About a fig tree

This is the story of a fig tree.  About five years ago I decided I wanted to grow figs in the backyard of our northern Virginia home.  You may know that George Washington successfully grew figs at Mount Vernon.   It was pretty cold in the 18th century, so I figured if George could do it, so could it.  What I didn’t take into account was the fact that George probably know a lot more about horticulture than I do, and had people working for him whose sole job it was to grow things.  And now that I think about it, maybe these fig trees were inside a green house.  Never mind all that.  How hard can it be?  So I began my fig saga, first with one fig tree, then with a second in year two.  I got figs from one tree in year two.    Then this tree died after a protracted cold spell in the winter.   In year three I removed the dead fig and replaced it with a fourth one.  This one, like its predecessor expired after a rough winter.   Now in Pennsylvania I have finally succeeded. Continue reading

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Telling the truth

Since late March I’ve spent many hours knocking on doors.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am running for supervisor.   I’ve had doors slammed in my face, had smiles and hugs, and everything in between.  I talk about taxes, sewage and water, traffic and lighting, and development and zoning.  While there are a lot of things I don’t know about, there is one thing I tell everyone:  I will tell you the truth. Continue reading

Spring harvest time

In between knocking on doors and meeting people in my township, I have been busy in the garden.  Building on lessons learned from last year, I have already had some early successes.  These include lettuce, spinach, radishes, and peas.   I recently started putting in my summer veggies:  tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and green beans.  The longer than usual cool spring weather helped extend the lettuce.  I had so much lettuce I have been giving it away by the armfuls.  The spinach is about done and going to seed, which is good because I need the space for zucchini and cucumbers.  I found a local source for high quality compost, and learned about the value of covering plants, organize means to battling pests, and growing in bags. Continue reading

On the road in the Highlands of Scotland

I have been quiet lately.   After returning from our trip to Scotland life took over.  Since late last year and the tears and the depression, I got back up and into the game.  I volunteered for an organization that I care deeply about and have been on their fundraising committee for their big event of the year.   It was hugely successful and thankfully now in my rearview mirror.  Did I also mention I’m running for local office?  That was another of my post-election decisions.  If you want to have an impact on your community, you have to step up and get in the arena.   I have been knocking on doors and meeting lots of people and listening to their concerns.  More on this later, but first I want to take moment to remember the beauty of Scotland. Continue reading

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Two weeks ago I attended the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF),  a  fiber festival in Europe.  After years of going to Maryland Sheep and Wool and New York Sheep and Wool (Rhinebeck), I wanted to see what an urban fiber fest was like.  It did not disappoint.  The Edinburgh Yarn Festival was on held on March 9-12 this year.   Friday and Saturday were market days — codeword for shopping, and 8 – 12 March were class days.  In between there were opportunities for seeing the city, taking a day trip, joining others for knit night, and a traditional Ceilidh – Scottish dancing.  It you’re a fiber fest officianado you probably knew that some of these events were limited and required a combination of luck and dedication to score a ticket.  Esther and I signed up for classes at 9 am on the Saturday of Rhinebeck in October 2016.  Advance purchase tickets sold out quickly as did space at the Ceilidh.  But no worries.  There was plenty to do in the evening in a city that parties hearty. Continue reading

Listening skills

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Harry Potter World, where even frogs have words.

We all want to be better listeners.   It’s a great skill to have and people like good listeners.  But the sad fact is that while we want to be good listeners, we really want others to listen to us.  We like to talk, and we want people to listen to us, because at the end of the day, it’s really all about us, right?   Seriously, though, I am going to talk about listening.  First of all, there’s hearing and there’s listening.  I hear you but I don’t know what you said because I don’t really care.  To truly listen and absorb meaning, you have to close down your brain to unruly activity and focus completely on the other person.  This is the hard part, for this means it is about the other person, not you.   When you truly listen, a wonderful things happens.  You connect to another person in a very intimate and personal way.  This is how relationships are built. Continue reading

Is it our time . . . yet?

