Sunday, March 17, 2019

The run-up to Rivers Run.

I've just a quick post tonight, as I've been working on Rivers Run all day and I'm kind of tuckered out.

The good news is that we're on track for publication this Thursday, as promised. I still have to finish the formatting and write the author's note. But here's the cover, which I finalized today:

And here's the description:

The last thing Raney Meadows needs is more notoriety. She has come east from Los Angeles to escape her life as an actor by getting back to nature. But while hiking the Appalachian Trail, she finds a body in the Shenandoah River -- a drowned kayaker who was neither a kayaker nor a drowning victim -- and the river's goddess tells Raney she has to make it right. Why Raney? Because she's a Water Elemental. Her mother is an undine.
Before long, Raney discovers she's not the only Elemental in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia – Earth, Air, and Fire are here, too. Moreover, these four Elementals have been brought together for a purpose: an ancient evil has awakened, and only by joining all of the Elements together can the earth be saved.
Raney wants to help, but she is torn, because getting involved would put her mother in danger. Her very human father has been looking for his undine – and he may be involved with the ancient evil that aims to destroy the earth.
Once the Kindle version is live, I'll put notices in all the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, and my mailing list. I usually aim to get the paperback out at about the same time as the ebook, but I suspect it will be next weekend before I can get that done. I will let you know.

The other good news is that I signed up today to do Camp NaNoWriMo next month -- during which I'll be writing book 2 of this series, which now has the working title of Treacherous Ground (oooh!). Stay tuned for more on that.

These moments of bloggy publishing madness have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Eli's here.

Among my excuses for not finishing up Rivers Run is that I've been car shopping. Last weekend, I bit the bullet and bought a new car.
Eli's on the left, Fitzy's on the right.
My old car was a bright blue 2008 Honda Fit (a Jazz, for you Europeans). He was named FitzPetey, which means "son of Petey," and yes, therein lies a tale. My all-time favorite car ever was my mother's 1967 Mustang, but for a long time my favorite car I ever owned was the beige Chevy Chevette I bought used when I lived in Huntington, WV. I've always been in the habit of naming my rides -- the car I owned prior to Fitzy was a 1974 Plymouth Fury I dubbed Sherman the Tank -- and when contemplating the Chevette, the name Petey came into my head and stayed. So Petey it was.

I loved that car because it was all the things Sherman was not: It was small and cute and fun to drive; it got pretty good gas mileage for the '80s; and it could carry a four-drawer dresser when I dropped the back seat down. It was, in sum, a perfect car for twentysomething me.

Petey was succeeded by a series of sedate sedans of the Toyota Corolla variety. By 2008, the year my mother died, the kids had gone away to college and I wanted something less sedate. So I scoured the Consumer Reports car issue and discovered they loved the Honda Fit. It was small and cute and fun to drive, especially in a 5-speed; it got terrific gas mileage for not being a hybrid; and thanks to the back seat style, I could move a kid to college without renting an SUV. And I could get one in bright blue. So I test-drove one. It was the most fun I'd had behind the wheel since driving the Chevette. So I bought it and dubbed it FitzPetey.

Eleven years later, Fitzy was still rolling along. And he was still fun to drive. But he was getting to the point where I was pretty sure I would have to sink some money into him. And too, I wasn't crazy about the prospect of driving a ten-plus-year-old car when I retired. So I started thinking about what I'd want to drive as I got older, and researching my options. The first thing I learned was that Consumer Reports was no longer so crazy about the Honda Fit -- which was okay, as I was thinking of going a little bigger anyway. But not too big. I flirted with the idea of buying something with enough towing capacity for a small trailer (not a tiny house!), but they seemed like a huge step up from my little Fit.

Then I started looking at crossover SUVs, which weren't a lot bigger than Fitzy -- but it appeared the manufacturers were all trying to out-muscle each other in body style. (I sat in a Hyundai Kona, which most of the car ratings sites love, and felt like I could be warming up for a stock-car race. I'm sure there's a market for them, but it's not me.)

And then I started looking at hybrids, and that's when I found the Kia Niro. It's bigger than Fitzy, but not by that much. It's got more cargo space than Fitzy, and better gas mileage than Fitzy ever had. Kia is marketing it as a crossover SUV, but it's a lot friendlier-looking than the tough-guy vehicles the other guys are selling. Here, take a look. This one is a 2017, but the front of my car looks the same.
Mr.choppers | Wikimedia Commons | CC 3.0
So I bought it and named it Eli, which only makes sense if you know anything about 1960s singer-songwriters. See, the car model is a Niro, which is pretty close to Laura Nyro, who wrote a bunch of hits in the '60s and '70s before dying of ovarian cancer in 1997. Among the songs she wrote is Eli's Comin', which was a hit for Three Dog Night in 1969. (She also recorded her own version, but this is the one I remember.)

The one thing I may regret about buying this car is that my kids can drive it. Neither can drive a stick shift, so Fitzy was mine, all mine. I believe I'm about to learn the joys of sharing a car again, as Kat drove it last night and appears to be hooked. But I've already made it clear that I have dibs on putting the first scratch on Eli -- and that it won't happen for a long, long time.

I admit, the wait for Rivers Run is getting ridiculous. So I'm committing now to a release date of  Thursday, March 21st -- just a week and a half from now.

That will clear the decks for me to finish writing Book 2 during CampNaNo in April, with publication probably around the solstice in June -- let's call it Thursday, June 20th.

The final two books aren't much more than a glimmer in my eye at this point, but surely I can get the third one out by the fall equinox -- say, Thursday, September 19th, although I may have to push that forward a week. Then the fourth and final book would drop sometime around Yule.

Wish me luck.

These moments of vehicular blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

As promised: a knitting post.

Knitting, they say, is a great stress reliever. They often say this just before throwing their current work in progress across the room in frustration, but anyway.

Since we last chatted about knitting back in October, I've been flying through projects like the hounds of Hell were after me. I'm not sure why. I think it's partly because I've had weaving on my mind since taking that two-day workshop in November and would like to get the loom out again -- but I had several knitting projects queued up, with patterns and yarn purchased, that I wanted to finish first. Too, the queued projects all use wool yarns, and I'd like to finish them all in time to wear them before the weather gets warm again.

First up: a cardigan. The pattern is called Old Growth and it's in the Tin Can Knits pattern book that I bought in Colorado last summer. I loved the design as soon as I saw it -- the button bands are offset from the center front, which allows for a tree-shaped lace panel on the wider side. That panel, I knew, would not only look awesome, but would keep the boring torso portion of the sweater from being too tedious to knit. I even found buttons with a nubbly surface that looks like tree bark. Here's how it turned out:

Next, I resurrected a shawl project called Sepia. I don't typically have many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) lying around -- I tend to start one project and stick at it 'til it's done. But this one I started and put aside. The pattern calls for increases along the center ridge of the triangle and at either end -- pretty standard stuff -- but in this case, the designer used backwards-loop cast-ons for the increases, which are super easy to do but I'm not nuts about them. To make matters worse, you're supposed to pay attention to the slant of the loop -- so you'd twist the loop one way for right-leaning stitches and the other way for left-leaning stitches.

I ripped out and started over a couple of times, trying different increases, but in the end I gave in and did what the pattern said to do. Mostly. I also gave myself permission to not stress about whether I'd done the correct slant for each cast-on stitch. I'm sure a fair number of the increases are slanting the wrong way, but it doesn't seem to matter much.

My third project was another sweater -- a pullover called the Pavement. You start at the top and knit down in stockinette, in the round, except for garter stitch at the collar, cuffs, and bottom edge. There were short rows in the collar back and for the shirt-tail hem, which kept things interesting. In all, it was a surprisingly quick knit -- partly because I was rushing to finish it and shorted the sleeve length by an inch or two. Ah well. It looks fine with a turtleneck underneath.

I might pull out the garter stitch and lengthen the sleeves someday -- but not right now, because I've moved on to my fourth and final queued project. It's another shawl, called the Level, and it's my third Nancy Whitman pattern -- she designed the Eden Prairie and the High Street shawls that I've enjoyed knitting and wearing. This one has her characteristic blocks of color, but this time they're narrow lines on a plain background, with a lovely wide border.

I'm not very far into it yet, as you can see.

Eventually I'll have three copper-colored stripes and three blue ones. It's been going pretty fast, but the rows get progressively longer. And then I get to knit the border. Let's see, it's the beginning of March...spring will be here in two and a half weeks... Hmm. Well, at least I got the sweaters done in time to wear this winter.

These moments of knitted blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Let there be more light!

I went out adulting today. I bought myself a new lamp for my bedroom and some seriously bright light bulbs.

Why is this a big deal? Thereby hangs a tale... 

The story starts about a year ago, when the kids finally convinced me that we needed to move out of the construction zone that was our former apartment. We toured a bunch of apartment communities -- and when I say "a bunch," I mean nine or ten. The list of potential apartments took some serious research and planning, nearly all of it done by Amy. What made it tougher than your typical apartment search was that we were looking for a three-bedroom place -- or at least a two-bedroom with a den -- so each of us could have a real door we could shut. (In the old place, we'd used Japanese screens to make a bedroom for Kitty out of the dining room.) A second bathroom was also on our wish list, as well as access to public transit and a short commute.

After all that work, after touring all those properties and looking at our preferences...we had zero properties that all three of us liked. We reconsidered our criteria and decided to go back to a couple of places that could work if we worked at it. One of them was this place, which was awesome in nearly every way -- except that the den, which someone would have to sleep in, was an interior room with no window. (Which is why they couldn't call it a bedroom, I suspect. Bedrooms have to have two means of ingress and egress in case of fire.) Other than that, it was a great apartment. I mean, the location is stellar and the kitchen is to die for.

So guess who fell on her sword and said she'd take the den?

I didn't think having no natural light in a bedroom would bug me as much as it does. But I recently realized I've been doing a lot of knitting -- way more than I've been writing. And it's partly because the knitting chair is by the big window in the living room, and my desk is in my bedroom. Once I figured that out, I realized Something Needed to Be Done.

I think you'll agree when I show you these. Here's the before picture, a.k.a. The Cave:

And here's the after, a.k.a. Sunshiny Day:

The extra lamp made a difference, but the real key was the type of lightbulb I put in it. I picked up a pack of GE's Refresh LED bulbs, which are billed as providing energetic daylight. "Recommended for home offices," the package said.

"Sounds good to me," I said.

I expect I would be less thrilled with this "energetic daylight" thing in the lamp next to my bed. But at least now I'm looking forward to sitting at my computer. Who knows? Maybe I'll even get some writing done.

I'll bore y'all with a knitting post next week.

Oh, one piece of housekeeping: Google Plus is being dismantled, and one of the first casualties is the G+ comment plug-in on blogs like mine. So hearth/myth is back to the native Blogger comment system, which has never worked particularly well. Apologies for that.

These moments of well-lit blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A distraction-free weekend.

Every Presidents' Day weekend, my daughters attend Katsucon, a massive anime convention across the Potomac River from us in National Harbor, Maryland. (When I say massive, I mean massive. They have 21,000 attendees this year.) Kitty is the assistant head of Video Operations, so my kids get there a day earlier and stay a day longer than the regular attendees.

Which means I've had the apartment to myself since I got home from work Thursday -- or (checks the time) approximately 76 hours. And counting.

Creative Market

Yesterday, Kitty texted me to ask whether I could run something over to her in a few hours, after she got some sleep. Sure, I said. Then she offered to send me a reminder text.

"I think I'll be okay. There's not much here today to distract me," I said.

She LOL'ed and offered to text me earlier, "if you wanna cut the boredom sooner."

And I replied, "I said 'no distractions,' not 'bored'.''

"Same diff," she said.

But it's not the same diff. At work, I sit in a doorless cubicle in a hallway. My phone has twelve active lines. There's always background noise -- conversations, phones ringing. Then to get to work, I take public transit, and there's always background noise there, as well -- announcements over the intercom, other commuters' conversations, trains and buses starting and stopping. It's distracting.

And at home, our schedules are different enough that someone is always coming or going, or listening to music, or sleeping, or having a conversation.

It gets to the point where it's hard to find a minute to think.

This weekend, though, I've had oodles of minutes to think -- and to do other stuff, too. I've made headway on an editing project and spent lots of time knitting. I haven't been bored at all. In fact, it's been very relaxing -- so relaxing that I'm weighing whether to send the girls somewhere for a few more days. If I feel this relaxed after 76 hours, imagine what it would be like to have the place to myself for a whole week...

These moments of laid-back blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

On blackface.

I cannot tell you how disheartening it has been to be a Virginian this week -- standing by and watching our top elected officials' careers implode.

First it was Governor Ralph Northam. After he made a statement about an abortion bill that abortion opponents deemed too soft, a conservative website got hold of his 1984 medical school yearbook and found, on his page, a photo of two people, one in blackface and the other in a KKK hood. Immediately, folks on both sides of the aisle began calling for Northam, who's a Democrat, to resign.

First Northam apologized for the photo. Then, in a stunning reversal, he said neither of the people in the photo were him and he didn't know why it was on his page. He did, however, wear blackface to dress up as Michael Jackson in his youth. Moreover, he wasn't going to resign.

Then on Wednesday, attorney general Mark Herring, who's also a Democrat, met with members of the General Assembly's black caucus. When the meeting was over, Herring admitted that he too had worn blackface -- at a party in 1980. In a you-can't-make-this-stuff-up twist, before the announcement of his own transgression, Herring had been among those calling for Northam to resign. Now there were calls for his resignation.

Normally in Virginia, if the governor resigns, the lieutenant governor would step up and become governor. But Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax -- a Democrat and the only actual black man of the three -- is now embroiled in his own mess. Two women have accused him of sexual assault. And of course, there are calls on both sides of the aisle for him to resign.

(It's not lost on anyone that if all three men are ousted from their positions, next in line would be the Speaker of the House -- who's a Republican.)

You would think sex assault charges are the more serious. But this is Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. This is Virginia, where in the late 1950s, under Massive Resistance, the governor ordered public schools in several localities closed rather than submit to court-ordered integration. This is Virginia, where in August 2017 a bunch of white boys brought tiki torches to Charlottesville and one rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one of them.

This is Virginia, where racial prejudice still runs deep.

So this isn't just about blackface. But for the record: blackface is unacceptable.

Library of Congress | Public Domain
The practice of white folks donning makeup to appear black has been occurring for hundreds of years (you can bet Shakespeare's first Othello was a white guy under the paint). It became especially popular in the United States in the 19th century, during the heyday of the touring minstrel show, in which white performers would don blackface with clownish red lips. Wikipedia says, "Stereotyped blackface characters developed: buffoonish, lazy, superstitious, cowardly, and lascivious characters, who stole, lied pathologically, and mangled the English language. Early blackface minstrels were all male, so cross-dressing white men also played black women who were often portrayed as unappealingly and grotesquely mannish, in the matronly mammy mold, or as highly sexually provocative."

The practice continued well into the 20th century, moving from vaudeville to movies (Al Jolson appeared in blackface in the first-ever "talkie," The Jazz Singer) to radio's Amos 'n' Andy.

African-Americans see blackface as demeaning, and they're right. Blackface implies all blacks are like the caricature -- shiftless, lazy, cowardly buffoons -- when of course they are anything but.

In an interview yesterday with the Washington Post, Northam said he believes there's a reason why this has all come out now -- a higher-purpose-type reason. He intends to stay on and finish the rest of his term, and he's adopting as his mission an effort to make Virginia come to terms with racial equality and white privilege. "There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia," he told the Post.

No kidding.

I wish him the best of luck. It would be great to be able to say someday, without embarrassment, that I live in Virginia.

These moments of head-spinning blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Games night.

I hear there's some kind of sportsball thing happening tonight. Which means some of y'all will soon be really happy, some will be angry and/or sad, and some will be too stuffed from the buffet to care.

Then there's the contingent who suffer through the game just to watch the halftime show. From what I'm seeing in my Facebook feed, those folks are already regretting their life choices tonight.

Well, fear not! I have here a thing that everyone can win.

Do you guys like word searches? I loved them as a kid. I was already good at spelling, and it turned out I was also good at spotting letter combinations in word search puzzles. You wouldn't think that would be a useful life skill -- but then I became an editor.

Anyway, below you will find a word search puzzle. The word list consists of the names of some of the deities in the Pipe Woman Chronicles universe, as lifted from the table of contents of A Billion Gods and Goddesses, 2nd Ed.

I used an online word search generator for this puzzle, and I haven't tried it myself yet. The words can go in any direction -- up, down, across, forward and backward, and diagonally. The generator wouldn't take a word that was more than 15 characters, so White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman has been shortened to "goddess," which is what Naomi calls her most of the time anyway.

Also, the graphic is a .png converted from a pdf. I hope it's clear enough. If not, Adobe owes me fifteen bucks.


These moments of bloggy fun and games have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Netflix and take notes.

I had every intention of getting a ton of stuff done this weekend. But this past week turned out to be pretty wrenching for me emotionally. (Fun Fact: Growing up with a bully, and then having to deal with a succession of narcissists and sociopaths later in life, can give a person Chronic PTSD. And watching a bully hold 800,000 federal employees hostage financially for no good reason, and apparently with no remorse, can be a trigger for that person, especially when it happens close to the first anniversary of resolving a similarly pointless financial hostage situation with her original bully.)

Anyway, I ended up tossing most of my original plans for the weekend and giving myself a day off. Yesterday, I stayed in my jammies, knitted, and watched a bunch of episodes of one of the Great Courses.

Stolen from their website. I hope they don't come after me.
Some of y'all may remember when I groused on Facebook a few weeks back that this company appeared to be stalking me. First I received their full-color catalog in the mail, and then, without ever searching for their website, I started seeing their ads on Facebook. They weren't really stalking me, of course; I suspect they're just really good at targeting their potential customer base. Anyway, they were running a deal on a bunch of courses for $35 each. So I bought several to try them out.

These are college-level courses, and the production is about as low-tech as you would expect from a college course: Mostly it's the professor lecturing, with some maps and photos. The episodes are about a half-hour long apiece -- not quite long enough to start nodding off, unless you're very tired on a Friday night and you watch a bunch of them back-to-back (don't ask me how I know).

One of the courses I purchased is called The Celtic World. I decided to try that one first, as I already knew a bit about the subject and figured it would be a good test to see whether I was wasting my money. Not to worry. The professor -- Jennifer Paxton from Catholic University -- was engaging and knew her stuff. I never felt like arguing with her. Well, maybe once or twice: I would have liked more information on the Celtic pantheon (of course!) and a little more technical information about the ornamentation in Celtic music. (Fun Fact: Ornamentation -- all those extra little notes -- were added by bagpipers first. Most wind instruments are played by the musician blowing directly into the instrument; the musician differentiates notes of the same tone by using the lips and tongue to stop the airflow. But a bagpipe has to keep the airflow moving for the drone -- that sustained note that runs under the whole song -- so bagpipers had to come up with another way to separate the notes in the melody from one another. They hit upon adding in grace notes, and the practice became more elaborate over time. Because that sounded cool, other melody instruments, like the fiddle and harp, added them to their repertoire. Another Fun Fact: Those extra notes aren't written in the sheet music. You're just supposed to feel where to put them in, which isn't a hell of a lot of help when you're first learning to play Irish music. I never got the hang of it.)

But for a survey course that covered a ton of material, from the ancient La Tene and Hallstadt civilizations to Riverdance, it was fine.

My initial impression, after this first course, is that the Great Courses are college-level introductory classes you can take for the fun of it -- no tests or homework. If you're the sort of person who used to look through your college catalog and drool over the classes you couldn't fit into your schedule, it's something to keep in mind.

These moments of educational blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tidying up, or: The simple living backlash.

Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, Philadelphia
Copyright 2018 Lynne Cantwell
This past week, much was made on social media of advice supposedly given by Marie Kondo. Kondo, who is Japanese, has been described as a decluttering guru. She has made a career out of helping people get rid of their excess stuff. She now has a reality show on Netflix in which, I'm told, she visits couples who need to make their living space more livable and makes suggestions on how they could do it. She brings a Shinto aesthetic to the process, thanking the house for providing shelter and thanking each individual thing for its service to the household. And then, she says, if you hold the thing and it doesn't spark joy in you, out it should go, to someone in whom it would spark joy.

The thing that set people off was a comment about her view of books. She says she has gone through her collection and now keeps just 30 books. Total. She says that feels like the right number to her.

To which the booklovers of America collectively retorted, "You'll get my books when you pry them out of my cold, dead hands." 

Well, words to that effect, anyway.

I saw someone on Twitter sniff that Americans' criticism of Kondo stems from racism. I don't agree. I do think she comes from a culture where living spaces are smaller and where extremely spare decorating schemes seem to be the ideal. In the Indie Wire interview that I linked to above, Kondo admits that. And she also says her book-collecting advice is practical in Japan, where the humid climate rapidly damages books. There, if you're not going to read a book, it's better for the book to be passed along.

Also in that interview, she says, "The question you should be asking is what do you think about books. If the image of someone getting rid of books or having only a few books makes you angry, that should tell you how passionate you are about books, what’s clearly so important in your life." And if you're that passionate about books, and you have the room, then by all means, keep as many as you want. In other words, when you're decluttering, keep only things that are meaningful to you.

That's advice that's not specific to any culture. I first heard it twenty years ago in a book called Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. Their idea was to pare your living expenses to essentials while building up your savings and investments, with the aim of retiring early. Paring your expenses necessarily means bowing out of most of the consumer culture that's so prevalent in the West. Besides, the more stuff you own, the more time you have to spend cleaning and maintaining it. Pretty soon, your stuff owns you.

I was active in the simple living movement for several years, but gradually drifted away. It got harder and harder to keep a lid on my expenses; something always seemed to throw a monkey wrench into my plans to save. These days, I know it was partly because while prices have kept going up, wages have been stagnant in this country for the past four decades -- basically my entire working life. 

Anyway, my point is that Ms. Kondo is simply the face of the newest iteration of a philosophy of living that has been around for a long, long time. It's not a bad idea to consider, every now and then, whether you own your stuff, or whether your stuff owns you. 

And feel free to own as many books as you like. I do.

These moments of sparsely-furnished blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

We have #Snurlough.

I was skeptical last week when the weather forecasters started rumbling about snow in the forecast for DC -- and with good reason. In the almost 30 years since we moved here, I can't tell you how many times big snowstorms have been predicted for the region, but very few of them have amounted to anything. The immediate DC area seems to sit in a snow hole -- often areas around us will get measurable snow, particularly to the north and west, but where I live, we'll get skunked. And I expected this storm to follow suit.

I was wrong. 

It began snowing here yesterday around three in the afternoon. It's still snowing.

I went out around three o'clock this afternoon to see how much we had. My ruler showed about 5 1/2 inches of snow in the courtyard of our apartment building -- a long, narrow space that's fairly sheltered. So I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that Reagan National Airport, which is a couple of miles from us and is the official weather reporting station for Washington, DC, had more. A fair amount more.

As of 7:50pm, the airport had 9.8 inches of snow. 

Have I mentioned that it's still snowing? If we don't get at least 10 inches out of this storm, I'll be very disappointed.

I know 10 inches seems like chump change for a lot of folks, but Washington prides itself on acting like a Southern city when it comes to stuff like this -- which is to say we don't have the kind of snow-removal equipment a city farther north would have. Plus we don't get decent-sized snows that often, so people here aren't used to dealing with it. I saw a comment from somebody this afternoon who was kind of laughing at their condo maintenance crew for shoveling sidewalks earlier today. The commenters' reasoning? They'll just have to do it again after the snow stops. Someone sane then pointed out that it's easier to move six inches of snow twice than to move a foot of snow all at once. I thought about mentioning that shoveling multiple times for a single storm is standard operating procedure in a lot of places, like in northern Indiana, where I grew up. But I decided it would be pointless, as it likely wouldn't make a dent.

The big question now is what will be open tomorrow. Every school system in the area, I believe, has already thrown in the towel. My daughter Amy works for a nonprofit whose snow closing policy follows what the federal government decides to do -- but as you may have heard, the federal government is in the midst of a shutdown and a lot of federal employees are furloughed anyway. (Hence the unofficial name for this storm: Snurlough, a contraction of snow and furlough.) Now all those employers are going to have to decide what to do on their own. Amy's employer didn't wait; they've already announced they'll be closed tomorrow.

I expect whether my day job closes will depend on whether public transit is running. Right now, Metro says the subway will be operational but there won't be any buses in my neighborhood. I guess I could slog a mile on an unshoveled path to get to my closest subway station. And then sit in wet clothes all day at work. And do it all again at the end of the day. Gee, that sounds like fun.

Here's hoping I get a Snurlough...

These moments of snowy blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Grown women aren't girls.

Copyright dimaberkut |
Few things get me worked up quicker than hearing a man call a woman a "girl."

I even wrote about it in Mom's House. On this occasion, my brother was mad at both my mother and me because of something that had happened earlier in the day. He felt the need to retake control of the situation, so first he needled Mom about her clutter, and then he declared we were going to the grocery store to get boxes in order to pack up some of her stuff:
So we all rode in Lar’s car to Al’s at Karwick Plaza. “You girls stay in the car,” he said. “I’ll go in and ask.”
I bristled. “I know you didn’t mean that,” I said warningly. He pretty much ignored me.
Later, Mom asked me why I was upset about Lar calling us “girls.” “We’re girls, aren’t we?” she asked. I just stared at her, speechless. How to explain thirty years of women’s liberation to an eighty-seven-year-old woman? 
I know there are women who, like my mom, don't see a problem with grown women being called girls. But trust me when I say that in this instance, my brother was not using an endearment. He was emphasizing that because he was the man, he was therefore in control -- something we had no business trying to be.

I bring this up because this has been an extraordinary week for the U.S. Congress. For the first time ever, 102 out of 438 members of the House of Representatives -- nearly a quarter of the membership -- are women. Eighty-nine of these women are Democrats; of those, 35 were elected just this year. They are diverse. Two are Muslim; two are Native American. And one is under the age of 30: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Perhaps you've heard of Ocasio-Cortez. She stunned politicos last spring by staging a primary upset, upending the career of a Democrat who was rumored to be in line to become Speaker of the House. Then she went on to win her seat in Congress. She gets a lot of criticism from the right, and when it happens, she claps back hard. She's more than capable of handling her trolls herself. But I saw red on her behalf when I heard today that GOP strategist Ed Rollins had called her a "little girl" with a mouth on her.

Rollins is 75 years old. He has had a long career in national politics dating back to the Reagan administration. In short, he is just the sort of old, white guy who would see a young, smart, popular woman as a threat. And it's clear that in this instance, he did not use "little girl" as a term of endearment.

Ocasio-Cortez wasted no time in responding. She tweeted, "If anything, this dude is a walking argument to tax misogyny at 100%" and followed it with a winking emoji. I'm glad she can laugh it off, but I'm tired of making excuses for men who are old enough to remember Women's Liberation but would rather ignore it.

Stop with the misogyny already. Grown women aren't girls. Knock it off.


These moments of furious blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.