FallIt’s October 22nd and 60 degrees outside with a little wind. I normally run hot, but today I’ve got the shivers. Probably because the sky is gray, and it reminds me of days to come when hats and gloves and winter coats will become a necessity. It’s a soup day, to be sure. A day for my cat to cuddle on my lap and for me to keep a blanket nearby. Hard to believe, but last Saturday it was almost 100 degrees. That’s Nebraska for you.

But it’s still the Autumn season, even though it appears to be nearing its end. From my window, I can see a wall of golden cornstalks, shaking in the wind. Soon, the roar of a combine will cut the wall down and, once again, I’ll see across the field as it lays cold and barren. The little Ash tree just beside the patio has merely a handful of leaves clinging to the spindly branches. They’ll lose their fight and drop to the still-green grass, joining the hundreds of others already there.

The weather changes on a dime here in the Cornhusker state, so we could very well be bringing back out our shorts and tank tops yet again before real winter erases the fall. But this day is for purring cats, an extra cup of coffee, and writing.

For me, autumn and winter mean writing, and that puts a smile on my face. I give myself permission to cozy up with my laptop and tap out scenes and dialogue and fuss over sentence structure. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll squeak out some decent chapters to finally take to my writing groups. It’s been a while.

Even though the land is about to be gleaned of its harvest, the trees bare of their leaves, and the grass a dull shade of brown—in terms of writing, for me, it’s spring. Ideas are growing and the time is upon me to plant the stories I’ve been tinkering with in my mind. Wish me luck. It’s not easy typing with cats laying on my keyboard, but they sure do stare at the computer screen with great interest. I’ll take their loud purring as encouragement and type on.Photo on 10-22-15 at 2.41 PM #2


Today I’m thankful for people who read. Thank God for each and every one of you. For a writer, the sun rises and sets on readers, but for the world, well… you’ve spent time with people who don’t have time to read. You know.

I guess reading verses watching tv or listening to radio is like the difference between fast food and a home-cooked meal, or between watching a video about a topic versus attending a class, buying tomatoes at the store or picking your own from the garden. Time and effort and a desire to make life happen, instead of letting life happen to you, makes the difference.

Is it obvious? Can you put them side by side and tell the difference like a taste test between Pepsi and Coke? I’m not sure. Well, wait… yes I am. The gardener has dirt beneath their nails and a smile of pride on their face. The cook beams when company tastes the food and rewards him or her with compliments. The person who attends the class doesn’t only come away with knowledge but an experience, friends, and memories. There is a discernible difference if you’re looking for it.

If you’re looking for it is the key. Do you see the pinks and golds in the sunset? Are you looking for the slow closing of a cat’s eyes when he relaxes and gives you his full trust? Do you glory in the beauty of dew on the grass, beading up and sparkling in the morning light? Is your heart warmed by the wrinkles around the eyes of a person who smiles at you?

Or do you just see the day end, the cat sleep, the wet grass, and the old woman in the grocery store giving you a false-toothed grin?

Choose how you see the world today. Look deeper. Plant your own garden of sights and sounds in your mind and reap the beauty it will grow.


Broad Smiles

Food is a common connection we all have. Different races, religions, ethnicities, ages, genders, eras, countries… across the board—everyone eats. Most of us remember some kind of food with fond memories.

If you begin a discussion about food, people will almost always weigh in with some comment or story. The story may be about something their mother made them eat, even though they hated it. I’ve heard stories about things people ate as children that made them sick. They’ll often say, “To this day, I can’t eat that!” (Mine is spice cake with cream cheese frosting.) More often, people have fond memories of food they ate as children. They may very well still consider it their special comfort food.

Last week I visited with an older woman from my church. We were talking about pie—a food topic that often makes people’s eyes glaze over Pre-cookedMulberryPie 250x205because, seriously—who doesn’t like pie. Mulberry pie came up and it led us both back down our individual memory lanes.

Her memory was about climbing up a fruit tree and eating right from the branches. She talked about her daughter riding her horse under a mulberry tree, then sitting there eating the berries. My memory was of lying on top the roof of our chicken house, a large mulberry tree’s boughs hanging low. I’d pluck the fruit, eating until I had my fill and my fingers were purple. We both had such broad smiles. Smiles I’ve seen on many faces when food memories become the topic of discussion.

So, I thought I’d share some of my food memories. Little things I find myself thinking about and smiling. I’m sure it will trigger food memories of your own. We all have them, because no matter how different we are, we all have to eat.

  • My mother made me many different things because she knew I loved them. I love them to this day. Boston Crème Pie. Cream Puffs filled with fluffy whipped cream. Fresh strawberries with real thick cream Mom bought from a woman who milked cows. Mulberry pie (we’d lay a sheet under a mulberry tree and shake the branches). Pea pods boiled in butter, then I’d pull the peas out between my teeth. Sandwiches for school lunch—she would use a cookie cutter to cut out the center because I didn’t like the crust—the lion shape was my favorite. And the most fun memory is of her pouring a little rubbing alcohol in a spoon rest, lighting it, then roasting a marshmallow over the flame. It tasted wonderful in the middle of winter.
  • Beyond those fun memories, I remember weird food, like those after-school hunger pangs, when I  put two slices of cheese in a bowl and microwaved it until it melted, then spooning it up while I watched TV and enjoyed being home for the day.
  • Fried chicken on Sunday when the whole family came home.
  • Calico beans and homemade rolls—Mom’s standard church potluck dish.
  • Kolaches fresh from the oven on Saturday morning.
  • Poppy seed cake at Czech funeral dinners.

Now. What are your memories? Maybe there was a place your family went to eat on a special night, or something a relative made that you looked forward to. I’d love to know what your food memories are. They always make great topics for conversation.