Monthly Archives: March 2017



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Women in Antarctica

How far would you go to prove that you have all the brains (and brawn) of your male counterparts?

To the ends of the Earth?

Well, that’s exactly what the 76 women scientists of the Homeward Bound 2016 expedition did.

History’s largest female voyage to Antarctica was neither a vacation nor a simple fulfillment of wild-woman wanderlust. It was a landmark statement heard around the globe in response to prevailing sentiments of discouragement and sexism in the scientific realm. Shockingly, the United States didn’t allow American women to work in Antarctica until 1969, and it has been an uphill battle since then for women to get a foothold on the icy continent.

Photo by Vincent van Zeijst via Wikimedia Commons

The challenge inspired women’s leadership activist Fabian Dattner. Last year, she joined forces with Ecosystem Modeler Jessica Melbourne-Thomas to send a boat full of women to Antarctica on a mission that would serve both scientific and gender-equality agendas.

Simply put, women want to take an active role in protecting the planet, and this opportunity sought to fling the door wide open for them. The Homeward Bound expedition’s motto became, “Mother Nature needs her daughters.”

“You feel something inside you that makes you want to take care of people and the planet,” French population modeler and expedition participant Deborah Pardo, who attributes a portion of her passion to motherhood, explained to CNN. “Women have this drive to ensure the sustainability of the environment and the welfare of their families.”

And so, after nearly a year of training, 76 women from around the world—ranging in professions from marine ecologists to doctors, physicists and astronomers—set sail from Argentina on December 2.

Destination: Antarctica.


After two and a half weeks at sea, the women set foot on the wildly remote shores of the earth’s southernmost landscape.

“Antarctica represents the relative fragility of the natural world, but it is also an environment that can provide us with a lot of information about what’s happening on the global scale,” said Melbourne-Thomas. “Antarctica is an important system in terms of providing us with early warnings about climate change, but also a way to untangle the effect of multiple changes in the environment.”

Photo by Andrew Shiva via Wikimedia

According to CNN, the Antarctic expedition was part of a 10-year project to help women in science cultivate their clout. “The 10-year goal, starting with Homeward Bound 2016, is to engage, encourage and support a diverse pool of women into leadership roles where they can shape policy and decision making. The hope is to establish one great network of 1,000 women with backgrounds in science collaborating for a shared vision.”

Melbourne-Thomas added, “We just really can’t afford to have the voice of women missing at the leadership table. Women bring a diversity of approaches and a whole range of complementary skills and styles in terms of science, and leadership more generally.”

Plans are now underway for a second all-female trip to Antarctica in February 2018.

Learn more at

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What’s That Sillage?

What’s that smell? No, not the stuff in the silo (silage)—that distinct odor of fermenting corn or hay—but that lovely, faint, lingering scent …



(n.) the scent that lingers in air, the trail left in water, the impression made in space after something or someone has been and gone; the trace of someone’s perfume.

French, literally, wake/trail

A poetical word, to be sure, when romancing over a love long-gone.

But perhaps you find sillage in other places and spaces …

… like when you pull up in your car to pick up your children from school and they sense the lingering aroma of the cheeseburger you wolfed down a moment earlier. Suspicion arises.

That kind of sillage … not so poetical.

Or when you move into a new house and smell the persistent bouquet of a woman’s perfume. But only at midnight. On Halloween.

Thanks to that type of sillage, you now know to pack up and move once again.

How about the sillage of your grandmother’s hand lotion, your dad’s motor oil, or the scent of a new baby’s scalp?

Only the nose knows.

Photo by Angela Andriot via Wikimedia Commons

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Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is … Arlene Woods!!!

Arlene Woods (Whirlwindwoman, #7241) has received a certificate of achievement in Garden Gate for earning a Beginner Level Backyard Farmer Merit Badge!

“I have 15 laying hens. (Started out with 18, but a hawk was killing them.) I finally learned how to butcher a chicken! One of my friends showed me how to do it without the boiling water—just butcher them like we do the rabbits! So much easier.

I feed my girls organic grain and they free range for insects and have pasture.

We have enjoyed the large brown eggs and good meat that we know is healthy. My son wants to add Russian meat rabbits this year and we are doubling our flock to include a heritage breed. (Right now we have a hybrid – Golden Comets.)”

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Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Weaving In and Out, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,328 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,420 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Stitching and Crafting/Weaving In and Out Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Piper, Andy, and I stepped up the ante. Now that we were pretty proficient at how to braid and make our own friendship bracelets,

photo by Nina Helmer via

we had to branch out and …

make another using a different material this time and give one away.

Seemed simple enough. Aww, naiveté, thy name is Jane …

We already had enough friendship bracelets to adorn most of the neighborhood (and in Andy’s case, the local football team), but we were fresh outta yarn. We pondered and pondered: what else could be braided?

Well, that was a loaded question for Lil’ Miss Pipes.

“What can’t be braided?” she rephrased, in delight.

Umm, turns out that became a list.

Things That Cannot Be Braided:
• Rocks
• Granola bars
• Chicken feathers
• Beef jerky
• Sticks of gum
• All the electrical cords behind the entertainment cabinet (but only cuz Dad says no)
• Toothbrushes
• Dog’s ears (but only because they won’t sit still long enough)
• Kitten’s tails (see above)
• Forks
• Spoons
• Knives

And how do we know these items aren’t braidable, you might ask? Because we didn’t attempt them, naturally … sigh.

The next list seemed more fun (not to mention, more applicable).

Things That CAN Be Braided:
• Yarn
• Ribbons
• Shoelaces (not while people are wearing them, though. Not nice, Andy)
• Some flower stalks or long grasses
• Strips of cloth or lace
• Rickrack
• Your mom’s purse straps
• Your dad’s belts
• Curly ribbon on packages/gifts
• Headbands and hair ties
• Curtain tie-backs
• Fringe
• Shirt sleeves (Don’t ask. I think they were making homemade strait jackets or something.)
• Fruit leather (sticky, but worth the flavor combination)
• Licorice sticks
• Dental floss
• Bungee cords
• Bread dough
• Embroidery floss
• Men’s dress socks or girl’s knee-highs

I think the list would have gone on all day and night, but we needed to get crackin’ on actually accomplishing a few completed bracelets and then gifting them. This likely would have led to another list, but I snagged the pencil from Piper. Sheesh, if there’s a badge for List Making that kiddo would be Chapter Leader in no time.

photo by Bunches and Bits {Karina} via

There are approximately 7.4 billion people in the world right now.

We have nearly enough friendship bracelets for everyone.

I’m. Not. Even. Kidding.

photo by Diane Industrialart Purdie via

Piper and Andy picked out the very best, the most beautiful, the one that took the most work and time, the one they treasured out of them all, and they gave it to …


Don’t be jelly of my fruit leather, hollyhock stalk, dental floss, and ribbon bracelet, my farmgirls. It is one of a kind, yes, but you too can have a priceless symbol of your neighbor kids’ affection. Just teach them this badge!

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