Sunday, January 31, 2021

Inspiration, Deficiency, and Nuts

In November, my friend from college baked cranberry bread, and inspired me to do the same.  Except I did not bake it until this week.  That’s delayed inspiration.  

It was a bit time consuming, but there is merit in completing the task of slicing each cranberry in half, in zesting the orange -- you must not skip this, O Best Beloved! --  and in chopping the nuts.  Cranberry nut bread requires much prepping of ingredients and following the recipe.  No creativity required.

A few days ago, another friend posted this:


Always search for truth.

Show your work and cite your source.

Evidence is key.


And then this:


Facts facts facts facts facts.

Facts facts facts facts facts facts facts,

Facts facts facts facts facts.


My haiku proficiency is inconsistent.


I thought my friend was, in fact, highly proficient, and she inspired me to write my own haiku in appreciation of hers. I labored with the words, and wrote this:


Factual haikus

from my friend hold truth

And banish fake news.


Then another friend gently corrected my haiku’s second line, by writing, “I think you mean ‘from my friend hold the real truth,’ right?”


That’s two instances of inspiration in one week!  But not only does my creativity remain diminished, but I have lost my ability to count to seven.  That’s haiku deficiency. 


(After extensive research, I discovered that the plural of haiku is haiku.  One haiku, two haiku, red haiku, blue haiku.)


From these experiences I conclude that my brain is beyond fried.  Creativity jumped out the window a while ago, and is lying on the pavement. It’s not clear if it is ever going to come crawling back.   


I have much to rejoice about, but angst still tinges everything.  Here in Pennsylvania, democracy seems more threatened than ever, and most citizens have turned their attention elsewhere.  Who can blame them?  We are all exhausted, which is, for some political operatives, the desired outcome.  There are complete nuts who have been elected to Congress, and their party supports them wholeheartedly.   I see little progress on racial justice.  I recently found out that the Senate Russell Building is named after a white supremacist.  My grief over my mother’s death is not overwhelming, but always there.


But I did get the car washed.  I changed the sheets.  I called the legislators.  And I made the orange-cranberry-nut bread, finding solace in chopping the cranberries and the nuts.

Let’s all chop the nuts.  Therein lies healing.

There is also some solace to be found in Peach Schnapps.

The recipe:

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread A.k.a. Holiday Cranberry Bread From the Pillsbury Cookbook we received as a wedding present. 1 cup sugar 1 Tablespoon grated orange peel ¾ cup water ⅓ cup orange juice 2 Tablespoons oil 1 egg 2 cups all purpose flour 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon baking soda 1 cup halved fresh or frozen whole cranberries 1 cup chopped nuts Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare the cranberries, orange zest, and nuts. Grease 9x5-inch loaf pan (or 3 smaller loaf pans, muffin pan for 16 muffins). In large bowl, blend sugar, orange peel, water, orange juice, oil, and egg; mix well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, stirring just until moistened. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake at 350 F for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Bake for less time for smaller loaf pans or muffins.) Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator. Makes 1 (16-slice) loaf OR 3 mini loaves OR 16 muffins.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Favorite Books Read in 2020


In 2020 I finished 37 books, of which 

5 children/YA books, 

5 shorter works, 

4 memoirs,

2 biographies (including Santa Claus: A Biography)

1 poetry volume,

0 plays, and 

2 books of the Bible.  

20 fiction, 17 nonfiction.

The best fiction I read in 2020

The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead. © 2019.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.  First published 1860-1861.  

The best non-fiction I read in 2020

The Warmth of Other Suns:  The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.  © 2010.  

Mistakes were made (but not by me): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts , by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson , © 2007, 2015.  I can’t say that the prose is as elegant as Wilkerson’s, but I keep coming back to the ideas presented in this book.  

These Truths:  A History of the United States, by Jill Lepore. © 2018.  Strictly speaking, I read this during 2018, 2019 and 2020.  

In the OMG category

Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum Book 26), by Janet Evanovich.  © 2019.

A light read for book club.  Quite amusing, with some really outlandish scenes.

Books I re-read in 2020

Ruth, the Bible.  Probably written in the 5th Century BCE.

I re-read this to prepare in a hurry to co-lead our church women’s retreat, when our scheduled leader was not able to attend due to illness.

The Gospel of Matthew, the Bible.  Written ~85 CE.

A speed reading to try to see real quick what Jesus would do. 

Least Favorite

Triggered:  How the left thrives on hate and wants to silence us, by Donald Trump Jr. , © 2019. 

Usually if I don’t like a book, I quit reading it.  But this book was supposed to help me not stay in “my bubble” so I valiantly finished it, taking one for the team.