I DON’T GET IT!

I have always been puzzled why the male of our species seemingly feels that they know best for the other half of the species.

Does a man have to change sanitary napkins or use tampons for three days to a week each month? Perhaps to understand the physical part of being a woman, every man should have to put tampons in their body for one week each month for one year. I’m sure after just one year they would have a greater understanding of a woman’s menstrual cycle

How does a man know the sorrow of a woman getting her period when she wants desperately to be pregnant?

What about the woman, who gets pregnant when she doesn’t want to be?

Does the man who got her pregnant throw up every morning for a month or more, or have to carry and bend over an extra twenty pounds in front of him for three or four months?

Is it to men to decide if a woman must have a baby, whether or not she will be able to care for him or her.

Not in my book. I speak from experience. My first pregnancy ended late in the ninth month with a still birth. Two years later I praised God when I gave birth to my son, who was healthy but required to have a blood change in his first five hours of life. A few years later I miscarried. Then once again I carried a baby for nine months. I gave birth to a dead baby. My husband agreed that another pregnancy would do great mental and emotional damage to our family.

We happily adopted our daughter two years later. We were never sorry, only thankful.

 

 

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Resolutions: New or Old

Is it too late to come up with New Year’s Resolutions?

Have two.

One, I will blog more consistently. So I’m already behind here. How about twice a month, rather than once a week? Perhaps I can do this. I will try. Sometimes, probably usually, it’s just that I don’t open a new document and type an  idea that’s been floating around in my brain.

Two, I will get my manuscripts out to agents and editors. I find this more difficult than writing the story to begin with. I don’t mind editing and rewriting. I see my manuscripts and writing improving as I do them. But preparing that query, synopsis, cover letter? Those are very difficult.

TODAY

As I contemplated what I’d do today, I studied the photo of my great grandfather Van Steenberg that hangs in my bedroom. He was born in 1849.  His great great grandfather Van Steenbergen was born in New York in 1704.  How different were their lives than mine. How different my great grandchildren’s lives will be. Each generation has its own tale of modernity.

My great grandfather traveled mainly by horse and buggy, although cars were popular when he died in 1935.  In my lifetime local travel has always been driven vehicles and planes for long distance. Now driverless vehicles are new.

Who knows what local travel will be for my great grandchildren. I have long dreamed of travel on a highway in a vehicle that would be primarily on a highway to take you from place to place while as a passenger I read, talk, play a game or nap. Then at my destination, my vehicle would be exited on a ramp where I would take control to go to a particular address. All of this technology is available now. Then again travel might be something yet undreamed.

 

Resolutions: Old or New

Is it too late to come up with New Year’s Resolutions?

Have two.

One, I will blog more consistently. So I’m already behind here. How about twice a month, rather than once a week? Perhaps I can do this. I will try. Sometimes, probably usually, it’s just that I don’t open a new document and type an  idea that’s been floating around in my brain.

Two, I will get my manuscripts out to agents and editors. I find this more difficult than writing the story to begin with. I don’t mind editing and rewriting. I see my manuscripts and writing improving as I do them. But preparing that query, synopsis, cover letter? Those are very difficult.

TODAY

As I contemplated what I’d do today, I studied the photo of my great grandfather Van Steenbergh that hangs in my bedroom. He was born in 1849.  His great great grandfather Van Steenberghen was born in New York in 1704.  How different were their lives than mine. How different my great grandchildren’s lives will be. Each generation has its own tale of modernity.

My great grandfather traveled mainly by horse and buggy, although cars were popular when he died in 1935.  In my lifetime local travel has always been driven vehicles and planes for long distance. Now driverless vehicles are new.

Who knows what local travel will be for my great grandchildren. I have long dreamed of travel on a highway in a vehicle that would be primarily on a highway to take you from place to place while as a passenger I read, talk, play a game or nap. Then at my destination, my vehicle would be exited on a ramp where I would take control to go to a particular address. All of this technology is available now. Then again travel might be something yet undreamed.

 

 

ALONE OR ISOLATED: READ

Today I sat in my warm living room and drank my coffee. Outside the snow had started coming down. My weather radio warned drivers of slippery roads and blowing snow. It also warned of very low temperatures for tomorrow morning that could give frostbite to exposed skin in just ten minutes.

Twice during the day, I put on boots, coat, hat, and mittens. On my small back porch I scraped off the snow, so I could have egress from that end of my house. The front has a large covered porch and is easily accessible.

I contemplated how I would feel if I could not leave my home. How would the warnings and snow make me feel?

Would I simply feel alone or would I feel isolated?

Feeling isolated could be frightening. What could I do to negate the feeling?

I could have turned on the TV and let newscasters or entertainers keep me company. Other than checking on the weather station a couple of times, I didn’t do that.

I decided I needed exercise. I hate doing exercises. So I sat down at the piano and played music I knew and some that I didn’t. I need to practice more.

Finally, I decided I needed another world to inhabit temporarily. How could I do that? Choose a book and  read.  I chose not a great book that I couldn’t put down, but one that answered the temporary need.

So, if you are feeling alone or isolated these are my suggestions.

