Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Couple of Monkeys

So yesterday afternoon, we went to a local state of the art play ground. 

 I mean this place has everything!  

Including it's own little splash pad that's basically a never ending sprinkler.  (If I'd known about that last one, I'd have had the boys wear their swim trunks.)

Monkey bars and swings beyond expectation!

And where are MY boys?

Yup-- they're the only kids up in the trees (;

My boys have been climbing trees forever.  They're even did it for my landscape painting a couple of years ago.

We were meeting my friend and her son there.  At first, she couldn't spot me-- but as soon as she saw children in the trees, she knew they were mine.

Another parent, who's daughter is currently in a purple cast where she fractured her elbow at this playground a month ago (she fell from the monkey bars) joked that if I taught kindergarten-- at recess, all my kids would be in one big tree-- where it's easy to keep an eye on everyone at once. (;

Then my friend Carrie issued up a challenge my oldest couldn't refuse:

And he climbed to the highest point.

It's kind of a running theme that when they head to a playground-- they're looking for the way up.

It was a most wonderful hour and half.

Of course, just as we were getting ready to leave, he tried to 'climb the highest' on a different set-- and fell.  I had him icing the bruises on the back of his leg and foot where he got hung up when we got home.

But I'll admit, I'm thankful-- he could have broken his leg.  He could have NOT gotten hung up and landed on his head.  Or he could have fallen the other direction which was a further 4 ft drop from what he did.

Hopefully, it will remind him to be more careful in the future.

But I am absolutely certain that it won't stop him from being a climber (:

Rotten Little Stinker

A friend shared this image on facebook today.

I may have mentioned it before but spiders tend to be a theme around here:

I don't like them.

My kids think it's funny.

...So it reminded me that yesterday evening, I'm sweeping the kitchen floor and come across a half dollar sized dead spider.

My youngest points it out to me as he's passing by, to make sure I know I've swept up this huge dead spider (his words).

I said, "I know....It's giving me the heebie geebies!"

After asking what heebie geebies were, and getting a visual demonstration completely with shiver and squeak, he said it didn't bother him.

So I said he could help me and get the dust pan.

He responded, "I'll get the dustpan and I'll help you-- but you have to sweep in the spider and face your fear, Momma....  (as an afterthought and with a evil little giggle) I'm helping you get over your fear."

There was much squeaking on my part.

And much laughing on his.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Locks of Love

For my first 2 1/2 years at Troy, I kept my hair trimmed to about shoulder level.  Every month, I cut, trimmed and shaped it.  It grows about an inch every month.

Last October, I'd had enough of the constant upkeep.  And decided I'd cut it and give it to Locks of Love.  But it has to be a minimum of 10 inches long.  To my shoulders, it wasn't.  So I decided to let it grow out, no trimming, until summer started.

For 7 months, I let it grow.

This actually came in handy this last semester for my business of art class and working Troy Fest.  Then I could model hair sticks (:

A week after that was over, I braided my hair and went in for a haircut.  She cut it to shoulder length (the top of the braid) before giving me my real hair cut.

Me with my new hair cut holding the braid.
7 months.  That's 7 months worth of hair.

By last Christmas, my hair was longer than it had been since I was 14.  And each day, it just got longer.

Wanted to make sure my braid reached required length:

Just over 11 inches, clean, all natural, and thick.  I hope it does some child good.

All ready for shipping.

Mailed it off this morning.

If you would to do the same to help create a wig for a child in need,

Here are the requirements:

Minimum of 10 inches long.
Clean and dry.
Cannot be bleached.
Must be bound-- either as a braid or pony tail.  No loose hair.

Then package it up and mail it to:

Locks of Love
234 Southern Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL  33405-2701

For more information about Locks of Love, visit their webpage at

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Virginia Woolf in the 21st Century


