Women’s Rights and Mrs. Pankhurst

(I am sharing this post from another blog of mine.  I wrote it a couple of years ago, but the subject is as relevant today as it has been for millennia! )

As a baby boomer I grew up in the time of the Women’s Liberation Movement .   Bra burning, equal pay, “I am Woman, hear me Roar, etc”.   If you are younger than say 50,  you may not realize that as recently as the 1970s,  here in the US, women couldn’t get a loan at a bank by themselves,  they had to have a male family member co-sign the loan with them.  Apparently we were so feeble minded we couldn’t be relied upon to understand complicated business matters.  I was a young wife in 1975 when I got my first job at a bank.  The name of it was “The Women’s Bank of California”, and we prided ourselves on treating women with the same respect as we treated men.  My manager was a man by the way, no surprise there.

At any rate, as I am still working in the banking world, I often share this bit of history with my new tellers. They are usually young 20 somethings and are always amazed by this fact.  Of course, the 1970s probably feels like ancient history to them, but to me it just wasn’t all that long ago.

I was thinking about this the other day which then prompted thoughts of my grandmother’s day and the trials they had to go through.  She was born in 1896 and according to one of my cousins that grew up with her, she helped young women that were “in trouble” much the same way that Imelda Staunton did in the movie “Vera Drake”.  It’s hard to imagine now that a woman had no other choice back then, and they did what they had to do.

Thinking about the hardships of this time then made me think about the Women’s Vote,  which immediately made me remember  “Mary Poppins” and the “Votes for Women” scenes in that movie.  Mrs. Pankhurst’s work was mentioned here because Mrs. Banks was a follower.

I did some research on Mrs. Pankhurst and she was a pretty interesting woman.  It’s funny how in history one or two of the players will stand out and we don’t give much thought to all of the others that sacrificed and worked in the background, but those one or two are what make us know about it at all.

There were actually two different movements working for a woman’s right to vote in England at the same time.  I had never heard of the moderate one where intelligent women tried to get the vote through just by arguing the point.  The person that is most well known for this is Millicent Fawcett, and I would love you to comment if you have ever heard about her.  Perhaps if you did grow up in England you learned about her in school, but being an American, I had never once heard her name before doing my research.

One of the most famous woman that worked for women’s rights in England was Emmeline Pankhurst, who favored the militant approach.  She was born in 1858 into a family that had a long tradition of radical politics.  She married Richard Pankhurst, a lawyer and supporter of the women’s suffrage movement.

Mrs. Pankhurst formed the “Women’s Franchise League” in 1889 which fought to allow married women the right to vote in local elections.  In 1903, she helped found the more militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), an organisation notorious for it’s activities.  This organisation’s members were the first christened “suffragettes”.  The British general public were astonished by the demonstrations, window smashing, arson and hunger strikes of the suffragettes.  The nation was appalled when in 1913, WSPU member Emily Davison died when she threw herself under the king’s horse at the Derby. She was protesting the government’s continued failure to grant women the right to vote.

Like many suffragettes, Mrs. Pankhurst was arrested on numerous occasions over the next few years.  I love this photo of her being arrested and the policeman actually having to pick her up and carry her away!

Can you imagine being a woman at the time and having to go through this kind of humiliation?

This period of militancy  ended abruptly at the outbreak of war in 1914, when Emmeline turned her energies to supporting the war effort.  She died shortly after achieving her dream of woman having equal voting rights with men at age 21.  It was 1928 before it happened!

I got this information from a history of Emmeline Pankhurst by the BBC.  I am really awed by the heroism of people in this age.  I feel like in today’s world, we complain loudly about the things we don’t like,  freedom of speech right? But how many of us would do something that would inconvenience us by getting thrown in jail for our beliefs?

Joy of Reading and the Small Town Library

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“Print is dead”, said Dr.Egon Spengler from the movie Ghostbusters.  You’ll never convince me of that. There will always be those of us that like the weight of a book in our lap.  I am more than a little appalled to realize that not all people share my joy of reading.  The only time in my life that I didn’t read book after book was when my kids were young and I just didn’t have time. By the time they were asleep and I’d straightened the house, made lunches, finished the laundry and put on my pjs, I was too exhausted to read .  If I did pick up a book, I would instantly fall asleep and wake with a jolt when the book hit the floor.  I remember the exact moment that I realized I could read again and it was glorious!

reading

This love of reading, thankfully, has been a part of me since I was very young.  When my mother would read to me, her voice like velvet, I would melt into her lap and dread the moment when she said “The End”.  

I have a vivid memory of the first time she took me to the library.  We had moved to the small community of Lakeside, east of San Diego, 1958.  The library was in Lindo Lake Park.  It sat next to where the current cement block, early 1960s library is now. It was a lovely one room schoolhouse from the 1800s.  At least that’s how I remember it, it may have just been an old house.  I can conjure up the smell of it if I try, old wood and that wonderful addicting smell of many hundreds of books.  Not knowing yet how much I would love it, I only chose two books. By the end of the afternoon I was begging my mother to take me back for more. Of course she couldn’t, but the next time we went I piled the books so high I asked her to carry half, only to be told I could only take as many as I could carry, her pile being at least as tall as mine.  That was 60 years ago and I still lament over the closing and moving of that library! I suppose the town council was thinking of progress and population growth.  The new library was fine, it was big, it was efficient, there were more books. I got as much enjoyment from the books there as from the old one, almost.  But it didn’t have the right smell or the warm ambience of that old library, the cement floors never made that comforting, creaking sound of the old hardwood.

Lakeside Library
Courtesy of Billy Ortiz

Growing up in Lakeside, reading was just one of my many pastimes.  I thought, at the time, there was never anything to do there.  The beach was too far, the shopping centers as well.  So we read, we walked, we explored, we play acted TV westerns, sang songs.  We were free to walk to the middle of town and play at the park,  fish for crawdads in Lindo Lake or buy penny candy at Sam’s Liquor Store.  There was a bakery, a cafe and the library. I consider myself lucky having grown up there and have fond memories it all.  I know I didn’t appreciate it enough when I was young.  I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could move away, anywhere else. But it was as real as anywhere and the people were genuine, it taught me to be curious and in the moment.

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Courtesy of Marcie Smith

My cousin sent me this picture of the 1960s library and let me know that it would soon be replaced by a new modern one.  It will be located away from Lindo Lake, and hopefully will be full of light and neat rows of bookshelves,  all of the new technology and the capability for readers to peruse the stacks online and then walk up to the counter and have their books ready and waiting.  After all, anything that helps people to enjoy reading is welcome.

The fact that there is a new library on the roster shows what a forward thinking American town Lakeside is.  It gives me hope, when all over the country you hear about libraries closing.  Where I live now, in the Pacific Northwest, many of the libraries have become volunteer run.  This means that the hours are sporadic and if no one is available to cover a shift, the library is closed.  This is a travesty when the powers that be hold back taxes from something as worthwhile to citizens as a lending library.

As Lakeside moves ever forward, the Lakeside Historical Society is preserving it’s history.  They hold some amazing photos of the town and run a museum and history center.  If you make it down to San Diego, take time to visit this ever changing place that still retains that small America feeling that is rapidly disappearing.

5 steps read

It’s Easy to Eat Real Food

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I’ve long been an advocate for real food.  I’m not a fanatic about it.  I will, occasionally, eat an Oreo or add flavored creamer to my coffee.   Always at work,  I don’t buy processed food when I do my grocery shopping.  If it’s not there, I won’t eat it.

proc food

My middle daughter sent me an article the other day about why you should never eat margarine.  Kind of a family joke, I won’t have margarine in the house.  I’ve heard all of the arguments about cholesterol in butter and animal fat.  None of which are man-made chemicals.  I can pronounce the ingredients in butter,  I have no idea what most of them are in margarine.   The same for diet drinks,  what the hell?  You know what sugar is, you know where it came from.  Here’s one of the chemicals they use for diet soft drinks.  It’s not always on the label because it’s an ingredient of aspartame.

This is what The Mayo Clinic says about this chemical:
“Phenylalanine isn’t a health concern for most people. However, for people who have the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) or certain other health conditions, phenylalanine can be a serious health concern.  Phenylalanine can cause mental retardation, brain damage, seizures and other problems in people with PKU.”

Now I don’t know about you, but PKU or not, I do not want my children or grand children drinking something that includes this.  Sugar is not a healthy thing to have too much of, however,  if you’re drinking more than one soda a day, there may be no help for you.  This is a life style change that is easy to make if you really want to do better for yourself.

diet soda

Back to my original point, eating real food is easy.  I’m just as busy as the rest of you and I don’t have time anymore to make large complicated meals.  Unless it’s a holiday,  I won’t spend more than 15 minutes making a meal.   I don’t have the time or energy after a busy day.   Still,  I rarely eat fast food or processed foods.  I’m not judging you if you do like processed food .  However, and this is important, add nutrients, in the form of something that grew, to pretty much every meal.  A chopped tomato, slices of avocado, some chopped green onion or cilantro.   It doesn’t take a lot of thought or time.   When I make my eggs in the morning, I throw in some mushrooms and spinach,  I top them with chopped tomatoes and/or green onions.

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Have you seen the ad in doctors offices and markets that says “5 a day for life”?  When I first saw that, I thought “how daunting to try to make 5 veggies a day, unless you eat them all raw”.  I don’t like all vegetables raw.  Then I realized if I just add some fruit or veg to every meal, it’s better than nothing.  So, that’s how I started, just adding something live to every meal.  It got easier after that, five a day or more is now typical for me.  Add tomato or avocado,  throw in some mushrooms, fruit for snacks or dessert.  Easy to do, not a lot of time, not expensive.

5 a day

A baked sweet potato is delicious all by itself, and an easy way to add some real nutrients and fiber.  Wash them, place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 400* for 50 to 60 minutes.  A knife should go through easily.  I put a teaspoon of butter on it, that’s all it needs.  Naturally sweet, it goes great with any meat.

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Other things need some help, like a simple grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla.  I add sliced mushrooms and tomatoes.  Or guacamole, it’s excellent on many things and avocado is a “good” fat.

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Here are a few easy ways to make some veggies that you can add to any meal.  Take an hour or so out of your week.  It’s something I look forward to now,  kind of a nice break from news or chores and I know I’m doing something healthy for my husband and myself.  I pour a nice glass of red and put on music.

Roasted tomatoes-I can eat these things like candy, they are so yummy!  Add them to mac & cheese, pastas, tacos, salads, sandwiches, etc:  Wash and dry Roma or small salad tomatoes. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment to make clean up easier, brush with olive oil.  Slice the tomatoes so they’re all about the same thickness and lay them on the cookie sheet, you can cram them together as long as they’re in one layer.  Or, you can use the smaller tomatoes and just cut them in half.  Either way,  brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in a 375* oven for 20 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet and bake another 15 to 20 minutes.  Take a peek to make sure they aren’t burning.  (This usually happens if they aren’t cut the same thickness)  Remove from oven and let cool.  Keep in a glass dish in the fridge, they last about a week, add to any dish.

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Roasted peppers,  I like the red, yellow and orange ones better than the green.  They have a subtler taste and the green ones mess with my stomach.  Basically you take off the top, slice in a uniform size and rinse out the seeds.  Then you make them just like the tomatoes.  I like to add these to Italian food, salads, just heat them up and eat with any meat. Also good in soups and stews or tacos.

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You can add other vegetables as well:  eggplant, onions, chunks of celery, garlic (don’t over cook the garlic or it’s bitter).  An excellent way to use these is to puree’ and add to meat and rice for stuffed bell peppers.  Make the filling, stuff into pre-roasted bell peppers and top with Parmesan cheese.  Heat in a 350* oven, lovely if you can make ahead, they take less than half an hour.  Add crunchy french bread and you have a great meal.

Asparagus,  one of my favorites and simple to make.  Wash them and hold with index fingers and thumbs, the fat end and just below the head.  Bend the fat end until it breaks.  (I usually just throw this away, but if you’re really ambitious, you can boil it along with onion skins, potato and carrot  peels and/or any part of any vegetable that you don’t use.  It all makes a healthy veggie broth you can use for soups, just strain)  Again, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.  Lay the asparagus in a flat layer.  You can leave them whole or cut them into 2 inch pieces.  Sprinkle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and broil just 2 or 3 minutes, turn over and broil again.  You just want them slightly browned on each side.  These are great as a simple side dish or throw them into soups, egg dishes, what ever sounds good to you.

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Carrots-Wash and peel, cut into strips, chunks, halves, it’s up to you.  I like to dice them and saute’ in butter along with diced celery and onions to throw into soup.  You can par boil them in water or 7 up until they’re about half done.  When you need them they cook up fast.  Keep in the fridge for 4 or 5 days.   I also discovered chili and garlic infused honey.  Saute’ the partially cooked carrots in a little butter for 2 or 3 minutes.  Drizzle with this honey and cook to desired tenderness, so good.

carrots

Another quick veggie that I love in winter are parsnips, carrots and potatoes.  Just wash, peel and cut into equal size chunks.  Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste, stirring to coat.  Bake on a lined cookie sheet in a 400* oven until brown, about 20 minutes,  stirring occasionally so they brown evenly.

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Cabbage may not sound like your favorite food, but try it this way.  Slice a half of a head in 1/4 inch slices, saute’ in butter and season with sea salt flakes and pepper. Don’t over cook, it should be a little crunchy and not soft or mushy.   So simple and delicious, the crunchiness of the salt and the buttery flavor, so easy.

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If you eat these with lean meats and fruit, salads, etc.  it will change your life.  It’ll help build your immune system and give you the nutrients your body needs instead of the processed chemicals that are making people sick.  I’m so tired of seeing the commercials for pharma with all of the side effects that sound worse than the disease!  If I can do one simple thing myself and avoid doctors and prescriptions, I’m just stubborn enough to do it.  I’m about to retire and don’t take anything but vitamins, and I’m convinced it’s because of simple eating habits and gardening.  I’m not great at exercising, other than a daily stretch.  I don’t deny myself things that I enjoy.  Ice cream is a staple at my house as is chocolate.  Moderation is key and simple food.

It’s easy to see the difference,  which would you rather put in your body?

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Minimalism

Lately, I’ve been noticing that through my forty two years of marriage, three daughters and too many moves, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. I move it around, dust it, occasionally look at it, but I don’t use most of it anymore. It’s just my stuff.  My mother in-law is a hoarder in the true sense of the word. Now, she’ll tell you the reason is that she grew up during the depression and she never wants to “do without” again. It would be nice if that were all it was.  Unfortunately, like most hoarders, the real reason was tragedy. After losing her youngest to a drunk driver, she’s gotten rid of nothing, and I do mean nothing.
hoarder
The really strange thing about all of the thoughts about my stuff these last few months is that a documentary appeared on my Netflix search called Minimalism. I didn’t search for it, neither did my husband. I thought, maybe my visiting youngest did. Here for her baby shower, we had the conversation about not buying the baby a lot of stuff. She doesn’t need it. But no, she didn’t search for it either, even though I tried to thank her for it.   I’m going to go with benevolent forces helping me out!
                                                     minimalism
Both my husband and I have vowed for years now, not to keep things like his mother does. Still, over time, you do keep a lot of stuff. Nostalgia? Maybe. Laziness? Sometimes. I think the most likely reason is habit. It’s always been around so why get rid of it now. It has memories, the kids might want it. Wrong! They don’t, I asked them. They think most of it’s junk.
 junk
Here’s my solution: Divide and conquer. And I start this weekend. Sure, there are a few things that belonged to parents and grandparents that, because it means so much to me, I want to pass them down. So my idea is to take those things, photograph them and email an explanation of who it belonged to and what it means to me, to each of my kids. Then, I’m going to let them choose what they honestly want to have. I’m going to give whatever it is to them right away. I may ask the nieces and nephews if they would like anything that’s left at an upcoming reunion.
After that, I will need to honestly evaluate. Is it useful to me, do I love it or is it just here? If it’s just here it’s going on Ebay! Seriously, it’s just stuff. I have fond memories not to mention the DNA that my ancestors gave me. I certainly can’t take it with me, so I might as well get some value out of it.
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We’re at an age where retiring is just around the corner. I’d love to move to a little two bed, two bath cottage in a rural setting. I’d like to have less stuff to move and clean. I’d like to enjoy the people I love and experiences more than living with all this stuff. Anyone else feeling the same? I’d love to hear your ideas and solutions.  Cheers!

 

Aging American Woman

skate kidsYes, I’m that old, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have something to say.  I’ve always loved to write, make up stories, embellish with some drama or humor.  As I get older and am looking at retiring, I feel more and more how important it is to connect with people.   Like most American’s,  over the years I’ve gotten used to using my technology.  I love it and the way it connects us to people all over the world.  I’m not saying I don’t like talking in person, I like talking any way.   I used to actually hand write and mail letters, even when I was a kid.

Email and then text became the natural next step.  I can see a world where we visit each other by sitting in our living rooms and Facetiming on the TV.  I think it would be lovely to have a weekly visit with people you care about that are far away.  Being able to hug that person would be better, but time and finances don’t always make that possible.  I know that when I talk to someone on Facetime or Skype, I feel like it was more of a visit than the regular telephone.   You can read their expressions and you always get more out of a conversation like that than a text.  Especially with auto correct!

 

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Think about how far we’ve come just since I came along in the 50s.  I remember moving to a rural area when I was five, outside of San Diego.   At the time, there were no spare phone lines and we had to temporarily have a party line.  If you don’t know what that is,  you had your land line at your house, but someone else had the same line as you.   You could pick up the phone to call someone and there would be someone else having a conversation.   I remember that my mother was always polite, she’d apologize and ask about how long they thought they would be.  I also remember her complaining that the other user talked too much so she couldn’t use the phone when she needed it.   Luckily it didn’t last too long, maybe two or three weeks.

partyline

We also had phone booths.  Just square glass boxes, painted red on the bottom, very modern.   They had a phone book hanging down and a shelf you could set it on.  But they were maintained by the phone company,  and cleaned regularly.  You weren’t afraid that you would pick up some strange skin disease if you used a public telephone.

phonebooth

Dialog is a good way to understand each other and broaden your horizons.  One thing I’ve learned in my years here is that it’s good to learn new things and one should never, ever generalize about people or a group of people.   We’re all different and that’s a good thing.  Cheers!