All my favorite things in one!

11 06 2015

Hey y’all. So awhile back I took a photo of a statue in Birmingham and shared it on instagram with the caption where in the ham am I? I was at Linn park and the statue was a small reproduction of lady liberty. This statue gets no recognition because there is a more well known statue of lady liberty in Birmingham on 459. Anyway, my mom loved the idea and told me then and there I needed to start a book. That’s a huge undertaking but I’ve been slowly collecting the material to do so. Last week she returned from a vacation that involved seeing a lot of graffiti/street art that had social media tags attached to them. She told me that instead of a book I needed to do a blog for this Birmingham centric seek-and-find. Well you do what momma says. I took it a step further though and have blended the idea with my extensive knowledge of Birmingham history and trivia. The result is WhereintheHam. Thought y’all might be interested in the new project so I’m passing it on to you. Hope you enjoy!




12 02 2013

Community… not to be confused with the awesome TV show by the same name, is defined by Merriam-Webster as:  “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.” One of my favorite poets, John Donne, has a few words to say on the subject. You’ve probably heard it before but read it again.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

One of my favorite Biblical passages can be found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 whhiiiich states:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

No one should live their lives on their own. Sure it can be done. And solitude is a blessed thing to escape to every now and then. BUT it’s not healthy as a permanent situation.

One person has the power to change the world. But TWO people, two people don’t double those odds, they more than double them. Basically the influence of  1+1=10.

One can create a community. You’re probably a part of several without fully realizing it. Your family, co-workers, church group, bingo partners, college classroom,  knitting club, gamer enclave …etc. You have influence in these circles. But just as importantly, they have a strong influence on you. I have several jobs and full time school. I’ve been in a lot of social situations. However these communities were not life giving. This kinda left me out on a limb. Working and going to school and working and going to school with some power naps in-between. I was around people all day long but the social interaction was very draining. Creative juices ebbed. Something had to change.

So I seized what bare-bones spare time I have to involve myself with others in what I consider two very important areas of my life. 1. My faith. 2. writing.

I’ve joined a new Bible study. It’s awesome! I only knew one person in the group to begin with but it’s a fantastic group of ladies, we’ve all connected and I’m loving it. We are studying the book of Daniel, which to be honest has a lot more to it than I’ve picked up on in my previous readings. Reckon that’s why they call it a Bible study. Anyway we’re using Beth Moore’s Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophesy. It’s all about being culturally relevant without becoming spiritually irrelevant. And it has been such a blessing.

The second community is my poetry group. And as I promised to you in a previous post here I am telling you more  about it, or rather us. I recall telling you that we now call ourselves the Jones Valley Poetry Company. I even set us up a cool new blog site which I will now shamelessly promote. Check us out at Boom. Now that’s where it’s at. We started out just attending poetry class together studying under the incredible teacher I’ve mentioned before, Adam Vines. But then we started hanging out together. And poetry infused all of our meetings. Things just kinda went from there. We’re a fairly diverse group, however, our love of poetry and the city of Birmingham (which resides in Jones Valley) binds us together. We’re working towards cultivating love for these two topics within the Magic City (which has so much potential yet is widely misunderstood. Birmingham is trying to change it’s stereotype. A lot of times it gets a bad report. Don’t get me wrong it does reside within the top ten most violent cities within the US. And it by no means is the most gorgeous city out there. It has more the rustic or rather rusty charm about it. But against all odds, it’s trying. And we’re gonna help as much as we can.)

Communities, when faced with a common challenge/goal, get things done. When there are people there to support and encourage you, laugh when you laugh and cry with you when the world busts you in the face… it’s this human interaction that builds a home, a nation a world.

My communities are important to me. Be it my family, best friend, close friends, church family, writing group… they all have influence over who I am and how I’m interacting with the world. And Lord willing we’ll produce fruits that will touch and influence the lives of others.

That’s all for today,


Alien Baby: The story of my sister who turned out not to be an extraterrestrial

18 02 2012

*   *   *

When my mom proudly announced to my 5 year old self that she was pregnant, I was of course excited. I had been wanting a sibling. I had already had a dog for two years and that had gotten old. I was an only child and it was time to bring along my live in playmate. Someone I could play cowboys and Indians with. Who would help me expand my gravel rock collection and climb trees with me. It was time for the world to bring along a brother. For yes, of course it would be a brother. No one in their right mind would question it. I had thought once before that I was this fortunate. My mother wound up in the hospital and me and Grandma went for a visit. She took me down to the baby ward where I selected my blue swaddled brother-to-be. He came prewrapped and I was all ready for the responsibility of being an older sister. To my flabbergasted astonishment I was informed we were not here to pick up my sibling but rather because my mom had to have an appendix removed, whatever THAT was…

Anyway, the universe had finally made amends. This time I was guaranteed big sister-ship. “You’re getting a sister Halley.” My parents tried to tell me. Ah what did they know about it anyway? Everyone huddled around a developed blob of static cooing and exclaiming how beautiful she was.



Oh man were they mistaken. It was a boy. Didn’t they know that? They touted that it WAS a girl. The “photo” said so. But honestly I didn’t see how anyone could tell that from a checkerboard Polaroid. I mean really, if we were going by what the “photo” said then I was big sister to a bulbous alien with a rope flapping out its belly.

“That’s just the umbilical cord Halley….”

‘Right… Sure…’

Anyway, it was clear that the validity of this photograph was to be questioned. I was either getting an alien or a brother.

January 24th 1997 8lbs 2oz my baby sister was welcomed into the world. I am relieved to announce that she came out pink, screaming and 100% human. Who woulda thunk it? I had a 50/50 chance of scoring a brother and the universe had cheated me again. It’s been 15 years since my sister’s birth and don’t get me wrong I’m very thankful for her existence and love her very much. However, next time, if there happens to be a next time, I most undoubtedly assure you I will be graced with a brother.  I figure things come in 3s and a third times a charm. Just you wait…


2 02 2012

My father doesn’t wear his wedding ring. For some reason that’s never been unnatural for me. Yet for some reason whenever I see a couple in public who are obviously together and the woman has nice bling-bling on her left yet the man has none… I instantly think “scandal,” which is ridiculous. I mean I’m sure most married men have a perfectly good, faithful reason to not wear their wedding bands. In the case of my Dad, he’s a pilot. So what? You think. Well he’s not just any sort of pilot, he’s kinda like a limo driver of the air. This requires that he loads all of his hoity toity customer’s bags. One of which caught on his ring years back (back when he actually use to wear it,) and nearly ripped his finger off. From then on he determined to wear it only on special occasions, anniversaries, mother’s day, Mom’s birthday… things of that nature. It was always weird to see its appearance. I’ve only seen it a select number of times. Its gold and along each side there is a small row of dots. I remember seeing the way Dad would clench his hand randomly during the times he had it on. He is not as thin as he was when he was married and the ring has never been resized. He has a bit beefier fingers than he used to and the ring cuts circulation off. He doesn’t complain thought. He knows how much wearing the ring means to Mom. Though he may hide all sorts of discomfort while actually wearing the ring there is no way for him to hide how difficult it is for him to get it back off again. He stands there by the dresser, fingers slathered with a thick layer of coco-butter, tugging and pulling at that darn ring. His lips purse together until they disappear and he holds his breath until his face turns red and that one vein pops out on the side of his forehead. He’s not a man easily bested and so he always gets the ring off again. And again it will go back into the top drawer of the dresser for safe keeping until the next special event. That’s how it’s always been with my father, his thus and so attitude has always made sure there is a place for everything and everything must be in place… except for maybe when it comes to the frigerator.
Where items are kept in the fridge has been and probably will be the longest lasting argument between my parents. Mom loves to cook (and she’s and excellent one at that) and the kitchen is her workshop. All of her tools must be where she left them (and with as many times as we’ve moved it took months for us kids to retrain ourselves in unloading the dishwasher,) and the contents of the fridge qualify as “tools.” Whenever Dad uses the fridge he just throws things where there is a space, I know this because I’ve watched him, and me and my sister got tired of being blamed for his misgivings. And boy does his flippant nature set Mom off. I’m telling you if the pickles wind up where the mayonnaise goes then its World War III and you had better duck and cover. She will rant on and on about how she doesn’t go into his shop and rearrange his tools (which is a HUGE pet peeve of his) so then why in heaven’s name would he rearrange her fridge?! For all her shouting and ranting though, it never does any good. She’ll rearrange the fridge again, make sworn threats about how it would be the last time and how whoever set it out of sorts would be the one condemned to fix it. Of course this bothered my father none “She can just get over it,” he would say. It didn’t please me and my sister at all. I mean we had no problem putting things back where we found them. But you know if you’re putting something back where it was when it was already out of place to being with… you get confused as to whether you should put it back where you think you know it goes or where you actually got it from. And Lord help the person who stands there with the door open weighing ones options, for inevitably Momma would round the corner and see you cooling the world and then you were in for it all over again. That’s the way it is with Momma. And everybody knows when Momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy, which made me wonder why my Dad continually tried to push his luck. Because if it wasn’t the fridge she was ranting about, then it was the stupid woodpile.
I can’t tell you how many times our family has had to move this huge and I do mean HUGE stack of drying tinder. It was a take none of us women folk looked forward to. Why couldn’t he just find a place to put it and keep it there we would ask of Daddy. His reply to us would be along the lines of “Come on Shaniqua, come on Sha-nay-nay, Po’ Lazarus needs yo help in da field.” Dad likes to listen to old southern chain-gang chants and he preferred to think of us as his little slave hands while he was master of the plantation. Mom eventually got to the point where she refused to help anymore. Which left me and my sister to tromp out into the “field” and help him move stacks of firewood covered with lichen and creepy crawlies. Now I didn’t mind the creepy crawlies so much. And I didn’t mind the black widows. Black widows are easy to identify and easy to squish. Brown recluses I mind though. They like to disguise themselves as harmless wolf spiders, however one kiss from a brown recluse and the next thing you know half your body is rotting off and your life is on the line. I’m all moved out now. I don’t have to move that stupid woodpile anymore. Just the other day my Daddy called to tell me he missed me, (which is unheard of because he’s not one of those voice-your-feelings kind of man.) Needless to say I was surprised.
“Yeah?” I had said.
“Yeah…” he replied. “I miss my slave hand. Now I don’t have anyone to help me move the woodpile.” From this I gathered that my sister had finally given up and given in the towel. It was nice to be missed, even if it was Shaniqua’s brute strength he was referencing. I smiled to myself, glad that I was on the phone so he couldn’t see me.
“Well now,” I told my Daddy, “ I guess it finally found its place.”
“Yeah, “he said. “I guess it did.”

%d bloggers like this: