Sunday Morning ~ The Partridge and the Lion

Sunday Morning~ The Partridge and the Lion

Pa thindi nkhwali, mkango uli pomwepo. ~ The partridge is in the tall grass, and so is the lion.

~ Chewa proverb

July 24, 2022

Hi everyone,

I was six years old when the Cuban Missile Crisis happened. I have no recollection of my parents being worried about our fate or being glued to the news. I wish I could ask them what they were thinking at the time. I was nine when I first remember hearing about it. My third grade teacher said something about how close we came to being in a war and I had no idea what she meant. Kennedy was assassinated when I was seven. That’s a lot of scary shit within a couple of years yet, those events don’t evoke memories in me of fear for our future. Life went on as usual. I remember my parents and their friends talking about it. I remember watching the funeral on television. I remember watching Oswald get shot on TV, my mother gasping, my father saying something like, “Well I’ll be god damned.” Having just gotten through World War II I’m curious what they were thinking. Were they truly not worried about the fate of our country? Or was I not sensitive to their fears? 

I doubt I could have hidden my fears on January 6th had I small children in the house. I wonder what impressions my reaction would have left on them. I took a shot of whiskey at noon trying to calm my breathing. I was in a panic. This past week as I watched the hearings and saw the raw footage of the inside of the capitol, I don’t think I was overreacting. 

I’m trying to remember times when I had to be very brave. Was there a time when I had a choice between right and wrong and stepped forward to stand up for justice? Although I’ve had moments in my life requiring courage, I can’t find anything in my brain even closely comparable to putting my career and long term security at risk. As I watch the young women testify in the January 6 hearings–––republican women with a lot to lose, I stand in respect and gratitude. Coming from a party and culture with rampant misogyny, I am grateful for their courage. I have been overwhelmed by the composure and clarity they are demonstrating. I want them all to know that. I wonder what kind of threats they endure? And yes, the guys have been stellar witnesses, too, but the women stand out to me. I guess because the loss of our civil rights is a bit raw right now. There aren’t enough men speaking out about it. Why not? It bothers me. I was clapping while listening to Liz Cheney in her closing statement. I’m enjoying watching her lay shame on the men claiming privilege behind some stupid excuse. I’ve gotta admit, she’s doing a great job. She described brave young women coming forward and being a role model for younger women everywhere. I agree. I wonder what security they have been given? Do the men running from responsibility understand what fools they look like? Do they care? How will they spin this? If they had come forward during the second impeachment our country might look differently now. But that’s not what happened. This is where we are and this is what we have to work with, so I’ll take it and be grateful for now. I’m praying this will have a just result.

I’m thinking of how I can be most helpful in the November election, wondering at my age what will push us toward the results we need for democracy to survive. Two more senators and keep the house. It is all I can think about. I’m trying to figure out how to voice my opinion in a meaningful and productive way. Is this the bravest thing I can be doing? The flack I get from my blogs is nothing compared with what the witnesses face. Where should I focus a fraction of the courage the women testifying have shown? This will be a lifelong threat for them unless we radically change the power structure. A dream I doubt will be realized in my lifetime, but I’d like to contribute to that evolutionary progress. 

Courage: Finding the partridge without getting eaten by the lion.   

Love to all,


Sunday Morning ~ Women’s Voices

Sunday Morning ~ Women’s Voices

Palima n’pa mimba, khasu la Cidambo. ~ The power to cultivate comes from eating, the hoe of Cidambo gets strength from eating.

~ Chewa proverb

July 17, 2022

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been thinking about what feeds us. In a literal sense the war in Ukraine demonstrates the ramifications of disrupting global food supplies, Climate change is doing the same. Today, I am thinking of what feeds our souls and how stories can be that nourishment. Often powerful, they can be a catalyst for change. 

