Sunday, September 30, 2018

A deal

My husband and I made a deal. I will start carrying my French number mobile and he will stop leaving dishes in the sink.

On the dishes: They make the kitchen messy, but leaving them in the sink means double the work. Once to put them there, once to put them in the dishwasher. No, I am not always efficiency crazy.

As for the phone: I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate it. It's heavy adding one more thing to my pocketbook (purse). I am in no danger someone will call me because only my husband will have the number and he better use it only in a life and death emergency, which is the way I will use it (after I've tried everything else).

I do not want to use it to check emails, Facebook, play games or any other app. I spend hours doing that on my computer or Kindle. When I'm away from it, I want to one million percent away from it.

When I am out of the house I DO NOT WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD. If I am buried in the phone, I might not notice a beautiful flower, a mini drama being acted out near me, the color of the sky and what makes up 90% of the enjoyment I feel when I am out of the house. I certainly won't use it when I'm with people.

I made the deal. I will stick to it. The phone is already in my bag. We will need another deal to make me turn it on if I remember how.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Necco wafers

The Boston Globe reported that the Necco factory equipment was going to be sold off.

It was never my favorite candy, preferring anything chocolate such as Snickers of Three Musketeers.  Still every now and then, I would buy a roll ignoring the licorice for the lemon, orange or purple clove.

My memories of Necco are more when I worked for the Polaroid Credit Union in Central Square, Cambridge. The artist I worked closely with was located in Central Square and the walk took about the same time as backtracking to the Kendall Square T-Stop and waiting for the Red Line.

The smell of sugar baking from the Necco factory accompanied me on the walk. Inhaling was a pleasure.

There's a sadness at its demise. The company started in 1847 by Oliver Chase who had invented a wafer cutting machine. The name was Hub Wafers and were a favorite of Civil War soldiers. Likewise in WWII the U.S. government issued them to soldiers.

Chase's company merged with the New England Confectionery Company, and the name changed to Necco. It has been bought and resold many times over the decades.

Financial problems led to its latest sale. On my birthday of this  year, production stopped. Spangler Candy of Bryan, OH bought the brand name and will recreate the wafers sometime in November 2019.

I know the original formula has been changed. The wafers are said to be softer and no artificial colors and flavors are included.

Maybe in 2019 The American Store in Geneva will carry them, although if they don't it will not be a tragedy. I still prefer chocolate, only my tastes have advanced to Swiss Chocolate made locally and lovingly. But the memory of the burnt sugar smell on my walks from Kendal to Central Square, will always be there.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Carte grise

It should have been simple.

In early December our car was broken into. They took a pillow and the carte grise, (registration). Up until a short time ago, it would have been a simple matter to go to the Mairie (town hall) and within a few minutes depending on the line, we'd have had a new copy.

Not so fast.

The French government in its wisdom (not) decided to centralize the operation. The town halls only had a few days notice.

We were told we could apply on line, but that did not work. We were then told there were certain car dealers that could help.

For 40 Euros one filled in all the information and told us to wait.

We waited, waited, waited, waited, waited, waited.

We read in the newspaper that the system was backed up by about 300,000 applicants.

Then we decided to trade in our 1999 car for a newer model with four doors and air conditioning. We found the perfect model for us, and the car dealer, both a friend a friend and the person who sold us the original car, agreed to scrap the old car for us.

One problem.

Until we had the carte grise, he could not give us the right form to cancel the insurance.

The dealer asked for information.

Friday, some nine months after applying for the replacement it came in the mail. We took it to the car dealer, got the correct form for insurance cancellation and Monday walked it to our insurance agency.

I love our time in France.

I do not love its bureaucracy and its so-called technological improvements.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Food Fun

"It's a bird with an egg."

Daniel who was checking me out at my favorite green grocer rolled his eyes. He and I joke a lot. He mocks my French accent, rightly so, but always with a twinkle in his eye.

I told him you need to have fun in life and that includes food. I also said with all the alleged Christ photos in things like bread or mud, a bird is pretty simple to see.

I took the sweet potato home, careful not dislodge the egg from the stem. I looked for the goggly eyes given to me by a friend.

I'll take the photo to Daniel tomorrow.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Fading away

Old Soldiers never die, they just fade away," General Douglas MacArthur told congress after being fired by President Harry Truman.

I am beginning to feel that way about writers as some of my favorites are creeping into their 70s and 80s. And despite MacArthur some have died.

Last week, I remembered reading Small Changes by Marge Piercy, a writer I enjoyed. When the book came out in 1987, I loved it and I wanted to reread it from the perspective of all the social changes between 1987 and 2018. Or would it be like Atlas Shrugged, which at 15 couldn't get through, thought it was wonderful at 21 and at 35 saw it as pure crap.

I'd been jealous of Piercy, not for her success as a writer although I wouldn't have minded the same level of recognition, but because she was married to a writer. As a writer myself, I thought of the conversations about plots, characters, typos with a writer husband.

Little did I know back then in 2013 I, too, would marry a writer.  We have those conversations as well as those about Oxford commas.

I looked up Piercy's age. She is 82, six years my senior.

We've ordered the book.

Today someone sent me a poem by Judith Viorst, another writer I enjoyed a couple of decades age. She is 87.

Just in time for this blog I thought.

There are writers who I wish had written faster before they died. A book a month would have made me happy even though I know that is impossible (unless maybe you are James Patterson working with others).

Maeve Binchey, an Irish writer died at 73, three years younger than I am now. She was one whose books I picked up when they were still warm from the press.

I always wanted to sit down and have a cup of tea with her characters.

Marilyn French, whose feminist writings both fictional and non-fictional were a pleasure to read. From her I got the phrase "factory-fresh hymen" to describe how virgins were considered of higher value in the marriage market back in the fifties.

Margaret Atwood is 78, another writer whom I will read no matter what she writes.

Alice Walker was speaking on television last week. At 74 she is gray-haired. I like her politics, her fiction and I've replaced Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful, collected poems, at least three times.

There are other writers, whom I will read whatever they write who are younger such as Lauren B. Davis and Barbara Kingsolver. They are both 63. I was in many critiquing sessions with Lauren before we were published and I can hear her voice in her stories. Neither seem ready to either fade or die.

I don't mean to imply I only read older feminist writers. I read male writers, historical and political tomes. I eat mysteries. And novelties like Alexander McCall Smith, who is 70. His 44 Scotland road series has come to an end. Sigh.

I just finished Amanda Hodgkinson's novel 22 Britannia Road. She clocks in as a young 53. That was her debut novel. I'm looking for her later works. I've just started the debut novel by Carolinn Hughes, Orchids and the Wasp which was mentioned in The New Yorker. I've no idea of her age.

I need a new cadre of writers where I can look forward to their next book. Unlike old soldiers, writers not only fade away they die. Fortunately their works live on.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dog Thoughts

How does Sherlock (and other dogs) think?

I am sure some animal behaviorist has an answer. 

I know Sherlock thinks. His ball went under the bookcase. He couldn't dig it out.

What did he do next?

He went into the room where the wall backed the bookcase to see if he could get to it that way.

When that didn't work he asked for help. He has different barks for different needs.

Years ago we had a Japanese chin Vixen pup. She was on the bed when we gave her her first chew toy. She wasn't sure what to do with it.

We also had a German Shepherd, Nikki, who was on the rug at the end of the bed.

Vixen jumped down and looked at how Nikki was holding her chew, jumped back on the bed and copied her.

The same pup, when she had a corneal abrasion, woke her mistress in the middle of the night and led her downstairs and went directly to the stand where her eye medicine, which dulled the pain, was. She then jumped up on a nearby chair and tilted her head so she could be treated.

My German Shepherd Kimm, adored my mother-in-law. Whenever we said, "Let's go see Grams" she would run to the door. She reacted the same way if the tone was ordinary and buried in other conversation about what we were planning to do.

But how do animals think without the vocabulary? I know they pick up our words. When Sherlock hears the word "stay" as we are planning to go out, he'll jump up on the couch, sometimes with a sigh, sometimes with a good-I-can-have-a-nap attitude.

