My International Women’s Day


I wrote this piece on March 08, 2017 and feel it’s worthy of inclusion in my Women’s History Month this year. I hope you agree.

Spring, 2017 will be the year I move on to my 71st birthday. I know, I know…unbelievable…and apparently my Mouth Almighty, Tongue Everlasting in my seventies shows no sign of a slowdown – if anything I seem to have gained speed with my posts following the not-too-distant sixties.

As I looked over the more than 80 posts I’ve made since April, 2016 when I began this year by talking about the need for a personal tune-up, I am amazed at how many opinions I’ve had on such a wide variety of topics. Geez Louise. Somebody stop me. I can’t shut up. Case in point, read on.

Change is in the air at Casa de Canterbury this spring, and Pretty and I are excited about our trip to New Orleans for the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival March 24th. – 26th. I’ve been invited to participate on a panel called Home is Where the Art Is, or is it?  Plus I will do a reading from my short story that will be included in their 2017 anthology. I’m super thrilled.

We’re hoping to go to Dallas the following week for the NCAA Women’s Final Four the first weekend in April which would give us an opportunity to return to Worsham Street for a long overdue visit with The Little Women of Worsham and the Fabulous Huss Brothers. That would be icing on the proverbial cake. (Michael Reames, are you making me a real birthday cake this year? Money is no object. Pretty will contact you.)

Today I was cleaning out my extensive collection of family memorabilia which always reminds me of my need to let these pictures and items go – just let them go. They take up space needed for…what? Office supplies. Packing materials. Unsold books. Carolina Panthers commemorative coins. Five years of tax returns. Old cameras.

This is one of the pictures I found –  I totally lost it when I saw the image of these two significant women in my life before their respective illnesses took them to a different place.

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My two moms, Selma and Willie, and me

This picture was taken in 2007 during a visit with my mothers for both of their birthdays in March of that year. Five years later in the spring of 2012, Willie died on April 14th. and Selma followed her eleven days afterwards on the 25th. Wham, bam…gone. Were they ready to go? Of course. Had they suffered long enough? Surely. But the loss of two women who had such monumental influence in my life was devastating. I felt like my connection to what had been my home was broken and couldn’t be fixed.

In reality and from the perspective of five years down the road from that awful place, the connection to home and family isn’t really lost. Powerful images of the people in my past live on today and remind me of what is most important for the future.

Today is International Women’s Day, a special time to honor the women we cherish, a day of reminder that our world would be very different without the women in our lives; it’s a woman’s day away from the ordinary.We are lucky because they’ll only be gone for one day and will be back with us tomorrow.

Pretty, the adventure continues, and I thank you for the home we share and the knowledge that you’ll be here tomorrow morning when we start another day together.

For the rest of my women friends and followers in cyberspace, celebrate yourselves today. You are enough.

 

 

 

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sheroes on sheroes: Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Shirley Chisholm


Much has been said about the new look of Congress as the halls of our nation’s highest legislative chambers began to swarm with new members who were  sworn in and trying to find their offices during the first week of January, 2019. Like wow look how many women are moving in this year (117 women elected or appointed — 102  in the House and 10 in the Senate), like wow is this some kind of record number for women (it is  – the highest number of women before was 89 in 2016), like wow this makes me so frigging happy (this last one was said by me).

Rep. Ayanna Pressley was the first black woman elected from the State of Massachusetts and had hoped to be assigned to Shirley Chisholm’s (first black woman elected to Congress in 1968) old office. The office assignments were done by a lotto system with Pressley drawing #38 which meant she had little opportunity to choose the office she wanted. However, luck wasn’t totally against her because another incoming freshman Rep Katie Hill (D – Cal) drew lucky #7 and switched with Pressley. Rep. Pressley moved in to Longworth 1130, Chisholm’s old office, while Rep. Hill was just down the hall in 1108.

During her 2018 campaign, then candidate Pressley often wore a $6 lapel button with the letters BYOC stamped on it. BYOC – bring your own chair – a reminder of the faith and commitment of Shirley Chisholm, the daughter of immigrants, in the American political system and the democratic process.

Both Reps. Pressley and Chisholm shared similar fights in their efforts to become elected to the House of Representatives. Chisholm who served in the House from 1969 – 1983  ran on the slogan “Unbought and Unbossed” as she defeated two other black candidates in the primary for the redrawn 12th District of New York in 1968.  Against all odds Ms. Chisholm then defeated James L. Farmer, Jr. in the general election. Farmer, the former director of the Congress for Racial Equality, ran as a Libertarian.

Fifty years later in 2018 Candidate Pressley defeated ten-term incumbent Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary of the Massachusetts 7th. Congressional District, a district where the majority was not white. The 7th. District had been represented in the past by such Democratic legends as former President John F. Kennedy and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. Interestingly, contemporary icons of the black caucus in the House, Rep. John Lewis (D – Ga) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D – Cal), did not support Ayanna Pressley in her challenge to Congressman Capuano. No Republican ran against Ms. Pressley in the general election so her win in the primary assured her victory which sent her to the House to become a member of the history-making group of women elected to Congress in 2018.

“I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the woman’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people and my presence before you symbolizes a new era in American political history.”

This was a  quote taken from Shirley Chisholm’s announcement to enter the 1972 Democratic Presidential Primary as the first black woman to run for president in a major political party. Although she was unsuccessful in her bid, her courage planted a seed of belief that women deserved a place at the proverbial table. That belief continued to grow as more and more women of all shapes, colors,  religious faiths, cultures, sexual orientation, ethnicity, political affiliations – women in all areas of the country ran for local, state and national elections during the next fifty years.

This past weekend I heard Rep. Pressley in an interview with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC. I had heard her being interviewed before, but this one felt different for me. She had been invited to talk about her proposed amendment on a House bill to lower the voting age to 16. I confess I hadn’t really given a thought to lowering the voting age, but I have to say Congresswoman Pressley’s passion and rationale for Age 16 voting were impressive. The amendment had failed but she had convinced 122 other members to sign on – and had also received the support of Speaker Pelosi, which I assume for a freshman must be like having a coach pick you to play for your team during March Madness.

Boston, MA, 12/5/2018 — Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley listens as a fellow City Councilor wishes her farewell at City Hall. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)Topic: 06ayannaReporter:

My ability to predict the future, let alone anyone’s political future, is notably suspect. However, I told Pretty the next morning I had just heard the first woman of color to be elected President of the United States talking with Lawrence O’Donnell. Forgive me, Senator Harris. I’m hoping I’m wrong.

I celebrate Representative Ayanna Pressley in Women’s History Month and have added her to my list of sheroes – a list that already included Shirley Chisholm. The time for change is upon us. We must have old memories and young hopes. And oh yes, by the way, I am now convinced 16 years is the perfect age for voting in these times when young people lead the way with their hopes for a better tomorrow.

Onward.

Stay tuned.

(no copyright infringement intended on images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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wonder women – southern style (part II)


A politician/philanthropist from Faith, North Carolina who settled in Charleston; an attorney who moved to Columbia from Key West, Florida; a midlands YWCA executive director from Detroit, Michigan — three women whose different, yet similar, stories were chronicled in Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home. I celebrate these women today during Women’s History Month because they all  overcame a youthful sense of isolation and fear of discovery to become leaders of the LGBTQ movement in South Carolina. Regardless of their diverse backgrounds that brought them to our state or the different motivations that inspired them, these women stood on the battleground of equality and refused to surrender.

Linda Ketner was the first openly gay candidate for federal office in South Carolina. As the 2008 Democratic nominee for the US Congress, District 1, she won more than 48% of the vote, narrowly losing to a four-term incumbent in a district held by Republicans since 1980.  Linda’s fearless leadership in forming organizations such as the Alliance for Full Acceptance and South Carolina Equality plus her generous financial support of individuals and other organizations within the LGBTQ community have cemented her place in our history.

In Southern Perspectives Linda wrote about her own spiritual journey: “It was at this time [having found a religious community in an all-black church] that it became essential to both my mental health and my soul to ‘take all of me with me everywhere I went’ – to come all the way out to everyone I knew. The decision to do that for me was like jumping off a cliff where you didn’t know if the ground was eight inches below or eight thousand feet. It was an act of faith. What I hadn’t expected was that rather than falling, I soared. My heart soared with a freedom, integrity, and peace I had never known. I was living my life with integrity and congruence. I was living authentically. Secrets kill. Secrets produce a life of shame and a shameful life. And I have never known an LGBTQ person who regretted coming out, no matter what the consequences.”

Linda Ketner at a Pride Parade in 2013

Nekki Shutt was born in Honolulu, Hawaii into a military family that traveled in eight states before she graduated from Key West High School in Florida. She moved to South Carolina in 1986 to finish her undergraduate degree at the University of South Carolina where she also finished law school in 1995. Nekki served on the national board of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and co-chaired the board from 1998 – 2000. She helped to found South Carolina Equality, served as its first board chair and was involved in leadership roles in a number of other community organizations. She was, and continues to be, a warrior woman.

Nekki was one of the lead attorneys in the Condon v. Haley case that resulted in South Carolina’s becoming the thirty-fifth state to recognize marriage equality in November of 2014. She wrote in Southern Perspectives: “That case was the highlight of my legal career, because it brought my passions for both practicing law and civil rights together in one place at one time…This was not an accident, and it is not a result of Will and Grace or Ellen. It is the result of people coming out to their friends and families and neighbors and coworkers because they felt it was a safe environment. The people and organizations of the LGBTQ community have created that environment by their actions during the past thirty years. I am proud of our state and proud to have been a part of this movement. To whom great things are given, great responsibility comes. I had incredible role models in my family as a child and in the larger world as an adult. What I do as an activist is my way to give back and follow in very big footsteps. We have more battles ahead in the war for equal rights, but I predict we will win…”

Nekki Shutt (l.) at 2015 Pride Parade with her law partner Malissa Burnette

Carole Stoneking (1937 – 2016) was born and raised in Michigan with an undergraduate degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. She worked for twenty-seven years for the YWCA and came to Columbia as its executive director. Following her career in the YWCA, Carole took a new path as the owner of the Stress Management Institute of Therapeutic Massage in Columbia for the next twenty-three years before her retirement. Carole was a social justice activist throughout her life; she was president of the Columbia chapter of the National Organization for Women, board member of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Business Guild, a past delegate for South Carolina Equality, a board member for the South Carolina Council on Aging, a board member for Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, and a member of that organization’s national steering committee.

In Southern Perspectives Carole says: “I came out of the closet in 1956. That was thirteen years before StonewallI came out in a tumultuous time when it was taboo…there were no organizations helping gays or lesbians. No agencies were trying to help people from feeling shame. Only the bartenders were there to help people keep from starving or to provide space for people to sleep for the night. There were no colleges or universities offering places for lesbians to study about the effects of shame or suicide. I faced a great deal of hardship and criticism from everyone, including my own mother who told me ‘I would rather have seen you be a prostitute.’ At that moment I felt all the shame of a lifetime…However, I am glad that I did not hold it in; being out and fighting for an equal right is a virtuous thing.”

Carole Stoneking and OLOC banner in Pride Parade in Columbia

I met Carole shortly after she moved to South Carolina and watched her grow older but continue to show up for meetings and parades for the next thirty years. I always admired her for that. She never quit believing that the fight for an equal right was a virtuous thing. In July, 2008 (at age 71) she gave a speech at a regional Older Lesbians Organizing for Change meeting. That speech has much more meaning for me now  – luckily the talking points are preserved in Southern Perspectives. This is talking point #8:

“Is this ageism I am feeling? Is this the time in my life when I need to be focusing on the reason I am here on earth? Or maybe a new reason I am here? B.B. Copper says’Unless old lesbians are remembered as sexual, attractive, useful, integral parts of the women-loving world, then current lesbian identity is a temporary mirage, not a new social statement of female empowerment.'”

Pride – 2015 – our history belongs to you now

Candace Chellew-Hodge, Harriet Hancock, Deborah Hawkins, Linda Ketner, Nekki Shutt, Carole Stoneking — these are a few of my wonder women, southern style who began a fight for themselves and for those who will come after them and sought to honor those who came before them. The fight took place in a conservative, sometimes hostile, environment but these women persevered in their own battlefields to win some of the fights, lose others, but know that the fight was a virtuous thing. We do, indeed, have more battles ahead, but I also predict we will win. Onward.

Happy Women’s History Month!

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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wonder women – southern style (Part I)


Don’t get me wrong. The men whose stories were included in Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home are just as important as these women I celebrate today, but it is Women’s History Month after all. As I wrote in the Prologue of the book: “The narratives in this collection tell the stories of ordinary people who became extraordinary in our struggles for equality in a place and time that made change seemingly impossible.”Ordinary women and men became extraordinary as they organized the LGBTQ grass roots movement in a hostile environment from the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s to marriage equality in 2014….and beyond. The fight continues.

Candace Chellew-Hodge, the current pastor of Jubilee! Circle and one of the co-hosts of the first LGBTQ radio show in South Carolina which began in 2005, Rainbow Radio, had this to say about that experience in Southern Perspectives: “[On Rainbow Radio] for the first time, a long-silenced group of citizens was granted access to the microphone, and their stories of hiding, living in shame, and feeling condemned by their God and their family were at once heartbreaking and revolutionary. They were stories of hardship, trial, tears, laughter, triumph, and joy, even in the mist of oppression and despair.”

Candace Chellew-Hodge co-hosted Rainbow Radio

In the fall of 1980, according to Harriet Hancock’s essay in Southern Perspectives, her son Greg came out to her with the support of Harriet’s sister Diane who was very close to her nephew. With the words Mom, I’m gay, Harriet’s life changed forever. Greg was the middle child of her three children. He was enrolled at the University of South Carolina – along with Harriet who at 44 had decided to go back to college to become an attorney.

“My heart broke for him, but somehow I managed to keep my composure. I sat down, and with a sigh of relief, I said, “Is that all?’…I don’t think we consider the struggle that many gays and lesbians have in overcoming their own internalized homophobia. Unfortunately some never make it.”

Now known in South Carolina as the Mother of Pride for her activism in organizing the first Pride Marches in Columbia in the early 1990s and countless other outrageous acts and everyday rebellions against social injustice during the next 30 years, the Harriet Hancock LGBT Community Center was named to honor her commitment to the queer community and continues to be a beacon of enlightenment for youth and adults in all segments of the population.

Harriet and her son Greg at an early Pride March on State House steps

“My phone rang at midnight…[An older gay man] told me I was a troublemaker for organizing the march and how it would make more trouble for gay people…The last thing he said to me was ‘There will be blood running down Main Street tomorrow, and it will be on your hands.'” – Harriet Hancock in Southern Perspectives

Thankfully, the caller was wrong, and those empowered standard bearers became the catalysts for change in South Carolina and kept marching every year –  all the way to the nation’s capitol a few years later.

“In 1993 I went to Washington, DC, for the national march….I stayed outside the city and took the subway to the Mall. I heard people getting excited on the train on the way to the mall, and it sounded like a symphony orchestra to me. By the time I walked up the stairs from the train and stepped out in the sunlight, it was as if the drums and tympani were exploding.” – Deborah Hawkins in Southern Perspectives

Deborah Hawkins, owner of lesbian bar Traxx

By the time Deborah marched in DC in 1993, she had owned and operated a lesbian bar near the railroad tracks in Columbia since March, 1984. “I was thinking we needed a place where women could gather. We needed a country club, a place where we could get together for more reasons than just beer and such. I felt like it was my home, and I wanted people to come in and be happy. I was the hostess. I wanted the women to have somewhere to go, because a lot of them were lacking someone in their life to let them know they were loved. I could see…they were different and felt the difference, and I wanted them to know that I cared about them and loved them. That was my goal for opening Traxx.” — Southern Perspectives

Candace once thought of South Carolina as a place you went through when you were driving someplace else. Nevertheless, she moved from Atlanta to Sumter in 2003 in search of a new family life that led her to become a reluctant apostle to the LGBTQ people of faith in the midlands for the next 15 years. Harriet was born in 1936 and raised in Columbia in a house built on land deeded to her family in 1784. A disastrous 25-year marriage to a troubled man led her away from the state but her determination to make a better life for herself and her children brought her home in 1978 to her larger family in Columbia that loved and supported her. Deborah’s family lived in the same house in West Columbia from the time she was born until the day she left for college. As a young adult in the 1970s, she hitchhiked around Europe for six weeks with three friends, all planning to never come back home. Riding around in a van through the Transylvania forest at a hundred miles an hour on the Autobahn,  the group of four travelers realized they’d gotten in the wrong vehicle. It was time to go home.

These women were ordinary women who became extraordinary  – their stories are remarkable.  They heard voices crying for help in a wilderness of needs in a state smothered by conservative rural  leadership. Here are we, they answered. We won’t leave you, but we will work for change.

Stay tuned for the conclusion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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on International Women’s Day, I salute Pretty


“I knew I was a lesbian, and I also knew I wouldn’t disguise who I was,

because to do so would send the message to my son Drew

there was something wrong with it.

If I didn’t name it, if I didn’t share it,

if I didn’t acknowledge it, if I didn’t own it,

if I wasn’t proud of it,

he was going to believe there was something wrong with it.

That became my mantra.

If I never in my life denied I was a lesbian,

if I treated it as just a part of my life,

then he would be okay with it.”

Teresa Williams a/k/a Pretty   (1980s)

Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home

Today on International Women’s Day, I celebrate one of the women I most admire for her courage in her journey toward living an authentic life not only for herself but also for her son in the days before Will and Grace and Ellen. With obstacles on every side, without the support of the family who had always been there for her, this warrior mother stood up, came out and never looked back.

What would I do without Pretty…her warrior spirit lives on every day.  I’m glad she’s on my side, too.

Drew, Pretty and me 

Stay tuned.

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the 21 club


Although South Carolina has been my home state for nearly 50 years, I was born and grew up in Texas. During one of my countless classic goodbye scenes with my parents in my early twenties, daddy quoted one of his favorite sayings, “you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.” No truer words were ever spoken. My reasons for leaving the state were complicated but boiled down to my attempt to figure out how to live an authentic life as a lesbian away from a family I assumed would not be supportive. I yearned for freedom – from what? As the song “Desperado” reminds me: freedom, oh freedom…that’s just some people talking.

From 2010 – 2014 I had a second chance to live in Texas by buying another home there in order to care for my mother who was then a freedom seeker herself in a losing battle with dementia that destroyed the woman she had been. While these second chance Texas years were deeply painful, they also gave me an opportunity to experience a new relationship with my mother as well as to renew family bonds with many cousins I had rarely seen for several decades.

Two of the cousins I spent time with were Eloise Robinson Powell and Frances Kelly Lee. Frances drove me to visit with Eloise in her home on O Avenue in Huntsville several times while I was there – as I had visited there when I was a child. Eloise was a double cousin – her mother married my grandmother’s brother, her father married my grandfather’s sister. Repeat three times.  Regardless of how you explain it, Eloise was a double first cousin of my father, and they were very close friends.

This past week I learned that Eloise had left her home on O Avenue to move permanently into an assisted living facility in Huntsville. I felt despondent at the thought of that move, but I needn’t have. Eloise called me today, and we talked for almost an hour with lots of laughter and wonderful reminiscing about our double family ancestors. I can’t imagine how she felt about leaving her home of a lifetime, but I know for sure she took her memories with her. She is looking forward to an annual gathering of three friends on March 20th. in her new home where there will be cake, she told me, but no mention of her birthday on the 21st. She prefers to keep her birthdays to herself. I won’t tell either.

I will tell Eloise is the second member of what we now call the 21 Club. Frances has a birthday on February 21st, Eloise is the 21st of March, I have April 21 and Pretty has May 21. None of us have any excuse for forgetting the other’s birthday, although I have to say Eloise is usually the only member to send a card. If I hadn’t had my second chance in Texas, I’m not sure the 21 Club would have been chartered.

Earlier this week I received a surprise UPS package from my cousin Frances who is a regular cousin for me. Frances’s mother and my paternal grandmother were Robinson family sisters and oh my, what sisters they were. Whenever those two were together, the rest of the family wasn’t spared from their fun poking and gossip sessions. My grandmother and her sister Thelma got together as often as they could, and my grandmother invited me many times to drive the short distance to Conroe from Richards with her. I never said no to a trip with her.

The UPS package Frances sent contained three family treasures from the house on O Avenue that Eloise asked Frances to ship to me. I was thrilled and wanted to share them with my cyberspace family.

William James and Margaret Antonio Moore Morris family – circa 1903

My great-grandma Morris is the unsmiling woman seated in the first row. She was born on July 14, 1864 and married my great-grandfather William on December 15, 1880. They had 11 children in 23 years. Nine of their children are in this picture. The eldest, John Thomas, had been told to leave home when he turned 18 so he was gone. The youngest, Bernice Louise, would not be born until 1906. The little boy to the right of Grandma Morris was my grandfather George Patton who was born in 1898. Eloise’s mother Hattie Jane was the woman standing to the left on the top row. Aunt Hattie was born in 1889.

Margaret Antonio Moore Morris and William James Morris in younger days

Margaret died on June 06, 1963 when she was 98 years old. Since I was 17 years old when she died, I had seen her several times throughout her life in Huntsville. I never met my great-grandfather because he died in 1927.  My most distinct memories of her were her tiny frame clothed in a black or navy dress, her frail appearance as she pushed a small chair in front of her that enabled her to walk through the house, long hair piled in a bun on top of her head, sweetest smile as she spoke, now let’s see, you must be Glenn’s daughter?

The 21 Club and my great-grandmother Morris are part of my women’s history month. I celebrate these women for their strength, their courage in the face of adversity, our shared DNA, their ongoing sense of humor with stories that always make me laugh.

When I talked to my cousin Eloise on the phone today, she told me a story about something that happened when she was in the third grade of her rural Crabbs Prairie elementary school in Walker County. The teacher asked the children in the class to give the definition of various words – one of them was the word “income.” One little girl raised her hand, stood up and said, “I opened the door and in come the dog.” The little girl forever was known as Income.

my cousins Eloise (l.) and Frances in 2014

(used without permission from anybody)

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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beam me up, scottie – it’s Women’s History Month!


Last night I took a trip in time travel with Stephanie Rule who narrated a documentary called On the Basis of Sex which looked at the people, places and events that shaped the American woman’s odyssey to become an equal citizen in her own country. The documentary beamed me up, Scottie and I looked down and back to see images no longer fresh but just as real as my participation in the women’s movement during the late 1960s through the failure of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982.

March is Women’s History Month, and we rightly honor the sacrifices of those women who refused to remain second class citizens and stood together to work for the common good so that all women might have freedoms to choose what happens with their own bodies, to choose who they love and marry, to choose where they work, to choose where they govern. I am Woman, hear me write.

Women today also look back to remind ourselves of our courage and strength in the midst of adversity. Luanne Castle’s award-winning book Kin Types is an example of a contemporary writer who is not afraid of looking back.

“Kin Types exhumes the women who have died long ago to give life to them, if only for a few moments. Through genealogical and historical research, Luanne Castle has re-discovered the women who came before her. Using an imaginative lens, she allows them to tell their stories through lyric poems, prose poems, and flash nonfiction.” (https://www.writersite.org)

Storytellers and storytelling – that’s what made On the Basis of Sex compelling for me last night and then another woman merrildsmith had this quote in her Monday Morning Musings titled “Art through Time and Space”: (https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com)

“I think the life of my community and most communities depends on the storytellers. We only know anything about the Roman Empire or about the lives of the people within the Greek polis from the plays that exist. We can find out from historical archives what laws were in place, but who they affected and how they affected those folks and those people – we only know from the stories and from the storytellers of that culture.”

–Tarell Alvin McCraney, playwright, from an interview on All Things Considered, March 2, 2019

I celebrate the storytellers today including Stephanie Rule who beamed me up with memories of game changing days gone by. Check her out on MSNBC.

Stay tuned here for a post on the first woman elected to Congress, Jeanette Rankin, coming soon. I leave you with a profound thought I read  from yet another woman writer, Canadian Susan Nairn, on her blog “Polysyllabic Profundities” this morning:

“But time has a way of taking moments and turning them into memories in the blink of an eye.”

(https://polysyllabicprofundities.com)

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red rants and raves over lady gaga and the president’s fixer


Oh my, oh my. Sometimes I long for the wit and wisdom of The Red Man who, sadly, left Pretty and me three years ago this month at the ripe old age of 14. Red, our rescued Welsh terrier who became my alter ego for eight years through his blog Red’s Rants and Raves had an opinion on anything and everything.

Pick a topic – any topic. Red readily shared his thoughts without filters or fancy speech. For example, one of his favorite phrases was Sweet Lady Gaga. Paw snaps and twirls, he would add for emphasis so imagine the field day he could have had with the 2019 Academy Awards Sunday night when the real Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sang their cozy, sexy rendition of “Shallow” which won the award for Best Song. Sweet Lady Gaga, indeed. Paw snaps and twirls forever.

Another frequently quoted phrase by The Red Man was shit house mouse. Yes, shit house mouse loses something when I write it, but when Red uttered those words the occasion called for desperate exhortations, even demanded them. I feel certain the seven hours of testimony by Michael Cohen for the US House Oversight Committee today would be the perfect event for a vigorous shit house mouse.

From the opening gavel, introductory remarks, closing remarks, banging of the ending gavel and all of the questions and answers in between, the nation had the opportunity to watch a spectacle of alleged criminal conspiracies reaching to the office of the president of the United States intermingled with a multitude of lesser sins committed by the flawed fixer who earned that name over a period of ten years serving as the president’s loyalist. High drama today on Capitol Hill. Shit house mouse.

Stay tuned.

The Red Man

 

 

 

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the battle my grandmother lost


my early years in my hometown of rural Richards, Texas

(circa 1949)

 

my dad and me at a family picnic in matching shirts

made by my grandmother (circa 1951)

 

a birthday party dress made by my grandmother (circa 1951)

my grandmother made this dress and a  picture postcard of me

for her family Easter card in 1949

Bless her heart. My grandmother tried and tried to reshape my fashions which upon reflection she probably hoped would reshape my life. One of the most dreaded phrases my mother ever spoke to me – the one that made me cringe-was “Your grandmother is making you a new dress and needs you to walk down to her house to try it on. No arguments, no whining, just go.”

I absolutely hated to stand on her little stool while she endlessly pinned away to make sure  the pattern she bought from a grand clothing store in much bigger town Navasota  fit perfectly on my small body. She pulled, tugged here and there, made me turn around as she measured whatever cloth she had purchased when she bought the pattern. I prayed silently that the aroma I smelled was her pineapple fried pies…the only possible redemption from the hell of being poked and prodded for a new dress I didn’t want to wear.

My grandmother Betha Day Robinson Morris and I lived within shouting distance of each other in the tiny town (pop. about 500) of Richards until my dad found a new job that took us out of the place I called home when I was 13 years old. Our new home in Brazoria was less than two hours from Richards so we came back every other week for most of my teenage years. Distance did not deter my grandmother from her sewing, however.

She usually managed to have something for me to try on whenever we visited. I finally surrendered to her passion for sewing because as I grew older I came to understand sewing was an important part of her life, but to this day I dread hearing Pretty say she brought something home for me to try on.

my grandmother surveys her granddaughters

before Easter Sunday church services in 1963

I was 17 years old and wearing a dress my grandmother made for me

while my younger cousin Melissa modeled her store-bought outfit

My grandmother continued to sew for me until I was in my twenties. Every Christmas she wrapped a large box in her best wrapping paper and favorite bow saved from the previous Christmas to give to me. I always opened with feigned surprise at the dress she made for me to wear to church and praised her for being able to still find the perfect pattern and material for me even when I wasn’t there to try it on.

I’ll never forget the last time I opened a gift of clothing she made for me. She had made a pants suit – unbelievable. I could see she was pleased with herself for breaking from the dress tradition she wanted me to wear to making the pants she now understood would forever be my choice of clothes. The year was 1968 – I was 22 years old – my grandmother would have been 55. The pants suit represented a rite of passage for both of us.

Unfortunately, I never could bring myself to wear the pants suit which was made with a hideous polyester fabric and a horrible bright green and white large zig zag pattern. I couldn’t bring myself to wear it, but I carried it with me around the country wherever I moved for the next 30 years. I would carefully hang it in my closet as a daily reminder of  the love my grandmother gave me for as long as she lived.

My grandmother Betha was a flawed individual but what I wouldn’t give today to hear my mother say “Sheila Rae, your grandmother is making you a new dress and wants you to try it on. No arguments, no whining, just go.”

Stay tuned.

(A special shout out to my blogging friend Luanne at http://writersite.org for inspiring me to write about clothes.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 20 Comments

hi-yo silver AWAY!


And I’m not just talking horses here. The 2020 presidential election is off and running with a posse of candidates already declared for the Democratic primaries – a group marked by the conspicuous absence of silver hair. No more “old, male and pale” for the Dems.  I wish I had thought up that phrase. I really do. This seismic shift in the composition of the candidates makes me the happiest girl in the whole USA. Skippity doo dah yeah. Shine on me sunshine, right?

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – Hawaii) who is 37 years old with two deployments in the Middle East from her Army National Guard experience, announced her candidacy on January 11th. The next day Julian Castro, the 44- year- old former mayor of San Antonio and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, announced his bid for the presidency in San Antonio to a cheering crowd of people that included his Mexican grandmother who inspired his passion for public service. Usted es el candidato – hooray!

On January 21st, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Senator Kamala Harris (D – Cal) who is 54 years old was the first African American to enter the race. She made her announcement to formally run via ABC’s Good Morning America. Another African-American Senator, Cory Booker (D – NJ), announced his intention to run on February 01, the first day of Black History Month. Sen. Booker is 49 years old.

Two more female senators entered the presidential primaries in the past week. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – Mass) declared on February 08th. and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D -Minn) on February 10th. who stood outside in a blizzard to speak to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters that listened to her while they must surely have wondered if they could vote right that minute and inside, please. Senator Klobuchar is 58 years old. Senator Warren is 69.

Yesterday I heard an interview on NPR with Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana who announced an exploratory committee for the presidency on January 23rd.; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D – NY) who is 52 years old announced a similar exploratory committee on January 15th.

Oh my goodness. There was an old white woman who lived in a shoe – she had so many Democratic Presidential candidates she didn’t know what to do. Okay. She really lived in South Carolina which means this old white woman has to get woke and ready to vote on February 29th. in 2020 for the first presidential primary in the South, the one a mere three days before what is commonly known as Super Tuesday, and the first primary which has a predominantly African-American Democratic electorate.

Rarely does the lesser known Carolina state enjoy more attention than in the time leading up to our primary…Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Pete Buttigieg have all been seen in the Palmetto State in recent weeks and it’s still early, y’all.

These folks aren’t the only ones running, either, but these are my favorites so far. The diversity of my favorites puts a smile on my face even as I write these words.  Old, male and pale…adios.

Hi-yo silver, AWAY. Don’t let the White House door hit you on the way out.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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