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Archive for November, 2007

HOLIDAY SHOPPING! DO YOU WANT REAL BLING BLING OR THE FAKE DING DING?!!! I CAN TELL YOU WHERE TO GET THE DING! DING!

foliage.jpg December 27 2007 update____I was able to purchase housecoats, and silky rayon nigthies for 3.99 a piece! 

 I got all of this for $67.00! 


I even purchased 5 SETS OF Queen Size Sheet sets on Jamaica Avenue in a HouseWares store next to Modells for $3.99 also! 

 Hurry up and get there.  All different styles and colors.  My mother loved hers!  It was used on the full size bed. 

 I always buy a size up to make up for any type of shrinage! 

 The colors are clear and the designs are crisp! 

 I got my son some great thermal design shirts for $10.00 in Modells too!

  I really saved loads of money on Jamacia Avenue for this holiday Shopping.

  I really buy things that the family needs…never the pricey jewelry!  The house wares also had  3 large bath towels for $10.00.

   I brought five sets of sheets and I am going back for more!!! 

AT  $3.99 how can you go wrong?  I am so excited….I love Valley Stream….but you will never get prices that cheap on houseware items….I know….I am a window shopper for life!  

 Till next up date!  RIVEROFLIFELISAJOY!

I was on Jamaica Avenue the other day( I usually go to Green Acres Mall) but I had some business to take care of regarding my utility bill.  But as I was walking I noticed alot of things on sale that were very cheep. 

 Skirts,  dresses,  jeans,  sweaters,  pajamas,  table  clothes,  housewares,  and suitcases galore!  I love the flea market,  but suddenly Jamaica Avenue was starting to look quite appealing! 

I have various reasons why I did not shop Jamaica Avenue but to be honest,  the area has turned over a new leaf!  It has government buildings,  city buildings,  the Long Island Rail Road,  the Kennedy Airport Tram and a whole host of stores from furniture, baby needs,  and concept stores too. 

 Of course the well known slightly larger than a boutique stores like the “Avenue” for large women,  and a food court for food lovers hides down a quiet side street around the corner for White Castles.  My new Hair Dresser is down a quiet street off of Jamaica Avenue also. 

But my purpose of this rit–is to discuss the “jewlery stores.”  I did see a ZALES Jewlery Store on Jamaica Avenue!  I was shocked! 

 Look,  I do not buy jewlery, because I have never had the desire to spend my rent,  utility bill,  car insurance payment,  or grocery money on a tennis braclet, or even a gold plated  14K gold necklace.

  I believe that such purchases are for those who have it ALL!!  Don’t get me wrong,  I know you can put things on “layaway”–  but for me….something always comes up that interferes with my making payments on that layaway and then I get the phone call or letter that informs me that I am about to lose that $100.00 that I put down on that item.

  Two times that happened to me in Green Acres Mall with  jewlery store.  All I wanted was a GOOD watch….an adult watch for a lady,  for a church going lady,  for a mommy who works hard to care for her family, blah, blah,  blah,—of  course I had to talk myself into this investment—because I always feel guilty if I buy something for myself! 

  –So, anyway,  I purchased this Citizen watch for only $120.00! (It was on sale from $170.00) That was a lot of money for my limited funds.

  But I had convinced myself that I deserved it.  So I put down my deposit and then I fell behind on the payments because of  family and home economic problems. 

 I finally picked up my watch with the positive inspirational statements from the sales clerk, on how pretty it looked on my rather chubby brown arm!  I admired it and stared at it so hard,  ( because no one ever purchased any expensive watch or jewlery for me in my entire life!) 

 I thought that I had finally grown up at my early years of 42!  How sad,  isn’t it? —I  wore my watch with pride at work

  I received the usual compliments and then one day, getting   into my car I noticed that my little friend was missing from its perch on my chubby brown wrist.

  It was fall weather and I had not raked the leaves infront of my house. 

 I kicked, and kicked until the yard looked worse then ever!  I was so very lazy about raking leaves! 

 My son came out of the house and must have thought I was reliving my childhood!  I was swinging my arms and kicking the leaves frantically! 

  I almost fell on the ground because of this non sense!  I grew exhausted from my wasted efforts. 

 I could not find my watch….my beautiful,  gold tone, link watch!  I did notice that the clasp had become loose.  But it was not that severe to me. 

However,  after that final day with my friend,  my dearly departed grown up lady, church going lady,  hard working mommy Citizen Watch,  almost seven years ago….I have not laid another deposit on any jewlery! 

 So I chose to purchase cheap $10.00 funny looking watches that I don’t even take a second glance at once they are on my cubby brown arm!  Just tell me that time is all I care about. 

 No more attempts at Bling Blining it!  So if you want to Ding,  Dinging it with me….go to Jamaica Avenue….there are plenty of shops that offer such items that are not pricey and  will not break your heart if they have an untimely departure from your neck,  wrist, finger, or ankle! 

And for those who can afford the pricey….go to that Zales! 

I also found a great Army color design sweat suit for my son!  It only cost $15.00!  It was great!  My son is tall but skinny! 

 He is athletic in build so he can wear anything!  I found those “mink” blankets for the bed—also those beautiful over the top bed spreads with matching bed skirt, the whole shabang for $25.00 to $30.00. 

 There were “heavy comforters”  for sale for $14.00  in the various stores ( one in particular called ALEXIS) as I walked down Jamaica Avenue! 

I thought to myself  that if I had atleast two to three hundred dollars I could purchase several good gifts for my family and a few friends! 

So I got so excited.  I can’t wait to get back to that street.  I will park car and stop being so lazy to walk.  I will pick up the not so Macy’s,  not so JCPenny,  not so Marshalls items and give my little family something to unwrap under the Christmas Tree.

  I do not have a credit card ….so I cannot afford the big name stores!  I only can buy cash!  I love Macy’s women’s department! 

But do you know that women who wear a size 22 or above cannot buy a coat in Macys for less than $200.00?  I saw a FAKE….FAKE….Lamb Skin Coat for $400.00!!! 

What did they put in that thing?  Did they sew it with Gold thread?  It is fake lamb skin!  Who is wearing size 22 and can afford a $400.00 coat? 

 What makes it worse is that the stupid coat will never be at a price I can afford.  Even if they lower it to $200.00 —I have a car insurance that is $218.00 every month!

 I already told you that I feel guilty to purchase anything pricey for myself.  I will spend good money in Marshalls for my son….but for myself,  unless I am going out to perform (which I will be  singing next week,  to start off this holiday season)  I do not buy beautiful clothes for myself.

  I buy for my son first and myself last!  I feel joy when I see the happy look on my child’s face when I give him something that he truly wanted or enjoyed for Christmas! 

So if you do not have alot of money,  but want to give nice gifts that look good too….try Jamaica Avenue in Queens New York!  Oh, and there is a movie theatre there too.  The buses, and trains are all central to that location. 

Happy Holidays,  and Good Bargin Hunting!!!  And look,  it is the thought that counts!  So pick up some Ding,  Ding if you cannot afford the expensive stores like Macys and JCPenny! 

 Just  get good boxes,  good wrapping paper and pretty bows!  —Okay,  Okay,  for those of you that must have the Bling,  Bling,  run to T.J. Maxx,  Marshalls,  and Fashions for Less in Valley Stream.  Also check those stores for the good clearance items. 

 You might be surpised at what you find!  You might like the sales. 

Another good gift giving  item I like is the fruit baskets!  I used to make them myself.  I liked do that in my mothers old neighborhood! 

 Certain elderly neighbors who were not family,  just community friends for years—I would make up a basket of brownies, and cupcakes, and fruit!  They would love it!  I remember  an elederly lady named Granny that used to babysit me for years. 

I would go to the house with my son when he was six or seven and have him learn the value of “giving to the less fortunate and the lonely during the holidays!  Granny looked forward to my little holiday baskets. 

 I enjoyed the look of happiness on her face, and the look of quiet shock and affection on my sons little face when Granny would reach down and give him a kiss on his forehead and “thank  him” for giving her such a lovely gift for Christmas. 

 She would then invite us inside and we would sit and talk while my son would play with her grandchildren.

  The holidays can be beautiful if you keep the real meaning for the season in your gift giving!  I will write more if I find more bargins!

riveroflifelisajoy!

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What EVER CAN GO WRONG–WHEN YOU LIVE PAY CHECK TO PAY CHECK—WILL GO WRONG! TAKE UP PAINTING AND KEEP COPING THROUGH IT ALL–IT REALLY WORKS!!!

Flower of HungerFRUSTRATION.jpg2nd-art-work.jpgSunflower.jpgHUNGER AND DOUBT.jpgLIFE STARTS HERE.jpgfoliage.jpgchinese-ink.jpg  

#1 Flower of Hunger**** by Riveroflifelisajoy

#2 Frustration**** by Riverof lifelisajoy

#3 Chinese Ink and Water Color****by Riveroflifelisajoy

#4  Sun Flower ****by Riveroflifelisajoy

#5 Hunger and Doubt ****by Riveroflifelisajoy

#6 Foliage**** by Riveroflifelisajoy

#7  Chinese Ink and Red water color**** by Riverof lifelisajoy

 I really thought I would have been going to the Poconos,  or atleast SPLISH SPLASH this summer of 2007!  But instead I was stuck at home after work everyday,  and during my vacation. 

It was all based on a series of events that emptied my pocketbook after each pay period from May 23 2007 through September 2007.  It all began with my son’s senior trip from his private Lutheran School. 

 He had attended that school since kindergarten and now was graduating at the age of 14.  The school has nine grades.  It is called Grace Lutheran of Queens Village.  It is an excellent school for academics, and mentoring boys and girls. 

 I will always love and honor that school for its care and concern for my son.  However,  my problems began because of my son’s health.  He had experienced some episodic conditions that would need emergency care if and when they occurred. 

 It was because of this problem that I found myself attending a two day trip to  Washington D.C..  The trip was great!  We went to Beni Hannas Japanese Grill, the Spy Museum,  we observed the Washington Monument from a distance (due to terrorism alert as per our tour guide),  we went inside the Capital Building where all of the congress meets, Lincoln Memorial,  and the Arlington Cemetary and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

 We walked underground from one building in the capital to another.  I,  of course,  got lost during that activity.  You know, the cell phone died;  I had to ask around and then I and another parent eventually found the bus.

  I, a chaprone, had gotten lost because I always,  always have to use the restroom at the worse time!  So with all of this stated.   I had spent my entire 2nd paycheck of May on this trip!  I had planned to take my  mother with me. 

 I was going to follow the bus route, but my car had begun a serious oil leak and I had to leave the car behind.  My mother cannot climb those steep steps to into the coach bus. 

 So I had to make accomodations for someone to look in on my mom.  The problem was that my son’s school, knowing his medical history and condition was afraid for him to attend that two day trip without me being present.  If he were to get sick on the trip they were concerned about his safety and their liability! 

 All that was well understood by me.  The problem  was that it was not explained to me until May 2007!  My son had already paid for his ticket back in September,  for the $300.00 ticket!  The hotel was the Marriot!  4 Star accomodations!  Great….!  But not great for me who only makes $500.00 every two weeks!

  So at the last moment I could not pay any bills,  I was instead going on a trip!  I love trips….but not Trips on a Shoe String!  I like to decorate on a shoe string …but not go out of state on a trip/vacation on a shoestring.  I literally only had $20.00 between my son and myself for the entire trip! 

Thank God for two male parents who brought lunch on the second day for my son and myself!  My son,  however,  did become ill on the second day to my dismay.  I was in shock!  We were at the Smithsonian Museum (which is a definite place to visit when you get the chance) and my son was throwing up and falling asleep just about everywhere we toured that day. 

 He had a temperature,  and he was having asthma conditions that he was not telling me about at the time.  (He hates doctors and hospitals!)  He just kept asking when are we going home?  I want to go home.

  Finally the bus made it home from Washington D.C. and my son and I made a B-line to North Shore Manhasset Hospital.  NorthShore Manhasset Hospital has  the best pediatric emergency room –especially for asthma, and seziure disorders.  They also have a cable t.v. in each little cubicle –and if you stay unfortunately they even bring video games to their pediatric guests!! 

My son loves that hospital—once he has to go there for medical emergencies.  The doctors are quite thorough too! But my problem was that when I returned from that trip I had zero dollars to my name. 

 The next problem was that my son was graduating and I had to pay the school $2500.00 to complete his fees for graduation and school price for the year end. 

 My son needed a tux for his prom,  and shoes (size 11 1/2), shirt,  pants, tie,  cap and gown for graduation  and his hair done (he gets his braided–I’ll write about that in another blog).

  All of this shot a hole the size of Atlantic Ocean in my pocket book.  Remember I am a single parent,  caregiver to my mom,  and I do not receive childsupport due to the castastrophic disease of my (((missing for nearly 10 years–husband)))—so for me on a $500.00 bi-weekly pay check,  and $1600.00 per month rent,  ((and I pay gas bill, and the electric bill)) —I actually live pay check to pay check. 

 It was a very happy,  sad,  bittersweet time for my son and  my mother and I.

  I could have enjoyed it more it I had enough money to cover my son’s trip to Washington,  pay his school fees,  and buy all of the needed items so that he could enjoy his final days before graduation, and graduation itself! 

 I could not and did not even buy him a “real” graduation present.  Matter of fact…I did not even buy him a birthday gift.  I could not afford it this year!  I felt so bad.  I had waited for my taxes to come in so I could bring his school fees up to date. 

 The next problem after graduation was completed was  my car.  My car was due for inspection in June 30, 2007.  It had a very bad  oil leak–I own a 97 Toyota Camry.  It leaked so bad that I was putting two quarts of oil each time I went to work,  and every night when I returned home from work.

  Pep Boys in Hempstead LongIsland refused to inspect it until I paid them $658.00 for the repair of the oil leak.  I had to leave my car in Pep Boys for an entire month!  I had to pay my utilities,  and I had to pay my $1600.00 rent,  $500. 00  car insurance also had to be renewed. 

I truly do not know how I made it through those months and kept food on the table.  The telephone was cut off several times.

It was a hot,  hot,  mess from June,  July,  August!  I was on pins and needles.

  So I decided to start painting!  I could not go anywhere because I had no car for the whole month of July until I saved up enough money to pay Pep Boys; who was holding my car hostage! 

 So I metrocarded it to work everyday!  That was rough.  I had to walk ten blocks to the closest bus stop every day. 

 When I began painting I was disgusted.  I thought,  as I began to paint– that I had brought that paint set for my son. 

It had a real artist easel,  oil,  acrylics,  and water color paints.  I would come home after my long walk and talk about my day at work;   and talk about my car being held hostage; and wondering if Pep Boys would try to sell it or something. 

 I would feel butterflies in my stomach when I thought about my car.  So I put all of that nervous energy to work on a canvas by painting instead. 

Soon I began to like to paint.  Then I tried to get my son to paint.  My son was the real victim of this summer’s no money blues!  But he began to write songs on the piano!

  So for the summer he discovered his talent in music,  and I did like an old chicken….I scratched on the canvas with a brush and some paints.  I will attempt to upload some of my pictures so you can see what I did. *******************

   I have twenty that I actually did.  The first green themed picture  is called Foliage.  I experimented with the arcrylic.  I dabbed,  and  drew “leaves”,  and just imagined some of the parks I have been to in the summer.  I love it when it is hot outside and the plants seem to drink in the summer sun,  just after 10:00 am and it is a cloudless sky—-thus the title Foliage! 

The second picture  was one in which I had purchased some Chinese Ink from my son’s Scholastic Book Fair at school and it was supposed to be used for drawing the Chinese letters.  So I decided to combine the water color of red and I believe I also used a acrylic red for the dabbled spots on the picture.

I hope this may inspire some of you to take your frustrations out on a canvas.  To be honest with you I actually used typing paper,  because I only had one actual canvas.  On that canvas I drew a mermaid surrounded by sea creatures.  That one was my favorite to draw with colored pencils.  I love the deep ocean animals,  shark,  whale,  Octopus, Squid,  Jelly fish,  amemone,  coral reefs! 

I am a water person by nature.  I love swimming and I love the smell of the ocean.  It just can’t help it.  My mother always took me to Far Rockaway as a child,  and Jones Beach.  I will write about my love of the sea, and beach in another blog.  Just thinking about it makes me feel calm,  relaxed and serene!

I’ll write again soon!  riveroflifelisajoy!

Who Will Save the Witch Children This Christmas? Where are the Celebrities: “Anjolina and Brad” and “Madonna” to the Rescue?! Please Speak Out on this HORROR!

HUNGER AND DOUBT.jpgI read an article in the New York Times early this morning a 4:00 A.M. by journalist,  Sharon La Franiere that changed the tone of my holiday post ThanksGiving –Pre Christmas and  Chanuka Spirit of joy to —deep sadness, horror and disgust.  http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2007/11/14/

world/1114-WITCHES_2.html

The above is the place in which to find this excellent yet terrrible depiction and detail of  multiple stories of WITCH HUNTING of children IN AFRICA!!

There are efforts being made to stop this terrible practice,  but it  seems to me that it needs more people to get involved. 

 The alleged country in Africa in which this practice of  severe child neglect,  abuse, and killing is called Angola, according to La Franiere.  The following are some excerpts in quotations of the article  called African Cruicible, Cast as Witches, Then Cast Out,  by  Sharon La Franiere ( 11/15/07 published date)   that I found the most heart gripping:

According  La Franiere  a young boy named,   “Armando Dos Santos was forced to leave his family after being accused of  witchcraft.” (p.1)  As stated by La Franiere, “In Angola it is socially unacceptable to push a child out because of poverty,  but not if they are possessed.”(p. 1) 

 As  I read this I began to wonder,  what will be the fate of this child?  Who will save him?  There are organizations that are stepping up,  but how many children will be lost? According to La Franiere  another description is, “Domingos Pedro accused by his family of being a witch and of causing his father’s death.  His mother Maria worries about attacks by his relatives, so Domingo lives in a shelter.”(p.1) 

 I continued to read in disbelief.  I kept thinking of Oprah Winfrey and what she is attempting to do in South Africa,  and I just felt a sense of overwhelming fear and anxiety for children who could have been my son,  or my brother! 

   I scanned through the pictures of these lost children and I saw a little boy at age 6!  He looked like my son at age 6!  Although my son did not always behave at that age….(what child does?) I could not conceive of even thinking of him as remotely possessed! 

   However,  La Franiere explains,that “the relatives are tossing the children out due to poverty!”(p.1)  How do we as a nation stand by and do nothing?  I know our hands are tied into so many world/global efforts from Iraq,  to Israel with very important peace keeping missions at stake! 

 It is important that America, maintain peace keeping efforts in all the world.  But what about the children who are truly the victims of hunger,  poverty, and now “cast out as witches.” (p.1) What to do?  What to do?

I truly felt a tug at my heart,  and my throat tightened and my eyes welledup as I read the following caption on the picture of Alfonso Garcia, as explained by La Franiere,” African Crucible, Cast as Witches, Then Cast Out- “Alfonso Garcia, 6, came to the shelter in July after his  family paid $20,000 Angolan Kwanzas almost $300.00 to cure him of witch craft.  His family still rejected him saying that he was not cured.”(P.1) 

   I had begun to believe that this  issue was purely about poverty.  But as I continued to read I was shocked to find out that some of the people really think that these children are POSSESSED!!!!  

  La Franiere continued to explain that, “a child accused of witch craft was stabbed to death in 2000, provincial officials and Save the Children the global charitable organizations,  rounded up 432 street children and reunited  380 of them with relatives.” (p.2) 

What makes me feel worse is that I feel powerless to do anything about it except to write about it.  I hurts so deeply to think of children not given a chance at education,  food,  shelter,  or love! 

What will these children turn into if they are not saved before they become adults?  If they survive will there be a place for them to go without education, or training?  La Franiere,  further explains, “Thirty-two boys occupy bunk beds stacked a foot apart,  their few clothes stashed in cardboard boxes underneath .  No shelter exists for girls.(p.2) 

 Where are the girls  I wondered.  I dared not allow myself to think too deeply into that. 

 I just wanted to interest people into reading this article.  There is so much more to it.  La Franiere  clarified, ” In Uige Provenice has a shelter run by the St. Josephs  Catholic Church.”(p.2)

Please take the time to read this article by Sharon La Franiere called, “African Crucible, Cast as Witches Then Cast Out,” in the New York Times, published 11/15/07.

 I hope the United Nations,  and Peace Corp.,  Red Cross,  Doctors without Borders,  and other Child Rights Agencies across the globe come forward and build  a massive public awareness effort and help to re-educate the adults that hold the delicate lives and futures of these Angolan children in the palms of their hands. 

I hope that celebrities who have seen the pain and suffering and have attempted to do something will again use their public influence in ways that will help save the future of this abused children.

 ” Angolina and Brad” have given so much of themselves to the efforts of saving children. 

“Madonna” has taken a child in an effort to save and recreate a bright future for him.  I hope other celebrities make an effort as well.  Once again please read that article and then think about the future of children on the global level.

FOND MEMORIES OF MY FATHER DURING THE HOLIDAYS AND BEYOND!

LIFE STARTS HERE.jpgToo often it has been stated that black men are not there for their children,  or men in general are slacking off from their responsibilities.  I have a different perspective.

 My father was a WWII African American Veteran.  He was on the front lines of  that war,  from the way he described it to me when I was a kid. 

I used to love to listen to  him tell stories about work,  or some about the Army Reserve. 

My father had been given a waiver and also given a license to practice as a Practical Nurse when he came out of the service of the United States Army.

  He  became an Army Reservist.  He was a Sgt.  in the Army Reserve. When I was a child he would take me to the Army off of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.  I used to love it there during the Christmas  Holiday!  That place was so gigantic to a small child. 

I would run and play amongst the army tanks, and jeeps!  I loved the smell of the gasoline, and heavy metal vehicals.  That was my second home when my father would take me there for parties, to get my gift from “Santa.”!  

  Upstairs in the rooms where the party with Santa was held, there were so many rooms.  The other children and I would sneak from “secret room to secret room” until our parents would call us to come sit on Santa’s lap!  My father would always know everybody there. 

 When I think back,  I did not know what “racism” was until I got into my teens.  My father was friendly with every army reservist there!  There was laughter, and jokes and smiles,  pats on the back and introductions to the other families and their children! 

 I recently found a letter from him to my mother when he was on Army Reserve upstate at Camp Drum.  This letter had been written in 1960’s.  He was telling my mother to pick up his check from the hospital where he worked. 

 He also said that he missed her at the end of his letter.  That was touching to me because it seem that when became severely overcome by diabetes his attittude had changed toward my mother. 

 He eventually passed  when I was 21 years old, from an enlarged heart, and kidney failure.  He suffered trememdously  from  diabetes! 

 I remember watching my father give himself a needle in the stomach.  He had been put in the hospital a couple of times. 

But one thing I noticed about my father, was that he refused to stay home from work.  He went to work everyday. 

He had two jobs.  He worked in what was then called Brooklyn Jewish Hospital,  and Creedmoor Children’s Hospital.

  He would leave for work at 10:00 p.m. and not return home until the next day at 5:00p.m.  My mother would have dinner prepared,  he would take his shower and go straight to bed. 

 He never got many hours of sleep at home. He worked in the Emergency Room at Brooklyn Jewish Hospital at night.  He worked at Creedmoor Children’s Hospital during the day. 

He provided a large bungalo house with a big yard for his family.  My mother called him a WORKAHOLIC!!

His major concern was  that my mother provide him with clean clothes, and dinner.  He could handle the rest. 

On the weekend my father would take me to the park after he had had some sleep. 

He would make sure I had done my chores and then the rest of the afternoon was my time with him!  He loved to play handball with people he had met in the park while I ran around with my friends at the  playground. 

 I never had a bad experience at that park in Cambria Heights Queens NewYork!  As I got older the movies with Bruce Lee came out and my father and I truly enjoyed everyone of those on Saturdays.  

 I remember seeing “Enter the Dragon and a whole host of other movies!”  I became so involved that I started buying Karate Magazine and my father  enrolled me in the Jerome Mackey Karate School. 

 I took up judo!  The Karate Teacher looked very mean and he yelled alot.  So I took judo instead.  I loved being tossed about. 

Except for one time that my judo partener  did a move I did not expect and tossed me so hard that my bottom lip slid across the canvas mat. 

 My feelings were hurt and I never returned to that judo class again. 

 You see,  I loved the sport….but I was a bit shy,  and did not really like the violent part. 

 But  looking back now I realize how I must have had a deep crush on Bruce Lee,  because when he died I was heart broken—for a long while. 

 I read the book on his life and death.  I met my husband when I was 28 and don’t you know it —my husband had two black belts?

  I was shocked.  He had a black belt in IKEJUJITSU  and Korean Karate—oh,  and he also had a black belt in sword, and weapons fighting too

  I was floored,  and excited that I was marrying someone who had such skill.

—-Getting back to my father,  he purchased an above ground five foot 20 or more round swimming pool which he very rarely used himself.

  It was for the family –and he worked so he was more interested in sleeping!  My father allowed my mother to express herself in decorating.

  He even assisted her in opening up an antique shop on Jamacia Avenue in 1965! 

  He was a special man and He was a SPECIAL BLACK AFRICAN AMERICAN MAN!!!!   

  In closing I would like to state that we must remember the good in aALL MEN!!

  No one is perfect.  But try to remember the best in the people you have met.  There are always opportunities to build up your husbands and fathers. 

 Let’s try to decrease some of the negative press against the Black/African American Men,  and Men of ALL RACES for that matter. 

Show a man in your life that you care, and that you appreciate the kind and good things that they do for you.

    It is always easy to find the weaknesses and the errors—But for the sake of your children build up their selfesteem by being role models that they will remember up until they are middle age 47 year old  woman like myself.

  What you do today will defintely last a life time, and will go to the next generation after you are gone! 

 Enjoy the Holidays, and keep safe!

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO OPRAH?

I remember rushing home to watch Oprah at 4:00 every day after work.  I had an early shift and I would love to have my afternoon snack and unwind with Oprah and her special “tear jerking” guests!

  I enjoyed the eye opening discussions on women who had filty homes,  or habits that were destroying their finances and ruining their marriages.  Then she started her book club.  I really could not get into that too much,  but I enjoyed listening to the discussions on the books. 

 I watched Oprah go from a size twenty-two (my current size) and shrink to a size 10!!!  I was happy for her,  and even a bit jealous!  I thought,  I could lose weight too if I had my own personal weight trainer, maids to clean the house when I was too weak, exhausted  after all of the exercise, and lack of food. 

America On Line Black Voices Blog by Marcus Vanderburg in which there was a pol and a count down of all of Oprah’s mistakes for the year 2007.  The  worse mistakes had a pol and I will list them according to the Black Voices POl as follows:

Oprah Supports Supremacist — 44%  -54,459

South African School–  36%- 45,236

K-Fed on Ophra Winfrey Show–  11%- 13,482

Vernon Winfrey Tell All Book–  5%- 5,656

Total Votes–124,285

*************This Pol was taken from the Every Body Hates Marcus AOL Black Voices —Pol on Oprah’s Biggest Mistakes of the Year  2007****************************** 

 But anyway,  I always gloried in Oprahs spunk!   She is dark complexioned like me, and she has weight problems like me.  I could really relate to her! 

 When I heard that she is a “BILLION DOLLAR WOMAN—ENTERPRISE MEGGA DIVA”  I was shocked,  amazed,  and filled with hope and envy! 

 I wished that had been me, but I also knew that such a large powerful cooperation has a megga price to be paid! 

 I knew that all could not be well in paradise!  I knew when I heard that Oprah and Stedman were having fights, and that she tossed him out in the middle of a dinner that there were difficulties ahead for her.   First of all she did not appear to have control on what was being “leaked” to the press—even if it was from the National Enquirer. 

 Her gal pal Gail seemed to illicit some type of negative attitude(from gossip talk shows, like Wendy Williams, at 107.5 WBLS)  about Oprah and her alleged intimate relationship. 

 Oprah seemed to ignore that stuff,  but today I was reading the America On Line Black Voices -EVERY BODY HATES MARCUS- BLOG –and I became concerned about the future of Oprah!

The blog asked me to place a vote on what I thought the worse mistake of Oprah was this year.

After placing my vote I was surprised by the tally.  I thought that the African School issue would have been more of a concern to people.  The supremacist was clearly an error. 

 That was an issue as explained by the Everybody Hates Marcus Article, that was a children’s book on the Oprah book list of her book club, by an author who had written speaches for well known advocate of segregation, Govenor George Wallace. 

Her large staff probably just made an oversight in that area.  But I find the incident of child abuse on children who live in South Africa appauling! 

 I had written a response when that was first listed in the AOL Black Voices blog – that I could not understand how Ophra could run a school on a long distance mentality. 

 I felt that she needed to have a more hands on approach.  Just because you send the money to the school,  or hand out directives does not mean it is being followed through. 

 It is important to have a direct knowledge of any program that has your name heading it!  That I believe is the biggest mistake of all. 

Remember,  the children are helpless,  and so are the parents—especially since they live in South Africa!  I do not want to place a negative spin on the parents,  or the nation of South Africa,  but truly you must see the need to be sensitive when addressing any “self-help” issues over there. 

 Africa as a continent is very complicated.  Too many people have underestimated the intelligence,  the wisdom,  and the strong honorable ancestory of the people of Africa. 

South Africa is a country that is forming a new society and new mentality internally.  Therefore Ophra,  I believe should have had a more “hands on” approach to developing a school for those children. 

 I also had heard that it appeared that she was too strict on the children.  Obviously she did not do her homework on the culture of the children and their parents. 

 I have personal knowledge from discussions I have had with  African people that I have met from Nigeria who have told me about very strong behavior rules, and values that they teach their children. 

 That is a very sticky situation to get involved in.  But as I just stated,  she should have done more homework on the issue, and visited at least once a month and had a walk through and been more of a hands on person than just a benefactor across the seas. 

No one is perfect.  Having a billion dollar cooperation does not make anyone into a saint,  or make them a genious either.  But I still believe taking a more hands on approach,  or stop or quit some of the other projects inorder to give proper attention to the children. 

So back to my title, “What will happen to Oprah?”  I am growing concerned because it seems to me that people, on the Black Voices pol–who are most likely blacks—do  not seem to like the Oprah of 2007.  I believe they liked the old Oprah of yesteryear. 

 You know, back maybe ten years ago before she started loosing weight and having Tom Cruise on the show etc., etc..

Oprah is trying to steer a Megga Airplane all by herself! 

 Yes, she does have supportive staff,  but who can tell what true loyalty is nowadays?  I wonder if everybody from the “group” of Oprah from her assistants to her gal pal Gail really has Oprah’s best interest at heart. 

 Or, is  she, Oprah, listening to the suggestions of her staff.  Does she have enough “down time” alone to really think out and plan out her next ventures? 

 Does she really have good accountants counting up the costs of her ventures and giving her all the facts and figures on her ventures.  What is her debt to income ratio? 

 I would hate to see that she suddenly owes the government, or finds that someone is filing sometype of allegations of megga proportions against her for maltreatment of some sort. 

 It seems like  the year she turned fifty was a good year for her.  She gave away cars,  houses,  trips and dreams to people over here in the United States!  But when she ventured out she came under fire. 

 I wish for her all of the best.  I hope that her family and friends support her and help her to stay on track. 

 Oprah for me has been a role model….not perfect….but still a role model nonetheless.  She gave me the ability to dream past my small kitchen and my 15inch color T.V. sitting on the counter taking up space because  I cannot affort a mounted flat screen like some of my BABY BOOMER COHORTS!

 I  enjoyed Oprah in that she allowed  herself to be available to SUCCESS! 

 We need heros in this world….and I want Oprah to stay my hero!  Stay well,  and stay Successful Oprah—we–the world,  need you!

Cakes and Cookies My Aunt Ellen Used to Bake! * Holiday Baking!!

dinner-wit-us-steppinhowards.jpgMy grandparents used to live on Pacific Street in Brooklyn New York when I was born in 1961.  My parents had left Brooklyn before I was born and purchased a home in Queens New York. 

 I remember visiting  my grandparents and my Great Aunt Ellen for the holidays.  Sometimes my father would drive into Brooklyn and pick up my mother’s parents and Aunt Ellen.

They would then spend ThanksGiving with us in Queens.  Aunt Ellen would always have “bags of plaid or green with rolling wheels filled with great smelling cookies,  cakes,  and ingredients to help my mother out with the Thanks Giving Feast! 

It was a wonderful time of togetherness!  I was about 5 or 6 when a picture had been taken of everybody at the table from my mother and father to the rest of the family gathered around for the prayer and the meal at the table.  I always knew that this was supposed to be a special time. 

  They were imigrants from Virginia.  My Great Aunt Ellen was a spinster.  She was a member of a 7th Day Adventist church. 

She was well known for her hand made dolls,  her cooking and her baking!  She would cook for church functions  all the time.  But  she made her living cooking every day for a family of a wealthy  Building Designer named Freidman. 

 My Aunt Ellen lived at the Friedman  house on on Argiel Road 6 days a week. She cared for the two daughters, cleaned the house, and cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  She was a devote 7th Day Adventist so she attended church every Saturday.  She was my favorite person to see when I went to my grandparents home. 

I did not realize how special that apartment was until just now.  Because so many of the things that I love to do are threaded by the love and quiet personality I had observed  of my Aunt Ellen. 

She spoke volumes with her actions by constantly being busy.  She did not preach at you…she was just a quiet loving presence.  She went away every year and baked up state at the Religious Retreats of the 7th Day Adventist. 

When she passed it was a difficult time because she represented a era of my life.  She lived long enough to meet my son after he was born, and she was talking to him and even recognized him and everyone else up until her dying moment. 

Aunt Ellen had passed at the age of 86 years old.  She left behind her hand made dolls and her quiet  love for God and his word.  Her bedroom was filled with Bibles and 7th Day Adventist literature. 

The Freidman daugthers were middle aged women and they cried with great emotion at the wake and funeral.  They stated that she was their second mother and they were in mourning for the dear Ellen.

Ellen’s Cakes*

Yellow Cake with milk Chocolate Frosting: 

I would love to sneak pieces and pieces of cake and eat until my stomach hurt!!! She would make a three layer cake with the frosting between the layers.  I loved to eat the chocolate all by itself! The cake was the bonus.  My son  always asks me why do I love chocolate so much.  I think it truly is a comfort food for me.  It reminds me of Aunt Ellen’s baking —I guess.  She would sometimes put walnuts in the milk chocolate frosting.  Every thing Aunt Ellen did was from scratch!  No Betty Crocker for Aunt Ellen back in the 60’s and 70’s! 

Classic White Cake with Coconut Frosting:

I would enjoy this cake also.  It was light and fluffy, and had a pinapple center.  Again all of her baking was done from scratch.  Sometimes if I arrived on the one day she had off from the Friedman’s home,  I would get to see Aunt Ellen in the midst of baking!  (I have come to realize now, that is why I like to cook, and bake so much–when I have time!) I also love to knit, and sew by hand.  I just do not have the time that I would like to devote to handcrafting!

Lemon Pound Cake:

There was no frosting on this cake….but the lemon was strong and the cake was firm but moist.  I remember savoring the tangy lemony taste with a cup of milk!  I did not like milk back then,  but if Aunt Ellen baked something you would certainly expect to see me with a cup of milk!

Vanilla Drops:

These Vanilla Drop Cookies were hard as a rock!  But once you got them in your mouth you kept eating, and eating till they were all gone!   Aunt Ellen used baking soda, baking powder,  yeast, and all of the traditional ingredients.  Sometimes she would have me sift the flour for her baking.  That was my favorite task when helping her out.  She would chide me, or admonish me to do this or do that, or sit down so I wouldn’t spill anything!   She never patted me on the head, or even kissed my cheek.  She was very quiet and just plodded along her course until she finished one project of baking or another.

Chocolate/ Walnut,  and or Chocolat Chip Cookies:

Yes, I saved the best for  last.  These cookies were the best for me.  I would eat, and eat those cookies until my mother would tell me to stop it!  I would sneak back into the kitchen and look inside this special roasting pot that Aunt Ellen would store her completed cookie projects inside of  wax paper,  foil, and little plastic bags. 

 I just loved to smell the flour and odor of baked goods as I would walk into  that kitchen and take a cookie or two.  I would check the kitchen table for evidence of a new baking project —you know ingredients of walnuts already cracked and waiting in little bags or containers. 

 I would then go across to the window and look out and see the elevated train station with people waiting for their train above Altantic Avenue.  I would go back to the living room with my cookies!

Cakes I attempt to make>>>

Now that Aunt Ellen is gone for some years now,  I still find myself loving home baked goods.  I cannot recreate them from scratch but I go to the supermarket and pick up the boxes of BETTY CROCKER or Duncan Hines Cake mixes!  I will list the group I will be making for this ThanksGiving Weekend:

 Duncan Hines- Moist Deluxe Classic White Cake

****I have premade White Frosting with rainbow sprinkles for the White Cake.

Duncan Hines- Moist Deluxe **Red Velvet Cake

****I will use the premade Ducan Hines White Frosting for the Red Velvet Cake.

Duncan HInes- Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden Cake

****I will use the premade milk chocolate frosting for the Golden Cake.

****Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies

I do not need any frosting on my brownies!

Two more are not cake but something I have discovered that are tasty:

Concord Foods  Apple Crisp-  I purchased this mix in King Kullen,  but I have also purchased it in Waldbaums,  and Pathmark Stores.

All that is needed is simple butter, and Fresh Apples!  You can put icecream on this after it is prepared.  It is great tasting and easy to make too!

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix-  This is the only mix that comes close to the old fashioned taste of Aunt Ellen’s cooking and her bisquits! 

I truly enjoyed reminiscing with you about my love of Aunt Ellen,  and her special quiet ways.

Enjoy your ThanksGiving Weekend,  and the Special People in your lives!

Decorating For the Holidays –Update on 12/8/07***on a shoe string!

I just got some last minute ideas on decorating my diningroom table. A friend of my told me how to make a Christmas Tree and wreath from construction paper!  No—it is not a new idea….but instead of spending alot of money on decorations….I have plenty of glue and paper.  I love Arts and Crafts!  Today after I sing at a concert I will go and do that!   Last year I had limited financial resources!  What else is new?  But I still brought a Christmas tree.  I paid about $35.00. And this year I have the same financial problems but that does not stop my holiday Spirit! *****My update is about an actual 99 cent store that contacted me today.  It is an actual online shopping spree for those looking for the economic thrills of low budget shopping.  Here take a look.  Now mind you….I have not actually gone to the store….but it gives the address and I love to drive….I will take a ride out there and let you know how it looks.  Here is the online address pasted: http://www.99centplusonline.com   Posted today 12/4/07—Hurry Holdiay shopping is in full swing!  Enjoy!**************************** ***************************************************************   I love a live tree.  My childhood was filled with a fake tree.  But what my mother could afford back then I cannot.  My mother’s fake tree had fake snow coming out of the top, and the tree itself rotated, and my mother even had a strobe light on too.  What a holiday I truly enjoyed!!  My mother was very creative.  She made a wooden tree and hung it on the front door of the house and put candy canes on it foir visitors or the mailman to take and eat!  There were little elves hanging all aroud the house.  I would play with them and then put them back where ever my mother hung them!  I loved Christmas!  It was the spirit of the holiday –NOT THE GIFTS!  My mother made the holiday a special  time in our house!  Not the shopping!  I did not even see her shop.  I truly believed that Santa was bringing me my gifts!  So it was not comercial like it is today!  I thank  God that I had the mother I had, and the father who could help her to supply a very fantasy,  sheltered DisneyLand mentality for my childhood.  That is probably why I still enjoy the holiday season.  I love to recreate that for my son!   So I enjoy that live tree–it smells soo Good! The live tree is good!  I don’t have to put it together. Although securing it is not always easy—but my son and I tend to get it anchored into it’s base after a few tries!  I shop at the 99cent stores to get my holiday decorations.   Why should I spend and arm and a leg getting a decorations?  I like my food,  and holiday gifts to be around the tree also.  So I have to stretch my dollars.  So  99cent store is just fine.  Last year I used a lot of red little bows on the branches and a few Christmas plastic red,  yellow and green balls.  I always love a little Santa,  and a few elves!  All of these things cost 99Cent.   Sometimes I go to the***** Valley Stream Flea Market off of the Sunrise Highway behind the Cineplex!*****   It is free to go in,  and you have vendors.  The vendors have great close outs,  cheap costume jewelry, some silver jewlrey and even jade,  jeans,  coats,  some leather,  some designer closeouts.  There is even a vendor who sells suitcases.   I see eager shoppers who have relationships with these vendors.  Certain vendors at the flea market are so committed that they know each other and all of their regular customers too.  One vendor always remembers me,  I  buy a few things each time I go. There are also$10.00 sheets for the bed too.  There are MINK blankets for sale too!   What a great opportunity to have the things that others buy for much higher prices!   There are people who sell spices,  and plants too.  So between the two places,  the 99cent store and the Valley Stream/Green Acres flea Market I make out pretty Good!   I  want to put up Christmas Lights also.  I love to have rotating lights and white lights.  I have a Manager scene,  and bells on the front door.  I want to purchase a colorful tree skirt this year.   I spend some dollars  at Marshalls  also.  Marshalls has such beautiful holiday decorations.  I buy a few special pieces at Marshalls just to add a little pizazz to my 99cent  decorations.  I will give more entries later.  Tonight when I get home I have to run right out to get my Spanish Rice ingredients for tomorrow’s meal.  I am cooking of course.  I truly believe I would be a Martha Steward if I had more personal time and more energy!   I list my menu later on tonight.  But baked ZITI will definitely be on the menu for our THANKSGIVING DINNER!  My sons bakes the zitti.  I get it started and he seasons to his taste and puts the whole tray in the oven.  I that’s right I have to pick up more butter and Eggnog too!  I love to cook and bake.   I going to make an apple pie and some sweet potatoes with the marshmellow topping—yummy,  yummy!!  Oh,  boy,  Christmas Decorations and Great food!!!   I truly have a lot to be thankful for. I  will check in later to night,  and I will tell you how my cooking and decorating and shopping goes this weekend too! Today is ThanksGiving!  As always I am running behind schedule.  I have to run to the LIQUIDATORS in Valley stream to pick up more aluminum pans and such.  Ziti noodles, more butter, turkey seasonings, more Apple Cider, Black Cherry Soda, more cheese,  pie crusts,  apples,  brownie mix,  cake mix,  marshmellows, and more sweet poptatoes!  I always take my time!  I love to cook.  I would do it all the time if I could.  I also want to pick up a themed  table cloth if I can find one for a low price.  Well,  I will check later!  It is 8:44 and my son is still asleep! Gotta get him up and get this show on the road! **************************************************************** Okay,  I’m Back! I cooked my turkey….until it fell  off of the bone!  YES!!!  My son ate, and my Mom ate,  and of course I –the chef had to ate it and saw what I could improve upon.  Well my ingredients for the turkey are first in the cleaning preparation.   I rinse the turkey,  take out the giblets and the neck.  I scrup the turkey with the KOSHER salt.  I rinse and then  pour lemon juice from concentrate inside and outside of the turkey.   I rinse several more times.  I cut up celery, and onion and place in a small pot with butter and water.  I let that come to a boil.  I have already prepared my stuffing.   I rub the last bit of KOSHER salt and pour it inside of the turkey.  I rinse one last time and then I take the boiling vegetables out of the pot with a holed spoon and then pour the boiling mixture of butter and water over the turkey.   It does a good job of sealing it for cooking.  Then I use the BELL TURKEY seasoning, mixed with a little Adobo seasoning too.—(not too much) just for a little zing!   I massage the entire bird with this delicate mixture of flavor–YUMMY!    I place four pats of butter on the bottom of the pan and then lay my nearly green bird down.  It looks a little weird….but guess what it is golden brown when it is finished cooking…after I stuffed the bird with the boiled vegetables, and Stove Top Stuffing I poured the last bit of butter and water combo over the bird and then I reconnected the legs…checked the done pin and then poured more vegetables on the top of the bird.   I used foil  and alot of butter to cover the wings so that they would not burn or cook faster than the rest of the bird.   I noticed that the foil and the temperature at 350 according to the directions  practically steams the bird to perfection!  Great!   So we had a great turkey. Today I went out to WholeSale Liquidators.  I was shocked because I was there yesterday and spent $75 dollars on food and utensils that I needed.   I received a $10.00 gift card from the store.  So guess what?  On BLACK FRIDAY,   I gave the card to my son and he brought something that he wanted for Christmas with it.   I have never gotten a gift card from a store before!   So check out Wholesale Liquidators in Valley Stream Green Acres Mall—at the opposite end from Walmart.   I was so happy.  My son was more than happy to buy a controller for one of his game systems.   I did look at their decorations….they have them for a buck too!  Great!  What else should I say?  Oh,  I was a bit upset with Old Navy—I got there late (meaning 8:00 in the morning)–  The clerk told me that I had to be there at 5:00 am so that I could have purchased the $20.00 worth of items and then get a $40.00 value MP3!   But it did not say that on the flyer that I got in the news paper!  Oh, Well!  I ‘m satisfied…I got to GameStop at 7:00 just in time to get my son his game system.   It was a difficult decision for me to make.  I struggle—but he did get an A in 9th grade American History and he holds a pretty strong B average in everything else.   Saturday will be my Green Acres Mall,  Flea Market Day.   I’ ll let you know what they have out there.  Or better yet—you take a look for yourself!  Blog to you soon!