Clothing vs word editing: How brave are you?

"You really want me to get rid of most of these?

“You really want me to get rid of most of these?”

"Some of those are brand new!"

“Some of those are brand new!”

It looks like we had a break-in at our house, doesn’t it?

We didn’t.

I snapped these photos after my hired image consultant put my entire wardrobe through an official “closet audit.”

A few weeks ago I wrote a business article about a local personal image consultant, Dulcet Style.

Intrigued with the image make-over process, I decided to give it a try and signed on for colors, style and silhouette analysis. The closet audit was the next piece of that process once we’d established my basic fashion roots according to how I prefer to dress, what my body shape and style is, and what colors appear to work best with my skin and hair coloration.

Color-wise, I am an autumn. Didn’t surprise me a bit. That is how I saw things for me.

The good news is that, instinctively, I’ve been making pretty good choices about me, myself and I for a long time. Mostly.

I had an article to write the afternoon she came, so I gave her free range in my bedroom to go through everything.

I could have stood by and watched her work, but with a deadline approaching, I decided it was more efficient if she did what she does, and I did what I needed to do. We agreed to meet up after she’d finished her sorting and analysis.

The psychology of the responses to all of this from friends and family have been as interesting a study as was the whole process itself. Many were defensive on my behalf over some of the things suggested to me by this consultant. They needn’t have been; this lady doesn’t make a living by insulting people, and she and I had a good time together throughout this process.

When you go through such a process you are willing to become vulnerable. As a writer I face that every time I submit a story or an article, and by now it doesn’t scare me nearly to the degree it did in the beginning.

The agreement stood between us, however. We’d do  the closet audit, but I would have final say on what did—or did not—get chucked into the donation bins. As it should be. These are my personal clothes, after all, and I am the one who would pay for their replacements.

I left her in my bedroom and I returned to my computer to finish the article.

Two and a half hours later you see in these pictures what I saw when I returned to my bedroom. My closet was substantially barer than a couple hours earlier. While she explained to me which pile was for this reason, or that reason, and why she made her decisions and choices, I listened.

There was probably 20% of my original wardrobe left hanging in there, and I did like the things she decided should stay, but it took my breath away for a moment. And I admit—as I glanced through some of the piles I noted things that I knew I would not be leaving in said “discard” piles, but would be hanging back up in my closet.

"Where have all my clothes gone?!"

“Where have all my clothes gone?!”

My article that was due could only be 800 words. I’d talked to three sources for my information before writing. 800 words isn’t much time. When I’d finished my initial draft, I had nearly 1300 words. No way could I turn that many words in, so I did my own word-wardrobe culling process.

I read and re-read, cut and pasted, moved this here, that there, took things out completely and put them into a CUTS zone at the end of the document—in case I changed my mind later—and trimmed the article down to under 800 words.

When I had it sitting on the page like I thought it should be, I handed my husband a red pen and a print out and asked him to give it a read through, marking anything that seemed out of whack.

An editor—like an image consultant—is a big help in seeing what might be wrong right before our eyes, but that we cannot see because our eyes were part of the creation process.

People told me I was brave to let a virtual stranger go through all my clothes. They said they’d never do that, but what I took away from the wardrobe revision was a sense of relief, and I honestly hadn’t expected it to feel as cleansing as it does. The consultant told me I would feel that way when it was done, and she was right.

I liked the idea of a cleaner, more efficient closet. I liked the idea that the jacket I hadn’t worn in 10 years was going to be out of my way. And that sweater I bought 5 years ago?–and now realize was a spontaneous purchase for some reason I cannot even recall, well . . . life is going to go on just fine once it goes to Goodwill.

It was so okay to be vulnerable that day.

That closet process is exactly like a writer’s words in their early drafts. That time comes that we have to send some of our words on their way. It’s because there’s no room for them in a piece, or they provide a redundancy that makes a piece sluggish, or they aren’t the right fit for what we are trying to accomplish.

