“There is always something to glean from Molly's life stories--hidden gems tucked away deep inside. But as a shallow person, I'm usually just racked with laughter, which results in milk shooting out my nose when I eat breakfast cereal in front of the computer.”
Barbara E. Brink, author of “Entangled.” 

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NIGHTLY

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My husband infuriates me. Every single night, he gets into bed, closes his eyes, and BOOM. He is asleep. No fuss. No muss. Not a toss, not a turn. Just out like a light. I, on the other hand, take at least an hour to drop off.

Not only that, because if it were just the odd hour, during which I could imagine myself in a romantic movie starring someone ruggedly male, or walking on a beach collecting blue beach glass, or standing on the terrace of my five million dollar New York City co-op, I would not be so furious with the slumbering accordionist beside me.

It is so much worse. More often than not, I can’t get to sleep at all. My eyes close, only to open again to look at my watch. Yup. Another wakeful hour has passed.

I don’t hate this all the time, because I managed to utilize many of those wakeful hours completing my first novel, and now that I am approaching the end of revisions for novel number two, I also have logged in many wide awake hours writing.

Here’s the thing, though. Countless evenings go something like this: We sit in the TV room, watching a fascinating documentary about fish gills. The accordionist loves the science. I, bored out of my skull, start to drift off. I jolt myself awake at the mention of spawning habits, sit up a little straighter, and try to concentrate on the underwater closeups of salmon cavorting upstream. Not five minutes later, my head drops to my chest. I begin to dream about tuna salad sandwiches (I hate salmon, btw).

My entire body is relaxed. I open one eye. Something clicks in my brain. Hurry upstairs, it says. Pop right into bed. You are already asleep-just continue up there!

I stumble up.  As fast as possible, I strip off my clothes and throw on a tee shirt. I rip off the covers and drop into bed.

Five minutes later, every single nerve in my body is on high alert. My eyes snap open. I tense up.

Two hours later, when my husband tiptoes in, undresses in the dark so not to disturb my slumber and creeps under the covers, I poke him in the arm and say “Thanks, but I am wide awake.”

He doesn’t answer. Because he is already asleep.

 

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OLD NEWS

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I used to look at the news for inspiration for this blog. Things to write about. The news was full of the odd, the quirky, the human interest stories. I wrote one time about a couple somewhere who didn’t have AC. They sat in their house,  and they were very, very still. All summer long. There were those “believe it or not” items: the huge, concrete horseshoe crab in Ohio–the largest in the world–and we visited it. To say it was not a huge highlight of my life is not only a pun, but an understatement.

There was a time when people got in the newspaper for doing unusual things. The woman who married the Eiffel Tower. The backyard gardener whose zucchini weighed fifteen pounds. I remember marveling at the story about the identical twins who still dressed exactly alike and had never spent even one night apart, and they were both 95. Spinsters. But I bet they had some rip-roaring Canasta tournaments at their house. Dear Abby. Such sage advice. I think her daughter or granddaughter still writes her column, but where would one find it (rhetorical question)?  There used to be a “ladies section” in the paper, where they featured recipes for things that always included Cream of Something soup.

Today’s news is nothing like it was in the old days. War, horror, terrorism. The election. And all of that seems upbeat when compared to Donald Trump. I want to move to Mayberry, and invite Barney Fife and Thelma Lou over for dinner, and then we can watch The Olympics together. Here is what we’ll have:

TUNA SUPREME

 

  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 can tuna, drained and flaked
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimento
  • Chopped parsley
  • 4 slices toast

In saucepan, cook celery and onions in margarine until tender. Blend in soup. Gradually stir in milk. Add tuna and pimento. Heat; stir now and then. Garnish with parsley and serve over toast.

Along with this, I would serve Barney and Thelma Lou some nice molded lime Jell-O with fruit cocktail in it. Arranged on top of a lettuce leaf, on my Haviland salad plates. Maybe a dollop of Hellman’s mayonnaise on top–you know, special occasion. I would also garnish each serving of the tuna with half of a hard boiled egg, for an added touch of color.  Recommended vegetable side? Canned peas. For dessert? Either Table Talk Apple Pie a la mode, or maybe Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies.

You will never find any of this in the New York Times or on CNN.

YOU ARE WELCOME.

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CORN

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The end of the summer, when the cicadas (not those 17 year awful ones, thank God) hum in the trees,  the humidity just wrings one OUT, and it’s almost back-to-school time, dinner is at its best. Farm to table season!, At our house, that means corn on the cob.

It means corn on the cob to ME. Because for some very odd reason, nobody else in my entire family is as enthusiastic about corn as I am. As a matter of fact, I am not sure that anybody I know is as enthusiastic about corn as I am. I could eat six ears easily in one sitting. The rest of the world’s populace seems to think that one ear is plenty.

Is it because corn on the cob is messy? Is it because it lodges in the teeth? Is it too much fiber for the average intestinal tract? Maybe people who don’t love corn cook it to death. I bring water to a boil, add some ears, and set the timer for FIVE MINUTES. No more, no less. Cover it row by row with butter and salt. Perfection.

Roasted corn is good. I hear steamed corn is good. But I just stick to the tried and true.

Add a few sliced tomatoes, maybe some cottage cheese sprinkled with fresh chopped dill, and you are good to go.

Maybe people who don’t love corn get it at the grocery store, where it has probably sat in sacks in the stockroom for too long. Corn has to be FRESH. Go to a farm stand. Or better yet, pick it yourself. I remember when my mother used to go to a place and do this. Or maybe they went out and picked it right then for her. Or perhaps I am  just imagining this. The point is, corn has to be eaten the same day it’s picked.

I have learned one thing, however. When eating corn, wear an old shirt or an apron, because the butter is bound to run down your chin onto your front.

Bon appetit!

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MAY I HELP YOU?

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I worked in retail once. I hated it. Making change was a challenge, and my customer service skills ran sort of thin by the end of the day. My feet ached. And behind the scenes in the stockroom, chaos reigned–it was my job to sort socks into matching pairs after customers had ripped the packages apart. My career was dismal.

I love writing, and you would think that since I have book revisions due back at my publisher by the end of September, that would be enough, wouldn’t it? OF COURSE NOT.

It makes total sense to me, that in the midst of “showing, not telling,” (you can Google that), “killing my darlings” (ditto), and making sure that my participles don’t dangle, I should choose this exact time to open my own INTERNET STORE. You heard that right. I have decided to gather together some of my most popular drawings (according to my Facebook friends, who are completely reliable) and offer them up to the public in the form of note cards, refrigerator magnets, baby bibs, wall clocks, and hoodies. Well, actually, not the hoodies. I will have to add them later.

My shop, http://www.cafepress.com/NotExactlyPicasso is up and running. You can look on the right column of this page for a little rendering of Veggies and Herbs, and if you click on that, or on the link I just put in this very sentence, you will be instantly transported to my little store! Just think of the possibilities! Birthday gifts! Hostess gifts! Holiday gifts! Just plain gift gifts! Or, you can just buy yourself something!

I am not a great setter up of web pages, so my little store is plain and simple. No frills. But as time goes on, I will get better at doing this stuff. As soon as my novel is safely in the hands of my editor. Then I might get fancy. In the meantime, I will change up the offerings periodically, and there will be seasonal merchandise as well. In case you are worried about my skills in packing and shipping, you needn’t worry–all that is done by the experts. I will not be stuck in my basement, entangled in bubble wrap and packing tape, calling faintly for help.

I hope you will visit the shop, as I hope to earn a few bucks for doing my own holiday shopping. And so far, my very best customer has been myself.

Who wouldn’t want a set of cat notecards? Or a nice teacup wall clock?

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LET’S TAKE OUR MINDS OFF THINGS!

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The news is awful. The election sucks. But there is good news: It’s summer reading season!

I therefore would like to share another book list of novels that I have really loved, and that you might want to think about reading.

WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES by Frances Whiting. A story about friendship and betrayal that will knock your socks off.

ALICE IN BED by Judith Hooper. A brilliant debut novel about Alice James, Henry James’ sister, who was bedridden, and nobody knew exactly why.

SWEETBITTER by Stephanie Danler. This one was completely hopeless, quite depressing to me, but so well written that I was glued until the end.

THEY MAY NOT MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO by Cathleen Schine. Such wisdom. Family, aging, love when it happens to “old” people. It made me cheer.

MODERN LOVERS by Emma Straub. Rock and roll and the aftermath. Way after. Another story of family, love, and the lingering effects of youth. Great summer reading.

A WILD RIDE UP THE CUPBOARDS by Ann Bauer. What happens to a family with a child who suddenly turns inward? A study of a family in crisis. This reads like a memoir, but it is fiction. Riveting.

MIDDLE AGE: A ROMANCE by Joyce Carol Oates. Oates certainly writes about strange people and she examines one man from ALL angles.  So weird. But she does it so well.

And, of course, as I revise my new novel yet again, I go on a reading hiatus. In the meantime, I hope that any of you who have not read my debut novel, KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE, will do that. It’s a good one!

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