In the spirit

Keep Up the Good Work! Inspirational Quotes Qi...

Keep Up the Good Work! Inspirational Quotes Qiqi Emma January 18, 20101 (Photo credit: stevendepolo)

While reading a book this morning, I had kind of an ah-ha moment. The book is about a successful author (albeit an unintentional success) who is now writing his memoirs and facing the parts of his life that he’s kept hidden for twenty years…hidden from the world as well as from himself.

He is a spiritual man who does good works, helping people in poverty make their lives better. When he’s unfairly attacked in the media, he has to figure out how to deal with the attention without harming the foundation he works for. There were things that occurred in his younger days that cause him shame…even twenty years later.

Anyhow, I haven’t finished the book and that’s not really even what this post is about. As I was reading, it struck me how we’ve all done or said things that we’re not proud of, things that we would go back and change if only it were possible. Okay, that’s nothing original, right? We’ve all had those thoughts. It’s part of growing up, part of reviewing your life, part of becoming a better person.

But what hit me between the eyes was my thought about how I tend to judge people because they fall short of their professed spiritual beliefs. As I reread that one sentence, my eyes are tingling as I try to fight back the tears. I think of my own spiritual beliefs, how I believe we should do all that we can to help those who are less fortunate, not blame them for their poverty. Or how I think we should show love and compassion to all we meet in our every day lives. And of how we shouldn’t judge others for their failings.

Do I fall short in living up to these beliefs of mine?  Oh my goodness, yes, I do.  Woefully short.  I very rarely do any meaningful volunteer work.  I often ignore the people who are standing on the corner asking for money, thinking to myself…’why don’t they get a job?  I have to work every day, why can’t they?  There are all kinds of places that are hiring.’  Frequently, when someone is rude to me, I don’t answer their rudeness with compassion.  I often take offense, wondering why they’re treating me like that, rather than wondering what’s gone wrong in their day to cause them to feel the need to lash out at other people.  And judging?  Guilty.  I admit it.  When I hear the way people, who claim to be Christians, are hateful or spiteful or mean, I judge them…I judge them for not behaving the way I believe a Christian should behave, for falling short, for not being good enough (I was going to write the word “perfect” there, but I realized it’s not even the lack of perfection that bothers me, it’s the not being good enough.).

And yet…here I am, examining myself…finding myself guilty of the same behaviors for which I condemn others.  How’s that for an ah-ha moment?  Maybe it really is true that we hate in others what we hate the most in ourselves.  Now the question arises…what are you going to do about it?

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Wood burning brick pizza oven

English: A wood-burning pizza oven baking pizz...

English: A wood-burning pizza oven baking pizzas at Maurizio’s Pasta-Pasta at Brunckstraße 8 in Speyer, Germany. Deutsch: Traditioneller Pizza-Ofen mit Holzbefeuerung, aufgenommen in Maurizios Pasta Pasta, Speyer Español: Horno de leña tradicional para pizzas Italiano: Un forno a legna Svenska: Vedeldad pizzaugn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who know me, you know I owned a little pizza shop for several years. While the oven we used was a gas oven, it did have a brick (stone) floor. You really need that to make a great pizza. Right now, when I make my own pizza at home, I have to settle for using a pizza stone. A lot better than using a pan, but still not even close to what a brick oven can do for your pizza.

Imagine my delight when I was browsing Amazon’s Kindle books the other day and came across a free e-book, How To Build A Kick-Ass Wood-Fired Pizza Oven by Dylan De Luca. The book gives you some basic instructions to build, you guessed it, a wood-fired oven. The author explained that they ended up doing a lot of research and then combining various bits of DIY info to come up with an oven that worked in the space they had and for the purposes they needed. There are lots of pictures detailing the different stages of construction and even hints about making a great pizza crust (because, really, a great pizza depends on a great crust).

Just to make sure we’re all on the same page here, this is an oven that you build outside. So it will be exposed to the elements unless you build some kind of cover for it. But I can just picture this sitting on the far side of a brick patio-type area in back of my future tiny abode. When I get it done, everyone’s invited over for a pizza party!

