Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #324, Theme: Spectacular

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This Spectacular Age

We are the Age of the New Millennium—
the New Age of Identity,
where you can be anything you want to be,
even if you aren’t and can never be.
We are the Age of Information Technology
that flows at the speed of sound,
depending upon the connection.
We are at the Spectacular Age,
for never before has mankind
seen such leaps and bounds.

The spectacular camera
captures images
that would have been lost in the haze of memory.

The spectacular camcorder
captures a shot of a birthday,
a child’s particular laugh,
a political gaffe.
The camera holder is the apostle
who records the story from his or her perspective.

All is recorded for posterity,
for herstory,
for history.

The electric light drowns out the darkness,
keeping us awake,
aware,
so that we can have pizza
in a brightly lit parlor at four a.m.
Candles are now a novelty—
like a flame of the past.

Books can be downloaded,
uploaded,
and never go out of print—
the words of the authors living long
after they have gone.

I can Skype someone across the globe,
and I don’t even have to wait for a plane,
for I’m already there—
the sights and sounds come through loud and clear.

The feel of newsprint between my fingers
has become a fleeting memory.

Like a Luddite, I go to the bookstore
to open a book the old-fashioned way.
I savor the feel of the slick, embossed cover,
admire the gilt-edged pages,
and delight in the crisp black-and-white.

The clatter of flatware at the dinner table
is drowned out by the clicking of buttons—
the furious sounds of texting.
Conversation is a casualty.

The information superhighway is becoming faster,
like a New York minute—
with so many stops along the way.

I log onto Facebook,
where I go to hang out with friends,
where only those I want can become part of my world.

Then I log on to Twitter—
sending and receiving open telegrams
in 140 characters or less.
I am blitzed by information
that would have taken hours to look up before.

LinkedIn is where my qualifications outshine my shyness.

YouTube is where I watch and listen—
where I can learn everything
and nothing at the same time.

But WordPress—
that is where I tell the world my story,
so that to my descendants,
I will not be a mystery.

I look up from my phone
to find you standing right in front of me,
only to see you looking down at yours.
You do not even know I am there.

 

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10 Myths

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Sometimes you get tired of hearing the same things, especially if they aren’t true, and these are just twelve of them.

  1. Myth:  Well-done meat cannot be tender.  Truth:  If someone knows how to cook, they know how to keep well-done meat tender.  I’ve eaten meat well done all my life (it was how I was raised; my grandfather grew up on a farm and said if you’d seen as many sick cows as he had, you’d eat your meat well-done, too).  If you want to eat it rare or whatever, that’s fine, but the smell of blood from medium rare meat makes me physically ill.  I’m sure rare meat is a lot more tender, but then, in that case, completely raw is even more tender.  No thanks.
  2. Myth:  Every episode of “I Love Lucy” was about Lucy trying to get into show business.  Truth:  True fans of the show know that Lucy often spent a lot of time cooking up schemes that had to do with just getting close to movie stars, as well.
  3. Myth:  Men prefer women with make-up.  Truth:  My husband doesn’t, and my grandfather didn’t.  Some men actually like the way women look without it.  We need to stop comparing women to barns.
  4. Myth:  All calories count the same.  Truth:  The calories from an avocado still count, but they count in a different way than the calories from a candy bar.  Make the calories count for something, like nutrition.
  5. Myth:  You should be open-minded.  Truth:  It is okay to be close-minded (and even intolerant) about some things.
  6. Myth:  Good art has to offend.  Truth:  Does the painting, “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth, or compositions by Peer Gynt, offend?
  7. Myth:  Southerners eat everything fried.  Truth:  We prefer our peanuts boiled.
  8. Myth:  Poetry is dead.  Truth:  Poetry isn’t dead, but there’s just a lot of bad poetry out there.
  9. Myth:  Only get a degree in STEM.  Truth:  Famous and successful philosophy majors include, but are not limited to, Mary Higgins Clark (a personal favorite of mine), Martin Luther King, Jr., George Stephanopoulos, Harrison Ford, Bruce Lee, and Alex Trebek, to name several.
  10. Myth:  Profanity makes characters edgy, and more provocative.  Truth:  Excessive and gratuitous profanity distracts rather than enhances good writing.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #323, Theme: Hesitation or Hesitant

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The Last Will and Testament of Mary Andrews

I hesitate to write what I will someday no longer be able to say.
A writer always wishes to live on through their words,
for even though their lives and loves will pass away,
their words will not pass away.
Like Poe, Frost, or Dickinson,
they seek to achieve everlasting life through their good works.
Faith will help me move on,
even while all the inspiration that has yet to be revealed
tries to get me to hold on.

