Friday, September 28, 2012


Dürer understands.
I'm currently enjoying a spell of Melancholy. 

Blog posts, you've probably noticed, have been sporadic. My novel, originally slated for publication next Spring, is proving to be more challenging than anticipated and won't be out until Autumn 2013 at the earliest. My cooking has been uninspired and my housekeeping sketchy. Even my hair is as limp and lifeless as the “before” picture in a shampoo ad.

Having read that melancholy was “the condition of having too much black bile," I've been treating it with homeopathic doses of dark chocolate and black coffee. As “black bile” was believed to be secreted by the spleen, I'm also taking care to keep mine well vented by yelling at pundits on talk radio. Mostly, though, I sit in front of a blank page on a screen, waiting for inspiration to again grace me with her presence.

I have no idea how long it will last, but I trust that, as in the past, it will pass. Eventually my humors will balance and realign themselves and the creative impulse will return.

In the meantime, it can be a challenge to “drive the dark of doubt away.” Looking back, all you can see are your mistakes, and it's easy for “It's not there today” to become “Maybe I never had it at all.”
Don't give the weird sisters Melancholy, Chagrin, and Regret control of your fate. Screw your courage to the sticking place and tell self-doubt to screw off. Critique the outcome, but don't criticize the effort. Revise your tactics rather than give up your goals. Success isn't guaranteed, but it's a possibility. The path may be paved with rejection, but hearing “No” is better than never hearing anything.  

Display your talents so they can be recognized, remember that vulnerability is a normal byproduct of exposure, and try to keep a good sense of humor.

Today's lesson: I have writer's block.

Next: I have writer's block

Friday, September 21, 2012

Give Peas a Chance

In honor of World Peace Day:

Whirled Peas Soup 

Stock Ingredients:
6 cups water
4 – 6 smoked ham hocks, (depending on size & meatiness)
2 large carrots
3 stalks of celery
3 bay leaves
1 dash of cumin (whole, not ground)
1 dash red pepper flakes
1 dash thyme
Salt and black pepper to taste

In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer on low for at least 2 hours (vegetables should be squishy and the gelatin mostly cooked out of the hocks).

With a slotted spoon, remove ham hocks and set aside to cool.
Using a large bowl and colander, strain out vegetables, etc. from broth.
Poor stock into large measuring cup, straining a second time with a mesh strainer.
Add water to make 6 cups of liquid.
Rinse out stock pot and return stock.
When cool, shred meat from ham hocks.

Pea Soup 
6 cups prepared stock
1 pound dried split peas (green or yellow)
Shredded meat from prepared ham hocks

Rinse and sort peas.
Add to stock and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and add shredded pork.
Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas have fully dissolved.

Serving suggestions: Goes great with beer bread and sharp cheddar cheese.

Today's lesson: Writer's block... When I can't write, I cook!

Next: See above mention of writer's block...