Wednesday, December 31, 2008

on stereotyping

Big Steve and I saw Quantum of Solace this afternoon as our New Year's Eve's event. (Not sure what the title means, even yet.) We are not eating out til Easter (yah right) and plan to lose a ton of weight, get fit, save money, and what the heck, get younger. (Since we are on a roll...) So our big plan was to go to the show, eat at home, and play scrabble. Whoopee!~

S0 here's the good news. There was a Canadian character in the movie. A Canadian spy. (Not sure we have those.) An intelligence agent. A gorgeous woman. Yah Canada. Not the burly butch/fem/Mountie we sometimes envision, falsely I might add. So the last sexy woman spy in the movie was a Canadian. A sexpot gorgeous woman. Intelligent. I am likin' this.

Now, all the previous gorgeous women spy's in the story have been, surprisingly, well, can I say, violent? Sitting cross legged in their little black dress, something happens to annoy them and suddenly they have you thrown across the room, spiked in the neck with a 4 1/2 inch heel and begging for mercy - without themselves having so much as a maladjusted bra strap. (Of course those fake boobs STAY PUT!~)

But the Canadian spy? She is sitting in her little black dress, and finds she has been taken by a bad person, is asked to leave the room, and .... well, she does it! She tip-toes softly to the door and obediently leaves the room!

Friends, there's more! It gets worse. The stereotyping grows, and as she quietly QUIETLY closes the door she murmers, "Thank you." ARGH!~ I know I know - Canadians are polite. Canadians are reticent. We apologize when someone crashes into US! We help little old ladies cross the road. We are almost, well, British.

No one in the theatre got the joke - you Americans! But WE GOT IT. We knew we were being mocked. We knew we are the butt of yet another ethnic joke.

Sigh. That is how it is being a foreigner in a foreign land. Abuse. Mockery.

Just wanted to make a point of all this. Just wanted to say that Canadians have feelings too. And thank you so much for listening to my rant. I feel much better. Hope I didn't offend you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

love love love (sung to music)

"May 12 angels guard you as you sleep...
that may be a waste of angels, I don't know..."

I heard this line in a funky acoustic song on WUKY this morning as I drove carefully on icy roads to my office ... and it came back to me over and over all day long. (Which means something in light of my slippery brain.)

Here's the thing. Nothing matters more than people. And most particularly, your very own people. Which list might be expanded to include all the people you love as well as those made of the same stuff as you.

I pray 12 angels will guard my infant granddaughter twins in Portland, while they sleep and while they grow. And may 12 angels guard my Kyra as she makes her way through the world of an almost teenager by bus and imagination and feet in running shoes. I pray 12 angels will keep my Megan's view of the world alive with flying dogs and faeries. I pray 12 angels will protect Ben and his three precious ones as they make huge changes and dare to step out of comfort and what is familiar. And without question, 12 angels for Vincent to sing over his life, and 12 for Rachel and Curtis to hold those cars together, in fact, make that 15 angels for the cars. And 12 angels for Mark and Tina to give them all the capacity they need for their expanding life. And of course, may 12 angels guard my Steve and keep him with me for a long long time.

All that and I've only begun. Maybe its a waste of angels. But I don't think so. What better could they do?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

blue guitar

They said, "You have a blue guitar, You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are, Are changed upon a blue guitar."
(Wallace Stevens)

One of my man-friends came into my office yesterday holding a barrel, well actually a 36 oz plastic container, full of pork rinds, chitin's, whatever. Now, pork rinds are a southern delicacy, basically puffed pork skin. (Have you SEEN unprocessed pork skin?) Light as a feather, so a container holding 36 ounces is a big bucket.
What ensued was a lengthy discussion of fat content, taste, and cultural appropriateness, resulting in me gingerly taking one yellow styrofoam feeling bit of popped pork and yes, eating it. The taste was similar to bacon, presumably if it was deep fried. My tongue perceived it as salty, bacon-esque, and falsely light.
For some time afterward I had a slimy feeling in my throat. And a queasy stomach roil. Could be that it was 'all in my head' or it could be that it is simply bad food. Clearly there are those who feel otherwise.
This small moment of shared culture illustrates one simple thing. We each have a different guitar.
My neighborhood (which consists of one main road and several small cul-de-sacs) has over twenty five inflatable Christmas characters floating just above ground. During the day they lay deflated on the lawn, sad as a discarded piece of rubber on the floor of a cheap hotel.
One life size Santa stands on a porch, waving, and singing LOUD carols, the benign kind, at a sound level that reaches into every home.
We display more light covered reindeer than needed to make a significant northern herd.
My taste goes more to a lit candle on the counter. My Christmas joy comes in the packages called Kyra and Flora and Blaise and Meg and Alaska and Zoe. A good laugh with a friend, a note on the counter left by Steve. Not so much about overblown Grinches and snowmen.
My daughter taught me about 'freak flags'. Apparently everyone has one. Not everyone flies their freak flag. For those of you who are uninformed, a freak flag is your outrageous, inner alter-ego. That bit of you, usually contained, which sneaks out now and again to startle your people. Never mind your people, it can startle your self! Your freak flag changes things as they are.
So although I am contained and moderate on many fronts, and although my best joys are simple pleasures, I have a grand ability to haul out my freak flag and delight in something extreme: wild boots (on sale), shopping in pj's, toasting miniature marshmallows over an open fire or chocolate cake for breakfast.
Try it. Be unpredictable in something. Things as they are can be less than we need.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


So... we do care about this. A record response. I knew it. We are all the same under our various number of levels of fat.

Here's what I heard this am on Good Morning America. Oprah, the world's most famous yoyo dieter, has written an essay basically saying, 'sorry, I got fat again.' Now... I gotta say, I felt better. I did not have a personal trainer. And by personal, I mean one I own! And I don't have a personal chef. And I don't have a personal diet and exercise regime. But apparently that is not what does it...

So I say WhOOO Whooo! to the Whos... or I mean, good! Even Oprah has the same problem.