I write to my husband John, a letter—
trying to tell him a lifetime’s worth in a thousand words—
the length of flash fiction;
for when I got the diagnosis,
it was like my life was over in a flash.

I ask him to take care of golden Katja,
who was one of the best parts of myself
I brought into the marriage.

Read to our daughter every day that I am not with her:
the stories I loved,
the stories I have written,
the stories that have yet to be written.

Teach Lara how to make cabbage rolls,
fill the house with the smell of them,
for it will be then that you can close your eyes
and just imagine.
Give her the list of the books I loved,
for through them,
perhaps even loving what I loved,
she will come to know me.

There is a box containing ten books—
a book for each for my closest friends.
Send them,
for I hope that the words of others’
I pass on…
matter.

Whatever loose ends there are,
tie them up in a pretty little bow.

Keep up my blog for me:
Every week, post one of my thousand and one poems,
in the sequence I describe.
By doing that, you will have extended my life on this earth
another twenty years.
By then, I will have grown vague in your mind,
but my words will be fresh as daisies in the springtime.

Publish all of my books online for the price of a coffee,
so that they may never wither away,
so that they have a chance someday
to become known as something great.

Leave my Facebook page open,
for someday, I may leave a message for you,
and it will be as if I am alive.

In a safe deposit box,
paid up for eighteen years,
there is a batch of letters tied with a lavender ribbon—
a letter for Lara,
every year on her birthday.
A P.S., I Love You type of thing.
Every year, every letter,
will reveal a new memory
she didn’t know we shared.
There will be a DVD for each one,
and just maybe,
someday,
she will remember for real.
I would spread them out forever if I could.
I would have recorded more memories had I known.

Because of you,
people will someday know my name.
You are my hands, my eyes,
my heart, my voice,
my intercessor on Earth.

I ask all of this from you because I am not ready to let go of this life,
for the day will come that all those who remembered me
will be gone,
and all that will be left are my words on a page,
on a screen,
floating like stars across the blogosphere—
tiny pinpricks of light shining across the virtual globe.

When the summer rains come down,
think of them as my tears,
baptizing you with my blessing to live—
to finish what we started together:
our Lara.

When it is lightning,
think of me playing with fireworks
with the sister I never got to know.

When it thunders,
think of me atop my old horse, Seccy—
of the happy reunion we must have had,
the winds of Heaven blowing through our manes
as we jump over the rainbows and
race through the crowds—
a fantastic chariot race,
an exhilarating steeplechase.

When the sun shines on you,
think of my warmth,
and the shade,
my shadow—
both covering you completely.

When you smell the gardenias,
and taste the strawberries that grow
around the white arbor in our garden,
know that I have just been there.
You couldn’t quite catch me,
but I will be near,
just beyond the trellis,
to that place where the woodbine twineth.

And if you ever do fall in love again,
and I so hesitate to say,
for I am not losing you,
you are losing me…
Put my picture away
for only you to see.
The flowers on my grave
need only be freshened once a year,
for even the most important deaths,
like Easter,
are remembered but once a year,
and am I not so much lesser than that?

Someday, Lara will be grown,
and I will become real to you all over again.
She will be standing under the lattice,
the sunlight reflecting off of her strawberry blond head,
so like mine.
Her face will be shadowed.
She will be at the very age I was when I passed away,
and you will be struck with the awe and wonder
that is my greatest legacy.
For that second,
you will be given a glimpse back in time.
I have seen in my dream what it will take you years to see.
It was the last gift God gave me.

She will not remember,
but she will see
through our lovely technology,
how much I did love her.
She will know that she brought us back together,
that we tried for her,
and stayed for ourselves.

I am so happy now,
when I think I won’t ever really be gone—
just simply somewhere else
in another dimension,
where time flows in a different direction.

Why I Prefer Baking Over Cooking (and Relearning Everything I Thought I Knew About It)

So I’ve been baking a lot lately.  Not because I’m craving sweets necessarily (at least no more than usual), but I’ve been wanting to relearn everything I knew about baking (or rather, learn how to bake with ingredients that actually have some nutritional value).  I know I consume too much refined sugar and refined white flour, via Mexican Coca Cola (made with real sugar, but it’s still sugar), the endless free sweet tea available at work, and the iced coffee, so I wanted to make a change.

