Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 6)

Making “Lemon Sag Cake” Out of Lemons

I always read platitudes about how to recover from disappointing events. I don’t have a recent disappointing event, but almost every day I wonder if what I’m trying to write (or cook or say or whatever) is good.

I grew up on a farm adjacent to my cousin’s farm. We would meet in between and swim in the old swimming hole (don’t know if it’s still there). So much carefree summer fun.

My aunt, who was a great cook, would have freshly made bread with apple butter at her house. She also made a cake she called a “lemon sag cake.”

It was buttery around the edges lemony, crispy around the edges, and it did indeed sag in the middle of the pan. No frosting needed.

When I was older and was a little interested in cooking, I asked her for the recipe. She said, “oh–it’s just Betty Crocker’s lemon cake recipe. It failed because, you know, we’re at high altitude. I could have corrected the recipe, but everybody likes it this way.”

For some reason this stuck with me, especially when someone says they made “lemonade from lemons” after a sad or bad event.

I’m trying to make “lemon sag cake” from my recipe for books.

Circle of Concern vs. Circle of Control

My obsession with celebs began as a teen with teen magazines, and moved on to regular news (I wanted to be informed). My “being informed” morphed into “I have to know everything,” which leads to obsession.

I once went on a vacation where I was deprived of a newspaper for 2 weeks & I thought my brain would whither away. What did I miss during that time? That Roy Horn, of the act Sigfred & Roy, was bitten and dragged off the stage by his favorite tiger, Montecore. I followed that story for days. Could I do anything about it? No. Even today, all a person can do is perhaps donate to a charity site or write a text or tweet.

I’ve embarked on a journey of figuring out how to care about such things (my husband has had this figured out for years and is much more productive than I). I happened upon an article with provides such help. (Sorry, can’t remember who wrote it). This chart helps:

Circles of concern vs circle of control

My mission: concentrate on the Circle of Control (those things which I have control over).

The Amazing and Irritating Internet

30 or even 20 years ago I would not have imagined a world where I could have any knowledge at my fingertips (okay–some of it is totally fake). College papers would have been so much easier (I mean really,how do they make dissertations a challenge if you can use the Internet?).

So, it is both an extremely helpful tool and also a curse. A time waster.

Today, I caught myself looking up “countries where they eat macaroni and cheese.” Why? I’m not sure. Curiosity. Procrastination. I also looking up shoes, dresses that I’ll never wear, houses that celebrities live in, furniture that I don’t need. Nothing depraved.

Although I’m a little embarrassed when my husband walks in on me during my “writing time,” and I’m looking at TMZ. Why am I looking at TMZ? I don’t know who these people are. Nor do I know who the people on People.com are.

A little hit of Dopamine (or so, the articles say). Dopamine can’t hurt right? Unless it steals time from what we’re supposed to be doing.

I love the Internet. Instant knowledge. Used wisely. And in moderation.

I still love a good book. Not only my Kindle, but a good old fashioned paper book.

The Ukraine

It’s hard not to watch news channels all day as the world sees the horrible “reality television” that is Russia’s attack on the Ukraine. So much suffering and death and destruction wrought by a greedy and most likely psychotic dictator (yes, I call him a dictator, not a authoritarian or a strong leader). All to claim a country that has hard-fought for its freedom from Russia, a country the size of American’s Texas.

But, with evil comes good and there is good in the Ukrainian president who is refusing to leave his beloved country. He is a man who is choosing to stay in his country to fight with them, to fight for them. the bravery of the people is astounding, but I suppose many of us don’t know how brave we’d be in such a situation (and I pray we don’t ever need to find out).

Would we lay down our lives for our country as the Ukrainian president is willing to do? As the Ukrainian people are doing? As all the military all over the world sign up for?

I pray for the people of the Ukraine.

Publishing Industry Changes

It’s been happening for years; the changing face of publishing. I recently read an article that stated basically, “nobody reads anymore.”

It’s not true, not really. There is more online reading, more podcast listening, more series television watching (including my own changes in activity).

Genre fiction reading is about the same, if not higher. Sci Fi, romance, mystery, thriller books still sell. People still buy classics, sometimes on a Kindle or other reader, but they’re still being read.

I believe more people are writing books these days, trying to get published with a traditional publisher or self-publishing. Publishing is as always has been a tough undertaking, sometimes better as a hobby than as a career.

Which leads me to the depressing article I read about getting a book published. I believe the title was: Nobody wants to read your book.

Which may be true. But, I still want to write it. It may find a publisher or I may self-publish. But, I’m still writing it.

And, I’m still reading and buying other people’s books.

What I Could Have Been

As I’ve gotten older, I sometimes ruminate on what I could have been or done instead of what I have been or done. My husband thinks I ruminate on this too often, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not out of regret because I don’t think I’d do anything any differently.

