Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Shining my light on those who roil me

Light, pastel + paint on paper
She’d been kind enough to share the swim lane with me. After I’d dashed off my laps, we struck up a conversation. We each learned the reason why the other swims. We each shared our wounds. That’s sacred to me. 

And then, she waved her arm around the pool and said, “We shouldn’t have to do any of this. The government, I mean the FULL government is forcing the vaccine on people. That’s illegal, against the constitution.” 

I was taken a bit aback. Fumbling, I mustered, “You have a choice. No one is being forced. I did it for the greater good. I think we may be at opposite ends on this, but it’s good to talk and get a different perspective.” 

“It’s not a choice. Kids are told they have to get vaccinated to go to college.” 

“They can choose not to go, may not be the best choice, but it is a choice,” I offered. 

“People are dying of the vaccine, haven’t you read the case reports?” 

“Yes. I have and for almost all, there was an underlying condition such as the person was under hospice care or had cardiology issues,” I retorted, trying to stay calm and engaged. 

“Well, there’s the father and his son in the hospital dying from the vaccine,” she said. 

“And the millions who have died of Covid?” With that dropping from my lips, she swam away, to the other side of the lane divider. 

After I dried off and re-masked, I walked closer to her and said I was glad to have met her. She told me to have a good day. I saw her drive away in an SUV with waving flags, a Trump sign and messages I couldn’t read from the distance soaped on the windows. 

I just don’t get it. I was trying to be open, yet I can see just in writing this dialogue that I countered her point by point. Why is it enough of a divide that someone would walk away? I wanted a conversation. It seems she wanted to be right and force me to agree. 

It’s stifling feeling unheard, especially when I am listening. 

Sunday at Quaker worship, I got a little attitude adjustment. The message was that God doesn’t mete out justice as we would. Galileans did not die in a terrible accident because they were worse sinners, Jesus tells those who believe that to be the truth. 

        “… do you think they were more guilty than all the others living

        in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too

        will all perish.” 

And then I thought about the God I know who is constant and unconditional and whom I understood better after becoming a parent. We are each a child of God, loved equally. 

Our minister redefined the word repent as rethink. I’ve arrived at the definition as a re-direction. So I am attempting to hold this encounter in a new light. On one level, I could say I am right and she is wrong or stretch it to she has her beliefs and I have mine, which is pretty much where I was during this experience. Can I take the next step? What is it? To see her as a lovable child of God and shower her with the empathy and compassion I reserve for the marginalized. 

I do believe deep in my being that we are called to love each other and that may be the crux for me.  I have a passion for the marginalized and very much feel Jesus’ calling in this manner. But the haves and those who marginalize roil me. I don’t want to like them, let alone love them.  

So I try to peel back the layers and see the fear that lurks behind the obstacles to compassion. Often there’s a fear of losing something or begrudgement that someone has gotten something they have not. Sometimes, unquestioned conditioning. It seems to me to almost always be a lack and, perhaps, a projection on others or by making someone “other” to make up for it. In my understanding, God’s world is not black and white, I don’t have because they do, I am right and they are wrong, I deserve it but they don’t. 

God’s world is, as my spiritual shaman says, “a constellation of color.” God’s kingdom, which I believe is the present and not something to tick off the good works for later, makes room for all, even me and those with whom I struggle. Maybe if I can remind myself of that, even when I can not fathom another’s point of view, I will grow my own compassion and, in modeling, help another see more of their light. At the very least, I can shine my light on them. 

Perhaps the call for transformation is for me, not them. 


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Pulling the trigger

I was nine when the Rev. Martin Luther King was gunned down, yet I understood the wrongness. Wrongness in a time of many wrongs and deaths: JFK; RFK; Malcolm X; the Viet Nam War. But a man of peace, a minister for God’s sake? A man simply doing as Jesus would to free his marginalized people. And peacefully. [Not to diminish the inhumanity of the other killings.]

I was younger still when two very Black, very beautiful women came to our house for dinner in a Chicago suburb. They were part of our church’s exchange program. My sister and I were enthralled with them and stories of their home in Africa. It was a rare and treasured experience, imparting that even though we differ, we all love and laugh the same. As kids, skin color did not matter. Yes, we noticed, but we weren’t judging. Decades later, my father told me that the banker down the street with whom he walked to the commuter train scolded him and demanded he never bring a person of color into our neighborhood again. That really pissed my dad off; I can only imagine his response.

About that time, my parents initiated another cultural swap with an Hispanic girl, just a little older than my twin and me. We loved Martha when she would stay weekends with us or, better yet, when we visited her welcoming, inner-city brownstone filled with siblings and multiple generations, color, spices, exotic foods and smells. One of the prized possessions I uncovered cleaning out my parents’ condo recently was an address label for Martha. She had existed! No one had mentioned her in years and I’d wondered if I’d made her up. How brave she must’ve been to come alone.

In second grade, I befriended Helen, who was not a person of color, but required an aide in our classroom. She was an outcast, sitting off to the side, alone at recess and lunch except for her adult helper. She had outbursts and, likely, today would have been diagnosed, treated and mainstreamed. She attended my birthday party, probably the only invitation she received. I loved Helen’s energy. I loved her. We were friends. We all paid attention when she ran into the street and was struck by a car. I often wonder if, in this act, she was seeking the attention she lacked. Had group behavior triggered her? 

There was a handful of Black kids in my suburban, white school system. I was friendly, but I can’t say any were close friends. Now, I wonder how they felt, being such a small number and mostly living in particular portions of town. One brave soul, Stacy Mitchart, now a recognized Blues Man in Nashville, crossed the racial divide for the love of music. He always hung with the kids of color not because he would gain anything, but because he loved making music with talented musicians. He often played with another now-famous musician, drummer Eddie Hedges of Blessid Union of Souls. Yeah, I went to school with them! They were a model of bridging the racial divide. I’m not even sure they saw one. Music was their bridge. I paid attention, filing their courage away for future reference when I would become more socially aware.

In high school, I worked at Kings Island with two young men I adored, both Black. I had been grounded except for eating after work with my friends, but we were late one night and I knew my mom would be steaming. Robert immediately jumped out of the car to walk me to the door and tell my mom it was his fault. It wasn’t and he had no idea how my mom would react as a Black teen walking a white female to the door of her affluent, white suburb. He didn’t flinch. My mom was very cordial, as I knew she would be, to him. I got a talking-to regarding my lateness after the door closed.

In college I had some Black friends on the periphery, but almost none anywhere I worked after Kings Island. I was still pretty much unaware. When I held a corporate job and spent a few weeks in sales training, I met a trio from Africa, Black men, Zulu kings they said, who owned a casket business. I adored them. They were a breath of fresh air amid the bland business background. During that tenure, I also visited several Black funeral homes in downtown LA and Cleveland, always more welcomed than I ever had been in white-owned establishments.

These experiences taught me the real lesson of turning the other cheek and how to welcome the oppressor as you honor individual humanity. That may be the key. I didn't feel viewed as a stereotyped group, nor did I approach these encounters as anything other than on an individual, equal level. Unconsciously, I emulated Jesus.

Something snapped in 2001 when Timothy Thomas was shot and killed by Cincinnati Police, unleashing tensions. Damn, another one, I thought. I remembered watching the loop of Rodney King being repeatedly dragged and beaten in 1991. This cycle of new lynchings. I was distraught and moved to action, though tethered by an infant. I responded to a call by the daily newspaper to organize a neighborhood conversation on race, which became the Milford Area Neighbor to Neighbor. I had no idea that one evening would turn into three years, new friendships, tears, anger and a deeper understanding and awareness of racism. Our group was about 30 percent Black, which is why we learned so much together. It took a while to bond and build trust. But we did, meeting in each other’s homes, marching together in parades and studying MLK’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail. We hosted a community forum to spread what we created. I stopped facilitating after that to further my education, but the group still meets, the only one left.

I learned the most there from my friend Frank Evans. He taught me that change happens one heart at a time. I heard stories that made me sick, of experiences no one should endure. Of unfairness, prejudice and hatred. In that listening, however, there was transformation within me and the group. We are living proof of Frank’s philosophy.

What I was learning at Neighbor to Neighbor was reinforced in my exploration at about the same time of Quakerism, one of the peace churches with a strong testimony of equality. These would be the building blocks for launching a neighborhood arts exploration under the care of my Quaker Meeting (church) for marginalized local kids. I had spent a year in the elementary art room assisting and witnessing the power of creative voice to transform kids, many of color and most living in public housing, into confident souls who could dream and be whatever they wanted in that room making art.

I also did some crossover work with students, older versions of my Artsy Fartsy Saturdays kids,  in Cincinnati Public Schools. Over and over again, I witnessed how opportunity, nurture and safety make a difference in the lives of children and teens. I was asked many times to open Artsy Fartsy Saturdays to all kids, but I was certain this was something just for those without the options others have. A room of their own, to steal Virginia Woolf’s phrase that captures the necessity of creativity.

One summer, 2015, I worked on the University of Cincinnati's main campus and was first shocked, then appalled, to learn university security carried guns and one officer chased a Black man, Samuel Dubose, off campus, up a dead-end street and shot him for a missing license plate  WTF?  Dubose was unarmed and peaceful. I was embarrassed to work somewhere this happened.

The next summer my family spent a few days in Chicago, when my youngest and I were voluntarily swept into a BLM march. It was so powerful, being united for a just cause … more powerful because we had just attended THE most beautiful, welcoming wedding that included every expression of self and sexual orientation on the planet. Everyone had a seat at this banquet, just as they did in the BLM march.

The 2016 election found me and my husband at the Cincinnati Women’s March, again a beautiful array of unity for the marginalized.

And since 2012, even before, I followed my muse to work with local kids to bring equity in the form of art. They have shared and taught me so much about resilience, survival, love, curiosity, humor, humanity. We did a session that began with a large tray of spices and talked about the array of colors: mustard, caramel, coffee, tawny, black, cinnamon, brown and everything in between. As artists, we agreed the variety was a beautiful expression, acknowledging the deeper truth that all skin tones are Spirit’s magical gift.

It pained me to hear a fifth grader’s story of walking to Kroger in Clifton to get a salad, then being tailed out by an officer and asked to see his receipt. The kid was Black and guilty of purchasing a salad. For God’s sake. His mom had already had The Talk with him. The one where a mother with a Black son must tell him the chances of him surviving a police encounter are slim and he should be peaceful and comply. Or else, he’ll likely die. The former board chair of a major university, a lawyer, told me how he worried he’d be stopped for DWB, driving while Black. That at events, people have thrown him their coats or car keys. This is an impeccably dressed, sophisticated, educated man.

My friend Frank I mentioned earlier, was so wounded during a parade when he was called the N-word and no one came to his rescue. I was not at that parade and chilled by the experience. It taught me to always speak up. Silence is complicity. So, when George Floyd was killed, I needed to channel my rage into a piece of art. I cut BLM and fist stencils and spray painted them on the American flag, making it my flag, one that represented all Americans, not just the ones who roared their big trucks with flags waving in the beds around the neighborhood.

When a curmudgeon used the N-word in front of my daughter and her friend at McDonald’s many years ago, I told him that was inappropriate language. He stared blankly and walked away. On another Chicago trip, my daughter, about 5 or 6 at the time, noticed a Black woman lying in the alley and asked for money to give her. She still talks about that woman. On the same trip when we rode the L-subway, I coached my daughters to sit with each other, while I took the empty seat next to the lone man, who happened to be Black. I did not want him to think we thought he was unsafe or not worthy of sharing a seat. Spirit nudged me further as I grabbed his thumb, something I had never done, to shake hands. His demeanor changed as a smile broke out and he said: “You’re a sister.” THAT was a deep moment of connection. A definite God moment.

And here we are today, thankfully with a guilty verdict in the George Floyd case, but 65 more police-caused deaths have been reported, about three a day, in the three weeks of the trial, mostly people of color.* It is a racial thing. It is wrong. 

My friend posted a poem called “American is a gun.” The stark truth of that is alarming and inescapable. American is a gun aimed at Black men and boys, now girls, Asian women and Sikhs -- anyone we perceive as different. Until we all step up to name, resist and fight racism (as well as gun accessibility), we are guilty of pulling that trigger.

Since testimony began on March 29, at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead. As of Saturday, the average was more than three killings a day.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Surrender on and off the canvas

The painting in my parents' house simply signed "Murphy"
A man in coat and hat with briefcase and slumped shoulders, hand on the railing, is caught in mid step ascending the staircase. He’s shuttered in darkness, a contrast to the green banker’s light focused on the reception desk, illuminating the cubbies behind. The stark loneliness, maybe even defeat, of the painting captivates me. I’ve had plenty of time to study it on the walls of my parents’ home since the 1970s.

In recent years it has become more than a haunting, though simple, work. For one, it will be mine sooner rather than later. About a year ago, my dad said he had a story of the painting and I listened intently. He’d never shared anything so deep. It’s a tired salesman who’d been on the road paying calls all day, making his way back to his room. My dad knows that story personally and his revelation increases my value of the painting.

The painting also symbolizes my growing relationship with my father, unmitigated by my mother, who died just before Christmas. She and was our go-to as he was usually traveling for work or all-consumed. There’s a family pattern from his side I am attempting to shed and the painting epitomizes the choice of living, defeated or diseased, in the darkness or shining the light on those negative aspects. It’s very Quaker for me as early practitioners engaged in the practice of letting Spirit’s light shine on them internally, “convicting” them of what stood in their way of a deeper spirituality. Awareness – conviction – is the first step. Surrendering, where I am, is quite another.

On my third day of Sandrit rubbing and pounding me from head to toe in specially prepared heated oils during a panchakarma treatment at the combo Ayurveda clinic and orphanage just outside New Delhi, I declared that surrender to Spirit. The soul-descending experience of lying an hour with warm oil encircling my third eye extracted that promise. I traveled far and deep, whispering a big yes and have been prayerful ever since for instruction on how to do that, exactly. Just as I have discovered there is no one, big ah-ha moment, there is no one, big action of surrender – in my experience. Enlightenment and surrender, I believe, happen in micro-stages. Perhaps it’s the same way Spirit has led my small steps into a ministry I am certain I would have balked at had the entire plan been lain at my feet. I constantly pray for clarity, yet Spirit wisely gives me the minute piece I can handle.

So I attempt patience to let the patterns and layers shift and, eventually release. One of those letting-gos includes forgiveness and grief over the relationship I never had with my father. And gratitude for the new one being forged on and off the canvas.
• Do I currently stand in the darkness or under illumination?
• If darkness, what is my prayer of surrender?
• If not, where does the light convict me?
• Can I trace a path of small surrenders?
• Do I express gratitude even when I can’t see the path ahead?


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Exploring Ohio: Americana, hauntings and Yetis

It’s just past sunrise in Marietta. I am on a rooftop witnessing traffic hum across the bridge to West. Va. and through this oddly Midwestern-Eastern-Southern rivertown. It’s a gentle morning after rain. Early October and only a glint of color. I am at the level of birds in trees. A ghostly grey cloud whisps across the river. Light emerges, but no burst of sun. Craving a cup of coffee, Ia sit to write before I rewalk the labyrinthine passage back to the lobby four floors below. I could rest here. Write here. Breathe here. The glassy Ohio and Muskinghum rivers reminders of depth and Spirit’s pace.

The moment breaks and I head to the local coffee shop, Jerimiah’s, to work. I order a decaf and am greeted with five bean options. They’ll actually brew me a cup. I ask for the richest, Costa Rican, and sit down to wait. I sip and write til 9, when I meet my husband for the complimentary hotel breakfast, the most substantial ever. I order poached eggs, ham and hash browns. Coffee, juice and toast or an English muffin are included. Reminds me of the most meager breakfast ever: I was pregnant, staying atop a hill on Catalina Island, isolated from the rest of the town. Their idea of sustenance was mealy apples and bagged bread to toast yourself. Back then I wasn’t gluten free, so wolfed down – eating for two – multiple bags of bread. This breakfast, however, was a delight.

Filled, we take a walk down Front Street, veering off toward the banks of the bucolic Muskinghum River and across a foot bridge, nestled against railroad tracks to a very old village, Harmar, apparently the original Marietta settlement.  Apparently the Paris lovers’ locks have hit here, but town mothers and fathers have ingeniously kept their bridge from buckling to the extra weight by chaining iron planters to the railroad bridge on which locks can be hooked. Several older men on bikes stride by; this is the perfect place for cycling. We jaunt past the Harmar Tavern, lively and authentic, and through a downtown closed up for the season. Harmar is a peek into Americana with tree-lined streets and clapboard houses.

I stop at a corner shop and learn from its owner, a member of Main Street Marietta, the city struggles since the loss of two attractions: the closing of Fenton Art Glass and the Becky Thatcher show boat. She’s helping plan a Who-ville themed Christmas to attract visitors and energy to the city. She also confirms the hauntedness of the area. “My sister lives on a hillside built on a mound and her house is extremely haunted. When people cut into an Indian mound, there was a lot of activity.” Her information is confirmed by the Hidden Ohio map I picked up before our trip. It lists sacred, Native-American, natural and haunted sites as well as places people have reported Big Foot and aliens. It’s a beautifully printed, fantastic tour guide. Later in the evening, I’ll flip on a Discovery Channel show tracking the Yeti (as Big Foot is known is Asia) in the Himalays. Serendipity?

History draws us to the Marietta Antique Mall. As new empty-nesters, I’m not really looking for anything, but this is the real deal. I peruse fascinating relics, including a movable gout stool and a print of dogs playing pool. I easily pass on those, but ponder a wooden case full of rubber letters for printing. I think long and hard about using this with my art students, but don’t want to drag it home. Rooting through the implements, pottery and chests, I feel a connection to the past and wonder if that is lost on a generation that only wants new. It pains me to see old, family photographs orphaned in sale bins, like the in a well-curated collectible/gift shop on Front Street, Green Acres. Vintage images were touted as “fabulous.” My husband was charmed by a case of dream cameras, of which, unfortunately, the owners knew the true value.

Walking and piddling into the afternoon, we ventured by car to see Marietta College and grab a picnic lunch, which we spread out on our hotel rooftop with an Indian summer – sans the hard frost ­­– sun beating down. Perhaps the best place on the planet in that moment.

I spend the late afternoon soaking up the warmth, then we drive to another side of town and up some hills for a grand view of the river valley below. We end at a cemetery surrounding Conus Mound, holding the remains of native Chieftains encased by Revolutionary War soldiers and Marietta residents. The juxtaposition is odd, but not as much as the steps up to the top of the mound. Holding the iron railing on the way down, I ask my husband if he thinks anyone ever died on these treacherous steps. “This would be a convenient place,” he says, repeating my thoughts precisely.

We head toward the hotel, park and walk into Gater’s, a locals’ bar we scoped out the night before when it was closed. There’s a big guy at the bar who offers to push a seat over so we can sit together, there, at the bar, HIS bar. He’s Gater, nicknamed as a member of a motorcycle gang because he stood back and observed like a gater. He’s grateful when we tell him we chose his place over the local microbrewery because we wanted a “real” bar.  He was re-roofing the building that housed several businesses, including a rough bar, when the owner asked if he could do something with it. Now into his sixth season, Gater remodeled everything, knocking out walls, creating a music venue and adopting a pirate theme.

We have two beers, then head back to snack on lunch leftovers in our room since we see of sign of food at Gater’s – it’s purely a bar. A good one.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Marietta: confluence of cultures

The first destination on our annual fall pilgrimage, initiated on our honeymoon 32 Octobers ago, was Ohio University (OU) to visit our freshman. The plan is to bookend a swing through eastern Ohio with visits to our student-daughters in Athens and Kent.

For most of the decade of autumns before we had children, we traveled to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, exchanging Maine for the Adirondacks just about every foliage season. It was magnificent: ambling the golden-leaf strewn pathway to Robert Frost’s cabin in Ripton, Vt.; cutting over Breadloaf mountain where the yellow, Victorian buildings of Middlebury College’s writing mecca glowed against the robust red maples; scarecrows blowing chilly breath into Brandon at every intersection long before it was a thing; paddling the color-drenched shores of Blue Mountain Lake at the Hedges, an Adirondack “camp,” built by Vanderbuilt’s Sagamore Lodge employees; a warm bowl of seafood cioppino quenched with a cold Long Trail ale at White Dog Tavern at the end of a day of leaf peeping.

Two years ago, on our anniversary, we trekked to Dublin, Doolin and Galway in Ireland, touring the Aran Islands after a ferocious ferry crossing. I relished a rather mundane experience: purchasing eyeglasses. On a whim, after finding nothing at home, I packed my prescription. No high-pressure sales, just a very knowledgeable attendant, who actually drew my eye, explaining my need for thicker lenses. Ten days of Guinness, Celtic music and Irish hospitality were a delight. Last year, we ventured to Cape Breton, leaving a charming but cold fishing shack when temperatures dipped and accidentally texting a stranger, who, nevertheless, offered us a warm bed. We rented an artist’s handmade home in the country and concluded with an exhilarating day in Halifax among markets and breweries. Maudie* country is stunning.

This year’s trek is closer to home, revolving around our oldest’s 21st birthday. She actually asked us to take her to a bar – how could we refuse?

On the first leg of the six-day journey, we make a quick stop in Jackson to a funky fabric-garden-Christian-snack outlet (Guhl’s Country Store, where my fashion-design student saves big bucks on bolts of muslin). When I tell the cashier we were headed to OU, she responds that her grandson’s a sophomore and they’d had 14 rapes reported. This was not good news. I googl local police reports and the Columbus Dispatch to discover it’s now 16. Inexcusable. I can not wait to hug my daughter.

We reach her 45 minutes later, unload the fresh mini pumpkin pies I’d baked, her winter coat and boots. She is deliciously happy as we whisk her off to lunch at the worker-owned Casa Nueva, an Athens staple. It’s not somewhere she could afford on a student budget (although with a meal plan at $23 per day for 2 meals, she could). I order the seasonal corn enchilada with Ohio cheddar, roasted red peppers and pulled pork, only I get dry chicken, baked in verde salsa. Before real Mexican street tacos at one-tenth the price spoiled me, I would have been satisfied. They are fine for American tacos. And the ambiance is old-school granola on the restaurant side. It is a great place to catch up with our emerging adult.

After what seems like too-brief a visit, we are back on route 50 headed toward Marietta. We live near 50, but have never traversed this segment. We experience a hauntingly beautiful drive on this steamy, sometimes rainy afternoon. I had hoped to catch a glimpse of Blennerhasset Island, where Araon Burr hatched his foiled coup, but the turn toward Marietta intervened. The Blennerhassets created the American dream, immigrating from Ireland, thriving and leaving behind a stately mansion, now the hub of a West Virginia State Park. You arrive via paddleboat from Parkersburg, W. Va.

I almost miss the drive into town trying to book my next adventure, a BIG one for a BIG birthday, on my phone. The town is village-like until we cross the Muskingham and into the heart of Marietta. The downtown sweeps broad like a frontier with brick former banks, warehouses and theaters abutting feed mills, eclectic shops, restaurants and bars. We spot our hotel, one of the last river accommodations I note somewhere, bending around a corner opposite the Ohio River. I am surprised by its authenticity, as if nothing’s touched. When we check in, I ask if we can have a river view. I am firmly told no, because I booked on Expedia. “Can’t you push that?” I ask. “No.” Her voice has the familiarity of my attempt to book direct. She wouldn’t budge then, either. So the Expedia room it is.

Between the second and third floors, the elaborate staircase vanishes, replaced bya utilitarian set (think Upstair/Downstairs or Downton Abby). So does the air conditioning. Hit with an odor as we enter out floor, it dissipates in our very small room. You can’t open the door and access the bathroom at the same time. This is the charm of another era when we lived within our means and did not seek sprawling spaces. It’s fine for two nights, except getting there through the horribly smelly hallway I realize is mold and mildew. Later I check deeper into reviews that universally report the smell of fish. That smell is confirmed at the front desk when I ask for a room that will not trigger a migraine. “Well, we’ve had lots of floods.” We move up a floor to an almost identical room with a less-pungent entry.

It really is a cool, old hotel, echoing the southern charms of the river, sort of New Orleans meets Chicago. Victorian furniture you sink into (because seats have supported many a derriere) invites visitors to sit and merely watch the river.

We settle in, then head out to explore. We walk the expanse of downtown, surprised by its size and vibrancy, although there are vacant buildings. One is advertised for free. People are friendly and I spy young adults, likely Marietta College students. The waterfront seems almost virginal, refreshingly undeveloped, lined only with a walkway. The humidity brews up a thirst we quench at the most-local bar we uncover, Town House. It’s trivia night with $3 Amstel Lights, cheapest I’ve ever found, and a homegrown-tomato-and-tuna/chicken/egg salad special. Who could resist? We trade history for empty dinner plates with the bartender, pay and head back, full and sleepy.

* Maudie is a movie made in 2016 about Cape Breton folk artist Maude Lewis