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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

Of Nova Scotia, girls' pride and graffiti

“Sitting alone among secluded bamboos I play the zither whistle on and on; Deep in the woods, unknown to the world, A bright moon comes and shines on me.”
-- Wang Wei

I write this because this is Nova Scotia for me. Walking the beach at 4 p m every single day, be it wind, rain, fog or sun I feel the immensity of life, quiet and solitude on the whole beach, which is a C curve there is no one, no one at all, there are only winds, tidal bores, crabs, birds and Brian, myself and Wilber.

There are not even footprints in the sand. In front of us is the Atlantic Ocean, under our feet are shells, pebbles, mud and sand. Water of two distinct temperatures, and behind us are miles and miles of sand dunes, grasses, beach roses and more birds and butterflies. The dunes are protected and staked with wooden cones, no one can walk or ride on them, you make your way up and over a wooden walkways which is backed by a sleepy little road which in return is backed up a salt marsh and a bird sanctuary. On the other edge of the marsh is our old cottage whose yard ends right at the edge of the salt marsh. I feel like I am in a movie as I tread these passages backwards through time.

And wept my first time on the sand. I could not get down to the water for 2 years, and here I was, “ON THE BEACH” and actually “IN THE WATER.” I walked a mile a day every day I was there with my trusty cane and my insane dog. It took me one hour to make the trip, but I did get faster and stronger as time went on. Distance is easy there, as the beach is one mile long start in the middle walk to the end, then turn around and walk back. Occasionally someone else will be walking the other way and there we are like two ships passing in the night, we will nod and speak briefly and continue on.

I was reminded of the starfish story because sometimes the beach would be littered with crabs, a veritable graveyard of seagull leftovers and I would walk among them to see if anywhere still intact and toss them in the shallows, though I am told by those who live there that regularly the crabs commit mass suicide and launch themselves out of the water to certain death and dire destruction.

Natives clam regularly in the salt marshes and takes bags of crabs and the occasional lobster home to cook. They also eat the seaweed, dulse it is called and can be used as well as fertilizer. Then there's the pickled raw clams, shuck em’ and throw them in a mason jar of vinegar and water. They keep trying to convince us to eat them but somehow I cannot bring myself to even try.

Nova Scotia is not a tourist destination; it is made up mostly of fishermen and seafood workers and farmers. And many boats were hauled up to be overhauled as usual, we would pass shipyards everywhere and note our favorites. But these are working boats not pleasure boats, but I would sure get a lot of pleasure out of owning my own tug boat.

“I think being a woman is like being Irish. Everyone says you’re important and nice but you take second place all the time.”
-- Iris Murdoch

And speaking of taking first place and not second Thank- you Rayne donated 73 backpacks, whew, but all are in the hands of needy scholars and Rayne we could have never done it without you.

And speaking of need, here's an interesting figure for you.

“Fact -- Lack of sanitation and access to a toilet isn’t just a third world problem. 1.7 million people in the United States have inadequate or no means of safe disposal of waste.”
-- Rose George. The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters. (St. Martins Press, 2008)

Isn’t that an eye opener, or nose closer. We think we have it here, richest nation in the world and all that goes with it, but lately what seems to go with what is a load of poverty. I see it in the faces of my children every day.

We have started working with a group of young women determined to help battered women and their families. They are determined and dedicated, to paraphrase a local news program. Several of our backpacks went there, and a lot of hot food that I deliver most nights. They gather in one woman's kitchen and a line forms at the door. Women helping women, what sweet, sweet words. I love what QUEST is becoming, and feeding people, well that's what I do best. And of course Christmas is coming and we will inundate Toys For Tots with our requests.

Today we are having a communal cookout along with balloons and a small grill and 2 tough basketball teams shooting it out, (baskets that is) and I feel like the Matriarch in “Antonia’s Line.” Look that movie up and see strong women everywhere, what a beautiful and affecting movie.

Fall is coming, the chill is in the air and the frost warnings are upon us. Heating season, $$$ is upon us and God knows we need money. We do so much for the community, your community too. If you don’t feel comfortable donating money we seriously need cleaning supplies, mops, brooms, buckets, bleach, pine-sol etc. etc. Also help delivering and transporting food.

So yes the chill maybe in the air but the fire was in the parking lot and the hot dogs were on the grill. We lit the birthday candles and pulled out at 8:00 pm. I delivered my food and got home at 9 to 2 hungry cats and one highly indignant dog.

I had started the day at the dentist and my jaw ached and my tooth was throbbing but service is who we are and we gave a lot of it out today and I feel blessed.

I know I talk a lot about blessings and yet I have no formal religion for my anchor, and when every computer we owned this week had trouble I dearly wished I had a god, any god would do, just so long as I could kneel and wring my hands or scream in blaspheme. All right all I could do was pull up my big girl panties and continue down the road working and cursing and slowly putting things right at least for the next 3 or 4 days when the next catastrophe will surely come whistling down the sidewalks.

Graffiti Wall

It is so odd, I am now partnering with every law enforcement agency in the city on the new Graffiti Wall program. Agencies that have walked away from us in the past and some who have been our biggest supporters.

I do know that having QUEST kids involved should be a win-win for all involved. If my kids are taking over the management of the wall, white washing, etc., there should be less abuse and defamation, bad language etc. involved. Way back when I worked so hard to get a graffiti removal program I suggested bringing in some prominent artists- ie- someone from the Keith Haring Foundation to educate and talk. Keith Haring was a graffiti artist who died from AIDS a few years back. His street art took the world by storm and he died a multi-millionaire.

He went from buildings to canvas, but he also had huge commissions to paint murals on the sides of major pieces of architecture. This year a Keith Haring museum opened in Paris, France, and last year one in Washington D.C. Last fall the Haring Foundation awarded $1.3 million to the AIDS coalition in NYC. There are others now following in his wake and street art is rapidly becoming an alternative art form.

We need to educate and embrace the counterculture in the 21st century. Do you all remember when the Beatles were considered obscene, drug influenced, and just plain bad for youth to listen to? Now it’s elevator/ supermarket music. Almost banal, at least in the hokey arrangements used for these venues. Wouldn’t it be cool if Schenectady could get the stage in this area for welcoming alternative art forms.

Also the more folk involved with Jerry Burrell Park, be it graffiti, food etc. the fewer drug dealers and guns will wind up in that arena. It is a kids/family park after all. This summer the basketball program really helped to make the park more livable and usable destination. Add the lunch program, and now the wall -- that is a viable solution which could almost continue year round. Clean up the park and Schenectady Street begins to change for the better.

Once the tide swells it grows, and grows and the way to make it happen is not necessarily more cops, the cops and robber scenarios never works and frankly is old. The way to change is involvement, working together. I know I said this often before, I say it a lot, and I say it loud. We are always talking about religion and the Constitution and talking about why we are lawless and lost. Look at the pledge of allegiance, One Nation (one-not many) under God (any god- not just Christian) a god of justice and morality. Indivisible, working together as a unit for the good of our homes and cities, with liberty and justice for all. Keywords For All - - not a few, not some, but every one of us.

How simple or maybe not, because we sure have enough trouble following through. The simple pledge is what patriotism is all about. There is a great difference between patriotism and chauvinism. One unites the other tears apart.

You go girl!

Oh yes, before I forget, France, followed by most of Europe, is working to ban child beauty pageants. Now there is a chauvinistic rite of passage. I love it, “no beauty contests” for children under the age of 16. What a message that would send, especially to little girls. And by the way do you know the girls' sport (if it can actually be considered a sport) with the highest percentage of injuries. Cheerleading!! I’m tired of watching squads of girls rah-rahing for boys teams.

I just watched a documentary about Billie Jean King, beating the bejeezus out of Bobby Riggs at tennis. How many years ago was that? Decades I believe. And two years ago Ms. King finally received the president's medal for women's achievements in sports. A sad, sad commentary on life as a female athlete. Though we do have Venus and Serena Williams, black goddesses, muscular and amazing, and truly beautiful. Better than a beauty queen any day.

Paris is the fashion and cosmetic capital of the world and if they can do this, this ban on child usage for monetary gain so can we. Hallelujah!!

I heard someone say to her daughter a few days ago, “You should have been a boy.” This young woman can fix anything from computers, to electrical machines like radios etc, plumb and work her farm. She has two children, is married for 15 years and should be an example to us all. My daughter, who is 112 lbs., can repair bicycles, do repairs, including body work on her car, and teach a mean ballet class. And she makes it all look so effortless.

We should be saying -- “Go for it honey, women should be strong and smart.” We don’t need you to be a boy we need you to be an example for all the other little girls. You Go Girl!!

“It is just as it is
and ain’t no is-er”

-- Rural American Zen

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