My Favorite Things

Before we begin, a couple reminders: I’m not Oprah. So this post will not conclude with you or anyone else in the audience receiving a new car, or finding a gift of any kind under your seat.

Nor am I Julie Andrews. So I’ll not be phrasing or organizing this list into something you can set to verse in hopes of soothing the nerves of a brood of motherless Austrian children during a thunderstorm. Seriously. Austrian children have enough do deal with. Especially the motherless ones.

Last—and perhaps best—of all, unlike other lists (e.g. 10 Reasons to Love Weyauwega) I’m going to give you the complete set of items in one post, rather than via the morphine drip method of one to three items every two to four weeks for eight or nine months.

You’re welcome.

And with the disclaimers out of the way, let’s begin: Stainless-steel scrubbing pads.

This is no joke. Those babies are awesome.

Now, maybe you’ve been using them for years. In that case, my discovery thereof is obviously far from noteworthy from your perspective. But if you’ve been using them for years, it is presumably because they work, which serves to confirm that they are, in fact, awesome. Especially when you consider how great life is now in comparison to what it was like before I found them. Total 180.

No lie. We broil a lot at our house, and anyone who broils a lot knows broiling is messy business. Bacon. Burgers. Steaks. Even chicken. Broiling makes them all taste great, but it also leaves you with a lot of nasty gunk on the broiling pans.

So I would have to soak. And scrape. And soak. And scrape some more. With green scrubbies. And blue scrubbies. Then powdered abrasives. And liquid abrasives.

I finally broke down and bought a second broiling pan just so I could have a clean one to use when the other one was soaking. But that only doubled the trouble. It got to the point that I was spending more time cleaning broiling pans than our Maniac-in-Chief spends on Twitter. SAD!!

And then one day—BOOM! These stainless-steel scrubbing pads came into my life.

It was a day like any other day. Except I was visiting my Auntie Jo, whom I only visit about once a month. And I had broiled some bacon for lunch and was faced with the task of cleaning the pan before heading home. After soaking it for the first two hours while we visited, I looked around for a green or blue scrubby, or some powdered or liquid abrasive. Finding none of the above, I cast my eyes upon a pile of curly, silver strands. It looked more like a clump of Christmas ribbon than a cleaning tool, I have to say. And when I picked it up, it felt more like a handful of plastic than metal.

But, oh, was I surprised when I pressed those silver strands to the pan! Everything on that enameled surface was gone in literally seconds flat. It barely took any effort at all and, more importantly, it didn’t ruin my manicure! It was like magic. Perhaps the most powerful magic in the world. And it was now at my fingertips.

stainless scrub pads.jpgMy favorite things: one shiny new stainless-steel scrub pad (left) and one used stainless-steel scrub pad (right).

I didn’t even wait twenty-four hours before getting my own. And then I bought an extra pack for the Princess. She’s out on her own now, incidentally, and deserved to know about this amazing product with so much potential to change her life. It’s incumbent upon me, as her mother, to keep her apprised of such things.

Which raises a few questions. Such as: why didn’t I know about these before? And why hadn’t anyone thought to tell me? And what else are people keeping from me?

But let us not dwell on the negative. Let’s instead focus on the positive. Which is what I’ve been trying to do for the past year, as you may have noticed. I’m not as good at that, as you also may have noticed, or you wouldn’t have had to wait so long between posts.

So, there you have it. My favorite things of 2018. Stainless-steel scrubbing pads.

It’s a fairly short list, I know.

And, again, you’re welcome.


Truth and Confer-ences

Let me first apologize for the title of this post. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bad pun. That’s the first truth in this story. The second truth is that I LOVE a bad pun. The badder the better, as far as I’m concerned.

But the real star of this post is neither the pun nor the truth, but the confer-ences. Specifically writers’ confer-ences.

If you’re not a writer yourself, you may experience an irrepressible urge to flee or fall asleep at the mention of the such an event. Even some of us who ARE writers may bristle at the idea. For although most writers enjoy writing, not all of us enjoy talking about writing.

Now when I say I may not enjoy talking about writing, I don’t mean talking about what I write. In truth–there it is again–that’s the easy part for me. The characters in my books and short stories–not only those I’ve published but also those still fluttering around in my head–are all so real to me, that I can carry on about them for hours and hours provided I have the time, space, and access to a willing audience. And sometimes even the willing isn’t a requirement.

So what gives me trouble is not talking about WHAT I write, but talking about the HOW. I know it’s sometimes necessary to talk about things like character development and plot pacing; but for me, talking about the elements of a story is like talking about the ingredients of a gourmet meal or a decadent dessert: I know they’re important, but I’d rather talk about the dish or the dessert itself–what it tastes like or what kind of wine to pair with it–rather than the taste, smell, color or consistency of all the stuff that went into it.

It’s not that I don’t care about the elements of a good story. Combine the wrong ingredients–to use the cooking metaphor, again–and you may not get what you set out to make. To paraphrase Rita Rudner, you can mix flour and water to make glue, but if you add sugar and eggs (and baking soda) you’ll get cake.

So the components ARE important when it comes to food–and the same is true for a story–be it a novel or a bit of flash fiction. If you don’t have the right elements, you may not get the product you’re aiming for. But for me, I’d rather talk about the story itself–the characters, what they do, and where, when, how and why.

Which is why this weekend you will find me at the Lakefly Writers Conference at the Waterfront Hotel and Convention Center in Oshkosh. I won’t be presenting on any of the elements of writing. Nor will I be attending any of the workshops discussing any of the elements of writing.

Instead you’ll find me at a table at the Author’s Showcase. I’ll be there, behind a stack of my books and bookmarks, talking about my stories–but not necessarily how I wrote them or why.