Maya Angelou: wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now

“Being a woman is hard work. Not without joy and even ecstasy,

but still relentless, unending work.

Becoming an old female may require only being born

with certain genitalia, inheriting long-living genes

and the fortune not to be run over by an out-of-control truck,

but to become and remain a woman command

the existence and employment of genius.”

Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)

The words of Maya Angelou never cease to create feelings of admiration and awe for me… to the extent that my gosh- why- couldn’t- I- have- written- that paranoia kicks in. The little paperback I randomly picked up yesterday afternoon on an end table in our living room which Pretty now uses as her Rescued Books sorting room caught my attention because it was (a) small and (b) written by Maya Angelou. The book was titled Wouldn’t Take Nothing for my Journey Now.

As I read the book yesterday afternoon, I was grateful to Pretty who always leaves priceless gems around for me to discover, pick up and savor. She knows my love for Maya Angelou and her works so I suspect it was no accident the book was in a conspicuous place.

This book captured my attention and immediately reminded me of my book The Short Side of Time for a couple of reasons. Both books acknowledge the influence and importance of Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Angelou dedicated her book to Oprah Winfrey “with immeasurable love” and I began my preface with “I can actually thank Oprah for this book.” Both books contain a collection of previously published short essays/articles – mine from this blog and Ms. Angelou’s from articles appearing in Essence and Ms. magazines. And it’s right there, my friends in cyberspace, that the similarities end.

My daddy used to tell me to avoid making comparisons to anyone else because there would always be someone who could do something better than I could or someone who wouldn’t be able to quite catch up to my abilities. Needless to say, Maya Angelou is in a category all by herself when the subject is personal essays, and I will never be able to quite catch up to the sheer poetry of her writing in these intimate stories. I can, however, read them with delight.

Many of her brief essays resonated personally with me probably because she published them in 1994 when she was 66 years old. The topics she covered as she described her own journey took me with her, and I cheered for her courage and power displayed vividly on every page. My mind meandered to the person I was in 1994 and how I would have reacted to this book when I was 48 years old. Would that white middle-aged lesbian activist understand what a blueprint Ms. Angelou’s journey could offer me when the storms of life were raging over the next quarter century of my life.

Whether you are a youngster setting off on the journey, a middle-aged traveler  making plans for the next twists and turns, or in the third act of your life seeing the final bends and bumps in the road; I strongly recommend you treat yourself to Maya Angelou in this book or any other writings she’s done. I leave you with her thoughts on people.

“I note the obvious differences

between each sort and type,

but we are more alike, my friends,

than we are unalike.”

Stay tuned.


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behold the frog log

Our first summer last year with a swimming pool was a real adventure – our yard is a frog mecca teeming with loud nocturnal noises, and unfortunately the frogs can’t distinguish a chlorinated pool from a perfectly wonderful fresh water pond. Therefore, every morning during the frog summer season last year I rose early to check the skimmer basket for our pool and usually found a frog, sometimes two, battling the effects of the chemicals.

I had a little net that I used to pluck them from the skimmer and release them to make their way to safety far away from the poisonous fake pond. I was always so happy to see them hop away and hoped they remained part of our nighttime chorus which continues to be noisy this year.

This year is different, though. At some point during a dinner conversation with friends several months ago I talked about my remorse for the frogs who lost their way and ended up in our skimmer basket. One of the friends at the table told me about something called a Frog Log that was an escape route for creatures caught in their frantic search for a way out of their precarious situation as they were engulfed by an overwhelming tide that had betrayed them.

She went on to say I could order one on Amazon…which is exactly what I did. Behold, the Frog Log.

such a simple, yet brilliant idea 

So now I am wondering if we could invent a People Log that would offer us a rescue route from our worries, problems, angst, nightmares, depression, sorrows, panic attacks…a way out when we found ourselves in the wrong pond overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of life, as my daddy used to say when he was at a loss for describing personal turbulence.

The good news today is that this summer I have had only one frog in the skimmer basket. The loud frog choruses still pierce the summer heat with their deep bass voices – Pretty and I see the frogs hopping in our yard and around the pool at night when we walk outside with Charly and Spike, but the Frog Log apparently is the real deal.

If anyone comes up with that People Log invention, please let me know.

I promise to stay tuned. I hope you will, too.



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

don shequixote tilting at windmills? where is the moral outrage?

“Where is the moral outrage in this country,” MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle asked yesterday (August 01) on Morning Joe in referring to a discussion Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D – Rhode Island) led earlier in the show about the hearing the Senate Judiciary Committee held Tuesday, July 31st., on the status of the immigrant children forcibly separated from their families in response to the zero tolerance policy of the current administration in previous months.

Indeed, where is the moral outrage in America? Where is Don Quixote de la Mancha when we need him…come on, all you would-be Cervantes fiction writers out there. Give us a champion, that character who is brave enough to undo wrongs and bring justice to the world. Give us a Wonder Woman who penetrates the No, No, Get Out signs at the federal detention centers around the country, goes inside the facilities, gives us the real pictures of the detainees’ circumstances and rescues them from harm.

Give us a Sherlock Holmes who is up to the task of searching in Central America and Mexico for the parents of 711 children whose families were basically stampeded out of our country, according to the testimony of Commander Jonathan D. White who is in charge of the reunification efforts of the United States Public Health Service. Commander White went on to say at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on July 31st. that the separation policy had not been in the best interests of the children. I’m thinking that Sherlock Holmes could use the assistance of several IBM Watsons because he will be looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack while 711 children remain incarcerated.

Television writers, give us a Law and Order prosecutor Jack McKoy character who will speak truth to power and bring charges of deliberate cruelty or cruelty by incompetence to those responsible for the creation and implementation of the zero tolerance policy because no one gave any federal agency prior notice before Attorney General Sessions announced the policy. And Hollywood screen writers, hurry up and give us another Chief Trial Judge Dan Haywood who ruled the military court in the film Judgment at Nuremberg presiding over the trial of four judges that served on the bench during the Nazi regime for crimes against humanity.

Come on, media moguls. We need Don Quixote – like heroes… hopefully more successful than his character which tilted at windmills he believed to be ferocious giants. Sigh. Oh well, you can’t have everything in a fictional hero.

Speaking of tilting at windmills, I visited the campaign headquarters of the Congressman from my district yesterday. The purpose of my visit was to hand deliver a letter I wrote asking for his immediate intervention in the migrant reunification process. I included a copy of a previous blog on this issue (see my blog adding to the hue and cry on July 19th.) which I was fairly sure he hadn’t read before. What I found interesting about his campaign poster on the front of his headquarters  was the family portrait.

Representative Joe Wilson and his family

I had to wonder whether this man would be glib in his response to the zero tolerance policy if it had applied to the children or grandchildren of members of Congress. I’m just saying.

As I drove to Zaxby’s to get a basket of toast after I left my windmill tilting, I saw another sign next to our West Columbia City Hall.

Indeed, Mike Barnicle, where is the moral outrage of a nation blessed because their God is the Lord – referring to the same Lord who said in Matthew 19:14 (King James Version of the New Testament) “But Jesus said, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

If only we could treat the migrant children as the kingdom of heaven.

Stay tuned.



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forget Chelsea? never

Spike’s bark was loud, much louder than his usual warning bark for the intruder who dares to walk past his house on Cardinal Drive in the early morning hours before Pretty, Charly and I have roused ourselves from sleep to greet another Sunday.

But then Spike’s bark became a long higher-pitched wailing sound as he raced into our bedroom and jumped with full force on Pretty as if to say wake up, wake up, you Sleepy Head. I need you.

The impact shook the bed and brought us all to full alert. Charly rose with a menacing growl toward Spike which is what she likes to do anyway. Then she joined in the barking to form a chorus that was way too much for Pretty and me.

I asked Pretty what in the world was going on outside our bedroom so Pretty got up and opened the blinds in time to see a man walking a large black lab up the street as he rounded the corner of Wren and Cardinal. Mystery solved. Spike had remembered his best friend Tennis Ball Obsessed Chelsea, his and our favorite black lab, who left him and the rest of her earthly family two years ago now.

When Spike found us, he became the fifth dog in our home. Unbelievable to think back on that time. How did we manage with five dogs? Very well, thank you for asking.

Out of that pack of five dogs, Spike chose our black lab Chelsea to be his best friend. Spike adored Chelsea but alas, his love for her was unrequited. She didn’t object to his devotion, but she rarely returned it. Chelsea sort of tolerated Spike with good humor.

Now whenever Spike sees a big black lab walking past his house, he thinks it must be Chelsea wagging her tail at him as she passes by. I’d like to think he’s right.

Spike relaxing with his best friend Chelsea at Casa de Canterbury

Stay tuned.





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precious memories, how they linger, how they ever flood my soul

While I angst over the children still illegally separated from their families in my home state of Texas and begin to plan another series on letters my father wrote me while I was in college at the University of Texas in Austin in the 1960s, I looked through hundreds more photographs and came across a few that brought back words from an old gospel song we sang at church: precious memories…how they linger…how they ever flood my soul.

little me, my grandmother, family dog Scooter

This picture was taken by my mother who captured a definitive moment in my life which she surely imagined at the time she snapped it was simply “cute.” Now 70 years later if ever there were one image I could say conjured up my entire childhood, it would be this.

My grandmother was clearly on her way home from work because she held two packages in her arms which meant she had brought something we needed, but she stopped to hug me outside our house before she went in. She may have been on her 30-minute lunch break from the general store where she worked as the only clerk 10 hours a day six days every week. Since she had no car and didn’t know how to drive, she walked the short distance down the dirt road from our home to work. Her lunch breaks were always too short, she said.

Or she was home after standing 10 hours on her feet at the end of her work day at 6 o’clock. Regardless, she must have been exhausted as she stopped to show me some love. Now what I was doing with a golf club that was as tall as I was remains a mystery to my memory, but my grandmother Dude’s love for me will always be crystal clear for as long as I have memories.

Here’s another one of my favorites, but no explanation is necessary, right?

the hat has been with me from the beginning 

(not sure who the little boy is)

Stay tuned.




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I just can’t let it go

My grandfather on my daddy’s side was born on July 29, 1898. His name was George Patton Morris. One week from today he would be  120 years old.

This is my grandfather with his mother, Margaret Antonio Moore Morris, in front of what I assume was their home in Walker County, Texas. My grandfather looks to be about 2 years old.

He was safe, had food to eat, a place to sleep…grew up working hard on a farm with his four sisters and five brothers in east Texas…

… his family farm was about 420 miles north of Brownsville, Texas where today, this moment,  more than 1,400 migrant children remain in a Wal Mart converted to a prison facility for them.

I’m trying to imagine what their pictures will look like when they look back, if they have the chance to look back, on their childhood experiences in a department store detention facility.

The roulette wheel of life spins out of control. I hit a lucky number.

Stay tuned.



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adding my voice to the hue and cry: crimes against humanity – convention on the rights of a child

I am not an attorney. I am not a politician. I am not a renowned author. I am, however, a concerned American citizen who happens to be a blogger with a voice that today adds to the hue and cry already surrounding an administration that has lost its way in serving the best interests of the American people and our democracy. I would like to add a case to the numerous litigations currently being filed against our leaders for Crimes against Humanity and for compromising our ratification of  the Convention on the Rights of a Child.

I am naming in my case the following people: President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions,  Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckebee Sanders, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Secretary of Veteran Affairs David Shulkin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Convention on the Rights of the Child Adopted by the United Nations and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989
entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49 (ratified by the United States in 1990)

Excerpts from the convention:

Article 9

  1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s place of residence.
  2. In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present article, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known.
  3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.
  4. Where such separation results from any action initiated by a State Party, such as the detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death (including death arising from any cause while the person is in the custody of the State) of one or both parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family unless the provision of the information would be detrimental to the well-being of the child. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall of itself entail no adverse consequences for the person(s) concerned.

Article 10

  1. In accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall entail no adverse consequences for the applicants and for the members of their family.
  2. A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. Towards that end and in accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, States Parties shall respect the right of the child and his or her parents to leave any country, including their own, and to enter their own country. The right to leave any country shall be subject only to such restrictions as are prescribed by law and which are necessary to protect the national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Convention

Additionally, in 2002 an International Criminal Court was established in the Hague in the Netherlands. The Rome Statute provides for the ICC to have jurisdiction of crimes against humanity.

Article 7 of the Rome Statute states crimes against humanity means any of a number of things including “deportation or forcible transfer of population …intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health…as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of the attack…whatever their status all migrants are entitled to have their human rights protected…because their own government cannot or will not protect them, they are forced to seek international protection.”

To repeat, I am not an attorney, but I can read the codes of conduct my country has agreed to over the years. The recent forcible separation of more than 3,000 children from their migrant families seems to me to be a crime against humanity and especially criminal acts toward children. I would like to see everyone involved, either by taking action to create and enforce such a policy or serving as an accomplice to such crimes by not resigning from their positions in protest of these heinous acts, be indicted by the International Criminal Court.

This is the best I can do with my voice. Perhaps some of my readers will have their consciousness raised as to the seriousness of wrong actions against defenseless children with no intention of reuniting them with their families in an expeditious manner. I personally find this policy created and implemented by my own government to be reprehensible and if I choose to say nothing, I am equally complicit.

In the midst of the daily dramas and chaos that characterize this administration, I cannot forget the children who are being unfairly detained today in Texas camps and prisons…every day, every night. Migrants Matter.

Stay tuned.




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meanwhile, back at the casita…

so it ain’t Vegas, Baby but…

while the cat’s away, etc.

fun is fun, right?

Just kidding, Pretty!

(photo shop courtesy of Donna Magrath)

P.S. Through the magic of Las Vegas wedding venues, Spike, Charly, Donna and I watched the Wedding via live streaming. Perfect. The brides were gorgeous, happy and all about their love which made us all happy at casita de Cardinal, too. Before the wedding, Pretty was overcome with emotion and tearful with beautiful bride Robin. Bless her heart.



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the Main Event in Las Vegas showing today!

So the Aces game wasn’t quite what we hoped it would be for Pretty and friends, but A’ja Wilson was gracious (as always) after the game to share a photo op with Pretty and Number One Son Drew.

Thanks, A’ja for continuing to be not only a great athlete for the Aces but also an awesome person in “real life” off the court as well.

Guess who else loves A’ja?

Robin Gottlieb (l) and Meghan Cole (r)

Oh yes, they do and these girlfriends are the real reason for Pretty’s trip to Las Vegas. Today is their WEDDING DAY, and we wish we could have been there, too. But for now we are sending them hugs and kisses from Casita de Cardinal and wishing them the very best happiness and joy and loads of fun for the Main Event this evening. You girls rock!

Robin and Meghan at Clark County Marriage License Bureau

making it official!

Stay tuned.

P.S. Pretty, don’t forget to come home. Spike, Charly and I are lost without you. Donna thinks I am too bossy now; she is also way past ready for you to come home.

P.S.P.S. I lifted these pictures from Facebook and am using them without anyone’s permission. Mea culpa to all.

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