Tag Archives: writing

Editing

“The Book” is being finished. It is a technical tome that I’ve not read. As a writer and editor I do not like to look at what my husband writes every day because I need a fresh eye to look at it and mark it up. Both of us are concerned not about content but readability and as he is physics/software engineer and I am a soc/psych I’ll be a test reader! Awaiting the day he’s ready.

I love having a blog because I write what I want to write. I do in 15 minutes what he does in five hours. He gave me this blog ten years ago to challenge me, and he did. I was a consultant before he married me and dragged me throughout the country and world so I retired.

At least I got a dog, who is now very old, kind and as my brother would say, “needy.” She’s a herder, what would one expect? Except she was even afraid of baby goats I named Rosa (Parks) and Eleanor (Roosevelt) for strength. Not here, at his parents’ farm where I learned how to feed baby calves. That’s another story.

There is something to be said about marrying someone who is brilliant. I’m smart and can keep up with him on many levels, not physics but in social interaction. I’ve a resume of my own that brought us together for 16 years, married near 15. I’d like to renew our vows near his family home because we eloped and his grandmother would want it. Shhh, don’t tell her! Cheers, Dee

 

Fear

What did I fear most as a kid? I was afraid to be smart. Of course I was set aside as smart with another kid and we got to read real books, in the back of the classroom, years earlier than other students older than me.

I do not know what happened to my reading companion after that but we enjoyed studying different books together at the back of the classroom. We were made May Queen and May King for Mayfest in 2nd grade. That was a degree of notoriety I never intended. Reading and understanding and crying at home reading Death Be Not Proud was not something my fellow students wanted to know or learn. They were learning phonics, and S and I had already known how to read for years. We learned to read early and I taught my sister when she was four. Our parents fought ITA, phonics, for smart kids who were already reading 2+ years ahead.

Sitting in the back of the classroom, the new teacher, first day, would butcher my name.  I’d raise my hand and give them my nickname as they were not smart enough to master my given name. They didn’t care, nor did my parents for giving me the name. I did. I was a little kid with a big name. It was scary to raise my hand from the back of the room and say “call me Dee.” I love it now but still everyone calls me Dee.

They always put me in the front of the class, front of the grades until later when… that comes later.

I was always so shy. I did not raise my hand so was called on and always knew the answer. Now the Olympics are on the television and I got to see bits of W0mens’ gymnastic vaults and uneven bars. This was a passion I’ve had since before you were born. Olga Korbut, Nadia the perfect 10.

When my family moved to a new city it was summer and I was 15. I tried out for the gymnastics team before the season/school and made it. Then I was immediately made captain. I had been at an elite public school (ever seen the movie about the trouncing of my alma mater in football by TC Williams? Ask Denzel Washington about it as we were G.C .Marshall.)

I was a much better captain than gymnast. That’s why I like to think young girls like me made a new sport better by caring about it and trying to do better tricks than Olga Korbut could do in the seventies, and even the first ten Nadia who brought down everything in her brilliance.

Now I don’t even understand the scoring mechanisms and new rules but have loved seeing womens’ vault and uneven bars competitions. They are so beautiful, I could cry.

As a captain there are duties, leadership responsibilities, education. Foremost are inspiration, aspiration (life goals) and I believe there is kindness to others. These are high school kids. I’m captain of a ship my younger sister is on who wants me to fail every moment and this is high school.

It was difficult. I led some elite gymnasts and taught others. I taught one team-mate humility after she wanted to leave the State Finals after her own performance. I said her team was there for her, the best gymnast in our school, all along and we deserved her support until the end of the meet.

In the locker room I said unless she did this for her team, as the captain, she’s off the team as of now and I’ll tell our coach and she’ll tell the judges her captain says she’s off the team immediately and she will not win anything.

Guess who was in the stands cheering her team-mates? She won her award. I finally spoke out. These mates have been cheering you on all season. You have to cheer us on as well. She did it.

I know she did not do it for her team as she didn’t have a team except herself. She wanted the award but her team-mates needed to know she was there for them. I made sure that happened for them, not for her.  No-one knew except me and Coach, as I had to ask if I could strip her of her medal, and I hope this helps our old team and coach, and haunts her even now.

After 11 I need to go to bed because I’ll know what I missed and and have been up for nearly 17 hours because of family duties, tomorrow, friends, cheers from Dee

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Reader,

I was so shy I let bullies be bullies, until my neighbors stood up for me on what school kids called the “retard bus” because it had to traverse 20 miles through the countryside to pick up the farm kids. One might call me a hobby farm kid.

