A fun-filled birthday celebration at Grille 29 honoring my bonus sister Theresa was already on level 10 before the exceptionally friendly server came out to announce the night’s features. Before even arriving at the restaurant I’d decided I was ordering the small grilled chicken Caesar salad, their addictive sweet tea with water on the side, and a warm sour cream cake to share so I wasn’t listening to what he was saying until he said gumbo. I’d experienced their gumbo before and quickly blurted out, “Oh, is this the chef’s special four meat gumbo?” To which he replied, “Nawwww, girl. This is his SPECIAL duck and bacon gumbo!” What the duck?!?!? Duck and bacon in gumbo? Duck and bacon in gumbo that I can actually eat because I didn’t run the shellfish “make my face swell” risk? Oh my goodness. I was immediately transported to a Donald and Porky wonderland in my mind and salivating mouth.
I ordered the gumbo. As the teens of today say, “It gave me life”! Well, not literally, but the meat, sweet, and tender pieces of fowl mixed perfectly as the clear starring feature along with the pork was everything I could have imagined if I had the culinary courage to imagine duck and bacon together in a bowl with plump rice, strongly-flavored stock and all the Cajun accompaniments required to call a stew in a bowl an actual gumbo.
That dish, worth every bite, caused me to completely change my order from salad to braised short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes and sweetly sautéed green beans. (Don’t ask me why because I have no answer.) Others ate ginormous barbecue shrimp, perfectly prepared calamari with hidden treats of fried red peppers nestled among the squid, a delightfully fancy cured meat and cheese board, and lobster quesadillas as appetizers which we all sampled.
The entrees ranged from more quesadillas, their famous Salad 29, Scottish salmon brulee’ with a caramelized onion almost as good as the seafood, more short ribs and other tasty treats.
Regardless of what we eventually ate the clear star of the show was the duck and bacon gumbo, of which I had to reluctantly share with my sister who ate it off of a saucer with a fork and of which made us all break out into random acts of celebration include hands swinging in the air, hips wiggling in the seat, lip smacking and across-the-table high fiving. It was THAT good!
The catchy tune to one of my girl Whitney Houston’s song has been setting up shop in my mind this morning. I’m an early riser, so waking up to the lyrics “It’s not right, but it’s okay. I’m gonna make it anyway” at 4am in the morning signals to me more than just a song.
Ms. Houston sang (and strutted in her video) about an unfaithful lover that supposedly went out to eat with his boys on Friday night, came home around three with a receipt for two. (I just love it!) Her declaration to him, “It’s not right, but it’s okay. I’m gonna make it anyway.” Now, some other sneaky scenarios and wise words by Whitney followed, but this isn’t a “he or she did me wrong” post so I’ll proceed. This post is about any area of life, where we know it’s not right and what we have the power to do about…
Another Father’s Day weekend is approaching and, as usual, my family and I are scurrying to try to tie up plans to celebrate the special dads in our lives. Not that the scurrying is in a last minute kind of manner, but year-after-year it becomes increasingly more difficult to buy things for the men who have everything or don’t require much, or come up with plans for the people are who simply and truly content with their family being around somewhere within a 500 yard radius as they lounge in a chair with a cold beverage and remote in hand. We ask repeatedly and early what gifts might bring my Daddy joy. The answer is always the same, “Don’t get me anything. I just want my family happy.” He means that as proof of all of the tags in his closet from gifts given long ago. I must also be following the expectation that most women end up with men like their fathers because even my beau gives the standard “drive me crazy” answer of, “You don’t have to get me anything special. I’m happy with whatever.” So this year the Father’s Day theme is an new-fangled fish fry. And by new fangled I mean someone is going to pick it up a whole bunch of all-ready prepared seafood from a restaurant and grocery store and we’re going to celebrate the amazing men in our lives young and older, from near and far with hopes of staying awake long enough to watch the NBA finals, of course, with cold beverages and a remote in one of the fathers hands.
Fathers matter so much. I think they’ve gotten a tremendously bad rap in society because of a few bruised apples. Some may not be present by choice or circumstance. Some might have made mistakes. Some might have had difficulty giving what they’ve never received. Some might have sorely disappointed. Some, may be ideal for the families with which they’ve been blessed, but no father…just like no mother… is perfect. And still, they matter so much. Their voices matter. Their presence matters. Their ability to show us how to overcome and keep going matters. Their hugs and embrace matter. Their prayers and public display of spiritual covering matters. Their life’s stories matter. Their hard work and display of integrity matters. The bass in their voice matters. The sternness in their foreheads matters. Their role of authority matters. Their insight matters. Their experiences matter. Their ability to lead, guide, direct and protect matters. Even their mistakes matter as a clear signal of what not to do or what to do better.
