Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. - II Timothy 2:15

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Has-Beens and Could-Bes

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed something odd. You know how there are times in life when you will do virtually anything - anything - NOT to write?

It's the most awful sensation in the world, as some of you can probably relate. When you could be sitting down and getting out a couple thousand words, you're actually lounging on the upstairs couch, perusing Pinterest and reading blogs about who-knows-who from who-knows-where because the thought of putting anything under that optimistic "Chapter 5 {or 2, or 12 or 30}" seems too presumptuous to attempt.

I come to the point here: Has anyone other than my sad, strange little self ever been afraid to write?

It seems ridiculous in a sane and sensible way that a small thing like putting words into a document could somehow affect the equilibra of my emotions, rock my world cockeyed on its axis, and send me into a downward spiral of conflicting moods and raging self-doubt.

I exaggerate like the dickens, but it's partly true. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has ever wondered if the words they're putting down today won't be erased with scorn tomorrow and replaced with new words that will be erased with greater scorn the next.

Frankly, I'm scared to death that what I write today won't be the words that should be written {aka the words I was supposed to write but fell through the cracks in my brain and are forever lost}. Basically, I'm afraid that I'm screwing up the potential of what could be - if that makes any sense at all.

Let's face it: the unwritten word is a daunting thing. While it's still in your head it's an idea, a non-solid fragment with endless possibilities and myriad facets. You can toy with it, twist it, put it in the front or relegate it to the back, use it, toss it, like it or lump it.
Once it's on paper, it mysteriously gains a sense of permanency. You're going with it. This is how your story is taking shape. This is the bend in the road. The buck stops here.

Of course, that's not forever true. You can always erase and start over, but there has got to be a point in time when you stop starting over. When you close it up and say "that's the best I can do". But how do you know? I wonder how an author feels when their book is published - done - and they can't change another thing. Do they pick it up and wonder what they could have made better? Do they read it and say "oh drat, I should have said that" or "I could have said this and it would have sounded better" or do they just hold and it sigh with relief because it is done and they can't change it anymore?

Someday, I want to know what it feels like to hold my own book in my hand and see the cover that houses my words. I want to open it up and see those words on the page. The words that I pored over, agonized over, tripped over, laughed over and cried over. The words that came to me in a flood and seemed to write themselves and the words that I squeezed out of my brain one by one until they marched in a sentence across the page.

I suppose every author has the floods and the squeezes. And I expect that one doesn't come without the other. Not every word that comes out will be perfect. And not every word that isn't perfect is going to be changed. Not every twist will be discovered and not every path will be explored. Every book ever published has this sort of untapped potential. Some fork in the road where a choice was made. A twist used and a twist discarded. And that's what a writer does. A writer chooses the road and paves it how they wish. We're the ones who wade through the muck and mire of has-beens and could-bes and pick out the path that doesn't dump you right back into the swamp. A reader doesn't like ending up back in the swamp and will generally tell you such in no uncertain terms. Thus, it's a writer's job to give the reader a story - not the thousand rabbit trails they could have written.

What they don't know, as the abysmally mistaken {and occasionally appropriate} saying goes, won't hurt them.

And the road you decide not to take, as the saying does not continue, they won't miss - unless it's something necessary, like introducing the main character.

Till next time!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dairy Daydreams

Lo, I have experienced a most persistent craving for frozen yogurt these many days past. Since there is no YogurtLab in near proximity to my house {oh, woe is me!} and a trip to Orange Leaf is not in my time frame for the day {or week - more woe!}, my craving was such that I was forced to decide to make it.

I used this recipe and completely forgot to take pictures of the process. However, that is not an stymieing roadblock.

I proceed.

The recipe, being short, was also extraordinarily vague. Note the complete lack of any and all helpful advice on what sort of Greek yogurt to use. I perused several reviews {briefly} in hopes of stumbling upon enlightenment {no avail}. I eventually settled on Chobani, because I know from experience that their Greek yogurt is very thick and creamy - which is the exact consistency I was craving.       

In the end, after a toss-up between plain or vanilla, I settled on plain, because three-quarters of a cup of sugar is sure to pack a wallop.

Fortunately, we own an ice-cream freezer, so I was clear to start.

I followed the recipe to the letter and realized that three-quarters of a cup of sugar in three cups of yogurt is way too sweet. I dumped in the rest of the yogurt, which had the consistency and flavor of sour cream {I kid you not, I almost could have used it}.

Then I let it sit in the fridge while I helped my brother make tacos for dinner {he turned off my timer; we're working on forgiveness}.

Dumped it into the freezer and realized that the owner's manual was nowhere to be found and I had little to no experience with the ice-cream freezer. No matter. It seemed pretty self-explanatory.

I seem to have a gift for simple machinery. It churned dutifully for about half an hour and viola! homemade frozen yogurt that is creamy, thick and delicious!

I topped it with Hershey's syrup and some of my sister's leftover raspberry coulis {pronounced koo-lee for those who see it in print before they hear it in person {aiding you in the avoidance of awkward mispronunciations}} and promptly consumed all three scoops shown below.

After all, it is a healthy alternative.

I think I'll try chocolate next.

Until we meet again {may you be blessed with frozen yogurt},

Sunday, February 17, 2013

When the Cat's Away...

It seems to me that kids and dads {and mice} get a bad rap about their living habits when the wife and mother goes somewhere for a period of time two days or longer.

For some reason, it's almost expected that these hapless ne'er-do-wells will toss off all trappings of healthy living and shamelessly revel in reckless abandon surrounded by fast-food wrappers and greasy boxes as the individually wrapped sporks and logo embossed napkins pile up haphazardly wherever they fall. {Because, really, is there anyone who knows how to use a spork in a safe, sane and non-embarrassing manner?}

Quite obviously, this onerous belief is a take-it-or-leave-it-truth. 

The mother of my siblings and myself left yesterday evening on a four-day trip to California with her sister and parents. She deserves a vacation and we're all glad she was able to go. Back on the home-front  however, a decision must be made. There are clearly two ways this family can cope with the situation, as outlined in classic literature. {I shall use one writer's example from two different books to delineate my point.}

A. We can eat all the white sugar in the pantry {Farmer Boy - Laura Ingalls Wilder}

B. We can spring clean the house from floor to ceiling {sans spilling stove-black on the floor because, obviously, our stove is stainless steel and doesn't take well to blacking} {Little Town on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder} 

Translated into our modern lifestyle, the scenarios look something like this: 

A. We embrace the fact that there are vegetables in the refrigerator {not to mention ample ingredients to put together a wholesome and balanced meal} while recognizing that there is no one in the house to insist upon our actually eating them. 
If this course is taken, the shorter the mother's vacation the better.  

B. Thanks to mom's tutelage {and the fact that we're homeschooled} we are all capable of a. cooking a balanced meal, b. ensuring that everyone eats all aspects of the balanced meal and c. using force if need be to ensure that the less appreciated portions of the menu end up in the digestive tracts of the younger siblings as opposed to the floor, garbage disposal or trash.   
If this course is taken, the glow of health and fulfilled responsibility is a pleasant sensation. 

Since mom hasn't gone on a vacation alone in time out of my memory, we naturally went with course A. She had not yet boarded the plane before we'd made a run for dinner. 

The menu until Wednesday reads gleefully like this:

Yesterday night we had Popeye's Fried Chicken. I have no idea if you are familiar with this fast-food chain or not, but they claim to serve Louisiana-style fried chicken. I've never been to Louisiana so I am not an authority. I am also not a fan of fried chicken, but their biscuits are divine golden rounds of hydrogenated fats.
Today we're having gyros from the restaurant up the street and tomorrow we're having a slight breakdown and making tacos. Equilibrium is restored with pizza on Tuesday before we go back to normal with the Lent dinner at church on Wednesday.

I hate to limit the fun, but I'm currently working on a portion-control study which is more or less an exercise in trial-and-error. Thus far, I have not noticed many significant changes. That, and I'm slightly suspicious that our bathroom scale is malfunctioning.

 Till next time,

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Journal of Procrastination {Day 5}

A fill-in-the-blanks for those days when inspiration eludes me and procrastination envelopes me

Date: Thursday, February 14, 2013

Time: 12:53 p.m.

Appropriate quote to start things rolling: Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans - Allen Saunders

I got up at: 5:45 a.m.

I am listening to: Adventures in Odyssey: The Seven Deadly Dwarves {If you have no idea what I'm talking about, try this

I most recently ate: Perogies and celery {a delicious balance of fats and strings}

I am reading: Sophie's War by Avi and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I am memorizing: 1 John 2

Current favorite song: The Risen Christ in Me - Ginger Millermon 

In my hair: slightly messy bun (may be rather messy, but I haven't checked for a while) 

I am wearing: jeans, slippers, t-shirt, fleece

Christian self-help book I am currently reading: Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild by Mary Kassian

I am craving: anything sweet. Valentine cookies and Snickers, mainly. 

I should be: folding the socks and clothes and practicing my flute {not particularly in that order or simultaneously - for which I am thankful, I might add} 

Book I am contemplating reading next: Granted I eventually finish the two I'm currently reading: Jessie Phillips by Frances Trollope

Random fact about myself: I have five fingers on my right hand 

The weather is: for Wisconsin, pretty warm for February (we got rain instead of snow today!) and grey with slush, ice and melting snow

Any library books at the moment: Not that I'm aware of - which could be a bad thing

Last movie I watched: Ironman 2 {not impressed}

Surprise bonus quote: "Are you nuts?" "Jury's still out." - The Avengers

Scratchy pen or smooth pen: Smooth pen but the color is a factor

Last thing I threw away: I think it was the corner of the perogie bag I cut off to get at the perogies

Last book I bought/received: As Wilbur Robinson would say: that is an excellent question! I think it was The MacArthur Bible Commentary. It's got some heft to it, to be sure. In more ways than one, too.  

Most recent crazy impulse: writing two valentines

Under the clip: myriad post-its scrawled by yours truly! 

I learned today: that Bernard and Whit are two different people?! {This pertains to the "I'm listening to" question as well} It rocked my world slightly sideways. Also that this post has taken me almost 45 minutes to write. 

Picture-thought: I think this pretty much sums things up! 

Until later!