Monthly Archives: November 2014


I thought if there was one week in the year it would be impossible for me to put up a Wednesday blog post, it would be this week. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and today is my pie-baking day. I bake a lot of pies, so it’s a busy day. I spent my day transforming my dining room table from this:

My Painting Mess

My Painting Mess

To this:
Cleared Table

Cleared Table

And then to this:


Those are only some of the pies I baked today. At the time the picture was taken, there were already two in the refrigerator. There were also two in the oven and there were three I was still putting together. We host a big family gathering on Thanksgiving. This is still way more pie than we need. Why do I do it? I’m not quite sure. I just love pie and I became the family pie-baker while my mother was still hosting the gathering at her house. In those days, I would make up to thirty pies. I have cut back, now that mom is gone and there’s a turkey in my own oven on Thanksgiving morning.

My mom loved pie, too. That’s one reason I made so many. She wanted plenty of leftovers and I was happy to make them for her. I was happy to make them for everyone. My middle brother, also gone now, always used to take a pumpkin and a pecan home with him. Other siblings took other pies. Nieces and nephews got their favorites, too. Not as many go out the door whole any more, but I still send lots of pie home with relatives.

I also keep a few here in order to honor my favorite holiday tradition. Other people can go out shopping on Black Friday. I stay home and watch Christmas videos while eating leftover pie. I will start with Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas. My list always includes The Muppet Family Christmas and The Muppet Christmas Carol, too. Then I’ll probably run through a few other versions of A Christmas Carol, including the Albert Finney “Scrooge,” The Alistair Sim “Scrooge,” and the one from 1938 that’s full of Lockharts.

I have animated versions, too – Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Magoo’s Christmas Carol and the Disney one that’s so intense I won’t let small children watch it. I even have a version that’s a Western, starring Jack Palance. I am not kidding.

Do I like this story much? What can I say? I am just a sucker for redemption.

And pie.

A Cold Blog Day

I Sweated to the Oldies today. Are you impressed? If you are not impressed, then you don’t know how much I wanted to skip it this morning. It was twenty-seven degrees outside and I actually had to go outside while the temperature was still twenty-seven degrees. That was because my husband drives a Honda Odyssey that was involved in the recent airbag recall. He made the appointment to get it fixed before anyone knew that arctic cold would be invading Florida today. Since his vehicle was in the shop, I needed to drive him to work. It was either that or let him take my car to work and I did not want to be without a car all day, so I put on a whole lot of layers and I took my husband to work.

Well, technically, he drove, but I did drive myself home after he hopped out of my car and went in to his workplace. Okay, he didn’t hop. He doesn’t like his job that much; let’s be honest. After he trudged into the office, I drove myself home. The whole way there, I was arguing with the part of me that hates to exercise, who thought going out into the cold at the time we normally start the workout should be a good excuse to skip it. I wanted to skip it. I woke up depressed for no apparent reason and all I wanted to do when I got home was wrap myself in a blanket and drink warm beverages.

Instead, I took off my warm layers and I put on my workout clothes. Then I went to my living room and turned on my Sweatin’ to the Oldies 2 DVD and I sweated to those oldies. For a whole hour! Then I pumped my fist and said, “I win!”

Literally. I did that, in my living room, because I was so happy that the lethargy did not win. It was strong but I was stronger. I made a good choice on a bad day, and that turned it into a good day. I celebrated by baking a pie.

Acorn Squash Pie

Acorn Squash Pie

It’s an acorn squash pie. The recipe came from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts, a book I fell in love with long before Martha Stewart became famous, built a media empire and served time for insider trading. She was just a caterer who wrote a book about entertaining and then wrote a book about pies. THE book about pies, the most beautiful book about pies ever written. This book is full of wonderful pie recipes, but the acorn squash pie is my favorite.

Yes, I had this pie in mind when I picked out the Sweet Dumpling squash and the Golden Acorn squash that appeared in my recent paintings. I’ll admit to a little pang when I plunged a knife into them, gutted them and cut them into chunks for steaming. I got over it. The pie is delicious.

Trying Not to Think Too Much

It’s week two of NaNoWriMo and I am still writing. I’m convinced that everything I’m writing is crap and I will never write anything good and I should just give up and stop trying, but I remember that week two always feels this way, so I keep going. This is also the time I start thinking that next year, I will be a planner, not a pantser. I hope I really mean it this time. My story is all over the place because I just introduce some characters and let them do whatever they want. It turns out they want to be boring. They don’t know they’re in a story and they just go about their everyday business, doing everyday things in everyday ways. Whenever I ask them to do something interesting, they start heading down those dark paths I’m trying to avoid.

Sigh…that probably means I’m going to have to go there. I swear I will not write something relentlessly bleak and hopeless. If I go dark, it will be funny dark, not desperately dark. Right now, I’m still arguing with my muse and my plot bunny, but they will probably have their way. I need to keep writing and that means I need to put my typing fingers at the service of my anthropomorphized helpers. I didn’t plan, so I’m pretty much at their mercy.

At this point, it’s about getting out of my own way. That seems to be true of the painting, too. If I think too much while I’m painting, I hate everything I paint. Nothing looks the way I want it to look or the way I hoped it would look. I’m trying things and I feel as if they’re not working and they will never work and I’m a terrible painter and I’m not getting any better and maybe I should just give up.

I have to just paint. If I do that and I let myself have a good time, I end up with a painting that pleases me. It may not look exactly like the model in front of me, but I like it anyway. I’m learning to trust the process. If I’m painting, I’m improving.

Golden Acorn Squash

Golden Acorn Squash

This pleases me. It’s a golden acorn squash and I had fun painting it. I know it’s not perfect, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s my painting. I had fun. I like it.

Who Let the Dark In?

Okay, WriMos, who’s missing a dark muse? A rabid plot bunny? Somebody showed up at my house last night and tried to send my story in a scary, apocalyptic direction. It was not my muse. My muse is named Amber and she’s part of the Thalia corps. I don’t write dark stuff. I don’t even read dark stuff. Has a hacker broken into the computers at Muse Central? Have some wires been crossed? Is Melpomene trying a hostile takeover?

Whoever you are, I need you to call off your muse. Or your plot bunny. My plot bunnies are always fluffy and cute, in pastel colors or jewel tones. This one is black and has fangs dripping blood. He is seriously off course and he needs to move on. I am not going to write a dark story. I would rather lose NaNoWriMo than write a dark story.

I am absolutely not kidding. Well…I might be kidding a little bit about the bunny. There was not literally a blood-soaked black rabbit in my living room last night. My story did take a dark turn, though, and I am definitely not going there. Not now. Not later. Not ever. The world has enough darkness in it; I am not going to be the conduit for more.

I think I’m going to stay away from my story for a while today. I will finish this blog post. I will probably bake something and I will try to make myself paint. I am tired of feeling betrayed by words. I am going to play with cookie dough and I am going to play with color. I will go back to my novel this evening and I will try to turn it towards the light or, at least, towards the funny. I can stand darkness if it’s funny. Funny trumps everything.

We’ll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I can report that I did paint last week.

Pumpkin Painting

Pumpkin Painting

This is my Halloween pumpkin, before I carved it, and a Sweet Dumpling squash that caught my eye at the grocery store. I’m still fighting with the orange, but I do like the small squash.

Oh, and I do have other good news to report. My daughter and I went to the after-Halloween sales Saturday morning and found perfect NaNoWriMo hats, at half price.

Kick-off Latte and NaNo Hat

Kick-off Latte and NaNo Hat

Wait…my daughter and I both bought these hats. She came over to my house yesterday and did some work on her NaNoWriMo novel while she was here. My daughter writes horror fiction. She loves the creepy stuff. If the dark side really has cookies, she probably baked them. What if…

Nah…we couldn’t have mixed up our hats, could we?

I know she reads my blog, so I have to ask: Mary, have you seen any pink plot bunnies hanging out at your house?