Saturday, November 22, 2008


Lemon fusilli with shrimp
Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

Winter and Spring 2016

Myra set up the kitten box beside her desk, under the printer table, once they were back home. She was continually distracted by them, and except for nursing, Mother Courage increasingly left them to Myra's care.

The little black and white kitten had a smooth white forehead once the fur around her absent eyes grew back. Myra got used to her appearance. She tended to keep this kitten in her lap, sleeping in a hammock made of her shirt, or playing with her on the desk.

The first time Beebo came to visit, he was screamed at downstairs by Mother Courage and fled headlong up the stairs to Myra's study, only to discover it was kitten territory. He sniffed at them with wide eyes, looking nervously over his shoulder for Mother Courage. The little black one, the wildest of the bunch, bunched up her body and growled at him, but the rest invited him to play. He didn't like sharing Myra's desk area. Still, his basic nature was easy-going and he had his cubby, which was high enough that, for now, no kitten could reach it. He focused on staying clear of Mother Courage and otherwise made his patrols as usual.

They put a second foodbowl on the sideboard, where once Alice and then Dinah had had their bowls. Mother Courage took to hanging out in the dining room, and for all intents and purposes went into cat retirement. If her bowl ever reached empty, she came to Ginny or Myra and cried constantly until a handful of kibble was put back in the bowl. Even if she didn't need to eat at that moment, the bowl had to have food in it.

"I know how she feels" said Myra. "No problemo, Mother, it's an easy thing to offer."

Mimi and David were fixated on the kittens. They had to be watched carefully to keep them from squeezing the little bodies too hard. Mimi begged to give the kittens names, but Ginny, hard-assed, said "No. I want that power."

So one afternoon, when the kittens were five weeks old and starting to lunge at the walls of their box, itching for freedom, Myra and Ginny sat down on the study floor and selected identities.

The blind kitten was cradled in Myra's hands. She said “I've been thinking about naming her after Helen Keller" said Myra. “Would that be too PI?"

Ginny looked at her and said "I'm not giving a pet my mother's name."

"Well, not the Helen part, but how about Keller? She was a lesbian, you know."

Ginny grinned. "Keller is fine. Look, this orange one has fur the color of Jimmy Olson's hair, in the old Superman comics. And he's a boy. How about Olson for him?"

"Wonderful. I'm so glad you told Mimi, because inevitably these would have wound up something like Spotty and Ginger."

"Not to mention Blacky, Pinky and Grey-y" Ginny said, lifting the rest out of the box.

"Pinky reminds me of that Tracy and Hepburn movie, what was it, Adam's Rib? Where they had the same nickname for each other, Pinky, but with two spellings?" said Myra.

"I loved that" said Ginny. "This one is a boy, so shall we call him Spencer?"

"Such serious names for such little critters" said Myra, laughing.

"Yes, but they are going to live maybe 20 years with us, an intact family, and they'll grow into these names."

Myra was silent for a minute, thinking about that 20 year span. These may be the last cats I ever have.

"This sleek black one, the little spitfire, she looks like a panther" said Myra. "Makes me think of the Would-Be-Goods in Edith Nesbit's novels, the sister named Anthea they all called Panther."

"Anthea? That's a nice aloof name for her. I'd go for that" said Ginny.

"That leaves only your grey boy" said Myra. He had shown an early preference for Ginny, finding her in the studio whenever he was loosed from his cardboard cell. Ginny picked him up and set him on her shoulders, where he balanced himself a little shakily but looked about with bright interest.

"I know this is awful, but whenever I see a grey cat, I think about that line from Benjamin Franklin, I think it is, about how all cats are grey in the dark. Old school misogyny" said Ginny. She craned her face around to look the kitten in its eye. "Would you like to be called Franklin, little guy?"

He looked back at her and gave a small mew. "Okey-doke, he says yes" laughed Ginny.

"Cool." said Myra. "We have done the holy act of naming. How's about we let 'em run around the study on their own for a while?"

"Be careful with your rolling chair" said Ginny. "The baby gate across the top of the stairs isn't enough to stop these explorers, I'll rig something up with foamboard for the time being." She set down the kittens in her lap but stood with Franklin still on her shoulder. Using one hand to help him stay balanced, she walked into her studio.

A couple of weeks later, the kittens were a menace to ambulation and items on shelves everywhere. All except Keller, who explored only Myra's study and established her main domain on top of Myra's big rolltop desk. Keller would go downstairs twice a day, chirruping on each step, to eat and use the litter box. Otherwise, she hovered near Myra. She occupied Beebo's cubby when he wasn't there. When he did arrive, she'd cede it to him by taking Myra's lap.

Franklin likewise continued his claim on Ginny. He played with his siblings but came to Ginny for naps or to yowl at her until she placed him on her shoulder. He was able to lie down around her neck and loved to watch her paint. Every now and then, she'd hold the end of her brush up and let him pat at it.

Anthea was more solitary than the rest. She was the first to stop nursing, and prowled around the tops of cabinets and shelves. When the cat door to the outside was finally installed, after they were six months old, Anthea claimed the yard and after that only came inside at night or dinnertime.

At first Ginny locked Anthea in the house when Dink and Usagi came for a bunny garden visit. Eventually, however, she carefully introduced them to one another. Anthea was not the cooperative sort, and she seemed to stalk in the yard almost continuously, but she shied away from molesting the rabbits – perhaps because there were a pair of them, Ginny speculated.

Anthea did haunt the pond, cleverly finding an angle where she could look down into the depth via a shaft of light but be hidden herself in shadow. One of the severum had grown much larger than the rest. Ginny called it the Leviathan and swore it leaped from the surface after hummingbirds when they flew over. Anthea appeared to have her ambitions set on somehow angling this behemoth. Myra remarked it was just as likely the lev was using itself as bait to snatch Anthea from the edge.

Olson and Spencer, once they were neutered, became bachelor brothers who preferred to sleep their days away in the living room. Mother Courage kept her stake in the dining room and kitchen, and in this way, feline territory was evenly distributed throughout the house, as cats prefer. None were allowed to sleep with Myra and Ginny, which especially bothered Keller. In the mornings she would greet Myra beside the bedroom door, much more chatty than the rest, and escort her down to the kitchen for breakfast.

Myra had been diligent during the autumn about submitting poetry to various national journals. She told Ginny it was a way to keep her name out there as she worked on her memoir. During the new year, acceptances began rolling in, including poems appearing in both Atlantic and The New Yorker, which rounded out Myra's ambitious list of the top ten publications she wanted to print her work. In April she received an invitation to Breadloaf the following August.

“I dunno, Gin. I need to be with other writers, yes, but I'm not sure this is it” she said.

“They want you to speak, honey. It'll be good publicity, and I'm willing to bet you'll meet at least one other writer there who you can start a fruitful relationship with” said Ginny. Mai, Myra's agent, also urged her to accept. Allie was noncommittal. Finally Myra said yes, if only because she could visit Liza while she was in Vermont.

Jane's due date was mid June. Allie said to Myra at dinner one night “This means no trip to the Gulf this summer. She'll be too pregnant to travel before, and the baby will be too young even by the end of August.”

“Damn” said Myra. “Well, maybe we could hire help to do our cooking stint during Thanksgiving week and go then? It'll still be warmer there than here.”

“Let's ask Jane and Gillam” said Ginny. “You know, this is the first Bates generation in several that's had more than two children. They're breaking new territory.”

My mother had four thought Myra. But one died right away, and the rest of us barely made it to adulthood.

Ginny's Los Angeles show went well. She got consent from Edwina and Frances to display the portraits she'd done of them, and these drew the most attention. “People most desire what they cannot have” she commented. Her agent reported there were questions coming in about her being available to do portrait sittings. She talked it over with Myra.

“The rich and famous, no doubt, wanting the coup of having an original Ginny Bates all about them” she said witheringly.

“Likely. But what if the request came from someone you genuinely admire and find interesting?” said Myra.

Ginny grinned at her. “If I say yes to a select few, that will whip up the competition even more.”

“Not something you can control” Myra grinned back.

“It will mean a stranger in our house for hours at a time. Possibly even staying in our spare room, depending on how far I can push the sitting times” said Ginny.

“Plus you working with clothes on” said Myra. “I can adjust. I mean, if they make your cut, they'll probably make mine.”

“What if it was Annie Leibowitz?” mused Ginny, excitement in her voice. “Maybe she and I could trade my painting her for her photographing me!”

Myra decided not to consider feeling jealous unless the possibility actually arose. In the meantime, she thought her memoir had now strayed into its third volume, with revelations and commentary that would blow the roof off her family if and when she ever let them read it. She hid the document behind a password, kept the print-outs in a locked drawer, and worked on.

David became able to pull himself upright and cruise furniture for a few steps, which excited him more than anything they had seen affect him. They all began helping him walk around, growing his leg muscles. As his mobility increased, his tendency to cry decreased, and his attachment to Jane lessened as well. He still preferred sign language or single words for communication, leaving chatter to Mimi, but he began waving his arms and swaying during their song sessions. Carly said “He wants to dance!” and began waltzing with him, which sent David in squeals of pleasure. After that, everyone took turns as David's dance partner.

Jane said when she told her parents about the change in David, Anton had remarked “When I was a boy, I was in constant motion. I wasn't happy if I wasn't hopping from foot to foot, running, jumping – anything to move.”

Myra hadn't thought before she responded with “Oh my god, and he of all people ended up in a chair.”

Jane raised her eyebrows and said “He's still very mobile, you know. He's refused to get a power chair because that stripped down racing chair he uses can be muscled into most places by him.”

In mid March, on a Jane-and-Gillam date night when Allie and Edwina had taken the babies, Frances and Margie walked over before dinner with fusilli and shrimp, plus a platter of hand-made sausages for Myra. As they were setting the table, Margie said “We have something to talk over with you.”

They waited until all of them were sitting and passing around the salad bowl. Margie said “The house next door, with the realtor and chiropractor offices? It's about to go on the market.”

Ginny pointed through the glass wall. “There? Sharing our fence, and adjoining the store?”

“Yep” said Margie, beaming. “It's zoned mixed commercial and residential, which means I could have a business in it. Two stories, lots of space. But it's too expensive for us to find a loan to cover it, not with our credit extended as it is.”

“Next door?” said Myra stupidly. “You want to have the house next door to us?”

“Gillam's not blindingly unique, Mom” said Margie with a touch of reproval.

Ginny, however, had moved on to finance. “What are you asking, for us to cosign or loan you the money ourselves?”

“Whichever makes more economic sense” said Margie. “Up to you. And you can of course say no.”

As if thought Myra. Allie's jokes about Ginny's compound was coming true.

“Those tenants don't own the building? Are you using that realtor over there?” asked Ginny.

“No, it's owned by a corporation, and I heard about it from our realtor. Presumably they know about the proposed sale. I don't think they'll be happy about being evicted, however” said Margie. “We'd have to give them 90 days, under the terms of their leases.”

Ginny looked at Myra. Myra said “We just paid off the loan for the renovations and Gillam's maintenance fund. Are you thinking we borrow against our pension fund again?”

Margie looked alarmed. Ginny said “Well, I don't plan to stop painting any time soon.” She rapped the table for luck. “And whenever you finish your memoir, I'll betting it'll sell well.”

“Let's try to get credit life insurance on the loan” suggested Myra.

Ginny turned to Margie and said “Can you offer the restaurant as partial collateral?”

Margie suddenly looked evasive. “Uh, no. Frances doesn't really have much in the way of credit.”

“But you do, I've seen your standing” said Ginny.

“Yes, but...The restaurant is in Frances' name” said Margie, busying herself with buttering a roll.

What?” Ginny's voice rose an octave. “I thought you took out the loan to buy it in your name.”

“I did” said Margie. “But it was a direct loan against me, not as a co-owner.”

Ginny's voice was cold. “Why on earth are you not on the deed for the restaurant?” She had Frances in her line of sight as well. Myra couldn't find her voice.

“Because really, Mom, the value of the restaurant is Frances, her cooking ability, her creativity, her vision” said Margie. “Without her there is no Carminati's.”

“There's a building, a chunk of real estate” said Ginny. “A kitchen full of top-end new appliances.”

Not to mention an original Ginny Bates in the fucking dining room thought Myra.

“Do you draw a salary for all the managing hours you put in?” Ginny pressed on Margie.

“No. Most of the time, Frances herself doesn't draw her wages, either. We live off my restoration job checks. But we get to write our rent off taxes” said Margie.

“Not any more, you won't. You'll be deriving an income from renting the apartment to someone else, and whose account will that go into?” said Ginny.

“You're acting like we're not a couple, like we're not in this together” said Margie, beginning to shift from defensiveness to belligerence.

“Have you filed for a civil union? Are you legally married? Didn't think so. Thus, your only protection financially is with other forms of contracts. Honest to god, Margie, this is simply stupid on your part. Nothing to do with your trustworthiness, Frances, or all the phenomenal labor you've put in” Ginny added, as Margie's face grew angry.

Myra said “We'll give you the loan if you put the house in your name, Margie. Even it out between the two of you.”

All three heads whipped around to look at her. Ginny tried to dim her grin. Margie was utterly shocked, and Frances looked numb.

Margie said savagely “You're as much as admitting, then, that if we were married like your precious Gillam, you'd treat us differently about this. You talk a good line but you still think marriage is more honorable -- “

“Bullshit” said Myra, cutting her off. “We're not married, in case you've forgotten. But we've worked our asses off to deal with financial equality and class crap. It hasn't been like one of us gets to divide the piece of cake and the other gets first choice, it's been blood and sweat, a lot of the time. And absolutely, as people outside the legal protections offered by a male-dominated version of commitment, you have to think differently. You have to protect yourself and each other from worse case scenarios, unpleasant as it is to think about such things.”

Frances cleared her throat. “I think that would be fair. You own our house and I own our business. It doesn't have to change our process at all, not that I can see.”

If Margie could have grown her canines and used them to rip out Frances' throat in that moment, Myra thought she would have. She wondered what on earth Margie would do next. If Chris were here, she'd be laughing like a maniac.

Margie broke a stalk of celery in half with an emphatic crack. She took a noisy bite, then said with precise enunciation “Clearly we need to talk further. Perhaps we can postpone further discussion until some personal issues are resolved.”

She got that kind of retreat from me thought Myra with a sense of pride. Ginny turned to look at Myra, as if to confirm it.

“All right” said Myra. “I appreciate your frankness.” She leaned back in her chair and yelled upward “Down here, Keller. I hear you, I'm downstairs, come join us.” In a few seconds, they heard Keller thumping down the stairs, meowing every few steps.

“Why doesn't she just follow the sound of your voice?” asked Margie, welcoming the diversion.

“Because she wants to know I'm waiting for her. Otherwise, she's venturing off into an inconceivable void” said Myra. “Call and response. Some anthropologists think it was that kind of singing, harmonizing, which led to speech itself, back as we were becoming human beings.”

Frances smiled. “Like how Mimi has begun saying at the end of every sentence 'You know wat I mean?'”

“And wherever he is, David bobs his fist up and down in 'Yes, I grok you'” said Myra.

Grok” muttered Margie under her breath. Ginny turned to Frances and said “Did you use lemon or lime juice in this sauce, I can't tell.”

“Limoncello” said Frances. “But I burned off the alcohol.”

Myra lifted Keller onto the chair beside her, ignoring Ginny's glare. They could all hear Keller's purr start up.

“If I have a yard, I could get another dog” said Margie. Myra wondered how Frances felt about that singular pronoun. She slipped Keller a bit of sausage while Ginny wasn't looking.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild



Black and white kitten
Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

Winter 2016

At Christmas, Carly and Eric spent two days with Eric's parents in Spokane, Chris and Sima visited Colville, and Lucy brought her family to stay with Jane and Gillam for the same time period. Allie and Edwina hung out with Myra and Ginny, a sort of mini-vacation with Allie at Ginny's work bench, Edwina at Myra's second computer, long days of shared meals and contented work. Each of them got to choose the music for half a day. For dinner, they carried dishes back to the house behind them or went to Carminati's, Margie joining them either way.

One morning Myra woke up to discover Ginny had made leblebbi. Allie and Edwina had not arrived yet. As she spooned herself a bowl, Ginny called down the stair well “Hey...there's a note on your desk saying you're supposed to thank me. For what?”

“I don't remember. Let me eat and maybe it'll come back to me.”

Ginny chuckled as she walked back to her easel. Myra thought Does she go through my desk on a regular basis, or what?

Before she was done eating, Edwina and Allie joined her, bringing sweet potato turnovers and a new stock of fair trade beans to store in the freezer. Allie made herself a large cuppa jane as she said to Myra “She's puking a lot more with this one.”

“Jane, you mean.”

“Yeah. And David hardly lets go of her. He's taking the weaning bad. Listen, the ones with a triangle pressed into the dough have chorizo in them.”

“Hallelujah” said Myra. “About the pork, I mean, not David. I think maybe we should simply take him away from her more often, let him get used to finding comfort other places.”

“Not without talking to Jane and Gillam about that idea first” said Ginny, joining them. She had on one of Myra's long baggy grey sweaters and blue wool socks but no pants. Her ass was covered by the tail of the sweater, however. Edwina handed her a turnover and said “There's a mention in today's paper about your show next month.”

“Anything beyond bare bones?” asked Ginny.

“Yeah, they plugged Carminati's and that place selling your hand-painted furniture. Local angle.”

Ginny said “I'm making steamed milk, anybody want some?”

“I do” said Myra.

Ginny asked Edwina “Have you heard back about that article you submitted to GEMA?”

“Not yet, but if they dawdle much longer, I'm sending it to Cambridge as well. Oh, but Allie got a check yesterday for the Cottonseed book, did you?” said Edwina.

“We haven't gone through yesterday's mail yet” said Ginny. “It's upstairs, we can look later. Maybe Friday morning we can start the education account for David?”

“I have to be done by 11:00” said Allie. She was leaning over the counter to grab hot sauce.

Myra noticed what Allie had on: Baggy jeans with a rip in one knee and her left back bottom area, with a black turtleneck under a gold and black bowling shirt. Her boxers were showing through the back of her jeans – a plaid, Ferguson tartan from the looks of it.

When Allie turned back around, she said “You looking at my ass, Josong?”

“Uh...I was just wondering how come you're dressing so different lately.” Myra refused to blush.

“I've been picking up clothes for her as they catch my eye” said Edwina with a grin. “Trying out different looks.”

“That shirt isn't even ironed” remarked Myra.

“Spray starch don't keep out baby snot, I done discovered” said Allie.

Before Myra went upstairs, she cut in half each of the mound of brussel sprouts Ginny had harvested yesterday and drizzled them with olive oil before setting them in a pan to roast. She rubbed spices and oil over a large turkey breast and inserted the meat thermometer into it that would regulate its time in the convection oven. She filled a second roasting pan with shallots and put them beside the sprouts, setting the timer on that oven as well.

Ginny had sorted the mail and Myra's share was in the center of her desk. She found the check and called to the other room “My payment's here, too.”

“And mine” said Ginny from the doorway. “Have you decided on a name for the next member of the Seed family?”

“I've narrowed it down to either Dal or Cally Basa” said Myra. She heard Allie laugh from the other room. “I'm also going to introduce a great aunt named Pomegranate.”

She noticed her legal pad lying where she'd left it, with “thank Ginny” written in a hurried scrawl next to a doodle of a pyramid. “Oh. Gin, I remembered. Come here a sec, will you?”

She took Ginny's hands and said “I want to thank you for finding us this house and encouraging me to move. I am utterly happy here. It feels as much like home as the old place did, and in some ways, heretical as it sounds, I like this house better.”

Ginny was extremely pleased. “It's funny, I have such strong memories of the old house but they don't come up when I go there – that feels like Jane and Gillam's now. And the grandkids. Our kids are ghosts that got released, I guess.”

“Your hands are cold” said Myra.

“Yeah, the only negative for this studio is how cold air gets wicked up the stairwell. I don't notice when I'm painting, but when I'm doing sketches like today, I get arthritic.”

Myra blew on Ginny's hands and rubbed them for a minute before returning to her mail.

Two weeks later, after Gillam's birthday and return to teaching, the weather was still extremely cold and drizzly. Ginny was at her easel, trying to decide if her current painting was truly finished. She turned around to stare out the window at their old house, hoping for a glimpse of one of the grandchildren -- but nobody was outdoors or near a window. A small motion in her own yard caught her attention, however. She looked down and saw the back half of a dark cat disappearing under the edge of the garden shed. She hadn't realized there was any kind of space under the shed -- it was a prefab they'd set out there. Something must have dug a hole. When the cat didn't re-emerge, Ginny started downstairs.

She began putting on boots and a poncho, calling to Myra in the kitchen "There's a cat out back, under the shed. I'm going to go check on it."

Myra poked her face around the cabinets. "Hang on, I'll go with." She, too, put on rain gear as Ginny grabbed a flashlight from the storage room.

"What kind of cat?"

"Couldn't tell. But if it's a she, I'm thinking kittens."

At the hole, Ginny had to lie down on the ground to shine the light in. She was stark naked underneath the poncho, which entertained Myra. She had to try a few angles before she finally said, in a muffled voice, "Aha! I see tapetum. And -- there's her shape, but there are tiny shapes around her. I see some white fur that isn't hers. Kittens for sure. I can't be definite, but they look really small, they seem to be mostly stationary."

"How does she look, skinny?"

"Yeah." Ginny stood up and examined her muddy palms.

"Why don't you get the umbrella from the patio table and stick it in the ground here, to make a little dry oasis. I'll go open up some tuna and bring it out" said Myra.

"I'm worried about them being warm enough too -- don't we have one of those heat lamp kind of lights in the storage room?"

"How would we get it in there?" asked Myra. "I mean, wouldn't the light be dangerous for the kittens?"

"I can plug it into the shed and set it up on the floor right above where they are, facing downward. It should radiate heat down to them that way."

"Great idea. I'll be back in a min." Myra sloshed into the house.

When she got back, Ginny had the umbrella positioned up and her garden kneeling mat underneath it. Myra put a bowl of tuna and a bowl of salmon on the mat. Ginny went into the shed and arranged the heat lamp.

"Now let's go to the far side of the yard and see if she'll let us get a good look at her" said Ginny.

They sat down on the edge of the raised bed around the tomatoes, side by side, and kept still. In a minute, they saw a face at the opening of the hole. The cat stuck out her head, looked at them for a while, then slunk out slowly, following her nose. When she found the food, she ate facing them, keeping watch but not completely terrified. She was a dark striped tabby, thin but not skeletal. When she was done, she washed herself sitting on the mat instead of retreating to cover instantly. Myra thought she must at one time have had humans in her life.

Ginny said "We're going to have to get those kittens out of there, see if they are all right. Before they get too old to be tamed."

"Yep" said Myra. "Let's go to the pet store for food and ideas."

"I have to shower" said Ginny.

"You have mud on your ass, not sure how" said Myra, as they went in.

It was Ginny who named the cat Mother Courage. After a couple of days of gorging, she began to look decidedly better and, on the third day, she came out of her hole while Myra was setting down the food. Myra moved away a few feet and sat down on the ground. Mother Courage waited a while, then, wary but not desperate, walked over and began eating. As she ate, Myra talked to her gently, assuring her of her good intentions and offering her and her kittens a permanent home. Two days after that, Mother Courage walked over to Myra and let Myra touch her back gently. A rusty purr rose out of her. "Oh, baby, you want to join our family, don't you?" gushed Myra.

That afternoon, Ginny and Myra returned to the shed carrying a box lined with old towels. Ginny had created a kitten scoop from one of Gillam's golf clubs, half a large plastic bottle lined with soft fabric, and yards of duct tape. Myra put down a big dish of wet food in front of Mother Courage while Ginny bellied up to the hole with scoop and light.

After a minute, Ginny said "This hole is not big enough. Myra, will you get me a trowel from the shed?"

Myra obliged, and Ginny dug out the hole until it was 18 inches across. Mother Courage looked agitated but was not trying to interfere. Myra kept petting her and saying "We're going to take you all inside, you get to have a cushy life in the house now. And no more pregnancies."

The first kitten Ginny retrieved was perhaps three weeks old, orange and clean enough but had a runny eye infection. The next was a solid grey, Burmese-looking, and he also had infected eyes. The third was black and white, the runt, and her eye infection was horrifying -- the entire surface of her eyes was covered in green pus. Myra was sick inside. Next came a pale orange, almost pink-colored kitten. Last, and hardest to catch, was a solid black kitten who spat at Ginny. The last two had eye infections as well, although not as bad as the black and white kitten.

"Well, Mother, it's to the vet with you and your babies" said Ginny, stand up and carrying the box low to the ground, urging the mama cat to follow her mewing kittens. Mother Courage paused at the door into the house, but the kittens' cries overcame her reluctance and she trotted in to the foyer where Ginny set the box, hopping in to check on her litter.

Myra put the bowl of food from outside next to the box. Then she got the large carrier they'd bought at the pet store, already lined with a blanket, and put the food bowl inside it. After a while, Mother Courage got out of her box to inspect the carrier and the food. She ate a bit and went back to her box. Ginny had washed up and when she returned, she began putting kittens one by one into the carrier, murmuring reassurance to Mother. When Mother pushed her way into the carrier, Ginny removed the food bowl and gently shut the door, latching it. "Time for a car trip" said Myra.

Dr. Mekonnen put Mother into a separate carrier before examining the kittens. She made a tsk sound with her teeth when she saw the black and white kitten. She took temperatures, stool samples, and then examined Mother Courage, who cooperated with laid back ears but no biting. When she was done, she said "We'll need blood work to check for FIP and feline HIV. The eye infections on four of them can be treated, but on the littlest one, her globes have been compromised. Her eyes have to come out. If you'd rather I put her down, I can do that right away. If you decide to keep her, she'll have to have a protected environment for the rest of her life."

Ginny and Myra looked at each other. Myra asked "Her eyes -- will there be just holes in her head?"

"No, I'll sew the lids shut. The fur will grow over smoothly."

Ginny said "Yes, we'll keep her. We'll keep them all." Myra nodded.

"I'll need to have them here overnight, to get labs and treat the kittens. Call me tomorrow morning and I'll give you an update" said Dr. Mekonnen.

As they drove home, Myra laughed "From zero to six cats in one fell swoop. We're now officially a lesbian stereotype."

"Crazy cat ladies" giggled Ginny. "But the grandkids are going to go wild about it."

"And the house is big enough. Let's cut a cat door into the storage room and set up an array of litter boxes in there. I mean, eventually they can return to yard access, but not right away. And not until Mother is spayed."

"What about names?" said Ginny.

"Let's get 'em home and see what they're like first" suggested Myra.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.


Friday, November 21, 2008


Street graffiti, unknown source
Back in July I wrote about Bush's attempt to redefine contraception as "abortion" and allow any health care worker in a business receiving federal funding to refuse medical services to women if they find such care "objectionable". Despite rigorous effort by Senators Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray, and public action facilitated by activists such as those on this blog, the Department of Health and Human Services under Michael Leavitt has rolled on like a tank to enact this new rule. You can read more about it at Planned Parenthood's action site, where you can speak out yourself. I'm also copying in below the press release sent out about this travesty.

It reminds me of the lowest form of home invasion, where after everything valuable is stolen and a house is trashed, on their way out the door the criminals take a dump in the corner. That's what the Bush regime is doing these final days.

Hurry, Tom Daschle. Hurry.


WASHINGTON, DC — In light of reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is preparing to enact a rule that would undermine critical health care services for women and families, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) today introduced legislation that would prevent the HHS rule from going into effect. The proposed HHS rule would require any health care entity that receives federal financing to certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable. The proposed bill would keep HHS from moving forward with this rule.

