September 29, 2011


Event: Catastrophic earthquake
Date:  01/12/2010
Magnitude:  7.0
Epicenter:  Léogâne
Aftershocks: 52 of a magnitude 4.5 or greater
Fatalities:  316,000
Injuries:  300,000
Homeless After Quake:  1,000,000
Homeless Now:  1,000,000
Foreign Aid Response:  Ineffectual
Damaged Homes:  250,000
Damaged Businesses:  30,000
Date I Took This Pic:  9/27/2011

Haitian Braids

I just returned, late last night, from a week-long visit to my mom's small orphanage in Bon Repos, Haiti, just a few miles north of Port-au-Prince.  My mom uses her teacher retirement benefits and, as she always reminds me, my "inheritance" to feed and care for sixteen Haitian children.  I took a lot of pictures while I was there and I have many stunning faces and smiles digitally captured.  I thought long and hard about how to represent this trip without revealing the individual identities of the children.  I wanted to respect their privacy but I also had a strong desire to show the beauty and individuality of these kids.  Since the majority of my mom's children are girls and haircare is a serious daily preoccupation among them, I decided to take and display images of braids and braiding to give you just a glimpse into the rich texture that is the culture of Haiti.  My own hair was braided and rebraided several times during the past week, with less-than-satisfactory results. Most of the children, during play, braided each other's hair or grabbed a doll for a more cooperative form of braiding.  

September 20, 2011

Bon Repos

In about six hours, I'll be waking up to catch an early morning flight to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  My mom has a small orphanage in Bon Repos, which is only a few miles north of the airport.  I'll be there for a week and won't have a way to reliably keep up-to-date on the news or react to it by blogging.  One of my favorite things in this life is to grab my passport, stuff a few things into my backpack, and wander off to actually see parts of the world instead of just reading about them.  My only regret about this trip will be that I won't be able to share it with you until I return.  I'll be taking pictures and making notes for future blog posts, don't worry, and I'll miss writing new posts as much as you'll hopefully miss reading them.  We'll "talk" soon.        

September 18, 2011

How Pretty Your Hair Is

This video, called "Grandpa Gets A Webcam," has quickly become one of my favorites.  This older couple, vexed by their inability to use their new webcam, is being unknowingly recorded.  Grandpa is cutting up while Grandma's trying her best to figure out how to "take a picture."  Just when she starts to get irritated with him, he shifts gears and begins complimenting her hair.  Then he decides to try to talk her into lowering her dress and showing off her . . . well, you'll see.  If the current trajectory of my marriage is any indication, this will be Scotch and me in about twenty years or so.

If you liked this post, you might like:  "A Close Shave," "Breaking A Bittersweet Spell," or "The Big Five-Ohhhhhhhh!"

It's Your Turn!

Debutopia has been up and going for just over four months now.  She's had 12,806 pageviews and now has 102 pages to view.  Those are the numbers.  I'm a firm believer, though, that numbers never completely tell the story.

For each one of those pageviews, there is an untold, behind-the-scenes story that represents the interaction between each reader and each published blog post.  Sometimes, through your comments and social feedback, I'm privy to some of the stories.  More often, however, I'm not.  Now it's your turn.  I want your feedback.

Please take the time to post a comment to this blog post today -- right now!  I'm especially interested in hearing constructive feedback in three general areas:

1.  Content (comments about the quality and focus of Debutopia posts themselves)
2.  Community (comments about what it means to be part of the Debutopia tribe)
3.  Technical (comments about the layout and functionality of the Debutopia blog)

My old high school classmate Bill Floeter, just this past week, found a typo on one of my blog posts that completely changed the meaning of what I was trying to express.  He took the time to kindly and gently point it out to me and, because of this, I was able to instantly improve the quality of my blog.  If Bill had said "Deb, you ignorant slut, stop making mistakes," I still would have fixed the mistake and felt grateful that he had pointed it out. That's just how big my shoulders really are.  Don't get any ideas, Bill.

Commenting anonymously is just fine, especially if your comment contains the word "slut."  I can't promise that I'll react to each and every one of your comments, especially if there is reader discord or if my technological skills inhibit me from making the necessary changes, but I value you and your input.  Without readers, I wouldn't be writing. And that's a fact.

For a blog entry about Debutopia's 100th post:  "A Hundred High Fives."
For an entry about Debutopia's 10,000th pageview:  "10,000 Clicks; 10,000 Hours."

September 16, 2011

A Hundred High Fives

I confess.  I fall in love easily.  It's almost a tragic flaw, this trait of mine.  I have a private stock of beautiful people that I've collected over the years -- people who stir some portion of my soul or intrigue a piece of my intellect.  Some of these people have been in my life since the very beginning, others have been folded in along the way, and yet others are happy new surprises.  I'd like to tell you about my happiest new surprise. 

Last evening, my oldest son and I were talking about a chance encounter that he had fifteen months ago.  He was in Berkeley, California, sipping something at the Teance tea bar, when he was lucky enough to met another Teance customer, a young terminally happy woman named Sara Lahey.  It was a case of one extreme extrovert accidentally meeting up with another extreme extrovert so you know that the sparks were flying that day.  This situation was a near-miss for me, since I was on that trip but didn't fly out to meet up with my son until a day later.  For me, Sara was "the one that got away."

While my son and I were reminiscing about that trip, Sara came up in conversation. That conversation led to a Facebook friend request, which led to a brand-new friendship (less than twelve hours old!), which led to a cascade of happiness.  Sara is the mind behind the Hunting Happiness Project, which has the goal of bringing happiness to the world.  The Hunting Happiness Project has spun out some sweet concepts, one of which is an idea/video called "A Hundred High Fives."

Through a sheer (and very uncanny) coincidence, this Debutopia blog entry of mine is the 100th entry that I've posted.  It is my hundredth high five to you.  If I could reach out and touch you right now, I would.  Short of that, these brief words will have to do.  Life is good -- better, even, than I deserve or expected.  Celebrate being alive!

If you liked this, you might like "10,000 Clicks; 10,000 Hours."

September 2, 2011

Yarnbombing And Lichen It!

I took this picture at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois just this week.  I first noticed this tree from my perch on a 12-foot high platform built around a 60-foot tall Sycamore tree, a lookout point above the arboretum's one-acre Maze Garden.  I was instantly irritated when I noticed this tree because I thought that it had been painted and I felt that an arboretum, whose mission it is to plant and conserve trees, had no right to defile one of their own trees.  I decided to get down off the platform and go investigate.  As I got closer, the "paint" on the trunk started looking lacier and I soon noticed that somebody had lovingly crocheted a tree cozy.  That somebody is Ohio artist Carol Hummel, in a work of art that she calls "Lichen It!"  In her artist statement, Hummel says that she is creating a "visual and fun reminder of the crucial long-term relationship between man and nature."  Her work won me over.

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