Rather than the standard “we have all the amenities you love!” that most cities try to promote, touting urban sameness rather than distinctiveness or authenticity, the message coming out of Detroit is, “we’re still here! We made it and we’re stronger for it!” (Detroit: Rebranding, Resilience and Redemption)
Throughout his post, Saunders has sprinkled videos which illustrate his point, and as I watched the videos, it occurred to me that while the post was about the rebound of Detroit, it could just as easily be a message of hope for 2020. So I include the videos for your viewing, whether as cheerleading for a city I love or as a reminder that while we have miles to go before we sleep, together we have the resilience to start the work of redemption.
Here is something interesting about food, history, and identity. https://t.co/tjq3ILaprJ
— Dr. Aphra Behn (@Shaker_aphra) December 22, 2019
It’s a fascinating story, and it also reminded me a bit of part of the premise of Michael Twitty’s, The Cooking Gene, which I’m currently reading.
The Cooking Gene is about the influence that the enslavement of Africans by European settlers has had on foodways and history of the Old South. The Cooking Gene includes personal narratives, history, recipes, and folk songs. The recipes have African, Native American, and European roots as the author integrates his Jewish faith into African-American cooking. Twitty emphasizes the African flair that has been added to European and Native American ingredients by African American cooks. Additionally, he discusses plants used in cooking that are native to Africa such as sesame, okra, and sorghum. The Cooking Gene)
We don’t really have any food stories or food legacies in my family. Part of that is because my grandmothers’ recipe boxes were either lost or thrown out when they passed away. Part of that is because the food heritage from Germany and/or England/Scotland is not all that distinctive (as compared to other Western European countries), so even if I have a heritage, I probably wouldn’t recognize it. And part of it is because my immigrant ancestors were so focused on assimilation that retaining a heritage (beyond Whiteness) was not a priority. I can recognize more recent influences: the Depression on the cooking of my grandmothers and mother; the 1950s with the introduction of convenient (AKA processed) foods; WWII on the food my mom was “allowed” or “not allowed” to set before my dad. My dad was more of a feminist than my mom ever was, but that didn’t stop him from decreeing that no lamb should ever be cooked in our home; the smell reminded him of the mutton he ate during the war, and that triggered other memories.
Despite the lack of stories or recipes, I’m still capable of appreciating food. So when I realized that Aphra’s tweet was going to lead to a post, I decided that for the holidays, it was time to go back and dig out some of her anti-troll recipes. As a Village, we never got around to gathering all of her/our recipes in one place, but I wanted to share some of those that would make tasty holiday and New Year fare. So major h/t to Aphra for writing today’s post.
The winter solstice “occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, the term is also a turning point to midwinter and the first day of winter.”
That moment will occur tonight, December 21st, at 10:19pm Central Time (which is my time zone), in universal time that will be tomorrow, December 22, UTC 04:19.
Her looks were unusual: was she really who she seemed to be?
The wind was high that gray December afternoon as we passengers stood obediently in line to board the jet from Dulles Airport to Seattle. Looking out the windows next to the jetway entrance I could see the wind blowing a man’s hat off and a windsock flapping in the stiff breeze. But then I forgot about the wind as I walked down the jetway to the plane and rejoiced that my frequent flyer miles had secured a good seat in Row Eight for me.
Then Lenson got wind of an old glassworks in Vineland, New Jersey. Vineland and Millville to the south had once formed the nexus of a glassblowing area in south-central New Jersey. The sand there was fine and free of impurities, perfect for glassmaking, but the glass factories, overtaken by modern manufacturing methods, had now closed, leaving dozens of glassblowers jobless. Lenson sought them out and told them he had a plan to put them back to work. (Taylor, Nick. American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work, Bantam Books, 2008, p. 276.)
As a lover of vintage glass, my first thought was that I wanted to at least see a piece of this WPA glass, a possibility I’m still researching. My next thought was that I wondered which glass factories had closed. I found one company that may have been one of those to which the book referred (the endnotes do nothing to solve the mystery), and it’s a fascinating story of hope, beauty, and tragedy.
Last week I mentioned that I would be doing a SHEnanigans post today, barring something catastrophic. The catastrophic has not happened, but there’s a change in plans anyway. My doubling down on resumes last week has resulted in two interviews: one today and one tomorrow. This is good news for me, but not good for my concentration on anything other than preparing for the interviews. Instead you get a Twitter-supported look at interesting tidbits of history and the lenses through which we view them.
For most people, the name WPA brings to mind images of men laboring on highway projects and building parks and schools, but during the Depression, women, too, were heads of households and in need of employment. Work programs for women were first established in 1933 through the Women’s Division of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), and later came under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Some women were placed in clerical jobs or worked as librarians, others went to work canning, gardening, and sewing. Nationally, some 7 percent of WPA workers were women engaged in sewing projects. Sewing rooms could be found in rural areas and large cities alike. (“We Patch Anything”: WPA Sewing Rooms in Fort Worth, Texas)
Whatcom County, WA
There is a 700 acre stand of old growth forest sequestered in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains about 25 miles east of Bellingham WA, and about 10 miles west of Mt. Baker at the edge of the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest. I had long wanted to see and experience this ancient forest as it is one of the two largest such stands in the Pacific Northwest – the other being Grove of the Patriarchs in the Mt. Rainier National Park. Around here old growth forest is revered as an endangered vestige of our natural world as it once was in the same way that other revered PNW icons, the Orca and the salmon are endangered. And maybe for that reason, it is a good thing that this forest is not readily accessible to the public.