Sometime I Have These Dreams

Calico_Shore-2560x1440-16x9

Dreamscape – By Zeke

Sometime I have these dreams where I’m trying like crazy to get someplace. The setting is usually in or around a university. Either I can’t get to my classes or my dorm room or can’t find my car or leave my bag behind. I climb stairs that abruptly ends. I walk corridors long as roads, and enter doors that lead everywhere except where I need to be. Sometime I end up in restrooms with filthy overflowing commodes. I watch others enter and leave. I search for a clean stall but behind every door is a sight not for the meek of heart.

In one I’m desperately trying to get to my classes because my grades are on thin ice, but there’s nothing I can do. I see myself walking, feet striking the concrete, passing buildings, passing other students, passing classrooms filled with students, entering offices, stairwells that empty into yet more corridors, but none leads me to where I should be.

What does it mean? To find a clue, I look up the definition of dream? A series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep, is what one Google search turned up. According to that definition I suppose I could sum it all up and say my life is an overflowing sewer going nowhere. My frustration and the panicky feeling of running out of time are quite evident in these stories that vexes my dreams to near nightmare.

As if the classroom, dorm and restroom scenarios aren’t bad enough, there are times I can’t find my car. In these dreams, the parking lot is a huge island that includes parking decks and outside parking spaces neatly segmented, cluttered with vehicles. Again, I’m going to where I believe my car to be, but it’s not and thus begins the never-ending search. I swear in these dreams I walk my legs off without breaking a sweat.

In my last car search dream I meet a female. She’s short with black curly hair beneath a Carolina blue ball cap and she’s wearing this jersey that hangs midway on her chunky thighs. It’s chilly out. She’s wearing a dark denim jacket with that jersey dangling like a skirt. I’m standing in front of this huge old church that shadows the entire block. I’m heading up the steps hoping to find someone who can point me to a shortcut.  I’ve strayed so far from that humongous parking lot it’s not even funny.

I’m eyeing the building and out of the corner of my ever-vigilant eye notices she’s watching me like some bird of prey.  I thought I would be spared after she’d stated her case to a lady who’d shook her head and continued on to the daycare attached to the church. Before I can go in the opposite direction, she swoops. “Mam, mam,” she calls out.  She’s in my face, not making eye contact but not hanging her head either. “I’m pregnant can you help me out?” My eyes glide downward but the getup gives nothing away. Still I dig a hand full of coins out of my slouch bag and give them to her. She’s in luck because in some of these dreams I leave my bag behind and have to go in search for it.

“Thank you mam,” she says, taking off like she expected me to ask for my money back. “Make sure you feed that baby,” I call and for the first time she looks at me does a little thing with her neck, almost like a turtle cringing toward its shell, as if to say you are lost. Who the hell are you to tell me anything? Done with me she enters a trail in a heavily treed park just a walk across the church’s asphalt and soon it swallows her whole.

The wooden medieval door won’t budge. A fire breathing dragon could’ve been behind there for all I knew. That’s how quick I high-tailed it from there. A cobblestone walkway leads up to more doors. Before I’d gotten halfway a man walks out to me.  He says if I’m looking for the group that they’d gone for the day. I thanked him and stood in the shadow of that great church looking up. A cold wetness spatters on my forehead. A storm is brewing.  I still myself against the elements and wonder which way to go. Then I wake up and relief floods out the frustration and growing panic because thank God it was just a dream.

Advertisements

Moin Moin Memories of Nigeria

Greetings and thanks to all who took time to drop by my little blog last year, all 8,000+ of you, lol. I started the blog in March or April or something like that which averaged about 1,000 views a month give or take. Trusty WordPress gurus crunched the numbers and came out with this:600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views. Again, thanks everybody. Now that I’ve stuck a foot in to test the water, I’m going to dive on in.

MOIN MOIN MEMORIES OF NIGERIA

When I was a college student many moons ago, I dated a guy from Nigeria, actually we lived together for a couple of years, but that’s another story. I was raised in small towns in Eastern NC. If you ever traveled 64 East back in the day, chances are you passed through one of those ‘if you blink you’ll miss it’ places of my youth. Other than work and more work, there wasn’t a whole lot for a sharecropper’s daughter to do. Of course I watched the two or three channels the tv picked up. But when I picked up my first lit book somewhere between the age of 4 and 5, I was in love. I traveled to exotic places and saw so many things through the eyes of the characters in the stories I read.

By the time I started college, this small town girl felt like a sophisticated world traveler. So naturally when I met my Nigerian prince that accent had me at ‘hello’. We met in a laundromat of all places. Right then and there I told him the good parts of my life story. I told him about my grand pop so naturally that meant we had to move in together.

Watching him with his friends, listening to them speak in their native tongue or ‘broken’ or whatever it was when they didn’t know each other’s language, was a real treat initially. Overtime it got annoying. I found it rather rude especially when they did it in my presence. It wasn’t like they didn’t speak English. The most interesting thing though was when they ate that big ol’ ball of dough. At least that’s what I called the fufu they communally dipped into a usually slimy stew or soup made with okra, tomato sauce, dried fish, chicken, and all else.

Sometime during get-togethers they invited me to partake of the cuisine, but no way could I bring myself to eat what was essentially bisquick and water turned into dough. Not to mention I didn’t find several people dipping into the same sauce appealing if you know what I mean. To their credit, I never saw anyone double-dip the fufu, but no one wiped between fingertips either. To meet them halfway, I sometime took a serving of soup or stew in a small bowl, which very often was quite delicious.

The two years we co-habitated he did most of the cooking. My idea of a meal was grabbing a burger, making a sandwich, or occasionally eating the Colonel’s fried chicken, biscuits and cole slaw. Although I tried to make his African cuisine it never came out right. But there was this one dish I promised myself I would make someday. I’d tried it at another one of their many gatherings. It was made with black-eyed peas without the eyes. They called it moi-moi or moin-moin.