"In the final days of his administration, the President is again putting ideology first and attempting to roll back health care protections for women and families. The fact that the EEOC was never consulted in the drafting of this rule further illustrates that this is purely a political ploy. This HHS rule will threaten patients' rights, stand in the way of health care professionals, and restrict access to critical health care services for those who need them most. Senator Murray and I are standing up once again to the administration against this rule and will continue to fight for women's reproductive rights. President Bush is making a last-minute attempt to undermine women's health care, but our legislation will stop this rule and ensure that women can continue to get needed health care," said Senator Clinton.

"It's now clear that the Bush Administration is so desperate to move their political agenda forward that they are even willing to ignore the advice of their own appointed lawyers. But patient protection and access to care should never take a back seat to politics," Senator Murray said. "Senator Clinton and I are introducing this legislation to ensure that the health of patients always come first. For eight years this administration has worked to undermine women's health but they won't get away with it on their way out the door."

"This midnight regulation is another outrageous attempt by the Bush administration to deny women access to vital health care information and services," said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards. "Planned Parenthood applauds members of Congress for taking on the task of undoing the abysmal policy mandates and we stand ready to work with them to ensure women have access to the full range of reproductive health care options."

Senators Clinton and Murray have led the effort to block HHS from implementing this new rule. Following a meeting with HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt on September 23, Senators Clinton and Murray led a group of 28 Senators urging Secretary Leavitt to halt the proposed HHS rule. Senators Clinton and Murray on called for the meeting with Secretary Leavitt on August 8 after Secretary Leavitt failed to reply to several letters from the Senators and instead defended the proposed HHS policies on his personal blog.

The senators have worked in the past to stop efforts by the Bush Administration to put in place ideological barriers to women's health. They successfully led the fight to secure an administration decision on the over-the-counter sale of Plan B emergency contraception after more than three years of Administration delay.

[Cross-posted at Group News Blog.]


Thursday, November 20, 2008


1900 Census record for Louis Cohen family, Butler Co, NE (1900 U.S. Federal Census page for Butler County, Nebraska, showing family of Louis Cohen -- click on image, then enlarge in separate viewer to read lines)

Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

December 2015

When the family began gathering at Jane and Gillam's house the next Sunday for singing potluck, Myra sniffed the air and said “I smell gingerbread.”

“It's a special dessert” said Jane with dancing eyes.

“We gonna make houses!” blurted out Mimi.

“Oho, gingerbread houses?” Myra said, picking up Mimi and swinging her.

“Houses wif cookies and candy!” explained Mimi. When adults put their minds to it, they could really think of perfect fun, her expression said.

“I thought we could sing Christmas carols while decorating” continued Jane.

“Excelsior” said Margie. “How come we never made gingerbread houses when we were growing up, Mama?”

“Because she filled you with as much sugar as she could otherwise” replied Ginny.

“Which reminds me, every evening next week I'll be doing holiday cookie and cake baking” said Myra. “Mimi and David will begin the decorating for us on Monday afternoon.”

“And we're buying a tree next weekend” said Gillam, not quite defensively.

Ginny looked thoughtful. “Ornaments, hmm?”

After dinner was cleared, Gillam began carrying trays of baked gingerbread slabs to the table, while Jane emerged from the storage room with a box full of gumdrops, peppermints, and dozens of other candies. There were also tubes and tubs of colored frosting.

“Where did you find all this?” said Myra.

“We stopped by a cake decorating store” said Gillam. “I'll give you the address.”

Margie made a bid for Mimi to sit in her lap but Gillam said “Patriarchal rights” and grabbed Mimi for himself. Frances and Margie decided to collaborate on their house. Jane had put a pacifier in David's mouth but still spent all her time keeping him from consuming candy. Eventually she placed him in his high chair and gave him a square of gingerbread to demolish. “It doesn't have any sugar in it at all” she said to Ginny.

They began with “Jingle Bells”. Eric did one verse in a dead-on imitation of Barbra Streisand, saying “UpSOT?” down his nose at Carly and making him collapse in laughter. But they all went into hysterics when they realized Mimi was singing one phrase as “Good King Weinersauce”.

“I'll never hear it as anything else now” said Allie.

When the houses were assembled on their cardboard flats, Myra went into the kitchen and made a huge bowl of confectioner's frosting for them to use as snow on the lawns. Gillam let Mimi get as messy as she wanted, distracting her from sampling by asking endless questions.

“And what room does this window show in their house?” he said, as she struggled to re-stick a pretzel frame.

“The mommy and daddy's room. And this room is the Mimi room, and this room is the David room. And this room at the top is the new baby room.”

They were between songs, and this sentence floated down the table. Jane began giggling and said to Gillam “Well, that answers any question we had about whether she'd actually taken it in or not, doesn't it?”

“For real?” asked Sima.

“We were going to announce it after a doctor visit” said Gillam.

“At least you didn't proclaim it on my birthday” said Margie, but she was drowned out by cheers from the others.

“But I thought...” began Ginny.

Gillam looked at her sharply. “We told you, from the outset, how many we intended to have. We pretend at having a schedule but, well, it's all good, however they arrive.”

“When?” said Allie, her arm around Jane's shoulders.

“Mid June, maybe” Jane said.

“Marching through the zodiac” said Myra. “Mimi's a Taurus, David's a Gemini, and this one might be another Gemini or a Cancer. Hot damn!”

“Hot dam” Mimi immediately repeated.

“Yeah, about that...It's time to go back to 'language' rules” said Gillam. “And with this new evidence of early comprehension...” He raised his eyebrows and pointed his head toward Mimi. Who was watching him quizzically. After half a minute, however, she shouted “Rudolph!”

“Can you remember the beginning?” said Carly. “Here, I'll do it with you.”

He sang in his lovely tenor:
There was Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,
Cupid and Comet and Donner and Blitzen
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?

That night, Ginny came to lie on Myra's daybed with an early seed catalogue as Myra distracted herself from writing by researching Ginny's genealogy.

“I still don't understand by your great-grandmother Lena always appears on censuses as Dora” she complained.

“Because her first name -- “ began Ginny.

“I know, I know. But why did she think she had to give officials her first name instead of the name everyone called her?”

“Fear of the Czar” said Ginny succinctly. “Jews in the Pale always lied about the ages of their sons, to keep them from being conscripted.”

“Yeah, I remember that” said Myra. “Allie's found the same things with boys in her family in Louisiana and Alabama during the early 1900s – their ages and names as given to white men asking questions never match reality.”

They were silent a minute, considering being parents in that kind of terror.

“Well, it doesn't help in trying to find them on the 1900 census” continued Myra. “I mean, even in Nebraska, there are too many Cohens to wade through without a first name to go by. But they were definitely there, because Rosa was born there and they don't appear in the Galveston land records until 1905.”

Ginny got up to lean on Myra's shoulder. “Have you tried looking under Lena and Louis, then?”

“Yes. And Rosa, and her sister Sarah, who was born in Nebraska in 1901, according to her death certificate. No matches” said Myra, frustrated.

“Did you do that sound-alike thing, I can't remember what it's called, to search for names with the same basic letters?” asked Ginny.

“Soundex. And that turns up not just every Cohen, but a kajillion other near-misses” said Myra.

“Maybe Louis is spelled Lewis” suggested Ginny. “Or Rosa is Rose.”

“Tried that already.”

Ginny was concentrating. “Did you ever seen Yankee Doodle Dandy? Doesn't matter – try Cohan. Yes, the Irish spelling. Put in Louis or Dora or Lena.”

“Eight possibles” said Myra. “Hey, here's a Louis with a wife named Dora, they're in Butler County – hand me that map of Nebraska – close enough, let me pull up the record. Eureka! They've got a baby girl named Rosie!”

Ginny's shoved her head in front of the screen, all but blocking Myra's view. “But this says Dora was two years older than Louis. And that she was born in Poland, not Russia.”

“A later census gives her age as older than him, too, Ginny – move over, will you? As she got up in years, I bet she lied about her age, folks do. But the Poland thing – look, it says they've been married 7 years. That could mean they got married in this country instead of before immigrating. That would explain why I can't find her in immigration records, she's under another name. Holy shit!”

“What? What is it, Myra?”

“She says she's had only one child, but there's another member of the household who's listed as a son. A 14-year-old boy named Himie Lazerus. Misspelled, but – if she was married before, that might be the name she immigrated under!” Myra was making notes.

“It can't be her son. Rosa would have said if she'd had a brother, even a half-brother. And Lena would have been a teenager when she had him...” Ginny's voice trailed off.

“No, Gin, this fits. On the 1920 census Lena said she'd had three children, three still living, but I assumed that was census-taker error. I bet he stayed behind in Nebraska, or went somewhere else. By 1905, he'd have been 19, old enough to live on his own, maybe even be married. You have other kin out there! Lazerus kin, raised from the dead.”

The reference went over Ginny's head. She stared at Myra in amazement. “Why wouldn't Rosa have said? For that matter, Daddy grew up with Louis and Lena, why wouldn't he have known?”

“Family rift, maybe. Do you want me to find him? Well, not him, he's long dead, but if he had any descendants -- “

“Hell yes” said Ginny. She stayed leaned on Myra's shoulder as Myra tried the obvious searches and came up with nothing.

“I'll have to organize my approach better” said Myra. “I'm tired and I'm probably missing something. This is enough revelation for now, isn't it? I'll come at it fresh tomorrow.”

“A great-uncle I never knew about” mused Ginny. “Hymie. What a hoot.”

They got ready for bed together. Once in the dark, fitted together, Myra said “What're you thinking about, your mysterious uncle?”

