Published in 2020, and a must read for anyone who cares about abused women, their rights, and how law enforcement often fails them, this book by Trethewey, 2007 Pulitzer Poetry Price winner for “Native Guard”, voices her struggle to deal with her mother’s untimely death. When Trethewey was nineteen and in college, her mother was shot and killed by her step-father after the police officer assigned to protect her mother left his post early. Additionally, the memoir details the effects of the racism she experienced as the child of a white father and black mother (married when it was illegal where they lived) in Mississippi and later in Atlanta in the 1970s and 80s before her mother’s murder in 1985. The book gets its title from the street on which her mother lived when she was murdered. Through this memoir Trethewey discusses how her parent’s divorce, her mother’s remarriage to an angry, abusive man, and her mother’s murder has informed her life and affected the enduring love she holds for her mother.
One Book a Week-5: The Importance of Paris by Cynthia F. Davidson
This memoir take place when the author decides to move to Paris in order to address certain “issues” related to her childhood and young adult years. She grew up in Saudi Arabia before the oil boom and went to high school and lived in Beirut when it was considered one of the best cities in the world. She had to leave when Lebanon became war torn, her dad was kidnapped, and her sister shot. Her return to the US proved traumatizing even though she is not genetically of Middle Eastern descent. Paris was filled with Lebanese refugees so she moves there in an attempt to understand what happened to her beloved Lebanon and why.
This is not an ordinary memoir. I could not stop reading it; I wanted to know what happens next and why. It includes a graphic honesty not found in most memoirs I’ve read. In addition, it contains political and historical explanations for the events that transpired during the time period of the book.
Want to learn more about the background to current events in the Middle East? Want to read about a remarkable life? Then read this memoir.
Another Day at The Huntington
Decades ago three of us attended the same two room elementary school, Clay Center, located at the corner of the intersection of two gravel, country roads, surrounded by rolling farmland in Northwest Missouri.
On Wednesday morning, we strolled though part of The Huntington Gardens and one of the art galleries there.
Ramona, the youngest one of us, is visiting her brother, Craig, who lives in Palm Springs. She loves succulents so we headed to that part of the gardens first.
Ramona and my daughter strolling along one of the wider pathways.
Road Trip to Palm Springs
Life brought me to the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California late last summer. A few months later, my childhood friend from elementary school in the farmlands of Northwestern Missouri moved back to Palm Springs. Today I drove out to the desert to see him, Craig Prater. I arrived a little early so drove around, took a walk downtown, and took some photos. We were so intent on catching up and visiting, I forgot to take a photo of Craig and me together. Here are photos I took as I walked and drove around.
Desert mountains surround Palm Springs. It is hot compared to where I live. When I returned to my car after lunch, the thermometer said 121. It really was not quite that hot, only 103. 1.25 hours later when I arrived back home, it was 87 at my house.
I took this to include parts of the palo verde tree and the mountains. Palm trees are everywhere as you can see from the photos.
Palm Springs is Mid-Century Modern architecture country. This photo and the following photos are some examples of the types of houses I saw as I drove around.
Mom loved Shetland ponies.
not so much the stocky, chubby ones,
the fancy show ponies.
We had so many, I’ve lost count–
black, pinto, dappled grey with silver
mane and tail–the fanciest one.
Midget, a pinto, was the first one.
They bought her so I could learn to ride.
I was six.
At the country fair, I rode her.
She zigged; I zagged, fell off.
On rainy days my sister and I would
put a few in the barn, dress them up,
play games with them,
We even rode them when in high school
along the cornfields, across the terraces.
My last memory–riding, ambling along, not paying attention,
suddenly lots of noise in the cornfield,
an animal running through the cornstalks.
Pony bolted; I jumped, landed wrong,
limped for days at school, climbing
up and down the steps.
Did I ride again?
I don’t think so, not for years and
then I rode horses.
Easy Vegetarian Chili Dinner
I had some Soyrizo in the refrigerator–chorizo made from soybeans–and decided to try making chili with it. I sautéed one finely chopped onion in olive oil and added the Soyrizo after removing it from the casing and breaking it up into small pieces. After the onion was translucent, I added one deseeded and chopped red bell pepper and a deseeded and chopped poblano pepper. To this mixture I added one can undrained black beans and 1 small can chopped tomatoes. I let this mixture cook on low for several hours before serving. The Soyrizo makes it a little bit spicy, but if you want more spice add berbere, chili powder, etc. to your taste. I like thick chili but if you want it more like the consistency of soup, just add some broth or water.
