The Flowering Vine: Mary, Don’t You Weep

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Mary, Don’t You Weep

Oh, Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn.

Oh, Mary, don’t you weep, don’t you mourn.

Didn’t Pharaoh’s army get drowned?

Oh, Mary, don’t you weep.

Cheer up, sisters and don’t you cry.

There’ll be good times bye and bye.

Didn’t Pharaoh’s army get drowned?

Oh, Mary, don’t you weep.

(Aretha Franklin – Mary, Don’t You Weep)

“Why didn’t he come Lee?”, Bernard asked his older brother plaintively. “Don’t you understand ‘Nard? There ain’t no such thing as Sandy Clause, probably nevah wuz”, replied Leroy, in a voice laden with sadness, disappointment, and a tiny tinge of anger. Always an extremely astute child, in the few hours since finding the empty stockings, he’d come to realize, that Mary’s absence was directly connected to the absence of stuff in their stockings. “Why didn’t Jim tell us?” Leroy whispered under his breath, to no one in particular.

The boys got dressed slowly, lethargically; like two convicts clothing themselves before meeting the hangman. That’s what facing a Christmas Day felt like for two boys begrudged the boon usually associated with Christmastide. Once dressed and outdoors, they sat on the woodpile, staring at the ground; frozen, white breath fleeing their mouths, like souls exiting cold, lifeless bodies.

Then faintly, at first, gradually growing louder, like thunder from an advancing storm, the boys heard it; the unmistakable grumbling rumble of wagons approaching. The boys lifted their heads, straightened their bodies and turned towards the approaching sound. “Hey boys!”, came the liltingly gay voice of Ma Hallie, as her wagon rolled to a halt in front of the house. Pa Babe sat at her side atop the buckboard. Their wagon was followed by the blacksmith’s wagon, the owner of which, pulled sharply on the reins while emitting a hearty, “Whoa mule!”. The sharply dressed figure of Doc McCoo, rode shotgun.

Ma Hallie sprang down from the wagon, dress tail flying, like a sheet hung out to dry on a windy day. She reached in the back of the wagon and pulled out a wicker basket covered with a snow-white cloth. As Ma Hallie approached the boys, the smell of fried chicken marched before her, like an advance guard, striking the boys in their guts, causing their bellies to growl like angered lions. The rest of the group stepped down from the wagons as Jim and Coley exited the house to investigate the commotion.

“Take this basket in the house boys!”, Ma Hallie commanded, an order the boys obeyed with the zeal of Zouaves toadying to some great general. The smithy came forward holding three iron rings of ascending circumference, paired with hooked iron rods, which lengths duplicated the diameters of the hoops. The hoops and rods clanged together musically as the smithy approached Coley and Jim. The blacksmith conveyed the hoops and rods to Coley, along with the instructions; “The big ‘un fer you and the lil’ ‘un fer the youngest ‘un. Give the other’n to that brave boy Leroy”.

The blacksmith’s gifts, forged in his foundry, were called variably; “hoop-and-rod” or “hoop-and-stick”. The rod or stick was used to usher the hoop, as it rolled along the ground in whatever game the hoopsters might be playing; the number and variety of games that could be played with the toy, were limited only by the hoopster’s imagination. They were a common and popular toy among rural children. Some were simply bicycle rims and sticks; few were custom forged like these.

Leroy exited the house, licking his fingers. He’d obviously, taken an advance on a chicken leg, and was now, smiling with satisfaction, but the sight of the hoops elevated his elation. The boys were about to take off down the dusty dirt road with their hoops, when Doc McCoo stepped, abruptly, in front of them. In his hands, he held three, small, burlap bags, which rattled and clicked as he handed them to the boys. “Enjoy”, he enjoined, his grey eyes sparkling over the top of his round, wire-framed spectacles as he looked down at the boys and smiled a huge, pearly-white smile. He then handed Jim a neatly folded, crisp, one dollar bill. Jim thanked Doc profusely, while quickly shoving the buck into his pants pocket.

The younger boys opened their bags and reached in. Inside each bag were seven shiny, bright, multi-colored marbles. The joyful shine in the boy’s eyes rivaled that of the marbles’ that they held in their excitedly trembling hands. Leroy, especially, stared; mesmerized at a quarter-sized, green, and yellow, “Cat’s Eye”, marble. “This one”, he spoke quietly. “This one will be my ‘shooter’. I ain’t gonna never lose a game with this”. This declaration proved to be bona fide; that is, until Coley cut off two of Leroy’s fingers.

To be continued…

The Flowering Vine: ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

 

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If you haven’t already, please read parts 1 and 2 to this story 🙂

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

These words, from the well-worn Yuletide ballad, swirled through Leroy’s head, as he weathered the rough ride back to his beloved grandmother, Mary. He’d learned the words of the rhyme while visiting with the little White boys and girls up at old Marse Hatfield’s house; his brothers, sisters and cousins, he’d been told. He’d sat, attentively, at the feet of Marse’s wife, along with the rest of the children as she’d served up the sonnet with almost as much spirit and spice as the ceramic cup of egg nog that had sat warmly in the palms of his hands.

Now, however, he could only remember the first stanza and so recited it to himself, in a vain effort to take his mind off of the fact that he was now riding roughly, albeit speedily, back to the location of his injured grandma. He held on for dear life, in the back of the buckboard of the kindly couple who’d seen fit to stop; and who had, after listening to his plight, offered their able assistance.

He guided them directly back to where his grandmother and Bernard were waiting. The lady gathered her long skirt and leaped from the wagon. As she rushed over and kneeled down to tend to Mary, she directed the man to “take them boys and bring back help. Bring Doc McCoo!” And with those words, the man hustled Leroy and Bernard into the wagon, then barked a hoarse “YA!” to his mule, and away they went; dashing down the dirt road; churning up a whirlwind of dust as they did so.

The lady who had stayed with Mary, laid her hands upon the injured leg; an action which Mary later related, “eased the pain mightily”. She’d stated, in a later recounting of the events, that the lady was “a gifted woman, a healer”. After what seemed, to Mary, like an eternity, she felt, more than heard, the rumble of wagons coming down the road, “Thank ya Lawd”, she whispered silently, and faded into a state of, not unwelcome, unconsciousness.

When Mary awakened, she found herself in a strange home, staring at blurred human forms milling about. Doc McCoo’s yellow, be-spectacled face slowly came into focus. “Mary”, he said, in his slow, deep, mellow voice, “you’ve taken a bad spill; broken your femu… uh, uh, your thigh bone. You’re going to have to stay here at the home of these kind people for a few weeks. You can’t be moved. We had a time setting your thigh bone. The muscles in your leg had contracted, like a cramp.” Mary listened intently.

“I had to call for the bonesetter from town to assist me. He had to close up his blacksmithy shop to come help us, and still it took the help of Mr. Babe and your neighbors here, to help me straighten that leg out. You have some strong muscles lady!” Doc McCoo made this last statement while shaking his head, in awe of Mary’s strength.

“I thought I would have to use ether or laudanum on you, so you wouldn’t remember the pain, but Ma Hallie here” he said while gesturing towards the lady who’d sat with Mary until help had come, then continued, “must have had some kind of a soothing effect on you, because you didn’t whimper or moan, neither on the wagon ride up here nor whilst we were setting that leg bone”.

Somewhere, in the back of her mind, Mary could hear Doc McCoo, giving further instructions for her continued care, to the owners of the home; the home that would be her “hospital room” for the next two weeks. She heard him say something about “laudanum” and “splints”, but her main thoughts were on the fact that Christmas was a week away. “What am I gonna do ‘bout them children?” she asked herself, “They gone be ‘spectin sumthin in they stockings on Christmas Day”.

The purpose for Mary’s trip into town had been to try to pick up extra “wash work” from some of the White ladies there, so she’d have enough money to put something other than pecans and hickory nuts, in her children’s and grandchildren’s Christmas stockings. Now her plans were derailed. “Jim can’t do no wash, that’s ‘woman’s work’, she thought. “Besides, he got his hands full, looking after the children and working the farm and such”.

