Folk Thursday: Peter, Paul and Mary

I heard this song for the first time a couple of weeks ago, after downloading Peter, Paul and Mary’s Lifelines album at the suggestion of a friend who shares my fondness for folk. I was listening to it as I was driving down Illinois 3 and honestly thought I was going to have to pull over and have a good cry when they got to that last verse.

The version on Lifelines is prettier than this live version, but you get the idea. If you enjoy folk at all, you should probably go download Lifelines when you get done here. It includes a bunch of other artists singing with them, including Ramblin’ Jack Elliott on “Deportee” and Richie Havens on “The Great Mandala,” which might be the most awesome thing I’ve heard since Woodyfest.


Remember when?

This post is an open letter to the Daniel Webster High School Class of 2013:

Dear Seniors,

I love you with all my heart and wish I could be there to celebrate with you, but life — as you are learning — is a vibrant, glorious parade of unexpected adventures that help us grow into our potential, and like you, I am still growing and learning and moving forward. My adventures have taken me to my mom’s hometown to work for the newspaper there.

I didn’t expect to leave Tulsa quite so soon, and I certainly didn’t expect to find my way back home, but life has a way of sending us where we need to go at that moment, whether we’re expecting it or not. Some of you will end up exactly where you thought you’d be in 10 years. Most of you probably won’t. All of you will change the world, just as you’ve been doing since the day you put those protest slogans on notecards and stapled them to the bulletin board in sophomore English.

As your time at Webster draws to a close and you head out on your own adventures, I’d like to look back with my own set of “remember whens.”

Remember when Alex made that Venn diagram comparing and contrasting Chewbacca and Sasquatch?

Remember when Gabbie talked me into participating in Day of Silence? I didn’t know it was possible to disrupt class without making a single sound, but Keyonna managed to do it.

Remember when we came back from Christmas break to find a mysterious stench in my classroom, and Chasity decided the ghost must have spent the whole break eating Mexican food?

Remember Carmen’s crush on Coach Williams?

Remember when Dionne, Kalynn, and Keyonna translated Hamlet into modern English?

Remember breakfast in the classroom?

Hey, Jasmine — remember Jerome in advisory?

Remember Meeyotch the class fish?

Remember Chris and Ricky’s “that’s what SHE said” jokes? (Why would she say THAT?)

Hey, Anthony — remember when Daryl was “fit’nna rag”?

Remember Fernando’s ironic hat?

Remember the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything?

Remember That Guy?

There are not many things I am sure of in this crazy world, but here is a thing I know: No member of the Daniel Webster High School Class of 2013 will grow up to be That Guy. You are some of the smartest, sweetest, funniest, and most passionate people I have ever known. I love you all, and I am ridiculously proud of you.

Ms. Priddy

‘Scuse my dust

As I’ve moved out of Red Fork, my old blog header seemed a little out of date, so I’m making some adjustments. Bear with me; things will probably look weird around here while I’m test-driving themes and dinking around with widgets. I’m sure I’ll get tired of rearranging the furniture and settle into something in a day or two.


Thanks, Mom


I got up this morning, made myself a cup of coffee from Sumatran beans purchased in Makanda, and stood sipping it on the deck as I looked out over the little organic garden in my backyard.

I spent the afternoon working at a job I adore and then drove home with an album of Bob Dylan covers pouring from the speakers in my tie-dyed artcar.

I am complicated and eccentric and outrageous and confident, a latter-day hippie with a social conscience, a DIY streak, and a taste for vinyl records, historic preservation, and irony, and it occurs to me that my mom had almost everything to do with that.

Here are some things Mom did for me, without which I would be a different person:

* Taught me to read at age 2. That pretty much set the tone for everything that followed.
* Let me read Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening over her shoulder when I was 3. I think I knew the recipe for thermophilic compost before I knew the recipe for oatmeal cookies.
* Matched my donation to Greenpeace to save the baby harp seals when I was 4.
* Exposed me to great music — Neil Diamond and the Beatles and most of the ’60s folk revival — and looked the other way while I was wailing into a hairbrush about having “two kinds of lovers, one on each coast” at age 9 or liberating Diamond’s Tap Root Manuscript and Joan Baez’s David’s Album from her vinyl collection at 15.
* Loaned me her copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull — and encouraged me to fly.
* Never, ever allowed me to own a Barbie.
* Tipped me off to the story that more or less cemented my reputation as a journalist and led to my first paying freelance gig when I was 14.
* Bought me my first espresso machine. (This may or may not have been a ploy to get me to quit cutting class to hang out at Longbranch, but the end result was a taste for good coffee that remains part of my life all these years later.)
* Set aside her personal tastes long enough to let me dye my hair when I turned 17.
* Scoffed — frequently and always within my earshot — at people who are afraid of aging.
* Never accepted “I can’t” as an excuse.
* Encouraged me to express myself, whether she agreed with the sentiments I was expressing or not.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.


Update from the garden

We had several cool days right after I planted, so the garden hasn’t grown quite as fast as I’d like, but I’m finally seeing some progress out there: A couple of the strawberry plants are setting fruit, the cucumbers are starting to sprout, the dill is up, a few cilantro seeds have sprouted, and the arugula and California poppy sprouts are starting to put out grown-up leaves. Today was warm, and we got a little sprinkling of rain this afternoon, so hopefully I’ll see some real progress soon.

In other news, I am still thoroughly enjoying my job, my proximity to my family, and my new house. We finally closed on the house Monday, so I’m hoping to spend part of my weekend hanging pictures and making it feel just a little more like home. I think I might stash most of the pictures in the garage and just rotate them in and out, though. Our old house looked sort of cluttered because we had way too much stuff on the walls. I’m fine with the office looking like somebody’s dorm room, but I think I’d rather the rest of the house look a little cleaner.

I kicked off my weekend in a thoroughly unproductive fashion: Nap, sudoku, and guitar. It was lovely.

Hope your weekend is off to a good start, wherever you are.


Debunking the Beauty Myth

I’m sure by now you’re aware of the latest and most egregious attack on teenage girls’ already fragile self-esteem, but just in case you’re not, click here to find out why you’ll be boycotting Abercrombie & Fitch and its affiliates from now until the Cubs win the Series.

As much as I’d love to believe that the inevitable demise of Mike Jeffries’ career will solve the problem, the sad fact is that it probably won’t; all this hypocritical P.R.-nightmare-in-flip-flops has done for us is put a comically clueless face on a much larger issue.

Jeffries’ tone-deaf misogyny harmonizes perfectly with the other sour notes I’ve heard lately: Disney’s gratuitous attempt to sexualize Merida from Brave; InTouch’s apparent ignorance of biology; the frequent attacks on Hillary Clinton’s appearance; and the ridicule a young friend of mine endures on a daily basis because she is albino and thus has a porcelain complexion, green eyes, and gorgeous golden-red dreadlocks to go with her African-American features.

Jeffries may have articulated it the most brazenly, but his message is no different than the others’: If you are female, your value depends entirely on the extent to which your physical appearance adheres to a narrow set of standards engineered by ad executives for the specific purpose of making the largest possible number of women feel insecure enough about their appearance to want to spend money to change it.

This kind of manipulative marketing is detrimental to women because it seeks to profit at the expense of our self-worth. It’s detrimental to all of us — men and women alike — because it seeks to remove variables such as individual taste and force us to evaluate beauty exclusively on Madison Avenue’s flawed, self-serving rubric.

I remember a comment someone once made about my favorite singer: “Judy Collins isn’t pretty, but she’s striking.”

I disagree with the first half of that assessment, but I think it illustrates the difficulty we have in wrapping our heads around the sort of beauty that doesn’t fit the rubric. If a woman is not conventionally pretty, we don’t know what to do with her. We can’t resist looking at her, but why?

You probably don’t fit the rubric, either. And you’re in awesome company, because you know who else doesn’t fit the rubric? Adele. Queen Latifah. Emmylou Harris. Bonnie Raitt. Jamie Lee Curtis. Helen Mirren. Tina Turner. My albino friend with the stunning African-American features and Irish coloring. Me. Not one of us fits the rubric. We’re all either too old, too heavy, too unconventional, or too all of the above to meet the standards A&F is promoting.

To hell with the rubric. I’d sooner die than swap my tangled curls, gray streak, hips, boobs, laugh lines, bifocals, or self-respect for some manipulative retailer’s approval.

To quote Bette Midler (who doesn’t fit the rubric, either): “Cherish forever what makes you unique, ’cause you’re really a yawn if it goes.”



Today was glorious — chilly and drizzly, but just right for a trip to Makanda to wander through Dave Dardis’ secret garden. Dave has put in a new gallery next to Rainmaker Studio to display his work, and it’s really nice. A precocious fourth-grader named Madison, who apparently is a frequent flyer on the Boardwalk, decided I needed a guided tour.

You have not lived until you have experienced the Makanda Boardwalk through the eyes of a little girl with a big imagination. What an awesome place for a kid to hang out.

Madison and I had a very artsy, creative conversation that I am pretty sure inspired both of us. She has been studying Greek mythology at school, and she thought one of Dave’s sculptures — a woodcarving of a woman’s face with little brass people scurrying over it — represented Mother Earth and her children. Can you imagine? Fourth grade, and she’s already looking at esoteric sculptures and expounding on their underlying symbolism. As an old scholar bowl coach, the first thing I thought was, “Somebody needs to put this kid on a buzzer.” But when I suggested that she try out for her school’s team in a few years, she said she didn’t think she could do something like that, because she was in special ed.

Do I have to tell you what Mama Bear thought about whoever put that idea in this child’s head?

I assured her that I had known some awesome players who were in special ed, and if she thought something sounded like fun, she should go for it and let the chips fall where they may.

It really bugs me that people act as if a learning disability somehow disqualifies a kid from being gifted. Hell, I’m convinced that half the things we classify as “disabilities” are just gifts we don’t know how to use. We don’t know what to do with them, so we slap a negative label on them and try to train or drug them out of kids because it’s easier than trying to figure out how to harness lightning. And in the process, we end up introducing the false god of “I can’t” to a 10-year-old who spontaneously interprets modern art through the lens of ancient literature and articulates her findings to a receptive stranger.

Sometimes I really hate our educational system.


Spring planting

A little belated this year, partly because of the move and partly because the weather has been unpredictable, but I finally got my garden in the ground yesterday.

Our new backyard has an old fire pit that’s about four or five feet wide, fashioned from cinderblocks and filled with charcoal and ash. I hadn’t originally planned to do a lot with it, but while I was unpacking a box a couple of weeks ago, I found some arugula and California poppy seeds I’d bought last summer at a nursery in San Francisco, so I planted them back there just for giggles.

Then a big Cherokee Purple tomato plant caught my eye at Lowe’s the other night, so I bought it and a tomato cage and stuck it in the center of the fire pit. While I was planting it, I noticed that the openings in the cinderblocks had a lot of weeds growing in them. If weeds will grow, garden plants will grow, so I went back to the store and bought a couple of bags of potting soil and a bunch of seeds. There were enough cinderblocks to accommodate asparagus beans, basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley, two varieties of cucumber, watermelon, tabasco pepper, sage, and strawberries. We’ll see how they do.

I’m thinking of renting a tiller and turning the entire front yard — which isn’t very big — into a cottage garden full of wildflowers and pretty herbs. I’d also like to plant hostas in the little narrow, shady areas on either side of the house.

Once we fence the yard, I’ll add a water feature to attract amphibians. (I realize I’m a mile away from the most awesome water feature in North America, but if there are Fowler’s toads breeding in the Mississippi, they aren’t singing loudly enough to be heard over here in my neighborhood.) I also need to rustle up some wisteria somewhere. It’s too late in the season to set up a beehive — which I won’t do until the yard is fenced anyway — but I’m going to start at least two next spring, and I’ve just about decided that a wisteria arbor would be a perfect way to provide shade and a visual screen for a modest apiary.

Speaking of pollinators, I was pleased to discover bumblebees living somewhere near the east side of the house. I’m not sure precisely where their nest is, but I’ve seen several of them flying around rather purposefully in that area, so I’m sure they live close by. They’re ridiculously cute.

daydreaming about bees and hoping my girls are happy with their new keeper in Owasso