Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Tea Cup Does Not Hold Frigid Air Away

It is another frosty day. We had had a lot of soup this month, and I am running out of fresh approaches for my soup pot! We have had Panera Potato, Chicken and Bean, broccoli and Cheese, Beef Vegetable. and I think the next is line is a pot of Ham and Anasazi Beans. I also have a chicken and kale recipe somewhere I need to dig out. It is definitely Soup Season!

After Friday's fall, I headed to town on Saturday for a few things. I found I did not feel as perky as I thought, but I made one impromptu stop at an upscale resale shop that had a moving sale sign in front. As discounts! I pulled in because I had been watching some sliver and turquoise napkin rings. Even with a healthy discount they were still quite pricey. I could only stretch to buy four of the eight. The owner let me choose any four I wanted.

I also saw a cup and saucer that was very reasonable. I have not bought a new one in ages mostly because I do not NEED one! But this one was so pretty, don't you think? Its delicate shades of golden yellow with dainty pastel flowers were so pretty. It feels light and fine, but not too fragile. It is Noritake, but know little about that kind of china. Does anyone recognize the pattern or know the name?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cleaning Can Be Dangerous!

Writing came to a halt a couple of days ago as life intervened. The house was filthy, the refrigerator bare, the laundry baskets overflowed, and my brain was tired anyway. The weather still  had frigid nights and snow was whispered to be lurking about. Even today while the air is warmer, the skies look like an angry sea with frothy white caps on gray waves. Although the winter feels long since snow started in December, it is still only January, much too soon for pinks and yellows to appear even inside the house.

So I decided I could at least dust, rearrange stuffed shelves, straighten the hutch. Just wiping things down in the dining room would be exercise, physical work to offset the mind, and would surely pick us up to see  shiny things again somewhere. While DH slept, I sorted laundry and turned on the oven. I stirred up a batch of corn muffins from the white corn meal we picked up at Metamora, Indiana last October. It would be a nice little recalling of the trip. Then I set to unloading the hutch, dusting shelves, washing glasses. All went well until I started putting things back on the very top. About half done, I wanted to step down and did, forgetting I was on the top step of the ladder stool. I realized too late that the floor was nonexistent where I expected it, fell backward, hit a sideboard on the way down taking a few dishes and pictures from the wall with me. Once I hit the floor, things were still falling because they were hitting me. Ah, DH had his wake up call that day!

It was amazing that only china broke; I still had moving parts on my body. Oh, but did I hurt! The day was a long one as things had to be cleaned up. I guess this is one prescription for  spring cleaning: Just throw dishes on ceramic tile floor and sweep away!

This morning I don't feel great but could be a lot worse! I made us a full breakfast with bacon, eggs, and hot tea. Then DH helped me shake some rugs, picked up his own mess, and helped put away yesterday's laundry. I am quite tired and think I will just read for fun this afternoon. I am reading Grandmother and the Priests by Taylor Caldwell for my book classic for my book club. Slipping into the Scottish Highlands sounds like a good escape for the day!

It will soon be the last week in January...the year moves forward. I think surely some daffodils and forsythia might be in our future one day! Until then, I suggest avoiding spring cleaning!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Writing and August, Osage County

I am now two thirds of the way through January, my designated writing month. I have poured myself onto the page, spent hours tackling the biggest challenge yet for me, and with twenty-four pages typed, I still am not sure where it is going. Will this be a novella, a long short story, a novel in the making maybe? I only know I had a character in my head, and she wanted to speak. So I am giving her voice, and together we are exploring relationships and hardships.

When I heard a little about August, Osage County I knew I really wanted to see this movie for several reasons. The first was it was a movie about family, albeit a dysfunctional one. I wanted to see how the writer handled the family relationships, how he unfolded the dealings among the family unit. I wanted to see how Osage County was portrayed on the big screen, to see the cinematic scenery the film used with the story.  And of course, who wouldn’t want to see Meryl Streep work her movie magic taking us to that country of “willing suspension of disbelief”.

Reviewers aren’t always kind to this movie, but I think I would like to watch it again to see if I could detangle all the emotions presented. The family drama went so fast, fighting and cursing all the way, that my mind was in shell shock by the end. All the characters had some kind of secret, addiction, or flaw that the drama unfolded like a soap opera going fast speed. It felt like the story skimmed the surface of the issues, but maybe I was just too slow to comprehend.

I did not like the foul language even though bad words are also a part of life. However in this story’s case, the bad words were used too often. They no longer held shock value or expressed anger. I had to wonder how much meaningful dialogue was left out to accommodate the gutter language. I ignored it when I could; I felt somewhat offended because most people from Midwest Oklahoma don’t talk this way.

In the end, the movie does not shed any light on why one member can ride herd on a whole family. Why is it that certain people in families, in neighborhoods, in work places have the power to annihilate the dreams and comfort of others? I have never understood why some get by with the transgressions they do and why others stand by failing to hold them accountable for their wretched behaviors. In this movie, the mother’s rough childhood was no excuse for the abject meanness she exercised in her family. However, it was a honest portrayal of life when the oldest daughter mimicked her mother’s miserable side.

Views of northern Oklahoma were beautiful without a doubt. DH and I saw roads we had traveled on, saw buildings we had driven by on sunny days. The new building revamping project of Ree Drummond could be seen if one knew what they were looking for. Oh, and the prairie! The beautiful golden autumn grasses and rolling hills…beautiful scenery for prairie lovers!

It will take more pondering to sort out my feelings about the movie. Meanwhile, I must get back to my own work.
A couple of writing ops:

Call for Submissions: Car-Free Poetry Anthology

Poet who has lived for 14 years without a car in Phoenix seeks submissions for a print anthology.

 Car-free poems feature people walking, bicycling, riding a subway, bus or train to get around.

 For full details and submission guidelines, visit www.carfreepoetry.net  Deadline: February 1st

 Call for Submissions: Revolution House: Spring 2014Online submissions link: https://revolutionhouse.submittable.com/submit The editors of Revolution House Magazine are currently reading submissions of poetry, nonfiction and graphic stories for issue 4.1, due out Spring 2014. Fiction (both flash and short story) submissions will reopen on February 10.Peruse previous issues and submissions guidelines here http://revolutionhousemag.com/

Friday, January 10, 2014

Is Writing Painful?

I read somewhere this last month that “the cold causes brain freeze”. Although not a normal response for me, I found this winter’s cold responsible for a big brain freeze. Normally, I look forward to January as the snow and cold make for my best writing. This year the cold, ice and snow started in December annihilating the holiday season. Then another attack arrived in the first of January. I found I had trouble focusing on reading even the best of books and writing was, well, non-existent.

Finally at the first of this week I could again set my bottom in the office chair (and it did still fit somewhat after the holidays!) to write. I warmed up and gradually got going. All week, I had the tendency to postpone a bit, but long talks with myself shamed me to the desk. This is not writer’s block I am talking about because I have numerous ideas, one special one ready to go. I just did not know how to begin, dreaded to begin, or something. But I begin I did. My mind did start to thaw.

Then a new kind of writing pain comes to the front. When I get into the swing of a good story, I don’t want to stop. Who wants to leave 1850’s Illinois or 1890 cowboy Kansas or modern day Santa Fe for cooking a meal, laying a table, cleaning up dishes or swishing a toilet or paying bills? I feel torn away from my characters and their lives when I have to step back into the real world. I want to stay with them, to see where they go and what they do next. I do NOT want to leave their world for a door bell, a phone, or a hungry face even if it is my own. This morning I wrote a death scene and am glad to have finished, at least before revisions. Now a break and then I will do the sex scene. Oh mercy, how will THAT go?

There is another kind of pain with writing, the physical. I try to exercise early in the morning to warm up my muscles as well as my mind. Yet some days the writing comes first or other life intervenes. When I sit at the computer, I tend to sit in one position. When the words start flowing like lava, I don’t stop but hammer quickly to get them all down while I can. Then when I do take a break, I find standing up means aching in the old hips and thighs. The shoulders might be as unyielding as a windmill blade if the story action was fast or the scenes fraught with angst.

Of course, there is yet the pain from an editor dismissing Miss Ellie’s charm as a seductress or ignoring completely the song a reader might hear from Dandy Dan’s Irish tenor on the page. Rejection is yet another pain in writing, but that is another story.

Do you find writing painful?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snow and Soup Day

I think Winter, 2014 intends to yank our comfort chains, remind us that Mother Nature is the Boss! Our forecast 2-4 turned into at least 6 inches of snow. Now the temps will drop to zero tonight.

One storm right after another makes for lines at Walmart.  I have done my best to stock up ahead of time. I have books, movies, tea, and books. Ah, confinement with all that is the good life! This morning we had sausage and egg breakfast, a departure from fiber muffin or yogurt. Why is it that a blanket of snow gives us permission to celebrate with food? Even before breakfast, I had a pot of vegetable beef soup going, substance for a snowstorm.

I love my own soup! It is made like my mother’s soup, long and slow in stages. The first means sweating lots of onion, celery and garlic. Then adding beef, water and a dab of beef bouillon if on the shelf.  An hour later, canned tomatoes, potatoes and carrots until tender, then adding cabbage, okra, peas, and a bit of corn.  This morning I found I had no cabbage, horrors! So I dropped in a spot of frozen spinach and some black beans left over from New Year’s Day. It all looks and smells wonderful. DH thinks this pot of soup springs to life by itself. He does not know the peeling, chopping, dicing, boiling, stirring…he only knows slurping! J

Before the last snowstorm I was feeling a little low and REALLY dreaded a fast run to Walmart. I did not need much and I asked DH to drive me to the door and wait for me while I fetched. He was happy to do so. I was sailing along, basket beginning to heap, when I ran into a pleasant man in the meat section. He asked me how to use the Hog Jowls he was holding in his hand. Thus a long conversation began. He let me know how hard it was to cook for himself, a single man, and how he ate too much junk food.

By the time I got to the car and explained, DH asked if the man was hunting a woman. I don’t know, but I explained to DH that it would take a much different line for this woman! No, I don’t want to hear how hungry a man is, how he needs mothering. I would look for the one that says, “I make wonderful baked chicken with a tasty broccoli side, and I would love to cook for you.” I would beat the guy to his truck in the parking lot for sure!

But that is another story. Now while soup simmers, I, still in my flannels, am going to go get lost in the pages of a comforting novel. Happy Snow Storm to you all!