Summer at Farmers’ Markets

MaddyTree Books

Summer means lots of opportunities to participate in craft fairs, farmers’markets and pop-ups. An attender could go to three or four shows every weekend in my part of the world.

Farmers’ Markets have been good to me. Usually, a Market will host one or two artist/craftspersons per Market. I’ve done well in that context so far.

Here are a few pictures from my last event at Swarthmore Farmers’ Market. On Saturday we will be back there again, and I hope the weather is as picture-perfect.


Saturday, July 28
9:30 to 1:30
Swarthmore, PA

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This Woman Is Free

I am a woman.

I am not unequal or unfree if I lose the right to kill my unborn children. I do not need the right to kill in order to be equal to men.

If I did need that right:

wouldn’t it mean that I am intrinsically not equal?

wouldn’t it mean I must become exactly like a man to be equal to men?

What if I value not being a killer of my own children over becoming equal to a man?

Shouldn’t I value that more?

I am a woman who has never killed my child. I am a woman who will never choose to kill my children. Yet I am equal to a man. God created women as equal to men; it is modern feminists who try to persuade us that we are lesser to men so that we will buy into their power struggle.

You  may have heard that women are seen as lesser in the Bible but I challenge you to find that. In Scripture, men and women are different and complementary but equally free and equally valuable.

Without availing myself of the right to kill my offspring, I am, and have always been, as valuable and as free as any man.

If I were to perceive of myself as victim, or oppressed, or inhibited, or not free, because my right to kill the unborn may be infringed, I would live in a prison of my own making.

I do not need the right to kill my children in order to be equal or free. I am already equal and free.


Abortion in the Mirror

The case against abortion rightly focuses on the harm to the unborn. But what does the abortion culture do to us?

It desensitizes us. I hardly need illustrate this point. A comedienne recently downright celebrated abortion via patriotic parody on Netflix. Basically nice people put on vagina hats, put vagina hats on their minor female kids, march them along to protest in the streets, join the tribe, then go back to work and school and friendly society sure of their moral superiority while nurturing a constant state of rage against their family and friends who believe that life is a right belonging to all human beings.

It dehumanizes us. We keep our human status, but we lose the context for what it is to be human. We lose the criteria for deciding what being human is. We lose that because we trash it. We must, if we decide to create castes in which some humans are human and some are not. If personhood must be relative, then we will end by re-evaluating all persons, according to what scale I try not to imagine.

When we throw in with abortion culture and accept it as necessary, we turn ourselves into rank elitists.

Elitists because we have decided that we have the right to declare who is human and who is not, who is a person and who is not, who is “viable” and who is not. Viability is an arbitrary and ever-shifting goalpost if there ever was one. And if the doctor was incorrect about viability, he will often impose non-viability without prejudice. We decide who lives or dies.

Abortion culture makes us children.

When we grow up, we learn that things we didn’t plan for often happen. Sometimes we should have forseen the consequences of our actions, and sometimes unforseen things present themselves regardless of our actions. Whichever the case, we must meet life’s challenges, take responsibility, and make the best outcome we can, though perhaps no possible outcome is what we would have chosen. Life isn’t perfect.

The abortion culture has taught us that if we face a challenge that we find too great, or even too inconvenient, there is a panacea  which will take our circumstances right back to where they were before that interruption. No consequences are tolerated and if there are consequences we must be victims of an oppressor. Blame must be assigned. We have learned to expect life to clear itself up so we can get back to our comfort. It’s a childish perspective. The abortion culture infantalizes women and men.

Abortion culture relativizes killing. Is this killing? Some say no. Is this kind of killing justified? How can I make this killing OK? It’s a bad place to find ourselves.

A culture which endorses abortion is destroying itself. Proverbs 8:36 declares that there are many who love death: Those who hate me love death. That culture has put death on the menu. It has made death one essential option. And once we approve of death as a tool, an instrument of expedience, a means to an end, we cannot put it away. We give death a kind of life and it may have its way with us.


Cecile RichardsVerified account @CecileRichards Jan 26

Through generations of struggle and change, we’ve been driven by one simple, radical notion: No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body.

Here’s the explicit claim that women are not free in the first world where abortion has been totally legal for 45 years.

Women in America are the most privileged persons in human history. We have more power, more opportunity to choose, and more freedom than any person before our time, anywhere in the world. At the present, we have more prerogative than men.

As to power, women as family-creators have always had the power to form and influence the future of their cultures to an astonishing degree. It is modern feminism which has convinced women to limit or dismiss that power and that influence. Who influences the future more: the parent of eight children or the parent of 1.2?  It’s hard to pass on a vision or a heritage when you’ve de-prioritized the raising of your progeny, or if you’ve had none and bypassed on the opportunity completely.

At work, we dominate in the fields which women self-select as their chosen professions, and evidence that we are suppressed in male-dominated fields is disappearing. Vastly more college students are women. There are more female doctors than male. More and more women are CEOs, vice presidents and other business leaders. The glass ceiling is largely an urban myth unless you believe that women should be spared the struggle of achieving that for which  men have always had to sacrifice and compete.

The mommy wars attest to the fact that women have a great deal of prerogative over their lives. Economic necessity, personal fulfillment and societal shift have created a reality in which women comprise about half of the work force. Still, the conversation over whether we pursue careers or stay at home full time to raise children remains a debate.

Where are the daddy wars? This is not a debate most men have the prerogative to have with themselves.

 And now, victimhood and freedom.

I do not know how any human being could be more privileged or more powerful than a first-world modern woman. We have bestowed upon every woman of childbearing age an unquestionable right to end the lives of her own unborn children totally without consequence.

We have won power, freedom and prerogative over the lives of the most innocent and defenseless of human beings. We have convinced our culture that we deserve the right to kill those whom our culture ought to expect us most fervently to defend. We have been given the power of life by God; we have chosen to struggle for the power of death.

We have created a context which says that a mother and her unborn child must struggle for supremacy. Then we prefer the most dire of the two outcomes: if mother wins, the child must die; if child wins, mother is condemned to inconvenience and the necessity to focus outside of herself. Ms. Richards calls that slavery:

No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body. – Cecile Richards

Feminism says a woman’s freedom depends on her right to deny life to another person. Without that right, she has no power, no choice, no freedom.

The implication is that a man does not need to kill to be free, but that a woman does. Sounds to me like it’s modern feminism denying women equality.

Grief is Real but Memories Are Too

Sometimes time crawls. I am frozen.

The empty space is just a matter of fact. Everything else goes on. The landscape changes. Her house, my house, which I see out my front window, becomes less recognizable by the day. I can never go back in.

Distracting images float into my thoughts regardless of what I am doing or thinking. The last time I saw her, realizing just how very much I will miss her crooked fingers.

How can someone with such a huge presence be gone?

In my mind, I often find myself in that room where we found her nearly every day. We are watching M*A*S*H or looking vainly for a good movie. I am watering her plants and my husband is shooing away one of the wandering residents. Or we are wheeling her out of the dayroom to the gazebo, an escape she loved for as long as possible, to watch the sky over the trees past the other resident buildings.

Or she is still at home. We are sitting with our feet up on either end of her couch recliner, watching episode after episode of Law and Order, or old movies on TCM. Later I’m in her kitchen baking this week’s cookies.

Or I am sitting by her bed on that long Friday. On Saturday my siblings are arriving gradually, one by one, faces distorted briefly as they come in. I’m staring at the picture over her bed in which she stands between my two brothers looking fully twenty years younger than she was.

Mostly I find myself just hovering there in the room with the afternoon light slanting in then dimming toward evening. My husband and I are just with her.

How can such a huge presence be gone?

Here is a conversation from one of those afternoons under the gazebo. My mother, with dementia but articulate as could be, had been indulging in a confrontation with some of the staff. Now, calm:

Mom: What are those buildings? It looks like a school.

My husband: No, it’s just some of the other buildings here.

Mom: …Maybe they’re teaching manners to the elderly.

My husband: They assume they already have them.

Mom: … …Obviously we don’t.

She never lost her true self. I have stories.

Now, no matter what happens, or what I do, I just cannot feel right. I imagined that grief was a little ball of black twine inside of me. I’m getting along OK, I don’t feel any way in particular, I’m just getting through each day. I will feel normal in awhile. Just wait.  I am frozen.

Then it occurred to me that my image was wrong. The ball of grief is not a little thing inside me. I am in it. My world is inside of grief.

I can only wait until it wants to go. The grieving person does not control the grief process. No matter how prepared you were for your loss, grief takes its own course. You are at its mercy.

It’s helpful for others to know this. Rather than trying (however sympathetically) to tell someone how to get through (or get over) their grief, we should walk with them through it. No matter how long it takes, or how unexpected the path. Just be kind and present. There’s really nothing else you can do. Or maybe the best thing you can do is to leave them alone with it and let them work through it.

I wish I had written down more of her memories. Let me tell you a little about my mom from my memory.

She was creative. Before she became too impaired to sew anymore, she had been sewing for about seventy five years. She could make almost anything. She never followed a pattern without creating her own alterations. My friend and I were looking at tote bags today at Hallmark and I remembered the huge, wildly printed, sometimes waterproof-lined totes my mom made. With handles that would never fall off. She loved color and loud prints. She was always stylish in her one of a kind handmade dresses. She made her hats, she made our Easter dresses and spring coats every year, she made my sister’s formal prom dresses (several), she made the wedding dresses for all three of us Mercer girls. She loved to make my children clothes: flannel lined denim baggy jeans with huge pockets and elastic waists, delightfully patterned little girl dresses, baby clothes, doll clothes, roomy fleece sweaters with reindeer and snowflakes.

How many of her carefully sewn gifts do I still have? Not that many. How did I let them go? This feels like infinite regret now.

She also loved cooking and was creative there too. There was a health-conscious era where all baked goods had what we called bark and gravel. There was always cake and the smell of cinnamon buns or cookies in the oven signaled the holidays. I have carried on her baking traditions, so at least that isn’t lost.

At the center of my mother’s personality was a diamond hard gem called Self-Determination. Maybe it was really called Opposition or You Can’t Make Me. She died with advanced dementia but that nucleus at the center of her being was untouched.

To the end she knew two things. She knew her children and their children, and she knew nobody was ever going to make her do anything she didn’t want to.

She gave up going to bed when her dementia was advancing. No amount of persuasion would  get her out of the recliner and into bed. So there she sat 24/7, dozing sometimes, awake sometimes, regardless of night or day. I once marched over to her house at 2am to convince her to get into bed. By 3:30 I retreated home, angry, exasperated and unsuccessful. The more I persuaded, no matter how I persuaded, the more her heels dug deeper.

She never gave up the idea of going home once she was in the nursing facility. This got her kicked out of the first place because she, with her wheelchair and strength of a kitten, was actively trying to escape. The second place had the locked-down unit where they’re supposed to be prepared for wanderers and escapists. They had to invent new safeguards and change procedures after she arrived. She pulled the fire alarms. They had to hide the elevator button.  She was going to bed when she wanted.

In her last conversation, aware that she had had a stroke, confined to bed, she was still asking if I thought she’d be going home soon. She. Was going. Home.

This is one of my favorite Mom stories from my childhood. She would not mind my telling it. My mother was well educated, articulate and intelligent. But few things in the neighborhood made my mom madder than people letting their dogs “go” on our property. If she caught some dog walker allowing their dog to do its business in our yard, or even our sidewalk, they would get an earful.  One day she saw a neighbor lady from around the corner doing this and my mom had had it. When the lady tried to justify herself my mother asked her: “How would you like it if I sent my kids over to go in your yard?”

Neighbor lady went off shocked. Little did the woman know that my brother loved this and would have been glad to do it.

I could fill a book with things to tell you about my Mom and maybe someday I will. She deserves it.

We’re Doomed

I’ve been on twitter today, commenting a lot, which is unusual. I have got myself in a “conversation”, if we can call a conversation a back-and-forth where you cannot see the comment before the last one and you don’t know what you’re responding to sometimes. Twitter isn’t designed for conversations but for gotchas.

Lila Rose tweeted about the poor baby that a celebrity male couple have adopted through surrogacy, and commented that she felt sympathy for the loss this child has already experienced. At one point I added,”Adopting a child who has lost parents is a noble act. Creating a child to be separated from its parents is the opposite of noble. Both types of children have suffered tragic losses but we should not inflict them.”

Oh my goodness. Among the usual suspects of replies one should expect in response to  such playbook issues, I also received replies which asserted the following:

The child is part of the mother’s body and she can do what she wants with it

After the child is born, she can still do what she wants with her property

A woman can donate her baby just as she can donate an organ

The baby is dependent on the mother’s body so yes it it her body

Until we have Brave New a World babies which are not dependent on the woman, women can do whatever the f they want with their babies

A baby is part of her body yes it is all science says so

I argued that neither children nor fetuses are possessions, nor slaves, but to no avail. I’m scared.