Know Yer Terms!

Y’all, I’m such a doofus…

I’m taking an online novel writing course offered by Jerry B. Jenkins. The video lessons are benefiting me, and so is the online community of fellow students. We can toss a question out there, or a sample paragraph, and get helpful feedback and encouragement from classmates.

So, a discussion arose about some writing tool I’m not familiar with. I didn’t really pay attention, but couldn’t help noticing a comment from an experienced user… something about a “help” icon in the form of a man wearing a “phrenology helmet.”

Hmmm. I knew “phrenology” had something to do with medicine… relating to the kidneys… right?

But… phrenology helmet?

Kidneys got helmets??

Image credit: InkwellHelmets.com

I was about to ask that question in the comments, but decided to Google “phrenology helmet” first…

Good thing I did, since this bad boy is what I found:

Yeah, phrenology has to do with the location of the various brain functions. In the 19th century, it was thought that you could tell how strong a particular faculty was based on the shape of the person’s skull over the part of the brain that held that faculty.

I’ve learned my lesson: Don’t jump into a discussion based on your own half-baked recollection.

My advice? Don’t be a doofus. Look it up.

Know yer terms!

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Mother of Pearl, by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Image credit: Amazon.com

Barrie Graeber is called out of a high school faculty meeting and given the horrible news: her teenage daughter, Pearl, has been killed in a one-car accident.

For a parent, it cannot get any worse than that, right?

Wrong.

It is worse.

Reeling from the bits and pieces she learns, Barrie pursues justice.

“Drop it,” everyone says. “It won’t make any difference now. And think of Pearl’s reputation.”

But Barrie determines she will not give up until she uncovers every secret surrounding that night.

This Great Weekend Read is a tragic, poignant, disturbing, and supremely important story. Kellie Coates Gilbert nails it.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Mom’s Bowl

Looking for something to toss a salad in, I pulled the middle Corningware mixing bowl from a set in the cabinet. The set belonged to my mother.

Later, I washed the bowl and turned it up in the dish rack.

The sadness hits at the oddest moments and for the most unexpected reasons. This time, it was seeing the piece of masking tape bearing Mom’s name, written years ago when she still cooked and took things to potlucks, and her handwriting was firm and just a little bit jaunty.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Faux-tatoes and Other Impostors

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a food blogger. But this time I can’t keep my opinions to myself.

In our quest for the ideal, healthy diet, there’s a lot of experimenting going on in our kitchen. Of particular concern is this idea of cutting back on grains and other carbohydrate-dense foods.

Sadly, the main non-grain carb to be shunned is the always-delicious white potato. The kind that is so wonderful baked or mashed, with plenty of butter and sour cream.

Seriously, the milk just drains right down into the bottom of the bowl.


I’m sure you’ve heard of substituting mashed cooked cauliflower for mashed potatoes. You can, in fact, cook cauliflower florets until tender and mash them with butter and milk. The resulting gloop is similar in color to mashed potatoes.

The resemblance ends there.

Cauliflower is a fibrous, high-water-content vegetable that smells like cabbage.

Mashed cauliflower is a fibrous, watery gloop that smells like cabbage.

In other words, when mashed, cauliflower does not magically transform into potatoes’ identical twin. Even with pepper and a pat of butter on top.

Real cheese,
fake crust

Another cauliflower idea was to make grain-free pizza crust out of it. Ohh-kay… I found a recipe online and made a small trial crust, adding eggs, spices, and two kinds of cheese to the main ingredient. You bake the crust first on parchment paper, then top as usual and bake the whole pizza.

Result? A functional-but-soft crust that smelled like cabbage. It didn’t resemble bread so much as it did a frittata.

As near as I can figure, the key to these substitutions is to adjust your expectations. As it happens, I like cauliflower, so the mashed stuff doesn’t have to be potato-y for me to like it. I’d probably skip the gravy, though. As for the pizza, I also like frittatas, even if they smell like cabbage, so a thin frittata topped with sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni suits me just fine.

It just doesn’t fool me.

On a completely unrelated note….. does anyone know how to get rid of the smell of cabbage in the kitchen?

Bon appétit!

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Dancing Shoes, by Lynne Gentry

Now that Leona Harper is no longer “The Pastor’s Wife,” just who is she?

The third in Lynne Gentry‘s “Mt. Hope Southern Adventures” series, this story follows recently-widowed Leona as she rises from the ashes of grief, so to speak, and begins to find her own identity.

Moving out of the parsonage, now occupied by her son and daughter-in-law, is only a first small step. Where will Leona’s dancing shoes take her? Will they guide her steps to a happy future?

Gentry’s characters sparkle. Each one could walk right off the page, sit down in your kitchen, and have coffee with you.

I stayed up late reading this book, as I did the first two in the series. I think you’ll also enjoy this Great Weekend Read.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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Totality: Unlikely Events

As I told you Monday, Brent and I drove to Missouri to see the solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse is an unlikely event requiring three objects moving through space to be lined up just so. This is why we don’t see them very often.

But it was a different series of unlikely events that made the experience truly memorable.

Clouds threatened in Sedalia, where we were staying, so everyone scrambled to figure out where to watch from. Brent and I set out east along MO Hwy 50, where the sky was clearer, and finally decided to park in Tipton, Missouri. Tipton, at one time home to a billiard-ball factory, is best known now for its water tower…

Surely Tipton was the most random possible place, but several other out-of-state cars parked in the same lot, at the edge of a golf course. We introduced ourselves around. At least two others were from Texas. One man works in Ft. Worth just blocks from Brent’s office. Another had driven from Austin with his son and a buddy. They would have to leave right after totality passed, because the boys had to start school the next morning.

Everyone tried to get photos of the partially-eclipsed sun. Try as I might, all mine looked like I’d turned on a floodlight and photographed it through a translucent shower curtain. Only the little reflection below the sun shows the crescent shape…

At last the sunlight became noticeably more dim. The moment the moon completely blocked the sun was memorable; the sight lovely and amazing.

 

Olaf, the man from Austin, got a wonderful photo of the corona.

Photo courtesy of Olaf Roepke, Austin, TX

As everyone congratulated Olaf, he offered to share the photo, and took time to get people’s contact information.

I’m so very glad we got to make this “bucket-list” trip and see the celestial choreography that is a total solar eclipse.

But you know… I’d seen photos before, and had some idea what to expect. What really made the eclipse memorable was experiencing it with a group of strangers, a most unlikely ad hoc “family” that formed in a most unlikely place.

Thank you, Olaf, for your kindness and generosity.

And thanks, everyone, for reading!
Jan

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Eclipsed by My Own Words

Today I’m in my mother’s hometown, which happens to be right in the path of total solar eclipse. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be here, but I’m definitely playing hooky from writing.

I’ll give you a report when I return. But for today, rather than abandon you, I thought I’d re-run an old favorite post. While this one first appeared nearly 3 1/2 years ago (March 26, 2014), it speaks to me all over again about the state our world is in.

Present-Tense Only

The state of our hurting world often troubles me. We’ve got crime, war, hunger. People who have been wounded turn and wound others. It can all get kind of depressing. How to keep from growing cynical?

It’s encouraging to remember the end of the story as given in the New Testament book of Revelation. The part where the Lord Jesus sweeps in to set up his heavenly kingdom for everyone who trusts him. In the process he permanently banishes all evil, suffering, and death. I used to tell myself, “Just wait… in the end God will win.”

“…will win.”

But I don’t put it that way any more. Recently it’s dawned on me that, while this bit of cheerleading was on the right track, it fell far short of the truth.

The weak link is that future tense. I had the idea that God would eventually, at some unknown time in the future, somehow finally manage to win.

Pffffffft. We’re not watching a hotly contested football game here, folks.

one letterThe truth is, the sovereign God who transcends time can see all of it right now. Just like I can see an entire page of a book at once. But let’s say I was two-dimensional, a letter printed in one of the words on that page. I could only see the part of the page immediately touching me. I would have no idea what word I was a part of, let alone what the next sentence said. Similarly, in our three-dimensional world we are limited within time–we can’t really see what’s next.

For God, in a sense there is no past, present or future. The future tense is irrelevant to him because he is already there. Not only can he see the whole story, he wrote it.

one word

From my perspective, God will win.

But from his perspective, it would be more accurate to say “God wins.

That present-tense has sort of been following me around for the last couple of weeks. When someone mentions a promise from God, I find myself not “wishing” or “hoping” He will fulfill his promise, but expecting him to. Somehow my faith has inched upward, resulting in a calm confidence that if God said it, it’s a done deal.

God wins.

As certain as if I had already seen it happen.

Thanks for reading,
Jan

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