blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Monday, July 29, 2013

MEDIUM RARE by Patti Martin


Here's a poem by a Crone-friend, just turned 70, who has occasionally lived a Blood On The Tracks kind of life. I thought this poem expressed a mood we may all be familiar with, come 2:30 a.m.


The steak knife
Slips across the grain
Like the surgeon’s scalpel.
The meat gives way,
And pale blood flows
In rivulets from the red, cool center
Of perfect rare,
Onto cool porcelain.
I press my lips to
The warm, rich flow
And taste only
Cold ashes
And regret.
                                                ~ Patricia A. Martin


Monday, July 22, 2013

My Trip to France, a ramble

I've been watching The Tour de France since US sports TV decided it was "content" a few weird Americans might watch, back in the late 1980's, when the first US GT champion, Greg LeMond, hit the cycling scene. At first, coverage was patchy--you practically had to know someone at the network in order to track down when a condensed 60-90 minutes of the three week race would be shown. Today we get the entire delirious three weeks with live and repeat showings, and I have to admit, it's my laziest time of year. As I'm a cycling junkie and a wanna-be-but-too-poor-to-be-a-traveler, I call it my "Trip to France" and take the excuse to sit and watch for hours every day. Where I live, in s/central PA, it's usually hot and drought stricken. The garden is turning up its toes for lack of water, or developing some strange, 21st Century plague that this old dirt-digger has never seen before. I'm hot, disgusted and ready to pack it in, so I take to hiding out in the delightful a/c which my husband decided the house "really needed" about the time he was getting ready to retire.

This 2013 edition of The Tour was the uber party of all time. Three hundred thousand people lined the narrow roads at the top of the storied slopes of the Alpe d'Huez. The organizers closed central Paris for the finale and used the venerable Arc d'Triomphe as a backdrop for a cyling-based spectacular disco son et lumiere.  Check out U Tube:

The French, as a nation, go on holiday about now, so the roads around the Tour are clogged with spectators and the thirty-seconds-of-fame junkies who want to charge up the 9% grades beside the professional riders, screaming in their ears, while dressed in some bizarre costume, or waving their national flag. At night, these hardy fans, who camp for days on mountain tops, drink and dance--usually wearing as little as they dare--in order to be in a certifiable state by the time cyclists finally arrive.  These days, it seems that all of Europe heads over to join in. Flags of every country line the roads. The Tour is originally pan-European, but there are riders from Japan, from enormous and mysterious west Asian countries with "stan" at the end of their names, Russians and member of their ex-empire, as well as South and North Americans. (A twenty-three year old Columbian mountain climber showed up this year and blew the doors off all the big favorites, and winning Best Young Rider and the coveted King of the Mountains competition.)

What's this got to do with Cronehenge? Well, over the years, the Tour has provided a good view for me of the globe stitching itself together, using a spectator sport as the needle. Here we see our sameness, our humanity, far more than our differences. At the bottom, I think it's the same impulse which gives us the Olympic Games. It's good for our collective heads to cheer and celebrate together.

For Americans, it's a serious change from the post war put a motor on yourself thinking which used to dominate. We're exercising more, and seeing exercise as something people of all ages should do, not just the physically gifted or the young. More and more of those weird people with "pansy" black shorts, odd shoes and helmets are to be seen on the roads, along with those other "health nuts", the runners. US Cities are putting in bike lanes and beginning to learn that bicycles can be another useful form of transit, just as they are in major European cities like London and Amsterdam. Cycling is gaining "respectability", even in the land of the almighty gas-guzzler. If enough of us used it for short trips, it would lower oil consumption, cut road congestion, carbon emissions--and, maybe, even, the fat from our thighs.

"When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the human race." H.G. Wells

~~Juliet Waldron

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Crone Henge: But--You Aren’t Old! (A Crone Complaint.)

Crone Henge: But--You Aren’t Old! (A Crone Complaint.):      The author with her Bill Boston Bike...1979 A sweet young college girl made this remark to me at the end of a Senior Zum...

But--You Aren’t Old! (A Crone Complaint.)



 The author with her Bill Boston Bike...1979

A sweet young college girl made this remark to me at the end of a Senior Zumba class. She, freshly made member of the gym, had gone up front to complain to the instructor that she had “barely broken a sweat,” and that she was “used to a higher level of intensity” because “I’m a dancer, you know.” I’d divined what was coming from her manner of approach to the instructor, who was new on the job herself, but I also knew that I, personally, was raining sweat, and that I’d had to go to the floor on one occasion to perform the exercises which usually move my bulging discs back into place. I wasn’t about to have her barge in and think she could tell the instructor what to do. In the first place, this was called a “Gold” class, which, in this gym’s particular parlance, means that it is supposed to be geared to older people, people who are less physically fit, and to Zumba beginners, who need to learn the steps.

I touched the instructor on the shoulder and said “I thought this class was great!” And to the sweet young thing, now looking cross, I said, “This gym has almost no classes geared to old people, and I’m really grateful to them for providing this one. It is identified as a ‘gold’ class on the schedule for a reason, because it is supposed to be slower.”   The doe eyes regarded me with only slightly veiled contempt. “But--You’re not old!” she declared, trying on a smile, as if by simply giving me what she took for a compliment she could make me see things her way.

In return, I said nothing, but my mind seethed with possible retorts, my first choice being, “I’ll change bodies with you for a day and then you can tell me whether I’m ‘old’ or not.” Instead, I just patted the instructor again on the shoulder, said “thanks for a great class,” smiled at Ms. Slim-Toned-and-Fit, and remarked that there were plenty of hard, high speed classes available, and left the field.

The whole interchange was typical, in a world which worships youth almost as much as it worships the almighty dollar.   The young critter expected to get her way with a little sweet talk. It’s her right, you see, simply because she’s young. She was also quite certain that saying “but, you’re not old!” would please me and put me on her side in the matter, simply because of the Joan Rivers type vanity she’d assumed I must have.
I don’t, though. Truth is stronger than vanity or the desire to please a pretty child. I am ‘old’ and I know it. I had several bad bicycle falls (dog attacks) in the '70’s and now I pay the price in arthritis and joint pain. I typed for a living for forty years, and have the office worker’s bad back/neck to prove it. I’ve nearly died and been cut and pasted back together again-twice. My physical self is no longer seamless or supple, and I have bouts of pain for no apparent reason. This is the reality with which I live, and although I don’t usually go around bitching to the world at large, it’s real. I take ibuprofen and get on with it, just like everyone else in my age group. (I'm lucky to be alive!) Still, I’d like to think that I can go to a few gym classes and have a little fun dancing, along with others of my age who are also neither fit nor young anymore.

That shouldn't be too much to ask.
~~Juliet Waldron
Historical novels with Grit and Passion @

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago

 During 1974-79, Judy Chicago, along with collaborators both male and female in what are patronizingly called “decorative arts,” (embroidery, weaving, painting on ceramic) created a work called The Dinner Party. The installation is triangular table with an exquisitely embroidered runner and 39 hand-painted and decorated ceramic plates. Each was made in the shape of a vulva, and decorated in a way which was meant to express the spiritual, artistic and esthetic contribution to society made by a famous woman.

The work has plenty of critics, some, the usual suspects, powerful old men in high places who loudly declared that it was “pornographic,” but also quite a few feminists. Some criticism has to do with the way certain famous women are represented—for instance, frilly Victoria’s Secret pink might not have been the best choice for the private, solitary Emily Dickinson. Perhaps the inclusion of Georgia O’Keeffe, who declared that her flower paintings had nothing to do with the vaginal, showed a disregard for her often stated opinion. Perhaps Virginia Woolf, a writer who despised the public’s obsession with the gender of authors, is another who should not have been included.  Other female critics have said that it’s not only vulgar, a tune with one note, but demeaning to women, reducing these famous foremothers to a bad-joke common denominator.

I’m not a visual artist, but it seems to me that while you might find fault with a part of the whole, The Dinner Party accomplishes its purpose, both as a work of art and as a feminist statement.  It is estimated that 15 million people on three continents have seen it, pondered it, and argued about it. The installation has been a taking off place for women to think about their obscured history and about their accomplishments, about their historical and mythical power, their works of art and their creativity.  Not since the Stone Age has such a shout-out been created for the central fact of femininity. If the penis has been celebrated as the great ejaculator of ideas, why can’t the vulva, too, be celebrated and honored as it once was in pagan times? This, after all, is the joyous portal through which all creation emerges.

~~~Juliet Waldron

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The Dinner Party may be seen at the Brooklyn Museum: