Monday, March 31, 2014

Can A Woman? Yes She Can!

Can a woman be a doctor?
Yes she can, yes she can!
Can a woman drive a tractor?
Yes she can, yes she can!

Over the weekend I went Girl Scout camping with my mother. She still co-leads the Brownie troop I joined when I was 7 years old. Once a year they take the girls out to a lodge for campfires, nature walks, and activities. The girls do most of the cooking, and all of the dishes. My favorite part was always the singing on hikes, around the campfire, and before bed.

This time we went with a Junior troop, many of whom had bridged up from the Brownie troop. Luckily the rain held off long enough the first night to make s'mores around the fire. I had packed some song sheets and led them in pieces like "The Littlest Worm" and "The Little Green Frog" (who went mmm-at! mmm-at! mmm!). From the deepest recesses of my brain I even recalled the lyrics to "Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts"...I must have sung it often enough to lodge it firmly there.

The next day, we did badge work for "Fair Play" and "First Aid." My mom and another leader told the girls about Title IX, and they played some games with bean bags and balloons. One leader, K. is an EMT, so she and I each ran sessions about treating minor injuries, and I let them try out my stethoscope, reflex hammer, and tuning forks. For dinner the girls prepared Trefoil-crusted chicken tenders.

That night, we had a Scout's Own ceremony. It had been raining all day, so we sat in a circle inside to share our experiences from the weekend. This group was so rowdy that I had been surprised to discover that they preferred doing crafts to singing or playing games. Then we exchanged hand-made Secret Sister gifts. I got a yarn pom-pom in the shape of a flower from one of the other adults, and I gave G. a "Girl Scout Mom" certificate and a fantastical creature made out of pipe cleaners, pompoms, and googly eyes. Finally, we sang "Can a Woman?", which should be the unofficial anthem of Girl Scouts if it isn't already. To my utter delight, the girls liked it so much that they immediately demanded to sing it again.
Can a woman fight a fire?
Can a woman change a tire?
Can a woman lead a choir?
Yes she can, yes she can!
It had been such a long day that during bedtime snack I started counting down the minutes until I could put on my pajamas and slide into my sleeping bag. I was too tired even to read. About 10 o'clock one of the leaders got a phone call that G. and her daughter S. had gotten stuck in the mud, and could we help?* K. and I suited up and headed out in her jeep without a second thought--but we neglected to bring flashlights. What kind of Girl Scouts are we, anyway??

We left her car on the black top and trudged down a grassy slope toward the headlights. Instead of following the "exit" sign, G. had listened to her GPS, slid off the road, and ended up in the middle of field, since the only way she had been able to get any traction was in reverse. We pushed from the back, but the mud was too slippery. In the absence of kitty litter, we raided a nearby fire pit for ashes. Nope. We went back for branches to lay in the mud to stand on. No dice. We even pushed from the front with sheets under the tires to see if the car could back up onto firmer ground, but the soil was totally waterlogged.

Meanwhile, poor S. was beside herself. After a long, over-stimulating day, it was dark, cold, raining, and past her bedtime. Watching her mother struggle with her relatively new car had pushed her to the breaking point. When it became clear that a tow truck was needed, I offered to take S. back to the lodge in K.'s jeep. On the way up the slope by the light of her flashlight (what a good scout!), I explained that she was experiencing Girl Scouting at its finest: we were helping each other and solving problems. This was first aid for the car: like tending a fresh wound or broken ankle, we had done what we could, and now it was time for the professionals.



When I got back to the lodge, one of the leaders pointed out that
I had soot all over my forehead (from wiping the hair out of my
eyes.) She said it looked like I had been out doing "war games."

Around midnight, a tow truck was finally on its way. But by the time G. and K. got from the lodge to the field, it was already stuck in the mud, right next to G.'s car. The driver (and the buddy along for the ride) had ignored K.'s warnings to stay on the black top. The truck had 4-wheel drive, but it wasn't a heavy one, just a converted light truck. And they driven right onto the field. She could hardly believe the sheer stupidity of it. They didn't take any of her other suggestions, either, and she decided not to belabor the fact that from her EMT experience she might actually know what she was talking about. Between them and several belts around nearby trees, they managed to unstick both vehicles by about 3:30 am.


G. and S. spent the night on the couches and left first thing in the morning. Once everyone was up, we got the girls all packed and the lodge all cleaned. K., the other leader, and I wanted to see the aftermath of the previous night's debacle, which the camp handyman had described in dire terms. 


Foreground: tow truck tracks. Middle ground: tow truck and car tracks.
If you can see the large log back where the grass meets the tree line,
that's how far away the car was. Background: Susquehanna River.

But just as we got ready to set out--K.'s jeep wouldn't start. After jumping it, again, we drove over to the scene of the slime. It was still raining. K. left the engine running as we inspected the sets of tracks from the black top. The ruts were not as bad as we had feared. Fixing them would be a good Eagle Scout project. The tow truck guy had left one of his belts around a tree.

In the car on the way back to town, K. and I traded ghost tales, medic stories, shared our gardening plans, and talked about our new nieces. Girl Scouts are sisters indeed!
Just you wait until we're older
Then you'll see! Then you'll see!
We'll be women in tomorrow's
History, history!
Home that afternoon, my mother and I faced the prospect of no internet (which also means no home phone). Although I've set up home internet before, technology really isn't her thing. When my youngest brother moved in temporarily, he had shifted the home office from the basement to an upstairs bedroom. My father moved the home office back downstairs while we were camping and before he left for Texas--and now the internet inexplicably wouldn't go. After fiddling around with the computer, modem, and router, we called India. The IT person was marginally helpful...and didn't call back when we tried to test the phone jack. The brother needed to shower before coming over to try to fix it. So we trooped upstairs to scope out the situation. My mother noticed a few doohickeys hadn't made the transfer, and I pointed out that one of the jacks had a phone # written on it. Back downstairs, I doubted the usefulness of the splitters--and it turned out the other jack there also had a phone # on it. Whoop! Cable unplugged from one jack and plugged into the other: internet.

"Can a woman?" crowed my mother. "I think that's the trifecta!" Yes, a woman can get a car out of the mud (more or less), jump a dead car battery, and set up an internet connection.


The IT guy called back 4 hours later, since he had to close the ticket to end his shift. My mother told him we had taken care of it.

As we grow up through the years
We'll sing out loud and clear
Can we start the process here?
Yes, we can, yes we can!

* - Names have been changed to protect the embarrassed.

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