Thursday, June 30, 2022

A House Like That



I never disclose my age without absolutely having to, and then it’s grudgingly mumbled.

I’ll tell you why: I think we automatically classify people, consciously or otherwise, by this number.

If I tell you my age, you’re immediately going to make some assumptions about me: my musical taste (you’d likely be wrong), my favorite movies and TV series (wrong again), all sorts of speculation about my personal life and what it entails (or doesn’t).

I don’t want to know your number, either. I don’t want to formulate ideas about you based on that information.

My grandmother probably started all this. When she was in her nineties, in a hospital bed, with a nurse clearly holding a chart containing all her medical information…she would dutifully recite her full name when asked but visibly halt before giving up her birth year.

I know people who are very old in their thirties. I know people who run circles around me in their eighties.

So why would any of us consent to presenting a stranger a number that’s going to cloister us with every other person born the same year?

I know my doctor needs to know, but even that is damned annoying. I’m convinced the Publix drive-through pharmacy lady asks me every time just to torment me (all the others recognize me and skip it, but she refuses).

I have a birthday coming up; it’s not a milestone or anything, just one more year.
And when I stare at that new number, it’s going to be with gratitude for every single one that preceded it, not angst over whatever changes it might deliver.

I once wrote a poem about aging:

I used to live in a house like that
All shiny and pretty and new
I gradually moved to this shabbier place
But I much prefer the view

You don’t have to tell anyone your number. Let your smile and your energy tell them all they need to make their calculations.


Love from Delta.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Meeting readers is, without reservation, the best part of my job.

They're usually members of a book club. They know everything, because they're extremely well-read. They are strongly opinionated. They've lived interesting lives; borne children, flown airplanes, researched neuroscience, grown flower gardens, and taught kindergartners how to tie their shoes.

They know if you're wrong about lipstick shades in the 1940s. They've read everything from Goodnight Moon to Tolstoy to The Handmaid's Tale.

They are in New York and Ohio and Alabama and Alaska and California and Hawaii and Quebec.

And they are invariably—invariably—nice people. Goodhearted, friendly, honorable. They give back to their communities. They watch out for the children of others. They hold doors open for the next person. They bake cookies for new neighbors.

I cling to this in times like these, floundering in the tidal wave of sadness and outrage over the actions of a despicable human in Uvalde, Texas. As we shriek at each other about gun control, condemning this country and its history of losing innocents to madmen with weapons, about what this world has come to...let us not view the past through some sparkly, nostalgic haze. People have been cruel and brutal to each other since time began. Evil is nothing new.

I don't claim to have the answers, but I know this: we, as a community, must watch and listen for signs of an impending disaster like Salvador Ramos. Time and time again, those intent on carrying out these hellish missions post about it on social media. They practically wave red flags to those around them.

And we have to say something. We have to do something. We have to be proactive. We have to protect our children in every possible way.

We have to stop teenagers from being able to buy assault rifles. This kid was eighteen and had legal access to firearms that virtually screamed public danger. How is that possible? At the very, very least, we should raise the age to twenty-five to purchase these kinds of weapons.

Or stop the legal sale of them altogether, which is my preference.

I'm not here to argue gun control legislation.

I'm here asking everyone to pay closer attention to those who show potential to harm others. See something, say something. (And Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are duty-bound to do the same.)

Mostly, I'm here to remind you evil people live in the shadows, a tiny fraction surrounded by the overwhelming light of good people. I know, I meet them every single week.

Love from Delta

Friday, January 21, 2022

I'm Not Even Thor About This


It was a strange day.

We made a quick trip to pick up a new cell phone and ended up spending almost four hours with a self-professed Norse Pagan and a “Bad Gay” who frequents Chick-Fil-A with his husband.
The store doesn’t matter.

What does is, I came into contact and lengthy discussion with two people I might otherwise not have spent half a business day with, trying to force a cell tower into submission.

I’m changing their names to Tom and Bill for ease of use; their real names are much more colorful.
Tom, the Norse Pagan, has a lengthy ancestry traced to Charlemagne. He has an enormous knowledge of Norse mythology.
He does not approve of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in my beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
Not authentic. 
He is a Thor purist.

Bill is a laid-back nerd, who plays Pokémon like me (I am called ObiWanKenoBeth) and he coveted a recently-returned toy building set for World of Warcraft or Masters of the Universe or something like that. 
(My nerd-dom only extends so far, y’all.)

So, when Bill wasn’t looking, I bought it for him.

Because he was sweet and kind and spent four hours on the phone battling with invisible 5G overlords, so my husband’s phone might come to life.

I loved these guys.

I am grateful for life’s detours, which sit me next to Norse Pagans and Rebellious Gays for unexpected eons.

I’m reminded we are all different, we all have something to say, and most of all: we all help each other.

I hope Bill enjoys that Masters of the Pokémon Fortnite Warstuff building set, and always loves Chick-Fil-A as much as I do.
We all agreed they’re not homophobic and cook mighty fine sandwiches.

Most of all, Bill, Tom, Jay, and I found a forced half-day fun. We made it worthwhile and meaningful. We laughed together and understood one another better after our mutual confinement. 

And that, my friends, 
is worth more
than any cell phone
could ever be.

Love from Delta.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Power to the People

We lost electricity in my house in the wee hours of Thursday morning, abruptly and with no fanfare. The internet went first, because at 2:40 am Alexa noticed a loss of connectivity and automatically/cruelly/inexplicably turned on my bedside lamp, which was interrogation-room bright in my sleeping face. I stumbled through the house manually switching off lights the AI decided must dilate my exasperated pupils. 

Maybe it was warning me of the darkness to come. The precious light I take for granted soon disappeared, along with every modern appliance and running water, because our well has an electric pump.

Being powerless was an inconvenience for the first day or so. Now it's a massive grievance I carry like a battery-powered chip on my shoulder. I just drove a mile to hand wash a few pieces of clothing far past their socially acceptable expiration date, and they're hanging on deck chairs to dry. My husband brings in massive containers of water so we can scoop it into toilet tanks for a precious flush.

This would all be much worse if I weren't married to a generator guru, who has figured out a way to power all the super-necessary stuff like WiFi and Netflix. It's cool enough outside to keep me from being non-air-conditioned homicidal. (Florida and its hurricanes brought me close to the edge in ninety-five degree heat more than once. I thought I was escaping all that, but Zeta tracked me to the mountains of northeast Alabama.)

I offered Mom popcorn last night and actually placed the bag in the microwave before realizing how futile my life is right now.

Alabama Power now says they expect to restore our electricity by 11:45 pm on November 5th, over one full week after this tropical storm blustered through our state. I am having a hard time with that. While I fully appreciate the hard work and dedication of countless people trying to restore power, I am less than delighted with their bosses and boss's bosses. The company has been non-responsive to me and all the friends I know who've tried to report outages or get updates, failing to keep their website and phone lines functional. Meanwhile, I'm driving daily under three massive trees that are solely supported by power lines near our house. Our neighbor's power pole is splintered like a shipwreck, its power lines a tangle of electrical kelp.

I am clearly reliant on modern conveniences like flush toilets and whatnot, and grateful to my generator guru husband. He's that kind of guy: a (male) friend Jay once rescued when his Jeep broke down said he had the wheel off, a tent set up and something roasting on a spit by the roadside within ten minutes. If Alabama Power won't charge up to my downed power lines within a week, at least I have this guy on a white horse wielding extension cords and water jugs.

Love from Delta.

Saturday, July 4, 2020



It's being spray-painted across a lot of statues these days, including but not limited to George Washington's. 

George was, of course, the most anti-colonial of colonials. The men who fought to liberate the colonies from British rule risked absolutely everything to do so. 

I have ancestors who were among those men. On one branch of the family, brothers took different sides and the elder, a redcoat colonel, ended up preventing the execution of his captured rebel sibling (my many-times-great-grandfather). I am here by his grace, in this country, in this place and time, you might say. 

In another branch of the family, my ancestors were apparently true colonials, loyal enough to the crown to flee to Canada and wait things out, sipping their tea and glancing down to see when it might be a good time to circle back. (It's interesting to ponder what might have happened had we remained British colonies.)

"Colonial" conjures images of smug Brits being carried on the backs of native women. (This wasn't uncommon in the colonies of the Empire. It's ugly, but it's history.) We were British colonies, and we carried a lot on our backs, metaphorically, until we got tired of it in 1776 and decided we could determine our own, better way of life for all.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Two hundred and forty-four years of the greatest experiment in human freedom is marked today. A country in which, for better or for worse, people of all colors and creeds and religions have come together to make their contributions to society. Make no mistake, they are some of the most glorious and diverse contributions in the history of the world.

A turbulent history gave birth to and developed The United States of America, and I still love her, warts and all. I love my friends and fellow Americans of all colors, and celebrate them.

We are together on this journey, and we have come so very far. Many, many persons of color are among the most accomplished and successful of our country in 2020. We are truly grateful for that.  

And, because the vast majority of Americans are goodhearted people, we want even better for every single one of us. We are an exceptional country.  

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better, and we will do better. Two hundred and forty four years have taught us the lessons we need to know and remember. 

The hopes and dreams our ancestors held for us are woven into those lessons. Including my distant grandfather's, and I thank him for freedom and the opportunity to succeed in these beautiful United States of America.

Love from Delta.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mrs. Storey

   Let me tell you where my heart and mind wandered when I read about the murder of George Floyd.

   You can’t avoid a frank discussion of racism in America in the face of this horror. There is no telling yourself we have abandoned this hideous relic of the past, that dust and cobwebs grow on its antiquated surface. 
   Not when the rest of it is so violently displayed, fresh and bitter, in the form of a knee on the neck of a handcuffed man.
   I don’t know what crime George Floyd was charged with. I haven’t investigated it, because nothing he could have done would merit this complete abandonment of human civility. Nothing could possibly counterbalance the sheer brutality of the Minneapolis police officer demonstrating his dominance over his captive, helpless prisoner.

   So, back to where this image leads me: to Annie Storey.
   When Mrs. Storey came to teach my sixth grade class in Weaver, Alabama, she did it at a time when black women didn’t teach white children in small towns. 
   We were kids, oblivious to the challenges she must have faced until we considered them years later.
   She was young and beautiful and so gifted at fascinating children with the solar system and European geography, we were spellbound. She was my favorite teacher. Many of my fellow students felt (and feel) the same.
   We loved her. We search for her to this day. 
   Mrs. Storey wasn’t our African-American teacher. 
   She wasn’t our black teacher. 
   She was our captivating and wonderful teacher, who commanded our respect and admiration every day.

   Annie Storey never said one word about racism, about not judging people by their skin color, about any of the segregationist sentiment that dominated Alabama at the time.
   She walked into our humble classroom every day in her fashionable A-line dresses, smiled at us with the warmth of that sun she showed us on the chart by the blackboard, and taught us we are all the same.
   So many years have passed. I remember her with love and enormous gratitude.
   I've memorialized her in two books with a character, Lily, inspired by her beauty and dignity.
   And I hope wherever she is, Annie Storey didn’t see what just happened in Minneapolis.
   It would break her heart.

Love from Delta.

Friday, May 10, 2019

My Mother Is Beautiful.

It's something I've heard all my life: "Your mother is so pretty."

There was a little boy in a department store who thought she looked like Eva Gabor. Might have been Zsa Zsa, but the kid was referencing Green Acres, I am pretty sure. I've heard Kim Novak suggested, too, and I personally think she's a little closer to target.

She has delicate features and lovely skin and a smile that warms the coldest room like a roaring fireplace. She has sparkling brown eyes a suitor once proclaimed "like pools of black ink." (He was not a poet.)

Her sartorial style is elegant and tasteful. She favors classics in beautiful colors and a vintage rhinestone brooch to sparkle alongside her.
Her sparkle wins. Every time.

These are all lovely attributes, but they don't constitute my mom's beauty. There is so much more than meets the eye when you're talking about an entirely beautiful person.

To see beyond, you'd have to know about the little girl in her Sunday School class years ago, who had perfectly serviceable parents of her own, but chose my mother to cling to constantly and regard as hers.
Because she saw Mom's heart.

You have to know about the ladybug houses she helped my Cousin Debi build, the adventures and projects she concocted to entertain an entire generation of my family.

About her fried baloney sandwiches made especially for my Cousin Hal.

About her incredible musicianship at a baby grand piano, and how she encouraged me to sing along even though cats have sounded better in midnight alleys.

She can produce an oil painting of flowers so detailed and vivid, they've been proudly displayed in other people's homes for generations.
She was about sixteen when she painted those roses.

You have to see her completing a crossword puzzle containing words no normal person has ever heard.
In record time. In ink.

You have to witness her love affair with books, which has translated into an astounding body of knowledge and a curiosity that is never sated.

Her lady in Publix who waits for her with a smile and a hug every time, or countless other people in countless other stores she frequents who light up when she walks in.
They call her by name.
They remember her because she's kind and they've witnessed that kindness over and over.

She is an extraordinary grandmother who took our toddler son into a North Carolina creek daily to move rocks that probably didn't need moving, but it was their project. Together.

Her granddaughter remembers Gran taking her downstairs to her meticulously tended garden at night to pay a magical, candlelit visit to a frog.

And I remember my mom, reading Hiawatha to me at bedtime, holding my hand through every joyful and heartbreaking thing in my life, building me up, making me laugh, constantly teaching kindness, thoughtfulness, thank you notes, generosity, and graciousness. 

She is love, in one lovely package.

My mother is beautiful.
Yours is, too, whether she's by your side or in your heart.

Happy Mother's Day.

One of my all time favorite photos: My mother with her mother and a couple of questionable characters

Love from Delta.