“No. I was – Myra, I'm ashamed to admit it, but I hate it that this baby is, well, an accident. Not really, I mean, they planned to have him or her, but – of all people, I shouldn't use the term accident, I know...”

“I get it. You want children to be chosen in every respect. With your family history, it makes sense you'd have a sore spot there. Huh – wonder if Hymie was the result of teenaged indiscretion on Lena's part.”

“Or maybe not even indiscretion, who knows how much she'd been told about her body in that place and time” said Ginny.

“This baby couldn't be more wanted, Gin, you know what.”

“I do. It came up in my head, is all.”

They breathed together for a minute. “Well, as long as we're confessing” said Myra. “Promise never to tell anyone, and to not hold it against me...”

“Of course.”

“I feel – what's the word – okay, resentful, I guess, at how easy it is for Gillam.”

“You mean he and Jane can just make love and poof there's a baby?”

“No – well, that would've been nice for us, but thank god it wasn't that easy, we'd be overrun by now. No, what I mind is that he's not worried about how they'll get cared for. Not beyond the average terror any parent has. He knows there are a dozen of us here to pick up the slack. We had our aunties, and David as time went on, and I thought we had it good, plus all that money. But he's taking it to another whole dimension. I mean, he's having kids literally as fast as he can. And it does mean the rest of my productive life is going to be bound up in raising them, at least in part. No moving to Amsterdam for a year, no traveling months on end, not even a three-month writer's retreat. You and I are essential to these children's well-being.” Myra stopped, noticing how angry her voice sounded.

After a minute, Ginny said “You knew this in advance. You told him to do it, we had his back.”

“I know. I know I'm being unfair. I keep trying to rewrite the section of my memoir where I'm explaining why my mother made the choices she did, not to apologize for her but to get it clear. I'm having nightmares where I've got three kids and there's not a crumb of food in the house, which she fucking lived through, Ginny. And there's some part of me that wants him to be at least grateful that he's got it so easy.”

“He is grateful, Myra. He's simply not tortured by it. He has the information without your grief.” Ginny pulled Myra onto her shoulder and whispered “She's not sorry she had you, I can promise you that. Whatever it took.”

Myra let herself cry. She'd have to keep pruning away at this, she could tell. Children were an endless classroom. While she was wiping her face on the pillowcase a few minutes later, Ginny said “And we could manage a writing retreat, I'm sure. If that's what you want.”

“Not really. Buncha creative writing majors sitting around gassing on about voice and postmodernism. I'd rather be at our dining table hearing you teach Mimi about color blending while David urps on my shoulder and I try to set down lines.” Ginny pulled her back to her shoulder, saying “While our son sneezes on Jane and starts another baby.”


© 2008 Maggie Jochild.
1910 Census record for Louis Cohen Family, Galveston Co, TX (1910 U.S. Federal Census page for Galveston County, Texas, sh owing family of Louis Cohen)

1920 Census record for Louis Cohen, Dickinson, TX (1920 U.S. Federal Census Record for Dickinson, Galveston County, Texas, showing family of Louis Cohen.)


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Heirloom potatoes
Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

Autumn 2015

On Friday when Myra got up, Ginny said "I need to push out a few silkscreens today. I could get it all done by dinner if you'll cover for me today."

"Go for it" said Myra. "I want to dig potatoes, and make pies for tonight."

"Those blackberries?"

"Yes, and cherry. Oh, but what about challah? You want me to do it for you?"

Ginny paused. "Everything except the prayer, let me do that with you, come get me."

Myra was glad for the chance to stay busy in solitude, thinking, because she needed to find a way through the current thicket in her writing. Jane had said she and the babies were going out for the afternoon to the house of her friend who also had little ones.

She put unsalted butter in a bowl on the stove to soften as she made herself some eggs and rice cereal. After eating, she rolled out pie crusts, baked the bottoms lightly as she threw together fillings, and put the completed pies in with anticipation at what Mimi would think of cherry pie: Another first for her new palate.

She began an array of sponges. Once they were settled in oiled bowls to rise beside the oven, she poured chilled buttermilk into a bowl so it would be room temperature later when she went to make the salt cod casserole for dinner.

She put on wellies and gloves, grabbed the basket and headed for the muddy potato bed, stopping to open the gate and let Beebo join her. He kept her company only for a minute, however. He went to patrol the pond, then indoors to clean his fur. And, eventually, to help himself to buttermilk on the counter.

Before she finished, she heard footsteps behind her and looked around to see Margie.

“I'd offer to help, but I'm dressed for work” said Margie.

“S'allright, I'm enjoying getting filthy” said Myra. “Look at these purple ones, will ya?”

“Are you making something with them for dinner tonight?” asked Margie, hefting a dark round beauty in her palm.

“I'm thinking about it now” said Myra. “Spuds always go over big.”

Margie kept passing the potato from palm to palm as she sat down carefully on a dry spot of the bed barrier. “Listen...We, me and Frances...We're thinking about asking Imani to singing potluck this Sunday. She loves to sing, apparently.”

“Oh” said Myra. “Do you need me to make meaningful eye contact with you or can I go on looking at what I'm doing?”

Margie giggled. “I'd be glad to avoid your inquisitive gaze at the moment.”

“So...Am I being given the news so I pass it on to all the others, saving you the inquisition?”

Margie giggled again. “Pretty much. Plus, I wanted to say – thank you, Mama.”

Now Myra did sit back on her haunches and meet Margie's eyes. “I'm so glad to hear that. Proof I'm not always an idiot with you.”

“Here's the skinny: I've gotten a therapist, and Frances has agreed to be monogamous. I mean, so have I, but I was already there.”

“I'd do a version of the potty dance if I could spring to my feet lithely at the moment” said Myra. “Mazel tov! Was it a big ordeal to reach this point?”

“Not at much as I'd dreaded” said Margie. “I think Frances loves her mostly in other ways. And – she said even Imani didn't seem to be crushed. Which maybe she just chose to not show Frances, I don't know.”

That would definitely be something to talk over with Ginny. And Allie. Myra said “Did the therapist help you reach resolution?”

“Uh...Mostly I worked with him on other stuff” said Margie with an almost imperceptible evasion.

“Well, sounds like Sunday is going to be interesting but not in a creepy way” said Myra.

“You have my permission to still not be gaga over Imani” said Margie, with a grin.

“Duly noted” said Myra, grinning back before resuming her digging. After a minute, she decided Margie had more to impart and kept silent, waiting.

Margie circled around to it. “You know how Gillam is with Mimi? He doesn't have favorites, not overtly, but she's the one who gets more of his attention. Whereas Jane seems more gooey about David.”

“Yes, I've noticed it. Don't you ever say something like that in front of those kids, however, no matter how old they are at the moment” said Myra.

“Of course. Anyhow...Mimi doesn't seem to care. She's not worried about keeping Gillam's attention on her. Or about losing Jane's. I can't tell for sure about David yet, but he seems fine, too.”

Myra began to have a hint of where Margie might be heading. She reminded herself Listen. With grown-up children, your biggest challenge is to listen.

“So, like with your mom, you were her favorite, right? You always knew that?”

Myra let herself look at Margie's face again to answer. “She told me I was her reason for existence, yes. But I wasn't sure of it, even so. Because she chose to stay married to my father and allow him to wreck our family security. Plus...she didn't protect me and Gil. Not enough.”

“And Mom, she was always competing with Helen to have Zayde to herself, is that accurate?”

“I'd say so. She also had to compete with David for David's attention, if that makes sense to you. He was snared by his own internal demons. As is true of most adults, honestly.”

“So, you turned out to need a partner whom you'd never doubt, and that's Mom. And she needed that back from you. That's your agreement?”

Myra felt she was undergoing surgery. “There's more to it than that, but you're not wrong. When do I get to ask 'why these questions'?”

“Just trying to sort out what messages I was given about the nature of marital commitment” said Margie, with another grin.

“Therapy assignment?”

Margie laughed. “You want to help me fill in my workbook page?”

“Actually, I don't.” Myra suddenly stopped worrying and allowed herself to enjoy this moment.

“Okay, well, I need to boogie. Do let me know if there's going to be any mishigas coming our way with regard to Imani's attendance” said Margie, standing and brushing off her bottom.

“Deal. Have you told Jane and Gillam she's coming?”

“Yeah. He said I had to alert the sentinels first.” Myra joined Margie in her laughter.

“Have a good day at work.”

“I will. Oh, that's the other thing – Frances and I have decided to start looking for a house, one roomy enough to have my business in part of it. Close enough to walk to the store. See you later.” Margie didn't see Myra gaping after her.

When Myra went in with her basket of potatoes, Ginny had klezmer music blasting in her studio and a line strung to hang shirts with finished prints to dry. She punched down the dough, looked for Beebo to yell at him but couldn't find him, and sat down at a fold-down table near the aquarium to look over the wooden toys Ginny had bought from someone locally who made them. The trucks, trains, planes, farm animals, and small chairs were all unfinished. Ginny had also bought a stock of bright enamel to paint the wood, before lacquering and giving them to the kids at the holidays.

Myra decided she could do a train on her own. She spread newspaper, read the instructions on a can of red enamel, and began laying a thick coat on a caboose. It was extremely satisfying, and she finished three cars by the time she called Ginny down for the challah prayer.

“What are you doing?” said Ginny when she saw Myra's work.

“Having fun” replied Myra with a challenge in her voice. Ginny was silent for a minute, then said “Will you please save the chairs for me? I have plans.”