Wild animals however are not exposed to human vocabulary yet they have to think things out to survive.

I suppose I could go back to university to study this, but it might be easier just to do some Internet research. I told Sherlock this. He just turned over and went back to sleep. I doubt if he knows anything about universities. Maybe if I still lived in Boston and walked him on the grass of Harvard Medical School like I did my other dogs, he would associate a university with a place to sniff and relieve himself.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


On the Esta form which I need to enter the US, one of the stupider questions I have to answer is
"have you ever been engaged in terrorist activities espionage or genocide." What terrorist in their right mind would ever say yes?

It requires a yes or no answer.

Another time entering the US I was asked if I had helped the Nazis in WWII. I was born in 1942 and lived outside Boston.

I also declared I'd never kidnapped a child.

I wonder about the mentality of the people who dream up these entrance requirements.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


A friend who is a Trump supporter pointed out that Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh of ripping off her clothes as part of an attack when they were high school, made donations to the Democratic Party.

The matter is confusing his nomination to the Supreme Court.

I wonder if my friend would negate the same claims if Ford were a Republican.

The reaction to male aggression is not a party issue.

I find it complicated.

If that is the only example of sexual misconduct in Kavanaugh's background, I would not be concerned. Drunk teenage boys are not known for their good sense. I write this as a leftist feminist. It doesn't make it right, but it happens.

If his misconduct was a regular thing much like Clarence Thomas, that is another issue entirely.

Ford in coming forward was putting herself on the line much like Anita Hill. Not a pretty picture.

I do not want to see Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. I fear for Roe v. Wade. Should he be the swing vote to overturn it hospitals throughout the country would once again have 20-30 beds filled with women who've had botched abortion many of whom will die. Women with more resources will simply leave the country for a legal and safe abortion in Canada, England, etc.

I have a strong belief in the 14th amendment which is the one used to give women, both married and single the right to birth control and abortions. I don't want to go back to the days of coat hangers and knitting needles.

If, and it hasn't been brought up, he was a sexual predator beyond his high school stupidity, than he should not be nominated. Clarence Thomas should have been rejected for that reason.

Throughout my life men have been sexually inappropriate with me. I am not talking about rape or bodily injury just bad behavior leaving me uncomfortable.

I worked in a dry cleaner where the owner constantly told dirty jokes. In three years, only one was funny.

I've known men who are always making sexual innuendos. At best it is boring. In a work place there are power questions.

I never minded a compliment on my appearance as long it was not accompanied by a hand on my breast or ass. Acceptance and job security should never be tied. But Kavanaugh has not been accused of that,

There is supposed perjury committed by Kavanaugh. That strikes me as a reason to reject him not for a stupid act when he was in high school.

I wish Ford luck and commend her bravery for putting herself forward. She will be attacked for it.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


I am chuffed as the Brits would say. picked up my Oped piece "Abortions Can't be Stopped."

Much of my material came from the book I wrote, Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles. The book looks at abortion, especially in the U.S. prior to Roe v. Wade. I spent almost a year on the research and self-published. My daughter helped me mail it to all Supreme Court Justices and every opponent to legalized abortion.

It is available for sale at the lowest possible price. People are free to copy from it.

My objective was to show that throughout time, women found a way to abort a baby that they felt they couldn't have. No matter what laws are passed, nothing will change that. Prostitution has never been stopped by laws. Prohibition was a total failure.

Abortion is not a happy choice for an unwanted pregnancy, but often a woman feels it is her only one.

It is not a decision any person should make for another.

On Facebook there was a photo of a congressional committee on maternal health. The problem? Every member of the committee was male.

Friday, September 14, 2018


Sometimes I can be really dumb.

I have had breast cancer twice. The second time they lopped the breast off, which was fine with me. The damn thing wanted to kill me. I needed chemo and a special type of radiation which involved heating the area than zapping it.

Since then, I've had certain medication plus physio from time to time for the discomfort caused by missing lymph nodes.

None of this is a complaint. I am extremely lucky to be living in a time and place with wonderful, affordable medical care.