Sleepless in B’town

Okay…I agree, not as catchy as sleepless in Seattle…but I’m at home in Bloomington and have been sleepless since a little after 3 am.  I laid in bed reading books (yes, books, plural) on my Kindle, with Spook snuggled up next to me.  It sounds sweet and picturesque, doesn’t it?  The truth of it is that Spook was sleeping peacefully, while I was in pain.  But really, how could I move to try to find a more comfortable position when she was zonked out beside me, her head resting on my shoulder?  Huh?  I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t start tossing and turning and wake her up.  Ah…the things we go through for our pets.

Anyhow, I’ve been reading books on self publishing, publishing e-books on Kindle, and starting a website.  The website seems the least daunting of the three.  Probably because I’ve been blogging for a couple of years and am at least somewhat familiar with making that transition.  But the self-publishing?  Wow!  Seems like there’s a lot involved in that.  And I’ve read some e-books that were obviously self-published…probably without anyone taking the time to edit, or even proofread, them.  I wouldn’t want any book I wrote riddled with mistakes.  I did discover that you can go back in to edit and update your e-book if you use Amazon’s KDP (Kindle direct publishing)…kind of makes me question whether or not these other authors reread their books.  KDP also allows you to run promotions for your book.  A few interesting tidbits there.

Apparently you have to format your manuscript for Kindle too.  Just to give you an idea of how much I don’t know, that’s something that wouldn’t have occurred to me prior to reading these books, although having seen the messes that some authors have published, I should have been aware of that fact.  I have downloaded the free publishing books that Amazon provides, so it seems like I have a lot more reading (and learning) ahead of me before I even attempt to publish one of my books that way.

kindle 003

I have a few (okay, a lot of) questions for you already published authors out there…e-books? Traditional publishing houses?  Self-publishing?  What are your experiences with any or all of these publishing methods?

Just peachy

English: Autumn Red peach. Français : Pêches E...

English: Autumn Red peach. Français : Pêches Español: Durazno cortado por la mitad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know about you all, but I love, absolutely adore, fresh peaches.  Now I’m not talking about those little hard things you can buy at the grocery store.  Nope.  I’m talking about  those huge, tree-ripened, juicy peaches that you can only find for a short time every summer.  And now’s the time.

I’m not-so-patiently waiting for Greg to bring me some from Huber’s Orchard.  He told me he would.  Oh, how I hope he does.  I can just about taste that sweet burst of peachiness as you take a big bite and then have to laugh because the juice dribbles down your chin.  Maybe tomorrow…I hope tomorrow.  If not?  Well, I do have a bit of a contingency plan.   There’s a little orchard on the west side of Bloomington…not too far from where I work.  I can always swing by there after work and pick up a peck of perfectly plump peaches.

The window is open for such a short stretch of time…better get ’em  while the gettin’s good!

Her name is Claire

The little neighbor girl who typically greets me when I get home from work in the evening is named Claire.  As unpopular as this is to say, I’m going to say it anyhow.  I’m not a huge fan of children.  Oh sure, I love the kids in my family…the ones who are children now and the ones who used to be kids and have moved on into adulthood.  I’ll always love them and want to spend time with them, remember funny things they’ve done or said, look at pictures and ooh and ah over them.

But other kids?  You know, those loud, uncontrolled, little trouble makers?  Yeah, those are the ones I don’t really like to spend a lot of time around.  They make a lot of noise and mess with my things.  And their parents just laugh and talk about how adorable they are.  I’ve come to the conclusion that most parents think everyone else sees their kids the same way they do, as little darling angels, the most intelligent beings ever to walk the face of the earth, more beautiful than any other child ever born.  When, for most of us, that’s not quite how it is.

Then comes Claire quietly sneaking into my life, her little arm wrapped around my porch post, softly asking me what my kitties have been doing all day while I’ve been at work.  When I told her they’d probably been sleeping most of the day, she softly asked, “‘Cause they get tired?”  I had to think about that for a second.  I don’t think Spook and Scout do much of anything to make them get tired, but who knows how a little kid’s mind works?  I finally answered her question, “Yeah, they were probably worn out from watching the birds all day.”  Claire solemnly nodded as if I’d imparted words of wisdom.

