view from the cheap seats

Some dogs love to howl at the moon, some dogs stare at the moon but prefer to bark at the mailman, a few dogs never notice the moon at all. They think if they ignore it, the moon will gradually go away – kind of like rain. Dogs who could sing would make up songs like Moon, Moon, go away – come again some other day.

The United States Senate reminds me of a dog pound. You ain’t nothing but a hound dog Mitch McConnell loves to lead the rest of his pack in howling at the moon on a regular basis, but he’s also learned to sing. This week Sing Along with Mitch brought the hit song Debt Limits, Debt Limits Go Away – come again some other day. Like in early December.

But then the rest of his minority pack started barking at Mitch for losing an imaginary game of Wake, Wake Don’t Blink at Me with Chuck Schumer who can’t sing at all – can’t even carry a tune as we used to say about my Aunt Sister. Nope. Chuck and his majority pack must be saving their howling for the mailman or the boogeyman or some other man because they’ve 100% lost their voices when it comes to howling at the moon. They can’t even whimper on their own. Whatever song Mitch leads, they sing along from one rousing chorus of Proud Donald to another stanza of Catch the Falling Star of Joe Biden.

As for voting rights, infrastructure, income inequality, raising the minimum wage, institutional racism, police reform, gun control, burning bushes, floods, pandemics, vaccines against said pandemics, insurrectionists who evidently would be happier without democracy – most of us are like the dogs who choose to ignore the moon. If we ignore the moon, maybe one day it will just go away on its own.

But what if there’s really a Blue Moon from Kentucky that ain’t ever going away, then what?

And that’s the view from the cheap seats.


Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated and stay tuned.

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dreamers shipwrecked in Galveston in 1868

“We were eleven weeks on the ocean [leaving Bremen in the Province of Hanover, Germany on the Bark ship Fortuna for Texas] and when we were right near Galveston, the ship ran on a sand bar. We stayed there all night and part of next day before we were taken off. The ship had broken in the middle and was about to go all to pieces. By that time all our belongings were wet from salt water. At that time I was less than two years old but I have often heard my father say there was a family on board that kept praying and all the other people tried to get to them because they were all afraid except those who were praying.

On the ship with us was my father’s mother and my mother’s father. My father’s brother John Koym and his family, Ferd Koym who was single, and my mother’s brother William Buls and his family, Andrew Buls, also single, as was Sophie Pletzech, who came along, too.

There was a family by the name of Poshen, and a single man by the name of Carl Rando.

I remember all of them very well. We stayed in Galveston several days and dried the belongings the best we could and then we moved to Brenham by train and from Brenham, on an ox-wagon driven by a negro driver we went about two miles out in the country, to an acquaintance of my father, where they were farming. Then we went on to Weimar. We lived there about 16 years and after I married Lena Reinhardt. I and a good many of my people moved to East Bernard, where we have lived all these years…”

German immigration to Texas in the nineteenth century after the Civil War was partly driven by advertising in their newspapers for farm laborers to replace the African American men, women and children who once were slaves but now were free to leave the cotton, corn and tobacco fields of their masters to seek paid wages elsewhere. Many slaves left the farms without a backward glance which meant white landowners needed help with their cash crops, help to do the manual farm labor they couldn’t or wouldn’t do.

Enter the Germans who faced political revolutions of their own, declining opportunities for farming in their homeland, varying degrees of religious persecution – murmurings among friends to brave the ocean voyage for a new life in America grew louder. The Koym and Buls families in the Province of Hanover in Germany shared not only a passion for economic improvement but also a two year old grandson named Hermann (who many years later wrote the above newspaper article about the shipwreck for the Galveston Daily News). A German friend who was already established on a farm two miles outside of Brenham in Washington County had sent word to Wilhelm Koym that Texas was the promised land. Friedrich (William) Buls was 62 years old, a widower with four adult children who were planning to risk their lives for fortunes and adventure across the high seas.

The Bark ship Fortuna was a cheaper form of sailing vessel for the immigrants which indicated this group’s unremarkable socioeconomic status. Tens of thousands of poor working class Germans crossed the Atlantic in similar difficult conditions, but this small band of wayfarers was significant to me.

Hermann’s maternal grandfather, Friedrich (William) Buls, was my 3rd great-grandfather, the widower who made this voyage at the age of 62 with his four grown children. His eldest son 32 year old Joachim Andreas Christian Buls (Andrew), the “also single” son in the newspaper clipping, found a wife in Texas and married Sophie Bartels Schawe in Salem, Washington County one year after the Galveston shipwreck. Sophie was a widow with three children when they married; she became the mother of another four children with Andrew Buls.

The third child born to Andrew and Sophie on August 02, 1873 was a daughter, Bertha Emeline Selma Buls. Selma grew up on the family’s Washington County farm, spoke German in the home, had no formal schooling. When she was seventeen years old, she married another German Charles C. Schlinke who had been born in Brenham in Washington County.

Selma Buls Schlinke was the woman I called Grandma Schlinke when she visited us in Richards, Grimes County, Texas throughout the 1940s and 1950s until her death in 1956. Grandma and Grandpa Schlinke had 12 biological children – one died as an infant – my grandmother Beatrice Louise Schlinke was their fifth child born October 20, 1898 in Rosenberg, Texas. A circuitous journey brought my grandmother Louise (with her husband James Marion Boring, Sr.) to live in the little town of Richards that was a hundred miles west of Weimar where her mother Selma was born and raised.

Several additional twists of fate brought my daddy, mama (named Selma Louise) and me to live with Louise Schlinke Boring when I was two years old in 1948. My grandmother Louise who I called Dude as a toddler (because I dropped the second syllable of “Dudese” which I’ve never understood until our granddaughter began skipping unimportant second syllables in her initial communication of language) had a small house in Richards but the hospitality was warm just like she was so we had regular visitors every year. Grandma and Grandpa Schlinke visited us in the summer for a week or longer – they loved to get away from the big city of Houston where they lived with a son Otto and his wife Patrina on Posey Street, a lower middle class neighborhood of blue collar workers and small entrepreneurs. My Uncle Otto owned a grocery store located behind his house.

Faded photographs I found this week plus a folder marked simply “Buls Family Genealogy” captured my interest about my mother’s maternal ancestors. I have several tiny pictures that I believe were taken of Buls relatives in the 1920s or 1930s on a farm which could be in Washington County. I don’t know the names of these German Texans because none of them were identified by my grandmother, but she carefully saved these 3×2 inch images of a particular time and place so I understand their importance to her; whether they are my family or yours, I found them compelling.

Harvesting crops was a family affair

Truly “horse and buggy” days in Brenham, Texas

Typical farmer with his plow

High Corn (not High Cotton)

Texas farmer and his hardest workers

Texas woman riding a horse – in my DNA

Finally, I’ll close with one of my favorite pictures…taken before 1953.

I am standing between my mother Selma –

and my grandmother Dude.

Grandpa and Grandma Schlinke are seated.

I am the child of shipwrecked dreamers who refused to give up when their ship went down in the salty sea on the Texas coast, who then traveled by train, and then by a cart pulled by oxen to arrive in a beautiful country where no one spoke their language. I honor their memories as I celebrate the dreams of all who still dare to dream today that America is a land of hope.



Stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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ain’t no slide steps high enough

Our granddaughter Ella James will be two years old this week on Friday, October 1st. so Pretty and I decided last night we would have a zoo day today to celebrate her day off from school (Jewish high holiday). It was a memory maker, as my mother would declare on the days before she lost hers. Whenever I get discouraged, whenever I feel like the world brings us all too many problems, I find a day’s dose of Ella James with Pretty works wonders.

Pretty and Ella make joy real

None of us quite understood proper bird feeding

Cherry Icee fabulous

Uh, oh. The Icee fell down.

What’s this? Ugh. I get no respect. Seriously?

Ain’t no slide steps too high for me to climb

Do I know you? I don’t think so.

Wheeee – let’s go, Nana!

Bye, Bye, everyone – see you next time!

(Another highlight of our day was the wonderful carousel ride which Ella rode twice, but my pictures weren’t suitable. Next time.)

Ella and I were very tired after our morning at the zoo so we sat on a bench outside the entrance to wait for Pretty to bring the car around to pick us up. Unfortunately, my perfect granddaughter threw several wipes on the ground after she snatched them from the pack of wet wipes we brought for emergency use. Ella, I said sternly with my most authoritative voice, I have to tell you something very important. We never throw any trash on the ground.

She looked at me with the same look Pretty gives me whenever she gets aggravated at something I say.

Hush, she whispered. Hush.

I burst out laughing. And that’s the way we roll.

Thanks so much for indulging our zoo day pics – stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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lesbian jungle

Vintage Paperback & Pulp Fiction Cover Art1966

“I don’t know why, but of all the girls I’ve had in my life, Renna has always been different … special … but I’m afraid things will never be the same between us. I’m a full-fledged butch, now, and I feel, at times, that it repels her”–Cover blurb.

Pretty had a large collection of lesbian vintage post cards in Bluestocking Books in the early 1990s, and one of them is now part of my little sandwich bag conglomerate collection of cards on my desk. Oh yes, I “rediscover” these gems periodically, and Lesbian Jungle is a favorite. Imagine.

Today I needed something fun to distract me from the Biden Administration’s recent disasters. Don’t get me wrong. I love Joe and the folks he has working for him but please don’t say drone s—-e, immigrants under b—-e in Del Rio, Texas. C—d anything. French ambassador r—-l. These words seriously make me cringe in horror today. You have to do better, Joe. Where is Kamala?

Instead, I bring you a cheerful picture of the cover of a lesbian pulp paperback published by Publishers Export Company in 1966. The cover artist was unknown, but Jeffrey Luther with PC Design copyrighted this post card of the cover in 1999. Thank goodness the French Line (see top left of post card) survives as hopefully my French followers who rank #4 on my international blog stats will, also. Please stay with me, Annie and Animal Couriers – what would we do without you?

I was interested to see that censorship of this particular literary genre in the 50s and 60s required the story to end unhappily for the lesbian heroine. There could be no happy homosexuals which probably explains the grumpy little girl in the picture frame next to the post card above. I know 100% she was too young to read lesbian pulp at the time she posed for this picture, but she already understood the endings.

It’s a jungle out there so stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated, and please stay tuned.

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is new Stop Sign a sign for me?

We have a new Stop Sign one block from our house on Cardinal Drive in West Columbia. Now why would our sleepy Westover Acres neighborhood require a new traffic warning, I wondered.

Does this have a deeper meaning for me? Hm. I wonder if my activism should become more “active” than sending words into cyberspace to create awareness of social injustice, the importance of family as a cornerstone of values I believe to be true, current events that shape our lives, and what else?

Oh well, more later…this is an unrelated photo from our back yard this week…

I ain’t no butterfly

Stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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two thumbs up from Pretty

Leylah Fernandez fights hard but loses US Open final to Emma Raducanu -  Tennis Canada

Leylah Fernandez (l.) and Emma Raducanu at trophy ceremony

(Tennis Canada))

The last grand slam tennis tournament for 2021 is in the history books, my friends, and I have to say I loved it! The US Open brings the grand slam season to an end for this year, but the best of the best was saved for last according to my most reliable sources: Pretty and me.

Fernandez and Raducanu introduced themselves to the tennis world’s grandest stage in New York City with the effervescent smiles of their teenage years, but they brought mature tennis games filled with passionate desires to win along with that youth. Wow. What an inspirational duo. I have high hopes for the sport as well as the next generation of young women swinging rackets at barriers of national origin, race, gender and yes, my old nemesis sexual orientation.

Pretty gives US Open two thumbs up in 2021

Granddaughter Ella James was lost in thought as she studied the earth walking barefoot at DX2’s gorgeous place in the upstate at the lake – faithful dog Carl stood guard.

The hype, the drama of Novak Djokovic’s quest for a calendar grand slam died a painful death in the final to Daniil Medvedev who at age 25 is ranked #2 in the world in men’s singles. The New York crowd, on the other hand, roared its support for Djokovic in the final – often at inappropriate moments. Even though he lost the trophy in straight sets, Djokovic said in the presentation ceremony he was the happiest man in the world because the crowd had touched his heart. Perhaps, at last, this man’s search for love from the New York fans transformed his pain at losing the historic opportunity of winning the calendar grand slam.

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, reacts to the crowd after losing to Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, in the men's singles final of the US Open tennis championships, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(AP Photo)

Novak Djokovic at trophy ceremony

No Williams Sisters, no Federer, no Nadal at this year’s US Open – I have thought of them often during the two weeks tournament. Twenty years of spectacular entertainment from these players who could bring me to tears of joy with their amazing victories or tears of sorrow in their defeats. One more match, one more tournament is what I wish for from these greats. But if they are done, thank you for your service – the future rests in a new generation of players who were inspired by your greatness.

Pretty and I give you all and the future two thumbs up.


Stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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us open: a time to remember, a time to look forward

On September 08, 2001 Venus Williams won the women’s singles championship of the US Open Tennis Tournament in New York City for the second straight year (and for the last time) by defeating her younger sister Serena. It was the first Grand Slam final between sisters in 117 years – the media hype surrounding the match was intense, but the match ended in 69 minutes with a 6-2, 6-4 older sister win. I remember watching the Williams Sisters in the final but can’t remember which one I rooted for, probably the elder Venus. At the time I couldn’t anticipate the incredible impact these two women would have on their sport for the next two decades – both on and off the court – but their names are now synonymous with tennis greatness around the world.

I also could never have imagined what would happen a mere three days later in New York on a Tuesday morning, the 11th of September, when terrorists attacked our country including two planes that flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan – a short taxi ride away from the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, the site of the US Open tournament.

The 2021 women’s singles championship of the US Open will be played on September 11th., the 20th. anniversary of that terrorist attack. It is the first time since 2003 that neither Venus nor Serena will participate in the tournament. Both sisters (Venus, age 41 – Serena, age 40) cite injuries that prevent them from appearing. I must admit I feel my age and a little sad that I won’t have a Williams sister to watch. But hey, two teenagers who stand on their shoulders give me hope for not only the game but also the future.

Nineteen-year-old Leylah Fernandez is the daughter of an Ecuadorian father who is her coach, a mother from the Philippines who is her cheerleader in reserved seating during her matches. Leylah’s paternal grandparents are Peruvian. When asked about his immigration to Canada, her father Jorge said:

“I don’t want to get political. That’s not what I’m doing. What I’m telling you is we’re an immigrant family, and we had nothing. So, Canada opened up its doors, and if they wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that I have. And I wouldn’t have been able to give them to my daughter. So, it means a lot.” (Sanket Nair, Essentially Sports)

The path to the women’s singles championship for Fernandez included wins over the #3 seed Naomi Osaka, #16 seed Angie Kerber, the #5 seed Elina Svitolina, and the #2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-final under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium Thursday night. She will play again on Ashe for the final today at 4:00 p.m. Her opponent will be another teenager, this one from Great Britain.

Emma Raducanu was born in Toronto, Canada to her parents Ian from Romania and Renee who is Chinese. When Emma was two years old, the family immigrated to England where she began playing tennis at the age of five. Raducanu’s appearance in the final of the US Open this year is the first of any qualifier in history (man or woman) to make a Grand Slam final, the first British woman to make a Slam final in 44 years, since Virginia Wade in 1977. (It was fun to see Virginia Wade watching from the stands at Ashe.)

Raducanu won 3 qualifying matches prior to making the 2021 US Open main draw, and her run to the Grand Slam women single’s championship included wins over #11 seed Belinda Bincic who won the Gold Medal at the Tokyo Oympics this summer, #17 seed Maria Sakkari in the second semi-final match under the Thursday night lights at Ashe Stadium by crushing our home girl South Carolina native Shelby Rogers in the 4th round of the Open. Rogers defeated the #1 player in the world, Ash Barty, in a three-set unexpected victory in the third round of the slam.

Fernandez celebrated her 19th birthday on September 06 at the Open with cupcakes that looked delicious – cupcakes she shared in the locker room with Raducanu and other players. She was born September 06, 2002, and Raducanu was born two months later on November 13th. Fernandez entered the US Open ranked 73rd in the WTA singles while Raducanu came in at 150th.

Their ratings will change after their performances at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center this year. Their lives will also change: new demands, higher expectations, instant celebrity, countless decisions for their financial futures. Regardless of who wins today, both of these teenage girls have secured a place in tennis history with opportunities for a fantastic future – a future built in part by the sacrifices of their families, Althea Gibson, the Williams Sisters and their female tennis cohort, and by the remarkable Original 9 that was the first group inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this summer. Billie Jean King, Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid risked their careers by separating themselves from the tennis establishment to fight for equal rights with their male counterparts. When the winner deposits her check of $2.5 million, the same as the winner in the men’s championship, she can thank the Original 9.

Today, September 11th, we remember the tragedy of a terrorist attack against our country twenty years ago. As the names of those lost are read and as the bells remind us of that unspeakable horror, two immigrant teenage girls, one from Canada and one from the United Kingdom, teenagers who weren’t yet born on that day will improbably battle for a championship in New York City.

It’s the Women’s Singles Championship of the 2021 US Open Tennis Tournament – it’s more than a tennis match. It’s a glimpse of the future.


Stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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time’s up: share the wealth

This is dedicated to all those who understand what laboring for “the Man” to line his pockets is all about. That Man in America has been getting wealthy while we work. Come on, Man. Time’s up: Share the Wealth.

2021 – 1978 = 43 years

Thanks to CBS Sunday morning today for this fact check, and thanks to individual companies like Costco (which is Pretty’s happy place) for raising their minimum wage to $16/hr in 2021 – more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25 set in 2009. Now, if only Congress would pass a Raise the Wage Act in 2021, or even if South Carolina would join 29 other states and the District of Columbia to adopt a new state minimum wage above the current federal $7.25…

But, as my daddy used to remind me, if wishes were horses, we’d all be riding.

Here’s to the workers who should be riding on Labor Day and every day.


Stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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VAMOS! Oh, to be 18 again

Eighteen year old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia upset the #3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas under the Friday night lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2021 US Open Tennis Tournament last night to earn a trip to the fourth round in the second week of the tennis major – a victory intensified by the always enthusiastic New York City fans. Even from my bleacher seat in front of our tv I saw Hurricane Carlos blow through that stadium with every swing of his explosive forehand or the delicate touch of a well placed drop shot. The guy was magnificent with self confidence oozing toward his player box after every point whether he won it or lost it.

When Alcaraz won the fifth set in a thrilling tiebreak, I also felt the tennis world shift in cosmic concert with the fans. Move over, Nadal. You have company that will soon be vying for the top spots in tennis, and the last name is not Djokovich or Federer. This name is one that will roll off your tongue with perfect pronunciation because he shares your Spanish heritage. Carlos Alcaraz Garfia.

Who is Carlos Alcaraz Garfia? » FirstSportz

Nadal (l) and Alcaraz played in Madrid in May, 2021

photo from FirstSportz

Nadal won in two sets in the Madrid match but was effusive in his prediction of greatness for Alcaraz in his press conference following the match. “When you make a salad, you need the best ingredients. Carlos has the best ingredients for tennis,” said Nadal.

Rafa rocks the semis in the 2013 French against guess who? Djokovich

Tennis: Who is Carlos Alcaraz, the 17-year-old who could face Nadal at the  Madrid Open? | Marca

Alcaraz with the infamous Spanish Vamos to fire up himself –

and the fans

photo by Marca

Alcaraz wasn’t the only teenager with an upset last night; I was impressed by the play of the Canadian Leylah Fernandez. She came from behind to get the best of Naomi Osaka in a three set match. I thought her composure was impressive as Osaka lost a major battle with herself in a sizzling public meltdown. I fear we will not see Naomi again on a tennis court for a very long time, if ever.

Finally, what a pleasant surprise to check the scores this morning for the only match I couldn’t watch yesterday because it was played too late for these old tired eyes. American Frances Tiafoe upset the #5 seed Andrey Rublev in what must have been another great match. Another five setter that ended around 2 a.m. today. Whew – what an unbelievable week for tennis at the US Open which, by the way, has traditionally been my least favorite of the majors in the sport. Keep going, Frances – you’ve got spunk. I love spunk.

I have had the privilege of watching Venus and Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovich compete in tennis tournaments for the past 20 years. Looking back, I know how fortunate I am to have had this opportunity. Luckily, I have had the good sense to appreciate this so-called Golden Era.

Although the Williams sisters, Federer and Nadal have not competed in this year’s US Open, I am surprised I haven’t missed them as much as I expected. Forgive me, Nadal. You will always be first in my tennis heart of hearts, but I confess I have two new young guys whose energy, enthusiasm and excitement are creating new flutters in my tennis heart: 20 year old Italian Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz. Their young hopes revitalize my old memories.

Please retire to a well deserved rest, Rafa. Your work is done – you have fought the good fight over and over again. Those who follow in your footsteps will rely on your awesome example.


Stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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this is how Pretty rolls

Every three months for many years I have sent a small check from our joint account to the Animal Rescue Mission in Columbia. Pretty understands I have a macro overview of the world’s problems.

Pretty, on the other hand, puts this water bowl in the carport for a small cat who sleeps under our truck at night. She handles micro issues to rescue any animal she sees in need.

P. S. Before you ask, we had a small mysterious fire in our carport this week from spontaneous combustion of South Carolina heat with flammable substance of undetermined origin. Remains and ashes directly above water bowl.

Stay safe, stay sane, please get vaccinated and please stay tuned.

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