And The Meal Was. . .

Fancy Toast by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

She was served a lovely open faced sandwich of the nicest white bread, toasted lightly with thinly sliced green bell pepper and tomato topped with an over-easy fried egg. The floral plate was sprinkled with cilantro leaves and pinks. Another plate held a slice of the same white bread spread with only the best butter, whipped smooth and fresh strawberry jelly. A delicate teacup held a fragrant brew scented with rose and a fine oolong tea.  -Katie Lyn (just me describing the above photo if I were to write it in a book)

Have you ever paid attention to a meal when it is written about in a book?  Surprisingly, even though my eating habits lie along the lines of “have to” at this point in my life, I still appreciate good food and how it’s written. I think my first example of paying attention to food was a child’s books where bread, butter, and jam sandwiches were served. I can’t recall what book per se, but I have always paid attention to food. I aught to as my sister is forever keeping her journal which is basically recording down the day’s food. She reads  The Food Lover’s Companion like the Bible, and we collect cookbooks to read.

Emilie Loring books revel in good meals. The delight of delicately prepared vegetables, with Hollandaise sauce! Fragrant cups of coffee after dinner. Delightfully delicate sandwiches. Emilie must have enjoyed food. (let me check… Yep, read the second half of this blog post by Patti Bender. Emilie Loring: Good Company ) Food is what makes us all exist and what is the point of living without good food? (My current predicament is odd as I’ve always enjoyed food it’s just become a bit mundane at times for me. Go figure.)

I just started reading  What She Ate by Laura Shapiro and one chapter talks about the British author, Barbara Pym, who delighted in describing meals. She noted them in journals and never left out a simple meal. Apparently. I’m off on a quest to find one of her books as they sound marvelous. The thing that caught me the most was how Ms. Pym (don’t you just love that name?)  kept those notebooks where she wrote everything down. When she would go out people watching, every little detail was written down, especially the food. Describing a simple salad, or a boiled chicken. (They are very decidedly British after all) But food is described.

I’m in love. I mean, what better thing to focus on to slip into various bits of storytelling? We eat. I mean, I find it rather interesting that we never describe our daily ablutions in books, unless a woman is dressing and putting on her face. Granted, we don’t know all the daily doings of our characters, though I find it rather interesting. Personally. But back to food, most people enjoy eating. And we all want to eat well. What I think is eating well  might not appeal to others as I like fairly plain food, but I have never known someone to not enjoy a meal at our home. Simple is nothing to scoff at.

Why, the other night, I came home late from work where I was sending off fancy dishes, and my kept meal was pan-fried pork chop, sauted kale with garlic, farfalle with Parmesan and butter, and a simple salad (head lettuce and tomato, if I recall). Simple, basic, but pleasant after smelling so many exotic scents exiting my Chef’s kitchen.

If there is anything I can learn and glean from this essay on Barbara Pym, it’s to keep track of food better (not to mention people watch better)  and write it down. Even if watching a cooking show. Oh, I imaging Ms. Pym would have loved Barefoot Contessa!

Do you pay attention to food in books? Do you collect cookbooks and recipes? I certainly do, even if I never plan to cook them. My Library has plenty of lovelies. I carried on an online correspondence with a British man who said in England Delia Smith is a Goddess. I’ve never forgotten that and I’ve paid attention to food due to little things like this. Ratatouille is the best foodie film ever, in my opinion. And Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books have Monsieur Wolfe a true epicurean, albeit a bit extravagant in my opinion.

So, again, foodies and writers alike, comment please. I’d love to know your thoughts. Any good meal descriptions you’d like to share? Please do!

Eating/Writing On

Kate

 

 

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I’m Not Myself These Days

All rejections aside, because they are very good at putting doubt in your head, sometimes I’m not sure where I’m going. I was reading Ada Limon’s Sharks in the Rivers today and her poetry has a very good way of either making me feel accepted or completely lost. Today was the latter of the two. Not lost as to what she’s saying, but lost as to how I feel.