Looking up at me through thick lashes, Claire asked the question I’m sure she’d been wanting to ask for days, “Can I pet your kitties?”  Uh oh…my cats aren’t used to children…at all.  I never let them go out into the big, scary world where there are lots of dangerous things just waiting to kill innocent little kitties.  But…there was Claire…wistfully waiting for my answer.  And, before I could stop myself, the words tumbled from my mouth, “Let me see if I can catch one of them…”

Seriously, Patti?  You’re going to let a little girl kidhandle one of your babies?  Apparently so.  I gathered Scout up, thinking she’d be less afraid than Spook would be.  I failed to take into account how big Scout is.  Or that other kids would see Claire petting her and make a beeline to my porch.  That’s when Scout started getting nervous.  I got a nice little scratch on my arm for my efforts, but Claire really enjoyed petting the kitty and commented on her brown eyes.  I finally took Scout back inside and scooped up Spook (against my better judgment).  Imagine my surprise when Spook allowed all of the kids to pet her and fuss over her.

I’ve never seen Claire smile, but she almost did when she was petting Spook.  She kept talking about how green her eyes were and how soft she was.  I know she wanted to take her into her arms, but I didn’t think that was quite the thing to do, not for Spook or for Claire.  And to see that half-smile on Claire’s face made my day.

I guess I have a new little friend.  Her name is Claire.

Spook, my little laundress

Spook, my little laundress

Downsizing?

English: Author: Bill Wight

English: Author: Bill Wight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t get it out of my mind.  I’m constantly researching tiny homes and RV living.  I’m in the mood to get rid of most of my “stuff” and live a simpler life.  Of course, I still absolutely must have internet access…TV?  Don’t really care about that (well, if I can manage to find a way to watch my Indiana Hoosiers play online).

I’ve been looking at some of those teeny tiny homes that can even be built on wheels so you can just get up and go whenever you feel like it (even saw one with a kitty cage so your cats can enjoy the outdoors…no, no…not when you’re driving down the highway!  What?!  You would dare to compare me to the Romney family?)  They’re built with a lot of compact storage space, using every inch.  And they have the look of home…nice wood, you can decorate however you like.   But…and you had to know there would be a but, didn’t you?  But, they’re awfully expensive for such a tiny abode…seriously, I could buy an old, small home in my former hometown for the cost of some of these little houses.

So then I start looking at tiny motorhomes.  Granted, they look like motorhomes…and they’re not insulated all that well.  Of course, if I went south for the winter and north for the summer, how much would that really matter?  I’ve seen some on pinterest that have been done up mighty cute…I can imagine myself making little curtains for the little windows and matching cushions for the seating.  Just think about being able to mosey on down the road, taking your home with you, seeing the sights, visiting friends all over the place.  I could spend my mornings writing, then travel if I felt like it.   Or I could stay put for a while if that happened to appeal to me.

Of course, I still have a few more years to work…but it’s never too early to start thinking about the next exciting phase of your life, right?  What’s that?  I hear the soft swooshing of tires along a back country road calling my name…I’m coming…I’m coming!

Home of Gus Grissom

Virgil Gus Grissom

Virgil Gus Grissom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Gemini 3, Grissom Memorial, Spring Mi...

English: Gemini 3, Grissom Memorial, Spring Mill State Park, Mitchell, IN (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aww…come on, people.  I thought for sure some of you crack-pot bloggers would have caught the fact that the picture in yesterday’s post was of Gus Grissom’s boyhood home.  (Those of you from Europe are excused)  How disappointing that you didn’t.  Yes, I am from the same hometown as the astronaut, Virgil “Gus” Grissom.  I even bought some furniture that his father refinished.

That’s our town’s claim to fame…a hometown hero.  If you’re unaware of Gus Grissom, well…google him…do it right now.