Musing, Uncategorized

Cotton

cotton flower

Several years ago, I was in Nashville seeing family for the holidays. I can’t remember the ends and outs of the conversation but at some juncture, my youngest half brother said something that has stuck with me ever since. He said and yes, I’m quoting here, “We should have picked our own cotton.”

At the time I thought that was the most racist thing I’d ever heard in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I even said as much because I’ve never been one to mince words. He countered with it would have solved a lot of problems. Again, at the time, I couldn’t see his statement was a little bit brilliant. I was too busy being outraged and offended. Hindsight is an amazing teacher.

So, what if we had picked our own cotton? What would that have looked like for our country? Slavery would still have been an issue. It was legal and worldwide for centuries. Hell, it still exists in some fashion with sex trafficking. Although, I doubt it would have been as big of a problem for our country as it has been. The south probably wouldn’t have been quite so geared toward the planter class. Sure there would have still been plantations but they probably wouldn’t have been as big. It would have taken a lot of money to pay all those people a wage instead of buying folks for a flat price and making them work. All of that money shelled out for wages would have kept the plantations smaller. It would be interesting to know if it would have accelerated the industrial revolution. After all, the north had most of the manufacturing while the south was mostly agrarian.

But, what of the subjugation of a whole race? That’s hardly a new concept and the United States doesn’t hold the patent on that behavior. The caste system was around long before the United States was even a dream. Its effects can still be seen worldwide. Forms of the caste system are still alive and well. While not the same as slavery, some can see parallels in the treatment of Chinese and Irish immigrants during the turn of the last century as well as the undocumented and newly arrived Hispanic people of today. The undocumented are often forced to work ridiculously hard, for a pittance and no security. Living in Texas I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard peers say things like “Just go get you an illegal to do that yard work or I have a girl who does my house for dirt cheap and I pay her in cash.” I always shake my head when I hear this. I fear we are setting ourselves up for another group to rise up against “the man”. Just last week we had some concrete work done at our house.  The guy that came out to bid the work and schedule the job was a white guy. The crew that came to do the work was 100% Hispanic. The only person on the whole job that could communicate with us was the lead guy and even that was broken English at best.

What are we supposed to do in these situations? I don’t want to contribute to the subjugation of a particular group of people yet I don’t want to be the asshole that calls up the company and complains.  I don’t know if these workmen are here legally or illegally. It would be wrong for me to assume either way. At the end of the day, I want these guys to get paid fairly for the work they are doing. I want them to have options. I don’t want a particular job or occupation to automatically be for one race or group only. Yet, I feel our society is kinda set up that way. Don’t most of us try to steer our kids away from manual labor type jobs? Let someone else’s kid do that menial/manual labor job; you’re going to college and making something of yourself. Sound familiar?

How can we be part of the solution instead of the problem? I’m not sure. I do a lot of do it yourself but clearly, that’s not enough. I don’t have the skills to do that concrete work.  I did hire a reputable company to do the work but what if they hire people for a pittance.  What if they employ undocumented folks and don’t pay them anything? I’d like to think they don’t but again, I don’t know.  In the meantime, I will mow the grass and clean the house and the hubs and I will continue to DIY projects as much as possible. I will do what I can to pick my own (metaphorical) cotton.

Photo credit: Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

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Musing

Dairy King

There’s an old phrase that says you can’t go home. I, for one, believe it. Being the sentimental fool that I am, I hate to see a change that I didn’t instigate. When one goes home you see how the world has marched on without you – growing and changing while you have stayed the same in relation to that place.  It’s a little bit heartbreaking – at least for me.

This last Friday another piece of my childhood died. No, it wasn’t a person. It was a place, The Dairy King Drive-In in Nashville, TN.  Its original location was walking distance from my house. It served cones, shakes and homemade fried pies along with burgers and fries. Sometime in the 1970s they started serving a meat and three plate lunch every Monday through Friday. I can still taste their cornbread cakes that came with every meal. They came out in these little wax paper sandwich baggies.  They didn’t even need butter as they were dripping with butter or maybe it was grease – but they were so delicious.

The place flooded more times than anyone could count but they rebuilt and kept dishing out great food. Over the years, they grew and expanded to include the original building and an air-conditioned eating space right next door.  When the whole city of Nashville endured a massive flood in 2010 everyone thought they were done for good. But, like a phoenix from the ashes, they rebuilt in a new place where they wouldn’t get flooded again but in the same neighborhood of Woodbine/South Nashville.

Even though I rarely return to Nashville, I still followed their page on Facebook.  Last week, when they announced this would be their last week of business it was all I could do not to jump in the car and drive 14 hours just for one of their plate lunches. It absolutely broke my heart. I have wonderful childhood memories of talking my mother or one of her siblings into taking me to get a cone at night after dinner. When my Granny was sick with cancer their plate lunches were about the only thing she’d eat. To think I will never again be able to get those cornbread cakes in a wax sandwich bag just hurts me down to my soul.

I understand why they are closing. They just can’t make ends meet with all the Covid-19 restaurant closures and the new mortgage from the “new” 2010 building.  As they said in their farewell Facebook post, they cannot cover 100% of their expenses on 50% of their income. I know countless other businesses are in the same boat. Covid isn’t only killing people, it’s destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.

I wish I could do something to help Dairy King re-open/stay afloat but since they have put the business up for sale, I’m pretty sure I can’t. Instead, I will get take out from my favorite mom and pop Chinese or Mexican place. It’s not the same but hopefully, it will make a slight difference to another small business.

Photo Note: I’d love to add a photo on this one but they are all someone else property.  If you want to see what the place looked like just google Dairy King Nashville.  Maybe a local Nashville artist will paint the building before it’s gone. I’d buy a copy of that.

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Musing

Time for a break

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As the kids say these days, we did a thing. We took the great American road to the Gulf Coast and it was glorious. We drove through 5 states and it took us two days although we could’ve done it in one. We passed giant RV buses, pull behind campers and mini-winnies. Nearly every car we passed had a clamshell on top or a trailer hitch shelf carrying a cooler or beach chairs.

I rediscovered things about this part of the country that I had forgotten – the way the marsh smells, cattails in ditches, adorable fruit stands on two lane roads that sell boiled peanuts, tomatoes the size of softballs and molases. I forgot the accents of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  I have a strong Southern accent. No one would ever mistake me for a New Yorker that’s for sure but there are tiny nuances in those states’ accents I had totally forgotten. Every store, and I do mean every store, carries beach goods, towels and sunscreen. Everyone is laid back and rarely in a hurry – from cashiers at the grocery store to the lady cleaning the pool area of the condo.  Servers are about the only people who hustle. What’s crazy is no one seems to mind the slow pace.  

As for the beach, the waves and sunshine were plentiful. Nearly every afternoon there was a 2 pm rain storm. And, there was seafood. So. Much. Seafood. I had forgotten how much I loved eating things that had been swimming in the ocean only a few hours ago.

We laid on the beach and drank beer. We boogie boarded and fished in the marshes and Intercoastal waterway with frozen bait shrimp. One night we played mini golf which jogged our memory. It seems on every beach vacation we’ve ever been on we’ve played mini golf. Go figure that would be our thing as we are not real golfers.

We all stayed up as long as we wanted and got up when we felt like it. The only day we used an alarm clock was on the day we had to check out. Since I’m a horrible sleeper, I usually got up and watched the sun rise over the water. I could easily spend the rest of my life waking up to the sound of the ocean. 

Before we left, I did something I always do every time I go to the beach. I stand there with my feet in at the edge of the water and I stare out into that vast blue horizon. I say a prayer of sorts.  I silently thank the ocean for a great time and for being there all beautiful and powerful. I promise to return even though I never know when that will be. Finally, I close my eyes and just listen for a few minutes while letting the water pull the sand and thus me into the ocean. After a few seconds, I am truly at peace. I have sand and salt water in my veins. I am sure of it. 

Photo Credit: Me

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Musing

Crying Jag

photo of woman covering her face

I cried today.  That’s nothing new. Every since this pandemic/quarantine started I cry about something every few days. I never know what will set me off.  Sometimes its the lack of something, sometimes it’s the feeling of being trapped, others its the feeling that nothing will ever feel normal or an injustice of some sort. Sometimes it’s sheer frustration over everything, all the million little things combined together that I can’t pick just one.  All I know is that I’m so done I can’t take another piece of bad or frustrating news no matter how big or small.

My latest crying jag comes compliments of a podcast by writer Sean Dietrich.  I was listening to his June 5th (yes I know a month late) entry entitled Essays from a Turbulent World.  The first story he tells just got to me. There I stood washing produce I’d just picked up at the store when big ole fat tears started rolling down my face. This guy is the writer I wish I was. He summed up all that I had been feeling in one little essay.

Here’s a link to the episode I spoke of but I invite you to download it on your platform of choice.
https://seanofthesouthshow.com/2020/06/05/essays-from-a-turbulent-world-sean-of-the-south/

Deitrich is on Facebook. He posts a daily essay there that has become my little ritual. Before I begin my day, I sit there on my couch with my coffee and read his essay before I look at my news app.  About a month ago, I discovered he did a podcast reading his essays among other things. He sounds like a Southern Garrison Keilor. His voice is both gruff and soothing and to me embodies a Southern gentleman.  He often speaks of music, fishing, his dogs, good food, manual labor, love, and family.  He pokes fun at things like Southern Baptists and how hell hath no fury like a woman who didn’t get her Tupperware back from a funeral wake.  In other words, he talks about all the things that make the world go round.  He’s worth a look or a listen.

Photo by Eternal Happiness free from Pexels.com.

 

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Rants

Granny

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I want to talk about my maternal grandmother. I called her Granny.  Today would have been her 95th birthday. Ninety five years – that seems like a long time and it is when you think about a person’s lifespan but when you think about time in general, it’s really not.

My Granny was a change of life baby. The last of 8 living children. In fact, the two oldest children had already left home when Granny was born.  To say she wasn’t welcomed would have been an understatement but then again she was because she was another helper in the fields.  You see my great grandparents were sharecroppers and they needed every pair of hands they had to tend to the fields.  Because my Granny’s older siblings were leaving the farm for city jobs and opportunities, my Granny dropped out of school after the 5th grade. She worked in the fields until she ran off to the nearest town and lied about her age to get a job in the lingerie factory where one of her older sisters worked. Granny laughed about making bras and underpants one minute and making parachutes for WWII the next.

One day a handsome full of himself soldier home from WWII whistled at my Granny walking on the other side of the street. She cussed him out for being “fresh”. They married soon after and had six children. Only four would live to adulthood.  My Granny and Granddaddy worked hard to support their family. My Granddaddy was a mechanic and my Granny a homemaker. When my Granddaddy got injured on the job and couldn’t work, she worked in a drug store that had a soda fountain until he could work again. Today we’d call them the working poor and they’d be eligible for public assistance. I was their first grandchild.  I was brought home from the hospital to their house and would live there until I was almost 7. By the time I came along Granny was pretty grumpy. She complained A LOT about a lot of things but she never really complained about her lot in life.  She was proud of how far she had come despite only having a 5th grade education. She had a house that was paid for and not a sharecropper house owned by some farmer.  She would never suffer the indignity her parents had of being put out of their home when they physically could no longer farm the land.  Her living children all went to elementary, junior high, and high school although not all of them would graduate at least they all went.  A few years later her first grandchild would graduate from high school and college – the first in my family on either side to do so.  When she died at 76 she left behind a pretty good legacy. She didn’t go down in the history books for doing great things but she was important to our family.

I told y’all about my Granny to say this – because of Granny and my other grandparents who share similar origin stories, I will never accept the premise of white privilege. When I hear phrases like “your people kept us down” and “your family owned my family” it makes my blood boil.  My family worked right alongside black families in the field working for the man.  My family scrimped, saved, and worked their asses off to get everything they got. Plenty of people tried to keep my family down but they kept trying to climb. One struggle is not equal to another struggle.

Do some people enjoy certain privileges due to social station, gender and/or race? Absolutely, but to lump everyone of a certain race together and make a blanket statement is completely and wholly false. Isn’t that one of the tenants of our current situation? Don’t make blanket statements? Don’t stereotype? Yet nowadays it’s almost a sin and a crime to be white. Newsflash y’all, no one gets to pick their race. No one gets to pick the social status one is born into. Racism has always been. One cannot change the hearts of people. People must change their own hearts. We must treat people – all people regardless of race, gender, or social station with kindness and respect. Until we all start doing our part nothing will change.

Photo Credit: Probably my mother.  This is a picture of my grandparents. I miss them every day.  That tiny head down at the bottom right is me. I was always looking up to them.  I still do.

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Irony

King George, Transcription and a Bit of Light Reading

king georgeWhat did y’all do this past holiday weekend? No wait, let me guess.  If you weren’t blowing up your paychecks with fireworks you were watching Hamilton on Disney+. Am I right? 

We did both and I have to say I cannot get King George III’s lines out of my head. He stole the show. Be forewarned if you haven’t seen it I’m going to do a little spoiling. I know his lines/lyrics are the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda and yes I know King George III didn’t actually say any of those things, yet everything stated was actually true and he could have said them if he’d wanted to. However, the thing that struck me the most is how accurate the words were in the late 1700s and in 2015 when the musical debuted and today five years later. I did a little transcription and I’m going to quote it to prove my point. 

In the King’s second act, he says, “Do you know how hard it is to lead. It’s much harder when it’s your call. All Alone. Across the Sea. When people say they hate you don’t come crawling back to me.” Super ironic considering it seems like the whole world hates America including a goodly number of its citizens. Hate is a very strong word so let’s go with highly disenfranchised for the folks that live here and are unhappy.

In the King’s third and final scene he learns George Washington is stepping down as President and John Adams will take his place. Not only does he make fun of Adams for not commanding the same authority and respect but he also says, ” All alone watch them run. They will tear each other to pieces Jesus Christ this will be fun.” He’s not wrong. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist (Democratic-Republicans) were at each others throats pretty much after the last shot was fired in the war for our independence. The Federalists wanted a strong centralized federal government controlled by wealthy, educated property owners. The Democratic-Republicans wanted a smaller government run mostly by the states.  In a mear 87 years, our country really did tear each other apart with a Civil War.  I fear our country is about to tear itself apart again.  I wonder if other nations are laughing as King George III did? 

In all fairness, it’s really not surprising we did tear each other apart and continue to do so. If you’d like a bit of light reading (tongue firmly planted in cheek) about why it’s a freaking miracle we are still the United States, I invite you to read a couple of books both by Colin Woodard.  The first is called American Nations and the second, American Character.  It’s a deep dive into how our nation was formed and settled by different groups all having their own distinct characteristics they brought from their original homeland.  It’s absolutely fascinating to see how different the Quakers varied from the Dutch that varied from the Scottish and so on and so forth.  

Finally, if you haven’t seen Hamilton go immediately and watch it.  It’s wonderful. History has never been so interesting. 

 

Photo Credit: I have no idea. I searched King George the III free photo and this came up about 1,000 times. It’s obviously a painting by whom I have no idea. It is amazing how much the costuming in Hamilton looks like this painting. Excellent detail.

Lyrics: I quoted lyrics that I transcribed from the play Hamilton by Lin- Manuel Miranda.  As always, not copyright infringement is intended. I do this blog for free. I’m not making any money on it. I’m broke. Don’t sue me.

 

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Musing

Daydream

I have a distinct memory of being on my red swing set in my grandmother’s back yard shortly after the last summer vacation I would have until I became an adult. I was five and about to start Kindergarten. I was day dreaming about going to school but instead of heading off to the elementary school a few miles from my house, I was daydreaming about starting school in Florida. I remember this daydream because it was my favorite one.  It’s the one I’d often revisit when I was sad or in winter when I thought the days of cold, gray skies would never end.  I would close my eyes and imagine walking down 30A to go to a bus stop. I could see in my minds eye the white sugar sand at the edge of the blacktop road. I would imagine walking in that sand right next to the grass. If I tried hard enough I could remember the faint smell of Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil. I imagined if I lived there I would get home from school every afternoon and instead of running to my trusty swing set I would instead head to the beach and play in the ocean.

As I have gotten older my daydream has shifted. I dream of a cute but very humble cinderblock shack across the street or maybe one street over from the beach. Something close enough that I can open my bedroom window and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of waves crashing on the beach. I’d have a shitty job at a souvenir shop or maybe CVS, making just enough money to cover the absolute basics expenses. I might or might not have a car – maybe just a moped or bike. When I wasn’t doing the things I had to do like working, eating, and sleeping, I would be on the beach.

I don’t know if this daydream will ever become a reality or if it will just remain a daydream for the rest of my life. I’d like to think one day it will happen but as recent weeks have shown there’s just no way to truly plan as some things are just out of our hands.  Still, it’s nice to have to goal, a dream, a hope. 

Photo Credit: Probably my Mom. This is me on that last trip. 

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Uncategorized

Amusement Park Love

One of my most favorite things in the whole world is amusement rides. It doesn’t matter if they are at a fly by night carnival in the parking lot of a defunct mall or Disneyland, I love them all.  I think my love for these rides began when my mother took me to the now defunct Opryland in Nashville, TN.  That place seemed like a wonderland. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a city with a major amusement park.  It’s a big and wondrous place as a child, a cool place to hang out when you’re a teen, and a place to relive memories of childhood when you’re an adult.  If you’re lucky you can pass on your own love to of these places with your children.

We currently live within a short drive to a Six Flags park. It’s sort of dirty, several of the rides break down a lot and the people who attend are sometimes pretty sketchy but its better than nothing.

I’ve had the good fortune to have visited many parks over the years.  Opryland, Kings Island, Carowinds, Seaworld, Six Flags over Texas, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags over Georgia, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure all of them wonderful in their own way. But, I have to admit my heart belongs to Disney Parks. I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite.

It has pained my soul to go all spring and now into summer without riding at least one roller coaster. Amusement parks are just now starting to open nationwide. All of them with a myriad of rules to enter.  It’s not just enough to have a ticket or season pass. And, don’t even get me started on the mask situation. There’s no way in hell I’m going to wear a mask in 90% humidity outside. I am fine with wearing them inside in the air conditioning but I draw the line outside when I am at least 6 feet away from someone. All that said, I doubt I will go to an amusement park this year. That makes me incredibly sad. I know it’s a petty problem. I can only imagine how some people would scoff at that. I don’t really care.  Some people are sad about sports, I’m not. Some people are sad about other closures. But, to me, the amusement parks are what’s hitting me the hardest. What little luxury are you missing?

Photo Credit: Me.  Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.  I wish I could time travel and stand in that line again. 

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Musing

Bird Watch

black binocular on round deviceI had a realization today. Do y’all remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about being stalked by cardinal birds?  Well, ever since that post went live I have not seen another cardinal on my daily walks. Not. One. Cardinal. I’ve seen blue jays and robins. I’ve seen tiny finches and other birds that I don’t even know their names.  Hell, I even saw a few vultures eating what appeared to be some squirrel roadkill but not one cardinal.  I find that very strange and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Additionally, some of you will remember Phyllis and George the Mallard duck pair. They seemed to have gone away sometime in May.  We finally got the pool clean and ready for swimming and the pump broke, so we fixed it and then it broke again. When it was finally fixed, here comes Phyllis and George. Poor Phyllis, I think she’s a couple of sandwiches shy of a picnic because right around Memorial day she laid her eggs either in the water or on the deck and they rolled into the water.  She left and we thought she was gone for good. It would make sense that they would migrate by now because it’s hot as Satan’s armpit.  Nope, a couple of nights ago they landed gracefully into the pool while we were eating dinner.  I calmly walked out and told them they could hang out in the yard but not in our pool.  They have tried to come a few times but mostly the cycle is they land, we come out and tell them to get out of the pool and they fly off before they can poop in the pool.  We’ll see how much longer this goes on.

Photo credit: Skitterphoto on Pexels

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Recommendations

Book Review

img_1349A few weeks ago, err a month ago, oh let’s be real no one has a concept of time anymore. How about this – not so long ago a fellow blogger recommended a book that I quickly found out was in high demand at my local library.  I wasn’t completely sure what the book was about but I trusted this person’s judgment on books so I put it on hold.  I finally got it a few days ago and I’ve been glued to it ever since. The book I’m talking about, you ask?  Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell.

It’s so weird. I heard Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame mention Malcolm Gladwell’s name in his weekly podcast, The Way I Heard It.  Then this blogger that I follow mentioned this book. I figured I had to check the guy out. One might look at the title and think oh this is like one of those stupid self-help books that teach you how to put yourself out there.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  This book looks at how we perceive strangers, how they perceive us, and how this perception screws us more often than not.  Gladwell offers case after case to illustrate how humans naturally default to the idea that the other person is telling the truth, how if the words and behaviors don’t match we don’t believe a person and how behaviors in different cultures mean different things.

Some of the cases Gladwell uses are Hitler, the Brock Turner rape case at Standford University and the Sandra Bland Police overstep incident right outside of College Station, TX. Those last two cases I plan to have my teenaged kids read.  Both are very gritty but I feel like my kids need to see both sides presented here in this book. We get far more information about the cases including court depositions that the general public was never privy to.  The Brock Turner and Sandra Bland cases especially made my blood boil and heart sink at the same time. In so many cases in this book you think to yourself, that could have been me in that situation if only the other person perceived me a certain way.

Even though this book was published last year, I found several parts of it to be relevant to our current situation of police overstep. A whole section of the book talks about how policing has changed in the last 50 years and how it has gone from keeping the peace to actually looking for crimes. That little piece of information and how it all got started blew me away.

I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to make sense of some of the things going on right now.  It won’t solve any problems but it will give you another perspective which is never a bad thing.

Completely unrelated, I’ve started a new ritual. In the morning, as I drink my coffee and peruse various media outlets, I always hop on over to Facebook to read Sean Dietrich’s daily column.  Sean Dietrich is a southern writer/humorist. He is the writer I wish I could be. The way he describes things makes me long for the rural southern towns my childhood, food made by old ladies and 30A.  I invite you to google him and discover his work as well.

Photo Credit: Screen capture of my phone while I was listening to the book, Talking to Strangers. This is the cover art for both the print and digital edition. No copyright infringement intended.

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