Riverwalk Trail; and Miss G just because

This morning the daughter and I stayed local and took an hour-long walk along a small portion of our cities Riverwalk Trail system. Many surrounding communities have their own version of this walking/biking trail system, and the plan is that eventually all the trails will connect. This map shows the roughly 4 miles that we have in existence now, but eventually, when all the trails merge they will provide a north-south corridor that will go on for miles north of Seattle and south to Mt Rainier. I’m not including a map for that expanse, but trust me, it’s hundreds of miles.

The south end of the trail: some outstanding farmland
The south end of the trail: some outstanding farmland
Under the rail bridge
Under the rail bridge
Under the newer highway overpass. We have a very silt-clogged river
Under the newer highway overpass. We have a very silt-clogged river
Mural painted under the bridges
Mural painted under the bridges

This next one may be difficult to see but, as we were walking, I noticed a few homeless encampments on an overgrown sandbar across the river. On our way back that way, one of the campers was actually out of his tent, feeding some local ducks. I chose not to take his picture.

Washington is famous (at least among locals) for our blue tarps and camp equipment
You’re looking at the blue dot across the river. The rest of the camp is tucked behind the bushes
Looking up river...
Looking up river…
...and looking down river
…and looking down river
This is characteristic of the entire trail: paved, flat, and tranquil
This is characteristic of the entire trail: paved, flat, and tranquil

 

Now we can move on to Miss G.

She took her grandma Nina to visit with Thomas the Tank Engine yesterday before grandma hopped her plane back home today. Since Miss G was very little she has loved Thomas in book form and on the TV. Miss G also has a large, expanding Thomas crawl-through toy that sort of freaks her out. It’s spent more time folded up in her closet than being played with. I’ve never been quite sure if the problem lies in that she could crawl into and through this Thomas toy, or that his face is simply so large that it just is scary…kind of like weird clown scary if you know what I mean.

I think Miss G’s parents were slightly unsure how the adventure would turn out once she actually saw Thomas in person. They took a few pictures and noted that quite a few tears were involved, although we don’t see those in the pictures.

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Thomas tattoo

And finally, on the way home, an actually happy smile I think.

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Some thoughts: heat, books, knowledge, anger, frustration & defeat

The heat wave mentioned in my last post is in full force. Temps around 90 seem to be the new norm here in (typically) moderate western Washington USA. No end is in sight as the extended forecast charts the temps to continue at mid 80’s level or above into the foreseeable future. This makes me grumpy.

Also, from past posts, I reviewed Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks recently, mentioning that she was originally a journalist who moved on to fiction writing.

**I do not feel in any way inclined to link back to these earlier posts so if you wish to review you’re own your own. I told you I was grumpy.

So impressed was I with her work that I quickly sought out her fiction and found all four of her novels, used and at relatively low price,  from Powell’s Books in Portland Oregon. I will link this site as Powell’s (if you don’t know it) is a gift to readers of any genre. Their inventory is amazing. If you ever find yourself in Portland Oregon and you have even the slightest interest in books GO THERE.  You will not be disappointed, however I would plan on at least a half day for uninterrupted browsing, more if you are truly a bibliophile.

The arrival of these books is proving to be slow. Powell’s can be slightly slow out of the gate when ordering online, something I’ve noted from prior purchases. Perhaps it simply takes them extra time to locate books from their floor to ceiling, entire city block inventory. In this case, as I am a mere 2 1/2 hour drive from this store, I am mildly kicking myself for not simply driving there. I do however find a minor thrill in receiving packages and, even with an air-conditioned car, have no real desire to swelter when not inside said car, so I wait with the hope that the package arrives tomorrow.

I am anxious because: the review of her latest novel is notable, and nothing else on my shelf seems to peak my interest right now. This second reason is located within a truly downtrodden set of mixed emotions regarding my place in the feminist scheme of things.

You all know by now that I spent two years with a decided focus on women (their marginalized, oppressed, and unequal status) as I worked through a Sociology degree. You also may know that I continue to be driven by issues that detail this social crisis focused on half of our population. To keep current I follow (regularly) a few national organizations devoted to women’s issues: NOW and The Feminist Majority. Facebook has also led me to numerous, smaller feminist organizations, e-zines, and such, some of which are better than others.

I admit that I found myself a bit overwhelmed with the numbers of such sites that were showing up in my news feed. The renewed affirmations that women are (mostly) still not worth squat in our society, gained from coursework and research in WGS and feminism during my degree, are (were) slapping me in the face constantly while I am online. The moderate amount of renewed knowledge, along with current status on this topic is important, don’t get me wrong. We (feminist women) need to speak on these issues, need to explore solutions, need to demand that change occurs.

Yet, when I pull out a book from my summer reading shelf that details feminist history, and read of activists (hysterical females) from the 1700’s, (Mary Wollstonecraft), and 1800’s, (Stanton, Anthony, Sanger, Gilman…), or add to that the references by Simone de Beauvoir of women such as 15th century author Christine de Pisan (Pizan), or 16th century feminist Modesta di Pozzo di Forzi, who were speaking out for and fighting against the very same things that feminists today are focused on and fighting for, it is obvious that oppression is alive and well and it can be labeled as woman. 

What that realization does is make me angry and frustrated and I want all of this to stop. It also makes me feel a strong aversion to reading of any more current women’s issues. I don’t want to hear any more news that highlights just how much things (life and liberty) have not changed for women in society, or how we seem to be taking greater steps backward, such as the right to control choices surrounding our bodies.

I don’t like this world. I don’t know when or if it will get better. I am angry, like all those women before me were angry and I’m tired of being told to settle for minuscule gains, or that women have come a long way.

No, we have not come a long way. We are still controlled by societies created and endowed by men to recognize the importance of a penis over all else.

I am also tired of being angry with each new days plethora of articles and insight focused on women’s issues. I feel defeated.  My ability to anticipate positive change is nil. I am jaded, and so I have removed the connections to feminist issues for now, for a needed break.

 

It’s like a heat wave…

This is what my usually moderate part of the world is in for over the next few days. I understand that many across the country wouldn’t blink an eye or think twice about temps like this, however I live in Washington and this is not normal for mid-July. We typically are still seeing many days with rain showers and temps fairly steady at about 75 degrees. I am already getting naggy and irritated about this heat wave. Most of our homes are not air-conditioned in this area so we park our bodies in front of fans or search out any meager breeze we can.

king5.com weather
king5.com weather

 

Miss G just got a new pool today. I think I might be joining her if she’ll let me.

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Summer days…

This week has brought with it sun, high temps (mid 80’s) and time off from my nanny job with Miss G.

Miss G's mom pronounces "Smile with your teeth" and this is the result
Miss G’s mom pronounces “Smile with your teeth” and this is the result

Up from San Diego has come Grandma Nina. She is spending time between Miss G’s Auntie J and Uncle K’s house and the home where this little girl lives. This week she is with Miss G and will have the opportunity to climb stairs, play doll house, run with the dog, sleep with the cat, harvest in the garden, take walks, and hear Miss G claim emphatically:

“NO, MINE!”

It is impossible to stay away from this face for long so a visit with Grandma Nina and Miss G will take place soon.

In other summer time news…

Living in Washington state has, just this morning, heralded in the legal sales of recreational marijuana all across the area. We are second behind Colorado (I believe) to claim this distinction. It is all very regulated by legalities and such and initially stores are opening slowly. This means that not everyone got their license to sell at the same time and newly recognized legal growers are not particularly flush with supply. This means that if you view a satellite photo of our state you  WILL NOT see a strange haze blanketing the atmosphere over the western and eastern sides of the Cascade range, and if you do by some chance it will more than likely be weather related, not pot related.

Since passage of this legislation all sorts of issues have come to the fore as you can imagine, but personally (and without consideration to any of the health and safety related concerns) I think it makes sense to recognize that people use pot, just as they do alcohol, so if it’s going to happen why not attempt some organized means to regulate and distribute it. It is being sold in 2 gram packages, all pre-measured and sealed. The news reports this morning list sales prices between $10 to $25 for that amount, all depending upon type/grade.

On my western side of the Cascade mountain range that divides our state only 2 stores are in operation as of this morning and I believe the eastern side has three so you can see this is a sloooow process. Pot shops will not be found on every corner. People can contact the underground dealers for that. Reports also note that a few (10 or so) people are in line and waiting on the 8AM opening. I am not one of them and won’t be in the future.

If you care to read more or comment and seek more detail than I have included you can search “pot Washington” or go here for info.

Personally I find my joy and laughter from this:

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What I’m reading: Nine Parts of Desire

I sat down to write this post yesterday after finishing the latest from my summer reading list book shelf. My personal Independence Day was laid back and uneventful as the family was scattered miles to the wind, roaming here and there as they should be. I gardened a bit, read a bit, and gardened some more. It was apparent though, that the ability to concentrate well enough to put sentences together for this post was not happening as the neighborhood shelling grew in intensity each hour.

All’s quiet this morning, although we have this odd okay from local government to continue festivities throughout July 5th, so in a few hours I expect that the second round will start. I will try to coordinate my thoughts and make this post happen because I LOVED THIS BOOK.

from geraldinebrooks.com
from geraldinebrooks.com

Nine Parts of Desire was written by Geraldine Brooks, who started her career as a journalist and then went on to write historical fiction. You can read more about her at her bio page here. The subtitle of the book is what caught my eye. “…The Hidden World of Islamic Women,” and the reviews seemed to indicate that this was more of a personal account written by Brooks to describe and understand gendered relations among Muslim women and men. Spanning roughly twenty years, Brooks created a truly riveting look into the lives of Muslim women by juxtaposing their personal viewpoints as intersectional with original Islamic law taken directly from the Koran via Muhammad, and the evolving rules, often translated from hadith into twisted permutations by fundamentalist clerics and rulers.

Brooks begins with a simple but insightful prologue that reviews the origination of Muhammad as prophet. Her focus though is on the wives of Muhammad, along with the parts they played in early Islamic activity. In subsequent chapters, Brooks covers the major Islamic beliefs that Western feminism views as oppressive to Muslim women by chronicling first-person interviews on topics of covering, education, work, politics, jihad, even areas of art and performance.

**An aside for fellow blogger TDP: Brooks tries her hand at belly dance making a statement about self-expression.

There are no radical feminist rants, no obviously one-sided opinions or bias by Brooks. It’s clear that her personal views are very different from what she writes about as she shares the lives of Muslim women from areas of Africa through the Middle East. She is decidedly a journalist, writing with a factual POV in this book. She lays out Islamic law from historical perspective and notes how revolutionary forces, Western influence, political and religious voice all impact changing interpretations of Islam, thereby also creating multiple layers of gendered oppression for the female population of this region. Her writing allows Muslim women to speak to their own lives rather they find choice or find themselves directed by religious rule.

As a Western feminist it is difficult to find reason and rationale behind much of the law of Islam as it is directed toward Muslim women until you begin to see patterns that, in many ways, mirror strong fundamentalist belief systems within our own society. Brooks also initiates parallels for me personally that focus on religious belief and systems of control, rather they be named Islam or Christianity. These systems of power, hidden within and by words found in the Bible or the Koran are often easily convoluted and made to be fact. The resultant ideology grows greater oppression and greater systemic control with women as the central target. By giving voice to Muslim women living through revolutionary cultural change Brooks opened a door allowing me personally to reaffirm my aversion to religious dogma and control.

For more on this text visit here or for reviews visit here