Liberty in Virginia

We didn’t want to leave East Bend. It was very hard to say goodbye. Even the countryside looked less warm as we drove away.

We headed north along the mountains to Lynchburg, Virginia.

Ok, I have to stop here for a moment to have a word with my Southern friends.

First, why oh why do “y’all” have the same dang city names from one state to the next? Second, why do “y’all” insist on having 25 names for the same road.

My GPS says “turn right at highway 380/interstate 70/260/Hully Road.” WHICH ONE IS IT???

Anyway, I digress. We arrived in Lynchburg to meet with a friend I have only met on facebook who is elected into that body of folks who make laws. He is a legislator. But he is a libertarian with a capital “L” and he is interested in repealing and resisting legislation more than writing laws.

I appreciate his position. As a felon I cannot even consider what he does, but he is passionate about it. We discussed midwifery and religion and how the two intersect in areas and the arguments of some about why they never should.

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I passed Hurt on the way to Virginia. You’d think I’d be over it all… but I’m still driving.

And here I must admit that my kids are definitely done with the road trip. They have now BOTH become travel weary and act like an ingrown hair. Inflamed, embarrassing and obvious.

Poor fellah had to encourage them to lay down their battle axes on a couple occasions.

But I’m still not done driving. I still have enough angst to drive into the Atlantic and then some. I sincerely hope that drive dies before my kids do.

We eventually rolled back into the cramped, stinky and dirty car that we’ve called home for nearly three weeks and headed for the Confederate Capitol: Richmond.

Our hostess here is brilliant. I didn’t realize how much so until we sat down and began to talk and our talking propelled us into the late night. She is a repository of midwifery history and has firsthand knowledge of so many prosecutions. I was excited to find that our conclusions match to a T. Not that agreeing with me makes you right, but it certainly helps. šŸ™‚

 

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East Bend is Heaven on Earth

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Just outside Asheville, the view from the balcony in Black Mountain.

We awoke this morning in Asheville to find there were little flakes of white falling from the sky. My son believed it to be that mythical event he has read of but never witnessed: the falling of snow. Our hostess believed it was two warm and thought it was pine pollen.

But when we stepped outside to investigated it turned out that my son was right!

My children waltzed and spun and giggled, experiencing their first fall of snow. It seemed fitting to be the beauty of the Appalachians. Eventually I pulled them away for the drive to East Bend.

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East Bend, North Carolina

East Bend is a small, rural community a few miles west of Winston-Salem in North Carolina. We got off of the freeway near sunset. I was awestruck by the golden beauty that played over the rolling hills and through the barren winter-kissed trees.

We were visiting a fellow midwife-criminal.

Her home was warm, large and everything that the word “country” conjures in the romantic brain. The wrap around porch, chickens, cats, dogs, turkeys, garden and acres and acres of land that “doesn’t contain a thing that’ll hurtcha… go run off and explore!” was a welcome sight for the heart that ached from the growing statism of the northern south.

This midwife was loud, intelligent, outspoken, passionate and brilliant as the brightest star that was shining. We stayed up late discussing midwifery politics. I picked her brain and wished I could have stayed a month or more. I could spend years learning from this sage midwife who has been a helper of women for decades.

Her faith and calm tenacity in the face of a politic that wants to see us extinguished gave me hope and courage to keep pressing forward with my skill and determination to see midwives survive and mothers reclaim their human rights in birth.

We fell asleep in a haze of that joy which makes you want to cry in its’ presence. The peace here is legendary. The protection of God rests around her doorposts and I took refuge and slept deeply and undisturbed. Healing was in the corners and quiet places and permeated even the shadows there.

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Statist North Carolina

Midwifery is, for all intents and purposes, fully illegal.

Raw milk is a felony.

Liquor stores are run by the state.

Yet, I’ve never seen a larger collection of liberal hippies in my life.

You’d think they’d recognize the police state that North Carolina is becoming? Apparently the state has dressed itself in the pretties of the south and is taking on the southern skill of killing people with kindness.

I visited with a few midwives today and discussed, again, the failures of the women in this state to take back their own births. And then we visited with some anarchist friends to hear about further back biting and bickering.

The midwife I’m staying with actually had another midwife file a cease an desist against her. Told her not to practice in her “territory.” Since when are women’s vaginas the “territory” of anyone but who they admit?

Goodness. The southern me is blushing!

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Appalachian Mountains or Bust!

The kids basically had a slumber party last night. Bastion, the twelve year old, and my daughter and son stayed up talking until the wee hours of the morning. Poor kid had to wake up for school. Sorry… McCall kids are equal opportunity distractors.

And there was Minecraft. What can I say?

The journey today was a lazy one. The two hour drive to Asheville was interrupted by several stops and meandering on the border of the north and south of the Carolinas.

blue ridgeAnd then I saw it: The Appalachians! My old roommate spoke of this part of the country as if it were magic and I’ve wanted to see these mountains for myself. The Blue Ridge.

We ended up staying at a cabin home in the Black Mountains under the watchful eye of a wise woman of the hills here, a midwife and a fire-earthy personality whose passion for mother’s human rights puts me to shame.

We spent our evening talking about the status of midwifery and mothers here in North Carolina, late into the evening. It began to rain hard, thundering against the A frame roof. I’ve missed the rain, as we’ve had mid-70s sunny weather since we left the city of Angels.

Now to fall into a deep, mountain inspired sleep!

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The Bible Belt

churchWe arose early to the sound of hymns coming from the television. An extra fancy breakfast was spread for us before we even came out to say good morning. My granddaddy emerged in his best suit.

Sunday in the Bible belt. I was in for a culture shock.

The kids and I loaded up our luggage into the car, prepared to say goodbye to our longest stop thus far and re-enter the world of road travel.

But first, you can’t go to the south without visiting the little country church. So we piled into granddaddy’s car and drove to the First Presbyterian Church of Bay Minette for a service with about 50 people who reminded me very much of my grandparents’ friends in the church I attended as a little girl in Southern California. While formal in dress, theĀ informal, warm style of theĀ service and serving and the sermon about a countryside version of the Prodigal Son made me distinctly aware that I am not in the city or anywhere near it.

As I shook hands with the minister and thanked him for his encouragement to relinquish resentment and embrace gratitude, I noticed he was looking at me strangely. It didn’t occur to me until I left the building that the church is so small and the people so well acquainted that he noticed I was a visitor and didn’t want to be rude and ask.

Or maybe it was the tattoo on the back of my neck. Oh well, I’ve always been the black sheep.

After church my granddaddy treated us to another buffet. This one was larger and located in the small town of Stockton, Alabama. The warm southern drawl of the hostess made me feel like I’d stepped into a film about the south. Trinkets, nicknacks and plaques with Bible verses were set up on display and for sale in the entry.

In the main dining area, there was an elderly lady at a keyboard playing hymns. Three crosses decorated the table in front of her. Everyone eating was in their Sunday best.

My daughter looked at me and asked if we were in another church. I told her I think the whole state is one big church on Sunday.

After we ate, we big farewell to southern Alabama and made our way to Montgomery where we met up with a friend who drove to visit me to discuss the present state of midwifery in the country.

And by evening we were in South Carolina. Late at night. Sleeping in a “dirtier” part of the south that I hope to get a glimpse of in the next couple days. The Blue Ridge Mountains. I’ve dreamed of this part of the country most of my life.

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I Can Do That!

Today was a slow, restful day. I wasn’t feeling too great and I think all the traveling has worn me down. We stayed put, watched movies, chit chatted with my family and ate comfort food.

For dinner, my granddaddy took us out to eat at a buffet. I thought I knew what a buffet was, but I was sorely mistaken. This place felt like someone was having a bunch of folks over to their house for an informal meal. Nothing was fancy or corporate and the food was good and homecooked tasting.

My granddaddy stopped for a minute to say hello to an elderly couple that looked to be in their 90s. They were adorable. Still very obviously in love.

When he returned to our table he told me they were a couple who had lived in the area for a very long time. The husband was a Methodist minister who had retired and his wife had been a local school teacher. Everyone knew and respected them. Despite their age they still went out to eat quite often, although nowadays they are being driven around by someone younger. He said he always makes a point to stop and greet them when he sees them.

After dinner he told me that they had asked who he was with and he had explained that I was his granddaughter and my kids were his great grandchildren. He told them that I was on my way from California to New Hampshire and that I am a midwife by trade.

The wife spoke up here and said something very quietly. My granddaddy says she rarely talks and when she does her husband has to translate because her voice is so soft and shaky these days.

“What was that?” my granddaddy asked.

The Methodist minister translated by saying, “She says she can do that. Help birth babies.”

I don’t doubt it. I also don’t doubt that when she was doing so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I doubt she helped birth babies while looking over her shoulder for armed police. I’d love to see that threat disappear.

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My Dad, Part 2

JohnIt is never easy to visit the grave of anyone… But it is even harder to fail to visit.

I felt as if I were introducing my children to my father for the first time. Because, ultimately, I don’t think they really understood until today. There is something about kinesthetic learning that cements things for us.

We stopped to buy flowers and my granddaddy encouraged the kids to pick out some. I was amazed to find some blue (albeit altered to look that way) daisies. I remembered how adamant I had been at the young age of 8 that I take my daddy blue flowers. The nice florist looked for blue and there were none to be found so he took some carnations in the back and sprayed them with blue paint for me.

The drive out to the base in Pensacola, Florida,Ā was not only the first time my children had seen where my father is buried, but also the first time they have been on a military base. My daughter trembled and didn’t feel safe. My son was fascinated.

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My daddy at work.

My granddaddy’s wife sat and arranged flowers while my children noted the dates and names of the many soldiers around him. My daughter was in awe of how straight the rows were and that they seemed to go on forever.

“This place is really sad,” she finally sighed out.

We placed the flowers and took pictures and then headed out to lunch and trip to the aviation museum where my kids sat in every cockpit they could and pretended to fly. They also took a couple rides in a flight simulator that had 3-D visuals and really moved 360 degrees.

The bittersweetness of the day will be remembered for a lifetime to come. I think my daddy would have been proud of them.

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