August’s Bounty, Bittersweet

from E.B. White, CHARLOTTE’S WEB

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone, over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.” A little maple tree heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.

The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year — the days when summer is changing into fall the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change.

Everybody heard the song of the crickets. Avery and Fern Arable heard it as they walked the dusty road. They knew that school would soon begin again. The young geese heard it and knew that they would never be little goslings again. Charlotte heard it and knew that she hadn’t much time left. Mrs. Zuckerman, at work in the kitchen, heard the crickets, and a sadness came over her, too. “Another summer gone,” she sighed. Lurvy, at work building a crate for Wilbur, heard the song and knew it was time to dig potatoes.

“Summer is over and gone,” repeated the crickets. “How many nights till frost?” sang the crickets. “Good-bye, summer, good-bye, good-bye!”

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August already, and so much coming and going. We have now been in this little house for a whole year, whirling here on the winds of fires in the North Bay, and bracketed once again by smoky, hazy days which are beginning to be the mark of summer itself. Dust settles on every surface, egrets stalk up and down the slough, and housekeeping is a futile endeavor, chasing the dust bunnies from the daily wind storms and endless house refurbishments on the block. Summer in suburbia means that someone is always cutting tile, jackhammering driveways, trimming, mowing, blowing, digging. Through windows yawning wide to gather a cool breath to dispel the clinging humidity, we hear the electronic melodies of the neighborhood’s phones ring, and fumble after our own. Child voices raised in shrieking laughter and sobs echo through otherwise quiet corridors. Ah, summertime, and the living is… fraught. Everywhere is a focused intensity, as the community seems to teem with people trying to wring as much enjoyment as they can from these long, bright days… with the ironic result that everyone seems to be whirling along busily, faster and faster than before.

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The busy whirl makes it difficult to remember that myriad people suffer from melancholia in the month of August. It’s a month where it feels like everything is winding down, yet nothing has gotten done, and decisions have yet to be made. “The summer is over, and we are not yet saved!” Many moneyed friends are away on holiday, yet we who want to be outside are prevented from spending time in the outdoors, whether it’s because it’s too hot, too smoky, or we just don’t have the time – yet we feel the clock ticking down to colder, greyer weather. People are drowning in nostalgia for the simplicity of back-to-school when all they have before them is more work – and then the holiday insanity – and too many people feel pushed just now about affording school for themselves, for their kids, uniforms, etc. etc. Check in with yourself and with your friends this month – it’s never not a good time to sure we fragile humans are okay, but it can be an especially good time now. August hits some people worse than February. There truly is such a thing as “summertime blues.”

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T is still a bit miffed that her “summertime blues” have been more tinged with green. She has had two weeks of off-and-on stomach ‘flu which, to her mind, came out of nowhere. She was minding her own business, studying her Dutch (and conjugating zeggen, weten, gaan, drenken, spreken and hebben are enough to make one want to lie down with nausea anyway), when wham – in the middle of making breakfast, it was all over. In the season of white peaches and sunshine, who is stuck in the house throwing up??? The ignominy! It’s mainly the peaches she’s mad about, to be honest. She was marveling over beginning her morning with eating the perfect peach… and then… um. Well. Anyway, D has brought her more peaches to make up for the ones she “lost…” but she’s still holding a grudge against the universe. Ahem.

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In other news, while now we’ve been back in the States now for six years, and a single year in this house, next month also marks the unofficial anniversary of twenty-four years of the D&T show. (And yes, to all of those wondering – the show began when we were in the sixth grade. Obviously.) Unofficial, because it’s an anniversary no one celebrates but the two of us – and sometimes even we forget. The world sneers at those of us who forget to be romantics… but perhaps the truest test of a love is knowing whether or not fuss and roses are happily received. T, who believes firmly in the truth of Cut Flowers Are Dead, has twice now gotten rose bushes – which are perfectly acceptable, as well as orchids, and untold air plants and saintpaulia, which are much more suitable. Meanwhile, D received cut flowers at work once, and has yet to live down the horror. And somehow, the show goes on…

Last guests will be arriving this week – D’s childhood friend from her house in Georgia, and a few in and out trips by other family members who happen to be in town. There are birthdays to be celebrated, and fairs and festivals to attend. The Chamber group kicked off their free community choir this past weekend with games and songs and a picnic – which we missed thanks to germs – but soon we’ll be neck deep in holiday music and preparing for our first show December first. The wheels never stop turning, but in the summertime, one can pretend, for a little while, that they’re not going anywhere in particular… but deadlines are looming, endings are approaching, and so much is on the horizon…including the last of the fresh corn fritters, zucchini crab cakes, more cake, and grilled pizza. (All the things you can find excuses to make when you have company.)

