Olivia the First

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by Patrick Roos

Life was predetermined for Olivia with very few options and no freedom. Being a princess wasn’t all scones and pony rides. There were countless expectations and obligations attached to the tiara. Even her friends were chosen by the chancellor. As the eldest girl of a family in desperate want of sons, she strove for approval under the pretext of her gender. Olivia never had the luxury of being the golden-haired darling of the ultimate power couple.
Every moment of every day she was surrounded by sycophants and wannabes. The only real choice allowed to her was between the blue and yellow gowns. Groomed and educated as the pawn to unite kingdoms of greedy old men she was the flaxen-haired advertisement for inbreeding. In her scarce private thoughts, she understood she was a supporting character in someone else’s legend.
One sunny day, she slipped away for a solitary walk deep into the forest. Olivia ached for the magnificent smell of nature. In a small clearing, she rested, just for a moment. When she awoke, she stood alone and dirty, deep in a cave, not able to remember how she arrived in this tenuous position. Shivering in fear the odiferous breath scorches her dress and singes her hair. Restricted by costume and custom, she is programmed to wait for some unknown “hero” to save her from this mythical creature. Surely doomed she noticed the glint of a blade just peeking through a pile of bones a few feet from where she hid. The realization struck Olivia that the Dragon was merely a metaphor for her own life. She realized there was only one that could defeat the beast.
Quickly the options were weighed and she knew to wait was to remain a bit player, which was its own death. The resolution was whispered quieter than a breath, “I choose to live and die as my own champion”, and she silently edged to the weapon.
The dainty hand wrapped around the silver hilt and the skeletal claw released it willingly. The cold metal confirmed the decision lending strength to her arm. Olivia sucked in what might be her last deep breath, kicked off her jeweled slippers and stood tall on her own two feet. In absolute determination, she turned and faced the dragon eye to eye. “It’s show time!”

Anonymous No More

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For most of history anonymous was a woman – Virginia Wolfe.

History has been remiss in honoring women. If men were changing history, it is guaranteed the delicate sex was also there. So many names and triumphs have vanished to the Mrs.

Sofonisba Anguissola was one of the first women, to be allowed art lessons, only because her father was an artist. A 16th-century portraitist, she was praised for her detail, warm colors, and expressive eyes. Michelangelo sent his drawings to her for critique and copying. She was artistically anonymous.

Right after the Mayflower dropped anchor in the Chesapeake Bay, Susanna White bore a child. Her husband, William White died in the first year. Susanna was alone with a toddler and a newborn at the Plymouth colony. She wed Edward Winslow months later and was one of only four adult women who survived to the first Thanksgiving. Her early history has been lost, and her personal story of survival absorbed into myth. History knows of her husbands, but not of Susanna. She was nuptially anonymous.

In 1647, Margaret Brent of Maryland colony was able to vote as a property owner. She voted twice, the second time for Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore. Shortly after that, the governor decided it was an oversight and women would not regain the privilege until 128years later. Disenfranchised anonymous.

Sybil Ludington rode the same night as Paul Revere. She was 15, traveled twice as far, fought off bandits and didn’t fall from her horse. She was able to muster the troops in time to face the British. Since her name didn’t rhyme, Revere is singularly credited. Independently anonymous.

Women and wives were never strangers to the battlefield. Mary Ludwig Hays was at the Battle of Monmouth; she carried pitchers of water to the soldiers. When her husband collapsed, she took over the cannon. She was one of the many women who became Molly Pitcher. Even Martha Washington traveled with the Revolutionary army. Every battle George was in, she was there. Washing clothes and preparing food. Would we know her name if she wasn’t our original – first lady? Anonymous under fire.

Catherine Littlefield Greene did the initial design and with the help of a plantation slave, whose name has disappeared, and a handyman, Eli Whitney, they developed the cotton gin. She financed the production and registration but because women weren’t allowed to hold patents, Eli is honored in classrooms today, and no one discusses Catherine’s involvement. Innovatively anonymous.

Annie Jump Cannon was the curator of astronomical photographs at Harvard Observatory. She was astoundingly efficient and was able to classify up to three stars a minute, and Cannon cataloged several hundred thousand stars to the 11th magnitude. She discovered 300 variable stars, in addition to 5 novae. Astronomically anonymous.

Born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867, the daughter of a secondary-school teacher. She received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father. Would we remember Marie Curie if Pierre had not complained when her name was left off of the first Nobel Prize nomination? She received a half prize for physics in 1903 with Pierre, and 1911 a solo prize in Chemistry. Impossible to ignore but radio-active.

The first US Congress met in 1789. One hundred and twenty-eight years later, Janette Rankin was the first woman to represent over half of the US population. She was elected 3 years before she could vote. Women still have not reached parity, but they are working on it. Unequally anonymous, but changing the rules.

Margaret Knight was one of the most prolific inventors of the 20th century. She started at 12 with a stop action device for industrial looms. One of the machinists Margaret hired to complete her prototype for the flat bottom paper bag machine submitted her design for a patent. After a bitter court battle, she was able to recover her first patent, followed by 87 more. She improved shoe manufacturing, window frames, the spit for skewering meat, and improvement of the rotary engine. Fought to no longer be Anonymissed.

The moral of the story-ladies all together-“Anonymous no more!” 

November – NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH

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Lozen
circa 1840-1898

Lozen was born into the Chihenne, Warm Springs Apache band, during the 1840’s. She was the sister of Chief Victorio and a she was a skillful warrior, strategist, prophet, and medicine woman. Victorio is quoted as saying, “Lozen is my right hand . . . strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy, Lozen is a shield to her people.” She never married knowing early in life that she had no interest in women’s work. At the age of 8 she started physically training, and at her Puberty ritual she was given the power to find enemies.

She began fighting the Mexican soldiers and scalp hunters when she was a child. By time she came of age the Americans arrived in her homeland and she fought in the campaigns to save her people for of the rest of her life. She showed incredible military knowledge and instincts; many believed that the spirits spoke to her and protected her. She fought in more campaigns against the Mexicans and her homeland and tried to confine her tribe to the Arizona San Carlos Reservation, she fought on.

She not only inspired warriors but also the women and children. James Kaywaykla, a child at the time, reported seeing a magnificent woman on a beautiful horse – Lozen, sister of Victorio- Lozen the woman warrior! He remembered she held her rifle high above her head as she lead the frightened women and children a crossed the ragging Rio Grande saving them from the US Military. She then told his grandmother to take charge, and she returned to help the warriors as they battled on.

Another time she left a campaign to escort a mother and her newborn infant across the Chihuahuan Desert. With limited supplies and a rifle she set out through Mexican and US Calvary strong holds. Fearing a gunshot would betray their location, she killed a longhorn with a knife and butchered it for the meat they needed to survive. She also stole two cavalry horses for them to ride, escaping through a hail of bullets. She not only got away with two horses, but also was able to snag a saddle, rifle, ammunition, blanket, canteen and even the soldier’s shirt.

Upon delivering her wards, she learned that her brother had been ambushed by the Mexican and Tarahumara Indian forces on 10/15/81. The Apaches had almost fought to the last man, and Victorio, holding to Apache tradition, fell on his own knife rather than be taken by the Mexicans. Many of the Apache women and elderly were killed in this battle and around one hundred young women and children were taken as slaves.

Knowing that the survivors needed her, she rode out alone. Lozen rejoined the decimated band now being led by the 74- year old patriarch Nana. She fought with this handful of warriors in a two-month campaign of vengeance across New Mexico. Nana said “Though she is a woman there is no warrior more worthy than the sister of Victorio.”

In 1885 in the last campaign of the Apache wars, she joined with Geronimo after he broke out of the San Carlos reservation. It is reported that she used her powers to locate enemies. According to Alexander Adams in his book “Geronimo” she would stand with her arms outstretched, chant a prayer and turn around. She would then feel the location of the enemies, even their number. She was photographed with Geronimo several times, and you would never know that she was a woman. She had no concern for appearance and the ways of women, she not only dressed but lived like a man. Lozen devoted her life to the service of her people. She was the only Apache woman allowed to ride in a war as a warrior without a husband at her side

She had eluded capture until she finally surrendered with Geronimo and this last group of free Apaches in 1886. She died of tuberculosis at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Mobile, Alabama as a prisoner of war. Now that life is bigger than a movie!

I have been celebrating Native American History all month. for other posts and celebrations check out . https://www.facebook.com/tonikief8author/

 

Fame and Fortune in 5 Easy Steps

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Fame and Fortune in 5 steps 

1. You have an original story rolling around in your brain, been there for years. It’s time to write. Go to Target; buy large spiral , pens, paperback dictionary and binder. While there check out the plastic picnicware and try on shoes that match nothing. Buy sandwich supplies and water bottle, you will need these while penning the best story since Steinbeck died. Head home inspired and ready.

2. Driving passed Best Buy ponder the pros of writing your inspiration on the computer, editing will be easier. Make U-turn to purchase a zip drive to protect your tale of humor and quiet wisdom. Check out the $5 movie bin, put back Ernest goes to Camp, you didn’t like that movie in 1987, and it is still stupid. While bent over looking at a bug zapper, Greg, the 14-year-old clerk will offer to help. Ask him where they keep the zip drives, staying on task. Turning to walk towards the rear of the store, stop to test the 3 D glasses and watch dolphins frolic in the early mist on a 78 inch color TV. Proceed through home entertainment towards the zip drives. Price printers; you will need one for the profound inspiration of a life well lived. Play Angry Birds on sample tablet, and gasp at the price. A 6 gig zip drive is $39.99. When did that happen? Use two credit cards to pay for laptop with free printer. Much better investment than a zip drive, because you can work anywhere and produce the next New York Times break out hit while at Starbucks.

3. Set alarm for 6:00 AM, you know your muse is sharpest in the mornings. Hit snooze at 6:30, 7, 7:30 and rise at 8:30 sharp. Set up laptop, feed cats, clean litter box, eat cold English muffin. Take a shower, and dress comfortably. Wear raggedy sweater that could have made Sylvia Plathe laugh. Return to Best Buy for a wireless router so you can connect to the internet, as access to Thesarus.com will be mandatory for your in-depth treatise on Puritan politics. Your brother calls to meet at Denny’s, and use free beverage coupon that’s due to expire. Stop at Half Price books spend 2 hours 45 minutes and $127 for cookbooks, writers guide and a mystery series by Tony Hillerman. Immediately upon your return home connect to X-Finity Direct TV and watch Ernest Goes to Camp, cost $2.99, savings of $2.01. Read Coyote Waits until 12:11AM.

4. Set alarm for 7AM to start when you are fresh. 7:40, open lap top, check email and post status on Facebook about starting the next great saga of bravery, struggle, improbable science and deception in medieval Scotland. 2:45 PM sign off Facebook and go back to word document. Spend 3 hours on 500 word prompt based on garlic for Writer’s Kickstart meeting.

5. Call into work at 6:45AM begging for an emergency personal day. Open word doc and type….”It was stormy on that dark night…”

Some great reading -Banned Books

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September 24th to September 30th is Banned Book Week. In 1966 I read all of the banned books I could find. They were some incredible books that I will celebrate later in the week. I have learned that most librarians when pushed may move a book to another section, but they generally are very pro-reading and anti-censorship when it comes to literature.

It has been an adventure this week looking at some great literature that bugged someone at some time. Often the reasoning is silly, like Charlotte’s Web for In 2003, the school’s head teacher said that all books featuring pigs should be removed because it could offend Muslim students and parents. However, Islamic leaders asked the school to drop the ban of the book.
In 2006, Parents from Kansas considered the book of talking animals profane and unnatural. They said that the spider dying was “inappropriate for a children’s book.” The parents also said “humans are the highest level of God’s creation and are the only creatures that can communicate vocally and is disrespectful to God.”
The Scarlet Letter was challenged on sexual grounds, and has been called ‘pornographic’ and ‘obscene’. There are no sex scenes at all in the book, and no sexual language.

Best of all The Merriam-Webster Dictionary for including a definition for oral sex.

We now have a new reading list!

www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks

INFLATION

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My grandmother earned $2 a week on her first job. I made $1 an hour and was the highest paid kid in the park district. Today minimum wage guarantees a daily struggle with little hope of relief. Last Saturday, I used my debit card for a matinee and paid $5 for a drink. I cannot help but reminisce about my parents sending all four children to a movie with a dollar and four dimes for candy. Today I bought a pack of gum on sale for a dollar.

Nevertheless, it is still a penny for a thought, which I consider a bargain.

1. I hope jeans never go out of style.
2. Was Levi Strauss related to Johan Strauss; they were close in age?
3. Would I be smarter if my brain wasn’t full of trivia?
4. Is Facebook an evil parasite set on world domination, and am I just a pawn?
5. Working at a bookstore is probably nothing like I imagine.
6. Is the Dali Lama a virgin? Is it required in his line of work or did he just never meet anyone?
7. Why do many religions consider women to be not only weak but also all that is evil when they bring 90% of the casseroles?
8. I love to write, why do I work so hard at avoiding it?
9. Can anyone spell questionnaire right the first time?
10. Do I have days, weeks or years left? I’m going to regret the hours on Facebook (see #4).
11. Are all the radio and electronic waves pulsing around our earth for my entertainment and phone reception, bouncing off me or trucking straight on through?
12. Where has compassion gone? Is it out of style, or replaced by judgment and fear?
13. How hungry was the first person who ate an oyster?
14. When you receive your first AARP letter, you are already overdue on shredding or donating your bikinis and speedos.
15. If reptiles had fur, would I like them better?
16. Do any of my old loves still think about me, positively?
17. Hate takes up so much energy when indifference is the real opposite of love.
18. I certainly think Joan Rivers stuck to a style of comedy too long.
19. I’m in the first generation raised on processed food; all genetic bets are off.
20. While on the subject, why are our food producers trying to kill us? That is not a sustainable business plan.
21. Even bad decisions often become historically important.
22. We should begin a class action suit against the person who invented traffic circles.
23. Is there a chemical in the brain that gives talent, or do the gifted utilize a part I neglected to activate?
24. Inspiration is just the coolest thing ever.
25. If you were a bird, would you fly high or just skitter around, keeping close to the earth?

You owe me two dimes and a nickel; payment can be made with in-kind ponderings or a direct deposit into my 401k.

July!!!

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July has knocked me silly, if that is a change. I took a geological vacation with my grandson and published two books of short stories, Detours and Destinations and Detours and Transformations. Plus marketing Mildred In Disguise With Diamonds, and writing the next one.

In my spare time I have volunteered to work with the new webseries, “The Sticks”.

Finally there is the Writers Cooperative of the Pacific Northwest, and the library presentations. Will be at the Darrington Library this Saturday.  Darn, you would think I’d be thinner.

SHE IS OFF HER MEDICATION

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   The question began with a dinner for eleven women. One was struggling with a difficult personal loss, and it was suggested she try an antidepressant. Over the evening’s conversation it was discovered that nine of the eleven had been on antidepressants. This realization continues to nag years later.
Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people ages 15 to 44. Depression affects approximately 17.1 million American adults, or 8 percent of the population. Adults from households with an income of less than $20,000 experienced the highest rate, and no surprise, adults with a household income of $50,000 or more had the lowest rate. The ultra-successful were not included in the studies.
Since the third version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association was published in 1980 psychiatry relied primarily on a list of symptoms for its definition of depressive disorder. A person with five symptoms out of a list that includes depressed mood, loss of interest in usual activities, insomnia, fatigue, lessened appetite, an inability to concentrate, etc. for a period of two weeks is considered to have a depressive disorder. In reality most people will endure a betrayal, lose a job, be passed over for promotion, financial set-backs, or a serious illness. All of these events can cause symptoms that will endure for longer than two-weeks. Is it depression? Does it require medical treatment? The genuine depressive disorder seems diluted by life’s challenges.
Medical treatment is frequently antidepressant drugs. They come with their own list of complications and side-affects that should cause us to stop and ponder. There is an epidemic, but is it really depression or our need to simplify all problems with a pill? The majority of the studies are presented by drug companies and don’t supply any unbiased information. In one non-drug company report it stated B vitamins have been as successful as Valium and presents no side effects.
What in our societies has caused such an extraordinary development? The most obvious I, an untrained know it all, can see is diet and the search and a clamoring for immediacy. The baby boomers are the first generation raised on processed food, which also changes rules. Our modern society is constantly marketed quick fixes and short cuts. Even exercise has been packaged and sold to us as clubs and machines.
In an attempt to be healthier, buying a “fresh” apple is tricky. It may have been picked in Chile 2 weeks ago, gassed, shipped and ripened a container. Most grocery stores are now national chains with few if any local produce sections. Is Organic better? We don’t know all of the loop holes and processing, let alone the date it left the field.
Then we have “Big Pharma” another bad wolf. With massive profits of building long time customers being trumped by cures. They add to the complexity.
Fact, all disease is caused by some malfunction or toxicity of the body. Fact, depression has been a valid mental condition for centuries. Why has it become an epidemic? Do we fear the emotional costs of life? Have we lost all control of our food? There is something missing, and another band-aide won’t fix anything. I apologize for no answers, but it is all too complex for an under educated amateur addicted to the news.