Ella and Molly James, May 21st. is your Nana’s Birthday

If this story seems familiar, you have a good memory – the original post was 2 years ago; but significant editing was done to include a second granddaughter!

Pretty with 2 1/2 year old Ella and four month old Molly in April, 2022


Dear Ella and Molly,

Once upon a time your Nana visited a faraway place called Greece, and she loved that place very much. One night she was going out to eat the yummy Greek food with your Naynay and their friends because the yummy Greek food was one of Nana’s favorite attractions while she visited the faraway place.

On their walk to get  the yummy Greek food, a little white dog appeared on the steps in front of your Nana.  The little white dog was very dirty with curly fur that had not been combed for a long, long time.

Your Nana stopped to sit on a large stone next to the steps. And can you guess what she did next?

She petted the little white dog for a long time, gave it one of her best smiles and then followed the little dog home to make sure it wasn’t lost.

The End

This story has a moral for you, Ella and Molly. Your Nana has always believed in rescuing both people and animals in distress. As you grow older, you will most assuredly see her strength and determination to make your world a better place in action. You are very lucky little girls. Imagine the love your Nana will give you, her special granddaughters, if she made a place in her heart for a little white dog in a faraway place.

Happy Birthday, Pretty – thank you for rescuing me twenty – two years ago – you’re simply the best. To paraphrase from the book of Proverbs, you are a noble woman who has children and grandchildren that will rise up, and call you blessed. Your wife does, too. I love you dearly and wish you every happiness this year. Celebrate yourself every day.











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no one is born hating

No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013)

Nelson Mandela was a super hero to me, a man whose extraordinary personal sacrifice changed the politics of his own South Africa which inspired dreams for peace and democracy around the world. Facing the death penalty for sabotage at his trial in April, 1964  Mandela spoke these words:

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

He was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in 1990 by President F. W. de Klerk who then negotiated with Mandela’s party to end apartheid in South Africa. Twenty-seven years of his life with no personal freedom, and Nelson Mandela became a symbol of freedom for his nation and the rest of the world.  In 1993 Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to end the oppression of apartheid in their country. Mandela became the first black president of South Africa in 1994.

This past weekend the news of another racially motivated massacre of ten Black people in the United States took place in Buffalo, New York, at a grocery store in a zip code the alleged 18 year old shooter stated in his manifesto he believed had the highest percentage of black people close enough to where he lived. According to Dustin Jones of NPR today the teenager said “the influx of immigrants, more specifically people of color, will lead to the extinction of the white race…decrease in white birth rates equates to a genocide.” This young man was not born hating, but somewhere along the way he was vulnerable to evil influences similar to those that enabled a 21-year-old white man to murder nine Black people while they held a prayer meeting in the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina in June, 2015.

Meanwhile almost 5,000 miles from Buffalo, New York across the Atlantic Ocean, a 21-year-old Russian soldier was put on trial last week in Kyiv for allegedly killing a 62-year-old unarmed Ukrainian civilian riding his bicycle on a road in the Sumy region when the soldiers suspected the man of telephoning their location to Ukrainian defenders. Russians and Ukrainians may share the same color skin but radically different ideas about their governments – the ideals of democracy the Ukrainians believe in are very much like Mandela above who was prepared to die for his hope in a “democratic society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.”

I am at a loss to understand the ongoing mass shootings in my country, an experiment in democracy that has failed to deliver on its promise of harmony and equal opportunities for all. Not only has the nation failed in providing fundamental rights to all but also is currently in the process of a sitting Supreme Court actually reversing some of the precious fundamental rights that were guaranteed for the past 50 years. What’s that I hear? Oh, never mind. It’s only the cries of 166 million females in the US as we await the decision of 6 men and 3 women called the Supremes who will determine whether the government controls our bodies or we do.

If Mandela can be our north star, then we have the capability of teaching love to our children as surely as we teach them to hate the persons of different colors, different political beliefs any “other” from ourselves and our families. Portions of the human race are surely broken when we teach teenagers and twenty-somethings as children to hate enough to kill with weapons we refuse to prohibit.

But that’s a topic for another day.


Stay safe, stay sane, and please stay tuned.

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kids say the darndest things

Pretty Too, Pretty, Ella, Molly – Mother’s Day Brunch

Number One Son and Pretty Too treated Pretty and me for a Mother’s Day brunch at our favorite restaurant Luzianna Purchase this past weekend. When we arrived approximately on time (for us), everyone was seated at the lovely table including two and a half year old Ella who sat at the far end of the table looking very grown up in a regular chair with no booster seat – her head barely visible above the table’s edge. She greeted us with “Daddy is going to order for me. I wouldn’t mind if you brought me Cheetos.” Now why on earth would that child think Pretty and I would have brought Cheetos? Hm.

Brunch was delicious even without Cheetos – luckily Ella discovered New Orleans style beignets were equally yummy.

The adults raved over chocolate truffles, blackened shrimp and grits, Eggs Benedict, French toast and “Mamosas.”

Number One Son and Molly say Brunch a huge success

As we said our farewells in the parking lot with hugs and Happy Mother’s Day wishes, Ella looked down at me from her father’s arms, wagged her finger at me and said out of the blue but clearly from a place of parental admonitions when being sent to her room for an afternoon nap, “Don’t play in your bed, and don’t play with your toys.” I assured her I would do neither.


Thanks for sharing this Mother’s Day adventure with us. Pretty and I appreciate every day with our family but never forget the mothers and children of Ukraine who struggle for survival in unspeakable circumstances, mothers everywhere who struggle with overwhelming grief and loss, daughters who are motherless. May God the Mother grant you comfort and amazing grace.

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my church

I’ve cussed on a Sunday
I’ve cheated and I’ve lied
I’ve fallen down from grace
A few too many times
But I find holy redemption
When I put this car in drive
Roll the windows down and turn up the dial

Can I get a hallelujah

Can I get an amen

Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

When Hank brings the sermon
And Cash leads the choir
It gets my cold cold heart burning
Hotter than a ring of fire
When this wonderful world gets heavy
And I need to find my escape
I just keep the wheels rolling, radio scrolling
‘Til my sins wash away

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

Songwriter/singer Maren Morris and I belong to the same church – except she and co-songwriter Michael James Ryan Busbee found their church riding in a car while I found mine driving along the back roads of Montgomery and Grimes Counties in the cab of an old 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup truck when I came home a second time to Texas from my home base with Pretty in South Carolina for four years in 2010 – 2014 to care for my mother who struggled with dementia. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

Growing up in rural Richards, Texas in the early 1950s the First Baptist Church was my family’s experience with God the Father providing salvation of souls from sin, redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ the Son, ongoing forgiveness through the presence of God the Holy Ghost. However, each family member didn’t experience the Holy Trinity in exactly the same way which added to my confusion as I listened to the sermons of preachers who were absolutely 100% convinced they were giving their congregation a lifeline to escape the burning fires of hell following death. My daddy and mama believed that message as long as they lived. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

On the other hand, my paternal grandmother Ma roasted the preacher every Sunday dinner after church like Trevor Noah roasted President Joe Biden at the 2022 White House Correspondents’ Dinner last night. She was quick to criticize biblical interpretations she found hypocritical, particularly when the preacher talked about sins of the flesh but paid too much attention in her opinion to a certain attractive woman he often visited when her husband was away at work. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

My mother was thrilled when I enrolled in a Southern Baptist seminary to do post graduate work in church music and theology in the early 1970s. She told me she gave me to God on the day I was born in 1946. God would do miracles through me, she added. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get, well maybe, let’s leave it at hallelujah because she was appropriately horrified when I left her church and its homophobia too many years later. Now can I get an amen?

I’ve cussed on a Sunday and every other day of the week. I’ve cheated and I’ve lied in more than one relationship in my younger and middle age years – I know I’ve been undeserving of grace a few too many times. But I found holy redemption in those Texas years when I put the truck in drive, rolled the windows down, and turned up the radio dial. When I played the country music legends station I found my soul revival as I sang every verse. Yeah, I guess that was my church. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

Tonight the Country Music Hall of Fame will have two new names added in their awards ceremony, Naomi and Wynonna Judd, better known as simply The Judds. Unexpectedly mother Naomi died yesterday from “mental illness” according to a family statement. For those of us who are fans of The Judds and their music the loss is a painful one. I saw them perform here in Columbia in the 1990s – I can’t remember the year, but I do remember being so taken with them that a friend and I drove to Charlotte, North Carolina for that same concert the next night. The Judds are members of my church.

Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

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Still I Rise by Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.


Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/still-i-rise-by-maya-angelou

And Still I Rise was author Maya Angelou’s third out of five volumes of poetry published in 1978 to mixed reviews for some strange reason known only to reviewers. April is National Poetry Month in the US so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to showcase one of my favorite poets: African American author, civil rights activist, and truth teller Maya Angelou.

I sprinkled several of my favorite Maya quotes this month on my sidebar beneath the archived posts of I’ll Call It in an effort to share her wisdom that transports her words on wings to our ears and minds if we are willing to listen.

In 1998 Maya Angelou spoke at the Second Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner; her speech that evening focused on the importance of gay people coming out of the closet. 

You have no idea who you will inform because all of us are caged birds,

have been and will be again.

Caged by somebody else’s ignorance.

Caged because of someone else’s small-mindedness.

Caged because of someone else’s fear and hate…

and sometimes caged by our own lack of courage.

I miss Maya Angelou not only for her words but for her voice when she spoke. The rich, slow – almost ponderous – rhythms of her speech mesmerized me, and the deep rumbling voice was like the sound of my old Dodge Dakota pickup truck’s muffler when I started it first thing in the morning.  Music to my ears.

Thank you, Luanne Castle (see blogroll), for reminding me to celebrate the rich history and present work of our American poets this month. When I was a child, my daddy enjoyed nothing more than to recite a poem to me – I know he would have loved a National Poetry Month.

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I hope you dance

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,

God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance… I hope you dance…

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance,
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’,

Don’t let some Hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance… I hope you dance.

(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years
And wonder where those years have gone.)

lyrics to “I Hope You Dance” by Tia Sillers and Mark Sanders

For my actual birthday this week, Pretty took me and our granddaughters to the zoo. She carried Molly in her car seat, diaper bag on her back, often carrying Ella in her left arm while I tagged along with my two bionic knees. We had a small parade of our own. Please know that I offered to rent a stroller when we entered, but Pretty said the line to rent one was too long to wait. There were two people ahead of me.

The day was a memory maker, and Pretty deserves an award for creating a magical time for the four of us. I love all my girls.

I hope they both dance…


Slava Ukraini – for the children.

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make a wish – then blow

granddaughter Ella clutches dandelion at Eudora Farms

No matter her new flower discovery at age 2 1/2 years was actually a weed whose fluffy top took flight when she followed her Aunt Kaka’s admonition to “Make a wish, then blow.” Ella blew enthusiastically as Aunt Kaka said she wished for many more days like this one, and I totally agreed.

Everyone was in high spirits as we began our road trip mid morning to the Wildlife Safari Park at Eudora Farms in Salley, South Carolina. Ella was taken with 4 year old Collins, the granddaughter of Kaka and Kitty; exactly one year before she and Collins made a memorable trip to Riverbanks Zoo together. Collins lives in the low country area of the state so they don’t have a chance to visit often. But whenever the girls get together with their grandmothers, it’s a memory maker.

Collins was the only person festively attired for the trip which officially marked the beginning of my birthday week – I was thrilled for her magic wand but a bit disappointed when she couldn’t make my position in the middle of the second row more easily accessible.

This trip was different in many ways from the zoo trip last year at Easter. Ella now had a 3 month old baby sister named Molly who sat in her car seat with Nana a/k/a Pretty on the third row of our new pre-owned GrannyMobile made necessary by the birth of our second granddaughter in January. Aunt Kaka drove with Aunt Kitty riding shotgun in the front seats – a term we used in Texas when I was growing up there but now seems oddly offensive. Mea culpa.

After two detours for potty breaks, french fries and exotic candy purchases, we saw our first exotic animals at the park. That is, Kaka and Kitty saw them up close and personal while the rest of our group kept our windows rolled up. The woman in the window suggested we purchase four buckets of carrots when we entered the gate – those disappeared too quickly.

Aunt Kitty attracted buffaloes and longhorns much to her chagrin

(I read the animal fact sheet during the encounters

– no one paid attention)

The little girls who sat in the second row were at once fascinated and fearful when the large heads poked through the open windows looking for the carrots – the grandmother who sat between them had the same reactions. The Park designers had cleverly provided a reward for every car that survived the winding road of our make believe safari: fast food that had State Fair flavors, a petting zoo of smaller animals, a parakeet cage with food available for the birds, an antiquated large tractor, and best of all a large corn box that closely resembled a sand box capable of holding a dozen small children who needed to be set free from car seats. The corn box was total genius. Trust me on that one.

Collins and Naynay loved the petting zoo with the goats and ponies

Ella and I fed the parakeets together – more our style

We all loved the tractor

Molly took everything in – but was more concerned about her food than the food for the animals

What a difference a year makes – too much sadness, too many tragedies everywhere far away and close to home – but I will pick a dandelion for my birthday, make a wish for more days like these, and blow with as much force as my 76 years can exert.

Thanks to Kaka, Kitty and Collins for not only the road trip but the pictures they shared. Please stay tuned. Remember Ukraine.

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disaster strikes Carport Kitty

The routine Carport Kitty has trained me for begins with her breakfast every morning. The time varies, depending on when she decides to welcome the new day. She seems to rely on the ridiculous barking of our three dogs who have the advantage of being inside and, therefore, closer to the food source. That hullabaloo usually takes place shortly before 8 o’clock.

When the dogs eat, the barking mercifully stops and I look through the glass window in the kitchen door to check on Carport Kitty who typically exits her heating pad throne in the laundry room, stretches, stretches some more and sits next to her food bowl as if to say, what’s for breakfast today O Fickle Food Provider. Don’t forget the Fancy Feast.

Any change in routine makes me nervous. And I mean any change in routine so when Carport Kitty didn’t make her customary appearance one morning last week, I was wigged. What could have happened? Where could she be?

Oh no, I cried when I went into the laundry room to check on her! (Cleaned up language for cyberspace.)

I picked up four pieces that had been one of Pretty’s heavy wooden rolling pins she kept on the top shelf of the laundry. The pieces were scattered near Carport Kitty’s throne. OMG, I panicked. What if one had hit CK in the head and knocked her senseless?? What if she had wandered into the street, gotten hit by a car and couldn’t make her way home? What if the accident happened during the night before and, again knocked senseless, she became easy pray for a coyote eager to gobble her up?

That coyote thing was over the top, I thought. We had never seen a coyote anywhere in our neighborhood. I had to dial it back before I rushed inside to wake Pretty with the news. Pretty somehow slept through the early morning routine every day, but when a Major Disaster strikes, Pretty is your voice of reason.

She and I made a thorough search of the area around our house and yard, and Pretty tried to calm my nerves by saying Carport Kitty was probably fine. She could miss breakfast but would be back later for her afternoon snack. I wasn’t overly optimistic but tried to look less worried when Pretty left for work a little while later.

Almost immediately my phone rang with Pretty’s special ring. She had spotted Carport Kitty two houses up from us in Neighbor John’s driveway. Neighbor John was the carport she frequented before she came to ours so of course she would go there when the sky was falling in. I was beyond relieved. Bless her heart, I thought. I would have a special snack for her when she got hungry if she somehow managed to come back to us.

I began a vigil to wait for our poor pitiful pussy.


When I was finally rewarded with her joyful return that afternoon at snack time, this was the look she gave me. More disdain than delight.

She didn’t return to the pantry for two days but then cold windy weather hit the sunny South. Carport Kitty was home – and warm.

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winning it all – losing everything

ESPN image

Coach Dawn Staley and her Championship Team

The University of South Carolina Gamecock flag flew atop the South Carolina State Capitol building Monday following the victory of the Gamecock women’s basketball team over UConn Sunday night in the NCAA Division I championship game in Minneapolis, Minnesota – the end of the 2021-22 season that saw Coach Dawn Staley’s team begin as the Number 1 team in the nation and remain there for the duration. Truly a magical season for the Gamecock Nation which includes Pretty, me, our 2.5 year old granddaughter Ella and 12,300 of our closest friends for every home game.

Even as we celebrate, though, we remain constantly mindful of the crimes against humanity in Ukraine. Those images yesterday from a suburb outside Kyiv are seared into our consciousness with the force of a blunt instrument attacking our innate sensibilities.

As my friend Ellen Hawley wrote recently, “…grief is a funny thing and will pour itself into any container it finds.” In this upside down world, my words have always been my container of choice. I weep with the people of Ukraine today and ask for accountability for their losing everything.

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it’s April 1st, fool! march madness is over, right?

South Carolina Gamecocks Coach Dawn Staley

says two more games!

The month of March may be over, but the Madness of NCAA basketball has one last hurrah this weekend. The Final Four for the women will be played in the frozen tundra that is more generally known as Minneapolis, Minnesota under the Friday night lights of Target Center in the heart of the downtown district on April Fool’s Day, 2022.

The Gamecock women have been ranked #1 in the nation during the 2021-2022 season with a record of 33 wins and 2 losses. They will play the Louisville Cardinals (29-4) in the semi-final.

Pretty and I love women’s basketball – the game is part of our inherited DNA in our respective families that became a jointly shared passion in the Dawn Staley era at our alma mater. Coach Staley has ignited not only the University of South Carolina fan base but also the love of the sport across the nation with attendance increases for women’s basketball programs everywhere. Thank you, Coach. Onward.

Ella and me going into Greensboro,

North Carolina Regional this past weekend

(first weekend overnite for Pretty and me with our granddaughter)

Ella’s favorite discovery at the game was Lay’s Potato Chips

(she is her Nana’s granddaughter for sure –

Pretty never met a potato chip she didn’t love)

Ella’s mother Pretty Too a/k/a Caroline told Pretty yesterday that when she rocked Ella to sleep the night before, Ella whispered defense, defense. Caroline was so startled she asked Ella what she was saying, and Ella shouted DEFENSE. That’s our girl. She’s going to be a true Gamecock.

Special shoutouts to our basketball buddies who have shared another special season with the Gamecock women, Pretty and me: Garner, JD, Brian, Joan, Robert, Susan, Chris, Pat, Number One Son Drew, 2.5 year old Ella, the Upstate Double Ds Darlene and Dawne…Brenda, Tony, Baby Dawn and her mothers in front of us, Jennifer R and Lisa – you all cheered throughout the journey. It’s been a great ride.

I would be in big trouble if I failed to mention the men’s basketball teams also have their own Final Four this weekend, and my most faithful reader Dick Hubbard’s North Carolina Tar Heels will play archrival Duke tomorrow night in their semi-final in New Orleans. This is the first year in our 40-year friendship both Dick and I have had teams we passionately pull for in the Final Four. When he called me this morning to remind me, I said I hoped this didn’t mean one of us might be checking the score from St. Peter’s gate.

Whether you follow the Final Four with your personal bracket or don’t follow basketball at all, enjoy the first weekend in April and please stay tuned.

Go Gamecocks!

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