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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.


Kim Wilson Owen at 10:49am March 23 I’m also reading Note to Self: 30 Women on Heartbreak, Humiliation, and Overcoming it All and Victorian Fairy Tales the Revolt of the Elves and Fairies. I have Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grownups and Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York’s What I Know Now Simple Lessons Learned the Hard Way… Read More on tap; have to re-read Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald for the library’s book club and we’re doing Who Moved My Cheese in my ladies’ book club (The First Rule of Book Club, heh!) this month and The Ten Year Nap for April… I’d like to read Inkspell

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Yes, Valentine’s Day is a greeting card holiday, and we should be celebrating connections with people we care about all year long. The odious onus of finding something to ‘show we care’ slaps us in the head yet again way too soon after Christmas. 

At my library my theme each February, and actually a guiding principle of my life, is ‘Love is Sharing a Story.’ That neatly ropes in everyone, old and young, coupled and uncoupled, childless and, uh, childed.

I ask people to tell stories, write them down, read with their baby even if their baby is 50 years old, or read with someone else’s baby. Write a rap, or a poem, or just spew out your irritation about some issue Lewis Black or Dave Chappelle style. Learn to podcast.

If everyone spoke honestly and spoke up, if everyone read together, or if every adult, parent or no, took a few minutes each day to share a book with a friend or a small child, this would be a different world.  

But I digress.

I’m reminded by the newsletter from my mother’s Church of the Epiphany– “Don’t forget those who are hospitalized, ill or shut in on Valentine’s Day. Send someone a card, or make a phone call. You will brighten someone’s day.”

This is what I hate about Christmas.

That didn’t come out right. I love Christmas. But I have a strong family, work, and social network to share it with. I have tried on, so to speak, Christmas without family or husband or friends. I can’t seem to make it fit. It just feels miserable. I would feel sorry for myself, even if I were comfortable financially and physically, had my health, had good food to eat, and books to read and quilts to quilt… it was just too sad.

So rack your brain or look around for someone who can’t leave the house, or folks you know at the hospital. People with long term inability to get out and fend for themselves in the rat race eventually get passed over in the rat race. Even families with the best of intentions tend to pass over the quiet one– the wheel doesn’t squeak, so to speak.

And then there are the mean old (or young, I guess) biddies (male and female!) or the neighbors always yelling at us to ‘Get off my lawn!’ or even the kids nobody likes or the trio of siblings who, you happen to know, are being raised by a grandmother who can’t even do for herself because she is very ill, won’t even come in and get the kids a library card, sends the kids out to do their own laundry at the laundromat, so they are pretty much on their own (though I know from experience that being on one’s own isn’t the worst thing that can happen, some serious self sufficiency, at least  in terms of life skills, can result, you do what you want, and at least nobody’s yelling at you).  Or the acquaintance who’s divorced or the single parent or the friend who’s ill or having marital troubles. What might brighten their days?

Put some candy in your candy dish. Stop by somebody’s house just for five minutes with a flower or a warm lunch or a pair of fuzzy slippers you found on clearance. Drop a card in the mail. What small good could we do in just a few minutes? Brightening someone’s day literally makes the world a better place and it just takes a second.

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