Rochester NY or The Place To Be

Sunday, 18 March 2012, 16:31 | Category : art, coffee, equality, feminisim, rachacha
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“I’m a pixie, I’m a paper doll, I’m a cartoon” Ani Difranco

Music has always had an effect on me. It brings memories rushing to the surface, good and bad. When my iPod shuffles to an Ani D song that I have not heard in a while, most likely my thoughts will turn to Rochester, NY.

This past week, there was a flower show in the “flower city” and a few people that I follow on twitter were in attendance. In an attempt to make sure they enjoyed their visit, I suggested a few establishments to peruse while off from the show. Unfortunately, they were unable to visit these places, but I want to highlight them here, for future visitors to one of my favourite cities. Even though I retuned to Buffalo, NY, for work, I still miss Rochester and hope that the writer and I will be able to return some day and make our life work there.

In the meantime, we are only an hours drive away from some great restaurants, art galleries, film houses and cafes. Here is a sampling of some great places to see the next time you visit RaChaCha.

Those of you that know me probably figure that the first place I will talk about is Java’s on Gibbs. This is one of my favourite places to hang out while visiting, but the last time the writer and I were in town we found a place that I enjoyed even more, amazingly enough. That place was Boulder Coffee Company on Alexander Street. The atmosphere was very relaxing and the coffee was wonderful. I did not get that usual acidic reaction, like I do at Javas, where I have to quickly reach for my papaya tablets to fend of agita. I was able to drink the whole cup without incident and the sandwich was extra yum. I did not feel like I was in the way, as I usually do at Java’s, since the tables and chairs were set up in a good proximity to one another.

Let me stop for a moment to talk about this phenomenon of feeling “in the way”. This is something that women have to deal with, on a conscious or unconscious basis, daily. Men do not seem to have this issue, usually. This relates to the power dynamics that still persist in our society. Men are looked upon as being powerful, and this is normalized, by taking up as much space as they need and want. Women, for the most part, often strive to make themselves smaller. Either through the crossing of legs, the squeezing into girdles and spanx, or by not eating to become smaller mass-wise. These are ways in which women have had to live in order to not make a “spectacle” of the themselves. When a woman sits “like a man” with legs uncrossed she is either given dirty looks, in order to make her comply, or she is looked upon as “masculine” as if this is a bad thing. The norm, in American society, is for men to be in power and women to be subordinate. Even in these days of feminism and moving toward equality, these ideals still persist, under the surface. They rise up at times to push women back into their proverbial cubbyholes and, in essence, keep them in line with the norms. Two steps forward, one step back. This is the plight of feminism in the 21st century. I will continue this in my next post, on Ren Faires, so stay tuned. In the meantime, back to Rochester…

A place that the writer and I love to eat is on Park Avenue. Actually, there are two favourite places on Park. The first is Hogan’s Hideaway and the second, Magnolia’s. Hogan’s has the best Reubens and Crabcake sandwiches that we have had and the beer selection is sufficient. We enjoy hanging out in the bar area or sitting in the dining room as the atmosphere of both spaces is very relaxed.

Magnolias has the best paninis and pizzas in town and a great selection of craft beers to drink with lunch or to take home in six pack form. While living in Corn Hill, the writer and I made the effort to visit Magnolias many times. The service there is very homey and the food is fantastic. The seating is not the most comfortable, but the summer months bring one of the best patios in the city, well worth the trip.

If brunch is more your style, Jines is the place to be. Also on Park Avenue, this establishment has the BEST stuffed French toast you will find in the city. A few other diner locations, such as Gitsie’s, Jay’s, or Mark’s all serve awesome breakfasts, but for brunch I would definitely recommend Jine’s. Even if there is a wait to be seated, it is well worth it.

Leaving behind food and drink, let me tell you about a few entertainment venues that are not to be missed while visiting RaChaCha. If you are looking to see a great indie film, the Little Theatre on East Avenue, is the place to be. The Cinema, on South Clinton at South Goodman, offers low prices for second run movies and a great old theatre to view them in. This theatre was, and most likely still is, home to the R.I.T. Film studies program senior project screenings. The writer’s classmates had their senior screenings here and it was the perfect venue for these events.

