Monday, June 30, 2008

Feminism and Jelly

The cherries on our tree are getting ripe, and it’s time for the yearly canning and bottling festival to begin at our house. (Well, can it be called a “festival” when it’s just one person? It probably looks more like a comedy of errors to the untrained eye.) Every year, I do my best to utilize everything possible from our yard, so I bottle jams, jellies, fruits, salsas, relishes, and pickles. Generally, anything that I can do boiler method is fair game. I don’t have a seal on my pressure cooker, so meats and veggies are currently frozen. I also dehydrate anything possible from herbs to fruit to sun-dried tomatoes.

So, as I was starting to pick the cherries last night, I was reminded of a conversation with my not-legal-father-in-law last year. He finds it odd that I consider myself a feminist while at the same time participating in a pastime that is traditionally very linked to the role of housewife. (Strangely, Bub’s obsession with cleaning doesn’t strike him as conflicting at all. Then again, she doesn’t say much about feminism or politics in general. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that she, too, is a feminist?) So, is feminism incongruent with apricot jam?

According to Wikipedia, “feminism is a discourse that involves various movements, theories and philosophies that are concerned with the issue of gender difference, which advocate equality for women, and campaign for women’s rights and interests.”

I guess I need to articulate why I do this – something I’ve never really done before. Why is home canning important to me?
#1: I’m cheap. I’m notoriously “frugal.” I’m consumed with saving money – or at least trying to. (This has always been a challenge for us because we are rarely on the same page when it comes to money matters.) In addition to being tight, I cannot stand to waste anything. So, when we moved into a home with mature fruit bushes and trees, I knew that I would need to do something with all of the food.
#2: I’m green-ish. I love the green movement. I love all of the things that it teaches. I’m trying to incorporate green changes/choices into my life. I firmly believe that food should be purchased in season, that we are simply funding terrorists with our dependence on so much foreign oil, that food shouldn’t be transported great distances before being sold (except bananas – call me a hypocrite), that compost is a good thing, and that – although it’s hot and uncomfortable – I don’t always need the AC to be blasting.
#3: The real reason (even though it’s easier to claim/explain the first two.) is that it is part of my past. It’s my herstory and the herstory of the women who came before me – women who always seemed to remain optimistic in spite of tough emotional, financial, marital and social pressures – women who were resourceful and creative, who could take a scrap of material and an ear of corn and make an entire meal appear upon a beautifully set table – women who raised the animals, worked the land and sweated alongside the men, but unlike the guys, were expected to clean up afterwards – and, not surprising when you considering where I live and my family ancestry, women who walked across the prairies with the handcarts, forced from their homes because of bigotry and persecution. Women to whom I can draw parallels in many ways.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t channel the spirits of pioneer women while I’m sterilizing the bottles; I don’t speak to my dead ancestors when I’m stirring the apricots and sugar; I don’t see apparitions while hot peeling the tomatoes.

Every year, however, I make it a point to remember helping my mom with the peaches, pears and cherries. For a very long time, my job was to pour sugar into the top of the fruit packed jar. I was “the best” according to my mom; nobody could do this job as well as I could. I was eventually given the task of constantly stirring the jams and later graduated to hot peeling the peaches and tomatoes. Sometimes, an aunt, grandma or neighbor would join us in the sweltering heat of the kitchen. Even though our brows would be beaded (sometimes dripping) with sweat, we would be surrounded by mounds of raw food, or we would be busy late into the night, the laughter and chatter never stopped.

As I grew older and became busier with school activities and horse-related competitions, I had less time to help with the canning. But, then again, with fewer people in the house, the need was not as great (or so I tell myself). Still, we always managed to put up a few bottles of something or another. After I moved out, I didn’t have the time, resources or equipment, and I was busy living a new life as an out lesbian with new friends, new hang outs, new games, new music.

For my 27th birthday, mom gave me a water bath canner. I was ecstatic. At the time, I thought it was because we had moved into a house with existing fruit trees. Now, I’m convinced that she knew she was dying, that the cancer had already spread, and that she wouldn’t be a candidate for a liver transplant, anyway. That same year, she stayed with us over the 4th of July weekend. I picked cherries and we pitted them well into the night – laughter and endless talk ensued; the only differences were the wheelchair and the location (the back porch enjoying a cool breeze). The next day, we put up five or six bottles of cherries – each bottle enough to fill a pie tin lined with homemade dough. Three weeks later, she died.