Janin Wise
Dr. Kobeleva
English 2206
30 April 2012
Virginia Woolf for the 21st Century
            Virginia Woolf wrote the essay, A Room of One’s Own, in 1929, based on a series of lectures she gave at two women’s colleges at Cambridge University in 1928.  The essay was revolutionary in its use of a woman’s perspective to create a fictitious narrator and narrative to explore women in literature both as writers and characters.  It shied away from the categorizing and empirical data typified in men’s scholarly essays, focusing instead on the writer’s thoughts and feelings as she contemplated what a woman would need in order to create literary works on par with Shakespeare.  Through her musing, not only does she predicts the women’s rights movements that will be aimed at putting women on equal footing with men, but she also predicts the patriarchal backlash that such change engenders.
            Almost 100 years after women earned the right to vote, where they make up 60% of the college campuses earning their degrees, women are facing a political onslaught against issues that have been considered basic rights.  In America, there are bills up for vote that would let hospitals let women die rather than perform a life-saving abortion (HR 3); to cut a billion dollars in financial assistance to WIC, a government agency that provides food for low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies and young children (Zoe Neuburger, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities); an amendment that stopped funding Planned Parenthood health centers, basically closing one of America’s most trusted health care and family planning providers in the country (US Department of Health and Human Services, OPA); in Georgia, they are pushing legislature that would redefine rape and change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking and domestic violence to “accuser” while allowing victims of crimes like burglary to remain “victims” (House Bill 14); in South Dakota, there is a bill that would make it legal to murder a doctor that provides abortion care (House Bill 1171); in Mississippi, there was a bill that would have redefine natural miscarriage as murder (Initiative 26, Valena Beety, p. 55-62); there are several states that putting up road blocks towards abortion care and access to birth control, while others are trying to make it harder for women to leave abusive marriages; there are several lawsuits towards Wal-Mart and other companies that knowingly pay women less for the same work, arguing that women’s husbands are the real bread winners and women are only working to occupy their time—completely failing to take into consideration single mothers (Wal-Mart Stores vs. Duke, No. 10-277); and there are other states that are on the offensive against single mothers as being abusive families, simply for the lack of a father (Senate Bill 507); while all this legislature is aimed at keeping women at home raising the children, there are also bills up that would make it impossible for stay-at-home women to gain access to credit (Regulation Z, Truth in Lending, FRB).
            And all of this is a reason to look again at Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own with 21st century eyes as she offers up the opinion that a woman must have money and room of her own (345), translated almost a hundred years later to mean that a woman must have financial independence and privacy. Unlike Woolf and the female writers of her time—women are expected to be both mothers and working or otherwise producing, as Woolf predicted when she said:
Even if one could state the value of any one gift at the moment, those values will change; in a century’s time very possibly they will have changed completely.  Moreover, in a hundred years, I thought, reaching my own doorstep, women will have ceased to be the protected sex.  Logically they will take part in all the activities and exertions that were once denied them.  The nursemaid will heave coal.  The shop-woman will drive an engine.  All assumptions founded on the facts observed when women were the protected sex will have disappeared—as, for example (here a squad of soldiers marched down the street), that women and clergymen and gardeners live longer than other people.  Remove that protection, expose them to the same exertions and activities, make them soldiers and sailors and engine-drivers and dock labourers, and will not women die off so much younger, so much quicker, than men that one will say, “I saw a woman today,” as one used to say, “I saw an aeroplane.”  Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation, I thought, opening the door. (1987)
This is of particular import in 2012 because we are in the blossoming of a second great depression—the banks over extended and almost went belly up, the housing markets collapsed and jobs are harder to come by.  Through the course of this paper, historical and political facts will be presented in an effort to follow in the suggested footsteps of Ms. Woolf herself when she said, “At any rate, when a subject is highly controversial—and any question about sex is that—one cannot hope to tell the truth.  One can only show how one came to hold what-ever opinion one does hold.  One can only give one’s audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker” (345-346).
So why have are there so many efforts lashing out at women’s rights?  This too was predicted by Woolf when she said:
The most transient visitor to this planet, I thought, who picked up this paper could not fail to be aware, even from this scattered testimony, that England is under a patriarchy.  Nobody in their sense could fail to detect the dominance of the professor.  His was the power and the money and the influence….with the exception of the fog he seemed to control everything.  Yet he was angry.  I knew he was angry by this token.  When I read what he wrote about women I thought, not of what he was saying, but of himself.  When an arguer argues dispassionately he thinks only of the argument; and the reader cannot help thinking of the argument too.  If he had written dispassionately about women, and used indisputable proofs to establish his argument and had shown no trace of wishing that the result should be one thing rather than another, one would not have been angry either.  One would have accepted the fact....So be it, I should have said.  But I had been angry because he was angry.  Yet is seemed absurd, I thought, turning over the evening paper, that a man with all this power should be angry.  Or is anger, I wondered, somehow, the familiar, the attendant sprite of power? (1983)
Which clearly illustrates that over the past 100 years, the dominance of man over woman has been at a sharp decline.  Largely due to greater access to education and birth control in all of its forms allowing women to leave the home and gain both financial independence and personal privacy away from the dominance of either father or spouse, or as Arvonne Fraser wrote in the essay, “Becoming Human:  The Origins and Development of Women’s Human Rights”:
As John Stuart Mill argued in 1869 in his essay The Subjection of Women, the question is whether women must be forced to follow what is perceived as their “natural vocation,” that is, home and family—often called the private sphere-or should be seen, in private and public life, as the equal partners of men.  While the division of spheres, based on sex and known as patriarchy, may have been justified as a necessary division of labor in the early evolution of the human species, the system long ago outlived its functionality. (15)
That makes it obvious that the question of a woman’s rightful place and the function of patriarchy have been questioned for over 100 years.  Virginia Woolf offers up an explanation for the rise and dominance of patriarchy when she said:
Life for both sexes…is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle.  It calls for gigantic courage and strength.  More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself.  Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle.  And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly?  By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself.  By feeling that one has some innate superiority…over other people.  Hence the enormous importance to a patriarch who has to conquer, who has to rule, of feeling that great numbers of people, half the human race indeed, are by nature inferior to himself.  It must be one of the chief sources of his power….Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size. (1983-84)
But even with this explanation, where society has advanced almost 100 years and women are clearly allowed to participate in education and practically any job, why is patriarchy trying to make a resurgent push against accepted feminist rights?  She again provides an answer, “That is why Napoleon and Mussolini (the Taliban and the conservative political Right in America) insist so emphatically upon the inferiority of women, for if they were not inferior, they would cease to enlarge….The looking-glass vision is of supreme importance because it charges the vitality; it stimulates the nervous system.  Take it away and man may die, like the drug fiend deprived of his cocaine” (Woolf, 1984).
            So what can the modern woman do?  How can she use the technology, resources and global community to her advances?  Part of the answer comes from Virginia Woolf when she casually dismisses the vote that women were granted in favor of the stipend she would be receiving from the passing of her Aunt (1985).    The reason Woolf valued the money over the vote was because:
No force in the world can take from me my five hundred pounds.  Food, house and clothing are mine forever.   Therefore not merely do effort and labour cease, but also hatred and bitterness.  I need not hate any man; he cannot hurt me.  I need not flatter any man; he has nothing to give me.  So imperceptibly I found myself adopting a new attitude toward the other half of the human race.  It was absurd to blame any class or any sex, as a whole.  Great bodies of people are never responsible for what they do.  They are driven by instincts which are not within their control.(1985-86) 
Or, as Fraser said referring to the modern Taliban and how they are stripping this kind of freedom from women, “As the Taliban so clearly understand, the prerequisites for development and implementation of women’s human rights are education; the means and ability to make a living beyond childbearing, homemaking, and caring for families; freedom of movement; and a measure of respect as individual human beings, not prisoners of their sex” (17).  The difference being that women are more than half of the voting population in America and through that vote they can work towards denying the back slide of their rights.
            Even the solution to our modern political attempts at patriarchial oppression were predicted by Woolf 100 years ago when she said:
The indifference of the world which Keats and Flaubert and other men of genius have found so hard to bear was in her case not indifference but hostility.  The world did not say to her as it said to them, Write if you choose; it makes no difference to me.  The world said with a guffaw, Write?  What’s the good of your writing?....Now what food do we feed women as artists upon?  I asked, remembering, I suppose, that dinner of prunes and custard….“There was an enormous body of masculine opinion to the effect that nothing could be expected of women intellectually.  Even if her father did not read out loud these opinions, any girl could read them for herself; and the reading, even in the nineteenth century, must have lowered her vitality, and told profoundly upon her work.  There would always have been that assertion—you cannot do this, you are incapable of doing that—to protest against, to overcome.(1994-95)
Which can be interpreted to mean that despite this outright hostility and negativity aimed at women, if we are to attain political, social, and economic freedom and privacy, we must unite, protest, and overcome by use of our vote.
            In conclusion, in response to the bevy of legislature aimed at stripping women of the rights they have worked to achieve over the last 100 years, from voting and attaining higher education to continuing to strive for equal pay and reproductive rights, Virginia Woolf’s, A Room of One’s Own, is still relevant.   Through her musing, not only does she predicts the women’s rights movements that will be aimed at putting women on equal footing with men, that women will work all the same jobs and positions as men, the patriarchal backlash that such change engenders and are in full swing now, but she also predicts the solution.  That solution can be found in expressing the feminine voice against these tyrannical infringements, joining together, and using the right to vote in order to stop these political injustices.

