For Lucy

My grandmother is dying.

It’s weird to be thousands of miles away, working and reading and humming along to everyday tunes when a link in our chain is going, going, going away to stay. Last night I thought of her and imagined a link disappearing. Two strands before and after, severed, hanging limp.

On my limp end is my mom. Then me. Then Z. On the other, generations of women I don’t know. Faces I wouldn’t recognize. For a minute I feel the loss of not knowing them as acutely as the loss of the one I know. The one I remember. Never laughing, never crying, never angry, sick, frustrated, lost, confused and certainly, most certainly never dying.

I know that on the other side I will see her and wondered this morning, driving in through fog and rain, if I will see her then. Surely she is more than my Hallmark every October with the offering tucked inside. More than a place to go when I’m in town and a call to check off my list every other weekend. Has it been months already? Months? But you were always much more often on my mind.

I’m sorry I never looked past the sweet slices of your giving and the too-small suits that never suited. I’m sorry I never asked. Didn’t discover your dreams, devour your disappointments.

And thank you for the ties that bind me. The twists and knots of our delicate chain you stitched, and will stitch  without scarring. Have assured with your simple believing.

 

And for being proud.

Always so proud.

Of me.

Five

I’m gonna walk a hundred miles

I’m gonna whistle all the while

If that’s what it takes to make me smile

I’m gonna walk a hundred miles

 

I’m gonna run right up this hill

Summer sky or winter chill

If I gotta take a break I will

But I’m gonna run right up this hill

 

I wanna hold the whole wide world

Right here in my open hands

Maybe I’m just a little girl

A little girl with great big plans…

Mindy Gledhill, Whole Wide World

 

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Fountains

I’ve found the fountain of youth and believe it or not, it was hiding in a McDonald’s Drive Thru.
Jewel Kade’s annual convention was two weeks ago and I found myself on stage, nervous and rambling as I am want to do and for some strange reason I said something to the effect of “you’ll find this hard to believe since I’m only 24, but I’ve been in Direct Sales for 15 years or so and Jewel Kade is company number seven for me.” I thought I was being oh so funny, as I certainly feel every one of my near thirty eight years but get this – - THEY BELIEVED ME. Herds of them. They came in droves asking if I was 14 when I got married. It was awesome!
And then, when my sweet family from Ghana touched down they too commenced to raving about how incredibly youthful I look. “Auntie Brandi you’ve changed!” they said. “You seem the same as you were the very first time we met you.” And that’s when it hit me…
Who needs Botox when there’s the Big Mac? Thank you, hash browns, for rounding my chin and smoothing those worry lines. If I never needed a reason not to diet I found it. By next JK convention I’m hoping to pass for 19!

In all seriousness though, I have found myself a fountain, and I feel better than I have in years.
The Message translation of Paul’s words to the believers in Romans 12:1-2 is this…
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
I am by no means perfect at it, but I’ve made a real attempt at living better and simpler over the last several months. God gave me the awesome opportunity to look to Him in a way I haven’t in way too long, and it sounds as if trusting Him has literally taken a few years off. I was knocked down and almost out, but just a few months later I feel balanced for the first time since I really was 24.
My grandma always told me that the devil’s in the details and maybe she’s right, but God hangs out in the little things too. Let go and let God is another of her favorites. Find the fountain of your smallest blessing and He will fill your cup to overflowing.

The Descent

The Ghanians are coming.

 
They arrive every year for a literal whirlwind of goat soup and Costco shopping and while we love having them, sometimes we cry. Last year they sent me wedding dress shopping for a girl I have never met (“Size??  16? Maybe a 12? Just get whatever you think will work.”) who lives in a village north of Accra. My budget was $100 or less and my nerves were fried. After weeks of searching I found a lovely dress that met all the requirements (one of two in the entire state of Utah) but my sister-in-law returned it in the end because it was too western for village people. Aye vey.

 
So anyway, they arrive at noon tomorrow and this year we decided to rent a little house for them for the month. Only the Outdoor Retailers Expo is in town and there isn’t a rental place to be had for miles and miles.

 
Except one.

 
Billed as a “secluded, outdoorsy” place for skiers, we found a downstairs cabin apartment in a town called Granite about 30 minutes from our house downtown. We went for a visit two days ago and I knew the instant we pulled in it was a no-go for Ghana. There were trees and leaves and horses across the street. And a huge rambling back yard with a picnic table and a dog. It really was an apartment in the lower level of a cabin off the beaten trail and though I loved it, my dear husband said instantly “Africans won’t stay here. They’re afraid of mountain lions.” To which I said, “Africans won’t stay here? They don’t do trees or picnic tables? What about Kunta Kinte? What about carrying water in a pot on your head every morning until you were old enough for college?”  (I have long suspected the Mould family was not, in fact, raised in Africa but were rather reared in western Florida as part of the witness protection program. But that’s a whole ‘nother Oprah show.)

