Monday, May 6, 2013


pictures by Cheryl

The other night I was about to go to bed when I noticed the little white, ceramic figurine next to my husband's side of the bed.  She lived there for the past few years but I just dusted her off nonchalantly not consciously thinking of her symbolism.

However, on this night, as I was about to tuck myself in for the night I noticed her little, angelic, peach colored, ceramic face had a glow to it.  I did a quick double-take because the glow was coming from the light above her head. I suddenly felt the glow had a deeper meaning.  Why? The angel was given to my husband by his mom in the early 1990s when he was recovering from skin cancer.

My husband and I met in the early 2000s and he still carried the angel with him.  He told me her story and how she watched over him while he recovered. When we got married I made sure to make a place right next to his side of the bed so she could continue watching over him.  He has been cleared for a number of years now but she has pride of place atop a platform on the bedside light next to his side. She still watches over him to this day.

It was surreal when I noticed the bedside light above her head created a halo effect.  Over the past few days I have been thinking about the significance charms have in our everyday lives.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Commentary on Poem by Noy Chou "You Have to Live in Somebody Else's Country to Understand”


Purchase above book at: Biblivault

What is it like to be an outsider? 
What is it like to sit in the class where everyone has blond hair and you have black hair? 
What is it like when the teacher says, "Whoever wasn't born here raise your hand." 
And you are the only one. 
Then, when you raise your hand, everybody looks at you and makes fun of you. 

You have to live in somebody else's country to understand. 

What is it like when the teacher treats you like you've been here all your life? 

What is it like when the teacher speaks too fast and you are the only one who can't understand what he or she is saving, and you try to tell him or her to slow down. 
Then when you do, everybody says, "If you don't understand, go to a lower class or get lost." 

You have to live in somebody else's country to understand. 

What is it like when you are an opposite? 

When you wear the clothes of your country and they think you are crazy to wear these clothes and you think they are pretty. 

You have to live in somebody else's country to understand. 

What is it like when you are always a loser? 

What is it like when somebody bothers you when you do nothing to them? 
You tell them to stop but they tell you that they didn't do anything to you. 
Then, when they keep doing it until you can't stand it any longer, you go up to the teacher and tell him or her to tell them to stop bothering you. 
They say that they didn't do anything to bother you. 
Then the teacher asks the person sitting next to you. 
He says, "Yes, she didn't do anything to her" and you have no witness to turn to. 
So the teacher thinks you are a liar. 

You have to live in somebody else's country to understand. 

What is it like when you try to talk and you don't pronounce the words right? 

They don't understand you. 
They laugh at you but you don't know that they are laughing at you, and you start to laugh with them. 
They say, "Are you crazy, laughing at yourself? Go get lost, girl." 
You have to live in somebody else's country without a language to understand. 
What is it like when you walk in the street and everybody turns around to look at you and you don't know that they are looking at you. 
Then, when you find out, you want to hide your face but you don't know where to hide because they are everywhere. 

You have to live in somebody else's country to feel it.

Written by Noy Chou

***Published in 1986 by the Anti-Defamation League for the "A World of Difference" project.


I migrated to this country 2 years after this poem was written at the age of twenty-three. I'm now 50 years old and reading this poem still wrenches at something deep in my gut. My eyes linger on each word as if to imprint and embed them deep into the inner recesses of my mind and soul. I cannot stop reading it because it feels as if the words and the spaces in between are transmitting something that is so powerful and meaningful I feel filled up to the brim from its message. 

The poem speaks to me personally, my life as an immigrant and the many changes I had to go through, sometimes reject and accept, in order to keep moving forward.  To live my life in this country I had to fully embrace a new mindset and a new life style in order to understand and deal with the many choices presented. The poem stresses the courage and resilience of people like myself (outsiders) who have embraced a new status quo in order to make it through. Living as an immigrant in this country and raising a child in a family where one or both parents are immigrants' calls for determination  and resolve because you have to try to see things from the inside out and from the outside in at all times.  In other words an immigrant has to be flexible and be willing to evolve in order to thrive. They have to be willing to fall and get back up: to fail and see the upside of failing.

When I first entered this country I lived in the Bedfordstyvesant area of Brooklyn, New York where I connected to a vibrant West Indian community. Until then most of my life was spent in Barbados, West Indies where I spent most of my days in the sun and enjoying island life. My upbringing was difficult and traumatic but I was surrounded with people who looked like me and a culture that reinforced the belief that I could do anything I dreamed of doing as long as I became educated and worked hard. I saw people in powerful and leadership positions who looked like me. Life in Barbados prepared me to empathize and understand other people and cultures.

Living in my West Indian neighborhood in New York allowed me to continue buying and eating the foods I was accustomed to, but as the years passed by and I moved away from the inner cities and lived in the suburbs, I had to make even more adjustments to my lifestyle.  The further one travels away from the urban areas, as a black person, one finds the foods, clothes, hairstyles etc that you love are  not easy to come by. Adjustments had to be made on all levels internally and externally. The further you travel outside of urban areas the more of an outsider you become.  One of the major changes I had to make was relinquishing my love for eating most of my food with gravy and with my favorite hot sauces.  The hot sauce mostly available during those days was Tabasco. My diet became bland, my attire less colorful and more practical and comfortable. I found it harder and harder to explain the changes to my family back home because they were not living in America and could not understand my everyday life and struggles.

People made fun of my accent: of the fact that I had more than one job. Some assumed that my natural dreadlocked hairdo was a wig or that I did not wash it.  Many did not know where Barbados was or even about the history of the Caribbean and if you so much as complained about life here in the USA they were quick to say, "if you do not like living here go back home!" Even when I was the only black person in a room with an accent like mine I held on to sliver of the umbilical cord, which kept me connected to my culture and my home.

Noy Chou reached out with this poem and its words still vibrate in powerful and impactful ways.  The poem has been used in lesson plans in schools and elsewhere to help bridge differences, promote tolerance and understanding.  This poem speaks to spirit.  It is a primordial scream that resonates on every level of one’s psyche.  It demands one look inward and outward at the same time; it demands that the insider hear what the outsider is saying and feeling and at the same time asks for compassion, civility and justice even as it communicates a righteous and indignant anger that cannot be ignored or underestimated.  

See Cheryl's Memoir excerpt: "Turning 50 Is a Bitch"
See Cheryl's Greeting Cards and Art at: FineArt
See Cheryl's 13 year-old daughter's Artwork at: AmaSepiaChan

Please feel free to leave a comment below. It would be very much appreciated if you share your thoughts

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Life is it just a word?

cross-posted from JackandJillPolitics

North Dakota passed 3 stiflingly strict, repressive and regressive abortion laws on Wednesday March 27, 2013.   The state made the national headlines with this move because it became the first to ever pass laws that would ban almost all abortions. This new law will ban an abortion at the first sign of a heartbeat and will set a precedent across the country. There is obviously a pattern emerging across the country that goes to the heart of Roe.  Kansas is the latest state to join the parade.

The brainiacs who passed the law in North Dakota must be proud of themselves but at what cost to women.  There are reasons upon reasons why women get abortions.  The decision to have an abortion is not arrived at lightly than most.  Yet, these morons sitting in their mothball ridden seats in a legislature in tiny Dakota have decided to throw a nasty wrench into the lives of many that will have national repercussions.  Who the hell are they to decide something so personal when they do not even know the lives and situations of so many.

Is life just a word to them?  

Why is it so important to protect the the mere sound of a heartbeat that has not morphed into anything more? What about the millions of fully developed lives and heartbeats out there: living and breathing sentient beings who have dreams, hopes, families, goals.  The time of these political hacks would be better spent making sure these living, breathing beings have  jobs, are able to support their families, send their kids to school for a first-rate education and are not in fear of gun violence at every turn.

Some say life is about the survival of the fittest amongst us.  However, sometimes we have to open our hearts and our minds to those who are not that fit but still deserve to live.  Life is a fight for survival from beginning to end.  Look at the way baby turtles struggle to find their way from just hatched eggs to the lips of the ocean in their fight to begin their journey to adulthood.  When baby tadpoles are born many are eliminated and only the strongest make it to live as a frog.  The journey of many creatures begin this way including human beings.  The sperm fight their way to get to the female egg, sometimes there is an anomaly, but usually only one will win.  Nature works in mysterious ways.

So tell me Dakota Legislators, and other  across this country joining you, who are you to decide when life begins? Are you soon going to take it upon yourself to tell us when a life should end as well? Oh, yeah you already tried that one, remember Terry Schiavo anyone?Your arrogance goes beyond boundaries.  You are willing to protect a barely decipherable heartbeat but are you willing to protect those who are already here amongst us who need your help and support? Please spend your time more wisely and give us sensible gun laws that will protect the living instead of passing laws that offend most.  Stop being so ideologically driven and do what is right for all of us not what is right for your party.  Do your job right and stop being driven by ideological polls and focus groups. Help us all to live better lives by making laws that help not hinder. 

Life, is it just a word to you?

Radical Abortion Laws going after 'Roe'

See Cheryl's Blog here: SepiaGurlSweetSpot

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tribute to Amaranthia Sepia my Eternal Flower "In My Daughter's Eyes" Lyrics by Martina McBride

Pic by Cheryl Gittens-Jones

Dearest Amaranthia Sepia "Eternal Flower" this is how I feel about you love.

"In My Daughter's Eyes" Lyrics by Martina McBride

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me
strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daugter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

love mommy kisses and hugs April 2013

Amaranthia Artist of the Day Kimball Jenkins

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Aging: Turning 50 is a Bitch (Excerpt from Memoir "GAAJO" unpublished)

Thank you Goddess! :-()

Cheryl younger pics taken by John Pisareck from NJ. Older Cher pics by my husband

  A big change is coming. All my senses are attuned to the new reality of getting closer to receiving my AARP card.  Remembering anything short term can be taxing.  The things I want to remember I tend to forget and the things I want to forget I remember. I still love and hunger for all life brings but at a slower pace.
            Recently I started receiving online advertisements for senior dating: Seniors Match, We have a sweet senior single near you.  I sat at my computer reading the email over and over because only one word stuck out and that was senior. Nowadays, I can literally hear the hands of time clicking as I get closer and closer to the day when it will be official.
            Accepting this aging thing has not been easy. I keep noticing sign posts in my environment which subliminally shepherd me to an understanding that youth is slipping away.  Online Application forms no longer feature my birth date of 1963 on the first page.  I have to scroll a bit to find it. I can’t buy a bikini or even a one piece swimsuit off the rack.  Nowadays it takes me weeks to choose a swimsuit and then I do it online because some sites have perfect illustrations of different body types to help me out. Heck I even care about healthcare, pensions, social security and wearing sensible shoes.  Not one of these things ever bothered me before.
           Guiding my 11 year-old daughter through her own transition, as she prepares for middle school, adds even more fuel to my own changes.  Not only do I have to worry about my own hormonal shifts and drifts, I find myself counseling her about hers.  Her transition helps to keep me grounded in mine because taking care of a pubescent girl is just as trying as navigating my own premenopausal drama. Even as I struggle with my ups and downs and grief regarding the loss of a self that I never fully got to know, here comes another unfamiliar me strutting into the picture demanding attention and here comes my daughter sliding into the picture next to me. 
Somehow we have worked out a system and we are helping each other through this whole process, but did anyone tell me that turning 50 actually starts when you turn 45? I started noticing the changes back then.  Unfortunately, they are not letting up only intensifying and expanding.
I never really gave it much thought but I guess I always felt 50 would just happen. 
 I longed to be 16, 20, 30 even 40 but getting to the half way mark never really did it for me.  Now I find myself thinking about it more and more, just as my daughter’s thinking more and more about turning 13, and never again having to hide the fact that she has to wear a bigger bra than for most her age. I feel the pull of the big Five-OH at every turn.  It feels like an invisible magnet is pulling the discombobulated pieces of my torn psyche back together from their scattered confines.   I don’t like it but it is happening.  Some days I am scared, anxious and filled with fear and others I am accepting of what is to come: a mere supplicant.  
I have no reference to look to and no way of having my questions answered regarding this big, burgeoning change that is rapidly approaching.  My mother and I no longer talk and I don’t know if my father is dead or alive. I can hear the sharp whistle of time flying towards and past me all at once and there is not a thing I can do about it. 

My outer shell betrays me even as I feel like a child inside. Sometimes my ‘inside child’ will try to break out and do crazy things like trying on skinny jeans or bikinis in department stores.  However, she is quickly subdued when the outer me sees what I look like in the mirror and things get back to normal in a hurry.  More and more I am realizing that I am not the master of time: time is the master of me.  The inevitable is catching up with me rather quickly.

In my early twenties I was baptized as a Born Again Christian.  The day of my baptism was very exciting and I rushed to change my clothes in the lady’s room.  By the time I arrived most of the women were in complete disarray.  I was so shocked by what I saw that I had to force myself to avert my eyes.  Most of the women being baptized that day were much older and I was amazed at how different they looked undressed.  People I saw every Sunday and admired for their savvy appearance were literally coming undone.  I had never seen so many sags and belly folds in my life. 

