Saturday, January 05, 2008

Where does the time go?

Is it already January 2008? By my calculations, it should still be summer of last year. The holidays and the months leading up to them passed in a blur. But nobody asked me, and alas it really is January.

It’s a funny (not really!) thing—the busier you get, the faster time passes. When I was a child time seemed to crawl. I remember waiting and waiting and waiting to turn six, which I thought was the magical age when I’d know more and be so much more knowledgeable and skilled than I was as a mere five-year-old. Of course I soon learned that six was nothing special. When you turned ten, then you knew it all. At ten, the magical age became thirteen. And so on. But that’s a discussion for another time.

There’s that word again: time. Supposedly time is infinite. When we’re all dead and gone time will continue to march on. (This is a good place to mention global warming and how our days may not march by, after-all, at least not as we know them now. But I’ll leave that lecture to someone else.) Here’s the question that plagues me: if time is infinite, why aren’t there enough hours in the day to get everything done? Why is it then when I finally have an hour to spare, it passes in a blink?

Stuff fills in the time. It always has and always will. For me, the only way to make sure I get things done is to make that list Trish mentioned back in December. And I do, almost every night before bed. If not then, first thing in the morning. Somehow, when it’s written down and I can see it, it gets done. Amazingly, I often have time to do even more than I planned.

Whether you use lists or not, I’m curious. How do you accomplish it all in twenty-four hours? How do you make the best use of your time?

Until later,
The Pilot’s Wife, March 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pie, Anyone?

I’ve had my share of pie-making mishaps through the years. I’ve produced soggy crust, cardboard crust, and just plain terrible crusts under the fillings. And as for the fillings-well, I’ve had mistakes there, too. Burnt custard. Strawberry pie filling that would never get firm. Stuff that was just plain bad.

When I was making a Ritz cracker pie in fifth grade, the end of my hair got caught in the beaters of the electric mixer. In two seconds flat, a big chunk of hair was wound up in two meringue-coated beaters-with them still going! That little experience earned me a haircut and whole lot of teasing from my older sister.

When we lived in Colorado, I miscalculated the amount of butter needed in a buttermilk pie and, well, set fire to the oven. I’m still thankful to my mom-in-law who bought me one of those fire blankets for under the kitchen sink. My kids, who were preschoolers back then, still talk about the time Mom almost burned down the house.

Even though I’ve had plenty of, well-let’s just call them catastrophes- over the years, I have to admit I’ve made some great pies, too. My mother let me cook a lot when I was growing up, and that freedom has given me far more successes than failures in the kitchen. No, I still haven’t mastered my mother’s pecan pie or lemon meringue, but I can certainly bake pretty well. Except for one kind…for years one pie has evaded me…no matter how many recipes I tried, I just wasn’t happy with the results.

That all changed on Monday. Yes, on New Year’s Eve, I finally made a great coconut cream pie. Well, actually, my daughter and I made it.

Baking is one of the things we do together-it’s actually one of the few things my daughter and I do together. But once we get into the rhythm of rolling out pie crust, measuring ingredients, and carefully spooning in the filling, things just seem to go well. The years roll away and we only concentrate on the task at hand, not curfews and boyfriends and English grades. Obviously, I’d cook with her all the time if we could.

Back to that pie. When we brought it to the table after dinner, we beamed with pride. The meringue was lightly browned and dotted with toasted coconut. The filling was creamy and devoid of lumps, and the crust was crunchy and perfect. The boys in our family said it was good, ate a few bites, then went back to watch football. But Lesley and I savored every bite. We knew we’d done something special.

So, even though it’s a new year and we’re not supposed to be thinking about desserts…anyone have a favorite pie? Or does anyone feel like sharing a cooking mishap? Oh-and just in case you’re wondering, our coconut crème pie recipe came from The Taste of Home cookbook. I would whole-heartedly recommend it.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

December Blog Winner

Happy New Year!

Congratulations to Jennifer Shirk--the winner of our December Blog Contest!!

To claim your prizes, Jennifer, please contact the following authors through their websites:
Lee McKenzie
Michele Dunaway
Victoria Chancellor

Ann Roth will be taking over the Contest duties for the blog so be on the lookout for Ann's post announcing the winner the 2nd of each month.

On behalf of all the American Authors...we've enjoyed your company and hope you will continue to stop by each day and share your thoughts and comments.

Happy Reading!


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Endings and beginnings

Our sons are home from college for the holidays. Older son overslept (“I turned off the four alarms I’d set and just lay down for a minute”) and missed his flight, but Southwest shoehorned him onto another that arrived only two hours later. Younger son arrived and blissfully turned his laundry over to me, leaving his wallet and keys in the pockets. You’d be amazed how well that stuff survives the washer and dryer.

In some ways, these are turning-point holidays. Older son graduates in May and will be moving on, either to graduate school or a job. We’re kind of hoping for the whole income-plus-medical-insurance thing, but either way, he’ll never be an undergraduate again.

We also said a sorrowful goodbye to our cat. Blue was a stray we adopted seven years ago, an affection gray-and-white striped tabby who developed a sore on his nose that wouldn’t heal. It turned out to be cancer. We let him enjoy his last days in the California sunshine, lasting longer than the vet had predicted, but then the disease picked up speed.

I’ve never been a fan of putting pets to sleep. Our last cat died peacefully at home. But when it became clear that Blue was miserable, we took the final drive with him meowing woefully in his carrier.

Goodbye, little fellow. Hope they have lots of catnip mice in kitty heaven.

These holidays also marked a meeting with our first grand-nephew. Hello to Frankie, a sturdy four-month-old who basks in the adoration of his parents and grandparents. His arrival marks the start of a new generation in my husband’s family.

And so, on this New Year’s Day, I wish you all many happy beginnings and a year full of love.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

The Harlequin American author bloggers would like to thank you for spending 2007 with us and we look forward to blogging and chatting with you in 2008.

Have a wonderful New Years Eve and New Year's Day and we resolve that in 2008 we'll keep bringing you top-notch American Romance (and for all the years after that as well).

The best to you and your family,

The Harlequin American authors

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Guilty Little Pleasures

My children are on vacation this week in Alabama, so ever since Dec. 26, my house has been quiet (minus the six cats sprawled out all over). I've been using the time to get my 20th book written and to simply do nothing. Some days I get up, work out, write, and go to bed when I finally feel tired. That's it.

Last night I went out with friends, something I never get time to do since life is always so booked solid, and I came home at 2:30 AM and then got up this morning at 11 AM. It's been an awesome week where I haven't set my alarm clock once. I'll go back to that "up at 5:15 AM" on Jan. 2. I'm in no hurry.

So my lounging around, which is something I can't do when my children are home, got me thinking of all those days pre-kids when it was just me and I had the freedom to come and go as I please, with no one needing to be at guitar lessons or the doctor or something. That time of my life seems so far ago, not that I necessarily would trade my kids and get it back. Okay, maybe when my two girls are fighting. :)

But parenting means you give up things like sleeping until noon. All those indulgences that I used to take for granted so long ago, like taking a candlelit bubble bath with a glass of a wine and a good book are things I no longer have time for. A vacation with kids simply means I'm somewhere else being on the go--so much to see, so little time to do it. Getting away for an hour for some alone time is only a brief escape--life's tension comes back the minute I leave the spa or get off the trail. There's simply so much going on.

So I'm enjoying the guilty little pleasure of not having my kids this week. They're having the time of their lives, and for a few days I've stepped off the treadmill, turned off the world, and freed myself up to be lazy and simply relax. Except for writing, which I love, I don't have to do a thing. This is when I recharge my batteries. And I am proud of the fact that my TV hasn't been on the Disney Channel once. That'll happen Jan 1, when they come home.

Happy New Year everyone and as you go into it, don't forget to carve out that time for yourself. And if you have any tips as to how to stay sane in a crazy world, don't hesitate to let me know.