Friday, June 24, 2011

University

Part 7:  Here’s the short history. For the full history, go here. The first inhabitants of South Africa were the San people who were hunter/gathers. In 1653, on behalf of the Dutch trading company, the VOC, Jan van Riebeeck established a Dutch colony at Cape Town. The Dutch who settled in South Africa later became known as Afrikaners. In 1795, the British arrived and since then there has been tension between the two European groups which has periodically flared into open combat. The on going tensions between the two white groups however, did little to assuage their combined oppression of the native Africans. In 1948, the Afrikaner dominated National Party won the general election and instituted a series of restrictive laws that formalized the discrimination that was generally practiced since the Europeans first arrived. These laws became know to the world as ‘Apartheid’ (pronounced ‘apart- tide’). From the arrival of the first European, the native Africans have struggled to assert their basic rights. Of the many groups established to fight for equality, two became the clear leaders in the 70’s; the African National Congress (ANC) with it’s legendary leader Nelson Mandela and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) under the leadership of Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The final push for black South African freedom is generally thought to have started with the uprising at Soweto in 1976, when schoolchildren, staging a peaceful protest, were fired upon by police forces. The following decades brought increasing violence and protest. The relentless conflict coupled with a slowing economy and increasing international pressure led the National Party government to realize the “apart-ness” between the races they had hoped to achieve was futile if they ever hope to live in peace. Both sides knew they could not stay where they were, but a future with racial equality and without violence seemed almost impossible to achieve.

At the age of 18, I finished high school. Because of the way the school year is set up in South Africa (January to December versus September to June), I had six months at the University of the Witwatersrand before I went to Shelby, NC for my American Field Service exchange year. As I mentioned previously, those six months were pretty much useless. When I got back from the US in July 1986, I had very little time before I had to return to University and resume my studies.

It was a given in my family that I would be going to an English university and not an Afrikaans one; the difference being mostly what language the courses were taught in. The choices were University of Witswatersrand, University of Cape Town or Rhodes University in Grahamstown. Since I didn’t want to move out of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Rhodes were not options for me, and I went to the University of Witswatersrand (or 'Wits' as we called it) as a commuting student.

My boyfriend, Ian went to the University of Witswatersrand too. He became very involved in the Modern Student Association, MSA. He was studying international relations and economics. I studied psychology and sociology and together we studied politics and law. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to return to Wits the following year. Having spent a year in America without him, I didn't want to be without him again. So when he transferred to Rhodes University in Grahamstown, twelve hours away from Johannesburg, I wanted to go to Rhodes too.

My parents were flabbergasted. My dad didn't want me to leave home again. Both my parents said, "You've just come back. Why are you leaving again?" I remember crying and crying and telling my Mom, "You don't understand. I love him. I have to go with him." And just like with AFS, I pleaded my case to my mother and she advocated for me to my dad. Interestingly enough, my dad had actually attended Rhodes. He studied theology there for a couple of years and even played rugby for Rhodes. So there was kind of a connection all ready. But even when my parents finally consented, there was a lot that had to happen because it was quite expensive to go to Rhodes. I had to work on getting student loans and scholarships.

Up until I went to university, I felt like I lived in a cocoon. Like I said before, my world was my family, school and church. While I was increasingly aware of the poor treatment of black South Africans, I wasn’t affected much by the Apartheid policies of my country. My life seemed normal to me. Normal changed when I went to university. At university was the first time I had contact with a black person who was not some one's servant. The university was not segregated so there were all sorts of people there. Not only did I meet all sorts of diverse people, I learned for the first time about socialism, Marxism and capitalism. It was a mind blowing experience coming from how I'd grown up to this most liberal institution. Going to university opened my eyes a lot and it’s where my participation in the struggles began.

There were a few political student organizations on campus; some more radical than others. As a result of my dad's influence, I joined the Moderate Students Association, the MSA. A lot of the black South Africans didn't like us because they thought we were selling out. They figured we were just white people, watered down, who didn’t understand and were not really into the struggle; they thought we were elitists. But we had a lot of black, whites, and Indians join the moderate movement.

There were a lot of protests and marches on the university campuses. On some days you'd arrive on campus and there would be a police battalion, ten rows deep and ten rows wide in full riot gear. They would come to the university and line up on the rugby fields because they'd got wind that there was going to be a demonstration on campus that day. One was never quite sure where the confrontation was going to go down, but it would start out at a particular point on campus with everybody gathering. Mostly black people and some of the more militant ones in the front. Then the students started this toi toi thing.

The toi toi was like a military march. The protesters would jump from left foot to right foot, lifting their knees high in the air. Then as they marched forward, they would shout something that sounded like "Ahoy! Ahoy, Ahoy!" They would do this right through the university campus with the women ululating in a high shrill voice. It was scary, and so intimidating. The white students would join and walk along with them yelling "Freedom! We want freedom!" or "Down with Apartheid!" and stuff like that. We'd mostly walk in the middle of all the marchers because we were always afraid that there were people taking photographs and we could be arrested for treason. In South Africa, you could be detained for 90 days for ‘questioning’ without being charged for a crime and without access to due process. At the end of the 90 days, you could be re-arrested should the police feel the desire to do so.

Often things would get violent. Once at Wits I somehow ended up in the front row of a demonstration on campus one day. The band of protesters were maybe 15 people wide and about 200 hundred students all in all. We came face to face with the South African Police (SAP) riot squad and their dogs. It was chaotic; the students were doing the toi toi, some of the women were wailing in that high shrill voice used in protests, people were shouting, “Viva Mandela!”, dogs were barking and the SAP were shouting in English and Afrikaans, "Get back!! Get back!!" I remember making eye contact with one of the SAP officers, but it wasn't a moment of animosity for me. I actually felt sorry for him because I assumed he was doing something he didn't really want to do. It’s strange the things that go through one's mind in a split second! I don't remember much of what happened after that. I do remember being filled with adrenalin, feeling obstinate...acting fearless...angry...face to face with apartheid in a way. Ian was there too, and I think that made me feel safer. That day the protesters actually burned the South African flag. As the flames got bigger, the crowd went wild. Then they started to sing “Nkosi Sikelel'i” which means 'God Save Africa' in Xhosa, an native African language. It was a hymn written and composed in 1897 by a Xhosa teacher named Enoch Sontonga and adopted as the ANC anthem in 1925. Today, it is the South African national anthem, but at that time, to sing it was considered treasonous. I didn't know all the words back then, but I loved listening to the song, sung with such passion and beautiful harmonies. While they sang, I stood arm in arm with some sweaty black students I didn't know nor ever saw again, and felt uplifted, hopeful.

The university teachers were some of the stronger voices in the struggle for freedom and equality. Frequently during my university years, I'd arrive for a lecture in one of my classes, but it was canceled because the professor had been detained. Banning was also another popular tool used by the government to silence dissent. While you were technically not arrested nor detained, banning prohibited you from speaking to more than one person at a time, from gathering with more than one person at a time and from writing anything for publication. It was done by signature of a cabinet minister, without legal proceedings or court hearings of any kind, and the banned person had no legal redress.

While Rhodes had it’s share of protests, it was not like the chaos I felt at Wits in Johannesburg. We had many marches down the center of Grahamstown, but I don’t recall the flag being burned; which frequently happened in Johannesburg. At Rhodes, the protests were more peaceful; we would have midnight marches. We would go to one of the halls that had amazing acoustics, and sing "Nkosi Sikelel'i"

However, like I told the Ogburns in North Carolina, my life wasn't all about the protests.

While going to University of Witswatersrand, I commuted from my mother’s house. So I didn’t really have the opportunity to participate in campus life much. I was there for school and then I came home and did my essays and such. But at Rhodes it was a whole different experience living in the residence halls; that was a different vibe all together.

At Rhodes we had the student union where we could all go hang out. There was lots of drinking and partying. While universities in South Africa don’t have the Greek fraternity system that the American colleges have, they did have drinking clubs. The clubs would have different uniforms, crazy hats and other things that they wore. While I never joined one, there were cool little restaurants and places to go in Grahamstown; places you could hang out, play pool and eat something. It was like student town. I took part in that sort of thing on the weekends, but during the week I just stuck to my work. I was good at finding that balance because I was motivated to do my work and do well. I wanted the degree and I wanted to get good marks. I was competitive, and I wanted to be the top of my class.

After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to go on to obtaining my master’s degree. However, the master’s program was very competitive and I was young so my advisers at Rhodes told me to go get some life experience before I applied to the program. Thus in December of 1989, I graduated from the University of Rhodes with an Honor’s Degree in psychology. It would prove to be a tumultuous time for me and especially my country.

