Tag Archives: Haiti

It’s Not My Style…

This past Saturday, my friend Amiable Amiable at Big Happy Nothing passed me The Stylish Blogger Award.  My friend, AA, is very sweet (be sure to check out her highly amusing blog!), but clearly delusional in bestowing this honour on a woman whose children have threatened kindly offered to suggest Style by Jury do a makeover on her (“They’d give you brand new pearly whites!” says Hope, hopefully).  Nevertheless, being the gracious sort (and not wanting to hurt AA’s feelings), I am proud to accept this award, and pass it along to other deserving bloggers.

Stylish Blogger Award

 

The requirements I must follow as an award recipient are as follows:

1. Write seven things about myself. 

I’ve decided (since I’m likely to repeat myself in my advanced age) to share with you seven little-known facts about me and my lack of style (Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear dream of getting their well-manicured hands on someone like me!). 

2. Present the award to six bloggers.

There are few people on my Blogroll who I haven’t already picked on honoured with various awards, but I will offer up some of my latest additions for your perusal.  I may lack that “je ne sais quoi,” but I’ve got a whack of stylish writers on my Blogroll!

3. Contact those people. 

Will do (just as soon as the post is up!).

4. Create a link back to the person who honored me. 

Done!

Seven Fashion Tips/Facts About Me I Hope No One Chooses to Follow:

1. My first (and second pair) of glasses were cat’s eyes: the first pink, the second blue.  I was seven…I thought they were cool!

Me with my Aunt Nancy's ponies, ca. 1968...a fashion plate even then...not!

2. I made my own halter tops in junior high from a simple trapezoid shape with drawstrings strung through the top and bottom…I was a 34A until I was 16. 

3. My parents didn’t have much money when I was growing up, and I bought all my own clothing from the time I was fourteen.  One of the things I desparately wanted was a pair of Levis jeans.  One day, a local store advertised in the newspaper that they had Levis for $3.99.  When I got to the store, the “on sale” jeans were actually cords, and they were burnt orange in colour.  I bought them anyway. 

4. In Grade 10, I recut a pair of hand-me-down bell bottom jeans (remember the really big bell bottoms popular in the mid-70’s?) and sewed them into a long granny-style skirt…I spent the rest of the year tripping over it!

5. I was not a “girly-girl” in high school, and rarely wore regular-length skirts.  Girls had to wear skirts for band though.  I found out (from a photograph in the yearbook) that I had played my flute in a band concert sitting in the front row with my legs wide open (lucky that I wore granny panties then, just like now!).

6. Before I had kids, I used to have money to buy shoes.  Shoes in Canada were always more expensive than they were in the U.S., so I’d wait until we went to the States to visit relatives to make my purchases.  On one such trip, I was thrilled to find a pair of pointy-toed suede cowboy boots for only $38 (they would have sold for over $100 in Canada at the time).  Some unkind people referred to my prized boots as “pickle-stabbers”!

7. In college, I went through a brief period where I wore hats all the time (it was the early ’80’s).  I built up quite a collection before I came to my senses and realized I wasn’t a “hat person.”

My Six Stylish Blogger Nominees:

The proper words in the proper places are the true definition of style.

Jonathan Swift

I have chosen my victims winners with Jonathan’s quote in mind…please check them out if you don’t already know them:

1. Another Stir of the SpoonJeanne and her husband, Curt, write one of two wife-husband blogs I follow (and they’re just as crazy about birds as Jim is!).  It is an eclectic mix of food, art, gardening, books and nature.  Just today, I learned about “real” ramen (as they do it in Japan), and “shino” glaze on pottery!

2. EduClaytion. Clay is the history professor we all wish we had in college…he makes history and pop culture fun!  There’s a rumour that the look of the “Flynn Rider” character in Tangled was modelled after him…the real Clay is definitely cooler and smarter than his cartoon twin!

Flynn Rider from Tangled…

3. Jumping in Mud Puddles.  I discovered Vickie after she was Freshly Pressed in mid-December…I kept reading because she cracks me up!  Vickie’s a fourth grade teacher in West Virginia.  One of my favourite posts of hers involves a lost ring

4. Life From the TrenchesAmy used to write mostly about etiquette, but has expanded the scope of her blog in anticipation of her imminent return to the “away from home” workforce.  She recently took up a challenge presented by one of my commentators to do a post on flatulence etiquette (we may collaborate on a book, but don’t hold your breath…or maybe you should!).  Amy handles whatever she writes about with good sense sprinkled with a liberal dose of humour!  
5. Loose Leaf NotesColleen is a poet, photographer, journalist, and a grandmother in Floyd, Virginia.  She shares my love of music and tea.  You never know what you’ll find when you visit Colleen…one of my favourites of her features is Thirteen Thursdays.
6. Reinventing The Event HorizonKathy is an artist and creative writing teacher currently living in Haiti with her partner, Sara, who works with a NGO doing relief work.  Kathy accomplishes the seemingly-impossible task of finding beauty in the ruins of a country devastated by poverty and a series of natural disasters.  Her writing is always thought-provoking and honest (she will probably be honestly horrified to discover she’s “won” another award…she just got the Memetastic Award…more homework!).
I’m off to dust off a spot on the mantel…maybe we should get those fireplaces working again! 

