Once In A While – My Walter Mitty Musings

“Once in a while”; the quote and lyrics of the song were floating around in my head yesterday, then I ended the evening with watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The two things flow together in ways that probably only matter to me, in a semi-lazy summer afternoon, flowing into the evening kind of way. Or those spring days when the smell of all things growing come out. The hibernation of winter is leaving us and excitement starts to build.

I’m not on any grand adventure right now. But I am not just sitting around waiting for life to happen. I think I’ve lived a very Walter Mitty life, at least the first part. Not very adventurous or exciting, though I have been rather content in it. But my current life is Walter taking off on a plane to Greenland to find Sean O’Connell. It’s Walter skateboarding down the road in Iceland. That image I have over there in the sidebar of inspiring images….. This one

I’m in this building excitement in my life as I sit down and plot and plan desserts that are, while not awe-inspiring, are something that brings the person eating it utter delight.

That mouthful of something sweet and chocolatey that make the person just ‘um, yum’. A crunch, a bite, a smile of delight.

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

      -The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The quote always makes me think of the William Blake line. “To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.” It’s from Auguries of Innocence. I always loved that line. The magic in it. And Walter Mitty is a pretty magical film. Especially from a writer’s standpoint. The thing makes me cry every time it ends because of the delight in it. I feel like I’ve written about this before. Those déjà vu moments.

Last night it smelled like earthworms outside. Maybe they are coming forth. The blackbirds are in the trees, the rain falls softly, the snow hits the mountains so much wetter. There is that impatience in the air. We are in the cusp of a change. Dawn has come, open your eyes….. from Stay Alive by Jose Gonzalez.

Last year I was so impatient and in love with someone. I was struggling with all aspects of that. The chaos and clambering of my heart and mind. I wrote so much. I was so frustrated with all that didn’t come from what I wanted, to what transpired. A hell of several proportions that even now I haven’t completely let go. I guess falling in love with someone does that. Even now I wonder how I can say I fell in love with someone that wasn’t right for me. But that seems to be how things happen. Ironically, maybe that I write this after reading a line from “Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell”, from the  Ravenous Butterflies Facebook page…. (Check it out)

“leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
you have an apartment
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away
your cracked past, your
crooked toes, your problems
are papier mache puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down
the bridge between your houses.
you make him call before
he visits. you take a lover
for granted, you take
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying
to disappear as revenge. and you
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong
they can smell it in the street.”
-Marty McConnell

Wow, those lines hit hard and I want to take a massive step back and look at things from a different perspective.

It’s a new dawn. Life continues to hustle along. I’m Walter Mitty-ing it along. An adventure around every corner, in every baked delight, in every Instagram followed post.

Kate

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In A World Of Food Life And Tasting Meals

New Year’s Eve brought me to another banquet, though this was more of a very nice tasting menu. I have done several party type meals with this restaurant, and all usually involved yelling, crying, and broken glass. From someone, though I was usually the one crying. Yeah, so when I knew this was coming up, I was excited albeit, a bit aprehensive. I don’t do well under mad pressure. Meaning mad as in crazy and mad as in pissed off.

This was the farthest thing from that. This was amazing. This was exciting. This was a step towards a brighter future and opportunities that I have only had a glimmer of seeing with online postings from chefs. This was new. Apropos since it was leading into the new year.

The menu was in my opinion, ambitious. I can’t say what Coffeeman thought, though he did say something in regards to New Year’s meals and whatnot.

I was in charge of the desserts. Ta da! Of course I was, though due to a very busy week I was never able to actually make the triple flavored mousses that filled the cannoli shells. I was semi bummed about that, but since my cranberry sauce was used for the appetizer, I can’t complain. Chef could easily make it his way. But he has kept it with my recipe. Thank you. I am honored. It’s pretty cool to say that your lemon bars and cranberry sauce are that; yours. (on a side note, right before calling in sick, I made bourbon caramel sauce and a beer cheese sauce that were perfect in my opinion. Ok, I couldn’t taste them, but everyone else said they tasted good…. I think I am starting to get the hang of this cooking thing where I don’t jump at my shadow and I just make)

The New Year’s Bash went off as a hit, which included a round of applause from a very nice group of people. Several Instagram worthy shots and a closer connection with some of my coworkers. I went home on a high that lasted all that night until the next day when gosh darn it, I felt a virus hit at the tail end of getting rid of another one. Thank goodness it came on a slow week.

Below are some lovely shots of some of the items we served for the meal. And head over to my Instagram account if you want to keep updated on other food related items, or dachshund love.  Kate’s IG  https://www.instagram.com/katielynbranson/

Anyways, Coffeeman has no clue how much I actually wanted to cry because it was so amazing. The last banquet/dinner I had to do involved 60 cakes in 3 hours with no prep and a boss that I am possitive to this day, wanted to break me. He didn’t. He didn’t win. I succeeded and goshdarnnit! I will keep succeeding. Like all things in life, you have to fight for what you want, even when sometimes you don’t know what it is you want. You just keep fighting. And good things will happen.  Well, this is a very good thing.

Two posts in one day. Wow, well, being sick leads to ideas. I have been writing some fiction but I have lost a little zing of that since the last fiasco, which is a bit depressing. I have too much inspiration in my daily life and I want to write about it, but now I sit there wondering where or when I should share it. Le sigh. Such is life.

But this might all be the cold/flu talking and being tired and loss of perspective. Let me just go back to hela good banquet.

Kate

And The Books Are Taking Over

via Pinterest

There they lie. On the sofa, next to the love seat; piled up, a stack by my chair at the kitchen table. On the stairs leading up, next to my bedside in three stacks, under a pillow, on the bathroom vanity.  Leading up to the point of Mr. B stating emphatically today, “You have books everywhere.”

Currently, I do. I literally have books on almost every surface of my house. I have found myself wandering around with books and setting them down, only to come back later and pick up where I left off. Most are poetry books. I ordered a slew of them (meaning 5, from Better World Books) last week, and I currently have several different books floating around at various stages of being read. Course, then I went to the library today and came home with three more. Not poetry this time, but nonetheless, there are books everywhere.

I have not had much time to read read, as in, delve into a novel or whole book. I have been able to focus on a poem here or a spat of poetry there, but actual focus for a book has been nil since I finished Bittersweet a month or two ago. I’m a little lost as to when. Pardon, I am rereading Sous Chef for the third time (this time I’m underlining crucial parts I feel I need to remember)

via Pinterest but links to etsy

But poetry, oh poetry is lovely in that you don’t have to finish it from start to end. Pick one book up, flip through, read a poem, and put it down. Bam! Done.  My writing has taken on new flavor lately, dabbling in slightly lighter prose and poetry. Heck, even prose poetry, or is it prosey?  Either way, I have had some better days.

There has been a few things I felt I should write about, but they hit me like a sucker punch, or that feeling when I was hit in the sternum by a hardball when my dad was teaching me to play catch and I lost my breath. But sometimes it’s just too hard to write about. You get hit so hard you are still kind of having an out of body experience a week later. (side note, my playing catch and throwing a ball days were bad. Seriously bad. My dad says I can’t hit the broad side of a barn and that I throw like a girl. It took a 9 year old boy two years ago saying “but you are a girl…” to really not care if I can throw right)

So, instead I’m reading poetry. And submitting. I sent off six poems today to a place that was having open submissions. And I’m working on a document to send off to the New Yorker. Whew! I feel very brave taking that step. I’ve been saying I’m going to do it for months, but then I just put it off. I felt this driving desire to submit in the last few days and so here I am. I think part of it comes off of a poem I wrote about the steam explosion that was in the Flatiron District a week and a half ago. Or a week ago.

There was something so fanciful about that, for some reason, that I had to write something about it. I may not know much about New York, but it was fun to play around with things after going above in a bird’s eye view of the district, then going down to street level and looking at the aftermath.

It has been fun to write about lighter things. Work and some of the dramas at work have been dragging me down a lot, even though I’m happier. Much happier. But for months I have written a lot about relationships and the dramas of life and it’s exhausting. I need happier things in life. Having a good boss has helped. A different work load and a new menu and excitement has helped. I may be tired, but it’s a good tired.

So, now that I’ve rambled on, here is a list of the new books on my ‘Reading’ shelf.

  • The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton
  • Lucifer at the Starlight by Kim Addonizio
  • The Apple Trees at Olema by Robert Hass
  • Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins (finally I own it!!!)
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • A New Geography of Poets compiled by Edward Field
  • On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
  • When We Were Young by A.A. Milne
  • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne
  • 99 Poems: New & Selected by Dana Gioia
  • Poetry: The Golden Anniversary Issue edited by Henry Rago
  • Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora
  • New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. Erdrich
  • Sous Chef by Michael Gibney

And a slew of New Yorker magazines for the poetry aspects. I might be a little insane. I might be trying to overwhelm myself. All while adding in plenty of Poetry Off the Shelf podcasts and a new food/chef podcast called The Emulsion Podcast  by Justin Khanna.

Cooking, submitting, writing, staying super busy. I didn’t think my year was gonna be like this.

What are you all reading and into this summer?  I’d love to hear.

