My people

Rural

THE HOLIDAY season turns a fellow’s mind to his family, his people.

For most of my life, I had people, and now I don’t. Mostly, they have died. I now have lots of Mexican people, but I don’t feel close to them. The cultural divide is vast. We do not connect.

Except my wife, of course.

My people were rural Georgia crackers. I will name them for you. There were my parents, of course, whom I called Dee and Charlie, never Mom and Dad. I don’t know why. Charlie had one sibling, Marthalyn, whom we sometimes called Marty. Dee was an only child. There weren’t many people in that generation.

I have one sister, Diane. She is a hot-tempered feminist fanatic, and I had to cease communication with her a couple of years ago to maintain my sanity. The situation severely saddens me. I also have one daughter, Celeste, who lives with her husband, Mitch, in Athens, Georgia. Her mother and I parted company when Celeste was 5, which often bodes badly for future relationships. That too grieves me.

Moving back up the people chain, there were two sets of grandparents, obviously. I called Dee’s parents Mama Powell and Papa Powell. They were great people. Papa Powell died when I was 12. Mama Powell died when I was 22. I have a photo of them hanging in the Hacienda living room, sitting in their yard on a bent-cane swing.

The Powells lived on a 500-acre farm in southwest Georgia, about a four-hour drive from Jacksonville, Florida, where I spent most of my youth. Before moving to Jacksonville at age 7, we lived with those grandparents for six years. My father raised chickens while trying to make a name for himself as a writer.

Turned out he was better at raising chickens.

The other grandparents, my father’s folks, lived north of Atlanta, in a small town called Marietta. We visited them less often because of the greater distance. There were other unspoken reasons. Being an only child, my mother was inordinately attached to her parents. And my father didn’t much care for his folks.

My father’s parents we called Mama D and Papa D. They were devoutly religious. Papa D was a Baptist deacon, and Mama D was a Methodist. Yes, they headed off to separate churches on Sunday mornings.

I sometimes would spend summer vacations with Mama D and Papa D. They would send me to Vacation Bible School, and I recall every morning at breakfast the kitchen radio would be playing gospel music. White gospel music with banjos, not the far more enthusiastic black variety.

However, both Mama D and Papa D were hard-core liberals. They voted for McGovern in 1972.

Those were my main people, mostly dead now. There were peripheral people too. Papa D’s sister, Aunt Ned, an almost life-long spinster. She may have been a lesbian because lesbianism runs rampant in my family, but back in those days, nobody much admitted it. But Aunt Ned did something unusual. In her 60s, she got married … to Mama D’s brother, Clarence. I think it was more for companionship than anything.

Unfortunately for Aunt Ned, Clarence died about two years later.

The four grandparents and Aunt Ned likely never set foot outside of Georgia except for the occasional visit to our home in Jacksonville, not far over the Georgia-Florida line. Clarence, however, served in World War I, and I remember a photo of him in his doughboy uniform. Aunt Ned worked for years in a millinery store in Marietta, and I now have an antique clock of hers on the wall at the Hacienda.

Those were my people, 99 percent dead now. And since neither my daughter nor my sister had children, there are no grandchildren, no nephews, no nieces, and never will be. I regret that a lot.

I would love to have people.

Quite a lovely day

Friday, the 17th of October in the year of the Goddess 2014.
Friday, the 17th of October in the year of the Goddess 2014.

SITTING ON THE web chair Friday next to the glass-top table on the yard patio and under the big brown umbrella, I look over yonder, admiring this photo scene I’ve seen a gazillion times and that people who’ve visited here with any regularity have seen 563 times. No matter. I love it, and I’m a sharing sort of fellow.

At noon, the sky was mostly clear. It had not rained the past few days. Could the Mexican monsoon be over? Let us pray so, which is what I considered doing as I sat with my Kindle reading H.L. Mencken’s Newspaper Days, one of a recently issued Days trilogy. The other two books are Happy Days and Heathen Days.

I’ve never read a book by Mencken before, just the occasional quote. Here is one that I, of course, concur with:

“Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.”

But that was yesterday. It broke my heart when late in the afternoon, the skies over the mountains blackened (no racial ill will intended), but it held off. No rain. And here this morning, Saturday, it is overcast but still dry.

However, there was a tropical storm out in the sea, and that could dump an arm of the Mexican monsoon on us today. Perhaps those black clouds last night were related. Looks marginally clear right now.

I think the Goddess controls the overall atmosphere and perhaps contracts out tropical storms to some other spirit. I hope she keeps the storm spirit under her thumb today. She can be stern when needed.

Speaking of the Goddess and the related Christian God, have you been following the hubbub in Houston where the lesbian mayor wishes to have final say over sermons in churches? She doesn’t want anybody disagreeing with gay marriage or, I suspect, anything related to the collectivist playbook.

They brook no disagreement. The First Amendment pains them.

The backlash has been fierce, and it appears she’s tucking her tail between sections of her ample hindquarters and heading behind the nearest Texas duck blind.

Are there any lesbian conservatives? There are conservative gay guys, but is there even one lesbian conservative? Probably the only person to come close would be Camille Paglia, but it’s dang difficult to pigeonhole her. She’s conservative only in some areas, depending on her mood when she wakes each morning.

Let’s hope it does not rain today, and the kids in the barrio can fly their homemade kites. I’ve seen quite a few this week. At the moment, one is hanging high and stranded in a tree across the street. It’s visible through the window over the monitor. Another crash-landed two days ago in our back patio. I would have liked to reunite it with its master, but no telling where he might be.

The local kids paste these things together and launch them with a line of sewing thread. It’s always sewing thread, which breaks very easily, of course, when it’s half-a-mile long.

If the rain stays at bay another day, we’ll see more kites flying. It’s not advisable to fly a kite in the rain because you might have a Benjamin Franklin moment, and that could get ugly.

American Gothic

Family

MY SISTER RECENTLY  mailed some photos to my daughter, and my daughter sent this copy to me. The original was in color, but I made it black and white because it’s more in line with reality. It would have been taken around 1987.

You might notice that nobody is smiling. We were not smiley people. I still am not.* Oh, but my sister is smiling, you say. Not really. That’s her Cheshire Cat expression. She was probably planning an assassination of someone on Fox News.

We were not a happy family. Strangely, I would not have said that had you asked on the day of this photo. I would have shrugged. My father was a boozer, and so was I. He had stopped when this shot was taken, but I had not.  We both stopped voluntarily in our early 50s.

For the same reason, I imagine. It got too painful.

We drank in the same fashion. We were not violent or abusive. We were quiet and out of touch, the sort of drinking that can do about as much damage to relationships as someone who throws chairs through windows and screams. We did none of that sort of thing.

My sister was no stranger to the sauce either. I don’t know to what extent she overdid it because I rarely saw her. She graduated from high school and left home when I was 14. That was about the end of a sister in my life. She went on to stumble around, primarily in university settings. She took up with hippies. She taught English a while. She got graduate degrees in stuff like counseling.

In her 40s, she hooked up with a New York City gang called Social Therapy, which had connections with the New Alliance Party and a shadowy, charismatic figure named Fred Newman. Many call it an anti-semitic cult. I am one of those who call it that.

She is 73 now, lives alone in Atlanta, and has a private counseling practice. She is a left-wing fringe, lesbian, feminist fanatic, and I quit communicating with her about two years ago. I would have cut ties far earlier had my mother died sooner. My mother long embraced a family fantasy. As it was, I communicated only rarely with my sister via snail mail and then email. I have not seen her in person in about 12 years.

My father died about four years after this photo. Downed by a heart attack at 75. Like me, he had been a newspaper editor. He retired early, age 49, and became renowned in American haiku poetry circles. He still has two books of poetry available on Amazon.

My mother, in spite of appearing in this photo as if she could be the wife of Josef Mengele, was the nicest of the lot by far. In contrast to the other three, she drank not a drop. She was an elementary and junior high schoolteacher before becoming a school librarian in middle age.

She died in 2009 at the age of 90.

Some people sweep their dark family secrets under a rug. I take that rug off the floor, hang it on a clothesline, invite the neighbors, and beat the bejesus out of it with a big broom. And I feel better for it. Photos bring memories, no?

Thanks for listening.

* * *  *

* In spite of that, my child bride says I have a fantastic sense of humor, and I do. Go figger.

(Note: Unrelated to today’s topic, let it be known that there is now a Moon Google+ page.)

The height advantage

I WAS BORN tall and white. Blessed, as it were.

Don’t believe, however, that there aren’t downsides to being tall. Think airplanes, buses, theaters, subways and much of Latin America. We duck a lot, and we squinch up. It can be uncomfortable.

rulerThe upsides include other folks often having higher opinions of you. It has been proven that you make more money, all other things being equal, and you get hired more quickly.

Life is easier for the tall.

This applies more to men than women, however. Being extra tall for a woman can be a drawback. You gotta be gorgeous. My sister, who is 6 feet tall, is only normal looking. She had one date in high school.

Later in life, she grew increasingly sour and decided to be a lesbian.

So if you’re gonna be tall, try and be a guy.

It’s exciting when a lovely girl must stand on her toes to kiss you.

I was also born white, another plus. You probably have heard this phrase white privilege  that the collectivists have invented. It means, like being tall, you were born with a leg up. And you were.

It’s a trendy concept these days. You are supposed to feel guilty. They even throw events on ivy league campuses to emphasize the guilt you gotta feel. That’s balderdash.

If you’re born tall, white and male, you’ve scored a trifecta.

Here on the far side of life, I now realize I could have done so much more with it. No matter. Girls still have to stand on their tippy-toes to kiss me, but only one does it, and she’s my favorite.