Day 16: Minnie, not the mouse, but my mother in law #SOL2021 #SOLSC

Today is my mother’s in-law birthday. She would have turned 84 but last year in late August she decided to leave this world. I don’t blame her. After her 83rd birthday and in coincidence with the pandemic, her health started to deteriorate, to the point that she couldn’t live alone anymore. From that month until she died, she was always with one member of the family or friend in her house. She dreaded the idea of going to a nursing home, and Covid was not making things easier. She valued her independency, as much as she valued her children’s privacy. She never even toyed with the idea of living with one of her offspring. She enjoyed visiting them, but live with them was not her way of living.

I met my mother in law in the summer of 1991, when I visited my, at that point, boyfriend or date friend, now husband’s ranch in Montana. I remember that one of the things that struck me from the beginning was the complicity she has with her children. Very often they all gathered together and start talking ranch talk that I barely understood. One morning, four of her sons where talking to her in a very amicable circle. They were laughing, cracking jokes, while deciding what were the top chores of the day. As she did very often, she was wearing curl rollers on her hair, covered with a nice headscarf. She looked beautiful in her casual ways, and when she was ready to get out, always looked very elegant with matching earrings and necklaces that always had a story behind if you complimented them. You would think that she was the Queen of England.

If you payed close attention to her hands, though, you knew that she didn’t have a pampered life. Ranch life is non-stop. From early on as a married young woman, Minnie fed her family and the hired men, starting her days making a full big breakfast, then a main meal at noon and finally supper, including all the clean up that goes with it. As one of her nieces wrote for the funeral “having to launch into making roasts, pies, cakes and all the trimmings of a big noon meal almost as soon as breakfast was over came as quite a shock to me.”

I didn’t witness the early ranch life of graciously raising seven children with no TV or disposable diapers, but I saw her cooking and cleaning before going to work as a nurse at the local Hospital, job that she had ever since her husband died of cancer when she was 46. I witnessed in amazement her sons entering the house with muddy boots through the back entrance, and walking carelessly on top of the clean and recently placed floor rugs. And my mother in law not even flinching. I would have yelled at them, start crying, and complain like crazy. She just patiently put the rugs again in the washer, and return them clean to the floor, as the wheel of life.

Minnie visited us everywhere we were. In Chile, Maryland, Virginia, Oregon, Spain. She was an easy keeper and quiet guest. Always admiring the novelties on her trips, and saying “very interesting” when she didn’t know exactly if she really like something or not. She was polite, generous, and a wonderful mom. I can say that because I know all her children. She raised them to be kind, positive, generous, hard workers with a great laugh and awesome sense of humor.

My husband called her religiously every week, even when we were in Spain. If he managed to loosen up Minnie’s tongue, eventually he would know all the whereabouts of all the family members. He really enjoyed those phone calls and I know my mother in law really appreciate them.

She was one of the few person who still was writing handwriting letters, and had a blind faith on the postal service. One time she sent me to Chile by mail a camera I forgot in a trip to the US. This was during the 1990s. I was amazed that the camera arrived. She always sent packages for the children for Valentine’s, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Christmas. She made the best cookies in the world and until today people are asking for her recipes.

I had the fortune of being with her for 20 days, a month before she died. Even in her worst moments and pain, she was gracious and grateful. She is always in our thoughts and hearts, and we certainly miss her. Now, our mailbox is full of junk mail or packages with books I have ordered. With Minnie gone, the handwriting letter custom has stopped.

Minnie and us during our wedding in Chile in 1993

Day 8: International Women’s Day #SOL2021 #SOLSC

My International Women’s Day hasn’t been very exciting if I compared it with my posts of 2020 and 2019. Actually, it was very dull until I listened (while processing books) to a webinar about amplifying the voices of Native Americans. The speaker, Savannah Romero, member of the Eastern Shoshone Nation, walked us through the false narratives, the invisibility and the erasure of native peoples. She is the manager of partnership and programs at an organization called IllumiNatives that has the mission of increasing the visibility of, and challenge the negative narrative about Native Nations and peoples in American society.

While doing my weeding, I was impressed about the lack of literature that portraits Native Nations and peoples in a positive and real way, and how hard is to find own voices in the mainstream. Usually the literature are either romanticized non-native visions of indigenous people, with inaccurate information, and somewhat naive or racist, or portrayals of Indigenous people as part of historical fiction but not contemporary figures and influencers. These include two Newbery Awards, The island of the blue dolphins by Scott O’Dell, that my son had to endure in 5th grade, and Julie of the wolves by Jean Craighead George, both not recommended by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo in her American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) website. Another book that she doesn’t recommend and we have several copies of is Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. I remember it was very well received when it was published in 2001. It was a 2007-2008 Oregon Battle of the Boks title.

The part that struck me the most of Romero’s presentation was that a significant percentage of Americans thinks that Native Americans are part of the past and don’t exist anymore. They don’t know about their Nations, their laws or history, and the only thing that they relate to “Indians” is mascots of football teams or costumes for Halloween.

The other thing that got my attention, was the fact that the percentage of indigenous women that are battered and sexually assaulted is higher than in any other race/ethnic group and nobody knows about it.

I always thought that invisibility was the worst punishment that somebody can give me. Ignoring my existence is saying that I don’t matter at all, my existence is not good or bad, is nothing. As Romero pointed out “invisibility, [the nothingness of the other] is the modern form of bias against Native Americans.”

I was so happy to come across this webinar and IllumiNatives. They have a Guide for Allies and a Guide for Native Peoples. I encourage you to explore their website. They provide a wealth of resources, lesson plans, reports and other wonderful information.

After all, my International Women’s Day was a day of discovery and learning.

Day 8. Women’s voices #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 8th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge. Also, today I am marching in the cyberspace to keep the good fight for women’s rights and gender equality, to get my words out, and never, ever give up.

I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”.

I am so disappointed that in the US people don’t march for International Women’s Day like the rest of the world. The month of March is women’s history month, but today is not an important day like in the rest of the planet. History is relevant if we can bring it to the present.

Same thing happen with Labor Day. It’s a day to remember here but in September, and not May 1st. It seems like here we don’t want to remember anything that’s negative (or attached to anything that is associated with a socialist past as Kristen R. Ghodsee points out in an interview with Penn Today, University of Pennsylvania). Or women’s day will be celebrated from now on the day prior Inauguration Day?

Interesting enough, both, International Women’s Day and Labor Day started due to events that happen in the US (New York 1909, and Chicago, 1886, respectively). It’s like we have to sugar coat everything. It has to have a happy ending, like a Hollywood movie. But there are things that haven’t ended yet. If we don’t make them visual we don’t see them. It’s like stories. If we don’t write them, they don’t exist.

Through my Sunday email of the Conversation Canada, I found a really interesting gender gap tracker in the media. It’s only based in Canada, but I found it very relevant today. It measures the ratio of female to male sources quoted in online news coverage across some of Canada’s most influential national news media. It was developed with the premises of helping the public and journalists to amplify women’s voices. If you check the tracker there are still overwhelmingly more male than women voices on 7 Canadian media outlets (roughly 2/3 to 1/3). The tracker’s website also provides journalists with a database of informed, qualified women willing to give their opinion on certain issues.

Last year, I was marching with my fellow Spaniards on the street of Sevilla. Today I am alone, afraid of the coronavirus, and bummed that wipes are sold out in Amazon. Not!!!

 

Day 9. A day of reflection… #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 9th:

Yesterday was one big chunk of a slice of life and I have the privileged to share it with thousands of people that went worldwide to the streets to support women. I got so much energy and excitement on the streets that I don´t know how to convey them in words. I feel that maybe pictures might transmit my feelings better. However, we produced so many photos with our phones that the saying One image is worth more than thousand words might not be true either. We have arrive to the point that we don’t have time to select the best of the crop.

Here are some of the emotions and feelings that started to appear in my body and mind before, during and after the march yesterday:

Anxious when I couldn’t find at home one of the three books I wanted to return to the library after the march. Only a librarian is kooky enough to wanting to do that at 11 pm.

Free when  I was biking down the hill and I got the air and sun on my skin.

Amazed to see so many people when I arrived at Seville.

Appalled to see on signs simulating tombstones the names of so many women who have died due to gender violence.

Humoured to have found my friend Jorge and his wife Ángeles and their friend Pilar at the march.

Sad that my husband didn’t want to come with me (I know I have to give him time).

Comforted by the energy around me.

Wondering what would happened if we didn’t have a camera on our phones.

Energized with the drummers and their drums

Optimistic to see so many young people of all walk of lives and genders embracing each other.

