Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hallowe'en Birthday with Mom

All Hallows Eve is the night jack o'lanterns with candles line the path to your door so the ancestors can visit. I light an orange candle on my desk, and imagine what Mom and I would do today. She'd like the art glass tree from Ariana Gallery I have on my black Motawi tile table, and the collection of essential oils on her Pewabic tile coaster. She loved tile. So do I. We may visit an art tile store. Lunch at Pronto in Royal Oak, where she would have the vegetarian lawash she always ordered. Or at Amadeus in Ann Arbor, where she has never been and I have to guess what she may order there. She will wear her witch hat. I will wear my catwoman mask with my glasses on top. We will laugh, share stories of Halloween birthdays long ago. Dad's joke he told when people first learned her birthday was on Halloween. He'd say "yeah, she rode in on a broom." Tonight I'll put dinner on the table with her ceramic pumpkin hot pads, and later, I'll go to sleep remembering the woman in the witch hat on her birthday, with love.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

These Are My Heroes. My Dad.

I'll draw a pencil portrait of Dad later, but I like this style of artwork for this post. It's the 1950s and 1960s when my father was working 12 to 16 hours a day as a machinist to support the family, and when his kids were growing up. When he wasn't at work, he taught us stuff. How to ride a bicycle. Swing a bat and a hammer, catch a fly, throw 'em out at second base, ice skate, block a goal, duck a punch, throw a punch, pass a football. When we were a little older, how to cut the grass, change spark plugs and a tire, paint a room, play an instrument, break up with grace. Later still, how to wet plaster. Okay, now add the plaster. Stir. Faster. Too slow. Throw that out. Start over. And in an emergency golf outing training session, how to play golf. Okay. You drive straight. Just keep doing that until the ball's in the hole. Always pick up your ball at 8. How to negotiate with machine tool guys. Don't snow them. Ask questions. Tell the truth. Walk tall. And now, how to cope with aging, pain, loss and grief. My friend Beckie's grandmother, Shirley, said that when you're old, what you miss most is how you defined yourself. I wish Dad could think of himself as a hero, as all of his children do.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

These Are My Heroes

Here are their faces. I admire many women of conscience and courage. Dr. Wangari Maathai. An San Suu Kyi. Hatshepsut.  These women are mighty. And globally known. But each began taking steps at home. In communities. I live in this house. In this community, in this town, in this state, in this country, on this planet. Change and growth seem daunting to me when the enormity of the world's problems swell my brain. I feel overwhelmed, helpless. Will we live soon on a planet where violence against women has ended? Can we escape the privatization of prisons and the incarceration of our poor brothers and sisters? Can we feed all the children? To take action feels too hard when viewed through a mighty global lens. Today my hero is my great grandmother. She came to America from Finland with four children. Her husband had gone ahead to work in the Canadian silver mines. He died young. My great-grandmother did what all women did in the early 20th century. She worked. Her children worked. She grew food, milked her cow, fought off male predators, taught her children to live in nature. She carried water home, cooked the food she grew and the food her men caught. She chopped wood, did laundry in community over a fire with other women. She concocted medicines, baked bread to barter for other food, and laughed. She told stories, and listened to other storytellers. She cried and raged. She danced. She loved her extended family, and threw out her man when he came home too drunk. Let him back in when he was contrite. She lived. Completely. And she is a hero to me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

International Day of The Girl

We need The International Millennium of the Girl. We must make this start today. As we all pray for the health of a young girl in Pakistan, we each can use our voices to end violence against girls and women on this planet. I can't do much to change the minds of Taliban monsters. I used my voice today in a way I can. I wrote a comment on a care2 article with the headline "3 Cherry Popping Myths." I wrote: "Really? On the International Day of The Girl, to use that unfortunate headline is inexcusable. On any day it exacerbates the misogynistic treatment of women and girls. Please give some thought to not promoting this offhand language in any discussion of female bodies." And the offensive headline was removed. care2 and its authors have responsibility to respect its readers. We have responsibility to end the hatred. There is nothing cute about using women and girls to promote readership. There is no excuse to encourage language or behavior that denigrates and violates females. Throughout history we have seen the casual aside slide downward into the abuse and murder of women. Let's stop this now and continually. Let's begin today. You can use your voice to end violence against women and girls.