The House Built On L♡VE & Shenanigans

The In's and Out's of Family Life in Charlottesville, VA

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Taking The Neighborhood Back – But From Whom?


Grandma asked the girls if they would like to come outside and help her plant some flowering bulbs one Saturday afternoon when we were up in Baltimore visiting. She’d hoped to spruce up a scruffy patch of grass that lay dormant on an otherwise neatly manicured viridescent lawn.

On this warm, cloudless, and exceptionally luminous day, everyone’s mood was very light – and now, almost festive as the girls became super excited to show off their gardening prowess to grandma in an effort to earn a coveted “green thumb” seal of approval. Each girl had her own digging apparatus, however Marley’s was the only one making any headway breaking ground. Hers was metal, but Delaney’s and Journey’s tools were plastic, and threatened to break in two each time they attempted to jab into the tough soil.


Grandma and the girls were working away, while Rach and I were content to be witnesses to this quirky planting operation. Except for the usual sound of the busy traffic motoring up and down the street, there were no audible distractions. That was the case until up strolled a slightly out of breath, and dare I say, out of place looking woman (especially for this neighborhood) wearing a small backpack and carrying a fist full of 5 x 8 brochures. She wore a multicolored cotton tank top, faded jeans, and had short brown hair. She also sported athletic sandals, and as she neared us, she seemed mildly apprehensive.

She greeted the adults in our brood pleasantly, and explained that she was out to spread the word about a certain former federal prosecutor who is currently running for state’s attorney in Maryland, and she was hoping that she could garner our support. Once Rachael explained to her that we could not vote since we are not Maryland residents, she directed her focus to Grandma – who was still on the ground digging in the dirt with the kids.

As she leaned down to hand my mother one of the brochures, this organizer began her pitch by listing what she thought were her candidates glowing accolades. I was half way sitting and half way leaning against porch, but decided to straighten up and take a peak at her pamphlet which read like this: Why should you vote for Mr. “So and So?”

  • Increased the felony rate resulting in the conviction of nearly 500 more dangerous criminals
  • Creating a Major Investigation Unit, which has prosecuted 200 violent and repeat offenders including gang members and drug dealers.

Then it went on to promise how he planned to continue to convict “criminals and drug dealers” and “take back” the neighborhoods that are apparently, overrun with crime. The brochure ended with the slogan: Fight crime first, Fight crime together! This document read like the biggest load of propaganda I’d been exposed to in some time.

When Rachael and Grandma both looked at me out of the corner of their eyes, I knew they must both be thinking the same thing as I. For it seemed to me that the terms “gang members” and “drug dealers” in this instance, were interchangeable code words for African American males.

See, we’ve been lead to believe that the kind of criminality that is more detrimental to society is “Reggie selling a dime bag of dope to Billy, so that he can go home and mind his business getting high” – that is not completely the case!

While this city official is busy waging a war on street crime, by attempting to rile people up with inessential emotions and fear, it would be nice if folks were also made aware of this fact – “white collar crime now affects more Americans than all other forms of crime combined, according to a report published by the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).”

In a 2010 study, it was found that “nearly one in four American households had been victims of white collar crime” during that year. The types of crime included “mortgage fraud, credit card fraud, identity theft, unnecessary home or auto repairs, price misrepresentation, and losses due to fraudulent business ventures and Internet scams.”

Why is this politician not running on a platform to rid us of the types of crimes that affect more of our neighbors on a daily basis? Why are so many of these white-collar crimes underreported on by the media and not attacked with an equal amount of vigor by politicians? Should it not be considered a crime when fat cat CEO’s decide to send jobs overseas leaving our neighbors without work (which one could argue helps to contribute to street crime)?

Granted, street crimes are senseless and tragic – there is the emotional shock involved and a feeling of loss when they do occur – and trust me, no one wants to become the victim of bodily harm! Lets also ask ourselves though, how much of this crime is really taking place in our neighborhoods, or how much of it is the media saturating the airwaves with alarmist news reports and view points, while politicians like this use the fear of victimization as a tool to get elected in urban areas, by using African American males as scapegoats – the faces of urban crime?

Little did she know, she was barking up the wrong tree when she stepped to us with that utterly biased promotion. We let her know in no uncertain terms that she was not about to convert anyone at this address. She seemed oblivious as to why, thanked us, and left. I watched as she moseyed away, and I continued my gaze until she was almost out of sight. I watched as she toted and planned to dispense this rhetoric of political manipulation to the unwitting, and shuttered to think how many people might be swayed by her grassroots efforts down that long lonely road. Just then a clump of dirt landed on one of the sneakers I was wearing, and my attention was brought back to the children who were still digging around us. As I looked down at my soiled shoe, I lamented the fact that it wasn’t the only thing that needed to be cleaned up.


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The Outsiders


“Are you going to come outside with me, or stay in the house Dada?” She asked in her typically sweet way, carrying her full water bucket, after pronouncing her intention to “give the flowers a drink.” Although it meant I’d be less comfortable, I couldn’t help but acquiesce to this tender, albeit indirect little request to join her outside. As the setting sun burned in my eyes, and with the annoyingly audible buzz and occasional brush of a bothersome gnat against various parts of my exposed skin, I soon found myself reluctantly plopped down in a wicker patio chair watching as Journey instead decides to make muddy puddles in the grass.

Journey is an outdoor girl to her heart. If she could find a way to live out under the brakes and thickets like the woodland creatures she sometimes pretends to be, she’d do it. Delaney has a similar regard for nature, however Marley does not share their affinity for it. She’d much prefer to remain in her room arranging stickers in her sticker book, or remain busy by making her latest coloring creation – this day is no different. She’s made it painfully clear over the years her aversion to heat and bug bites.


As I watch Journey trudge back and forth from the bathroom sink lugging her water bucket once more through the patio door, committed to her brand of gardening, I can’t help but to chuckle to myself. It’s something about the way she’s almost struggling with this full pale while moving fast, her short quick steps all a blur, makes for quite a scene.

Journey and Delaney are busy now crowding the sidewalk with toys – everything from stuffed animals and tricycles, to skates, scooters, and discarded popsicle sticks. I wish there was more room for them to engage in these playful activities without turning their knickknacks, and themselves, into hurdles and obstacles that our poor neighbors have to navigate as they make their way to and fro. The clutter they’ve created in the tight outdoor space in front of our apartment has been epic at times! Hopefully, at some point someone doesn’t think we are hosting a garage sale – and I certainly hope we never receive a littering complaint from the powers that be.

So here I sit melting in the setting sun, watching my two outdoor girls do their thing. Delaney making it her business to pet every waggly tailed dog on a leash that jaunts by, and Journey, pointing out every bug she sees calling it “her friend”, in an effort to convince herself that she is not afraid of it. Finally she’s had enough of the buzzing, and quickly darts into the house…just another Wednesday evening around our way.


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The Mother I’ve Always Imagined……

The only pic that I have of my mother

The only pic that I have of my mother

Me at about 2 years old

Me at about 2 years old


I can only imagine…..

Your last thought of me as you took your last breath.

I can only imagine…

The ache in your heart, that your baby girl, at 2 years old

Would be left behind, motherless, fatherless, the lone child

and sole heir to your genetic inheritance.

I can only imagine…

The silent prayer, the faith in the promise of the Higher Power who’s in control,

The whisper in your heart to ‘let go and let God’ as you made your final transition from

this plane, and left me behind.

I can only imagine…

Well momma,

Your baby girl, is still here, being well cared for through His grace

and the covenant of His word.

I was surrounded with love and placed in everyone’s care.

“It takes a village”, is what they say,

and I’m the living product, of this benevolent way.

Now, I am a mother, a joy and depth of love that I’ve never known.

To hear the words “momma” from my three little girls being uttered,

helps to erase all the times that foreign word used to make me shudder.

The child in me oft wishes for my mother’s presence to be shown,

to have my children feel your touch and hold them until they’re grown.

Their three little faces, full of infinite potential, full of light,

with you watching over them, I know they’ll be alright.

One day we’ll all be together, and walk down heaven’s aisle,

my eyes will meet with yours, and we’ll share a knowing smile.

My life has not always been easy, but one thing I know for sure,

that your loving presence is always felt and can never be obscured.

This…I no longer have to imagine…He kept His promise.

He always keeps His promises!

Happy Mother’s Day Mother. I Love you.

Your baby girl,

Rachael Marie