Sparkling Trails in the Sunlight

This morning as Miss Sophie and I went for our morning constitutional, the sun was bright and it wasn’t quite so cold.  I could almost believe that Spring might be on her way.  (Yes, PLEASE.)  The sky was a vivid blue and the sun was reflected on the sidewalk, turning it almost white.

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In that gorgeous sunlight I noticed the sparkling silver trails across the sidewalk.  I wondered where the trailblazers were and if they had made it through the night.

Looking at those trails reflecting the morning light, I wondered, will my own trail reflect the light like that after I’m gone out of sight on this journey?  Will it be a beautiful thing to see and think about on a morning filled with hope?  Will those who knew nothing of me see the path I’ve traveled on and feel inspired?

Something to think about as I plan my steps and make my way.

Love to all.

 

Until Everybody’s Free

A week ago Cooter and I traveled up to Wesleyan to attend Core Ensemble’s production of “Ain’t I a Woman.”

Many years ago, I read Sojourner Truth’s words calling for men to get out of the way and let women fix the world.  I fell in love with her then.  A strong woman who had suffered through so many hardships.  I knew when I saw that this was being performed that I had to go.

What an amazing evening it was.  Cooter sat quietly, drawing and listening and happy sitting next to his big sister who met us there for the performance.  He was there to see her–me for the performance.

Amazing is an understatement.  One young woman played four different roles.  One young man played the piano with music that suited each story.  Between the two of them my eyes were opened and my heart was touched.  And broken.

The first woman to come on stage was a sassy Zora Neale Hurston.  She was delightful and the music was a bluesy jazz that I adored.  Laughter was heard all through the audience when she said, with her head cocked just so:

“Love, I find, is like singing. Everybody can do enough to satisfy themselves, though it may not impress the neighbors as being very much.”

The next woman to come out and visit for a bit was Clementine Hunter, an elderly artist whose story was fascinating.  I loved her accent and her passion for what she was doing.  That she didn’t begin painting until she was in her 50’s was an encouragement to me.  When she showed her painting of a young couple being married, she pointed out that the bride looked scared.  The groom did too.  “Men need to be scared,” she adamantly stated.  Ha.  She was delightful right up to the end, when she “kicked” us all out because she had work to do.

Sojourner Truth was powerful and to the point.  I have seen her speech re-enacted by many women, but I still get chill bumps each and every time I hear those words.  “And ain’t I a woman!”

Then came Fannie Lou Hamer.  Oh me.

What an incredible story–this woman who set out to register to vote because IT WAS NOW LEGAL for her to do so, and she lost her job.  It only got worse from there.  On the way back from a conference in Charleston in 1963, she and her traveling companions were stopped in Mississippi and arrested, jailed, and beaten.

I was on the edge of my seat.  In tears.  I was willing for the words she was about to say, for the story she was telling about what happened to her–for those words not to be the horrific ones that they were bound to be.  I didn’t want to hear them, but more than that, I didn’t want them to be true.

But they were.

Here’s something I want y’all to know.

We are teaching history all wrong.

If we want to make an impact on our young people, if we want to make them want to change things for the better so things like what happened to Mrs. Hamer don’t happen again, we need to do just what the Core Ensemble performers did–take it out of the book and make it come to life.

Because I walked out of there, weeping on the inside, torn up over a history that I didn’t cause but one I haven’t really worked to change either.  And things like this are still going on.  Discrimination.  Racism.  Bigotry.  Hatred.  Abuse of power.  Slander.  Exclusion.  So many hard and horrible wrongs are still happening.

When I sat there and saw Ms. Hamer’s body react to the lashes she described, when I saw her walk weakly across the “room” from her “hospital bed,” when I watched her hands bound in her gown “handcuffs,”  I wanted to jump on that stage and stop it right then.  I was glad that my oldest, who has just begun in earnest on her journey of who she is becoming, was there to witness the horrors that have gone before.  I was thankful that her heart was touched.  As were the hearts of many of her friends in the audience.

I did notice one young woman a few rows in front of us, whose head was bent over her phone or a pad of paper, it was hard to tell which.  She rarely looked up at what was playing out in front of her.  I wondered later if she would just rather not have been there, or was that her way of avoiding a story that was too painful to bear.

Because, if so, I get it.

Tonight I’m thankful for the opportunity to hear the stories of these courageous and ordinary women from “their own” mouths.  Their stories stand out but there are so many others like them, whose stories haven’t been heard.  My heart and respect goes out to them as well.  I’m thankful for having my eyes opened to what our country’s story was in the not too distant past; and I realize that many days we are still there, it’s just disguised in another way.

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As I left Porter Auditorium last Thursday night, I watched my oldest and youngest walk together, and I realized that they are the ones who will change this world for the better.  I am doing the best I can, but I realize that one of the greatest things I can do for this world is raise children for whom these stories also bring frustration and a sense of what is right and wrong and a drive to stand up for those who have been wronged.  More than that, I hope I am raising them to cut off the wrong before it ever has a chance to get started.

Because, in the words of Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

Amen.

Love to all.

 

 

 

The Birds Don’t Have a Weather App

The past couple of days have been unseasonably warm here in Georgia.  I’m not complaining, mind you, but while I enjoyed the warm air and I think my toes might actually have defrosted, I knew better than to trust it.

Sure enough, yesterday just before dark when Miss Sophie and I ventured out, there was a nip in the air again.

*sigh*

I know we haven’t had the snow to deal with like so many in our nation, but I live here for a reason.  (Well for several, but the pertinent one right now is that I don’t do snow.)

I thought I loved it when I was a child.  I think that had to do with how it caused school to be called off.  Just the threat of it sometimes was all it took.  As an adult though, I do not care for it at all.  Sure, it’s pretty, but it’s cold and slushy and just COLD.

This morning when I took Miss Sophie out for her morning constitutional, I opened the door, and the wind and cold took my breath away.

Do what?

Holding the leash in one hand, I immediately used my other one to open up my phone and look at the weather app.  I wanted to KNOW.  I mean I knew it was cold, but I wanted to know “how cold.”  (Because apparently my nose freezing up immediately and my breath coming out in visible puffs and not being able to feel my fingers wasn’t evidence enough.)

39.  Wind chill 34.

See?  I KNEW it was cold.

As we walked and I urged Miss Sophie to tend to her business a little faster, I listened to the birds singing.  I saw the cat Domino.  They didn’t need an app to know it was cold.  They didn’t have an app to prepare them for this cold weather.  They just existed.  I wondered if they were able to read signs that our people once paid close attention to.  I don’t know of many who can read the old weather signs much anymore.  We depend on the News Reports and the weather apps and there’s even that whole channel dedicated to weather and all that goes with it.

For goodness’ sake, I KNEW it was cold, and I still had to double-check the app.

It amazes me how dependent we as a people (okay ME) have become on electronics and the internet and all of these apps.

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I do wonder what would have happened if I tried to pull out my phone and tell my Granny what the weather was going to be next week.  I’m thinking I might have gotten an earful.

The thing is today was cold.  Next week (according to the app) it will be warmer.  But I don’t trust it.  I know March 20 is the first day of spring, but I also know that Easter isn’t until April 5.  Granny always said there’d be an Easter cold snap.  That’s why folks who know don’t plant their gardens until Good Friday, two days before Easter.  And every single year, I’ve watched spring tease us and then step back and let that cold snap come right in and take over for a bit.  Granny was right.

Every single time.  Without an app.

Tonight I’m thankful for the birds and the cat (and all the other critters–except the snakes and spiders, I can only be so charitable) who survive and even thrive despite the cold.  I’m thankful for whatever tips them off that it’s going to be cold so they can do what they need to do to be okay.  I’m thankful for the wisdom of the folks from way back–knowing about things like Easter cold snaps–that they passed along the line.  Most of all, I’m thankful that, even though it’s not quite here, there is a light at the end of the frozen tunnel–and its name is spring.

Love and warm wishes to all.

 

Asking for Directions

I found myself able to etch out an hour or so yesterday evening to make a serious grocery shopping haul.  It’s been a while since I’ve spent that long in a store stocking up.

I made a rookie mistake from the start.  Cart choice.

The cart I chose was too small for all I needed to get.  And the way the wheels rolled were wonky.  Ka-dump, ka-dump, ka-dump.  All the way through the store.

But I persevered nonetheless, and I was about a third of the way through the store when an elderly gentleman walked slowly past me, looking perplexed.  I couldn’t help it–it had probably been twenty minutes since I had talked to anyone, so the side of me that I get from my Mama took over, and I asked him if he was looking for something.

Turns out he was looking for the jelly.  My mind spun around and it took me a minute to get my bearings. And then I remembered.  “Over by the bread,” I told him and gave him the directions to find it.

He smiled and was on his way.

For whatever reason, I came across two others lost, looking for a particular something in the store I’ve come to know pretty well (of course now that I do, they are going to change it all up in the next couple of months)–one was looking for juice and the other for aluminum foil.  I was able to recall locations and give directions both times.   (No small feat–busy store, long list, I was a bit befuddled at best.)

This evening I saw something that never fails to take my breath away.

The river of birds

The river of birds

A river of birds.

When I see them, I always think of our friend Pastor Bill who shared about the river of birds at our cousin’s memorial service almost two years ago.

I was so thankful to see them.  It had been a long and tiring day, and when I lifted my eyes to see them, my spirits lifted a bit as well.  I realized I’d been feeling a little lost today myself.

The birds were all flying together, in one direction.  Sharing the journey.  So that not one got lost on its way.

You know what those soaring wonders, flowing along so gracefully, taught me?

Don’t go it alone.

Tonight I’m thankful for folks who are brave enough to ask for directions when they feel lost and are looking for something.  They remind me to have courage to do the same when I’m searching for something or someone and can’t find my way.  I’m also thankful for the beauty in the journey when it’s taken together–how it makes the work of living a little easier with folks all around you headed on the same path.

May we too learn from the birds, and find ourselves surrounded by folks who can take turns leading and following and guiding us on our way.  May we never be truly alone for long, and when we are, I hope we can all find someone to ask for directions who might be willing to travel alongside us for a bit.

Love to all.

 

 

 

 

The Bricks and the Twine

I can still see, in my mind’s eye, my Daddy’s strong and weathered hands, tying the twine.  First through the hole on one clay brick, taking his time to tie it tight and knot it well.  Knowing how long he wanted it to be, he pulled his pocket knife out of his worn jeans pocket and cut it precisely.  He then went to work at tying and knotting it through the hole on the second brick.

The bricks were still warm from the rays of the sun.

He put his knife back in his pocket, and stood up to get on with the task at hand.

Daddy worked quietly and efficiently.  I enjoyed working alongside him, comforted by his presence and the songs of the birds near by.  He made his land a haven for many, birds included.  As he walked out to the plot of land he’d decided to garden that spring, his shadow grew long.  He was tall enough, but his shadows could stretch for yards that time of day.

Daddy handed me one brick and walked a ways before he set the other brick down at the edge of the plowed ground.  Telling me to keep a hold on my brick, he pulled it taut.

And so it began.  Daddy used the hoe to make a straight line for a straight row…..of corn, okra, squash, snap beans, peas…..whatever he decided he wanted to plant and whatever else Mama asked him to.  After he finished hoeing the straight rows, he handed me the bag of seed and told me how many and how far apart to plant them.

It just depended on what we were planting.

But the rows were always straight.  Daddy made sure of that.  As long as I followed what he’d mapped out, all was well.  I couldn’t go astray.

As it was for so much of my life.

Daddy guided, showed me the way, made suggestions on what and how much and the timing…..and then he let me grow.  I’m not saying I never went astray; there were times I did so with flying colors.  But with my Daddy there, I always knew where the right path was.  It depended on the situation, but he never failed to share his wisdom when I asked.  And he always had brick and twine to lay out the right course ahead of me.

The bricks out back are still warm from the rays of the sun.

But my Daddy’s hands are at rest, as is he.  The hands that were so strong–the same ones that held me when I was a baby, that toted the bucket of horse feed and me perched in on top of it, that lifted me up onto my horse, that guided my hands in brushing her and putting the bit in her mouth…..the hands that showed me how to do so many things, the hands that played cars with his grands and read books with them, and shelled peas that he’d just finished picking–those hands aged from the sun and hard work, the hands that wrote stories and love letters to his bride and poetry and letters to his children far away…..the hands that built and programmed computers and lifted knifes to slather peanut butter on just about anything it could go on…..those hands are no longer here to tie the twine and lay the bricks and hoe the straight rows to guide the garden…..or me.

Tonight I am thankful for the man who was the brick and twine in my life.  As time gets closer and the memories of those last days become more vivid…..again…..I listen to the birds and feel the warmth of the bricks and smell the fragrance of the tea olives he planted…..and I hug the children he loved so much.  I know that I have grown to be who I am because of the ground he plowed, the rows he laid, the seeds he planted and the weeds he pulled out of the garden of me.  As time continues to take me away from when he was here, I hope that I don’t grow too far away from the rows he planted, taking the time to lay them out.  With brick and twine.

The bricks that are still warm from the rays of the sun.

 

the strength of his hands

still carries me through hard times

and points the way home

~~~~~

the bricks are still warm

the same sun has watched him live

and knows he is gone

~~~~~

the garden, its rows

so straight and obedient

growing the good things

First Lady, Prolific Writer, Amazing Thinker

My Fella got a free magazine subscription for signing up for a discount card.  Just a few issues, but he could take his pick.  And he chose “Real Simple” for me.  Very sweet and I appreciate it.  Unfortunately, I don’t make a lot of time for sitting down and skimming through it.  But today I did.  I sat down with the latest issue and instead of turning on the computer, I read through about half of the magazine.  Turns out I really like this one.

There was a quote in there from Eleanor Roosevelt.  It gave credit to “My Day” in 1938.  I was not aware of what they were referring to, so I did a little digging.  I discovered here what this column actually was.  They describe it as:

“Eleanor Roosevelt’s “My Day” was a syndicated newspaper column published from 1935 to 1962. During those years, Eleanor wrote the column consistently six days a week, the only interruption being when her husband died, and even then she missed only four days. The column allowed Eleanor to reach millions of Americans with her views on social and political issues, current and historical events, and her private and public life. Dealing with subjects far out of the range of the conventional first lady’s concerns, “My Day” is an outstanding example of the breadth of issues and activities which occupied Eleanor Roosevelt’s life.”

Wow.  She wrote six days a week for over 27 years.  Amazing.  (I have a long way to go.)

What an interesting representation of life through those years.  I’m excited to learn that there is a compilation of her most memorable columns available.  They can also be read on-line here.  Mrs. Roosevelt was a “blogger” before such a thing even existed, I’m thinking.

I love this quote I found tonight as I was searching around on the web.

“NOVEMBER 5, 1958 – If the use of leisure time is confined to looking at TV for a few extra hours every day, we will deteriorate as a people.”

A woman ahead of her time in this line of thinking.  Yes ma’am.

But I digress. (No surprise there, I’m sure.  I seem to be chasing rabbit trails this evening.)

This is the quote from the magazine, and it has intrigued me much of today.

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I’ve thought about this, and I am wondering if I agree or disagree.  I’ve been talking about “just love each other” and “#bethefeather,” but maybe I should consider dosing out a bit of Miss Manners or Emily Post for myself and those I’m supposed to be teaching?

Mama instructed us over and over throughout the years, “Act like you are somebody.”  This did NOT mean act like you are better than others, just act like you had good raisin’s (which we did) and carry on as such.  We were not seven course, all kinds of silverware at each meal kind of folks, but we were raised to ma’am and sir and respect our elders.  Speak when spoken to.  Look folks in the eyes.  Show respect. Please and thank you and open the doors.  Be good stewards of our things and our relationships.  All of that sounds like good manners to me, but sometimes I see the line between the two–loving others and good manners–as being a bit blurred. But then you don’t have to love someone to treat them kindly and with respect.  Mama taught me that too.

Before I close, two more quotes from Mrs. Roosevelt–I swanee she and my Mama were kindred spirits.  Mama has shared similar words over the years.

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” –E. Roosevelt

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” –E. Roosevelt

Tonight I’m thankful for my Mama who was a strong woman and raised us to be strong, compassionate, and respectful people.  I’m grateful for my Fella choosing a magazine for me, this one that has me stepping outside the box and learning something new.  Doors opening to see inside the life of this amazing and strong woman, Eleanor Roosevelt.  I give thanks for the life she led and the example she set, and that I can share it with my children.

Isn’t it funny the things we can learn, if we’ll just step away from the screen and do something different?

So what do y’all think–manners or “brotherly” love?

Love to all.  (politely offered of course) 😉

 

 

Old Sewing Scissors and Things Made New

This morning our Princess and I had a Mama/Princess event.  Aub was at work, and the Fella and Cooter were out doing their “Guy’s Breakfast.”  So my girl and I went to Bare Bulb Coffee for a tie-dyeing and “upcycling t-shirts into scarves” class led by one of my favorite local artists Micah Goguen and his trusty assistant.

It.  Was.  BIG Fun.

Princess working on her tie dye project.

Princess working on her tie dye project.

Gathered with friends and folks we had not met before, we cut, we twisted, and we bound with rubber bands–so many rubber bands–and then we bleached two color tees (one green and one yellow)-and our Princess added beautiful color to her white tee.  The bleached ones we have already washed, and I love the patterns that came out in them.  The tie-dyed one will be revealed tomorrow.  She is almost beside herself with excitement.

Our Princess' tie-dyed scarf project, waiting for the reveal.

Our Princess’ tie-dyed scarf project, waiting for the reveal.

We returned as a family this afternoon to dye pillowcases to brighten the stays of young ones at the Children’s Hospital in Macon.  For a little guy who didn’t want to go, Cooter had a great time.  He loved blending the colors and turning the white pillowcase into something cheerful and fun.  Cooter, Princess, and my nephew Shaker all enjoyed themselves, and after they’d colored a pillowcase for a child in the hospital, they each were allowed to decorate one for themselves.  They were told that sleeping on it could help them remember to pray for and send light to someone sick in the hospital.

Shaker's pillowcase project.....he was really getting into it by the time he was working on the second one.

Shaker’s pillowcase project…..he was really getting into it by the time he was working on the second one.

Beautiful, right?

This morning my knitting diva friend–Micah’s trusty assistant, who can do anything from building a deck or stairs for her dogs to climb into bed to knitting and sewing clothes for her grandchildren and their dolls, was teaching us how to make the scarves once our fabric was ready.  As she began showing us the first step, she looked around.  “Where are my scissors?” she asked, checking the counter and tables.

Someone reached to hand her a pair of theirs.  “Here, these are really good scissors.”

My friend shook her head gently, and said, almost to herself, “No, let me find my blue-handled ones.”  And then she did.  The lesson continued.

It made me smile.  Just an hour earlier when my girl was getting ready to cut her shirt as directed, she was having a hard time with a pair of scissors.  A kind woman behind us offered us her scissors.  “Here, use these.  They are dressmaker’s scissors.  They are made for cutting fabric.”  (They may have been, but my girl still struggled a bit, which made me wonder about an “operator” issue.  Never mind that, she did get it cut and we moved on.)

It tickled me later when I started thinking back on my day.  And as I laughed to myself, I was also laughing at myself.

I don’t know if it happens all over, but us folks around here, we take our sewing scissors seriously.  In case you didn’t know, yes, sewing scissors are only for sewing.  And they are treasured and taken care of.

Which is probably why I asked if I could have my Mama’s sewing scissors.

To my knowledge they never touched anything other than fabric.

Okay, not more than one time.  And I said I was sorry.

Those scissors were special.  They were always ALWAYS where they belonged (but then again, not much in Mama’s house wasn’t) and they always cut precisely.  I guess because she took them to be sharpened as they needed it.  I can remember seeing signs at Hancock’s Fabrics back in the day with the date the scissors sharpener “truck” would be there.  I guess Mama either took them there or Daddy might have sharpened them for her.  Either way, she took good care of those scissors.  And we knew we were to leave them alone.  They were NEVER EVER to touch paper.  Good heavens above, under NO circumstances were you ever to use them for a school project or even for cutting patterns as I recall.  And I only did once.  I felt so guilty over that, but as they are still cutting just fine, I guess the damage wasn’t irreparable.

I’m just as serious about my sewing scissors.  I don’t let the children use them at all.  I even got other scissors for cutting the fleece for blankets because I heard that fleece can dull them.  (And I am picky about my fleece scissors too–I have the ones that are spring loaded to make it easy for cutting the strips.  I often wonder why the fabric cutters in fabric stores aren’t issued those scissors–they sure can save your hands.)  I am sure I have traumatized a child or three when I’ve seen them casually reaching for my sewing scissors for a craft project.  Oh good gravy no.

Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to learn a new craft.  Mixing and changing colors–there is something soul-stirring in that.  Creating. All those shades of light and dark coming together to make beauty.  And finding a new purpose for something old and worn out, well, that fills me with hope.  I am looking to be repurposed myself sometimes.  To be made over for a new way to be in this world.  And I’m grateful for the memories of my Mama and her scissors and to have people in my life who still live with the old ways.  Sometimes–no, I’m starting to realize more and more–most of the time, the old ways ARE the best.

I was just thinking, sometimes it’s best to hold on to the old, but sometimes it’s best to create something new…..and sometimes you can do both at the same time…..

Life sure is a funny thing sometimes, isn’t it?

The transformation from t-shirt to scarf…..creation, I love it!

The bottom part used to be the same color as the top part of the shirt.  Who would have thought that bleach would turn it such a beautiful red clay color?

The bottom part used to be the same color as the top part of the shirt. Who would have thought that bleach would turn it such a beautiful red clay color?

Cutting off the bottom seam and then cutting the strips.  So thankful for a GOOD pair of sewing scissors.

Cutting off the bottom seam and then cutting the strips. So thankful for a GOOD pair of sewing scissors.

Almost finished scarf--haven't decided if I'm going to embellish with some old costume jewelry or not.  But very fun, yes?

Almost finished scarf–haven’t decided if I’m going to embellish with some old costume jewelry or not. But very fun, yes?