I’ve been talking about starting my own writing group for a long time, and it looks like I will finally be taking the plunge.  I enjoyed my writing group in Santa Clarita before I relocated to Los Angeles, and I’ve tried two of them out here.  I have written about the first one already, so I won’t revisit that.  The second one is led by a rather unorthodox fellow.  I want to say more about that, but I feel a certain restraint when I’m talking about someone else on my blog…darn it!  There are about ten other members that seem to show up pretty consistently, but I can’t be totally sure, because I haven’t gone the last couple of times, and the group is new.  A very nice, laid back lady opened up her home to have the group meet there rather than its initial spot, which was the Westchester Panara Bakery, but that was kind of noisy and not really condusive to a discussion on writing (Really good sandwiches though).  One of the group members announced that he writes on an erotica website, plus the group meets on Sundays.  Okay…have you guessed?  I am a God Girl, so I just didn’t think this group was a good fit.

My group is starting with only three of us, but I’m sure it will grow.  All three of us are Christians and grandmas to boot.  I think we all consider ourselves writers who are Christians rather than Christian writers.  I make that distinction, because I don’t want us to feel totally constrained and confined in our writing.  On the other hand, I doubt if any of us will be trying our hand at porn.  My group could start as early as next week, and I’m looking forward to it.  Lately I have been reading almost obsessively.  I have all these books on my Mac Kindle.  I purchase many of them, but I also subscribe to a blog that features many free downloads, which sounds good when you love to read like I do, but then I feel I MUST read all of them.  Quite a few are daily devotionals, and, even though they are short, that can really add up.  If I’m going to call myself a writer (and I am), I have to do at least as much writing as reading.  Today I was on a writer’s blog, and he mentioned four must-read books for writers, and then I felt compelled to order those, so now I will be READING about WRITING.

I really need this writing group to keep me accountable, and I need to make a pinky promise that I won’t buy any more books for a long time. I am cautiously optimistic this will work out.  Living in a home that contains two very young grandchildren, I need the creative outlet.  I also have two more grandchildren that live ten minutes away, and I see a lot of them as well.  Kids can easily suck up 95 percent of your energy, so by commiting to this group, I am also making a commitment to myself to nurture something as precious as a newborn baby.  I’m ready!   

 

 

 

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Around Easter I ordered an organic turkey with the idea of serving it for Sunday dinner.  This turkey was no lightweight.  In fact, it weighed in at a whopping 23 plus pounds.  I have never cooked a turkey that large before, and there was a reason for that.  First of all, it is challenging to find a roasting pan large enough to hold such an enormous speciman of poultry.  Smaller birds also seem to be more flavorful, and the larger the turkey, the more challenging it is to manuever in and out of the oven.  Anyway…this bird seemed to have an exceptionally large bosom, and the pan I thought would be adequate was not even remotely so.  This necessitated a trip to the 99 cents store, and while the flimsy aluminum pan was large enough to hold the turkey, it got all bendy just having the turkey placed in it while it defrosted in the fridge.  Have you ever tried to take a pan of sizzling, drippy juices and weighty bird out of the oven as the lightweight pan buckles and caves in?  It’s even worse than attempting to brine a turkey full of water in a plastic trash bag (okay…we won’t even go there with that episode).

I just had a birthday and Mother’s Day is this Sunday, so I decided to throw a late birthday/early Mother’s Day turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  At this point, Big Bird had been taking up a lot of space in the freezer for a month, and who knows how long it had been frozen before we rescued it  (okay, I know…ideally the rescue would have happened before the turkey met its demise).  My recent birthday and Mother’s Day seemed liked an ideal time to invite friends and family over to celebrate with a feast of turkey with all the trimmings.  My dear pal, Alondra, offered not only to provide her radical mac n’ cheese and stuffing but also to “prep” the turkey.  She arrived earlier today with her huge electric roaster in hand and rubbed the turkey with various spices and garlic infused olive oil.  She inserted a stick of herbed butter and an apple in the cavity of the turkey and plunked the whole concoction back in the fridge.  I got to sit at my dining room table and just watch her work and chat.  There were moments when I felt like I should get up and at least hand her items or something, but not enough to actually do it.  It was awesome!

That Alondra can really cook and she does it in large quantities, because she has a big family and hosts a lot of holiday gatherings.  She says it’s therapy for her, and that works for me.  All I have to do is have my visiting son take the heavy turkey out of the fridge at 6:a.m. tomorrow and plunk it in the electric oven where it will basically roast itself on a low temperature for about six hours.  Later on Alondra will bring the trays of stuffing and mac n’ cheese over and they will be popped into the oven.  YUMMY!!!!  

Thanks to Alondra my 35 guests, many of them children, will enjoy a succulent feast, including my garlic laced mashed potatoes and gravy, which will be my only contribution.  I have other people bringing some other dishes, and I will write about that later, but for now, Alondra has saved me from slaving away over a hot turkey.  Thanks to Alondra.  I guess that’s what friends are for!

 

 

 

I am reading a book by a woman who downsized from a three-bedroom home in the suburbs to a house no larger than a shed on wheels.  The current home is teeny but has a lot of eye appeal and attention to detail.  Amazingly (to me, anyway) this woman built the house herself.  She did have substantial help from friends and a knack for procuring sustainable items such as some beautiful recycled wood and a quaint perfectly sized front door.  She was also able to park the house in the backyard of some friends who live in a safe, residential neighborhood.  For most of us, the transition from average size to teeny might be a little more challenging.  I think there are many of us who find the tiny home movement fascinating, if not all out mesmerizing.  Being a fervent admirer of natural beauty, I have always proclaimed that I’d rather live in a small house surrounded by acreage than a huge house hemmed in by other homes and a nonexistent outdoor area.  My idea of entertaining lends itself to picnic tables, lanterns, a fire pit and fireflies.  I have to admit I never thought much about scant sleeping quarters, how to rustle up the grub in the mini kitchen or potty facilities.  My imaginings took me no further than a quaint, rustic abode with an adorable little porch all of it nestled right in the center of nature.  The author of the book goes into a lot more detail including how she took her home from a pile of scraps to a cute and cozy cottage fit for a little lady and her demure dog., 

In order to make this scaled down environment livable, she had to let go of many possessions that if not absolutely necessary certainly enhanced the interior of her larger home.  This is another appealing idea for me, at least 75 percent of the time.  Yet there is still that 25 percent of me who drools over the largeness and opulance of a home with a huge kitchen and copper cookware hanging elegantly from hooks above a gleaming Viking stove.  In this fantasy friends and family gather around a massive marble island, munching on appetizers with plenty of elbow room to spare.  The lovingly appointed guest room is a welcome harbor for out of town guests, and the master bedroom sports a king-sized bed and an expansive wooden fireplace.

The lady in the teeny house has no mortgage and a utility bill that tops out at $8.00 per month.  That is definitely not the case in my present home, let alone a spacious mini mansion is an upscale neighborhood like…say…Calabassas.

All in all it would probably be unrealistic for me to actually take the steps to be the owner of a tiny home.  The only way it might be feasible is if one of my daughters and her family purchase the luxury dream house and allow me to live in my own tiny space in their oversized backyard brimming with fruit trees, pots of herbs and space for the adoring Golden Retreiver I’ve always wanted to own.  Of course I would have access to the perks of the large house, the organic produce in the garden and the privacy of my own comfy cottage at night as I snuggled all warm and peaceful on my quilt covered organic cotton mattress under a canopy of stars.  Then I wouldn’t have to decide if large or small is better.  I would have the best of both worlds. 

 

Hello, my name is Barbara, and I’m an

Hello, my name is Barbara, and I’m an addict, but perhaps I need to qualify that statement.  No, I don’t crave a crack pipe, and I’m not mad for meth.  You will never find a needle, a bottle or a bong in my bedroom.  Nor, will you ever catch me crouched in front of a dumpster hoping to find a left over pizza crust or some fast food fries somebody has left behind.  Actually I am a bit of a foodie, but if I was going to go that route, I would hope to hang out near the Whole Foods bin or lurking  in the back of a four star eatery.  My addiction, however, is far more insidious and much more accepted by mainstream society.  Yes, I am a junkie alright, but the monkey on my back may not be what you think.

My main drug of choice is Amazon, and I don’t mean that distant locale of rain forests and unpolluted beauty.  It is Amazon shopping that beckons me with its siren call of convenience, value and exotic food items from faraway ports.  

I confess that I have not always been true to Amazon and have, at times, been seduced by email alerts that I seem to have signed up for.  At times I have rushed into the welcoming arms of Macy’s, Abe’s Market and Pier One Imports to name a few.  What could I do?  They were having one-day sales, and such deals might never come up again in my lifetime.  I have succumbed to their allure, but, somehow, my heart always returns to it’s first online love…Amazon.

I love to read, and I like to cook, so I have managed to amass a ridiculous amount of cookbooks.  When they first show up, I look through them marveling at the glossy pages and amazing photography.  I imagine rustling up a praise-worthy feast, but I usually don’t, because online recipes are so accessible.  Besides, when you have a kazillion cookbooks, it’s hard to remember what recipe is in what book, and who has the motivation to even try? Lest you think I’m lost in my cookbook addiction, be aware that I have gone through them at least three times recently and given away copious amounts,  because I have no room for all of these books, and somewhere inside me there is a minimilist trying to emerge and live the simple, unclutterd life.  The minimilist and the hoarder are at odds with each other, and I’m not going to tell you who seems to be winning.  Just don’t look under my bed, and be careful not to trip over any potruding cookware lest you sustain an injury.  Remember you have been warned.

Sometimes I go weeks without ordering anything, and I think I have conquered my addiction, but just when I become overly confident, I forget that pride goeth before the fall.  Perhaps I can locate a 12-step program.  I will find a sponsor, and when I put too many items in my  shopping cart in the midnight hour, they will receive a frantic phone call.  AA members use something called THE BIG BOOK to guide them in their recovery, and I should probably pick one up, cause I think it will be a valuable aid.

Do you think Amazon carries it? 

 

  

 

 

 

 

IS IT TIME FOR BED YET?

Everyone who has spent time with me after the sun goes down knows that I am not a night owl.  Typically I like to be in bed between 9 and 10:p.m. and rise between 5 and 6:a.m.  I wake up bright-eyed and chipper while the night owls in my family are barely tolerable before 10:a.m.  It’s not that I’ve never burned the midnight oil.  In fact, there was a time when I would just be getting started at 10:p.m.  Those were my youthful clubbing years when cute guys and a crazy beat caused my eyes to open wide and my feet to strut their way across a crowded dance floor.  There was the Classic Cat 90’s, The Point After, Mike’s Office and Bahama Mama’s.  These were the clubs to see and be seen, and Southern California was the place to be.  I managed to stay awake and energized (and even lose a pound or two) thanks to all that moving around.  Often my friends and I would be famished after exerting so much energy. On those nights we would make our way to Denny’s or The Copper Penny or IHOP, where I would indulge in my favorite breakfast…a cheese omelet, home fries, buttered toast and a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream, all after 2:a.m. before my metabolism turned on me and made me pay for such an indulgence.  Sometimes all this happened on a Wednesday nights with boring office jobs looming in the morning light.  My work place didn’t hold my interest when I was fully awake with all my neurons firing, so you can imagine how difficult it was to slog through the day when I was barely semi-functional.

Years later as a divorced mother of four, far from the disco sounds that had propelled me, I could barely remain awake as I tried to corral my high-energy kids into bed.  Being a good mommy, I would give the younger ones their baths and read a bed time story when I was longing to get into bed myself.  There was one book called Stone Soup that seemed to go on forever.  It involved a hungry boy who, for reasons unknown, was far from home and sustenance, and had to use his wits to obtain a nourishing broth.  I would often find myself drifting off to sleep while I struggled to finish that wretched tale for my wide-awake children.

These days all four kids are grown, and I’m a grandma.  When the grandkids spend the night, they usually stay up later than me, especially the 11-year-old.  You would think they’d sleep in a bit after being up so late, but that never seems to happen.  As my eye lids flutter open with the first rays of morning, I know I better zoom into the shower before my five-year-old granddaughter utters those inevitiable words to me, as I wrap myself in a towel…”Grandma, I want pancakes.”

The other night I was in the dining area with my lap top, checking something out online, when I decided to listen to a few Youtube hits from back in the day…classic rock, old school R&B, and doo wop.  Before I knew it, it was past my regular bed time.  My yawning had ceased, and I was fully engaged, singing along with the music, and I realized the andedote to my inability to stay awake in the evenings was the music of my youth.  All at once I was transformed from a sleepy dove to a rockin’ robin.

The Classic Cat closed its doors many years ago, but maybe I can  resurrect it in my living room.  May doo wop never cease, and make that omelet extra cheesy, please.