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$Monday: Grant Her Your Clearness of Sight

If you have a daughter, you may recognize this excerpt from Neil Gaiman's picture book Blueberry Girl .  Ladies of grace and ladies of favor and ladies of merciful night, This is a prayer for a blueberry girl. Grant her your clearness of sight. Words can be worrisome, people complex, motives and manners unclear, Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right, free from unkindness and fear.  This week, I took my daughter to the optometrist for her annual new pair of glasses. Unfortunately, she has inherited my severe myopia. Fortunately, she has access to comprehensive vision care , which has a huge return on investment (ROI) across the lifespan, allowing her to succeed academically. (America, maybe soon we can finally achieve comprehensive health, vision, and dental care for all children!) While I never would have chosen for my daughter to inherit my nearsightedness, there are always unique experiences available to those who perceive the world differently. My daughter receives the a

$Monday: Own Your Moneymaker

Ladies, gentlemen, humans of every gender and sexuality or none whatsoever, take care of your reproductive health. Nobody has a right to your sexual or reproductive choices but you, and knowing that all the way through your guts and juices and bones is essential to financial wellness. Reproductive autonomy is economic power. How many children to have and when to have them can be the most financially significant decisions of a person's entire life. This is obvious. But so is sexual autonomy, aside from reproduction. In any culture that controls human sexuality through shame, people (especially the disabled, children, and women, but all people) are at risk of being manipulated--sexually harassed, exploited, traumatized, or threatened--using the lever of public shaming over one's body and/or sexuality. These manipulations cost people jobs, productivity, creativity, confidence, social power, and physical health. Kidnapping and rape survivor Elizabeth Smart is a great resource

How Diverse Friendships Elevate Our Family Dinners

And not just because we learn new recipes. Our friendly relations with immigrants and second-generation Americans from all over the world, from casual encounters to long friendships, have benefited each member of my family and our shared dinners together by nourishing us with knowledge, inspiration, cultured openness, and fresh ideas about food, health, cooking, responsibility, gratitude, respect and appreciation for differences, the variety of sensory pleasures available to the human heart and palate, and the sacredness of shared mealtimes. It is tragic to me that so many Americans--white and white-passing and others too--fear racial diversity due to misleading stereotypes and the brutal trauma of institutionalized racism in our nation.  And maybe, for some, due to some throwback tribalism inherited from way-back, animalistic ancestors who really didn't know how to cook and ate a lot more dirt, sand, and parasite-infested raw meat than what is imagined by fans of 21st century &quo

A Good, Clean Spring Break

Happy Easter Monday! Today, vaccine eligibility in Michigan extends to all adults!! Those vaccines cannot be rolled out quickly enough here in Michigan, currently the #1 state to catch coronavirus. Michigan's infections have blown up over the past month, reaching the height of last fall's surge with no sign of turning a corner yet. Many people are so mentally done with the pandemic that they are living in complete denial by now, traveling for fun and getting faced in restaurants and bars and socializing sloppily with pretty much anyone, while our state and local governments live in fear of violent uprisings against any new public health measures, so vaccines are our only hope. My parents and my husband will soon receive their second shots, and I hope to get an appointment for my first shot soon. However, our preteen daughter won't have a vaccine available to her age group (which is leading this current surge) until next year. So while we are celebrating, we're being goo

$Monday: A Room of Her Own (Pandemic Tween Bedroom Makeover)

Before the pandemic struck, my family had planned to use every last bit of our spare time and cash in 2020 on badly needed updates to our deteriorating kitchen and main bathroom. We were going to start the work in the spring or summer, when we could have windows open for ventilation (just for the dust and fumes! ha!), and then the pandemic came along and shifted our priorities. We spent part of our stimulus check on an electric log splitter, a new fridge and dishwasher to replace our breaking-down old ones, and one professional plumbing fix. We postponed all cosmetic and non-emergency kitchen and bath work, made ourselves a temporary pantry in a torn-out hole in our kitchen, and invested the rest of our renovation funds (and my year's worth of vacation time) into a bedroom makeover for our nine-year-old daughter. The pandemic made it less important (because we aren't having guests inside the house) and more dangerous (because of the likely need to bring in professionals) to co

Good Lighting Is Happiness

If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely. – Roald Dahl In the photo above, Gretchen MurderMittens also demonstrates that if you have murderous thoughts, they will slice out of your face like claws, and you will always look fierce, even while loafing in the soft glow of fairy lights within a pastel child's bedroom. Mood affects our perception of light--we appear to glow from within when we are happy, and the world looks brighter to us when we are energized--and mood and physical lighting both affect beauty, and beauty and lighting affect our moods . All these factors swirl together synergistically. We feel better when we are surrounded by beauty and when we feel beautiful ourselves, and we and our surroundings look more beautiful in good lighting. I kept all of this in mind when I helped my preteen daughter choose a new paint color for her bedroom last year: Oleander by Sherwin-Williams with a matte finish. It's

Here We Go Again

As we prepare for our daughter to go back to school at the end of this month, I've gone back to working from home. I returned to my office after the 4th of July, took down my March 2020 wall calendar, and worked onsite for one month before the delta variant had me hauling away my office's potted plants once again. Here we go again. I'm sad, and I'm letting myself feel that. Today, I'll get my hair cut for the last time before my daughter can be fully vaccinated. At that joyful time, we'll schedule a mother-daughter visit to the salon. I hope that it happens before her next birthday in January 2022. Back to WFH. Back to masking (or double-masking) in public and staying home whenever possible.  Working from home suits me just fine, but the reason I need to do it again has me feeling profoundly sad. I sat alone in my office on Friday and shouted some swears into the void. Then I took a few breaths and started loading up my car with houseplants. Again. Around the sa