memories to last a lifetime

my son went to summer camp. he returned today after five whole days and nights away. this was his third time attending (last summer, and this past winter) with our church. he had such a wonderful time. he's sitting on the couch reminiscing and researching some of the songs he heard and shared with his camp family. he shed a tear (a huge alligator tear) for the friends that he made, the times they shared, and for the overwhelming good time.

i explained that his feelings were normal and a sign that camp did everything it was supposed to do. these are memories that he won't ever lose or forget. camp is a memory that lives in perpetuity. it lingers on and on always bringing a smile.

we are fortunate enough to live just a half hour away from the mountains and the grand hospitality of Forest Home. the staff and facilities are top notch and geared to make a ten year old boy wish for camp — just minutes after having arrived home.

the three pictures above are courtesy of the Forest Home site. they do not allow electronic devices or phone calls (unless an emergency of course), which allows the kids to completely disconnect and take in the beauty of the world around them. the camp is faith focused and shifts the children's understanding of Our Savior Jesus Christ into a deeper yearning and learning. my son is already discussing his future as a counselor.

what more could a mama ask for? his prescription medication was loaded electronically into their site and administered daily by a nurse. their app: Forest Home Adventure Guide allowed me to receive updates; including when medications were administered, the plan for the day, the focus of the lesson shared, and my son's "camp store balance" (as cash is not accepted).

a faith based focused dedication on the Majesty of the Lord!! three allergy-free meals a day. mandatory hydration is required at all meals (drink two glasses of water). a safe yurt-like structure to share with his camp mates. a camp store in which to spend (his whole $15) frivolously. clean and accessible restrooms and showers. and all of the chaperoned and safe fun a ten year old can handle for six days. i am forever in debt to our church Immanuel Baptist, our children's ministry director, numerous dedicated chaperones, and the capable and trustworthy staff of Forest Home.


that picture and the gravity-defying toss are courtesy of our children's ministry director: Jaime and our church orchestra leader/director: Mr. Mike. thank you!

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Love for the Bereaved

Losing a loved one is nothing shy of being punched in the face. By someone bigger than you. Repeatedly. It’s a pain that strikes fast and hard and weighs heavy. Under the wrong circumstances, it can weigh a person down like an anchor and drag them to the depths of the bottomless ocean that is grief. In years past, I would have said that only “time” could heal the scar left by the death of a loved one. I know now, that while it certainly takes time, it also requires an insurmountable amount of Love and just as much Faith.

I met Armina in the summer of 2012. We worked for the same company, and coincidentally had a mutual friend. It was only a few months later that Armina told me that she wasn’t happy in California and that she and her husband: Kenny; would be relocating back to Philadelphia. I was a little shocked, but I wished her well and told her to stay in contact. We were soon Facebook friends, able to interact from a cyber distance. I don’t know exactly how long after we became Facebook friends, that Armina’s Facebook took me by surprise. I hadn’t been stalking her well enough and was confused by what I was seeing. It appeared that she was in grief, someone had passed away. I clicked onto her page directly and was immediately crushed by what I was reading. It brought tears to my eyes and I sobbed as I scrolled her timeline. Armina’s husband had died. Three weeks prior. I was devastated. I was devastated for her. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or how I was supposed to respond.

Armina is a woman of faith. A Godly woman; who reads and follows the Good Book to the best of her ability. Each week after her husband passed away, Armina wrote a very eloquent homage to her husband, to her pain, about her Journey into and through grief. I am certain that her unabashed love for God himself manifested itself in her weekly updates. Sometimes it hurt to read, but it was insightful, inspiring, and lovely. With her permission I will share a post or two so that can read for yourself just how amazing she is.

• Armina Johnson
January 08, 2013 • Philadelphia, PA
It’s been one week since I lost the love of my heart. My heart is bleeding but I find comfort in God and his tender love for me. I have been blessed by so many ppl who have been by to sit with me for a while, bring me food, do my laundry, make sure I fall asleep and have been in the same spot when I wake. Have bought groceries for my fridge, and brought ingredients and cooked while talking to me about how much they loved Ken McElveen and the great memories that [they] have of him. These days are hard because I have come to the realization that he is truly asleep in the Lord and that this is not a dream. I have read all of your condolences over and over. I want to thank you all for such kind words of encouragement. I am asking that you continue to pray for me and my family. It is not easy loving a husband, son, brother and friend. Ken was loved by EVERYONE who knew him. Be blessed…

• Armina Johnson
February 18, 2013 • Blue Bell, PA
Week 7- Not getting better but placing my hand in the Master’s hand as I express how angry I am with Him. As I take a walk through this journey, my emotions are occurring spontaneously, and sometimes two or three at the same time. I’m learning that whatever my emotions lead me to feel, it’s okay to feel how I’m feeling. I think there are several emotions that I’m going to go through that are beyond my control. — with Ken McElveen.

• Armina Johnson
February 28, 2013 • Norristown, PA
Woke up this morning with a heavy heart. Going through grief is like going through a tunnel. The bad news is the tunnel is dark. I can appreciate that the good news is that once you enter into that tunnel, you are already on your way out. “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:2). How long, Lord, how long? This tunnel is so dark. My prayer today is for God to show me His light.

• Armina Johnson
March 6, 2013 • Norristown, PA
“Just give it time,” people say. That is misleading. Time alone will not heal my grief. God is the source of all healing. Making the decision to remain close to Him despite my emotional struggles is critical in my journey. Are you still praying with me? “I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).

• Armina Johnson
March 25, 2013 • Norristown, PA
Week 12: In the 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul said he felt great pressure and confusion, but God set a limit as to how far this would go: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). 12 weeks late…the pressure continues to seems unbearable at times but it has not crushed me. I am utterly confused and overwhelmed, but I have not given up. My distress is constant, but so is God. I have been forcefully struck down, but I am not destroyed. Keep praying. — with Ken McElveen.

• Armina Johnson
May 20, 2013 • Philadelphia, PA
Week 20: Ken McElveen This has been an AMAZING week thus far in this process. Seven straight days with constant HAPPINESS. However, depression is real and is a part of the process of grief. It is a normal feeling in a chaotic situation. Knowing when to seek help is key.

I understand that therapy is not for everyone but we have to, at some point, come to grips [when] this feeling is too much and I need to share it with someone. If one’s depression persists for months and becomes a way of life, it is no longer normal grieving. You do not have to live with this. If it goes on and on, get help. Talk to a Christian counselor or your pastor or a doctor. This type of depression is what doctors would call clinical depression, and there is help for that.

Dr. Ray Pritchard says, “Don’t give up. Pick up the phone. Call a friend. If that friend can’t help you, call another friend. If the people at one church cannot help you, call another Christian church.” Take action to find help for your depression. And if that fails, try again.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Father, it is only by Your grace that I can stand through this trial. Open the doors of help for me and strengthen me to walk through them. Amen.

Don’t you want to just hug her? Having shared that, it’s imperative that you understand that Armina took a very deliberate approach to dealing with the loss of her husband. She felt her feelings, she shared her feelings, and she made no excuses for her bad days. She walked her walk and invited all of us to hold her hand. I was so very appreciative, but more, I was amazed. And through it all, she never took her eye off the Lord. Her Love of the Lord reigned supreme. At a time when most people question and forsake the Lord, Armina held fast and strong. A most commendable gesture, indeed. The kicker is that she meant it. She wasn’t going through the motions, or adhering to what she thought she was supposed to do. God is her Savior, and she held on to Him in her time of need. He didn’t let her down.

Someone else was equally amazed with her and his name is Evince. From their introduction, Evince was aware of Armina’s emotional state and he gave her what she needed. Whether it was an ear to bend, a hug to support her, words of encouragement or space; if she asked for it, he gave it to her. Their relationship started with a date to Cracker Barrel and has blossomed into a beautiful romance. Their courtship grew and matured before our Facebook eyes as it appeared that he not only swept her off her feet, but that she was open, receptive, and accepting.

• Armina Johnson
May 21, 2014
I Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.— with Evince Domingue.

• Armina Johnson
May 29, 2014
Good morning. I am Armina. I am not “the woman who lost her husband.” I refuse to allow my situation to determine”WHO” I am. Enjoy your day FB. ‪#‎100daysofhappiness‬

In September of 2014 Evince surprised Armina with a marriage proposal in front of close friends and family. Armina and Evince are now engaged and due to marry in August of this year!  What a testimony!!

• Armina Johnson
September 21, 2014
A few days ago my mom: Jontarr, challenged me to 3 days of thanksgiving…on the last day of the challenge, he asked and I said YES!— with Evince Domingue and 13 others.

Armina Johnson's photo. Armina Johnson's photo.
Armina Johnson's photo. Armina Johnson's photo. Armina Johnson's photo.
You, Rolanda, Imelda, Kenya and 325 others like this.

• Armina Johnson
September 22, 2014
Good morning. When I woke this morning, I had to triple check my finger. It seemed like a fairy tale that ends well. I was so over joyed to wake up to all these well wishes(and they are still coming). Thank you all for the warm wishes and your continue support. We are elated! Looking fwd to every moment. Our God is hmm hmm good. ‪#‎wontHedoit‬ ‪#‎prayerworks‬ ‪#‎thereishopefortheweary‬ ‪#‎Helovesmeenoughtoblessme‬ ‪#‎teamdj2015‬

Armina and Evince Forward

• Armina Johnson
November 27, 2014 • Philadelphia, PA
Good morning. If it is not a daily practice to express your gratitude, let today be the start of something new. I am a witness that it will change your life. Be safe today, and enjoy great fellowship with family and friends. IF you have nowhere to go today…let me know…we have plenty of food and love to share…NY see you soon.

Armina and Evince Future

• Armina Johnson
December 25, 2014
It’s been a bumpy road this week. Evince Domingue I am the pen and you are the highlighter. I draw the world, you make it brighter…Thanks for being my BFF and making my world brighter. ‪#‎iamcornyinlovewithhim‬‪ #‎teamdj2015‬ ‪#‎dare2loveIdid

imageArmina and Evince Stuntin
If you’ve never stepped out on faith, take it from me, now is the time to do it. if you’ve never believed, never trusted or never felt the hand of God in your life, now is the time to change your thoughts and feel His power. If He can do all of this for Armina, He can do it for you too. And if you need a bit of inspiration, read over Armina’s Facebook posts and see for yourself that she not only kept her eye on the Lord, she continued to remind us all to be blessed, to be grateful, and thankful. And she always wished us well.
image
Armina, you are a walking testament to the mercy and power of the Lord! I know you don’t need to hear it from me to know, but honey, YOU. ARE. BLESSED. Thank you for blessing me with your friendship, your vision for our coincidental futures, and most importantly, thank you for entrusting me with your beautiful story. Congratulations on having the will to share, the power to struggle through, the discernment to open and receptive to God and His love allowing Evince and his love into your life and heart. Cheers!!! To a scintillating future.
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The Honor Of Motherhood

I was honored with a request to write a dedication for Mother’s Day. My dear friend, Armina, chose me to provide her with something special to share with her congregation as they celebrate mothers and honor grandmothers with a small token of appreciation (a small change purse). This is what I wrote for her:

Jeremiah 1:5
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

“Before we were born, before we were carried, before we were conceived, God made us into exactly who He wanted us to be. He chose every part of us and placed within us everything we need to be exactly who He wants us to be. He carefully picked our features, our intricacies, our personalities – and wove us together with His perfect hand. And then, as the gifts that we are, He presented us to our Mothers. Women, also born of His design, carefully chosen and picked to care for and nurture us in the way He wants and in the way that only She can. Born a child, grown into a woman, honored with Motherhood. From the day we conceive until the day we die, we are Mothers, forever CHANGED by the presence of our children.”

To my family, friends, fans and Facebookers, please, Enjoy your Special Day!

I shared my words with my Facebook world as well. At least four people shared my sentiment with their Facebook world, making the sharing downright exponential! How exciting, right? And in keeping with true BSB fashion, I’ve decided to turn those thoughts there into a post here.

Motherhood is a state, a condition, a way of life… and it cannot ever be undone. For the women that carry and birth their children, for the women that adopt or foster their children, for the women who have loved and lost their children — motherhood remains. It is a constant unwavering force that turns an individual into a family. For once a mother is born, a mother she will stay.

Motherhood is instinctual, primal. It comes from an inexplicably deep place in a woman’s soul. A mother cannot hear a baby cry, see a child injured, or even hear the call of “mommy?” without reacting. She thinks of the children before thinking of herself. She sacrifices her everything for their everything. The force of a mother is immeasurably intense and sincere.

Mothers need no rewards. They don’t need trophies, certificates or awards. Their joy comes in the smiles of their little ones. Smiles are currency in a mothers heart. Hugs, kisses and “I Love Yous” are the precious metals and jewels of the mother-child relationship! A spark is ignited every time a mother has eye contact with her IttyBit. It’s unlike any other eye contact on the planet and it resonates in her soul.

Whether she’s near or far, involved or estranged, she will always be your mother. She made you, made sacrifices for you and her joy comes from watching you grow and remembering when you were her baby. She cherishes you.

On this day, we celebrate our mothers. Those that gave birth to us, those that raised us, those that disciplined and praised us. We celebrate the women in our lives for whom without…we’d be nothing. Sometimes it’s one person, and other times it’s a whole family of women. Sometimes related, sometimes not.

However you choose to celebrate her, she will appreciate it. It can be a sincere heartfelt hug, macaroni art, construction paper flowers, vacuuming, perfume, jewelry, brunch, a spa day — whatever it is, she will love it. Do you know why? Because it came from you. Her joy is you. You make her happy. You are her endless source of Happiness and Inspiration.

Happy Mother’s Day! To my family, friends, fans and the like. Please smother your favorite lady with love, kindness and a little macaroni art.

wanted: experienced parent

parenting is a job. no, i’m serious, a J-O-B. it’s no wonder that it’s not listed in the local paper or employment website. the “job description” would frighten even the most confident applicant and cause the weak to piddle themselves where they stand. who, in their right mind, would volunteer for round the clock body fluid cleanup? or unlicensed, never paid, nurse/therapist/doctor/best friend? perhaps that is where the magic lies. in the fact that we only have an inkling of what it takes to be a parent and the true test and real reward come with the learning. so we do the deed, sew the seed and parents we become. or so we hope.

it’s 5am where i reside and i’ve slept only a percentage of what a normal person should. most days (as of late) i would have slept all of those lovely “doctor recommended” hours and would be on the verge of waking to start my day. but, my son currently has bronchitis. he’s coughing, sneezing, wheezing, barfing, whining, writhing, sleeping intermittently and highly feverish. did i mention he’s barfing, vomiting, and throwing up?

in the last twenty-four hours he’s returned everything that he’s eaten, missed school, been to the doctor, and slept like an infant. he’s coughing like a thirty year smoker and just exhausted. at six years old, his tiny man frame cannot handle the force of continually coughing, wheezing and sneezing…so, he’s just pooped out. and without food in his system he is unable to retain his harsh medications so we are in a “break the fever” and “try to get antibiotics into him” limbo. it stinks.

at almost thirty weeks pregnant, carrying thirty extra pounds, i too am pooped. for the last two months we’ve religiously gone to bed about nine and i lazily get up after five to start our day. i think i slept from one to two, and then again from three to four. all the while reaching for him to check for fever. a little after four, SuperBoy woke me requesting water. and soon after “some food”. (hallelujah!)

after giving him some water and having a short discussion on what causes an itchy throat and a noisy tummy we settle on a snack of white rice (in an attempt to keep the body fluid cleaning persona of parenting at bay). after slowly gathering my faculties and balance (a thirty pound belly fulla twin babies makes a gal a little clumsy), i retrieved the rice, more water, the antibiotics, ibuprofen and a napkin. once he was all set, he asked me if he could watch tv. on any given day of the week, he would not be awake at this time, but he’s slept more than he’s done anything else and i know he’s feeling better, and hungry. both are good things and I cannot protest. he looks at me sweetly, with dark circles around his eyes, a grain of rice stuck to his lip and while donning the cutest smile he says “you can lay down, i’ll turn the tv down, i know you’re tired” and he grins again. instantly i became verklempt.

verklmept

SNL verklempt

that. that right there is what it’s all about. that is what makes every other moment worthwhile. the fluid cleaning, pseudo-chef and unpaid unlicensed respiratory therapist that reside within me cheered and high-fived because even the mind of a sweet but sick little boy can recognize my efforts. if you’d explained on the parenting job description that my payment would come in the form of foggy-eyed smiles and the tired but genuine hugs of a tiny man, i’d tell you to take your job and shove it. but in this moment, i couldn’t have asked for a more satisfying payment.

you’re not a parent because you’ve submitted DNA or given your name. pushing a stroller, holding a baby or changing a diaper does not a parent make. parenting comes with the sacrifice. in fact, it is synonymous with sacrifice. parenting is the relentlessness that it takes from an adult to make a child happy and healthy. a parent isn’t born because a child is born. a parent is born when an adult puts a child before themselves. when the adult, after having no sleep, not brushing their teeth, showering, or changing their clothes can drag themselves out of the house with a worse-than-bedhead look and get more juice. a parent is born when you forget about yourself and focus only on the child. sadly, parenting and child bearing don’t actually have anything to do with each other — even though they are directly related (thehellyousay?).

some parents are better than others. some parents have more than others. some people had great parents and role models and became awesome parents and role models. some awesome parents are born from horrible people that shouldn’t be allowed to monitor houseplants, but they change their everything for their little ones. some people are well studied and some seem lucky. some people beg for parenthood and never get the chance. some people don’t want it but are blessed with it, repeatedly. It doesn’t matter how you became a parent. what matters is that you take the job seriously. children are persistent in all things. all things. and they need their parents, guardians, monitors, and providers to be just as persistent — and then some. parenting is for the wholehearted. it’s for the givers, the doers, the encouragers, and good listeners. parenting is not for the weak. it’s for the open minded, willing to learn, compassionate, young-at-heart who don’t have time to think about themselves, because their only aspiration in life is to nurture their child.

the rewards of parenting are not instantaneous or consistent. they are not guaranteed or even measurable. the rewards of parenting can only be felt in your heart — when your baby shows you how your hard work has been absorbed and appreciated. the biggest reward comes from watching your little one become a happy successful person and the look they give you to tell you they couldn’t have done it without you. the reward for parenting doesn’t come from the community, the classroom or the PTA. it can’t be handed to you, gifted to you, ordered or purchased. the real reward comes from your child, the child you care for, provide for, mentor or foster. it’s immeasurable but invaluable. more often than not, you won’t see it coming and that too is it’s beauty. the love, the respect, the appreciation for what you’ve done for that child will knock you flat on your ass, and it is in THAT moment that a parent is born.

let me plainly state, as well, that successful parenting is relative and situational. we don’t all have the same background, aspirations, resources, goals or passions. it is up to YOU (and to ME) to feel and appreciate the success we achieve as parents. we cannot look to another to validate this and we cannot succumb to the criticisms of others. only you know your struggle. only your kids know your parental love. that is a dynamic exclusive to you and yours and no one can take that from you.

i’d also like to point out that we are all human. we are not divine, perfect or flawless. we can and we will make mistakes. learning from them is all that we can do. mistakes in parenting are as constant and consistent as the doubt, love, frustration and satisfaction. it must all be taken in stride. after all, parenting is a lifelong career choice. it is not for a limited time or even for “eighteen years”. loving and caring for your child will extend beyond your imagination. from the first audible flutter of their tiny heartbeat to the day that you draw your last breath — your child, your children, your babies will be evermore the focus of your life. their happiness, pain, fun, love, dreams and desires become your own and you will exhaust yourself time and again doing whatever you can, as hard as you can, for as long as you can to guide, advise and help them. they are parts of you that live independently outside of you and you will forever-ever-ever be in awe of them.

children change you. they change your life, your views, your plans, your thoughts, feelings, and time schedule. they take over your heart and your mind and you go from being your own person to being theirs. you are their everything…but not half as much as they are yours. there won’t be a millisecond in time that you are not consumed with them from every angle, and it is in those moments — when you find the reward: the indescribable and overwhelming sense of love and pride in knowing that you “made that”!

as always, i can only tell you my experiences and share my thoughts. i welcome yours. i sought help with this post through my Facebook world and my friend JBRN shared the written advertisement below. he advised that this was not his own creation but one that he treasured and my prompt allowed him a timely opportunity for sharing. it’s quite ideal. please enjoy. don’t forget to comment, like and share! 🙂

  • POSITION: Mom, Mama, Mother (we know it’s not just moms though)
  • JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.
  • RESPONSIBILITIES: For the rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.
    Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
    POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT AND PROMOTION: Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

    • Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
    • Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
    • Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
    • Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.
    • Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
    • Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
    • Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.
  • PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required, unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.
  • WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.
  • BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for
    life if you play your cards right.

p.s. call your mother and say something nice.

baking blog ~ 2: lena b’s banana nut bread

 

i love to bake.  particularly desserts, but if you can put it in the oven — i’ll give it a try. my favorite things to bake are stand alone favorites: several types of cookies, a killer chicken pot pie, cupcakes and banana bread. i think we all (except for those that are allergic) love banana bread, don’t we? well i have a story to share about some banana bread and it is going to knock your socks off. the bread is divine. but the story, well, the story makes it better.

outside of the facts learned in school, i got (most of) my intelligence, my humor and my county-girl charm from my grandmother. she was a phenomenal person. she also taught me respect. the born-and-raised in the south and we-don’t-take-none-of-that-backtalk-’round-here respect. she taught me about personal space, real friends and why you should never keep your car and house keys in the same place. she taught me how to sew, bake and gave me Kitchen 101.

it was during our time in the kitchen that she shared with me her many recipes.  i have lots of hand written recipes and notes from her.  i have newspaper clippings, magazine pages and even some word search puzzle entries that contain recipes that she enjoyed. or at least, wanted to enjoy. of all the years and all the recipes, one of them outweighs the rest. it is her recipe for banana bread. here is an image (the measurements have been eliminated to protect the integrity of the recipe and elude the plagiarizers):

when i was in high school, the upper left corner fell off and i laminated it in an after school print shop program. we determined from the writing on the back that she had written it down in approximately 1956. *mumbling* minus the …  carry the .. and then move the… hey, yeah! that’s fifty-six years ago. that is about the same age as my parents. 🙂 i cannot provide you with any more historical information than that. she gave me the recipe and told me to hold tight to it. and i have.

i made it from time to time. not really enjoying the process or the outcome. she gave me compliments and critique along the way. if i had known, then, what i know now — i would have spent every day, since the day she gave it to me, perfecting it and honing the recipe into exactly what it is today: a legend. it’s that good.

my high school spanish teacher, used to purchase loaves from me at two dollars a piece. that was a nice little allowance until she got a loaf that wasn’t quite done in the middle and she gave up on me. understandable. i don’t remember making them too often during my college days either. what bread i did make was for my grandmother, at her request. i enjoyed it, but not enough at that time. she once told me “you make it better than i ever could”, which of course warmed my heart. i would make it for her and never think more about it.

eventually i grew up and moved out. i got a few jobs and when the spirit moved me, i would bake and share the famous bread. as time passed, i came to find that it was a certifiable crowd pleaser. it has never failed me. it has been mixed incorrectly and undercooked, but that’s user error, you see. the recipe, itself, remains consistent and predictable. exactly what a baked good should be. it has always been moist, delicious and impressive. at least, that’s what my fans tell me. 😀

i made it when i worked as a police dispatcher and have been reminded of how much it is missed.  i have made it for people along the way and always received compliments on it. i also made it for my friends at the hotel. i remember taking a loaf to the housekeeping department who promptly grabbed their morning cups of coffee and sat in silence enjoying the bread. it wasn’t until a few days later that i learned the bread was the topic of discussion that day.

i have been asked for the recipe many times to which i reply “i’m sorry, that recipe is going to make me famous. it’s a secret.” a certifiable look of disappointment comes at me followed by “well, if you change your mind”. i’ve only shared the recipe three times:

  1. after many years, my grandmother told me that she wanted to share the recipe with someone she worked with. i don’t know if you’ll believe this, but i actually refused to give it back to her. she scolded me. i retorted with my standard “make me famous” line. she didn’t buy it. i gave her the recipe. she was the author, after all.
  2. to my best friend’s grandmother (Nanny). she’s a sweet old bird who used to share “our grandkids are crazy” laughs, cured salt pork and southern lady conversation with my gramma. i made the bread, she loved it and i gave her the recipe. hesitantly.
  3. earlier today, after a little more than three weeks of deliberation and a few pleadings i shared the recipe with two of my coworkers.
    1. cee-dub (cw or coworker)one is a fellow baker who has promised me three things: a) a secret family recipe of her own, b) her help and her kitchen in creating a new baking masterpiece and c) her first-born grandchild. i intend to collect on all three.
    2. cee-dub two saved my rump last week and if my gramma were alive she would have said “you better give that girl the recipe, she helped you when she didn’t have to”… i can actually hear my gramma saying it. ugh.
    3. i started this entry a couple of months ago and have actually shared the recipe with several other people. now, you might be saying “but you didn’t share it with aaaaaaaaaaaall of those other people from way back when” and you’re right. but the fact of the matter is that i don’t follow the recipe. 😀 it’s true. i know it by heart, can predict it’s outcome and have tweaked it just enough to call it my own, so sharing it — is just a formality. it stands true, always delivers a quality product and those that have received the recipe and followed it’s instructions have yet to stop thanking me. it’s that good.

as you can see, i’m stingy. this legend of a recipe is going to put my son through college. maybe. speaking of son, he’s the number one fan. he loves the banana bread and can hardly wait for it to get out of the oven. seriously. he’s touched several hot loaf pans and stolen countless HANDFULS and slices of the bread. it is his favorite breakfast treat.

but wait, there’s more. my job recently had a bake sale. naturally, i agreed to bake. i originally intended on making cookies. but when it got down to crunch time, i didn’t have the ingredients that i needed to make the cookies i wanted to make and then i remembered the dozen-and-a-half bananas in the garage freezer. they were provided to me by a coworker after our annual benefits fair. the bananas had been a little abused from travel and were almost prime bread making real estate. she came to my section of CubicleWorld and stated “hey baker, you should take those bananas home” (thanks, Paula, i miss your smile). perfect. the recipe is simple and doesn’t require special ingredients. so i decided to make banana bread.

the sale required that all foods be individually wrapped and labeled for sale. i was completely oblivious to this fact, but decided to make mini banana bread bundts. they are just so cute and so perfect for a bake sale. i only have three mini pans, so i had to bake in shifts. grease and flour the pans, bake three breads, allow them to cool, wash the pans and then start anew. it took me six hours to bake a dozen mini bundts. and i still had batter left over.

i let them cool and sealed them up in my handy-dandy cake saver and travel container. a God send of a gift from my aunt, Martha Stewart and the fantastic folks at Wilton. the next morning i trotted off to work, proud and excited. when i got to the bake sale area, i had forgotten to wrap and label the cakes. i hurried back to the break room… found some clear plastic plates, white paper doilies and saran wrap. i printed up some labels and priced the pretty little breads at $3.50 each. the packaging was so simple and cute. the only thing that would have made them better was ribbon and instead of labels, vintage shabby chic graphic art tags. i started with twelve, took ten to work because my aunt and son claimed one each. ten mini bundts.

as i was preparing my food fare for sale, one of the potential patrons walked by. she saw the bread under the cake saver cover and was drawn in by its sheer beauty. she approached the table, eyes wide, inquiring

“what are those?”

and me, being me, went into my whole schpiel like i’ve just shared with you. she asked about my grandmother and i had to tell her that she had passed away several years ago and how my aunt and i had taken care of her those last few years and so forth and so on… well, the story ended in with the two of us hugging, and in tears. she had shown an interest in the bread from the start but revealed to me:

“the story makes the bread that much better. i can’t wait to taste it.”

the bake sale opened about thirty minutes later. she bought six of the twelve. i received an email at 9:26 in the morning stating that the bread sold out in twenty minutes. the entire sale was over about forty minutes after it started. almost one hundred dollars was made and thirty-five of it was from my breads. yay!

as the day progressed, i received many compliments and three requests for the recipe. consensus on the terms “moist and delicious”. another coworker poked her head around my cubicle wall stating:

“you’re the one who made the banana bread, right? well… i heard about them but i didn’t get one.”

i made her some a few weeks later. she returned the favor by making a Thomas the Train blanket for my son. he loves it. i have seen the “buyer of six” as well who shared how the bread was already a family favorite and she had also made mental note of my pan situation and was keeping her eye out for additional mini pans. sweet, right? she told me that day and every time that i have seen her since that the bread is “to die for”, but “the story makes it better”. all of the folks that i have “met” since the bake sale, whether in the cafeteria, break room, ladies’ room or in the walkway have said “you’re the one who makes the banana bread, right?” a great reputation to have, if i do say so myself.

i have made the bread regularly and always get smiles and hugs. we had a special meeting and presentation in our department last week and as part of the surprise, i made banana bread. jackie couldn’t contain herself and was ready to devour it upon sight. she sent an email around and within minutes the majority of a large bundt bread was gone. it was fantastic to watch. everyone passing my cubicle, eyes rolled back in their head with butter stained fingers saying “mmmmf, it’s so good”. i cut a few pieces and shared them with other work friends and received more warm and loving compliments. SuperBoy and The MadMan are known for asking for “MUUUUH” (that’s ‘moooooore’) while still having a mouthful.

some of us have no talents. some of us have one or two. some of us have a million different things that we’re “kinda” good at. i have one certifiable talent and it is recreating and baking my grandmother’s recipe banana bread. it’s a simple recipe, hand written by the queen herself. it’s a favorite of all family and friends, a crowd pleaser and has stood the test of time for more than fifty years. the kids, ALL kids, love it. i take pride in it. when i bake it, i use my heart. i concentrate, infuse and incorporate love in every bite (thanks, ma!). what i can tell you for fact is this: 1) the smell is divine and will attract hungry bears, or neighbors — whichever is closer. 2) i get more joy from baking it than i do from eating it. 3) i get more joy from sharing it than i do from baking it. 4) you hope, wish and pray that you might ever be close enough to watch, listen and smell it bake. if you are, i guarantee that you will never want to be far away again.

to my grandmother:

thanks, gertrude. i love you. i miss you and i wish you were here so i could bake for you. thank you for sharing and entrusting me with something so special and wonderful. it’s almost as special and wonderful as you.

XOXOO ~T

 

i don’t love it, i like it a lot

i took a humanities class once and a classmate made the statement “i love blank” (it doesn’t matter what word you use instead of blank, as long as it’s not a person). she didn’t mean that she loved it but that she liked it a lot. another student in that class (born and raised in another country) was astounded and made the statement:

“americans and “love”. you guys “love” everything when in fact you don’t. you like it a lot. you over-use the word “love” and therefore it has no meaning. “love” describes your feeling for another. not how much you like chocolate cake. americans need to use vocabulary.”

i was totally floored. she was right. and i was soooooooooo guilty of this slaughtering of such a phenomenal word. it made me think. hard. i was baffled by how much i used the word “love” to describe my affinity for items of interest.

“i love strawberries.”

“i love candy.”

“i love Outkast.”

what a verbal faux pas. and i have always considered myself word savvy. i can express myself well and i have a medium-sized vocabulary, but i tend to stick with “love”, and using profanity to express my levels of love. when prompted to express how much i actually love strawberries, my response used to be:

“i %&*@$#& love strawberries, like so &@$^*$# much.”

i know, poor form, right? bravo! for being crude. perhaps, a metaphor would have worked better. something like:

“i love strawberries the way babies love milk.”

still overusing the word, which is the opposite of what i am trying to accomplish. the fact of the matter is that the statement should be:

“i really like strawberries. in fact, i consider them my favorite fruit.”

it expresses my adoration and even expresses a level of comparison. yes, i think this is better. i took that class about thirteen years ago and i still struggle with not liking something a *&@%$#& lot. i need to do better. and considering that my down time is spent either reading with my son, blogging, words with friending or wordfeuding, i am really going to have to do better. yes, better BETTER! i will back that up with the following:

*right hand raised* i vow to use my vocabulary for all that it is worth. i solemnly swear to like things that should be liked and love people…only. i hereby promise to try my very hardest (and that is really hard) to eliminate profanity and the like from said vocabulary in an attempt to a) be a better parent and b) to put that broader vocabulary to use. yes, these things i will do. i’m gonna have to find my thesaurus.

have you seen my soul mate?

a sweetheart of a message?... or is it just sugar coating??

“You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”  ~C.S. Lewis

do you believe in soul mates? you know? the idea that we are each half of one soul and that the other half is locked inside of our long lost mate??? seems plausible, right? and explains our need to have another person close to us… near and dear to us, to whom we can confide, share, explore and learn about ourselves? right? i did believe. i mean, i do. at least, i think i do, but i can’t say for sure. i want to continue to believe, but it gets harder over time. i have to find ways to renew my faith and understanding in such an unconventional concept.

i think the term itself is over-used. it’s hard to know the true meaning of something when it is always misused. when using the term “soul-mate”, one should refer to LOVE or a loving relationship, not friendships or acquaintances. we all have different definitions of love. for most of us, we can’t even pull the words together to provide someone with a description. we know that what we feel is something deep and profound, but to actually describe it is almost outside of our abilities. we end up using emotions to relate how the love of another can devour us whole or how we thoroughly, though sometimes reluctantly, fall heel over head for someone (yes, heel over head, because that’s the way it happened for me. the one time, that i think it happened, but i still can’t say for sure).

...he loves me, he loves me not...

in my quest to further understand this concept, i have done some research. i don’t know about you, but when i have questions, i require answers. most times, those answers lead to more questions and i find myself enveloped in vicious cycle of ask, answer and awe. i dig further, in hopes, that i may find the final answer and not have to use any of my lifelines. if ever there were a case of “i need more information”, it is the quest to understand the “soul mate” (imma stop using the quotation marks (“”) every time i say “soul mate” because it’s just getting redundant and you are well aware of the topic). how can i find/locate/track my soul mate if i don’t know what my soul mate is supposed to be or entail? so… let’s start with the basics: a definition.

here is the definition of soul mate as stated by merriam-webster online:

1: a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament
2: a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs
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that seems simple enough, right? but temperament, attitude or beliefs are not limited to loving relationships. that definition could be applied to just about any relationship and that is the opposite of what i want. it can take a lifetime to find someone with the same attitude. and beliefs? well, we could spend yet another entire lifetime trying to match those criteria. let’s dig deeper, shall we? here’s a description of soul mate as stated by wikipedia:

A soul mate is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity, similarity, love, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, or compatibility.

that seems a lot like the merriam-webster definition with a few more adjectives. i do like the incorporation of “natural”. we’re getting closer, but this is not the cigar. we have yet to discover why the “soul” is involved. let us continue in our quest. ok, ok.. here’s some additional input by urban dictionary:

A person with whom you have an immediate connection the moment you meet — a connection so strong that you are drawn to them in a way you have never experienced before. As this connection develops over time, you experience a love so deep, strong and complex, that you begin to doubt that you have ever truly loved anyone prior. Your soul mate understands and connects with you in every way and on every level, which brings a sense of peace, calmness and happiness when you are around them. And when you are not around them, you are all that much more aware of the harshness of life, and how bonding with another person in this way is the most significant and satisfying thing you will experience in your lifetime. You are also all that much aware of the beauty in life, because you have been given a great gift and will always be thankful. by elliek Sep 2, 2006 (this was the first and most adored response on the site. thank you elliek.)
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very good. more criteria for our checklist, but this version brings to light that we are “drawn to them”. she uses the word connect. i think those are key points to what i am trying to define. obviously merriam-webster is a well known and recognized source for facts. both wikipedia and urban dictionary are “wikis” and so those descriptions are derived from us: the readers. we are the major contributors. since what i am looking for is from within, based on feeling and derived from emotion… it might be best to go with a more modern version instead of the conventional. who’s to say that any version is wrong? you can’t tell what another person feels and you can’t tell them how to feel. for example; you can’t look at another and determine if they have a headache or nausea (unless they are suffering a physical manifestation of this problem like loss of balance or vomiting). you can’t tell if someone has a migraine, a toothache … or, if they are in love. you can only inquire and you are then forced to believe what they tell you (well, there’s what whole actions versus words debate too, but we’ll get into that at a later date). some people, like myself, wear their hearts on their sleeve. you can look at them and almost see what they are feeling. but truthfully, they still have to confirm it with you.

by these definitions, i am soul mates with just about everyone. there is nothing here that provides me with the “a-ha!” that i am seeking to define. i am a lover. and a giver. i care deeply for family and friends, but also for people who might not always be deserving. my gramma used to tell me that i “love too hard and too fast”. it has proven to be difficult but i have learned to reel it in over the years. i tend to be overly helpful and secretly inspirational to most anyone i come in contact with. more helpful and inspirational to others than i am for myself. none of this helps me in my plight to define and locate my soul mate. perhaps i should seek a deeper description of the word(s). it is a word/phrase that i have heard many times over my lifespan and i am certain that it’s history is richer than what i have already listed. let me lookee see what i can find. (*click*type*click*type*) …aaahhhh, here we go.

according to greek mythology:

Aristophanes presented a story about soulmates in The Symposium by Plato. (The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–380 BCE. It concerns itself at one level with the genesis, purpose and nature of love.) It states that humans originally consisted of four arms, four legs, and a single head made of two faces, but Zeus feared their power and split them all in half, condemning them to spend their lives searching for the other half to complete them (let me add that: Aristophanes was a comedic poet. considered vulgar and shrewd but also considered a genius).

well, that certainly sheds a little light on that underlying feeling. the want that stems from the inside. i don’t know how realistic it is, but it certainly makes sense that if we were together as one, and then forced to split, that we would spend all eternity soul searching. there are several other definitions from several religions and philosophies providing reason and explanation to the fact that we may have been “one” a long time ago, and now we are two. or that we somehow became estranged from our other half via divinity or karma. whether we were separated from or just looking for.. we all seem to NEED someONE else. not someTHING. someONE.

with all of those answers, i still wanted more. so i “took it to the streets”. i presented the simple question: “Do you believe in soul mates?” it was presented publicly on facebook as well as personally via text message and conversation. i received a little more than a dozen responses. facebook provided: eight for yes, one for no and two i don’t knows. i received an additional three for yes via text message and one verbal confirmation. no one chose i don’t care. it seems that most everyone feels the tug of love. the internal, sometimes subliminal, quest for completion. oneness.

have you ever seen a couple that makes you stop and stare? their love is magnetic and contagious. without really knowing it, you watch them and smile, maybe even blush. they might be having an outright public conversation but there is something overtly private about them. an “inside joke”, if you will. their connectivity is intoxicating and you want to hug them both and say “you crazy kids!!” i have known a few of those couples, but one stands alone:  DaShaun and Alegria. i knew DaShaun when i was eighteen. we were acquainted with one another for maybe three years, about eighteen years ago. we had many mutual friends and shared a fondness for hip hop music. facebook brought us back together and reintroduced him to me as a family man. he married his teenage love and they have two phenomenally gorgeous children. each time i communicate with them and look at their photos, i am taken aback by the sincerity of the love that shines through. when i originally posed my soul mate question, i knew in my heart they would both answer and that their answer would undeniably be yes. read what they had to say and see if your jaw doesn’t drop!

blog research topic: soul mates

questions:

  1. what’s your theory on it?
  2. do you believe?
  3. why or why not?
talk to me people.
  • Alegria: my theory is that it depends on your personality and who you are…I know my husband is my soul mate and I definitely believe. I will say though that I am not sure that everyone has one for them out there if that makes sense…TBC!
  • Tanisha to ‎DaShaun: what do you think? 😀
  • Tanisha to‎ Alegria:  sweetheart, from the outside looking in (and reading) you two were meant for each other. it’s phenomenally beautiful to see.
  • Tanisha:  i think the same for your parents Willy and Salvador. what i see when i look at your photos, your art, your lives and being able to read about them all.. i feel honored, involved and certain that you were all handpicked for one another.
  • Alegria: oh my Tanisha you are beyond lovely! thank you and yes I must agree…D and I reunited after so many years from our youth so it always felt meant to be and my parents…well it goes without saying. I only hope that everyone gets to feel that once in their life!
  • Alegria: I am looking forward to your next blog post on this subject!
  • DaShaun:My earth hit it right on the head ! Although I must say in theory I do believe That there is someone 4 everyone, Just depends if you were in the right Mindset in that space time 2 receive your love . I do believe just Like My earth said.
  • Tanisha:  see that? poetry in motion. you two are kinetic and contagious!!!

Alegria and DaShaun

holy cow! he calls her his “earth” (i underlined, bold and italicized that in case you didn’t see it). what could be more romantic and heartfelt than that? they really are amazing people and i am anxious to see them. to reunite with DaShaun, to actually meet Alegria and to see their wonderful children: live and in living color. but, back to my point… doesn’t this little tidbit of their story renew your feeling? it does, for me. and if you’re a non-believer, how can you be after that?? did i mention that they knew each other once, went their separate ways and returned to each other years later??? that oughta be the kicker! it’s true, not everyone gets a fairy tale. every couple is not a “love at first sight” situation. we don’t all meet each others gaze across a crowded room.. and sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees (meaning, sometimes that person is right in front of you, but you’re too busy looking everywhere else). what i have come to understand is that sometimes, most times, there is something bigger than us: navigating us and guiding us. something that puts us in the right place at the right time and them BOOM!!

still, after all of that; the question, the definitions and explanations, the other questions and answers, i still find that i have more questions. what is my soul mate based on? what part of my soul? and from what age? where am i likely to find them? are they from my home town or my favorite place? are they from the place where i “found myself”? are they lost along my travels and perhaps left behind? did i just miss them, like the tour bus or the elevator? what if they are none of these things? what if my soul mate is a stranger, in another country? what if we have absolutely nothing in common, but are still “drawn” to one another? and the list could go on and on with the “what if’s” and “but’s”.

it is that entire line of questioning that brings me back to skeptical. like a lot of other life questions, no one truly has the answer. i mean, it makes me think that the mere idea of soul mates is just emotional comfort food for relationships. something we tell ourselves to stay positive and upbeat. particularly after break ups or horrible blind dates. in january, there were approximately 6.8 billion people in the world. that’s a lot of souls, a lot of match making and a lot of what if’s. i’m sure you’ve heard the statement “there’s someone for everyone”. really? are you sure about that? how sure are you about that statement? i know it sounds like i’ve given up, but i haven’t. i am just inquiring. analyzing.

do you feel like half? like half of yourself? i do, sometimes. as if there is something missing. i occasionally feel an emptiness. a yearning for someone. someone to talk to, laugh and cry with. someone with whom i share my secrets, my dreams and my weaknesses. you know, that person that “gets me”… the one that “really gets me”. that quote makes me think of the movie Hancock. with wil smith and charlize theron. they were .. uhh, different– super-hero like. she spends the majority of the movie trying to keep him away from her family. she doesn’t give any particular reason and towards the end of the movie she explains to both Hancock and her in-the-dark husband, ray (played by jason bateman), that whatever they were, they were made in twos and she and he were the last two left. “the others paired up and died”. she further clarifies their realtionship by stating:
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Mary Embrey: [talking to her husband ray, referring to Hancock] We broke up decades ago. Long before you were born. He just can’t remember.
(i skipped ray’s dialogue here).
Mary Embrey: Whatever we are, we were built in twos, okay? We were drawn to each other. No matter how far I run, he’s always there. He finds me. It’s physics.
Ray Embrey: What are you saying? Are you saying you two are fated to be together?
Mary Embrey: I’ve lived for a very long time, Ray. And the one thing I’ve learned: Fate doesn’t decide everything. People get to choose.
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charlize theron as mary embrey and wil smith as john hancock

oooooohh! physics. well that’s a nice spin. it explains the PHYSICal need to locate this other person. it helps to think that there is something innate to guide us to where we need to be. that it’s not just left up to me to try and discover this person, wherever they may be. and then here come the questions… what if you’re not in tune with your innate need for another? what if you’re oblivious to the signs? what if subtle hints are not your brand of tea? what if your soul mate is a complete non-believer and has no intention of buying into the theory? ugh.. back and forth and back and forth.
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i guess that’s where the “people get to choose” part comes in. i CHOOSE to believe. i choose to follow my heart. and, well, soul mate, if you’re out there, I HOPE YOU CHOOSE. i hope you choose to be conscious, to listen to your insides that will guide you to me. yes, soul mate, i’m talking to you. i hope that you’re prepared to have someone know you, really know you. someone who won’t mind caring for you and sharing with you. someone who wants to love you, wholeheartedly and uninhibited. someone, like me.
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while conducting my research, i spent a sizable amount of time surfing the net (as always). one of my favorite new websites is stumbleupon.com. i stumbled upon this quote, smack dab in the middle of my online ask and answer session with facebook. coincidence? happenstance? who’s to say? no matter how, it’s an awesome quote and i am so excited to share. through my three thousand words, i could not have sought a better explanation. i believe, yes, i believe. you should believe too.
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“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”

~ Bob Marley

the majestic music-making hands of mr. bob marley