Cold Snaps and Pumpkin Pies

I don’t cook much. And what I do cook, I don’t necessarily do well. But I can make a mean pumpkin pie. (It’s my grandmother’s recipe.) So every year in October, at either Halloween or the first cold snap, whichever comes first, I make the first pumpkin pie of the holiday season. I don’t know how many pumpkin pies we eat as a family between the end of October and January 1, but I’m sure the number is ridiculously high. 

The cold set in for a few days last week, so I made the pie on Monday while everyone was gone and left in the fridge for each person to discover on their own. It didn’t take long. We raced through dinner that night and polished off the pie in less than 24 hours. I could easily have made two! 

I have a feeling that with two teenaged boys in the house I’ll be making pumpkin pies even more frequently—both this year and in the next few to come. I just hope I can keep to my “slivers.” Otherwise, I’ll be asking for new clothes for Christmas!




Monday Mayhem

A cold morning. No pressing engagements. A mound of laundry and dishes to be done at leisure. Peace and quiet in the house.  What a lovely prospect. 

For about three minutes.

That’s the amount of time I had to revel in my Monday morning. Then my phone rang. My ringtone—the theme song from The Amazing Race—alerted me that it was one of my children calling. Before I answered I determined I would NOT bring up to school whatever it was that whoever forgot.

“Mom, we got hit,” my son said. They’d gone to pick up some neighbors for school today and while turning into the driveway from a busy street got hit from behind. Bumped, actually, when the car behind them got hit by the car behind them. I threw on a sweatshirt, jeans, and my house shoes and left. He’d said they were all okay, but this being my daughter’s first real accident, I wanted to make sure she covered all the bases—and I didn’t want anyone taking advantage of her or trying to pin the blame on her because she is a teenager.

By the time I got to the site the woman who bumped my daughter, a mom who was concerned that my kids get to school on time, had taken her phone number and sent her on since there was no damage to either car. But then the police arrived because the third car was smashed up pretty good. I waited around, again to protect my daughter’s interests. In the cold. With bedhead and unbrushed teeth. On the main road in our town. For over ½ an hour. Finally, I drove home, changed into real shoes and brushed my teeth then met the officer and my daughter at her school so he could take her statement and assess that she had no damage.

It all turned out fine. She has no blame in the situation and no damage to her car. But there went my peaceful Monday morning. Dare I hope for Tuesday?




Echoing the Ancients

I’ve been doing a Bible Study on women of the Bible and it’s scary how much I hear their voices echoed in my own, especially today. 

I got a rejection letter today. Well, an email, to be exact. I found thoughts like these running through my head: 

How long, O Lord? I’m getting old! (Can you hear Sarah’s lament in there?)

I have no idea where I’m going. Can I just lie down and quit? (Hagar the handmaiden’s actions spoke louder than her words.)

I’ll do another book. Maybe then an editor will love me. (Hello, Leah.)

Give me publication, lest I die! (Poor Rachel! The very thing she said would happen if she didn’t get children happened while bearing the second one she demanded.) 

In all the recounting of these women’s lives, I see their impatience and all the trouble it caused. But I also see God’s redemptive grace. I see women who had a sure word from the Lord about their futures, some even from the mouths of angels, and yet they wavered in their belief that what was spoken of them and to them would ever happen.

I don’t have quite that sure of a word. I don’t have any divine promise that I’ll ever see a book of mine published. But I know I have to write. It’s as much a part of me as blue eyes and brown hair. So for now, I’ll go with that.



Grocery Store Gym Rats

I used to hate women who showed up at the grocery store in their workout clothes. I viewed each one of them as a mockery of my inability to find the time or energy to exercise. It was as if they flaunted their self-discipline in front of me. And I hated them for it. 

But lately I’ve found myself in grocery stores, sweaty and pony-tailed, my running shoes squeaking on the floor as I race through the aisles. I don’t do this to call attention to my activity, but instead as a prudent effort to keep from having to make two trips out of the house! Suddenly I understand these women I previously scorned. After all, what busy wife and/or mother, knowing she has a list of two or twenty or fifty items that must be bought that day, would pass up the grocery store on the way home? And how I look at the grocery store? I’ve long since given up caring about that! 

So now I’m one of “those” women. And if you spy me grabbing cereal and milk after I’ve come from the gym, just remember that my appearance is no reflection whatsoever on yours!


Book Fair

Yesterday, in spite of homecoming dance busyness, I took a few hours to help set up the book fair at school. I love the book fair. I’m a sucker for good children’s literature and, in this case, my purchases benefit our school library. To justify my itch to buy, I usually do some niece/nephew birthday and Christmas shopping at the book fair. Of course each year I also pick up one or two titles for myself, sometimes to put away and wrap for myself for Christmas, sometimes without even that pretense! 

But it isn’t just the buying part I enjoy. I also love working the book fair, helping parents and students find a book they will love, a book that will fuel their love of reading. It reminds me of the days early in my marriage where necessity intersected dreams in my job at a bookstore. Sometimes I miss being surrounded by books and by people who want to read and want to talk about what they’ve read. It’s what has made me occasionally toy with owning a bookstore of some sort. But then again, the work would cut into my reading time!


Care to Share?

I’m looking for advice. I’m treasurer in an organization where the vp and I fundamentally disagree with the president as to how to fulfill the mission of our organization and how that translates into monies spent. It is such a frustration situation, one I’ve never experienced before in all of my work in various organizations. Do I just ignore it? Do I orchestrate a coup? Do I simply dig in my heels and refuse to allow expenditures that the vp and I don’t agree with?

This type of conflict is the very reason I’ve avoided taking these types of volunteer positions. Anyone care to share something that’s worked in a similar situation in the past?


Mind Clutter

I’ve wondered, lately, why it is I war against taking on leadership positions of any sort. Today, I had a new insight: mind clutter. With all the things I’m “in charge” of this fall, it isn’t that I don’t have any time to write, it’s that my mind is cluttered with the details of all those other things and can’t find the space to think about the stories I want to tell or the words I want to write! 

I don’t have this issue so much when I’m in “worker bee” mode. I just do the tasks I’ve agreed to do, such as driving kids to and fro practices and games and field trips or working at the admission gate or concession stand, and while my body works, my mind wanders. I think and plot and consider. Then, when a bit of real time opens up in my schedule, I’m ready to write.

 But these days my mind teems with to-dos and don’t-forgets. It constantly works over schedules and details, trying to ensure that nothing goes unattended. I guess if I only had charge of ONE thing, it wouldn’t be so stifling. But more than one leadership position has crowded out my “mulling” time and, thus, my creativity.

 I know it isn’t forever. In fact, when football season ends, things should get back to a more normal pace, even if it is still a frantic one. That is, of course, if I can steer clear of any other responsibilities being dumped in my lap! 


Historical Done Right

There are a lot of historical novels out there that do historical in different ways. Some want to tell the story of a time period or historical event and create characters that seem to serve only as a venue to convey information. Some take a story or a character that seems almost modern in thought and action and simply place it in a historical backdrop. But the ones who do it best are those that tell a compelling story about a character that is completely imbedded in his time and place in history. In other words, the story and the history are so intertwined that one cannot be separated from the other.

I read two books like this recently. Actually, I picked up the first one, William Henry is a Fine Name, which won a Christy award in 20007, on Sunday morning. (We go to church on Saturday nights.) By the time I turned out the light and went to bed, I had not only finished the book, but I was half-way through its sequel, I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, which came out last month. By Monday afternoon I’d finished that one, too. 

Cathy Gohlke does what a historical author should do. She tells a story. It is a story of another time and place, but, more importantly, it is the story of a character, of his growth and change. It is the kind of story that reminds us that people who lived in earlier times were just people like us, people who had moments of faith and doubt, lived through hardship and joy, and vacillated between worry and confidence. People trying to make sense internally of what was happening in their external world. 

Next time you itch to be transported to another time and place, consider these books. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.


A New Library

I’ve always loved libraries. I can remember the branch library we frequented in my growing up years. It wasn’t glamorous, but it held all sorts of wonderful books. College libraries bring back so many good memories, too. But in the time I’ve lived in this town, I’ve lamented the fact that the library was small and cramped, because I not only like libraries for the books they hold, I also love the atmosphere. I enjoy sitting at a table or in a chair among the stacks and writing or researching.

 So imagine my joy when just last month they opened a new library building in our town! It is big—2 stories—with plenty of areas to sit and work. It even has tables and chairs on an upstairs balcony that runs the length of the building. A rock wall is the centerpiece. There are spaces just for children and for teens, plenty of computers to research on, and windows everywhere. And the cushy chairs even have small swinging table things attached to the arm! 

It will take some time to build up the collection of books to fit the new space, but that will be exciting to watch. I hope to make myself a frequent fixture, my fingers racing across the keyboard, inspired by the books that surround me. What more could a writer want?