Cultural Signifiers, Whatcha Got?


swallows-and-amazons-flags

Here in North America, we’ve just emerged from a brief flurry of national insignia-waving.  (Hey there, Canada!) Which made me think, what are the signs of our micro-cultures?

Forthwith, the High WASP Cultural Directory, Northern California Regional Variant

I could go on. But one shouldn’t.

How about you? How would your list look? Feel free to post the entire thing, or not. Pursuit of happiness and all that.

 

Were you to click on a link, you might then generate a commission, as it were, for the author of this blog. Image up top via the website of the Arthur Ransome Society.

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34 Comments

  • 07/05/16
    8:22 am

    Reply

    Sue Burpee said...

    Ha. Nary a chaise longue… nor a peignoir on my list:)

    07/05/16
    9:06 am
    Lisa said...

    @Sue Burpee, Well, the baby sister trumped the settings;).

  • 07/05/16
    8:28 am

    Reply

    Rhonda Gilmour said...

    What a great writing prompt! I’ll have to cogitate on this one, as I don’t live among my tribe members right now. In fact, as an ex-expat, I’m not really sure which tribe is mine. I do love my navy blue, though. Happy summer salads and faded upholstery to you.

    07/05/16
    9:07 am
    Lisa said...

    @Rhonda Gilmour, Looking forward to your thoughts.

  • 07/05/16
    9:04 am

    Reply

    Ruth Scott said...

    Hmmm… I’m Jewish and born in Northern Californa to parents from New York (and Eastern European grandparents). Nary a WASP among us. Five Children and It was one of my favorite books as a child and both of my children loved Swallows and Amazons. Great literature crosses all kinds of boundaries!

    07/05/16
    9:10 am
    Lisa said...

    @Ruth Scott, Oh totally! Maybe I should post a reminder that these High WASP bits are slightly tongue-in-cheek, and really an attempt to have my culture designified, just for a moment, cleared of its troubling history of domination. I struggle to find a way to both love my cultural tidbits and openly and clearly communicate the extent to which many of us have moved on. Inclusion is all. But, we still grew up in love. How to communicate that dichotomy?

    I also find that these days I have as much in common with anyone from Northern California as I do with anyone with the High WASP background.

    My fingers are now crossed that nobody is offended here. We all grew up somewhere, and with any luck, we feel affection for some of it. xoxox.

  • 07/05/16
    9:59 am

    Reply

    pigtown*design said...

    Color: Pink. All shades, especially the brightest and the palest.
    Fabric: Cashmere, cotton and sometimes wool and silk. 100% natural if at all possible
    Shoes: Flats. Slightly decorated with bars or bows.
    Scents: Hermes Mandarin Orange.
    Food: Fresh and locally grown. Especially seafood.
    Music: Again, eclectic, ranging from classical to classic rock. And of course, the National Anthem, written here in Baltimore. We sing it lustily!
    Travel Destinations: Comfortable places. No adventure trips where you don’t shower for a week and the bugs draw blood.
    Favorite Childhood Book: A.A. Milne, Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
    Adult Books Which Tell Our Story: Ann Tyler.
    Favorite Childhood Memory: Sitting under our grape arbour reading books on hot afternoons.
    Greatest Talent: Knowing the difference between U and Non-U

    07/05/16
    10:06 am
    Lisa said...

    @pigtown*design, Ah, a grape arbor:). And I never could figure out all that U and Non-U stuff!

  • 07/05/16
    10:18 am

    Reply

    Frances/Materfamilias said...

    Mine is so diverse, and it’s changed quite dramatically over the generations I’ve seen or heard of, my mother’s family made of French settlers 300 years ago intermarrying with First Nations (the latter rather obscured until the last few decades), my father having left his family in north-coastal Yorkshire where the paternal side had been for only three generations, having arrived from what wasn’t yet Germany . . . The commonality in the generations I met or heard about was large Catholic families, working very hard, valuing books and education, playing musical instruments when possible, singing always, praying until fairly recently and there’s still a fair bit of that, heavy emphasis on politeness, service, kindness. Every one of my nieces and nephews loves books and also gets outdoors regularly with their folks to move, healthily — fitness/health seems to be integrated as part of recreation. Thanks to my mother, I think, and to my dad who supported her enthusiastically, we all love a wide range of music but are also keen viewers of art, ballet, theatre, etc., beyond what the expectations might have been for our socio-economic demographic (family of 12, civil servant father, single income — mom was a teacher who never got back to the classroom after being home with all of us).
    Tea. Every single morning, like my parents, and like my dad’s parents before that. Many/most of my siblings have picked up the wider social prevalent of coffee, but it would feel like a cultural abandonment to me, strangely, like a betrayal of some parental value. . . . That one is quirky yet surprisingly deep, and I’m so glad I met my husband when we were young enough that he simply picked up my habit. . .

    Hmmm, that’s just a start, isn’t it? And yet it’s already too long, so I’ll stop but this was really interesting to think about. Can’t wait to see what everyone contributes.

    07/05/16
    11:56 am
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, I love that through all this, tea is what persists. In this mobile migrating world of ours, what do we carry with us, what do we imbue with meaning?

  • 07/05/16
    10:21 am

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    Rubiatonta said...

    Growing up as I did in High WASP Headquarters, East Coast Division, Summer Branch (Newport, RI), I am in tune with your post…

    Herewith, my madeleines… Summer uniform: Lily Pulitzer shorts, Izod shirt, espadrilles (alternate: Topsiders held together with duct-tape, but not with the LP shorts, with painter’s pants), grosgrain belt and matching head/watch band. Official pet: Labrador retriever. Summer drink: Tanqueray and tonic. Official car: gently beat-up but mechanically sound Volvo wagon. Summer sport: Sailing (duh). Summer vacation spot (because one does not summer in one’s hometown): Blue Hill, ME. Beloved books: Laura Ingalls Wilder; anything and everything by Holling Clancy Holling, but especially Paddle-to-the-Sea; Harriet the Spy.

    Now I live in Spain where I have Gone Native, dress mostly in black, and drink tinto de verano in the summer. But I still have a healthy collection of espadrilles — we call ’em alpargatas here. And I’m so looking forward to a long stretch in my old stomping grounds come August. No place can compare to Newport in the summer, especially if you can avoid going into town and being mobbed by tourists.

    07/05/16
    12:00 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Rubiatonta, Paddle-to-the-Sea! How about Pagoo the Hermit Crab, was that the same author? Thank you for this slice of Newport, with icing of Spain;).

    07/05/16
    12:13 pm
    Rubiatonta said...

    @Rubiatonta, Yes, Pagoo is also HCH.I still have four or five of his books, all gifts from my N. California WASP grandmother.

  • 07/05/16
    10:23 am

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    dottoressa said...

    Good to know if One is going to mingle :-)!
    Love the part with singing-not my forte at all!
    Still thinking what to say…
    There is the saying “Two Croats-three (political) Parties”-than how to choose…
    Dottoressa

    07/05/16
    12:00 pm
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, You live in one of the places where these questions are particularly tough. <3

  • 07/05/16
    10:33 am

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    joannawnyc said...

    I guess this is the NY/NE version.

    Color: Navy blue, kelly green. Khakis.

    Fabric: All-cotton everything. Wool in the winter. Cashmere for adults only!

    Shoes: What I remember from my childhood is wearing boat shoes on the boat, and tennis shoes for tennis. Mary James with lace socks for church. Flipflops were frowned on as being bad for your feet. Now: Keens, Merrells, etc.

    Scents: I was a big fan of No. 4711! Or any citrus-y cologne.

    Food: Seafood. Salads (incorporating tomatoes and lettuce from your garden)

    Music: A preference for classical, blues and folk

    Travel destinations: I remember having to “rough it” on the Cape (modern conveniences were for sissies), thus the toilet was outside and the kitchen had a pump instead of faucets. Still nothing super-luxurious, but more like an African safari where you spend two days working to help build a school.

    Favorite Childhood Book: Misty of Chincoteague, All of a Kind Family (though somehow I missed that it was based on someone’s lived experience)

    Adult books which tell our story: Bittersweet, by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

    Favorite Childhood Memory: down by the brook, building boats

    Greatest talent: Being polite to everyone and always knowing exactly what to wear.

    07/05/16
    12:11 pm
    Lisa said...

    @joannawnyc, Cashmere for adults only! Agreed. Oh yes the Mary Janes and the little white cotton socks. And I read Bittersweet and found it very troubling, to say the least.

    07/06/16
    8:27 am
    joannawnyc said...

    @joannawnyc, As a literary thriller it left a lot to be desired, but its evocation of the natural world of Northern NE was spot on.

  • 07/05/16
    11:18 am

    Reply

    Bungalow Hostess said...

    Oh what a fun list!
    Jeans….faded
    Tees….white
    Jewelry….genuine pearls, diamonds, gold and sterling silver
    Fabrics…linen, cotton, wool and cashmere
    Scent…Mother’s Shalimar….mine Hermes and Mitsouko by Guerlain
    Foods…potatoes….I hail from an Irish background…ancestors fled and landed at Ellis Island during the famine.
    Music…Michael Buble, Adelle, Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell and many more…
    Favourite childhood memory…spending time at my grandparents home as it had a big kitchen and there was the smell of fresh bread baking and tea in the pot!
    Childhood book…Anne of Green Gables and the Velveteen Rabbit
    Shoes…comfortable flats with a bit of style to them.
    Greatest talent…gosh, perhaps knowing my place and behaving appropriately in any situation…manners and polite conversation.
    Travel destination…Paris or on our boat in the Gulf Islands.

    Know of no book that tells our story…

    07/05/16
    1:03 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, Ah, your last line is so poignant. Maybe you might share more family history on your blog? Would love to hear the story of the Ellis Island entrance, and how you got to Canada.

  • 07/05/16
    11:32 am

    Reply

    jhf said...

    From Sweden and an ordinary middle class background I enjoy your writing enormously. I found you quite recently and I have been reading a lot of old posts as well as new. Being the same age as you, divorced in my thirties, and widowed last year I beleive I recognise the process of looking at ones roots, analysing and re-evaluating everything, to find ones true self, that might have been obscured both in relations, in failed relations and in major life changes. Please, keep on writing.

    07/05/16
    1:04 pm
    Lisa said...

    @jhf, Oh I cannot thank you enough. That is exactly it, to find, in the later years, the true self. And where it never grew, never got built, grow it, build it.

    I am sorry you are widowed. Truly sorry.

    07/06/16
    11:14 am
    jhf said...

    @jhf,
    Thank you for your sympathy, I really appreciate it. And you words are so true, we can grew and build our true selfs, and that seems like the most important part of the rest of our life. To grow as human being is what is really worth having on the bucket list. Your essays are great help in the analyse process that is necessary for any development.

  • 07/05/16
    11:43 am

    Reply

    Lisa Chavez said...

    This post made me strangely sad. I have North Eastern roots, but that is long ago and far away. I live in a place that I hate and do not want to culturally identify with. Florida. Ugh.
    I don’t enjoy the beach except during wild and woolly weather and so don’t have beachy things. I hate hot weather and am the happiest person in Florida if we have rainy, stormy weather or when we get any cold weather. Wear cotton or you will melt! I love greys and greens and turquoisey shades. Not too bright, please.
    I wish I could be wandering through woods and moutains, though I am voted most likely to get carried off by Bigfoot.
    I love to splash on Jean Naté. Elizabeth Arden Green Tea scents are nice, too. I enjoy seafood, though my husband is Mexican and so much of what we eat is Mexican or Fusion…we DO buy alot of fresh produce :-) Pretty much everything we eat is made from scratch.
    I am and always have been a voracious reader. My books and music are very eclectic, as is my style.
    I love filling blank books with haiku, poetry, collages, ephemera…

    07/05/16
    1:06 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Lisa Chavez, You’ve mentioned your feelings about Florida. It’s hard, that living somewhere that feels wrong. I lived for a year in between Allentown PA and Wilmington DL. In the middle of nothing but green things and communities that were very foreign to me. I missed my home. I hope you get to return.

  • 07/05/16
    12:16 pm

    Reply

    StellaA said...

    Portland Oregon with Italian roots:

    Color – black, neutrals, nothing too bright or neon

    Fabric – cotton, linen, knits, wool

    Shoes – mostly flat, comfortable, cheap to expensive, sandals, sneakers, black boots

    Scents – lavender, jasmine, soap.

    Food – coffee

    Music – classical, rock, bluegrass, opera

    Travel destinations – Mediterranean, London.

    Favorite Childhood books – Oz series, The Story about Ping, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Nancy Drew, The Borrowers

    Adult books – The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

    Favorite Childhood Memory – Building a Beatles club room in the basement

    Greatest talent – decluttering my home and life, knowing something about art history.

    07/05/16
    1:09 pm
    Lisa said...

    @StellaA, I love this. I am amazed at the vivid pictures such basic details produce. Although, Beatles club, pretty non-basic. And I’ve read the Neapolitan Novels and found them absolutely astonishing.

  • 07/05/16
    1:51 pm

    Reply

    K-Line said...

    Honestly – come to TO. You would fit in perfectly here!

    07/05/16
    5:40 pm
    Lisa said...

    @K-Line, Ha! Is that good or bad!?!

    07/06/16
    6:41 am
    K-Line said...

    @K-Line, Well – it depends :-) If you’re from anywhere other than Toronto, it’s probably bad (we’re hated). If you’re from TO – and I’m as close to a native as you can get without being one – then it’s high praise. You could crack this system. Most people can’t.

  • 07/05/16
    2:28 pm

    Reply

    Amanda said...

    Midwest Strictly Middle Class WASP edition:

    Color: Navy blue. Or gray. Accents in your favorite color (my mother, in particular, has a drawer full of orange tops. Mine are teal and purple.)
    Fabric: Knits. So many knits. All the knits. Wool in the winter, cotton in the spring. Also, flannel.
    Shoes: Comfortable, reasonably priced but still good quality.
    Scents: Citrus and greens, with soft orientals for Special Occasions (a hoarded bottle of Shalimar, perhaps)
    Food: Casseroles. Or Hot Dish, depending on your state. Very little seafood – you may have heard we don’t have seas. In summer, much grilled meat.
    Music: Anything and everything. But even Happy Birthday may get you a stink-eye.
    Travel Destinations: Somewhere you can drive. Most likely camping is involved. Even more likely: mosquitoes and photos in font of a giant ball of twine.
    Favorite Childhood Book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and the entire Anne Shirley and Little House Books
    Adult Books Which Tell Our Story: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (Midwest ingenuity
    Favorite Childhood Memory: Our grandmother, in a rocking chair, letting us “help” with bible study.
    Greatest Talent: The art of Midwest Nice.

    07/05/16
    5:44 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Amanda, Oh this is so funny! And I have to say we have no giant balls of twine that I know of here in Northern California. Start-up opportunity!

  • 07/05/16
    2:30 pm

    Reply

    Kate said...

    I love this list (and I always love your explanation and descriptions of your family.) I just spent the weekend of the 4th with my family: a large group of Wisconsinite Lutherans with mostly blue-collar, middle-class roots. Thus:

    Clothes: A good coat and a good pair of warm, waterproof boots. Plaid! Flannel for winter and crisp, freshly starched plaid cotton for spring and summer. I think every blue collar woman has a plain dress in a classic shape from the local department store that she wears for nearly every occasion.

    Music: Classic country, the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas album (you don’t agree with their religious beliefs but they sure can sing), polka (whether ironic or not.) For some reason, we love to sing and we’re pretty darn good at it. The song “Du Du Liegst Mir Im Herzen.” Even if you don’t know the German words, you know the “Ya ya ya ya!” chorus.

    Childhood books: Any of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. (Especially Farmer Boy. Every young Wisconsin girl and some of the boys had a crush on Almanzo Wilder.) Books for adulthood: Any of Michael Perry’s books of essays, The Sand County Almanac, The Bible, any biographies about former Packer players or coaches.

    Food: Jello salads. Steak and broasted potatoes from the Supper Club down the street. (It will be the best steak you’ve ever had.) Egg bakes and casseroles at the Lutheran church. Cheese and summer sausage and pickled herring for appetizers.

    Drinks: Brandy Old Fashioneds, Bloody Marys, Schlitz, Pabst, or Miller High Life if you’re feeling fancy

    Scents: green things (freshly cut grass, farm stand fruits and veggies), manure (it’s the nature of the agriculture game). The smell of the cold (it has such a specific smell.)

    Beloved memory: Snow days. Visits “Up North” with trips to the lake.

    07/05/16
    5:46 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kate, Everything different. Everything different, except, the scent of green things. Thank you so much. <3

  • 07/05/16
    5:21 pm

    Reply

    AnneL said...

    Liberal Upper Midwest Catholic – Urban variation

    Color: Nothing flashy. Navy yes, but with green and gray. Maybe a red scarf.
    Fabric: Knits. Sweaters, homemade or Irish fisherman. Flannel. Plaid. Things filled with down.
    Shoes: Boots, boots, and more boots. Slippers lined with sheepskin. Classy loafers.
    Scents: None. Do we think we are fancy? Perhaps some Shalimar bought long ago by a father that sits on the dresser unused. (Complete next generation rebellious fascination with oak moss, amber, and opponax).
    Food: Bratwurst. Corned Beef and Cabbage. An interest in small ethnic restaurants because they are inexpensive and reveal our open mindedness.
    Music: Folk music both traditional and singer songwriter. Classical. Jazz but from pre- 1970.
    Travel Destinations: Local places available by car in small towns where our immigrant ancestors resided -possibly we make grave rubbings in tiny Minnesota/Wisconsin graveyards. Or Iowa towns that once hosted a famous European composer. Picnic along the way at rest stops. Conversely, medieval European towns dense with history where you stay at a small local hotel with bathrooms down the hall recommended by Rick Steves.
    Favorite Childhood Books: Little House series, Caddie Woodlawn, The Melendy Family series, Narnia. (To be fair, I was an Anglophile child so in addition I binged on Nesbit, Ransome, Blyton, Streatfield, as well…)
    Adult Books which tell our story: Pretty much anything by Garrison Keillor mixed with Louise Erdrich.
    Favorite Childhood Memory: Playing in a giant inner tube at a great uncle’s tiny “resort” on a lake near Brainerd.

    07/05/16
    5:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @AnneL, Nothing fancy. Got it. “Fancy,” something to deconstruct – thank you! And, I love Louise Erdrich. And grave rubbings. Thank you.

  • 07/05/16
    5:37 pm

    Reply

    kathy said...

    This is a list from Spendid San Diego- I understand your jealousy
    Color: Almost any, but little black (Too much like nuns, too much like bikers)
    Fabric- Natural fibers, cotton, wool
    Shoes- What used to be called loafers, and remember Papagallos?
    Scents- Arpege
    Food- Someone has to say it…Chocolate!
    Music- Sinatra and Danny Wright pianist
    Travel Destination- the places you moved from, sometimes I feel that I am the only native.
    Favorite Childhood Books- A Child’s Garden of Verses
    Adult Books Which Tell Our Story- Anna Quindlen
    Greatest Talent- Friendship, Poet

    07/06/16
    8:22 am
    Lisa said...

    @kathy, This absolutely does feel like San Diego. Especially the music – somehow that puts me in SD immediately.

  • 07/05/16
    5:43 pm

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    Background: Wasp, Texas-style, with a complex heritage, like this complex country.

    color: Navy and Gray. My father’s gray suits with brown shoes and his firm belief that to wear black shoes with gray was crude and lower-class.

    fabric: cotton, dupioni silk. My father’s custom wool suits, otherwise little wool in my Texas youth. Cashmere was a later discovery.

    Shoes: expensive, elegant, practical. keds for children.

    Perfume: my mother’s Yardley English Rose. Heavy florals for my grnadmothers. I lean toward bergamot and lavender.

    foods of my youth: little cream cheese cocktail sandwiches. Gin and tonics or martinis. With family on the Texas Mexican border, Mexican and Tex-Mex food also played a staring role.

    Food today: I eat almost anything, but tend to be vegetable and protein centric.

    Music: Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms dominated my childhood. I don’t recall anything else before my teens. Now my choices are rather eclectic.

    Travel: Nothing too pretentious or strenuous please.

    Children’s Books: AA Milne, but I read anything I could get my hands on.

    Adult books which tell our Story: Ordinary People and Long Day’s Journey into Night.

    Favorite Childhood Memory: Going to breakfast with my father on Wednesday mornings before school at the little café on the corner.

    Greatest Talent: stamina. honesty.

    07/06/16
    8:30 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mardel, Stamina and honesty. Those are the characteristics of the honorable people in this world, I believe.

  • 07/05/16
    8:05 pm

    Reply

    Danielle said...

    This is so fun! Thank you for the opportunity to share, and explore!

    It’s hard to come up with one set of standards, as a Brooklyn Jew raised in the 1980s by hippie-ish parents who traveled a bit and had their kids in Los Angeles. Hybrid working class/middle class. But for the tiny micro-culture of my specific family:

    Fabric: Natural! Cotton, denim, wool (once I got older and was less sensitive to the itch). Absolutely no polyester!

    Shoes: Must be comfortable! And good quality. They need to last and you need to be able to walk/run in them. Usually purchased once/year from Sal’s or Cappy’s, shoe stores in our Brooklyn neighborhood. Also: Dad had shoe polish and leather cleaner and taught us the importance of taking care of shoes so they will last longer. And switching up pairs so they last longer.

    Scents: My mom’s BFF worked at a fragrance company so we got many samples for free! Mom loved Georgio, I liked Calyx, a crisp, fresh grapefruit scent.

    Food: Pizza and Chinese food.

    Music: Yes, everything.

    Travel Destinations: To visit family friends living in Maine and Florida, or to visit relatives in Los Angeles. Ah, sun. Palm trees. Color.

    Favorite Childhood Books: Island of the Blue Dolphins. The Babysitters Club. Sweet Valley High.

    Adult Books Which Tell Our Story: Hmm. I will have to think about this more. But I just started listening to Ruth Reichl’s memoir on audio and her voice was like a warm dip in a familiar pool :)

    Favorite Childhood Memories: Swinging on a swing in the backyard. Kissing a friend through the fence. Best teenage memory: seeing my first shooting star on a camping trip!

    Greatest talent: Self-deprecating humor; listening.

    07/06/16
    1:36 am
    Rubiatonta said...

    @Danielle, yes, I was taught by my dad (Naval officer who worked at a shoe store in his tender youth) to rotate and polish shoes. Also to take them to cobbler when they needed attention. Those lesson of care and thrift go a long way….

    07/06/16
    8:32 am
    Lisa said...

    @Danielle, Some how the pizza and Chinese food bring this to life for me. That and the kissing through a fence:).

  • 07/05/16
    9:42 pm

    Reply

    Marisa said...

    I love reading these lists and imagining growing up all these ways. Thank you for giving us space to appreciate our roots.

    From the hills of Alabama & Georgia, of Scots-Irish descent, with all known ancestors coming to the colonies before the Revolution. Seven generations of Methodist preachers. Educated, close to our roots, prefer rural life.

    Shoes: Sturdy & comfortable that won’t let you down if everyone suddenly decides to “go for a walk” (i.e. hike through the woods without a trail).

    Fabric: Practical, chosen either for comfort or thrift.

    Scents: My mom’s was Chantilly on Sunday morning, and Ivory soap during the week. My Sunday morning is something my mother-in-law gave me, but I don’t know the name. Outside, the scent of the land–woods, leaves, pine, honeysuckle, rain on hot earth.

    Food: Home grown, homemade, traditional. Fried chicken, fried okra, black-eyed peas with buttermilk cornbread and a slice of red onion.

    Music: The songs of the whippoorwill and the katydids on a summer night. Also, classic hymns, acoustic gospel, folk, smattering of other.

    Travel destinations: Homes of friends & relatives. Possibly a summer campmeeting. Once or twice in a lifetime, a proper “vacation” where you stay in a rented place (motel, cabin, etc) and see the sights you’ve always heard of. Conversely, there are those of us who were born with the travel bug and couldn’t rest until we’d explored new places: Bolivia, Russia, Israel, etc. (But we all came back to our roots to settle.)

    Favorite childhood book: A Wrinkle in Time, Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess.

    Favorite childhood memory: Sitting on the back porch swing, listening to my mother singing to herself as she canned peaches. Sitting on my dad’s knee as he told stories of “the old days.”

    Greatest talent: Taking stubbornness & independence to the extreme. Example–Last summer I discovered my 78-year-old father was breaking rock by hand in order to build a road after his bulldozer died. This was in preparation to his building a new house in the middle of the woods. (This summer, he’s finished both the road and the house.)

    07/07/16
    9:09 am
    Lisa said...

    @Marisa, The closeness to the land, the roots as you say. Both in its gifts, peaches, and its burdens, rocks and roads. Thank you.

  • 07/06/16
    7:56 am

    Reply

    Jill said...

    Conversational topic: the weather!

    07/07/16
    9:09 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jill, Ha!

  • 07/06/16
    10:33 am

    Reply

    marsha calhoun said...

    Huh – I’m intrigued with the prompt, so much so that I intend to follow it up fully later. But the dominant thing that comes to mind is self-control, at all times, above all else. Background – Waspy, for sure – Scottish, Irish, English, some Dutch I’m told. Motto: Not In Public. Most recently demonstrated by me at a celebration of life, where I skedaddled asap rather than be seen crying after the presentation of the flag to the family. On the way home, I suddenly understood why my mother shook off my hand when I reached to squeeze hers at my father’s funeral. I’m glad of that insight.

    07/07/16
    9:12 am
    Lisa said...

    @marsha calhoun, Wow. Not in public indeed. But how wonderful to finally understand your mother. I find these late life insights to be quite beautiful, even when somewhat painful.

  • 07/06/16
    10:51 am

    Reply

    Jane said...

    Background: Chinese growing up attending Unitarian
    Church in New England town that is predominately Jewish

    Color: Navy, khaki and some pink

    Fabric: Silk, cashmere, wool, linen and 100% cotton

    Shoes: Always good quality – growing up it was Bass Weejuns (beat up), Top Siders, and Pappagallo flats

    Scents: Always came back to Shalimar even if I did stray at times

    Food: Chinese

    Music: Classical (Dad’s preference), Joni Mitchell, Tom Rush, and some Motown thrown in so we can seem to be cool

    Travel Destinations: Any town or city on a coast but especially on Hawaii, Cape Cod. and Maine

    Favorite Childhood Books: All the Robert McCloskey books but especially Make Way for Ducklings and One Morning in Maine, the Louisa May Alcott books and, of course, The Secret Garden

    Adult Books that Tell Our Story: The Chinese in America by Iris Chang but also, strangely enough, The Big House by George Howe Colt

    Favorite childhood memory: Youth retreats on Star Island in the Isle of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire

    Greatest Talent: Keeping quiet

    07/08/16
    10:06 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, The Big House – how had I missed that book? The thought of Pappagallos and Chinese food at home, such a story there.

  • 07/06/16
    10:55 am

    Reply

    Rukshana Afia said...

    Lovely to read all these ! Here goes mine after some thought –
    UK Eurasian via S African left wing intellectual parents & an early childhood spent in the Middle East+ Spain & Greece , progressive Muslim so no hijab except for prayers , personal tastes probably ‘vulgar oriental’ compared to WASP ! 1st professional artist in family altho’ many with considerable talent .

    Colour – hot pink (aka shocking , fuschia , parakeet) BUT this is aka the ‘navy blue of India’. Non primary vivid colours eg turquoise , jade – accents in black . None of us can wear yellow (esp. mustard) because our complexions won’t take it , not much pastel either

    Fabric – real ie not faking natural fibre so nylon ok for tights/stockings and polyester for padding . Many of us can’t wear wool next to the skin without rashes .

    Shoes – expensive & elegant now flat for me and bought on sales . And always leather except for sport .

    Scents – My mother and aunts always expensive , classic , French (Arpege , Chanel No 5 , Nina Ricci ) – I’ve branched out to Lush , Neal’s Yard and other cruelty free , more eco scents and have blended my own also . Favourite single notes – jasmine , lavender , ylang ylang .

    Food – we can all cook but don’t like bland things – my biggest purgatory was having to cook for a vegan who was allergic to gluten and disliked any spice or herb I mentioned ! My mother cooked Indian , Cape Malay and Middle Eastern food as do I but I think we all have more interest & curiosity about European styles than vice versa .

    Music – almost anything of any time and place but Blues , Rai , Flamenco , Bouzouki & Western Mediaeval stop my heart .

    Travel destinations – where the relatives are (either to stay with or avoid !) & England is still a bit exotic to me . Revisiting where I lived once is very emotional .

    Favourite childhood books – the Narnian chronicles , Edith Nesbit & JRR Tolkien .

    Adult books which tell our story – “The Buddha of Suburbia” a bit . Non – novels – the progressive Muslim theologian Farid Esack from S Africa .

    Favourite childhood memory – sitting in a lorry with my mother eating membrillo on our way to Khartoum to shop and go to Morhig’s , the American ice cream parlour .

    Greatest talent – friendship maybe ? More likely to be almost permanent sarcasm .

    07/08/16
    11:04 am
    Lisa said...

    @Rukshana Afia, So many of your style things are similar – except the colors of course. But this, “Travel destinations – where the relatives are (either to stay with or avoid !) & England is still a bit exotic to me . Revisiting where I lived once is very emotional .” rather stopped my heart.

  • 07/06/16
    11:04 am

    Reply

    Jane W. said...

    From an upstate New York household, WASP mother married to “ethnic” father

    Color: Navy blue and red

    Fabric: Lots of wool for the long winter, cotton in the summer

    Shoes: hand-me-down Papagallo floral flats and Top-Siders

    Scents: Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass for me; Arpege for my mother

    Food: Chicken a la King at home; garlicky dishes at my grandmother’s

    Music: Mostly classical, very occasionally blue grass or jazz

    Travel Destinations: State Parks with side trips to historic homes/living museums

    Favorite Childhood Book: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lois Lenski, Diary of Anne Frank

    Adult Books Which Tell Our Story: None yet

    Favorite Childhood Memory: Christmas Eve in my paternal grandmother’s cramped apartment, where the sausage was homemade and the 7-Up flowed freely

    Greatest Talent: Straddling the white-and blue-collar worlds

    07/08/16
    11:06 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jane W., “Christmas Eve in my paternal grandmother’s cramped apartment, where the sausage was homemade and the 7-Up flowed freely” and your greatest talent. Human identity is such a work of art.

  • 07/06/16
    5:19 pm

    Reply

    SewingLibrarian said...

    I love reading all the children’s book titles, but no one has mentioned the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I loved those books!

    07/08/16
    8:46 am
    AnneL said...

    @SewingLibrarian,
    I completely forgot – Betsy-Tacy might have been the first book I read by myself.

    07/08/16
    11:05 am
    Lisa said...

    @SewingLibrarian, What I remember most about those books was the cover art! Very time-specific, historic.

  • 07/07/16
    5:34 am

    Reply

    Kathy said...

    When I just quickly read your post as I’m going out of town, the first thing that came to mind was: Going out for Chinese food!

    07/08/16
    9:53 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, That’s a thing in an of itself, isn’t it? The relationship of Westernized Chinese food to other sub-cultures in America. I’d love to read the history. Where did the first one get built? Who went? Then where?

  • 07/07/16
    10:25 am

    Reply

    dottoressa said...

    I enjoyed so much reading post and comments,so I don’t want to miss all the fun! Let’s go:
    Background: Croatian,Catholic,intelectuals
    Colour: I must admit that black patent Mary Janes with white socks triggered my memories
    Navy velvet dress with white lace collar
    Now-black and white,navy
    Fabric: natura-linen,cotton,silk(my favourite-cashmere- has come later)
    Shoes: italian or custom made
    my favourite:ankle boots
    Scents: when home smells of vanilla cakes
    floral with the twist
    Food: Do I have to say anything more about croatian heritage kitchen?
    Love japanese (not only sushi),chinese,italian,mexican,indian-well,almost all
    Music: Classical heals my soul,everything (loved Neal Young very much) except something called turbo-folk (here)
    I liked to sing to my son when he was little and couldn’t complain,I am really bad
    We all sing here
    Travel- Europe was beginning,than I had to stop
    I like it nice and comfortable
    Favorite childhood book: Heidi,Erich Kästner,Little Womens,Mato Lovrak

    07/08/16
    9:55 am
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, “We all sing here.” And in that short sentence, so much.

  • 07/07/16
    10:33 am

    Reply

    dottoressa said...

    Something happened….
    Favorite childhood memory:
    Traveling around (even for camping trips) with my parents and our friends (parents and a daughter),us six in my father’s first car Fiat 750 (please Google the photo!). We were so happy!
    Dottoressa

    07/08/16
    10:03 am
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, I can imagine everyone crammed in, so much fun.

  • 07/07/16
    5:59 pm

    Reply

    LA CONTESSA said...

    YOU NAILED IT for OUR NECK OF THE WOODS!!!!!

    07/08/16
    10:03 am
    Lisa said...

    @LA CONTESSA, <3

  • 07/14/16
    6:04 am

    Reply

    Tabitha said...

    This is a wonderful post, I am now going to go and read every answer. For food, well, I would have to say with hand on heart – anything out of a tin. My childhood!

    07/24/16
    9:33 am
    Lisa said...

    @Tabitha, Thank you. Steak and kidney pudding is pretty dang good out of a tin. xox.

  • 07/23/16
    4:16 pm

    Reply

    Shawn Marie said...

    Born in Berkeley, CA, living in small beach town on central coast of CA. Average White Girl (turning 60 in September).

    Color- all shades greens and blues; neutrals
    Fabric- denim, cashmere, linen, cotton
    Shoes- God forbid a heel. Converse, walking shoes, sandals. Must have arch support or insert orthotic
    Scents- lavender, amber, citrus, green, fresh
    Food- seafood, chicken, fruit, cruciferous and root veggies; Mexican food
    Music- classical, World Beat, ‘meditation’ music
    Travel- anywhere, so long as most of it is outside in nature; from camping to RVing to luxury hotels in distant lands
    Favorite teen books- philosophy, world religion, spirituality
    Favorite childhood memories- camping; visiting my grandma in the desert for Easter week every year
    Greatest Talent- ability to connect with a broad range of others; a sense of humor; not taking myself too seriously

    Rereading my list, it’s obvious I come from Berkeley/Bay area of California LOL

    07/24/16
    9:34 am
    Lisa said...

    @Shawn Marie, LOL yes, I was amazed at the clear pictures drawn by this list – as you read on the picture comes into focus. And I’ll be 60 in September too:). I bet it’s gorgeous where you live.

  • 07/25/16
    4:45 pm

    Reply

    Liz said...

    I know I am late to this, but was catching up on reading blogs and thought I would enter in – don’t usually. I am a middle class WASP born and brought up in Maine. I am of English and French descent. I lived in Maine the first 51 years of my life and then moved to Nebraska, somewhat a shock to my system. I have settled in well.
    1. Color: Blues, black and bright colors – I look washed out in pastels (although I like them).
    2. Fabric: Cotton, quite a lot of denim and linen. Wool for coats, but nothing else, cannot have it near my skin – delicate me…. I do like LL Bean.
    3. Shoes: When I was younger Weejuns, sneakers and boat shoes. Now, Clarks and anything comfortable. Haven’t worn heels for a long time.
    4. Scents: Jean Nate, Green Tea and Amazing Grace (Philosophy)
    5. Food: Seafood with lobster at the top. Like Midwestern food too, but not into steak.
    6. Music: Like most music, but partial to blues, folk and jazz.
    7. Travel: Every year California and Maine. Have done a little international travel and would like to do more.
    8. Children’s books: LIttle Women, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Nancy Drew – but many more too.
    9. Adult books: Non-fiction, Ann Tyler, and right now, Louise Penny. Love to read.
    10. Favorite Childhood Memory: Lots of them, but mostly Summer’s spent on a United Methodist Camp Meeting Camp Ground in Poland, Maine.
    11. Greatest talent: Being able to adjust and make friends.
    Thanks for your post. I have enjoyed reading about others and participating.

    08/02/16
    7:50 am
    Lisa said...

    @Liz, This is such a sweet list. I love how you were able to move so far from the sea. As you said, adjusting and making friends.

  • 08/02/16
    5:24 am

    Reply

    Polly said...

    White Collar Northwest Ohio version

    Color: Olive green. Like dad’s Koren War duffle, camping tents, scout uniforms.
    Fabric: Wool, like the Pendleton suit mom chose every year for Christmas. Wool blankets, wool rugs, wool sweaters, for generations.
    Shoes: From Fenstermakers, in Findlay, Ohio
    Scents: freshly cut hay, campfires, hogs.
    Food: The ubiquitous Shredded Chicken Sandwich, found at every gathering. Anything on the grill. Melons. Sweetcorn.
    Music: John Cougar, marching bands, folk.
    Travel Destinations: Join the Ohio migration to Hilton Head, or go camping. The Adirondacks, Civil War battlefields, Old Man’s Cave.
    Favorite Childhood Book: Nancy Drew, The Ohio trilogy by Zane Grey
    Adult Books Which Tell Our Story: You Can Go Home Again by Gene Logsdon
    Favorite Childhood Memory: Sunday afternoons at Grandma’s, all the cousins, uncles smoking cigars on the porch, aunts drying the dishes.
    Greatest Talent: Pie Crust and canning

    08/02/16
    7:53 am
    Lisa said...

    @Polly, The Pendleton suit. The shredded chicken sandwich. That you call it sweetcorn – we just call it corn. So British, that term. Uncles on the porch with cigars, aunts drying the dishes.

    I feel like I just read a whole Ohio Trilogy right here. Thank you.

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