“I'll do only one each of the toys” agreed Myra. Ginny did the prayer, and was caught by the pile of potatoes on the counter. “Oh, they're coming out much better than last year” she said. “Soil testing paid off.”

Myra handed her a cup of tea and said “I got news. Margie stopped by.” She passed on everything Margie had said. It was the house-hunting which affected Ginny the most, as Myra thought it would.

“That complex next door has a realtor's office, I could stop by -- “ began Ginny.

“No, you can not. At most, you can remind Margie about it” said Myra.

Ginny carried her tea upstairs to finish it. Myra followed, rooting through the box of small miniatures she kept to salt her desk with treasures. Mimi was now searching her secret drawers each day as Gillam had done when he was a toddler. Sure enough, Myra found two tiny flowerpots with bright plastic tulips. She took them back to her toy painting: She was going to glue them on the back platform of the caboose, a homey touch.

Later that evening, as the extended family played poker, David gumming one of Gillam's chips while Mimi shouted “Raise, Aunt Marchi!” out of turn, Allie said to Frances “So, you gonna be okay with me trying to fix up Imani with Nika? I think they might make a good pair.”

Margie let out a whoop which Mimi tried to imitate so vigorously she bit her tongue. Carly carried Mimi into the living room to wail it out – Margie didn't want to leave the table. Frances grinned in a brittle way and said “What Imani does is up to her.”

Edwina said “In seriousness, what's her long-term plan? Career-wise, I mean, not – that other.”

“You should ask her” said Frances. “But if in the future she wants to move again and I have another restaurant elsewhere, as I hope, I'd certainly trust her to run it as head chef.”

“Well I don't goddamned believe this, you sneaky sack of shit!” burst out Myra. Everyone's face turned her to in horror. Even Mimi stopped crying to peer around Carly's shoulder at the table.

Myra began turning red and said “It's Chris, she somehow put together a fucking straight flush, look at it.” The relieved laughter was so loud, Mimi demanded to come back to the game.

That autumn was unusually wet and cold. David began signing all of a sudden one day, indicating he had been comprehending them for a while. Jane was allowing him and Mimi to watch half an hour of public television each morning, including an ASL show for children, and now he and Mimi passed new signs back and forth faster than the adults could keep up.

David went as the Little Potato for Halloween, and Mimi dressed as a princess, which Myra and Ginny bitched about for a week while at home but never in front of Gillam and Jane. Ginny got an offer for a gallery show in Hollywood just after the New Year and began preparing canvases in earnest for it.

Allie's sketches for the Cottonseed children's book showed Cotton to have silver skin, copper eyes, and pale hair with pink highlights. Ginny's portrait for the cover became three-dimension, with polished penny eyes, silver leaf on his skin, and cotton candy hair which stuck out in all directions like David's areole of flaxen hair. Mimi was at their house when Ginny brought home the cotton candy, and Myra gave her a bite of it. They had to guard the canvas after that until Ginny replaced the hair with insulation from the hardware store. The cover photograph turned out very well, and the book hit the ground with impressive advance sales.

Myra hit a point in her memoir where revelation and analysis began tormenting her sleep. She started seeing Nancy once a week on her own, taking sheafs of manuscript which Nancy never read but cleared for Myra in her sideways fashion.

Carminati's was open for Thanksgiving Day. After cooking and serving, the tired family came to fill the large leather booth in the back corner, eating Frances's Puglia Apple Torte with mascarpone and hot drinks. Frances came out to join them, leaving the last of dinner service to Imani. She sat on Margie's lap. She had chosen jackets and pants of mocha linen for her cook staff, and this color on Frances made her look like a dessert herself, Myra thought. Imani joined them when the last table was served. She had become a relaxed addition to their gatherings, due in particular to the efforts of Allie and Myra.

Jane and Gillam began taking Monday nights as a “date night” for themselves alone as a couple. Mimi and David were rotated between aunts, uncles, and grandmothers on those evenings. David began eating solid food, and his colic promptly returned for two solid weeks of diarrhea and crying spells. They rotated out items in his diet again, but never found a culprit. Eventually Ginny took him, with Jane, to see Nancy, who declared it not an allergy per se, just an emotional resistance to certain amino acids. She chanted over him, gave Jane some oil to run on his forehead, and suggested Jane stop eating onions while she was nursing him. Whether this worked or he simply moved through it on his own, Myra wasn't sure, but the belly issue passed.

The second day of Hanukkah, Carly and Eric woke up to find that Welsh had died during the night. They arrived at Myra and Ginny's front door with the rabbit wrapped in a towel, Eric bursting into tears as soon as Ginny answered the knock. She held him and gave him tea while Myra got up and dug a hole under their cherry tree, a place Welsh had loved to explore, looking for fallen fruit. After he was buried, Carly went on to work but Eric took the day off, working in the yard with Ginny, mostly silent but occasionally sitting on the meditation bench, hunched over, his face on his knees as he wept stiffly.

The next week, Eric and Carly gave each other a pair of baby lop-ears whom they named Usagi and Dink. Mimi and David were utterly enchanted but could not be trusted to hold the tiny balls of fluff without squeezing. Ginny continued her open door policy of bunny visitation, confiding to Myra that if they didn't have Beebo thinking their place was part of his territory, she'd seriously consider getting a pet rabbit of her own.

On December 19, after coming back from shopping at Pike, Gillam was putting away groceries while Jane played blocks with the children on the living room floor. She left them to their own devices for a few minutes, sitting at the breakfast bar and saying “Guillermo, mi amor...”

“Si, Juanita mi alma, quieres una empanada?”

“Not just yet. I need to tell you something.”

Gillam stopped filling the cereal canister and looked at her.

“My period is late. Very late.”

“How many days?”

“At least 11.” Jane folded her hands together on the counter.

Gillam's brown eyes were deep and somber. “You threw up yesterday. We thought it was how rich that gravy was...”

“I know, I did.”

“But it's not possible, Janie, we've used vile latex every damned time -- “

“Except that once, when it slipped off as you were pulling out” said Jane quietly.

“Oh, fuck me, that was like two seconds of exposure!” said Gillam, his voice rising.

“You got Olympic swimmers” said Jane.

“Yeah, well, your girls stand with flashlights and megaphones, cheering 'em on” said Gillam. “How do you feel about this?”

“Tired. But -- “ Jane began grinning from ear to ear. Gillam's shoulders relaxed and he rushed around the counter, pulling her from the stool into a paired version of the potty dance. Mimi pushed to her feet and came to join them, crying “What happen?”

“Mommy's going to have another baby!” Gillam shouted, swinging Mimi into his arms.

“Baby?” Mimi looked at David, who was crawling their way. Jane turned and picked him up as well.

“A new baby!” Jane said. “Really, the only downside is weaning you, my darling David. I think he's not going to take it as well as Mimi did.”

Gillam walked to the calendar on the refrigerator, saying “Any guess as to dates?”

“That weekend was my mother's birthday, I remember because these two went down for a nap unexpectedly and we decided to – well, we were late calling Mom” said Jane, giggling.

“Oh, yeah, I remember now.” Gillam tried to count weeks but ran out of calender quickly. “I'll have to do this on the computer.”

“It's some time in June, I think” said Jane.

Gillam came back to her side, wrapping all four of them in his arms. “I guess we'll sleep when they go off to college.” Jane kissed him slowly, and Mimi tried to horn in on it. Gillam pulled back and said “Why did you wait so long to tell me?”

“I kept meaning to buy a stick to pee on, but it's been hectic this week. So, I could be wrong.”

“As if” said Gillam. Mimi wriggled to get down, and he set her on the floor.

“I'm hungry” she said and signed simultaneously. He handed her a plum from the fruit bowl and turned back to Jane. “When do we tell others?”

“Tomorrow night at the potluck, I think. Except I'm calling Lucy tonight” said Jane.

“Will you get a full blood work-up next week? I'm a little worried about your body” said Gillam.

“When I get the urine test. But I'm okay, boyfriend.” David tugged at her blouse and she sighed, looking down at him. “One last time, sweetpea” she murmured.

Gillam handed her a banana as she headed for an armchair to nurse their youngest.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Here's the weekly best of what I've gleaned from I Can Has Cheezburger efforts. There are some really creative folks out there. As usual, those from little gator lead the pack.


Monday, November 17, 2008


White Night Riot poster (Flyer created and distributed by Lesbians Against Police Violence and The Stonewall Coalition in summer 1979 in the aftermath of the White Night Riots; graphic likely drawn by Emily Siegel)

I'm proud to announce that my first-person report here, The White Night Riot, 21 May 1979 and Lesbians Against Police Violence, was extensively referenced this weekend in an excellent article at OpEdNews by Rady Ananda titled Milk And The White Night Riots.



Yes We Did poster by Alvin Blair (Poster image by Alvin Blair)

I sat down to write a post on this and discovered Digby already covered it yesterday, with good detail, so I'll begin by referring you to her post Losin' It: The Secret Service is reporting a spike in death threats against President-Elect Obama which "from Maine to Idaho, it’s the most threats ever made against a President-elect."

The Statesman Journal from Salem, Oregon reports that the Secret Service has warned the Obama family about the dramatic surge in threats, and that they have begun investigating former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin because her attacks on Obama are believed by them to be responsible for the increase in threats.

According to a cited Associated Press count, "One of the most popular white supremacist Web sites (Stormfront) got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election" and had to temporarily go off line because of the increased activity.

The Statesman Journal article states "The verbal attacks by Palin on Obama had provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling 'terrorist' and 'kill him.'"

