Category Archives: family

go with “funny” — marital advice, should you need some

The little creature in the panda shirt here is my niece, Frances, and I could not be more delighted about that.

When Fei-Fei found out that friend Laura isn’t married (wearing no ring, as Mommy does), she suggested that she marry Pee-wee Herman, because he is funny.

Just when you needed something to feel good about.

Photo by Dwight Swanson, May 2015

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mourning a lapse of feminism in the rising generation

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Who doesn’t like a party? Thanks so much for inviting me… oh. It’s a “shower.”

It’s a theme shower, I see, pre-feminist wave of the mid-20th century? The envelope is addressed to “Mrs.” me and I bristle; I just don’t see that in my circles. When phone solicitors ask if I am “Mrs.” Something, I know they don’t mean me and politely say that they must have someone else in mind and goodbye. Though my male partner is in fact the relative of the “bride,” you have invited only me, so it’s a double-X chromosome thing, huh? How retro, like my home phone, I guess.

Your tastefully printed invitation – style points there! — refers to the wedding couple as the “soon-to-be Hisnames” give by all those bridesmaids. I wonder if you would really use the phrase “tying the knot” in its original sense, that of a trial marriage. Probably not.  You mean a clichéd binding of hand, foot, mind and money.

I usually bathe alone. So without regret, I will not be attending your party. You won’t miss me.

when you wash the dishes, they also wash you

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When I was little, washing dishes was a shared activity. Washing with my Grandma Swanson in Cloquet, Minnesota, is one of the clear memories I have of her.  She said to use really hot water, dried plates and glasses with a cloth — no air-drying. She talked about things — she was the mother for all my father’s teenage friends, the one who made sure they bought corsages for the prom.

Was she a calm person, or is it the hands and arms in warm water that is soothing to everyone?   That association will always stick for me.

Note to architects:  the kitchen sink must pair with a window.

CIMG2337Our kitchen at Berkeley Springs, November 2014 (photo mine).

the white stool — thinking down, not around

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My photo of the white stool, Berkeley Springs, 28 July 2014

Now that I’m not working at a proper day job, I’m spending more time doing manual work, time-consuming, sometimes smelly or otherwise untoward, usually in some way creative – baking bread, pulling weeds, sorting books; the mind has time to wander more deeply. I’m not looking around horizontally — not looking about to see who else is around, wondering why I’m doing the pointless thing at a desk in a cubicle, knowing that it doesn’t matter to me at all, nor much to anyone else either. Instead the thoughts go vertical.

I’m now in the wake of refinishing a piece of furniture, an old stool once owned by partner William’s grandparents, that has been somewhere for all these years, I think with his mother, Sally, who took it up to our Berkeley Springs house when she did some of the initial furnishing there.  It has been sitting in the kitchen or the bathroom there, or traveling between them. I’ve been painting other things here and in Berkeley Springs, and maybe it’s bewitching, because I tend to look around for the next project, so far two chairs on our DC porch (similarly vintage, never upgraded), a canvas ‘rug,’ the kitchen floor. There’s always a little paint left over — or I see where to get more.  I have invested in my own paint can, brushes, roller, so that I don’t have to share with William or suffer through his complaints about my improper cleaning. (I’ve improved at that.)

So I have this odd bench with a strange, u-shaped top shelf.  For sitting?  So that you can set a tall object on the second step, like the vase here?  Was it like a potty chair? It has clearly been painted a few times, so surely it needs to be painted again. First you strip the old paint layers.  For that, I bought that product I knew existed, helpfully called “paint stripper.”  The words on the can suggest that after applying the thick pasty stuff to the surface and waiting a few minutes to an hour, multiple layers of paint, applied even way back when the family had household servants, will just want to jump off the furniture and head out somewhere, job done, leaving bare wood, exposing the tree it once was.

It doesn’t happen that way.  The first application probably cleans the old paint a little, and scraping does little to remove it.  A second application and second scraping reveal that the white stool was once green.  A third application and scraping show some wood.

You see what I mean about the slowness of time and ability to think and ponder. Once you have made such a smelly mess, you cannot stop whenever you feel like it – not like just putting the book down or the knitting aside — because that would mean cleaning it all up and admitting defeat. So you start to observe and wonder, deeper, below the first layers, going vertical instead of horizontal. What is this thing now and what will it be? Who sat here? Who fell off?  Why green? Then why white? It’s not pretty, but sturdy; it wobbles not at all. Was this made by a true craftsperson? Do the screws tell its origin? Why do I care about it?

When will all this paint be gone, if ever?

happy birthday to me

CIMG1835It has been a good birthday, and thanks to friends far and near, geographically and emotionally, for all your notes. It feels nice.

In the morning, my little niece, Frances, paid a surprise visit, bringing her “backup” birthday cake, the one not required for her own birthday yesterday. You know how I love salvage items, even a little roughed up in transit. While here, she helped water all the plants missed on our weekend away, and did her big-girl job in our bathroom facilities, the first time away from home, and proudly announced it, so it really is a special day.

Then I went to see the four-year-old I hang with on most Tuesdays, who, hearing it was my birthday, asked my age. A little fazed at first, he bounced back to tell me that “58 is not the last number.”

I hope not.

may April showers bring June, July and August showers

William just had another one of those events that come around annually, and like most modern folks, said he didn’t really want or need anything in the birthday gift category.  You’re the same way, I know.

But I wanted to do something. So in the merger of cheap and creative, the result of looking at the catalogs that come to the house and my love of the Georgia Avenue Thrift Store, we have an outdoor shower in the well to the basement door under the deck.

I bought these little hooks, found the working outlet for the power drill (my birthday present to myself when I turned 40 just the other day decade), and screwed them into the inside of the deck.

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A showerhead on a hose will screw into the hose bib. Only William would have installed a hot water faucet for the outside water source, as you can see here by the red and blue knobs indicators.  That’s how he rolls.

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Thrift store curtains were pretty cheap, if a little too bright red.  I stitched little rings to the top to hang on the hooks, and weights to the bottom edge, so that Shepherd St. neighbors Leslie and Carrie won’t have to see to much of William if a little breeze were to blow the curtains around.

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He’s still dubious, thinking I wanted the shower more than he.  Well, maybe, but after biking, gardening, sweating on a construction site, or just because you can, an outdoor shower feels very nice.

Inaugural rinse is pending.

 

 

living in a crafty world — glue-sticking together for reproductive rights

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Today at the Supreme Court the ruckus was all about whether that nasty Obamacare tromps on the rights of corporations (non-humans) to deny preventive health-care, specifically in the form of drugs and devices that prevent pregnancy, to employees (humans) who happen to work there. A better solution would be to uncouple health insurance completely from employment and move to universal health-care coverage as many other countries have, and as the Affordable Care Act begins to do. Until then, here we are, where under the cover of religion, a “boss” can play doctor.

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I happened to be with a “faith-based” group, singing liberation- and spiritual-type songs, and bearing signs suggesting that people — and corporations! — just mind their own business regarding the reproductive organs of others. We feel this way quite strongly, as a matter of intellectual conscience, which the Hobby Lobby craft store people must understand is at least as valid as strong feelings that come from the Bible, which does not mention IUDs at all, not even once.  As I walked past the long line of folks hoping to get inside to hear the opinion, two called out trying to shame me, but mostly the crowd gave the thumbs up and much more audible forms of support.

Here’s hope that Antonin Scalia will reread that thing he wrote about how it was ok to disallow use of peyote, because not every silly thing that people do can fall under the umbrella of protected religious behavior. People just gotta go with the program sometimes! Hunt down this story by searching with the words “Scalia” and “peyote,” and you will find many sources.

Links about today’s cases: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/03/19/3416214/religious-groups-birth-control-coverage/