Molly, Molly, how do I love thee?


Happy Birthday to our granddaughter Molly Iris who is now one year old!

(maternal grandmother Gigi laughs at Molly’s first cake experience)

visiting pup Riley happy to make the party – but what’s up with no cake?

Molly and her Daddy enjoying time outdoors after cake

meanwhile, 3 year old big sis Ella focuses on the magical mysteries of sticks

Molly is a second blessing for Pretty and me this past year – we can’t believe how quickly she’s growing – entirely too fast to suit us. But we are grateful for our time with both granddaughters and their parents Number One Son and Pretty Two whose love for their daughters and us gives hope for the future.

Molly, Molly, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways – too many to count. Priceless.

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Slava Ukraini. For the children.

Posted in family life, Life, Personal, photography, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

prejudice by any other name is still prejudice


Last night I had a conversation with my cousin Gaylen (son of Ray) who lives near the area demolished by a large tornado that swept south of Houston, Texas yesterday. Thankfully Gaylen and his family escaped damage, but I was surprised when he told me in the course of our chat a compelling account of a wedding in his family several years ago where prejudice and hate intruded like a tornado on a celebration of love. It reminded me of a letter our grandmother wrote my Uncle Ray just before WWII when Ray was working and living on his own in Houston. Today is a rainy dreary weather alert day that matches my feelings of  shame and sadness when I remember this exchange between my grandmother and her two sons who would be swept up in WWII in the European theater. 

While the war took center stage in everyone’s mind in 1942 and my dad noticed that his hunting and fishing buddies in Richards, Texas had a younger sister, apparently hormones were also raging in my dad’s brother Ray who would have been almost twenty years old in April of 1942 when he received an unexpected letter in the mail from his mother. It was dated April 27th.

“Dear Ray, Your daddy and I were tickled with your surprise visit this past weekend. You always have to work, and it was a treat for us to have you home for a whole weekend. I am pleased to see that your appetite is still good. I’ve never seen anyone love chicken and dumplings the way you do!

Now, son, I need to have a serious talk with you about Geneva Walkoviak. I know that you had two dates with her while you were home. We can’t have you getting too serious about Geneva. And, I’m sure you know why. Even though she is pretty and seems sweet enough, the facts are that she is Polish and Catholic and those are two things that don’t mix in our family. You may not be able to appreciate the problems with that, but take my word for it. You stay with your own kind. Now, let’s leave it at that. I know you wouldn’t want to let us down.

Try to make it home for your daddy’s birthday this summer.  All our love, Mama and Daddy”

Polish. Catholic. Prejudice takes twists and turns through the years, decades, centuries. The names change, but the sentiments do not. Polish people in Richards at that time had a distinct accent – they were often first and second generation immigrants who farmed the contrary Texas land. The children rode a small yellow school bus to the red brick schoolhouse in town carrying the hopes and dreams of their families in tiny brown paper lunch bags. The men and boys got their haircuts at my grandfather’s barbershop. Their money, as is always the case in prejudice, was evidently neither Polish nor Catholic.

Today bigotry is often based on what language is spoken, skin color, or country of origin. Hispanic refugees and others seeking asylum in this country are subjected to inhumane treatment that is unacceptable to all of us who respect the values our nation was founded on: everyone is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We do not separate children from their mothers and then put them in prison camps. We’ve done that before to African-American slaves whose families were ripped apart and scattered to the four winds. That is not who we think we are. That is not who we are, is it?

Catholics – Jews – Muslims. The religion roller coaster ride continues with death-defying speed and mind-boggling ticket prices.

What a tangled web we weave in a small rural southeast Texas community consumed by the thought of a war in 1942, and yet my grandmother decided to set aside time to write a letter to my uncle which sadly exhibited the same kinds of prejudice that created anti-Semitism in Germany which was the impetus for the war in the first place, where a name like Walkoviak and a pretty Catholic girl named Geneva could become the target of pointed prejudice.

I am ashamed and saddened by this letter. I do not find it surprising, however, because I remember my grandmother as a wonderful strong funny woman – but flawed. She would have been 39 years old when she wrote that revealing letter to her son. I’m not sure her positions changed during the next forty-five years of her life. She agonized over voting for the Democratic candidate John Kennedy in 1960 because of his Catholicism, for example; but I do recall she relented in later years when her grandson, one of Ray’s sons, married a Catholic girl.

My dad, on the other hand, must have been blissfully unaware of the family drama because three months after his mother’s letter to his brother, he wrote to his parents following a visit  for his father’s birthday on July 29th. His father turned 44 on that birthday. This letter is dated August 1, 1942.

“Dear Mama and Daddy, It was good to be home for Daddy’s birthday this week. I’m back at work today, and the grocery store is still standing. And, I’m still stocking shelves. Talk about boring. At least, it gives me money for school and to help Lucy and Terrell with the bills. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Beaumont for a whole year. The War is the big topic on campus and off. Doesn’t look like we’re doing very good against the bad guys. Daddy, you better go up to Washington and see Mr. Roosevelt. I think he needs some good advice for a change. You could get things going in the right direction.

I didn’t see much of Ray while we were home. He spends a lot of time with Geneva Walkoviak. She’s the only one he likes to spend money on. Of course, I guess you didn’t see much of me, either. Selma and I went to see the same movie three times. I’m beginning to like her more than her brothers.

Probably won’t be home again until Christmas. The classes are a little harder this year. But, you’ll see that my grades are hanging in there really good. I want you to be proud of me. Your son, Glenn Morris”

Obviously my uncle Ray rejected his mother’s ultimatum and continued to date the pretty Polish girl who happened to be Catholic. That made me smile.

Throughout 1942 the impact of the war came closer and closer to home as more  young men enlisted – teenage boys were leaving their farms, day jobs, and classrooms to join the armed forces. They would soon cross oceans by sea and air to defend their country from the Axis powers.

Ray and his mama

my Uncle Ray 

my grandfather George, my daddy Glenn and my grandmother Betha

My Aunt Lucy

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Slava Ukraini. For the children.

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

a man of letters (8) – combat! January, 1945


In the summer of 2018, I published a series of letters my dad wrote during his life. I hadn’t read them since then, but sometimes the war in Europe jars my memories to an earlier war known as World War II. My dad was barely twenty years old at the time of his actual combat service and this series of letters – his brother Ray two years older – his sister Lucy three years older than Ray. Selma, the girl Daddy left behind in the little town of Richards, Texas where they both grew up, was a freshman at Baylor University – thanks to the generosity of her Uncle Clement who gave her the opportunity to go to college. My dad’s father was the only barber for miles with a barbershop that was the hub of the social gossip network supported primarily by my paternal grandmother who was everything to me when I came along two years later, ten months after the soldier returned to elope with the girl of his dreams. January, 1945 was such a pivotal time in history 77 years ago, but I imagine the same thoughts expressed by the soldiers in the war in Ukraine today in January, 2023 are universal longings for home and family.

Three days after Christmas in 1944,  2nd. Lt. Glenn Morris flew the first of his 35 bombing missions over Germany with his crew of The Fortress. Their first target was Siegburg, a town near Bonn in the North Rhine – Westphalia region. That night he wrote Selma another letter, but the mission clearly shook him. This letter’s tone introduced a note of uncertainty about their relationship that he hadn’t expressed in his previous ones.

(the only letter with blue markings)

censorship or Selma?

“Dearest Darling,

I’ve often wondered if you couldn’t guess just how much I miss you at different times. You know, sometimes you are the only thing that makes me want to be back there. I could go on forever telling you that I see you everywhere I go & etc., but you’d enjoy that too much.

In not so long a time I’ll be back with you. It already seems like ages to me. Do you ever sorta forget about me, unconsciously, I mean, just forget. That is one of the most horrible things I can think of. Well, enough of that.

Tonight some of the guys wanted me to play on the Field team, but I had a rather hard day so, for once, I refused a basketball game.

Well, Baby, I must go to sleep, for I am very tired, but not too tired to say goodnight to the one I love.

Yours forever,

Glenn”

Selma, the girl back home

On New Year’s Eve, their target was Kassel…then Magdeburg on New Year’s Day, 1945…next up was Modrath near Cologne on January 3rd…Cablenz on the 5th. – names of places he probably had a hard time spelling – much less pronouncing – but places he had to locate as the navigator for his crew of The Fortress.

He had a break for eight days and wrote to his parents at home in Richards, Texas on January 8, 1945. His older brother Ray was also in England with the 8th. Air Corps. Ray worked on the ground crew for airplane maintenance and loaded the bombs for the flyboys.

Glenn (l.) and Ray with their mother before the war

Ray

Ray (l.) and buddies on leave

“Dear Folks,

It shouldn’t be too long before I get a letter from you now. Klepps, the tail gunner, got 2 letters addressed to this APO, so if you’re not falling down on the job, I should be hearing from you very soon. I might say that I’ve missed those letters quite a bit. Tell Selma she’d better write every day or I’ll divorce her. That would be a low blow, wouldn’t it?

Now Mama, don’t get alarmed, but I have a slight cold again. It’s the first one I’ve had in a long time. I take sulfa diazine tablets every day. That probably explains it. Other than the slight cold, I am O.K. I know there’s no use to tell you not to worry about me cause you’ve been doing that so long it’s got to be habit. There’s no use in your quitting now. Ha.

I’m to see Ray once and for all next Sunday and Monday. Every 3 weeks we get 48 hour passes, and finally my turn is coming up. Here is part of our conversation.

“Glenn! Glenn! Is that you?”

“Yes, it’s me, Ray.”

“Well, where have you been? You little devil what happened to you? I’ve been worried about you. How many missions have you flown? Etc.”

He’s still the same old boy. Have you heard anything about Dick Merrill {a friend from Richards}? He’s probably a P.W. There’s a better than even chance he is.

A mobile PX came here the other day. I bought 15 pounds worth of stuff. That’s about $60. I bought another blouse that I’m gonna have made into a battle jacket. They are sharp.

Hoping to hear from you soon,

Your oldest son,

Glenn

Tell Lucy to write to me.”

Lucy

Lucy (r.) and friend Maureen

Glenn’s sister Lucy and Selma’s brother Charlie

( Charlie good friends with Glenn – Richards was a very small town)

Charlie joined the Navy…

( along with Selma’s oldest brother Marion and cousin C.H.)

Selma’s mother and oldest brother Marion in Richards

Missions continued through January…Karlsruhe, a city near the French border where a large Jewish population had been deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp before the strike…then Paderborn… followed by Aschaffenberg in Bavaria…the largest target in January was Cologne which was a Military Area Command Headquarters for the German army and the fourth largest city in Germany…January ended with a second run over Coblenz.

On January 22, 1945 in the midst of these military activities, Glenn took time to write to Selma who was back at Baylor University in Waco after her Christmas break.

“Dearest Selma,

I’m sorry again that I haven’t written you within the last few minutes. Are you getting my letters? I suppose you are. Very dull, isn’t it? I could tell you a lot, Baby, but better not. Will you settle for something new like, ‘I love you’? I know you get tired of that. It is so trite, yet so true.

I got the scarf yesterday, and how did you know it was cold over here? It will really make old Ray’s eyes widen the next time I see him, which will be soon, I hope. He’s on pass now, I suppose. Funny thing, he can’t some to see me, but I can go to see him. He can, but he won’t. That girl in Doncaster takes up his time.

Very peaceful scene tonite. Three of us around the stove writing letters and the radio going full tilt. I never had it so good. Still there is something missing. You, no doubt.

Write to me often now, little girl. I love you,

Glenn”

Glenn

The air strikes came fast and furious for the airmen in January of 1945 while all of their families and friends back home fretted about their safety. How many would come home, they wondered…we’ll wait with them for now.

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Slava Ukraini. For the children.

 

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

BJU and Me: Queer Voices from the World’s Most Christian University


“Bob Jones University is a Christian, fundamentalist, nondenominational liberal arts school in Greenville, South Carolina. BJU was founded in 1927 by Christian evangelist Bob Jones Sr., who was against the secularization of higher education and the influence of religious liberalism in denominational colleges. For most of the twentieth century, BJU branded itself as the ‘World’s Most Unusual University’ because of its separatist culture. Many BJU students come from fundamentalist communities and are aware of BJU’s strict rules and conservative lifestyle. So why would queer students enroll at BJU?

A former queer student of BJU himself, Lance Weldy has come to terms with his own involvement with the institution and has reached out to other queer students to help represent the range of queer experience in this restrictive atmosphere. BJU and Me: Queer Voices from the World’s Most Christian University provides behind-the-scenes explanations from nineteen former BJU students from the past few decades who now identify as LGBTQ+. They write about their experiences, reflect on their relationships with a religious institution, and describe their vulnerability under a controlling regime.

Some students hid their sexuality and graduated under the radar; others transferred to other schools but faced reparative therapy elsewhere; some endured mandatory counseling sessions on campus; while still others faced incredible obstacles after being outed by or to the BJU administration. These students give voices to their queer experiences at BJU and share their unique stories, including encounters with internal and/or external trauma and their paths to self-validation and recovery. Often their journeys led them out of fundamentalism and the BJU network entirely.” (back cover)

Editor Lance Weldy is professor of English at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina where Pretty and I met him in April, 2018 when he invited us to his campus to participate in Pride Week with a panel discussion of Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home, the stories of twenty-one pioneers in the establishment of organizations for the LGBTQ communities in South Carolina.

l. to r. Michael, Lance, Pretty, me, Pat at the event on April 04, 2018

When we were there, Lance told me about a writing project he was working on that also involved first person narratives of queer folks who had a Southern connection but his stories would focus more directly on his alma mater Bob Jones University. His project became this important work published by The University of Georgia Press in June, 2022.

I am thrilled for Lance and for the queer students who are the brave survivors of persecution at BJU (a name with a double entendre not lost on them) for making their voices heard. Their oppression done in the name of religion follows a long history of odious acts performed by those identifying as true believers and the equally long tradition of those who refuse to succumb to that oppression.

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. Celebrate these stories – a part of the queer fabric that comprises the original coat of many colors.

Onward.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

never play this game after midnight


If you only had two words to describe me, what would they be? I asked Pretty night before last when we were in bed and both still awake after midnight.

The Australian Open began this week – the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2023 – my professional tennis addiction would be in full display for the next two weeks. Oh yes, I watch the events “live” on Australia time which means play begins at 7:00 p.m. my time and continues throughout the night until someone (me) is asleep in front of the Telly. Pretty hangs for a while but goes to bed around 10 o’clock. Pretty is a bit of a wuss, Mate.

But I digress. On this particular night the AO had just started, and I wasn’t quite in match shape yet so I had come to bed a little before midnight only to find Pretty up late finishing a book she loved. I took my bedtime meds which tend to make me a little chatty with Pretty who prefers peace and quiet and no bedtime meds if possible. I climbed into bed, got under the covers and for some reason I can’t remember decided to play a two-word game with Pretty who admittedly tried to ignore me at first.

Ok, I said, I know what two words I would use to describe you. Funny and smart. Yep, 100% funny and smart are the two words that come to my mind immediately if you asked me to describe you in just two words. Of course, I have lots of other words, too, but those are the first two words.

Silence.

Ok, I said, now what are the first two words you would use to describe me?

Hm, Pretty said. Well, of course I would say Funny right off the bat. For sure Funny, but I’m having a little trouble with the second word. I’m trying to think of a second one, but hm…is dogged a word?

Dogged? I asked. Didn’t you mean something like determined?

No, Pretty said. I’d have to say stronger than determined, and she turned a page in the book she was reading.

How about persistent? I tried.

No, definitely not persistent, she replied. Much, much more than persistent, she added.

I continued to run other words past Pretty who never looked up from her book: tenacious? purposeful? focused? resolute? She continued to shake her head with each guess I offered.

No, she said, I’m staying with my original “dogged.”

But you weren’t even sure what that word meant, I protested.

I just remembered, Pretty said. At this point she sighed, closed her book, and reached to turn off her light.

Not to be outdone I looked up “dogged” in my Webster’s Thesaurus today in the bright light of day – the synonym given was “stubborn.”

Point taken. I should have been thankful for Funny – and let it go.

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Slava Ukraini. For the children.

Posted in family life, Humor, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

it’s a simple matter of justice – remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


1993 March on Washington for LGBTQ Equality

Thirty years ago this April I marched with the South Carolina delegation in the 1993 March on Washington. It was a life-changing experience not only for me but for hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ folks and their straight allies.

I loved that the commemorative poster for the event featured a quote from one of the Civil Rights movement leaders I most admired: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The framed poster has been hanging in every office of mine since then.

“Our freedom was not won a century ago, it is not won today,

but some small part of it is in our hands,

and we are no longer marching by ones and twos

but in legions of thousands,

convinced now it cannot be denied  by human force.”

On this special holiday dedicated to you I say thank you for your example of nonviolent social justice change, your ultimate commitment to the possibilities of freedom for all, your powerful voice that spoke for those who could not speak for themselves. Rest in peace, Dr. King, but keep the living stirred up for equal justice for all people everywhere for as long we walk the earth.

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Slava Ukraini. For the children.

Posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

weekend specials popular at the Cardinal Cat Cafe


excuse me, I’m new here, but are the specials usually this popular?

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Yes, they’re as popular as popcorn at the Gator Bowl.

our three year old granddaughter Ella at her first football game!

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the hideout – revisited on Friday the 13th., 2023


On Friday the 13th. of July, 2018, I posted this piece. Time passes, moments are fleeting, but these thoughts hang around while the wind blows a winter’s chill that moves the tall naked sticks that once were trees outside my window this afternoon. I needed a bit of fun, a bit of cheer. Maybe you do, too. Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when Pretty and I were just a couple of cowpokes in the Wyoming summer...

Alas, Pretty and Number One Son Drew are winging their way toward Las Vegas on this Friday the 13th. and all of us at Casita de Cardinal will be happy to know they have landed safely tonight. Charly, Spike and I were quite the forlorn threesome when Pretty and her suitcase rolled out of the house this morning. Luckily, I have had an epic Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Semifinal match that lasted over 6 hours to keep my mind occupied today, but tennis has not been a source of comfort for Charly and Spike, I’m afraid. Sigh. Oh, well, it is Friday the 13th.

In times like these, I often resort to pictures of previous places I have been that make me happy to revisit. One such place was on a trip Pretty and I took 9 years ago with two of our favorite friends, Linda and Beth, to a dude ranch called the Hideout in Shell, Wyoming. Yeehaw. We cowboy.

Beth (l.) gets credit for planning the adventures

Pretty embraced the concept…

Linda (l.) and a wannabe cowgirl Kristi the Kid from Scotland

another wannabe cowgirl (me) on the left with

real cowgirl Linda and guide Stewart on the trail

my horse the oversized Wapiti who was wonderful,

but oh, so very WIDE…ouch, my aching butt

this cowgirl needed lots of breaks

this cowgirl didn’t ever need a break

the views on the trail were almost as gorgeous as the smiles

BUT as fate would have it, I was happiest when I was playing Scrabble…

…and Wapiti was in the pasture having fun with the other horses

I hope all of my friends in cyberspace have a safe Friday the 13th., a great weekend and wonderful memories of your own Hideouts when you need them.

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Slava Ukraini. For the children.

 

 

 

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Cardinal Cat Cafe


“Hey, come look in the carport. You have a visitor – it’s a new cat I don’t recognize, and it’s sitting next to the food bowls. Come see if this cat is one of your regulars at the Cat Cafe,” Pretty laughed as she called to me from the kitchen one morning this week. “Sheila’s Cat Cafe. Come on down. Everyone’s welcome.” Pretty continued chuckling to herself as I walked through the kitchen to peep through the back door. Hahaha, I thought. Very funny.

Hm. Nope…definitely not a cat I knew.

“Well,” I turned to Pretty. “I will not feed this cat. This cat wasn’t one of Carport Kitty’s friends. You realize the only reason I fed the other two cats is because they came to pay their respects after CPK passed. I refuse to become the old lesbian cat lady that lives on Cardinal.”

Pretty shook her head and said with measured mirth, “That ship sailed months ago. It is what it is, Naynay. Seems to me we need to call our carport feeding bowls Sheila’s Cat Cafe.”

Somehow that both annoyed and made me smile, too. I mulled things over. “Okay, okay. But let’s call it the Cardinal Cat Cafe. I like the alliteration better.” And therein lay the beginning of the next cat saga which now included a third unnamed cat who felt a menu of Meow Mix as an entree plus Temptations for dessert was delightful.

Tux and Belli wait to place their order

Help Wanted

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Slava Ukraini. For the children.

Posted in family life, Humor, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

1/6 two year anniversary


“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived,

but if faced with courage,

need not be lived again.” —Maya Angelou

Today, January 6th., is our day to remember the wrenching pain of watching the vicious attack on the US Capitol two years ago, to know that day cannot be unlived and must not be erased from our memories but instead a reminder to face with courage every opportunity we are given to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

Posted in Life, Personal, politics, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , | 4 Comments