73 Comments

Filed under blogging, friends, satire, self-discovery

Remembering Haiti…One Year Later…

My friend Kathy at Reinventing the Event Horizon, asked her blogging friends to post something for Haiti on the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake there.  Kathy and her partner, Sara, currently live in Haiti…Sara works for one of the aid organizations providing help to the survivors.

Back in 1967, my dad was a minister at a small Methodist church in Oregon, Ohio.  I was six at the time…I asked my father to write this post, but he felt that I hadn’t given him enough time to do a proper job of it…this comes from a short interview I conducted with him:

Some of Dad’s friends from seminary were making a trip to Haiti in order to experience the abject poverty they’d heard about there.  They invited he and my mom to go with them.

My younger brother and I were sent to stay with some family friends, and my parents set off (with 3 or 4 other people) in our 1965 Chevy for Miami.  They survived their first-ever plane ride, landing safely in Port-au-Prince at the tiny airport.  Before the trip, the travellers had contacted local doctors and dentists and solicited donations of their free samples, and collected cotton clothing from whoever they could hit up…the goods were loaded on to an Air Force plane for delivery to Haiti.

The 13-person delegation (mostly couples and one single) was met by its host, a man from Indiana who had been doing relief work in Haiti for a number of years.  While they were there, this man was summoned for a meeting with “Papa Doc” (the Haitian dictator) – this caused a fair amount of concern among the visitors, but it turned out all right.  Papa Doc’s secret police, known locally as the Tonton Macoutes (from a Creole term for bogeyman), patrolled the streets in their WWII army fatigues, their sidearms in prominent view.  Dad reports that there was no trouble with them while he was there. 

The group was taken to a hotel, which would be its home for the next week.  According to my dad, the hotel was “nothing fancy”…he grew up in rural Ohio without indoor plumbing…I would imagine it was fairly rudimentary if that’s how he described it!  He said that the electrical wiring was just attached to the walls of the hotel rooms (there were flush toilets, however!).  The group was warned not to drink the water, or eat local fruits and vegetables.  They ate all their meals at the hotel, and were surprised at the end of their stay to find that a young man who looked about eighteen had been their “chef” for the week!  Sleeping was challenging…the locals would carry on vodou (the Haitian national religion) rituals late at night…my parents would often hear the chanting and the drums, something they’d never been exposed to in Ohio!

Dad and Mom travelled with the others when leaving the hotel…it was the only safe way.  There were kids begging everywhere, and young people with pencils or chalk and paper who offered to draw a picture for money.  “You could get anything for a dollar,” says Dad.  There were open air markets where my parents purchased a large drum, two smaller ones, a small wooden statue, a large wooden mask, and wooden figurines of a Haitian man and woman to put on the wall (I still have those today).  These items were all handmade.  Most Haitians they encountered were very dark-skinned and very poor…they lived in “whatever they could scrabble together”.  The average income at the time was less than $200 annually.  The mulattoes (mixed black and white) are the privileged class in Haiti, and live in neighbourhoods with houses similar to what you would see in Miami.

One of the group’s excursions was touring the new Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince, which had been opened by International Child Care that year to treat children with tuberculosis.  My mom was shocked to see three babies sharing a bed.  My dad says the smell in the facility was unbelievable.  There were also a couple of scary trips to the rural areas around the city on a rickety bus.  Dad recounts that they visited a house where one woman cared for about 70 orphans.  “She had a couple of women there to help her.”  The group attended a church service conducted in a three-walled structure: “There was no fourth wall…it was so warm there, they didn’t need one,” says Dad.

While they were in Haiti, my parents took more than a hundred slides, and made tape recordings of some of the things they’d heard.  The experience was life-changing for both of them.  When they came back home to Ohio, they presented their “Haiti Programme” to local people, who were moved by the photos of children with pot bellies and insects crawling on their faces, to donate money to Haitian relief efforts (many children did not live until their fifth birthday because of malnutrition).

Fast forward to 2011…it doesn’t seem that much has changed in Haiti since my parents travelled there more than 40 years ago.  The people there are probably worse off now…they are still dealing with corrupt politicians, natural disasters, haphazard infrastructure, high unemployment, low literacy, malnutrition, and now AIDS and cholera epidemics. 

I don’t have the answers…I hope this post will move my readers to think about what they can do to help alleviate some of the suffering in Haiti.

24 Comments

Filed under blogging, memories