The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

Power to the People. Please vote.

Women. Our ancestors fought for and protected our right to contribute politically. We are no longer voiceless chattel. We are worthy, articulate participants. Honor yourself and honor those women who sacrificed to give us our rights. VOTE.

My first husband’s Aunt Ethel voted in the first and in every subsequent election she was alive.
She recalled many times that her father thought it silly a woman should be a voter but her mother insisted on being taken to the polls along with Ethel, who was old enough. Ethel says her dad grumbled as he drove the team and wagon all the way from Pritchard to the courthouse in Wayne Co, WV, She says it was a celebration. The courthouse was decorated and those women who were brave enough to venture to the pools were joyful.

My other voter story is from years later when my dad was serving in the Army Air Corp. in WWII in North Africa. He voted absentee. Grandma Hazel, an independent woman of strong political opinion walked from 124 Northwestern Avenue to the courthouse in Marion, Ind through ankle deep snow and biting, freezing wind to cast her ballot. If I remember correctly a good couple of miles. Upon arrival she was told by the clerk that Gordon’s vote had just been counted. it was only on Gordon’s safe return from the war she learned that they cancelled each other’s vote. “I walked all that way through that awful snow only to have you cancel my vote,” she’d banter around the kitchen table discussion! I don’t remember who was the Roosevelt supporter.

I urge you to vote and let your voice be heard. It’s our right. It’s our responsibility. If you need polling information please connect to:

Oh, and I haven’t voted yet.  In Kentucky they only let us vote one time per person.  So I will cast my ballot on Tuesday.  I’m a little confused by the voted button I just posted here.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

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Cars and boys but not just teenage things

I fell out of a car once, a moving car! Carrie Lee and I were in Ashland, the nearest town from our small village of Russell. And although we went to church in downtown Ashland, did all of our shopping in Ashland and had great relationships with the Tomcats in youth group, we were venturing into hostile high school rival territory. The rivalry had recently gotten ugly at a basketball game where a row of Tomcat football players jumped down from bleacher seats onto a row of Red Devil boys who then cascaded onto the Russell High School Band. Trombones and flutes and backpacks and purses and children flew. Police escorted bloody victims and a community was in shock. The follow up was stern police warnings for students to stay in their own territory until things calmed down.

Soon after, a girl rubbed a greasy BBF hamburger on our windshield one Friday night we were daringly stupid enough to venture outside there. Then ten or so girls surrounded our car and wiped nasty hamburger and catsup and whatever all over the windows. The 5-6 of us inside knew we=d pushed the envelope too far. We went to the nearest gas station and cleaned the windows. The attendant told us to get ourselves back to Russell. We drove straight back home to the Outpost to shriek our injustice like only pumped up teenage girls can do. We incited our boys to the defense which lead to retaliation, vindication, and more than a few bruises and bloodied noses. The boys continued to taunt each other, challenge each other fights, and to count their victories by drag race.

We did, however, win that basketball game and even went to state that year and several years after. Russell briefly knocked the Tomcats, the biggest, most winning school for many years, off their throne.

So, in the heat of the rivalry the two of us going to Ashland was a daring adventure. Carrie Lee was driving a maroon Chevy Impala, one of the many cars her big brother Tommy crashed up. While still driveable, the passenger side was beat up significantly. He hit a mailbox while delivering papers.

Oh and the other part… Our Red Devil boyfriends did not fancy their girls going into Tomcat territory especially to wave at boys at the Bluegrass, their Happy Days hangout complete with speakers and curb dog delivery. (The Outpost did not have speakers.) This well established teen hang out was the place to drive around and be seen. And drive around and be seen. And drive around – well you get the picture. (One time, much later, Sally and I drove over a hundred miles going from the Outpost to the Bluegrass when we were supposed to be at the library. Who knew her mom was checking the mileage?) The routine was drive around a few times, park, order probably a Flying Saucer, onion rings and milkshake, to enjoy while watching the cruisers. Then become the cruiser. Gasoline was $.28 – $.30 a gallon. Yep, it’s a fact.

So…Carrie Lee and I NEEDED hose and makeup for Homecoming and we managed to get a car for an hour. We cruised the Outpost – always the first thing to do when commandeering a vehicle. Then off to Ashland.

First stop Merle Norman. Carrie Lee pulls up in front of the Arcade for me to run in and after pushing and shoving, I can’t open the car door. I try and try. The car behind us honks so we go around the block. She pulls up to the same spot. Door is still stuck. She puts the car into park, hops out, comes to my side, opens the door and I get out. She slams the creaky door shut. She runs and gets back into the driver’s seat and drives around the block. She gets out of the car. I get in and we drive a block to our next stop.

Onto the next block to Parsons, for hose. The door remains stuck from the inside. Same routine. Car into park, hop out, pull open cranky passenger door, shove passenger door shut, hop back into driver’s seat, drive around the block, get out of car, Susan slides in. We take off.

Why didn’t we just park the car, walk through town to both stores? I suspect we sped through our mission so we could cruise the Bluegrass and have a vanilla coke before returning home in time to dress for the dance. I also suspect there is a slight possibility we were being the daring, sneaky, you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do 16 year olds. Just saying.

Hose, makeup mission accomplished we are off to teen mecca way up on 33rd and Winchester – way out of our safety zone, but we have some minutes of rebellious freedom even if it’s in a banged up Impala.

Confidently and quickly Carrie Lee backs into a spot on the front row, without hitting the speaker or another car! (Maybe she is a better driver than Tommy.) We lucked into a very cool parking spot even if it’s early on a Friday evening when not many are hanging out. We recognize no one, not even any of those really cute church boys. With a little trepidation and cockiness, we order and sit, holding our spot for a while, knowing that soon we would have to parade out of there with our Greenup County license plate and really be seen.

Carrie Lee starts the car, pulls out and we turn toward the 33rd street, and the car or Carrie Lee must have taken on its dragster Tommy persona. “I’m going to peel out,” is the last thing I hear before my ass hits the ground and I scoot in the opposite direction the car is squealing into. Dazed, I sit for a second only to realize she has thrown the car into reverse and a red fast moving machine with the door hanging open is heading straight for me. I roll over in the street. She stops beside me and I crawl in, my face in the seat because by now the pain in my buttocks starts screaming. I do get the stupid door shut.

And as we drive away hysteria ensues. Laughing. Crying. Laughing. Spitting. Choking. Laughing. And a couple of blocks away I realize the hose and makeup are missing.

We are forced back to the scene of the humiliation. Maybe the items are lying on the street and no one even noticed. And so maybe no one even noticed the giant screeching rubber peeling sound or a young woman sitting in the street and a big red car backing up about to run over her.

No package. And no more money or time to repurchase said items.

Driving and laughing our way down Winchester Ave towards home we stop at a light only to see the driver in the car behind us holding our packages out his window. I refuse to even touch the door again and besides that, I can barely move my lower half. I am still face down in the seat. So, she puts the car in park, and goes back to retrieve the goods, only to face the witnesses who are also laughing hysterically.

I literally keep my tail tucked and we drive home laughing so hard we are speechless most of the way.

Ruined was my favorite pair of dark green wool bell bottoms that zipped up the back. The seat scorched through to the lining. As my pride slides down the street, in sashays laughter that hasn’t yet stopped. In fact, we laughed when I called to tell her I was writing this post. And not just a chuckle, a real belly laugh.

The boyfriends who both eventually became husbands failed to see the humor then or really anytime thereafter we laughed about it! My mother didn’t think it one bit funny. And it did affect my dance moves that night although I couldn’t sit down so I guess I tried to shake a little that evening. But, my shake had been rattled and rolled!

End of story? Nope. Just when some of the humiliating events of one’s past seem to fade into oblivion a 15 year class reunion is held and out of the blue a class mate asks, “Wasn’t that you I saw fall out of a car at the Bluegrass one time?”

Yep. That was me. I loved those pants.

I would like to dedicate this blog post to:
Thomas Leland Moore, Jr. November 8, 1947 – December 21, 2013.
Tommy had the best duck-tails ever. He could throw his hip out while he slicked his side hair smoothly from the top of his ear to the base of his neck.
He perfected the Outpost strut. He walked the swagger; a tall, blonde, handsome boy with a tantalizing, mischievous smile.
He was my first husband’s BFF for many, many years, through many, many trials. And they served in Vietnam about the same time as helicopter crew chiefs.
Tommy loved cars. He liked to build them, and fix them. He raced them. He watched them race. He helped others race. He also wrecked cars. He wrecked a bunch of them. He also gassed them when he ran the gas station. I wonder if he created Morehead Auto Parts to have all the wholesale venue he ever needed?
I like to think that all those times in life he ignored the caution flag he was clutching to win all he could out of this life. I like to think he crossed through the Pearly Gates carrying the checkered flag proudly one more time.

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Mary Oliver’s ‘Wild Geese’ and Medicare

Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese and Medicare

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes.
Over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

New and Selected Poems, 1992, page 110.

I have read Wild Geese by Mary Oliver maybe a hundred times. While poetry is not my go to literature, Mary Oliver’s poems resonate with me in a place that other venues don’t touch.
I believe the focus of this poem is ‘announcing your place in the family of things.’ This month when reaching the supposed over-the-hill milestone of 65 and signing onto Medicare, I am in full realization that my youth is gone. I’ve been reviewing some of the many doors I’ve chosen to open and some of the ones I have left closed. And because I am more attuned to trusting the wisdom I’ve gained through these years of experience and study and vision, I grow more comfortable announcing my ‘place in the family of things.’
I am more able to become like the ‘wild geese,’ to rise above that which I cannot control and to rise above any persona I now know I am not and above things I am no longer interested in. My focus is on ‘heading home.’ Certainly, I am getting closer to going literally home when I cross from the earth plane, because, we all know, nobody gets out of here alive! I am going home into the heart of me, into the heart of who I truly am. The Susan I am getting to know and understand more fully each day. This is my truth that calls to me ‘harsh and exciting’ and is for me and only me. And ‘no matter how lonely’ (because our journeys are ultimately for ourselves) ‘the world offers itself to my [blossoming] imagination.’
So, I ‘do not have to be good’ or ‘walk on my knees’ in repentance for those things out of my control or things someone says or believes about me. I only have to trust myself, to allow ‘the soft animal of [my] body [myself] love what it loves’. And at this stage I so much more know what I love and I am so much better able to leave the rest behind.
However, I will share my ‘hundred miles through the desert,’ my ‘despair’ with you and listen to yours so that we can connect within the ‘family of things.’ So we can connect within the oneness on the earth at this moment in time. Just as the ‘wild geese’ fly in sync, as a community, as individuals creating the whole, I am a functioning independent unit working for myself within and for the whole. We are each individuals with joy and despair discovering our own sense of who we are.
‘Meanwhile,’ the living Universe and the living Earth with wisdom and knowledge creates, allowing sun and rain to nourish the landscapes, representing the processes of all life events. The prairies symbolize the times life runs smoothly, a straight walk forward with clear vision; the deep trees when I can’t see clearly; the mountains when I climb and work for what I am seeking; and the river when I am in the flow and letting go with ease and support (except, of course, in the white water!).
And when I leave my ‘despair’ behind, my imagination is free and unencumbered to explore the bounteous world with a bird’s eye view of the prairies, the deep trees, the mountains, and the rivers. So, I become wild and free like the geese, ‘to love what [I] love’ and proudly ‘announce [my] place in the family of things.’
So here I am – the best ME I can BE in this moment!!! Welcome to 65 Susan Rea.
It is my wish that you read this fabulous poem a hundred times and delight in your own translation letting the soft animal of your body feel what it loves in the flow of the words. Take my musings and use whatever resonates with you and toss the rest.
In gratitude I dedicate this post to Mary Oliver.
Also, I dedicate this post to my brother, Bill, the poet, for introducing her poems to me.

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