Monday, December 5, 2022

How new recipes are born




                Finding myself in need of desserts for two events, rather than take down (sigh) my cookbooks (sigh) and leaf through each one (sigh), I googled “Desserts from a cake mix”. I scrolled through the list until I found one for which I had all the ingredients, Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix Cookies.

                One box cake mix, 2 eggs, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice. What could be easier? Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Saving one teaspoon pumpkin spice for later, I mixed all ingredients with a hand mixer. (Sigh) The dough was extremely thick; so thick I couldn’t get it to release the beaters. So I washed my hands, then manually (hand-ually?) managed to get all the dough from them.

                Then I was supposed to break the dough into balls, roll them in a mix of sugar and the rest of the pumpkin spice. Deciding I had a better idea, and using my strongest Pampered Chef rubber scraper, I coaxed the glob of dough onto the parchment paper. Oh, I forgot to tell you. When I went for the pumpkin spice in the spice cabinet, I found it, yes, but there was only a smidgen left. What to do? I didn’t want to go to the store. Aha! How about apple pie spice? Pulled it down; there was enough, so I added the bit of pumpkin spice to the apple spice—all good.

                Now, how to get the blob of dough into cookie thinness? Powdered sugar to the rescue! And I was able to push it down to the edges of the paper. No cookies, but how about bars? The oven had been ready for quite a while, so I added enough more powdered sugar to cover the dough then sprinkled the spice liberally (forget teaspoons) over the flattened dough and stuck them into the dark, hot shelf.

                Ten minutes was the given time for cookies, but they cooked for 20 minutes before the edges browned. Cut into inch squares with the pizza cutter, layered in a large tin and a large glass plate, they cooled, then went into the fridge. The best things I’ve ever tasted!


c 2022, PL, dba lovepat press Benton AR USA

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving ala the alphabet



                Some time ago I wrote about being thankful for things beginning with each letter of the alphabet. Let me do the same thing for today’s world/ nation/ state/ county/ community/ home.

                A – America, of course, the first word that comes to mind. Americans must act out of a love for country and all who dwell therein and the world and its millions.

                B – Bees, for without them, experts say, our food supply will dwindle into nothing we’ve even thought about.

                C – Climate. We’re warned that before it’s too late, to stifle killer emissions and to ‘go green’. And I’ve just bought a new riding lawn mower, alas.

                D – Dictionaries, one of which I turn to a page per letter skimming until I find something I’m thankful for. I’m thankful to BBF Dot for giving me the one I use often.

                E – Environment: air, water, earth. May we be thankful enough to guard it wisely.

                F – Flowers, easy to grow, pleasing to the eye and to the environment, examples of dying only to live again in another time.

                G – Good Samaritans who see needs and attend to them with no thought of recompense.

                H – Hope—sometimes the only thing that seems to be left in certain situations of illness, death, destruction, obstruction or leaving your first-born at college as a freshman.

                I – Introspection, looking inward, naming emotions, wondering about things.

                J – Jocularity—joking; full of fun – A phrase often used by our last choir director, as in “Too much jocularity!” when we get off task.

                K – kinfolk or kinfolks—cherished (or not) family, relatives, especially during Thanksgiving.

                L – Linemen who keep our electricity flowing during hurricanes, floods and other bad weather.

                M – Michael Gerson, columnist, who died at age 58 of cancer and whose writings won over his readers.

                N – Nature, in all its meanings, especially the physical universe and its forces.

                O – Oxygen, especially bottled oxygen for those with breathing issues.

                P – Police officers. Oh, Lord, keep watch over them during these tumultuous times.

                Q – Quests: may we always be on one or another.

                R – Renewal—in all ways possible: personal, national, natural resources, recycling.

                S – Seasons of the year: spring, summer, fall, winter, each with its own story and glory.

                T – Traditions, such as Thanksgiving get-togethers.

                U – Unity—something to strive toward in matters of importance.

                V – Vision to see beyond our own narrow interests to those of the larger community, nation and world.

                W -- Writers, poets and philosophers who share their experiences with the rest of us.

                X – X-rays. They might discover problems that can be treated.

                Y – Yesterdays and the thoughts thereof that sometimes force us into something better.

                Z – Zinnias, those colorful annuals that defy death until the deadliest freeze.


Happy Thanksgiving. Giving thanks happily. Thanks for giving happily.


c 2022, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Two new roofs! And a near-empty piggy bank

                               RESAWN SHAKES - Not my house, but the same color/texture shingles

Wednesday: Email from Pat to Dot: . . . BTW, the shingles for the new roof just arrived and the work will be done—done! tomorrow. And I’ll be thousands of dollars poorer. But won’t the house and shed look wonderful???

Wednesday: Second email from Pat to Dot: The crew begins work outside my bedroom windows at seven in the morning. I’ve set the alarm for six. I wonder if I’ll be able to nap tomorrow—somewhere, either the living room sofa or Billy’s room, or where? The boss came by tonight with the contract and left with my check for half the job. I’m anticipating extra charges for rotted wood in places on both the house and the shed. But, yes, no more leaks on my watch.

Thursday morning: Third email from Pat to Dot: Just now went out to take phone photos and found tarpaper and shingles in my front and side flower beds—hydrangeas beat down—one broke off. I got into the beds and then one of the crew came to assist. Also got into my front beds and he came behind me and found more stuff. The boss had told me they would put down tarps. But they didn’t cover the beds, alas. I promised son Eric I’d stay outta their way but when my plants are in trouble, out I go. Neither Gabby, the bilingual woman, nor the boss, is around. On the other side of the house, the iris, and yarrow (in the patio) were weighted down with the same debris. I got outta there right before the roofer threw down pieces of rotted wood. Guess I’ll stay inside now.

Thursday, 6 p.m. Email to son Eric: New roof is on both buildings . . . but they are the “resawn shakes.” S. said hardly anyone uses the white ones any more as they are susceptible to black lines (?) after minor wear. S. had to buy 5-6 sheets of “decking” (plywood) for the shed. It looked like the entire overhang was replaced.

                Their air compressor is still running, and the cords are still attached to the front porch outlet. They took down the shepherds’ hooks and only put one back. I had to tell the guy with the magnetic nail sweeper by gestures that I backed the car beside the tree and pulled out around, and would he magnetize the route. He did. I went to the curve of the old driveway to retrieve a piece of packaging and found a large sliver of rotted wood closer in. The wind was pretty blowsy at times.

                 I napped on the sofa with the ceiling fan on high speed. I did sleep, even with the pinging of the nailing going on. Pulled a throw from the cedar chest for cover. Even kept my shoes and socks on. Guess I was tired, huh?

Email to son Eric, Thursday 7:30 p.m.: I’ve either misplaced or lost the mattock and the shears that were on top of the trash bin earlier. The shears disappeared first, then the mattock. I called myself emptying the bin down to what I’d just put in from the wagon. Didn’t see it. Might check again tomorrow. But they’d knocked over the tricycle by the abelia and everything was on the ground.

                I’ve a bunch of complaints tomorrow when S. asks for extra $$. Don’t know if the workers finished or just quit for the day. S. will have to order some special siding for up under the north dormer. He & Jeff looked in the shed at the stored siding, but didn’t see any like they needed. Wonder if the crew will be back in the morning.

                They finished up and I paid two-grand-plus extra. Whew and sigh.

c 2022 PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Who’s that on my roof? Why are they there?


 It’s too early for Santa Claus. Besides, the chimney sports a metal cap. And reindeer couldn’t find a landing place with all the dormers and other protuberances. It’s not son Eric, not until he gets around to cleaning the gutters, which means he hauls over a ladder in his truck.

                Oh, now I get it. During the last blowsy rain we experienced, a tiny crack in my bedroom ceiling opened just enough for drops of rain to fall onto decorative pillows resting on a wheeled cart behind the bed. I mused sleepily that it was dripping down the outside and hitting the concrete window- sill. Wrong! I reached over and felt wetness. Rising, I moved the barely wet pillows to another corner, brought in a thick bath towel, folded it into thirds to also muffle the sound, and went back to sleep.

                When Eric heard about it, he said, “Mom . . “  He pulled the word out into two syllables dropping off at the end. “You’ve GOT to have a new roof!” He was here after bringing the new Pony riding mower. So he directed me (he’ll be 60 in December) to my laptop. “Look up Better Business Bureau.” Done. “Roofers.” Done. “Benton, Bryant.” Done. A list of A+ companies appeared. I wrote down the top three’s telephone numbers, then went to “Hot Springs” and found a fourth one who does business up here also.

                The next morning, I began . . . I actually BEGAN calling the numbers in a timely fashion. The first number’s answer was a gravelly male voice saying leave a message, but his voicemail was not available I was told. Mark that one off.

                Next number, success. The roofer and a helper came quickly, asked where the leak was, put the ladder up at the place, and both of the guys went up. I worked in the yard and noticed them from where I was. He promised to have an estimate on email by day’s end. And he did.

                Son says, “Get at least one more estimate,” so on a Friday, I called the other two numbers and left messages. Monday, they both called. One came immediately and I told the fourth one I couldn’t see them until Thursday or Friday. They neither called back or came, so they’re out of the running.

                Second fellow and helper—with their ladder—ascended with a notebook and a tape measure.  He had asked about roofing the shed, too, and I acquiesced. When they finished, the owner came to me and said he’d get an estimate by that night, which he did. His estimate included all the concerns of son Eric. He got the job. Friday night, he left a color shingle booklet to choose from. I gave son Eric, again, via email, the particulars so he could look at the same thing online from his home.

                We both liked the same two colors, so I texted the hired roofer and told him our decision. This past Monday, he ordered the shingles. Now, if they have arrived, I will have signed a contract and forked over half the total payment. Next week at this time, this 88-year-old house will sport a new roof, the first I will have seen in at least three decades.

                As one of my friends said after he’d planned a flight to a Key West Literary workshop, his piggy bank had a low balance. After this new roof, so will mine. But no more leaky ceilings.

c 2022 PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Editor’s porch swing story opened a vein


 I was glad to read that the SOUTHERN STANDARD's editor shared his memorable experiences on his kin’s porch swing. And that his newspaper office in Amity has one now. As long as I can remember, we, too, had a porch swing, and there is still one here. When a boyfriend brought me home from a date, we sat in the swing for a while. If we stopped swinging—it creaked—Dad would throw a shoe at the door to let us know they were close by. Of course, they knew things that we didn’t and didn’t do more than 

kiss, if even that. 

When I moved back to this house in 2006, for a housewarming gift, my late brother, Bill, brought a swing and a rocker. After sixteen years, they are still in prime shape, except the maroon spray paint to match the bricks on the house fa├žade has faded. They need a new coat. The original swing—original to me, at least—had been “sat out” and after repair, was attached to an old swing set in the yard. I don’t recall what happened to that one unless it rotted away and was burned.

                I sit out daily, usually with the two puzzles from the state and local papers and with the pad of daily New York Times crosswords that son Gordon gave me for Christmas last year. I take a pen AND a pencil (I might have to guess at a few answers at first), plus a journal—in case something strikes my fancy, and I can glean a poem from it. I use an overturned plastic planter as a footstool and a thick pillow for a writing surface.

                Right behind the swing, which is on the north side of the long porch, are fifty-five-year-old hydrangeas Mom and Dad received and planted after the untimely death of a young daughter.  Since then, I’ve enlarged the area and planted cone flowers, daisies, variegated (non-vining) monkey grass, Lily-of-the-Valley bulbs, mini nandinas, irises and rose campion that I used to call Lamb’s Ear.

Also, at the northeast corner of the house is a holly tree that holds a mockingbird’s nest. She “speaks” to me—loudly at times—as if to say, “You’re too close; why don’t you move to the rocker?”

A high school friend who visited last year said, “If I lived here (or had a swing) I’d sit out all day.” She was exaggerating, of course, but I understand her feeling.

    The view southeast from the swing lets me see down the road a ways, the south yard “fenced” with rounds of a discarded telephone pole, interrupted now and then by an ancient redbud tree, a Ligustrum (a citified privet) that I planted which is now as high as the redbud, and common and pestiferous privet that seems to grow, like kudzu, overnight. Closer, irises and drift roses, plus a few shrubs from earlier times outline the southeast yard’s barrier of concrete blocks. Originally the delineation between the lawn and the driveway, it’s now a mossy green space with irises on three sides.

I agree with Editor May: more folks should have porch swings. 

c 2022, PL dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA  

Friday, May 6, 2022

Epistolary news to my writer friend


WE HAVEN’T TALKED IN A WHILE: This has been—so far—an unusual week. Tues. was writers group. We missed you. While we were prepping to go out for lunch, Nita got a call that her mother’s house had been broken into and ransacked. While she was talking with her sister, we cleaned up the table, put away the crackers,  etc. N. decided she’d better not leave the house. Her sister had called the police or sheriff and she wanted to not have to interrupt our lunch.

                We decided to ask L., a neighbor in the subdivision, who is a poet and writer to join the group. We have poets meeting Saturday, so I’ll broach the subject with her.

                Leeny and I decided not to eat out either, but came straight home. Guess I got a nap that afternoon, but Wednesday morning was rainy and stormy and I was involved in a good dream, so I slept in—till 11 am! First time I EVER remember doing that! No nap on Wednesday, but a 10 pm bedtime.

                This morning (Thurs) I was back on schedule, I suppose; arose right at 8. At 3 pm, E.’s coming up to take me again to sign the amendments to my Trust papers. So no nap today; another 10 pm bedtime (I usually stay up till 11:30 or midnight.)

                Earlier this morning, I de-grassed the marble-rock patio and planted 4 dianthus at the edge between the hanging baskets of begonia and airplane plant. Still have 16 more such plants to put around the front and perhaps in the concrete blocks along the old driveway. I bought a flat at Lowe’s the first trip to the lawyer (E. took me to be another set of ears) on Mar. 17. I’ve kept them watered since then and the ground is wet (DUH) so they should make it.

                Am giving myself time to re-dress before E. comes, but I don’t want to again get my hands/fingernails dirty by working out before our appointment. Instead, I’ll continue reading CALLIOPE. I refuse to read alien/fantasy/speculative stories, so I’ll get finished sooner than later.

                How many pieces are you sending to the contest? I’m proud that L.’s getting into the competition arena with both feet! Success ‘ll do that to one, right??

    Love, Penny


c PL, dba lovepat press, Benton AR USA

                Eager to hear of your Easter and post-Easter activities. Love, Penny