Bicyclist on the road between Burns and Bend. OR 99 degrees. Lots of them out there.
It's so nice here , and finding ourselves in the rare position of not having to do much of anything we have just been enjoying a quiet day in Ballard, going to the Sunday Market, reading the Sunday paper at the cafe across the street and now just taking it easy in our little place.
I've been thinking a lot about class and gender. Zadie Smith has a thought provoking piece in the New York Review of Books that speaks to the Brexit and how unprepared cosmopolitan Londoners were for its success. There are lessons here for us in the U.S. because some of the issues are the same. Her guiding metaphor is the openness she experienced in her neighborhood as a child vs. the (literal) wall now surrounding the school she went to.
Another thought I had concerns the derogation of men and boys in working class communities. This is not a new issue, of course. But a certain kind of masculine pride needs to be honored, I think. The men we know in Hawaii who do carpentry, painting, home repair and so on for us are rightly proud of what they do. They are our friends too, and in no "patronizing" way, because they are also the people we socialize with. These are white, working class men. Terry, a PhD and scientist, always works right along with them. I'm the slacker, because I am not very strong or skilled that way. Paint fumes and solvents make me sick. Every once in a while I'll drive in a nail, but that's it. So you can imagine how much I appreciate these guys. (I also know women who do a lot of this work but mostly for their own families and households.)
I do feel somewhat ashamed of how we exploited the woman who looked after my late mother in law. This, of course, is the least prestigious of all jobs. It felt to me like appropriation of her generous and humane nature at the expense of her own family, but the alternative was for me to drop my agenda and take care of a woman I had very little in common with and who was almost impossible for me to please, even though we did love each other, something I have only belatedly realized. I would have been the proverbial sitting duck if I had quit my job to care for her. But we paid this caregiver well, and she was able to keep her family together in spite of having a very difficult time of it. I'm not sure how much of the caregiver's status as a "local" woman with four children played into this problem of the gulf I felt between us. One of our neighbors who used her services and paid her cut-rate wages sniffingly referred to her as a "breeder." And I worry that I did not respect her as much as I should have. I think the intersection of service and family always causes problems.
But, as Zadie Smith points out, we lefties can go into contortions asserting that we are always right. Or pretending people in that position, especially those who provide intimate personal services, are really "just like members of the family," as I have heard people claim. Better not to kid myself that way.