sweet home Alabama!


Thank you to the people of Alabama for restoring my faith and hope in a life-long American dream of liberty and justice for all and for reminding me that Every Vote Counts.

I especially want to thank the black women of Alabama for their contribution to this important win. I believe in your march to the polls yesterday I could hear echoes of the   voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose words are etched in stone in the Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.

Just imagine if one day justice really could “roll down on us like waters and righteousness (which Webster’s everyday thesaurus describes as that which is  honorable, ethical, honest, just, fair, equitable…) like a mighty stream.”

Until then…

Stay tuned.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

the surprise Christmas visit: you raised me up


If I could travel through time today, I would have no interest in traveling forward. No, I would opt for backward time travel to make a surprise Christmas Eve visit with my family in my hometown of Richards, Texas in 1956 because, you see, the people gathered in that small living room belonging to my grandparents on my daddy’s side “raised me up.”

My mom Selma  and my dad Glenn are sitting on a traditional beige three person sofa with my other grandmother who I called Dude. My mom and dad are in deep discussions about the Christmas cantata they are having at the Baptist Church where my dad leads the singing because he has the loudest male voice that can carry a tune and my mother plays the piano because she has had this job since she was a teenager.

My mother’s oldest brother, Marion, who is currently unemployed and living at home with us in Dude’s house, sits in one of the dining room chairs brought to the living room for our family party to open gifts that night. My mother’s other brother Toby also sits in one of the dining room chairs with his cane leaning against it. Toby is also unemployed and living with his mother which means that I live with him, too.

My grandmother Ma sits in a living room chair that goes with her sofa in a prominent spot next to the Christmas tree my grandfather cut from our woods three miles outside of town. The assorted colors of bubble lights on the tree are bubbly…the tree has several ornaments I remember from other Christmas trees in this same living room. A few icicles were thrown in a haphazard manner to give the tree a kind of beginner tree look, although Ma has decorated her trees in this fashion for years. I know this for a fact because I helped her throw the icicles.

Selma’s tree, on the other hand, at Dude’s house was definitely the more polished decorating effort. My mother loved precision and a plan – her Christmas tree was a perfect example of both. The tree was always beautiful.

To the left of Ma sits my grandfather Pa. He sits in a special chair that also belongs in the living room but looks to be the most uncomfortable seat in the entire setting which seems to me to be unfair since he has been on his feet all day at the barber shop cutting hair and giving shaves to the farmers who want to look good for their families at Christmas.

My grandmother Dude has also been standing on her feel all day helping people find last-minute gifts at the general store where she works six days a week all year except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I am sitting on the floor next to the gifts under the tree when Ma motions for me to begin playing Santa Claus and passing out the gifts. Ma insists that I wait for each person to unwrap their gift before I hand out the next one. I am impatient with the process and have the temerity to tell Ma. She laughs and says I can pass out gifts however I want when I have my own house and Christmas Eve party but in her home, the gifts will be opened to suit her.

Today is a rainy cold December day in 2017, and I am now more than 60 years past that Christmas Eve in Texas but I still can see those people, all of whom are now gone, as if they were here with me in this moment.

I have been listening this week to Celtic Woman: Homecoming in Ireland which I recorded earlier this week. I love their Irish voices and the concert which ends with one of their most popular songs: You Raise Me Up.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains,

you raise me up to walk on stormy seas.

I am strong when I am on your shoulders,

you raise me up to more than I can be.

If I could speak to my family again in that little living room on Christmas Eve, I would tell them that I am grateful for how they individually, and as a group, “raised me up” to be more than I can be. I stand on the shoulders of people who raised me in love and kindness and with the belief that decency and respect for others are the values that matter most in life.

At a time when we are looking for standards for how we should treat each other, I think love and kindness are a good place to start.

Stay safe during the holiday season, and stay tuned.

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

charly needs a break from news, fake or not


Can we please watch an Amazon original movie or Netflix movie or anything other than what I’m listening to on the news all day every day?

lighten up…it’s the holidays

Seriously?

Stay tuned.

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

The Rich Man, Middle Man, Poor Man Tax Reform Act of 2017


So both houses of Congress have now voted to pass their version of the Rich Man, Middle Man, Poor Man Tax Reform Act of 2017 in which the Rich Man becomes measurably (in gazillions) richer while the Poor Man, as Pretty is fond of saying, is another day older.

But what about the Middle Man? The Middle Man has been charged with paying for the gazillions of new debt that will be owed to China, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, drug cartels, money launderers, the Koch Brothers and other major political donors, lobbyist lenders, etc. for generations.  Tsk. Tsk. Shame, shame, shame.

The final draft of the Senate bill will be a surprise for the Senators who voted on it without ever seeing the final draft.  Imagine their surprise if the final version had an addendum requiring all Senators serve without pay for the next 20 years to help pay for the deficits the new tax law generates. Oops. That would never happen, of course, but what a fun thought.

Tax reform proponents tout the corporate tax cuts as the catalyst for economic growth through larger investments at home in the USA including hiring additional employees, major capital renovation and new construction projects while a number of actual CEOs questioned about the corporate tax rate cuts said they planned to use the cuts to reduce their own corporate debt and buy back their own stock. Uh, oh. Stockholders vs. sweat equity. No contest.

Regardless of the consequences to the country, the president had his first major legislation approved on the very same day that Lt. General Michael Flynn, his former National Security Advisor, plead guilty to lying to the FBI concerning the Russia investigation which the White House suggests is fake news and akin to going snipe hunting. The plea carries a maximum five year jail term so Mike Flynn is beginning to feel like the fake investigation is very real.

Talk about a mess. Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief.

They were all in the news in Washington, D. C. this week – even the Indian Chief who watched two Navajo WWII Code Talkers honored at an official White House event as they stood beneath a portrait of former president Andrew Jackson who is known for his disgraceful treatment of Native Americans (think Trail of Tears) and heard the current president make a racial slur during the ceremony by referring to a Democratic Senator as Pocahontas. Can anybody help me here.

Now the Sexual Predator in Chief has thrown his support in recent days to the accused child molester running for the Senate in the state of Alabama, Roy Moore. Come on, Alabama, I’m pulling for you to stand up for decency ten days from here when you go to the voting booths…please.

Somebody stop me.

Okay. I’m thinking back to happier times at Casa de Canterbury and wondering if they were the good ol’ days.

Pretty Too and Pretty – Christmas – 2011

 

Smokey Lonesome Ollie in December, 2011

I’m hoping the rest of December turns out to be less stressful than the first couple of days – for everyone.

Stay calm, stay patient in traffic, stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

#Me Too


via #Me Too

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I was this close


The Pulitzer Prize people called and said I was probably going to win their Nonfiction Prize for Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home this year but I had to be available for an interview and photo shoot this past Saturday night. I had to say no because that was the night of the annual Carolina – Clemson football rivalry game which I never miss.

(Gamecocks lost 34 – 10) Bummer.

P.S. My Longhorns also lost their football game on Friday night to Texas Tech and, to complete the sports trifecta, my Gameock women’s basketball team lost to Notre Dame on Sunday night. Trifecta major depression…plus no Pulitzer.

Posted in Humor, Life, Personal, politics, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

the devil made me do it


Full disclosure: my granddaddy was a barber for 65 years. He had one chair in his very small shop in Richards, Texas, the tiny town where I grew up in the 1950s. For most of the time I can remember he charged 50 cents for a hair cut and 25 cents for a shave. His customers usually requested both.

I was mesmerized by the swish, swish of his straight edge razor against the leather strap before he began the fascinating ritual of the shave with the white foamy shaving cream and his precision stroke of the open faced razor against each man’s face. The hot towel, the after-shave lotion. Every time I smell Old Spice I can see him shaking the bottle twice, pouring the lotion into his hands, rubbing his hands together and then carefully smoothing that lotion over his customer’s face to complete the ultimate in male pampering.

My granddaddy was a magician with scissors when he cut hair, but he was an artist with a straight edge razor blade. Ask anyone who ever had one. Ask me. When I was five or six years old, he gave me a pretend shave that I have recorded in much happy detail in my first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing.  (Sheila Gets a Shave is also included in the Rainbow Radio Anthology if you have a copy.)

My point of this lengthy background is to partially explain my faux pas at our family Thanksgiving dinner last night which, by the way, was great fun with Pretty, Pretty Too, Number One Son, Sis-in-law and Brother-in-law. I could have described the evening as perfect with an excessive amount of traditional food that was mouth-watering, lots of laughter, great conversation that included agreement on the politics and sports activities of the day.

Yes, it really could have been perfect until… for some unknown reason I said to Number One Son how happy I was to see that he had no beard this year. Pretty chimed in and asked him if he was using the electric razor we bought him for Christmas (hint, hint) two years ago, and he said he was. Someone asked Pretty, Too if she preferred him with a beard or without, and Pretty, Too had the good common sense to say she really liked him either way. That should have been my signal to give the topic a rest.

Instead, the devil or the cocktails got in my head and without a filter, I began to R-A-N-T about beards and how much I HATED them – every last one of them. Why in the world can’t men just shave, for God’s sake? The more I ranted,  the more I felt the rest of the group becoming very quiet. Sometime you can just feel an awkward silence descending on a gathering. You could have heard a pin drop when I stopped to catch a breath.

(l.to r.) Brother-in-law, Pretty, Pretty, Too, Number One Son

(I am the one in the front with my foot in my mouth.)

Sigh. Oh, well. Nobody’s perfect. I tried to tell Brother-in-law I didn’t mean his specific beard because his beard was really very well-groomed, but alas, Brother-in-law advised me that when I found myself in a hole, it would be better if I stopped digging. And I did.

In the end, we all parted friends and were still planning to get together at Christmas which I took as a good sign that all was forgiven.  Moving on to Merry Ho Ho!!

Hope all of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving with family and friends and that the rest of your weekend will be a fun one. I plan to lay low, no cocktails, no opinions on anything.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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

an unexpected Thanksgiving


The five of us sat around a small dinner table lit by two candles in the center last night for an impromptu Thanksgiving meal inspired by none other than the traditional holiday gobbler known as the turkey. Our hostess, Kati, said she bought the large turkey breast at the grocery store this week and when she looked at it, she realized it was the perfect size to share so she invited Pretty and me along with two other friends, Brenda and Sheila Go (so as not to be confused with Sheila Slo) to celebrate Thanksgiving with her in her home.

Before we ate, we held hands and had what Kati called a “mindful moment” which was our version of saying grace, a moment that instantly transported me to the Thanksgivings of my past with my family in Texas that was no more – a moment that connected me to the friends at the table who had become part of my family in South Carolina during the past 45 years. Tears mingled with laughter as we remembered how we met, the ups and downs of our journeys both together and separate, the stages of life behind us…those still to come…the wonder of European butter.

During the coming holiday season I hope you will have an opportunity to experience the power of family in the presence of the unexpected. Discover a moment to tell someone how much they mean to you, how much you love them – take kindness to another level.

Pretty and I wish all of our friends in cyberspace a Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

It’s a Book! It’s a Book!


I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it, I’m about to lose control, and I think I like it!

The Pointer sisters couldn’t have been more excited about their music than I am about my new book, Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home, which is now available for pre-orders on Amazon and should be released in early December!

Four years ago next month I went to the Guild Christmas Party and had a good visit with one of my favorite people, Harriet Hancock. We sipped our cocktails and talked about the importance of preserving stories like hers for future generations – the more we talked, the more convinced we became that the idea was worth exploring. We decided to get together after the holidays to talk about it again.

During that same holiday season in 2013 Teresa and I had Christmas at Dick Hubbard and Curtis Rogers’s farm in Hopkins with our friends Dave and Saskia and their son Finn. I mentioned the idea to Dave of an oral history book with the stories of some of the organizers of the lgbtq movement in South Carolina – told him about my conversation with Harriet the night before. Dave, who is an American History scholar at the University of South Carolina, said such a book could be very helpful to the literature. Later on, Dave introduced me to one of the acquisitions editors, Alex Moore, at the University of South Carolina Press.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Through personal interviews, fabulous storytelling, laughter, tears, shared memories – I had the privilege of getting to understand why these ordinary people did extraordinary work that changed the environment for lgbtq issues in a rural conservative southern state. Amazing. Awesome. Truly a must-read.

Jim Blanton, Candace Chellew-Hodge, Matt Chisling, Michael Haigler, Harriet Hancock, Deborah Hawkins, Dick Hubbard, Linda Ketner, Alvin McEwen, Ed Madden and Bert Easter, Sheila Morris, Pat Patterson, Jim and Warren Redman-Gress, Nekki Shutt, Tony Snell, Carole Stoneking, Tom Summers, Matt Tischler, and Teresa Williams.

“In Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement, Sheila Morris has curated a gallery of queer activists’ stories. If the SC Historical Commission ever casts around for some new figures for all the surplus bronze, this book has a hero for every platform.”–Kate Clinton, feminist humorist, contributor to the Progressive and the Huffington Post

I have a special page that will be on this site permanently at the top of my blog – please read it for reviews and other important information about events, signings, the official book launch.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged | 8 Comments

where in the world is the old woman Slow?


Oh, yes there she is under all the covers while wearing 4 layers of clothes…Charly and Spike huddled next to her.

Jeopardy Question: If four trees fall in your front yard because they are being purposefully cut down, do they make a noise?

And the answer is: Yes…just ask Charly and Spike who are afraid it means the end of times and are stuck like glue to Slow.

Jeopardy Question: How many heating and air companies does it take to fix the heat at Casita de Cardinal?

And the answer is The Daily Double: We have no idea – today makes 3 and counting.

Have a great weekend, cyberspace friends – we are meeting our Best Gay Boys Basketball Buddies at the first Gamecock women’s basketball game tonight. Not only are we hoping for a win – we also hope to stay warm for several hours with the other 10,000 fans in the Colonial Life Arena! Go Gamecocks!!

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 7 Comments