Save me, Kitty! Save me!

My grandparents’ yard was about an acre of a 40 acre property. There was a fence around the other 39 and a neighbor kept cows there. (He paid my grandparents for the use of the property with half a beef every year.) There was a pasture to the right of the house and a wet weather creek back in the woods. We played all over about 10 acres of that property. We had to be careful in the pasture because there were thistles and cacti all over the place. And if we got too close to the cows, the bull got tetchy.

I am 5 years older than my first sister, 7 years older than the youngest. After one visit from all of us without my parents, my grandparents refused to try to keep up with all 3 of us at one time again. But, we did go singly or in a pair. They were very loving and the only punishment any of us ever got from them (with one exception and I don’t blame them, I was unintentionally very bad) was their disapproval. That was usually sufficient to keep us in line. There were occasional threats of corporal punishment. But, they were never acted on. The idea of being so bad that they would actually spank us was was too horrible to contemplate.

One summer when Amanda was 3 or 4 and I was 8 or 9, we visited them together leaving Ingrid with our parents. Our grandparents had a habit of having a cocktail while they listened to a baseball game on the radio, enjoying the evening in lounge chairs in the back yard. They only ever had one. I think his was bourbon and water. Hers was bourbon and Coke. On this particular evening, I took a walk across across the pasture while Mandy played around my grandparents in their chairs under the mimosa trees.

When I was halfway to the other side of the field full of thistles, cows and cacti, I heard my little sister screaming “Save me, Kitty! Save me!” I turned around to see my grandfather holding her by the arm and she was trying to pull away from him. He was holding a stick half the thickness of my arm like he was going to brain her with it. I started running back toward them, thinking “What do I think I can do to stop him? And please don’t let me step on a cactus!”

And noticing that my grandmother was sitting in her chair, just holding her drink. And laughing. When I got to the fence, I could see that both my grandparents were laughing so hard they had tears in their eyes.

I don’t remember which one of them asked me what I thought I was going to do when I got there. I do remember saying “I had no idea. I just ran because she was hollering.”

When I asked what was going on, Mama told me me Mandy had sassed my grandfather and he had threatened to take a switch to her. So, she sassed him again. Probably saying something along the line of “You will not either.”

He never would have. That was not his way. And part of what was absurd was the tree branch he had picked up. If he’d hit her with that, he would have broken bones. The idea of it was ludicrous.

(The only spanking any of us ever got was 3 swats on a clothed bottom on the side of a very busy road where I had been taking a parade of cousins for a walk. It hadn’t occurred to me that walking beside the highway that ran in front of their house was different than walking on the sidewalk in my quiet neighborhood at home. We scared the life out of all the grown ups that day.)

“Save me, Kitty. Save me.” was one of my grandmother’s favorite stories to tell on us. She was still laughing about it 30 years later when we were grown and he had been dead for more than 20 years.

story grandparents' yard acre 4 - klparmley | ello

This was taken at my parents’ wedding. She was 5 years younger than I am now. He was a year older than her. I was born a year and a half later.

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Remembering my grandparents

I remember my grandmother holding me up to see a cat with new kittens in a dead tree stump that must have been 4.5 feet tall. Because of the shape of the house, I had to have been <4 years old. A renovation took out the porch every one else was sitting on.

I remember sitting in the light of the fire and the Xmas tree lights, eating pound cake and drinking orange juice because she forgot to buy more milk. I think I was 9 or 10.

I remember rides in the cart pulled by my grandfather’s tractor to go pick out, chop down and haul in the Xmas tree. It was a very bumpy ride and it never occurred to us that he already knew which tree he intended for us to choose.

I remember my grandfather letting me hold a baby chick and when I tried to pick one up for myself being chased by the rooster. I was 5.

I remember him taking his pistol outside at dawn because the chickens were making a ruckus. He held up a 6′ rat snake with a rake when we went to the door after we heard the gunshot. I think I was 4 or 5.

I remember going out to the garden in my underpants with a salt shaker in my hand and picking a tomato to eat it like it was an apple. I was 2 or 3.

Who to blame

A conversation on FaceBook (modified for clarity)

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J: Except many people didn’t vote because they were mad about Bernie.

K: Then, they gave their votes to Trump because they didn’t vote against him. They are as responsible for his election as the people who actively chose him.

J: I agree. But this graphic forgets that.

J: I don’t blame Bernie Sanders. But I do blame a lot of his followers who were too stubborn to vote for Clinton

 K: I don’t care WHY they didn’t vote. They didn’t. Now, we have to live with that choice.

J: Well yes, and no. I mean understanding why people don’t vote is a step toward getting them to vote?

J: I’m starting to wonder if we should have compulsory vote like they do in some countries.

 K: Part of the problem is the Electoral College. And no Republican Congress is every going to kill that evil entity because it keeps giving them elections they didn’t win popularly.

K: I think the 2 party systems is a problem, too. And it will take a HUGE grassroots movement for an extended time to change that. Because it will have to come from very local elections, first.

K: And, no. Understanding why they didn’t vote isn’t a step to getting them to vote. That’s like a vegetarian going to a dinner at a barbecue restaurant and letting their friends order for them.

J: I don’t understand your analogy

K: As a non-eater-of-fowl-or-mammal, going out to dinner with some people has been difficult. Especially when then change in diet was fairly new. Even dining at a place called Beef O’Brady’s, I can find a meal. Not what I would have chosen in someplace like Living Kitchen, but adequate for my immediate need.

K: Voting can be like that. You don’t get what you want. So, you do your best to make the least bad choice.

K: And not voting is like telling a waitress at Beef O’Brady’s to pick a meal out for me.

J: Ah, I see what you’re saying.
L: Or not eating.
K: That’s where my analogy quits working. In the case of voting, not ordering means you get a plate that you must eat no matter what your preferences are. Even if it’s a shit sandwich.
 K: I hold non-voters as much responsible for this as the people who actually voted for the Psycho in Chief.

Conversation with 20-something

Them: If someone’s entire ideology is based around the idea that people like me and people of color have to be violently expunged from existence, even a violent response is self defense. To say otherwise is gaslighting.

Ergo: bash the fash.

Me: What do your peers say is the reason they don’t vote?

Them: “if it were possible to vote away their wealth, the rich would never allow you to do it.”

Typically it’s a pretty in depth analysis of how utterly broken and vile every elected official has been, and how their time is better spent organizing their own communities, and exemplifying direct action.

Me: Do they not know they can do both? And that who they vote for locally is significant?

Them: They despise the government on an even local level.

Me: They will never change it without using the voting booth as one of their tools.

Them: Tbh they’d rather have an actual revolution. Changing the system from within is a joke.

Voting for who is going to not represent your interests bc the other person who won’t represent your interests to a marginally noticeable degree more seems pointless to people who want to burn the entire system down.

Some more literally than figuratively.

Me: This does not give me hope.

We went to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University today. Ostensibly, it was to see this installation, entitled Precarity, by John Akomfrah. But, of course, we saw everything else while we were there, too. It is based on the life of “Charles ‘Buddy’ Bolden, the first person known to have explored the sonic tonalities of the music we now call jazz.”

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There is a single row of benches in the room. And, in the beginning, we had to stand by the wall because all the seats were occupied. When a group got to their starting place and left, we sat at the end of that bench. But, it was too close for me to see all 3 screens without a lot of head turning. So, I moved back to the wall.

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It’s a curious piece. There’s no actual narrative. But, it’s still very moving. Some of the triptychs are the same scene from different angles. Some are different scenes entirely. There is old footage from the time of Bolden’s life in addition to new footage of … I guess, ghosts of his life.

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I’m glad I saw it.

French map

I am addressing the next phase of my wine education by trying to learn where the wines I enjoy come from with an eye to elevation and soil.

Michelle Gibson, the owner, manager, former wine distributor and all around sweetheart at the Cork and Cow is always very informative if I know the correct question to ask.  But, my geography class was a very long time ago.

I found this map of France and have saved it so that I can have a peek at the topography of where the French wines I like come from.

French regions

The wine shop in Hillsborough has maps on the walls that I can use when I’m there and my iPad has begun traveling with me to Burlington.

March wine

My choice at the monthly wine club was 2 bottles of Oak Farm Vineyards Zinfandel from Lodi, California. The vineyard was installed in a place that had an oak grove and the owners refused to remove the trees in order to plant the grapes, thus, the name. The wine is aged in oak casks, too. This gives the wine a delightful and unexpected spiciness.  It retails for $20.

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Friday is usually “shopping in Hillsborough night” with a stop at the Hillsborough wine store for a taste and a glass followed by dinner and grocery shopping at the Weaver Street Market coop.  There is usually a distributor doing a little wine tasting at the coop, too.  So, between Tuesday at the Cork and Cow and Friday in Hillsborough, we have a nice range of opportunities to taste a lot of fermented grape juice.

Last Friday netted us 2 whites that are intended to go with mussels the next time we find them.

The Maz Caz is a 2016 French blend from Costieres de Nimes in the southeastern region near Marsailles made of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne. We got that from the tasting table at the wine shop.  It retails for $19, but was on sale for $14 because it was part of the tasting.

Our second purchase was a surprising Muscadet that is absolutely not sweet and has a nice body. Château de l’Oiselinière is in the middle of the west coast southeast of Nantes. This one cost $11.

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Purpose

“Things don’t have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function. What’s the function of a galaxy? I don’t know if our life has a purpose and I don’t see that it matters. What does matter is that we’re a part. Like a thread in a cloth or a grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven

(Michelle posted this and I stole it because it is correct.)