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if you want your wife [significant other] to wish [him-]herself home again, unfettered by matrimonial [cohabiting, relationship] claims, you just stay in bed and let her [him] get up in a cold room, go through several cold rooms to a cold kitchen: find no wood or kindling , and have to go to the back yard and bring it in all soaking wet, and try to cook…

Page 26, “1902-1911: Rafters of the Home/ Woman’s [Partner’s] Work” in Times Down Home: 75 Years with Progressive Farmer edited by Mary Elizabeth Johnson, published 1978 by Oxmoor House in Birmingham.

What a treasure! I can’t resist it. I’m a nut for stuff like this. This is a wonderful Book.

I had to insert words like “significant other” and “him” and “partner” in brackets because families are changing, stressed by pressures that are different and yet the same. They need to be supported, from within and from without, in totally new ways we (okay I) haven’t quite gotten right yet.

And these days, the imbalance of care and interest in one’s mate’s day and work can definitely go both ways– can even be hurtful and isolating for one spouse or partner in some areas and hurtful and isolating for the other partner or spouse in others.

MEJ (now MEJ Huff) will be at my library on Saturday 9th May along with many other wonderful local authors. She has done some amazing, beautiful more recent books documenting quilts as well– quilts by ordinary folk, like the Gee’s Bend ladies, not MOMA or RISD textile artists.

I can’t wait! The job part of my job is sometimes absolutely AWESOME.

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I wholeheartedly agree, and this is serious business! I am so happy to see that someone, anyone, can offer support in something I’ve always believed!– Kim

Men & Women

“I object to anything that divides the two sexes.  My main point is this: human development has now reached a point at which sexual difference has become a thing of altogether minor importance.  We make too much of it; we are men and women in the second place, human beings in the first.”
-Olive Shreiner (1884)

The “battle of the sexes” was an issue back in the 1800’s and we’re still talking about it today.  Clearly, there is a difference between men and women.  But maybe we’ve come to the point where we can understand that our similarities far outweigh our differences.  Rather than look at what divides us, let’s look at what binds us.  We aren’t Martians and Venusians, we’re here together on the same planet.
 -Lissa Coffey

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I haven’t thought much about this– the minefield we walk between simply nurturing our bodies and souls and taking pride in our own unique loveliness and style regardless of size age or anything else– and a self-loathing that makes us think we’re ugly unless all of our artifices are in place and our miserable self denial is complete–  since high school.

The exception is that I get really, really pissed when women say ‘I’m so fat.’ That’s only because I’m a rabid feminist and I am SO SICK of guys (and, sadly, other women) who judge women on first look– I’d do her, or pretty face, great personality, too bad she’s fat, or oh MAN is she fat!’ (You know who you are).  I’m not anti anorexia, cocaine, amphetamines or cigarettes as weightloss methods, at least not at the appropriate time/life stage. (I’ll save that for another post).

But A. Someone else’s body is NOT your damn business. and B. Sure, we all need to exercise and eat right. We’re a nation privileged to be eating ourselves to death, and the emotional psychological and spiritual issues surrounding that make my heart ache.

But it really pisses me off when women say ‘I’m so fat’ and don’t see  how beautiful they are JUST AS THEY ARE.  The ability to see how beautiful you are just as you are comes from the same emotional and psychological region as the strength to take better care of oneself, eating right and exercising and enjoying instead of loathing one’s body, sadly. And so it’s a vicious cycle. The only other place meaningful change comes from, sadly, is self loathing, and if you reject that or your eyes just never get opened, you’re just screwed.

Anyway.

With regard to all this, I was in a blissful place. I was a little overweight but still a couple pounds below obese (a couple pounds is EVERYTHING, believe me), the US average size 12-14. I had the best (hair) dye job in the world, black with a few white stripes– and often I wore black eyeliner and mascara cause I’m aging gothpunkabillly.

But just as often especially after I had my little one makeup went by the wayside. Most of my girlfriends never wore makeup. We’re all hippie mommies. I have one friend who’s a stunner even though her kids wear her out, whether she wears makeup or not (all of us know who she is except, probably, she herself), but she worked at department store makeup counters for a while and knows what she’s doing, so she doesn’t count.

I don’t think I knew it, but I was always searching… and then I found her.

She didn’t know I found her. Heck, I didn’t know I found her.

I met this exotically beautiful new friend and as I got to know her a little at a time– lots, and lots of black, skulls, sense of style, joy each year as Halloween comes back around and we can actually wear the clothes we wear all year without people looking at us funny, punk bands and financial struggle all through the 80’s and 90’s (financial struggle for me too, and how!), waited til older to have babies and marry just like me, good liberal from generations back just like me.

But she had something I didn’t.

My mother, my grandmothers– classy dames who don’t go out of the house without moisturizer, a little puff of powder, a little something around the eyes and a bit of lipstick at minimum. I wanted to be like that. I really did. But I wasn’t.  I just couldn’t.

But this new friend?

Well let me put it this way.

She had her second C section a couple of years ago. Before she went in, she told her husband she would have a pedicure OR ELSE. I mean, her toes were going to be exposed for everyone to see in the OR, right? Come ON!

Then, post C, she suddenly found herself being rushed to the OR a second time, her husband and mother shooed away as they worked frantically on her to keep her from suddenly bleeding to death. If the bleeding weren’t enough, she was nearly scared to death, too. I talked to her not long after, and she was deeply frightened and a little pissed off.

A few hours later, another friend of ours stopped in to see her and the baby and wish them well. M said, I walked in and she was curling her eyelashes.

She nearly bled to death a few hours ago. And now she was curling her eyelashes.

This was a defining moment for me. The words beautiful and tough took on new meaning for me simultaneously, and if I didn’t already think she was the bees knees, this would have pushed me over the edge.

I asked my friend’s permission before writing this. She said, well hell, if you’re going to die, don’t you want to look good all laid out?

And me?  I was newly vegan and using little on my face besides some sort of expensive pure oil– grapeseed oil. Sesame oil. It was cleanser and moisturizer in one, face and body. The only spots that got soap were my armpits and, well, possible (as our grannies used to say, wash as far as possible, and then wash possible). I wore no sunscreen, EVER. I consider myself to be of a dark skinned heritage that just doesn’t need it. I refused to wear or buy makeup until I had the time to research vegan and cruelty free options, and I never seemed to have the time. So I went without.

But the knowledge nagged at me… something was missing.

To be continued…

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