Monday, December 12, 2011

Deer Hunting

Since I did not kill the animal, and did not have to face it, and did not have to field dress it, I can't say what, if any, revelation might have come from a clean shot and a good kill. I suspect that while I enjoy eating chicken fried deer steak with wild rice*, it would be quite another situation if I'd had to "finish off" a wounded animal.

And I don't know if my stomach would of held up to field dressing one.

But I think that in the coming year, I'm going to take an opportunity to target shoot a little and get myself a little better prepared for the hunt next year.

**That's the only way my Mom ever cooked it.

A Prayer for The Big Family

Lord we thank You again for the privilege that we have to assemble here again this year and this season. Lord we ask You to bless. Bless everyone that’s here, bless this family. Keep Thy hand upon them, and Lord those that are not here in the family You know the reason. Those that are sick we ask You to touch their body. God we give You the praise. We ask You to bless this food and the ones provided it. In Thy name we pray.


Another Family's Prayer

MyFella's extended family has a twice a year dinner that includes all sorts of cousins and in-laws and out-laws. One dinner is during the Christmas season, and another marks what they call "Decoration Day" at the cemetery.

I'll need to look back and see if I've ever done a posting about Decoration Day. The whole concept was quite new to me. But I digress. . . .

The dinner is always pot luck style, and many family members bring "their" dish. Such as MyFella's mother brings a bowl of green beans cooked in her particular style. One aunt of his makes homemade, hand breaded, fried okra. (I got the last of it this year, and no, I did not feel a bit guilty.) MyFella does this odd thing where he tries to prepare an entire meal himself - this year he took a dessert, a pork loin roasted with potatoes and carrots, and a pot of home made chicken and dumplings. Which is aside from the big roasting pan full of cornbread dressing that he indulged me in making just because I wanted to try and make it, and not including the big thing of corn he had intended to cook but forgot.

The event takes place in a community center building rented for the night, and all sorts of relatives are there, young and old, big and small. And it all begins with a prayer.

I thought the occasion deserved remembering the words. . .

P.S. I will not post this until after Christmas, because I intend to come up with a printed and framed version of this for MyFella as a stocking stuffer.


It was maybe about 6:30 to 7a.m. when he looked at his iPhone and said, "It's 21 degrees." And I believed every degree of it. We were sitting in a tent in a cornfield somewhere in Tennessee. I believe I could have, eventually, found my way out of there, but I could not find my way back in without a guide.

My guide was my almost-brother-in-law. Married to MyFella's youngest sister and sibling, he had offered to take me deer hunting. I'm not entirely sure that I had not been almost blatant in my hinting. It would have been simpler to ask outright rather than keep hinting around.

I'm not really sure why I wanted to go hunting. Sometime during the day I confessed to him that I had not been hunting since probably 8th grade, if that. And I'm well into my 40's now. It's been a long time since I've held a rifle or a shot gun. It's been a long time since I've pulled a trigger.

Early morning had found me struggling into layers of clothes including a new set of long johns*, a borrowed pair of insulated camo overalls, and layers of jeans, t-shirts and sweatshirts. If I remembered anything from the hunt, it's the feeling of being cold. I discovered that I can not wear 3 pairs of socks and put on my boots, and I discovered that I'm too fat to add the bundling and then try to bend over and pull on my boots. Once on, they would not come off until I was back home.

I think that just for the experience he insisted on driving the Rhino to the walk-in site. Since the entire way was paved, I don't see why we couldn't take the truck. But I suppose there's no point in delaying the inevitable cold.

Safely hidden in the tent, we took turns with the binoculars. We stretched a little. We looked here and there. He told me not to shoot anything in a particular direction because that's where the prize cows reside, and at $2,500 a head, we didn't want to kill them. I watched the tree line. And I marveled at how-not-too-brutal cold I was - the layers were mostly working. Only a slight chill set in. I was grateful for the little hand warmers he had given me.

I told myself to practice moving in the bundle, so I could be smooth if we saw any. Practice holding the gun. I knew my weakness was years of not doing this. But it seemed a little cheesy to do in front of him.

I thanked him for giving up a Sunday morning for me, and he told me that he believed it was all God's house, and he was OK with it.

And there they were. Three of them. I didn't see them come out of the tree line, but suddenly they were there. He directed me to slowly move into position and put the gun in my hand. I tried to steady myself, to line up the shot. I took it.

I missed.

I was never a marksman or a sharp shooter as my father's son. But there was a time when I was somewhat trained. And back then, I knew when I had missed a shot, and I knew I missed that one. He held out some hope and we looked for blood and looked in the adjoining woods for a wounded animal. But there was none.

But I took the shot.

Somewhere just after the dark, in the dawn, I became a deer hunter.


*I liked the long johns. It had a distinctly Hillbilly feel wearing them. All that was missing from the show was the back door flap.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just Like Us!

Last night I went to a local movie house with friends to watch a fundraiser event of "Make the Yuletide Gay." You would instantly recognize a couple of the cameo performances and a few others you would sit there a few minutes thinking, "WHO is that?" until the person next to you whisper-screams, "OHMYGODTHAT'SSOANDSO!"

The movie was a bit predictable, and adorable, and cute and has some bad acting, some over the top acting, and some really funny acting. Plus it has the obligatory happy-Christmas-ending we were expecting. In short, I loved it.

The interesting thing about me watching indy-gay movies (don't they all look pretty much like they were recorded with a really good home system?) is that I always sit there and imagine me and MyFella in the roles.

Yes, I know I would probably have been more Nathan than Gun. Not that I don't think I'm more like Gun than Nathan, but with MyFella and myself I'm more Nathan. But in real life, I'm definitely more Gun ~ at least in how I try to act when I go home to my parents.

But I digress. I sit there and I think with such a smile on my face how much I enjoy my relationship with MyFella. And I like occasionally to see a portrayal of a 2-guys relationship and think, "THAT'S just like us! JUST like!"

( ! )

and then this morning I realized that I work with a place that has air. The mechanic asked me to wait until the boss is not around, but he'll help me then.

I guess when you're dealing with vehicles that have over half a dozen tires and cost close to half a million dollars, it's not your average gas station air tank.

- Later ~ Yeah, the wand is like 3 feet long and one part comes off and back on, and the on/off switch is a big lever on the wall. I would never have figured it out without his help.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

( ! )

The dreaded air pressure symbol came on my car dash this morning. I hate that symbol, and sometimes when it comes on it catches my attention and won't release it. When the weather changes, it alway seems to come on, and I tell myself to go get that stuff put in my tires, the gas instead of compressed air, that isn't supposed to fluctuate. I hate seeing the symbol, and I hate gathering up quarters, and I hate messing with an air tank thing at a gas station.

And this morning, I literally had the thought, "Oh, it's Thursday. I'll just ride it like this til tomorrow because MyFella is coming to town and he'll fix it for me."

Because, well, I'm like that. I'm not proud of it, but I admit it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Day Outfit

I think I've found my outfit for Christmas Day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Russia lashes out at U.S.

is the Yahoo headline, and all I could think was, "I would so marry Medvedev."

And speaking of Yahoo headlines, did you see that hottie coach whose wife changed those grades? I would be very good to that man.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Honey Buns

My brother just posted pictures on his FB of him with my nephews deer hunting. One caption reads, "Probably not a deer within 10 miles but he's happy." All dressed in camo and orange. In one picture I can see the ladder to a deer stand.

And I couldn't help but smile.

I can remember Dad taking us deer hunting. It was completely wasted on me. I think that, as an adult, I could and would enjoy it more now than I ever did as a kid. As a kid, it was cold (or one trip it was unusually warm and mosquito filled) and dark, and I didn't care much for it at all. What I can remember most is my Dad once lit a fire and heated store bought honey buns over the fire for us. Though I can't remember how he heated them, I'm sure he did.

As an adult, I realize that the smoke from the fire probably made sure there wasn't a deer within 10 miles, and certainly not a one going to come near the smell of smoke.

It's odd the things that I think I would enjoy as an adult for which I cared not so much as a child - deer hunting being just one of them. And now my Dad doesn't participate in them anymore.

So I'm glad my brother has 2 sons that are beaming from ear to ear to be with him while deer hunting.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"It's the most wonderful time of the year. . . "

The back story is I recently moved. I moved into a house in a residential neighborhood and am roommating with a good friend of mine.

So last night I'm at home, the kitchen window is up, and I've just settled down to watch some Hulu when I hear someone out in the yard tromping through the leaves. I get up and go to the window, and the neighbor is stringing Christmas lights on a fence in the portion of her yard that comes near ours.

I've spoken to her across the fence once, so I went outside to say hi and ask about the neighborhood's lights. She tells me that there have been times when the neighborhood lights were so nice that people drove through. Some neighbors are still young enough to put things on their houses and even their roof. Some who are a little older may be doing just yard lights now. But that the spirit of Christmas is still alive in the neighborhood.

Then she tells me about her lights and kind of floors me.

She tells me that G-d woke her up and told her to come out and string the lights on the fence, because He knows that once she gets started, she'll finish the project.

She tells me how the Cross she has strung up is done in red lights, with an extra strand that comes down and pools on the ground symbolizes the blood flowing out of Jesus on the cross and turning into our salvation. That's why that strand alternates between red and white.

Then she points to a tree and tells me she puts lights around it in a circle that goes up the tree and symbolizes "the whole world" and the tree of life.

And she tells me that even candy canes are religious because He tells us "even in our old age."

She further tells me that she believes people leaving Him out of Christmas is the reason "for all those storms and things."

Ooh. It was interesting. Not in an overzealous kind of way. But definitely in an enlightening way. And in a "funny to tell friends later kind of way."

So anyway I talked to my roommate and he has Christmas lights and outside Christmas decorations. He has lived in a house, unlike me whose only been in apartments for years. So I feel confident that we'll be able to fit into the neighborhood for the holiday season.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Come out, come out, whereever you are. . ."

So today, after the funeral of a very good friend, I was standing with two people who (whom?) I have loved dearly for a very long time. One of them I still see regularly and communicate with often. The other, I only see maybe once or twice a year in social settings, and always feel like "We're still friends." And then regret that we don't see each other more often.

So something got us to telling stories, and I was telling one that she had heard before, but was still quite funny, and he had not. And I was doing that "gay thing" in my head where I'm trying to plan each sentence and make the pronouns non-gender-specific so that I'm not lieing, but I'm not using "he."

And then I told myself to stop it. I looked at Sissy, then looked at Ro and said, "This story will be a lot more funny if I use the right pronouns." Then I took Ro's hands and held it while I told a hugely funny story from my . . . more rambunctious days. . . with a gentleman we'll call Parker.

And by using Parker's name and the gender correct pronouns, I went ahead and came out to a friend I've had since 1980 something. Now, he didn't gasp in surprise or say, "I always wondered" or "I always knew." He never flinched while holding my hand. He did, however, laugh to the point of crying with this true life story.

I've wanted him to know for quite a while. I'm not even sure why, no more than I see him. But it seemed important that he know. And now he does.

And he also knows I was once a slut who slept with someone just because they had electricity, and air conditioning, when I did not.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I have so missed you. It rocks to have you back.

Kurt Hummel

For my birthday, MyFella totally surprised me with tickets to see Wicked. Bought, paid for, done. Just got to wait a month. I was in shock. I felt inside completely like Kurt Hummel.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Melody Pond

I wish I could tell you that you'll be loved, and safe and cared for and protected. But

This isn't the time for lies.
What you are going to be, Melody, is very, very brave.
But not as brave as they'll have to be.
Because there's someone coming.
I don't know where he is, or what he's doing
But trust me, he's on his way.
There's the man whose never going to let us down.
And not even an army can get in the way.
He's the last of his kind.
He looks young, but he's lived for hundreds and hundreds of years.
And where ever they take you, Melody
However scared you are, I promise you,
You won't ever be alone.
Because this man is your father.
He has a name, but the people of our world know him better
as The Last Centurion.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Almost like old times."

"It was good to see you out last night. Almost like old times" her text said.

If by "almost like old times" she meant me spending $20 in one dollar bills on tipping drag queens and eyeing the shirtless guys like hunks of meat in front of a wolf, then yes, almost like old times.

And I'd had that same thought as the night went on.

It was a birthday party for a friend, a beautiful young lady who has matured quite nicely from a skinny, irreverent, wild, unsettled child-woman into a curvacious, irreverent, wild, one-woman-woman. The past few years have been good to her, filling out both her body and her relationship, but unable to take the "it's my birthday, let's party" attitude away.

They chose a fairly new gay nightclub in town to which I had not been before. MyFella and I discussed it, as we had planned on having Jamie with us, and decided that since the couple came to my big 40th 2 years ago, one of us should go to hers. Or as he put it the next morning, "I said 'One of us' and you certainly volunteered."

Why, yes. Yes, I did.

I put on clothes that I thought made me look good. I was pleased when the cashier gave me back ones to use. And I marveled at my good luck to being going on a night for not just a drag show, but a pageant. A true pageant on the gay pageant circuit. Beautiful drag queens from all over the South, as far away as Dallas. And that's a fair drive from here. Heck, as big as Texas is, that's a fair drive from anywhere.

Drag queens in costume changes, or rip-off skirts revealing under-skirts that completely change the look of the costume, big wigs, short wigs, colored wigs. One drag queen sang live, not just lip syncing, very well from Indi Arie.

And then here was the birthday party complete with body shots and dirty dancing. And at least one shirtless (not as cute as he thought he was, but cute just the same) guy in the crowd.

Yes, it was a fantastic two hours. I admit it. I love a gay bar. I love a gay environment and a gay atmosphere. I love gay guys and gay girls and dance music and mixed drinks and drag queens.

And I love friends hosting birthday parties. I just wonder if I have to worry about any of me showing up on Facebook later today.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Demons Run

"Demons run when a good man goes to war.
Night will fall and drown the sun when a good man goes to war.
Friendship dies and true love lies,night will fall and the dark will rise
when a good man goes to war.

Demons run but count the cost.
The battle's won but the child is lost."

~ River Song

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gay Again, Gay Again. . .

Last night I went out to meet a friend for dinner. Near leaving, he asked if I would mind meeting two of his friends at a trendy little place I hadn't been to in years. It seemed like a good idea to me, and since he and I aren't especially close, I thought meeting his friends would definitely help with the conversation flow, plus give me a little insight into him.

The whole evening, the entire experience, turned into the funnest little mind-cation for me. An hour and a half of the experiences of the more carefree gays with foppish talk and cold drinks in pretty colors with the taste of vodka.

I told myself in my head, "Enjoy this." It was just a little bit of time, with talk and pictures of ex's and ex's currents, and words like "drama" and "tragic" and "girl." Funny how the passage of time hasn't changed the vocabulary of younger gays on a night out.

My cosmopolitans were over priced. My food was delicious. The two guys I met were darling. And my friend, . . . turns out he's a real person with real life stuff going on.

Now, for the next time out, I just need to find my "dressy" flip flops.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Hitchhiker

So today on my lunch break, I picked up a hitch hiker.

I had taken my lunch to work, but didn't have any utensils with which to eat it, and was getting too hungry. Decided to just go ahead and go buy some fast food instead of microwaving a frozen meal without utensils.

I'm not a half a mile down the road when I come up on this guy walking down the road with a backpack and a rolling duffel bag. It seemed odd, out of place, on this stretch of road that's really sort of an industrial park. And honestly, yes, he was cute. Looked to be about 21, and he looked clean. And I just couldn't imagine why a guy was walking on that stretch of road with a backpack and a rolling duffel bag. He looked like he was struggling with it all.

So I turned around and rolled down my window, "Where are you going?" He said, "The interstate." The interstate is probably not 100 feet from the fast food place to which I was headed, so I told him to get in.

And on the way I asked him where he was headed and he said, "To the Rocky Mountains." So he really was hitch hiking. I asked where he was coming from and he said - - - - - - get this now - - - - - - the town we were in!

So I picked up a hitch hiker who was still in his hometown.

I asked him what kind of people usually pick up hitch hikers (except for guys in four door red Sedans) and he said, "They say people who hitch hiked in their past and truckers."

Then he said it was his first time to hitchhike.

So do you get what I'm telling you? This kid was on his very first hitchhike across country to the Rocky Mountains. And I was the first guy to pick him up, while he was still in his hometown.

So I took him to the interstate and he got out and I wished him luck. I hope his early start on getting picked up is a good omen for the rest of his trip.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


So about a week ago, I was invited to the birthday dinner of my niece, who is going into the sixth grade. “Neice” is someone I adore, and have been close friends with her mother since about ’95.

Today I was having lunch, a rare treat, with her mother, who said, “Niece asked me if you knew that she knew that you’re gay. I told her I wasn’t sure, but she could talk to you about it the next time she sees you.”

Jump back a week to her birthday dinner when I took a look at her hair and said, “Niece. Have you been swimming?” and of course she’s been swimming all summer. And I had to tell her, “You are not a little white girl. You have to take care of your hair. You need to wear a swim cap and put some conditioner on your hair. I know them little white girls don’t, but you need to.”

Jump back to today. Her mother tells me, “She said “He doesn’t act gay until he says, “Girl, you need to do something with your hair!””

As I dropped the Mom back off at her work place for lunch, she said, “I’ll tell Niece that you know she knows you’re gay.” I retorted, “Tell her I’m more worried about whether or not she’s put conditioner in her hair!”

It’s entirely possible I’ve been put on this earth just to help little black girls know they need to condition their hair different than little white girls.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Songs have a universal power to evoke feelings and memories. And sometimes, the oddest memories can finally turn fun, in such a sarcastic way.

Let's call him Tony, just for the purpose of this blog. A friend called me and suggested I meet him, and we did, and seemed to hit it off. A few dates and he even came to my home in my little hometown. I remember once taking him to my Mamaw's house.

I remember going one night after work to the great metropolitan city to see the duplex into which he was moving. Turns out it's about 2 miles from where I live now, and I sometimes see it from the parking lot of a store, and it evokes a quirky memory.

At the time I collected light houses, and he gave me as a gift a beautiful resin light house. And one night he got a beep from work (supposedly) as he was an airline attendant. He drove off, and I never saw him again.

It was an odd passage of time, like 4, 6 or 8 weeks later that a letter came in the mail, delivered in some prepaid envelope marked "over night." The irony of waiting to weeks to send a letter "over night" was not lost on me. He told me he had taken a job in Alaska.

Alaska? I didn't really buy it. And it didn't matter. No return address. No response to any of my calls.

Some years later the friend who introduced us told me that she had run into him on a flight. He had never moved to Alaska. Oh, the shock.

Somewhere in storage is the first card he gave me, that last letter he sent, and the light house. I would throw it all away if it weren't for the trouble it would take to find it.

Alaska. . . geeze.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Biscuis: The Remake

For a while now, MyFella has been encouraging me to broaden my cooking skills away from the two items I have successfully learned how to make: biscuits (taught to me by my Aunt B) and pound cakes (made from my great grandmother's recipe). And at the same time, he's encouraged me to learn how to make biscuits like his father does (a man now 77 who can make biscuits as easily as I can turn on the telly).

So I've watched him a couple of times, and his technique is quite different than my aunt's. He starts with the same ingredients in a similar way (flour, milk and oil) and the mixing process is almost identical, except he uses way more milk than I do. Way more.

After that though, the techniques diverge completely. But I've watched him twice now and thought I could tackle it.

This morning MyFella's niece (who learned from him) supervised while I made them, and I'm quite proud of our biscuits. The best thing is when someone said, "They taste like biscuits." That's what I'm trying to do.

MyFella suggests I use the two techniques to find my own way. Either way, they taste like biscuits. And I like it.

A prayer for Amber

Oh, Amber. I will remember you all the days of my life; whether they be numbered one or one hundred or ten thousand. I will remember the way your family sang you into Heaven. I will remember. I will remember the sound of your mother's voice reading from the bible and the sound of your sister's voice as she prayed. I will remember the smile of peace and contentment on the reverend's face as she clapped. I will remember the day you first came in the store and left your resume. I will remember the bright and shining you on the day of your interview. I will remember you coming back from lunch breaks saying, "It's hot!" and us telling you it wasn't even hot yet. I will remember you saying you had to get a new weave. And hitting your head and the whole piece moving from side to side. I will remember the way you dealt with that super annoying lady and never let her under your skin. I will remember me telling you that you must have sinned over the weekend, because that lady had to have been penance, and you should consider your coworkers the next time you went to do whatever it was you did that caused her. I will remember the way you sqeualed over that young, dark, black man in his military uniform. Oh how you giggled over him. I will remember how you asked me in front of him if you could discount his accessory, and I thought, "Well, you asked me in front of him, so I guess so." And then when he left you squealed and I figured it out. I will remember the way you loved that new phone of yours, and played with it the way a child plays with a new toy on their birthday. I will remember you talking about your sister coming to visit and bringing your cousin for the summer. You sounded so excited to see them. And telling us that, as hot as it is, you bet your sister never left the house. I will remember CJ telling me that you got tired of listening to me complain about the vacuum's cord being so short so you brought me an extension cord. I will remember the sound of your voice and the smile on your face.

I will remember you, whether I am given one day or one hundred or ten thousand. I will remember you, Amber.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father's Day

and in honor of Father's Day, this is the meal blessing my Dad uses for family gatherings and holiday meals.

Our Gracious Heavenly Father, Once again we thank you for this day and for our many blessings and this food before us. Pray that you continue to be with us and bless us in each and every way. Amen

Let Us Pray

For several years, I was a member of a Rotary club in a Southern state. One of the members, a founding member, became over time sort of the unofficial every meeting prayer guy.

The words below are a typical prayer at Rotary as spoken by him.I found myself able to visit the club again this past week, and purposely moved closer to him so I could record it. His prayers are such a part of the Rotary, that I didn't want to miss a chance to get it, to record it, to keep it. The reading of it doesn't quite do it justice. It's best heard, with his tone of voice and inflections. My favorite part is always "touching us with thy divine finger of love." Spoken, it lasted two minutes this week. They vary some from week to week, but the themes are always similar. ~

Let us pray

Our Father in Heaven, we come before Thy throne of grace this Wednesday morning thanking You for life and thanking You for another day. We thank You for watching over us last night while we slept and slumbered, touching us with Thy divine finger of love and enabling us to get up and witness the light of another day. We thank You for life, health and strength. Thank You for the food you placed on the tables before us for the nourishment of our bodies and we thank You, Master, for the hands that prepared the same.

And as we come we pray that You will be with us throughout this day, guiding us and directing us in the way that You would have us to go.
Watch over us we pray Thee as we go about our daily tasks. Take care of us we ask in Thy name.

We pray for our nation, state and county in which we live. We ask the blessings upon the leaders thereof. Help them to look to Thee, from whence cometh all the help ,we pray in Thy name. We pray for our club, we pray for its officers. Endow them with the knowledge and wisdom to lead and direct in such manner as Thou would be pleased. Have mercy upon us, we humbly ask Thee.

Our Father, we pray for our young men and women defending this great nation around the world. Bless the families and loved ones who they left behind. Bless those who are bereaved. Strengthen and comfort them, we humbly ask Thee. And help them to look to Thee from whence cometh all the help, we pray in Thy name. We pray for the sick, shut in and those who are in need of Thee. Just touch them in Your own special way, as only Y
ou can.
Be with us, Father, we pray. Take care of us we ask. Oh Lord, this is my prayer. In the name of Thy Son we pray.


June 9, 2011: Inheritance

My Mamaw is 86 years old. And it’s been an exciting 86 years, not the least of which involved meeting me some 20 something years ago. I was somewhere around 14, 15 when I met her. The grandmother of a friend of mine, who has become “sister to my heart”*, I was instantly taken by her. Now in my 40’s, she has been a constant source of love and support in my life. And I hope that I’ve been the same to her.

As the years marched by, more things have taken place than could be put in one blog. Including a fun, on-going competition among her grandchildren to get her to admit “I’m your favorite.”

On a visit to her home two weeks ago, she gave me my inheritance. She didn’t really know it, and I didn’t expect it. But there it was, more precious than gold and jewels. One of her sons called her, and while talking with him she said, “He came to visit me. He’s my adopted grandson. The first time he met me, he called me Grandmaw. I love that boy.”

* phrase loosely borrowed from the Valdemor series by Mercedes Lackey

June 5, 2011: Yellow Meat Watermelon

When I was a kid, one of the rites of Summer was our yearly visit to Daddy’s great uncle and great aunt in Pope, Mississippi. Siblings of his paternal grandfather, they had, as I remember it, lived most of their lives in, around and near the very land they lived on at the time. A married brother, and just down the road, his widowed sister. My great grandfather had long since passed, but these very tangible connections to him were enchanting and mesmerizing.

Aunt Hattie lived in a newly built brick home. She would cook lunch on the day we came, and my memory recalls my Dad relishing her cooking the way I now relish the cooking of my Mom and Aunt B. I recall she owned some type of sette couch that was antique. I think she said it had been used in a psychiatrist’s office. It had been stuffed with horse hair before she had to have it redone.

Uncle Homer and his wife lived just down the road in a much older home. I imagine they had raised children in that home. Though I knew none of them, and can’t recall ever meeting any of their descendants. Sometimes I wonder about these people that I assume exist somewhere.

Uncle Homer drove an old pick-up truck, and seemed to be “really old” to me at the time. Looking back, I can’t quite determine what his actual age may have been. But he was healthy enough to plant a garden that to me seemed huge.

And he planted the most magical, the most wonderful, the most incredible thing of all . . . Yellow meat watermelons. Uncle Homer would pick a yellow meat watermelon right off the vine and cut it open right on the tailgate of his old truck. The way I remember it, he used his pocket knife to cut the meat out of it. It was delicious beyond anything I’d tasted, and in my mind it was exotic. Who had ever heard of a yellow meat watermelon? Suddenly red watermelons seemed so normal, so average, so “everybody.”

And never since those relatives passed on and I grew up have I seen a yellow meat watermelon. Until today. MyFella picked one up this morning from his uncle, who makes regular runs to somewhere or another and brings back lots of fruits and vegetables to sell. This weekend, he had yellow meat watermelons. MyFella knows I’m looking forward to eating the yellow right out of it. But he doesn’t know why. And that’s OK, too. I know that childhood is childhood and adulthood is adulthood. And I know it won’t taste the way my memory tells me it tasted. But I’m still looking forward to cutting it open and eating it right out of the rind.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kathy Mattea, 2

and just for the record, his FB post from that night, approximately that time, reads, "can you say awkward situation. I am going to need a couple margaritas."

Kathy Mattea

I find that songs sometimes pop in my head after a life event, or non event. Sometimes it's funny, or not, but always something that seems like it's similar to the situation. Maybe it's from a musical, maybe it's from a favorite c.d., or maybe it will be one line of script from a show or movie that will haunt me until I track it down on

In the case of the guy I saw a few nights ago, it's a Kathy Mattea song. The lyrics have been a gentle hum in the back of my mind, reminding me just how much I love MyFella. It's like Kathy herself is whispering to me. Though she's got the story a wee bit wrong. He didn't leave "before I had the chance to let him know." More like we broke up - again. And I certainly haven't sat around wondering him about him like the writer of this song. The part that resonates with me is near the ending. "I saw the one I used to love when I went out today. I said hello,I met his wife, then I was on my way. It may be luck, it may be fate. It may be God's design. I only know it's no mistake that I'm yours and you are mine."

I think Kathy and I could be friends, if only she knew me. In the meantime, I'll take the song. Here's the lyrics to the song:

There was someone I used to love
A long, long time ago
He found someone before I had
The chance to let him know

And every time I tried to get
My heart to close that door
I'd only think about what could have been
And only love him more

I told a friend how sad I was
The fate was so unfair
This perfect love that could have never been
My heart would never share

Not till summer came and went
Did her advice rig true
When I found out my heart was meant
To fall in love with you

We never know what could have been
But looking back we see
What could have been and never
Was never meant to be

I saw the one I used to love
When I went out today
I said hello, I met his wife
Then I was on my way

It may be luck, it may be fate
It may be God's design
I only know it's no mistake
I'm yours and you are mine

We never know what could have been
But looking back we see
What could have been but never was
Was never meant to be

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hauling Hay

Hauling Hay

It seems appropriate to tell you about the experience of hauling hay, since it is the foundation of my 2 year long campaign to own my own horse.

As you know, his family’s rule was “If you own a horse, then you help to haul hay.” Hauling hay was an annual event, kind of late in the summer, when the hay was gathered (bought with sweat) and moved by flatbed trailer to their home and barn. Enough would be gathered to see them through the coming year.

Up until recently, it involved going to a cousin's farm land and assisting him in baling his hay to sell. In exchange, the family got all they needed for their horses.

When the date was set, everyone with a horse was told, and they showed up prepared to watch as an older relative drives a tractor with big rakes that fluffed already cut grass (that's really all hay is, certain strains of grass allowed to grow long). Then another relative drives another tractor that has a hay baler attached to it. This ancient device is fascinating to me. It works entirely on simple mechanics driven by a shaft attached to the tractor. It sucks hay up, pushes and packs it into a rectangle, wraps baling twine around it, then spits it out the other end. It has a rhythmic sound, keeping a beat and going smooth and strong. If the timing gets off, any one within ear shot can tell in a second.

And then comes a truck pulling a flat bed trailer with a bunch of relatives walking along behind the truck, grabbing the hay bales and tossing them onto the flatbed, on which other relatives are standing and stacking the hay bales. Done this way, it takes a whole bunch of relatives, but is much more economical than buying it. Hence the "all relatives that own a horse" rule.

I've partaken in this ritual twice. Once I lucked out and got to drive the truck. I was given the choice of tasks by MyFella’s brother, and not owning a horse, I didn't see the need to do manual labor. The second time, we were called on short notice and the "all" part didn't show up. I ended up teaching a 10 year old girl how to drive her father’s truck and I was one walking behind the truck, picking up hay bales and tossing them on the flatbed. I don't think I was as upset as MyFella feared I was, but I was extremely annoyed at the absence of the "all." But I believe I was fed a steak dinner that night at a restaurant that sits overlooking the Tennessee River with plate glass windows. It's a beautiful sight, and nothing makes me happy like a good meal.

I should admit that I feared grabbing a hay bale with a snake wrapped up in it. I’m not sure if his brother had warned me of such a thing to be safe, or just to scare the city boy. Either way, my eyes scanned each bale before grabbing it.

Add in Southern humidity, 100 degree heat, long sleeved clothes to keep from scratching yourselves with the hay and being eaten up by chiggers, and you’ve got the experience where the closest thing to relief comes in the form of an ice chest that some relative remembered to stock before the task begins. That, my friends, is “hauling hay.”
*Early on in our relationship, long before I had been to his home or ridden on a horse, MyFella cancelled (last minute) a weekend date with me to haul hay. I was none too happy about it, and called the one person in the world I knew who had a horse, and told her I needed her to talk me down. I explained the whole situation, and she said, "Hay is expensive. Let this one go." So I did.

Favorite Customer

I'm having trouble deciding which customer this week was my favorite.

Was it the girl in her summery, flowing dress that smelled of moth balls?

Was it the guy whose breath smelled and wanted to argue with me about changes on his bill, when he had made them after his last billing date?

Was it the guy who just couldn't grasp that the contract goes to each line, and kind of kept repeating himself over and over?

Or maybe the old lady who gave us a phone that had been chewed on by her dogs, and still had dog slobber?

No. I'm going with the girl that walked in wearing white athletic socks and no shoes. She said her feet had gotten hot in her rain boots. Now that's a winner.

"when my world was small"

I knew he had returned to the area, but only through friends. It had been years since I had seen him, years since I had any contact with him, and years since I had cared for any contact. We had long ago gone our separate ways.

And then there was a FB friend request. I ignored it for the longest time. Then a mutual friend said, "When will you accept it?" And I said, "Why would I? We're not friends." She didn't understand, and some people never do. I don't go back. It's not my way. Not to high school reunions, not to old places of employment, and certainly not back to being friends with an ex. It just makes no sense to me.

I've laughed and told people, "I was a lousy boyfriend, mostly because I had never dated, so I didn't know how to be a boyfriend. He was a lousy boyfriend because, well, he was a lousy boyfriend."

And someone would say, "But you loved each other" and I would reply, "In the best way we knew how, we did." Breaking up wasn't hard to do. In fact, we did it regularly, constantly, almost like clockwork. The only thing we did better than breaking up was getting back together.

And then finally, one time, we stopped. And that was years ago.

And out of the blue, there he was last night. Maybe 5 feet away, and just as many years. Had I not known he had moved back, I might not have realized it was him without a second look. I shook his hand. I said hello. I made idle, pleasant chit chat. And then he walked away and I moved on.

Pretty much just like it happened years ago.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bluetooth Devices

I know they're supposed to be safer than talking without them and being distracted. But wearing one without being on a call just makes people look like Uhura waiting to take orders from Captain Kirk.

Hometown Anxiety

I don't know why it happens. But it does. Every time.

This most recent trip to my hometown, I had plans to spend the day, spend the night, and part of the next day. And yet, 3 hours after a pleasant visit with my parents, I was aching to drive back home. I was aching to get out of town before the sun went down and the streets were dark. I was aching to make it back to the bright lights.

I actually left their house and drove probably close to twenty minutes up the highway before I stopped, turned around and went back. I have no idea why. But it happens every time.


Jamie is going to the local hospital today for a cat-scan and ultrasound. He's been telling the ladies at his skill center that he needs to go to the hospital, and Monday night he went to bed early and told MyFella that he hurt. MyFella had noticed that he seemed to be favoring his left side a little, not wanting to use his left arm as much.

So they scheduled an appointment locally with their care provider, who scheduled these tests for today. From there, we'll see if we need to go back to Vanderbilt or whatever.

As MyFella was telling me this, I couldn't help recall the scene in Star Trek: The Search for Spock, when the renewed body of Spock is returned to Vulcan. Spock's friends had done so much to find him, so much to save him. They had sabotaged one ship, stolen another, crossed space and fought with enemies to retrive their friend. They had found him, and taken him home, and near the end of the perilous journey had to climb up a mountain and ask a stranger for help. They had to ask the stranger to save their friend. Spock's father had to ask the priestess for help. And in those words belied a weakness of the father for his son, a father who was portrayed as the pillar of strength, who knew no fear, who controlled every emotion and every thought. But for his son, he would betray his own thoughts.

It's much the same way I feel about Jamie. I don't care what the procedure is, I don't care where we have to take him. I would climb Mount Seleya for him. I just want him well.

"What you seek has not been done since ages past, and then only in legend. Your request is not logical."
"Forgive me, T'Lar. My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned."

- T'Lar and Sarek, on the request of fal-tor-pan for Spock

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rusty . . .

Events such as that make thoughts run through my head before I can control them, before I can count them. They're just there.

The young man sitting a row behind, the mother frustrated, the father seemingly lost in his own concerns.

I really don't know anything, from one aisle over and one row down.

But I know it made me feel. I don't know exactly how it made me feel. I think the English language fails us, fails me, sometimes. But it made me feel. And it lingers with me just a little bit even now.


He was sitting alone on a short aisle of chairs, the seats-fold-down-kind found in most auditorium type areas. He was young, but I couldn't narrow down an age. Just young in that beautiful way that people look when you, the looker, have passed into your 40's. Blonde hair and a lean body. He could have been anywhere between 16 and twenty something.

One row ahead of him and several seats over were three other people, by appearances a father, mother and adult son. This young man was also hard to define by age. His eyes didn't seem to focus on anything. Perhaps blind, or perhaps he looks at everything? His torso rocking back and forth constantly in his chair, his arms seeming to flail in the air. Perhaps to the beat of a tune only he could hear.

The father left his seat for a few minutes, and in that time I saw a moment of frustration in the mother's face. His rocking must be never ending, his arms forever in the air.

And then I noticed the jaw lines, the shape of the two noses. The young man on the aisle by himself, and the other, were brothers. There was no mistaking it.

I leaned over to my right, close to Jamie, and said the same words I've said to him many times before. "I love you so very much. You are my best friend and I love you."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sarah Ferguson

I miss the Sarah Ferguson had that pizzazz and style. And the good sense to have kept this hat off her daughter in public.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

American Mustang

The American Mustang

MyFella and his Dad own about 4 horses, and one of them is an American Mustang, adopted through the Bureau of Land Management’s Mustang adoption program.

It seems keenly patriotic to me to have one of these horses. Theirs, named after a sweet syrup, sired the horse that I normally ride. The stallion is large and impressive. The female I learn to ride on is slightly smaller in frame than her sire. But an impressive size to me.

His family has had a rule about owning horses: if you own one, then you are obligated to assist in "hauling hay" for the yearly purchase of hay. Up until recently, it involved going to a cousin's acreage, and assisting him in baling his hay to sell to the public. In exchange, the family got all they needed for their horses.

I write this to the point that I have argued, having hauled hay twice without owning a horse, that I was entitled to own a horse. And the one I want to own, hypothetically, is a Mustang received through the adoption program. I know, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking of Spock's statement to Stonn, "Having is not so pleasing a thing as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true." And yet, I want an American Mustang. And more properly, I want one adopted through the program, so I know I'm doing my part to save the American breed. (Never mind they are wild, you have to break them, work with them daily, feed them, and all that other stuff.)

My arguments have been met with slight amusement by MyFella, who knows I do not live with him, and hence the task of breaking it will fall on . . . not me. And at some point we will have to pay cash money to a local trainer to break the horse for riding. So much like a child who wants a new puppy, I've been constantly told no. And honestly, probably rightfully so.

But recently, he sent me a link to an adoption date in the Fall in a state and town very near our homes. He said we can drive over on Friday and look at the horses, and if we see one we want, we can go back on Saturday with a horse trailer and bid on it in the adoption auction. Maybe we would win, maybe we wouldn't. But we have to plan in advance by submitting an application for approval, and by having a training pen that meets their specifications. He said this weekend he is going to start work on repairing their pen.

I love that man. Not because he's willing to indulge me in this, but it's a nice perk. I love him. Period.

Some day soon, I may be a horse owner. I just heard all the sequins fall off my favorite Drag gown in protest.

"What Wondrous Love Is This?

www.newcenturyhymnal./pilgrim press

What wondrous love is this, Oh my soul! Oh my soul!
What wondrous love is this, Oh my soul!
What wondrous love is this! that Christ should come in bliss
to bear the heavy cross for my soul, for my soul, to
bear the heavy cross for my soul!

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb who is the great I Am,
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
while millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on, I'll sing on
and when from death I'm free, I'll sing on!
And when from death I'm free, I'll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity I'll sing on, I'll sing on,
and through eternity I'll sing on!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Star Trek continued. . . .

One aspect of Star Trek beloved by fans is the Vulcan world and society, and most every fan loves Sarek and Amanda. Amanda Grayson was played by Jane Wyatt of "Father Knows Best" and she returned for a brief, yet wonderful part, in the feature film Star Trek: The Voyage Home.*

In Journey to Babel, Sarek and Amanda made their debut. The Vulcans, having complete mastery of their emotions, do not show them. But Sarek is married to a human. She is very much emotional.

Their affection for each other is shown in one simple way: the two fingers that touch two fingers. I've searched the internet for a picture of the couple, standing on the transporter pad, two fingers that touch two fingers. Alas, I haven't found it.

But I find it to be a truly wonderful, simple, profound display of affection.

Leonard Nimoy recalled that Mark Lenard and Jane Wyatt came to him for advice on Vulcan culture. Nimoy replied that he had come to believe Vulcans placed great importance on their hands and hand gestures, and suggested Lenard and Wyatt find a way to demonstrate that when on screen. The actors then created the finger-touching gesture seen in the episode. ("To Boldly Go...": Season 2, TOS Season 2 DVD special features) - Star Trek Wiki, Memory Alpha

*I'm still mad over the death of Amanda in the new movie time line.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Star Trek

Sissy and I have a friendship that stretches back to our hometown, and is also firmly in the today and now. We share a love of many things - movie dates, a shared Mamaw, and probably most importantly - Star Trek.*

There was a time when Sissy and I were both avid readers of the Star Trek paper back novels, predominantly the original series, but also the New Generation. We would swap books, and read them, and discuss them as if we had read fine literature translated from Greek and Roman.

We share in excitement when new Star Trek things come out. To this day, I am still deeply upset because her Mother, who I know loves me, bought for her and some boyfriend Christmas presents of the newly released 1991 Hallmark ornament of the Star Trek Enterprise.

Did you read what I wrote? A boyfriend? A boyfriend? Somehow I had missed the ornament in stores, but I did not fail to miss that both Sissy and her boyfriend received one.

Completely sold out, the ornaments were, and now even used ones sell on ebay for seventy dollars. I'm not bitter. But that boyfriend was not even Kitten, our beloved husband. He's some guy that I can't even recall clearly for the thought of HIM owning what clearly should have been MINE.

But as happens so often in my blogs, the Hallmark ornament was not the original point of this writing.

I was setting up the situation of my shared love of Star Trek with Sissy, and deep regard for most anything Star Trek.**

* Most recently we have added the Harry Dresden series of books to our mutual love.

** I admit that I finally couldn't hold interest in the last seasons of DS9 or Voyager.

Church Flowers 3

And this is the result of those efforts. I swear to you, I just about threw my back out with that hunk of masonry from a window. MyFella texted me a picture of the church flowers, full in bloom. I think they're beautiful, and worth the effort digging into the hard soil to release them into my Kroger bag.

I really like the idea that they came from something that is gone now. That all the flowers that were there are not lost. I couldn't save them all, just a handful. But I saved these.

Church Flowers 2

During the process of tearing down the once beautiful church styled building, different people were seen driving up and walking around the building, taking away bits and pieces of this and that ~ masonry, stone, flowers, etc.

I know this, because, well, I was one of them. I put a hunk of masonry in the front seat of my poor little Nissan, and went into Walgreens one day just to purchase an over priced set of garden tools to dig up bulbs from the garden.

I admired the man who was somehow managing to chisel out big slabs of slate that were used for steps, but that was a task more than I could take on. Don't think I didn't consider it.

I would later drive out to MyFella's with my hunk of masonry and my bulbs. I walked out to a spot in the flower bed where he and I work hard to grow pretty things, and I planted them all. He suggested that I should have allowed them to dry for a season and planted them, but the deed was done. And what's done can not be undone. I plunked the masonry down near them and I hoped for the best.

Time passed. And passed some more.

Church Flowers

oh, a year ago, maybe slightly more, a building on Union Avenue which housed a home office for a branch of the Presbyterian Church was sold, torn down, and replaced with the perfect blend of Protestant Christianity and Secular Fast Food, a Chick-Filet.

It was a stunning building that looked like a church from the outside. I thought it was a church, and I'm sure most people did as well.

After the announcement, the ensuing cries and lamentations could be heard all across Memphis, with the loss of the beautiful architecture, to be replaced with yet another fast food restaurant, which seems to completely populate Union Avenue.

To make matters more interesting, the Heritate Commission threw down with a brow beating on the Chick Filet people until they relented and left up one wall of the building, facing Union, and propped it up, lit it up, and turned it into a patio. It created such a horrible traffic flow that the restaurant, already destined to be popular because, well, it's Chick Filet, seems even more busy due to the way they built the drive-through to accommodate the wall.

And this wasn't the original point of today's blog, but while I appreciate that Chick Filet decided/gave in and kept the wall up, and I can appreciate the Heritate Commission's intent, really, to me, the wall just looks sad and pathetic. To me, it's not the tribute to the architecture it was intended to be.

Drive by and judge for yourself.

Monday, March 7, 2011

At the end of the street. . .

I passed them this morning, at the end of their street. Three kids, with backpacks, standing in the cold, I assume waiting on the school bus to arrive. I think they're probably not like me, with the years that separated us - all that society has become. But I suppose it's possible they have similar teenage angst and issues as I did back then. I could have been more like them than I would have imagined, if I could have seen twenty plus years into the future.

For just a moment, as I continued down Biscoe Street, towards the bridge that would lead me to my destination for the day, having spent the night with my parents in my hometown, I allowed myself to . . . glimpse back? To standing at the end of my street, waiting for my bus. I can remember the kids I waited with, can't I? Or can I just remember the sensation of waiting with others, because there were always neighborhood kids. So surely I wasn't waiting on the bus alone. Surely I stood in the cold with the others. At the end of my street.

Twenty seven years, and all that comes with those years, separate me from those three teenage kids. It's an odd juxtaposition for me, seeing them at the end of their street, at the end of what was my street, with all that time between us. I guess twenty seven years and maybe 12 to 15 feet, because I usually stood on the sidewalk just to the North, in front of the brick house.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I saw you today, in a crowd. I glanced to my right, and it seemed there you were, one aisle over and two rows up. On second glance, it wasn't you. But then, I knew it already. He was younger than you were when we met. He was sitting next to a young man I took to be his significant other. But the shade of his hair, a grey sort of like aluminum, the shape of his head, the set of his shoulders, they all made me think of you.

For that briefest of moments, I could almost imagine myself running over behind him and hugging him, and saying, "I've been waiting to see you! I've got so much to tell you. You have to meet MyFella and Jamie. You have to hear about . . ."

But it wasn't you. I said goodbye to you, several years ago now, in Nashville.

But today, I find myself holding back tears all over again. I'm not doing so good a job of it, honestly. Between thoughts of you and the powerful music during the church service, I admit a tear came down. And another fights with me now as I write this.

What was it you said? "But I AM an old queen!" And you were my Great Aunt Ray.


"What makes a miracle? Is it the thing itself, or the one who sends it?"


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Margaret Thatcher

I like a quote that is attributed to Margaret Thatcher.

"Being powerful is a lot like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

I think the same goes for a lot of things one can be in life, and often am annoyed when someone goes to rather showy pretenses to prove they are what they say. Such as telling me, "I'm an artist" or "I'm a singer."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bothered at all by people who are artists, or singers. I'm bothered by this attitude I see in some people who make it a sort of exclamation upon meeting them, and then keep finding ways to introduce it into conversation.

Or in the case of the young lady I met the other night, who seemed very pleasant in all other ways, except her determination to prove to the group, "I'm a singer."

Like when the band took a break, she had to run and ask them if she can sing a song with them. She returned, not dejected with her denial. But instead determined to sing along at the table with every song they sang after, often making comments about the original singer.

Really, honey, give it a break.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The adventure, the experience. . .

I hope in the blogs below, I did a good job of capturing the experience that I shared with my friend, without encroaching on the private matter.

I've felt, many times, that there are some cultural differences between blacks and whites, and they often serve to show us how alike we are, not how different.

Much of my experience had as much to do with the Delta in the South - a place where you can still find a shanty of a house on a dirt road, with children playing in the dust up of a yard. It's the same house that has a DirecTV dish attached to the side. Somehow, the family can't afford a better home, but they have satellite t.v.

I hope my words captured some of the beauty of the service, and some of the humor, and some of the sorrow. Mississippi Highway 61 is a very long road, and this church could be anywhere along it. So I feel the family is quite anonymous in this aspect.

Should your life find you driving down an odd highway that has been there as long as the land has been called a State in the Union, keep your eyes open. There's no telling what you might see.


a poem taken from my church's bulletin this week, by Dorianne Laux

Someone spoke to me last night,
Told me the truth. Just a few words,
But I recognized it.
I knew I should make myself get up,
Write it down, but it was late,
And I was exhausted from working
All day in the garden, moving rocks.
Now, I remember only the flavor-
Not like food, sweet or sharp.
More like a fine powder, like dust.
And I wasn't elated or frightened,
But simply rapt, aware.
That's how it is sometimes -
God comes to your window,
All bright light and black wings,
And you're just too tired to open it.


The repass wasn't so new to me, as I was pretty sure it would be much like the way white people do it. The biggest difference is in the name. For white people in the South, or at least in the Delta, there is no one-word name to the event.

"There will be a meal at the church afterwards." If the deceased was a church member, it is probably held at their church. If not, then some significant family member's church may offer to host on behalf of their bereaved member. There's usually no shortage of ladies who take great pride in laying out all the food. Some of it may be gathered from relatives homes, other dishes delivered by church ladies who are on "the bereavement committee."

But, new to me, black culture has a word for the event: Repass.

In either case, this event is about LIFE, not death, where family and friends gather and share stories...they catch up with each other, they point to their significant others, they yell at their children to slow down running in the building, and they decide just what dish is worth breaking their diet.

I was one of two white Mike's, with another cousin who also chose to bring along a White Mike for the day. I think we both found it slightly humorous. His lady friend was as lovely as mine, though cut from a completely different cloth. And with a personality that would not be stopped. Formidable, strong, and hungry. I caught her at one point standing over a garbage can eating a ham hock with her fingers. I can't even tell you exactly what a hamhock is, but she had it. My lovely would laugh and tell me "She stood in line saying "I've got to have that hamhock!"

Fried chicken, chicken wings, a big pan of homemade cornbread dressing with chicken in it, baked macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, black eyed peas with pork and green beans in it, pork chops. . . just to name a few. One of the ladies working the table asked me, "Would you like anything else?" I replied, "Yes, ma'am. But I'm gonna come back after everyone else has come through." Because I had a plate full of fried chicken, dressing, black eyed peas and macaroni and cheese. I also had a saucer with yellow cake topped with caramel icing. It tasted handmade, but from a mix. And to me, that's fine too. I ate every bite and scraped up the caramel icing. *

Relatives hugged me. Me? As if I were one of them, gentlemen would hug me and thank me for coming. I suppose, for just that afternoon, I had been one of them. I had seen the beauty and mystery of their family, and briefly shared in their sorrow and their joy.

I pointed to a lady that I had determined was responsible for the preacher, and my Lovely went to speak to her about his use of the term "hooker."

"Oh," she said, "there were some hookers in the audience. He couldn't call them out, but he wanted them to know that he knew they are hookers."

We were both stunned.

She said that their aunt had asked for him specifically, and she just carried out the wishes, didn't judge them. She knew somewhat how he would be, by reputation, so she wasn't really surprised.

I told her that I wasn't surprised by the tone of the service, having grown up in the Delta, but I had been surprised by his use of the word hooker. I said, and pointed to Lovely, "She started shifting on her butt cheeks and I knew she was ticked off."

Family members were changing clothes, either close enough to home to have done it on the way, or changing for their inevitable drives home. Pictures were being taken. Women gathered at one table near the now-matriarch of the family. Men of a certain age gathered like a herd in another portion of the room. And in between groups clicked and pulled metal folding chairs and held babies . . . and went back for the hamhock. . . or in my case the real cheesecake.

It's a very natural order of life, not at all specific to blacks or whites. It's one of the things that defines us as humans, as all the same, even when we seem different. Life went on, just a few minutes later, it was all over, and life went on.

* I purposely spooned my dressing to get some of the golden brown crust. I love the crust portion, when done right. And this full of flavor, crunchy and moist. It was amazing.

Definition: Repass


Repass", or the gathering, occurs directly after the burial or burial ceremony has taken place. Sometimes held at the home of the family of the deceased, more often it is held at the deceased’s church or some other civic building if the deceased has no church affiliation.
This meal allows the family time to catch up on each other’s lives. While funeral services provide the more formal rites of death, the repass “demonstrates the continuity of life even in the face of death.”
Repass will be held in the basement of the church.
by next1up Jul 21, 2004 share this

from Urban Dictionary


Somewhere in the Delta, down Mississippi Highway 61, is a little town that is trying hard to keep itself clean and up, when it looks like it has become not so much a town anymore, but perhaps a residential neighborhood. . . nothing that looks like a business, or businesses anymore. The train depot, probably constantly busy 50 years ago, is a weather worn, boarded up wooden building. I caught a glimpse of it and yearned to find the owners and beg them to let me in, to let me walk through the small building and see if I could feel the rumble of the trains and hear the voices of passengers lost since forgotten.

We made our way following car after car to a gravel road, and in the year 2011, we passed shotgun shacks. . . weathered, looking very drafty and worn. . . crooked even on their foundations . . . with DirecTV dishes attached to the side. . . tiny porches. . . a truck and two men talking . . . and on one porch, 3 children playing. They stood as we drove by in the funeral procession, smiling and waving.

The lovely next to me said what I was thinking. "Its' 2011. Those children live in shacks."

Who would have thought? It was a surreal experience, driving past them in a rental car, down a dirt and gravel road, with them playing on a porch that was probably not six feet by two feet.

A church sat in the distance, looking for all the world as if it were abandoned. A cousin walking up told her that this was her Daddy's church, where he went as a child. I saw 3 tombstones, fairly new, sitting right by the gravel road. And then we walked across mud and stepped into a path cut through dead grass that stood 6 feet tall. The tractor was parked to the side in the grass, and all around us was dead, white grass six feet tall.

Approximately 20 feet in the view opened to a farm field, and an extra swath of grass cut down for the tent and chairs. Within 10 feet of the new gravesite was wrought iron, twisted and rusted, laying on the ground, almost unidentifiable, if not for the finial tops. A tiny tombstone laying down on the grass gave the date 1916.

I could not find signs of an organized grave yard. I wondered if there were other graves hid in the tall grass. It was the most . . . forlorn . . . lonely . . . plot I have seen. Things didn't seem to match - a baby's grave from 1916 next to a new plot from 2011. . . head high grass, next to a farm pasture, living people who would have been in sight of a church that seemed dead, if they could have seen the church for the too tall weeds.

She would later tell me that there is another portion of a cemetery on another side of the church, she, too, didn't understand this separated plot.

I wanted so hard to try and take pictures to capture the emotion of the grass, the church, the gray sky, and the children playing on the shanty of a porch. But even the thought of a picture seemed intrusive. And I feel my words fail at capturing the remoteness, the out of touchness of this place. Somehow lost in the time that the Delta should have moved past.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Service, The Eulogy

I wish I could remember the names of the songs, because in a lot of worship services, the songs create the service as much as any other part. The songs lay the foundation for the energy and mood of the service. What I discovered is music is layered into every aspect of the service, with the piano player and the preacher creating some type of symbiotic relationship where his every sentence is punctuated by musical tones. I couldn't help but find myself wondering if they practice this style of oration, or if there are some set rules that the preacher speaks in rhythm and the pianist punctuates them. I was fascinating to watch and listen. The preacher smoke in a Captain Kirk like rhythm, but with more ! and piano chords struck at the right intervals. It's hard to describe, but easy to understand, I think.

The programs are printed on larger paper than for a typical white person funeral in this area, more than just the one paper folded, and detailed as well. A color photo of the deceased adorns the front, and an inside page holds a collage of photos. Aside from the normal things to which I am accustomed, such as a reading of the survivors, a eulogy, and perhaps a congregational song or a solo, the itinerary includes a few extra items. The itinerary includes an acknowledgment to every card that has been sent from the family, a scheduled time for attendee's to be able to speak about the loved one (limit yourself to 3 minutes please), a moment for words of encouragement, and the name of the program leader, a sort of mistress of ceremony.

The mistress of ceremony welcomes everyone, speaks about the homegoing service, explains her connection to the loved one through friendship with several neices, and reads all the acknowledgements. . . and is just beginning the words of encouragement when she is interrupted by one of the preachers.

"I'm going to interrupt. I don't mean to be rude, but my name is on the program, so I can do that." My beautiful one next to me shifts in her seat. He then introduces another preacher sitting in the pulpit and asks him to give the words of encouragement. *

The entire service carries this tone, one of religious fervor, mixed with sorrow and joy, through solo performances and congregational songs. The words of the first pastor, when his time to give the eulogy comes, seem heavily laced with pomp and arrogance. His words seem more about him being heard, than the loved one being heard about. His words punctuated by the piano player seem an odd mixture of song and dance to one who has never experienced this first hand, only heard about it in lore and legend when elder white people would say they "went to a black funeral."

"My Moma always told me to be the best you can be" he said. "If you're going to be a liar, be a good liar. If you're gonna be a hooker, don't be a cheap hooker."

The beauty next to me shifts again and says in barely a whisper, "Did he just say hooker in my aunt's funeral?" Yes, he did. The rest of the eulogy carried on in this grandiose fashion, with the preacher not just behind the pulpit, but "on the stage" and performing. I tried to listen to his words, hoping for some message, but found myself overwhelmed by the theatrics of it all. A gentleman two pews ahead of us stood up, turned around and yelled, "Yaw aren't going to Heaven!" and sat back down, then a minute later repeated the action.

"Yaw aren't going to Heaven!" he admonished everyone from his pew on back, as if he deemed to know us all, or perhaps because he did not know us, we couldn't be on the "A list" for Heaven. I didn't take it personally. I had, after all, wanted this very experience. I kept my eyes and ears open, trying to absorb every detail, every moment, so that I could relive it again and again. I tried to determine the rhythm of the preacher's speech, and keep count with how many bizarre statements he made, tried to notice when he actually spoke about the deceased, and watched with wide eyed wonder at the frenzy that passed across the face of a lady in the choir loft, and a distinguished looking lady one pew behind me. **

And then, as quickly as it all rose to a fevered pitch, it was over. Relatives came to the front to gather the flowers and the coffin was led down the center aisle to the waiting hearse. The congregation flowed out in an orderly fashion.

Family gathered and hugged and made the way to cars for the procession to the burial a few more miles down Mississippi Highway 61.

*In society in general, I often find it odd when people excuse their rude actions by saying they don't mean to be rude. And I am displeased with myself when I do it too.

** She was quite lovely, with "good hair" that was an exquisite shade of grey, perfectly accented by a stylish black dress and coffee with cream colored skin.