I Am My Own Genie

I decided to take up today’s WordPress Daily Prompt: A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

From miles above the Earth my writing space cannot be seen, but I know it is there. You see, I create this space myself each time I sit down to the keyboard to write and because circumstances in my life change day to day and even moment to moment, the space changes too.

Today as I zoom in to get a closer look, I see my room is in the United States on the eastern coast. Oceanside. Right next to the water perched on a cliff with galloping waves racing toward a crashing explosion against the rocks.

maine cliffs

(Photo credit: kenyee)

The year is still quite young–only February third–and it is quite cold way up north here by the sea. So we are inside, my husband and I. He doing his work and I, with my cup of coffee, am about to tend to mine.

Come, let me show you one of my favorite spaces where magic is made!

We will pass through the grand living room full of warm wood and sturdy stone. It’s such a welcoming place but it is for family activities and guests and hosting parties–not for my most solemn and private endeavor.

Let’s go through the kitchen now. It’s beautiful isn’t it? I love all the cabinetry, my fine professional six-burner gas stove; I love how spacious and clean it all looks. Miles of counters, too! How do you like my pantry? It has space for everything and anything I want to keep on hand. And maybe when we’re through touring, I’ll show you my dish collection which I keep in these antique hutches. I love collecting all kinds of dishes and unusual serving items. So much fun!

The kitchen is my practical laboratory where I create what I think is the most delicious food in the world. I love to put on my apron and see what’s in the pantry and refrigerator and go to town making something that is new and that we haven’t had before. I especially love this little area by the window because it affords just the right natural light to photograph my creations! I love my kitchen, but it isn’t where I write. It’s very close to the kitchen though.

My writing space is just through this door. It’s a warm and cozy room off the back of my kitchen. One whole wall is nothing but windows looking out onto the cliffs and the ocean beyond. Sometimes you can see the faraway lighthouse on the horizon and once in a while you can watch sailboats gliding past on their way to the harbor several miles south. It’s too cold to go out there today, but in the summer there’s nothing better than opening the glass doors, sitting out on the deck, with my laptop on the little table, typing away to the rhythm of the rolling waves and sipping a cold lemonade or an iced tea.

The opposite wall draws me in wintertime. There’s nothing like a roaring fire in that huge stone fireplace during a cold and gray February day! The crackling fire is so soothing and mesmerizing. See where my husband has built me a cast iron crane that holds this wonderful dutch oven cooking pot? Now that’s a cooking method!

I guess you could call my writing room my library.  After all, it is lined floor to ceiling with shelves of books. I have a lot of books! And this entire section here is cookbooks, and these are travel books, and over here is fiction, religion on this shelf–lots of categories. One of my favorite things is the heavy wood sliding ladder we built so I can reach any book on the shelf. Just like a real library!

Have a seat on one of my over-sized cushiony chairs; they’re guaranteed to be comfortable. No doubt you’ll feel like Alice herself because sitting in this huge chair, the library shelves loom above and seem to go on forever. The chairs are big enough for an adult to curl up in or dangle the feet from. Everything in the room is comfortable–the warm lights, colors, textures and shapes that fill the spaces. I’ve collected these things from all over the world and enjoy each and every item and the memories they ignite!

Ah yes! Here is my actual writing table. It is just a plain table with space for my keyboard and monitor and for maybe a coaster for a cup of something hot to drink. Nothing else. You don’t even see the computer, do you? No clock, no knick knacks, no papers. Just a plain table and my writing tools. No television in the library. No radio, no CD player. Those are all elsewhere.

Here it is just my ocean, my fireplace, my writing tools. It’s just me and my thoughts, that is all. Those are the ingredients for writing today.

This is the core. Ground zero. Couched within. The library plays a part in the space. The kitchen plays a part in the space. The deck, the house, the cliffs and the ocean play a part in the space. The cold February sky, the gracefully turning planet, the universe. I use them to help create the space.

Though this is one of my favorite writing spaces, there are others. For tomorrow I may linger above the Earth and locate a desert spot–all pink and purple and green and cream and gray. Perhaps my writing space will be in a tiny old Airstream and I will look out onto the desert and marvel at the huge desert sky and inspect the nuances of the barrel cactus flowers that surround my space. And I will again be free to write–just me, my tools and my thoughts.

Barrel Cactus Flowers

Barrel Cactus Flowers (Photo credit: Lon&Queta)

For you see I am my own genie and my writing space is my creation with endless possibilities. I am so lucky to know that!

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How Do You Talk to No One

How do you talk to no one

When you’re trying to talk to someone?

Are you talking to yourself, as if writing a journal,

All the while intending for someone to pick it up and read?

