in the mood

It is not the quantity of the meat, but the cheerfulness of the guests, which makes the feast. -- Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon

It's been an uphill sort of writing day, and my brain feels like so much rubber. My poor little protagonist! If her writer keeps getting stalled out like this, she won't get very far, and certainly not very fast.

I should teach her to knit. At least she'd have something to do.

So, in between paragraphs of inspiring prose, I've been staring out the window at the sun cutting across our lawn. It's one of those very summery afternoons, the sort that reminds you of sidewalk chalk and freeze pops and picking burrs out of your socks.

None of which are in my novel. (Sidewalk chalk. That could add an interesting touch.)

Unsurprisingly, I've been thinking about all the things I'd do if I weren't writing right now. Things like

1. snagging another cherry lollipop. Cherry lollipop + funny sunglasses = a good enough reason to leave the desk.

2. going to the beach. Not that we have a beach in southern Illinois... but I feel homesick for a beach nevertheless. I wouldn't need much sun or time to swim--I just want to listen to the waves. Yes. I could listen to the crashing of waves for a very long time.

3. If I can't get a beach, I think I'd like a storm. A blizzard would be nice, to cool us off, but I'd settle for anything windy and a little dangerous. Ooh. With a mystery novel at my side. And another mug of coffee.

4. That naturally makes me think of browsing a used bookstore. Which is another way of saying going on a treasure hunt. Used bookstores fill me with a quiet kind of glee--I'm always recklessly excited, even in the sleepy, peaceful atmosphere. My favorite place is Redux Books in Grand Rapids. Hmm. Also far away. I'm noticing a theme.

5. making pasta sheets from scratch. I don't actually know how to do this, but I've been eager to try for a long while. And after arguing with a character for a few hours, rolling out pasta dough sounds like a stressfree experience. I think I'm in the mood for a culinary challenge...

6. or making Grandma's Wholesome Candy. This is not a culinary challenge. It's also not from one of my grandmas! It's from a battered little cookbook and we've been making it for as long as I can remember. Humble light brown "candies," which turn out to be insanely addicting...

Really. My sister spent a summer making these over and over again. Every week, a new batch. They're hard to get out of your head... though I don't know why I'm suddenly thinking of it. Or why, after much writing and brainstorming, it's all I can think of. Hmm. But I'll probably have to make a little batch, if I hope to get back to work.

It's an innocent enough recipe, and, heck, maybe it's an acquired taste, and has to be experienced young. Try it and let me know:

Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup honey. Add 1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk, until you have a dough-like consistency (not too dry but not sticky). Add more if needed. Roll into balls and place on waxed paper. Keep in refrigerator or freeze. Makes 24.

And there you have it. I feel like I just typed out the whole secret to childhood happiness... Certainly it's the making of a happy summer afternoon.

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