There’s a lot to be said about the music we keep in our hearts.
There’s a reason we love the music we love.
It speaks to us on an intimate level, no matter cadence or rhythm or volume.
Jeff kept quite a few in his. Many of enthusiasm.
Funeral planning, I chose hymns he’d always comment on. “Oh, good!” Jeff’d exclaim when the church bulletin listed one of his favorites. He’d sometimes sigh, “Oh.” Thoughtfully noting hymns of importance. Those his mother Sally and grandmother Nannee loved.
“Oh, How I Love Jesus”
There is a name I love to hear
I love to sing its worth
It sounds like music in my ear
The sweetest name on earth
“Jesus Loves Me”
Jesus loves me!
This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
I don’t think I chose this one. I’ve sung it before, and the pretty melody randomly pops-in to remind me from time to time.
“Hymn of Promise”
There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
I talk to time about my love; my greatest listener.
When music talks to me, I listen for the beats and counts; steady rhythms to regulate my heart, with words that understand.
I’d sighed earlier at the half-read “Box of Butterflies,” by Roma Downey. Rather than re-shelve, I re-homed it to my priority chair-side reading table.
Because, 1. it was only/already half-read and 2. it would be a light enjoyable distraction because 3. I was giving up on the missing missive.
To feed my belly, there was a quick reheat of lemony chicken and roasted zucchini with garlic. To feed my soul, I dragged a zero-gravity folding recliner, my lunch and the book outside. For while I was pleasantly afternoon porch-sitting in the shade of my massive oak, enjoying the lovely light breeze.
Readings, prayers and stories blended, touched me, encouraging an emotional urge to sad-cry. Though, not something I do much, I also don’t reserve them as a resource. No, my tears map; mostly chartered for overwhelming frustration or anger.
When I do give into melancholy, I self-console it’s not entirely squandered time; there is scientific data on the toxin expelling benefit of tears.
To be sure, my dead-end searching contributed, but the reason was indeed sadness.
Yep. I wasted a solid thirty seconds pity-partying, which is a bit of significance. If you’re inclined, go ahead and time thirty seconds. It’s a lot longer than you think.
I sniffled, wiped my eyes and closed them just for a moment being miserable and thinking about Jeff. And, then, everyone gone.
I blotted to remove the refractory glare of still welled tears, Un-smudging my glasses, I began again (because I can’t not finish a chapter, or a song for that matter.)
Soft-stop blink-leaking, something glinted peripherally. I expected to see Blu and his shiny gold collar tag at the screen. When I am out and he is in, HBlu’ll check where I’m at, what I’m up to and yell at me to let me know he’s monitoring. I say hello, tell him I’m fine and he lumbers back to his most recent favorite indoor spot.
I was surprised it wasn’t Sir Harley. It was a flitty thing.
It took another swipe-rub and a second sweep to determine it was a butterfly – in orange.
The flutter-by stayed around a bit. Dipping, rising, dancing for fifteen seconds or so, until the gusty stream took it wherever it was going next.
You may have never heard about this COVID Cuisine adventure, but a friend FB posited: what is one of the weirdest food combinations that you’ve eaten during sheltering?? (be honest. lol)
I’ll tell you what I told her. It’d be completely dishonest for me to claim my COVID cuisine concoctions differ from my regular, um, creative cooking.
Honestly, though. About a week ago, I stared longingly into my cabinets of mostly health. My general rule is – if I don’t have it, I can’t eat it.
In any case, my jumble of left-over baking bits was mostly from Christmas. 2019.
I had to bring up the stool to reach the high shelf where I put all the should-be-inaccesible temptations. I found partials of: graham cracker crumbs, marshmallows, semi-sweet chocolate chips, vanilla, brown sugar, self-rising flour, regular flour, a box of vanilla pudding, a1/2 bar of Bakers white baking chocolate, two different types of cocoa powder and three different types of sprinkles.
Among the rediscovered hidden treasures were Tastefully Simple brown sugar salt and blueberry vanilla salt. I was also in possession of an overripe banana, cream cheese, almond milk, butter, two baby apples, honey roasted peanuts and sour cream.
Considered seemingly viable choices lead me to a dismal Google exploration conclusion.
I had almost all the ingredients to make something. Unfortunately, these particular ingredients made nothing. (Nothing normal, anyway.)
Banana Pudding? No wafers
Banana Bread? Not enough bananas.
Cheesecake? No eggs or heavy cream or any type of cream.
Chocolate chip cookies? Sigh, no eggs.
Apple cobbler? No white sugar. Besides the pitiful apples might not even make a cup, leaving more cobbler than apple.
S’mores? No graham crackers, but I did have a couple cups of pre-crushed crumbs.
Where my mind went after about an hour of recipe search:
I can almost make a cheese cake. I don’t have eggs, but I do have an overripe banana. Didn’t I read somewhere once that bananas could replace eggs? Hmm. Suppose I mashed the fruit to replace the eggs? Mashed banana has a tighter consistency than eggs, so it seemed logical to me. Plus, banana cheesecake didn’t sound too bad.
Suppose, I added some chocolate chips? Ooo, banana chocolate chip cheesecake! “Now, we’re getting somewhere,” I announced to Blu. I received a yawn and a “why-did-you-disturb-me?” slow blink of indifference. “Maybe not,” I thought.
“Well, how about a S’mores pie?” If I used the vanilla pudding and powdered cocoa, made a graham cracker crust and plopped some chips and mallows on top? Maybe. Then, I had second thoughts about making a pie because I’d have to eat it. All. By myself.
Aha! I can make mini cakes in my 6-cup pan. There’s some portion control, right there. So, that’s what I did, sort of.
I made graham cracker crust cupcake shells. While those were baking, I slid back to the cheesecake idea. Yeah. That was it. The perfect tasty experiment. I mean, you know, all the pieces were yummy, so…. Banana Chocolate Chip Almost No Bake Cheesecake.
On my quest, I’d come across a tip that indicated using marshmallow fluff in a cheesecake batter helps it firm. I didn’t have any of that. I did have some humidity-melded marshmallows and the forethought to halve the closest recipe I could locate.
Crust (from the box): 1.25 cups graham cracker crumbs, 4 tbs butter
Filling (adapted): 4 oz cream cheese, 1 mashed overripe banana, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla.
Topping: 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. (Because that’s all I had.)
I placed each graham cup in one of 5 Pampered Chef small prep bowls. Remember, portion control. I planned on eating the 6th.
Flopped some filling in each, sprinkled chips and considered. Seemed to be lacking something. I still had a hankering for s’mores. So, a glob of mushy marshmallow landed on top.
When I was done assembling, a 15-second microwave run heated the taste-test. For some ridiculous reason, I saw the bowl of gooey goodness and decided to mix it all up. It wasn’t baaaaaddd. There just weren’t any clear-cut flavors, and the brownish, lumpy presentation was lacking. I ate it.
I tried being a bit more reasonable on Sunday. Heated for same 15 seconds, let cool for a minute and spoon scooped through the layers. There’s no logical reason why it tasted so much better. In fact, I ended up eating two on Sunday. Not back-to-back, though. Portion control.
I’ve got this one on the counter waiting for me to nuke after I finish blogging tonight.
Just a few steps into the building, I happened to glance up.
The peculiar idiom, “stopping dead in your tracks,” came to life.
As I scanned the wrap-around floating shelves above the lobby, I barked out a laugh.
My mother was still moving toward the meeting room so I grabbed her arm.
“Oh, my God, Mom!” I croaked. “Look!”
What I thought was amusing, my mother thought was appalling.
It was October. Either, the 4th or 5th. Michigan’s got quite a thing for Halloween.
Tightly packed above my head were skeletons, ghosts and some extra-large Styrofoam tombstones emblazoned with “R.I.P.”
I stood there a few moments longer smiling and crying, and then scooted down the left hall to save the office manager from my mother’s indignation. “You should have taken that down!” she announced.
“It’s fine,” I told her over Mom’s shoulder. “I think it’s kinda funny, myself.”
The room was pretty full. I think my first choice of seat was the fireplace ledge, but that was vetoed by just about everybody. Someone came up with a folding chair.
Who was there? The neighbor couple from across the street, Jeff’s father, my mother, my mother’s husband, Jeff’s family and friends, and surprisingly two clergy.
Another unimagined oh-no moment. Jeff’s father was Lutheran. Jeff and I were Methodist. I expected our Methodist pastor would officiate since we were Methodist. Jeff’s father craved the comfort of his own Lutheran traditions. At some point, before gathering with the group, this had been discussed and the two Reverends had agreed to work together.
The result was Jeff had double Reverends. Odd, but not.
Following his larger-than-life life momentum, going big and large into the afterlife seemed appropriate.
I’ve come to respect my constant gentle oceanic laps of memory.
I’ve come to accept the ebb and flow of universal reminders; receiving laps sent to calm the fearfulness that I will somehow simply forget.
I’ve come to appreciate the awkward rhythms, just a tad off perfect timing.
I’ve come to expect the swell and crash when seasons change; when calendar markings recall.
I’ve come to regard myself part of the shoreline, evolving, as it does.
I’ve come to weather lapse as nothing more than uncontrollable retreat and resurgence, wearing away lines I’ve drawn and re-drawn until the shape of my existence has changed so unsuddenly, I am startled to find myself where I am.