Author Archives: jennifermichie

The Written Word Endures #6

“What was it like when you were growing up?”

Sookie took a sip of her tea. “Like a three-ring circus, with Lenore as ringmaster. The house was always full of people. The bridge club or garden club always had some kind of meeting at our house and Buck’s friends were running in and out. Poor Daddy, I miss him. He was the sweetest thing; he said the only reason he could live with Lenore was the fact that he was deaf in one ear. One time Buck said, ‘Daddy, why can’t you hear out of that ear?’ And Daddy said, ‘Wishful thinking, son, just wishful thinking.’ He was a scream.”

Believe me, Mother lives well, but since Daddy died, who knows what she’s liable to do next. She can come up with the craziest things.”

“Like what?”

“Just crazy stuff. Five years ago so many new people started moving here and she didn’t think the Welcome Wagon and the Newcomers’ Club were doing enough to suit her so she formed the Welcome to Selma Club … and I feel sorry for the poor people who move here. As soon as they hit town, Lenore’s troops make a beeline over to their house and swarm all over them like ants before anybody else can get to them. I said, Mother, it’s a wonder you don’t scare them to death. I know if I looked up and saw Lenore Krackenberry and her gang storming up my driveway with ribbons and balloons, singing at the top of their lungs, ‘Welcome to Selma,’ I’d move back where I came from.”

“Singing what?”

“Some old stupid song that one of her friends wrote. “ ‘Welcome to Selma, Selma, Selma…can we help ya, help ya, help ya.’ It’s just awful, but God knows people know they are welcomed.”

Sookie got up. “Promise me you won’t let me have more than two glasses of wine. Earle says I’m a cheap drunk and I get silly and talk too much if I have more than two glasses. I’m liable to get drunk and reveal all the family secrets.”

“Do you have any?”

Sookie sat down and threw her legs over the side of the chair. “Secrets? Are you kidding? In Selma, honey, we couldn’t have a secret if our lives depended on it. My life is an open book. Everybody in town knows that Buck is a big goofball and that Mother is a card-carrying crazy … and I’m probably not operating on a full deck myself.”

Dena was unwinding and the feeling was pleasant. “Sookie, tell me about your life down here.”

“My life? It’s just a plain old normal life. You’re the one who hobnobs with the stars. We are just plain old people, dull, dull, dull.”

-Fannie Flagg, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!

* I simply adore Fannie Flagg. The closer I get to the end of her novels, the slower I read them. She weaves her worlds so well, I feel that I know these characters. I think some of us would even be dear friends. This book had so many things that just tickled my funny bone. It was hard to put it down at 2am, but I woke up Mr. Michie by bursting out laughing at a particular paragraph. So out went the lights…

Superheroes

This morning, we awoke to the news of another terrorist attack. This one was at our back door, in our beloved London.

Lately, I feel that we need superheroes more than ever. Never doubt their existence. For it was superheroes walking among us, who last night in the onslaught of the attack, ran to people’s aid.

On Friday, we had an afternoon movie date to see the new Wonder Woman film. It was WONDERful! I have long been a Diana Prince fan. I grew up watching the gorgeous Lynda Carter, spin into Wonder Woman over my morning bowl of cereal as a kid.

Personally, I feel that Wonder Woman’s message is one of extreme paramount importance. Her message is that you can be strong and powerful, but kindness and more crucially love are equally valuable qualities to possess.

Therefore, each time we wake up to another atrocity, we must continue to stand strong and walk forward with kindness and love. We will not cower. We will not back down. We will continue forward, for it is the only way to go.

{Image: Found}

Thirteen

See how in their veins all becomes spirit:
into each other they mature and grow.
Like axles, their forms tremblingly orbit,
round which it whirls, bewitching and aglow.
Thirsters, and they receive drink,
watchers, and see: they receive sight.
Let them into one another sink
so as to endure each other outright.

The Lovers, Rainer Maria Rilke

Today I celebrate thirteen years of being Mr. Michie’s bride. We have been by each other’s sides since we were teenagers. I’m happy beyond measure and blessed that it’s his hand I get to hold as we navigate our way together on the road of life. Here’s to another THIRTEEN and all the adventures that lie ahead! I LOVE YOU!

{Image found HERE // Pinned HERE}

Manchester

I haven’t had the time or the energy to come here lately. I don’t feel I have a voice right now. Since I wrote my last post, I’ve been working on putting myself back together. It is a bittersweet thing to think I exist in a world that my Nana does not. I’m happy that I had her for so long, but sad to think that we will no longer exchange letters, or telephone calls, or have our little chats over lunch or dinner when we can be together. Sad is such a poor adjective to describe how I feel right now.

We rarely watch TV and were on no social media networks last night, so we had no idea what had occurred in Manchester until we awoke today. I don’t like to use this space as a political forum, or a soap box. But this goes beyond that; this was an attack on humanity. As I ran through the woods this morning, I kept going over the news story in my head. It has sickened me. What a cowardly act, to go after children, young adults and people who were simply out enjoying themselves.

I know how excited everyone must have been, how far some people probably traveled, what a big deal it would be to see a concert on a “school night”. To have such a wonderful evening finish on such a sour note. Last night must have been the longest night of their lives for the poor families who spent it wondering if their children were safe? Would they ever walk through the front door again?

How you could do this to people, to plan to carry out an action like this is beyond me. To go into an place, watching the faces around, laughing, talking, singing and know that you will take it all away from them, makes you more than a monster.

The saddest part of all of this, is that these events are happening more and more and we are shocked, saddened, can’t get enough information about it, but the news cycle is brief. Something will come to fill its place. These atrocities need to be stopped.

And through this barbaric act, what shone through? LIGHT! People offering their homes, a safe place to stay, a free taxi ride, phone chargers, food… the list goes on. Goodness will prevail. The darkness shall be defeated. As Leonard Cohen said, “there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” We must continue to seek out the cracks, to look for the light and the kindness that exists within humanity. When you’re out and about today, commit a random act of kindness. You never know how one kind word, a friendly gesture or even a smile could make all the difference.

To the good people of Manchester, we stand with YOU in solidarity.

“Ooookay! So Long, Doll!”

There is much more to a person than their outer shell. Soul mates come in many forms. Sometimes in that of a lover, other times in the heart of a kindred spirit. She held me not long after I was born and told my mother exactly what my personality would be. From the moment her hands lifted me up and she held me in her arms we were and will always be intertwined.

She grew up in New York. Living in the city before heading out to live by the bay. She was an amazing swimmer. She had a little boat that she used to take out in the harbour and would go fishing. Along with her catch, she would “borrow” a few vegetables from a neighbours garden and make a little fish stew for herself on the banks.

She once safely stowed her books away, with the gentleman who ran the candy store, so she could skip school and go see Frank Sinatra croon. She had quite the voice herself and used to sing at her Uncle’s cabaret with his band as a young teen. She was a baseball player. Like Geena Davis in A League of Their Own, she was a pitcher. That’s how my grandpa first met her. He was smitten! Her? Not so much. But he wore away at her and she would later elope with him.

I’ve seen the New York census from the year they were married, it has them listed each living with their families at different residences. What the census didn’t know is that they had already secretly married in Virginia and it was only much later when she became pregnant that they told their families. That was the first of eight babies they would have together. They absolutely adored children and that was something that never left her.

My grandfather fought in WWII and she stayed to fight on the home front. She was an empowered woman before it even became a thing to be one. She was a Rosie the Riveter. I have a copy of an old photograph of her that was taken for a promotional shoot, she looks like a doll with her little cap on. She was an incredible artist, her drawings and pottery beautifully sculpted. She was also an amazing seamstress.

She taught me how to go crabbin’ at the beach. I caught a baby alligator my first time out the gate, but by the time we were ready to leave we had a basketful of crabs for dinner.

She kept her aluminium pie tins for me and I spent hours in her backyard making mud pies, that I decorated with acorns and berries from her yard. Once I was totally filthy, she would call me inside and bath me in her avocado green kitchen sink.

That was the same sink where we washed baby doll clothes and she made a drying line with some twine hung between two of her dining room chairs standing back to back, for me to pin them on.

At one point she had a little orange pinto and we used to shoot through the streets with our sunglasses on, laughing and listening to music. She was a smoker for a short while of my childhood, and I would “smoke” with her at the kitchen table. She would pretend to light up one of my crayons. I held it between my fingers like she did, taking a “puff” as she did, while I coloured with the other hand. It was like hanging out with Betty Draper.

She had a wicked sense of humour, a wonderful laugh, an even better smile. Her hands were like butter. She was a woman of unwavering faith. Her eyes saw beauty in everything. She didn’t miss a trick. She and my grandfather continued their passionate love affair up until his death.

Like my other grandmother, she was a woman of rare breed. A lady through and through. She had a special “good luck” clap that she did when watching baseball, but it was also used when she watched,  Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right. She had a lot of -isms that we still say to each other all the time. And when you spoke with her on the phone, her way of saying goodbye was normally, “Ooookay, so long, doll!”. All said in a sing-song manner with a slight New York accent.

For 93 years she walked this earth. For a small part of that she was mine. We lost her this week and my heart has broken into a thousand pieces. I’ll eventually pick them up and put them back together, but there will forever be a missing piece.

The First of May

“A Prayer in Spring”
By Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Caught Between Two Worlds

I have long been an admirer of Frida Kahlo. I am of the opinion that certain artists speak to you on a level that goes beyond simply “liking” or “appreciating” their work. Kahlo speaks to me. One painting in particular that I always reflect on is, The Two Fridas, 1939. It was painted after her divorce from Diego Rivera. The two Fridas are sitting, holding hands with their hearts interlinked. One enrobed in traditional Tehuana dress and the other in westernised clothing.

To me, they represent different facets of her. We are all gems, with different facets making up the whole. I feel it shows her caught between her worlds; who she is, where she has been, where she is going and what she wants to be. This is something that I fully understand; I feel caught between my two worlds.

In catching up with some blog reading this week, I read a post on Chocolate and Zucchini. Clotilde wrote about witnessing a friend’s thesis defence, on the experience of refugee chefs in Paris. She opened with a poem by Nigerian writer Ijeoma Umebinyuo, called Diaspora Blues:

“So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both.”

The lines Umebinyuo wrote spoke to me. I’m not entirely where I want to be right now. I’m striving to keep to the motto “bloom where you’re planted”. But I feel caught between my two worlds. England is becoming a place that I don’t recognise. It’s political agendas are disturbing. It appears that there is no room for growth. The people are becoming even less friendly than they already were.

We are running down a path and every time we come to a cross in the road and make a decision about our direction, it turns out that we keep coming back to the same path. Timing is everything and maybe this is where we are meant to be right now. Even if I don’t fully see or understand it. My Grandpa always said, you never see the whole puzzle at once. There is a reason for everything and I truly believe in that.

But, I’m ready for a change. I’m ready to see what comes next. I took a leap a little while ago and it turned into a dead end. So, I’m backing up and going down the next road. I hope it brings me closer to my dream. And I hope the path we’re on, brings us closer to our dreams.