Finch Face

YOU thought I said “Fish face.” Fish faces came up at the wedding.

When my son is a baby, he goes with my husband for a well child check. I am in residency and can’t get away. The doctor asks, “Can he play patty cake?”

“No,” says my husband, “but he can make a fish face.” My husband has a long narrow face. He pulls both ears out and purses his lips. He wiggles his ears.

My son promptly makes a fish face.

“Good enough,” says the doctor.

My son has a small godson. They have mostly said hi on zoom. My son has taught his godson to make a fish face. When they visit in person, he makes the fish face and his godson’s face lights up. Oh, this is THAT person and they are REAL, not just on a screen!

The godson is the ring bearer at the wedding last Sunday. I tell him I am his godfather’s mother and make a fish face. Then I call my ex over. He makes a fish face and the godson is delighted. All of these talented people at the wedding! Who know about fish faces!

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: faces. Very Happy Mother’s Day to everyone, who is a mother, has a mother, is a grandmother, has a grandmother. I could go on.

Upstage

I am reading Kim Addonizio’s Ordinary Genius, A Guide for the Poet Within, for a class. In the chapter about cliches, she suggests choosing a cliche and playing with it. The first example on her list is “A sudden fear gripped me”, so she inspired this:

Upstage

A sudden fear gripped me by my nipples
I hear my mother: Colder than a witch’s titty
Why must the witch’s titties be cold?
Must they dance naked even in the bitter winter?
Can a witch retire at a certain age
Sit warm, clothed, with her cat and tea
By a fire with enough fuel for winter?
You’d think they’d get pneumonia dancing naked
In any weather; yet witches are usually old.
Maybe it acts like jumping in to cold water
To dance around a Beltane fire; maybe witchery
is hot work and they aren’t cold at all.
Maybe a witch’s titty is warm all the time
And meanwhile the fear is gone, upstaged by titties.

L is for landscape

I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway.

L for Landscape. This watercolor is of Coolfont, West Virginia, a view from the deck of my grandmother’s house.

My grandparents lived in Trumensburg, New York. My grandfather, F. Temple Burling, died when I was 13. He was 79. My grandmother lived in the enormous house for a while, but eventually sold it. She moved to West Virgina, a couple of hours from my parents. Later she bought a second house two doors down. Her sister and sister’s husband, Estie and Russ Parr, moved in and they all lived on the same block as my parents until their deaths.

I love this landscape, both because it is so gorgeous and because of the memories of all of the family.

ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE #APRILATOZ

For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.

K-k-k-Katy

I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway.

This is a multigenerational post. I am Katy, Katherine after my maternal grandmother. The drawing is of that grandmother, done by my mother H. Ottaway in 1978. My mother mailed me the sketch diary for Christmas. My grandmother was Katy B, for Katherine Burling, and I was Katy O, for Katherine Ottaway. I have inherited a spoon that has Gertrude, Margaret and Kathryn engraved on the bowl. A different spelling, so I don’t know which Kathryn that was.

So K is for Katy. My father used to sing K-k-k-Katy to me when I was very little. It is from 1917!

ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE

For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.

small cruse

The Ragtag Daily Prompt is cruse, which I had to look up. I thought, I don’t have any earthenware. Then I thought, yes I do, but can I find it? I did.

My sister and my maternal cousins and I had elaborate doll houses with china dolls. I think the adults were trying to stave off Barbie. We collected whatever we could find for the doll house, for 8 inch dolls that were the “kids”. The adult doll was 12 inches.

The three earthenware pieces in the back are from the late 1960s or early 1970s. I am guessing SE US or Mexican. The three in front are Native American and from after 2000, at least, we got them after 2000. Possibly at a garage or thrift sale.

I think my grandmother made that dress, because of the button detail down the front and the short sleeves. I did do lots of sewing, small quilts, dresses, mattresses for the beds we made.

Here are the live cats, wondering what I am doing.

AtoZ Theme Reveal

My theme for the April AtoZ blog challenge this year is art. I think it will mostly be my mother’s art. She died in 2000 of ovarian cancer. My only sibling died in 2012 of breast cancer and my father in 2013 of emphysema. And I have the art: my parents were both packrats and trying to deal with the house and an out of date will took about three years. Moving stuff around, getting rid of stuff. The art initially went in to a storage unit and then into my house. My mother Helen Burling Ottaway was prolific! And she kept every single piece of art and her diaries back to high school! I found a suitcase with my grandfather’s poetry as well: that will be for another day.

This painting is of my sister. My mother started oils later in her career and Michael Platt, a DC artist, said something like, “Quit doing tiny things. Do something big.” My mother started doing life size and larger than life portraits in chalk pastel and in oils. This painting captures my sister when she was twenty: emotions. I like it but I also think that it is frightening.

Christine Robbins Ottaway age 20, by Helen Burling Ottaway, oil, 1984

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Mitochondrial envy

Just think if Dr. Freud were alive today.

He’d be studying mitochondrial envy.

After all, the sperm have no mitochondria. Only the egg has mitochondria, so the mitochondria are matrilineal, from the mother only. And it is from mother to daughter to daughter that they are handed down.

I have a photograph of my mother’s mother’s mother. Mary Robbins White. She is looking straight at the camera, no smile, serious. Her thoughts are contained, her eyes give nothing away. I have photographs of my mother’s mother, my mother, me and my daughter, all with the same expression. On guard.

The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells as well. They may have been a separate cell that moved in and made a deal with a larger cell: you take care of me and I will power you. An exchange. A bargain. A treaty. Sounds like a sensible female move to me.

My son has my mitochondria. His children, if he has them, will have his wife’s mitochondria. I think he has chosen well. I like her very much. I hope to see grandchildren.

Perhaps mitochondria are the magic that early hominoids worship when they make the earth figurine, the stone figure with generous breasts and belly and hips. The nurturer, the fecund mother, the destroying hungry mother who swallows her children and will not let them go.

I am reading Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By, 1972. I wonder what he would say about the matrilineal mitochondria, the second set of genetic material in each cell, the part that comes from the mother only. I think he would be fascinated and he would be writing another book.

saved

when your parents die
you will find what they saved

you will find things in the house
that you do not know why they saved

you may find linens carefully folded
and papers from the past

the linens embroidered by ancestors
but you cannot ask which ones

photographs of people you don’t know
and which are not labeled

a reference to a ring that your great aunt had
but she has been dead since 1986

when you go to your parents’ house
ask them what they have saved

ask them why it has been saved

ask them now
because when they are gone
it is too late

to ask about what they saved

________________________

There are also families estranged, where they have cut ties or emigrated or escaped abuse, and have reason not to save anything or speak about it.

We want freedom but we want love too. For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: freedom.

small child

You work at healing
For years

You dive in the swamp
Of your psyche
Turn over the mud
Tunnel through it
Breath it
See lilies arise
From the muck

The Beloved is a deer
Dainty hooves
In the swamp

At last you come
To bedrock

So you rest
Bedrock
You think

Until you notice
A chink in the rock
You look away
You avoid it

At last you look
It isn’t going away

The Beloved is a bittern
In the reeds

Fluid leaks
From the chink

Foul black bilious
Acidic
Burning holes in the slanted rock
Again you look away
But not for long

You step forward
Touch the rock

I am present you say
Who is there?

The stream of foul black
Increases
Pours from a widening crack

Beloved is a tiger
Paw against the rock

You see the acid burning
Her paw
But she does not run
She stands guard

Who are you?
You whisper

The rock crumbles

There is a child

Go away” says the child
Ancient

No you say
Beloved and I
Stay present

The black is swirling around you
It’s hard to keep your footing
Beloved, an orca
Steadies you, swimming

No one stays says the child

We stay present you say

I was born I loved I was abandoned When I was afraid

We are present now you say
Swimming by the Beloved
Hand on black fin

I was abandoned When I grieved

We are here now you say

I was abandoned In my despair

We are here you say

You say
You fought
Out of love
You argued
Out of love
You gave
Out of love
Please child
Let us cradle you

The child is silent

The tide is slowing
The rock has crumbled away
A trickle of clear water bubbles

You will stay? says the child

We stay you say

Beloved is a whale
Singing in space
Singing to the stars

Am I lovable? says the child

You and Beloved
Earth and sky
Wind and trees
Moon and stars
Answer yes

Am I loved?

Yes
Yes

8/27/2007

Baby doctor

I pick up a Steffi-baby doctor while I am in Michigan.

For whom, you say?

For ME. I collect mother/baby images and statues. I have photographs, statues and toys, of mothers and babies and of pregnant women. Some family ones too. I am a Family Practice doctor, after all.

The Steffi is in with a bunch of Barbies. I am glad to see Barbie Princesses that are ethnically diverse. Next I hope the Disney will decide that adult women who are not virgins are human too, but judging by the way the second Frozen was received, I am not holding my breath. The only good Disney Queen is a dead one. The ones who survive, well, sex apparently turns them evil. It is pretty consistent in the Disney animated movies.

So, Steffi. I was thinking of Skipper, Barbie’s friend, but I realize that Steffi is not Skipper. Note that the baby has a facial rash. This apparently resolves if a cool washcloth is used on the baby’s face. I wish all babies were that easy to treat.

I look up Steffi on the internet and she is German. The packaging confirms this, with an instruction sheet in German and multiple other languages. I like Steffi a lot better than the Disney Princesses. She has tools: a stethoscope and a bottle and an otoscope and a thermometer and a rather mysterious looking caliper set. She has a green version of the white coat and a dress with hearts to reassure the babies. And LOOK! Steffi is wearing a MASK!

I love it. Up with Steffi, who can do things. I am not totally against princesses, I am just against the whole princesses are waiting for some prince to arrive and then their life will… well, they will die in childbirth if they remain nice and they will turn evil if they live. It seems like a poor choice of careers, honestly. My favorite princess is the Dealing with Dragons series, because that princess decides not to follow the usual princess path. The first thing she does is follow a frog’s advice and runs away. And the dragons are wonderful too.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: worry. I worry about the message of the Disney Princesses.