Uplift

nelson

Blog went on hiatus because I’m struggling with depression – seasonal and post-election – and an overload of work.

In the midst of this miasma I had an experience that brought me to a world at once known and mysterious, beautiful and brutal, oppressing and uplifting.

A friend had invited me to a poetry reading for Marilyn Nelson’s The Meeting House. It is a collection that celebrates the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Old Lyme Congregational Church.

I’ve heard Marilyn read her magical verse before and was anticipating an intense experience. Sadly, a health problem kept her home, but “the show must go on,” and so it did. Members of the congregation did their star turns.

Through their expert readings, we experienced fires (more than one), a “marriage” of enslaved people, wars, religious awakenings, gossip. Each reader conveyed the poems’ intensity and perception and grace, along with Marilyn’s biting humor.

We began in 1666, before Lyme and Old Lyme became separate towns, with the first strike of metal on metal – hammer and nails invading the world of butterflies and Native Americans — to create the first meeting house, which we learn was segregated men from women, young from old, and sort of black from white.

The church’s charismatic young minister, the Rev. Dr. Steven R. Jungkeit (the nineteenth in the line), read the concluding poem, “Ruminations Down Lyme Street.” I was proud to note that Marilyn’s litany included “the Negro pharmacist.” That pharmacist was my Granduncle Fritz M. James, who operated the other James Pharmacy just up the road from the church.

It was thoroughly appropriate that Steve read the concluding lines: “A pastor might feel it’s a privilege/to serve and guide this faith community/that is trying to be the change we need to see.” For him, it is indeed a privilege.

Veterans on the Radio

Christy Billings, seated. Standing from left, Vance Fisher, Jim Masso, and Harvey Goldstein.
Christy Billings, seated. Standing from left, Vance Fisher, Jim Masso, and Harvey Goldstein.

The veterans’ writing group journeyed down the Valley to iCRVradio.com.

Harvey Goldstein, Jim Masso, and Vance Fisher, along with my partner in crime, Christy Billings, spent an engaging late Thursday afternoon with Dave Williams and Ibby Carothers. After Christy gave a brief introduction explaining how the group started, Dave and Ibby drew the men – all Vietnam War veterans – out about their experiences during the war and about their writing process and its benefits.

The questions ranged from how each man came to join the group to their experience of community, to what’s next for us.

During the interview, Harv dubbed me “Sgt. Liz.” Christy, though, is a colonel! Love it!

The show aired live at 5 p.m., but listeners can hear rebroadcasts at noon, 3, and 6 p.m. on Friday, 11/11 at iCRVradio.

Everyone had an amazing time, and we’ve been invited back. We have a great surprise in store and hope that we have other members of the group join us.

Thank you, Ibby and Dave!

Please Vote

vote

For those you who have not yet voted, I’m posting this again with the reminder that one of the candidates for president wants to repeal the Nineteenth Amendment.

I always vote for myself and on behalf of family members who couldn’t. Until 1920 my grandmother and my great aunts had to watch from the sidelines. Reports are that Aunt Anna Louise James was one of the first women to register in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. And she voted. Always.

Once the law allowed, they were never denied the opportunity to participate. All I could see after that comment about the Nineteenth Amendment was my mother, my grandmother, and all those women rising up in horror.

And then I thought, if he wants to repeal the Nineteenth, what about  the Fifteenth? It passed after the Civil War, enfranchising black men. It’s been on the books for 150 years but was violated everywhere south of the Mason Dixon Line for years. And it is still is in great jeopardy in many places, North and South.

The victims included my grandfather, Walter Elijah Petry. He was born a slave in Louisiana. As a young man, he was able to serve on juries and participate in government. By the time he moved to New Iberia in 1900, the state of Louisiana had disenfranchised black men.  I remember my dad saying with great bitterness that even though Grandfather Walter owned property and paid taxes, he wasn’t allowed to vote.

At that moment I decided I will vote at every opportunity. When I do,  I think of the ancestors: Bertha, Helen, Anna Louise, Walter, and all the others denied their rights.

Please vote, if not for yourself, then for your relatives who couldn’t.

Tea Heaven

macha

Blog has been on hiatus because of various and sundry. The occasion for this entry is the arrival of my macha tea set.

The saga began when I bought a canister of macha from my friend Peggi at Tea Roses Tea Room. This version was powdered so I needed the accessories: a whisk and the suitable bowl.

They arrived this afternoon, and I rushed through chores and work so I could enjoy a cup.

The preparation involves pouring hot, not boiling water over a teaspoon of the powder. Then you whisk until it froths and the powder dissolves. Then you smile and sigh at that first warming bitter/astringent sip.

Sublime!