 

 

MORE ON WARSAW

PHOTO: View of a small museum from our apartment on Observatorow

 

EXCERPTS FROM A LETTER TO FRIENDS DATED DECEMBER 2, 1989

We get mail that comes to us through the American Embassy. If we wait until we’re home (to open it), we make a pot of tea, then sit with our feet up and relish every word.

Our life here can be described as a set of small victories. I have begun to feel as if I’m digging for Herkimer diamonds and find small (and large) perfect jewels. The hall of the opera house is lovely with great crystal chandeliers made in Poland. It has a huge stage canted uphill for a true life-like effect and the possibility of nearly any stage effect including someone jumping from a suspended bridge into the water.

At another concert hall we saw Garrick Olson, an American pianist born in White Plains, New York, who won the Chopin competition here in 1970. He played to a standing room only audience who called him back for encores several times. While I had not heard of him, the Poles certainly had and love him. He was excellent. On December 8 we have tickets to a symphony concert to hear Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, which I’m looking forward to.

I have been teaching English to a group of novitiates of Mother Theresa’s order. I will not go back now until January when I expect here will be a totally new group of girls. They impress me. They thoroughly enjoy life together. Mother Theresa believes in laughter. While these girls are very serious about learning English, they giggle and share silly things that have happened to them.

In addition, I’m singing in a choir led by an American expat. It consists mostly of Poles, so 98 percent of the instruction is in Polish, which I miss. I can understand the letters, so I usually know where we are. We sang Mozart’s Requiem. It was a thrill to be a part of it.

Shopping  produces jewels. I found a lovely plaid skirt, a blouse, and a sweater for 174,500 zlotys, translated is about $25. Clothing appears in strange places as do odds and ends one needs–Crest in local news stand, or slippers in an underground cross walk. I have also been able to get great haircuts just up the hill from our house for the equivalent of 75 cents.

Enough for now, another chapter to come later.

 

DRINDL SKIRTS

I am nearly finished editing a historical novel for middle grade children. I deleted one large section  because I felt it slowed down the story.  Here is the first part of that section. . . a dirndl skirt is one which is gathered on a waistband. So here is the deleted section in two parts. What do you think?

After dinner when the girls sat together in the Adirondack chair reading, Aunt Belle came out and sat down on the edge of the porch. “I think it’s time you girls learn to sew. How would you each like to make a dirndl skirt to wear to school?”

“Could we do that?” the Sally and Jeanne said in unison.

Jeanne had never thought of making something to wear instead of buying it.

“Sure. I’ll teach you to use the sewing machine and help you,” Aunt Belle said.

“My mother has a sewing machine,” Jeanne said. “But she doesn’t use it much.”

“The milk check came today. Tomorrow we’ll go to town and pick out some material.” Aunt Belle stood up. “You can practice sewing a straight line on the machine today. I’ve got some old cloth you can use.”

Inside, Aunt Belle removed the dresser scarf that covered what looked like a small desk with drawers on each side of its iron frame. At the bottom was a metal grid that Jeanne knew you had to pedal to make the machine work. Her mother’s sewing machine was like this one.

Aunt Belle unfolded the wooden top to make a work surface. From underneath, she reached into the middle of the exposed center and lifted the sewing machine so it sat up over the treadle.

She pulled a chair up to the machine and reached into one of drawers for a spool of white thread. “I’m going to thread the machine so you can practice stitching.” She squinted at the needle, poked the thread through it, and pulled out several inches of thread. Next she removed the metal plate under the needle and pulled out the bobbin to check that it had enough thread on it.

Jeanne watched amazed. Her mother always had trouble getting the machine threaded. Aunt Belle had done it in just a couple of moments. “You do that so fast!”

“It comes with practice.” Aunt Belle now ripped one of Uncle John’s worn out tan work shirts in several pieces. She showed them how to steer the material under the sewing machine’s foot as her feet went up and down on the sewing machine’s treadle. “Make sure you keep your fingers away from the needle. That can hurt!”

“Can I try?” Jeanne looked at Aunt Belle.

“Yes, you may.”

Aunt Belle made it look easy, but remembering to keep her feet going at the same time she steered the fabric under the needle was difficult. If she pedaled too fast, she didn’t go straight, but when she forgot, the machine stopped.

Then it was Sally’s turn. She had to sit on the very edge of the chair to reach the treadle. Even though Sally had tried it before, her stitching was not perfect.

“I’m going to leave you girls to practice, but be careful. I’m going upstairs for a little nap.”

They spent an hour taking turns and watching one another.

“Don’t put your fingers in front of the needle!” Jeanne warned Sally when her fingers got close.

“Keep pedaling.” Sally told Jeanne. “It’s a little like playing the piano, you have to keep going at the same tempo all the time.”

“What’s tempo?”

“It’s how fast or slow you play.”

“I get it. Like when I run. I can go farther if I run slower.

As they learned to pedal smoothly, their stitching got a little straighter. When Aunt Belle returned, they showed off their efforts. “I think you’re both ready for good material.”

The girls grinned. Slap, slap, shake.

(To Be Continued)