Saturday, February 25, 2012

What In The World Have I Got?

So, in the 40th anniversary year of "Our Bodies, Ourselves," women's bodies are still under siege. Everyday, it seems as if politicians are using Margaret Atwood's book, "The Handmaid's Tale" as a manuel.

Petitions are flying. Women are calling for justice. And well, the artists just do what artists always do. Transform it into something haunting, provocative and lyrical.

So, enjoy Patricia Wake.

And remember - these shells in which we live are all we truly have. Can we really afford to let others stick a flag down, claim and then occupy them?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Librarian Should Still Mean Priest/ess or Healer

I am feeling vaguely pessimistic. I wonder what will happen when my personal reference librarian doesn't answer the physical phone anymore. My Dad, he is my reference librarian. I had the benefit of access to an ace number one, classically trained mind. (Even when he was busy making sure that we had all of the basic necessities and quite a bit more.)

But, funny side note... My son, Win, bailed on our local library when "his" librarian got promoted. (Mea culpa for writing her a support letter, but, a girl's gotta move on up. I can't be selfish.) Still. I always said to Win, "if you want to know anything and everything, you've got to be very nice to your librarian. S/he will give you the whole world of everything you want to know.” So after she left “our library” we did a bit of Amazon. That became financially prohibitive and cluttery, so we went library hopping. Hoping to find a new "librarian." No one was good enough, until recently.

Win demanded that we return to our neighborhood library where "his" librarian used to “live.” Lo and behold we met Mr. Ian ~ who is every bit as good as Miss LeAnn. Sigh...

However, Mr. Ian only ever seems to be on duty when the other kids are out of school. Win was so disappointed. Miss LeAnn was *always* there. She *always* knew …well..the everything he wanted to read. She was *always* there.

But, he wanted some ….books. Today. And we muddled through. And he was happy enough. But, it wasn’t the same. Miss Denise is sweet and helpful and so supportive. And he truly adores her. She made him feel so welcome coming “home.” (Which is a very special talent unto itself. But, debate the newest Bad Kitty or Chester…not quite the same as his glorious Miss LeAnn and the ever illusive Mr Ian.) And he couldn’t fathom why Mr. Ian is only on duty when the other patrons want to Wii, internet or run screaming through the stacks. It just seemed wasteful to him. (Of course, in all fairness, we only come in and out when books are due. The library can not be held accountable for our serendipitous use of their facilities. And I did explain this.)

He did say Miss Denise made him feel like he was “home” again. And he was so thankful for all of the ideas she gave him for a place to begin his own searches. As a parent, I am over-joyed that she did him a good favor by teaching him the life long lesson of performing his own searches and not just willy-nilly accepting what “the authority” hands him. And that lesson delivered with a sweet smile and a shrug and a “here is the area to search” reads like Dumbledore to me. And I praise her for her soft, loving way of kindly nurturing self-directed inquiry. And it seems that Win had the right idea by going home. He needed balance. he needed the excited "Oh, yeah! Let me show you this book Mr. Ian gives combined with the "You can figure it out dear and I will help you," that Miss Denise offers.

Oh! Librarian! It used to mean priest/ess of knowledge. It meant holder of the secret best books. It used to mean “person who knew what was new and whether or not you should let anyone worthy know that it was the new “new.” Now it means, "Observant Facilitator & Aid To Knowledge Seekers." Something akin to the role in Joseph Campbell's "The Hero's Journey."

Win maintains this reverence. His sister had “a librarian.” And to this day, when we visit that branch, “his sister’s librarian” asks after her. He is amazed. His sister is such an old, grown-up, busy-with-her-own-thing person. How could anyone ask after “dear, little Imani?” She is not little. She is not dear. She is his ~ cranky, loving, self-absorbed, hug him, kiss him, worry about him, give-him-ice-cream-til-Mommy-shows-up ~ big sister. She is in the process of making herself happen. (Glory!) Whatever that means.

But what I have come to know is that librarians are special. Like a found treasure or a happenstance buddha in the middle of the road blithely smiling. One finger pointing in some arbitrary hard-to-read direction. Or Dorothy’s scarecrow always changing direction in that very first encounter. Confusing and heartlessly without heart because he will not give you a direction. He only asks that you choose your own.

And we are lucky to have the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. And our home is Homewood. (How apropos.) And I am grateful for a fluid and knowledgeable staff.

I had a librarian once. And she made me all that I am today. Her name was Mrs. Checkley. And then, I had my father…who brought every gift he had to offer into our kitchen. And I just don’t want to let go of any of my “wisdom-keepers.” They taught me that this perverse sense of planning for loss and dwelling in the deep future will never be worthy of the beauty of “now-thoughts.”

Monday, February 06, 2012

Kombucha & Raising Good Young Men

what every father should know about teaching & demonstrating good partnership qualities.

In addition to my husband’s interesting obsessions, we have added the making of Kombucha.

Me? I would rather obsess about making Mead. Then again, this is not an activity the whole family can enjoy. On the other hand, this current obsession is a wonderful teaching tool for raising boys to be strong, supportive and powerful men who can partner supportively and successfully.

Really. I’m serious. Of course, this lovely blogger got everything right in her post 25 Rules For Mothers Of Sons. (Except for #17 - because practice only ever makes better…thank you Sena Jane Thompsen) But, in addition to everything she wrote, Kombucha making is truly the best ever thing a father can do with his son.

Looking back over my past few Facebook updates, I am beginning to realize how the making of Kombucha is a valuable lesson in male / female dynamics.

Most recent FB Update:

Son: Kombucha Mama looks really good!

Mama: Daddy got very focused on making her happy. Because, that's what Daddy's do.

Earlier FB update:

Kombucha Mama is suicidal. Kombucha Mama keeps attempting to abort Kombucha Daughter.

Even earlier FB update:

Extracted daughter. Daughter exhibiting the same tendencies as mother.

Much earlier FB update:

We have a Kombucha daughter!

Analysis & Review:

Everyone was poking at Kombucha Mama. Everyone was all up in her grill at every moment. Kombucha Mama could not expect even 1 hour of quiet and privacy. Kombucha Mama was under constant observation. Kombucha Mama couldn’t breathe.

When Kombucha Mama started exhibiting suicidal tendencies, the first reaction of the men-folk was to talk about cutting her in half or poking a hole in her. The desire for solitude and privacy was met with ideas about mutilation to make her more cooperative. Under these conditions, Kombucha Mama made every effort to abort her daughter….and commit suicide.

Fortunately - these historically tired ideas were rejected. A good man can step back and review, assess and develop new solutions.


1. Husband did his best to provide ideal conditions for Kombucha Mama to thrive.

2. Husband made a new and refreshing beverage for Kombucha Mama so she can be happy.

3. Husband made sure Kombucha Mama has some time to herself. (And even dressed her up in a pretty napkin to make sure no one could sneak around eavesdropping on her,)

4. Husband discusses loudly about how important it is for Kombucha Mama to just have some personal space in order to give us the yummy elixir that is in her nature to provide. With joy and gracefulness.


Support partners:

1. Do their best to provide ideal conditions to thrive.

2. Support partners take time to nurture and nourish.

3. Support persons create opportunities for their Loved One to regenerate and rejuvenate.

4. Support persons makes sure to discuss ALL of the positive outcomes regarding activities which seem negative to small people who are overly attached to their SCOBY - Kombucha Mama.

5. Support partners celebrate the outcomes that time, space and reflection bring to the whole family.

And there you have it - all in an effervescent bubbly healthy drink.