Blessings by the minute, from the playground into sleep

By school pick up time—around 2:30pm, so hours before many people even think of finishing their days—my reservoirs of energy are nearly empty. What used to be an afternoon lull is more often, now, my afternoon collapse. It’s the most persistent and insidious symptom of my autoimmune condition.

Afternoon delight? Fugeddaboutdit!

The work of a stay-at-home mom may include some flexible hours, but school pick up time is not among them. The kids are done when they’re done; someone needs to go get them. There are a few dads driving up in the daily rotation, but most chromosomes in the car pool lane are XX.

Add me to that list of who’s who.

playing outside - 3

Outdoor “play equipment” doesn’t have to be expensive or complex

One of the things I like best about my son’s school is the emphasis placed on time spent playing and learning outdoors. They aren’t quite as adamant about it as our preschool was—there, kids went out, rain or shine, unless there was a truly bitter freeze or risk of lightening strikes—but the value of free time, active play, and exposure to fresh air and sunshine is respected.

So, while I’m often running on fumes by 2:30pm, I bring a book, I pack a thermos of tea or an appealing snack, and I just generally prepare myself for a comfortable wait so my little guy can stay longer with his friends and play even more after school. It may only be a half an hour, but what a precious 30 minutes for a kid.

I’ve read that child’s play is currently endangered. I tend to agree that this is a grave loss for the kids in question and society overall.

On a beautiful spring day, it isn’t much of a sacrifice to allow this time for my child to release some of that seemingly boundless energy. My arthritis doesn’t flare as often on moderate days, lessening the cost of pain. In the absence of rain, I can move around and avoid getting stiff from sitting in the car. I get to socialize today, too, with other moms and some lingering members of the school staff, all of whom take advantage of the beautiful weather to linger outside.

DS2 and his knot of friends are involved in a complex dance of running, falling down, enacting simulated agonies, then jumping up to do it all over again. Some of the girls join in at times, weaving themselves into the game, then drifting away to huddle under a different tree, whispering their own solemn secrets. They start a new adventure by climbing a large, horizontal tree.

playing outside - 2

An admittedly awesome tree, some string, and a lot of imagination sparked this adventure

“Watch out for that poison ivy,” they advise me when I come closer to take a picture. After confirming I’m not there to take my son away, they quickly re-submerge in their play. They stop only when a preponderance of mothers appear, all ready to go home.

There seems no possible sweeter moment for me, as a mother, than this one, until later, after a tick check and bath, after dinner, after fun, when the little guy is lying asleep nearby and I’m restless and reflective. His breathing is deep and even with no sign of the nocturnal asthma that sometimes harries our nights.

No doubt the fresh air and tree climbing contributed to his deep, peaceful slumber, even as the memories of the same disrupt mine.

He’s so big, now, my little boy, but still so very small. My love for him swells in my breast like a wild thing rearing up to escape its confinement in a cage. It is ridiculous how much I adore this child. I’ve always found it easier to really notice this while he’s quietly sleeping.sleeping - 1

The night air drifting in the window is still soft and smells of spring. Many hours remain for slumber, and there’s more play in store for tomorrow. It’s time to tuck this unbridled passion for a silly little boy and his winsome ways away, and attend to my own dreams.

Books by my bedside 2017/05/23

I’ve noticed that I often bring up in conversation one or more of the fascinating books I’ve been reading lately, only to fail utterly at recalling titles or authors’ names. I’ll take this opportunity to at least have a handy reference available for anyone who cares to follow up on something I’ve said.

Just check my blog!

Non-Fiction

Economics, history & politics

Why Nations Fail : the origins of power, prosperity, and poverty by Daron Acemoglu

Gaming

Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set Rule Book

Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set: The Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure book

Language

German I by Pimsleur (audio CD)

Math & technology

Gödel, Escher, Bach : an eternal golden braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter

Fiction

The Great Passage written by Shion Miura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter (note: this was a freebie from Amazon for being a Prime member)

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul (Young Adult title)

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Young Adult title)

Reading Notes:

Preparing for a role playing game is all consuming

I found a few sleepy moments to finish the latest installment in my before bed brain candy mystery habit (J.D. Robb’s futuristic series about Eve Dallas), but managed very little additional pleasure reading this week.

I haven’t found the motivation to finish Thirteen Reasons Why, but I started My Kind of Crazy. I was hoping it would be a little more cheerful. Young Adult and Children’s titles can be very relaxing, but these both tend more into “youth at risk” territory. It takes more energy for me to read something distressing.

My Kind of Crazy feels like it could get amusing, but it isn’t yet. It also read like a book about a boy written by a woman. I checked the author’s bio, and, yup, Robin is a woman. I’ll keep reading and see if my opinion shifts.

Starter SetMost of my free time last week was spent prepping for running a Dungeons & Dragons game session that morphed into two evenings of play. It’s not strictly reading, though there are about 100 pages of information with which the leader (DM) should be familiar. So I read through it, then made some notes, then read some parts again. After the first few hours of game play, I also printed out some cards to help me keep track of every individual character.

Thus far, my experience as a D&D DM feels like an exercise in office supply logistics.

Men, consider trying a tunic or dress before you fall for the romper trend

Rompers—or, the specifically male garment being promoted on KickStarter as the RompHim™— should not become the next hot trend in men’s clothing. Elle magazine posits that I’m not accepting of this trend because of my underlying sexism.

Am I disturbed by men in traditionally feminine clothing?

Nope. Quite the opposite. I believe in function first for clothing.

Some of humanity’s first articles of clothing were tunics, clearly the precursor to the modern dress. These are clothes for “humans,” not for men or for women specifically. They do a great job of protecting sensitive skin from sun exposure, and they simply and serviceably provide as much modesty as one prefers.

playful boy tunic

Put a baby boy in a tunic, and he’ll just keep playing like a comfortable little boy

Kilts predate miniskirts, and were designed for men when women wouldn’t dare to show so much leg. And that beachwear? Does the bottom really need to be called “bikini,” or is it just a reinvention of the loincloth?

Dating back to my teenage discussions of school dress codes, I have always advocated that the only fair policy allows all students access to all pieces of the accepted uniform, including girls in pants and boys in skirts. Anything else is inherently unfair.

Our noun, uniform, obviously relates to the adjective and its definition of “sameness.” Where there is no practical reason discernible for variations, it’s fair to assume they are derived from social constructs of questionable value. Next, ask the question: do we need to differentiate this piece of kit for males or females?

If the article of clothing doesn’t specifically encase a body part (brassieres and athletic cups being the obvious examples), I personally reject any notion that the object is sex-specific.

People should wear clothing that suits their need for comfort and personal expression within social standards for professionalism, modesty, and hygiene. Let the naturists bare their skin in accepting company. But please, if nudity is allowed by law, include a provision for mandatory towels on shared seating surfaces…

The man isn’t the problem; the romper creates problems

My problem isn’t with the man in the romper. I object to the wearing of a romper by  adults who have productive work to do. They are fiddly garments to manage in public life.

I speak from experience. I bought a chambray romper in the 1980’s, when I was a young teen. Wearing it generated more thinking about what I was wearing, allowing less time for useful activity. I thought it was cute, but it wasn’t very practical.

Fashion isn’t inherently a bad thing, but most of us have to balance style with getting things done. Most of us should be thinking about more than how we’re wearing our clothes.

A Kardashian or fashion model has time to wear a romper. All that’s required of these professions is showing off the garments worn, presumably generating interest in the consuming masses.

James Bond/Sean Connery wearing a romper (Goldfinger, 1964) in his down time also seems reasonable. We all know his romper’s going to come off the minute the Bond Girl walks in. (You can see Connery sporting his baby blue knit romper with gold belt buckle in the Elle article I mentioned in paragraph one.)

But rompers are ill-suited for people who need to, say, take care of their own bodily functions in public restrooms. They  actually present less challenge to men than women in this regard, because many men don’t fully remove their lower garments to urinate.

A man who never needs to defecate, however, doesn’t need a romper; he needs a doctor! Does any man really want to wear clothes that will have to come all the way off—or puddle in their entirety on that dubiously mopped subway station floor—in order to take care of his necessary business?

baby doll diaper

Rompers for baby

Without snaps at the crotch, a romper is an impractical garment. With snaps at the crotch, the degree of infantility becomes creepy. Tear-away clothes should remain the province of strippers. A snap-crotch should be ensconced beneath another layer of clothing, like on a bodysuit, lest a wardrobe malfunction make one the next viral video sensation.

“Whoops! There go my romper’s crotch snaps!”

It sounds like something former congressman Anthony Weiner would do. No one wants to be that guy.

Rompers, jumpsuits, and coveralls share similar traits. There’s a reason they are best suited as over-layers to protect regular clothing beneath, removed once the messy work is done. They also have a place as specialty garments like spacesuits (with toilet built in!) or formal wear (which isn’t designed to be practical anyway.)

Try a dress before you buy a romper

Men, if you want the freedom of a garment that extends from shoulder to hemline, consider just wearing a dress. Call it a tunic if you don’t think men should wear dresses. You can buy one for a lot less than $119 (RompHim™ suggested retail) and you’ll have more fabric options.

Romper man mayhem sketch

Make sure a romper fits this crucial measurement

As most women have discovered for themselves, if your thighs rub or you want more coverage, it is far more comfortable to wear leggings or fitted shorts beneath a dress than to bind up the skirt of one’s dress into a romper. Be aware: the crotch length on a romper is often not quite a perfect fit for one’s body, so you might feel an annoying seam in a sensitive place. Ouch!

It isn’t a sharing of our feminine freedom to make men discover these romper facts for themselves. Women who’ve worn them are being selfish by not sharing the reality with men considering buying them. Or, maybe, a lot of women do find this idea funny, because of sexism or a bit of cruelty.

There’s a reason romper trends in women’s fashion drift in and then go away. Wearing a romper is inconvenient, and they aren’t really cute enough to make up for it.

If rompers were so great, they would remain popular over time, like wearing pants. Surely everyone can agree that women, once “allowed” to wear trousers, have never shown the slightest inclination to give up these most practical garments.

Supporting men in their desire to wear rompers feels to me like convincing men they should try pantyhose. That would be mean, because pantyhose suck. They’re expensive and disposable, because they run (develop holes) with normal use; they don’t breathe so they’re unhealthy for your body; and they can be downright painful to pull on.

Gentlemen, I support your right to wear a romper, but I sincerely hope you’ll try a nice, sensible dress first, for your own sake.

Artist Sherrill Roland and his Jumpsuit Project

Today, I read a news story about a young man named Sherrill Roland. As he was about to begin graduate school as a fine arts student, he received a call from a detective with a warrant for his arrest. He was asked to turn himself in for crimes he didn’t commit.

The young man was tried, convicted, and spent 10 months in jail for crimes he didn’t commit. A year later, new evidence proved his innocence.

My reason for sharing this isn’t to repeat or attempt to fully reflect upon the shameful statistics about young black men—even innocent ones—and the American criminal justice system. What I feel compelled to share about this story is how this young, black man chose to respond to what happened to him.

Sherrill Roland is an artist.

He found a way to share his talents with other inmates during his time in jail:

“I drew for other inmates ― portraits of their families that they could send as gifts. … We on the inside did not have anything to give. It is really powerful creating something …, helping them get a gift from someone who can’t obtain one any other way. I was willing to make things as long as they meant something.”

Roland is now sharing his experience of incarceration and its effects with the rest of us via a performance art piece he began as an MFA student: the Jumpsuit Project. He wears an orange prison jumpsuit in public spaces, engaging with his “audience” according to their response to him.
In the article, he said:

“It’s not always about jail itself, but about overcoming things. Sometimes it’s just about getting through a struggle.”

He could have emerged too bitter to speak with us. He might have lashed out or given up in the face of a system willing to jail innocent black men. Instead, Sherrill Roland is making something that means something, including conversation.How many of us can claim to have wrought something so elevated from such base injustice?I hope I’m making a small contribution to Roland’s conversation by sharing it with you.

Being good at math, also female, and why I must talk about that

We all tend to repeat our favorite stories, and I thought I’d told this one to everyone I know. Naturally, my verbal shorthand led to offense. Again. Oops!

I’m good at math; my conversational skills could use work

I’m not always great at talking to people. That’s one reason for the blog. I like taking the extra time to clarify myself in writing. One major risk factor for my verbal missteps is that I routinely take great mental leaps during the conversation without bringing my audience along.

Lots of things are “obvious” in my mental space, but require explanation when I want to discuss them.

I’ll begin by stating what I thought was crystal clear to everyone I’ve ever spent more than a few minutes with:

I’m good at math.

When I say “good at math,” I mean, “I successfully completed an undergraduate degree at a competitive US college with a major in Mathematical & Physical Sciences concentrating in Computer Science.”books math texts - 1

I have studied advanced math at the university level. I succeeded in those classes, often earning good grades. I have some innate talent in this area, and I applied concerted effort to developing these skills.

All of this “my own horn”-tooting is to make clear what I mean when I say, again:

I’m good at math.”

And now we’ll carry on to the meat of this story.

We were out to dinner with friends. Being a pair of introverts 15+ years into marriage and with a couple of kids at home, we go out like this around four times per year. Usually, we invite friends over and order pizza (because I’m bad at cooking; this post is not about how totally great I am.)

Sitting around the table, waiting for appetizers, I started telling a story about home schooling my oldest son. It’s an uncommon thing, so people often ask questions about our daily activities. Many academically inclined friends are sincerely curious: What is it like, going “back to school,” in a sense, by doing it all over again with one’s child?

I was going to tell a story about helping a friend’s daughter with math.

So I began:

“In high school, because I was a girl, naturally, I was bad at math…”

I should have used the mortifying—but edifying—air quotes gesture. This is when my friend freaked out.

“Not true! It’s nonsense! Girls are perfectly capable of…”

Right! Of course! That was my point, too, but I went into the story all wrong. I can see now that I took liberties with my audience. Hopefully I fixed it with my friend, at her birthday dinner, no less. Sheesh. Way to go, me.

Let’s call this a teachable moment. I needed a reminder of something I’ve come to take for granted.

Even though I’m sure I’ve told this story before; even though it is obvious to anyone who’s ever worked with me; even though it should be clear to any person with whom I’ve held a conversation about education.

Let me reiterate that I:

  1. am good at math
  2. worked as an engineer in the (logic-based, i.e., “math-y”) field of computer technology
  3. lean technocratic and abhor non-objective criteria for advancement of platforms or people

In spite of all this, I really can’t tell a humorous yet informative story about being “bad at math” without the usual lead-up. I must always preface this statement with the fact that I erroneously believed myself to be “bad at math”…

because society;

because gender roles;

because socialization.

I saw through part of the illusion in high school, but it took years before I really got it. I believe most people—men and women—who claim to be bad at math are really the victims of poorly implemented math instruction.

Realizing math instruction was bad, not my math ability

High school was mostly boring. I was there doing time and ticking boxes so I could get into a good college to begin my real education. I wanted to be excited about school like I was about learning, but boy did the system make it tough.

I realized that science classes were more challenging to my logic-oriented brain, and I craved real learning of the sort that revved my engine.  I registered for as many science electives as I could squeeze in, graduating with eight science credits on my transcript. I was proud of that!

And yet…

…even with eight science classes on my transcript, by the end of high school, I was failing Calculus and more convinced than ever that I was “bad at math.” I could no longer conceive of being good at math, though I “knew” this fact in grade school.

I was privileged, and smart, and relatively enlightened. Still, it was that difficult to perceive the reality of what math was, how I could engage with it, or why I should.

Failing Calculus had more to do with not doing my work than a failure to grasp essential concepts, but I didn’t clue in to that until I repeated it in college. You see, I was interested in science and computers, and spoke about these subjects at college interviews, but I doubt I ever mentioned math.

“Math” was a hurdle I would have to clear to get to these fascinating, juicy fields of study. “Math” lived in my consciousness as a threat to be avoided.

Our K-12 system gives a very poor illumination of the field of mathematics

Math is presented in our schools as a skinny, rigid ladder to be climbed. There is one straight path from ignorance to Calculus, and success is measured by computational accuracy.

Almost no effort is made to highlight the diversity of thinking in math, the creativity that goes into the work of real mathematicians, and the awesome power of mathematics to solve real world problems.

books math texts - 2Ostensibly, Common Core is fixing this problem. In practice, I have grave doubts.

I read a fascinating book about a year ago before I kept a handy reading list like I’ve posted on this blog. I think it was Jo Boaler’s What’s math got to do with it?. The most important takeaway I got from that book had to do with a learned, innate fear of math that pervades American society, and female Americans in particular

And guess who’s teaching our children math? In 2011-2012, 76 percent of public school teachers were female. Women sure as hell can do math, but teachers with unaddressed phobias often unwittingly pass them on to their students.

For decades, I’ve repeated something I heard and find powerfully telling:

Americans feel perfectly comfortable admitting that they’re bad at math. Women, especially, feel free to flaunt their innumeracy.

“Tee hee, titter, titter, I’m so bad at math!”

How many people are equally blasé about their illiteracy?

Virtually none.

Teacher training can make a huge difference in breaking this pattern. Vocal and visible advocacy by female mathematicians and engineers make a difference, too. I talk about my enjoyment of math, logic, and puzzles more often than I probably should, but I want people to hear me. I’d like to be one more pebble in the pile of evidence it takes to make a self-evident mountain.

I’m good at math. I’m female. I’m going to keep talking about that.

A Whale of a Tail… Exploding!

Apropos of nothing else I’ve ever posted, today I feel compelled to share the most explosive tale from Oregon history. It took place in 1970—before my time—but it occurred in a little beach town where my parents later lived and my father worked in city government.

OR Florence - 2011

Florence, Oregon 2011. The cute downtown area, sans whale carcasses.

Thank heavens he wasn’t employed by the City of Florence in November, 1970. At least in this case, the blame is pretty easy to place squarely with the state highway division instead of City Hall, though you might be surprised how rarely that stops complaints from coming in.

A nice rendition of the whole story can be found here. If you just want the highlights, here’s a cartoon version.

Willing to view for yourself the great Oregon coast whale explosion? Here’s unabridged news footage from KATU-TV.

What brought this story to mind was a news item this morning: a forty foot long, rotting aquatic animal corpse has washed ashore in Indonesia. Is it a giant squid? A whale? Experts are taking meat samples (ugh!) and locals are snapping selfies they can show their doctors later when they develop rotting-meat related diseases.

Here’s hoping they elect to clean up the Indonesian carcass with something other than 20 cases of dynamite. Unless, that is, they are looking forward to blobs of blubber raining from the sky.

Still looking for more on this topic? You’re a little sick, but try:

Wikipedia on this, and other, exploding whales

The Exploding Whale site including factual and artistic explorations of the topic

“Teenagers, Kick Our Butts” is my parenting anthem

I’d like to talk about a song that I consider my parenting anthem:

Teenagers, Kick Our Butts by Dar Williams

If you enjoy indie folk music, you should definitely give it a listen. For those with different musical tastes, just read the lyrics and follow along.

Dar Williams End of the Summer

“Teenagers, Kick Our Butts” is track 6 on Dar Williams’ album End of the Summer

Some of the song’s lessons apply to raising kids well before the teenage years. I’ve been playing it in the car since my boys were little, and I’ve always pointed out certain lyrics, making clear these were sentiments with which I agree.

…I’m sure you know there’s lots to learn
But that’s not your fault, that’s just your turn, yeah, yeah…

…Find your voice, do what it takes
Make sure you make lots of mistakes…

Beginning this conversation when they were young was meant to pave the way for the impending struggles of adolescence. I wanted them to know that I was aware of the future when they would reject my authority, and that some of that was not just tolerated, but to be celebrated.

…Teenagers, kick our butts, tell us what the future will bring
Teenagers look at us, we have not solved everything

We drink and smoke to numb our pain
We read junk novels on the plane
We use authority for show so we can be a little smarter
We still can grow, and many do
It’s when we stop we can’t reach you
We feel the loss, you feel the blame
We’re scared to lose, don’t be the same, hey hey…

I talked to my little boys about the older kids they knew: young teens from school, older cousins, and family friends. I tried to point out gallant gestures made by gentle young men, and raise questions about the motivations of more rowdyish examples.

…Some felt afraid and undefended, so they got mean
And they pretended what they knew made them belong more than you….

…I’m here today because I fought for what I felt and what I thought
They put me down they, were just wrong
And now it’s they who don’t belong, oh, oh…

Lately, as I’ve discussed with my own teen the popularity and value of a contentious novel revolving around a girl’s tragic suicide, I’ve been able to point back at a well-known verse from the same old favorite:

…And when the media tries to act your age
Don’t be seduced, they’re full of rage…

I adore seeing this pointed out so succinctly.

New Media can be a legitimate forum for the formerly disenfranchised (e.g., youth), but it’s equally true that most of what achieves popularity gets bought out by the same old media cartels. Consumers of media must learn to be exceedingly critical of every source lest they inadvertently find themselves dancing to the tune of an unknown, objectionable master.

And what’s the alternative to blindly consuming pap that’s been prepared for you? Some people never learn to peek behind the curtain and discover the humbug working distracting magic tricks in the name of the Wizard. Here’s an answer by way of my favorite lyric again, this time expanded for the audience approaching maturity:

…Find your voice, do what it takes
Make sure you make lots of mistakes
And find the future that redeems
Give us hell, give us dreams
And grow and grow and grow

And someday when some teenagers come to kick your butts
Well then like I do try to
Love…

The funny thing is, I’ve always heard that final lyric differently. Williams sings it in a set of long, drawn out syllables rising up and down the octave, obscuring the simple word “love.” When I sing it, I’ve always twisted those same notes into the word:

“Learn”

I’d like my kids to discover the value in both lessons.

Books by my bedside 2017/05/10

I’ve noticed that I often bring up in conversation one or more of the fascinating books I’ve been reading lately, only to fail utterly at recalling titles or authors’ names. I’ll take this opportunity to at least have a handy reference available for anyone who cares to follow up on something I’ve said.

Just check my blog!

Non-Fiction

Economics, history & politics

Poor economics : a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty by Banerjee, Abhijit V.

The white man’s burden : why the West’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good by Easterly, William

Why nations fail : the origins of power, prosperity, and poverty by Acemoglu, Daron

Language

First German Reader for Cooking: bilingual for speakers of English (Graded German Readers) (Volume 9) by Brant, Adelina

Starting out in German by Living Language (audio CD)

Math & technology

Gödel, Escher, Bach : an eternal golden braid by Hofstadter, Douglas R.

Biography & memoir

The Egg & I by MacDonald, Betty

The Prize winner of Defiance, Ohio [sound recording] by Ryan, Terry

Fiction

Apprentice in Death (In Death Series, Book 43) by Robb, J. D.

The Great Passage written by Miura, Shion, translated by Carpenter, Juliet Winters (note: this was a freebie from Amazon for being a Prime member)

Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher

books - 1Reading Notes:

Eye doctor visit derails the reading process

Today, I had my eyes dilated at the ophthalmologist’s office, meaning I couldn’t read a word for about four hours and that I’m still hiding from the spring sun behind heavy curtains seven hours later. Ugh.

Please forgive me for any typos. My near vision is still blurry. I wasn’t sure that I would have a chance to post today at all.

Fortunately, I had requested an audiobook from the library this week, so I enjoyed the author’s reading of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio while covering my tender eyes on the couch.

Also fortunately, the discomfort I’d been experiencing in my eyes, prompting the visit to the doctor, has been diagnosed as simple dry eyes, and not an inflammatory complication of my autoimmune disease. Now that’s a blessing!

Book vs. video of 13 Reasons Why

I was able to read about a quarter of Thirteen Reasons Why as I waited for my appointment. So far, it strikes me that the video production faithfully captured the tone of the novel. It’s entirely readable, but, at this early stage, I’d say the protagonist (the male, Clay) reads somewhat less compelling than did the actor portraying him.

Rampant racism mars The Egg & I for otherwise appreciative modern reader

As for The Egg & I, I’ve been meaning to read this book for years, and it’s got me completely torn. On the one hand, it is a really marvelous, fun read written by an obviously clever author who was clearly born before her time, suffering as a farm housewife when she was constitutionally better suited for a more intellectually stimulating life. I really feel for her. I enjoyed so much of her witty, sarcastic writing.

But the blatant, roaring racism! Oh my word. I read a lot of old books, and am used to making certain allowances for the different standards of earlier eras, but whole segments of this book were grossly, unapologetically offensive. Most of my grandparents were of the same region during the same era, and never did I see or hear any of them express attitudes like MacDonald’s.

I think that stands out so sharply because, otherwise, I feel like I could be friends with this author. She’s someone I’d like to sit down and chat with over a cup of coffee… but heaven forbid she learn that my grandmother claimed her father was a Blackfoot Indian.*

And would my sloppy home meet her standards, or would I be lumped in with poor, aspirational Mrs. Weatherly and her delusions of grandeur? But, rather than classism, it could be the fact that Mr. Weatherly was a [MacDonald’s words!] “dirty Indian” that really made Mrs. Weatherly so disgusting to the author. After all, MacDonald shows obvious affection for Maw and Paw Kettle, who were at least equally slovenly.

*Grandma’s brother claimed their father was a Turk, so don’t take her word for it. I don’t think anyone in the family has factual information about this particular great-grandfather.