this girl had it going on…was she calling to Get Out the Vote?

was she making calls to Get Out the Vote?

Actually, not really – this girl (me) was probably calling her office from a pay phone outside the tennis courts at the Family Circle Tennis Tournament in Hilton Head, South Carolina in the late 1980s. She was carrying seat cushions for bleacher seats, wearing enormous glasses and a wonderful hat that she lost somewhere along the way during the next quarter century.

This girl would have voted in every election, though, and would want all  her friends across the country to do the same in the mid-term elections on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

Be woke! Go Vote!

Stay tuned.



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be woke! go vote!

 “Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community, the involvement and voice that allows you to be a part of the very world that you are a part of… it is not simply about the right to vote for women, but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of all people, including those members of society who have been marginalized whether for reasons of race, gender, ethnicity or orientation, to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community.”

(reported by Sabrina Barr, MSN News)

Say, whose quote is this? Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony or Lucy Stone in the 1800s during the beginnings of the Suffragette Movement in the USA? Or was it Alice Paul with her group of women activists called the Silent Sentinels who were imprisoned in America in the early 1900s, went on hunger strikes in prison and were force fed to be kept alive for three years before the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution giving women the right to vote was finally passed in 1920? The above quote could have been attributed to any of these American women who devoted their lives to securing the right of women to vote in our country.

Instead, the quote belongs to another American woman, Meghan Markle, who is now the Duchess of Sussex and spoke these words yesterday to a crowd in New Zealand where she was near the end of a Royal Tour with Prince Harry. While celebrating that country’s 125th anniversary of women’s rights to vote, she praised New Zealanders for their political actions in 1893 and concluded her remarks with a quote from the country’s most famous suffragette, Kate Sheppard: “All that separates, whether of race, class, creed or sex, is inhuman and must be overcome.”

I am so proud that an American-born woman of color is in New Zealand talking about the basic right of all women to participate in shaping our democracies with the power of the vote. Every vote matters. You are only powerless when you fail to exercise your power.

Pretty is driving me this morning to my Lexington County voting place for early voting for the midterms which are scheduled for Tuesday, November 6, 2018. I am feeling very strong today. This election is very important in shaping the future of our communities, our states and our nation; and I, for one, want my voice to be heard.

I’m going to think about Meghan Markle’s final remark from Kate Sheppard: “All that separates, whether of race, class, creed or sex is inhuman, and must be overcome.”

Amen, sisters. Tell it.  We shall overcome. Be woke. Go Vote!

Stay tuned.


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the water is your friend

As the panic overwhelmed me when I saw the water above my head, I could hear Pretty yelling Stand up! Stand up!

My legs refused to cooperate…I tried to stand, but my wet feet kept sliding on the vinyl lining of our swimming pool. I was holding on for dear life to one of the two buoyant noodles I used for my daily exercises, but for some reason that wasn’t helping. I would try to put one foot down, the foot would go out from under me and I would go under again. Panicky. Panicky…I was drowning….in four feet of water…I was drowning.

I can’t stand up – HELP!

Pretty jumped in with all her clothes on and pulled me out of the water.

I could barely breathe. The panic and fear wouldn’t let go of me even when I stood safely on the top step of the four steps leading into the pool. Pretty stayed in the water with all her clothes on and began to walk back and forth in the four feet depth of the shallow end of the pool she had just pulled me out of. She was clearly undone.

After a few minutes, she said, I probably should have let you get out by yourself so you would know you could make it alone.

I shook my head. If you hadn’t pulled me out when you did, I would have drowned, I replied. I stood shaking on the step for a long time before I slowly pulled myself out of the pool.

All summer long I got into the shallow end of our beautiful swimming pool to spend 30 minutes of exercise in the water because my orthopedic doctor remarked offhandedly during an appointment last spring that the water was my friend, and if there was any possibility of exercising in water, that would be a brilliant idea.

I had resisted the suggestion because of my lifelong fear of water – like as in major phobia fear of water. I loved to look at water but rarely got in it. However, this summer  I discovered the water allowed me to walk without pain and that made a “water believer” out of me. Every day I overcame my fears to get in the pool and do my exercises. Most of the time someone came to the house to swim so I had plenty of company during the warm summer days.

Gradually I even began to look forward to the 30 minutes of water activities. And also gradually after Labor Day, most of our friends quit coming to the pool; Pretty was busy with her antique empire, and I kept up my pool exercises by myself. Even Charly and Spike were bored with my walking back and forth routines, opting to stay indoors while I spent time with my new best friend, water.

October has been warmer than it’s supposed to be which gave me encouragement to continue my water exercises. Cooler nights chilled our unheated pool but sunshine could make the water bearable for me in the late afternoons. Pretty who loved the pool during the summer months occasionally got in with me but most of the time preferrred to chat  from the vantage point of a bench near the edge of the water whenever she came home during my pool time. Most of the time I was already out by the time she arrived.

But for some reason known only to the gods of shallow water, Pretty came home early last Friday afternoon as I was wrapping up my routine. We were chatting when I lost my balance in the pool and went under. She was in exactly the right spot at the right time  to save me from myself and from my friend, water, which at that moment had become my foe.

I vowed to never get back in the pool again; that promise didn’t last two days. The cold water may keep me out when the sun doesn’t warm it to suit me, but fear won’t. If Katherine Hepburn could swim in the Atlantic Ocean every day of her life until she died, surely I could spend 30 minutes in a swimming pool in my back yard.

As long as my personal Super Hero Pretty is within shouting distance.

Stay tuned.





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Pretty and I were unable to participate in tonight’s 2018 Pride Parade here in Columbia, South Carolina but we were there in spirit…

PRIDE – 2015

On the bottom row of this collage the handsome young man speaking with a microphone at the Pride Festival was my friend of many, many years Eddie Greenleaf. Sadly, two weeks ago today Pretty and I attended his funeral. We will miss Eddie’s smile and hugs but are very thankful for the memories we share of his commitment to his husband Michael and their ongoing contributions to the LGBTQ community in South Carolina over the past 30 years. Rest in peace, Eddie, and may those of us you left behind never rest until true equality for all becomes the new normal.

Stay tuned.

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proud mary

While Pretty was away doing constructive activities with her father and number one son Drew at his house across town this morning, I watched CBS Sunday Morning. Oprah’s Gayle who is also a CBS correspondent interviewed Tina Turner at her home in Zurich, Switzerland. Tina was promoting her new autobiography, and Gayle was having fun talking to her.

When Gayle asked Ms. Turner what she had to say about her many fans who missed her performing after her final performances in 2007, Tina said her fans now had her many videos…which led me straight to my computer which is now smoking from my watching countless videos of Tina Turner singing Proud Mary – with and without Ike – for the next two hours.

No version is as fabulous, to me, as the duet with Beyoncé at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

Proud Mary

Tina Turner and Beyonce

My apologies to all of my feminist friends and to my wife Pretty who is not a huge fan of Beyoncé, but if I ever have a memorial service, please play this video on a decent screen.

P.S. Pictures taken from video on my computer and used with no one’s permission.

Stay tuned.

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a case of mistaken identity

The year was 1968. I was 22 years old,  working for a CPA firm and living by myself in Seattle, Washington 3,000 miles from my home near Houston, Texas. I got a job by calling every CPA firm in the Seattle area from my motel room telephone out of the yellow pages in a telephone directory. When I reached the “s” names, I hit the jackpot. Simonson & Moore in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle. They interviewed me and hired me on the spot. I was so relieved that I would now be able to pay my motel bill.

I knew no one except my co-workers – my girlfriend who made the trip with me had left to follow her adventures with a guy in California. We had rented an apartment in Bellevue that I knew I couldn’t afford without her help. I was very lonely.

At Christmas my dad sent me the money to fly home for a few days before tax season started at my job. On the 3 hour return flight from the only stop in Denver to Seattle, I sat next to a young man from Houston who lived and worked in Portland, Oregon. We talked and talked and exchanged phone numbers before saying goodbye at the Seattle Tacoma airport.

When he didn’t call me, I called him. I thought I had the wrong number because someone who sounded like a very young boy answered. I asked for Jim, and Jim came to the phone. He was very friendly, asked how I was getting along and said I should come for a visit to see Portland some time. I said I was free that weekend and would love to visit him.

I found these pictures my mother had saved for almost 40 years. On each picture I had carefully written explanations of my new relationship which no doubt had given her hope of romance for me. My mother and I were totally off base on so many levels.

“This is his den downstairs – his ‘music’ room

My favorite room in his house

That’s Jim in the blue sweatshirt.”

“That’s Vladimir, the cat.

This is Jim’s living room upstairs.

Doesn’t he look cute here?”

“He was fixing his pretty hair & was

thoroughly disgusted with me & the camera!

Isn’t he darling?”

“Which one is the real dear?

This is in Jim’s living room – his Texas decor”

Jim and I had more in common than I realized…kindred spirits even. That visit to Portland was my first and last, although we talked on the phone a few times afterward. We were never on the same flight back home again.

My mother asked about him for a while – but then gave up on him. She kept the pictures forever, though, to prove to herself that I wasn’t a lesbian.

Stay tuned.





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the young woman at the rock

I was 22 years old, leaving home – really leaving home on a 3,000 mile trip from Houston, Texas to Seattle, Washington with a friend from college who was as eager for adventure and a change of scenery as I was. The year was 1968, and my brand new  two-door blue Buick Skylark with the white coupe top had never been farther west than Austin. Time to break that baby in.

My friend and I had picked Seattle on a map sitting in a bar in Houston – we were looking for the farthest distance in the continental USA from where we sat. Bangor, Maine lost out to the Pacific Northwest. For me, it was the right choice and changed my life forever.

I keep this picture in a little box on my desk and take it out occasionally to remind me of that trip and the young woman smiling with such assurance as she stood near a rock in Arizona. She makes me smile when I see her.

Stay tuned.



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consider the toad

our toad sits alone every night atop the frog log

during the day mr. or mrs. toad vanishes

What up, Toad?

Stay tuned.

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Gettysburg – looking for common ground

Whatever you do, don’t discuss elephants or donkeys in the newly formed group Politics, Facts & Civility in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; the group was formed by local citizens of that same town made famous by an American civil war battle in July, 1863 and a speech made by president Abraham Lincoln four months after the battle in November of that year. The group PF&C was formed to bring together Republicans and Democrats in the small town to try to find common ground in a friendly atmosphere – to try to tamp down the rancor,  partisan rhetoric and bitterness in their home town that was a microcosm of the ugliness and downright meanness taking over the political discourse across the country. Family members divided, neighbors pitted against neighbors, and these people wanted to seek a new way forward. The group was small with ten members at a recent meeting, but the hope was for finding more ways in which we were alike than we were unalike, to borrow Maya Angelou’s words. Bravo.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, a testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war… The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here…” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November, 1863

The world noted for a news cycle what was said by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in her tortured testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The world noted for several news cycles Judge Kavanaugh’s tearful dramatic denials which conjured images of him for me of his being seated next to Clarence Thomas for the Supremes’ official portrait. The world noted briefly the unhinged outburst of Senator Lindsay Graham who I implored on his Senate voice mail this week to please ask the media to refrain from continuing to say Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina — yes, even that blatant rudeness and disrespect  will not be remembered by the world (except perhaps by the person who inspired him); but we, the people, will never be able to forget what was done in the United States Senate during the first week of October, 2018.  The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was a lifetime appointment with generational implications.

We continue to be involved in a great civil war testing whether our democracy can long endure, don’t we? New divisions, and old ones unresolved…new wounds, and old ones framed in new language continue to test our commitment to each other as citizens of a nation dedicated to beliefs in government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our new civil war is as uncivil as the first one was, and our convictions in the guardians of our democracy through its legislative, executive and judicial branches of government hang by threads as thin as the ones in my favorite pair of pajamas.

The Kavanaugh confirmation process was described by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and his sidekick Orrin Hatch as being dysfunctional to the Beyond Thunder Dome power. While American citizens gathered outside the committee room in the halls of Congress and around the capitol grounds to protest the Kavanaugh confirmation — even had the audacity to confront individual senators in the elevators and in their offices — I found rays of sunshine amid the darkness of the dysfunction. My new heroes as champions of democracy during the hearings were Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Senator Kamala Harris of California for their eloquence in expressing their positions, their calm demeanor while questioning Kavanaugh and their polite refusal to be led down the rabbit hole of disrespect.

Bravo again to the Politics, Facts & Civility group in Gettysburg. My hope is that your membership grows and expands to include citizens in the towns near you… until the movement becomes a wave washing across the entire state of Pennsylvania which then spills over state boundaries all the way to South Carolina.

Pretty tells me all the time we need to start with our own neighbors who haven’t spoken to us since we’ve been here now for 18 months. My attitude toward them has been mostly uncivil, too, as I tend to believe they vote Republican and disrespect the gays. But I know for sure we have common ground in keeping our yards maintained so maybe that’s a place to begin. Gosh, it sure has been a warm October so far, hasn’t it?

Stay tuned.





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playing Texas hold ’em with my friend Finn

“Three of a kind does not beat two pair,” my soon to be 8 years old friend Finn said defiantly as he stared at my three 5s and his pair of 8s + pair of 4s while I began to rake our biggest pot of chips for the morning toward me.

I stopped raking. “What did you say?” I asked politely.

“I said 3 of a kind does not beat two pair,” Finn repeated.

I shook my head with authority. “Who told you that?” I asked.

“My dad,” he replied and continued. “He plays poker on Friday nights with men who smoke cigars.”

Apparently my poker playing knowledge was suspect on several levels.

Finn and I were playing cards earlier this week because his school had a holiday and his parents Dave and Saskia did not. They had responsibilities at their jobs at the University of South Carolina and had asked me to look after Finn for several hours. Pretty was out of town on business so Finn and I were on our own.

After starting the day making rice krispy treats that didn’t quite live up to my hype, we watched a Woody Woodpecker movie on Netflix. Finn had seen it several times before and was able to tell me in advance about the key scenes in the movie which removed any anxiety I might have had for Woody and his friends’ well being. I highly recommend it. Woody’s shenanigans haven’t changed one bit from the ones I remembered watching six decades ago. Very fun.

Following the movie, I asked Finn what he would like to do next. I mentioned we could play poker on my iPad which we usually did after his swims at our house. As an afterthought, I asked him if he’d rather play with real cards. He nodded, and we were off and running.

His favorite part of the game before the 3 of a kind controversy was our new automatic card shuffler. He was fascinated by it which meant our cards were shuffled carefully and thoroughly for each hand we played.

“Well, let’s call your dad to see if we can get him to resolve this argument,” I said and dialed Dave who couldn’t answer, of course, because he was teaching.  Hm…what to do.

“Would you believe me if we saw the poker hierarchy on a computer screen,” I said.

“What’s a hierarchy?” Finn asked.

After explaining what the poker hierarchy was, we went to my office computer and I easily found one while Finn hovered next to me.

“Look at this. High card, one pair, two pairs, three of a kind, straight, etc.”

Finn sat down in the seat of my walker, folded his arms, looked directly at me and said, “My dad lied to me.”

I burst into laughter, but he was having none of it. We discussed the situation at great length in all seriousness while I argued that maybe he had misunderstood his dad, maybe it was a different game and so on. Finn continued to shake his head and kept repeating his belief that his father was responsible for his loss of the biggest pot of our game.

Finally, I saw that Finn’s competitiveness wasn’t going to allow the biggest pot to get away so I suggested that on this occasion, since an honest mistake was made, why didn’t we split the pot and go on with our game. Finn mulled the idea over for a few seconds as I watched the wheels spin in that clever brain. He nodded and ran off to the table to evenly divide the chips. No audit necessary.

When his mother came to pick him up, Finn wasn’t ready to go so Saskia volunteered to bring our lunch while we kept playing. Never send Saskia for sandwiches – my reuben was on pumpernickel bread. That bread tasted as nasty as the rice krispy treats Finn and I had made earlier. I forgave her, though. Not even pumpernickel bread could take away the sweet memories of my morning of fun and laughter with my young friend Finn.

Until we meet again, stay tuned.

Finn, Charly and Spike love cake

(photo taken at our house earlier this month)





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