Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Part of my rural Virginia upbringing was my grandfather’s vegetable garden. He and my grandmother ran the town’s general store that sold everything from food, seed, tractor hardware, to 100-pound bags of sugar for the moonshine stills. We were the Amazon for our little town and delivered.

Although the store was my family’s business my grandfather’s passion was his summer garden. It was large enough to supply our family with fresh vegetables, all our neighbors and still have some left over for the store. Town’s folk would come to the store to get fresh corn, strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, turnips greens and squash. All totally organic by today's standards.

There was such an abundance that my grandmother would make a trip every week or so during the summer to the local cannery. "Putting up food for the winter", she would call it.

Canneries, a rural tradition, began opening in 1940’s during World War II under government encouragement to help the American public become more self-sufficient. Much food was being sent to feed soldiers overseas at that time. By the end of the war, according to a 1977 USDA publication, there were more than 3,800 community canneries in the country.  (Source: Modern Farmer -Cannery Hangs on in Rural Virginia) We had one a few mile away.

I remember one batch of Mason Jar delights that my grandmother brought home, had a problem. Although typically it was easy to distinguish what was in the glass Mason Jars, the labels had become dislodged on some. My grandmother joked every time we opened one of these “Let’s see what we have here”. We would laugh and enjoy. 

Our transgender umbrella abounds with labels. However, occasionally there is something that defies a label. It is just to be opened and enjoyed.  Conchita Wurst is just such an individual. According to the Guardian:

Drag queen? Transgender? Conchita's an ambassador and that's what matters - But what does it all mean, this hair and that beard and those lashes? Conchita has been crowned queen of Europe, but is she a transvestite, a drag queen, a bearded lady, a transgender woman or what? And does it even matter? Facebook recently introduced more than 50 gender options in the US, and if you're puzzled about what all those terms mean, Conchita is a clue as to what this gender diversity might look like in practice. "She" is actually a boy called Tom.

Conchita is his lady persona, a strangely compelling mix of Katy Perry and Jesus, but it's female pronouns, please, when the lashes are on – and male ones when they come off. Confused? This is gender fluidity and you'd better get used to it.

Conchita Wurst - From Vienna with Love (46 Minutes)
 Sydney Opera House, Australia (EN/DE/RU/FR Subtitles)


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