Tag Archives: events

total eclipse of the sun

IMG_6854

Our big summer blockbuster this year happened in the sky overhead. (I desperately want to use the phrase) all the stars aligned and we were able to witness totality about an hour west of the city on a nearly cloudless August afternoon. We sent an invitation out to all the family offering up a place to stay and food to eat and, fingers crossed, a great spot for viewing. The cousins were all back in school, but the grandparents were up for the adventure.

IMG_6844

M and I debated our options for viewing for a few weeks – he had a few construction projects in the line of totality that might offer a place to park and picnic, or we thought we could just drive in the general direction and find a parking lot somewhere to hang out. But a random mention in a conversation on carpools landed us an invite to our friends’ family winery, and the rest is history. We nervously checked the weather forecast all weekend – the chance for clouds and rain kept increasing – but in the end, our spot was perfect. Hot, but perfect.

We arrived early and staked our claim on a picnic table in the shade, and then we set up our chairs for the view. Watching the moon slowly move its way across the sun was far more exciting than I thought it would be. Those glasses really worked! But the real treat was observing the changes as totality inched closer. The temperatures dropped 10-15 degrees, and the cicadas’ chorus began. From our seats we watched the approach of darkness across the valley in front of us and the 360 degree sunset all around us.

IMG_6867

Photographing totality was impossible with my phone, and I didn’t have the correct lens for my nicer camera. But I did think this one shot was cool – you can see the small “sun spot” in the bottom of the shot shows the glowing area where we first started to see Bailey’s Beads. Viewing the corona was really remarkable. Everyone took their glasses off and just stared. It’s something I’ll never forget.

IMG_6856

Reading American Eclipse beforehand was really fun. I still recommend it to everyone I talk to. Even if you only read Chapter 16 on Totality, it’s worth it.

32611296

And we bought these commemorative stamps from USPS for the occasion – plus I bought enough to use on my holiday cards this year. They used heat-activated ink for the first time ever on a stamp, so when you apply heat with you fingertip to the surface of the stamp the full eclipse reveals the surface of the moon before returning back to darkness. Really cool. I’ve framed a set for the gallery wall the girls and I are working on upstairs. 2017 was a summer to remember, for sure.

eclipzy

#changeforCHANGEinSTL – why we give

download
When I moved to St. Louis twenty years ago this fall, I was excited to move to a midsized Midwestern city with beautiful neighborhoods and museums and gardens and parks. I still remember looking for my first studio apartment, settling into the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood within walking distance of Washington University where I would complete my graduate studies in architecture two years later.

Even now I can distinctly remember many of those first conversations I had with St. Louisans. Oftentimes, within five minutes of meeting someone, I was already schooled on this city – where to live, where to eat, where to explore – and, where NOT to go. I knew about the Delmar Divide long before I ever signed that first lease or walked into my first classroom. St. Louis sized me up upon arrival and presented itself to me in a neat little compartmentalized package. There was an organization to this city, and rules that should be followed.

When I think back to those early days, I force myself to imagine a variety of responses that I could have had to those initial interactions regarding how this city draws its boundaries along racial lines. I could have been grateful for the free advice. I could have allowed that insider information to guide my future choices, to shape my social circles, to inform me as I moved out of academia and into my early adulthood. I could have drawn upon it when making that initial call to a realtor, or when we filled out that first application for kindergarten. I’m grateful for that buffer period that graduate school afforded me – it gave me the space to listen and observe and draw my own conclusions about how this region is divided and what my role in that division could be, for better or for worse.

I draw on the language that was used in my family growing up that pointed out or explained these institutional and historical patterns of segregation and racism. These weren’t always lengthy in-depth discussions – oftentimes they were just observations (and statements) of our privilege – when pulled over erroneously by a state trooper on a Florida highway, or when noticing the redline lending maps framed and displayed on the wall of my grandparents’ bank. They were snippets of history pointed out on our annual trips to visit family in the south, and sometimes they were more heated discussions following the vitriol spewed from a visiting pulpit.

I draw on the friendships that I had in my later high school years, in a majority white school, but within a relatively diverse tightknit group of students in the college track classes, conversations around academics and affirmative action and race. I draw on the experiences at a large public university in the south, the way my ears were listening, the very names on the buildings giving me pause and then a reason to dig deeper into the history of the institution. I draw deeply on the mentor relationships that I had in the summers of my undergraduate education – strong women who invited me into their circles and conversations that brought a level of awareness and openness that really pushed me in ways I needed to be pushed.

These conversations might seem like small things on paper – bits and pieces here and there, insignificant. But they weren’t. In a childhood that offered me plenty of mirrors – reflections of what talent and success and hard work and passion could look like for people that looked just like me – I was also given windows to a bigger story beyond the small towns where I lived and traveled and studied. I craved the world outside those windows and knew that the only way I could be part of that was to understand the role I play in how those barriers are either strengthened or weakened / replaced.

…..

Our family supports We Stories because we see it as an actionable extension of our family’s mission to live within, and learn from, diverse communities. We live in a hyper-segregated city and region, and research tells us that conversations about race and racism are not happening equally across the board. The most important thing that we can do for our two girls is to challenge this system of division by rooting ourselves in diverse communities, teaching them to notice the systems of power and priority within them, and arming them to work diligently at breaking down those systems that divide us.

And as a white family, that work begins first and foremost within our own home; it sits squarely on us. Supporting We Stories means supporting this work in living rooms and kitchen tables and bedtime rituals throughout our region. The work can feel small in the moment, but I am a firm believer that those conversations are vital and lasting and important and necessary to changing the conversation in St. Louis. It challenges those very rules that were presented to me twenty years ago as a new arrival. It sets the stage for a more equitable future in the city where my girls were born. They will be the ones greeting newcomers to this place one day. I believe in them and the new story they will tell.

I hope you’ll join our family in supporting We Stories today.

#changeforCHANGEinSTL

Celebrate and learn more during this Give STL Day on the We Stories Facebook Page.

five things

I’m currently feeling pretty overwhelmed about the next three weeks. I thought I might take five minutes to write about five things currently going on in my life, and then take a deep breath afterwards. (So I don’t go bananas.)

img_2670

1. Saturday is the Foodie Feast / Beer Dinner that we participate in every fall. We had a trial run with the group the weekend before last, and everything was so good. I’m on deck for some baking. I have to make 50+ brioche slider buns. I did a trial run and they were well received, so I’m feeling pretty good about that, but it’s still four batches to manage – all that proofing and kneading. I’m also in charge of the baked portion of dessert, so I need to make a dense banana bread – one strong enough to withstand being thrown on a grill, and then topped with an oatmeal stout whipped cream and grilled, caramelized banana. I figure that’s seven loaves minimum, and I’ve got a few dozen bananas ripening in paper bags on my counter as we speak.

2. Both sets of grandparents are also arriving on Saturday because Monday morning is Grandparents Breakfast! This will be the NINTH year that we’ve had grandparents attend. What a gift that is, honestly. I got teary eyed thinking about it the other day. I think it’s because I’ve been missing my grandparents a lot lately. All these projects we’ve been working on – I know they would have enjoyed hearing about them and studying them if they were still here.

3. Excitement about the grandparents aside… I have to host the event, so there’s all that kind of organization going on. And then, Open House at the school right on the heels of the breakfast! I feel like I have list upon list upon list right now, and I’m already not getting enough sleep. (Blaming the debates and late night comedy shows to help me process the current state of politics for that.)

4. Speaking of politics – tell me you are registered to vote! If not, do it today or tomorrow – registration is closing in most states this week. And then clear your calendar for November 8th.

5. Conditional Use Hearing – coming up on the 27th. The sign is up, the agenda is in hand. I’ve been collecting some additional backup support this week, just in case. Hoping to report that it’s smooth sailing, and that November will be a big month for our project. I’ve already got my holiday card idea in mind, and hopefully I can pull it off. (And it’s related to this project, big surprise.)

img_2645-1

Five minutes, I did it. What’s keeping you busy, or up late, this October? I miss our chats.