Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shoes, sandwiches, and a leftover dish

I’ve lived with boys before; I have two brothers, and from this I have learned that if they take a leftover dish anywhere you will never see it again. This has been an undisputable fact at my parent’s house ever since the eldest son got his first job. Knowing that men have this pattern I have accepted it without much thought. Naturally, when Paul went off to do temp work this last week I sent him off with some chili and waved goodbye forever to the plastic container in his hand. But when I arrived home from work I was startled by the sight of that dish with its blue lid rinsed off and sitting in the sink. This is not normal man behavior. I shrugged it off as a fluke, and when the next day arrived I once again filled a plastic dish I knew I’d never see again with chili and kissed that man I love on his way out the door.

I get off work at 3:30 and took my time on the walk home. The weather was good and I was enjoying listening to Taylor Swift on my ipod. I’ve been on a bit of a country kick this week. I walked up the stairs to the apartment and unlocked the dead bolt. The door swung open and the first thing I notice is that same dish by the sink. Two days in a row. I felt slightly haunted and impressed at the same time. This was going against everything I had been taught since I was fourteen years old! Third time’s a charm, I thought and waited to see if tomorrow would bring about the same results. I was not to be disappointed because day number three, after five hours of work and seven hours of class, he still remembered. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that either there is something wrong with my husband’s ability to function like a normal man, or that all guys cannot be judged by ‘brother standards’. Although, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

On a more serious note: this week was a week of many blessings. For a long time I have not had a good pair of tennis shoes. I walk a lot more now and the holes that already graced every surface of my existing sneakers have only gotten worse. Every day when I get home I examine the dirty spots on my socks that are being exposed to the elements. But at least the shoes still have soles (that’s what I’ve been telling myself every time I drive by the Payless or Famous Footwear). But fall is coming, and after fall is winter and imaging the walk to work with soggy feet wet from snow is not very pleasant. Today I received a call from the Relief Society President in my ward that happens to be the same shoe size as me, with slightly wide feet like mine, and coincidently has a pair of sneakers that she no longer needs. How did she know that I needed them? I’m not sure, possibly a lady I visit teach told. But I’m just grateful. They fit nicely and there are no holes. It’s nice to know that I’m being looked after.

Monday night I made a large pot of chili because I thought, “we could save on groceries and eat something with chili on it every night.” We had chili and cornbread, chili-topped baked potatoes, Navajo tacos, and chili on rice. But after eating chili for two meals every day, I started to tire of the bean concoction. Friday night I had an old friend visit and when I invited her to stay and have dinner with us she insisted on taking us out to eat. Perhaps it was her fear of my cooking or maybe it was divine inspiration— I couldn’t eat another bite of that soup that day—or whatever it was, I am filled with gratitude for Angela and Arby’s roast beef sandwiches.

These were two little things, shoes and sandwiches, but I was very touched by these women and how in tune they are with the spirit. But I had another thought. These were both things that I was too embarrassed to ask Father for when I prayed. I figured that it would somehow be ungrateful of me to ask for shoes when mine still had laces or to ask for a night out to eat with a gallon of chili still in the fridge. But the Lord knew what I desired and needed and sent angels to watch over me. This reminds me of the First Vision when Heavenly Father and Jesus appeared to the boy Joseph and called him by name. I wish I had language eloquent enough to describe what joy it brings me that my Creator knows my name. He knows my personality, my quirks, my weaknesses, and he loves me still . . . and he blesses me still.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Honey-dew what?

Being out in this big world on my own gives me the privilege of having these moments where I realize I'm turning in to my mother. Don't take that wrong. My mom is a great woman-- in fact, maybe even super woman. But I remember as a child in her home she sometimes came up with, what I thought to be very lame Family Home Evening treats. The worst was when we had melons. I'm a big girl. I can admit that I'm not a melon lover. Melons are watery, hard to cut up and often flavorless. When Monday night rolled around I always looked forward to some sweet treat that was chocolaty or carmely or sugary enough to give me a buzz. However, there were those times when my little mouth, anticipating sticky, gooey wonderfulness, would ask, "What are we having for the treat, Mother-dearest?" And I'd get shot down with, "Watermelon." REALLY?

Yesterday afternoon I was doing the grocery shopping. I had gathered most of my nonperishable items when I remembered that we needed a treat for FHE. I walked over to the dessert aisle in Macey's to see if anything caught my fancy. Pudding, cakes, brownies, frostings, strudels, cinnamon buns! So many tasty things, so little time. I began to pick up box after box to read the ingredients. Enriched bleached no-nutrition-left-in-it flour, high fructose corn syrup, regular corn syrup, sugar, fully hydrogenated vegetable oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, maltidextrihydrophoripleixic-what? A knot started to form in my stomach. I couldn’t feed that man I love this garbage after forcing him to eat a cake for a week. I decided to look in produce for something more nutritional.

Macey's had strawberries on sale for a good price. This was perfect. I could get strawberries and mix them with some mandarin oranges I had at home and make a little fruit salad. However, upon further examination of the strawberries, I found most of them to be rather moldy. Maybe we didn't need a treat every Monday. Maybe we could split a piece of toast with jam on it and call it good. I retreated to the check out. What display of really cheap and perfectly ripe fruit was destined to be right in front of my register? Melons. I sighed. They looked good. I sighed again. Paul likes them. I sighed once more. It would make a good treat. . . I added a small cantaloupe to the belt.