A Brief South African History Lesson

“In confidence we lay our cause before the whole world. Whether we win or whether we die, freedom will rise in Africa like the sun from the morning clouds.” *

San rock painting
The earliest signs of human habitation in South Africa were found in the Sterkfontein caves about 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg. When Darwin wrote in On the Origin of the Species, “It is ….probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent”, the Victorian world was horrified as man was considered too grand to have his cradle in Africa.

The first known people group in South Africa were the San, who were hunter-gatherers. Gradually, some of the San began to acquire livestock from the Bantu speaking people of the north. These pastoralists started to call themselves “Khoikhoi”, which is thought to mean ‘men of men’ or ‘real people.’ Most of the San were eventually assimilated into the Khoikhoi, although some of them retreated to the mountain and desert regions. As a result, the Khoikhoi became the dominant people in South Africa until the Europeans arrived.


Bartolomeu Dias
Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias is considered to be the first European to reach South Africa in 1487. Only five years later would another European, Christopher Columbus ‘discover’ North America. Legend has it that in February 1488, when Dias’ crew came ashore to fill their casks, one of the Khoikhoi threw a stone. Other Khoikhoi joined in as the strangers shouted back. Suddenly there was a hiss and one of the Khoikhoi fell dead from a crossbow shot. The Khoikhoi fled and thus began decades of turbulent relations between native Africans and European settlers.



Landing of van Riebeeck by Charles Bell
By 1600’s Portuguese dominance of the seas gave way to Dutch and English dominance. The Dutch East India Company (or VOC for the Dutch Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie) was a major European trading house sending ships around southern Africa en route to the East Indies. Looking for a way-station where their ships could restock, the VOC sent Jan van Riebeeck to look for a suitable site on the southern tip of Africa. He reached Table Bay on April 6, 1652.

Out of necessity, the VOC traded with the Khoikhoi but the relationship was not an easy one. The VOC deliberately attempted to limit contact between the Europeans and the indigenous peoples. For labor, the VOC brought slaves from Indonesia, Madagascar, and India. Needing to stock the Cape Town base camp with food stuffs, some VOC employees were given an early release from their contracts in order to establish farms that could supply Cape Town. These early Dutch farmers were quite successful and started to move inland from coast. They were joined by Germans, a smattering of Scandinavians and French Huguenots. As these European farmers intermarried they became known as ‘Afrikaners’. Those who pushed further inland to escape the autocratic VOC, became known as the Trekboers (“wandering farmers”), and eventually as just Boers.

Karoo Trekboer by Charles Bell
Like the American frontier settlers who experienced harsh lives in the American West, the Boers were staunch individualists; hardy, self-reliant people who knew the land. As the Boers continued eastward, their need for livestock and land led to a series of wars with the Khoikhoi. With land and livestock lost to the Boers, Khoikhoi tribes fought each other for what was left.

Their traditional life fading away, many Khoikhoi had little choice but to work for the Boers. As a subjugated people, the Khoikhoi could only find positions of “dreadful servitude” on Boer farms. Those Khoikhoi still trying to maintain their pastoral life and not work for a white master, ran the risk of being shot on sight. The first attempt to overcome this oppression was in 1659, when a Khoikhoi named Doman led a revolt against the Dutch. It was unsuccessful and, by the turn of the century, the Khoikhoi were decimated. However, the ever expanding Boer migration was to face a new challenge in the Bantu-speaking peoples further north known as the Xhosa and the Zulu.

the Wedderburns who were part of the 1820 Settlers
By the time of the French Revolution, VOC power waned and the British, wanting to keep South Africa out of French hands, seized the Cape in 1795. The British initially had little interest in the Cape Colony other than as a strategically located port. This attitude gradually changed and in 1820, about 5,000 middle-class British were persuaded to immigrate and cultivate the land in the Eastern Cape region. In Part 2 of her story, “Childhood”, Arlene mentioned that her father could trace his ancestors back to ‘the 1820 settlers.’ The British authorities hoped that the settlers would not only increase the British hold on South Africa but also provide a buffer zone between the feuding Boer and Xhosa/Zulu groups. Seeing the British encroaching on their land created tension between the British and the Xhosa/Zulus as well, which, in 1879, erupted into full out war. Eventually, almost half of the ‘1820 Settlers’ moved to towns, notably Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth, giving up farming to pursue jobs like they had in Britain.

The arrival of the ‘1820 Settlers’ solidified the British presence in South Africa, much to the angst of the Afrikaners. During the height of VOC dominance, the Afrikaners and their ideas had largely gone unchallenged. Now white South Africa had two different languages and cultures. A pattern soon emerged of the English-speakers being considered urbanized and educated, dominating politics, trade, finance, and manufacturing, while the Afrikaners, and specifically the Boers, were considered uneducated, simple farmers. Further aggravating the Afrikaners was the British Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 (thirty years before Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation). The Afrikaners generally regarded their dominance of the native Africans as the God-given ordering of the races. It was what was preached from their church pulpits and so they took offense to the Act. Tension between the two white groups over the treatment of a third group seems somewhat reminiscent of the tensions between the American North and South over the issue of slavery. Neither group treated the third group well. It was just a question of who was more obvious about their prejudice.

the two Afrikaner states (in orange)
In 1836, frustrated at what they felt was a forced acceptance of English language and culture and a lack of representation in governance, approximately 12,000 Afrikaners left the British controlled Cape Town for lands to the northeast. Past the Orange River in the north, they founded two republics: the South African Republic (sometimes called the Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State. This migration, later known as The Great Trek, is looked upon today by Afrikaners as a defining moment in their history, a symbol of their self determination.

However, Boer attempts to evade the British rule were all but lost with the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Boer controlled areas in the late 1800’s. The British desire to control this mineral rich area not only further angered the Boers, but also intensified the subjugation of the native Africans as the need to acquire cheap labor increased. The Boer republics successfully resisted British encroachments during the First Boer War (1880–1881) using guerrilla warfare tactics, but the British returned with greater numbers, more experience, and new strategy in the Second Boer War (1899–1902), which they won. This was a bitter defeat for the Boers, and like the American Civil War, the mere mention this defeat will conjure a bitterness in some that would make one think the war was lost yesterday.

Combined with the British territorial acquisition after the Anglo-Zulu War, the former Boer republics, the British states and Zulu lands became known as the Union of South Africa. After German defeat in World War I, South West Africa (now Namibia) was added to this as well. These territories were considered British dominions with the Afrikaners being granted home rule within British oversight. Blacks could only become representatives in the South African government if nominated by whites.

During World War I, South Africa joined with the United Kingdom against the Germans. Whether due to their partial German heritage or the thought that any enemy of the British was a friend of theirs, a lot of Boers refused to fight and at one point rose up in open revolt. In general, there was a delicate unity among white South Africans that lasted through World War II. However, given their history together, this unity was short lived.


Daniel Malan
In 1948, riding on a wave of economic discontent, the Afrikaner dominated National Party won a majority of seats in the national election leading party leader, Daniel Malan, to announce, “Today South Africa belongs to us once more.” And by “us” he meant the Afrikaner. No one was surprised at the outcome of the ‘48 election. The British dominated United Party thought they’d have the power back in four years and the black Africans thought it was the same evil but with a different face.

However, within three years, the most restrictive set of laws against not only Blacks, but any non-white South African were in place. As Nelson Mandela said in his book, Long Walk to Freedom, “What had been more or less de facto was to become relentlessly de jure. The often haphazard segregation of the past three hundred years was to be consolidated into a monolithic system that was diabolical in its detail, inescapable in its reach, and overwhelming in its power.” This was the birth of Apartheid.

As Mandela mentioned, from the beginning of South African history, the black South Africans were discriminated against. The Boers, through their Dutch Reformed Church, were taught that the white man was meant to dominate the black man, who was not capable of self determination. The British, while holding out promises of reform prior to the Boer Wars, afterward showed no intention of holding to them. Indeed in 1905, the British formed South African Native Affairs commission rejected political equality between the races and advocated for territorial separation of the races as well. There was a pecking order of value: whites meaning those of European extractions, Colored, meaning those who intermarried at the very beginning of the colony, Asian, meaning Indian, Malaysian, Chinese and then Black, the indigenous peoples.

To address such discrimination, in 1898, the South African Native Congress was formed. It’s weapons were pressure groups, petitions and newspaper editorials mainly aimed at the British. In 1912, the South African Native National Congress (‘SANNC’) was formed to advocate for reform. It was hoped that the SANNC could peacefully articulate their political aspirations and thus affect change. In 1923, the group was renamed the African National Congress (‘ANC’). The ANC initially opposed the use of violence. However, by 1951, it was obvious that the moderate stance of the ANC was not accomplishing the desired goal of racial equality. In June of 1955, the ANC drafted the ‘Freedom Charter’, “a blue print for a new, non-racial South Africa”. With the charter came a new game plan of strikes, work stoppages and mass protest. The Nationalist government responded with further restrictions and laws. By 1960, many African activists felt the only avenue left was violence and the Umkhonto we Sizwe (‘Spear of the Nation’) was formed to initiate armed struggle. Their expressed hope was that the dramatic actions would “bring the government and its supporters to their senses before it is too late, so that the government and its policies can be changed before matters reach the desperate stage of civil war.” During the next 18 months, 2,000 bombings were carried out.

Again the government responded with an even heavier hand, using what ever judicial and physical means at hand to crush the opposition. Some of the weapons used were the 'banning' laws created under the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950. To be banned was to be under house arrest with limits on movement and speech without the recourse of a trial. A banned person was, among other restrictions, prohibited from meeting with more than one person at a time and from writing anything for publication. Another government weapon was the General Law Amendment Act No. 37 of 1963 which came to be know as the 90 Day Law. Under this law, the police could hold a suspect for 90 days without charge. In her book Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country, Gillian Slovo wrote that the 90 day detainment "...was an arbitrary sentence that could be endlessly prolonged. Anybody could be picked up and held in solitary, without charge or recourse to legal advise. The period of ninety days itself was a euphemism. At the end of it, the prisoner could be summarily rearrested and held for another ninety days - on and on and on, as the then justice minister Vorster put it, '...until eternity'."

Finally, in 1963, the South African Police Force arrested Nelson Mandela along with 19 other ANC leaders on charges of sabotage. Mandela was sentenced to life in prison. Those who were not imprisoned fled South Africa and lived in exile. So complete was this crack down that the opposition which would stay quiet until the mid 70’s.

In 1975, eager to rid itself of its unwinnable war, the new Portuguese government vacated Mozambique and Angola. As Gillian Slovo wrote, “...driven by the example of these recently independent black states, tens of thousands of young South Africans rediscovered the power of anger.” In 1976, thousands of African school children took to the streets in Soweto to protest the use of Afrikaans in their school. When the police responded with the usual force, the protest march boiled over into a full on riot throughout the area, and caused violence in other parts of the country.

Realizing that the apartheid as they knew it was falling the pieces, and with the surrounding countries throwing off the shackles of whites-only rule, the South African government, under John Voster tried to implement reforms.


map of "Homeland" areas
Hoping to revitalize the economy and quell the rebellion, the government tried to create a black South African middle class through the revocation of the Pass Act. This would allow blacks Africans to travel freely and not have to vacate “white areas” by certain times of the day. The government also started to pursue the ‘homeland’ political structure. The homeland idea was to set up areas where the various tribes of native Africans could have a homeland for their particular tribe. The ‘homelands’ had no basis in historic tribal locations or current population distribution. The government merely thought that if the black Africans could “exercise their political rights in their respective ‘homelands’ ”, they would cease protesting against the white South African government. Another reform was the tricameral parliament created in 1984 with one house for whites (with 178 seats), one for coloreds (85 seats) and one for Asians (45 seats). As one can see from the seat distribution, this new parliament did little to appease government critics as the power still remained in the hand of the whites and black South Africans were still excluded.

While the race struggles in South Africa could be seen as similar to struggles in American, Mandela pointed out to a US journalist in 1985, “the conditions in which Martin Luther King struggled were totally different conditions from my own: The United States was a democracy with constitutional guarantees of equal rights that protected nonviolent protest (though there was still prejudice against blacks); South Africa was a police state with a constitution that enshrined inequality and an army that responded to nonviolence with force.” The ANC knew they could never physically overpower the government forces, so they did the next best thing: make South Africa exceedingly difficult to govern.

The ANC succeeded at their task. By the mid 80’s, international sanctions, internal violence and the economic difficulties made the government realized that the above reforms were not working. Having previously referred to the ANC as a communist terrorist organization, the government refused to negotiate with them. Both sides saw initiating talks with the other as a sign of weakness or betrayal of their followers. Yet both realized, as Mandela said, “If we do not start a dialogue soon, both sides would be plunged into a dark night of oppression, violence and war....It simply did not make sense for both sides to lose thousands if not millions of lives in a conflict that was unnecessary.”

This is not to say the violence was nation wide. Outside of the townships and large cities, one might be hard pressed to see the violence. In 1987, on a rare drive through Cape Town with a prison guard, Mandela noticed that despite a country that was in upheaval and black townships on the brink of open warfare, white life went on placidly and undisturbed. Their lives seemed unaffected.

None the less, the Nationalist Party government was coming to the end of itself. In 1988, talks started between the South African government and ANC through Nelson Mandela. In 1989 the government repealed the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act which prohibited black Africans from using facilities that whites used. In 1990, the government lifted its ban on the ANC and other black organizations. And on February 11, 1990, after 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela was released.


Nelson and Winnie Mandela on his release from Verster Prison
While the release of Mandela and the other ANC political prisoners was a huge step by the government in recognizing the futility of Apartheid, Mandela knew beforehand that his release would not end the violence in South Africa. Before there was to be a new democratic government, there would be power struggles among the groups long denied a voice in their future. “What should have been an era of peace turned instead into what Reuter journalist Rich Mkhondo described as ‘a time of weeping’.” Like Mkhondo, many South Africans, jubilant at Mandela’s release, greatly feared what lay ahead for their country.




For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela






* the quote at the beginning of this post is the inscription from the base of a statue of Paul Kruger in Church Square, Pretoria. Kruger was the president of the Afrikaner Republic of the Transvaal and fought against the British in the nineteenth century.

Bibliography:
Mandela, Nelson, Long Walk to Freedom. Little, Brown & Co., 1994.
Slovo, Gillian. Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country. Little, Brown & Co., New York, 1997.
Woods, Donald, Asking for Trouble. Beacon Press, 1980.
Reader’s Digest Illustrated History of South Africa: The Real Story, Dougie Oakes, ed. The Reader’s Digest Association South Africa, Ltd. Cape Town, SA, 3rd ed. 1994.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Letter to Apple Computers

Dear Apple,

I am writing to bring to your attention an attribute of your iPod Shuffle which I believe you should call more attention to. Really, this should be a strong selling point.

I have long been a fan of Apple products. For fear of showing my age, I will tell you I remember my dad bringing home a newfangled device called the Apple II. Many a happy hour was spent fighting with my brothers over who got to play Break Out or Pong next. Then Dad cracked open the case and converted the computer into an Apple IIe. I'm not sure what the "e" meant (excellerated? excellenter?) but life was good.

photo by said daughter
Then Apple found design. And I went to art school where I learned to appreciate design, and my affection for you grew deeper. So when my nine year old daughter showed me a contest to win an iPod Shuffle, I was eager to have her enter. Who wouldn't want a small, sleek, dare I say, sexy MP3 player? All my daughter had to do to enter was come up with an original recipe involving dairy products. For a nine year old with a vivid imagination, original is not a problem. Her solution was a cheese, peanut butter and green grape sandwich. Grape as in the whole fruit, not the jelly. I guess the organizers of this competition either didn't have a lot of entries, or they were able to see the culinary genius I could not because my daughter won and soon had in her possession a shiny new silver iPod Shuffle. Engraved with "Kitch 'n Kids" no less. I'm pretty sure the contest organizers failed to catch the irony.

My point in telling you this story is that I was a little apprehensive about letting a nine year old take ownership of such a fine piece of design and engineering. None the less, it was not my recipe, but hers that was the gastronomic success. So she has used the iPod. I mean, USED IT. And let me tell you, three years later, despite all the neglect a nine year old has potential for, that iPod is still working. But this is the part you need to sell: the iPod Shuffle is waterproof. Seriously. My daughter's iPod has been through the wash no less than five times; regular cycle, with soap, and it still works. I'm beginning to think it might actually be contributing to the brightness of my whites. I'm not entirely sure if you designed it this way. I would wager that you didn't. But for the sake of my daughter's happiness, I sure am glad you have manufactured such a quality, durable product.

Sincerely,

The Domestic Goddess


p.s. You should also know that this letter was written on my MacBook, which, in a house of six kids, should get its own medal for valor in combat.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Evolution of a Posse


Every Easter, after I spend all of Saturday washing and ironing clothing, we dress the kids and take a picture in front of our forsythia bush. Bo is not in the pictures because he's behind the camera wondering how many shots he needs to take before he has enough to Photoshop one good picture of all of us. Let me tell you his Photoshop skills have grown considerably. The pictures start in 2000 and go up to this year's picture. There's a few years missing because we spent Easter somewhere else. This year for my birthday, Bo put together this collage and framed it for me. We spent the better part of an evening marveling at how the kids have grown, at the progression of hand-me-downs, at who was the crab in that year's picture. Can't wait until some grandkids start joining the tradition. We might actually block out the forsythia with kids!