Tag: family

Oct 31

Woman’s Day shares story of Christian woman who learned to support trans son

In its October 2014 issue, the magazine Woman’s Day strayed outside its usual comfort zone with an article about a Christian mother learning to accept and support her transgender son.  In The Son God Gave Me, Gina Kentopp tells Barry Yeoman about her coming to terms with her son’s identity and the process of its formation and the changes she had to go through herself.

 photo WomansDay_zps9736ab44.jpg

When my second child, Kyle, was born in 1994, and the nurse told me I had given birth to a daughter, I was thrilled. I already had a son, Alex, and now, I thought, a baby girl. During the first year of Kyle’s life, I dressed him in every frilly outfit I could.

I use the pronoun “he” when talking about Kyle, because I now understand that he has always been male-his inner soul, when he was born, didn’t match his body.

Nov 22

My Little Town 20121121: More Old Words

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Several folks who follow this regular series, my Pique the Geek one, and my Popular Culture one know that I often use obsolete or archaic spellings for certain, common words.  This is intentional.

Perhaps it is no longer standard English to use these old words, but neither is it incorrect to do so.  I do so partly out of respect whence came I (“whence” is “from where” in a single word, so if you say “from whence” it is sort of like saying “from from where”, sort like folks calling MSDSs “Material Data Safety Sheet Sheets” when they say “MSDS sheets”), but I am not being completely honest.

Another reason that I use them is to try to grab the attention of my readers.  I find it interesting to read pieces from contributors who are sort of off the beaten track.  I do not know if it works well for me or not.  I do believe that my readers realize that I do this not out of ignorance for standard English, but sort of in protest of the conformity to it.

Am I an nonconformist?  As Gibbs would say, “Ya think!?”

Following is a list of words that I often use that are not standard, but not incorrect, and then some recollections that I have for some of the old talk that NEVER was really correct.  This is quite subjective, but here we go.

Oct 13

Popular Culture 20121012: Rituals for the Deceased

I originally was going to write about the new Dark Shadows motion picture, but circumstances have intervened.  It turns out that my dear friend’s mum’s twin brother died either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, alone except for his little dog.  My friend called me around 9:30 Thursday morning to go next door and try to comfort her mum, and I was honored to do so.

Her mum was a basket case.  She and her brother were Christmas Day babies, 65 years ago Christmas past.  I have a brother, but not a twin, and my brother and I are separated by 14 years.  She and her brother were separated by fewer than 14 minutes, so they grew up together.

I did comfort her, and she cried in my arms.  I could not do much except to try to let her know that I really care, and she appreciated that.  Now for the culture part.

Jan 25

For Mom: Giraffes, French and a Beautiful Life

(Cross-posted on Kos)

I.  Giraffes never hang their heads

“My favorite animal is a giraffe–it walks around with its head held high, proudly rising above the rest, never hanging its head in sadness or shame, always showing the world its smile.”

That’s what my mother told a camper at the summer camp in the Adirondacks she ran with my Dad in the 1960s and 1970s.  And that’s the way my Mom lived her life every single day until the day she died at 94, on January 27 of last year.  This diary is in honor of her first Yahrzeit.*

She was a 1915 baby, a Depression teen; a 1940 bride; a dance teacher; a camp counselor and owner; a mother to a war baby and a boomer; a jewelry maker; a proudly Jewish Ethical Culturist; and dozens of other varied and fascinating pursuits.  She brought light and inspiration to everyone she met, most of all to my Dad, to whom she was married for 67 years until he died at 91 in 2007.


   Part II: Je t’aime, je t’adore, que veux-tu encore.

   Part III: Would you want to be a King .  .  .?

Mar 10

Dallas Office Shooting Gets Very Personal 20100309

Hello, all.  This is sort of an irregular blog for me.  Except about myself, I rarely talk about other family members to protect their privacy.  However, this has been on national news, so their privacy is not very protected already.

Everyone is familiar with violence, at least on the news.  This piece affects me personally, and even though I watched some of the news feed in real time, it was after the medics had already left with the victims.

Oct 23

Update II: Music video: Shameless Promotion of my son’s project

At some personal risk to my anonymity, I am proud to promote a project from my eldest son, Joe.  (No, his last name is not Lemming).  He is a drummer in the Minneapolis area, and plays in several bands and in the studio with several other projects.  In other words, he’s “in demand”.  He is the eldest of my two drummer sons.  Imagine what dinner table conversations were like in my home!  Joe, please stop tapping and pass the butter.  Ryan, please stop smacking that glass with your pen.  

In my head it was always “Oh gawd please make it stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!.”  Of course, the payoff is when you get to see them come in to their own, and not on your dining room table.  My wife is a vocalist and I am a sax player, so I guess we’re at fault anyway.  

The current band Joe’s promoting is called Kill to Kill, and it’s so unusual I thought you people would get a kick out of it. It’s a punk trio, with bass, baritone guitar and drums only.  The singer reminds me of no one – I think this act is completely unique.  Follow me below the fold for video.  

Sep 07

Thinking Of The Union Members I have Known

Today is Labor Day. Hopefully you will be taking some time off and either are reading this after taking a break from yard work or better on Tuesday. Labor Day has always had a special place in the Dog’s life. The Dog is the Grandson and Nephew and Cousin of several life long UAW workers. Growing up in Michigan this is not an uncommon experience, but living here in the West, he finds it stunning how people view unions and the Labor movement in general. Today the Dog would like to take a little time and give a bit of tribute to the Union members in the Dog’s family.

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

Jul 06

Weekly Torture Action Letter 16 – Dear Friends And Family

Welcome to the Dog’s on going letter writing campaign for torture accountability. Most Monday’s we write to the decision makers in the nation in order to prod them in the right direction on the issue of torture. How it works is the Dog provides the letter and the links and you provide the action by either cutting and pasting the letter or writing your own.

Originally posted at Squarestate.net

Feb 09

“What a great and good man–so guileless.”

Crossposted–with minor edits–from Street Prophets, in the belief that this extraordinary ‘ordinary man’ deserves wider recognition, and in the hope that my brief and incomplete account of his life will prove to be of interest.

He wasn’t wealthy, or powerful, or famous. (Though he did leave his mark on one city’s landscape; more on that below). He was merely an exemplar of that ‘Greatest Generation’ we’ve learned to revere and respect. And he was my father.

Born in Bismarck, North Dakota in 1922, he was a true son of the West. His father was a jack-of-all-trades: mechanic, fireman, cowboy, lumberjack (a man who left his parents’ home–and their harsh evangelical faith–as a teenager, never setting foot in a church again–though he carried a pocket New Testament with him for the rest of his life). His mother was the daughter of immigrants who left the German empire as that country became increasingly rigid and militaristic under the second Wilhelm.

The family wandered throughout several western states before finally landing on the Oregon Coast at the beginning of the hard years of the Depression. At one point they lived on a houseboat and were so poor that the only food they had was what they could catch off the side of the boat.

Dad graduated from high school, joined the Air Force in 1942, and served in the South Pacific; like many veterans, he spoke little of his wartime experiences, except to say that ‘we did the right thing.’

Dec 20

Don’t give him my regards . . . Give him my respect.

(cross-posted on Kos)

In the 1950’s, my Dad was the head counselor at a summer camp in in Pennsylvania. About 10 years ago, I ran into a friend who had gone to the camp.  After reminiscing for a few minutes, I asked him if he would like me to give his regards to my father.  His answer:

“Don’t give him my regards.”  He paused.  “Give him my respect.”

The comment captured his larger-than-life presence for generations of kids at summer camps and at the schools where he was a teacher and principal.

My Dad died on October 24 at the age of 91.  He was a quintessential member of the “Greatest Generation.” Born in 1916 to immigrant parents, he made it through the Depression, went to City College, served in W.W. II, took advantage of the G.I. Bill, raised a war baby (my big brother) and a boomer (me), moved to an “urban suburb” (Rockaway Beach, NY), worked two jobs — teacher and principal; and camp counselor and director.

Also, between 1973 and last month, he tenaciously and courageously fought his way through several heart attacks, a couple of “mini-strokes,” two multiple bypass surgeries, carotid artery surgery, gall bladder surgery (with complications), knee surgery and loss of most of his sight and hearing.  But another heart attack on January 1, 2007 began a series of events that even he could not withstand.  

In the Emergency Room that night, the doctor asked a series of questions to test his cognitive functions:  He aced “What’s your name?” and  “What’s your wife’s name?”  Then the doctor asked “Who’s the President?”  

His reply: “We have a President?”

We knew then that his mental functioning was fine.  

Nov 11

White Trash: A Family Story

My mother’s family were Okies although they all hate that name.  “We’re Not Okies, we’re from Kansas!” (Yeah–25 miles from the border).  My grandfather was a sharecropper, they didn’t have much, but they liked what they had.  Then the Dust Bowl hit southern Kansas.

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My grandfather took the trunk lid off of his 1932 Plymouth and built a doghouse sticking out the back.   He piled his wife and five daughters into the car.  With their belongings–what little they could could take with them–strapped to the top of the car and a trailer filled with household goods, with the bedding on top, they set off West, looking for work along the way.


Sep 29

Reconciliation. A revisit and an update.

I'm revisiting a previous piece of writing from August of last year. Today is my oldest sister's birthday – Jackie would have been 71 years old, born September 28, 1936. Midst of the Great Depression, midpoint between the Great Crash of 1929 and the final year of WWII, 1945.

In reading through this again, I realize that I wrote it as if I knew her. But really, how can a much younger sister, only a teenager so many years ago, know a sibling who is in their middle thirties? I write with a great deal of supposition as I carry the anecdotal memories of the other parts of my family forward. Most of all these last few years, I listened to the sometimes faulty, often biased, almost always self-focused stories of my other sister, Sharon. I heard her side of things, and sometimes her perspective filled in gaps in the hollows of the family legends initially created for me by my mother. Sometimes Sharon's words served to underline the inequalities of family dynamics. A family organic pulses in that way –  the web that connects us as family is either nourished or fermented by how each of us share memories or opinions with each other.