Which reminds me of a woman, Elaina, who was a friend in Calgary. She said this to me, and I am not kidding. "Marilyn, sometimes I pray that God will keep you just a little bit fat like you are, so you aren't too fabulous and we can be friends." SIGH With friends like that ...and all.

But you get the drift. We want to know we are not alone. We want to be different - I am my own soul! - but really, we want to know others are like us. And I think it might be a time for me to just do some personal self acceptance training - or maybe to not buy any more perogys. Whichever.

In any case... I love you all my women friends. From all over. Of all sizes. Being a woman is fabulous in any body. More fabulous in some than others, I will concede. But still, fabulous to some degree in all. Let's just all buy something that fits for us to wear this Christmas and sparkle just by being ourselves.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

truth, dammit

Well friends, it is time that I treat you all like an AA group and finally be honest about myself.

Hello. My name is Marilyn. And I am getting bigger.

I don't mean this in the esoteric sense. I don't mean it in the enlarging of the human capacity for compassion. I mean it literally. I am getting bigger. Clearly my 'diet plan' isn't working.

I am not sure what is the cause. It could be, perhaps, that I pretty much have no self control. My body growls, "HHMMMMMMMM food! Feed me!" So I do.

Or it could be perhaps that I eat out four or five times a week and NEVER order off the WW menu. Perhaps it is simply that I am convivial and when food combines with people I am all about joyfully entering in.

However, my carefully laid plans to be a svelte old lady, willowy even, are being shot all to pot. I did work on this problem last month, dropped a full dress size, and went out and bought a cute skirt on sale. I came home, went to Canada, and now, the skirt doesn't fit. I figure I was that lesser size for maybe two days. A lesson to you all - don't buy clothes until you have kept yourself at the new weight for 7 days at least.

So there it is. I read somewhere that when you tell people your goals/needs/confessions etc. it is empowering. In the cause of honesty I must tell you now that I am not feeling that empowerment. Perhaps it is because I am eating cabbage rolls and sour cream as I type this. It could be that YOU are just not supportive enough. Whatever, I will keep you posted.

This is the first day of the rest of my life, so they say. It is yet to be seen if it is the first day of the rest of my fat life, or my svelte one.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Well, it's been a big race this week, back at work, graduation and the requisite 134 emails to answer. But before I forget I want to reflect a little on the Month of November, which has flown past.

First, Regina, Saskatchewan (watch how you say that...) - The cold north city of Saskatoon welcomed me into the life of an old friend. To be with someone you have known for thirty odd years is remarkably comfortable. Nancy and Joe are just like always, except they were wearing old people costumes, complete with beard and wrinkles. It was pretty realistic, too. In some ways nothing changes - we still rag on our 'menfolk', laugh about our misadventures long ago. We were 19 when we met. Having someone who was there when I was 19 helps me believe it actually happened. I saw several herds of deer and a fat white rabbit.

Then Calgary - Kari and the grandkids met us at the airport. Blaise and Grampa Steve have a big thing goin' on and little Flora seemed to like me. Ben taught Blaise to say that Grampa Steve has 'hepilepsy' and then he (Blaise) does a little mock spasm. Tasteful. Ah yes. Can't make enough fun of the 'old silverback.' ;-)

The highlights were:

hearing Ben give an address - I had not heard him speak since he was valadictorian in high school, and his presentation was clear, gripping, engaging, funny. I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was actually very taken aback with his giftedness.

going to Kananaskis with Joy for a spa day - that outdoor hot pool is worth the trip;

dinner with 30 or so of Ben's and our friends - Ben was looking very metro-sexual and we closed the restaurant (figuratively - remember we are old!~)

Steve had a fantasy weekend - attended a game and Detroit beat Calgary in hockey, watched the Calgary Stamperders win the Gray Cup in Montreal, and was presented with a Detroit hockey sweater from his friend Dalton, signed to him by Steve Yzerman. (Who is a hockey player of note. I know, I don't know any thing about it either.)

So... home we came, a little fatter and smiling. Rae and Curtis and The Girls met us here the same night. We play this little game with The Girls where we pretend we are not going to get to their house til later than expected, or never. This time I was fooled by the girls who phoned to say there had been an accident on the highway and they were going 20 miles an hour for miles and miles. They sounded so dejected and bored - and then they burst into the house early~! I am so gullable. We started the week with pizza late that night, indigestion, and big fat smiles.

Here are some highlights:
Planning a surprise breakfast Harry Potter Party for Rachel, complete with a menu of quiche and chocolate cake.

Driving around with the girls in my car, Christmas music playing loudly on the radio, looking at houses decorated with lights - and in Nicholasville there are some VERY tasteless, over-loaded, child delighting festive displays. We found them all.

Turkey dinner with JV making the sweet potatos, and Rachel making much of the rest.

Seeing Bolt, a kids movie, in 3D.

Shopping with The Girls for 12 Christmas presents for their sister to make for the 12 days of Christmas.

Making paper out of old newspapers with Kyra.

A whole day of SALE SHOPPING with Rae in which we plundered the Egyptians.

Toasting miniature marshmallows on Papa's fire, because they were the only marshmellows we had. Very interesting. Very small. Very easy to light on fire.

Whole days in PJ's. Pumpkin pie. Long table games with lots of banter. The new James Bond movie. Chasing the cats away from the bird cage. Feeding the cats. Feeding the birds. Cleaning the cats mess. Cleaning the bird mess.

Showering and blow drying girl's hair. Painting toe nails. Eating chocolate.

It was a grand weekend. A teaser for Christmas. Saw everyone but Mark and Tina and their babes. Seeing them would have made it a perfect month.

Friday, November 28, 2008

on men

Joyfully, our country home is filled with our people this week celebrating Thanksgiving. We also celebrate Rachel's birthday - this year falling exactly on Thanksgiving day. Her birthday is always four weeks to the day to Christmas. This simple calculation means that Christmas this year is on a Thursday.

As a family, we are nothing if not loud and communicative. During one rare lull in conversation, Megan rose to the challenge to fill the space, and asked this question. "Has anyone noticed that even though there are lots of princesses, there is only one handsome prince? It doesn't matter if it is a book or a movie, the prince is always the same."

Without fail, Meg's thinking cracks us all up.

But is there some truth to this observation? Are men so infinitely boring that they can be captured in one prototype, so anally devout that they have no chivalry unless it is the noble kiss of the princess that can be won? Muscular and chisel featured, just change his hair color and it is the same person? And can it be the princess that has all the adventures?

Now, a more ardent feminist than I could have a hay day with this - but I want to be more truthful. The men I know personally in my life are far from cookie cutter man-bots. They do much more than rescue the damsel in distress, although they might very well rescue her, if she wishes to be rescued (a fine point they must learn to discern. Nothing is more difficult to deal with than a damsel who is rescued by the prince just before she was about to rescue herself. It is undoubtedly confusing to be a handsome prince.)

But on to other things. The Elliott tribe has produced very good menfolk. Take Vincent for example. On the morning of the twenty seventh of November, several factors converged in Vincent's life. His sister was celebrating her birthday. The party was taking place at breakfast - dubbed the HPP. (Harry Potter Party for those of you who are unhip.) A scull was centered on the table. We had a poetic reading, a song, an HP quiz (all presented by little girls in full regalia) and gifts.

Vincent, though, was thinking back to his year in Germany, where, on his birthday, Bjorn, a buff and rowdy fellow and friend, arrived in Vincent's room wearing a dress and carrying a cake. Apparently in some (possibly narrow) strands of German culture the best friend of the birthday person dresses in a fancy German dress and presents the celebrated person with a cake.

Vincent was able (to my great surprise) to locate the very dress Bjorn had worn and although it was a little tight in the boosum, took on the roll of best friend, and greatly enhanced the birthday party with the cake presentation. Now, n0t quite the rescue of a princess, this was a grand gesture on behalf of a brother to his lovely sister. Write this in to the story, fable writers, and you will find a prince of unique disposition.

I will say it again. My handsome princes are not all the same. Nor are they limited to a narrow constellation of adventures.

We can only hope, however, that next November twenty seventh the dress has 'accidentally' been burned. GRIN

Saturday, November 8, 2008

ah...the weekend

You just gotta love the weekend. The one day that the alarm doesn't wake you up. The day you can have an afternoon nap from one to three and not feel delinquent.

Went to the farmer's market this morning. A farmer / marketer stood with a scarf pressed across her mouth - it seemed that cold to her. Not much for sale. Potatos. Roots. Bulbs. I chose the potatos. And eggs. Seems the chickens lay even when it is cold.

Tonight I watched a taped episode of House and ate leftovers. A steaming cup of hot coffee is my companion right now.

You just gotta love the weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

what you see depends on where you stand

So today a young white male told me gleefully he didn't vote - because, and I quote, "Jesus wouldn't vote and so I didn't either." Okay - here was my not so gentle response.

I said, "Are you kidding? Jesus would have driven me to the polling station, sharpened my pencil and told me to vote for Obama!"

Here's the thing. It is easy to dismiss and throw away something you've had too much of. Like doughnuts (British spelling, see previous blog) ... or like freedom, or privilege, or your vote.

I am a woman. I know what it feels like to be shut out. And the women who fought for woman's vote in America knew what it was worth. They knew it was worth being beaten for, being dismissed and humiliated for, being physically and emotionally abused for.

I haven't had those experiences. But I have been shut out of board rooms. I have been shut out of positions I am well qualified for. I have been marginalized and made fun of for my womanly perspective. I have kept silent out of fear. I have ducked out of rooms. I have cried alone over abuses. And I have been unable to vote in this election. (In this case, only because I am Canadian, but still, it was a loss to me as a permanent resident of this country.)

So throw away what you don't value. It's the way of our culture. Throw away traditions and rituals, throw away chances to honor people, throw away children even. But not me. I am going to be the old lady with a big flowered bag, gathering up what you throw away. I am going to gather up the rituals that give peace to people. I am going to gather up chances to bless and honor. I am going to gather up the little ones who are discarded. And I am going to make cakes and cookies and set tables and invite people to them. I am going to give hugs and help with homework and smile at every face I can make eye contact with.

And when I get the chance I am going to vote. And Jesus is going to drive me to the polling station.

whew ... or whoooeee! depending on your point of view

Well, the good news for me is that I don't have to move back to Canada ... very pleased to have been here during this election and seen the historic choice of Americans.

But I have a question.

Does this mean Tina Fey is fired?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

feeling left out of the party ....

Today I feel decidedly left out of the party. I would love to vote. I would stand in line to vote. I would brave inclement weather to vote. I would sharpen my own pencil to vote. But alas, as a Canadian I am decidedly shut out.

So YOU there - go vote. Vote for all of us who are disenfranchised and can't vote.Vote for the sake of your country or your friends or your own self.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"The Female Brain"

I've needed a good book and I think I found it. "Sassy, witty, reassuring, and great fun. All women - and the men who love them - should read this book." (Christine Northrup, MD, author of The Wisdom of Menopause)

For years I have said that one of the striking differences between men and women is that men get a body, and after they go through puberty that very body is their reality all their life. They can abuse it, train it, suffer aging etc, but it is the same reality.

Women, though, go through puberty and into a wild adventure of many many different realities. Each month forces changes on them that are so pervasive that they cannot be soldiered o
n through. Pregnancy radically changes a woman, and then when the pregnancy is over she does not go back to her old self, but to a new self, and I am not talking about a thicker waste-line. I am talking about deep self.

The September vol. of Monitor on Psychology has a cover article called The Pregnant Brain: H
ow pregnancy and motherhood change a woman's brain - for good. (Tori DeAngelis, pg 29) Pregnant women appear to experience slight decreases in learning and memory ability, some even exhibiting decreased ability in memory and speech. "Pregnant women do in fact experience a physiologically based baby brain, the likely result of a hormone flood that peaks in the third trimester as well as possible external factors, such as a more chaotic life during pregnancy, studies are showing."

Hah! Science supporting subjective observation.

Research, the article says, has found the brain actually shrinks a little during pregnancy (Jan 2002 American Journal of Neuroradiology, Angela Oatridge, PhD). Volume returns to normal after delivery.

And what about post partum downs? Hormone levels in a pregnant woman rise to 1000 times - let me write that out so you don't think I made a typo - a THOUSAND TIMES - normal levels and then plunge after birth ... a truly chaotic bit of human music, considering the power of hormones for all manner of things: thinking, well being, strength, energy, feelings ....

The good news is that rats, monkeys and bugs (beetles) increase in performance after pregnancy. The hypothesis is that women's spatial, cognitive and memory ability are enhanced after pregnancy, ostensibly to support childcare. The fact that they will be dead tired for the first six months after pregnancy means that any reported increase is, quite simply, a miracle.

The argument being made is that motherhood is as significant a stage of development as puberty and menopause. "This is another epoch in a female's life. The brain changes are as dramatic as what you see during the other phases." Go figure.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Canadian Humour

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You can look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Alaska, which she does not fancy.)

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter "U" will be reinstated in words such as colour, favour, labour, and neighbour. Likewise, you will learn to spell doughnut without skipping half the letters, and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise." Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary up to acceptable levels (look up vocabulary.)

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as like and you know is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S.English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter "U" and the elimination of "ize."

3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (formerly called gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French Fries are not real chips, and those things you call potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are, pound for pound, the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them! American brands will be referred to as nearly-frozen-gnat-urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors as English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football, it is called soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies.)

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

14. An internal revenue agent (aka tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due backdated to 1776.

15. Daily Tea time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, saucers and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes, plus strawberries and clotted cream when in season.

God save the Queen!

I don't know who wrote this - but this is the kind of thing Canadians laugh at. Just in case you were wondering. (Especially the part about the beer.)

God Save the Queen!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

huzzah! huzzah!

Sometimes life is profound and sometimes it is delicious and sometimes, well, it stands on its head. This morning my baby finches fledged - left their nest - all at once. I was hoping the three we had seen survived, but wondered often if we might find the carcass of one or two laying in the nest.

Well surprise, surprise. Not only are they all alive, but there are five of them! All jammed into that tiny nest, all mostly adult size, all juvenile gray except for Little Dove who is all white.

Apparently a white Zebra finch, while not exactly rare, is an anomaly of a kind. I love that we have one! It isn't an albino which is very rare, and will have some color ... but it is lovely. I smiled all day after seeing my juveniles flitting around, the male whipping his wings in pride and the mother hovering one branch to another. Family like I understand it.

The White Zebra was one of the earliest mutations to occur in captivity. Its exact place and origin is unknown. The White mutation is recessive. True Whites are devoid of all markings and the entire plumage is white. Whites retain the beak color, dark eye color, and orange pigmented legs. The beak color is the only reliable way in which to sex White Zebras. Males have a dark red beak, females retain an orange beak. The eye color can vary from being dark brown to reddish brown. This difference in eye color of Whites reflects the ancestry of the White. For example, Whites with dark brown eyes are likely descendants of a Grey lineage, whereas Whites with reddish brown eyes are descendants from a Fawn lineage. The eye color can be most easily recognized in newly hatched White chicks and becomes less obvious as the birds feather and mature.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

on sabbath

someone said that when you start to actually keep a sabbath you will look forward to it with all your heart. this has happened to me. i long for the one day a week when no one puts expectations on me, when i can gently participate in life like a human who belongs on the earth.

just to notice things. to see that the leaves are changing. to revel in a taste or watch the sky. not to feel obligated to change what i see, to save the world so to speak, but to just see it and know that i belong here too. isn't this what holiness looks like, as well as all the trying and doing and responding?

my response on sabbath is simply to acknowledge. to know i am alive and others are alive also. to crouch like a toad under a flower and feel the soil and smell the scent. yup. a good day. a very good day.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

witchy women and imagination

I just got this picture of my girls all agrin ... all decked out for 'trick or treating'. Lots of people have opinions about hallowe'en but I remember my mom reading a book called "Honey for a Child's Heart" which was all about the necessity of play and imagination. My mom, who was on the conservative side, took it to heart and told me to encourage my kids to enter into fantasy. I'm glad she did that.

Walking through a park today JV reiterated that he had been 'costume deprived' as a child. Always the 'homeless' person ... and his brother a 'hockey player' - which he was. Rae was usually an old man ...which somehow fit her and tickled her funny bone.

In light of these bits and the overshadowing financial crisis in America, I am thinking about what we really need, and what we have. Our expectations have grown. Quite a bit. We expect real life to be what imagination used to conjure up.

The seeming deprivations of my youth were the same deprivations of my husband's youth - albeit we lived in the same city, same neighborhood, dad's both worked at the steel mills. Perhaps there was great wealth in someone's life, but we and our friends had pretty ordinary dreams - to one day own a car, have our own 'place', order a pizza now and then, and to see Detroit Red Wings play live (that last one wasn't my dream but it seemed to keep coming up.)

Our dates were mostly walks, down to the escarpment across which hoards of crows flew every night on the way home from the dump ground, to look at the city lights and lake Ontario off to the NorthEast, or to the old Chinese restaurant beside the 25cent theatre. Sometimes we played tennis in the open tennis court by the school, sometimes we sat on the gravestones in Hamilton Munipical Cemetery. On a good date someone would be being buried.

But we laughed til we were almost sick. We imagined and played and cavorted and never once felt ill done by. Only now, looking back from the mountain of goods my life sits on do I feel regret.

So maybe we need to sharpen our imaginations, begin to walk and to play and to create our magic along the sidewalks of life. Maybe we don't need fantastic experiences, newness always and procured happiness. Maybe we need a magic wand made out of a stick and a shared box of Kung Pow Chicken with fried rice. And a 25cent movie.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

on old friends

We were surprised today by the grinning faces of two old friends - Jake and Elaine from Calgary Alberta. Jake and Elaine are, perhaps, the generation ahead of us, but during our time in Calgary they were staunch supporters and often a generous, parent - like resource to our family. Every young busy family needs someone just ahead of them to keep the lights on for when times seem dark.
Jake and Elaine met us at our first home in Calgary and brought a car load of food for our pantry. They loved our kids and gave us quirky gifts on special occasions. Elaine's big sunny kitchen was a place familiar to me, the pot of coffee always on. Jake would give me that weird 'I'm old but I'm hip' handshake and talk nonsense and make me laugh.

It takes years to make a friend you've had for years. We've started to make those kinds of friends here. But when someone whose been your friend for 19 years! walks back into your life, it is a big fat smiling moment. That's what happened today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

on irony

Yesterday I was in a hurry. I had 18.7 miles to get to my destination for a 3:45 appointment. The traffic was horrible. The slow lane was, well, slow. And the fast lane was clogged by some kind of pokey truck ahead.

We crept along... I wove in and out of the traffic, passing one car and another. Not a good habit for driving but I was in a hurry. And to my credit I did not answer my cell when it rang.

After a good long struggle I found myself behind the culprit. A van/truck, with two red bulls on the back. And suddenly it dawned on me.
I was being held up in traffic by a truck advertising and delivering Red Bull. The drink that is so caffeinated that it is banned from the middle and high schools in Jessamine County. The drink that makes promises you'll go 0 - 60 in ten seconds flat.

And this Red Bull-ish truck/van was slowing traffic. Talk about irony.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

twins... again!

Actually triplets. While we were at the beach Phred and Ethel had three babies - each the size of jelly bean. Finch babies. It has been a week and the babies are still alive, little messes of feather and stretched skin. Their faces are not yet to be seen ...but the movement in the nest proves their viability. I found this picture of what they look like - exactly!

Something about life, new life, just entrances me. I love it all. New babies, new finch babies, new kittens. I love a plant that grows just because it happened to land there... I love strange old trees that get new leaves, I love calves and messy feathered juvenile cardinals that feed on my lawn.

The cycle of life is one of the best gifts we got on this old earth. While I get older there is a never ending stream of newness that is the promise of tomorrow. Really, for all purposes, I am done. I have somewhat ensured the next generation and my hollow womb will never again hold life. But I share it wildly all around.
In the skin on my granddaughter's face. In the endless dreams of the students at my school. In the finch nest upstairs. The best gift. The gift of tomorrow and this old woman gets to see it emerge.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

things I've seen

I saw a mom with her very close to newborn baby enjoying the ocean, the baby laying in a little shallow swirl of water kicking its feet - it was a beautiful sight but the sun was too hot for a baby of that age, to this gramma.

I saw a woman sitting in a beach chair, utterly calm and creating calm all around her. She was reading a book, wearing little shorts and a small t shirt - with a gold chain around her ankle. Something about her captured me as I walked past. On the way back I saw (without trying) that she'd had a double mastectomy - clearly some time ago as she looked well. She wasn't trying to hide it or pretend, just in the moment, alone. Her peace radiated out from her. I am still taken with the image of it.

I saw a dad standing on a sand dune fishing, with a little girl about three wandering away from him. The disconcerting thing was that she was in water to the top of her neck, walking out toward the deeper side of the gulf, and he was oblivious. She did not have a life jacket on. I was ready to go get her... finally he called her back and she struggle toward him. He caught some bait to continue fishing.

I saw a woman with her 84 year old uncle. She was his companion at the beach, and coaxed him into the pool, tenderly. Later I saw him, alone, trying to get the door to his room open with his room card. It didn't work and he looked confused, and he went to the next door and tried that one. He went from door to door trying his card, poor fellow. Confused. I was not in a place where I could get to him.

I saw a huge toad thumping his way from bush to bush, across the sand by the hotel.

I saw a wedding on the beach - set up with white chairs and a little fence, and tropical flowers. I saw the wedding dance by the pool from my second story balcony - ordinary people of all sizes in pretty clothes, dancing and tripping and laughing. I saw the bride in the center of the group laughing and socializing. I saw the groom standing at the side drinking quite a bit. I wondered.

And I saw a bird I have never seen before. A kind of sand piper, but larger and more colorful, alone among a group of less impressive birds. Loved that one - trying to fit in.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

on the beach this time, I really do mean ON the beach. Working hard on St. Pete's beach ... at this moment sitting in my air conditioned room, sucking on pistachios and sipping a non-alcoholic beverage.

This is the first time I've had a workable computer and a viable internet in a week. Can't say I really missed it.

There's a wedding happening right now on the beach. Chairs set up, a little fence around ... it reminds me of how a burial is set up for mourners. But enough of that. No nudes this year as far as I can see. I have had to change my life long adage this year ... you know how I've always said brown fat looks better than white fat. I was wrong. And the two words that ring in my ear as I reflect on the rest of my life are simply this... "remain clothed."

So that's all... got work to do. The sun will set soon ... can't miss it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

on promoting imagination

Today, Sunday October 4th (or 5th?) I went into the Halloween store for the first time. It is tawdry. It is grotesque. It is of the poorest taste. It is over priced. So what was I doing there?

I was shopping for a wizard hat, a wizard wand, a pair of pink horn rimmed glasses, and an orange wig. For my granddaughters. For Halloween when they will go to a Halloween BBQ and trick or treat event in N. Carolina.

I never ever spent money on Halloween when our kids were young. Both Vincent and Rachel remind me that every time Halloween came up I made them be, and I quote, "a homeless person." Or a hockey player.

But to my credit you have to realize that Halloween in Calgary was bitterly cold and whatever costume you had on it was obliterated by the down filled parka, mitts, scarves, not to mention the ice fog.

I remember once I made a spider costume for Ben. It was his idea. We blew up a big round balloon and paper mache'd it into a ball, popped the balloon and painted the ball black. Then we cut a hole in the bottom of it for his head and stuffed women's black hose with newspaper, attaching six of them as legs. We painted on eyes and added long eyelashes - I thought and still think it was a masterpiece of mothering.

