When I moved the typewriter poster that was rolled and stored in a bin in the attic for the umpteenth time, I decided it was time to do something with it before it gets torn, crumpled, or ruined.
It's never going into a frame to be hung on the wall, but it's too charming to toss, and it seemed there had to be some use for it.
Found paper stationery: papers from tin cans, fancy soaps, that paper wrapping around the just-bought bottle of Lea & Perrin's worcestershire sauce, flour bags, hanging number tickets from the auto repair shop, bagel bags ... and repurposed posters.
Found paper stationery is worth the effort for two reasons:
The question now ... do I write or type my letter?
Get your Story Starter Calendar ... every Sunday!
... feeling a bit bookish
Do you remember the post, The Quiet Shuffle of Cards? It was about a game of Solitaire played in the wee hours of the morning when sleep was elusive and I was restless.
It's just one of many short stories I've written (mostly for this newsletter). For some time I've wanted to do more with the stories.
I think I found the answer: handmade books.
This is the first ... and I've made so many mistakes. Though I'm pleased with the outcome of the red cover, the paper inside may not be the best choice, the gold and polka-dot tapes are not sticking (I have to pull them up and add glue), and the book needs some sort of clasp (something I should have thought about earlier in the process).
It's an accordion or concertina (a new-to-me term) style book with 10 pockets: seven to replicate the layout of a Solitaire deck and three more for the inside title page, the story, and an insert on how to play Solitaire (is that necessary? a good idea? not sure).
The book is still just shell, with lots questions that need answers. Do I use real playing cards, or create my own just for the book?
And the story needs work.
After I printed and read it on paper rather than just on the computer screen, I see things that need to change.
Below you can see some edits in progress.
Writing is so much about rewriting.
Getting started and having the bulk of the writing done is the hard part (for me). Editing my words is where the pleasure of writing begins. Replacing one word with a better, more concise word; adding or eliminating a comma; or splitting a long sentence into two can make such a difference.
Once I realized I had to glue the tape that wouldn't stick, it was disappointing, but I knew I had to keep at it, mistakes and all. I was too far along. Starting over won't help much, and I know I'll learn more if I keep going.
Despite the rather steep, but (hopefully) not insurmountable, learning curve ahead, I'm feeling a bit bookish. A bit like this is Chapter One and I want to keep reading to see what happens next.
Fingers crossed it all sticks together.
How one thing leads to another ...
I've been struggling with a project, so I've done some research and reading, and more research and more reading. And I'm starting to feel as though I'm going around in circles.
Because I am.
I'm not sure who said, "The answers are in the work," but I know it's true. I also know the hard part is starting the work.
Though I'm still uncertain, I've decided it's time to start. Anywhere. To grab at that idea that hangs like a loose thread and see where it takes me.
When I set out to write today's email, I toyed with the idea of World Jellyfish Day listed for Friday, but aside from seeing one or two floating in the water while swimming in the ocean (eek!), what do I know about jellyfish? So I decided on a nature theme to recognize Saturday's Nat'l Play Outside Day.
I gathered leaves, pinecones, pine needles, and dried flowers to make a natural mandala, didn't like what I created, and scrapped that idea.
But the leaves I collected did merit a second look, so I created the leaf pattern above. They are all from the same tree, but all so different. Much like all of us.
While the pattern of leaves on the black background was striking, I wanted more.
And that is when then the pieces (the black paper, the yellow leaves and pine needles) came together to form an idea ... and a jellyfish.
A bit abstract, but still, a jellyfish.
Be the jellyfish ...
When jellyfish were still an idea, I read a bit about them and was reminded of their bioluminescence ... they light themselves up in the deepest, darkest water.
As I discovered with my foraged materials, once we start, one thing leads to another, and then, like the jellyfish, we create our own light.
Our own bioluminescence.
It can be difficult to get started, but once you do, your light will shine.
p.s. After collecting and working with the pinecones and pine needles, my hands were covered in sap.
Even if you're not a fan of Wednesday's Nat'l Peanut Butter Lovers Month, you may be interested in knowing it's a handy cleaning agent.
Washing up with soap and water doesn't cut through pine sap. But ... peanut butter (or almond butter) does.
This post was originally published in the Waystation Whistle Sunday email series. Sign up and get a new story, every Sunday.
Mix well and add a bit of magic
I have two copies of the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook ... the one with the red and white checkered cover. One was published in 1968 and the other, 2002.
My first copy is a hand-me-down. When I received the updated version as a gift, I was all set to toss the older version.
Why keep it?
But then there was a twinge; something about tossing the old version didn't seem right. Was there regret in letting go of a book that helped me learn to cook, served me so well? Yes, that was part of it. But I wondered, too, if some of the recipes might have been changed ... or even eliminated.
And there were.
What happened to the Pfeffernuesse?
That 1968 version was my go-to book for Pfeffernuesse, a spice cookie I like, especially around the holidays.
When I grabbed the updated version and scanned the index, the recipe was ... gone.
Nowhere to be found. Cut from the new edition and replaced with updated recipes and the latest food fads.
It was then I knew.
I couldn't, wouldn't toss the old book. I'd have to keep both.
I've got other cookbooks, and each serves its own purpose. In some there may be just one recipe I like. Others may hold two or three favorites and some I use for only for reference.
Of course it's easy to search online for recipes, and I do, but there's something about slipping a cookbook off the shelf and thumbing through the food-stained, dog-earred pages to land on that recipe I know will be there.
Ready, as the editor in both books wrote, to "bring joy and good eating."
Here's to new and old favorites.
October is Cookbook Month. Do you have a favorite?
FInally, in this month of tricks and treats, little bit of magic ...
Tuesday highlights World Origami Days and Friday showcases Int'l Magic Week.
Here's a magic trick you can practice and try ...
Ask someone if they believe you can take a flat piece of paper and make a cup that will hold water.
They'll doubt it can be done.
Ready your square piece of paper, and with all the hand-waving, paper-folding flair you can muster, show them how it's done using the printable instructions below ... and fill your cup with wonder.
It's hard to know how long it took
It wasn't until the warm spring air arrived and it was time to exchange our bulky coats, gloves, and hats for lighter jackets and longer days that I had any inkling something had been happening.
On my first trip into the attic, my eye caught the bright orange draft snake on the floor just inside the door. Something was different, but I wasn't sure what.
Was that a dust bunny on the left end of the draft snake?
I wasn't surprised at the sight of it, it had been a long winter and trips to the attic were few.
On my second trip, I saw another, right in the center of the long tube.
Once again, with arms laden with winter wool, I stepped over it. But something wasn't right.
When I came down from the attic the second time, I bent over to take a closer look.
It wasn't one dust bunny, or two ... there were holes in the fabric. The finely shredded threads feathering the edge of the holes had tricked me.
The tube, still holding its shape, was empty ... of the hundreds (or more likely thousands) of split peas I'd poured into the tube to stop the draft.
One, two, or more(?) mice had chewed through one end of the draft snake to get at the peas.
Once they reached the middle, they chewed another hole. Less time in the tube, more time for removing the peas.
But where to? How long did it take?
Did they eat them? Share them? Hoard them?
It remains a mystery. There were no split peas to be seen or found. Not one. Anywhere. And no mice. We never saw them, found mouse droppings, or heard them ... quiet as a mouse.
Until we set a trap.
Text from infographic:
Out with the old?
In a world where credit cards, online ordering, fast fashion, and overnight delivery make it easy to replace the old, torn, and tattered, is there any place for mending or darning?
Ask the person whose favorite sweater has a hole in the elbow how she feels about parting with it.
Or the one whose sleeping socks sprung a hole in the heel. No others will do when the cold air seeps in under the blankets and grabs at his toes.
It can be hard to let go.
Maybe you don’t have to.
With a few simple tools and stitches, you can mend and darn the treasured clothing you’re not ready to part with.
In mending a pair of sleeping socks, the darning mushroom is slipped into the sock, the fabric/hole is stretched over the mushroom cap, and a series of running stitches build a cross-hatch weave, filling the hole.
So what’s the difference between mending and darning?
Mending is repair: replacing a zipper, restitching a dropped hem, sewing a button back in place, or adding a patch to a cover a hole.
Darning weaves thread into the existing fabric to rebuild a hole.
There is visible mending where the repair can be seen (like the sock), and invisible mending, where the repair is not seen.
Spend some time mending and you may find you’ve stitched together something larger than a tear or hole in a piece of fabric.
• Text and photos by Christine Richards
• Stitching sampler from Handicraft for Girls, McGlaufin, Library of Congress
Watch for signs. That's what mystics and people who believe there's another layer of knowing say when they talk to others about finding a way forward. Be still and watch for signs they say.
Hurricane Lee passed through yesterday and in the days leading up to its arrival, we noticed a lot of bird activity. Dozens of small birds swarmed the side yard—a herd of wrens?
And fishing boats all along the East Coast reported small birds—hundreds of them—flitting about their boats. Like nothing they'd ever seen, they said.
Maybe was the storm pushing them northward, maybe they're migrating.
For the past few weeks I've been looking for something to make. A hands-on project. Something that doesn't require a lot of new tools and isn't too difficult to learn or master. Something I can pick up when I need a distraction and easily set aside when I'm busy.
And above all, something that won't add inches to my waistline.
I'd been considering paper mache and got excited about cardboard sculpture, but couldn't (wouldn't) commit.
Until this week, when I decided to go with paper mache.
For two reasons.
1. We've been walking early in the morning and have stopped to talk with the man delivering newspapers. We've seen him delivering papers ... for years. Even had the paper delivered for a while. Last week when we stopped to talk, he gave us a copy of the Sunday paper. The following Tuesday he dropped a newspaper on our porch. I'm sure it's a soft-sell sales push to encourage us to sign up for delivery, but nonetheless, I was thinking about paper mache and had no newsprint (a crucial ingredient). Now I do.
2. And, then, once I had the newsprint, the birds appeared. They're everywhere.
Are these signs?
Who knows, but when I decided to jump in with a small project, I decided to make a bird.
Entirely freestyle. I'm not even sure what kind of bird it is, but I'm leaning toward a crow. It's taken days to get this far: build the shape, add strips of newsprint soaked in paste, let it dry overnight. Add another layer. Wait. Repeat.
It's a slow process, but it's rewarding to see the bird come together.
Once he's got his feet on the ground, I may commit to more ... unless, of course, there's a sign pointing me in a different direction.
What do you think? A coincidence or a sign? I'm not sure, but it's definitely more compelling to think of it as a sign.
If you're interested in paper mache, this is a good starting point. I'm using the glue/water mix. Seems easier and less fussy that the flour mixture ... and it doesn't spoil.
To see the paper mache process, paper artist Diana Parkhouse posts videos and offers advice. Her small-scale animals are a delight.
Work for trade. When I was about 15, I worked on a horse farm, trading labor for lessons ... English style.
By the end of my first summer, I had soap defying dirt stains under my fingernails, calloused hands, was agile with a wheelbarrow, and comfortable leading and working around horses. There was a small crew of us and though we worked throughout the barn, we were assigned one horse to tend to. My horse was a beautiful white horse. I cleaned his stall, brushed him, fussed over his long mane, and when it was time for the riding lessons earned in trade, he was my horse.
We trotted and cantered, jumped, and I learned to ride bareback. A activity that induced listing to the left, listing to the right, and a paddock bouncing with laughter.
Aside from brushing and filling water buckets, hoof care was essential. I learned how to scrape the accumulated mud and muck from the underside of the hoof and brush it clean. Standing by the horse's side, facing his rear end, and starting just above the knee, I'd run my hand down the leg to the ankle, gently cueing him to lift his hoof so I could scrape it clean.
I can't imagine doing that today. The last time I got close to a horse was at the end of the Memorial Day parade route where horse and rider stood to greet the crowd.
I was astounded at its massive presence.
Thursday is National Farrier's Week.
I remember watching the farriers when they came to the barn on their scheduled visits. They did the back-bending work of clipping, trimming, and filing each hoof, hammering and fitting the shoe.
And with each hoof and each session, there was a flick of the tail and toss of the head.
Got some new shoes on.
The reprimand was swift. It was the beginning of class—Typing 101. I slipped a piece of paper into the typewriter, set my fingers in position on the keyboard and started typing.
It wasn't long before I hit the wrong key too many times and allowed frustration to get the better of me. I grabbed the sheet of paper and yanked it out of the typewriter, crumpled it in my hands, and threw it down on my desk.
Before it landed, I heard my name.
The instructor was not pleased. She directed me to retrieve the paper, flatten it out, and roll it back into the typewriter.
She admonished me for treating the typewriter poorly and took offense at the wasted paper.
Any satisfaction I felt hearing the zip of the roller as I whipped the paper out of the machine (or crumpling it) was gone.
Since then, I've learned to love typing ... and respect my machine.
Friday is National Typewriter Day.
How's your typing? Manual typewriters may be relics, but learning to type is a skill worth mastering.
Do you hunt and peck at the keys, or are you able to type with all ten fingers ... without looking?
Occasionally, I test my typing proficiency at TypingTest.com. Speed is important, but accuracy matters, too. This morning I topped out in the "Fast" level, "Professional" continues to elude.
If you're looking to learn to type with all ten fingers or improve your typing skills, TypingTest.com is a good place to start.
I was restless and it was late ...
far too late to be making noise,
so my options were limited
when I grabbed the deck
of cards that sits on
the bookshelf for
someday or sometime
it was a surprising move
they don't get much use,
but I thought ...
the cards, still like new,
were stiff and slippery,
hard to shuffle,
and I couldn't
remember all the rules
so I faked it and won
that was easy
so I searched for
instructions and found
it wasn't so easy
game after game
I lost until
I was no longer
restless, but tired,
and went to bed
and played again
the next day, and the
again and again
after days and
weeks of following the
I aced it on a quiet
evening with a full house
While I didn't have a lot to say about playing Solitaire, I wanted to write a short piece about how calming it was to shuffle the cards and how sticking with it (finally) gave me the reward of winning.
Solitaire is a good game when you're not sure what to do. Playing with playing cards vs. online adds a physical dimension and allows for less screen time. Here's how to play.
The day was cloudy, damp, and difficult, and I never expected it to end on a colorful note.
Though threatening, it hadn't rained all day ... until it did. It was early evening when the clouds broke, the sun blazed through ... and finally, it rained.
When it stopped, the rainbow came.
There were clouds to the left of us, sun to the right, and there it was, a rainbow.
We opened the front door and stepped outside to get a better look. The longer we looked, the brighter it became. It started low in the sky to the left, reached higher and higher until it crested, and dipped lower, lower, and lower still, until we could see through the still-bare trees where it touched the horizon.
Might there be a pot of gold at the end? Seemed like it.
And then it started sprinkling.
I ran inside to grab an umbrella so we could stay outside and keep looking, but when I went to open the big black umbrella, I couldn't do it.
How could I open and stand under a big black umbrella when the rainbow above filled the air with light and color ... and something that seemed like a promise at the end of a gray day.
Steeped and stirred
We were young twenty-somethings, just settled in a new apartment when a large, unexpected, box arrived—a gift from my now-husband’s grandparents. They had recently visited Ireland, the country they emigrated from years before. While there, they purchased and shipped the gift—an Irish tea set with a delicate shamrock pattern.
To say we were delighted and surprised would be an understatement. We were, at the time, living together, unmarried, with no nuptials planned any time soon.
It was, it seemed, a blessing of sorts.
Was it a sign they had faith in our union? Perhaps—though its first service would be steeped in panic.
It was soon after receiving the box that we received word that “Big Nan” was coming from Queens, New York, to visit my husband’s parents. Barely 5'3", Nan was a petite woman, her Irish brogue as sweet as the tea we would sip from the cups they sent.
Upon hearing the news they were visiting, I suggested we invite Nan for tea.
Yes, my husband agreed, promising to call his mother to arrange a date. But there was no rush, he said, Nan would be visiting for at least a week—there was plenty of time to make plans.
But was there?
