Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Living a sensual life

I consider myself a sensual person. Merriman-Webster's definition of the word is "relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses."

I see it more as an awareness of color, smell, taste, touch, sound to enrich my life.

It is being thrilled when I bite into a juicy plum. I shared some this week with my landlords and they returned my bowl with fresh cherries. Not only do the cherries taste great, their color makes my eyes happy. My tongue circles their round hardness. I roll them around in my mouth until I free the seed. It feels harder still. When I spit it out, I admire the various tones.

When I see the cherries I am reminded of the drive to Ceret in the spring where the cherries come from. We passed orchards pinkish with the blossoms. I imagine the smell, sweet, but we've never stopped. I am reminded of the apple blossom smell from the apple trees on the land I grew up on.

My patio has not only a jasmine plant, tickling my nose, a friend has given me lavender which I place on my brown wooden table that feels hot from the sun when I touch it. I inhale deeply as the two strong smells meld together creating their own perfume.

I iron my pjs. Yes, you read that right. There is a warm smell when the iron slides over the fabric and the material caresses my body more softly when I wear them. Unironed clothes have a different feel, a roughness that brings different sensations but I prefer the smooth as I snuggle in bed. On cold nights we have an electric under sheet that prewarms the bed. My muscles almost smile as the heat carasses my back and legs.

I search for color everywhere: not just flowers, but on all things that that cross my vision: cars, houses, walls, stones, animals, the different tones in my puppy's fur. This isn't deliberate. It just happens.

I enjoy the sounds of the village: The church bells, the garbage men slamming the empty bins down, the mumble of neighbors walking by, the sea gulls cry, the wheels of a suitcase as people come and go.

My husband right now is organizing and I hear the shuffle of devices and a zipper being closed. There is a distant whir of the dishwasher running.

Some may think that a bombardment of senses is distracting, but it isn't. It tells me I'm alive and life is wonderful.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

It won't stop

“Almost half of American women have terminated at least one pregnancy, and millions more Americans of both sexes have helped them, as partners, parents, health-care workers, counselors, friends.” Katha Pollitt May 1997 The Atlantic.

Ever since a woman missed her period, across every culture throughout time, there have been abortions.

Making abortion illegal is useless. It will continue no matter how many laws are passed. Women, who do not want a baby for any number of reasons, will find a way to end their pregnancy. Legal or illegal doesn’t matter.

The more I researched the topic of American abortions prior to 1973 to write Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles, I realized the topic is almost endless. I’ve searched scholarly studies, newspaper articles, TV programs, websites, court documents and first-person accounts and interviews. The more I searched, the more I’ve discovered.

For every woman who has decided to have an abortion, there is a back story.

The idea that overturning Roe v. Wade will stop abortion is as impossible as saying by next Monday there will be a second sun next to the current one.

I want to send this book to every legislator and every person who thinks outlawing abortion is the answer. The same energy in making it easier to prevent pregnancy, a far better solution.

Physical Abortion Methods Mentioned in Historical Documents/Art
The methods of premodern abortion are varied with various degrees of efficiency and results:
·       Blood letting
·       Climbing
·       Coconut heated and then laid on the stomach
·       Diving
·       Fasting
·       Girdle tightening
·       Hot water poured on the abdomen
·       Jumping up and down, touching the buttocks with the heels at each leap
·       Miscarriage-encouraging drugs
·       Pressure on the abdomen
·       Sitting over a pot of steam
·       Sitting over a pot of stewed onions
·       Candles shoved in the cervix (no reference on whether they were lit or not)
·       Any pointed device shoved into the vaginal canal
·       Water flushed into the uterus
·       Liquids of many types some that burned the vaginal cavity beyond recognition
·       Foreign objects that would create an infection if left in the vaginal canal
Surgical attempts were less frequently found but they did exist.

Oral Abortifacients
What women will put in their mouths or up their vaginas to end a pregnancy is horrifying, especially when many of the treatments are poisonous. To them, the risk was better than bearing a child at that moment.
Over the centuries plants and metals have been used to bring on abortions alone or in combinations with varying effectiveness including:

·       Birthwort
·       Cyprus
·       Diachylon, a mixture of lead and plant juices
·       Dill
·       Ergot*
·       Galen
·       Gin
·       Hellebore, white and black
·       Iron chloride
·       Iron sulfate
·       Italian catnip
·       Lavender
·       Opium
·       Pennyroyal
·       Potassium permanganate tablets
·       Rue
·       Sage
·       Savin (juniper)
·       Savory
·       Scammony
·       Soapwart
·       Slippery elm
·       Spanish fly
·       Squirting cucumber
·       Tansy
·       Tea marjoram
·       Thyme
·       Turpentine
·       Watercress seed
·       Worm fern or prostitute root
·       Spanish fly
*Ergot, a fungus found on rye was most often used by doctors, nurses, midwives and others for abortion. In the late stage of labor, it reduces hemorrhaging, blood loss and postpartum. The negative effect is that it causes unremitting contractions. If the fetus did not move as expected, the drug could cause the uterus to mold itself around the child, rupturing the uterus and killing the child and/or the mother.

Extreme Oral Abortifacients
Other remedies for unwanted pregnancies flash thru historical references. The list may show the desperation to have an abortion. They include:
·       Black-tailed deer dissolved in fat
·       Camel Saliva
·       Crushed ants

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Coat Hangers, etc.

Chapter 1 of Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles: 
Tragedies of Abortion in America Before Roe v. Wade

A Victorian Woman Speaks

My grandmother, Florence Stockbridge Sargent, Dar to everyone who knew her, was the perfect Victorian lady. Even in the early1960s she would never leave the house without her hat, gloves and corset.

I couldn’t imagine her having sex, and that is not a grandchild’s lack of imagination. She bragged that her husband had never seen her naked, but they must have had sex at least three times because she had three children.

She repeated the story of helping at the birth of her nephew, Lawrence. Her sister-in-law was in agony.

“You are next Mrs. Sargent,” the doctor was reported to have said.

“Not until I forget tonight,” my grandmother claims to have replied.

She must have forgotten. My Uncle Gordon was born in 1910, his sister Lois in 1915.She died during her first year in my grandmother’s arms, cause unknown, but she had failed to flourish.

My mother was the replacement child in 1917.

Anxious to preserve my purity, my grandmother cautioned me on the proper distance on the dance floor with a boy. After I had dated my future husband for several months while a sophomore in high school, she asked if he’d ever kissed me. When I nodded, she asked, “On the mouth?” I did not go into our petting sessions in his 1950 green Chevrolet.

Thus, when my grandmother referred to the “knitting needle” method of birth control, I was shocked not that she said it, but with the same way she would have said, “It’s time for bed,” or “What will we have for dinner tonight?”

Sex was somehow not all right, but abortion, when necessary was. My teen brain didn’t understand.

The mores of the time, was that good girls didn’t have sex. Part of it in our middle-class existence was described by Marilyn French, that a virgin had a chance to attract a better husband if she had a “factory-fresh hymen.”

Good girls did have sex and good girls did get pregnant, more because even though oral contraceptives were approved in 1960, doctors were not allowed to prescribe them by law to unmarried women. They also could not talk about older methods such as diaphragms and rhythm.

Women told and retold an unfunny joke “Question: What do you call a woman who practices rhythm? Answer: Mother.”

Information about Intrauterine Devices (IUDs), which had been around for centuries had been improved until failure rates hovered about 0.8% with copper devices and even less 0.2% with the hormone levonorgestrel. These too, were off limits to married women.

Before I married I knew better to try our family Dr. Halligan who’d seen me thru childhood diseases and poison ivy. He resembled an aging Irish Leprechaun and when he walked into the room, his patient automatically felt better.

I did try Dr. Land. Even a Woolworth’s wedding ring did not fool him. The law served its purpose: I stayed pure until I was married.

As we went thru the sixties and into the seventies, I had friends struggle to find someone to provide birth control to unmarried women. They were braver than I was and when they were caught, tried methods from riding horseback to throwing themselves downstairs. They resorted to do-it-yourself chemical methods to seeking an abortionist that might or might not kill them.

The other alternative was to marry. We planned one friend’s wedding when we were at university. She could not face an abortion, more from fear than conviction. About an hour before the wedding, she got her period and cancelled the wedding much to her and the groom-to-be’s relief.

Much has improved over the years. Birth control is available as is abortion. Yet many years later, the right of a woman to control her body is under threat once again.

Abortion is a horrible choice. Women who have had abortions do not make that decision easily. Some of have confided, “My child would be ten now.” Yet asked if they would do it again under the same circumstances, a large percentage would.

This book looks at what it would be like to go back to the bad old days, when the solution to an unwanted pregnancy (especially if birth control is harder to get) would be like.

One thing is certain. If abortion is not available legally, a woman who wants an abortion will find a way to do it illegally or to herself. The only thing that is not certain, will it be safe or will it kill her too?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles

Coat Hangers & Knitting Needles
Tragedies of Abortion in America Before Roe v Wade

The landmark US Supreme Court decision in favor of legal abortion did not affect the number of babies delivered in the years following; there was, however, a drastic decline in maternal mortality.