But today I went into a store and bought costumes that will end up in the dress up trunk and will get tons of play, considering they are on book five of the Potter series. So there you have it. Not only participation in Halloween but Harry Potter junk. Hell in a handcart my mother in law would say. I did it because this morning on the phone my girls told me their dream of being Harry Potter characters, and they wondered if I had anything around that would help them be that. And I told them I would look. And I did.

I expect that The Girls will add a big dose of imagination to the costumes, and wear them out with fantasies and play games. I am okay with that.

Friday, October 3, 2008

don't wink at me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay- I apologize, before I even begin, for the length of this blog. I actually do my best blogging over the sink in the morning while my husband is shaving and I have a captive audience. Poor man.

Now... I well know that what you see depends on where you stand. Can I just name that reality and say that none of us see without seeing from a vantage point. (I have actually considered having a 'secret' blog I only reveal to a few close friends to say what I really see from my vantage point.) In this I am acknowledging my blog is about me, mostly, and secondarily what is on the political stage right now.

I am a woman who has lived in a man's world all my life. My early formation was within a strongly hierarchical family supported by religious conviction and practice that confirmed male leadership. Boys got possibilities. Girls got married. Men had power. Women had men. As a young girl in the middle of a large family devoted to religious views that could not be questioned, I had no power or voice, on any level.

By the time I was thirteen I learned the power of sex. (A quick study on most anything, still.)
By the time I was fifteen I was pregnant. Okay, didn't use the power well. Knew it. Still know it. I had to grow up and learn that although a woman can gain advantage with little girl sexuality or sexy mature woman allure, these are not the ways I want to get my power.

All my life I have been surrounded by influential persons who believe and teach that women have an ordained role in the human story, and I have experienced the repercussions: women in these circles often do not have legitimate voice, do not have their own power. This is not a philosophical debate for me. It is the soil I stand on, the air I breath, the beatings I have taken. (Let me say here, that my Steve is NOT hierarchical and is a champion of my voice and my power. Bless him. Nor, do I believe, is this an accurate or necessary outgrowth of the Christian faith.)

So, a story - A few years ago while in a doctoral program I was in residence for one year with 20 men. I was the only woman. We lived in community and spent most days together learning or traveling. I was constantly aware of the pitfalls of my woman-ness in that setting. Without compromising too much, I worked to be a person in the group - to give and take and not pull the sex is power card.

Then a certain one of the wives of my colleagues would come in. Whether consciously or unconsciously I don't know, she would bounce into our class space for a visit exuding little girl sexuality and flagrant sexual vulnerability. My classmates would melt. The entire dynamics of the room would change as the men changed their posture, their voice levels, their conversation and their focus. Male profs would begin addressing her almost exclusively even as she sat as a guest at the back of the room. It agitated me beyond the telling. I could not go there, and greatly resented the impact she could have by simply being the vulnerable, girlish, sweetheart of the class. Can I say too, this response is not connected to being comfortable with my woman-ness. Exactly the opposite I would say.

Even now, at some point every week I have to choose whether to go to this kind of power or not. I think I am a pretty good reader of what a man might like as far as ego strokes, soothing, or a woman in his presence to make him feel strong and wanted. And every week I choose away from it. I want to be a person who thinks, connects, respects others for who they are, and contributes thoughtfully to any given moment.

And let me say - this isn't about whether or not I am cute. Or the man is handsome. Or young. A woman, using the sexual power card, whether the little soft girl or the fascinating woman, can hook the notice of a man and shift power.

So last night we watched the Palin/Biden debate. Honestly, I give Sarah Palin credit for her guts. She stood up and handled herself without acting nervous or illiterate. But I have to say, the little girl/sexy woman, wide eyed, conspiratorially winking and almost giggling just made me want to cry. It was demeaning and did not build my confidence in her by any means.

Sarah Palin speaks of things she has learned in "the last five weeks." If a man had said, "I've only been at this for five weeks" the rejoinder would be, "And that, sir, is the problem." Palin speaks of issues like she read them in a book. Or learned them last week. Biden speaks as if he has been there. Which he has.

When a woman plays the little girl sex card it is impossible to be people together. All kinds of interpersonal/ male-female/ power-gender-undercurrents are at play. To do so in a vice-presidential debate is unconscionable. And some people love it. Eat it up.

I am not a hockey mom, or a soccer mom. I was a good devoted mom. I did drive my kids to hockey games. I did sit in a stadium seat with my feet frozen to the floor watching my son try his splendor out. I drove my daughter to gymnastics classes. I have shared a six pack of beer with friends. But I am not Josephine six pack. I am a woman who is a contributing person who wants to be invited to the table to participate in life as a welcome thinker and worker.

To say oh come on kids... don't look at all our trouble in the past, let's just go play on the merry go round and be friends, wink wink. Oh I want to cry. I need more than that from a leader of our country.

This morning I wondered what Condoleeza Rice felt like watching that. She is a woman who enjoys womanly things - love to see how she chooses to dress and present herself. But she doesn't cross the line and use the sex power card. She is a powerful person, and a woman, but her woman-ness isn't used to trip up those who relate to her.

Now - I have seen, even here at the Seminary, that women who want to be thoughtful can slowly lose touch with their femininity ... and I am sad about it. Men are not going to become more womanly to even the playing field, so women become more manly. There must be a way we can be true to a personal articulation of gender without resorting to demeaning personas. That is what I think, anyway.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

you don't have to be pretty to eat at my place

Dove season opens in October, here in Kentucky. People armed with shot guns go out and blam away at the soft gray birds ... I suppose if you get enough, and do the work to clean them, you might have a dinner. You MIGHT.
But at our home the doves are safe - safe and fed and fat. Here is what I've seen of doves.
Doves navigate the air like June bugs do - they are like a drunken sailor (no offence to the Navy) and flap back and forth careening toward their target.
Doves fill their cheeks like squirrels. I have watched a dove fill its cheeks so full - maybe a half cup of sunflower seeds crammed in - that the dove, when it lifted off the ground to rise to its perch, did so with its head sunk lower than its body under the weight of treasure.
Doves are ground eaters. They can't perch on feeders and so make due with what is dropped - which is a lot, frankly. With undisguised malice they attack each other to gain advantage.
Sloppy flyers, greedy stuffers and bickering kids at a playground, mourning doves remain a pleasure to watch, and stay all winter to entertain any birder. My home is a no hunting zone! Welcome doves~

on dreams and little women

Well ... are these not the cutest little girls? They are mine... sortof. smile I so wish I could touch them and feel them and smell the cookie baby breath I so love.

I had a dream last night, a recurring dream I've had for a decade or more. I haven't had it since the day I met Mark. But last night it came to me again. In the dream I have a baby and I forget to take care of it. I mean forget to feed it, forget to remember it even exists. And then the horror and fear as I remember and rush in, only to find the baby is okay, perfect.

Last night I dreamed of overwhelming doing and working - for everyone else ... and then with horror I realize that in all the doing I have forgotten MY baby.

I rush into the baby's room and there she is, all curled up on her tummy and not asking for anything ... the dream baby never cries ... just waits. And I pick her up and although it is three in the afternoon she just yawns and I know I have to change and feed her. The dream is so strange ... I am horrified with myself, ashamed, and yet the baby is thriving and soft and okay. But I also feel at the edge of danger in that I know I am responsible and am being irresponsible ... all that kind of thing. It is a high emotion dream.

So last night I had the baby dream for the first time in l8 months. I wonder why. I am thinking of it and feeling it today. I will choose to act somehow...

I think I know this about dreams. They are only rarely 'messages from heaven.' Mostly a dream is my own inner soul - call it my subconscious or my unprocessed life - trying to speak in the quiet moments when my mind is not so busy measuring and connecting and integrating. My inner unattended-to self speaks in the early quiet hours of the morning and shows me pictures loaded with messages just for me.

Today I add another layer of depth to my day as I let that dream float on my pre-focal mind and see what it might mean. At least life isn't boring.

Monday, September 29, 2008

helloooooo out there....

so what does it take to get my friends to leave comments on my blog. hmmm. maybe i need a less intense topic.

let me tell you about fall in Kentucky. this is how i know it is really autumn. we have a collection of vibrant yellow finches that flit onto our feeders and through our bushes... this glorious bird with a unique call, and distinct habits. sometimes it gets into the bushes and clips its beak along the little branches and (i assume) sucks off all the bugs as if taking meat off a bone. if the flitting and singing is a clue - it makes the bird happy.

in winter the vibrant yellow disappears. i thought our first years that somehow the cold effected the change - like bunnies in Calgary turning white. but we have hardly seen the fifties yet, and yesterday 'my' finches were not yellow. i was shocked. it is fall. my finches prove it even if the weather doesn't.

i have lived in Kentucky for seven years. i love so much about my life. i love that the finches tell me winter is coming.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

brown trout and good men

I have just put two beautiful brown trout and one slightly smaller rainbow trout into the oven along with the roasting asparagus. Wild rice is simmering on the stovetop. It promises to be a lovely dinner.

I learned to cook brown trout in the first year of my marriage. Steve went fishing then, as now, and brought home two lovely brown trout. Always a learner, I decided to go to the library and get a recipe (obviously before and internet learning) so it could be delicious.

So it was on that day I learned about cooking fish, and I learned some things about life too. The occasion of those trout was the first time in my short married life that a man other than my husband tried to get me to 'be' with him. Funny how I think about him for the first time in over thirty years while I slice lemons and drizzle butter on these beautiful creatures.

As was normal, I took the city bus downtown to the library that day. Standing at a bus stop waiting and waiting, a man in a car with real estate signs on the side stopped and offered me a ride to the city center. I took it. (Come on - it was the seventies! Simpler times. Whatever.)

He was old. Probably 35. He seemed nice. I told him I was going to the library to get a recipe so I could cook my husband's brown trout and make supper for him. He asked me if I would stop for coffee at the hotel up ahead. I said no, I didn't have time. He put his hand on my leg and started to move it up, if you know what I mean, and smiling (creepily) said he thought I did have time. I felt scared. At the next light I jumped out. The bus was only a minute in coming. I was relieved to sit on its miserable hard bench and look out the dirty window as it bounced me toward the library.

So I came home that day slightly changed, and cooked a beautiful trout (that like this one smelled amazing) and I didn't say anything to my husband about it. The trout was so good it just didn't seem to matter. My lovely husband still brings me home brown trout to cook. And I hope the other man has hemmorhoids.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

on new language

When we find ourselves in a new reality the language we've commonly used to explain ourself to ourself, or to others, may fall short of fully capturing the new situation. Words are constantly being invented, tried out, and fitted into our daily life.

Today I learned a new word. It is, sadly, menopot. A menopot is the spare tire menopausal women aquire as yet another indignity of aging, as the fat they've accumulated around the hips and thighs over many years begins to defy gravity and migrate to the mid torso at the signal of certain hormones. Basically a weapon of mass (as opposed to mass destruction), the menopot is a general cause for the demise of self esteem, any possibility of finding a nicely fitting jacket and perhaps, the end of the 'little black dress.'

As a matter of clarification, a menopot is not to be confused with the all too common muffin top, prevalent in younger women. No, this particular diabolical trait locates itself a bit higher, and is a bit harder to defeat. The bulge, like the word, is apparently not going away.

Undaunted, however, I am making a call for women everywhere to own our language and find our own meaning for the term, menopot. Several leap to mind. First, menopot could refer to a new product, manufactured upon the legalizing of marijuana for the purpose of peace of mind for those who find themselves in mid life whitewater. "Here honey, have some menopot. You'll feel better." And you will. Both of you.

Relax!! all you conservatives, who are about to flog me, remember I AM CANADIAN! We legalized the devil weed years ago for medicinal purposes, and I think a good case, yes, a very good case, could be made that a woman in mid life who can no longer fit into her favorite jeans and jacket is, yes, indeed, in a condition that may well require medication.

