Carport Kitty is our Guard Cat


For her many fans who ask, Carport Kitty has survived the summer heat in South Carolina to mark her one year stay with us on our carport. She continues to stand with the people of Ukraine every day of her life – as do Pretty, three barking dogs and me.

She is now our official Guard Cat – Beware: she does not suffer fools gladly.

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

I dreamed that the Great Judgment Morning had dawned, but was it just a dream?


My daddy led the music in the tiny Richards Baptist Church where I was saved from my sins at the ripe old age of nine. The preacher who baptized me that summer had a brief explanation of faith and God’s forgiveness in a private chat before we stepped down several steps into what appeared to me to be a very large body of water behind the pulpit that held the large chair Daddy sat in between the congregational hymns during the worship service. I hated water, had already failed my first swimming lessons in the Navasota, Texas city pool twenty miles from Richards – a failure to be repeated more than once in the next dozen years.

I forgot the submersion in the baptistry (not totally) and remembered little of the rural conservative Southern Baptist minister’s words before he dunked me in the great pool. One concept stayed with me, though. God forgave me of my wrongdoings that day and forevermore. Brother Jones told me no matter what I did from then on that was even slightly evil, I had a free pass. All I had to say was God, forgive me. Full disclosure: I’ve had to ask for forgiveness in the post-baptism days way more than I did in the pre-baptism ones.

While my daddy did enjoy leading the small congregation of sixty members every Sunday he truly loved singing solos as the special music for the worship service. My mama played the piano for the church and, of course, for daddy’s spotlight moments. He had no vocal training, but he did have the loudest male voice in the church. His singing gave me free floating anxiety related to possible embarrassment that I tried my best to hide. Mama accompanied him with great intensity, lots of flourishes that covered any problems he had with the high notes.

Recently I’ve been singing Daddy’s repertoire in my mind; unfortunately I’ve remembered the words to a song Daddy liked to belt out – a song that was a crowd pleaser but my least favorite of his selections. The words to Great Judgment Morning were written by Bert Shadduck in 1894 and published in 75 hymnals according to hymnary.org.

I dream’d that the great judgment morning
Had dawn’d, and the trumpet had blown;
I dream’d that the nations had gathered
To judgment before the white throne.
From the throne came a bright shining angel
And stood on the land and the sea,
And swore with his hand rais’d to heaven,
That time was no longer to be.

Chorus:
And O, what a weeping and wailing,
As the lost were told of their fate;
They cried for the rocks and the mountains,
They pray’d, but their pray’r was too late.

On August 08, 1974 Richard Nixon resigned the office of President of the United States. My daddy and I watched the dramatic exit together from his Hermann Hospital room in Houston – he had been diagnosed with colon cancer that day, treatment options sounded grim, prognosis 18 – 24 months. It was a rough day for the country and for our family. I was 28 years old; he was 49.

Neither he nor I had ever seen anything like Watergate, but the Nixon resignation came at a good time for us: we had something to talk about other than my father’s health. I can’t begin to imagine having a conversation with Daddy during these last days of the ongoing trauma the nation has suffered by the deranged actions of an ex-President who would tamper with the security of a democracy my dad fought to preserve in WWII. What could he think?

Would he belt out the second verse of the Great Judgment Morning…hm.

The rich man was there, but his money
Had melted and vanished away;
A pauper he stood in the judgment,
His debts were too heavy to pay.
The great man was there, but his greatness
When death came was left far behind;

The angel that opened the records,
Not a trace of his greatness could find.

Did I really dream the great judgment morning has finally dawned for a president who, in my opinion, leaves a legacy of evil deeds far exceeding the wrongdoings of Richard Nixon; or did I actually watch David Muir describe this unraveling last week on the evening news.

If there is a great judgment morning, I is accountable. He is accountable. We is all accountable. Don’t just take my word for it. Ask Attorney General Merrick Garland who blows the trumpet now and says no one is above the law.

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

Please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

from antiques to basketball via the Seminole Trail


US highway 29 a/k/a Seminole Trail in parts of Virginia – antiques galore for Pretty to explore

Pretty and me leaving Jefferson’s Monticello

(photo by Susan Moore-Cooke)

Pretty in DC at Old Ebbitt Grill established in 1856

While Pretty collects antique treasures, I collect words; I found my treasure on a WNBA Washington Mystics t-shirt when we went to watch our home girl A’ja Wilson and her Las Vegas Aces play the Mystics in DC. Our home girl scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds in a game the Aces eventually lost to the Mystics, but Pretty and I weren’t too disappointed. We were thrilled to feel the atmosphere of the big city small arena with its diverse enthusiastic fan following. I told Pretty I was transported that night in my thoughts to the first tiny Texas gymnasium in Grimes County where I watched high school girls play basketball seventy years ago – now I watched a professional women’s team “centered in the very soul of our nation.”

From Jefferson’s home at Monticello to the Lincoln Memorial…from historic Old Ebbitt Grill to a sports arena in the Congress Heights neighborhood of DC, our four day trip last week along the Seminole Trail reminded me my country was built upon the work of those that dared to dream different.

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

Dare to dream different, and please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

have you ever met a frog whisperer?


 The sounds from our screened porch were connected to the sounds of my earliest memories of summer when I slept in a small double bed with my maternal grandmother while a cheap oscillating fan turned slowly from side to side as it valiantly tried to cool us in the hot humidity of an East Texas heat a thousand miles away from South Carolina, a heat that would not be relieved by opening every window on the porch where we slept or the random whisper of cool air from the small oscillating fan made by Westinghouse. The sheets were always clean but never actually cool.

I never trusted the sheets anyway after discovering a scorpion hiding between them one night.

But it was the sound of the frogs around our pool here on Cardinal Drive – particularly after a rain – that drew me to those hot muggy nights of Grimes County, Texas where I was raised. My grandmother’s wooden house made from a retail catalog blueprint had many design flaws, but its one awesome feature which had nothing to do with the design really, was the magical pond (or tank, as we called it in East Texas) behind her house.

The tank was the focal point of my only-child imagination play stories during the day, but it was the tank’s music of those summer nights I hope will never be erased from my memory. Specifically, it was the frogs, or bull frogs as my grandmother used to call them  just before we drifted off to sleep. The low guttural sounds were always behind the house and were somewhat subdued until every light was turned off at night. But then, those frogs got louder and louder until they hit a mighty crescendo. My grandmother and I laughed out loud when we heard them.

The frogs who live in our backyard on Cardinal Drive are rarely as raucous as the bull frogs in my tank in Richards – I think they are smaller frogs. But occasionally I hear one of those loud guttural sounds looking for something, probably safer water supplies, and I am transported to different days. To a grandmother who guided me with her wisdom and love. I was blessed with a loving eccentric family who in the end gave me what they could – so much more than I realized.

This morning, however, a medium size solitary frog stared at me from our screened porch after he unsuccessfully jumped against the screen to flee. He looked at me as if to say, I survived the nightmare of your chemically treated swimming pool but hopped into your screen porch jail through a door that was slightly ajar. And now, woe is me. I can’t figure out how to escape.

Never fear, I whispered. I stepped outside to get my pool scooper with the mesh frog retriever. I brought it back to the porch to fetch the frog who hadn’t moved. I carefully prodded the frog to get him to jump onto the rim of the scooper and hoisted him to safety on the deck.

I swear this little guy looked suspiciously like the one I rescued from the pool skimmer earlier this week. Seriously?

Regardless, I know we’ll hear him singing with his buddies tonight – we’ve had a summer rain this afternoon. The frog choir will rock on when darkness envelops them, and I will remember my grandmother’s laughter with a longing deep in my heart.

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Carport Kitty keeping cool – wherever


That’s me on the relatively cool porch across the street from my carport home. Every morning I walk over to the neighbor’s house after breakfast to try to beat the South Carolina heat. I stay there – keeping an eye on any activities in my carport – until the late afternoon when I come “home” for snacks or supper, preferably both. Brothers and Sisters, it takes a village when you hustle on the street, and I’ve got this routine nailed down. My mama didn’t raise no fool. Oh, that’s right. My mama didn’t raise me at all.

I’m a survivor, though.

Finally trained the old white-haired woman for delicious meals

Gotta stay fresh

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

Stay safe, stay sane, stay cool and please stay tuned.

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

the devil went down to Georgia? yeah, but he ended up in Florida


“The devil went down to Georgia, he was lookin’ for a soul to steal

he was in a bind ’cause he was way behind

and he was willin’ to make a deal”

No disrespect to the lyrics of this popular hit by Charlie Daniels, but the devil the American people experienced as their President for four years from 2016 – 2020 did indeed go down to make a deal in Georgia for the 11,780 votes he believed he needed to turn that state’s results away from Joe Biden – to allow Trump to overturn the will of the voters in Georgia and retain the oval office he couldn’t afford to lose. The devil couldn’t close that deal in Georgia or any other state because of duly elected officials who refused to tilt democracy over a cliff from which search and rescue would have been a monumental task, because 61 of 62 courts laughed his cases to delay the election results out of their courtrooms.

The devil grew desperate, and the results of his desperation were on full display to the world in the brutal attack on the US Capitol during the insurrection on January 06, 2021, the day the electoral ballots were brought to Congress for certification.

‘Cause Hell’s broke loose in Georgia, and the devil deals the cards

And if you win, you get this shiny fiddle made of gold

But if you lose, the devil gets your soul

Much has been said about restoring the soul of America, but the devil continues to play his trump cards of disillusion, deception and division from his shiny Florida fiddle made of fool’s gold.

The 01/06 Committee has been a reminder for all people of good will that the devil is alive and if democracy loses, the devil will get our soul.

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

Stay safe, stay sane, stay as cool as you can and Vote Blue in November.

Posted in Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tina and Elvis


My first major league concert was to see Brenda Lee perform in Houston when I was in the seventh grade in 1959. My daddy and mama took me to see her because I loved her songs and her singing when I was thirteen years old living in a small rural town in Grimes County near the Sam Houston National Forest deep in the Piney Woods of southeast Texas. I was raised on gospel music concerts in singing conventions at Bays Chapel Baptist Church on Sunday afternoons following dinner on the grounds. Good quartet singing with different relatives participating, good piano playing by the greatest gospel piano player of all time Charlie Taliaferro.

I can’t imagine either one of my parents spending money to buy the tickets – much less driving me nearly 80 miles from Richards to Houston for the Brenda Lee concert unless they had planned a side trip to the Bargain Gusher to look for clothes for work. What I remember most about my first concert experience was the large number of strings hanging from Brenda’s petticoats. We must have had binoculars; she must have been without a wardrobe person that night.

Through the years my memories of musical concert experiences include Neil Diamond, Elton John, Diana Ross, Dolly and Kenny, Dolly by herself, the Judds (twice), Cher, K.T. Oslin, Bette Midler, Patti LaBelle, Cynthia Clawson (in church – does that count?), Willie Nelson (twice), Nancy Griffith, Alison Kraus, Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls and the infamous Prince concert for my 65th. birthday. Infamous because Prince was one of Pretty’s favorites – we had great tickets, but I listened from the steps of an exit at the Colonial Life Arena – the decibels were intended for younger ears than mine.

What I think about today, however, are the two performers I had the opportunity to see but passed on for whatever lame reason I had at the time: Elvis and Tina Turner. For the life of me I find these two blanks on my concert cards the most troubling since Elvis’s Golden Records released in 1958 was the first lp album I ever owned. My maternal grandmother’s sister, my Aunt Dessie from Houston, gave the album to me because she knew I had a portable turn table in a small square blue box that would play it. She was right – I played that album over and over again. Thank goodness the turn table was sturdy.

Elvis was the young man with sideburns who promised to spend his whole life through loving you which I interpreted as loving me, but he was then drafted into the Army during the Korean War. I couldn’t believe the government was that cruel when Elvis sang they shouldn’t be. Yes, Elvis, the man whose musical career I followed throughout his life from sex symbol to husky size. He made sixteen personal appearances in Houston between 1954 and 1976, but I saw Brenda Lee.

Elvis also sang one concert at the Carolina Coliseum here in Columbia on February 18, 1977…six months before he died. I remember thinking I ought to go since I lived within 15 minutes of the coliseum – but opted to wait for a later time that was not to be. As for Tina Turner – what was happening in my life that would prevent my attending her concerts at that same Carolina Coliseum in 1985 or 1987 or 1993? Pretty told me she saw Tina with her sister Darlene at the 1985 concert – in her BS (before Sheila) years. That’s Pretty for you – naturally she wouldn’t want to miss Tina’s hits like What’s Love Got to Do With It?, Private Dancer, Nutbush City Limits, We Don’t Need Another Hero, and my all-time favorite of favorites Proud Mary. Clearly I missed the Tina personal appearance boat, but wait. All was not lost.

Thanks to the 21st. century miracles of You Tube videos I’ve had the best seat in the house at Tina Turner’s concerts in Barcelona, London, Amsterdam, Rio – I’ve joined tens of thousands of fans at some of the largest venues in the world. I’ve drooled as I watched Tina perform Proud Mary with Beyonce at the Grammy Awards – and shed a tear during a special performance of Simply the Best on the intimate set of the Oprah Winfrey Show for Oprah’s 50th. birthday celebration where she and Tina embraced after they danced together. Oh yeah, I’ve seen Tina in concerts, in interviews, in a documentary of her life – the good news is I can watch her whenever I want to, as often as I like and not have to worry about the person in front of me being too tall.

Pretty indulges my Tina time with a smile of understanding, even encouragement. She still owes me for Prince.

As for the old Elvis You Tube experience, count Pretty out.

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

This post was originally published in August of last year – what prompted the reblog? Oh gosh, coincidentally going to see the recently released Elvis movie in the same week I randomly scrolled You Tube and landed on the Amsterdam Tina concert. What are the odds?

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

kids say the darndest things (part 2)…


For example, this conversation took place between Naynay (the name my granddaughter gave me) and our almost three year old granddaughter Ella near the end of a two hour ride in the Grannymobile on our way this past May to the upstate for a few days in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina just above the South Carolina state line. Ella had slept most of the trip, was waking up from her afternoon nap.

I began to talk to her about the beautiful mountains we were going to see, about our responsibility to protect them when we visited, to make sure we always put our trash in the trash cans and never littered. I told her our generation had made a mess of the environment – that I hoped she and Molly would do better…she had listened intently I thought when all of a sudden she rolled her eyes (a la Pretty) and said “Oh Naynay, you make me sooo tired.”

Sigh. How many other people feel that same way – but are too polite to tell me. I shudder to think.

Before our granddaughters were born Pretty and I vowed to not be the stereotypical grandmothers who talked about their grandchildren incessantly, who always had a cute story about what one of them had said or done. We have failed miserably. Ask any of our friends or family we talk to on a regular basis, and they will be happy to tell you that no conversation takes place with us anymore unless there is a story about one or both of our granddaughters.

Periodically I cannot resist the urge to share their wit and wisdom with our cyberspace friends and family. Pardon me for this interruption of my usual heavier topics. The world indeed weighs heavily on me these days, but thank goodness for the joy I find in our granddaughters. Ella will be three years old on October 1st; Molly was born on January 26th of this year.

We recently kept the girls for two days and nights while their mom and dad went down to the beach for a long weekend. Our babysitting started on a Friday and we worked very hard to entertain them with indoor activities on Friday afternoon plus pool time for Ella on Saturday with Pretty while I kept Molly inside to watch tennis with me. Saturday at noon I asked Ella if she wanted to talk to her mother on the phone. She nodded so I dialed Caroline. The following telephone call took place.

Caroline: How is it going with the Nanas, Ella?

Ella: We’re having a good time. When can you pick us up?

Pretty and I burst out laughing together.

That Saturday afternoon I took Ella on a little walk up our street in front of the house. She seemed to be having a good time – there were a few puddles in the road from the rains the night before – and she was eager to splash in them. After a few minutes of splashing Ella stepped out of the puddle and turned toward the direction we had just come from. “Naynay, do you know where our house is?” she asked with anxiety. “Yes, Sweet, that’s one thing I’m confident we can find.”

I’ll close with this one that took place yesterday. Pretty usually goes to Ella’s camp classroom to pick her up in the afternoons while I stay in the Grannymobile with Molly. Yesterday I told Pretty I wanted to surprise Ella and pick her up myself. Of course, Pretty was happy for me to go but repeated the instructions for reaching the classroom several times to make sure I could negotiate the entrance process. No problem.

I found the classroom without a hitch, and Ella ran smiling to me when she saw me in the doorway. The teacher helped us get Ella’s snack, her lunch bag, and her water. All was well as I held her hand walking down the hallway until she stopped, looked up at me and said suspiciously “Naynay, how did you get in the building?”

Good question. I told her she’d have to ask Pretty.

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

Bonus pictures from Caroline’s Facebook.

Ella gets first haircut (June, 2022)

Molly and big sister Ella on Father’s Day (June, 2022)

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

Slavia Ukraini. For the children.

Posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

you’re not allowed


AP photo

Rally at South Carolina State House in Columbia

June 28, 2022

As Yogi Berra once said, it was deja vu all over again. As I stood with my sisters on the lobby floor, I looked straight up to the massive false dome of the Capitol and heard the whispers of power floating in the galleries above me – the same whispers I heard 50 years ago when I stood in this space rallying for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA had passed the SC House of Representatives unanimously in 1972 but was blocked in the Senate. Sound familiar?

I was a member of the Columbia Chapter of the National Organization for Women in the early 1970s when we sold hot dogs at the Okra Strut as one of several fundraisers to raise money to bring two lobbyists to Columbia from the national NOW office for three weeks to help us move the Senate leadership. Unfortunately, I discovered my crock pot did not cook the hot dogs fast enough for the hordes of underage customers. I did, however, successfully volunteer to house one of the women from DC in my home. She was a black lesbian named Cappy. I wanted to be her when I grew up.

Everyone was naively optimistic at the time; the Almighty Most Powerful in charge of the Senate was an old white man who promised us if we would just be quiet and not stir up any trouble, the ERA would go forward in the Senate. The two NOW lobbyists went home to DC with that promise in hand. However, the bill remained blocked in Committee. South Carolina became one of 15 states that never ratified the Equal Rights Amendment for women.

Fast forward 50 years to June 28, 2022. My good friend and fellow activist Francie picked me up at my home, drove us to the State House where we joined 200 other women (and a few men) to march with our pink Planned Parenthood Together We Fight for All signs to the lobby to protest the US Supreme Court ruling last week that overturned a fundamental right for women guaranteed in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Women’s bodies in South Carolina were now in the hands of mostly old white men who had offices in this building.

A young white man in a lovely beige summer suit and tie ushered us into the lobby area and asked us to “move back, make room for the next group.” Since I am super short with very white hair, Francie found a place for us near the front and told me we wouldn’t be moving. Young mothers with babies in strollers and toddlers holding Our Bodies, Our Choice signs came through. Older women holding the same Pink Planned Parenthood signs we held streamed in alongside us. A wide spectrum of humanity poured into the lobby while we watched. Soon we were packed together like Uncrustables in a 10-pack box as we held our signs high to face the large media contingent opposite our positions in the small area.

We stood chatting among ourselves when a tall older white man holding a very large black sign with the words Abortion is Murder began walking in the open area between our contingent and the media – strolling slowly back and forth in front of us. I looked for the pleasant young man in the beige suit who had asked us to move back and make room for more people. I didn’t see him, so I turned to Francie and said in my very nicest loud voice, my goodness, what is that guy doing parading back and forth in front of us with the sign? (Not exactly what I said, not exactly my nicest voice.) The young man in the beige suit appeared immediately. With the sweetest smile, he told me we’re not allowed to interact with the other protesters. Please stand back.

Luckily Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter (Dem Orangeburg County District 66) arrived and began to speak to us. She thanked the marchers for showing up, for making our voices heard, and promised to continue the fight for women in South Carolina to have control over our bodies. She is a black woman who was joined by two black men, but no white male representative welcomed us to the people’s house.

Unluckily, the older white man with the big black sign resumed strolling in the supposedly off limits area which made my blood pressure rise. I told Francie we needed to leave before I got us arrested. She sensed danger and said let’s go now. Wouldn’t you know the man with the Big Sign happened to walk directly in front of us when we began to break ranks. Hey, I said, in my not so nice loud voice, you can’t just walk back and forth with your sign in our faces in a space where no one else gets to even stand with their sign. He replied in a cold even tone “you’re not allowed to talk to me.” At that moment I heard the voice from 50 years ago telling me to be quiet, to not make trouble. I was so angry I was about to hit him with my pink sign.

Francie sprang into action running interference by sticking her pink Planned Parenthood sign in his face – that’s what tall people can do. They can rescue short ones. She proceeded to tell him he was in a danger zone, but the man with the Big Sign stood his ground. Francie then shuffled me out of the lobby right past the Jesus people who had also appeared out of thin air, who had brought the same tired signs I’d seen all my life at every march I’d made on any social justice issue. I wondered if they were thinking to themselves there’s that old white woman still going to hell, flames licking around her.

A woman was arrested at the State House that day, but thanks to my friend Francie that woman wasn’t me. Good thing – Pretty picked me up outside on Sumter Street at exactly 1 o’clock so that we could give our five month old granddaughter Molly her bottle on time. May the voices she hears throughout her life assure her she’s allowed.

**********

Congratulations to newly sworn in Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Ketanji Brown Jackson. Her journey for full equality for women continues today – onward.

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

with sorrow we dissent


“People Vs Supreme Court (The Sonnet)

When the Supreme Court behaves prehistoric,
Every human must become an activist.
When the gatekeepers of law behave barbarian,
Every civilian must come down to the street.
When people are stripped of their basic rights,
By some bigoted and shortsighted gargoyles.
We the people must take back the reins,
And put the politicians in their rightful place.
We need no guns and grenades, we need no ammo,
Unarmed and unbent we stand against savagery.
Till every woman obtains their right to choice,
None of us will sit quiet in compliant apathy.
Every time the cradle of justice becomes criminal,
It falls upon us civilians to be justice incorruptible.”


― Abhijit Naskar, Find A Cause Outside Yourself: Sermon of Sustainability

Supreme Court Injudicious Clarence Thomas said landmark high court rulings that established gay rights and contraception rights should be reconsidered now that the federal right to abortion has been revoked.

Thomas wrote that those rulings “were demonstrably erroneous decisions.”

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

I’m not a judge or even an attorney, but I argue the demonstrably erroneous decisions with respect to the highest court in the nation include the appointment of Thomas in 1991 by President George H. W. Bush (that’s 31 years ago if anyone is counting) and the three most recent appointments of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh both vowed in their congressional testimony during confirmation hearings they would not vote to overturn Roe. Very nice – justices whose own word is meaningless.

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