So, do feminism and dill pickles have a place on the same plate? I actually expected that I would answer my own question by the end of this post. I haven’t. Is it traditional women’s work or claiming and holding on to a herstory that is rightfully, and happily, mine? Either way, I’ll continue to honor the memory of the women who came before me. Women who almost certainly didn’t define themselves as feminists but who could do anything that they set their minds to, men’s work or not. Women who likely only received a smidgen of the recognition that they deserved then, I recognize them now...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

But, I gotta' disagree

I just read a very beautiful and eloquent post over on Lesbian Dad (see The Hitchin' Post - Nice play on words, by the way.) Seriously, well written. Her ability to describe the lesbian world with all of it's mind games, work arounds, obstacles and solutions is brilliant. After reading it, I feel a little more confident that love will, indeed, rise above the useless noise and hatred created, proliferated and encouraged by the religious right. She describes what works well for her and the love of her life. They have been in a committed relationship for a very long time, and that commitment ceremony held enormous significance for them, partly because they were declaring their love for each other, partly because they were publicly making that commitment, and partly because they were creating ceremony where one really doesn't exist. And, for them, I say "Hat's off, ladies!" HOWEVER, I will respectfully state here and now that I want that little piece of paper! I can't wait to wave it in the face of every conservative legislator in the state of Utah! I will clutch it tightly to my chest as we walk hand in hand through the Main Street Plaza (the heavens will surely crash around us). I can't wait to take it into the HR department and reason with them (yet again) for healthcare benefits for Bub. I don't think that it minimizes the ceremony that we had eleven years ago; I think that the official seal of the state of California strengthens our ceremony held so long ago. Borrowing from Utah Senator Scott McCoy, #1, Equal is right; and #2, [Americans] are good and fair people who understand #1. I just believe that the times are finally catching up with us. And, since I also believe that gay marriage will be legal everywhere someday, if it takes a little piece of paper from every damn state in the union to prove that I am an equal, then we'll get married 50 times! (OK, I admit that simply by being forced to travel to 50 states sadly proves that inequality still exists, but that's not my point.....) None of the hypothetical 50 marriages will diminish or change the beauty of our commitment ceremony - planned in four short days, held in front of our two best friends, and celebrated at a Mexican restaurant - but that's another story for another time. In the end, congrats to LD and her soon-to-be-legally-hitched life partner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


***Pride, Pre-Family, 2006: ran a marathon the day before, swigged beer, acted unconcerned with UVA/UVB exposure, participated in parade, partied at the bar after the festival
***Pride, New-Family, 2007: resisted leaving the NICU at all, forgot the festival hours and showed up at closing time with just enough time to eat something, three days post delivery and FULL of hormones and therefore tears, shows new baby photos to everyone that would look, felt hurt and highly insulted when old “friends” weren’t overjoyed for us, returned to hospital immediately after our super-rushed meal
***Pride, Young-Family, 2008: cringed at the dildo ring toss located close to the kids air trampoline, consumed NO beer, attended BBQ after the festival with four other kids in attendance, was asked for sunscreen by other festival goers because “moms always have sunscreen,” directed glares and muttered comments at the smokers in the crowd, obsessed with trying to find a balloon for each kid, avoided the super-loud speakers at the dance stage, left by early afternoon

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Who would have thought?

Someone actually reads this! I saw my link on her "other blogs I enjoy" area. Huh! Makes me feel somewhat cool. (Geez - I hope I've been writing something at least mildly clever!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Never want to let go

I’m not a person who believes in CIO (cry it out) parenting. I can’t ignore their cries whether it’s naptime, bedtime, grumpiness, hair pulling, or just whining and that’s because I know that these little people have no really good way to communicate with us yet. If it works for others, then that's great - for THEM. So, in the past, when I have told people that I don’t just lay the boys down to go to sleep on their own, but that I hold/cradle/cuddle them until they doze off, people just cringe. Then comes the well meaning advice that this will be a mistake as they grow up because they will require this for a couple of years. Yeah – maybe so - maybe not. But, it's my "mistake" to make. So, this has left me feeling like an idiot parent at times, and second guessing my decision more than a few times. However, I’ve still stuck with it. I still believe that it’s not necessarily right just because it’s what a majority of people do. (If that were the case, I would be straight!) So, we rock them to sleep almost every night. After a conversation with a friend, I have decided to never feel guilty for this decision anymore. Why? Because this time will never happen again. Someday in the NOT distant future, our little guys won’t be so little anymore. They won’t need us to sing to them (in fact, someday it will be downright embarrassing). They won’t want the constant movement that the rocking chair, swaying hips, or shuffling feet brings. They will climb into big boy beds all by themselves after story time is over. Two well meaning and snuggly mommies will be replaced by stuffed gorillas or tigers, plastic dinosaurs or horses, and action heroes. Since we (I) have reluctantly agreed that we shouldn’t have more kids, we are truly never going to have this time again. Oh sure, someday there may be grandkids, but even that will be different. There will be a completely different bond and reason for the hugs and kisses. It’s even starting now. Meatball is frequently very restless and can’t get comfy unless he’s in his crib. Then, he falls right to sleep. So, I will hold on to this time in our lives for as long as the little men will allow. Every giggle, every new discovery, every scream, every bottle, every sippy cup, every fake cry will never happen in the same way again. I never want to let this time and these boys go even though I know that someday I must. There is a lump in my throat just thinking about it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"I'm still here....."

So, after the boys' birthday was over and they were tucked into bed, I tried to find some thank you cards. I found a few, but what made this search really interesting is what else I found. All of our cards and envelopes and paper are kept in one drawer of the filing cabinet. I'm in it all of the time. So, when I saw a newspaper clipping, I was surprised. I've never seen any part of a newspaper in this drawer before. So, of course, I picked it up to see what it was. Imagine my surprise when it was my mom's obituary! I'm serious. I've never seen it in this drawer before. I cried, of course, because it was as if she were trying to tell me that she had been to the party, too - or that she was sorry that she missed it and that she was sorry that me and our boys had been robbed of her far too early. The trouble with me is that as much as I want to, and as many signals as I might receive, I just have a hard time believing them. I'm too much of a data and facts person. Trust me - I really, really, really want to believe in signs and angels and guardians and care from the beyond, but it's really, really, really hard for me to do so. However, this may have been the one "coincidence" that was just too weird to avoid because I don't even know how/why her obituary would have gotten into that drawer to begin with. All of the scrapbook-type stuff is kept downstairs...... I might start believing, and if/when I do, thanks mom.

Happy First Birthday!

The celebrating began the night before the big day when Bub started the play-by-play recount of the boys birth to them. She started at about 6:30pm by telling them that my water broke in the restaurant and continued to update them through the evening. First thing the next morning, she resumed the play-by-play until it culminated in singing Happy Birthday to Meatball at 9:29 and then to Peanut at 9:41. We spent the rest of the morning getting the yard and house ready for the party. All in all, it was a great birthday! We learned some valuable lessons:
1) Do not tell Grandma the theme until the very last minute. Otherwise, she goes overboard (Elmo chair, plush toys, socks, swimming trunks, etc.).
2) Do not invite a LOT of people unless you have room for a LOT of new toys.
3) Thanks to co-workers, we learned ahead of time to buy them their own cakes because it's enough that they must share the date.
4) Even well rested babies can get sensory overload!
[BTW - when did Elmo monopolize the Sesame Street market? Where are the Big Bird, Oscar, Grover, Bert/Ernie, Cookie Monster toys, hats, clothes? I wonder if the other characters resent Elmo's fame? I feel compelled to go shopping - again - yuck - just to find something that isn't red!]

Monday, June 2, 2008

Brotherly love

As I was preparing for the boys' first birthday, my mind was wandering to so many events and special moments that have taken place over the last 12 months. One such memory was a comment from our doctor after both boys had been delivered. When my water broke, it was from Meatball's sack. We just assumed that he was anxious to meet us. After he was delivered, the doc broke Peanut's sack before I started to push again. Finally, both boys having been rushed off to the NICU, the doc was cleaning up the "aftermath" when she commented on the deteriorating state of the placenta that housed and fed Peanut. (Note: Peanut's umbilical cord had only two vessels - one artery and one vein - when most have two arteries. This accounted for his very small size.) So, the doc said "It looks like Baby A was just taking care of his brother because Baby B's placenta wouldn't have lasted much longer." Three weeks later, after having interventions that consisted of a whiff of oxygen and some tube feedings, Peanut left the hospital first. At this time, one of the NICU nurses stated that "He [Peanut] is going home first so that he can get it all ready for the other one to arrive shortly." Aw... Brotherly Love...