Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vegetable Gardens

 image Our garden is kaput. I’m always a little happy about that. I love the theory of farming but not the practice. Hoeing, picking peas and butterbeans, pulling corn and gathering squash and okra are all exhausting. Especially this year with Carl’s back pain flaring up and R.J. with a hurt wrist. Still there is something extremely satisfying about planting seeds in the ground and watching them grow. And then putting up that harvest! So I’m also a little sad when our garden plays out.

When my mother was growing up, gardening was a necessity. Her family only purchased things like flour, sugar and coffee. The rest of their food came from the farm. And, of course, everything had to be done by hand. Richer farmers may have had gas-operated tractors in the 1920s and 1930s but my grandfathers still plowed with mules. At least they had mules! They mainly grew cotton for their cash crop and most of the family picked it when it was ready. Their vegetable garden consisted of rows of peas, butterbeans, squash and okra. They also grew turnips and collards in the early spring and early fall. My mother tells of picking velvet beans that stung her hands. I suppose it was similar to cutting okra. My hands sting as if covered with fire ants. Doesn’t bother Carl to cut the okra so I usually leave that to him.

Speaking of Carl, his headaches are continuing. It’s going to be another long night for him tonight. Thanks for remembering him in your prayers!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Searching for Perfection

Ten p.m.—the latest I’ve ever written a post for my blog on the day it was due. I know the world won’t come to an end if this doesn’t get published today. Perhaps no one would even notice—no one that is but me and God. Since January I have been posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays—sometimes a day early. I don’t remember being a day late; but, you know the drill by now, my brain is like . . . . citronella, repelling information instead of those pesky mosquitoes. Hey, now that I think of it, a lot of information is as pesky as mosquitoes. But where was I? The clock is ticking and I’ve got to get this written. I have made a commitment and I will always try to honor it.
I honestly don’t believe I’m a perfectionist. It is true that I would like my house clean, my meals gourmet, my appearance flawless. But I don’t obsess if those things don’t happen. But there have been times when I don’t do certain things because I’ve felt I wasn’t good enough. For instance, instead of making a joyful noise to the Lord, just miming the words. Instead of answering a question in class, keeping quiet for fear I was wrong. Instead of making a dish for potluck, purchasing chicken from the deli. Lots of things.
An attractive, friendly, well-spoken young lady told me she was self-conscious when she spoke because the sides of her mouth didn’t move in sync. Another person has told me he didn’t like to smile because one eyelid drooped. Yet sometimes it’s our very “faults” that endear us to others. What we see as a blemish, someone else may see as beauty. Kind of like those beauty marks that were once so popular young girls drew them on. Do we really think a brown mole is attractive?? Yet that blemish highlighted some other beautiful feature.
Just suppose we were perfect, wouldn’t we then feel less of a need for God? Our “blemishes” are not blemishes to God. Our imperfections serve to “highlight” something of great beauty—such as God’s radiance shining through us. Why should we feel self conscious because we are not perfect? God made us just the way we are! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Brain Is Like a . . . .

image  I don’t know how some people do it. Keep up with all their passwords, that is. I just joined a writing group two days ago. I tried going back a few minutes ago and they asked for the obligatory user name and password. I can’t remember it. I’ve tried every combination I can think of and I can’t log on to their website. I know, I know—I can send them a message saying I forgot my password. But come on now—it’s only been a couple of days. Okay, wait for it, wait for it—my brain is like a garbage disposal, chewing up information that goes in and spitting out shredded gunk. (How’s that one, Leigh?)
I have made files in my mail program for information like this. One of the files is entitled “Info.” The other, “Important Info.” I don’t really know how I decide what info goes in what file. I need to clean out both files. I just don’t know when I’ll get to it. I’m already nervous about the writer’s conference I’ve signed up for. I have to retype the entire manuscript and I know me. I’ll have to rewrite everything at least half a dozen times. So I’m a little concerned that I may not get it done.
And again, I know, I know—you have to turn off your inner editor, at least until you get the manuscript typed up. Then if I have time, I can go back and revise. But it’s difficult for me. I know I’ll think—I have to write this now or I’ll forget! Remember—my brain is like a garbage disposal . . . .
I really didn’t expect to have this much anxiety. Once I get the manuscript typed I’m sure I’ll feel better. I feel like Indiana Jones when he stepped out into thin air. But the thin air was only an illusion. And when I feel this anxiety, thinking I’m all alone, that, too, is only an illusion.
The American Christian Fiction Writers’ website posted an interview with Loree Lough. She ended the interview with a beautiful prayer for writers. Your can read it here. Just reading it again has made me feel better!
Blessings to all!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Room, A Maid, A Cook, A Gardener, A Secretary, A . . . . .

image Virginia Woolf famously said a woman must have “a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” I’m blessed to have my own little study, a place I can go to think, plan and write. Virginia Woolf also said that a woman writer needs money. True. I would have more time to write if I had a maid, a cook and a gardener. But I just have to prioritize. Jesus told Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)
The problem is deciding “what is better.” John Steinbeck said, “The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.” I haven’t quite gotten a grasp on the illusion that what I’m doing is “the most important thing in the world.” Many things intrude upon my time. Some things I have put in their place. For example, I’ve never been one to allow dirty dishes to pile up in my sink. (Flylady would have been proud of me.) Dishes had to be washed, dried and put away. Gradually, Carl and I started just washing the dishes and letting them air dry. Still not bad. But now I’m satisfied if I can cram all the dirty dishes in the sink. I’m okay with it as long as I don’t have them piled up on my counter. It’s a good thing I have an extra large sink. I used to mop my floors once a week. Let’s just say that’s off the agenda. Hence my remark on Facebook: Bad news--dishwasher door blew open while it was washing dishes and flooded the kitchen floor. Good news--the kitchen floor is now clean. Luckily Ray got me a Roomba a few years ago. I just have to get it out and turn it on to have my floors vacuumed. Great invention! But so many other things tug at my time. And some are top priority—such as spending time with my family. Somehow, though, I need to find more time.
The reason I’m agonizing over prioritizing is because I am thinking about going to a writer’s conference in September. I would love to have a polished manuscript in hand. My manuscripts are not diamonds in the rough. Instead, they are still in the carbon stage. I have about two months to whip something into shape. If I decide to go. Hmmm. . . . I wonder if Carl would be okay with eating TV dinners for the next two months?