This was the last first day of preschool for our family. What a sweet time this has been. We loved the school Alma attended for three years, and where Harriet has been the last two years. Unfortunately, things changed and we felt the need to move Harriet to a new school for her last year.
Luckily we found a really sweet place just down the road from both our house and Alma’s elementary school. While it makes me really sad that they won’t be in the same place, it’s comforting to me that they’re just a block or two apart. Also, Alma didn’t have school today (they broke the kindergarten classes into two groups for the firsts and Alma only had to go yesterday), so it was extra special that she got to come to drop-off with us.
Alma has been talking all morning about how she misses Harriet. She even suggested that we just go pick her up two hours early. It makes me so excited for next year when they’ll have lunch and recess together at the elementary school.
Harriet was so excited to be at her new school. She got right to work tracing her name (that’s how they check in in the morning. I love that idea!), then exploring all the things she could play with.
I’m so proud of how flexible she is these days. I could have expected her to have a problem with the new school, new teachers, new friends, but she just rolled with it like the strong, brave girl she is. I’m so excited to see what this year of school will bring to our lovely little Harriet.
Remember when Alma was born? Or her first day of preschool? Yesterday, right? Well, here’s our little baby all ready for kindergarten.
How did this happen? I mean, I totally get it. She’s 5 1/2. She’s becoming such a big kid. She is generous and kind. She’s excited to learn how to read and how to do math. She loves making new friends more than anything. She’s totally ready for kindergarten.
Harriet, on the other hand, isn’t quite ready for Alma to be in kindergarten. She’s already asked when Alma’s coming home – twenty times or so. They have a special bond, for sure. I’m so excited for next year, when Harriet is in elementary school with Alma.
This morning we all walked Alma down to her bus stop. We had to wait for a while, but Alma never seemed nervous or worried. She did complain about her backpack being uncomfortable. Guess we should break it in a little bit.
Alma hopped right on the bus without a look back (until her bus driver told her to turn around for a photo). She is such a courageous, smart, friendly, and fun girl.
Harriet and I ended up driving to the school to meet her. I wanted to make sure it all made sense to her, and she asked if we could meet her there. Boy am I glad we did. We went to the cafeteria to get breakfast, and it was a madhouse. We ran into our friend, Kenton, who’s a 1st grader, but new to the school, and who looked a bit lost. We all headed to the (long) breakfast line and got some food. The cafeteria was loud and crowded, but some of Alma’s fun 5th grade friends came to make sure she was doing okay.
I got Alma connected with her teacher, and on her way to music class, then we headed out.
Now I’m just counting the hours and minutes until her bus drops her off. I’m just glad it’s an early release day so she’ll be home an hour earlier. I can’t wait to hear all about her day and who she played with and if they had outdoor recess and if she liked the lunch I packed her and and and everything everything everything!
Today was my first time being in the moon’s shadow. I say that because I’m now sure that it won’t be my last time.
I don’t know where to start this post. I could start by talking about the young adult novel I read years ago, where three kids witness a full solar eclipse – and how reading that book convinced me that I need to be in the path someday. Or I could start by talking about Harriet’s connection with the moon – and how realizing that this would be her birthday convinced me that we all needed to witness it. Or I could talk about how our house was in 99.6% totality and how I knew – I just knew that wouldn’t be enough. I could start with all the hype around how Oregon was going to be a madhouse and the traffic would make getting to totality impossible. I don’t know. I guess I’ll just tell the story of how we we ended up in the shadow of the moon for over a minute and a half.
A couple days before the eclipse, I mapped out how many different ways we could get from our home in Eugene, to totality in Corvallis. I figured it would be the best bet since there were so many roads in and out of Corvallis, and having gone to college there, we knew lots of the back roads that we could take. First contact was to start at 9:05am, and we left Eugene around 8. We figured we’d get as far north as we could, and just pull off into some farmer’s field if needed. I pictured traffic backing up through the small towns, and as we approached Corvallis. No such luck. We hit absolutely no traffic the whole way up. None.
As we drove up the highway, and entered the zone of totality, a great weight lifted. I was there. I knew I was in the path. The further north we drove, the better it would be, but if we stopped where we were, we’d at least get a few seconds of shadow. But further north we went. We saw people sitting along side country roads with telescopes set up, waiting. The more people we saw, the more the anticipation grew.