Just a day into her visit, late in the afternoon, the phone rang. “Nan and I want to stop by for a visit,” my mother-in-law said.
I was nearly speechless.
Ten minutes earlier their heir jumped into the passenger seat of his buddy’s blue and white 1970s AMC Javelin and took off down the road. There were no cell phones—he was gone and there was no way to bring him back.
My in-laws were coming and I was going to have to serve tea.
With a 20-minute window to tidy the apartment and pull things together, I gathered scattered clothes and books and tucked, dusted, and wiped what I could—all the while wondering, what will I serve with tea?
After scanning the cupboard, desperate for an idea, I settled on apple crisp. I turned on the oven, peeled half a dozen apples, spread them in a baking dish, and topped them with a mixture of butter, flour, sugar, oats, and a dash of cinnamon.
By the time they arrived, the table was set, the crisp was crisping, and I’d nearly caught my breath.
We sat at the table and I poured tea, served the apple crisp, took a deep breath—and let out a gasp. Sweet, petite Nan was eating her apple crisp with one of the small-scale souvenir spoons I had laid out for stirring our tea.
In my haste, I forgot to set out forks and they were far too polite to say so.
Oh, I blushed and apologized and fumbled for the missing utensils—and felt as though I’d faint.
But then we laughed, and they gushed over the crisp, the tea, the apartment, and how nice it was to visit.
And it was. It was a visit steeped in humor, stirred with kindness.
This is just one story of guests, dinners, and cooking mishaps I've had. How about you?
Is it an antique ... that letter opener with a bell that sits on the top shelf of my bookcase?
If my search on eBay is any indication, no, it is not.
I think I paid $12 ... it's listed at $16.95.
It's clearly not an antique and it's not worth much, but I'll keep it. It comes in handy when I get a letter tucked in an envelope that's stitched closed or sealed edge to edge with washi tape.
And when I receive a hand-painted floral envelope that's just too precious to tear open, like the one that arrived yesterday, it's the first thing I reach for.
There's value in the letter opener's utility, but more than that, I like it. It's part of a collection of letter writing paraphernalia: stationery, books, typewriters, postage stamps, and yes, more letter openers (but none with bells).
Would I sell it if it were worth more? Probably not.
The television show Antiques Roadshow has a clever take on reruns. They broadcast the original program, but amend it with updated values. In the reruns, when an item's value is displayed, they sound a tone. A cheerful chime sounds when an item's increased value is displayed alongside the original value.
When the value of a once-hot collectible has gone cold, viewers learn to recognize the dreaded tone that drops notes like the digits in front of the decimal point.
So how do we know if something is valuable?
Experts on Antiques Roadshow, and elsewhere, recommend we buy what we like ... that's what makes it valuable.
So, yes, I'll keep my letter opener with the bell. It may not be worth much, but when the mail comes ... I ring it with gusto.
What treasures are on your shelf?
Write about it. Pick one item and write about where it came from, or what it means to you. Tell your reader why you keep it, why it's important.
Letter openers, figurines, and old books are just objects ... until there is a story attached to them. Tell us what it means to you, and chances are we, too, will see its value.
We were steps into our walk on the low-tide beach when I spotted a large clam.
A clam as big as a softball, left high and dry when the tide went out.
When I picked up the clam for a closer look, I marveled at its response ... a slow-motion closing of the gap between its two halves. What was an already narrow gap closed and the clam pulled itself together.
It was alive.
I walked to the water's edge and tossed it into the ocean ... little did I know it was not the only clam left behind.
A wicked storm
The day before we'd had a wicked storm. High winds and crashing waves.
Farther down the beach we saw another, then a few more. They were tossed and tumbled by the surf, spit from the ocean, forming a line as far as we could see.
There were hundreds of them. Atlantic surf clams sometimes known as bar clams, hen clams, skimmers, and sea clams.
I'd tossed one back into the ocean, but there so many ... too many to toss into the sea.
Would it be the right thing to do, anyway? How long would they survive out of water?
We didn't have answers to the questions we were asking ourselves.
But the questions kept coming
Without the storm surge, would the returning tide come in far enough to pull them back into the sea?
We weren't sure.
