BLACK LOVE

READERS: Many folks Talk about it, Blog about it, Post FB pictures ( President Obama and First Lady Michelle mostly) about it, BUT what does it REALLY Mean?

.. HE grabs your hand tightly as you cross the street headed to the 7:30 A.M. Service and seats you in the pew behind the friendly, devout, notafraidtositclosetoeachother,  80 year old couple and you both share a knowing look as you ponder will that…could that…pray that it will be US in another 20 years.

…He posts your picture on ALL his Social Media sites after you crack the glass ceiling at your job proclaiming your success to the www.

…He buys you a month’s worth of Meat and secretly stores it in the recesses of the freezer even though you are trying to become a Vegetarian; he knows you will be craving a steak,chop or burger soon.

,,,He knows your affinity for Capt D’s, Feather & Fin, Popeyes, Bojangles, Mickey Ds, Cookout, and other purveyors of grease-soaked foods and keeps a collection of newpaper coupons handy in your glove compartment.

…He plugs himself into the 50″ Sanyo every Sunday and travels to Fanatic Football Land but not before fixing you a mound  of pancakes, bacon and homefries.

…He lets you eat the first half of Chunky Monkey/Butter Pecan from the carton  while bingewatching House of cards and doesn’t complain about the uneaten (slightly wet) chocoate chips/nuts you leave in the carton.

…He  expertly and flawlessly sings your favorite Temptations song at Karaoke nite while the entire bar makes a collective sigh.

…He is short on cash, but “acquires” some New tires from Questionable sources for your aging vehicle

…He fries your favorite fish, runs you an epsom salt-lavender scented bath, puts your 80s mixtape in the player, chills a bottle of Red Stripe, and leaves the house so you can have some Me Time.

…He gets your voicemail and goes to Kay jeweler to purchase the sapphire ring and pendant set YOU selected earlier for your birthday/anniversary/mothers day/ Christmas/Valentines day…

…He responds to your BLACKPEOPEMEET post with “Hello Beautiful” even before he meets you for the first time, and after the first meeting, greets your phone calls with the same quiet,sincere, straight from the heart greeting.

…He avoids commenting when you load the shopping cart with jalapeno cheetos, famous amos, triple buttered microwave popcorn, chunky monkey, frozen jalapeno poppers, and an assortment of other waist expanding goodies.

TO Be Continued… Don’t forget to leave your comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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B IS FOR BABY BOOMER

 

What happened?  One minute she’s turning out Blogs like a well oiled machine and then BAM! Nothing! Silence where there used to be laughter, songs, shared experiences, reminiscing, poetry, etc. etc. etc.

Such is the nature of a Writer; the ebb and flow of life sometimes takes us away from the Words and then brings us haltingly back again.

I won’t bore you with the details of my absence from these pages except to say Life happened.  And when you are 60+ (as many of you fellow Boomers can attest to) it can be challenging.  No one prepares you to be a Senior…there is no course you can take…(sorry AARP)…it just seems you wake up one day and nature has started taking its course.  And the best laid plans are just that… Plans.

Like working in the dirt (gardening), writing had become my antidote to no longer being a 9 to 5er.  But as with so many endeavors, we often need to pause, step back, take a break and regroup.  And that is what I have been doing.

 Boy, she is the master of roundaboutthebush!  Still aint said WHAT she being doing all these months!

I have been buoyed by those of you who have missed my Words and inquired about when/if I would return to blogging.  And to those of you who have signed on to follow me during the period of my absence, I apologize.

I will say during my absence from the page, I have been musing pretty heavily about what it means to be a Senior.  I moved from my urban townhouse/garden to a Senior community this year and have some real serious questions about whether people of the same age should all be thrown into one living environment.  I will write more about this in the coming months ( a la the horrible, no good Vegas trip Blog) as I consider whether to renew my lease at “The Villa”.  For those of you who saw the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel (I and II) and left the theater fantasizing about living with other Boomers…remember that was a movie AND they were in  India (or a Hollywood set).

Health issues, mine and others (family/friends) have found their way into my sphere.  I have watched on the sidelines the past few years as others have succumbed to ravages of age and now it seems it is my turn to dip my toes in this pool.  It certainly does give one pause and challenge those of us who have always been strong of mind, spirit and body.

Changing relationships with parents/siblings/peers/significant others seem to be a hallmark of becoming a Senior.  Again, No one prepares you for this…it just happens it seems and can be daunting to say the least…somewhere between the muck and the mire, I would say.

And of course, the usual concern of the nolongeremployed.  What am I going to do today? Tomorrow?  Many Boomers are so obsessed with doingsomething that they forget they are supposed to enjoy their retirement. Does that include the whopping $5 increase in SS benefits?

Yeah, I have those moments sometimes, but I also have no guilt about spending an entire day binge watching House of Cards, Catfish, All the seasons of Dowtown  Abbey, Love and Hip Hop (New York and Hollywood), Being Mary Jane(future research)…in my pjs surrounded by my snacks of choice. Thank goodness for the Senior discount at Harris Teeter, Kroger,Walgreen..unfortunately the ABC store hasn’t figured out we are one of their most consuming consumers).Now if I can just remember which day they give the damn discount…(must be a test of our fleeting memory).

Many thoughts to share with you in the coming months.  I hope you will once again join me for the Ride! And Thanks for Reading…I’ve missed you!

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

20140506_132217.jpgSpring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is.” This little ditty from my patent leather shoe wearing, crinoline slip showing, pigtails bouncing, hopscotch/jump rope playing days always comes to mind this time of the year. And like most nature loving folks, the balmy weather beckons me outdoors. Those of you who followed my original Blog in 2012 are familiar with my “Tales from the Garden”. So in honor of Daylight Savings Time and the official First Day of Spring (just a week away), I would like to provide you with some New Tales.

Unlike most folks who dig in the dirt, I started gardening for health reasons. Frankly, I was concerned about the food supply and all those unknown dangers lurking in the vegetable aisles of our friendly grocery store. News reports of packaged lettuce laced with bacteria, pesticides coating the gala apples, tomatoes processed in lye…it was enough to make me run screaming into the night. Instead, I decided to revisit a practice I had abandoned years ago…home gardening.

Even though we were city dwellers, my family always had a little home garden plot. My mother, a Southern girl, knew the importance of healthy eating and always made sure there was something good growing in that little plot next to the back door. I remember days spent digging in the rock laden soil, planting precious seeds and counting the days until seedlings pushed through eventually yielding their bounty of heirloom tomatoes, long pole beans, crunchy leafed romaine lettuce, bulbous cucumbers, and savory squash.

Gardening, I later learned, can be more than just producing food and flowers. It can be a cure to many of life’s ails such as depression and anxiety. Digging in the dirt is therapeutic and a lot cheaper than a psychiatrist. The increasing number of men and women city dwellers who are discovering gardening supports this theory. No longer is it necessary to own “the back forty” to grow a garden. Patios, porches, rooftops, window sills, and even ‘rent a plot” gardens make it possible for everyone to engage in this life giving practice.

After a particularly stressful period in my my life for which no amount of Xanax could help, I again turned to gardening. The pleasure I derived that first Spring from digging in the dirt, watching each day as tiny buds appeared and new growth unfurled followed by daily visits from the most glorious butterflies and birds in the area was indescribable.

Suddenly, my life became filled with hope and anticipation as I looked forward to the wonder Nature had bestowed just outside my back door. I started trolling thrift shops looking for gardening how-to-books, visiting Garden shops at 6 a.m., hauling dirt became my daily workout, seed catalogs filled my mailbox, and rainy days that filled my rain barrels (old olive barrels from a warehouse) became the source of quiet joy.

Gardening became the antidote for depression and the colorful bounty of flowers and luscious pesticide free vegetables it yielded… the cure.

 

Beauty Fades, But Healthy is Forever

blksoapBlack soap

Reader, It is March…officially Women’s History Month. The onewhowillremainunnamed remarked over dinner the other night… Women’s History Month is Every month…and there are some men who will readily agree with him. And why not. WE DO GIVE LIFE. Only the Creator can claim that feat.

In light of all the responses I received to the BRAGGing Rights posts, I thought I would follow with a list of a few natural products that most people will want to make sure they have in their toolbox. Like Bragg vinegar, many of these products were ones I used back in the 70/80s and because of their effectiveness they continue to reserve a place in my cabinet.

Black Soap – the best kind comes wrapped in plastic from your local African bookstore or Head shop. It looks like a block of dark brown clay sprinkled with herbs. Those bars sold in the fancy packaging from various companies often contain chemicals. I met someone recently who said that using Black Soap to cleanse her face was not only cost effective but cleared up her skin and literally took years off her face.

