Monarch Success! & Plant of the Month: Goldenrod

11 Oct

2 of my favorite things about a East coast garden in one article!

Sustainable Landscaping in Richmond, VA

Last month we explained the important relationship between Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) and late summer blooming plants such as Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium/Eupatorium spp.).  Just to reinforce the importance of correct plant pairings we would like to share the results of an area we planted this year for the Monarchs.

Monarch caterpillar on Asclepias incarnataMonarch caterpillar & Echinacea 'White Swan'

For this test we used the two most common types of Milkweed found at garden centers (Asclepias tuberosa & incarnata).  During the month of August over 50 Monarch caterpillars were counted!  Multiple chrysalis were found and many mature butterflies were spotted Monarch butterfly on Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)collecting pollen.  Out of the two varieties of Asclepias used, Swamp Milkweed (Asc. incarnata) was by far the favorite.  In fact we never once saw a monarch caterpillar on the tuberosa species.  For nectar sources we planted many Eutrochium and Eupatorium species as well as other summer and fall blooming perennials.  As is apparent in nature, diversity is the key!…

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Today I’m a funny lady.

13 Nov


I woke up today feeling pretty crappy. My back is killing me from the terrible hand me down bed I sleep on and all the recent “dating” I’ve been doing. And I’ve got the worst menstrual cramps I’ve had in like 2 years. I wanted to cry but I didn’t because I remembered that now I have the opportunity to turn all the stuff that drives me crazy into a joke that can make some other twenty-something female laugh and also feel human. It made me remember when I first heard Margaret Cho do an entire bit about having diarrhea on the interstate and how much better I felt about myself for having the same feeling come over me when I had diarrhea on the J train.

It’s a fact right, that art imitates life? Well if that’s the case, comedy has got to be the highest form of art in history! And every time I get on a stage in a basement somewhere that smells like vomit and piss (but only in that one really dark corner) it surprises and excites me. Every time I see a face that I’ve never seen before with a smile and ready to hear what I have to say. I mean, the only catch is I have to make them laugh, but hey we got a team thing going on! Because I want to do that! I want them to laugh at my cramps, my bad sex-capades, my crazy parents (because everyone’s got those), jobs, and wonderful “What If’s?”.

I remember the first time I saw a female stand-up comedy special: Janeane Garofalo. Amazing, truly changed my life. I mean, she’s normal. She had on like a sweat shirt and some boots, glasses, hair in a ponytail, and she has like a deep voice, which I totally love! I didn’t even know that women did stand up. I knew some were funny on television shows and wore pretty dresses when they display just how wrong your guess was on the Wheel of Fortune; but to be funny to all with just their voices and their words? Oh to be so free… and talented! How could that ever be me?

But I have to be honest. It’s not easy. Just because I manage to get on stage a few times a month doesn’t make me amazing or famous. People from my high school graduating class still think I’m a loser the same way they did 10 years ago.  The beauty of it is that their right. I am still that girl that longs to wear men’s shoes because their more comfortable and I cut my own hair because I don’t know what to do with it and I don’t trust white women with scissors at the discount salons, and I’m still way to into white men and I’m going to hell just for that. I hate myself for never going to four year college, but I know I’d hate myself more if I never did my first open mic and heard people laugh at my life because I welcomed it.

Thanks for reading.


My Relations in Race: The Music Release.

6 Aug

Afro’s and Rock-n-Roll


When I was 11 I met Rock-n-Roll. It came to me in the form of the neighbor boy Andy and Metallica’s Enter Sandman. I remember Andy’s cheeks were always flushed, he was the tallest boy in our class, and he always wore a full camo outfit (that appeared to be circa the Hoover administration). My favorite thing about Andy was his hair cut, sporting a shaggy, spikey, mullety…thing, it just never match his outfit. Ya see, I did all my adolescent youth in Hampton, Virginia. Part of Hampton Roads, the mecca of military bases, military housing, and military hair cuts. I often wished I had an afro at the not-so-ripe age of 11 so Andy and I could fight the power together with flowers in our hair. Who was the “power” at age 11 you ask? Well of course it was Mr. Mumford of social studies, he must be stopped!

