More Maya Angelou, on Men

Very_angry_marge_simpsonShe also had this to say, Ms. Maya Angelou, when that same interviewer from TIME magazine asked “Did you inherit your mother’s fondness for guns?”

“I like to have guns around. I don’t like to carry them,” said Maya.

“Have you ever fired a weapon?” asked the person from TIME.

“I was in my house in North Carolina. It was fall. I heard someone walking on the leaves. And somebody actually turned the knob. So I said ‘Stand four feet back because I’m going to shoot now! Boom! Boom! The police came by and said ‘Ms. Angelou, the shots came from inside the house.’ I said ‘Well, I don’t know how that happened.’

Well now we know that It’s wrong to feed falsehoods to  cops – of course! –  but  the way I look at it, those two cops were probably guys and it’s really is never a mistake to  keep a pretty tight hold on how you communicate  things to a guy. “You want to control the information when it comes to your man,” said  my very own mother-in-law regarding my relations with her own darling boy.  “Timing is everything,” she added, nodding her head in emphasis.

I believed her. Hadn’t she just recently told me about the time when, driving home from HER mother-in-law’s house carrying on her lap the  extra platter of the eggplant parmesan that she’d made for the family, her own young husband patted her knee and said while it had tasted perfectly fine, really it just wasn’t QUITE as good as the way his mother made it? And hadn’t she in response and on the spot opened the car window and tipped the whole drooly platter out into the street?

Yes she had, indeed she had.

I love stories like these two, told by Ruth Payne Marotta and the wonderful Marguerite Johnson AKA our Miz Maya Angelou. They inspire me and make me want to also say to any men who mess with me: Stand back four feet now.


And get ready for what’s comin’ at you now – and you’d best HOPE it’s just a platter of eggplant. 🙂

maya angelou

images“You endured some really horrible things, mostly at the hands of men,” somebody at AARP ‘s Monthly magazine said to Maya Angelou in a 10 question Q & A  last spring. “Have gender relations improved?

Here’s how she  responded:

“No, I think men are as crazy as they were and women are as crazy as they were.”I think it’s wise when women say what they like and don’t like and will and won’t take. Men ought to do the same. I’ve never had a dislike for men. I’ve been badly treated by some but I’ve been loved greatly by some. I married quite a lot of them.”

As I say, gotta love her!

What Must He Think?

God MakesThe SnakeI know God is really busy but what must he think looking down on us all?

In the heart of the big city nearest me there’s a bagel shop whose high stools are mounted on a raised platform next to its windows, on the other side of which early in the morning, uncountable numbers of people pass, all either heads down or peering at their cell phones.

They’re hurrying to work mostly. Anyway the expressions on their faces make it seem as if that’s where they’re going. They never look up at the buildings they pass. They never look up at the sky over their heads. Certainly they never look at one another. I can sit with my coffee and a bagel for a whole hour and never tire of looking at them.

“Humans!” He must think. “These busy humans rushing about! They look so earnest!”

Well, humans ARE earnest. It kills me to see how earnest.But if it’s true that we are earnest, we can also be frisky at times:

Take the guy who pulled up beside me in the parking lot of the medical center where I went for blood work last week. He turned off the car and before getting out lifted a hip flask to his lips and took a long pull. This was at six o’clock in the morning. “Hope he’s not one of the doctors!” was all I could think.

Or take the two people who parked on either side of me at the little pond I love to visit. The woman climbed out of her own car and into the man’s. The intensity with which they then kissed – for a good four or five minutes – might have told the story by itself but seeing how their shoulders then began to slump and their conversation to flag anyone could tell that these were stolen moments.

“Give it up!” I wanted to call over to them. “This won’t make you happy!” But they would have thought I was crazy. And anyway how did I know what I was looking at, really?

You can look and look and still not know what you are seeing. Why? Because people are mysteries, sometimes even to themselves.

A blogger I admire wrote me last week to say he was glad to see I had ‘broken out of the darkness that pervaded some of [my] pieces for a while and was back to [my] usual sunshine and brightness.” Dim-visioned human that I am, I didn’t know I had been writing out of a place of darkness.

But then we are often the last ones to know how we ourselves feel.

We rely on those loving others, who are watching not the sky, or the buildings, or the people in neighboring cars but us.

They are watching us. And thank God for such people in our lives.


One last backgrounder

100_2037Here’s one last person stuck in the background, to round out my week’s reportage.

It’s this guy captured in a picture by a kindergartner with an i-phone.

The child and I had just been to the dump where he scored this very attractive gold plastic moon and stars on the Swap Table. We left in exchange a set of porch-sofa cushions and a lamp, both so attractive to our fellow dump visitors that we didn’t even get to set them down; out they went to their cars to everyone’s great satisfaction.

But back to this guy: This guy is the family member who normally shuns photo sessions, the guy who, for work, fights fires and practices first response medicine and for fun executes a zillion upside-down pushups while standing on his hands.

And also reads. When he’s not explaining to two little boys how Wall Street works and why the sky is blue he is reading reading reading. He’s a little like Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities knitting everything up between her needles.  One day when all the libraries have been turned into drive-throughs and the Internet pops and goes dark John will recreate civilization anew by explaining everything to everyone all over again.

Right now he’s really in the background: he left Sunday at noontime to hike alone in the mountains.

Carrying all his food and water, natch.

And his tent.

And perhaps some BandAids I don’t know.

He advised us that we wouldn’t hear from him until we saw him.

He’s due to reappear tomorrow before dark.

I sure hope he does. We have more questions about the sky. And what if we get another splinter?

easy hair john and david

you can get a splinter

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Nobody Puts Baby in A Corner

Nobody Puts Baby in A Corner: Yup you got it: that’s the funniest line in all of Dirty Dancing and  it’s also what I have done twice this week: I put a number of key people in a corner by not showing them in this cavalcade of pictures, and they’re people that NO ONE should put in a corner.

Who are they? The moms of all these babies and kids you have seen.

First comes Curlyhead’s momma, Dodson’s wife Veronica. I know huh? Two pictures of Dodson with their baby and none of her. What’s THAT?  So here’s Veronica now:

joanie w dodpn veronica

Next we have mother Number One of our three grandchildren, Chris , recognizable by her baseball cap and the fact that you can’t get her to stand still long enough to pose. Here she is treating little David’s foot.


Third we have Carrie, Mother Number Two of those same three grandkids (Figure it out people.)

carrie & her FIRST baby

And finally Suzanne the mom of one of the little baldies, who can repeat anything anyone says with perfect enunciation in this hilariously tiny high voice.


So there they are, the four moms workin’ quietly behind the scenes.

Now as a reward for wading through these family photos, the big last scene from Dirty Dancing,  right after Patrick Swayze weighs in about where “baby” really should be: on the stage (where else?)

The Gold is in the Background

IMG_1973I love the things you see in candid pictures. That’s why I don’t mind it when kids get behind the camera. The shots are more spontaneous; you can tell no one has tried to get the Pepsi cans out of the way first.

This is a nice candid one on the left here that tells the rest of the story about that bad set of splinters our six-year-old got from a splintery old dock. Here you see him just after he’d been taped and bagged and bound and sealed before trying for a quick dip, all because the doctor who did the surgery had said no swimming for three days – but it was 95 degrees and so muggy the clams were steaming themselves. (He lasted maybe ten minutes before the foot was thoroughly soaked by lake water that one adult there present described as ‘a bath of pathogens.’ He had a fresh soak then in hot saline solution poor kid and no more swimming after that.)

Then consider this photo from my post on Monday:


It was taken by Splinter Child, and shows his older brother getting hugged by his grandfather while at the same time in the background showing our honorary son Dodson carrying down the first three or four items of the hundred  or so such items all new parents seem to haul around whenever they travel with their baby. When I put this up yesterday and placed the link to the story on Facebook I heard from the famous Emily McDowell, who I first met as a three-year-old in 1979. “Do I spy my print on the wall of the NH house?” she wrote last night.

She sure did spy her own print, one of many such prints that you can see on her Etsy page here. Take a look at these two ‘details’  of it. I bought the print for $35 a year ago, had it framed it for of maybe another 60 bucks and wouldn’t part with it now for anything.

emily mcdowell's the landscape of growing up p1




emily mcdowell's the landscape of growing up

Remember your own crazy adolescence and all the mistakes you made? Talk about gold in the background! I especially like  The Vast Forest of I Can’t Believe We’re Not Dead. Take a more extended look at all Em’s stuff here.

We Were All Together

We were all together over the Fourth and the little kids took pictures.

always there is dressing and undressing
always there is dressing and undressing

These are some of them, showing how the babies schmoozed and the grownups talked and Bambi drank from a cup, smart little Bambi!




We held all the babies

photo (1)

and played all the fun games like Pictionary – ’til 2 in the morning some of us.

 Our son came back just for the weekend and that was so nice, seeing him and Marie too. It pierced all our hearts to have him leave again for the distant south.


We ate Annie’s famous fried chicken AND her special tacos AND we made our own pizza with Annie’s homemade dough. We had her brownies too!

This child, our rising Fourth Grader, just chilled on the deck with a borrowed i-pad. Something about his pose kind of says it all. It’s really summer now!