Sunday Poem–“Hair”


No females in my family had long hair.

Dad did not like it,

said it showed male domination

over women.

Once when grown and gone

from home, I began to grow mine

out, experiment.

When he saw it, he told me

he thought it unbecoming.

I cut it.

Mom said she had long hair

when she was young.

Her dad forbade her to cut it.

In her twenties she chopped her golden locks

off, flapper style, then hid her head

in a scarf, afraid.

 

Note:  This poem is from the family section of my book, “On the Rim of Wonder”.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Poem–Choose


“Most people are about as happy as they

make up their minds to be.”  Abraham Lincoln

 

When I was twenty something, I chose happiness, not the sappy, syrupy, cheery, but a deeper joy of cherishing the small, the unique, the everyday, smiling with sunsets, the song of the mockingbird in spring, horses running free, the nearly invisible bobcat climbing the canyon wall, the taste of fine coffee at the first wakeful moments in the morning, cooking for friends, taking a “property walk” with my grandson, laughing with the teenagers I teach.  I am driven to do little–obsessions, compulsions do not run me.  I choose.  Choose life, choose joy, or choose whining, choose lamenting.  Choose!!  Be who you want to be; do what you want to do.

IMG_2817

Note:  this is a poem from my book, “On the Rim of Wonder”.

White Trash and Rednecks


Nearly everyone lies about an important aspect of US history even historians. School history books avoid the discussion totally, this significant part of US history, much of which explains past and current racism.

Americans pretend that social class does not matter, that anyone can rise to the top given enough effort.  This myth depends on the continuation of a very selective historical memory, indeed, a lie.

It began with the British and those who intentionally left there to come here.  Even colonists divided the classes with poor people and criminals at the bottom–whores, discharged English soldiers, robbers, highwaymen; the saddest of the lot were the orphans, rounded up, loaded on ships bound for America, sold as indentured servants. Often these contracts were repeatedly resold with no routes for the individuals to escape.  The rigid English class conditions continued here.  People of higher classes in the colonies referred to the poor as waste, rubbish, and trash.

John Locke, often considered the father of constitutional government, favored slavery and aristocratic society.  He endorsed an aristocratic constitutional government and called the poor, landless, lazy lubbers. Because the southern colonies lacked sufficient land lubbers and land owners believed Africans more suitable for hot, humid swamp clearance, they petitioned for slaves–previously illegal in Georgia, for example.  These wealthy landowners also viewed poor whites as too lazy to work.

Even the esteemed Ben Franklin believed in the concept of class as inevitable.  Both he and Jefferson saw expansion westward as the solution to potential class conflict.  Franklin thought the new colonies needed more people and advocated for the freedom of slave women who bred many children and for white women to be allowed to gain property rights for the same.  More people would move west and alleviate class conflict. Franklin was not an advocate for the poor, whom he considered lazy, slothful.  He even endorsed their forced migration westward and referred to them as “the meaner Sort, i.e. the Mob, or the Rable”.

If this sounds shocking, Jefferson went even further, calling the poor, “rubbish”.  He did feel they could improve, given land and education.  He did not include slaves in this theory.

If you ever wondered about the origin of the term “cracker”, look back to the era of Andrew Jackson, the era of “squatters” in a log cabin in the thickly forested frontier, people who squatted on land they did not even own.  Many saw them in both positive and negative terms:  half strong, hard working pioneers and half robbers.  Two terms applied to these people, “cracker” and “squatter”, none of whom legally owned the land where they lived, troublemakers with no hope of upward mobility, people who championed crudity, distrust of civil society and city dwellers, and held on to a kind of crude arrogance.  Both terms came from England where such people were considered lazy vagrants.  The more educated and “civilized” viewed them as degenerate, low class fornicators.  These squatters saw Andrew Jackson as their champion and Davy Crockett as their hero.

The phrase “white trash” became common in the 1860s and after.  These were the southern poor with dirty faces, ragged clothing, distended bellies without possibility of improvement, who for a brief time were viewed as even lower than slaves.  Southern aristocrats pushed the concept of bloodlines for people as well as livestock.  They advocated a criteria for human as well as livestock breeding to justify slavery and Anglo-Saxon superiority.  Native Indians were a biologically inferior, degraded race, doomed to extinction.  Later Texans used similar arguments to deter intermarriage with Mexicans.  Sam Houston championed this cause apparently ignoring his own personal history.  He had lived with Natives and married two of them.  In the long run these beliefs did not help poor whites or raise their status.  They lived off the worst land and were continually referred to in derogatory terms, e.g. white trash, sand eaters.

Just before the Civil War some elite Southerners advocated to keep certain classes ignorant.  They defended the planter class as having the best bloodlines, whose destiny was to rule over poor whites and black slaves. When they realized they needed poor white support to secede, and that many did not support them, they convinced them the war was necessary to save them from a state worse than slavery.  Some were promised land and other rewards.  Since most were illiterate, they remained unaware that they were referred to as “perfect drones”, “the swinish multitude”, and other pejorative terms; and that some saw them as trash who contaminated whatever they touched. It was not the Southern elite who died in masses during the Civil War; it was the poor, recruited with Davis’ rhetoric about the superiority of the white race.

