Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Washington's "Take Charge" - free birth control services for low-income

Changes in eligibility for WA State's "Take Charge" (free birth control services for low-income folks) to change November 1

Young people who need Family Planning Services may be eligible for free contraceptive services under the TAKE CHARGE Program. TAKE CHARGE is a Medicaid Demonstration project with the goal of reducing unintended pregnancy in Washington State. STD screening and treatment is very limited under TAKE CHARGE but the program offers full coverage for contraceptive services for those at risk of an unintended pregnancy. Clients apply at the family planning providers’ office and not at the welfare office (CSO). All family planning clinics and most Community Health Clinics in Washington are TAKE CHARGE Providers. There are other providers as well. For a TAKE CHARGE provider nearest you, please call 1-800-770-4334 or visit the Medicaid Family Planning Website:

For teens seeking confidential services, eligibility is based on the person’s own income, not his or her family’s income, so most teens would qualify if they didn’t already receive medical coupons. And once a person is insured by TAKE CHARGE, they can even obtain free condoms and other non-prescription contraceptives from any drug store, as well as confidential, free check-ups and birth control from any participating clinic. A number of other states also have family planning waivers. To see if your state has a family planning waiver, check the CMS website at:

The Take Charge program was extended for three years starting July 1, 2006. On November 1, 2006, some changes will be implemented. In short:
  1. Clients will have to show documentation of identity and citizenship. Your students should call ahead to see what they need to provide. Since the citizen verification process could take several weeks, clients will be enrolled in Take Charge if all other eligibility criteria is met pending citizenship verification. If the verification process determines that the client is NOT a citizen, they will be disenrolled. But, at least at Public Health - Seattle & King County, clients will not be billed for services performed during the presumed eligible enrollment.

  2. Social Security Numbers are required for all Take Charge applicants regardless of age.

  3. Students should provide accurate income information. Income info is required only for the applicant, not for other family or household members.

  4. Clients who have insurance coverage that includes any kind of family planning services are not eligible for Take Charge. Exception: Clients under the age of 19 may be excluded from this rule on a case-by-case basis for confidentiality reasons.

  5. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screening and treatment are now covered when performed at the annual exam for female clients 13-25 years of age.

  6. When Plan B is available over-the-counter, Take Charge will cover it, regardless of the gender of the client, which means that we can dispense it to men over the age of 18 who request it. We will still be able to provide it to women, including those under age 18.

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it. - Abe Lincoln

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Gay Old Party Comes Out

New York Times, October 15, 2006

The Gay Old Party Comes Out
By Frank Rich - Op-Ed Columnist

PAGING Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council: Here's a gay Republican story you probably did not hear last week. On Tuesday a card-carrying homosexual, Mark Dybul, was sworn into office at the State Department with his partner holding the Bible. Dr. Dybul, the administration's new global AIDS coordinator, was flanked by Laura Bush and Condi Rice. In her official remarks, the secretary of state referred to the mother of Dr. Dybul's partner as his "mother-in-law." Could wedding bells be far behind? It was all on display, photo included:, on And while you're cruising the Internet, a little creative Googling will yield a long list of who else is gay, openly and not, in the highest ranks of both the Bush administration and the Republican hierarchy. The openly gay range from Steve Herbits, the prescient right-hand consultant to Donald Rumsfeld who foresees disaster in Iraq in Bob Woodward's book "State of Denial," to Israel Hernandez, the former Bush personal aide and current Commerce Department official whom the president nicknamed "Altoid boy" (Let's not go there.)

If anything good has come out of the Foley scandal, it is surely this: The revelation that the political party fond of demonizing homosexuals each election year is as well-stocked with trusted and accomplished gay leaders as virtually every other power center in America. "What you're really seeing is the Republican Party on the Hill," says Rich Tafel, the former leader of the gay Log Cabin Republicans whom George W. Bush refused to meet with during the 2000 campaign. "Across the board gay people are in leadership positions."

Yet it is this same party's Congressional leadership that in 2006 did almost nothing about government spending, Iraq, immigration or ethics reform, but did drop everything to focus on a doomed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The split between the Republicans' outward homophobia and inner gayness isn't just hypocrisy; it's pathology. Take the bizarre case of Karl Rove. Every one of his Bush campaigns has been marked by a dirty dealing of the gay card, dating back to the lesbian whispers that pursued Ann Richards when Mr. Bush ousted her as Texas governor in 1994. Yet we now learn from "The Architect," the recent book by the Texas journalists James Moore and Wayne Slater, that Mr. Rove's own (and beloved) adoptive father, Louis Rove, was openly gay in the years before his death in 2004. This will be a future case study for psychiatric clinicians as well as historians.

So will Kirk Fordham, the former Congressional aide who worked not only for Mark Foley but also for such gay-baiters as Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma (who gratuitously bragged
this year that no one in his family's "recorded history" was gay) and Senator Mel Martinez of Florida (who vilified his 2004 Republican primary opponent, a fellow conservative, as a tool of the "radical homosexual agenda"). Then again, even Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania senator who brought up incest and "man-on-dog" sex while decrying same-sex marriage ( has employed a gay director of communications. In the G.O.P. such switch-hitting is as second nature as cutting taxes. As for Mr. Foley, he is no more representative of gay men, whatever their political orientation, than Joey Buttafuoco is of straight men. Yet he's a useful creep at this historical juncture because his behavior has exposed and will continue to expose a larger dynamic on the right. The longer the aftermath of this scandal continues, with its maniacal finger-pointing and relentless spotlight on the Republican closet, the harder it will be for his party to return to the double-dealing that has made gay Americans election-year bogeymen (and women) for so long.

The moment Mr. Foley's e-mails became known, we saw that brand of fearmongering and bigotry at full tilt: Bush administration allies exploited the former Congressman's predatory history to spread the grotesque canard that homosexuality is a direct path to pedophilia. It's the kind of blood libel that in another era was spread about Jews.

The Family Research Council's Mr. Perkins, a frequent White House ally and visitor, led the way. "When we elevate tolerance and diversity to the guidepost of public life," he said on Fox News Channel, "this is what we get - men chasing 16-year-old boys around the halls of Congress." A related note was struck by The Wall Street Journal's editorial page,,
which asked, "Could a gay Congressman be quarantined?" The answer was no because "today's politically correct culture" - tolerance of "private lifestyle choices" - gives predatory gay men a free pass. Newt Gingrich made the same point when he announced on TV that Mr. Foley had not been policed because Republicans "would have been accused of gay bashing." Translation: Those in favor of gay civil rights would countenance and protect sex offenders.

This line of attack was soon followed by another classic from the annals of anti-Semitism: the shadowy conspiracy. "The secret Capitol Hill homosexual network must be exposed and dismantled," said Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media,, another right-wing outfit that serves as a grass-roots auxiliary to the Bush administration. This network, he claims, was allowed "to infiltrate and manipulate the party apparatus" and worked "behind the scenes to sabotage a conservative pro-family agenda in Congress."

There are two problems with this theory. First, gay people did not "infiltrate" the party apparatus - they are the party apparatus. Rare is the conservative Republican Congressional leader who does not have a gay staffer wielding clout in a major position. Second, any inference that gay Republicans on the Hill conspired to cover up Mr. Foley's behavior is preposterous. Mr. Fordham, the gay former Foley aide who spent Thursday testifying under oath about his warnings to Denny Hastert's staff, is to date the closest this sordid mess has to a whistle-blower, however tardy. So far, the slackers in curbing Mr. Foley over the past three years seem more straight than gay, led by the Buffalo Congressman Tom Reynolds, who is now running a guilt-ridden campaign commercial,,0,5098340.story , desperately apologizing to voters.

A Washington Post poll:
last week found that two-thirds of Americans believe that Democrats would behave just as badly as the Hastert gang in covering up a scandal like this to protect their own power. They are no doubt right.

But the reason why the Foley scandal has legs - and why it has upstaged most other news, from the Congressional bill countenancing torture to North Korea's nuclear test - is not just that sex trumps everything else in a tabloid-besotted America. The Republicans, unlike most Democrats (Joe Lieberman always excepted), can't stop advertising their "family values," which is why their pitfalls are as irresistible as a Molière farce. It was entertaining enough to learn that the former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed wanted to go "humping in corporate accounts" ( with the corrupt gambling lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The only way that comic setup could be topped was by the news that Mr. Foley was chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. It beggars the imagination that he wasn't also entrusted with No Child Left Behind.

Cultural conservatives who fell for the G.O.P.'s pious propaganda now look like dupes. Tonight on "60 Minutes," David Kuo, a former top official in the administration's faith-based initiatives program, is scheduled to discuss his new book recounting how evangelical supporters were privately ridiculed (,0,3875008.story?coll=la-home-headlines) as "nuts" in the White House. If they have any self-respect, they'll exact their own revenge. We must hope as well that this crisis will lead to a repudiation of the ritual targeting of gay people for sport at the top levels of the Republican leadership in and out of the White House. For all the president's talk of tolerance and "compassionate conservatism," he has repeatedly joined Congress in wielding same-sex marriage as a club for divisive political purposes. He sat idly by while his secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, attacked a PBS children's show (
because an animated rabbit visited a lesbian couple and their children. Ms. Spellings was worried about children being exposed to that "lifestyle" - itself a code word for "deviance" - even as the daughter of the vice president was preparing to expose the country to that lifestyle in a highly promoted book.

"The hypocrisy, the winking and nodding is catching up with the party," says Mr. Tafel, the former Log Cabin leader. "Republicans must welcome their diversity as the party of Lincoln or purge the party of all gays. The middle ground - we're a diverse party but we can bash gays too - will no longer work." He adds that "the ironic point is that the G.O.P. isn't as homophobic as it pretends to be." Indeed two likely leading presidential competitors in 2008, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, are consistent supporters of gay civil rights.

Another ironic point, of course, is that the effort to eradicate AIDS, led by a number of openly gay appointees like Dr. Dybul, may prove to be the single most beneficent achievement of this beleaguered White House. To paraphrase a show tune you're unlikely to hear around the Family Research Council, isn't that queer?

A healthy vital society is not one in which we all agree. It is one where those who disagree can do so with honour and respect for other people's opinions... and an appreciation of our shared humanity. - Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

GLBT Films

Films for Gay-Straight Alliances

For the Bible Tells Me So by Daniel Karslake, 2007, 99 min, Color, DVD

Filmmaker and Duke graduate of '87, Daniel Karslake's new film has been short-listed for an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary in 2007.

Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake's provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson -- we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

To view a trailer this film, visit:

See also:

New list from the Safe Schools Coalition: SHORT VIDEOS for your GSA?
NOTE: Safe Schools Coalition has NOT previewed these.

The Manual:
Sophie Gregg 2006 15 min. Australia
Sonny, an eight year old boy, is sent away from home because his father believes he has characteristics that could lead to homosexuality. After twenty four years of treatment and psychiatric institutions, Sonny returns home for a funeral, and attempts to save his seven year old niece from experiencing a similar fate.

Act of Faith:
Dan Bree 2002 6 min. USA
In the history of Islam, love between men is a centuries-old phenomenon. Yet Koranic tradition forbids choosing a mate of the same sex. Kyriell, an Imam’s son, struggled with reconciling his love for men with his love for Islam and eventually came back to the faith. Pakistani-born Arslan saw no compromise in Islam and discarded his religion, and Iftekar, a Muslim community leader, admits that Islam needs to be brought into the twenty-first century. Through the words of these men, the struggle of gay Muslims is revealed.

Junk Box Warrior:
Preeti AK Mistry 2002 5 min. USA
Based on a poem of the same title, Junk Box Warrior is an enchanting mesh of spoken word and black-and-white images over a haunting soundtrack. Written by and starring Trans Slam poet Marcus Rene Van (of Deep Dickollective), this film explores the alienation, frustration and fear of not fitting into society's gender binary.

Myth of Father:
Paul Hill 2003 28 min. USA
Director Paul Hill’s father, Jodie, is a transsexual woman. When she came out to Paul a few years ago, he began a journey to learn about who his father is. This stunning video documentary contrasts Paul’s relationship to his father with the relationship of his father and her own dad. Candid interviews provide reflections on Jodie’s youth: "He seemed to live the normal life. He was into cars, he was into rock bands, he went into the Army…married…child…" But no one really knew Jodie, as she explains, "No one knew who I was. I trashed relationships with everyone I knew, including my own son."

In My Shoes: Stories of Youth with LGBT Parents:
Jen Gilomen & COLAGE 2005 31 min. USA
In a time when LGBT families are debated and attacked in the media, courts and Congress, from school houses to state houses across the country, five young people who are children of LGBT parents give you a chance to walk in their shoes – to hear their own views on marriage, making change, and what it means to be a family. This film was produced by the COLAGE Youth Leadership and Action Program and directed by Jen Gilomen.

I was compiling a list of films for a GSA to show, and thought others might like to comment on or add to the list I came up with. Since the creation of this list, I've added links to IMDb to each film, and will be adding a note as to whether each film is available from KCLS and/or SPL. We should be ordering these films from the libraries so that they are made available to all:

In and Out (1997): (SPL, KCLS - VHS)

Ma vie en rose (1997): (SPL, KCLS - VHS)

Not specifically gay, but - Billy Elliot (2000): (SPL - VHS; KCLS - DVD, VHS)

Trevor (1994) is a sweet, short film about an important topic - suicide by gay teens: (KCLS - VHS)

Another short: Andre's Mother (1990), which was made for public TV. Very nice character study of two characters brought together by shared grief. Richard Thomas is more likeable than I've ever seen him, as Andre's grieving lover, and Sada Thompson as Andre's mother is *frozen*. In the scenes with her mother, played by Sylvia Sidney (who steals every scene she's in), you see the roots of her damage.

Haven't seen Bruno (2000), (AKA The Dress Code) but it looks suitable, and funny: (KCLS - DVD as The Dress Code; SPL - none)

Haven't seen Innocent (2005) yet, either. It is described as, "17-year-old Eric follows his parents to immigrate to Canada and is thus forced to confront different emotional and cultural problems. He must not only adjust to the new environment, but also come to terms with his homosexuality. Standing at the brink of adulthood, he encounters a series of potential romantic interests - his handsome cousin, a schoolmate, a middle aged lawyer and finally a kitchen helper. They represent different stages in Eric's development, from infatuation, sex, love to a sense of responsibility.

Edge of Seventeen (1998) - I don't see a rating, since it is Aussie:

Also unrated, but looks *wonderful* - La Ville dont le prince est un enfant (1997) or The Fire That Burns:

This one sounds good to me, but may be too quiet for a GSA - The Long Day Closes (1992)(unrated, UK):

My Own Private Idaho (1991) (I can't find a rating, but River Phoenix is prostituting himself):

Interesting, also NR - Olivier, Olivier (1992):

12-minute short on iFilms - The Seventh Sense:

Du er ikke alene (1978)(You are Not Alone):

Short documentary - Gay Youth (1992)(40 min):

Doc. - The Times of Harvey Milk (1984):

35 min doc. - Let's Get Real (2004):

One of my favorites is Philadelphia (1993):

Another is Maurice (1987):

The Laramie Project (2002):

(Aus.) Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (1994):

Saved (2004) has a cute gay sub-plot:

M. Butterfly (1993) was a revelation. Such sensitive, beautiful acting, and an excellent riff on the operatic tale of Madame Butterfly. Jeremy Irons, always excellent, plays René Gallimard, based on a historical character, who is in fact still alive. John Lone as Song Liling is electrifying.

Too bad these are R:

Latter Days (excellent!):

Yossi & Jagger (2002):

Beautiful Thing (1996) (UK):

Like It Is (1998): (Roger Daltry -- but boxing? Aus.)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001):

Of course as soon as I clicked the post button, I remembered more. A couple more R-rated, but they are biographies, so maybe you can slide by.....

* Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End (1996):

Piñero (2001) (Benjamin Bratt stars):

** Before Night Falls (2000) (Javier Bardem):

Basquiat (1996):

Super intense - Boys Don't Cry (1999) (Hilary Swank):

Gia (1998)(R):

Love! Valour! Compassion! (1997):

Torch Song Trilogy (1988):

Better Than Chocolate (1999):

Revoir Julie (1998):

Orlando (1992):

Trick (1999) (R):

The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000):

Mysterious Skin (2004)(NC-17): -- very intense, prostitution, and very disturbing violence. Wonderful performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The Cockettes (2002), was a total trip back to the late Sixties San Francisco. I adore this film, and anyone who cares about gay history, the Sixties, art or drama should SEE THIS FILM! As John Waters so wisely said, "the Cockettes were basically complete sexual anarchy. which is always a good thing." Brief views of bare breasts and penises, and frank discussion of drug use. This is a documentary of the Sixties. :-)

La Mala educación (2004) (Bad Education) (NC-17/R):

Burnt Money (Plata quemada) (2000), is a wonderful Argentine film based on a true crime story. Leonardo Sbaraglia as El Nene and Eduardo Noriega as Ángel burns up the screen. Pablo Echarri as El Cuervo is crazysexy as hell, too! Dolores Fonzi as Vivi also shines on the screen. If sex, drugs, nudity and crime offend you, this is not your film. But if magnetic characters walking and even dancing to their doom is your style, check it out! Probably not suitable for most high school GSAs, in the US anyway.

Also, in my wonderful queer film group over at, the following places to research and order films were recommended:

Strand Releasing:

TLA Releasing:

Popcorn Q Movies:

IMDb: (obviously, I use this one constantly)

Suggestions from the GSA group where I originally posted my lists:

Camp (2003): (PG-13)

The Birdcage (1996): (R-?!)
Of course there is always the original: La Cage aux folles (1978):

The Truth About Jane (2000): (TV movie)

Three to Tango (1999): (PG-13)

Paragraph 175 (2000) is a good documentary about how the Nazis persecuted gays:

Hairspray (1988): (PG)

I came across a SUPER list tonight, with short summaries of each of the listed films: and Listmania! Gay Films You Might Have Missed:

Why are so few of these gay, independent films not known even in the community?

Mark mentioned at the recent annual Seattle PFLAG meeting that most of the gay related movies were independent and that people seemed to be unaware of the majority of them. He says, "This documentary should shed light on why this is the case, from what I read in the review, which is on page 57 of the Advocate, September 26, 2006 issue."
Rated G for “greedy”

This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Directed by Kirby Dick, IFC Films

In his new documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Kirby Dick goes well beyond indicting the top-secret rating system of the Motion Picture Association of America. His real subject is the greed of the Hollywood studios and how they use the rating system to suppress independent films, especially those with queer characters.

Brokeback Mountain notwithstanding, indie filmmakers produce most queer screen content. Unfortunately for these artists, the MPAA maintains rigid control over commercial releases through a secret panel of screeners who often label gay sex as ‘aberrational behavior.’ Regardless of the artistic intent, filmmakers adding a little boy-on-boy action are headed for an NC-17 rating and all that it implies: advertising restrictions and limited releases.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated presents an overview of the rating system’s hypocrisy, including how sex (gay and straight) is censored four times more often than even the most brutal violence. With the help of a dyke private investigator, Kirby aggressively pursues the identities of the secret screening board members in an effort to understand their maddeningly inconsistent judgments. While the investigation techniques tend to be a bit pathetic, the findings are damning—the panel turns out to be a glaringly white and heterosexual group of ‘concerned parents’ sometimes augmented by Catholic and Episcopal priests.

Kirby obviously had a soft spot in his heart for queer filmmakers, beginning his film with the travails Kimberly Peirce faced in releasing her Academy Award-winning Boys Don’t Cry. He compares, for example, the sexual content of Peirce’s film, which received an NC-17, with the hetero horniness of American Pie, which skated by with an R.

The MPAA, which emerges in Kirby’s film as a creature of the Hollywood studios, wraps itself in the cloak of morality. But like so much in the United States, what the MPAA presents as protecting children is much more about protecting profits. And it’s clear that gay visibility on the silver screen suffers for Hollywood’s greed.

—Patrick Moore (September 26, 2006 issue of The Advocate, p. 57)
Often we seek to grow or change ourselves by adjusting the external aspects of our lives. We all too often forget that permanent or real change only comes when the center of our being, our inner drives and motivations, undergoes transformation. - Errol Strider

Monday, October 09, 2006

Cleanliness is next to godliness

I didn't write this, and don't know who did -- I got it as an email forward. It stirred up a lot of memories, though.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness is an adage that you don't hear much today. Almost everyone unconsciously has cleanliness high on their list of priorities. However, cleanliness was not so easy to achieve in generations past. Whoever did the wash, women and Chinamen mostly, can thank Nikola Tesla for inventing the generator that produced AC...transmittable electricity, which took the worst of the drudgery out of washing and ironing clothes.

Before electricity became commercially viable circa 1915, wash days were real bummers. Water had to be heated on the stove, and poured into wash tubs to mix with cold water...too much and you were in hot water, too little, and dirt persisted. Some homes had cisterns; underground brick and mortar tanks which held runoff rainwater, which was soft water that dissolved dirt faster and better when the washer woman, usually the mother or older daughters, scrubbed them by rubbing them up and down on a scrub or wash board after soaping them with a bar of home made lye soap. The small cistern pump was an innovation and when some one thought of putting it in the wash room which some other innovator thought up, labor was saved and Mondays made easier.

Washing for the family was such an ordeal that Mondays were designated wash days, the original bad hair days...don't mess with Mama on Monday. Clothes lines were outdoors, and in the winter the clothes froze. If they were gray or still dirty, you didn't hang your dingy clothes on the line for the neighbors to see. Hanging and taking down the clothes could be done by anyone...even boys. On rainy days, if the family was lucky, they hung in the basement...unlucky, the kitchen or anywhere in the house where there was room. Needless to say, in some families, clothes were worn longer and dirtier than today.

On Tuesday, there was ironing to be done, after sheets, pillowcases, shirts, dresses, pants, even handkerchiefs had been sprinkled and rolled on Monday night. They were first ironed with flat irons heated on the wood stove, and the temperature tested by the ironer touching it with a saliva moistened finger. Ouch? Too hot and the clothes were burned, too cool and wrinkles persisted.

For many farm families, with no electricity, these days lasted until the 1940s and even later.

Yankee ingenuity was always at work trying to make these jobs easier, and the person doing the dirty work...happier, or a least less harried. Many innovations plugged away at it, including washing machines, which had a reciprocating washboard, called an agitator in the center which was turned back and forth by a handle which was a lever attached outside the machine and thus dispensing, with the scrub or wash board. Wringers consisted of two rubber rollers held fast in a frame which were turned by an attached handle. Clothes were fed and drawn into them and the water was squeezed out as they passed through, thus saving the effort of hand wringing (hence the warning to amply endowed women).

Cleanliness was not a fun enterprise. Those who could afford it, hired help. Those who couldn't or didn't, found incentives to inculcate it as a rewarding thing to do. Godliness was the carrot and the fear of the neighbors gossip was a stick, but there was also the reward of looking and smelling nice and feeling good. Frumpy was not good. Body odor was not good. Pride was a motivator. Scrubbed clean and in clean, starched, unwrinkled clothes, kids were a source of pride.

After electricity took much of the labor out of heating, washing and wringing, innovations were accelerated, as wage earner husbands wanted to please, and although it just occurred to me, and I have no verification other than the obvious, I suspect that Mondays begat Monday nights and the phrase, I'm too tired. Whatever, whole industries arose that catered to making cleanliness easier. Scores of irons evolved, always toward making them lighter and more efficient. The steam iron was a biggie. Then wash and wear and permanent press liberated moms somewhat.

In our home town, the Dexter Washing Machine Co. came out with a sure winner: a double tub machine, and clothes were washed twice and rinsed twice in rinse tubs. When the automatic washer was invented, Mondays lost much of their negativity. With dryers and electronic controls washing became still easier, and cleanliness had become an unconsciously accepted central part of our lives. Every supermarket has aisles full of soaps, softeners, bleaches, spot removers, etc. The man who thought up the dryer sheet is now a millionaire several time over.

However, all that is prologue for the central message of this essay. Our generation was raised by mothers and fathers who had seen the worst of the drudgery of washing and ironing. Relatively few women were employed outside of the home. Our fathers did their best to provide our mothers with the latest labor saving devices. Women were proud of their double tubs, steam irons, and water heaters, many of which were bought during the depression when money was very scarce. You might say they were expressions of love and concern for their wives. There could have been other motivations, but lets stick with love and concern.

So, when kids, especially girls, saw their mothers with the latest labor saver, they saw happier mothers and evidence of a good father was imprinted also. Mothers on the other hand, found it helpful to have compliant daughters. Besides doing the dirty work, it was their job to shape their daughters' attitudes. Many hands make light work, they said, and added the mantra: Cleanliness is next to godliness. They even let their small four or five year olds help iron and wash out undies...starting them out on handkerchiefs and progressing to white shirts, the hardest.

They admonished, showed by example and the wisest sang a cheerful tune, knowing that, among other things, their daughters' family's cleanliness and reputation depended somewhat on her. So, it was a lucky girl who grew up washing clothes with her mother on Mondays and ironing them on Tuesdays, and who never hung dirty laundry, real or metaphorical, out to dry.

You who take cleanliness and neatness for granted because laundry does not steal your Mondays and Tuesdays, and because cleanliness seems good, might thank your lucky stars that your great grandmama was an excellent teacher, and that your grandma, and mama were imprinted with such lessons. Last but not least, you might consider and realize that when your grandmother was washing those clothes and especially when she was ironing them when your parents were kids, she loved doing for her kids, and she loved seeing them looking good, and I suspect that she loved thinking about them as she ironed their clothes, some of which she or her mother had hand made.

To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it more fit for its prime function of looking forward. - Margaret Fairless Barber

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Washcloth - women only!

Hilarious email forward from my dear sister Kimberly:
I was due for an appointment with the gynecologist later in the week. Early one morning, I received a call from the doctor's office to tell me that I had been rescheduled for that morning at 9:30 am. I had only just packed everyone off to work and school, and it was already around 8:45 am.

The trip to his office took about 35 minutes, so I didn't have any time to spare. As most women do, I like to take a little extra effort over hygiene when making such visits, but this time I wasn't going to be able to make the full effort.

So, I rushed upstairs, threw off my pajamas, wet the washcloth that was sitting next to the sink, and gave myself a quick wash in that area to make sure I w as at least presentable. I threw the washcloth in the clothes basket, donned some clothes, hopped in the car and raced to my appointment.

I was in the waiting room for only a few minutes when I was called in. Knowing the procedure, as I'm sure you do, I hopped up on the table, looked over at the other side of the room and pretended that I was in Paris or some other place a million miles away.

I was a little surprised when the doctor said, "My, we have made an extra effort this morning, haven't we?" I didn't respond. After the appointment, I heaved a sigh of relief and went home. The rest of the day was normal - some shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc. After school when my 6 year old daughter was playing, she called out from the bathroom, "Mommy, where's my washcloth?" I told her to get another one from the cupboard.

She replied, "No, I need the one that was here by the sink, it had all my glitter and sparkles saved inside it."

A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults. - Charles Kingsley