With the Father’s Day “faux” Fish Fry menu in tack I realized this year, probably more than most, I’m just grateful for my Daddy and fathers in general. I truly, truly am. My dad, like most of the men in my life including my brother, my uncles, and my beau have had quite a tough year. My once strong, tall, towering, business-minded, bill-writing, chauffeuring Daddy has been battling unexpected health challenges which literally knocked him off of his feet in February. He still has a road ahead of him for total recovery and healing, but has come so far. Within the blink of an eye, a lot of his primary roles in our lives have shifted or ceased as we all collectively focus on him…for once. Isn’t that the baffling beauty of life? The man who asks for nothing now requires much. It’s an honor to be able to give it to him…with a cold beverage and remote in his hand.
WE Community Café located within Urban Ministry at 1229 Cotton Avenue SW has been opened since March 9th. The place, in my totally biased opinion, is a little piece of Heaven right in Birmingham’s West End where on any given Wednesday between 11am and 2pm you can see people from every walk of life coming together to break bread in peace, unity and love.
The chatter-ridden space is inviting as it welcomes those from varying socio-economic status, zip codes, backgrounds, educational opportunities and lifestyles. The former soup kitchen of more than 30 years now turned into a social enterprise “pay-as-you-can” café with the recommended donation of $5 ushers diners further in to the bustling food line just beside beautiful dark brown wood tables and shiny new chairs, while sweet R&B and inspirational tunes bellow out of the speakers. (Note, if you can’t pay, no worries. It’s already handled on your behalf. That’s the beauty of WE Community Café.) The amazingly friendly and knowledgeable staff of seasoned chefs and western-area young adults participating in Urban Ministry’s paid, intensive internship program continue to set the atmosphere for what is sure to be a dining experience to remember and want to repeat. But it’s the food that ties it all together as an unspoken unifier of the masses weekly offering perfection on the plate for just about every palate preference. Want southern cuisine and food which speaks to the soul? On any given Wednesday they will have it. Want a great hangout for your friends and you to gush, pose and take pictures of food which is picture worthy? On any given Wednesday they will have it. Want fresh produce? On any given Wednesday they will have it right from their very own mind-blowing garden. Want vegan and vegetarian options? On any given Wednesday they will have it. Want flavor-filled international-themed and regional dishes? On any given Wednesday they will have it. Want clean, organic foods? On any given Wednesday they will have it. Want aromatic teas that will make you stand in line more times that you’d be proud to admit? On any given Wednesday they will have it…and so much more. You should pay them a visit! And look for me. I’ll be one of the ones with a HUGE satisfied smile on my face:)
I had an opportunity to fill in for someone taking photographs at a major event. It was fun, and a great way for me to further explore my passion for pictures. Not one to shy away from the camera myself, I noticed that during my time of taking as many as 160 usable shots only one person offered to shoot a picture of me. As someone who likes taking pictures I also like to be taken. Not being shot honestly didn’t fare too well and left me feeling “some type of way” as the urban teens of America say. Later that day while editing my pictures I realized how much I missed being able to see myself in the midst of the hundreds who had gathered to support the important cause that brought us all together.
That made me think. How often do we extend the luxury, care, concern or simple favor…
I say this with all sincerity and no sarcasm. Thank you for leaving.
Thank you for doing for me what I obviously couldn’t or wouldn’t do for myself. Thank you for being used as a mighty instrument of God to escort me to my new/now/next. Thank you for helping grow me in areas I didn’t know I was malnourished. Thank you for recognizing that either your role in my life had ended or my role in yours was expired. Thank you for playing a part in making me strong in areas which were weak. Thank you for causing me to upgrade my prayer life and my faith walk. Thank you for showing me places I needed help and in a hurry. Thank you for being a reflection of patterns, poor choices, ignored signs and mistakes which all belonged to no one but me, regardless of what all happened. Thank you for leaving your space at the table for those who belonged and were bringing something with them. Thank you for causing me to elevate my forgiveness, grace and mercy. Thank you for teaching me how to love and let go. Thank you for showing me I could shut my mouth. Thank you for being the catalyst for the amazing associations and for real friendships which soared after ours sufficated. Thank you for clearing the path for others to step up when you decided to step away.
While your leaving didn’t make a hill of beans of sense, I’m glad it didn’t because if I could have figured it out I would have tried to fix it. While your leaving may have scared the hebedegebees out of me I’m glad it did because I was comforted, strengthed and encouraged in ways which rival the best of Biblical stories. While your leaving might have caused the wind to be knocked slap out of me I’m glad because I was able to experience Jesus’ sweet wind beneath my flailing wings carrying me to heights not before seen. And while tears might have been my initial response to your departure my lingering after affect was/is laughter…that gut-wrenching, eye-squenching, head-hurting, side-splitting, cheek-aching kind of laughter void of a single ounce of tea or any smidgen of shade, and filled with THANK YOU JESUS…thank you leavers.
So in all the languages known to man, or to me…Thank you for leaving. I sincerely wish you all well and appreciate your roles in my journey whether we again cross paths or not.
A funny phone call with one of my best angels on earth tickled me as we both shared how, sometimes in life, the first internal response to the trials of life is one that, well, how shall I say this, might shock the world or at least those in our worlds. Gasp…I know!
I’ve been a Christian a long, long time. I’ve not always acted as such. Sometimes I still don’t. I’ve tried really hard to allow the word of God to control the outward display of my emotions according to scripture because I recognize that His word works, I know people are watching me as an example of Jesus, and I accept that actions in any other way cost more than I’m willing to pay. Just being honest though, there are still times which test my attempt to have God pleased with my on the spot reactions. As my dear Baltimore bestie said, “We’re human, girl. I just had to tell somebody. Don’t let who you see fool you. This is not how I always was and sometimes it’s not how I want to be, but I will be because it’s the right thing to do.”
I so get that it would appear to be much easier to just let it RIPPPPPPPPPPPPPP from time to time. Oh how freeing it must feel to give somebody a piece of my mind (as if I have any to spare), or take to social media to slay (and I don’t mean in a good, fashion/make-up/model kind of way) or dispatch some of the cast of my crazies to avenge those things which I feel are not right. Don’t think I’ve never flirted with those thoughts because I have, and young girl Angela actually executed a few of them before she knew better or acted like she knew better when she knew she already knew better. Bless her heart.
With everything He’s placed within me I strive to go to God and allow Him to take me all the way on this journey called life. With that said, responding the way I know He wants me to is not always the first thought which immediately, as that shock, offense, disappointment, anger or hurt happens, comes to mind. Sometimes I have to scrape and search, reread and replay, wrestle and wrangle just to hurriedly find and use scriptures, inspiring messages, past testimonies, words of wisdom, lessons learned and anything else I can to respond as He would have me. While WWJD may not always initially flow first from my heart to my mind it makes its way there by the sweet grace of God. Better than any game show or big gamble Jesus is my final answer and HE has paid off for me.
Singles (and by singles I mean not married, even if you have a boo or a bae, with the same last name you’ve always had, with the same last name you used to have and now have again, filing single on taxes and checking the box which says Miss, Ms. or Divorced )…
Here’s a little secret. You can do it…yourself. While scrolling through my new best friend Pinterest I came across a clever post. Of course I can’t find it now, but it read, “Stop expecting others to do for you what you won’t even do for yourself.”
It’s as simple as that. The time for waiting on life to start is over. Newsflash, life is well on its way to being exactly who its meant to be for you! The mindset of, “I’ll do this when I have someone to do it with” is debilitating. The notion that life alone or in the company of friends, pales in comparison to the married life is a myth. I can tell you a thing or two about both. The thought of “I have no one so I can’t do whatever it is I really want to do” is cuckoo. Pardon my harsh language.
In the words of my daddy when I would pout as a teenager about wanting to do what everyone else was doing, “You were born by yourself. You’re going to die by yourself so stop always talking about what other people are doing.” The same is so in the land of singlehood. We can’t wait on others, compare ourselves with others or complain about others. We simply have to do it. So go ahead and do those things you want to, can afford to, have time, and deserve to do.
Go to a movie alone or with friends
Eat at that five-star restaurant
Plan an amazing trip out of town
Plan an even more amazing trip out of the country
Invest in that rental property
Make financial investments
Get a massage
Join a gym and go at it solo if need be
Start a business
Write a will (I know that’s grim, but hey, singles have stuff to leave behind too.)
Buy a house
Paint your house
Learn how to garden or repair a car or cook
Remodel your bathroom…unless you have zero remodeling skills as I do
Or do like I did and buy those close up concert tickets to see Diddy and the crew… #cantstop #wontstop #badboyforlife
Whatever you do, singles, just make sure to take time to do it for yourself. You deserve it! Of this, I’m sure.