Friday, July 22, 2016

Going Gray & Fuck You

I recently left the Going Gray & Lovin’ It Facebook group. When I first joined, I was excited to find a group of women who support one another’s decision to reveal their gray (and silver and white). Instead, I found that the culture is just as judgemental and narrow-minded as the one that insists women color their grays. Yes, the group supports natural color, but ONLY natural color. Don’t try to “cheat” your way to gray with lowlights or a pixie (but gray extensions are okay). The skunk stripe is the rite of passage. I also found it to be quite oxymoronic that the the members were discouraged from using “deadly” chemicals on their heads, but encouraged to pile on the makeup (also full of chemicals).

I might sound a bit bitter, and I am. I posted a photo of my hair, after applying a blue tint that gave me a lovely gray to blue transition, and, after a few hours of likes and comments, it was removed without notification. It was taken down because I dared to illustrate an alternative to the “grin and bear it” transition that the group advocates. I challenged the status quo with the idea that graying can be fun, as well as empowering. Fuck you, GG&LI!

I’m going gray as a form of personal expression. I’m expressing dissatisfaction with our culture’s obsession with youth. The gray hair bias, and our penchant for all things young, is related to fertility. Men are fertile well beyond their first and 5,000th gray hair. For women, though, gray hairs increase at the same time fertility begins to decrease. It’s ridiculous that in our advanced society, we still tie a woman’s worth to her fertility. Her ability to pop out babies has nothing to do with her potential contribution to art, science, government or business. I doubt large eyes, smooth skin, round bosoms, and curvy hips will ever truly fall from fashion, but there is hope of erasing the stigma of gray hair. I’m joining the ranks of silver sisters who are demonstrating that a woman can be vital, productive, and even beautiful, as her hair turns gray. Colorless hair does not mean a colorless life.

Again, I’m going gray as a form of personal expression. This is my personal expression. I don’t judge you for coloring your hair, if that’s your jam. I don’t judge your skunk stripe, if that’s your badge of honor. I don’t judge you for coloring your 25-year-old head of naturally black hair to an unnatural gray, if that’s on trend. In return, don’t judge me for enhancing my gray with pink or blue or purple. Don’t judge me if I change my mind in six months and return to flaming red. Let’s agree not to judge one another for our coiffure choices. It’s just hair, people! Turn the judgement on the judgers, not one another.

Gray hair does not make you ugly or worthless. It also doesn’t make you an earth goddess. But it can be a statement. What does your hair say about you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Yosemite Chronicles: I read Food for the Settler

My favorite bits of old-timey stories are descriptions of the meals and medicine. I’m not sure how veracious those descriptions are, but I am ready to believe people drank beer instead of water and starved their fevers. Food for the Settler is a children’s book, so there is no mention of our ancestors' alcoholic tendencies or the more macabre medical procedures. However, I quite enjoyed the descriptions of the settlers’ lives and the recipes.

The book covers every food group (from game to berries to maple syrup), every eating occasion (everyday, “bees,” and holidays), and the tools required (just be glad we have modern kitchens). It includes recipes (adapted to modern ingredients, but, oddly, with all measurements in milliliters) and reproductions of period art (with cheeky commentary).

Some of my favorite tidbits from Food for the Settler:

Children were not allowed to sit at the table! The adults sat and the children stood behind them, holding plates and hoping for scraps. I’m thinking of adopting this tradition next time I have children over for a meal.

Butter was not made by putting cream in a mason jar and passing it from person to person for a shake. (That’s the way we did it in my 4th grade homeroom. Then we spread the butter on Saltines. Delicious.) Okay, I knew old-timey butter was made in a churn, but did you know that the resulting butter is washed with water over and over again until it runs clear? From the pictures in the book, this looks like a huge pain in the ass. Aren’t you glad butter comes in cubes from the store?

The first stoves were very low to accommodate the large cooking vessels settlers already owned for cooking over an open fire. As pots became smaller and lighter, stovetops got higher! I had never even considered that stoves were ever a different height than at present.

I usually read Food for the Settler after dinner, swinging in my hammock, imagining making each of the recipes. As tempting as Stewed Celery with Cream and Bubble and Squeak sound, there is only one recipe that I am seriously considering. Reprinted below, without permission:

Plum Pudding (interestingly, containing no plums)

250 ml light raisins
250 ml dark raisins
500 ml currants
200 ml grated orange and lemon peel
200 ml cooking sherry
250 ml grated carrots
500 ml suet, finely chopped
1.5 L bread crumbs
60 ml flour
300 ml brown sugar
2 ml mace
2 ml nutmeg
5 ml ginger
8 eggs, well beaten

About 4 weeks before Christmas mix the first 4 ingredients together in a bowl. Pour cooking sherry over top of fruit. Let the fruit soak for about 1 week in the sherry. Stir the fruit often during the course of the week. Mix all of the other ingredients together with your fruit. Mix well. Tie the dough into a cloth firmly, but leave enough room for the mixture to swell. Boil it in the cloth for at least 5 hours. Do not let it stop boiling. Store the pudding at least 3 weeks in a cool, dry place to develop full flavor. On Christmas day, steam pudding 30-45 minutes. Serve with hard sauce.

I’m not sure where I’ll find suet or if this recipe will be totally disgusting, but I’m intrigued.

Food for the Settler didn’t give me many ideas for my meals this summer, but it gave me a new appreciation for store-bought food and my camp stove.

As for those old-timey medicines, Bobbie Kalman also wrote Early Health and Medicine (available on Amazon)!

Kalman, B. (1989). Food for the Settler. New York, NY: Crabtree Publishing Company.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Yosemite Chronicles: High Protein Crunchy Granola


For a guided Ecuador expedition in 1995, we were instructed to prepare a batch of this granola. According to our trip leader, it would “make up one third of our morning meals.” In actuality, I lost track of how many breakfasts, snacks, and lunches were simply handfuls of granola.

Lest we neglected to add the expensive extras (raisins and walnuts), we were advised that those who added a little extra love to their granola were “able, towards the end of the trip, to exchange [their granola] for back-rubs with . . . raisinless/walnuttless members, some of whom engaged in morning granola fights.”

I made a double batch for my Yosemite trip. Since I would have no one with whom to exchange backrubs (or engage in morning granola fights), I permanently added (c)raisins and walnuts to the recipe. I also added salt, since it’s my favorite food. I subbed coconut milk powder for instant dry milk. Finally, I was out of vanilla extract, so I used almond. The modified recipe is as follows:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large baking pan, or Dutch oven, toast in oven until nicely browned:

8 cups rolled oats

Shake this mixture every few minutes; watch that it does not burn.

When oats are a nice toasty brown color, add:

1 C wheat germ
1 ¼ C sesame seeds
⅓ C coconut milk powder
1 C coconut flakes
2 t salt
1 ½ C sweetened, dried cranberries
1 ½ C chopped walnuts

Toast complete mixture for about five minutes.

Stir in:

½ C vegetable oil
1 C honey
1 T almond extract

Toast for five more minutes.

Remove from heat and store in loosely covered container.

Makes approximately 4.5 pounds granola.

Will I want to throw it at my campground neighbors before I’ve eaten it all? I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks to Doug Stufflebeam (RIP) for the recipe.

Follow along on Instagram @kasmirakit #yosemitechronicles

Friday, July 08, 2016

Yosemite Chronicles: A 5 Year Dream Come True

I was sorting through some old files when I found a goal list I had done in a training course almost four years ago. We were asked to write down goals for the next 1 year, 5 years, and 20 years. My 1 year goal was to train a dog to run with me. Done!

My 5 year goal was to spend a summer in Yosemite and write a book. That happened to be the very reason I was sorting through the files. I was throwing away old paperwork as I prepared to quit my job and make that 5 year goal a reality. My last day was June 30th.

The hairbrained idea predates that goal setting session. I was still sitting in an office in Cincinnati when I decided I needed another summer in Yosemite. Yes, “another.” I lived in and worked in Yosemite for the summer of 1996. I stayed in a tent cabin in Tuolomne Meadows and hiked miles each day to our research plots for three biological studies. When I drove back to the Sierra Nevada in 1998 for another summer job, I pulled over at the first Jeffrey Pine, wrapped my arms around it, inhaled the scent of its sun-warmed bark, and thought, “I’m home.” I sniffed trees all summer long in the forests around the park. Yosemite is my favorite place in the world.

Back in Cincinnati, I estimated the costs of a three-month sabbatical in Yosemite and started saving. My savings were repeatedly thwarted by spur of the moment trips and Forever 21 binges. I was starting to feel very frustrated when my Great Grandmother died and left me the exact amount I had budgeted for the trip.

But I couldn’t seem to get the time off approved. Despite a policy that allows employees 3-month, unpaid, leaves of absence, the timing was never right. I had originally planned to do my Yosemite summer before I turned forty, but forty had come. After being denied my sabbatical, again, this year, I made the decision to leave my job to make my dream come true.

I have the means, the time, the support, and the will to achieve my 5 year goal of living in Yosemite for the summer and writing a book. I'm so excited for this adventure!

Are you curious about my 20 year goal? It is to live in another country for a year. I bet I can make that one happen, too.

Follow along on Instagram @kasmirakit #yosemitechronicles

Friday, July 01, 2016

Yosemite Chronicles: So Long, Farewell . . .

I quit my job and moved to Yosemite!

Regularly scheduled outfits should resume in October.

Until then, I’ll be wearing nothing at all! Okay, I’ll be wearing athletic gear, but when I swim it will be in nothing at all.

I have some content planned for this summer: updates on my trip and musings on fashion, beauty and aging. Beefy may snap an outfit or two when we meet up for a weekend.

My instagram will be active, depending on cell reception. Follow along @kasmirakit #yosemitechronicles

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Last Day

This is my last day of work. As of tomorrow, I’ll be unemployed!

Blouse, Maeve (consignment). Pants, Polo Ralph Lauren. Shoes, Seychelles. Sunglasses, Marc Jacobs. Earrings, Francesca’s Closet. Necklace, handmade gift. Bag, Nordstrom Rack.

Stay tuned for my plans for the next few months. I’ll give you a clue: it has nothing to do with dogs. (Sad face.)

Oh, and one more clue: I'm not going full-time blogger.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Otra Vez

Have I complained about the heat, lately? It totally sucks. But a cold can of sour beer makes it suck less.

Lace top, Gracia. Dress, Prabal Gurung for Target. Shoes, vintage and thrifted. Sunglasses, Toms. Earrings, street fair.