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The Betty Blog

2006 Archive

December 24, 2006 – Christmas Eve

Checking in on Big Brother Stan . . . or
Mississippi and Castro Memories on the Night Before

Christmas Eve means taking a look down the long halls of years gone by and old times there. It is a mushy time of sentiments baked up in a Santa-shaped pan. It is a time of memories so real you can imagine turning around and seeing the Christmas tree over in the corner next to the black and white RCA Victor TV.

You can almost hear Pop in the kitchen, slicing up a pan of cracklin’ bread, and his fireplace is roaring on a chilly holiday evening. You can almost hear Miss Louise’s voice say it’s time to wrap the last presents before we turn right around and open every one.

You can almost hear Pop turn on the big console stereo he bought when he and Miss Louise decided I never was going to play my piano very well. He would sing along and dance around and smile.

Sometimes even now, when I cannot sleep, I join Pop in the kitchen and we cook up smoked sausage links, each one to wrap in a fresh slice of bread. He has a glass of milk and dips some cornbread in it . . .

@Brother Stan and I shared a bit of sibling love this afternoon by phone, declaring we’d see each other come next year – too long without my soft football tackle big bro to share a big steak, potato and salad or catfish with hushpuppies.

Stan enjoys most any southern dish sister-in-law Carol cooks up. They have been together a long time, and I begin to think just maybe there is hope for true love and lifelong relationships. Yet I remain conflicted.

He and Carol have a good life and share common traditions, Ole Miss games, drives in the big RV to Duck Hill or Destin‘s panhandle Rivera beaches. Theirs is an existence so different, foreign, alien to my state of being . . . or is it really that different at all?

Liz and John do a great rendition of Carol when they recall the time she said “Stanley, look at all the queers!” when they visited, and she also worried about SARS when driving through Chinatown. She collects teddy bears, so one year I gave her one in leather from a shop up the street. When I asked if she knew what it was, she said "Why yes, that's my little gay bear."

What fun we can still have acting out silly family memories . . . and Stan’s ubiquitous “I’m for ya!” or his “It’s a hell-of-a deal!” or he deliberataely misquotes Art James, saying "Strategy is what counts. The scores can really change. And, we play the hell out of this game!"

Stan once allowed as how he and I had stretched our parents’ envelopes . . . no, he didn’t use those exact words . . . both of us being divorced from first marriages, and he, quite the playboy and freedom of choice advocate before Carol caught his eye and his heart. He said that before knowing I'd come out a year or so earlier.

I do wish they were all here to join me at the Castro Theatre tonight with Dr. Kathleen and “Tha’ Guys” when SFGMC does “Home for the Holidays,” and I’m there and then at Jim’s for late Christmas Eve supper with our kind of family . . . making memories of our own to some day look back upon and think the thought: "You can almost hear the car keys for the 'Jingle Bells' sing-a-long."

The old year closes by and by, and I have come to realize this cyber blog is now on the short list of my most spiritual spots, on earth or in the ether.

Alaska Department of Tourism Photo

Posted by BettyS @ 12:55 PM

December 19, 2006

Christmas Memories from Round About Culkin . . . or
Ole Pop Would Have Been Ninety-Five Today

Every year when the first weekend in December came, Pop found a place to mount the loud speakers and blast Christmas tunes out into the community. Neighborhood was not a word we would have used for the area outside of town where we lived.

@Town, as we called it, referred to Vicksburg, quite a small city nestled on the bluffs of the Mississippi River near the battlefield where Confederate troupes surrendered to U.S. Grant after the Civil War siege of 1863.  Culkin was the community, the school, the football team and the hill next to the school where we lived in what was then known as a teacher’s home built on 16th section land set aside by the Mississippi Legislature to help fund the school districts.

Up and down Culkin Road went the sounds of Guy Lombardo & the Royal Canadian’s rendition of "Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer."  Pop also dearly loved the Robert Rheims Choraliers Organ and Chimes albums, and the red hue of their 12” vinyls was all the more evidence they were to be revered. He’d sing along in his big bass voice to "Silent Night," "Joy to the World" and so many more.

Pop and Stan climbed up to the very top of the Culkin house where we lived and placed a thick wood pole down the chimney. There they mounted steel brackets to hold the loud speakers. That chimney had never worked as long as I could remember, since we enjoyed the privilege of gas heat during the time when only the less fortunate still had to tend a fireplace.

Stan and I never seemed to worry about the chimney for Santa Claus, though, as we’d been assured he could just as well park his sleigh on the lawn and come right in the living room door. It would be left unlocked all night long.

@Stan and I went with Pop in his Plymouth coupe he named "Scrambolla" down the blacktop road toward Oak Ridge to old Mr. Morris’ place where we were given special dispensation to chop down an evergreen tree. I got to stand behind where Stan and Pop sat, between the seat and the coupe's back window.

The tree we picked, cut and loaded in the trunk was to be placed in the corner of our living room next to the black and white RCA Victor TV. We rode back up the gravel road that wound around to the top of Culkin hill with that tree flopping out the back of Scrambolla. I can still hear the rocks in the gravel pop against each other. Those were the same rocks that I cultivated an intimate relationship with during summer months when the inevitable bicycle wreck occurred and the perennial scar on my left kneecap appeared and then went away as the annual new skin layer happened there.
With the tree standing tall next to that TV and securred with wire to the window seal, my mom, Miss Louise, pulled out the cardboard storage box. It held strings of lights to be tested and equipped with replacement bulbs should any fail to light. I always asked for more red ones. Stan always said he wanted more blue. 

The glass balls and bells were added, along with strands of Woolworth icicles brought home anew amongst each year’s shopping treasures. I would marvel every evening, once the lights were on, at the sparkles and reflections swirling within the starburst indentations of the ornaments, some red with green splashes, some red with silver, some green with red and every variation thereof.  I marveled at the icicles. I marveled at the lights and the sounds and the smells.

Decades later, my eyes would feast again upon those same glass ornaments when I found them among the antique holiday items at a Cow Palace Antique Show - a true journey of nostalgia if there ever was one.

On our shopping trips, Miss Louise and I bought fragrances at The Valley Dry Goods Store and fineries from Adele’s Dress Shop where we knew all the town society ladies shopped and we could too, even though we never would be truly among them. Yet Miss Louise’s intellect and Pop’s position in school administration secured our place as a highly regarded family of public servants and community leaders.

We found peppermint candy canes at the Jitney Jungle grocery store that could be added to the tree, and purchased extra sugar, pecans and cocoa for the obligatory divinity and fudge candies. Miss Louise blushed a bit when we stopped by the liquor store for the bottle of burgundy wine her favorite cranberry salad recipe called for. She would pour and sip a bit of the leftover once the proper amount was added. 

One year she discovered instructions in a magazine for making a Red Velvet Cake with its butter and pecan frosting, and Christmas was never Christmas again without us baking at least one. She even let me make one for my basketball team to celebrate over when we won our final game before the season break.

Today is ole Pop’s birthday. He would be 95 had he lived til now. His was a long, productive and sometimes tumultuous life. My nemesis and my hero, my primary role model and source of my demons all rolled into one. Miss Louise would have made him a fresh coconut cake as that was his very favorite and only dessert. He never put much stock in the Red Velvet one and hardly liked any candies at all. Oh, he might try a horehound hard drop if his throat were sore. But, the fresh coconut cake, you know, it was sure to bring a smile. That was all he ever wanted being that his birthday was in December and less than a week before what was for him the biggest holiday of all.


                                                                                                    (Betty's List Photo)
Posted by BettyS @ 5:00 AM

December 15, 2006

‘Tis the Season, Isn’t It? . . . or
Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Don’t

One poet or other I read once wrote that November is the grayest month. Too bad my search can’t find anything about who it was that said so.

Be that as it may – an English teacher of mine often pronounced - I found our recent Thursday the 30th a grateful end to the 11th month and have been riding high on holiday spirit since. 

Now comes the mid-December let down . . . no doubt as a result of way too much merrymaking. As in one after another after another.  Three last night, one tonight and two tomorrow, including an annual Hanukkah soiree that keeps me mindful of wonderful Jewish women . . . and men, too.

They like to hear me say Yiddish words. Has thus been true since my intro to the culture of his lansman by Liz’s other mommy’s dad, Dr. Ted, the quintessential psychotherapist who grew up in Washington Heights after coming over . . . who taught many a doc-to-be at UT Med School in Memphis about tending to homosexual patients-to-be.

I’ll never forget walking into a Yeshiva school near Kennedy in Queens one time, when quite drenched from a rain storm, I tossed out an “Oy vey!” only to have it met with much glee. Apparently my version had a few extra syllables. Oh well. And more than one has enjoyed my version of ongepatshket or meshugener, and one time I was told my last name should be Solomon rather than the Irish it is.

Today’s question, though, is can I recover from the kopveytik of last night, pick myself up and climb back in the ring this evening? Maybe, at best.

Sometimes you feel like a . . .  Sometimes you don’t.

                                                                                                (Betty's List Photo)
Posted by BettyS @ 5:00 PM

December 7, 2006

She Sang at Least Six Verses to Us Right There on the Spot . . . or
You Never Know What Life’s Going to Bring Along Next

Readers have been checking to see if I've added a new entry in the blog. This one is surely musings, rambling but musings just the same . . .

I heard Ophra the other night interviewing a highly successful young man, a television producer, who had some years ago attempted suicide. She asked if he was glad he failed in his attempt. He replied yes . . . and allowed as how one never knows what life’s going to bring, if you can just hold on.

Hearing his holding on comment made me think again about some of the women and men who have, from time to time, touched my life in ways that made a difference and moved things in a new direction.

@Well, in just the past week, two of those remarkable moments - when you know you have been touched - came to pass. One I won’t tell about yet, as it’s still unfolding. It has to wait a while. Like a pot simmering, you know.

The other was when a stunning woman approached as we sat there staffing our table at the Women’s Crafts Fair . . .

She sang at least six verses to us. She sang “The Cherry Tree Carol.” She sang in tune and with authenticity in her voice. She nary missed a word of the haunting rhyme. People walking along, sure they stopped to stare, but she didn’t care and neither did I nor did my pals Cathy, Danielle and Janis, who were sitting by. (Hear Emmy Lou Harris sing it on Rhapsody) This was my most favorite moment at this year’s 14th Annual Celebration of Craftswomen at Fort Mason. Have you been there?

@Flashback to 1995 and I was broken, trying to figure out what life was about and if it was worth living after a grave break-up of the relationship that brought me out west, a dark time for sure.

One angelic women, though, she did welcome me to San Francisco after I’d fled from Santa Cruz, my initial stop . . . that sweet woman who grew up in the hill country outside Atlanta, she introduced me to the “Women’s Crafts Fair” - as it’s commonly known – this annual benefit for the legendary Women’s Building.

Walking the aisles for the first time, I was captivated by booth after booth after booth of beautiful things . . . jewelry, textiles, pottery, photography, sculpture, candles, novelty items, earrings and earrings and more earrings . . .  so many handmade clothing items you could hardly wait to touch or try them on.

@Eleven years later, now I’m back at that same Crafts Fair in the same Herbst Pavillion, but with an information table set-up and hundreds of attendees stopping by to say hello and become subscribers to our list or just to have fun and carry on with us. It’s the blarney or malarkey that keeps you going hour by hour.

Another prize moment came, though, when Trudi with her two young daughters joined us and Grace demonstrated how “to do” an elephant. Now, I would never have dreamed Grace could make elephant sounds the way she can . . . but . . . well . . . she does.  She does, in fact, know a lot about wildlife and she does work for The Discovery Channel. That’s true. This past week Grace had surgery and I’m sad about it, but glad she’s going to be okay.

@That lovely woman, the Crafts Fair goer who sang that carol to us, . . . she was just walking down the aisle singing softly to herself and my ear perked up. Years of attending Christmas Revels, in addition to Dr. Boswell’s folklore class at Ole Miss, have clued me in to early holiday sounds harkening back to England . . . ballads and carols collected by Francis James Child, and later, by Cecil Sharp . . . as sung traditionally by minstrels journeying across the land around Europe round about the 16th Century, before and after too.

That moment was the start of the Holiday Season this year for me. A few days later Liz and I went up the street to find the Delancy Street Christmas Tree lot and pick out ours. She and I went the next day to Macy’s at Union Square and cut up in the hat department so much so that other shoppers joined in and the result was a line of us at the cash register waiting to pay. We caused a bit of a run on hats that day. Like the guy said on Ophra, well, you just never know . . .

                                                                                                (Betty's List Photo)
Posted by BettyS @ 11:55 PM

November 23, 2006 - Thanksgiving Day

 “I.M.P.E.A.C.H. Bush!” Signs Outside the SaveMart Arena
Or . . . How We Became the Paparazzi Coming Back from Fresno

This is a Tuesday-to-Tuesday tale I’m telling on the Thursday known as Thanksgiving.

Liz put on her sweet southern voice, admitting we were lost, and the locals took pity on us more than once. A friendly soul even drove out of her way leading us from downtown Sacramento, where we ended up, out to the Arco Arena. Never ever trust MapQuest.

The first sighting of Emily, Natalie and Martie onstage is a thing to behold. The petite one is in the middle surrounded by two willowy, harmonizing beauties making serious music with their hands who are surrounded, in turn, by a nine-piece band of talented musicians.

Seeing “Tha’ Girls” in person, live after three years of hoping to, as they cranked up to “Lubbock or Leave It,” was nothing short of a moment. Seeing their show three times in four days was well. . . dy-no-mite. Our subscribers were there, too, at each venue, Sacto on Tuesday, Fresno on Thursday and Oakland on Friday night.

I was equally mesmerized watching the audience, a friendly crowd in the midst of a shared visual and auditory feast. It is loud. No other word describes it, and that is no complaint. They knew all the words, sang along, screamed, shouted, whistled, waved “Natalie for President” signs and stood up almost the entire show. “Goodbye, Earl” was their anthem. “Not Ready to Make Nice,” a communal clarion call. What must it be like to hear, from the performer's stage position, that unified roar of thousands singing along?

Traveling back from Fresno Thursday night, I noted that the unmarked buses with Tennessee plates we were passing, just after midnight just beyond the Altamont Pass, just might be their caravan. It was. Liz shouted a big hello as Natalie stepped off one of the four. She smiled back.

It was a Friday night crowd in Oakland. Three high school teachers from Alameda sitting next to me offered to share their concoction of Red Bull and vodka and made it clear they were celebrating the end of a long week. I commented on never seeing that stuff used as mixer and they assured me their students put all sorts of things with it for a big buzz.

DCX had a Friday night too, with what must have been among the most receptive audiences of the tour . . . given who we are in the Bay Area. Natalie flirted with the crowd, chatted from the stage with the wife of a former Texas high school boyfriend, checked in between songs to ask how we were doing and if we needed a drink. She was having fun (so were we), and welcomed Martie and Emily’s family members sitting in the front row. She said they must know somebody.

Warding off withdrawal on Saturday, we saw “Shut Up and Sing” at the Metreon. Tuesday night of this week, they performed on the American Music Awards. Liz declared she was sure Natalie had a cold and that explains why they opted to sing “Easy Silence” on a program otherwise dominated by high-energy tunes.

The Accidents and Accusations Tour began almost six months ago in Detroit and is winding down to a December 5th close in Dallas.  If you are a fan, go visit and you can find out what they have been up to on an almost daily basis. I have recently struck up an e-conversation with the web master after seeing her name in the credits for Barbara Kopple's movie.

I am done writing about them for a while. Believe that?


                                                                                                                                (Betty's List Photos)

Posted by BettyS @ 11:55 PM

November 12, 2006

Maybe I Do Act Like a Teenager About Them . . .
I’m Glad I Still Can, and Furthermore, Who Cares?

You know what it’s like wanting to say something profound, but not being sure where to go with it? Well, this is the story of how I became a Dixie Chicks fan. Even they have admitted theirs is a dumb name for a band. They are on the way to perform in three Northern California cities, so it is Dixie Chicks Week on Betty's List right now.

Easy to know is that I’m a classic example of a post “Incident” fan. That means I’d hardly paid any attention before the bro-ha-ha set off by Natalie’s comment at Shepard’s Bush Auditorium in London on March 10th, 2003. They were not even a blip on my screen.

In retrospect, I’d probably seen them less than two months prior singing the Star Spangled Banner on ABC’s live coverage, January 26th, of Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego. I may have also seen them or even heard them perform on music awards programs. Still, nothing had yet penetrated my oblivion.

Then came the zinger day when my daughter Elizabeth called from her home in Mississippi and started talking about the Dixie Chicks being in trouble for what Natalie had said about President George Bush. How vividly I recall even where I sat. She said the group's CDs were being crushed and maybe burned. She said that there was a boycott of their songs by country music radio.

Beginning to take note, there was that troublesome word "Dixie" that seemed odd and perhaps reversely rebellious in the context of anything progressive. The irony was startlingly.

But my button was pushed. The words I heard and the name “Bush” bumped against my prior decades of working on First Amendment education projects and carrying that torch on lonesome trips all over this and other nations for freedom of the press, freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

I didn’t know it yet, but somewhere in my psyche, our family was expanded by three. Natalie became my other daughter, a walking, talking, singing First Amendment lesson. Martie and Emily, our first cousins. Three stood together as one, and no, they didn't shut up.

One should not come by her chosen celebrities easily, but once you've got ‘em, love ‘em for all they’re worth . . . and by all means, enjoy!

Here, then, three years later, Elizabeth is taking me for my first times to see "Tha Girls" performing in Sacramento on Tuesday, Fresno on Thursday, and then some close friends in community are going for the finale show of the week in Oakland on Friday night. 

Yes, I do expect . . . I’ll fly away!

                                                                                                    (Fan Blog Photo)

Posted by BettyS @ 12:30 AM

November 10, 2006

Yes, It’s True That I Like to Write . . . or
If Only Miss Louise Were Here to Be Our Editor!

Darn it, I hate making a mistake!

Someone told me today that I have “the gift of writing.” What a wonderful thing to hear, as you can imagine, and I was very touched. Miss Louise is to be thanked or blamed. She is the one who told me to write and told me to write and told me to write. She had me reading The Elements of Style sitting in the dentist's office, and we talked about words on the way to the grocery store and while she ironed my gym shirts.

On some days, though, I go back through our web site and cringe when I see typos that have to be corrected. If Miss Louise were still with us, she would be copyeditor. She would be 91 years old and still worrying about the rules of grammar and what to mark with her red pencil. Assignments her eagle eye corrected might drip with red here and there.

On some days, I make dumb mistakes . . . like today, when I accidentally sent a message meant for our Ladies Go Biking group e-mail list to our big list (“Betty’s List”) which meant that everyone on the big list had to endure receiving one that was actually intended to go to a specialized list. That also meant that thousands of people read about Kathleen's broken toe.  

So I’m human, but there are standards of excellence that I intend to, want to . . . do require that we maintain. Just say “I’m sorry”? That’s what movie stars and politicians do when they goof up . . . but no, I am not a movie star, never will be, and I won't be running for office.

Miss Louise always said that the keys to being a writer were simple. Do it a lot . . . that’s one thing she said over and over. Read a lot. Read everything . . . that’s the other thing . . . and also, enjoy reading frequently the work of those whose writing styles you admire, whomever they may be . . . she said.

On some days, I miss Miss Louise a lot.

                                                           (City of Vicksburg Photo)

Posted by BettyS @ 7:30 PM, 11/10/06

November 5, 2006

Juneau What I Mean About Losing Stuff? . . . or
Sure Do Hope It Will Come Back!

It’s true. This Juneau usage is too cute. Like . . . I know. You know. Juneau. I hate having a hard time keeping up with stuff, and you know I don’t mean stuff.

Like last night I left my handy dandy digital on the backseat of a good friend’s car . . . so, no new photos today from last night’s adventures around about doing what we used to call party hoppin’. Darn it. Ala Jake Shears, "No new photos, no Sir, no photos today."  . . . and you know I don’t mean darn it.

The entry dated 9/24/06 mentions about going to the top of Juneau’s Mount Roberts in a tram for a soda in the Timberline Bar & Grill and a live look at Gastineau Channel. I so loved the view. So loved seeing examples of Tlingit totemic motifs in the gift shop and here and there. Enjoyed viewing the award winning film “Seeing Daylight,” shown every half hour in the Chilkat Theater way up there on top.

After the film, I recalled, time to head quickly over to the little girls room . . . nagh! . . . “The Women’s Room.” Remember the book by that title? Then, back at sea level aboard ship, I have one of those moments realizing my favorite black hip pack bag did not return with me up the gang plank. How could that be? 

Called Althea . . . the pretty girl in Juneau. She searched, others searched the Tram facility and over at the Red Dog Saloon where we went after the tram . . . but nothing. Nothing. I was resigned to seeking a new one after missing use of the lost one on the last two Ladies Go Biking outings. But . . . it’s been very b-u-s-y around here and no one knows why that didn't get done!

Well, now, almost two months later, a package arrives. I’m not expecting any packages, but let’s see. It has a mailing label from the Mount Roberts Tramway and a card inside from Marlis Mayeda, guest services manager. Smile! Smile! Smile! Juneau! 

Opened the pouch zipper to find the binoculars, the obligatory Betty's List notepad and the prescription eye drops that caused me to spend a day in Sitka sitting at the pharmacy rather than on a shore excursion. Darn it, and I didn’t say darn it on that day, but today it is truly Smile! Smile! Smile!

This weekend, our friend Anne left her pocketbook in a restaurant on Mission Street and realized it just about a block from the Castro. But, Barb hightailed it back, and indeed, the bag had been placed safely behind the counter awaitng her. And one other, we-won’t-say-who, left her credit cards at MECCA, but sure enough, they were waiting there safely when we went by to pick them up. I must not be the only one who loses things now and then and they come back.

Ture confession. Juneau was not my first time. There was the wallet left on the Long Island Railroad car picked up and messengered back to me intact by a nice New York lawyer. There was the bag left on the seat of a cab just outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue that the US Postal Service returned in one of those plastic bags after it was found “loose in the mail.”

Maybe I was due for another Samaritan return. Now, if only one or two of those earrings would just show up . . . Juneau? See the "Visit to Juneau" photo album.

So, if you are one of our devoted blog readers and would like to have a low tech Betty's List notepad like the one that came back from Juneau, just send us a note about that!


                                                                                                    (Betty's List Photos)

Posted by BettyS @ 10:45 PM, 11/05/06

November 1, 2006

Late Night TV Commentators and the Frailness of Humanity . . . or
When Disappointment Becomes Disbelief and Then Some

“Self awareness is extremely important to living in social groups.”

“Know thyself.”

Both of those quotes the late night commentator says tonight . . . and boom! . . . these words stick to me, grab me, stop me in my tracks . . . tonight!

How many times do we need to hear this? Say this? Think this?

How many times do we have to watch in disbelief when friends of friends of friends wallow in drama and create havoc in interpersonal relationships . . . without seeming to see or know about personal responsibility?

What can I do with the disappointment . . . the sadness . . . the regret that comes when watching friends and friends of friends bear the emotional pain of insensitive acts of others? When friends of friends of friends are caught in situations they themselves don’t seem able to decode, analyze and protect themselves from?

What can I do with the knowledge that some who are less strong, less privileged, less able to fend off manipulation may be caught up in situations far more complex than they understand . . . may be influenced by those who don’t take responsibility, don’t act with caution, don’t live up to the ideal of benevolence in community?

Now, I have a vow that says to rely always on one-to-one communications, avoiding triangles . . . avoiding squabbles when friends of friends of friends become caught up in irreparable dynamics . . .

And, I have a vow to stick by the word “appropriate” when thinking of my own interactions, relationships with others and the knowledge that my own behaviors have ramifications and do indeed affect the lives of others.

And, I have a vow to take the high road in all matters and seek the best in all people and expect benevolence and right-mindedness.

. . . But sometimes one just can’t help stepping in a mud puddle, and what are we going to do when that happens? What are we going to do . . . and mind your own business? It’s all . . . i-n-f-o-r-m-a-t-i-o-n to be harbored, ruminated on and saved for future reference . . .

Thank god we survived this particular Halloween . . . and thank heavens another Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Oh, yes it is . . .!

“On another morning, surely joy will come . . .” said Senator Joe Lieberman, quoting scriptures one day not so many years ago.

Surely, so say I!

                                                                    (Betty's List Composite Image)

Posted by BettyS @ 12:30 AM, 11/01/06

October 25, 2006

It's Almost Halloween Again . . . or
Reprise for a Guy I've Loved for Many, Many Years!

Leon asked if I would "reprint" an entry from a year ago dated October 31, 2005. He liked it because he knew my mom and remembers her English class . . . and remembers those Halloween Carnivals in the old Culkin gymnasium . . . and remembers Pop Sullivan.  Well, who is Leon? Oh, just my firstgrade boyfriend who gave me a piece of fried chicken one time during lunch break in the school cafeteria. (In the second grade, I noticed that Leon's name spelled backwards is "Noel.") Oh, just someone I knew once upon a time. Oh, just about the only guy who has known me my entire life other than my brother . . .  Oh, the guy who was my date to our high school class reunion. Oh, a talented man who sings and plays piano and teaches others to enjoy music! Oh, a wonderful guy who turned out to be gay, just as I did and who will one day come again to visit us again here in the Castro. This one's for you, Leon!

October 31, 2005

Double, Double, Toil & Trouble . . .  Shakespeare, Stonehenge and Miss Louise

She loved fall "wood walks," teaching literature, presiding as head librarian and polishing her antique school bell  . . .  an antique long before she was.

Mightily, Miss Louise quoted Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales in the Old English original, . . . and she would speak her favorite Shakespearean lines with pride, confidence and vigor. The Witches Spell  from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I:

Witch 1. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw . . .

Witch 2.  . . .Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adders' fork, and blind-worms sting,
Lizards's leg, and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
All. Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire, burn; and, caldron bubble. . .

And then, she’d throw in the subsequent lines:

Witch 2. By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

@ No surprise, Miss Louise encouraged Mary and me to read Ray Bradbury’s book of the same title: Something Wicked This Way Comes, first published in 1963  . . .  just about in time for my pre-adolescence. She made sure we had plenty to read, the school library had multiple copies of top choices and that her students could order numerous books from the monthly Scholastic Press paperback flyer.  Remember those?

So, I went looking for Mr. Bradbury online and sure enough, found photos, including a 2003 one of him on a visit to the Playboy Mansion . . . with Hef at his side. No matter the setting, I was pleased to see him still alive.

@ Then, I set off on a late night trail, forging for a site with the history of All Hallow’s Eve, and found one called simply October. . .  Whereupon, on my screen came a Midwestern fellow and Acorn Press author, Mick Nichols (not the film director).

What led me to Mike is a page called simply October, with a list of links to pages with just about everything Halloween you’d ever want to know. Go there, by all means, and try a few. The link to Mike’s is first on the list, and this particular Mike Nichols, it turns out, has for decades taught courses on witchcraft in Missouri and Kansas. One knows they need it. He’s renown for both his expertise in witchcraft and his popular site, The Witches Sabbats. Worth the trip.  Mike’s "All Hallow’s Eve" brings an excellent overview, kicked off by a Bradbury quote from The Halloween Tree, another of Ray’s novels I favored in my youth.

@ The Celtic pagan elements co-opted by invading Christians upon reaching the British Isles have long been a fascination, accompanying an intuitive sense of ancestors dancing at Stonehenge. Those spirits welcomed Tonda and me on an early 90s visit to Salisbury and Avebury.  (I'd promised to take Miss Louise to England, but she got sick and we never did. So, that trip and one other, I made for her.)

Nichols explains All Hallow’s Eve as the great Celtic New Year’s festival, Samhain, signifying the end of summer, end of autumn, end of the old year and beginning of the new. Stonehenge, I think, would be the perfect setting. Check out the interactive ariel view using the preceding link.

@ My friend Margie Adam, during her travels for several years, has sent postcards from the Scotland highlands and returned with her own original photographs of Callandish Stones on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides. Thus, my interest in stone circles has been reawakened after lying dormant for more than a decade. Margie's new, recently debuted DVD/CD collection, PORTAL, features "a contemplative journey with music and imagery," and the accompanying CD has a fine collection of solo piano tunes I’ve memorized while driving the yellow hills and coastline of Yalo and Sonoma Counties. I'll hear Margie perform once again at the Montclair Women's Cultural Arts Club in Oakland on November 11th.

@ Why’s October my favorite month and the Fall, my favorite season? Blasted heat finally breaks in the Mississippi Delta fields. Snow-like streams of cotton bolls, blown out of rolling bins pulled by tractors toward the gin, line the roadways. Turning leaves, like the startling golden maple at the intersection of Van Buren and University Avenue in Oxford, the new school year with it’s football and marching bands, and signals foreshadowing what we call the holiday season  . . .  inextricably bound with pagan elements. They are there, if one will pause and look.

October 31st conjures up memories of Halloween Carnivals in Culkin School’s gymnasium that would be documented if only the Vicksburg Post’s archives truly were online. Inside the gym, booths were set-up with what Mary and I thought were the largest sheets of paper (newsprint) we would ever see; and the long swirling magical orange and black crepe paper streamers, those we longed to touch and even smell. The old wooden gym, every inch painted blue and white for the Wildcats, came alive during Carnival evening, with chatter of children parading as witches, devils, scarecrows and skeletons (nothing about TV shows or movies); the buzz of hovering parents; the smiles and laughter of teachers and school volunteers exchanging coins in what would prove to be a significant fundraising event for the school. Mary and I discovered apples to bob, stuffed animals to buy, cupcakes and popcorn balls to munch, fortunes to be told, costume contests to win, cakewalks to walk, bingo to play and darts to throw.

Miss Louise and her senior class students operated the dart throw way back in the far corner of the basketball court. It was placed out of the heaviest stream of Carnival goers, and safer, should the throw of any juvenile dart expert go astray. It was my job to help her set up earlier in the afternoon before the actual fun began. She'd have me blow up balloons and separate the prizes into stacks. In her sweater pocket, she'd save one or two behind for my reward. 

What of my father, "Pop Sullivan," as he was known? During his years as a school district administrator, he made announcements and thanked the volunteers and patrons, as he called them. Well, I must admit . . . the truth is, he just totally ran the whole damn thing. The community loved him, no matter what I thought.

Those are the reasons I love October, and on that note, time to prepare for the annual show about to begin this evening, just down the street right here in San Francisco's Castro. I do wonder what Miss Lousie and Pop would have thought had they lived to see the carnival in my neighborhood . . .

                    (Three Witches Hard Cider Image)

                                                                       (British National Heritage Trust Tourism Photo)

Posted by BettyS @ 6:00 AM, 10/31/05

October 13, 2006

Miss Louise Might Be Turning Over in Her Grave
. . . But Dr. Pilkington’s Not Dead Yet, As Best I Can Tell

I have studied with some storied professors both at Ole Miss and at Columbia University in New York. I have also benefited from study with my most erudite mom, Miss Louise. (No, this isn’t about Nashville as I had promised previously . . .)

One of my professors, Dr. John Pilkington, is perhaps best known as a Faulkner scholar and lecturer at the Yoknapatawpha Conference held annually in Oxford, MS on the campus there. Yet it was the Pilkington graduate courses in Shakespeare for which I remember him most. Seems like another life . . . or two or three ago . . .

Now, my little dance with Shakespeare actually precedes Dr. Pilkington because none other than Miss Louise herself was a devotee of the bard . . .  and I never could escape her influence . . . her nudging me along toward one goal or another . . .  her quoting of favorite lines from Hamlet, MacBeth and King Lear, when she wasn’t quoting Beowulf or The Wife of Bath, that is, or telling me about rules of grammar . . .  her teaching me at an early age to pronounce the names of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

@ Such is life and such was when my bell got rung just yesterday here in this life . . . here, now, today . . . by a suggestion from one of our Betty’s List frequent flyers, Karen, who has herself a bit of a habit of flying in and out as she pleases . . . I have alerted homeland security.

“Any who,” as they say . . . the suggestion came our way from this reader and sometimes contributor, the aforementioned Karen, that we take yet another look at yet another YouTube video . . . and behold . . . I’m in the presence of a most unique rendition of Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii, featuring . . .  cats! It's none other than the Cat Head Theatre, already viewed 436,782 times!

If you are a dog lover who cares not a hoot for cats, just don’t go!  If you are like me, one who marvels at all-things-feline, then by all means, do!

Furthermore . . . as one who has spent considerable time and energy promoting the idea of teaching with original or authentic ocuments, I have to say this Cat Head Theatre is one piece I’d very much want my students to watch and enjoy. (Yes, I confess to having taught Shakespeare too.)

Truth be known, I’d love for my students to spend much time on YouTube because the darn thing’s so instructive in addition to being just plan fun. Make haste! Go there!

Now then come to think of it, I do recall Miss Louise had a fondness for things feline too. I dare say she would have laughed at Cat Head Theater. Sometime I must tell more . . . about what "cat head bisquits" are . . . and how it is I came to know . . .

                                                                                      (Cat Head Theatre Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 12:30 AM

September 24, 2006

Peaks so High, They Touch the Hands of . . . the Goddess
Or . . .  Where the Heck Have You Been?

Regular readers of The Betty Blog have sent messages to inquire about the September silence. Well, I’ve been up north to Alaska.  I have been down yonder to Nashville . . . Two very different worlds on the same planet, yet decidedly connected by universal themes sung by the troubadours . . . music being so very “there” every which way I've turned on both trips.

Two weeks of back-to-back travel after 20 months avoiding planes, it is good to be home . . . in the Castro. I have learned much and seen much and thought about much, all the highs and lows of life and the sadness and the joys.

Margie, my pal and songbird, joined me on the deck of the Ms Statendam that morning we visited the Hubbard and Turner glaciers, and I knew on that deck intuitively that I was in the company of those who are genuine when they say they are my friends and that they care . . . Margie, Ann, Kit, Grace, Mary Ann, Michelle, Mary, Marcia . . . and more wonderful, wonderful women who traveled to Alaska to experience Olivia’s cruise . . . and share some time together through our “Betty Ann” group.

@ It was a journey of reconnections with friends I hadn’t seen in years . . . Ann, Iris, Ellen, Joanne, Kate, Lé, Lori, connections with new friends . . . and connections with women who will be friends because they pay attention. They not only pay attention, they know that what one says or does has ramifications for the lives of others and that it is a responsibility we all bear . . . to pay attention. Is this not a reoccurring message here in this blog?

The music of Margie, Meg Christian and Roxanna Ward. The humor of Karen Williams and Kate Clinton. A chance to dance, walk on ice, ride trains and helicopters, mush a dogsled and sleep to the gentle sway of a big ship making its way through the Inside Passage.

Meeting up in Juneau with a pretty girl named Althea who comes down to Mecca now and then . . . who gave me a private tour of everything I wanted to see and she wanted me to see, took me to her favorite milkshake place, toured me around Douglas Island where she lives and went with me to the top of Mt Roberts in a tram for a soda in the Timberline Bar & Grill and a live look at Gastineau Channel.  Who showed me where the Juneau web cams (cruise ship dock, noaa, Juneau webcams, Pedersen Hill cams, Juneau Harbor cam) are located so I would know where the one with the view I like to check originates. Who took me and others to the Red Dog Saloon where she used to perform ragtime every night.

Enjoying that fabulous train that runs from Skagway to the summit at White Pass and beyond. Taking photos this time and having the memory flashbacks I knew I would from a previous visit there with one who is no more in my life, she and her troubled woman-child. For me, this ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad was a reclamation, setting aside memories from that other time when no one was happy and I had to learn again what it feels like to be alone even when you're with someone.

The train ride this time was hardly the same . . . the views more beautiful, the tunnels a deeper shade of dark. Four train cars packed with women from our ship broke spontaneously into song, "I've Been Working on the Railroad," when we made an unscheduled engine switch just a few miles out of town. Four train cars packed with women waved and smiled and laughed hard at the straight people in the cars of a train going the other way that we passed somewhere near the summit and Canadian / US border there.  Yes, priceless moments to behold, sing along, laugh along and be part of.

@ So no, it wasn’t all a barrel of fun because life happens . . . even when you are making plans . . .  and yes, I'm human and have my sensitivities. Do you? There were times when the prevailing norm of “coupledom” among the 1200 aboard ship drove me to the edge and I longed for a day when the single person is viewed as equal to one who is ½ of a couple . . . that unspoken and sometimes spoken dynamic that values those who are “married” more than those who fly solo. I believe that dynamic to be real and sometimes it fuels my work and drives me to do all I can to make sure that those who dare to come alone will know they are so very welcome . . . and wanted, too.

There were moments when I was too tired to make much sense, and moments of reflection thinking about those who might have come along had circumstances been other than they are.

There was the instance when I realized I needed to spend time in Sitka sitting in a pharmacy seeking the refill of an eye drop prescription, knowing that meant I wouldn’t be going on a shore excursion seeking the sea otters and whales and birds that day.

But, yes, it was worth it, and I knew that during those moments of ecstasy looking at the grandeur of snow-capped mountain peaks, looking at the swirl and twirl and spray of whales or the historic path where wanna-be miners and their animals trod more than a century ago . . . some of whom gave up their lives for a cause or a dream they simply believed in. I feel that way sometimes, too . . .

It was all worth it when I had the chance to see dramatic photos taken by friends who work a camera better than do I, and when the ship’s staff sang to us and presented flaming Baked Alaska to everyone at our tables during dinner . . . whether we had ordered it or not . . . and to be sure, no one went hungry on that ship.

It was worth it on our last day at sea when I walked out on the aft deck not expecting to see much . . . and there was yet another range of mountains in the distance with dual peaks that soared so high they touched the hands of . . . well, you know the phrase . . . they touched the hands of the goddess or the great spirit in the sky or whatever you choose to think about that.

And, I do tip my hat to the hardworking staff of Olivia, with special thanks to Laura Fitzpatrick, who did their best to make sure that we had a grand time, a great vacatioin and our every need was met. This was my fourth cruise and my first with Olivia.  Will I go again?  I hope so and we'll see what the future brings for Betty &  Ann Presents . . . in terms of taking our groups on future trips aboard ship.

@ I was home from Alaska just long enough to wash the underwear and then head off to Nashville with Kitty Rose . . . another important story that begs its own day's entry, and so . . .

. . . “Tautugniagmigikpiñ,” as the Inuktituts say in Alaska, or “Qaukpattauq,” as the Inuktituts say in the Yukon or “So long little doggie,” as they say on the western trail, or “Y’all come back now, y’here,” as they say down south in Nashville, sure to be the setting of our next blog entry yet to come, bringing a perspective from the Americana Music Association’s 7th Annual Convention and Awards at the famous Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Old Opry!



                                                                        (Betty's List Photos)

Added by BettyS @ 7:55 PM

September 4, 2006 – Labor Day

Seeking Another Filthy / Gorgeous Ghetto Princess . . .
Or . . . Lifting the Bag Over My Head a Bit More

My dear friend Linda, the brilliant psycho-biologist, informed me that she’d like my company on an outing to a concert later this month. It seems the Scissor Sisters will be at The Warfield for a two-night stand.

Deciding how to respond, I was thinking this must be something Motown, since she does love that genre. Another hypothesis, maybe it’s something Goth or even something  "blood and guts," although that would be unusaul. (We’ve been on many an outing, Linda and I, and one learns to be suspect as our tastes don’t always agree . . . nor should they . . .)