However, on my last check in Geneva, the doctor frowned at my ectograph. "We'll want to take a look at it in a few months. Nothing to worry about?"

Little did she know the words "nothing to worry about" is the same thing that says "worry, worry, worry."

I pictured myself being biopsied, back in bed, exhausted from chemo with Rick doing all the cooking (someone else cooking is not a bad thing but not for the reason of my total exhaustion from chemo).

Twice, I rose to the situation, making the best out of everything, while accepting the situation, sometimes joking, sometimes gathering the good things that happened to me as if I were picking wild flowers. Could I do it again?

I would have to, not just for me but for my husband. We would need to make the time count.

And the wig store serving bald cancer patients doesn't have white wigs. I would need to order one from the States.

As lovely as the nurses were who came to the house for my blood boosting shots, I would rather see them for a cup of tea at a café.

With these thoughts, I decided not to wait until my November check in Geneva but made an appointment in Argelès for the ectograph. Today was the day.

Dr. Christian listened to my explanation, squeezed cream on my right side and ran the wand over it.
"Nothing is there. Everything is okay," he said in French.

I told him I felt ten years younger. The Echo was cheaper than a face lift. I also told him that my imagination sometimes was over active."

He smiled. "Pour les femmes avec cancer du sein c'est classique."

I paid my 41 Euros, collected the film for my doctor in Geneva and left with my husband, relieved that we could continue with out plans for Madrid, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Geneva, Lucerne, etc.

I guess being dumb about somethings is classic.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Busy summer

Coming back from physio I found my husband making a list. I asked him what he was doing.

"Making a list of all our social contacts this summer."

It turned out between Geneva and Argelès, we've met with 107 people for:
  • Apéros
  • BBQs
  • Breakfasts
  • Coffees
  • Concerts
  • Conversations
  • Dances
  • Dinners
  • Festivals
  • Lunches
  • National celebrations (Switzerland/France)
  • Parades
  • Train rides 
  • Wedding
They are from 20 different countries
  • America
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Catalonia
  • Danish
  • Egypt
  • England
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greek
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Lebanon
  • New Zealand
  • Norwegian
  • Romania
  • Scotland
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
What a rich summer.

We're tired -- but I wouldn't have had it any other way. And we look forward to seeing them again and again.

Rick has a dueling blog at

Monday, September 10, 2018

Needles and consumerism

At university in an early English drama course, We were required to read Gammer Gurton's Needle. It was one of the first plays and although it will never rival productions of things like Les Mis or Virginia Woolf, its story has stuck in my mind over the decades.


The premise is simple. Gammer Gurton stands out in her community because she is in possession of something very valuable -- a needle.

By those standards if existing today, I would be very wealthy. A sewing box, handed down from my grandmother must contain maybe 20 needles. I never counted.

What the play did do, was call attention to how ownership of things help define wealth. Depending on the era and place, compared to most of the people who ever took a breath on this planet, I am a wealthy woman.

Until recently consumerism as it exists today just wasn't. Except for the very wealthy, people made do: they used things up. My grandmother, a New England Yankee in every cell of her body embodied this. A double bed sheet tore? Turn it into twin bed sheets. If they tore, it would become an ironing board cover, a dress for one of my dolls, rags or anything else she could think to use the cloth down to the last thread.

I am not that frugal. I don't mind replacing. But replacing only when it is really needed.

My husband will say, "I want to replace the TV upstairs." He's referring to the studio I bought for my retirement home for cash.

I cringe.

The TV works and until it doesn't work, I see no reason to buy another.

Almost once a day he says, "I want to buy..." I cringe.

We have much too much in our flat as it is.

I will admit I want a dust ruffle for the twin bed in the second bedroom/office. There things under the bed that show, although my first preference would be to reduce those down to the minimum. I will buy books although I prefer to go to the library (as a writer who earns royalties I still would rather someone use a library to read one of my novels than kill trees--I do want people to read me). Don't you dare use a paper towel when a cloth will wipe up a mess.

We did need a new couch. We found one at recycle center along with a coffee table for 104 Euros including delivery. Also it gave work to the people who refinished both. The items didn't end up in the land fill either.

If everyone though as I did, GNP would plummet but maybe by using less the danger to the planet would be reduced. People would not need to work so hard to buy the latest iPhone, gadget or whatever the craze is at the moment. Maybe neighbors would help neighbors, even sharing their sewing needles. 

Friday, September 07, 2018

No more coat hangers

This blog covers a wide variety of topics.

We cannot go back to the years before Roe v. Wade. My book, Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles documents the problems. This is Chapter 5.

Chapter 5 of Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles that writes about the film Motherless. Stories of people whose mothers died from illegal abortions.

The hospital kept 32 beds on the fourth floor for patients who had botched abortions. Knitting needles, bicycle spokes, anything metal might have been used.

Clara Bell Duvall

Ruth Irene Friedl

Vivian Campbell

Mary Magee

According to Dr. Louis Gerstley, Chief at Philadelphia General Hospital from 1956 to 1976, “The legalization of abortion had almost no effect on the level of abortions. The way you can determine it is to go to any World Almanac in your library and graph the number of deliveries in the U.S. between the 50s and 80s and you will find a fairly steady line. In the early 70s after Roe v. Wade, we were doing between one and 1.24 million abortions a year. It (Roe v. Wade) didn’t affect the number of deliveries. No woman goes out to get pregnant for kicks of having an abortion which is far too expensive physically, financially and emotionally. There was a marked drop in maternal mortality (after abortion was legal).”
When he talked in the film Motherless, Dr. Gerstley’s speech was measured and calm for the horrors he described with a feeling of resigned sadness that he could not save hundreds of women who died from illegal abortions.

The hospital kept 32 beds on the fourth floor for patients who had botched abortions.
Knitting needles, bicycle spokes, anything metal might have been used, he said.

Ages of the patients varied from teenagers to women in their forties.

Woman tried potassium permanganate tablets, he said. “It was a strong oxidizing agent and it burns the tissue. We would see these women with a black hole in the front and the back of the vagina... If the woman was lucky, it didn’t burn through into the rectum or bladder.” Tissue would be so damaged it couldn’t be sutured. “It was like trying to suture butter. Awful,” he added.

Dr. Gerstley played only a small part in the 27-minute-34-second film Motherless.

As horrible as what he described, there was greater pain for other victims of botched abortions—the children left behind by the death of their mother. I want to call it unintended consequences that abortion stories never speak about.
In the Motherless film, four stories are told by the children of Clara Bell Duvall, Ruth Irene Friedl, Vivian Campbell and Mary Magee, all dead from abortions in the 20s, 50s, and 60s. A mournful sax starts Motherless.

The tune?

“Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”

Linn Duvall Hartwell’s Story

A black-and-white photo of three little girls with bobbed hair in the style of the 1920s is on the screen. One of them is Linn Duvall Hartwell.
We do not know how old she was when her mother, Clara, died in 1925 of an illegal abortion. We can glean some information by simple math. The film was made in 1992. Linn took viewers on a tour of her old neighborhood. She tells the audience she hadn’t been back for fifty years, making her around 69.
Linn has huge glasses and curly gray hair. She looked like a cookie-baking grandmother with a lap ready to cuddle any child.
The director used Linn’s voice over movies of Pittsburgh in the 1920s. A few Model-T type cars and street cars move back and forth down city streets. Pedestrians walk at a slightly faster pace than normal.
The camera switches to Linn riding down Princess Avenue, where she grew up. Her childhood home was a modest yellow-brick, two-story house. All the homes on the street were either wooden or brick houses with porches. They almost touch. It would be easy to imagine parents sitting on those porches after dinner as children played ball in the small yards or on the street during a summer evening.

Linn was one of five children living there with her parents and grandparents.
A photo of her father shows a balding man dressed in a suit and tie. She described her father as a “wordsmith,” saying he’d been Editor for the Pittsburgh Press and the Pittsburgh Gazette.
A profile photo of Clara shows a beautiful woman, her long hair piled on her head. She had what they call a button nose.
Her mother was a singer and sang on the radio, the first woman to do so, Linn said. The song? “If I had the wings of an angel, over these prison walls I’d fly.” Ironic.
Linn doesn’t know whose idea the abortion was. Did her grandmother say you can’t have another child? There isn’t room. With five children and four adults in the house, that possibility is realistic.