My aunt gave me her vintage 1957 Smith-Corona electric portable typewriter as a high school graduation gift, a gift that took her into teaching English to high school kids. I was the envy of the dorm. Of course this was pre-computer and laptops and everything else.

I was afraid to write, afraid to think or speak my mind, or sing. Writing 500 words was a challenge for me back then. Now I can do it in ten minutes if I know what my mind wants my fingers to type.

Sixth grade, I skipped tryouts after school for choir solos. The next day my teacher asked me to stay after school and look out the window. She played a note on the piano and asked me what it was. I told her. She made me sing a phrase from “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and made me lead off at the concert in front of family, friends and other parents.

I have had the gift of a great family and teachers and friends. Kids, do something that means something to you, it may be music or writing or computer code or math or being a doctor. Don’t bottle it up inside because people think women are inferior and don’t want to hear their thoughts. We are all important in this world. Dee

When at First…

you don’t succeed try, try again. I find it amazing that I ever learned how to cook, went to cooking school, have the recipe collection I consult regularly and write a “foodie” blog and contribute to other sites.

Back in the day my parents gave me an EZ-Bake Oven, yes, the one that cooks with a 120 watt light bulb. There were probably three packets included (what a scam) and the first I chose was pretzels. I ended up with dough-encrusted hands and nothing to show for my efforts. Had I known to add more flour because it may have been humid that day or their measurements were off, I would have corrected the situation. But I was probably six years old.

I never made pretzels again, nor do I wish to do so. But I tried again and after two times with the infernal light bulb machine I graduated, well before age ten, to the real oven and stove.

In college my mother got her first Cuisinart and I looked at Jean Anderson’s recipe for pizza dough and have refined it over 30 years in regard to proportions of dry to wet ingredients, amounts of flour, type of flour (now I only use Italian 00) and judge the amount of water by atmosphere and altitude. Three feet above sea level is much different than 6,400 feet and one must roll with the punches.

These days, I would get a stool with rails and bring an interested child up to counter level and let them do what they were able to do. Stir a batter, taste a Bolognese sauce, measure for a roux, butter and flour a pan for his sister’s birthday cake.

A while ago a family came to visit and we had MYOP (make your own pizza) night where every family member got to roll out their own dough and top it with any of about 18 ingredients I’d also prepped beforehand. The older child wanted plain cheese pizza but the three year-old wanted olives, caramelized onions and garlic. And anchovies. There’s the kid who doesn’t need (sorry) the Fischer-Price toy kitchen, but needs to learn from the source or if her school has a program, use it. Her palate is very sophisticated for a now four year-old. Place her in a school garden program and she’ll go places.

Many things happened at age eight as I went to the library every weekend and learned the importance of reading, kept one book longer than I should have, costing $.31 of my $.50 allowance but my parents bought Betty Crocker’s Boys and Girls Cookbook a few weeks later for my 8th birthday.

I learned to leave unnecessary appliances off the counter (like E-Z Bake) and learn the real stuff, how to host parties – my younger brother had theme parties pre-Kindergarten I organized based on royalty (the Castle cake) and Pirates.

No matter how many culinary errors were made I kept at it and even quit the NYC rat race to spend my life savings on cooking school. Now I cook at home and my husband credits me for making him a “food snob.” When I met him he was living in a man cave with only a 72 oz. Dr. Pepper and individually wrapped string cheese in his frig, with cheese wrappers littering the carpet between the frig and his computer. Now he opines about the difference in mature cheddars.

I kept at it and never gave up. I don’t bake as my siblings are great at that. I cook with my heart and soul and make dishes to make people happy and enjoy good company. I made chicken skewers tonight (hubby grilled them) but the marinade is a mystery to me as I just tossed things in. It was really good, chicken with pineapple, tomato (I had a couple on hand), scallions. Indonesian soy sauce, mirin, a few drops of sesame oil, scallion tops, grated garlic and ginger. Served over Israeli couscous. Good stuff. If I try it a couple more times I might send a recipe along. Oh, you can get sweet soy sauce on Amazon. Amazonazingly,Dee

Typing

There are more ways than one. First is sorting people by type at first glance and making a decision before a word is spoken. Second is the infernal machine called a typewriter, now called some form of computer.

When the typewriter was invented it was surmised that only men could achieve mastery of this device. The pay was high, then the guys got bored and gave the job to women, thus making it a pink collar job with a cut in wages.

When I graduated from high school my dear Aunt L gave me the 1957 portable Smith-Corona typewriter that helped her through college and to become a venerable teacher. It was the first year anyone made a portable electric typewriter and I still have it and move it everywhere we go. It’s very heavy and now goes for $6 on E-Bay but I’m keeping it.

I was the envy of the dorm and after I wrote my paper I lent it out. I should have rented it just to pay for ribbons! Now I can’t even find those. After college graduation I was advised by several prominent women to never let anyone know I could type, lest I be assigned a secretarial role. Sexism. That was before computers.

With a potential book in my head I wonder if I should exchange my keyboard for the old Smith-Corona. I think I’m too prone to computer editing to do so, sorry. I don’t think there’s enough white-out in the world for that debacle.

Typing of another kind comes to mind. If I was asked about family I’d say we are intelligent, some book-smart and some street-smart. While our parents weren’t necessarily progressive, they were tolerant of differences and encouraged us to be so as well. That said, I didn’t meet a black friend until freshman year of high school, or my first gay friend back in grade school but I’d no idea and just protected him from his sister and mine and other students because he was being verbally abused. I didn’t know about such things so had no clue, only that he needed my protection.

I thank my parents for my education in many ways, and tolerance is high on the list. When one is labeled as a gangster, druggie, gay, mentally challenged or called any religious name in a bad way, you get the picture.

In grade school I took the mini-bus. We lived way out in the country (five miles out of town) and our bus picked up all the farm kids. It took a long time so we had to get to our bus stop early. When we pulled into the school all the other kids said we were on the “retard bus.”

One day two boys in a large family of boys took my hat. I was eight years old and stood up in the aisle while they threw my winter hat over my head several times then ripped it in half. As we pulled in I was crying and the lady who made sure all the buses and all the kids arrived safely at school took me aside and took me to see the principal.

The principal made me identify the boys and I did, all the while wondering if I could ever take that bus again, in fear of my life. The next day everything was fine and the F boys never bothered me. My neighbors, two large families with a dairy farm down the hill, were more in number, strength, might and right to make our school bus a model for all to see and I don’t think they even had to throw a punch. They saved me and my little sister. I love farm boys, especially from a dairy. I married a physicist who grew up on a dairy farm.

Now there’s another type or label, farm boy or geek, or both. Perhaps my book should be about this. Gals want the hunk in English class who is getting passing grades because the prof knows he needs to get them to play football next season. I waited a few years and polished the rough edges from a diamond who brings everything to the table and has been my best friend for over 12 years. He once had only Dr. Pepper and individually packaged string cheese in his refrigerator and he now opines on the difference between four-year and five-year cheddar. Yes, I created a food snob.

That person, my dear husband, was not content with my laptop. Over my objections he got me a large monitor, arthritis-friendly mouse, and wireless keyboard. I fought each one and now cannot live without them, or him. Please type on your phone, whatever you do but create something. And please do not judge a person summarily.  In hope of a better world, Dee

I Did It!

The last one was my 2,000th post and I swore to retire. I will miss you, dear reader, for your pithy comments (my aunt made me read the dictionary while using her bathroom, she was an English teacher) and friendship.

How about giving me a well-deserved vacation and I’ll decide whether to resume this, change the name or focus or just keep being Dee. I still have the site and of course I’ll let you know.

I’ve had a wonderful few years hearing from you and reading your blogs and will keep this site open for you to tell me to keep on writing!

Thank you for letting me learn how to write from the heart without fear, express myself, and not be so shy anymore. Thanks for letting me use this site to talk about politics, bullying, family, childhood and dogs as well as cooking.

My husband created this site for me six years ago and I was so scared to write on it, but How To Eat a Concord Grape was my first foray and it’s above and beyond my most popular post, especially in grape season and everyone wants to know whether or not to eat the seeds. I’d say be outdoors, follow my instructions and spit them out.

I am glad to have been useful, perhaps for dinner ideas, insightful thoughts and a little wisdom here and there.

With a blog there’s always something left on your “desk,” and an old friend of my Dad’s once told him: never stay late to clean your desk on a Friday. It’ll give you something to do on Monday. If you clean it all up you may die over the weekend. That is a very bad rendition (mine) of an old Irish proverb.

My desk is messy and I like it that way as it gives me something to think about. Cheers and Thanks, Dee

Writer Dee

I have to do this now as it’ll be my 1,800th post on this blog. I have “met” so many interesting people through this exercise. I thank you for reading and responding.

As a kid, I was very shy and told I was not smart and no-one wants me as a friend. I read voraciously, reading both Death Be Not Proud and The Diary of Anne Frank at age eight, of my own volition.

I never thought that I could write. Yet here I am, writer of now 1,800 blog posts and if the thought comes to me I get up in the middle of the night and do those 500 words in 15 minutes that used to take hours or days.

Of course, I’m writing for you and for me, and enjoy reading your blog and knowing I’m a member of a community that accepts me for who I am. Thanks so much, Dee