We parked by the football stadium, and walked to a field next to the dorm where we met. The moment we set out our blanket, a cheer broke out. First contact. We put on our glasses, and sure enough, a little bite had been taken out of the sun. Harriet was enthralled. She sat silently gazing. She would have watched the whole eclipse if we had let her, but I wanted her to rest her eyes. Even with the glasses on, I knew it was important to give our eyes a rest.
For the next hour or so, we checked the sun, chatted with other viewers, looked through pin-hole viewers, noticed that Jesse’s hat was a very effective pin-hole viewer, sending hundreds of little eclipsed suns all over his arms and face.
At 9:45 it got cold. The Californian next to me commented how how the cool breeze felt good. It took me a moment to realize it was more than just the breeze. The air had shifted. The light had shifted. It looked like twilight, but different. The shadows were crisper. The light was silver instead of gold. Our shadows were short instead of long. It was very strange and very awesome. The earth was changing and we could all sense it.
At 10:11, we all put our glasses on and I told the girls that we should just keep watching until totality. Cheers were going up all around as the sliver of the moon got smaller and smaller. The energy of the crowd made me so happy that we were experiencing it with hundreds of other people. It was a human experience and we all witnessed the world change for a moment, together.
The sun got smaller and smaller then it was gone. I heard Jesse say, “Look at it! Look at it!” and I took my glasses off. I can’t describe what I saw. What I saw was magic and huge and small and unreal and more perfect and real than anything I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I wanted to laugh, scream, cry, dance, and never stop seeing it. I wanted to see it everyday for the rest of my life. I wanted to burn the image into my mind and never forget it. I tore my eyes from the glowing moon to look around at the earth. It was dark and strange. I laughed out loud at the fact that it was as dark as night. Streetlights flicked on. Venus shone down at us. Everything glowed with a silver sheen.
It was the longest, and the shortest, minute and forty seconds of my life. I looked back to the moon, and saw that it was brightening. As I put my glasses back on, I saw a flash of the diamond ring effect. The crescent of the sun grew bigger and bigger.
As we packed up our things and left the field, I knew I was surrounded by hundreds of people who were changed, like I was. Harriet asked if we could do it again tomorrow. If only, my little luna girl, if only. I know that it was worth the risk of traffic. It was worth so much more than that. I know now that I would brave hours of travel and traffic to be in the moon’s shadow again After we ate lunch, I put my glasses back on and saw a sun that was back to normal. I knew that the moon was out there, somewhere, invisible to my eyes, but I knew it was there. That moon, that powerful, graceful moon, when I see it again in our sky it will never look the same. It will be the normal shape, normal size, it will wax and wane like it has forever, but to me, it will be forever changed.
How do you choose a favorite out of all the favorites? I mean, there are the oils that help elevate my mood, the oils that I turn to for support throughout the month, the oils that support my skin, my hair, my family. But there’s one oil that can do pretty much all those things, so I’d say it’s my favorite and it’s Frankincense.
I love how scents can totally take you back to a memory. When I first smelled Frankincense, it instantly reminded me of growing up at my church and smelling the incense on the Sundays when they would use the thurible (I just learned that this is the word for the incense burner that’s swung around on the chain) during the processional.
It also reminded me of all the old churches and cathedrals in Europe, where the centuries of burned incense have built up on the walls and pews and floors, connecting each pilgrim and visitor with its history. Every time I smell Frankincense, I remember Notre Dame in Paris, St. Paul’s in London, Aya Sofya in Istanbul, Santa Croce in Florence and I’m right back in those places, feeling the immense feelings of humanity and history and faith.
Frankincense can be used to help me feel grounded and peaceful. I use it every morning and I have been trying to say an affirmation as I smell it and apply it. The affirmation changes, as I’m trying to find the right one that fits. Here’s one that I found in the Book of Common Prayer that is meant for Evening Prayer, but works any time of day, really – “Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense, lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” I love that visual – that our prayers and intentions are lifted like the smoke rising from the thurible.
Frankincense is also amazing for other reasons. First of all, it is so great for supporting the skin, especially aging and dry skin. It has been used in medication for thousands of years – in fact it was mentioned in the oldest known medical records, the Ebers Papyrus from ancient Egypt. It also supports our body’s natural response to inflammation and is an incredible support to our immune systems. Just google it to find out more than I can say here. It’s amazing.
So, Frankincense supports my skin, my body, and my mind. What’s not to love?
This idea was born for a few reasons. The first one being that I want to get back to that place where I was always creating and always taking the time to sit down and write and always using my time with intention and focus. The second one being that I’m excited to do some more collaborative projects and I love working with Megan (we did a Christmas giveaway a couple years ago). The third reason is that Megan has been talking about her next music video for over a year, and I’m going to use this project to force her to release it.
So, for the month of August, I will be posting a new blog, and Megan will be posting a new vlog, every weekday. We have some fun things planned including our daughters’ birthdays, crafty projects, the moon totally blocking the sun, road trips, and so much more!
I’m excited to get back into the creative groove and start making things again. Aren’t y’all just so excited about this!?! Anyone? Hello….?
Today you’re five. Today is one of those thresholds. You are entering a whole new stage of life. Five is a big year. Five is kindergarten, loose teeth, reading, school buses, bikes with pedals, new friends, long days away from home, writing. Five is big.
Yesterday you were four and you were still a small little child. Today you are five and you look like a whole new girl to me. I have to be honest and say that my heart hurts a little bit when I look at you. You are a well-spoken, creative, brave soul. Not much of that little baby from five years ago remains. Your legs are long and strong. Your fingers are precise and careful. Your eyes are clear and focused. Your voice is loud and determined. You are five.
You are growing up quickly and it makes me miss my baby. But, Alma, I wouldn’t change it for anything. Those baby days are gone, but I’m so happy about five. I’m so excited to see all those things happen this year, but you will always be my baby.
My wishes for you this year:
You make new friends and keep the old
You are the kid in your class who welcomes everyone
You learn to read and enjoy it
You lose teeth with courage
You fall down and you get back up
You keep sitting in my lap and coming to me for comfort
When I planned out what I’d be writing during the month of November, I had a very different post planned for today. Last Friday, I wrote about how my daughters would get to live a huge chunk of their early lives with minority presidents – a black man, and a woman. I was so sure that would be the case. Everyone was, right?
Today, I feel raw. I’ve written a few things on Facebook. I’ve shared a few things on Facebook. I’m working on processing everything. I’m not sure where I’ll go with this blog, but you’re welcome to come with me.
This morning I told my girls, “Mommy and Daddy love you so much. We have some bad news. Hillary didn’t win, and she won’t be president.” I know it was a cop-out. I just couldn’t bring myself to say the words Donald Trump will be our president.
Instead, Alma had to draw the conclusion herself and said, “So Donald Trump is the president. Well, I don’t have to listen to him.”
Harriet said, “I have an idea. We can make a trap. Donald Trump is a bully.” The Trump Trap has been a big theme in our house for almost a year. Alma has come up with many plans about how to deal with the Trump Situation. None of her plans included the White House.
When Bush won his first term, it was my first time voting for the president. My friend and I wandered around campus in a daze. We didn’t know what to do, but we figured the best idea would be to move to Italy and do yoga on a rooftop. Since that wasn’t possible, we just walked.
Last night I just listened to Hamilton and wanted to quote it all on Facebook.
“Raise a glass to freedom, something they can never take away, no matter what they tell you…”
“To the Union, to the revolution, to the hope that you provide!…”
“I remember that night I just might regret that night for the rest of my days…”
“History has its eyes on you…”
“The world turned upside down…”
“What comes next, you’ve been freed. Do you know how hard it is to lead? You’re on your own, awesome, wow. Do you have a clue what happens now? Oceans rise. Empires fall. It’s much harder when it’s all your call…”
“I’ll make the world safe and sound for you. We’ll bleed and fight for you. We’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you. And you’ll blow us all away, someday, someday. Yeah, you’ll blow us all away, someday, someday…”
“‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ we fought for these ideals; we should settle for less…”
“There are moments that the words don’t reach, there is suffering too terrible to name. You hold your child as tight as you can, and try to push away the unimaginable. The moments when you’re in so deep it feels easier to just swim down…”
“I hear wailing in the streets…”
“I stop wasting time on tears, I live another fifty years, it’s not enough… and when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?”
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I mean, we have to move on, right? We have to take this horrible moment and find the good in it, right?
We have to organize and fight and stand up and teach our children that our country matters. That the racists and misogynists don’t speak for us. That we are better. That our story is worthy of being told.
I am a woman and I just voted. I voted for a woman to become the President of the United States. One hundred years ago, that would have been laughable. Not only would a woman never be on a ballot, but women couldn’t even cast ballots. There is something so important about all this. It is imperative that we look at this and acknowledge the enormity of the situation.
I’ve always known the history of Oswald West and women’s suffrage in Oregon. I’ve always known that he was able to grant the vote to women during his term as governor. I’ve always known about Abigail Scott Duniway, and known that she was a suffragette. But I haven’t always known the full story of women’s suffrage in Oregon, and I wonder how much you, my curious reader, know. I did some research and I want to share it with you.
When Oregon’s constitution was written in 1857, it included this statement, “every white, male citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one and upwards, who shall have resided in the State during the six months immediately preceding such election…. shall be entitled to vote at all elections authorized by law.” One man, David Logan, moved to omit the word ‘male’ before ‘citizen,’ but his request wasn’t even discussed. When the 14th and 15th amendments were passed in the federal constitution, the Oregon constitution was amended to include all males as electors, but not women.
Women still didn’t count, despite efforts by equal suffrage supporters to claim voting rights for women, along with the newly emancipated black men.
In 1872, four Oregonian women took a stand and went to the polls to vote. They gave their votes to the judge, who put them under the ballot box – not in it. Their votes weren’t counted, but their act of voting was an important one, nonetheless.
The next year, 1873, Abigail Scott Duniway , one of those four brave women, founded the Oregon State Equalization Society, and my great-grandfather, Oswald West was born.
Abigail Scott Duniway wrote and published a newspaper, New Northwest, which was a widely circulated pro-suffrage publication. She also led the way for suffrage supporters in Oregon and followed the “still hunt” strategy for gaining support for suffrage. Instead of throwing parades and huge protests, Duniway and her supporters tried to influence the men in power in a more personal, quiet way. They would write letters, hand out pamphlets, and wait until the end of the campaign to make public displays for their cause.
As the family story goes, ten years later, in 1883, young Oswald West was able to hear Abigail Scott Duniway speak on women’s suffrage near his home in Salem. He remembered her looking right at him and asking, “Don’t you feel like your mother is as good, if not better, than the ordinary saloon bums in Salem?” Os, being a staunch prohibitionist from an early age, whole-heartedly answered that – yes, he did feel that way. From that moment on, his political opinions were ignited and he worked to help women win the battle for the vote.
Oregon has the distinction of having put this matter to the voters more than any other state. Oregon male voters voted on suffrage in 1884, 1900, 1908, 1910, and finally passed the amendment on November 5th, 1912 with 52% of the votes – 67,625 votes in favor, and 57,104 votes against.
On November 30th, 1912, when Oswald West was Oregon’s governor, he asked Abigail Scott Duniway to write and sign the Women’s Suffrage Proclamation. (photo of this can be see here) She drafted the proclamation and Os West, along with Ben W. Olcott, as Secretary of State, signed it.
This is a history I’ve always known. I have always been proud of this family history. I’ve always been proud to carry on the legacy of the great men who were there when Abigail Scott Duniway made her lifelong dream a reality. I’m so proud of this history that I gave my daughters middle names that honor and remember West and Olcott for the foresight and respect they showed to Oregon’s women.
Today, we get to cast a ballot that Abigail Scott Duniway, along with Os West and Ben Olcott, would be so incredibly happy to know exists. We get to vote for a woman to hold the highest office in our nation. Not only that, but we get to vote for a woman who deserves that office more than anyone before her.
One hundred and four year ago, tomorrow, Oregon’s men decided that women were worthy of the incredible right to vote. Next Tuesday, we all get to decide who will be our next president and it very well could be a woman.
It was a fight to achieve equal suffrage. It has been a fight to give women the rights that men have taken for granted for centuries. It has been a fight to get women in any office. It has been a fight to get Hillary to November (a long, hard fight that just proves her strength and resilience). It will be a fight to get her elected. When she’s elected the fight won’t stop. It is clear that we still live in a nation wrapped up in sexism. Hillary has crashed through the glass ceiling, but there are still shards of sexism laying everywhere.
As a child, I remember looking at the poster of all our presidents that was in my first grade classroom. It didn’t even occur to me that it was strange that all the presidents were white men. It was just the reality that I knew. I so much love that that isn’t the reality that my daughters were born into. They were both born while we’ve had a black president, and, hopefully, the next one will be a woman. The world is changing.
Also, I came across this lovely coincidence: There was a suffragette who was very active during the 1912 campaign who was named Harriet, but called Hattie, just like my Harriet. She was a brave African American woman “in a state that had codified black exclusion laws in its constitution. Redmond’s work for voting rights helped lay the groundwork for the Black Civil Rights movement of the mid-twentieth century.” I can’t think of a better woman with whom Harriet should share a name. Read more about Harriet Redmond here.