In Memoriam: For Lillian On Her Birthday (July 9, 1925 – December 31, 2016)

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Prayer card from Lillian’s memorial service

This year I had planned to be in Savannah, Georgia at Bonaventure Cemetery spending today with you and Grandpa, preferably with my parents or one of my siblings.

You convinced me to keep writing when I wanted to give up.

You told me I could succeed.

You would have been 95 today. We celebrated our birthdays together: yours today and mine tomorrow.

At the time I thought it was weird that I didn’t have normal birthday parties. Instead, we had a big family dinner together on July 9th and then we’d do something together on July 10th. Sometimes whatever we did involved whatever children my family could scrounge together.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized this was a birthday party, just not the kind of birthday party most American kids have.

What I hadn’t realized was that every year you celebrated me being your birthday gift.

I was your surprise baby. Your impossible baby.


Impossible Baby

The story goes Mama was sick
Mama didn’t know I wasn’t the flu
A five month flu
Impossible flu

Two kids to chase
Two kids to follow

Too Sick, Too Tired
Mama didn’t know I wasn’t the flu

Doctor came in the room
Test Results Read
“Impossible”
She said

Ultrasound
Boy’s Name
Father and Grandfather
Dreams Come True
Finally
The fourth with their name

Grandmother’s Birthday
Too Early
Don’t Be Born
Baby — But
Mama can’t stop me
Born Just After Midnight
July Tenth
Belated Birthday Gift

But
That’s Not A Boy

No One Agrees:
Laraleigh – Laura
No,
Lo


Being born premature in 1989, my mother did not want to take baby pictures of me in an incubator where she could not hold me. She did not want to have pictures reminding her of what I looked like hooked up to a heart monitor and a ventilator with various IV bags flowing into me. She did not want to remember the hours and hours where she wandered around a hospital screaming because the nurses lost track of where they put me and forgot to tell her anything about my condition.

Seriously, you kids born premature after 1990 had way higher survival rates. One of the reasons my mom didn’t take baby pictures was because she was advised not to in case I didn’t live. That’s the sort of stuff women were told would be psychologically better for them in the 1980s. I swear my mother is one of the strongest women on this planet.

Because of this, I didn’t see a baby picture of me until I was 30 years old – this past February/March while visiting my parents. In the picture, I am almost 6 months old and my grandparents are holding me after my christening service at St. Matthews Church.

Christening

I didn’t see the photograph
Until age 30
Grandmother and Grandfather hold me
[The red brick of St. Matthew’s Church]
Smiling-
Laughing so hard
Their faces blur

The only baby picture

Mama didn’t want to remember:
Wires, tubes, monitors, screens

I don’t remember them either.


In my early twenties, I asked my grandmother for a picture of her and my grandfather for my birthday. I’m terrible at asking for anything, especially if it is something the logical part of my brain has deemed superfluous. What I didn’t expect was this.

It’s a picture of my grandmother and grandfather at Armstrong College in Savannah, Georgia. At the time, my grandfather, having just returned from World War II, was finishing up a Bachelors of Science in Meteorology. My grandmother taught chemistry. They fell in love with teaching, scientific progress, and each other.

They were the types of people that had trouble sitting still.

My grandmother was academically fascinated by her heritage. She honored her connection to the Douglas clan, but I would not call her proud. Often, she focused more on the deep connection it provided her to faith. Her expressions of spirituality changed so much even over the 27 and half years I knew her that it’s hard to say what she believed. What I can say is that she believed in showing endless love, patience, and understanding. We selected her favorite prayers and passages to include on the prayer cards.

Prayer cards from the memorial service for Lillian

What I want every person reading this to know is that though I have only spoken of a few moments, 91.5 years is a long time on this planet. Lillian danced through those years with a love of music, chemistry, objectivity, compassion, education, and love.

The last two gifts she gave me were her engagement ring and her last words.

My grandmother wanted to experience everything there was to experience on this planet. She liked to say, “Heaven Is Here On Earth.” She did not live an easy life – in fact, quite the opposite. Her life was by far full of emotional hardship.


