The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

Why I March

I will march with women as long as my feet will carry me. In my 67 years I have worked my way through many a gender equality issue.
I married young because I believed it “the thing to do”.

After 10 years, I became a single mother and discovered that in spite of having complete control of the finances, I was without any credit rating. After my second divorce, and while, indisputably, not the primary bread winner in either marriage, yet being again in charge of the finances, I was AGAIN without any individual credit rating.  Yes, even with the 7 years of living single between marriages. Credit ratings were attached only to the male and because my single days were previous to the 2nd  marriage they disappeared.

I worked as a banquet waitress (my second job) carrying heavy trays wearing high heels because it was the dress! Why haven’t males been expected to wear high heels to be sexy?

I lost a job once because my commissions paid me more than the boss made for a quarter of that year.

I was any number of times sexually harassed in my job. I was in sales and I certainly encountered sex for business offers. One, in particular, from a  man who was a friend of my father’s, albeit, my father was deceased.

I’ve bought make up, had my nails polished -many women color their hair (I don’t. My hair is still red!) -to step correctly, ie young and perfect, into the cultural acceptance of beauty. Has a man?

So, we, across the board, earn less and we spend on looking culturally acceptable.. (I LOVE YOU, PAULA ANN, my dear friend who does nails and throws in the loving counseling because that is the kind generous soul she is). And, I really do like to have my toenails polished in the summer!

And whose is benefiting from the sale of all that make up and cream and beauty enhancer that we are force fed by our culture? A marketing plan that tells us to be who we are and shine through our God given faces?

Why isn’t there a male word with the same connotation as  misogyny?
mi·sog·y·ny — (dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
“she felt she was struggling against thinly disguised misogyny”)

Why is hysterical and hysterectomy from the same root word?

Why is is history and not her-story? Because I think they would write differently.

How many years has it been since women were chattel? Not so many.

Why isn’t there male genital mutilation?

Why is there still a sex trade using young girls as bartering tools?

Why were the girl children killed in China?

Why was there foot binding?

Need I go on?

Yes, I sill go on and I will march for the freedom/equality path I have and will continue to pave for my daughters and my granddaughters and your daughters and your granddaughters.

Take nothing for granted. The freedoms we have now, someone has protested to provide.

Why is this permitted?

Did you know that in 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 20 percent? While the number has gone up one percentage point from 2014, the change isn’t statistically significant — because the increase is so small, mere tenths of a percent, it doesn’t amount to perceptible change. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the earnings ratio hasn’t had significant annual change since 2007. The gap has narrowed since the 1970s, due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. Still, the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own. At the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152.

http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

 

 

Thank you Donald Trump for bringing our issues to the open and letting us examine our values in front of the world, our neighbors, ourselves.  I am certainly more and more convinced of my beliefs – the truths I hold to be self-evident.

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Joseph’s Journey

Joseph’s Journey is a novel I have worked on for a long, long time.  Because of the generosity of my Uncle John I was able to take a year’s sabbatical and write.

This novel was given to me through a storyteller who spoke to me every day at the same time.  I got up, got my coffee, sat in my chair (another blue chair) and translated what went through my head. Channeling.  What I discovered was an incredibly beautiful story of a man, an everyday carpenter given a huge God-task.  Going against all the dictates of his society and way out of his comfort zone he said yes. And what he finds is that through divine synronicity he is not alone, the “world” begins to work with him. He gets money and a wagon for Mary to ride in.  All along the route the needs of Mary and Joseph are met by total strangers – grassroots, kind, and generous people.  Just like who we, mostly,  are today – although the news doesn’t cover the millions of stories of daily kindnesses or the “miracles” of divine syncronicity.

I did lots of fascinating research into this story.  I make huge mistakes in self-publishing and I still have little knowledge of marketing.  I just know that the first publications weren’t as perfect as I would have liked yet, I hit the button to Publish.  Knowing the imperfections maybe kept me from much marketing.  Whatever.  Now, Christmas season 2016, I have been through the text with the help of a fellow blogger and friend, Jerri and I think it is done.  Jerri blogs at:  athursdayschild.wordpress.com.  Thank you, Jerri.

Well,  Joseph’s Journey where it is in this moment!  And I am proud of the new cover that Jerri designed, and the type style and the new size AND I love this story.

I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.

Kindle version:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M7U6EYM/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk

Hardback at: CreateSpace eStore: https://www.createspace.com/6672305

 

Enjoy the song and know that Joseph didn’t get much press!!  And yet, his service was great.  In gratitude for the storyteller who whispered this story into my ear.

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A most Subversive Act

A sweat bead drips off her nose as she prays for wholeness and health for the peach eaters and providers while canning peaches which are so perfectly formed – 36 each without a single bug – she knows they are perverted with pesticides.  Still they are juicy and sweet and sensuous to the taste buds.  There is an ummm in every bite.

As she dips and peels she considers the mega production of food to bring 100 cans of peaches to every Kroger store every week.  Just how many peaches is that?  She averages 2 per pint jar.  The perfect amount to heat with a little nutmeg and heavy whipping cream in the dead of winter when a peach she had prayed over tastes like hope.

She wonders at the fears circulating among her most respected friends and colleagues that the grid will go down, the system must break in order to be fixed.  So she will eat peaches while the world struggles in chaos.  She won’t say I told you so because she doesn’t want the scenario to play out, but she does preserve  food, has water purification tablets, candles and kerosene, matches and gas for the grill and wood for the stove.

She reflects on the law of attraction and knows that attracting Mason jars and seeds is easier  for her than attracting cash.

She remembers her mother and the ladies at Florence Christian Church gathering in the kitchen basement of the Disciples Church each bringing their harvest to preserve food together.  Lightening their load in a kitchen big enough accommodate the process with a play ground big enough to entertain the kids.  Coffee in the big pot, sandwiches, peanut butter crackers to feed in the present moment.  Corn, beans, tomatoes and networking in loving fellowship to feed in the winter.

She ponders the pioneer woman isolated on the prairie.  Hungry children and no amenities.  Not even a fan, much less air conditioning and running water.  Carrying water to boil from seed to jar to the table.  What if Pioneer woman hated cooking? Or had a headache?

She angers at the thought of big corporations refusing to label honestly and big agriculture putting poison in foods.  And she wonders if, as a progressive society, we have gotten too lazy to even feed ourselves?

Are we lazy?  Spoiled?  A new lifestyle in this progressing world where someone else does it cheaper and more effectively and we aren’t chained to the daily feeding of ourselves.  Yet do the producers have the consumer’s interest as a priority? Or their bottom line?

Canning is no longer a necessity but a choice and, somehow, it’s one of my favorite “chores.”  No matter how much I sweat.  And, I could turn on the air conditioner, but the smell of the rain and hearing the pattering on my roof makes me happy.  Plus, the food growing in my back yard is being fed.

A most subversive act, organic veggies from my own yard.

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Where Susan Rea Caldwell is from

Hello everyone who reads my blog!  It’s been a long time~a long time~ since my last post.  This poem keeps telling me it wants recognition not only for myself but because it will encourage you, the reader, to create your own poem about your self.

My poem is modeled after George Ella Lyons’ poem Where I am from.  George Ella is homegrown and her works, her voice certainly makes Kentucky Proud.  She is the Poet Laureate of Kentucky this year.  http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html

If you read the article you will see that this poem is a favorite among her students and has been a call to writers/poets in Kentucky to honor her position this year.

I challenge you to write the poem about yourself and your past.  It’s enlightening and fun and really interesting.

I find I could write a poem about each decade and really measure the changes.

So here goes.  I am not a poet!

Where Susan Rea Caldwell is from –

I am long awaited
Kentucky Proud
Since before statehood was declared.

I am a Baby Boomer – Class of ‘67

I am from many names so reissued
The tree becomes brambles
William – John – Mary
Directly I am from
Glen Gordon and Lorel Kelly
William and Hazel Gertrude – Betty Rea and Asbury

I am marriages with unique stories
Surnames grafting to twist the branches.

I am red curls from the X and Y
Hazel and Philadelphia.
I am Scotch Irish freckles and sunburns
Forbidden to wear pink, orange or red.

I am 2nd generation from leaving the farm to become
entrepreneurs, cooks, seamstresses, bankers, beauticians,
bookkeepers, salesmen, writers,
homemakers bringing the farm habits to the suburbs.
while keeping the family rooted at regular gatherings and reunions.

I am 5th generation Disciple of Christ.
from Sunday School, choir, Brownies, Girl Scouts and Wa-Kon-Da-Ho.

I am from National Clean-up Your Plate Day,
Patience is the Prince,
God is Great,
Peace, and
Save it, it might be worth something someday.

I am from safety
nurtured and supported in a loving tribe,
running streets with no fears.

I am from a yard full of adventure and
and neighborhood housing mystery and playmates
duck funerals, pink chickens, kick-the-can, tag,
dancing with garage poles, forts, Jacks and Barbies,
the practical green bike, not the shiny pink one
A younger brother and sister (She really is not adopted).

I am from a well storied and often shared oral history

laughter and card playing
cocktails and cigarettes

I am from widowed grandmothers –
the grassroots independents
who produced we bra burners.

I am from Kanebrak and Town and Country
fried chicken from cold oil served in baskets
to fine upscale dining.

I am from practical jokers — and cancer, which is NOT –
I traded a parent for a daughter
5 years apart.

I am from being married to my step-brother and my children being my nieces.  (Figure that one out!)

I am from 3 last names
2 college degrees
I am from learning how to make ends meet when no end was in sight and
death that came too early too many times in waves of 3’s.

Yet, the shrinking tree now expands with names and faces I know only on Facebook.

I take my place as an archivist of my ancestral history from unidentifiable tin types to digital where the paper trail ends and void where the fire destroyed.

From 1-11 my history is recorded in 3-ring binders – linear – to prove that
I AM and how I got to right here!

 

Thank you for reading.

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A female response to “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd

I just finished Sue Monk Kidd’s latest book “The Invention of Wings.”
AMAZING book. AMAZING.

http://www.amazon.com/Invention-Wings-Notes-Oprahs-Book-ebook/dp/B00H58VGIA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434981799&sr=1-1&keywords=the+invention+of+wings+sue+monk+kidd

The slavery issue is a deplorable time in our culture. And so is the continued effects of racism and equality. Kidd’s tale describes this time period in conjunction with the gender aspect to weave the two issues that created upheaval and much needed social change in America. The book is amazing. I think I already said that! The power of the book is the cord of inequality it strikes within me.

My issue: Why wasn’t I introduced to Sarah and Angelina Grimke’ in my history classes? Why was the history of women only slightly dealt with and so obviously left out? Why weren’t these women as important as Betsy Ross?  She did her part. She created a flag we continue to honor and respect.  Yet, the brave women Kidd brings to us are, in large part, responsible for bringing about change that gives African Americans and Women the right to vote and to have status as human beings. (Can you imagine that is even an issue?) Are their stories brushed over because of the shame in a race and the gender that brings with creation/birth/continuation of the species being designated as chattel? Or because we accept the narrow minded belief system which continues to control the history writers?

We can’t change the past. What we can do is learn from it.  Honor it and decide if we want to continue that behavior or change it. We learn. We change.

The Grimke’ women fought through a system that offered them NO protection, few options and NO voice. The women were slaves to their own aristocratic culture. Yet these brave sisters stood their convictions and created freedoms through which we all (no matter is black or white or male or female) define and live our interests and truths.

http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/slavery-and-anti-slavery/essays/angelina-and-sarah-grimke-abolitionist-sisters

Is there equality in pay and opportunity? Is there equality in freedom?

Only a hundred or so years later do we women take our hard fought recognition and freedom for granted?While no longer legally property or chattel the female remains a blatant sex symbol all over advertising and music…Is this the progress we want or is this continued slavery? Do you, young woman, want to grow up to be a sportscaster and have the bare minimum clothing on while your male counterpart sits beside you covered to the neck in layers of clothing? Or have a basketball player looks down your exposed chest when doing an interview.

Are we not aware of how powerful a gender we are and what we can achieve for social change together? Demand equality. Stand in your equality. Insist on what is right for you. Be who YOU are and if you don’t know – keep searching. It’s your right. You don’t have to march and protest and go to jail. Just be equal in your home and your job and your church and your schools.

Another book I learned a lot from is “Cane River” by Lalita Tademy. A fascinating story about individual rights combining women and racial rights.

Our rights were not easily attained by our ancestors. Salute our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters for the hard fought road they paved for us by honoring and growing yourself from any cultural slavery into FREEDOM

http://www.amazon.com/Cane-River-Oprahs-Book-Club/dp/0446615889

Sing it to me, Aretha!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FOUqQt3Kg0 RESPECT!!

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Pomp and Circumstance – The Class of 2015

Pomp and circumstance makes me cry. From my own graduation – The Class of 1967 – Russell High and after a few decades UK and Marshall. Then to my daughters high school and college graduations.  I still know the separation anxiety from back then. Uggg. And now, now? How did this all happen so quickly – my oldest grandchild’s high school graduation? The Class of 2015. So many changes.

William, who I held all night when he was 6 weeks old through a glorious Christmas Eve with a full moon on snow; who taught me to play trucks and then to read maps. I would pick him up at day care and after feeding him (because school makes a kid really hungry) he would draw a map. In actuality it was scribbles on a piece of paper but when we went outside he would follow the lines and we’d walk around town following his detailed instructions, explainations and directions.

I tried to understand Pokémon and listened intently but never really latched onto their collective significance. He left me with his extensive capabilities with Legos. Although I did spend many hours in ToysRUs agonizing over which box to buy.  Can you say Star Wars up the walls of his bedroom?

I sewed the official flag for Sector 7. We had road trips, one to buy a ridiculously expensive organic free range turkey for Thanksgiving. He navigated, perfectly through road construction. (Maybe it was the training from the  kindergarten map game. Hummm).

He liked to spend the night and we would talk about life’s maneuverings about soccer and bullying team mates. He helped me build labyrinths. I saved him from having to ride the school bus more often than not. “Gram, don’t make me ride the bus today.  Please come and get me!”

I took him all three times to drivers license testing. And then he was off – launched via a plastic card into his own world – friends, engineering classes, soccer, clubs,  and girls. No more exploring with a grandmother.
While Grandmother status eliminates the daily responsibilities of child nurturing, it is also a generation removed from the intimate dependency of parent-child. My link with William (and the other four) a generation removed. So I was “re-placed” by the growing up and away options. And while I know this is for sure, absolutely, positively the way things happen, I miss him.   And I know for sure, absolutely, positively our blood connection will never change nor will our history together and thus the influence we have had on each other is genetic and a part of who he is.

Life is ever changing. Like the DNA strands people, situations, places and things come together and separate. We come together and we grow apart while coursing through the mutable rapids of life where we hold tightly onto love and relationships while writing our stories a chapter at a time.  This is the unchanging part, the foundation part.

And I do not wish to stop you, William, or hinder your growth, or keep you from experiencing that which peaks your curiosity. I miss your childhood. And I do know that no matter where you go and what you do I will always be your grandmother – your favorite grandmother in Scott County. I am the one who rocked you that Christmas Eve when we talked of the life ahead. And I am the grandmother who once bought you a popcorn pan for your birthday and I am the one who lost you in the lobby of the hotel in Florida when you were two years old. And, yes, on my watch you only fell down the stairs once.  Only once. Oh and then there is the curling iron event.

Yet you did grow up, in spite of it all!

(Changing the words by inserting boy for girl, obviously!)

May your warrior heart be guided by compassion, tenacity, joy and love. And may the pitfalls be pot holes not sink holes.

I love you, William. Always.

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Goal #1 – check!!!

This story is a fictionalization of an actual event in my life. Were were stranded in a snow blizzard one post Christmas visit to Marion, Indiana to visit Hazel. We did spend the night at a stranger’s house where we were warm and safe and dry! We got a Christmas card from that family for years.
While I am unsure about many of the details I do know it was the first time I knew my parents to be afraid and not in compete control.
It was a scary event. It was a blessed event.

And it is published.  Forward I go!

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Revision, Review and Projections

Celebrate

Celebrate

Reviewing and Planning
In one of the chapters of my life my friend, Joanie, and I spent a long lunch together soon after New Years and reviewed the past year so that our changes didn’t go unnoticed. The reviews were enlightening. I continue to do so although as a solo endeavor. 2014 was a busy year for me. A year of growth and taking risks that have proven beneficial.
Most recently I am grateful for:
My daughter’s clear margins
A delightful Christmas and Solstice celebration with lots of time with my families
Thanksgiving and a 30 pound well-cooked turkey
I am also grateful:
to all those who have assisted me, supported me, kicked my butt, loved and cried with me, laughed and played with me.
to any I have assisted in allowing me to befriend, mentor, support and love them.
to myself for the ever expanding self-awareness I grow into by looking at my dark and light sides by striving, more consciously, to be the best I can be in each moment. It’s not always an easy task but eventually is rewarding.
I am grateful for the gardens of spring and summer which provided beautiful, healthy food then and now. I love growing, processing and preserving food. Tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, peaches, zucchini, pumpkin, yellow squash, garlic, onions, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, kale, spinach, snap peas, peppers and parsley. And even a few raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. And two or three stalks of asparagus. Makes me want to get my hands in the dirt even now!
I am grateful for pulling out my short stories from ten or so years ago, reworking and editing them and stepping out to publish them on Amazon/Kindle. I am grateful to overcome any hurdles with getting my work “out there” which certainly gave me courage and momentum to start this blog. I am thrilled with the response and reactions. I am amazed at the new ideas and fabulous people and their creativity. I love the expanded communication possibilities.
I am grateful for a completed family memorabilia project I have mentioned in several blogs! It was a doozie of a project.
These projects in conjunction with the three Artist Way classes I hosted this year, my underlying goal came sneaking up on me. While finishing these and several other unfinished projects — the elephant in the room emerged. The elephant is an in-process novel called Friends that I started many years ago that keeps tapping me on the shoulder every so often. And since the unfinished projects are now finished many belabored excuses are no longer valid! DRAT! Funny how many elephants I saw while Christmas shopping.
So, I feel the hibernation time drawing close – the down time necessary for me to write the newest first draft of a new novel.
Friends was born from the desire to explore the relationships between mother and daughter, the emotional aspects of ovarian cancer, women’s connections through friendship, children and career. I wrote most of it after a dear friend of mine passed with ovarian cancer. However, story got too close, life took my attention away and I didn’t finish. Mostly, it became too personal. Now I have some distance although 2 years ago when I got this novel out another dear friend and then another were diagnosed.
I did use one of the chapters as one of the first short stories I published. Saving Roxee. Great story!
AND – the self-sabotage part (Chapter 5, the Artist’s Way)is that I had all of the text stored on 3 ¼ disks. Remember those? I remember the day and the actual decision to toss the box of beige plastic with clear lid because it had been so long since I used any of them why was I keeping them around and. . .yep, I tossed all the soft copy. I do have some of the original words in hard copy so I won’t be starting from scratch but close. It took me months to face up to what I had done. Now that I am fessing up, I will consider retyping as a first draft. This could be a long process!
Oh, hummm. I do have another shorter novel I want to finish too. It’s about a woman learning Reiki. Wonder if I should work on that first? Her name is Ruby Mayfield. And I don’t have an ending for the last short story I want to publish. Is this procrastination again? Or what?
Either way, I am on it.
I can readily locate the short story with no end, Ruby. But Friends is not where I thought. Oh my.
So before I start tearing through things here let me wish you all A blessed 2015. I wish you all a healthy, joyous and prosperous 2015 full of laughter and loving kindness. And organization!
Good grief. So, I guess I know which to work on! Do I have to reread Chapter 5?
Hummm.

Jan 2 – I found it!

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Wrap-Up for 2014

From the mid 1800's through smartphones!

From the mid 1800’s through smartphones!

 

In response to my blogging friend at http://litebeing.com/ invitation I am responding to the 2014 Wrap-Up Challenge.  I offered to write for today.

What lessons did I learn?
Well, because I did not read daily and I let the month slip by, which December can so swiftly do, I realize the drafts for my Jan 30 post for litebeings 2014 Wrap-Up Challenge doesn’t fit the prescribed format. I didn’t completely read the directions. Drat! My initial understanding was to pick a question and go for it! So, thinking about this but not committing anything to paper I am two days from Publish and not really prepared. I do know there are no lashes or grades here. Just a noticing about my personal lessons! Mostly, I am prepared ahead of time. I do not like last minute rush, or get it done panic.
I also know that the best laid plans are often up for change at the last minute but laying the ground work allows for change to occur more smoothly. And I then am not too scattered to enjoy the event.
However, completely reading the directions brings up a whole other issue for me! Maybe now I will get the setting right for the dome lights to come on in my car when the door opens. My car is 5 years old! I know. Ridiculous. Opportunity for learning is up for review.

How did I serve others?
Some people I assisted by offering a shoulder and a listening ear, some by sharing my own story, some by being available, by feeding them and loving them, or in some way supporting them.
I like to help people and so I offer my support in many ways. Certainly through the Reiki sessions and shares, Akashic Record consults, workshops on creativity I assist others in their self-awareness growth. And I am a listener and a cheerleader for many. People feel safe with me and can share their secrets and fears and dreams.  I love that.
What blessings did I receive?
By watching people grow in understanding of themselves and their uniqueness, discovering their gifts and shedding their fears, I am blessed.
It’s been a very interesting to step into my “crone” stage and realize my life experience and study translates into something useful for others. Even now, I hesitate to write “words of wisdom” yet I know I have achieved a level of understanding and truth which I am very satisfied and comfortable with. And in sharing my story and knowledge it is merely that – sharing. The person listening or asking is responsible for using or discarding my words, leaving me off the hook.  So words of wisdom take them or leave them and I get to tell stories.  I love that, also!
Something I lost that turned into a blessing in disguise?
From the mid 1800’s through today my pictures and memorabilia are finally, at long last in order. Linear order. In 10 three inch binders complete with custom designed label, my life and who genetically came before me are in plastic sheets. The process took most of the winter of 2014. I fed the wood stove and sorted. My trip down memory lane was an emotional roller coaster. Purging and condensing what others saved proved, to say the least, difficult. In the end, however, the notebooks make much more sense than five Rubbermaid tubs of chaos.
I made decisions and tossed and kept so those down the line wouldn’t have to. I suspect a greater majority of the family history would have been tossed because I am the living connection, the one who knows the most – well besides my cousin, Sherry. We have become the crones.
In these life reviews I visited there were times when I struggled, was intensely loved, was confused, grief stricken and sometimes giddy and happy. I visited many relatives and their legacy and how their lives affected mine. I spent hours in review. A Fascinating, enlightening, and gut-wrenching process.
Now, I have project complete and a visual storybook.
Did I receive any gifts in terms of powers or skills?
My own stronger sense of my authentic self is my gift.

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Christmas and carrots

2014-12-05 22.00.36

christmas tree with carrot

I awoke Monday morning knowing the seasonal blahs were creeping in on me.  I thought maybe I was just missing Thanksgiving and the lovely holiday made for eating and talking. I considered going to the kitchen taking all the dishes out of the cabinets and washing them but knew Christmas would arrive anyhow.
For me, Christmas carries a degree of sadness and melancholy.  For some years past it nearly consumed me.  So, I have learned to “feel” it coming and have incorporated some new “traditions” that make me happy – like taking each of my grandchildren Christmas shopping for their parents and siblings – after we have dinner at a place of their choice. And I have found some new ways to decorate and liven up the place without too much hoopla.  It’s just no fun to foofy up the place alone.
Feeling the nose-dive nostalgia staring me down, I called a good friend for lunch.  Thai food is good for uplifting the spirits, huh?  And so not Christmasy.  I mean where would you get a Plum pudding anyway?  I think Uncle John wrote a Christmas letter about that once, alas, the nostalgia spiral. He even sent a recipe. I’ve never tried it.
My friend frequents this Thai restaurant and has become friendly with the owner and the cooks so much so the owner brought her food to our table, sat down to chat.  Soon, the waitress/cook joined us and did most of the chatting.  She shared her story.  She was born and raised in Laos under Communist rule, was so unhappy she swam 3 hours across the Mekong River into Thailand where she was immediately put in jail and then into a refugee camp for a year where there was so little food they ate mice.  She was then brought here by the US government to Akron, Ohio under sponsorship.
Well, she sure made my nostalgia seem incredibly whiney and I knew that my Christmas season sniveling was about to dry up.  Now, I’ve dealt with many deaths, a few divorces, abandonment issues, lack of trust, lack of faith, some, ok, many layers of self-esteem issues –to name only a few– but I for sure never had to deal with escaping my own country under threat of death through unknown, extremely dangerous perils. I was witnessing a woman with some courage.
I stand in gratitude for the comfort of my home, my government.  Well, as a “big brother” product of my generation and a reader of the conspiracy theories, I have some hesitation in giving safety in the US carte blanche – but USA by far better than many places.
The rest of her story I can’t really print because the language and the story turns a bit off color. Happens that the Thai word for cut sounds awfully like our current favorite profanity — yes, the F-word.  Several new immigrant were in the sponsor’s kitchen preparing food for visitors. One newby came into the dining room asking is she needed to, cut (insert Thai word) the carrot. You need cut (insert Thai word) cantelope.  And the story continues with with this woman saying, “You no need cut (insert Thai word) carrot.  I’m just saying that cutting a carrot bilingually brought Christmas cheer back to me with teary laughter.
I am so grateful for Pad Thai.
Oh, and she says mice taste more like squirrel than like chicken.

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