That word popped in front of me twice in the last 20 minutes. First, in a note from a friend about mining our artistic talent and another in a comment on another blog I read.
I didn’t surrender very easily when younger. I still think of it as a word of weakness. But when looking over the prompts for MamaKat’s Writer’s Workshop:
5.) Show us what winter looks like in your neck of the woods!
I got to thinking.
This year we went to the beach on Christmas day and stayed for a few days.
Now we didn’t drive south for 10 hours.
We didn’t fly toward the equator for two hours.
We just drove for three and a half.
To Tybee Island right off the coast at Savannah.
As you can tell, it wasn’t a balmy 80 degrees.
Here I am with my oldest, the ardent fisherman.
He was on the pier a little bit every day.
It was cold. And to tell you what a baby I am — looking into the churning water crashing into the pier and the cold wind biting in my weathering hands — all I could think of was those Deadliest Catch fishing boats. And how bloody cold it must be.
It was probably only 50 degrees on Tybee that day. But it felt like I was in stationary boat in the Bering Sea without fear of being washed overboard into the icy depths. Thank God.
Yes. It was winter at the beach.
And I loved it.
I loved the gray skies.
I loved the wind.
I loved desolation mixed with the enormity of God’s creation raucously reveling in cold water and gray sand and gray boardwalks.
I had surrendered to the beauty of the beach at winter.
Not feverishly searching for sun. Not neurotically scanning the forecast for 70 degree days. Not fantasizing about what it would be in this exact spot five months from now.
Okay. There may have been moments of daydreaming but I didn’t dwell on images of brown bodies smelling of coconut oil wrapped in colorful bathing suits.
What can I say? I’m a writer. We live to imagine stuff.
For the most part, I walked and walked. Smelled the mix of salt and musk. I ventured out each night at dusk and absorbed the twinkling lights on brightly painted cottages.
I surrendered to winter at the beach.
And it was good.
Ever been to the beach at winter? I mean real winter, not Miami winter.
6. He’s a counter. He compulsively counts things. Window panes, stairway spindles, spiderwebs on a church ceiling. He can tell you how many in all.
5. He dated the Dakotas. He went out with Miss Teen South Dakota and Miss North Dakota USA. And an assortment of Dairy and Beef Princesses.
4. He’s really, really funny. Much funnier than me. In fact that’s the only reason I went out with him when he asked me over and over and over again. I was so miserable in law school and he made me laugh and forget the HELL we were in.
3. He was really fast. Like in speedy. (at one time.)
2. We inherited a gas grill recently. He had never grilled a hamburger in our 24.6 years of marriage before this week. I did all the grilling on our little charcoal Weber.
1. He’s a very. very picky eater. I NEVER tell him what I put into anything. When we first got married he would not eat anything that he couldn’t readily identify every ingredient.
I’ve served him three casseroles in 24.60 years of marriage. And that was in the first was in three months after our wedding. I just gave up after that.
6. I’m an incredibly unstructured person from a family of analytical braniacs. I like order. I’m just utterly incapable of creating such.
5. I’m a horrible singer. Children sob at their parties if I join in with “Happy Birthday.”
4. I go orbital if I smell suntan lotion. And if I smell it while putting it on in the sun at the beach — well — let’s just say it’s my catnip.
3. I fry an awesome chicken.
2. I hate to ride in a car with the windows up. I get all stale air claustrophobic. The only thing that changes this is if I am driving somewhere I have to look presentable in the middle of summer. Which is not often. Like NEVER.
1. I’m the most extroverted hermit you’ll ever meet.
What about you? What are some random facts about your partner.
There have moments — epiphanies — when I think “a ha” I need to do that this lifetime.
* Our family hiking the Grand Canyon together.
* Whale watching in Hawaii.
* The fam riding bikes in the Tuscan hills.
But those goals usually stay up in the heavens and never happen. Ever.
Linking up this week with Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop and the prompt 4.) Create a “May Bucket List”…what will you accomplish this month?
This May I hope to . . .
* Get my creaky triathlon butt moving again after a four year hiatus. Signed up for IronMay and will complete the 140 miles by May 31. Also will find money to sign up for the Tri to beat Cancer in August. That way there will be no turning back.
How I feel setting out on the bike.
* Go to my first blog conference. Bloggy Boot Camp in Charlotte this weekend. I’m looking forward to learning lots, meeting great folks and having a little time away from my dear ones. (There better not be any WSJ reporters lurking….)
* Write every day on my book. I already missed a day but have written 14 days. Let’s see if we can make it 30 days.
* Get some sun on my legs. PLEASE.
* Finish planting my garden. It’s pretty much done but I’m expecting some eggplant transplants I’ve ordered and going to replace some okra that looks pretty puny after this crazy heat we’ve had all of a sudden.
* Contact regional publications. I need to make the leap and have an article in a regional pub even if it means driving and knocking on some doors.
I’ll stop there.
Need to save some time to keep the kids alive and the husband happy. If you know what I mean.
No way. Nothing could be more terrifying than letting someone who knows something about writing read a piece of my work.
All those C words. Critique. Criticize. Critical.
C.C.U. as in the Critical Care Unit. That’s where my tender as a chicken liver writer’s psyche lived.
“You will want someone to read and give feed back.”
A published author, my friend earns a nice living reading and critiquing fellow writers.
As much as I trusted her as a friend and professional . . . let someone read my teensy, mew-of-a-kitten attempt at a novel? For real?
Only when I was sure. Only when certain I held the next Bridget Jones or Devil Wore Rogiani to CURVES.
Then I signed up for a writing class.
The first night I showed up, we sat in a big U staring at each other. The veteran teacher gave a talk about how everyone’s work is welcome with two exceptions: no violence toward animals and no graphic sex.
So much for my first draft.
No sillies. I kept pecking away and going to class each week listening to other folks read for their 15 minutes of shame.
It’s been a while ago so honestly I can’t remember what finally made me pull out my shaky hand clutching Chapter One or warm-up my even more tremulous voice . . .
But I did.
I put the whole bloody mess out there for everyone to hear. That is after editing out a worm’s gory demise by fishhook and gratuitous iron skillet orgy in a 1970s KitchenAid warehouse.
Once my breathing settled and words began to flow in semi-complete sentences, I heard it.
Okay. It was twelve wanna be writers sitting around after a day of sending out e-mails and sales calls, wiping down tables and picking up quarters in tips and cleaning up messy kitchens and folding towers of wrinkled t-shirts — but they laughed.
In the places they were supposed to laugh.
My friend was right. Writers need to be read and honestly critiqued.
By someone who might not laugh at the right spots. By someone who might be a bit brutal in love.
But for the first time. To heck with honesty.
Linking up with the wonderful Writer’s Workshop at Mama Kat’s place.
The prompt: 2.) Talk about a time you faced a fear.
What about you? When did you decide to pull out your shaky piece of paper and read aloud?
That’s the time I heard harps playing this morning.
Reaching over, I grabbed my phone and snoozed the harps.
Rain splattered against the window pane. That meant I needed to get my rear to the gym for no chance to exercise outside today.
A usual group of suspects attends a 5:15 a.m. spin class. I try to include myself in that number twice a week.
This morning our instructor was hill happy. Lots of excruciatingly long hills and lots of bumpy roads. We all exchanged glances in the dark.
Have I ever blogged how much I love spinning?
Yes, I was slugging through the workout when out of the blue a funky guitar riff came on. A song I hadn’t thought of since seventh grade.
And once that familiar long ago music started, it infused my body with a 12 year old’s energy.
I didn’t even like the song much back then.
It was okay but not like today.
This morning 37 years later, it was the greatest song ever.
My tone deaf self was singing along and my feet where straining at the cages wanting to jump down and dance.
My body was on a stationary bike staring at her 49-year-old self in the mirror, but my mind was in the cafeteria at Glenridge Junior High on a short schedule Wednesday waiting in line for a rectangle slab of pizza and a chocolate cookie the size of a small dinner plate.
Remembering how surprised I was to find out the guy that sang this was actually white.
If I had listened to the lyrics that would have been quite apparent.
It was a great two minutes spinning back in time.
Then Adele came on and we were rolling in the deep and up another hill.
Ugh. This white girl had ridden far away from seventh grade and was pooped.
Any song send you back to seventh grade waiting in line for frozen pizza?
Linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer Workshop with her prompt 1.) A seventh grade memory.
But it is a very serious question. One that made me realize from a very early age, I was not like the other children.
Every Easter morning, little Jamie would open her eyes. <<Blink.>> Then stare at the swirling blue plaster ceiling in her bedroom.
Sunday. That meant Sunday School and sitting alone because I was the only kid from my school who went to our church.
But then I would remember, it’s Easter.
The Bunny came overnight and there was a basket lined with green plastic grass and chocolate candy waiting for me in the Florida room.
And it never failed. After I had secured the eggs bursting with M & Ms, I’d go outside and peer down into the dirt.
Our backyard was full of old oaks and little sun trickled through. But that didn’t deter my dad from trying his mediocre landscaper heart out to grow St. Augustine in betwixt the spotted sunshine and shade.
This resulted in a sprig of grass here, a sprig of grass there — and lots of gray Florida sand.
Perfect for spying large bunny prints.
Except I never found any. Each year I looked and looked hunting as if for a teensy shark tooth on the sands of the Atlantic. There had to be proof of that ginormous brown rabbit hopping through our yard.
Which is exactly what I drew one day in Sunday School. Jesus, surrounded by a yellow sunburst and a brown bunny on his transformed person. Kind of like a long ago Judean laprodent.
That’s when it became clear to me using my heightened powers of observation that no other child drew a brown bunny. They all were white and fluffy and wearing bow ties.
A 6 foot white rabbit walking around on two-legs?
Good grief. Who the heck would believe that?
I mentioned just this on the ride home. Imagine my shock to discover all the other inhabitant of the car — the people who up to that point I had trusted more than anyone else in the world — thought the Easter bunny white.
Talk about rocking my 7-year-old world.
What about you? Brown, white, pink or blue?
Linking up with Mama Kat for her prompt 1.) An Easter Memory.
Earlier this week, I harvested the last of my collard greens to fix for dinner. For some unknown reason, I thought this would be a perfect vlog. Enlightening the non-Southern blogging community on how to cook the nutritious collard plant.
This is probably the worst video on the nutrition value of collards ever.
This is probably the worst video on the history of collards in Southern cooking ever.
All that ended up on the cutting room floor.
But I really do love the uber-nutrious collard:
* A bunch of collards.
* One onion.
* Two cloves garlic.
* Three slices of bacon.
* Three cups chicken broth.
Brown the bacon in a pot. Cook the onions in the drippings and add the garlic. Then add the chopped up greens. Once they wilt a good bit add your broth, cover and cook for 40 minutes. Or until tender.
The collard is full of fiber, Vitamins A, C and K. Also high in foliate.
Though strongly associated with Southern African American history, I don’t know any child raised in the south — black, white, rich or poor who didn’t have collards growing up. Or at least be made to try some New Year’s Day to bring money in the coming year.
So here it goes. Probably the lamest cooking video evah.
And here’s how it should look. Though I think this Ken chef-person wouldn’t approve of my collard cutting, he does use bacon. Me likey.
My husband asked while standing at baggage claim. We both looked down at a clump of bags.
I looked on my arm. Purse, check. My honking heavy computer bag, check. Carry on bag, check.
My husband’s computer. M.I.A.
Just after my husband disappeared into that sea of slot machines in search of his computer.
Yes, it was definitely gone. Left on the plane.
It’s amazing how little I panicked.
Why? Because it was his computer, Silly.
If it had been mine, my blood pressure would have jumped 3000 points. My breathing to gasping running-26 miles-levels.
Underarm sweat would have poured forth breaking through the best SECRET antiperspirant had to offer.
Most women carry purses. I’m constantly taking mental note that it’s there resting on my shoulder. That I haven’t left it at the checkout counter. Or resting on the circulation desk at the library. Same thing goes for my computer.
My hand slides down the thick black strap and gives the bag a little caress every now and then. It’s still there. Not left in the dentist office waiting room, or lying propped against a chair at Starbuck’s in the airport lounge.
Or ON THE PLANE.
Well, this story ends fine.
The good people of Air Tran had already spotted the laptop bag and had it securely waiting for him when he got to the gate.
And thankfully, we realized it was gone before we got in the cab or to the hotel.
Rest of the afternoon, we had a great time looking around the sights until our room was ready. Having some refreshment.
Keeping up with purses and computers all along the way.
I enjoyed browsing in the shops while my husband had to go to a meeting. Then we met up to finally get into to our room.
Looking at his nice broad shoulders — I noticed one teensy thing missing.
“Where’s your computer?”
* * *
And yes. He had left his computer in the conference room and it was indeed found. Again.
I am currently tortoising through . . . The Hobbit.
This is because of my “no see a movie before reading the book” rule.
And after becoming acquainted with Tolkien’s Middle Earth again, I have decided I am rather like a hobbit in a Big Person’s body.
I like my little house. Now it’s not in a little hobbit hole but it has my little hobbitish things that reveal my hobbitish tendencies.
My little coffee maker, my little laptop, my little chair on my porch.
I love to eat bread and jam and sleep and if smoking a pipe wasn’t bad for you, I’d like that too.
But mostly, I like my little hobbit life. Just as they like order and the idea of adventure. But heaven forbid a wizard show up at our door and tell us that is what we have been chosen to do.
Dwarves and wolfs and magical rings. Sure it all sounds crazy fun, till one finds one’s little hobbit self deep in the bowels of a mountain chased by a bunch of goblins. Which are terribly nasty creatures btw.
Who knew? I just thought them little green hermit-like things. Not regular cannibalistic mean-as-a-snake eating beasts.
Yes. Glad that goblins only exist in books (or as far as we know) but I think it might be fun to run into a hobbit.
I’d invite him in for second breakfast and listen to all his tales of dragons and giant eagles.
Just fun conversation.
No adventures for me.
If I ever look out and see a bunch of dwarves standing at my door,