I’D LIKE TO THINK

If I could choose an outcome for us after we are no more; it would be that we would leave behind our dusty bodies and sharp bones to add our essence to the fuel that lights up the stars.

I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around the idea of an ever-after. Though I have kidded with my mother that her mother and father are above us playing double-deck pinochle and having the time of their lives, well, what they would be having would, in fact, not be the time of their lives, for the time of their lives is over.

I mean, just, what, exactly, would be the point of this time here, and now, if we were going to get to go to another place and do the same thing again, but this time just all our favorite bits?

Is all we do on earth simply preparation for a greatest hits album?

If so, I find it unappealing.

I miss my brother.

I do think Bill would have a pretty good time in the great beyond playing pinochle with Grandmom and Pop, and cracking jokes to make my father laugh. Bill was always one for his favorite reruns, and I think he often wondered why we couldn’t take a new year and replay the same exact holidays in it the same ways as the year before, or make them just like the ones he liked best from childhood

Trying to repeat your favorite moments is like herding cats. People will not hold still and stay the way they had always been.

My brother was 9 years older than me and 17 years older than my sister. I know there are people and events he knew that I never knew, and still more that he and I knew, but not my sister. So much flux, and unending forward movement.

In any case, maybe I’m too smart for my own britches, but it seems, on the one hand, unlikely to me, and on the other, undesirable. Though I would love to see them all again, and especially my Bill, I do not think I would enjoy playing out our same lives, over and over minus the bad times, for all eternity. I’d get bored to, well, death.

For my dad and my brother I feel like I wish so much that I could have somehow convinced them to take better care of themselves.

In any case… here I am, woefully behind on my blog because I am back to teaching, albeit online, which is not any easier at all, and because we are into the homeschool experiment big-time. But that’s for another blog.

I have some wonderful plants around my house that my BF Kris gave me when Bill died, and my BF Dot gave me this star today in memory of Bill.I know that those who left before me are certainly part of the essence that I see in the stars. Do we really want a mapped-out life re-do?

When you leave us, when I leave us, may we all number among the stars, bringing light to even the most dark of nights.

And may I always miss my brother.

RBG

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — here in her chambers during a 2019 interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg — died on Friday at the age of 87.
Shuran Huang/NPR

I don’t really think of myself as a person with heroes, but, I guess I have a few, and RBG would be one of them.

If you click on the photo above, you’ll end up over at National Public Radio (NPR) which is the only place you should end up, IMHO (in my humble opinion) simply because reporter Nina Totenberg has been so complete and so kind in her coverage of all the justices as long as I can remember. No other news source has covered the SCOTUS more thoroughly, and more fairly than Nina and NPR. (And this is me, doing exactly like I tell my students not to do, talking about Nina, as if we were buds. And it is exactly something Nina never does.)

There are so many outsized and amazing things about RBG. She survived in a women-hating world (law) at a very young age. She argued 6 times before an all-male SCOTUS herself. She was married for 50 or so years to the genuine love of her life. She went to work, and back to work, over and over, from her 20s to her 80, during real challenges in her husband’s health, her own health, and other family issues, when lesser people would have given in. One thing that everyone is remarking on, she was friends with Justice Scalia, a name I can barely type without anger rising in my gullet. This is something few in politics can even imagine today, being friends with their ideological opposite. She was beyond extraordinary.

Well, if you’re going to pick a hero for yourself, Pearce, might as well pick a super-hero.

Women in the USA owe her so much, and many don’t even realize it.

“Ginsburg is the rare supreme court justice whose most significant work was done before she joined the court. She changed the course of American law not as a supreme court justice, but as a lawyer, the founder and general counsel of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. Ginsburg began the project in 1972, the same year she joined the faculty of Columbia Law as a professor; by 1974, the project had participated in nearly 300 gender discrimination cases nationwide. Ginsburg personally argued six gender discrimination cases before the then all-male supreme court, winning five. She built on her victories one by one, establishing precedents that made future victories easier to win.

First was Reed v Reed (1971), a monumental victory that struck down an Idaho law favoring men over women in estate battles. That case extended the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to women, barring laws that discriminated by sex. Ginsburg followed this case with victories in Frontiero v Richardson (1973), barring gender discrimination in compensation of military members, and Weinberger v Wiesenfeld (1975), striking down gender discrimination in state benefits. Her tactics were savvy; she framed gender discrimination in ways that made the practice seem unreasonable even to hardened misogynists. In Craig v Boren, she successfully convinced the court that state laws that distinguished on the basis of sex needed to be subjected to at least what was called “intermediate” scrutiny; she won the decision not by arguing for women to have equal freedom to men, but equal obligations. In Weinberger, she managed to get a discriminatory practice deemed illegal largely by virtue of finding a rare case in which the victim of sex discrimination was a man.

These victories, coming down between the years 1971 and 1976, forced laws to change nationwide. It is impossible to overstate their impact. One moment, much of family, tax, and financial law was made of statutes that codified men as breadwinners and beneficiaries, women as dependents. Within just five years, all these laws were declared unconstitutional. At the time the supreme court first ruled in Ginsburg’s favor, in Reed v Reed in 1971, many banks still would not issue women credit cards. By the end of it, her work had helped to usher in a feminist revolution that has changed the face of American families and expanded the possibilities for American women’s lives.” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/18/ruth-bader-ginsburg-death-legacy-supreme-court)

And, I have to tell you, it is this lack of understanding of what women haven’t had that has often caused me to be frustrated with or disheartened by the young women I teach. I was an adjunct at the University of Delaware I cannot easily count how many young women told me that men, like Bernie (big Bernie fans there among the ladies) would be better presidents than women because men are just better at it. And, when I was teaching at Santa Ana College, a large number of the young women I taught there would say how men should make more money than their wives, and the women should take their husbands’ lasts names, because when women make more money or keep their last names, men feel badly, and they feel not manly, and women have to help with that.

I remember when I was a college student myself, and living in a neighborhood at University of Penn (though not attending… too expensive for my family to even consider), in an apartment surrounded apartments occupied by white male students, how harassed I was for my Mondale/Ferraro poster. I faced a verbal confrontation almost daily, and had my apartment windows broken, because the guys at Penn were losing their minds over the mere possibility that a woman might become VEEP.

Of course, Mondale and Ferraro were running against Reagan/Bush. And those were dark times for women. Nancy Reagan certainly popularized a shut-up and stand-by-your man ethos. Women, at least many white women, believed her. The movement lost momentum, and women who had once marched must not have told their daughters in any meaningful way about what they hadn’t had before. Of course, that is an assumption, but, I have been teaching incoming freshman at colleges and universities since 1991, in urban and suburban and rural settings, and women do not seem to see a problem with their situations when it comes to gender equality, and that is a huge loss.

And that is why we need a SCOTUS that looks to the future, that sees the needs for society that society cannot see for itself, and which was a major problem with RGB’s friend, Scalia. He felt The Constitution was a dead document. And it is, in so much as it was written to be complete to the best of the imaginations of the men who wrote it at the time. However, the fact that they immediately attached a Bill of Rights to it shows them setting a precedent for revision.

RGB was able to see that women needed their own rights cemented into law, so that they would never be in question again.

I am very afraid of being emotionally wounded in the coming weeks and months, as people attack RGB from both the left and the right. From the left they will say she should have stepped down when Obama was in office, as if her career was not her own, as if she still had not earned the right, as a women, to fully own her own career. And from the right they will say any horrible thing they can think of to smear a woman who earned every single accomplishment in her life with blood sweat and tears, unlike our despicable POTUS who has only ever broken a sweat after eating fast food, or while paying for sex.

RGB was a very very successful woman. She was a very very intelligent and educated woman. She was a beloved friend, mother, wife, grandmother. She was a beloved Justice. She was a champion of the underserved and under-heard.

She was my hero.

And I feel the world has lost a bit of its magic now that she is gone.

PUBLICATIONS!

