Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Short Note to Certain Women Concerned About the State of my Underpants


A short note to certain women concerned about the state of my underpants--

It's been brought to my attention often in recent months by women both near to me and from afar on the internets that I need to "just get over it, and put on your big girl panties."

I just wanted to let everyone know that yes, I do have big girl panties. Several pairs, as a matter of fact.

I got my very first pair of junior big girl panties (very like a training bra, I suppose) for having divorced parents and growing up in a low-income single-parent family.

I'd estimate that I graduated to my first full on, total ass-coverage big girl panties when I was still a teenager, paying my way through college one part-time job paycheck at a time in exchange for a full load of university classes.

Over my lifetime, I've collected quite a few big girl panties in the drawer, and at middle age I can claim I've been wearing many of them longer than some of you have even walked this earth. Paying bills and cleaning up the messes. Jobs with long hours, low pay, and bad bosses. Mortgage payments. Taxes. Motherhood. Babies who were born. Babies who died before they were born. C-section scars. Post-partum depression. Children with disabilities. Divorce. Deaths of people I loved with my whole heart. Stuff that isn't even anybody's business.

Some of those panties fell to the bottom of the drawer and I don't have to wear' em much anymore. That's a good thing. Some of them just keep coming to the top of the pile, because, well, sometimes you gotta wear 'em till you wear 'em out. Some of these old worn out knickers I'm even proud of, because I know they mean I survived something worthwhile.

So given the fact I have so many, how in the fruit of anyone's loom did anybody think I'd leave the house without any on?

I didn't.

Now, I'm not talking about my underwear in a public place like a blog post just to show off. And definitely not to complain. Because I believe my entire collection of big girl panties is nothing special. My point is that we as women, all women, have 'em, because nobody's ass escapes living a life. I'd guess that my collection of big girl panties looks a lot like many other women's, but I also know that a lot of women's big girl panty wardrobes are different. Some have a lot more pairs, for one thing, and some of those underpants are definitely a lot more uncomfortable or even painful to wear than what I've had to deal with. Some women have big girl panties we wouldn't even guess they own, but they've got 'em, shoved down in a corner of the drawer where they won't be seen if anyone goes snooping. Every woman has big girl panties they bought all on their own, on purpose or by mistake, and they've had a few (or many) given to them that they had to put on whether they liked it or not. Not a single one of us escapes having a drawer of big girl panties, whether they came to us by choice or by chance.

So when approximately a million or so women (and a whole lotta men too) all over the country take the trouble and time out of their busy underwear-folding schedule--WHATEVER kind of underwear that happens to be--to exercise their First Amendment rights "peaceably to assemble, and petition the government for redress of grievances" (That's the foundation garment called the Constitution, y'all), you're gonna tell them it's time to put their big girl panties on? Well bless your heart and thanks for caring. How in the hell did you think they all got dressed that morning? Same as I did. Same as you did. Same as we all did. Big girl panties first. Which is why labeling another woman's experience as childish, at that event or at any other time, just in order to feel validated about the contents of your own and different pile of personal laundry, is very little girl itself. Very grade school pee-pee pants, indeed.

It should go without saying that my big girl panties have been on, sturdy, and hitched way up, this whole time, before anyone decided to make it their business. Unless it's really hot outside, and I'm just out lounging on the back patio. Then I'm probably going commando and drinking bourbon. Which maybe some folks should try sometime, instead of being all uptight about the state of someone else's underwear drawer that they've never seen anyhow.

Good day, ladies.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Note to the Republic, for which I Stand.


“The world has been abnormal for so long that we've forgotten what it's like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.” 
― Madeleine L'Engle, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

I hardly know where to begin, even with Madeleine's very good quote considered. Because I've spent the last six weeks trying to decide if this blog should stand as a refuge from every ugly thing that's happened since the national election, or not. Refuge is a necessary thing when bad news seems to permeate an increasingly out-of-control world. We need to be able to get distance to think, gather strength, comfort ourselves with the familiar and the routine. When does it become escapism, willful ignoring, closing the door on those civic duties to which we are called, and to fellow citizens who need our voices? I do not know. I only know that increasingly, the answer to those questions may become very, very important. So while this blog has been a personal narrative about me and my home life, I couldn't pretend that the last months of our national discourse hasn't had me deeply worried. I would like this place to be as it always has, and if that's a refuge to me or others, that's a good thing. But I also don't want it to be a bubble. Because bubbles are fragile, and I refuse to be that. So here I am, struggling through this post as I've struggled through the last months of this politically grim year.

Right now, I am operating from these two positions.

1. I am repossessing patriot as a word that defines me, because I am. I am a patriot. I love my country, and I believe in the ideals towards which we have been imperfectly and at times violently struggling for well over two centuries. I believe that at all times, that means criticizing the hell out of it--where it's failed, where the people who claim to lead it have failed, when its citizens are failing to hold its government accountable. Everyone from Thomas Jefferson two hundred years ago down to the anonymous protester on the street corner yesterday has this right and responsibility. To the people who have said to me in the past months "if you don't like it, you can just leave....": Fuck no, I'm not leaving. My people have been in various ways always here (native peoples), since 1749 (Irish Protestants escaping religious violence in Belfast), or here since the 1880s (Germans living in the Ukraine, fleeing Russian oppression). My family members fought wars on this soil and abroad to defend this country's ideals. I am not going. I am not going to be quiet. 

2. I'm going to continue to love the people I love. Only I'm gonna do it louder. My circle of family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors includes people who don't think like me, believe like me, vote like me, or look like me. I think that's pretty well the whole point. This country has never, ever, in its entire history, been just one story about one kind of people who are exactly alike. That this republic is constructed of millions of individual stories, that they can encompass a broad range of human experience and thought, and still come together under one ideal, "We the People"-- is not just our struggle (and it has been) but it has also been our triumph when we get it right. And we do, often enough, get it right. That is worth fighting for. Right now, loving (in all the ways we define it) the people who are not just like me may not be only an act of love. It will be an act of solidarity. It will be an act of protection. It will be at times an act of civil protest. So I'm going to love. Out loud. Hard.

Stay and speak. Love loudly. That's what I have right now. I hope it is enough. I hope it is enough for all of us. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Tackling the Sad Porch (Part Two)


This is going to be the quickest of quicky "during" project posts, because the truth is I'm avoiding beginning the housework and baking that needs to be done for 12+ Thanksgiving guests. But that's the way I usually roll. Procrastination is the last refuge of the lazy and introverted. And I am both.

The sad porch, as it turns out, was sadder than Tom and I thought.


I think the only thing holding it up on one of the corners was inertia and habit. A badly done roof job and an absence of a proper gutter aimed rain water straight at the foundation of the porch, and a series of wet summers had turned the foundation to weak wood-fiber sponge. It was a little scary.

Tom started in tearing it back to the studs so he could see what needed replacing. (He is the hero of this story, by the way). After shoring up the rotten parts with solid, dry, new supports, he re-sided the outside. We left the windows in place, because tearing it completely out wasn't in the plan, if we could avoid it.


It seems like such a small start in this photo, but the clean, primed siding looked so much better than the old rot it seemed a little miraculous at the time.


Here's Tom at work doing trim. Notice the repaired fascia/roofline. It was beginning to look marginally attractive at this point, even with so much left to do.


Uh, yeah. The interior also needed love. Lots and lots of love. We used the same siding vertically in the inside of the porch as inexpensive paneling.


We also stained several miles of it to use as the interior porch ceiling. 



We really earned our bourbon (er, lemonade) that day. 

Here is the porch ceiling going in: 


Painting has commenced in this photo, but we're still working out little trim, caulking, and interior details. 


And now I must go pretend I like housecleaning. I'll be back post-T-day with the "after" of the screen porch project. In the meantime, I wish you all plenty of turkey, gravy, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, and football, or whatever makes it your four-day weekend of bliss. See you soon!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Sad Porch (Part One)


It is true that I did not completely lead with my practical mind when I bought Ruth (my house). I'm a romantic about houses, and of course that's dangerous to one's sanity and bank account. 

One of her many charms is that she has a screen porch. Screen porch! For Midwesterners, this is a short form of saying "my house allows me to be outside in the summer without being eaten alive by mosquitoes." Also, "my house has a room that becomes a walk-in refrigerator/freezer just in time for the holidays, and thank goodness, because there's no room to put Aunt Lydia's cranberry jello salad in the fridge."

That's where the practical side ends. Screen porches on old houses should also be like a misty, out-of-focus photo from a back issue of Victoria Magazine. They should have vases of fresh flowers, and white wicker, and ladies with dark hair (that would be me) reading Edith Wharton while sipping lemonade from vintage glassware. 

But I have described my screen porch's quality and construction before, thusly: two guys got drunk on a couple of cases of Natty Light and decided to build a screen porch out of whatever shit they could find laying around. 

About as far from Edith Wharton and fresh flowers as you can get. Add to this a smelly fungal sponge of an old carpet, and sickly shades of "old bruise" mauve and dirty pink beige paints, and it was pretty depressing. And frequently in the beginning used to store stuff during ongoing home-improvement issues elsewhere. 


I am not proud. 

I would also like to mention, for posterity, the clusters of fake plastic ivy the previous owners hung up there to make it festive. 


Over the last five years, I was basically putting lipstick on the pig by painting out the murky purple with leftover paint from other projects, and telling myself that keeping it clean and tidy out there was enough. 


But I saw rot on the exterior siding of the porch and knew it was just a matter of time before I was going to have to get serious about it. Then along came the new dude in my life, and one day this summer Tom took a crowbar to the outside of it. 


It was just as bad as I thought, and worse. And it ended up being what we (and by we I mostly mean he, because he totally wore the superhero cape on this one) worked on for the better part of our summer weekends. 

I'll be back with a progress/part two post soon!