writeonthebay

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

starting the year with a damn good poem

In In Other Words, Writing on January 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm

My God

by Sandra Beasley

My god is a short god. My god wears jeans.

When he swims, he has a lazy breaststroke.

When he gardens, he uses his bare hands.

My god watches reruns of late night talk shows.

My god could levitate but prefers the stairs

and if available, the fireman’s pole. My god

loves bacon. My god’s afraid of sharks.

My god thinks the only way to define a country

is with water. My god thinks eventually,

we will come around on ear candling. My god

spits chaw. My god never flosses.

My god reads Proust. My god never

graduated. He smiles when astronauts reach

zero gravity and say My god, My god.

My god is knitting one very big sweater.

My god is teaching his terrier to beg.

My god didn’t mean for icebergs. My god

didn’t mean for machetes. Sometimes

a sparrow lands in the hands of my god

and he cups it, gently. It never wants to leave

and so, it never notices that even if it tried

my god has too good a grip, my god, my god.

 

let’s see if this will work

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, On My Mind, Writing on November 17, 2010 at 9:52 am

I love how my friends can ask me these simple little questions and suddenly I can think more clearly.

“Well, what do you want?” says friend.

“Hunh,” says I.

I write a list, because I’m a list maker. What do I want? What do I want to do? What do I actually want to accomplish in any given week? See, I hadn’t actually given that question much thought in the last year or so. Here’s the list.

-1-2 blog entries

-3 hours writing fiction/poetry

-8-12 hours working (for money!)

-workout 3-4 times

Not a huge list, but I have not been protecting my time to do these things I want to do. It seems doable, even with all the stuff I don’t really want to do but must do (mountains and mountains and mountains of laundry come to mind), and all the stuff I want to do and must do (cooking, loving on the babies). Ok, let’s give this a go.

tending the wild woman

In friends, In Other Words, Writing on November 7, 2010 at 12:07 pm

My friend Heather recently made a remark that reminded me of a book I read in college, Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I had came across the book in my work study job, cataloging the entire library collection of the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women. The title intrigued me. Even the author’s name was interesting.

I was a biology major working in the home of the women’s studies department. I never took a women’s studies class. I had only a cursory knowledge of the history of feminism. But I read this book. Devoured it really. It served as a pivotal text for me, giving me a primal understanding of the wildness I saw in myself. It put into perspective the Wild Women’s place in the world and my life.

The Wild Woman part of me has faded since then. She’s been packed away with marriage and kids and mortgages and jobs (nothing like working in Washington, DC to shush the Wild Woman). But she’s been there, and she’s ready for a little more attention.

I see the Wild Woman in all of my girlfriends. That’s probably why I love them so fiercely. I don’t see her in all women. Some women are so meek I don’t seem to have much patience with them, and that may be why.

Heather is good at reminding me to embrace the wildness. She’d been running with coyotes — literally — in the trails of Park City, Utah, and wondered aloud why women are often compared to wild things like coyotes in a derogatory way. I recommended she read Estes. Her husband Chris got a little worried when he saw the book on her nightstand. But our husbands already know that we are not to be tamed. And whether they admit it or not, they are completely smitten with our wildness and wouldn’t have us any other way.

I started reading the book again myself, and I’ve been thinking about wildness and womanliness and what it is I want to do with this life of mine, including this here little blog. It’s a work in progress of course, but one thing I know I want to do is honor the Wild Woman. I want to protect her from the demands of soccer momness. I want to give her space and freedom to write and create without worrying about critical eyes and clucking tongues.

So you’ll see some changes around here — a new look, a streamlined list of links, some wild words. Stick around if you dare.

make this cake

In Family, Food, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, On My Mind, Uncategorized, Writing on August 9, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I hate when bloggers write about why they haven’t written in a while. “I’ve just been so busy!” Yada yada yada.

Well, here’s why I haven’t been blogging for a while. When I thought about writing, all I could think about was stuff about my dad, and I’m guessing there’s only so much of my feeling sorry for myself any reader can take.

But someone gave me a kick in the pants, so here I am. Pity party and all. We’ll call it a segue to less self-indulgent topics.

I made a cake Saturday. A lot of eggs, a lot of butter, more than a few tears. It would have been Daddy’s 83rd birthday. German chocolate was his favorite.

It was one of the best cakes I’ve ever made.

Seriously.

If you like German chocolate cake, or if you like chocolate, pecans, coconut, and creamy caramel-ly frosting that you would eat by the spoonful (not that I’d ever do such a thing). Make this cake. Pronto.

German Chocolate Cake (adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe)

Yield: Serves 12
For cake
1/2 cup water
6 ounces German’s Sweet Chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For frosting
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 7-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Make cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9″ cake pans and line with parchment paper. Bring water to simmer in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add chopped chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended. Beat in yolks 1 at a time. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter in 2 additions. Pour batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake for 10 minutes in pans then turn out onto wire racks and let cool completely.
Make frosting:
Combine first 5 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture simmers, thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 18 minutes. Mix in coconut and pecans. Place one layer of cake onto a platter with chocolate chips up. Spread warm frosting over top of cake, but not sides.  Let stand until frosting sets, about 2 hours.

Share, but only if you must.

things to look forward to:

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, On My Mind, Uncategorized, Writing on June 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm

-new home

-being done with packing!

-being done with unpacking!

-smiles and new antics from Mr. Chunky Thighs

-date night with hubby (dare to dream)

-a vacation? maybe?

-poolside dinners with fabulous friends

-visiting J and her chickens

-visiting H and her mountains

-reading a book (woeful, woeful state of affairs currently)

-a summer free of soccer practice and dance class

-making cheese

-digging in the dirt

-getting over this ridiculous cold

-catching fireflies with M and D

-running

-yoga

-new blogging adventures…stay tuned!

a to-do list of sorts

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, Writing on June 6, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Here’s what’s on my mind, important and not-so-important items for the week. Does everyone else’s list look something like this or am I a bit ADD?

-what ice-cream to make before packing the ice-cream machine
-order photos
-how many playdates I can schedule for Dax this week
-Strawberry Festival bike parade
-buy kids bikes to ride in the Strawberry Festival
-freecycle bikes that are too small for kids
-when to make crawfish etoufee for some grateful (and some not-so-grateful) friends
-run 3x
-100 pushup challenge
-schedule writing date with T
-writers’ association meeting
-rechedule dentist appointments
-floss teeth
-pick strawberries at Larriland
-order mom’s belated birthday present
-figure out father’s day plan for R, dad
-Alice in Wonderland
-dinner at the pool! dinner at the pool!
-finalize rental lease
-pack, pack, pack
-purge, purge, purge
-CSA box
-cook, I should cook, what should I cook?
-write a couple of decent blog entries, as in, better than this one 😉

Fuzzy head: when the smart girl gets dumb

In In Other Words, Uncategorized, Writing on June 3, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Smart girl’s going wingy dingy.
What’s that you say? I don’t understand.
My mind is swimming, brimming with details and ideas and tasks
To be wrestled to the ground.
All those loose connections have me wishing
For a nice little calculus integral
Or a policy debate.
Those things seem so manageable by comparison.
Fuzzy head’s running all over.
But I won’t try to rein it in.
Not yet.
Let it run a little crazy,
A little hazy.
Fuzzy head might see things that clear head won’t.

How Wise (or Clueless) Were You?

In In Other Words, Writing on March 2, 2010 at 5:46 am

I had a writer friend critique a story recently, and his main criticism was that the 14 year-old girl who is the main character is too wise. So I’ve been trying to figure out just how wise a smart, female high-school freshman who’s experienced a few hard knocks (dad attempted suicide, for example), but is otherwise in a stable loving environment should be.

I’ve tried to capture in memory where my own thinking was at that age, and the images I’ve conjured are fuzzy. Life (especially social life) was hard and cruel in some spots, but I felt wild and invincible at others. And thanks to a dear friend who is an insane pack rat, I recently got a peak at some of my writing from high school, when, I was, evidently, pedantic, precocious, and mostly too serious for my own good.

How wise (or clueless) were you at 14? Did your knowledge of the world and how it works come in fits and spurts or more gradually? What didn’t you know at 14 that you know now? Spill it! My character needs to know…

Facebook Failure

In In Other Words, Writing on February 13, 2010 at 10:29 am

Some of my creative friends are doing 365 projects. They’ve committed to doing something creative everyday — a photograph, a drawing, a piece of writing. Me, I’d sort of half-heartedly committed to writing at least once a week. Of course, I never really made that commitment out loud or wrote it in some publishable form for someone to hold me accountable at any point.

So fine, I’ll do it now, 6 weeks into the New Year and 4 weeks away from baby’s arrival.

I will create everyday.

No, that’s not specific enough, cuz giving birth could count, right? Not to mention milk supply.

Ok. I will write everyday this year. Something. Even a sentence.

Doesn’t seem too hard does it? For anyone who doesn’t partake in creative activities, it might seem a little silly. But to create and put oneself out there on paper or canvas or computer screen means vulnerability. It means risking feeling like your living that grade school dream where you showed up for class naked. It means taking the chance of creating something that even you hate and view as a piece of crap.

My friend Damien is painting everyday for his 365 project — painting and posting his work on his blog no less. The other day he posted a piece he didn’t like, and pointed out that he felt for the sake of honesty, he needed to put it up anyway.

I applauded his efforts and decided I needed to take Anne Lamott’s words to heart myself.

““Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper.” Anne Lamott

Of course lately my failure has been less about terrible first drafts and more about the fact that I haven’t been writing much. Facebook, that modern day time thief and wizard of social networking, is where I can say I’ve largely mislaid precious minutes.

I love Facebook, which is not so surprising when one considers my Myers-Briggs score that tips steeply on the “E” for “externally motivated”. I love chatting it up with friends near and far about topics mundane or magnificent. My computer sits in my kitchen, where I spend most of my time, and it’s oh-so-easy to check Facebook a zillion times a day.

Facebook has been my failure. So I’ll add to that commitment.

I will write everyday this year. And only after that will I update my status.

Book Club and Blueberry Soup

In Food, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, Writing on July 22, 2008 at 6:35 am

Saturday night I met with my book club at my friend Bethany’s house. The way our club runs, we meet every 6-7 weeks, and whoever is the host chooses the book to be discussed and prepares a meal. Saturday was also Bethany’s book club, and her husband Jeff treated Bethany (and us!) to a catered dinner which included a fabulous chilled blueberry soup (see recipe below as promised!).

But besides the great meal, my favorite part of the evening was meeting Bethany’s aunt Carole. Carole is a vivacious woman who has frequently travelled and studied abroad (sometimes in a wheelchair), taken yearly vacations alone except for a shopping bag full of books, taught high schoolers and watched some of them grow into poets and some of them felled by disease, and fished at any and all possible opportunity. Carole has frequently influenced Bethany’s reading selections. She had told Bethany about As It Is In Heaven by Niall Williams, as she’s a big fan — she even participated in a workshop with Williams at his home in Ireland earlier this year.

I was sheepish about the fact that I had read so little of the book. Luckily, no one gets huffy about people not finishing the book in this group. And I have several times finished a book after our scheduled meeting. The fact that Carole was absolutely gushing about her experience in Ireland and how fascinating it was to work with Williams and compare the man to his characters really made me feel a little guilty, though. But Carole was completely gracious about our different reactions to (or lack of reading) the book. Her experience teaching high school English has thickened her skin, no doubt.

Her enthusiasm not only encouraged me to finish the book, but also to get back to writing fiction. I’ve been out of touch with literature for too long, having succumbed to the notion that the only writing worth my time was that for which I could project a paycheck in the next few months.

It’s scary — that fiction thing — just like anything else worth doing, I suppose. But I’m feeling more confident about it than I have in the past. So maybe instead of the J-O-B, what I need to do is get myself in front of a blank page to fill it with the stories I really want to write.

 

Whitney’s Magical Blueberry Soup Recipe

Authors note: Wear something blue or purple because it will get on your clothes and under no circumstances should you use a blender.

 

Take 4 cups of blueberries- usually the larger container at the store

1 cup of orange juice

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 tsp of cinnamon or a stick

(substitute with nutmeg)

 

Bring this to a boil and then let it simmer for about 3 min.

Blend this all together with either a mixer on a low setting or a blender stick

Authors Note: The Whitney prefers the blender stick.

Squeeze 1 tablespoon of real lemon juice

 

Let this stock cool completely overnight.

 

Before serving the soup, add 2 cups of 1/2 &1/2 or heavy whipping cream.

Add 1-2 Cups of plain yogurt to taste.

Authors Note: You can also use skim milk or milk if you prefer and non-fat yogurt to make it healthier.

 

Serve in glasses or a bowl.

 

Enjoy!