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

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?

Ringing in the New Year: looking ahead in 2017

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We rang in the new year quietly with a mildly alcoholic drink and a movie.  No late night parties for us or big celebrations in a bar or hotel ballroom.  Maybe it’s because we’re not in our twenties anymore or just that we enjoy being at home with our canine friends.  Whatever the reason, we were satisfied with our quiet evening at home.  We are at the point where we didn’t even have to explain to each other why we spent our evening at home.  Our priorities had changed.   Continue reading

Making a difference

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As we recover from the past few months of intense emotions and inflammatory speeches, we wonder what the future holds.  Larry and I both worked as volunteers for the Clinton campaign, knocking on doors and talking to people about the candidates and getting people registered to vote.  Now it is over.  The financial markets have settled down, but we remain numb.  We spent long days with like minded people who believed and gave up their time and energy to get the first woman in the White House.  Now we have to pick up the pieces and move on. Continue reading

Women and the workplace: the journey to full equality

Anyone who has been watching or reading the news knows that there has been a lot of talk this year about sexism and assault of women.  One event that is likely seared in many women’s minds was the light sentence meted out this year to the Stanford University student after being found guilty of sexual assault.   Most women have experienced some kind of harassment from men, sexual or otherwise.  We endure it, we tell our friends about it, sometimes we report it, and often it feels like the system is unfairly tilted against us.    I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what it’s like to experience harassment.  First I’d like to share my own story with you.

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When life slows down . . .

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Those of you who have been following my blog know that I was in a car accident a few weeks ago.  It’s actually more like four, but hey, who’s counting?  The doctor says I had a concussion, even though I didn’t actually hit anything.   Apparently my brains sloshed around inside my skull.  I am much better now, but I still say and do things that are a bit off, and get really tired by about 5 PM.   While I took the doctor’s guidance seriously, it’s been hard for me to do less, move less, and think less.  I am not reading, except short news stories, and not exercising much.   There are things I have to do:  I have to water my plants, and answer emails, and keep up with projects and clients related to work.  As for the rest of my normally productive, busy life, I’ve had to put it on hold.   What happens when life slows down? Continue reading

My one year blog-anniversary

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One year ago I wrote my first blog post.  At that time I was embarking on a new life in a new town.  We had packed up the car with our two dogs, and left DC for Pennsylvania.  How have I spent my first year outside the office?  Well, let me tell you, it hasn’t been boring or mundane.   The journey has begun.

Let me count the ways.

I gained a new appreciation for sitting quietly by my peaceful pond and do nothing.

I put in a backyard garden and understood how hard it was to successfully grow food to feed yourself and your family.

I realized that not only did I not miss getting up every day to dress for the office and embark on the morning commute, but I didn’t miss spending the day in the office and keeping the boss happy.

I cultivated an eye for wildlife all around me:  Mallard ducks and woodpeckers, rabbits and deer and chipmunks and butterflies.  I learned to be patient and wait for them to come out and show themselves.

I got back into the practice of cooking not because I had to but because I wanted to.

I lingered in local shops to get to know strangers who became friends.  I let down my guard and learned that trust is easier than it seems.

I left the house without locking my door and didn’t think twice about it.

My blood pressure went down, way down and stayed low.

I stopped worrying about things that didn’t matter.

What about year two?

Now that I’ve taken a look back, what’s in store for me in the coming year?  One of the things I started with at the beginning of the year was genealogy research.  I started a project of finding out more about my family history just over a year ago.   Then life got in the way, most importantly, both of my parents, who are elderly, began to decline and became more frail.  We had to clear out their house to get it ready to sell.  I found a few of my relatives and connected with my second cousin who live in New Jersey.  My year two plan is to start the work of adding more leaves on the family tree and get it in a form that I can share with my relatives and for those who come behind me.

I want to write more, beyond the format of this blog.

My backyard garden project continues, with failures and successes.  Before the season ends I need to map my garden on paper and catalogue what worked and what didn’t.  Over the winter I will begin the task of planning the garden in a more scientific way, putting planting dates on the calendar, starting seeds indoors, and investigating ways to prevent pests from destroying my zucchini and eggplants.

We have travel plans in the next twelve months and beyond.  I will be blogging about that.

I want to try at least three new things.  Stay tuned!  No, I will not be jumping out of an airplane or bungee jumping.  I will be planting fruit trees, spending more time outdoors, and getting creative.

Want to join me?  What new things do you want to try?

The Local Post Office: Selling Stamps and Community

Salfordville Post Office, Old Skippack Pike

Salfordville Post Office, Old Skippack Pike

In January Marla described her trip to one of the small post offices near our house.   A few days ago I took a drive to visit other nearby post offices.  On my drive I took photos and talked to the post men and women to learn more about them.  I wanted to learn something about these towns and what the post offices meant to them:  it was more than just sending packages and selling stamps.  For many of these tiny dots on the map, a post office and a zip code is about identity. Continue reading