Familial political polarity and other tongue twisters


ImageOh, Gawd. It’s that time again, for politics to rear its ugly head and my family life to become more complicated than a transvestite circus wardrobe closet.  My family is very polarized, politically. You might say we are bipolitical. Which is close to being bipolar. It drives me mad.

When I was growing up, I was very interested in politics. I can remember many discussions over the dinner table. And I would like to say more about this, but my family wishes I wouldn’t, so I’ve self-censored this portion of my post. Perhaps I have socialist leanings – no, definitely I have socialist leanings. And it doesn’t bother me. Pink is my favorite color.

I have three sisters, one of whom is now gone, bless her soul. And she was a good Democrat, and so is my older sister. My youngest sister is not all that political, but she definitely leans to the right. Which is understandable, because she is a business woman and a very good one. So I forgive her. My three brothers are all out right wingers. And they are loudly vocal about it. They have been known to harangue us for hours with their views.

When George the Second was selected (you notice I am not bitter) in 2000, I was pretty steamed. In Paris, in 2003 I marched with Americans Against the War from the Bastille to the Chatelet, proudly. And my family fumed. I was anti-American. I was a traitor. I was Ok with that. When Obama was elected in a landslide in 2008, I was vindicated, even though I had really wanted Hillary to get the nod.  And I’m voting for him in November. Yes, I’m a left-wing liberal, a proud watcher of the Newsroom and a member of the Democratic Underground.  We were going to have a family get-together, but politics reared its ugly head and the Republicans amongst us decided they couldn’t come around the Democrats.

The problem? People who are polarized about their politics aren’t willing to hear the other side of the issue. I am trying not to be like that. I’m putting my efforts into being a citizen of the world, and not a die-hard anything. The truth is, we are all in this together, and we will either hang together or separately. OK, not my quote. I borrowed that. But you get the gist.

My Great Grandmother Cates

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Margaret E. Travis Cates, C. 1885

Imagine having this woman as your mother-in-law. This was the reality for my grandmother, Eliza May Pefferly, who married Edward Cates, my grandfather. Margaret Cates was a formidable woman, as her picture shows. I of course have no memory of her, as she died when my father was still a young child. I can remember my grandmother, though, and her hatred of her mother-in-law was obvious, decades later.

I can only imagine what this woman’s life must have been like. In this picture, she is wearing traditional widow’s weeds, with the snood over her hair and the dress covering all of her body. She looks stern and unapproachable. Unfortunately, I was told as a child that I resembled her. Not so much in looks, but in spirit. That is something to ponder, indeed!

Until today, I had not seen a picture of her. But while at my  Cousin Fern’s (she was married to my father’s first cousin), we discovered the photo and she gave it to me to keep. So now I offer it to all, and say “Thanks, Fern!”



You knew I could deal with it.
So when you made your exit,
You didn’t bother to say goodbye
Just hopped on the train and moved on.
You always said I was strong
And I’m one to have on your side
And that I can handle any crisis
Without crumbling into a heap.
But the children grieve the loss
Of a father they loved more than me
While I have no time for sorrow
For things have to be done right now.
I can’t feel you here and my memory fades.
Only when I look at pictures do I feel
The longing and the love for one so dear
Who left so fast on that night train
And never looked back at what he left.
Copyright 2012

Cleaning house the spiritual way


ImageI’m a seeker of the light. That is how I define my religion. I was raised Methodist, but soon learned that for me, the traditional religions leave much to be desired. In this column alone, I cannot describe everything I believe in, but I can share with you a cleansing ritual I use. Ritual is important in our lives, because it gives us a way to express our emotions and to enlarge our spiritual presence. The cleansing ritual is meant to clean the slate and clear the air, and is very rewarding.

First, you need some incense. I use many different types of incense, but for cleansing I use cedar as a finisher. I begin with a sage stick, which is a bundle of dried white buffalo sage tied with string. You can buy these at most health food stores, or online. They come in various sizes. I also use white candles in my ritual, and sea salt. Before using the sage stick, prepare a bowl with sand, so the sage can be put out easily. It is also a good idea to have a container of water nearby in case anything starts to flame. Flame is not what is wanted – smoke is what is wanted.

Before doing the ritual, prepare your mind by saying a prayer to your God, and ask for protection and cleansing. State what you wish to accomplish. For example, if you wish to rid negative influences from your life, ask for that. This is a very powerful ritual that can have so many positive benefits for one’s soul. After praying, light a white candle and then dip the white sage in the flame, until it catches fire; let it burn a little, then blow out the flame on the sage. At this point, the sage should smoke. Go around your house and let the smoke fill all the rooms from corner to corner – you don’t need to have a lot of smoke – a little goes a long way. The idea is to cleanse, and think of cleansing as you do the ritual. When all the house has been smudged, then, douse the sage in the sand, and light the cedar incense in several places in your home. While that burns, take sea salt and throw it in all four corners of your house and over each threshold. Again, it doesn’t take a lot of salt. It’s the ritual here – not the amount of salt – that is important. Then douse the first white candle, and light another in a safe place, visualizing peace, serenity and protection from negativity. This ends the ritual. With the proper mindset, this cleansing ritual can be very positive and rewarding. The visualization of cleansing and protection is the important element. The ritual can be repeated any time you feel a need for cleansing.

Dear Pippa: Dating Advice for the digitally-challenged


ImageDear Pippa:

I’m a widow.I have a profile on an Internet dating site, and because I believe in full disclosure, I have photos of myself, both a head shot and some full body shots of me. I didn’t photoshop these, because if a man doesn’t like me for who I really am, I want to know before he connects with me. I’m over 60, look good for my age, but I’m a bit plump. Not grossly fat, but I’m not a runway model either. Truth is, I’ve never been really thin. It isn’t my body type. The other day I got a reply from a man who said I should lose weight and then I would be more attractive. Needless to say, this hurt my feelings. Why did he feel the urge to tell me that, when it would have taken less effort to click off my profile and find someone more to his liking? Oh, and by the way, this guy is no Adonis. His profile shows he is divorced. He has a body shot of himself in his underwear (boxers, not briefs), standing next to the shower. He is not attractive, at least not to me, and he has a gut that he is obviously holding in for dear life in the photo. Also, he shows pictures of his house, which is a cluttered mess. So maybe I should consider the source. But still, I’m miffed. Should I take my photos down? Should I stop looking for love online? Please tell me what to do.

Normal woman looking for love

Dear Normal:

The guy is a putz. Pure and simple. He obviously should look in the mirror and see himself for what he is. And beauty is not skin deep. You have already seen this man’s soul for what he is – can you imagine living with someone like this? No wonder he is divorced. And from what you say of his profile, he is a loser who will have a hard time finding a good woman who will even pause for a second on his profile. Rest assured that you have done the right thing in putting up pictures that show you as you are. I guarantee that the right person will come along for you, either online or in person, and they will see your inner beauty and appreciate your outer self for its honesty. But you should tell this loser a few things, in the interest of helping him to improve his profile. Here’s a suggestion:

Well, gee, Internet Dating Man, thanks for your advice. I’m sure you mean well. So I will not take it that you are trying to insult me. Because as your profile claims, you are trying to be kind, considerate and sincere. I’m also glad that you are into fitness and that you don’t have a problem with your weight. It is wonderful to know that some people just never have to deal with that issue in their lives. But here’s some advice from me: a man never comments on a woman’s weight. It makes him seem shallow and only interested in the outside of the package. And I’m sure that is not your problem, because you seem to be such a kind, considerate and sincere guy.
Also, the picture of you in the bathroom in your shorts is such a turn on. Most women are so thrilled to see a man in his shorts, with his gut hanging out. Very sexy. Some more advice – don’t spend so much time in the sun. With your pasty white complexion, that could lead to sun cancer and ugly sun spots, which would probably destroy your chances to go out with a woman who could match up with your desire for perfection and beauty. Oh, and the picture of the cluttered rooms in your house show you to be such a catch. 
Sincerely and with such gratitude for your comments, Normal.

I hope this helps. And chin up!


(Send  questions about your love life to Pippa at Ozarklady777@gmail.com)

Dear Pippa: Dating advice for the over-the-hill gang


(Send  letters to Pippa at Ozarklady777@gmail.com)Image

Dear Pippa

My new boyfriend loves dogs, and I have cats. Not only that, but he is allergic to cats. Every time he comes over, I have to vacuum carefully, remove all cat dander from the furniture and bedding, and hide the cats in the garage until he leaves. My cats are like family.  I really don’t think it is fair that the cats have to stay in the garage while he is here. I tell him to pop a Benadryl and deal with it, but then he threatens to break up. And, if that weren’t bad enough, when I go over to his place, he insists on his giant Great Dane joining us in the bedroom, while we make love. There’s something disconcerting about having a big dog sitting in the corner, licking his private parts and panting while we are in the throes of passionate sex? What should I do?

Cat Lover in the Ozarks

Dear Cat Lover:

This is a common problem, especially for older people who are dating again after divorce or the death of a spouse. If your boyfriend refuses to remove the dog, I’d remove the boyfriend from my life. I can understand him not wanting to “pop a Benadryl,” but really, what does he think makes him so special? If you had a child, say with  Downs syndrome, and he was turned off by that child and insisted he or she be out of the house while he visits, what would you do? Exactly. You’d tell him to get out and stay out. Here’s a suggestion: instead of throwing the big baby out with the bathwater, insist that he spring for a hotel room when you want to get intimate. That way, nobody has to do anything different, the pets stay at home, and he can pay for the privilege. And while you are there, if he goes for it, take a black light and point out all the love juice left behind by others on the bedding. I’m sure he will take another look at all of this with a “different light.” But honey, no man is worth changing your life for. And your principles. Tell him to shape up or ship out.


And in other news . . .

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OK, enough with the sturm and drang and all that. From now on this blog is happy and full of nice thoughts. (Yeah, right.) But do look for some uplifting posts to come. I’m working on one right now. So do not despair, dear readers! Just keep reading. We are not there yet.