Of lesser interest might be a woman's retirement fund - call it her menopot. One of the blessings of no longer being able to fit into high fashion is that her 401K has the chance to grow. And such a surge in personal riches might well be named, a menopot. Nice. A slight bulge in the middle feels much better when one imagines it in a beach chair, sitting by the ocean during an early-ish retirement.

Other than that, the only good reason I can think to use the term menopot might be to name a quaint little tea room the name ~ Chez Petit Menopot ~ and to secretly offer patrons a "menopot o' tea" (wink wink nudge nudge) which would link us back to the beginning of this blog.

So you see, I am coping. As best I can. Learning. Growing. Expanding my vocabulary. Becoming expressive. Tomorrow I may tackle the new term, "fem-bot" coined by a reporter and used on Rachel Maddow's political comments last night.

ps - my lovely assistant just suggested another - the menopot at the end of the rainbow ... hmmm... we could do something with that! It's either laugh or cry at this stage of the game!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I am setting this up to learn how to post a youtube video ... this is a video Rachel sent me ... it has some

Thursday, September 18, 2008

on the vagina vote

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers;

They lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right

to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed

nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking

for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive.
Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing
went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of
'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above
her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping
for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her
head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate,
Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.
Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging,
beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917,
when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his
guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because
they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right
to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail.

Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike,

they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured

liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks
until word was smuggled out to the press.

Sometimes my friends wonder why I get worked up over things like being manipulated to surrender my 'vagina vote' to whomever best manipulates me by claiming an interest in women's point of view, or by dressing a woman up and having her represent the party.

I do not appreciate feeling manipulated, treated like I cannot think or discern issues. Who I choose to support should be my choice, and I want to be expected to be thoughtful. I don't enjoy seeing ET run a feature on how I can dress like Sarah Palin, on a budget. When did she become the icon for women's expression of life? Because yes, dammit, I know she has been clothed in very expensively cut clothes, the kind a pit bull from Alaska would never herself choose to put on her Christmas wish list. And I don't like feeling obligated by ideological group think to stay with any party regardless of personal choice. A vote IS personal. It is an expression of voice. It is a hope (perhaps a forlorn one, but a hope none-the-less.) It is a belief in a possibly different world. It is a cry for the poor, for children. It is a song in which I carry the tune, even if for one small moment.

So don't expect me to jump onto any bandwagon, even if it's major cheerleader has breasts. (Some men have breasts too, I have noticed, and they shamelessly display them. But that is another blog.)

This matters. Just letting you know.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

just a sittin'

Tonight was lovely - about 70 or less and we sat on our porch for a couple hours. Nothing is nicer than that. Soon will celebrate our 34th anniversary.
Maybe we will celebrate by sitting on the porch.
Pretty bad when that is the pinacle of what can be imagined. But then, we've done almost everything else.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

the Republicans have found their Princess Diana

...that was my thought as I listened to the radiant reviews this morning on the talk shows. She is glamorous while being innocent, has an intriguing presence without being overtly sexual, is undeniably the best speech giver the Republicans have had in decades, etc. So a few thoughts...

I stayed up past my bedtime to hear her and I wasn't disappointed. She gave a great speech with poise and class. A speech she didn't write, clearly, but she added her bits (was the joke about the pit bull in the text?, I don't think so.) Well done. Too bad Rudy stole her time. It is remarkable that such a woman has been chosen to run for VP. But questions float through my mind: is this tokenism? is a woman being used to drive a male agenda? I still feel played ... like a rabbit has been pulled from a hat by the gurus of spin, and I am supposed to be gap-mouth breathless.

First, let me say a woman who can give a fabulous speech is not so rare as one may think. We hear men, and women who try to be men,(which is one of the remarkable things about Sarah Palin, that she did not do that - applause to her) all the time. But even in my circle of friends I think of at least two women who could have hit that speech out of the ballpark. That people are so surprised and amazed at the quality of her speech just shows again that women have been underestimated as leaders.

She is no Hillary Clinton and I am glad of that. She represents a totally different ideology and way of being. But don't for a minute think that even the way she wore her hair wasn't carefully contrived for impact. I am still sorting it out ... a bit of a conflict in me on verbal and non-verbal signals. Non-verbally she was innocent and untainted, the girl next door, extraordinaire. But verbally she was caustic with a darling smile. I feel a bit the way I feel when I watch Joyce Meyer, occasionally. Verbal - non-verbal confusion.

So it remains to be seen what will happen to this as yet un-vetted candidate. For sure she has brought a fascinating twist into the convention similar to Princess Diana's arrival into the royal family of Windsor. A beautiful face - what a relief! - after so many big noses and floppy ears. Trouble was, no one wanted to hear Charles after that. And Diana didn't have too much to say, in spite of the fact that she said it so prettily.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

being political

Last night I read this in Arther Schlesinger's journal. He wrote it midway in the Democratic convention on July 18th 1984.

"The designation of Geraldine Ferraro as vice presidential candidate is fine, even though one cannot repress the thought that Gerald Ferraro with the same record would not have been in the picture. Margaret Thatcher got to the top in spite of being a woman; Geraldine Ferraro approaches the top because she is a woman. But her example will open the way for women who really earned it. I do not mean to belittle Mrs. Ferraro, who, on small acquaintance, seems a bright and pleasant woman in the Joan Blondell style."

The current Republican nomination for vice president, Sarah Palin, does not give me confidence. In fact, McCain seems to be pandering to me, a woman, by choosing a woman. But can I say that this nominee is no replacement for Hillary Clinton, even if I may not have voted for Hillary.

I mean no disrespect. A woman who makes her mark in our culture does so only with courage and fortitude and in spite of much. This woman also has charm and style. All of which I enjoy and applaud. I wish her well, I wish her the gold star. But vice president? Should the president, God forbid, bite the dust, I would no more feel confident of her as leader of the western world than I would Nancy Grace.

It is one thing to be a strong and fine person, and another to be made of the stuff that will take one into battle. I doubt if Sam Palin with the same credentials would have been given a second thought.

As a woman I welcome female leadership. I know this is a touchy issue, but I can't check my brain at the door and applaud simply because there is a woman on the ballot. Sorry John.