This is a Megabus, seen from the upper deck pretty far back. It’s heading from Fayetteville, NC to Durham NC, just after dark Saturday December 7, 2019. This ride finished up a long and full day for me.
The day started with a chilly sunny gathering at the cemetery of the VA hospital in Fayetteville. I joined in with nine other stalwarts huddled around the grave marker for Beryl Mitchell, for the 12th in a series of annual outdoor gatherings.
Beryl Mitchell, has been here since 1974. That December she was murdered by her Army Green Beret husband on Fort Bragg, and she lay here in an unmarked grave until 2007. (More about Beryl Mitchell & her tragic end here.
That autumn, Beryl’s daughter, Christine Horne, called me at Quaker House in Fayetteville, asking for help with planning a proper memorial for her mother, including the placement of a formal marker. In turn, I asked for help from the kick-butt feminists of the Fayetteville Chapter of National Organization for Women, and we did help. They are a remarkable group, and have been for decades, (They were social justice warriors long before SJW was cool.)
At the conclusion of the memorial, a group of us gathered at the new marker with a wreath and released a bunch of lavender helium balloons.
The whole experience, while very solemn at one level, was also exhilarating for us all. And we decided that those of us who could, would regather there yearly and remember Beryl, and the many other victims of domestic violence against women, both generally and especially in connection with the military.
I missed this meetup the last two years, and was determined to be there this time. It was a bigger deal for me to get there now, due to health problems which prevent me from driving, along with the general complications of life. But I made it. (That’s me holding the round NOW sign.)
Also there, with other old friends it was wonderful to see again, was my particular buddy Debbie. (She’s in the middle, in the black tee shirt with the peace sign, and the windblown hair. It was cold.)
From the cemetery we went to a leisurely lunch, and then Debbie took me to her house to chill for awhile until the Durham bus was due. On the way, though, she made a detour to a friend’s place where an acquaintance had rescued a possum with pups, and asked Debbie to add it to a menagerie in her mini-wildlife preserve/backyard, which she was glad to do.
Debbie has lived on the outskirts of Fayetteville for decades, on a sprawling lot with many trees, with her husband Chuck (that’s Chuck Liebers, not to be confused with Chuck Fager). They’ve raised several kids there, who are all out of the house now.
Debbie is relieved to have the children elsewhere, but she’s hardly finishing raising things . Besides a flock of chickens, a couple of dogs, cats here & there), there’s now the brood of possums (their preferred cuisine, even the little ones, she tells me, is raw chicken wings, of which they eat every bit).
Debbie has also raised considerable hell hereabouts: domestic violence is but one of her many issues. We’ve already seen her concern about domestic violence, and there’s lots more; we’ll mention a couple presently.
Indeed, one appeared not long after my arrival, when I looked up at a TV screen as we settled in what she calls the Daddy Shack, and saw this brand new report:
I thought at first I might be hallucinating, but others (and my camera) confirmed that it was for real.
Well, with politics out of the bag, and those of us remaining confirmed liberals, I also showed them this new ad, the first “Liz-mas Carol,” which is rapidly going viral, and, regardless of candidate preference, I think is hilarious:
— André J. Washington (@AndreJuwaan) November 30, 2019
In fact, by Saturday night, there was a second “Lizmas Carol” up, which you can see here to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” if you want additional guffaws. (Speaking of Saturday Night, the highly paid SNL crew will be very hard-pressed to produce more laughs in its cold open than 45 and the Lizmas Carolers did today, likely both for free. UPDATE: They flunked.)
Anyway, if there was any doubt, finding a new occupant for the White House is tops on Debbie’s agenda; there’s no getting around it, but we won’t dwell on it here.
As the clock swept toward time to go, I strolled around Debbie’s back yard to get ready. And I kept seeing very interesting stuff. Like this sign & shrine, with its cat-headed Buddha turning his back on a ringing endorsement of science. Debbie used to be a churchgoer, but she quit a few years back, and says she feels “much more spiritual” now.
Debbie’s place is something of a hoarder’s stronghold, but one which includes a developed, if freewheeling sense of design. The camera came out again when I spied an old wringer washer posing amid a copse of bamboo, it joined the lineup.
When I turned, Debbie’s board fence was revealed to be home for a display for loads of more or less antique tools.
Then a section of the back wall . . .
. . . caught my eye, as it had been made another shrine of sorts, melding sun gods with a slogan tree.
There was lots more, but no more time; Megabus called. I’m sorry I missed the sign at the end of the driveway advertising eggs for $3 a dozen hard-gathered from Debbie’s pampered poultry flock. I need to ride the bus back soon and get another array of photos. I puttered over these most of the way back on the bus, shown here passing under the neon bridge that marks entry to downtown Durham . . . .
. . . All this kaleidoscope seemed to flow together naturally somehow, a day beginning with death, segueing into conviviality, which showed up politics as having crazy comedic aspects, and down-home art all around. Hope your weekend turns out as well.