An Ornery Woman

The definition of the word “ornery” implies having an irritable disposition. Synonyms include: irascible, dyspeptic, ill-tempered, crotchety, and cranky. For some reason, however, I don’t think they quite capture the essence of the word ornery; they hint rather more towards a negative connotation, while the word ornery seems to imply, to my understanding anyway, an intrinsically positive quality, imbued with strength and concentrated courage, or moral fortitude. Perhaps it’s because anyone I’ve ever known, who was ever described with the word ornery, was someone I knew to be strong, courageous, and with a sense of morality I admired.

So, I am particularly fond of the word ornery, and feel it is deserving of its very own, special placement as a unique sort of word of power, containing enormous benefit to a person, including a person such as myself. I love this word, in fact, for no matter how often I hear it, it gives me a little boost of courage. When I say it, my mouth literally (yes, literally. I am writing, after all) waters. It has a sort of yummy mouthful of meaning contained within it; it even tastes delicious all by itself. Go ahead, try it! Roll it around in your mouth, chew on it and suck on its juicy, cantankerous raw taste. See? It really does have a powerful flavor, doesn’t it!…especially when applied to a woman in need of a boost to her self confidence and personal power.

I have spent most of my life as what one might refer to as a “people pleaser.”  You know the type: always trying to do what she thinks is right, according to your standards, doing what you want her to do, behaving as she ought to behave, backing down rather than standing up, in order to keep the peace. In other words: a freakin’ victim. Sure, some of these sort of persons might actually have all the power they need, using passive-aggressive manipulation techniques to herd others into doing exactly what they really want them to do, all the while feigning powerlessness and innocence; especially when the outcome isn’t so pleasant. But the other kind of People-Pleasing Victim -or PPV for short– is really just that: a self-made victim, known for pouring out all kinds of personal energy into the needs and wants of others, and then wondering why, when finally recognizing her (or his, but for ease and continuity, I will use the feminine- how trite, I know) own needs, finds herself alone, and drained, in the midst of all those demands of others that never cease, and which will never, ever, give back any of what they have received from their People-Pleasing Victim. Worse still, by having the audacity to even have needs of her own, the PPV might be chastisized, bullied, or otherwise become the recipient of scathing gossip, until she is pushed back in line, back to fullfilling demands like a waitress in a dumpy diner, passively pleasing others once again.

Mothers tend to become this way, I believe, as a result of feeling they are meant to pamper, praise, and always, always, always properly discipline their beloved offspring according to the most current, up-to-date, scientifically tested and approved parenting techniques discovered, and written of in books, in order to thwart the possibility of one day waking up to discover that this offspring is, in fact, an antisocial, sociopathic serial thumb sucker, who will never be more than a grocery store bagger at the local P&C store…. forever dashing the hopes of one day being recognized as Mother of the Year to the Greatest Nobel-Prize-Winning-Doctor-Surgeon-Inventor-Scientist-Astronaut-President-Ever.

Yes, indeed, these mothers require a full plate of orneriness to chew on until they choke on their own chump-dom, and til their PPV has abated and dissipated.

At least, that’s what I needed. Not only did I once read every new parenting book I could get my hands on, and try every parenting theory, process, or method I could learn, in a desperate and futile attempt to get my less-than-perfect behaving son to fit his explosive mortar rounds of mood into the required range of square molds of public school behavioral norms, I signed on as a Therapeutic Foster Parent as well! This kind of foster parent is required to have a higher degree of parenting skill, and have an even greater commitment to than the average parent or foster parent, with a better than average understanding of both developmental behaviors and learning challenges, as well as a good foundation of understanding various psychiatric disorders. This is because the children coming into our homes generally exhibited a multitude of very challenging, sometimes disturbing, even potentially dangerous, psychiatric behaviors which were often associated with having been severely abused and traumatized in their original family.  As a Therapeutic Foster Parent I was required, and eager, to attend all sorts of psychology 101 workshops and training sessions that were offered. On the positive side, it did finally let me *see* my own son for who and what he really was/still is –an exceptionally gifted and brilliant kid, with all that that entails– but it also brought my level of PPV to even greater heights.

An ornery woman, however, is one who refuses to bow down to the fluctuating ebb of whims and beliefs of others, because she is secure in her choices and can stand strong against adversity; as a parent, she is confident that she and her child can survive the learning curve, without causing harm or permanent damage. She takes no bull-hockey from anyone. In fact, she refuses to even say the words “bull-hockey” and will tell you, to your face, what she really means: she won’t take any eff-ing bullshit!

No, no no… I can do better…really, I can (I’ve been practicing).

She won’t take any fucking bullshit!

(Whew! What a rush!)

The Ornery Woman (OW) is also known as She That Others Dare Not Cross (STODNC), unless they want to be brutally and thoroughly tongue-lashed, up one side and down the other, for making the mistake. Or, even worse, she might cast upon the power-mad demanding wrong-doer, even if it is the school principal, the Evil Stink-Eye Glare of Death (ESEGoD), which has been known to cause one’s nether-regions to shrivel up into eensy bitsy tiny bits. The best and most powerful ESEGoD ever reportedly cast, was cast by a the very rarest of True-Born Ornery Woman (TBOW) –one who was often referred to in whispers as “TSB,” (That Scary Bitch), when she wasn’t around to hear, of course. Those present at the time have sworn that her ESEGoD was known to have caused the shriveled up ‘nether bits, of a particularly over bearing and demanding offender, to fall off completely and roll away under a couch to hide, and were never seen again!  The gender of the offender is unknown to this very day.

I will admit to being awe-struck by such stunning, innate and rare talent. In reality, however, I don’t think I could ever wield the responsibility of such raw, ‘nad shriveling capabilities, nor do I want to have such ability. I want only a little bit of it for myself, with just enough orneriness to keep me free of subservience to my remaining child, with the strength to resist endless requests to fetch food & drink so that she won’t have to interrupt her SnapChat with friends, or YouTube make-up tutorials; and have enough chutzpah to remain firm against the whiniest pleadings of teen-aged reasoning as to why I should allow more facial piercings; and to have an ESEGoD that is just strong enough to convince her…or anyone else for that matter… that I mean business, and will not be backing down when I know what the right thing to do is, for my child, or myself, so don’t even bother trying to change my mind, or, or….or even try giving me any fucking bullshit about it.

That’s right. I said it. Yes, I want all that, without being plagued by self doubt, or guilt, for holding my ground. I want to stop second-guessing myself as a parent, and stop waffling over parenting decisions I’ve made. Or any decision, really, even for myself.

Mostly, it’s that last little tidbit that matters, above all else. I want to be an Ornery Woman because, to me, it implies having an innate sense of self confidence in one’s own life choices, with total mastery over self doubt. Lacking confidence and being full of self-doubt just plain sucks most of the time.  So, in order to combat what I’ve determined to be weaknesses within myself, I’ve begun practicing my ESEGoD in earnest.  My sister, however, has always been the lucky one in my family. She is one of those few TBOWs that I know of, and inherited our mother’s ESEGoD– and I’m almost ashamed to admit that my sister’s version is so powerful that it can make even me cower, whenever I have the misfortune to be caught in it’s cross-hairs! (My mother, when she was alive… well, let’s just say that the dust-bunnies under the couch always had company, ok?)

Alas, for all my practicing, I’ve only managed to go cross-eyed thus far, but I am getting better at it… and I have also started chewing on my favorite, most delicious, cranky word on a daily basis: Ornery. Ornery. Ornery. Chew, chew, crunch, squish…ornery…feeling the power flowing in my veins now…ornery…

…Ha! who needs balls of steel?

…when I have ovaries that clank. I Am an Ornery Woman! Hear me roar.

(why is a Billy Joel tune wandering around in my head right now?)


Your considerate comments and thoughts are welcomed.


The Arrests on Inauguration Day and the pride of Vermont, Ms Shela Linton

I read a wonderful article on a blog today, the Vermont Political Observer, entitled, A passel o’ peevishness on Inauguration Day (Part One) written by John Walters, in response to yesterday’s protest at the Vermont Statehouse.  The action, organized by the Vermont Workers’ Center, was a direct result to Gov Shumlin’s recent announcement that he would no longer be working to formulate a budget plan to support Act 48 –the law passed in 2011. This law made VT the first State to declare that Health Care is a Human Right, and as such will be publicly financed, and made available to all VT residents beginning in 2017. (In fact, it was the cornerstone of Mr. Shumlin’s promise to us that garnered our support, and got him elected.) The only point in this article, however, with which I disagree, is in his assessment of Ms. Shela Linton, the Field Organizer for VWC for Windham County, saying she should receive his “whiny award”.

What he did not realize –because the cameras did not capture softer spoken words of police to her, and details hidden, but seen by others to each side of her– is that the police began to apply their “motivate-with-pain” techniques within moments of their request for her to leave. Other passive-resistant arrestees (those who went limp) did not have their arms jacked up behind their backs, while their wrists were also being twisted in an opposite direction, to a pain-inducing degree. While Ms. Linton was still seated, an officer was beginning to apply this “motivation”, yanking her arm, bent at the elbow, upwards, and slightly into her body (which causes the arrestee to lean forward slightly, to force compliance) she stated, three times, and calmly, “you’re hurting me”. The officer then said something to the affect of “I’ll stop when you behave”. They proceeded then to haul her upright, and continued to apply even more pain inducement, which, as seen in the video, caused her to crumple to the ground. All the way to the processing room, they continued using the arm and wrist pain-technique; this was unwarranted and abusive. And it led to her need of emergency medical care.

The other woman of color in the sit-in circle, on whom less than professional and painful tactics were used, was also the only person to be placed in handcuffs, despite the fact that she had remained passive.  And, another person of color, there to support the sit-in protesters, was also handled, without cause, by a Statehouse officer, who then tried to deny his actions when the man protested having hands placed on him; except there was a witness, who spoke up and described to the officer exactly how he had placed his hands on the gentleman in an attempt to control the man’s movement while questioning him.

As for the arrestees, however, not a single other passive-resistant protester was “encouraged to comply” with the use of cuffs or with applied pain. The white arrestees were allowed or assisted to stand, or carried like a swing by the arms and feet, or simply dragged part way until another officer caught up to pick up the arrestee’s legs. Simply denying such discriminatory behavior–intended or not– does not erase the fact that it happened. And it won’t end until it is first acknowledged.

Remember, too, that this was an action of non-violent Civil Disobedience; all members who risked arrest had to agree to be peaceful, and non-combative during any potential arrest before being allowed to participate. In fact, this request was brought up to the group of protesters again, just prior to the start of the arrests, and all the members of the group reaffirmed their commitment to non-violent conduct if arrested. Even later, during the processing of arrestees, as one gentleman was expressing himself with more aggressive language, he managed to calm his expressive demeanor, when reminded by another arrestee in the room that his conduct represented everyone involved.

The proper way to remove a non-combative, but passive-resistant protester, in such a way as to minimize harm to both protester and officer, is thus: two officers stand side by side and in front of the arrestee; in concert they bend at the knee -in order to use leg muscles rather than strain back muscles- the officers loop his/her arm that is closest to the arrestee, under the arrestee’s armpit. Each officer uses bicep, shoulder and leg strength to lift the protester. The protester is then easily and safely be dragged backwards, without causing pain and minimizing potential injury. I saw this used many times during my time with the Occupy protest encampment on Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC (a good example here. Start at the 5:10 mark).

It is unfathomable to think that our own Vermont police ranks have not been taught this method. It seems they were aware of it, and were capable of implementing it with other, even larger sized, but white, protesters, as seen in contrast with the two videos here.

I know that, years ago, VT police were made aware of no-pain methods of removing protesters. I know this because, in the beginning of my own NVCD activism in which I risked arrest (and subsequently was), the resultant outcry over the abusive use of pain-inducing methods led to then-Governor, Madeleine Kunin publicly demanding that all non-combative protestors be arrested without the use of force. Further, she demanded that all police troops immediately be trained in non-pain inducing techniques to remove non-combative, non-violent civil disobedience protesters.

So I have to wonder: Why, in the face of such historical knowledge, did the police opt to use pain –and actual harm–in this instance? And why, specifically, were these methods used on the only protester whose skin coloring is darker than the greater numbers of obvious Caucasian NVCD protesters? The behaviors of the officers involved just stinks of outright racism, and must be addressed immediately. We are Vermonters, after all. We are better than that, and our police forces should reflect the highest kind and quality of non-discriminatory character that we strive for in this state. (Yes, I am sticking my Vermonter nose upwards, with obvious pride for my home state.)

Another unknown thing is how the police behaved after Ms Linton was loaded into the ambulance, crying, and cradling her arm.  When I asked to go with her, or to have another person close to her go with her in the ambulance (her own daughter, perhaps?), the police responded rudely, with a forceful, “No!” A crowd of released arrestees began to gather behind the parked ambulance, demanding that a person with close, personal ties to Ms. Linton, be allowed to ride in the ambulance with her. Suddenly, about a dozen other officers rushed out of the building, obviously prepared to engage with us in a perhaps not-so kindly manner.

Thanks to the quick thinking of Kate Kanelstein, another VWC organizer, who announced that she was being allowed to ride in the ambulance with Ms. Linton –after getting easy permission from the ambulance driver instead of the police– the crowd drew back. However, in some final angry verbal exchanges between police and protesters, one officer loudly proclaimed that “None of this would have happened if you’d just behaved yourselves and never showed up here in the first place.”

Uh, excuuuuuussse me?? Please tell me our police have, at the very least, a basic understanding of the US Constitution, and are aware of the fact that NVCD is one of the very highest forms of civic duty a citizen can, and should commit, to address, and change, the wrongs we see committed by our Government. And, ultimately, it is their duty to protect the citizens so that they may do so. (If they are not there to protect us, then what, really, are they for?)

For now, Ms. Linton, who was recently recognized as a “Women of the Year” in Glamour magazine, for being one of “50 Phenomenal Women of the Year Who Are Making a Difference”, is recovering, with her arm in a sling as a result of the injury inflicted on her.  I have no doubt that she will continue her work, fighting for Justice and the Rights for all people, but especially for the people of Vermont, regardless of race, religion, orientation, ability or social status. She is just that kind of woman. She is just that kind of Human Being.

The media is most certainly likely to “spin” the story in various ways –undoubtedly, mostly negative–but I hope and pray that her efforts, as well as the efforts of the members and activists of the VT Workers’ Center, will meet with the successful end for which this action was intended: getting our legislature to have a public discussions on the different financial formulas that can, and will, support the implementation of Act 48, Health Care For All, starting in 2017.

And as for Ms. Linton herself, Vermonters should just be damn proud to claim a woman of her caliber –strong, outspoken, passionate, open-minded, intelligent, kind, and, oh ya, black— as one of our own. She is an amazing representative of Vermont’s tenacity, courage, and leadership in choosing to do what is best for all people, no matter how difficult the presented challenges may be. Personally, I am honored to call her “friend”.

John Walters’ article, by the way, concluded with what I felt was a sign of hope for the Act 48 activists of the Vermont Workers’ Center, and Shela Linton. It was with a quote from the Speaker of the House, Shep Smith, and with who’s words I, too, shall conclude:

“I think this was an incredible example of the openness of our democracy,” he said. “In the people’s house, people are allowed to petition, and I would expect that over the coming weeks, we’ll talk with people about setting up hearings.” [emphasis added, mine]

Now I think I’ll go back to that blog, to read Part 2.

Special thanks to:

The Commons Independent, Non-Profit Source of News and Views from Windham County, Vermont Image by Shanta L.E. Crowley/Courtesy photo, featured on The Comons Online

other referenced links:

Seven Days Vermont’s Independent Voice:

For more information about the work being done by The Vermont Workers’ Center, and to learn how you can help, please go to:  Your tax-deductible contributions are appreciated, too!

Your considerate responses are most welcome, and appreciated.

A Recovering Racist for Justice for Mike Brown



It found that Brown — who was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9 — suffered “severe injuries of the skull, brain and right chest” and appeared to have been shot in the hand at close range. “The manner of death is homicide,” the Justice Department’s medical examiner ruled.

The fact that Mike Brown was MORE than 130 feet away from Officer Darren Wilson when he was shot –NOT the less-than 35 feet as told in MSM–should have been all the evidence necessary to indict Wilson for murder. What more can I say? The higher percentage of whites making the decision, in an area that is nearly 70% black, predisposes the possibility of any true Justice by a majority white jury —skymama65

Dear Readers,

Right now I feel ashamed of my skin tone. I am outraged that yet another so-called “Peace Officer” has gotten away with murdering an unarmed black man. I’m so angry I’m still shaking from the injustice of it all. I’m so angry that I’ve come here to vent.

Before I say anything else, however, I need to admit something about myself that is very important for you to know about me:

I am a Racist.
Continue reading

The New ‘Normal Barbie’ Comes With an Average Woman’s Proportions — And Cellulite Sticker Accessories

A wonderful, and refreshing, alternative for those parents who want to give their daughters a head start on developing a healthy self-image!


Screen shot 2014-11-19 at 3.57.10 AMIt’s a month before the holidays and you’re grappling with a serious toy buyer’s dilemma: On the one hand, you kind of just want to get your kid a Barbie; on the other hand you’d rather not perpetuate the peddling of anatomical ideals that are so impossible to achieve–and impractical. (Were Barbie human, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her tiny feet and would only have room for half a liver.)

That’s why graphic designer-turned-toy-maker Nickolay Lamm created the Lammily doll — what the Barbie would look like if she actually had the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman’s body (based on CDC data). And brown hair. (She also comes with a sticker extension pack, complete with cellulite, freckles and acne, but we’ll get to that later.)

What started as an art project in July 2013 became available for purchase and delivery Wednesday. “Parents and…

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I really don’t care if you think I look pretty when I run

Reading the thoughts of other strong women inspires me, and those willing to to use the word “Femism” and who describe themselves as “Femists” are definitely worthy of my time and attention. It was Fear and Hate within a patriarchal society that pushed the idea on us that Feminists are ugly, hairy, stinky man-haters. So many young women today, including well educated women, have fallen under the weight of the misconception that being a Feminist is a dirty thing. Yet if you ask a woman if she believes women should be paid equal wages for equal work, or if she should be respected when she says, “No”, and whether she has the right to live free of being beaten, abused and terrorized by a partner or spouse, or if she should be “allowed” to decide for herself whether she wants to carry a pregnancy to term– without any conditions (like being forced to submit to a vaginal probe with a sonagram dildo) and without false propaganda to try to scare her into making a decision that isn’t what she really wants– she is likey to say “Yes” to most, or all, of those. And thus, without realizing it, she has agreed to the very things that Feminism fights for every day.

In 2013 there were more than 600 new laws created in this country that specifically limit a woman’s right to make decisions choices that affect her body and health. Do you know how many laws were created that affect a man’s rights? None. Zero. Nadda.

I’m not a man-hater. In fact, I rather love them, and I love what what can transpire between us! But, I do feel there is still an imbalance, and that we, as women, are still kept subordinate to men. And it has to change. The dichotomy of male/female is one of many delicious, messy, fun, challenging, aggravating, yet all-together wonderful human experience, but the rules and roles have got to become balanced in such a way that we each, male and female, can respect each other, and allow each other to make choices that support our individual needs and rights. And that, my friend, is what being a Feminist is all about.

Fit and Feminist

A few weeks ago I was reading Facebook comments posted beneath an article about street harassment faced by female runners, and one comment in particular jumped out at me, from a man who wanted to know what was so wrong about letting a woman know she looked good while she was out running.  I commented and suggested that while I can’t speak for other women, I know that when I’m out for a run, pretty much the last thing on my mind is whether or not a passerby finds me attractive.

Anyone who runs with me knows that I tend to be gross when I run. I get incredibly sweaty – no “glowing” and “glistening” for this broad. My face also turns a lovely shade of eggplant.  I wear no makeup, just smears of sunblock and BodyGlide.  I spit when I run.  Like, a lot.  Brian says he can identify…

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