There has always been abortion on demand for those women who do not feel they can have a baby, either by do-it-yourself with drugs or by instrument self-inflicted or assisted. There always will be abortion on demand. If abortion becomes illegal again, women will once again seek the backrooms, the motels, the shacks, the coat hangers and knitting needles. The only difference will be when abortion is illegal, will the mother die too?

Based on extensive research, including interviews with documentary filmmakers and activists, D-L Nelson describes the crusade against botched illegal abortions through the personal stories of the women who suffered, those who preyed upon or vilified them, and doctors and clergy who cared enough to get the laws changed. From Sarah Grosvenor, at the center of one of the first abortion trials in the New World ... to popular children's TV star Miss Sherri ... to Madame Restell ("the wickedest woman in New York") ... Anthony Comstock, Lawrence Lader, Bill Baird, Curtis Boyd, David Grimes, Henry Morgentaler ... the Clergy Consultation Service and the Jane Collective ... to Norma McCorvey, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, you'll learn the backstories of men, women and organizations who were key players in the abortion and birth control debate across the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

The book features a detailed timeline of abortion milestones from 3000 BC to the present, plus a bibliography of books, periodicals, films / videos and websites.

This book is not copyrighted. Feel free to take what you need. We can't go back.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How can they

How can he?

How can a man rip children from their mothers and throw them in a cage where they have space blankets but not much more?

Then could he go home and drive his son to Little League and remind his daughter to do her homework? Doesn't he think of kids like his own suffering at his hands?

How can she?

How could a woman drive by a Walmart store knowing it is filled with kids in cages? 

Perhaps she rushed after work, needs to go to the grocery store. After all, they aren't her kids. They aren't even American so who cares. How can she not make the connection?

How can he?

How can a politician tell me if its constitutional, it meets his criteria for okay? 

Atrocities can be legal. Think of the German concentration camps which were legal.

What if it were his children because something added to the constitution such as all legal immigrants be declared illegal allowing the government to imprison his family. The government according to an article 

How can she?

How can Nikki Haley say, "“We will remain a generous country, but we are also a sovereign country, with laws that decide how best to control our borders and protect our people… Neither the United Nations nor anyone else will dictate how the United States upholds its borders.” She was responding to the UN speaking against kids in cages.

What if her daughter Rena and her son Nalin were in cages because the U.S. government decided they needed to correct lack of control of borders earlier Indians admitted to the U.S. 

What danger does she think a five-year old poses to the United States?

How can we?

How can we not imagine how we would we have felt as children, taken away from our parents and kenneled like animals?

How can we who are parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles not look at the kids we love and imagine them in the same situation?

How can we not begin to feel the horror of the parents who have no idea where their children are?

How can we stand by and do nothing?

Friday, June 08, 2018

Driverless anything

My husband and I have an ongoing discussion on driverless cars and planes.

We agree that the technology is incredible.

I will never get in one.


Because no matter how wonderful the technology is, too much can wrong. Think of all the hacking cases or the regular failing of computer systems.

Every time it happens, I say, "SEE!!!" And it happens a lot, with our wifi service provider, our credit union credit cards, etc. etc

Last week I resisted saying "SEE!!!"  when all VISA payment systems were frozen in the UK. I am so proud of myself, but I will not get in a car, bus, plane unless there is a human ,with all the potential of not being perfect, is in control.

Thursday, June 07, 2018


Sleep is not my friend unless I'm in a car when I can not stay awake.

Many nights I fall asleep and wake two hours later for anywhere from an hour to many hours. Knowing that this more normal in Medieval period where it was termed, Little Sleep and Big Sleep doesn't help.

Being single for decades left me alone in bed. I liked that. In my double bed, I could position myself diagonally. If I wanted the light on to read, I could do that.

No one was snoring. As a child, sleeping off my mother's room, I was often kept awake by her snores. For the short time I lived with my father and stepmom, his snores not only kept me awake they almost rattled the water glass on the night stand.

My first husband didn't snore (but he might now--who knows). Also as a policemen he often had the 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift leaving the bed to myself.

From time to time I would find myself sharing a bed and I didn't like it all that much. We aren't just talking sex here, this included traveling with a girl friend and our host or hostess saying, "You don't mind sharing a bed, do you?"

I wanted to scream yes, but politeness made me smile and say no.

Now I am married to a wonderful man. Some nights he snores, others, he is so quiet, I touch him to make sure he is breathing.

We do have a snore room that doubles as my office for the nights no matter how he turns, he snores. Yet, I don't always use the escape route.


Because his presence gives me more comfort than quiet. I remember an agony aunt letter once where the wife said she would give anything to have her late husband snoring beside her.

I count my blessings that he is there.