I’m slowly regaining myself from my leave of absence, but at the same time, I’m not back to my full self. “I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself , you see.”

 

How do I not feel guilty for not wanting to do things for other people? I asked Mrs. B. today. “Baby steps.” was all she replied with. I guess if I can’t even bring myself to go to the library, my ultimate favorite place to go, then I’m just not myself these days.

I bake once a week at work, pasting myself into another world; I spend the rest of the week in a state of suspended animation. Wake, drink coffee, exist, try to write, drink coffee, try to write, go to bed too late, repeat. It’s not the healthiest of lifestyles, but I’m so tired all the time that it’s all I can focus on. That and feeling guilty that I haven’t sat down and tried to submit anything else this week. Next week, I think. Or when my poetry gets better. I was turned down to the journal I submitted to, not because it was bad, but the selection of poems wasn’t what they wanted for this issue. It’s not a rejection so much as a ‘maybe next time’, kind of thing. It could have been a flat out ‘No.’

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash
Having a seat on the swing of life — Start to see the world in the colors you choose.

How do I even know what to send into magazines? How does anyone? How do I even know myself?  All very existential questions requiring way too much coffee to answer. (let me get another cup and try to ignore answering that question.)

I always feel restless when it’s late January going into spring. Spring is seriously not long away, I mean, it’s now February! So I feel rushed for no other reason than I just feel rushed.

I read a line from someone who I can’t trust, who has threatened me, who a part of me hates with a fire, but his words made me stop and ponder a bit ago.

a woman, who simply has to breath[e] on any barrier she wishes to pass and watch as it all crumbles.”

I honestly never thought I could have that much power. Maybe because I feel like everyone else has the power to crumble my world. I feel like I have power when I’m not in my Chef’s kitchen, but when I’m there I forget that “I am woman, hear me roar” power and I go back to my meek self. Hence, I’m not myself these days.

Maybe I should go read some more Ada Limon.

Kate

Rejection Affection

Photo by ål nik on Unsplash

If there is one thing that is truly unique in the world of writing, it’s what happens when you get a rejection letter. The rejection letter itself, that simple piece of paper with a couple paragraphs (or email, as the case may be with most rejections coming in an email form letter) is actually something quite spectacular. It’s a sense of belonging. A sense of accomplishment. Why rejection is a compliment is funny to nonwriters, but to us, it’s like a trophy.

For me, my rejection letter came 3 months and 11 days after I submitted my poetry manuscript to Milkweed Editions. It arrived on a Friday morning, 6 days after I had ‘quit’ my job and I was still reeling from that feeling. I took my news of my rejection to my writing group, and to the chorus of “Congratulations” my writing friends reminded me that a rejection is a good thing.

Yes, it’s truly strange to be congratulated on ‘failing’, so to speak, but what nonwriters don’t understand is that it is a badge of honor to have that letter. It means someone has read your work. It means you were brave enough to send something out. It means you are trying.

This is my second….. nope wait I forgot the short story……… this is my 5th rejection letter. But for an actual manuscript. My poetry manuscript wasn’t quite what Milkweed Editions was looking for, but that’s okay. It’s my first real manuscript. My first rejection letter came from a query letter. This is an actual manuscript!

But it doesn’t mean I’m lost. In fact, just yesterday, but an amazing twist of fate, someone on Twitter, contacted me and asked me to submit some of my work to their journal. Oh. My. Gosh. Someone actually wanted me to send them my work. Now that is an honor. I mean, sure, I have my lovely ladies reading my work, but sometimes you wonder how biased it is. No offense Dona, Mel, Sera, Maddie(Piper) et al. but I do think you are biased.  I mean, you know me. But to have an unknown editor want you to submit. Whew! Mr. Streeby, I am truly honored. (and my ego has been supremely boosted)

Ah yes, rejections will keep coming in, but it’s a good thing. I have my very first rejection letter somewhere in one of my writing files. It’s an actual print letter. And one day I will frame it a la Richard Castle in the episode The Old Haunt……. I think that’s right. It’s an honor, and now I can edit the said manuscript and fix it for another publishing house because inevitably, I have found serious flaws and grammatical mistakes the minute I sent the darn thing off. Ah, perpetual editing comes when you can edit your own work. Mels, said it best the other day, but I forgot how she phrased it. It was good.

And I have new things to add. Infatuations with an Eskimo, working in a kitchen, which I have ‘quit’, but am more on a  temporary leave of absence due to stress causing major health problems to creep back in. So I do have ideas for writing about kitchen life. Sorry Chef dear, but I can’t not write about a crazy kitchen!

So, if you have had a rejection letter, first of,  “Good for you!” I’m proud of you, whoever you are. It’s an honor because someone read your work. Keep up the good work. We are all rooting for you in our own way. It’s nice to have friends and family root for me.

Kate

Merry Christmas, Writers, Poets, and Friends Alike

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Hello, Dearies, and Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas (for you British lovelies), and Happy Holidays! Talk about a whirlwind year. For all of us. Writers alike; people in general. Life has changed dramatically and will probably never be the same.

My life has continued to be a zoo. A tired zoo. The tigers and lions need a serious dose of coffee all the time! I have been on crazy mode all this week with KP (kitchen patrol, for those who don’t know White Christmas or military terms)

I have been having late nights and ups and downs; burns and cuts. And a world of writing ideas. I never knew what kind of people worked in a kitchen. I never knew how a kitchen even functioned. While I still am a total newbie and this is my ‘first rodeo’ (my chef rolled his eyes a that statement. I guess he has never lived anywhere near the country) I  am slowly learning how things function. I had our new sous chef ask me how long I have been in the kitchen world and I replied, “Since November 20th.”  I have to laugh. Just over a month.

Christmas came too fast this year and I haven’t had much time to enjoy it like I usually do, which has dampened my spirits some. A lot. But I have three days off, including today, which is Christmas Eve, so that helps. I have Christmas ideas in my head and I am working on my Hallmark new story. Basically you have Noelle, a personal assistant to a retired judge and his wife who own a large mansion. Noelle Snow has been decorating the house up to the nines, or rafters, because the whole entire family of the judge and his wife’s are coming home for Christmas. Including one of their favorite grandsons who just so happens to disapprove of Noelle and all she has done for the Carson’s, even though they have never met in person.  Well, of course Noelle is going to win him over! It is Hallmark after all. Of course there is going to be Christmas music, and gingerbread cookies with kids, and snow, and maybe a sleigh ride. Lights everywhere.  A house decorated with a Christmas tree in every room. And Noelle? Well she happens to always have Christmas music playing in her room. Why wouldn’t she?  Did you see her name?  Can you just hear the disapproving tone of a handsome lawyer grandson when he says “Miss Snow.”?  Too perfect.

I need happy right now. I need ridiculously cheesy Hallmark Christmas romances. I need to write it. Life is too funny and fickle to not have it in your life. I don’t care if I sound like a goody two shoes. Apparently in my job I am the ‘too nice.” I don’t care. If everyone were too nice, the world would be a lot happier place. I have acutally had people ask me if I get up in the morning as perky as I am when I come into work. Haha. Oh the miracles of makeup and a boatload of coffee. It’s nice to think that people think I’m perpetually happy. It’s a far cry from the truth, but I figure they shouldn’t know my problems when I’m out at work. Unfortunately my family gets the brunt of that when I come home. I vent. A lot. But I try to get through every day with a decent attitude.

My not so positive attitude comes out in my poetry. That gets to the heart of my heart. I have something started about being flayed open. Cooking terms. Filleted alive. A pound of flesh. Goodness, that’s depressing.  I get through some days realizing that I have a manuscript on editor’s desks right now! It’s been there for almost three months. I have a manuscript on editor’s desks!  Even saying it still blows my mind. I mean, it’s legit. I am a poet. I may not always have the time, but I am a poet through and through.

It’s rather funny to think about sometimes when right now my life doesn’t even have the time to think. My chef, bless his soul, thinks that me working 40+ hours a week and getting paid overtime will make it so I’m not a poor writer.  Doesn’t he know that the reason writers are poor is because they can’t work if they want to write? Doesn’t he know that half, no wait, three quarters of a writer’s life isn’t writing, but thinking about writing? I have to think days and days to write! I haven’t had times to even think, so writing has been severely killed. Murdered. Knifed to death. (there are a lot of knives in my life right now)

Anyways.  Merry Christmas, darling writers. Readers alike. I’m off to watch a Hallmark film with the family. I think The Holiday is in the near future, but that’s a prerequisite. Oh and Charlie Brown! I need Charlie Brown.

And I know this may sound strange, but I now associate Meatballs, the camp movie, with Christmas and winter. I am going to make that a tradition. My parents don’t know this, but I so love that film now.

Joyeux Noel!

Kate

When A Writer Becomes a Chef de Partie

bank-phrom-349420

Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

My life went from ordinary to whirlwind in moments. An application, an acceptance, and suddenly my simple life of get up, run the house, and write when I could, went to get up and be a prep chef in a brand new restaurant.

My days, and nights (the dreams oh the dreams!) are filled with working in a kitchen for the first time in my life. Writing has definitely taken a backseat, but like you know your kids are there, you still have to pay attention to them. I still write. Poems here and there, and a new story started on Sunday with a boom. A Hallmark-esqe thingy. I have three pages. Whoo-ee! I laugh because I’m notorious for starting things.

Being a prep chef is interesting. I’m learning a lot, I’m in charge of a walkin cooler, can you imagine? I make pizza dough by the pounds (40 yesterday) and I direct traffic. I yell at waitstaff, I find things, I’m a gopher. I have too many bosses and not enough time. I’m getting up early, I’m working late, I’m feeling exhausted all the time. And oh wow, where did some of those muscles come from? I have no idea, but my collegue and I compare bruises all the time. Or where we nicked ourselves with the very sharp knives.

I’ve cut up 20+ chickens and sous vide just as many. I’ve helped prepare for an 80+ person Christmas Party. I’ve joked with the chef, and the staff, and the bartender, and made myself the brunt of jokes. I’m blonde, what do you expect.

It’s been good, it’s been bad, and it’s been strange. But that’s what comes when you go from writing to cooking.

So if I’m a little lax on writing here on this blog, part of that is due to just being busy all the time and my life is cooking, not writing. But I have learned one thing, a kitchen is like a pirate ship. Now that’s a prompt I’m working on.

Kate

Pushing Poems

Maybe it was the effect of having to complete a poetry manuscript by October 1st, which I did (yay for being on Milkweed Editions desks) or just spending the entire summer writing poetry, but lately, I am finding that to finish a poem takes an incredible effort. I’m having to push it out; flipping things, starting over, banging my head on my notebook.

I’ve never been in the position where a subject, poetry, in this case, has consumed my life and where I would go so far as to call myself a poet. I’ve never focused solely on one area and pushed at it for months on end. Oh sure, I’ve been writing off and on for years, but never like I am now where I think about writing every single day of my life. If I’m not thinking about writing, I am actually writing. Every day something spurs on a poem prompt, though not all actually become something. Because I have started trying to work with blank verse again (unrhymed iambic pentameter) my writing has slowed a bit as blank verse is hard. I think it’s easier to work in rhyme with iambic pentameter (maybe my mind is fuzzy because if I recall, sonnets are not easy).

The hard part though seems to be finishing anything I start. I get almost to the end, then it’s like the idea drabbles off and I’m left with a ‘dangling participle’… Joking, that’s a line from Sylvester Stalone’s Oscar film. But the poem is dangling by a thread and I don’t know where to take it. Or there is the case of trying to write a poem about how war and fighting has changed so much from the Revolutionary or World Wars where there was a front and a line in the sand and whatnot, but the poem has started about five different times, in different ways, and I just can’t seem to make it go anywhere. I think the idea is good, but it’s just not going anywhere. Sometimes I have to just tuck the idea away for another time, and oh gosh if there aren’t tons of ideas in the backs of my journals that I forget to look at, and come back to it later. I just recently found about ten ideas I need/want to work on from just the last 2 months journal entries. Gosh, I’d hate to see what I’ve missed if I go back to the last three years in my journals.

I even went back so far, recently, to find poems I’d finished and type them up. I don’t know if I can use them for anything right now, but maybe. I have found that I really, really forget about poetry once it’s finished. That “door on the lid really” closes.

But right now, oh gosh, I’m pounding a nail into concrete trying to pound out that poem.

(hey, that’s a good prompt…)

Kate

Disney Beats – Day 14

So my forays into the Write 31 Days October challenge went by the wayside on the 13th of the month. I think I burned myself out and just could not force myself to write. It was literally like trying to eat when you don’t feel good. But that doesn’t mean I can’t finish. It just might take me longer.

My sister got her first Disney soundtrack back when Oliver and Company came out. Cassette tape… I think we played that thing all the time. Even when we were taking baths that lasted 2+ hours. We loved that tape. Then came The Little Mermaid.  Once we knew that we could have music from any Disney animated film, it was no holds barred. We played them all. Compact discs made it that much easier and we went through those fun princess years of Disney all the time. I can probably sing every song from every movie from Oliver to Hercules, not counting all the earlier ones that we got later on.

Tell me a girl from the 80s that can’t sing every song from the Little Mermaid and I’ll show you someone that doesn’t know their pop culture. It is seriously insane how well we all know that music.

Disney music has always been a great love of mine since those first Disney movies that had good music. I’d say Mary Poppins was probably the first one I seriously remember, but I think Sleeping Beauty came next. Besides, the best part about Sleeping Beauty was that the prince had a name and could dance like ooh la la.

To this day, I still pay close attention to any Disney Musical, deeming it good (Moana rocks) or mediocre (Tangled could have been better). The music is still one of those things I love to put on, like any good musical, and start belting it out. Yes, I can belt it out and if it’s summer, I apologize, I love it so much.  It’s good, clean, wonderful lyrics.

What was your first Disney soundtrack you fell in love with? If you didn’t, well, you don’t know what you are missing. You’re Welcome….. (Moana)

Kate

The 70s Are My Favorite Era In Music History – Day 13

I feel I should write about spooky songs, beings that today is a Friday the 13th, but honestly, I don’t know that many spooky songs.

I was a child of the 80s, meaning I was born then, a GenY child, grew up in the 90s and was exposed to all kinds of music through my childhood. Without meaning to, I learned about the music of the 70s by accident. I used to listen to this light rock station when I lived in the Central Valley of California in my early formative years of music. I was given a small boombox with tapedeck, an extra blank tape and there you have it. I think it even came with a microphone to hold. I used to record and make my own things, my sister and I would talk; it was a lot of fun.  But where I had my most fun was I would turn on this nice station. I was monitored when it came to how noisy the music I listened to was, not being allowed rock, but this station was okay.

I thought because it was a station that played current things, that everything on it was current. Turns out, it wasn’t. A lot of the light rock stuff played in 1987 was music from the mid 70s, so without even knowing it, I was getting an education on music my parents listened to. My parents did have some music I would play on the record player, but honestly, when you are 5, the only thing you really want to play is kids music on the record player. Except for the classical composition of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, but that’s another story.

Flash forward 13+ years when suddenly I had great access to a music catalogue from my now current library. My parents and I started ordering cdsto listen to and I was suddenly thrust into the wide world of music from the 70s. It was incredible. And the other thing was, suddenly I was hearing music I knew as well! I really remember the one I thought was a ‘my era’ song that was not, was Dan Fogleberg’s “Longer”. So 70s. So good.

I have listened to a wide range of music, so wide that I really have a hard time picking out favorite artists, though I have a couple. The music from the 70s was a lot of one hit wonders that were marvelous, but there were others that have entire albums. The 70s mix cds that our family made, our one of the most played sets of music in this house. There was a great collection of music called Super Hits of the ’70s: Have a Nice Day, and it was filled with a lot of the one hit wonder songs. But then I got exposed to the Guess Who, Three Dog Night, Olivia Newton John (which my dad had two of her records and now that I was old enough to get it, listened to her music), Neil DiamondBill Withers, Sam Cook, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchel, Chicago, and probably so many more that I can’t list them.

I can tell you the song more than the artist a lot of the times, and if I had my druthers, I would play more of that era. It’s a good era. The music is fun, sometimes naughty, but mostly clean, told a story and just has a good beat.  I love talking music with people, especially people in my parents or older generation because they get surprised when I know that style of music. I know who they are talking about, a lot of the time, and I know what they mean. (this is why I say I get along with baby boomers. I have spent enough time around people in that age I get them way better than my own generation)

And not only do I know music, I like talking about it. It’s one of my favorite subjects.

So, what era of music is your favorite? Or do you have one, and why?

Kate

James Taylor Is One Of My Fall Jams – Day 12

James Taylor. 1969 . Henry Diltz Photography (via pinterest)

I wrote about James Taylor years ago on this blog, James Taylor is in the House , and how James was my autumn music listening choice. It’s still very similar, though this year, I can’t find my cd (I have yet to mp3 it) and I just haven’t had the time to put it on.

I think there are just some artists that have a propensity for certain times of th eyear. Why is Carole King’s “Tapestry” a hot summer album? Maybe it’s only to me that I feel that. Simon and Garfunkel are definitely fall. Melancholy? Maybe that’s why. Some of the songs of Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, and defintely Celtic music, tend to be much more melancholy and that apeals to a more autumnal listening soundtrack.

I haven’t turned on Art Garfunkel’s Breakaway album either and that is fall to me. But as time goes on, and my listening tastes change or are added to, I find that folk music and jazz fill up my more seasonal listening style. Right now is more of a time for Gregory Allen Isokov and Mumford & Sons. Maybe throw in the Lumineers. Bob Dylan. They all have a lyricism that is more poetry and autum inclined. Maybe it’s just my tastes have changed.

That being said, I think I ought to find James Taylor’s Greatest Hits and put it on. Some Walking Man needs to be in my life. Or the song below because well, it speaks to me.

Kate

Spanish Tunes That Are Totally Americanized – Day 11

Away (Enrique Iglesias song)

Away (Enrique Iglesias song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like listening to music in other languages. French is a huge one, but Spanish runs a close second. Probably all due to Enrique Iglesias. But there are other artists that I like two, Fonsi being a new one. I can’t say I have a lot of Spanish tracks in my database, but I have enough.

The thing is, most of what I listen to has a much more American flair than true Spanish songs. Maybe because I like to still semi-understand what I’m listening to, considering I never took that language in school, preferring French, and when you have some English in there, you can sing it.  The thing about this type of music I listen to is that I can dance to it. (my kind of dancing which should never be seen in public) It’s got groove to it. And like any other kind of non-English song, it sounds way sexier in a foreign language. I have no clue what is being said, but it just sounds better, so it’s more fun. Non-Comprehensable = Sexy. Go figure.

I look for random songs that are fun to groove to and attempt to sing. Fonsi’s “Despacito” is sung way too fast for me to have a clue, even with lyrics, what is going on. It’s like they put it on fastplay to sing the song out, but it’s still fun.

Culturally, it’s probably not correct, but hey, I’m a white girl from NorCal. Sue me. It doesn’t hurt that Enrique is gorgeous. And has been. And probably always will be. And hey, he’s like Pitbull’s best bro, right?

Kate