an unexpected Thanksgiving

The five of us sat around a small dinner table lit by two candles in the center last night for an impromptu Thanksgiving meal inspired by none other than the traditional holiday gobbler known as the turkey. Our hostess, Kati, said she bought the large turkey breast at the grocery store this week and when she looked at it, she realized it was the perfect size to share so she invited Pretty and me along with two other friends, Brenda and Sheila Go (so as not to be confused with Sheila Slo) to celebrate Thanksgiving with her in her home.

Before we ate, we held hands and had what Kati called a “mindful moment” which was our version of saying grace, a moment that instantly transported me to the Thanksgivings of my past with my family in Texas that was no more – a moment that connected me to the friends at the table who had become part of my family in South Carolina during the past 45 years. Tears mingled with laughter as we remembered how we met, the ups and downs of our journeys both together and separate, the stages of life behind us…those still to come…the wonder of European butter.

During the coming holiday season I hope you will have an opportunity to experience the power of family in the presence of the unexpected. Discover a moment to tell someone how much they mean to you, how much you love them – take kindness to another level.

Pretty and I wish all of our friends in cyberspace a Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for you.






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It’s a Book! It’s a Book!

I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control, and I think I like it!

The Pointer sisters couldn’t have been more excited about their music than I am about my new book, Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home, which is now available for pre-orders on Amazon and should be released in early December!

Four years ago next month I went to the Guild Christmas Party and had a good visit with one of my favorite people, Harriet Hancock. We sipped our cocktails and talked about the importance of preserving stories like hers for future generations – the more we talked, the more convinced we became that the idea was worth exploring. We decided to get together after the holidays to talk about it again.

During that same holiday season in 2013 Teresa and I had Christmas at Dick Hubbard and Curtis Rogers’s farm in Hopkins with our friends Dave and Saskia and their son Finn. I mentioned the idea to Dave of an oral history book with the stories of some of the organizers of the lgbtq movement in South Carolina – told him about my conversation with Harriet the night before. Dave, who is an American History scholar at the University of South Carolina, said such a book could be very helpful to the literature. Later on, Dave introduced me to one of the acquisitions editors, Alex Moore, at the University of South Carolina Press.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Through personal interviews, fabulous storytelling, laughter, tears, shared memories – I had the privilege of getting to understand why these ordinary people did extraordinary work that changed the environment for lgbtq issues in a rural conservative southern state. Amazing. Awesome. Truly a must-read.

Jim Blanton, Candace Chellew-Hodge, Matt Chisling, Michael Haigler, Harriet Hancock, Deborah Hawkins, Dick Hubbard, Linda Ketner, Alvin McEwen, Ed Madden and Bert Easter, Sheila Morris, Pat Patterson, Jim and Warren Redman-Gress, Nekki Shutt, Tony Snell, Carole Stoneking, Tom Summers, Matt Tischler, and Teresa Williams.

“In Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement, Sheila Morris has curated a gallery of queer activists’ stories. If the SC Historical Commission ever casts around for some new figures for all the surplus bronze, this book has a hero for every platform.”–Kate Clinton, feminist humorist, contributor to the Progressive and the Huffington Post

I have a special page that will be on this site permanently at the top of my blog – please read it for reviews and other important information about events, signings, the official book launch.

Stay tuned.



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where in the world is the old woman Slow?

Oh, yes there she is under all the covers while wearing 4 layers of clothes…Charly and Spike huddled next to her.

Jeopardy Question: If four trees fall in your front yard because they are being purposefully cut down, do they make a noise?

And the answer is: Yes…just ask Charly and Spike who are afraid it means the end of times and are stuck like glue to Slow.

Jeopardy Question: How many heating and air companies does it take to fix the heat at Casita de Cardinal?

And the answer is The Daily Double: We have no idea – today makes 3 and counting.

Have a great weekend, cyberspace friends – we are meeting our Best Gay Boys Basketball Buddies at the first Gamecock women’s basketball game tonight. Not only are we hoping for a win – we also hope to stay warm for several hours with the other 10,000 fans in the Colonial Life Arena! Go Gamecocks!!



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if I could turn back time…oh that’s right, I can

Each year we have an opportunity to turn back time for an hour which is probably less than Cher was singing about when she had her hit song but then hey, nothing’s perfect.

I don’t like fiddling around with time twice a year with the fall back, spring forward shenanigans we have manufactured to trick ourselves because doing so makes me question whether time is real or an illusion. If we can recklessly give and take an hour every year, who’s to say that hour really exists…and then I go downhill from there about the whole issues of time travel, is one hour really sixty minutes or is that just a television show, who shot JR…you see, some rabbit holes are better left to rabbits.

Today I watered the plants in the back yard which is a leading indicator of rain.

As the rain fell softly, I happened to look out in our front yard and saw the spectacular combination of the last brilliant summer pink crape myrtle blossoms competing with the burst of other colors that signify autumn is here.

I may have to turn back time tonight, but this is an hour I don’t want to lose.





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Pretty has Halloween treats – no tricks

Happy Halloween to our cyberspace amigos from all of us at Casita de Cardinal – hope you  have fun and high frivolity complete with walking dead figures as far as the eye can see…

I have never been a costume person, but I rarely meet a piece of chocolate candy I don’t like so Halloween isn’t a total washout for me.

Permit me to offer one memory of a Trick or Treat I went on with my friend Butch Foster when I was a little girl living in Richards, Texas. I must have been five or six years old, and Butch was a couple of years older. It wasn’t the candy I remember – no, not the candy.  But I can still smell and taste the homemade popcorn balls made with fresh popcorn and Karo syrup that my grandmother gave us when we knocked on her door. My hands got so sticky when I ate the popcorn ball, but who cared. It was scrumptious. (I’m not sure Butch was as impressed as I was.)

And now, here’s a treat from Pretty that will surely send you racing to her antique booths in Little Mountain this week – check out the chair and bench!


Stay tuned.

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The deadline for entries at midnight last night passed without the usual flurry of last minute entries for the Peace and Kindness Fourth Annual Memorable Quotes Contest, and the entries were fewer in number this year but overflowing with outstanding quality.  In other words, choice.

The theme of Peace and Kindness was liberally interpreted, I might add, and I was good with that. However, the Daddy Glenn L. Morris Award for Quote Mastery goes to Barbara Embick of Gilbert, South Carolina for her quote and the inspiration of kindness from the woman who gave it to her. Barbara will receive a check of $75. for the following entry:

“One of the people in our town that was frequently in need of help was a guy named Hoagie Hill, don’t know his real name, just Hoagie Hill. Hoagie was probably 40 – 50ish, lived by himself, hermit like because Hoagie stuttered and some of the town people frequently made fun of him or were mean to him. It was quite sad actually. My mother always made sure Hoagie had a meal and always had a friend in her and our family. There was one night as a 5 or 6 year old that I talked to my mother trying to grasp an understanding about why Mom took such extra special care of Hoagie. I particularly didn’t understand because we had a lot of issues ourselves and I guess it seemed like we didn’t have food to spare or the kindness to give. My mother discussed the situation with me and said Barbara, ‘there will always be someone who needs more than we do.’ That’s why the town folk loved her; despite our situation, she always looked for the underdog and she always gave to those in need spiritually and physically. It was a valuable lesson for me and one I always try to live by.

BTW, I loved Hoagie Hill.”

My Old Woman Slow Award for Close but no Cigar goes to Lisa Martin in Montgomery, Texas. Lisa sent not one, but three, quotes and I couldn’t possibly choose one above the other so her prize of $50. goes for all three:

“Kindness is a language that the blind can see and the deaf can hear.” Mark Twain

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” Steve Maraboli

“Kindness is just love with its work boots on.” Unknown

The Granny Selma Award for Trying and a check for $25. goes to Ann D’Onofrio of Eagleville, Pennsylvania who also had two quotes from her mother and a circuitous route of connecting them to the theme of Peace and Kindness:

“Here are two quotes from my mother. One sort of fits the theme if you squint, the other…well let me do some mental gymnastics.

One applies to President Kazoo: Mom, trying to give me a sense of perspective, once said about him as a candidate: ‘He chatters through his own teeth.’ She often said that about politicians and religious men, though she was a devout Roman Catholic and Republican. It was her grandfather’s version of ‘he likes to hear himself speak.’ So I guess that’s a ‘kind’ way of keeping one’s inner ‘peace.’ I know…stretch…The next one even more so.

‘I’m living my golden years. I get all the years and my doctors get all the gold.’

So maybe resignation to one’s fate brings peace? She wasn’t one to suffer fools gladly, so this was a way for her to maintain her equilibrium over outrageous medical costs. By the way, Republican that she was, she felt we needed national health care. That was the nurse who saw many years of suffering speaking.

Wonderful, wonderful quotes and fabulous stories from you all and to quote another anonymous “quoter,” your check’s in the mail.

Finally, a Very Special Grand Prize goes to Warren Wood of Dennard, Arkansas who totally ignored this year’s theme but scored HUGE points with the judge with his entry:

“Just because you were elected president doesn’t mean you are presidential.” Sheila Morris

Warren, if you were here, I would give you a big hug and if I were Ellen DeGeneres, I would send you a check from Shutterfly for $10,000. Since neither of those is the case, I will send you a check for $25. and a cyberspace hug.

Thanks so much to all of you for participating in this year’s Memorable Quotes Contest.

Hm…what will we do next year for Cinco de Quotes contest…

Stay tuned. Have a great weekend, everybody.



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man of Appalachia

When Walker Williams (83) and his brother Dit (89) go looking for a good time these days, they get in Walker’s car and take a drive north and east of Landrum, South Carolina where Walker lives now toward a tiny holler called Spillcorn in Madison County, North Carolina where both brothers were born…literally…in a home that has stood the test of time deep in the heart of Appalachia.

no wonder the brothers come back here to their old home place

yep, Spill Corn is a real place

 Walker’s cousin John offers a drink of cool water to anyone who drops by

one country store in the back hollers of Madison County

Walker leads the way inside

(I think the rice krispie treats were homemade – delicious)

The little convenience store is like the old general stores – it has a little bit of everything. If you’re on a long drive, you better make a quick stop and visit with Ethel who likes to know who you are, who your people are, and what you’re doing way out here.

Appalachia unvarnished

According to our tour guide Walker (who is Pretty’s father btw), the tobacco barns are empty now, the cattle herds smaller and the only source of revenue left for most of the people who have remained in this remote area is logging…raiding their timber to sell down the mountains.

deep poverty exists in these mountains, and yet an occasional oasis appears 


this road leads to the notorious Appalachian Trail

thank goodness the “color came late this year”

pair of goats interested in visitors – any snacks?


another cousin, Robert, cuts his wood for any neighbors

who might need it in the harsh winter

a river runs through it…the sounds of rushing water penetrate the stillness

 the barns of Madison County – Walker has asked me to

make a photo book for him – he already has captions for the images


we’ll have plenty of material for his book

this man of Appalachia saying goodbye to the mountains for today –

until next time

Such a treat to spend the day with Pretty, her dad and sister Darlene in the middle of these magnificent vistas that are an important part of their family history. As my friend Meghan commented on Facebook, “these are the good ol’ days for you.”

Right on, sister.


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Pray, Mourn, Repeat

Source: Pray, Mourn, Repeat

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corner of Main and Laurel – parade starts here

where are my peeps?

where’s our group?

for sure YOU rock, little sis!

These girls rock, too – ALL TOGETHER NOW!

you girls totally rock!

my chariot for the parade – SC Gay and Lesbian Guild parade entry

(Thanks to Mar-la-ti-dah (l.) for giving up her ride in the Guild chariot)

Guild President CC (r.) drove us and served as dj for our fabulous parade music

(oh, no, she didn’ have ABBA and Dancing Queen  oh, yes, she DID!)

Robin Ridgell and the Famously Hot Mar-la-ti-dah strategize before parade

floats getting ready!

hurry up – don’t be late

Pretty waiting for Matt Tischler’s Light Brigade to organize

Baby Tonks’s very first Pride Parade – Mother beaming

this family walked beside me and made me proud

Rob is ready!

Let’s go!

The Pride Parade made an important statement once again to the city of Columbia and the state of South Carolina as we laughed, sang and chanted our way down Main Street for the first nighttime parade in our history. The crowds on the sidewalk clapped, cheered and waved their own flags to the gays and their families and friends who they knew were taking a stand for equality in a time when equality is under attack by a hostile administration in Washington, D.C.

I will never forget the older attractive African American woman sitting in a wheel chair on the sidewalk waving a small Pride flag at me as we rode by her. She was smiling with real happiness for what she was witnessing, and that brought tears of joy to my eyes.

Nothing rained on my parade last night – none of the usual group of protesters appeared – and my last view as we left Main Street was my favorite float.

Stand against hate. All together now.

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I just love the gays!


Friday Night, October 20th. 7 – 11 p.m. on Main Street

Pretty will be marching with the Rainbow Light Saber Brigade led by annual head cheerleader for the gay Pride celebrations Light Brigade Captain Matt Tischler who says there are a few spots available in his regiment tonight so check with his FB page for updates and instructions on where to meet and when.

This is our first year for a nighttime Pride Parade in the almost 30-year history of Pride Parades so Light It Up, Columbia!

Tomorrow the Famously Hot South Carolina Pride Festival starts at noon and goes on until ??  Take the whole family, why don’t you?? The Harriet Hancock LGBT Center sponsors a special area for children’s entertainment.

P.S. I hope to see you tonight – I’ll be wearing my Pride beads in memory of Freddie Mullis and in honor of Dick Hubbard who loaned them to me to wear in Pride Events until they find a permanent home in the Queer Section of the Caroliniana Library at USC. Freddie and Dick wore these colorful beads, bracelets and rings in the 1993 March on Washington.

P.S.P.S. I won’t be walking with Pretty – I’ll be riding in the Business Guild automobile with the Famously Hot Mar-lah-ti-dah who ended her instructions for our meeting tonight with the words, I just love the gays. I do, too, and we party tonight in Columbia, South Carolina!!


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