Friday, November 24, 2017

I Don't Know, by Pat Gourley



“It’s much more interesting to live not knowing than have answers which might be wrong.”


Richard Feynman, Physicist


Replying with “I don’t know” has become much easier for me than in years past. Particularly in my 20’s and 30’s I seemed to always be able to spout an answer or proffer an often-unsolicited opinion to any question. Rather than give the honest answer that I did not know I would come up with some sort of bullshit. Perhaps this is because I have simply become less enamored with the sound of my own voice but I would like to think it rather represents a more mature and honest way of replying, that is to often say nothing. There are so many things I really don’t know.

Part of the reason I am able to better accept the reality of not knowing, rather than offering-up the first thing that pops into my head, I attribute to my Zen practice with the Kwan Um School, from 1994-2009 approximately. This is a Korean sect and the teachings of Zen Masters Seung Sahn and Soeng Hyang (aka Bobby Rhodes) definitely laid the groundwork for my understanding of the “don’t know mind”. Much work on my part remains but I take the advice of Seung Sahn to heart: “try, try, try… for 10,000 years nonstop”. This quote is obviously a metaphor for perseverance on my part since I am not a big believer in reincarnation. What we are “trying” for here is encapsulated in this short quote by Richard Shrobe from his book Don’t Know Mind-Korean Zen: “Don’t know mind is our enlightened mind before ideas, opinions, or concepts arise to create suffering”.

If someone with absolutely nothing better to do was to look at my writings closely they could surmise that the more quotes I use is indicative of how at a loss for my own words I was on a particular topic, thank you Gillian. Today would be no exception so here goes with another one and you will need to stretch a bit to connect this to today’s topic but it is great quote nonetheless. This one from Stephen Hawking:

“ I have noticed that even those who assert everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before crossing the street.”

One more tangential quote I happened on while prowling the Internet looking for guidance on something to write about today is from Mrs. Betty Bower. She is a humorist/satirist who bills herself as a Republican and America’s Best Christian. I highly recommend you follow her on Facebook. Her satire often comes with a hilarious dose of snark. A recent post:

“Dear fellow Republicans: It is so important to take every opportunity to remind other Americans that you are Christian. Otherwise how would they ever guess?”

I retired from full time nursing in 2010 but since then have had extended periods of part-time work often exceeding 20 hours per week. I have though for the past year and a half been able to stay fully retired. Probably the most irritating question I get these days is ‘well what are you doing?’ I often assume, rightly or wrongly, that the implication is that I am doing not much that is worthwhile. My gut, but rarely vocalized, answer is well “fuck you, I don’t know.” Admittedly this is a bit defensive and probably requires some more self-examination on my part as to how I do spend my days. My usual response though almost always does start with “I don’t know ... but the days do fly by” or some such crap.

I could I suppose make up stuff like I am working tirelessly in various soup kitchens or I reading to the blind or doing volunteer hospice work with barely anytime to relax or sleep. Or I could be much more honest and say I am spending a lot of time watching Internet porn and perusing Facebook for funny quotes to fill up space in my SAGE writings.

Really I am not a total reprobate but I do not feel the need to offer up the really worthwhile things I am doing often helping those close to me. Perhaps the most honest answer to the question would be “I don’t know … perhaps I could do more. Do you have any suggestions?”

© July 2017



About the Author


I was born in La Porte, Indiana in 1949, raised on a farm and schooled by Holy Cross nuns. The bulk of my adult life, some 40 plus years, was spent in Denver, Colorado as a nurse, gardener and gay/AIDS activist. I have currently returned to Denver after an extended sabbatical in San Francisco, California.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Brown House, by Louie Brown

(published in this blog previously on June 20, 2014)



When I was around 11 or 12 years old, I remember having Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and brothers in College Point. It was the mid-1950’s. Dwight Eisenhower was the President. I was a child happy with life, but my parents were very poor. I was too young to understand the inconveniences of poverty. We lived in a two-family house, and the upstairs tenant was a mother and daughter, Edna. They were poorer than we were. Edna got herself invited to our Thanksgiving and enjoyed setting up for the feast.

My parents and especially my mother and grandmother wanted us to remember that once upon a time the Brown family and my maternal grandmother’s family, the Wilcoxes, in the 19th century were enormous affluent, influential families. On the wall were a picture of Abraham Lincoln in an oak oval frame and another of my great grandfather Captain Francis Leicester Brown of the Union Army in an oak oval frame. There was a petty point sampler that read “God bless the family in this household,” completed by me on my 15th birthday, May 10, 1819, Hannah Hopkins Hodge.

In the 17th and 18th centuries my ancestors were prominent Puritan ministers. Even back then there were seemingly endless irreconcilable theological battles going on. On the other hand, my mother warned us that, though we should remember our ancestors, we should not be like her great aunt and become ancestor worshipers. It wasn’t wholesome either.

The meal consisted of turkey, creamed onions, turnips, yams, rather traditional. What made it memorable was the chinaware: Limoges and Haviland plates and platters, a Wedgewood chocolate pitcher, Limoges demitasse espresso coffee cups that were works of art. Crystal goblets for the cider, a magnificent Damask table cloth and napkins. Ornate sterling silverware, Victorian style. Our attic was full of these remnants and memorabilia of an affluent comfortable 19th century past. Corny but beautiful oil paintings, more petit point samplers, lavish gowns with the finest French laces. More Victorian extravagance. Edna from a Catholic family really enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinners. For a day we Browns were again important people though the reference point was to another earlier century. For a day we were ancestor worshipers.

Moral: How do poor people become whole happy well-adjusted people in a hostile social environment? I think poor people learning survival skills is probably more important than measuring one’s personal worth by the balance in our checking accounts and the influence we have in our communities.

Catholic Edna for example is happy. She started out poor. She is still poor, but she has a good understanding of why certain politicians say what they say. She has a spiritual dimension to her belief system. She survives, she is well-adjusted. She also proves that Puritans and Catholics can get along just fine, thank you.

Personally, I am still a “mal-content”. I am dissatisfied with church-sponsored homophobia, and the establishment’s irrational hostility to poor people, but I am on the mend.

Our best teachers in the current environment are Occupy Wall Street and the Radical Faeries. I heard clearly what they have to say. They are convincing. We Americans should object to Wall Street giving orders to our elected leaders about how they should victimize the public for the sake of increasing profits for billionaires. The Radical Faeries in their presentations at the Lesbian and Gay Center in New York City pointed out the need for Lesgay people to develop a spiritual side to their personalities, to revere their sexual orientation rather than skulking around hating ourselves for the convenience of homophobes. We are an international “tribe”. Guess what, there are gay people in Morocco and Australia.

In her personal search to find meaning in life outside of material success, Edna feels that she should boast about her family, her two children. In general, since Lesgay people are banished from traditional families, we have to devise another system that suits our communal interests.

What do we tell Lesbian and gay homeless teenagers who have been tossed out of their fundamentalist parents’ homes because of their sexual orientation? In other words, empower the out-groups. Amen.


© 31 March 2014  




About the Author



I was born in 1944, I lived most of my life in New York City, Queens County. I still commute there. I worked for many years as a Caseworker for New York City Human Resources Administration, dealing with mentally impaired clients, then as a social work Supervisor dealing with homeless PWA's. I have an apartment in Wheat Ridge, CO. I retired in 2002. I have a few interesting stories to tell. My boyfriend Kevin lives in New York City. I graduated Queens College, CUNY, in 1967.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How I Learned Some Turkey Anatomy, by Nicholas

It was our first Thanksgiving together so we invited a bunch of friends over to share a dinner. Jamie and I were to cook the turkey and other people were assigned other courses for a sumptuous meal.


We got the bird which was frozen but no problem, we knew enough to leave it in the frig for a few days to thaw out. It seemed to be doing so nicely and on Thanksgiving morning as I prepared the stuffing and prepped the turkey, things were moving along smoothly.Turkey in the oven, we were on our way to a feast.

The first sign of trouble came innocently enough when Jamie was talking to his mother about our celebration. I should point out that this Thanksgiving was a kind of late rebellion on his part. We had decided not to go to his parents for dinner, even though they were nearby, so we could have our own gathering with friends. But mothers have that knack for asking questions that can throw your plans right into the rubbish.

Bragging about our turkey in the oven, mom posed the question, “Did you get the giblets and stuff out of both ends of the turkey?”

What “both ends,” I demanded. Of course we’d pried out a bag of turkey parts from its hollow innards. But was there more in some other secret cavity? Was there something stuffed up its ass, too?

So, we hauled the bird out of the oven and poked around its backside to find out that not only was there another pouch of miscellaneous bits but that our future dinner was still, actually, frozen. Well, it did seem a little stiff when we stuffed it but now we realized we had a still frozen 12-15 pound animal and all bets were off as just when dinner would be served.

We threw the thing back into the oven and cranked up the temperature. Nothing much happened. We turned the oven up higher. Still, not much changed. It was turkey’s revenge—it would cook in its own time and never mind our plans for dinner.

Our guests started arriving and our main course was just thawing out. We had appetizers and wine and conversation while the bird began to show some sign of cooking. We reversed the order of the meal and served other courses like salad, potatoes and vegetable and more wine until at long last we pulled from the oven what we hoped was a cooked turkey. I can’t even remember what it tasted like. I guess it was good or we were all too hungry to care. Everybody ate it, nobody got sick. It was a fun time, even though a disaster.

My first venture into real cooking did not augur well for pursuing culinary delights. But, as it happens, one gets hungry and has to repeatedly do something about it. Peanut butter sandwiches as a diet are not that appealing. So, despite being shamed by a turkey, the lowest form of conscious life on this planet, I did go back into that kitchen with the intention of turning food into meals.

I am happy to report that success followed my persistence. Hunger is a good teacher and I have come since to associate the kitchen with many satisfactions and pleasures.

I love to indulge myself and what higher form of indulgence is there than food. And food grows ever more satisfying with age. Taste grows more complex and nuanced with age and taste buds, unlike other body parts, actually work better as you grow older. Kids can be finicky eaters, it has been said, because their underdeveloped taste buds aren’t working to their full capacity with just sweet and bitter dominating their little palates.

I like food. I like everything to do with food—shopping for it, growing it, picking it in the garden, preparing it, cooking it, eating and sharing it with others. I like reading about food and cooking; I like planning big meals. My favorite store in the whole world is the Savory Spice Shop down on Platte Street. Walking in their door is entering a different world full of wonderful aromas that hint of countless flavors from the dozens of herbs, spices and exotic salts on the shelves. The variations and sensations are near endless in my imagination.

Cooking is now part of my identity. I love to cook. Well, I just love food. Cooking is now a creative endeavor as I tend to use recipes not as instructions but for inspiration and as suggestions as to what goes well together and in what measure. Many times I simply dispense with recipes and make it up on the basis of what’s in the frig and hunches. The hunches—like adding paprika and dry mustard to a stew—usually pay off, i.e., are edible, but sometimes they do not turn out so well. Those I won’t go into.

Food has its rituals that can be likened to religious liturgies culminating with the sharing of sacrament. Food is work and joy, is nourishment and pleasure and connotes special relationships to those you share it with and to the earth it comes from.

So, let me officially launch this great season of holiday feasting—my favorite time of the year—with the words: Ladies and gentlemen, start your ovens. Let the eating begin!


[Editor's note: This piece was first published in this blog in 2012.]


© November 2012


About the Author


Nicholas grew up in Cleveland, then grew up in San Francisco, and is now growing up in Denver. He retired from work with non-profits in 2009 and now bicycles, gardens, cooks, does yoga, writes stories, and loves to go out for coffee.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pets, by Lewis


After initially thinking I would describe a litany of the pets I have owned over my lifetime--from a dog to a hog-nosed snake to a squirrel to a parakeet--I soon became aware that I had tapped into a very deep well of sadness. More than a moment of grief, it felt as if I had broken the seal on a bottle of "despair Drambuie" that had been corked for sixty years.

Of all my pets, my most dear was the only dog I have ever owned, a mixed fox terrier puppy named Skippy. He was a gift from my maternal grandfather--the only grandparent I have ever known--on a day in May of 1955 that was totally unremarkable. There was no "occasion". I simply arrived home from another day in the 3rd grade at Morgan Elementary to find a puppy running around the kitchen. I was told by my mother that the puppy was a gift from Granddad Homer, who was living with us but at the time nowhere to be seen.

This was not unusual for my grandfather. Although extremely generous with his money, he was a five-star miser when it came to communication. I do not remember a time when we shared a conversation, laugh, or tender touch. When he gave gifts, he always did it through a surrogate-- our first TV magically appeared in our living room, my first bike was delivered by a Sears van as I sat on the front lawn, my first gun--a .410 gauge shotgun--was handed down from him through the hands of my father. When he died, approximately six months after bringing Skippy into my life, I was not allowed to attend his funeral. Since when does a 9-year-old need closure?

At first, I resented the duties that came with owning a dog. When still a puppy, I attached a leash to his halter and swung him around in the back yard as if he were on a merry-go-round. But soon, Skippy became my trusted and loyal buddy.

On Columbus Day, 1961, I was sitting at my desk doing homework after school in my bedroom. I was 15 and a high school sophomore. Mom was the TV Editor for the Hutchinson [KS] News and hadn't yet come home. I heard Dad come in the front door and could tell something was wrong. Dad had found Skippy lying in the street dead, apparently hit by a car. His body was unmarked except for a tiny tear in his skin.

I could tell Dad was sorry for my pain. I asked him what we should do. He said we should find a spot to bury Skippy in the back yard.

Dad grabbed a shovel and I carried my dog as gently as my shaking arms would allow. We looked around for an appropriate place of internment. Somewhat baffled, Dad--who could have been the prototype for Jimmy Olsen of Superman fame--said, "Where can we bury that damn dog, anyway?" I had already steeled myself against showing one whit of emotion and his comment only steadied my resolve. We did agree on a final resting place and I placed Skippy into it, along with a piece of my heart.

I never owned another dog as long as I have lived. The pets I have had have not been of the type that one would describe as "cuddly". They were either reptiles or amphibians, except for one brief turn with a wounded baby squirrel.

Lately, as I have been giving more thought to the notion of once again being "in relationship", I ask myself, "What kind of person would I be happiest with?" It seems to me that the process is a lot more like selecting a breed of dog to purchase as a pet that some people might think. Am I looking for a guard dog, a lap dog, or a dog to play "fetch" with? Why, I ask myself, are most of my friends women? Why do the men I know mostly seem to be narcissists who talk only about themselves and NEVER ask a question about my life?

At the suggestion of a newly-acquired male friend, I took the online Enneagram Personality Test. I found out that I am a Type 2--The Helper. I am told "people of this type essentially feel that they are worthy insofar as they are helpful to others. Love is their highest ideal. Selflessness is their duty. Giving to others is their reason for being. Involved, socially aware, usually extroverted, Twos are the type of people who...go the extra mile to help out a co-worker, spouse or friend in need."

Not too bad an assessment, I would say. The description of a Type 2 goes on to say, "Two’s often develop a sense of entitlement when it comes to the people closest to them. Because they have extended themselves for others, they begin to feel that gratitude is owed to them. They can become intrusive and demanding if their often unacknowledged emotional needs go unmet."

I recoiled from this accusation upon first reading. The idea that I could become "intrusive and demanding" seemed like a ridiculous fantasy. But upon further contemplation, I had to admit that I do have "unmet emotional needs which go largely unacknowledged". The suddenness of this realization flooded over me like a loss every bit as painful as the death of a beloved pet.

Still, some men I know do engender a powerful resentment in me. These are the ones I labeled a bit ago as "narcissistic". The conversation is all about them with never a thought about me. This trait among the men I know is so pervasive as to explain why it is that I much prefer the company of women. It's not that I feel that "gratitude is owed to me" as much as I feel that I am an interesting person who deserves equal time. I don't think that is too much to ask of a friendship. If all I cared about was caring for and pampering the other, I would go out and buy a cat. Alternatively, I'll just have to learn how to extend myself less or be more open about verbalizing my own need for caring. Anybody know any Type 2’s out there?

© 18 August 2014



About the Author


I came to the beautiful state of Colorado out of my native Kansas by way of Michigan, the state where I married and I came to the beautiful state of Colorado out of my native Kansas by way of Michigan, the state where I married and had two children while working as an engineer for the Ford Motor Company. I was married to a wonderful woman for 26 happy years and suddenly realized that life was passing me by. I figured that I should make a change, as our offspring were basically on their own and I wasn't getting any younger. Luckily, a very attractive and personable man just happened to be crossing my path at that time, so the change-over was both fortuitous and smooth. Soon after, I retired and we moved to Denver, my husband's home town. He passed away after 13 blissful years together in October of 2012. I am left to find a new path to fulfillment. One possibility is through writing. Thank goodness, the SAGE Creative Writing Group was there to light the way.

Monday, November 20, 2017

I Don't Know, by Gilllian


For much of my life those words represented a huge challenge; no, actually more of an obsession. If I didn't know, I had to know. This, like so many things in so many lives, began in my teens. If teachers and parents and my high school library couldn't tell me what I wanted to know, I would schlep into town on the bus and visit the big library, where I would struggle to find books with answers via the Dewey decimal system. Remember all those long narrow wooden drawers packed with cards? Off I'd scuttle eagerly to the stacks. 427.88 might have the answer.

This need to know stayed with me throughout my adult life, though tempered somewhat by so many other demands on my time.

Now, those library searches a thing of the long past, the answer to each and every I don't know is, quite literally, at our finger tips. And that, in some strange way, has cured me of my obsession. Perhaps it's just too easy; no longer the challenge it once was. Or perhaps it's overload. In searching the web for the answer to one I don't know, I inevitably find innumerable answers to more I don't knows that I didn't even know I had. (Sorry, I'm sounding a bit like Dubya!) My ignorance, I have discovered, is infinite. Or perhaps I have learned that knowledge is nothing without understanding. Every I don't know may be answered, factually, but how much understanding of the subject has that conveyed to me?

In my old, and I would like to think at least a little wiser, age, I know that none of it matters. Yes, it's good to know things. It's even better to understand them. But the only really important knowledge and understanding is of myself and those I care for. And most of that will not come from Mr. Google, or even the library. It can only come from me.

Jerry Maguire, in the movie of that name, says,

“Hey, I don't have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I've failed as much as I've succeeded. But I love my wife. I love my life. And I wish you, my kind of successes."

And all I know for sure is my answer to those two most important questions - do you love your life, do you love your wife? - will never be, I don't know.

© July 2017


About the Author


I was born and raised in England. After graduation from college there, I moved to the U.S. and, having discovered Colorado, never left. I have lived in the Denver-Boulder area since 1965, working for 30 years at IBM. I married, raised four stepchildren, then got divorced after finally, in my forties, accepting myself as a lesbian. I have been with my wonderful partner Betsy for thirty years. We have been married since 2013.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Journal, by Betsy


“With pen in hand I write of our arduous journey from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to our new home in Niagara County, New York. A covered wagon is the conveyance for the family. The track is badly rutted. The journey will take a few weeks.”

These words are a facsimile of those written by my great, great, great, great grandmother Mary Hershe Long, who moved from Pennsylvania to Niagara County, New York in 1820. This is the oldest example of journaling in my family that I have in my possession. There are many, many other examples such as this and many, many stories that have been told over the years since this one.

Inasmuch as we have taken up this activity of story telling and particularly the topic of “journal” I have come to realize that the women in my family have been great journalists. I don’t mean we have professional journalists in my family. But we do have many women on my mother and my father’s side who have been inclined to write down things that were happening in their lives. Some only recorded the major events, others kept daily diaries of their comings and goings.

I am truly grateful to have the stories of my great grand father and his forebears who settled in the wilderness that was western New York state in the early years of the 19th century.

On the same side of the family, my mother’s, my grandmother did a lot of writing especially for a non-professional woman of her time. Her’s were not diaries per se, but rather narratives and poems describing mostly her grandchildren and other people she loved. For example, “Betsy’s Hanky:”

Bets has a little handkerchief
To wipe her little nose
And everywhere that Betsy runs
She’s sure the hanky goes.

She dusts the car—then wipes her face
She cleans her shoes with this wisp of lace
’Twill be the emblem of her place
And wipe away her woes.

I can learn some things about myself from these words as well as learning about my grandmother.

Another favorite is the story of the Drib Yoj bird and how she flew to the rescue of some very sad children and cheered them up. The Drib Yoj always flew forward, not backwards as her name might imply.

Some of these papers of my grandmother’s are elaborately illustrated. Her writings were all done by hand, of course, and never published. I am fortunate to be the owner of these manuscripts which I am carefully preserving in acid-free plastic protectors.

The same grandmother, Edith Rand, wrote a collection of poems which she had typed (on Rand Company type writers, I’m sure) and bound together into a booklet called “Selected Poems”. I knew my grandmother, but know her so much better having read her poetry. The woman clearly loved life and everything about it, she was full of love and gratitude for everything she had, although her life was not without tragedy.

On my father’s side my great grand mother Cecelia McConnell wrote volumes about her travels across the mid west in a covered wagon, a career teaching on Indian reservations, and her exploits as a political activist. I do not have any of her writings, but I do have numerous newspaper articles describing her experience returning to the east coast in 1938 via one of the first commercial passenger flights as she approached the age of 100 years.

Cecelia’s daughter-in-law, my grandmother, had a daily diary which I lent to my cousin about 25 years ago. In this journal she recorded her day to day activities. From it I learned that she was a very active woman, but the diary tells me very little of her feelings or outlook on life.

My oldest daughter is a prolific writer. As well as the books she has written about her field of study, she keeps a journal in which she records her deepest thoughts and feelings. She does not share her journal and I think regards the journaling as a very private activity strictly for her own benefit.

When I was in my teens I acquired, probably as a birthday gift, a book in which I could record my deepest thoughts and feelings—— or just my daily activities, or both. This diary has enough pages for five years of writing. It actually came with a key with which one could guarantee to keep it free of any prying eyes. I long ago lost the key but fortunately it was left unlocked so I could look and see what I was doing/ thinking/ feeling in my youth—not much, really: a typical entry

“Dear Diary,

School was okay today. After school I had my hair set for the Freshman Frolic…….

Audrey was not in school today. DARN!

“Dear Diary,

Today Mother and Marcy and I went to Morristown to get Easter stuff.”

Like I said—not much. Even if I did allow you, my friends, to look inside this journal, I guarantee you would not find one single word about my deepest, darkest secret. There are no words in here about my sexual orientation as the idea of confronting the subject had at the time not yet entered my consciousness.

On several occasions during my adult life I have attempted to record my deepest thoughts and feelings in a journal. I have actually 4 of these journals. In my later years right after I retired, I did write about some of my deepest thoughts and feelings—especially about coming out and being out. I have never managed to fill one of my journals, however, but it is interesting to take a look and be reminded of what I did and how I felt in past years.

I did a fair amount of writing in my job, so when I retired, writing of any kind did not have an immediate appeal.

As I later wrote in 2013 in a piece for this group called “One Monday Afternoon”

“The only writing I did (after retirement) was in our travel log as we journeyed here and there in our beloved VW camper van to many different parts of the U. S. “Mileage today was 350. Spent the night at Frigid Frosty Forest Service campground. Woke up to snow and froze our butts,” would be a typical entry into the journal.”

I have kept in storage all my diaries better known as appointment books since 1989, a habit I developed at work. If I need to know when something happened, I can look in there, but no deep thoughts or feelings can be found in my appointment books.

One day about twelve years into retirement Gill and I were presented with the opportunity to join a certain writing group at the LGBT Center.

“….a writing group? Creating a piece of writing EVERY week. Telling my story. That sounds like work to me. I’ll have to exercise my brain and delve into memories and emotional stuff of the past and present. Do I really want to do that? Writing. Much harder than talking or thinking or imagining. After all, I thought, writing my story I will have to finish my dangling thoughts as well as correcting my dangling participles. Do I really want to get into that?

That was six years ago. I had no idea I would get so much out of being a part of this group when I was considering whether or not to join.

…… there is tremendous value to me in documenting experiences I have had, feelings I now have or have had in the past, beliefs I hold dear; ie, documenting who I am. The process of telling one’s story is not always easy, but with practice it gets easier. How much value the stories have for anyone else I will never know. But I find it oddly comforting knowing that I am leaving them behind when I depart this life.

Finally I believe this activity of writing and telling our stories gives me a broader perspective of my own life--a perspective perhaps not otherwise attained and certainly a perspective not easily attained.

So my journal has become this collection of stories I have been sharing now weekly for six years. I feel quite satisfied that although it is not a journal in the traditional sense of the word, the pages do tell a story of who I am and what my life has meant to me and my loved ones. Maybe in their later years my great, great grand children, who will never live in my lifetime, or maybe even my grandchildren, who do know me even if only slightly, will want to read some of the stories to understand more about who their grandmother was just as I am fascinated to learn about those who came before me.

© 3 August 2017



About the Author


Betsy has been active in the GLBT community including PFLAG, the Denver Women’s Chorus, OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change), and the GLBT Community Center. She has been retired from the human services field for 20 years. Since her retirement, her major activities have included tennis, camping, traveling, teaching skiing as a volunteer instructor with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, reading, writing, and learning. Betsy came out as a lesbian after 25 years of marriage. She has a close relationship with her three children and four grandchildren. Betsy says her greatest and most meaningful enjoyment comes from sharing her life with her partner of 30 years, Gillian Edwards.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I Met a Fairy, by Ricky



I MET A FAIRY TODAY THAT SAID SHE WOULD GRANT ME ONE WISH.

"I want to live forever," I said.

"Sorry," said the fairy, "I'm not allowed to grant eternal life."

"Fine," I said, "Then, I want to die after Congress gets its head out of its ass!"

"You crafty bastard," said the fairy.

© 8 Apr 2012



About the Author


I was born in June of 1948 in Los Angeles, living first in Lawndale and then in Redondo Beach. Just prior to turning 8 years old in 1956, I began living with my grandparents on their farm in Isanti County, Minnesota for two years during which time my parents divorced.

When united with my mother and stepfather two years later in 1958, I lived first at Emerald Bay and then at South Lake Tahoe, California, graduating from South Tahoe High School in 1966. After three tours of duty with the Air Force, I moved to Denver, Colorado where I lived with my wife and four children until her passing away from complications of breast cancer four days after the 9-11 terrorist attack.

I came out as a gay man in the summer of 2010. I find writing these memories to be therapeutic.

My story blog is TheTahoeBoy.Blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Anxious Moments, by Ray S


Will I be the first of us to say, “My whole life has been one blinking anxious moment for as long as I can remember”?

Instead of my 2nd birthday party, it was the awakening to someone standing over my baby bed or crib and gently, I imagine, fondling the unknowing occupant. Some moment, and I too young to be anxious. The matter of anxiety about this moment didn’t materialize for some fifteen years later.

Meantime some other more routine moments developed and were overcome, such as fainting while the children’s choir I was a member of angelically sang the “Hallelujah Chorus” for some high holiday at an Episcopal Church that my 8th grade music teacher had recruited me for. Needless to say, I resigned choir and since our family didn’t frequent Sunday services, the Episcopalians lost a dubious potential convert. But I’m sure I looked cute in that choir uniform.

Many anxious moments transpired due to becoming a high school freshman and adjusting to the surprise divorce of my parents. So much for the nuclear family.

Age 17 and the Army and my discovery of boys and men instead of the fairer sex. College days, I was too unconscious to worry about studies, I just did what I was told to do and managed a mortar board and piece of sheepskin. But, the really anxious moments came when I was desperate to be accepted by a Greek club I needed, needed, needed. And then found out myself over my head when my then lady friend announced it was time for some sort of commitment about our, or her, intentions.

You’ve heard this one before, but this was my very own “A” moment, March 31st 1951, our wedding day and all I recall is my stomach kept telling me, “Do you really think you want to do this?”

For the following years there were many more anxious times: finding a career, raising two wonderful kids, trying to make love, trying to keep the closet door closed, etc., etc., etc.

Now, the family’s grown and gone, my good and I think suspecting wife passed on, and my awakening to how very many of my new gay friends shared similar stories. Were all of our anxious moments so bad or good? Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

© 12 June 2017


About the Author



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Workout, by Phillip Hoyle


I suppose we weren’t quite prepared for the mess although two summers ago Jim and I noticed the Honey Locust tree in the backyard was producing seedpods, a few of them. Last summer there were quite a few more. This summer the tree went crazy with its genetic demand to replicate and has produced hundreds of pods. They are not small, some measuring more than a foot in length and they hang in clusters of two to six. I thought them rather decorative like holiday ornaments. Our neighborhood squirrels showed up for the seasonal party and since the last week of August have gleefully begun their harvest.

If you know squirrels you realize they are as messy as teenagers, never cleaning up after themselves like the adolescent son in the comic strip Zits. I know about that because my daughter was one messy kid. Still is and so are her children. Luckily I don’t live nearby so I’m rarely irked by them. But the squirrels live here. They’re as cute as my grandkids and, like them, never give a thought about the consequences of their messes. The tree rats focus only on their preparation for the oncoming winter with its cold temperatures, snows, and otherwise harsh conditions that challenge rodent survival. I don’t blame them, but I do have to contend with what they leave behind. The squirrels live here and interest me. I watch and then grab the broom; my partner just gets mad.

A week ago Saturday I observed one of the three or four varmints who show up every day. She or he sat on a small branch harvesting. For twenty minutes the critter ate never having to prepare or even reach very far for its meal. She picked a pod, methodically removed the seeds, and dispensed with the rest. A pod landing on the clear plastic awning sounds like a low caliber rifle shot. The first hit was why I knew the squirrel was up there. I leaned back to watch. She chose a pod, worked it like I might an ear of corn except that she’d spit out the pod bites and keep only the seeds. When done in a few minutes or when she loses her grip, the pod falls. Bam. Then she may bite the stem of one of the compound leaves for a taste of something (perhaps flavoring) or strips off a bit of bark (her favorite) and then reaches for another pod. Perhaps due to my attention she soon jumped from that branch to another and disappeared from sight.

I began sweeping the patio a few days ago. Each day I pick up two or three hundred chewed-on pods and dump them by shovel fulls into the compost container. I tend to sweep when the sun gets low and the air begins to cool. The next morning reveals quite a few more pods on the patio, in flowering plants, sticker bushes, fountains, and on the awning. I hope this workout will be done before too many more days although I do get a bit of aerobic exercise and have improved my technique with the broom. But mostly I get a kick out of spotting our furry friends still at work high over head.

© 11 September 2017


About the Author


Phillip Hoyle lives in Denver and spends his time writing, painting, and socializing. In general he keeps busy with groups of writers and artists. Following thirty-two years in church work and fifteen in a therapeutic massage practice, he now focuses on creating beauty. He volunteers at The Center leading the SAGE program “Telling Your Story.”

He also blogs at artandmorebyphilhoyle.blogspot.com

Monday, November 13, 2017

Evil, by Pat Gourley


So just to be safe I might advise everyone sitting near me around the table to move to a safer space just in case. The reason for this is that I am beginning this piece on EVIL with a biblical quote and I would not want anyone to be smote by a lightning bolt on account of my atheist ass.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  James 4:17

Particularly in grades one through eight when I was most intensely in the clutches of the Catholic Church 24/7 it seemed I was steeped in the seemingly endless ways I could sin or do evil. There were two broad categories of sin as I recall, those of “commission” and then those of “omission”. Being a good little Catholic boy I went to confession usually twice a month with the focus of my confessing being almost entirely on my seemingly endless sins of commission. In hindsight it seems that the Church overly focused on actual transgressions rather than on the “omissions”. Or maybe this was a refection of my own internal turmoil generated by the difficulty and shame of confessing to cussing, fighting with siblings or disobeying my parents as opposed to confessing a lack of efforts to help the overseas Catholic Missions save heathen souls with my meager monetary allowance.

To be fair the Church did say that faith alone was not adequate, you need some good works to go along with it. To not perform these acts of goodwill I suppose could be construed as sins of omission. Though I do not remember the emphasis on omissions being nearly as strong as the admonition to keep my hands off of my dick and the resulting emissions.

And of course when I had reached my early adolescent years the thought of confessing to anyone that I was masturbating daily was simply out of the question. That I was thinking about men much older than I when I was engaged in this ‘transgressive commission” was truly beyond the pale, and so began a slow decline into being an agnostic and then a full-blown atheist. I guess playing with oneself is the root of all evil.

To once again quote Ken Wilber’s truthful bromide “no one is wrong 100% of the time” this seems the case for the Catholic Church’s teaching around sins of omission. As I age I realize that I actually commit very few sins but the issue of omission becomes much more relevant and something I am frequently guilty of.

Over the decades I have been attracted to Buddhism primarily the Zen variety. I find their views on good and evil to be a bit more dare I say sophisticated and in line with the complexity that is human behavior. I recently stumbled on a piece written on Good and Evil and posted on the Soka Gakkai International site: http://www.sgi.org/about-us/buddhism-in-daily-life/good-and-evil.html

A short quote from that piece I think has a rather uncomfortable truth to it:

“Every single human being is capable of acts of the most noble good and the basest evil”.

I am also reminded of Thich NhatHanh wonderful poem, Please Call Me By My True Names, and the amazing stanza:

“ I am the twelve year old girl,
refugee on a small boat
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate
My heart not yet capable
Of seeing and loving.”

So for me these days I think I am guilty of sins of omission when I am not actively engaging in resistance hopefully through acts of compassion. This does not necessarily only involve political actions, which can have merit but also present traps of their own. Acting compassionately and politically at the same time is often a challenge.

For me it is a sin of omission to not be out marching and demonstrating and certainly not voting. The sins of omission I currently am guilty of though most often involve rather mundane day-to-day activities.

I need to engage more with some of the homeless I encounter daily maybe give them a few bucks, or call a friend for lunch or reach out to an old buddy trying to contact me on Facebook. Perhaps help an older friend get moved out of his apartment or get off my ass and write something and then just show up at Story Telling to listen to what everyone has to share.

© June 2017



About the Author


I was born in La Porte, Indiana in 1949, raised on a farm and schooled by Holy Cross nuns. The bulk of my adult life, some 40 plus years, was spent in Denver, Colorado as a nurse, gardener and gay/AIDS activist. I have currently returned to Denver after an extended sabbatical in San Francisco, California.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Plumage, by Nicholas

          I like scarves. I like to wear them and I like seeing them worn by other people. Scarves are both fashionable and practical. They can provide warmth and protection against the elements on a cold, blustery day. They can also provide an elegant touch of color, a bit of flair with a swath of fabric flung around your neck and over a shoulder. And they can make statements about who you are and even what side you take.


          I’m always surprised how much warmth a scarf can provide when wrapped around my neck on a winter’s day. It’s an extra layer of protection against the wind. It feels cozy and snuggly and shelters some exposed skin. The winter scarves I have are light wool and are burgundy and purple. They’re long enough to completely wrap them around me. I have another yellow scarf that my mother knitted for me years ago but I rarely wear it because I keep it more as a memento of her.

          Scarves can also make statements—fashion statements and political statements. Scarves can be gay when a man wears one that is colorful and elegant. It can bring a feminine touch to your wardrobe. I wear a blue and gold silk scarf sometimes and I have a fuchsia and black scarf that I wear just for decoration. The secret to always being fashionable, they say, is to accessorize. Scarves can be so gay.

          Political statements are also made through scarves. Certain scarves in certain colors on certain days often convey symbolic political sentiments. I own a scarf that is checkered red and black which might be taken for a Middle Eastern keffiyeh, the checkered headdress worn by many Palestinians and adopted by some non-Palestinians as a gesture of solidarity. I didn’t buy it for that. In fact, the resemblance didn’t occur to me until much later when I realized there could be political overtones to my new fashion accessory. But then I doubt a Palestinian warrior would wear my pinkish-red scarf anywhere. It’s not their style.

          My favorite scarves are not actually scarves at all but can be worn as such. They are these bright pieces of plumage from Renaissance Italy. These are actually flags or banners representing the different neighborhoods of Siena. Each banner—with different colors, animals (both mythical and real), wild patterns of stripes and daggers of color, and patron saints displayed—symbolically represents one of the 17 districts of the old medieval city.

These banners are used by neighborhood teams competing in the annual horse race, called the Palio, held since the 15th century (and still held) each summer in the huge piazza in the center of town. Of course, the three-day event is more than one horse race. Much pageantry and pomp goes along with it, including parades with these banners carried by people in equally flamboyant Renaissance costumes of tight leotards, puffy sleeves and very bright colors.

So, wearing a scarf can be more than putting on an accessory to highlight a color, more than showing your support for a sports team, and more than just bundling up against the cold. Scarves have become yet another way humans have concocted to say something in a world that might not be paying much attention anyway. A scarf is a flag to wave.

©  March 2015 

About the Author 

Nicholas grew up in Cleveland, then grew up in San Francisco, and is now growing up in Denver. He retired from work with non-profits in 2009 and now bicycles, gardens, cooks, does yoga, writes stories, and loves to go out for coffee.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hooves by Louis Brown


(1) The Mongol hordes: their great skill with horses made them successful conquerors.

(2) The four horsemen of the Apocalypse: death, famine, war and conquest. (Emily Dickinson: “Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.) in a horse-drawn carriage.

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality.

We slowly drove — He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility —

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess — in the Ring —
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain —
We passed the Setting Sun —

Or rather — He passed Us —
The Dews drew quivering and Chill —
For only Gossamer, my Gown —
My Tippet — only Tulle —

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground —
The Roof was scarcely visible —
The Cornice — in the Ground —

Since then — 'tis Centuries — and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity — 


Theme: Do not be afraid of death. (“A Narrow Fellow in the Grass”)

(3) The age of chivalry in medieval Europe: Lancelot, King Arthur, Perceval, Sir Galahad and Ivanhoe, all rode horses to their glory.

(4) My Presbyterian friend has a daughter who raises horses in Kentucky.

(5) Pegasus and the Roman Centaurs.

(6) Mr. Ed (talking horse on TV).

(7) The Denver Broncos.

(8) Mustang is the name of gay porno company. Don’t know if it is still in business.

[For Halloween]

A narrow Fellow in the Grass Occasionally rides - You may have met Him? Did you not His notice instant is- The Grass divides as with a Comb - A spotted shaft is seen, And then it closes at your Feet And opens further on - He likes a Boggy Acre - A Floor too cool for Corn - But when a Boy and Barefoot I more than once at Noon Have passed I thought a Whip Lash Unbraiding in the Sun When stooping to secure it It wrinkled And was gone - Several of Nature's People

I know, and they know me I feel for them a transport Of cordiality But never met this Fellow, Attended or alone Without a tighter Breathing And Zero at the Bone.

© 9 October 2017

About the Author


I was born in 1944, I lived most of my life in New York City, Queens County. I still commute there. I worked for many years as a Caseworker for New York City Human Resources Administration, dealing with mentally impaired clients, then as a social work Supervisor dealing with homeless PWA's. I have an apartment in Wheat Ridge, CO. I retired in 2002. I have a few interesting stories to tell. My boyfriend Kevin lives in New York City. I graduated Queens College, CUNY, in 1967.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What Makes Homophobes Tick? by Lewis Thompson

The easy answer to this query would be that "homophobe" means "a person with an irrational or obsessive fear of homosexuals", according to Wikipedia. But it would be important to dig a little beneath the surface to examine not only where the "irrational or obsessive fear" arises from but also why it seems to persist over many years.

Any American born in the last century almost certainly spent their formative years being inculcated with certain "inalienable truths". Among these were--

* To be white is better than to be a person of color;

* To be male is better than to be female;

* To be a female is better than to be a male who wants to become a female (if a female wants to become a male, well, who can blame them?);

* To be rich is better than to be poor;

* To be rich and a crook is also better than being poor;

* To be a Christian is better than to be a non-Christian;

* To be a non-Christian is better than to be an atheist;

* To be an atheist is better than being a homosexual because, at least usually, you're not an embarrassment to your relatives;

* To be conservative is better than being liberal (because all of the Founding Fathers were conservative, otherwise, they would never have written the Second Amendment);

* To be black, female, liberal, a non-believer, and gay is the worst thing that can possibly happen to a person and they surely should be imprisoned at birth and executed as soon as their politics, non-believer status, and sexual orientation become manifest.

So, we can readily comprehend that homophobia is the natural outgrowth of a society based upon gender, race, religious and countless other biases. It is endemic, almost akin to fluoridated water, which, as we all know, was responsible for the rise of the John Birch Society.

© January 12, 2015



About the Author


I came to the beautiful state of Colorado out of my native Kansas by way of Michigan, the state where I married and I came to the beautiful state of Colorado out of my native Kansas by way of Michigan, the state where I married and had two children while working as an engineer for the Ford Motor Company. I was married to a wonderful woman for 26 happy years and suddenly realized that life was passing me by. I figured that I should make a change, as our offspring were basically on their own and I wasn't getting any younger. Luckily, a very attractive and personable man just happened to be crossing my path at that time, so the change-over was both fortuitous and smooth. Soon after, I retired and we moved to Denver, my husband's home town. He passed away after 13 blissful years together in October of 2012. I am left to find a new path to fulfillment. One possibility is through writing. Thank goodness, the SAGE Creative Writing Group was there to light the way. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Eyes of Love, by Gillian


The only living creature who actually looks upon a human through the eyes of love surely has to be the dog. The first time I was married we had a dog who gazed at me with what I saw, anyway, as pure adoration. His eyes glowed, his mouth smiled and his long wet tongue lolled down below his chin.

'How come you never look at me like that?' I asked my husband one day.

From that day on I would occasionally glance towards him only to find him staring at me in a weird glassy- and bug-eyed way, his head on one side and his mouth half open and his tongue hanging out but far from reaching his chin. He did it from hands and knees on the floor to rolling around on the lawn. 'A' for effort but it was no good. It fell way short of canine idolatry. I have never asked Betsy to give it a try.

Of course, the expressions we see in animals' faces are purely our interpretations. Maybe that doggie worship that we see simply means something like, where the hell's my dinner? Maybe when the cat who owns you reduces your ego to the size of a pea with that look of pure disdain, she is really thinking how very wonderful you are; but I seriously doubt it!

In many parts of the world we humans put great stock in eye contact. How good we are at interpreting what we see in another's eyes, though, is questionable. On occasion I really am seeing my Beautiful Betsy through the eyes of love, simply enjoying watching her every move as she plants the petunias, and she will suddenly say, very suspiciously,

'What? Why are you staring at me like that? Did you want me to plant these somewhere else?'

Not long ago I read a story about a young man who, I was convinced, kept looking at me with the eyes of love - well, maybe not quite, perhaps infatuation or at least lust - until he confessed that my fascination for him was simply that I reminded him so much of his mother!

But seriously, being regarded through the eyes of love is a truly beautiful thing; one of the greatest gifts in life. A longtime friend of mine, a woman without a partner in life and no children or siblings, said, when her mother died not long after her father,

'Now there's no-one left to look at me with love.'

I thought it one of the saddest things I have ever heard. We all need to be looked upon through the eyes of love. I was going to continue, in fact we all, down to the meanest of us, deserve it.

Perhaps Eva Braun even looked at Hitler that way. But visions of the Orange Ogre leapt into my head and no, I'm sorry, everyone does not deserve it.

The best of all, though, is looking out through your own eyes with love. I cannot, or I choose not to, imagine a world in which I have no-one and nothing on whom or which to gaze with love. And you know the best thing about that? It is one of very few things that are completely within my own control. No-one can take it from me. I cannot force anyone to look upon me through the eyes of love, but how I look out through my own eyes is completely up to me. Should I ever be left alone, bereft of anyone I perceive as loving me, as my friend felt herself to be, I hope I can continue to see many of those around me through my own eyes of love. And failing that, surely I can still fall back upon the love for all things, both animate and inanimate, that I so valuably learned from my family as a child. There is always a flower, a rock, raindrops and snowflakes. When I can no longer look through the eyes of love, I guess it will be time to go.

© June 2017


About the Author

I was born and raised in England. After graduation from college there, I moved to the U.S. and, having discovered Colorado, never left. I have lived in the Denver-Boulder area since 1965, working for 30 years at IBM. I married, raised four stepchildren, then got divorced after finally, in my forties, accepting myself as a lesbian. I have been with my wonderful partner Betsy for thirty years. We have been married since 2013.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bicycle Memories, by Betys


I now know I had a trike. I have a photo of it. But I don’t recall it. The first bicycle I can remember that was mine was a blue probably Schwinn with big old fat tires. When I grew to be old enough to ride out of my neighborhood, I went everywhere on that vehicle: to school, to the store, on “bike hikes” on the week ends with my friends. One day I was riding down a small hill on Morris Avenue. I got going very fast—too fast really— the handlebar began to shake back and forth Before I knew it I was out of control. At the bottom of the hill was a roundabout—right in front of my dentist’s office. I hit the curb of the roundabout and flew into the shrubbery in the middle. Next thing I knew I was in my mother’s car on the way to the surgeon’s office. My dentist, Dr. Bienville, had seen the accident from his window and went running to save me. He carried me into his office and called my mother who took me to the doctor. I suppose he checked my teeth first. I only suffered a nasty cut on my face which the surgeon did a great job of stitching up. I still have a scar which is barely discernible now 70 years later. I sure loved that blue bike, but it was never again ridable.

When my children were 2,4, and 6, we went to the Netherlands to live for two and a half years. As is the case for the Dutch people, bicycles were our main mode of transportation in the crowded streets of that country. In the 1960’s I had never seen child carriers for bicycles in the United States. But they were as prevalent as tulips in Holland. All kinds. Between the two of us my husband and I could easily carry our 3 children about on bikes with no problem. Safety was not so much of a consideration back then. No one wore a helmet, not even did we put them on our children’s heads. I suppose some heads had to be sacrificed before anyone thought of using helmets. One of our favorite weekend activities was riding our bicycles on the ever present paved paths through the Dutch sand dunes, one of the few undeveloped natural places in the Netherlands.

Back in the U.S. in the 70’s and in Denver, I didn’t own a bicycle. But we were able to remain a one car family for many years because Bill, my husband, used his bicycle to commute the two or so miles to work every day rain or shine.

It was not until the late 1980’s that I started cycling again—riding to work and around town on errands.

In 1986 I took my first long distance bicycle trip with my daughter and her boy friend both in college at the time. Still no helmets to be seen. There were bicycle shops but they only housed bicycles and parts—no paraphernalia of any kind—no spandex cycling shorts with padded crotch, no handlebar mounted computers to tell you how fast you were going, how far you had gone, all meteorological info you could possibly need, what day and time it was, and your location coordinates—none of the accessories we see in the shops today.

But that cycling trip around western New York state, and the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania was a wonderful and memorable adventure for me. I think that’s when I became hooked on cycling.

In the 1990’s now an out and proud lesbian, I bought a blue Fuji and rode the MS 150, a 150 mile ride from Denver to Pueblo and back to raise funds for the MS Foundation. This ride is not a race, but many riders joined teams for the purpose of training, socializing, and supporting each other on the ride. Early on I found myself joining the “Motley Spokes team.” The competition was about raising money, not riding fast.

During these years I pedaled several charitable rides in various parts of the country and met many wonderful people. I have been very lucky as well as I have many times been able to bring my own personal sag support with me. Gill has always been willing— actually she has mostly wanted to come along (not on a bicycle) to satisfy her wanderlust. Unfortunately sometimes she becomes engrossed in her own bird watching, wildlife viewing, picture taking activities and is distracted from her duties as a sag support. She tends to turn her phone off so as not to disturb the wildlife—not helpful to a stranded cyclist. Once riding in North Dakota in a vast open area with no one in sight, the sky turned black and looked ominous. “I wonder where Gill is, I said to myself.” “This looks like tornado weather.” Two hours later I arrived at the town that was our destination for the day, but I was a bit scared, I must admit. And there she was. No bad weather where she had been. Just tons of birds.

My best cycling experience and most memorable was across the southern tier of the United States from Pacific to Atlantic. This was a two month, 3800 mile fully supported tour with a company called Womantours. That was in 2005. This trip has provided me with endless material for story time. Most of you have heard some of my ramblings about this particular adventure. And I suppose I will continue to refer to it as long as I am telling stories.

I have loved my bicycling experiences and the memories they have provided. I guess that’s why I love a bicycle trip. It’s always an adventure. And I love adventure.

© 30 May 2016



About the Author

Betsy has been active in the GLBT community including PFLAG, the Denver Women’s Chorus, OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change), and the GLBT Community Center. She has been retired from the human services field for 20 years. Since her retirement, her major activities have included tennis, camping, traveling, teaching skiing as a volunteer instructor with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, reading, writing, and learning. Betsy came out as a lesbian after 25 years of marriage. She has a close relationship with her three children and four grandchildren. Betsy says her greatest and most meaningful enjoyment comes from sharing her life with her partner of 30 years, Gillian Edwards.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Elder Words, by Ricky


I believe that everyone would agree what the word “Words” means. I don't guess that there is another meaning. But the word “Elder” has several possible meanings depending upon spelling and the context in which it is used. So, that being said, lets explore this topic of “Elder Words”.

In general, “elder” implies age, but in the Mormon church capital “E” Elder denotes a male 19 years of age or above who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood. So, their words could convey mundane meanings or specific religious messages as in, “I baptize you in the name of . . .,” etc. The title is used in other religions as well for similar or the same purpose.

So, perhaps it boils down to the degree of “age” in which the term “elder” is appropriate within different cultures. For example, in the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the word is used to designate the most senior (as in most powerful) magic wand, the Elder Wand. The word “senior” is a synonym for “elder” which category would include: old, ancient, adult, and grownup. Another thing about this word is that it can also be used as a proper noun as a “stand alone” name or even part of a name; as in the John Wayne movie, “The Sons of Katy Elder” and “Elderberry” as in bushes and wine.

As we are not met this day to discuss the merits of movies or to relax with a glass of Elderberry wine or listen to sermons by Elder Berry, I will present for your enjoyment, boredom, or discomfort my take on the topic of Elder Words. Be forewarned, this topic is sometimes rather depressing so I will pause briefly so anyone can take an anti-depressant or you can tough it out without one. I guarantee there will be a happy ending, however sad the journey to get there.

As one moves through life from younger to not so younger and thereby gain a life time collection of experiences speaking with those persons who either preceded or are following down the path of destiny, we have the opportunity to reflect on, ponder, skim through, or try to remember those conversations and what they may have meant or done to us.

As a potential elder everyone has one or more embarrassing words moments that parents like to recall at family gatherings. Words like, “Mom, my urine is runny.” Embarrassing words may not become embarrassing words until after the fact, as in, “I don't want to go get it because I might break it.”, then after 4-minutes a loud crash is heard in the school hallway.

And then there are words spoken by children before they become self-sufficient: “I want. . .”; “Can I have. . .”; “Will you buy this for me?”. Sadly, sometimes these words are re-spoken by those same children after they become senior citizens. At that time, the now elder is often told by his now grownup children: “You can't watch TV until you eat all your dinner.”; “No, it's too dangerous for someone your age.”; “It costs too much.”; “You don't need that.”; “You can't have ice cream. Have some yogurt instead.”; “It's your bedtime.”; “I don't have time to drive you everywhere you want to go.”; “I'm not made of money you know.”; “You want to have a party while we're gone for the weekend! Do you think we're crazy?” Those are the moments that make an elder think weird thoughts of the type, “Oh crap! My children have become me! Now I'm in real trouble.”

Sometimes parents deliberately create “embarrassing words” moments for their children, as in these words said over an external CB loud speaker while stopped at a large intersection in Salt Lake City; “Don't touch me there Ricky, until we get home.”

Potential elders also get elder words of advice as they grow: “Don't eat that from the floor.”; “Just say 'NO'!”; “Do yourself a favor and . . .”; “You get what you pay for.”; “When you go to the chicken coop, just kick the rooster away like I do.”; “Please do me a favor, when you visit grand-elder, don't be noisy or demanding because grand-elder tires easily.”; and the ever popular, “Don't lie to me again.”

Then there are elder work-related words. Some of which we never wanted to hear: “You're fired!”; “Get me your supervisor.”; “All you public servants are ass holes!”; “Touch your finger tips to your nose.”; “Assume the position.”; “You have the right to remain silent and I suggest you use it. You long-hair hippie freak.”

Of course there are also hateful elder words like: “I'll make a man out of you.”; “It's my way or the highway.”; “You're no son of mine.”; and “I want no homos in my house. Get out and don't come back!”

Now let us consider the words of the Eldest of all. His guidance to us is to “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Over time this Elder's advice is often quoted as, “Honor your father and mother” but the reason is seldom given. Now in our time it has been shortened again to the simple but less powerful, “respect your elders” or “respect your parents.” These smacks of a dictatorial demand of parents but again lacking any explanation as to why that should be done. It often boils down to those famous but unsatisfying elder words, “Because I told you so.”

Now as most parents and other observant elders know by either personal or sad experience, requests, demands, or procedures that don't have logical, reasonable, or plausible explanations as to the “why” something is a procedure, request, or demand will cause different levels of irritation in children. Irritation leads to frustration. Frustration leads to resentment. Resentment leads to suppressed anger. Suppressed anger leads to a rebellious attitude. A rebellious attitude leads to a conflict of words (if you are lucky and violence if you are not). A conflict of words results in elder words like: “Are you stupid or something?”; “Don't sass me.”; “Don't talk back to me.”; “If you say that word again I'll wash your mouth out with soap.”; (Mother to son, “Don't talk to me like that. You just wait 'til you father comes home.”); (Father to son—after coming home, “Never talk to your mother like that again.”); (Father to son—double standard, “Don't talk to me like that you little shit. Go get my belt!”)

There are elder words that are not generally spoken out loud but, nonetheless, pass through the consciousness of elder and younger minds. “Can I afford it?” “I can't afford it, but I'm buying it anyway.” “Does he/she like/love me?” “How will I survive on only social security.” “Oh crap, I don't remember his/her name.” “I think I'm losing my mind.” “Am I bi or gay?” Etc.

Taken as a whole, all these elder words paint a rather dismal portrait of the language of elders. I believe that over our life-time we elders have learned too many of the wrong words and not enough of the right words and how to use them.

In my experience, all grandparents have a special brand of English elder words for their grandchildren. I've even used this language myself recently and will again this week. I will now show you how I use it to communicate with my grandchild. “Schmooch, Schmooch, do you have a kiss for grandpa?” (With finger rubbing closed lips) “Blubb, blubb, blubb.” “Open wide. Yum, yum.” “Yea! (clap, clap, clap).” “Pppppst on the tummy.” “Psssst with tongue.” “Putt, putt, putt” with lips. “(blow a kiss).” “No, you can't eat my cell phone.” And, “Don't eat that from the floor.” That one seems to be universally contained within all cultures.

When the time comes I'll add these elder words also: “Hi. Grandpa is here. I brought you a present.”; “Here is a cookie, but don't let your mom see it or tell her I gave it to you.”; “Your bedtime is 9:00 but I'll let you stay up until 10:00 as long as you don't tell anyone.”; and “Let's sneak out and go get ice cream.”

Elder words that are relatively rarely spoken: “Let me show you a better way to do this.”; “Wow. You did that really well.”; “Am I doing it right?”; “How can I do it better?”; “Let's go play catch.”; “Why don't you invite 2 or 3 friends and we'll go to a movie.”; “Yes, I'm busy but I will always make time for you.”; “Do you want to talk about it?”; “Hey, I've got this extra $5 bill you can have with your allowance this week.”; “Where do you want to go on vacation this summer?”; “Yes dear. I'd love for your mother to come visit.”; “Yes, you can invite your friends over for a party. What do you want for snacks?”; “How do you feel about . . .?”; “You're so smart.”; “You’re so bright, I'm gonna change your name to Sunny.”; “Can I help you with your chores?”; and, “No dear. Nothing you wear makes you look fat.”

The topic of elder words would not be complete without the words that are never ever said enough to anyone, “I love you.”

© 2015



About the Author

I was born in June of 1948 in Los Angeles, living first in Lawndale and then in Redondo Beach. Just prior to turning 8 years old in 1956, I began living with my grandparents on their farm in Isanti County, Minnesota for two years during which time my parents divorced.

When united with my mother and stepfather two years later in 1958, I lived first at Emerald Bay and then at South Lake Tahoe, California, graduating from South Tahoe High School in 1966. After three tours of duty with the Air Force, I moved to Denver, Colorado where I lived with my wife and four children until her passing away from complications of breast cancer four days after the 9-11 terrorist attack.

I came out as a gay man in the summer of 2010. I find writing these memories to be therapeutic.

My story blog is TheTahoeBoy.Blogspot.com