 

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An homage to Rosie the Riveter by artist Abigail Gray Swartz, titled: “The March,” cover of The New Yorker.

The Women’s March on Washington has come and gone, but the commitment remains.  For every woman who marched in Washington or any of the hundreds of other marches that feeling of sisterhood just won’t go away.  We continue to wear our pink hats proudly as a symbol of resistance.  It’s a symbol that says “I am woman” and “take me seriously because I really mean it” and “it’s time for me.”  I think that 2017 just may be the year of the woman.

I”m not really sure why it has taken so long.  We make up more than 50% of the population, we lead companies and families, we wear the uniform and defend our country.  And still the fight continues.  We are underrepresented in Congress, in the boardroom, and continue to be underpaid in sports, the workplace, and elsewhere.  Men just can’t resist mansplaining, protecting, patronizing and putting women in “their place.”  In this time and this place we finally have our chance to be in the front lines.  The time is ours.

I’m not sure that men quite realize this fact.  We continue to see laws being promulgated all over the country to restrict and roll back reproductive rights for women.  It’s an inconvenient fact that women have babies and men do not.  We tend to be smaller and are viewed as quieter and weaker.  Also inconvenient facts.  Women generally do not demand pay raises or apply for jobs for which they are not qualified.  When we fight back or raise our voices we are called shrill or shrews or worse.  Men are tough and strong and assertive.  The same behavior gets a completely different table.  I was in a battle like this this afternoon.  Larry and I went to visit one of our state representatives and when I raised a bill that I did not agree with he began to lecture me, raise his voice, and wondered “how do I not understand this.”

This is the ultimate female conundrum that I have not yet figured out how to resolve.  If you fight back in kind, you fulfill their view of you as a petulant, ignorant, shrew.  If you back down and let them rant, you feel weak and beaten down.  And they know this.  Eventually I just said “we’ll agree to disagree.”  I was beaten down and I was angry.  He went on for another thirty minutes to have a conversation with Larry and never made eye contact with me again.  I was not part of the conversation, I was a minor actor, the little women.

My mother taught me that women  have good manners, know how to dress for every occasion, get a good education, and have household talents like cooking and decorating.  I picked up some of these skills, but others I rejected.  I came of age in the 1970s and 80s when women were learning how to wear pantsuits  and carry briefcases.   Being feminine meant walking a tricky line between being taken seriously as a professional and not appearing to be a man-hater or even worse, like a man.  Mostly it was trial by fire.  And still we fell behind in wages and promotions to senior positions.

So here’s my question:  how do women fight back?  How can we let these neanderthals know that their behavior is unacceptable and downright nasty?   Larry has an answer for this question.  He says don’t get mad, get even.  By this he means that women need to stop complaining and get out there and get in positions of power where we can influence the political scene.  Marching and knitting pink hats is one step in this greater march, but it isn’t enough.  It’s time for women to put their money where their mouth is.  We need to get out of the kitchen and the boardroom and get into the state house and the Congress.  It’s our time to shape our future and finally demand and expect equal treatment.  Are you with me?

Lest we forget

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I just got back from visiting my parents in New England.  My father has severe dementia and barely recognizes me, and my mother is becoming more frail and declining cognitively.  When I get a phone call from the assisted living facility where they live it usually means that something is wrong.  Lately it’s been my mother.  She had been in the hospital after a fall and was going to a rehabilitation center.  I had to convince her to go, so I wanted to go and provide my support.   I try to make the drive without stopping often; one stop usually does it for me.  I fill up the gas tank, hit the bathroom, and grab a drink or a snack.  On this trip I was nearly out of gas when I saw a sign for Newtown/Sandy Hook.  I can’t explain exactly why that had such an impact on me, but it did.  I pulled off the highway.  After filling up with gas, I headed down the road to see the school.   Continue reading