Sometimes I wonder what Boo, the Queen of Cats, is thinking. What malevolent thoughts lie beneath that innocent looking white furry exterior. Boo is a creature of habit. Structure guides her days with us. When I decide to put my feet up, this is her signal to hop up on me for a look around. Once up, she makes herself comfortable, draping herself along the contours of my body. In her wake she leaves a coating of white fur to remember her by. I am probably her person, if you will, of the two of us. Often I think this is not because of my sparkling repartee but rather I offer a flatter exterior on which she can recline. Rick, as many of his gender, has the build often seen in men as they get a bit older. Two thin arms, two thin legs, and one tummy that enters the room about 5″ prior to the rest of him. Cats are funny creatures. They often chose one individual to lavish their affection on. Fickle by nature you never really know from one day to the next. Once settled on top of me, she gazes adoringly at my face as though a lovelier visage than mine has never graced the cover of Elle magazine. I have to admit it’s a nice feeling being adored. I don’t hate it. Once you pass forty you don’t see that look as often as in your salad days.
It is 2:00 a.m. Boo is lying next to me as she often does when I write in the wee hours. If she tires of having my attention directed at the screen she’ll stretch out a paw to distract me. Mostly we just quietly share space. Normally I sleep well. I do go through periods here and there where my thoughts nudge me awake before it’s time. Quiet this time of night, writing fills the gap until it’s time to get up. If not in a writing mood I’ll pick up a book. I always have several paperbacks lying around. Tongues of bookmarks stick out on end tables as if encouraging me to open them up and catch up on the story line where I left off. Always I’ve been a reader. I would suspect most writers are. It’s the love of words and putting them together urging us to want to pursue them in such a way.
Wherever I am you’ll find me reading something. Sitting in the doctor’s or dentist’s office I catch up on National Geographic or Parent’s, the latter of which has little to offer me at this juncture. Word is you shouldn’t read magazines while waiting to see a doctor. Sick people most likely held them before you pick them up. If I listened to every suggestion made about how to live my life I suppose I’d be hiding in the back of the closet waiting for my last breath to arrive.
As a kid I read Honeybunch stories, The Bobbsey Twins, and my favorite of all Winnie the Pooh. Milne stole my heart before any other man outside of my grandfather had claimed it. To this day Pooh quotes still show up in my writing. Like the following quote, he wrote lovely truths to children and adults which hold steady far beyond the 100 acre woods today.
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
As the years passed I went through all the volumes of Laura Ingalls Wilder, many of the classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Moby Dick, Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. While pregnant with my daughter I read every Earl Stanley Gardner book in print. No wonder she pokes and prods at her life these days exploring every nook and cranny of it.
Habitually, I saturate myself with one author before moving on to the next. Stephen King caught my fancy when I was in my twenties. I read every word he’d written before I hit thirty. He weaves a story with such artistry. To this day I can’t watch Pet Cemetery. The story taken from an incident in his life haunted me so long after I’d read the last page. At times I didn’t think I’d ever be shed of it (pardon the pun). Of the sci-fi or horror writers I like Koontz as well but Clive Barker I can’t read without company close by.
I so admire writers able to impact their audiences year after year. Stories which never lose their charm or become dated. My mother read Green Eggs and Ham to me. I read it to my children, and they to theirs. Tales of the Grinch and the Who’s will carry on I’m sure long after I’m gone, held dear in the minds of children not yet born.
Perhaps one day I’ll sit down and write a novel. Several half-finished volumes lurk in drawers and closets around the house threatening to be completed. Writing keeps me sane at times and provides a release for my thoughts often muddied about in a big tangled knot beneath my blond locks.
It is so good for my heart to know that people stop by for a read. It’s not paramount as I would write anyhow if only for the joy I get from doing so, but it means a lot to me that occasionally others find something in my words as well.
Fall is here and along with it my craving for sweet potatoes. These touched with a kiss of orange were delicious.
Twice Baked Orangey Sweet Potatoes
8 large sweet potatoes (equal in size)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small can mandarin oranges
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub skins of potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt. Prick with fork. Place potatoes in shallow dish and bake for 60-70 minutes, until tender when poked with a fork.
Drain oranges reserving liquid. Place oranges in small food processor and pulse several times quickly.
Cut potatoes in half lengthwise keeping skins in tact. Scoop potato into mixing bowl. Discard 1/2 of the skins. Place four remaining skins in baking dish.
Add butter to potatoes in bowl. Mash with fork. Add 1/3 cup of pureed oranges to mix and 1/3 cup of juice. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper.
Spoon filling back into shells. Top with a small pat of butter. Return to oven for 20 mins.