Black Feminism

Last semester I took an African-American literature class. At the end of the class I wrote a research paper on the topic of black feminism. I think it turned out pretty well. Here are some selected segments of that paper. There are in-text citations and my sources are at the end of the post.

For political purposes, including all women of color in black feminism makes more sense than using the term African-American feminism. The institutionalized and systemic discrimination against women of color is based on snap judgments. No one goes through your history to discover your actual heritage, if your skin is dark and your hair is tightly curled, people will assume you are African-American. I have always been taught that the politically correct and more respectful way to designate a person with dark skin is African-American. Political correctness be damned; if for some reason I need to discuss someone’s skin color I should not have to make assumptions about their heritage or citizenship. It made me wonder if all the people who wrote the works we read this semester would have actually identified as African-American, or if history has forced this label upon them in an effort to be politically correct. As Tawana Petty, a Detroit-based author and activist says “I am looking for freedom from oppression, not a politically correct newer version of it.”

People tend to think of the black liberation movement and the women’s movement in the past tense, but there is still need for them today. Despite the Republican National Committee’s tweet that Rosa Parks had ended racism, racial discrimination is alive and well(Lapidos). We all know that women got the right to vote more than 40 years after black men did and that women make less money than men, but there are a lot of other problems that affect black women. Black women are over-represented in poverty, and under-represented in politics, business, and education.

37 million Americans are living in poverty; over half are women (Cawthorne). Across all racial and ethnic groups, women are poorer than men. In 2007, 13.8 percent of females were poor compared to 11.1 percent of men(Cawthorne). As a percentage of the population living in poverty, black women are the poorest group. 26.5 percent of black women are poor compared to just 9.4 percent of white men(Cawthorne). But even among women, people of color are more likely to be poor. Black women are more than twice as likely as white women to be living in poverty. 26.5 percent of African American women are poor compared to 11.6 percent of white women(Cawthorne).

Black female scientists are rare. African Americans make up 12 per cent of the US population, but only seven percent of women who received doctorates in the US in 2010 were black(Where are). According to research carried out by Donna Nelson of the University of Oklahoma, even in 2012 there are only four black female tenure-track physics professors employed at the top 100 research universities. The reason black female scientists are rare lies in stereotypes and discrimination. Tasha Inniss, who is now a mathematics professor recalls “trying not to come across as too smart” in high school(Where are). Many black women are influenced by stereotypes such as ‘only men do hard sciences’ or ‘people of colour are not as smart’. Tasha Innis says “If you buy into those, it’s hard to do well because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,”(Where are).

Black women are underrepresented in politics. Of the 535 voting members of Congress, only 14 are black women(African American Women). Only 2 of the 73 women in statewide elective executive are black(African American Women). Of the mayors of the 100 largest US cities, only one is a black female. Only 242 of 7,383 state legislators are black women (African American Women, Number of..).

Black women are underrepresented in business. Only 13 black executives have ever made it to the Chairman or CEO position of a “Fortune 500” listed company(African American CEO). Only one of these was a woman. Ursula Burns was the first black woman to head a Fortune 500 company. And she didn’t even gain this title until July 1, 2009(African American CEO). Discrimination in business is still an issue today.

It would be easy if there was one person we could point to as the cause for all these problems. If there was just one person to blame, it would make life simple. However, there is not just one person responsible for the injustice and inequality in America; racism and sexism are so ingrained in society that these problems are everyone’s fault and everyone’s problem.

“African American CEO’s of Fortune 500 Companies.” Black Entrepreneur Profile. 12 Aug.2013. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

“African American Women in Elective Office.” Center for American Women and Politics. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

Cawthorne, Alexandra. “The Straight Facts on Women in Poverty.” Americanprogress.org.Center for American Progress., 8 Oct. 2008. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.

James, Stanlie M., and Abena P. A. Busia. Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women. London: Routledge, 1993. Print.

Lapidos, Juliet. “The G.O.P.’s Racism Tweet.” Nytimes. 2 Dec. 2013. Web. 02 Dec. 2013

“Number of State Legislators and Length of Terms.” National Conferene of State Legislators.Web. 02 Dec. 2013.

Petty, Tawana. “Why a Single, Struggling, Partially Employed, Barely Mobile, Black Mother of a Teenage Son Has Yet to “Occupy”” The Huffington Post. 28 Nov. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2013.

“Where Are All the Black Women in Science?” NewScientist. 19 Sept. 2012. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.

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8 Things I’m Thankful For (that aren’t things)

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are 8 things I am thankful for that aren’t things. I must warn you; this will be a somewhat sappy post.

Health- I am thankful for my health. Despite being born prematurely, I have never had any serious health problems.  I rarely even get sick and I don’t have a lot of allergies.

School- I am thankful for the fact that I am basically getting 2 years of college for free through an early college program.  I am thankful that I even get to go to school at all, considering that, in some countries, girls aren’t allowed to go to school.

Being able to read-In the same vein, I am very thankful that I can read and write. Literacy is so important just for everyday life.  I struggled with learning to read and didn’t start reading until later that most of the kids at my school, but once I learned to read, I loved it.

Parents-I am thankful that my parents have supported me, provided the things I need, and not kicked me to the curb. I know I am quite a handful sometimes. Okay, all the time, but they continue to put up with me and I am very glad for that.

Janitors-I am thankful for Janitors. Hear me out; I think most people don’t think enough about how public buildings stay clean.  One of the janitors who works at my college decorates his cart of cleaning supplies for all the different holidays and he is what inspired me to put janitors on this list.

Friends-I am thankful for all my friends for going along with my crazy spontaneous ideas, but also for reminding me to do my homework and get some sleep.

Riley(a cat)- As you can see from almost any video I have ever made, he is very fond of bothering me at inopportune moments, but I am thankful for him because he keeps my feet warm at night.

Community Service- I am thankful for the fact that my mom taught me the importance of community service. Doing community service may enrich the community, but it certainly enriches me.  I have met many cool people and had a lot of great experiences while doing service projects.

This is Riley. He is very hard to photograph because he will not sit still.

This is Riley. He is very hard to photograph because he will not sit still.

Prevent and Prevail

Prevent and Prevail is an HIV education program run by teens, for teens.   Last Wednesday was the first night of the official Prevent and Prevail sessions. It went really well; everyone seemed to be learning and having fun.You can read a blog post I wrote about Prevent and Prevail here.

Youth planning Prevent and Prevail at it's very beginning

Youth planning Prevent and Prevail at it’s very beginning

Prevent and Prevail is part of the organization called Dedicated to Make a Change. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may have heard of Dedicated to Make a Change before because Prevent and Prevail is only one of the wonderful things they do.  Dedicated to Make a Change is the organization with whom I do all my service trips to New Orleans and Detroit.  Dedicated to Make a Change also has an after school program called Hope Scholarship.

A Prevent and Prevail training

A Prevent and Prevail training

I would basically say Dedicated to Make a Change is an awesome organization that helps youth to do what they want to do, but technically the mission statement is “Dedicated to Make a Change’s mission is to connect youth with the world to promote peace, greater understanding and a love of learning. We provide an experiential learning environment to learn justice, diversity, poverty, and social responsibility. “

Dedicated to Make a Change is now applying for a $250,000 grant through Chase Mission Street grants.  $250,000 would allow Dedicated to Make a Change to really expand their programs and reach even more youth. We need 74 more votes to make it to the next round. It only takes a second to vote, so please just click the link below to make a difference. https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/business/detail/80814 Thank you so much for your support!

A photo from one of last year's New Orleans trips

A photo from one of last year’s New Orleans trips

Chick Photos

Here are the chick photos I promised in my last vlog. We actually have two batches of chicks now.

Day 8  Those other eggs behind the chick never hatched.

Day 8 of batch 1
Those other eggs behind the chick never hatched.

A chick with it's other mom. They are co-parenting.

A chick with it’s other mom. They are co-parenting. Also day 8.

Day 20

Day 20 of batch 1

Tomahawk (the goat) meeting the chick.

