The Elusive Princess Tiana

I’ve always loved Pez dispensers, but the candy is kind of nasty.  I have a few dispensers packed away in a box somewhere in hopes to one day have a collection worth displaying.

When Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” debuted in 2009, I was ecstatic to find out that there was a Pez dispenser with Princess Tiana on it.  Even as an adult, it was hugely impactful to me to have an African-American Disney Princess.  I went on the hunt for it, but could find it nowhere.  I turned to the internet and found that others were having a similarly difficult time finding her.  I almost bought one on eBay for $10, but my better judgement kicked in and I let it go.

Today, I was out shopping for candy for the special Halloween bags for the kids next door, and thought that putting in a cute Pez dispenser in each bag would be a fun thing that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.  The bin that held the dispensers was on the bottom shelf.  Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” was the first one I saw.  I grabbed it for the little girl.  That’s when I noticed that the whole bin seemed to be filled with princess.  I bent down to dig through to find one that was suitable for a little boy.  While sifting through the pile, there she was; Princess Tiana.  I couldn’t believe it.  I did a little happy dance and then sat down on the floor to continue to dig through the bin.  I had to find another one to send to my friend.  I know I must’ve looked crazy but I didn’t care.  I was determined.  I was more than halfway through all of the dispensers when I found another Tiana.  Since I had gotten that far, I looked through what was remaining to see if there happened to be another.  There wasn’t.

On my way home, I replayed the moment I found her in my head a few times.  While sitting at a stop light I chuckled as I was reminded that you tend to find what you’re looking for once you stop looking.

20151031_144431

Happy Feet

This morning, after very little sleep, I woke up with the closing scene from the movie “Happy Feet” in my head.  I’ll never be able to dance like Savion Glover.  For that matter, I won’t ever be a dancing penguin.  Lol.  But in the solitude of my home, Matilda is the only one that will ever see me groove so hard that you can’t tell me that I’m not matching Savion/Mumble step for step.

Enjoy this clip, do your happy dance today, and don’t forget to be thankful!

Happy Dance Fridays: Beetlebugs

I have always loved Volkswagen Beetles. There is something about that shape and smiling grill that always makes me do an internal happy dance.

IMG_0451-0.JPG

Photo credit: vwtrendsweb.com

The red convertible ones are my favorite. They evoke a sense of fun and freedom. They harken back to a time when love flowed freely and peace was not only the cool way to say goodbye, but was also the goal of the day.

For a long time, it was my goal to own a Beetlebug, as I call them, so a few years ago, when it came time to buy a new-to-me car (I refuse to buy brand new), I decided it was time to live the dream.

As much as I love the red ones, I thought red would be too flashy for me. Plus, I tend to speed a bit, and I’ve read that red cars draw the attention of the police.

No red Beetlebug.

As much I love the convertibles, I knew having one wouldn’t work for me. Since I can’t be out in the sun, I would never let the top down. Plus, I was worried about having a soft top car in the rain or snow.

No convertible Beetlebug.

I decided upon a 2004 silver, low mileage Bug.

image

I love driving my car. It always makes my day to pass a fellow Beetle driver who honks their horn or flashes me a peace sign and a smile.

The car has never given me any real problems.

Happy dance!

Earlier this year, I finally finished paying for my Bug.

HAPPY DANCE!

Even though the car is paid off, the car is still running without a problem (Knock on wood.)

HAPPIEST OF DANCES!!!

Why are you doing your happy dance today?
image

Escape part I: Gee’s Bend

IMG_0477.JPG

The ferry was closed. I had been wanting to take this trip to this quilt Mecca for a very long time, and as I sped toward the last leg of my journey, with only minutes to spare, I learned that the ferry had experienced mechanical trouble and had been shut down for the past two weeks. My life has been filled with these messages of “No, ma’am, you must take the long way around” for years. This was just another reminder that there are no short cuts in life, at least not for me.

This trip had already been changed a few times. I was supposed to take the trip with my mother last year (or was it two years ago) during the first week in July. It was extremely hot that week and I had to cancel the trip because I wasn’t feeling well. Earlier this year, I announced to my best friend, Sophia, that I was going to take a solo road trip. I was so excited. She, in her infinite wisdom, found a way to dissuade me from taking a trip that would surely send me in to a flare, and rerouted the journey via the air. We were all set to make the trip on Saturday when we got a call on Wednesday telling us that the building wouldn’t be open on Saturday because there was a funeral that the community would be attending. We moved the trip up to Friday, only to find that the ferry was shut down.

Had it not been for Sophia, I probably would have turned around in frustration and travelled back to the hotel, 90 plus miles away. She said very calmly and confidently, “Let’s just ask that man how we can drive there.” Drive there? It never occurred to me that I could drive there. I had been planning this trip for months and everything I read described the best way to get there was by ferry. The best way is never the only way.

After taking a few pictures, we drove in a 45 minute loop to reach our destination for the day, an area known in Alabama as Gee’s Bend. The women of this community are world renowned for their quilts. Their style is quite distinct and was born out of necessity. For more on their story, check out this great Smithsonian Magazine article here.

I had daydreamed about what it would be like to meet these women and hear their stories. In my mind, it was going to be a life changing experience that would inspire me to reach new artistic heights in my own quilting, a soul-stirring time that would make me see my life through a different lens, and it would all have the soundtrack of old Negro spirituals. The only thing I had remotely correct was the music.

IMG_0480.JPG

IMG_0473.JPG

When we arrived at the quilt collective, I was a bit worried that this was not going to be the experience I had in mind. I expected to walk into a building that was full of activity and energy; women sitting around a huge quilting loop, working on a quilt together. Instead, when we walked in, there were only two women there, one was sitting at a sewing machine working on a quilt, the other sitting by a window, using the natural light to hand quilt. There was gospel music playing in the background, but neither woman was singing.

20151009_143915

China Pettway, Mary Ann’s cousin.

The woman at the machine turned out to be Mary Ann Pettway. We had spoken on the phone a couple of times in the past couple of weeks. She welcomed us in and invited us to look around and ask any questions we might have. I was instantly struck by a wonderful brown quilt hanging on the front wall. It was exactly the kind of quilt I had hoped to find here. Had it been a different color, I would’ve snatched it from the wall, paid for it, and would’ve been perfectly happy to get in the car and go back to Montgomery.

20151009_143638

I pulled myself away from the quilt and I perused the framed black and white photographs that the lined the long wall of this shotgun styled building. Someone had done a magnificent job capturing the characters of this small, tight-knit community. As I moved from picture to picture, Ms. Pettway informed me, “Most all those people on the wall is dead.” There were a lot of pictures on the wall.

Suddenly, I heard Sophia calmly exclaim, “Uhhh, Kisha…!” I left the pictures and followed her voice into the next room. There were quilts everywhere. Several sets of utility shelving units lined the walls and were overstuffed with quilts. Tables in the middle of the floor were covered with quilts. I was completely overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure where to start, but I was determined to find a quilt that spoke to my soul and wouldn’t offend my budget.

IMG_0592IMG_0593

After about 20 minutes of searching, I felt hugely disappointed. There was nothing in those stacks and stacks of quilts that looked like the quilts I have admired over the years. Nothing was making me break into my happy dance. Nothing was making my soul sing.IMG_0464.JPG

I decided to widen my search and looked at quilts I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford because of their size. There were a couple of beauties in that group, but nothing that I absolutely had to have. I was starting to give up hope when I unfolded a two toned blue beauty.

IMG_0462.JPG

It was made from old post office work shirts and it had the kind of style and workmanship that I had hoped to find. My heart fluttered and my soul started to search for the proper key to sing its song in when I looked for the price tag. There was no price tag, but I found Ms. Pettway’s signature on the back. When she came in to check on us, Sophia asked her how much the quilt was. Even though I knew it would be out of my price range, I was willing to figure out a way to make it work. “Me-me-me-me-me-me-me”, sang my soul as it warmed up to sing its song of joy. “That quilt is $15,000, but it’s marked down to $10,000. That red and white quilt on top of it is $20,000 because I’m not ready to sell that one yet.” “Waha-waha-waha-waha” went the soundtrack in my mind as I was completely disqualified from taking that quilt home. “But I’m willing to negotiate, she said. As I folded up the quilt, Sophia sprang into action. Within seconds, she had negotiated the price down to something much more reasonable, but still so outside of my budget that I couldn’t figure out how I was going to be able to make it work and still have food to eat when I returned home.

I was starting to make myself sick with stress, so I had to just let it go, but I couldn’t leave empty-handed. I had come with the distinct purpose of buying my very own Gee’s Bend quilt, but there were only two quilts in the building that spoke to me. One I couldn’t afford and another that I liked the style of, but not the color.

I sat in silence and disappointment as Sophia continued going through the stacks of quilts. She had been through them all at least once already, but was going back through to be sure she hadn’t missed anything. I thought to myself that it had been a long and interesting trip so far, and I began to recall the events of the day. That’s when it dawned on me.

I would have to take the long way around.

“Ms. Pettway, I’m gonna have to leave this one here, but I wanna know if you will make me a quilt similar to the brown one hanging on the wall in the other room? I can put a deposit down on it today.”

“Naw, naw, naw, don’t give me no money today, ’cause I don’t know when I’ll be able to finish the quilt. But yes, I can make one for you, but I’ll tell you right now, it won’t be the same as the one on the wall.”

“That’s fine!”, I said, and just like that, by listening to the lesson of the journey, I had secured my very own, Mary Ann Pettway, custom-made, Gee’s Bend quilt.

IMG_0458.JPG

Me, Mary Ann Pettway, and the Post Office Work Shirt Quilt

Perks

Yesterday, I had surgery. Today, I feel like a donkey kicked me in my stomach.

In the days leading up to the surgery, my Dad started to freak out a bit. Sometimes fear can sound like anger when communicated in an email. He was worried about the effects the anesthesia might have on my adrenal gland since I had been on prednisone for such a long time. I had talked to all my doctors about it and had no concerns, but that didn’t calm his nerves at all.

He and my stepmom left their home in the middle of the night and got here about six hour before surgery.

Dad was worried but I was pretty calm about the whole thing. I had completely underestimated how I might feel afterwards, thinking that I might be back to work the next day. This was just another thing I had to deal with as far as I was concerned.

The surgery went well and the whole thing was relatively uneventful. Today, before my Dad left to go back home, he took me out to get something to eat. He asked me where I wanted to go and I told him that I really didn’t care. He responded with “One of the perks of coming out of anesthesia is getting to pick where we eat. That’s one for ‘Thank You Daily’. You should write one called ‘Perks’.”

One of the perks of being me is knowing that whatever decision I make, I know my Dad will always be there to support me. Thanks, Dad.

Escape

I love the hustle and bustle of the airport. It heightens my senses and ignites a sense of excitement in me. In just a couple hours, I can be in a brand new world; somewhere that I can explore, somewhere that has a different sound and rhythm, somewhere I can be the me I want to be and not the me I have to be.

As I write this, I am on a plane headed to Alabama. A friend of mine asked me If I was going for work or vacation. I told her that this was vacation, but now that I think about it, that’s not quite accurate. This trip is not what I would consider a vacation. This is more of an escape. I have been in dire need to get away from my life for awhile, even if that “awhile” was just a couple days. This summer has been pretty hellacious for me. Lupus took ahold of me like it had something to prove and wouldn’t let go. It was absolutely horrible. Then my body decided to present me with new challenges that left me thinking that there was something wrong with my lady parts and that I might have yet another autoimmune disease.

My dog, Matilda, had a few health crises of her own. She’s battled, correction, I’ve battled with her incontinence for a few years now. She goes through spurts where she just can’t hold it for more than a couple of hours. We went through a couple of those times this summer. She also came down with a terrible urinary tract infection that just wouldn’t go away. There was a stretch that we were both taking prednisone. It was a truly crazy summer, not easily forgotten, but I’m trying to leave it all behind me as this plane ascends.

I’m off to be the truest me I can be for a few days. I’ve already caught myself flirting with a very handsome member of the flight crew. That’s not something I would normally do, so I
guess the escape has already begun.

IMG_0447.JPG

Who Is It Wednesday: Jack

A good friend of mine had a baby last week.  It is her first baby and he came about three days early.  I am so excited for her, but I don’t envy the changes she’s about to experience.

Her baby made me think of my nephew, Jack, mainly because she was thinking about naming her baby Jack.  (She ended up choosing a different name.)  My nephew is two now and is becoming quite the little character.

IMG_31561  IMG_31521

He can read about 30 words now and is becoming much more conversational.  He makes me think about the future and what I need to do to be sure that if I’m blessed to be here as long as I’d like to be, that I will be able to enjoy my time with him and to give him what he wants and needs.

Feeding America

This weekend, I had the inexplicable desire to cook lots of food.  I made two ham, green pepper, mushroom, and onion quiches,

20151003_133657

a turkey breast,

20151003_133009

and a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.20151003_133601I think my desire to cook had something to do with the weather.  It was raining and windy all weekend and the temperature has dropped into autumn.

I gave one of the quiches to a friend, but even with that, it’s going to take me awhile to finish all of this food.  I have more than I need this week.

This was good practice for Thanksgiving.  I’m having family over this year, and I’ve only prepared Thanksgiving dinner once.  I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to pull it off without embarrassing myself now.

All of this made me think about all of the people who won’t be sitting around a table with family and friends this Thanksgiving; about all of the people who can’t think that far into the future because they don’t know where they will find their next meal.  I was reminded of the blog post I wrote last year about my desire to feed people and decided that now is as good a time as any to do something about it.  It’s time to put my feelings of gratitude into action.

Over on my Facebook page, there are almost 19,000 people who know how important it is to be thankful.  I’m asking them and anyone else that is reading this to help me in my quest to feed 100,000 people in need.  I learned from Feeding America that $1 can provide 11 meals.  With that information in mind, I’m asking y’all to support my virtual food drive by making a contribution of $1 or more.  I’m hoping that by Thanksgiving, I’m able to raise $10,000 for Feeding America.  Won’t you help me by clicking here and making a donation?

 

Shift In My Perspective

Last night, I was lying in bed under a sheet, a blanket, and a heavy quilt.  The thermostat was set at 70 degrees.  My body was warm but my feet were freezing, despite the fact that I was wearing a thick pair of socks.  This problem with my feet has been going on for years and you would think that I’d be used to it by now, but it still really aggravates me.  Sometimes I get down right angry about it.

Then this morning, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw this picture and headline.

image

Suddenly, I felt guilty for even being a slight bit bothered by my cold feet.  I do know what it feels like to have severely swollen and painful feet, but my feet have never been my sole means of transportation.  I have never had to depend on my feet to get me out of a war zone.  When I walk, I always know where I’m going and that I will be accepted at my final destination.  Last night I was irritated that my feet were so cold that they felt like they were burning, but this person stopped feeling her feet a few days ago, but said “I’m good.”

Life is all about perspective and this morning my perspective got a much needed jolt.

Rain

It was raining when I woke up this morning.  I love the sound of rain.   It calms and soothes me and often lulls me into some of the best sleep I ever experience.  Going back to sleep wasn’t an option this morning, so I laid there deciding how I would proceed with my morning.  You see, Matilda refuses to go outside in the pouring rain.  She can handle a nice spring rain, but when it’s coming down in buckets, she stands at the door and looks at me like I’m crazy.

It was pouring rain this morning.  So instead of walking her first and then getting ready for work, I did things in reverse order in the hopes that the rain would ease before I had to leave.  Matilda was confused by this schedule change.  I think she thought I had forgotten about her.  She looked so pitiful.  When the thunder started, confusion gave way to fright and I found her under the bed when I got out of the shower.

When I was finally ready to take her outside, there was barely a drizzle and for that, I was truly thankful.  I hate having to force her outside in the rain.  It makes me feel bad and she always seems traumatized by the experience.  Instead, we were able to take a pleasant stroll in the drizzle and it totally made my morning.

What are you thankful for today?