keep your peepers open!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

be do don't

“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.” - Adapted from the Prayer of St. Theresa

My January 2010 magazines arrived in late December. I flipped through a couple of them as I spent a happy holiday allowing my still recuperating body to recupe. I ask you, “How many articles can be written on resolutions?” I skimmed one that listed statistics on how long it takes before we abandon our good intentions, briefed another that provided nine secrets on how to stick with it, closed the pages on tricks of keeping the resolution trade. Every morning show and even the evening news are hawking stories on making then breaking our new year’s promises to ourselves. It seems we are doomed before the ball drops at midnight so I say let's not get conked over the head with a big old orb of dazzling crystal failure yet again. Perhaps I am channeling St. Theresa but how about this…resolve to be your best, give the best of you, try your best, and work better with what you have each and every time you wake up to begin another day of your life. Put simply, be and do better than the day before, don’t stop trying. Wishing you the happy best in 2010 and may you resolve to…

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

fit or miss gifts

Gift giving and getting can be…well I don’t want to sound negative. Trust me, I am no Scroogette. I love to get and give presents. However, the higher I climb on the chronological ladder, the less I need, want or require that can be bought in a store or online. Almost all of the adults of a certain age that I know have homes full of accepted and purchased acquisitions; some of the former are tucked away in closets still in the boxes in which they were received. Since I make annual financial contributions to several organizations anyway, I decided to give in the name of my friends rather than buy them another thing. I used to send my parents and siblings what I thought was a beautiful wreath for their respective front doors until one of them complained (you know who you are). I now bake cookies from scratch for my Dad, my Mother enjoys receiving whatever art I am creating at the moment. No more sibling gifts, just their children.

My three nieces that belong to my sister born after me get so much at Christmas that I opted to send them an Edible Arrangement the weekend before Christmas day; this juicy festive gift continues to be a hit after four years (and girls I did note that next year I will remember to have them dip more pineapple and strawberries in chocolate!) This year I started the same ritual with my youngest niece; my sis-in-law said the princess fruit bouquet scored a thumb up. My nephew is a graduate student. His gift is usually money for the holiday and an addition to the original art, African mask, and photography book collection I started for him when he turned 13. I switched the order of his gifts this year for some reason but will go back to our routine in 2010. Honestly I prefer to focus energy and effort on birthday presents for everyone I buy gifts for because they can’t get lost amongst a sea of wrapped packages under the tree and don’t end up on the island of misfit stuff in the back of that closet I mentioned, well not always. And though I do believe it is the thought that counts thoughtless gifts usually end up there too so how about trying something novel next year. Get ready…..drum roll please….ask people what they want! Even if you can’t fulfill their wish, I bet they will be pleased that your inquiring mind wanted to know.

On the eve of the 25th, one of Santa’s elves delivered a small red bag with holiday tissue paper sprouting from the top. It was from a friend who has been quite ill for the past few months, receiving this present signaled that my friend is on the mend. Everything I was given this year was most fitting however her gift turned out to be the one that made my day the merriest and brightest. Hallelujah for holiday miracles every one, revealed when you…

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


‘Tis the season for telling stories. Some true to their core, others whose core has some iota of truth but as they are spun reveal more fabrication. The latter I refer to are for the benefit of bringing magic to this time of the year so it’s all good. The last few months of writing The Eclectic Eye have brought me hours of pleasure. Each time I sit down, my goal is to put my best voice forward, draw you in, wrap you up in my world for a few, then deposit you back in yours feeling entertained. Sometimes I get so lost that I have no idea how much time has passed. Of course by then I have to edit like crazy to keep the column from becoming a book!

I have received emails from a few followers who say they like the way I tell a story. (I actually prefer to say story sharing rather that story telling because according to the grown-ups in my orbit when I was a wee one, telling a story meant you were not telling the truth.) Each time I compose my narratives, I gain an even better appreciation of the art of story sharing. Many times I enlighten myself as I stop to search for information based on something that comes up while I’m writing. For example, the word griot came to mind as I pecked notes into my I Phone note pad for this entry. Though I know what a griot is and am fortunate enough to have met more than one in my travels, I have never taken the time to research the oral historians known by this title. My eyebrows arched slightly when I read part of the explanation from Wikipedia that said they sometimes use their “vocal expertise for gossip, satire, or political comment.” Perhaps part of that telling a story thing that those grown-ups from my youth referred to…

Though I enjoy writing almost as much as I love creating art, I am a huge proponent of tête-à-tête dialog especially when story sharing (not talking about books…topic for another day). The convenience and immediacy of text, email and tweets pushes us farther and farther away from what is fast becoming the lost art of conversation. I want to hear the emotion of new baby news, the melody of a voice in like or love. There is something lost in translation when we read words without the benefit of inflection, tonality and rhythm. Just think of that email you opened that stopped you cold or the one you sent… you know the one I mean. Certainly there is much to be said about electronic communication that is to the positive. However, we are raising a society of people that have no inkling of what the words personal communication mean and bumping phones together DOES NOT count!!!

Now I must confess that as I am writing this, my sister born before me and I have sent more than 15 text messages and the last few have been about me writing about the beauty of talking. Go figure! This brings me to yet another meaning of telling stories. When someone shares a story it can reveal so much about them, it can be very telling about who they are and what they are about. Take a listen. You just might learn something and as you listen remember to also…

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

shall we dance

This past Friday I sat in an Elks Lodge wondering if I would be out of there before the snowstorm of the year started. Though I did not receive the memo, I was wearing a black outfit, red shoes and silver jewelry which as I looked around the hall seemed to be the colors of the evening. Before you ask why I was there, actually there was no place I would rather have been. My best friend was graduating from her hand dance class; I was a proud supporter. As we waited for the Class of 21 from One Step at a Tyme to make their debut, I enviously gazed with admiration at couples moving smoothly around the floor, men leading the way. With just a tap or gaze they told women exactly what they were to do, she skillfully followed. Each person had their own signature moves that when paired with those of their partner of choice told one dance story. When couples switched, a new story unfolded. I was mesmerized, fascinated and giddy.

I have always admired partner dancing. Long before Dancing with the Stars, which I do not like due to the celebrity involvement, the public access channel was broadcasting and continues to air ballroom competitions. As the dancers execute their routines, my body tenses and relaxes…it seems to be trying to configure the steps. I salivate over the samba, cheer for the cha cha and the tango, simply titillating. When I was a teen, I met a family who had moved to Jersey from Chicago, they did something called the bop. I was a flop. When the hustle was all the fuss, I picked up just enough to fake some finesse. Though I have never been good at these dances, I have never fallen out of love with viewing those who have mastered them. A skilled pair leaving it on the floor is something to behold. I seriously get my happy on watching.

Somewhere in my historical brain, I thought I remembered that hand dancing originated in my birthplace, so I Googled it and here’s what Wikipedia reports, “Hand dancing, also known as D.C. hand dancing or D.C. swing, is a form of swing dance that can be traced as far back as the 1920s, from Lindy Hop, to Jitterbug and to the 50's when Washington, D.C. developed its own version and named it Hand Dance. It is characterized by gliding footwork and continuous hand connection/communication between the partners hence its name...In 1993, the Smithsonian Institution recognized Hand Dance as an American Art Form.” And art it is!

I love to dance, have always been able to hold my own on any dance floor. My preference is to move freely as the music moves me. However, the only acceptable form of dance for my evening at the Elks was either hand or line and there were at least four line dances each with some twist that I could not wrap my brain around. I was intimidated knowing that my previous experiences with hand dancing by any name had turned me into a willing wallflower but nothing could keep the music from coursing through my body, veins filling with the groove of each song perfectly selected for this kind of movement. A man who knows how to dance exudes a confidence that is irresistible and there before me was a whole lot of sexy irresistibility! Maybe in the right hands I would know just what to do so as a gentleman stepped to me and took my hand I wanted to succumb to him, allow him to glide me around the floor. Sad to say, my body awkwardly followed, my brain disconnected; the steps did come as naturally as I expected. D.C. hand dancing truly is an art form that takes time to learn one step at a time over a period of time. I thank my partner who was patient, kind and had moves that were oh so debonair for being gracious enough to take an amateur to the floor so she could get a taste of what the evening was all about.

As we applauded the graduates, someone returned to the table to breathlessly say that the snow had arrived. Folks began to politely scurry. When the doors opened, it was scintillating! Fluffy flakes were falling furiously against the dark sky but all I saw was a magical stage that reminded me of the setting for a ballet. The snowflakes danced over my face, I waltzed across the wet white carpet in my red suede shoes. Perhaps they would lead me back to the Elks one day but in the meantime…

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

shake your nanas

I love food, love to cook, and love to eat…if you get a glimpse of my hips you’ll know I’m not telling a lie. When I lost my taste buds during my recent illness, I thought I would at least be able to suck down a chocolate shake of my creation and savor the flavor. That did not happen. The only thing I felt was the soothing comfort of cold liquid passing over my raw esophagus. Nice but no cigar! I so wanted to take a sip of my healthy potion, have my mouth light up with hints of chocolate, almond, banana followed by a kick of pepper and feel satiated. When would I once again be able to eat anything besides Chuckles candy and experience its real flavor?

A creative chick in the kitchen, I have been able to alter some recipes to make them healthy yet still yummy. One of my favorites is a twist on the thick chocolate shake that incorporates several nutrients. I actually made another one just this morning and thankfully it did more than soothe my throat, it made my taste buds do a little jig!

choc-O-mega 3 shake

2 medium bananas
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
Handful of unsalted roasted almonds
Honey (about a tsp.)
Silk Soy chocolate milk (or your favorite)
Red pepper (black or white will also do)
Almond extract (if you have it)

Before you get in the shower, slice the bananas and put them in the freezer so they can get really cold, if they freeze that’s fine. Put the almonds in the blender; grind into very fine pieces. Add the bananas, ground flax, honey (my grandmother always put a pinch of sugar in just about everything, a squirt of honey is my thing), a heavy shake of cinnamon, a nice shake of red pepper, a splash of almond extract if you have it. Pour just a little of the Silk Soy into the blender, cover and blend until the mixture thickens (of course I would gravitate towards a product that has “silk” in the title, I am a tactile girl…not only does it appeal to my taste buds but in a strange sort of way to my sense of touch). Open the cap on the top of the blender and add milk until the mixture loosens up and takes on the appearance of a thick creamy shake. Pour into a glass that holds at least 2 cups and pop in a straw! Obviously, I’m not keen on measuring things, so play with the spices and amount of milk until it’s to your taste. Keep in mind this is a textured drink, so the flax and almonds will be noted. Now I have no idea about calories or anything, perhaps my friend at could assess this for me. In the meantime…

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

from the middle

In my family, there was always a discussion about the middle roll when my mother or grandmother made a batch. I didn’t think anyone else cared about such things until I saw a commercial with a mom and kids baking brownies and talking about the one from the middle. I guess lots of people have a preference for what part of a pan of baked goods they like to eat. I got to pondering this when I saw the advertisement and had to chuckle remembering how crazy my family got when it came to the middle roll.

I am a middle child who happens to prefer the middle roll. The crusty top is just enough to compliment all that soft squishy hot yumminess topped with butter! Corners and sides just have too much crunch which does not appeal to me when it comes to this little piece of bread. However, loaves of bread are another story altogether. The heel of a fresh batch of sourdough is the perfect companion to a hearty bowl of something on a cold day. I don’t normally dip but should I decide to, the middle slices just can’t hold up to sopping up the last drops of soup or stew. When it comes to cornbread a crunchy corner will do me just fine. I’m none too happy if I order it out and it has been made in a round pan. And before we turn the corner, I must be the first to crack into macaroni and cheese right at that 90 degree section of the pan. Those brittle bits of pasta and browned cheese are too too delectable. Traveling to the sweet, a chewy brownie from the middle surpasses any square with crusty sides for me – gooey fudge like chocolate with pecans is just the best!

I can’t remember how we resolved who got what roll, brownie or piece of gingerbread each time they were made. These friendly battles over food made us laugh…well most of the time. I do recall some pouting that never really lasted too long. In the end, I ended up with all of the long rectangular pans that held so many mixtures that baked into nothing but goodness. I covet them along with the pots, frying and sauce pans, muffin tins, mixing bowls, measuring devices and cooking utensils that I inherited. For some reason, I am missing the cake pans. A big round homemade lemon or devils food cake with freshly creamed butter icing, no frills was an equalizer. There was always the middle and sides but no end thus no discussion. I’m not a big cake person which may be why I don’t have the pans. I do have a penchant for cupcakes though and during the holidays, I have been known to order chocolate rum cakes. Something about these bundt cakes reminds me of me, my true friends and my friendships with them…sweet yet spicy, sticky spots that dissolve so quickly, light not heavy, delightful, happy, naughty, intoxicating, delicious, can’t get enough of…never ending.

food and friends and family and silly fun and…

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

the good stuff

My body is still inhabited by aliens (see 12/6/09). I don’t know when I’ve every felt so ill. While in lonely captivity, movies have kept me company. The original black and white version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was actually on the week before I got sick…foreshadowing maybe? I’m not sure when I became captivated by old movies. They don’t necessarily have to be B&W as there are some to die for greats like Giant (Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean), Madame X (Lana Turner), Carmen Jones (Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge), and Auntie Mame (Rosalind Russell) to name a few that are in color. However, there is just something about the void of bright stimulants that allows me to get more immersed in the story, see the characters a little more sharply even when the celluloid is a tad blurry. I remember the first time I caught It’s a Wonderful Life well before it was only shown on one network. It was 2:00AM. I had had an argument with the beau of that moment in my life and couldn’t sleep as I knew it was time for us to break up. I was grappling with what to do. The TV was already on so I sat up and started watching. By the time the movie ended, I had shed lots of tears, clearly knew what I needed to do, was happier with my life and drifted off into a contented snooze. Some of the George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, and /or Edward G. Robinson flicks provide a dramatic look at mobster bad boys. Those angular faces in shadowy close ups make me swoon especially Bogie. Why we girls find bad-ass men so appealing is a mystery that I’m not sure we understand. The violence depicted in these movies just does not seem as graphic to me maybe because the blood is not red. The same type of movie produced today would still have guns ablazin' there would just be so much graphic gore to absorb. Since I mentioned the mob I have to cite The Godfather...I just can't see it enough and watch every minute. The only scene that makes me cringe is when a pregnant Connie is trapped in the bathroom and beaten by her husband. A movie like this should NEVER be remade…it’s a classic. Why mess with the good stuff?

I can’t say that I have never seen a remake that I like. Both versions of Imitation of Life hit my heart with the same intensity; both are vintage and well made. A Star is Born dazzles with the voice of Judy Garland in the 1954 version with James Mason but seemed just a little more tragic in 1937 with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Love both. I think it’s lazy to take a perfectly good movie, fluff it up with present day references and sell it to the public as if it’s new. There are those of us who know the charade. Take for example one of my very favorites The Women. I treasure my tape and DVD of the 1939 version with Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell and an all female cast of characters that are a hoot! I happened to catch the 2008 remake recently. It was a slick romp that handled the betrayal of one friend by another by wrapping it in a neat bow. Norma Shearer (Meg Ryan) did not reward the gossiping, backstabbing Rosalind Russell (Annette Bening) with her friendship. She kept the women who treasured her close, was clever in how she handled the cats, and triumphed. The Women was actually remade well before 2008. I’ve seen that one once and hope to never see it again. First, that remake was a musical, second, there are men in it. Though very much the center of the storyline, not a creature with a Y chromosome was to be seen in 1939 production which is as it should be for this particular film. Don’t mess with the good stuff!

I can recite page by page the lines of Mildred Pierce, All About Eve, From Here to Eternity, The Best Years of Our Lives, and so many others that I fail to miss when they are in rotation. I am so tickled when something I have caught only part of in a previous showing is on or something I’ve never seen before appears or something I saw once when I was younger and there was no such thing as taping is before me once again like right this very moment! Racket Busters…a trucker with a pregnant wife fights a NY mobster’s protection racket…what a treat so this blog needs to be a wrap. This past weekend, Random Harvest with Greer Garson and Ronald Colman graced my small screen. As I propped up in bed to escape how badly I was feeling, I was transported. Even a present day entree took me away as it unfolded and then knocked me off my feet figuratively since literally I already was. The ending of Nights in Rodanthe was so unexpected. As the credits rolled along with my tears, I recalled seeing the pairing of Richard Gere and Diane Lane in Unfaithful a few years back. I reran the credits of that rental countless times so I could catch the name of a very sensuous musical number that haunted me -- Ai Du performed by Ali Farka Toure. Funny how the subtleties in movies and all around us work their way into our daily lives. The very first flick I recall seeing is The Wizard of Oz. References to this classic found their way into a spoken-word piece that appeared in the blog I posted on 12/2/09. All I can say is follow your own road brick or not and…

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

pod cast

I am under the weather. I will spare you the details except to say my hair hurts, that’s how bad it is. And what does it mean exactly to be under the weather? Where did that phrase come from? I just want to be over this. The last few days have been scary. I have no idea what symptom is coming next and what time it will make its debut. I feel like I’m under the spell of a few pods of different germs that opened in my office last Wednesday, formed an alliance and began their invasion. I breathed in that cast of characters that seemed to take over immediately manifesting as a cough. As I dressed that evening for a gala, I was unsteady on my feet as I put on my pretty and coughed. The highlight of the event was walking through a winter wonderland of carved ice that was cheerful, colorful and cold. I was coughing all the way home in the cab. The way I've been feeling, that event seems like a lifetime ago. The last few days truly have felt like the body snatchers invaded me. I've tried to console myself by mumbling that each minute of sweat, chills, insomnia, lost taste buds, nausea, dizzying headaches, and body ache not to be believed is one minute closer to wellness…yeah, right. Whoever has the pod with my healthy body in it needs to bring it back right now!

Yesterday, I sat on my couch unable to attend my own art showcase or take my annual pilgrimage to nowhere in the first snowfall of the season, one of the things I look forward to as the last leaves disappear and the wind chill dips below the freezing point. Though I was terribly disappointed, I do take consolation in the fact that there will be more snow and shows so...

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

wild women series

wild women #4 ©

wild women…

know the wizard is wicked but go behind the curtain anyway.
see the beauty in his beast
caressing his shortcomings like delicate jewels.
continue to taste flavor in his faults
even when he spits theirs back.
bring out the best in his blemishes
with a satin polishing cloth that keeps on tickin’ even after a lickin’.
speak lovingly over his pursed lips & silent ears
that turn blindly and sail up & away in a hot air balloon.
sing off key lullabies that rock his indifference to sleep
on twelve hundred count egyptian cotton barges.
are naughty cause he likes it that way
enduring all under broken promise spells of hopeful jargon
forgetting to click their heels.

know who they want what they want and when they want it
don’t mind letting him know it’s time.
simply say what they mean
mean what they say
don’t need to tell him that they are all that
‘cause he will only understand
when the green grass appears on the other side…or a house lands on his head.

wild women
give as you take
ask for nothing
know your desires before you know their names.
get it, get you, don’t get the bull
go down, get down, get up to get down
won’t hang around for the nonsense but for so long.
repairing wounded hearts with broken digits and tear soaked silk
they rebound, do go on

and they do wear red.

Though “wild women” is an ongoing poetry series written by T. Lassiter from words and ideas submitted by people from all over the world, wild woman #4 was written only by thoughts from Tina. If you would like to share your thoughts about wild women, please send them to Please include your first name and age. Your ideas may be included in a future piece. Until then…

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