I judged them at the time because I had nothing to worry about regarding my own smooth, toned body. Now I am one of those women.  Today I am ashamed of how critical I was regarding the effects of their natural aging. I am no longer sneering at sags and folds on others because I now have my own to worry about.  I have a cup for my dental plate that replaces my 2 missing teeth.  I am too chicken to get implants so I walk around with them in my bag and put them in as needed.  I always thought I was going to have all my pearly whites. When I was a little girl I laughed at my mom when she had to put her teeth in a cup at night.  Who’s laughing now? Somehow I just never saw myself flowing flab all over the place with teeth missing to boot: there is indeed a “circle of life:”

Everything is changing and shifting in my life. Every day brings a new development on one level or the other.  Not only do I have to wear a panty liner all the time but if I don’t, a good laugh or hard sneeze will certainly bring regrets and embarrassment. Lately, I have been wondering why there is such a plethora of products for women to keep themselves cleanCome to think of it, these products were always there but I seem to pay more attention than I ever had before.  And the same thing goes for prunes and my obsession with fiberYou can find sprays, wipes, suppositories and so on at most stores. In fact there is an entire shelf area dedicated to feminine hygiene products.  Are they trying to send us a message? 

Life is such an enigma.  When the collection in your medicine cabinet suddenly seems to be expanding with names you can’t even pronounce or understand, and visits to the doctor are more frequent; you know things are shifting fast.  They prescribe medicines for ailments you once heard your mother and grandmother complain about; they give you other medicines to ward off side effects and others to ward off the side effects of the side effects. 

After my daughter was born I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and the struggle to manage my weight began.  It took me 10 years to figure out that diets will never help me because Hypothyroidism guaranteed I would always look a little bloated.  Year by year the list of ailments have grown and now includes asthma, high blood pressure and using a ‘happy light’ in winter for what I call my ‘seasonal light disorder issue.’  I look forward to the next 10 years with glee.

Night time has become my official enemy.  I have always been a night person but now I am a full-fledged bat.  I have to force myself to go to bed because I know if I don’t, waking up in the morning will be hell unless I take the little blue pill that eases my stress and anxiety as well as keeps my pressure in check.  Yet, each night brings more tossing and turning with the eventual 3-4 hour drift off and then, without fail, the wake up, which is always around 3 o’clock in the morning until dawn.  By the time I roll out of bed I am in pain and exhausted from the mind games I have to play to entertain myself while tossing and turning and listening to my husband snoring. 

Lately I awake drenched in sweat from head to toe, which forces me to change my clothes before I can even begin my day. This feeling of being in my teens on the inside is quite exhilarating but someone needs to communicate this to my outside body parts. There is an amazing amount of energy and drive inside of me but thats the problem: it’s just inside.  Nowadays I have to make sure to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise for my heart health as well as to make certain my joints don't cease up.

My monthly menstruation has a mind of its own much like it did when I first started way back in my elementary years.  During those days I was scared to go to school when my time was near fearing a delugeThese days I cannot tell if it will be a deluge or a drip and I never know if or when it will arrive. Today I am teaching my daughter how to deal with hers. I am looking forward to the day when it is gone for good because I have had enough already!

Then there are the age spots that seem to be sneaking up and sprouting all over the place.  Sometimes I wonder whose body I am in because everything seems so unfamiliar and new but in an old way.  Not only are the spots annoying but they are accompanied by certain parts of my body being pulled by gravity.  Lately, things require a lift and a nudge to get them into their garments and the same to get them out.

Above all, there is this feeling that there is something big coming or that a grand shift is about to take place and it is omnipresent.  Thankfully, I have my daughter’s own life changing drama to keep me in some sort of alignment as my life performs this unfamiliar but somewhat rhythmical yet erratic dance towards the inevitable.  Being here to offer her support and advice is my saving grace.  Day by day and moment by moment I am feeling the weight of life lived and the worry of life to be lived and lost.

Plus, why can’t I seem to stop dropping pieces of food on my clothes while eating? I think only a bib will solve this new problem because the stains are not always easy to remove. I used to laugh when my mother-in-law would tell me stories like this about her own life change.  Now my daughter is laughing at me.
 I am looking forward to what is coming but also anxious about what is leaving.  There is this constant push and pull.  Turning 50 is a truly a bitch! However, it is mine. So bring it on panty liners, sags, folds, lost/repressed memories along with all the other crap.
I am ready…I think. What was I talking ‘bout again? 