Kate

Playing With Words, Or What I Found In An Anne Lindbergh Book

So I have become a frequent member of the local Saturday Writing Circle at my local library. I’ve mentioned it in passing with a short piece of Flash fiction I wrote recently.  One of our writing prompts comes from the mix mash of pieces of paper with either a word or a number on it. If you choose the number, you walk around the room, which happens to have all the books the Friends of the Library sell, pull off a book, turn to the page number you chose, and use a word from that to write from. I almost always choose this method because it’s broad and there are a bunch of words you can find in one page.

This last week I chose a book by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and who would have thought that a wealth of words could come from page 220 (the date of the day I was writing) of the book, “North to the Orient?” This book has a story behind it as well. I chose the book partly because a few years ago my family and I were going through our books, discarding what we were not going to read. Several of the books were Anne Lindbergh books my grandmother had gotten from her mentor years ago.  I kept a few and got rid of several. Well this dark blue book, sitting on the non fiction shelf, called to me. Just because I thought it would be familiar in that I knew the author. Well, after reading the page, I decided I HAD to take it home and read it. When I got home, I told Mrs. B about it, and she asked dryly if it was one of the books we had gotten rid of. Well, I flipped to the front cover and there was the nameplate with the name of my grandmother’s mentor.  Oh how things circle around. Ironic that I am now reading a book I discarded three years ago.

But now onto page 220.  While I didn’t use all of these, what caught my eye were these words or phrases:

a small island of roofs, sea of flood, the two words were separated, the world of nightmare, the world of reality, the flash of waking, magic lamp, hair-bridge, the pull of a trigger…….

A sentence: ….magic rests on a knife-edge—a lam, a tinderbox, and “open sesame.”

Aren’t those wonderful? I continued on with my story of Reality of Dreams, which relates to The Magic Orb I wrote several years ago. C.B. Wentworth wanted me to finish that piece of flash fiction and I have sudden inspiration to finish the story. I now have a way to finish the story. I think. This is what I have been working on at my weekly writing group.

So while I won’t share all of the story yet, I am going to post bits and pieces at time. But do you play with words? Do you hunt for words in books? I have found it a really good way to find inspiration. The Reality of Dreams was inspired by words in Cannery Row, and a Tea Shop Mystery book by Laura Childs.

So, how do you get your word prompts? I’d love to know.

Kate

Transporting Myself and You to Where I Love

Anywhere but here?  Where would I go?

I read the topic for the assignment on Writing 101 and my first thought was to my grandparent’s cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountain. Up the creek to where the water tanks are. To a world where the water tumbles down pink granite into eddies and pools and fountains of slippery, cold mountain water. Where the water has worn away the granite so perfectly it looks like a fine stone mason has been smoothing and carving away to make perfect dips and holes in the rock for the water to slide over in a constant rippling, tumbling motion. Where moss grows on the water’s edge and long stringy and slimy strands of green algae make its home.  Where caddis fly ‘shells’ are buried in the sand and water skeeters (striders) skip across tranquil ponds.  Where the sun shines down bright and hot from a sky so blue it could only be made up. Where the heat bakes the Jeffrey, Ponderosa, and Sugar Pines till all you can smell is cold water and hot, hot, sweet resin. Burning to a bright red in the sun, but cooling off in icy mountain water. A water feature that could never be created by man.

I can smell the pine and mountain air that is only caught high up there. The smell is burned into my mind and I miss it every year.

But I would also go to my favorite bookstore.  Bookends is a small town bookstore where the owner Mia Brooks has a bell above the door that jangles the moment you step inside. Then you hear the music she has playing and you see her standing at her large wood counter right there in front of you. And she has gorgeous wood shelves behind her filled with her store supplies. On the counter she has an antique cash register she only uses for the most important clientele (the children). To the left is an L-shaped staircase that leads up to her office and the adult books, and you can see this as there is this balcony slash gallery above the shop; open to the store below.  Also to the left is the way to the coffee shop next door that is accessed by french doors. and in the L-shape to the right of the stairs is her wood stove with a gold screen around it to keep little hands from burning themselves.

To the right is a large opening to her reading room, which is elegant and all Mia since this room houses Mia’s private collection of books. You can’t buy the books from here, but you can ‘borrow’ them, pulling them off the shelves to read while you sit back in one of her leather arm chairs, though I prefer the Queen Anne chair covered in antique rose brocade. The wood floor is covered in gorgeous Persian rugs and all the shelves are built in walnut. Dark and full of old and new books, but mostly old. The chairs sit next to large windows looking out on the small town.

Travel back from the main counter, behind the wall of her shelves, you find the rest of the store filled with sections of books.  And you can’t forget the room she has behind the wall of the front. This room is where she stores her music. A small room that has a very high end stereo system, including a record player.  You can play anything you like and the music will be piped into the store. She listens to everything, though her tastes match the seasons. She loves to play The Nutcracker Ballet in December.

Her store is a world unto itself…. Partly because her store isn’t real. Well, it’s real in my mind. This store is created for Mia as I try to write her story. Since I can’t seem to get her story written, at least she has her store to continue working in while I figure out what I want to say about her.

Bookends; a store that is real but unreal.

Those two places are where I would go if I could.

Kate

They Were Reading What?

English: Bronte Sisters statue, Haworth Parson...

English: Bronte Sisters statue, Haworth Parsonage. Taken through the window of the museum shop – sorry about the reflections on the glass! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EH Bates, over at Bumbles Books had a great challenge this week. In her post Defined by Books, she brings up the subject of what our characters would read. What book does your hero like? Does your heroine read romance? Can you define a person by the books they read?  For the answer to that question, I say absolutely!

I just read in Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay (a review I will be writing tomorrow or Wed.) And in it, the hero is a total Hemingway and Greek Tragedy guy. The reasons why this guy is a Hemingway guy is kind of just because of how ‘cool’ Hemingway was. The heroine is an Austen gal.

Who am I as a reader. Um, yes. But I have personal favorites. However how do my characters stack up.

Mia who owns a bookstore is a classics girl. Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, the Bronte sisters, Austen, Zane Grey and magazines. She likes the weirdly unnoticed books like what would come from Persephone Books. She reads magazines because she doesn’t have a lot of time to read, so magazines are quick.

English: Hemingway posing for a dust jacket ph...

English: Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, late 1939. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rafe, Mia’s hero is a total Hemingway guy along with books from the 1920’s and 30’s. He’s into jazz so the older style is totally him. He likes John Le Carre and the suspense/spy novel. You would see him reading Flemming. He’s classic and old school and totally like Patrick Warburton in the National Car ad. You know, sexy.

 

My character Rena, who’s a lot like me, would read like me: Emilie Loring, Sir Walter Scott, Tennyson, Bronte, historical romances, contemporary romances, Harlequin, non fiction herbal books, cook books, gardening. She refers to her authors by first name. So you have the Emily’s – Emilie Loring, Emily Dickinson, Emily Bronte. Can make for confusing if she asks for a book, but it also signifies that her books and authors are her friends. Books are her friends so she refers to them in the first person. (Silly, I know, but it is a quirk)

And lastly Phaedra. Since she’s a photographer, she reads a lot of books on photography, as well as travel guides and historical information. Things she can use. But she likes cheesy and girly. Fairytales and silly romance. Her favorite guilty pleasure show is Once Upon a Time, so you have to figure silly romancey fairytale.  I also picture fan fiction. She’s a total Captain Swan girl so she reads fan fiction late at night. She won’t tell anyone that, but oh, we know she just eats it up.

 

I had never thought that much about some of what my characters would read. Rena yes, since she is most like me. Mia more so since she owns a bookstore. But Rafe is a new addition to thinking about it.  I have other characters that I could list, but I need to think about them more.

This was a great writing challenge and I think it will help me with my character depth as well.  Check out Bumbles Books. Her posts are great and thought provoking.  And also, think about what your characters read. I’m going to ping John Guillen since I think he might appreciate such a post or for him to think about.

Kate

 

A World Of Worlds – Flash Fiction

She fell down through the sunshine sea. Down through the
Paradisiac Picture
bubbling water. The waves,waves,waves, down, down, down. Until

she fell through the snow lit sky of Paris. Till she landed

feet first on the frosted rooftops. Till she stood in her

bathing costume. In another world below. She looked up and saw

the sun through the ocean. So far away. Just a little pinprick

in the wintry sky. She was far away now. And to go home was

much further than just up.

This picture just grabbed me and there you have it. I feel I could run with this thought, but not sure. Who knows. Sometimes the little things are much better.

Kate

Photography at Nature’s Serenity

Moss button

Moss button

I futz with photography on a daily basis. I sell my photo cards in town and I am forever fiddling with my images. I love it. I LOVE photography and one day I want a good camera. Right now it’s just a Powershot from Canon, but I have gotten some spectacular images from it.  It’s a challenge and a great hobby, and also something really fun to talk about with people.  I linked my photography blog to here, but I’ve never talked much about it.

So, check it out at Nature’s Serenity.  And enjoy. I am trying to update it more and I have a ton of pictures to load, so keep checking from time to time.

Kate

Saturday Inspires – Ladies

I love looking at beautiful women. There is something about looking at women dressed like I want to look like that inspires me. I’ve loved looking at fashion magazines and Victoria’s Secrets for years and I still like seeing a good looking woman. So, here is my own inspirations for this Saturday.

 

So, any lovely ladies inspire you?

Kate