Something To Write Home About (II)

Letter writers are reporters for the newspaper of life. Columnists of the daily. Chroniclers of the ordinary. Copy editors of dreams.

That last point is perhaps best illustrated in a poem I read recently by j.i. kleinberg, author of the blog chocolate is a verb.

Please take a moment to immerse yourself in it.

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“found poem” by j.i. kleinberg (used with permission)

As a life-long letter writer I was captivated by Judy’s succinct description… an explanation, if you will, of why I write letters. (Not that I need to explain myself, lol!) She nailed it and my gut reaction was YES. (I love it when someone unexpectedly defines a part of me that has heretofore been indescribable!) Thank you.

To me, this is what letter writing is about — revealing yourself line by line and sorting out life by the paragraph. (Personally… and preferably with a pen.) No backspace. No delete. Put it out there!

Letter-writing is a soul-baring business and the best letters are those filled with unabashed opinions and juicy thoughts — our true, unedited selves. Somehow, I think poets feel the same way about writing poems, xo.

Dangly Thingy

Fluid lines appeal to me (as does transparency) in letter-writing, poetry, and “dangly things.” (This one happens to grace my current writing space — aka ‘Garden Room’ — courtesy of my late sister.) I gave it to her after she crashed her Harley ten years ago (not her fault!) while she was convalescing in a nursing home for five months with casts up to her hips and shoulders — with a terrific attitude, I might add. It brightened her room, and now it brightens my life. (And I miss writing to her!)

For every letter, there’s a designated “receiver”– someone as willing to read your thoughts as you are eager to write them — whether they write back or not! FYI, I preface or ‘postlude’ many of my letters with an abject apology of sorts: “Don’t feel like you have to respond or keep up with me word-wise.” (Can’t help myself… it’s who I am.)

Letters are our indelible history in the making (if we don’t “tell,” who will?)… a mutual exchange of souls, and as so eloquently stated, “intimate art.”

Long live poets and letter-writers!

Enjoying a lil’ soul-baring,

~ Kim

Flowergram IX

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It’s been awhile since I posted a Flowergram, but whatever this cacophony of purple is in our back yard, it attracts “hummers” (aka hummingbirds) and brings me joy. I hope it does you, too! (Couldn’t resist sharing it, although my feathered friends were a bit too speedy to capture in flight — use your imagination!)

Totally un-floral (but related to lake life) is the state of The Bluff since we came back from our 4th of July sojourn to Minnesota. A huge section broke off and/or sunk in from the previous rains and run-off,  plus we were greeted with 6″ (or more) of rain upon our return. Our “view” is about to change dramatically!

Winds, waves, and ongoing high water have been undermining The Bluff daily and I’m just waiting to hear the “whoosh” when it meets its watery grave… a piece of our lives and history GONE due to unprecedented weather. (The world and its climactic conditions are in flux, and it’s good to be mindful of what that may mean for us.) On a local level, I’d sum it up as: things change — especially people, lives, and ideas — bear with it, go with it, and adapt the best you can. There’s an inspiring simplicity to this stark reality.

Bluff Stuff

On a side note (aka “story”) The Bluff has been a popular spot to catch catfish over the years and it’s not unusual to have late-night visitors lugging poles and flashlights down the slope all hours of the night. (Folks show up sporadically from midnight ’til dawn — prime cat-fishing time — to reel in a lunker or two for dinner the next day.)

I respect that (and hunger) as long as they respect the privilege of “public property.” Yes, I know it’s not “mine” but I take care of it like it is! I picked up trash along the shoreline once for two days, then tied an empty garbage bag to a tree (along with a poster of “photographic evidence,” tee hee) to remind folks not to be flagrant with Nature — or “my” neighborhood. Apparently the point was taken… I haven’t had to pick up trash since then. Win, win.

One recent evening when I was up at 1:30 a.m. (such is the life of a writer ;) I saw headlights bearing down the road, turning onto The Bluff. Let me tell you, they slammed on their brakes pretty darn quick when their front bumper reached that drop-off! Within seconds the wanna-be fishermen shifted into reverse and re-thunk their plans in the time it took to back up, because they were up the road like a shot! (I’m just thankful they didn’t go over the edge… bet they were, too.) Life on the lake is “changeable” — everybody adapts — especially fishermen. And me.

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Whether your flora is blooming locally or not (and fishing is amenable or accessible), remember to “bloom where you’re planted.”

Appreciate life in all of its stages and changes.

And, take care of yourself. (Ma Nature, too, please.) Thanks!

 Enjoying “life in progress” on the lake,

~ Kim

Out of the Shadows

Storm

I’ve been living in the shadows lately… partially defined, somewhat indistinct… and mostly due to Oklahoma’s meteorological mayhem since we moved into our house — never mind an unprecedented case of “Seasonal Affective Disorder” and wonky Do Over circumstances. (I thought Minnesota’s weather wreaked havoc on my psyche!) Sheesh.

Frequently unannounced absences from this space (due to life and whatnot) have also contributed to my lack of continuity and well-being. I started “this” for the express purpose of “expressing myself” (four-odd years ago) and when I don’t write regularly, I feel it down to my toes… or act like the cloud pictured above.

I’ve also been missing “playing” in my comment section. I’m a responder! When I don’t respond, I feel awful. (I imagine you do, too.) Thank you for your comment just doesn’t do it for me, and not replying to your comments does me in completely! I promise to be a lil’ more interactive from now on, xo.

Speaking of Minnesota… I just returned from a 17 day sojourn there, mostly spent with my Mom who recently turned 80 — can you say surprise party? ;) Mom has no internet. (Can you say cranky?) Thank goodness The Man Of Few Words has weathered More.Than.One of my artistic temperamental storms and knows that hugs cure my ills. I’m positive for the most part, but I have my moments.

And, speaking of The Man of Few Words… today is the first day he hasn’t been somewhere in the house (new or temporary) in over eight months. (!) I love that man to pieces, but sometimes a girl’s gotta have a lil’ breathing room — even though he provides plenty of “room” with his quiet countenance. (No offense to retirees, folks with disabilities and/or illness, or who stay home together by choice — good for you!) TMOFW started a new job today and I feel like Queen For A Day. ‘Nuff said.

Anyhoo, I’m amazed (or taken aback) at how seldom I’ve asserted myself here during these past months considering how much I love to write. (And how cathartic it is.) It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just that I don’t know how to say what’s on my mind sometimes. (Either that, or I’m plain ol’ wimpy… or sparing you from a bunch of indistinct whining.) Call it post traumatic stress syndrome, coping, or whatever (!), I’ve been peeking at life (including yours) more than participating and I don’t like it. Definitely not moi!

(At least I’m definite about something…)

Thankfully shadows are created by light, and that’s what I’ve chosen to focus on during these tentative, tumultuous months — silver linings and all that. With light, ordinary every day objects transform into art… plus they make me smile.

On a personal basis, I’ve been redefining what I want out of life and honing my edges, which isn’t easy for a “soft” person like me. I’d much rather float along with the status quo and avoid decision-making, confrontation, opinion-stating, (and/or social media) unless I absolutely have to — yet I know full well that honest communication is a two-way street and it involves speaking my mind (and listening to yours) so we can both say “what we think.”

(Sometimes I think too much.)

Otherwise, how can anyone know what I — or you — feel? Bring it on!

Wall Flower

“There you are… don’t be shy.”

I’m finally out of the shadows.

In the light at long last.

Living my life and looking forward to celebrating yours!

Enjoying better-late-than-never illuminations,

~ Kim

Reflections

Clouds 4

The other day I stopped at a thrift store along the highway to poke around for a bit. (Cheap entertainment.)

On the way in I noticed a small Casio keyboard for sale (the kind with “light up keys” when you play the notes — an oldie, but a goodie) perched on a rickety stand on the dusty dirt “floor” outside. I didn’t pay much attention to it because my mind was on kitchen stuff (a girl’s gotta restock somehow) so I went inside in search of “treasures.”

Not long afterwards, a family came in — Ma and Pa with four young’uns in tow — who proceeded to scramble up and down each aisle in search of the next great “deal.” (Me, too.) Occasionally we bumped elbows and shared smiles and giggles as we went about our singular intended quests.

After I’d procured and paid for my $6.00’s worth of thrift store happiness, I exited the building intent on going home, but the keyboard beckoned…

On a whim (and because it was plugged in), I set my purse and “recycled Walmart bag” on the dirt floor and stood in front of the keys. What would I play?

An elderly gentleman (whom I’d conversed with earlier) was still slung on a bar stool (also for sale) and I wasn’t sure if he was loitering or just keepin’ an eye on things — but his face was weathered like the surrounding Oklahoma landscape and he interested me. He didn’t ask for a “concert,” but his stalwart presence and sense of fun elicited Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” as the optimal piece to play.

Within a few measures of the opening notes, a lil’ girl who reminded me of “Scout” (Atticus Finch’s daughter in “To Kill A Mockingbird” — one of my favorite novels) came running out the door and was glued to my elbow, watching… wondering… listening.

Soon, her three siblings quickly joined her.

Considering the majority of my “audience” was under 13 years old, I switched gears and said: “Here’s one I bet you know.” Then I proceeded to play the ‘Happy Dance’ theme song from the Charlie Brown specials. I love that song. (They seemed to, too.)

More smiles and giggles followed… theirs and mine.

When I finished, the lil’ gal commented: “You’re realllllly good!” and my response was: “Well, I’ve been playing piano for over 50 years now, so I’ve had LOTS of practice.”

(Imagine that… 50 years!)

The old guy just grinned, probably more about my age than my piano-playing prowess.

After that, we parted company — four youngsters and an “oldster” (or two) bolstered by strains of music from my past — music which I no longer have (everything burned up in the fire), but God graciously granted me “recall” for that impromptu concert. Playing from ‘memory’ was never my strong suit; it’s a discipline my piano teacher did her best to instill in me, and which others highly recommend for ‘freedom of expression.’ Unfortunately, the best I ever did was to comply by memorizing a piece or two for the requisite “piano recital” every Spring. (I need to work on that again.)

But, on occasion — on this occasion — I “remembered” — if only for the look of sheer joy on those young (and old) faces. Music was meant to be shared.

Back in my “hey day”(a half-century ago!), my piano teacher had aspirations for me to become a concert pianist — but life turned out otherwise. Now, it’s merely a ‘reflection’ of my past — and probably why I love the reflections on the lake (and music) so much… and Debussy to this day. Or the Charlie Brown theme. :)

Although I don’t have my old music books any more, I still enjoy sharing “music.” (Especially when youngsters — and “oldsters” are involved.)

Here’s one I used to play, illustrated by lovely Monet paintings (another love) and gorgeous real-life photos. Enjoy!

Debussy’s Reflections In The Water

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Whether or not life works out the way you (or others) once dreamed, you can still make a difference.

Enjoying “Reflections In The Water,”

~Kim

“Easy” Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread

I love baking from scratch (really I do), but sometimes a lil’ “punting” is called for — especially when my pantry is low on ingredients and I’m hungry for fresh-from-the-oven goodness — now.

All I had on hand was King Arthur Flour’s gluten free “baking mix” and some previously frozen pumpkin to make a “pumpkin bread” (of sorts.) That, and years… and years… and years of baking experience.

After a somewhat desperate (allow me re-phrase that motivated!) online search, I discovered this recipe. Sadly I was missing a couple of ingredients — but, where there’s a will there’s a way.

“Easy” Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

(flagrantly adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe)

1/2 c. vegetable oil (I used canola)

1 c. sugar (I used 3/4 cup because The Man Of Few Words doesn’t like things “sweet” — except me. :)

1 large egg (the original recipe called for 3; I wanted pumpkin “bread” not pumpkin cake — plus I only had 1 egg!)

2 c. pumpkin puree (I made up for the lack of “egg moisture” with more pumpkin, which is why my bread is “orange-r”)

3 T. honey (another punt… fresh out of molasses, per the original recipe)

1 tsp. vanilla (truthfully I was out of vanilla, too, so I used 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar cuz… a girl’s gotta do!)

Sigh… I was also out of “pumpkin pie spice” (their recipe called for 1 tsp. of it)… so I used:

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. apple pie spice

(Whatever works!!!)

2 c. King Arthur Gluten-Free Baking Mix (not GF Flour)

Sparkle sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350º F and lightly grease a loaf pan with shortening. (NOTE: I used a round casserole cuz I haven’t been able to replace my bread pans yet.) Adjust baking time as needed.

Mix together oil, sugar, egg, pumpkin, honey, vanilla (or apple cider vinegar) and spices in a large bowl with an electric mixer.

Add baking mix and beat until combined. Let the batter rest 10 minutes. (I forgot to do this… see “hungry” ¶ 1.)

Spread batter in prepared pan and sprinkle top with sparkle sugar.

Bake 30 minutes, then tent with foil and continue baking 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the “loaf” comes out clean. (Might take a lil’ longer than that… use your nose!) I can “smell” when things are done.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn “loaf” out onto the rack to cool completely.

(And, if in doubt about “my rendition”… make the original recipe!)

Pumpkin Bread 2

I think the results speak for themselves, don’t you?

(By the way, it made fabulous “French Toast” the next day.)

Wishing you a spontaneous weekend!

Enjoying freedom of expression (plus a few decades of ‘know how’) in the kitchen,

~ Kim

Frozen Pineapple Cilantro Mojito

Cilantro Mojito

One of the most refreshing beverages I had last summer was this Frozen Pineapple Cilantro Mojito. (Just brought home the ingredients to make a batch this weekend… and yes, I know it’s only Wednesday… some things are worth the wait. ;)

Now that our temps have soared to 100º F, I’m ready for more. (Cocktails, not heat!)

Credit goes to “Baking A Moment” and this recipe. Many thanks! Ahhhhh…

Enjoying a lil’ heat relief,

~ Kim

Musical Chairs

Lyrical Chairs

You don’t get to be my age and cultivate a sense of contentment by hanging onto things, but every once in awhile I miss my chairs.

They were a part of my life. Part of me.

I even dressed them up on occasion. ;)

Deck the halls... and chairs

Then along came my friend Marla for an impromptu “Girls Day” gathering at my house — with a surprise in tow.

Marla is a piano player. A dear friend. Someone who “gets” me.

Lookie what she brought!

The Chair

A friend of hers was clearing out some things when Marla spied “The Chair” and asked what she was going to do with it. In a moment of generosity, this cast off went from “throw-away” to “give-away.” I’ve been doubly blessed by generous hearts.

Despite the fact that it has no seat (that’s on The Man Of Few Words’ honey-do list) this gem is rife with possibilities. What color fabric? What kind of cushion? As I search for the “right” ones in the coming months, not only will I be merging past with present, I’ll be forging ahead. What an extraordinary gift… the sense of “connection” and promise.

Truly, I’m not defined by “stuff,” but I do recognize the value in treasures… and this chair is definitely one of them. So is my friend. xo

Enjoying an unexpected piece of my past,

~ Kim