What if they threw a feminist art exhibit and nobody came?

From the files of “Why, no one’s ever done that a million times before!”…

In shocking art-world news, a feminist artist (you know what’s-a-coming now, doncha?) has made a large, golden statue of her – can you guess?  No?  Well, let’s just say it isn’t a golden statue of her calf.

Naturally, universities are falling all over themselves to get a piece o’ dat.

Sophia Wallace’s CLITERACY explores the cultural paradox of an obsession with sexualized female bodies and little understanding of female sexuality. CLITERACY asserts the right of a woman to set individualized expectation for the treatment of her body instead of simply responding to the actions of another with a “yes” or a “no”, a concept of consent that falsely homogenizes experience and implies passivity. By occupying public space with information about women’s bodies, CLITERACY destigmatizes the information itself, facilitating open dialogue. Wallace’s work reveals the “phallic as neutral” bias in science, law, philosophy, politics, mainstream and even feminist discussion, and the art world. Her art will be displayed in DuPont Library as a means of mirroring the cultural silence surrounding issues of female sexuality in today’s world as well as throughout history. The questions we hope this exhibit provokes among students, community members, and faculty are: why is this shocking to me? Why is it odd or difficult for me to see a representation of a clitoris, when phallic imagery abounds? We hope that by bringing Wallace and her artistic vision to Sewanee, we can encourage more in depth, healthy conversations about female sexuality, sexual violence on campus, as well as a myriad of other topics to stimulate growth.

If this is the new “healthy” when it comes to conversations, just leave me sick, okay?

But I mean, really, the “cultural silence surrounding issues of female sexuality”? What planet does this woman live on? She’s not even unique this month for making female genital art; universities are pretty much nonstop talk-a-thons about female sexuality.

(h/t Moonbattery)

Despite the pressure to complain, there is a way we can be joyful.

I read a blog post recently about this WaPo article Why don’t dads complain about parenthood like moms do?  The authoress of the article complains about the fact that men are doing more childcare but aren’t complaining about it enough.  The blog post about the article calls this miserly feminist ugliness, and I mostly agree, but what the blog author might not realize (I don’t know if his commenters realize it or not, as I don’t have time to read blog comments anymore) is the pressure that women get from other women to complain about their husbands and children.  It’s not limited to feminists by any means, even though some feminists have perfected bitter complaining to an art form.

For an example of what I mean, consider this story Patrice Lewis from Rural Revolution shared several years ago:

“Now contrast this happy family with a news article that came out last week in which a mother called her children the “biggest regret” of her life. “[L]ike parasites, both my children would continue to take from me and give nothing meaningful back in return,” she says […]

This reminds me of an experience I had when I was pregnant with Older Daughter. Don and I spent a weekend as vendors at a craft show. In my excitement about the baby, I mentioned to many people that I was pregnant.

Toward the end of the day, the woman in the next booth turned to me and said, “So. I hear you’re pregnant.”

“Yes,” I replied proudly. “The baby is due in December.”

“You’re going to hate it,” she said flatly.

Startled, I replied, “Excuse me?”

“You’ll hate it. Believe me, I have six kids, and I hate them all.”

For the next half hour, as I slumped lower in my chair, she poured poison into my ear about how awful motherhood is. By the time she was done, I was crying.”

Instead of complaining, Patrice was filled with joy (and if you read Patrice’s blog, you know she’s hardly a woman who sugarcoats how hard of work life is), hence the poison that the other woman felt the need to pour into her ear. Any woman who shows too much joy in her husband and children will face this at some point; the pressure put on women by other women to complain and criticize their husbands, children, and family can be intense, as the WaPo article demonstrates.

Personally, I’ve experienced just about every situation at one time or another – working full-time, working part-time, being at home full-time, homeschooling, having my children in a Christian school, and now finally living somewhere where we feel okay about having the kids in the local public schools (because they are small, rural, and Christian-friendly; we even go to church with some of our children’s teachers).  And what I’ve found is that I’m tempted to complain just about as much in any one situation as I am in another. Sometimes I’ve complained because I had a legitimate need for help – for example, I had to ask my mother-in-law to come stay with us for several days this week because I just couldn’t keep up while my husband was out of town – but other times I was jes’ bitchin’.

Deciding to focus on gratitude for even having a family to serve is what has worked best for me in quashing my feminine tendency to complain about whatever situation I’m in and whatever people I’m around.  Because really, if women aren’t complaining about their children and husbands, they’ll just tend to complain about their co-workers and bosses. Of course, most men complain too (yes, they really do, despite the saints and martyrs routine some men spout), but men don’t pressure other men to complain the way women tend to do.

If I have any useful advice at all to offer my fellow woman here, it would be this: don’t complain about your family – not your husband, not your children, and not your extended kin – nor about doing your duty to them, and do your best to ignore the pressure other women place on you to be a bitter, grumbling complainer. There is no need to be fakey-fakey-everything-is-awesome! about it; it’s okay to acknowledge the reality that your duty may be hard and heavy in a particular season, it’s even okay to say, “I really need help because I am overburdened right now.” It’s okay to admit that sometimes certain family members (hey, teenagers, I’m lookin’ at you here) can be quite, shall we say, irksome.

No matter. They are yours, your very own people!  How blessed, how very blessed, we are to have our own kin!  There is hardly a greater joy than our own highly imperfect but infinitely dear kin and kith. If we love them well and look for the joy in serving them, surely, surely God will sustain us and bless our families!

…may the righteous be glad
    and rejoice before God;
    may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
 God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

From Psalm 68

Or if you prefer, be encouraged by this gorgeous old Maria McKee song, my favorite lines from which are these:

Tell me why wasn’t I more grateful?
Why wasn’t I more grateful?
Why wasn’t I, why wasn’t I more grateful
When life was sweet, when life was sweet?

Some people want and want and want what they don’t have
‘Til it keeps ’em awake at night in their bed just twitchin’
Some people like to complain about every little thing
Some folks just never stop bitchin’

I had a good man, I took him for granted
And now I surely, surely, surely, surely miss him
Wasn’t it enough? wasn’t it, wasn’t it enough?…

Why wasn’t I, why wasn’t I?
And it keeps me wonderin’ what might’ve been
Keeps me wonderin’ what might’ve been, yeah
To the Lord more grateful

Sour self-denial versus joyful penitence.

20h20 hours ago

Sheesh, thr religion is so stringent. Even St Paul wasn’t that much of dick over meat offered to idols.

20h20 hours ago

It’s sad and…grotesque to watch humans with no True symbols or icons try to construct some.

The picture is humorous, but I think KeepCalmAndDrawl has a point. Of course, there may be a few people who have severe chemical sensitivities – I know someone who does and she has to be very careful about chemical exposure – but overall the sign exemplifies a more-liberal-than-thou attempt at a worldly form of holiness that, as a former liberal Ann Arborite, I’m very familiar with.  I also wonder if some of this has to do with a perversion of the normal desire to be penitent, as Mrs. Laura Wood (the Thinking Housewife) noted in a recent post, Penitential Gear, Yesterday and Today.

What I’ve observed of people who are trying to create meaning out of this kind of symbolism is how much it sours their demeanor.  I’ve even experienced it firsthand; in college a friend and I went through a vegan stage until we noticed that a) many vegans were both painfully dogmatic and insufferably cranky and b) we were both becoming dogmatic and cranky.

Of course, the Bible makes it clear that God does not intend for us to be sour and cranky.  Consider how much the Bible has to say about how we should be joyful and rejoicing:

You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound. (Psalm 4:7)

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure. (Psalm 16:9)

The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy. (Psalm 126:3)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

In fact, in doing a keyword search for joy, I found 242 verses that mention it! Just reading the verses is joy-giving, don’t you think?  God gives people joy when they are penitent toward Him, but worldly self-denial without God just leaves everyone sour.


The extreme materialism of liberals.

There is this weird and highly inaccurate trope out there that liberals are anti-consumerists and concerned about economic justice whereas conservatives are greedy, evil capitalists. Remember when the price of Sarah Palin’s outfits on the campaign trail were meticulously catalogued by every liberal publication but Michelle Obama’s designer clothing was written about with great admiration? Now, I do find most modern Republicans make a virtue out of consumerism, but it’s odd to me how liberalism is somehow thought of as “The People’s” ideology when its leaders are such extreme materialists and label hounds.

Consider Amal Clooney, wife of actor and liberal donor George Clooney:

Amal Clooney

Some fawning liberal fashion publication breathlessly added up her Valentine’s Day outfit (complete with labels, natch):

  • Citizens of Humanity skinny jeans – $178
  • Saint Laurent suede fringed cape – $3,990!
  • Akong London rhinestone necklace – $390.
  • Gucci leather and snakeskin horsebit ankle booties – $1,595
  • blue crocodile Nancy Gonzalez clutch – $1,650

The total cost of her outfit was $7,803, which the online article refers to as a “laid-back” look. Yet her husband fancies himself some kind of humanitarian anti-poverty activist.

Musings on free-range parenting, comfort-addicted kids, and under-developed gross motor skills.

On President’s Day I had to go to work even though school was not in session. I was  working on an evaluation report while sitting in a meeting room with a group of other speech language pathologists and we got on the subject of “kids these days”…I was worrying aloud about the fact that even on days when the temperature is around 15 F, the children were still being kept in for “indoor recess”. I felt this was excessive and that we’d do better to keep old snow gear around for kids who didn’t bring theirs and to chuck ’em outside for 15-20 minutes every day. More than a few kids, though, don’t even want to go out.

I ask some of the kids about what they did over the weekend, if they went outside to play at all; some do, but a lot don’t. And to be truthful, my own children will moo about being sent outside sometimes; they’d often rather lounge around inside. I find this odd because as a kid, I couldn’t wait to get out the door, even in bad weather.

We seem to have created a perfect storm of hovering adults and kids who are weirdly addicted to comfort.

One of my colleagues whose age I’d estimate to be early thirties talked about being allowed to walk to and from school by about second grade. Another woman who is probably around my age shared some charming memories of the very rural farm community where she grew up; by the time she was seven years old, she’d wake up early on a summer morning, pack a sandwich and an apple in her knapsack, mount her pony (sans saddle) and head out for the day. She said she’d ride through people’s farms and through woods and end up several miles from home. She said it wasn’t all that unusual to fall off her pony and have to lead it to a tree stump to remount it because she was too little to get back on otherwise.

It’s hard to imagine any seven year old today even wanting to do that, let alone being allowed to.

Should we allow them to? Should we force them to? Should we be free range parents even if our kids would rather be house potatoes?

And it turns out, there are laws in some states about what age a child may be unsupervised:

Alabama None
Arizona None
Arkansas None
California None
Connecticut None
Florida None
Hawaii None
Idaho None
Illinois 14
Indiana None
Iowa None
Louisiana None
Maine None
Maryland 8
Massachusetts None
Minnesota None
Missouri None
Montana None
Nebraska None
Nevada None
New Hampshire None
New Jersey None
New Mexico 10
New York None
North Carolina 8
Ohio None
Oklahoma None
Oregon 10
Pennsylvania None
South Carolina None
South Dakota None
Texas None
Utah None
Wisconsin None

In Illinois, a child must be at least 14 before he may be unsupervised! In my state, a child can’t now be unsupervised until age 11.  By the time I was 11 in 1980, I was already babysitting other people’s kids.

I think one of the reasons we wanted to get outside so badly was because if we were inside, we were often made to do chores, and not just minor ones:

A study of the articles, advice and letters published in more than 300 parenting magazines between 1920 and 2006 has found that most modern-day children are only asked to take on trivial responsibilities, such as feeding a pet, clearing the table after dinner or tidying up after themselves.

“In earlier generations, children and adolescents were given meaningful opportunities to be responsible by contributing not only to their households but also to their larger communities,” said Markella Rutherford, assistant professor of sociology at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and author of the new study, Children’s Autonomy and Responsibility: An Analysis of Child Rearing Advice.

Plus there wasn’t much to do inside since video game systems hadn’t really become commonplace, there were no electronic devices and the internet basically didn’t exist.

I’m not really sure what we can do about all this. On the one hand, I would not let a child as young as seven be gone outside all day. On the other hand, anecdotally children’s motor skills really are looking worse – perhaps from a lack of unsupervised outdoor playtime? There is a wonderful group that comes into some schools now called Motor Moms and Dads and pulls kids out into the hallways to work on gross motor skills with them because they lack some real foundational movement skills. I’m very grateful for our Motor Moms since they’re all volunteers, but could you imagine having needed such a group when we were children?

It’s worrisome and I don’t have any neat, tidy solutions to suggest.

Lessons learned from a disaster that could have been worse.

This was the scene from my basement at about 8:00 p.m. last night, as the two plumbers hacked into the wall to deal with the burst pipe:


They were darn nice guys and the bill only came to $264.99, which frankly I don’t think is all that bad considering the time of night and how busy they were.  I don’t know if I have any readers from this area, but if so, I can recommend the plumbers we used: ABC Plumbing & Drain, Inc.  The receipt says they have locations in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Allen Park, and Wyandotte (I didn’t receive any compensation from them for giving them a positive review; they don’t even know I’m reviewing them).

The pipe burst with such force that the stream of water blew a big hole in the drywall: DSC04009DSC04010


The force of the water behind the ice in the pipe split it right open.

The plumbers redid the pipe, which goes up the basement wall and out to the garden hose faucet outside. It’s one of those special frost-free faucets, but what we didn’t know is that there was a shut off valve in the house to that faucet and the one in the front yard garden which should have been turned off once winter hit. The plumbers showed us where it is and turned it off so that we won’t have this problem again, which is good because the air temperature tonight is supposed to be -7 F and the air temperature tomorrow night is supposed to be a record-breaking -17 F.


These valves turn off the outdoor faucets; my husband told me that when plumbing handles are horizontal, the water is turned off, which is useful information to know.

Our basement is a walk-out, which means that the wall where the pipe broke is above ground level; this means the wall is exposed to a lot of wind, which makes those pipes susceptible to freezing.  Next winter, I’ll follow the steps from the helpful site Plumbing Geek for preventing frozen pipes (I advise clicking that link and reading all the info there):

  1. Find the service valve for a particular outdoor faucet.
  2. Close the service valve.
  3. Remove the hose and open the hose valve (turn the faucet to the “on” position”) that is served by the service valve you closed.
  4. Place a container under the hose valve or have someone watch to see if water drains from the hose valve.
  5. Hold another container in place while you open the waste cap on the service valve.
  6. Watch for water to drain out of the waste cap, or for air to be drawn into the waste cap, or both in stages.
  7. Leave the waste cap loose, the hose valve open, and the hose off the hose valve.

The plumbers left it like this:


and today the disaster clean up people arrived with industrial fans and dehumidifiers.


They peeled off some of the drywall and pulled back the carpet where it was wet to remove the pad:


They sprayed the area with some kind of antimicrobial chemical to prevent mold and mildew and then ran the dehumidifier hose into our utility drain:


They’ll eventually replace that section of carpet pad, determine if any wood was damaged by the water and replace it if need be, then re-insulate, re-drywall, and repaint. The estimate is around $2500, which again is not as bad as we feared (also, thank goodness for home owner’s insurance – always keep your policy up to date!).

One thing that occurred to me is that if Phil had not been home, I would not have had a clue where the main shut-off valve to the water was, which would have substantially increased the amount of damage. He showed me where it is:


Do you know where your main water shut-off valve is? If you don’t, I strongly advise you to locate it now while you are not having an emergency.

All in all we feel like we got off easy; the disaster clean-up people confirmed for us that we did, too. They, like the plumbers, have been working round-the-clock shifts since the frigid weather hit and told us they’ve seen really catastrophic damage in some people’s homes. I said a silent little prayer for those poor folks and thanked God for both the mercy we received this time around and for all the really kind and helpful workers we’ve dealt with so far.

On gardens and gratitude.




It’s time to do some more garden day-dreaming…I suspect this blog is going to morph into nothing but gardening posts. Next to faith and family, gardening is the thing that fills me with the most joy.

I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was a good way to reuse something we all have a lot of:


I put a plastic grocery bag in each of the bathrooms and asked everyone to drop the empty rolls into the bags. In the spring, I’ll start my seeds in dirt-filled toilet paper rolls and then plant the entire roll in the ground, leaving the top inch above the soil to give the seedlings a leg up on the slugs.

Though it may seem odd to be longing for the garden in February, it certainly beats contemplating the reality of this miserably-cold winter. When I picked up one of my girls on Sunday from a church event at a chapel our church recently bought, she told me the pipes had burst in the building and left it without water! And the temperatures have continued to drop ridiculously low at night, which is why I am unfortunately writing this post from a hotel room instead of from my cozy house in the woods.

When I got home from work this afternoon, just before my husband was getting ready to leave to go somewhere, I decided to hop in the shower. Right away I noticed a curious lack of water pressure (Can you see where this is going?) and called to him about it. He went and investigated and came running back a moment later, telling me to get out of the shower pronto.

A pipe had frozen and burst in the basement wall and water was pouring in through the freshly-painted drywall, soaking the carpeting and seeping toward the furniture. We were in a bit of a panic until Phil figured out how to turn the central water valve off. He had to call three different plumbers before he found anyone who could come out; all the others were booked solid around the clock because so many people have burst pipes!

Phil sent the girls and me off to a hotel and just now called me to tell me that the plumbers fixed the problem and told him they’d been working since 8:00 a.m. and are booked right through the night until tomorrow morning. The disaster clean-up people will be coming in the morning to start pulling up carpet if it isn’t salvageable and ripping out wet drywall, and the insurance adjustor will be over, too. Bah, if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. 🙂 But I’m so thankful that we caught it early so it wasn’t worse. I shudder to think how bad it could have been if it had happened in the middle of the night when we were all sleeping. So even with a soggy basement, I am filled with gratitude.

Oh man, does it make me long for spring! But for at least a few more months, I’ll just be daydreaming…

wisteria veggie gardenveggie trellis