Oh baby, this could be hairy

Just when you think the headlines can’t get any more eye-popping, along comes a story about underarm hair for women making a comeback as a potential tool of empowerment.

There was a brief period when some women in the Flower Child movement grew underarm hair. But that was long ago and today those women are probably more concerned about thinning hair on top of their heads.

In any case, many things come to mind at the mention of empowering women but growing underarm hair has never been high on the list. It’s never been anywhere on the list. But that’s just me, and if you think underarm hair would be empowering, by all means go for it.

The only reason I lingered on that story is because I was scarred by a woman’s underarm hair years ago. I was giving birth at the time to our second child.

All our children were born in Oregon where nearly every woman delivered with a midwife, either at home or in a hospital. Strong women delivered at home; weak women delivered at the hospital. I was weak. Perhaps if I’d grown underarm hair. Oh well.

The beloved midwife I’d seen throughout my pregnancy was out of town and an on-call midwife attended my labor and delivery. She leaned over me as we settled into the birthing room and I noticed a tool of empowerment – armpit hair.

I knew then and there that I was toast. Not just plain toast, but 9-months-pregnant-and-about-to-deliver toast. Any chance of pain relief would be slim. I was dealing with an empowered non-shaving woman. But even as an unempowered shaving-woman, that did not stop me from asking if I might have something for the pain—or “discomfort,” which was the preferred term.

She said she didn’t think medication was necessary. Of course, she didn’t think medication was necessary; she wasn’t the one in labor.

She suggested I was tensing up (got that one right, sister!) and that I could ease the discomfort by relaxing my jaw.

Growing more empowered with each intense contraction, I responded that the pain was not in my jaw. The pain was nowhere near my jaw.

She said she understood, then told me that my face looked tense. That underarm hair must have been incredibly empowering, because no woman in her right mind risks telling another woman in hard labor that her face looks tense.

The details have grown fuzzy over time but, as I recall, the conversation about my discomfort escalated, the husband scrambled for cover behind a small bedside table, I relaxed my jaw and in turn was given a med, which I am pretty sure was a placebo.

I thanked the midwife for her assistance when the delivery was over. Then I cradled that baby girl close and told her not to worry about being born bald because she would grow up to be a strong woman no matter what.

If women’s underarm hair is growing (pun intended) in popularity, I predict it will be like so many other passing fads—hair today, gone tomorrow.

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Give peas a chance

The vegetable garden yield this season is less than we hoped, but the corresponding weight loss has been a pleasant surprise.

Yesterday’s count on peas was 44. That was actual peas, not peapods.

The grandkids, taking great interest in the garden, were the ones who picked and shelled the most recent round. When we sat down to lunch, there were the 44 peas on the table in a small glass bowl, cooked and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper.

As the bowl circled the table, I thought maybe someone would pray that God would multiply the peas like Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves, but no one did. The peas did not multiply.

Despite meager servings, everyone said they were the best peas they ever had, although I personally thought that No. 1, 2 and 3 were good, but No. 4 was tasteless.

I have often wondered how early settlers, and people today who truly live off the land, survive?  It was not on peas, I can tell you that.

Most likely they survived on cherry tomatoes. Ours are exploding. The basil is thriving as well, so if push comes to shove, we could live on bruschetta. Of course, that will be providing we find a plant that grows baguettes.

The cucumbers are so slow developing that if they don’t pick up some size soon, our hopes of cucumber sandwiches may be reduced to paper-thin slices of teeny, tiny cucumbers on croutons.

By contrast, the green beans are splendid. We had some for dinner the other night. They weren’t large servings, more like scant servings you get at high-end restaurants where they charge you more for serving you less.

In any case, when you’ve had fresh green beans, you lie awake at night wondering what it is they sell in the cans. They look like green beans, but they sure don’t taste like green beans.

It’s nice to have small helpers in the garden. My brother and I used to help our grandma around the farm sometimes. My brother liked gathering eggs. There were only two eggs one morning. Grandma handed them both to him and noticed he was holding them behind his back. When they got back to the house, the eggs were cracked.

“What happened?” she asked.

“They were fighting,” he said, age four. Some of your best storytellers are under the age of six.

I’m considerably over the age of six, but I may have told the youngest grand a tall tale when I said the raspberries we were picking were like candy.

“Pop one in your mouth,” I said. “They’re even better than candy.”

She popped one into her little mouth, ate it and broke a smile that could light the LaGuardia runway at night.

So then she had another and another and only five raspberries made it into the house, barely enough to keep two of the seven dwarfs alive.

You should see the teeny, tiny raspberry tart I plan on making.

The garden yield may be down, but the memories are growing just fine.

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The newsbreak that can lower your blood pressure

I ran into a friend recently who asked if I knew she had “quit” a year ago. She said she simply knew it was time and went “cold turkey.”

“Congratulations,” I said. “That’s amazing. Any withdrawal issues?”

“The FOMO (fear of missing out) was terrible,” she said. “I was restless and on edge, second-guessing my decision. Then came eating my way through stress. I gained weight, but I started sleeping better.”

Another friend confided that she has been tapering off gradually. “I don’t indulge until after 7 in the evening. Even then, I try to limit myself.”

She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head as if reliving a bad dream.

What are they quitting? Social media. Mainstream media. Anything that glues you to a screen for hours on end, recycles the same stories at the top and bottom of the hour and ratchets up your blood pressure.

A neighbor put a total block on herself. No local news, no national news, no phone alerts, not even funny political memes in texts and emails for two weeks.

“It was refreshing,” she said. “I didn’t feel so agitated all the time or want to punch a hole in the wall. My husband said I even stopped thrashing in my sleep and yelling out, ‘Liar, liar!’ It was wonderful.”

She looked away, head down. A giant tear rolled down her cheek.

“What happened?” I asked.

“I fell off the wagon. I thought I’d just have a look. You know, just a little one. But then, one news website led to another news site— and—and —” She began sobbing gently.

“What is it?” I asked, putting my arm around her. “You can tell me.”

She wailed, shoulders heaving, nose running, tears smearing mascara.

“Oh, no. Tell me you didn’t!” I shrieked. “Did you?”

“Yes!” she wailed. “I began reading (sob) the (sob, sob) comments. WWAAAAAHHHHHH!”

Nothing can take you out faster these days than reading too far into the comments.

The issue is not whether there is bad news. There’s a bounty of it. The issue is the blaring megaphone that doesn’t just deliver the bad news, but amplifies it, intensifies it and relentlessly recycles it.

Every news story is a “breaking news” story.

Every piece of “new information,” is a “bombshell discovery.”

You find yourself worked up about crime in a small town in Iowa, but you don’t live in Iowa. You’ve never even been to Iowa.

This approach was once known as yellow journalism. It built empires.

Sensationalism keeps readers, viewers, clickers and scrollers coming back for more. Sensationalism drives traffic and traffic drives advertising rates.

Maybe it’s time to quit being driven and get in the driver’s seat.

Take some time to swap out your blue screen for a blue sky. The view will do you good. Your heart rate might even go down.

Spend face time with real friends in real life. A good friend is often a good counselor.

Break away from Twitter and find some real birds. They’re fabulous in the mornings. They might be shooting bad news back and forth, but thankfully you don’t speak bird.

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Will the next Elon Musk please step forward

We may have some budding entrepreneurs among us. We don’t know how. It didn’t come from our gene pool. I take that back. It may have.

Years ago, we were at a function where people were asked to share their first job. The husband recounted his venture into the wild world of fortune eggs. Age 8. His mother had shown him how to hollow eggs by tapping small holes in either end of a raw egg and blowing out the contents. He hollowed out some eggs, wrote fortunes copied from the daily horoscope on small slips of paper and inserted them into the empty shells.

He took them to school and sold them to his second-grade classmates. I don’t remember having pocket change in second grade. He must have traveled in affluent circles. In any case, he sold fortune eggs. Until the teacher put a stop to it.

If only the teacher had encouraged him. Who knows how wealthy we might have been today.

What entrepreneur hasn’t known the sting of defeat?

Our kids briefly ventured into the world of small business as youngsters with a Junior Achievement program. The girls made hair bows marketed under the name Bowtique. Our son made bug boxes. The takeaway from their experience was that expenses can quickly exceed profits.

Our son’s highest profit margin probably came when he was five and went door-to-door selling rocks to the neighbors for 50 cents a stone. I put the kibosh on that and a year later Pet Rocks became all the rage.

As a teen, he had 30-plus lawn customers when he left for college. He took a mower to campus with him hoping to continue the income stream. Soon after blanketing an upscale neighborhood with flyers promoting himself as a college student experienced in lawncare, he was contacted by the college administration office informing him that he could not use the University logo for business purposes. He’d unknowingly left a flyer at the home of the University President.

Now the next generation is dipping their toes in the water.

A half dozen grands sold goods at our neighborhood garage sale. The lemonade stand did quite well, most likely due to the pricing. The lemonade was free—but the cup cost 50 cents. Oh, and UPS, Amazon and FedEx drivers got free lemonade with unlimited refills. Our shoes still stick to the kitchen floor, but they made enough to buy pizza for dinner.

One offered handmade ink and wash notecards of river wildlife. Sales were less than brisk. I did my part. My quandary now is whether to use stationery of muskrats, otters and crawfish for birthday cards or sympathy notes.

One of the grands spent days before the sale cranking out cake pops, Oreo fudge and dog treats, each individually wrapped. Presentation is everything.

Her biggest sellers were the dog treats. Her biggest buyer may have been her brother. He made for great marketing, demonstrating how the dog treats made of peanut butter, whole wheat flour, applesauce, cinnamon and salt, were also edible for humans as people bought them for their dogs.

The baker cleaned up big time, netting a sizable bundle of bills. Unfortunately, not everyone can be a Warren Buffet. Still, it was a good experience, and all were pleased that the one who ate the dog treats did not bark in his sleep.

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