The nightly phone call from my father, who was at work, to my mother always ended the same. “Yes”, my mother would say, “I did my sit-ups, I love you too.”.
In my mind my mother always sounded exasperated by nightly question, but maybe that’s just how I felt about it. Even thought I had contempt for my father checking up on my mother, the idea of a woman looking a certain way for her husband stuck.
That’s why I chose the “Watch your weight” advice from the How To Keep Your Husband hankie for my quilt, because it goes deep with me and I know it does with a lot of other women too.
It’s also one of the reasons I love Lizzo’s song Soulmate, where she says:
Lizzo, who is 31 years old, is obviously familiar with the 1950’s dynamic represented in the “How To Keep Your Husband” hankie. And she speaks to it with words and an attitude that makes me want to sing and dance along with her.
It’s 10:30 and I just finished sewing another piece for my new quilt. I decided to use the “Watch your weight” rectangle from the How to Keep Your Husband hankie and a quote from Lizzo’s song Soulmate.
But I’m too tired to write about it now, so I’ll wait till the morning. As you can probably see from the photo, Fate’s ready for bed too.
I took the screen off the window and shooed the fly outside, then quickly put the screen back in before the fly comes back.
I had no idea that the fly doesn’t want to be outside. She didn’t mistakenly fly into the house from outside she, like me, lives in the house.
We’re room mates.
And there are a whole bunch of other insects that we’re sharing our old farmhouse with that feel they have as much a right to be there as we do. Some of them are probably species that haven’t even been named by humans yet.
And they’re not just in our house, they’re in your home too. Not necessarily the same ones, but there are insects living in every house or apartment whether it’s old or new, in the country, suburbs or city.
Honestly, it’s not something I ever though much about, until reading Rob Dunn’s book “Never Home Alone”.
Now I’m thinking small, so small it’s huge, universal really. Because Dunn also gets into microbes and how we share not only our homes with them, but our bodies too.
Knowing this has definitely affected my thinking.
For instance, when Fate and I took a walk in this woods this morning I was thinking of all the good microbes I was getting just from being in the presence of all that nature. Apparently we don’t really know specifically what all the different microbes do, (we tend to only study the harmful ones) but like most things the balance between the good and bad microbes is important to our health.
And all of this small talk got me thinking about my Tiny Flower potholder. I made this potholder using the smallest hand-embroidered flower from a vintage hankie. It’s so small I had to use my macro lens to get a picture of it.
The lens makes it look like a giant flower sewn on blue burlap, but it’s really the most delicate thing, hand-stitched on a whisper of blue cotton.
Dunn’s book brings to light all those wonders right in our own home, the small beings that often get over looked or are misunderstood.
For years I didn’t know how to use the tiny embroideries on the hankies that people sent me.
I wanted to present them in a way that would make us attention to them again. To appreciate the work that one woman did to bring beauty into her life in the form of a tiny flower on the corner of a hankie. And to understand the true size of that seemingly tiny gesture.
My potholders always seem to come to the rescue. Purposeful and pretty, they can enhance our lives visually and be practical at the same time.
I like being able to find a place and give a name to those small and forgotten things in life.
“How about a salad with dinner?” I ask Jon. Then I go out to our vegetable garden and pick a few leaves from the five different kinds of lettuce I have growing there. When I’m done, I’ll walk over to the herb mound and pick some cilantro to top it off.
This is the first time I’ve grown lettuce and I’m loving it.
Sometimes I just go out to the garden and pick a few leaves, munching on them, like a rabbit, for a snack. Some are spicy and some a little bitter, another tastes a mellow green.
My one concern is that the squash and zucchini will over take them as they grow. I’m not sure how I’ll deal with that yet. Maybe I’ll try to direct them to grow on the low chicken wire fence I have surrounding the garden.
Whatever happens it will help me figure out what I do different next year. For now, we’re eating a lot of salad.
I was thinking of making another quilt using the linens I didn’t use in that quilt. Different ideas were swimming though my mind for a while and then an image came to me.
I saw in my mind, one of the small rectangles from the hankie, lost in the grandeur of a vintage hand embroidered linen, surrounded by words countering in the Do’s and Don’ts on the hankie.
I had to start with the one that read “Don’t ever get mad” because it was the one that got me the most angry. And I knew the perfect words to surround it with. They’re from Marge Piercy’s poem, A Just Anger.
So I cut out the small rectangle and sewed it to a linen table runner then stitched the words around it.
Carolyn Heilbrun wrote ” And, above all other prohibitions, what has been forbidden to women is anger…” If we need further proof, we can see it written in this souvenir hankie from the 1950’s. But for me and so many women, we know this all too well from our own experience.
The last few lines in Piercy’s poem are:
“A good anger swallowed clots the blood to slime.”
We know this too, how suppressed anger can lead to depression.
I’ll be cutting out more of the Do’s and Don’ts from this hankie and overpowering them with quotes from other women, making them as small as they really are. Then I’ll stitch them into a quilt.
I have a feeling “Watch your weight” will be the next one.
A Just Anger By Marge Piercy
Anger shines through me. Anger shines through me. I am a burning bush. My rage is a cloud of flame. My rage is a cloud of flame in which I walk seeking justice like a precipice. How the streets of the iron city flicker, flicker, and the dirty air fumes. Anger storms between me and things, transfiguring, transfiguring. A good anger acted upon is beautiful as lightning and swift with power. A good anger swallowed, a good anger swallowed clots the blood to slime.
I’m sitting on the front porch, Flo is laying next to me on the wicker bench, there’s a breeze blowing the bamboo shades which are blocking the sun, back and forth and the sound of cars going by on Route 22.
I’m thinking about how I feel about Bellydancing yesterday at the Farmers Market. I want to write about it in a way that conveys the what I’m feeling, because I know it’s important, but I’m still not sure exactly how I do feel about it.
So I sit here asking myself… How do you feel about Bellydancing Maria?
Then I remember how last night I felt like it was “another me” who danced on stage.
It had to be “another me” because the person I’ve been my whole life would never have done what I did yesterday. That person could never even clap to the beat of song, could never move her feet or body the way I did yesterday. She never let anyone see her belly, actually spent her whole life being ashamed of her stomach, which she was told, was never flat enough.
And for as long as I can remember, until I met Jon, I was made to feel, first by my parents then by my ex-husband, ashamed of my own femininity and the power of it.
But right now, I’m not feeling like there’s two versions of me, I feel like the genie has been let out of the bottle. And she’s not going back in.
The words that come to mind are self possessed.
So I looked them up. My dictionary says…calm, confident, and in control of one’s feelings; composed. That’s sounds right.
Bellydancing with Kathleen, Kat, Callie, and Trish yesterday was like walking through a portal. Like stepping into the mirror and realizing that I had been living on the wrong side.
I think, yesterday, I danced myself into my own skin.
I was doing so many things for the first time, dancing in front of an audience, dancing with a group of women I admire, showing my naked belly and wearing makeup. But, not for a moment, was I uncomfortable with who I was and what I was doing.
This doesn’t mean I did everything right. I didn’t. I did plenty of things wrong. But it’s not about right and wrong. It’s about doing and learning. Constantly.
Now I’m thinking of my mistakes with genuine curiosity, not judgment. And that is another completely new experience for me.
I don’t know what it is about Bellydancing that has made this possible.
Maybe it has something to do with the movement releasing certain chemical in the body. Maybe it’s the ancient ritual of the dance. I’m curious to understand it better, but I don’t need to know “why”. I’m already a believer.
I’ll write more about Bellydancing at the Farmers Markets yesterday later. But for now here’s a video that Jon took. Some of you may have seen it already on Jon’s blog.
I was thrilled to dance with Kathleen McBrien, Kat Farnham, Callie Raspuzzi and Trish Gardner. I was a wonderful experience for me and I’m needed some time to fully absorb it all before writing about it.
We were lucky to have a beautiful sunny day, in the low seventies, then, just as we were finishing up the last dance it began to rain.
“Remember,” Kathleen, our teacher said before we began the performance, “Have fun, don’t get hurt and have fun.”