Linn believed her mother must have been desperate to run the risk of losing her life.

The children were at Clara’s deathbed. “You’re the mother now,” Clara said to her ten-year old daughter Eleanor, Linn’s older sister.

Linn was an adult before her grandmother said that her mother had died from an abortion.
The camera follows Linn walking through the cemetery where her mother is buried until they come to a small, simple stone with the name, date of birth and date of Clara’s death carved. “If you hadn’t been there I would have lain down on the ground and wept,” she tells the camera.

A lifetime later there is still pain. “Very unnecessary and even though it was this long ago, it just shouldn’t happen to women,” she said.

Sharon Magee’s Story

The last time Sharon Magee saw her mother, she thought she might have been going out on a date. Sharon is the youngest of the four speakers in the film, an attractive, articulate woman with children of her own.

Her mother died in 1960.

She remembers her mother’s last words to her: “And you be good.” Mary Magee always gave Sharon a hug and a kiss when she left. 

Sharon was four when her mother died. Photos shows her in a puff-sleeved dress playing with her toys. Despite her young age, she remembers them going shopping and eating pizza together: fleeting, but good memories. Memories of being cared for and loved.

When she was older a friend told her that her mother was murdered. Sharon said she felt ashamed.
Sharon reads from the news clipping describing Mary’s death. “A young woman who apparently died in an abortion attempt was identified by her parents at the City Morgue shortly before dawn today.” Sharon’s voice breaks as the article describes how the woman was left by two men who said they needed help than sped away.

A 56-year-old woman was charged with the abortion, the third attempt on Mary, who worked as a secretary for a cement company. What killed her was an injection of pine oil.

“It is too much to know because I often wonder did she think of me before she died? Did she think of me before she did this?” Sharon asked. She compares it to a child being left alone in a department store, although people would come up to help, they wouldn’t be the right person— the mother.
Sharon said that one of her sons was very attached to her. It was hard for her to watch how much he wanted her like she had wanted her own mother.

She hopes her mother will not been seen as a “pig” and added. “This stuff happens…It shouldn’t happen, but it did.

Gwen Campbell Elliott’s Story

Abortions cross all racial lines. Gwen Campbell Elliot was called to the hospital where her mother lay dying. Like Sharon’s mom, Vivian’s last words to her children were to be good, also adding to be good in school.
Gwen was told that her mother died in childbirth. Only when she was in college and she saw the death certificate did she learn her mother died of an illegal abortion. Her father, she said, spent a lot of time trying to find out who performed the abortion.

His hope for justice went unfulfilled.
Gwen showed the viewers the Jerusalem Baptist Church, a light-yellow brick building. She said the church was the foundation of the family.
In the 1950s, it was still the custom to lay the body out at home. Vivian Campbell was laid out at Gwen’s aunt’s. Gwen knows she was at the cemetery. She remembers thinking she could go to the cemetery and wake her sleeping mom.
Her parents were separated when her mother became pregnant and she’s not sure who the father was.
Not having a mother brought other traumas. She was raised by her grandmother, who was determined her granddaughter would not be sexually active. Gwen’s periods were irregular. To make sure she wasn’t pregnant, the grandmother took her to a doctor, who did an “internal.” He also asked her if she had had sex. Gwen wasn’t sure what sex was, but she’s convinced that if her mother was alive, she would not have to be humiliated and hurt in the doctor’s office. She didn’t communicate with anyone for weeks after that. “I was a scared kid.”
“There have to be more people like me out there. If we don’t speak out the abortion will go the wrong way,” she concludes.

James Friedl’s Story

A photo taken of James Friedl about the time his mother, Ruth Irene, died of an abortion, shows a skinny little boy wearing a sailor hat and almost dwarfed by a toy sail boat.
He was told his mother died from food poisoning. The shock of losing her made him “unlovable,” he said.
He hid.

He hid in closets, hiding from the pain.

When he wasn’t hiding he followed his father everywhere, never even letting the man go to the bathroom alone.
Only as an adult, as a Marine waiting to be shipped out from San Diego, did James learn the truth from his Aunt Alice. She happened to be in the city at the same time and she told him what really occurred.
After James’s sister had been born, his mother was told she shouldn’t have any more children. This was in Denver in 1929, but she found herself pregnant. She kept the secret from her husband and instead turned to Alice, a pharmacist married to a doctor. It is not clear whether Alice and Ruth were sisters or sisters-in-law but there’s a photo of the two women arm-in-arm.
Alice told Ruth that an abortion by her husband was out of the question. He could lose his license. Their whole community in Idaho would be hurt if they lost their doctor.
James isn’t sure whether Alice provided the ergot that killed his mother on 21 August 1929. Ergot is a fungus that can be used for migraines and for bringing on uterine contractions. Ruth overdosed.

Decades later James said, “Mad? Damned right I am mad, and I am madder than hell. Why do we have to go through this? Look what I lost…Totally unnecessary. Same as if they shot her on the street.” 

Motherless can be seen online at

About the Film

Motherless was produced and directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Diane Pontius. It was their first film. It  won four awards:
        Cine Golden Eagle, 1993
        Silver Apple, National Educational Film and Video Festival, 1993
        Honors, International Health and Medical Film Festival, 1994
        Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights, Sarah W. Boote Founders Award, 1994

 Motherless presents the human face of coercive reproductive health policies. An important reminder about why we cannot return to the days of the back alleys, this film is a ‘must see’ for everyone, especially current and future lawyers, medical professionals, and public policy makers.” Kathryn Kolbert, Constance Hess Williams Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Yes to Nike

I'll start by saying I never wear a brand. If I buy something with a logo, I cover it.

Someone gave me a beautiful Nike sweatsuit. I covered the logo with three kittens. I will wear a brand name only when I am paid to be a billboard, although it hasn't happened yet.

On the other hand I applaud Nike's poster of Colin Kaepernick and the "Just do it" message.

When he kneels during the national anthem it is not dishonoring the song, for that is what it is, a song. America is much more than a song.

He is not anti-vet. Many vets support his actions.

He is delivering a message that there is a horrible wrong in the country, especially for blacks.

The reaction by many is to shoot the messenger.

He joins a long line of dissidents who do what they can to prove wrongs and work to correct them, starting with people like Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, George Washington. It continues with people like Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, john Lewis, Bill Baird.

Had there not been protests and people taking what was unpopular stances to certain classes there would be
  • No America
  • No women voting
  • No legal birth control (never mind abortion)
  • No 5 day workweek
  • No holidays
  • No safety regulations for dangerous occupations
  • More closed doors in education and work for blacks/women
And that is just a short list of all the things we take for granted, because someone dared to stand up to the prevailing daily American life of the time thanks to hard-fought dissent.

Even if he were wrong, that unarmed blacks aren't being shot in the back by police and shut out of opportunities that whites take for granted.

As a white woman, I've benefited from those who have fought for my rights. I want everyone, regardless of the type of minority to have the same rights an opportunities.

Thank you for taking a commercial risk, Nike.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018


The little dot above is about the size of the bugs that invaded our patio last winter. The little suckers (literally) hurt when they bit although we could barely see them during an attack.

I keep a tablespoon in the bathroom. By running hot water on the spoon and applying it to the bite, the itching stops. There is the moment of pain when the hot spoon touches the skin. However, it is more effective than any cream I've ever used even the best ones.

We tried everything. 

Getting rid to all the plants and dirt.


Potting plants that bugs were supposed to hate.

The infestation continued.


I think it increased their fertility.

We had the patio painted.

They must have liked the new fresh white paint.

As suddenly as they came, in August, they decided to leave, although a couple entered the house for a few last nibbles. 

We are once again enjoying meals on the patio.

Rick is planning to redesign the patio with a chimera we can use on cool fall nights or winter days for heat. We are looking for sculptures to use as decoration in place of plants. The green world will be pleased because when green thumbs were being distributed, we were in the liver line.