhile and remember my previous move, (an end summary of the process here), this move will be entirely different. Partly because this is now a combined household of three, partly because this time I have no one else to drive a truck for me, and partly because many of the items I brought here are not appropriate for my new place of have lived most of their lives. Son can either keep them when he moves next spring, sell or donate. As of now, I am taking my bed, two small and one large dressers, a large wooden bookshelf, one of my two Ikea desks, the pretty white chair and two bakers racks that collapse. Along with the piece of furniture below, which is really a sideboard but will go in my new living room. Right now I'm doing the calculations to see if these and ten large boxes will fit in a pod....................I'll let you know.  

At the same time I'm regularly exploring both Rooms To Go and Nebraska Furniture, as well as all the local buy and sell groups in the north Texas area,  the Denton downtowners Facebook page, the local churches and anything else I can find. It's time to be in the know, about everything I can.

Or at least try.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Why Black Lives Matter

This is a long post folks. It needs to be. It may also be rambling, for which I am sorry. Bear with me to the end, please.

Growing up, I was not very enlightened when it comes to race in America. My parents were very liberal, and supportive of civil rights and a host of other things, and my father was in the kind of business where he traveled the world and that affeted his views a great deal, but my personal experience was not that, because I lived in mainly white suburbs.  My dad also traveled all over the US including into small towns in the deep south for business and I remember him coming home one day and telling me that South Africa during apartheid had nothing on many parts of America.  I heard it, but neither understood that or experienced it. 

And as I now know, without experiencing it, there can really be no understanding. I don't say that because I understand more than anyone,  on the contrary, I may understand less. Experience has opened my eyes, don't get me wrong, but also to the fact that I know much less than I think I do most of the time, I say that as nowI live in a very white state in a very white suburb where a college student once said to my son “Wait, you have black friends?”. Mind you he wasn’t being necessarily  judgmental or overtly racist, it was simply outside of his experience.

My parents did give me the experience of having my growing up years being overseas where I experienced many cultures. But even there, the people of color were mainly in their own and comfortable environment, so while I met and interacted all the time, I was the outsider and there was not the historical context there is in this country on race.  Six years on a military base exposed me to race, but as many people can tell you, meeting people not in their home environment is a different experience. As is living in a "barracks" or apartment and spending much of your time in "the field".  Although racism and sexism are or were certainly rampant at that time in my day it was less overt, and obvious and controlled. when four people are sleeping in an ambulance...I will say that there was some cultural education and I learned that the phrase "big legs" (do people even use that any more?) is not an insult. Among other things.

 All of which to say is that, while I have been blessed to have to some unusual  and or out of the box cultural and racial experiences and interactions,  at heart I was(and mainly am) just an average white girl. As was my husband the average white guy. We had not had the deep, intense exposure to other people of color or cultures that exist in this country.

A little bit of that changed when, in 1984, the Federal government sent (and I do mean sent) my husband and I to Washington, DC. Where, for twenty years, we lived in two very diverse, very nice, in demand middle class inner suburbs. We, and our children, were, while not necessarily the minorities here, certainly not necessarily the majority other.  A PTA back to school night in the nice suburban Arlington or Alexandria Virginia would be filled with obviously white, mainly waspish (by heritage and genetics) parents. Along with multiple Vietnamese and other Asian parents, Hispanic parents,  African American parents, families from the Middle East of all religions, black families who had emigrated from Africa, and more. All in the same proverbial pot.  A really terrible copy of an annual Halloween party photo at my home shows my very blonde headed blue eyed daughter-with her myriad of friends. Not seen, of course, are all the parents aside of the picture enjoying adult time before escorting the trick or treating mob.

 In the house next to me, there lived a professor and his wife who had escaped from the Philippines during the Marcos regime. When they decided to return, the family that moved into that home had escaped from Iran right before things got really bad. 
The family who lived across the street were Muslims who escaped the first Beirut war, and my daughter used to fast with their daughter during Ramadan, and she would spend holidays with us. Her mother watched my projectile vomiting son when I was visiting my dad on his last days and my husband was in the midst of 20 hour work days.  Down the road a couple houses, my daughter’s two best friends were African American twins. When they were about five, I found them all in the back yard “dissecting” rolie polies, the friendship progressed from there (really, they were looking at their insides, lol). At middle school graduation, one of the girls wrote that my daughter was “Like a reverse Oreo, white on the outside, and black on the inside”.  She still loves that over twenty years later.

This is where if you are expecting me to talk about how much bettter I am, how much more I know or how I am an expert, you would be wrong. Very, very, very wrong. On the contrary. I have learned how much I don't know, how much I need to know, and how much further I need to go, without question. For me, it is still a constant struggle. The knowing and meeting up close and personal has not changed that, but perhaps made it worse since I actually know what others have experienced and dealt with.

What's important to take away here though, is that struggle is lessened a milllion percent for my kids who grew up "totally immersed", for lack of a better phrase. Yes, they are still white.  difference, I hope and believe, is that they know that, remember it most days, are not afraid to call out (again for lack of a better phrase), those who think that makes them better. And while I could talk for hours about the advantages of living in a multicultural area for families and the joy and education that came from it in terms of raising children, while am happy to tell you that the best thing I ever did for my kids was something I had absolutely no control over it, this post is not about that, either.

This (admittedly very long post) is really to share the experiences of my son. Everything I've written to this point is really about this. My son, who first lived in Northern Virginia and then on extreme diverse bases overseas, and whose friends literally cover the spectrum.  Who has had an average life, except that to many it seems, he has not. My son, and the wonderful, average, everyday friends he grew up with. Who were often not like him, in appearance at least. And who have been treated differently than he has, in some times drastic ways, simply because of the way they looked. Not the way they dressed, or where they came from, or how they behaved. Just because of how they looked. The very white, very blonde kid, who lived among people of color  and whose (mainly black and POC) friends have always been more not like him than like him, either in Washington or on a military base in Germany. Because to be a young white kid in a middle class neighborhood with friends of color is to know the reality of what things are really like. To know, without any doubt, how systematic racism works, at it’s basic level.

 My son has lived in a walking suburban environment where he has walked home from middle school in a hoodie and headphones (and probably done some jaywalking and property crossing in the process), and not had to be fearful of confrontation. In fact, my kids were taught at an early age than if an adult who is not in uniform or police identified tries to speak or stop them, they are to run. To light, to authority, to home.  He has gone into stores with a group of his friends, and been the only one not to be singled out, accosted, or checked, just because he was the white kid.

He has never been pulled over just because, when he was driving in his own neighborhood, and he's pretty sure none of his friends can say the same thing.  He has never been accused or suspected of stealing in a store, and it's doubtful of his friends of color can say the same thing-even when they were in groups with other white kids. He has never been thrown out or told to get out of the car for no other reason than the police felt like telling him to do so, and none of his friends can say the same thing. He could run in his own, mixed neighborhood, at any hour of the day or night, without someone walking to the other side of the street or without police stopping him because they weren’t sure he belonged there.  Because he is a boy, when he drives somewhere north or south, he does not have to worry about questions. Nor does he have to be worried about being stopped (for the most part) if he is dating interracially or the responses by authorities and others to that fact.

I have never, ever had a discussion with my son about how to protect himself when being stopped by a cop, because I have never, ever been worried about that. And my son sometimes speeds, I am sure and he drives cross country as well. The ONLY conversation I have ever had on this topic with my kid is to remind him that if he leaves a legal state like Colorado  with drugs and goes into a state where it is illegal they might try and confiscate his car, so just don’t do that.

Today most of those young pals are young adults hiting thirty and they live all over the US and the world. None of these young people  have been physically harmed that I know of. But I know that they live in fear of it, and I know that their parents live in fear of it. Not just sometimes, but all the time. All the time, every day.

 And just to be clear, the parents of these young people are just like you or I.  Teachers (so many teachers), librarians, military officers and NCOs, restaurant owners.and restaurant waiters bankers, bank tellers, business people of all types, retail store employees, golf pros, nurses, doctors, nurse's aids, personal trainers,  people who work at newspaper classified sections wedding photographers, stay at home moms, stay at home dad, service station managers, and all the jobs of every type I missed. I forgot to mention. Regular middle class folks, living in a regular (and supposedly more friendly and safe) middle class environment. Whose experience is totally different from yours or mine when it comes to equal treatment, harassment, and authority.  

And that, my friends, is why Black Lives Matter.