This is taken from my new unpublished Memoir titled: 
GAAJO: A story of Loss, Courage, Faith Love and Rejuvenation

Synopsis for "GAAJO.."
Gaajo means hunger in Somali.
The author used Gaajo as the title for her collection of Personal Essays after seeing the intense suffering of Somali refugees in a news report on television. The raw images of emaciated men, women and children trying to escape the terrible drought in their country by attempting to cross the border to Kenya were seared in her mind. One man relayed the story of how his wife gave her food to her kids and died from hunger 'Gaajo'

The physical images of such unrelenting suffering amongst fellow human beings resonated deeply in her life.  She was seeing a part of her psyche projected on a screen right into her living room: a part of herself that was always hidden from the world.
She identified with that hunger and suffering even though her own physical life experience had never come close.  However, her very essence had been consumed and infected by 'Gaajo' for as long as she could remember but she never felt she could name her affliction until she heard the Somali word.

Seeing the plight visited upon the Somali people helped to unleash the floodgates of creative energy within helping her to overcome her own internal drought.  She shares her story of how hunger "Gaajo" almost destroyed her life and how she was saved from it's destructive force through her writing, faith, love and motherhood.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tasty Caribbean National Dishes reflect island nation's identity, ethnicity and culture

The flavorful National Dishes and all other foods of the Caribbean were influenced by the islands' migrant culture. Most of the food in the Caribbean came from somewhere else. Slaves from Africa who were forced to leave their homelands in Africa were creative in preparing the entrails that were given to them by the Plantation owners. Some of the dishes the slave owners brought with them from Europe evolved from less flavorful to become more tasty because of the spices and herbs found in the Caribbean.

Once slavery was curtailed they sought new labor by bringing migrants from China and India and this further caused the food in the Caribbean to evolve introducing, rice, curries, noodles and stir-fry. Even the starchy yet delicious breadfruit many of us islanders grew up eating came from elsewhere and made it to the islands after much ado involving a mutiny on a ship called 'The Bounty' and the now infamous British Captain Bligh.  .

When I was growing up in Barbados,  an early Saturday morning meant a trip downtown to the market for the freshest of meat, vegetables, fruit and ground provisions such as yam, sweet potato, yucca, plantain.  The calls of the hawkers (women who sold their fare in the market place) calling out trying to coerce my mom to buy sweet mangoes and sour sop here, just-enough-ripe breadfruit over there or guava, scallion and hot, red chili peppers to make homemade seasoning, "come get it fresh and sweet here dahling", were the words I would hear as my mother tried to navigate between the concrete slabs where they stood guarding their colorful bounty.

The bunches of sweet smelling, fresh thyme, parsley, chive, lemon and lime were all neatly tucked away in a plastic bag atop the shopping bag brimming with the smells I came to associate with my homeland in later years when nostalgia overcame me.

By the time the sun made its way up to register the noon hour we were back home ready to relax after a nice delicious bowl of pudding and souse (blood sausage made with finely grated, seasoned sweet potato and pickeled boiled pork).  Sometimes our neighbor would replace the souse with warm Cou Cou (cornmeal stirred to a smooth texture with okra) and succulent flying fish stewed in onion and tomato sauce seasoned just perfect. She never used a measuring cup or spoon and neither did my mother. To this day I cook my bajan dishes without measuring because this way of cooking was passed down to me by my mother.

Little did I know I was eating  dishes that would be one day considered as one of the top 10 National Dishes in National Geographic. Today the dishes that so many of us grew up eating everyday in the Caribbean are National Dishes and consumed by the many visitors who come to our island shores.

Islanders are linked by many things including their location, migrant culture, tropical weather, tourism and a reputation for prime, fun, vacation spots.  However, although the islands and islanders have many things alike Caribbean food showcases just how diverse and rare each island, taken by itself,  can be.  