Later, during Reconstruction, William Percy wrote a description of poor whites as those who lynch Negroes, lack intelligence, attend religious revivals then fornicate in the bushes afterwards.  He also explicitly referred to them as Anglo-Saxons.  Teddy Roosevelt saw this a bit differently.  He wanted Anglo-Saxons to work, to join the military, and breed, but he excluded poor whites from this group and his plan.

The term “rednecks” came into use in the South during the 1890s.  It referred to people who lived in the swamps and mill towns, wore overalls, heckled at political rallies.

The Great Depression exacerbated the situation for poor whites and increased their numbers dramatically.  Those who had never been considered white trash joined the ranks of the poor.  Many Southern writers went back to discussions about the Civil War and argued about the current poverty and how to solve the problem.  One, Jonathan Daniels, even wrote that Rebel pride blindfolded all classes.

Later, one way to overcome the prejudices against the poor was through music and TV shows, e.g. Elvis Presley and “The Beverly Hillbillies”.  It allowed the country to feel better about prejudices and pretend they did not exist.

Today this manifests itself through politicians who “pretend” to be white trash and rednecks to gain votes, but in reality live the lifestyle of the upper class.

 

Note:  For those who wish to read more about class and the writings of the individuals mentioned above here is a partial list.

 

Writings and speeches of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson

Sherwood Anderson’s “Poor White”

Writings of John Locke

Works of James Agee

“White Trash:  The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America”

Speeches of Jefferson Davis

 

 

 

 

Grateful


Six days ago a huge storm struck, including eight inches of hail, a rain deluge, and high winds.  While the hail denuded many plants and bushes, the deluge made my drive a mess.

IMG_2711

Although it may be hard to determine the depth of the gravel and dirt and rocks from this photo, many of the rocks are bigger than the size of the fists of both my hands together, large enough to not want car tires to drive over them.  The gravel and dirt on the far side of the photo were at least eight inches deep.  Luckily I have a small tractor with a bucket and a helpful grandson.  He picked up the larger rocks and hauled all of them to the ditch created either side of the steep incline above the cement.  The rain had created a trench a foot deep in some places and exposed a pipe to the septic system. He filled parts of these trenches with the bigger rocks.

The next morning I used the tractor bucket to scoop up dirt and rocks and haul them to washed out places in the upper drive.  It was impossible to get it all with the bucket given some of the space is not very big or where it was possible to maneuver the tractor.  Therefore, I had to scoop it up and remove it with a shovel.  It took several tractor buckets full to get rid of what I had to shovel.  Finally, this morning I finished sweeping the rest of the fine sandstone off the cement.

After all this, why am I grateful?  There was no damage to my house.  The hail broke windows in some houses not far away, the wind blew light weight buildings into neighbors’ yards, and some people nearby had roof damage. I only have some tiny damage to the barn roof.  It could have been a lot worse.  I feel grateful to have escaped with just a messed up driveway.

Why do I feel even more grateful?  It occurred to me that I was able to clean up most of this except for my grandson’s help with the rocks–which I could have done but it was helpful.  I can still shovel gravel and dirt, a lot of it, lift and carry 50 pounds of horse feed from the vehicle across the barn–about 40 ft or more–and dump it in the container. I can work for hours doing this sort of stuff and feel fine afterwards. Yes, I feel grateful that I can continue to do all these things myself and what is more, usually enjoy doing them, feeling productive and independent.

When people ask me how I do all this, I usually tell them two things, yoga (as well as lots of other exercise mandatory if you live in the country and have animals) and heathy food.  My yoga practice began decades ago; I never stopped.  I practice it at least three times a week, sometimes more.  I stand on my head in the middle of the room several times a week.  My favorite foods are mostly vegetables.  The only carb I really like is rice. One of my dad’s sayings was, “You are what you eat.”  He still ran a farm at 90.  Yes, I admit, genes probably help, but without the exercise and self discipline, it probably is not enough.  I also meditate daily which does not require lots of time unless you want to spend lots of time doing it.  Even 15-30 minutes a day matter.  Exercise, yoga, healthy eating, meditating will all make for a happier person.  I promise.

 

Naked and Unafraid: Mahasveta Devi (1926-2016)


A powerful story of the power of woman and in this case of “right”.

03devi-obit-master768 Photo credit: The New York Times

Mahasveta Devi died last month at the age of 90 in Kolkata, India. A widely acclaimed Bengali writer, she identified as an activist first, clearly evident in her meticulously researched “fiction.” Most of her stories champion the cause of those living on the margins of society, particularly the Adivasis or original inhabitants of India; poor, unemployed and itinerant, they traditionally subsisted off the land, and continue to struggle against exploitative upper caste landowners.

I cannot claim to be an expert on Devi or her activism, but there is a story I read a few years ago, which never fails to haunt me, whether because of the rawness with which she describes the harsh reality faced by tribal people or because of what can be seen as the violent but ultimate triumph of its female protagonist, I cannot tell. Perhaps because of both, or because…

View original post 1,120 more words

Toxic Masculinity: “Masculinity Must Be Killed” by Carol P. Christ


Very thought provoking. I definitely will look for the pamphlet by Abdullah Ocalan.

Carol Molivos by Andrea Sarris 2A few days ago I watched the movie An Unfinished Life starring Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford, and Jennifer Lopez. Though it was recommended as a sensitive psychological drama, and though on the surface level it criticizes (male) violence against women and animals, on a deeper level, it confirms the association of masculinity with violence, suggesting that violence is the way men resolve their problems with each other.

At the beginning of the film, Robert Redford, who lives on a ranch in Montana, picks up his rifle with the intention of shooting a bear who mauled his friend Morgan Freeman. This act of violence is stopped by local authorities who arrive to capture the bear. However, the bear is not removed to a more remote area, but rather is given to a local make-shift zoo where it is kept in a small cage. At the end of the movie, Redford frees…

View original post 1,003 more words

Woman Is Not Anonymous by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


Vanessa Rivera Virginia Woolf

Lately I have been reflecting on this quote of Virginia Woolf: “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” Here she points out the deliberate invisibilization of women’s contribution in all areas of human endeavors.

Patriarchy always takes these contributions for granted. For centuries, domestic labor has been invisible and not considered work. It has put beauty over intelligence, even with women of outstanding intelligence. And in terms of knowledge and intellectual production, patriarchy has appropriated women’s ideas and in presenting them as “anonymous,” presents them as it’s own.

Thanks to the feminist reclaiming of history, and proving the accuracy of the premise that “Anonymous is woman,” we have learned of the long list of inventions that were made possible due to women’s ideas who were kept invisible, unnamed, unquoted,  and erased;  after all, she was “just” a “woman.”

View original post 867 more words

Chocolate and Personality


Did you know you can be defined by the type and shape of chocolate you eat?  New Mexico State University researchers study how ethnicity, fashion, economic status, and religious practices relate to food. Basically, what you eat symbolizes who you are.

A New Zealand therapist carries this further in his book, “Chocolate Therapy:  Dare to Discover Your Inner Center”. Langham, the therapist, provided a variety of chocolate choices to his patients, began noticing patterns in the shapes and types of chocolates different patients chose.  The book goes so far as to suggest a game you can play with friends when they visit your house.  Provide a wide selection of chocolates, watch them pick one, and then use the book to read what it says about them.  His claim is that they will say, “This is so me.”

To give a couple of examples:

-A lover of milk chocolate likes to live in the past emotionally, loves the sweet smooth feeling this type of chocolate provides, remembering his or her childhood.

-A lover of dark chocolate looks forward, thinks toward the future.

-A lover of bitter chocolate prefers the fine things in life, knows what he or she talks about, specializes.

The book also contains an analysis of shape choices and how the shape you choose relates to your inner self.

be the peace you wish to see in the world


Sadly, little progress toward this seems to be the current state of affairs in the world.

NO LEADER IS GOING TO BRING US PEACE

To bring about peace in the world, to stop all wars, there must be a revolution in the individual, in you and me. Economic revolution without this inward revolution is meaningless, for hunger is the result of the maladjustment of economic conditions produced by our psychological states: greed, envy, ill-will, and possessiveness. To put an end to sorrow, to hunger, to war, there must be a psychological revolution, and few of us are willing to face that. We will discuss peace, plan legislation, create new leagues, the United Nations and so on and on; but we will not win peace because we will not give up our position, our authority, our money, our properties, our stupid lives. To rely on others is utterly futile: others cannot bring us peace. No leader is going to give us peace, no government, no army, no…

View original post 95 more words

Gratitude


Usually, I plan my posts, write them out carefully, sometimes even proof a couple of times.  Today is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.  Even though I know all about the historical lies to cover up the truth about the supposed original Thanksgiving, I continue to think this is a useful and fun holiday for several reasons.  Thankfulness, gratitude, remains the primary source of a happy life.  The list of things for which I am thankful seems nearly endless:

-health

-living in a place filled with natural beauty

-my daughter

-my grandson

-my son, even though we talk only occasionally and he lives far away

-teaching

-my students, one of whom posted on Facebook this morning that he is grateful that he had me as a teacher ten years ago

-the friends who took me with them to Ethiopia this past summer

-all my other friends locally and from all over the world

-the exchange students who have lived with me and from whom I receive messages regularly

-my parents for whom I owe eternal gratitude for teaching me values, independence, tolerance, a love of beauty and knowledge, and a sense of wonder

-music

-my ability to sing

-horses

-wildlife, nature–here where I am so fortunate to live

-art

-my ability to write

-all the people who love my book of poetry and tell me they do–I might also include the people, mostly men, who find it shocking

-happiness and the choice I made to be happy all those long years ago

-red wine

-plentiful food

I could go on and on.  However, it seems best to end with this fantabulous morning on my own little rim of wonder and say I am thankful for a life filled with so many astonishing events and experiences I never expected and for which I am endlessly grateful.

SAM_1454