So, a week ago, Simply Tine and I embarked upon the time-honored tradition of all homeowners: overseeding and fertilizing the yard for the fall. Initially, I was very hesitant to it because I had little frame of reference. The first time I ever worried about seeding and feeding a lawn was in our first home in Georgia. Small yard. Less that 1/4 acre. Scott’s handled it, but we watered it faithfully. Anywho, our front yard is over 7500 sq. ft. and all I kept seeing were dollar signs and frustration. I mean, I grew up on two acres of land, and needless to say, seeding and feeding was OUT of the question. A couple of things enticed me to move forward with this:
– seeing my wife extremely excited and involved in fixing our flower bed
– remembering the work I put in to getting rid of the azaleas
– hearing the detailed investigations my wife did into the overall seeding/feeding process
– hearing the compliments from our neighbors regarding the work we’ve put in
Look, I try not to do things for show, but doggoneit, the bug bit me on this yard! Soooooo…. while she was at work, I meandered around one of my favorite places in the world.
We didn’t check for pH levels in the yard to see if we needed to lime anything. Honestly, I don’t want to mess with that stuff. I remember lime burn from foolishly washing it off instead of brushing it off as best I could. I’ll save that for early spring as not to interfere with the FUN SNOW we’re bound to have this year. ANYWAY… I believe we probably put in about 10 miles of walking after countless trips of cutting and spreading. We put down some extra lawn soil and sod in the areas around the flower bed left exposed from the digging and they’ve taken root! We received a few good rains this past week, so not as much watering needed.
We will see how this goes. Still have some weeding to do around the rest of the house, but with a cooldown next week, it’s prime time for me and Mr. Mattock (pick axe) to get to work. Stay tuned for a little surprise in the next week or two, also!
It is the last week of our two sons’ vacation. They spend their days playing outside, building things from displaced bricks and boards, Minecraft, Pokemon, Just Dance 4, eating chicken fingers and fish sticks, without a care in the world. We enjoy their curious meandering around our new home and are so happy to have made a way for them to enjoy life in our sanctuary. Their lives seem so idyllic, and to some extent, they are. In the back of my mind, however, I cannot help but think about the world that they are somewhat shielded from. I think about the families of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. I think about the entire scenario that has yet to be fully explained. I think about the prevailing mindsets of those within and without the city lines and how once again…. we are dealing with a racial powder keg. So many thoughts…. so many. For the folks that know me, I do not pull punches and I do not mean to cause harm, but I do share a perspective that will make you feel uncomfortable. Disclaimer done. Let’s go.
Blind loyalty to a side of any particular argument lends itself to scrutiny. It is easy to say, “Let’s wait and see what the investigation tells us” when there is a noted history of mistrust by those doing the investigation. The FBI is called to facilitate the investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s office is called to investigate. Dr. Michael Baden is requested by the family to perform an autopsy on top of the St. Louis County AND Federal medical examiners. Let’s take a step back and look at this. We have all of these eyes, ears, and hands in on this particular event for what particular reason? Mistrust. What is more concerning is that the Ferguson Police took a bit of time to disclose the officer involved. I can respect that they want to protect Officer Wilson and his family prior to disclosure, but it should not have taken that long to do so. Fuels mistrust. Furthermore, the public is receiving little information regarding their investigation. I can respect a thorough investigation, but again, if there is existing mistrust in your office, you must perform an extraordinary effort to be transparent with your findings and frequently communicate the same. The delays are further lowering the trust factor. As much as it does not want to be said, the composition of the information holders juxtaposed against those in which they protect and serve plays a large part in this entire scenario. Just as there is a suspicious look when some young Black people are huddled together or congregating, best believe that we are equally as suspicious when you are fumbling over your words at the mic and unsure of your words as an officer of the law. Mistrust.
I must admit that I have mixed feelings around Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson being assigned to help manage things. Yes, he is a hometown product and probably knows the lay of the proverbial land, but it almost felt like his presence was more of a conciliatory effort to have a Black person “managing his own.” Could someone else who didn’t look like us have done just as well? With the tensions as they are, probably not. It just does not feel right to resort to such affinities in order to gain order. Then again, the next resort would be bringing in the National Guard, declaring curfews, and tightroping martial law. Oh wait…. that did happen. Oh, and just as a belated FYI, Capt. Johnson is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. The picture circling around the Internet with him throwing up a handsign is not a gang sign, rather a fraternity sign shared among their Brethren. Yes, there were (and still are) people dead set to pin something negative to a Black person when it is quite the opposite and innocuous to boot.
Interesting segue. Blaming and discrediting the victim. The information gatekeepers have the advantage of presenting information in such a way that benefits their side. WHY else would a tape be released of an individual that supposedly fit the description of Mr. Brown shoplifting goods from a local convenience store… just to be condemned by the gatekeepers? Juuuuuust enough of a slip to give public perception enough blood in the water. Do not tell me that was an honest mistake. Damage control out there says that the officer was unaware at the time he and Mr. Brown crossed paths. Damage already done. What of this marijuana trace in his system? Does the information lend itself to scrutiny regarding Mr. Brown’s mental and physical state at the time of the encounter? Sure does, but let’s allow that to be decided by a jury. Six shots with two of them in the head. No call for an ambulance. Nothing. Should that also be decided by a jury? Sure does, but it also requires the assailant to be arraigned. Clock is ticking.
Many of you have read a blog entry titled “A White Mother’s Privilege.” Very honest dialogue around race relations, privilege, and its effects from a Caucasian perspective. That expression, by far, touched my sensitivities to perceptions and realities. Not everyone is willing to admit to white privilege for it requires them to see the other side of the table. The first half of my life was spent under an illusion that Caucasian folks were naturally empathetic to the plights of Black folks. I mean, hey…. no one ever felt the need to call me a nigger to my face. No one deliberately set upon to make my life a living hell just because I was Black. Everyone lived and let live… or so I thought. THEN CAME THE 2008 ELECTION. Oh boy. All of a sudden, the world totally shifted on its axis. I started seeing and hearing every excuse under the sun why President Obama was unfit for the position. Some may be justified in retrospect, but what will never be justified to me is that he is Black. His winning the elections twice brought out some deep-seeded opinions that, in my opinion, had always been there, even when I was in grade school. They were simply fed some real nasty fertilizer by the community in which they lived in. Facebook helped end plenty of supposed friendships and acquaintances, especially with respect to political leanings. The foundation of perceptions and realities was shaken to their core and now, we all had the “pleasure” of seeing racist caricatures, the birther search for his lack of citizenship, the evil Muslim propaganda because his middle name coincidentally was the same of a known terrorist. Oh, but let’s not forget some of the great sound bytes left by Missouri’s own Lt. Governor Peter Kinder regarding Anglo-American justice in Ferguson. It was his privilege and God-given right to make sure that we all knew where justice must be found. I retort:
Ignorance abounds, yet Black America is supposed to lend a deaf ear or kindly sweep it under the rug? No, you cannot say to me, “Oh, he just spoke out of pocket. It always happens and let’s move on.” THAT is where the problem lies. You don’t own the broom…. and for what it’s worth… you never wanted the broom, rather for everyone else to be left to clean up after you. If that’s not privilege spoken clearly, I will gladly help to find a transcript for you to read it.
An earlier conversation lent itself to some of my Caucasian friends feeling ashamed over the actions of other White folks. Let me make this clear: no one person should EVER feel that it is necessary to carry the burden of an entire racial or ethnic makeup. Please understand that I will NEVER purposefully carry the ignorance of another Black person as mine. If there is any part of being human that must occur is the individual accountability for our actions, not to conveniently shift those responsibilities elsewhere. Note that I said being human…. not Anglo, not African, not Asian, not Spanish.
I leave this post with an invitation just as I did earlier today. Feel free to come to the table. There is a smorgasbord of great food and conversation to be had. Some of it will definitely be hard to swallow, but it’s good for you! No poisonous vegetables. No strange delicacies. Bring an open mind to the table. Now, I don’t take kindly to RSVPs that turn into no-shows. My sons are well behaved and respectful. They may even ask you to play a little. Will you come?
Practicing microaggression seems to be the “in” thing to do YET AGAIN. Yes, it gets old for those who are on the receiving end, especially with such frequency. I despise assumptions. Wide brushes paint some ugly generalizations. When you are left to defend yourself and keep your head on a swivel of sorts, you cannot help but have that lonely feeling. Allow me to share my most recent experiences with these things.
The Work Flight Microaggression
I work for a large technology provider as an IT Architect/Consultant and about a quarter of my time is spent traveling. On this particular trip, I was seated beside a nice, inquisitive couple from South Africa. We exchanged pleasantries while waiting for the plane to take off.
“So, do you have any family in South Africa? You should come visit them if you do!”
“I may have some ancestry, but no immediate family members on the continent of Africa.”
“Any friends in South Africa?”
“I have plenty of friends and work associates who are from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, etc..” (quickly trying to get my headset on as not to go down this road)
He proceeds to explain to me the Afrikaners, economic disparities, IT opportunities, etc., all the while, I am trying to remember that this is someone who may not understand microaggressions from the African-American perspective. FINALLY, the first 10 minutes of the flight are over and I can turn on my laptop. I bring up iTunes and start playing the new De La Soul mixtape with my headphones, oh but noooooo, he asks me do I know about Fela Kuti. I smile, and respond in the affirmative… knowing he saw De La and thought Fela…. and was just nosy as all get out. Thankfully, that was the last interaction for the rest of the flight.
The Work Social
I went out to dinner with some coworkers at YO Ranch Steakhouse. Great place to eat! Check out my Yelp review. Anyway, as we were winding down and getting ready to head back to our hotel, I was interested in checking out one of the local bakeries named Tiff’s Treats. I mentioned it in passing, only to be met with an unsettling notion:
“Allriiiiiight! What happens in Dallas, stays in Dallas.”
Really? REALLY? You made an assumption that I was going to do something sinful with some lady named Tiff? So, I cannot enjoy a good cupcake or cookie from another city? Well, this time, I had to lose myself a bit. I reluctantly explained my intentions and my disappointment in such an assumption. Apology accepted, but look, it gets old. Not every man is hypersexed and looking for something to get into when out of town.
Counting Black People
Yes, we do count Black people in a room. Let me explain. I am in a particular IT segment where are not many African-Americans. Diversity is increasing, but slowly. Anyway, it’s somewhat of an innate behavior for humans to identify those in an area where they share similar affinities. So yes, sitting in a room of at least 1500 people, I started zoning out an counting how many people looked like me. Less than 20, and none of them were African-American women. Started to feel real small and real lonely in that conference hall. Even in all of the other sessions, I was the only one in attendance or maybe one of a couple. Part of me wanted to find a way to congregate with them, maybe find a way to connect without being obvious. Then I was reminded of Beverly Tatum’s book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race.” Sigh, What’s ironic is that this experience was very reminiscent of my high school honors classes with the exception that there were more African-American women…. yet it did not bother me as much back then. I did not experience any microaggressions during the actual sessions as expected. If there’s anything that I’ve learned over the years is that you cannot BS your IT experience. You better know your stuff or you will not be invited to the table.
Microaggressions, assumptions and feeling like you’re on a lonely island. Who knew? Plenty of people. Was the blog written to change the world? No way. Just sharing a little perspective. I do plan to visit the African continent before I leave this world, though.
By now, you have seen or heard about this young man who gets into a conversation with his mother over the desire to have cupcakes. Some people view this dyad as a healthy one that allows him own some independent thinking. Some even say that it’s cute. I tend to agree with some of this, except that there is a point where this will become a problem. Usual disclaimer applies, but if you are unaware: The opinions expressed here do not reflect my employer, faith center, family or others’ opinions. That being said…. *slips into parental stream of consciousness…*
- There has not, and will not be, any first name usage by our sons except in the need of an emergency or have reached an age where the other party considers them peers. Some may disagree with me, but until they have earned the right to give me or withhold my paycheck, you better give me my honors as Dad or Daddy.
- Conversations beyond a few rebuttals or retorts could end up in me shutting it down the easy way or the hard way. We try to allow the Honorable Sons to express themselves more than we were able to, but you must do it in a respectful manner. Honorable Son #2 is a very precocious, impish son, but he knows by the tone in my voice when to stop. There is no more cute factor after I’ve said no.
- Entitlement at such a young age will breed greater boundary issues later on. Yes, she states that they get the boom on the butt. Well, if that’s the case, why was this video even created? Maybe they’re not getting ENOUGH boom to quell this behavior. Then you end up on the Ellen DeGeneres Show? What is THAT?!?! He gets cupcakes and the parents get $10k??? Oh yeah, THAT sets a nice example for folks.
- Capitalizing off your son’s questionable behavior makes much sense. I mean, it IS the American way. Oh wait, it’s not questionable because we are empowering this generation to question authority and lobby for what is right. *tongue-in-cheek*
- Yes, I am telling you how to raise your child because in all honesty, I want to lessen the possibility of my sons or any other child knocking your child slam the heck out for pitching a hissy fit or thinking they’re entitled to something that’s not theirs. Bad enough we have teachers and administrators whose hands are tied with respect to disciplining kids in school…. oh, but my child is a good child, just that he’ll debate everything that isn’t debatable.
Lord knows I have not been the best father to our sons. They have seen and heard not so great things from me. The one thing that is still required in spite of it all is a modicum of respect, regardless of age. It is instilled at an early age and reinforced at every turn. The cute factor is subjective to many, but if there is any HINT of disrespect involved, it does not become a YouTube video and rewarded with stuff.
I’m off to make some chocolate chip cupcakes for an after-dinner snack.
So Honorable Son #1 is coming along nicely in his recuperation from pityriasis rosea. Skin peeling is part of the healing process. Well yesterday, we decided to gather ourselves and make our way to the mall. Nice weather, good spirits, bills paid, yes… a great combination. Mommy pulls out the Palmers Cocoa Butter and lovingly rubs this boy down from head to toe. I remind him that he should be appreciative of his mother, especially all the love and care she’s given him over the past two weeks. He looks absolutely great! OK. Time to get our clothes on. Honorable Son #1, in his infinite wisdom, tell us that he needs to take a bath.
The pin must have dropped close to the microphone and played through the home theater system.
I quickly hurry the boy upstairs to get washed as I see Mommy coming close to losing her religion. He did not even get a chance to apologize. So now he’s in the tub, Mommy is sitting there a bit exasperated but laughing (which sometimes I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing), The Cosby Show is still playing in the background, and I am at the ready to lather this boy when he’s done. I can’t SAVE this boy every time, man! 🙂
Oh, but let me make this clear. If we do not check on Honorable Son #1 and his oatmeal baths, he will stay in there until he wrinkles up like a raisin. Two nights before, we are watching TV. He was instructed to take a bath. No particular time frame, but we’d expect a reasonable 10-15 minutes. Needless to say, it was odd that he did not come back to say his good nights after his ablution. I head straightway to the bathroom, praying this child did not do something crazy to injure himself. I check through the cracked door… and this child is meditating… in the tub… with his washcloth covering the loins. While I was a bit unnerved that he was in there for well over 30 minutes, I couldn’t help but admire his time to relax and allow himself to breathe a little. Got him out of the bathtub, cocoa buttered down, etc.. He said he felt good. Well heck, who WOULDN’T feel good after almost sleeping in the tub?