Booty slappin and Hacky sackin

By age thirteen I was going steady with Bush and seeing Marilyn Manson on the side (my mother was not happy about that). Wearing my beloved Jnco jeans, Airwalk sneakers, toting my hacky sack in hand and pen and pad in my pocket (I wrote tons of “sad girl” poetry that year. I still have some if you want to hear it, but of course now I read it slam poetry style). The racial stats at my middle and high school were pretty black and white (literally) with very few gray areas (Asians, Hispanics, West Indians, and Aborigines). By 14, freshman year of high school I was the well spoken token, well versed in South Park catch phrases, prepared for any Creedence Clearwater Revival jam session, and could smoke a full Malboro Red without vomiting. Rock-n-Roll had inspired me and empowered me. I had broken up with Marilyn Mason and committed myself to a very serious relationship with Radiohead. Needless to say, my poetry book was overflowing, my clothes were brighter, and I’m pretty sure I owned a tube of blue lipstick. My rep with the Hip Hop and R&B lovers (the black kids) was pretty sour and I became Hampton Highs most well known OREO. A title that still kind of hurts (especially because I preferred the peanut buttery magic of Nutter Butters). Thankfully I have a big (black) family and I cared very little about social status, so I made good friends with all the Bobbie’s, Billie’s, Becca’s, and Suzy’s in school and I loved it! It’s been many years later and I’m still wondering if I was living in a fantasy world, much like the world I’m in when I dedicate a whole day to watching Anime, eating Shumai, and drinking Saki.


Jive talking, Gold teeth Smacking, and Mayonnaise

I began to notice that all the cute shaggy hair, blue eyed boys I crushed on were befriending me not to live Ebony-Ivory paradise forever, rather it was so they could ask me “So, whats up with Suzy (Becca)?” Cue the ((GONG))! You’re an idiot Brittany! Ha! But I never gave up. I currently do not have a “type”, especially being back in New York. Why would I limit myself to a “type”? But in little sweet Hampton I had a very limited selection of guys that I had stuff in common with so it usually consisted of white dudes. There were two really cute mixed boys at my school, but one of them liked whites girls and the other liked “real black girls”. Whats a girl to do? Maybe I should date girls? (I had a pretty serious relationship with a girl named Jenny when I was 11, but we both developed some pretty large boobs so we decided to go our separate ways.)

I’ve only had three serious relationships in my adult life and only one of them was a black and well, to put it nicely, he was “like me” (insert cookie inspired nickname here _____ ). The other two were porcelain skinned, dirty blonde hair, and blue eyes. All very lovely boyfriends, but people change and time move’s on. Or so I thought. Most every public place would be transformed into a magnificent spectacle and not just because we were the couple that didn’t realize we were wearing the same color green shirt on our date night. Come to find out black females (with afros) and white guys are the rarest form of mixed couple (Nat-Geo and the Onion news network teamed up and did a whole piece on it).

Now anyone that knows me knows that I can usually be seen wearing a neutral colored, loose fitting shirt, boot cut or bell bottom pants (cause no one sent me an invite to the “skinny jean club”), a pair of chucks, big hoop earrings, and natural stone necklace. I like to think I’m dressing as the flower child I could have been, but I’m usually taken as the “soul sister”, something like the little sister of Angela Davis. Two examples of very uncomfortable situations for an Neo-Soul Oreo:

1.) In line at Target behind an older black woman. A tall, dark chocolate, African prince looking fella trots by sporting an interesting “accessory”….a white girl. I think nothing of it because I was born in New York in the 80’s, I’ve seen crazier things. But this older southern woman was completely appalled and felt she needed some support from a “soul sister” like me while she completely bashed this couple. Little did she know that my white boyfriend was down isle 9 grabbing some organic mayonnaise. Cue the ((GONG))! Awkward! So many emotions flood over me when this happens. Mostly I’m embarrassed and scared to introduce my partner to my parents. It pains me that people are still judging people by the color of their skin.

2.) Situation numero deux, though it’s more entertaining, it’s not any less annoying. Scene: Me in my usual garb at the main bus terminal, lots of people just standing around waiting for their bus to arrive. Cue the ((GONG)) Coogie sweater, cargo shorts, white knee high socks, Adidas man sandals, Do-rag, and a very shiny gold fronted tooth. Whoa! That’s a whole lot of man….Sike! But that’s what he was thinking when he left the house that morning. And when he saw me he could have sworn he had died and gone back to the 70’s. Like some type of time machine that takes you directly to “the one that got away” (the heat does strange things to people). He smoothly approaches me by smacking his teeth and doing the crip walk (in some native tribes this can be interpreted as an elusive mating dance). “Soul sister!” I hear. “Hey soul sister! How you feelin girl? Tell me something good.” (Or whatever funk song catch phrase he can think of.) He is now in my personal space doing the butterfly and muttering some sort of Ying-Yang twins inspired dittie he just came up with (in my tribe this IS a mating dance!) Cue the ((GONG))! Gross old man! If it weren’t for that shiny gold tooth there’s no way he would have gotten my attention. He may be the very reason I date nerdy white dudes. Even if I did choose to bounce to Genuine or Biggie, I still wouldn’t be into that guy.

Rock and roll and noise confusion

That last statement leads me to my conclusion. I believe in my heart that no matter what kind of music I listen to or the chaps I court, I am still just plan ol me. I want to tell all the kids from my high school in small town Hampton, thanks for boost!….and also you stink!….Just playin.

But seriously, we were all once trapped in the evil abyss that is adolescence and I just happen to stand out because I ROCKED. Me liking Rock-n-Roll doesn’t make me any less black, but if “being black” means judgement and close mindedness then count me out. Thank God for time and years to grow. I know that being black is wonderful. I am proud of my heritage! Heck! We created Rock-n-Roll! We helped build this country, we have tans all year round, and most of us have rhythm. We are fighters, we are believers, and we are lovers. I wish I could travel in time and make that speech in the lunch room in the 10th grade, life would have turned out differently I think. Different indeed. But ya know, I like the way I turned out and I co

uld care less what anyone else thinks.

Thanks for reading and a special thanks to Andy, the neighbor boy.

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I Quit.

5 Aug

Check out Phoebe’s blog. She’s one of my hero’s. Thanks to a huge dream of mine and the internet I’m glad to say that she’s a wonderful person and I look forward to reading each and every post. She’s HILARIOUS! Happy reading.


13 Jun

Naturally I would not be writing on this topic if I wasn’t absolutely perplexed by the world’s obsession with Reality TV (RT). In the time I’ve spent watching/observing this media hit, there never seems to be a positive outcome. Is it ever used to empower or enrich anyone’s life? On the contrary, I’ve noticed it’s often a form of entertainment at some poor souls expense. Perhaps these people started off real, but what happens to these once life-filled human beings? Do the “media-mobsters” gain control of their wallets and brains turning them into media zombies? Either way half way through most episodes all hell breaks loose. I’m a bit jealous because I’ve been trying for years to pre-plot my life to have more excited and interesting happenings. These guys seem to have all the answers! SHOW ME THE DOTTED LINE TO SIGN!

