May 4th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Blogging from the woods! Was looking for for the elusive shad tree to show you its blossoms, but couldn’t find any. So here’s an Acer Pennsylvanicum Hol found.

103 Responses to “Moosewood”

  1. Christine says:

    You said “it’s” !!!!!!!!!!! I’m in shock!!!

  2. God! I know! It’s the iPhone! It “corrects” your spelling for you if you don’t stop it. I’m gonna go fix it now.

  3. Phew! That’s better.

  4. Christine says:

    lol I thought that might have been what happened. Whew, the world makes sense again!

  5. DeLand DeLakes says:

    OT- Alison, could you pass along the web address for Holly’s composting website, again? The folks at my apartment & me just got a green light from the owners to start gardening in the yard, so I finally have someplace to put my rotting vegetable matter. I could use her expertise.

  6. hairball_of_hope says:

    Oh good, spell-check and grammar-check programmed by code monkeys with apostrophe-itis. Or is that apostrophe-rhea?

    Can you turn that auto-correction stuff off on the iPhone?

    If that were me, I’d be mortified by the apostrophe apostasy. Enough to make me ditch the phone.

  7. hairball_of_hope says:


    It’s a link on the front page:

  8. Kate L says:

    Wow, A.B., you’re going wild with the remote blogging! Let’s see, what’s the phrase I’m looking for… oh, yeah. “Slow down, cowboy!” Hmmm… where have we heard or read that before? 🙂

  9. Ian says:

    I was at my allotment yesterday and it’s all so exciting at this time of year! Radishes and Beetroots were sprouting after being sown 10 days ago, the zucchini and pumpkins are producing their second set of leaves (should we get lots of pumpkins I’ll expect some good recipes for pumpkin pie). There are hundreds of flowers on the blueberry bushes and little mini-gooseberries growing on the gooseberry bushes!

    Sorry folks, after getting my plot, I’m turning into a bit of an evangelist for growing at least some of your own veg or fruit and get ridiculously excited when the seeds I plant germinate.

  10. Maggie Jochild says:

    Re the apt use of Moosewood as title:

    Silver bark of beech, and sallow
    Bark of yellow birch and yellow
    Twig of willow.

    Stripe of green in moosewood maple,
    Colour seen in leaf of apple,
    Bark of popple.

    Wood of popple pale as moonbeam,
    Wood of oak for yoke and barn-beam,
    Wood of hornbeam.

    Silver bark of beech, and hollow
    Stem of elder, tall and yellow
    Twig of willow.

    (“Counting-Out Rhyme” by one of my favorite New England muffdivers, Vince)

  11. Ali says:

    The woods are beautiful in the England at the moment too. So many shades of green in the emerging leaves. The Horse chestnuts are in flower and the oaks must be too because there is an almost deafening buzzing coming from their canopies. My not so little boy Jonah (5), Litle girl Poppy ( 3 last week) and I went for a minibeast hunt in the local woods and found dung beatles – just like medium sized scarabs – rolling dung into balls and all. I just thought they were of African origin so was amazed to see them stumbling slowly over the paths with their loads or even behaving amorously ( spring is in the air afterall!). But sadly they are so slow moving there were far more dead than alive – crushed by unobservant walkers and cyclists. They are irridescent – seeming black but glowing midnight blue in the light. Well I never – anyone else found natural things of note in the woods?

  12. Ian says:

    Now I live in Britain and in various wild places there are always rumours of black panthers (of the feline variety) or lions or some large cat living wild as the “Beast of” whichever moor or forest. A friend of mine who’s a forest ranger showed me some scratches on a tree trunk and swore blind it was the claw marks of whatever big cat was rumoured to live round there. I imagine they were caused by a stag scraping the velvet off that year’s new antlers, but I would like his story to be true!

  13. Ian says:

    PS I wonder if there’s scope for an “Under Moose Wood” take on Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milk Wood”? 😉

  14. Jo says:

    (long time reader, first time poster)

    Not just the woods but also the tamer venues are lovely at this time of year. We actually have a shad tree in our suburban north-of-NYC yard and it fits right in. But – bloom time is over. Next year!

    We are rioting in our dogwoods right now.

  15. iara says:

    [writing this from actual desktop computer in actual office] – How nice to start the day with a detour via the woods in England (New or Old).

  16. an australian in london says:

    @Ali. I went to the Peak District last week, so not the woods, but the moors. (Didja know if they didn’t keep burning off the heather and grazing sheep there, they WOULD be woods?) But I digress…. I saw lots of grouse (it was grouse – sorry, Aussie joke), pheasants, heaps of other birds I don’t know, my very first hare (my GODS they are fast!) and THREE LIZARDS. I didn’t even know we had lizards in England. Apparently there are three species, and six reptile species in total! Oh, plus I saw lots of sheep. With big curly horns. and tails.

  17. an australian in london says:

    The sheep were kind of Stephen Kingesque.

  18. an australian in london says:

    Sorry to hog the blog, last comment – it’s off the topic but I need to celebrate it here!
    I just finished drawing my first comic strip! Though ‘finished’ is a loose concept – I keep seeing minor improvements I need to make.
    It’s for a competition (I’ll tell you more about it if I get anywhere.) I got the idea last week in my German class (it is a German related competition), because I was doing an oral presentation to the class introducing/comparing ‘Fun Home’ and ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman. (The class are a very cultured/edumicated bunch: they all nodded when I asked if they knew the story of Icarus – hell I knew the story before I read FH, but I’d forgotten the guy’s name! – not them! – and when I got stuck and asked ‘Wer hat ‘the Great Gatsby gescrhieben?’ they all chourused “F. Scott Fitzgerald” with one voice.) Boy it was fun to say ‘Gay’, and ‘lesbian’ over and over again in German. I even got to utter the sentence ‘Ich bin lesbisch’ – albeit I was just translating AB’s words. I think my classmates got the picture anyway.

    But I digress AGAIN! Drawing a comic strip was the most fun I’ve had all week. (I HAVE been in bed with a cold, but nevertheless, it WAS heaps of fun.) It is heavily Bechdel influenced – I have read just about everything she has in print, but only a smattering of other comic artists, so no surprises there. I hope you don’t mind AB – I called the newspaper ‘The Daily Misery’.

    Then I went out and bought ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi and devoured it in two sittings.

    Until recently, I used to have this escapist tendency to read young adult fiction – it was my escape from the real world, and a LOT of fun. In the last few months I have finally grown out of it – or at least I haven’t found any new really good teenage fiction – only predictable rubbish. But starting with Bechdel, and expanding to Spiegelman and Satrapi I have found my new genre. I am LOVING good quality graphic novels. What can you recommend? (I could ask Amazon, but I’m not going there.) (PS ‘Maus’ and ‘Persepolis’ and ‘Fun Home’ are not escape from the real world – they are the real world distilled.)

    Sorry about the long off topic comment – thanks for listening!

  19. Jen says:

    I just figured Moosewood refered to beer…

  20. Khatgrrl says:

    I first thought of the restaurant in Ithaca and then the cookbook.

    We were in VT Sunday and noticed that the trees were a few weeks behind ours in Upstate NY. At 65 mph every flowering tree in the woods looks like a shad. That said, the shad on the corner of our yard in VT was just starting to bloom. We were also very happy to see bluebirds this weekend.

    We went up this weekend to plant 100 seedling balsam trees. We have been growing our own Christmas trees for several years now, although I’m fairly certain it would be less expensive to actually buy them from a tree farm. That being said, there is something very nice about saying, “We grew that tree ourselves.” We get better at trimming and pruning each year. We are at the point where we have a few that are just too large to fit in anyone’s home.

  21. --MC says:

    Hey Australian In London — lately I’ve been reading a lot of English editions of French graphic novels — there’s a spectacular book by Lewis Trondheim and another guy, “Bourbon Island 1731” (I may have the year wrong) about piracy and society — I can also recommend “The Rabbi’s Cat” by Johan Sfar — and am currently reading “The Ice Wanderer”, by Jiro Taniguchi (Japanese), which has just come out in an English edition (though they retained the right-to-left format of the Manga pages and book .. )
    And of course, there’s always the work of Ariel Schrag ..

  22. Virginia Burton says:

    @Maggie: Edna St Vincent Millay! I’ve always loved that rhyme. I’m usually good at memorizing poetry, but I get tongue tied every time I’ve tried that one.

  23. Cécile de Luxembourg says:

    Australian in London, would Posy Simmonds’ Tamara Drewe qualitify as a ‘good quality graphic novel’? Existe même en français (Denoel Graphic) wenn du’s international magst… 😉

  24. @Maggie: Thank for the lesson! I never heard that very delightful poem, and don’t know much about Vince. Though I just learned from Wikipedia that her middle name comes from the hospital in NYC.

    Who knew?

  25. Uh…but what’s “popple?”

  26. Pam I says:

    I just adopted eight tadpoles for my barrel pond. That’s all I can offer on Wild Kingdoms.

  27. Anonymous says:

    @Khatgrrl–I too thought of the Moosewood Restaurant. Speaking of which,they are big consumers of maple syrup; their cookbooks have numerous recipes,ranging from salad dressing to rice pudding,using the amber liquid.

    Thanks to the blog,I know about Grade B maple syrup,which I recently purchased from Trader Joe’s ($6.50 for 12 oz,so I use it sparingly). It’s tasty,but honestly I don’t notice a difference between it and Grade A.

    @Ian–I love the idea of Under Moosewood.

  28. Str8 but not Narrow says:

    Bah…It’s been raining and freezing here in Nashville for weeks.

    Although I gotta admit, it’s done wonders for our local forests. We have some mayapples that are growing like gangbusters. I should really try to take photos….

  29. Ready2Agitate says:


  30. Khatgrrl says:

    For some excelent Vermont maple syrup try the Green Mountain Sugar House. You can definitely taste the difference between their different grades.

    They make their own syrup on site. I very much enjoy the maple cream on english muffins.

  31. Heidi says:

    Ian, I’m ridiculously excited about my garden plot, too! There’s one tiny poblano pepper growing on one of my plants, and I hope to have green beans, cherry tomatoes, and yellow squash within the month. Then later in the summer I’ll have cantaloupe, if I don’t screw it up. It’s my first year growing fruits and vegetables, so every little development is a revelation.

  32. Chris (From Massachusetts) says:

    A modest wildlife blogwhore.

    One of three Wild Turkeys, within spitting distance (seriously!) of the Mattapan to Ashmont high speed trolley line.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the info,but just a pint of grade B would cost $24.95 shipped to the west cost,a big difference from $6.50/12 oz. I’m quite content with my syrup,and $6.50’s a splurge for me.

    I’m about to start my veg. garden. Already my perennial chives and mint are ready to eat. Yum!

  34. Maggie Jochild says:

    i notice we’re not talking about bacon so much. swine flu, perhaps?

    i don’t intend to stop eating pork, but no longer buy from smithfield or any of its gobbled-up companies. clean pork is possible, jules winnfield to the contrary. the problem is corporate-controlled farming and the many abuses that arise therefrom — and it’s very heartening to hear all the gardening excitement here. a sea change is on us, i do believe.

    i didn’t know there was a tree call a shad, only the fish (for which the definitive information source is john mcphee’s book).

  35. Ali says:

    Has anyone else got into Rock Cookie Bottom since Alisons’s blog about the torture memo set to music. Jonathan Man who composes, records and films a song a day – is certainly a very interesting character. Some of his stuff is great and some – not so – but his philosophy is that if he writes a song every day some will suck but some will be excellent – and I would have to agree. The archive is worth a look too. My favourite ( not surprisingly is) everyone’s a little bit queer – here’s the link:
    I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has any favourites from his archive and thank you very much Alison for the original post.

  36. hairball_of_hope says:

    Off-topic, but entertaining nonetheless:

    Testimony from the trial of Brooke Astor’s son, who is accused of stealing beaucoup bucks from his mother as her cognitive abilities declined due to Alzheimer’s:

    A churchgoer in Maine once walked up to the late philanthropist and socialite Brooke Astor and boldly asked the esteemed doyenne whether she was a lesbian.

    “No, my dear,” Ms. Astor kindly replied, “I’m an Episcopalian.”

  37. Ginjoint says:

    Ali, I like that song too but I found myself wishing he would tighten it up a little – maybe include a catchy chorus that everyone could sing together in a bar. It’s that kind of fun song to me. But then, he’s not allowing himself a whole lot of time to finesse his work, is he?

    Maybe my desire comes from the odd experience of having “There’s No One As Irish As Barack O’Bama” stuck in my head all day yesterday, for absolutely no discernable reason:

  38. hairball_of_hope says:

    And now for something back on topic (maple syrup):

    NY Sen. Chuck Schumer has maple syrup envy. He read about the South Burlington VT IHOP which serves real Vermont maple syrup (not exactly proudly, they don’t advertise that folks can get the real McCoy for 99 cents extra).

    Sen. Schumer has sent a letter to the IHOP corporate honchos advocating that NY IHOPs serve local food, including real NY maple syrup. Well, he’s not exactly proposing that they serve ONLY real NY maple syrup. He’s proposing that NY IHOPs which serve real maple syrup (currently NONE of them do) serve only NY maple syrup.

    As much as I like real maple syrup, I do wish Sen. Schumer advocated for things that would make a more tangible difference in the lives of his human constituents, instead of the deciduous ligneous sap-runner constituents (and last I heard, trees can’t vote, unless they are Ents).

    It’s embarrassing that our progressive neighbors to the north and east of us (and to the west… hello Iowa!) have enacted gender-neutral marriage laws, and we are still stuck in the medieval marriage morass. (I’m in an alliterative mood today…)

  39. Mame says:

    Speaking of the State of Maine….the gov signed the bill alowing gay marriage today.

  40. hairball_of_hope says:

    AP is reporting that Maine Gov. John Baldacci has signed legitlation that legalizes same-sex marriage:

    That makes Rhode Island is the only New England state not to have legal gender-neutral marriage.

    The trumpets are sounding, and the walls are tumbling down…

  41. hairball_of_hope says:

    Oh, I see Mame beat me to the keyboard. Sorry for the redundancy. And sorry about yet another typo… legislation.

  42. Mame says:

    Hey Hairball…I had no link, though…so your punch packed more.

  43. hairball_of_hope says:

    Nah, good links are easy stuff (at least for an infomaniac like me). It’s trying to write something meaningful or useful which the link can augment that’s tough.

    Speaking of tough writing, the Wall Street Journal subjected a bunch of college presidents to the torture every prospective student dreads: Write an essay selected from her/his own institution’s entrance application.

    Interesting reading, and believe it or not, one college president wrote about a deceased chipmunk in the house, courtesy of her cat. Forget the swine flu, there must be a chipmunk pandemic going on.

  44. AndreaC says:

    @hairball, there’s still New Hampshire, though they’re on their way.


  45. Ali says:

    What back lash has there been about the New England States legalising same sex marriage? ? You can’t tell me the evangelicals are taking it lying down?!? Why it could ever be considered against Christian interests to support committed loving relationships – I don’t know? – but they seem to have a lot of power and influence in the US. So the question remains where, how and when is the back lash?

  46. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Andrea C

    Whoops, counting my chickens before they hatch. You’re right, the NH governor has yet to sign (or veto) the legislation which is scheduled for a vote today in the NH House (it’s expected to pass, but there’s no word on what Democratic Gov. John Lynch will do).

  47. hairball_of_hope says:


    …”You can’t tell me the evangelicals are taking it lying down?!?”

    Uh, last time I checked, the missionary position WAS lying down. I don’t think they take it standing up!

    (Oh smack me, I couldn’t resist)

  48. an australian in london says:

    @MC – thanks for the recommendations!

  49. an australian in london says:

    @ Cécile de Luxembourg – Ich schaue mal, aber leider kann ich Franzoesisch nicht! Thanks for the suggestion! :0)

  50. Ali says:

    @hoh touché.
    @ginjoint – just broke my speakers so that gem of a song will have to wait for another day – although that you couldn’t get it out of your head doesn’t exactly recommend it. I already get enough looks singing “everyone’s a little bit queer” absentmindely at the check out.
    @ an australian in london – very impressed by the lingo – are you sure you’re not an austrian in london?!
    By the way with all the off topic posts – if there is such a thing – what exactly is the topic. If I knew i would google image it – after a dung beetle image search i just did for my own blog – it is surreal what comes up. Admittedly I did it for knitted dung beetles – as my friend likes crochet – but still… for those of your who are interested in the sublime to the ridiculous check it out at

  51. hairball_of_hope says:

    One step closer in New Hampshire… the NH House has passed the same-sex marriage legislation. It now moves to the governor’s desk for signature or veto.

    The bill makes a distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage, would take effect 1/1/2010, and would automatically convert NH civil unions to marriages on 1/1/2011, unless the couple moved to convert it earlier.

    “Any person … may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender,” the bill states.'s+desk&articleId=fdac91bf-bc90-4d2b-9068-909f754000fe

  52. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Big gay Maine blueberry pancakes with big gay Vermont maple syrup for all!

  53. Aunt Soozie says:

    Ali, there’s a whole cult of people who adore making and/or collecting teeny tiny crocheted things… did you know that? It’s called Amigurumi.
    I learned that on flickr. I also learned on flickr that the shad tree (I had never heard of a shad tree either Maggie) is also known as the serviceberry tree… its service being to bloom and thereby indicate that it was time to bury the bodies of the people who had died when the ground was too frozen in the Winter. So there, in reference to topics we’ve come full circle.

    I wondered if Alison, having grown up hanging around the Fun Home, already knew the history of the shad tree??

    Also, uhm, if you didn’t see it make sure to click back and see my post about the Beaver Pageant… and now I won’t mention Beavers again, unless I find a amigurumi shaped like a beaver.. in which case I’ll be compelled to post a link.

  54. Aunt Soozie says:

    an amigurumi… for those perfectionists among us…

  55. hairball_of_hope says:


    Let’s round out that big gay breakfast a bit… sprinkle some big gay Connecticut nutmeg on those pancakes made with big gay Iowa wheat, pour a glass of big gay Massachusetts cranberry juice, and serve it on a big gay New Hampshire granite countertop (I couldn’t think of a NH food, sorry).

    Oh wait, this is a big gay breakfast at that place in downtown Portsmouth NH… what’s the new name of that restaurant across from the Portsmouth courthouse that used to be Karen’s Restaurant? Great food, and a nice fireplace too, but only open for breakfast and lunch. Can’t remember the new name, for years I ate there when it was Karen’s.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Hooray for New England!

    OT. RIP Augusto Boal,the Brazilian founder of Theatre of the Oppressed. His political views got him exiled from Brazil for a number of years,but he returned there when the country moved leftward. More details: (5/6/09)

  57. Feminista says:

    “Anonymous was often a woman.–Virginia Woolfe

  58. LondonBoy says:

    I love how the same-sex marriage map of the USA in Wikipedia is gradually acquiring more purple (their preferred colour for a state with same-sex marriage). Makes me wish we had it in England. Instead we have the tedious Mark Simpson writing in the Guardian that “there is little or no appetite now for gay marriage”, and shilling for civil unions instead. I despair of how the gay establishment in the UK has sold ordinary gay men and women down the river with their compromise. I don’t want some pale imitation of marriage, I want the genuine article. Anyway, congratulations to Maine for doing the right thing.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know if ENDA (the national Employment Non-Discrimination Act) was ever enacted? I was discussing it with a friend today, and I didn’t know.

  60. Ready2Agitate says:

    Sorry Mame & Hairball, but me thinks I beatchya to the punch at 5:57pm yesterday after hearing the news on Free Speech Radio News (FSRN) — which is why I shouted “Maine!!!” in the middle of an otherwise civil conversation. (why the blog sez 6:57 I’ve no idea – I’m in MA and the blog is, virtually I suppose, in VT, right? so why it’s always an hour later than east coast time – hunh.)

    Dunno abt ENDA but is everyone aware of the anti-DOMA flip-flop campaign? How fun is this?

    Asking President Obama to keep his promise on DOMA

  61. Alex K says:

    @Maggie J: Shad, the fish; like salmon, living in salt and spawning in sweet water. Shad runs: A spring event, when the adults migrate upriver and can, could, be caught in great numbers — shad are remarkably good eating (“sapidissima” is the species name), although impossibly bony; I suppose that in forager days they mattered more — and marked by serviceberry blossoming, or blooming, or blowing, of the shadblow / shadbush, now for short, the fish largely forgotten, simply the shad. How I learned it, anyway.

    @Aunt Soozie: I like that etymology. When we went to Vermont (civil union), we wondered at the large grey granite building inside the confines of the burying ground. More than a sexton would need for a pair of shovels and the mower, we thought, and enquired. To store winter corpses till the graves could be dug in spring, we were told. Every year there must have been a mort of winter corpses, or a mortally long winter…

  62. Maggie Jochild says:

    According to John McPhee, shad (the fish) are what saved the American Revolutionary troops at Valley Forge from surrender. At the point of starvation, the shad run came in and saved the day.

  63. Ali says:

    I thought the images of the acer looked a lot like what we in the UK, without a native moose, call snakebark maple. So I looked it up and the Arnold Aboretum at Harvard told me : Acer pensylvanicum…Common Name(s):
    Striped Maple
    Snake-bark Maple
    Having said that every other maple listed had snakebark maple as a synonym – which just goes to show that latin names make things clearer, just harder to pronounce. Talking of synonyms – in the UK we call the shad tree – June Berry but its proper/latin name is Amelanchier. I love that it is a harbinger of the retreating ground frost. Burials link us very nicely back to the previous but one post on composting of the dead. I wonder which plant or tre has the most synonyms or common names? Answers on a postcard??!?( sorry that is a BBC reference).

  64. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Anon, R2A

    Nope, ENDA was not enacted, and the last version of ENDA that was submitted in the House lacked protections for trans and gender identity. Foo.


    Maine legislature had passed the same-sex marriage bill when you posted the news from FSRN, but the governor had yet to sign it. Mame posted the news when the governor actually signed it into law.

    As for the NH bill, the governor has five days to sign, veto, or let it become law without his signature. I’ll bet he takes the chicken way out… let it become law without his signature.

  65. Ali says:

    Jonathan Man’s song for yesterday, or probably the day before, is one about a tidal wave of gay love that is going to wash Miss California away. She has certainly gotten up his nose! See link:

  66. Renee S. says:

    Excellent! I am sending the link to Mom now!

  67. DeLand DeLakes says:

    @ hairball:
    NH granite countertop! XD I can’t think of a single food indigenous to New Hampshire, either. That breakfast sounds delicious.

  68. AndreaC says:

    @anonymous, we’re still working on ENDA. It’s going to be reintroduced this session and we’ll need all hands on deck to keep gender identity in it!

  69. Ready2Agitate says:

    @hairball – I bow my hat low to you, madame! 🙂

    @ali – I haven’t gotten into the rockcookiebottom fella, but I did watch his perf on Letterman when AB first hooked us up with his link. And I”ll check this one out later – hee!

  70. an australian in london says:

    @ London Boy. “I don’t want some pale imitation of marriage, I want the genuine article.”
    I do hear what you are saying – symbolism is important. But yesterday I became a British citizen, because I am in a civil partnership with another British citizen. Now, as I have been told, you may be able to marry your same sex partner in various states of the US, but this does not confer any of the IMMIGRATION rights normally associated with marriage. Because immigration is a federal matter and thus state-recognised same-sex marriages have nothing to do with it.
    I am open to correction here – most of you are American, I assume, so you probably know better than me. But a few years ago I was talking to an Aussie woman whose girlfriend was American. They wanted to live together in the States and I said ‘can’t you get married in some states?’. She was the one that explained to me that such a marriage would NOT in fact give her the right to actually live in the same country as her girlfriend.
    So, the symbolism of the word marriage is all very well, but if it is a choice between that symbolism and the full and equal set of rights which the United Kingdom grants to same sex couples, then give me my civil partnership any day.
    To those of you in the US – I have no doubt that you will one day get this barrier to international relationships sorted out, and I do not mean to diminish the significance of your state by state achievements. When I go back to Australia later this year, my marriage (and yes, I call it a marriage, whatever the state chooses to call it) will have no legal status. I will be able to ‘register my relationship’, and still get a bunch of rights – and yes, that feels pretty crap compared to having something with a proper name like Civil Partnership. And yes having a civil partnership does feel in a small way like an impoverished condition compared to ‘being married’, ‘getting married’, ‘marrying’ and all the other grammatical permutations not yet permitted by the linguistically clumsy institution of civil partnership. Yet, fundamentally, as far as I am concerned, I have my full legal rights, and those are the most important things.

  71. LondonBoy says:

    Australian in London:

    Well, if you’re satisfied with what you’ve got, then I’m very happy for you, but it certainly wouldn’t satisfy me. I wasn’t aware of the immigration issue in the USA, but, like you, I have no doubt that they will get this sorted out. The more important thing is that you “have your full legal rights”. That’s just dandy.

    What I want is nothing to do with my “full legal rights”, because most of the time what matters to me is not my legal rights but my social rights. The Americans have got this right in a way that Europeans have not. In England I am offered “separate but equal”, and in the USA they know from bitter experience that “separate but equal” is not the same thing as “equal”. This has nothing to do with the law, and everything to do with my position in society. I have heard with my own ears people saying of gay couples “well, it’s just a civil partnership,” and “well, they’re ‘married’, but it’s one of those gay things” (complete with ‘inverted comma gestures’). Think about the majority of civil partnerships that you know of from personal experience: I don’t know a single one that has included the months of planning and anticipation, and the huge family gathering, that some straight weddings do. Indeed, the most well-attended ceremony I’ve been to only had about 20 people there, which is smaller than the smallest straight wedding in my experience, and most have been much smaller. Most of the time they seem to consist of a few friends, and are only announced to a few colleagues at work and to close family a few weeks before the event, if that. It’s as if we instinctively recognise that these aren’t the same thing as marriage, and we recognise this because they are not the same thing. The word “marriage” itself is the important thing, because it’s when we say that that we include ourselves in society in a way that straight people can fully and immediately understand. If I am married I have a particular social status hallowed by many centuries of cultural tradition, but if I am “civilly partnered” I merely have a legal relationship that has no meaning to the vast majority of the population: if they don’t understand it, they can’t empathise with how I feel, and however hard they try their actions and reactions to me will be laboured and artificial. It is well-known that the simple act of labelling people differently makes others treat them differently, and the same is surely true for the labels we give to relationships. The only way my relationship with another can “be” marriage is if it is “called” marriage; otherwise, the act of giving it a different name in and of itself creates and sustains a difference.

    Separate but equal is not equal. I’m happy you’re happy with your civil partnership, and certainly it’s better than nothing, but if you think your legal rights are the most important things, I pity the paucity of your imagination.

  72. Aunt Soozie says:

    R2A ,
    I think Hairball is a boy… but I don’t suspect he’d take offense to you calling him madame.

  73. Maggie Jochild says:

    Well, to raise a can o’worms late in the cycle:

    “Gender” protection is ALREADY the law of the land, if by that you mean protection against discrimination because of your gender. Laws against sexism, if you read them, mean you cannot treat someone badly simply because they are a particular gender and you have a limited (stereotype or offensive) definition of what that gender means. Title VII has already been successfully used to stop this kind of bias, and I wish to hell folks would use it more.

    The truth of the matter is, discrimination and violence against women, against lesbians, against gay men, and the bullying that schoolkids endure is almost all based on a disagreement (to understate it) about what “appropriate” gender behavior looks like. Dividing this into every smaller theoretical categories may be great for obtaining advanced degrees in academia, but in terms of legal rights and cultural inclusion, I personally believe the fragmentation approach has played right in the hands of conservatives. They WANT us to parse things narrowly and have to fight each battle in small clusters, instead of continuously pointing out that the dominant definitions of male and not-male are oppressive to all human beings, are wildly inaccurate, are racist and classist as well as being gender oppressive, and have no fucking biological basis in fact — not in actual scientific studies where the changes wrought on brain chemistry and even DNA by cultural conditioning are eliminated from the equation.

    Coalition (however we define ourselves) is what’s going to put them on the run, and where we’ll see the actual truth emerge from them: That anything not male, straight-appearing and masculine-worshipping, white, upper class, and Christian is Not Fully Human and not deserving of human rights.

  74. ksbel6 says:

    Wow…way to go Maggie…that is awesome!

    @LondonBoy & Australian: LondonBoy is correct. The US has legislation signed by President Clinton that says no state has to accept same-sex marriages from other states if they don’t want to (DOMA-Defense of Marriage Act). So there are no federal rights granted with the current marriages. Which is a big deal since federal tax is so much higher than state tax and married couples with dependents (children) get huge tax breaks. But, we are making steps.
    LondonBoy is also correct in that “separate is never equal” line of thought, however, we are a long way from actually correcting that huge mistake. For the most part, our inner city schools are predominately minority, while the suburbs and rural areas are predominately white. The suburbs have by far the most money since our public schools are mostly financed on property values, and the suburbs are where all the rich people live. Therefore, our rural and urban
    schools tend to have less money and therefore fewer resources. So, it is difficult to hire good teachers and then retain them. The school district I work in is rural and last school year we had a 52% poverty rate (which means that over half of our students meet the federal requirements for free or reduced lunch and breakfast). Our salaries are quite low when compared to those teaching the same material around St. Louis and Kansas City. So, we definitely still have “separate and not equal” in the good ol USA.

  75. hairball_of_hope says:


    That’s a fabulous analysis. Right on target about fragmenting being a method to weaken the opposition. It’s classic ‘divide-and-conquer.’

    The addition of women as a protected class under Title VII was a fluke. It was intended by its sponsor, Virginia Sen. Howard Smith, to be a deal-breaker in the legislation. He thought he could get some of the votes to shift to ‘NO’ by including what he thought would be received as a ludicrous amendment to the bill. “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” as Gomer Pyle would chant, the bill passed with protections for women.

  76. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Aunt Soozie

    As much as I’d have fun with some ambiguity here, I thought I had outted myself as a XX-chromosomed person a while ago. Probably in one of my patented rants… I think it might have been the misogynist resistor color code rant.

    To paraphrase that New Yorker cartoon, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a woman.”

    I identify as a woman, live as a woman, and am identified by others as a woman.

    Full disclosure: No ambiguity in my life, beyond pushing the envelope of what are considered “appropriate” expectations for XX and XY born persons and in challenging binarization where it limits human possibility and potential. I’m one of those XX-persons who endured negative crap as a kid for having interests in things socially-specified as appropriate only for boys (science, math, sports, cars, tools, technology). Thank you, public school system. I learned lots of lessons in how not to teach a child.

    But I come from a long line of smart, hard-headed women, and I am quite fortunate that I didn’t have any such sexist expectations placed on me by my family. I can cook a good meal, rewire the house, and rant about sports with equal ease. Whatever their other flaws, my parents didn’t foist gender-limited expectations on me. And for that, I am grateful.

    And the long line of smart, hard-headed women continues… (Oy, I can kvell now!)… one niece is finishing up her science PhD at an Ivy League school, another is getting her BA this month. Had a bit of a scare with the oldest rental daughter this week… she called Mom to say she was safe and locked down (she’s at Wesleyan), but then the word came out that the gunman was targeting Jews, more anxiety for all. She’s a smart, level-headed kid, I trusted her judgement on how to remain safe (Mom was in panic-pick-up-the-kid mode). Latest word is the gunman turned himself in yesterday, so now she’s gonna have to study for finals after all. 😉

  77. hairball_of_hope says:

    Analysis of the potential Supreme Court nominees from Bloomberg, all women. Also note there’s no mention of Kathleen Sullivan’s orientation:

  78. butchysmurf says:

    Between spring snowstorms, we took our geriatric dog around the East Gallatin wetlands and saw an interspecies smack-down. A Trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) chased and whacked an impertinent Canada goose (Branta canadensis). The brawl stirred up the pond and scattered the other waterfowl. We also saw coots, northern shovelers, teal, kingfishers, red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds, sandhill cranes, pelicans, mallard ducks, and one lonely western grebe. There’s lots of mating going on here in Montana, in what passes for spring.
    Our legislators are more interested in seceding from the union than facilitating civil union, gay marriage, or healthcare for poor families for crissakes. Reading about progress in other states, along with watching the bird migrations, helps me get through an endless mud season.

  79. hairball_of_hope says:


    Wonderful description of the wildlife. Thanks. I’ll bet the Canada goose had it coming to her/him, they are nasty interlopers just about everywhere. And they are horrifically prolific guano-producers. I recall a visit to someone’s home on a lake around here. It was impossible to sit on or touch anything in this woman’s backyard that wasn’t covered in Canada Goose guano. Yeech. The geese were AGGRESSIVE, they would challenge small dogs and cats in people’s backyards. They’d probably harrass small children too, but I didn’t witness it.

    I recall Judy Blunt’s description of Montana mud season in “Breaking Clean,” it seemed much worse than mud season in the Northeast.

  80. Aunt Soozie says:

    hoh… oh, duh, I thought I read somewhere back there where you outed yourself as a boy. hmmm… I gotta do some sudoku puzzles or something, work on that memory, use that brain…. before it’s too late!!

  81. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Aunt Soozie

    Nothing wrong with your memory… it just goes to show you how nebulous and arbitrary the binary gender classifications are. I’m sure your impression was formed based on whatever signals my writing gives off (are there online pheromones?), and your interpretation of those signals.

    I do recall making a conscious choice to out myself as female in something I wrote here. I was enjoying the anonymity and gender blur, and that’s fine for the occasional post in some meaningless blog somewhere. It’s also fine on technical forums where being visibly female can attract creeps, and/or can have the effect of diminishing the authoritativeness of one’s online voice.

    But when I ceased being a long-time lurker here (YEARS!) and decided to participate in this collection of random witty, intelligent, erudite, and thoughtful folks, it became more difficult to write meaningfully without some acknowledgement and grounding of who I am, where I’ve been, and what I’ve seen and done.

    I had a stint of about 12 years moderating online forums, some of them connected up with my work. When I closed that chapter of my life about 10 years ago, I decided to hang up my online persona for a while. It was hard at first, but I learned to be the silent observer in the room. Not easy for a loquacious person!

    Maybe it’s the magic of a half-century on Planet Earth. Maybe it’s the hormonal flux. Or perhaps the alignments of the planets. Whatever the reason, something in this online community of hearts and minds got me at my keyboard again.

    It’s still a pretty anonymous online existence for me. I don’t leave a ton of breadcrumbs in my wake on any forums, and whatever trails I’ve left, most of them are right here.

    And so, I should thank you all for that. Thank you. Reading this blog is often the best part of my day. I look forward to the interesting insights, opinions, and odd bits of information I gather here. I look forward to posting miscellaneous bits of the same.

    And a huge THANK YOU to Alison, for figuring out how to get a real community much like the fictional DTWOF interacting in her hosted space. I recall the dark (for me, anyway) days when PlanetOut dropped DTWOF and AB was trying to figure out how to post the strips online, and perhaps even make a living from it. I do wish she’d reconsider selling DTWOF tzchotchkes… I would gladly drink my coffee at work from a mug that says “Does anal-retentive have a hyphen?” or which spells out the “Mo Movie Test” criteria.

    In the back of my head, I imagine some of you saying “Shaddup already!”

    Ok. I’ll shut up.

  82. hairball_of_hope says:

    Hey Kate…

    (Geek alert…)

    The Wallops NASA launch is scheduled for tonight (5/8/09), launch window is 8-11PM EDT. Don’t know if the weather will hold up for the launch, it’s clear now but there’s a storm to the west that might move in by the launch window. It’s over Kentucky now, and sucking up moisture from the southeast, from what I can tell on the GOES-E satellite image. I’m guessing that if they don’t launch by 9PM, the weather will deteriorate and they won’t launch at all.

    (End geek alert…)

  83. iara says:

    @hoh, I think I was sure from the beginning you were the xx type. Perhaps because your online manner, rants, and passions remind me so much of someone who, for a while, additionally sported what could only be described as a massive hairball. At the time, her hair was very long (never cut) and during a very busy and stressful period it got totally out of hand – but she persevered! she did not cut it, which I imagine you not doing either if you got it into your head that you don’t cut your hair. Most likely you have quite short hair, but still…

  84. hairball_of_hope says:


    Actually, you’re close to spot-on about my hair. Long. And longer than usual these days, certainly longer than it’s been in years. I’m not in the corporate drag track these days, so I don’t have to deal with the fussed-over hair which required more frequent cuts, blowdry, and the occasional spritz of something to hold it in place.

    I love that it’s really low maintenance. Wash. Let air dry. Really simple.

    And just like the person whom I remind you of, during chaotic times I’ve just let it grow. Human head hair grows about 10-12mm a month (1/2 inch), so bypassing a few haircuts if you’ve got long hair is no big deal.

    I’m waiting until the last bit of all-dark strands have grown out to the point where I can lop them off, and then I’ll have the variegated-color look for a few years. Until it turns all silver, or until Ms. Clairol decides to have some fun with my hair. The latter is highly unlikely (it goes against my love of low-maintenance hair), but given the realities of the job market, I might have to opt for it if I end up job-hunting.

    Speaking of low-maintenance hairstyles just reminded me of something one of my parents’ friends had cut out of the Reader’s Digest and sent to them a zillion years ago. It lived on the refrigerator for many years:

    “My daughter’s idea of dressing up is to wash her hair and put on a clean T-shirt with no writing on it.”

    Forty years later, that still pretty much describes me to a T.

  85. Ready2Agitate says:

    omg Hairball is such a (beloved) dyke! (said with the utmost of respect & admiration :). I’da been shocked if she was male… plus, don’t she & Kate share the same brain…?

    Hey Aunt Sooz, can you repost YOUR beaver queen dance from 2007 again? I’ve now forgotten what our Aunt S. looks like as a queen Beaver lady. (Plus, for the newer-comers, I’m certain they’d all enjoy it too!) Fishscenta was favulous!

  86. hairball_of_hope says:


    In my experience, brain-sharing doesn’t have a correlation to chromosomal homogeneity.

    My best friend Peter lived his life as a gay male, and called himself a lesbian, a dyke, and at times, an honorary lesbian and/or dyke. And no doubt, he was one. We definitely shared parts of a brain. Perhaps if he had not spent the last decade or so of his life dealing with HIV/AIDS, he might have made some gender assignment choices. I don’t really know. But certainly he was more at home in my world than in his.

    I’m sure many of us know people (or are those people) who have found themselves in a relationship with someone who is not the expected gender (e.g. straight woman with another woman, gay man with a woman, etc.). Sometimes the right person comes along with an unexpected anatomical configuration, and the attractions and interests override the plumbing. (Think Stuart and Sparrow.)

    As I see (and experience) them, gender identity and sexual orientation are each on a continuum, not locked up in discrete integers, and not necessarily linked to one another.

    I think I’m going to take up ksbel’s recommendation of adding “Sexual Fluidity” to my reading list.

    I’ve been surprised on this blog a few times by folks who I’ve thought were one gender, and turned out to be another. And sometimes they’re in transition, which adds to the fun.

    I guess my point here is that without the visual cues, our experience and expectations of online community members can be way off base. Unless someone explicitly discloses that information (or implicitly leads us to it), we really have no way of knowing. And that assumes that the information revealed is honest and accurate.

    Of course, some of us leave a trail of breadcrumbs. And some of us are tossing the whole damn bakery out the back of the bread truck as it tootles on down the road.

  87. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L

    (another geek alert…)

    NASA scrubbed the launch tonight at T-4, around 10:50PM. Boo.

    (end geek alert)

  88. Aunt Soozie says:

    oh my… it’s painful to watch… just know that I did have bike shorts on
    under that lace dress and thong! that’s not really my ass you see..
    well, it is my ass
    but my ass in bike shorts!
    if you wanna see my talent entry you’ll have to be a little
    internet detective and check out the beaver lodge’s videos on youtube
    this link is my favorite talent performance from the 2007 pageant…
    he made me swoon!

  89. hairball_of_hope says:

    Interesting article on the nascent LGBT rights movement in Lebanon:

  90. an australian in london says:

    @ksbel6. Still smarting from having had ‘the paucity of my imagination’ ‘pitied’ by London Boy, I would like to point out that it was I who was correct about the lack of federal rights. Presumably noone is reading this now anyway as there is a new post up.
    I get it, London Boy, I do get it. Civil partnerships tend not to be the same rite of passage as straight marriages. Then again, as a woman I am not sure that I want to be connected to the ‘centuries of tradition’ you have referenced: – dowries, ownership, your property automatically belonging to your husband, no divorce rights, marriage nevertheless as the best option economically, unfaithful husbands, dutiful wives, virgin brides.
    Also, the modern wedding? Yet another opportunity for various businesses to sell you uneccessary goods at inflated prices because of a social pressure to ‘get it right’, from which I am quite grateful to have been liberated.
    In any case, the point I was trying to make is that if you call it marriage but it doesn’t come with all the rights of marriage, then there is a problem. Finally, may I make it explicit that I agree with you fundamentally about social rights. It’s just a shame that you chose to attack me personally in expressing your disagreement.

  91. Ginjoint says:

    LondonBoy, I agree with absolutely everything you said regarding the social aspects of marriage. But yeah, An Australian in London, the ending was kinda harsh, especially because we’re all basically on the same side of the fence here. I hope you stay, because I enjoy your comments. You too, LondonBoy. (Sorry. I’m not really good at soothing ruffled feathers between friends. That’s the best I’ve got.)

  92. iara says:

    hey, hey, people in London! Please play nice, I am still reading this! I think you both make excellent points, as Ginjoint says.

  93. Ready2Agitate says:

    Hear hear – rights, liberties, freedoms, justice. We all want and deserve ’em. A wonderfully biting joust perhaps, LBoy, but kinda mean-spirited and misdirected in this forum. We love ya’s both, smart people!

  94. ksbel6 says:

    @australian: sorry I didn’t make it clear, I thought I did, that you were correct. Stick around, international opinions are great to have. Also, there is sort of an unwritten rule that most folks check the number of comments for each post that shows up on the homepage. So, lots of people probably read your reply to mine to LBoy’s to your’s.

    @hoh: I certainly wish I could tell you that public schools today are completely free of stereotypes and everyone is happily learning, but alas, culture is very difficult to change. For the most part, girls still don’t want to be good at science and math. Boys don’t want to be good at communication arts. But there has been progress made and more students are realizing they can be good at everything. Certainly girls use their voices more today than they probably did when you were in school.

  95. ksbel6 says:

    @australian: So sorry, I just reread my earlier comment, I’m positive my brain knew what my fingers should have typed. So, once again, you were correct 🙂

  96. hairball_of_hope says:


    Well, that’s a hopeful sign. It’s good that girls are using their voices (and their smarts) more in school today. Equally good that boys are finding their voices in the communication arts.

    But judging from what some of my coworkers say about their kids, there’s another disturbing trend at hand. Minority kids (especially black) are “dumbing down” their behavior and participation in school.

    It’s viewed as “not cool” (and in some parts of the city, it’s actually dangerous) to be seen as smart, a good student, or “speaking white.” And while both boys and girls are falling prey to this destructive peer pressure, the parents say it’s falling harder on the girls, some of whom see their acceptance as a woman (read sexually active) as the goal, not the acquisition of education, future career, etc. Then the girl ends up pregnant at a young age, and that’s never a ticket to success.

    One black woman told me she put her kids in Catholic school even though they weren’t Catholic (and she had to get partial tuition scholarship assistance), just to keep her kids out of that sphere of influence in the public schools. “Those nuns mean business!” she said.

    I suspect that it’s not just the difference in peer pressure at the Catholic schools, and not just the nuns (and lay teachers). Parents take their involvement in the kid’s education more seriously if they have to fork over some of their own money, and likely are more apt to enforce limits on distractions and on completing homework assignments. No time for playing Nintendo if the homework isn’t done. Not when Mom and/or Pop is shelling out bucks for tuition, uniforms, etc.

    Now if only we could get parents and kids that serious about public school education.

  97. hairball_of_hope says:

    Somewhat related, but with a twist…

    After an absence of over 400 years, Scotland is getting its beavers back. No, Aunt Soozie and her pals are not moving across the pond.

    What caught my eye in this article was the following quote:

    The Eurasian beaver, whose Latin name is Castor fiber, was hunted to extinction in the U.K. for its fur, meat and castoreum — an anal secretion with pain-relieving properties, Jones said.


  98. ksbel6 says:

    @hoh: You friend is absolutely correct. I was hoping that Obama would hop right to that, but education somehow always end up at the bottom of the list.

  99. an australian in london says:

    @Ginjoint and Hairball of Hope – thanks for the feather smoothing. Feel better now!
    @London Boy – perhaps I too attacked you once over PE teachers. Sorry.

  100. Aunt Soozie says:

    aussie and london boy…
    I know, I know, I get riled up fighting over PE teachers too… happens frequently. so, I’m not really one to talk but in all honesty, I believe there are enough PE teachers to go around. What I’ve learned in my experience is that you can always share one when times are hard and PE teachers are scarce. All you need is an open mind and a king size bed. anyway, i had no idea it wasn’t just us lesbos who had a thing for PE teachers. You learn something new everyday.
    Aunt Soozie

  101. LondonBoy says:

    Australian in London:

    Yes, my last comment was harsh. Sorry if it upset you: I was angry (and I still am, though not with you… it’s just free-floating anger randomly directed). I’m strongly of the view that once again the lesbian/gay movement in the UK is being forced to settle for something less than our rightful slice of the pie, and what really annoys me is that it’s our (self-appointed) “leaders” who are doing this. Though I hate to admit this (because it’s not a tradition I generally have much sympathy with) real social change has to come from, and, I suspect, be demanded by, the people. Instead of a grassroots movement in the UK, for the last few years we’ve had a self-annointed group, Stonewall, claiming to speak for what lesbians and gay men want. Shamefully, the gay male community is so anaesthetised by consumerism, and our last generation so worn down by the battles over AIDS/HIV, that we are doing nothing. Things are, as always, better among the lesbian community, at least by comparison, but even there I have the sense that younger lesbians are more complacent than their elders. I wouldn’t mind the loss of revolutionary spirit if the revolution had been won, but (as Maggie, HoH and Ksbel6 amongst others have pointed out) we still have a long way to go. I’d like to finish the revolution before we put up our feet and relax.

    P.S. It’s entirely possible that we bickered over PE teachers, though I don’t remember.

  102. Anonymous says:

    where s that you.

    nice too meet you