Isn’t parenthood just GREAT!?!?!
My dad always fixes barbecued venison whenever folks bring him some. Prior to his retirement, the guys at work clamored over it! Cooking is his passion. Well, he gave me some meat this winter and I decided to take his recommendations, yet put a bit of a twist on it. Try it out and let me know how you like it!
- 5 lbs. venison shoulder (cleaned, vinegar-rinsed and soaked)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
- 3 Tbsp garlic salt
- 3 Tbsp black pepper
- 8 bay leaves
- 4 cups beef or chicken broth
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp onion powder
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp yellow mustard
- Combine marinade ingredients, excluding 4 cups of broth, in Ziploc bag..
- Slightly poke venison with fork or knife and place in the bag. Allow it to marinate overnight, flipping once.
- In slow cooker or roaster, add broth. Once marinated, add meat to slow cooker or roaster and cover. Cook for at least one hour per pound, or until meat is tender. Allow meat to cool before chopping.
- Empty slow cooker or roasting pan, saving some of the onion pieces along with the venison.
- When chopping the venison you want to pull the meat along the muscle, then cut against the grain. You do not want it to be overly finely chopped. Once cut, add it back to your slow cooker or roasting pan.
- Mix barbecue ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly mix the barbecue in with the meat, making sure not to over-saturate. It will slowly simmer, but this should not be the consistency of a Manwich or stew.
- Serve! I like sandwiches or open face, but hey... as long as you eat it all, that's what matters!
- I tend to add Worcestershire sauce during the slow cook.
Barring any freak accidents or situations, I will celebrate 40 years on this Earth in 40 days. Time to reflect, maybe reminisce a little, and be thankful for everything that transpired. I will do my best to focus on the positive aspects of my life, but in all honesty, the good and the bad are the makings of me.
There were three cousins born in 1974. All three of us were born in the birth order of our parents. Phillip, Uncle Elliott’s second son, was born in January. Uncle Elliott is one year older than my Dad. I was born in April. Dedra was born in November to my late Aunt Vivian, Dad’s immediate younger sibling.
I am Ben and Connie Beverley’s oldest child. Not much for me to reminisce on, except pictures of what I looked like and all of the coddling and doting that commenced. Older family members tell me that I had this personality about me. Lots of smiles. Little chocolate baby. Might need to lean on some folks to give a little more anecdotal stories around my first year. *smile*
It was well into the 50s today, so we ventured out to wash the vehicles. Well, Dad ventured out first… then the Honorable Sons were pushed out the nest by Mom. Anyway, I just finished washing the SUV and was wiping it down as they both came out of the garage. Both asked if they could help. OK, see… I suffer from a bit of detailing OCD when it comes to our vehicles, and I know the kids mean well, but NO. I tell them to sit in the car and do not touch anything (i.e. the stereo, automatic shift, PARKING BRAKE). Then, like clockwork, my Dad calls. Instant reminder of what my brother and I used to do whenever we wanted to help. So, I go back to the car. They figuratively turned the inside of my car upside down. *sigh* I walk away to count to ten. Still talking to my dad this whole time. I go in the garage for maybe a minute. I come back outside…. and Honorable Son #2 has taken my hard bristle tire brush and started “cleaning” the car exterior. That’s it. I hang up with Dad and gently admonish Honorable Son #2 not to use a hard brush on the car.
Sooooooo, they man their respective stations. Honorable Son #1 has the hose (because he is a water baby) and Honorable Son #2 has the soft brush with the telescopic handle. Seems like an easy situation now. Honorable Son #2 is steadily brushing/cleaning the ENTIRE car. I was totally shocked. Granted, he did not scrub extremely well, but it was good enough for him! Oh noooooo. Honorable Son #1 has found a slick way to wet up his brother under the guise of “I was washing the soap off after he brushed.” Honorable Son #1 has been relegated to tire duty on the SUV. No one REALLY likes to clean or Armor All tires. So, I pass him the tire shine and he gets to it.
