I should be writing. Instead…hero worship.

unknown leonardo book

I was cruising the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Saturday and my wife held up this treasure.

A 10″ x 13″ 300-page tome on da Vinci to add to my ‘Leonardo Library’.

$2.50.

Major score.

So much more gratifying–for the time being–than rambling endlessly. [Well, other than this endless rambling.]

I have a shelves of books that need to be thinned, but the Leonardo Library is untouchable.

Last summer’s visit to the Machines in Motion exhibit at the Aerospace Museum of California last summer did little for my writing projects, but was another feather in my procrastinator’s cap.

leonardo flying machine copy

 

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I should be writing. Instead…reading obituaries.

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I think I first got the idea from Austin Kleon in his book, Show Your Work.

Here’s a short piece from him on the topic:  http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/24956947198

In his book, he talks about how it inspires him to get a move on. They are good reminders of how short our time on earth really is and that we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Amen to that.

It always makes me think back to a neighborhood stroll a few years back. A guardian angel** [trust me on this] slowed me down a half-step as I approached a tall hedge that reached out toward the sidewalk.

If I hadn’t paused for that extra moment, I would have been road kill, courtesy of a driver who was blindly backing out his SUV at breakneck speed.

Did that moment launch me into a whole new existence? Did I stop and smell every rose along the way?

Nope. I should have and should continue to do so, but real life intervenes.

In his book, Kleon talks of Tim Kreider, who for the year following his own brush with death, did appreciate his second chance, but fell back into what he called ‘the busywork of living’.

So, a quick look at the obits not only reminds me of my tenuous existence, but it tells me I, like Austin, have projects to finish and good deeds to perform. No, my name won’t be spread across a marquee, but, now in my 60’s, it feels more and more as if part of every day should be spent making some kind of difference.

Back to the obituaries:

  • the co-creator of what became the world’s longest running musical
  • a ballet star whose career was derailed by a spinal tumor
  • a man who collected 75,000 volumes of English language poetry
  • a researcher who saved many from fatal cardiac disorders.

The question arises: What will I do? What do I care to do? Is it enough to try to be a solid family member, someone who values serving others more than picking up a larger check, a guy who would just as soon…well, that brought to mind the next question:

If I could wave a magic wand, what would I change in the world? What would I want mentioned in my obituary?

Assuming that ending famine, eradicating disease, and forging world peace were beyond my reach, I would:

1. build a massive college/trade school tuition fund for those kids who are otherwise saddled with crippling debt in the face of an uncertain job market.

2. finance construction of comfortable animal shelters and pay living wages for those who run them.

3. create an all-purpose recyclable plastic that replaces all the other types and obviates the nagging ‘does Waste Management take this?’ question.

4. provide accessible and abundant water supplies for those whose daily lives are reduced to traveling for hours for just enough to make it through the next 24 hours. [That Stella Artois commercial during the Super Bowl really got to me, as well as its longer version.]

5. raise money to preserve our national parks, reserves, and refuges.

6. build a foster-care support system that can fill the gaps and provide stability for the current overburdened system and its clients.

Time out! After I’d scheduled this post, I ran across this story and I want my obit to feature something like what this officer did…

So, will I do all this? Of course not, but putting this in words might nudge me forward to at least do my part.

And so, here I sit on a Friday night, not an inch nearer to finishing my current projects, but some worthy rumination just the same.

Such is the power of procrastination.


Note: Talk about procrastination. I wrote this post’s draft a month ago, but the seriousness of it didn’t fit with my usual approach and it felt stilted. Basically, it was more difficult to write and it needed time to sit. The time away from it helped. It’s not an award-winner [see point #1 from this post], but it’s done.

 

 

I should be writing. Instead…butternut squash soup.

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In keeping with the whole ‘putting off till later’ theme, here is some breaking news: Merriam-Webster’s thesaurus doesn’t grok the word procrastinate.

Moving on…

I had gained so much procrastinative ** momentum from my earlier foray into non-productivity that I sauntered into the kitchen. Imagine that.

Shockingly, I chose to cook healthy.

I had no intention of opening a cookbook, of course.

I chunked up the squash the day before, knowing full well how exhausting it would be to both prep the squash AND cook it all in one fell swoop. Pretty obvious that I’m not into swoops–energy requirements too steep.

I heated up some olive oil, sprinkled in some za’atar, 21-Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s, salt, and pepper for a quick blooming, added chicken broth, and then the squash. That reminds me. It might need a dash of white wine.

butternut squash soup
the ‘before’ photo. 

After a severe pummeling with the hand blender, I might finish it with a little milk and then sprinkle some grated Asiago cheese into each serving.

Turns out I didn’t bother with either the milk or the Asiago. Plenty of flavor to stand on its own. It doesn’t mean I won’t try them with the leftovers, however.

While I didn’t use a recipe, if you stayed with me this long, you deserve one to consider. I like the idea of adding some ginger to the mix.

Thanks for reading. Go make some soup. On your own. No cookbook. If I can do it, so can you.


**Yep, it’s a word. No way did I think so when it flew off my fingers onto the keyboard.

 

 

I should be writing. Instead…solarizing.

afternoon coffee

Hanging in the backyard on the first ‘warm’ day of the year. Creeping close to 70. A classic opening to daylight savings, I would say.

Warm enough for shirt sleeves at 4 in the afternoon. I’m enjoying a 20-minute session with The Wizard of Ads by Roy Williams. He’s an accomplished copywriter, but I read his books for his real life and practical wisdom.

But the weather is too nice to get fired up for a massive word-churn. Better to stretch out and listen to the medley of neighbor-dogs announcing their presence, a single-engine plane overhead, and the Celtic strings of Greenfire .

Besides, there’s more procrastination in the coming moments…

 

I should be writing. Instead…eavesdropping.

Having already done my daily 500 words…I thought I would do a little experimenting.

I’m not sure what I just did for the last 30 minutes counts as writing per se, but it was a great exercise. I was watching a favorite TV show [I even had the coffee nearby.] and decided to eavesdrop on and–with laptop fired up—furiously type up as much of the characters’ dialogue as possible. Potentially rich material for future work, and if not, just plain fun. It sheds a different light on a TV show and one’s writing. It gave me tons of writing prompts, as well.

Give it a try for a change of pace and a mental jostling.

I should be writing. Instead…the farmer’s market.

I should be writing. Farmers Market 2

I know what you’re thinking…that *is* a lot of arrows. 
And I now know what you’re thinking, and yes, I can still fit through a standard doorway.

A few answers:

  1. No, we don’t eat that all at once.
  2. Yes, I did beg the Salvadoran ladies to move in with us and cook.
  3. No, I didn’t offer them the deed to our house.
  4. Yes, I would have compromised and let them deliver their food daily.
  5. Yes, it takes us multiple seatings through the week to finish all this.
  6. Yes, we do have regular health checkups.
  7. No, I generally don’t feel like editing or revising my work after enjoying these treats.

Sourdough biscuits…and more

Continued from previous post

So what made me think the starter was ready to go?

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I’m not the brightest LED around [boy, did. compact fluorescents disappear overnight or what?], but, as the photo suggests, things seemed plenty alive.

And when it’s biscuit time in the kitchen, I rarely limit myself to one version.

I slapped wads** of sourdough starter into separate bowls. I took a look. Nope, I thought. That just wasn’t enough to make a difference in either batch, so I pivoted. [Pivoted…that’s one of those hot self-help terms, along with lean in, mindset and grit. Impressively hip of me, don’t you think?]
The cheese-and-za’atar version got all the starter.

Any other twists?
Why yes, as a matter of fact. I slapped in a more flavorful fat– bacon grease from the fridge. A little bit more than a tablespoon. Figured it would add a little smokiness. Considering each biscuit contained about 1/8 tablespoon, I didn’t think it would warrant a call to the cardiologist.

Moving on to the other half of the dough…Operation: Bisquettes!

bisquettes

These little hummers [raisin-and-chopped almond] added a touch of sweetness to their savory counterparts. And I was all in on the cuteness quotient as well. Okay, not so much. But I did aim for ‘popability’. You know, the ol’ ‘when you can’t eat just one’ factor.

And then there’s the traditional ‘rogue’ biscuit…

mini biscuit for b and b

This one is in honor of my past canine supervisors/kitchen islands, Boo and Bear. I’d scrape up any dough remains, sculpt a little treat like this, and squeeze it onto the tray.

There was the issue of both batches needing a little extra time to give off a little color, despite my brushing some half-and-half on the tops.
But I knew how to handle that.
“Brown, you suckers!”
My wife, stationed by the oven door, primed and ready with knife, plate of butter, suggested the recipe might have called for 450 degrees.
“Yeah…the recipe,” I said.
It’s gotten to that point with biscuits–as long as I can feel my way toward a proper wet-to-dry and flour-to-fat ratio, I’m pretty sure the result won’t disappoint.

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These bisquettes still needed another five minutes in the oven.

Speaking of ratios, if you want a dependable one for biscuits, check out Michael Ruhlman, who just so happens to have authored a book called Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking .

And so, the carb-fest continued and any trace of guilt drifted away with the first few bites. The honey, melting butter, and Italian roast didn’t hurt the cause either.

Next time: Paint melted butter on the tops. Another couple of teaspoons of bacon grease. More cheese, probably parmesan.

So, give biscuits a shot, but promise me you’ll aim for innovation. That’s half the fun of procrastination, after all.


**wad = palmful

 

The Journey Begins

In my other blog, some of my posts drifted from writing about writing to writing about not writing.

Procrastination…if not always rewarding, if well played, fun.

And most of those posts found me drifting into the kitchen.

Since smarter social media folks suggest bloggers narrow their focus, I decided to aim for the topic of writing avoidance. I can almost hear the resounding mass of readers clicking and tapping in this direction.

I hope you find something here that is either entertaining or familiar…or both.

Thanks for joining me!

 

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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