Tuesday, February 12, 2019

SOLTuesday: Rainy Traveling Tuesdays

It’s my annual trek to warmer places, if only for a few weeks. This year I’m visiting Alabama, where I have a friend who teaches in Mobile, and civil rights museums and memorials to visit in Montgomery and Birmingham.
            Last Tuesday and today, it’s been rainy. Warmish, but wet, both days. Last week I was in Mobile, today I’m in Montgomery. Last week, I was feeling the culture shock of living in car culture. At home in New York, I walk many places and take the subway or bus—have never owned a car in my life. When I travel, I often rent a car, and I love to drive, but driving is just another mode of sitting. I think last week my body wasn’t used to the walk-to-the-car-drive-park-walk-to-wherever-drive-park, and it rebelled by, paradoxically, not wangint to do anything. And I couldn’t go for much of a walk in the rain.

           So last week, I drove to a barbecue place called Meat Boss, had a pulled pork sandwich with sides of baked beans and Asian slaw, then drove to a couple of malls and just walked around the stores. The Walmart was the most interesting to me, since we don’t have one in New York. It’s like a department store, but horizontal instead of vertical, and in miniature, since each department is smaller than, say, a Macy’s, but there are some departments our New York Macy’s doesn’t have, like automotive supplies, or guns. I didn’t buy anything, just walked.
            This week, in Montgomery, I’m in a hotel in downtown. Most of the sights I want to see are in walking distance, so I feel much more at home. Luckily, I was in a drugstore when the deluge came, so I was able to sit inside until the rain slowed, then found a coffee shop a few doors down. Then an art gallery next door, with a tour company next to it. By the time I’d arranged for a civil rights tour for Thursday the rain had stopped and I could go across the street to Island Delight, a Jamaican restaurant, for jerk chicken lunch. Delicious. Walked some more around the city, made a reservation for dinner tomorrow night, found where I’ll eat dinner to night (more barbecue), and back to my hotel. I haven’t quite gotten to 10,000 steps, but maybe getting out for dinner will do it.

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.


52Essays2019, #4: Dear Hannah Johnson

I’m traveling in Alabama and came across a newspaper called the Alabama Gazette. It had a front page “article” denouncing New York State’s new Reproductive Health Act, which removes abortion from the penal code and puts it into the public health code, and also permits late-term abortions to preserve a woman’s health or life. I felt compelled to respond to the author’s rant, but I can’t decide whether to actually send this to the writer. Will doing so unleash a torrent of hate e-mail at me? So I’m offering my rant to the Internet, and ask, what should I do?

Dear Hannah Johnson,

Concerning your front-page article, “Abortion vs. Life”:
            You clearly misunderstand what the New York State law that upsets you so is about. It has nothing to do with “killing” an unborn baby at term. New York State’s Reproductive Health Act maintains the 24-week limit under which women can seek abortions, but adds a provision for abortions at any time IF the baby would not survive the birth naturally. Additionally, the act permits abortions at any point if it is necessary to protect the MOTHER'S LIFE OR HEALTH. In other words, it applies only to permitting a doctor or properly trained medical professional to remove a nonviable fetus — that is, a baby that is already dead in the womb or that will die at birth from severe abnormalities — from the woman’s body to preserve her life or her health. In other words,
            I respect your beliefs and your right to hold those beliefs. But you do not seem to respect the beliefs of those who disagree with you. No one in New York State will be forced to have an abortion at any point in her pregnancy. Your article in the Alabama Gazette quotes the Christian Bible, but the laws of New York State and of the United States are not based on the Christian Bible. No doubt you think they should. HOWEVER, the United States is not a Christian theocracy. The United States Constitution states clearly, in the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....” This means you are free to practice your Christian religion, but you are NOT free to insist that the government enforce your religious beliefs on others.
            In the case of abortion, the life you care about is apparently only the life of an unborn person. What about the pregnant woman? Does she not have a life as well? What would you say about a 48-year-old woman, happily married, whose only child has just left home to attend college — and she finds herself accidentally pregnant? Would you force her to have a baby against her will? Isn’t FORCING a woman to bear a baby against her will akin to slavery? This 48-year-old woman is not hypothetical; it was me almost 30 years ago. I am not sorry I had that abortion at 11 weeks. I am relieved that I was able to have it safely and legally; I am relieved I was not forced to go through a pregnancy at such an advanced age, who knows what effect it would have had on my health. But that was MY decision to make, not yours, or anyone else's.
It’s another year for the essay a week challenge, 52EssaysNextWave. If you’d like to try it, go on over to the Facebook page for 52EssaysNextWave and sign up. Or just read some of the essays that will be linked to there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

