February 11-14

Celebrate!

DATESPECIAL AWARENESS
February 11International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 11Promise Day
February 12Darwin Day (his birthday)
February 12Hug Day
February 13World Radio Day
February 13Kiss Day (why can’t we kiss and hug on the same day?)
February 14Valentine’s Day
February 14World Whale Day
Photos by Pixabay

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“The Good Earth”

“The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck, published in 1931, is a story of hardship, love, riches and death set in China in the early Twentieth Century. Buck grew up in China, the daughter of US missionaries and then moved back there after college. She knew the culture of that era and after reading this book you will too. I found some parts hard to read because of the lack of worth and respect ascribed to female children and women, but it was enlightening.

Being a well known classic I thought that I had read this long ago. Recently, I picked the book up off my shelf and upon review saw nothing familiar. I always write the date I purchase a cook inside the cover and I saw that I had owned this book for sixteen years. It is dogeared and had a boarding pass inside which I often used as a book mark while traveling. It remains a mystery as to whether I had read it before and forgotten the whole story! Regardless, I am very glad that I have read it now and if you have not, I recommend that you do.

Pearl S. Buck has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature. By the time of her death in 1973 she had published more than seventy books. It is available in audio and also graphic adaptation editions.

What is your opinion of “The Good Earth?” I am sure that most of you have read this story of a family that depended upon the earth for sustaining their life and lifestyle.

International Women’s Day

For me, it’s hard to get excited about International Women’s Day. In the United States, women have barely advanced in the past few years, if at all. While other countries have had women as leaders for years, the U.S. seems unable to accomplish this. How many more years will little girls here have to grow up to vote for old white men as President regardless of party affiliation?

This is how I feel today. If you live in a different environment I am happy for your country’s enlightenment. Maybe one day here . . .

Woman USA

Photo by Pixabay

Gutsy Women

I’ve just finished reading a book that was very informative and inspiring. The title is “The book of Gutsy Women” by mother and daughter Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. When I first heard of the book I wondered how they would mesh their writing but it worked very well. Each take turns discussing the women they had researched, admired or known.

The Clintons review the lives of well over one hundred individual women plus groups such as the Suffragists. The women profiled are both current and historical figures and each is worthy of the spotlight put on their life. The women are grouped in chapter categories such as Explorers and Inventors, Healers, Athletes, Storytellers and Groundbreakers.

This big book (450 pages) is well worth your time and I recommend it to everyone who wants to be better informed about the contributions made by women. I promise you will learn about lives you were not aware of as well as new details about the more well-known women. These are stories that every girl, in particular, needs to learn.

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One of the things I might change about this book is the title. I was a little put off by the word “gutsy” which to me was a little too earthy, but when I looked up the word, it was me that was wrong. It means “showing courage, determination, and spirit” and the women covered in this book met that definition. The photo on the jacket is not particularly appealing to me either, but once I got past these personal opinions, I was so glad that I took the time to read and learn about the remarkable women profiled on the pages.

Alice Walker Book Review

“You Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down”

This book by Alice Walker is made up of fifteen short stories. The stories vary in content from pornography to the civil rights movement in the sixties. Her stories are about the poor as well as the successful, such as artists and academics. The main focus of each, however, is the struggle of black women. Those struggles are surprising, in that they often come from within or from other African Americans.

Some of the stories I did not enjoy, but others I found very interesting. Probably my favorite was the last and the longest story entitled “Source.”

Walker is fierce in her willingness to tackle any subject. I recommend this book to anyone who is not easily offended. In my opinion, its purpose is certainly not to offend, but to inform.

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Gender Equality

In 1997 after much thought and anguish I officially left the church I was raised in, the church I had served for my entire adult life. At times I have struggled to explain my reasons to those who didn’t understand. I should have let President Carter explain for me. He does so perfectly. I am a recovering Southern Baptist and here’s why.

Losing My Religion for Equality

by Jimmy Carter, July 15, 2009

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

SOURCE: OBSERVER

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

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“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” Kofi Annan

Heart Attacks in Women

What we need to know about Heart Attacks in Women

  1. Heart attacks are the number one killer of women (as well as men)
  2. Heart attack symptoms can be more subtle in women
  3. Women are not men, there are physical reasons such as pregnancy and menopause that account for some variable symptoms in women
  4. Heart attacks are often not promptly diagnosed/treated in women
  5. Women are more likely to experience “silent” heart attacks

Risks

  • Diabetes (more common in women than men)
  • Mental Stress and Depression
  • Smoking
  • Inactivity
  • Menopause (due to estrogen changes)
  • Some chemotherapy such as those used to treat breast cancer
  • Pregnancy complications

Symptoms – onset often at rest or during stress

  • Odd feeling in the chest or minor chest discomfort rather than severe pain
    • Often described as pressure or tightness
    • Palpitations
  • Neck, jaw, upper back or shoulder discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or odd sensation in arm(s)
  • Abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue

Women should not ignore these symptoms and should work to reduce those risk factors in their control. 

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Sources: mayoclinic.com, prevention.com, womenshealth.gov, healthline.com

Graphic by Pixabay

Way Back

Do You Remember?

Way back when  . . . 

  1. Milk was delivered to your door before daylight in a glass recyclable bottle?
  2. Books of matches were free and had advertising written on them?  

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  3. You went to the “show” (movie) and sat in the balcony?
  4. Telephone poles had insulators like these? IMG_7133
  5. Most women were married to their homes, i.e., housewives
  6. Couples on TV always slept in twin beds?
  7. Women did not go to war?
  8. “Howdy Doody” was on TV?
  9. Moms worked 24/7 for no monetary compensation. . . oh, wait, that still sometimes happens.

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Photo by Pinterest

“Old age is just a record of one’s whole life.” Muhammad Ali

 

Year of the Woman 2018

Since the “Year of the Woman” 1992, 1993, 1994, etc., at least one woman has remained in a position of power, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We owe tribute to her. She deserves all the recognition and honor that has been bestowed upon her to this point and more. This eighty-one year old may look frail, but I see her as strong as steel. Ginsberg is not the only woman who has served on the Supreme Court or even the first. She is not the longest serving Justice, either, but she was appointed in 1993, almost twenty-five years ago and she serves with strength and dignity. 26219909_10159808716480297_2166951116171513033_n

#Me Too

Is it possible that the so-called “me too” movement currently sweeping the US will be the turning point for women? Is it likely that women will finally be treated with equity? I want to be optimistic, but I am not, at this point, even hopeful. What will it take? I do not know, but I do know what is at stake. 

At stake is every inch of progress made to date. At stake are healthcare and childcare and the overall economic stability of women and their families. In 2016 the pay gap for women was 20%! According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research if progress continues at the rate of the past fifty years it will be 2059 before there is pay equity between women and men. For women of color, it will be well into the next century. https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/

What is the answer? If only it were that simple, but there are many changes that must be made and while men are important to this cause and their support is essential, it is women who must step up. 

Step Up

  • Run for office
  • Vote in each election
  • Expect (demand) more
  • Educate girls
    • We might begin by recognizing their strength and intellect ahead of their appearance
  • Support other women politically, in business and personally. 

These are a few things that come to mind at the moment but there are many more. Let’s not be afraid of the fight. The suffragettes endured real physical pain for the right to vote and if you aren’t sure about that, I challenge  you to see the 2004 movie, “Iron Jawed Angels” now available free on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOrD0tH_WaM fullsizeoutput_18b5

If you have not seen this movie, please watch it, show it to your daughters and your granddaughters. While we’re at it, let’s include the men and boys. We all need to know this history. 

“Paradoxically, the most constructive thing women can do is to write, for in the act of writing we deny our muteness and begin to eliminate some of the difficulties that have been put upon us.” Dale Spender

Whether we write, speak or teach . . . . No matter how we lead, the important thing is that we be not mute! 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

Movie Review – Book Club

Disclaimer: 

I am not a movie critic. I’m not even a movie buff. I probably see fewer than 6 movies per year at the theater.

Review

I loved the movie I saw yesterday with a friend. It was packed with great actors, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenburgen. Don’t be put off by trailers referring to the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” because it isn’t really about the book, but about four close friends who have an informal book club, hence the movie’s name.

“Book Club” is a comedy with a lot of philosophy woven throughout. It was funny. I truly laughed out loud more than once. In my “I’m not a movie critic” opinion it has a specific audience in mind. If you are female and of, let’s say a mature age, you will likely be entertained. 

 

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

 

Russian People

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Women 

While in Russia I met many interesting people. There were men who were bus drivers and pastors and volunteers, but it was some of the women who I really felt that I got to know. The interpreter, Natasha (yes, really, Natasha) was a beautiful young woman in her early twenties. She never lost patience with my questions and never seemed to tire of explaining what it was like to be Russian. She was proud of her country and especially that unlike when she was young, now she has the opportunity to meet travelers from all over the world.

Then there was Maria who was about thirty or so, it was very hard to tell because she wore a scarf that appeared to cover a shaved head. Her five-year-old son, Eugenia, was with her. He was wearing undershorts and a soiled button up shirt. After talking with her through Natasha for a couple of days, I learned of her sad history.

She said that she had been born and raised in the Islamic tradition, but was no longer sure of that status. Her mother died when she was a child and her husband and father were both recently deceased and she had no “papers” to prove that she was a citizen. The government had taken her father’s apartment and she was left without a home or income. She and Eugenia had been living in a cemetery for weeks at this point with some food provided by a friend. She was looking for work and offered to clean the church (Central Baptist of St. Petersburg, membership of 1,200) for food for her son.

There were many older women who dutifully cleaned the church, so there was no work there for Maria. They were caring, giving women who had little to give, but soon though, Maria and her son had clothes and food and a few other necessities. There were those who offered to help her in trying to obtain the papers necessary for livelihood. I had no way of knowing the outcome for Maria and Eugenia. I look at their photos and wonder what their lives are like today.

Unfortunately, there was another group of women in Russia who worked in what some call the “oldest profession,” prostitution. Apparently many women were all over the country trying to live by selling intimate services. Below is one of the cards left throughout the hotel where I stayed. This is not a profession. And, it is not a choice many women make other than out of necessity. Based upon recent news from Moscow, the situation has not changed for this population of Russian women. 

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Apartments/Schools

In St. Petersburg it seemed that everyone lived in an apartment. I saw no private homes, although I am sure there were some grand ones for those high up in the government, mafia members and others with access to wealth. 

I walked through an apartment complex that must have housed at least a thousand residences. There were no sidewalks, simply paths through the knee-high grass. There was a school that could only be identified by a couple of crude pieces of playground equipment, otherwise, the school looked like another apartment building. 

I visited a couple from Kentucky who lived in a ninth floor apartment and the elevator was out of service. I was rewarded by seeing a mama cat and her kittens living on the seventh-floor landing, making the climb work the effort. 

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Pushkin stock-vector-vector-portrait-alexander-pushkin-471393209

Alexander Pushkin was a poet and playwright who lived from 1799-1837 in St. Petersburg. There was a little town named after him and I was fortunate enough to be able to visit not only the park-like village but also a small hospital there. The facility looked more like a US nursing home of years ago. The beds were small and uncomfortable looking. Many of the patients who chatted away in Russian with clueless visitors looked old but it may have been due more to life conditions than chronological age.

One thing that I will never forget in that hospital was a very large printed, framed portrait of our then current US President, William J. Clinton.

Part 4 of 6

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

Medicine 4

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Childbirth

Most mothers since the beginning of time had given birth at home with midwives or other women in attendance. It was a long, painful and exhausting experience. Finally in the 1850s wealthy women were offered some relief from ether after it was used for Queen Victoria during her labor. Following the Queen’s lead ether, chloroform, and even laughing gas in the United States, were administered for decades to women able to afford delivery in a hospital. Because some doctors were better trained than others babies being born at home were likely to have had safer births without the effects of these gases.

Painless Childbirth

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Page 1106 in our 1910 manuscript states that a method of “painless childbirth” had been developed by doctors, Bernard Kronig and Carl Gause, in Germany. Hallelujah! Just what every woman in the world had been hoping for. It sounded wonderful, even the name “Twilight Sleep” (Dämmerschlaf in German) was promising. Doctors from the US went to Germany to learn to use this new miracle combination of drugs that would herald childbirth without pain. Soon gas was out of favor and powerful drugs were in. 

Twilight sleep was said to be “especially suited to the requirement of nervous women.” I find it interesting that men were so sure what women needed in view of the fact that not one of them had passed a bowling-ball-sized human through their loins. To this day many men are inclined to have very strong opinions about a woman’s body and what she should be allowed to do with it, but back to the topic at hand. 

Twilight Sleep

Twilight Sleep was made up of a combination of morphine and scopolamine. Morphine is derived from opium and acts on the central nervous system, causing pain relief. Scopolamine comes from a mixture of nightshade plants. It causes patients to fall into a semi-conscious state resulting in amnesia.

Both drugs are still in use today, but not routinely with labor patients. Morphine is a powerful and useful pain reliever that can lead to opioid dependence in some situations. Scopolamine is used orally or by a transdermal patch to treat nausea, vomiting and motion sickness. You may have used or seen fellow passengers use these patches to prevent or combat seasickness.

Possible side effects from scopolamine listed today include the following:  drowsiness, disorientation, dry mouth, blurred vision, dilated pupils, confusion, hallucinations, difficulty urinating and rash.    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682509.html

What is wrong with this picture? In retrospect, it does not seem a chemistry degree is necessary to foresee problems with this combination of drugs. The pain relief of morphine was a big plus for the laboring mother, however, it could depress respiration in the newborn leading to a life-threatening emergency. The scopolamine rendered the mother semiconscious during the painful childbirth experience, however, it caused amnesia. The mother usually remembered nothing of the experience including seeing her newborn for the first time nor hearing the first cries. The effects of this drug had significant potential to defer or even diminish bonding between mother and child. 

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Both of these drugs crossed the placenta and depressed the fetus’s central nervous system. For decades babies would be born drugged, and unable to breathe normally. It is no wonder they were held upside-down and spanked to start them breathing. After over sixty years of Twilight Sleep administration, the practice was abandoned in the 1970s due to the harmful side effects. Unfortunately, this was after the birth of my two daughters and I am sure after many of you or your children were born. 

Lakshmipati G. (Care of the Medical Outpatient, (Preface) 1st ed. 2003. pp. vii–vii. Nama publication, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu) has said:  

“Half of what is true today will be proven to be incorrect in the next five years. Unfortunately we don’t know which half that is going to be.” 

Sadly, this is true even today. One only hopes that such truth will be proven in only a few years rather than the centuries or decades it has taken in the past. 

 An Art or a Science?

Whether the practice of medicine is an art or a science has been debated for centuries. Many, if not most, feel that it must include both. For a comprehensive discussion of this subject read Dr. Sadhu Charan Panda’s research. He is Editor, Journal of Community Medicine.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3190445/

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Change, does it occur too fast or too slowly? 

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 The Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease is still in print. If you are interested in reading all 20 medical books in one volume written over 100 years ago see: https://www.amazon.com/Library-Health-Twenty-Books-One-Scholl/dp/B007GNBQB6/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516977599&sr=1-10&keywords=library+of+health+by+Scholl

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Part 4 of 4

Truth

New Horizon 

Last night at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey won the Cecil B. DeMille award.  She gave a momentous acceptance speech that I’m sure many of you heard. She spoke of empowerment and equality.  http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/08/entertainment/oprah-globes-speech-transcript/index.html

One of our readers, Lula, remarked to me in a private message that it reminded her of our Crooked Creek discussions last spring regarding “What I Know for Sure 1-5.” https://crookedcreek.live/2017/03/27/what-i-know-for-sure/

I agree because one of Oprah’s statements, in particular, bears repeating and remembering: “What I know for sure is that speaking the truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

Thank you, Oprah and Lula. While truth has always been crucial, this is a time when women must not only be truthful but also demand truth from others. Truth, spoken by both women and men can bring about, finally, the transformation needed for women and girls to truly be equal . . . in respect, in compensation, in power.

This time is long overdue.

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Courtesy of Pixabay

 

WINDS of CHANGE

“Change is going to happen, just as the wind is going to blow.” 

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How to live in The Winds of Change 

When I was a kid I could make a phone call on a rotary pay phone for a dime. As I got older it went up to a quarter. Long distance phone calls whether from home or a phone booth were very expensive and required the help of an operator. For you younger readers an operator was a person, nearly always female, who physically plugged in connections to your party. 

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Do you have a rain barrel at your home? I don’t expect many, if any at all, will respond “yes” to that question, but I have seen one or two in recent years as homeowners become more green. When I was a little girl we had rain barrels to collect water used for washing clothes. That water was filled with “wiggle-tails”  (insects) which swam around jerkily near the top of the water. Looking back I strongly suspect they metamorphosed, i.e., changed, into mosquitoes. I also vaguely remember having a baby duck which I let swim round and round in a rain barrel until it grew too big. 

One day I was upset that my older brother and his friends were swimming in one of our farm ponds and I wasn’t allowed to join them. I don’t remember being given a reason but would bet it had to do with being too young or more likely, being a girl. So, my Mom’s answer to my unhappiness was to lift me over into a rain barrel and order me to “Play and have fun” while she watched to be sure I didn’t drown. Is it any wonder that I remain a non-swimmer to this day? 

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Pixabay

 

Please bear with me for one more example of change from my childhood. My maternal grandmothers cooked everything from scratch. My paternal grandmother (Grandmother) milked her own cow morning and night and made butter from part of the milk. My maternal grandmother (Mammy) even picked the nut meat for baking out of walnuts and hickory nuts that she gathered from her yard. I recall hearing her sharing a recipe once and the only part that I remember is that she said to “Add lard about the size of a hen egg.” I wish I had been inquisitive enough to ask whether other of her recipes, which were never written down, might have required a different size egg, e.g., a goose egg or perhaps a bantam egg?

SUMMARY: Over the past few weeks, we have looked at change in various ways.

  1. Is change good?
  2. Is it inevitable?
  3. Do we basically stay the same in spite of the changes we experience around us?

Several readers have commented about the aspects of change you find either uncomfortable or reassuring. 

THE ANSWER: is blowing in the wind, my friend. It is blowing in the wind. Please listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G58XWF6B3AA

And, what does this mean to you? Are we part of the answer? Are we helpless, buffeted endlessly by the winds of change? Bob Dylan, one of my favorite musicians, by the way, is ambivalent therefore the interpretation is up to each of us.

Katherine Whitehorn* made this significant point worth remembering: “The wind of change, whatever it is, blows most freely through an open mind …”

 

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“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  William Arthur Ward

 

*British journalist, writer, and columnist born in 1928. She was known to be a keen observer of the changing role of women.

Part 4 of 4

Theme photo by Pixabay

 

CHANGE vs. SAME

Change vs. Same

You have heard the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

This epigram has been running through my mind because we are discussing the subject of change. On its face, it does not seem to be true. Change is all around us from daily chores to possibly even the climate of planet Earth. 

One thing that has changed in past few decades is the ease with which we can do research. I must be honest and say that if I had had to go to a library and flip through a card catalog I would have been less interested in the origin of this saying, but access to the internet, being at the tip of my fingers, I quickly learned that it is attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. He was a writer born in Paris, France in 1808 who apparently believed that change does not affect life in any permanent way. Do you agree? Do we, as a people, a society, stay essentially the same in spite of the changes around us? Are there basic beliefs that we hold regardless of the change that we experience?

While considering how true Karr’s long-lived statement might be I was surprised to learn that it has had a significant influence on music across many genres.  Just a few examples are work by Kenny Chesney, Jon Bon Jovi, Machine Head, and rappers Ludacris and Jay Z. Here is an example in some lyrics from “Put Your Records On”  written by Corinne Bailey Rae, et al. 

“Three little birds sat on my window, And they told me I don’t need to worry, Summer came like cinnamon, so sweet, Little girls, double-dutch on the concrete, Maybe sometimes we got it wrong, but it’s all right, The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same”

All right, I acknowledge this music connection proves nothing except that perhaps it works well with rhythm and rhyme.

Change is undeniable, but the last part, “the more things stay the same” is more debatable. When I was young, I remember I-65 being completed and riding with my grandfather (Pappy Sea) to Elizabethtown to visit relatives. The new road was great, straight and smooth, but it didn’t change Pappy’s driving habits. He still thought that his new-fangled turning signals, i.e. “blinkers,” were there to alert other drivers that he intended to change lanes. He didn’t look in his mirrors for other cars, just as he did not on country roads back in Anderson County.

Things Stay the Same

What other examples are there that things do indeed stay the same in spite of change? Some that come to my mind are: Status of women, inequality of people of color, animal cruelty, world hunger, weather disasters, gun deaths in the U.S. 

Realizing that I am coming close to violating my own “no politics rule,” I am trying to think of more positive examples so here are a few: cuteness of kittens and puppies, innocence of children, beauty of sunsets, sweetness of babies, sound of ocean waves, fragrance of roses, crispness of autumn leaves, silence of falling snow.

More to come!

 

We change, but do we change?

Collage

Part 2 of 4

 

Photos by Pixabay

 

Taken for a Ride

Recollections of Travel 

Houston

In Houston, the taxi driver taking me to MD Anderson Cancer Center was gigantic. He had a Jamaican-sounding accent and wore an enormous cowboy hat.  His remarks were friendly at first as he discussed the need for health care reform obviously assuming that I was interested in his opinions. He progressed to make disparaging remarks about “foreigners who take jobs from native Americans.” It was obvious that he considered himself to be one of the latter in spite of his very black skin, so I wondered if I was wrong about his being from Jamaica. I said something about American Indians being actual “Native Americans” and he postulated “they were not really here first,” he’d seen a documentary on PBS. I did not debate that issue with him.

During the ride, he talked cloyingly nonstop and I became rather uncomfortable as his comments grew more inappropriate in content as well as tone. At the time Ann Richards was running for governor of Texas and the driver declared that he did not want her to win, because “women should not be at the forefront.” It was hard to not debate that point, but I again managed to refrain. At that point, he asked me where I was from, not an unusual question for a driver picking up at the airport. When I said, “Louisville,” he asked about horse racing, again appropriate. I replied that the Breeder’s Cup was taking place there in a few days and his response was “I hope you breed something good down there.” Okay, so now I thought he had embarrassed both of us to the extent possible with words, but I was wrong. Suddenly he began to laugh when a female driver slowed and motioned him into the traffic flow. I thought I had missed something because it seemed simply a polite, not humorous, gesture. He spoke loudly in the car’s direction saying, “Thank You!” and then to me, “I’ll have to do something nice for a woman tonight! I’m glad that I have never impregnated a woman.” It was with considerable relief that I saw my destination up ahead. 

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Baltimore

Out of all those years of travel that cab ride in Houston, TX was the most bizarre, but two others stand out as slightly concerning.  One night, after entering a cab at the Baltimore Airport and asking the brooding driver to take me to my hotel near Johns Hopkins the entire city suddenly turned black. To me, it was an ominous sign, especially that it occurred the exact moment that I stepped into the cab. He drove silently block after block, underneath unlit traffic lights, in front of darkened buildings and deadened street lights, not saying a word that acknowledged he had even noticed the blackness surrounding us. Apparently, he was a seasoned driver, because within about a half hour he pulled in front of the looming darkened hotel. He popped the trunk to get my luggage and Baltimore was immediately illuminated with a brilliance that stung my eyes!

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Kansas City

Very late on another night I arrived at the airport in Kansas City and gave the driver the address of my hotel. About forty minutes later I was beginning to worry a little and then I suddenly saw that we were passing the US Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth! Much later I safely arrived at my destination and paid a $65 (in 1994 dollars!) tab which of course was an item of interest when I turned in my expense account. 

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Photos by Pixabay

Fashion on the Road

Recollections of Travel

While trying to work in the Delta lounge during a long layover, I was distracted by the TV. It was not loud, in fact, the voice I heard droning on was barely a murmur. Perhaps that is why I could not resist listening to his descriptions of the perfect and perfectly beautiful models sliding onto the show runway. Their hair, flawless, shiny, and straight flowed spontaneously. The make-up was subtle in its goal of looking natural. His sensitive voice was fluid and sophisticated as he described the women. He talked about the models wearing fabrics “sort of blue, sort of yellow and sort of print.” The non-colors were equivocal, there or not there, whatever you wanted. As he proceeded to detail the faces with terms like “the non-lip,” the gaunt women walked up and down, staring into nowhere with eyes that weren’t. 

Later in the week while attending a medical conference at UCLA, I was listening to a distinguished bone marrow transplant physician, world-renowned for his pioneering work with stem cells. As he spoke, the room became absolutely silent while over one-hundred (100) attendees listened in awe to this brilliant scholar describe his latest techniques and accomplishments. 

It was impossible to not notice a movement in the back of the silent room as a woman, too polite to make a distracting click, clack noise with her four-inch heels, walked the full length of the conference room on her tip toes. As she began the trek she looked back and forth, apologetically, at those who observed her progress. She hunched over to appear smaller and assumed an awkward gait resembling a person crippled by some congenital deformity. 

The beautiful woman, hobbled by her stilettos, had broken the mood of academics absorbing knowledge and now we were simply enjoying the show.  

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Photos by Pixabay

What I Know for Sure 4

The Last Seven

As you may have noticed, this subject has been difficult for me. Quite honestly I am surprised, because I’ve been nothing in life if not sure of my opinions, but therein lies the problem, I believe. Opinions are easy to come by, easy to hold, easy to change. Knowing something for sure is utterly different. Knowing means possessing proof, irrefutable facts, it is a reality, the unwavering truth. This reality is harder to come by. In previous posts, I came up with thirteen (13), if you allow me to include those I threw in facetiously. In order to meet the high bar set by Oprah, in number only, I was determined to come up with seven (7) more things of which I am sure. After much contemplation, here they are:

14. The love of an animal is pure. They give physical comfort, make no demands, don’t pout and are quick to forgive. 

15. Death comes to all living creatures. No matter how we try to avoid this fact it is a reality. 

16. There are no perfect marriages. Some are happier than others, some have more trials, but regardless of the effort put into a marriage, it is not possible to live with another human being without some rough spots and adjustments along the way.

17. White privilege is real. The greatest advantage I’ve been given in life, I have done nothing to earn. It was provided to me at birth simply as a result of having two white parents. 

18. Time spent in nature is rewarding. The sounds of birds, crickets, and water flowing, the feel of breezes that touch one’s face, the glimpse of a small furry animal scurrying along the ground, even the faint fragrance of a wildflower are healing and rejuvenating to the spirit of who we are or were meant to be. 

19. I cannot turn over a new leaf. No matter how many times I try, simply acknowledging that I need to make a change is not incentive enough. For me to make a change, it must involve serious consequences.

20. High heels are detrimental to a woman’s health. Created in Persia (Iran today) to be worn by men riding horses, a raised heel served the practical purpose of keeping the feet within the stirrup. High heels today serve no purpose except to hobble women, making them more vulnerable not only to assault, but to back pain, falls, and injuries to the foot and ankle. Yes, I am aware that they can be beautiful and that women who are strong and agile, can look stunning wearing them, but I maintain that they are not worth the risks involved. 


We have explored and exhausted this subject for now at least. You, the readers, have contributed many things that you know to be true and they are listed below. Please feel free to comment, adding more things you have decided are true over the past month. I believe that something can be true to one of us, yet not all of us. We are individuals and we do not think, feel or believe the same. Thank you so much for sharing with me and with each other. 

What Readers Know for Sure:

I am but a microscopic speck in the great macrocosm of the universe.  
My existence has had a purpose
Life IS worth living
I am a morning person  
I know God is real
A true friend lifts you when you’re down, listens to your problems, is caring and encouraging.
Columbus Day marks the beginning of recorded history in America.
Millions of European migrants came here bringing their music, art, science, medicine and religious principles that shaped the United States.
A leopard can’t change its spots.   
You can’t go back, only forward.
You can’t change the past.
One hand washes the other hand.
You can’t change a person’s thinking when it comes to religion or politics.
What I believe for sure, you may not.
My mother, brothers, and sister have loved me unconditionally.
I have the inner faith and strength to get through very difficult times.
Teachers can change a student for a lifetime.  
Seasons follow each other.
Spring starts from the ground up.
The moon and stars follow the sun. 
Full moons cause strange behavior in people.
Everyone is either predator or prey.
Every action has a reaction.
The human body is the most incredible organism.
Every person has a story.
Every person can choose how to react to their story.
We move through seasons and chapters of our lives individually.
Some decisions are more difficult than others.
When inflated, balloons float up.  
We all die alone, even when others are around us.
We are on this earth as we know it today, only once.

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What I Know for Sure:

I love my family with all my heart.      
Having time alone is a necessity for me.
Native Americans should not be called Indians.
Dish towels should be laundered separately.
April is not delivering in March.   
Love, at first sight, is a real phenomenon. 
Depression should be renamed. 
April had a baby.
Alot is not a word.
I am no Oprah.
CPR does not always work. 
Grandparents are not infallible.   
Adventure Animal Park will continue to make money on April through May. 
The love of an animal is pure.
Death comes to all living creatures.
There are no perfect marriages.
White privilege is real.
Time spent in nature is rewarding.    
I cannot turn over a new leaf.
High heels are detrimental to a woman’s health.   

The flowers bloom, then wither . . . the stars shine and one day become extinct . . . This earth, the sun, the galaxies and even the big universe someday will be destroyed . . . Compared with that, the human life is only a blink, just a little time . . .  In that short time, the people are born, laugh, cry, fight, are injured, feel joy, sadness, hate someone, love someone. All in just a moment. And then, are embraced by the eternal sleep called death.     Virgo Shaka

Part 4 of 4

Theme photo by Akiko Kobayashi (Japan)

Minnie II

 Before Women’s Suffrage

My Mother, Minnie Alice Sea, was born on June 19, 1917. She was named after “Miss Minnie Murphy” a school teacher who was admired by my Grandmother, Lillie Alice Thompson Sea. When my mother was born, women were not yet allowed to vote. That came about while she was a toddler and even then, many women were denied that right, because they had no way to get to the polls unless their husbands, or some other male, allowed them to ride along to the voting place. According to stories from that time, men were concerned a wife, for instance, might vote differently from them and thereby “cancel out” the man’s vote. So, unless a man could be certain the woman he was transporting would vote the same as he, that woman was not likely to have the opportunity to vote at all.

My Mom, as most women of that era, lived in a patriarchal society. She revered her father who was Postmaster, a deacon in the Baptist church and a small business owner. He ran the Gee General Store where the US Post Office for Gee, KY was located and he sold gas as well as groceries, farming supplies and even medicinals like paregoric, camphor and Carter’s Liver Pills. In that store located on a gravel, rural road my grandfather, E. M. Sea, was sought after by people of the community who respected his opinion on such topics as religion, politics, war and the economy. It is no wonder Minnie and his other seven children never questioned his authority nor his wisdom.

Marriage

As was the custom in those days, my Mom finished school after the eight grade. She worked with her father in the store and post office and, surprisingly, she learned to drive before many women were allowed that privilege. She married Richard Baugh, my Dad, when she was sixteen and he was twenty-five. She gave birth to their first of four children a few years later. The baby boy was born at home with the help of a doctor who my Dad fetched from Lawrenceburg, KY in his old Model T Ford in the middle of the night. He loved telling about how the doctor’s medical bag was in the window behind his head and while my Dad was driving way too fast, downhill, to their house in the “holler” the bag bounced out and hit the Doc in the back of his head. He thought it was a funny story judging by how many times I heard it retold.

For a woman who began life under circumstances that might have made her dependent and timid, Minnie surprised many, including herself, I’m sure. Beside her roles as wife and mother she learned many others in her eighty-one years, leaving her mark on this world in small, but lasting ways.

Work History

For several years she raised turkeys and chickens and grew a summer garden and canned its yield to cook for the family throughout the winter. After moving from the farm, she worked in a large factory on an assembly line for several years. Having experience in the family store while growing up made jobs at a small grocery and a dry cleaning store easy for her. She was good with people, always smiling and usually laughing.

The highlight of her long work history came when she was hired by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the Revenue Department where she remained until she was sixty-seven years old. I will always remember a day when I visited her at the Capital Annex in Frankfort, KY. She beamed as she introduced her friends around the big office. Then she proudly showed off her desk complete with an adding machine and file drawers and even pointed out her very own stapler! My Mom, from Gee, KY had arrived in her dream job. And, to make the situation nearly perfect, the Governor of KY was a woman named Martha Layne Collins.

My Mom (Minnie)

Minnie I

Minnie at Church

Deciding to rush from work to join Minnie tonight and not wanting to make her late, I had actually arrived early. I knew how much it meant to her to attend the meetings just as she had attended church regularly for her eighty-plus years of life. Too late I learn she is disappointed, because when I am not here the Preacher stops by and brings her to the service. She feels special, I supposed, arriving with the Preacher. As I look around for familiar faces arriving in all manner of garb, I made a mental note to be late next time so she could be escorted the way she preferred.

Attendees 

There is Dr. Lee, as reticent as ever. It is my opinion she is not stuck up, but rather, she has difficulty in social situations. Her athletic shoes look strangely out of place, not for the venue, but for her. Charles enters looking troubled and carrying the dogeared spiral notebook in which he writes throughout each service. I used to think he was a serious Bible scholar critiquing the message, but today I overheard him saying something about bills as he flipped madly through the pages. Strangely, he seemed concerned about NOT receiving bills as he queried others about the status of their bills. Mr. and Mrs. Harvey arrive together and she looks more frail than in the past. Minnie had told me “Mrs. Harvey is on the verge of dialysis, but she is resisting.” I didn’t know dialysis was an optional treatment.

There’s Lena walking straight to a seat which will accommodate her should she care to lie down during the service.  Some people are extremely bothered by her habit of reclining at any time and in any setting, but others hardly seem to notice. There’s a lady coming this way who I do not know. Carefully groomed, she has small delicate hands with perfectly polished nails. She doesn’t look left or right as she gets settled in the seat next to Minnie who pointedly doesn’t look at her either.  Instead, she is looking enviously at the woman being escorted into the service by the Preacher.

The room is almost full now. Some faces are less familiar, but just as interesting. The piano player is getting out song books for the worshipers to share.  Finally, when all are quiet and poised for the singing to begin, my favorite makes her entrance. Esther truly is an aristocratic sight as she makes her way first to greet the musician. She is wearing a navy blue blazer, oxford shirt, neatly creased trousers and low heeled pumps.  Her navy purse is perfectly balanced hanging from one stately squared shoulder. She stops by each person, graciously offering her hand as she bends down ever so slightly, so she can look them directly in the eyes. As she comes closer I can hear each greeting, “So glad you came,” “Thank you for coming,” “It is so good to see you!”  As she completes the circle, addressing the last person, she regally exits the room to be seen no more this evening.

Singing

Hymn books are passed, the song leader takes her place and the piano begins a cadence not unlike a funeral dirge. The hymns are old and familiar Protestant fare, including Rock of Ages, On Jordan’s Stormy Banks and The Old Rugged Cross. Charles scribbles in his book, Lena starts to ease toward a recumbent position, Dr. Lee’s face is immobile as she holds her head and song book erect. Minnie and the two Harveys are each on a different note and none are the same as the one the song leader is singing. The Preacher grins goofily at his congregation while singing loudly in the note the leader was determined to maintain.

Praying

Prayer request and praise time is next in the order of service and the Preacher begins this portion by sharing how thankful he is that he is “healthy and able to do the Lord’s work,” while looking around the room at blank faces and ailing bodies. Next, he invites the congregation to share prayer needs and praises. A small black lady in the front row said she would like prayer that she could “walk good again.”  The Preacher responds, “Yes, Mrs. Long.”  Another woman tearfully asks prayer for her great nephew who was paralyzed in a recent football accident.  The Preacher was visibly moved and replied, “We will certainly pray for him.  How hard it must be on the whole family. You know, it is so tragic for this to happen to a young man. Girls can just take this sort of thing better, but a boy knows he needs to get out into the world and work, provide for a family.” The worshippers nod in agreement. The prayer requests continue ranging from paltry to profound amid sounds of hymnals hitting the floor and people coughing and muttering. Finally, the Preacher closes prayer time with a long prayer imploring God to hear, to have mercy and “If it was in His will” to grant the requests just made.  He didn’t mention the gentleman who had just shared that his “ass hurt.”

Preaching

The Preacher resumed his goofy grin and began the meat of the service. He started by telling some personal anecdotes, his eyes sweeping the room for reaction. The lady with the nephew didn’t disappoint. She kept her smiling eyes glued to his face and her hearing aid tuned to his every word. Charles kept reviewing his notebook. Lena was quietly supine. Dr. Lee stared straight ahead. Just as the Preacher began to read from his text for his main event, Minnie turned to the woman beside her with the nice manicure and suddenly shook her roughly by the shoulder shouting, “Wake up! Don’t you know you are not supposed to sleep in church!” The pretty woman’s head bobbed back and forth with the shaking making me wonder whether she was asleep or deceased. Either way, I was embarrassed. The Preacher didn’t miss a beat. Dr. Lee’s expression didn’t change. Charles didn’t take his eyes off the notebook. Mr. Harvey smiled broadly. As the Preacher’s words piled higher and deeper, I let my mind wonder like many in the room had done from the beginning.

Finally the service was over and I took Minnie by the hand, leading my Mother back to her room as the attendants, one by one, escorted the other nursing home residents to their rooms.

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Written 7/1/98      Revised December 2016

Maggie

I am trying to follow as you approach the traditional pearly gates. Your steps are small and carefully placed as you painfully make your way toward the splendor of light, white swirling clouds and music from unfamiliar instruments.

Your thin and arthritic hands grip tightly the walker, which you are holding closer than usual. Your shoulder bones show through the cotton gown and your head is not quite as erect as I am used to seeing. The white hair and the frail old body are the signs of your years and you appear as Mother Time herself.

Are you afraid? Sad? Shy? Are you remembering us and longing to return to planet earth? Would you? If you could, would you turn and hurry back this way rather than continue toward the unknown?

Do you see your sister up ahead? Are you making your way toward the arms of your mother?

Your steps are slowing now. You stop and rest as though to consider something important and I think I see the slightest turn of your shoulder, but I can’t be sure, perhaps it is only my own selfish need.

I don’t know how, but I can see your face as you continue to walk away from us. Your eyes are filled with the purest joy and I see both the delight of a little girl who knows she is special and the wonder of a mother who holds her infant daughter . . . and we have only your memory while heaven has a new matriarch.


Recently, I ran across the words above that I had written at 11:30 p.m. on January 12, 1998, immediately after the death of my dear old friend, Maggie.

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Theme photo by Pixabay

Words Matter – III

Does anyone remember Connie Chung? She was one of the first female TV news anchors and worked for essentially all broadcast networks and several cable channels at one time or another. She was quite good at her job, perhaps too good since she was terminated for her tenacious interview tactics. One thing I remember very clearly is that she was sometimes referred to as an “anchorette.” Do you remember that? If not, please don’t think the term has gone away over the past few decades. It has not. As proof, I recently saw an article entitled “Television Business News – Hot Anchorette Wars . . . .” There is a lot here that merits discussion, but I’ll stick to the topic at hand.

Less Than

Over the past twenty or so years I attended numerous high school dance competitions. The teams, made up almost exclusively of female students, had names including Champettes, Tigerettes and Spiralettes, silly names using the suffix “ette,” the diminutive form of the whole. Just as we unconsciously refer to female babies as “little” girls, it generally goes unnoticed that girls’ sports teams are considered “less than” from day one. You may say this is not important precisely because it goes unnoticed, but I disagree. It is the very insidious nature of some words that makes them detrimental.

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Think of the multitude of words that are altered to indicate “less than,” such as kitchenette, dinette, towelette and the meaning is clear, they are not the whole, not the real deal. When applied to a person, usherette, bachelorette, suffragette, why would that person not believe they are inferior to the original.

As petty as it may sound, I stated in an earlier post (Words Matter – I) there are words I do not like. It has taken nearly a lifetime for me to fully understand why. Here is a list of some of my least favorite words and terms and short explanations of why.

Problematic

Usage

Comment

“Girls” for women of all ages Substitute for “women” Woman is not a dirty word!
Lady Substitute for “woman” See above!
Maid/Matron of Honor Wedding attendant No male attendant equivalent
Maiden name Name before marriage I use “birth name”; in time may not be an issue
Miss/Mrs. Marital status Mr. for all men regardless of marital status
Whore/slut/bimbo/ho Sexual promiscuity Why not male equivalents?

I believe that some words, disguised as harmless, are actually demeaning. Are there words you especially like or dislike? Words you would like to change? Please share your thoughts and opinions with us here in the comment section.

Theme photo by Pixabay