a belated Happy Pride!


photo from Scott Brown’s FB

This past weekend was SC Pride for 2021 – the annual march was Friday night, Festival on Saturday, and recovery yesterday. Although Pretty and I weren’t able to participate in the festivities, we were thrilled to feel the excitement in the downtown area as it came alive with the electricity of Pride! Our gratitude to all those who did take advantage of the weekend’s celebration of our LGBTQ+ community – nothing better than a good march to empower and inspire the marchers.

Six years ago today as I walked away from the 2015 Pride March and Festival I stopped to take this iconic image of lesbians celebrating on Sumter Street. Clearly inspired, obviously empowered. This remains one of my favorite photos to this day.

Finally, another favorite from the 2014 Pride celebration:

The girls (and guys!) who march and/or ride for equal rights truly do rock.

Happy Pride! Onward.

*****************

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

my paternal grandmother’s legacy was hilarious O.G.


my grandmother Ma’s birthday was today

October 23, 1903 (d. May 28, 1983)

My paternal grandmother I called Ma is the beaming woman second from the left in the middle row. That smile was directed at one of her grandchildren who was misbehaving for the family photo. I’m guessing it was one of my Uncle Ray’s twin boys because they never were interested in following rules, and the little boy turned around toward her certainly looked like he was entertaining his grandmother. (I am the unsmiling little girl on the bottom row. I’m sure my mother had instructed me not to smile. Typical.)

This family photo taken in the mid 1950s speaks volumes about the woman Betha Day Robinson Morris who was my grandmother. Her family meant everything to her, and she ruled all of us with a firm hand. She dearly loved her actual DNA matches, her children and especially her grandchildren. Unfortunately, the in-laws, the spouses her children chose to marry to pass along her DNA never were what she hoped they would be – for different reasons – but all three equally unacceptable.

I have a few favorite pictures of Ma in my office – and this one is at the top of my most treasured. I’m guessing she was in her early 40s here which is how she must have looked when her first two grandchildren were born in 1946. Just imagine. Women of that era had grandchildren when they were so young because they married very young. Betha Robinson was fifteen years old when she married twenty-year-old George Morris. They had both grown up in Walker County, Texas on farms that weren’t far apart. Their marriage spanned 65 years. She outlived the grandson smiling at her in the picture, another grandson who died in infancy – as well as her youngest child Glenn (my father). Later letters I found revealed she was unable to fully recover from those tragedies.

I have written about my grandmother’s influence on me and my storytelling in great detail in many of my published books – particularly Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing. Ma’s kitchen table was the stage for her hysterically funny stories; her audience was usually my grandfather and me since I lived across a dirt road and down a little hill from them. Pa and I both thought she was the funniest person on earth. We waited every Sunday to hear her roast the preacher Brother Whoever at the First Baptist Church of Richards. We were never disappointed in her assessment of the worship service, her Sunday School class members, the special music which she hoped would be her granddaughter’s singing. At a very early age I learned Ma wanted me to do well.

Ma made my school and church clothes using a Singer sewing machine that aggravated her as often as I get aggravated with my slow outdated Windows 7 operating system. She bought patterns and material in Navasota, the bigger town in Grimes County where she carried the dry cleaning back and forth to the Lindley’s larger dry cleaners twice a week – once to deliver, once to pick up. Navasota was 20 miles from Richards, the little town that Pa had chosen to establish his single chair barber shop with dry cleaning on the side to make a little extra money.

Money that Ma controlled down to the last penny. I saw the weekly ritual of Pa handing all of his cash for the week to Ma who put most of it in the bank in Anderson that was 10 miles from Richards. Ma did front Pa an allowance that was sufficient to buy me an ice cream cone or Coke for a nickel at Mr. McAfee’s drug store across the street from his barbershop whenever I walked to town for a visit – I’m not sure what else he did with his allowance.

My maternal grandmother’s birthday was just three days ago on October 20th. I hope you had a chance to read my post about her. Yesterday and today I’ve been thinking about how very different these two grandmothers were. I’m not a Zodiac sign follower, but I was interested in my discovery that Libra changed to Scorpio today. My maternal grandmother I called Dude was definitely a Libra: charming, beautiful, well balanced, peacemaker.