When I was young, women (and men for that matter), had different choices than those young people coming up today. Men were pretty much expected to be the so-called bread winner, and women could get married and have children, be a teach or be a nurse (with or without much college). Wealthy girls were sent to “finishing school” and could go to a prestigious college, with the desired outcome being to meet and marry a successful and connected young man.

Wow, have thing changed! For the better in many ways, but now young people have so many choices that I wonder if they get overwhelmed. They can be a television or online personality, a dancer, a chef, or anything else that they want to be as long as they work at it.

At different ages and times in my life, I thought I might want to be (in another life) a model or airline stewardess (eye roll) for the glamour; a fashion designer (another eye roll), a Veterinarian, a lawyer, a pharmacist (the chemistry classes would’ve stopped me), and a psychiatrist (to figure out my own issues without actually going to a psychiatrist). Being a writer always figured into these potential pursuits, because when I became a lawyer, I could write lawyer thrillers. Ditto being a psychiatrist.

I had a career that paid the bills and put kids through college (with my husband’s extreme help) and helped launch my husband’s business. I left my corporate job (not my dream job) with a pension & for which paid for my Master’s Degree. Now, I have time to do more bucket-list things, more travel, more writing, more help for the children and grands.

In the end, I think my life has gone the way it was supposed to. My most special achievements have been my children and grandchildren, finding real love in someone who loves and respects me and shares my values, and pursuing what I’ve always had in the back of my mind as a to-do: writing.

I think I’ve become the person I was supposed to become. I’m happy.

Things That are a Mystery to Me

I’ve started a list about things that are a mystery to me; some are serious and some not. I’m going to add a few as I go along.

  1. Why do people allow news and political opinion and talking head s decide for them what choices to make?; for instance, wearing a mask if it’s in your best interest. Getting a vaccine if it will keep you alive. Sending your kids to school.
  2. Why has America become so extremely divided? We don’t want communism, nor do we want an authoritarian leader, nor do we want a dictatorship. Can we decide to be in the middle, vote and be good citizens?
  3. Why do I have to wash hand towels when (supposedly) the people using them have just washed their hands?

Sigh

National Western Rodeo and Stock Show 2022

I love January, not because it’s usually the coldest month of the year in Colorado, but because the stock show and rodeo comes to town, lead off by a parade of cowboys and dogs herding cattle and horses through the streets of downtown Denver.

This year, I skipped the rodeo and went to the agility dog show. So exciting if you’re a dog lover. Lots of unhealthy food like corn dogs and greasy pizza. Yum. An excuse to go off-diet. Took the grandkids and many of the things they see are new to them. Note: we don’t tell them them that many of the animals are about to be “food.” It’s the circle of life, right? But, it makes you become vegetarian–for a day or maybe a week.

If you’re anywhere near Colorado in January–maybe going skiing in Aspen or Telluride or Vail–stop by the National Western next year.

What Writers Don’t Want to Hear

I was Wasting time the other day while trying to clear “writer’s block.” So of course, I turned to the convenient Internet where I learned that 1) there’s no such thing as “writer’s block” and 2) many people are much more focused than I am, and 3) I was wasting time surfing the Internet.

I also made a list of statements I hated to hear from other writers:

  1. I never use an outline–the plot just comes to me.
  2. The Universe sends me my inspiration & I run with it.
  3. My characters lead the way–they tell me what to write down.
  4. I finish a first draft in 3 months.
  5. I never have to edit–it comes out right the first time (or second time).
  6. I sold my first book after fewer than 10 queries.
  7. Other writers ask me to review their books (all the time).
  8. It took me 5 years to write my book.
  9. It took me 3 months to write my book and 5 to get it published.

Just–uggg…

National Western Stock Show

The 116th Annual National Western Stock Show returned this year (Jan 8-23). https://nationalwestern.com/

I have a fondness for this stock show & rodeo (among many other events). I’m taking my daughter and grand kids to the working dog agility show (much more PG than the bull-riding.)

As someone who grew up on a farm (that wished to be a much larger cattle ranch), I went with my dad to the National Western. We put on our western best, which wasn’t so much western as “farm country.” I went with either my sister or brother, I don’t remember which. We were able to wander around the stock yards and go to a couple cattle auctions. I do not remember if my dad bought anything there.

I caught a peek of a rodeo in all its glory. We couldn’t afford to go, and so I decided that rodeos were for “rich people.”

I’ve been to a few now, and would recommend them over a circus any day.

I’m not immune to the controversy over rodeos and stock shows and treatment of animals (especially the bulls and the calf roping). However, strides have been made in managing the treatment of these animals, as well as the safety of the cowboys.

I was working in downtown Denver years ago and was able to see the annual “cattle drive” through downtown, where cowboys, dogs and others guide a small herd of bovines through the “concrete jungle” of downtown Denver.

On an aside, my oldest daughter, who is a President of Morris Media, who work with PBR (Professional Bull Riding), was able to be on Closing Bell for the New York Stock Exchange. Exciting!

Tina Battock,lower left at Closing Bell of NYSE, January 2022.
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