Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pretty, Pretty!

I was out at a Hancock fabric store a couple of weeks ago, doing some research for a couple of stories I'm writing (almost finished with those. Yay!) It was an interesting experience, especially since I don't sew. I spent a whole hour in there, just walking around and taking pictures, and texting different questions to Play Mama, who sews like crazy. So I got all the information I needed, then I left and walked down the strip plaza. There was another fabric shop around the way.

I went in and found out it wasn't really a fabric store. Well they had fabric, but that made up maybe a third of the place. It was a store that sold indian garb. Whatever you see the indian ladies wear - the long wrap around silk dresses and scarfs, etc., well, they had it... And they had it ALL.

Nice place. The incense bout knocked me out when I walked in, but overall, it was nice.

And they had a wall full of scarfs. Really pretty scarfs that were made of silk and pashimini. Whatever that is.

Pretty! Pretty!

Now that's a lot coming from me. I am a tomboy. I don't usually notice such things. But I stood there in amazement staring at all the wonderful colors and designs.

And I bought 3 scarfs.

And I rememeber staring in amazement at them.

Pretty, Pretty! Really pretty, soft scarfs. I just really loved the colors. Nope, not going to wear them. I don't have anything that matches them, and I am sure they won't go with jeans.


But I've decided to start giving those as gifts. Most of my friends are girly girls and love this type of stuff. A good gift idea indeed.


I made good use of the paisley one. I put that sucker on the sofa.


Okay. I must admit, I am not LadyLee Your friendly Neighborhood decorator. Nerp. Just looking for something to do with the scarf.


The white one is with Lucy (the Lexus). It seems to match her interior just fine. Don't know what to do with the red one. I just like the color.


My Grandmother would like that scarf on the sofa very much. She tends to cover furniture with blankets and towels.


I just want something that will let me lean back into the pillows and keep the shea butter and coconut oil off my sofa cushions.


This will do for now... 'til I find an alternative.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yay Octavia Spencer!



I would be remiss if I didn't celebrate Octavia Spencer's Oscar win all up in the House of LadyLee!

Hooooooraaaaaayyyyy!!!

Good for you, honey!

Octavia, aren't you glad you didn't listen to the haters? You know, the jokers who were like, "How dare you play a maid!"

Aren't you glad? I'm glad you didn't.

I'm with Viola. She says it's a part, and it's work. There's not much work out there for black actresses. I am disappointed that she didn't win the Oscar. That's okay. One day, Viola! One day!
When I saw The Help, I must say I liked it. Sure, I'd rather see us play superheros, or have the parts that the white actresses get, but until we get our own money, and are able to fund our own films, and get this: are willing to go out and support our own films, then it is what it is.

You must admit, the situations presented in The Help are a part of our past. I'm thankful now that those times are gone. Yet we still get angry when the films are made. And yes, it is enough to make one angry.

But I've said it before, and I will say it again. The most powerful man in America is a black man (President Barack Obama). The most powerful woman in America is a black woman (Oprah Winfrey).

Now if you don't think we done came up... well, you got issues. We have come up.

You can look at your nice car, nice job, nice house, and your nice cell phone and see that.

You don't have to dress in a maid's uniform and go clean white people's houses.

You done came up. That is all.

And it all reminds me of a convo I had, some 15 years ago, with my Grandfather. I was in my 20s, and I was in a doctorate program, working hard, tredging my way through. I went over to his house one day, to visit with him and my grandmother.

"How you doing, Sweet?" Grandaddy asked as he opened the door for me.
"I'm okay," I replied.

We both sat down in th living room, he in his big chair, me on the sofa.

"How's school going?" he asked.
"Oh, I hate school. I'll really be glad when it's over, because it is so hard."

I went on whining and whining. He sat there listening, no glaring at me.

"What?" I asked.
"You and this complaining. Cut that out."
"But it's hard," I whined.

And he said something to me that I will never forget.

"Your grandmama did not get on her hands and knees and scrub white people's floors so that you can sit here and complain."

*crickets*

I shut up REAL quick then. And from then on, when he asked me how school was, I'd holler

"Fine! School is fine!"

And it was. There was a time when my race wasn't even allowed in the schools I attended. I remember a janitor telling me one time, "Girl, we weren't allowed to even use the bathrooms in these schools, and here you are, attending and getting your doctor's degree."

My how we forget how far we have come.

And how quick we are to look down our noses at people who play roles in films of a past we want so much to forget. A past that shaped us all. It took strong women to deal with that mess.

My grandfather's words ring in my ears when I get to complaining too much. I wish he was still alive so I could hear those words again.

Because his words were true.

No, Grandma wasn't thinking about me when she was making $3 dollars a day plus cab fare for cleaning white people's houses. She was thinking about providing for her family.

And I was family. Future family.

So congrats to you, Octavia Spencer, on your Oscar win.

You did a great job in portraying a painful time of our past. It reminded me of how far we as a people have come...

... And the places we as a peoople are going.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Ramblings

Happy Good Fine Beautimous Monday Morning To Ya!

(note: it is now the afternoon. sigh)

Happy New Day to ya!

It's a NEW day! Out with the old! In with the new!

A new week!

And I get paid on Friday. *backflips*

And here's the New Day breakfast for 2/27/12



Grapefruit and Strawberries. That's what an Oldgirl eats when she is being too lazy to make some oatmeal or being too lazy to break out a skillet and fry up an egg and a piece of soy sausage.
LOL

I had a decent weekend. And you are not going to BELIEVE what I did Saturday.

I worked this Saturday.

ALL day.

NINE hours.

Wow.

You know me. I REFUSE to work on a weekend. Every since I worked 12 hours and they wanted to only wanted to give me credit for 8 hours, some years ago... well, you ain't seent the Oldgirl up at the workplace on the weekend unless I left something and had to come get it.

But I'd been a little left of center all last week with this cold. Just miserable, and just slow working. I didn't sleep but an hour on Friday night, and I got on up around 6:30 and got dressed and left on up out and came to work.

Man, there is NOBODY on I-75/85 that early in the morning. WOW!

But it was a good workday. Absolutely NO distractions. It's like I get twice as much done. So I just sucked it up, and went to work. It was a beautiful day outside, but hey, there will be other nice days.

The thing is, I needed to catch up. This cold got me more behind than usual.

The good thing is that the cold is over. And I am glad of that. My colds are like the flu, and that's a bit distracting. EVERY joint in my body has been hurting for several days. I thought I was going to have to break a branch off a tree and use it as a cane! Sheesh.



I actually started feeling better on Saturday.

But on Sunday? I felt great on Sunday. I almost broke out and tried to do a few **cartwheels**!

Friday night was interesting. I had a Women of Color Writing Workshop. Met a new writer, and that was really cool. We seem to have the same attitude towards our writing craft (working on honing our skills, etc), so that was good to know. She wrote the best line of the night in one of her stories... She gave me permission to repost it.

"Elevated voices, circular reasonings, and sweaty nights confused our four year relationship."

I think that one line encompasses any turbulent relationship... definitely one that will eventually go bust.

Hmm... I just thought that was exquisite.

Look for me to post up some stories. I got one especially for you, Chele!

*Chele spits her coffee all over her keyboard*

*Lee handing Chele the phone so she can call up the IT department*

LOL!

Picture of the Week. So, Play Mama sent me a picture of Uncle Tony...

That is his tribute to Whitney Houston.

O_o

Took me a minute to figure out what movie that was from!

Uncle Tony! You know what?

!!!!

You look like you either trying to look all hard (in your good Sunday church shirt), or you bout to bust out and sang "And IIIII will always love yooooooou!!!"

You make me wanna watch The Bodyguard... again for the umpteenth time this month!

Story Week Winner. Alright! We have a winner!

Lady Lifetime bounced into the lab, all happy and joyful, and I thrust my bag of names at her and she pulled the names! We pulled some alternatives.




If you're number 1? You're a winner!

Chele! Cookies for you, gal!

*cartwheels*

If Chele don't want her cookies, then it's fromny2ga, and if she don't want them, then it's my cubicle mate, The CowgirlCre!

So get at me Chele!

Holler at your girl!

That's it for me!

I hope you all have a great week... on purpose.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday... Finally!!!

It is Friday!

FINALLY!!

I am so glad.

I feel like I've been walking in quicksand ALL week long.

Because I have a cold. Trying to beat it. Trying my bestest.

Ugh.

I feel pretty good this morning. My head is not as stopped up as it has been all week, and I still have a cough, but my chest isn't all congested. It would do me well if I can take off, and I did that on Tuesday, but that's not the case now. So it takes me a little longer to get better.

So, needless to say, I am looking forward to the weekend. I MAY have to work a few hours this weekend.

I have had a very strange appetite, probably due to the cold. I don't want anything to eat, and it seems like salads have had to do for the week. I am surprised that I was a little snacky yesterday, so I must be getting better. However, I made something interesting last night with these noodles.




My coworker, Dr. Light Eyes, as I have called her here in the past, was gushing over them the other day. She works in the adjoining building, and we talk about vegetarian stuff from time to time when we see each other. I was standing there thinking "What the heck is she talking about?", but I listened intently to what she had to say.

"Girl, I had these noodles called Shiraki, Shitaki, something like that. I sauteed some vegetables, and added some teriaki sauce, and girl, I tell you, it was soooooo good. OH it was good. And the noodles are only 20 calories per serving... Oh it was so good!"

*crickets*



Dr. Light eyes was a little tooooooo happy about these special noodles.

I was standing there thinking, uh ok. I think I will try some of that.

"Where you see that at?"

"The noodles, they over there by the tofu, at Publix. And they are only."

I wasn't going to Publix anytime soon. But I did go to Whole Foods last night, and there they were. They were only $1.80 per pack. I bought a pack of the spaghetti noodles and the flat ribbon noodles. They are tofu based, so they were packed in a lot of water.

So I sauteed some veggies: onion, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, carrots, celery, mushrooms, zuchinni, yellow summer squash and broccoli.



(Don't worry. I cut up veggies in less than 5 minutes flat).


I added my noodles, and voila! I had a stirfry!


And it was... good.


I had to make sure it was seasoned up. The noodles taste kinda strange alone, as they are rubbery and slick. Just better make sure they got a lot of stuff on them and everything is seasoned up.


*lee adding more shirachi sause... adding a little more*


LOL!!


I will definitely be buying more of them. They are a great alternative to pasta.


Story Week. Hey now, listen. Thanks for coming through for storyweek! These were actually character sketches, not the full story. I'm prepping for writing part II of the whole Pop City Blues series, and these people - Cinnamon Sugar, Commander Bivins, and Touch- are people who will be more prominent in part II, I suppose. So I was just trying to get a snapshot of who they are and what they are thinking at the moment.


I work with an arm of the military. So I actually work with Commander Bivins... hmm.... She has read that part and she approves, lol.


Anyway, I've gotten a TON of writing done this year. Some 35,000 words, give or take a few. That's a lot. I just finished up a prequel to Sweet Heat, for those who read that some time ago. The whole Craig and Danielle story. So I am editing that up, and trying to figure out what I need to do with that. And right now I am working on a set of stories for someone's birthday. It's a surprise, and that will be finished by the end of March.


The goal is to write 500 words per day. I average about 750 words per day, with most days writing some 900 words. This week, I had a day where I wrote 2280 words. I just want to develop a persistent and consistent writing habit. That's all.


If you commented on any post this week for story week, including this one, you are entered into a drawing for a tin of cookies! *cartwheels*. So make sure you comment. The more you comment, the more chances of winning.


And yes, I had a few email comments. They count too!


Drawing on Monday!


Well tonight, I have a Women of Colors Writing group. I hope to get some good material out of that.


I hope to have a good weekend.


Correct that: I will have a good weekend.


On purpose.


You be sure to do the same. :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Character Sketch: "Touch"

I'm a hardworking man...

And my days are long.

I wake up at 5 in the morning, and I’m going strong until about 8 or 9 in the evening. Get on home around nine thirty, and I'm in the bed by eleven.

Six days a week.


That’s what it’s like when you’re running the neighborhood community center. A very popular neighborhood community center at that.

I’d been running it for the past seven years. And in that time, I’d seen it grow from a little hole in the wall with cement floors and a few scattered chairs, only useful for meetings, to an sprawling center of the community.

The senior citizens held their civic league meetings there. The boy scouts and girl scouts met there every month. The workout room was getting good use. There were birthday parties, awards ceremonies and the like. Hell, there’d even been a few weddings there over the years.

I stand in the place at night sometimes, just before I'm leave, and look around in amazement.

I, Toucheaux Baptiste, had put my business management degree to good use. I was an expert at writing grants and obtaining funds, and this place was growing. And we were always in the black, never in the red.

I was helping people. Building up a community.

I, Toucheaux Baptiste, was doing a good thing.

And that was my nature, you see. Just like my great great Aunt Toucheaux. I was named after her.

Don't you laugh now because I was named after a woman. Don't laugh. I'm proud of my name.

I have a twin brother, who was born five minutes after me.

He's the unlucky one. His name is Tony.

I was lucky enough to be named after such a great woman.

For my Aunt Toucheaux Baptiste, she was the family matriarch. Great great woman. She lived to be 105 years old. I don’t remember much about her. I just remember, from a young child's point of view, that she was old as hell. She had long flowing silver hair, and she spoke the creole language all the time. Only spoke to me and my brother in clipped English from time to time.

“You boys, whatever you do in life, please make sure you take care of the village. The village, the community comes first. Always.”

We didn't know what that meant. We just wanted her to stop talking to us so we could go run and play in her big front yard.

We didn't go over there much. Sometimes we went just to visit and have lunch. This unnerved my mother something terrible. I’m not sure she ever adjusted to the Baptiste family and its ways. She’d always tell the two of us…

“When we go to Aunt Toucheaux house, you two best behave yourselves. Don’t touch nothing, you hear me? If you touch anything, I'm whipping tails, you hear me?”

My brother and I nodded our heads.

It would’ve been best that two hard headed boys were not told such things. It always peeked our ever active curiosities.

Aunt Toucheaux had trinkets and figurines everywhere. She called them antiques. We called it junk. And everytime we lifted an antique, there was money underneath. Dollar bills were even under placemats. I opened the kitchen drawer to get a spoon for my ice cream, and instead of silverware, there were stacks of shiny quarters. I'd never seen so much money, ever.

Mama would yell at us good. "I told you boys not to touch nothing in that woman's house!"

You see, Aunt Toucheaux was a true woman of the community. She ran numbers. She was a loneshark. She sold moonshine, too. I heard she ran guns. And no telling what else she was into.

(Probably why I love Eartha down at the Copper Skillet so much. She believes just as heavily in "supporting" the community in much the same way Aunt Toucheaux did.)

Yeah, I was named after this flawed great woman. I don’t mind. It don’t sound like a woman’s name. And the name fit right in where I was raised, in the Bayous in Lousiana.

Aunt Toucheaux's lecutures on community must've sunk into our heads. I ran a community center. My brother Tony was a hotshot lawyer. It trips me out everytime I see his commercials on TV, him standing there at a car wreck, decked out in a designer suit and fresh gators.

"Been in a wreck? Them people did you wrong? Did you fall on the job? One call, that's all. Call me! The Storng arm! Tony Baptiste, Attorney at Law!"

That Tony... he had his own special brand of community service going on.

Anyway, people don’t call me Toucheaux anyway..

They called me Touch.

I don't have to think back to far to remember where this started. My nickname has always been Touch. Me and my brother were some wannabe rappers back in our teen years, and we formed a group called "Touch Tone". We rapped over homemade beats laced with the touchtone sounds of the telephone. Our silly butts walked around with big sunshades on, and big fake rope gold chains with telephones hanging from them.

Let's just say Touch Tone won a few talent shows. Touch Tone was popular with the local girls. And that's about as far as that ever went.

It's just within the last few years that people took a notion to calling me “Touch the Baptist”. It started when all the grant money started coming in for the community center and progress was being made.

One of the elderly women of the neighborhood asked me one day, while looking all around, eyes darting back and forth in an effort to make sure no one was listening, “Boy, you doing all this with drug money?”

“No ma’am,” I said. “It’s being done with grant money from public and private sources. There's plenty of federal and private money available for community projects.”

She smiled. She had no idea what I was talking about. I could see it in her eyes. She was just happy I wasn’t a drug dealer.

And sometime later, she raised her shaky hand at a community meeting. It was just after I'd given a speech on some of the progress and plans for the center and had opened the floor for questions. She stood up, and walked up to the front and stood next to me.

She grabbed my bicep with her wrinkled bony fingers and hollered, “If you want blessings, or some of that good luck in your life, all you gotta do is Touch the Baptist!”

“Touch the Baptist,” everybody yelled in unison.

Scared the hell out of me. Especially since I’m not even Baptist. I was raised Catholic. I haven’t been to a Mass in years, but I still claimed Catholic.

So every since then, the myth was in full affect:

If you touch the Baptist, you’ll be blessed. You’ll have good luck.


This was alright when it came to the old ladies. But some of them started winning the Cash 3 numbers game, coming into money. Good things were happening for them and their families.

And it all supposedly came from “Touching the Baptist”.

I gotta tell you, it got on my last nerve. It’s bad when you gotta hear each and every day, sometimes ten times a day,

“Can I please Touch the Baptist?”

That doggone prostitute Cinnamon Sugar was the worst one of all. I did all I could to avoid her tail. Everytime she saw my truck turn the corner, she’d step out in the middle of the street and block my way. I’d try to go around her and she’d move to block my way again. She’d walk slowly around to my drivers side window and rap hard on it until I let it down. She’d blink her eyes, like she just knew she was the sexiest woman on earth, and croon in a low voice

"Look at you, Toucheaux, with your pretty curly hair, and that sexy deep voice, with your ol'high yellow pretty self. There's nothing like a big strong pretty man. I'll do you for free, Touch! Anytime, Anyplace!"

"Come on, Cinnamon. Now you know that's not gonna happen."

"I bet if I do you, I'll win that Mega millions or that Powerball. And if I do, I'll split the 300 million with you. Right down the middle. I'm good for it. Just tell me where, how, when and how long. Me and you, Baby."

"Cinnamon, I ain't got time for you today. I got things to do, now. Come on, now."

She's put her hands on her narrow hips and say real low, "Baby, I just wanna know. Can I please touch the Baptist?"

I wouldn't even say anything else, just look straight ahead. She’d grab my tensed up bicep and squeeze it with her bony fingers.

“Bye Cinnamon,” I always yelled, just before hitting the gas and screeching off down the road.

And the whole world, even the dead, could see her standing in the middle of the street, doing some crazy Hammertime dance hollering “I touched the Baptist! I’m gonna make big money, money tonight, baby! Big money, Big money!”

One of the other prostitutes told me, when she came down to the soup kitchen we held on holidays, “You know, Cinnamon Sugar clear a good two or three hundred dollars a night whenever you come through and she touch you. You might be a good luck charm after all. A real live magic genie. I might have to touch you, too.”

I wish everybody thought that.

I wish Commander Bivins thought that.

Everybody wanted to touch the Baptist.

I just wanted to touch the Commander.

Let me tell you something. I’m all man and everything, all about taking care of a woman, being the man of the house. Just a man's man.

But there is nothing sexier than a woman who runs things. Nothing turns me on more than a woman who wields a gun. Lord have Mercy, I’ve seen this woman draw her gun, yell “Police”, and bust a door down with one kick. She’d run up in the place and drag out whoever didn’t do what she say.

She was the wrong person to mess with. She could jump a fence in a single bound. Knock down and cuff a fool twice her size. Interrogate a smug joker so hard that he would pee on himself.

She could clear the room with one look.

She was bad. She was ALL that.

And she loved her community.

A bit too much, if you ask me..

And that's coming from a man who's all about the community. Community is my life.

We’d been friends for many years. I was in the military with her late husband. I was there for her when he passed. I became a stand in father figure for her son, who's away at law school now.

I’d see her up at the bars over on Marietta street unwinding with some of the other cops, even though it wasn't her thing. “I’m all about comradarie and morale,” she’d told me one day. “I’m all about being a good boss, and if that means hanging out in a smoky bar drinking Shirley temples from time to time, then so be it.”

I would kick back with her sometimes. I didn’t like smoky bars myself, but I liked her. Yeah, her late husband had been my friend, but he was gone.

And no woman should be alone.

Unless she wanted to be.

So I started taking her out. A dinner, a movie on the north side of town, away from the static of the hood. Just a friendly thing, you see. It had to be hard running a police department. The girl had to woman had to kick back and unwind sometimes.

Might as well have been with me.

So one day, we were talking about some of the things she needed done around the house. She really needed some bookshelves built in her den. I volunteered to do it, since I'd done much of the carpentry up at the community center, for free if she bought the materials. We each took a much needed day off and got to work.

I have to tell you, besides seeing my daughter born some fifteen yeas ago, that had to be one of the absolute best days of my life. We had the best time.

I built shelves with the Commander.

I painted shelves with the Commander.

I ate with the Commander.

I watched a movie with the Commander.

I danced with the Commander.

I made love to the Commander.

I swear. Hear me now, believe me later. That was one of the best days of my life.

I understand what they mean now when they say time stood still.

Time stood still that day.

To hell with that “Touch the Baptist” business.

I touched the Commander.

I was walking on air after that. I went down to the police station whenever I got a chance. I was front row and center whenever she gave the neighborhood updates at the weekly community center town hall meetings. I was waving and smiling hard whenever she drove by, playing that Dianna Ross music. (Not sure what that was about. But hey, if she liked it, I loved it).

If the collar of her shirt was crooked, I’d stick my hand out and straighten it. If her hair was in her face, I’d move it out the way. If her badge wasn’t hanging right, I’d straighten that up too.

I was crazy about the commander.


Then one day, I’d made a trip to her office at the police station, just to give her a bag of fresh vegetables from our award winning community center garden, as I liked to do from time to time. She asked me to close the door, because we needed to talk.

And my smiling tail did just as she asked.

She was sitting in her chair, with her feet propped up on her desk, in her trademark black outfit, staring at me.

I wanted to kiss the commander. Right then and there. But I hadn't been physical with her since that day that time stood still.

And I took a step closer to her. She held up her hand to halt me.

“Uh, we can’t do this, Touch,” she said. “People are starting to talk. And we just can’t do this.”

“What?” I said.

“This situation that's trying to get started between us. It's a breach of community trust. Not good for the community.”

"What?"

"Touch, you heard what I said. You're not deaf."

I threw the bag of vegetables down. “Screw the community!”

“Keep your voice down now,” she said, in a tone like she was talking about the weather. “Calm down.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down,” I said. “I'm down for you, Lutrice. Me and you, we got something special. I won't calm down.”

“Oh yes you will. And you will right now,” she said. “You’re gonna pull yourself together, walk out that door, get in your truck, and go on back to the community center. That's what you're gonna do. Right now.”

“No,” I said.

“Yes,” she said.

"Nope."

"Yes you are."

"Lutrice," I whined.

"No, call me Commander from now on. Commander Bivins while I'm on duty."

Let’s just say, she got her way. I left up out of there.

Crying like a bitch.

Shit.

It hurts to even talk about it right now.

Things hadn’t been that great between us since then, when that happened. Nothing but business when we talked. She’d sent a text message wishing me happy birthday.

I deleted it. I didn’t even answer it and say thank you.

And I tell you, my mind ain’t been right since then. I swear, every time I close my eyes I’m thinking of her. I’m thinking of that soft brown skin. The sweet scent of her still clings to my nostrils. I can still see the flecks of gold in her brown eyes.

I can stll taste her and feel her.

I still see her guns on nightstand. And I can hear her gun holster knocking up against the wall and the bed post when I was loving her down.

It’s like she’s on me, and I just can’t get her off of me.

My heart was all broke up. Wish I could do what everybody else like to do: touch myself for a bit a blessing, some good luck, or whatever came along with touching me.

And I did that sometimes. I’d put my hand on my own chest. Nothing special ever happened, save for feeling the beat of my own heart.

Even though it was broke, it was still there, beating hard.

Touching myself brought me no blessings. It brought me no good luck.

I guess touching me didn’t do for her what it did for others, either.

Getting to sleep at night was hard. It was fall now, and my baby girl Lil’ Touch, who always spent the summers with me, had gone on home back to Louisiana to her Mama. I loved having her around. At least she gave me something to focus on. I wish I could get custody of her. But it was best she be with her Mama and stepfather and siblings.

I was too much of a mess. And as a man, that’s hard to admit.

I think about this each and every night when I’m alone with my thoughts, trying to fall asleep.

And tonight, I was laying there, listening to the sound of the evening rain, when I got a call on my cell phone from the Commander.

“Touch, I need you,” she’d said.

My heart felt like it stopped. I even got light headed. I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out.

“Let me rephrase that,” she said, when I didn’t respond. “I need you down on Pine Street. There’s been another murder. And Frank Simpson is out of town. You’re second in command of the Neighborhood watch, so I need you down here asap.”

My heart started beating again.

Business, I told myself. It’s business.

“Okay, give me fifteen minutes. I’ll be there.”

She disconnected without saying another word.

“Yes, I’ll be there, Lutrice,” I said as I got out of bed and pulled on my pants.

“I’ll be there, Commander.”

I’ll always be there... whenever you need me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Character Sketch: "Police Commander T.L.Bivins"

Omens and signs.

Signs and omens.

I believe in them. I believe in them all.

I love Jesus. I love the Lord, too. Like I was taught from an early age.

But I do know if I am driving down the road, and I hit a squirrel, it means there’s gonna be problems on the job that day.

That’s an omen that makes me close my eyes tight and hold my breath. It never fails. The last time that happened, one of my officers was shot. The time before that, we lost a few squad cars in a high speed car chase.

Omens and signs, signs and omens. A black cat running in my path. Breaking a mirror. They are all signs.

Signs, omens.

I’m not suppose to believe these things. That’s what my pastor says, as he screams it from the pulpit.

“Jesus is the truth and the light. Those things are things of the world. We are not of the world. We’re covered by the blood.”
But the pastor wasn’t there when my husband Jeffrey was in the bathroom, shaving that morning, and telling me about the squirrel he hit, and how the fur and blood was still stuck all in the grill of the squad car, and how it was hard to wash off, even with a fire hose. The pastor wasn’t there when my husbands shaving mirror fell off the pedestal and hit the counter. The pastor wasn’t there when the shards of glass, too many to count, fell into the sink. He wasn’t there when Jeffrey said “Baby take care of this for me. I’m running late, gotta go. Got that big sting going down tonight and I can’t be late.”

And I wanted Jeffery on out of there, too. He always played his Diana Ross greatest hits CD when he was getting ready for work. I never understood why he loved Dianna Ross so much. All I knew was that as soon as he left, I could turn it off.

The pastor wasn’t there when I got the call in the middle of the night that the sting had gone terribly wrong, and Jeffrey had been killed in a shoot out.

It had been a warm sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. And when I was standing on the porch waving goodbye to my Jeffrey as day turned to dusk, I heard the low rumble of thunder, and felt the raindrops fall on my face.

Signs and Omens, omens and signs.

Dead squirrels in the road. Shards of Glass in the bathroom sink.

A bright sunny cloudless day morphing into a thunderous cold rainy night.

Signs and Omens, omens and signs.

They are not of God. But at the same time, they never lie.


Some five years later, and something's wrong. I hit a squirrel on my way home from work. I did my best to avoid him, but it was as if the rodent had a suicide mission. I saw the blink of his eye just before I felt the crunch of his body beneath my tire.

The magnifying mirror I use when I remove my makeup at night fell over somehow, even though I am careful when I use it.

And as I lay in bed, in the dark, in the quiet of the night, lost in my thoughts… a low rumble of thunder as menacing as the growl of a protective dog invaded my space, soon followed by a hard steady rain.

It was just sunny and hot today, I thought. Not a cloud in the sky. Now it was raining?

I lay there listening, thinking of Jeffrey, and how he died on a night such as this.

It had been five years since I buried Jeffrey. I’d made my peace with it. There were times, though, when the feelings from the weight of his loss crept up on me and covered me like a dark shadow.

Those times were few and far between, though. I was a Commander now, leader of my own zone. I had to be strong. I was the first black woman in that role, a squadron of officers under my charge.

I had to be strong, even though my heart hurt.

Just as I had drifted off to sleep that night, my phone rang.

“Bivins,” I answered.

“Commander, this is Officer Dawkins. We have a problem in Pop City that needs your immediate attention.”

I looked over at the clock. 10:45 pm. The last time I’d glanced at the bright digital numbers, it was a quarter ‘til 10.

An hours worth of sleep. Better than no sleep at all.

“Fill me in.” I sat up and swung my feet over the side of the bed. I winced at the coolness of the hardwood floor on the soles of my feet.

“There’s been another murder.”

Another murder. Another young brother gunned down in the streets. And this wasn’t a turf war thing, dealers killing rival dealers trying to take away sales.

No, this was something more. Someone had been killing the young black men, popping them off one by one, execution style. Clean and professional. There had been ten murders in the past two years. The only positive thing that had come out of it was that everyone was scared and stayed behind closed doors.

Crime had gone down to nothing in Pop City… save for these murders.

“Where at?” I asked.

“Over near Poplar avenue.”

“Really? After all that mess that went on last week?”

“Well not Poplar Avenue. On the cross street, Pine street, right off of Poplar.”

Shoot. That was close enough.

We were short a couple of officers, both who had been put on administrative leave pending investigation of that mess last week. That meant I had to do a little more than I had to do. I had to make sure I made a presence at any violent crime scene.

“Give me twenty minutes,” I said. “I’ll be over there.”

We hung up. I washed up and quickly threw on my gear that I laid out earlier for the next day… black turtleneck, black slacks and black boots.

I grabbed my badge on a gold chain from the doorknob of my bedroom door and hung it around my neck. I put on my holster, secured my guns, and grabbed my keys and got out to the car.

I turned the volume on the portable CD player up. Diana Ross was talking about my heart right now.




I hurried down the street, off to Pine Street to see what was going on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Character Sketch: "Cinnamon Sugar"

“Cinnamon Sugar.”

That is how I always introduced myself.

And if you pay close attention, you will notice that I don’t say “Hi, my name is Cinnamon Sugar.”

First of all, I ain’t formal like that. Never was and never been.

You see, that’s because I’m not a fancy secretary, or a teacher. My occupation don’t involve getting a steady paycheck every two weeks.

I make my money by the day. No, that’s not quite what I mean.

I make my money by the job. Some day I have many jobs, and I make good money. Other days the jobs are scarce, and when you gotta compete with other girls in the same line of work as you are?

You get creative.

And that’s why I always introduce myself with two words.

“Cinnamon Sugar.”

Those two words bring about a change in a man. Makes his mind go back, way back to when he was a little boy, and his Mama would make toast. And Mama would take that knife and spread a little butter over the top. Then she would sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top, and then toast it in the oven until it’s nice and golden brown.

“Cinnamon toast,” the boy would say sometimes. “Mama can I please have some cinnamon toast?”





“Yes you can, baby,” she’d say. “Anything for my baby.”

I would’ve like to called myself “Cinnamon Toast”. But that just sounds downright crazy.

Besides, it don’t roll out the mouth and off the lips quite right.

So Cinnamon Sugar it was.

“Cinnamon Sugar.”

Of course even though cinnamon was the color of my skin, it wasn’t my real name. My birth name is Samantha Ripley. That name sounds funny coming out of my mouth. I rarely say it. And I haven’t been called that in years. As a matter of fact, if you see me far off somewhere, you may have to yell it once, twice, three times before I turn around. And if I do turn around, it ain’t to answer. It’s to see who the hell yelling like they done lost their gotdamn mind.

People in this neighborhood would do better to call me by my street name.

“Cinnamon Sugar!”

Yes, that’s my name. And I have a lot of regulars who know it well.

But one day, one hot spring day last year, there was a new man walking up the street. I had never seen him before. I noticed he sometimes went into the Copper Skillet, the neighborhood restaurant and bootleg house. So he had to be alright if the owner Miss Eartha was letting him in. Miss Eartha don't fool with many people.

Me and the girls would stand on the corner and watch him when he walked by. No, we never called out to him. He coulda been a cop, you see, and who the hell wanted to spend time in jail when that time could’ve been spent making money?

He looked kind of different. He was a white man, but he had those strange eyes, like he might’ve been one of them Asian people, but not quite. So maybe he wasn't a white man. He was mixed with somethingn else. Me and the girls, we talked, no, we debated this thing. (That is a fancy word, isn’t it? Debated).

And one day, when he was walking past us, down the other sidewalk on the other side of the street, I said something.

“Hey man, come here a minute!”

Of course he didn’t come my way. That meant that he probably wasn’t a cop. Because cops quick to run up on you, and act like they’re your best friend, when you ain’t seen them a day in your life.

That next day, when he walked up the street, I got a little bolder.

“Come here, man! Let me talk to you for a minute. You want a little company!? I ain’t never did a Chinese man before. Come here and let me talk to you for a quick minute.”

He wouldn’t say anything, only touch the tip of his baseball cap, and nod and smile.

After awhile, I just stop calling out to him. Wasn’t no use in me wasting my time on him. We just watched him as he walked by, with his tacky self. Always had on some of those red high top sneakers and shorts and a muscle shirt that didn’t match. Just tacky.

Then one day, me and the ladies were talking and he crossed the street and walked right toward us. I mean he walked right up to us.

I was ready for him, and the other ladies were ready too. You see, We took a self defense class up at the community center. It was free, and we got to yell “No!” and “Stop!” as loud as we could. They taught us how to poke a man in the face with our fingers and do a throat chop, bust him in his neck. It was exciting, and we were ready to use our fighting skills.

“I’m sorry I’ve been so rude to you, Ma’am,” he said. He held out his hand. “My name is Andrew Hattori. I am new to the neighborhood.”

I looked down at his hand, then back up at him. “You kidding, right?”

He stood there with a slight smile on his face, his hand still outstretched. “No, I’m not. What’s your name?”

I slowly took his hand and shook it. “Cinnamon Sugar.”

The ladies giggled.


“Ah, that’s a very nice name. My mother use to bake apples, and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. I loved that.”

“I can only imagine,” I said.

“I miss that. It makes me want to almost go home and make some. Or ask Miss Eartha what day she’d have that on the special down at the Copper Skillet.”

The ladies laughed. And so did I.

“Eartha would tell you about yourself if you walked up in there wanting some apples covered with cinnamon and sugar. She’ll have security escort you out.”

He laughed. “You know you’re probably right. Miss Eartha will let you know exactly how she feels.”

I nodded for lack of knowing what else to do or say.

“Would you like to accompany me down to Poplar City Park?”

I glanced back at the ladies, and then back at him. “The Park?”

Andrew nodded.

“You want to handle. . . business. At the park.”

“Well, if you want to call it that. If handling business is a nice walk to the park and sharing my dinner, then business it is.”

He offered his arm, and I looped mine with his.

And we walked to the park, like we didn’t have a care in the world, with nothing but the sounds of our footsteps and the chirping of birds creating our runway music.

It was only a block and a half to the park, but it felt real good, walking down the street on the arm of a man. No, on the arm of a gentleman.


Honey, I wanted to turn around and do it all over again. But we headed towards a lone picnic table under a large poplar tree at the edge of the park. I across from him, at the table. He placed the backpack he always carried on the table.
I closed my eyes and pretended that I was sitting across from my man at the Red Lobster.

(Well, I closed one eye. I kept my good eye on him. He coulda been pulling a gun or a cop badge out of that backpack.)

“What’s your name?” he asked, causing me to open my eyes and realize that I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

“Cinnamon Sugar,” I said, low and slow, like I always do when I’m trying to make my money. “I told you that already up the street at the corner. You forgot that quick?”

“Of course I didn’t forget. Cinnamon Sugar is a beautiful name,” he said. “But I’m sure your mother and father didn’t write that down on your birth certificate.”

“No they didn’t,” I said. “They said ‘Look at this little girl child. Her complexion is the same color as peanut butter. So they wrote my first name as Peanut, and my last name as Butter.”

He laughed.

I liked his laugh.

“I’m just playing with you, Andrew,” I chimed.

He smiled. “I hoped you were. But that was funny.”

“My real name is,” I began. I cleared my throat and sat up straight. “My parents name me Samantha Ripley.”

“That’s really pretty. Samantha Ripley.”

“You can call me Cinnamon, though.”

“I will,” he said. "Even though Samantha is a prettier name. But I can call you Cinnamon.”

I liked the way my name sounded coming from his lips. I wanted to ask him to say it again and again.

And again.

But I didn't. This was business. At the park.

“So,” I said. “You a cop?”

He smirked.

“I mean, what are we down here for?”

Andrew unwrapped a sandwich and laid it on a napkin. “I wanted to share my dinner with you.”

He pulled out a baggie of cheese cubes and two juice boxes.

I was so hungry. I hadn’t eaten all day. I don’t eat unless I make at least thirty dollars during day. And today, I’d only made twenty. That meant that I couldn’t take a break before the nighttime action, and I'd probably have to be on the corner a bit late that night. And I was here, talking to this man, when I could’ve been making some money.

“Look, I don’t have time for that. You wanna go over there in the bushes or something? What you want done? Fifteen dollars if you want some head. Twenty-five if you want to bend me over and hit it. Thirty-five dollars will get you both head and ass.”

“I don’t want to do anything.” He pulled out a crisp fifty dollar bill and sat it on the table. “Eat with me. Just share dinner with me.”

The sandwich did look good. The money looked even better.

I palmed the money from the table. “If you’re a cop, you can’t arrest me for sitting here and eating with you. You know that’s against the law, right?”

“I’m not a cop,” he said. He took a big bite of his sandwich.

It looked so good. I could smell the bread and the mayonnaise. I could hear the crunch of the lettuce as he chewed.

“What kind of sandwiches are those?”

“Ham and cheese, with tomato and lettuce. And peanut butter sandwiches.”

“I’ll take the peanut butter sandwich, please.”

He gave me one,hen handed me a napkin. I tore the crusts off the sides, and set them on my napkin. I tasted it. Savored the creamy peanut butter and soft wheat bread. It was good.

Or maybe I was just starving.

We ate quietly. And I have to say I was glad for the peace of it all. It was good to sit and relax, instead of calling out to cars as they passed by my corner, hoping to convince some lonely man that he needed my company. For a small fee.

“So, Cinnamon Sugar. Tell me about yourself.”

I finished chewing the piece of the sandwich I’d just bitten. “About myself? Why?”

“Just curious. You seem like a smart girl. Why are you out here?”

I leaned forward, looked him square in his eyes. "You sure you not a cop?"

He held my stare. "I'm assuming you don't like cops."

"Hell n'awl," I said. I turned my head to the side and pointed at the tattoo on my neck. "What that say, Andrew? What that there tattoo say?"

"It says 'Fuck the Police'."

"That's right. It's written in prison green, not in the cute colors these little girls around here do their tattoos in. That let's you know I mean business. I don't like cops. When they drive by, I point at my neck. This lets them know how I feel about them. And I'm the wrong one to step to."
"And I'm not going to even ask why, Cinnamon. I'm just not. I don't even think I want to know why."

"They shady. That's all you need to know."

Andrew sipped red juice from his juice box.

"Can I have some juice, too?"

"Yes, of course," Andrew said. He handed me a juice box.

"But I like the lady in charge of the police department. That detective lady. Always booming Diana Ross from her car speakers. Cool cop."

"Commander Bivins," Andrew said. "Commander T. Lutrice Bivins."

"Yes I like her. That's a bad sister right there. She a cop, but she fair. She act like she got some sense. When she roll by in her black undercover police car playing that Diana Ross music? I hide my tattoo." I thrust my chin to my collarbone.

"Really?"

"I sure do. And I hold up my fist in the air and get in that black power stance. I give her her respect. One of the men cops was talking trash to me the last time I got locked up. I cussed him out. I caused such a commotion that she came and talked to me. Next thing you know, she fired that sucker. I'm down for her."

"Even though she's a cop?" Andrew asked.

"Yeah. Because she's a sister first. Cop second. And I respect that."

"Okay Cinnamon, I'm not a cop. Now answer the question. You seem like a smart girl? Why are you out here?"

“You saying I’m not smart?”

“No, I didn’t say that,” he said. “I think you are smart. I don’t see this as a career choice for someone as bright as you.”

I finally managed to stick the skinny straw in the juice box. I sipped hard. The juice was good and cold. “This isn’t a career choice. This career here, my line of work? It chose me.”

He didn’t say anything. Just looked at me as he ate his sandwich.

I sat up straight, careful to remember my posture. “My family, they are from the northwest side of town. Over in Vine City. The Ripleys were very prominent people back in the sixties, seventies and eighties. We had a liquor store and a grocery store. Granddady had an auto repair shop. And a gas station , too. My family were business people. We were entree pures.”

“Entrepeneurs,” Andrew said.

“What?”

“Your family. They were business minded. Business people. They were entrepenuers.”

“Entrepeneurs,” I said, pronouncing the word real slow.

Andrew popped a cheese cube in his mouth. “So that means you’re an entrepenure, too. You come from a long line of important business people.”

“Yeah, I’m business minded all right. I handle my business on these streets. Without a pimp. If that's not being business minded, I don't know what is.”

“That’s one way to look at,” Andrew said. He bit into his sandwich.

“That’s the only way to look at it.”

“Well, if that’s what you say,” he said with a raised eyebrow.

“Humph.”

He pushed the bag of cheese cubes towards her. “What’s that suppose to mean?” he said.

“Andrew, I’ll have you know that I was prom queen at Archer High School. I was homecoming queen for each grade, every year I was there. I had real good grades, even did a little college. I have my Associates of Arts degree. I have a college degree.”

“Wow. Okay.”

“I was on my way to being somebody, until life balled its fist up tight and bust me in the face. I went to one too many parties, screwed one too many men, drank one too many dranks, and did more drugs than a person should do in a lifetime. I should be dead. But I’m not.”

I looked up at the sky. “Then one day, I looked up, and I was out on a corner, selling ass. I was sleeping on people’s back porches. Doing whatever I had to do to get that next high. Even though I look up at the sky, and it’s the same, clouds rolling by, still blue as ever. My life, though. It changed.”

“Everyone’s life changes,” Andrew said. “I think some of us hold on a little tighter to the reins of the horse when it starts kicking and bucking. Some of us fall right off.”

“Well I fell off the horse and the horse was gone, you hear me? I fell on my ass, Andrew. And I got the bruises on my behind to prove it.”

“I’m sure you do.”


"The horse gone. Some people have a horse. I don't. My horse, it left me in the dust years ago."


Andrew nodded. "I understand."

“So you asking all these questions about me. What about you? Why you here in Pop City?”

“Why you say that? Is there a rule against me living here? It’s a real nice place to live. Nice people. Nice streets. And a real nice park.”

I laughed hard. “The hell you say. This is the hood. This Pop City. And not many people like you live around here. The Lings own the corner grocery store down the road from Eartha’s, but they don’t live around here, and they treat us like shit.”

“I like it here. I work nearby.”

“Really,” I said. I leaned forward a little. “Where you work?”

“I teach History over at the community college. And it’s only three miles away. Good for my gas tank.”

“What street you live on?” I asked.

“Over on Poplar Avenue.”

I mashed a cheese cube between my fingers so it would be soft enough for me to eat. “Pop Avenue. And you not bothered by the killings that go on around here?”

“Haven’t heard much about that.”

“They killing thugs around here. Look like every time you turn around, somebody get popped.

I formed my hands into the shape of a gun. "Rat-tat-tat-tat. POW."

Andrew's narrow eyes went wide.

"Some say it’s the klan. Some say it’s the cops. No one seems to care. Crime is real low now that the thugs are scared. You can walk these streets in the middle of the night with hundred dollar bills taped to your body and nobody’s gonna bother you. It's like Mayberry around here the past couple of years. All the thieves behind closed doora. They scared of getting their wigs split. It's heaven on earth in Pop City!”

Andrew frowned. “Wigs split?"

"Yeah, Wigs split. They scared of getting shot. Scared of death."

That’s a bad way to live, scared like that.”

“Better scared and alive than dead and gone,” I said.

We sat there and ate our dinner and talked for a whole hour. Never has a man stared so deeply into my eyes and listened to every single word I said. You couldn’t tell me that I wasn’t that same smart girl back in high school, able to make a perfect speech, and make those good grades.

At that picnic table, I was Samantha Ripley.

Cinnamon Sugar had taken a nap.

Sometimes I’d wish she would stay gone.

“Oh, I have apples,” Andrew said as he pulled a sandwich bag of sliced apples from his backpack.

I grimaced at the sight of them. My hand automatically went to my mouth. My mouth of rotten teeth began to ache from just looking at the crisp apple wedges. It had been so long since I ate any hard food.

“No thank you. I’m full.”

He nodded. He ate the apples.

He continued to let me talk.

“You sure you not a cop?” I asked again.

“You can think what you want to think, Cinnamon Sugar. I would rather you think that I am a man who just shared a nice dinner with a nice woman who calls out to me each and every day that I walk up the road.

"Hey Man," he said, making his voice all high. "Come here a minute. Let me talk to you for a quick minute. I ain't never did a Chinese man before. Come here, man!"

I laughed so hard that I started coughing and choking. "I do not sound like that."

"Oh yes you do. And I love it. A lady calling out like that, like my name is Denzel Washington. Wow."

"Aww, you need to stop tripping. I'm a ho. I call out to everybody. I'm trying to make my money."

After an hour, he walked me back up the road. My arm was hooked in his, and I closed my eyes and imagined myself the same young lady who wore a crown and walked on the long red carpet at the Homecoming dance. Except I walked the concrete sidewalk back to my place of self employment– the street corner.

Cars blew their horns as they drove by. And my coworkers–the Pop City hos–laughed at us.

He said good-bye, and wished me a good evening. And then he was on his way. I stood there and watched him as he disappeared around the corner.

“What you and that Yang do down around the corner, Sugar?” one of the ladies asked.

“We had a real fine dinner.” I rubbed my stomach. I was full from the two peanut butter sandwiches I’d eaten. I thought about saving the crusts that I tore off. I could save them for later and suck on them if I got hungry. But that would’ve been embarrassing in front of such a refined man.

The ladies laughed. “She think she something special. You just a ho, Cinnamon. A ho name Cinnamon Sugar.

“No,” I said, my head held high. “I’m not just a ho. I’m Samantha Ripley. That’s who I am.”

"Samantha Ripley."

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Monday!

Okay.

It's Monday!

How the HECK did I go a whole week without posting? O_o

Last week flew by in a flash. Not sure what's up with that. I think it is all because things at work are much more hectic, and I usually do my writing at night. I have to work all that out somehow. Trying to figure that out. And yes, I will figure it out... with my slow self.

Presidents day. Today is Presidents Day. Happy Presidents Day.

(Whatever that means).

I'd much rather say "Happy Black History Month!" LOL

But I am happy for today. Why?

Because I am OFF!

And it feels GOOD.

I woke up around 5:30 this morning, went through my usual routines, put a load of clothes in the wash, and then went back to bed, where I finished a wonderful book I'd been reading since yesterday morning, Bring on the Blessings by Beverly Jenkins. It's been a REALLY long time since I'd read a book that I couldn't put down. I need more of that.

This morning I had cereal for breakfast. Shredded wheat and vanilla milk. Mmm, mmm, good.

Not sure what I'm doing today. Aunt Flo showed up yesterday. *lee throws self out of window*

I need to run to the Black People's Wal-mart, but I might don't make it today, honey!

I WILL wash and fold clothes today. Not sure why I didn't do that this weekend. HARD HEADED, that's what it is. Hard headed! *lee slaps self upside the head*

Whitney Houston. Did ya'll see the Whitney Houston Homegoing Service this weekend? WOW! Amazing! Four hours long. That is all I can say about that. I actually sat and watched all four hours of it.

It is still odd that she died. And we are all speculating, "Yep! Overdose!" But no one knows that. So many people die per year from simply slipping in the tub or shower. That in itself amazes me. But, it is testament to the way we think, and it brings to mind somethiing I read in a book some twelve years ago.

"You can do many great and positive things in your life, but you will ultimately be remembered for the bad things you did, even though they in no way outnumber the good things you did."

It is sort of like a mole on the face. We focus on that mole on the face, and not the entire face.

Hmm... Just something I think about, even with my ownself.

We don't know what happened with Whitney Houston. We can only assume. Nevertheless, one of the great singers of my generation has passed. As will many more. As we all will someday.

That is all I have to say about that.

Lucy the Lexus. So I bought a Lexus. I mentioned that last week. I meant to put up pictures of it. But I didn't. I wanted to write a whole post on it. But I won't.

But I will do some abridged type thing right here right now...

There it is! Lucy the Lexus! At the Dealership!



And there's the salesman, "Mr. Larry", putting my tag on!

There's Lucy! Parked at LadyTee's house.



I had to beat her dog back. "Get back, Mitch! Get back! Get back off the new ride!

(Lucy is 12 years old. But it is new to me. That is all).

There's Lucy! Resting comfortably in the garage!

A garage that needs to be cleaned.

"Me and the kids, we coming over to help you clean out out the garage," LadyTee said. "That way you can get both cars in there."

O_O

NOT!

I have a double garage, but man... I'd be done scraped UP some bodywork trying to fit both Lucy the Lexus and Pam the Protege up in there. That parking situation better be perfect and it better be RIGHT. And I don't see that happening. Nerp!

But come springtime, I'm cleaning out the garage.

Right now, the most I'm going to do is sweep that sucker out. I need to cut down some trees because if I have to sweep leaves out the garage one more time, I'ma scream. Ugh.

Okay, we're suppose to be talking about the car. I like it. It rides so smooth that I can't tell it's on. Although, it's not as roomy as the Mazda. I find that... odd. But that's cool. That sucker is paid for.

"Lee, why you didn't get a brand new car?" you holler.

That was never the intent. What do I look like having a $500 dollar car note... when I only drive 5000 miles a year?

And if you know me, I'm one of the most nonmaterialistic chickens you will ever meet.

Add to that that a lot of people do things to impress people. I don't.

Now if I drove a lot, then new car it is. But that isn't the case.

My dream car has always been the 1999-2000 Lexus. I bought my dream car. With no car note.

And that's the way I wanted it to be.

Glory!

*big swooping cartwheels*

LOL

That's all I have for today. And check it out, I'm posting everyday this week. Why?

Because!
I'm going to make it a STORY WEEK!

I'm going to put up some character sketches I've been fiddling with for the past few months. If you read my manuscript Watch, then you will understand it more. It is related to that book, and it's helping to shape part II of that story... Still Watching.

So I'll put up character sketches of three of those characters. All of them will be incorporated back into part I, but more prominent in Part II.

Even if you haven't read Watch, I think you will find something entertaining about them. I found them entertaining people. And they had me... pontificating about life.

They will have you in such a way also.

To keep you alert, let's sweeten this up a bit. Whoever comments during story week will be entered into a drawing for LadyLee's world famous cookies...



You like that, Honey Chile?

I thought you would.

Enjoy your Presidents' Day.

And stay tuned for... ((((Story Week))))).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday, Monday...

Man oh man...

Are you as shocked as I am?

Goodness.




This goes down as one of the moments where we will be asking "Where were you when you heard about Whitney Houston's death?


I STILL remember where I was when I Marvin Gaye died. Me and LadyTee were in the backseat of my mama and step father's car, rolling down Old National Highway. Me and LadyTee bust out crying. I will NEVER forget that. And we were around 14 and 15 years old.

Ugh.


Now we add Whitney to that list. I will remember where I was.

I was out running errands. And I was in Little Cesars, getting some Crazy Bread. And they were saying someone had died. And this chick had to go sit down and call somebody. And I'm standing there thinking "She getting all emotional over Don Corneilius death? She just not hearing about it?"

And then I went back out to my car, where I had left my phone, and there were text messages saying that Whitney Houston had died.

Man. I cannot believe it. Whitney's first album came out when I was in high school! That was over 25 years ago! Man!

Of course people jump to all kinds of conclusions.

The only conclusion I jump to: thank goodness my life isn't in the spotlight. Thank goodness for that. The money and fame is great, but... you know how I am. No politics and no music fame. Please and thank you.



What a productive career she had.


Rest in peace, Whitney. You were one of the best true singers of all time. You truly were.

This has put a major damper on some good news for myself this weekend.

Here you go...






(((((BoooYaaaaaah)))))




That is all.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston
August 9, 1963-February 11, 2012



Thursday, February 09, 2012

A Chickpea Tale!

So...

I've been experimenting with chickpeas lately.

I must say that in the past, I have liked them at times, and at other times I haven't. For some reason the aftertaste was bothering me.

That is, until my coworker, who recently went vegetarian, began bringing in little disposable gladware containers of some of her curry dishes containing chickpeas...

...and man oh man were they tasty. No strange aftertaste or anything.

"They're easy to cook, LadyLee," she said, her eyes wide with excitement. "You just have to rinse them really well. They're good, and they keep you full!"

I trust what she says. Her and her husband know they be researching their dishes pretty hard. She KNOWS what she's talking about! And it's all soooooo good.

So I tried them out. I bought some canned ones at the store, rinsed them good and used them. No strange aftertaste!

"You can buy them raw and cook them, LadyLee," she said. Just soak them overnight, rinse them good, and cook them for about an hour. And you can store them in the fridge for a couple of weeks."

This sounded even better. And cheaper. And you know me. Don't bother me one bit to have something cooking on the stove and do something else.

So I tried this. Here's my raw chickpeas.

For some bizarre reason, I got a notion to try to bite into one of these. They are hard as rocks. Almost broke a tooth on it.

Then I soaked them overnight. They swell up to twice their size.



This always amazes me. It brings out my scientific side. I was asking myself the question, what is the rate of absorption of water per minute?

Hmmm... I don't know the answer, and like you, I don't care.

I cooked my chickpeas and added a few of them to some stirfried vegetables.

Talk about something GOOD!

WOW!!!

Lady Lifetime knows what she's talking about!

"Yo LadyLifetime! Those chickpeas were the bomb!

"I told you, girl," she said. "They are good!"

You got that right. Really though.

Glad I learned something new, something I can add to my veggie library!!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

***BiRThdAy 42***

Happy NEW Day to you, Boys and Girls!

And Happy Birthday to ME!

Yaaaay!

It's my birthday!

And I gotta do it Star Trek style!



STARDATE

02.07.12

The 42nd year of that Oldgirl.
LOL.

Well, it is really the beginning of the 43rd year. But we won't get bogged down in semantics.

I was going to do a Food-for-thought Introspection today.

NERP!

Flipping back through 20 pages of my journal... uh, no. We gonna keep ALL dat right there. Let this be a FUN day!!!

*cartwheels*

So!

I got my Birthday Pie!



Peach pie! (Cuz I ain't the biggest fan of cake)

And I got my Birthday Flowers!



Didn't have a vase, so I put them in a Bell Mason Jar!




(How you like that, Lisa B? I got some Celie in me, just like ya'll, babes!)

Got the Birthday Candle!



Courtesy of my new friend in my head, "Lady Lifetime" is what I'll call her!

And the Birthday Cat!



*crickets*

Man, Oscar don't count. He was trying to keep me from journalling. He will be 15 this year. Such a typical teenager. Humph.

Birhtday CAR, boo! The Birthday Car!



Wooooooooo oooooh WEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

LOL

Not just yet.

Just scrawling the vision HIGH upon the walls of The House of LadyLee. That is all.

Soon though.

I got my trusty little 25 cent purse size notebook labeled Lexus.



Anybody who's known me for awhile knows...

When I get that little notebook going?

And start filling those thin ruled lines with stuff?

It's a done deal, boo.

That's like a personal claim ticket, and I am standing at the window, waiting for the folks to come back with my stuff!

Already got my insurance quotes written up in there.

Me and LadyTee did a driveby in the dealership lot of one I'm interested in. We roled up real slow, stealth like, like we were bout to pull out our .38s and blast some fools!

"There it go, right there, Tee. Right there. The gold one. The coach edition. Full leather package. Sunroof. All the extras. There it go right there."

*lee slows Mazda to a stop*

*lee looks both ways for shady salesman*

*lee jumps out of car and cups hands to window and looks inside*

*lee cheeses hard at LadyTee, who's craning her neck looking at my undercover ways*


EXTRA HARD. Cheesing extra hard! I was cheesing so hard I started sweating!


I wanted to lay my body across the hood of that car!

I love that one... but it has scuffed bumpers. They gonna have to cut that price in half if they want an Oldgirl in it. I don't want anything new, just need an extra car for the garage. I refuse to have a car note. CASH only.


I may have to get the cash out the bank, and take it with me when I go test drive these babies. TAKE THIS or I am LEAVING...SHAWTY!


No I won't do that... But the thought... WOW.

Gonna go test drive it... make the salesman take a picture of me in it.

And put THAT in my Lexus notebook.

LOL.

Yeah mon!!!

Oh and something else is brewing right now... but I won't talk about that. Something... interesting.


Hmm... Chew on THAT.


Happy Birthday to meeeeeeeeeee!


Happy New Day to Yoooooooouuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!

*Cartwheels*

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Last Day. Of the 41st Year. In the Life of Your Friendly Neighborhood Oldgirl LadyLee

It is Monday...

The Monday Before...

That Monday Before I turn 42.

I've been walking around the house hollering "It is the last day of the 41st year of my life!"

Yes it is.

It is...

The Last Day...

Of the 41st year...

In the Life of your Friendly Neighborhood LadyLee.

And I pondered this, while folding clothes, cleaning the bathroom, and gathering trash to take out later on.

Oh what a great year it has been. Simply terrific.

I'll write about that tomorrow. Not sure whether I will do an introspection post tomorrow. I would love to. But I have so much to write. I promise to condense and keep it short if I do.

I am OFF today. I sort of am at odds with that because I have a ton of paperwork on my desk. But the truth of the matter is that that is not my problem. I've been working hard. And I don't work on my birthday. Period. And I wanted to at least take my birthday and the day before off.

And you will not believe this, but I worked on Saturday! From 11:00 am to 2:45pm.

Members of management were there. O_o. Odd. Interesting, but odd.

Yesterday was my church's 26th anniversary. I rarely go to church on Sunday, but I figured, what the heck. And it was a good kickoff to my birthday holiday. Church anniversary is actually on my birthday, February 7th. So it is REALLY easy to remember the date, LOL

Karen Clark-Sheard was a special guest. That woman know she can SANG! I have NEVER heard anyone sing so loud and clear, and she wasn't even singing. There was a program on Friday night for my pastor's 50th birthday and 30 years of ministering, and she and the rest of the Clark sisters were there, performing all the old classics. Now I bet THAT was something to see. WOW.

But it was a good service. A south african Pastor who was instrumental in reworking the South African constitution after aparthied was the special guest. VERY interesting to hear someone who was a part of that history speak about life.

The most interesting thing I heard was: "You find out what you really believe in the midst of trouble, when you go through a few things. Your courage comes from staying focused on Jesus. Looking to yourself only porduces fear."

Hmmm.... looking to yourself only produces fear. And I can understand what he means by that. I myself, in the midst of my personal storms, find that I get upset not only about what I am going through, but the sheer magnitude of it all. And then I build these pictures in my mind and I get all exasperated really over the fear that I will never get over this, or this will always be how it is.

When in actuality, all things are temporary. I'm going through things. But the operative word here is "through". There is a beginning, a middle and an end.

And I need to get focused on a good end. A good solution. A good result.

Me and my sister Kentucky were talking about this yesterday, concerning some of her personal goals. I always like to check on her progress. She says that she's avoiding much exasperation by really focusing on very small goals, and believing to accomplish those. I told her I am too, and that is when I get the most done, and my faith stays strong. We encouraged each other to stay prayerful. That is the core of our focus.

Play Mama A and I had a long convo about this on Saturday evening: Do you focus on what God says about you, or do you focus on your circumstances...

Interestingly, the sermons at our respective churches were on that very subject matter... in great detail.

And I LOVE that, man!!

That happens a lot with us. That's called confirmation. God's stamp on what we were discussing.

And hey, I welcome that. Reinforces me. Let's me know I'm moving in the right direction.

And that's a GOOD thing.

Man... sorry for the food-for-thought moment. Well not really. LOL. That's what's on my mind right now. Especially since this is...

The last day.

Of the 41st year.

In the life of your friendly Neighborhood Oldgirl, LadyLee.

I'm not sure what all I'm doing on this off day. I'm going down to the Southside and snatch up LadyTee and we want to go see the movie Albert Nobbs.


Look at Glenn Close. They got her looking like a dude, straight up. She is up for an Oscar for this part. I hope she win. We are going to try and go see this movie. It's an arthouse movie, so it's only playing in a couple of theatres in the city. So we are going to try to track it down.

But that is all for now.

I need a song of the week. On this day, the last day of my 41st year, I need a good song.

This is my favorite song to listen to before I leave for work in the mornings. You know, while I'm looking for my keys, and getting my lunch and bags together to leave.





That's a good song. I feel alright after I listen to that.

I tend to holler "See you later, Oscar-Tyrone! You have a fine fine time patrolling this house today! Glory! Bye, boy!"

Oscar meows. And walks off.

LOL

You have a great day!

On purpose!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Friday Freestyles

Yes yes yes.

YES.

It is Friday!

And it's an extra special Friday for me. I have a 4 DAY WEEKEND coming up!

((((((BOOYAH)))))))

Oh yes. I cannot wait. This day best not go by all slooooooowwwww.

BOOOO at that! Boo!

LOL

Man, why is it that I wanted to post all week, yet I didn't? The horror! I gotta do better.

Anyway, work is strange right now. There doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get things done. My days are going by in a flash. And yes, that is a good thing. It is better than watching the clock.

I had a good annual work performance review. Funny how they like to treat you like you don't work and like you're stupid, but alas, at the end of the year, you did well. It's like some Jedi Mind trick craziness. And you know I don't do well with psychological crap. NERP.

Guess what? My sister Kentucky won Teacher of the Year for her school! I am sooo happy for her. I told her beforehand, if she didn't win, that she was MY teacher of the year. I don't care what NOBODY say. She MY teacher of the year. But I am glad she won!

So my birthday is coming up. I will be 42 year old. Wow.

You know, I'm never ashamed to tell my age. And it baffles me when people are. I guess that is just the way it is. For me, with each year of my life, there is new growth and experiences. So I am just always happy to see another birthday. Some people didn't make it to age 2 or even 42. So it is something to be celebrated. I am proud of the age that I am.

I don't have any special plans. I think me and Kentucky will be having dinner on my birthday. Not sure where we are going. And LadyTee and I are spending the day before together. So that's cool. AND as usual, I go get my emissions and tag done. I may go get my taxes done.

"Do something you really like to do on your birthday, girl!" my cubicle mate Cowgirl Cre hollered yesterday. "You know what I would be doing on my birthday. Riding my horse!"

"I would really like to write all day. And I have a lot of editing to do. I would love that."

And I will be doing a fair amount of that. For sure.

Song of the Week. I LOVE this song.





So with that said, you have a great weekend! I know I will!

On purpose!