The Pain of Pancakes

I have a younger cousin in high school, who is a writer. She isn’t published yet as far as I know but she ended up with that creative gene that affects so many in my family. I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. It is actually comforting when one of us is experiencing one of those pesky writer problems and the other knows exactly what it feels like. This kid has such a bright spark too. Her life hasn’t been the easiest but I know one day she is going to take all of that and use it to do something fantastic.

fairy-1181702_1280My eldest child and this cousin are exactly one year and one day apart in age. If this were a fairy tale that would mean joining together on an epic journey to a hopefully happy ending. Honestly, if they ever decide to do comics or something, it could happen. My eldest is an artist. ( And yes, I realize there are more ways for a collaboration between a writer and an artist to happen other than comic books, but I watch Into the Spider-Verse last night and so comics were the first things that popped into my head.)

I am horrible at making pancakes. (Also know as hotcakes or flapjacks.) You are probably wondering what one thing has to do with the other, but stick with me please, I really do have a point.

This past week was filled to the gills with errands and appointments and I didn’t sleep catnapwell all week. I’ve been having trouble with writing because when I sit down to write I know I don’t have the time to just get lost in the words like I prefer. Everyday worries and responsibilities keep crowding in and I lose my focus. Also, I have just been so tired.

I take naps in my car on my lunch break at work because my head is too fuzzy to concentrate. I have trouble string words together coherently and the filter between my brain and my mouth isn’t working correctly either. This has been going on for a while. I’ve been depressed and frustrated with life and it only seems to get more difficult as the days go on.

Last week my annoyance levels hit the “to hell with it mark”. Often, that is a bad thing but it can occasionally be a good thing too. When I reach THWI, I can either go do something stupid or I can stop looking at all I can’t accomplish and start looking for things I can.

UndertowIn this case, I pulled up the poetry chapbook I have been fighting the formatting on for months. I sat down, added another poem, deleted all the pretty pictures I had plucked off pixabay, added some simplistic basic art instead (also from pixabay), and then spent hours adjusting and deleting things. I paid attention to what got me the result I was after and what caused problems when I uploaded my manuscript to Amazon. I came to the conclusion that I was an idiot when I realized I was causing one of the main issues myself. However, I kept plugging away and now I have a new poetry chapbook available.

(Right now I am also working on a book of short stories because I have had some complaints from readers who prefer physical copies. Once I am done, it will include all of the shorts I currently have up on Amazon and even more shiny new ones.)

Once I finished the book and ordered a proof of the physical copy, I got the oil changed in my car and then washed the poor thing. I started feeling better because I could see progress. I still had all of the other obligations that had been dragging me down but now I felt better about my ability to get things done and I managed to get a little more sleep.

This brings us back to pancakes. I truly am awful when it comes to making pancakes. pancake-640869_1920I have heard all the tips and tricks. I have watched carefully as other people make them but my pancakes still turn out barely edible if I am lucky. My kids beg me to buy the frozen kind that you heat up in the microwave so that they won’t be forced to endure my attempts at the homemade variety.

I usually listen to them, but a few weeks ago there was a sale at the grocery store on mixes. I picked up a packet of confetti style and a packet of chocolate chip batter mix. I smiled as I thought about getting up early on a Sunday and surprising the kids with a breakfast of fun pancakes and bacon. If one of the kids had been at the store with me, those packets would have never made it to the cart.

I know I am bad at pancakes but I still keep hoping that one day I’ll get it, that it will just click and suddenly I’ll be the pancake queen. I am awesome at grilled cheese so I don’t understand why pancakes are so difficult. I used to be really bad at scrambled eggs but my sister eventually fixed that, so I live in hope that I one day I will be good at pancakes too.

(If you doubt my inept pancake skills, I have had at least three different friends on separate occasions walk in on me during pancake experiments over the years. Each time they wore the same expression of horrified disbelief before they pushed me away from the cooking surface and took my spatula, then proceeded to churn out perfect pancakes from the rest of the batter. My friend Jessi could even make them look like cute little animals.)

cold-2722002_1920This morning the house was chilly because yesterday was lovely and sunny and I didn’t think to turn the heat on before bed last night. I slept in because warm blankets in a cool house are one of the best things in the world. When I awoke, I laid there in my warm cocoon and remembered the packets of pancake mix I had stored in the drawer. It was a perfect warm breakfast day.

After letting the dogs out and feeding the cats, I pulled together all of the things I would need and carefully read the instructions on the back of the package. My son walked in while the first pancake was in the pan and quickly requested something different for breakfast. I frowned but told him he could have what he was asking for along with the chocolate chip pancakes. (He is on the autism spectrum and it is hard to get him to eat different things.) Defeated, he left me to it.

craft-1423803_1920.jpgThe first pancake was black. I lost track of how long it was in the pan while talking to my son. The second one was less black but still overdone and with tiny bits of plastic stuck to it where the spatula melted. I cleaned the pan and switch to the metal spatula that I should have been using all along. This time I had better results. Still not good, but better. By the time I got to the end of the batter, I managed two reasonably roundish, lightly browned pancakes. I presented them to my son and ate a couple of the more promising failures myself.  We each ate about half of our pancakes because warm chocolate chips first thing in the morning turned out not to be the best idea.

Life is full of challenges like pancakes. It may seem like something simple that everyonevintage-1722329_1920 you know can accomplish without issue. That doesn’t mean you should be disheartened because it is difficult for you. It just means that it is going to take you extra effort to accomplish what seems easy to them. There are probably things that you do without a second thought that others find hard.

Something I hope both my cousin and my eldest child remember as they grow in talent and in life is that it is okay if the first try doesn’t work. It is okay if your repeated attempts don’t turn out perfect. Success is defined by the person who is attempting to achieve it.

In my case successful pancakes aren’t bunny shaped, they are just edible ones. One day that may change. Right now I know what I need to master first; the challenge that is in front of me.

Advertisements

December 23, 2018 Morning thoughts

coffeedeskI am awake. Well, I am faking it to the best of my ability. I’ve had coffee but it really hasn’t kicked in yet. Today is December 23, which means two days until Christmas. I don’t feel ready. Just like being awake, I am doing Christmas to the best of my ability but I’ve got that nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something important and I won’t remember until it is too late.

This year is a lean year. There are more handmade gifts under the tree than usual. I don’t see that as a problem though. It took more time and effort to crochet a hat or scarf than it would have to pick out an item online. I’ve also spent more quiet moments just thinking of the people I care about.

I think my main issue is this sense of worry that keeps lingering in the background of mypaper-933661_640 mind. My muscles are tense and won’t relax. Maybe I have been watching the news too much. The government shut down has me concerned because I know too many people that either work for or are dependant on money they receive from social security. It isn’t hurting those who actually make the rules. It hurts those that live check to check. Maybe everything will be okay by the first or third of the month, but I worry about the theoretical elderly person that spent a little extra this month because it is Christmas and planned on paying their electric bill just a little late.

I know this should be a happy and uplifting post because it is so close to the holiday but these things have been spinning around in the back of my mind and it does me good to let them out. Everyone has been sick in my family so my normal schedule has been completely wrecked, which also accounts for my unease. So far only my sister and I have escaped the flu, and I still managed to catch a sinus infection. Everyone is on the mend now.

plumbing-840835_1920My poor brother even came over with some friends yesterday to fix the massive leaks coming from every faucet in the house. It seems the water company must have turned up the water pressure. They had to crawl under the house to put in a new regulator valve (I think that is what they called it) and take apart the bathtub spout to put in something else. I am down to a trickle still escaping from the kitchen sink but I will take it over the tub full of hot water I was losing every six hours or so.

My brother coughed the entire time but didn’t complain. He should have been in bed with Netflix instead of crawling under my house. The two men who came with him to look things over and help should have been at home with their families instead of helping me, a stranger. I am thankful for all of them. The help they gave was the best Christmas present I could have received. I don’t think they even understand how much of a blessing their kindness was to me. I hope that they receive it back tenfold.

….So that is where my mind is at right now. How about you? Is there something you are currently spinning your mental wheels on? Sometimes it helps just to put things down in words, it doesn’t have to be here but the comment section is open if you just need to lay down a worry or two. You can share good things as well. black-41201_640

Writing Pain

tacks-1726654_1920This morning I stepped on a tack in the kitchen while feeding my cats. It hurt of course, but it also lead me to start a new short story after I had my wound properly disinfected and bandaged. I am a writer. That’s how things happen. I am also easily distracted which is how shortly after 300+ words on the new story I suddenly found myself sewing our shivering Chihuahua a shirt out of a bit of leftover fleece.

Anyway, I am now currently researching superstitions to help with the new story because stepping on a tack sounds like something that should be involved with a superstition. I don’t really know what the story is about completely. I have a general idea and it will have the feeling of cool October days to it, I hope. Sort of a seasonal type story or something. I’m still working on it.desk-3231118_1920

 

I really should have a degree in folklore rather than science, with a focus on history and literature. I certainly research folklore enough.

Morning Contemplation

cupI’m writing this on a Tuesday morning before getting ready for work. I have a new coffee mug that states “Mornings are for Coffee and contemplation”.  It is actually from the Netflix show Stranger Things, but I have wanted one ever since I saw a character drinking from it. Not because of the show but because I liked the mug. I like the show too of course, though I haven’t seen the second season yet. I am waiting to watch it with my eldest child and teenagers rarely have time for moms.

Anyway, I am rambling about the wrong thing. What I wanted to ramble about is the tree in my neighbor’s yard. The reason I like my new mug is that it reminds me to set aside time just to be, to sip a cup of coffee or tea and look around the world instead of just rushing through it. I am trying to be better at doing that.

So, I was sitting in my favorite chair with a hot cup of coffee and my front door wide open. The only light was from the door and the windows because I  wasn’t quite ready for artificial light yet. I heard the cicadas singing and there was a light breeze rustling the flag still attached to my porch from the 4th of July. I had the passing thought that these five minutes of my morning sound like the beginning of some sort of patriotic commercial or political ad campaign. Then I notice the gentle trembling of green leaves.

My across the street neighbor has a huge tree in her front yard that squirrels delight in. The wind this morning just teased its boughs while it was bathed in early sunlight. I waxed poetically inside my head about how pleasant the morning was and how nice it was to watch the oak tree across the street, and then promptly tripped over my own thoughts. Was the tree across the street an oak? Maybe it’s a maple?

I got up from my chair and moved to the door with my coffee so I could squint at the fall-leaves-63221_640foliage, trying to make out a single leaf. The wind picked up just enough to toss a couple of yellowing small ones from a top branch. They twisted and danced as they fell to the ground, making it impossible for me to tell what they looked like. My morning contemplation has been filled with: “Is it a maple or an oak?”

I am pretty sure the tree is a oak. Maples around here aren’t usually so big. If it is a maple tree it is very old. I could just walk across the street and look but that feels too much like giving in.