Most sweets generally have both sugar and flour (I’ve always been much more of a baked goods girl than a candy girl).  Because it costs somewhat more to bake without these two “staples”, I’ve been putting it off, but I realized if I can buy a two-dollar black-and-white cookie from the Publix bakery three times a week, I can put that money towards a natural sweetener, like raw honey or pure maple syrup.  (Almond flour is when it gets expensive.  $12.99/bag.)  I’ve experimented with a few traditional desserts, Paleo-style (chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, brownies), and most of them have turned out really well (the brownie recipe used sweet potatoes, which I don’t even like).  In fact, they are as delicious as the traditional, and sugar is no longer in my pantry.  (Flour we still use to fry chicken.)  It also takes less to satisfy.  I may spend more for the ingredients, but I eat less (and there is less waste, considering the considerable cost.)

We happened to have one box of Ghiradelli brownie mix in our pantry, and so I went ahead and made them for my husband.  I tried one bite and though they were good, I didn’t really crave it.  The other night, after work, I bought a black-and-white from the bakery; I ended up only eating half (the dark half, of course), and gave the rest to my daughter (not an everyday thing, I assure you).  It was good, but I just didn’t want it anymore.  The thought of the rocky road fudge I used to make at Christmastime doesn’t even appeal to me anymore.  Eating Paleo desserts for a week changed my taste buds.  That said, I’m not jumping on the Paleo bandwagon completely.  Potatoes (other than sweet potatoes) are banned from the diet, and that’s just a no-go for me.  Potatoes are natural and good–it’s just what we do to them that makes them bad for us.  And nothing is going to make me give up dairy.  Hold the almond milk, please.  And there is NO substitute for butter.  None.

I have also found that even though I loved baking before, I love it more now…somehow.  It’s almost like falling in love all over again, but with a clearer perspective.

And for the reasons I love to bake over cook:

  1. I don’t have to handle disgusting raw meat.  That was always one of the worst things about making meatloaf.  It was like mushing up brains.  (And I like meatloaf, but the whole fecal matter scare has turned me off of it for awhile; after the story about the pink slime came out, I couldn’t eat ground beef for 6 months).
  2. You don’t have to separate anything from bones or cut off that piece of gristle that is sometimes on the ends of chicken.
  3. It often doesn’t require frying anything.  Frying is messy and it’s just not my forte.  Frying and grilling out are part of my husband’s skill set.
  4. It is more of a science than an art.  You don’t have to constantly taste everything.  (I really don’t like doing that.)
  5. I can just eyeball something and know when to take it out of the oven, but if it’s a protein, I am so paranoid about it being the least bit undercooked, I often overcook it (which doesn’t bother me in the least) or I have to have my husband check it for me.  I just don’t have the instincts.

Now, for three stellar Paleo dessert recipes I’ve found thus far (I can’t vouch for any of the frosting recipes, because I rarely eat frosting; I’ve always been one of those people who scrape it all off):

Sweet Potato Brownies

http://www.paleoplan.com/2014/01-04/sweet-potato-brownie-icing/

Chocolate Cake

Now one thing about the one below.  I strongly urge you to use almond oil rather than coconut, because the first time I made it, the coconut flour combined with the coconut oil completely overpowered the cake.  I like coconut, but the chocolate flavor was just lost.  I made a simple chocolate ganache which was perfect (not Paleo, I just used equal parts dark chocolate and heavy cream), but I will definitely try the pumpkin next time (I just didn’t have it on hand).

http://paleogrubs.com/double-chocolate-cupcake-recipe

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wasn’t sure about the cinnamon with the chocolate, but I am so glad I tried it.  I wouldn’t make them any other way.  When I showed them to my husband, he almost didn’t believe me, he said they looked so professional.  (I had to use the back of a fork to mash them a bit halfway through cooking time, or they would have just been like cookie dough balls.)

http://www.oatmealwithafork.com/2013/03/29/the-best-paleo-chocolate-chip-cookies-ever/

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #322, Theme: 10 Lines or Fewer

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Life in 10 Lines

After childhood comes adolescence,
along with feelings of uncertainty about who we are.
Adulthood follows, when we discover who we really are.
Then middle age creeps upon us,
when we begin to look back at who we were,
and despise ourselves for it.
Old age sets in not too long after,
and we revert back to childhood.
And for those who had no childhood,
there is no going back.