This is 50, Day 01: It’s My Birthday!

2 08 2016

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.”
— Abraham Lincoln

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The first day of 50 started out as any normal day. We woke at 6 a.m., Lynn wished me a Happy Birthday, I made him breakfast, we prayed together, and I saw him off to work.

In terms of money, my wad was pretty much blown. What I would have liked to have done is had breakfast at one of my new favorite spots in Montrose and then spent the afternoon at Color Me Mine. But I had an already fabulous lead up to my birthday, and more plans with friends this evening and later in the week, including a big bash put on by my friend and fellow Yogi Nancy Kane; so not getting what I wanted on the day was a pebble in the ocean; small and insignificant.

What I did was stay in my PJs for a while, something that I rarely get to do, but that always feels like a mini-vacation when I can. Part of that gift basket from Carrie contained some really good coffee, so I brewed it up, and had a cup with my leftover treats from Sweetie Pie’s in Napa.

While I am not big on reward programs (too many cards to lose, not a huge frequenter of the establishment, etc.), I am a loyal follower of CityWok, a Chinese place that I used to frequent when we lived in the Valley. They are always faithful to send me my free entree coupon for my birthday! So I decided to traipse into the Valley and get my favorite combination fried rice, all for free. Free food on your birthday tastes even better!

The birthday evening was booked in advance. Gina Harris, a new friend from church invited me out to DiSH, a newish La Crescenta restaurant.

She brought her friend Becky along, and we had a good time being girls and enjoying a fine meal. I ordered Braised Beef Short Ribs with Shallots, Carrots, and Celery, in a red wine reduction, over Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Asparagus. It tasted even better than it looked!

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After the weekend and all the sugar from Sweetie Pies, I said I was going to avoid sweets until the big bash on Saturday. The best laid plans… the waitress surprised me with a slice of flourless Chocolate Ganache. This was one of the best flourless cakes I had ever tasted. I definitely needed to get into a Hot Power Fusion class tomorrow.

Detox to Retox, because there is more celebrating to be done.

Happy Birthday to me!

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50 Days to 50 Years, Day 00: Bye, Bye Napa, Hello 5 Freeway, Goodbye 40s…

1 08 2016

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” — John Steinbeck

This could be said of the road trip to Santa Fe, this one, and the trip through these past 50 Days to 50 Years. While I did not manage to connect with 50 friends over the 50 days, it was a very fruitful, fun, and enlightening experience, which carved a new space in the year and in my life: a larger space of gratitude for the people and events who have shaped the woman I am today, and a new space of embracing the legacy of years. I am thankful that I approach the 50s with few regrets, and a beautiful bouquet of people, places, and memories, including my husband, our marriage, and our life together. So the journey up to now has been mostly sweet, and my prayer is that it will continue to grow sweeter.

I packed my things, gave my thanks to Gina for the use of her Air BnB, and said my goodbyes. Since we kept skipping a formal breakfast these past two days, I decided to meet Shawna for one last meal at Black Bear Diner before I hit the road.

Black Bear is another Shawna find, and they have some of the best comfort food west of the Mississippi. One of their specialties is sweet cream pancakes, french toast, muffins, you name it. The sweet cream adds an extra layer of richness to the already fluffy texture of the bread, that is only enhanced by syrup, more butter, and whatever else you want to top it with. Had I been smart, I would have bought some muffins or sweetbread to take with me—maybe next trip….

It was delicious fuel for the body for the 6-plus hour drive back South. The car needed fuel too, so I gassed up at the Fairfield Costco before hopping the 5 South for a mostly uneventful ride back to Los Angeles. This is Northern and Southern California after all, and the traffic is legendary; but for the most part, the drive was smooth.

I arrived home to ecstatic puppies and a happy husband, so perhaps a weekend getaway was a perfect solution to reset us. We would be celebrating 9 years married in two days, so a reset was a good thing.

I also came home to a couple of sweet presents: a personalized gift basket from Lynn’s sister Carrie, and a lovely photo book from my sister Joan.

The last day of 49 ended as desired: at home with the people I love, on a mellow note, with anticipation of things to come as I crossed the threshold into 50.

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 23, Griffith Observatory with the Velas!

9 07 2016

“Beautiful memories are like old friends. They may not always be on your mind, but they are forever in your heart.” — Susan Gale

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Hermione and Samuel Vela are longtime and lifetime friends. Hermione and I met at The Church on the Way back in the mid-90s. While we knew each other, our relationship was mostly seeing each other on Sundays and at college and single’s group activities. I started attending a particular single’s group at the megachurch, and met a unique and stellar young man named Kelly Rivers. He invited me to his “Breakfast Club” early on Thursday mornings, and I discovered that Hermione and several other friends I knew were a part of it. That helped to change the nature of our relationship, and we started building a friendship outside of the group. However, when she asked if I wanted to meet one-on-one for accountability and prayer, well that pretty transformed us individually and corporately.

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Charles Finney said, “Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.”

He is right. Hermione is a sister of my heart, as well as my family, and much of that is a result of the time we have spent together in prayer. The older I get, the more I understand how rare and how precious this bond is, and I am grateful to have it.

Hermione has seen and prayed me through depression, family reconciliation, loneliness, financial stress, faith struggles—the highs and the lows over two decades. I saw her come together with Samuel, and she and Samuel saw my coming together with Lynn.

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She was there to welcome my sister June and niece Gabi to California, and she was there to support me as June battled illness after illness, left to go back to Chicago, then returned to ultimately pass away. Hermione and Samuel grieved with us when June went to glory, and was there to support us as we navigated that grief.

Through upheavals, moves, and times of inertia we have maintained a quality friendship and a prayer partnership, and I am thankful and blessed that the quality of the friendship gets richer as we advance in years.

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One of the great privileges of lifelong friendship is to see the growth of family and relationships. Over the last several years, Samuel and Hermione have chosen to foster and then adopt two children: Jaxin and Yolanda. They are brother and sister, and as is the plight of many foster children, their lives have not been easy and their hurdles are often high. It takes a special heart to not only welcome these children into your family, but to work and fight to help them leap those hurdles and become who God created them to be; not what hard circumstances deformed them to be. Samuel and Hermione have those beautiful hearts, and I admire and revere them for this.

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Juggling schedules with children takes a certain type of art, but we were able to get together to celebrate their contribution to my 50 Days to 50 Years. We spent the evening at Griffith Observatory for their “Star Party”. Once a month, the observatory encourages amateur astronomers to bring their telescopes, and the staff have their own set up to assist interested parties in seeing constellations, the moon, and even some of the planets.

I brought a picnic of hot dogs, potato salad, vegetarian casserole, tacos, and brownies, and we knoshed, talked and watched all the buzz around the telescopes. We got a few views through telescopes of the moon, but for the most part we just spent time enjoying each other’s company and getting to know Jaxin and Yolanda a bit better.

Griffith Observatory is awesome for 360 degree views of Los Angeles, from Pasadena to the beach. We were able to take in the entire city from sun up to sunset, and enjoy the lights of the city that make Los Angeles look stunning.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 47, Selfies and Snuggles

15 06 2016

“There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”
― Homer, The Odyssey

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It’s a really good thing neither Lynn nor I are vain people. At 55 and 49, gray hair and double chins, we are quite content to take a selfie with faded clothing and bad lighting.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are my Yoga teaching days. Between my regular five classes, classes that I sub, and writing coverage that I sometimes do in the evening, by the time I get home a hot shower and my pajamas are high on the list of priorities; then, snuggle time!

My husband is a love bug and has no problem with public displays of affection, so we got affectionate for the camera. Then our other love bug, Puppet, decided he needed to be in the midst of this kissy-face-fest, so he jumped on our laps and joined the fun!

We have been together for 11 years, and will be married for nine of those years just two days after I turn the birthday page. The bulk of those years have been a rocky road due to sickness, financial distress, and life circumstances. But I can say with confidence that we love each other more today than we did yesterday, but definitely not as much as tomorrow.

On the road to 50, I am blessed to have found love, and someone who wants to build a home with me and help me celebrate the big and little things in life.

 





In My Orbit…

3 11 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Postmortem edition, which is generally sunny.  I’m even way more optimistic about California than my fellow conservatives.  Though the Executive House has remained entrenched with leftist retreads like Brown, Newsom and Boxer, The State House has gone surprisingly conservative/right.  A look at Politico‘s very detailed Election results map, shows California voting district by district. We know it will take a major act for Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and the Norther Coastal parts to turn red–but the rest of the California landscape?  bloody man, Bloody.   So will that get us further entrenchment with nothing getting done, or will it precipitate change?  Whether we lose more businesses and jobs and how quickly we slip into insolvency will be the deciding factors.

And CBS News points to the Ominous Signs For Obama in 2012.  Major theme: It’s the economy–pay attention to the economy.  No president has ever won re-election with unemployment above seven percent.  Hopefully our President is reading this and will refocus in the right direction.  Hopefully….

Of course, the national results had me doing a happy dance!  Already 247 Republican House seats confirmed and 11 or 12 yet to be decided.  And a conservative turnover in Blue entrenchments like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and God love us–Illinois?  For once, the dead didn’t vote!

Evan Bayh, retiring Democrat Senator from Indiana gives some advice to his party on how to recoup and regain in 2012.   Where Do Democrats Go Next? Best pull quote:

“It is clear that Democrats over-interpreted our mandate. Talk of a “political realignment” and a “new progressive era” proved wishful thinking. Exit polls in 2008 showed that 22 percent of voters identified themselves as liberals, 32 percent as conservatives and 44 percent as moderates. An electorate that is 76 percent moderate to conservative was not crying out for a move to the left.”

Prescient me predicted liberal overreach after Obama was elected, and I was not disappointed.  Now the Dems are, and I don’t quite understand why.  What’s that proverb?  Pride comes before a fall, and Pride and Arrogance has been their waistcoat since January 20, 2009.  When will they get it?

Exit question–will they listen to Bayh’s assessment, or continue to try to shove their progressive agenda down America’s throat?  Only time will tell….

What is most clear to me is that the people have spoken again; now let’s hope that both sides interpret this correctly. No mandate here–just listen to what we’re saying, okay?  Because we do desire to see our country succeed, and now, we organize and WE VOTE.  And by the way, stop calling us fearful and stupid–gets you nowhere fast.

I like my nation for the people, by the people, and every election cycle reinforces why the Founders wanted it that way.  Thomas Jefferson said it well: “I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.”

 





In My Orbit…

23 07 2010

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Girl’s been gone for a bit as life and circumstance have eaten up my time, energy and a bit of my sanity.  Since I never claimed to be completely sane anyway, that last one was the least of my worries.

After a month-long ordeal of packing a house and cramming it into an apartment, my sweet hubby fell ill and ended up in the hospital.  Diagnosis: ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease that affects the colon.  Thankfully, he is on the mend, adapting to his medications, and we pray will be able to get back to life and work soon.

So the blog got put on the back burner, but I am now back with a vengeance.   Watch out, world!

The political junkie is in full bore, what with the smackalicious stuff coming from The Daily Caller about the JournoList,  a listserv where bunches of liberal journalists got together to engineer and plot the downfall of the likes of Fred Barnes and Sarah Palin, and to assist Obama’s political rise and eventual win of the 2008 Presidential race.

Like the East Anglia emails, it only confirmed my and many conservatives, suspicions about information control and dissemination in order to advance a cause or political agenda.   So no big surprise here.  However, the arrogance, sniping, and smarter-than-thou snarkiness is more than fascinating.

See for yourself.  The Daily Caller-JournoList links.

And I end with a bit of humor–it made me laugh out loud!  I love the Talking Heads and their video of this song, so this parody is well done, along with packing a punch.

H/t: Hot Air.





The Matriarchs

1 02 2010

Black Heritage is my heritage–embodied in the history of my family.

Excerpted from Fried Chicken and Sympathy, Chapter 1: Affectionately Known as Bay

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My mother’s given name was Bernice Betty Jo Foxx, but everyone called her “Bay.”  Born on August 10, 1931 in Tyronza, Arkansas, she was the fifth of the eight children born to Annie Belle Simmons Foxx and Joe Henry Foxx.  Tyronza is one of those towns that if you’re driving through it and blink, you’ll miss it. It borders on Arkansas and Tennessee, and its population today is just over 1,000.  That’s the number of people in a four-block radius in most major cities.  The small-town ethic of family, religion and community remained a part of Bay all her life, even though she lived most of it in big cities.  But Bay was never really happy in the city, and spoke often about moving back down South.

Bay was a beautiful girl, with what we would call a “high-yella” complexion.  This was sometimes a point of teasing between her and her sisters, who were much darker than she was.  She had curly brown hair that she wore short to frame her face, and she had a petite figure that was made for the fashions of the ‘50s and ‘60s.  Two pictures of her that always stick in my mind are her eighth-grade and high-school graduation photos.  In her eighth-grade photo, she is standing in a shin-length white petticoat dress, and white strappy shoes découpage shoes.  Along with the white corsage, she wore a stoic expression which would later come to characterize her general demeanor.  Her high-school graduation photo was much more carefree, even happy—which is a term I would rarely use to describe my mother.  It was a head and shoulders portrait, in her mortarboard and robe, and Bay has her head posed to the side, with an upturned smile, as if looking forward to the future.  That picture gives a glimpse of the Bay I never knew, and the Bay that probably attracted my father, Oliver, to her.  Unfortunately, the years of death and destruction, beginning with his murder in 1970, wiped that woman completely out, and only the picture is left to bear witness that she ever existed.

Bay and her seven brothers and sisters picked cotton for extra money, while Grandpa Joe worked in a mill, and Grandma Annie cleaned houses and raised chickens in order to sell the eggs.  When Mom was in the fourth grade, they moved to Memphis, where they had greater work opportunities.

Tyronza was a spit in the dirt compared to Memphis.  Grandpa Joe worked as a houseboy at the once-prestigious Peabody Hotel, and also at the King Cotton, and Grandma Annie worked as a maid at both hotels.

My Uncle Joe Louis, Bay’s youngest brother, added, “Grandpa was a ‘sharecropper’ in Arkansas, so moving to Memphis and getting a job in a hotel was a step up.  And believe it or not, it was also easier work.”

With Grandma Annie working nights, my mother went to school during the day and worked during the evening, sharing the responsibility of caring for her toddler brother (Joe Louis) with her sister Cornell (Honey).  She graduated from eighth grade, and went on to Washington High School, while working nights in a hospital.  When today’s teenagers talk about the pressure they’re under to make good grades and work at the same time, I shake my head.  Bay made exceptional grades and worked pretty much full-time—concrete proof that one can do what one sets one’s mind to.

Being the third girl, Bay was closest to her older sisters, Geraldine and Cornell, or “Honey,” as I came to know her.  As my Aunt Allene, who was born after Bay, attests:

“Of course we were close,” she said.  “We argued like most siblings, but we didn’t fight.  Mama didn’t allow that.”

The Foxx way of hard work, family and sacrifice was part of Bay’s genetic code, and was passed down from her unique and visionary parents.  Uncle Joe Louis elaborates:

“Based on what I heard and saw, they had a difficult time in the South.  By ‘difficult times,’ I am only referring to what was most likely a universal state of affairs for Blacks in the South at that time.  Most had large families and low-paying or no-paying jobs.  There was never enough money.  In the case of Daddy, it was a no-paying job.”

Uncle Joe elaborated on what this type of “employ”—sharecropping—really entailed:  “A person lives on someone’s farm, and plants and harvests the crops for a share of the profits when they are sold, but this was the replacement for slavery.  They were owned economically, because after the crops were sold, and the profits divided, and the indebtedness paid, there was usually very little left for the sharecropper—so the cycle started all over again with an indebtedness.”

Grandpa Joe Henry and Grandma Annie Belle both had the wit and wherewithal to move out of a no-win situation, in order to attain a better life for themselves, and their children, and they were strong influences on their children and grandchildren—but Grandma Annie, in particular, left certain distinctive marks on Bay.

Grandpa Joe Henry’s grandmother had been a slave, and somewhere in the lineage we have Native American—most likely Cherokee or Blackfoot-blood, although Aunt Everette, Bay’s baby sister, says that we also have Crete in our line.  Grandpa Joe had that burnished mahogany skin, hooked nose and chiseled countenance that is typical of Native Americans, and it shows in the black and white photos I have of him.  Annie Belle was also the granddaughter of slaves, and was a proud woman who kept a clean home and was no-nonsense about almost everything.  Her life revolved around her children, her church and her community; she took these things seriously, and expected everyone around her to do the same.

Bay inherited the no-nonsense persona from Grandma Annie.  Silly and lazy just didn’t rate in her book.  You were either about business, or you were up to no good.  When my sisters were younger (somehow, the brothers were exempt), Saturday mornings always started early, doing laundry, cleaning and ironing.  One of Bay’s constant expressions (I’ll call them “Bayisms”), was, “An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop!”  I’m quite sure she heard this first from Grandma Annie’s mouth, and she definitely learned under her tutelage to never to be idle.

Annie stood 4 feet 11 inches tall, but according to those who knew her, she packed a wallop.  She’d go on tirades without warning, and the whole house would shake.  My cousin Ricky called them her “5150 episodes,” borrowing the police code for someone having a psychotic breakdown.  Her storms ranged from swearing up a blue streak to throwing pots, pans and any furniture that wasn’t nailed down.

Since she died before I knew her, most of the information I do have is thanks to my brothers, sisters and cousins.

Some of that fire is just the Foxx nature, but I also suspect that Grandma Annie’s short fuses were due to brain damage.  She’d had a stroke in 1958, which left her partially paralyzed on her left side.  But Annie had a strong will, and refused to let it immobilize her.  She regained her speech, and with the help of a cane, she was able to walk and get around quite well.  Although she couldn’t work full-time, she still tended to the house and her family.

Where Grandma Annie was volatile, Grandpa Joe was as even as a river in summer. A calm, peaceful man, he was happy and smiling, always humming a tune—especially when Grandma Annie went 5150—which only irritated her more.  But the more she fussed, the more he hummed and sang.  Guess everyone has his way of coping, and that was his.  He died from brain cancer a week after I was born.  Bay started keeping a family history in 1983, and she wrote this about Grandpa Joe’s death:  “August 1966 was the death of my father and the children’s grandfather.  He was missed very much.  He died of cancer, starting with a kidney that had to be taken out and it spread to his brain.  After they operated, he passed away.”

June remembers Bay breastfeeding me at Grandpa Joe’s funeral, a towel draped over her shoulder for modesty.  So I guess you can truly say my life began with death.

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