We Will Not Let Hate Win


This week marks the one-year anniversary of the massacre of  49 members of the lgbtq community in Orlando at the Pulse night club.

We all remember and will stand with the people of Orlando who refuse to allow this tragedy to disrupt their ongoing belief, expressed again this week in their mantra, We Will Not Let Hate Win.

The little girl in the picture looks up hopefully to the flag from the March on Washington in 1993. Forty years after that picture was taken, she carried a flag similar to this one preserved by Dick Hubbard who marched with Freddie Mullis and a large contingent of South Carolinians alongside her. It was a defining moment for all who stood tall for equality that weekend and returned home to begin the work of changing the political landscape of their state.

There were no casualties during that protest, but there have been many since then… the Pulse shootings among the most notorious.

I keep pictures of the little girl I was in my new office at Casita de Cardinal – originally because I thought they went well with  Pretty’s juvenile book collection she brought with her in the move. I asked for that bookcase to be placed in my direct vision on the wall across from my desk. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were favorite sleuths of mine in my childhood so they create a wonderful atmosphere for my new work space.

Now, however, I think the pictures are important on many levels. They are vivid reminders of a time and place where questioning, longings and determination to pursue the whole earth as my territory, as my daddy promised me, led me to become the woman who marched in Washington in 1993.

Today during the anniversary week of the Orlando tragedy we understand we’ve come too far to turn back, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  famous quote became the poster for the 1993 march. For the survivors of the Pulse nightmare, the families of those we lost who continue to mourn, and for those who would limit our pursuit of happiness, his words of wisdom continue to be relevant in our ongoing adversities:

“Our freedom was not won a century ago, it is not won today, but some small part of it is in our hands, and we are marching no longer by ones and twos but in legions of thousands, convinced now it cannot be denied by human force.”

We will not let hate win.

 

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

Impasse


Webster’s Everyday Thesaurus has these words for impasse:

deadlock, stalemate, blind alley, bottleneck…dead end, dilemma, predicament, quandary, standstill, standoff.

This past week I had a heavy dose of impasse which intermingled with my increasing preoccupation about the American Civil War. I look more and more frequently at the map of the red states and blue states that make up our United States and wonder anew at Abraham Lincoln’s commitment to keep the country united as one. I understand the problem better for sure. I always wondered how brother fought brother on different sides during the Civil War. They were family first after all, right? Not so fast, my friend.

The American people are a “duke’s mixture” to quote my granddaddy who used the words for his Saturday barbershop customers in the 1950s when my grandmother asked him who’d stopped by the barber shop that day.

George, who all came by for a haircut today?

Well, Betha, it was a duke’s mixture.

To which she would shake her head and look at me and ask, What does that tell you? Duke’s mixture.

My granddaddy would laugh as if he’d told a funny joke, and I would laugh with him. My grandmother never cracked a smile.

Today I find myself not laughing, either. Rarely cracking a smile at the impasse among the citizens in our country which must surely have my grandparents spinning in their graves. My grandmother invented social media via the telephone party line we had in our little town as surely as Al Gore invented the internet. She relished listening in on other people’s conversations and delighted to repeat juicy gossip at her kitchen table… but please dear God, don’t ever mess with her family.

This week I did something I almost never do. I responded on Facebook to a post made by a first cousin twice removed who has a world view that I have long ago accepted as different from mine. Most of the time I hide his offensive posts from my timeline and move on.

I can’t bring myself to “un-friend” him because I truly love the little boy I remember visiting us in Richards so often with his grandmother who was my grandmother’s sister. But this week he posted that liberals must have a “mental illness” to think the way we do, and that struck a nerve for me.

You see, I grew up during a time when being a homosexual was considered to be a mental illness. Think about how you would feel if you grew up believing that you had a secret mental illness and, if exposed, you could be institutionalized. Lock her up. Throw away the key. I heard an old tape begin to  play in my mind.

Somehow our thread on Facebook took an unpleasant turn, as I already knew it would and we got into a discussion regarding a prevailing Muslim  belief in some places that gays should be killed. Unfortunately, one of my cousin’s friends chimed in with the following comment: “We knew someone many years ago that would probably want to buy a plane today, load them (gays and lesbians) up and drop them off over there (wherever Muslims live). I sure miss him.”

Wow. I was transported to a conversation I had in the early 1990s with a client who sat in my office and said, “If it were up to me, I’d take all those queers and put them behind barbed wire in Kansas and tell them to stay there.” I didn’t respond then. The old tape was playing louder now.

One of my mother’s most infamous quotes for me was that she wished all those gays would go back in the closet where they belonged. She would be happy to slam the door shut. The old tape was so loud now I could barely hear myself think.

Luckily, I didn’t accept the old tapes as I don’t accept my cousin or his friend’s thinking about who I am today. I’ve spent my entire adult life working for equal treatment and fairness – my liberal social justice beliefs.

In 1974 the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. I was 28 years old. In 2017 at the age of 71, I am personally declassifying liberalism as a mental illness.

I resolve to limit my social media interaction with my first cousin twice removed to Happy Birthday wishes. No need going up that blind alley again.

I feel better already.

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

WONDROUS WOMAN!


Pretty and I went to the movies last night with our Yankee Quartet friends (2 from New York and 2 from Boston) to see Wonder Woman. Pretty was exhausted from her ongoing hard work clearing out Casa de Canterbury where she labors daily with her own personal Energizer Bunny Shelley. I tore myself away from the French Open coverage on the Tennis Channel which was not easy for me, but a date night with Pretty is always worth any sacrifice.

Hello, my name is Sheila, and I’m a tennis television addict.

I know, I know. Why are you watching tennis on TV while Pretty labors away at Casa de Canterbury? Simply put, I am a liability for that endeavor, but I excel in dog-sitting Spike and Charly who also prefer tennis to toil. Go figure.

Thank goodness Pretty and I both wanted to see Wonder Woman. We really had such a fun time from start to finish. First of all, we saw several friends we rarely see while we were standing in line waiting to buy popcorn. The line was the length of a freight train on the railroad tracks as the signal clangs and the red lights blink during the interminable wait behind the wooden barriers that guard the railroad crossing. We had so much time waiting for popcorn we were able to catch up on the life of a seventeen-year-old friend’s daughter who was just graduating from high school and about to go to college. The last time we had heard anything about her she was eleven.

Seriously, movie theater management people, you really need more than one person selling popcorn when Wonder Woman is one of your featured films – even on a Tuesday night. Pretty gave up when we were soooooo close to the concession counter and joined our friends for the previews. Luckily, one of our Boston buddies stayed with me for the duration and we spent an outrageous amount of money together for popcorn and sodas. Don’t even get me started on concession stand prices at the movies. Like I could truly say I remember when popcorn was 25 cents and cokes were a dime…but nobody cares or even wants to be reminded of the economic issues surrounding inflation on an innocent night of fun and frivolity.

Turns out the expensive popcorn was delicious, and the movie itself was more than entertaining. Gal Gadot embodied the female super-hero Wonder Woman I remembered from my comic book days of secretive reading at Mr. McAfee’s drug store in my home town of Richards, Texas in the 1950s as well as the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman on TV I was in love with  in the 1970s. As the story came to life for me again on the big screen last night, I totally enjoyed the action packed images of this famous female super-hero directed by another woman, Patty Jenkins. If I were a movie reviewer, I would give this one 5 stars.

Pretty and our other friends also enjoyed the heroics, but I did notice Pretty yawning several times and poked her to let her know she was being watched. I knew she was tired, tired, tired, though; and WW was a long film. Not as long as the popcorn line, of course.

As the last credits scrolled down the screen after the final dramatic conclusion of the movie, we waited to see the names of the various actresses we recognized from other shows. Pretty never leaves a theater until the final credits are shown, even when she’s exhausted. That’s how she rolls in movies.

We said our goodbyes to the Yankee Quartet in the parking lot with promises to get together again soon.

On the way home, we talked about the movie, the popcorn line, the friends we hadn’t seen in forever. I asked Pretty what the father of the seventeen-year-old girl taught at the University of South Carolina. She replied, He’s a history professor who is an LBJ specialist.

I was incredulous at the idea of someone making a living teaching about Lyndon Baines Johnson. That sounded so appealing to me for some reason.

Gosh, I said, this is another example of choices I never knew I had for a career when I became an accountant fifty years ago. What would you like to have been, Pretty?

Wonder Woman, Pretty said. And I laughed.

That’s one of the things I love about Pretty. She dreams big.

P.S. June is traditionally Pride Month, although it isn’t officially recognized by the current administration in Washington, D.C. this year. Hug an lgbtq person this month with the love Wonder Woman believed in for everyone. Happy Pride!

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

America First?


Once upon a time in the summer of 2017 a Big Bad American Wolf huffed and puffed with self-importance.

And the Big Bad American Wolf said to the rest of the World, I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your houses down because your houses are not the right shade of green.

Our houses are green, our money is green – Americans are the mean green dancing machines.

On Putin, on Pittsburgh, on Prancer for sure, but Paris oh no, you’ve lost your allure.

Keep your huddled masses of immigrants and terrorists to yourselves.

That give- us- your- tired- and- poor- malarkey is over.

America is sovereign – we rock, and you roll.

Baa, baa ex- black sheep that was so very weak,

All the wool belongs to the Wolf now – he thinks it’s his to keep.

Not on my watch.

Posted in Personal, politics, Reflections | Tagged | 6 Comments

The Fabulous Huss Brothers – and How They Grew


My head is spinning from the realization that today is the first day of June, 2017. The first five months of this year have evaporated into thin air – I sometimes feel like I’ve been on the Scrambler which was the only ride I ever ventured to ride at the State Fair which I made every effort to avoid on an annual basis. My insides became outsides during the interminable twists and turns at such high velocities they made me stumble with dizziness when I finally was allowed to remove the bar and exit the small metal prison box. I had survived the Scrambler one more time.

I feel that same sense of relief at the end of the first five months of 2017. Moving is not for the faint of heart or body, a whirlwind trip south to New Orleans for the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, the Final Four with an historic National Championship with our women’s basketball team, birthdays, good anniversaries, sad anniversaries, and finally the death of a cousin who took a part of my childhood with him. Enough already. I have been “scrambled.”

Pretty and I were relaxing at a pool party/ cookout at the home of our gay boys basketball buddies this past weekend. I was chatting with fellow blogger Mar-la-ti-dah (check out her blog sometime – she’s fun!) when she asked me about the Fabulous Huss Brothers from Worsham Street in Texas. She’s not the first person to inquire about those little guys who brought me such joy while I was there. I’m always happy when people are interested in the brothers Huss.

As the fickle finger of fate would have it, my friend Becky sent me pictures of her three sons this week so I am updating their profiles for everyone with the new images. Enjoy!

Baby George is now 4 

(with rescue dog Carolina)

Oldest brother Oscar is 8

and proudly holds a giant craw fish from their tank

Dwight is in the middle at age 6

with the sweetest smile for a soccer player

Every Texas family loves a bluebonnets picture!

This one was on my Mother’s Day card from the boys. It’s a picture that makes me smile but also gives me hope for the future in these tumultuous times. I love the Fabulous Huss Brothers and miss their daily afternoon visits as well as the porch chats with their mother and the other Little Women of Worsham Street. It’ll be no time until we see them again.

 

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, Reflections | Tagged | 2 Comments

William “Bill” Chester Powell (April 26, 1947 – May 25, 2017)


My cousin Bill died yesterday following a battle with his own body for almost eight years. He was 70 years old.

I spoke with his mother Eloise this morning about my admiration for the courage Bill had displayed throughout his confinement as well as his wife Donna’s steadfast support while she helped her husband through the difficult activities of daily living. Eloise said simply, Bill was a trooper.

Yes. Not all troopers are in the armed services.

This weekend is Memorial Day, and I am immeasurably grateful for every soldier who serves today to protect our country from harm. I appreciate their families, their personal sacrifices, and the bravery required to face our enemies at home and abroad. These enemies multiply even as we alienate our friends and struggle to identify ever-changing battlefields. In the midst of a chaotic world our military personnel are asked to protect and defend us with their own lives if necessary. Thankful seems like such a small word for what our soldiers do, but thankful is how I feel.

My cousin Bill had a very real foe in his war with his health, but he won’t get a medal or ribbon for his valor. Instead, in the end he was surrounded by the love of his family and the hope that he will be remembered as a good man who refused to surrender during a very long haul. A worthy legacy.

my cousin Boybaby swinging

with his sister Frances pushing him,

me climbing the ladder, and Bill trying to ignore us 

playing on a swing set at my home in Richards, Texas

circa 1952

only children Bill and me at a family reunion

Bill’s maternal grandfather was my paternal grandmother’s brother, and his maternal grandmother was my paternal grandfather’s sister – sometimes our reunions were confusing, but our families were close and loved each other.

I will miss Bill. Rest in peace, cousin.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Charly’s First Anniversary


Imagine my surprise when Pretty called me this afternoon to tell me today was the one-year anniversary of our adoption of Charly from pawmetto lifeline, the place that had rescued the little dog from the kill shelter here in Columbia when her family of origin turned her in with a bad case of heart worms and an equally bad case of pregnancy. She had 11 puppies a year ago, and the eight who survived had already been adopted by forever homes when we met her. Charly a/k/a Dawn to her friends at pawmetto lifeline, hadn’t been so fortunate.

I couldn’t believe it’s been a year since we adopted her…

The blinds incident on Day 1 at Casa de Canterbury

(separation anxiety was a bit of a problem at first)

But look at her now! She runs this place – literally.

she’ll be comin’ round the mountain – wheeeee!

(at warp speed)

hey, dude – shake a leg

Spike had been bereft after losing the final members of his pack last spring, but his pace has picked up with Charly in the house.

Charly has been a delight and joy for our family in the past year – she brings a little something extra to the mix. We are the better for her spark in our family dynamics – and we like to think we’ve given her an extra helping of love in return. It’s a win-win situation.

I just love it when a plan comes together.

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Never Let Go of Your Baby


Cra-zy days, la, la, la…for me and you…we remain in a topsy-turvy state at Casita de Cardinal as we try to settle in. Three days of rain have thrown Charly and Spike for a loop as they boycott the outdoors. I have been thrown for a loop, too, but not by the rain. This afternoon Charly had had enough of the chaos in her world and took refuge in her favorite baby. 

Once again the chaos of the world outside our home makes us all wish we had a “baby” for comfort. We stand with the people of Manchester and Great Britain tonight as they mourn the losses of their loved ones in senseless crimes against innocent children and their families. There are no words.

When everything around you has

gone to hell in a hand-basket,

 hang on to your baby.

Sigh.

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

An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor


Source: An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor

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Aunt Selma’s funnies


In 2007 Pretty and I had to make a life-changing decision for my mother Selma because she was unable to make decisions for herself anymore. Like many other Baby Boomers, I was responsible for my mother’s care; I moved her from her home in Rosenberg, Texas to a Memory Care Unit in a long-term care facility in Houston that was 40 miles from her home. She was 80 years old at the time and furious with me for moving her. She was never able to go back to her home. I managed her care from a thousand miles away in South Carolina (and ultimately from a second home in Texas) as she progressed through the various stages of dementia for five years until her death.

My mother’s older brother Charlie had five children – the youngest of my first cousins is Dennis who lived near her Houston residence and visited her while she was there. His mother Mildred and my mother were good friends as well as sisters-in-law. In honor of both of our mothers for Mother’s Day, Dennis sent me this wonderful bittersweet collection of his memories of visits with her in Houston. He calls them Aunt Selma’s funnies.