This month I have two poems published in Next Page Ink. I am just thrilled, and so appreciate being published by this wonderful online literary magazine. My poems are “Good Dog,” and “Jackie Don’t You Go.” Sadly, they are both sad poems, so don’t you read them! The first one describes, quite accurately, what life can sometimes be like in the more rural areas of Sussex County for gentle things. I am not a farmer, and I do not live a farmer’s life, but from the outside looking in, rural life is not a place for gentle things. The second one recalls my friend’s suicide, and how I have wished and schemed, all these years, maybe 30 or so, for a way to stop it from happening. But, we can never stop the past, it goes on in perpetuity. And that is a good line. Perhaps I will stick that in another poem.

I would love it if you would take a moment to read my poems, and I would love to hear what you think as well. Drop me a comment below. Thanks!

 

 

 

LOVE AND PANTYHOSE

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I looked to the left of my desk last night, and that is what I saw, on a bookcase I inherited from Sophie that she painted Pepto Bismal pink with her dad and then later abandoned when she decided her favorite color was Elsa-blue.

Let’s discuss that pink for a hot minute.

One of the earlier jobs I had in my life was working for a place called Delta Hosiery.

Delta Hosiery occupied a space about the size of a shoebox in a strip mall in Springfield, PA (one of the most Springfieldy Springfields of all), and I was the sole employee. It sold discount pantyhose, a small selection of socks, a small selection of dance wear, and nothing else. My most recurrent customers were “professional” dancers (read as strippers), who had way better bods than me. And, the entire inside of the store, walls, and ceiling, cheap industrial carpet, was Pepto Bismal pink.

I spent many a long day and night there, making the minimum wage don’tcha-know people, alone with book after book to read, or watching Unsolved Mysteries on the tiny black and white portable TV Delta had supplied me with to help with the crushing boredom. This choice of TV shows would often make me afraid to leave the lonely store at night, in the dark. “It was right here where she left her job at the lonely hosiery outlet to walk to her car, and was never seen again. Maybe you can help solve a mystery!”

I was allowed to put up a “be back soon” sign on the door for 15 minutes to run and get food at one of the attached eateries in the strip mall, or to pee in the tiny toilet in the back in a room so small the sink was outside the room. And it never failed, the minute I headed over to Salad Alley, as I was walking up the hill toward it, I would hear the bell on the door rattling as some woman tried in vain to get in, shaking the door like mad to try to get it to open. As I’d already gotten half-way to the salad, I would keep going, and when I came back I’d have either lost a sale, or the woman would be waiting, visibly steaming, outraged that she had to wait to get her taupe thigh highs or her smoke control tops. And I always wondered at the popularity of those colors. In the most Springfieldy of Springfields there were no people of color to speak of, so my clients were universally white, and, aside from the strippers, women who topped the incredibly old age of 50, and they just loved their smoke and taupe and coffee hosiery. By that point in my life I was evolved enough as an adult to have declared pantyhose of any kind off the table for me forever. (I am too old (21) to be uncomfortable while going to church I don’t even believe in!) But, that being said, everyone knows that black pantyhose are the only choice a person of style should make. TAUPE? Before I worked at Delta Hosiery I had never even heard the word taupe (pronounced tope, like dope, I was told by the district manager), and my vocabulary was not small. Taupe, you elude me still; I cannot understand why someone would choose such a muddy, non-specific color to cover their white legs with. I also could not understand how anyone, even the strippers, could comfortably wear pantyhose without underwear, which was a thing that happened right about that time. Do not worry World! I am not likely to go commando anytime soon. I like underwear! TMI? Actually, I think Delta may have sold underwear too. In fact, I remember some women called them panties, but, trust me, they were definitely underwear. I know the difference.

One thing I can say in favor of pantyhose though: they are very silky and beguiling to the touch.I remember feeling that I could not resist touching them as I walked through the store each day after opening up. I totally get why perverts like them! Are there perverts anymore? Is that word a thing still? Wait, am I a pantyhose-fondling pervert myself? If I try to run for office now, someone will find this and say I once confessed to being a pervert.

My favorite story about working at Delta Hosiery? The Saturday I was restocking the metal prongs that stuck out from the wall and held the limited selection of socks. When an empty prong is sticking out from a wall it is so thin it is easy not to see it, which is what happened to me when I bent down, and hit myself in the brain (forehead) with a prong I didn’t see. The next thing I know, two women were standing over me and trying to wake me up. Had it not been a Saturday, who knows how long I would have been on the floor in the rarely visited store, unless my most reliable stripper would have come in for a refill on her bare-to-waist control-tops.

The last thing I remember about Delta Hosiery is how the pink would get to me. I’ve never been a fan of pink in general. I was never one of those blonds who went through a pastel/earthtones phase. Blech. And, sometimes, the vibrating Pepto Bismal pink, from the ceiling, from the walls, from the rug in the tiny rectangle of a store, was just too much to take, like a visual tinnitus. And so sometimes, when I left at night, I was unsteady on my feet, like I was coming off an amusement ride.

I looked, but I can find no record of Delta Hosiery’s existence on the internet. I guess they were pre-internet. However, doubting Thomas, here’s proof of their existence, found, like much of history, on eBay.

delta

Ahhh, Fern, what are you doing now?

Delta Hosiery was, like many of the jobs I have had, not hard, but not even remotely interesting. That store could even take the fire out of strippers I tells ya….

Now, for the love part. And in case you ever doubted my ability to go off on a tangent, you now know I can.

And so, as you may know, I have rearranged the office many times. And somehow, in my possession, are two framed photos that are the exact same photo: my Chad, my darling Chad.

How I miss his dear little face. My mother says he had a bark that would go through her skull, or some such thing. I don’t remember him making a sound. But I do remember how I loved him, and he loved me, and I loved him enough to put several photos of him in my office, and, apparently, two closest to my line of sight when I sit at my desk. Normally, when I look over at his photo, I don’t even notice there are two, and I certainly almost never notice the Pepto Bismal pink bookcase beneath them.

Love.

We see what we want to see.

And what we want to see our starving eyes can never get enough of.

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HOMEMADE YOGURT

yogurt

I really have a fondness for plain yogurt (didn’t I say, last month, that I was a dork?). I really dislike the sweetened kind with fruit in it. Blech! It always has an aftertaste IMHO. But the plain I quite like, and, of the plain, I prefer homemade, because the texture is better, and the “tang” is lighter, slightly less sharp.

This was made with one 1/2 gallon of lactose free whole milk, and two little containers (5 ounce) of Chobani plain (only plain Greek style I can get in my neck of the woods, and not my favorite… so, another reason to make it). My finished product came out both silkier and tastier than the Chobani. How did I make it? Cooked the milk in this pot on medium-low until it was just about ready to do that woosh-boil-over thing, and then turned it off. Let it sit on the stove until it dropped down to 115 degrees (yes, I own one of those thermometers you can stick in hot liquids), then stirred in the sacrificial Chobani “starter” and covered the top with foil. Put the pot into the oven (which was not hot) wrapped in a dishtowel, and put the oven light on. Left it in there from about 2pm to about 9 am the next day. Spooned it into jars and put it in the fridge. Delish!

I typically put plain yogurt on things that are too spicy for me on their own, like Indian food. But what I also want to do is just eat the yogurt, because it is sooo good for me, and I like the taste. But a big bowl of plain yogurt has the difficulty of not feeling like a meal.

This morning I stirred in fresh ground salt and pepper, and then some leftover rice that was in the rice cooker still hot. It worked. Delish!

How do you eat plain yogurt that does not involve fruit or sugar? Think savory, and give me some ideas please.

🙂

SUNFLOWER

flower 1

There is a little chain of stores that exists in southeastern PA, and Delaware (and maybe S. Jersey?) called Produce Junction (PJ). I have been shopping at PJ since the late 1980s I think. The way it works is that they have large, already packed, bags of produce, and they are very inexpensive. The produce is usually fresh and delicious. PJs have some oddities to them, like you have to pay for fruit separately from veggies, nuts are considered fruits, and eggs and fresh baked bread are considered veggies. It’s funny to be there, and they have a more international selection of veggies, and often you’ll see restaurant owners buying huge crates of produce.

Around every holiday they sell decorations… Xmas lights, plastic Easter eggs, and everything is cheap, and inexpensive. For me, that = fun, and funny.

The other thing they typically have is plants (indoor and outdoor) and flowers. This is where the real magic happens. Imagine getting a huge potted orchid for $4! And entire bouquets of flowers for $4 as well.

flower 2

One of the things I enjoy most in life is having cut flowers in a vase, and PJ makes that affordable. This sunflower came from a $4 bouquet of 6 giant flowers. The other 5 are in the kitchen. This flower lasted (from bought to no petals left) two weeks.

Through all the stages of this flower’s changes at no point did I find it to be anything but lovely to look at.

flower 3

The pandemic is very stressful and worrying, but flowers lighten my load for a little bit of money. I know a lot of people think buying cut flowers is throwing away money. For me, flowers are my version of a lottery ticket, and, unlike a lottery ticket, one bouquet lasts at least two weeks (no need to buy a new one every day) and they always pay off.

flower 4

ANNOUNCING GRAVELIGHT PRESS and JEFFREY KEETEN

FACEBOOK header

Dave an I are more than pleased to announce that Devil’s Party Press is (sort-of) officially OFF hiatus.

And the first thing we are doing as we return to publishing is announcing our first new imprint, Gravelight Press, all scary, all the time.

To launch the press with a bang, we’re putting out a super secret anthology we didn’t even tell our friends about, and, to herald this marvelous anthology, we have a special guest to introduce to you. So read on:

Exhumed-Front-Cover-08.07.20

Renowned Kansas Book Critic Jeffrey D. Keeten Provides Introduction to Delaware Horror Publisher’s New Release

 

We are thrilled to announce that Jeffrey D. Keeten will be providing the introduction to our first release, Exhumed: Thirteen Tales Too Terrifying to Stay Dead. A prolific critic of film and literature, Keeten is among the top five reviewers on Goodreads, the largest site for book reviews in the world. A graduate of the University of Arizona and current resident of Dodge City, Kansas, he has published more than 3,700 reviews for Goodreads and other sites.

 

As with DPP, at Gravelight we focus on our mission to provide older authors with publishing opportunities, and we are thrilled to have Jeffrey Keeten who, in addition to being a skilled critic, is also a terrific writer, along for Gravelight’s current book release.

 

JK
Mr. Keeten and Astra

“It’s exciting to be a part of this collection,” said Keeten. “There are some truly frightening works between its covers.”

 

Exhumed (ISBN: 978-1-7340918-1-6) retails for $9.99 and features original short fiction by thirteen authors from the US and Canada. It is scheduled to be released on Friday, August 14. For more information and to preorder, visit gravelightpress.com. For more information about Jeffrey D. Keeten, visit jeffreykeeten.com.

 

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Media Contact

David Yurkovich
david@gravelightpress.com

310.904.3660

THE THIRD AND FINAL GIFT WE GOT FROM THE JEFFERSON SCHOOL

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(Sophie and her bells & Mouse)

The third and final gift we got from The Jefferson School (TJS) is the music teacher from the charter school we did not get admitted to.

I am not gonna mention the teacher by name; I don’t want to get anyone into trouble, but I cannot ignore what a great gift this teacher has been to our lives.

During the school year the teacher started teaching Sophie the xylophone, also known as mallets or bells. When we went on quarantine, the teacher skipped right over into Zoom like a life-long Zoom user. It was seamless.

We still thought (remember the lied to part from post # 1 on this topic) that Sophie was getting into the charter school, so we asked the teacher, now on Zoom, to also give Sophie piano lessons, as our local piano teacher quit about a year ago. The answer was yes.

When I tearfully told the teacher that Sophie had not gotten into the charter school, the teacher was also tearful, and agreed to keep teaching her… forever.

She has two lessons a week with this sweet and talented teacher and she has flourished. Her playing is wonderful. We cannot thank this teacher enough!

And so,

when everyone is screaming that they want their kids back in school no matter what,

and when people make arbitrary decisions about who gets into which school and who doesn’t,

it is a failure to treat the students or their teachers as human beings, with feelings and attachments and needs of their own.

I hope that, if the charter school goes back to business live and in person, Sophie’s teacher will be safe. I hope this teacher means as much to that school as our teacher certainly does to us.

 

MOUSE

mouse

This is Mouse.

As you can see quite easily he is debonair, civically-minded, and a sucker for cookies.

Mouse has been in our house about 11 years now, and his personality has evolved as he’s grown up. Once syrupy sweet (and a bit boring, if I’m honest, dear Mouse, with a voice to match) he has grown-up a bit and in the nicest way. His voice is still a high-pitched, for he is a very tiny fellow, but it has a certain mellowness to it that is so nice. And, being more grown-up, he doesn’t pull any punches with us anymore. If, say, we forget to include him in the cookie dispersal, or he is left behind on the sofa instead of snuggled into bed, he will often say to us, “You bastards! I’ll cut you!” I know it sounds a bit violent, but it’s just Mouse. We know he’s just kidding. And given his petite stature, we can understand that he may wish to make himself as difficult as possible to ignore. I mean, no one wants to miss out on peanut butter cookies, or snuggling under the covers. Mouse demands not to be ignored, and in a world were the little things are often bulldozed over, we are so glad that Mouse makes us pay attention.

THE SECOND OF THREE GIFTS WE GOT FROM THE JEFFERSON SCHOOL

IMG_1460The second gift we got from The Jefferson School (TJS) would be Atty, the class pet.

Soon after our daughter transitioned from the 5th grade class to the 4th grade class at TJS, I went in for parent-teacher conferences, which was my first time in the 4th grade classroom.

There, in the corner on the floor, was a fetching young lady named Atticus Finch, or Atty, for short.

Atty is a most beautiful and possibly 2-3 year old guinea pig, the (former) class pet.

For me, it was love at first site.

I immediately offered to take her with us over Christmas break, and etc., and the teacher was happy to have us do it, as her dog did not tolerate Atty coming home with her.

So, Atty stayed with us over Christmas, making our Christmas so much sweeter, and I could hardly bear to return her when school began again.

And then…

Coronavirus.

The school asked us if we could keep her during the shut down. Of course, we could.

But what began as, I expected, a few weeks, turned into the entire second half of school. We felt, as a family, that Atty was now a part of our family, and we hoped we would not have to return her.

Finally, a few days before TJS closed. the school told us the happy news that we could keep her.

Our family joke is that I say we have three GPs, and I call them by these names:

Pigness (Atty)

Baby Pigness (Sugar)

and Favorite Pigness (Sophie).

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During our time with Atty, Sophie and I have done a lot of research on Guinea pigs. We learned that they are NOT from Guinea. They are from Peru where they live their lives as pets, food, and shamanic healers. They are important and revered, just like Atty (though we will never eat Atty, I do feel that she has provided me with some shamanic healing).

We learned they need vitamin C in everything, so they don’t get scurvy. Though they might like to play pirate, they do not want to be one and die from scurvy! (Or walk the plank!)

We also learned from Sophie, the mole on the inside, that, while in the classroom, Atty was often forced to ride in Lego cars, and the like, by the boys, and generally handled roughly. That she had been donated by a school family who thought better of owning her, and that she was, of course, given away a second time, to us.

There should not be any such thing as class pets, IMHO.

Animals have feelings and fears and loves, and to subject them to long weekends (or even closed weeks, or days with no heat during snow events) is cruel. To buy and commit to an animal and then throw it away, is cruel. To keep an animal as school pet but not take care of its dietary needs, or to allow children to be rough and self-serving with it, is cruel.

Since Atty has come to us one other thing we have learned is that Guinea pigs are very social pack animals, and so we rescued another one, this time from the pet store as our local shelter had none, and Atty is no longer lonely. She shares her home with Sugar. Sugar came to us with a severely infected eye, and it took quite some time, and quarantining from Atty, to get her healthy. And they both now get vitamin C supplements in their treats and water. And there is always hay, so Atty never has to worry about a long weekend with not enough hay and deadly GI stasis. And she never has to worry that she will be alone or cold or hungry or given away ever again.

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Atty and Sugar are victims of the pet trade, and we cannot stop the pet trade, but we can insure that two little ladies are living their best lives from now on.