Thursday, June 22, 2017

How to Read a Letter in the Parking Lot When You Can't Wait Until You Get Home

I've had a string of great mail days lately. That's a big deal now since so many bloggers are abandoning their little homes on the Net. And while I do understand why they might, I cannot help but mourn the losses. My daily rituals include reading the posts in my read/follow lists for the fix I be jonesing for. Nothing is so disruptive or as unsettling as a deafening silence . . . followed by a Houdiniesque disappearance. 

I enjoy having posts delivered to my inbox, but I get a major thrill from starting at the top of My Favorite Blogs list, going down the line, reading and sipping tea as part of my day. That's my time, so you know I have the nerve to be disappointed when a favorite blogger misses a day. Don't let it go two or even three in a row. Seriously. They've got a lot of nerve! And I am not above inquiring in an e-mail, "Where are you?" Okay, not really, but I do wonder. I mean if you cannot count on a blogger, who can you count on? Bloggers, don't just abandon your home. If you're gonna quit, give us a little notice. Please and thank you. Some really great writers/photographers/storytellers dropped the keyboard. *sigh*

So, as a copper pot calling copper kettles brass, I'm deeply appreciative of the bloggers who soldier on in the face of blogger glut, burnout, choosing a none-blogging life, or whatever else came between you and us. Thank you for being a part of my reading experience.

I get a thrill when there's mail, and double delight chills when there's mail in both boxes.  And . . . a UPS delivery! On the same day! It don't get much better'n that. Okay, it don't get much better'n that unless you write a letter that starts off sluggish, and you think of waiting to write another day, but something tells you to keep on--to not waste the paper or the already-written words, and you listen. Before you're aware of where you are, or what you're doing, you've hit your stride and boom! You've written at least three whole pages, drawn some silliness in the margins, and signed your name, with "love and a hug."

Moving on . . . Here's a teachable bit about how to read a letter in the post office parking lot when you cannot wait until you get home. 

Number one:  Read a letter in the parking lot only if you think it holds the answer to a question you've been waiting for. Otherwise you might get heat stroke because the windows are up and the ac is off because you feel too guilty about sitting in a parking lot with the motor running to turn it on. Pretend it's so important you're willing to risk suffocating or baking inside a hot SUV.

Number two:  Never forget this. The thickest envelope is the one to go for first. Spread the pages in a discernible fan. That's way its importance is more convincing. 

Number three:  Read without moving your lips. People will forgive you then because you'll look like you're smart enough to know better, so they'll figure the letter has to be super important. I know I noticed someone reading a letter in the parking lot, I'd tell myself it's possibly a letter from a parole officer, an attorney, the IRS, Alf, a publisher rejecting their latest story, divorce papers . . . 

Number four:  Wear your darkest sunglasses to block out the sight of anyone who might look at you like you're nuts for being in the heat without ac on, and with the windows up. Do not make eye contact. Just read. Slowly makes it look like you're not even hot.

Number five:  When you come to the end, lovingly return the missive to its envelope, then sit there for a while, like you're too moved by what you've read to turn the key in the ignition. 

Note to self:  Nobody's ever looking at you when you think they are.  Get over yourself and go home.

I watched "Freaks" last night when I couldn't sleep. That was after I read this:

Doesn't that just wet your readin' n writin' whistle? All the Gothic novels have at least the heroine writing in a chapter or two where the sounds of a quill scratching on paper seems to fill the room. ". . . the biting hush of ink on paper" above makes one pause--in an attempt to imagine how a hush bites. Wordsmithing par excellence? Or simple slight of hand with pen? Hmm.

Such color--prettier than a tangerine. 

Feel free to expect a whale of a tale tomorrow. Or the day after. A tale of a whale's tail? Anything is possible.

The End.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hope Springs Eternal Even After the Creek Rises and Washes Out the Bridge

I gasped when I saw this. I opened it a corner of my old and faithful cleaver. JC left it on a kitchen counter on top of the other mail, a clear sign that he deemed it important too. And so I thought it was the surprise I've hoped would happen for decades. 

Always check the zip code first, is a credo. It didn't matter that it's several towns distant, I was determined to get there even if it meant using Uber. I would draw among peers again! Hope happens.

So. What's the most exciting mail you've held in recent hope? Did it deliver?

I'm writing at a more leisurely pace these days. It's too hot to pen faster. The wet pen nibs move across paper easily enough, but my hand feels like a match head striking a rough surface in super slow motion, as if bent on creating a slo-mo fire. It often sounds that way in my ever fanciful imagination when I practice calligraphy on resume paper. That's how quiet it is in the night quiet as I practice alone in silence, and the rest of the house sleeps. 

I'm writing more postcards though. Irony begins with iron, and iron feels like a cool metal when it's this hot. But I'm so glad we no longer have to iron everything we wear since ironing is hot work. Ironic is cooler than moronic too. Yet still I write.

Here's a favorite postcard, another I've held on to for too long simply because it tells me a different story each time I simply grace it with a glance. Today she tells me he just got up and walked out on her, and while she'd run after him in the past, she's just too tired to give a hot trot tonight. So he can go to blazes, and she wouldn't pee in his ear if his brain was on fire. 

"Yes, I'm hot and super very tired of wearing all these layers because you men don't seem to know how to control your lustful imaginings when you see a female. Just you wait until a woman invents the bikini, spaghetti strap dresses, and slip dresses. You want lust? I'll give you so much lust you'll want to have a sex change just so you can fondle your own breasts!" she thought as she sweltered in the heat of the summer sun. "Oh! And you should try being rubbed by whale bone and drawstrings in bloomers! I am too chafed to be bothered!" Such are the true thoughts of one of the first super models while out on a photo shoot.

"Use more milk? Seriously?" asked the cow with sore udders, just before she kicked over the milking stool, barely missing the milkmaid's head. The bull just laughed and rolled his eyes.

Why is it called Minute Maid Park when there are no maids on the field, no maids selling juice made in a minute in the concession stands, and I spell "minute" the very same way. *sigh* It's too hot for this.

So, moving on . . . I did write a letter. Three whole pages worth. Then I had to draw a little. Added some red a little. I felt so much better than a little happier after all this.

Some hot and sour soup made me feel so good! That soup in my tsunami in a bowl yesterday evening started waves of good feeling that carried over into this day. Doc gets to give her verdict tomorrow. Why did I wait so long to seek a remedy? Fingers crossed. 

Wishing I'd lowered that stamp just a little. When I tried it last night it didn't work. Hmm. It's what's inside that counts, right? Maybe next time I'll get it right. Hope has its own springboard.

Write more mail.


P.S.  Irony? A case in point:  JC were finally on the patio again, enjoying the breeze, talking about important slug deterrents that involve beer, when the neighbor came out and light up. When you are allergic and haven't been around secondhand smoke for awhile it seems to jolt the brain with a vengeance, making it hard to like your neighbor, let alone love him.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy Juneteenth

I read the morning e-mails in bed because my stomach didn't want me to move across the room to my desk. Um-huh, it's still like that. I do have an appointment in a day or two, so I'm determined to live until then. But the e-mail I chose to read first made me feel a lot better. The subject field said, Happy Juneteenth! in all caps. The results:  Immediate happiness! I sat up straighter, I grinned. And I felt less than guilty for deciding not to write my Juneteenth post last night. I believed I'd be well today, and would do the holiday justice. Dear friend, Anna saved the day, and acknowledged my history, thus making me prouder of my ancestors who survived slavery, two years of extended enslavement, and thrived in spite of it--and happier to be me.

Houston celebrated the re-opening of Emancipation Park today. It has a facelift, and it is fabulous, dahlins'! Texas pretended not to know Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation until two years after the fact. I mean how could Texas not know? They didn't have the telegraph? There's an old insult that goes, "If you want word to spread, telegraph or tell a Negro." That was plantation talk about slave "code." They may have lost their drums but they had word of mouth. So how did it take  took two years for a single newspaper to make it from Washington to Texas? What? The mail didn't run that far? And if Lincoln signed the Declaration in 1863 why did it take so long . . . Never mind.

I have a copy of this photo of our youngest ex-slave ancestor, Mandy Armstrong. She was the third hardest female to trace in history. Lucy, the first hard-to-find-evidence-of, who married the first Eli, still remains in shadow because she was a slave, hence no sure records of her before the first census that included the family. Lucy married our Eli who was born in 1820. I believe I may have discovered records that name the ship and the captain that brought him to America. 

Our Mandy had a paper twin. I spent years collecting documents, and even a photo of the woman I believed was my grandfather's sister. I have data that traces her presence from Bevilport, Texas to the pages of The Slave Narratives. How could there have been two Amanda Armstrongs? How could there have been two Amanda Armstrongs who married one Josh Hadnot? Josh was a player? How could their children bear the same names? Oh, the cruelties of slavery! Oh, the cruelty of the person who touched up Mandy's photo. 

I'm saddened every time I look at the photos of our family members who were enslaved two years after they were deemed free. Surely they should have been compensated for their labor. Ships sailed into Galveston as regularly as a clock ticked. Texas knew. Texans knew . . . Ignorance of the law is not a viable excuse in today's courts. Why not then? 

"In 1623 Antonio and Isabella gave birth to William Tucker, the first African child born in America. The Tucker Family and descendants from the first African child born in America still resides in Hampton. William Tucker is buried in Hampton." 

Of all the records in my collections, one of my most favorite is the image of the 1867 Voter Registration roll that bears Ely/Eli's X. He couldn't read or write but he was accounted for. Two hundred forty-four years after the first African child was born in America, Eli and his were free on paper. And here I am.

A favorite book on the subject could be better but the photographs are moving and tell a better story of Black Americans and the End of Slavery. I find myself staring at the images, wondering but not wanting to know firsthand, the how and why of the when. Whenever I see photographs of any slaves, and read the Slave Narratives, I cannot help but wonder if the people in them might be relatives. 

Lucy and Eli came to Texas with a  thirty-four old widowed daughter, Mary, and her daughter. Surely Mary wasn't their only child. One has to wonder how many family members were left behind along the coastal route and inland routes that brought them into Texas, and one has to wonder how many were sold., once thought to be an answer to our need to know the names of ghosts left in shadow of our histories, wooed us with promises of revelation and connection . . . But that's another story about a new type of enslavement. But discovering DNA relatives along the routes Eli and Lucy traveled gave us hope. Those DNA results became a bit too much to bear, so a break from research helped save this camel's sore heart and back. For now. I still celebrate Juneteenth though. 

This is a ver special photograph of Mary McLeod Bethune and students from her school. More girls than boys, sadly enough.  

An emancipation jigsaw puzzle. It's missing a piece!

The caption, "A man whose race cannot be determined sits below a sign reading 'Auction & Negro Sales.' " Well, he has dark skin, a rifle rests next to him, my imagination created a good story to go along with. It comes from watching the movie, "Get Out." My favorite line in the movie:  "Get him, Grandpa." 

Shocking, huh? 

This photograph seems to have been used more than any other in articles about Juneteenth. I like it too. Somewhere there's a book that speaks to the celebrations in Galveston, Texas. My parents honeymooned in Galveston. Our oldest sister was born there. I lived less than an hour away on the mainland one upon a time, and Galveston was like our back yard. Galveston, gateway to news of emancipation. 

It makes this one a little less painful to bear. 

M-m-m, good. They're ghosts in old his-story, when truth is, they helped settle the west. They were the Buffalo Soldiers, the cowboys, and settlers. They were survivors. Dude sure knew how to wear those skinny jeans, too. 

Life is a celebration.

Sometimes, the more things change . . . the more they say the same.

Life Emancipation is a celebration. Happy Juneteenth!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

On Being Made Whole

I haven't shopped online since my last post, but the last of my purchases and replaced items arrived safe-and-sound, in other words, whole. I don't think being sick has anything to do with it--not shopping I mean. I shop online when I need to, not so much when I want to. It's a little like replenishing my pantry:  I run out of a staple, discover a new product that might make life easier, or come across a new magazine. . . You know what I mean, right? Uh huh.  *grin* *groan*

So, I am physically ill again. For a change. As opposed to mentally ill, which is just me expressing self every day. Still and all I'm so proud-of and grateful-for my immune system. It remains a workhorse after all these years, although sustained stress-related assaults weaken and overwhelm it at least once or twice a year. Goodness, what a long sentence. Filtering and backspacing (deleting?) makes my head swim. I finally understand what people mean when they say that. Ugh. Constant sea sickness/motion sickness ain't nothing to crow about either, but . . . I'll give it another twenty-four before going in to see doc. Pardon me while I go make a some tum-tum tea.

11:00 PM

11:18 PM  See? I really did make tea. I seldom treat myself so well when I'm feeling punk, but who else will if I don't? It took me all of eighteen minutes from start to finish. It sure felt longer. Like an hour. Or so.

Oh, wow. A whiff of that lemon almost made me upchuck. Did I tell you about drinking and liking saffron tea, and getting hives because I'm allergic? Sometimes I am so slow. Dangerously so. But this is good, this turmeric tea.

There was so much mail yesterday and today! Or was it just today? Sleeping a lot makes time overlap. My head swims, my stomach sways, and I seek a cuddle and solid ground in bed. Surprisingly, I never have trouble falling asleep when I am ill. How strange. 

So. A new I have a new, unmarred, not-Mangled copy of Taproot Magazine. It was pro-tected. Hooray for y'all, Taproot! And, thank you. Your customer service is excellent. I'm glad I subscribed. I'd be reading in bed but for the swimming in my head, and blurred vision when I try to focus. The words'll keep until I can.

I have been a fan of Waterford ink for years. Whereas I'd order several boxes at a time back in the day, I learned how a six pack will do for the time being. Cartridges do dry out you know. While I'm sure I could have found them in Houston, Amazon got these to me by way of Goldspot Pens, from Aberdeen, New Jersey of all places. Wow. I feel a little concerned about carbon footprints and such, but they got here . . . no problems. Thank you, Goldspot Pens. That Aurora pen uses Aurora cartridges, by the way. 

My complimentary copy of Bound & Lettered. Thank you, Nikki. You restored my belief in sellers and people in general. Acts of kindness are as good as medicine, while acts of unkindness are as bad as disease. Read dis-ease. Enough of it takes a toll. You've been kind and considerate, empathetic/sympathetic, intuitive and restorative. You've been very kind.

Am off to bed again . . .

. . . to be continued

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mail Holler!

The Mangler managed to tear through plastic and almost every page of my second issue of Tap Root Magazine. That's like ripping through a Katy phone book. Remember those? Phone books. Those things never disintegrated, the pages never faded, ink never smeared, and they were the hardest things to get rid of. They come with plastic raps these days, yet somehow manage to survive being flung onto a front porch, porch steps, and even front yards. 

A visit to the USPS web site and seventeen minutes of fruitless searches yielded no paths to consumer recourse. There are faux links that promise answers to how to handle damaged packages. Turns out the package has to have been insured. Since no one insures a $12 magazine, I was up a perforator without protection. So I did the next best thing. I sent an e-mail to the good people at Tap Root. This is their response:

Hi Limner,

So sorry that your magazine was damaged in the mail, we'll get a replacement sent right out to you!


Subscriber Services
Taproot Magazine
120 Graham Way #200
Shelburne, VT 05482

Now that's customer service, although I don't feel it's their fault. Still and all I am impressed and do appreciate the graciousness of sincere business owners. If I told you why I subscribed to the magazine you'd try to sell me a bridge in Valhalla or Olympus, but can you honestly say you've never bought something you didn't need just to help a sister out, or to . . . Okay. It's like buying Girl Scout cookies. You We buy them just to help the troops, right? You We don't need short bread or thin mint cookies. Ahem. Truth is, I subscribed because I wanted to help counter the ugly backlash against the editor's comments during and after the recent election. She and I are as alike and as different as black eyed peas and chickpeas. But she's a mother, a woman, human all the way, and she has the courage to say how she felt then, while most of us were/are the exact opposite. Aha! Wait. We have one more thing in common! There's one other reason I decided to subscribe. I forgot, temporarily. *hugging myself* See? I recognize good people too. *grin* 

My e-mail sig is:  "Be kind to everybody, make art, and fight the power." _ Colson Whitehead, winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction. I try to live up to it. Some days it's hard. More often than not it's one of the easiest things I do. 

There's this. I've had a string of unhappy USPS events to deal with lately. I'm still scratching my head over this one. The box is stuffed with strong brown paper. Three items were inside, yet one managed to be crushed.

A twenty dollar practice pad. Why? How? Does it matter? Should it?

First there was this. I lovely box for brushes. I eyed it for pencils--all my lovely pencils. It's worse than it appears here.

A request for an unblemished box netted this. The interior is as expected. Why someone deliberately scratched the top is beyond my ken. Why? Perhaps they figure I should replace the first top with this top and that way I'd be made whole? I used to believe in John Neal Bookseller and their products. Their employees represent them, right? An employee committed the dastardly deed, so what does that say about John Neal Bookseller? 

Well, from out of the blue . . .

"Dear Valued Customer,

We here at John Neal Books are truly appreciative that you have chosen us for your calligraphy book and supply needs. We thank you for your business, and as a small token of our appreciation a copy of Bound & Lettered was recently mailed to you. Please accept it with our thanks.

If you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact us. . . ."

I can't explain it and I won't try. I just figure they're trying to sell me something. What do you think?

Why me? How did they find me? They used my Colorado name--a hyphenated big deal back then. I've lived in several states since then. What could the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles want with me? I am not good church material.

They should know that I am too old for their demographics. Why would someone like me need them?

This reminds me of baby steps. Heck, I'll be teetering my way to childhood if I'm not careful, and who wants reminding of that possibility? Are they really so desperate? Poor things.

But wait! Hold your horses and my Polydent. Who wouldn't want to be audited by this dreamboat? Be still my liver. My stomach. My knees. I'ma pin him to the wall next to my bed. Oh, swoon.

Not fair! They brought out the big guns at the end. They brought me to my knees with a single photograph. Elron, Oh hell no! all hail! 

Needing to get away from mail nightmares, I escaped to the patio. It's so pretty outside; it is prettier after all the rain. The birds missed me. A favorite asked if I'd sit for a portrait. Flattered, I acquiesced. Here is the final piece de resistance. Looks just like me, huh? So why do I feel like a flock of crows just stoned me? *sigh* 

Determined not to be outdone, I cleaned up my postage box. I compartmentalized my postage, then put it all together, because I like sifting through my stamps. I like the way they feel. And knowing I have so many choices.

Wouldn't you know this would be my first choice? No! Sorry. It's my second choice, but the first of the new newbies. I do like ranunculus. Ranunculi. 

I neatened up my wax/seal/match bin. Polished my favorite letter writing ring. Made myself smile.

A better view. It hides the tarnish better.

Now I get to watch Bill Maher try to whitewash . . . He's actually trying to blame his use of the "n" word on being a comedian. He keeps trying to get a pass. For that, in my heart, he fails. His pain is visible, but he could just be drunk or hungover. This is a watershed moment that can transcend . .  What? Who am I fooling? He wimped his way out. He's been forgiven, re-invited into the fold, allowed to keep his, See, I Like Colored People card, and keep his show. 

I have not watched the "n" word episode. I won't. Bill's and my affair soured last year, the year before, and has been on shaky ground since I asked myself why he get to make nasty out loud about others because he thinks it's funny, when it's mostly hurtful. Comedy should be funny. Black comedy? Why? Black is forever viewed in a negative way. Black came first. In the beginning there was a black void--totally devoid of light. Without black there could be no light. Enough of that. 

Maher said use of the "n" word is a part of the culture. Too many would have you think that's true. It's not. Ask me how I know.

Truth:  I am mildly depressed this night. Ask me why. The numbers on my emotional barometer have dropped below sad. Ask me why. There's a way up. There always is. I just have to find it. 

    . . . And ain't I a woman?
         that little man in black there say
    a woman can't have as much rights as a man
         cause Christ wasn't a woman
    Where did your Christ come from?
         From God and a woman!
    Man had nothing to do with him!
         If the first woman God ever made
    was strong enough to turn the world
         upside down, all alone
    together women ought to be able to turn it
         rightside up again.
Copyright © Sojourner Truth

Sincerely sincere,

this Limner

P.S.  Ice Cube just made me cry. I promised I wouldn't. Maybe crying is good.