About Time

I hope the time has come. I too can add my story to the #MeToo chorus–a daring move for me as someone raised in mid-America in the middle class in the mid-century who learned that private matters should be kept private. I actually have two tales from many decades ago, long before there were brave women who started speaking out.

Perkins SchoolThe first incident, which I did not realize was an incident until some years later, took place when I was twelve. It was about 1952. I was in 6th grade in Glenna Gruetzmacher’s class at Perkins Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa. I had just started taking flute lessons. A male music teacher, not a regular teacher, came to the school once a week to give lessons. The small room where the lessons were given had been built at the top of the staircase that went from the first to the second floor. It was up a few steps from the second floor hall in the wasted space at the top of the stairwell. It had glass windows that faced out toward the interior hall, but since it was up a few steps, it only let light in. No one in the hall could see what was happening through these windows. During these lessons the flute teacher used to run his hands up and down my upper leg. I thought it was a little odd but never mentioned it to anyone, but I have never forgotten it.

This next incident harks back to my mid-twenties, more than fifty years ago. After I graduated from college, I married someone I had been dating for at least five years. We were both employed for a year after we were married when my first husband was accepted as a graduate student at Stanford. We moved to California and I found a job teaching high school in the Bay Area. It was exciting for us as we started exploring San Francisco and the area.

One week-end we went on an excursion to the City. One of my husband’s fraternity brothers from college lived there and we planned to overnight on Saturday at his place. We went out for dinner with him and returned to his apartment. We turned on the television and started watching, but my husband decided to call it a night. He had had a couple of drinks and was ready to retire the spare bedroom we were staying in. I continued talking to our friend and suddenly he was all over me–kissing me and pulling at my clothes. I was finally able to wrest myself out from under him and fled to the bedroom. I never mentioned this to anyone. Needless to say, I found reasons to never see him again. But I can still remember his name.

I realize that sexual attraction exists. But the equations have been skewed. Your consent + my consent = 100%; but your consent – my consent = 0%. It is time to set things straight.

 

statue of liberty

My Country

Why do we need such turmoil in our government? We have been governed for over two centuries by administrations that we citizens, on one side, endorse and on the other side, chafe under. But we have always been allowed to be ourselves. Our government has encouraged it. Sometimes we make concessions to accommodate some, but not all, of the wishes on one side or the other. We the people have been allowed to articulate our needs, and we the people have learned to accept that our needs are not necessarily the needs of others. We are united in the idea that we all have a chance to speak our minds, and we all wish to have the respect of a leader who understands that we belong to one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

my country sweet land of liberty

Head in the Cloud

Head in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look UpHead in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up by William Poundstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While this book was not a page-turner, it was interesting enough that I finished it by reading a few pages every night. The author is a statistician and poll taker whose premise is that people who know more make more money, are happier, are more likely to succeed, etc. By using random questions in large samples of people, he is able to compare their answers with other seemingly unrelated facts about their lives. It is an interesting way to statistically confirm what we probably already infer.

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Finding Your Voice

Well into my seventh decade, I realize that finding my voice is a lifetime quest down the path I am traveling. Once again my search has emerged to a conscious level.

A little over two years ago, after I finally retired from defining myself in the work force, I sought another outlet for continuing this trek. I happened upon SeniorNet, an all-volunteer organization which connects those over 50 with the ever-changing digital world. Instructors and coaches lead two-hour classes of sixteen participants for up to 8 weeks on a variety of topics using sixteen personal computers with an overhead projector for the instructor.

I have coached in such diverse classes, as Genealogy, Using Gmail and Picasa, Making Your Own Greeting Cards, Android Phone, and Borrow Books without Going to the Library. And recently I have found myself teaching a Facebook class. All of this has made me keenly aware of the need and the diversity that we have in finding our own voice and sharing it with others.

I will soon be teaching a two week course on Blogging if enough people are interested. So, once again, I am grappling with how to help others, as well as myself, connect to the world.

For me, my voice does not have to be heard or read by minions. And, although I do not mind sharing with others, I am primarily talking to myself–sorting out my thoughts and recording events and things that are important to me. As with life, it is a work in progress.

I am using my website to help me.

Follow Your Star

Tapestry with red and white stripes, stars on a blue fieldDuring this contentious election season, I have taken some solace in contemplating a small tapestry I wove some years ago. It visually sorts out for me some of the multidimensional aspects of our present situation. When I created it, I called it “Follow Your Star”, which seems as appropriate now as it was then.

Not being particularly gifted with creating original designs, I based it on a depiction of a Chinese lattice from a book I have had for many years called Chinese Lattice Designs (a 1974 edition of a 1937 work call A Grammar of Chinese Lattice). I started from the very beginning when I created this. I bought a fleece at the Monterey Wool Show, washed, carded and spun the fleece into yarn, dyed the yarn into various shades of reds and blues, and wove it into this small tapestry. It, like our lives in the U.S., was a journey.

I did not set out to create something patriotic, but rather something universal. Of course, the wavy red and white stripes and multi-sized stars on a blue background evoke an immediate suggestion of America. But the various shades of the reds and the blues suggest the variety in our country. And the stars—some large, some small—travel in varying directions. To me it is a tapestry that embodies both freedom and diversity .

And it started with an idea from the ancient Chinese.

A drawing of lattice work.

Chinese lattice work design

Weather vane with sheep

Finding My Peace

The door always unlocked, my retreat in the garden is where I find my soul. The threads of my life have converged in this small space.

When I was five, my mother taught me to sew. My dolls were always finely attired.

When I was seven, my second cousin taught me to knit. She was attending college to become a physical therapist. One of her assignments was to teach something to someone that they might find challenging. I was selected.

I continued to thread my way through life.

A year after I married, my husband encouraged me to by a small table loom. This led to a larger 4-harness loom and finally to a very large 8-harness loom. At some time a spinning wheel was added to the mix. Our small house teemed with my projects and I jokingly told people we did not live in a house, we lived in a studio. The door to every room revealed traces of my passion.

When we moved in, there was a small shed in the garden. It had originally been used as living quarters while the house, a small weekend retreat, was built by our predecessors. The shed finally succumbed to the elements in the winter of 1999-2000. We decided to have a new shed built. We found plans, hired a new contractor (this was his first job since getting his contractor’s license) and had a nice shed with small attached greenhouse built.

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And then it happened. My husband suggested we turn it into a studio. I put up insulation in the stud walls and ceiling and we had the contractor add wallboard and a ceiling fan. I painted it–inside and out–and had shelving installed.

Over the years since, my threads have followed me out to this haven. The view out the door extends beyond our apricot tree to the ridge beyond and the faraway coast when the air is clear. I sew, I spin, I weave. I can hear birds sing, the neighbors dog bark and their horse whinny. Here I can maintain the orderly chaos that comes naturally to me.Studio interior

As I walk through this door–winter and summer, I know peace is possible.

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