Every time I make this shrub — especially cherry shrub — I think about my great, great grandfather — on my mother’s side — grandpa Frank.
I bet it was a night like this — around midnight — when grandpa Frank ran away. Looking up at that moon — so huge and so full — it was probably, nearly, almost close enough to touch — if he reached for it — if he stretched — a little. And with all those stars so bright and so big — I know it was easier to see — just had to be.
Maybe he planned it that way — maybe he didn’t — don’t know for sure — but either way — my great, great, great grandfather Ambrose owned a lot of slaves — fathered quite a few — including grandpa Frank. It was a crazy, tangled business — that Kentucky plantation.
Eventually — grandpa Frank went back to that same plantation — back to his father, Ambrose — who then hired him to run the plantation. Grandpa Frank was always good with money. He could read and write. His father taught him — early.
Grandpa Frank was in charge of the slaves — on the plantation. He even bought some of the slaves — for his father — for the plantation. It was a crazy, tangled business — but grandpa Frank knew it well. He married one of the slaves — on the plantation. She was my great, great grandma Lucinda.
She liked strawberries. He liked cherries.
Bet they were married on a night like this — around midnight — somewhere — on that Kentucky plantation — moon so bright — stars so big — it was probably even easier to see.
We used to throw our Barbies out the window — then we’d put them on neat little piles of sticks — in the back yard — and burn them. They were witches–bad witches. We weren’t exactly the good witches — putting nails and sometimes glass in mud pies and throwing them at that ugly boy — the one everyone called Little Man. His real name was Howard. Such seemingly shy little girls who anxiously tore up napkins in restaurants but then foolishly risked life and limb swinging around the flag pole — after school — going higher and higher and higher—trying to outdo each other– while waiting for our dad to pick us up. He was always late. But he brought cookies or churros or that Chinese ginger-sesame candy he’d get from — I’m not even sure where.
Our dad kept a journal. I only started reading it after he died. I still look at it from time to time. His handwriting was always nice — memorable — beautiful — elegant, really. Took my twin sister forever to get his signature down. But once she did — no more after school gym class for us. Until our dad found out– and started picking us up–everyday– after school–for Squash lessons instead.
Our dad’s journal is like a cookbook — richly detailed with the hows and whys and ups and downs of his life. He was the youngest of 4 — a surprise baby — but he felt loved and wanted by the whole family. His mother was 50 when she had him.
Our dad was tall for his age–always looked much older– and was curious about everything— especially this one — worldly girl named Jackie — who lived upstairs. She was 18 and he was 11. Eleven! He would race home — everyday — after school — to meet with Jackie. Upstairs. This went on daily–DAILY–until our dad left home for the Marine Corps at age 21.
No wonder he kept us busy everyday after school!
I rarely, hardly ever get sick– but when I do — the widdle baby in me– always turns everything into a soap opera. Last week– my simple, little sniffles snowballed into a major head cold with severe post nasal drip. The coughing fits were frightening. And then–this crazy lady– in the midst of one of my coughing spells said, I like your curls. Then she rummaged her big-giant-clumsy hands through my hair.
I was in a bad mood after that. A really bad mood–complaining about everything–especially at dinner–these potatoes are TOO SALTY! I was just mad at myself for being such a wimp. I wanted to scream at that crazy–horrible lady. But I just stood there–speechless– with my frizzy-puff-puffs. I should have just pulled my hair back in a bun–but I was stubbornly determined to play it cool. Yep, I styled it like this– ON PURPOSE! That was my fake attitude in the grocery store. Well — I had to have an attitude with hair like that— plus– I had no choice—suddenly– I needed my monthly supplies. No wonder I was in such a bad mood.
In the beauty aisle– a sales clerk was telling another shopper all about something called Wild Yam Root Cream. It takes away menstrual cramps and curbs irritability quickly. I highly recommend it!!! Don’t forget to rotate application sites though! I had no idea what that meant-– but I bought it anyway. Turns out I am highly allergic to wild yam root cream. Highly allergic. Didn’t know it was humanly possible to vomit like that. Okay! I clearly just died!
Now that I am on the mend– I truly have a new level of respect for my mother. Stroke recovery is rough. But she has found a way to stay strong. So much easier said than done.
My mother is the real deal– a true superstar!
Our online chocolate class ended early–then my twin sister, Akwelle, shouted from downstairs, Ha-Ha! That was so funny. You totally shut down the whole class! Didn’t you get my text?
I looked at my phone. No text.
We were supposed to be learning about the health benefits of chocolate–the real chocolate–the food of the gods chocolate–instead–unbeknownst to me– I became the main attraction- talking non-stop about another webinar attendee named SumoXL123deParis.
Akwelle started it though. I like his hair–but–his shirt is way too small and he has fatty-fat hands.
Embarrassing. But at least she knew when to turn off her mic.
His name ain’t Sumo for nothing, I said. And look at those cute, chubby-chub cheeks! I probably shouldn’t have drawn that picture, though. And that rap song I made up–Alone in a Food Truck–went way too far.
That’s when the class ended. Abruptly.
The next day– my twin sister’s text– finally– came in.
Dummy! Mute your mic!
I should get a new phone.
At the crystal shop–the cashier girl was talking to a customer about drones and holograms and chem trails. There was a man–waiting in line–with a huge tattoo–a green ankh– on the inside of his left forearm. He was looking for books on Hermetic philosophy. I found a crystal to buy. And then– the cashier girl started talking to me about micro drones and mega drones and how the Greys screwed us all over. She dangled something in the air– for protection–it looked like tin foil.
At home–I put the crystal in the dirt and my older sister said a prayer over it. She knew someone who had a crystal like that but was unsure of the metaphysical properties.
I put the crystal under my pillow anyway.
Then my grandmother—my father’s mother—was standing there– in the snow– in a Cherokee tear dress. Her hair was out and long. I like that dress better than the one you’re wearing on the mantel. She smiled. Then the sky filled with stars and I was spinning–spinning–spinning–like when I was on that merry go round–a long time ago. I still have the scar on my knee. Still.
Next–my aunt—FaceTiming from somewhere beyond the beyond the beyond said, Tell your mother not to follow me.
And then there were 3 white horses–one on a skateboard– one drinking water–and one with a neon blue chord coming out of the top of its head– going so far up– I lost track.
I was still wearing the medicine bag–the one with the feathers on it—around my neck— under my t-shirt–just because– I like it that way. I put the rocks in it– like she told me– and sprinkled the blue cornmeal down as a thank you.
Then I woke up thinking about chocolate chip cookie dough.
I put the crystal back on the dresser.
*special thank you to http://www.samanthamurdochblog.wordpress.com for crystal insight and wisdom
Customer Service Rep. is typing…
Socks Galore and More strives for excellence. My name is Wayne. How may I assist you?
Akuokuo is typing…
Hi Wayne. There was a mix up with my order. I received Chaga chunks instead of socks. Not sure what Chaga is. Says it’s from Chaga Alaska.
Customer Service Rep. is typing…
Socks Galore and More strives for excellence. Apologies for the mix up. READ THIS and WATCH THAT while I research your order.
Customer Service Rep. is typing…
Looks like the polka-dotted bunny socks are on back order. Chaga is a medicinal mushroom. Very healthy. Tastes like a combo between tea and coffee– but better for you. Simmer it up (see instructions in bag). Try it with honey, maple syrup, plain Jane or with your favorite milk. Might be butchering your name… is it A-quack-quack? or A-clock-clock?
Akuokuo is typing…
Whaaat!? A-clock-clock? Must be kidding about A-quack-quack!? Should I send the chaga back…?
Socks Galore and More strives for excellence. Keep the chaga. It’s a freebie. Back to your name…is it A-koo-koo?
Nope. Wrongo again.
Socks Galore and More strives for excellence. We want to make you happy… Is it….
Akuokuo is typing…
It’s Ah-Kwo-Kwo (Koko for short). Ghanaian twin name–meaning second born female twin. Thanks for the Chaga. Please cancel the bunny socks. Byeee.
The YouTube videos made it look so super easy. So–of course I thought cutting my own hair would be easy, simple. Plus, my twin sister, Akwelle, cut hers in 15 minutes. But, by my 15 minute point– I already looked like Edward Scissorhands.
I blame it on Mexico. Well, not all of Mexico–but definitely thoughts of nacho chips and that ridiculous wall– and 7th grade Paul Diamond who laughed at me and said I looked like a gorilla when I got bangs for the first time. And those 2 stupid boys last week who stole a box from the porch. And my elderly neighbor who yelled you’ll never catch them as I kept running and running.
Well–I did catch up to them–those 2 stupid boys. And I got the box back–after they tossed it–over the shoulder– in the alley–noticeably uninterested in a water filter replacement cartridge or Be Here Now— the Ram Dass book.
I just called the police on you. The chubby one– with the nice hair– was in shock. He stopped breathing even. The skinny one is bad news. But he’s way too pretty to make it in prison. Poor boy.
The timing was perfect. The pretty, skinny one ignored me–walked right by me–tip tapping to some invisible beat–just as the police turned the corner. Yeah, you better run.
Then I went to the beauty salon.
It’s more of A Sunday Kind of Love thing for me–meandering slowly through Rock Creek Park–driving the long way home. My mother prefers the shortcut. She’s always taken the shortcut. As a child–she went to summer school just to skip ahead. She ended up graduating high school at 15. She even finished college early.
On a day like today–I was not taking the shortcut. The air was sprinkled in fairy dust. Everything was sparkling, twinkling, glowing even–like someone had poured rainbows of light into light. Over the river and through the woods we went. I had to take the long way home.
Maybe it was the myrrh in my bathwater or the early morning yoga nidra –colors were brighter–people were friendlier–and there were birthday suit wearing babies–Cherubim–frolicking in the Garden of Eden. I think I even saw a unicorn. I know I saw a butterfly–a little yellow one. And cherry blossoms too!
Totally content in my own world of reverie–I dreamily glanced over at my mother. With eyes soft and closed–she was fast asleep–already home. She had taken the shortcut.
There’s something magical about ghee— especially when you make it yourself.
I made some last night.
Hypnotized by the bubbling butter–I glimpsed a moment from my past.
I do not want to be in MacBeth, I said.
It will be good for you. You’d never do it if I did not make you, she said.
At first– I thought she–Mrs. Gonzales–my 6th grade teacher –was punishing me. I was obsessed with glitter markers and puffy stickers. I mistakenly thought Mrs. Gonzales might appreciate the razzle-dazzle on my homework and quizzes. I now know she was only trying to cultivate confidence–and pull me out of my shell.
My role in MacBeth was tiny. I was really just a prop on the stage–in the background, in every scene.
Like a piece of furniture or a rock, she said.
I was way too nervous at the audition–barely there– teeter-tottering on the edge of fainting–sweating, turning red, mumbling. That’s why Mrs. Gonzales came up with the furniture/rock idea. My twin sister was a servant. She even had a line to read.
If I could go back in time–I’d help my younger self.
Stop–take a breath–have faith.
I’d give myself a pat on the back or a nudge or a tickle– then I’d remember– it’s all a game– things will work out– they always do.
Little Laddi (Aladdin) did it deliberately–passionately licking my face–way too close to my mouth–while staring at the big girl Kookaburra. He wanted a reaction.
But just like the night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind or another…
All that prancing and dancing, chewing and scratching–they were pesky annoyances–a mosquito buzzing in Kookaburra’s ears.
Kookaburra’s deep, low growl, exposed teeth and turned back was enough said. Laddi was kept at a distance.
By this point– it was obvious–Kookaburra had already stepped into a private boat and waved good-bye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day…
She was having a moment.
Kookaburra was very sad after she met Laddi. Too wrapped up in our own grief–we did not even think to tell Kookaburra about Brooke–my older sister’s other dog.
And now suddenly–there’s this playboy who just wants to love her!