There was not one time that she did not recognize me upon my entry into this huge warm room that had a giant bird-cage full of birds and a very large aquarium. As soon as she saw me enter and walk towards her, she would smile and kind of turn her face sideways, giving the appearance of a pleasant surprise, and say, “Well looky here, precious darling, you came all that long way to come and see me today! Oh my goodness! ! I just can’t believe it, that you are here. How nice.” “Come on in here now precious,
let’s go to my room, I want you all to myself. Tell me something about the family, anything at all, please?”

Now the “precious darling” quote goes all the way back to Christmases of long ago, the times that our family planned to go to her and my Uncle Glenn’s home for Christmas dinner. We would drive up into the driveway and she would beat us to the welcoming ceremony and come racing out of the house towards us, dressed in a solid red pant suit, hollering “Precious darlings, come on in, come on in!!!” The day was filled with sights and activity that I would usually only get to see every other year or so. A silver Christmas tree, or one that had been flocked, my family never ever had a tree with snow sprayed on it, and as a child, this was most interesting to me, and I always wondered how the white stuff got there and if it was going to disappear one night during the season. 

Then there were the card tables set up everywhere with plates and glasses, to be eaten on by the over flow attendance of family members, and then later for cards and dominoes with coffee cups. Upstairs was the giant’play’ room with the pool table, dart board, and golf green runway where you could practice your one shot putting.

Now back to my wonderful Aunt, after this flood of Christmas memory would escape me, as we left other smiling gents and grannies in the Memory Care unit’s commons area and proceeded to her room.

“Aunt Selma, did you hear about that bad storm last night?  There were some houses that were destroyed by the wind, but not one single person was even slightly injured!! And a school bus ran off the road in all that water, and each and every child was pulled from the water and saved.” ” I’m tellin’ you right now Dennis, God is on his throne!!” “Yes, Aunt Selma, indeed he is!”

“Well you know I’ve said this before and now I must say it again, I really do miss Mildred so much and just can’t believe that she is gone!” “I know Aunt Selma, I still can’t believe it either, it just doesn’t seem right.” ‘I know, oh HOW I know, it’s just not right. She always came to see me, she would make those trips down to West Columbia and always stop by and stay a few nights with me. Can’t believe it!” “I know what you mean Aunt Selma.”

“Some one stole my car about two or three years ago, and they took my hearing aids too, they were in the car.” 

“You know we have a church service here, but it’s not Baptist.”
“Sheila doesn’t go to church, it hurts, but it will be OK.
“Here, have a lemon square and a few cookies, I just love them, and they are free. They put this stuff out all the time for us to snack on. Go ahead, take one of these packages of graham crackers also, all are free.”

I expressed a desire to take her out to lunch sometime: “No reason, we can always eat right here, and it’s all free, it’s all on this account that Sheila handles for me.”
“I’m sorry I have to say it again, but I sure miss Mildred, you could call her and ask a question and she would always have the answer, and gave good advice too, you know that?” “Yes Aunt Selma, she sure did.”

“A lot of folks here have a wreath hanging on their door for Christmas, but I don’t.” Oh Aunt Selma I would love to bring you one next time I come.” ‘No thanks precious, that’s being taken care of; someone is bringing me one from my place in Richmond Rosenberg. You know, I used to have a house with all this stuff in it.”
“I’ll try to tell you this without crying, this will be the first Christmas that Sheila can’t make it here to see me.” “Well Aunt Selma, I’ll come to see you then, and I’ll bring one of my nephews with me.” “Okay then, that would be great, then it will be just like all the other Christmases.” “Yes, it sure will.”

Thank you,  Cousin Dennis, for sharing your memories of Aunt Selma’s funnies – and for the visits that inspired them. I had to laugh out loud when you mentioned the “stolen” car comment. Having to take her car away from her was the beginning of the end of her independence. I guess she always knew that on some level.

I miss our mothers especially on Mother’s Day, and I miss you, too.

Dennis (r.) and his brother Martin

on their way to visit Aunt Selma

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