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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Throwing underhand


So Beloved's chickens are starting to provide eggs -- brown eggs, which means the ones laying are all Barred Rocks, who are a bit older than the Araucanas -- and her garden looks like a rain forest laced with purple beans, green tomatoes, yellow zukes, green zukes, cucumbers, and the like. The corn, sunflowers, and Jerusalem artichoke are just -- really, really tall, and the summer kale is scary. The ears of corn have loosed their tresses to the winds. Garter snakes zip about underfoot, and green tree frogs sing from small ponds in the throats of sunflower leaves.

There have been several days of cool weather with rain -- the summer high is well west of where it usually is, roasting Japan but allowing Alaskan air to mix southwards into our valley all summer. Hence the greenness of the tomatoes.

None of this seems to be a problem for the apple trees, or even the old pear, which have been building larger fruit than usual all summer. Beloved is making applesauce and plum sauce, and freezing blackberries, and what she can't use is being chopped and tossed into the poultry yard, where it is appreciated by all. Even those who don't care so much for fruit will stand near it to snap at the flies that come by.

I would love to be more a part of all this but work has been absorbing most of my attention of late, and I come home drained of all but enough strength to roam about the kitchen seeking what I may devour and then slouching off to bed, where I'm reading several pages of Mott's life of Thomas Merton before lights-out.

I've been over most of the twenty hours or so of footage gathered during transition and I think it will make a good 52 minute video, but when? If I had energy I'd want to clean my room first, and I'm not even doing that. But I have scanned a dozen introductory photos at 600 dpi and run them as a slide show with the "overture," David Helfand's "Song to Lakota," and the effect is electric. This is worth doing, it's just a question of finding enough life left over from making ends meet to pull it together.

:::

Over the weekend, I spent three days with PFLAG -- two at the State Council Retreat and one at the Chapter's annual picnic. There were a few new faces to greet and several sad goodbyes, along with the feeling, like listening to favorite music, of being with long-established and trusted friends.

I had brought along a couple of gloves and softballs to the picnic (bats, too, but this is not a participatory-sports crowd). One member of our chapter, whose name, whenever anyone calls it out, is a shock to me, as it was my old name, offered to play catch a bit. He's a southpaw who has always, like my dad, had to play right-handed due to the dearth of left-hander's gloves, yet has a strong throwing arm for all that. We stood about fifty, then sixty, then seventy feet apart. On my first throw, I put a steaming waist-high strike into his glove, thrown overhand. This seemed to puzzle us both for a moment, and then I consciously threw underhand for the rest of the session.

Girls who are serious about softball are taught to throw overhand, so it wasn't that odd, but it occurred to me that overhand involves falling forward with the ball, in order to get extra leverage on the throw from gravity.

I think that the step forward that goes with this is like the way men walk -- throwing themselves forward with each step and catching the fall with the extended leg, whereas the walk I've had to learn, to avoid getting stares, is more like rotating the hip around a semicircle and sort of planting the foot that's been rotated forward, without tilting the axis (my spine) very much at all.

This is why a woman bringing water from the well in a jar of water balanced on her head appears graceful to the eye.

So I threw underhand, retraining and to some extent restraining my body, while my friend threw to me overhand or underhand as he wished, with the easy, unreflective athleticism that is part of a man's assumed prerogative. But to compensate for this slight, though noticeable (to me) inequity, I allowed myself a certain competitive intensity in going after the grounders and fly balls, and earned his praise. He seemed surprised that I was as good as I am -- not because I'm fifty-eight, he's just not used, I think, to women that have played in boys' and mens' baseball leagues.

Not that he doesn't know my backstory. He does! And asks interested questions from time to time. But I find he is a bit oblivious toward that story. And so he pays me the generous compliment of a certain gentlemanly sexism. It seems I'm not inclined to mess with that...

...as I'm finding it all rather sweet, for now.


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