Setting up my desk for serious work, now that I’m done with the summer craziness this year. I re-hung the picture of my dad’s family above my desk, and sat pondering it for a while.

I struggle with not wanting to be “typical”; I don’t want to embody anyone’s idea of femininity; I don’t want to be passionate about plants, because that’s typically feminine; I don’t want to be passionate about wolves, because that’s so teenage girl; I don’t want an hourglass figure; I don’t want people to think they can put me in a box just by looking at me.

So I was looking at these pictures of my ancestors and a couple things occurred to me. First of all, with this heritage, it’s pretty darn unlikely that I would end up being “typical”. Buncha weirdos. Secondly, these women probably do embody someone’s definition of femininity, and that’s okay. Every picture is taken outside. There’s one of my grandmother in her 20’s on this huge jack mule, chomping at the bit. (The mule, I mean, but it seems like Ruth can hardly hold still long enough for the picture either.) There’s a picture of the old homestead, the car outside buried up to the windshield in snow (in the window of the cabin, I can see frilly lace curtains); another picture shows my grandmother and grandfather with the three kids, all preteen, bundled up in warm coats having a picnic under the trees somewhere in Montana. I know that these women gardened, and made school lunches, and canned tomatoes (some of them over old woodstoves), and sewed all their own clothes. And they also broke horses and learned to ride bareback long before they could afford their own saddles, and sawed down trees, and helped to build the brick chimney for the cabin, and split firewood, and hauled water from a hole chopped in the ice when the pipes froze in winter, and generally kicked ass. I suppose I could learn to be okay with embodying that sort of femininity.

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