Not Self-Isolating ~ just the normal writer’s day

cakeI spent the morning cross-promoting for other writers who will in turn cross-promote for me. As often happens, I wanted to get away from my laptop and decided to bake.

I’m not a master baker. I bake very simple things and the Wonder One Bowl Vanilla Cake is one of them. I thought, I’ve got a canister full of flour, and one full of sugar, as well as all the necessary baking ingredients. With people hoarding food, why not bake a breakfast cake to enjoy for the next few days.

While the cake was baking, I started reading Harry Wegley’s RIVEN which I will review as soon as I complete it. Another thing that’s normal for me to do at home I wouldn’t characterize as “self-isolating.”

I’ll spend the afternoon rough-drafting the next chapter of my work in progress, LAST DAYS, a detective novel, not an apocalyptic story. Again, not self-isolating, although I’m home alone. Tonight I’ll watch some TV and probably read some more of Harry novel, which is a lot more apocalyptic than LAST DAYS, would ever be thought to be.

I usually have to bake a cake a few times to be sure of it before I post the recipe. I’m sure of the Wonder One Bowl Vanilla Cake. I made the variation with chopped pecans and swirled in brown sugar. I didn’t ice it for myself, though I would’ve glazed it if I had company coming. They’re not coming. They’re all self-isolating.

Wonder One Bowl Vanilla Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk
  • ¼ cup sour cream or light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. spray well with pan spray, an 8″ square or round pan. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Add egg, 2% milk, sour cream, and oil. Whisk together. Add hot water and whisk well until the batter is smooth. It will be runny but that’s okay.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap the pan gently against the counter to release any air bubbles. Now is when you can add chocolate chips on top, stir in chocolate or caramel syrup, stir in teaspoons of brown sugar and chopped pecans, or anything else that’s not too heavy.
  • Bake cake for 25 to 28 minutes or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in a few places comes out clean.

You can ice with any frosting you like, drizzle a glaze, or dust with powdered sugar. You can also eat it without icing, especially if you’ve stirred in a lot of goodies.

National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day ~ small blessings

Sophie Winter Coat 2011

 

Sophie the Wonder Dog ~ adopted seven years ago at the Manhattan (NYC) ASPCA. I often tell people, you’re going to find your adopted pet rescued you. Even if you didn’t realize you needed rescuing. Sophie definitely rescued me after my husband passed away too young.

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Sophie and Beauty, one of my adopted cats, at the vet on a senior wellness visit. If dogs become the “heart” of the house and they do, then cats become its “soul”.

 

Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. 25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. ~ Genesis 1:24 [New Living Translation]

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Sophie with her Christmas gifts. Santa loves her too. She had so much fun with these “squeaky” toys.

 

 

Singleness ~ a most valuable season

woman dancing

In American culture we’ve treated the state of singleness as a state of me-ism, freedom from other’s needs and desires, carefree liberation, interspersed with times of mutual body disrobing. One nonfic writer admits, fueled by several glasses of wine, she started her list of things to do for her-single-self in prep for this body disrobing with another adult. The list included exercise class, clean apartment, spiff up her appearance and style, etc.. Doesn’t sound that liberating to me.

woman with violyn

As Christians, God should always be Number-One in our lives. We should seek God’s will for this single life-season. Actually, singlehood is one of the most valuable seasons. It’s a time to develop into whole, fully functioning human beings. A shalom time. In Hebrew, shalom means nothing lost, nothing broken. Whether we will marry, or stay single, singleness is a time for personal growth, healing, and developing of God given talents.

man and woman 1

I’m now single, again…a widow. However, when I was single the first time, it was commonly said, “two will make a whole.” That’s not true. Two half-people do not make one wonderful whole. Two half-people are two broken people floundering in a marriage. Many of us went into marriage that way. With God’s help, fifty percent of the marriages survived. Can I suggest, that mate-seeking model is flawed. It’s also a horrible model for eventual parenting. Jesus gave the best advise for relationships.

29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12: 29-31

In my belief system, Jesus is telling me at the bottom of this, I should have appropriate self-love, but certainly not the puffed up kind. As a Christian, I believe all life on the planet, as created by God, is amazing, and all human life is sacred. That includes my life. As a born again believer, I realize the Spirit of God dwells within me. That’s something incredibly awesome and valuable.

I was born into singlehood. Although I didn’t always recognizance this, from day one until the day I married, was a time of preparation. Ideally, it was a time to get to know God intimately, and a time to know myself. It was a time of intense personal growth…a time to discover my talents and my purpose on the earth.

Forgiveness

In order to live intimately with another human being of the opposite sex, from a different cultural background, heritage, and ancestry…these years of singleness were a time to learn about forgiveness. In marriage you will have to forgive. You will have to forgive yourself perhaps even more than you forgive your mate.

These are things in our culture we don’t talk about much. We make game shows and reality TV out of marriage. We talk about buying the perfect wedding gown, taking an amazing honeymoon that will be the envy of our friends and coworkers. The wedding gown gets packed away and eventually might be given to the Salvation Army Store. We come back from the honeymoon and have to live together…actually communicate and relate to a human being totally different from ourselves.

Why not take this time of singleness as a time to know that God loves us. We can then love Him, appropriately love ourselves, and more deeply love others. Not just love a marriage partner, but our families (even if they’re flawed and they’re all flawed), and our friends. We can learn how to love the unlovable — in Christ, and not get stepped on, manipulated, and used because we know we have worth and purpose. Yes, singlehood is a very important and wonderful season of life.

Don’t Despise What You Have ~ craving more

Child, photographer
Your Superpower

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8 [New American Standard Bible]

If God, looking at us, started with what He had…that might not be such a bad plan of action.

We live in a disposable culture. We all know people who live their lives constantly craving the next, newer, better thing.  They have a smart phone that’s working just fine, but there are smarter ones coming out. So, they discard the one they have and get the new one. Or it’s a wide screen TV, and they get a wider screen. Or, whatever.

Many of us have been in situations where someone at work had a close friend. Then they aspire to and are in the running for a promotion to a higher position. So, they drop their old work buddy. We’ve all seen or heard of scenarios like this. I know I have.

So many seem to fall short in the appreciation department, in the areas of gratitude, reliability. I try to be kind, honorable, but of courses, like you, I’ve fallen short.

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Your Superpower

It really gets insidious when someone looks down upon one of his/her own talents or abilities because it’s not enough, not cool, not in demand, not of high standing, doesn’t command attention. They’re looking at whoever they think are the movers and shakers, belittling themselves by comparison. This is so sad.

When young people, or even not so young people, look at reality TV stars and devalue themselves while they crave the lives and lifestyle they are watching…this is soul killing.

Fixing, hammer
Your Superpower

This is not how the Creator made us to be. It seems cliche, yet it’s still true, we are each unique. There will never be another your or me. We’ll never be replicated. We were all born with innate abilities and talents. Maybe someone made fun of yours or put yours down. So, you thought they weren’t enough…you weren’t enough.

What were your God given talents? They could be small things. Do you always fix your bed exactly so? Do you have a green thumb and the ability to grow things? Do you love color, or music, or dance…or all of those? Are you a planner? Do you make list?

Coaching
Your Superpower

These things that are innate to you and I are precious. They are part of a whole that makes up the authentic human being we are. These traits/talents/quirks can be clues to our purpose. Or they can be a vehicle to fulfilling our purpose.

I used to sometimes think, I can’t hear from God. He’s not directing my steps, so how can I know what I’m supposed to do, what my purpose or direction in this situation is supposed to be? But then I learned, a lot of the time I was making it too complicated. The answer was often in what I had in my hand. What had I already been blessed with? I needed to take care of that and value it…maybe share some of it. What was I able to do? What felt right to do? Yeah, ask that question. What’s the right thing to do? Doing that will most certainly leave me with authentic self-esteem.

I needn’t make the situation grandiose. Perhaps making a fuss wouldn’t be the best idea. Whatever I had peace about…walk into that. Just take the next step.

 

 

Our Closest Relationships ~ how we damage them

Friends 3RELATIONSHIP, perhaps one of the most important and powerful words ever.

I’m a firm believer that my relationship with God is the most important relationship I have. It’s the one that upholds everything else in my life.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” ~ Genesis 2:18 [New American Standard Bible]

We were created to have relationships. In our society today we seem to be so isolated, lonely, even desperate. Depression seems to be epidemic. I know that in my life, building relationships with other people has been the key to happier days.

Yet, relationships are so easily damaged. Here is a list of five things (done to me, done to others, or I’ve done) that I’ve learned, from painful experience are huge NO-Nos. We could each make up our own list, and in fact, that’s a great idea. Make your personal list. Here’s mine.

1. Don’t take loved ones for granted and stop putting in effort. Don’t think they’ll always be there. For one reason or another, one day they won’t. Don’t stop treating them like they’re special. Don’t forget birthdays, anniversaries, school events and other occasions, family celebrations.

2. Don’t demean your loved one/friend in public. Don’t show greater respect to someone of higher status, of greater wealth, or who is just plain flashy…when that person will mean nothing to you in the long term and will have little impact on your life. Don’t constantly correct your loved one in public (or in private, for that matter).

3. Don’t constantly show you can do things better than your loved one. When your spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend washes the dishes, don’t pick up the water glasses, inspecting for spots and then begin to wash them over. This is an example. Anything in this vein is an insult.

horse laughing

4. Don’t engage in negative joking and banter, as a practice, with the ones you love. Have you noticed on reality TV these days the couples and/or family members are constantly belittling each other in the form of a joke? This is not good. This is hurtful. Because we are bombarded by this type of behavior on TV, doesn’t make is a healthy thing to do in our relationships. Habitual put-down jokes are very destructive.

5. Don’t lie…don’t sneak…and don’t cheat. Self-explanatory. Self-evident.

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. ~ Luke 6:31 [New American Standard Bible]

 

 

GW ~ a great new store

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My friends Betty and John, from the now closed Trump campaign office in west Jacksonville, told me about an abfab new store they shop at. “It’s GW,” they said.

“GW?” I asked. “Never heard of it.”

“Goodwill,” they laughed.They go on Monday, which is senior day and get another percentage off the already low-low prices. They often get designer clothing for $4 to $6. Many times they get items with the original price tags on showing the item was three to four times what they’re about to pay for it.

I’m a Christian and I believe in God’s blessing, provision, and His bounty. But I’m also frugal and think frugal is fun. I’m conservative in many ways and think that “conserving” and “conservation” is derived from conservative thinking. I want to live believing He will provide for me…but also having self-control with my money.

So, after I went to the veterinarian to pick up heart worm meds for my dog, I stopped by the GW just down the street. Lo, and behold, I found a mug that had to be part of the set I’d purchased in Brooklyn at Marshall’s. I’d gotten them one by one , or two by two until I had eight. They weren’t all the exact pattern, but they were the same mug. Unfortunately, I’d broken one. So, when I spotted this one that was from the exact same batch, I picked it up and it was half the price I’d paid for the others. Thank You, Lord. Since I’m not shopping at Marshall’s anymore…because they turned on the Trump brand, I was glad to pick up this mug.

Proverbs 28:25 [NLT]  ~ Greed causes fighting, trusting the Lord leads to prosperity.

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‘Big Data’ Got It Wrong ~ epic fail

big-data

 

One of the things I love about America is the individualism of its people. I love quirky people with unique personalities who can’t be quantified and parceled into neat little marketing groups. I guess that’s why I’m not fond of focus groups. So, I wasn’t at all unhappy when ‘big data’ got it wrong about the 2016 election.

The fact that all the analysts couldn’t slice and dice and pigeon-hole the American people thrilled me, gave me hope for the future. I’m not speaking politically in terms of Republican or Democrat. I’m saying they couldn’t predict the behavior of the American electorate and I like that.

Of course I’m sure the analysts and marketeers are having break downs. They’ve made lots of money off of the American people and can well afford the price of their psychiatrists. So, I don’t feel too badly for them. They’re freaking out because they are now doubting their ability to accurately segment the American populace into groups they can sell more stuff to. That’s a good thing, IMO. And I’m not against selling. I’m not even against data. We just rely on it much too much. Especially in our intelligence agencies. We need to get operatives on the ground, but that’s another topic.

This is about what I’m for. I’m for the type individualism in America that has bread excellence. I’m for the American entrepreneurial spirit, creative genius, the can do attitude that has always been part of our nation. I’m for the get-up-and go that has been demonstrated in the American story. I’m for the colorful differences between the many groups in America (the races, religions, ethnicities…all of them, don’t leave out the ones that don’t appear to be PC). I love the pride and the quirks of regional America. I want to celebrate these attributes which are found in a people with spirit and a greater reliance on individualism.

Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for human masters. ~ Colossians 3:23 [NIRV]

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. ~ Philippians 4:13 [KJV]