Thursday, April 23, 2009


Well, in case you were wondering, it's April 23rd and my story was mailed yesterday. Hooray! It had to be postmarked by today and it's just going to Portland. Now, Portland is only 100 miles away, as the crow flies. (I love that saying, "as the crow flies") From Astoria, that envelope left yesterday in a big, white truck at 6:00 pm (so they say). It takes two hours to get to Portland, but who knows what post office it will end up at. It may take a day or two for that envelope to get handed off from person to machine and back again, getting stamped and perhaps folded up a bit along the way. Into another truck with a friendly postperson who probably will be wearing one of those ranger-like brimmed hats and baggy shorts. They'll pack up their bags and head into Portland, after stopping for coffee (of course). That envelope will be delivered to the suite number it's addressed to and will lay on someone's desk for an unknown amount of time. Finally, someone will notice it and say, "Hey, here's another unknown writer hoping we'll love their story and award them first prize." Or maybe second, or even third. (The third place prize will almost cover the entry fee - it's a small contest.) The envelope will be opened, the check given to accounts receivable, the package divided up between the three judges that will be deciding who the winner is. I had to send three copies so I'm assuming there are three judges. Of course, this is all speculation. Who knows what journey my story has taken. The good news is that I retain ownership of my writing (it's in the rules!) Which means that I can use it again anywhere I want.

The main thing is that I DID IT! After posting about the contest, I knew I had to achieve my goal. Or else risk being scolded by my husband (or perhaps an encouraging blog friend.) In my opinion, it doesn't matter if I win or not; to me, I have already won my own contest. And it feels good.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Procrastinate: To Dilly-Dally, Delay

Has it already been a week since I posted? I'm sitting here posting instead of doing what I should be doing: dishes, laundry, washing my hair, finishing that piece I said I was going to enter into a writing contest. I finally (gulp!) read the thing to my husband today. Gosh, that was hard! Hard!! I feel so extremely vulnerable whenever I read something I've written to someone (that sentence is awkward but you get my drift). It's like opening up your chest and exposing your heart, allowing someone the opportunity to injure it. Especially if it's an emotional thing, which this piece of writing definitely is. But Todd was sweet and said he thought it was good, and worth the entry fee to submit. Bless him! The deadline is April 23rd, so I'd best get it done.

We actually hit 62 degrees outside today - what a thrill to be warm, even too warm. I just learned today that the word "thrill" actually comes from being pierced with a spear, or something like that, back in medieval days. I love word origins.

See, I'm just playing here. Procrastinating. So, how's the weather in your part of the world? Anybody know a good recipe using mushrooms? Read any good pirate stories? ARE there any good pirate stories?

Enough. I'm off to write a little, launder a little and dish wash a lot.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Weekend

Weeks ago, my mother-in-law called to invite us to Easter dinner. Actually, the night before Easter (Easter eve?). My husband had to work so it would be a (mercifully) quick affair for us and that would be that. I decided to do the basket/egg hunt thing on Sat. morning as well. Have our Easter early. Then Carmen decided she wanted to hide baskets for Todd and me (what a sweetie!), which she did with her brother's help. And I did my typical stay-up-way-too-late filling plastic eggs and Todd hid them, and the baskets. We scaled way back this year. Less candy, one non-candy item per basket. Saturday a.m. was fun and then Todd went back to bed. We rested most of the day and I read from the Bible. I've been reading all week from Mark, about the last week of Jesus' life on earth. Then I got the kids ready to go to grandma's, woke Todd up and got ready myself. We were actually the first to arrive - a monumental first. My mil was shocked to see us there so early! Then her friends arrived, an older couple. She had warned us about them beforehand - her exact words were, "She's obese and he's a typical educator." By this, I decided that we shouldn't be shocked at this person's weight and we shouldn't discuss homeschooling. O.k. So, when we see this couple walk up the driveway, the wife is, indeed, just as my mil described ... she's also wearing pink bunny ears. And she wore them throughout dinner and probably throughout the evening. Hmm. Her husband came in carrying a flowering plant. My mil introduced me to this couple and then she did a funny thing. She introduced each of my kids and then said, in a really condescending tone, "Can you each come here and shake hands with ____?" My kids dutifully obeyed but I know they were a bit embarrassed at being spoken to that way. They aren't little kids, after all. But what good kids they were (are!) I know they thought this lady with the bunny ears was really strange but they never said a word about it during the time were were there. This couple was nice but the wife was a bit annoying, with or without the pink ears. Like I said, we had to leave after about an hour and we went home so Todd could go to work. After he left, my middle son said, "Mom, I really wasn't comfortable with those people that were there." I said I understood and made a point of telling all my kids how proud I was at their good behavior. We discussed how we should act even if we are uncomfortable. I love my kids.

Today, I said to my older son that I was sorry Grandma spoke to them like she did about shaking hands with her friends. Chad said it was o.k. I said I wondered why she had them do that, as I didn't really think it was necessary. I have taught my kids to shake hands but I don't think you always need to. Do you know what he said? He said he thought it had more to do with making her friends feel accepted. What wisdom! I had to agree. Chad also said that the husband asked him the typical question, "So what grade are you in?" (Like, is that the ONLY question adults can ask??) My son told him and said he was homeschooled. This man was pleased to hear that, which I was glad to know. If only he had known that he could have discussed politics or world history with my son, instead of boring "school" questions!

Anyway, today was Easter and it was truly a rotten weather day. Wind, rain, wind, etc. My poor daffodils had finally bloomed but they are now face-down in the mud. So glad we didn't have to go out. I read about Jesus' resurrection and beyond. The kids have really enjoyed our daily Bible reading. I try to do Bible study several times a week but I'm not that consistent and I use the Daily Bread devotionals, which read something different every day. This was the first time we read daily throughout the same book. I'd like to continue doing this.

I'll end with this: My daughter has spent the last two days drawing robots that can do housework, cook, kill spiders, etc. I was in another room when I heard Carmen ask her brother if something like this was really possible. Before he could answer negatively, I said that it didn't matter if it's possible. Carmen said, "I know, Mom - DREAM BIG!" I said, "What?" She repeated, "Dream Big!" I smiled and said, "That's right, honey." We talked about how if people didn't dream up things that had never been, then things wouldn't improve or be invented. I was struck at Carmen's response, though. It tells me she's been listening. Modesty forbids me to say who has always told her to Dream Big. I love my kids!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better ...

We had a bit of a bake-off in our kitchen this week. Last Tuesday, I decided to bake an apple pie. It's been a long, long time since I baked an apple pie so I was a bit out of practice but I just did it. I put Chad to work peeling apples and Carmen stirred the flour/sugar/cinnamon mixture. Alec even tried the peeling apparatus (it's one of those crank-type things). By the time it went into the oven, the kitchen was a disaster and I was a floured mess. I couldn't get to the rolling pin (a long story) so I rolled out the pie crust with a large glass. This was nothing new as I went a long time without a rolling pin in my life and learned long ago how to roll out crust with just about anything. Anyway, it looked beautiful. It was so full of apples I could barely get the top crust over it. A few slits in the crust, a little water and sugar on top and into the oven it went. Just in time, as I had to get dinner going to feed Todd before he left for work. The pie boiled over onto the floor of the oven but it's self-cleaning - I just had to remember to start the cleaning cycle. More on that later. The pie came out and was wonderful. Everyone was pleased, especially me.

Todd bakes bread for our family every week. He has to time that baking with his work schedule. So, a few days ago (after the pie had been consumed), he decided to bake bread in the evening as he had to work the following night. He got everything ready and when he had the dough rising, he decided to bake a cake. Not any ol' cake, but a German chocolate cake. I stood in amazement. I am very leery of baking bread, which is why he does it, but to bake a cake WHILE one is baking bread - I just couldn't do it. I guess I can only focus on one baking task at a time. Todd, on the other hand, sees it as a time-saver (he's SO dang logical!) So, when he's all done, he has 5 loaves of bread, and a frosted chocolate cake, topped with coconut and surrounded with sliced almonds. He knows I'm a very simple dessert eater and he said, "I know, you're thinking it's too much, right?" Well, that's EXACTLY what I was thinking but I know other people don't always think like I do. Anyway, I was so impressed with all this baking he did and in the evening, too. I didn't even mind all the kitchen clean up. I'm so glad he knows how to do these things for our family. And the cake is delicious. I think there's still enough for a small sliver tomorrow for each of us. But I still don't like the almonds.

Now, back to the apple pie filling on the floor of the oven. At some point this week, I turned on the oven to preheat for dinner and shortly heard a sizzling - you guessed it, hot pie filling. Oops! That's not such a big deal except that a few weeks ago, I was baking meatballs in the oven and when I removed the pan, one rolled onto the floor of the oven. It was too hot to retrieve so I made a mental note to wait until the oven was cool and remove it. So much for mental notes. The next time the oven was used was when Todd had to do a baking of bread. He set the meatball on fire! We could see flames through the oven window! Alec freaked out (he does that occasionally). Carmen characteristically covered her ears (as if that's going to help!) Todd made his best "I'm so disgusted" face and took care of the situation. I meekly apologized. He told me firmly that I needed to clean the oven. I made another mental note. Well, I finally cleaned the oven last night - no more pie filling or charred remains of meatball.

I have to admit, it was kind of funny seeing that meatball explode into flames like that. Reminds me of the English muffin I set on fire in the toaster oven. Or that time my steak got too close to the broiler element. Do we see a pattern here?