Alaska

Alaska
My Log Cabin in Alaska

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bake-O-Mania!



 I really could do a better job with this blog, but it’s November and I am participating in National Novel Writing Month, Nanowrimo.org and I am attempting to get an entire book written in just 30 days. Hey, I am having trouble keeping up with my regular routine, add in this contest thing and I am just goofy. But I promised myself that I would keep up with this little blog. And I am trying to spruce up my little garden by talking about more than just one topic, so…..

 

It's Time To Bake!

 

It’s fall, getting close to Thanks Giving and all that cool baking. If you are anything like me it’s going to be a bake fest until sometime after the first of the year when we will all be sadly looking at our bathroom scales and wondering what ever made us eat so much!

Well, face it, nothing anyone can say is going to change that little fact, we, like bears going into hibernation, engage in hyperphagia during the holidays, even if we think we are just eating a little bit at a time. But, here is the cool thing: I’m not going to say a thing to try to talk you or me out of it. That is what the Holidays are for, munching down with the fam.

In fact, I’m going to offer a cool recipe that I love and have used for years and years, even used it in a summer school program. Yeah, you know me, madam Do-It-Myself, I make my own bisquick mix. Why is this actually better for you? Less salt, whole wheat flour.

I make up a double batch every time because I use it that much. I put in a link to the website, too, because I can’t possibly add in all the cool recipes that come with this mix. No kidding, not just biscuits and pancakes, they have cookies, cakes, dumplings, even pie crust. I made an apple cobbler just today with this cool stuff.

Do yourself a favor and give this a look.

Smaller batch of Missouri Mix

  • 8 cups flour (all-purpose, whole wheat or any combination)
                            (3 c whole wheat, 5 c unbleached works well for me)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1-1/2 cups shortening

Makes 11 cups mix.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Sift to assure even distribution of ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until mix is the consistency of cornmeal. I make it easy on myself and I use my pretty Kitchen aid Mixer.

For the rest of the marvelous recipes and ideas please look at the website, it is the University of Missouri Extension Office, the 4-H people.  http://extension.missouri.edu/p/GH1055

 

 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hand Washing on A Rub Board, A Blessing

   




You gotta love a washboard on a sunny day. What? You say you think there is something wrong with me on more than one level? Nay, on many levels.

   
  
   First, a rub board is green. Face it, no electricity, same water is used for the entire week’s worth of clothes, in order of course - whites to darks - and three tubs; wash, rinse, final rinse. You just use less water. You hang the clothes on a line, no electricity, and you really figure out what ‘fresh’ smells like.

    That’s a good reason, a fashionable and popular reason to hand wash, but that is not the real reason, not what motivates me.I am not the only one in the world who hand washes clothing. It is part of entire cultures right here in the great Midwest, remember the Amish? There are plenty of people who still hand wash, all for different reasons.

    As I scrub each piece of clothing I have time to think about the one who wears it, and I can say a prayer for that one. I can relive a memory and share a forgotten laugh. For me, it’s also back to nature, it’s time to reflect, time to be thankful for what I have, and time to dream and plan.
  
    As I settle down to really scrubbing the gunk out of the white socks I recall the most spiritual Easter weekend I ever spent with my children. We did not go to church, we became church. We went camping and escaped this worldly realm to experience life as pilgrims in Jerusalem on the very week that Jesus returned, triumphant but riding on a donkey. I wash my socks as we washed our socks in the waters of the Jordan river (the lake) and recalled these stories as if we were there, watching them, from the man carrying the water and directing the disciples to the upper room, to the devastating after noon of torture and death, to the morning when the women returned to the tomb only to find it empty. I recall my daughter’s innocent voice “Mommy, they have taken our eggs and we know not where they have laid them.” And we went out searching for eggs. I am blessed that I have this time to hand wash my clothes.

    Washing a week’s worth of dirty clothes, sheets, and towels can bring a family closer, too. You disagree? Picture this: 5 tubs of water, the first with soap, the rest to rinse, and when the wash water gets too dirty, it gets dumped and fresh water is added, it becomes the final rinse and soap is added to the next tub, the one that was first rinse. You sit at the first tub, the wash tub with the rub board, your young son sits next to you, first rinse. You can show him the fine art of sloshing while you discuss other important things, like being scared the first time you rode the school bus. Next comes young daughter, rinsing and looking for missed stains. She gets to check details and return imperfect work to ‘the scrubber’ a fun precursor to the health profession. Last rinse falls to older daughter. She is the final judge, then Dad wrings and hangs. And through out the event, we are able to talk, really talk. I am blessed to have this memory and this time to relive it. I miss my children.

    I am in a long line of hand washers, sometimes there was no choice, sometimes it was convenience, but it is the chore that binds us together and makes us stronger.

    Hey, but all that aside, I get time to sort out my stressors and take my ‘grrr’ out on something that can’t say ‘ouch!’ And, just between you and me, right now, I do it out of stubbornness. The hubby said I spend too much money! Yea, right.


    Now, if someone happens to remember any of this in a different light, please feel free to click on that comment button and share your experiences.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chicken Soup


No, this one will not go to the stewpot
      

     Mmmmmm. A fine day’s work today. And it’s early enough to do more if the spirit moves. I have a couple of chickens in the freezer and one in the stewpot. Yep, Chicken Soup tonight!
      Yes, Chicken soup is good for the soul. Good for the heart, mind, and any friend or loved one who may be feeling under the weather. Chicken soup is a great dish to impress the mother in law, or to have waiting for you in the slow cooker after a long hard day at work. Chicken soup is more than comfort food, and a good series of books, it is a spiritual teacher.
    

     I will share my recipe, of course, but then my children, and my cousins, already know my recipe…..throw in everything but the kitchen sink. It’s a family recipe, handed down from mother to daughter. The grandfather’s contributed, too, they usually brought in the cleaned and plucked chicken, and often times they grew the veggies that helped to fill the pot!
  • 1 fresh chicken, I use half these days since I only feed 2 now, and it is always the first one off the butchering table. Do not, I repeat, do not use a de-boned chicken! Those bones are important, cook ‘em down, crack ‘em and get that goodie out of them. Yeah, you can take the skin and fat off, but leave those bones in!
The rest of the ingredients are ‘to your taste’
  • Potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, cut to your favorite size
  • Turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, flavored with a bit of ginger and maybe some curry if you like
  • You can add some greens about an hour before it’s ready to serve, ever thought of chopping up a handful of Swiss Chard in your soup? Yum!
  • Season your soup with just about anything, I put several cloves of garlic, cut into chunks, for the great flavor and nutrition.
  • I will almost always add a jar of home canned tomatoes (not going to plagiarize my special recipe with canned tomatoes!)
  • I also like a variety of summer squashes in my soup.
  • Fresh herbs, as many as you like, parsley is good for the heart, sage and rosemary give it a holiday flair, chili seasonings or hot sauce will give it a kick, Hey fix it to suit you
  • I will almost always add a handful, or two, of barley, give it a couple of hours if it is in the slow cooker
  • Noodles are a must, if this soup is to be a gift for a sick friend.
  • At the end, you can thicken it a bit if you wish, a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed into a half cup of water to keep your soup gluten free.
Oh, you say you like dumplings? Or fresh egg noodles? Well, that is a different blog altogether, so before you are ready to serve your soup, add the dumplings and cook as directed.

     But, there is another step, it is one of the most important steps in good cooking! You gotta taste it from time to time to make sure the seasonings are just right. You will need a tasting spoon, it will be sitting near your stirring spoon. I still have the wooden spoon that I got from my Aunt, and she got it from my Gramma. You will taste your soup from time to time and add a spice or a bit more water if you think it needs it. But, you will not be the final judge, and you know it. Before you set your soup on the table or take it to the neighbor or the Church potluck, you will have at least one other person taste it, just to make sure. Then, if it passes all the taste tests, it will be ready to serve.
     Now, isn’t that the same as writing? We put in our best skills, stringing words together, then grooming them to perfection. But give it that last taste test, take it to the critique group before trying to publish!

     Did I leave out your favorite veggie or seasoning? Or did I miss a great writing tip? Please click on that button down there and leave your comment. I’m still learning this blog stuff, so have some patience with me. Thanks!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

And So I Write


If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one nearby to hear it, does it still make a sound?

I seem to remember that debate from some class I had years ago, and although I cannot remember most of what was said that day, I remember the way it makes me feel, still today.



If I say a word and my children do not listen to me, have I lost my word? Or did I just not make a sound to begin with? And if I write a word, and no one bothers to read it, does that word even exist?
 
Well, as time has proven, my words did have a bit of impact. My children grew and prospered. I have succeeded. And so I take hope.

Consider the stars. They are many and they fill the universe as we know it. They are tiny beacons twinkling silently, often unnoticed. But they stand through time and offer themselves, a guide to any lost soul searching for direction. And we learn from the stars. We learn about great distances and how we, our tiny and insignificant selves, possibly came into existence. And we learn about eternity.

As I admire the twinkling of a far distant ball of energy and ponder how many, many eons it may have taken for that pinpoint of light to grace my eyes and fill my heart, I know. My words will not fade. The words I write came from an energy in my mind, sculpted into form by my soul and set free by my voice or pen, and they float into this vast eternity again. One day, my words, like the light of this star, will grace the eyes and possibly guide the soul of another.

And so I write.

Share what motivates you to complete a task when there is very little to encourage you, and we will all be uplifted.
 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Carving Angels

     
     A person dear to me is undertaking a noble feat. She is writing a book. And like all of us, she sometimes says mean things to her poor innocent words. Now, I know several people who have written lots of books, long and short. I, myself, have begun that same journey. I will concede; writing a book can be daunting. It may even lead a person to wail, “What ever made me think I could possible do this!”
    
    
      Immediately I think of Michelangelo’s Angel carved out of a single block of marble. When asked how he was able to crate such a shape he replied. “I saw the angel in the stone and carved away the excess untill I set it free.”
    
     So just keep piling up those words. Create that gigantic marble block. And if you think it is difficult and you face days when you don’t think you can haul a single word, just consider how much fun it must have been to move that big rock for Michelangelo.


Then, when your pile is big enough, you can carve away the excess and imperfect parts to finally release your own masterpiece.

O yea, I have several of these dear women in my life, just sayin' :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chains vs Walls

     A while back I was chatting with someone at the local library. The conversation centered around children’s books, topics of interest, animals, Alaska, and ultimately sled dogs. Now, I can’t claim to have a gift for reading people, but I did become aware of a shadow which crossed this lovely lady’s face. I don’t know if I was just feeling my Cheerios that day, or if it was the heat (Texas can be dreadful in the summer) or if it was just the effects of the chili I had eaten earlier that day, but I made the decision to push the matter - just to see what might happen. I cocked my head, ever so slightly to the side, pressed a half grin to my lips and said, as lightly as I could with my gravely voice, “You obviously don’t approve.”
     “I just think the whole business is cruel.” She commented without a smile on her perfectly made up face, which was nicely framed by her well coiffed, Clairol blond hair.
     Of course, I assumed she was referring to the long miles of running in harness over frozen tundra and steep mountainsides. I wisely began to explain that these dogs are not couch ornaments, but well trained, perfectly fed athletes.
     She cut me off, with a shadow of a scowl, and retorted, “It’s the chains! They tie those poor dogs up with short chains, outside in all weather. I think it’s cruel and should be stopped.”
     My face flushed in a sudden wave of real anger at her truly odd answer, or maybe it was just that pesky chili again. I took a deep slow breath and struggled to regain my composure. Yea, it happens, rare, but true. For a moment I had no words. My head spun with a dozen arguments to defend a sport and lifestyle that I love and admire. As my head began to clear I remembered a quote on a Harley Biker’s t-shirt, “If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand”
      My eyes met hers. Her gaze was steady and her lips were set. I knew she was ready for a debate, very likely with factoids from any number of animal rights groups, none of whom had even a clue about working animals, neither dogs nor horses. My eyes dropped to her salon sculptured French nails resting lightly on her computer keyboard and her soft, milk white hands. She had a pretty ring on her index finger, but no wedding band. Not quite self conscious, just observant, I looked down at my own hands, old, weathered, calloused and yes, dirty, cracked nails. I fingered my own cherished wedding band and I grinned. No, she surely would not understand and no amount of explanation would help. Again I met her eyes and gently (well she probably only heard the gravelly) I said, “Well, that’s your opinion, I suppose, and you have a right to state it.”
      I suppressed the urge to repeat any of the off colored remarks I could remember about opinions and concluded my business at her desk. Come to think of it, I bet she was a vegetarian, too!
     Now, you are probably set for a lengthy discussion involving the sport of mushing, but that conversation will just have to wait. The issue here is chains vs. walls or fences. Bottom line, that woman was wrong on many levels. Chains are far less constricting, far less stressful, far less dangerous than fences or walls.
     Our example is a pack of dogs, working dogs, not pets, the only thing that matters is going down the trail, and going in front of every other dog. And, for a group of anything, not just dogs, the only thing that matters in that group, is ‘who is boss’. If the group is together and not supervised there is a risk to valuable muscle, fur, and training as that group figures out who is in charge. Lots of blood will be shed to decide that one. (Think I’m kidding, just look at the group dynamics in your own office!)
     The next thing on the agenda is going down the trail and the biggest obstacle is the fence. If you own a dog you know that there are two ways your dog will get on the other side of that fence, climb or dig, and if you tell me that your dog has never escaped, I will laugh! Now, try that with a dozen highly trained athletic dogs, and you have a problem! But, you put them on their own chains, next to their best friends, and you have happy dogs, provided you do your part and keep them clean, fed, and exercised. First, they know who is boss, you are. Next, they know their boundaries, the end of the chain. Finally, they see no obstacle to maneuver past (they can’t see the chain) all they see is the wide open space you have provided.
     I climb into my big pickup truck and my eyes again rest on my wedding band, my own personal collar. Love and pride well up in my soul and fill my eyes with emotion that trickles down my cheek. Well, I do have an advantage here, my hubby made my ring in his shop and each time I look at it I can almost breath in the essence that makes up the man to whom I gave my life.
     It is the velvet chain that attaches me to this relationship. He has allowed me the freedom of going where I wish and doing what makes me happy. The freedom of learning new things, and trying new adventures. The joy of taking a risk and either finding success or learning how to try again. He provides for me and protects me, but he does not control me. No walls, no fences. I did break free of the suffocating, controlling walls of a previous relationship. That one was not freedom, not comfort, not protection, just control, just fences. I could not see the world from where I was in that relationship I could only see the walls, the control, and I escaped.
     Yes, this gentle, velvet chain which binds me now, also allows me the freedom I crave. And just so you know, those dogs that can pull a loaded sled for hundreds of miles, if you think that the chain and the collar can hold them, think again! They do make the choice to stay on the chains, because they love the life they live, and because they can see farther than a wall or a fence that might hold them captive.

I would love to hear your own opinion, just click that little 'comment' button down there and share! Do you prefer chains, or walls?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

DIY Dilemma

I do it my self!

It is one of the first things you will hear from a precocious toddler, and probably one of the last things you will hear from anyone else. Sadly I am one of those from the latter group. If someone else can do it, I can too! And I want to do it, and I want to do it my way. Now, class, can anyone tell me what is wrong with that picture. Maybe this clue will help. You know the two guys on that cool cable show where they try to disprove various claims of how things work (and they like to blow things up, too) What is the first thing they say at the beginning of every show. “Don’t try this at home, we are professionals and we have had years to practice, a team to help us, and we have all the tools and safety gear in place already. We are the professionals.

See my hackles raise up in defense, my pupils dilate and my blood pressure raise at the thought of a challenge? And see me sitting here in the unemployment line and still without a published work? I guess that is how it works in the real world. I look in the mirror and I see a roaring lion, and I suppose that is a good thing, I have a good self image, but do I have a realistic image. Time to do one of those self diagnosis test things that computer do to make sure that all their parts are working correctly. 1. Do I have the knowledge, 2. Do I have the skills, 3. Do I have the tools, 4. Do I have the experience, 5. Do I have the support or financial backing, 6. Do I have the space and time, 7. Do I have the stamina to see this thing through to the end. And something tells me that I only have a small part of that ‘prep’ list that I need to check off before I can even begin my next DIY project (or consider that my next book is finished and ready for the publisher).



Am I being true to myself now, or am I showing my age? Maybe I am just now, finally, getting to the point where I am mature enough to admit that sometimes I cannot do it all myself and that I do need to follow a prescribed set of guidelines. (see the other self screaming in the background ‘but what about Einstein!) In order to be on the cutting edge of anything, you must know the basics so well that you can, are able to, push the envelope. You cannot push the envelope until you truly know what that envelope is. How can I say it better? I saw a special on TV about a guy who did trick diving (swimming pool diving) The one thing he made sure he told his audience was that you must know how to do it right before you can safely do it wrong.

That does not mean that anyone who desires to set off on their own should not be encouraged to do so, Nay! I concede and fully understand that one must have that extra energy it takes to create something that has not been created before. One must have the courage to step out on a limb and take a risk with something wild and new. And if the desire and idea is there, then the courage must be there as well. But if one wishes to DIY, one needs the education and background even more than the mainstream group who is willing to follow the guidelines without a challenge. Otherwise one’s project, whether it is a hand built log cabin in the woods, a cool car restoration project, or the next ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Hunger Games’ series, will look like a ramshackle mess, unfinished and uninspiring, and alas, unsold.

So how does that concept fit in with the pre-planning and teamwork thing, and how does it fit in with my own DIY personality? I have no idea, I am still working on that one myself!

Any words of encouragement or new ideas to share? Click on that Comment button down there and share them!
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Perfect Salad

Last week I made one of my famous noodle and green pea salads in preparation for my daughter's visit. Although she cannot bear the taste of green peas, she loves my salad and I make it often whether she is coming or not. I also prepared turkey drumsticks for the grill, my feeble attempt to create a memorable and nutritious meal for the loving children who would be coming to help me with some work on my little house project.

So my wonderful helpers include of course my daughter, the oldest of my brood, my homemaker, bridge builder, super-mom, girl scout leader, and now part-time-working-out-of-the-home mom. Her hubby, my first son in law, pride of my heart, provider and great father to my granddaughters. And of course the grand daughters, my first. I cannot see them or think of them and not remember the day my daughter, full of trepidation, shyly slipped her store bought pregnancy test from under her coat. She was afraid of what I might say, since she was young and not fully settled. But I already knew in my heart that her chosen life partner and love of her life would be there forever, and all I could think of was….. Well I could not even think for the joy in my heart. I would be a grandmother. And that just about says it all. But the best part is that I get to have that same feeling absolutely every time one of my children presents me with the same news (total so far and all inclusive is 8). And I wanted to make sure I fed these wonderful lives the best way I could!

But as always, I digress, always chasing rabbits, straying from the story line, but you know well, when you prepare a meal for anyone, your mind is on those precious lives.
So what is my special recipe?
  • Salad noodles, the whole regular sized package, cooked according to package directions (when I follow the directions)
  • Most of a jar of salad dressing or mayo, lately I have been using the olive oil or canola oil style and it works pretty good.
  • And a can of peas, well drained, since the hubby loves to drink it cold from the can.
  • Then I add what ever I feel like might taste good that day. I would list those things, but I may run out of room, the template here is only so big you know! I few things may include: (or not)
    • Minced onion
    • Minced celery
    • Mushrooms, brown or white, sliced or chopped
    • Cheese, your choice, cut to your favorite size
    • Pickles, dill or sweet depending on the day
    • Jicama do try to pick a good one, though and cut it up small!
    • Olives, green or black
    • Pimentos
    • Sweet corn nibblets
You get the idea, you put what feels good at the time, then add in the spices you like as well, easy on the salt, heavy on the cilantro or the parsley, dill adds a kick, and you can never have too much garlic or ginger for my darling husband! You can go nuts with the seasonings and not hurt a thing!

If you throw in some cooked chicken or ham or what ever sort of protein you are interested in, you have a full meal. Hey, add what you like, how much you like, it’s your salad!

After a hard day toting heavy lumber to the upper floor of my tiny house project, we sat down to dinner. My daughter took one bite of the salad and just closed her eyes to savor the moment. With her mouth crammed full she announced, “This is home! This takes me back to everything good.”

Now, as a Mom, you gotta admit, that is a compliment. Especially when you take into consideration that I put stuff in that salad that I had never put in before! However - As an adventurer I must add that this is not just my perfect salad recipe, it is my recipe for life. And it is that life that my daughter always remembers. You may have a plan for your day and you may follow it to the best of your ability, but there are times when you need just a bit more of something different. Never be afraid of throwing a new ingredient into your life, add some spice to your routine, and try some new crunchy adventure. Because the treats and treasures that make up those memories are never what was laid down in a concrete plan, but they are the things thrown in because they promised to taste really, really good, just for that day.

Salad may be good for the body, but adventure is good for the soul.

Feel free to click on that little comment button down there and add your own thoughts on salads or adventures! Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

At the grindstone

Wow, the news is just crazy today. Viagra for the Brain, this cool new drug that makes a person some sort of super do'er! Work 20 hours a day, get hundreds of cool things done - all at one time - at a top notch quality. Uh --- hello out there --- That's called Motherhood! And it don't take a pill ta get 'er done!

No, it takes elbow grease. Time at the grindstone. That good ol' term, 4 letter word called work.  I worry about folks who think they need to take something to get more done and get it done faster. Seems like a fast track to a mental illness. Remeber all the old movies about folks who are looking for the fountain of youth? What happens the next morning? The poor person either dies or turns into an ancient mummy. Yea, I think I will stick to the old fashioned way.

But, as always, I digress! I was talking about having my nose to the grindstone. I have read three books, taken hubby to the doc four times, canned carrots, and put up a bunch of turkeys (in the freezer) since I was in here last. I am about ready for a vacation. I have also been working daily on some specific skill in my writing - every day. Yea, back to the grindstone. But in baby steps.

I do have a plan:

1. Write some every day
2. Edit and revise only after I have completed a section
3. Loosely follow an outline and organize thoughts in a scratch pad
4. Read, read, read in the genre I am writing
5. Read, read, read for pleasure
6. Write some more
7. Research little factoids important in my story
8. Write a bit and read some good blogs
9. Research agents and the market
10. Go sit in the garden and reflect, then start over

Of course that is on top of the regular work around the place, but it is becoming routine, habit, somewhat easier. Hmmmm it occurs to me that when you lay some garden tool to the grindstone, it works much better. Is that what is happening to me? As my muscles tone up with the yard work, my mind tones up with the writing. My outlook is brighter and even the hubby is happier. Life is good.

As to the grindstone on the Garden Bench, I think my next goal will be to add a new page. Any suggestions here? I am soooooo not comfortable with all the techno gadgets and stuff like that, but since I read this cool new book, I am inspired to start a page dedicated to books, my own and those that I have read. I would like to write a book review, but it will need its own little plot in the garden. And if I just learn a little bit each time, pretty soon this will be easy, too!

And I think in another corner of the garden I may try to figure out how to list some of the wonderful blogs I have been reading. So, with the planning outlined, and the tools lined out, it's back to the grindstone. Time to learn something new.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Inspiration vs Planning



I should at least try to get in here more than once every six months! When I opened this thing today, they had made all sorts of changes! But I am here and I am going to try to dust some of the cobwebs off the bench, pluck a couple of weeds and maybe arrange a few pretty things in the garden. I know that I have a whole bucket full of tools to use, but it occurs to me that they work better if you know how to use them. I suppose I could just try a few of them and see what happens. If I don't like it I will either run away and hide from this scary laptop, or I will try to dig it up and toss it into the recycle bin!

Now, is that a bit of planning or what! Now that I think of it, I am also a list maker! Yea, I am a planner! NOT. This is not even good inspiration. And I know it. I shudder to think that I may be considered lazy, don't think that one is in my list of descriptors. Not sure that I can think of my self as not wanting to learn something new. I jump with joy at new learning and new concepts. OK, here's me being honest, don't like change! Sure! The person who has moved more times in her life than a Gypsy and brags about being flexible. Well, maybe I just don't like it when someone surprises me with a change, but that is what flexible means isn't it. Is it truth time yet? I hear a tiny voice in the back of my head and I am looking for a flyswatter or the mosquito repellant, but it is still there. Ok (see me peeking out from behind the bench and quivering in my flipflops) I would rather face a room full of spiders, snakes and mice! I really don't like technology. Not comfortable with computers and I am not sure I trust all of this. (Are my many birthdays showing yet?) Here is one of my mantras, maybe it is a crutch, or an excuse: It's not if the computer will crash or get hacked, it is when! And when technology fails, where are we! So that is why I don't get in here much, and it has cost me more than I care to say. But I digress! That is not what I came in here for.......

Planning vs Inspiration.  Which one shall be my guiding light. Which one will carry me to great heights. Face it, I believe in inspiration.

The fire that burns in your soul and will not be quenched until you fan it, feed it, and let it move you. The ideas that come to you in the middle of the night, or during dinner, and you scare everybody in the room as you jump to capture that moment on paper. Or the juicy tidbits that float into your soul while you are so busy with something else that you can do nothing but try to memorize them - and do a horrible job on what you are currently working on while your mind wanders. Then the tidbit slowly dissipates, your current project looks like your youngest grandchild worked on it and you stand there feeling like you just ran a marathon in your brain. Yea, that sort of inspiration. Now that I look at it this way it does not seem very efficient, but where would we be without it. Inspiration. Your muse advising you with that small voice. The words which simply must be divine in nature and origin! Maybe I can instal a switch, turn it on when I am ready to use it, then switch it to 'silent mode' when I need to do other things. ---- Methinks me muse jest stomped off in a huff! ---

Planning! There we go. A nice orderly life, you know exactly what is next and how you are going to do it. Anyone reading this who has ever known me just snorted **** bubbles! I have a theory about the word plan. First of all it is a four letter word! Second, if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plan! Finally, I don't care what it is, when you lay down a great plan and set out to follow it, someone is going to throw a wrench into it and flub it all up. It's Murphy's Law! Never fails, you know "The Best Laid Plans of Men and Mice Go Oft' Awry!"

So, I am screwed. But, no, I am also stubborn as an old grey mule and I kick twice as hard! I do still have a couple of rusty tools in my own bucket that may be of some use, if I just get them out, clean them up, and actually use them! My favorite: I am a list maker! Now, granted, I have had doctors tell me that it is a characteristic of BiPolar Disorder! (Yea, I'll show him bipolar and stick both ends of that pole where it shouldn't go!) Don't you believe a word they say, they are out to get you! (but don't tell that doc I said that!)

Lists are good, Make a master list of all the big and little projects you would love to get to some day. Don't even prioritize, and make sure there is room at the bottom to add more projects and room at the side to make notes for each project as you think of them. Now, make a list of the things you have to do each day. You can prioritize that one, or jot it down in chronological order. The one major thing on this list is that you have a big slot in there for 'Projects' He-he-he now we got a plan! And I can tell you, it sure is fun to be able to mark stuff off that big list!

