Ash Wednesday

299Teach us to care and not care. Teach us to sit still. ~ T. S. Eliot, “Ash Wednesday

I’m an indifferent Catholic at best, but I love the rituals and ceremonies of the Church. Today is Ash Wednesday, and every year, Catholics give up something starting today, as preparation for Easter. When you’re little, you usually wind up giving up food of some sort, but I think that gets old. My husband, a half-hearted convert upon our marriage, gives up sodas every single year. Which is a riot, since he doesn’t drink much soda. Protestant thinking in action: You want me to do what? Give something up? For HOW LONG? 

A couple of years ago, I gave up Facebook, but if I gave that up completely now, my friends would probably think I’d turned on them. Some of them pretty much live on Facebook and I’m pretty sure I’d never hear a peep out of them if I gave it up completely. Still, I’m going to try. I’m going to minimize my time on Facebook – can’t give it up completely, because even the parent’s group at Dr. Cooper’s school uses it to post meeting notices, etc. But I will try to avoid it’s siren call.

I’m also going to minimize time on other Social Networks – I like Pinterest and Twitter I couldn’t care less about, but I don’t really need to be on either of them. Other than the storyboards I’m developing on Pinterest for my next couple of books. I’m not big on plotting stories out in advance, but I do like to visualize things. I used to cut pictures out of magazines and paste them on notecards – then I’d have a whole little file box of settings and characters right on my desk. I still like that better than a “virtual bulletin board,” but I’m trying not to be a total Luddite.

At any rate, why am I telling all of you this? Because the blog is taking a break too. This is just such a seductive timesuck. Thinking of topics, finding pictures, finding links, checking one’s statistics (Oh, look, someone from Albania reads my blog!) If I ever want to finish another book, I need to put less effort into this blog.

And so, I’ll be on Blog-cation until Easter. Those who need to get in touch can shoot me a message through the website or Facebook or even Twitter, because I will check them periodically. Those who come here for the Captain Tightpants moments, I leave you with this:

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Things To Do While Hibernating – What To Read

There are lots of wonderful winter books, but most of them center around Christmas. Here a few that don’t (for better or worse):

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Winter’s Tale – the story of a thief, a dying girl, a magic horse and the gangs of New York. One of the best books ever. I hear it’s being made into a movie, but please please read this book first, because I cannot imagine the movie capturing the magical atmosphere of Mark Helprin‘s story.

The Shining – not at all a happy story, but a masterful example of using setting in your story. Indeed, the setting is really pretty much one of the main characters in this epic tale of rising terror. Again – THE BOOK, not the movie. Although the movie is good and scary, it’s not the same story. Really.

The Call of the Wild – or pretty much anything by Jack London. But probably not “To Build A Fire,” unless you want to get really bummed out

Doctor Zhivago – well, probably any Russian novel would work. But my preference is for Zhivago when we’re talking about winter stories.

 

Find links to all of these at my Winter Reads Board on Pinterest. I’m hanging out there a lot these days.

 

 

 

 

Things To Do While Hibernating – What to Eat

I was going to write a lot of words hear about some of my favorite winter recipes. Calorie and carb laden comfort festivals like chili and cornbread, Jamie Oliver’s low-budget Beef Wellington, and two family favorites: Nanny’s Tomato Noodle Soup and traditional Maryland Crab Soup. But you know, my new fave app Rescue Time tells me I am spending way the hell too much time on the ol’ Social Network and way the hell too little time on the ol’ Writing A New Novel Work. And so, without further ado, I present to you, “What To Eat While Hibernating, A Visual Diary.”

Maryland Crab Soup – although this time of year, you might have to settle for imported crabmeat, it’s still yummy. Here’s a great quick and easy recipe from AllRecipes.com.

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Chili and Cornbread – Here’s the chili

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And here’s the cornbread

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By the way, I used this exact cornbread recipe when I made the crab soup last week, except I used a regular can of corn instead of creamed corn. It still came out moist and delicious. Even Dr. Cooper, who normally hates cornbread, scarfed this one up.

I could really get carried away writing a blog about what to eat. I love to cook, which is why, since injuring my knee and not being able to run anymore, I am now thirty pounds more sexy than I was three years ago. But I digress. There are already many, many fabulous food blogs out there and I couldn’t even hope to hold my own with them. I’m impressed at all these people spending so much time snapping shots of what they’ve just baked. I can barely remember to turn the oven off. But if you’re looking for more recipes for Hibernation Season, here are some places to visit.

Play. Eat. Grow.

Couldn’t Be Parve – great for folks who keep kosher, but also handy for those, like Dr. Cooper, who are allergic to dairy

And my own lovely “Food, Glorious Food” board at Pinterest will point you in the direction of many more yummy recipes.