The George Eastman House is a great tour to take while visiting and if you time it right, you can also partake in a screening of an old or indie film. Just wandering the house and gift shoppe are a great way to spend the afternoon. The second floor has a very interesting, although morbid, case that tells a bit of the George Eastman history that is not to be overlooked. Eccentric and fabulously wealthy, George Eastman was nothing if not ostentatious and this tour proves it.

As museums go, the Memorial Art Gallery has an excellent collection to view. Located on University Avenue, it is connected to the University of Rochester and houses several collections of fine and craft arts. For the kids, the Strong Museum of Play is a great place to spend an afternoon. Many interactive displays are present and will keep the kids and the adults busy.

If walking is what you enjoy, Rochester boasts several parks and recreational areas right in the city limits. A favourite, from my time living in the city, was Highland Park. Movies in the park are put on at the Highland Bowl in the summer months, as well as Shakespeare in the Park. The Lilac Festival is held here in mid-May each year and the lilacs themselves are a wonderful addition to any walk through the park. An afternoon in the park with a journal to write in, a good book to read, or an excellent cup of coffee can make any week more enjoyable.

For live theatre buffs, the best place in the city is the Geva Theatre. Celebrating the 40th season this year, the Geva has been putting on excellent regional theatre productions since 1972. If you are looking for a great performance, look no further than the Geva. For great live bands, the place to visit is the Bug Jar, on Monroe Avenue. This venue hosts dj nights as well and, if nothing else, it is worth a trip for a beer and a gander at the “bug fan”.

I hope that you enjoy your next visit to Rochester. Writing about it has made me want to pack up the car and get away. Maybe next weekend, see you there!

Peace and happy day tripping,
Chantale aka hippiegrrl

The Girl Scouts Turn 100

Monday, 12 March 2012, 12:08 | Category : Uncategorized
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This past weekend was highly eventful for me. I participated in a project, that I will discuss in the future, that I hope will finally bring justice and closure to decades old issues in the city of Niagara Falls. It might not be the magic bullet, but it could certainly be the spark that ignites peoples curiosity and unites those that need to be united for the cause. This is cryptic, but I promise to tell everyone about it in more detail, later on. Right now, I want to discuss something that is near and dear to my heart. The Girl Scouts.

In discussing my childhood over the weekend, I realized that there was much turmoil, but there were also a few rays of light that guided me to become a wonderful human being. Girl Scouts was certainly one of those things. Being a troop member and working together with other girls to solve problems and complete badge tasks gave me a greater sense of who I could be in the future. It was a wonderful way to instill confidence and pride in myself through hard work and diligence. Girl Scouts taught me that if I worked hard I could do anything and that nothing in life is beyond reach, no matter what. Being a girl/woman would not, and never should, hold me back from doing anything.

On this 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, I think it is fitting that we say THANK YOU to the woman who began it all – Juliette Gordon Low. A wonderful lady that saw a need and filled it. Creating the Girl Scouts of America was just the beginning of her fight for the rights of girls and women everywhere. She continued to be a champion for womens issues, and the Girl Scout organization has grown to mammoth proportions, serving not just America, but countries worldwide.

In the latest Girl Scout campaign, the ads talk about ways in which EVERYONE can give girls a chance so that we can make sure that we gain equality. This is a great campaign and hopefully it pushes forward the notion that girls/women really CAN do anything and there should be no obstacles in the path of greatness.

Today, I am wearing my Girl Scout pin, in solidarity with girls across the country and around the world. To show support for one of the best organizations in our country and a great legacy of work for girls. 2012 has been deemed the “year of the girl” by the Girl Scouts of America and we need to keep that up moving in to 2013, 2014, 2015, and beyond!

And for the haters out there, spewing the vile garbage about the Girl Scouts, you can take your rhetoric and stick it where the sun don’t shine. Conservative “christians” can often take a position that is silly in order to further their own agenda. Going after the Girl Scouts is not only humourous, but odd and base. We, as former Girl Scouts, must stand arm and arm with our fellow scouts and say “no!” to these attacks. Show, with confidence and courage, that the Girl Scouts are the best organization for girls in this country and that without this organization we would not have the small bit of equality that we have obtained so far.

So, let us celebrate the good that Girl Scouts have done for girls and women over the years and focus on the future. Equality is out there to be won, we just have to continue struggling toward it!

Peace and Happy Activism!
Chantale aka hippiegrrl

appropriate links:
Women, girls herald Scouting’s 100th anniversary
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace site
On Monumental 100th Anniversary, Girl Scouts of the USA Commits to Building Girl Leadership in the Next Century

New Year New You

Wednesday, 15 February 2012, 14:29 | Category : motivate, new leaf, positivity
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I never attempt to make resolutions. I feel they are a waste of time. Something to dwell on that usually disappoints in the end. Instead, I prefer to make goals. I suppose goals are resolutions cloaked in the costume of positivity, but they always seem more attainable. Resolutions have the pressure of one year, while goals have a forward motion. They can be completed within the new year or they can be ongoing, in perpetuity.

When I graduated from my first bachelors program at buffalo state, in 1997, I made my first, hand written, goal list. A five year plan. Before that, I had myriad lists dealing with everything from simple daily tasks to my ultimate goals. They were usually in my head and sometimes committed to a piece of paper in my journal. Always hand written and erasable, they were fluid. A business idea here and a song idea there. Ever changing and evolving. These lists were little reminders to keep breathing. To keep pushing forward. Without the little daily lists I may have just stayed in bed every morning and not bothered to try anything.

The first official, hand written, proper list had pieces of furniture on it. All the things I needed and wanted for my very first apartment. This sounds odd for me to consider as my first true goal list, but I really believe it was. It was written by my friend, over coffee, as we discussed the things we were going to bring from our homes and the things we would need to buy. It was three pages long and listed so many items that we would have never been able to fit everything into an apartment the size of which we could actually afford to pay the rent on, monthly.

I was reminded of this list while cleaning out boxes in my “office” on the weekend. I found it in a box with mementos from my longest running career and old wall hangings from my room in my parents house. It was stuffed in a folder next to pages of writing for an old ‘zine that I attempted to write and distribute on campus. Cackling from the depths of the box, it mocked me. Look at me! I am your first list! I am the one that got away! I am the reason you are still in Buffalo! I was your way out and you stuffed me in a folder to be stuffed in a box to be found 15 years later to create a lamenting! Why have you forsaken me so? If only you would have made it work. If only you would have packed up your room, bought a few items from me and moved in with your friend’ you might be further along now.

This is an interesting thing to think about. If you could go back in time and take a different path, would you? If you did, what would change? In the case of this list, I would have moved in with my friend, who was the reason I met my husband. So the writer would still be in the picture. I would have learned a earlier about feminism and sociology. I would have worked at a coffeehouse, instead of a bank. I would have most likely went back to school earlier and by now I would be at the end of my phd road, rather than the beginning. All these things could have been or it could have been the opposite. I could have not been able to afford rent and moved back in with my parents. Having been defeated, I would have probably still applied at teletech and worked there for two years, restarting the same history, but two years later, putting me two more years behind on that phd. So it could go either way. The best thing to do is to be thankful for what I have and move forward. Make a plan to become a sociology professor and go for it. Make it work anyway that I can. Scrimp and save, beg and borrow, and get to the end point.

So this brings me back to my goal list. For 2012 and beyond, here are the things I would like to accomplish, moving forward.

– get a new job
– start a masters program, leading to a phd
– move to north buffalo, temporarily, to save money

That is enough for now. This list should grow over the next few months and years to encompass my future. We shall see how it goes. Positivity is the key!

Peace,
Chantale aka hippiegrrl

The Holidays and Gender Roles

Thursday, 12 January 2012, 21:00 | Category : culture, feminisim, holidays, life, sociology
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Studying Sociology has become a double edged sword for me. Over the holiday season, my sense of gender roles and norms becomes heightened. Most of the time I have to keep my mouth shut and ‘go with the flow’, but sometimes I decide that I want to engage in a conversation that will hopefully lead to a better understanding for everyone concerned. This is how I know that I should probably be a professor, but that is for another post. This post is about how people can be one way in their day to day life and then the holidays come, we meet up with family and friends that we do not see daily and things go back to the way they previously were.

I am sure that everyone out there has a story about how the holidays bring out a different side of people. But, what if the side that it brings out is actually the regular, day to day, side and we only experience it at this time of year? When you rarely see an individual, you lose the feel for their personality. In some instances this can be good, but it is a shock to the system when you have to deal with each other for hours at a time. Thinking about this situation can bring up many things. Memories that have been washed of melancholy and are now shiny little examples of what we crave around the holidays. We forget the fighting and the strife and focus on the good. This may be good for the psyche, but in the long run it makes it more difficult to function year to year.

By letting the past stand as a beacon of what the holidays should be, we lose sight of what is real. We try to make everything perfect, to make it match up to our expectations of what can be based on what was. And in this, we fail to see the difficulty that falling back into our previous roles can cause. When gender roles are so tied up in the way that we function, in these situations, it makes things tense. In even the most enlightened family situations sometimes those gender norms sneak up and bite us.

When we interact with different divisions of our family, we may slide backwards when it comes to things we are willing to do to keep the peace. On a normal day, one might be a staunch feminist, but when faced with a holiday, feminism might be put on the back burner. This is a disservice to the holiday season! Better to make it a learning experience. After all, when are you going to get all these people together again? It really is a great platform for dispelling gender norms and for subverting the roles that we often fall into.

So, how do we do this? It may be difficult, but it has to be done. Sometimes there are gender norms already being subverted that you can point out as a starting place. In my family, my mother does the bulk of the planning, my parents go shopping together, my mom cooks the meal and my dad washes the dishes. Although there are still a few gender norms being practiced here, there are also a couple being subverted. 50 years ago (or yesterday, in some places) the mother in this scenario would have done everything listed above, while the dad merely poured drinks and sat in the living room enjoying family and friends. The ladies would have spent the majority of the time in the kitchen; cooking, cleaning and sometimes even eating, away from the family. Yes we have come a long way, but we cannot merely rest on our laurels. We need to continue talking, dispelling, subverting and fighting until there are no gender norms. On the day that we no longer hear the words “that is women’s work” or “this is a mans job” uttered we will finally be equal and free of the constraints that come with being cast in a mold of social and cultural making.

Until next time, good luck in your fight, fellow feminists! We can go further together than we ever could alone so keep it up!

Peace and happy subverting,

Chantale aka hippiegrrl

The Holiday Rush

Sunday, 18 December 2011, 1:42 | Category : holidays, localism
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During my time writing for Backwash (Hippiegrrl Explains It All – archived here), I wrote many posts on holiday shopping and alternatives to giving store bought, big box stuff. Over the years, the writer and I have tried many alternative ways of shopping (or not shopping) for the holidays. Taking the handmade pledge, pushing ourselves and others to buy local, participating in buy nothing day and culminating in an actual buy nothing christmas in 2010. The underlying urge to change the holiday season has been pushed along by our economic status, but the outcome has made the holidays more enjoyable.

Instead of focusing on buying tons of things and rushing around at the last minute, we have been able to take a step back and breathe. Here are a few ideas that we have come up with that you might like to try. They will make your holiday season more meaningful and less stressful. And after all, shouldn’t spending time with family and friends during this time of year really be the priority anyway?

– Framing a picture that I find in my collection and wrapping it up for someone whom it will be meaningful.
– Baking a batch of cookies and packaging them up in a lovely way for the receiver.
– Making a piece of jewellery that is one-of-a-kind and speaks to the style of the person who will wear it.
– Giving a donation to a charitable organization in the name of the person receiving the gift.
– Creating a coupon book of your time. Each coupon gives the receiver the ability to cash in on your time. For example – “this coupon entitles you to 1 hour of help in your garden!”

The best part of the holidays, by far, is the ability to gather with loved ones and friends. That is my favourite gift of all. The gift of time spent with people that enjoy each others company. If we could all have more of that, the whole year could be a lot better.

Enjoy your holiday season and try to remain as stress-free as possible. Remember that it isn’t about what you give or receive. The memories that are made are priceless.

Peace – Chantale

from the archives – here we go… 26 november 2007

Monday, 28 November 2011, 20:22 | Category : buffalo, elmwood, holidays, localism
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The holiday season is here. Black Friday (or Buy Nothing Day as we like to celebrate it) has come and gone and we are left with images of crazed shoppers trampling each other on the way into the local Wal-Mart. Highly motivated, yes, but for the right reasons?

In an attempt to make a difference this holiday season, we are going to pledge to purchase handmade items. This pledge will be made through an online group called, interestingly enough, buyhandmade.org. This group is just what the activist ordered. A way to buy products that are produced by the seller. A way to know beyond a shadow of doubt that the products you are purchasing are made by artisans in good working conditions.

Let me back track a bit and explain why this handmade pledge has been made:

– Over the past few years the production for products sold in the US has been largely shipped overseas.
– Products made in foreign countries do not undergo the same scrutiny that products in the US do.
– Working conditions in foreign countries are not monitored in the same way that working conditions in the US are.
– Buying handmade goods will insure that the products purchased were made by the seller under good working conditions.
– We hate malls.
For the reasons above:

We Pledge To Buy Handmade!

Buying handmade isn’t the only pledge I took this holiday season. Buying local is another promise I hope to fulfill. If it works out that I can somehow buy local AND handmade that would be the tops! I’ll follow up in the coming weeks to show my progress and give you some insight into specific reasons for shopping local and handmade. In the meantime – happy shopping! Just remember that people are more important than things. That should be the force that drives you this holiday season, while looking for the perfect expression of love and gratitude for your friends and family members.

Peace!
Hippiegrrl

here are my three favourite local shoppes on the elmwood strip – check them out!
Spoiled Rotten – [where: 831 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222]
Everything Elmwood – [where: 740 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222]
Clutch – [where: 814 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14222]

Keep Your Mouth Shut and Work On

Tuesday, 22 November 2011, 11:52 | Category : career, critique, positivity
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A series of revelations have come to me over the past few weeks. I used to think that looking at a job as being “beneath me” was something that I should never do. That I could never be too good for anything. While this is most certainly true for most things in life, it is not necessarily true about work. Having been told that I should feel “lucky to have a job”, I felt more degraded than humbled. An additional straw was added when I was asked a direct question and before I could answer was told “no smart remarks, just answer the question”. Alright then.

With that, I have finally decided that I AM too good for a specific job. I am WAY too good for this job. I have realized that I AM above it. Being overqualified for a position is fine in the short run, but when you have been doing that same job for over a year, it starts to get old. When people start to get tired of your smartass remarks and tell you so, it might be time to move on.

The archive that I posted today was about coffee and how much we love it. Also – it deals with fair trade and good business practices. Due to my interest in these types of things and my overwhelming need to not be a corporate slob, I have decided that I will do whatever it takes to get out of my current situation. If that means that I have to give up my cellphone, I will. If that means that I have to sell cd’s, dvd’s, books, clothes, electronics, etc. to make a little bit to afford my rent, I will. If I have to take my beads out and turn my hobby into a part time job, I will. Anything to get off the corporate treadmill that is slowly sucking the life out of me.

Up until today everything was okay. It was not fantastic, but it was okay. As of today, it is no longer okay and I am going to actively do something about it. Although I was trying to stick it out, I see there is just no longer any point in doing that. There is no point in trying to make things work when the individuals around you make it super difficult to stay positive and be yourself.

In the end that is all I want to be – true to myself. True to my values, thoughts, feelings, aspirations and understanding of the world around me. Free to be who I am without being told to tone it down or modify my behaviour. Out from under the thumb of corporate culture. Away from this world of misery for a paycheck.

Peace and happy job hunting!
Chantale

appropriate links:
looking for a job?
monster
career builder
indeed
snag a job
mashable jobs
simply hired

from the archives – we love coffee! 11 october 2007

Tuesday, 22 November 2011, 11:12 | Category : activism, archives, coffee, fair trade, localism
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coffee is one of the best reasons to get up in the morning. at least that is how i feel about it. it was quite easy for me to become addicted to this liquid while working in a cafe. one free pound of beans per week and as much coffee as i could ingest during my shift was enough to get me hooked. who wouldn’t get addicted?

at that time, in the mid-late 90’s, i must admit that i was pretty much in the dark about coffee. i knew nothing about fair trade, shade grown or bird friendly coffee. i didn’t realize the effect that the coffee i was drinking had on people in hot climates picking beans for less than $1.00 per pound.

then one day the mail came and there was a coffee trade magazine in the mix. since we weren’t that busy i decided to sit and read up on the coffee industry. i came across this great article about an organization called “coffee kids”. their mission was simple –

to help coffee-farming families improve the quality of their lives.

reading on in the article i learned the following –

•Coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world economy, after oil.
•The global coffee industry $60 billion annually. Coffee farmers earn as little as 4 cents a pound for the coffee they pick by hand.
•For every pound of gourmet coffee sold, small-coffee farmers receive between 12¢ and 25¢.
•25 million families around the world work in the coffee-fields and totally depend on the coffee crop as their only source of income.

these statistics are mind boggling, considering we were selling pounds of coffee at our cafe for anywhere from $9-$15 per pound (and even higher for types such as kenya aa ($25/pound) and jamaica blue mountain ($30/pound). after reading the article, i spoke to our district manager to find out if there was any way that we could start looking into fair trade coffee. i was told to speak to the owner of the cafe i worked for. a few days later i had a conversation with our owner and was told that fair trade coffee was too expensive. this answer coming from a lady that drove around in a bmw and lived in a good size home while paying her own employees well below the standard for baristas in the coffeehouse industry. i’m not sure where i thought i would get with my suggestion, but i had hoped to see a little bit of goodwill on the part of the company i worked for.

needless to say, this was the beginning of the end for me at that particular coffee establishment. it was sort of the last straw to find that my employer wouldn’t even consider something that would make the company better global citizens and, in the long run, help many people in need. fair trade is important. it saves lives and mends families.

if you are a coffee drinker (or tea totaller, cocoa consumer or chocolate fanatic) please consider buying fair trade for these products. whenever you visit your favourite coffeehouse be sure to ask for fair trade products. if each of us does our part to keep up the push on these coffee places, eventually everyone will carry the best and most conscious products available. and believe me, the cup of coffee that you know helped the whole supply chain better their lives is the best cuppa java you will ever sip!

peace – hippiegrrl

links of use for this topic…

frankenbucks campaign from organic consumers
fair trade federation
global exchange
make trade fair from oxfam international

where to find fair trade products in Buffalo and Rochester –
Lexington Co-Operative Market
Abundance Co-Operative Market
One World Goods
The Coffee Connection
Java’s
Lori’s Natural Foods

If I Were a Roller Disco Queen

Saturday, 19 November 2011, 20:50 | Category : history, nostalgia
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I always say that I want to live in the seventies, but I never explain why. There are many reasons, and so I will be sharing a series of pieces on things I love from the seventies. The first of these is the roller rink… Enjoy and please come back soon to see the next installment!

Now, as you know, I was born in 1974, which actually makes me a child of the 80’s. I did most of my roller skating in the 80’s, but wish I could have been around for the roller disco days. I would have loved to be on a roller disco team, skating to hits of the 70’s. I mean, Xanadu was one of my favourite movies as a kid, so you see where this obsession might come from.

When I attended church (way back when) the youth group used to take us to the Rainbow Roller Rink, in Tonawanda, NY, to skate. I had a pair of roller skates that were mine, but they wouldn’t let me use them there so I had to rent with everyone else. A bit like bowling, if only for the shared footwear.

Here were a few key elements of skate night – rolling up to the snack bar to buy french fries with malt vinegar (good thing that writerchaz was not around then, he would have never chatted me up), ladies choice, trying to partner skate but failing miserably, almost making it into a competition but being yanked out by the mini christian coalition that gave us the bus ride to the event, and trying to pee in a bathroom with ceramic tiled floors – what a silly thing to do to the kids with the skates.

If it were the seventies I would have been able to wear awesome skate outfits (covered in rainbows) and skate semi-professionally on a local team. I would have skated to disco hits and won trophies for my efforts. I would have dated a roller disco guy and found secret areas of the roller rink to make out during “all skate” or “ladies choice”. Instead, I had the 80’s, cleancut christian version of roller skating. We could barely hold hands without one of the chaperones skating up and breaking our grasp. The boys were not too good on their feet, so most of the time the girls would skate in groups. It was fun and boring at the same time. The songs were all 80’s hits, since this was after the point at which disco was announced to be dead. I did learn how to skate backwards, so that was cool.

If only I could have been born 10 years earlier, I would have been a roller disco queen.

Peace – Chantale

Something fun:

from the archives – the holiday spirit – 13 november 2008

Saturday, 19 November 2011, 20:13 | Category : archives, holidays
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Now that my birthday is over (and it was lovely I might add) I am ready to move on to the other November holiday. I bet you thought (judging from the title) that this was going to be a post about the December holiday season. Well – you were wrong! Before we start shopping for Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa we need to celebrate Thanksgiving. I realize that each year the Holiday shopping season begins earlier and earlier, but I like to wait until 1 December to shop. That’s just me. Maybe you are different. Either way – let’s talk turkey instead!

This year we are spending Thanksgiving with my side of the family. My mother will be cooking the bulk of the food, but I will be baking my yearly pumpkin twist cookies. I use a recipe that I have modified from this book – Halloween: 101 Frightfully Fun Ideas. I say modified because I don’t bother with all the additional decorating. They are good with just the pumpkin and vanilla twisted together and don’t really need additional sugar to make them tasty. Although these cookies are a big hit I do like to help in other ways as well.

Last year (when I was working) I ran a turkey drive at my place of business. We raised a bit of money and bought 2 dozen turkeys to give out. Our Helping Hands committee chose two worthy recipient organizations and a couple days before thanksgiving we dropped off the frozen turkeys. It was a great thing to do for the two groups and it also helped us to feel good about the Thanksgiving season.

People tend to gloss over Thanksgiving because it gets in the way of their December Holiday shopping season, but I really feel that we all need to take a moment and think about what Thanksgiving means. What are we thankful for? What we can do to make our world (locally and globally) a better place? What was the original Thanksgiving feast about and how can we carry on a more equal and honest celebration? How do we undo the mistakes of the past and move to a better future? These are things to think about at Thanksgiving and beyond. Before you rush out to the stores to fight with other customers for the “latest holiday item” be sure to reflect on the season and what thankfulness really means.

Peace and Happy Autumn!

Chantale

appropriate links:

– Looking for great baking ideas and recipes? Check out Bakerella or Cakespy or I Heart Cuppycakes!
– How about party planning and/or host(ess)ing? Try Hostess with the Mostess
– Mahalo.com is a good source for How to Cook a Turkey.
– The “mother” of all party planners – Martha Stewart gives ideas for a perfect Thanksgiving!
– Not Martha Stewart, but still interesting and fun – not martha.