Smiling at the sign of Little Red Riding Hood.

Thankful to be in the middle of it.

Stunned that we still need to march.

Hungry after four hours of marching.

Prepared when I sat down in the middle of Plaza Nueva to eat two oranges and drink some tea I brought in my backpack.

Dismayed when I realized it was 11 pm. and I still needed to go to the public library to return the books.

Cracked up when I saw the sign The women strike back since in Spanish we seldom can’t mention a noun without an article.

Tempted of going home and forget about being responsible.

Determined not to get tempted.

Happy I got rid of the one day overdue books.

Sweaty biking uphill back home.

Uneasy with the quietness of the night.

Relieved of being able to listen to an audio book while biking home that distracted me of fears.

Marveled by the life of Sonia Sotomayor in her My beloved world that gave me strenght to keep pedaling.

Pleased to see the tree in Castilleja de Guzman that tells me that I am almost home.

Proud of been gifted with that day.

Combative with my husband for not have accompanied me.

Unfair for not wanting to listening.

Understanding when I hear his reasoning.

Unrepentant of all that happened.

Reconciled with my past, my present and my future.

Happy to go to bed.

 

The tree (Small)
Pleased to see the tree in Castilleja de Guzman that tells me that I am almost home

Day 8. Today is not about resisting or celebrating… #SOL19 #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individualMarch 8th:

Today is not about resisting or celebrating. It’s about achieving, and getting our words out, and never, ever give up.

Since we were little, they told us to keep our inside voices, to be “feminine”, and not to raise our voices too much. I think it´s time to change that. We can do it politely, with care but do it. Your voice counts, your voice is valuable. “Your silence gives consent.”

Today I am marching for all the women that came before me and all the ones that are going to walk after me. I want them all free, alive, treated with respect and equity.

I am marching for my mom. I wished I understood earlier that many of her flaws were a way of hiding some of my dad´s. I wish she were here today, and we could march and talk about what means to be a woman. It took me too long to accept that I was one.

I am marching for my aunts Blanca, Marisi, Tere, Anamara, Cecilia, Ángela, Chabela, Lucy, Mabel, Elenita, Beatriz, Carmen and Uchi.

I am marching for all my women cousins that are too many to mention or count. For sure I will forget one.

I am marching for mi abuelita Käty and mi abuela Matilde, and my own daughter (who has the same name as my mom´s mom) and all her women friends who are somehow also part of me.

I am marching for all my women friends around the world, especially the one that I left behind in Chile and the US, and the ones that keep me going here in Spain.

I am marching for all my nieces: Chelsea, Francisca, Jenna, Claudia, Shelby, Sofi, Morgan, Luzma, Madison, Maca, Aubri, Nena, Kathryn, Georgia and Milena.

I am marching for my sister Isa, and my sisters-in law Laura, Vivi, MaryAnn, Alejandra, Marji, Colleen, Mariana, Quinn, and Wendy.

I am marching for my mother-in-law who raised seven children (one of them very stubborn hahaha) on a ranch when things were not easy and she was widowed at 46.

I am marching for all men who still think supporting women´s rights is against their masculinity and own rights. I hope they realize that We Should All Be Feminists.

I am marching for all the men who believe in us and march along with us.

I am marching in memory of my cousin Trini,  who was a strong, faithful, loyal, funny and resilient woman.  She was my best and closest friend in high school and college. We were so close that people thought that we were twins, and we were so proud of that. We fell in love with the same things, careers, and similar boys. We both were heart and hard headed women, and enjoy to laugh about ourselves. Trini raised six amazing human beings, and inspired thousands with the Montessori school Ciudadela in Santiago, Chile that she started in 1996, when she was pregnant of her fifth child, her daughter Ángela.

I am marching for her, and her daughters Mapi, Cata and Ángela that I bet they would have loved to march with Trini today. I am marching with Trini in my heart and in my skin because I am wearing a t-shirt that belonged to her. She was running too fast that left us all behind too soon.

Whom are you marching for?

#8M #IWD2019 #bewareoffastwomen #teextrañoprimadelalma

Trini and I
Trini and I, mellizas forever

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I am marching today wearing a T-shirt that belonged to my cousin Trini. #bewareoffastwomen

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Mati and I
Because I miss my daughter today and always

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“Quien calla otorga” – “Your silence gives consent.”