On Hurricane Island

Ellen Meeropol dreamt up a horror. She took a charged anniversary, September 11th, a remote island in Maine, and an assortment of characters whose agendas are at odds (at the most polite best), but she doesn’t go for “at best” in her second novel, On Hurricane Island, just published this week by Red Hen Press. The place where politics and people meet intrigues Meeropol. The place where secrets find daylight also intrigues her—and her...

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One Word

The stirrings of January and it’s apparently the year of the non-resolution, by which I mean people seem to be in exploration of the notion that we are enough as we are or less and more are ways to beat up on ourselves (read more about this on Abigail Rose Clarke’s fantastic Wild Yes newsletter). The notion is acceptance, I guess. I’m mulling that. I’m mulling one word (idea via my writer friend Powell Berger)...

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Ending a Year

Contemplative in front of the Parthenon in Nashville or just wondering why Nashville built one. Although I’ve begun to think—fleetingly, in momentary snatches of ideas akin to sketches not the whole picture—about New Year’s Resolutions, something I admit to taking seriously, I haven’t really taken the time to have a big think on it. Instead, the snatches come as they come (I am struggling to see tiny...

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One Day After the Winter Solstice

The rush to the shortest day has ended, although there’s still a day and a half of school left, and rushing, rushing before the daze ahead. We’ve got about 30 on Thursday here. We’ve got all that stepping out of time, which comes with a vacation-slash-holiday break everyone seems to have at least in part. We have rain in the forecast. Everything says to hurry up and wait. So, we will do that. I’ve spent a lot...

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Inaugural Post

This is that most awkward of blog entries: the inaugural post, in which (channeling Pooh) the author tries to introduce herself and give the reader some idea what the story is. Or perhaps, what my story is. Well, here it is. I wanted to start a blog about these things: parenting, politics, planet, and pop culture (and whatever else). No title came to mind that really embodied all those "p" words. But sometimes, when...

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Earning Spring (or Enduring Winter)

It's fair to say that before moving to New England, where I have lived–other than a year and a half sojourn to London–since 1981, when I started Hampshire College, I didn't appreciate spring. Okay, I was barely eighteen. I could argue that there was a lot I didn't appreciate as much as I do now. But, spring. I grew up in Philadelphia. Although everything is warmer now than it was then, it was–even...

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Mommy Wars: Breastfeeding Battle

If you're a follower of modern day parenting and media coverage about modern day parenting, you realize that in the so-called "mommy wars," breastfeeding is not unlike a country with ongoing, supposedly insoluable conflicts (think, Middle East for magnitude of intractibility). Is breast really best? Is breast milk the same as breastfeeding? Is breastfeeding in public offensive? One of the latest articles–followed...

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Talking about Unfathomable Wrongs

Day by day practically, we seem to be learning about the unconscionable wrongdoings the previous administration deemed "necessary." I put the word in quotes, because it is so unbelievable to think–despite so much evidence reported, even then, to those in power–anyone could choose to torture when for so many reasons, including the safety of our citizens throughout the most tumultuous places in the world, that it...

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Snapshots from the Mothers' Movement

One of the real pleasures I've had as a freelance writer has been working with Judith Stadtman Tucker, who founded Mothers Movement Online. The MMO sought to be a clearinghouse for information about the social, political, and economic status of mothers, in order to support/encourage/fuel the movement. In a nutshell, as Statman Tucker wrote for the Women's Media site, mothers in our country are not doing well. Underpaid,...

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I'll Be Twist(ing)

I don't go out much at night (mainly because my younger kids are six and nearly fifteen months). Tonight, though, I'll be at the Northampton Center for the Arts for the Twist Fair, where sixty crafty vendors will be sharing their wares (some wears, I'm told). I'm excited to go to Twist. For one thing, I have some friends exhibiting. For another, I am sure to run into many more folks I like. And did I mention I'll...

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Remy's Art to Remy Friends

My son, Remy, who is six, drew the flowers flanking my blog's title, Standing in the Shadows. He is very excited to be "famous" for his art. What does he think he'll be when he grows up? Answer: an artist. A famous artist. More famous than Grandpa. Now, given that his grandfather was Leonard Baskin, he's going to need plenty of skill and plenty of luck. Sounding like proud mama bear, he's kind of got...

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Pride in and for My Town

The first Saturday in May in Northampton, Massachusetts is Pride. We don't even necessarily say something longer like the Pride March. It's Pride. Pride's certainly what I felt today, in the middle of a big crowd (estimates by the organizers were 10,000 people) marching for a kind of justice often not mentioned, that being equality and dignity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Sexuality and gender...

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Access/Condoms

Sometimes, people talk about the days before abortion, when condoms were unavailable for purchase by women (read, unmarried women). Many forms of contraceptives that were once unavailable are now, at least in theory, available. If you've been through adolescence and early adulthood, you may have bought something "private," anything from tampons to condoms to a pregnancy test; making such a purchase may have been somewhat...

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How To…

On wintry mornings, I like to walk through my kids’ elementary school building in order to get from the kindergarten—where I drop Remy and his lunch—to the main entrance at the opposite end of the building before heading back for the cold walk home. I enjoy seeing the children’s art and other projects posted to bulletin boards along hallway walls. One morning, I stopped to read a first grader’s...

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Bristol Palin's PRO-Abstinence (After the Fact)

There are many cynical takes on Bristol Palin's stepping onto the morning chat show circuit as teen ambassador for Candie's Foundation, an organization funded by the company that markets sexy shoes to teens focused upon teen pregnancy prevention through abstinence. Personally, my most cynical response? It's hard to find work when you're eighteen, on your own, not through high school, and have a four-month old baby....

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Mother's Day II

Just over a year ago, we adopted a baby. Already parents to three children, our family grew in a new way: we became an adoptive family. As Mother’s Day approaches, the holiday raises new questions, ones that didn’t apply before Saskia arrived. This is not a holiday I have ever observed (beyond sending a card to my mother, stepmother and mother-in-law, but mostly because I love cards/mail). I dislike the marketing aspect of...

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Musings: Bike Week and the Non-Car Lifestyle

I am not moving anytime at all soon (if ever?). However, if i were to move, I'd be intrigued by a community like Vauban, Germany, an experimental, planned district outside of Freiberg near the German and Swiss borders where cars do not come into daily life. The community was completed in 2006. Save for two garages at the ends of the development, "Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden" for its...

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Reality Television: Nice Work? (If You Can Get It)

The latest round of headlines as the Gosselins ramp up toward the fifth season premiere of their reality show, Jon & Kate Plus 8, take the work/life balance into pretty depressingly set-the-bar-low territory. In case you've never heard of them (lucky you?!), Jon and Kate Gosselin were already parents to twin girls when the next pregnancy produced sextuplets. Thus, eight. The twins are eight, the sextuplets nearly five. Rumors...

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Boys, Bullies, and Parental Fear

There’s a particular type of fear that parenting invites, which grafts past onto future, as in, I don’t want what happened to me to happen to my kid. You hope your child won’t be picked last in gym class for dodge-ball teams. Insert your own bad memory/fear here. For one friend about to become a father, that fear looms as boyhood (they do not know the gender of their imminent arrival, and he’s hoping for a...

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What's Divorce and Adoption Got to Do with it?

For advocates and supporters of legalizing same-sex marriages, New England has been providing some stunning, satisfying victories in recent weeks. Lots been written about why New England is blazing the trail. If you live here, it's not all that surprising, somehow, because there does seem to be a somewhat stoic brand of tolerance inherent to the region, that live-and-let-live coexistence, which allows tofu eaters and hunters be...

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Are Americans Really Anti-Abortion?

This headline posed a question that caught my attention: Is the Electorate Tilting "Pro-Life?" No surprise that this piece on the American Prospect blog critiques the headlines, which are potentially misleading. Pew came out with news of a tilt toward more conservative views in a recent survey about both guns and abortion. So did Gallup, with what Dana Goldstein, author of the American Prospect blog piece, called a...

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Does Having Daughters Make Parents More Liberal?

What an interesting article Andrew Gelman wrote about on fivethirtyeight.com, asserting–with numbers (disputable? maybe)–backing this up: parents with daughters are more liberal than parents with sons. In the article cited, researcher Ebonya Washington studies congressional votes: "She provides persuasive evidence that congressmen with female children tend to vote liberally on reproductive rights issues such as teen...

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Thoughts about Pottery

Yesterday evening, I strolled (by myself, itself a rare treat in the dinner/bedtime zone) downtown to see the Mark Shapiro, Maya Machlin, Michael McCarthy, Daniel Garretston; The Apprentice System: Stonepool Pottery show at the Artisan Gallery. I'd been speaking to a couple of the potters featured in the show–Mark Shapiro and Michael McCarthy–over the phone for a story I'm working on for Preview Massachusetts (the...

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Farmers' Markets & Local Bounty

Many times this year as I've observed–carefully, gratefully–the emergence of color from the small spears and buds and new grass through the parade of flowers marching past thus far, I've thought about how the gift given by New England's spring begins with two things, one tangible, one more amorphous: color and promise. The days lengthen. The light changes. The views of things change dramatically. For months and...

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Penultimate School Day, 2009

Tomorrow’s the last day of my kids’ school year. The three old enough for school are finishing kindergarten, fifth and seventh grades. They’ve learned a huge range of things this year, from beginning to read to beginning Chinese to writing essays with (increasing) confidence. As the year wanes and I gear up to write thank-you notes to their teachers, I’ve been thinking about some things I learned this year....

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Bristol's Cover

This past week, newly-minted high school graduate Bristol Palin landed the cover of People Magazine, in red robes and baby Tripp. Not surprisingly, media coverage of the cover story ensued. From CNN to Huffington Post, the objective was to articulate what message should be drawn Palin's cover. If you were simply to take Bristol Palin at her word, here's the message she delivered: "If girls realized the consequences of...

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When Words Pick Up Swords: Anti-Abortion Terrorism Ensues

"Women and families are intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and ethically competent to struggle with complex health issues — including abortion — and come to decisions that are appropriate for themselves." — George R. Tiller, M.D., DABFP, Medical Director, Women's Health Care Services, P.A. In the immediate aftermath of the horrific news that Dr. George Tiller was slayed–in the foyer to his...

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Reclaiming Abortion Rights' Language

Dr. Susan Hill, President of the National Women's Health Foundation, and friend of the recently slain Dr. George Tiller, has spent a great deal of her week giving interviews. She makes clear, this from an interview on Salon, that Dr. Tiller helped women other doctors refused to help: "We always sent the really tragic cases to Tiller." Those included women diagnosed with cancer who needed abortions to qualify for...

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Another Question: When is Life Sustainable?

In my early twenties, I worked as an abortion counselor. This was in the mid-1980’s before abortion providers’ lives were on the line and groups like Operation Rescue targeted clinics ruthlessly. Even then, late abortions were rare. During the two years I worked at the clinic, I can recollect only one woman needing a really late abortion. I thought about her after learning of Dr. George Tiller’s death this week,...

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Abortion Access & Zero Tolerance for Violence

Because this perspective is filtering in slowly, I wanted to call attention to some smart thinking about Dr. Tiller's murder. Amy Goodman wrote a piece in Huffington Post about Dr. Tiller's murder having been preventable. In her article, she asks, what if the laws already in place had been better upheld? After murders of abortion providers in 1993, the 1994 federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) made it a...

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On Food, Financial Aid, and Family

With economic turmoil on the minds of Main Street, Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, your street and mine, conversations about money are substantively different than before the economy hit the skids. Collectively, we seem to be grappling with all kinds of things, from sheer coping and problem solving to more esoteric questions about what's enough and what matters most. For those who aren't afraid of losing the roof over their...

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Bottles and the Bad Parent Patrol

I'm going to write one of those posts based on the theory that the blogosphere is a small place (if you live in a big city and run into people you know regularly, you know what I mean). Over at Babble, Katie Allison Granju wrote yesterday about something I've been grappling with as well: the "older" baby with a bottle (her daughter calls it a boppy, somewhat as my eldest son called breastfeeding nana, which by the...

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Words

Yesterday afternoon, in the space of maybe five minutes, I was served with two reminders both of how loaded words can be and how difficult it is to navigate our lives without letting our assumptions—and our experiences—unintentionally collide in hurtful ways. Upstairs, I was working—an hour when babysitter was “on”—and in wrapping up, I checked Facebook. I read a friend’s update about having...

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How Voices Are Best Heard

The "Twitter revolution" in Iran–huge protests over the election results, that would have been supressed if not for the way technology can now carry events repressed by those in power out into the larger world–has been amazing to witness this week. The outcome isn't yet clear (and the two choices of leader may not be perceived as all that different in many ways). Still, there is no question that people's...

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Not Too… The Conundrum of the “Just Right” Book

The read-aloud is a great parental prize. There's little more delightful than snuggling up and reading a glorious picture book or diving into a chapter book with an eager young person. Yes, there are a few unavoidable pitfalls to the read-aloud gig: chiefly, repetition, parental exhaustion, and occasional boredom. Repetition for the under-five set involves a kind of metaphysical question in the form of how many times can a person...

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