a case of mistaken identity


We all make mistakes, and here’s one of mine.

This is the cat formerly known as Bully Cat.

When Carport Kitty (may she rest in peace) first started hanging around in our carport more than a year ago, a larger comparatively healthy looking gray cat which I now know is a type of Tabby attacked the smaller frail Calico we named CPK when she walked toward her food bowl one afternoon. I then jumped to the conclusion that the larger gray cat was malicious so I named this interloper Bully Cat. Later on I found it strange that CPK always left Bully Cat some of her food – she seemed to be friends with this cat I chased off every time I caught him lingering over her food bowl. And when I say chased off, I’m not talking about chasing in a nice way.

How could Bully Cat be mean if CPK liked him?

Regardless of my high drama trying to scare him away, the Bully Cat stayed close to CPK for as long as she lived. Since her death five weeks ago, Bully Cat and another CPK amigo I dubbed Tuxedo Cat have wandered through our carport periodically. I told Pretty they were grieving for her, but turns out they were interested in the reliable food chain that once belonged to Carport Kitty.

No one will be surprised I put out a small amount of kibble in the morning for Tuxedo Cat when she triggered our security lights the way CPK used to do. Sigh. I miss that little creature every day.

Tux usually shares with Bully Cat like Carport Kitty used to do.

This morning, however, I looked out my kitchen door and saw the Bully Cat hissing at Tux, his back arched for battle, teeth bared. What in the world had gotten into him? And then I saw it: a pink rhinestone infused collar around his/her thick neck. A light bulb went off in my tiny brain that I had just seen Bully Cat sharing a morning meal with Tux in our carport. No sign of a pink rhinestone collar five minutes before.

The only explanation I could think of when I told Pretty the story was the Bully Cat I had berated for months was really Carport Kitty’s friend – there was a mean Tabby in our neighborhood, but it wasn’t him. I felt awful for my mistake, my unwillingness to change my original judgment which was a simple case of mistaken identity. (Bully Cat has been renamed Belli Cat by Pretty, same initials BC.)

No one lives to be seventy-six years old without making blunders, but this one was a doozy. I have no excuses, but I hope I’ve been reminded of a valuable lesson about looking twice before I jump to judgment…sometimes our mistakes have a ripple effect that hurts the innocent.

If we’re lucky, we get a second chance.

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Today is the 1st day of December. Pretty and I want to share a miraculous Christmas cactus we somehow managed not to kill in the five months since she brought it home from one of her treasure hunts. Enjoy.

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Thanksgiving Dinner with Pretty – 2022


“Do these need to be cooked, like really cooked?” Pretty asked as she took the three large catering size aluminum pans from our fridge Thanksgiving afternoon. She placed the pans on top of our stove – they were so big they covered the top. I had come into the kitchen to help because I was really hungry. Old people like to eat their noon meal at noon, and it was already 1:30 by the time the pans, which were to be our meal, were rescued from the fridge. We both stared at the contents: dressing, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese.

“I think they might need to be cooked,” I answered. “I can’t believe there were no instructions for people like us.” People like us meaning those who never cooked anything except breakfast with a menu of grits and toast. White bread toast.

“Oh, wait!” Pretty exclaimed. “I think they gave me a sheet of paper when they handed the pans to me, but I left it in the car.” She promptly turned and hurried to the car, returning with an 8 x 11 sheet of typewritten Thanksgiving Dinner Cooking Instructions. The word microwave wasn’t mentioned anywhere which meant we were in trouble.

Macaroni & CheesePreheat oven to 350. Loosen foil cover. Bake 15-20 minutes covered, then remove foil and allow to finish cooking another 20-30 minutes, until bubbly. If macaroni looks dry during cooking, add a little milk and stir.

Uh, oh, I thought as I mentally calculated the nearly an hour amount of time required to cook the mac and cheese. Hm. Dressing cooking instructions were actually a few minutes longer than mac & cheese which left us with mashed potatoes as our only hope for something quick. (Why just three choices? Because we are going to a Friendsgiving the day after Thanksgiving and we were assigned to bring the “sides.”) To Pretty who is a pescaterian the word “side” is a synonym for carbs, although I was asked if these three sounded good. I was quick to say yes; I liked everything.

I made a spur of the moment decision to work on the mashed potatoes because they offered an option to be removed from the aluminum pan and heated thoroughly on the stove top in a different pan. So we took three spoonfuls of mashed potatoes from the huge aluminum pan and put them in a pot on a large burner on top of our stove. I tried to speed up the cooking process (remember I was the one who was already starving) by adding a splash of half n half. Pretty came up with the idea to add butter, but she added so much butter I thought I should add more half n half to counteract it. Which I did. Unfortunately, by the time we finished adding things, we ended up with potato soup.

Pretty grated cheddar cheese for me to add to the smashed potatoes because she knew I loved all things cheddar cheese. She heated the gravy the Cafe had supplied and added to hers. Delicious. Not exactly what we had expected, but an important lesson for our Friendsgiving contribution. We will definitely need to get started much earlier on the sides than we originally thought…plus beware tampering with the cooking instructions.

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Our granddaughters were with us the day before Thanksgiving when we drove up to Pretty’s antique empire in Little Mountain to meet Ella’s favorite Aunts Darlene and Dawne. We had a wonderful family time together with lunch in the Cafe and shopping in Pretty’s booths before we loaded up our aluminum pans in the grannymobile for the short trip home. Dawne always captures the fun with her camera, and I would have added her fab pictures if only I knew how to send photos from my new iPhone. Will add later!

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where did I put that memory? ask Pretty


‘Tis the season, and Pretty’s antique empire has “spruced up” for the holiday season.

Pretty offers the unique, the unpredictable items throughout her antique empire – who’s surprised? Pretty is one of a kind herself, and always unpredictable.

Visit Little Mountain Unlimited and Cafe at 1528 Main Street, Little Mountain, SC 29075. When you’re downstairs in the cafe trying one of their fabulous homemade desserts, look around. Pretty’s empire covers almost the whole downstairs. It’s HUGE. Look for dealer #221 on the tags. That’s her.

Pretty’s pieces tell old stories preserved for posterity as well as collectibles for treasure hunters. She has made great efforts to embody the familiar adage we have something for everyone.

facebook.com/littlemountainantiques/

Where did you put that memory? Why, it’s waiting for you at Pretty’s antique empire – please visit!

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thanksgiving is relative


“The oak trees were alive with color in the midst of the evergreens. Bright red and yellow leaves catching the sunlight as Daddy and I walked through the brush. The smell of the pines was fresh and all around us. We didn’t speak, but this was when I felt most connected to my father. Nature was a bond that united us and the gift that he gave me. And not just in those East Texas woods. He envisioned the whole earth as my territory and set me on my path to discovery. In 1958, this was remarkable for a girl’s father…

To this day, Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday. It seems less commercial than the others and struggles to hold its own before the onslaught of merchandising that we call Christmas. The dinners in the fancy restaurants and hotels and cafeterias never measure up to the feasts my grandmothers served their families.

Perhaps, though, it is the love and closeness of those family ties that leave the sights and sounds that last a lifetime.”


This excerpt from the chapter Thanksgiving in the Piney Woods is from my first book Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing.

my dad’s family on my grandparents’ front steps circa 1956

(I am seated on the bottom row in my flannel shirt and corduroy pants,

unsmiling, at my mother’s request for some strange reason)

Today is a different Thanksgiving in a different home in a different state in a different century, but I still believe in the love and closeness of family ties that bring the sights and sounds that last a lifetime. I know they have in my lifetime.

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Unbelievably Thanksgiving will be here again next week, and I am thankful for this different family in a different century in South Carolina, the family with two new members in 2022: our second granddaughter Molly and her first cousin Caleb. The family that goes to Boo at the Zoo together stays together. If in doubt, just ask our three year old granddaughter Ella who thinks Halloween should have its own calendar with Boo at the Zoo every month.

Most of all, though, I am thankful for Pretty who joins me in wishing our friends and followers in cyberspace a Happy Holiday Season wherever you are – however you celebrate. We are thankful for you.

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Grade for Republicans in Midterms: D


Dobbs + Deniers + Donald = Defeat

Pretty, who follows political predictors via Twitter, kept telling me all weekend that the Dems were going to maintain control of the Senate but I couldn’t breathe a sigh of relief until I saw Steve Kornacki at the Big Board last night finally with the 50 – 49 blue trickle for the 2022 midterms. Thousands of votes remain to be counted in the next few days, but Steve’s projected House final numbers lean 219 – 216 in favor of the Repulicans with a +/- 4. Hardly a Red Tsunami or even Red Wave; more like a Blue Trickle.

For the Dems, the results were nothing short of historic. With a Democratic President whose approval rating was a shaky 44%, inflation hitting every voter where it hurts, and a formerly popular former President who handpicked many of the Maga candidates that peppered the ballots in battleground states – I found little to hope for any victories. I had seen the numbers of previous midterm elections and wouldn’t be watching these returns for love or money.

The average seat loss in the House has been 28 since World War II. It has been 43 seats when the president’s Gallup Poll approval rating was below 50%. And as for Democrats, in particular, the last four lost an average of 45 House seats in the first midterm after they were elected. Ron Elving, NPR

O, ye of little faith, Sheila.

The following represents my unscientific personal opinion of what changed expected outcomes in the midterm election on November 08, 2022.

(1) Roe, Roe, Roe the Vote – taking away the right of women to control their own bodies’ health care, a right held for nearly 50 years, was a colossal misstep by the Supreme Court in the summer of 2022 – voters who might have stayed at home in an average midterm…didn’t.

(2) Democracy was on the ballot as President Biden reminded the country in his pre-election closing speech. He made a bet that the American people weren’t really interested in giving up on our fundamental, albeit still flawed, belief in equality and justice for all. Even his detractors evidently said Point Taken – and voted accordingly.

(3) The January 06th. Committee hearings. How many times did the committee show actual footage of the Insurrection of 01/06/21? How many Republicans testified they believed the former President was responsible for the Original Sin of Election Denial? And on and on. Even if viewers weren’t politically obsessed like me, enough citizens must have watched portions of the 01/06 committee hearings to figure out that EDs must have lost either their eyesight and/or their minds to be persuaded the folks storming the Capitol were there for a simple visit. Hang Mike Pence, indeed.

(4) Young people voted. Hey, they liked the Democrats’ support of climate change initiatives, sensible gun control legislation, student loan forgiveness – and they Roe, Roe, Roed the vote.

(5) The Culinary Union in Nevada and all the other boots on the ground in every state for this election. Hats off to those organizers that truly sacrificed by leaving their jobs to knock on doors to get out the vote, to those who financially supported those boots on the ground, to the postcard brigades that sent millions of cards from their kitchen tables to pave the road for the boots on the ground.

By the way, Pretty’s Twitter Predictor says the Dems will win the House by a margin of 219 – 216. I can’t go there yet. I finally exhaled last night and don’t have the lung capacity to inhale again today.

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Stay safe, stay sane and please stay tuned.

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gimme a break – no, seriously – time out?


The mid term elections are in the past now, but my nerves continue to jingle jangle like the spurs on my boots used to do as I anxiously await outcomes. I find myself turning to movies of questionable taste on Netflix to keep me from watching election news, but then cheating on myself by looking at my phone for hints about leaning this way or slightly that way. Maddening. I need a mental break before I have a breakdown. Good news: we’re taking a break.

Thank goodness I have a wonderful friend in California (which way is California leaning? Stop it!) who has a birthday this month – a woman I’d like to celebrate not only for the personal fun experiences we’ve shared over many years but also for the amazing contributions she’s made to the LGBTQ community on the west coast, her chosen home away from her native roots in South Carolina.

Happy Birthday, Audrey Prosser! You are a woman of substance, a woman I admire for all the right reasons. Your commitment to social justice for your community, your state, your country is inspirational to your friends in South Carolina who have had the privilege of sipping cocktails with you in foreign and domestic countries while we discussed, among other topics, the issues facing us as lesbians who cared about each other and creating positive change regardless of where we lived.

Pretty and I regret we won’t be able to attend the 80th. birthday bash with you and your wonderful wife Debra, but know that we will be with you both in spirit and in sisterhood. Rock on, Miss Thing. Whatever music is played at your party – you keep on dancing.

Audrey Prosser

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the ONE thing you’ve got going: your ONE vote – Shirley Chisholm (1924 – 2005)


In 1968 Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress; she served in the House of Representatives from 1969 – 1983. In 1972 she became the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States, the first Black candidate for a major party nomination.

Shirley Chisholm had spunk. Unlike Lou Grant (who told Mary Richards in one classic scene from the Mary Tyler Moore Show: Mary, you’ve got spunk – I hate spunk) I admire spunk so Rep. Chisholm is on my list of most admired people. I hear her voice with its crystal clarion calling out of truth to power echoing through the halls of the US Capitol today as surely as her footsteps walked those halls more than a half century ago:

“It is incomprehensible to me, the fear that can affect men in political offices. It is shocking the way they submit to forces they know are wrong and fail to stand up for what they believe. Can their jobs be so important to them, their prestige, their power, their privileges so important that they will cooperate in the degradation of our society just to hang on to those jobs?”

Yep. Sure sounds like it, Shirley.

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Every vote matters – don’t sit this one out. Vote Tuesday, November 08th!

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what is really on the line November 8th?


A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done. No matter how brave its warriors or how strong its weapons.

Cheyenne proverb

We cannot be distracted by the noises that surround us. The Republican Party seeks to conquer our hearts by controlling our bodies.

I Voted this week to say Not on My Watch. Plan your vote. We are not done.

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the Urban Legend we called Carport Kitty was a Seeker


?? – October 22, 2022

I am a seeker
A poor sinful creature
There is no weaker than I am
I am a seeker
And you are a teacher
You are a reacher
So reach down
Reach out and lead me
Guide me and keep me
In the shelter of your care each day
‘Cause I am a seeker
And you are a keeper
You are the leader
Won’t you show me the way

I am a vessel that’s empty and useless
I am a bad seed that fell by the way
I am a loser that wants to be a winner
You are my last hope
Don’t turn me away

Oh, you are a mountain
From which there flows a fountain
So let its water wash my sins away
‘Cause I am a seeker
And you are a keeper
You are a teacher
Won’t you teach me the way
Reach out and lead me
Guide me and keep me
In the shelter of your care each day

Pretty and I shared many tears as we stood next to Carport Kitty when her brave heart came to rest yesterday. Congestive heart failure was the culprit, but this first and last visit to a vet confirmed what we suspected when she first appeared in our carport during the fall of 2021 – frail, limping, exhausted but adamant in her refusal of our attempts to touch her – equally determined to avoid the crate we borrowed from our friend Francie to try to get her to the vet.

And yet she survived with us in her own way. Pretty began her rescue efforts with a bowl of fresh water every day; I told her I was definitely against any cat rescue since we had three dogs in the house plus my cat allergies. Anyone could see (except Pretty) that we didn’t have a place for an urban feral cat. Sigh. That’s about the time I started feeding her Meow Mix and named her Carport Kitty. Meow Mix moved on to Temptations which led to the canned food delights of Fancy Feast and Little Friskies. CPK became a celebrity to our cyberspace friends through her adventures on Cardinal Street during the changing seasons. Carport Kitty had a following. Never a loser to Pretty and me – always a winner.

Carport Kitty moved through three other neighborhood homes this summer – I thought she was following the sun to avoid the extreme heat but in retrospect I think she was following the instincts that helped her survive on the streets for who knows how many years or the circumstances that created her journey. One neighbor told us when we first asked last fall if the calico cat belonged to him that she had been roaming this neighborhood for years. He had given her and her friends food, water and shelter from the cold. The calico cat was a stray.

Over the months Carport Kitty gradually began to trust Pretty and me. I often sat on the kitchen steps outside with her at night to give her last meal of the day – usually her third! Lately she had seemed to want more than her typical head pats from me, a few meows, rubbing against my legs, longer visits than we shared in the summer heat. The black Tuxedo cat, the Bully Cat, the Yellow Cat – all her friends came around at dinner time now but were afraid to come close to her turkey and giblets because the old white woman chased them away to protect the calico cat.

Somehow in the vicissitudes of life as my daddy used to talk about, I heard Lauren Daigle sing “The Seeker” for a Dolly Parton tribute the night before we lost Carport Kitty. Dolly wrote the song for an album released in 1975 – her words haunted me during these past painful hours because I do believe Carport Kitty was a seeker who came to our home searching for keepers. She found these keepers brought much more than water, food, places for her to reign supreme in her carport kingdom. They gave her their love.

No matter what time Pretty and I drove up the driveway we both looked for the little calico cat who stood guard over our carport, waiting for us to come home. I’d like to think she might still wait for us…somewhere.

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Boo at the Zoo in 2022


For all our friends in cyberspace who have been with us longer than a hot minute (or at least a year) you will recognize changes in our family photos for our second annual Riverbanks Halloween Boo at the Zoo experience. Taken last night, the first night of the 10 night Boo extravaganza we find Pretty in a very large witch’s hat standing behind me in my disguise as an old lady with white hair; to our right the witch family with Pretty Too as Mama Witch holding baby witch Molly now almost 9 months old, 3 year old witch Ella being held by Number One Son Daddy disguised as Gamecock fan minus gear. To the left of Pretty and me Pretty Too’s twin sister Pretty Also (with fangs) plus Super Bro in Law Seth and their 3 months old adorable Cousin Caleb.

The night was a perfect one – not so cold as we had thought – mild 60s. Most of the animals had wisely stayed in their sleeping quarters as the hordes of costumed children and frazzled families descended for utter mayhem. Or, as Ella told me when I wasn’t quite quick enough to lift her to see the one brave black monkey stick its head out for a peep at the crowd, I think he had to go potty, Naynay. Brilliant.

As I let Ella slide to the ground, she said, I think you’re too heavy to carry me. Her legs are almost as long as mine!

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Pretty Too and Pretty Also combined with the commercial acumen of the Riverbanks Zoo, we have a few pictures to remember the night. (Luckily, or unluckily, videos of my ending dance (following a mug of witch’s brew spirits) with Ella to my all time favorite group Abba’s Dancing Queen were unrecoverable. Pretty forgot to hit the “record” button. Ella will one day thank her for that, too.)

A few noticeable differences in the Boo experience this year, the most obvious the addition of two children who still qualify for free admission. Two strollers required this time with related diaper bags containing well, you know, what diaper bags all over the world contain. With the little girl who now required a ticket to enter, a decided shift in focus from being mesmerized by the millions of lights outlining ghosts, goblins, witches, bats, pumpkins that had so thrilled her last year – to wait for it, candy acquisition and consumption. The war with sugar has begun.

The kindness of strangers moved us all when we entered the zoo last night. Somehow in the frenetic pace of parents getting home from work to dress children and themselves in festive Halloween costumes, no one brought Ella’s candy bucket. As Pretty turned to make an emergency run for the candy container in the zoo store, a young mother stood nearby pushing a stroller herself with another child by her side. She gave Ella a bucket with the words, we have two and only need one. Sharing is caring, right? Ella saw a very good example of what those words really mean, and we did, too.

From our family to yours, have a safe and Happy Halloween.

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Slava Ukraini. For the children.

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