The Crazy Life of a Freelance Writer

I post here when I get time. Usually I am so busy writing posts for other companies or content for some of my websites, there isn't much time left for here.

Sapphira is an intelligent, talented, special girl with a loving heart who deserves the help of a service companion that can make her feel safe through some very difficult moments in her life. If you can help, even with just a few dollars towards this goal, Sapphira, her parents and family, and would be so grateful.

It is so hard to explain the difference in her life that her adoptive family has made. This little girl has made great strides, especially in the past few years. She sings, dances, is on a cheer squad, and loves her family. Please click anywhere on the box to the left, watch the video, then click then donate button and offer whatever you can afford.

Even if you can't help by donating, please share this post on social media at least a few times. Even that will help if it results in just one more donation.

I know that you probably see something like this so often, but sometimes you just have to pony up and make a difference in a child's life. The reward comes in the form of a better world for all us, not just the one individual and I can promise, the good feeling in your heart will more than make up for the donation.

Thank you so much and I pray for God's blessing upon you.


MJ



Contemplative Moment – Wood Stove

A fire in our Franklin Stove

Fire making inspires contemplation

Photo by Margaret Williams AKA Mrs. Goodwife

It seems that lately there are too few contemplative moments. Those times when the number of endlessly nagging thoughts subside to a few, and then to none, before my mind drifts into what one speaker called, "The Nothing Box." That rarely lasts for even a few seconds because it is then that I begin to think about my writing.

It is, at that point, not at all about plots or content or finding the right image or formulating an outline or... Right. Nothing like those things at all. Please bear with me as my digression sets the stage.

Christmas found us in Wisconsin. We stayed at my brother's house which is always a joy. Church on Christmas Eve. Dinner coupled with treasured family traditions at another brother's house. Christmas morning our nieces opened gifts. All of this conspired to push me closer to that moment when the worries and the work disappeared from my thought process.

My Writing Life - Looking Back

Boy reading with starry sky background

Reading Books Expanded My Universe

Photo by konradbak

Before I started kindergarten, I wanted to read. As a child of Small Town America in the middle 1960s, learning to read was something that happened in school and not at home. Trepidation about going to school was assuaged when Mom explained that I'd finally learn to read. Finally. I often attempted to imitate my father's fine, tiny script, but the words in my mind just didn't correspond to the scribbles on the paper. These were my very first attempts at putting thought to paper.

You cannot imagine my utmost disappointment when, on the very first day of kindergarten, I was informed by Ms. Teach that I would have to wait until First Grade to learn to read.

How could anyone discourage a young, inspired student with an unquenchable desire for knowledge? Ms. Teach of course, had twenty or more energetic five- and six-year-old children to manage, and I'm sure that wasn't easy. Nevertheless as I look back, I wonder if the school systems of today still squelch inquisitive young minds by slowing them down or discouraging them from using their imagination.

From the List of Things that Make a Writer Crazy

Keyboard and other computer accessories

What Goes Scritchy Scratch?

Photo by Took-A-Pic

I kept hearing it and after a while, the noise intruded on my concentration just enough that I paused and looked away from the window. The clatter of keys paused and the tactile sensations that somehow provide my brain with enough feedback to know they are in the correct place and hitting the correct keys ended.

Usually when I'm working on something that requires more than a few words, I use OpenOffice because I know all the control-key combinations and type nonstop without pausing to use the mouse. Honestly, those dang mice force you to pause too often as you work. It interrupts the flow so to speak. When it comes to writing, I prefer the good old fashioned control keys. Control-S to save. Control B for bold. And so forth.

Today something was amiss. After the first two pauses, I was starting to get annoyed. Was there some small critter in here that was making that scritchy scratch noise? I couldn't even place the sound of it or locate its source. It was the sort of thing that starts to get the best of you and when you're annoyed, it interferes with the flow of words that gets translated into characters and drives your fingers which in turn reassembles the thought train into a cohesive sentence that is somehow different from the one formed in your brain, but makes more sense when it appears on the screen.

(Yeah. I know I'm weird, you don't have to say it. And yes, that was a run-on sentence, but it's my blog.)

The trouble was, whenever I stopped typing, the sound disappeared. And yet, it was coming from my right and just out of sight. With no resolution to my annoyance in sight, I went and refilled the coffee mug with the last of the coffee in the pot, contemplated making a new pot, and decided that emptying one pot would do for the day.

I sat down and heard the noise. Okay, that was different. It happened when I wasn't typing. I looked at the coffee mug. Which is by they way, emblazoned with one of my favorite sayings "Lack of Planning on Your Part Does Not Necessarily Mean an Emergency on My Part."

But I digress.

Having heard the noise as I put my mug down, I was able to further investigate. Nothing seemed amiss. I picked up the mug. Nothing. I looked at the bottom. Nothing. As I turned my attention back to the screen and the keyboard and set the mug down, I heard the noise.

AAAAARRRRRGGGG!

I picked up the mug. Nothing. I put it down. Scritchy Scratch. Now as some of you know, I'm not one to employ the average curse without good reason. This seemed a good reason, but the uttered profanity did nothing to assuage my irritation.

Let's try that again. I picked up the mug. I put down the mug. Scritchy Scratch.

Hmmm. It seems when I pick up the mug, it does nothing. I watched carefully and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mouse cord move when I picked up the mug. No noise. I put the mug down in the place where it usually lives and the cord moved again in the opposite direction.

Scritchy Scratch.

AHA! I followed the cord behind the picture of my niece (needs dusting), around the lucky bamboo plant, past the devil's ivy, and finally the Christmas Mug that holds all my manual writing implements, before it disappears off the edge of my desk on its merry way to the back of my computer.

Ohhhhh!

And there it was. A debit card receipt from my favorite farm stand. The cord would move away from the receipt and not make a sound, but when it moved back, it made the bedeviling noise that was driving me crazy.

Further investigation revealed that as I typed, the keyboard would move slightly, which moved the cloth it sits on, (more comfortable for my wrists,) which in turn moved the mouse pad, (call me old fashioned,) and that moved the mouse and the mouse cord, which was making me crazy with that stupid Scritchy Scratch noise.

Sigh. And a good curse wasted at that. Now I'll feel guilty if I use one in the next week or so, because apparently I have placed a mental cap on the acceptable level of curse employment. Unless I slam my fingers in a car door or accidentally knock over a paint pail (unlikely, I'm not painting anything in the near future), I'll have to make do with other, less than satisfying expletives.

And that my friends, might just make me crazy.


 

 

Stage View at the Weidner Center

Photo by Alton Brown

Friday night, Mrs Goodwife surprised me with tickets to Alton Brown Live: The Edible Inevitable Tour at the UWGB Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

It was well worth the four-hour trip and we had a wonderful dinner at Hinterland Brewery where they serve farm-to-table cuisine with a unique flair.

For those that don't know, food is a hobby of mine and not just because I like to eat. My background in food includes a two-year stint at a pizza restaurant, a private club, banquets, and a steakhouse chain. I learned to cook eggs when I was seven, and spent my summers from age ten to nineteen helping Mom pick and preserve all summer long, a tradition I am still practicing although not to the same extent.

Alton Brown is one of my favorite television chefs. I have many of his Good Eats episodes recorded and use his recipes as the basis for some of my own. Other credits are as the host of Iron Chef America and Cutthroat Kitchen, The Next Iron Chef, The Next Food Network Star, Feasting on Asphalt, and Feasting on Waves. He is also the author of several bestselling books, appears on television shows and in commercials, and makes public appearances.

The show was preceded by a fifteen-minute animated video of the yeast puppets that made memorable visits on Good Eats. Yeasts feast on sugars and produce carbon dioxide. As a result, the puppets burp and make wind on a regular basis. Alton likes to point out how immature they are for doing it as noisily as possible.

"If there are any seven-year-old boys in the audience, you're welcome."

Image of Alton Brown at the 2011 Texas Books Festival

Alton Brown

Photo by Larry D. Moore

Alton opened the show by mentioning that many folks expect a cooking demonstration or something related. Instead, the show is everything they won't let him do on television. He also mentions all the bad things that will happen if you take pictures or record the show, but those things had nothing to do with his attorney's Itchy and Twitchy. And since he later asks for selfies on twitter posts #AltonBrownLive, I sincerely doubt your souffle's will flop or your brownies will burn.

It set the stage, if you pardon the pun, for the audience to expect the unexpected.

He sings or raps songs that he wrote himself (not a bad singing voice either.) Plays the guitar. Tells jokes. The stories are true (although I suspect some slight embellishments) and uproariously funny. No one could talk about their own food poisoning (folks, never eat seafood in airports) and have the audience hanging on every word.

The applause was frequent and sincere.

Cooking. Let's just say that the cooking wasn't something you'd ever see on television. If you go and Alton offers you a poncho, take it.

No. Nobody got food smashed all over them. This wasn't Gallagher with a giant mallet and some melons.

Remember easy-bake ovens? Alton had one and when he grew up, he built his own. Incredibly, this giant, stage-light-powered oven monolith cooked two pizzas in about four minutes. Incredible.

When she tasted it, the helper from the audience mentioned it was a good, store-bought sauce. He barely paused and had a quick reply.

Ever had a taste for ice cream and didn't have any? The CO2 Fire Extinguisher Powered Ice Cream Maker does about a gallon in oh, say three seconds. Yes. Chocolate even. And it's even carbonated. How bout those cones?

Two lucky folks from the audience got to go on stage and help with the food experiments. He took questions via twitter (include a selfie please) and posted a picture of the audience at the start of the show.

Everything is done with his own sense of humor at the forefront. He's a little wicked, but it's all in good fun. Some of the people from the Good Eats program make appearances as a part of the show. At the end, he gives credit to all the people involved with the production.

The tickets were well worth the show and I give it five out of five stars. He was on stage for about two and half hours. There was a ten minute intermission. The audience was captivated, engaged, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Five minutes before it ended, all the seats were still filled. Virtually no one left early.

Awesome show. Alton Brown Live: The Edible Inevitable Tour is far more than you expect it to be.


 

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