The salad was made with a mixture of greens, chopped red bell peppers, dried bing cherries, and sliced leeks broken up so you can see the circles. These bowls have been in my family for decades. They were the everyday dishes my mom used when I was growing up.
Note: For those out there who question, and rightfully, some of the ingredients in meat substitutes, I do get it. However, once in a while I like to jazz up the food a bit.
In Memory of Mother’s Roses
Mother’s rose garden
flowers for the family table
all my childhood summers.
Red, pinks, snowy.
No roses for decades
except those given, bouquets,
Now, I look out every window, roses
Pinks, reds, orange, lavender, yellow, snowy.
I love them, cut them,
And remember my mother.
Wandering the World–Food
My travels have not only enlightened me personally, but also enabled me to create recipes from my food adventures around the world. Due to the recommendations of friends and family worldwide, I created a cookbook/memoir with stories and recipes. Len Leatherwood, new President of the Story Circle Network, says, “This is a cookbook after my own heart, filled with a wide range of healthy recipes from several cultures that will add flavor, color, and variety to any table.” Jennifer Archer, award winning writer and editor elaborated further, “A feast for the senses…combines colorful stories, poems, and mouth-watering recipes that inspire readers to experience new places, new tastes…from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Scandinavia, and America.”
This would make a great Christmas present for foodies and people who want worldwide food adventures. It can be ordered online from: http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com and go to Angel Books.
Recipes for the food in the photos above are included in the book. More food photos follow:
Lemon pasta with mixed salad topped with grated asiago cheese.
Many of the recipes feature berbere, a spice used in Ethiopian cooking. The book also includes four different recipes for salmon and many vegetarian and vegan recipes using spices from around the world.
You’re Gonna Eat That!? Adventures with Food, Family, and Friends
This is my new book, published last month. It is filled with stories, poems, and recipes–healthy food for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and meat eaters with photos and detailed instructions. Currently, it can be purchased at Burrowing Owl bookstores in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas, and online at http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com, Angel editions.
Reflections on Independence Day
When I was a child, we lived on a farm where it rains around 40 inches annually. On the Fourth of July, Dad always shot off a few Roman candles, and we had small firecrackers and sparklers, nothing fancy, just fun. Even then I knew about the Declaration of Independence, revered its message. Still do.
Now I live where it is hot and dry. The neighbor’s fireworks display rivaled those found in cities–beautiful but dangerous in brown grass country. I wonder if they give any thought to the history, to why anyone celebrates this day.
For the first time in the decades of my life, I did not celebrate Independence Day. Why?
Born decades ago, I originally went to college in Virginia where I experienced the shock of real segregation; I had not grown up where it was like that. I was horrified, lasted only one semester, then transferred. Later I attended a college which shut down in protest over the Viet Nam War, I supported The Civil Rights Movement, I helped create one of the first intercollegiate groups to advocate for abused women, and with an ethnically diverse group I taught diversity classes for teachers.
Now in 2020, I feel that even with all that hard, determined work, progress has been too limited. It is as if I have been transported back to 40 years ago. People need to learn from the history most do not even know:
-Cotton Mather, the leading intellectual and Puritan minister in the colonial era, actually helped butcher King Phillip (Metacomet) like an animal. What did he do to deserve this? He tried to save his Native people. Cotton Mather later writes about tearing Metacomet’s jaw from his skull.
-In 1676, when poor whites joined enslaved Africans to rebel for a better life and decent living conditions, fighting for justice against the wealthy planters, those rich planters realized they had to get poor whites to hate Blacks. They took land owned by Blacks and gave it to poor white people and then paid them to hunt down and abuse, even kill, people of African descent.
-Later, the same Cotton Mather mentioned above, learned from his slave that in Africa, Africans had been taking pus from a smallpox infected person and inoculating others with it to prevent smallpox from spreading. He refused to believe any African could be so smart even though he inoculated himself and his family after learning this. Later, he wrote this about his African slave who had told him the story that may have saved his life: “…brokenly and blunderingly and like Idiots they tell the Story.”
-Of course, we all know that the intellectual giant, Thomas Jefferson, held the deed to the woman who would later bear him numerous children while he proclaimed those famous words that all people are created equal.
The history of racial and ethnic hatred goes back to the inception of this country. It continues to poison progress and hope. It never seems to end. I am tired of it. Enough is enough.