keep your peepers open!

keep your peepers open!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

name tags

Over the years, my friends and I have taken to creating themes around the simplest things just for the fun of it. No matter who starts the raucous, we all fall in with our contribution to the banter, both written and spoken. Occasionally, nicknames are paired with the madness of the moment; we aspire to tag ourselves and each other with just the right one. I’ve had lots of nicknames since I was a child. My paternal grandfather had one for me that I only came to understand the meaning of when I was in college. My maternal grandparents had pet names for each of their four grandchildren that they called us until the day they each died. I still have the last birthday card my grandmother sent me 15 days before she passed; it was addressed to her Dearest Dee. This same set of grandparents also had many terms of endearment for each other that always sounded so intimate when they uttered them. I now understand that those names were derived from the intricacies of their life together, all the hurts and pleasures neatly tied up into sweet nothings. When my grandma passed, I inherited their cookbook. Amongst the worn pages of faded printed recipes are handwritten ones that they created from ingredients they liked, grocery lists and to my delight personal notes signed with nicknames that I can still hear their voices speak. Each time I open the book, they greet me from in between the sacred space of the exact two pages where they were placed by their hands.

I grow a little nostalgic thinking about my many nicknames. Each was and is distinct and lovingly individualized, nothing like this nonsense that the tabloid news shows cook up when two people form a couple. Those who take the creative license to merge a few letters of one name with a few letters of another then pronounce the new moniker to the viewing audience obviously have a little something to learn about amour. When spoken, there is no romantic or intimate ring to these tags. Ridicupid (ridiculous and insipid)? Now that’s a match made in heaven that more accurately describes the unholy matrimony of names that have no business being joined together. Let’s put them asunder people and try to remember that these folks are individual beings not a combo with names either their momma’s gave them or they selected. Use them.

Flurries were in the forecast this past weekend and the girls, who I affectionately refer to as chicklets, were planning an outing. Snow bunny names appeared quick as a bunny to replace our real signatures when each responded to the initiator of the zaniness at hand. I racked my brain for something cute, clever and fitting as flashes from the bunny trail, references to hip hop, the bunny hop and the like skipped through my head to use in the emails we would exchange in preparation for the gathering. And then it hit me…just call me snuggle bunny, or snuggle-b and hip, hop, a hippity hop, and don’t stop while you…

keep your peepers open! ®

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

down deep

The first cut is the deepest is more than the first line of a song. On Sunday I sat down to the table for the first time since October to create a collage goddess (see 9/20/09 at the table and 10/11/09 engaged stillness). It isn’t like I haven’t produced a goddess during this time lapse but making metal wild women was a whole other process that somehow never lent itself to developing a ritual like the one I practice before I start cutting. I had missed this habit of sorts so on Sunday a familiar energy pulsed through my body as I danced to the table. Lipstick applied, scent dabbed, earrings dangling, candles twinkling, I chanted a prayer, pushed play and the intoxicating voice of a chanteuse who I had only recently become acquainted with cried out, “Mi Niña Lola!” My breath quickened, quieted. Scissors firmly grasped, I made the first clip as Concha Buika, Sara Tavares, Thandiswa Mazwai and others sang words in tongue my ear could not translate but down deep were unmistakably understood. A creative trance that I recognized encircled me and just as I welcomed it in it began to taunt me. After so many months could I reconnect with whomever, whatever allows me to bring forth a being from cut up cut outs? And though I have not made one of my paper dolls in months, permission was granted…

snipped clippings
let’s try on some shoes

lovin' this crinoline

ready for my close up y'all
…oh my!

well here I am! if I had never left the table, so…

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, January 24, 2010

scratch paper

The other morning I peeked under my rice paper shade and noticed what appeared to be a flyer on my car. At second glance I noted that no other cars had one which I shrugged off as I commenced the AM routine of getting dressed for work. The leaflet was actually a hand written note from an admirer. In my days of romantic rose colored glasses, I would have been overly flattered by this gallant gesture. On this day of jaded suspicion, I still believed in romance, but the wild wise woman in me was guarded as she cracked a tickled smile and discretely looked around to see who might be watching. I gingerly plucked the note from the car careful not to deposit my own prints on the paper. If a crazed person was checkin’ my looks from a distance, the FBI might need to lift his fingerprints… I really need to ease up on my CSI consumption.

Honestly, I was a bit uneasy. I wondered what my friends would make of this so I made a few calls to both sexes. All I will say is I now have a whole new perspective on the Y chromosome. Those two appendages the stick up to the left and right must represent two spokes that can be used to poke out the eyeballs of a threatening attacker! I’m giggling while writing this but all that occurred really got me to thinking about the art form that is the written word. The person who penned this note had a most impressive hand. His letters were neat, legible, well formed. I’m not a hand writing expert, haven’t picked up too many tips from my TV sleuthing. But if anyone compared his handwriting to mine and was asked to deduce who might be the psycho they would hands down pick me. My scratch is one that any respectable chicken would deny; I really wish I could write lovely looping legible letters. Whenever I am inclined to compose a meaningful letter, I have to scroll through the fonts in Word or go online to download something that lends a personal feel to the less intimate form of typed script (my current favorite discovered just this morning is Scriptina). Somewhere I have to provide a quick explanation about my poor penwomanship and apologize for typing… way too much drama.

Calligraphy, which means beautiful writing, is an art that has called out to me on occasion. The first time was when I stumbled upon some calligraphic pens that transform my scribble into poetic scribe. In NYC, I tried my hand at Japanese brush stroke, in DC I enrolled in a class that included a lesson in Sumi-e (black ink painting); both were meditations in patience for me. The instructors of the latter lesson were impressed with my practice page as well as the two pieces I produced suggesting that I explore what could be a hidden talent in both picture and lettering. My inner critic begged to differ at the time, however as I pulled them out to photograph, that voice raised an eyebrow of praise. Perhaps the time has come for me to turn my scratch papers into decipherable scrolls. I mean if I’m ever inclined to leave a note for some cute stranger who catches my eye I wouldn’t want him to look at my scrawl, envision some nut case, then bag and tag it for the authorities so…

keep your peepers open! ®

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

distract(ed) me

I watched a very sobering program this week on distracted driving. I rarely talked on my cell when I took to the road. That earpiece, be it attached to a wire or as an extension tucked around the ear, was enough to drive me to distraction making the whole cruise and chat thing totally distracting. As for sending a text, I am still no where close to being a sophisticated texter when my feet are firmly planted on the ground let alone in a car and let’s not even discuss trying to walk and text at the same time. That said, when I purchased an I Phone my common sense flew right out the window of my sports mobile! I don’t know what in heavens name got into my head but I have attempted to text while driving on a number of occasions, certainly have held my phone in my hand, speaker feature engaged, as I engaged in conversation and the worst offense…taking pictures as I drove! After viewing the show on Monday, I found my lost mind and vow to distract me not when operating my auto.

So in case you missed Oprah, here’s a stat to consider…you are 4 times more likely to get into an accident if you drink and drive OR talk on your cell phone, you are 8 times as likely to get into an accident if you drive and text. There were three who just knew they had the whole communication in the car thing down. They swore they could text, talk and drive; a road test proved otherwise. Grieving people who lost loved ones shared their stories, those who were responsible for that grief spoke apologetically knowing full well that nothing they said could bring back the lives they took. No words can describe the horrific destruction of the vehicles involved.

Audience members wore shirts with a slogan that I can’t remember at this hour of the morning, so I wrote one myself…"when you turn on the ignition turn off the cell" and...

keep your peepers open! ® (and on the road)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

red doors

This past week I stepped through two bright red doors to attend the funeral of someone I had never met. The ritual that is a funeral service varies between cultures, religions and the request of an individual for the way they want to be acknowledged once they have passed from this life to another. More times than not, I have witnessed a celebration of sorts laced between sadness and grief, been comforted by the creative personal touches seamlessly interspersed with the more routine components of the service. From the swell of music filling the air to the small flat communion wafer to the perfumed incense used to anoint the casket, I surrendered all this past Thursday lost in the beauty that is ritual and became more acquainted with a man I would never meet; I do know that he was selfless. Each person who spoke about him said so.

Later that evening as I reflected on this word and the complex simplicity that can be ritual my phone rang. The voice of someone newly met greeted me, asked about my day. Still lost in thought, I was touched by his immediate concern for my well being, words of comfort and sympathy for those he really had no connection to, his selflessness. The next morning, I opened my first email to find that a friend donated money to the Haitian relief effort in my honor, turned on the news to learn that people from all over the world were responding to the devastation in Haiti and thought, “how many instances of putting others first with not much thought to self would be necessary to help this fourth world country of two million?”

There will be no crimson doors for those grieving to pass through to celebrate those who have passed on and for now, no rituals or ceremonies for those who perished as the focus remains on search and rescue and keeping all who survived the earthquake alive. Food and medical care are critical as precious minutes tick by and of course monetary contributions regardless of the amount are welcome. This is a moment when selflessness should trump ignorance and prejudice so open your heart, your mind and…

keep your peepers open! ®
No matter how small the contribution, the difference it makes is immense when it comes from your heart and soul.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

play date

There is something sadistic about the first day back to work after vacation. The comments of “you look rested” make me recall visiting ex-coworkers from my first real job a year after my departure. After the zillionth gasp followed by exclamations of “YOU LOOK LIKE A DIFFERENT PERSON!!!” I realized just how much stress I had worn on my face during the four years spent with that company. Then there is the catch-up factor. In previous work lives, I dreaded stacked up mail, the messages scribbled on the message pad, and items for review in my “in” box. That was tame in comparison to the hundreds of voice and e-mails waiting for me to pick them up in addition to stacked up mail, the messages scribbled on the message pad, and items for review in my “in” box. And last but not least and not really last but for now it will be is all the news that’s fit or not to print that you need to be told…and some of it ain’t that good. “Oy vey!,” I say as I plop down in my chair and try to keep that crease that erased itself last week from etching itself across my forehead less than three minutes after I walked in the door from just five days away.

Upon return from my week long holidays (don’t you just love that word instead of vacation?), I’ve learned to take five and be still before I press the re-entry buttons when I get back to the office. Closing my eyes to do a play time remix is the Botox my brow requires to keep it smooth for just a little longer and all work and no play is the mantra track rockin’ in the background. I am a player. I believe in having a good time, taking good care of myself, enjoying life with people who know how to kick it. When I am off, I’m off. I no longer log on, check in or concern my time-off-self with what I took off time to get a few days rest from. My holiday is spent playing which for me ranges from the serious to the silly. Serious play could equate to striping down to climb on the table for a hot stone massage; having a bat and ball or jacks competition leads to the silly. The in between stuff -- priceless.

When, in the game of life, is the no more play card dealt? I sit on a committee whose sole purpose is to explore ways to keep real interacting-with-other-kids play in the lives of children and often remind the adults around the table that we too need to create our own dates to play. Last evening after 48 hours of a brow raising, eye blinking return to work after a week off, I welcomed an evening of play with both old and new friends and was told there is a good time revolution brewing…and it won’t be televised!

So grab that get out of jail free card and revolt! Play hard, play often, no cheatin’ and…

keep your peepers open! ®

the above image was created by me and is entitled pleasure principal...thought that she was the perfect compliment for this topic; the photo was taken by Greg Staley

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I kicked back to watch CBS Sunday Morning and one of the stories was on books...what is it they say about great minds...

book story

I said in my 12/23/09 entry that I had a topic for another day and today is that day. My comment about being big on spoken story sharing should in no way be interpreted as me not having a penchant for written stories in book form. Certainly there has never been a shortage of these treasures with a vast variety of subjects in the homes of me or members of my family where shelves are heavily laden. My grandmother was a voracious reader who would not throw a book away. Though she tossed paperbacks into enormous plastic wastebaskets after she devoured them, she did not think of them as trash. These receptacles were chosen simply because they were large enough to contain over 300 manuscripts. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to scan the Scholastic Book Club catalogue when it came to my class making notes about what I would buy the next time (my order was always over what my allowance could afford). As a teen, my Dad grounded me. No biggie. I headed for the bookstore in Martha’s Vineyard and stocked up on reading materials that kept my nose buried in page after page from September to November. I relished receiving via snail mail the newspaper from Hamilton Books that included listings for coffee table art books at reasonable prices when I became an adult. They still send them, though not as frequently since their web site went up.

A student at Howard University, the library was a place to meet not only to study but to socialize and for some of us, dream. I spent many hours getting lost in the “stacks.” To this day I’m not sure whether it was whatever story I was traveling through or the smell of an old volume in my hands that transported me from the present moment to some other place. Thinking back, spirits seemed to be floating about maybe like the ones in City of Angels -- the angels in that motion picture lovingly moved around in a bibliothèque. Much like Carrie in Sex and the City the movie, two of my good friends, one who I have known since she was born, still prefer to visit their local library to peruse the shelves when they want to read a book instead of going online to find and buy it. Though the book Love Letters of Great Men was something fabricated for the film, that title actually does exist one created because of the movie…wonder if it’s in the library?

I miss the small cozy bookstores that closed down when the big chains came to town. One could not grab coffee and settle down to possibly stain, ruin then leave behind a book in these nooks where books were valued, treated with respect. Like the library, also performing disappearing acts in a city near you, these intimate shops sometimes had a section that housed used books with worn covers and dog-eared corners much like my copy of Winnie the Pooh that I received when I was around three and have treasured ever since. It rests on my nightstand along with contemporary jewels that light my life. I love books, witness the pile next to my bed waiting for my eyes and ears. With each page, a story of some sort tells itself and the older they are, the more stories they have to share if you…

keep your peepers open! ®

PS – If you’ve been following The Eclectic Eye you know how I feel about movie remakes. When I checked to make sure I had the correct title when referencing City of Angels, I was surprised to find that it is a remake of a classic I have never seen…maybe I’ll go to the library and sign out Wings of Desire.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ten 2 win ©

it’s twenty-ten let’s not do again
the things we no longer want to
clear your head, get your own self revved
‘cause this is the year of WIN!

in two zero ten with no chagrin
press on keep moving forward
should you feel stuck, just stand on up
and start to spin, spin, spin!

now all that spinnin’ should get you grinnin’
but if that’s not your thing
call a friend, ask them to lend
an ear in twenty-ten.

every now and then in two thousand ten
take a moment to sit and pause
say an “ommm” or three, let yourself be
and find your inner Zen.


and as we start this new decade always…

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, January 3, 2010

worry not

Call me old fashioned but on New Year’s Day I try to eat black-eyed peas and pork though I never liked those little beige beans staring at me from the pot. The smell of them cooking coupled with mushy mouth feel failed to arouse my palette much like my reaction to chitterlings (gag me!). To try and maintain some semblance of family tradition when I was grown and out on my own, I managed to find and eat just a mouthful of those legumes every January 1st. Some time in 2009, I sampled and liked a black-eyed pea salad. On the eve of 2010 I headed to the store to see if by any chance it was one of the pre-prepared selections for the holiday. My mouth watered as I strolled from one end of the glass showcase to the other but to my brief disappointment, no peas with black eyes peered from any dish in the line up. Not to worry, I cook. I would make that salad myself…if I could only remember what was in it. I was not about to waste money on a can of ready to eat b.e.peas so I figured I’d forgo tradition just this once. As I headed to the check-out after picking up some boneless pork chops from the butcher, my cart strangely jerked towards the produce aisle which I had already visited. There next to the sprouts I buy all the time sat a clear package of black-eyed peas beckoning me with a multitude of come hither glances. Fresh and quite tempting, I curiously moved in for a closer look. Only 20 minutes to cook, done!

Of course once I was back in the comfort of my abode with my comfy at home clothes on, it dawned on me that I still had no idea about the ingredients for that salad. Worried I was not. Tradition would meet technology. A few strokes across the tiny screen of my I Phone would rectify my dilemma; did not disappoint. I skimmed selections, found one to my liking then settled down to ring in 2010. New Year’s morning I poured a flute of bubbly, put the Dell on the counter, logged in to my Billie Holiday station on Pandora, and opened up the Classic Texas Caviar recipe on a screen big enough for me to easily read. Needless to say, I did not have all that was called for. No worries here. I made some substitutions putting a new spin not only on the recipe but on the way to prepare a traditional side for the feast of the first.

Keeping up traditions whether major or minor requires creativity and I don’t just mean giving a makeover to passed-down family recipes in order to appease changing tastes in food or the desire to eat healthier. Relatives aren’t always relatively close in proximity to one another, siblings marry and form new family units that again aren’t necessarily within driving distance of their first family, or loved ones have passed on. In the absence of those we grew up with, we fashion new traditions with or without a hint of the old or abandon them altogether. But it really doesn’t feel like we are too far away from folks these days because we can reach out and touch them via any number of phones, email and text photos, or look at anyone anywhere anytime live and in living color if all parties have the proper viewing capabilities. Traditions can, do and will spring up around what’s current like the conference calls with my family since several of us have the three-way calling feature on our yes we still have house phones, i.e., land lines. It’s not the old fashioned way that people stayed in touch but it is what it is which is why I hold on to intangible and tangible things from my past…they keep me connected to those no longer accessible by any means necessary.

Sure I complain about, resist and am a little slow on the up take when it comes to the electronic media but does that worry me? I think not for I am convinced there is a way to marry it to old school living so…

keep your peepers open! ®