Or do you imagine there is a mob of people

Patiently waiting, listening, for your every word?

Are you writing to someone in particular?

A friend, or dare you think, a fan?

Or maybe you envision sitting down for coffee and

Exchanging an intimate chat with someone you trust.

Only they do all the listening and you have to do

All the talking.

How courageous you are to speak into the silence,

To pour your heart out, to teach your lessons.

You reveal yourself in front of everyone and no one

As you discover what it is you had to say.

Mentor and pupil, writer and reader, you carry both ends

Of a conversation you trust you are having.

Hello out there!

Hello out there!

It’s a Wonderful Blog

Christmastime

Christmastime in Golden, Colorado (Photo credit:  Patty Allread)

Time to bring back an old Christmas favorite!  You know the story, don’t you?

THE DEDICATED & HARDWORKING SMALL-TIME BLOGGER

Hard-working blogger has big lifelong dreams of becoming a famous writer and traveling the world promoting her bestselling books, etc.  But for now she is just a good-natured, regular blogger who pounds on her keyboard at home and puts her contributions out into the ether for her blogging community to find.  She also reads what her friends blog about and faithfully offers comments of encouragement and tries to help those friends get more blogging hits.

But sometimes she gets lonely.  Sometimes she thinks the blogging world can do just fine without her.  And sometimes she doesn’t sit down at her computer and write anything at all.  And sometimes . . . well, recently . . . she thought, “I’m not sure if I should even renew my domain name.  No one reads my stuff anyway.”

And she stopped blogging.

MEET EDITH

This is the part where the guardian angel comes in.  In this case, it’s Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson and she’s a very dedicated muse who is trying hard to earn her angel wings.  You can just call her “Edith.”

Edith has been hanging around ever since our hapless blogger started writing.  Way, way back when there weren’t any computers and writing required actual typewriting and there were no “delete” keys.  Man oh man.  Back then if a writer made a mistake or wanted to change something, she had to use correction tape or white out or start over.  And over.  And over. That made musing a very tough business!

If it weren’t for Edith, our writer might have given up totally.  But Edith pulled her through every time.  At first our writer didn’t have a clue that Edith existed.  Then one day, friend Martha tried to show her that Edith really does exist!  But our writer didn’t believe in Edith.  Not really.

Poor Edith.  It would be impossible for Edith to earn her wings if the writer in her charge did not believe.  Edith felt like an old worn eraser stuck away in someone’s desk drawer and forgotten about. In fact that’s exactly where she was stuck for many years.

THE POWER OF MUSES

The months rolled on with no new posts and now it was Christmastime.  There were no new followers of the blog.  No new comments.  No new ideas written about.  Our protagonist’s blogging future was bleak indeed!

However the Christmas Season was calling and the least our writer could do was write some Christmas cards.  That would be okay.  Rifling through the desk drawers to find the cards, the red and green gel pens and some stamps, our writer spotted Edith lying beneath a ragged half-empty package of AA batteries.  Beautiful, clever, inspiring Edith!

Edith leapt out of the drawer and dove into a nearby wastebasket!  It was a desperate but brave move.  Edith floundered in the rolling, rough sea of paper and cardboard coffee cups calling out, “Help! Help!” hoping our writer would save her.

Our writer reached into the icy sea of trash and pulled Edith out, not realizing that Edith was really an angel.  Edith explained to our girl that she needed help to earn her wings and she would show our blogger what life would have been like without mycookinglifebypatty. No stories about cherished cooking memories.  People dying from eating so much sugar.  Coffee Man a completely unknown superhero. Claude Mouse homeless, forgotten and unappreciated. No new recipes.  No newly inspired cooks.  No new blogging friends.  No new pen pal.

With a sudden infusion of fresh inspiration and a new lease on blogging (literally–domain name paid for another year) our writer rushed to her keyboard and wrote a new post.  And then another one, and another one, and another one!  It was a flurry of blogging and cooking the likes of which our dear writer had not experienced in a long, long time.  And it was joyous!

And it was a wonderful blog.  Immediately upon publishing the first new post, family, friends, fellow bloggers and pen pal gathered around the Christmas tree singing carols and enjoying the warmth and love and hope of the season.  And remember–this very second, with the click of the mouse and this brand new post published . . . . .

“Every time a blogger publishes a new post, a blog angel gets her wings!”

Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson earns her wings.

Edith Elizabeth Norton Pheffleneuson earns her wings while serving miso soup.

Over 500 Served

Never thought I’d see the day when I had something in common with a fast food joint!

Being new to the blogging world, I’m fascinated by the way communication gets around on the Internet and how people manage to find each other despite the impossible enormity of choices to be made while surfing it.  Lucky for me, in addition to some family and friends who generously agree to read what I have to offer, there are people I don’t even know reading this blog.

Thank You!!!  You make my day because I believe communication is right up there with air, water, food and shelter when it comes to survival as a human being on this planet. We humans looooove to communicate!  I’m pleased to see there is someone to communicate with and I will take the responsibility of continuing to write–for me and for you–so we can have this venue to get to know each other. (And speaking of food, I do plan to get down to business with that.  After all, this is about life and cooking.)

And I can now say that I’ve served over 500!  Just like McYou-Know-Who when they were just starting out.

Much Love, Patty

Everything Has Not Already Been Said

I discovered a new plus-side to my competitive spirit.

I’m a competitive person.  I don’t express this in the area of sports particularly, but I sure do love a game!  And I play to win. (Is there any other way?)  I’m a very friendly competitor and I enjoy playing with people who also appreciate good game-playing.

Funny, as a person who loves cooking I’ve never directed my impulse toward competing in anything like a bake-off, a cooking contest, a recipe contest, a hot dog/watermelon/pie eating contest.  Nothing like that.

I had a game called “Stump the Cashier.”  This is where I would go to a food store and buy produce and see if the cashier knows the name of the vegetable I’m buying.  This used to be a better game before everything came with bar-coded labels glued right to the food item.  Once in a while I can still stump someone if there’s no label or if they’re interested enough to ask what something is.

The problem was, it was a game only I knew about and the unfortunate cashiers were never in on the rules.  That’s not really a game! I would try to educate them about what the vegetable is and how I prepare it if they wanted to know.  But they never knew that while putting my items on the counter for checkout I was thinking, “Can I stump the cashier with this daikon radish?”

So petty.

Then there’s the whole blogging game which could be viewed as a competition about stats and how many hits your blog gets and if you got “Freshly Pressed.”  Don’t get me wrong – I would love to be “discovered” sipping an ice cream soda on my corner of WordPress City and get Freshly Pressed. And I admit, I check my stats daily–just to see.  This definitely stems from my competitive side.  Even if it’s only me competing with myself.

I read almost all the Freshly Pressed blogs and usually it is quite obvious why they achieved that status.  They’re usually excellent work and they well deserve the acknowledgement.  I would like to be one of those.

So you bloggers all know that there are techniques for getting more hits such as visiting other blogs and posting comments and publicizing your blog on social networks, yada yada yada.  Competitive me has been doing that and I am getting more hits, a few more comments, a few more followers. Yay me!

But I discovered while doing this that there are many, many wonderful blogs to read and so many talented bloggers who are great writers, great photographers and more.  The more blogs I read, the more I have realized that reading blogs is a great way to keep your “finger on the pulse” of the world and the diverse viewpoints out there.

I am an extremely busy person and though I love to read, my personal hardcopy reading time is very limited to only a few minutes a day or less.  I am still working my way through David McCullough’s The Greater Journey that I bought when it came out last May.  But reading blogs is quick and short and I follow quite a few of them.  This is now one of my favorite forms of entertainment!

Some of the best reading available is on blog sites!  Some of the best humor, insight, adventure stories, “drama,” –whatever you’re looking for.  You are usually getting these stories direct from the person experiencing them, too. And, when you exchange comments, it’s interactive.  For me, as far as home entertainment goes, this beats television and a lot of other things by a mile.  I’m even starting to make blog friendships which I love doing.

Blogs do not take months to publish.  They are up-to-the-minute expressions of what’s going on.  So I say, if you want to get in some great reading and be entertained, read blogs.  If you want to be at the top of your game with what people are talking about, thinking about, concerned about, etc., read blogs.  If you want some fuel for your own creative endeavors, read blogs.  If you want to reassure yourself that yes, there are brand new ideas and no, everything has not already been said, read blogs. If you simply want a cache of fascinating topics to bring up at your next party, read blogs.

Some of you might be thinking, “What century has this woman been living in?”  Maybe you have been genned in to blogs and blogging for years.  But for me it is new and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.  No doubt this is the WordPress strategy and it works for me.

And yes I am writing, commenting, “liking,” social networking and stat checking.  But I’m also admiring.

Much Love, Patty

A blogger blogs . . . about blogging

“If you’re going to go off on a tangent, go all the way I always say.

I just started blogging in December.  . . . . “

Today’s new post is a new page, “Blogging about Blogging” which I had so much fun writing and had a big win at the end!  You can read it by going to the banner at the top of this site and find the page title on the black line and click on the page title.

Do you have a blog? Or have you been thinking about starting one?