So we did what we knew best ... let nature do what it does. Tumble, toss, and confound us with its power, destruction ... and beauty.
Just as it did on that blue-sky day after the storm when it offered an all-day clam buffet ... to the seagulls.
This story was prompted by World Aquatic Animal Day listed on the free, weekly Story Starter Calendar.
If you're looking for things to do or practical writing practice, grab your free calendar. It's got something to think about every day of the week.
The CRoW in tHe
let iT aLL
hIGH and LOw.
I dON't KNow.
Me jUSt say ...
whAt a ShOw.
Oftentimes, there are events you want to capture, but as a stand-alone story, there's just not enough material to write more than a few sentences.
When that happens, try a narrative poem.
It's a storytelling form of poetry you can use as a tool to share snippets of your life. Moments in time that bring joy, clarity, or greater understanding.
I've never seen a playful crow ... they keep their distance, often conjure (undeserved) negative vibes, and perch and fly with purpose. Off-guard displays of preening and play are not common ... at least not in my experience.
I wanted to remember the crow and how such a seemingly upright, formidable bird let it all go.
It's a reminder to seek, observe, and remain open to discovery, surprise, and wonder.
And when there's not much to say, but saying it is important, write a poem.
Tracking the good stuff
One good thing leads to another
Last year on a walk around the neighborhood, we stopped at the Little Free Library box that's tucked in a break in the split-rail fence, two blocks down.
Inside the box I saw the bright yellow spine of Shawn Achor's book, On Happiness. I was familiar with Achor's (funny) TED Talk and took it home.
A new practice
Achor's book is filled with stories and studies on how to boost your happiness. One way is to create a daily list of three good things. It's much the same as a gratitude, list, but I like the idea of three good things.
As you sit with pen in hand, you might at first wonder what good your ordinary day held.
Stick with it
Take a step-by-step run through your day ... you'll find there were good things.
1) that warm shower after a chill
2) seeing the sun after the rain, or
3) a smile from that stranger on the street
It's surprising how comforting and reassuring it can be to recall even the smallest moments.
Taking it to another level
Yesterday, I decided to try something different ... same exercise, but in a new format. Every day for the next 100 days I will continue to list three good things about my day ... and illustrate one.
The idea is inspired by Michael Beirut's 100 Day Project. My goal is to experiment with writing (maybe a poem or short essay), collage, painting, drawing, and photography.
In keeping with Beirut's outline, I will keep the project simple and work on it for only 15-30 minutes a day, for 100 days.
Will you join me?
You don't have to illustrate your list and no special skills are needed.
Just write down three good things at the end of each day. You can list them in a notebook, on sticky notes, a chalkboard, or document them on your phone.
Whatever is most convenient, and makes it more likely you'll stick with it.
I started with a blank notebook and keep it on a side table where I'm sure to see it every day.
If, like me, you want to take it to another level, pair an illustration or photograph with one entry from the day's list.
If you like hand lettering, hand letter your list.
Experiment with abstract images, shapes, and colors that represent how the good feels, or looks, to you.
Either way, it's a good exercise to remind ourselves that if we look, really look, there is something good to be logged and appreciated every day.
I hope you'll join me.
p.s. I've created a blank template to keep my 100 day entries consistent ... if you like, download and use the template for your list.
Are WE HANdy
He checked the basement when the outside temperature fell to 5 degrees, Fahrenheit.
At first, the ragged shape on the cement wall looked like a shadow cast by the light fixture with the pull-string cord knotted at the bottom.
But it wasn't.
It was moisture. We had a leak.
Was it the frozen pipe we were feared that frigid night ... a burst pipe leaking water, wreaking havoc?
We grabbed a flashlight and followed the telltale shimmer on the copper pipe above the damp spot on the wall that was below the kitchen sink. Up, up, up, we went to the drip, drip, drip coming from ... the faucet stem.
Is this something we can fix ourselves, we wondered?
No. We need a plumber.
But wait. Three days ago the hose connected to the faucet was dribbling. The connection was loose. I tightened it.
So now, we wondered ...
Maybe it's the seal, it needs a new washer.
It did. The unscrewed connection revealed not a worn washer, but a frayed o-ring.
Oh ... we can fix that, we said in unison.
And we did.
We dried the wet, fanned the moisture, gave one another a high-five and exclaimed ...
Are we handy, or wHAt?
Yes and no.
Changing one o-ring won't make anyone "handy." But having the willingness to try, does.
Because more often than not, there's no instruction manual for the exact problem that needs a solution. So we read the manual and try this, or that, and see what happens.
With each attempt, we store what we've learned in a memory folder labelled, "Try this, it worked last time."
And that's what makes us handy ... and creative and artistic.
So, give it a go. Shine a light and see what shimmers.
I've never been a picky eater. Not really.
This is Jell-O Week and it reminds me of one of my favorite holiday treats when I was a girl ... my grandmother's jello, served with the meal, not after. She mixed fruit in with the jello, layered it with whipped cream, and served it in a parfait dish that was undeniably festive ... layer upon layer of jello and whipped cream visible through the clear glass sides of the parfait bowl.
Having a dessert-like dish served with the meal seemed so decadent ... even on a holiday.
My first experience with anything other than fruit as jello mix-in was with a gelatin meat mold that was served at a dinner where I was a guest. Pieces of carrots and sliced beef floating in the congealed gelatin. I'd never seen such a thing, and wasn't sure I liked what I was seeing.
But we were visiting and when it was passed around the table, to be polite, I placed a small spoonful on my plate.
One bite and I was done. Nope, not going there.
A more recent, and pleasantly surprising, gelatin dish I've discovered is coffee "jelly." Simple and refreshing.
Friday is National Cabbage Day and a friend has tried again and again to convince me that lime jello with cabbage is good. I'll take her word for it.
Would you or wouldn't you ... or have you tried lime and cabbage jello, whipped up a batch of coffee jelly, or served a savory gelatin dish? Share your story in a letter, an essay, or a conversation and see what gels.
The rush to get it done ...
It was a last minute addition to the menu: chocolate avocado pudding. No stovetop required, just blend and chill.
But was late in the day.
It would be a rush to get the pudding made, chilled, and ready to serve.
But it was possible.
With the familiarity that comes with having made the recipe a number of times, I cut and pitted the avocado, measured the cocoa powder, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla, and whipped it together.
After spooning the pudding into individual serving bowls, I slid the bowls into the freezer for 15 minutes to speed the cooling.
When I reached back into the freezer to transfer them down into the refrigerator, condensation had formed on the outside of the bowls, and they were slippery.
One down, two down, three, and things were going well. When I lifted the fourth, the bowl slipped from my hand.
Boom. It hit the floor.
The bowl didn't break, but the jolt tossed the pudding from the bowl and it sprayed in every direction possible ... landing on my slacks, my sleeves, in my hair, on my face, and surrounding kitchen cabinets.
The first gasp I let out was for the bowl as it slipped from my hand.
The second, for the dollop of pudding that landed on my cheek.
And the third, loudest of all, came as I slid to the floor, in a full split, when I stepped forward and lost my chocolate-covered footing.
Oh, I wanted to cry, almost did cry, but the dollop on my cheek slid down and touched my lip.
Huh? Pudding ... sweet ... cool ... so good.
And then I laughed. Yes, I got the pudding made, but I'd also created a lot of work for myself when it came to cleaning up the mess I'd made.
National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day reminded me of my pudding predicament and another saying: haste makes waste ... yes it does, and it puts you down one serving, puddin'.
I hope you use the weekly Story Starter calendar of days to write and share your stories.
Some days may resonate, others, not so much. But most weeks I hope you find one or two that prompt something ... for conversation, letters, writing practice, or a collection of stories worth sharing.
Because people love stories, and you've got some good ones.
If you're interested, here's the recipe for Avocado Chocolate Pudding.
I don't have anything for Ballet Day, do you?
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p.s. for the grammar buffs: Is it "spilled" or "spilt?"
It's listed as "National Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day," but when it came to my collage, I liked the alternate spelling, and decided to with "spilt."
Helping you write stories worth sharing.
Story prompts, every week.