All these years of complaining when melons were served for Family Night and there I was, buying a cantaloupe on a Monday. I bet my mom has felt this same way-- buying something seemingly lame but healthy because you love your family and know, despite what they think they want, all that junk won't do them any good. Buying something grown straight from the dirt so your family could taste the subtle flavor and gently sweetness of nature. Thanks, Mom, for making me eat watermelons, and cantaloupes, and honeydews so I could appreciate a treat cut up lovingly by your hands and made the way God intended.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cake Decorating 101

Once upon a time there was a young woman with a single desire. To make a Lego cake. At first she felt silly making a treat the had the appearance of a child's toy, and she longed for an event that would require such a thing. Desperation's power had sway on her, however, and she could not wait years for the birthday of a child of her own and decided that Family Home Evening was reason enough to create a masterpiece. She had most of the ingredients but lacked small cookies, food coloring, and bread pans. Her and her handsome prince rode off the the market in there white. . . horse-draw carriage. Much to their dismay, food coloring required much gold and the young couple only had a few shillings. The Lego cake dimmed from their vision as they headed back to their home in a cloud of despair.

Determined not to ruin FHE, the woman insisted on still making a cake. It would have to be round and the frosting would be white. She mixed up the batter and opened the drawer beneath the oven to pull out her two round cake pans. She peered in and soon peering turned to staring and staring to frantic digging. She had been mistaken. Where she thought two round pans had been was one round pan and one square. It would have to make due. She poured the batter in both pans and tossed it in the oven to cook.

Needless to say it didn't rise so evenly, and the couple knew that much work would have to be done to make something beautiful out of their awkward cakes. The dome top of the square was removed and a layer of strawberry creamcheese filling was placed in its stead. The round cake was gently lowered on top. Frosting was carefully prepared as the handsome prince (ever so skilled with a mixer) mixed while the woman added powered sugar. And once the sugar was all over the kitchen they knew the concoction was complete.

They took turns frosting the cake:

When all was said and done, the "lego cake" resembled a snow fort, but the couple was happy still because they got to spend time together and lick lots of bowls.

The End

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Unprayed for Lasagna

This morning I opened my fridge to see what I could make for breakfast and was saddened by the sight of a pickle jar, applesauce, some old sour cream and two heals of bread. Thankfully for the box of farina in the pantry we were able to have some applesauce cream of wheat with extra cinnamon. Lunch was looking pretty bleak though. I managed to find the last slice of cheese, slap it between the bread heals, burn it in my iron skillet, and cut in half for Paul and I to share. It would have to do until dinner. A few small potatoes were sitting in a purple basket under the table waiting to become a side dish to some chicken I'd been saving all week for Sunday dinner. Once those two foods were devoured we'd have to make due with cream of wheat until my shopping trip Monday afternoon. I was feeling very heavy wishing I could make something more for Paul.

But there was only so much time I had to wallow in my situation. 12:45 rolled around and it was time to leave for church. With my four inch heals I stepped out of our apartment and carefully took the stairs one at a time. Paul escorted me to the car and opened my door as I attempted to fall into my seat as gracefully as one can in a knee length skirt. He then proceeded to walk around to the drivers side when a man from the ward pulled up and invited us to dinner. Paul accepted and jumped in the car.

When we got home from church I laid down on the bed to rest. I was starting to feel a bit nauseous. With Paul unemployed and trying to squeeze by on my income I deemed the lack of food to be a sign of my poor providing skills. I began to cry silently-- pity party for one. I knew tomorrow was the day I would go defer my semester of school, and with no foreseeable return I couldn't picture ever being able to more adequately aid Paul in getting through his educational pursuits without suffering from malnutrition. My sweet husband came in to check on me and when he saw the pitiful sobbing heap I was he looked worried. Laying down beside me he talked to me till I was a bit calmer. I didn't want to look like I had been crying at dinner with the neighbors.

The Pierre's had lasagna for dinner. Two enormous pans of it-- and Brother Pierre wouldn't let us leave till we had each three plates full. My stomach was stretched to maximun capacity, and I wondered when the last time I had felt like that had been. I looked over at Paul who had also put away an impressive amount of food. I felt like the Pierre's were an answer to a prayer for food I hadn't even offered yet.

The small apartment was full of loud laughs and cheerful smiles as Haitian humor was thrown back and forth. Everyone was so carefree and laid back that I wondered if my life would ever be like that. But it was when an entire box of unpopped popcorn was spilled on the floor (and event that would put me into grumpy cleaning fit) laughter once again erupted and a few adults teamed up to gather the evasive kernels. I realized at that moment that it was not a lack of trials that made that household as happy as they were. I have no doubts that family has born much heavier crosses than that of spilled popcorn. But I'm sure the attitude they exibited last night-- that wonderful carefreeness-- has been a blessing when the heavyness of life has been upon them.

Much of the sorrow I've been feeling, as much as I hate to amdit it, has largely been a choice. I don't have to dwell on the aspects of my life that are challenging me. I can choose to just laugh, smile, and be happy because, all in all, I have a great life. Thank you Pierre's for a tremendous night!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Speed bump therapist

While reading a blog of one of my facebook friends I was struck by a question she asked and decided to reply. Julie, that brave unbalance woman, asked, "What makes you happy?" This is my reply from my seven hour shift of yesterdays labors at the Good Earth.

I walked along a speed bump yesterday. There has always been something therapeutic about that for me and as my boss seemed to be breathing down my neck in disdain, making a hard day harder, I ask to step outside to gather shopping carts. If asking to do something that is not your initial intention is lying, then I lied and I’m not proud of that. But I needed to breathe the stale air outside and pace on the raised pavement painted yellow just to feel it’s roundness through the soles of my brown flip flops. I can’t say that it made the day any better. It didn’t make my boss love me, or solve my school dilemma, or provide money needed for the $88.00 electric bill, or anything else weighing on my mind. But for a small moment, just seven inches off the ground I felt a little bit happy. . . Happy to just walk along a speed bump.