At first it feels like we’ve wasted our effort to write them, but we’ve had the time with them; the writing practice. They did serve their purpose.

I’d typed in an additional 600 nicely written words for my business article, arranging my interview resources’ quotes ever so neatly about the article. But on two and three reads through it after the consultant departed, and my eyes having been away from them for a while, it didn’t take long to see what had to go.

I cut, rearranged and finished the piece and sent it on its way.

The next day I took a fresh look at all those piles and stacks you see in these pictures. At the end of my session my husband and I lugged 63 pieces of clothing to Goodwill and a ton of old belts, long ago too small, too worn, too outdated. I figured it was about a 60/40 split. Sixty-three pieces went out, and that last 40 she thought I should let go of, stayed.

Welcome to the world of editing. This is how it has to be with your words. If we open our minds and our ears, we know instinctively that we really don’t want to keep every single one.

It’s a good thing to learn that we can let go. We are so much better off for it.

Words, or clothing--it's all about compromise. Meet my new closet today!

Words, or clothing–it’s all about compromise. Meet my new closet today!

“Sure sign of spiritual growth: You want more freedom—and less stuff”  – Lisa Villa Prosen 

The time has come the Walrus said . . . to speak of many things . . .

You're showing to the rest of the world, whether you know it or not.

You’re showing to the rest of the world, whether you know it or not.

Writing, I think, is not apart from living.

Writing is a kind of double living. 

The writer experiences everything twice.

Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.    – Catherine Drinker Bowen

The 2014 Life Journaling Class I began in early January has concluded–and damn–it felt good to participate.

I achieved my goal: To return to that deep state of unrestrained, concentrated paper-talk that I’d been missing.

All of the different prompts that session leader Susannah Conway offered to us 5 days out of every 7 fascinated me, even though I did not do them all, nor did I do them in order. The choice was always ours, as it should be.

Many were incredibly imaginative, and some downright dangerous and way too exposing, but staying parked in the SAFE ZONE is no place for serious writing.

I must admit to this one here and now: as it’s been one of the coldest, snowiest and toughest winters we’ve had in Iowa in several years, I could not get enthused about trying the one exercise of laying buck naked, spread-eagled across my bed, contemplating the various parts of my body and then writing about said personal revelations. It’s hard to think straight when your nibs are freezing and begging for a blanket.

Please don’t be offended, Susannah. I did understand the purpose of that one, but dang, woman–it was simply too cold for compliance! (Maybe next summer when the cat is busy watching birds out the window and the hubby has gone out for a solo Harley ride or something . . . we’ll see–)

She offered us one final list of prompts to carry forward as we move away from the group, and there are both gut-wrenching, difficult suggestions as well as light-hearted, fun directions to go. I am grateful for such a list.

It contains 50 solid, honest questions and prompts, and they offer vast amounts of fodder not only for personal journaling work, but for creative essays and stories–fiction and non-fiction alike as far as I’m concerned.

As I read through them a lot of thoughts began coagulating for me:

Have a conversation with your 90-year old self.

Write a letter of appreciation to someone who annoys you. (Oh, hell no! . . . but a good writing exercise if ever there was one . . .)

What turns me on? (Is this something you want your kids to read after you’re co-habitating with the earthworms? I wonder how many people would have the guts to write this down in a notebook and not destroy it.)

The secret I could never tell anyone. 

Write a letter to your first love.

The things I’ll never do again are . . . (oy.)

If I dared to say what I really think . . .

I chose the following from her list to close this post out for today:

10 memories I’d like to revisit – 

  1. Sitting on that old wood bench in Montgomery, Iowa on a July night watching the free outdoor movie with my family. There were stars overhead, crickets chirping in the grass, my folks–lighthearted and relaxed. There, of course, is ice cream before we drive home.
  2. The night I was married. I believe I forgot to tell my folks thank you for my wedding. Damn. All family and friends that we cared about were present. That doesn’t happen very often.
  3. Shopping in Wright’s Five and Dime with my kid sister. I want to walk down each aisle and remember all those fun things we used to wish we could buy. And I want to stand over that penny candy counter one more time.
  4. I want to pause inside the big doorway to my dad’s welding shop and watch him repair those colorful farm implements again, and then I want to drive home to supper with him. Our family of 6 always sat at the table and ate meals together. I remember the pecking order; it wasn’t always peaceful, but so what.
  5. Saturday nights in July and going uptown to take in all the happenings, and eating cheeseburgers at the Sunnyside Café with Mom—and one of those thick REAL chocolate malts.
  6. Christmas Eve 1960. Christmas was always good for me.
  7. The winter of 1962. Snow days—lots of them that winter. My sister and I baking and sledding and feeling warm inside our house—and sleeping late in the mornings. “No school again today!” I can hear my dad saying it.
  8. The summer of 1969 at Pike’s Point. Warm breezes blowing across Lake Okoboji and going steady. The life of a pampered teenager and loving it all.
  9. Girls’ week in August at my mother’s house. The four of us. Fresh peaches and cream for breakfast. Shopping and ordering pizza and watching rented videos. Nothing but play time. A week’s worth of harmony.
  10. Drinking Constant Comment tea with Mom in her living room until the wee hours of the morning, and catching up on everything and anything, and laughing until we dang near wet ourselves sometimes!

So . . . for those of you who think you’re  too smart, too busy, too talented, too sophisticated to spend any time with yourself, a pen and a lined notebook, I dare you to give it a try.

I don’t believe any one person couldn’t find something of merit in a little time spent examining where they’re standing now, where they’ve been—or what they think might be waiting down the road for them.

No one is that well put together. No one.

“I don’t care” days.



I rented the first season of the Downton Abby series on my way home from church yesterday. I’ve been meaning and meaning—and meeeeeaning to do this.

Last night I crawled into bed, with a slice of my husband’s birthday cake waiting on my nightstand, and proceeded to indulge myself.

The first episode appeared mean spirited and dark as I observed how all the service staff were sniping at each other and it felt grim, and I thought—uh-oh . . . maybe you aren’t going to get into this as much as you thought you would. But I hung with it, of course.

By the end of the second episode I was catching on. By the third episode I was hooked. Cake finished, I watched the fourth episode, at which time my lightly snoozing husband woke up, looked over at me and said—‘you know . . . maybe you could turn it off for tonight?’ Usually he doesn’t mind if I watch TV in our bedroom, but then it was past 1:00 a.m.

And to be honest, if he hadn’t woken up, I know I would have watched all three DVDs of it last night—and then gone to sleep. Monday morning needs be damned.

It is that level of freedom and focused intensity that I made my goal for the month of January.

I cannot wait to resume the watching at some point today.

I have journaled a ton of pages since last week’s blog posting. After the end of the holiday season I declared the month of January, “Bec’s month. Only.”

Yesterday’s started like this:

“I’m having an ‘I don’t care day’ and I like it! I recommend it to anyone who feels the need or desire for such a day as this. 

There has been so much sad news this week—friends with advancing cancer, a friend burying her all-too young husband this week because of cancer, more dementia turning up in people I know. Every phone call or email brought sad news, and no matter how much I cared, or how hard I tried to find the right words to comfort these people, I couldn’t help any of them. 

I heard an ad on the television tonight: “Farmers always look forward.” (Thank God, they do, or the rest of us would get terribly hungry in a short amount of time.) 

This 6-week journal project has had me doing a lot of looking back and re-examining, but I expect to satisfy some as yet undefined need for doing that—and then I expect to be more than ready to stop it. And I will know when that moment arrives.” 

I don’t care days are a rare treat for me, but I plan to take more of them, and I wonder that all of you might enjoy exploring the benefits they offer as well.

I caught myself humming to myself the other day. Whoa. Involuntarily humming. I didn’t choose to do it—my body simply let it loose.

I’ve chosen to consciously observe how I was spending my days. Oh, my . . . the repetitiveness of it all. Make the bed, clean out the cat’s box, check today’s task list—make those calls—get that paperwork signed today!—scope out some more story resources, clean the cat’s box (again), start the washer, we’re out of milk (again), send out that meeting notice, make airline reservations- or not?, those bills HAVE to go today or they’ll be late, what was that submission deadline? (you missed it) . . . meh, meh, meh.

Believe me, it doesn’t mean I stop caring; it means I recognize when the ol’ Care Meter has gotten too full and is about to burst.

I acquired a new journal this week, its pages populated with sayings of the Buddha. I find Buddha sayings to be fully accessible to the reader because they are clear and concise. (Whose purpose does ambiguity ever serve?)

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.   -the BUDDHA

I started this Monday morning off with another piece of chocolate cake. And I’ve made a date this afternoon to park on my nice big bed and finish season one of Downton Abby.

All my other stuff will get done at some point. My friends and family know how much I care about them and their heartaches, and my own mind and body have been telling me how much they appreciate that I wised up this particular winter.

I do like this living in the moment stuff.

How about you?

“I see you!”

What are you seeing?








What do you think you see in this wintry window?

The other night I watched David Feherty interview former President Bill Clinton on the Golf Channel. They obviously talked a bit about golf, but Feherty’s interviews are so interesting because he covers a broader spectrum of topics with his guests.

One topic they covered was the work funded by the Clinton Foundation, which is working to bring humanitarian aid and economical education/training to areas such as Haiti and parts of Africa.

Mr. Clinton noted that while in Africa his hosts took him up into the mountains, and the roads along the way were dangerously narrow and treacherous at times.

When another traveler approached them his hosts would call out to them, sawabona, which means, I see you.

Instead of the customary greetings we here in America use, such as hello or hi–it was simply I see you.

The response came back, ngikhona, which means, “I am here.” It is more involved than that, however. It tells the other person that you feel you have been seen and understood and that your personal dignity has been recognized.

That’s a rather neat trick, don’t you think?

I had to read more about this, of course. The members of these African tribes go about their day with this personal validation from all they encounter. Everybody is being seen by everyone they meet.

That must feel good.

Back to the interview. Mr. Clinton said he wondered how often during the course of our day, our lives, do we fail to see others because we either don’t want to, i.e., the panhandlers on the sidewalks, the homeless sleeping on park benches, or someone we don’t want in our social group because of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc, or because we are so wrapped up in our immediate lives, we can’t be bothered to look another human in the eye and acknowledge them in one tiny moment.

It is a point well taken, and not a comfortable one to pose to ourselves.

I’ve come to realize that journaling is like that. It is seeing yourself on the page. And it doesn’t necessarily go to rampant neediness, although we all have a level of that, but I believe it points us to greater aspirations and deeper self-realization.

Before I finally decided to vacate the standard business world and turn to writing, I felt like I’d become invisible; not only out there among that every day, supposedly normal business world, but definitely to myself. It was not a good feeling. The fact is, I learned that women who approach that 50-something mark, one day find themselves not quite as highly valued in the American workforce. I can’t speak for other countries; no experience. Sorry.

I’m glad to say I finally figured my way out–the hard way. If you aren’t living your days doing the thing that matters most to you, you are going to get soooo lost to yourself.

Sooooo . . . . my online journaling class/exercise I signed on for these 6 weeks turned a wee bit a’challengin’ this week. I confess I am behind on some of the prompts due to other required writing I had to finish for a deadline, but I kept up with what the group was called to attempt.

I realized that journaling is greeting yourself on the page. And I’m not a newbie to this pen and paper act, but after listening to the Clinton interview it dawned on me that frequent journal writing provides a chance for me to say, I see me today.

