Inspiration

Something’s Gotta Give

I’ve always had a natural inclination to look for (and find) the pattern in things….the webby gossamer strings that connect one thing, one person, one event to another to produce a certain outcome.

So it’s no surprise that I’m here writing on the blog again after 9 months in absentia.  Why? Well, I’ll have to go back a bit.

Over two years ago and after nearly 9 years (oh, gawd), I dumped my Facebook account. For real.  I say that because, like any addict worth their weight in denial, I had taken “breaks” and “vacations” and “time outs” from the platform only to jump right back into the energetic cesspool within a short period of time.  I did this over and over and over again. I uninstalled/re-installed the app on my device of choice more times than I can count, and each time I went back, I felt weaker. More powerless.

Hooked.

But in December of 2016, after a long and increasingly painful journey, I shut ‘er down for good and never went back. Praise Jesus! And I did this in order to draw up positive, real-time life boundaries I hoped would greatly impact my well-being and relationships.

The positive effects could fill an entire blog post.  But it didn’t stop there.

Last year I ditched my Twitter account after a shorter, albeit equally dysfunctional time. Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the cultural changes that the US has undergone in the last 3 years, particularly as they relate to social media and the “mob mentality”, will understand what I mean. I kept engaging in The Crazy, and I didn’t want to. I didn’t like it. It’s not who I AM.

Again, the positive effects were felt almost immediately. But I’m still not through.

This year, as new as it is, brought with it yet another tie I felt compelled to unbind.  I un-installed the Instagram app from my phone and now only check it infrequently from my PC – and only because I have kids in another state and they post there. It supplements the texts and phone calls that feel too few and far between for this Mama.

The overall impact of De-SMing my life over the last 2+ years has been incredible and, I believe, long reaching.  Gone is the neurotic twitch to check my phone every few minutes. (A habit I now find annoying when others to it – sort of like the self-righteousness exhibited in some ex-smokers or new vegans. I’m trying hard not to be that way).

I’ve also said goodbye to the impulse to make every important (or, dare I say, vaguely routine) moment of life documented, photographed, tweeted, or uploaded.  I no longer feel drawn into leaving passive-aggressive comments.  You know the type….those “helpful” little critiques or suggestions, the “friendly” countering of another’s ideas or opinions, the pretend prescience making me think I could possibly know the full intention of a poster’s thoughts from a minimally worded status update that may or may not hold grammatical or spelling errors.

I’m no longer on the receiving end of these things, either.

In the free space I’ve created by wiggling out of the Web, I am very rooted in real time, real life. I’ve also rediscovered a couple of my favorite pass times:  Reading (these days to the tune of 2-4 books a week) and writing.  

The two go hand-in-hand, you know.  At least, for me this is true.  Hindsight has shown that feeling inspired to write is directly proportional to the time I spend reading.  Not just skimming an article here or there, but a fully submerged, time-warping dive into a good story.  The kind of story where you see the characters come to life in your mind’s eye, moving through their sorrows, joys and adventures with them, and are left feeling slightly (ok, greatly) annoyed when the demands of life intrude. Time to get on with your chores, go to an appointment, or take a shower.

And so, I’m writing. After playing around on a cookbook for some time in a “scrapbook” format, for the last two months I’ve been putting recipes and photos together in a systematic way in a program that allows for printing.  I’m super excited about it and figure I’m about two-thirds done with the initial input, with nearly 50 recipes in a half dozen categories.  Who knew that my long held habit of photographing the food I made would one day payoff?  Turns out that I already had nice photos for most of my “important” recipes, the cover art, and all but 2 of the dividers.  My goal is to have it finished and printed in time to give copies to a select few family and friends by years’ end.  Christmas presents, perhaps. And I think my family is enjoying this journey as well, as I’ve been cooking up things I want to add to the book, just so I can take photos of the ones I still need.

Writing this cookbook, which includes snippets of personal and familial history and antidotes, has given me a sense that I will leave my kids and grand kids a “legacy” of sorts, linking one generation to another.   My hope is that, along with actually USING the thing, they will find it to be a source for feelings of connection to their ancestors and finding the warm soul-fuzzies – the GIFT – to be found in feeding people good food.

Of course, it’s equally possible that,  over time, my book will get shoved to the back of a closet or boxed up for storage, eventually finding its way to the trash or donated to the local thrift shop.  My ego demands that I hope not, although in the later case at least there would be the chance someone like me, someone who collects vintage and unusual cookbooks, would snap it up.

Maybe.

But for now, I don’t care what happens TO the book. The main thing is that I’m putting it together.  Finally.

And I’m writing again.

Inspiration

Split Pea and Hambone Soup

 

Even though the Santa Ana’s brought the temperature up to almost 90 in the last couple of days, I wanted to make soup. Specifically, Split Pea soup using the beautiful ham bone I saved from our Christmas feast.  So, at 5 a.m., that’s what I did.

Mmmmmm, it smells so good.  My family will think so too, as they each get up – one by one – to get ready for the day.   They’ll follow their noses into the kitchen for coffee or breakfast, their sleepy eyes closing in pleasure as they get a full noseful of delicious.

True Confession:  I probably wouldn’t have made it on THIS particular day, as hot as it is and as busy the schedule, but when it was cloudy and 62 a few days ago, I also promised Mom that I would bring some this weekend when we visited.  She’s been a soup aficionado since before I was a twinkle in my daddy’s eye.  So this better be good.

Funny, I couldn’t find my original recipe.  I think I threw it out a year ago.  And I think I remember why I did – what I was feeling at the time – when I did.  I was riffling through my recipes looking for it and when I found it, I was immediately bombarded with a memory that was painful.  Tossing it out was a spontaneous decision.   A “purge”, even,  and that is ok with me.  Old school Split Pea Soup like this is easy.

Back in the day, a meal like this was considered Pheasant food because it was a hardy stick-to-the-ribs meal using leftovers and a few veggies.   But these days, a big bowl of this kind of soup can cost you a small fortune in a restaurant.  (and, between you and me?  Not nearly as delich!  ha!)

Oh, that bone, that bone, that ham bone! With a few big succulent chunks of ham on it, chunks that will fall off the bone while cooking,  it gives the soup its smokey meaty flavor.   Thrown into some stock with split peas, diced carrots, onions and potatoes, and seasonings, it will be cooking up all day while we’re out and become Heaven in a Spoonful.

I’ll serve it tonight with big chunks of crusty French bread and a salad.  Hopefully it will be below 75 degrees by then.

Blogroll, Inspiration, Life, Writing

If Trees Could Talk

2011 – The last time I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and the only year out of  5 that I  crossed the finish line.

Yes, I wrote over 50,000 words in 30 days and did so as a single mom working full-time while raising two kids AND blogged regularly! I even wrote guest posts for other blogs, including the Pep-Talk variety for other WriMos! WHEW.

No sooner had I accomplished my goal, though, when something really weird happened:  I lost all motivation to write and stopped almost completely.  No more novel writing, no more blogging.  In fact, I stopped writing anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary, specifically, journaling and whatever was needed to fulfill my professional obligations.

REALLY weird.  And the burn-out or whatever it was lasted for years.

I learned a lot about myself from 5 years of NaNoWriMo-ing, though.  I learned the early morning hours are my most creative, and that it’s HUGELY frustrating to need to stop in the middle of The Flow because Duty Calls.  I experienced how elusive, magical and fickle The Muse can be.  And, perhaps most importantly, I discovered  writing fiction isn’t really my thing.  My natural inclination leans towards storytelling based upon my own experiences.   Real Life Stuff.

But I think that is about to change.

A couple months ago, while on a lunch and shopping date with a girlfriend, I had the most amazing encounter .  WE had the most amazing encounter, I should say.  And Thank The Writing Gods I had a witness to all that happened.  It all started with a unplanned stop at an antique store in the Old Towne district of Tustin.  We weren’t sure if the shop was still opened since the sign in the window said “Open”, the sign on the door said “Closed”,  but a bunch of framed art was still outside on the sidewalk.  So Girlfriend went to see if we could get in, and after she waved an “OK”, I got out of the car and went immediately to the art on the sidewalk.  One piece in particular caught my eye: Framed in old Walnut, it’s a large  3 x 4 oil painting…of trees.

Here’s a close up of it….

 

Those who know me know I am a Tree Person.  Our home is surrounded by them and we love camping in the middle of them.  A Tree Hugger for decades, I’ve hiked miles to embrace the oldest living ones on Earth (in the Ancient Bristle Cone Pine Forest).  I’ve blogged about them (Like HERE and HERE), painted them, planted them and every room in our home has some sort of homage to The Tree.

So this old painting really spoke to me on several levels.  After a day of fruitless shopping, I thought I had finally found something worthy of taking home – until I saw the price tag.

Anyway, we went inside to look around.  It was your typical antique shop in that it was  so PACKED with all manner of collectible, vintage, and antique goodies, we could barely squeeze through the displays.  But we did, making our way eventually to the back of the shop  and THAT is where it all happened.

I’m not going to tell the story here (sorry), but I am going to tell the story and I’m going to use NaNoWriMo2017 as my kick-in-the-literary-ass to write it.  Yes, I’ll still work on the cookbook.  Or not.  But I have to do this.  I mean, I have to.  The first thing my friend and I did when we got into the car to leave that day was to turn to each other, wide eyed with amazement, and simultaneously say, “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”  In fact, it was Deb who first told me, “You HAVE to write that down!”  And her encouragement hasn’t stopped.  So, I’m going to.  I feel like if I don’t, I will regret it for the rest of my life.

And the old painting?  Well, it’s hanging right here over my desk while I’m typing this.  How THAT came to be is part of the story as well, and another reason I know I have to do this.  Why?

Because Trees Talk, don’t ‘cha know?

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

November 1st is fast approaching.  If YOU are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, please let me know!  I would love to be part of your posse and lend you my support!  You’ll find me over there under the pen name JaneBond.

Blogroll, Daily Inspiration, Inspiration, Life, Love, Spirituality, Women, Writing

Serendipity Sunday

Life is full of magical moments and little synchronicities.

Several happened to me last week and many of them related to my cookbook project.  This might have been the coolest.

It’s been a long standing habit of mine to check two pages of any devotional book before buying it.  Well, I bought one this week based solely on serendipity.

This first photo is from a chapter I wrote back in the Spring entitled, “The Well Stocked Kitchen”.

A Well Stocked Pantry

Now this one:  A page from a little devotional book I picked up last week at the Good Will entitled, “A Grand New Day”.   It’s the page from my birthday, March 30th.

I’m still grinning ear to ear.

Happy Serendipity Sunday to you.

Blogging, Cooking, Faith, Family, Handcrafted, Journaling, Life, Writing

Falling

Early Fall days are some of my favorites.

The change in light, the change in colors…..the change in me.

The vapid summer days here in So Cal drain me, both physically and energetically.  Yes, I love the sunshine and – occasionally – the longer days. But we’ve had a helluva hot, humid summer this year and I couldn’t be happier that darker cooler mornings are here with the promise of nights sleeping with open windows vs. A/C dronings.

Suddenly, I feel like cooking again. Hearty, earthy dishes like pot roasts and soups and fruit pies.  The gem-like ambers, oranges and browns of nature have inspired me to decorate for Halloween. I’ve been feng-shuing, decluttering and re-organizing and

I feel like writing again.

It’s been nearly 6 months since my last post and about that same length of time since I’ve written anything for my book (and thank you to those that reached out to make sure all was well in the midst of my silence. It is and I am. Thank you, Jesus, for curing the incurable).

I recognize several things contributed to my stall out.  Life happens and priorities shift. For example, I’ve been working two full days a week since the end of May, and I’m also responsible for making sure our grandson gets to school by 7:50 every morning.  My morning routine – and typically my most creative time – has altered.

But in all honesty, it’s been more about motivation. I mean, even with a printer that didn’t work and a computer that barely did, I could’ve been writing.  I still journal most days.  But the book or the blog?  Well…I just haven’t been feeling it.

Thankfully, lack of inspiration isn’t a permanent condition.  Ask any artist.  Everyone goes through dry spells or blocks.  Muses can be fickle companions.  Then again, I tend to enter new projects with all pistons firing and my foot to the floor – which might be why I seem to excel at short term commitments and struggle a little with those that take a loooonnnnggggg time to complete.   I like to finish stuff.  Check it off my To Do List.

Or maybe, I just like Instant Gratification.  Ha!

But I’ve learned the importance of giving myself the grace to put something down and to feel my way through my creative endeavors.  Sometimes the best thing I can do to reboot is to walk away.  Like, literally, take a walk.  Hike in nature.  Socialize with friends.

Live life!

In years past, unfinished projects use to mock me…. half finished piles creating feelings of guilt and (depending on how much money spent on supplies) shame. But if Cancer  taught me anything, it is this: Life is short so focus on who and what is really important – and let the rest go (temporarily or permanently, depending).

So.  Here I am. Yesterday I cleaned and reorganized the office and the computer is fixed.  A new printer is being delivered on Tuesday along with a new mouse pad to replace the one I LOVE but was looking as grimy as our grandson after a day at school.

And I’m writing…..

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The house and yards look festive.  It’s a nipply 70 degrees, the windows are opened wide and the sun is just peeking over the hill.   I’ll be doing breakfast and a little shopping with girlfriends this morning, and then enjoying the rest of the day doing “whatever” since all my chores are done.  Maybe I’ll plant a few seasonal flowers or make that wreath I’ve been thinking about.  Or, maybe I’ll just enjoy the peace and quiet of an early Fall afternoon with the house to myself.

Fall. My favorite time of year.