The Flowering Vine: My Inspiration

MOM
Mom

Even at the ripe old age of 55, I’ve not yet accomplished all that I hope to accomplish in life. I still have obstacles that I wish overcome and goals that I aim to attain; a mountain of education to climb; a valley of physical improvements to traverse; an ocean of spiritual maturity to cross, and although I’ve reached a chronological age somewhere past “middle”, I keep pushing; pressing my way through; forging my way on, because I know for a fact that it is never too late. I know this because I have a role model who has shown me that it is possible; that all things are possible if you just believe; believe in God and believe in yourself.

The following essay is written by “MY INSPIRATION” and Mom.

“It has been said that, ‘Freedom is an attitude of mind and heart that frees the soul to soar.’ A caged bird may be limited in where it can fly and what it can see, but it has the spirit to soar freely as it sings its sweet song. In its spirit, all physical limitations are overcome and its true nature springs forth untethered by constraints.

I graduated from T.V. McCoo High School in Eufaula, Alabama. This school was formerly known as Van Buren High School. The year was 1958; four years after “Brown versus The Board of Education”. The Supreme Court decision was popularly known as “Separate but Equal”. The System’s solution was a new, “Separate but Equal”, black high school. The school was built and completed in the middle of my Senior year. We had been set free! For me, this was a year of great revelation.

My class was the first graduating class from a school named after a black doctor. I was voted Miss Senior and rode in the town’s parade. I also performed an oration, (even though I was frightened to death). In the spring of that year, I graduated from a new high school but not without personal setbacks. My maternal grandmother’s demise was right around that time. In spite of this tragedy, this new God given opportunity had set me free. I truly believed that this new environment was going to set my spirit free to soar beyond boundaries and appearances; to step out on faith and do what God had created me to do.

My vision would one day be realized but not without trials. First, I had to have faith and believe that; “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And all of us….seeing the Glory of The Lord…is being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” -2 Corinthians 3:17-18. Due to financial conditions, I was unable to begin my academic flight immediately; there were detours along the way.

Within the unfolding story of my life, I created a family. So from the first flowering blossom to the last; from one side of the room to the other; from one end of the country to the opposite end, there was always God’s presence, teaching me and guiding me in the care of my family. My children grew up and created families of their own. This created the freedom for me to soar.  “Finally” I thought, “I can sing and soar freely; exploring the limits of the skies of my ambitions.

For a moment, I imagined that I was a time traveler; traveling back through the centuries until I was side-by-side with Michelangelo as he turned a block of stone into something magnificent; chipping away– never giving up until a masterpiece emerged. My aspiration was to get a college education and that’s was what I was going to do, regardless of how long it took.

Upon entering college, I realized how woefully unprepared I was. I was lacking the proper educational tools, and background to compete with the younger generation. I was a generation behind; “Separate but Equal” had failed me. But like Michelangelo, I did not give up. I worked on my own stone. I worked to create something magnificent to me; my masterpiece, for God had given me the ability to create.  It was not a Michelangelo, but something as simple as helping a child to learn his multiplication tables was equally awesome.

So, after many, many years and despite my lack of the proper tools; like knowing how to use a card catalogue, or how to operate a computer;  I received a degree in Professional Studies and a Master’s in Education. I taught school for twenty years and have been retired for ten. I am free! I did as the caged bird had done; I broke free and I soared. I no longer allow doubts and obstructions to keep my blessings from me.

To my children and grandchildren I say, “Soar as high as you can soar. Chip away at your stone, just as Michelangelo chipped away at his; create something magnificent and then sing your sweet song.”  The sky is the limit.

Real Good Food: “Melted Mozzarella Clumps…”

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Stuffed Green Peppers topped with Mozzarella Cheese

Right after I posted this picture on Instagram, my brother, Tack, commented, “Looks like melted mozzarella clumps on top of whatever is underneath, LOL!”

Like that’s a bad thing.

I say bring on the cheese-albeit with a touch of hesitancy.

You see, milk products don’t seem to like me very much anymore.

But I’m taking my time with the break-up 😔

As for the stuffed green peppers, or “bell peppers” as we call them down South, I simply browned up some ground beef, added tomato sauce, seasonings, a smidgen of sugar then double-crammed that beefy goodness into four verdant par-boiled vegetable containers.

As you can see, I topped each pepper with a rather thin slice of mozzarella (I added a bit of grated parmesan prior to that).

So there little bro!

Clumps of mozzarella?

The nerve of that dude!

Anyway, here is a before and after:

 

Oh yeah, I had two extra slices of “mozz” so it turns out that I used 6 slices but who are you to judge me?

Whatevs!

This little “Fun with Mozzarella” endeavor started with the crab stuffed mushrooms from last week, and continued on with the peppers before concluding with the Portabella Mushroom Pizzas pictured below.

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Ah…but all cheesy things must eventually come to an end so I decided to go to an old standby–Baked Chicken Florentine.

YAAASSS!

This sistah ain’t NEVER been to Florence, or any other part of Italy for that matter, but that didn’t stop me from piling spinach on top of some chicken and calling it Florentine!

LOL!

Florence, Georgia!  Wherever that is!

Much respect and love to my Italian followers 💋

😎

Behold

 

 

What do you think about the peppers and pizza?  Too much cheese?  No pun intended! LOL!

Much love and light to you all

Lady G😘💋

Follow me on Instagram or simply check out my pictures- just click on the Instagram icon on the right panel 🙂  Let me know what you think!

The Flowering Vine: More To The Story

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Our Grandparents:  Leroy and Annie aka ‘Mother’ with Lady G’s Son

 

I thought I’d take a second to thank all of the readers who have supported “The Flowering Vine Series.”

Both Ron and I really appreciate your kind comments about our family.

I inserted this picture of our Grandparents, Leroy (Daddy) and Annie (Mother) so that you can see them as they were in later years.

This picture was taken ONE MONTH prior to our Grandfather’s death.

Here’s the story behind the photo.

Basically, my son had just been born a few months prior and something urged me to go visit my Grandparents and take pictures.

While I can’t say that I had a premonition, I can say that I clearly remember my Grandfather saying to me, as he struggled with his cane to rise from his seat, “Whew Bay, Granddaddy can’t haaaardly get around no more.”

 

His rich baritone voice wrapped itself so closely around my heart and I tearfully responded, “I know Granddaddy….I know.”

The next month, he was gone.

Friends, I can’t tell you how much we all miss him.  He was one of the kindest people I have EVER known and he sincerely loved us all so much.

I distinctly remember how he would wait until EVERYBODY, including all of his children, their spouses and his grandchildren had eaten before he would eat.

He’d say, “Did everybody eat? Did everybody have enough?”

Then, he’d pile the leftovers along with some home grown tomatoes and peppers into his favorite bowl.

Boy let me tell you! That bowl of food looked so GOOOOOD!

God knows they don’t make them like our Granddaddy anymore.

Frankly, there is so much more that can be said about both of our Grandparents, and, as long as you’re interested, we hope to continue sharing those stories here.

Anyway, below is a family tree that includes some of the people that you all have come to know and love.

Because our story includes so much information about our biracial heritage, I decided to include a bit of a descriptor under each person’s name.

Note:  The term “mixed race” applies where there is some interracial heritage but the specifics are unknown.  “Recent mixed race” indicates that this person had at least one confirmed white parent.

On a related note, both Ron and I would like to offer a special thanks to two Caucasian cousins who were kind enough to share DNA and Family records in order to help us to confirm information on our Grandfather’s side.  Had they not been willing to step forward a few more of these boxes would have been marked “unknown.”

Also, a BIG thanks to Ron’s Mom (Jet) and my Dad (Jim) for sharing their memories.

Now, let me stop rambling!

Here’s the Tree!

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The Flowering Vine: Notice that there should be a Mr. H and a Mrs. H (LOL!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Good Food: Of Crab and Carbs

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Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

So based on your advice, I decided to start cutting back on carbs.

In the interim, I will put on my stretch pants, walk and modify the remaining macronutrient proportions by cooking meals that are high in protein and moderately low in fat.

Oops…I almost forgot the water…I’ll be drinking lots and lots of water…(loaded with Crystal Light)

🙂

We’ll see what happens in due season.

Thanks for all of your advice guys!

Until we meet again, I bid you a Happy Wednesday!

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram…just click the Instagram icon there on the right panel of this page…I’m not locked! LOL!

Here’s a video of my alter-alter ego, Big Thickem, having a bite of this crab situation!

YAAASSS!

AND…

My girl Sandra shared this picture of her specialty: Crab Fried Rice!

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Delicious!

Uh Oh…We Got A Problem…

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Today’s Breakfast (L) compared to yesterday’s breakfast (R)

Yes folks!  We got a PROBLEM.

You see, the button on my pants has distanced itself from the button-hole!

Methinks the lady doth partake in too much ‘real good food!’

And now…

She looking all pitiful ’cause her clothes is too tight 🙂

What to do?  What to do?

Should we go:

Low calorie?

Low fat?

Low carb?

Many mini meals?

One meal?

Eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner?

Good grief!

This is such a first world problem to have.

But it is a problem nonetheless.

So what do you all do when your pants start struggling?

#Monday Motivation?

 

 

***Stay tuned for the ‘Real Good Food’ series. 😂

 

The Flowering Vine: Harder Than Times in ’29

TRAVELING SALESMAN

During the years that my Mom, Uncle Jim, Aunt Joyce, Aunt Dot, and Uncle Leroy grew up—as the young folks say these days— “The struggle was real!” Not that the struggle wasn’t real before the 1940’s and 50’s; oh no! I don’t think anyone would disagree with me if I said that, the 30’s, 20’s and all decades prior, were as hard as hard can get. However, I am privileged to first-hand accounts of the afore-mentioned decades from Mom and her siblings.

One aspect of those times that I love hearing about, is the tales of the traveling salesmen. I can remember a man coming to our home selling Hoover vacuum cleaners. He put on one heck of a demonstration. I was amazed by the wondrous machine that this man introduced to us that day. I guess Gramp was as amazed as I was because, if my memory serves me, she purchased that silver torpedo with the elephantine trunk that day.

That vacuum served a twofold purpose, in those days. The first being the obvious one of sucking up the dirt that I and my siblings had tracked into Gramp’s house. Its secondary purpose was as various space tools and weapons, during my imaginary journeys through the galaxy, and yes, beyond!

Also, I can remember the insurance salesman coming by Gramp’s house, or as he was commonly known, the “Insurance Man”. He came bearing a large black leather book with handles.  It reminded me of a Bible in shape, color and texture, but there was nothing else Biblical about it.  It was very messy and disorganized. Bits and pieces of what I assumed, were the lives of his clients, peeked out like little shy elves, trying to get a glimpse of me, while I did the same to him.  Then he’d sit, carry on idle conversation, with the big book opened on his lap. He’d shuffle the papers until he found the one with the lives of my Grandparents on it, then some more pleasantries and a small transfer of money from Gramps hands to his and he was gone.

THAT WAS THE 60’S AND 70’S 

During Mom and them’s formative years, things were different, but the same.

My cousin Gwin’s and my parents, lived and survived on practically little or nothing. As I stated before, times were hard!

The things they did have were bought from traveling salesmen. There weren’t any Wal-Marts, with row after row and shelf after shelf of Wranglers and what-not. There were no Footlocker’s for young feet full of fire. There was just that old traveling salesman.

According to the accounts of my Mom and others, there were several different types of door-to-door salesmen. For instance, there was the Watkins Products salesmen. His inventory of wondrous wares included, but was not limited to; liniments, hair products, and the pièce de résistance, Watkins Petro-Carbo Salve; used to heal cuts and draw out splinters.

Granddaddy Leroy and Mother bought, among other things, school clothes for their children from these salesmen. This clothing salesman hawked his habiliment from the trunk of his old DeSoto automobile. Granddaddy Leroy and Mother paid Mr. Macon (the salesman’s name) $2 per week. The salesman kept a “running tab” of what was owed him.

In relating these events, my mother expressed how excited she and her siblings would be to see and choose from crisp school dresses, and long-sleeved, striped, shirts & jeans. Mom’s favorite dress of all, from the trunk of Mr. Macon’s DeSoto, was a red, plaid one, with white lace pockets and white lace on the sleeves.

With a nostalgic tone and a wistful look flirting across her countenance, Mom told me how she was so excited and felt so pretty on the first day of school. At that time, she was in the third or fourth grade and I can tell you with a surety, founded in pictures that I’ve seen from those  years, that she was an especially beautiful child. It is easy for me to imagine how beautiful she must have been in that dress, smiling a smile, a mile wide!

Besides the salesmen like Mr. Macon who ventured in vestments, there were others who sold, sundry stock like: books; Bibles, almanacs, and encyclopedias. As a matter of fact, my own father—who taught school most of the year—sold encyclopedias during the summer. He even sold himself a set of Childcraft encyclopedias, when I was about 4 or 5 years old. In my opinion, that particular purchase was the best purchase he ever made. Before I could read, I spent hours just looking at the pictures. When my father would read the captions under the pictures to me, I would remember them, and quote them back, word-for-word.

When I learned to read, nothing could come between me and the knowledge those books contained. -Ron Brown

           

My Very First Post Revisited #MyFirstPostRevisited

 

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Here is a nice little blogging challenge!

Lisa A  from “Life of an El Paso Woman” hit me with this “Very first post revisited” tag!

Okay, you should know that I love Ms. Lisa to pieces!  She’s been a great supporter of my blog for quite some time and I value our blogging sisterhood.

Thanks pretty girl!

If you don’t know Lisa, you SHOULD!  Go check her out!  Tell her Lady G sent you 🙂

Anywhats, this challenge was started by fellow blogger Sarah Brentyn.

Thank you Ms. Sarah!

So…my first blog post was/is entitled “Why I chose Montessori.”

I posted it on January 7, 2016.

Imagine that, these are the very first words that Lady G scribed on the ethers of the interwebs!

WordPress is a serious thing 🙂

YAAASSS!

And now for the rules:

  • No cheating. (It must be your first post. Not your second post, not one you love…first post only.)
  • Link back to the person who tagged you (thank them if you feel like it or, if not, curse them with a plague of ladybugs).

Other rules:

  • Cut and paste your old post into a new post or reblog your own bad self.
    • (Either way is fine but NO editing.)
  • Put the hashtag #MyFirstPostRevisited in your title.
  • Tag…um…tentwotwelve five (5) other bloggers to challenge.
  • Notify your tags in the comment section of their blog (don’t just hope they notice a pingback somewhere in their spam).
  • Feel free to cut and paste the badge to use in your post.
  • Include “the rules” in your post.

 

I nominate ANY of my readers who would like to participate.  Just follow the rules–even though I didn’t.

Drum roll PLEEEEZ!!!!

And now……

My VERY first post–revisited!

Why I chose Montessori

In the late 1990’s, I was a graduate student and single mother of a preschool aged son.  Like most mothers, I promised myself that I would do all that I could to provide my child with a lifestyle where he felt loved, encouraged and equipped to reach his highest potentials. In order to keep this promise, I decided that I had to make his education a top priority.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that most mothers count their children’s education as a major concern.  However, as a black mother, I also knew that the stakes were extremely high for black children; and even more so for black boys.  During my graduate studies, I couldn’t help noticing a couple of research studies that seemed to indicate that young black boys were often inappropriately placed in special education courses or misdiagnosed with any number of behavioral conditions.  In my mind, this did not bode well for my son’s wellbeing; not to mention his educational outlook. Hence, this was an urgent matter.

Nevertheless, with my son’s 4th birthday approaching, I began researching local learning centers in hopes of finding a good preschool program. I spent several weeks observing primary classes at various schools.  Suffice it to say I was not impressed by what I had observed.  In fact, I was completely turned off during one specific school visit when a preschool teacher told me that “kids just wanna learn their numbers, colors and letters.” To make matters worse, she went on to say that most kids are simply not interested in learning much more than the basics.  Needless to say, my eyes completely glossed over and I politely, yet abruptly, ended that conversation.  After taking immediate leave of that insanity and regaining my composure, it occurred to me that most of the schools that I had visited seemed to share the belief that younger children should spend time playing, rather than engaging in robust learning activities. To be honest, at that point, I was beginning to feel a bit dejected.  I worried that I might not find the educational setting that I had hoped for.  I wondered what to do about my son who, at age 3, had already met the “numbers, colors, letters” milestone and was, by this time, reading, adding and creating rather sophisticated Lego superheroes to boot. Was I supposed to allow my child to settle for a subpar early learning experience? Were my expectations too high?

After spending a few weeks feverishly seeking but not finding, I ran into a former co-worker and friend whom I had not seen in quite some time.  Naturally, we began to play “catch up” and I mentioned that my son would soon be starting school.  I also mentioned my dissatisfaction with the schools that I had visited thus far.  After patiently listening to my gripe fest, my friend encouraged me to check into the local Montessori school where her daughter was in attendance.  Montessori? What? Do black people even go to Montessori schools? My curiosity was immediately peaked!  I asked and she answered about a hundred rapid fire questions about the educational philosophy as well as the social and learning environment. At the end of the conversation, she assured me that the school strongly encouraged diversity and that we would feel very welcome.

The next day, I contacted the school and within a few days my son was scheduled to attend a class on a trial basis; I was invited to observe. After the observation, I was brimming with excitement!  I was intrigued by the practical, hands-on learning techniques.  I also loved the fact that the students were encouraged to think independently, work cooperatively, and to respect each other as well as their larger environment.  I also liked the practical nature of the learning activities.  I was thrilled to see 3, 4 and 5 year olds happily and successfully engaging in activities like identifying parts of the human anatomy and locating world continents!  But, above all else, I loved the fact that my son was genuinely happy with the Montessori experience.  After we left the school that day he told me that he couldn’t wait to go back.

This Montessori school seemed to be the answer!  So what about cost?  Naturally, I had to seriously contemplate the price tag.  Granted, this was a private school, but after doing the math, I determined that the tuition was not much more than the cost of a “good” local daycare.  And with that, I began the application process.  Within a month he was enrolled in primary class and ultimately completed each grade level though grade 7.  It is important to note that at that time, our local Montessori schools did not extend beyond grade 8. As a result, my son ended up graduating from a traditional college preparatory high school.

All in all, I cannot stress how happy I am with our Montessori experience! In later years, I enrolled my daughter in the same Montessori school that my son attended.  She is currently a 4th year student in upper elementary. I love to tell people that I am the proud mother of two “Montessorians” and to answer my previous question; yes, black people do go to Montessori schools!

Today, I am proud to report that my son is doing well and is a Biology Major at Emory University.

I would love to hear your thoughts on education in general and Montessori or other alternative education philosophies in specific.

 

Fifty Shades of Black

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Mama (Eva) holding Tack, that’s me on the right with my mouth wide open!

 

Random Woman:  Hey Brenda!

Brenda:  Hey girl, how are you?  I haven’t seen you in some years!

Random Woman: I know!  It’s been a long time.

Brenda:  Yes it has, by the way, let me introduce you to my friend, Eva.

Random Woman:  (Very dry, cold and nonchalant) Hey Eva.

Random Woman: (Directly addressing Brenda) Ooh Brenda, your little girl is so pretty, how old is she?

Eva: (PISSED) That’s MY child!

Random Woman: (Slightly Embarrassed but still chilly) Oh, I’m sorry, she just looks more like Brenda to me.

Eva walks off with child (ME) in tow.

Yes friends, my mother, Queen Diva Lady Eva, was tee’d off!

Why, you ask?

Because ‘Ms. Random Woman’ assumed that I was Brenda’s daughter based solely on the fact that we shared the same skin complexion.

She never thought for a moment that I could belong to my mother–who was a shade or two darker.

It simply didn’t occur to her to ask.

Sadly, this type of attitude was nothing new to Mama.  As a child, she had received whippings from a lighter skinned uncle for being “too black.”

Colorism 
col·or·ism
ˈkələrˌizəm/

noun

Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group–Oxford Dictionaries
What the Oxford folks failed to mention is that this phenomenon is a ‘carry-over’ of Slavery; having been birthed from the actions of slave owners.
In essence, slave masters created division among their chattel by treating them differently based on skin complexion.
The darker slaves were treated far worse than the lighter slaves.  Because of their color, dark skinned men and women were forced to engage in heavy labor while the lighter skinned slaves were treated better–relatively speaking.
Naturally, the lighter skinned slaves were told that they were superior to their melanin rich brothers and sisters and both groups bought into that belief.
And there we have it!
A lifelong mutual animosity between darker slaves and lighter slaves…which sadly continues with their descendants today–albeit to a much lesser degree.
Come now!
Let’s re-evaluate the scenario that I offered at the beginning of this post.
Notice how dismissive Ms. Random Woman was toward my mother.
She all but ignored her darker skinned ‘sister.’
‘Ms. Random’ never imagined that chocolate Ms. Eva could be the mother of a caramel colored daughter with long pony tails.
Of course, at the age of 3, I was too young to notice or understand the larger implications of this woman’s attitude.
I had no clue what was really going on.
Little did I know, I would continue to experience some form of this lunacy throughout my life as my father’s racial identity was, to the average onlooker, perplexing… to say the least 🙂
Lord, I got all kinds of questions like, “Is your Dad Mexican?”

Puerto Rican?

Cuban?

Arab?

West Indian?

East Indian?

Native American?

And everything in between….

Oh, and then there were the really stupid questions like:

How did your Mom get a handsome man like your Dad?

Ok, that’s when I got rowdy!

All bets were off!

Seriously?  What do you mean?

Do you not realize that you’re talking about MY MOTHER?

You better back the hell up!

I’m sorry guys but that mess really got under my skin!

Oh and if you think things got better as years passed…

Think again!

My Mama often recalled a time when an associate of my Dad’s came by to borrow a drill.

Apparently, he peeked past my Mom, who had answered the door, in order to get a better glance at me and whispered, “That must be Jim’s daughter.”

Mama said, “Yes, and she’s my daughter and we have a son too!”

What an idiotic thing to say!

“That must be Jim’s daughter.”

It rolled right off his ignorant ass tongue without a bit of thought attached to it.

The fact that he knew that my parents had been married for 100 years added insult to injury!

Ah…but here’s an even more egregious example.

One day, back in 2012, I had been sitting in the hospital room with Mama for most of the morning.

Well, this black nurse, who had been in and out, and who had seem me sitting there the whole time, asked, “Has any of her family come by yet?”

What the hell do I look like?

Chopped liver?

Of course I didn’t say THAT but I did say, “Well I’m her daugther.”

Naturally, the nurse apologized.

I thought to myself….Here we go again…after all this time.

Still dealing with issues of color.

Mama caught hell for being too dark and Daddy caught hell for being too racially ambiguous.

Good grief!

 

 

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Daddy and Mama at about age 15

 

Inspiration for this post came from comments between myself and these great bloggers:

Kelley at Gray Suede

Dr. K. E. Garland

Ron Brown