Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Week of Bread

Last Saturday was the beginning of a bread binge. Worry the dough. Worry the dough. Another oatmeal was a good Monday's start, along with two light brown loaves, and since I failed to capture those on film, why not repeat the oatmeal on Wednesday, so I did. . .

and on Friday another pair of light brown loaves (1/3 whole wheat/2/3 bread flour) and yet one more oatmeal . . .



and the grande finale today of two loaves of "Healthy Banana Bread"!!


Ta-da: Bread Week! Why, you're sure to ask. But why not? I was bound to my house for reasons too boring to mention, and baking bread is a good respite from computer work. It requires a different kind of thinking. You can waltermitty all over the place as you bake bread, and often, as when ironing, you can unravel all kinds of snarls--either in life or fiction.
Do you know Picasso's "Woman Ironing" from his Blue Period? I saw it in NY this past Thanksgiving week. (More on that in another post. Maybe the painting. Maybe my poem "September Ironing.") See how I can waltermitty here or there or anywhere.
There were bouts of fiction writing in between this week, but mostly added ingredients which I kneaded over and under, gooey, pliable, elastic. . .hoping to shape them into a pleasing whole.



Saturday, January 16, 2010

What's Cookin' ? Bread or Fiction?


This is a nice little oatmeal loaf with raisins.

[It has occurred to me that I should repeat this from a previous blog: With this story I had an epiphany about the whole series: it has to do with our free will and how we often aren't as free in our choices as we think we are. In this case addiction has limited Clyde's choices. Paul Zahl, a theologian who previously lived in Birmingham, has written about some things that do place limitations on our free will such as addiction, grief, depression, etc. In this story I've returned to what seems to be a recurring theme in my writing which is the rippling effect a single incident can have on changing lives--a letter that never arrives, or arrives too late, an accident, or in Clyde's case, meeting Preacherman. This, of course, is not a new idea in literature. What is, actually?]


Clyde laughed but it came out like a loud howl. “Tell me, brother, are you about to go casting some stones?” Just his luck to get this Bible thumper. “Man, the only time I’ve ever done any casting is from a fishing boat, and I deal strictly in rocks. Smokin’ ‘rocks, not casting ‘em.”
Clyde thought back to last night. Sybil laid out on the couch buck naked like a cow under a shade tree, her cow eyes oblivious to everything. Passing the glass pipe. Her old man hunkered over the stove, cooking. He was the one Clyde would shoot first. Clyde was sure his twelve hundred bucks was right now resting in that big bull’s back pocket. Soon to be on some blackjack table.


-excerpt from my story "Finding the Lord" in Christmas is a Season! 2009 edited by Linda Busby Parker, and available still from Excalibur Press or on amazon.com. (I'm editing again to have it fit back into the series.)


Or, how about a loaf of whole wheat just out of the oven?



White and wheat cooling!


Time to eat lunch, I think!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Season of Bread

Good morning!

Except for an occasional flitting of the Magpie's wings and Pickett's warm dropby's (thanks, Sheila and Dorothy), I rarely have anyone reading this blog, so I think I'll just warm up my fingers a bit from the current fluff in my brain which is bread. Bread! Flour, salt, yeast, shortening or butter, and a little water--what could be easier, right?

Usually January is a cooking month for me. What normally starts in November at Thanksgiving and gathers full steam through Christmas and New Year's Day was thwarted somewhat during these holidays by coughing/sneezing/sniffling and the general malaise of colds/viruses. So my cooking buzz has now hit. My time, too, has also been truncated by a little bundle of smiles with one new tooth named Will, our newest grandson. Nonetheless, on Monday morning I made banana bread (three overripe bananas = one pan of banana bread in this household) and yesterday, a whole wheat loaf.

This morning I read through a few old bread recipes--oatmeal banana bread, whole wheat biscuits, light brown brown, spicy gingerbread, brown bread: don't those sound luscious? Only if you're addicted to carbs, I suppose, as I seem to be.

But thinking of bread making right now is a bit backwards. lol Most normal people are thinking about the omnipresent resolution that has to do with weight. I've figured out how to make this work for me: I keep one-third of the loaf and I deliver the rest to my children.

One of my resolutions (right behind my top one which is to quit worrying--I'm not in charge of the world; consider the lilies they neither toil nor spin; today's troubles are enough for today) is to finish the Mother and Child short story series that was conceived in 2008. Three stories are completed. Two have been published. The third has been submitted to the Crazyhorse competition. About ten have been drafted. That's a lot of writing. No, that's a lot of re-writing which is a whole lot easier than writing drafts.

"Looking for the Lord" which was published in Christmas is a Season! 2009 had some parts edited out--parts that will be essential if the stories are linked--so I'm working on keeping the good editing that was done for that anthology and adding back in the things, such as Lajune, an important character, I want to keep.

With this story I had an epiphany about the whole series: it has to do with our free will and how we often aren't as free in our choices as we think we are. In this case addiction has limited Clyde's choices. Paul Zahl, a theologian who previously lived in Birmingham, has written about some things that do place limitations on our free will such as addiction, grief, depression, etc. In this story I've returned to what seems to be a recurring theme in my writing which is the rippling effect a single incident can have on changing lives--a letter that never arrives, or arrives too late, an accident, or in Clyde's case, meeting Preacherman. This, of course, is not a new idea in literature. What is, actually?

So now I need to decide where to start: Clyde or bread? Bread or Clyde? Let you know later what passion wins out.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit. . .

NPR ran what I thought was a very lame segment on traditions of New Year's Day--probably because it was too short and therefore limited. The singular phone call from Alabama that I heard was from Birmingham. A woman said she never did laundry on New Year's Day but she really didn't know why. Well, the reason why is that WHATEVER you do that day, you will do every day of the year, so take care what you do.

Other traditions a bit more interesting are:
  • Eat blackeyed peas cooked with hog jowl for good luck. (A ham bone will suffice if you're stumped on finding hog jowl.)
  • Make noise at midnight. Firecrackers are good. Firing a gun into the sky is also an option.
  • My all-time fave is dying out, but my parents insisted that you try to say "Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" before the other person did on first waking up that day. They did not know why we must say it or where this tradition originated, but we always said it. I still do.

Does anyone else have the "rabbit, rabbit, rabbit" tradition? Do you know where it originated??