Sunday, November 27, 2016

Being on the right side of history.

It's going to be a busy week. My sister is coming home from rehab from her stroke this Friday. She was ready to come home four weeks ago. I am busting my butt to get things ready for her to come.

It's one of those things where I'm doing what I should have done long ago. So when it is done, it will be wonderful. Meantime, I'm miserable. So I'm getting this blog post written early. Although today is the magical day where I can unload the rest of the garage and it will happen; the morning is mine until 11 am. Then I get busy. 

I've always enjoyed Sunday morning television. I also love Saturday morning but not as much as Sunday. I used to like the televised church service. But the new preacher spends way too much time talking politics instead giving an inspirational homily. I know the congregants probably enjoy it otherwise they would choose another pastor. With my vow to not discuss politics, I know how much it permeates our thought processes. 

I don't give up on my blog in that it is my commitment to continue writing. When your life becomes heavy with responsibility and taking care of people, it is hard to think of good topics to write about. There is not much time to think. Care giving is not the most cheerful topic either. It is also not that kind to overshare about your family. No one chooses to be incapacitated. No one chooses to be the caregiver. 

With my two easiest topics out, what do I write about? 

I guess I'll be busy looking at prompts offered or write what I learned new.

This week I have been reading about Hazel Bryan. She was the 15 year old captured in an iconic photograph shouting at Elizabeth Eckfort attempting to go to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Many people would have tried to minimize or excuse their conduct as being part of what was going on. Hazel felt guilt and apologized to Elizabeth. She has spent a great deal of her adult life trying to help people regardless of race or creed. Later, she helped Elizabeth who has had a difficult life. They became friends and then fell out with one another. It was too big of a divide.

I related to Hazel in that I think we have all been hateful. Hers was a predecessor to the modern day public shaming on social media. Her face has been memorialized as the epitomy of the hatred. Her parents moved to a rural area after the picture. The shame was recognized by her parents then.

I'm glad the civil right's movement has progressed as far as it has. I remember those days before integration. We had several small private Christian schools created in response. As a public school teacher, I question the quality of these schools. I don't think it helps a child to shelter them from outside views. When they learn the truth might not be what they were taught, it creates doubt.

But when I look at the pictures of the protestors, I recognise them. They are for the most part decent people who were just wrong. They also stood on the wrong side of history and I could have been one of them if I were of that era.

My dad always quoted the phrase "Except by the grace of God, there goes I".

One of the ironies is that Hazel and her fellow students dealt with the discrimination of being poor whites which probably help fuel their outrage.

I feel shame for the people in the photograph. I also see their humanity. We all wrestle with. I'm not being an apologist. They were just wrong. They weren't the first and they certainly will not be the last.

Little Rock integration protest
By John T. Bledsoe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Kids are In Charge

All through the house
Sighing as they grouse
Clean here, clean there,
Aunt Margie will care
Don't forget to vacuum the dog's chair.

Who put the frozen turkey in the fridge?
Mamas in the car crossing the bridge.
She wants that thawed turkey in the sink
All I see is fifteen types of fruit drink.
Oh this really stinks

Look in the freezer sis
Old tom turkey we just can't miss
Hey put the ham in a pan please
Turn on the oven to 325 degrees
What do you mean you only see peas.

Let's heat up the leftover pizza
Before we have to share it with Lisa
She can look again in the deep freeze
Mom always listens to her pleas
Hey don't hog the cheese

We could cook the rolls
And pile them high in a bowl
Mom would be pleased with that
She'll smile like the Cheshire cat
Or think oh rats

The rolls would get cold
Lets put that thought on hold,
I hear the wheels of the car
What happened to my candy bar
Mom is not far.

Mom is home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I am the editor of a newsletter for a writing group filled with published authors of several books. Although, I have not finished a book much less worried about getting anything published, I find myself giving tips on how to market books.

My latest tip is to create a press kit. When you first start writing, you pick up books that tell you how to sell that book. You find yourself in the sell mode with a little bit of crap to market. Then you begin to read about the craft and you work on that crap and most of it continues to be crappola however much you search for that jewel in the rough.

This is one of the reasons I can speak with authority. I read a lot of marketing your book before I figured out that maybe I should avoid that sort of book and look for one that only had exercises on how to write better. Thankfully I started a blog and have improved just by writing it. What started as platform building was actually a springboard to meeting people who do write. I don't regret that I spend more time reading than writing. For one thing, they pay about the same.

But back to creating a press kit, I recommended a flattering picture. I've noticed if people are young, they and their big teeth are grinning in their pictures. With some age, many opt for a picture of an intelligent walrus or other branding figure. I plan to put my high school graduation picture out. I've changed a wee bit, well a lotttttt. But who actually chooses a book by your picture. Come to think of it, my high school picture could date me.

A second item would be a biography. This is incredibly tough for me. I'm a person who has spent my life wanting to blend into the wallpaper. In school, I never volunteered to answer a question. As an adult, if I saw the boss in the hallway, I slipped in my classroom, another hallway, restroom, library. Out of sight, out of mind was my thinking. The Japanese have a saying that the nail sticking out is the one that gets hammered down.

I exaggerate, moderately. I'm just one of those people who wanted to be liked and accepted. As I have grown old, I see where so many people I felt I needed to impress were not people to worry about. Some of the greatest people I have ever met came in and out of my life quickly and I did not know it.

Below is my tentative biography in the first two paragraphs. Give me any tips on how to improve it.

"Ann Bennett received a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Masters in Education from Georgia Southern University and a Specialist in Education from State University of West Georgia. A native of Georgia her father's family is descended from the original white settlers of Georgia, Ann grew up in the International City of Warner Robins, GA which grew in the shadow of  Robins Air Force Base. 

Ann worked several jobs but her career was teaching school. She spent roughly 32 years teaching science primarily to sixth, eighth and high school students. Her last job was as a coordinator for a science non-profit which essentially entailed doing school programs that ranged from Pre-K to Twelfth grade in a five county area of Central Georgia. Ann started writing as a pastime to alleviate the struggles with her second and most important career as a care giver."

The following paragraphs are disclaimer to comments I have received.

None of the characters she writes about are her, happened to her or someone she knows. She would never use the name of the mean people she has dealt with in life. More than likely, a very nice person would share the same name. Plus, we all can be mean at times. Some more than others.

You live a life you meet a lot of people. When watching television, you recognize some stories from the news are woven into that week's crime of the week for a down and dirty crime fiction show or a sweet cozy mystery.

Well yes, someone can be the base of a character but little more. In a current story, there is a former Goth girl from the nineties who becomes a internet world building nerd. There is much more to the story. The woman is based on a random woman's obituary and so many kids who dressed like Goth's. It is just a probable life story based purely on imagination.

The third item is where can your work be found.

All of my work is on jump drives. The first items I may publish are science education booklets. They have been finished for years. I sat down to work on them and started writing fiction.  It is not a pretty place where the muse woke; but, I'm running with it. I have not been hellbent on being published. For one thing it is a time consuming process. The people I take care of basically determine whether I will be free or not.

But yes I have that fantasy. I make a lot of money. People quote me. I get called up and asked my opinion on the world news. There is always a surreal comic element when a fiction writer gets asked about a tough news story they only write about. Add to that that anyone would care what a 60 something woman had to say.

Last of all I spend the remainder of my life on a cruise ship with my dogs in tow. Everybody I have ever loved will be on the boat. Plus, I make enough money to build decent housing for mentally ill women. They don't have to live in a four beds to a room group home and share a small toilet and shower. They can have their own room with a walk in closet and get their nails done like everyone else.

The fourth item is an active link to where your work can be purchased. At this point, everything for public consumption is on my blogs. I thought of loading all my work on blogger to be published in the future. If I die, my work could still be eventually published. But right now, I'm still at the rhymmy dimemie stage of writing. The world will continue to turn without my stories. And yes, I don't do a great job cleaning up my grammar and syntax.

Cheers folks. If you need an expert opinion from someone who probably does not know the answer. Send me that question. I'll answer or write a nice piece of fluff that no one should do at home. Take care.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Zealots are us

I had a good comment on my last blog post which was that people on one side of a political argument usually consider the other side a zealot. I have a fear of being opinionated. Besides making yourself obnoxious, it makes you old. It is a limited mindset.

Many hard-core Republican friends of mine are not going to vote for Donald Trump. I understand how they feel. I am usually a Democrat. I have called myself an independent; but, I have lately voted Democrat. But if the Republican is a better lawmaker, well I am voting for them.

I'm a hypocrite of sorts. Where I live a white Democrat is a minority. I keep my politics quiet in that my lawmakers are Republican and they are who I have to work with if I have a problem. Fortunately, I have not got a problem on that scale. Add to that, most of my white friends vote Republican.

For the record, I agree with anyone in my mother's age group without hesitation. I would do this with a stranger.  I do all the required nodding and grinning. So in that department I am not a hypocrite but an outright liar. I believe in respecting everyone and getting along with as many people as possible. The day I moved to Atlanta in 1982, a man shot the man in front of him in a car because that man gave him the finger.

Daisy on the left, Joey on the right.
I would not want a real friend to no longer like me. I have a walking friend I'll call Portia to hide her identity. Portia will on occasion talk about why she dislikes Hillary. I don't say a word until the topic changes. She knows my politics besides the likelihood of the two us bumping into Hillary Clinton is nil.

I told Portia the other day about my mom's chihuahua mix Daisy. She has a big body and skinny legs. Just like the me and her. The other lady in the group looked shocked. Portia laughed. We have been doing our DNA in our family. I told Portia that I might not be part Indian. Portia told me, "Oh Ann with your big nose, you know you got to be part Indian." Portia and I have been friends since we were nine.

The interesting thing about our friendship is life took us in different directions. I have not spent time with her or seen her in 40 years. In returning home, I've resumed childhood friendships. You had your church family and they still consider you family. Although I was quite pious and earnest as a teenage girl would be in her religion; my ideas about my religion has changed. It's funny that all of these people were not surprised.

Now most of my black friends are Democrats. However, more than you would think are Republicans. So unless they are (once again I am changing names), Lydia and Alicia, I am not broaching the topic.
In Georgia, districts are drawn to make sure African Americans are represented. So districts are drawn up so that pretty much only black democrats and white republicans hold national office.

Which brings me back to zealots. I know it doesn't but you have read this far.

I think considering someone else with a different opinion a zealot is you have to be a zealot yourself. I could give examples; but, I have vowed to not talk real politics and this post is the closest I will come ever again. I hope. Truthfully, I have been a bad political talker. It's going to be hard; but, I am reforming. I was just selective who I talked politics to.

But I am a zealot about people parking in handicapped spaces who are not handicapped. Some people park there and don't have the ID on the car. Others have the ID; but they are obviously not the person it was written for. Some may even need the handicap space and I just can't see the disability. Since I have disabled people in my care, I see red when someone drives up and parks beside the curb and blocks the handicapped ramp. I no longer try to find a close parking space. I park in the back of the lot deliberately. Plus, it protects my car from car door and shopping cart dings.

I think we should all have something to be a zealot about. Particularly since I have one.

But come Wednesday, it doesn't matter who is elected. What will be will be the reality and we will all deal with it like we have always done. It won't be the first President anyone has disliked and hopefully we will all live long enough to dislike a few more.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The power of a meme

With the joys of this election years, I have succumbed to the What fresh hell is this poetry challenge by "Imaginary Garden with Real Toads".  We've all avoided politics this year. I've read many a fine piece of rubbish on Facebook against both candidates. 

My favorite are the people who have posted maybe ten or eleven memes a day for their candidate. Then offer a personal essay of how they have weighed the choices and came to that conclusion, why just that day. So this sonnet is dedicated to them. 

What a novel idea.
Toss out lightly the depth of your choice
Intone a bit of fear
In honor of God you share your voice

A quick apology for offending a few
But the cause is so great
A little annoyance is due
I just can’t take the bait

These ideas you share
With great care
Like a repetitive nightmare
Sung loudly from a zealot’s lair

Oh yay the boo hag will ride
And no one switches side

As much acrimony that has occurred during this election campaign, methinks we are all tired of the politics and politicians will understand the folly of their ways. Well in an alternate universe this could happen. But on planet Earth, in particular the United States, we will always have four or five heated opinions in a room of two. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Poke Salad

My grandmother said if you ate 8 messes of poke salad you would not get sick that year.

Poke salad can be very poisonous and has to be prepared just so. Preparation involves boiling the greens in water and pouring off the water. Replenish the water and boil again. You need to do this at least six times.

You pick the very young leaves that have just emerged. If any red can be seen, it is poisonous. My mother painted her fingernails with red poke berries as a child. Her grandfather got very upset. He had her to wash her hands and gave all the cautions adults do.

Birds love the red berries. The old adage of if you see an animal eat it, you can eat it is just plain wrong. Periodically you hear of someone being treated of mild poke salad poisoning. The seeds are incredibly poisonous but their shell is so hard, they are said to be viable for 40 years. Birds also love poison ivy berries. Imagine dying of eating poison ivy berries, convulsive scratching before anaphylatic shock.

I guess you think my caution reflex is in overdrive. It isn't. I've seen too much to not know people have feet of clay. I've done some foolish things. So far, I've done nothing that has killed me.

In South Georgia, people do not talk about eating poke salad. I think I might be the last generation to eat the plant. I stopped pointing it out to students when I noticed a student who was considering a harvest. It is one of those things that will not hurt you if done properly but will certainly kill you otherwise. It is like harvesting wild mushrooms.

Poke Salad probably prevented scurvy is my guess why it prevented illness. In the mountains, people ate poke salad along with ramps. They were the food of the poor which is a whole lot of people of the mountains. The growing season really goes year round in South Georgia. Certain plants like collards produce year round. I had an uncle that had some collard plants that were about 4 years old in his back yard.

What does poke salad taste like? It taste likes weeds. It is not a good taste but a palatable one. You usually cook them and then scramble a few eggs in them like spinach. I don't recommend doing this because some varieties are poisonous. But they taste like the grass you mow boiled. This is up there with something tasting like dirt. I have never eaten boiled grass or dirt. But I have eaten a mess of poke salad.

I go through my picture archives and cannot find one of poke salad. I've got a few reedy stems near the road. That is what is left this time of year and it is a drought. Next year, I will have to get a good picture.
The dried stems are the poke salad. They are usually bright red with green leaves this time of year. But we are in a drought.

Beauty Berry

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