Mary Willis Cantrell – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:58:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png Mary Willis Cantrell – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 The Turtle Speaks http://likethedew.com/2016/04/19/the-turtle-speaks/ http://likethedew.com/2016/04/19/the-turtle-speaks/#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2016 11:52:59 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=63857 Daily green dots appear in the withered brown grass... “How about getting me a pencil, please? Better not start with a pen. And will you fix me a cup of Earl Gray, with some of those little sesame cookies?” Bulbs planted confidently months earlier explode in bright colors. “Where’s that list of interest payments I told you to get? Gosh! We paid that much in interest? Thank God it’s deductible!”]]>

turtle accountant

Daily green dots appear in the withered brown grass…

“How about getting me a pencil, please? Better not start with a pen. And will you fix me a cup of Earl Gray, with some of those little sesame cookies?”

Bulbs planted confidently months earlier explode in bright colors.

“Where’s that list of interest payments I told you to get? Gosh! We paid that much in interest? Thank God it’s deductible!”

Kites flutter in the wind, some on mile-long strings while others have already met their final destinations,  wrapped around telephone lines.

“Look, can you send the kids to your mother’s house or somewhere? I swear, I’m going straight up a pole if they don’t shut up!”

In cemeteries there is a buzz of activity as pots of lilies and azaleas are placed on graves while work crews weed and rake, cleaning out the winter debris.

“My God, it costs too much to even live these days! Let’s have spaghetti for supper… but get hamburger meat. Ground round costs too much. And grab a bottle of wine. Two bottles, maybe, the cheaper stuff.”

Winter has vanished with its colds and runny noses, while soft balmy breezes bring the fragrance of spring flowers.

“Hell, yeah, I’m going to claim any medical expense I find even if it is only $18.42. As much as we paid that quack? And I’d bet you a pretty blanking penny that aspirin would have worked just as well as those fancy-schmancy pills. He’s probably a major stock-holder, that’s why he likes writing those blanking prescriptions!”

On the front lawn, a robin stretches a worm to the breaking point…

“Every damned year! There’s no #$#%-blanking sense in this. Next year, we’re going to get this all done by February 15th and I mean it. Boy, when I think of those blanking-#$#% senators with their earmarks and Wall Street fat cats and that lame-brained bridge to nowhere and here I struggle to make ends meet with gas looking at $4 a gallon by summer but somehow I’ve got to pay even more taxes… well, let me tell you something, boy, next year, #$#%  #$#% #$#% #$#% blanking blanking…”

 

“The time of the singing of birds has come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land.”
(Song of Solomon 2:12)

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On a Dewy Early Morning http://likethedew.com/2012/06/10/on-a-dewy-early-morning/ http://likethedew.com/2012/06/10/on-a-dewy-early-morning/#comments Sun, 10 Jun 2012 11:10:57 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=39890 Morning has always come much too early to my way of thinking. That too-early morning, there was only the grey dawn light outside, even dimmer in the kitchen; I didn’t want to damage my eyelids by turning on a light. Besides, after years of training I functioned pretty well in half-light.

Got the coffee pot going, and headed back toward the bathroom to wake myself up with a shower. By then, the eyes were working a little better, and

GREAT GOSH ALMIGHTY I STEPPED RIGHT OVER A SNAKE!!!!

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Bare Foot steppingMorning has always come much too early to my way of thinking. That too-early morning, there was only the grey dawn light outside, even dimmer in the kitchen; I didn’t want to damage my eyelids by turning on a light. Besides, after years of training I functioned pretty well in half-light.

Got the coffee pot going, and headed back toward the bathroom to wake myself up with a shower. By then, the eyes were working a little better, and

GREAT GOSH ALMIGHTY I STEPPED RIGHT OVER A SNAKE!!!!

There he lay, right there on the kitchen tile, color-matched perfectly, hiding in plain sight. Worse, I was barefoot, which somehow heightened my vulnerability… one quick swipe upward and that snake could tear right into my foot, not even bedroom slipper for protection.

Although to be honest, those fangs looked capable of piercing whatever that snake wanted to pierce.

I backed slowly to the kitchen phone, never taking my eyes off him. He never took his eyes off me, either. In fact, he didn’t move a hair.

This was one cool snake.

I dialed my son’s number. Thank God, he answered on the first ring!

“Jay, there’s a snake in my kitchen.”

“Where?”

“On the floor.”

“What’s he doing?”

“Nothing.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing. He’s not doing anything.”

“Uh… how big is he?”

“I don’t know.”

“How long do you think he is?”

“You know I’m no good at guessing something like that.”

“Just try to do it, Mama, make a guess. Now, how long do you guess he is?”

“I can’t see but half of him.”

“Okaaaayyy… then, how long is that half?”

“About 10 inches long. I suppose. I do not plan to get down there to measure him.”

“Where’s his other part? Is he under something?”

“It’s gone.”

“Gone where?”

“I don’t know. It’s just – gone.”

“Well, then — which part is gone?”

“His tail part.”

“So the head part is still there?”

“Yes.”

“Then can you tell me what happened to his tail part?”

“I guess a cat bit it off.”

“Mama, I really want to know — is this snake still alive?”

“I don’t know.”

“Look at him. Is he breathing?”

“I AM NOT GETTING CLOSE ENOUGH TO THAT SNAKE TO LOOK HIM IN THE FACE!”

“Okay. Exactly what do you want me to do about it?”

“Come get him.”

“Mama, I live 35 miles from you and it’s not even 6:30. I am not coming.”

I swallowed hard, trying to subdue rising hysteria, noticing that my voice was getting a bit shrill. About 48 more seconds of this and I‘d lose control. Irritatingly, the snake didn’t appear to feel threatened, not even a little bit. He had far better control than I did.

“Mama, please, just pick him up and flush him down the commode. Okay?”

“NO!”

“Why not?”

“Because he’ll get down there with others of his kind and reproduce!”

“He’s dead: he can’t reproduce.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Well, okay, Mama… has he moved even an inch since we’ve been talking?”

“No.”

“Then he is dead. Honestly. Believe me, with all the screaming you’ve been doing, he’d be scared to death if he wasn’t already dead.”

“Jay, are you coming or not?”

“No, I am not coming. You are going to have to take care of this yourself. Here’s what I want you to do… pick him up and take him outside. Then, throw him into the woods.”

“You expect me to pick up a snake with my bare hands?”

Jay was quiet for a minute or so, enough that I worried that he’d gone back to sleep. Finally, he answered.

“Just get a paper towel, okay? I know they are right there near the phone so don’t claim you can’t get to them. So, right now I want you to get a paper towel, then pick him up and take him outside.”

“If I do, will you stay on the phone?”

“What good would that do?”

“In case he bites me. You need to hear it if he bites me. So you can call 911.”

There was a big sigh on the other end of the phone. Jay obviously doesn’t wake up ready to greet the day any more than I do.

“Okay. Take the phone outside with you, but I still want you to do exactly what I told you to do.”

I picked up the snake very gingerly, and he didn’t move at all. He may even have been a wee bit stiff, but I knew that could be a ruse. I grew up knowing to never trust a snake. Particularly one handing you an apple, although this one had not offered anything. But you never knew.

I took him across the driveway, next to the woods, and flung him hard as I could. He hit a tree trunk, bounced off, flew back down… and landed right at my feet, my bare feet. On top of my foot, in fact!

I screamed. Loud.

“Mama! What happened? Are you okay? Did he bite you?”

I described how he bounced and then flew. Once again Jay sighed, hugely, and said, “Mama, please throw him again, just not as hard. Please?”

So I did just what my son said… and watched as that stupid damned snake just draped himself on a limb, perfectly balanced, out of reach for anyone who might have offered to climb up there and remove him. However, my son certainly didn’t offer to come do it.

Snake hung there in the hot sun for several days, demonstrating by smell that yeah, he definitely was dead.

Well, at least the front half of him was dead. I can’t vouch for the back half.

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Your Tax Dollars At Work… http://likethedew.com/2010/10/14/your-tax-dollars-at-work/ http://likethedew.com/2010/10/14/your-tax-dollars-at-work/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 03:20:35 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=11386 “All politics is local,” said Tip O’Neill years ago, a concept that can be paraphrased over and over. For example, Economy. Education. Religion. War. Crime. And Hunger. Particularly Hunger.

Lots of political leaders have been screaming about last year’s stimulus package, claiming it accomplished nothing except more debt; helped nobody. My son is manager of a food pantry in Austell, right in the center of last year’s devastating floods, but what I’m writing is about hunger, the hunger that impacts millions of families in this richest country in the world.

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“All politics is local,” said Tip O’Neill years ago, a concept that can be paraphrased over and over. For example, Economy. Education. Religion. War. Crime. And Hunger. Particularly Hunger.

Lots of political leaders have been screaming about last year’s stimulus package, claiming it accomplished nothing except more debt; helped nobody. My son is manager of a food pantry in Austell, right in the center of last year’s devastating floods, but what I’m writing is about hunger, the hunger that impacts millions of families in this richest country in the world.

The hunger faced by millions of citizens who have never asked for assistance before, who lost jobs through no fault of their own, and find themselves living on the edge.

People who live just down the road, or across the street, or in our own neighborhoods. And many of them were helped directly by the stimulus program, in thousands of communities across this nation.

Austell’s Christian Action Mission Program (C.A.M.P.) has held four mass food distributions in the last year, handing out FDA food to anyone who stated that yes, they need help feeding their families. It was first come first serve, with cars lined up hours ahead of time.

This describes the first distribution in October 2009:

  • The numbers tell the story only in the lines; it’s between the lines where we find context.
  • Six hundred families in only three hours, and 55 pounds of food for each family, food they hadn’t anticipated.
  • Seventy volunteers when only 35 had signed up, when only 35 were expected.
  • Fifty chicken biscuits to feed the volunteers breakfast, and then 50 chicken sandwiches at noon, donated by a local restaurant happy to be a part of the effort, to do whatever they could.
  • A total of 30,000 lbs. of food – your tax dollars at work.
  • Sadly, there were more cars than boxes of food. Some had to be turned away.
  • And for context: five men pushing an out-of-gas car, a clunker not traded in… because not to push that car all the way through the distribution center would have meant no food; breadwinners going home with empty hands.

After four distributions, the program is halted for the time being – no more funds for the moment. In all, C.A.M.P. distributed 191,400 pounds of food to 2,700 families.

I’m guessing that means something like 12,000 to 14,000 people going to bed without stomachs growling.

Not everybody who goes to bed hungry is trying to lose weight.

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Do Lord, Oh Do Lord http://likethedew.com/2010/09/27/do-lord-oh-do-lord/ http://likethedew.com/2010/09/27/do-lord-oh-do-lord/#comments Tue, 28 Sep 2010 01:29:11 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=11157 Woodlawn Presbyterian Church is between air conditioners, but it wasn’t in our long-term plans. Several weeks ago a gang of miscreants apparently recognized that we struggle each month to pay our Georgia Power bill, so decided to help us. They wanted to show us that something we thought was essential, isn't, and thereby start us on the path to lower expenses. They either stole or destroyed most of the A/C units ...

Dealing with insurance and police reports is a time-consuming matter, particularly when a committee is handling our end of the transactions. As a church, we must do all things properly and be dignified. Even while dripping sweat.

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Woodlawn Presbyterian Church is between air conditioners, but it wasn’t in our long-term plans. Several weeks ago a gang of miscreants apparently recognized that we struggle each month to pay our Georgia Power bill, so decided to help us. They wanted to show us that something we thought was essential, isn’t, and thereby start us on the path to lower expenses. They either stole or destroyed most of the A/C units. Argue with their methods if you will, but they certainly made an impact.

Dealing with insurance and police reports is a time-consuming matter, particularly when a committee is handling our end of the transactions. As a church, we must do all things properly and be dignified. Even while dripping sweat.

Unfortunately, it isn’t like we can fall back on Budget Rent-an-A/C.

For the past month, our small group of congregants has gathered in the church parlor where there is a ceiling fan, one ancient box fan, and an equally ancient window air conditioner that is louder than any of us can speak. Most Sundays, somebody will mention the unexpected blessing of a congregation that has steadily shrunk so much that the parlor is plenty large enough for worship service.

Gradually we’ve dragged enough trappings into the parlor to make it feel like home. There is a banner and the Christ Candle.. its flame is small and doesn’t raise the room’s temperature noticeably. An electronic keyboard and a vase of flowers. To the joy of some of us, there is access to Sunday School’s coffee pot. The pastor has learned that he can preach without wearing a heavy black robe with colorful embroidered stole, the outfit that our children always call his “dress.”

And many of us have commented that this is actually enjoyable… our few voices don’t get lost when we sing. It’s easier to Pass the Peace and get to everybody with a heart-felt “May the peace of Christ be with you!” We’re closer in all ways. Aroma included.

Today, however, was a day we’d dreaded to an extent. Our congregation has welcomed new members from Ghana over the past several years, immigrants who bring their own joy and flavor to our small worship community. A few years ago, several Ghanaian members asked for worship services in their native language and in their worship style. Most weekends they use the fellowship hall where they preach, pray and sing in Twi, while we meet in the sanctuary. Or the parlor lately. Today there would be a large crowd because we were to have a joint service that included baptizing a baby.

The Ghanaian are such a joyous people… they don’t know how to force one of our tight little stingy smiles. Instead, their entire faces light up: eyes crinkle and teeth appear, and before you know it’s coming, you’ve been grabbed in a bear-hug.

And sing… my lord, but they can sing! I’m self-conscious around song-books, try hard not to sing loud enough to discourage other worshippers or offend God. But when our Ghanaian members are singing amongst us, I bellow it out, letting the notes fall where they may, and even attempt to sway in rhythm.

So, what would be so bad about today? That blasted A/C, or lack of it. There would be a sanctuary full of warm bodies literally… the Ghanaian members are by far the largest portion of our congregation. And while we American Presbyterians may be the Frozen Chosen, I promise you that we can sweat with the best of them. Yep, it was going to be a miserable time.

That is what we expected, anyway. But this is what happened: Rain came in torrents! With doors open on both sides of the sanctuary, it was easy to see, hear, smell it. From my seat, I could hear small children playing outside under the breezeway… Ghanaian children start that joy thing young.

So the day was cooler. We didn’t have A/C, but it was okay. Actually it wasn’t nearly as hot as I remember from growing up in deep South Georgia. Our country church wasn’t air conditioned at all, so when the preacher thundered about Hell, we knew exactly what he meant.

In fact, South Georgia’s Hell included gnats, while in Cobb County we’re well north of the Gnat Line. God is great, God is good!

Today, our pastor learned that he can preach without even wearing a suit jacket – a white cotton shirt will do fine. Apparently he’s still young enough that he can learn to relax even in the pulpit.

Baby Renaye is beautiful, and never whimpered even once during her baptism. She seemed to enjoy being the center of attention, and watched the pastor intently, drinking in every word. She didn’t even sleep during the sermon like some of us do on occasion. Let me tell you: if you ever have a chance to attend a Ghanaian naming ceremony, do so.

And the singing today was the best I’ve ever heard. The Ghanaian choir sang something unbelievably beautiful in Twi, and for maybe the 500th time I wished they would have a singing school to teach me to sing the way they do.

And one last song/blessing: “Do, Lord, Oh Do Lord” a song that cannot be sung sitting down. If you’re seated, you’d better be in a school bus going somewhere — which we weren’t. So we called a halt, everybody stood up, and we started again, singing as loud as we could, complete with hallelujahs here and there, some swaying and finger-snapping, and lots of grins.

And we didn’t even run up the electric bill with A/C. The blessings just keep on coming!

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Good Night, Sweet Dreams http://likethedew.com/2010/09/21/good-night-sweet-dreams/ http://likethedew.com/2010/09/21/good-night-sweet-dreams/#comments Wed, 22 Sep 2010 02:27:37 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=11097 It’s that time of the evening…

Bedtime (BT) minus 15: I’m freshly showered, shampooed and girly-shaved. My hair has been brushed 100 strokes and my face carefully cleansed with Pond’s Cold Cream ($6.98). Additionally, I’ve applied Cream of Cucumber-Kiwi-Oatmeal-and-Vitamin E ($89.95 which my favorite starlet hawks on late-night television, and her skin looks like a baby’s butt).

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It’s that time of the evening…

Bedtime (BT) minus 15: I’m freshly showered, shampooed and girly-shaved. My hair has been brushed 100 strokes and my face carefully cleansed with Pond’s Cold Cream ($6.98). Additionally, I’ve applied Cream of Cucumber-Kiwi-Oatmeal-and-Vitamin E ($89.95 which my favorite starlet hawks on late-night television, and her skin looks like a baby’s butt).

Sliding the creamery butter-yellow microfiber You Snooze, You Lose! chin cradle ($38.64 online) into place, and securing the button on top, I reflect that finally, after a month, my under-chin does feel a bit more taut. I think.

Now it’s time to pop in my Like-Life-Nighty-Nite Mouth Guard ($39), which the oral surgeon promised will prevent grinding my teeth during the night. He would have made the device for cost several hundred dollars, but I opted instead for a drugstore version… a life-like material that I first dipped in boiling water. After it was safely cooled but still pliable, I gingerly molded it in my own throat, struggling to not gag. The pleasant lady at the corner market recommended this product; said it completely stopped her husband’s grinding, enabling her to sleep well.

I pray that I don’t somehow swallow it during the night. The package promised that the chocolate-amaretto fragrance would mask the rubbery taste. It doesn’t. Nor does the rubbery compound feel even slightly like any human flesh I have ever touched.

BT minus 13: Having been rudely informed, once, that I snore like a lumberjack, I insert a soft little Nostril Gateway ($39/pair), into each nostril, and for extra security, place a small butterfly-shaped tape ($9) across the bridge of my nose, to ensure that the nasal airways remain open. Late-night television commercials assure me that these cute little bandages will subdue night-time rumbling.

BT minus 10: However, to be absolutely confident that I won’t offend should there be an opportunity for overnight hosting, I also use the Snore-No-More Mouth Device ($189) which holds  the throat open. In fact, there was one version called the Deep Throat Mouth Device, a naughty hot pink. Too much, I thought.

The salesman assured me I would soon be accustomed to the device, and in fact, eventually I would be lonely and bereft without it. That time hasn’t come yet.

BT minus 9: I slip the Seafoam Green satin pillow case ($19) over a standard white Fine Egyptian  Cotton case ($34.99 for a pair) so that early morning does not find me having a Bad Hair Day.

BT minus 8: I also carefully insert the tiny cushiony Quiet-Time Earbudslugs so as to block the frequent sirens outside which might intrude into my dreams, evoking scenes from the movie “The Towering Inferno.”

BT minus 7: Time to set up the A Long Night’s Safe Sleep CPAP machine ($1,289), after rinsing the reservoir and refilling it with sterile water ($11). Then I set it aside for a minute because next I must carefully fit the Sweet Slumbering Sleep Mask ($49) over my eyes, being careful not to let its elastic strap get caught up in my curls. This will shield my eyes from bright lights outside. The sleep mask also contains a soothing gel to prevent tiny worry lines, permitting me to go forth tomorrow morning armed with confidence.

With the Sleep Mask firmly in place, it’s time to set the CPAP harness over my head taking care that it doesn’t get tangled with the sleep mask strap, nor the chin cradle. This is easily the most delicate part of my bedtime ritual because it would be difficult even without my eyes being covered.

I am determined, and persistent.

After gently laying my head on the molded Always Perfect for YOUR Head foam pillow ($32.99) at the elevated head of the bed (four library books, two under each leg), the CPAP machine is switched on.

Serenely I count cadence as it steadily ramps up to a count of 14, my personal sleep setting, feeling myself slumping gently into drowsiness.

BT zero:  Oh, crap! Hell and damnation! I forgot to call the concierge to order my wake-up call!

BT plus 1 and counting…

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