The Last Memory

Restless loblolly pines
We sit
Dry docked green aluminum jon boat
He laughs with goofy faces
Old spice arms envelope me
Binocular eyes

“That’s the Hale Bopp Comet”
His voice is shimmering moonlight on bay water
His presence is my father’s smile

He still wears that 1970s brown and tan puffer jacket
A flare orange dog whistle on a braided leather cord
I taste fried fish tails
Bay water drains off the hull

My fathers hold me together
The child meant to be the fourth with their names
For that moment I belong

Together they point to stardust
Teach me constellations
How to find my way home
If I am ever lost at sea


My grandfather died in 1997 in the doctor’s office while getting dressed after a physical. He wasn’t feeling well and in between classes he managed to get seen. He didn’t make it to his afternoon lecture. In October, he would have been 100 years old.

She never remarried, but she was not broken. She mourned the loss of her best friend and celebrated his memory every chance she got. My grandfather loved fill-in-the-blank style Hallmark cards and writing her love poems. What I didn’t realize until I was a teenager was that she kept all of them and read his words every time she missed him.

Now, I find myself doing the same thing, even with her final words. My birthday buddy can never be replaced. I will celebrate her 150th birthday in 2075 just as I celebrate her 95th.

Terminal Lucidity

They said she’d never play piano again
Hematoma
Right side
CAT scan looks bad

We came to visit at the wrong moment
Right moment
The nurses couldn’t find the cell phone number
They wouldn’t let us in the room

We’d spoken to her that morning
We said we’d see her soon

You were out on the boat
Knee high in male bonding
Falling in love the only way
Our family knows how

We finally got you on the phone
But you never hung up

At 91 and a half
You and I argued
You insisted she was clear

We moved her to hospice
We prayed she’d tell us that we were wrong

Later that night
I sat alone with my other mother
She squeezed my hand
“I’m not ready”

She never spoke again.


As I conclude this memorial, I thank you for taking the time to be here with me. I recognize that it is not easy to be with someone in mourning. I recognize that it is increasingly unusual in America for people to grow up in a multi-generational child rearing situations where they and their siblings form these close bonds. Because of this, real family, the family that sticks by you and unconditionally loves you, will be my first priority in life for as long as I live. That’s what we were taught by our grandparents and our parents. I hope that this is a legacy my siblings and I can carry on.

With that, I close this with love to all members of my family.

“A good name is to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold” – Family Motto / Proverbs 22:1

Announcement: Affiliate Relationship With Happy Givers NPO

Who Are The Happy Givers?

This mug may have been one of the items that won me over. You can buy it through their website here. That’s an example of where you’ll see the affiliate link with an asterisk*

I am now an affiliate of The Happy Givers NPO, the store that supports The Happy Nonprofit. I receive 10% of the return from purchases through my website using my link. I don’t expect to make a lot of money off of it, but I do expect it to draw more attention to this organization.

I recognize that they are a Christian belief based organization. I do not believe partnering with them is in any way conflicting with my ethics. Good advice comes from many places and I agree with the messages that they are trying to spread. I have had additional sets of eyes examine their foundational values to make sure I did not miss anything. They promote the same values of inclusivity, love, and kindness I uphold and find valuable in uncertain times.

"Say Their Names" #BlackLivesMatter Unisex Tee
This is their t-shirt here. I did not use my affiliate link for this one.

As of right now the majority of efforts are going toward supporting COVID-19 relief efforts in Puerto Rico. For those that are unaware, Puerto Rico is still suffering due to the failure of the U.S. Government to provide adequate disaster relief after the hurricanes that hit the islands. To find out more about what the organization is doing, you can visit https://www.happynpo.com/community-kitchen/.

Why Do You Not Donate Directly?

I do and I have been for some time now. What pushed me over the edge to accept an affiliate relationship was when I was looking at the phone case that I ordered a while back.

Here’s that affiliate link again.

All of the products you will ever see are those I am actually using and wearing. You will never see a product mentioned that I am not personally using. I purchase these products without provocation. At the bottom of any article where a picture and link is featured will be a link back to this post and the notation at the bottom of the article that the post contains an affiliate link to their website. I like to put this in bold for the purpose of transparency. You will also see the “affiliate” tag and “The Happy Givers” related tags.

Will You Be Partnering With Additional Companies?

I only plan to be financially partnered and affiliated with nonprofit organizations, or companies that significantly contribute to nonprofit organizations, that I have thoroughly vetted on a case by case basis. These companies or organizations must align with my values. If at any point I find out that they do not, after accepting an affiliate relationship, I will discontinue said relationship and adjust my website accordingly. Part of my vetting process is to avoid that.

Why Now?

There are a number of reasons any website begins having affiliate relationships. I’ve been trying to find ways of making my website self sustainable without ads and it looks like affiliate links may be the best substitute. I’d like to remove ads again someday, so if this method is successful I look forward to an ad free experience to share.

As mentioned above, I am interested in promoting the work that The Happy Givers are doing. They run a children’s home in Peru called Casa de Paz, disaster and COVID-19 relief efforts in Puerto Rico, and an adoption fund called Project Next to help families afford the adoption process.

For more information on The Happy Givers, you can reach out to them via:

Email: info@thehappygivers.com

Mail: 1104 Palma Dorada. Vega Alta. PR. 00692

Lo Is Domestic AF: Passive Aggressive Smashed Blueberry Lemon Scones

Smashed Blueberry Lemon Scones with a pot of Whittard's Chelsea Garden White Tea

Recipe Inspiration

There is a lot to unpack here and domesticity is something that generally comes with a focus on the family, right?

Today, we’re making gluten free dairy free Smashed Blueberry Lemon Scones.

The “passive aggressive” got added in there because a lot is happening in the United States right now. There are a couple wrong turns with this recipe. I’ll admit that it’s an invention based on this one I created in a way similar to that story about the Ship of Theseus.

All of what’s happening right now in the United States though? That’s where I got distracted today. There’s a lot. I’m trying to hold back because my words here aren’t the ones you should be listening to. Listen to the disenfranchised that are trying to make their voices heard.

Screen grab of https://slate.com/ (10:15PM MT) News & Politics Section

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ingredients and Supplies

If you’re going to make this recipe with me, you’re going to need to gather some ingredients – no specific brand should be necessary:

  • Frozen Blueberries (Costco sells big bags)
  • Lemon Juice (There’s a theme here)
  • Cup for Cup Gluten Free Baking Flour (I use Namaste from Costco)
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Stevia In The Raw or equivalent (I’m not sponsored, but I might have a Costco problem)
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Almond Milk (Okay, we’re calling it a Costco solution)
  • Coconut Oil (Costco non-polar solvent)
  • 1 Egg
  • Vanilla Extract

Supplies To Grab:

  • 1 Large Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Medium Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Small Mixing Bowl
  • 1 9″ Round For Your Great Idea
  • 1 18-muffin baking tin
  • Muffin tin liners
  • Whisks
  • Measuring cups / Kitchen Scale
  • Measuring spoons

While you look for those, I’m letting Jacob takes over. [You will continue to see Jacob’s thoughts in italics]

It’s weird how normal everything seems here, in Montana. I worry about the future of the United States and I have absolutely no idea of what that means to me, to us, here. The steady increase in violence from our government is terrifying. I wonder when it will reach here (or if, but I wonder if that’s too hopeful). But we’re in a low population density state. I can’t yet decide if I’m glad or disappointed that everything that’s going on is so far away.

Namaste flour blend, wet and dry ingredients, bowls, whisk, masher, baking supplies, etc.

If you’re following along, then you may have noticed that we have liquid ingredients and dry ingredients. I bet you can guess what I’m about to do next.

For your dry ingredients combine the following:

  • 2 cups (0.47 l) of the gluten free flour blend
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp (75 g) stevia in the raw (or whichever baking stevia)

I whisk those together until evenly distributed and get distracted again.I want the protesters to return home safe and alive at the end of this storm. Refocus. Regroup.We have liquid ingredients too. Whisk together almond milk, lemon juice, vanilla, and egg.

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) almond milk

You may see something that looks a little like curdling. It’s almond milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract and egg. Don’t freak out. Keep calm and carry on, etc.

Measure out 1/2 cup (120 mL) of coconut oil (soft and pliable, not hard), then look everywhere for your pastry cutter. Once you find it, cut the coconut oil into your blended flour mixture until homogeneously incorporated. While I’m doing that, I definitely got distracted again.

I’m Distracted Again.

I keep reading about the violence and the destruction of these places I know and am from.

As a Virginian and a former resident of the city of Richmond, I’m okay with the statues put up by the Daughters of the Confederacy being toppled. Make sure to check out everything else they’ve funded there too in their efforts to glorify the former capital. I hear protesters succeeded in getting the major to agree to remove that obelisk in Birmingham.

Statues and museums can be replaced by new, better statues and museums that discuss the same history. Maybe these new ones won’t be meant to remind an entire portion of the population that white people still have power in the South.

I don’t consider those protesters violent.

They are not taking life, and they are not injuring anyone.

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3181002298674653&set=a.111248442316736
This pretty much sums up my some of my opinions.

Wait, what are those protesters doing?

They’re calling for the destruction of the property of a racist group of mental troglodyte white women that have been financially linked to the KKK and of other monuments to the glorification of the Antebellum Era. They’re destroying the property of the same people that ensured my parents had to explain that it was called “Martin Luther King Jr. Day”, not “Jackson Lee Day”. They’re destroying the property of the same people that earned property/money through slave labor, then retained it after the Civil War. As far as I can tell, that means that any protester descended from a slave is therefore destroying property that is theirs by inheritance.

If they succeed, they will be making the South a place I want to move home to.

Just. Saying.

We’re Making Scones, Right?

We slowly pour and cut in the liquid ingredients until a homogenous dough is formed. Now measure out heaping cups of frozen blueberries.

This is when I read multiple stories about the police initiating violence with unarmed peaceful protesters. I read about the police killing David McAtee – a man who was well known for feeding them for free. I get distracted by the Rose Garden speech and get hit by nausea. I am reminded of how the police initiated violence against Virginia State Delegate Lee Carter of the 50th District during a peaceful protest. My friends and family (and their businesses) are right there, and I am so far away. I think of my friends that I worry about every day because Virginia police pull them over regularly for driving while black.

I miss the days when it felt like, over time, the world was becoming a better place.

Scones. Focus.

Using a wooden spoon smash the blueberries in as I gently mixed them into the scone dough.

I tried not to destroy them, but during my distraction the blueberries melted. I try to form them.

Next I have my round pan ready to form my scones. Supposedly, I do this by transferring everything to the pan, then cutting it with a knife after it has sat in the freezer for a bit.

Baking The Scones

I prepare the pan by cutting out parchment.

I put the pan in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to help it firm up.

I give up on the first idea after transferring all the dough into the pan. I have no idea how I’m going to separate it with a knife. I try, and I fail. Then I realize that I forgot to preheat the oven.

The blueberries are melting more – they are weaker than before – the thin blue wall around their exterior is failing them.

I re-smash the blueberries and scone dough into a muffin pan with muffin liners. They’re still scones – they’re not round scones or nice looking scones.

They’re downright disaster scones for a downright disaster of a day, a week, a month, a year?

They bake at 400 F (204 C) until golden brown. This was about 25 minutes in a gas oven (non-convection setting).

Glazing The Scones

We finish these off with a lemon glaze. 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and accidentally pour the remainder of your bag of powdered sugar into the bowl because… oops.

Stir until no clumps remain.

Stir that up

I served them up with Whittard’s Chelsea Garden tea. This is one of my favorite teas and comforts me because I tend to prefer floral and citrus flavors.

What would I do differently next time?

Use canned coconut cream instead of coconut oil.

To lighten the mood Jacob has a joke to share:

What’s the difference between a hippo and a zippo? One’s really heavy, and the other is a little lighter.

Verdict? At least the scones and tea taste good. Next time: gluten free dairy free pesto risotto with black caviar. Jacob and I will leave you with a teaser of our next dish, warm wishes, and thoughts.

Be compassionate. Be safe. I support you and I hear you. Black Lives Matter.

FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK

ALL LIVES DON’T MATTER UNTIL THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT FEEL THEIR LIVES ARE AT RISK AT ALL TIMES BY BEING ALIVE IN THIS COUNTRY MATTER.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER

What did you think of this installment of Lo Is Domestic AF? Are you planning to try out this scone disaster and improve upon it? If you do, I hope you don’t get as distracted. If you would like to see more of these, please comment below or like this post.