Recently, a local television station featured the dish one weekend and put the recipe on their site. I missed all but the tail end of the show but went in search of the recipe. It looked darker than what I remembered. Nor did I recall a boiled egg being in there. But memory can and do get foggy over the span of years so who knows.

With a hard copy of the recipe safely within the confines of my cluttered handbag, I took to the big box store. The small bag of black-eyed peas had been soaking for nearly six hours or so when it occurred to me the eyes and hull had to come off the things. The recipe said they would rub off. The two I picked up out of what looked like zillions of soaking beans didn’t rub off too easily. Now I’m remembering why it’s taken all these years for me to attempt the recipe.

A Nigerian, a beautiful nutmeg-hued sister, told me that night how she’d rubbed the eyes out and pureed those peas to the consistency of squash baby food. I remember staring at two large turkey size tinfoil pans of moi-moi. That was a lot of black-eyed peas. Why it would’ve been the equivalent of cleaning ten buckets of chitterlings. It must’ve taken her hours and who had hours to devote to one dish, no matter how delicious it was.

So here I am all these years later faced with the daunting task of getting the eyes off all the peas now soaking in my best bowl in the kitchen sink. Maybe by morning the eyes and hull will rub right off. Maybe I’d voyage into cyberverse and encounter some life form who will tell me a quick way to rid those many legumes of their many eyes. If you would like to suffer along with me have at it. See below:

Moi-Moi From African Continental Cuisine

Serves 3

 1 c dried black eyed peas

 1-2 roasted red peppers, skins removed

 1 red onion

 1-2 pieces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned – optional)

 1 tsp. canola or other oil of your choice

 1 tsp. chili powder

 1 tsp. turmeric

 Canola oil or Pam to grease the pan

 Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 3 soft boiled eggs, peeled (optional)

 Soak the beans overnight. Rinse and rub between your hands to remove skins.

Grind the beans to a smooth paste with very little water. Grind onions and peppers and add to beans. Add oil and seasonings and mix well.

Slowly add warm water and stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Oil a loaf pan or spray it with Pam. If using eggs, cut a slice off the bottom so they’ll rest flat, and place in the bottom of pan. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Gently pour the bean batter over.

Cover the pan with oiled foil. Place in a bain marie (set into a roasting pan slightly larger than the loaf pan and add water to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan). Bake for approx. 40-60 min at 350F, or until set and pulling slightly away from the edge of the pan.

Remove from the oven and bain marie. Allow to cool for 10-15 min. Gently run a knife around the edges of the pudding. Unmold onto a platter and garnish with vegetables of your choice. I used green beans and more roasted red pepper.

Moi-moi can be made with seafood and/or meat as well or just plain veggie. Moi-moi can also be cooked in the traditional banana leaf instead of the foil pan if available. A bit more difficult but more tasty and worth the effort.

A Beautiful Cat’s Tale

TiggerZoeyOnbed

Tigger (l) and the late Zoey (r)

I am a cat lover and every now again run across a jewel of a tale about cats. Recently I stumbled across a story in The Huffington Post that reaffirmed what I’ve felt all along. Cats are mystical beings bequeathed by the universe and once you’re aligned with the right cat or cats truly magical things are brought to bear. This I know firsthand because as I lay dying last year my cats were with me.

There I was on my bed and they jumped up to join me. After rubbing them a bit, Tigger, the big tabby sniffed at me and ran off. Zoey, my fat fluffy grrrl who loved me to her last breath, ran off too. It was the salve I’d stupidly put on my shoulder blade, thinking it would rid me of the monstrous abscess. The golf ball size thing had released toxins into my blood stream that was killing me. It had been killing me for several days.

Still I talked to Tigger and Zoey in my best Doc Holiday voice from the movie Tombstone. “Get on then you mangy cats,” I heard myself say. “Nothing but fair weather friends the both of ya,” I muttered and giggled or at least I think so. Had I not known better, I would’ve sworn the rum cake I’d consumed earlier had made me tipsy.

Of course all of it was a dream. My room door was shut that morning. The cats as they normally do were probably meowing and scratching to get in. My son, who’d found me clinging to life, had knocked on that closed door. I woke up from a four-day coma and was in the hospital two weeks. If I’d not carried on with the cats in my dream, I’m convinced I would not be here today.

So when I ran across the story about Toldo, the cat, it sent delicious chills down my spine. After I wiped away the tears, I commented on the article and this is what I said:

“I foolishly thought I’d rescued my cats until I later found out they were the ones who’d rescued me. Cats have very addictive personalities and don’t go into anything lightly. Toldo will continue to honor the grave of his acolyte until he can no longer do so or until he decides to quit on his own. Cats are beautiful mystical beings and should be treated accordingly.”

Anyone who loves cats and has had a near death experience may find the story especially endearing. It touched my heart and in case you’ve not read it, I’ve included it here for your entertainment pleasure.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/loyal-italian-cat-todo-br_n_2406479.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Dare To Fly A Little Closer to The Sun

I not only find Seth Godin’s “fly closer to the sun” an apt metaphor, I find it very inspirational. Sometime in order to stand out you need to fly a little closer to the sun.

-OR-

As some would say, do you .

And Here We’d Been Taught Icarus Had Done A Bad Thing

In Greek Mythology we were taught to view Icarus as this tragic character who grew too cocky and ultimately that cockiness caused him his life. But maybe like the Hellenic Air Force Academy, named after Icarus, he should rather be seen as the mythical pioneer in Greece’s attempt to conquer the skies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenic_Air_Force_Academy,