What the hell–answer yourself back while you’re at it. It’s nobody’s business but yours.

And as one of my journal mates commented: “I feel calmer when I’ve finished.”

That is not a bad way to start—or finish—a day.

I’ll close with this:

If I handed you a sheet of paper and told you to make a list of 100 things you like about yourself, could you do it?

“J” is for Journal; “T” is for Thawing


“Out of clutter, find simplicity.”

-Albert Einstein

In last week’s blog post I told you about the 6-week long journaling class I’m taking with writer Susannah Conway, and I promised I’d offer up “bits and bobs,” as Susannah puts it, of the experience.

Six years ago, a writing friend introduced me to the trendy idea of choosing a theme word for each New Year, as it related to our writing life/goals.

My log list reads thus:

2008 – persevere

2009 – believe

2010 – continue

2011 – expand

2012 – push

2013 – (no word chosen)

2014 – reassess

That blank in 2013 is probably the reason I signed on to do this life journal class. I can’t tell you why I didn’t choose a word last year, and frankly, it wasn’t until I started writing in my classy new journal for this session that it occurred to me. Life turned bizarrely hectic, messy and sad in 2013. That I didn’t have presence of mind to choose my word is proof.

Susannah provides us with many prompts and suggestions each day from which to work in our journals. Journaling longhand is not a new concept for me, as I have a number of them in process on my shelves. But the idea of working in a cyberspace classroom with 79 other women from around the world in a common vein added the touch of discipline and connectivity I realized went missing last year. That came out in my writing this past week.

It’s startling what your mind and hands lay down on the paper while you look on, and honest journaling will take over like that when you finally cut yourself loose.

Little wonder then that my gut chose the word reassess, because clearly there was a need. (I still can’t believe that I didn’t at least try for a word in January 2013. Ah, well.)

You see the colorful, but messy array in the picture? That’s my creative notebook journal in process. That is the second part of this winter adventure. Others are calling their notebooks their creative dream journals.

I have a pretty good handle on what my dreams are. It’s these blasted U-turns and detours life keeps handing me and mine that need sorting through.

My 3-ring journal will be titled, Life View, and it will contain pictures of family and friends, pets, beautiful party tables, skies (I love sky pictures), food (of course!), ticket stubs, handwritten notes and cards from friends, journal fragments, and various other bits of my writings; even some of my poems. Elizabeth Bishop I am not, but, hey—this is my journal after all.

I’m not real artsy-fartsy when it comes to the paper crafts/ scrapbooking concept, and I was not even going to try this 3-D part of the course, because after all—I am a writer. I was planning to dive back in with one ink pen in hand, and two more in my back pocket and give it everything I had. But Providence evidently thought it would be good for me.

Allow me to report to you: I think Providence was right, and I think I’m in love.

The play time with my 3-ring binder and all those doodads, stickers, fancy scissors, multicolored card stocks, and the drawing up of page layouts all while looking at pictures of my family, my friends, all those fun times we’ve had already . . . I mean, come on! It’s positively engrossing. Not to mention, cheering.

Observing where you’ve come from goes a long ways in helping you reassess where you go from here.

And then there was this revelation: the other night, as I wrote and played, it occurred to me that my head, heart and soul were thawing out.

Whether we freeze up to protect ourselves from the hard times, or to make ourselves be strong role models for the sake of those around us could be a topic for debate.

All that I can tell you today is that it feels good to have the ice breaking away, and I owe this to a new journal, a group of honest, like-minded women on the other side of the pond, and a whole lot of brightly colored clutter scattered all over my dining room table.

I know there are people who think they don’t need to do any of this self-examining journaling crappola, but people, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

You may never be the same.

Einstein nailed it. Out of my clutter, I am finding simplicity, and from there I will be able to reassess.

Talk to you next week–

Are you EXCLAIMING!! yourself to death?

I realize that most people, when they think of Washington, DC, probably wrinkle their nose, or at least scrunch some fold in the memory area of their brain.

Granted, we all can’t be consistently happy with what does, or doesn’t get handled by the U.S. Government in Wash DC, but if you’ve ever read any history, you’ll know that the people have never been–nor do I believe will they ever be–really happy with their governments–U.S. or not.

But in Washington DC there are wonderful museums and monuments and libraries and things that serve as testaments to the fact that in spite of such statements, we’ve come a good piece and we do continue on, and I cannot wait to take it all in.

This weekend I leave on a muchly-desired guided bus tour vacation headed for such sites. And before the 9-day tour concludes, I will also get to walk the ground at Gettysburg and visit the crash site of all those courageous souls of Flight 93 during the time of 911.

Of course when one is going to be gone there is preparation work to do. Deadline writing had to be turned in, interviews in place for right after I return, yard work/house stuff/errands/arrangements, you name it.

By the time we are done preparing to go on vacation, we r-e-a-l-l-y do need it!

Notice that dang exclamation mark?

Wellllll . . . there’s my real rub today.

It occurred to me—while on my most favorite-ist bike trail the other night—that as of late I seem to be living with a constant exclamation point chasing me.

Exclamation point: n. A punctuation mark (!) used after an exclamation or interjection of sudden, forceful utterance.

Maybe that’s not so good—at least not as much as I appear to do it.

I have high hopes for this bussed vacation. Someone asked me (and they were wrinkling their nose, by the way) why I didn’t just fly out to the sites I wanted to see instead of “taking a bus?” (much wrinkling by now)

Because if I have to deal with air travel and all that that has declined to, I’ll have even more exclamation points chasing me!!

Do Not Want That.

I won’t have to deal with searching for directions, or places to park, or places to stay, or obtaining tour tickets or finding guides, or any of that.

I get to sit back and anticipate the next item on the itinerary. (I had to resist the urge to use an exclamation mark here—twice.)

An old-fashioned lined journal and a notebook will go on the bus with me. The notebook has a picture of famous pirate Jack Sparrow, aka Johnny Depp on the cover. Another traveling buddy of mine gave it to me the summer we took off for a girlfriends’ travel week. And pens. I’ll take pens. The laptop is going, of course, for use at night in my hotel room only.

I get to sit and stare out the windows while someone else does all of the driving and have interesting – if not unique – conversations with people I’ve never met, and journal freehand—just because I can.

In the world of writing, the exclamation point should be treated like it is a fine rare wine. Drink very little—or none at all.

When I receive a piece of communication that is filled with exclamation points I feel like I’m being shouted at. I don’t like being shouted at. I’m going to guess you don’t either—so why do it?

I said I felt like I’m always being chased by an exclamation point?

When I made my list of to-do’s for this week in planning out what all I have to get done, I promised myself I would not put one exclamation point behind anything on my daily clip boarded task list that I keep on our kitchen island.

I have been making daily plans lists on a kitchen counter ever since my high school days, but it’s in these last several years – and it is interesting to note that since I took on my freelancing writing life—that that screaming exclamation point has pushed its way into my life so consistently.

This is not a rant against freelance writing. It is a rant against the way I’ve responded.

Would you believe I had to think consciously to not tag any exclamation points onto this week’s tasks as I wrote: fertilize and water everything, water the church flowers, pay all bills, get Derek’s birthday gift, use up those bananas, finish those last two articles and submit, try to transcribe one more interview, look for a new gold chain, get Lexi’s new food . . .

I am so looking forward to my trip where I won’t be shouting at myself about anything.

My hope is that when I return home, I’ll remember how to continue avoiding too much shouting.

Could your life and your writing use less shouting, too?

The Life Around Pie.


I am a pie snob, and I admit this with pride.

We had 14 people coming to our house for the annual Groff 4th of July party this past Saturday night and I woke up that morning with a wretched sore throat that was doing its best to spread its wickedness throughout my body.

I had 3 pies to create because homemade pie at our annual function is now a time-honored tradition. It didn’t matter that I was feeling poorly, those pies needed to come together.

Some people believe pie simply comes from the freezer section of their grocery store.

Some people have never made a real pie, and could give a fig whether or not they ever do, but . . .

I’m willing to bet something of value that a respectable majority of the masses adore a really good piece of homemade pie—which, to my means and methods—means the pie crust has to be a lard-based crust. (Groan if you want, but on this I am immovable.)

I was fortunate to watch and learn from the real experts: my mother, my paternal grandmother and a couple of aunts in busy ordinary family kitchens. It had nothing to do with expensive granite counter tops, or designer light fixtures—or even degrees from prestigious culinary schools with familiar-sounding acronyms.

These women learned their pie tricks out of necessity for feeding families and large work crews.

Back to my sore throat and not feeling in the most “pie-baking” mood Saturday morning.

Because I was feeling awful, I worked slower than I normally do.

I took my time with the process. I rinsed and peeled, and washed and diced and sliced and grated and measured. With the fillings mixed up and waiting in their bowls, I turned my attention to rolling out the bottom crusts, and it hit me.

You are in this moment only. Feels good, doesn’t it? 

You are not rushing; thinking about what you’ll do after this. 

You don’t do this nearly enough, but you need to.

I took my time rolling out each crust—testing it for uniform thickness, adjusting it a bit here and there, then ever so gently arranging it in its pie plate before repeating that process two more times.

Stirring and scraping the fillings: fresh blueberry with lemon zest, rhubarb (from my garden) mixed with market strawberries spiked up a bit with freshly grated orange zest and just a touch of fresh ground nutmeg–for the second pie, and of course, apple pie for the third. I like to add fresh lemon zest to my apple pies as well because freshly zested citrus makes anything rock to the next level up.

I dabbed on the butter pieces—real butter, of course—and then rolled out the decorative top crusts, once again laying them in place, taking care not to stretch or tear, trimming excess dough, tucking and rolling the edges, before giving them finger-formed edges.




There really is nothing better than working with your hands.

Perhaps you won’t believe me, but I swear my throat wasn’t hurting nearly as badly once those pies went into the oven to bake, and I realized I’d enjoyed my creative time at that dusty flour counter to its maximum potential.




It takes practice at being in the moment, and I have been painfully negligent as of late in my practice of that art.

There are always deadlines to meet, the next interview to locate and set up, the myriad of things that always need doing around the house, the yard, volunteer duties, and so forth. It becomes too easy to live to rush toward that next task or duty or promise—or “always wanted to try that . . .”, and before I know it—I’m not even trying to stand in the moment and enjoy where I am. This simply is not good.

A friend recently asked me some pointers about starting her novel.

I told her to make sure she had a ball writing her first draft, because it may just be the most fun she’ll have with it.

Practicing what we preach can be such hard work, don’t you agree?

IMG_5422 trimmed up


Just for grins—here’s my family’s lard pie crust recipe. Just in case you want to try your hand at one.☺

Grandma Z’s Pie Crust

3 cups white flour

1-1/3 cup of lard

3/4 tsp salt

Mix flour and salt together, cutting in the cold lard with pastry cutter until crumbly, then add the following combined mixture:

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp cider vinegar

5 TBLS ice cold water

Mix, by hand, until smooth, shape into a disk before wrapping and chilling in refrigerator for several hours.

A few pointers:

  • Be sure the lard is cold.
  • I always use a  pastry cutter to work the lard into the dry ingredients.
  • Be sure the   and water mixture, as well, is very cold. (I ice a glass of water  first, then measure out my 5 TBLS of water and add the vinegar.)
  • Do  not overwork the dry ingredients/lard mixture. Just get them worked into a small crumb mixture and then add the wet ingredients.