hot plate kate

rants and ramblings freshly served

Thoughts on Femininity and Nellie Oleson — March 10, 2017

Thoughts on Femininity and Nellie Oleson

I had another blog before this one, which I deleted.  The blog was largely focused on religion and gender roles.  Some of these thoughts have probably appeared other places in this blog.  Because I was raised in a household which promoted a rather narrow view of femininity these topics are sometimes on my mind.

Some people seem to have the belief that women who identify strongly with traditional gender roles are just better people all around compared to their less feminine counterparts.

The woman who puts on a veneer of femininity or has the physical attributes that are considered to be the most feminine is considered to be a better “book” just based on its cover.  My sister and my mother have always been better than I at projecting a veneer of culturally approved femininity.  They are both smaller than me, and have better raw material as far as looks.

At some point in my life, I realized I had trouble fitting in to what others thought feminine beauty and feminine behavior should be.  Growing up, for a long time, I was always among the tallest of my classmates, boys and girls.  Eventually I stopped growing so fast, and many of the boys grew taller than me.  By this point I had already been given the message that small = feminine.  Plus I had my dad’s broad shoulders so that didn’t help.  I remember for a while being about 13 and wanting to shrink in to myself, and would often slouch.  At that point I was put on a diet by my parents….my shape was rearranging and I think it must have disturbed them.  At the time I weighed less than the midpoint of my ideal body weight range.  If you want to make sure a girl is going to have a fucked up view  of controlling her weight, do what my parents did.  Expect it to backfire.

I have often struggled with social awkwardness and being shy.  My mother and sister didn’t have these same struggles.  They could speak in honeyed tones with strangers if the situation called for it.  The private versions of my mother and sister were something else all together.  Swear words, raised voices and insults you could never dream of.

Do you know the TV character Nellie Oleson, from the TV series Little House on the Prairie, somewhat based on a series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder?  I loved the books, and often watched the TV series.  When I was older I started rewatching the TV series, and didn’t love it quite so much, as I don’t think it stayed true to the books.

Anyway Nellie was an awesome character.  She was the daughter of a couple who owned the town’s mercantile.  Her snooty mother Harriet made sure Nellie was always dressed in the finest clothes.  Nellie’s blonde hair was neatly curled with lovely ribbons.  In Harriet’s eyes, Nellie was far more cultured and refined compared to the Ingalls girls who wore simpler clothes and came from a family that wasn’t as wealthy.  The character of Laura Ingalls was a bit of a  tomboy.  Harriet tended to look down upon many of the families in the town of Walnut Grove, including the Ingalls family.

If you’ve seen the show you’ll know that Nellie was a straight up brat. Nellie and Laura often did not get along. Her fine clothes and neatly done hair provided a contrast for Nellie’s character.  The character of Laura was also imperfect, but in the end Laura always had a better heart.  So the cover doesn’t always match the book inside.

Time flies — March 9, 2017

Time flies

Here is a look at some daffodils coming up in my garden.  They are coming up early this year.  February was very mild so my flower bulbs have gotten the message it is time to sprout.  Hopefully it doesn’t freeze again.

I’d like to have a conversation with one of those people who doesn’t believe that global warming exists.

The dog has spring fever, she would like to go outside as much as possible.  Of course she doesn’t care about getting muddy paws.

Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocus and more.  Spring is one of my favorite flower seasons, but the bulbs are only around for such a short time.  Every fall I say I will plant more bulbs. Sometimes I do, but sometimes the thought of digging isn’t so appealing.  I’m not as strong as I used to be.  If I was rich I would get someone to plant bulbs by the hundreds for me.

As it gets warmer out, it is lovely to feel the warm sunshine on my face.  I am tempted to get a blanket and take a nap in the backyard to catch a few rays.  Of course I would have to put my SPF one million sunscreen on though.    Many people where I live travel to warmer destinations this time of year.  The thought of being on a warm beach by the ocean sounds positively lovely

We’ll be seeing our college age daughter soon.  Years ago, before I ever had kids, I’m not sure that I could have ever guessed that having everyone together would provide such a sense of contentment.  Just like the flower bulbs, it seems like she blossomed from a baby to a young woman at light speed.  Sometimes it seems like it was yesterday.

International Women’s Day…No Strike For Me — March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day…No Strike For Me

Today is International Women’s Day.  It has been suggested that women don’t go to work today to support this cause.

I’m not a big believer in strikes, especially if you have a job that is connected with the welfare of others.  Since I am a nurse, this would include me.

From my vantage point, it would seem to be a bit of a luxury not to go to work.  It would also seem a bit arrogant to take the day off and let others struggle to take of their own workload and yours as well.

Sacrificial Love — March 3, 2017

Sacrificial Love

Some time ago, I attended a wedding.  The priest gave a sermon that partly touched on the aspect of sacrificial love.  While I don’t remember the sermon in its entirety, I remember I was deeply touched, and reminded me of the good parts that I remember when I was still a practicing Catholic.  What happens when our spouse gets sick?  How do we deal when one spouse ages more quickly than the other. I found a post about the movie “The Notebook” that reminded me of the priest’s sermon

I’ve been thinking about the “in sickness and in health” part of marriage.  My husband rarely gets sick but is now facing some health issues.  What the scope and severity of these issues are remains to be seen.  Hopefully my husband recovers quickly and is able to function as he had before, that is of course what he wants and what I pray for.

But I know sometime in the future, our physical bodies will change and we will together face the issues of growing old together, if we are both blessed to live long lives.  What will that mean for our marriage?  Only time will tell.

While these thoughts aren’t new, I often wonder how prepared we are as a society to face the challenges of a sick spouse.  What happens if our sick or aging spouse is no longer able to meet our needs, sexual or otherwise?  That day could come with no warning.  Would we be ready to love our spouses in a sacrificial way?

I sometimes read marriage related books or posts , some of a Christian variety.  Often I end up more aggravated by reading the articles.  There are so many Christian writers and bloggers who seem to have the message of be a love machine that never says no if you want to have a good marriage. Be a lady on the streets but a freak under the sheets. Of course they don’t use the actual language of “freak under the sheets”, but they would be honest in their intentions if they did. But they never seem to address what happens to the marriage when one spouse can’t meet the physical expectations, either temporarily or permanently.  Where is the rest of the foundation of your marriage?

I’d like to think that when the time comes, I would be somewhat prepared.  It would surely be a challenge, but it one I hope I could meet to the best of my ability.  Maybe I’m wrong about my belief that society doesn’t  prepare us for the final years of marriage.

Of course as a nurse, I have seen many elderly couples who do seem content in their marriages, despite their physical losses.  I’d love to hear their stories about how they have navigated through the challenges.

 

SELFISH — March 1, 2017

SELFISH

Lent starts today.  It is after midnight as I write, so I guess it is technically Ash Wednesday. Even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I try to put some thought in to Lent.  Usually I think about something I can do, rather than something I can give up.

I’d thought about writing the post about being selfish before I thought about Lent.

Sometimes as a woman I feel as if there is extra pressure not to appear selfish to others. Right now I am going through a season in life where I am trying to do everything to make family my number one priority.  By that I mean my husband and my kids, but not my in laws or my own family of origin.  I don’t necessarily feel the need to explain myself, but somehow a part of me cares how others might view me.  So, no I don’t want to work an extra shift at my job.  No,  my husband and I would just rather stay home, rather than spend some time with family members we aren’t so crazy about.  You get the idea.

Yesterday at work was a bit crazy.  As I’ve mentioned before I am a nurse.  I was focused on getting the important things done, instead of being a pillow fluffer.  I closed my office door so I could try to get my work done more quickly without distractions.  Of course I look more approachable if my door is open.  I spent part of my work day taking part in an educational function.  I guess since I was one of the organizers I was supposed to buy treats out of my own pocket.  But because I’m selfish, lazy AND cheap, I skipped buying the treats.

Maybe during Lent, I’ll give more though to negotiating the idea of being selfish.  How can one be loving to others while still meeting their own needs.

Prodigal Daughter — February 18, 2017

Prodigal Daughter

There she is, my sister, whatever she does she consumes my mother’s attention.

Somehow it is silly, isn’t it, to think my mom could change her ways for just a day, and perhaps see that her other daughter might need her mom in some way.

I’m a grown woman.  I should know better by now.  I’ve been caught off guard by a difficult situation.  I need someone to talk to.  Why though at this point should I feel an ache that this person should be my mother?

All of my mom’s energy is yet caught up again in my sister’s addiction.  In a conversation the other day I gave my mom an inch and she took a mile.  A mile to talk about my sister.

I wish my mom’s mind could slow down for just a minute to see past the world of my sister’s life.

 

Love — February 14, 2017

Love

Life can often be a struggle.  Out of that struggle though we can learn many lessons. I think each day we aspire to be a better person.  Sometimes it easy, other times not so much.

I recently had a reminder of why the golden rule is so important.  I told myself I would start acting from a place of love when I deal with my fellow human beings. Not that I was a giant meanie before, but I knew I could use some improvement. For someone who can be a misanthrope, that is a challenge.

I’m trying really hard to figure out what the best way to love my alcoholic sister is, and trying to fight the urge to shut the door on our relationship.  I’m trying harder to be compassionate toward my mother because surely being the mother of an alcoholic is harder than being the sister of one.

I’m trying to assume the best of my coworkers, based on a recent incident I had at work. One of my coworkers essentially sees the people we supervise as without value.  Well it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out if you assume the worst about someone, that is how they will perform.

On Valentine’s Day we often think about our sweeties.  I love my husband dearly, nothing will change that.  Wouldn’t today also be a great day to think about how we could spread just a little love and kindness into the world.

I’m trying to be kinder and less impatient when out in the world.  I’m trying not to let the slow old ladies clogging up the grocery store aisles bother me.  When I was at the store recently, I realized that would be me sooner than later, and I would hope people would treat me with patience.

Every day, when I get out of bed, I’m going to remind myself to do just a little but better and act from a place of love.

 

 

Musings from the peanut gallery — February 7, 2017
Carrying on the momentum of the march….education would be a good place to start — February 3, 2017

Carrying on the momentum of the march….education would be a good place to start

I’ve heard a lot of messages come out of the Womens’ March.  I wonder which, if any of them, will gain any sort of momentum, and result in real change and better lives for the most marginalized in our society.  I believe education would be a great place to start.

I have to say though, I’m skeptical.  I live in a progressive, liberal university town.  No Republicans need run for local office.  That doesn’t stop property developers from trying to run a small scale Trump empire though.  Said property developers, might vote liberally, but they still have the ethics of Trump.  Our city council bends over backwards to make it easy for them to do business here.  Oh wait that it isn’t about education, I digress.

As someone who attended Catholic school for 12 years, I assumed the public school system offered a noble ideal of equality of opportunity for all.  The reality, this simply isn’t so.

There is a notion being floated in the aftermath of the march that feminist means you are free of prejudice toward others.  Or perhaps feminists are equating themselves as a group who deeply care about those less fortunate than they are. I don’t see it play out like that in my community though.   The racism and classism might be more covert, but it is there.   The liberal white university employed mother often lobbies for a system where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  I don’t mean that just in terms of money when I speak about rich and poor.

What to do to improve education?  I don’t have the answer.  It probably won’t be glamorous. It might mean hard work. It might mean writing to elected officials. Elected officials that might not answer back. It might mean going to school board meetings to offer commentary.  If you have deep pockets you could donate to arts and sports programs at struggling schools. Or you could use those deep pockets to purchase band and orchestra instruments  for those who cannot afford them. If you know a lot about science, perhaps you could be involved in the curriculum review committee the next time the school district is looking to purchase textbooks.  The suggestions of what any one individual could do to help improve education are probably endless.

This is a post I wrote about how I see education in my little part of the United States.  It might not be the most well written post, but I stand behind the message.  After the election in 2016, I reposted my thoughts with additional commentary.  My thoughts were inspired by going to my son’s basketball game.  As I watch my son and his peers, some of whom he has known since kindergarten, I wonder what the world holds in store for him. While these kids were all little boys once upon a time, and now are teens, many of whom are taller than me now…this still amazes me…despite their size, we still need to look after them.   We can do better, for our daughters, sons, and all the children in out country.

No Thank You Necessary — February 1, 2017

No Thank You Necessary

This is a follow up to Written on Your Face, a post about caring for a woman with a neurological disease whose life is fading away.  The last post was a composite of the many families I have met in my journey as a nurse.  Families who are all about love, a love so palpable you can feel it in the room.

We love the roses you sent us

Truly though they were not necessary.

We have already received our gift,

having been allowed to care for your mother,

knowing your family.

The only gift we needed.