Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dear Vergennes Neighbor,

I drove past your house today and saw your flags, the Gadsden Flag, and the Mississippi Naval Flag or the Flag of Northern Virginia (known incorrectly as the Confederate Battle Flag or the Rebel Flag.)  I do not know you, nor why you have chosen these two flag, and omitted the Flag of the USA.  In kindness, I choose to believe that you do not intentionally wish to offend any of your neighbors, but I am sure that I am not the only one who is offended.

Theprovinence of these two flags is relatively boring.  The Gadsden Flag was created before the Revolutionary War, designed by South Carolina Congressman Christopher Gadsden and used by Esek Hopkins on his flagship the USS Alfred.  It was also the first flag of the United States Marines. 

The “Confederate Flag” was never that at all - it was flown by the Mississippi Navy and by Robert E. Lee’s regiment in Northern Virginia.  The symbols on it did appear on other flags, but it was rejected by many because it’s coloring made it too similar to the American Flag and the English Union Jack.  The actual (2nd) flag of the Confederacy had this image in the top left corner, on a field of pure white.  That choice was not accidental.

To those who fly it, the Gadsden Flag represents resistance against tyranny.  It comes from a time when this collection of colonies (of which, by the way, Vermont was not one) was pushing back against the control of England.  It speaks to an unwillingness to be tightly controlled by a powerful central government.  Fair enough.  It has been taken up again in recent times by Libertarians who believe that less government is good government.  Not exactly the original intention, but close enough.

The “Confederate Flag” however, does not fly so easily.  The South seceded from the United States of America under this flag (again, not really, but let’s go with the myth.)  The ‘official’ cause was State’s Rights.  The Confederacy resented the nation as a whole (not just the North) telling them what they could and could not do.  The real cause was slavery and everybody knows it.  Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation coming in the middle of the Civil War was not a coincidence.  This flag represent the insistence by one group of people that they were legally, morally, ethically, financially within their right to OWN ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.   The flag retained some popularity as a representation of Southern Pride (but not American Pride?) and a tribute to Southern heritage, but I ask, specifically what heritage is that?  The heritage of oppression and bigotry?  Of white superiority?  If this flag represents the secessionist South, and the South seceded over the right to OWN OTHER PEOPLE, is this really a heritage to be proud of?  Before the existence of this flag, there was a South.  There was Southern hospitality, and grit, and honesty, and iced tea on verandas, and crickets at dusk.  And that all existed under the American Flag.  This flag does not represent freedom for all, it represents freedom for some, and oppression for others.  In recent times it has flown over Klan meetings, it has flown over anti-civil rights rallies, and it has been carried by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.  It is hurtful, and divisive and I ask, dear Vergennes neighbor, that you consider that when you choose to display to on the front of your home.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Twice.  In two days.  Call me butter, I'm on a roll!

This afternoon I was banished from the house for 45 min or so, a video conference needed fewer voices and bodies in the room, so I took myself out to the local wholesale grower.  He's closing up the plant business for the season, so I figured I'd find some deals. 

And how!

I've attempted to move the raspberry bushes over to a raised bed with the blueberries and rhubarb, but through a combination of too much rain, and WAY too much neglect, they all died.  Today, rather than transplant more sprouts from the back yard, I decided to splurge and buy a couple of new ones.  Splurge indeed.  $7 for both.  And a try of annuals.  I have an evening in the mud in my future I suspect.  The annuals (FREE!) are mostly shades of red and orange, they'll replace the pinks and whites in the planter by the mailboxes, and fill some holes in my cutting garden (the empty space at the end of the tomato bed.)

Tomorrow though, weather willing, I'll need to cut the grass.  And go to the Farmer's Market.  And do some laundry.  And make dinner.  After work.  Boredom is not in my skill set.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Turn the page on the calendar... it's been a month.

I'm resisting turning this into a vent site.  I haven't yet figured out if there's a way to block specific eyes from these pages, or if I even want to.  It seems a little disingenuous to give myself a space to be completely honest, and then censor those with whom I share that honesty.  Homework time.

Until this past February, I had a huge drafty, loud sewing studio space that I rented for a song, with the understanding that I'd be turfed with little notice if someone willing to pay market-ish rent appeared.  He did, and I was. :(  A couple of weeks ago I finally picked my pouty lip off the floor and set myself up a space in Tori's old room.  I have a window and a table and a chair and a couple of quilts waiting to be finished.  Now all I need is time and some cooler temps.

This quilt will be for my niece, my oldest brother's youngest child.  She just turned 16 and I fully expect a message from her dad reminding me that this is the year she gets a quilt.  Can I be cranky for a moment?  Let's stop modelling entitlement, shall we?  When her older sister turned 16, I got the Facebook message "Hannah wants to make sure you know she turned 16 last month so you don't forget to make her a quilt."  Seriously?!  My response was something along the lines of "and she can't tell me this herself because...?"  My suspicion is that the message was NOT from Hannah, but from my brother himself, who has never before let the threat of "I can't believe you just said that" from in fact saying.  That.

And then there's this one.  This troublesome one.  It was not planned, it demanded my attention.  It kept pulling me away from what I was doing to work on it.  It just had to be, and it had to be BIG.  Who's it for?  Dunno.  Not me, I know that.  I have a nephew turning 16 next year, but I don't think it's for him either.  Maybe when it's done, I'll know.  But before I get to either of these, I have this.
This is not my quilt, I'm finishing it for the sister of a kinda/sorta/current/former friend.  Ish.  It's complicated.  Let's just call this Rhoda's quilt.  Isn't it pretty?  The picture doesn't do it justice, I just hope my quilting does.  I didn't realize when I first got it, that the outer ring was a sampler.  The colours are the same, but the patterns are different.  4 patch based blocks, 9 patches, 5 patches... I've got a plan. 
That centre, though, deserved more than just an all over random finish, so it got this.  I'm pretty pleased, but don't look too close.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Wow, 3 weeks. Oops

Tonight I want to be petty, but I'm resisting.  I might yet, but for now, my better self is winning, and that's always the better choice.

Because I know I'll lose the story on Facebook (I lose everything on Facebook, until I find it again, and then it's a wonderful surprise!) I'm posting this here.  Before it's gone.

If this was your reinforced strapping that was hidden in the long grass up by the road, I apologize. My tractor ate it. But good news! When I took the mower deck off to unwind it from the mandrel, I discovered a nest of baby squirrels! On the mower deck! (bad choice, mama squirrel). Moved them with all their bedding under a tree, and when I went back to take another peek, mama had already relocated them. So no pic of cute squirrel babies. This will have to suffice.

So here's the story.  I'd been feeling judgey about the new neighbors.  I don't like being that way, but I'm owning it.  They leave their trash cans up by the road for days.  They let Joe's beautiful garden go to weeds.  They cut their grass about once every two weeks.  Their dog killed one of Ashley and Jeff's lovely chickens (named after the Golden Girls ferpetesake!) and then last week, dog also bit Gerd.  Wow.  Speaking with Jeff a week or so ago, he advised that Christopher (neighbor husband) is still maintaining his NYC audiology practice while Maggie (wife) is here with construction and baby and dog and no one to help... and I felt like a turd.

On Tuesday I was cutting the grass and decided that since I was there anyway, I'd just cut over and do theirs too.  And since I was working a few things out in my head, what the heck, I'll cut their along-the-road part too.  And, wrapped in my mental cud-chewing, I drove off the side of the culvert and got stuck in the ditch.  10 minutes and a 14 year old assistant later, I was back in business, until the mower deck tangled, literally, with a section of strap tie down.  Drive home, pull off the deck, cut away the webbing and prepare to remount the deck.  Muttering the whole time.  Of course.  And then the magic part of this story.  As I was about to slide the deck back under the tractor, I decided to take the opportunity to clear away the accumulated clippings and crud.  Gloves on, 'cause that stuff's nasty, and set to work.  I picked up a handful of grass, and a baby squirrel.  And another, and another.  They were all safely(?!) bedded down in the area through which the belt races.  There were five in all, about an inch and a half from nose to tail, and Oh.My.Goodness.  They were adorable.  All breathing, all well, and all alive.  And if I hadn't found them they'd have all, undoubtedly, been pulled into the belt and killed.

We have to make the choice to do the good thing when we can.  And I'll keep trying not to be petty.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Coleus Among the Cosmos

My garden is in. Ish.  The carrots haven't come up, and the beans are sporadic, but I didn't actually buy new seed this year so I'm not surprised.   There was a large blank space at the end of the tomato-pepper-tomatillo bed so I filled it with flowers.  Portulaca, asters, dahlias, lots of pretty cutting flowers.  And one coleus.  Coleus doesn't flower, or if it does, the flower is incidental.  But it's beautiful, regardless! 

I tend to anthropomorphize.   Parking my little Mazda next to another little Mazda makes me a little bit happy; they can talk while I'm gone!  I talk to food, and machines, and sunshine.  And as I tucked that little flowerless coleus in with the flashy Gerbera daisies and salvia, I gave her a little pep talk.  "You are strong and beautiful!  You will grow big and healthy!  The others will bloom and be showy and attract lots of attention, but that doesn't diminish you value AT.ALL.  You are as perfect in your way as they are in theirs." 

My perfect is mine alone.  Everyone's perfect is different, and isn't that just the greatest?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


So now it's time to step up.  Yesterday I spouted some platitudes and pretty words about walking the talk, doing the right thing, making a difference.  knocking down the small injustices to topple the big ones.  This morning, this showed up in my Facebook feed.

I know this family.  I know that Juan is none of the terrible things the president says he is taking a hard line on.  He is a father, a husband, a farmer.  A taxpayer, a booster, a volunteer.  He is a good man, an honest man, and a LEGAL resident.  His skin is the wrong color, and his path to the US did not involve the Mayflower or, you know, a steamer from Kallstadt.  Toss him over the wall!

For reasons I will not go into here, yet, I do not have money to support his fight.  But I have email, and I have stamps, and I have representatives in Washington and Montpelier, and dammit I will help.  This small injustice is HUGE to the six children that call him dad.

Monday, June 12, 2017


My boy gets it.  He just gets it.  He gets angry at injustice.  He bristles at blatant lying and the selfish entitled behaviour that seems to predominate the media lately.  That's my boy. 

I got en email on Mother's Day weekend from a teacher at his school.  Not one of HIS teacher's mind you.  It seems my boy routinely holds doors, offers to clean up messes that others have walked away from, pushes in chairs, and is regularly considerate to those who might not even notice, let alone acknowledge it.  The email's intent was to make me aware of his actions, and to thank me for raising such a great kid. 

As much as I'd like to take credit for the great people my babies have become, all I did was give them tools.  They picked them up and built their characters into masterpieces, and I could not be more proud of them.  They are the best projects I've ever started.

I read tonight a Facebook post by my boyfriend Bernie that stated that the 5 wealthiest people (men) on earth own more wealth than the bottom half of the world's population. Combined.  Just one of these 5 men is worth more financially than 750 MILLION people.  More than the population of the entire United States.  Plus Canada.  Mexico.  Central America.  Brazil.  and Peru.  One. Guy.  That's not right.  Daniel asked how we can fight that kind of imbalance and I responded that we can't.  We can't make those 5 men share, they have to come to that place by themselves.  What we can do, though, is reject the easy acceptance of small injustices.  We can stand up to the little bullying and the small slights that we see every day.  Our voices can speak the words of the silenced.  Our actions can build, not tear down.  We can choose to be our better selves.