And then I remembered the story about one time when Pop's secretary sat down on a pair of scissors lodged between the pillows on her couch . . . and how she missed work for a while after that and he had to get along without her.

My reply to Linda? Say what? Who are they? You did say scissors, didn't you?

So, I set off on an Internet search to find out what I could about musicians known as Scissor Sisters. Their official web site leaves a lot to be desired . . .  but there are other places to go. Wikipedia comes through with an excellent overview and puts it right out there that the band's name is a take-off on the lesbian sex position known as tribadism

How about that?. . . and I’m very happy they didn’t keep the original full name for the band which Wiki reports as: Dead Lesbian and the Fibrillating Scissor Sisters. How about that? . . .

Of the five members, three are openly gay, including lead singer and co-founder Jake Shears. He’s known for provocative and often near-nude dancing, reflecting his prior experience as a dancer and stripper in New York’s gay club scene.

Lots of other items pop up about Scissor Sisters, including their collaborations with Elton John, banning of their music by Walmart and descriptions of them as “glam rockers” or “Bee-Gees-sing-Pink-Floyd” or “not afraid to be fabulous.”

What fun . . . and I’m also just back from the iTunes Music Store where I found and now have in my iPod two of their songs: “Filthy / Gorgeous” and “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’.” Now, I do not think the lyrics to these songs are fabulous, but the group's delivery somehow is . . . but just don't go there if you can't find your sense of humor.

So, now that I know the phrase, I am hereby reserving the right to declare myself a “filthy gorgeous ghetto princess” whenever I wanna be one right here in my neighborhood known concurrently as the “gay ghetto” and  the “gay capital” of the world. The song lyrics say "I'm a classy honey kissy huggy lovey dovey ghetto princess." But, I'll go with my version as I'm amused by the juxtaposition of "filthy" and "gorgeous."

There are about three . . . maybe more . . . YouTube videos I've selected for the purpose of getting a sense of this versatile group. They first performed together in 2001, and so Scissor Sisters is only in its 5th year with a new album, "Ta-Dah!," coming out this month!

•    Scissor Sisters at the Brit Awards

•    I Don’t Feel Like Dancing

*     Filthy / Gorgeous – Scissor Sisters @ Fuji Rock 2006

*     An Interview with Jake Shears


                                                                                             (Sissors Sisters Photos)

Added by BettyS @ 5:15 PM

September 2, 2006

Upon My Return from Brokeback Mountain . . . or
Do You Know about These Too?

I know a lot about loving someone who’s not in the room.

I know from way before coming out and daring not to speak its name. I know from loving one who’s absent and unlikely to reappear. I know from loving one who cannot return. I know from loving one a thousand miles away and one who’s not so far away at all . . . yet may as well be on a distant planet.

I know from the agony of wishing to speak words held back in fear the very act of speaking may drive someone away . . . the fear of finding out someone has not the fortitude to simply hug and say, “No way, but it truly is okay” or “I am your friend, and you need not go away” . . . no matter what or "I'm there too, if only a little . . ."

I know from hugging an empty shirt or jacket.  I know from tumbling around in laughter before tumbling in memory alone. I know from photographs that gaze at me from a day gone by.  I know from the voice I cannot bear deleting from saved cellphone mail.

Do you know these too? These love stories?

How intense can emotion be when . . . actions speak in place of words? How intense can emotion be when . . . one meets “somebody who pulls you completely out of yourself.”

Anger and joy, fear and longing, sadness and happiness, loneliness, shyness, closeness, loneliness, loneliness, loneliness . . . anticipation, dread . . . all these and more are with the comings and goings in a sad experience of loving from afar, then near, then far.

Remembering from childhood, adolescence and the young adult who hides away in pain the love that dare not say its name . . . Living in closed rural culture, enduring dread of discovery and pervasive loneliness in absence of community and camaraderie . . . these things I know a lot about.

Do you know about these too?

The beauty of pain and its release . . . the magnitude of joy with reunion . . . the dread and sadness of goodbye. The bittersweet of existence in an open queer community where even so, she or he dares not come out about whom one truly loves.

Power in non-verbal expressions . . . unspoken . . . love in actions, not in words . . . How it is when one or both who love each other says so few words, yet says so much.

One friend I know allowed as how she'd be curious to see what I would say after watching Brokeback Mountain, that “gay cowboy movie.”  I came to find out.

Do you know about these too?  You do?

                                                                                              (Brokeback Mountain Photo)
Added by BettyS @ 5:15 PM

August 27, 2006

Sometimes I am Easily Amused  . . . or
How I Became a Saturday Night “Club Kid” Once More

Pop once told me a tale about how farm boys like to do something called stump-jumping a cow. I was reminded of that taking a look at the spread of photos in W magazine’s June edition featuring Madonna and her horses.

@ I first met her around 1986 at a place called "12 Inch Records" on P Street near Dupont Circle during my D.C. years. Barb Rush and I went there to check out the newly released remix singles. Thus, Madonna's music came to spend many hours with me on the treadmill in the fitness center of my North Arlington, VA home and in exercise rooms across the continent from the Marriott Marquee's in Times Square to The Barclay's in Philly to the Union Square Grand Hyatt's on my Bay Area stops and so many more fitness rooms it would take all day to tell.  “You Can Dance” was my CD of choice, and "Where's the Party?," my anthem.

@ Fast forward, four friends and I left our Betty & Ann singles mingle Saturday evening after enjoying with Ann Biderman, Dale Bullock and more the gourmet food and an hour or so dancing with DJ Noel. Not enough yet? Well, on to the next venue . . . that quintessential Castro bar known as The Café.

Although this is year eleven here and I don't have to cross the street to get there, I can still count on my hands . . . and toes . . . the number of times I’ve actually been inside, a bar such as this one just not considered . . . well . . . not exactly my kind of place. Last night’s visit, however, was number four for 2006 . . .  What's this? New trends? New friends? New influences?

We arrived at The Cafe around 10:30 PM to an almost open space, but within the hour, they were flowing in . . . every possible combination of humans you can imagine.

What impressed me most, though, was the dance floor’s pronounced sway when all dancing around me, hands held high, sang the chorus with Madonna’s “Hung Up” music video: “Every little thing that you say or do . . . “ They knew all the words.  I knew none.

Today I took out that CD Barb presented me several months ago (“Confessions on a Dance Floor”), plowed my way though hundreds of YouTube video clips taken by concert goers during her current international tour of similar name and researched the several versions of this song seeking the exact one featured at The Cafe.  Success.  So, I've accomplished once again being on top of all-things "Madge" . . . well, sort of . . . , and earned another exercise star for my calendar.

@ Back to Pop's stump-jumping tale, just imagine my amusement upon finding the equestrian theme in the “Confessions” tour’s opening piece and realizing that the CD by the same name includes tracks entitled “Forbidden Love” and “Jump” in addition to “Hung Up.”

Time has come, perhaps, to give credence to my bad girl within? To admit she lurks just beneath the National Honor Society veneer after all? To cut loose and dance once more?

                                                                                       (W Magazine Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 5:15 PM

August 25, 2006

And So It Goes . . . There Go the Pickles . . .  or
Did We Really Learn Everything We Need to Know in Childhood?

Today’s demotion or reassignment of Pluto as a “dwarf-planet” is more than any pseudo Trekkie or linguist can hold off commenting on. (See AP’s story in The Washington Post)

Related YouTube videos:
"Starry Night Pluto and Beyond"
"These Celestial Orbs"
"Science Project"

@ What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Yes . . . those things we use to help us remember known as a “mnemonic device.”  I love them. Why? Because they play with language.  Because one's memory has limitations. Because they are usually humorous and comprise a category of folklore (facilitating oral traditions). Because they are used in diverse areas of knowledge from spelling to geography, music, mathematics, science and technology, military, software development . . . on and on!

Baseball fan? Major League Baseball’s site ( features a commentary by Mark Newman with a cleaver headline: “Pluto sent down to Minors – Former planet hurt by lack of size, disgruntled fan base.” Now, what’s not to like about that?

@ Yeah . . . you must know the one about planets?  There are variants. The one I learned is this: My very educated mother just served us nine pickles. Shoot, there’s actually an entire field of expertise, memory improvement, related to this.

I also find on the Internet these variants:
-    My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas.
-    My very educated mother just showed us nine planets.

One that includes the sun:
Shirley McLain Vomits Every Morning, Jimmy Stewart Usually Never Pukes

New ones suggested include:
-    My very educated mother just served us nothing.
-    My very educated mother just served us nachos.

Other mnemonics I’ve used:
- Colors in spectrum or rainbow: Roy G. Biv (Biv means sewer pipe in Hebrew.)
- Notes on the lines of the treble clef: Every good boy does fine.
- Notes in the spaces: FACE
- Order of Notes on a Bass Clef: Great Big Dreams for America
- How to spell ‘geography’: George eat old gray rat at pa’s house yesterday.
- The great lakes: HOMES

@ There’s an overview of mnemonics on where you can go for more . . . but, you may find it TMI (too much information).  It even explains that there are categories of mnemonics, called “systems”: Mnemonic peg systems; Mnemonic verses; Acronym System; Link System; Room System; Goroawase System; Scrabble anamonics

And, finally, the new site Wikiquote, has listings of mnemonics by language (Arabric. English, French, etc).  Of course, I went off to visit the ones in English and just had a blast skipping around the categories.   Awesome . . .


                                                                                                               (NASA Photos)

Added by BettyS @ 11:30 PM

August 20, 2006

Neither Storm of Night, nor Terrorists nor Cancellations . . .
Shall Dampen Anticipation of More Tomatoes, Bike Rides & Alaska

Last Thursday I was speaking with one in our “Betty Ann” group who called from Idaho to  express her sincere regrets for having to miss the upcoming Alaska cruise with Olivia.  

Yes, she’ll join us soon at MECCA and for forthcoming adventures . . . a cancellation, she noted, truly does not mean one must disappear or miss out on future fun.

@ Back a week ago, the day after the recent foiled terrorist plot hit the news, I was chatting with my British “cousin” Irene Hendrick who introduced me at MECCA to her sisters . . . one of whom had arrived from London via Heathrow just the evening before the story broke.

We allowed as how new security measures might put the kibosh on Liz’s and John’s roles as purveyors (my "source") of fine Amish-grown green tomatoes via their travels back and forth between Altoona and SFO . . .  We allowed as how, on grounds that the tomato is likely to be judged somewhere between a liquid and a gel, my stash would probably be left behind among piles of bottled water, wine, shampoos, lipsticks and other ointments.

(As alluded to in a previous entry, I wrote in Pop’s eulogy about times he sent us from Mississippi back to Washington, DC with boxes chock full of fine tomatoes stowed beneath our seats on Delta Airlines.)

The solution found this week? Carefully place some 15 big ones in a food storage bin to be checked in baggage, with a note taped on top declaring hopes for a "best ever" plate full of fried green tomatoes.

So, a new batch of the green ones did arrive this past Thursday, none the worse for the wear, and they now populate my refrigerator crisper here in the Castro. Trick is, one must minimize the hours without refrigeration least the pink of ripening begins. Fed Ex was consided as an alternate, but accompaning Liz in checked baggaged proved more expedient . . . and ultimately, successful.

If none of this makes sense to you, no matter . . .  Many . . . well, maybe that should be "most" . . . don't get it about green tomatoe rituals.

@ Another major feat just accomplished is I’m once again a bicycle owner. Check out the photo album from our Ladies Go Biking group’s first ride. More to be said about that bike soon.

A second photo album awaits you from our new Smart Women Get Together Business Network group’s reception held at the historic Townhouse Restaurant in Emeryville. 

@ Oh, yes! I do look forward to the upcoming “Betty Ann” group’s outing on the Olivia Cruise to Alaska. (See YouTube L-word video on what to pack at this LINK.) Our local cruise goers met for a chat at MECCA last Thursday night, and they’ll be met not too long from now in Vancouver by more in our crew from Hawaii, Virginia, Santa Cruz and other parts near and far.

Oh, yes! I do look forward with anticipation to once more experiencing the awe-inspiring moments as our ship moves through the Gastineau Channel to Juneau . . . a cathedral-like fiord with slopes on either side, featuring snow-capped peaks, waterfalls . . . and . . . a peaceful quiet like none other . . . and it's okay, that there's nothing more to say . . .

                                   (Photo of Gastineau Channel: National Center for Atmospheric Research)

Added by BettyS @ 3:15 PM

August 15, 2006

You'll Never Bike Alone . . . or
What’s That Thing About Six Degrees . . . and Small Worlds, Afterall?

You know that Rogers and Hammerstein song about when you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and you’ll never walk alone? I once loved playing that on my piano . . . and singing along with Pop, who had a very big bass voice and led the church choir . . .

So, tonight I happened to be singing that song and decided to have a look see . . . and I came upon an account of how the British Invasion group Gerry and the Pacemakers recorded "You'll Never Walk Alone." It became a huge hit in Liverpool . . .  and as it tuned out, the song has been sung frequently at soccer games played at Anfield Stadium there ever since. 

@Now . . . how can it be that I’ve not placed a new entry here in more than a week? Well . . . maybe it’s because this is a very exciting time for “Betty’s List” with lots of new things happening and lots of fun and creativity . . . and stuff brewing that is . . . (as one of my California girlfriends, who actually grew up in Washington Heights, taught me to say) . . . just “way cool.”

Our new Ladies Go Biking Group came into being very quickly during the past couple of weeks, thanks to Kathleen McGuire and the more than 95 women who have written to say they wanted to be on the special e-mail list for the group.

Kathleen and I went on a test run ride of the first route last week and I came away with a very sore you-know-what and the realization of how rusty I am when it comes to bikes . . . and she made a terrific blog that tells all about it . . .  I do love creative people.

So, on Sunday the group met and we actually went on that first ride . . . from here in The Castro through Golden Gate Park, down Ocean Beach passed those sand dunes (where my "way cool" former girlfriend used to like to go nude sunbathing and make out with me in the weeds) out to Lake Merced, then around the Lake and back . . . which means I’ve ridden more than 25 miles in less than a week after not having ridden a bike very much for years.

@ Catered-By-The-Chorus – Our dinner party (one of 13) enjoyed a feast, courtesy of Chef Sean, at Tangerine Restaurant and then we were off to the All About Me – Art Gallery & Antiques Showroom for a fancy Dessert Soiree hosted by none other than our good friend Empress Donna Sachet, featuring a silent auction and music entertainment by the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Chorus. The whole thing was another one of Kathleen's grand ideas that worked. More than $14,000 was raised to support SFGMC on that special evening of good fun. Afterwards, a big batch of us went to The Café and created our own dance area where I . . . along with a number of other enthusiasts . . . danced for at least two hours into the wee hours.

@Treadmill – I’ve been especially inspired this month going to Gold’s Gym for a work out on the treadmill almost every night . . . singing “Waiting for a Star to Fall” . . .

What else? – Oh, just exciting meetings with exciting people in our community talking about lots of new exciting things that just might hatch into a bunch of other new stuff for us to plan and do and smile about.

@ Which brings me back to this new biking group (. . . and the new Smart Women Get Together Business Network that Catherine Pinkas has inspired . . . and the new Betty’s List Book Club that Cynthia Katona has inpired  . . .)  and g-e-e-z-z-z-z-z-z it is so true . . .  I’m like saying to myself now . . . “Girl, you will never bike alone.”

So, I got this idea to check on YouTube and see what was there for "You'll Never Walk Alone" and . . . oh yes . . . ! There are like so many videos posted by soccer fans of times when the song's been sung before games, after games, planned ones, spontaneous ones . . .  That's a metaphor for life, isn't it? Before. After. Planned. Spontaneous.

And, you know, I am truly glad I got those padded bike shorts and Kate let me borrow her jell-filled bike seat cover or my you-know-what would just never be the same riding alone or not . . .

                                               (Photo courtesy of Sharie Cohen Photography
                                           See AIDS LifeCycle Photos by Shaire)

Added by BettyS @ 3:15 PM

August 5, 2006

When Love Manifests Itself in Friendship . . . or
How Fine a Thin Line May Sometimes Be

It was my friend Barb Rush who tuned me on to Captain Janeway . . . . . It was my friend Karen who turned me on to

Somewhere along the way between those two enlightenments, yet another cool friend turned me on to Seven of Nine and that I have been a Trekkie since discovering sci fi in jr high.

Lately, I’ve smiled watching videos on about Janeway and her colleague and friend Seven of Nine  . . . like one called “Waiting for A Star to Fall” by Sazzy1972.  Be sure to wear your headphones for the full effect . . .

@Also of late, I have found myself acknowledging how rich my life is in friends . . . and how truly blessed I am . . . can’t say enough  . . .  As a survivor, I am rich in memories of when good friends have kept me going. To them, I say . . . “I am awed, inspired and grateful!”

@A web search for commentary on friendship turned up much and many . . . Here’s my sampling:

"A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway."
- Jerome Cummings

"Only your real friends tell you when your face is dirty."
- Sicilian Proverb

"Never shall I forget the days I spent with you. Continue to be my friend, as you will always find me yours." - Ludwig van Beethoven

"Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends." - Richard Bach

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."
- Walter Winchell

"The better you know someone, the less there is to say.
Or maybe, there's less that needs to be said." - Unknown

"Can miles truly separate us from friends? If we want to be with someone we love, aren't we already there?" - Richard Bach

"A friend is someone who reaches out for your hand...and touches your heart."
- Unknown

"What is a friend? I will tell you . . .  it is someone with whom you dare to be yourself." - Frank Crane

"Well, it seems to me that the best relationships - the ones that last - are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is . . . suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with."
- Dana Scully (The X-Files)

@ My iPod collection now includes seven different rendentions of "Star to Fall" by Cabin Crew . . . but at least two more versions are available on the iTunes Music Store comprehensive list . . .  Could it be that I have seven of nine?  . . . Who knew?


                                                                                                  (Photos: Star Trek Voyager)
Added by BettyS @ 3:30 PM

July 29, 2006

Every Year at the HRC Dinner . . .
The Bag Over My Head Gets a Little Smaller

I’ve known for several days that something was up . . .

Our web site’s hit tracker has gone crazy recording the number of visitors coming in to the site on Google searches for “Reichen.”

A few weeks ago, we added some shots in a Pride-related album taken at the Twin Peaks triangle installation on Pink Saturday by our photog friend Bill Wilson. Among them is one of handsome guy Reichen Lehmkuhl, one of this year’s SF Parade Grand Marshals. That's what they're "hitting" but I knew there must be a reason why . . .

So, tonight at the annual Human Rights Campaign dinner, "Bridges to Equality," I was telling Jimmer Cassiol from Mayor Gavin’s office about these hits since he and Honey Labrador appear in that photo with Reichen too.  (LINK to photo)

Jimmer laughed and asked if the site visitors were searching on his name as well. So, I said it didn’t matter how they got there because anyone who did would see him and Honey too.  He liked that.

Then Jimmer said something about Richen’s boyfriend Lance Bass  . . . and I’m doing my bag over the head routine . . . like who in the hell is Lance Bass?  Anna Damiani from Assemblyman Mark’s office said, you know, the guy from NSYNC who just came out in People magazine. 

I’m shaking my head ‘yeah’ . . . like one does during receptions . . . like I really know what they’re talking about . . . like I barely know what NSYNC is . . . Liz was too old to care by the time another boy band hit the scene . . . so I’m thinking they must be sort of like the group New Kids on the Block that we cheered for one time at the Macy's Parade when she was a preteen.

Later, Suzanne Westenhoefer is on stage talking about Lance Bass and among other things, she mentioned that she had been recently to the the 2nd annual Pride Celebration in Jackson, Mississsippi.  . . .  And, at that moment I realized part of the reason why I go to this annual HRC dinner is to find out what I didn't know before I arrived . . . like how big is the bag over my head now?

@ So, I've been reading about NSYNC and see that Lance Bass wanted to be an astronaunt and he grew up about 30 miles from where I did in a small Mississippi college town called Clinton where Pop earned his first college degree in theology . . . which proves, of course, that people do still grow up gay in the Magnolia state, even those born after I was a long time gone.

It was redeeming, however, when I asked Liz if she knew who Lance Bass was, and she asked if he is that guy who rides the bike. That’s a bit unsettling too, though, because during the rest of the year when I’m not at the HRC Dinner, I rely on Liz, among others, . . . to get the bag off my head or at least help reduce it somewhat in size . . .

Added by BettyS @ 2:15 PM

July 26, 2006

You Can Take The Girl Out of The South, But . . .
Nothing Quite Smells the Same as a Healthy Tomato Plant

My father, known as "Pop Sullivan," grew more tomatoes than anybody could possibly need. All the neighbors looked forward to them. I told about them in his eulogy.

Hot weather means time for Miss Louise’s favorite summer lunch . . . tomato sandwiches.  Sometimes it’s a BLT.  Sometimes it’s just a couple of thick red slices with salt, pepper and mayo on very fresh bread.

It is important to distinguish the slices of the “red” ones, because hot weather is also time for fried green tomatoes . . .  I’ve cooked them twice this week already . . . requiring thick slices of the “green” ones.

Liz sent a package of big ones all the way from her local farmer’s market in Altoona. I find it is often quite difficult to obtain good green tomatoes in California because folks just don’t quite ‘get it’ about why this is a sacred ritual.

One time about six years ago I placed a special order for 15 lbs of green tomatoes with a farmer who sells at the Ferry Building Farmers Market. He smiled, delivered, and they were cooked and served along with fried okra and catfish to a large group of women at an overnight retreat held up in Olema. Most attending had never before tried these delicacies.  They smiled and came back for seconds.

Yes, that time we also served Miss Louise’s famous baked beans, cole slaw, hush puppies, yellow summer squash cooked beyond recognition, sliced cucumbers and onions in vinegar salad . . . and banana pudding for dessert.

One other time I was at a Hanukah party over in the East Bay and was welcomed into the kitchen to view the cooking of latkes. It occurred to me then that the technique was much the same as that required for excellent fried green tomatoes. So, the latke chef and I exchanged recipes. She and I both smiled.

                                                            (Image: "Cat and Tomato Plant" by Takahashi Shotei)

Added by BettyS @ 12:30 AM

July 24, 2006

Swimming in Photos from Gay Games VII . . . or
A Grand Time Was Had by All Despite the Heat!

One thing for sure . . . I have viewed a lot of images from the 2006 Gay Games held in Chicago last week. 

We were fortunate to have our application accepted on the official web site and thereby gained access to initial use of photo collections created by more than a dozen photogs who contributed their time and expertise. 

Each day, new images were posted . . . and each day, the download time improved a bit until in the end, the wait wasn’t bad at all . . . but those first few days! Then, there were so many available, my categories got blurred and it was a riot just trying to keep them organized. Then, I actually began to recognize some faces.

But, alas, no complaints here . . . as working with the shots and arranging them on our homepage was a lot of fun! They’ll be up at least a few days, have a look . . . up and down the left column.

Just when I was sure the downpour was done, the Gay Games web site posted its own list of “Top Photos” . . . most of them, I’d not seen before.  And then, there are also a lot of shots here and there on the web posted by mainstream and gay media outlets.

Then, we received access to a huge collection of candid snapshots documenting the experience of John Harle, one of the guys from the Houston Gay Men’s Chorus, who sang in the combined chorus under the direction of our good friend Dr. Kathleen McGuire. John’s day-by-day display shows what it was like for him and our thanks to him for his permission to provide this LINK.

It’s a nice contrast to have John’s personal photo perspective against the montage backdrop created by that gaggle of photogs who populated the official site.

Three cheers for all those who created and contributed images!

                                                              (Photo by John Faier,  Special to the Gay Games VII)

Added by BettyS @ 7:30 PM

July 23, 2006

Cool in the Pool . . . and
“Goodbye Earl” Live on the Cell Phone

A very hot summer day. I was a kid again. We were all kids again . . . celebrating Mary Ann’s birthday . . .  spending those record-breaking heat wave hours in the pool playing volleyball . . . splash, splash, laugh, laugh, cheer, cheer and splash, splash more.

Bar-b-que, deviled eggs and homemade German chocolate cake . . . sitting in the shade, listening to the Dixie Chicks live when Liz called from Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena . . . the second stop on their  “Accidents & Accusations” Tour launched Friday night in Detroit.

@A reader’s reply to the previous entry asked if I might have said “hee bee jee bees” rather than “paranoia.” Makes sense to me. So, I got thinking about that and decided to see what would come up on a search:

The Urban Dictionary says:

- A passe term used to refer to a feeling of being 'freaked out'.
Example: The thought of George Bush being president of America gives me the heebie jeebies.
- A feeling of minor fright, anxiety, nervousness, apprehension, "the willies", phobic
Example: That spider crawling on my neck gave me the heebie jeebies

- A sensation one feels when they enter a scarey situation with unknown consequences.
Example: The kids all got the heebie jeebies as they entered the old haunted mansion on a Halloween dare.

- The creeps.
Example: This place gives me the heebie jeebies.

Seeming to have my sense of humor back, time for more of Mary Ann’s cake on yet another very hot day in Bagdad . . .

                                                                                                        (Betty's List Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 5:30 PM

July 21, 2006

When the Elements Are Speaking . . . or
Don’t Throw That Eye to the Buffalo . . .Yet!

Thunder is a rare phenomenon in San Francisco. I take it as a sign from the elements that an important time is nigh or a memorable moment at hand.

Thus, my days in the realm of sadness, loss and obituaries . . . as noted in the past several entries here . . . are duly passed. Those days usually go away easily . . . but 'twas prolonged lately by an unexpected and unwanted chance to see what happens when paranoia affects the life of one who is dear to me and in whom I've placed trust. A failure in mental health and a masking with alcohol robs relationships and deprives friends of community. I know this to be true . . . and am sorely reminded.

@I’ve not written much about eye surgery, but suffice it to say that I am an acknowledged frequent flyer with the staff on the Outpatient Floor at St. Mary’s.  There are various ways to convince one’s retina to reattach, and I have first hand knowledge of several. The good news is . . . one worked.

Miss Frances, my much adored calico, has lived most of her life with one functional eye.  During the past year, we have achieved simpatico. My being human, however, means there's opportunity for correction . . . yet hers has never seemed to slow her down when of a mind to take a spin . . . only age having achieved that in this, our sixteenth summer.

@Now what’s this about my time of sadness passing? If I’ve learned one thing in my several decades, it’s that I do have purpose and intent. If things don’t make sense and it's necessary to ask why or what is going on, time will bring perspective. How "two and two" makes four (and why that's singular) comes into focus.

I have benefited greatly from the opportunity to study my life with wise women and I wish that opportunity for others who need it whether they know or admit it or not. Who was it said that thing about “an unexamined life is not worth living”?  Mine is . . . on both counts.

@So the renown eye doc told me once about a patient of advanced age who was of Native American heritage. After continued attempts to repair his torn retina, the patient said, “Well, Doc, I think it’s about time to throw that eye to the buffalo.” I’m not there yet . . . of advanced age or ready to toss the orb . . . neither one, and I shall stand clear of paranoia if it comes down the path again.

                                                             (Photo:Wildlife & Economic Development, Gov't of the NWT)

Added by BettyS @ 11:45 AM


July 19, 2006

Letting Go the Anger, Letting in the Light
or . . .  How I've Come to Understand Forgiveness

It doesn't take the words of a wise woman to know that holding on to anger isn't a healthy thing. I have let go, and even though I've not heard the melody yet, these lyrics by Catherine Faber pretty much tell the tale.

Let It Go

Lyrics and melody ©1999 by Catherine Faber

There's a wheel that some call karma that keeps turning in this life,
Saying "hatred breeds hatred; strife always ends in strife"
But how can the world get better, whence will come that brighter dawn
When the pain that you've been handed, you pass on?

You've got to let it go, let it go
You've got reason to be angry, but try not to let it grow;
When you brood on hate and bitterness till that is all you feel
You will never have the strength to stop the wheel.

When old resentments rise in you from heartbreaks where they hid
And you turn upon the innocent for wrongs another did
When oil upon the water only makes the water burn,
The wheel is trying for another turn.

The anger that defended you may yet your hopes betray
The war is over, cast aside your shield and walk away.
If you free yourself of bitterness, it is yourself you free--
Forgiveness leaves you richer -- you will see.

                                                                              (Hubble Space Telescope Image)

Added by BettyS @ 2:00 AM

July 17, 2006

Of Loss & Letting Go . . .
Sad Times in the OK Corral

For the past week my life has been touched by sadness, loss and the sense of helplessness when you can’t do anything about it.

Loss comes in many packages. Lose a friend. Lose a colleague.  Lose a community member. Lose the peace. Lose the way. Lose one’s sight.

About a week ago, I heard that reporter Joe Dignan had died unexpectedly while working out at a local gym. He had made a point of saying hello to me just a few days prior during an annual Pride Week event.

Many times I enjoyed chatting with Joe in those places where journalists find themselves standing around waiting for one thing or another to happen or some dignitary to arrive. His seat is now empty in the press room.

As I’ve read about his passing, I’ve come to know things about Joe I hadn’t know before . . .   That he grew up in San Francisco. That he was a tireless advocate in the campaign to save St. Brigid Catholic Church. That his news stories appeared in numerous media outlets including the Gay City Times and The Washington Post. That he was as comfortable wearing leather as wearing a business suit. I am sad to lose this good man.

@ Joe’s death coming fast on the heals of the loss of UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Denise Denton and activist Eric Rofes, I decided time had come to create an In Memorium page on the Betty’s List web site. 

Denise and Eric I learned of through the grief of friends who had known them.  I had not.  With Joe, the loss is my own.
It’s there now, that Memorial page, for when it’s needed.  I do not look forward to that happening . . . but inevitably it will.

                                                                      (Photo: Lance Iversen, San Francisco Chroncile)

Added by BettyS @ 2:00 AM

July 13, 2006

The Serenity Prayer . . . and Give Us Peace

'Deus, dona mihi serenitatem accipere res quae non possum mutare, fortitudinem mutare res quae possum, atque sapientiam differentiam cognoscere.'

Dona nobis, pachem pachem
Dona nobis, pachem
Dona nobis, pachem pachem
Dona nobis, pachem
Dona nobis, pachem pachem
Dona nobis, pachem

Dona nobis, pachem pachem
Dona nobis, pachem
Dona nobis, pachem pachem
Dona nobis, pachem
Dona nobis, pachem pachem
Dona nobis, pachem

Dona nobis, please give us peace

(Photo: Chris Stewart/San Francisco Chronicle)
Added by BettyS @ 12:30 AM

July 12, 2006

Looking for That Thing People Say . . .
About “ . . . The Ones We Love the Most”

I have reason to ponder what it is that happens between two people who clearly “love” each other, but can’t seem to get it right . . . be that friendship, relationship, collegiality or teammates even.

@ Here's a found poetry from disparate Internet sites . . . out there . . . who knows where? . . .  in the ether of virtual universe. . . Can one try to make some sense even as the fog sets in?

Found poetry in these words of other:

“It seems we always hurt the one's we love the most when we are going through our crazy mental states.”

“Why is it that we all hurt the one's we love the most?”

". . .we hurt the one's we love the most . . ."

“ . . . the one's we love the most leave us so early? . . .”

“ . . .  we are hardest on the one's we love the most."

“It's too bad that we can't save everyone . . . especially the one's we love the most.”

“When we see the one's we love the most hurting we can not even put a bandage on it and kiss it better . . .”

“We hurt the one's we love the most and it's because sometimes it's just that much more simplier and 'handy.' "

“I think we obsess about hurting the one's we love the most.”

“We say words that pierce within the soul when they hurt the one's we love the most.”

“I'll admit it, we treat the one's we love the most worse than the one's we care about the least . . .  What a dumb way to act huh?”

@ Where comes the resolution? Make amends . . . with lost tenderness, re-embrace, recover happy hours upon a bicycle . . . sweet times that surely fell away in the stupor of anger, disgust and blame, uncared for equally by four strong hands on the steering wheel . . . and the top of the world came crashing down.

Surely take a turn and share responsibility . . . .  Make amends and in doing so, allow amends to make. It can be so. Clean it up.

                                                                                  (RCA Victor Records)

Added by BettyS @ 12:30 PM 

July 8, 2006

Sadness Comes in Packages of All Sizes . . . or
Watching My Community Grieve, Watching My Own Small Heart

Deep sadness comes. First in the news that a great gay man has died who was my neighbor, and would have been my friend, although I never knew him. Following, comes the knowledge of a more personal loss . . . of an idea, a hope and a dream.

@ Even here in the heart of the “gay capitol of the world,” San Francisco’s Castro District, it’s possible to know isolation, grief and sadness.

Friends have been telling me all week about a remarkable man, a visionary and tremendous leader, Eric Rofes.

“You two would have gotten a kick out of each other,” my friend Diane Sabin said, and went on to comment how she regretted not having had the chance to introduce us while he was alive.

As I have read more about Eric, it becomes startlingly clear that we were neighbors, that we must have been in the same room together many times and may have even said hello, and that he will be remembered as a national personality who touched the lives off many, blazed trails, helped to set policy, pushed the envelopes on thinking both within and about the LGBT world.

How I could have missed this man is a puzzlement, but yet I resolve not to miss him as his teachings and his deeds will live on.  I will find him, read and in so doing, perpetuate his life’s work and accomplishments.

@ Even closer to home . . .within . . . I spend this day “rearranging my cans on the grocery shelves,” as Tonda said. A favorite metaphor for change and acceptance. I need a little time to get use to the new arrangement, she would say, so I can find what I’m looking for after they move the shelves and cans around.

The loss of a personal hope, an idea, a dream . . .  small but grand nonetheless. That loss requires a pause, letting the knowledge settle in even as I wish to push it away.  Where is that easy silence you create for me?

                                                                                    (Photo:  US Geological Survey)

Added by BettyS @ 4:40 PM 

July 4, 2006 – Independence Day

A Little Patriotism Is a Glorious Thing! . . . or
What We Do (and What We Don’t) Speaks Volumes

Those lilting southern tones coming from my mouth . . . are shut down once or twice a year when laryngitis sets in . . . big time.  Valuing the verbal as I do, a day when I must just shut-up and type brings considerable stress and aggravation.

A silver lining, though, is having a moment to appreciate those who communicate more with actions than with words.  It’s not what they say, it’s what they do  . . . and similarly, what they choose not to do . . .  that speaks volumes.

My silent time also brings a moment to consider how powerful messages, too, come in graphic, photographic and other artistic forms. The highly touted human language gift we have is just not all about words. 

Of course there are also those important ‘speech acts’ (illocutionary and perlocutionary things) we do . . . or don’t do!  . . . But, alas, that’s another day’s story, or shall we say, too much information for one passage.

(Much has been said and written about how animals communicate with us even in ways of their own without benefit of human speech skills. My experience of this is truly a 24-7 kind of thing since Louie-the-Great, with no sound at all other than the loud “whal-lop” when he jumps down from the shelf above, makes it totally clear in silence what he wants and when he wants it  . . . 

Then, Miss Frances takes a notion her “top cat” act only improves with age and makes that known with much strutting about, rubbing up and spicy meows. She can always be counted on to "say" and "do" simultaneously with much passion.

I also take great pleasure in watching others interact with pets, in whatever form that manifests itself, regardless of who is verbal and who's not!)

The simple message here, it seems, is the concept that what we humans do may very well give more information about who we are than does what we say. Having been told that self-monitoring is more than half the battle in learning to be a responsible person, I am committed to monitoring my own actions, lack-of-actions, words spoken and what's-left-unspoken too.

@ So my gal Natalie has lately been talking about what she thinks of patriotism. To that I say, keep speaking your mind, but please do shut up and sing as well so I can enjoy what you and your DCX pals do best. “Taking The Long Way” went platinum last week, and my gal Liz and I have tickets for two cities on the upcoming “Accidents and Accusations” tour.

The one Bay Area date on the tour is Saturday, September 9th at Oakland Arena. There's a Sacto date, Friday, September 8th at ARCO Arena. In case you are, like me, leaving with our "Betty Ann" group on the Olivia Cruise to Alaska, the date of choice would be Wednesday, September 6th at SaveMart Center in Fresno. There are many other cities to choose from and contrary to rumor, none have been cancelled. 

Speak on, all y'all, and wave the flag . . . or don't . . . to your heart's . . .satisfaction!

Added by BettyS @ 11:30 PM 

July 3, 2006

An Easy Silence in Santa Cruz . . . or
PFLAG Has Been Credited with Changing Many Lives

Curious and odd. I’ve been here before . . . was what I said at Sunday brunch, looking around the restaurant there on the main street of Santa Cruz.

@ Today marks exactly 11 years ago to the day . . .  Miss Frances and I came from Santa Cruz to Noe Valley. She wasn’t happy in her box on the seat next to me . . . just as she wasn't happy just six months prior when we left DC headed west from Dulles International on a pre-dawn flight. Yet on that beautiful Monday, July 3rd, 1995, my calico and I found ourselves in Noe Valley.  When the movers left that afternoon, I sat at the kitchen table, looked out the 23rd Street window at a palm tree across the way, back at the boxes surrounding me, put my head down and cried . . . just cried.

I had met and fallen in love with a PFLAG mom who invited me for a glass of wine, declared herself to be questioning and flirted with me on a snowy evening at a bar in the Nordic Hills Conference Center outside of Chicago. The ramifications of her influence on my life would prove to be huge.

“I will never live here,” was my unspoken thought when I saw Santa Cruz for the first time after the drive down with her from SF, over the hill on 17 and into town. Being the Mississippi Delta rural south girl turned east coast urban sophisticate, there was no way I thought I’d  spend much time in what I saw as a wear no make-up but do wear ugly leather sandals, sneer at anything non-organic, old hippie wannabe town. That particular day was in 1994, more than a dozen years ago. Then, I chewed and swallowed all those words, and relocated to Santa Curz . . . for love.

Yesterday, back on SC’s main street for the first time . . .  looking at the GAP, Borders and multiple coffee shops mixed in with storefronts more typical of what I recalled, . . . “Gentrified?” I asked.  Who would’a thunk it? Who knew?

But, what of ‘that woman’ who so turned my life around eleven years hence, influenced and empowered me to leave behind my DC-based, high-profile newspaper industry career and more than comfortable inside-the-beltway life? Seven recovery years plus four more for good measure later, I could give a tinker’s damn. Yet, in truth, I’m willing to tip my hat to her for good things did come to pass . . . before the fall, . . . and I’m also grateful to that former SC mayor she had introduced me to . . .  for taking back to her my greetings after he and I subsequently met again at an annual Alice Breakfast one Pride Day years later.

@ The what and why, though, of my return? My return to that funky town where UCSC Chancellor Denise Denton was remembered on campus last week after jumping to her death in SF during our joyful time of Pride? The what and the why? Do I not know of the kind of pain Chancellor Denton must have endured? Truly I do, as such was the legacy of my own more private debacle 11 years prior.

Life being full of twists and turns and oddities, I come home to the Castro here in Herb Caen's Bagdad after visiting that funky beach town 11 years later, privileged to have met a community of well-intended friends and . . . borrowing words from Track 2 on DCX’s new “Long Way Around,” . . .  knowing there's an easy silence, a peaceful quiet, a world at bay there. Where? In Santa Cruz . . .

Easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

- Emily Robinson, Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Dan Wilson

                                                                (Photo: City of Santa Cruz)

Added by BettyS @ 4:15 AM

June 24-25, 2006 – Pride Weekend

What a Week It Was! . . . What a Weekend!
“Oh, Oh, Oh!” By the Way . . . I Feel Like a Woman . . . Again!

Danny was finishing the style as only he can and Xar Salon was rockin’ with sounds of “ . . . Oh, oh, oh . . . really go wild-yeah doin’ it in style . . . “ (Need to get that inflection in there!)

“Who is that?” I asked, coming out from under the bag over my head . . . typical nerd-part, really. One of those extended moments that last forever when I catch up with the rest of the world . . . upon hearing something so familiar, but not having a clue who or what it is. Shania!

@ Pride Week began with a bang Tuesday evening listening to Donna Sachet and friends at Kimpton Hotel’s Pride Party at the Starlite Ballroom atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Riding the elevator, Ann Biderman and Kit Kennedy and I chatted with none other than Harry Denton himself who welcomed us most graciously.

Tuesday evening, our software system came alive recording a flood of new subscribers to Betty’s List with the posting on of San Francisco Chronicle reporter Pat Yollin’s story Betty Knows It All and Tells Everybody,” accompanied by photos by Chris Stewart.

@ Wednesday’s scene was The Commonwealth Club’s LGBT Forum panel discussion with Craig’s List founder Craig Newmark and . . . you guessed it . . . me.  Craig was witty and serious at the same time, thoughtful and spontaneous and I fell in love with him on the spot.  What an honor to be paired with him and chair/moderator John E. Lazar. Truly a moment . . . I haven’t had in a while . . . not with two men, anyway! Frisky, aren't I?

@ Thursday evening found me on the way downtown for the annual SF Pride Committee Press Party and then on to join a packed house at MECCA for our Pride Week Ladies Night. Good pal Melanie Walker arrived on her annual cross-country jaunt from Kentucky, and went into action meeting lots of attractive women, or as she would put it ‘cute girls!”

@ Friday night Women on A Roll founder Andrea Meyerson and friends from LA joined our crowd for Page Hodel’s Girl Pride. Thousands packed The Sound Factory and yes, we . . . danced, danced, danced!

@ Saturday began with the annual Pride Brunch hosted by Gary Virginia and Donna Sachet. Then to the Castro Theater for Frameline30’s screening of Andrea’s “Laughing Matters . . . More.” After a pause at that popular Castro watering hole, The Café, we moved on down the road to Dolores and 18th for the Dyke March’s roaring start. Made it just in time to find Cousin Irene Hendrick and watch the bikes. Then off to Metro City Bar for an appearance on Queer Channel radio’s Pink Saturday live broadcast. Change clothes and away to the elegant Marine’s Memorial Club for Joy Seltzer’s return of Puttin' on The Ritz. Congratulations to Joy and Mary Ann Hatland! Wow . . . !  Well, I can’t forget to mention the stop that followed at Tommy Joint, the quintessential SF late night dive.

@ Sunday brunch and to the parade start for a day of videography and more dancing. Stopped in at Mr. David Perry’s office in the Flood Building, ramped it up on to City Hall for the Jennifer Beals Press Conference with Mayor Gavin, followed by the Pink Magazine Party . . . not to mention watching Veronica Klaus and Betty with none other than L-Word creator Ilene Chaiken joining us in the press pit.

Big congratulations to the SF Pride Committee, executive director Lindsey Jones and board president Joey Cain. Music was like so a big part of it, in the end even as it did begin, singing, “Oh, oh, oh!”  . . .

The best thing about being a woman
Is the prerogative to have a little fun (fun, fun)

Oh, oh, oh, go totally crazy-forget I'm a lady
Men's shirts-short skirts
Oh, oh, oh, really go wild-yeah, doin' it in style
Oh, oh, oh, get in the action-feel the attraction
Color my hair-do what I dare
Oh, oh, oh, I wanna be free-yeah, to feel the way I feel
Man! I feel like a woman!

@ Jeezzzzzzzzzz!  What a blast was Pride 2006. . . and I did mention it?  . . .  “I feel like a woman” . . . again, “Oh, oh, oh!” Too silly!?!

See Karen's video of our weekend, San Francisco Pride 2006, on Check out the Pride-related albums in our Photo Gallery.

Those girls in the photo below seem to be saying what I've been:  "I feel like a woman!"

                                                                    (Photo by Karen, Special to Betty's List)

Added by BettyS @ 4:15 AM

June 21, 2006

Good Friends Sometimes Like to See Me Squirm . . .
. . . Today I Blog about Dueling Photographers

So, Karen had asked me if I planned to write about what it was like having her photojournalist colleague Chris Stewart from the Chronicle shadowing us at MECCA Ladies Night . . . armed with his camera.

How’d it feel? I was alternately timid, shy and self-conscious before finally relaxing. From there it was all about being flattered, pampered, adored, giddy and at some point . . . well, you know, enough-already-with-da-camera.

All those insecure things come up like “I wonder is the hair okay?” “. . . the make-up?” or “. . . can you tell I’ve been at the gym?” or “ . . . do I look like a chubette?” or “. . . is it okay to be having a good time at the bar?” or “. . . maybe I really should have scheduled the botox before this photo shoot.”

As much as I’ve been the center of attention at events for. . . well,  truthfully . . . for years and years, when a camera comes out, there’s still that sense of anxiety and trepidation . . . until it dissipates into a place of “Oh hell, it is what it is!” or as Harvey in “La Cage” or Gloria in her hit song would say, "I am what I am . . . I am my own special creation!"

Chris Stewart is a very sweet man for a straight one . . . even tempting . . . well, maybe not. But he is truly a gentleman and spent hours with me, first capturing images of my desk . . . which reporter Pat Yollin described as having two computers, three televisions and two cats that come and go . . . and then shooting a number of us having a fun time at MECCA Ladies Night where we assured him he was indeed welcome.

I have always had the sense working with professionals doing their photography that if you just kiss enough toads, there’s bound to be a good one in there somewhere. Chris got it right away when I told him that. Now that they don't have to worry about film anymore, seems like more frogs and more.

Equally amusing during the MECCA photo shoot, though, was watching Karen taking photos . . . of Chris taking photos . . . of us. Like that play within a play thing. Karen is a veteran photog for SJ Merc and they all eventually come to know each other from hanging out on site at assignments. 

What's more, Karen is nothing short of mischievous and so had a great time being the second shot in the pair of dueling photographers at our scene . . . not to mention her antics prompting table laughter for the shots entered in our new Photo Gallery album about Grace's  birthday.

@ Reporter Pat Yollin's Chronicle story about Betty's List, my impression, is way chock full of details . . . she did pack them in . . . and almost every one is true, correct, right-on 99.9% . . . about the gay thing and the southern thing and the staying-up-late-at-night thing. Of course, I'm thrilled to see Miss Frances and Louie-The-Great in the news. She truly did have a recorder going while we talked. {Pat has a memory of steel because she didn't even use the recorded version when she wrote the story!}

@ Miss Louise would surely note the transitive verb usage “to blog” in the title of this entry. She would have smiled to see that Pat wrote about the cats and chuckled that Culkin School got mentioned too, and of course, Pop's having been a Southern Baptist deacon.


(Photos by Karen T. Borchers,  Speical to Betty's List)

Added by BettyS @ 4:15 AM

June 19, 2006

It’s Pride Week in the Castro & It’s Also Juneteenth . . . or
Who Knew Aretha Franklin Would Be on My Mind!

R * E * S * P * E * C * T . . . that’s what I hope to have as Pride Week 2006 arrives at my door. That’s what I wish for our entire community.

@ We were in a conversation the other evening at MECCA Ladies Night. One of those deep talks that happen after the place has already officially closed.

I confessed, in the late hour, to one time when I make a mistake. I didn’t respect someone else and I didn’t respect myself. What to do with things you would but could not change in life?

Study it with a sober mind and in the light of day. Talk with wise women . . . and men. Learn the lesson. Make amends. Move on with wisdom gained . . . 

The conversation wasn't over then, and here come I to write of it. I cannot remove that mistake no more than I can change the color of my skin (someone said that previously) nor the parents to whom I was born. Cannot unring the bell. Accept the lesson and being the better for it, be thankful and move on, equipped and informed.

Being human’s not so easy, nor is learning to admit I'm fallible and face the question what to do going forward.  Having found the strength to own a mistake and even talk about it . . . this is the first day of the rest of your life . . . just in time for a renewed commitment to myself, to another and to others.

@ Today I add the word “Respect” to my short list of most important words. It goes there with “Appropriate” and “Resiliency.”

Today I wish for me and all Pride celebrants the capacity to embrace “Respect” and recognize that what we do has implications for lives beyond our own. 

@ What’s Aretha got to do with it? Memories of where and when I’ve heard and seen her sing?

One time she performed on a live stage at Libertyland Park in Memphis. Liz was three, a gorgeous child, sitting on my shoulders wearing deely boppers . . . (as we've done since and hopefully will once more) hands held high in the night air. Along with Lady Soul, the audience sang "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" and in that word, gained a life lesson . . . if only one can hear. "Respect" . . . from this day forward.

@ So, even as the Monday of Pride Week finds her way in my neighborhood, I’m reminded this is also Juneteenth. Do you know what that means and why it's relevant to Gay Pride?

                                                                           (Stock Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 12:45 AM

June 8, 2006

Sometimes This Is a MetaBlog . . . Sometimes It's Not!
or . . . I Have No Doubt Miss Louise Would Have Approved

She would have been 90 years old today. We would talk about the eight parts of speech, how to conjugate verbs . . . today, I blog; yesterday, I blogged; tomorrow, I shall have blogged . . . you know the drill . . . and transformational generative grammar too.

Those rules were among our key conversation topics riding down the road toward the Jitney Jungle grocery store. I blame and thank Miss Louise for my nerd-part.

Son John, whom Miss Louise would have loved had she known him, sent me some homework yesterday. She would have loved him for many reasons, not the least of which is his nerd-part. Happy birthday to her!

I'm passing it on to you, the homework, that is. Study your vocabulary and the metalanguage of blogland at this LINK.

(Photo by Karen T. Borchers, Special to Betty's List)

Added by BettyS @ 2:45 AM

May 30, 2006

The Betty Blog Gets It's Anthem . . . or
Dixie Chicks on Sesame Street

Who cares if they were really singing to Big Bird? No one here does, so have a listen to them singing "There's No Letter Better Than B"! Okay, enuf already about them . . .

Added by BettyS @ 12:15 AM

May 29, 2006 – Memorial Day

Time Magazine Says Natalie Was Born Middle Finger First . . . or
I Have Never Used the Phrase “Eye Candy” to Describe Anyone

How dare this blog speak on Memorial Day of those three unpatriotic, anti-war women who thumb their noses at the country music industry and their country music fans? Ever heard them sing "The Star Spangled Banner"? Or maybe you saw them at the 2003 SuperBowl?

Yesterday somebody said to me, in reference to the ‘Tha Girls,’ “You must have a crush on one of them.” It was the type of statement that’s actually a question.

I wasn’t sure how to reply, or what to admit. So, my lame response was, “Yes, all three of them . . .”  Well, true confession . . . naaaaaaah. Won’t say that, but what I will say is that I could listen (or watch) them for hours and sometimes do . . .

@ Today I struck pay dirt coming upon a web site you may be interested in if you, too, get a kick out of these three young women who are being called such things as talented, controversial and radical. The radical label is a big joke, I think, and those who read this blog would probably agree.

The impression that I was radical, growing up in Mississippi, seemed real, but I learned quickly after leaving that I could not out radical the radicals . . . sort of like not being able to out butch a real butch.

One of my favorite things about them is the semantics (my view of it, anyway) of the group’s name. First, Texas isn’t “Dixie” and “Dixie” has been loaded up with major negative connotations. Plus, “Chicks” isn’t exactly “pc” as a term of reference for women. But, the name uses both words, and the three women comprising the group are way atypical of both folks from Dixie and those who would likely say women are chicks.

@ So, what’s this web site I’ve been all over today? It’s called Chicks Rock! Chicks Rule! and there’s a video section that includes just about every clip you can imagine from 1999 forward. A treasure house for a fan like me.

Of course there are many sites with interesting Chicks-related content, and there are currently at least two “official” ones:

* Dixie Chicks  

* Dixie Chicks @ MSN 

Okay, here’s a true confession. I was totally oblivious to The Dixie Chicks, even though Liz had tried to bring them to my attention numerous times, until Natalie’s big insult to George Bush at their 2003 London Concert. The relevant question, I believe, is not how many fans they lost over “The Incident,” but how many devoted fans like me did they gain? Then, I found out that these young women are accomplished musicians in addition to being outspoken and progressive . . .  Who owns the label progressive, anyway?

@ So, you may have already read The New York Times article “The Dixie Chicks: America Catches Up With Them” published, May 21, 2006, and you may know already that they were included in Time Magazine’s “The Time 100” for 2006 includes them and you may have already seen the cover of Time’s May 29, 2006 edition, and.

And, finally, you may have already heard the new album “Taking The Long Road,” but if not, you can do so without buying it on the site. Check it out . . . can I say it? . . . Chick it out?! Now who’s ready to make nice?

(ABC News / Good Morning America Photo)


May 26, 2006

I Think I Might Be A Drag Queen . . . or
Yet Another Self-Study Revealed: Gender & Myself

One time I had a girlfriend who said she would like to dress me up as a drag queen and go down to the Castro on Halloween. I was amused.

Tonight, I’m not . . . amused, that is. Well, maybe. But even if not amused by the thought of me in the Castro at Halloween, I think it's true that I may be one. I am one, a drag queen, in the sense of Kennedy’s famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a 'Berliner'"). What’s more, I may be one in view of how I walk on this planet, at least some-of-the-time.

@ The concept of gender has captivated me. Pre-coming out, “butch,” for sure, was what I thought I’d turn out to be . . . only to discover how butch I wasn’t when the real ones got a hold of my skirt tail . . . or at least, they tried.

Somewhere along the way, I found out about the politicized bru-ha-ha and hullabaloo among feminists over the use of “butch” and “femme” and other such labels. That debate, along with a few other choice items on a short list, solidified my thinking that some of those feminists, if not most, needed to go take a rest.

@ I came to understand gender fluidity before the concept had words to express it . . . after a big break-up. I found my identify shifting dramatically from “preppy butch intellectual” to a new “femme fatale,” only to switch back some years later.

Fluidity, I found, didn't happen only over a span of years. It was happening, for me, all the time . . . year-by-year, or maybe day-by-day, or maybe hour-by-hour, or minute-by-minute. Actually, second-by-second . . . all-the-time. Then, bam! . . . Start a new relationship and here goes the adventure of discovering how division-of-labor plays out this time.

@ This week a remarkable ceremony was held in my neighborhood. A street renaming ceremony officially changed the label on one block of 16th Street, near its intersection with Market and Noe, to José Sarria Court. I am sure that many San Franciscians, in fact, many of my neighbors, don't know who José Sarria is or what the "Court" is that he founded . . . I should say "she founded" in her role as Absolute Empress 1, the Widow Norton, Mother Jose.

Many don’t know much about drag queens, even right here where they thrive, and even some drag queens are clueless about the contributions drag queens have made over the decades to the story of gay and lesbian people. Some drag queens in my neighborhood have never paused for the least moment to consider the psychology or the gender politics of drag . . . as they are just very busy doing it.

Likewise, many who are not drag queens don't have a clue about the gender politics and gender identity issues manifest in the doing of drag. Is this getting a bit 'heady' or what?

@ My internet search, in attempt to attain a fuller understanding of José Sarria's story, came upon some unusual spots. No surprise. But the best overview I've seen is verbiage that no doubt originated on Wikipedia, but now resides on something called . Yes, it was the Drag Queen section there that stopped me in my tracks.

Now, I thought I knew as much as there was to know about drag (because I have thought about it quite a lot), . . . but there on that site, I found more. I hope you’ll go and see for yourself the subcategories addressed: Genres, Drag Queens and Venues, Terminology, Drag and Transgender, Opinions and Famous Drag Queens. Here, again, is the LINK. Much more can be found on the site of the International Foundation for Gender Education.

(Since Wiki content is always evolving, for preservation purposes, here's the current Wikipedia definition:  A bio queen is a biologically female performance artist who performs in female drag (clothing) at drag shows. In other words, a bio queen is a woman who dresses and acts like a  drag queen. Bio queens often appear alongside drag kings at lesbian drag shows.)

So, what’s troubling me? You will truly have to go there, read the sections and think - with an open mind -  about the ideologies embedded in the definitions and explanations. Troubling is the wrong word for how I feel about the passages there and the information conveyed. Fascinating is probably the right one, because for me, it is that . . . indeed.

What is troubling, though, is that even now, I believe there remains much misunderstanding and even distain of drag among so many in the larger LGBT community.

@ Where the meaning of all this hits home for me, resides in two separate passages. One, the explanation of “bio-queen” in the Genres section. The other is a sentence found in the Opinions section: “Many gender theorists see drag as a subversion of gender roles.” With the gender roles thought in mind, read the "bio queen" part and think about drag as "subversion." It is, and I am.

Today, I am thankful to have experienced my “butch / femme” delimma. My gender disphoria. I am thankful to have discovered my drag self and my trans self, too. I am thankful to live in a place that feels utopian on most days, even as it falls short on others. Self awareness is a blessing, and that blessing is also a curse.

In the end, aren’t we all drag queens, of sorts . . . at least on some days . . . some-of-the- time? I think so, and as José Sarria has sung so often to the tune of My Country 'Tis of Thee, I shall say, "God bless us nellie queens!" Add to that what Tiny Tim would say and it goes: God bless us nellie queens, one and all . . .

                                                                                              (Photos: Multiple Sources)

Added by BettyS @ 1:00 AM   

May 14, 2006

Getting Dressed Up for the Last Episode . . .
All Those Things We Did There, Once Upon a Time!

Ann McCoy said on moving day a year ago, when she saw my West Wing baseball cap, “Now you are all dressed up!” Tonight I put on my headphones, turned the iTunes controls to “repeat one” and played the theme song over and over and over.

I want to say something meaningful about my soon-to-be-history favorite TV show. No words will come, however . . .  but the music does. It's not rational, but there is humor to be found in this sadness.

You know that 50 seconds of opening music when its time to run around turning off the lights, finding the sound control and just the right chair. The White House front, the cast photos and names, Marine One landing, the press room . . .

Snare drums roll, cymbals crash, tympani pound for just 50 seconds, complete with flourishes of multiple brass, winds, strings and a power driven xylophone . . . all up-lifting to crescendo. . . Oh, how familiar are those strains urging me to hurry up and settle in with these inside-the-Beltway friends known so well.

Stockard Channing (First Lady Abby Bartlet, MD)
Dulé Hill (Charlie Young)
Allison Janney (Claudia Jean "C.J." Cregg)
Rob Lowe (Sam Seaborn)
Richard Schiff (Toby Ziegler)
John Spencer (Leo McGarry)
Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman)
Janel Moloney (Donna Moss)
Martin Sheen (President Jed Bartlet)

After years of hearing the song, I recently went off web shopping to discover these creations of W.G. “Snuffy” Walden:

* “West Wing – Main Title” and “West Wing Suite” - I bought the Windham Hill album “Music by. . . W.G. Snuffy Walden” on, so now I can play these tunes whenever I want.

Then, I got fascinated trying to find that very funny scene with C.J. lip-syncing to “The Jackal.” Had to sign up for Napster, but found it just the same.

* “The Jackal” - Remember that episode, “The Jackal”? Everybody loves that one. So, I set-up an mp3 download account and got Ronny Jordan’s Quiet Revolution album which includes “The Jackal.

@ But there’s much more music from West Wing episodes to be found on related music lists: ( offers a searchable archive of all seasons, identifying songs heard episode by episode. This may be the definitive list.

Another gem I came upon is an episode of Charlie Rose aired not long after the close of Season 2 . . .  "at this table" with Sorkin and five of the stars. Check it out.

So rarely am I compelled to watch a TV show . . . when it happens, I’m there. With the passing of “The West Wing” into small screen history, no one knows what I’ll do with an hour per week available . . . perhaps wear my new navy blue WW logo t-shirt over to the treadmill . . . shouting distance down the street.

@ I lived in Foggy Bottom my first four months there and took the long, long escalator ride up to surface over at the Roslyn Metro Stop near Orleans House. Then Liz and I moved to the intersection of Spout Run and Lee Hightway, and a year or so later, out to a lovely federal-style townhouse near Glebe Road. Those were good days, and we met Tonda and found a new home off Nottingham Street in Arlington. Those were good years. What a bittersweet thing is nostalgia.

The Washington Monument stood tall out my window seat view, coming in on the southern approach at National . . . or landing from the north on a jet galloping like this was its last horseride over the Potomac, beyond the rapids, passing Key Bridge and the USA Today and Gannett buidlings on the right, where my office was on the 17th floor . . . once upon a time. 

I could almost reach out my window and touch those silver eliptical-shaped buildings down there. From inside the silver towers, too, we thought we could reach up and touch the planes, so we waved.

I remember riding through the DC streets thinking to myself ". . . how happy, how lucky I am to be here."  So, one has to to ask, what the heck am I doing in California for the past 11 years?  What am I doing when I could have continued important work and visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue . . . for some Presidential bill signing ceremony, First Lady's lunch or Green Room performance? All those things we did there . . . once upon a time.

                                                                            (NBC Photos)

Added by BettyS @ 5:00 PM

May 8, 2006

Mother’s Day Is Fast Upon Us . . .
A Very Personal Story of Naming and Who’s Who

One of the wise women in my life suggested I write about Mother's Day. I am not quite sure what to say, other than that Hallmark invented it. Miss Louise would be 89 were she alive today . . . 89 is the age to which her mom (my grandmother) lived.

Had Miss Louise not decided on her own to have another child, I wouldn't be here . . . since Pop never wanted more than one, and that would be big brother Stan. The family lore says "she tricked him" and that's the only way I came to be, foreshadowing a long, tumultuous but vibrant father/daughter pairing.

My earliest memory of Mother’s Day is about my mom wearing a red carnation during church services, and then that carnation was a white one after “Grandma” died.

@ “Sarah Elizabeth” was my grandmother, but they called her “Bettie.” My mom was “Callie Louise,” known almost all her life as “Louise.” A true child of the 50s, my name is “Betty Louise” . . . and I’ve thought many times about having it changed to “Elizabeth.” My daughter is “Elizabeth Louise,” and I’ve always spoken of her as “Liz” . . . although she now prefers “Elizabeth.”

Who cares? I guess I do, or I wouldn’t enjoy telling about this . . . our matriarchal chain of names . . . and Liz says her daughter will be named "Callie Ann," if she has one.

@ Motherhood has never been my first calling. Liz has always referred to me as “Betty” . . . at my request . . .  since her earliest days of learning to speak. I’ve never complained about being called “Mom,” but I haven’t aspired to it either.

Motherhood . . . along with apple pie . . . is on the short list of glorified social institutions I’ve questioned since just about the time I learned to think. My take on it has always been, even before Hilary put words to it, that it takes a village . . . and I’ve almost always been just one of Liz’s moms.

Liz and I sprang into the ‘gay community’ in Memphis, TN when she was less than a year old . . . and so many wonderful friends pitched in on parenting and care-giving. At 26 with a toddler on my hip, I was the newcomer on the scene, and we both enjoyed a fabulous welcome from  womyn and men too.

Audrey (Liz's other mommy) came into our lives not long after Liz’s first birthday, so she has had not one, but two mommies for longer than childhood memory can recall. What's more, Audrey's mom, "Ginger," was like a second grandmom for Liz as well. What a wonderful woman she was!

Although It has been two decades since Audrey saw me off on my way, moving down to Washington, DC (while she stayed in New York truly waving goodbye), she has always been there for Liz. ‘Tis so until to this very day. “Aunties” have entered the picture, for sure, but there is only one “Other Mommy” . . . should that be "O'Mom."

And so, as Mother’s Day is upon us, I tip my hat to Grandma Bettie Knight, to Miss Louise and yes, to Audrey too. Motherhood being the huge topic that it is, maybe I'll say more on this, as the spirit moves . . . and I suspect it shall.

                                                                                    (Universiry of Arkansas Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 5:00 PM

April 27, 2006

Escaping "The War for Southern Independence" Is Not Easy . . .  or
Whose Name Is That on My Birthday Square?!!

Today is my birthday . . . they just keeping coming . . . like rabbits!

@ Mary and I rode our bicycles down the road to the site of General Grant’s headquarters . . .  one of our favorite playgrounds. We rode there often with compatriots and girlfriends named Claudia, Kathy, Martha Ellen, Brenda, Joanne and Lois.

After school on many days, just the two of us rode back there and climbed up on the great statue of Grant sitting atop Cincinnati, his beloved horse. We worried much during those visits over the danglings on Cincinnati’s underside and how big and anatomically correct they were . . . master sculptor Frederick C. Hibbard's handiwork.

Such was the education of us pre-adolescents, hanging out in the Vicksburg National Military Park . . . a place oft likened to Gettysburg . . . no Civil War buff shall miss, so rich are its reenactment traditions, legends, historic vistas and memorial statuary.

@ In her first grade classroom, Mrs. Beasley asked us to find our birthday and write our names there on the calendar behind her desk. On my square one name was already included: Ulysses S. Grant . . .  ‘Twas always thus, my six-year-old eyes would say, and has been such on every year’s edition sense.

In Mrs. Ratliff's fourth grade, I read his biography and heard about the day Grant road his horse through a Vickburger's antebellum house.  Any wonder no one spoke of him with affection in my hometown, more than a century later?

@ On orientation day, as I entered graduate school at Columbia University in New York, I heard Grant’s Tomb was about two blocks away.  Who’s buried there? Standing above the large granite slab covering his tomb, I said aloud, "Found you . . .after all these years, and found out too, who else's here . . . "

@ Moving into our new home in Arlington, Virginia, Liz and I were told our address would be 3000 Robert E. Lee Highway. Some ten years passed before I became acquainted with Fort Point’s role in protecting San Francisco from Confederates. Didn’t end, though, even then. This lingering trail of findings . . .  from what southern folk to this day still call "The War," the second of those words said with multiple drawling syllables.

Silver lining? Never did believe anyone who shared my birthday square could possibly be a bad guy, no matter what folks said. Probably was a first time of questioning the norm . . .  What would become an unapologetic lifetime habit . . .
                                                                                              (Photos: National Park Service)
Added by BettyS @ 3:00 AM

April 26, 2006

Gravitas Found! . . . or
Up On the Rooftop, Bloggers Pause . . .

What this “blog” thing really is still proves worrisome . . .

@ Yet another wise woman . . . she is to be found over on Noe Valley's main street rather than roaming the Berkeley Hills . . . said to me that what we are doing these days in a blog is akin to what would be . . . in pre-technology times . . .  like climbing on top of the roof and shouting what's on your mind. 

I thought about that and believe she’s got a good point.  In fact, I would suggest that the image of a climber-shouting-from-the-roof is something of a metaphor for us bloggers to consider. You who reads these passages must be the neighbor nearby wondering what’s that nut going to say today?

@ The town crier might also be an analogy. Miss Louise, my grammarian mom, was also simply masterful at teaching Medieval and Shakespearean literature . . . Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, King Lear and such. My bet is she’s toying with the idea of an assignment for her students to post their blog entries in iambic pentameter or perhaps produce a three-part theme on how today's blogger compares to the town crier of yore. 

(True story . . . one time walking back to the subway stop just after attending London's Gay Pride Day Festival, my girlfriend and I found ourselves having a chat with the official town crier dressed up in his Beefeater suit and adorned with one of the most impressive brass handbells you would ever see.  He turned down my request to ring the bell but did agree to be photographed with us . . . was quite friendly but clearly did not know what to say next after asking what brought us to London and we told about the Festival . . . somewhere I have that shot in the 1990s photo box.)

@ ‘Twas a Lamda nominated writer . . .  herself another wise woman . . .  who proved the source recently of unexpected praise in the highest for these passages:

“You’ve managed to achieve gravitas in a blog . . .” 

“Gravitas”! . . . What a word! . . .  A word I’ve heard used most in West Wing dialogue to describe the doin's between Toby, Leo and Jed. You must know we are down to the last three episodes now . . . read about it at this LINK.

So, off I went on an Internet search to see what I could see:

Wikipedia says:
Gravitas is a Latin noun that, as a modern loanword, conveys a sense of substance or depth of personality.
In an ancient Roman context, the word gravitas communicated a sense of dignity, seriousness, and duty. Gravitas is one of the several virtues that Ancient Roman society expected men to possess, along with pietas and dignitas.

@ I am so moved . . . and today  I blog, yesterday I blogged, in days passed I have blogged . . .  Thank you, once more, to the wise women in this life!

                                                                                                                  (Multiple sources)
Added by BettyS @ 5:30 AM

April 17, 2006

A Quake Sounds Like a Thunderstorm . . .
. . . But, Be Sure to Smile for the Camera, Girls!

Having peered through virtual photo archives, perused online exhibits, listened to podcasts and viewed documentaries, here come I . . . there's no escaping calls to keep one’s sense of humor . . . if you are serious and truly intend to survive disaster.

On the eve of the Great ’06 Quake’s Centennial . . . it seems everyone (and her cousin too) . . . is marking this little occasion . . .  but, how to treat ‘it’ in the slippery genre now called ‘blog’? A little multi-sensory treat might do.

@ Sound? Care to hear for yourself? Try these links on the US Geological Survey’s site (Quicktime needed):  Multiple Quakes or Listen for Fun.

@ Touch?’s podcast recommends a visit to the Exploratorium’s quake room where its possible to sit on the simulators for a good fanny shake.

@ Taste? Just has to be about breakfast . . . the waffles and stewed rubarb, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, biscuits, bacon and coffee served at The St. Francis Hotel during the interlude before the fire . . . not to mention the so-called “Ham & Eggs Fire” launched by an unsuspecting cook in Hayes Valley trying to toss up a post-quake, home-cooked morning repast.

@ Smell?  The dust of crumbling buildings covered the dead horses and more dead horses killed in the street still hitched to wagons . . . and for four days following, hours and hours of smoke, smoke and more smoke . . . then the stench of decay and failed sanitation.

@ Sight?  Tryout Lick Observatory’s recreation of the ’06 seismic record.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) offers the chance to view current seismic drum recorder data from collecting stations . . . Tamalpais Peak, Pinole Ridge, San Bruno Mt., Stanford Telescope and so many more

@ Image?  Pick one from among the multitude, that’s your assignment. Having considered thousands, I could only find my way back to Arnold Genthe's image I've seen so many times before . . . the one with two women posing for the camera, while on-lookers view the burning city beyond. Probably viewed from Twin Peaks or maybe Kite Hill, either, too close to home . . . the vantage point and the smiling-for-the-camera too. Combine the irony with humanness of the vanity. I own it. My neighborhood thrives in it, the humanness-plus-vanity, that is!

Related Photo Gallery:  Images of Women - 1906 SF Earthquake

                                                                                                    (Photo: SFMOMA)

Added by BettyS @ 4:30 AM

April 13, 2006

More Wise Words to Live By
Or . . .  If at First You Don’t Succeed, Grab the Rebound!

How many times have I taken a shot at the goal and missed? How many times have I stopped to rethink the goal? How many times have I stayed the path when the going gets tough and testing?

My lesson in the meaning of the word “resilient” (in its adjectival form) or “resiliency” (in its noun substantive) . . . began while looking around the walls of the visitor's center at the Women's Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, that small town beyond the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.  (Have you ever asked a New Yorker where “upstate” begins? They are dumbfounded, but are guaranteed to smile when you then ask “ . . . at the top of the Bronx?”)

This time, my life lesson came by way of a wise woman who never lived above the fountain in the Berkeley Hills (see previous entry 4/9/06). She was, however, a citizen of the world and someone who belongs to us all.

On that wall in Seneca Falls hung a quotation . . .  there, on a small multi-colored silk-screened quilted block tapestry. I was to be . . . and still am . . . both haunted and informed by this simple, elegant wisdom:

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

My second encounter with ER came via Blanche Weisen Cooke’s first tome of her three-part biography: Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume One. Through Cooke’s recounting, I learned of ER’s unacknowledged love for “Hick” (AP reporter Lorena Hickok) whom she first met during Hick’s days in the White House press core.  Talk about loving someone and not admitting it . . .

My third encounter with ER came in the vicinity of New Orleans’ Jackson Square in 1993 while attending a national PFLAG Convention. Gazing at me from the easel of a Memphis-based artist whom I’d known more than a decade prior 'twas none other than the "First Lady of the World" herself.

Sher Stewart’s watercolor “Eleanor,” destined then to return with me to Noe Valley, has adorned my room next to that quilted block ever sense, bearing witness and lending fortitude.

How many times have I taken a shot at a goal and missed? Begs the question:  How many times have I reconsidered the goal only to find I'm fortunate to have missed! Or, in other words, what was I thinking? Lo and behold . . . 'tis the unanswered prayer.

How many times have ER's words guided me to remain in the game?
Even so, grab the rebound!   . . .

                                                                    (Photo: Billy Ray, The Vicksburg Post)

Added by BettyS @ 5:30 AM

April 9, 2006

Lessons from Beyond the Fountain . . . or
What’s Your Most Powerful Word in the English Language?

A wise woman lives over there in the East Bay Berkeley Hills, up passed Marin Circle’s restored Bear Fountain. For seven of my eleven years here, I studied with her regularly.

We studied many an hour, she and I . . . long and hard . . . and I am the beneficiary of wisdom she passed on. I am the beneficiary of her “tools” not known to me before.

@ My colleague and friend Kate and I recently were deep in conversation. One of that wise woman’s teachings popped in my mind, so I went on to explain. 

This particular teaching or tool has to do with how one installs an internal guidance system using the word “appropriate.” 

What’s appropriate? How does one decide? How does context lend meaning to the answer? What’s the role of intuition in that knowing?

How deeply within must one look to find her truth in meaning of the word? What means thus for how one lives? For love? For taking action or not, and the making of decisions, however tough be they to make?

Need say more? Look deep, deep within.  Sit with this word a week or so. You'll see henceforth how it informs.

@ Then, just yesterday Kate arrives in the midst of preparations for her family visit back to England.  “I’ve met a girl,” she declares emphatically. “So, tell me more,” I say. “This one is good,” she says. “How do you know?” asked I.

“She’s appropriate for me! An appropriate partner!” Kate pronounced in her finest British accent and proceeded to tell all the reasons why. “Good for you!” was my response, to which she said, “I should have known ‘this’ a long time ago.”

What to do with “appropriate” now . . . now that it is yours too? Just sit, yes, sit deeply . . . quietly.  No more.  Simple to install. A guidance system that will not fail, as you no longer can allow. A power, a responsibility comes with knowing, with understanding.

Thank you, Wise Woman in the Berkeley Hills, and thank you, Kate, for giving yet another special moment and knowing smile.

                                                                                        (Photo by Rich Reader)

Added by BettyS @ 11:45 PM

April 4, 2006

Spring Forward, Fall Back -
Perhaps Love Creeps Up When You Least Expect It

Tonight . . . is crawling through the wee hours and my clock’s trying to admit that Daylight Saving Time is real.  I’m reminded, interestingly, that a feeling of love can happen most any time . . . to any of us humans . . . really . . . even if we don't particularly want it to.

This is a tough subject, for sure, when one has been through ups and downs of the heart, as I have . . . no pun intended . . . really. But it creeps up when you don’t expect it, like tonight on the treadmill . . . and I don’t know what to do with it when it’s there. 

And talk about parsing sentences, one can make a career of trying to parse one's own self . . .  What was that about an unexamained life not worth living, Socrates?

Not everyone in my world understands why I love John Denver’s music and that’s just . . . well . . .  just okay. I don’t mind. Tonight on that treadmill, I was listening to “Perhaps Love,” . . . the version sung by John with Placido Domingo.  It's way up there on my list of favorite love songs. 

Now, I can’t play this music on my computer keyboard for you, but I can leave the words . . . and I can give this link to the version, hokey though it may be.  Hell, . . . the whole song’s hokey, but, I don’t care. At least, not tonight I don't care.  The meaning’s in the metaphors and the memories and hopes and dreams this music brings . . . so there.  Here's to being an old sap once in a while!

Perhaps Love
By John Denver
Perhaps love is like a resting place, a shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort, it is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble when you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home

Perhaps love is like a window, perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer, it wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself and don't know what to do
The memory of love will see you through

Love to some is like a cloud, to some as strong as steel
For some a way of living, for some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on and some say letting go
And some say love is everything, and some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the ocean, full of conflict, full of pain
Like a fire when it's cold outside, or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever, and all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

And some say love is holding on and some say letting go
And some say love is everything, and some say they don't know

Perhaps love is like the mountains, full of conflict, full of change
Like a fire when it's cold outside, or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever, and all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

                                                                        (Photo: Hearts in San Francisco Project)

Added by BettyS @ 2:45 AM

March 24, 2006

I Blog, I Blogged, I Have Blogged! . . . or
What Happened in One Half of 525,600 Minutes?

Mayor Ed Koch was in office during the years I lived in New York City, and he was famous for walking around the streets stopping folks and asking, “How’m I doin’?”

Maybe that’s what this is about . . . but the conversation is between Miss Louise and me.  I think . . . that Miss Louise would be pleased with the stats so far, even if she still didn’t like the word “blog” . . . as was alluded to in entries for 9/24/05 and 9/28/05. 

It’s a fact that Miss Louise taught me English grammar and how to conjugate verbs and parse sentences; thus, the title above and the structure of this compound complex sentence, chock full of what’s called ellipsis, anaphora and cataphora. Don’t even consider debating the point.

So, The Betty Blog reaches it’s 1/2 year point, and here are the stats, . . . so far as I’ve been able to ascertain, prior to today:

Words:  27,453
Characters: 123,464
Lines: 2,166
Paragraphs: 605
Average Monthly Unique Visitors: 570
Pages to Print: 56
Graphics/Photos: 83
Links: More than 500
Dates of Entry: 56
Name mentioned most frequently:  Liz or Elizabeth (35)
Links to Web Cams: 24
Links to College Football Songs: 16
Most Frequent Entry Topics: Holidays
2nd Most Frequent Entry Topic: The Dixie Chicks

@ I’ve loved the song “Seasons of Love” from Rent for a long time and used it at volunteer appreciation events to acknowledge group accomplishments over the span of a year.  The song talks about 525,600 minutes "in the year of a life," so this would indicate the numbers above are related to what happened during a span of some 262,800 minutes.

I do not expect to keep up this pace. Maybe so if I were still 18, playing basketball and Miss Louise were still sitting up in the stands liked she used to watching my hook shots. But then, come to think about it, I suspect Miss Louise probably is . . .  Now then, 'tis back to the treadmill for me . . .  Yes, Liz, that's really me . . .

                                                        (Photo: Billy Ray, The Vicksburg Post)

Added by BettyS @ 12:15 AM

March 22, 2006

Who Gives a Hoot About Stylebooks Anyway?
. . . For All the Word Lovers in This Life

NLGJA and GLADD are both to be commended, I say (loudly), for making a point of paying attention to the words journalists use to talk about us. NLGJA actually has it’s own stylebook supplement on lgbt terminology in both English and Spanish.

Then there’s the AP Stylebook. What’s that? Oh, nothing short of a biblical reference for media types . . .  The evolution of guidelines on LGBT-related usage dates back more than two decades . . .

GLADD informs us:

“In the previous edition of the AP Stylebook (2005), the entry for gay read as follows:

   gay Acceptable as popular synonym for both male and female homosexuals (n. and adj.), although it is generally associated with males, while lesbian is the more common term for female homosexuals. Avoid references to gay, homosexual or alternative "lifestyle."

The updated 2006 entry reads:

    gay Used to describe men and women attracted to the same sex, though lesbian is the more common term for women. Preferred over homosexual except in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity.

    Include sexual orientation only when it is pertinent to a story, and avoid references to "sexual preference" or to a gay or alternative "lifestyle."

The 2006 edition also relocates the sex changes entry under the more accurate and inclusive term transgender. The transsexuals entry, which used to direct readers to the entry for sex changes, now also points to transgender:

    transgender  Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.

    If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”

There’s more, and you can read the entire release, dated 3/13/06, with the headline: GLAAD Applauds Updated Associated Press Stylebook Entries.

Also, there's a fascinating and comprehensive History of LGBT-related AP Stylebook Updates on GLAAD’s site. Plus, they’ve included for background: Resource: New York Times, Washington Post LGBT-Related Style Guidelines.

This stuff is big fun for us media watchers . . . although some would ask "Who gives a hoot?"  I do, for one. Watching the drama unfold in stylebooks of AP, NYT and other metro dailies big enuf to have their own has been an interest for some 25 years  . . . Well, you say, it's time to take a rest . . . and go dancing!

(AP’s MidSouth Bureau in Memphis was located in the office next door to mine at The Commercial Appeal in 1981. That’s when I began to truly realize what the heck AP was and who cared. A year or so later, I had my very first look at an lgbt-usage sheet in Long Island Newsday’s stylebook in 1982. The rest is . . . history.)


Added by BettyS @ 6:15 AM

March 17, 2006

Erin Go What?  . . . and Begorragh!

Three or four sets of ancestors back, my mom’s family were Anglican Brits when they came to oversee Senator L.Q.C. Lamar's plantation. Pop’s were Irish, of whom it has been said, "They probably lost their Catholicism in the backwaters of Mississippi . . . and went to church the only place they could."

Later generations grew up southern . . .  Southern Baptist, specifically, back before anyone ever heard of a Christian fundamentalist.  So, what did you say was all that about bombs in Northern Ireland?

Pop did claim to be “a red-headed Irishman,” even after his hair had gone gray. He liked to sing and make folks laugh. Catholics, on the other hand, were our cross-town sports rivals at that school where they all dressed alike. The drinking habit was something to hide. Freckles came along with red hair. None of us had ever heard of green beer or a pub crawl. The phrase "black Irish" was . . . confusing.

At one point, I realized I knew more about Jewish heritage than Irish. I was . . . well,  just southern.

Say what? 

Search words: “The Irish are known for . . .

- Literature and music, but not for graphic arts
- Their ability to have a good time
- Their strong opinions on politics and pubs
- Being very intuitive in all social situations
- Their gift of gab and spinning of yarns
- Having a thick skin and a good sense of humor
- Their large breakfasts called “frys”
- Their leprechauns, delightful sayings, green shamrocks and . . potatoes
- Their way with words, and to be sure, nothing inspires them more than the day devoted to their own patron saint
- Their sense of fun, their casual attitude and their sense of tradition. They're irresistible
- The taboo against the eating of seal because seals are thought to be re-incarnated relatives
- Their storytelling, beers on tap like Harp and Guinness, rousing games of darts and pool, lively Celtic music and tasty Irish dishes
- Their friendliness and their ability to make any visitor welcome
- Great writers like Joyce, Yeats and Beckett
- Their storytelling tradition
- Their sense of humor
- Their generosity and hospitality
- Their writing skills, and now they will be known for their skill with electronics
- Their eloquence and “the gift of the gab”
- Their intelligence
- Their great taste for liquor
- Luck and the saying “the luck of the Irish”
- Their red hair, shamrocks, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, St. Patrick’s Day, feisty attitudes
- Flaming tempers
- Their eloquence on many subjects, and cursing is one of them . . . no one does it better
- Their sense of faith
- Meals that stick to the ribs
- Many wonderful gifts to the Western world, such as Guinness beer, Irish whiskey and Boxty dishes
- Their hospitality but are also stereotyped by their temper
- The Irish are known for their warm hospitality, outrageous wit, and brilliant art of conversation
- Their obstinate and gruff demeanor
-Their blarney, but even they find it difficult to brag
- The magic of their words
- Three drinks: Guinness, Irish Whiskey and Poteen
- Wool clothing such as tweed caps and beautiful handmade sweaters
- Their vivid and colorful stories
- Their temper and their love of drink
- Their whiskey booms, cordials stay hot beer
- Soul, welcome, witty servers and good craic, the sharp wit
- Going beyond the call of duty
- Their tale-telling and sometimes embellishing the truth
- Fine crystal
- Waking the dead, many traditional blessings
- Their love of life
- Being fun-loving people to help get through the bad times as well
- Their sociability
- Their humor and having a good time
- Their easy-going tempers and their respect for authority
- Their wit and imagination, qualities reflected in dance
- Their festive wakes to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed on
- Their understatement and unflappability
- Their folklore and superstition
- Their drinking and wonderful funeral bashes

No wonder my initials are “B.S.”

Added by BettyS @ 7:30 AM

March 14, 2006

Barb Wore Pokka Dots on the Dance Floor . . .
On Two of Nature’s Finer States of Being

When you have an old friend, or should I say . . . a “friend-of- longstanding,” there’s just something special there.

@ I often enjoy dancing  . . .  just dancing, with or without a dance partner, and sometimes this happens out on the floor at Page Hodel’s monthly tea dance called Respect.  Respect for Women on the 2nd Sunday of each month.  A place where I feel safe to dance. 

This past Sunday at Respect, my pal Barb Rush, with whom I am celebrating the 20th year of our friendship, was there . . . wearing a great looking black, buttoned-down shirt with large blue, green and yellow pokka dots . . . and a red bandanna around her neck. 

(A variant spelling is "polka dots," but both are in common usage.)

Now, the idea of Barb in pokka dots was not new, as I had actually seen the shirt before.  Yet it is so infrequently she's wearing them, it stuck me this must be a ‘special’ day.

I would think nothing of seeing someone . . . say, Dolly Parton,  . . . wearing pokka dots. Barb, however, is the un-Dolly type, . . . although I know she probably believes in Dollywood and wishes Dolly's 2006 nominated song “Travlin’ Thru” had won the Oscar.

So, it was from the dance floor that I saw her when Barb and the three others arrived at Rouge where Respect is held. They had come to have a good time.  Without the slightest sign of hesitation, though, she waved her arm and took me into the group and their circle to dance some more . . .

A nice thing, I thought  . . .  to invite someone without a dance partner to join right in. It truly was a ‘special’ moment for me . . . but, I hear, this sort of "everyone-join-in" occurs at Respect every month . . .  far more frequently than Barb wears pokka dots. And, I became aware I would write this blog about two ‘special’ things I sensed then were going on.

First, is having a safe place to dance your heart out, alone or with someone.  Second, is a celebration of friendship in general in our community, but in particular, those 20 years shared with Barb . . . all the memories and all of those too who have listened to us tell our tales.

In the end, I admit, it does not matter to me what she wears . . .  though it's true I do enjoy that keen sense of humor playing itself out in attire . . . a shirt or hat, a flashing pin or rainbow lights or Halloween something she has come up with one more time.  It’s all good . . . and cosmic too . . .


                                                                                         (NASA Photos - Hubble Telescope)

Added by BettyS @ 3:30 AM

March 11, 2006

"Tha Girls" Are Back!

Summer 2006 will see the Dixie Chicks beginning a new worldwide tour with the launch of their forthcoming album entitled “Taking the Long Way.”  (Release date: May 23, 2006)

The song below is the Chicks' autobiographical statement in response to the bru-ha-ha over Natalie’s comment about George W. Bush during a London concert in March, 2003 . . . this reported in the news release dated March 10, 2006.

(To hear a sample from Not Ready to Make Nice, use the "Related Media" link to audio on the right side of the page in the Fairview Observer's story 'Chicks not through with country radio yet.')

Not Ready to Make Nice
Words & Music by Emily Robinson, Martie Mcguire, Natalie Maines and Dan Wilson
Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it

I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting

That’s their song.  All on the album are co-written by the the Dixie Chicks and produced by Rick Rubin.

It’s going to be a fun ride . . . because . . . yes, they’re back!

                                                                                    (Dixie Chicks Album Cover)

Added by BettyS @ 11:50 PM

March 7, 2006

Is Life More Than the Sum of Its Parts?

And, What the Hell . . . Am I Doing Writing About This? 

Good questions. Maybe because I wanted so badly for Felicity Huffman to win. Maybe because it’s now post Academy Awards. Maybe because it's in the stars . . .

Some weeks ago, I received a call from a publicist in Hollywood asking if we might be willing to help promote the soundtrack for the movie Transamerica.

“What is Betty’s List?” she asked . . .   I explained that, but did not tell her this story.

@ Twice in my life I have been touched by the remarkable experience of having a very close relationship with a woman who didn’t tell me she was one. Was what? A real life Bree. A woman who lives the character played by Felicity in Transamerica.

But remember one thing, please. I am writing about my life.  Not theirs.  Not hers.

In each instance, when I found out, it just didn’t matter. Not one damn bit. The deep love I felt remained solid and my admiration grew. Okay, that has to be qualified. It mattered that I knew of the pain and difficulty she had known, still did know then and continues to know now.  Not that I could ever truly understand it, but I gained an awareness that it was there.

But remember, this commentary is about my life.  Not hers. Not theirs.

It mattered because, in each case, I was charged with the responsibility of making sure that no one else knew. It mattered because the pain resulting from that impossible assignment affected the integrity of the relationship in ways beyond my control. In the end, I suppose, I found out in a convoluted way just how much my own life could be affected by pain resulting from the state of being trans and the mesh of complications.

Also, it mattered because some who know me asked what it was like; and further, it mattered when they laughed and said I was the last to know.

I do not have a solution. If I could wave away the interpersonal craziness that exists . . . even here in our own LGBT community . . . as a result of gender choices, I would. But I can’t.  Some things I must accept, like it or not.  Some things change slowly over time.  Some never will. There is always hope.

@ In these few rambling and oblique comments, I am taking the risk of speaking just a little bit about one of the most difficult conundrums I have faced in my entire life on this planet, and I don't like it.  I don’t like that Felicity Huffman didn’t win. I don't like the way it turned out in either case. I don't like that I can't do much of anything about either situation other than write these words.

But, I can promise this: I will keep cheering . . .  and cheering . . . and cheering for my trans friends, the ones I’m in touch with and the ones I’m not . . . for Bree, the character  . . . and for the woman who so courageously portrayed her in the film.  She did win my heart . . . just as did those two women whom I loved in real life.

I will also keep cheering for me. Why? Because in each case, even though things got too complicated to make sense, I did my best. I did not give up. No matter what. I will keep cheering for me because through these experiences, I have gained an understanding of my own gender identify's fluidity and how it evolves over time.

Finally, I will keep cheering for all transwomen and transmen and those who aren't there yet. For those who haven't figured it out yet. For those who say they are post-trans because they have lived longer in the second chapter of their lives than in the first.

Yes, I will keep cheering for them. And for me too. No matter what.

                                                                                                (Transamerica Photo)
Added by BettyS @ 1:30 AM

February 21, 2006

Happy Philately . . . and, Olympics or Bust!

Well, not really. Maybe it should be “The Olympic Bust!”

Time to blog and the only thing I can think about tonight is the 400-umpteen hours of mediocre programming on my three screens coming from NBC during the two weeks of the 2006 Games in Torino. Well, make that Turin.

Okay, it’s not really about the coverage. Where’s this coming from?  Probably it’s that I’m not very positive about USCO (United States Olympic Committee) and haven’t been since 1999.

Why? For more than 10 years, I worked with some excellent members of the UCSO staff developing education programs that were disseminated by newspapers throughout the US and in other nations.  With initial discussions dating back to 1989, Dr. Sherrye Garrett and I developed instructional materials for Games in Albertville (1992), Lillehammer (1994), Atlanta (1996), Nagano (1998) and Sydney (2000).

We went to Colorado Springs more than once.  I was flying low and fast, as anyone who knows what's there would understand. Had lunch with athletes in their training center cafeteria. Sherrye and I saw some very large swimming pools and gymnastics training rooms. Loved the gift shoppe and the statuary along the walkways of the Visitors Center.

Then came the scandals that preceded Salt Lake City. USOC’s governing Board brought in a new president, who immediately canned the entire Education Department, affecting the lives of some who had devoted as many as 20 years to the Olympic movement and Team USA.

I was not happy about it then, and I’m not now. 

Ironic that my Google search this evening . . . looking for the numerical designation of the Federal Law regulating use of the Olympic symbols and language . . . took me directly . . . I do mean “directly” . . .  to a page overviewing the 1987 Supreme Court decision entitled “San Francisco Arts & Athletics, Inc, et al. v United States Olympic Committee et al.

Yep, that’s the ruling on June 25th of that year that the “Gay Olympic Games” could not include the word “Olympic.” The case was argued by Mary C. Dunlap whose photo adorns, as we speak . . . as I write, our web site’s homepage announcing the 2006 Mary C. Dunlap Lecture on Sex, Gender & Social Justice.

My guess is that lots of Betty’s List subscribers know about that case because it was so close to home, literally and figuratively.

What I was looking for was this: “Amateur Sports Act of 1978, 36 U.S.C. 371-396” and it’s relevant because how it is interpreted affects the use of the word Olympics and the ring symbols on our web site’s link to coverage of the Games.

One of my mentors taught me something, however. She explained that one thing UCSO can’t regulate is our wish to show off the U.S. Postal Service’s lovely stamp issued to commemorate the 2006 Games. (Now, indeed, not everyone I know loves USPS, but that's another story . . . )

We show the stamp graphic for educational purposes. Thus, you’ll find that stamp on our home page this week as our illustration of where to click for the link to NBC’s official 2006 Olympic web site where there is lots more educational information.

That’s it! No more to say. Happy philately to all, and to all a good night!

                                                                        (U.S. Postal Service Illustration)

Added by BettyS @ 1:30 AM

February 14, 2006

It’s Okay-To-Be-Ha . . .
Single Again, on Valentines Day!

A professor I once knew said he was one of the original members of the popular 60s rock band called Paul Revere & The Raiders. He also got my attention by telling a story about what often happens when you mispronounce the name of the place where you are.

The college town where I met him was located in Oktibbeha (ok-TIB-uh-hah) County, Mississippi. There are more than a few place names in my home state derived from words in the language of the Choctaw Native American Indians.

It seems this new-in-town professor had created much merriment among the locals by saying the county name as Okay-To-Be-Ha, and thinking the chief of the tribe must have been trying to tell a visitor that it is Okay-To-Be-Here.

I’ve not been able to verify his claim to rock band fame, but his story has stayed with me and comes again this Valentines Day . . . when I find myself . . .  still single?  . . . in the Castro?  . . . on Valentines Day?

You bet! Not everyone in my neighborhood is rushing around passionately trying to exercise their rights to same-sex marriage. There are some of us, in fact, who just won’t settle until Ms. or Mr. Right comes along, if he or she ever does  . . .

 . . . and some who actually wish that the future of our Civil Rights didn’t rest on how this issue falls off the fence . . .  although many won't admit it in public, so strong is the peer pressure (1) to want to be in a couple, and (2) to want to participate in an outdated non-secular institution (my words) and have it sanctioned by the state . . .

I've heard all the arguments about equal access, but I'll never truly understand why my commitment and belief in long-term monogamous relationships is somehow questioned if I don't want to call it marriage.

Now, how do you recognize her or him when the right one comes along? They say you will “just know.” But, I don’t know about that either. I’ve been totally convinced more than once that I “just knew” she had arrived only to find out how deeply into "ir-reality" I could be.

In the final assessment, I don't believe finding connection is about running around trying to find Mr. or Ms. Right . . . looking for her or him in 'all the wrong places' with no context other than a cocktail.  And, no, I cannot say I never tried.

It’s about just letting things be, and knowing they are as they are suppose to be. It's about enjoying being with yourself and all the things you love to do and be and the good friends who share triumphs, joys and sadness when they come. It's about participating in community and thereby attaining context and hope of an actual relationship that dares to be healthy. It's about recognizing that a good friendship just might be most valuable relationship of all.

Have I made mistakes? Some I cannot change and always will regret. Have I learned anything along the way? One would only hope, yet what I do with that knowledge remains to be seen.

These are my thoughts and secrets of being . . . of being Okay-To-Be-Ha on Valentines Day and on every day, no matter what the calendar says.

                                                                                            (Pompidou Center Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 5:00 PM

February 9, 2006

Can This Blog Speak on Controversial Topics?

“Take your ginkgo pill!” That’s what my daughter says to me when she wants to make fun.  She also thinks that I shouldn’t put those controversial cartoons on this site. I’m still thinking about this.  . . . But, she says that the reason she doesn’t want me to put something controversial up is not to censor. It's because she doesn’t want the Betty's List web site to be attacked and go down.

I’m still thinking about this. Our webmaster explains that there are various ways a site can be attacked and he doesn’t have time to deal with it if it happens. I agree with that. I don’t either. But, I also have a commitment not to live my life in fear. That's why I marched to Take Back the Night.

There is no good or easy answer to this discussion. Like there is none to all the questions raised by violence over cartoons that depict religious figures in a manner some find objectionable. What is good about this, however, is that it evokes a totally fascinating discussion and also, that we are having that discussion . . . globally.

Meanwhile, two big thumbs down to those who use these cartoons as an excuse for violence, no matter where in the world they are or of what ethnicity.

How did I feel about it when the Brooklyn Museum exhibited the “Piss Christ” and “The Holy Virgin Mary” made with elephant dung? I enjoyed the story and could not have given a tinker’s damn about the art, what it's made of or what it depicts.  Still, I did enjoy the story and the ensuing discussion.

Now ask, how would I feel about it if an ancient goddess artifact were spray painted with graffiti? I can make no excuses for any form of violence, even the death penalty. I can make no excuses for deliberate attacks on works of art or violence as a result of art.  Are cartoons published in a newspaper art? If they are in the editorial section, are they art or are they editorial content? Both?

The New York Times says it won’t 'show' those cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and calls that a 'reasonable' editorial decision. There’s a site called Times Watch that devotes itself to “Documenting and Exposing the Liberal Political Agenda of the New York Times.” See what they have to say.  Big fun, as the Californians would say.

 ABC News, I hear, did show them. The McNeil Report on PBS included a segment with several editors who made sensible points in all directions:

-  How can you truly inform readers about a cartoon without showing it?
- These cartoons were fairly easy to describe in words, so there was no need to publish the images which would be deemed objectionable by some readers.
- Editors withhold images and words everyday that they determine would be objectionable to some of their readers.
- In view of the level of violence going on in this case, the words alone do not explain well enough what the upset is about.
- In view of the level of violence, if the objectionable elements were words rather than images, the words would probably have been published.

I asked webmaster John if he had seen the cartoons. He said yes, so I asked where. He said, "They're everywhere!" He's right. Just do a Google search using the words "Muhammad" and "cartoons." Click on Google's "Images" option, and there you have it, or should I say, there you have them.

So, as of this writing, The Betty Blog is taking what I consider to be a lame approach. What’s that? Giving the LINK to them on somebody else’s site.  Here’s another LINK with even more.  Michelle Malkin certainly is a journalist worth knowiing about.

Meanwhile, as a First Amendment advocate of longstanding, I’m still thinking about this.  I do know I will buy something Danish very soon. Maybe a copy of a Danish newspaper would be a good idea.


                                                                                (Cris Ofili: The Virgin Mary)

Added by BettyS @ 2:00 AM

February 7, 2006

Broadway Dimmed Its Lights This Week . . .
Remembering Wendy Wasserstein, My Personal Thoughts

Tonight I find my moment to pause in honor of Wendy Wasserstein. Charlie Rose is playing clips from his numerous interviews with her as I compose and reminisce. Charlie has conversation with playwrights, critics and great friends of Ms. Wasserstein.  What they say gives me pause.

How I do identify with this woman, my contempory, now passed, whom I was so lucky to have met. How I'd wish to be spoken of as is she, a very wise and funny, lonely woman. Is loneliness is a sign of genius?

Do I speak of  “Ms. Wasserstein” or of “Wendy”? Well, “Wendy” she was to all.

I made the call to my colleague Dr. Sherrye Garrett to ask if she could take the lead in dreaming up the project. The result was our “Celebrate Theatre!” instructional guide. Sherrye was thrilled that year when she heard Wendy was coming to town, down from New York to appear as our speaker that May of 1990.

Wendy sat next to me at the head table for the opening dinner of our annual conference in the great ballroom at The Washington Times. (Now, who ever heard of a newspaper building with a ballroom in it? And, what were we doing at The Washington Times in the first place?)

The project Sherrye and I developed began because the League of American Theatres and Producers had realized the need to bring young people back to Broadway. Their communications executive Susan Lee asked, and Wendy agreed to speak to our audience of newspaper publishers, editors and educational services directors on the importance of literacy, good writing, the theatre and laughter in young people’s lives.  In all our lives, really.

As we chatted before she spoke that evening in the ballroom, I asked if I might pin a literacy button on Wendy’s suit jacket. Yes . . . please do . . . it was okay. I recognized that jacket tonight watching one of the interviews with Charlie Rose for the early 1990s.

If I ever met anyone who was both wise and funny, Wendy was. Before the evening was over, she had us all, an audience of 400 plus, rolling out of our chairs and around on the ballroom floor. We laughed so hard. We laughed with her because she laughed too. I'm not sure it's possible to be wise and have no sense of humor.

Once the conference closed, I could not wait to rush out and buy Wendy’s three most famous works at that time: “The Heidi Chronicles,” “Uncommon Women and Others” and “The Sisters Rosensweig.” What’s more, I could not put them down. Tonight I’m aware she’s written so much since then, so much more for me to find and read . . . from this wise contemporary of mine.

I hear she has a novel coming out posthumously entitled “The Elements of Style.” It’s way time, as the Californians would say, for me to read Wendy again. I hope my daughter reads Wendy, and my daughter's daughter and yours too.


                                          (Lincoln Center Photo - Multiple Sources)

Added by BettyS @ 2:00 AM

January 29, 2006

Gung Hay Fat Cho  . . . It’s the Year of the Dog!

The Chinese New Year celebrations meant next to nothing to me until I arrived in San Francisco. I was invited to join the SF Chronicle’s VIP section on Stockton Street during my first year here. What did I know of dancing dragons and children playing in huge drum sections?  . . .  make that 'huge-drum' and 'huge drum' sections too.

@ The small Mississippi River city where I grew up had one small grocery run by a Chinese family. My parents never went in. (No, it was not the only grocery store in town, but it was the only Chinese one.)

My first Chinese food experience came on a New Year’s Eve visit to Memphis with Liz’s father. We joined friends that evening who decided to take us out to the best Chinese restaurant in town over on Poplar Avenue.  It’s not there now.

Going inside, we felt ourselves an adventuresome quartet, and perhaps twas so being we were, oh, . . . about age 20 and college sophomores . . . venturing out into the Bible Belt city . . . that Memphis really was and is . . .  to an Asian restaurant, no less.

We were wowed by the architecture, the garden in the entryway, the private booths, the red, the flowers, the accents and faces of the staff. We were wowed by what the food looked like, just as much as by the tastes of it. We were wowed by how puzzled we felt - after the last item was cleared away and we had sampled our first fortune cookies - about where we might find a good steakhouse for the rest of dinner now that we’d finished what seemed like it was a sampling exotic appetizers, though we wouldn't have known to describe it that way.

@ Some years later during my New York days, Audrey and I made a ritual at semester's end of taking the train down to Canal Street and hopping off for an outing in Chinatown. The focal point of the outing was dinner at Ting Fu Gardens over near the intersection of Pell and Mott.

I was much impressed when Audrey’s friend Michael, a linguistics scholar, was able to translate the Cantonese characters adorning the sides of pagoda-shaped phone booths. Going inside, the restaurant wasn't a fancy one and without the Chinese-themed accents, it could have passed for a casual lunch spot down in the real Delta or the Midwest or somewhere near Modesto or Merced.

Event planners have taught me to call the decor 'tired' when there is need of rennovation. Well, Ting Fu Garden's booths in the seating area were just that. But, no matter. We were captivated watching Michael reading to us in English the entire menu written in Cantonese. After years of going there with Michael, we found out we could just ask for the menu in English, though we felt never again as appreciated by the staff. (Thanks to Audrey for this entry idea and links.)

Ting Fu Gardens is where I met and learned to love hot and sour soup with a sharp vinegar twang, and none since has come close to theirs . . .  a litmus test of sorts. After leaving NYC to live in DC, I returned to the intersection of Pell and Mott one day only to find that Ting Fu Gardens wasn’t there.

Then there was the time at some other NYC Chinatown establishment where Audrey's friend Betsy Gooch, a well-known N.O.W. leader in the NE region, introduced us to leechee nuts for dessert . . . and how we did carry on about Mr. Leechee's nuts. I still can't eat them.

@ Next important adventure with Chinese culture was during a lecture tour on media education for The Star newspaper in Petaling Jaya near Kuala Lumpur. Hosting were two lovely Chinese journalists, LeeAnn and her colleague, from the paper’s education program.

During our days off, they took me and the other American instructor to see more temples and more statues of Buddha than I ever dreamed possible. It did not escape me that this wasn't unlike how I experienced our French tour guide's determination we would make our way through the plethora of cathedrals found in Normandy. . . .  well, they really were beautiful.

Among the temples we visited was Wat Chayamangkalaram in Penang, home to the 3rd largest reclining Buddha in the world and the largest in Malaysia, measuring over 100 feet in length. I was fascinated to learn that Malaysia is a nation with three separate population groups, defined by religion:  Hindu, Islamic and Buddhism, and of the mistrust of Buddhist Chinese families who comprise the leading economic and political class.

@ Learn more about China? The passage below comes from a web site called “China The Beautiful” that's chock full of historical and cultural information. This site is so wonderful that it is overwhelming . . . and that’s a good thing. To learn about the Chinese nation and heritage, this would be a place to begin. Here’s the passage:

When is the Chinese New Year's Day in Year 2006?
-    January 29, 2006 is the first day of the Chinese New Year.
-    There are three ways to name a Chinese year:
1    By an animal (like a mascot).
     This year is known as the Year of the Dog.
     There are 12 animal names; so by this system, year names are re-cycled every 12 years.
2   By its Formal Name (Stem-Branch). 
The new year is the year of bingxu.
     In the 'Stem-Branch' system, the years are named in 60-year cycles, and the Name of the      Year is repeated every 60 years.
2006 is the 7th year in the current 60-year cycle.
3   It is Year 4703 by the Chinese calendar.
- A few Chinese astrological/zodiac websites believe this year should be considered as Year 4704 for zodiac calculations.

@ Another option is site called “The World Factbook” with sections on many nations. Included is a page of key facts about China, such as the population total estimated in 2005: 1,306,313,812. There’s so much more.

As for this being the year of the dog . . . well, speak softly . . . this site has attack cats!

                                                                                        (Wat Chayamangkalaram Photo)


                                                            (Caribbean Cultural Chinese New Year Festival Photo)

Added by BettyS @ 5:00 AM

January 19, 2006

Snowballs @ Mirror Lake . . . or,
One of Those Afternoons You Never, Never . . . Ever Forget

It was the most important thing I’ve done in a long, long time.

Audrey arrived from Memphis. Next day Liz and John came from Altoona. Our guys at City Rent-A-Car picked out a minivan for us, as they have every other time I've ever been to the Sierra Nevada . . . and we were off for a short vacation.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you not to take chains. I’d done two previous wintry-month outings into the Yosemite West vacation property area without them.  No problem. 

oi00009888888  ( . . . That was Louie crossing the keyboard only to add his comments on the blog. Afterall, this is a family story.)

This time . . . however . . . we couldn’t get up the hill.  The Four Seasons Reservations office was actually quite near . . .  But! It was a cold, dark night when we arrived and spun around, got stuck, got frustrated, then freaked before tucking our minivan tail to head back down, down, down from 5,000 ft, eight miles down into the Valley floor 2,000 ft level. Ended up staying at the Yosemite Lodge

Had a great time anyway . . . but those moments spinning on the icy roadway up near the way out to Glacier Point were pretty hairy ones.

Next day we made our way back up to the Badger Pass ski area. No problem. Stopped at ‘the big view’ near the tunnel where anyone in her right Yosemite mind, including Ansel Adams, has gone to take those famous valley floor shots, framed by El Capitan on one side, Bridal Veil Falls on the other and Clouds Rest and Half Dome way off in the background. You do know the one.

Then went on a guided tour for several hours via bus with a seasoned Yosemite staffer.  No problem.

Evening brought an intense round of the Trivial Pursuit Baby Boomer Edition, won by Liz, youngest among us. Audrey and I were amazed to see ‘the kids’ knew more answers than did we, nerds though we may be.

Next day found us at lunch in the Ahwahnee's Dining Hall, with its floor-to-ceiling views of snowflakes slithering through the ever-so-tall evergreens. What followed was for me just 'the best.' A snowy march in hiking boots down the horse trail . . . one I know well . . . just back of that historic hotel to frozen Mirror Lake at the foot of Half Dome. Not a challenging route, really, but an exciting one as I’d never been hiking with ‘the kids’ before. The ‘Wows’ they presented along the way were so worth the trip.

Topping it off was a snowball fight . . . well, snowball competition is more accurate, since we weren’t throwing at each other. Goal was to see who could hit the designated point atop a very large rock at the frozen water’s edge.

Without doubt, this was the most important thing I’ve done in a long, long time. No kidding.  And, a snowy thing it was. We made our way on passed Mirror Lake, following the Merced River tributary around by Happy Isles and on to Camp Curry. A winter wonderland, as intermittant snow showers . . . some heavy, some not so . . . greeted us along the way. Loved it. Played in it. Danced around. A very, very important afternoon, indeed.

Lots more to do, like gift shop, say hello to Ansel's Gallery, watch "The Spirit of Yosemite" at the Visitors Center, watch the documenary "Yosemite Firefall," chat with a Miwok basketweaver at the Museum, buy more books than you really need, trot over to Yosemite Falls . . . careful not to slip on ice.  A lot of ice.

Have you been to Yosemite lately? Try the web cam views. Join your kids, your ex, your best friend, your daughter's other mommy, your whatever into the Yosemite Association, as I did, and make a plan to go . . . back, if you’ve been before. For your own ‘Wow” moments, if you never have.




                                                                                    (Photos by John Herren)

(Added by BettyS @ 8:30 PM)

January 11, 2006

Stand By Your Band!

On the day after I downloaded from iTunes their rendition of “Stand By Your Man,” comes this headline from Media Matters for America:

Stand by your band: O'Reilly falsely claimed Dixie Chicks "have not recovered" from controversial 2003 remarks

Never dreamed I would give the time of day to Bill O’Reilly.

Background & info on the controversy in 2003:

CBS News:  "Dixie Chicks Slammed for Bush Gibe" "Chicks defiant with interview, nude cover"

Entertainment Weekly All About - Dixie Chicks

Below is my letter sent to Bill O'Reilly today:

Dear Bill O'Reilly: 

I've listened respectively to you speaking your opinions, and as a First Amendment advocate, always supported your right to say what you believe. I've even maintained that yours, regardless of how I may have disagreed with you, was an important voice on the very large and diverse spectrum of American opinion.

When you speak out in error about the Dixie Chicks, however, you have gone too far.  I personally do not care what you say, however right or wrong it may be, about politicians and public officials. But what you have said this time is about me and how I spend my dime.

Thus, I find it necessary to request that you apologize to the young women who comprise this performing group and to the fans and followers who enjoy their music, support their products and encourage them to speak their minds.

The Dixie Chicks' careers are thriving, in fact, and they have been, as a group and as individuals, talking about Natalie Maines’ comment on George Bush at a London concert in 2003 almost since the day it happened. To say otherwise is just plain wrong.

Further, I ask that you please inform your colleagues that, contrary to the recent comment made on your show, the other two members of the band, Emily Maguire and Martie Robinson, were never "mad" at Natalie and in actuality, they supported her from the outset.

Again, you are simply wrong and uninformed about the Dixie Chicks' commercial and artistic success, and in view of their youth and vitality, I suspect you are going to have the opportunity to follow their artistry, their humanitarianism and their careers for many years to come.


Dr. Betty L. Sullivan
Founder & President
Betty's List / Sullivan Communications, Inc
San Francisco


                                                                                        (Image: Multiple Sources)

Posted by BettyS @ 9:30 PM


January 7, 2006

Stumbled, Fell . . . Landed On the Hubble Space Telescope

What’s January? What’s January kind-of-thinking? Resolutions? Making plans and setting goals? Mission statements, taking stock and . . . and hopes and dreams and aspirations?

January’s out-with-old and in-with-new. Survived the holidays. Snow angels and paper snowflakes scotch-taped on frosty schoolhouse windowpanes or old houses where poor families live and hope. Ice storms, scraping windshields and slippery pavement . . .

. . .  Capricorn, Aquarius, garnets, snowdrops, carnations, tax time again . . . sales, the winter semester, football ends, basketball, Namibia summertime.  January means Golden Globes, Oscars to come and MacWorld.

@ My-very-good-therapist asked me the other day about thinking forward and thinking backward and could I think some beyond today?

The past informs, I said. The future, unknown. We’re along for the ride on an uncertain sea . . . moving through our own private Idaho tunnel to the other side.

My-very-good-therapist suggested, spend some time looking out there . . . forward in time, she said, where you've not been or even looked before.

@ Crawled out of bed and found my seat, peered into the web screen not knowing where or how or if a search might go on for hours. Landed on the Hubble Telescope site and stumbled into the heavens . . . to see and consider entire worlds and worlds of worlds not seen before. Fell quickly into considering the awe, the art, the majesty and grandeur. Humbled and inspired and renewed, a primitive spirit of adventure stirs.

Go there, hear podcasts, see the movies, videos, look at images and let your very own private jaw drop, peering into a flat screen in front of your face, out into a vast vastness beyond unknown.

Are we going, then? You and I? Am I, with you, riding a planet circled by a tiny machine called Hubble, no more than an aide to our sadly limited human sight? Dare to! Go there and realize, experience our infinitesimal smallness and inconsequence.


                                                                    (NASA Photos - Hubble Telescope Web Site)

Posted by BettyS @ 8:30 PM

January 4, 2006

In & Out  . . . side the Beltway . . . And Now-w-w-w-w, Here's Jack!

Several months ago, we met Scooter. Before that, Harriet. Today, there's Jack.

@ In: Once again, the news, much as I love it, is sick entertainment. Trying to forget that tearjerker, the too-sad-tale of un-miracles in a West Virginia coal mine, time to do a web search and find out what the fuss is all about Jack . . .

@ Out: But first . . . on all three TVs, the principals were doing what everybody does one time or another: blaming each other, the corporation and the media. How 'bout their own botched communications? Really? . . . for sending the wrong signal over to that little Baptist Church, the hold up spot for families missing 13 miners. Horrible story for messengers . . . for everyone . . .  in a senario that just that won’t hold up to sarcasm.

@ In: Among the descriptors for him from a baker’s dozen sites are those one wouldn’t think of ascribing to a nice boy from LA: beltway bandit, mobster, casino king, uber-lobbyist, the-man-who- bought-off-Washington . . . more.  But then, he’s not your typical nice boy, is he?

But, with more time, I could entertain myself reading an abundance of blue sites spouting liberal rhetoric that goes way over my head . . .  and I am one. Join the Libertarians? Never. Well, maybe.

Here's the . . .


More Madcow

Contrarian Review

Weekly Standard

Yeah, there are a hellofalot more. Then, I recall the SF cabbie spouting red state rhetoric, way over my head.

The fun never stops in that big southern town built on the Potomac swamp. No need to wonder why to stay in California. Did you hear the one about the former mayor, Marion Berry, getting robbed by his delivery boy?

The day a cop ran, piece pulled, 'round the side of my Dupont Circle 17th Street building . . .  was time to head west. Guns here too, you say, and criminals come in all shirt colors?

Well, what about Jack? He’s on stage, the show begins . . .

Our nation's capitol . . . our Internet too . . . is a scary, marvelous place.


                                                                                                (Photos: Multiple sources)

Posted by BettyS @ 11:45 PM

January 1, 2006 – New Year’s Day

Web Cams, Blow Holes & Other Important Information

Today’s a good day to take a look at that news release web master John alerted me to during the height of holiday festivities  . . . The release announces their picks for the 2005 edition (the 7th annual) of "25 Most Interesting Webcams” of the year.

The 2005 ones comprise a diverse but uneven collection, some of them fun and inspired, some déjà vu, some of them, ya jus gotta ask: "Why?"

On my screen, Graceland Cam raises a smile and reminds me of a party I hosted there back in 1994. The British Antarctic Vessel Cam speaks to the ice adventure girl in me. Pyramid Cam evokes my true tourist self.

The Tahiti Nui Travel Webcam certainly made me salivate for another trip to those awesome French Polynesian Islands. My newspaper industry business partner, Dr. Sherrye D. Garrett, and I had a great time as guests of the Tahiti Office of Tourism and Radisson Seven Seas’ Paul Gauguin. I’d go again in a minute.

Among them all, I’ll pick Live Piranha Web Cam, not because of the Piranha Cam which never opened at all, but for the “way cool” strategy behind it. From a promotion / marketing perspective, this little cam is not doubt bringing a lot of attention to Piranha Pictures, that “small but mighty”   ad agency based in Nashville. Go there, you’ll see a link to their Emmy-winning PSA “Booze It Enforcement: Kick a Bear.” Worth the trip. Fascinating strategy, I think.

@ If you missed the coverage of Times Square’s New Year’s Eve Party last night, you can take a look at the archived Times Square cam views and just about be there all over again. I'm glad Dick Clark was there as anchor of ABC's coverage.

@ Two memorable moments from New Year’s Day a year ago: (1) Visiting the Blow Hole near Po'ipu on Kauai; and (2) Touring around singing my favorite track on SFGMC’s outstanding “Oh, Happy Day” CD entitled “We’re Not Lost, We’re Here.” Sums it all up for me. Big cosmology.

Kauai's Blow Hole, or "Spouting Horn," is a natural wonder that blows spray when waves push water rushing under a lava shelf bursting through a small opening at the surface . . . some 50 feet into the air! At sunset, the spray becomes an incandescent rainbow.

Legend says the coastline there is guarded by a large lizard (mo’o) who ate anyone coming to fish or swim. A man named Liko entered the water one day, and when the lizard went after him, he swam under the lava shelf and escaped through a lava hole. When the mo’o followed him, it became stuck. The groaning sound when the spray flies through the hole at Spouting Horn is the lizard’s cry of hunger and pain, still trapped under the rocks never to escape. One report says there are really two holes at the Blow Hole, one for water and the other for sound . . .

Another story says that Kukiula Seaplume was the name of an even larger blowhole, once found near the Spouting Horn, sending water 200 feet into the air with each wave. The larger one was destroyed in the 1920s when the salt spray damaged the sugar cane growing in a nearby field.

So much for blow holes . . . especially in my neighborhood . . .  Yeah, that was a way-too-cute thing to say . . .

                                                                                                 (Antique Postcard)

Posted by BettyS @ 7:30 PM

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