the battle my grandmother lost


my early years in my hometown of rural Richards, Texas

(circa 1949)

 

my dad and me at a family picnic in matching shirts

made by my grandmother (circa 1951)

 

a birthday party dress made by my grandmother (circa 1951)

my grandmother made this dress and a  picture postcard of me

for her family Easter card in 1949

Bless her heart. My grandmother tried and tried to reshape my fashions which upon reflection she probably hoped would reshape my life. One of the most dreaded phrases my mother ever spoke to me – the one that made me cringe-was “Your grandmother is making you a new dress and needs you to walk down to her house to try it on. No arguments, no whining, just go.”

I absolutely hated to stand on her little stool while she endlessly pinned away to make sure  the pattern she bought from a grand clothing store in much bigger town Navasota  fit perfectly on my small body. She pulled, tugged here and there, made me turn around as she measured whatever cloth she had purchased when she bought the pattern. I prayed silently that the aroma I smelled was her pineapple fried pies…the only possible redemption from the hell of being poked and prodded for a new dress I didn’t want to wear.

My grandmother Betha Day Robinson Morris and I lived within shouting distance of each other in the tiny town (pop. about 500) of Richards until my dad found a new job that took us out of the place I called home when I was 13 years old. Our new home in Brazoria was less than two hours from Richards so we came back every other week for most of my teenage years. Distance did not deter my grandmother from her sewing, however.

She usually managed to have something for me to try on whenever we visited. I finally surrendered to her passion for sewing because as I grew older I came to understand sewing was an important part of her life, but to this day I dread hearing Pretty say she brought something home for me to try on.

my grandmother surveys her granddaughters

before Easter Sunday church services in 1963

I was 17 years old and wearing a dress my grandmother made for me

while my younger cousin Melissa modeled her store-bought outfit

My grandmother continued to sew for me until I was in my twenties. Every Christmas she wrapped a large box in her best wrapping paper and favorite bow saved from the previous Christmas to give to me. I always opened with feigned surprise at the dress she made for me to wear to church and praised her for being able to still find the perfect pattern and material for me even when I wasn’t there to try it on.

I’ll never forget the last time I opened a gift of clothing she made for me. She had made a pants suit – unbelievable. I could see she was pleased with herself for breaking from the dress tradition she wanted me to wear to making the pants she now understood would forever be my choice of clothes. The year was 1968 – I was 22 years old – my grandmother would have been 55. The pants suit represented a rite of passage for both of us.

Unfortunately, I never could bring myself to wear the pants suit which was made with a hideous polyester fabric and a horrible bright green and white large zig zag pattern. I couldn’t bring myself to wear it, but I carried it with me around the country wherever I moved for the next 30 years. I would carefully hang it in my closet as a daily reminder of  the love my grandmother gave me for as long as she lived.

My grandmother Betha was a flawed individual but what I wouldn’t give today to hear my mother say “Sheila Rae, your grandmother is making you a new dress and wants you to try it on. No arguments, no whining, just go.”

Stay tuned.

(A special shout out to my blogging friend Luanne at http://writersite.org for inspiring me to write about clothes.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 12 Comments

hi-yo silver AWAY!


And I’m not just talking horses here. The 2020 presidential election is off and running with a posse of candidates already declared for the Democratic primaries – a group marked by the conspicuous absence of silver hair. No more “old, male and pale” for the Dems.  I wish I had thought up that phrase. I really do. This seismic shift in the composition of the candidates makes me the happiest girl in the whole USA. Skippity doo dah yeah. Shine on me sunshine, right?

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – Hawaii) who is 37 years old with two deployments in the Middle East from her Army National Guard experience, announced her candidacy on January 11th. The next day Julian Castro, the 44- year- old former mayor of San Antonio and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, announced his bid for the presidency in San Antonio to a cheering crowd of people that included his Mexican grandmother who inspired his passion for public service. Usted es el candidato – hooray!

On January 21st, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Senator Kamala Harris (D – Cal) who is 54 years old was the first African American to enter the race. She made her announcement to formally run via ABC’s Good Morning America. Another African-American Senator, Cory Booker (D – NJ), announced his intention to run on February 01, the first day of Black History Month. Sen. Booker is 49 years old.

Two more female senators entered the presidential primaries in the past week. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass) declared on February 08th. and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D -Minn) on February 10th. who stood outside in a blizzard to speak to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters that listened to her while they must surely have wondered if they could vote right that minute and inside, please. Senator Klobuchar is 58 years old. Senator Warren is 69.

Yesterday I heard an interview on NPR with Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana who announced an exploratory committee for the presidency on January 23rd.; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D – NY) who is 52 years old announced a similar exploratory committee on January 15th.

Oh my goodness. There was an old white woman who lived in a shoe – she had so many Democratic Presidential candidates she didn’t know what to do. Okay. She really lived in South Carolina which means this old white woman has to get woke and ready to vote on February 29th. in 2020 for the first presidential primary in the South, the one a mere three days before what is commonly known as Super Tuesday, and the first primary which has a predominantly African-American Democratic electorate.

Rarely does the lesser known Carolina state enjoy more attention than in the time leading up to our primary…Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Pete Buttigieg have all been seen in the Palmetto State in recent weeks and it’s still early, y’all.

These folks aren’t the only ones running, either, but these are my favorites so far. The diversity of my favorites puts a smile on my face even as I write these words.  Old, male and pale…adios.

Hi-yo silver, AWAY. Don’t let the White House door hit you on the way out.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

S

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

which anniversary is this? better ask Pretty


fun with friends at DeBordieu, 2007

So Pretty and I are having dinner with our friends Nekki and Francie after the South Carolina women’s basketball game last night, and the conversation turned to our anniversary which is this Saturday, February 9th. I had invited them to go to dinner with us on our anniversary but that wasn’t working out so we opted to eat after the game.

Nekki asked what everyone always asks about anniversaries – how many years are you celebrating?

Nineteen, I answered quickly because I am the numbers person in our family who keeps up with birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, etc. Every family has a designated scorekeeper, and in our family I am known as the go-to person for important dates. Pretty is generally unreliable in these areas.

Oh, Nekki said, nineteen years is really great. Pretty and I both nodded, although I noticed Pretty displayed a hint of eyes rolling at my answer. Then she said, no, it’s not nineteen, it’s eighteen to which I responded no I specifically remember the year was 2001 when we got together so anyone could plainly see our anniversary was definitely for nineteen years. Case closed, I added for emphasis.

For those of you who can do “high math,” I will let you do the numbers or you don’t really need to bother because February 09, 2019 is our 18th. anniversary, and don’t you forget it. Please enjoy a few highlights of the past “on the road to nineteen” with us.

family civil rights tour – Alabama, 2018

  SC women’s national championship, Dallas – 2017

Number One Son Drew’s rehearsal dinner – 2015

South Carolina Pride – 2016

signing copies of Committed to Home at Francis Marion – 2018

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the hideout, Wyoming, 2009

in the beginning, Cancun, February 09, 2001

family vacation – Gettysburg, 2012

Valentine’s Day Poinsett Bridge with family – 2015

Texas, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Pretty – how do I love thee? I can’t begin to count the ways…or the years evidently…but my love will always belong to you. Thank you for every day. Case closed.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

new book Four Ticket Ride dedicated to blogging friends Ann, Annie, Luanne, Rachel, and Susanne…and of course, to Pretty


How did I come up with the title for my latest book Four Ticket Ride?

Spoiler Alert: Preface

My friend Esther Isom told me this story one day as I rested in her salon chair for a pedicure which was always a guarantee for entertainment in addition to spa treatment on my feet. She swore the story was true.

Esther sat one morning in a doctor’s waiting area that was empty except for her and a petite elderly lady who had been in the room when she arrived. They waited and waited together without speaking, occasionally smiling at each other, but Esther decided to break the awkward silence by asking the older woman how she was doing that day.

“Honey, life’s a four ticket ride,” the older woman said with a smile – a reference to the State Fair’s being in town that week.

For the uninitiated in State Fair amusement rides, the more dangerous the ride the more tickets required to jump aboard. The four ticket rides were among the most adventurous with a mixture of highs and lows at dizzying speeds designed to take the thrill seeker’s breath away.

The following stories are my version of a few of life’s four ticket rides as seen through the eyes of a woman past 70 who bought and paid for enough tickets to ride all the rides in life…and some of them more than once.

Enjoy these rides with me. Buckle up, sit back, and hold on.

####

My new book is short since most of us now expect major ideas to be conveyed through tweets which have reduced our attention spans to the length of a Geico commercial – readable in an hour in a single setting or a month of daily individual chapter doses like my 30 Days to Success Journal mentioned in chapter 1.

Here’s an overview of the major topics of flash nonfiction in Four Ticket Ride:

(1) I Have this Great Idea for a Book

(2) Life with Pretty

(3) The Magic of Sports

(4) What’s Happening with Us?

(5) Wouldn’t Take Anything for my Journey Now

Finally, this book is dedicated to a group of women I have never met in person but who have become loyal supporters of my writing over many moons in cyberspace and always appear on my blog roll. Ann, the Wayside Artist in Pennsylvania; Annie of Animal Couriers in France; Luanne of The Family Kalamazoo and Writer Site in Arizona; Rachel of The Cricket Pages in New York; and Susanne of Wuthering Bites in Canada. Writing is a solitary business and blogging is no exception; but these women take time to read, comment on my efforts and offer genuine encouragement in the process. I am deeply grateful to each of them for their own inspirational work and their support of mine.

And of course, every book I write is dedicated to Pretty. Without her love and support every day of my life, there would be nothing left to say. The End.

Stay tuned.

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged | 28 Comments

a duck named Macho


The physical pangs of hunger and thirst for a bite to eat or something to drink can be admittedly overpowering; but recently in the midst of government shutdowns, mad hatter tweets, guilty pleas, not guilty pleas, 2020 presidential candidates throwing imaginary hats into a very real ring, Super Bowl commercials, Oscar buzz, Netflix binge watching — my yearnings have been more mental than physical.

Today the Music Man brother of Pretty Too, Number One Son’s wife, shared two pictures along with a story that unexpectedly changed my outlook on life.

Patrick a/k/a Music Man was in San Antonio, Texas last week finishing up a tour in Texas and saw a little boy carrying a pet duck along the River Walk to the San Antonio River.

The little boy released the duck at the riverbank whereupon the duck went for a swim – and then returned to the little boy who scooped the wet duck into his arms and told someone who asked him that his duck’s name was Macho.

Thanks so very much to Patrick Jeffords for these remarkable photos and for allowing me to share them with my friends in cyberspace.

I feel refreshed, hopeful and wishing I had a pet duck like Macho.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

holy moly – it’s a podcast!


https://libraryvoices.podbean.com/e/sheila-morris-episode-74/

Thanks so very much to Dr. Curtis Rogers, Communications Director for the South Carolina State Library, for inviting me to participate on his podcast – the opportunity was the icing on the cake following the fun panel presentation at the Center for the Book hosted by Andersen Cook on January 17th.

Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home was our book featured at the Center for the Book – thanks to USC Press Publicity Manager Mackenzie Collier for bringing books to sell. I just love to sell a book!

My forever gratitude goes to Harriet Hancock and Teresa Williams (better known to my followers as Pretty) for serving on the panel with me. They’ve traveled with me to almost every presentation on our book for the past year, and I’ve loved hearing their stories whenever they speak. They’re simply the best.

Please check out the podcast this weekend when you have a few minutes – Curtis asked me a number of questions including some personal ones about my blogging. Tune in the podcast and…

Stay tuned.

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

dear john or er… karen


Dear Second Lady Karen Pence,

News flash: 800,000 employees of our federal government are working without a paycheck on this the 26th. day of a shutdown perpetrated by your husband and his boss; yet you have now found employment teaching art at Immanuel Christian School, an elementary school in northern Virginia.

Karen, I have to say the optics are not good for your starting a new job this year when other people are suffering severe hardships as a result of having no money. That’s bad, Karen.

But now, seriously? Just when I think things couldn’t get worse, I read that your new employer discriminates against hiring LGBTQ teachers and further, your new school doesn’t allow any LGBTQ students. Can I just say the optics keep getting “worser and worser” for you in my most humble opinion.

You need a new public relations manager – and a fresh look in the image you see in your own mirror. This is bad, Karen. Shame on you.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

the emperor’s new shutdown


A vain emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two weavers who promise him they will make him the best suit of clothes. The weavers are con-men who convince the emperor they are using a fine fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The con lies in that the weavers are actually only pretending to manufacture the clothes. Thus, no one, not even the emperor nor his ministers can see the alleged “clothes”, but they all pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions. Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished and they mime dressing the emperor who then marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Finally, a child in the crowd blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is then taken up by others. The emperor realizes the assertion is true but continues the procession. (Wikipedia’s plot summary of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen in his Fairy Tales Told for Children published in 1837)

Hm. Let’s substitute President Trump for the emperor, border crisis for clothes, White House staff and Cabinet members for ministers, the American people for the townsfolk, and a refugee child for the child in the crowd.

A vain Emperor Trump who cares about nothing except building a border wall because that was a campaign promise he made (along with the promise that Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall) hires Fox News to help manufacture a national emergency on the southwestern border of the United States. Fox News (along with a merry band of radio talk show hosts including Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham) promises the Emperor that the network will make the biggest, baddest national immigration emergency ever created to show off the need for a border wall. They convince the Emperor that the border crisis will be invisible to anyone unfit for his position, or the “hopelessly stupid.”

The con lies in that there is no national emergency at the border and the wall is not the best option for border security at all. No one, not even the Emperor or his Cabinet members, can really see the national emergency but they all pretend they can for fear of looking stupid or unfit for their positions. Finally, the Emperor goes on national TV to  deliver a major address to the American people about the national emergency at the border, the desperate need for the wall and not to worry about the 800,000 federal employees who will have no paychecks until the wall is included in the budget – that is the US budget, not the Mexican budget. The Republicans “uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid.”

Finally, a refugee child illegally detained at the border cries out from her miserable camp conditions, please help me – I am hungry, cold, and afraid. Where is my family?

Indeed, where are the families of the 800,000 federal employees who are also feeling hungry, cold and afraid as the longest shutdown in American history rolls on into the second weekend in January, 2019 and a vain Emperor Trump holds a nation hostage for a campaign promise he never really made.

Stay tuned.

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

new nanny in DC – Mary Poppins she is not


Bervin was here first thing this morning as he had promised when he called me earlier in the week to arrange a time to come over and take care of our yard for Pretty and me – a job he has held at all four of the different places we’ve called home during the past 19 years. He met me at the door and said with a broad smile “those people in Congress look more like me and you now, don’t they?” Then we both laughed because Bervin is a very handsome middle-aged African American man and I am, well, an old white dyke; but our political beliefs have been as instrumental in keeping us together as the green grass in  summer and the brown leaves in winter. This first week of 2019 brought joy to both of us.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the best word I have for my feelings as the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, took the gavel from a group of Republicans who were clearly out of sorts at this peaceful changing of the political guard in the House of Representatives of the 116th. Congress in the United States of America on January 3rd. When she gathered her grandchildren and the children of other House members to the podium as she took the oath of office in that hallowed chamber for a second time as Speaker, she smiled and smiled and even giggled a time or two. Her grandchildren called her Mimi in an atmosphere one reporter called akin to the excitement of a first day in school. I sat glued to the tv – wondering if this woman of slight stature should have dropped from the sky holding an umbrella instead of a gavel.

I needn’t have bothered. Her first speech as Speaker was direct and unapologetic while offering olive branches to her colleagues across the aisle in an effort to raise the level of discourse between the two parties. She referenced the symbolism of her leadership in a year in which the country would celebrate the 100th anniversary of  a woman’s right to vote, a year where more than 100 women had been elected to serve in the lower chamber. As she spoke, tv cameras periodically panned the audience of women, people of color,  and people of different faiths now seated in positions of power. To quote my friend Bervin, these folks looked more like him and me than the usual Washington political crowd. They looked more like Americans really look. They looked more democratic with a small “d.”

Last night I watched Nancy Pelosi’s first televised interview as Speaker. The setting was a town hall meeting on the college campus she graduated from in 1962. She fielded questions from commentator Joy Reid and from students in the audience. The topics were as diverse as the real concerns of the American people: climate change, government shutdown, health care, immigration, border security, clean air, clean water, shrinking middle class, wealth disparity, racism, sexism, lgbtq rights and on and on. Speaker Pelosi was forthright in her answers and any Mary Poppins worries I’d had vanished.

Hey DC dudes, listen up – there’s a new nanny on Cherry Tree Lane and she’s no Mary Poppins. Here’s her first warning: “the culture of cronyism, corruption and incompetence in the federal government has to stop.”

Thank you very much. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Honestly, people, enough is way past enough.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

I’m Thinking of a 4-Letter Word that Rhymes with Fall…


Two years later talk of The Wall continues to divide us…unbelievable.

I'll Call It Like I See It

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This poem New Colossus was written by Emma Lazarus for a fundraiser to complete the construction of the  Statue of Liberty on Bedloe Island in New York Harbor in 1886. The people of France gave the copper sculpture to Americans to celebrate the emancipation of…

View original post 608 more words

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments