Psychic Blogging Continues!

I’ve got a busy week coming up some I was working yesterday on three things to put in the hopper over at Pith–a short thing on the other half of the Sara Evans restraining order, my park review, which includes a discussion of the Sureños graffiti in the park (in ways I don’t really understand, not being a gang member myself, the Sureños are affiliated with the Mexican Mafia. “Sur” is short for “Sureños” and the 13th letter of the alphabet is M, in acknowledgment of their ties to the Mexican Mafia.), and a post about historical newspaper men, one of whom, John Payne, ended up being instrumental in assuring the rise of organized crime in Chicago, through his system of taking bets on races throughout the country for races happening anywhere he could set up two guys–one with a mirror to flash in code the results of the race and the other to interpret the code and hit the telegraph wires with the result.

Here in Nashville, after Payne had moved from reputable newspaper man to old, old, old school gangster outside of Cincinnati, some of his men were arrested for illegal gambling. They tried to argue that the betting was actually taking place in Kentucky, where the horses were being run and the odds being set and the bets being okayed, even though they were securing the bets here at the Climax (ha!), since they were using the telegraph to basically participate in something happening in Kentucky, where such gambling was legal. The courts didn’t buy it, but I mention it because I think it’s relevant to what I want to talk about.

That happened in 1893. A few years later, when a Chicago gangster tried to move away from using the Payne system, over a dozen of his homes and businesses were bombed. I don’t know how much Payne was involved in that–there doesn’t appear to have been a whole lot written about him. But the bombers and the gangsters (and Payne himself) were making a great deal of money off of his set-up and all appeared to have been associates of each other.

So, there’s this story in the Tennessean today about gangs and how they’re such a huge problem and they’re leaking into the suburbs.  And how back in the old days, gangs weren’t so  bad, but now? Oh, holy shit, we must all fall over from shock about how bad they are.

And I just want to say a few things.  We have always had violent gangs in Tennessee. I don’t mean to downplay the trouble we are having; it is substantial, but when the James gang got here, they had many Nashvillians willing to open their homes to them to provide them with food, shelter, comfort, jobs, and cover stories. That was in the 1880s. Payne had his criminal enterprise that reached back to his home town stretching the turn of the century. We had any number of illegal liquor and gambling clubs that ran throughout the city for much of the 20th century.

And when I moved here ten years ago? Even then people were talking about the gang problems in Smyrna and Murfreesboro. Even then people were like, “Ugh, Hickory Hollow mall. Be careful of the gangs.”

We have always had violent criminals as part of our community. If folks are saying this is something new, they have not been paying attention.

And I think this is an important story and an important discussion to have, but pretending like everything was fine before this newest wave of young people hit is dishonest and doesn’t really help us figure out what to do about fixing things.

I mean, of course there are gangs in the suburbs. Suburban and rural folks: Do you smoke up or enjoy a little Colombian marching powder every once in a while (or use it as a diet aid)? If your pot is not home-grown or grown by your dealer, it’s got to come through some sort of distribution channel. There may be some rare distribution channel that gangs do not have a hand in, but, in all likelihood, they are not yours. Same with cocaine. (And, going without saying, same for other drugs, but I thought those were the two that even “good” suburbanites have likely dabbled in.)

And kids are idiots.

Let’s just be honest. The likelihood of us being able to stop kids from joining gangs is slim and none. I mean, shoot, I looked at the pictures in the Tennessean and I thought those guys looked hot and bad-ass and I’m not a 13 year old kid looking to be hot and bad-ass.

So, what can we do to mitigate the damage?

Some things we don’t like to talk about, like moving drug distribution into legal channels, which would remove one vital source of income for gangs. Even the state legislators who just want to legalize medical marijuana are treated like a huge joke. But it’s time to talk frankly. Gangs need drug money to survive. If means of distribution are legalized, the dealer is pretty much out of business.

Or that gangs operate on grown people my age (and sometimes older) taking advantage of the hunger of children to belong to something bigger than themselves. Do we really want to lock up children and throw away the key or are we going to find some way to intervene in these kids’ lives and move them back into being productive members of society?

No one wants to go to a funeral. So, who’s reaching out to rival gangs to see if there can’t be some understanding had that works better for the whole community? The cops can’t do this part. If they know of criminals who are conducting criminal enterprises, they damn sure better be investigating and arresting them. But there are ministers and other community leaders who might try it. Everyone has a stake in having fewer funerals. This ought to be a goal to which we can all work. But someone’s going to have to go make the connections and make the effort and, yeah, it will be dangerous as fuck.

I don’t know. There’s lots that we could try.

But I just can already see from this story that our way of addressing it is going to be to do just what the gangs do–consider the situation so bad that you have to act in order to show that you cannot be fucked with so you go out to one-up your enemy and try to raise the stakes so high that they back down.

This doesn’t work for them.

Why would it work for us?

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Things Peeking Up

The Professor wanted to come with me to review a park, just to see what it was like, so we went over to Seven Oaks and the dog acted like a huge puppy, which made us laugh and then she slept so hard the whole way home that when I pulled in the garage and opened up the car door for her to get out, she sat up and looked at me all squinty and tired-eyed like “We’re home already?” She could have happily slept in the sunny spot in the back seat for as long as I was willing to drive around with her. My dog makes me a better person. I know that’s corny to say, but it’s true. She makes my soul larger. She also lets nose-destroyingly stinky farts, but that’s neither here nor there.

In Which I Blew All My Grocery Money on Flowers

Red sunflowers from Beth

Three packets of sunflowers I forgot from last year.

White coneflowers

Purple coneflowers

Evening primrose

Blue false indigo

Delphinium

Hollyhocks

Columbine

Lupine

Poppies

Daisies

Black-eyed Susans

Marigolds

Foxglove

Peppermint

Morning glories (I think I’ve probably got enough seeds on the ground from last season, but I want to be sure).

Catnip

Joe-pye Weed

Bush beans

Okra

Corn

Basil

Wishbone flower

Hostas

Many of these are meant to go in the muddy part of the yard, to try to save it from itself. The hostas will go along the side of the shed. Marigolds will go in with the irises and roses. I know it’s another month and a half until I can plant anything, but, whew doggie, I had to do something to pull myself up out of this funk. I’m also looking forward to imagining next year, when the perennials will be settled and I can think about annuals.

The Butcher tells me there’s a possum picking through our compost pile. Well, more power to you, possum. There’s probably plenty of good, half-rotted stuff in there.

More of our neighbors’ wall has fallen into the creek. I need the Butcher to get with them before the spring storms come.

Still, I’m excited about flowers and I plan to take the packets out and look at them and daydream about where I will put them all every day until April 15, at which point, I will probably be inseparable from my yard. I might be a crappy gardener, but I love it. And this year, we will have more flowers than last year, and next year more flowers than that.  And that makes me happy.

Bwah ha ha, Mark Maddox

Seriously, people, I am swear, I’m about five seconds from going into the psychic political blogger business. There isn’t such a business yet, as far as I know… Oh, no, wait! I am predicting with my psychic powers that psychic political blogging will be a real thing and that I will be the perfect pick for it.

Remember just last week when I blogged about this hare-brained scheme Maddox and Overby had to reward their cronies with university presidencies?

And remember how some people were all like “Oh, no, I’m sure this is just about widening the pool to get the best potential candidates”?

Well, well, well, let us turn to the story in Inside HigherEd.

(People, I must warn you right now, before I even block this quote that, if you have drinks, you need to set them down and finish swallowing before reading what follows.)

Maddox said he was introducing the bill on behalf of “a friend,” but he would not name the individual. He did, however, note that the individual who brought him the bill was not currently occupying any of the specific positions noted in the bill, was not from the governor’s office, and had no direct interest in any of the chancellorships or presidencies in the state.

“For a friend??!!!” FOR A FRIEND??!!! BWAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA. Like you buy condoms for a “friend” when you’re 16 or Preparation H for a “friend” now?! For a friend?! Oh Jesus. Seriously, “a friend.”  Well, in Tennessee politics as in life, “a friend” means two things: the person you’re fucking or yourself and I think we all know Maddox isn’t fucking around. Is Maddox’s “friend” hoping for a career path that leads him to a cabinet level staff position and then, maybe, oh, I don’t know, to chancellor of UT Martin?

A friend. Ha.

Over at Post Politics, the commenters are speculating that maybe this is supposed to open up the door for John Morgan. I would hope not. Not because Morgan wouldn’t be a decent choice, but because I can’t believe the people who surround him are such idiots that they’d think this legislation is necessary. First, there’s no advanced degree requirement from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. They say that, in order to be accredited by them, “The institution has qualified administrative and academic officers with the experience, competence, and capacity to lead the institution.” And the State code seems to give very wide latitude to the governing boards to hire who they want.

Morgan’s public service may indeed prove he has the experience, competence, and capacity to lead an institution, but there’s no point in making a law that demands a university treat ten years of government service to be the equivalent of a PhD. And I would hope that any potential college president (or his supporters) would have taken the five minutes I took to easily discover that, instead of wasting taxpayers’ time and money on this bill.

I mean, gentlemen, please. If you want to prove you’re qualified to run a major research institution, maybe show you can, oh, you know, do a little research.

Ooo, and there’s one more funny: “both of the bill’s sponsors said they had yet to hear any criticism about it.” Really, Maddox? Because my psychic powers tell me that you read my post last week and were complaining about it and I was, indeed, critical of this hilarious piece of nepotism. But, hey, if you want to pretend like you didn’t read my generous invitation for you and Overby to come over and befriend the Butcher in order to maybe set him up with a job he’s not really qualified for, that’s cool.

Your loss.

Unpleasantness

The Varsity Grille broke me, people. I spent all afternoon wishing I could shit and since then being like “enough already.” And the Butcher ate my leftover Chinese and the last of my chocolate covered pretzels.

Which, normally, I wouldn’t have minded or thought twice about, except that I thought all day, “when I get home, I will just eat my leftovers and have some chocolate covered pretzels and all will be right in the world.”

And when I got here?

They were all gone.

Well, it was probably for the best, as I couldn’t have enjoyed them for very long anyway.

Still…

No Tree Planting Saturday

I just heard from Dave at Soundforest.org.

Betsy,

Good news and bad news. The good news is we have had so many volunteers that we are ahead of schedule on planting trees out at BB. The bad news is that we are almost out of trees to plant and don’t yet have the mulch to spread.

So, we would like to ask that you postpone your group till a later date when we will have something substantive for them to help with. We have permission to plant more trees, it’s just a matter of gathering the money together and then getting in the trees to plant. Hopefully we will be able to do at least one more good day’s work out there in March before the temperature gets too warm to be planting these little beauties for the spring.

My apologies for the disappointment. I will make sure we make it up to you!

Dave

So, that sucks for us, but is good for the park.

Things that Made Me Giggle

The John Rich protest, even though, yes, I was afraid someone might get shot.

The fact that John Rich’s house is protected by the 2nd Ammendment. I’m going to have to remember to ask Say Uncle if there’s another blogger out there, perhaps Say Unncle, who is as passionate about 2nd ammendment rights as Say Uncle is about 2nd amendment rights.

–Yes, I am well aware that a girl who spells as bad as me should not make fun of anyone else’s spelling, but people! That’s not a hand-written sign. Someone got good money from someone for that.

–Shoot, now I wish I had 2nd ammentment sign.

–And that my house had a cool name. I mean, other than B’s Pleasure Palace.

Cassandragrizzgirl in this thread is so douche-tastic that you almost have to see it to believe it.

I don’t know what this means exactly, but it feels true.

I feel pretty similarly to Jill about this. If you want to bedazzle your cooter because it’s weird and funny and kind of looks cool, more power to you. If this is something you’re taking up because you feel weird about your cooter, then that’s a problem. I guess, pretty much, that’s the way I feel about make-up, too.  If you’re having fun and you like to rock the decorated look, more power to you. If you feel like you can’t leave the house without make-up on because there’s something wrong with your bare skin showing to the world (it’s not “appropriate” to not wear makeup or you think you’re ugly without it), then that’s a problem. But it’s not the problem of the sparkly cooter or the make-up. You know what I’m saying?

I have but one small nit to pick with Andy Berke. What’s with all this talk of “middle class” families? We can’t work for the benefit of everyone? What about people who used to be middle class but they lost their jobs? We’re not going to help them? Over all, his points are good, I just think he’s engaging in a little of the nonsense he’s speaking against.

Edited to add: Yes, I did misspell my misspelling of “ammendment.” But I’m leaving it misspelled just to show you that this post is TRUE! A girl with shitty spelling should not make fun of others.  But it won’t stop me.

Varsity Grille

I don’t say this mildly, but I have just returned from the most awesomely hilarious terrible, oh, god, terrible meal ever, at the Varsity Grille on 21st. Our service was pretty terrible, but who could blame her? If I had to bring that crap to people for that amount of money, I could not have worked up any kind of give a shit attitude. Hell, Streep couldn’t have faked enthusiasm. Still, I would have liked my drink refilled.

The issues? All items are around $10. All ingredients for all three meals could have been purchased for $10. My hamburger was not medium. It also looked suspiciously like a Bubba Burger you buy in a box  at Kroger and toss on your Foreman grill. The garnish was about three dozen wilted pickle chips.

My boss’s grilled turkey, bacon, ham sandwich, that was supposed to come with mayo had neither bacon nor mayo and the bread appeared to be toasted, rather than grilled. Same with our dining companion. The server apologized saying that the truck hadn’t come yet and they were out of bacon.

The women at the next table over from us also had similar problems with their meal and they said that the large group of men asked about three or four different things, only to be told that they didn’t have that right now.

I don’t know. It was shitty, but we laughed so hard, going from what “What the fuck?” to the next. The women who were sitting next to us asked “Is this place going out of business?” and we all looked at each other and were like “How could it not be?”

Americano

I drank an Americano last night. I haven’t ever had one before, so I don’t know if it’s always like this or just my mix, but somehow it was a perfectly fine drink ruined at the end by the quick but overwhelming taste of Nag Champa. I don’t want to narc on Campari’s Campari recipe but I’m willing to bet there’s sandalwood in there.

Anyway, yuck. Like finding a really tart Sweettart on the floor of a Grateful Dead concert and putting it in your mouth.

And I dragged my whole afghan there only to discover my crochet hook wasn’t in the bag, so that sucked. When I got home, it was on the living room floor.

Somehow it seemed fitting.

The “Protecting Parents from Greedy Children” Bills

People, I’m sorry. I was going to write a long post about how “glad” I was our state legislators are taking steps to protect divorcing parents from their greedy fucker children, but then I saw that most of these bills are being put forth by Representative Hardaway and I just had to laugh.

Shoot, next session, I’m going to get Gary Moore to submit a bill requiring the Joelton Dairy Queen to give free small chocolate dipped cones to slightly disheveled women with their pitbulls (and, hell, the legislators who represent them). Maybe a law allowing people who live along state roads to charge tolls on them when we’re feeling ambitious? I mean, shoot, I’m not saying I need those things. I’m just saying that the rumors around the state about how I could most definitely benefit from those things are flying thick and furious.

I’m sorry, but who could vote for these bills in good conscience knowing that they’re intended not to protect the best interests of children, but so that people can get out of paying child support?

How’s this? What if we all supported these bills in exchange for support of a bill that would award child support to the person actually caring for a child when the parent has “custody”? So, if you’re the kind of person who dumps your kid off with your mom and dad or leaves the kid over at your sister’s or ditches the kid with your new spouse while you’re supposed to be the adult in charge of said kid, you’re legally obligated to pay your relatives for doing your job for you.

I’d be curious about how many people would be that excited about “a rebuttable presumption that equally shared parenting is the custody arrangement in the best interest of a child” if it didn’t get you out of paying child support to the people who actually support the child?

Edited to add: Okay, I’ve talked to a few lawyers, and it seems like this bill wouldn’t necessarily get you out of paying child support all together, though it would significantly reduce the amount of support you might have to pay. I think my point still stands.

There is No Diet Dr Pepper in the House!

People, I would like to write a thoughtful post for you. But I need certain things to get by in life–all this fucking medicine, a hose attached to my face at night, and some more pleasant things, like a swirl of sweet chemicals put together like something in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, called Diet Dr. Pepper.

And yet, someone (and I’m not naming names, but I’m pretty sure it was THE REDHEADED KID!!!!) drank my last Diet Dr. Pepper after I went to bed.

I hope the movie y’all were watching was crappy, Redheaded Kid!

I’m going to tell the whole internet that your hair isn’t even red anymore, Redheaded Kid!

I hope the dog let rancid farts while you were trying to drink that Diet Dr. Pepper and you couldn’t even enjoy it!

I also hope I have enough change in the car to stop and get one as I’m going into work or things could get ugly.

Uglier.

Oh Hell Yeah, Don Williams!

I’m just going to say up front that, while I get that Ferlin Husky is an important figure in country music, he just doesn’t do it for me. So, congratulations Mr. Husky, but I just cannot get that excited.

But Don Williams? I’m really emotional about it. Almost embarrassingly so. I think Don Williams just has one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century, hands down, across genres.

And you can really hear it in “Amanda.”  Here’s Waylon’s version, which, of course, is awesome, a classic. But Jennings’s voice has that one range. So, when he hits that first “Amanda,” it sounds like it should go up, but he clearly can’t get there (that’s why the background singer goes up instead). It works because it’s a song about defeat a little bit, so a guy not being able to hit the high notes is exactly fitting for the song.

But listen to how Williams handles that same problem. He does a little almost yodel in there, gives you a little hitch in his voice in the middle of “Amanda,” so instead of the whole word not going up at the end like you might expect, it sounds instead like it’s just settling down after he gets a little artistic hitch in his voice, thinking about her.

I’m not saying that his version is better than Jennings’s. Both are genius, but I think for different reasons. Having two true artists take on the song just gives you a chance to compare and contrast their strategies for taking on the song.

Williams is also the king of songs that really just get at the basic longing of the human condition. Let’s take “Love Me Tonight.” The whole song is basically “Hell yes, woman, let’s fuck.” But something in his delivery makes you feel like whatever longing he’s trying to satiate can really only be held at bay. People, I don’t mean to gush, but just listen to how he delivers that first verse. That will break your heart, right there.

Even through the terrible “We’ve just given you a drum machine to sing in front of” years, Williams managed this gem.

And if you have not prayed this prayer (or one similar), I have to doubt you’ve ever actually prayed.

I think this is his most important song, but it’s hard for me to talk about it.

Anyway, Don Williams is going into the Hall of Fame.

And he deserves it.

Three Cats Seems to Be the Same as an Infinite Number of Cats

I swear, everywhere I go in this house, there is a cat. I sincerely think that having three cats in a small space allows the cats to break the time space continuum and inhabit every inch of the house at all times.

Even the Butcher was all “Ugh, I can’t wait for spring and the return of outdoor pooping.” I’m assuming he means by the cats, but you might want to watch where you step in our backyard just in case.

Speaking of the Butcher, he and I were talking about the Saturday tree planting (and y’all are still coming, right?) and he’s all “Just find out how many trees they want planted and I’ll do it.”

“No, it’s a group thing.”

“That you organized?”

“Kind of.”

“Just find out how many trees. I can do it.”

People, please don’t make me have to bring nine changes of clothing for the Butcher so that I can try to pass him off to the Sound Forest people as my nontuplet brothers. We need ten folks. We can have more, but we need ten. Or the Butcher will do it all and I will never, ever live it down. In 40 years, his grand kids will be all “Aunt B., tell us again the story about how you made Grandpa plant a whole forest!” In 100 years, Tennessee school children will learn of the legendary Butcher,who planted every tree in Davidson County.  In 150 years, he’ll have his own Disney movie!

Don’t let this happen.

In Which I Make an Observation about Tennessee Politics

Things are in the shitter. Things are going to be in the shitter for a while.  Our state runs on sales tax and that means that people have to buy stuff in order for our state to have money. People can’t buy stuff if they aren’t working and a lot of us aren’t working.

The top priority of every legislator in Nashville right now should be putting people back to work. Lure jobs here. Whatever it takes.

Sneak into Kentucky and drag their factories back here. Start a public works project to put up a giant toll gate across the Mississippi at Memphis and charge all river traffic to use the river. Put Tennesseans to work, some tunneling under Alabama, some training rats to move through the tunnels, into Alabama’s sewers and up into the homes of Alabamans to steal their wallets and deliver the money to our coffers. And I guess that would put some of us to work breeding all the rats necessary for this.

What about Purity Dairy? I think we can all agree that they have some damn delicious milk. Couldn’t we put Tennesseans to work as milk-pushers? We could circumvent state laws in other states and sell our awesome milk on the black market.  We could put Tennesseans to work building a giant black cloth which we would hoist up on the border between North Carolina and us and we could hold evening hostage. If they ever want to see the sun set again, they’d better pony up.

Now, I’m going to freely admit that all of these things are stupid ideas.

But as far as stupid ideas go, they have some merit because they involve us working together as a state in order to benefit everyone in the state.

But I have two observations after looking at the legislation being put forth this year.

1. It’d be nice if the politicians who wanted to just give a big ‘fuck you’ to whoever would just do it.

I mean, wouldn’t it have just been better if Representative Hill had run down the aisle middle fingers blazing as he did his best Gene Simmons face in the direction of the Representatives from West Tennessee rather than to propose this piece of shit legislation? Or this one? (And don’t even get me started on Senator Bunch. He has to be the worst legislator, like some Roman emperor sticking his name to every terrible bill he can find so that he can watch in amusement to see how it plays out. At least Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Bunch has yet to bring any fine mountain music to the Senate chambers while he tries to pass his crap.)

Let me clue you in, folks. The three grand divisions mean less and less every day. It’s a useful way to understand the state to some extent, but if no one in West Tennessee has a job, it doesn’t matter that you’re in East Tennessee; it’s still going to affect you. We are all in this together.

And the shit you propose to protect you from all the imaginary things that might happen from a transcontinental interstate? That hurts other Tennesseans. You know what Tennesseans should be saying in the face of a Mexico to Canada interstate that runs through our state? “Hola, mon frere! Your money is good here! Please spend it. We are so tired of Kansans and Iowans and Minnesotans getting all the transcontinental four-lane traffic!” But perhaps Representative Hill is unaware that you can already easily travel from Monterrey, Mexico to Winnepeg, Canada by interstate already, right now, as we speak?

Perhaps he’d rather play “fuck you, West Tennessee” than look at a map? I don’t know. All I know is that people in West Tennessee want to work and Hill wanted to make it illegal for them to take the perfectly respectable job of putting in an interstate.

Why? Who knows? In a bad economy, though, Hill wanted to keep West Tennesseans from working. It’s not like they’d just run the interstate through East Tennessee instead, so he can’t even argue that he was acting in the interest of his constituents.

He just seems to have wanted to kick West Tennessee when it’s down. Seriously, Hill, next time just flip them off. It’ll reflect less poorly on you.

2. Some legislators, because they don’t have much to offer us in the ways of job creation, have decided on a strategy of making sure that, no matter how bad you have it, you can take solace that someone else in the state has it shittier.

So, you may not have a great job, hell, you might not even have a job. But at least you can easily get a driver’s license to go out looking for a job. Representative Watson wants to make sure that people who don’t yet read and write English don’t have that same privilege. He’s trying to pass a law that all drivers’ license exams be given only in English (and you’ll be unsurprised to learn who the Senate sponsor of this nonsense is).

How does this bring jobs to Tennessee? You think international companies are going to be excited about bringing jobs to Tennessee if it looks like we’ll make life as difficult as possible for the people they bring here to get things set up?

Illegal immigrants already can’t get drivers’ licenses, so Watson is being a heartless jackass to legal immigrants, people who have followed the rules and who are trying to make their way in the country. We could put out the welcome mat, but Watson wants to kick them in the ass.

And he also wants to require that you prove you’re a citizen before being able to vote (again, guess who the co-sponsor is). Now, keep in mind that there’s already a mechanism in place to verify voter registration. You can register to vote as Mickey Mouse, but that doesn’t mean Mr. Mouse is then eligible to vote.

And keep in mind that you can register to vote at all kinds of places. I’ve registered to vote at the Green Hills movie theater and then, when I moved, out front of Kroger. But you think I’m going to let those folks make a copy of my driver’s license or my passport?

Hell no.

Shoot, why doesn’t Watson just call this the “Helping Con Artists More Easily Steal Your Identity” bill and be honest about it?

But let’s not lose sight of the purpose of this bill–to make sure someone’s life is shittier than yours. I mean, your life might suck, but at least you have a driver’s license or a passport. At least you can afford to pay to get a copy of your birth certificate. Hell, at least you have a birth certificate. There are still plenty of people in this state who rely on an entry in the family Bible or a Baptismal record to prove they were born.

Here’s something that’s fun to imagine, though. Voter registrations are, right now, one sheet of paper. There are 3.5 million registered voters in Tennessee. If every registration has to contain two pieces of paper, that’s 7 million sheets of paper the State has to find something to do with.

Has anyone checked to see if Watson owns stock in Hon?

Remarks at Harry Robinson’s Funeral

My Uncle B. just sent me these remarks that were given at his (and my dad’s) grandpa’s funeral. I don’t know by whom they were written, but I’m sharing them with you.

—————————–

HARRY HENRY ROBINSON, youngest son of John and Elizabeth Robinson was born August 8, 1871 in Summit Township – Jackson County, Michigan.

At the age of two years, the family of seven children moved with their parents to Orleans Township, Ionia County, Michigan. In this vicinity, he was reared to manhood.

On September 30, 1892, he was united in marriage to Sadie Sanborn of Shanty Plains.

To this union were born nine children: an infant son who preceeded [sic] him in death, Floyd of St. Johns. William of Owosso, Marion of Jackson, Alta Lacy of Sheridan, Harold of Belding, Stanley of Orleans, Avis Phillips of Battle Creek, and Vada of Kalamazoo.

Besides his widow, he leaves to mourn his loss, twenty-seven grandchildren, on great grand child, one brother, two sisters, nieces and nephews and a host of friends.

Father’s hands are silent now
A voice we loved is stilled
A vacant place is left behind
Which never can be filled.

No one knows the silent heartaches
Only those who’ve grieved can tell
Of the sadness in the parting
Of the one we loved so well.

He was a kind and loving husband and a truly noble father. He reared his children in a Christian home where he also taught them honesty, truthfulness, kindness, and thoughtfulness of others. He was never too busy to do a kind act for a neighbor and his latchstring was always out to stranger or friend. His friendliness reminds one of the poem:

Let me live in the house
By the side of the road
Where the race of men pass by
The men who are good
The men who are bad
As good or as bad as I
I would not set in the scourner’s set.

Or hurl the cynics band
But let me live in the house
by the side of the road, and
Be a friend of man.

He was a member of the Fenwick Methodist Church for thirty years where he served actively in Sunday School work for twenty-eight years. His Christian living was a testimony to his religion which was upmost in his mind.

At his death, we cannot help but think of the poem Thanatopsis, which was a daily sermon in his life.

So live that when they summons’ [sic and sic] come to join
That innumberable [sic] caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each must take his chamber in the silent halls of death
Though goes not live [sic] the quarry slave scourged to his dungeon.
But sustained and soothed by an unfaultering trust
Approach thy grave like one
Who wraps the drapery of his couch about him
And lies down to pleasant dreams.

——————-

I’m hoping one of you historians can explain to me exactly how a latchstring worked. I looked up the definition and it is just like it sounds, a string you put on the outside of your door that allows the outside person to tug on it and lift up your latch and enter your house. But I’m unclear about how this worked. Was there a little groove at the top of the door to allow the string’s motion? Would my great grandfather have actually used such a device or had it passed into being just a saying at that point?  I have to admit, I’ve never contemplated a life before doorknobs.  But I do love the idea of a visual invitation to visit–“I’ll put this string out and you just wander over when you feel like it and let yourself in.”

The other thing that really struck me was all of the poetry. My great grandpa was a farmer. I mean, yeah, he was literate (obviously), but he was just a regular dude. And yet, there are about as many words devoted to poetry at his funeral as there are to what a good Christian he was. I’m a little envious of that, I have to say, of living so comfortably with poetry that you have three bits you want to share at a man’s funeral.

Anyway, I almost wish I didn’t know about my aunt’s assertions that he was a notorious philanderer, because I read the sections on what a great Christian he was tinged with that rumor.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the women in my family tree. Some are fairly easy to trace, usually because their families were fairly prominent and it has been worth it, for whatever reasons, for people to preserve the knowledge of who they were and where they came from. But a lot of times, they’re just a first name or a first name and a middle initial and a state where they were born.

I’ve been reading this manuscript (I won’t out the author unless he or she wants to be) and my mind is continually blown by the easy intermarriages between the French and the Indians, ostensibly French men (at least as defined by the English) wearing their hair and earrings in Native fashion or ostensibly Indian villages with French taverns. It puts me in mind, often, of Elizabeth Bennett, Timothy Demonbreun’s Nashville mistress, who, as you recall, was an Indian.  With the last name of Bennett. So, clearly, in someone’s family tree (or someones’ living right here in Middle Tennessee, I’d bet), there’s Elizabeth and then there’s a S0-and-so Bennett and his wife is just some first name.

If you didn’t already know Elizabeth was Creek, you wouldn’t know it.

I want to say something profound about America, but I don’t have it in me right now.

I was just looking at all those first-named women in my family tree this weekend and I resented it. I felt like some whole part of my history had the curtain drawn across it long ago in order to maintain a fiction. Or maybe not.

I mean, that’s the thing. In order for the illusion to hold–that we came to this land and yet remained somehow unchanged by the people we met and brought here–we have to have ways of making invisible the ways in which some of “those” people became us. And that means no one can know as much about the women as they do the men, to erase some women’s non-whiteness.

I’m glad to be able to do genealogy so easily. But it surely shows you all the ways we have of preserving and codifying myths about ourselves, especially about white America and white Americans. And sometimes I feel strange about how it becomes, just as a matter of necessity, about privileging your grandfathers over your grandmothers. If you say, “I’m not moving on from this generation until I know the names of the parents of everybody in this generation,” you will quickly lose the ability to move further back.  And at Ancestry.com, they show you these little green leaves on the names of people their search engine has found possible matches for. So, the temptation to move on from, say “Jane” about whom you’ve found nothing except for how she’s tied to her husband to her husband’s father, whose name you know and who has a little green leaf full of information is pretty high.

The very first woman I don’t have a last name for is a great-great grandma on my mom’s side. On my dad’s side, I lose them in the generation after that–Jane, Eliza, Mary Ann, and the grandmother of the dead man discussed at the beginning of this post doesn’t even have a first name.

I guess the thing I think is that you can be deeply tickled by something, as I am with all this genealogy stuff, and still aware of how insufficient it is, and it is often very insufficient.

This Awesome Tree I Saw Saturday

I was worried that being enthusiastic about a tree would seem dorky when up at Pith. And I was right. It does seem dorky. But sometimes you just have to go with unbridled enthusiasm.

One thing that I’m really enjoying about the Park reviews is that it is just a chance to run around and see all these pockets of coolness in the city. And to just write genuinely about that.

I’m also really fascinated by how different the parks are, how different the signs at each park are, how differently people seem to be using them.

Also, it has really given me a sense of Nashville as an enormous city. It’s not that we have that many people, but we are spread out over a massive amount of land, it seems like. Either that or there just aren’t direct ways from anywhere to anywhere.  Still, I wish Google would make a way for you to take the outline of your city and transpose it onto other cities, because I wonder how we stack up in the “spread out over gods’ green earth” competition.

Sunday Gardening Blogging: Back from the Dead

So, the Butcher is as enthusiastic as I am about devoting the whole garden to a ridiculous amount of sunflowers. I also like it because the planning for that is taken care of. We’ll just go in, pull up the dried up marigolds, till the whole thing lightly, and plant the sunflowers. I’m contemplating putting the French marigolds in among the sunflowers, just because they ended up being really handy for shading out the weeds. But maybe not. Some of those French marigolds are bound to come back. And the sunflowers will be pretty weed-shading, too, I’d imagine.

Don’t tell the Butcher, but I’ve found some that grow like 15′ tall. He’s going to fall over about those.

We are going to do some vegetables, which we’re trying to decide on now, but we’re going to do them in a small bed between the house and the shed. So far we’ve settled on okra and bell peppers. We might try corn again. But I’m talking about packing all these motherfuckers into a space that’s like 3′ x 5′. So, I’m going to have to think very carefully about how to arrange everything. Oh and some basil. We made good use of the basil last year (though, as I recall, only the cinnamon came up). Maybe one tomato. I think I’ve still got some seeds. But the point is, I’m not going to do a bunch of stuff that just gets crazy and we end up not eating it all and it’s way out in back where we can’t enjoy it.

Even from the house, we’ll be able to enjoy some 15′ sunflowers way back there.

And we’ll eat more vegetables if we can keep a closer eye on the garden.

As for flowers, the daffodils are already poking up. Even the ones I bought with nm have broken the surface. The last time we talked about it, hers had not, but then I remembered, mine are right by the house. That soil is warm.

I think someone ate all my crocuses in the small bed by the creek. I saw them starting to sprout last week, but didn’t see any in there this week. Well, fuck that then. I may put some daffodils in there next year, but I’m giving up on crocuses. I also have half a mind to go into the squirrel nests and take bites out of things they like.

I’d also like to try foxglove again this year. It didn’t work on the south side of the house, even though that stays pretty shady thanks to the holly tree. But I’m thinking of trying it at the shady end of the perennial bed.  I’ve also got some room between the edge of the bed and the peonies, which is very sunny, where I’d like to stick something. I’m thinking maybe Columbine?

The big question remains the wet spot to the north of the driveway. I’d like to get some plants in there that would help soak up that water. As I’ve said, it’s a mess. You can’t mow in there (at least not very often, because it’s so wet), but it’s usually so muddy you can’t get over there to weed. So, whatever goes in there is going to have to be hardy. It’s going to have to be able to fight its way through weeds.  And it’s going to have to be able to withstand being mowed down in the fall.

I’m honestly wondering if I can go over to Bates and ask for help. I’d think some decorative grasses and some plain old coneflowers and black-eyed susans might do me. I also read that hollyhocks will do well in those circumstances. But I wonder what y’all think?

And is anyone else garden planning already?  If so, what exciting things do you have going on?

But I Have a System!

I have been rocking this awesome system where, when I get up in the morning, I take The Pill, and then set out the metformin I’ll need to take at dinner in a shot glass in the cabinet. That way, if ever I am wondering far after dinner whether I took my metformin, I can look in the shot glass and see “empty=yes” and “full=no.”

But this only works if you’re worrying about whether you’ve taken it. If you’ve developed a routine you feel confident about, you never worry.

So I wake up this morning to find that I had not taken it.

I should have suspected because we did a lot yesterday and I should have been exhausted, but instead I slept like shit and tossed and turned all night. Something wasn’t right.

Anyway, not taking it, for me, sucks. Not at first, but by lunch, I’d be feeling sick and this feeling I an only describe as like the opposite of hunger, like intense not-hungry followed by intense hunger, so I wouldn’t eat at lunch (because I’d feel sick and not hungry) and then there’d be like a switch flipped and I’d pretty much have to eat right then or I’d be weak and dizzy and in a tremendous amount of pain. I’d have a good chance of getting a migraine, too.

I don’t know if these are everyone’s symptoms when they miss a dose, but for me, it’s pretty nasty. I imagine, after a few days, it’d settle down into being like it was before I started taking it, which, obviously, is completely survivable, since I did it for my whole life before. But the one day is bad enough that I was like, “Oh, fuck me running.”

The NIH’s website says to take it as soon as you notice that you’ve forgotten, as long as it’s not too close to when you’d normally take it.

So, I took it, just now.

But I ask you, what is the point of developing good habits if those habits allow you to believe with confidence that you’ve done what you’re supposed to do?

I need to be mindful of taking my pills. But I also don’t want to let the schedule of pill taking come to dominate my life. I need a mindset that keeps me thinking of it, but not so that I fixate on it.

But I still, obviously, haven’t struck that balance.

We Did This Day Like It’s Going Out of Style

First, we slept in. Then, Mrs. Wigglebottom behaved herself while I weeded the herb garden. It was already pretty full of weeds, but also the chamomile is spreading like there’s no tomorrow. So, I have an idea that, if I let everything spread as much as it would like, I’m not going to have much of a weed problem in there in coming years, just because there won’t be a whole lot of room for things to get much of a foothold. I do have two big spaces I’d like to get something in, in that bed. I don’t know what, yet, but it must be an herb and it must be perennial.

And I am so in love with the rosemary right by the front steps. It was so small when I planted it and now it’s this big gangly thing. I am really excited to see if it blooms this year.  All the sage looks very terrible, but in that way where you feel like you’ll know summer’s coming when it starts to perk back up.

I tried to weed the tea rose, but the underlying dirt was so firmly packed that it was nearly impossible. I just took my rake and tried to get it loosened up some and I’ll get back out to it later.

I trimmed the holly bushes under the front window. I didn’t give them a very precise shape, more just like “friendly round shag.” I thought about trimming the nandina, but I am going to wait until nm can come out and show me what to do. I don’t want to even clean it up until then because I want to take a look at what remains before trimming it back.

I spread ashes on the perennial bed in back.

And then the dog and I went over to Peeler Park to review it for Pith.

I probably overdid it a little, considering that we’ve been stuck in the house without walks for weeks, but it was so nice out that I just wanted to be out and moving around in it.  I really hope we get some good flowers in the perennial bed this year.

And I found a weird plant in one of the shade beds. I planted an African violet over there last summer rather than let it die in the house. And I don’t think this is it, but… I don’t know. It doesn’t quite look like a weed.

My State Rep and My Grocery Store: Combined Awesomeness

I give almost no thought to my state representative, Gary Moore. I can’t hardly remember his name half the time, just that he’s the fireman with the mustache. So, I’m completely screwed if Cobb or Turner ever grow mustaches. I’ll have no fucking idea who represents me, I mean, even worse that it is currently. And I also can’t remember who the fuck Moore is because he never comes on my radar for doing stupid shit. His bills are all “Let’s honor this person. Let’s keep these firefighters from getting dicked around. Should we have some background checks on these people? I say yes.”

He may be up to nefarious nonsense once you get down to the details of it, so don’t think I’m endorsing him or anything. I’m just saying, to me, he seems like a fine representative. I’ll hold his SJR127 vote against him, but I’m unreasonable that way. Otherwise, I’ve got no complaints.

I also can’t remember his name, either so… take that for what it’s worth.

But anyway, so you may remember how there was the push to allow guns in some of the rural parks and one of the rural parks was over on Morgan Road, which is just up the ridge from me? And how I went over there and discovered that it’s not even a motherfucking park?  Even if you could carry guns in rural parks, you cannot carry a gun there because, if you’re there, you’re trespassing.

Well, this afternoon, I’m up at the grocery store and I’m checking out and I look straight ahead and there, on the bulletin board is a note from Representative Moore saying that people have been asking him about what’s up with the Morgan Road property and so he had some plans pulled together and he’s posting them around the district so that everyone can see.

How fucking nice is that?

I don’t know why this discovery requires so much cussing, but I swear, I saw that and I was just like “Fuck yeah, what a good idea.” And then I thought, “shoot, if he’s going to be doing cool shit like this, I need to remember his name.”

So, that’s my goal–committing Gary Moore’s name to memory. Also, trying to remember what he looks like so I can say “Hello” if I ever see him at Dairy Queen.

A Girl and Her Beloved Cactus

Is the TNGOP as Screwed as the TNDP?

I admit, I’ve been so focused on Democratic problems, I’ve been almost completely out of the loop on the conservative soap opera in this state.  But today, as they say, the shit really hit the fan. First, it came out that the TNGOP state director is also running for office and conservatives took to the internets to complain. Then, someone claiming to be an executive committee member in the comments claimed that the party Chair just learned of this office-running-for nonsense last week.

And then the Chair has to take to the email himself to try to put a lid on the issue and reassert his own authority. It’s always a bad sign when someone is leaking your “shut the fuck up” emails to the press.

Republicans should be poised to make some pretty sweeping changes to the political landscape here in Tennessee. Victory is right over the next hill. The finish line is within sight. The Dems are in chaos.

Are the Republicans on the verge of tripping over their own shoes?

Is this an indication that they’re about to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory?

I don’t know. It’s weird to see the political machine that rolled right over us headed straight for a cliff.

If Republicans fuck this up… I just don’t know. I honestly do not know. I can’t even fathom it.

And yet, I know, when they leak your “shut the fuck up and fall in line” emails, you’ve probably already lost your authority. And if the TNGOP doesn’t have some strong leadership, I’m not sure they can just rely on momentum to carry them through November.

This Morning’s Scores

Last year, my mom and I found a couple of incredibly furry woolly worms. I was thinking about them as I was freezing my fingers of for, hallelujah, a second day this week, while out walking the dog. We have had an unusually snowy and cold winter for us.

Score one for the predictive powers of the woolly worm.

Also, score one to Mrs. Wigglebottom who stood patiently at the side of the road while I put down her leash so that I could tie my shoe. I knew it would be fine, but I was still nervous that she might take off running into the road. Of course, she did not. She just stood right there and patiently waited.

And score one for me, who got to see, right as the sun made it’s way over the hill, the frost on the scrub all along the road light up like thousands of tiny amber fires.

Shoot, I Need to Blog Like Andrew Sullivan

I went to a blogger thing at Vanderbilt and I wrote up a post for Pith when I got home and then I wrote Pith another post about the temporary suspension of Metro Water’s electronic billing. And then I thought, I ought to write something exciting for my lovelies at Tiny Cat Pants, but I don’t think I have another post in me this evening.

But if I had under-bloggers like Sullivan has? They could be writing to you now under my name and I could be headed for bed.

The blogger thing was really cool. Braisted was one of the bloggers and he spoke a lot about whether blogging was an effective way to effect grassroots change or if it’s more for yelling up at people more powerful than you or just getting other people’s takes on  stuff you already have an opinion on.

I’m not saying it as eloquently as he did, but I found myself nodding in agreement.