 
Guess what? I’m getting a “summer home” this year!

 
It’s a lovely cabin apartment on an acre of horse property with a picnic table and everything. And the Ghanians are getting my king-sized bed on Capitol Hill.

Mary v. Martha

I had a conversation with a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago about being a working mother. Her husband owns a company that is doing well and he’s therefore pressuring her to stay at home full-time with her two kids. She works part-time because she’s successful, talented, and enjoys her job. He says she cares more about working than she does her children.

 
As a working mother myself, I take offense to that. I work because I have to, but were we independently wealthy I’d still work because I have to. We were not all created equal and I did not receive the requisite dose of patience, ingenuity and self-discipline required to be at home. I’m just not cut from the stay-at-home cloth. And if you dare suggest I don’t love my child I will cut you, plain and simple.

 
As a cherry on the top of our “where a real woman’s place is” conversation, my friend mentioned that her husband, who she loves and really is a pretty decent guy, has also mentioned her need for a boob job. What does that conversation look like? “Hi honey, I’m dissatisfied with your physical appearance. You’re great and all, but I think I’d love you more if your bubbies were bigger. No worries though. I’m buying!”

 

Uggh.

 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a bit of what she said to heart. I went to bed that night wondering if my boobs were satisfactory, and worse, if I loved my career more than my family.

 
Tonight I stumbled upon my notes from a church sermon on Easter Sunday. The pastor called out John 20: 10-18 where we read that the resurrected Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden. He’d chosen men as his 12 disciples and spent his last meal teaching men to serve, but when the time came to announce that he was in fact raised from the dead, a woman was the first he commanded to share.

 
The Bible says that God is “no respecter of persons” and I can’t help but think He didn’t give much thought to where the woman’s “place” is here on earth. I believe He made us individuals, boys and girls alike, and all with a purpose. And I believe that living close to that purpose (at home, in a cubicle, or on the moon) is what allows us to love with the full measure of our creation.

As for the bubbs, He made ‘em. Who am I to judge?

Gastric Bypass

I know what you’re thinking, but no, not that kind of bypass. I’m talking about the one where you veer off course to avoid construction or confusion, or in my case, to swing by one of the Utah restaurants frequented by Guy Fieri of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.
I bucket-listed visiting all the Beehive hot spots and can proudly claim that I’ve hit three on the list so far…

 
Hands down favorite—Red Iguana.
This hole in a brightly hued wall is located on the wrong side of the Salt Lake City tracks, but did not disappoint. Folks line up for hours to get a table on the weekends. We went on a Sunday and were seated right away. Best chile verde ever.

 

 

Coming in at second—Pat’s BBQ.
We went to Pat’s for an early dinner on a Friday, fingers crossed that they’d still have burnt ends for sampling. I ate mine and most of the African’s. I’d love to go back for live music and a bit ‘o brisket one weekend, but alas, the Moulds would rather eat fried bologna at home.

 

 

  

 

The only thing good was the company—Moochies.
Bless their hearts, Philly Cheesesteaks are best made in, well, Philly.

Siriusly

Did I tell y’all my sweet husband bought me a car for Mother’s Day? I blogged about my dream of having one with less than 100,000 miles here not too long ago, and what do you know, it’s true! Ask and ye shall receive.

My commute to work is about 45 minutes these days, and even in a newer car it’s brutal, so I decided to call the folks at Sirius to see if they could hook me up with a little satellite radio to drive by. (Turns out 2010 Toyota Camry’s come with a free trial of some sorts, so my Sirius is paid until September. Winning!) And let me just tell you, I’m a big, BIG fan.

 

Here’s my typical radio routine:

8:30 – 8:45 Channel 79 Radio Disney for Zoe until I drop her off at school

8:45 – 9:00 Channel 63 The Message or 64 Praise for a little morning devotion

9:00 – 9:45 Channel 31 The Coffee House, 16 The Blend, 109 Cosmo Radio, 122 NPR, or 49 Soul Town depending on how frisky I’m feeling

5:00 – 5:45 Shuffle through the Comedy channels avoiding f-bombs and Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck jokes from 1989

 

But today was something altogether different.

Today I discovered Channel 106 Road Dog Trucking (just for truckers) and I entered an alternate reality…

First there was an interview with an African American documentary filmmaker working on a new project called “I am Damn Wonderful,” a “docu-celebration that explores the journey of 6 young, LGBT poets toward self-love and worth,” and then, they took calls from truckers recommending television shows for other truckers. I listened live as a trucker named Tiny called in to recommended Toddlers and Tiaras! Siriusly.

RDT FAN FOR LIFE!!!

