Because It’s Too Easy to Forget That This is True

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Words for (Black History Month) Wednesday

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To Black Women

~ Gwendolyn Brooks

Sisters,
where there is cold silence
no hallelujahs, no hurrahs at all, no handshakes,
no neon red or blue, no smiling faces
prevail.
Prevail across the editors of the world
who are obsessed, self-honeying and self-crowned
in the seduced arena.

It has been a
hard trudge, with fainting, bandaging and death.
There have been startling confrontations.
There have been tramplings. Tramplings
of monarchs and of other men.

But there remain large countries in your eyes.
Shrewd sun.

The civil balance.
The listening secrets.
And you create and train your flowers still.

 

Picture found here.

From the Witch’s Bedtable

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From then on it was as though she lived to music.  To music she followed him barefoot, climbed a sycamore tree to look into a magpie’s nest, made love in the rain.  Once, they came to a wide-rattling burn, with a green lawn on the further bank.  He leaped across, and held out his hand for her to catch hold of.  It was too wide a leap for her and she took to her wings.  It was the first time in her life she had flown, and the sensation delighted her.  She rose in another flight, curling and twirling for the pleasure and mastery of it, as a fiddler plays a cadenza.  She soared higher and higher, looking down on the figure at the burnside, small as  beetle and the centre of the wide world.  He beckoned her down; she dropped like a hawk and they rolled together on the grass.  He made little of her flying, even less of her queenship, nothing at all of her immense seniority.  Love was in the present:  in the sharp  taste of the rowan berries he plucked for her, in the winter night when a gale got up and whipped them to the shelter of a farm where he kindled a fire and roasted turnips on a stick, in their midnight mushrooming, in the long summer evenings when they lay on their backs too happy to move or speak, in their March-hare curveting and cuffing.  For love-gifts, he gave her acorns, birds’ eggs, a rose gall because it is called the fairies’ pincushion, a yellow snail shell.

~ Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Monday at the (Presidents’ Day) Movies

The Magical Battle for America 2.18.18

Writers shouldn’t, in my humble opinion, write about their process.  No one cares how many cups of coffee you got up to brew; just sit down and write the damn thing.  But I hope that, today, my readers will allow me a bit about process.  This is a difficult column to write and, in any event, I’m never sure that the muses won’t desert me and that I won’t find myself high and dry on Sunday morning.  Lately, I’ve been going back over and over to study the actual Battle of Britain and to learn just how desperate things were when Churchill took over the defense of Britain and when England’s Witches decided to punch Nazis.

But it’s worse than that in America.  Our attackers are, at least by half, internal.

I spent at least a quarter of a century being a student in, mostly, public schools.  After graduating from high school, I was in school for a bachelors, masters, and juris doctors degree.  I spent a lot of time sitting in a desk, an easy target for a shooter.

For 17 years, I taught high school, managed special education programs,  & wrote high school curricula.  My son went to public school in an area full of hunters.

All of which is a too long way of saying that I feel a strong connection to the teachers, parents, and students brutalized by America’s most recent terrorist attach on a high school.

Today, I stopped at the neighborhood bakery and bought cookies for the team on my way to G/Son’s county recreation basketball game.  I got there a few minutes late.  Parents and siblings lined the bleachers.  County coaches and refs were managing about 2 dozen 10-12 year old boys, keeping them busy running up and down, and up and down, and down, and up and down, and up and up, and down the court.

And I looked at the doors and looked at the bleachers and tried to figure out how we could protect the maximum number of prepubescent young boys if a shooter were to blast through the glass doors.

No shooters came.  The buzzer went off.

G/Son’s team won.  The teams walked up and congratulated each other because, playing fields of Eaton and all that, what we’re really doing here is trying to teach these boys sportsmanship in a world where that no longer seems to mean anything except being a chump, yet we cling to the belief that there must be more than that.

So, that’s my process.

Please work this protection with me.

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Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp a stone or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky:  Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work?  Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable. This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane.  It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

The school in Florida where the most recent act of terrorism took place was named in honor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  I am embarrassed to say that I’d never learned of her.  Wikipedia says, inter alia, that:

Marjory Stoneman Douglas (April 7, 1890 – May 14, 1998) was an American journalist, writer, feminist, and environmentalist known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. Moving to Miami as a young woman to work for The Miami Herald, she became a freelance writer, producing over a hundred short stories that were published in popular magazines. Her most influential work was the book The Everglades: River of Grass (1947), which redefined the popular conception of the Everglades as a treasured river instead of a worthless swamp. Its impact has been compared to that of Rachel Carson‘s influential book Silent Spring (1962). Her books, stories, and journalism career brought her influence in Miami, enabling her to advance her causes.

As a young woman Douglas was outspoken and politically conscious of the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements. She was called upon to take a central role in the protection of the Everglades when she was 79 years old. For the remaining 29 years of her life she was “a relentless reporter and fearless crusader” for the natural preservation and restoration of the nature of South Florida.[1] Her tireless efforts earned her several variations of the nickname “Grande Dame of the Everglades”[2] as well as the hostility of agricultural and business interests looking to benefit from land development in Florida. Numerous awards were given to her, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was inducted into several halls of fame.

Douglas lived to 108, working until nearly the end of her life for Everglades restoration. Upon her death, an obituary in The Independent in London stated, “In the history of the American environmental movement, there have been few more remarkable figures than Marjory Stoneman Douglas.”

Tonight, I am going to light a candle and some incense to Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  I am going to ask her to stand beside and behind the young women who are standing up against violence to the people who live in and around the everglades.

I shan’t be gone long; you come, too.

Stand up and call Marjory.  Call the schoolteachers in your lineage and call your ancestors who braved many, many troubles just to be able to get an education.  Send them to protect America’s schools and America’s schoolchildren.  See them forming a giant honor guard around America’s schools.  Charge that honor guard with bullet-proof protection.  Breathe.  Pull energy up from the ground.  Send it to circle around your local school.

Miss Marjory, we need you now.  Hear us.  We will work to save your sacred Everglades; please stand now with America’s children.

Breathe.

As you sit and rest, know that you are not working alone.  The Resistance — both magical and in all of its mundane (phone banking, check writing, representative calling, letter writing, canvassing, voting, volunteering, tutoring, restoring wetlands, growing plants for bees) manifestations — is huge.  Know that you are a powerful worker of magic, rooted in your very own landbase, working with the strong archetypes of this land, assisted by countless unseen others who labor in league with you.  You are brave and growing braver.  Your magic and your practical workings can make the difference.  The five banners and your magic wand are always available to you when you want to do magic to strengthen America.

Breathe.

Return to your own body, your own landbase.  Open your eyes.  Rub your face, move your arms and legs.  Notice the detail you selected to call you back from the astral.  Open your circle.  Drink something, maybe sun tea or a cup of hot nettle soup.  If you like, have something to eat, maybe pecans or the scooped-out fruit of a persimmon.

During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral.  You may want to repeat this working.  You may want to place something on your altar to help you to remember the Everglades or America’s schools.  Are you inspired to make any art?  Can you sit beside a warm fire, or light incense, or stare into a candle?   What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance?  If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

 

Saturday Recipe Blogging

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This has been a difficult winter in terms of the flu and bad colds and we’re not out of the woods, yet.  So it’s important to eat healthy foods that will strengthen our immune systems and allow us to either fight off or recover from the bugs that are attacking us.

Cauliflower is plentiful this winter and is good for your health in many ways. In particular, it has a huge amount of Vitamin C — one serving supplies 77% of an adult’s recommended daily consumption.  It is high in fiber and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Nowadays, you can often find purple and gold cauliflower, in addition to the more traditional white.  I don’t notice any difference in taste, but I find the purple tends to cook up into a bit of an unappetizing grey color, so I prefer the gold or white (unless there’s a good sale on the purple).

You can, of course, boil cauliflower.   Served with some butter, salt, and pepper, or with some cheese sauce, it’s a warm, satisfying side dish that goes well with almost any winter dinner:  fish, chicken, tofu, ham.  Some people like to run boiled cauliflower through the food processor with a bit of milk to get a lower-carb substitute for mashed potatoes.  The florets are also good raw in a salad or as hors d’oeuvres dipped in a spicy yogurt dip.

But my favorite way to fix cauliflower is to roast it.  It’s easy and roasting brings out the sweet, nutty flavor.  This winter, I’ve been roasting it with tumeric, a spice with many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and possible anti-cancer properties.  Because the taste is a bit unfamiliar to Americans, we tend not to use it as much as we could, so this recipe   is an easy way to begin working more tumeric into your diet.  I add some ground cinnamon, salt, and pepper.  If there are leftovers, I’ll snack on them cold the next day.

Do you have a good way to prepare cauliflower or to use tumeric?  Please share with us in the comments!  What else are you cooking this winter to keep yourself and your family healthy?

Picture found here. 

NB:  Several of the links go to Dr. Joseph Mercola’s page.  I find he’s a great source on nutrition and what he says about cauliflower and tumeric is pretty common knowledge these days.  He’s also apparently something of an anti-vaxxer, and I disagree with his positions on that.  As always, it’s important to check a number of sources and to get medical advice from your own, trained, professional.

 

ERA YES!

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“Wait! What? The Equal Rights Amendment is dead. The ratification deadline passed more than 35 years ago!”

Hold on there, Sparky. Not so fast.

A little history. The first draft of the Equal Rights Amendment was crafted by suffragist Alice Paul in 1923, three years after women won the right to vote. It read:

“Women and men shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”

It eventually morphed to its current version:

“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

The amendment was introduced in EVERY SINGLE legislative session between 1923 and 1972, when it was finally achieved the required 2/3 votes in both Houses of Congress. Then it was up to the states, 3/4 of which (38) would have to ratify for it to become part of the Constitution. The initial deadline for ratification was set as 1979, and when that year came and went without the required 38 ratifications, Congress extended to 1982. That deadline also came and went, with only 35 states ratifying.

“That’s great, Mrs. Whatsit. I could’ve read the Wikipedia entry my damn self. It’s been mostly dead for more than 35 years. In fact, Wikipedia indicates that, since then, five states have actually rescinded their ratifications. What’s your point?”

This is where it gets complicated. NOW (the National Organization for Women) sued the states that had rescinded. The US District court said the states could rescind, but it went to the Supreme Court, which vacated that decision because “the Amendment has failed of adoption no matter what the resolution of the legal issues presented here.” So technically, those five states are still on the record as ratifying, and the Constitution itself makes no provision for a state to change its mind.

Meanwhile, in 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify.

Here’s how things stand now:

Because the Constitution itself doesn’t address this question directly, we’re required to go to the 1939 Supreme Court Coleman v. Miller decision, which was about an amendment that dealt with child labor laws. Congress never set a deadline for ratification, so according to SCOTUS, that means that the Child Labor Amendment is still technically pending before the states (although it’s not exactly urgent business these days because of the Fair Labor Standards Act).

In fact, ratification deadlines were not common until the Eighteenth Amendment. The Nineteenth Amendment didn’t have one, but every amendment since has.

ERA activists are arguing that the Coleman decision, combined with the lack of Constitutional process for rescinding ratification, means that if we were able to get 38 states to ratify, Congress could basically change its mind about the deadline, and voila, the ERA becomes Amendment 28.

In the intervening years, the ERA has been periodically reintroduced in Congress, and in 2011, Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced legislation to remove the ratification deadline. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) followed up with a Senate bill requesting the same the following year. Neither passed. And in 2013, the New Mexico State legislature passed a resolution requesting removal of the ratification deadline as well. It was entered into the Congressional record.

I should stress: This Coleman-based theory has not been tested in the courts. And if we were to get those last two states to ratify, it almost certainly would. The five states that rescinded would likely come back to try to yank their ratifications again, and no doubt someone would bring suit claiming that Congress couldn’t remove the ratification deadline after the fact. SCOTUS would almost certainly be a 4-4 tie, split on ideological lines, plus Anthony Kennedy, and who knows what he would do? Meanwhile, the current GOP Congress is not a particularly friendly place for women’s rights, so getting legislation passed in both Houses to remove the ratification deadline is not exactly assured.

All that being said, regardless of what happens this fall (and early signs seem to indicate not just a blue wave, but a blue tsunami), the GOP will not control both Houses of Congress forever. So the best thing those of us who care about equal rights for women can do is to be ready when that day comes.

What do I mean by “be ready”?

Get those last two states to ratify.

Who’s in play?

The deep South, of course, which is a lost cause in more ways than one. Utah, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Virginia.

Although pro-ERA activists are targeting ALL of the above, the most promising states for ratification appear to be Illinois and Virginia. (I still can’t figure out why Illinois hasn’t ratified yet. It’s a puzzlement.)

Virginia, while technically still the South, is an increasingly indigo purple state that hasn’t chosen a Republican in a state-wide election in almost a decade. After the state-wide blue wave that nearly flipped control of the House of Delegates, Virginia activists made another run at ERA ratification in this year’s legislative session, which, sadly, just went down to defeat.

But the fight continues. What can you do?

Glad you asked!

Ratify ERA has a great list of suggestions. Short version:

  1. Stay informed.
  2. Spread the word (like this blog post!).
  3. Lobby (particularly if you live in Illinois or Virginia or have family or friends there).
  4. Donate (of course).

Equal Means Equal has some solid ideas, too.

Image found here. (and do click the link and read the Politico article – it’s more terrific evidence for why we need to keep pushing on this topic, even in 2018)

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.