Heat Before Serving

microwave by Akuokuo Vallis

It wasn’t the snickerdoodles — it’s just — the wording — Cookies for Satan — on those big, giant, huge posters — gave the wrong idea.  We didn’t sell any.  But — at least — that homeless man standing next to us — on the corner — near the bus stophad a nice snack. And — at least — that reporter lady — getting off the bus — stopped — and talked to us. Thanks to her  — two weeks later — in rural, southern Maryland — Satan was saved.

Nobody will know, my twin sister said.  Could be fun, I said.

We were both wrong.

Not about the whole twin-switcheroo-thing — that’s just what twins do.  It’s a fact!  It’s just — we should have started with something simpler, less complicated — something that would not make the evening news or the morning paper.

Satan was an unbelievably HUGE-GIANT-ANGRY-MEAN former Park Police horse.  Probably should have warned my twin sister about that triple bolted gate.  But — my 8th grade Work Internship —  at the stables — did not normally involve cleaning the stalls or the horses.

Metal does not belong in the microwave.  

Trust me — it doesn’t.

Not sure why I thought that can of Beefaroni was different.  That’s how the microwave — in the kitchen– at the nursery school — where my twin sister had her 8th grade Work Internship — went — KABOOM!


A Place Out in the Woods

little house by Akuokuo Vallis

I was spying on the handsome new alley cat — while listening to a redbird — singing. Sounded like the blues to me — only because that song left me feeling  sad.

That’s when I noticed another redbird limping —  underneath the peonies — the pink ones.  All the petals have already fallen off the white ones — from the rain last night.

That handsome new alley cat was still at the neighbor’s house — crouching low — on those crumbling, old steps — watching a huge black bird — maybe it was a crow — eating french fries out of the dumpster.  The dumpster that gets filled and hauled away on Tuesdays — since last November.

I  knocked and knocked and knocked — on the window — when I saw that alley cat — his name should be Houghton — such a haughty, snobby boy — getting closer and closer to the peonies — the pink ones.  He stopped and looked at me — in the way that only cats can.

I should know better by now — should’ve  just turned away.

One look into those crystal cat eyes — and I was lost, for sure — nowhere to be found. Next thing I knew — that alley cat — named Houghton — had that redbird in his mouth — and he was still staring at me — underneath the peonies.


Look How They Shine for You

cherry shrub by Akuokuo Vallis.jpg


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.


Frank and Lucinda by Akuokuo Vallis


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.



Can’t Have Ice Cream Without Whipped Cream

twins at a restaurant Akwelle Vallis [35552091]

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!



Leave a Message After the Beep

wild yam root cream by Akuokuo Vallis

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!


In a Galaxy Far Far Away

webinar info by Akuokuo Vallis

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.


Like Diamonds in the Sky

aura flame quartz crystal by Akuokuo Vallis

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 auntFaceTiming 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