Taking Stock

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Every year since leaving corporate America, I’ve set two goals. One for gardening and the other for writing. In 2017, I followed Ray Bradbury’s suggestion, to write 52 short stories. Bradbury says that you can’t write 52 BAD stories. I set out to prove him wrong.

But no. He was right. I came away from 2017 with 33 short stories, most bad. But what to do with the good ones? I had no clue.

And then, I stumbled on Anna Yeatts by signing up for a Write Stories That Sell course. Halfway through the course, I had to deal with a pantry moth infestation and stopped doing anything unrelated to killing bugs.

Anna sent an auto-reminder to finish the course.

Irritably, I emailed back that I’d get back to it when–someday–I vanquished the pantry moths hanging off my ceiling. And Anna responded with: Pantry moths are the worst! Impressing me with the hands-on touch.

After spending untold sums on books, groups, and programs to learn writing craft, I signed on with Anna. Now–18 months later–I’ve had five short stories accepted for publication, with two already published.

Goal accomplished? Yes, but achievement breeds more goals. It’s fall, a time for taking stock, and as 2019 looms, I count on the two things I learned this year.

  1. I wasn’t able to write 52 (or 33) bad stories. Thank you Ray Bradbury and Anna Yeatts.
  2. It’s never too late.

 

Editing the Garden

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The sun is shining, the air is crisp, the thermometer hovers just under 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Time to put the flowers up for winter. And that means editing.

This morning, I took a break from my mad writing goal of 20,000 words per week–I almost got there–and spent an hour digging out the bed in front of Jim’s barn.

About ten years ago, I planted sedum Autumn Joy there, thinking they’d look green in summer and dusky pink in fall. Turned out great for two years, and then the plants got scraggly. Horse nettle added its nasty self in that bed, along with some pernicious vine I’ve never identified. Then I learned that Autumn Joy–also known as Never-Dies with good reason–needs dividing every couple of years.

I divided the sedum and cut back the number of plants to reduce my work load. But then added iris and daylilies, forgetting that these too need dividing at least every two years.

One of the daylilies is especially gorgeous. That big clump at the far right of the photo? It looks like this in bloom:

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If I had places for them, I could get five fans (plants) from that clump. But as William Faulkner said, ‘kill your darlings.’ Just as true in gardening as in writing.

Speaking of, my latest published short story–and warning, it’s a little dark–is at Page & Spine Magazine.

 

Rainy Sunday

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Four inches of rain overnight, and rain predicted for every day next week. Maybe we’ll catch up and leave this drought behind.

Fall color starting to show on this Ruby Slipper hydrangea. In a couple of weeks, the leaves will turn from green to dark red.

Other People’s Recipes: Blueberry Muffins Redux

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Epic fail. They don’t look unappetizing. And they taste good. But something’s wrong with the texture of these blueberry muffins.

As usual, I used ingredients from several different recipes–including the two muffins I blogged about previously.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 4 TBSP melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (from the dairy case, not canned)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 cup blueberries

Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until incorporated. I hadn’t planned to use so much coconut milk, but the dough seemed too thick, so I kept adding, a quarter cup at a time.

Add the blueberries last, then spoon into a 12 cup muffin tin. I’ve used parchment paper muffin cups to prevent sticking, but these fell out of the papers when I took them out of the oven.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

The flavor was spot on. Lemony with pops of luscious blueberries. But the muffin turned out the way it looked. Dry and grainy, and sort of unpleasant on the tongue.

This recipe also made about twice as much dough as needed for 12 muffins. I spooned the rest in a thin layer into a loaf pan. The loaf’s texture was a tad better, but not by much.

Less of the flours? Omit the baking soda? Another egg?

Your thoughts?

What Things Cost: Chicken

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I went to the grocery yesterday to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a tandoori-like recipe. The price for two smallish breasts, raised free-range and never given antibiotics, was twelve dollars. Yes. $12.00.

Wowzer.

I’ve been buying chicken all along. Maybe I haven’t bothered to notice the price before now.

But before someone tells me to buy thighs, I’ll admit I don’t like them. Thighs have a gamey taste that no amount of marinade can hide.  It’s breast or nothing. And since I already had the Greek yogurt and seasonings in the cart, I paid the price.

But I was curious. When did chicken get so high?

Back in 1989, I stopped eating red meat. My rationale? I was convinced that the growth hormones and antibiotics given to corn-fed beef contributed to obesity in humans. No studies—just my opinion. I didn’t eat pork or lamb. I lived in the Midwest, so good fish was difficult—okay, impossible–to find. What’s left? No, not turkey. I was cooking for one.

Chicken. Not once did I stop and think. Back then, chickens were given grain to eat and shot full of growth hormones and antibiotics. Darn. Chicken wasn’t healthy enough to make it the centerpiece of my diet.

But oh well. Water under the bridge. But, still curious about the cost. How much has the price of chicken gone up since chicken farmers stopped buying feed and growth chemicals?

Ta-da. The price has doubled since 1989. Curious yourself? Take a look at the data at the Official Data: Economy, Inflation, and More website.

Not out of line according to the inflation calculator found at the US Inflation Calculator. What used to cost $1,000.00 in 1990 costs $1,929.20 in 20018.

In other words, the price for everything has almost doubled in the last 30 years.

If prices keep rising at the same rate, I wonder whether two chicken breasts will cost $24.00 in 2050.