When teaching, I begin class with a writing exercise. Each student writes a short story about themselves relating to the topic we are about to discuss. This is a quick exercise, usually five or six minutes, and I write as well. When the timer goes off we read these stories aloud. The stories are not critiqued or graded, there are no rules to comply with except to write. I use this exercise to have students practice telling their stories, and give everyone else practice listening to them without judgement. It also gives some context to the topic we are about to discuss. Many don’t learn to tell of their lives or experiences. Shame, unworthiness, futility are all barriers for people, especially women, to tell their stories in their own voices. So, women’s lives have been framed by the men surrounding them. I think of how this has evolved and how it led to the country we now inhabit.

Jesus was surrounded by strong women throughout his short life. Yet, Catholicism is an outlier in organized religion idolizing Mary. I would so love to know her story through her voice. What would we understand about how women of that era viewed their lives? What if Mary had twelve female apostles to write her gospels? Did they think being stoned was a little unfair? Did they gather to talk about how to change the system? Did they imagined a world two thousand years hence interested in them, their lives, their stories? I imagine how their stories would have changed the course of history. Instead, men told women’s stories through men’s eyes, giving themselves starring roles and relegating women to supporting actress at best. This eternal stage was set.

When stories are told from the female experience, let’s take for example…Cassidy Hutchinson, men tend to spin these stories when they don’t come off looking so great. There seems to be no end to the air time given their rebuttal. When that doesn’t work in their favor they begin discrediting her. It’s almost as if men think they can behave however they wish, with deceit, violence, or immaturity, then rewrite the story to make themselves look good. Same old, same old.

The Weinsteins and Trumps of the world have been able to kill women’s stories describing the monsters they are. If that doesn’t work they kill the women themselves. Eventually though, a woman finds the strength, support, and opportunity to kick the bottom card in the house. Other women find their voices. They feed each other. They grow stronger. They build each other up. They knock down walls. Women bring the monster down. 

I watched Cassidy Hutchinson, threatened by angry powerful men, stand up for truth, showing all of us what courage and integrity looks like. Of course, she probably has twenty-four hour protection now, which most women with abusive partners aren’t likely to get anytime soon, but we saw; we heard. We can build on that. Women will not go back. Black lives will never not matter again. Women will not go back to living compromised lives endangered for the pleasure of men. This will not happen.

There are men in my life who’ve thanked me for making them think about how they have benefited from our system and how unfair it is to women. And there are men in my life who are threatened by what I write and assign blame. I’m not surprised. It’s not easy to share the power and advantage they’ve enjoyed for so long. But, like I told my kids growing up, if you can’t learn to share, you will lose it.

I have been thinking about this since the court majority awakened several million sleeping dragons. Current injustices perpetuated by men must be attended to. Knowing a woman was among them makes me wonder what she might write of her own story should she escape her cult of men. Compliance can mean survival. I want women to tell their stories and open a path for other women to tell theirs. What is done to us without our consent, rewards others reap from our efforts, consequences we bear alone, it’s all a story with value and meaning. It will shape the next two thousand years. It nourishes others and makes them strong. What if every woman wrote about abuse she has suffered by some prominent man? I wonder what that would do to solve this little problem of DENYING BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS TO WOMEN!

I saw a meme that said: Write like the ghosts of all the women in history who weren’t allowed to write are standing next to you wondering what a laptop is and why you’re still in your pajamas. I love this. I wonder if Cassidy Hutchinson was channeling Ann Hutchinson, a midwife, who had a little problem with male authority in the1600’s. She was banished for overstepping her place as a woman. It was feared she’d inspire other women to speak out. Let’s be like Ann Hutchinson, with a laptop.

Love to all,


Sunday Morning ~ Removing Them

Sunday Morning ~ Removing Them

Cikuni ca utsi koma kufumula. ~ The firewood that smokes too much remove it.

~ Chewa proverb

July 3, 2022

Hi Everyone,

Current events rendered me unable to write for the past couple of weeks. Well, I did write; I just didn’t post the rambling litany of angry outburst that I couldn’t wrangle into anything coherent. No amount of editing worked; nothing meaningful could be sculpted. All my frustration, the unfairness of it all, the blaming, raging, name calling was a childhood temper tantrum on a page that did nothing but exhaust me.  