Shea Butter – Another product best purchased from said African bookstore/boutique type shop. Or find someone who has recently visited the motherland. I know an airline employee who has stock in this stuff and regularly brings it back as gifts for friends. Stay away from the fancy packaged kind though, as it contains unpronounceable chemicals. When you do find some (usually in a plastic baggie) remember a little goes a long way. The proof as they say is in the pudding. Look at all the commercial products from shampoo to body wash to lotion that now contain Shea Butter.

Henna – Many years ago when gray strands starting sprouting in my mane, I remembered how my former hippie commune friends had utilized henna for not only decorating their bodies, but washing away the gray. This product can be tricky to find, but worth searching for especially in the natural unadulterated powdery state. So far, no study showing any link between this keeper away of the gray and cancer (miz clairol or dark and luvly can’t make that claim).

Coconut Oil – this product has seen a resurgence lately. Not only is it good for your hair and body but can also be eaten! What will Mother Nature think of next?

Pumice stone – Yes, I have tried all those products that promise to make your feet baby butt soft including the one with the little razors that literally shave the skin from your heels. But nothing works as good as a little pumice stone which literally can be brought for under a dollar at where else…the $ store.

Oils – I could write an entire blog about the virtues of essential oils. Not only can they be used to improve your mood, rid you of headaches, help you sleep, ward off evil spirits in a room, kill mosquitos, soften your skin, massage aching muscles, thicken ones hair, perfume your body…ask an Egyptian. Those of you who are Aromatherapy subscribers already know the healing properties of oils. Just make sure you are getting the purest forms, a little costlier, but a lot goes a long way.
Hope these products become a part of your life. You will be richer and wiser.
As always, your comments are appreciated!  Next Post will be a tribute to the one and only Songstress …Ruth Brown. Thanks for reading/sharing!

THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD: A Search for Self

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.  Some come in with the tide.  Others sail forever on the horizon…That is the life of man.

Now women forget all those things they don’t want to remember and remember everything they don’t want to forget.  The dream is the truth.

And so the novel opens.  The storyteller begins to weave the tale starting at the end and bringing us back circuitously to the beginning

Janie, dressed in muddy overalls and weary from her journey relates her story to friend Pheoby.  This sharing of her tale is not only an affirmation, but evokes the age old practice of sharing or confessional which has now evolved into the Talk Show. (think Oprah, Ellen, Steve Harvey)

Janie saw her life “like a great tree in leaf with the things suffered, things enjoyed, things done and undone. Dawn and doom was in the branches”.

We learn that Janie’s journey of self has taken her through three marriages and many struggles.  Walker notes that Eyes is generally thought of as a love story, but its theme, she believes, is Janie’s search for identity which finally takes shape when she throws off the images thrust upon her because she is both black and a woman in a society where neither is allowed to exist naturally and freely.

Literature is replete with stories of this search for identity. The Bildungsroman is a novel that traces the development of character from childhood to adulthood, through a quest for identity that leads the protagonist to maturity.

The story of Siddhartha often comes to mind when I think of the protagonist of Eyes. Like Siddhartha, Janie’s world is full of natural images that symbolize the role of nature in the character’s quest for a better understanding of self.

In trying to decide whether marriage to Logan Killicks and his oft mentioned thirty acres was the answer, Jane was back and forth to the pear tree…continuously wondering and thinking.

She looked to the horizon for answers.  And she soon realized that marriage to the lackluster Mr. Killicks, despite his financial security was not her idea of love. Nanny, however, thinks that marrying Mr. Killicks will be the answer. She tells, Janie.. The ni**er woman is de mule uh de world so far as Ah can see.  Ah been prayin fuh it tuh be different wid you.

But Janie realizes marriage to Mr. Killicks is not the answer. Ah wants things sweet wid mah marriage lak when you sit under a pear tree and think. She ends the marriage when she hurries out the front gate and turned South.  Zora writes, Janie’s first dream was dead, so she became a woman.

Janie’s second husband, the domineering, boastful Joe Starks from in and around Georgy represented newness and change. Janie knew that Joe did not represent sun up and pollen and blooming trees, but he spoke for far horizon.  To Janie, this represented another rung on the ladder of self fulfillment.

Marriage to Mayor Starks, however, proved to be demoralizing as Janie realized that he wanted her to play the role of the submissive wife keeping her thoughts and opinions to herself…Mah wife don’t know nothing ’bout no speech-making, he tells a crowd.  Ah never married her for nothing lak dat.  She’s uh woman and her place is in de home.

After twenty years, the marriage ends with Joe dying from a longterm  illness, during which he refused to see Janie.  Finally, Janie confronts Joe on his death bed..All dis bowin’ down, all dis obedience under yo’ voice-dat ain’t why Ah rushed off down de road tuh fund out about you.

At Joe’s funeral, Janie ...starched and ironed her face and came set in.  She sent her face to Joe’s funeral but herself went rollicking with the springtime across the world.  Janie’s journey for self discovery continues.

It is here that Zora’s fictional life and real life seem to intersect (this often happens in a novel).  Zora meets and falls in love with the real love of her life.  He was tall, dark brown, magnificiently built with a beautifully modeled back head…And he was an Alpha man. However, Zora notes, she did not fall in love with him because of looks..he had a fine mind and that intrigued me.

He was a man who wanted to do for her...But nothing, she writes..must be in my life but himself.  Zora’s career and fierce independence began to interfere with their relationship. Finally, Zora found escape from the struggle to maintain her ‘self’ in the relationship in the form of a Guggenheim Fellowship.  For two years she was to study/research out of the country.  Eyes was published in 1937 while she was in the Caribbean . She wrote it in only seven weeks.  This was my chance to release him and fight myself free from my obsession.  So I pitched in to work hard on my research to smother my feeling.  

Similarly, Janie’s love affair with Vergible Tea Cakes Woods, an easy going laborer, ten years her junior, represents her fulfillment in a union.  Tea Cakes teaches Janie ...de maiden language all over.  He is man enough to treat her as an equal and they spend their days traveling from job to job working the land, in unison with nature. The novel ends on a bittersweet note as Janie’s dream fades into reality and she realizes the journey one must travel to distinguish role from self.

Many literary critics say that Eyes is the quintessential love story. However, like Zora’s own real life, Eyes is also a story of survival and realization of self. In her autobiography, Zora writes…Be that as it may, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have loved and been loved by the perfect man.  If I never hear of love again, I have known the real thing.

And in true tongue-in-cheek Zora fashion, quips: But pay no attention to what I say about love..it may not mean a thing…Just because my mouth opens up like a prayer book, it does not just have to flap like a Bible.

Love. Life. Identity. Illusion. Reality. Dream. Truth. Roles. Self. Nature. Struggle.  Their Eyes Were Watching God is all this and so much more…just turn the pages.

Is Fido the “New Black”

IMG_20160106_073831Okay, okay,  let me make myself perfectly clear- I  DO like dogs.  Not the ferocious I wanttoeatyouforbreakfast kind of dogs, but rather the panting, wide eyed, cannot wait for you to return home,  what can I do for you, Master kind of dog.

In fact, I have been the proud owner of several pooches in my 60plus years, as well as the adopted owner of two such canines- Lucky and Harry ( Some of you may remember my Award winning…seriously folks….Blog about daughter Js beloved Lucky who came to visit and never left). It was the Most Read of all my blogs in 2013! And was selected for publication in an online magazine. Certainly, a testament to America’s love affair with fido. ( and possibly my writing skills).

this girl never gets tired of tooting her own horn, does she?

So, why I am proposing that Rover is now the New Black? It all started when I was on an impromptu trip to MYrtle Beach during the frozen tundra winter of 2015. Searching for some sunshine and warmth, I boarded a Greyhound to MB in mid January for what I hoped was a respite from the el nino induced winter weather plaguing the East coast. MB, apparently, is the place where hundreds of Canadian “snowbirds” flock to each year from January to March..an alternative to Florida shores..in search of the Sun.

I thought this woman was Black. What she doing in Myrtle Beach with some Canadians..Hmph!

It was on one of my early morning strolls down the sparsely populated MB beach ( the temperature was a balmy 60 degrees) that I encountered not one, but several men of a certain age taking a similar outing accompanied by a little puffball at their heels, or in their arms, or in one instance strapped to his chest in a dog carrier.

Each of these older gentlemen seemed in some state of other world bliss as they walked fido stopping to offer encouragement, bag poop, or feed a perfect sized treat to their small companion. After day 3 of observing this ritual on the beach, in the mall, down deserted side streets, it occurred to me that something was missing! Where was the gentleman’s spouse, girlfriend, better half, or even sidepiece?

Being the inquisitive, never miss an opportunity to talk to a stranger kind of person, I posed this query to one of these happy go lucky dog walkers. The answer? Wait for it…Wait for it. There was none! She (or he) had been replaced by Fido.

I told you something was wrong with this girl..how can a dog replace a girlfriend…she done had too much Sun down there in MB!

As a person who likes to shore up her observations with evidence, I began to pay closer attention to men (and women) in my age group who were partner-less, but ..aha..had a relationship with a canine.

I will proffer the ‘One Who Remains Unnamed’ as my final piece of evidence. ( Many of you remember him from my Vegas adventure which was the catalyst for my first Blog). His ongoing relationship for the past 10 years with a Pomeranian named Marley exemplifies the point I am trying to make.

Not only has this  6 pound ball of black fur become the source of his constant attention, recipient of specially prepared meals, purveyor of expensive treats..when did dogs start eating duck jerky.. a place at the foot or side of his bed,  or constant admonitions by said dog owner to me:  Hon, I got to go home and see my dog…that movie/dinner/flat tire..whatever.. Will have to wait!

Huh? Reader, do you get my point? And no,  I am not jealous of a dog. I just believe all God’s creatures have a place in this life. That humans were made for each other’s companionship, misery or whatever.

So have we taken this dog thing too far?  Is having a relationship with another human too taxing, too much work, a relic of the past?

I believe a dog Can be man’s best friend..but best girlfriend??

Oh well, time to go watch some Reality TV. Until the next time.

 

 

HOT JAM

Some like it hot.

Boy, there so many ways I could go with that opening. But lets keep it PG for now. I’m referring to my penchant for hot, spicy foods.

No doubt, I inherited the gene from my dad’s side of the family. I still marvel at his 10+year old jar of peppers and vinegar aging in the kitchen cabinet, which he sprinkles liberally on just about everything he eats.

Must explain why he is approaching 94 in remarkably good health. And still drives, watches TV/ reads without glasses,takes the stairs,  refuses a cane even though he has arthritis in his knees, and has mastered email, searching, Skype and how to delete the history ( just in case snooping relatives are using his prized pc). But I digress.

The subject of this post is not my IwasaBuffalosoldier father, but rather hot foods and more specifically, hot peppers.

Many of you know, thanks to Dr.Oz and other health promoters, that capsicum is widely believed to be a “cure for much-of-what-ails- you.”

Hot peppers,particularly, are touted as a good source of Vitamins A,B, C, and high in potassium, magnesium, and iron.

A number of studies show a correlation between a person’s intake of foods containing capsicum and the decreased risk of certain cancers and diabetes.

Hmph.. I knew this child had a paralegal background, but now she  done gon and got some medical learning!

At any rate, as part of my quest to eat healthy, I have long satisfied my need for hot, spicy foods by cooking with a variety of peppers; selecting the starred** items on the Chinese, Mediterranean, Carribbean, and Indian restaurant menus, and, of course, growing peppers in my beloved jardin.

This summer’s bounty was unrivaled after I found some varieties of peppers beyond my usual habanero, jalapeño, and Serrano staples on a trip to No VA. I returned with a box of healthy seedlings that included: Tabasco, super hot chili, and a habanero guaranteed to light your fire.

I planted these among my perennials because the soil was richer in that area and it received the most sunlight (a few went in pots). Within 2 months, the Tabasco and Hottest Habanero had turned into 2 foot bushes and by August, were producing bucketfuls of these hot gems.

I decided to freeze some of the brightly colored heat bringers so I could use them in the winter and also experiment with some pepper recipes, namely hot jam and Tabasco sauce.( My foray into jam making thanks to my co-foodie JB aka flyboy was documented in my previous year’s blog).

A pic is worth a thousand words. The habaneros became  Pineapple mango hot jelly spread, and the tabascos that took the form of a science project (fermenting them for 30 days in a jar with salt/water in a dark cabinet) resulted in a hot sauce so hot I am almost afraid to eat it!

A few hardy friends and family received these treats for Christmas gifts. Most of them are used to getting my to-die-for banana bread and/or lemon blueberry bread as gifts, but this year I thought I would stimulate their palate and help ward off the Big “C” and”D” so pervasive among our community.

Dad even remarked on my last visit that… Its good on bread and chicken and everything ! When are you making some more?

Bon appetite, Readers

 

 

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