Part 1

In talking about feminists I have known, I tend to divide them into two groups. One group I would describe as “classical feminists,” who thought, “Men have fucked us [women] over; when we get the chance, we will screw them just as badly.”

Historically, until recently, women seldom got the opportunity. Three women from historical records come quickly to mind: Cleopatra, Elizabeth I of England, and Catherine the Great of Russia.

Cleopatra famously fooled around with Anthony, who lost out in the Roman gang war rumbles of the time; she went down with him. Elizabeth was very tough and coy; defeating the Spanish armada, negotiating with a variety of suitors, while cultivating a cult of virginity (the virginity may have been accurate in fact.) Catherine of Russia proved to be a tough babe in a rough land; conquering enemies in war, holding on to her court (after her husband was deposed and then killed); and taking and casting aside lovers as suited her tastes without much qualm or secrecy.

At this point, as my style, I will embark on an incredibly prolix, tedious, and ignorant essay on the history of modern religious belief, which will eventually get you to the subject of feminist evangelical Christian babes I have known. Feel free to skip to the not so bad part will be helpfully labeled, “Not so bad part, slightly safer to read.”

While my co-worker Maria would probably not wanted to be grouped with babes like Cleopatra, Elizabeth, and Liz; as a very educated woman who majored in history and possessed a wry sense of humor, I suspect she would have reluctantly conceded the resemblance.

As an English major, I was familiar with Henry James, an eccentric writer who wrote dense novels that most people feel they ought to read but probably don’t want to. [Actually, with a little effort on the part of the reader, some of James’ early novels, such as What Maisie Knew, are pretty good, but as James was very bright and very talented, once he put his mind to writing completely unreadable novels, by the end of his life he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. If he had been a competitive runner, James would have been one who ran marathons hundreds of miles from where any other competitor would dream of running in desert landscapes where no human observers would be caught dead watching the race because they would be caught dead period by the Gila monsters and rattlesnakes.

Until later, I was less familiar with Henry’s eccentric and brilliant brother, William James, a philosopher who believed in pragmatism (if i t works, it probably is right); a social scientist who invented experimental psychology (a system for torturing rats and pigeons); and one of the first people to study religious belief from the point of view of social science. In other words, aside from pondering the question of whether religious belief is true (impossible to determine for sure, but probably not) an issue that fretted James quite a bit as he was fairly depressed much of the time and did not want to die any more than most of us, except when he was considering whether to commit suicide, he also contemplated the question: what do religious people actually believe?

Writing in the late 1800s, James noticed that religious belief tended to fall into two schools:

Positive Thinking School: What might be called the “positive thinking school” (Tending toward a belief in a benevolent Loving God who will reward us for existing by granting us life after physical death in a groovy place called Heaven) and:

Humans Are Wicked, Doomed Sinners School:What might be called the “” believing that Christ’s sacrifice will save us from eternal punishment in Hell if we worship God and Christ while constantly bragging about our sinfulness and unworthiness.”

[In keeping with James I am speaking of Christianity here, but similar strains existed in other religions of his time as he was aware.]

A century after William James went to find out for himself if there is any there there (in other words, he croaked), globalism seems to be creeping into the world of religion, in that two main  religions are cohering around the world. Speaking in the late 1900s and early 2000s, writers such as Karen Armstrong (Catholic nun drop-out and author of acclaimed books such as The History of God) have described these trends (my summaries of which would probably make poor Karen puke, though very gently and discreetly, because she is a very gentle, refined woman):

Tolerant, Ecumenical, We Are All Children of One Loving God School and

WE BLOW OURSELVES UP AND YOU WITH US IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE CORRECT GOD OF YOUR OWN FREEE WILL SCHOOL!!!!

(Karen Armstrong herself, describes the second school as “Fundamentalism”]

One of the typical strains of fundamentalism is “obedience to God.” God wants humans to be blindly and unquestionably obedient to Him. A side benefit of this system is that many fundamentalists assign themselves roles as spokespeople for God and then start telling others around them to be obedient to them as religious leaders, political leaders, and so on. In evangelical Christianity (and most other fundamentalist religions), men interpret this chain of command as applying to women being obedient to men (husbands, fathers, and so on).

Just as in the case of political leaders such as Cleopatra, Elizabeth, and Catherine, some fundamentalist women are not inclined by temperament and philosophy to be blindly and passively obedient to the men in their lives. In the following sections of this thread I will describe a couple of evangelical Christian women I have known who were by nature feminists and the somewhat amusing (at least to me) turns these contradictions played out in their lives.

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Then I met Maria. She was a social studies teacher; she was very interested in international relations; she traveled the world. She was intelligent, and dark and pretty in a Southern European sort of way. Her parents were from Croatia.

She was also a fierce feminist. Neither Kip nor I were over the top sexist pigs, but occasionally we would make piggy joking remarks, and Maria would take us severely to task.

However, Maria also had a charming, wry, self-effacing sense of humor. She told me once about going to the Portland Zoo with her mother and father. The lions were “getting it on,” at the time. She was telling me about how conservative her Croation mother was.

“My mother turned to my father and me in bewilderment, and asked what the lions were doing,” she said.

I didn’t ask if she knew how she was conceived with a mother in such denial about the facts of life.

In high school, Maria told me, the quarterback of the football team had chosen her to be his girl friend. To me, Maria was attractive enough that I could imagine that happening, but Maria indicated she was surprised and shocked when football star woo’ed her. In any case, apparently, after that experience, Maria had decided she was oppressed by dominant males.

At the time I met her, she had a gentleman friend, named John. John was very intelligent. He was a professor of Internation Relations at a university in the Portland area. He was distinguished. He specialized in the Middle East. When Henry Kissenger was Secretary of State, he hired John to be Assistant Undersecretary of Something.

Maria told me, “Every so often, John has an ‘audience’ with Secretary Kissenger. He hates these meetings.”

She told me, “I picked John for my boyfriend because he is not very demanding. In fact, I picked him because he just doesn’t give me any shit.”

Maria also made it clear she was not big on the institution of marriage, as it was mostly a way for men to oppress women. Maria’s sister was married, and she made it clear she did not particularly think much of that relationship. She indicated she had no intentions of marrying John or anyone, ever.

The next summer, Maria and John went on a trip around the world. They were serious about not being “tourists.” Every so often, I would get a postcard or a photograph from a country such as India. They rode as regular passengers with ordinary Indian citizens  on trains with the people across India. They did not want to be seen as “ugly Americans” by riding in separate compartments with the other American tourists.

A few days before Maria was due to return from her trip around the world I accidentally encountered (new to me) somebody who knew Maria. During the conversation, she said, “Maria and John will be arriving at the PDX (Portland airport) in a few days. I am going to meet her there. I am looking forward to meeting her husband.”

I said, “Maria is not married.”

She said, “Yes, she is. She got married on the trip.”

Flabbergasted, I said, “Maria told me that she intended never to get married.”

She replied, “I don’t know about that. All I know is that Maria and John got married on the trip.”

When Maria actually got back, she wore no wedding ring and said not a word to me or Kip about being married for a least a month or more. I think we never said to her, “I thought you were never going to get married.” Somehow she “merged” the fact that she was married into our working relationship without every making it apparent that her views on marriage had changed.

Eventually, she and John had a couple of children, and bought and remodeled a large house in Portland. I believe my daughter and her partner and I visited them once at their house and met their children.

While I haven’t kept in touch with her, I have looked her up on the web a couple of times. She has become president for a while of an organization promoting international relations in the Portland area. Apparently, she and John are still married. (Happily, I hope.)

To this day, I remain bemused and rather entranced by the memory of the woman who was such a strong feminist that she kept it a secret when she got married.

I don’t know how much longer I will keep posting on my blog. However, there are stories I always meant to tell and while I am still alive I will maunder on about them to my three or four readers…David, Trucie-woo, Waxing Strange, perhaps Pete, though I don’t know if he is still reading. Mommy? Not many left. Before I get to the first feminist, I will talk about the science fiction high school class we taught.