I’m applying for a position in Malawi to work again on the midwifery ward project. I have this terrible association with my work there and the abrupt dark turn in our democracy. When I started working there in 2016 I thought the country would evoke memories of our emergence to a new era with our first woman president. I imagined celebrating there with other American expats. I knew she’d have a hard road to hoe, but she was capable of it. I was sure she’d endure the attempts to discrediting her successes. She knew what she was getting into. Her predecessor, I’d thought, survived more than his fair share of attacks and I had faith she would as well. No one could run for that office and expect an easy time of it.

Malawi is six hours ahead of eastern time, so we planned a breakfast party to celebrate the historic event expecting to watch the results steer us into a better future. I imagined bouncing off to teach with a spring in my step, excited about the possibilities for women’s health. Instead, we watched what could very possibly be the beginning of the end of our democracy. Foreign interference, misogyny, racism, and hatred was about to usher in a period I honestly could not believe would happen. 

I walked to work that morning filled with a darkness and dread similar to what I experienced when my husband left our family twenty years ago. My horror, shame, and despair for the future was similar. But when it was only my personal life falling apart I had control of how I handled the situation. I grieved, railed, and cried endlessly to friends and (horrifyingly) strangers. I sought advice, got therapy, accepted help, and steered the train of my life onto a different track. In November 2016, I thought, this is not just me and my children, it’s the world. The foreboding was terrifying. That terrible morning I foresaw the world turning dark. I foresaw war, and suffering. Women’s lives, already more difficult than men’s, were about to get much worse. I saw it. I felt it in my bones. Many women did. 

Following the stages of grief, I went from shock into a depression. I knew from experience with loss that the next stage, anger, felt better to me. Anger meant action and movement. The man in my life at the time infuriated me by telling me I was overreacting. A white privileged older man, who I thought had a shred of sensitivity to women’s issues, overtly dismissed the possibility that the calamity of that election would somehow be worse for women. He even made some stupid jokes about women that sent me into a rage. He didn’t get it. He didn’t understand how I could be so furious at his insensitivity. Having shared with him all my issues with my father, the Freudian in him blamed that. It was a convenient and perennial way of relinquishing all responsibility for perpetuating the misogyny and patriarchy. He refused to see how much he benefitted from it. He saw none of it as having to do with him.

As bad as I felt, I couldn’t even fathom what Hillary Clinton was feeling. It’s like when your friend loses a child. You grieve for her, grieve for what the future could have been, imagine yourself in her shoes, feel guilty your children are still alive, wonder if you could have done something, and still, you never know what it is like. You can only imagine. 

Imagining the world and country we could have had, imagining the supreme court we could have had, I grieve. I guess I’m glad we finally know what we’re dealing with. I pray this motivates a generation who has so much to lose to vote in outrageous numbers. It’s our only hope. I pray people smarter than me can figure out how to firewall this disinformation targeted to specific groups causing them to vote against their own best interest. I hope the dragon has been awakened. 

In 2016 I took much heart in the organizing and action groups that formed. If not for that activism I imagine how much worse this could be now. I wasn’t surprised when the verdict was announced. I knew this was coming. I saw the dismantling of our rights as soon as the election was decided in 2016. I spent my anger then raging against greedy republicans, racists, misogynists, and those who bought into the propaganda that Hillary Clinton was somehow evil or dishonest. I mourn the future we could have had with her. She was so right about everything. She warned us of this in 1995. She warned us of Russian interference with the election. She was so right. And we suffer her loss. 

So, as many of us are now looking deeply at ways we contribute to the institutionalized racism in this country, I desperately hope men look at how they contribute to the misogyny. I hope they work just as hard for our rights as theirs. I hope every man who refuses to wear a condom goes straight to hell. 

Obviously, I’m still angry.

But the smoking logs can be removed! We CAN vote out the criminals who brought us to this brink. While I am not a proponent of fear mongering, I have no problem instilling the fear of losing our human rights as women, losing our children to school shootings, and losing our health care. I will repeat this over and over and over: republicans have taken your right to choose; republicans don’t care if your kids die in school; republicans will take away your already meager health care. These smutty, stinking, smoking logs have got to go. It’s our only hope.

Two more senators and keep the house!

Love to all,