Works Cited
Beety, Valena Elizabeth. “Mississippi Initiative 26: Personhood and the Criminalization of
            Intentional and Unintentional Acts by Pregnant Women”, pg 55-60.
Congress, 112th, 1st Session, H. R. 3. Sect. 301, Sect. 310. May 9, 2011
Federal Reserve System, Board of Governors, Regulation Z (Truth in Lending),
            March 18, 2011. Press Release.
Fraser, Arvonne S.  “Becoming Human:  The Origins and Development of Women’s Human Rights”,  
Women, Gender, and Human Rights, A Global Perspective.  Marjorie Agosin. New Brunswick: 
Rutgers State University, 2001. Pg. 15-64. Print.
Georgia House Bill 14, Section 2, Amendment 16-6-1. 2012
Neuberger, Zoe, “Will WIC Turn Away Eligible Low-Income Women and Children Next Year?”,
            Center on Budge and Policy Priorities, September 19, 2011, pg. 1- 4.
Office of Family Planning, US Department of Health and Human Services, Title X Family
            Planning. 2012
South Dakota House Judiciary No. HB 1171, An Act to expand the definition of justifiable
            homicide to provide for the protection of certain unborn children. February 9, 2011.
US Supreme Court, Wal-mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes et al. No. 10-277, June 20, 2011.
Wisconsin Senate Bill 507, Amendment 48.982 (2) (g) 2., 48. 982 (2) (gm) (FE), 2011.
Woolf, Virginia, “A Room of One’s Own”, Feminism:  The Essential Historical Writings
            Miriam Schneir.  New York: Random House, 1972. Pg. 344-356.  Print.
Woolf, Virginia, “A Room of One’s Own”, The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Second
            Ed. Volume F: The Twentieth Century.  Sarah Lawall.  Norton & Company: New York,
            2002. Pg. 1978-1995.  Print.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Why Does Faith Need a Religion?

This post is inspired by I AM FORBIDDEN by Anouk Markovits. Though not sisters by blood but through their Hasidic faith, Mila and Atara views the rules and structure of their culture differently. Mila seeks comfort in the Torah while Atara searches for answers in secular literature she is forbidden to read. Ultimately each must make an irrevocable decision that will change their lives forever. Join From Left to Write on May 8 as we discuss I AM FORBIDDEN. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

This was an interesting read for me for a culture and religion so very different from my own.  Over the weeks since I read this, I've found myself thinking about it a lot.

I don't talk about it often, but if pressed, will admit that I am not Christian.  From my view point, you have to believe that Jesus is your savior in order to be a Christian.  I don't, ergo, I'm not a Christian.  BUT, I believe that Jesus was an exceptional man who is no more (nor less) the son of god than is any other person.

One of the biggest reasons that I don't talk about it is we're thump in the middle of the Bible belt in southern Alabama.  

When we first moved down here, my Grandmother in law asked me the first day, "What religion did you say you were?"

I responded, "I didn't.  My parents are Methodist."

She accepted it as though I'd actually answered her question, and shared that she's Baptist.

Quite frankly, this part of Alabama is largely Baptist country.  Spring means people knocking on the door every week to invite us to their church.  I always thank them for their offer, accept their flyer and close the door.  (Just because I don't intend to go doesn't mean I have to be rude to them.)

I've had more theological discussions with my little boys than you would expect from a fairly secular home.  We've discussed the birth, teachings and death of Jesus.  While discussing Genesis, we've also covered other creation myths from around the world.  We've also had several discussions about reincarnation and the afterlife.

But we're still in southern Alabama in a largely Baptist area.

It started when each of them were four.  And the only available preschool was Baptist (now before I get into this much further, my boys received excellent teaching while there that prepared them for school).

On separate occasions, my children have each come home over the years upset that a classmate has told them they would burn in hell for not going to church on Sunday.  For not going to -their- (meaning the classmate's) church on Sunday.

Children can be cruel... but they heard it somewhere.

I explained to my boys that for me, god doesn't need us to go to a church to believe.  And that we can read the bible, the torah and any other religious texts that we're interested in for ourselves-- that we don't need a religious leader to tell us what they mean.  I also explained that we don't believe in hell, there is no devil that makes us do anything, and that we are responsible for our own actions here on earth.

I contend that one can be very spiritual, without being religious at all.

I've always thought that most religions have at least part of it right-- after all, there are a lot of overlaps.  I used to describe my view of world religion like you'd expect an artist to:

That 'god' is a half filled wine glass on a clear thin pedestal in the middle of the room, with all the religions being artists around it.  Some may choose to sit on the floor, others to stand on ladders.  Perhaps some are even viewing it through the window outside.  Some may work in chalk, charcoal, pencil, pen, paint, oil, or sculpture-- the fact is they're all using different media.  And even though they're looking at the same thing-- they're not going to produce identical results because of their perspective.

It boils down to this: I believe there is more than this mortal life and in something greater than myself.

Sometimes, it's merely the wonder of nature: a clear sky full of beautiful stars or the comforting rustle of the wind through the trees.  Sometimes, it's peace and hope in times of worry, or a friendly ear or shoulder when one is needed most. Sometimes, it's watching my children enraptured in the moments--the children's magic that explains dust motes and rollie-pollies and a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  

And for all of this, I offer up thanks into the universe.  

The symbols of fourteen religions are shown. Clockwise from the North Pole, they are:
Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Wicca and several other Neopagan religions, Zoroastrianism, and Druidism.