First, I met with the vice-principal, My Ylvisaker. Later, I learned that Kip referred to him (with genial good humor) as “Mr. Evilseeker.”

I had been laid off from my job as a high school teacher in Seattle. Angry, I vowed to leave the state and we drove to Oregon. I visited Hood River. Fortunately, they didn’t hire me. It is a cold and dangerous place.

Then I visited Tigard, a suburb of Portland. Mr. Ylvisaker told me their alternative education program, Alternative Futures, needed a replacement teacher. It was clear that he had no idea where he would find someone strange enough to fit in with the other two teachers, Kip and Maria. It only took me a few minutes to communicate that I was weird enough.

He said, “We also have a “mass media” program. Can you teach that?’

I didn’t tell him that my wife and I had given up on television, and thought it healthier to raise a child with books instead of the tube. I silently vowed to buy a television set.

Then I met with Kip, an engineer from Tacoma who became a high school math teacher. In those days, engineers made blueprints by hand and pen rather than with CAD programs on computers. Kip not only printed well, like an architect, but Maria and I agreed that when Kip  wrote on the chalkboard, he displayed “happy writing.” Just a few lines on the board cheered up the entire classroom. We never figured out how he did it.

Kip introduced me to his cats. I learned that he and Maria and a journalism teacher had created a program called “Alternative Futures” to prepare young people for a changing future. I later learned that Kip had fallen in love with one of his students, Karen. It is a big no no for high school teachers to diddle their students. I knew one teacher who was fired for kissing a student. However, as one of my fellow male teachers said to me once in the teacher’s room, “When I look at those fresh young female bodies, I am terribly tempted. However, when those fresh young female bodies open their mouths and speak to me, all temptation disappears.”

The year I arrived, Karen was gone. She had traveled to Ecuador to learn Spanish and do good deeds. Everyone knew that Kip and Karen were in love, but they didn’t cross the lines. When I met Karen, later, she was cute, but no bodacious. In fact, I realized, Kip had fallen in love with her mind, though I am sure he liked her body well enough. She started college; Kip got her father’s permmission to “court her;” eventually they married. I think I attended the wedding. I lost all touch with Kip.

To be continued…

Hen Pecked

November 14, 2010

 

Most people who keep chickens around here only keep hens. There are a lot of problems with roosters. Not just the crowing in the middle of the night. They don’t live that long. They are vicious and jealous as well, When my wife and I affectionately pet our three hens (who are now all laying eggs), they all “assume the position”; that is, they squat down so the rooster (which they think we are) can mount them.

If we had a rooster and he observed us petting our chickens (which we do affectionately) he would be outraged and likely attack us in a fury. “That’s one of my harem you blankety-blank!” he would scream. An outraged rooster can do a lot of damage.

Lots of people around here keep chickens; most of us avoid having roosters. For various reasons lots of people hatch or purchase small chicks that turn out to be roosters. It’s hard to tell the difference. People also become very sentimental about their chickens; they don’t want to eat or cull the roosters.

I dropped off some stuff today at a local recycling center. They often have chickens wandering the center. Hmm…they all look kind of big; they look like roosters, I thought today.

I asked the manager, “Don’t you lose some of your chickens to predators, letting them wander around free like that? I have some chickens, but they are really safely caged in.”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Those these have been around for a year or so; that’s pretty good. My hens at home are well protected, but I don’t worry about the roosters here at the center. People hate to kill their roosters, so they just drop them off here at the recycling center.” Her shrug eloquently said, Where they have to survive on their own.

So remember when you drop off a nice couch at your local thrift center; it better be able to take care of itself when the coyote, raccoons, and eagles come around and start scratching the furniture

Chipmunks are very cute. They are cuter than rats. Nobody considers rats cute, so nobody minds if we put out rat traps. Some people consider squirrels cute, but quite a few people spot them as rats with furry tails, so they are at some risk of being shot. Also, squirrels have a lot of attitude, and scold a lot.

My former hairdresser’s father-in-law was so irritated by a scolding squirrel that he grabbed a rifle and shot at a scolding squirrel in a tree just outside his house. unfortunately, he shot through a window he thought was open but he had forgotten the window was closed. Naturally, that was entirely the squirrel’s fault that his window was shattered, The squirrel even lived to scold another day. Perhaps it was a female squirrel, now that I think about it.

Not every land has chipmunks. As far as I know England and Australia have no chipmunks, though at least one pet store in Australia sells them as pets. Beware!

There are lots of chipmunks in America, and a few in Siberia, who wander south to lands like Japan and Korea, perhaps to escape the Siberian tigers and the snow leopards who probably think they make nice snacks, rather like the lynx David once observed.

Chipmunks are very cute, thus in great demand as cartoon characters. Chipmunks eat raspberries and blueberries and boysenberries, thus the Friendly Neighbors and the Randoms trap the chipmunks with rat traps. Once the trap is sprung, they are no longer cute. They are dead rodents.

A few days ago, Mrs. Random and I went into town on a few errands. In particular we needed to get a new land line telephone. Out ancient telephone was putting out a lot of static. The last time Random Daughter called she expressed a lot of concern about the static. I hope she realized that the static is coming from the phone and not from her dad.

Although we are now old fogies, Mrs. Random and I both own cell phones (mobile phones). However, mobile phones don’t work on our five acres. They don’t work because there are not enough cell phone towers on our part of the island. There are not enough cell phone towers because people who want to preserve nature would rather look at hills covered with fir trees than at cell phone towers. The cell phone companies build towers to look like hills, but the preservationistd are not happy with imitation hills.

Anyway, we needed a new land line telephone, so we found ourselves in a store owned by Radio Shack, a company I once worked for for a bit, part time. (You don’t want to know. However, we parted ways peacefully, not always the case in many of my jobs.)

While we were examining cheap wired land line phones, a woman in her fifties came into the store in some distress. It took a while to make sense of her ravings, but eventually we realized that she had seen a chipmunk in our truck. Puzzled, my wife and I followed her outside, where she pointed at a chipmunk’s head . Actually, it was under the truck with its head pointing out through the grill under the hood. Indeed it looked very cute. It was obvious to us that one of the many chipmunks on our property on our five acres in the woods had crawled up into the engine and hitched a ride into town.

One of the employees, an agreeable and helpful young man in his twenties, offered to catch the chipmunk and free it from the truck.

“No!” cried the woman in distress and indignation. “Don’t touch it or handle it any way!. It doesn’t live here!” Obviously, she was worried that the chipmunk could not survive in town.

It was clear that the woman was very sentimental about chipmunks. What she wanted us to do was drive back the five miles to our property so the chipmunk could safely dismount and return to its nest.

I politely thanked her for her concern and we went inside and bought a new phone (which seems to work fine).

I did not tell her that when we returned home we would set out a rat trap for the cute chipmunk. Actually, when we got home we examined the engine of our truck carefully using a flashlight. There was no sign of the chipmunk. I presume it had dismounted in town. I hope it followed the woman home. Obviously, they deserve each other.

The Friendly Neighbors are not home right now. They are traveling in Germany on a church tour visiting religious sites with fellow church members. They are very religious and kindly people and they do many good deeds on a daily basis. However, the Friendly Neighbor is 1/4 Sioux Indian. One of his ancestors was Crazy Horse, a famous Sious Warrior. This may account for his skill and fierceness in hunting creatures who consume his berries, such as bunnies, chipmunks and robins.

When the Friendly Neighbors return from their trip I will tell them story of the chipmunk and its ride to town under our truck and the concerned woman. I am fairly sure they will be as wickedly amused as I am by the entire incident.

Not Ripe

July 9, 2010

Not Ripe

It is summer, it is hot, and the garden is beginning to bear fruit. We have pretty much finished picking the strawberries. The raspberries and boysenberries are beginning to show color. We are just starting to pick peas, and we have about finished picking the lettuce. We finished picking the spinach, which does not last very long before going to seed, a while back. We have six kinds of apples (on three trees), none of which are quite ripe yet, nor are the Italian prune plums.

One of the things about gardening is the acceptance that most of what we grow will get ripe when it is ready to be ripe. Picking it too early is likely to lead to an unpleasant taste and perhaps even an upset stomach.

The same thing is true of technology. Years ago, I worked for and with companies that were developing new technologies in both hardware and software. For example, I worked with some of the first laser printers to come on the market (produced by Apple and Adobe). I was working for a quick printing company and many of our customers wanted to save money by producing their own “camera-ready” copy. The first Apple LaserWriter did not work very well. The first software to prepare documents for preparing books and advertisements and brochures did not work well.

My jobs in the early days of the industry were low level and my skills were primitive. I worked with engineers and programmers who were much smarter and more sophisticated than I was. I remember all of us spending hours trying to get mediocre and not-ready technology to work. I remember spending hours with people selling us hyped technology that just would not work. For example, the first LaserWriter could not feed paper properly and maintain decent registration for color printing jobs. Pagemaker, the first desktop printing program, could not handle multi-page jobs or projects involving complex combinations of text and pictures.

Eventually, as the products matured and went through several versions, they began to work properly. I remember saying to my co-workers (for I was a gardener even then), “Technology is like fruit, it is going to get ripe on its own time. If we try to use a product before it is ripe, it is like trying to eat an apple before it is ripe. We will just make ourselves sick to our stomach.”

Although I was never very sophisticated about technology, for a while I could pretty much keep up with what was going on. Recently, I have let myself drift behind. When Mama (my daughter) and Mommy(her partner) switched their stereo to an iPod, we grumbled and said we were sticking with our old-fashioned stereo and CD-player and amplifier.

But much of what I listen to as I exercise on the treadmill at home or on the torture devices at the gym now comes as “podcasts.” My credit union, although an excellent organization overall, has become as addicted to gimmicks as banks, so they offer premiums for the use of their credit card. Painful experience has taught me that most of the premiums consist of fancy junk that does not work well, but I never learn.

Even though we only use our credit card where it is safer and more convenient than our debit card, and pay it off in full each month, I do accumulate “reward” points. I decided to spring on choosing an mp3 player. It’s essentially an iPod (as is Microsoft’s Zune), but a little cheaper. So far they have sent me two mp3 players. Neither works worth shit and I have sent both back and await the third, complaining loudly to a vice-president of the credit union who manages the gimmick program. I am a pain in the ass and I suspect he deserves me.

(My daughter’s iPod does work a little better, but I’ve hard her grumbling about having difficulties and problems with it.)

Once again, I find myself getting a stomach ache from technology that is not ripe.

(Part 2 of the visit to Mary from Peru.)

Random Granddaughter is beginning to integrate with adult society. Although RG was appalled and horrified by the delicious Peruvian food Mary prepared for us, she politely took a bite of the vegetables and rice Mary served in her lovely apartment and ate some of the cilantro’d chicken Mary served.

Although she was bored by the adult conversation, she sat politely, merely helping herself to use one of Mary’s combs to use to comb her doll’s hair as she ignored the adult conversation. As the doll is based on a Williamsburg little girl, RG’s distraction was a deft way to bring the conversation around to her recent trip to colonial Williamsburg (while visiting her “East Coast” grandparents). As a budding artist, our granddaughter was most interested in watching how they made red paint. RG found it charmingly gross that they crush 70,000 cochineal beetles (from South America!) to generate a useful quantity of red dye.

Medical Lunacy

April 21, 2010

Dental Worries.

It makes me nervous when things go well. My wife was very worried about a sore tooth. (Actually, she is very worried we will go broke now that we don’t have dental insurance, but this is how she expresses her financial fears. On the other hand, she spends lots of money on compost for the garden, sunflower seeds for the bird feeder, and she just brought home a big bag of chicken feed for the baby chicks that have not hatched yet.)

Anyway, the dentist told her she doesn’t have a terrible dental disaster and there is a cheap fix. However, she is not to drink anything hot or chew anything crunchy for a day or so. She is much relieved because she was expecting to have to write a check which would cause her gums to bleed all the way home.

Blood Pressure Worries.

My blood pressure, after being much better for several years, has started creeping up. However, my doctor told me he had taken me off a medication because he was worried that my blood pressure might go to low.

However, my HMO’s computer has gone bonkers. It has been sending me late bills now for six months (with polite notes that say, in more discreet language) Our computer is bonkers and we don’t know how to fix it.

It just sent me a notice that I need another colonoscopy. I had one two years ago. At the time, they told me, “You don’t need another one for five years.”

I just emailed my doctor and told him where he can put his colonoscopy. Actually, I was very polite, but I did say I had just gotten used to pricking myself once a week to draw blood to test my insulin level, and wasn’t quite ready to move to the next level of senior self abuse. I also asked him if there was a light at the end of the tunnel in regard to the HMO’s computer problems?

I now have joked with the eye surgeon who did my cataract surgery. In fact, years ago, I joked with the surgeon who did my vasectomy. I frequently joke with my dentist. Just to get ready, does anybody know any good colonoscopy jokes? Clean ones, please.

Losing My Mind Worries

I have graduated from sending $5 & $10 CAREing postal mail packages to people such as David, Waxing Strange, and an evangelical Christian (who is losing her husband and her house) to working on a present for a certain lady in Australia (or somewhere in that part of the world). However, today I stopped at the United States Post Office to look into shipping and customs and other inconvenient details. I am now in a state of shock. My present may have to travel by iceberg or penguin or Great White Shark. It may also take years to get there. Don’t hold your breath, dear lady. I am 66 years old and I don’t remember what I am doing from one day to the next.

Building an escape ladder into the chicken coop

Chicken House Under Construction

If our current project were a film, it would probably be called, “Laurel and Hardy Build a Chicken House. Nevertheless, much of the frame is now up. The baby chicks arrive at the end of April.

I hate the Olympics. I once watched it with fascination and enjoyment, but when I see Olympia walk into the bar, I feel like getting up and walking out. Except, I was at the gym, and the event went a little differently than I expected.

George: “Greetings! This is George Snow Snorkle broadcasting from British Columbia for the all-commercials Winter Olympics/Global Warming/Canada has egg all over its face/British Columbia declares bankruptcy/Olympic coverage. We have a remote broadcast from our remote location correspondent, Eman Modnar. Eman, please come in and describe your environment.”

Eman: “It’s a pleasant spring day at my gym, George. I am watching the Spring Olympics on two monitors while I work out on the cross-trainer.”

George: “What event are you watching right now, Eman?”

Eman: “I am watching a commercial. Isn’t this the all-commercial Olympics? Drink beer and stay in shape? No, wait…I think they are showing a few seconds of an event. A bunch of cross-country skiers are throwing themselves down in the snow and shooting! This is exciting!

“It looks like the leading competitor is a Swede. Well,Sweden is famous for being neutral and peace-loving, so it makes sense that a shooting Swede on skis is winning.”

George: “What are they shooting at?”

Eman: “It looks as if they are shooting at a hockey game. Why not? Who cares about a bunch of brutes skating around and crashing into each other and pummeling each other with sticks? Some of the hockey players are dressed in red—they seem to be Russians. And some of them are in red, white, and blue—I bet those are Yankees. Look at that! Look at how they are crashing into each other—looks like the cold war isn’t really over. [Camera cuts away and mike is cut off until remote correspondent gets control of himself and his excessive mirthiness.]

“Wait! Wait! These are women! Who knew? Who knew there were female hockey players? Are they all butch or something! Hey, the biatholonners might as well shoot them. I don’t want to see a female athlete unless she is in a bikini and dancing on ice.

“OK, they’ve switched from the biathlon to the down-hill racers, Here they come! Well, at least here come some body parts. OK, they’re back to commercials. And counting countries and medals. I must say, the modern winter Olympics aren’t anything like the ancient Viking winter Olympics. Give me a Norseman with an ice ax in his hand any time. As I always say, give me a lunge rather than a luge.

George: “Thank you, Eman. Don’t call us; we’ll call you…for the global warming Olympics.”