Tomahawk (the goat) meeting the chick.

 

Day 20 for batch 1

Day 20 for batch 1

Day 6 for batch 2

Day 6 for batch 2

Day 6 for batch 2

Day 6 for batch 2

day 16 of batch 2 Sorry for the crappy quality. I took it with my phone at night.

day 16 of batch 2
Sorry for the crappy quality. I took it with my phone at night.

Day 16 of batch 2

Day 16 of batch 2

Road Trip Photos (part 2)

It has been almost a month since I posted part one of the road trip photos. I have been very busy. I went to another camp in Presque Isle, spent a weekend in Chicago, and started working on college applications. Anyway, here are the rest of the photos from my trip to Michigan’s upper peninsula.

Iroquois Point

Sunrise at Iroquois Point

Sunrise at Iroquois Point

About to get wet

About to get wet

Mom on the beach

Mom on the beach

Iroquois light house

Iroquois light house-We climbed that tower. It was about 90 steps.

View from the lighthouse tower

View from the lighthouse tower

I suck at selfies.

I suck at selfies.

view from the tower

view from the tower

 

Whitefish Bay

A memorial for the Edmund Fitzgerald

A memorial for the Edmund Fitzgerald

There were a lot of cool rocks.

There were a lot of cool rocks.

Me (taken by my mom)

Me (taken by my mom)

Tahquamenon Falls

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Another selfie

Another selfie

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Road Trip!

My mom and I went on a weekend road trip to Michigan’s upper peninsula. This is part one of  the photos.

View from an overlook at a rest stop

View from an overlook at a rest stop

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Me ziplining at "the mystery spot" (my mom took the photo)

Me ziplining at “the mystery spot” (my mom took the photo)

93 steps to the top of Castle Rock, but the view was worth it

93 steps to the top of Castle Rock, but the view was worth it

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Babe and I (my mom took the photo)

Babe and me (my mom took the photo)

8 mile trip in a double kayak with my mom

8 mile trip in a double kayak with my mom

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A random garden near LSSU

A random garden near LSSU

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The Other Places I Blog

I know I haven’t been posting very frequently on Spinachandmangos. I am not abandoning this blog; I have been busy posting on other blogs. I write posts for Dedicated to Make a Change.  Dedicated to Make a Change is the organization that I go on service trips with (among other things).

The old Dedicated to Make a Change blog was changebringshope.blogspot.com.

The new blog for Dedicated to Make a Change is changebringshope.com. Please subscribe to get all the updates.

Carpe diem!

A photo from this year's New Orleans trip: the group with Augie

A photo from this year’s New Orleans trip: the group with Augie

Video

Vlog: I had a great week

I know I must have said “so awesome” about 50 times in this video. I pretty much only make videos when I am in a really good mood.

Dedicated to Make a Change website: dedicatedtomakeachange.com
Dedicated to Make a Change blog: changebringshope.blogspot.com

Article about Prevent and Prevail: http://www.annarbor.com/news/overwhelmed-by-statistics-area-teens-start-conversations-on-hiv/#.UEj0do5ZGbx
PS. Dedicated to Make a Change did receive $3000 from Zingerman’s to fund Prevent and Prevail. Prevent and Prevail is an HIV and STD education program started by a group of youth (including me).

The film I was talking about: http://americanrevolutionaryfilm.com/
The boggs center: boggscenter.org

New Orleans Trip 2013 (part 3)

On April 26th I boarded the train for New Orleans, Louisiana and I returned to Michigan on May 7th.  I went to New Orleans as part of a service trip with Dedicated to Make a Change. This post is a continuation of my previous posts about the trip. You can click the New Orleans tab at the top of my blog to read more about my trips to New Orleans.

Wednesday

We went to the Lower 9th Ward Village in the morning.  As we were discussing our plans for work for the day, it started raining, so we changed our plans. We did a lot of moving stuff around inside. With a ton of help from Gabe, Gail, and Jordyn, I moved a lot chairs from a huge jumbled pile to nice stacks in order to make room for a screen printing work space. While moving the chairs, we discovered a large pile of  banners on wooden frames that had once hung around the village. The banners were ripped/broken with nails sticking out everywhere so everyone spent a while removing the nails and salvaging what we could of the wood. We also moved a ton of computers from the attic to the office where Henry, the Lower 9th Ward Village’s computer guru, was fixing them. One good thing about the about the rain was that it made obvious all the leaking windows we had to fix.

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In the evening we went to Peaches Records and Cafe du Monde.

This is an elevator/changing room. I think it is cool.

This is an elevator/changing room. I think it is cool.

Cafe du Monde

Cafe du Monde

Thursday

Our first stop was home depot where we got paint for the stage, paint for the signs, tools for pulling weeds, and plexiglass to fix the leaking windows.  Then we went to the Lower 9th Ward Village to make use of those materials.

The stage partially painted.

The stage partially painted.

Lizzie painting signs advertising a car wash as a fundraiser for the Village.

Lizzie painting signs advertising a car wash as a fundraiser for the Village.

Gail, our adult leader, and Angela, one of the chaperones, hard at work on the weeds.

Gail, the adult leader, and Angela, one of the chaperones, hard at work on the weeds.

I don’t have any photos of the windows being fixed, but trust me, it got done. Thursday evening we went on a ghost tour around the French Quarter with the Haunted History Tours.

Friday

We spent all of Friday at the Lower 9th Ward Village. I can’t say exactly what everyone did because I was pretty absorbed in my own tasks. I assume some painting of the stage and more fixing of the windows was done. Lizzie and I spent the morning washing yoga mats for a health fair that was happening on Saturday the Village.  In the afternoon, I cleaned the library with help from Lizzie, Jordyn, and Nils.

The library before I started working.

The library before I started working.

The library when I finished working.

The library when I finished working.

Here is an after picture of the stage.

Here is an after picture of the stage with Lizzie and Mack.

I still have four more days of my trip to write about, so subscribe to stay updated. I have also been making posts on changebringshope.blogspot.com. Go check them out.

Carpe diem!

Youth and the NOLA Community

I wrote a post for Dedicated to Make a Change’s blog about youth and how we interact with the New Orleans community. Dedicated to Make a Change is the organization that I went with on the service trips to New Orleans and Detroit. Here is a link to the post. 

There are only 36 hours left in my Indiegogo campaign. Please check it out and make a donation if you can.

247134_10201245595721752_281675084_nCarpe diem!

New Orleans Trip 2013 (part 2)

n April 26th I boarded the train for New Orleans, Louisiana and I returned to Michigan on May 7th.  I went to New Orleans as part of a service trip with Dedicated to Make a Change. This post is a continuation of my previous post about the trip. You can click the New Orleans tab at the top of my blog to read more about my trips to New Orleans.

Monday

Monday was the first day that we did physical work. In the morning we drove over to one of the parks that is a part of the Audubon Nature Institute. (Audubon Nature Institute is different than the Audubon Society.)  The first thing we did was learn a little about the park and the wildlife of the area in general.

Here we are listening to one of the staff members. (I obviously didn't take the photo because I am in it.)

Here we are listening to one of the staff members. (I obviously didn’t take the photo because I am in it.)

There was a large pile of sticks/brush near the entrance to the park that had been there for a couple years because there just wasn’t enough people to move it all.  The park has only one paid staff member and two long term volunteers. Our group made short work of moving the pile into a dumpster. I wish I would have taken before and after pictures, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

The next thing we did was walk through some of the nature paths to stomp down invasive tree seedlings and pull out vines that were strangling the native trees. The staff said the paths used to be kept clear by the groups of third graders that came to the park on field trips. Our group had no problem wandering like a pack of third graders.

There were four buildings on the park property.  There were two buildings with classrooms that had been used to teach thousands of children a year before Katrina. One of the classrooms has double paned glass windows where water from the hurricane is still trapped. There was also a garage that is still in use and a hauntingly beautiful greenhouse.

This is one of the classroom buildings. The think layer of pine needles says that it hasn't been used in 8 years.

This is one of the classroom buildings. The think layer of pine needles testifies to the fact that it hasn’t been used in 8 years.

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In the afternoon  we worked with Common Ground Relief, planting in wetlands at an elementary school.  I didn’t want to drop my camera in the mud/water so I didn’t take a lot of photos, but thankfully Lizzie and Ayaka did.

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We planted lots of plants and got really muddy.

We planted lots of plants and got really muddy.

A gecko at the school

A gecko at the school

Here Michael is building a little wall so the water doesn't flow onto the sidewalk.

Here Michael is building a little wall so the water doesn’t flow onto the sidewalk.

935481_593848253981766_777619193_nAfter the wetlands restoration, we ate dinner at United Saints and I napped while part of the group went to the airport to pick up Angela.

After my nap, we all went to the Creole Creamery. I had chicory ice cream. It was strange, but I liked it. Then we played Bananagrams.  Bananagrams is kind of like Scrabble and we played it a lot on this trip.

Tuesday

In the morning we drove over to Wesley United.  Augie, the unofficial caretaker of the place, met us there and told us some of the history of the church and gave us his vision of how we could help clean it up.

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Some of the group looking at the church

Some of the group looking at the church

A poem above the entrance

A poem above the entrance

IMG_3674The bell is still up in the tower. At one point Augie looked at me and said “You want to get up there don’t you?” Umm, yeah I do! I love exploring old buildings. We couldn’t actually go in because it is technically not open to the public and it the stairs are very rickety.

There were some blackberries and this beautiful hibiscus in front of the church. Later in the week we brought some vegetables to Augie and he started a little community garden in front of the church.

There were some blackberries and this beautiful hibiscus in front of the church. Later in the week we brought some vegetables to Augie and he started a little community garden in front of the church.

In the afternoon we went to The Lower 9th Ward Village to talk with Mack, the owner and founder. We discussed what we wanted to do and what we would need to get it done. A huge load of top soil was delivered and we helped a couple move the dirt under a tarp because it had started raining.

I explored the “library”.  I put quotes around library because at that point it was more like a walk in junk closet that happened to have a lot of books in it. Later in the week I rearranged the library so that it was actually usable. On Tuesday I just tried to take some photos that made the junk look artistic.

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Do you like supporting community service? Do you like supporting teens learning and working? Do you like supporting the recovery of New Orleans?  Do you want to make my day? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then please donate to my Indiegogo campaign. There are 8 days left in the campaign and we are only 4% of the way towards our goal.  Here is another link.

I have seven more days of the trip to cover so I will be posting more soon. Carpe diem!

New Orleans Trip 2013 (part 1)

On April 26th I boarded the train for New Orleans, Louisiana and I returned to Michigan on May 7th.  I went to New Orleans as part of a service trip with Dedicated to Make a Change.

Friday-Saturday

The first part of the trip was a very long train ride. First there was about a five hour ride from Ann Arbor to Chicago. There was a 3 hour layover in Chicago. We went to an art supply store and generally wandered while we were waiting. Throughout this post, when I say “we” I mean me and the other people who went on the trip. You can read quotes from and see pictures of the other youth on our Indiegogo campaign page. If you would like to donate to our campaign, you can still do so until May 29th.

I was trying to take a picture of those colorful light things. There we a lot of them near the art store we went to. We were all carrying backpacks and so stuck out like a sore thumb.

I was trying to take a picture of those colorful light things. There we a lot of them near the art store we went to. We were all carrying backpacks and so stuck out like a sore thumb.

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I thought the single cloud hovering over that building looked really cool.

I thought the single cloud hovering over that building looked really cool.

When we finally got on the train to New Orleans it was already eight PM. I slept all the way to Mississippi. I took these photos at one of the train stops in Mississippi.

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I arrived in New Orleans in the evening of April 27th. Gail, the adult leader of Dedicated to Make Change; Max, another of the ten trip participants, and I walked two blocks to the car rental and got a van with the rest of the participants waited at the train station.

Figuring out how to put all our luggage and 8 people into the van. (I say 8 because 2 of the participants flew in later.)

Figuring out how to put all our luggage and 8 people into the van. (I say 8 because 2 of the participants flew in later.)

 

Me in front of the station.  (taken by Max)

Me in front of union station.
(taken by Max)

Saturday night we basically just ate dinner at a pizza place, went to Walmart to pick up anything that we had forgotten to pack, and got settled into our apartment at United Saints.

Sunday

We tried to go on a voodoo tour, but it left a few minutes early so we missed it.  Instead we wandered around the French quarter and visited all the voodoo shops. This trip was all about having to change our plans for one reason or another.  The first shop was a little cliche, but the lady running it actually seemed fairly knowledgeable and answered some of our questions about New Orleans voodoo. The second shop was my favorite because both the women working there were very nice and answered questions without trying to sell us anything.  One of the women talked to Lizzie and I for a long time and gave us her blog address, but I don’t remember it at the moment. If I remember I’ll add it.The third place we went was the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum.  There was a man in the lobby of the voodoo museum who had a baby python. He let us all hold the snake. I later found out that one of his snakes used to live at the museum and they now have a little memorial to her there.  The museum was interesting, but my favorite part was definitely the snake.

I don't think either of those are my hands, but I did hold the snake. (I don't know who took this picture, but it wasn't me.)

I don’t think either of those are my hands, but I did hold the snake. (I don’t know who took this picture, but it wasn’t me.)

We also went to a hot sauce store called the Pepper Palace. I am a big fan of hot sauce, so I tried a lot of different kinds. One of the people on the trip tried a hot sauce claiming to be the hottest. You even had to sign a waiver to try it. He survived.  Then we went to Congo Square. Congo Square is an area within what is now called Louis Armstrong Park.  Congo Square was historically a place where slaves gathered on Sundays to dance and socialize. It was beautiful as usual, but I didn’t take any pictures because I forgot to bring my camera. If you want to see some photos from Congo Square and the Pepper Palace, go to this post I made about last year’s trip.

I will be making more posts about my trip over the next week. For now you can click the New Orleans tab at the top of my blog to read my posts from last year.

Pray to End the Need for Abortion

I am sure you have seen those signs that say “Pray to end abortion”.  How could you not? They’re everywhere.

I too pray to end abortion. I pray that women (and men) will have access to cheap and effective birth control. I pray that all people will be educated on how to use birth control properly and be able to practice safe sex.

I pray that adoption becomes an easier process so that fewer children are jumping from house to house in the foster system or living on the streets. I pray that all children have a safe home.

I pray that rape and incest become a thing of the past, something that no one of any age or gender is forced to endure.

I pray that everyone has a good financial situation and the knowledge to properly care for their children.

I pray that no baby develops with severe birth defects or medical problems. I pray that parents of children with birth defects have the resources to properly care for them.

I pray that no woman becomes sick or injured during a pregnancy, forcing her to abort the pregnancy for her own safety.

I pray that no woman is harassed for her choice, no matter what choice she makes.

I wish there was no need for abortion, but until then, abortion should be safe, legal, and affordable.

abort

The Spoon of Spring

Every year for the past five or six years, I have found a spoon outside at the start of spring.  The “spoon of spring” has become  a superstition/joke in my family. While the calendar may have said it was officially spring almost a month ago, it did not look or feel like spring until just recently, so of course I just found a spoon. IMG_3136
The first time I found the spoon, it was in our backyard. Since then I have always found them along the side of the road. I don’t know really know how these spoons get there, but my guess is that they fall out of people’s cars or backpacks during the winter and nobody finds them until the snow melts.

Aside from the spoon, there have been other signs that it is truly spring.

It has been raining a TON the past week. (It is raining as I write this.)

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They say April showers bring May flowers, but the spring flowers are already here.

These are really more like a groundcover. They are less than half an inch across.

These are really more like a groundcover. They are less than half an inch across.

IMG_3377The goats have been escaping more to eat the long grass.  Unfortunately, it is very hard to photograph a running goat.

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How happy am I that it is spring?

Very happy.

Very happy.

Carpe diem!

PS. My mom gave this to me today.

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