SOLTuesday: Washing Dishes

The last couple of years of Jack’s life, he washed the dishes. When he first came home from the hospital and rehab after his fall on the ice, he couldn’t do much of anything, and he hated that.
            We had always shared household work: in our early years, our practice was that one of us would cook and the other would wash the dishes. But after many years, when it became clear that Jack usually washed dishes as he cooked, while I used lots of bowls and utensils and pots, and didn’t wash as I went along, he rebelled. We then switched the plan to whoever cooked also washed dishes. And in our later years, Jack always wanted no dishes left in the sink in the evening, so if we had a late dessert, someone would have to wash those dishes.
            After he died, I was left with many conflicting feelings. I now had to cook and wash the dishes all the time, and in the first couple of years I would sometimes feel irrationally angry at Jack for leaving me to do all the work, all of the time. At the same time, I felt relieved that I didn’t have to wash whatever dish I put in the sink late in the evening, and often left one there just because I could. And when I went out in the evening, I often didn’t think about there being dishes in the sink that would have to be washed, sometime.
            Lately, I have started thinking about that. If I come home at 9:30, or 10, or 11, I don’t want to wash dishes then. I now plan to wash any dishes in the afternoon when I know I’ll be out later. Tonight, I went into the kitchen a few minutes before leaving and saw those dishes sitting there in the sink. I stopped and washed them, and it only took three minutes. I felt good. 

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

52Essays2019 #2: The Marriage Story

            You could say I was forced to get married. It didn’t feel like that at the time, but it was part of the experience. When I called my parents to tell them Jack and I were getting married, my father said, “We’re not making you do this, are we?” I replied, “No, of course not.” But I thought, we wouldn’t be if not for you. Here’s what happened.
            It was the fall of 1964. I had returned to Antioch College in the spring after having dropped out two years before. Now I was in New York City for my co-op job (at the New York Times!) and living with Jack, who had fallen in love with the city when we’d visited in the winter from Washington, D.C., where we’d met. A few weeks into my job, my father called to say he was in the city for work and would I like to have dinner. Sure, I said, imagining a mean in a nice restaurant.
            When my father picked me up from work, we went to Penn Station to meet my mother, who was arriving the Philadelphia suburb where they lived. Odd, I thought; Dad hadn’t said anything about her having dinner with us. We went to a nondescript restaurant near the station, and chit-chatted about nothing in particular until our appetizers were served. As I dipped my spoon into my soup, my father asked, “Are you and Jack living together?” The soup never made it to my mouth. “What do you mean?”
            “I came by your address the other day and saw your name and his on the same mailbox.”
            The rest of the conversation may have appeared normal and quiet—my family did not yell or get overtly excited. It was, however, very uncomfortable for me. I had mentioned Jack to my parents as someone I was dating, but they hadn’t met. Jack and I were having a great time, in and out of bed, but I wasn’t thinking about getting married at that moment. I had just returned to college, had about a year and a half left, and wanted to finish. On the other hand, I did expect to get married sometime. But to Jack? Who knew?
            I said, “We’re not planning on getting married.”
            My father said, “My sister lived with her husband before they got married, but they were planning on getting married.” Oh, so it would be okay for Jack and me to be living together if we were going to get married sometime?
            I said, “I’m not going to get pregnant. I’m taking the pill.” This didn’t reassure my parents; “Nothing’s perfect,” my mother said.
            My father asked, “What would Antioch College think about your living with Jack?”
            I said, “Antioch College doesn’t care. They don’t have in loco parentis.” Was my father threatening to tell the college? I was pretty sure he wouldn’t, but I also was pretty sure that the college wouldn’t penalize me.
            My parents were lefties, but they were no bohemians. A few years earlier, while watching a TV program about a college considering co-ed dorms, my father was adamantly opposed. “You know what will happen,” he said ominously. “Why have that temptation?” At dinner, I didn’t know what was bothering them about my living with Jack. Did they have some old-fashioned idea that Jack was taking advantage of me? I knew that wasn’t true.
            I ate hardly a bite all evening, and I was still angry after they drove me to my apartment.
            “My parents are upset because they found out we’re living together,” I burst out to Jack. He was very comforting. But I ranted on about my father threatening to tell Antioch, and why did they care anyway, why were they being so old-fashioned? I didn’t think about it’s being only 1964, and people living together openly without being married was still rare.
            “Why don’t we get married?” Jack said calmly.
            That was totally unexpected. We had never talked about anything long-term or permanent. What did I really want to do? He was asking me to marry him. Maybe no one else ever would. Maybe I should take what was being offered. And if it didn’t work out, we could always get divorced.
            That’s how I came to be calling my parents the next evening and why my father asked his question. Who knows if we would have gotten married without that particular scene at the restaurant. The reality is, through many tempestuous moments and some really hard times, we did indeed remain married until death did us part.
It’s another year for the essay a week challenge, 52EssaysNextWave. If you’d like to try it, go on over to the Facebook page for 52EssaysNextWave and sign up. Or just read some of the essays that will be linked to there.

Monday, January 14, 2019

52Essays2019: My Ideal Life

This week my women’s group discussed what we thought our ideal life would be when we were young, and what we would want it to be now.
            When I thought about what my life would be like when I grew up, I didn’t think in terms of  “my ideal life.” I expected to be married and have children—two or four, but not three; I was the oldest of three and that was an unstable number for me. As a teenager, I wrote lists and lists of names for these children. I had favorite names: Katherine for a girl (most likely after the protagonist of the historical novel Katherine, by Anya Seton, about Geoffrey Chaucer’s real-life sister-in-law), and with a K, not a C, because K seemed like a stronger letter (all those straight lines?); Michael or David for a boy (these names sounded somehow elegant to me, and maybe they were bireligious, being both Jewish and Christian?).
            I also knew I wanted to live in New York City, because so many 1950s movie romances and adventures were set in New York City. And in the five and a half years we lived in Connecticut and regularly came to visit my grandparents in Brooklyn, we drove down the West Side Highway, and I was entranced by the tall, elegant apartment buildings along Riverside Drive that you could see from the highway. I want to live in one of those buildings, I whispered to myself.
            In a psychology class as a high school senior, we had an assignment to create a budget for a newly married couple. Since I assumed my newly married couple would live in New York City, I did not budget for a car. My teacher did not approve; maybe I’d live there, but chances were I wouldn’t (I was then living in a Philadelphia suburb), so I should budget for a car (payments, insurance, gas, repairs). It’s too late now to tell him that I’ve never owned a car and fully expect never to own one in my life. I do drive, but rent when I need to drive.
            In college, if I thought of my goals, I wanted to do something “creative.” Maybe work for a publisher, discovering the next Great American Novel. However that was done, I had no idea. I had an uncle who wrote and published novels, but he never talked about the process, and he also taught college-level history to make a living. I did not want to teach. I knew I wanted a job, but teacher, nurse, secretary were the options available to women who grew up in the ’50s, and none of those appealed to me.
            A few years later, I felt myself to be grownup—I was 21, after all. I got married (that’s a whole other story, and possibly another essay), but by this point I had decided that the world was too dangerous to bring children into it. It was only a couple of years after the Cuban missile crisis, and nuclear war still seemed a real possibility. My husband and I decided we wouldn’t have children and got on with having fun and living our lives.
            Along came women’s liberation. It’s a whole other story, and another essay, why women’s liberation led me to become a mother, but it did. So while I’d already worked for a paperback publisher and a hardcover publisher, on my maternity leave I started on what became my career, as copy editor.
            Was I living my ideal life yet? I was in New York City, in one of those tall, elegant apartment buildings along Riverside Drive that I’d dreamed of as a child (though without the river view I’d imagined). Soon I was working at the Village Voice, a paper I’d been reading since I came to New York, and my husband was a reporter at the pre-Rupert Murdoch New York Post. But I was in the middle of my life and still feeling unsatisfied. It wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t famous—who knew I had that ambition.
            Time passed. I did many other things—teaching, activism, those are whole other stories, and essays. One day, in my early 60s, I was walking down the street on my lunch hour from the weekly trade magazine I worked at, and it hit me: I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing with my life. It was such a comfortable feeling. I was a round peg in a round hole. I didn’t have to keep striving for something more; I was there.
            Am I still there? I don’t know. In many ways, I am very lucky. I am financially comfortable, which makes much possible and removes much anxiety. On the other hand, my husband of many decades died just three years ago, and I am still navigating my life as a single woman in her mid-70s. I am grateful I am still alive and in pretty good health. My ideal life now is to keep on living and writing and seeing friends and family and being interested in the world. It may sound like a Hallmark card, but like many cliches, it has its own truth.  
It’s another year for the essay a week challenge, 52EssaysNextWave. If you’d like to try it, go on over to the Facebook page for 52EssaysNextWave and sign up. Or just read some of the essays that will be linked to there. (And I need a graphic for this writing challenge.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

SOLTuesday: New Year’s Eve

            I went to a New Year’s Eve party last night for the first time in years. I spent most of the time talking to a couple, she’s from Canada and he’s a bartender. But a quirky kind of bartender. At the moment, he and a partner are running a tiny bar (really tiny, like room for only two other people besides the bartender) called the Threesome Tollbooth (perhaps a play on “The Phantom Tollbooth”? I forgot to ask). You have to make a reservation, obviously, but it sounds like fun.
            The party had no TV on, so we didn’t watch the fall drop, which was a relief. Our hostess passed out noisemakers so we could do our own countdown and welcome the year with loud sounds, this apparently a holdover from ancient rituals about chasing away evil spirits in a transitional period as we go into the darkest part of the winter.
           At home, I looked back through my datebooks about New Year’s Eves past. Since 2006, we’ve been to two other parties, gone to the movies (Her, Amour, The Fighter, and Persepolis), or stayed home, eating pate and other celebratory food and switching among the channels to watch the crazy people stuck behind barriers in the freezing cold.
            One year a friend from Croatia was visiting, and she wanted to go to Times Square, despite my strenuous efforts to dissuade her. In the evening we went downtown, had to walk from 59th Street because the nearer subway stops were closed, and never got anywhere near where she could see the ball. Finally, we left. Earlier yesterday I heard someone say she’d been in a Rite Aid at Grand Central in early afternoonn and heard a PA announcement that all the adult diapers were sold out. Ugh. Another reason not to go to Times Square in person for that event.
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

SOLTuesday: Not a Christmas Story

            This is not a Christmas slice. I traveled this past weekend, which only was only tangentially because of Christmas. My daughter, the librarian, had a four-day weekend, having last Saturday off and Christmas Eve as well. She decided she wanted to go with her husband to New Orleans, where she had never been, and asked me if I wanted to join them. Why not? I had only been there once before, last winter, for five days, and loved it.
            So we reserved rooms at the same B&B I had stayed at, Monrose Row (which I strongly recommend; Cindy, the proprietor, makes fantastic breakfasts). I made a dinner reservation for Sunday night at Commodore’s Palace, supposedly the best restaurant in New Orleans. Christie made reservations for dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse, one of those places where they bring large skewers of many different kinds of meat to your table, and slice off whatever you want. I made reservations for a walking tour of the French Quarter, and Christie made reservations for a tour of a local whiskey distillery.
           But that isn’t the story I was going to tell. That happened today, as we were getting on the plane to come back home. Christie and her husband were sitting some rows ahead of me, so they got on first. Then I boarded and was busy putting my bag in the overhead and tucking my other bag under the seat when there was a tap on my shoulder. I thought someone wanted to get past, but when I looked up, I recognized the young man. He was a colleague from the magazine where I do free-lance work. I knew his family was in New Orleans, but what a coincidence that he was on the same flight returning to New York. And he was sitting right behind me as well.
            So we chatted about the city and our holidays, and we shared a taxi into Manhattan from the airport. It all rounded out a very lovely four-day holiday weekend.
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

SOLTuesday: Slice of Memory

Last week I read the obituary of Helen Klaben Kahn, whose claim to fame was that after high school she moved to Alaska for adventure, and a year later, on a flight to California, the small plane carrying only her and a pilot crashed and they were marooned for 49 days before rescue. A few years later, she wrote a book, Hey, I’m Alive, which was made into a TV movie.
            I read the obit because Helen was my age, 76. But what provoked my memory is that she grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I lived in Bensonhurst from ages 5 to 8, and one of my best friends was named Helen.
            What are the odds that these two Helens are the same? I could go to the New York Public Library, where city phone books are available on microfilm, to see whether someone with the last name Klaben lived on 75th or 76th Street around the corner from 20th Avenue in Brooklyn. And if she is?
            It’s too late to make contact with her. But I could write something, fictional or non, about her, and me, and Alice, my other friend. 
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

SOLTuesday: Bob Dylan Concerts Past and Present

A week ago I went to a Bob Dylan concert with daughter, son-in-law, and a friend. I went mostly for Jack since I was not a big Dylan fan, but he was. His favorite songs were “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and “Don’t Think Twice,” songs I hated; they were break-up songs, so why would Jack think I’d want to hear him sing them? 
     I first heard a Dylan record in summer 1963, in a college dorm room. The raspy, atonal voice was annoying, and because I connect to songs via rhythm and melody, not lyrics, I didn’t get the appeal. Jack and I went to the Dylan concert in October 1965, when he famously did the first set in his usual folkie acoustic style, then riled most of the audience with his electric set for the second half. But it was the electric songs that woke me up: “Maggie’s Farm,” “Positively 4th Street,” “Like a Rolling Stone.” For the next 10 or so years, every change Dylan made in his style fit right in with the zeitgeist and my zeitgeist. Then he hit his religious phase, becoming a born-again Christian for a brief period, and he lost me; “Gotta Serve Somebody” was not a song I could relate to.
     Jack and I had also gone to the Blood on the Tracks concert in 1974 or 1975. Jack had a book of Dylan lyrics, titled “Lyrics 1962-1985,” and Dylan’s “Chronicles, Volume One” (if there was a volume 2, that one isn’t in the apartment).
    At last week’s concert, I cried when “It Ain’t Me, Babe” was the second song and “Highway 61” the third and “Simple Twist of Fate” the fourth (that was one of my favorites, and I cried throughout it). He didn’t sing another of my favorites, “Lay Lady Lay,” from “Nashville Skyline.” And I knew that Dylan did different arrangements for his oldies, but still, “Blowin’ in the Wind” was unrecognizable until almost the end.
    Dylan was the soundtrack of the ’60s, of my ’60s. Looking through the “Lyrics” book, there are more songs I remember and like than I thought. I’m glad I went to the concert, and felt Jack there, singing those songs to me.
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

SOLTuesday: Three Years Ago Today...

A slice of life from three years ago today.

My husband fell very early in the morning and could not get up. He had taken a sleeping pill the night
before, which probably made him groggy when he got up to use the bathroom, and he forgot to put on his slippers. He wanted me to call the doorman to help him up, but when I noticed there was some blood on the floor, he asked me to call an ambulance, and he spent the day in the ER. Nothing was found to keep him there, and he came home in the evening by taxi. 

His doctor wanted to know how lucid he was, and I told her, as lucid as he could be given that he’d had little sleep. 

And then I wrote these questions in my journal: “How lucid is he anyway? How depressed is he with this inactivity? How long can he stay off his feet without suffering the ill effects of inactivity, weakness in legs, weaker balance?” 
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

SOLTuesday: Telephone Hold Limbo

            This morning I spent at least half an hour with a phone plugged into my ear.
            I had to call the Transit Authority about a reduced fare Metrocard I lost a couple of weeks ago, and which I had reported lost a couple of weeks ago. I looked up the number online and dialed what I thought was the right number.
            Of course, I first had to go through the routine recording “as our menus have recently changed,” until I got to the part where I could say “representative” and get into the hold queue. The music wasn’t bad, at first, interrupted maybe every 15 seconds by the recording apologizing for the wait time, but after a while I realized it was only a two-bar riff, repeated endlessly, and it became boring quickly.
            Fortunately, with a cellphone, it’s possible to be on hold and do other things, so I spent this 15 minutes doing necessary stretches. However, when I finally reached a human being, explained my problem (had my replacement Metrocard been mailed?), and learned I wasn’t in her system, it turned out I had called the wrong number. I should have called a city number: 511.
            Dialing 511, however, got me a recording saying it wasn’t a valid number. WTF?!
            Next I tried the all-purpose 311. The recording here misunderstood the reason for my call and sent me to a lost and found person. (Not too long a wait on hold.) She started to tell me how I could go to the website, and when I said I’d rather speak to a human, she laughed and said she was supposed to tell me all my options. She successfully switched me to the 511 number.
            After a brief hold here, I learned that there’d been a “backlog” in replacement cards and mine wasn’t even ready to be mailed yet. (Internal scream of exasperation. With reduced fare, I can only get one round-trip card at a time when showing my Medicare card. This is beyond annoying.)
            Well, if it hasn’t been mailed yet, where is it mailed from? I ask. From lower Manhattan, he says. Can I come pick it up then? Yes, he says. He’ll put a hold so it won’t be mailed out, and I will be called and left a voicemail when it is ready. That should save a couple of days in the Post Office.
            All of this took only half an hour, but it disarrayed my whole morning.
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Life in 50 Objects: Sewing, part 1

[I don’t know yet whether there will be as many as 50 or more than 50. We’ll how it develops. What I am aiming for is to describe the objects in my apartment and why I have kept them, what they mean to me, so that after I’m gone (which I don’t expect to be any time soon) my younger relatives won’t be able to say, “Why did she keep this old thing?” My mother said she would do that for her jewelry, but she never did.]

      I made this cotton pantsuit in the spring or summer of 1970. Pantsuits had just become a thing you could wear to work, and that change happened between 1967 and 1969 (I know, because I quit work to go back to school full-time to get my B.A. in August 1967, and returned to work exactly two years later. In 1967, no women could wear pants to work; if there was a snowstorm, you might wear snowpants or jeans, but you changed into a skirt in the office. In 1969, pants were acceptable, so long as they were not jeans.)
      This pantsuit has a distinction. I worked on 57th Street just west of Fifth Avenue, and sometimes was too lazy to walk from Columbus Circle, where I got off the C train. On this one day when I was wearing the pantsuit, I was stopped by an elderly woman. She identified herself as Eugenia Sheppard, who had a photo column in the New York Post every Saturday featuring women she saw on the street who looked particularly fashionable. Could she take my picture? How could I say no? When she beckoned her photographer, he turned out to be Duff Gummere, who was a friend of ours, because this was the period when Jack was a new reporter at the New York Post.
      So there I was, one of four women wearing various summer attire, in the New York Post that Saturday. Alas, I have no idea what’s happened to the clipping. Perhaps I can find it on microfilm at the library.
      I said I made this pantsuit. My mother taught me to sew when I was around 12. The first garment didn’t even need a pattern. It was a dirndl skirt, and because my mother was moderately compulsive, she had devised a way to gather the fabric into the waistband so that it would look neat, not bunched up when you followed the method I learned in my high school home ec class.
      We bought a couple of yards of blue paisley cotton, measured my waist, then added six inches where the front and back would overlap. We cut the waistband that measurement long and two and a half inches wide. We stitched the short ends of the rest of the fabric together to make a large tube. Then came the fun part.
      Fold the waistband in half, fold the tube in half. Match the ends of the waistband to the part of the tube with the seam, and match the middle of the waistband to the other end of the tube, which still be the center front of the skirt (right sides of fabric together; if you know how to sew, you’ll remember why; if you don’t, I’d need to make a diagram to show you). Then very careful fold little pleats away from the center front until all of the fabric of the skirt neatly fits the length of the waistband. Laborious, yes, but it makes a neat-looking gather.
      If you’ve gotten this far, you’ll realize that there is a lot of geometry and math involved in sewing. Neither my mother nor I was aware of that at the time, especially since my mother professed to hate math. But I loved the way a large piece of cloth could be turned into a garment with not that much effort. Of course, I used a Singer sewing machine to stitch the thing together. And I did love that blue paisley skirt; I wore it to pieces. 
     There will be more about sewing coming up.
This year there is another essay a week challenge, 52EssaysNextWave. I am way behind, but am trying to catch up with this series. You can read some of the essays that will be linked to the Facebook page for #52EssaysNextWave.