So, Here I sit, with a new list, and on my list is "learn how to work that *%!@* blog" Also on my list is "write a thousand words a day". (Cheese-cake) My children will be glad to know that the dishes are also on that list, but they are on the bottom of said list.

You know, I just got a thought, sitting here on the garden bench and looking at my tools. An outline is a great list! I wonder if an outline will help my writing! I don't have to actually prioritize it, just list stuff I want in the story, make room to the side for added notes, and if I use the word processor, I can cut and paste and move stuff around. And that cool little notepad that I keep in my pocket for those moments of inspriation, I will just flip that baby out and add to my outline when I need to. Wow, what an inspriation!

Now to try one of the tools on the top of this particular page! Maybe a picture!
Well, capturing a pic from facebook didn't work....got it, after hours of fighting with a slow computer and trying out all of my other programs, oh yea, spell check on this didn't work so well for me. I Be Tired Now, gonna go someplace else and rest!

I do love my garden bench, next time I will try to learn something else.
Drop a comment if you would like, share your own views on inspiration or planning.
Untill we meet again. Happy gardening in what ever medium moves you!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The tricks of the trade

Well, it has been a while since I took the time to sit on the garden bench and ponder. O yes, I ponder and create all sorts of interesting thoughts in my daily routine (if any day of mine can be called routine) But it does me no good to just toss those thoughts into the wind and loose them. So I shall do a bit better at coming in here and trying to shoot my ideas into cyberspace. Maybe I can come back and nibble on them from time to time. (O My I forgot that time is a 4 letter word!)

So, One of my many activities is yarn crafts. I would say crochet, but I do much more than that, I also knit, and I have a few 'toys' that I enjoy making things with. I also sew with a number of different types of sewing machines. I make clothing and quilts and what ever suits my fancy. Of late, I have been doing a bunch of crochetting, yes a bunch. To the point of not even finishing the various projects! I feel soooo guilty! Because some of those projects were for Christmas presents, Last Month! Please forgive me my daughters (and the inlaw daughter as well) Just keep looking in the mail box, maybe I will get them done before next Christmas!

I have also been working on some writing. Children's stories, to be exact. And I plan to make it this time. Been writing most of my life and even sent stuff off to publishers many, many times, but so far only a couple of magazine articles have been put into print. So I am doing all the little things I should to get published the right way. Joined a group, studied the industry, contacted agents and publishers. And I am writing, hmmmm, at least most of the time! And that is what struck me today as I was trying to finish the dishes (no they are still sitting in the sink)

Writing is very similar to my knitting and crochetting. You must know the mechanics, and get it right; a line of stitching is like a line of words, the mistakes can be glaring! You really need a pattern, or at least have an idea of what the product should look like and a plan for getting there. And you really have to know the rules for getting from point start to point finish! Yea, and we all remember those nasty words "Practice makes Perfect" It does take a lot of practice to get something that looks presentable. Editing, erasing, and rewriting. I used to think it was worse than punishment, but I do know that when I am knitting or crochetting and I hold my piece up for inspection I will sometimes notice a missed stitch! So what do I do? Maybe I could just leave it? Maybe no one will notice? Not likely, from the moment I see a mistake, it glares out at me, almost with bells and whistles and a neon light! "Here I am" "What are you going to do with me now!" So I rip (erase) and redo it. Anyone who owns a hook or needle has done the same. So why am I sitting here growling at my word processor and trying not to hit the 'backspace' button?

I guess that the main item that is missing from my list of things that I am doing right in my writing is this: Keep at it, stay on schedule, practice a little every day, dont' be afraid to rip out a line and do it over, take a break and let someone else look at it to find my mistakes.

I think I will go clean the bathroom! Who ever invented that word 're-write' anyway! I want to have a talk with him!