Tag Archives: women’s issues

fire

Last week I burned a brush pile in the back yard. Actually I burned a brush pile on the overgrown section of this year’s experiment in gardening. Ever since the contractors finished with the windows, siding, etc. I’ve been cutting 20-year-old boxwoods, azaleas, and other shrubs down to their gnarly stumps and piling the cuttings on the garden spot to dry out. So, last Wednesday became burning day.

I don’t like to burn stuff by myself, as a rule. Not that I’m afraid the fire will get out of control or anything. It’s psychological; I assumed I needed a man around just in case something didn’t go as planned. But, the pile needed burning, and I was in the mood to burn something. I dragged the water hose out to the garden, took a camp chair, water bottle, matches and firestarters and headed out back. The brush was so dry it didn’t take any time at all to get a nice fire going, flames about 10 feet high. I settled into the camp chair, sipped on my water, and watched it burn.

Fire is mesmerizing, isn’t it? I love to watch a fire buring in the fireplace, a campfire, a brush fire. As I watched this fire my mind started wandering to other places and other fires, and other women.

I became my mother, burning old files and papers in a 55-gallon drum in her back yard after my dad died.

Then I was my grandmother, burning trash in a sink hole on a farm or burning wood to heat water to scald the hair off a hog before my grandfather butchered it.

My great-grandmother, cooking meals in a wood stove before she got her first electric one, and heating their house with a coal furnace.

All of the women before her, who depended on fire for their heat and food and hot water for bathing, cleaning, making soap.

CG, who still does most of these tasks today.

The women of Cielo, burning small fires in the paths in front of their houses to heat water so they can boil rice to feed their families.

“Keep the home fires burning.” A WWI song, sentimentally describing the women’s responsibility to lead the household when their husbands and sweethearts were off to war. Almost 100 years later, the words remind me that some things don’t change.

They were summoned from the hillside
They were called in from the glen,
And the country found them ready
At the stirring call for men.
Let no tears add to their hardships
As the soldiers pass along,
And although your heart is breaking
Make it sing this cheery song:

Keep the Home Fires Burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
‘Til the boys come home.

Overseas there came a pleading,
“Help a nation in distress.”
And we gave our glorious laddies
Honour bade us do no less,
For no gallant son of freedom
To a tyrant’s yoke should bend,
And a noble heart must answer
To the sacred call of “Friend.”

Keep the Home Fires Burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
‘Til the boys come home.

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a woman’s work

I sit in front of my computer and shake my head.

I have a fourteen-year-old daughter. She was born 8 weeks premature, spending 10 days in the hospital before coming home. I was able to take extra time off from work back then because I was working in a professional environment and was a corporate officer, and the one good benefit officers at my lowly level received was extra sick time. But, after 3 months, I went back to work and she went to daycare, because we were a dual-income-two-kid home. Through the years I was able to work flexible schedules and telecommute so I could spend more time with both of my children.

Being a child of the seventies, I grew up with the advertising mantras of the women’s liberation movement: Virginia Slims “You’ve come a long way, baby!”, Enjoli Perfume “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, etc. etc.”. At work, I had post-it notes that said “A woman’s place is in the home, and she should go there immediately after work.” One of my male co-workers gave me a sign for my cubicle that said “A woman has to work twice as hard as a man to get ahead. Fortunately that isn’t difficult.” Every boss I had, male or female, knew if something had to be done now to give it to me. There were hundreds of women just like me. I was blessed in that my husband helps A LOT. I think about the single moms I worked with. I think about the moms of teenage girls who got pregnant in high school, and the excruciating decisions they went through. These women truly were the backbone of the companies I worked for.

Now, let’s shift gears, shall we? Zoe 101 is a television show for teens that airs on Nickelodeon, which is owned by Viacom, which also owns MTV. It’s star was (I don’t think she’s still on it, but she might be, which just makes this worse) Jamie Lynn Spears. That’s Britney Spears little sister. We know what a super good role model Britney is for our teenage daughters. She was also an excellent role model for her little sister Jamie Lynn, who got pregnant at 16. The media loved Jamie Lynn. There were articles about her shopping for baby clothes, how she was decorating the nursery, what celebrities were sending what spiffy, expensive gifts. It was such a lovefest. Nick did issue a statement at one point asking the media to “respect Miss Spears’ privacy.”

The events of the past eight days leave me nauseated, angry and energized. I’ve witnessed an outright attempt to destroy the life of a 17-year-old girl who is trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation. The mainstream media is out to destroy her. The radical left wing activists are out to destroy her. Yes, Barak Obama issued a statement saying that attacks on Governor Palin’s family are off limits. However, it seems to me that one word from his mouth to his campaign staff or to his dedicated followers admonishing their behavior and compelling them to get out of the sewer and act like human beings could put a stop to it. I actually read this week that there are those who believe that if Obama’s political agenda can be brought to fruition at the cost of one teenage girl’s life, it will be worth that price. What is a human life worth to these people?

The question, though, is: why is everyone out to destroy Bristol Palin? Seems to me that the answer could be that they are actually out to destroy her mother, Governor Sarah Palin, a strong woman. She knows what she believes and stands by her convictions. If you disagree with her on policy, that is your right as a citizen of America. But nothing in our constitution gives anyone the right to destroy her character, or that of her daughter.  She represents exactly what women like me have grown up believing we could do. When did the tables get turned on us?

I sit at my computer and shake my head.

And my fist.

I have work to do.