yesterday and today juxtaposed


One of my favorite quotes as a septuagenarian is “we must have old memories and young hopes.” Catchy, right? Sigh.

I have a revision. Check it out: we must have new memories and reclaim old hopes.

Yesterday’s new memories with Pretty and our granddaughters

at a favorite playground

Today’s old hopes reclaimed on signs

in our front yard

I should have saved my signs from 50 years ago. All women – including our granddaughters – must have the right to control their own bodies. Period. End of discussion.

Make your plan to VOTE on November 08th.

***********

Stay safe, stay sane and please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Random, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rooted and Winged – poems by Luanne Castle


Unbelievably Pretty and I didn’t lose power during the winds and rain of Hurricane Ian as it passed through our neighborhood two days ago. I held my breath and feared the worst: I wouldn’t be able to finish the Sidney Poitier documentary on Apple TV+ or watch A Raisin in the Sun afterwards. I needn’t have fretted about the telly, though.

During a rain recess I walked to the mailbox and was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of Rooted and Winged, poems by Luanne Castle, stuck among the host of political asks for financial support which are routine with the mid-term elections looming. Luanne is a blogging friend who shares my interest in personal history mixed with current cats, a love of family, a truth seeker and teller. Hooray, I thought to myself as I put the book down on my chair and returned to Sidney on the still functioning Apple TV+. Regardless of wind and rain, I had a book to read by candlelight. No need for candlelight – my lamp bulbs performed their duties without interruption.

As the title suggests, this latest collection of poems by award winning poet Luanne Castle vividly portrays her recollections of the people and places that grounded her for life as well as the later forces which led her to observe nature with more than casual acquaintance, confront change in a world spinning out of control, and ultimately gave her wings to the voice she now uses to simultaneously sound alarm while offering comfort.

Here are excerpts from two poems I found unforgettable.

Why We Wait for Rain

We wait for hours watching the dark unfurling

toward us, unsure

if it will land here at all

whether it carries thunderstorm or haboob

It smells like rain

bittersweet cocktail of sandstone & blossoms

still damp and quickening in the air

over ten thousand years…

And then this wonderful fantasy When I’m in Charge

Someday you will realize it was me

and know what you’ve lost.

When the cancer cure is announced,

I will be the anonymous healer.

I will defeat A.I. before it takes over

our world, outwit the hackers,

the scammers and spammers…

We’re all safe in the future because

of what I’ve done, outlawing grief

and its wily predecessor love.

This book as well as her earlier work is available through Amazon and Luanne’s https://www.luannecastle.com/bookstore.

Even if you believe you’ve never liked poetry, I encourage you to have a go at this collection. I guarantee you’ll surprise yourself by the emotions the images evoke even as your mind takes flight.

***********

Stay safe, stay sane, and please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Carport Kitty and the hurricane


Carport Kitty settled on a mat at the bottom of our kitchen steps to weather the disastrous Hurricane Ian this week – our home in West Columbia, South Carolina was spared the devastation our neighbors in the low country of the state experienced for the past two days – we are two hours inland from Charleston. We realize we dodged a dangerous bullet by a few twists and turns on the large weather map that showed the destinations Ian reached; for that Pretty and I are immensely grateful.

This morning CPK shared her space with ?

Bully Cat who gave me a stare

The costs of catastrophic weather events like Hurricane Ian are immeasurable today in the losses of lives and property, these costs will linger in the memories of so many people for all their tomorrows. To anyone who struggles to rebuild and restore their dreams for themselves and their children, whether from a blow from nature or a blow from another personal loss or disappointment, I hope you will find your own mat to weather the storm like Carport Kitty did. Maybe you can even comfort someone else.

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

Stay safe, stay sane 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 , , , | 6 Comments

what’s scarier? Halloween or the MID-TERMS?


Do you have our Boo at the Zoo tickets yet? Pretty called to me from her chair in the den last night while I struggled to catch up on a sea of emails in my office.This past weekend was Laver Cup tennis, one of my favorite tennis events of the year, but the 2022 tournament was in London which meant I was glued to the Telly on British Summer Time for three days with no opportunity for the 3Rs: reading emails, reading blogs and reading bills.

Boo at the Zoo tickets? I called back to Pretty. It’s not even October, I thought to myself, but I obediently went to the Riverbanks Zoo website to find out about tickets. Last year was our first ever Boo experience because, you guessed it (a) Covid restrictions were lifted for the annual Halloween at the Zoo extravaganza and (b) we had a two year old granddaughter.

Ella fell in love with her first real Halloween in 2021,

eyes full of wonder at friendly ghost as we entered

Boo at the Zoo

The dates for Boo are October 20th. – 30th., I told Pretty when she walked into my office to make sure I was following up. Luckily, I continued, there are 2,900+ tickets available every night.

Well, Pretty said, I’d better text Caroline (a/k/a Pretty Too, mother of Ella) to get our date on the calendar right away.

Exactly, I answered. Game on. Pretty returned to her iPhone in the den.

***********

September flew by this year – such an emotional one with the retirement of Serena Williams the first week of the US Open followed by this past weekend’s farewell to another living legend of the game: Roger Federer. Woe is me, I am undone. I feel like I’ve lost two best friends within a month; I’m feeling sad and angry, as Ella says when she fusses at me for one of my thoughtless outbursts in her direction. The word No should never be in anyone’s vocabulary.

I’m angry with Time and Tide which wait for no man, according to an ancient proverb, and we can add they seem to speed up for tennis players over the age of 40. If only I could put Time in that bottle Jim Croce sang about…

However, I will enjoy five more days in September, the first days of autumn, thirty-one days of Halloween excitement with soon to be three year old granddaughter Ella and her eight months old baby sister Molly, trying to avoid the angst of the looming general election on November 8th.

Stay safe from all hurricanes, stay sane and please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Humor, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

who’s (what’s) to blame for microwave disaster?


Plenty of blame to go around, of course.

(1) no alarm clock in our house that we can figure out how to work except microwave timer

(2) the Covid test kit with exactly 15 second nose swabs and then

(3) exactly 30 seconds swirling in tube and then

(4) exactly 15 minutes to wait for valid test

(5) the unsuspecting Lizard’s Thicket dinner roll placed two days ago in microwave to be eaten by someone for breakfast yesterday

(6) Lizard’s Thicket for giving Pretty one dinner roll and one cornbread with her vegetable plate day before yesterday instead of the two cornbreads she always orders with the vegetable plate she gets at least once a week

(7) whoever was supposed to eat unwanted dinner roll for breakfast yesterday but chose cinnamon raisin bread toast because she totally forgot the dinner roll was in the microwave

(8) whoever decided to take yet another Covid test early this morning because she can’t believe her laryngitis and sore throat aren’t due to Omicron variant of the coronavirus

(9) Pretty for staying with Molly for five nights at Drew and Caroline’s house across town while they were gone with Ella, leaving Pretty’s hypochondiac wife alone with Covid testing kits in kitchen

Note to self: never leave dinner roll in microwave for 15 minutes. The dinner roll will catch fire, the microwave will never be the same, and the house will be filled with smoke.

Could I possibly blame Carport Kitty when Pretty comes home today?

Hm. I doubt it. Sigh. What’s one microwave more or less among friends, right, Pretty?

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

changing of the guard in Queens (New York, that is)


As Serena Williams said in her farewell on-court interview following her loss this year in the US Open, there would be no Serena if it weren’t for her sister Venus. Tennis fans who have followed the professional tennis world for the past twenty-five years echo this sentiment. The two sisters have been prominent figures who not only set new records in the sport but also contributed to changing the evolution of women’s tennis players toward a more powerful game.

Selected Women’s Singles Champions at the US Open:

1999 – Serena Williams (17 years old)*

2000 – Venus Williams

2001 – Venus Williams, Serena Williams Runner-up

2002 – Serena Williams, Venus Williams Runner-up

2008 – Serena Williams

2011 – Samantha Stosur, Serena Williams Runner-up

2012 – Serena Williams

2013 – Serena Williams

2014 – Serena Williams

2017 – Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys Runner-up

2018 – Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams Runner-up

2019 – Bianca Andreescu, Serena Williams Runner-up

2022 – Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur Runner-up

*Serena Williams was eliminated in the third round of the 2022 US Open on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York. Williams was 24 days shy of her 41st birthday. She holds the most combined major titles with thirty-nine: 23 singles, 14 women’s doubles and 2 in mixed doubles plus four Olympic gold medals representing the United States.

Venus (l.) and Serena Williams win 1st Major Doubles

together at US Open in 1999

Carol Newsome/AFP/Getty Images

2022 US Open Women’s Doubles Runner-up Team

Caty McNally (l.) and Taylor Townsend

photo by Pete Staples/ USA

The Open this year marks, in my opinion as a tennis fan for more than fifty years, the beginning of a changing of the guard in both women and men’s tennis. New names emerged this year – names unfamiliar to the television viewers perhaps but nonetheless those we will need to learn how to pronounce, to watch for, and to embrace as they make their own places in history.

Iga Swiatek won 2022 Women’s Singles at US Open

from Poland – also won French Open in 2020 and 2022

19-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won 2022 US Open (l.)

while runner-up was 23 year old Norwegian Casper Ruud

Getty Images

The US Open win for Alcaraz meant he was the youngest man ever to become #1 in the world in the ATP rankings. The year 2022 has not been a total changing of the guard in men’s tennis; Rafa Nadal won the Australian Open and the French Open, Novak Djokovic took the Wimbledon Championships. However, Roger Federer didn’t play at all in 2022, Nadal has many physical issues as well as becoming a father for the first time this fall, and Novak Djokovic has Covid vaccination problems. I do sense a shift in the winds away from the Big Three and their stranglehold on the majors in the Golden Era of men’s tennis for the first two decades of the 21st century. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Carlos said one of the greatest inspirations for him was Serena Williams. He grew up in the generation that watched the magical play of Serena. “She inspired me and a lot of players, you know,” he answered when asked what player on the WTA had inspired him.

“It’s passion, it’s power, it’s everything; she is the GOAT for me, plain and simple,” said Casper Ruud on Serena Williams.

photo of Iga in selfie with Serena at US Open

posted by Dzevad Mesic in Tennis World

“Her legacy is so big. She has shown us that it’s possible to play so good consistently for all these years and also play, and have a great business, and be a mother. She has shown us that there’s hope for that and for us.And with hard work, you can achieve really great things. So Serena is a legend of our sport for sure,” Swiatek said about Williams in a video for the WTA.

The final word belongs to Pretty, of course, who has allowed me to quote her on Serena. “Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka, and every other kid in America who picks up a racket – male or female – will do it because of Serena Williams.”

There you have it. End of story except to say Serena will always be my Queen of Queens, and it’s hard to say goodbye.

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Eloise Robinson Powell was a woman of substance


“Eloise Powell was a very special person, she was successful in every aspect of life, and she was a Godly woman who loved her family with every ounce of her being.”  ——– from obituary September 06, 2022

My daddy Glenn Morris’s favorite cousin was Eloise Robinson Powell who was born March 21, 1924 six months before his birth on October 6th. of the same year. Daddy’s mother Betha Day Robinson and Eloise’s father William T. – better known to us as Bud – were sister and brother; Daddy’s father George Morris and Eloise’s mother Hattie Jane were brother and sister. In rural southeast Walker County, Texas the children of such mixed families in the Roaring 20s were known as “double first” cousins.

Although their parents came from large families, (George and Hattie were two of ten children, Betha and Bud two of seven) Eloise was an only child while Glenn had one older brother and sister. Glenn spent much of his summers growing up with Eloise at their grandmother’s home in the tiny community of Crabbs Prairie “out in the country” near Huntsville which was fewer than 30 miles from his house in the small town of Richards in neighboring Grimes County. The friendship they formed in those early years as double first cousins would last throughout their lifetimes, spilling over into the next generation when Eloise’s son Bill and I played outside Uncle Bud’s store in Crabbs Prairie as kids in the 1950s.

Eloise remained in Huntsville after her marriage to Chester Powell, had a successful career for thirty years as the administrative secretary to three different presidents of Sam Houston State University and upon her retirement received the honor of being named an SHSU Distinguished Alumni, the highest recognition a graduate of the school receives. My dad took me to visit Eloise in her office at Sam Houston several times when he was working on his master’s degree in education at the college. I’m sure she was surprised when Daddy and his little daughter popped by without warning in the President’s office to say hello. (Think no cell phones.) I remember how sweetly she smiled, though, how genuinely happy they were to see each other.

The vicissitudes of life took Bill and me away from our Crabbs Prairie/Richards roots which meant that we didn’t stay as close as Glenn and Eloise had been; yet, our paths crossed again when I had an unexpected four-year Texas sabbatical from 2010 – 2014. Bill and his wife Donna had moved back to Crabbs Prairie and were living in a lovely home next to the modern convenience store version of Uncle Bud’s store. Pretty and I lived in Montgomery, a growing small town 18 miles south of Richards. Donna and Bill were as gracious to us when we popped in on them as Eloise was to my dad and me. Think cell phones, but no phone numbers.

One of the greatest gifts of my Texas sabbatical after forty years of living a thousand miles away in South Carolina was my reconnection to Eloise and our family. I visited with her in her Huntsville home several times where we shared memories, stories, looked at pictures, birth certificates, marriages licenses, death certificates. We talked, we laughed, we shed tears – but mostly we shared a love of family history which Eloise had preserved in detail worthy of the personal historian she was.

She also guided me on field trips around the area. One of our mutual cousins on the Morris side of the family, Fay, lived close enough to Eloise that we walked to help celebrate Fay’s 100th birthday in 2012.

Eloise in center with her Morris first cousin sisters Fay (r.) and Willie Jo

Eloise confided privately afterwards on the walk back she was convinced Fay’s secret to longevity was her 5:00 o’clock cocktail with a friend every afternoon without fail. I nodded and said I couldn’t argue with that.

On another field trip in 2012 Eloise guided our driver Frances and her husband Lee to explore county roads between Crabbs Prairie and Shiro to show us land that had been part of the original 320 acres received by Benjamin W. Robinson for his service in the Texas War for Independence from Mexico in 1836. Frances is Eloise’s first cousin on the Robinson side of the family – she and Lee were always up for a field trip. I promise I could never find this property again, but I did take a picture of this typical Texas vista which I then knew had belonged to my 3rd. great-grandfather.

Eloise prepared refreshments after our field trip – wine a must

Ending the trip with dinner at Mexican restaurant

seated l. to r. Lee and Frances, Eloise – standing lucky me

Pretty and I visited Eloise in February this year when we made a short trip to Texas after a five year absence. I talk about going home every year, but circumstances make the plane ride more difficult and, of course, there was the Covid epidemic. Regardless, it was a joy to see and talk to Eloise, her precious daughter-in-law Donna and her great-great-granddaughter Sophia who reminded us of our Molly. Eloise at nearly 98 years of age recognized us, interacted with us and turned the conversation to what we shared in common: family. She reminded me that our family had given us a good start in life, values to treasure, to always remember where we came from.

Eloise had many challenges in her later years. She was predeceased by her husband Chester and son Bill but was loved with more than a love by Donna, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. No one could have done more for her than Donna who was her primary caregiver and life preserver.

To me, Eloise will remain a woman of substance, a woman who “loved her family with every ounce of her being.” No flags fly at half mast today for her funeral as they do for the Queen of England’s passing, but in my mind I see a flag of hope for future generations of cousins who will remember her spirit as a guide for moving forward.

RIP, Eloise. I will miss you.

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setting boundaries with Molly


Family times on our screened porch this summer have been far and few between, as my cousin Martin used to say, but Labor Day weekend Number One Son Drew brought his two daughters almost 3 year old Ella and 7 months old Molly for a visit with their Nanas for a final pool fling. While Daddy Drew and Ella took a bathroom break, Pretty captured my efforts to teach Molly the importance of boundaries.

Naynay, why are your eyes always watering?

Maybe you have something in there

Naynay, stop talking about my fingernails – not nice

Ok, Naynay – is this better?

Naynay, please stop talking about boundaries

Can anyone help me keep Naynay from talking about boundaries?

What’s a boundary?

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

For the children. Slava Ukraini.

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Serena Wins!


Jumping for joy following her win, Serena Williams flashes the multi-million dollar smile toward the stands overflowing with fans who are thrilled to have tickets to witness the historic match. US Open 2022 at Ashe Stadium in New York City?

Ding, ding, ding. No, Serena tennis trivia fans. I watched the championship match between Williams and Li Na in the 2014 Sony Open a/k/a Miami Masters at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Florida this morning in my I can’t get enough of her greatness obsession by binging the Salute to Serena this week on The Tennis Channel (the unlucky loser in the battle with ESPN for live coverage of the US Open in 2022). If you can tear yourself away from the ESPN app, catch a few glimpses of Serena in her younger, more powerful years. She was, simply, amazing.

The 2014 win was historic because it was her seventh title at the event – the number of wins she shared at that time with Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf. She won in straight sets by defeating the Chinese player Li Na – closing the second set with an awesome ace. Classic Serena shot that has been her trademark over the past 27 years. Interestingly, Li Na retired following this loss. Also interesting, Novak Djokovic won the men’s singles title in the same tournament that year.

Last night as Serena began what she refers to as her “evolution” away from tennis, Pretty and I sat watching from our den comfy chairs while she sweated in the summer heat of New York on Ashe Stadium in a first round singles match of the 2022 US Open, the final major of the year. I was as nervous for her as a whistleblower testifying for the January 6th congressional committee against an ex-president. I could scarcely breathe until she won.

The victory jump may not have been quite as high as the one in the 2014 Miami tournament, the tennis attire may have been more sparkly, but the powerful ferocity that is Serena, the passionate love of the game of tennis, and the flashes of brilliance in that game last night showed why she continues to play in this fourth decade of her life. Would I dearly love for Serena Williams to win her 24th. Major title before she leaves the game? Absolutely. 100%.

But if she doesn’t, I am grateful to have watched this force of nature not only overcome obstacles to participate in the world of professional tennis but also help to change that world and the game forever. Rock on, Serena. Pretty and I are in your corner.

2016 Olympics

Posted in family life, Personal, racism, sexism, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

2022: the Year in Review (well, so far)


Let’s rap.

Two thousand twenty-two, I’m worried now ’bout you.

You’re two-thirds done and not too fun.

so where the heck have you gone?

(rhythm band in background doing their best to find one)

A new war in Ukraine with Russia to blame.

Killing children at will with no sense of shame.

bombing nuclear plants without any aim.

(rhythm band in background stops and says in unison Seriously?

bombing nuclear plants?)

Two thousand twenty-two, I’m worried now ’bout you.

You’re burning, you’re flooding, we shy away from the sights

you’ve allowed the Supremes to take away rights.

(rhythm band in background shakes their heads and wags fingers)

Two thousand twenty-two, I’m really worried now

our minds are blown by what we’ve found

An ex-pres has taken secrets you shouldn’t have allowed.

(rhythm band in background shake tambourines furiously)

Two thousand twenty-two, number of months remaining four.

we’re sick and tired of Covid and of you we implore

give us a break from chills and fevers and muscles that are sore.

(rhythm band in background nod approvingly, clapping hands)

And if you don’t mind, here’s the last ax to grind.

Two thousand twenty-two, you’re moving way behind

We’re watching, we’re rapping, to make sure you get in line.

(rhythm band moves into foreground to take bow – why, Liz Cheney is leading the band)

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

Yikes – I’m clearly not a rapper. Please stay tuned – I’ll do better.

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