blog description

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015





American history was important to my mother, who was proud of her membership in The Colonial Dames. Stories of early America were integral to my childhood. Naturally, the ones about George Washington were particularly important. I heard early the old pious tale about  the cherry tree and about the coin his super-powerful arm was supposed to have thrown across the Potomac.
My interest was helped along because I serendipitously happened into life on George Washington’s birthday. For many years I took pleasure from sharing the day with the great man. After all, back in the ‘50’s this was still celebrated on the day on which it fell, which meant that my birthday was a school holiday. Pretty sweet! Even if February in upstate NY meant we were buried in 6 feet of snow. Friends came to house for sledding and for snow-fort-building, but, by the time I was eight or nine, costume parties were my favorite.   To have a costume party in the dead of winter was a little weird—remember, this is the ‘50’s —but everyone got into the spirit, even if it just meant finding last autumn’s Halloween costume again.

To get back to President Washington--I appreciated him even more after I grew up. I learned, as I read history, that he went far beyond homilies, holidays and cherry pies.   


Father of Our Country. Think about what it means. It’s pretty heavy stuff to lay on anybody who put his pants on one leg at a time. Still, when you take a look at his track record here’s what you find:

Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army upon whose victory the thirteen colonies depended to secure their separate and equal station among the powers of the earth. In the summer of 1787, he presided over America's Constitutional Convention. His presence lent decisive significance to the document drafted there, which continues in force in the twenty-first century as the oldest written constitution in the world. From 1789-1796, he held the highest office in the land as the first president of the United States of America under this constitution.”   
* The Claremont Institute


Even more important than all that formality above, Washington was “the man who would not be King.” Unlike every other 'People's' Revolution since, our military hero didn’t become a dictator, one imperfectly hidden beneath a variety of sound-bite "savior"' designations, as have so many others--Napoleon, Pol-Pot, Kim Il-sung, Stalin, Oliver Cromwell and Mao Zedong. Once the shouting (and the initial blood bath) are over, it's been time to return again to the same old thing--perhaps with a new group of privileged characters running things--but, nevertheless, back to monkey business as usual, where, as George Orwell says, "...some are more equal than others."

After our American Revolutionary War ended, in contrast to so many others "fearless leaders" of history, George Washington collected his hat, got up on favorite horse ("Blue Skin") and went home, back to his plantation. Granted, he was already rich and privileged. After the war, he was a living icon to boot, but he didn't use that considerable leverage to help himself to more. He didn't found a dynasty or play god. Some years later, when his term as our first president ended, he went home for a second time.

George Washington was, in fact, the “Cincinnatus” his contemporaries hailed. Exactly like that legendary Roman farmer, he left off plowing his fields to assume leadership of his country in a time of war. After the war was over, he quietly went home and took up life again as a private citizen. Like the title of James Flexner’s biography, George Washington truly was The Indispensable Man, a man who--rather astonishingly--didn't use his overwhelming personal popularity, his influence and his great wealth to grab America for himself.
~Juliet Waldron~
Danger, Flight, and a surprising Love--
Discover the American Revolution 

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Remember when we were little girls, and boys had cooties?


Now, I wasn’t a prissy child. I played with frogs, pollywogs, and worms. I did outdoor tasks, such as raking leaves, shoveling snow, and the  correct flip of the wrist with which to toss dog poop into the acre of weeds which surrounded our house. In summer, I made roads in the gravel of the driveway and built houses in trees, so I was no stranger to grub, grit and summer sweat.


Nevertheless, little boys were gross. They smelled funny, like members of some other tribe—which, of course, they were. Their hair was cut short in those days, so their big heads and pink scalp was always in view. Lots of them picked their noses. They sneezed and burped and farted—and then laughed about it. Their ears might be full of wax. (A girl’s ears might be full of wax, too, but she at least had hair to hide it.) Boys were rough and loud, likely to break out in a match of pushing and shoving as easily as just stand there  and wait for the bell which signaled that it was time to leave the playground and march back inside.   


Then the inevitable change happened. We all grew up. Suddenly those bare-scalped boys—some still not as tall as we girls—became, for the first time, extremely thought-provoking. Friends started to-- “like” was the euphemism--certain boys. High School Romances began. The participants traded each other like cards, one by one, entering the School of Drama & Heartbreak. Sometimes a girl was popular and sometimes she was not, mostly depending upon how dreamy/eligible was her boyfriend. Boys became men and we became women. The mating game began in earnest, with all those triumphs, tragedies, ecstasies, and Nymph-and-Satyr-Aphrodite-in-her-nightie lusts and longings.


I’m sure you get the drift, so I’ll fast forward.

And it’s easy to do that, now that I’ve reached the Crone age. All the organic bits that made the other sex desirable--so lubricious and exciting--have withered and shriveled or been excised by the good docs. Men and women have never been on the same page as far as our methods of communication go, and now, once again, men have regained their old status as an alien species.


Some women, I know, do not share this experience, but I mean, really! I sure as heck don’t look hot anymore, with all these wrinkles and sags and neither do my age mates of the masculine persuasion.  I have one of these fellows at home, who, despite 50 years of marriage, of pleading and/or nagging, is still pretty much in the classification of “bear with furniture.” I see other males, too, in and out of the a.m. gym for the Silver Sneakers © programs, or bored and wandering about the supermarket with their bill hats and their flannel shirts, their “chests that have fallen into their drawers,” as the Grand Olde Oprey joke goes, bellying up to the deli counter.  “Testosterone burns,” have inflicted hair loss, sometimes resulting in an unfortunate style choice which I call “the Atoll,” greasy long hair which encircles a  desert island-like bald spot. But even if they’re the lucky old dude with a great wardrobe and lots of Country and Western curls, men, as a group, have, once again, taken on an alien aura reminiscent of my childhood.