My Ma wasn’t a Scorpio I would describe as a “queen of the underworld”but she had a cruel streak I observed in many forms against others – never me, however. I saw the Scorpio with the magnetic personality, an aura of mystery, definitely a disturber of the peace whenever she had a chance but she made me laugh with her about her high drama.

I think Ma and Dude had a race with their packages of homemade goodies to me in my college days at UT-Austin in the 60s. Ma alternated different flavors of her fried pies that I tried to hide from my friends in the dorm. She also sent chocolate chip cookies which were my only claim to fame in those days.

I loved both my grandmothers with a love I continue to feel today. They were pillars of strength in their own ways, women who had few years of formal education but wisdom born of pain. I wish I could celebrate with them today – even for a few minutes of conversation. I broke both of their hearts when I moved to Seattle in 1968. I was on a journey searching for authenticity, and I thought I had to travel 3,000 miles to shed the imposter, to become the real me. I was never home in Texas on either of their birthdays again. Shame on me for squandering those special days and most other holidays with my family.

For the past two years I’ve had an unbelievable, unexpected glimpse into the feelings my grandmothers had for me. Wow. I hope the thirteen years I lived with them in Richards brought them the joy our granddaughter brings to us every time we see her.

Every choice we make matters – to us and to others. Time is fleeting. Choose wisely. Celebrate your legacies.

*************

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

the return of the bully


Apparently bully cats are like bully ex-presidents: they keep on turning up.

Bully Cat races past me on my morning walk today

When I was 10 minutes from home on my walk this morning, I spotted Bully Cat a short distance away. We were both surprised, startled, and stared at one another. I made a quick decision to snap his picture, but he seemed to recognize me from our earlier encounters in our driveway this week and took off. Hence, the blurry image. However, when he was a safe distance away from me and my cell phone camera, he stopped and gave me this look.

Bully Cat 100% recognized me

Warmer weather the past couple of nights saw Pretty’s puddy tat Lilibets in her familiar surroundings of our carport with her equally familiar place on the top step of our steps leading to the kitchen door from the carport when she’s ready for her two square Fancy Feast meals daily. For more than a month she has staked that place to make sure I don’t forget about her when I feed our three dogs who are, thankfully, all inside.

I wasn’t sure this morning if Pretty’s Lilibets was with us because she hadn’t been visible like she normally would be when I exited the house for my walk. I also didn’t see her on my way home when I walked past Neighbor John’s house, but I did see John leaving for work. I called out to wish him a good morning and he gave me a friendly wave. Neighbor John and I are now clearly best friends.

I checked the flower bed at the house across the street from John’s (the house of the two lesbians according to Pretty who knows every lesbian within miles) but no sign of our cat.

I saw no evidence of Lilibets under either one of our antique vehicles when I walked up the driveway so maybe she had vanished again. But no, she appeared mysteriously on the top step waiting for breakfast to be served when she heard the dogs barking for their meal. I gave her fresh water and her delicious Fancy Feast meal mixed with a few dry pellets. She actually purred and allowed me to pet her today. Wow. Incredible progress from the cat who chose to ignore me when I appeared in John’s driveway. Fickle.

I watched Lilibets eat from the kitchen door for a few minutes and then went in the back yard to water flowers for a little while. Still no rain in the forecast. Felt like summer. Sigh. Flowers on their last legs or, er, petals.

I went back to the kitchen door to check on Lilibet’s progress and lo and behold, what do you think I saw???!!!

The evil Bully Cat was eating our cat’s food and had scared away our puddy tat who was nowhere to be seen.

I went nuclear, hollering obscenities, rushing toward the Bully Cat with all the ferocity my 75 year old white-haired self could muster. You better run, you feline son of a you-know-what. You better hope I don’t catch up with you – I will make you wish you had picked another driveway to rob, etc.

The Bully Cat did run…all the way across the street where he stopped long enough to look back at me with a mocking glance. Then he disappeared.

After much cajoling, reassurances, and replenishing the food bowl Lilibets returned to the top step and finally felt a resurgence of her appetite. I stood guard while she polished off most of her food followed by sips of water. She and I had a common enemy now. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, if I remember that quote correctly. Evidently Pretty’s cat and I are buddies.

***************

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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

and now, the rest of the story on our puddy tat (part II)


Hi, I said to the smiling man who opened the door. My name is Sheila, and I live two houses down from you – the corner house.

Hi, he responded with a wary look, the smile fading a little bit. He didn’t introduce himself so I said, and you are?

John, he said. The smile was replaced by a slight frown.

I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but I wondered if this cat (and I gestured to our cat that was still eating, still ignoring me – the other cat had gone behind the house when I knocked on the door) belongs to you?

That cat? he asked and then began to laugh. Definitely not my cat, John said and laughed like I had just said the funniest thing in the world.

When he could talk he said, that cat belongs to this street. She eats here sometimes, the women across the street feed her sometimes, and last week I noticed she was eating in your driveway. She knows how to pick her people.

Seriously?! I exclaimed in disbelief. So our poor pitiful stray cat that’s eaten twice a day on Fancy Feast isn’t that pitiful after all? Lately we’ve been wondering what we could do to keep her warm in the colder weather.

Don’t worry about that, John continued. I’ve built a little outdoor house for her and have it heated to keep her warm on cold nights. He gestured toward a contraption on his carport which I now understood to be the cat’s winter residence.

Wow, I said with great admiration for his ingenuity. And have you named this cat?

Nah, I just call her Stray Cat. I decided against telling him what Pretty called her. Lilibets now seemed a bit overboard.

Well, I said at last. This certainly explains her behavior, and I can’t thank you enough for clearing things up for me. Just one other thing. Do you ever see the big grey male cat around the neighborhood?

Oh yes, John answered. He’s the neighborhood bully, but I’m not sure who owns him.

Thank you again, I said. It was very nice to meet you.

Likewise he said and smiled again as he closed the door.

I turned to walk away and spoke to “our” cat who continued to never look up at me as she munched on her pellets.

I called Pretty, gave her the report which stunned her as much as it did me, and we wondered whether we would become her summer residence with our sunny carport at the corner house while she wintered in John’s cat condo.

Guess who came to dinner last night?

************

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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

and now, the rest of the story on our puddy tat (part I)


Since the temperatures dropped into the 40s the last couple of nights, Pretty and I discussed the plight of our poor stray cat we’d been taking care of for the past month. What on earth could we do to protect her from the cold? We definitely couldn’t bring her into the house for fear that our dogs might eat her and/or I might suffer a life threatening allergic reaction. Hm. Last night Pretty said she would put her mind to solving the problem so I agreed to leave it with her.

When we took off to pick up our granddaughter Ella from preschool yesterday afternoon around 2, we saw Lilibet (Pretty’s name for the cat) in the street in front of our house. Look at that, Pretty exclaimed – it’s our cat in the street. It was the first time either of us had seen the cat away from our carport or driveway in weeks. We didn’t devote more talking about the novel sighting until we came home several hours later to find the cat still in the street in front of our house. That’s very odd, I told Pretty. It’s almost time for her Fancy Feast evening meal. That cat never misses a meal. She positions herself on the top step under the back kitchen door until she’s served.

All of a sudden a large grey male cat who stalks our new cat came running from beneath our truck in the driveway and jumped our cat that had begun to amble home from the street. Pretty sprang into action, started yelling, threw her Rush’s unsweetened ice tea on the big male cat, and I turned around to join the fray by hollering epithets mixed with menacing actions toward the male cat until he ran off. I scared myself.

Our cat was somewhat traumatized by the hullabaloo so she had a delicious meal to calm her nerves.

This morning was another cold one so I left a little later than usual for my morning walk. The cat often greets me in the morning when I leave, but this morning she didn’t come out from her secret hiding place in Pretty’s antique carport jungle nor did she appear from under one of our two vehicles which could also be termed antiques. But I wasn’t worried. I knew I would see her at breakfast.

Forty-five minutes later I was finishing my walk, getting close to our house. To my surprise I saw our cat running on the opposite side of the street toward another house. I looked to see if the large grey male cat was after it again, but no. Nothing chasing it. I called to our cat which by now had settled comfortably into a flower bed at a house which was two doors down from us. Here Kitty, Kitty, I called. I’m on the way home. Breakfast is served.

Lilibets stared at me – but then looked past me. Two doors down they’re laughing and drinking and having a party maybe, or did our new cat have dementia, I wondered to myself. But I assumed she would meet me for breakfast. I was wrong. No cat appearance for Fancy Feast.

Pretty, I said when she pulled the bed off her back around 9 o’clock, our cat didn’t come for breakfast. Actually the cat is looking at our house from a flower bed at the house where you claim you know two other lesbians who live there.

What? Pretty said. I don’t believe it. Then she peered up the street from our bedroom window and said, I see her. I see her.

Pretty and I discussed the cat’s aberrant behavior and decided to take a wait and see approach. Pretty left a couple of hours later to work in her antique empire which meant I was at home alone stewing over our cat. I decided to not wait and see when Pretty was gone.

I started walking up the street toward our cat who jumped out of the flower bed where she had been resting for hours, raced directly across the street and up the driveway of yet another neighbor’s house. I’m doing my Here Kitty routine to a disappearing cat. It was too much for me. What in the world was going on with this feline creature?

I decided to see for myself. I followed the trail up the driveway of this second neighbor’s house and found a startling sight.

Lilibets was sharing a food bowl with another cat about her same size – calmly eating – wait for it – dry food pellets. Alternate reality. I called again with my Here Kitty routine. The look of disdain was cold, unfeeling. She acted like she had never seen me before in her life.

I decided to be proactive and see whether our cat really belonged to this neighbor. I knocked on the door; a smiling man who appeared to be in his late 50s opened the door.

Could this be Lilibet’s forever home?

Stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

my maternal grandmother’s legacy was love


my Dude’s birthday is today October 20, 1898

(d. April 19, 1972)

This picture of my grandmother greets me every time I sit down at my desk – Lots of love, Mother is the inscription on this old photograph we found in my mother’s random pictures when Pretty and I were cleaning out her home for the last time in 2007. The picture is framed just as it was when we found it; I wonder how old my grandmother was when this picture was taken. She looks so very young to me, but then I was born when she was a 48 year old widow struggling to make ends meet – already much older than her years.

When I was a toddler my parents and I moved in with my grandmother who became my closest friend and center of warmth in my family until I became a teenager. Bernice Louise Schlinke Boring was the daughter of Bertha Emeline Selma Buls Schlinke who was the daughter of Sophie Bartels Schawe Buls, a German immigrant from Brandenburg who as a widow married Joachim Buls in Texas in 1869. I am the daughter of Selma Louise Boring Morris Meadows who was the daughter of the woman in the picture above.

I honor the memory of my grandmother today which would have been her 123rd birthday. One day women may live to celebrate more than a century of life, but for today I remember Dude who loved me without reservation, who always had my back, who enjoyed watching I Love Lucy, Groucho Marx and Lawrence Welk on tv with me, who shared my secret of staying up to watch our favorite shows while pretending to be asleep when Mama and Daddy got home from Wednesday night prayer meeting, who baked the best cherry pies on Sunday morning and the best kolaches on Sunday afternoon, who sent me package after package of her homemade red velvet and peach cakes when I was in college, who wrote letters in bizarre handwriting she picked up from her few grades of grammar school…

I wish I had known then what I know now.

You were simply the best.

***************

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

an unexpected nugget from Pretty


Yesterday I was in the unfortunate position of needing postage to mail my cousin Melissa’s birthday card – the card I already know will be late – when, alas, the postage stamps I’d ordered from the usps hadn’t arrived in the mail. At various times during the past 20 years Pretty has offered her stamps in the unlikely event I should ever run out. I routinely rejected her offer but I was in a bind yesterday and had forgotten why I refused her generosity in the past so last night Pretty found her stamp collection in a small retail shop bag she had carefully kept in the bowels of her office.

I rummaged through the bag and a flashback hit me. Pretty doesn’t buy forever stamps because that would be too easy. Instead I found an assortment of stamps ranging from 2 cents to 33 cents. Seriously, Pretty? I couldn’t call this a stamp “collection” but it was a collection of stamps. I managed to come up with enough postage to mail Melissa’s card; usps now says a card from South Carolina to Texas could take until her next birthday to get there. Regardless, thanks to Pretty for saving the day.

But greater thanks to her for this nugget of writing that was copied on a sheet of regular 8 x 11 white paper, folded in half and oddly mixed in with the stamps. I felt these words about racism from the American author and poet Scott Woods speaking directly to me – I wish I had written them.

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know /like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes Black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

Sometimes I’m a storyteller. Sometimes I’m a word collector much like Pretty’s stamp “collection” which saved those words for me, for all of us.

****************

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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

close encounter of the cat kind


stray cat adopted by Pretty who named her Lilibet

(I call her Pussy)

Naturally Pretty would settle on the nickname of Queen Elizabeth II for the recent interloper who crashed our carport four weeks ago, who now sits at the top of the steps of our kitchen door with the expectation of Fancy Feast meals twice daily, but refuses human touch. Her Royal Highness.

I have solid reasons for resisting Pretty’s cat rescue attempts over the past 20 years: my cat allergies, our dogs’ instinctual desire to murder cats, additional vet bills…I could go on.

Why give up the fight over the cat with Pretty now, the reasonable reader asks, to which I reply I got nothing on that. The cat showed up. Pretty started with giving her water. The next thing I knew I was ordering Fancy Feast from the grocery store. End of story.

My friend Ellen Hawley (notesfromtheuk.com) has a cat named Fast Eddie and asked for a photo plus name of our Stray Cat so here you go, Ellen.

I also would like to dedicate this post to the memory of my friend Luanne Castle’s cats (writersite.org/2021/10/06/making-after-loss/) Pear, Felix, Mac and Izzie. No one could love a cat more than Luanne and her husband the gardener although Pretty will surely try her best.

***********

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

boo at the zoo, are we there yet? not yet


My friend Dick Hubbard who has been my most faithful reader since the days of the OG Red Man (the rescued Welsh terrier that became my alter ego in Red’s Rants and Raves) called me after my last post to say that my “grandmother inspired” posts were excessive. Now Dick is the only person who consistently rates my blogs as 5 star excellent so I want to apologize in advance to him for yet another Ella inspired post.

Yesterday Pretty and I planned an adventurous outing at Riverbanks Zoo for the annual Boo at the Zoo experience in October. Please ask me if we have ever gone to this annual Halloween celebration. The answer is No, negatory, nunca in our 20 years together, but I ordered our tickets to take Ella and her mother Pretty Too later this month. The tickets come with complete instructions for costumes, trick or treat buckets, masks for adults, etc. I didn’t expect Boo to be so complicated.

I hope Boo at the Zoo will be as fun as our first visit with Ella to one of Pretty’s favorite haunts: Barnes and Noble.

Naynay, please?

Pretty and I seem to struggle with setting boundaries.

***********

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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

international day of the girl (or two girls!)


Pretty and I are fortunate to celebrate international day of the girl every week when we care for our granddaughter Ella who turned 2 years old on October 1st., but we were thrilled to find out earlier this year Pretty Too and Number One Son are expecting another little girl in January! Ella announced the news to everyone last week…

May be an image of baby, sitting and indoor

Pretty Too shared this picture of our quite grown up two year old who is more than poetry in motion – she is a force of nature – and language. Movement, words. Every new experience requires exploration and discovery. Frankly, my dears, her energy exhausts this grandmother who was 73 years old when she was born and two years older today, but Ella insists I keep up with each game we play in her imagination informed by the adventures of Deema and Sally on YouTube videos.

The world Ella and her little sister Molly will inherit from Pretty and me will afford them opportunities to learn in an environment richer in technology with access to a wealth of answers to questions we didn’t know how to ask, but how will historians frame those answers. Who will narrate the journey of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the Equal Rights Amendment failure in the 1970s and beyond, the Gay Nineties, Black Lives Matter, Love is Love, Time’s Up, a woman’s right to choose…will these historians represent the truth and consequences of denying climate change, the power of divisiveness and income inequality, the reality of hunger for the poor children not just in America but also around the world, the election of Joe Biden in 2020, the insurrection in the Capitol building on January 06, 2021. We must safeguard these truths and pass them on to our granddaughters.

The message will be clear from us. Love who you are, love others as you do yourself. Learn to identify the difference between what is right and what is wrong. When you see something that is wrong, work to change it.

When Ella began to love the music Pretty played for her on her cell phone, one of the first videos she saw was March, March from The Chicks. This is my message for the village that is entrusted with the care of all little girls everywhere.

********

Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments