Photo: My little Destruction Bears figured out that the beach chairs can function as more than just seating devices. They can be fun toys! Suddenly, little boys need to collapse the chairs on themselves or on their brother. It was madness. Hilarious madness.

I was up at 4:30 this morning baking cinnamon buns and sewing. The cinnamon buns served many purposes: satisfy a craving, get me up early, and even do something nice for someone else. While my husband and boys certainly benefited from my work this morning, I really made the buns for the preschool teachers. “It’s been a pretty busy week! I figured ya’ll earned some sugar!”

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I dropped off the pyrex full of sweet goodness, then I hopped in the car and crossed the town border to leave a loaf of oatmeal bread for my pastor at church. I was supposed to host her here at the house on Wednesday, but she cancelled last minute. “And I was so looking forward to that bread. :(” So, I baked her a loaf anyway. She wasn’t expecting it. I dropped it off with a note: “With warmth and well wishes. –K”

This was one of those weeks when it would have been so much easier and more efficient for me to keep my head down, keep working on my projects and withdraw. School has been intense. Church is cold and strange and uncomfortable. I miss the hum and rhythm of familiar voices far away from here.

My Quiet Thoughts are on expressions of warmth. The things we do simply because we can and we want to, for people who we care about. I’m thinking about how, even when I don’t feel a full connection to this community, or always feel welcome or understood, I still find myself giving and feeling better for it. I am actively wondering if this is a healthy sort of action and coping mechanism, or if, eventually, I’ll hit a wall. A hard, immovable, immobilizing wall.

There is a macro and a micro to my internal conversation. The micro being just as I say–The boys love their time at preschool, and they are having the preschool experience that I really hoped they would. But I don’t feel like I have the greatest relationship with their teachers. It’s professional enough, but I know that they think I’m too hard on them and that I expect too much too soon. It has made for a few awkward and uncomfortable moments this year. As a mother, I’ve had times when I’ve wanted to assert myself more. I have wanted to express that, ultimately, my vision for what I want for my sons is what matters. But, as a former teacher, I have restrained myself, reminded myself that I respect the profession and that they are doing a great job teaching my boys. So, I got myself up this morning. Those women worked really hard this week, putting in two late nights and participating in a Saturday event tomorrow.  I remember the end-of-the-year pressure days when I was teaching. So I baked them cinnamon rolls. Not because they are my favorite people, but because I respect them and what they do.

The Macro comes from an article that I happened upon yesterday. There is much conversation about replacing racist, useless Andrew Jackson with courageous, awesome Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill. The article actually argues against doing this, stating that Harriet was fighting against everything that American Capitalism is and was, that she fought for her country by fighting its oppression and exclusion of her (and women like her).  To put her on the bill, the piece argues, would actually be an affront to her legacy. It would dishonor all of the work that she did.

I enjoyed the article because its points are excellent, but I thought after I read it, “if we Black women choose to divorce ourselves from all of the institutions that hurt us, we would simply stand alone in this world. Even from each other.” If we, in our rediscovery of our voices, the reclamation of our history and our assertion of our power, choose to abstain from everything in retribution for all of the past wrongs, don’t we, in essence, silence ourselves? By denying Harriet a prominent spot on the most powerful currency in the world, do we not deny her legacy, keeping it relegated to Black History Month, rushed lessons in elementary school, discussion tables at the Afro-American Studies department? I would think that Harriet would scream to be seen. See me, see what I did, see what it has done for you. Remember me, remember my time here, remember that today is your day to build on what I started for you.

Invisibility is so easy. It really is easy just to take it, to ignore and be ignored. There must be a middle road between the ostentatious and the marginalized. I am seeking it one baked good at a time. If, by extending a loaf of bread or a bun of butter and sugar, you see me and hear me, then I have done well. Sometimes the encounter is brief, but other times… I am learning that the simple extension of warmth, literal and figurative, echoes far longer than I could imagine. Even in the cold that is New England society!  If, by simply seeing her likeness on a $20, a person stops and wonders, remembers, or thinks (or wikis) about Harriet Tubman and her deeds, we have done well for her legacy.

To withdraw serves no purpose.

I sent in my story to Ploughshares yesterday. Of course, as soon as I did it (and sent a copy to a few choice people), I immediately regretted every word I put on the page and all of my life choices. I doubt I’ll win, but I can say that I gave it my best shot (whatever that is. However horrible that is!). The Auction is tomorrow and I am really hoping that the sleep sack sells well. Wish me luck, dear reader!

