Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Getting Organized—the Current In Thing
Anyone here ever heard of Marie Kondo?
I thought so.
Yes, I’ve read her books.
Yes, I’ve been Marie Kondo-ing my house. [Sort of]
No, I didn’t gather all my clothes in one pile on the floor and check each item for sparks of joy.
No, I didn’t discard anything I hadn’t worn in a year.
No, I didn’t embrace her as a goddess.
At first.
When I first read The Life-Changing etc., I thought it was silly.  I was wrong.  [Note to DH: See? I can admit when I’m wrong.]
Critics point out that many of her ideas are not new.  True.  I know this because I have files containing years-old articles on how to declutter and organize.
Enthusiasts think she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.  [And why is that a good metaphor anyway?  I prefer home-made bread and that doesn’t come pre-sliced.  Oh well.]  If she can get people to declutter their lives, this is good.
My take on this little tempest:
Piling clothes on the floor—not a great idea, especially for those who don’t bend well.  But I notice that idea has melted and oozed away.  If you have to pile, do it on the bed, okay?
Working on everything in one category at once [rather than going room by room]—excellent idea.
Working on categories with low emotional attachment first and progressing to the cherished [or uncherished] heirlooms—another excellent idea.
I think some of her ideas are culture-specific.  I don’t embrace some of her folding methods because they don’t work with my wardrobe or my drawers.  But as with any how-to program, I can take what works for me, right?
Whatever the size and shape of your drawers, this is one fad that isn’t bad.  Clearing clutter, organizing what’s left, making your belongings easy to live with—excellent!
What are you waiting for?


P.S.  Getting rid of books gives me a panic attack.  (I haven't shown you pictures of the other rooms--floor to ceiling books!)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How Does a Book Get From the Writer’s Head to the Page?

How Does a Book Get From the Writer’s Head to the Page?

Hard work?  Hours at the computer?  Butt in chair?  Blood, sweat, and tears?

Why would anyone do that?

Every writer you ask will have a different answer.  For me, it’s the feeling I get if I don’t write.  I can only describe it as ‘my brain itches’.  And when I agonize over some twist or turn or wording or event in the story and suddenly everything falls into place, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.

It’s very satisfying to create.  To take daydreams and turn them into words on a page or screen.  To make a story.  A story!  A concrete thing where one did not exist before.  A collection of words and ideas that might bring pleasure to another person.
So how does this happen?

  “Where do you get your ideas” is probably the most-asked question a writer hears.  If I’m feeling particularly snarky, I answer, “Sears,” or “The Idea Store,” or “Tiffany,” or—well, you get the idea.  The truthful answer is, “Everywhere.”  The analogy that springs to my mind is the compost heap.  Everything I see, hear, read, experience, think goes into the great compost heap in the back of my mind where it settles in and stews with all the other things there.  Eventually I extract a shovel full of...ideas.  All the disparate things have somehow formed relationships and have turned into something useful.

But an idea isn't a book.  A book is made of many, many, many...well, you get the idea..ideas.  The writing is only the first step.  This is how a self-published book comes to life: it gets written, revised, made pretty for the reader, published.  Each of those steps is composed of a zillion smaller steps.  Here’s the status of the current book under construction, Western Heroes: Grey.

Grey’s Progress  (yes, there's a way to go)

First Draft
Beta readers
Done!!! (sort of)
Cover & Format

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Great Upside-Down Lemon Pie Caper

A couple of weeks ago I accompanied my daughter to a physical therapy appointment (good mommy).  When we got there, a cluster of therapists ignored us in favor of the raging discussion in progress.  About pie.  One member of the group is a renowned pie maker.  Chocolate cream gave way to coconut cream to berry to pineapple to...
I mentioned that my mother had been very proud of her upside-down lemon pie.
The pie maker honed in on me like a laser.  NEW PIE!  WOW!  GOTTA GET THE RECIPE!  Well, of course I’d share it (good mommy).  You’d think I’d offered the Hope diamond.  At least the offer ended the discussion so my daughter got her therapy session.
Later that night, I sent the recipe and got back a thank-you email.
End of story?
Last week we returned for another appointment.  And Ms. Pie-maker was there...with a scrumptious upside-down lemon pie (good Ms. Pie-maker).
Yummy!  My only regret is that I didn’t photograph the gloriousness so I could post the picture here.  Sorry.  You’ll just have to make your own.  So here’s the recipe.

Mama’s Inverted Lemon Pie
4 eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
¼ t cream of tartar
1 ½ c sugar, divided
¼ c lemon juice
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 c whipping cream, whipped with sugar & vanilla
1)  Make meringue shell:
Beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until stiff. 
Add 1 c sugar very gradually.  Continue to beat until stiff and glossy. 
            (Very Gradually is the key to meringue that doesn’t weep.)
Spread on greased pie pan, carrying to edge of rim.  (I use a 9” pan.)
Bake 25 minutes at 275°.  Increase to 300° for 25 minutes, or until faint brown tinge has appeared.  Cool
2) Make the filling:
Beat egg yolks until thick.  Add remaining sugar, lemon juice, and grated rind.
Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until thick.
Remove from heat and cool. 
Fold half of the whipped cream into the cooled filling and turn into the crust. 
3)  Top with remaining whipped cream.  Garnish with curls of lemon peel, grated zest, or chocolate curls, if desired.  Serve to effusive compliments.  (Note:  This is a very rich pie.  It will serve more than 6.  I usually cut it in eighths.)

Till next month,

P.S.  Next time I’m going to tempt her with my recipe for Black Bottom Pie (chocolate custard plus rum custard plus that wonderful invention, whipped cream).  No dummies here.