William “Bill” Chester Powell (April 26, 1947 – May 25, 2017)

My cousin Bill died yesterday following a battle with his own body for almost eight years. He was 70 years old.

I spoke with his mother Eloise this morning about my admiration for the courage Bill had displayed throughout his confinement as well as his wife Donna’s steadfast support while she helped her husband through the difficult activities of daily living. Eloise said simply, Bill was a trooper.

Yes. Not all troopers are in the armed services.

This weekend is Memorial Day, and I am immeasurably grateful for every soldier who serves today to protect our country from harm. I appreciate their families, their personal sacrifices, and the bravery required to face our enemies at home and abroad. These enemies multiply even as we alienate our friends and struggle to identify ever-changing battlefields. In the midst of a chaotic world our military personnel are asked to protect and defend us with their own lives if necessary. Thankful seems like such a small word for what our soldiers do, but thankful is how I feel.

My cousin Bill had a very real foe in his war with his health, but he won’t get a medal or ribbon for his valor. Instead, in the end he was surrounded by the love of his family and the hope that he will be remembered as a good man who refused to surrender during a very long haul. A worthy legacy.

my cousin Boybaby swinging

with his sister Frances pushing him,

me climbing the ladder, and Bill trying to ignore us 

playing on a swing set at my home in Richards, Texas

circa 1952

only children Bill and me at a family reunion

Bill’s maternal grandfather was my paternal grandmother’s brother, and his maternal grandmother was my paternal grandfather’s sister – sometimes our reunions were confusing, but our families were close and loved each other.

I will miss Bill. Rest in peace, cousin.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Charly’s First Anniversary

Imagine my surprise when Pretty called me this afternoon to tell me today was the one-year anniversary of our adoption of Charly from pawmetto lifeline, the place that had rescued the little dog from the kill shelter here in Columbia when her family of origin turned her in with a bad case of heart worms and an equally bad case of pregnancy. She had 11 puppies a year ago, and the eight who survived had already been adopted by forever homes when we met her. Charly a/k/a Dawn to her friends at pawmetto lifeline, hadn’t been so fortunate.

I couldn’t believe it’s been a year since we adopted her…

The blinds incident on Day 1 at Casa de Canterbury

(separation anxiety was a bit of a problem at first)

But look at her now! She runs this place – literally.

she’ll be comin’ round the mountain – wheeeee!

(at warp speed)

hey, dude – shake a leg

Spike had been bereft after losing the final members of his pack last spring, but his pace has picked up with Charly in the house.

Charly has been a delight and joy for our family in the past year – she brings a little something extra to the mix. We are the better for her spark in our family dynamics – and we like to think we’ve given her an extra helping of love in return. It’s a win-win situation.

I just love it when a plan comes together.

Posted in Humor, Life, Personal, photography, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Never Let Go of Your Baby

Cra-zy days, la, la, la…for me and you…we remain in a topsy-turvy state at Casita de Cardinal as we try to settle in. Three days of rain have thrown Charly and Spike for a loop as they boycott the outdoors. I have been thrown for a loop, too, but not by the rain. This afternoon Charly had had enough of the chaos in her world and took refuge in her favorite baby. 

Once again the chaos of the world outside our home makes us all wish we had a “baby” for comfort. We stand with the people of Manchester and Great Britain tonight as they mourn the losses of their loved ones in senseless crimes against innocent children and their families. There are no words.

When everything around you has

gone to hell in a hand-basket,

 hang on to your baby.


Posted in Humor, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 8 Comments

An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor

Source: An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor

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Aunt Selma’s funnies

In 2007 Pretty and I had to make a life-changing decision for my mother Selma because she was unable to make decisions for herself anymore. Like many other Baby Boomers, I was responsible for my mother’s care; I moved her from her home in Rosenberg, Texas to a Memory Care Unit in a long-term care facility in Houston that was 40 miles from her home. She was 80 years old at the time and furious with me for moving her. She was never able to go back to her home. I managed her care from a thousand miles away in South Carolina (and ultimately from a second home in Texas) as she progressed through the various stages of dementia for five years until her death.

My mother’s older brother Charlie had five children – the youngest of my first cousins is Dennis who lived near her Houston residence and visited her while she was there. His mother Mildred and my mother were good friends as well as sisters-in-law. In honor of both of our mothers for Mother’s Day, Dennis sent me this wonderful bittersweet collection of his memories of visits with her in Houston. He calls them Aunt Selma’s funnies.

There was not one time that she did not recognize me upon my entry into this huge warm room that had a giant bird-cage full of birds and a very large aquarium. As soon as she saw me enter and walk towards her, she would smile and kind of turn her face sideways, giving the appearance of a pleasant surprise, and say, “Well looky here, precious darling, you came all that long way to come and see me today! Oh my goodness! ! I just can’t believe it, that you are here. How nice.” “Come on in here now precious,
let’s go to my room, I want you all to myself. Tell me something about the family, anything at all, please?”

Now the “precious darling” quote goes all the way back to Christmases of long ago, the times that our family planned to go to her and my Uncle Glenn’s home for Christmas dinner. We would drive up into the driveway and she would beat us to the welcoming ceremony and come racing out of the house towards us, dressed in a solid red pant suit, hollering “Precious darlings, come on in, come on in!!!” The day was filled with sights and activity that I would usually only get to see every other year or so. A silver Christmas tree, or one that had been flocked, my family never ever had a tree with snow sprayed on it, and as a child, this was most interesting to me, and I always wondered how the white stuff got there and if it was going to disappear one night during the season. 

Then there were the card tables set up everywhere with plates and glasses, to be eaten on by the over flow attendance of family members, and then later for cards and dominoes with coffee cups. Upstairs was the giant’play’ room with the pool table, dart board, and golf green runway where you could practice your one shot putting.

Now back to my wonderful Aunt, after this flood of Christmas memory would escape me, as we left other smiling gents and grannies in the Memory Care unit’s commons area and proceeded to her room.

“Aunt Selma, did you hear about that bad storm last night?  There were some houses that were destroyed by the wind, but not one single person was even slightly injured!! And a school bus ran off the road in all that water, and each and every child was pulled from the water and saved.” ” I’m tellin’ you right now Dennis, God is on his throne!!” “Yes, Aunt Selma, indeed he is!”

“Well you know I’ve said this before and now I must say it again, I really do miss Mildred so much and just can’t believe that she is gone!” “I know Aunt Selma, I still can’t believe it either, it just doesn’t seem right.” ‘I know, oh HOW I know, it’s just not right. She always came to see me, she would make those trips down to West Columbia and always stop by and stay a few nights with me. Can’t believe it!” “I know what you mean Aunt Selma.”

“Some one stole my car about two or three years ago, and they took my hearing aids too, they were in the car.” 

“You know we have a church service here, but it’s not Baptist.”
“Sheila doesn’t go to church, it hurts, but it will be OK.
“Here, have a lemon square and a few cookies, I just love them, and they are free. They put this stuff out all the time for us to snack on. Go ahead, take one of these packages of graham crackers also, all are free.”

I expressed a desire to take her out to lunch sometime: “No reason, we can always eat right here, and it’s all free, it’s all on this account that Sheila handles for me.”
“I’m sorry I have to say it again, but I sure miss Mildred, you could call her and ask a question and she would always have the answer, and gave good advice too, you know that?” “Yes Aunt Selma, she sure did.”

“A lot of folks here have a wreath hanging on their door for Christmas, but I don’t.” Oh Aunt Selma I would love to bring you one next time I come.” ‘No thanks precious, that’s being taken care of; someone is bringing me one from my place in Richmond Rosenberg. You know, I used to have a house with all this stuff in it.”
“I’ll try to tell you this without crying, this will be the first Christmas that Sheila can’t make it here to see me.” “Well Aunt Selma, I’ll come to see you then, and I’ll bring one of my nephews with me.” “Okay then, that would be great, then it will be just like all the other Christmases.” “Yes, it sure will.”

Thank you,  Cousin Dennis, for sharing your memories of Aunt Selma’s funnies – and for the visits that inspired them. I had to laugh out loud when you mentioned the “stolen” car comment. Having to take her car away from her was the beginning of the end of her independence. I guess she always knew that on some level.

I miss our mothers especially on Mother’s Day, and I miss you, too.

Dennis (r.) and his brother Martin

on their way to visit Aunt Selma

Posted in Humor, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Pretty and her pool…

Pretty is in love again – this time with her swimming pool.

where, oh where, is Pretty?

Charly thinks Pretty may be inside…

but no one comes to the door. 

Pretty’s birthday bouquet

Pretty has a birthday this week, and the flowers poolside are blooming in honor of her special day.

Happy Birthday, Pretty – I love and adore you.

Posted in Personal, photography, Slice of Life | Tagged | 25 Comments

home is where the horseshoes hang

horseshoes moved in with Pride

getting ready for summer in South Carolina

I’m so thirsty…

hey, can you drink this stuff?

I’ll give it a whirl…

OMG, that water was n-a-s-t-y

“The Calla Lilies are in bloom…”

Does anyone remember that line from a famous old movie?

Hint: Katherine Hepburn was the actress who recited it.

Happy Mother’s Day to every mother wherever you are from the children who were your worst nightmares and, often simultaneously,  your dreams come true. Thank you.

Posted in Life, Personal, photography, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

you’re a liar and the truth ain’t in you

Whew. Moving requires much more focus and energy than I remembered. It’s like trying to fill this all-consuming time capsule with the horrible transition stories just waiting to be buried in the back yard and dug up in two years when we hopefully will be finished with this insanity.

And speaking of insanity. I’ve watched the news on my new over-sized TV less frequently in the last few weeks due to capturing the time capsule horrors in real life, but today I got up early while Pretty slept and I decided to resume my daily morning news update. I have to admit I was intrigued by the intrigue of the James Comey firing earlier this week.

My go-to coverage from Morning Joe on MSNBC didn’t disappoint. Mika watched in her usual silence as Morning Joe ranted and raved with various political expert guests regarding their feelings about the unorthodox untimely long distance removal of the FBI Director James Comey three days ago. The consensus was, as has apparently been the pattern for this administration in its early days according to the experts, someone(s) was lying about something. Calling for a special prosecutor in the matter of Russian interference in the 2016 United States election process to include the timing of the Comey firing was a no-brainer, said the talking heads.

Today I decided to heed the advice of former President Obama who suggested we might all get along better if we branched out in what we watched for news. I said farewell to Morning Joe with their segment on the Russian diplomats’ visit to the Oval Office yesterday because I was stunned that their pictures came from Russian journalists since no American news reporters had been invited. A presidential visit to Russia in July to meet with Putin had evidently been one of the topics of discussion in this meeting. I shook my head, thought Seriously? Now?, and changed to CNN.

Ah, CNN…more Comey discussion. Excellent. Fresh perspectives. Not so much. Why was Comey fired?  The CNN reporter was full of answers. Subsequent revelations indicated Director Comey had recently asked for more resources to pursue the Russian investigation and the possible Trump campaign connection which might have signaled the complex case was about to receive increased attention by the FBI.

The more likely answer, however, according to the CNN reporter was that James Comey’s testimony in a Senate hearing recently hit DT’s “sweet spot” which was any question related to the integrity of the 2016 election. Comey at one point during the hearing had stated he had become “mildly nauseous at the thought that he might have changed the outcome of the election to Trump.” Okay. Game over. You’re fired.

Time to change the channel again. This time I switched to Fox News where a segment on the Comey firing was squeezed in between an interview with Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece regarding the demonstration at the historically black college Bethune Cookman graduation against guest speaker Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (a protest Dr. King’s niece opposed) and an interview with Hollywood actor Dwayne Johnson who is considering running for President in 2020.

In the Fox Comey segment, their reporter was at a Tastee Diner in Bethesda, Maryland. He was questioning 4 male coaches who were having breakfast together before they went to work. One of the coaches responded to the reporter’s question about his feelings on the Comey firing by saying everyone needs to trust the President’s judgment in all matters. He went on to say that the mainstream media “makes me sick to my stomach.” Wow. Quite a statement to chew over with the guys having a cup of coffee at the Tastee Diner on a weekday morning.

Cut back to the anchors for Fox News who thought the Diner interview had been hilarious and by the way, don’t you just love the way males have so much fun together, you know, the male bonding thing.  How did we go from James Comey to male bonding is fun…I’m not sure. But I’d heard way too much about James Comey for one day.

At this point I turned the TV to the Tennis Channel to watch live action at the Madrid Open which turned out to be less of a distraction than I’d hoped. My mind took off in a different direction with each serve, forehand, backhand, volley or overhead smash. Get out of my head.

Mainstream media. Whack. Freedom of the press. Whack. Free speech. Whack. Freedom of the press again. Whack. Tweet: Mainstream media = fake news. Whack. MSM = elite news. Whack. Whack. Whack.

I needed a reality check so I turned off the TV and looked up the First Amendment to the United States Constitution – the one that guarantees fundamental rights for us in this country.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

That’s right. Now I remember. I have the right to petition for a “redress of grievances” and I believe grievances in the form of lies are running rampant in this administration. Today I have taken action by signing two petitions asking for an independent review of not only the actions of this week but prior 2016  election campaign tampering with our democratic process.

This reminds me of a time during a dark thunderstorm of deception, cover-ups and corruption in the Nixon administration which threatened the cornerstones of our democracy. Truth was ultimately uncovered and our democracy survived the betrayals and humiliation revealed in the highest levels of our federal government. The President left in disgrace.

I was sitting in a hospital room with my daddy in 1974 while we watched President Nixon leave the White House. My daddy turned to me and said, “You know, some people are just liars, and the truth ain’t in them.”

I hear the rumblings of thunder in the distance and see the dark clouds gathering once again over our country, but I know without a doubt that the truth will always keep us free.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

the squirrels are always more fun to chase on the OTHER side of the fence

Spike surveys new back yard fencing

Hey, Spike, wanna play?

come on, Spike, let’s have a little fun

No, I’m on Squirrel Patrol

if I could just get to the OTHER side of this fence…

 nothing but trouble back there, Big Guy

I rule

I don’t

P.S. fyi Spike has managed to jump the fence chasing squirrels twice as of this writing

Posted in Humor, Life, Personal, photography, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Charly’s New Back Yard

OMG – do you drink it?

Posted in Humor, Life, Personal, photography, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | 16 Comments