Lula had moved away with a man named Edwards, after Bernard had been born. Mary had been the only hope of a “merry” Christmas for her children and grandchildren. “Lawd, please let ‘Sandy Claus’ be real this Christmas”, she prayed silently; hopelessly.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” Leroy recited the only words that he could remember from the poem, while standing before the fireplace; staring at the empty stockings hanging there; holding little Bernard’s hand. “Tomorrow”, he thought to himself, “tomorrow”, then trudged off to bed, “in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there”.

The next day, Christmas day, looked promising and bright! The orange glow of the morning sun was just starting to fill the sky. Leroy jumped up and awakened Bernard. They dashed to the fireplace, where the stockings hung limply! Slowly, expectantly, nervously, Leroy reached out to feel for the contents of the stockings, but felt nothing. The stockings, which had been hung by the chimney with such care, were empty.

Down the road, a mile or two…Mary wept.

To be continued…

 

Mama’s On The Tree!

 

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My Mama

2016 marks the 5th Christmas without Mama.

So, as you might imagine, this can be a very difficult time of year for me, my brother, and my kids-not to mention my Dad who misses her terribly.

Of course, the first Christmas without her was extremely difficult as she had not been long gone.

Oh yes loves, please believe, that first Christmas, Lady G was a hot mess!

You see, Mama loved Christmas and she adored Christmas Carols!

And because those freaking Christmas Carols were being played EVER-Y-WHERE, a hot mess got even hot messier!

Let me affirm that it was not unusual, that year, for Lady G to find herself running out of Publix with snot and tears flowing North, South, East and West!

Maybe ‘mess’ is NOT the best word to describe the resulting mayhem!

Anyway…

No matter where I went, I was forced to listen to all of her favorites, including:

“Merry Christmas Baby” by Otis Redding

“Please come home for Christmas” by Charles Brown

“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole

“Everyday will be like a Holiday” by William Bell

“Christmas just ain’t Christmas” by the O’Jays

“Santa Claus is comin’ to town” by The Jackson Five

“Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” by The Temptations

And of course, the ‘Tempting Tempts’ version of “Silent Night.”

Baby, every time I heard one of these little ditties, I melted in tears like Frosty!

And so…

One day, after the 78th Christmas carol meltdown, I went shopping for some holiday decorations when…lo and behold…there appeared Mama in the form of a beautiful Black Christmas Angel!

Y’all, I think I trampled some folks in my haste to grab that Mama-esque heavenly body!!!!!

Best believe I grabbed her, purchased her, took her home, place her atop my Christmas tree and proclaimed:

“Look at Mama on the tree!”

And from that Christmas to this one, Mama sits proudly on the tree watching over us all!

Christmas has been pretty good ever since!

Merry Christmas to you all!

With Love,

Lady G 😘💋

 

 

P.S. I still have to wear headphones at the store in order to keep my composure!

 

Lady G’s Christmas Pasta

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YAAASSSS!  Lady G is feeling a little bit better today so you know I had to hit the kitchen hard!

And so…

I decided to cook one of my holiday favorites.

I call it ‘Christmas Pasta’ because it includes red peppers, green baby spinach and white alfredo sauce!

Of course there’s the bowtie pasta and crab meat!

Think I didn’t when I did?

YAAASSSSS!

Ah…. now I hear you guys saying, “Lady G, what choo know about Italian cuisine?”

Well, all I gotta say is that it might not be authentic but it’s Italian enough for the folks in my house!

Alright!

To all of my friends in Italy, please forgive me! You know I love y’all!

Okay, on a serious note, I’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you who wished me well during my battle with this cold!

WordPress is best!

Anyway…

I am including pictures of the ingredients that I used.

See if you can spot the run-a-way piece of crab meat :).

Mama would have been horrified!

“Wipe that counter girl!”

Anywhats, if you choose to recreate this dish, be sure to double check your crab meat for shells.

Otherwise, you might experience a dental problem mid meal.

By the way, if you are intimidated by homemade alfredo sauce you can buy some already made from your local grocer.

Of course, if you choose to purchase a jar, the end result might not be the highest quality.

But that said, I’m sure it will be just fine!

It just won’t be Lady G’s!

YAAASSSS!

Enjoy and have a great week!

Love and light to you!

Lady G😘💋

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PS:  The brown mixing bowl that I used here belonged to my mother so we affectionately refer to it as ‘Ms. Eva.”