Thursday, March 26, 2009

To Wrap or Not To Wrap . . . that's the question!

When I sighted (came to the knowledge) of RastafarI some years back my life completely changed. At some point, I'll talk about how that came to be but today I want to talk about an outgrowth of RastafarI: my appearance. For many years now, I have embraced modesty as the ideal for a RastafarI woman. What that means is that in public my hair is always covered (and if we have non-female visitors at the gates), wearing long skirts exclusively, and putting on no makeup amongst other things depending on the Rastawoman you ask. The point is that doing these things, we declare our rebellion and separation from the Babylon system which emphasizes and exploits a woman's physical body and her sexuality.

I've come a very long way these past few years and while I still identify as RastafarI, I'm hesitant to place a label on myself. After all, trodding in RastafarI, you come to find that there are so many different interpretations and understanding of what the trodition is and of who His and Her Majesty are and of what repatriation and Africa represents, it's difficult to point to something and say, "Yup, that's RastafarI." It used to be that you could see a bredren with bongo natty and say, "One blessed Love" with a hand over your heart and be greeted in kind. These days, you might get a bewildered look.

In any case, it's fairly easy, generally speaking, to tell a Rasta sistren because of how she looks, particularly because she would have her natty wrapped up usually on the top of her head or have some other head covering to cover her natty. (She might be wearing red, gold and green buttons or pictures of His and Her Majesty too.) If you've been following this blog since I started it last year, you know the struggles I have had with my hair. It has been kind of traumatic in ways that I can't fully express but that have to do with not being able to physically manifest such an important symbol (to me) of my spiritual trod: dreadlocks. When I started to lock up after I sighted FarI, I was determined to have 7 big congo natty locks like Samson. (Babylon take that!) Never happened. Right now, I have not one lock. I wear a low boy (took it down from a caesar) and I can't imagine ever attempting to lock up again. It's difficult, to be sure. I so would like to rock a lovely wrap full of cascading, organic locks. I've crocheted so many lock caps and custom hair nets for sistren and bredren with waist long (or longer) locks. I've looked forward with sincerest anticipation to the day when I'd be crocheting my own. I chuckle because back when I was brand new to Rasta, I would stuff my wraps with fabric just waiting for the day, faking it till I made it. These days, I hardly bother with intricate wraps (although recently I've started making the effort again) and I'm finding it even harder to keep up a Rastawoman appearance.

In snow, it's much easier to wear pants when slinging around two kids, stroller, diaper bags, etc. It's easier to wear pants if I'm going to be sitting on the floor at story time or chasing my babies around the playground. Since I spend most of my time doing these things, it's easier to wear pants all the time (not tight fitting or form revealing--just comfortable, loose style yoga pants or wide leg style pants--I'm still not interested in letting everybody see what I've got going on--Honor).

While I don't wear makeup at all, I did go back to painting my toenails. It's something I was forbidden from doing as a child/teen but ended up loving to do. I like to keep my feet looking nice and polish on the toes seems to complete this. Newly sighting Chi-Chi would have frowned heavily on pant wearing, nail painting Chi-Chi. Her brows would have furrowed all the more because she's considering wearing foundation again, from time to time.

And this brings me to the main point of this post . . . I just cannot seem to get comfortable with going outside my gates (house) without something covering my head. Because of my scalp issues, yet unresolved, wearing wraps or hats causes me a fair amount of itchy discomfort. The hubby has even encouraged me to stop . But honestly, I feel bare. Naked. Strange without something on my head. I guess it just became a part of me, covering my head, and I can't give it up. Not to mention that I still am self-conscious that I might run into a bredren or sistren and they would see 1) I have no locks and 2) my head isn't covered. What would they think? (I know, I know, it doesn't matter what they think but in a trodition where it's important to "rep" if you will . . .well, it still kind of matters to me).

I mean, these days I'm equally as likely to toss on a beret or a skull cap instead of actually tying a headwrap. I mean, I have lots of headwraps, mainly cotton gauze and cotton printed African material, but lately I've been lazy about tying them (although since I know I actually look more royal with one on I've been making more of an effort of late). That means that even if I'm with my Kingman (aka the hubby), it's not likely that other Rasta people will hail (greet) me or even acknowledge me, I guess, assuming I'm the baldhead the Rastaman is dealing with. I've come to terms with that and it doesn't sting as much as it used to. Of course, I'm keenly aware these days that a headful of locks doesn't mean anything right off the bat . . . that locks don't confer any kind of spirituality or consciousness and neither does a big, colorful African headwrap. I know others have realized that too. Yet, I'm still not ready to cast off the whole head covering altogether though. I'm not sure if I ever will. Even though it's not the rebellious statement it used to be.

Oh, the hubby is a skilled barber and he keeps my hair looking neat. But I still have traction alopecia at the edges, I'm not comfortable all the way with short hair and, most importantly, I'm not at ease when my head is not covered in public. So you'll rarely see the hair cut. Heck, I'm not 100% comfortable rocking pants in public but I'm also practical.

Anyway, the issue of modesty for women crosses many religious and philosophical traditions and is especially interesting to me when considering the perspective of women whose appearance immediately indicates their trod (which is not necessarily the case in the RastafarI trodition).
Excellent reading:
The Benefits of Hijab
The Public Face of Our Nation

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good breakfast, Good Morning!

I certainly believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I know I just don't function well if I don't have some solid food in my belly in the morning. Being that I love to bake, muffins and scones feature at breakfast often (although not so much recently since the hubby has been cooking breakfast while I bathe the boys--division of labor is such a welcome relief). Anyway, a few days ago I was at the fruit and vegetable store and on a whim picked up a zucchini thinking I'd make some zucchini bread. I wanted a small one but they only had large ones. I used half to make a really awful zucchini bread--the hit and miss of trying out internet recipes and not using your own common baking sense. So the bread kind of just sat there and got stale even though the hubby nobly tried to put butter and jam on it to make it kind of edible so it wouldn't go to waste. Eventually, even he gave up. Not to be discouraged and with the other half of the zucchini sitting in the fridge, I thought it would be a great idea to make zucchini muffins. I hit the net again and found a recipe for fat free Zucchini Muffins. I was impressed by the relatively small amount of sugar and drawn to the cinnamon sugar topping. They are delicious! And the addition of the nuts and raisins adds a certain heartiness that makes them perfect for breakfast. They're very easy to make too even without a mixer and it's a plus that they're low fat. I've copied the recipe below:

(Recipe courtesy of: Fatfree Vegan Kitchen)

Zucchini Muffins with Cinnamon-Crumb Topping

There's just a little bit of margarine in the crumb topping which, divided over 12 muffins, doesn't even affect the fat count. But leave it off if you want--or double it, if you're feeling decadent.

Dry ingredients:
2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Wet ingredients:
1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
2 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cup shredded zucchini, packed
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener)
1 1/4 cups fat-free soymilk or other non-dairy milk

Optional Cinnamon Crumb Topping:
1 teaspoon margarine
1/2 tablespoon demerara sugar
1/2 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
(Use a fork to combine until crumbly.)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a muffin pan with paper or silicone liners or spray well with non-stick spray.

Line a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk the Ener-G egg replacer powder with the water until foamy. Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Do not over-stir. Batter will be very heavy. Spoon into muffin cups, dividing batter equally among the cups. Sprinkle the center of each muffin with a little Cinnamon Crumb Topping, if desired, and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.


Refuse to Be a Victim Seminar

The hubby is anti-firearms, i.e. he doesn't want me to get a gun, doesn't want a gun in the house. I do. I want one and I want to learn to use one very well. I believe when children are young, you keep the firearm 100% out of their reach. As they get older and can understand a bit more and get the concept of death, you explain to them what it is.

Anyway, there are other means of self-defense and while I'm not really interested in taking a formal martial arts class, something really appealed to me. It's the "Refuse to Be a Victim" Seminar offered by the NRA which I discovered after following the link on the post "Somebody is Killing Black Mothers and Daughters" on the blog What About Our Daughters. I've already found the closest seminar to me and it seems like it is an ongoing thing. It's very reasonable price-wise too. Well, my emergency preparation goals this week include finding out the schedule and signing up. I still think a firearm has its place but I'm hoping this class will give me confidence in my ability to defend myself and my babies since so often it's just me and them.

I believe in self-defense and self-love. To me, self-defense and self-love go hand-in-hand. Yes, I'm all about peace and harmony. But you can't practice peace and harmony if you're dead. And in these difficult times, I know we'll start to see more and more acts of desperation, sometimes violent. It only makes sense to learn how to keep you and yours safe.

How do you feel about firearms? Self-defense classes? Home security systems? Etc . . . ?

Monday, March 23, 2009

One Sock Done

The sock took forever to complete and I have no idea when I'll cast on for the second one. I had originally wanted to gift these but as this is my first attempt at sock knitting, I'm not altogether pleased with the stitchwork. The socks are indeed warm even though the pattern is kind of lacy. I expected them to be so since the yarn is a combination of wool and silk. If it took me almost two months to make one pair, I expect the next should be done by June sometime. It's just not practical to knit on double point needles with little children running around. Ah well.
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