One of the pioneers of RT were John & Kate plus 8. The whole unit that was that was once called a family is now just “old news” in some tabloid magazine. I can’t imagine the stress parents must feel having to raise one healthy, well adjusted person. John and Kate started off with twins, add on 6 soon to be toddlers and you may as well shave your head to skip to the losing your hair portion of life. Joining the family circus, a camera crew, the guy with the fuzzy microphone thing, and a network producer nearby and you’ve got yourself a par-tay!!! Filming your every move, directing you on how and when to live based on what’s more entertaining. The ratings determine whether or not your 8 kids can go to college and queue the spontaneous combustion. So what is really going on here? I mean if we viewers weren’t genuinely interested in how you and your family live everyday life why else would we watch you turn into an utter spectacle while your real life happens behind the scenes? The true worries every parent has about their children’s health and safety, your own health and safety, money, bills, food, etc. Unfortunately what I caught toward the end of their Hollywood minute was infidelity, divorce, pain. Now they’re just another American family, broken.

Is this what an RT star can expect?  That no one wants to watch their real life fall into ruins, the real life drama, because we’ve all got our own right? Hmmm, could this insanity that is so not real TV be the new craze, “Erroneous-Reality TV”? I thought that’s what movie’s and sitcoms were for. People don’t want to watch their own crappy lives mirrored on the television, do they? They want to watch someone’s whose life is way more interesting than their own. This is the point when I’m filled with so much sadness. OUR realities are plenty interesting, amazing, sometimes scary, sad, and most definitely funny. Your thoughts, feelings, and words are important full of meaning and depth. Please don’t think just because no one has asked you to be on television so that they may exploit your family for a profit and exaggerate every negative moment that could ever happen that you are not important or special.


However, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t race to the tube if there were a show about a woman that shaves all the hair off of her body every other day, or eats half a pint of ice cream for breakfast and her only excuse is that she does it so that she’ll have the rest of the day to burn off the calories, or argues with her partner because they can’t read her mind. Ha! But it would be nice for someone on TV to just admit how hard it is to be woman (that’s an entirely different blog). I’d like to use this moment to touch on how the media does make a modern woman feel. Unattractive, self conscious, like her clothes aren’t nice enough, can’t go without a significant other, and needs to be able to dance the salsa in 6 inch heels. I tip my hat to the woman that I just described, but that’s you and it certainly ain’t me or a whole lot of other women. But where are those women that make the majority of us feel normal, like we are okay. We are okay! We’re great!!!  Thank you Ellen, thank you Queen Latifah, thank you Michelle Obama for shopping at H&M, exercising, and raising two lovely children in the spot light (please feel free to leave comments with women that inspire you to be yourself no matter what). There are media markets that attempt to reach out to us extraordinary women, but usual it’s a way to guide us to be the best normal that we can be. Ya know what I mean? Headlines like “How to get the perfect body without trying too hard”, “How to eat what you want, whenever you want, and still lose 20lbs by summer”, and “Are you trying too hard to get that man?” Sigh, moving on.


People may not want to be confronted by reality, their own realities: house foreclosure, student loans, raising a disabled child, taking care of an elderly parent, going through the process of adoption, the process of gender transformation, growing up poor on the “bad” side of town, or recovering from a life altering injury during your time in the service. Well folks, I want to know about your reality. I know that there are avenues in which real life is show cased, but the publicity and coverage is so minimal it’s heart breaking. If you watch PBS, any news network, or documentaries you’re consider too smart, nerdy, stuffy, bias minded (too left or right), or boring. I like the first two descriptions, but seriously, our lives are special. If art is supposed to imitate life then show off yours and frame it! OUR realities are what matter the most. How can watching a bunch of born into wealth, or married into wealth, or the ex-wife of a criminal, or a mother so desperate for her child to live our her childhood dreams make asses of themselves for a full hour benefit us? I say no, I propose it is ruining us a community of human beings. I urge all who read this to begin to view your own lives as something wonderful enough that you’d want to sit down and watch yourself. And if it may not feel picture perfect, no worries, there’s always a way to a better tomorrow.

Positivity, love, and peace. – Britt



Beware of shows like the this:


and this:


And the best for last: