Oops! No bed for our afternoon nap.
Sleeping on the floor?
So this is what MOVING is about.
So far, I’m unimpressed.
Oops! No bed for our afternoon nap.
Sleeping on the floor?
So this is what MOVING is about.
So far, I’m unimpressed.
My friend Linda texted me to please not send a thank you note to her for her gifts this year because we are family – no notes necessary. I had to laugh when I read the text because of my relationship to my mother Granny Selma and her obsession with thank you notes.
When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s my mother was very big on manners, etiquette, making sure we did the “right” thing in every social situation. She felt being from a small town did not justify inappropriate behavior – ever. We might not have money, but she insisted we have manners.
She was a stickler for a thank you note for EVERYTHING. Not just gifts, parties, meals, gatherings, visits…no sirree. If you sent us a Christmas card, my mother wrote you a Thank You note. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but maybe not.
Those notes included family, too. If I gave my folks a gift, for Christmas, I got a thank you note. If they gave me a gift, she expected a thank you note. And not one the next month. She wanted that note in her hands within a week.
So imagine my surprise in the last few years of her life when she still had her right mind that she began saying, Now let’s don’t write each other thank you notes this year. What? Did I hear that correctly? NO THANK YOU NOTES for the YEAR! Sacrilege. I should have suspected she was on the verge of something horrible right that minute.
This year I have had a Birthday/Anniversary week with multiple gifts, dinners, lunches, and cards from a host of friends who have celebrated with me and Pretty during the past several days and I have fought the urge to write each of you individual notes a la Granny Selma.
Instead, I took pictures of many of the cards I received and am writing a very personal Thank You via cyberspace. I very much appreciate each of you – and you know who you are. We’re family.
Today is April 24th., and it is the 1st. year anniversary of our legal marriage. This anniversary seems like a Michael Reames icing on a cake or a Dick Hubbard pineapple fried pie which he has now managed to make exactly like my memories of the ones my grandmother made when I was a child being rewarded for what she believed to be good behavior.
Somewhere in that youthful childhood I must have done something good because Pretty has been the main course for me for the past sixteen years – a main course that’s been full of fun, love and extra spice. Laughter has been the secret ingredient that’s sprinkled liberally over every dish we serve in our home, and it’s my personal recipe for whatever ails all of us.
True confessions are good for the soul, though, so I have to admit that once in a rare while I have to remind Pretty I was just trying to be funny to which she has occasionally said during the past sixteen years, “there’s no demand for being funny.” I’m sure she’s just kidding.
The past year of legal married life has been almost indistinguishable to me from the first fifteen years with a couple of exceptions. “Married – filing jointly” for our 2016 income tax returns, for example, was a noticeable difference that was relatively easy and uneventful for us but produced additional work for our tax preparer. I had several emotions going on during the preparation process, but I know for sure pride was one of them. We were no longer “single” taxpayers filing two separate returns. Our family was legal, legit; and we had the tax returns to prove it.
There is a word that Pretty and I have struggled with during the past year, however. Both of us struggle, and we know it because we’ve talked about it. The word is “wife.”
For some reason that word does not roll easily off my tongue, and I don’t know for sure what the problem is. This is my wife Pretty. How hard can that be? This is my wife Slo. Again, not easy. We’ve said this is my “partner” for so long that it’s become a habitual word for us. “Wife” is not our norm.
But this past week Pretty and I were at our new house reviewing the situation when we discovered two pieces of mail in our mailbox that belonged to our neighbor who happened to be outside in his back yard. Like a good neighbor, Pretty walked over to give him the mail.
“I’m Bob,” he said when she handed the mail to him. “And that’s my wife Cynthia inside the house.”
“I’m Teresa,” Pretty said. “And that’s my wife Sheila over there in the car.”
Score one for Pretty, and welcome to the neighborhood. The legally married lesbians are moving in – which isn’t nearly as good for property values as having the gays move in – but it’ll have to do for now.
Happy Anniversary, Pretty. You’re simply the best.
When I was One and Twenty
(With apologies to A.E. Housman)
When I was one and twenty,
My world was make-believe.
A play directed by others
I felt compelled to please.
But now I’m one and seventy,
The play is on the shelf.
No lines to learn, no marks to hit,
The director is myself.
Today is Easter Sunday, and I tried very hard to come up with an Easter recollection to complement my deep reservoir of Thanksgiving memories which flow from me like rivers to oceans or even my Christmas memories which aren’t quite up to Thanksgiving levels but still trickle in through little streams of consciousness. The best I had was clothes…and music.
I can visualize frilly pink Easter dresses, white lacy Easter bonnets, snug-fitting white Easter gloves, shiny white Easter shoes and a matching white Bible to carry to church. I had won the white Bible the summer before during Vacation Bible School as a reward for memorizing the most scripture verses in my class. My name was engraved in gold letters which stood out nicely against the white leather Bible.
The dress was home-made by my paternal grandmother Ma who tortured me with fittings several times before the actual final inspection was made and the dress approved to her satisfaction. She and my mother coordinated the remainder of the ensemble with a great deal of whispering behind my back because they wanted to avoid the exasperated facial expressions I made whenever they brought up the subject of the Easter “outfit.” Horrors – please don’t talk about that.
The Easter outfit was like a Halloween costume to me. I might as well have been dressed in a white cowboy hat wearing a black Lone Ranger mask sitting astride my stick-horse yelling Hi, ho, Silver, Away periodically during the congregational singing at our Southern Baptist church. Instead, I was sitting demurely between my grandmother and granddaddy singing Up from the Grave He Arose. As a matter of fact, I definitely would have preferred The Lone Ranger look over the Easter outfit.
But I had to wear the clothes to hear the music, and I loved the music even then. The old rugged cross was exchanged for a crown, because he lived I could live forever, just as I was without one plea I came because his blood was shed for me, I lifted up my heart to sing hosanna, hosanna to the king because of the amazing grace that found me when I was blind and could not see. The hymns had 18th. century harmony which I knew nothing about at the time I learned to sing them, but that lack of composition understanding didn’t interfere with my love of the experience.
Even the sermon on Easter Sunday morning was hopeful – once you got over the nasty business of the crucifixion – the minister was so happy about the resurrection. Really, he seemed to me to be more joyful at Easter than he was at Christmas when the tidings of great joy were proclaimed by the angels.
My first Easter Sunday was the day I was born on April 21, 1946, which makes this one my 71st. Unbelievable. Where does time really go. I miss my family and the singing at the little church today. I don’t miss the Easter outfit.
Although it isn’t my birthday, I am going to make an Easter wish. My wish for all of us today in the midst of a world that is fraught with monumental uncertainties is that we become ministers of happiness founded on our own good health, good relationships, erasing inequalities where we can, creating trust in our communities and standing against injustice whenever we witness it. One by one, as the saying goes.
Resurrect hope today.
I have a soft spot in my psyche for the underdog – the one who is unlikely to win an argument, sporting event, contest, campaign, cause – anything that requires taking a side. I perennially support the one with the least likely possibility of winning. I may not even be conscious of the choice I’ve made until the closing bell rings with the underdog surprisingly winning or losing as expected. It’s in my DNA.
It’s also in my DNA to never kick a person when she’s down. Why is that necessary? Whoever it is has already been walloped enough by someone else or circumstances beyond their control or tackled already by a defensive back, so why “pile on”? That’s like a mantra with me. Avoid piling on someone who has already admitted defeat.
Today, however, my DNA has run right up against my political reality TV show, and the collision isn’t pretty.
I’m talking about the Press Secretary’s remarks yesterday at his daily press conference concerning the recent events in Syria. For some strange reason, Sean Spicer tried to compare the tyranny of President Assad to that of Adolph Hitler in WWII and remarked that even Hitler had never used gas to kill his own citizens.
One of the astounded reporters said, “He killed the Jews.”
And so we have the piling on of Sean Spicer who immediately apologized for his remarks following the press conference yesterday and was interviewed this morning on MSNBC and reiterated his mea culpa for the gaffe.
I really don’t believe Sean is the total issue here, but I would start by firing him if I could. He is the daily voice of the administration and, as such, has the ear of media in this country and around the world. This is one blunder I call a bridge too far because it displays either a blatant ignorance of history or a distorted perception of history or a complete lack of respect for the magnitude of the deaths and destruction under the Nazi regime.
This is not to say that the atrocities of the Assad government in Syria have not been horrific. Comparing horrors of inhumanity, however, runs the risk of ignoring that the numbers enumerated represent the loss of real lives. Whether those numbers are hundreds or thousands or millions that are snuffed out by evil leaders who use gas or other equally savage means, the most important number is one. One child. One family. One multiplied to the nth. power.
In a world where our nation sends battleships to seas near North Korea and missiles to Syria while the White House Easter Egg Hunt is in disarray because the West Wing can’t organize it since they can’t organize themselves, it would be helpful to have a Press Secretary who spoke in complete knowledgeable sentences to deflect attention from his boss who communicates regularly through enigmatic tweets.
My bad is not quite good enough this time, Sean. We need a better spokesperson. My DNA feels remorse for piling on you, but, to quote one of your boss’s favorite sayings, you’re fired.
Sunday afternoon, the 9th. of April, 2017 was an absolutely gorgeous spring day in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the mid 70s and cloudless blue skies. It was a great day to be outdoors which is where thousands of people gathered on Main Street to celebrate the good times of bringing the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship trophy home to the University of South Carolina with a ticker-tape parade minus the ticker-tape.
Yahoo – we party!! Pretty and I were there as were our Gay Boys Basketball Buddies and #1 Fan Gamecock Matt. Without realizing where we were sitting, Pretty plopped our small folding chairs right next to a local TV news team which was covering the parade so not only did we have great seats, we also were interviewed by a TV newsman and once again made local news. (That interview can be viewed on social media if anyone is curious.)
We watched every car carrying VIPs, every motorcycle, a live rooster (Sir Spur, the Gamecock) riding in a small driver-less motorized vehicle, a deputy sheriff on a real big horse, A’ja Wilson’s DJ brother playing festive music, dancing troupes, Cocky the Gamecock mascot and tons of floats – green ones, red ones, silver ones, gold ones – truly any color imaginable in the midst of a caravan of colors as they passed by us on Main Street which was their route to the State Capitol grounds for the closing ceremonies.
I love a parade – Pretty will vouch for me. I just love a parade. But I particularly love a parade that celebrates women and their achievements. I took 129 pictures at the parade and worked on them last night while Pretty was talking on her cell phone with the Apple Help person for two hours trying to figure out how to make her Mac happy again. Poor Pretty.
As I cropped and re-cropped the images, I was struck by the power these basketball heroes gave to the little girls, teenage girls, grown-up women and yes, even us eat-up-with-elderly older women as we celebrated their victories in one grand final gesture of appreciation.
If I could, I would put all of these images in my post today, but alas, I know that’s asking for a lot of attention which won’t happen. So, as a compromise, I’m choosing my favorites.
The G.I.R.L. Power float
Bring the babies, too – even when they nod off
It’s a Family Affair
(photo courtesy of Pretty)
Dancing in the streets
Women on motorcycles –
rev ’em up, Sisters!
I spy Cocky!!
Gamecock Legend Sheila Foster is jubilant…
other basketball alumni enjoy the ride with her
Our Heroes: The Stars of the Show
Kaela Davis, A’ja Wilson and Allisha Gray
These girls and the team made basketball history
Coach Dawn Staley high above the crowds
where a true basketball Queen belongs
along with the Team that made her the Queen
I’m afraid I was too short to see the action on the Capitol steps as the parade came to an end, but that was okay. I found my sights away from the stage.
This little girl had a bird’s eye view
This one did, too
a Pretty face in the crowd
taking a break to tie her shoes
an older woman rode her bike to celebrate
Gamecock colors – complete with pom poms
These girls are champions, too
Which one of these girls will be our next Congresswoman, Olympic medalist, astronaut, teacher, preacher, policewoman, Forbes 500 CEO, President of the United States? The mind races with the possibilities for their futures…and for ours…because we’ve experienced the magic of G.I.R.L. power today.
Whew! We are exhausted – time for us to ease on down the road to Casa de Canterbury where we should be p-a-c-k-i-n-g instead of partying. Oh, well. You only go around once.
Pretty and our parade chairs heading home
it’s a wrap for this unforgettable season
“Hey, Dorothy? What’s up?”
“I’m off to see the Man in the White House because I’m lost and can’t find my Auntie Michele,” said Dorothy. “Do I know you?”
“Yeah, you know me. I’m Silas Crow. I sit on the back row of your English class and make strange noises.”
“Oh, of course. The notorious Silas Crow. You don’t have a brain in your head,” said Dorothy.
“I know, I know. That’s what I’ve been told. Do you think the Man in the White House could give me a brain?” asked Silas Crow.
“Tra-la, tra-la. You are welcome to come with me and find out. The Man in the White House is supposed to be very wise.”
Dorothy and Silas Crow began to walk together. They walked and walked.
“Hey, Dudes, take a hike. Get outta my space. Where you going?”
“We’re off to see the Man in the White House,” replied Silas Crow. “Dorothy told me the Man was very wise and could give me a brain.”
“Oh, she did, did she? Well, this is where you little numskulls took a wrong turn,” growled Tim Mann who took a menacing step toward Dorothy and Silas Crow.
Dorothy looked straight at Tim Mann and said, “Looks like someone has no heart. Shame on you for being so mean. Silas Crow may not be very bright, but at least he’s not a bully like you. If you go with us, maybe the Man in the White House could give you a heart.”
Silas Crow nodded vigorously. “You need an attitude adjustment, Dude.”
Tim Mann rolled his eyes but then studied the two standing before him. Finally, he shook his head and thought, maybe I need new friends.
“Let’s roll before I change my mind,” he snapped.
“Tra-la, tra-la,” said Dorothy. “We are off to see the Man in the White House who is supposed to have a very big heart.”
By and by the trio came upon a very large grey dog with huge floppy ears. He was sitting in the middle of their path, staring at them out of one blue eye and one brown one. He looked quite ferocious. Dorothy, Silas Crow and Tim Mann stopped in their tracks.
Dorothy was the first to regain her composure and whistled for the dog to come to her. The dog bolted in the opposite direction.
“Fraidy Dog, Fraidy Dog,” mocked Tim Mann who had no heart.
Silas Crow joined in the chant because he had no brain.
Dorothy gave them an icy stare and called after the frightened animal, “Please come back and go with us. We are going to see the Man in the White House – maybe he could give you courage.”
As the group turned to resume their journey, the cowardly dog followed a few paces behind.
“Tra-la, tra-la,” sang Dorothy happily. “We are off to see the brave, kind, wise Man in the White House who will give Fraidy Dog courage, Tim Mann a new heart, Silas Crow a new brain and me a map to find my way home to Auntie Michele.”
The little foursome traveled far and wide, thither and yon, until finally one day they reached the White House. Much to everyone’s surprise, the White House was surrounded by a very high fence and armed guards at the gate. Silas Crow, Tim Mann, and Fraidy Dog looked at Dorothy.
Not to be outdone, Dorothy boldly approached one of the guards and asked, “Excuse me, kind sir, but we have come a long way to speak with the Man in the White House. Do you know where he is?”
The guard shrugged and said, “You might try MahRahLahgo.”
Dorothy woke up.
Sixty-four women’s basketball teams were invited to the NCAA Division I post-season tournament in 2017 in the annual ritual that is known as March Madness in the USA. But after two thrilling games in 16 different host cities around the country the Sweet Sixteen winners of those first two games were scattered to the winds like a bag of M&Ms with peanuts spilled on the floorboard of a moving vehicle into the 4 Regional host cities of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Stockton, California; and Lexington, Kentucky.
The hoop dreams of the young women on those Sweet Sixteen teams, their coaches and their fans were riding high as they battled it out in the regionals – but when the dust settled and those two elimination games were finished the Final Four teams were decided. The University of Connecticut a/k/a UConn, Stanford University, Mississippi State University and the University of South Carolina were the regional winners that would emerge from the Elite 8 to move on to Dallas, Texas for the Final Four. The race was on as fans began to scramble for tickets to the semi-finals and finals in Dallas.
Pretty and I were in New Orleans at a literary conference when South Carolina’s women played their regional games in Stockton, California so we were confined to watching the Quinnipiac and Florida State victories on TVs in sports bars in between the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival events and the Chris Rock concert. As soon as the Florida State game was over, though, Pretty joined the scramble for the Dallas tickets through the Gamecock Club…and the rest, as they say, is history.
The National Anthem view
from the Gamecock section on Sunday night
(we were there when the doors opened at 3:30 Dallas time)
The hysterically happy fans!
The hysterically happy team!
All-Tournament Team Member Allisha Gray
Gray, Gray, Gray – you are Pretty’s favorite
(and have been her favorite since the season began)
All-Tournament Team Member A’ja Wilson
Tournament MVP, All-American in 2017
All That to the Gamecock team and their fans since she rolled out as a freshman three years ago and helped us get to the Final Four in Tampa her first year. This girl lays it all on the line every game every season and is, in my humble opinion, Number One. She ignites and inspires her teammates to play their very best by her example, and that, my friends, is the mark of a true champion.
Champions beget champions, and no one is more responsible for the victories in Dallas than Head Coach Dawn Staley.
Cut ’em down, Coach
and may it be your first of many
Alas, the team and most of the fans had left the building, but Pretty and I found one solitary remaining security man to take a final picture in the American Airlines Arena.
And then we were done.
Yep – the last car standing
By the end of the game and festivities, I was worn out and ready to retire to the La Quinta king-sized bed to reflect on the events of not just the day but the past two weeks of our ride from Columbia to New Orleans and on into Texas. What a country…what an experience…what a way to end my 70th. year.
But Pretty was having none of it. So off we went to our old stomping grounds the Nodding Donkey where we met Super Gamecock Fan Matt Tischler who we’d seen Friday night at the Stanford game. He flew to Phoenix for the men’s Final Four game on Saturday and then flew back to Dallas Sunday for the women’s game. Whew! I was exhausted just thinking about how tired he must be, but he wasn’t too tired to meet us for a beer to celebrate. The Nodding Donkey patrons cheered us when we walked in.
I wondered how I knew all these people – and then realized it was the Gamecock gear they were cheering. Fabulous.
Matt was holding me up by the end of the night
When Pretty drove me back to the motel, we saw the Dallas skyline one more time, and this is what we saw…
And thanks to Pretty for taking most of the pictures in the blog today, driving us all over the country for the past two weeks, lugging the suitcases in and out of motels, walking two very bad dogs who loved to annoy her by getting out of their leashes in the most dangerous locations – and still having the energy to sing country music songs with me when we were lucky enough to find the classics on the radio in the car. Pretty is Number One in my book.
We’ll be back in Columbia today. Stay tuned as we are no longer able to procrastinate packing.
Cocky was in the house today
at the Nodding Donkey sports bar
Gamecock fans who are in Dallas for the women’s Final Four gathered late this afternoon at a local tavern called the Nodding Donkey to watch their men play in the semi-finals of the Final Four against Gonzaga University in Phoenix. It was quite the boisterous atmosphere and the Gamecocks kept it very close in the second half but alas, no cigar.
Gamecock cheerleaders were at the table next to us
and the nodding donkey kept watch over us all
another nodding donkey watched over
the Gamecock fans from above
The Gamecock Club was responsible for the party at the ND, and it had its moments of fun and frivolity, but in the end the Gonzaga bull dogs were more powerful than the donkey’s good wishes and delivered our guys’ exodus from the 2017 NCAA tournament with the score 77 – 73.
Congratulations to Gonzaga for a great game, and thanks again to the Gamecocks and Coach Frank Martin for a fantastic year! If you Google the definition for tenacity with heart, you will see a picture of Coach Martin and the men’s team in 2017. You gotta love those guys.
And now on we go to the Final game of the Final Four for the women tomorrow afternoon at 5 o’clock Dallas time (thanks to all of you who are trying to make sure we’re there for the start) – I am frantically searching for my xanax tonight. Honestly, how is it possible I packed every pill in my medicine chest except that? I blame Pretty.