The Blog

You know the caps of those bottles of olive oil? They’re about the diameter of a nickel, and that circular edge is very sharp. They come in handy when you’re determined to serve an appetizer that’s, well, appetizing.

Here’s what you do. Take a roll of biscuit dough and peel it apart, layer by layer, until you have a disc of thin dough. Use the bottle cap to cut the dough into little circles. Bake them. Keep an eye on them as you do. It won’t take long. Now use something a little bigger than the bottle cap to cut out circles of beef or sausage, and fry them up. They’ll shrink, which is why you want to start with bigger circles.

Then use the bottle cap again to fashion little circles from slices of cheese. I’m partial to cheddar, more for the color than anything.

Now you’re ready to assemble…miniature cheeseburgers! To hold them together you can use decorative toothpicks, which not only serve as utensils but make those cheeseburgers easier to dunk in the little bowls of mustard and relish you can include on your party tray.

What is it about miniatures of anything that make them so enticing? And did you get as hungry reading this post as I did, writing it?

Why are you exhausted?
November 11, 2019

Nothing is more exhausting than the task that is never started.”

Truer words!

I’d long suspected, of course. Haven’t you? But, wow.

We’re almost finished renovating the house after pausing that work for eleven years. We’ll barely be able to enjoy it long enough to give Katie the big tour, that’s how quickly we expect the place to sell. Which is fine. The plan was never to stay put once Kate shot out of the nest. The plan was to move within (almost) shouting distance of her after she put down her own roots.

memory boxIn anticipation of moving I’ve cleared out more than half of what I’d accumulated since I was little myself. It wasn’t that much to begin with, granted. But divided by two? I feel weightless! I can fit everything I care about into the trunk of our Honda, just like I could when I set out for college.

Seriously, what a feeling. I imagine it’s like what people of a certain age feel when they can still fit into the clothes they wore at their wedding decades ago. Yeah, yeah, the ravages of time and all that -- but would you look at the space (in this trunk) (between me and this waistband)?

The biggest thrill isn’t tangible, of course. It’s finishing what we started. I’m a big fan of abandoning projects when you no longer care about those goals. We still found meaning in these goals, though. We just hadn’t made the time.

Now that we have? What a (psychic) load off!

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artwork courtesy of Katie Anderson

When it comes to love (or friendship!) I fall hard, and fast. There’s no ramping up. I throw myself into new relationships with abandon. Innocent until proven guilty? With me it’s trusted until proven untrustworthy. I am one enthusiastic dance partner. You don’t have to wonder where you stand with me. You know.

The downside, of course, is that I get burned sometimes. Which is also the upside, right? If you’re “all in” you learn a lot about each other quickly. When things don’t work out I can rest easy knowing I did my best to make them work at all. I never have to worry I didn’t give people a chance. More likely I gave them dozens of chances.

By the time a friendship’s winding down I’ve seen it coming for a long time, and I can’t remember the last time I had a single regret.

If you’ve been accused of “pretending to like someone” until that wasn’t convenient anymore, I feel your dismay. Because if you’re anything like me, you weren’t putting on airs. You were getting to know people. You’re often richly rewarded for that, but not always. In which case the kindest thing for both of you is to move on.

“I just don’t know if there’s enough meat here,” I thought to myself as I drifted off the other night. It was time to start writing the sample chapters for my next book, and the requisite doubts had shown up right on time. I could set a clock to them, but that’s another story.

I was so tired I’d forgotten to pose that question to the heavens, but they obliged anyway. They presented me a burrito in my dream, so packed with barbecued beef some of the sauce was getting on my shirt.

No kidding.

There was so much meat I asked myself in the dream what I was supposed to do with all of it.

No need to consult a dream dictionary for this one!

In a Goodreads review of Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness, “Darcy” offers up this quote: “In a hundred and fifty years no one alive will ever have known me. Being forgotten like that, entering that great and ongoing blank, seems more like death than death.”

What seems more like death than death, to me, is saying goodbye to Katie.

I started a journal when I was nine, decades before I met her. Once I did? The journal became more than a way to save (and savor) my life. It’s helped me be more at peace with the prospect of that eventual goodbye.

I don’t think Katie will forget me. But without the journal I’d worry she might forget just how much she is loved. By me. From long before she appeared.

I started the mother of all edits on a recent milestone birthday. I’m reading the journal from what I imagine will be Katie’s perspective, and I’m letting go of…a lot. And as usual, a gift that was meant for Katie is already doubling back on me.

In the course of deciding what will be interesting or fun or useful to read, I’m also deciding what parts of myself to carry with me into the future.

That’s a big reason a journal’s so helpful, right? The reminder you get to decide.

For the past eleven years I’ve lived in a house that didn’t have doors, a functioning kitchen, or even a couch. I’ve been doing dishes in the bathtub, going for a drive if I want to sit in anything but an office chair, and bathing by candlelight as much for the privacy as the mood.

Would it surprise you if we hadn’t washed the windows for several years?

the windowThe evening I wrote this post Darrell had just come in from outside with a report on those windows. He was almost finished washing them. Every window. After all those years. He hadn’t been out there very long. How was this possible?

The right squeegee, that’s how. He splurged on a good one, and you should’ve seen the look on his face after he’d been using it only as long as he had. Wow.

The old Darrell would’ve tried to get by with a bargain squeegee. That was before he splurged on a miter saw of the highest (or almost highest) quality this spring. If you’re going to trim up windows and install baseboard and you don’t want it to look like you did it yourself, I highly recommend whatever miter saw we have.

It got to be kind of a joke. Darrell would ask me to take a break from whatever it was to come admire the latest. “Would you look at this?” he’d say, running his fingers along an almost imperceptible seam. “Have I ever seen you this happy?” I’d counter. I mean, really. You know what they say. If Dad ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. It doesn’t take all that much to keep Dad happy, though. Just let him retire to the garage with a project…and the right tools!

I was talking with Darrell about something recently when he closed his eyes, threw his head back, and started swaying a little as if he was losing his balance because he was falling asleep standing up.

I love that about him! I love it when Katie finds still another hilarious way to tell us she’s bored. And I forgive myself for the old standby with Darrell: “I want a short answer and if you can’t come up with one I withdraw the question.”

The three of us could win awards for getting along. We’re fond of saying we’re freaks of nature that way. I dare anyone to be sweeter to each other, moment by moment, than we are.

We’re also honest.

Don’t let anyone tell you it has to be one or the other!

If you joined Darrell and Katie and me for dinner sometime, you’d have a good time. Promise. We are engaged. We laugh, we challenge each other, we change our minds, we meander this way and that and before you know it two hours have gone by and…what was it we were talking about again?

When Katie was little her birthday parties were a highlight of the whole school year. That’s because we rented a big room at a local hotel. It was just off the swimming pool and a dozen or more girls spent the night together eating ice cream cone cupcakes and swimming and sleeping a little in that mountain of sleeping bags. I’ll never forget watching one little girl watch Katie and me. I could tell she wanted with her mother what Katie and I had. Maybe she even told me that. But we knew.

It broke my heart.

Everyone who got to know Katie as she grew up loved her. Nothing unusual about that. But given how visible Darrell and I had been in the community before that with our radio work, it seemed like everyone in town felt like they knew us. Katie’s been gone for more than six years and if I got out more I’d spend my whole life updating people. Good people, sweet people. It’s just that (1) I’m an introvert, and (2) I don’t have that kind of time.

I slip into automatic answers as a defense mechanism sometimes. “Yes, you saw me out running the other day.” “Yes, we’re still on the radio.” “Yes, Katie’s still in New York.” I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want to spend more time updating people than living. Sometimes it’s one or the other.

The other day I mistook a real sweetheart, and someone who was once a pal, for the generic stranger wanting gossip for the mill. She was at the end of our driveway and I didn’t realize who she was until it was too late. My answer to her question told her I was hoping she and I could both get on with our day. I almost wanted to run after her to make amends. It gnawed at me overnight.

So I wrote her a letter to apologize, had Darrell bless it, mailed it -- and hoped she’d forgive me.

What else can you do?