Tag Archives: Life

Black Tulips

Some of you already know my sister, Dawn, has been writing a book. It’s thrilling to see a life dream of hers come true. She is self-publishing and needs your help to reach her goal. Go here to find out more about her book and donate to help her publish.:



Enjoy a little excerpt from her book while you’re at it. :

“  Posted on 02/23/2012 by Dawn Richardson

La la la. . . here is another tasty excerpt from my book. Tasty like mudpies, the real ones.



When my paternal grandma was a young mom running a bar in Friant, California people called her “Gus.” “Gus” was her middle name. And Gus kept a shotgun beneath the counter to ward off rabble-rousers and angry, drunk men. My grandma was tough, and sweet as cornflakes with a fifth of the sugar jar poured on top (my mom never let me have sugary cereals, but at Grandma’s the sugar jar was a condiment to breakfast every day). At Grandma’s indulgence and imagination had their playground. And I wore blue jeans and my ultra-cool 70’s t-shirts with glittery decals (things my mom thought were “not feminine” and therefore, I wasn’t permitted to wear in my civilian life.) At Grandma’s I was free – free to let my eyes be as wide as my heart, my legs as long as the trees, and my mind as wild as the endless fields of grass that surrounded my grandparents’ home in Placerville, California.

Every visit to Grandma’s began with two things: a tour of her garden; and a vast supply of Folger’s coffee cans and empty pie tins. My grandma had an astounding love for flowers and the loving green thumb to nurture them to their destinies. Each time as we walked her garden she told me the names of the flowers and asked me to name a flower in each color in the rainbow then to find that flower in the rainbow of her front yard. I loved the treasure hunt. Black always stumped me though. “Grandma THERE ARE NO BLACK FLOWERS.” I said definitively. “Yes, there are,” she slyly responded, “I don’t have any, but lots of flowers grow black: daisies, tulips, geraniums, dahlias….” My all-knowing eyes swooped open and looked from my four foot frame to my grandma’s four foot six frame, “I’ve never seen any!” “Well, just because you haven’t seen any doesn’t mean they don’t exist,” her words wooed my imagination. And so it went on, every couple months I visited my grandparents and every couple months we had this conversation. And then everything in my seven year old life changed one Saturday afternoon. She got black tulips.

That day, after our usual black dialogue, she said, “Come over here….” and I followed, intrigued. “Look, Dawn” she said, pointing. And there they were. Black tulips. I felt the door of possibility on the house of my life fly from its hinges. Anything was possible. It didn’t matter if I had seen or experienced something or not. The unthinkable existed somewhere. I was convinced. If I could dream it, it could exist. I was always a dreamer, but now I knew my dreams were seeds to a reality to come. I was unstoppable. And my ability to see beyond what my eyes could physically see held the power of faith and hope that would change the world.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,

but on what is unseen.

For what is seen is temporary,

but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:18


I thought my eyes
Were my eyes
Until I realEYESed
They weren’t
My mind
Disneyland in dream form
My spirit
The ocean in hope form


Those were my REALEYES.


And as for the Folger’s coffee cans, well those were for frog-catching.  As for the empty pie tins, those were for good ol’ fashioned homemade mud pies – the kind with real mud. The only real kind of mud pies.

At grandma’s being imaginative went hand-in-hand with getting dirty. It was all part of the process – scrambling on my knees to scoop up froggy friends with my bare hands, naming them and placing them in coffee cans – usually just for a day or two before releasing them again. And I always made sure I fed them. They weren’t prisoners-of-war, they were friends over for a slumber party (granted, they were not allowed inside the house, but they did sleep right next to the front door in their newly assembled apartment complex). My grandma also kept coffee cans because she chewed tobacco and used the cans as spittoons. For this reason my grandma didn’t smell very grandmotherly, which seemed awesome because it made her more like a Wild West cowboy than an elderly woman. And everyone knows a weekend with a rough n’ tough cowboy is more exciting than a weekend with a plain ol’ grandmother.

The mud pies were really fragrant too – especially after I baked them in my “imaginary” oven. My grandma insisted my pies were the best ones she’d ever eaten. And I knew she was telling the truth. My pies tasted like whatever you wanted them to taste like – you could envision the best pie in the world and there it was, in a pie tin on my grandma’s porch, just waiting for you to grab a fork from the kitchen and dig in. The only limit to the flavor of those pies was in one’s mind. And I knew my grandma’s mind was mischievously alive and therefore, my pies were the best in the whole universe.     ”


life as I know it

Well, the last couple days have been a bit whirlwind-ish. I spent a lot more time with the girls than I anticipated due to some incidents. Things changed when Thursday night, Joy* had to be hospitalized due to kidney stones. It made things with the volunteers a bit more tricky because there is supposed to be a FF staff person with the girls at all times, and in this case that also meant someone with Joy* at the hospital. So, yesterday I spent most of my day with the rest of the girls at Roja with some of the other volunteers. Things went pretty well, even got them to do a craft (painting tote bags). Then last night a sort of drama unfolded at the house and I thus had to go earlier this morning. So, I was with the girls from 7:30am-5:30pm. Kinda long for my first go with girls (alone), but it went really well. Time passed fairly quickly due to them sleeping in (related to the drama last night) and Joy’s* return from the hospital. Saturday is their cleaning day, and besides that we chatted and played games (ie. guess who?, connect four, and a memory card game). I’m glad I successfully got them to play because the girls tend to be hesitant to do such activities. The girls are each assigned tasks with cleaning and cooking, and today the youngest of the girls was on cooking duty so she did not have cleaning to do.

So, while Joy* rested and the other girls cleaned, the youngest girl (who was the source of the drama the night before)– I’ll call her Zoe* (since it means life and she has so much ahead of her) opened up to me. First she asked me yet again what I put in my hair because she didn’t believe me when we first met that my hair is naturally red. She said, “No! You did put something!” Ha…. and she thought I would speak Dutch not French because of it! 🙂 After talking a bit about this or that she began to talk openly. She told me she was the first girl ever rescued by Freedom Firm, she wasn’t rescued by police etc, but by Greg (he and his wife Mala are FF’s founders). She was just 11 years old. She told me about how she was put in the hospital for a month due to the way she was acting out– biting girls, and being violent in other ways. She was taken to have tests done (mentally), but nothing was wrong. She was told she just needed a lot more counseling, not drugs. She explained to me how she was, and still is often filled with such anger. It is because of her anger that she acted out this way. Now, she gets verbal (yelling etc.) but no longer hits or bites others. I encouraged her that that is great progress! Zoe* explained how she tries to calm herself down and I encouraged her in doing that… how everybody needs to exercise that sense of calm. Then we got into talking about her future and how she wants to dance; she says it is her only choice. But then she confided in me that she doesn’t think it is what God wants her to do. I expressed to her how often we put limitations on who God is and who we are and that God could blow her away with what he has for her life. I used myself as an example of how I have learned to trust God in whatever and wherever he takes me. To which Zoe* said, “Trust is so hard!” I smiled and said, “Yeah, it is! ” But just because something is hard doesn’t mean we don’t plow through and do it. I told her life is a journey and we are meant to live in the present, not always looking to the future and be in control of it. Anyway, in the end it was great conversation that really encouraged me… I suppose 10 hours at Roja should bring something of the sort. 🙂

I think I have tomorrow and Monday off, so it should be a good chance for me to rest, ponder this week, and  to explore Ooty some more.

I like Ooty. It has it’s own sense of charm. I feel plenty safe walking around– that is except for the vehicles on the road. ha! The things I dislike? The dirt, more specifically the pollution. The first several days my eyes were sensitive to it and nose tickles alot. A little more about Ooty… it is in the mountains, so I basically hike everyday. It takes 20 to 40 minutes to get where I need to walk to. I will be walking everywhere really with exception of taking the bus to Smyrna, but I still have to walk to town to get to the bus. 🙂 Well, I can tell you one thing– I am probably going to be in the best shape of my life by the time I head back to the states.  HA! If I need to I can take a rickshaw/auto (the Indian version of a taxi I suppose, but it reminds me more of a ride at Disneyland due it’s small size and lack of doors.) Of course my new friends (with scooters:)) may give me rides here and there as well.

Today, on my way home, I heard little voices above me on the hill saying, “Hello! Hi! Hi!” Two adorable little boys were smiling and waving at me when I looked up. They asked me my name, I told them and asked theirs, though I’m afraid I haven’t a clue how to spell them. I asked them if they lived close (they do) and I told them I lived at Farley…. I gave them a toodle-do and then made the rest of the short walk up to the Farley drive way, and there they came running and chatting to each other. “Hi! Hi! Hi!!!” they exclaimed excitedly. I talked to them for a few more minutes, asked them about themselves etc. They were too cute for words. I look forward to seeing them again sometime. 🙂

In honor of completing my first week in India (yesterday) here are some of my FIRSTS:
*used rupees
*scooter ride
*ate with only my right hand (no utensils)
*did the Indian head bobble/wobble/shake (oh yes, it’s begun!)
*used a “squat-a-potty” (yeah, it’s what it sounds)
*took an auto/rickshaw
*mastered the art of brushing and then rinsing my toothbrush with only one small cup of water (a triumph!)
*recognized a Hindi phrase (and knew what it meant)
*Got henna
*heard a sex trafficking survivor’s story first hand
*got invited to an Indian neighbor’s house (haven’t gone… it’s common Indian practice to invite without intentions of it happening)
*ate the spiciest thing I’ve ever tasted… and finished it (though by the end I not only was drinking lots of water, my eyes were watering, I was physically hot, and I was coughing…… it’s extremely important to finish what is on your plate here)
*remembered my way back to Farley on my own
*saw a horse get nearly hit by a car (oh, the wandering animals…)

(Monkeys hang in the tree outside Roja.)

*In just a week’s time my life has already changed.*