wordless wednesday postcard

What did we do before google?

Who else in a the snap of a finger could tell us the history of why we call piggy banks piggy banks?

Turns out it comes from the word pygg, which (according to Wikipedia), “is an orange… clay commonly used during the Middle Ages as a cheap material for pots to store money, called pygg pots or pygg jars.”

Somewhere down the road the jars took on the shape of the animal.

I don’t remember ever having a piggy bank until a friend made me a pink one with gold wings in papier mache. I was an adult by then but I took pleasure filling the flying pink pig with coins. Then one day, I don’t know why, I gave it an appendectomy and took the contents to the bank.

I have the pig still, a gaping hole in its side (too sad to show in a pic) and still toss in loose change… but it’s so much easier now to get them out when I’m short for the pizza guy.

(Also… WHY ARE THERE SO MANY AT THE SALLY ANNE???)

Who gives away their piggy banks???

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

say the word

 

I just read this wonderful piece about seventh graders asking for tampons in their school and the powers that be who denied the request because of worries that the girls would “abuse the privilege”.

Because tampons are so useful for things other than menstruation. (Actually, I happen to know from an episode of Sex and the City that they can be used to staunch a nosebleed when cut in half lengthwise).

So the kids, instead of whinging and wailing

and crying about the unfairness of everything,

decided to bake cookies. Tampon cookies.

Which is lovely in its own self-evident way, but what got me even more than the cookies and the chutzpah is what someone in the article said about how things have changed, how once upon a time no one would have dared even SAY the word ‘tampon’. And when you think about that… I mean really think about it… it’s entirely mad. The silencing of what is so utterly normal.

Menstrual trivia: Not until 1985 did the word ‘period’ even appear in advertising, although, of course, many products were advertised (for ‘female conditions’ and ‘time of the month’ and other euphemisms. It was Courtney Cox who had the honours of finally outing the word in a TV ad for Tampax.

But for all the distance we’ve covered, we are STILL in this place where girls and women are made to feel a warped sense of taboo about their own bodies.

**

Two summers ago, in order to promote Gush, a book of essays, poetry, and stories about menstruation,  I sat at a little table on the sidewalk in downtown Uxbridge, outside the Blue Heron Book Shop, and chatted with passersby about menstrual memories. What were their stories? Etc.

It actually went brilliantly, as in PEOPLE (women mostly, but some men too, god bless them) WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS STUFF.

They just need to know it’s okay.

All that’s required is to normalize it. By saying the words. By asking the questions. By sharing stories that make us laugh and cry and want to change the world in tiny ways that are freeing. All of which toward the goal of changing things in bigger ways, as in, oh I don’t know… research into women’s health issues? which remain sadly underfunded and/or overlooked.

For starters.

Because we’re far from done with this subject.

(Slovenian graffiti in Ljubljana; courtesy of WikiCommons)

 

 

 

wordless wednesday (postcard to the past)

Dear Past,

Remember our favourite halloween (or anytime, EVER) costume?

The hobo? Remember?

Dad’s work pants and shirt, a pillow stuffed underneath to look like a chubby tummy, though why a homeless person would be characterized as chubby is a bit odd now, in retrospect. But then so much is. Odd.  In retrospect.

Mum’s kerchief bundled with something and tied onto a stick, which I carried over my shoulder.

I loved being a hobo.

But what I’ve learned since then is that I could easily have been taken for a tramp, or even a bum.

The difference, I’ve learned, is that a hobo is constantly on the move, working odd jobs along the way, while a tramp works ONLY when they have to, and a bum doesn’t work at all. The thing that unites them is that they’re all homeless. But the thing that makes them different again is that some of them are okay with that.

Or course as with any groups, no matter how bohemian, there are arguments among them as to which are superior.

The word ‘tramp’ comes from Middle English and means “to walk with heavy footsteps”, while ‘bum’ comes from the German bummeln, meaning to stroll about, doing not much of consequence. A low level kind of strolling.

No one knows for sure where the word ‘hobo’ comes from.

What I’ve discovered since I was that happy hobo for halloween, is that…

a) I continue to have tremendous respect for a certain bohemian way of life, especially one that includes occasionally working for one’s keep, and b) the band Supertramp took its name from the title of a book by William Henry Davies, a Welshman, who wrote The Autobiography of a Super Tramp in 1908.

Davies also wrote a poem called ‘Violet and Oak’, which I found a thousand years ago in an old schoolbook belonging to my sister. It was the first poem that I remember being in love with….  about a violet next to a fallen acorn and how that acorn grows into a tree and remembers “when [it was] weak and small [and its] sweetheart was a little violet in the grass.”

When I was that eight or nine or ten year old hobo I had no idea of any of this.

And yet…

…here we are.

Isn’t life just the craziest thing?

(oh, and p.s., Past… in 19somethingsomething we SAW Supertramp… remember???)

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

 

ducks. in a row.

 

I’ve been on page 9 of Ducks, Newburyport  for some days now.

Wading into the book innocently enough, it occurs to me fairly quickly (within nine pages) that

a) I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK, and

b) that reading it requires some clearing of the decks. Ducks in a row. ‘Planning’ in other words. This is not a book I want to read while alternating with other things, which is usually how I read, because I fear that such reading would mean missing the joy of total immersement.

 

Stream of consciousness requires consciousness.

Also, it is some merry trip being in this narrator’s head.

So on page nine of this essentially single sentence that continues for a thousand more pages, I stop reading, but only long enough to read what other drivel needs reading around here and to hide everything else, all those piles of magazines and papers and TBR stacks, until the house is now a more or less safe, no-distractions-from-Ducks zone.

Okay… deep breath.

Plug in the popcorn maker and throw a few logs on the fire… I’m going in.

If I don’t report back by xmas, send out the hounds.

 

 

 

not so wordless wednesday postcard

Dear Newfoundland Crafters Guild Women:

You may not remember me. I stopped by one of your places on the side of the road about a decade or so ago, wandered the few aisles in a sort of barn-like building with folding tables laden with homemade this and thats. A few of you sat in chairs drinking tea and knitting, chatting amongst yourselves, asking me if I was alright my dear… and if I needed any help to just give you a nudge. I bought this tea cosy for I haven’t a clue now how much… probably not nearly enough. A few dollars. I’ve used it goodness knows how many times since then. (How many times is almost every day for a decade?)

This was also the holiday of invading fog as we sat happily enough (and innocently) on the shoreline rocks with a glass of wine, possibly bread and cheese too, and then, looking up over the water the fog coming in at a pace and thickness like I’ve never seen before. A vast platoon of cold grey air that obliterated everything as it went, and us sitting there mouths full of cheese like targets. Soon it would be all around us and we’d never be able to get off the rocks safely, we’d never find our footing, never know what was land or water. So we scrambled like crazy while we could still see. Ran to the B&B we were staying at and no sooner landed on the porch than the fog was on us and you couldn’t see a metre in front of you. That we survived makes it one of the best memories ever.

Also the same holiday when I sat on a hillside at Petty Harbour, watched a few boats coming in and wrote a poem about the women who waited in those little outports; I wondered how many times they’d held their breath until they saw their chap’s boat return while at the same time enjoying a certain temporary freedom and community with each other.

Petty Harbour

They hide in square wooden houses
the women of the boatmen, leaning
on each other’s shadows, thighs
pressed together against the fog
until—all but one returns; thighs
loosen for a moment before they’re
alone, immersed in salt and gravy,
hiking cloud paths for berries to send
with him next time; yet for the one
whose boatman doesn’t return—
thighs loosen and life begins.

Anyway, I just wanted to say, dear crafter women, somebody made a pretty incredible tea cosy. And thank you. And I want you to know that I think of you often, your knitting and your chatting and willingness to be nudged in that barn with its hot beverages and cookies on offer and I am grateful for you and for women everywhere who work at these seemingly simple tasks to raise funds for hospitals and schools and families in need and how I”m not sure you realize what an enormous chunk of the planet you hold up…

I just want you to know this is what I sometimes think when I have my tea.

 

 

Other (not always) wordless friends:

Allison Howard
Barbara Lambert
Elizabeth Yeoman

 

this is not a review: ‘almost everything’, by anne lamott

 

The opening line is my favourite:

“I’m stockpiling antibiotics for the apocalypse, even as I await the blossoming of paperwhites on the windowsill in the kitchen.”

Therein, I suspect, lie big clues about Anne Lamott’s psyche. And the book kind of backs up that theory.

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope, is a quick read… a hundred and eighty something pages of what feels like random thoughts about, well, almost everything from forgiveness and brokenness, possessions, the gifts of poems and wine and the way a family can suffocate from thinking they know each other so well but don’t and won’t buy that truth, to the meaning of truth, and the question: what is a story?. She alludes (often) to the current state of madness in the world as well as making a case for milk chocolate by saying the 81% is not food but best used “as a shim to balance the legs of wobbly chairs”. (my response: I  will happily eat those shims!)

All pleasant enough though not in any way rife with mind-bending insight… and despite Lamott’s tendency to whinge a tad too much and hide behind sarcasm, which feels to me out of place in a book that is meant to ponder deep(ish) thoughts. And chocolate.

Framed as wisdom imparted to a few youngsters in her life, it comes off a little too much like here goes know-it-all auntie, spouting off again. Albeit a pretty interesting auntie, one must admit.

Worth the time? Sure. In the way that having lunch with a friend who is slightly annoying and all over the place in her thoughts but still better than dining alone when you don’t feel like being alone is worth it.

“I spend a lot of time with old people who know things… More than any other sentence I have ever come across, I love Ram Dass’s line that when all is said and done, we are just walking each other home.”

♦♦♦