Heaven is Here

As I write this post, Anderson Cooper’s on CNN interviewing survivors of that horrific movie theater shooting in Aurora. Some things are just too big to even try to comprehend.
The Bible says that all things come together for good for those who love God, and I believe that. Individual things and experiences happen that are truly tragic, but God is sovereign and even tragedy “comes together” by His grace.
I just finished reading the incredible story of Stephanie Nielson, Mormon mother of five who was burned over 80% of her body in a plane accident a few years ago. Here’s her take…
“It has been a long journey, but I see this time in my life as the best part of my story. Not because I overcame so much, but because I’ve learned so much and I wouldn’t have been taught these valuable lessons any other way. So I don’t feel bitter at all, I feel grateful. Now I face trials with a better understanding of who I am, and the strength that comes from knowing I’ve survived worse. My body was scarred and disfigured, but just the opposite happened to my heart. Today, my heart is triumphant, my body is strong, and my life is full of everyday blessings.”

Heaven in Here was a mighty reminder of the things I take for granted, and an awesome illustration of the power of the human spirit. Well, well worth reading.

Camp Home

Tomorrow we’re headed to Snowbird for a little weekend getaway before Jewel Kade’s convention next week and our family from Ghana descends for the month of August. Zoe’s always looking for a reason to make s’mores , so she suggested we start our staycation early. “Let’s make Camp Home,” she said. And so we did.

After hamburgers and s’mores we gathered on the front porch for games and stories. Zoe made up a grand tale about a purple princess who saved her family from Bigfoot by blowing a magic bubble. Africa followed up with an Anansi folktale and for a minute we were transported to a big Baobab tree near a village where he grew up, complete with barefoot babies and old Ashanti aunties humming praises and twisting braids. Wish you could have been there…

 

 

Why Anansi Has Eight Thin Legs

Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a spider named Anansi. Anansi’s wife was a very good cook. But always, Anansi loved to taste the food that others in the village made for themselves and for their families.

One day, he stopped by Rabbit’s house. Rabbit was his good friend.

“There are greens in your pot,” cried Anansi excitedly. Anansi loved greens.

“They are not quite done,” said Rabbit. “But they will be soon. Stay and eat with me.”

“I would love to, Rabbit, but I have some things to do,” Anansi said hurriedly. If he waited at Rabbit’s house, Rabbit would certainly give him jobs to do. “I know,” said Anansi. “I’ll spin a web. I’ll tie one end around my leg and one end to your pot. When the greens are done, tug on the web, and I’ll come running!”

Rabbit thought that was a great idea. And so it was done.

“I smell beans,” Anansi sniffed excitedly as he ambled along. “Delicious beans, cooking in a pot.”

“Come eat our beans with us,” cried the monkeys. “They are almost done.”

“I would love to Father Monkey,” said Anansi. And again, Anansi suggested he spin a web, with one end tied around his leg, and one end tied to the big bean pot.

Father Monkey thought that was a great idea. All his children thought so, too. And so it was done.

“I smell sweet potatoes,” Anansi sniffed happily as he ambled along. “Sweet potatoes and honey, I do believe!”

“Anansi,” called his friend Hog. “My pot is full of sweet potatoes and honey! Come share my food with me.”

“I would love to,” said Anansi. And again, Anansi suggested he spin a web, with one end tied around his leg, and one end tied to the sweet potato pot.

His friend Hog thought that was a great idea. And so it was done.

By the time Anansi arrived at the river, he had one web tied to each of his eight legs.

“This was a wonderful idea,” Anansi told himself proudly. “I wonder whose pot will be ready first?”

Just then, Anansi felt a tug at his leg. “Ah,” said Anansi. “That is the web string tied to Rabbit’s greens.” He felt another. And another. Anansi was pulled three ways at once.

“Oh dear,” said Anansi as he felt the fourth web string pull.

Just then, he felt the fifth web string tug. And the sixth. And the seventh. And the eighth. Anansi was pulled this way and that way, as everyone pulled on the web strings at once. His legs were pulled thinner and thinner. Anansi rolled quickly into the river. When all the webs had washed away, Anansi pulled himself painfully up on shore.

“Oh my, oh my,” sighed Anansi. “Perhaps that was not such a good idea after all.”

To this day, Anansi the Spider has eight very thin legs. And he never got any food that day at all.

 

Panzanella

I just love me a salad without lettuce…

 

Ingredients

1 loaf day old crusty bread, cut in inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped red onion

5-6 basil leaves, torn

A lot of real mozzarella, cubed

3-4 tomatoes on the vine, diced or 1 quart cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Sea salt

 

Directions

Turn oven to low broil. Add the minced garlic to the olive oil & mix, then toss over bread cubes on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Broil 5-10 minutes, until bread is lightly toasted. Mix the toasted bread and remaining ingredients in a large serving dish and serve immediately. Add additional salt and vinegar to taste.

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