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On Daily Scrabble

Today I received a letter from a friend in which she made interesting reflections about my comment in my holiday letter that I play Scrabble every night: “That sounds like a worthy practice, like playing the piano, or practicing plies at the barre. Aside from getting better at something and exercising the mind, practice is meditative. When I heard about the plan for daily practice I wondered what I did that was daily. I prepare for my teaching. I used to do yoga everyday, write in my journal, walk in the neighborhood, and now I go to the gym several times a week, and keep lists in my journal. In the summer, plant watering is a daily practice but not so much in the winter. Although watching Jim Lehrer news and Gwen Ifil are on the agenda, I don’t watch the news daily. You inspire me to think about practice I can keep daily.” And my friend’s letter prompted me to think about practice as “meditative”; a new thought for me. And, so, on this last day of January, do we still play Scrabble every night? Yes, even though, given our schedules, we often don’t start until 11 pm. As some of you know, we don’t keep score, so our play is companionable, not competitive, and, yes, we are getting better and exercising our minds, and yes, upon reflection, our daily Scrabble is “meditative.”

On Women’s History

Several weeks ago, I gave a speech at the annual meeting of the Alice Paul Institute about the amazing women in my recent book, Adventurous Women: Eight True Stories About Women Who Made a Difference. In talking about Peggy Hull, the first woman to become an accredited war correspondent, I mentioned that she got her start covering General John Pershing’s pursuit of Pancho Villa into Mexico in 1916. “My great aunt rode with Pershing,” a woman in the audience, named Ann Van Hise, said. Wow! I replied, tell me about her.

Recently Ann sent me a package of material about her amazing great aunt, Linda Konover Meirs, including a wonderful biography by Ann’s mother, Ruth Holmes Honadle(Linda Meirs’ niece). Ann’s mother also kept the actual awards and medals earned by her aunt. I’ll be writing about Linda Konover Meirs in another blog, but now I want to write about Ann and honor her for cherishing her great aunt’s memory and for speaking out about her female relative in a public place. And honor Ruth Holmes Honadle for writing the biography of her aunt and preserving the historical records and objects.

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