It is a Friday in mid-May and Massachusetts is, finally, in full leaf. Yards are green, smiles are on, and the sun is consistently warm. I hope that you were seen today, dear reader. That someone looked you in the eye, perhaps gave you a smile, and saw you for a moment. I hope that you saw someone else today, too, in their fullness. If you didn’t, if you haven’t, try to do so this weekend. I hope you find yourself reading this weekend, or staring out a window in appreciation of the new visual pallet. I wish you something fresh and light on a plate, or something brilliantly grilled by a master. I wish you two good stories: one you tell, and one you listen to. And I wish you a kiss on the cheek, dear reader, to remind you that you are loved, and by virtue of being so loved, you are never invisible.

Until Monday, take care.

 

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Oh… Mama loves her new toys…

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10 thoughts on “[Quiet Thoughts] Warm Bread Diplomacy

    • Thank you so much! Hope you are well! The weather is cooler, but we REALLY need rain! Just my luck: Finally have the money to join a CSA and then this is the year when we run a rain deficit upwards of 5 inches!! Not gonna get no crops! I totally jinxed it!!

      • No no
        You didn’t jinx it!!
        Just part of the CSA dance
        Sometimes crops fail
        Sometimes crops thrive
        First time I farmed on my own there was a hot, dry spell & a whole bed of radishes bolted – lovely to look at, little pink flowers
        Then I talked with a fellow farmer, large scale-tractor stylie CSA
        A whole half-acre of radishes bolted
        Entire half acre!
        He said it was lovely to look at

        Best thing about CSA model is that we all carry the burden & the blessing
        True community

        • I am delighted that we could invest in a CSA. We’ve gotten a letter from the staff already outlining their work, and I am like, “wow, that’s so much just so I can have egg plant. I don’t even LIKE egg plant.” But Lord knows I won’t waste it now, knowing how hard someone worked on it. I’m really looking forward to going down there, seeing real faces, shaking real hands… bringing the boys with me! It’s going to be amazing.

          I suppose there is some magic and luck involved in the growing, the thriving, the failing. It’s nice to be part of all of it. The tension will make the crops that much more tasty. 🙂

          • I’m super excited for you & your family!
            Eggplants are mysterious vegetables to me, since I’ve never been drawn to eating them…
            I promised myself that I would try this season to make Baba Ganoush or something tasty with eggplant.
            I hope it’s s welcoming experience for you at the farm & that you all enjoy it

  1. That was totally my argument against HT on the $. I feel it is beneath her and cheapens her memory.

    I would love it if the idealism of frequency and face recognition on the 20 were possible; but our currency is not the most powerful in the world, it is still used to enslave black people, and if you did a random interview on the street, who would even know Andrew Jackson? You could put Mickey Mouse on it for all people care. And when the 20’s rolled up to snort coke, buy a BJ, or stuck in a stripper’s asscrack…no, just no.

    She deserves something worthy of her courage. I’d like to keep looking.

    • If that’s the case, why put anyone on there? American history is messy and dirty, there are many bad guys and many more innocents. The money is what makes it work and also what makes it fail. Deciding that money’s impurity and American ignorance/apathy/entropy makes the $20 bill unworthy/ineligible for Harriet’s image feels a bit hollow to me. Could her image serve as elevation? A teaching tool? A simple significantly better alternative to Drewy Jackson greatest asshole of them all? The dead are memorialized in stone all around Washington, alongside memorials to legendary assholes great and small, fantastically and pedantically, should we not have put up a giant stone of MLK’s likeness among them simply because the company was poor, their legacies problematic?

      I’m just not sure we’re doing Harriet any favors by deciding that she is TOO good to get this sort of honor.

  2. I think your generosity and thoughtfulness probably means a lot to people, and they’ll remember that. One of the things I’ve appreciated most since I came to college is the random acts of kindness that happens — chocolate or encouraging messages left in my pigeonhole in the post room, for example, completely unexpectedly, just because somebody felt like doing something nice. Even when it’s something small, I appreciate it because it meant somebody thought of me. For you to bake things (sacrificing sleep in the process: I’m not a morning person at all, so that astounds me) because you think somebody would appreciate it probably means a lot to the recipients of your gifts.

    • What a lovely college to attend where people write notes and leave them in your mailbox!! I wanna go to a college like that!

      You’ve gotta get on this morning thing. It’s wonderful! The world is new and you get to choose what direction it goes in before anyone else! You get so much more done, you feel utterly accomplished as the sun sets… ahhhhhh… and if you can do it AND smell baking bread (The greatest of all known smells) then, I mean, come on, that’s paradise. PARADISE!

      • Haha, I’d like to be a morning person, really I would. But unfortunately I am all but completely nocturnal — I sleep longer and deeper in the middle of the afternoon than in the middle of the night, and I have no idea why. Maybe I’ll grow out of it…

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