The Jamaicans have a famous technique they used in their cooking called 'jerk'. The method includes cooking spiced meat such as chicken and pork over heated coals.  It was passed down from African males who hunted in their home countries spending extended periods of time away from home.  The first slaves who came to the island perfected it.  'Jerk' involves a long, slow cooking process and is enjoyed by many nowadays by many.
Indians from India who  migrated to the Caribbean after slavery are now an integral part of Caribbean culture, introduced meats flavored with curry as well as curry powder or as they call it 'kari podi'. We now enjoy curried dishes of all kinds including Roticurry goatcurried crab and dumplings.  The Chinese migrants brought mustard seed with them and the sailors who came from Portugal introduced codfish.  America gave us vegetables including potatoes, chili pepper, beans and much more.  
The many flavors in Caribbean food that imbue our senses are inspired by the French, British, Chinese, Portuguese, Indians from India and native Indians. Caribbean dishes are so flavorful and delicious anyone who tries them can experience the feeling of the Caribbean itself: beauty, sun, surf, fun, laughter, heat, pulsating beats of carnival and authentic culture.
My African-American mother-in-law who is a foodie has personally experienced these feelings.  She never visited the Caribbean but she enjoys everything including the food. My in-law a more of a fan the first time she spent christmas with Jamaican in-laws in Florida.  She told me on Christmas morning she awoke to  the smell of something deliciously overwhelming.  Later she learned it was, as she described it, "goat stewed in herbs" cooked from 5 o'clock in the morning to "fall-off-the-bone" deliciousness. Later she she was given something that reminded her of scrambled eggs but found out it was the famous "Ackee and Saltfish".   Mom loves the Jamaican Patties they gave her and took some back home.  To this day she cannot stop talking about her immersion in Jamaican cooking that Christmas.  
Two National Dishes:

Jamaica: Ackee and saltfish is made with salted fish and the inside fruit of the Ackee which when done is similar in appearance to scrambled eggs.  The salt fish is boiled over and over again until the salt is removed. This dish is served as an entree meal mostly at breakfast.

Guyana: Pepper Pot is made with the extract of cassava with a variety of meats to choose from but beef is the favored meat to use. It can be placed on a bed of white rice or with split peas and black eye peas and rice.  This is a spicy dish served as an entree.

A wide variety of dishes can be chosen from island to island but they all have one thing in common: delicious, succulent flavor-fulness that can't be beat, and most recipes are accessible on the internet.

Cheryl's LinkedIn Profile

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cracks in Concrete not all they cracked up to be

"…even with the best floor designs and proper construction, it is unrealistic to expect crack-free and curl-free floors…” 302.1R-04: Guide for Concrete Floor and Slab Construction.

 The way hairline cracks were made to look attractive in this 8,000 ft2 remodel for a low cost retail store in Irving, TX was a prime example of how economical and yet striking an acid stain floor can be. After a few days of cleaning and prepping the floor, we applied a kona brown stain to it that created this rich patina which varies in color throughout the floor; even the cracks in the floor add to the beauty. The owners loved both the color and the price.  After an experience with cracks in the concrete of my home, it is amazing to see how hairline cracks can become an asset to any d├ęcor and not a detriment.
In 2008 when my husband and I moved into our brand new house we were elated!  Everything pleased us down to the new smell of new concrete in our ample basement.  However, as we settled in during the first year and the house continued to settle around us we noticed tiny hairline cracks appearing in different areas of our home.

The most important thing we learned was that hairline cracks are not usually cause for concern since they were considered as non-structural cracks. 

Structural Cracks and Non-Structural Cracks

In an April 2011 article on Plant Engineering & Maintenance (PEM) Drew Robb helped me to understand the difference between structural and non-structural cracks. He quoted John Dunterman, who worked at Wiss, Janney Elstner Associates, which is an engineering firm.  According to Dunterman, it was important to "accurately assess" the cracks to figure out what category they fell under before one went about finding the "right repair solution." 

Concrete Cracks and their Causes

There is a wide assortment of information available about concrete cracks available on the internet.  However, for a lay person like me, the site that broke it down best was eHow home.  A short and readable piece written by Lon Quist, and eHow Contributor made an easy list in his piece "Causes of Cracks in Concrete".  According to him the type of concrete used and type of crack that occurred should determine the repairs to be done.  Some types of cracks that can occur are:

* Random Cracks-cracks spread in multiple directions
* Settlement Cracking-when the ground has not been readied properly.
* Heaving Cracks-caused by fluctuating temperatures.
* Hairline Cracks

Hairline Cracks and why not to worry

All in all, hairline cracks were nothing to be worried about.  Another site that put my fears to rest was a type of forum where all questions related to concrete can be answered.  A short piece on the site titled "Fixing Hairline Cracks" finally gave me the last bit of information I needed and I set about fixing the tiny cracks after a thorough assessment. 

Interesting Articles on Cracks in Concrete: