Think about all the women who stood and threw their arms up as Billy Jean King launched her racquet in the air.
One of the many pleasures of ageing is being an eyewitness to history. For a moment like this I'll gladly take the extra pounds around my waist.
Growing up, the only time a tennis match was on the television in my house was fifty years ago — for the Tennis Battle of the Sexes. I was ten and a half years old on the day Billy Jean King showed Bobby Riggs all her talent. The four of us in my family were some of the ninety million people watching the match around the globe. Well, half-watching and half-playing because we were kids. We knew it was important without understanding why.
The stakes were high, but there was plenty of theatre and fun about the event. Bobby Riggs was obnoxious — an athletic Archie Bunker. "Women belong in the bedroom and kitchen, in that order," he said. Who can forget the Sugar Daddy t-shirts?
Helen Reddy sang I Am Woman. King was carried on the shoulders of men — Cleopatra-style — into the stadium. She would leave as the Queen of all our hearts. I teared up watching this tribute narrated by Venus Williams.
On September 20, 1973, Billy Jean King won a tennis match. Became a legend. And she has not squandered the privilege. She continues to work for our good.
Gender equity levelled the prize field for the U.S. Open in 1973.
Away from celebrity sports circles, women have gone from earning $0.57 in 1973 to $0.82 in 2023 for every dollar a man makes. Twenty-five cents over 50 years. Still, eighteen cents to go. Another thirty-six years.
2059. Would men call that progress? Can your daughters wait?
Wage transparency would get us there sooner. It's a good labour practice.
Have you ever dealt with a man you knew wasn't your equal?
A man dead sure of his superiority? Who knew nothing about you? But had calculated your worth? A personal Bobby Riggs?
I have. I could probably put a team together. I can't imagine for what sport. It makes me laugh thinking of the t-shirts I'd put them in. Who should I hit up for sponsorship? There are a few star players. Should I make them wear headbands?
Here's the match as we saw it. Howard Cossell was on one of the mics.
The Philadelphia Freedoms is the name of a co-ed tennis team Billy Jean King played with from 1974 to 1978. Elton John honours a friend here. Together, they have raised hundreds of millions for Equal Rights and HIV/AIDS causes. This is a lovely short read about the song and their friendship.
My grandfather Harry would come home from working on a boat on the Great Lakes and wouldn’t want to go anywhere. Unless Theo was driving. A guy happy to be on dry land with his wife behind the wheel. He was an affable easy-going passenger. They did loads of road trips.
They had another arrangement. Shortly after Harry came home for a time, Theo would be off. She travelled solo to some interesting places. I admired that in her and have emulated her on occasion. Going solo is another kind of travel. It’s an experience of anonymity and autonomy.
The first book Theo gave me was James A. Michener’s The Drifters. It was purposeful. She was passing on something important.
The love between Theo and Harry, in some ways, was unconventional. Independence is something they both came to value. Time on their own was normal and important. That changes the dynamics of being a couple.
This is another kind of road trip.
Returning from a family gathering in the near south.
I was living on the promise of seeing Fallingwater. And then plans changed for the driver. The man behind the wheel was going home — Raleigh North Carolina to Hamilton Ontario — bathroom breaks only. By then, being held hostage in a vehicle with him was familiar. We had one of our near-fatal relationship-changing arguments outside Pittsburgh.
We stopped. That tells you something about my will. I was ruthless. I didn’t know when I’d be back down that road again.
I dropped him in the parking lot. Did not look back. Took all the time I needed. I’d sat in dark art history classes looking at slides of the place and experiencing a sense of falling in love. Art does that to me. The thought of being so close to that beauty was everything. Passing it was impossible.
A postcard of Serena fell out of a book recently. It’s where I hide memories for surprises. Standing in that alcove looking at her on that day I knew I’d done the right thing. The image took me back to the nice time I had…by myself.
What a horrible thing to visit Fallingwater with your daughter.
I think a lot about the man who knew what was in my heart and decided to drive past.
Of course, things happen as they do. But I cried hard about it this week. Writing is often the turning point.
My dad was not unique. He was a man of his time — the authoritarian. But there’s still no shortage of grossly self-focused men today. Often, they come wrapped up in several active addictions. Many never get right with the people they use and hurt. They miss out on so much real human relations.
The song landed early Saturday morning as a complete surprise. Everything about it fit. The lyrics are handcrafted. And that guitar lick.
Also, it’s been too long since I took a road trip.
The quilts were hung in several barns, and wooden blanket racks were on the lawns. The world’s longest clothesline — a swelling sea of cotton. A vision of wholesome. The Mennonite Quilt Auction in New Hamburg.
I can’t even imagine how you choose. The subtle variations were mindboggling. I felt a bit dizzy from all the patterns, like the fatigue after going to a big museum.
I think about the women who gathered around them. The stories and experiences shared while stitching — the laughter, heartache and boredom. There were so many quilts it might represent the female population of a small Ontario city, or a few country townships.
The last time we went, we piled into the car my dad left Ford with — the Country Squire. (The way we sell men cracks me up.)
In the time before seatbelts, we would sit in the spacious back with no seats and horse around. The back window was wide open. Cutting through acres of corn — a fabric unrolling to the horizon — heading southeast on Highway Eight.
We all liked venturing out of the small town on Lake Huron.
Peameal bacon on a bun is what we were all thinking about. Is it the Ontario equivalent of Wilensky’s? It was served from a gas barbecue a bunch of men wearing felt black hats and suspenders huddled around. They came wrapped in lovely paper-lined foil — soft in the hand like a blanket. Some people roll it down a little as they eat. I’m a get-this-wrapper-off kind of girl.
On a bleached late spring day we sat on the grass in a patch of shade with others and ate.
The auctioneer's banter had the same effect as the acres of patchwork. He was whirling buyers — like a country and western dancer — toward a purchase.
A perfect day.
Because I don’t like being visually and mentally overwhelmed, I’m picky about going to galleries. Art has always been a big part of travel (gardens too). I can’t cover a whole museum. It’s overload and the plot starts to unravel. I don't ever feel like I've missed something.
I go see a show, the work of a particular artist, or a single painting. The first time I went to the Tate was to see the Turners. What a luxury to be in their presence. In one day do you need more?
Robert Plant’s voice and Jimmy Page’s guitar. Both men are masters. Untouchable talent. Their music is orchestral.
My first acid trip. Houses of the Holy on the eight-track. In the back of a Trans Am, driving country roads. Four of us in the car. I was fifteen, maybe. Extraordinary memories from that night remain in me. A quilt of vivid colours. The shadows of trees and fences on the gravel road in the headlights. I was safe. And laughing…laughing…
I don’t need to tell you on how many levels I love Heart singing Stairway to Heaven. We need to hold our Bic lighters up for Ann and Nancy Wilson. Two women hand-delivering a high honour.
September reminds me of Muscat grapes in France. I shared the memory with a Hungarian chef at work last week and he knew exactly what I was talking about. A heady ghost scent is in me even across time and a great distance. It makes me wistful for Europe.
Occasionally I see them in Canada, but the best half is MIA. Where did their smell go? They are half measures and nothing more. It must be the varietal.
I took the photo in Les Halles market in Lyon. It doesn’t do them justice.
The grapes are straight out of a Renaissance still life — the colour of Panama grass with a vermillion blush. To walk by a display is a baptism in ripe lychee fruit, honey, and jasmine in bloom at night. It's the smell of desire.
It reminds me of a Friday night dinner a long time ago. Paul Bertolli cooking in the kitchen. Votive light dancing on the dining room walls of the Old Prune restaurant. Blustery Perth County snow out the window.
I was five months sober then and didn’t drink the Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois served with the almond cake for dessert. But I stuck my nose in a glass and inhaled deeply more than once. So pretty.
I knew to taste it with the cake was a pleasure. And I didn’t need to go there. By then I had an appetite for freedom.
I’ve been asked to be an international judge for the Irish Food Writing Awards. It feels like the Northern Lights in my heart — the fit is bespoke. Look at the lead judging panel. So many humans I admire.
A pile of stories will soon arrive.
To have two great passions — food and writing — in one short life is a privilege.
There are aging filters on TikTok. You can tell a lot about how a person feels about growing older by their reactions. So much of it is plain sad. Disturbing really.
We talk a big game about diversity and blow off a life time of experience. Whatever!
I’m here to tell you that growing old is beautiful. Mostly if you’re growing.
Here’s a man who handles the filter like a grown up. (He's currently stranded at Burning Man.)
And to be perfectly clear, men have an easier time aging, culturally speaking. For a bit of perspective, here’s what a 70-year-old beautiful woman deals with.
Harvest is here. It’s the season for preserving fruit. What are you putting down that will save you on a stupid cold March night?
I love the photo of Aretha as much as the song. She knew her power. And where it came from.
“You don’t find this song; this song finds you.” activestment640
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