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Now, at 90, my place in family history
I am the oldest living man or woman in my family. It has been the women living, triumphantly, out living their men and some children. The loss of children is unbearable. Now that I have lost my son, I grieve in silence as my aunt must have. And for those children unborn.

The women on my mother’s side were those who have aged the best. Grancy holds the prize. At 100 plus she survived slavery, segregation, birthing thirteen known children and everything in between. She was born Adeline in NC about 1833. Her mother may have been Portia and her father a Crump. They were slaves of the Crump family. When Adeline was 5, they were transported to a plantation in Holly Springs, MS. 
Her first child, Josephine, was fathered by a Crump when Adeline was 13. A total of 8 children were born before Grancy was loaned to Ephraim Talbot. He and his brother, Francis, had moved to Holly Springs from MA in 1840 to open pharmacies. Ephraim’s wife died leaving him with two young boys.
Grancy was rented, probably to live in and care for the sons. Her daughter Josephine had ben living with the William Strickland family since age 9. He was a prominent lawyer, no relation to my gradfather. There she was the nurse maid to their infant daughter, Perle.
Four children were fathered, born while Grancy lived with the Talbots: Victor (1860),Annie (1862), Adeline and William.
These four youngest children were educated at Rust College paid for by their father? Ephraim. Grancy had big responsibilities as Ephraim also ran a pharmmacy in Memphis, TN. He spent a great deal of time there running Talbot and Yates pharmacy and his slave holdings. Grancy managed the the household and his slaves in Holly Springs.
As the Civil War heated up and Memphis businesses were in danger, Ephraim returned to MS and two of Grancy’s children were born as the war ended.
My grandmother, Annie Talbot, became a school teacher at 18. She married my grandfather when they both graduated from Rust College. Annie took her mother everywhere she lived. In Little Rock, AR, El Paso and Houston, TX, Wilberforce, OH where she taught in colleges, and finally Detroit, MI.
Annie and William Strickland married when they both graduated from Rusr College. While my grandfather studied medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, the family lived in Little Rock, AR where my grandmother taught in high schools and colleges. My mother Velma and Aunt Unita taught school also.

I ssay Grancy lived longer than any other family member because records were not kept at the time to clearly state births. The names of Crump slaves were recorded on arrival in MS. Grancy herself said she remembered 100 years and the presidents who served in her lifetime. 

Unita lived to be 101 as active then as ever. She worked for the government in Detroit. She followed the tradition of caring for her mother until her death. My great aunt, Adeline (Aunt Addie) Morris lived to be 92. She taught at Rust College and was a political powerhouse in KC, KS.

And now it is a puzzle to be resolved in the future. The statistics for me are good. I never was a smoker. I did not drink alcohol until my late forties and I have an active, quirky mind. So, will it be the tortoise or the hare?

Sent from my iPad

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The Chair

The Chair
She sat most days in that chair on the porch. Like everything around, it never really seemed.old. It must have been put there on that porch, in the same place by Grancy. Neither she nor the chair would have been young at the time.
It is placed to catch just enough sun and shade. Sitting there, you never get too hot to stopping shelling peas nor too cold to go inside. Each woman of the house shaped that chair. You could feel the tiny form of Grancy. Each generation a bit larger made its own form, blurring the harder edges under them. It took years to mold the seat to fit each larger bottom.
Sitting in the chair, you can must look up to see the interstate. Its wall dead ends the street so everybody who passes by speaks. Some come to the steps to look toward the chair. These are the gossipers, salesmen, mostly men with eager eyes. Not so often now, when they learn the girls are grown, living on their own.
The chair stays on the porch. It is smooth and dark as are the women who sit there. Enough happens in front of them that the newsboy never stops. All the stories are shared more with chair than either lady. Its like it has been in the same exact spot for over 100 years. One woman sits there as if she has become royalty and the chair is her throne. It will be hers as long as she is able to get up in the morning. 
And the chair now is occupied with the great-grand daughter. She stares over the railing of the porch. A few brown and near brown children play in the hot dusty street. It is summer and they come out early. Their parents are asleep. Most count on someone in the chair will keep them quiet. 
A few sharply dressed women head for the dead end which traps all on this street. A path through one unfenced yard is the only escape to the bus stop. Their stride, more plodding than teetering. Their good heels, carefully wrapped in tissue, lie next to their umbrella in oversize handbags. A few have only a shopping bag. These women work as house cleaners, child and health care workers. The factories closed years ago.
The only real sounds are from the flowing rush hour cars above the wall. It is mid -morning before the gawking eyed men come to the steps with gossip. Who is sleeping with whom? Why the eighteen year old boy at the corner hasn’t been seen? He was in jail for a week before he died. Who is making, selling or using drugs. 
Nothing ruffles the mood in the chair. The rhythm of shelling peas never stops. The stories are always the same. . But yesterday was different. Sirens, banging and speed on top of the wall, just as sunlight faded. It changed everything. 
For once, the chair was empty for something other than chores or church. No one took her place. The siren and flashing lights lit up the air. A huge SUV tumbled side over side, front over back, end over end down the wall into the dead end street. 

Looking up, you could just see the top of a long truck. And parts of cars on top seem caught in the concrete as the car descended the wall. It drew a crowd because no one ever knew what went right or wrong on top where cars raced at rush hour. In the crowd were the children. A few on bikes. A few mothers with toddlers quickly left the bloody scene. “Bedtime”they said gathering them close.

As always the gawking men had started the evening with a few drinks. They ran back and forth as a telegraph service. Women were coming back from work. At first, no one knew what to do. A man, the driver, got out easily. He seemed uneasy facing the crowd and hearing the sirens of police, fire and ambulance. This was going to be a new story.
“Get the chair.” She ordered one of the larger boys. The chair! It had never moved off its spot on the porch for over a hundred years.
Some one was needed to settle the man. Some one to decide what was needed. Others in the car had to be checked until an ambulance could come. It was amazing anyone survived. Then she said to a crowd “Let us pray,” And they did. 
Suddenly the driver got up out of the chair, confessing his sins to her, sharing how it happened he found himself falling in a large SUV over a wall into their very laps. The police came first. The wrecker cleared most of the SUV except what remained on the wall, An ambulance arrived last. It got lost because ever since the interstate came, the street was an alley. All the people in the car rode out in the ambulance.
She took her chair. She put in its place on the porch as near as she could remember. Then she sat down as someone always did, She was royalty and the chair was her throne.

Sent from my iPad

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Nell Irvin Painter

Nell Irvin Painter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women of Ideas

Shout out to bloggers I have learned from on WordPress and other sites.

Sue Healy is an accomplished writer who shares her successes and disapointments. Recently she wrote about ideas that come from news items. It made me think about the sources of inspiration that remain on my List(s) Of Things To Do. Those ideas get moved from list to list. Lists serve as reminders and guilty feelings.

Sue suggests ways to alter news information to make it your own. Visual artists can use photographs etc. as source material.  Always respect copyrights, real or implied. Make your own vision and style.

This post made me think that ideas are just a start. The writer who does not write produces thoughts. He or she (me) must do the work to bring thoughts to life. You may not wish to fail. But who will know your vision? I tell myself, “Don’t count yourself out.” Publishing, exhibiting or sales are not the only judgements of worth. It is the doing that should satisfy.

A woman blogger, booksbyjudith, is working many angles to produce and share her talent. She writes books in series. This trend is based on an idea that if you read one, you are likely to read others. Like television series: you make time for the characters if you like them.

What nuggets started me on various Women Series? The large women started using square canvases. The idea: What poses do women use in their work? Can you fill the canvas with the image.

The Women Who helped Desegregate Transportation came from Sojourner, by Nell Painter. In it she describes scenes of conflict Sojourner Truth had on trolleys in D.C. I was reminded of similar experiences.

The current series Women Who Dressed as Men may never be completed. Each month research suggests more interesting subjects. The idea began when online searches turned up Deborah Sampson as a subject to paint. In 10 years in MA, I had never heard of her!

Try not to get lost in idea-farming if you want to write, paint, photograph etc. Balance thought with completed works. When you have done your best, date, sign and share. Start a new project knowing that you are continuing to learn. In time your body of work will stand on its own, and may inspire others.

Who knew?

The greatest compliment may be, “My child can do better than that.”

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by Bettye W. Harwell

encaustic wax with rice paper

The circle is the purest shape. It is the earth we live on and the space we are enclosed by. The human body can be recognized by the many circles that compose it. Our mother’s womb to her protective arms encircle us whether in reality or in our memories.

We may have to look at our fathers for the circles a bit harder, but like the earth, he is the symbol of protection. His circles may, like the mothers’, enclose and exclude. By keeping the bad stuff at bay, the child in us feels safe.

At least that is what should happen. We play at night with the shadows on the bedroom walls knowing that the morning will come again. We can cry in our pillow and yet, by morning be refreshed, ready to be IN the circle or to BE the circle.

Nurturing can be observed with the mother bird in the porch light. She does not go far from the gently swaying chicks. If danger comes, her flight diverts the danger but soon she is back to feed and comfort the little ones.

And sometimes you can observe the father bird! He sits on top of the fixture, he is wary of changes from the outside that might endanger the young. He listens to the mother singing to and with her babies.

Who knew?

Each year, this cozy spot provides a place to nest, the perfect circle.

Mother Bird

Mother Bird

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