Author Archive

The rain, the tea, and thee

I’m feeling creatively stuck today, so I am revisiting one of my favorite posts from the past.  Enjoy.


Man, look at all the spiders out here – I really need to get out here and clean this studio up one of these days.

I need to write. But what about?

I am surrounded by stories but I don’t know the words. I am enmeshed in wonders not yet seen and entranced by the hint of something more going on just beneath the surface.

Do I write a fantasy? A tale of beauty trapped in a bower, awaiting salvation by the prince?

No. Done to death and not my favorite theme, anyway. I prefer that the damsel save herself, or at least that they work as a team. What about the poisoned fruit, the talking fish (no frogs in my pond, sorry), or the magical cat?

Well, all cats are magical, aren’t they, so what’s new about that?

Ah, here is the rain they promise. Soft and gentle, enough to splash its liquid life into the pond but not enough to preclude my needing to water the grass later, I’m sure.

Have I written so many research papers that my pen has forgotten how to fly? My writing partner is far away – I moved, she stayed – and our few attempts at long distance writing “dates” were less than successful. Is that it? Am I only able to create flights of fancy when inspired by another writer? Or am I simply adrift in a sea of words, trapped in a dense web of nouns, verbs and adjectives, unable to string them together and find my way home?

The garden is wildly overgrown. Roses twelve feet high, bending back down to earth by the weight of their blossoms; the lavender is chest high (I’m allergic, thank you), some kind of mint has taken over the small patch in the back, and butterfly bush exploding everywhere in sagey green and shades of lilac. Not to mention the sneaky blackberry tendrils that weave unbidden through the densest stand of branches.

You can’t kill them, you know. They spring up everywhere here, invasive little suckers. They aren’t native, either, and like the trumpet vine and the passionflower vine, they’ll take over everything if you let them. One season is all it would take and you’d need a flamethrower to get more than two feet into the garden.

And there are spiders everywhere. I see four little mamas in their webs just from where I’m sitting and it looks like three different types of spiders (don’t ask me which kind). Brown house spiders, wolf spiders, crab spiders, hobo spiders (same as brown recluse, ‘cept different), black widows – so many types that only Arachne herself would know for sure.

The rain has stopped (see I told you it wouldn’t amount to much) and I can’t even enjoy the reflection of droplets suspended on silken webs. The sky is leaden and grey and no brave beams break through to illuminate.

Do I write of memories long since dead, locked away in musty old houses filled with scurrying feet and muted wings? No, I think I’ll not go down that path today. Maybe when I’m old (and not just gray), when the memories seem as if they belong to someone else. Besides, I’m no good with ghost stories, I scare too easily.

Shoo, little spider, I’m trying to write.

The rain is back: steady, small drops. Maybe I was wrong after all. Maybe it will be enough. Enough to feed, to renew, to refresh. Maybe it will wash the cobwebs from my mind, replacing their dense weavings with something lighter, airier, brighter – like Indra’s Net.

Do I write of brown eyes that light up as he speaks my name? Of a quirky smile and a love that has lasted through thick and thin, pain and joy? No. That isn’t just my tale, it is his, too, and I have no right to tell it alone.

Do I write of floppy-eared dogs with crooked smiles and gigantic hearts? No, I wouldn’t know how to write it without it becoming cloying, maudlin, nauseatingly sweet. Living everyday with such a beast is joy enough, no need to put it in writing.

Geez, that’s the biggest daddy long-legs I’ve ever seen. You can get off my desk now, thank you.

Do I write of giants and trolls, wizards and dragons, treachery, betrayal, honor, glory, and “ever after”? Of gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, rescues, trials, victories and defeats?

Nah. I think I’ll just make a cup of tea and stare out the window for a while. Let the world write itself today – I’d rather watch the spiders dance in the rain.

(originally posted  at


Why I am a Feminist

April 26, 2012 1 comment

The roots of my feminism run deep.   I was a feminist long before I heard the word or even realized that “feminism” was what I was feeling. As a child, I reacted strongly and viscerally to the idea that women were good enough to teach a child everything they needed to know in life except for religious doctrine: you had to be a male to do that.  An untested boy was the preferred leader for a congregational meeting over a woman with fifty years in the church.

I thought that was one of the stupidest things I’d ever heard in my young life, and it was the foundation for my blossoming feminism.

There were other aspects of our religious life that reinforced my sense of gender-based injustice in the system.  They may seem like little things, but sometimes it is the little things that catch our attention.  As a young woman, I watched my mother fight a battle to allow for women to wear dressy pants to church instead of the requisite dress and panty hose. The way some of the men in the congregation reacted, you would have thought she wanted to attend naked.

As a teen, it was drummed into my head by the young minister that I was responsible for the temptations that my attire might create in a male.  I pointed out to him I could wear a potato sack and someone might find that sexy, and that I was not responsible for how other people respond to me or my clothing.  I also asked why boys weren’t held responsible for any lust their tight jeans or well-styled clothing might incite in young women.  He didn’t really have an answer for that.

But it wasn’t just the seventh century ideas held by the old men at church.  It was the things said and done to women fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment, at supporters of Roe v. Wade, and at every woman who ever walked by a construction sight or outdoor ball game.  As I got older, I saw other examples of systemic injustice that continually fed my feminism.  I am a feminist because I saw too many women in my life beaten, raped, or otherwise abused by men; because women trying their best to raise their children without a man in the house are called “sluts” and “whores”; and because we have elected representatives do things like compare women wanting to abort a dead fetus to livestock.

When half of the global population is treated as “less than” the other half, something is wrong.  And that something has been wrong for a very, very long time.  Women and girls are not property to be sold for hard labor or sex, yet this still happens far too often. Rape victims still have their attire or past sexual history brought into testimony.  It wasn’t until 2009 that a law was signed requiring equal pay for equal work. The fact that websites like this are needed for women to come together in voicing the sexism they face on a daily basis is why I am a feminist.  Women’s magazines seem to have one rape prevention article per issue, but men’s magazines don’t have articles about how to not be a rapist.  Yet, both men’s and women’s magazines have fashion ads that imply rape to sell high-end jeans. When male Secret Service agents violate their code of conduct, rather than suggest that the “old boys club” clean up their act Congresswomen suggest that this would not have happened if more women were in the trenches (to do what – act as mommy to a bunch of grown men who should already know better?).

While women comprise 51% of the population in this country, we still only hold 16.8% of the seats in Congress.  The issues women face are the issues that all people who are disenfranchised (or marginally enfranchised) face, and they will never be dealt with until adequate representation exists.  Being a feminist is about justice for everyone.  It is about supporting the rights of all people to be treated the same under the law, male, female, and third-gendered alike.

Why am I a feminist?  Because when I see the systemic gender-based violence and injustice around the world, I cannot be anything else.  A better question would be, “Why aren’t you a feminist?”

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