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

Standard
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.

Standard
Musing

Time for a break

img_1447
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

Standard
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.

 

Standard
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. 

Standard
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

Standard
Musing

Red bird

orange bird on black metal bar

I am being stalked by Cardinalis cardinalis aka the Northern cardinal. Okay, well maybe stalked is a bit of an exaggeration but not much. For months every time I go on a walk or look out my back window there’s a cardinal looking at me. And, I’m not gonna lie, I’m a bit creeped out/freaked out by it. 

It’s gotten so ridiculous even a girlfriend mentioned it one day when were one of our walks.  She said, “I wonder if that bird is here for me or you.” I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at her.  I couldn’t believe she believed in the legend of cardinals too.

For those who are completely in the weeds, not knowing what I’m talking about, cardinals are believed to be spirit messengers. The word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge or axis. Which leads me back to what my friend said, I wonder which one of us that bird trying give a message.

I haven’t asked my friend if she’s being stalked when she goes on her solo runs or if she sees the birds in her back yard too. I ought to ask her.  In the meantime, does anyone know how to speak Cardinal and do you believe in the whole cardinals as messengers thing?

Photo Credit: Josh Fackler on Pexels.com

Standard
Musing

Space Cowboy

architecture dark dawn duskI have a vivid memory of waking up early to sit on my grandmother’s pea soup green Naugahyde couch so I could watch the first shuttle launch in April of 1981. I was six years old. My Grandmother believed if God had intended for man to fly he’d give us wings. I knew better. I knew he’d give us the brains to get there and I wanted to go. When I was 6 years old I still believed I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t yet know I absolutely sucked at math or that I’d fail algebra twice and just get through geometry by the skin of my teeth. I genuinely believed if I wanted it bad enough I could be an astronaut too one day.

A few years later, in January 1986, I happened to be home on a snow day. Of course, I was watching the first teacher in space take off on the ill-fated Challenger. It broke my heart when it exploded a few seconds into its flight. I remember not only feeling sad for the loss of life but fearful the program would be over. When the program did get scrapped in 2011 I was sad but not surprised. The Space program costs a lot of money. And, like most government entities it was full of pork and ridiculousness. My brother in law, an honest to goodness rocket scientist, worked for a Nasa contractor when it all went down. The stories he used to tell of the way Nasa was run, the inflexibility of the program, etc. why it’s no wonder the program ended.  It’s hard to make history and be innovative if you aren’t willing to take risks and think outside the box. 

Today, Space X in collaboration with NASA is launching a manned rocket into space again. It’s groundbreaking because NASA made a deal with weird AF Elon Musk and purchased passage from a private space exploration company instead of building their own rocket. I’ve been watching the preparations off and on since about noon today. In fact, I had live coverage blaring in the background as I was writing this today. And, I just heard the flight is being rescheduled due to weather. It will take place this Saturday, May 30.  I know what I’ll be doing on Saturday. I just wish I could be in Florida to watch.

Photo Credit: Space X free on Pexels. 

 

Standard
Musing

ADHD

white and blue crew neck t shirt

At least once or twice a year I come across some article written by some person with a host of letters behind their name claiming ADD/ADHD is made up, not real and just another way for drug manufacturers to bilk us of money.  To say these articles piss me off would be a gross understatement.  Imagine Hugh Jackman as Wolverine when he busts his claws out.  Yeah, now you’re getting how I feel about those articles. But, before I get myself all worked up, let me talk more about why it gets me worked up.

Almost everyone who knows me, knows I have ADHD. I have never made it a secret and I often poke fun at myself for my disorder.  I have had it since childhood although I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was an adult. As a kid, I was the wild, impulsive, talkative, smart but bad kid. I was super disruptive and a little combative. I had cute on my side but that only took me so far.  Most of the time it ended with me being grounded (rarely) or with a spanking (typical).  As I got older,  I developed some coping mechanisms and I naturally possess some personality traits that enable me to help cope better than others but my symptoms were always the elephant in the room.  Even though the condition ADD and ADHD has been used since the early 1900s – yes you read that right the early 1900s. It didn’t get a lot of attention until the 1980s and then it was generally your completely over the top out of control cases and almost 100% of the cases were boys.  For the longest time experts thought only boys could have ADD or ADHD.

Fast forward to the 2000s and everyone you know is on some kind of medicine for their brains.  Everyone knows someone who takes medicine or has a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, bipolar, ocd, autism spectrum, etc.  For some reason, no one blinks when all those other issues are treated with medicine but the minute you mention medicine for ADHD half the people in the room will break out their armchair quarterback medical license. So yeah, I get a little Wolverine about it. Imagine if you will that your brain is constantly saying the following when someone is speaking to you.

Ah, yes cool topic. Okay, okay I’m following you. Oh that reminds me of something. Wait your turn, wait your turn, focus, listen, don’t interrupt, wait your turn, focus, don’t interup, wait what were they saying I stopped listening to think about something else, oh my gosh what are they talking about now, I must have zoned out.

Yeah, that’s my brain nearly every time someone speaks to me. It’s frustrating for both the speaker and me.

People are really hating being away from others right now.  I can’t say it’s bothering me that much. My brain doesn’t have to deal with as many people in my head.  Incidentally, I wonder if I start doing what that lady in the picture is doing if people would stop talking until I get my thoughts in order.

P.S.  I kinda took the lazy route this week. I’ve had the bones of this entry for a while. I have something else brewing but I’m finding a hard time organizing my thoughts.  Pretty hilarious sense this is all about my brain working differently.

Photo Credit: Atul Choudhary on Pexels.com.  

 

 

Standard
Musing

Changes

autumn autumn colours autumn leaves blurI’ve been thinking a lot about changes. In nearly the blink of an eye, our lives have completely changed. We are working and schooling at home.  We are cooking, cleaning and doing our own yard work instead of hiring it out.  We have resorted to cutting our own hair.  Frivolous spending has drastically dropped off.  We are faced with shortages at stores either due to demand or due to genuine shortages in the food delivery systems.  Up until March, the only people you saw taking a walk in the middle of the day were fitness nuts and old people. It all happened so quickly yet right now things aren’t too different from the life of our grandparents and great grandparents lived.

Less than 100 years ago no one used to work out. We got our workouts from walking places instead of driving. Our work consisted of more manual/physical labor and less sitting around.  Our food availability was not as streamlined and interconnect as it is now – much to our detriment in this pandemic.  People were skinnier.  If your garden or farm didn’t grow, you didn’t eat. If you were out of a job you didn’t eat. There was no government welfare system. There were soup kitchens and poor houses but no one was getting three square meals a day.  It was just enough to keep you from starving.  We didn’t see a therapist or talk about our feelings.  We didn’t have as many diagnoses.  People just died.  We didn’t have less cancer or less autism we just didn’t diagnose. Well, John just up and died yesterday he’d been looking bad for 3 months oh well.  Pets lived outside and ate scraps. Now there are people on the internet asking about daycare and enrichment programs for their pets. True story, I saw a lady asking about enrichment programs for her corgi on our neighborhood Facebook group right before this pandemic hit.  Are you freakin’ kidding me?  There are still children out there with crack head mommas that can’t bother to feed them and yet some bougie ass lady is worried about her dog.

Now that we’ve pretty much been stripped of everything non-essential and for God only knows how long, I wonder what we will keep and what we will let fade away when this pandemic is but a horrible memory.  Will more schools be held online? What about work? We’ve proven that so much can be done at home. What about the people everyone used to ignore – the grocery store and warehouse workers – the ones keeping the wheels turning right now. Will they get paid more and be shown a little more appreciation?  Now that folks see that life does exist outside of being busy all the time will they slow down? Or, will we be forced to slow down because of economic restrictions?  With so many people laid off will life change because no one can afford to do anything? It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Personally, I wish I had a crystal ball. All of the uncertainty is making me anxious. I’ve realized it’s not the change that bothers me. It’s the fear of the unknown. Will the change be a good change? A tolerable change? Or, will the change be something we have to grit our teeth and slug through to get to the good outcome?

Photo Credit: Free from Pixbay on Pixels. 

Standard