So, friends. How is it with you?

Same Story, Different Day: A Sermonette

This is taken from Rabbi Ruttenberg’s Twitter feed. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is a writer and thinker T follows on Twitter.

We’ve seen this story before.
We seen this story before, when Pharaoh looked at the Israelite people and saw that they were “too numerous,” that they posed a demographic problem for his power, and decided that the solution was to oppress them.

We’ve seen this story before.

And, when even oppression didn’t work and he realized that the real way to terrorize a population was to go after their children. Yocheved hid the baby Moses from Pharoah’s army just as Jewish parents hid their children from the Gestapo, just as parents right now are hiding their children from ICE.

We’ve seen this story before.

We’ve seen this story before in this week’s Torah portion, when the Moabite king Balak saw the Israelites running fleeing persecution, saw them in the midbar–the wilderness, the liminal place–between danger and safety and he said, “they will lick us clean.” When he used dehumanizing language–they are so numerous that they “hide the earth from view” in order to justify what he was going to do next.

We’ve seen this story before.

So Balak goes to the seer, the prophet Balaam and demand that he curse the people. Balak doesn’t care what happens to them, he just wants them cursed, gone, no mater how they suffer. But after a series of surprising events, Balaam doesn’t curse the people Israel–he blesses them. And there’s this moment in the middle of all this blessing when he turns to face the wilderness, this limbo, this howling void between danger and safety.

He sees them camped in their tents. He probably sees families together, children and parents, maybe children playing, maybe groups of friends, maybe couples in love. He sees a people, vulnerable and frightened, yearning to breathe free. He sees them. The seeing and the blessing are intertwined. When he opens his eyes & heart to behold the Israelites’ beautiful, holy selves, created in the image of God, he is able to bless them. When we open our eyes to see the full humanity of others, we are able to bless them. And when we bless–when we give over of ourselves to others, when we offer something holy and true to another–we also expand our capacity to see them. When we look to see, we can bless. When we bless, we can better see.

This fight is going to be long.

We’ve seen this story before.

And we know that the Bible–regardless of what Jeff Sessions says–stands on the side of liberation. We know that the Bible stands on the side of the oppressed. We know that the Bible stands for safety and hope for all. And we know that the Bible demands that we take risks in the pursuit of justice.

This fight will demand a lot of different tactics.

The midwives–Shifrah & Puah–in Egypt engaged in strategic civil disobedience in order to protect oppressed human beings.

Pharaoh’s daughter leveraged her privilege & access in order to protect oppressed human beings.
God used God’s power and might in order to get the Israelites out of Egypt, in order to protect oppressed human beings.

And Balaam looked.

Balaam turned to see. He opened his eyes and his heart, accessed empathy, caring, concern in order to protect oppressed human beings.

We need to do all of these things.
The hour is upon us.
We need to be brave in our resistance.
We need to use all of our privilege and access.
We need to use all of our power and might.
And we need to open our eyes and hearts.

As we fight to create a world that is equitable and just, we must also create a world of caring and connection, of empathy and love. We must never forget to look, and to see.

We’ve seen the story of oppression before, but we’ve also seen the story of liberation before.

We’ve seen this story before.

And we know that we can create a world based on justice, and caring, and empathy, and liberation, and love.

Overcome evil with good… don’t let it drown you. You’ve seen this story before, and every time, good wins.

I Was Glad, and Other Inquiries

nb: This post references being part of a faith community, and may not appeal to everyone.


I was glad, when… the day was done, the shoes were off, the bra removed; an itchy mosquito bite was medicated. A sense of relief, a heaved sigh, a sense of rest. Indeed, I was glad. The famous 1902 English hymn by Hubert Parry reflects the words of Psalm 122, I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord. Ironically, that’s the “glad” that is hardest to be, and perhaps, by personality, a glad that many of us introverts have never really been. When we were small, we were glad to see many of our friends, despite having seen them exactly twelve hours previously, at school. As teens, we were perhaps glad to be able to go for some retreat weekend or outing (again, not so much this introvert, unless there were places to disappear once we’d arrived). For adults, church is meant to be a gathering of like-minded individuals, but more and more, it is difficult to find, in this society, a group of people who is like-minded about …anything. (The color of the sky is still up for debate.) Where the word “Christian” once meant some basic Christ-ian beliefs, it is now being forcibly stretched to include politicians whose lip-service to even basic decency is dubious, and, far, far on the other end of the spectrum, survivalists whose fervent weapons stockpiling mingles politically influenced ethnocentricism with eschatology.

To be clear, this is not going to be a diatribe on “whatever happened to the good old days of old-time religion, X, Y, and Z” (seeing as the alleged “good” days always include on-the-books legal racism, common sexism and xenophobia which is still not behind us), nor is this about how we suddenly hate church or something or have outgrown God (that will never happen). It will not be taken from Ann Landers, or quoting insufferably smug church signs note that score cards are provided so people can tally the number of hypocrites in attendance. — whatever, we’re all hypocrites and annoying people, and our problem isn’t the faith community in that respect. That’s not the point. The point is the basic, real question: what did the old-school Psalmist have that we don’t? Why was he so glad to go into the house of the Lord – and why aren’t we?

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We all know that we’re hyper-shopppers in our society, and always read up on brands and research “content” in order to get the best for our buck, or for our attention-value. We realize you don’t treat church that way, it’s not a TV channel you change, it’s a community. But, especially for those of us who are introverted or independent, it’s often hard to relax into the rhythm of a community which values external focuses on service and discipleship. Service and proselytizing have their place – especially service – but the problem seems to be the proselytizing, especially. It creates communities focused on “y’all come join us!” and mostly ignore issues of practical application of meaning when the “y’all” has come and joined. It also ignores the struggles of identity for the “y’all,” seeing the singular individual and various diversities as less important than the whole identifiable denominational body, and for those who have been part of the “y’all” for years, and are struggling with identity, there seems to be no thought given at all.

The struggle, as they say, is real. The pollution of politics, for many, is largely responsible for feelings of uneasiness and disconnection. For some, it was problematic from-the-pulpit politics within the last election cycle; for others, little to no acknowledgement by religious groups, whose baseline ethos is meant to be love, of racial and ethic communities being hated, being hurt both systematically, legally, and physically, and the LGBTQ community being outright ignored, or silenced. We hear from so many friends in all denominations about being at a crossroads with their church attendance and with their faith. Everyone, from our Jehovah’s Witness to our Episcopal to our United Church of Christ friends are trying to find their feet in murky water. While in many ways that’s simply reflecting the time we live in, the reality is that it is really hard, and painful.

For ourselves, we’ve decided to start simply in answering our questions, and trying to turn our focus to what has made us glad – truly glad – to be part of our faith communities in the past. Sometimes we realize that we default to the thing which brings the least amount of annoyance… and that’s not really living. What makes us glad? For us, it’s always been music, and we’ve been exploring strategies for incorporating that more into our lives throughout the new year.

What is it for you? What gives you joy? What has made you glad? We wish you a rediscovery of that gladness as you launch into a new year.

De Colores


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We people watch a great deal, on the way to and from wherever we’re going in this city. It amazes us that there are almost 9 million people in this city alone – and it’s so densely populated that people are living cheerfully cheek-by-jowl. It’s … a lot sometimes, so we’re grateful for the little pauses where we can look around.

One of the things which intrigues are the barrio murals. There’s graffiti all over the city, but quite a lot of it isn’t mere tagging, but actual muralist artwork. There’s a strong muralist tradition here, of course, dating back to Diego Rivera, and the city seems to be pretty ambivalent about artists taking to the streets, as long as the work is good and it’s not invasive or on statuary or whatnot. Those rules are clearly adhered to – there’s ONLY tagging on walls along freeways – so, so dangerous, with the way people drive here! – along sidewalks and streets and on the side of buildings. Even temporary walls put up along construction corridors don’t escape the paint.

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A lot of the art is religious iconography – the Virgin de Guadalupe is everywhere – but there’s also Banksy style stuff, stuff with a more political bent, protest artwork, and more. If you can handle the dust in the air from all the sweepers (there are leagues of twig-broom wielding sweepers all over the city) there are a lot of interesting places to walk and see the public art.

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-D & T

…Otherwise, by Jane Kenyon

Wasa Stacks 2L and A Wedding 22Tanita and Ashley, in the wild

Otherwise

~ by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

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This weekend, we celebrated a life, gathered with loud friends, argued about social movements, and played cards with a fancy deck. It might have been otherwise. We ate sweet, soft, summer fruit, wore disreputable pajamas, contemplated brushing our hair, and didn’t. We picked up and discarded books, made vegeburgers, watered the plants, ate cheap chocolate, and drank in the breeze. It might have been otherwise.

This morning, we woke up.

Grace and gratitude for simple gifts.

Citrus Season

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‘Tis the season for winter blahs, endless cups of tea, difficult awakenings, and increased indolence. January lies within that particular limbo of “nothing going on yet” and recovering from too much going on. We are grateful to be healthy and to have the wherewithal to be a little bored. Bored right now is good.

2016 seems to be moving at a shocking clip — it seems inconceivable that we’re getting tax forms already, and looking at bills for car registration and insurance and all the other cyclical things that come round again and again. By this time of month, people have stopped going on about resolutions and have gone back to fearmongering about politics — what if my candidate doesn’t win? — fearmongering about the weather — what if after this El Nino, there’s another La Nina cycle with NO MORE RAIN?? — and in general bickering, unpleasant, cantankerous realities of American society. Definitely time to turn off the …everything, and go outside.

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It’s odd how to think how much we’ve forgotten about a rainy season. We’ve been wakened by wind and rain more than once these past few weeks, have watched the previously dead square of yard tentatively take on a furred green aspect as tiny seeds of …something germinate. (Oh, please God, may it not be the ivy again. It took us WEEKS to dig that out. It’s probably ivy. *sigh*) Between the wooden slats of our deck, beneath the bird feeder, eight sunflowers stretch bravely toward the leaden sky. They’re all about four inches tall, but distinctive. If we could transplant them, we would. The dying pine trees — still standing, because the owner can’t decide on a company to come and remove them — seem like they’re shedding pine needles in thick carpets in order to provide hiding places for the tiny, darting birds which have multiplied by the hundreds. Even the hummingbirds – suspiciously hovering and glowering at all comers – have slowed their usual frantic circling to simply sit in the yard and watch this season unfold.

The Wees are selling oranges at their elementary school, and while our weekly farm box provides us with plenty of cabbage, root veg and citrus, we agreed to buy a bag. In the spirit of trying to use everything in the veg box that we can — we’re still making kimchi and pickling carrots and cauliflower — T. bodged a bunch of oranges in a pot the other afternoon and decided to make marmalade.

We’ve been in the marmalade frame of mind before. It didn’t go well. D. worked so hard to thinly slice oranges and lemons and carefully weigh out all the ingredients… and it never set. Worse, it bubbled over and made a mess, and we ended up tossing a lot of it after we scraped it off of the stovetop. This time, T. sliced the oranges by hand instead of with a mandolin, added some cloves, just because, put in a random amount of sugar, and … mainly forgot about it. This we call “serendipitous cooking.” As in, it’s serendipity that it didn’t scorch, boil over, otherwise implode, and it’s actually good. It worries T. when she manages things that D. hasn’t managed… mainly because she can’t figure out how it happened.

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Marmalade aficionados suggest softening rinds with a long, liquid reducing boil, not overstirring the marmalade after it’s reached a boil, potting the jam when it’s warm, and not piping hot, and making sure the thinly sliced citrus fruits are not too thin. British marmalade is made with the peel separated from the fruit, but T. didn’t bother zesting the oranges, and ended up turning them off midway through the cooking process for an appointment. Putting them back up to boil afterward may have done good things for the pectin formation. Some marmalade makers add the sugar near the end of the procedure, to keep the end product clear and brighter in color. Others add brown sugar, to create a deeper flavor. Since we have a whole haul of frozen and sliced oranges in the freezer, we look forward to trying out a few of these ideas.

As it stands, this marmalade is quite good, reminiscent of the bittersweet and sticky Dundee marmalade we liked so well in Scotland. T promises next time to pot it in much smaller jars for sharing — until then, she encourages you to prep and freeze your own citrus glut; you never know what wonderful things marmalade can make better. D. likes it drizzled over pound cake or as a layer in a chocolate cake. Eventually, once we pull ourselves together to try angel food again, it will also go well with that…

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A hazy winter sun is emerging from behind a bank of gray-edged clouds. A piquant tanginess elevating winter’s earthy root offerings, the abundant orange is a little bit of sun to offset the tough darkness of what may turn out to be a pretty long winter. For that we can be nothing but grateful.

Projecting Sunlight…

T. doesn’t get angry that often anymore. D. maintains that this is because she is too busy wearing out the thesaurus with Annoyed, Aggravated, Bellicose, Belligerent, Caustic, Churlish, Exasperated, Frustrated, Indignant, Outraged, Perturbed…, to actually use such a pedestrian word. But, every once in awhile, anger sneaks up on her and the lava erupts. Usually into incoherent sobbing, much to her disgust, (and the open-mouthed astonishment of those around her). The latest thing that made her ragingly gut-punched, breath-stealingly, word-sobbingly infuriated was a story she heard on The Moth Radio Hour, about a woman who was denied help from her insurance company when her comatose son needed care. Stephanie Peirolo was evaded, lied to, set up, and abandoned by a for-profit system which decided her son was a loss, and wrote him off. As T tried to explain the story to D, she was vibrating, hands were shaking. She burst out, “HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO HER?”

Things make us angriest in life when there’s no one to hit.

Fortunately(?), along with crying when she’s mad instead setting someone on fire as they might so richly deserve, T also tends to write poetry – once a month, with six other slightly insane people. This month’s offering has razor teeth and shiny claws and it exhales righteous FLAME. Or, it thinks about it, really, really hard, and scowls a lot, anyway.

After the hideous incidents in the story, Stephanie Peirolo went on to make sure that, should someone else need it, there was help for anyone whose criminal-behaving insurance company was violating their rights and keeping them from care. Because she didn’t let the world incinerate her, but held up a torch against the night, that insurance company – and the executives at her old job – can’t get away with their disgusting business practices. It’s not enough — oh, it’s hardly enough — but it’s a start.

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How far that little candle lofts its light –
And darkness-dealers cringe against its beam.
Its spark of hope ignites against the night.

“Walk in the light,” shine, noonday-justice bright;
Numinous blaze, come banish spiteful schemes.
How far that little candle lofts its light –

Candescent day this nightmare dream rewrites –
Defies the dark, its thousand points agleam;
Ignites our hope, to burn away the night.

So shines the good, in setting wrong to right,
Against unending gloom and bleak extremes:
So far, that little candle lofts its light.

Illuminating — putting shades to flight
Erasing shadows for a hopeful scene
A flame of hope, which luminates the night.

Deep calls to deep, as zenith calls to height,
In times of doubt, in Stygian extremes,
How far that little candle lofts its light —
A blaze of hope held up against the night.

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If you’ve enjoyed this little snippet of What T. Does With Her Weird Friends In Her Spare Time, you might also enjoy the poetry efforts of the other people in the group – some actual published poets: Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s villanelle and cool story about a chateau; author Sara Lewis Holmes taking a page from the birel-ing playbook of Ogden Nash; Laura Purdie Salas’ brilliant science in rock stories; Andromeda Jazmon rhapsodizing about seeds, growth, and — peppers; East coaster Kelly Ramsdell Fineman writing an UNTITLED villanelle reminding us dark winter is gathering light, and Liz Garton Scanlon writing cleverly about King Tut — and beards, in varying meanings of the word.

Thanks to They Might Be Giants, there’s even a SONG about villanelles. Because, poetry.

Happy rainy afternoon,

d&t

“How far that little candle throws its beams!”

Sometimes this place is surprisingly – gratifyingly – small-town.

The gas station down the hill and around the block had 9-Volt, Double A — everything but Triple A’s, which was annoying, since wireless keyboards abruptly stop working without them (and it’s always annoying to dig through the Drawer of Requirement in the kitchen and find watch batteries, tiny clock batteries, massive D batteries, and no Triple A’s either), and it was already 9 a.m. While there was a Grocery Outlet on the other side of the post office, it tends toward a random inventory and proves only intermittently useful, so other plans were made, though on the way out the door, there was a pause.

The postman in line ahead said, “You need Triple A’s? I have some out in the truck. Just give me a sec –“

Wouldn’t take paying for it, just waved his hand, slurped his incredibly bad gas station coffee, and got on with the business of delivering packages and post.

As always, the phrase, “so shines a good deed in a weary world,” comes to mind, but this is an inaccurate quote – (thanks, movie-version Willy Wonka). Portia, in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice Act IV, Scene I explains to Nerissa that her candle is the light she sees, and exclaims how far it throws its beams, then adds – “So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” (The exchange following isn’t as famous, but is still lovely.) After Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, the author’s effort at writing his own screenplay (a much more complicated thing than you might imagine) was “helped” along by professionals, who dropped in tons of literary references and changed lines to make Willy Wonka darker and edgier and not the merry little candyman he’d been in the book. Gene Wilder made it fit, too — the world in the film seemed less “naughty” than weary and dark; the same can be said sometimes today.

When was the last time you saw a slightly psychedelic movie with so many literary allusions? Yeah, it has been awhile, hasn’t it?

A weary world, yes. But, when you get free batteries, warm from someone’s mail truck, the weariness lifts, just a bit.

Happy Friday.

-t&d

…because there truly is a song for every occasion.

Every once in awhile, D. & T. have those random conversations wherein it ends up one doesn’t know what the other is talking about. (Okay, let’s be real, here: it happens far more often than “once in awhile.”)

Late Sunday morning, T. was volubly holding forth on a girlfriend who had married outside of her culture, ending with, “She’s totally against the macho thing, you know, against the whole ‘brown-skinned girl, stay home and mind the baby’ thing.”

“What?” D. asked, who probably had only been half listening to begin with. “Who would even say that?”

“It’s a SONG. You’re the one that taught me the song.”

“Uh, no, I did not. I’ve never even heard that song.

“Yes, you have!”

“No, seriously – I haven’t.

“Um… I think… it was in that movie. It was Whoopie Goldberg, and… that guy. Sarafina?

*D. taps on laptop keys* “That’s… a movie about South Africa. Whose baby is she supposed to be minding?”

“That doesn’t sound right…”

*more digging into the hivemind of the internet*

“Clara’s Heart! I think the kids at [school where T. taught] must have watched that for a class project… don’t know why I thought it was you.”

*D. watches short clip of Whoopie Goldberg singing*”Is that Patrick Swayze? Isn’t he dead?”

“Uh, no, that’s Neil…Patrick… Harris and no, he’s very not dead. Never mind. I’m still trying to figure out, whose babies? That’s got to be the most insulting thing to say to anyone, so why is she singing it to preschool kids?”

*D. on the internet, looking for something else by now* “No idea.”

Well, we still don’t know, and neither of us are willing to watch a movie from the 80’s to find out – but T. wanted to look up the lyrics to the song. Because it was a popular Harry Belafonte song in the fifties, it has turned up on the background music of more than one film. But, according to the Historical Museum of Southern Florida’s “Calypso: a World of Music” page:

“Brown Skin Girl” was composed by Trinidadian calypsonian King Radio in 1946, in response to the presence of American servicemen in Trinidad during World War II. The calypso commented on the practice of soldiers and sailors fathering babies and then returning to the United States. In the song’s chorus, a serviceman tells his paramour:

I’m going away, in a sailing boat
And if I don’t come back, stay home and mind baby.

While its social commentary was typical of calypso, the song undoubtedly became a favorite with audiences because of its infectious melody. Caribbean-American singer Harry Belafonte popularized the calypso in his smash-hit album titled Calypso (1956). Since then it has remained a standard part of the repertoire of Caribbean hotel entertainers. Meanwhile, jazz versions of “Brown Skin Girl” have appeared on recordings by Sonny Rollins and Roy Haynes.”

Both of us were a little sobered at finding the provenance of this lighthearted sounding song. They say that our culture is America’s greatest export… Hm. Maybe not.