Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back and Forth, Up and Down (2009)

I am approaching the one-year anniversary of my release from a corporate empire. It is interesting that, at this junction in my life, I am once again painting. My daughter and her tribe are packing and after living with me for two years, they are moving into their own home. I am painting the bathroom for her. Back and forth, up and down, the paintbrush goes just as it did a year ago. I wrote an essay about my adventures last summer and shared it in my New Year’s message to some of my friends. I am repeating it for those who are interested.

The house that I am painting has been around for more than eighty years. My thoughts frequently wander as I brush paint over cracked molding that has more paint layers than I care to count. I have let my imagination wander with each brush stroke, who put this first layer on in this tiny little cottage? Perhaps the “man” of the house, or the builder. I am sure it was not the “lady” of the house. From the books that I have read about home life in the 1920s, she would not done this work herself. If her husband was unable to do it, then she would have found a handyman to do it.

The 1920s and 1930s are a fascinating period. The British television versions of “Hercule Poirot” and “Miss Marple” by Agatha Christie on PBS showcase the best of the eras. I love old movies like “The Thin Man”. The style of the houses, the clothing, and the cars always captivate me. It seems like a simpler time with an invisible, hidden current of excitement and exploration underneath that facade. I wonder if I could have lived in a time that restricted women, but I do know that there were many women that worked around those restrictions.

Even now, we place restrictions on ourselves. It doesn’t matter if the influences come from outside pressures or from our own minds, how we restrict ourselves defines us and the result is the same. One of the many books I have enjoyed reading is “Women in the Field: America's Pioneering Women Naturalists” by Marcia M. Bonta. These women defied restrictions placed on them, but many didn’t receive the credit due to them. We have come a long way. I use the word we because I am sure that “I” have not come as far as I should have come.

Thanks to the Gregoire – Obama stimulus package, I do not have to worry about the overhead lights and the gas for my car at this time. However, there will be an end to that benefit and the day will soon be here when I will need to look at how and why I restrict myself. I need to appreciate that walking into a hardware store is something I probably wouldn’t have done in the 1920’s, but, thanks to women who rose above society’s expectations, I have the privilege to do it now and not to be embarrassed. There are many other opportunities that I should take advantage of. In an era when men explored the world and women stayed home and kept the home fires burning, one of the women naturalists I read about bought a huge Dodge truck, sixteen gears, loaded her lady friend and gear up and headed for Baja to do research. SHOCKING BEHAVIOUR by all accounts!!

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