Friday, October 6, 2017

Ibiza: stopping 'progress' is no longer an option

One day recently — September 18, to be exact — I saw a small news item that said 47 years ago, to the day, Jimi Hendrix had died.

Under normal circumstances, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have known where I was when I heard that Jimi Hendrix had died. In this case though, I know exactly.

Fred's Bar was in a small town on the Balearic island of Ibiza. In 1970, Ibiza was at the dawn of what was to become a massive tourism industry. We used to go to Fred's for breakfast every morning walking down a remarkably undeveloped street from the building where were staying which wasn't quite finished.

I used to read the International Herald Tribune while I had my tomato and cheese sandwich and a lovely frothy cup of café con leche. Most things were still cheap in Spain but not the Herald Tribune. We couldn't afford to buy it every day but I bought it two or three times a week and I savoured every word even though it was a very business-oriented paper and often quite boring. I was probably never so well-informed on the subject of international business as I was then.

It was there that I read of the death of Jimi Hendrix and I remember it so well. It was on the front page and it must have made quite an impression on me, a small story tucked in among the war, the appointments of big business executives, the ubiquitous news that followed the ups and downs of petro-dollars. The story of the death of a genius musician must have seemed almost out of place.

In the past 47 years, Ibiza has become known as "party island" for young Europeans. I don't think I would recognize it today. We used to walk to the beach every afternoon along a dusty little road, past small family farms where the families were often gathered around a big outdoor table enjoying lunch.

On a busy day, there might be a handful of other people on the beach but just as often, there was no one. An empty beach.

Today, I'm pretty sure most beaches look more like this.

When I started writing this, I thought it was just an interesting little memory anecdote, the reason I remembered where I was was when I heard of the death of Jimi Hendrix. I didn't know it was going to be another look at unsustainable tourism. I've written about that here and here — about Shakespeare's hometown and about Iceland. I make the point again, sadly, because there are so many wonderful places in the world to visit but so many of the places can't take any more.

Spain was early to tourism over-development. Throughout the '60s, the Mediterranean coast of the mainland was mindlessly built up with miles and miles of characterless highrise buildings (I'm looking at you, Benidorm), magnets for sun-seeking vacationers from northern Europe.

There was little regard for heritage or history but it seemed not to matter. The tourists kept coming. The development on the Balearic Islands began with Majorca, then Menorca, then Ibiza. The smallest island, Formentera, is in the earlier stages of development but it's getting there.

Many people still don't take this kind of issue seriously. "You can't stop progress!" they bellow. This is not progress but there's no point arguing with people who hold that view.

But just look at two views of the Old Town of Ibiza:


Not progress.

There were two other headlines/stories that I remember reading in Fred's Bar. Janis Joplin died on October 4. And on October 5, James Cross was kidnapped from his home in Montreal by the FLQ, marking the beginning of the October Crisis.

That was definitely the headline that had the greatest effect on my own life, both there in Spain and far beyond.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A little history of a famous pickle

Around the turn of the last century, a British Army Officer named Thomas Ashburnham, settled in Fredericton, New Brunswick. His father was the 4th Earl of Ashburnham but as Thomas was the fifth of seven sons, there seemed little likelihood of his inheriting the title.

In Fredericton, he used to drink and gamble and at the end of his evening, he would call the phone company to order a horse and carriage to take him home. The night operator who answered most evenings was a local girl, Maria "Rye" Anderson. Rye had a wonderful voice and a pleasant manner and before he knew what had hit him, he had fallen for her. He asked to meet her in person. That happened and in 1903, they got married.

They joined two downtown houses together with a porte-cochère and became the centre of Fredericton social life, entertaining friends and family lavishly. This is what the house looked like in those days:

Painting of Ashburnham House by Fernando Poyatos

Against all odds, all Thomas' older brothers died and Thomas became the 6th Earl of Ashburnham. Rye Anderson, the telephone operator from Fredericton, became Lady Ashburnham.

Lord and Lady Ashburnham moved to England to take over the ancestral home but that didn't work out very well. The family didn't really accept Rye and she was homesick. So they returned to Fredericton and resumed their entertaining ways on Brunswick St.

Unfortunately, in 1924, Lord Ashburnham became ill on a trans-Atlantic journey as he travelled to England to deal with family business. He passed away in May 1924 in London. He is buried in the family vault at Ashburnham Church.

Lady Ashburnham continued to live in their Fredericton home. She died in 1938. The house on Brunswick St. survived for some time. It eventually was divided into apartments — my friend Ann lived there for awhile! — but it was not kept up as it should have been. On Google Street View, it looked like this last year but I've read that it has since been torn down.

Lady Ashburnham's legacy, interestingly enough, is a pickle. She was not domestic herself and didn't do any of the cooking for her delicious dinners but her sister Lucy lived in the household and took care of the kitchen. In Fredericton, the elegant mustard pickles served on Brunswick St. — made by Lucy — became very popular and were known across the city as "Lady Ashburnham's Pickles."

And so they are still known today. I've made these pickles everywhere, including on a Coleman stove on deck when we lived on the boat on the Miramichi, tied up at Loggie's Wharf in Chatham; at the old house in Black River Bridge; in Montreal; of course, in Fredericton. I've even made them on television on a show called Foodessence. They didn't turn out that well. We had to keep restarting them. We had to serve the camera, not the cucumbers. The important thing for television was that they looked good.

I made Lady Ashburnham's Pickles most recently earlier this week.

Those are cucumbers (soaked in salt and water overnight), onions, red and green peppers. They're pretty before you even get started.

There are always variations in a pickle recipe. Most people have adapted it to suit themselves. I stick pretty closely to Lucy's recipe although now that I think about it, Lucy probably didn't use the peppers. I like adding the peppers — they look so nice for one thing.

The one small change I made this year was not planned. I was halfway through the process when I realized I didn't have any yellow mustard seed. I did, however, have brown mustard seed which we bought in the spring for the rhubarb chutney. So brown mustard seed it was and it's fine because the pickling was successful and the pickles are delicious.

I think of Lady Ashburnham — Rye Anderson — whenever I make her pickles. I think of Lucy too and wonder what her life was like, living with her sister who married into British nobility, working in the kitchen, seeing Rye get all the credit for her pickles.

She could never have imagined that more than a hundred years later, her pickles would still be made and enjoyed — and her sister would still be getting all the credit.

Sometimes, life just isn't fair.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My short introduction to Iceland

In 2008, Iceland suffered a financial catastrophe. It affected everyone, not just the loss of money although that was serious, but there was a terrible sense of betrayal and humiliation that the bankers had treated their own people so badly, stealing money left and right, from everyone. Icelanders felt a collective depression over this.

In 2010, the great volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted.

(This photo was taken by a man named Oliver who lives just below the mountain. When the eruption was imminent, he called the newspaper in Reykjavik and told them it was happening and he was evacuating. The reporter he spoke to said, "Grab a photo on your way out and then get out of there!" Oliver got the photo and then he skedaddled. This photo was on the front page of the Reykjavik newspaper and from there, as the only picture of the eruption. it went all over the world. Oliver did quite well by it.)

The cloud of volcanic ash was thick and within days, it had blanketed Europe and shut down all airlines of flights coming and going. They remained closed for a couple of weeks.

After these two events, happening so close together, the people in Iceland wondered if life had irrevocably changed. The airline shutdown affected much of the world and, in its own mind, Iceland began to feel like an international pariah. They wondered if the people would ever come back.

Well, the people did come back. The numbers of tourists climbed from 595,000 in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010, before rising to 4.4 million in 2014 — and they continue to rise.

Writing about tourism is not easy. I assume I have no credibility as long as I'm one of the tourists. The last time I wrote about it, we had just visited Shakespeare's hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon, where they get 4.9 million visitors a year. I shared this photo:


At some point, I had showed you what my first view of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre looked like:

The Louvre

Can you see her? Way back there at the end of that long room?

(Of course, I often show this one too. I elbowed my way to the front of the room. I'm an "older woman" so I can get away with that.)

Forty years ago, tourism was seen as the clean, environment-friendly alternative to the older polluting industries and a supplement to fishing and farming which were transitioning to large corporate-owned entities that were much less labour intensive. Tourism would provide good jobs and offer a boost to local economies everywhere. Even the smallest towns were seeking ways to entice visitors to their neck of the woods.

And how has that turned out? You don't have to look far to find the evidence that thousands of planes loaded with people being transported around the world and back, is not a sustainable practice. And now, decades after tourism was seen as the solution to economic woes all over, some people are resisting.

