Monthly Archives: November 2010

Berbere, Big Butt of Beef, and a Wagon of Beer

I have to be honest, I am scraping the bottom of the barrel these days. I’m pretty darn worn out – and trying (REALLY TRYING) to refill the tank.  But, I don’t really want to get all too serious, and so I’m just going to load some fun pictures and remember the past few weeks full of habesha goodness. 

I promise there will be a full blog post on the ferengi who cooked injera and lived to tell about it.

Ethiopian Cooking Project with some new and awesome friends – Mulu, Bayesh, and Tigist. 

The Ethiopian Project Dinner, otherwise known as A Warm Wisconsin Welcome by the Ethiopian enthusiasts, Mr. SillyPants and Ms. Plum and their family includes the now ‘must have’ wagon of beer. Because, you can roll it out for any impromptu party.

Ethiopian Project Dinner – Wisconsin Harvest Welcome /An amazing standing rib roast and plenty of buttery sides.

The food was delicious, the company was delightful.


The wagon looks small, but the local brews were not.


Wordless Wednesday

Entertaining for the Ethiopian Project…

American ediblesEthiopian edibles

and my two besties showing their support and approval

We’ve had a VERY busy 7 days with 2 seriously rockin’ dinner parties at our home. Mr. Silly Pants counted AT LEAST 25 friends at each evening. Fabulous food. Amazing friends.

No time for writing; no energy for recounting the fun. We’re just letting it sink in, settle, and stay awhile. And, we’re prepping for Thanksgiving. First, I have to conduct Parent/Teacher Conferences tomorrow night, in which I am the teacher.  You catch my drift? We’re happy and exhausted around here. Off to bed….a full life it is.

Fairies for Water

Thanksgiving weekend we women (biggies and little-ish) are going to be gathering at the table to make Fairies For Water. Remember these? We (me, Twinkletoes, Songbird, and Flower) are going to make them for the Water4Christmas etsy shop. Last year the Water4Christmas effort raised enough money to build 2 wells in Liberia. This year our family will be making about 20 of these beautiful Flower Fairies so that Charity:Water can keep digging wells.

We’re going to be part of a bigger effort – and we hope our part makes a difference.

And for the record, you can count the boys in on this – because I bet they’ll be all over it when we are giggling and pulling out the glue guns!

Oh…and lest I forget – every single fairie will be a brown fairie. I’m just sayin’.

(Shout out to my friend, Abby, for alerting me to this opportunity. And, to Tesi and her peeps for their amazeballs Wine to Water event. Inspired! It took just this little bit for our crew to add to the effort. We never argue with a good idea.)

Tonka’s canned response is in the can.

Right.  So I put out the call to action and asked folks to write letters to their toy manufacturers and/or their local retailers to tell them how they feel about racism  reflected in our toys and our toy aisles all across the country.  My tantrum post had a lot of viewers – and a few of you had really great feedback about what is working and what’s not.

I wrote my letter to Hasbro. Tonka is one of their toy divisions. You know what I received? I received an e-mail FORM LETTER. It was a canned response. Nothing more, nothing less. I canned the canned response. It was pathetic.  I can’t even find it in my inbox – I felt so dismissed that I tossed the loser response. It said something like, ‘We value your opinion blah blah blah.” Morons. Seriously.

I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and spend my money wisely and thoughtfully in my community. I hope you will too.

Tonka Tantrum

Mr. SillyPants and I were party shopping at Costco – picking up some wine and a few other party items for our big bash (more in another post – after I’m done with this pissed off post) when we hit the kid aisle. He wanted to show me some of Blue’s favorite things at Costco (yes, it’s a weekly stop’n’shop; can’t beat the price on organic milk and cream for our coffee). One item was a sorta cool “Diego” crane set.  Blue doesn’t watch much TV, so the Diego piece, featuring “Diego”,  wouldn’t be a ringer for him. But he likes tools/mechanic/things for pretend play and construction.

Next to the Diego crane set were hundreds of Tonka toy vehicles – hundreds, I tell you. Cool sirens, lifting ladders, rotating helicopter blades, and an accompanying action figure for each themed vehicle.  HOLD ON! You know what? EVERY SINGLE ACTION FIGURE WAS WHITE. And come to think of it, EVERY SINGLE ACTION FIGURE WAS MALE.


You know where I’m going with this, right? And you have the good sense not to tell me “you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill”, right? Because, yeah, I’m not overreacting. And I’m not in the mood for, “you’re being PC” or “it’s not like it’s intentional or something like that” or “kids don’t see color so young.” If that’s where you are – you’ve got some learnin’ to do – and I’m gonna ask you to go and do it…NOW.

What the hell is wrong with our toy makers? I greedily looked at these $20 machines, figuring they’d be a HUGE hit with my boy – and we could call it a holiday. But no, instead, the delight in the bargain Costco moment was RUINED by yet another example of the underepresentation of people of color EVERY FUCKIN WHERE. I told you this was a Tonka Tantrum, right? I get to cuss.

Here’s the thing – I’ve already raised 3 kids. I have raised 3 pretty awesome, connected, tuned-in kids. They are kids who grew up with lots of cultural exposure, lots of gender bending opportunities, and with pretty ‘aware’ parents; we kept lots of different types of literature in the house, had all kinds of dolls, avoided a lot of junk culture, had friends in neighborhoods all over the city, blah blah blah etc, etc, etc….I’m a cultural anthropologist for crying out loud. I’m in a constant state of cultural critique.  I kept a pretty keen eye on raising white kids with an awareness of privilege and power and with  an interest in social justice and racial justice. I’ve been a parent for 22 years – I’ve made this sort of work important.  I’ve had ‘tantrums’ before. But not like this. Nope. Not at every single freakin’ turn. It sucks for our family. It sucks even more for our son.

Let me tell you, looking for the image of my beautiful brown hued boy in the world really  brings it. Blue brings it home. BIG time. I’m not intending for him to be my personal ‘object lesson’ – and I know the the dangers of presenting that phenomenon; as in – ‘white mom gets racial injustice when she becomes parent to black son’. And yet,as my friend wrote this morning, “this is the messy business of inequality.”

I don’t have any perfectly constructed words – I’m having a freakin’ TANTRUM.

 Tonka, my kid and ALL OF OUR BLACK KIDS need to see themselves in our toys. I’m pissed. I am mightily pissed that I am NOT seeing his perfect little face looking back at us on our well stocked toy shelves, in our magazines, on our televisions shows, in our literature, in the histories our schools teach…..

I know y’all know what I’m talking about.  It’s worth caring about.  I’m joining the voices of families of color and their allies who have been arguing for so long – ’til they are breathless with effort while still suffocated by elite white privilege. This is worth caring about for all of our children. Every single one of them. 

NOT end of rant…I’m certain. 

What are you finding on the shelves out there?

Anatomy of a Party

The Menu

Roast, Hard Rolls, Horseradish, Mustard

Orzo Salad, Waffles Favorite Green Salad

Roasted Root Vegetables, Fruit Skewers

Union Cafe Beer Nuts, Spinach Dip & Crostini, Cheese Platter featuring local cheeses

Plentiful supply of local  beer and wine

Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Coffee

The Audience: A guest list FULL of Ethiopians who are involved  locally or via Addis Ababa University with the Ethiopian Project.  My children, biggies and little, will be in attendance as we use our amazing space to throw one heck of a party for our esteemed friends and colleagues committed to bringing improved health care services to Ethiopia. This is the program that Mr. Silly Pants joined last year for a 10 day ALSO effort.  It’s an honor to continue our involvement.

We look forward to welcoming new friends to our home tomorrow.

It’s unlikely I’ll be taking pictures, but I WILL BE SOAKING IT IN.