Time for Honorable Son #2 to move aside so I can go back behind him and thoroughly clean the exterior. Of course, he now feels as if he’s being punished for not doing a good job, so I give him another task: Windex the windows in the SUV. This child, by the grace of God, isn’t blind from having SPRAYED himself in the face with the Windex. Soooooo…. Honorable Son #1 is working on the tires, I am spraying the windows for Honorable Son #2 to wipe them down, and I am re-cleaning my car. Everyone is working hard and we get it done!
It was pretty cool to have both of our Honorable Sons out there helping dear old Dad clean the vehicles. Both of them are learning the basics. While I may have to go back after them, that’s all a part of fatherhood. My Dad had to go (and still goes) behind me if I miss a spot. It’s not a point of trying to show your sons up, rather showing that even in the midst of a mess, as long as you have given best effort, Dad doesn’t mind helping you clean up the rest. Hope the boys really take to helping me wash the cars because after they’ve mastered that…. ON TO CLAY BAR and WAXING! Um… nah. Leave that to me.
So, we went to see The Lego Movie Friday afternoon. We would have seen it earlier, but we had to thaw out from our last snow. The Honorable Sons were absolutely glued to the screen… and so were the parents! The entire movie was awesome. Loved spending time with the family, and it made me reminisce a little.
I remember having LEGOs growing up and how much stuff my brother and I built. We could easily blow an entire day building all types of stuff. The dexterity and motor skills we developed from those small pieces was great. Probably helped when it came to having to repair computers and such. Nothing like having to move a jumper without tweezers. What we did not have growing up were the ever-growing web applications these kids have today! I am in awe of how many building apps are cropping up!
Honorable Son #1 started off with Mega Bloks, then transitioned to Lincoln Logs, regular LEGOs and Super Mario Brothers K’nex. What happened next threw us for a bit of a loop. The kids at his afterschool program were spending an inordinate amount of time discussing Minecraft. Now, this was around the time when Honorable Son #1 was just getting to understand computers, so next thing you know, we are installing Minecraft on computers, iPads, iPhones, Xbox360, ANYTHING it could run on. It became an OBSESSION. Initially, we did not understand until we saw some of the intricate things this kid was building. His spatial sense is off the charts! He could build an entire house, with working doors, laminate floors, etc., in maybe 15 minutes. Scary, but I could see the potential in him having an eye for design and architecture.
One Sunday aftrernoon, Honorable Son asks if we can install Roblox on his computer. I took a little time to understand what this Roblox was, took a chance on installing it, and boom… he’s building schools and characters. Unfortunately, his computer was not fast enough to handle the graphic content, so he lost interest…. UNTIL he got a new computer. 🙂 Now, he logs in, does a quick build, and moves on to the NEXT thing…. Scribblenauts. I saw Scribblenauts for the first time around September… and I am HOOKED myself!!! So many different ways to build characters and also storylines. The sheer creativity involved in it is astounding. I can see how Honorable Son #1 is so hooked on it. Honorable Son #2, by virtue of his pioneering older brother, has been bitten by the same builder bug… and I could not be more proud. The ability to create whatever they want and use their imagination and the world around them as inspiration is so fulfilling! It also does my heart good to see them both sharing ideas and working together. Siblings should have those experiences and cherish them.
As soon as we purchase the next house, I guarantee that my brother and I will embark on some crazy adventures to build some extension on to the house or some shed in the backyard… or maybe we might just chill and watch the boys do their thing. Maybe they will be the next Frank Lloyd Wright, Vertner Woodson Tandy, or I.M. Pei. All I know is I’m so thankful for the all of those construction toy sets that we had and how it helped stretch our minds.