First Venice and Barcelona: now anti-tourism marches spread across Europe

In Iceland too:

Iceland becoming 'Disneyland' as US tourists outnumber locals

It's a confusing and contradictory situation for people to be in. I don't begrudge the workers who were able to leave standing in icy water in a fish plant and get a much easier job in a warm hotel for better money. It may not turn out to be a lifetime job however.

Having said that, we tremendously enjoyed our visit to Iceland. We had a cozy apartment in the centre of Reykjavik. That's the view out our window at the top of this page. It was very convenient for shopping at the nearby small supermarket and William enjoyed being in the vicinity of the very active nightlife. Our apartment was well-equipped with dishes and utensils. It had a stove-top and microwave and even a tiny dishwasher — which we used — and a tiny clothes washer which we didn't.

The bathroom was made of smooth rocks.

That's cricket on the TV — a very exciting game, I believe.

Our visit wasn't very long but we managed to do a lot. I'll come back soon to tell you about the city of Reykjavik.

Meanwhile, I've posted two albums of quite spectacular photos on Facebook. You can look at them even if you don't have a Facebook account. Here they are. Just click:

A visit to Reynisfjara black sand beach and basalt columns

Iceland's Sólheimajökull glacier

Friday, August 4, 2017

Our Exhibition: a highlight of every kid's summer

When I was growing up in Chatham, New Brunswick, the Exhibition was the highlight of the summer. It usually fell conveniently right around the end of August, just before Labour Day although I do remember a couple of times when it was held in early September, after school started. How awful it was for us kids to have to sit in hot classrooms, windows wide open, and hear the tempting sounds of the carnival — the music, the carney announcements, the general hubbub. We could hardly wait for the bell to ring so we could get over there.

The Exhibition was divided into three distinct parts: the building, the midway and the barns. Even as young people, we felt some responsibility to survey the exhibits in the building when we first arrived. This was quite mature of us as the building was mostly commercial exhibits, farm machinery, appliances, lots and lots of raffle tickets — which we mostly left for our parents to buy. There were also baked good, pickles and preserves to be judged and there was w wall-full of local art.

The building was a landmark in Chatham, on a hill behind a large grassy expanse that was used for parking. Later, there were paved lanes in between the grassy parking areas but in my earlier memories, there were unpaved tracks and I remember it as being quite haphazard.

This building was built in 1937 and it burned down in a spectacular fire in 1993. It's since been replaced.

After our dutiful turn around the building, downstairs and up, we were free to head out to the midway with clear consciences. In those days, it was always the Bill Lynch Show and like it or not, the Exhibition was judged on how good the midway was that year. Some years, the rides and the sideshows were scant; people complained and threatened to write letters. The problem was, Bill Lynch could supply a certain number of carnivals at the same time but some years, it became clear, the carnival contents were stretched too thin and all you could do was hope that the following year, schedules would be staggered and we'd get our fair share.

You can tell this photo is taken in Chatham because you can see the famous steeple of St. Michael's Basilica in the lower left.

We would usually wait until we were out on the grounds before we started eating although I remember one of the service clubs — the Lions, I think — served fresh buttered corn on the cob, right inside the main entrance. It was so good, it probably didn't occur to us that we were making a healthy choice to begin our feasting — and maybe with all that butter dripping down our chins, it wasn't all that healthy.

I don't know whether it was a widespread habit or just in my circles but we never got our fries from that first truck on the midway, the high truck on the left. It was always said that he charged more and gave fewer fries per serving — taking advantage of his position.

Right across from that fry truck was the Bingo tent which we had no occasion to enter, not being Bingo players. I think there was an age restriction anyway. I suppose it was considered gambling — but weren't all the games? The back wall of that tent was covered with prizes. I remember table lamps — dozens of table lamps. I remember seeing lots of people over the course of an evening carrying those lamps off too. I'm sure it was an appreciated prize.

The gaming booths didn't hold a lot of attraction for me. I remember as a very small girl, Dad giving me a handful of dimes for the duck pond, which I loved. The prizes were always a long slender flexible stick with some kind of cheap-o toy attached to the end. I can still see the keeper of the duck pond reaching up for another of those prizes which would last about a day.

Much later, my boyfriend during my last summer just after high school was a ballplayer with a good arm. I definitely took home a prize stuffed animal every night of Exhibition Week that year. There's teenage status, of course, connected to walking around the midway carrying a big teddy bear and I enjoyed it while it lasted.

When it came to rides, I was strictly a ferris wheel and merry-go-round (after the little kids had been taken home) kind of girl. As a small child, I'd been taken on the tilt-a-whirl and I screamed so loud and disturbingly, the carnie had to stop the ride and let me off. I promptly went around behind the ride and threw up. That was it for me. Ever since, I've avoided rides that go up and down and spin around.

I do remember another ride that I got on. I think it only came to our Exhibition once although I could be wrong. This ride was called The Caterpillar.

It was a small roller coaster. You were fastened in to your seat and the ride started up and did a few revolutions in the open air. A few minutes in, the green covering started to emerge from the centre. It rose straight up, like the convertible cover of a car and then it gradually folded over and covered the seats and you finished your ride in darkness. Quite interesting now that I think about it. I'm guessing that it's not commonly found on midways today.

Back beyond the games and the rides was another phenomenon that has faded away. This is the side-show — including what was commonly called the "freak" show (The Wild Man of Borneo, The Fat/Bearded/Tattooed Lady, The Armless/Legless/Torsoless Man) and those showmen of particular talents who ate swords and fire and cavorted with snakes.

My friends and I, doing our official rounds of the midway, would stand throughout the barker's sales job as he did his level best to entice people into the tent. He would bring out "samples" and use them as part of his selling point. He was loud and seductive and I can still hear that almost-hypnotic persuasion. I was never inside, of course. People in those days didn't routinely carry ID as far as I know but the barker knew who to let in and we kids all knew we weren't going in.

I grew up, interestingly enough, with a rather warm and affectionate memory of the "girlie shows." I think it's because one day, my friends and I were coming back to the midway from the barns and we somehow got in behind the sideshow tents but still inside the midway fence. There were two or three little trailers there and people milling about. There were women on chaise longues getting some sun, chatting with each other, doing their nails. And there were small children running around playing! We suddenly realized that we had stumbled into the living area of the stars of the girlie show and maybe some of the other sideshows as well. They were families and this was the way they were spending the summer.

It seemed so charming and natural that all sense of titillation was lost on me. I suppose that's why they were tucked out of sight back behind the tent stages.

In an unusual twist, one of the memories that comes back to me about the Exhibition is of something that I didn't personally witness. Twice a day — 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. — the high-wire aerialist climbed the tower and began his act. (I know my photo is of a female but as I remember the high-wire acts, they were usually male.)

It was always scary, a lot of breath-holding and gasping and occasional exclamations. Those towers were high — often more than 100 feet — and there was always great relief when the aerialist came down.

One day — I'm pretty sure it was the afternoon show — my friends and I had just left the grounds and were out in the area in front of the building. We could hear the sounds that always accompanied the high-wire act and suddenly, there was a sound that was so different, it's impossible for me to describe it properly. It was a scream of fear and horror and disbelief. We didn't know until later what had happened. The aerialist had — working "without a net" as it was always advertised — plunged to the ground. My memory fails me here although I think he was taken to the hospital (which was nearby) and he may have remained alive for a couple of days but I can't say that for sure.

That event haunts me still. I can hardly bear to think about it. I can't imagine how it must feel to someone who was there.

Years later, I was back living in Chatham and I was editor of the newspaper, the Miramichi Press. By then, the Exhibition — while still fun — was an event to be covered in the paper. Our job was to find new stories about the Exhibition — or to find new angles on old stories.

One hot afternoon, I was wandering around the midway and I thought it might be a good idea to see if I could get an interview with the high-wire aerialist/acrobat. I went and knocked on the door of the trailer that was next to the tower. I knocked several times, in fact, and finally, the door was opened a couple of inches. It was a woman and when I told her why I was there, she said no interview, not under any circumstances. She said he was resting. I honestly can't remember the conversation but after a bit of back and forth, she did let me in. I think maybe he heard the conversation and gave his assent.

(I don't remember their names. I'll call them Paul and Marie. Who knows? Maybe those are their names.)

It was nice in the trailer. There was a fan running and it was dim. Paul was sitting at the table. He was wearing a tank top and sweat pants. His upper body was heavily muscled which I guess is not surprising. Marie was heavily made up and wearing what was obviously a wig. They both smoked a lot. They seemed older than I thought they would be.

We chatted. It wasn't so much an interview as it was people sitting around on a hot afternoon, exchanging life stories. I can't remember where they were from or how they got into the high-wire act business — it was probably something as ordinary as people who were working with the carnival gravitating toward the tower and practicing until they knew how to do it. It was a job to them and they didn't seem to find it any more unusual than anyone would find their job. I think they told me they would finish the circuit in Atlantic Canada and then head for Florida where they would spend the winter.

I sensed at one point that they had become quite suggestive and it was clear that they were interested in me as something other than a local reporter. I made a casual reference to my husband and they reacted quite positively to that mention and wondered if I could get him over to join us. I thought maybe it was time for me to go and I made a graceful exit. I thanked them for their time and wished them all the very best.

I came back later to watch the act with Marie. She didn't go up the tower but she had a crucial role on the ground, co-ordinating the act, adjusting the guy-wires, timing his moves to get him down safely. There was no conversation. She was working. The whole experience — watching him go through those dangerous moves after having spent a couple of hours together — was very tense for me. When he was safely on the ground, I waved and slipped away. They disappeared into the trailer.

I wrote my story and it was published later that week.

Several weeks later, a letter arrived, hand-written in bold black ink. It was from Paul. They were on their way back to Florida. He had seen the story and wanted to thank me. He said he usually avoided reporters because, in his experience, they never got it right but he thought I "got it" and he liked my story. He said Marie sent her regards.

I hope they both lived to a ripe old age and retired in their trailer to a nice Florida beach.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Writing my life — Chatham, Black River, Montreal, Halifax

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.” — Gloria Steinem

There are people in my life who feel this way and I admit, it resonates with me too. In fact, I started Each New Day to encourage myself to write, if not every day, at least regularly. I noted that I was spending a lot of time commenting on other people's Facebook posts and thus, in effect, losing my observations some of which, I said in that first post, "were researched, others that were well-thought-out and carefully written."

So I wanted to keep track of what I was thinking but also, I wanted to write almost every day. We were still living in our house on Duncan St. and although I sometimes suggested that I was in a rut, I was really just keeping to a carefully maintained routine. I'm a night owl and I always wrote my blog posts late at night. It seemed natural then. I wrote about the issues of the day or something wonderful I'd cooked that day or a short reminiscence about a recent trip we'd taken.

We moved in October, partly because I wanted a change in routine — which I happily got. I'm still a night owl but for some reason, writing blog posts at midnight doesn't come naturally to me that way it did last year. Who knows why? Don't mind me; I'm just thinking out loud.

Something else happened. I discovered I liked writing about my past life, memoir-style writing. It turns out that my readers like those pieces too. My most-read piece — by far — is a little story about a lake in the woods near Chatham, NB, where I grew up. Close behind are stories about things I lost when our house in Black River Bridge burned; a sweet story about the legendary ball-player, Billy Daley; and a three-part love story about the boy who disappeared.

My problem is, I have a lot of stories partly written but I'm out of the habit of getting my writing done and published every day. I'm confessing this because I want to change my behaviour and it's a well-known fact that if your confession is public, you pretty much have to follow through.

Meanwhile, one of the small but interesting projects we began in our new place is that we take a photo at the same time and place every day, just to watch the world change around us. Because I often tried to be at the window at noon anyway, to see the puff of smoke when they fire the Noon Gun (and hear the boom, which takes a second or so to get here), we decided to take our photo at noon. We started the photo series on March 20, the Spring Equinox. We haven't missed a day yet.

The photos I'm showing you here are one month apart, the last one being June 21, the Summer Equinox. When we started, we took the photos from inside, through the window. The weather is now beautiful and we take it from outside on the balcony.

We would definitely be aware how our scenery changes even without the photos. It's rather nice to watch it happen consciously and intentionally though. I'll be sure to show you more photos, as time goes by. You wouldn't want to miss the ones when we're so socked in by fog you can't even see the hotel.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Something old, something new in the tart world of rhubarb

Every year we're challenged anew: what can we do with the springtime gift that is rhubarb that we've never done before? (Rhubarb is a gift of springtime but it's also a gift from our friend Valerie who generously brings it to us from Amherst. She's often looking for new ways to enjoy rhubarb also.)

It often feels as if we've done it all. We've made jams and jellies; pies and crisps; cakes and muffins; chutneys. We've made cordial and compote, sweet sauce for ice cream, savoury sauce for chicken and meat.

Last year and again this year, we've had a delicious rhubarb coffee cake for Dan's birthday.

We're by no means finished this year — we will get back to the tried and true, the old favourites.

In the meantime though, I did try something new. Here are clues:

(The Junior cat showed up as a distraction)

You're right. It's rhubarb pickle. It's very easy and the combination of cider vinegar, fresh sliced ginger and lots of pickling spice should make a very flavourful condiment.

They have to sit for a couple of weeks so I'll let them do that and I'll report back.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mothers: reduced to nothing, blamed for everything

I wouldn't want anyone to think I've lost my anger even though I may express it more calmly than I used to. I have to tell you though, I'm glad there was a time when I would write a piece like this — on Mother's Day yet! — and never think twice about the fallout.

This was a column I wrote in The Daily News for Mother's Day, May 12, 1991. It was just a few months after the start of the First Gulf War. I remember exactly where I was when that war started; I still remember watching the surreal scenes on television of bombs falling on Baghdad — little green explosions on the TV screen. I was sad and I was angry.

This column grew out of that sadness and anger.

Sometimes, when I want to refer to something as a “motherhood issue,” I write “so-called motherhood issue.” I do that to acknowledge society's meaning for the expression but also to point out society's ambivalence — not about the issue, but about motherhood. My “so-called” is usually excised by a sharp-eyed editor who no doubt asks himself, “Is it a motherhood issue or not?”

A few weeks ago, I quoted a few lines from an article by American sociologist Carol Cohn. The article, Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals, deals with the images and languages of war and its weapons. She prepared her article after spending a year at a centre for defense technology and arms control.

There's no shortage of research that suggests that some of the rage men feel toward women is rooted in envy of the biological power of women. I shudder every time I hear about fertilized eggs being implanted in a male body in one further step toward appropriating childbirth, and I emphatically disagree when I hear a woman say, “I wish they could have the babies and leave us out of it.”

Cohn found much childhood and motherhood imagery in the nuclear war industry. In December 1942, she writes, a telegram sent to the physicists who had developed the atom bomb read, “Congratulations to the new parents. Can hardly wait to see the new arrival.” The bomb was often referred to as “Oppenheimer's baby.”

The hydrogen bomb was referred to as “Teller's baby,” although “those who wanted to disparage Edward Teller's contribution claimed he was not the bomb's father, but its mother. They claimed Stanislaw Ulam was the real father; he had the all-important idea and inseminated Teller with it. Teller only 'carried it' after that.”

Cohn discovered that the idea of male birth and its accompanying belittling of maternity — “the denial of women's role in the process of creation and the reduction of motherhood to the provision of nurturance (apparently Teller did not need to provide an egg, only a womb)” — has survived to this day in the nuclear industry. She quotes an officer talking about a new satellite system saying, “We'll do only the motherhood role — telemetry, tracking, and control — the maintenance.”

Incidentally, the imagery doesn't stop with the “parents” but continues on with the “children.” In early testing of the nuclear weapons, scientists expressed the hope that the baby was a boy, not a girl — that is, not a dud.

So I guess you're thinking, if childbirth and motherhood have been reduced to so little importance, how come you get blamed for everything? Is it really all your fault?

These are the words of the revered Carl Jung on the subject:

“My own view differs from that of other medico-psychological theories principally in that I attribute to the personal mother only a limited etiological significance. That is to say, all those influences which the literature describes as being exerted on the children do not come from the mother herself, but rather from the archetype projected upon her, which gives her a mythological background and invests her with authority and numinosity.”

Having reduced women to nothing, writes Mary Daly in Gyn/Ecology, Jung then blames them for everything.

In the early days of what we so blithely call civilization, motherhood was the only recognized relationship — the one that was easily identified. It's really only since someone thought up the idea of marriage and exclusive sexual rights that paternity has become an issue — in fact, that paternity has been given such significance that mothers who raise children without a father are disparaged and discriminated against.

A “motherhood issue” is something we're supposed to accept as good without thinking about it. A good education system, universal health care, enough food for everyone — these are motherhood issues. Or are they so-called motherhood issues? You see my problem.

Happy Mother's Day, anyway.