Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Work Days

I'm working again. Just two days a week, for a couple of months. I take tiny plants out of seed trays and put them in small pots. Later, I take the grown plants out of the small pots and put them in bigger pots. They are native trees destined for a farm that a wealthy German industrialist is turning back into native bush. I learn so much from my employer, so it is never boring. I only work on dry days, or maybe when there is an occasional shower, but it can be cold on mornings like yesterday, when my hands became very painful handling the frost-chilled potting mix. I love it: what's not to love about spending your work day in a beautiful garden?

And then, on the way home, a walk on my most favourite beach in the world.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

July Reading

I am finally getting back into reading again: after the cold-like illness that left me severely visually impaired (which led to the discovery that I have Type 2 diabetes)  I stopped reading. As my eyesight improved again, I found reading very tiring, and by the time I could easily read again, I had gotten into the habit of watching tv / Youtube. But I'm reading again, and I am so glad - my own mental pictures are so much more satisfactory than other people's interpretations.

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
Wendy McClure grew up loving Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. Years later, sometime after her mother's death, she found her childhood copy of Little House in the Big Wood and so her adventures began. Over the course of a year, she once again explored 'Laura World', cooking from Laura cookbooks, buying an old butter churn to make butter, and visiting museums and Laura sites. It's not just nostalgia, it's an amusingly written exploration of the differences between the books, the tv series, and the reality of Laura's life. It's also an interesting insight into how favorite books can influence a child's life and ideas right through into adulthood. I now want to read lots more about Laura's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who seems to have lived a fascinating life.

The Glass Butterfly by Louise Marley
A not totally convincing plot line, with a bit of woowoo, some of which annoyed me - magic for the sake of easy explanation tends to do that. And yet I enjoyed this book about a psychiatrist on the run from a murderous client. Some of the woowoo made for an interesting story, and protagonist's character was convincing.

Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge
The author of this crime thriller is a tv writer who has now turned to writing novels, and I think that explains the style - I could easily imagine this being a tv series. It is part of a book series, and a bit dark for me, but although I won't go back to read the previous books, Arlidge has hooked me in sufficiently that I will be looking for the next book when it comes out: he left the main character, DI Helen Grace, in a situation such that I want to find out what happens next.

Flow: Issue 13
This quarterly (plus specials) magazine is one of the two best magazines I've ever read. (The other is the British Permaculture Magazine.) I bought it because it looked pretty and described itself as 'a magazine for paper lovers', of which I am certainly one. I feel like I want three copies: one to keep and re-read, and two to pull apart to use in my craft / art work - two so I can use both sides of every page! It has so much beauty, plus wonderful articles about 'life , the universe and everything'. I haven't quite finished reading it, but so far I have enjoyed every single article. It is the English edition of a Dutch magazine and is delightfully slightly different from English English publications. For example, in the manner of many other such magazines, there is a generous sprinkling of inspirational quotes throughout, but they are quotes I've not heard before, mostly by people I've not heard of before. There are interviews with artists. There's an article entitled "Three takes on: Why do we struggle so much with making decisions?" and the three takes are the views of a social psychologist, an author and a philosopher! It's just different and is helping me see things from slightly different perspectives. I love it.

What to Wear and Do: should anyone but me care or have a say??

A few days ago I read about a woman somewhere in America who was thrown out of a public swimming pool after 'several' people complained about her being too fat and thus spoiling their swimming experience. I can't even begin to express my disgust, not only for the people who complained, but for the management which acted on their complaints.

The next article which got my blood boiling was this one on a site aimed at older people, Sixty and Me, which criticised women for 'showing too much skin', and spoke in derogatory terms of women who exposed cleavage, wore sleeveless tops, or showed their legs. And most of the comments were vicious. Most comments, even some of the 'dress to please yourself' ones, appeared to assume that a woman's dress choice was completely aimed at expressing sexuality, attracting potential sexual partners, or pleasing a current sexual partner. A very few comments spoke of dressing to please oneself and for comfort.

Then today I read an article about a study that suggests women may be at increased risk of "non-malignant breast fibrocystic disease as well as malignant breast cancer," because of restriction of the lymph drainage system. It all got me thinking and fuming.

There seems to be a gradual and grudging increased recognition that, in theory, women should be able to present themselves how they want: to wear what they want without fear of being raped, to not wear a bra, to not shave their armpits or legs or 'have' to wax their pubic hair, etc etc. - it is certainly more acceptable than in 1969 when I stopped being controlled by draconian school uniform rules and started university. However, and maybe this is just my perception as an older woman, it seems to me that the progress made (however small) is only with respect to young women. When I read the comments in the articles above, the negative ones are from women, and and the harshest of all are from older women, many of whom 'asked my husband' what he thought.

I am feeling angry. I am angry with the men who think women should modify their appearance to please men. I am angry with the women who back them up (but who are probably just as savage towards women who succeed in being beautiful and sexy in the way their men like.) I am angry at this world that constantly judges women by their appearance in ways that men are never or rarely judged.

And having vented my anger over the past few days, I have finally come to the realisation that I am also angry with myself and other women like me who don't live what we believe, and thus continue the problem.

I hate wearing a bra, and for a few years when I was in my 20s I didn't wear one - out of work hours. It never occurred to me not to wear one to work, not in those days. Why not? And why do I still wear one? I find them incredibly uncomfortable, they make my back ache (yes, I always get them properly fitted) and in summer, when I sweat, I get a rash from them. At home I don't wear one, but I also make sure I have a baggy shirt close by all the time, in case someone comes to visit unexpectedly. Because how could I subject people to any more evidence of my old, ugly body, right? How stupid.

Except for a very few years in my late teens / early twenties, I have never worn the clothes I liked for fear of drawing attention to myself, of criticism. Now I'm getting old, I am trying to do that, but I constantly see criticism of older women wearing flamboyant clothing, or jeans and t-shirts, or sleeveless tops, or leggings, or short skirts, or long clingy dresses, or long hair or or.....

Then there are the items, not really articles, and memes about wearing what you like: they will often start out saying 'when I get old I will.....' or 'these amazing older women wear......' But the pictures that accompany these are almost invariably of incredibly beautiful older women, and very often very rich women in designer clothes, dripping gold and diamonds, and very often cosmetic surgery - not of ordinary, plain, wrinkly old women of limited means.

As a woman, especially one who has been an unwaged mother / grower of food / maker of stuff / home educator of four sons, I have found myself dismissed as irrelevant by most men, and by most women who have been in paid employment. As an old woman, I find myself even more irrelevant and dismissed by people - invisible even. I am angry with myself, but I still don't have the courage to dress as a crazy cat lady in public, to discard my bra, to dance alone with no one watching without closing the curtains first, to be me and say, 'fuck you world, I don't care if you find me offensive, I'm not getting out of the swimming pool just because you don't like my hairy legs or my stretch marked, saggy skin.'

Actually, I don't even know who 'I' am. I think the only way to find out is to try things on (activities, ideas, and more as well as clothes) and find what fits. But I still care too much what 'they' will say and think. How pathetic is that? How do I get past that?