Eliminationist rhetoric, ably tracked by Dave Neiwert and our own Sara Robinson, is frequently a canary in the mineshaft when a prevailing lie (such as the bedrock of racism in American culture) is effectively contradicted. Our response must deal with the core issue, not just the most evident symptoms. In particular, we must continue on our path of progressive vision without retreating in strategy or downgrading our expectations; we must insist on naming and speaking out against hate speech in all its forms (including from our own ranks, even if it seems to come from a place of "reacting to their attacking us first"); and we must be able to differentiate between examples where constructive dialogue can lead to long-term cultural change versus examples where an imminent threat means seeking legal intervention.

For more reading, check out the Appendix on Eliminationism in America compiled by Dave Neiwert at Orcinus. This appendix supplements Orcinus's 2007 series on eliminationism, and is arranged "by categories of eliminationism, namely: Expressing a desire or a demand for extermination, removal, or infliction of harm; identification of opponents with national enemies; identification of opponents as a target for retaliation or incarceration; expressing a desire for or approval of genocide or murder; identification with vermin or disease."

{Cross-posted at Group News Blog.)


Sunday, November 16, 2008


Daucus carota, wild carrot
Here's another installment of my Great American Lesbian Novel (in progress), Ginny Bates. If you are new to reading GB, go to the section in the right-hand column labeled Ginny Bates to read background and find out how to catch up.

August-September 2015

After a long silence, Ginny said to Myra “I'm not sure if I should go after her.”

“If you're not sure, then don't” said Myra. She turned to Allie and said “You surprised me there. It's not that I disagree with you, I just feel like you're way ahead of me.”

“Happens” said Allie with a tired smile. “That particular game of chicken gone on long enough.”

“Care to say more?” nudged Myra.

Allie glanced at Edwina and said “Not right now. We gonna have lots of chances to deal with it. Thing is, we got the next set of travelers lined up on this family runway.”

Myra had a sudden visual of Mimi and David as chubby little planes, arms out like wings, sputtering above them. She giggled. In the next instant, she remembered Ginny's painting of Edwina as an old-fashioned aviator, and she turned to look at Ginny, considering.

Allie interrupted Myra's brain wave to ask “Do you know if Carly and Eric're planning to have kids?”

“I actually asked Carly about it in the kitchen this week” said Myra, startled. “I told him I wasn't trying to push, but if they needed help to launch a family, I'd be glad to offer. I think he'll make one hell of a daddy.”

“What did he say?” asked Ginny.

“He thinks yeah, at some point. First they want to get their PT/OT clinic off the ground, and be living some place other than where they are. And they'll have to adopt. As he put it, having a three-way parenting set-up with a woman who's the birth mother will add another wing to an already crammed family dynamic” said Myra.

Edwina tossed in “You know, Nika wants to give birth after she completes her Ph.D. If she doesn't have a partner by then, she says she'll try to persuade her sister to live in Seattle and be extended family with her.”

“I had no idea” said Myra, her eyes wide.

They talked on, discussing Mimi's precocious verbal abilities and why David might have been so much happier at the Gulf Coast. After Allie and Edwina went home, Ginny cleaned the kitchen while Myra piled dirty clothes by the washer. She took a long hot soak in the tub, and said yes when Ginny asked to join her. It was a chance to adjust to sudden solitude and quiet.

When they went to bed, Myra could tell Ginny wasn't dropping right off. Finally her voice came in the dark “I think Allie wanted to talk with Edwina before she talked to us. Which is fine, of course, but I always wonder if it's because of race stuff.”

“The same thought occurred to me” said Myra. “I mean, when Frances and Margie moved up here, all of us sort of silently understood this meant Imani was now removed as a threat to their relationship. But we didn't say it out loud, and after a while, I didn't like how it went down.”

“Because it was like deus ex machina instead of those two reaching a decision together?” said Ginny.

“Partly. But also because – with Frances leaving Simpatico's hierarchy, and Imani having been her protege, in a sense, what the fuck was going to happen to Imani's career? I didn't say anything because, I guess, it felt disloyal to Margie. But that;s what sucks about it all, that feeling of having to choose sides. When the fact is, Imani is a smart and ambitious young black dyke and why on earth wouldn't I be on her side, too? Perhaps not directly racist, but in effect, I bet it felt that way to her.”

They thought in silence for a few minutes. Ginny said “For her to come up here unannounced...she must have been a little desperate.”

“God, Ginny. I think so, too. Allie just saw it faster than we did, and – well, I know she loves Margie as much as we do.'s a race thing. How racism keeps me from seeing stuff I should see.” Myra felt an old sadness settle in her chest, something that was almost pre-verbal.

“If you set aside the sex stupidity, Frances is doing her version of sharing the wealth” said Ginny softly.

“And the sex stupidity is not as bad as what's in my own past” acknowledged Myra.

“One or both of us should talk with them” said Ginny. “It's been wonderful to see Margie be so much happier since the move, but I want Frances to have more time with us – I mean, if she wants it – and a life outside that kitchen.”

“She's happy there, Gin. Like you at your easel” reminded Myra.

“Not completely happy or she wouldn't have picked up on Imani” said Ginny. “I can at least ask her if there's something I could do to help her feed her dreams.”

“I'll talk to them together, I think” said Myra. “What bothers me most is that ordinarily I'd be asking Imani to all our family get-togethers, especially if she's moving here now. I want enough clarity in place for me to do that without it letting down Margie.”

“Is this meddling?” wondered Ginny. Myra thought and said “It's what I'd do with friends. So if it's meddling, it's not maternal-based snoopiness, at least.”

They shifted position together. Ginny said, her voice becoming drowsy at last, “When I went into Gillam's pack at the airport for a baby wipe, I saw condoms.”

“Oh, my. They've slowed down, then.”

“I'm going to teach Mimi the Hebrew alphabet at the same time I'm teaching her English” said Ginny dreamily.

“Well, then, let's add on Greek, might as well” said Myra. Ginny didn't answer, and Myra could tell she had drifted off.

On Sunday, after lunch, Myra walked up the stairs behind Carminati's and knocked on the apartment door. Margie answered, still in her pajamas.

“Are you up?” asked Myra, hesitating.

“Yes. Late breakfast and puttering around” said Margie. She led Myra to the kitchen, where Frances was at the table with cold coffee and a newspaper.

“You want tea?” asked Margie.

“Not at the moment. I'm hoping to talk with you. Both of you” said Myra.

Frances lay down her paper and looked wary. Margie leaned back and crossed her arms over her chest.

“I'm not here to tell you how to conduct your relationship” began Myra. “We're very different, what else is new, and I absolutely don't want to alter your dynamic, it works for you. But I need to say how I'm being affected in one area.”

Margie breathed out with a hint of exasperation, nothing more.

Myra looked at Frances. “I love you, Frances. I love you for how you are, I like having you as a second daughter, I adore how you love my child, and intensely respect how committed you are to your career. I've chosen, gladly, to make family with you.” Myra could tell both of them were caught off guard, waiting for the other shoe to fall. “Part of my definition of family is accepting and learning to appreciate your other choices. Taking your friends and family in as part of my extended family. I don't know another way to do it, not any sensible way, at least.”

Myra paused for a breath. “In moving Imani up here and making her second-in command at your restaurant, which is definitely YOUR restaurant but also part of this family's territory now, you've given a clear statement that Imani is a permanent part of your life. An intimate. Which means I need to welcome her into my circle as well. At least, that's what my conscience says.”

Frances was floored. Margie, on the other hand, locked her jaw.

“I've not done so before now because, well, it seemed disloyal to Margie. And I've been stupid to not bring it up, to ask for clarity with you both about what you're doing. I've acted in a befuddled way, and the fact is, if your relationship with Imani was not sexual, Frances, I'd have gone after her as someone I'd like to know. She's obviously a woman of power and depth. As I would expect you to choose.”

Margie's eyes were wide with disbelief.

“So, if she's going to be part of your inner circle, I don't feel right excluding her from our holiday gatherings or some of our family meals. Especially since she's new to Seattle, without other friends or family here. But that means I'd have to risk subjecting the precious feelings of my daughter, which I cherish, to grave hurt. Unless I have the go-ahead from her and from you, too, Frances. I'd like for you two to give me a clear idea of what you'd like from me about Imani. I don't want to go on ignoring the elephant in the room. She's a human being who deserves respect. She's a woman of color with no culinary degree, no financial resources except what she earns, whose career in Portland was ruptured by her affair with you and then your departure. Clearly you believe she's an extraordinary chef, or potentially one, or you wouldn't trust your restaurant to her. I've spent my adult life assisting women just like her around the obstacles of sexism and racism. Why shouldn't I do that here?”

Margie's breath was audible. Her arms were still over her chest, but loosely now. She cut a glance at Frances, who Myra thought might be fighting the urge to cry.

Myra stood up. “That's my piece. If I'm way out of line, I know one or both of you will show me how. And I'm speaking for myself alone, although of course all of us in Old Dyke Nation are in conversation about this, no getting around that. You let me know when you're ready to come back at me with what you think. I'll see you tonight at dinner.”

“Wait” said Frances. She stood and went to the fridge. “Leftover tortellini in leek sauce. Not enough for the potluck, and Margie won't eat it, so I thought you and Ginny might like it for lunch tomorrow.”

“Wowza, you bet” said Myra. Impulsively, Frances grabbed her for a hug. Myra hugged her back, then bent over and kissed Margie's forehead on her way out the door.

The last week of September, Myra went away again with Chris near Colville for several days. Ginny seemed to be irritated with the plan, but would only say it was because Myra would be gone on Yom Kippur.

“I thought that was a spiritually meaningful holiday to you” Ginny said with slight heat.

“It is. That's part of the reason I'd like to spend it with Chris out in nature” said Myra.

Ginny muttered something that Myra thought was “Both of you away from the Jews in your life” but she wasn't sure. She chose to ignore Ginny's mood, since Ginny didn't want to discuss it further. She packed their food with an eye toward her and Chris's plan to fast every day until sundown.

She got home late on Saturday night. Ginny didn't respond when Myra called out her name, and she couldn't find her upstairs, either. Then she noticed once of the torches lit by the pond, and through the glass wall saw Ginny sitting on the bench with a blanket over her shoulders. As Myra came out the back door, Ginny looked up and called to her gladly.

“What're you doing out here?” said Myra, accepting Ginny's offer of half the blanket.

“I saw tracks in wet earth of one of the beds that looked like little hands. I finally decided it might be a raccoon. I thought I'd see if I can catch them coming over the wall, to repair that entrance gap” said Ginny. “Plus, I got interested in the fact that the severum are still active this long after dark.”

“The torch is confusing them, I bet” said Myra, filling her nose with Ginny's warm smell. “And the pond heater helps.”

“Let's go in” said Ginny. “Are you hungry, I made squash soup.”

“Absolutely” said Myra.

“Your lips are chapped.”

“It was much colder there. We even had a light snow this morning” said Myra.

“Edwina told me that twice when she's been at the pond with Mimi, Mimi has asked her brightly 'We fish now?' If she had her way, we'd have cleared out the severum for breakfast a long time ago” said Ginny, putting on the kettle.

Myra was laughing. “She'd adore these trips with Chris. I have some amazing salmon in the cooler. I think I won't freeze it, if I cook it for tomorrow night's singing potluck I bet it will all get eaten.”

“Myra, what's that gash on your hand? It looks infected.”

“Yeah, it's tender. I think it was from a thorn on a tree while I was hiking. I didn't wash my hands for hours after that.”

Ginny examined it gently. “You're planning a long hot soak after you eat, yes? We'll get it opened up again and I'll pour in some hydrogen peroxide. Once it's clean, antibiotic ointment will do the trick.”

Myra spread garlic butter on the rolls she'd heated and handed one to Ginny, who was having a second bowl of soup to keep Myra company. “You know, when my mother was a child, during the Depression, going to the doctor was limited only to dire emergencies. If then – one of her uncles died from an abscess. Anyhow, when she was around four or five, she fell on a piece of farm machinery and cut her knee open from side to side. They couldn't stitch it up, so her father, who was an herbalist, made a poultice of turpentine and sugar over the wound, then bound it tightly. Can you imagine?”

“Must have hurt like blazes. Turpentine, I guess that was an antiseptic. But why sugar, I wonder?” said Ginny.

“It left a massive, jagged scar. I used to trace it with my fingers when I was little, sitting at her knee as she told us stories” said Myra.

Ginny joined Myra in the tub, sitting at the other end with her legs draped over Myra's. Myra leaned back with a loud sigh and said “There was no hot water. I had to sponge myself off by the fucking pump outside the cabin.”

“Have you noticed how much little David hates being dirty? He cries the hardest when his diaper needs changing or if his hands are mussed. I never saw a baby care like that” said Ginny.

“I guess fastidiousness is something you can be born with” said Myra. Her eyes were closed.

A while later, Ginny said “Myra? When you and Chris are alone, she does talk much?”

“Not the first day, usually. I think she's talking to everything around her, silently. But once she gets acclimatized, to so speak, she talks my head off. You'd be shocked.”

“I would” agreed Ginny.

“Listen, I have something I want to tell you.” Myra didn't see Ginny's face go still. “But I don't want to share it around generally, not yet, okay?”

“All right.”

“I had another – episode. Of hearing voices.” Ginny cupped the sole of her foot around Myra's hip, and Myra opened her eyes to look at Ginny. “We were back at that creek near where Chris lived as a kid, where we all went that time? Me and Chris always go back there at least once. Anyhow, she had wandered upstream and I was sitting on those rocks near the waterfall. It was wicked cold that morning, and I'd been wearing gloves. But my hand was hurting, this cut, and I pulled off my glove to check it out. And I put out my palm as I shifted position, coming into full contact with the boulder beside me. That's when it happened.” Myra shivered once despite being submerged in steamy water.

“What did you see?” asked Ginny.

“It wasn't visual, it was auditory. Over the stream I suddenly heard several voices. Closest to me were at least three women, talking to each other. Somewhere behind me were kids playing, and beyond them were at least two men, laughing.”

“What were they saying?”

“I don't know. It wasn't English. It was – beautiful, just a lovely series of human sounds unlike anything I can quite name. I wish you could have heard it, I'd love to know your impression. This time I wasn't scared. Startled a little, but I closed my eyes, kept my hand to the rock, and listened. It lasted over five minutes, then faded out. I heard one word more than once, and I was able to memorize it. Had long, drawn out vowels and an aspirate. Later, I told it to Chris and she – well, she got weird on me. Turns out it's the Nimipu word for a kind of wild carrot.” Myra took a long breath.

“What was it?”

“Tsa-weetkh.” Ginny practiced it with Myra until she could say it correctly. Then she asked “Weird, how?”

“She got distant for a while. I mean, why should I be the one having this – either vision, or ability to slip through time barriers, whatever it is? I can only imagine how much it would mean to her, to be able to hear her own ancestors like that.”

Ginny took Myra's hand to check her cut. “Did Chris discuss it with you later?”

“Yeah. We went looking for those carrots. Didn't find any, but we did collect some tiny wild onions which we roasted with that night's fish. Unbelievably good, they were. She said...Okay, you can't repeat this, all right? She said when her father got roaring drunk, he'd load his shotgun and sit in the front yard, waiting for white people. Her mother would get down on her knees inside the door, saying the rosary and praying nobody drove past. Chris would slip out the back and sidle up to her dad, josh him out of it.” Myra stopped abruptly.

“There's more” prompted Ginny.

“He...eventually, he interpreted her overtures as – flirtation. A come-on.”

Ginny's jaw went rock-hard. “No wonder her humor has knives buried in it.”

“We all have reasons” said Myra softly.

“Turn around and I'll wash your hair. Then let's get you doctored and in our warm bed” said Ginny.

As they lay down together, Ginny said “Oh, I forgot to tell you, Welsh is at the vet's. They think it's maybe his kidneys. He's better today than he was yesterday, Eric says. I went with him to visit bunny boo-boo today.”

“Oh, no. I'll call them – well, I'll be seeing them tomorrow anyhow” said Myra, sympathy flooding her. “Welsh must hate not being home.”

Ginny rolled on her side and tucked the shelf of her ass under Myra's belly behind her. With pressure, they could get a snug fit. She said “Did you and Chris sleep together?”

“Yes, if you mean sleeping” said Myra. “Does that bother you? I swear it's not sexual in any way.”

“I believe you. But yes, it does bother me. It's – intimacy. You sharing your body with another woman, in a way. Wouldn't it bother you if I did that?”

“Depends on the woman, I guess. I mean, you share your physical self with Margie, and the grandkids. And even Cathy.”

“What if it was Bonnie? Or Kip?” asked Ginny.

“Chris is not an ex, Ginny. Or someone with the not-so-secret hots for me” said Myra.

Ginny didn't respond. Myra said “Do we need to take this to Nancy?”

“...No. It doesn't bother me that much. I'm not going to keep it secret from Sima, though.”

“Nor would I” said Myra. They lay in silence for a while, Myra watching the shadows on the wall near the Tara With Cherries painting.

“How does your hand feel?” asked Ginny.

“Better. You know, to close tears in our skin takes vitamin C. Collagen is heavy with vitamin C. But humans can't make it ourselves, we're entirely dependent on getting it from our diet” said Myra. “As are cats, by the way.”

“Really? Cats don't eat citrus, or even veggies” remarked Ginny.

“It can be found in raw meat. Which is also how Inuit who are entirely carnivorous get their ascorbic acid. Anyhow, in the advanced stages of scurvy -- “

“I wondered where this was going” said Ginny.

“Scurvy being a disease you get only from either being trapped or under the influence of morons who won't listen to the lessons of others – which in the case of British polar explorers was a double whammy – in the later stages of scurvy, our bodies have to prioritize who gets what little C is available. It'll try to save brain function, heart, lungs, so all the C that ordinarily gets used daily in replacing dead collagen cells gets stopped, and scar tissue itself melts away. Your wounds reopen as if they had never been closed.”

“Shit, Myra. Did that really happen?”

“More than once.” Myra's hand around Ginny was tracing the large veins on Ginny's forearm and wrist, the backs of her hands, and palpating the ridges of muscle underneath, down to the top knuckle of each of Ginny's finger.

“There's powerful symbolism in that, Myra. I'm surprised you've never written a poem about it.”

“I've wanted to. A little too close to home, I guess” said Myra. She pushed the tip of her nose against the fuzz at the top of Ginny's neck.

“Cold” remarked Ginny. Myra didn't answer. After a minute, Ginny said “I know how you could warm that up.”

She felt Myra grin against her neck. “Why don't you roll over?” suggested Myra.

“No, you come find me” replied Ginny.

© 2008 Maggie Jochild.