Wandering Around Wondering

My secret life? Hmm…what do I do when I’m not churning out chapters?

If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it. Plotting my next scene, wondering what my heroine will do next. Occasionally, though, I love to shut down. Close the computer and go away. Find something to do that does not involve electricity or the internet.

A scene like this slows my heart rate.

Those things are best found outdoors. I’m not picky. I love to wander along the seashore, through mountains, woods, pastoral fields, whatever, whenever. I even love to wander through my neighborhood on a quiet morning. According to a younger cousin of mine, our houses are way too close together. But this is my reality and I’m content. We have wildlife in abundance, towering trees and beautiful flowers. Sections of our suburban setting are scenic and park-like.

I can’t always get outside. Sometimes, I spend my down time organizing my life. Not an easy task, believe me. I’m a closet hoarder. That means my closets tend to overflow from time to time. The best way to keep that from happening is to give them a periodic cleaning. I must be brutal and not only grab stuff but release it into the “to-go” bag. Then, before I can come up with ten excuses why not, I force myself to drive it to the nearest donation station where the kind attendant peels back my gripping fingers and accepts the bag, laughing all the while.

And then there are those times when the closet is clean, and I’ve had my walk. Now what? Well, I come from a long line of figure-it-outers. If something doesn’t work, I figure out why and fix it, or find someone who can.

I isolated this trait to the Thomason bloodline, but I suppose it could also have trickled in from the Wade side of the family. My dad and his cousin Neal could fix anything. My younger brother could disassemble and reassemble most any kitchen appliance and end up with almost all the parts back in. He nearly always had at least one leftover something which he figured must be nonessential, since the appliance worked when he finished.

So, when my ancient but beloved dishwasher sprung a leak in the arm-like do-hickey that sprays water into the upper rack, I was forced to take action. After endless reminders to hubby, I gave up and googled the thing. I found the part for $24.95 and ordered it. When it arrived, I removed the old one and installed the new one, no leftover parts involved. It works like a new washer.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to put any repairmen out of work. If it gets too technical, I’m going to call somebody. Then I wander around and wonder how much it’s  going to cost.

If you’re a writer, you know the angst of having so little time to write, yet when you do have time, your brain is fried from your day job and you have no desire to press it into action in front of an empty screen. Sometimes you want to chill and maybe experience a bit of real life in the form of…who am I kidding? I have to confess, there are times when I just sit in a chair and read a good book or watch a favorite movie.

Last, but definitely not least, I love spending time with the kids and grands or my elderly mom. I enjoy time away with my husband. Those are the real things that bind me to life and inspire me to write.

I mentioned a number of time fillers here. So, tell me, what activities do you choose when you have a few moments of down time?


Writing Prompt: You have a day completely to yourself. Alone. At home. Journal your “fantasy” solitary day.

Click to Tweet: I have to confess, there are times when I just sit in a chair and read a good book or watch a favorite movie. #downtime #FridayThoughts

Every Five Days: A Poetic Journey to Bread

By Kristy Horine

Sourdough. 

It’s been the bread of choice in my family for three generations. From Papaw, to Momma, to me. My “Secret Life” as a bread maker has waxed and waned over the years. I’ve received jars of starter, killed jars of starter, and baked hundreds of loaves of bread. Most bread I gave away. Sourdough to neighbors. Sourdough to strangers. Sourdough to bake sales for various ministries. Sourdough as communion bread. 

Over time, I’ve learned the process — feeding, waiting, kneading, waiting, baking, eating and waiting some more — is blessed with measures of faith, hope and love. The three that remain.  To honor the Lord who gave us His own body as bread, a poem:

Every fifth morning, I pull the pickle jar from the fridge.
(It used to live with Cathy Thompson,
The jar did.
She filled it with things that bubbled and soured.
Then, she gave it to me.)
I put the pickle jar on the counter.

Every fifth morning, into my two-cup glass measureFood for starters

I add:
One cup of perfect-warm water,
three, one-fourth cups sugar,
Three tablespoons potato flakes.
(The flakes look like snow.)
I stir and waterfall the warm, sweet, snow into the pickle jar.

Then,
I wait.

Every fifth night, I fetch my mixing bowl
From under the counter.
(Momma gave me a set of three at Christmas-time
One year)
I add:A measure of flour

One fourth cup sugar,
One half cup oil,
One tablespoon salt,
One cup swirled-up starter,
One and a half cups perfect-warm water
Six cups bread flour.
I stir. Turn out. Knead.

Then,
I wait.

Every sixth morning, I grease and flour my pans.
Punch down dough, turn out onto flour-dusted counter,
Twist in two places to make lumps of three.
I press and spread and roll the dough
With my fingers, floured white.
Dough pressed flat

I tuck the dough into pans, pull waxed paper covers up to their chins.

Then, I wait.

Every sixth evening, I turn the knob to start the
WHOOSH!
Of gas in my oven.
Thirty minutes in, a glance for golden brown, a thump on
Top for doneness.Sliced bread
I eat the heels
(straight away)
for they are my favorite parts:
Slathered with sweet cream salted butter,
Only half allowed to melt,
For the waiting has seemed so long.

WRITING PROMPT: You are a master baker, paid to produce the most exquisite morsels ever to be eaten. You have received an order for two plain loaves of bread to be delivered to a remote hillside. The client is willing to pay seventeen times what the bread is worth, as long as you deliver it in person at exactly three o’clock. Write about the conversation you have with the client upon delivery.


Click to Tweet: Every Five Days: A Poetic Journey to Bread via @inspiredprompt and @kristyhorine – sometimes the waiting seems long but the end product slathered with butter, totally worth it.

Gardening!

I have been a gardener for as long as I can remember … or at least attempted to be one. As a child, there was an open lot next to our house in Nigeria which my dad made into a large garden. He and Mom worked tirelessly in that garden along with the help of a hired Nigerian worker. The produce they grew during the rainy season helped so much at that place and time in history, when getting food was not as simple a task as stopping by the grocery store on my way home, like it is now.

And I helped them garden. At least I toddled along behind Daddy and pestered him, asking how I could help him. I was the only one of his four children who showed an interest in gardening and I have been drawn to it for as long as I can remember.

One of my fondest gardening memories is of climbing inside the angled cucumber trellis my dad had built, to pick ripe cucumbers inside that he could not see or reach. He’d built a long teepee-like structure with the two sides about three feet apart at the base but meeting in the middle a few feet off the ground. I would crawl along inside that structure picking cucumbers and tossing them out to him. I felt like I was in my own little botanical wonderland with lush vines all around me. And I felt so big and important to have been given the task of deciding if a cucumber was ready to be picked or not.

The first year I was married, over 40 years ago now, I talked my husband into renting a tiller and tilling up a patch of land in our back yard for me to plant vegetables. I had no idea what I was doing back then but worked away at the endeavor anyway. I have had a garden ever since but these days I at least know which plants do better in dryer soil, which need more water, which should be planted by seed and which need to be started indoors a few weeks before planting. I’ve also learned a few tricks like planting marigolds around the edge of the garden to help keep the bugs out.

Last year, I tried something new. My college-age son put in a raised garden for me and, oh my goodness, that turned out so well! I don’t know if it was that the new location got more sunlight or if it was the new bags of garden soil I put in the area, but I have never had such a successful garden. Ever. I had a couple rows of okra that grew to be taller than me by several feet. I had to bend them over to pick the new produce by the end of the season. My family ate roasted okra all summer and fried okra all winter that I had cut and frozen.

So, it’s summer again and you can bet if I can’t be found inside my house cleaning, cooking, or writing, I am outside playing in my garden.

Since I often write devotions, I naturally find Bible verses for many aspects of life. Here is my favorite gardening verse:

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12 (NIV)

Click to Tweet: “It’s summer again and you can bet if I can’t be found inside my house cleaning, cooking, or writing, I am outside playing in my garden.” — Harriet Michael via @InspiredPrompt #gardening #FridayThoughts

Writing Prompt –  Finish this paragraph: Ellen dumped another shovel-full of soil into the wheelbarrow. All this work better pay off. If the garden didn’t do well, Marty would throw a fit.