Blackberry Pie

Each summer there is a blackberry bramble that climbs over our back fence from the neighbor’s. This summer the bramble has been more prolific than in years past, and my children have been enjoying the fruit immensely.

My oldest got it into his head that he didn’t just want to eat the blackberries. No. He wanted a pie. This little man of mine is about as bullheaded as they come. And when he gets an idea to do something, he does it. Immediately.

As a result, I have had apple trees, cherry trees, watermelons, sunflowers and pumpkins planted randomly across my backyard. These endeavors are usually forgotten once completed, and nothing has ever come of my strange backyard garden.

Not so the pie. My son has laboriously collected berries from the backyard bramble. Despite my best efforts to keep him grounded, he has stacked wagons and toys precariously in an effort to reach those glorious berries tantalizingly out of reach. He has refrained from eating them, carefully saving them up until he has enough to make a pie.

Tonight, then, with a few extra berries from a local farm store and a couple of frozen pie crusts my son and I baked our first ever blackberry pies.



Sexism & The Muse

The idea of the “muse” comes to us from the ancient Greeks and Romans who liked to assign to everything in their world a god or goddess. In this way, they established a sort of order in a chaotic environment of which they had little understanding, and less control. They assigned power to these deities that helped them explain the human existence.

The muse survives today as a largely female entity that serves as a source of inspiration to the creative individual. She is often described as fickle and capricious, undependable and flighty.

Until fairly recently, artists and writers who achieve any level of recognition were predominantly men. Women have often had to pretend to be men in order for their work to be taken seriously. Even in our own time, an author such as Joanne Rowling’s name was changed at the recommendation of her publisher.

Why is the muse a woman?

Men have historically been in the habit of shifting blame for their weaknesses off of themselves and on to women. Women have historically accepted this. We have accepted our inferiority, our weakness. And in so doing, we also have shifted the blame of our own failings off of ourselves.

To be fair, I don’t believe this is a “man” problem, or a “woman” problem. Rather, it is a human problem. And the creative arts are only one area where women have been historically undervalued.

Dove has recently released an ad campaign on Twitter, #MyBeautyMySay, attempting to redefine female beauty by looking at the way we speak to and about women athletes. This is only one part of the same cultural bias that exists against women and girls. It is deeply rooted in our history and only a truly honest, soul-searching evaluation of our inner thoughts can ever produce any significant change.

What should we do instead? I think what’s required is a complete shift in our thinking, a serious consideration of our thoughts and the words we speak.

Rather than shift blame, we need to own our own failings and weaknesses. They are a part of our identity. Whenever possible, we should work to improve and overcome those failings. When it isn’t, we should use our strengths to compensate for our weakness.

My “muse” is a part of myself, and as such, she is decidedly female. Yes, I can be flighty and capricious. Sometimes I lack self-discipline. But I can also work hard and aggressively pursue my ambitions. I will own my failings. I won’t blame my weakness on someone else, or some outside force.

When I sat down to write this post, this isn’t what I’d intended to write at all. But it seems, my fickle muse had other ideas.

Apology & Redemption

Back in January I wrote this about my 2016 Reading Challenge. I listed twelve books chosen based on themes proposed by Since then, I’ve read and reviewed only five of the books on that list. Now, here it is already August, leaving me only five months to read the remaining seven.

In April and July I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, making writing a priority over reading, and, well, nearly everything. Therefore, during those months if I read at all, it was minimal, and I did not complete a single book. I also failed to post a single book review during those two months as well.

Here, I offer this apology for not reading as much as I should have. And for not posting reviews of what I have read. I’d also like to make this the beginning of a new challenge to myself for the month of August, and perhaps in doing so, redeem myself for my lack.

Instead of a writing challenge, I assign myself a reading challenge. I normally don’t read more than one book at a time, but somehow I managed to crack open multiple books over the past several weeks. Therefore, I will work on completing these books first, and then, if I have enough time, I will move on to more.

Here then, is my list:

1. Moon of Three Rings, by Andre Norton – I borrowed this book from another member of my book club, The Dragon’s Hoard. This club consists of about seven, or so, of my coworkers who all enjoy reading the same sort of books that I typically enjoy – fantasy and science fiction. Because of my nearly toppling to-be-read pile, I’ve balked at borrowing books from other members so that I don’t end up keeping them for too long. One member has been particularly vocal about Andre Norton, and as she appears on another of my “must read” lists, I finally gave in and accepted this book on her recommendation.

2. Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank – This book is number seven on my 2016 Reading Challenge list, but I got a little out of order when I wasn’t able to get my hands on number six, Classified Woman, when I was ready for it. So, on a trip to the local library to get some summer reading material for my children, I went ahead and checked out this book and began reading it.

3. D is for Deadbeat, by Sue Grafton – I have an embarrassingly large stack of books I borrowed some time ago from a community bookshelf at my place of employment. I have grand intentions of reading these books and returning them. This one happened to be on top when I became overwhelmed guilt over how long I’ve kept these books, and so, I started reading it.

4. Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich – This book should perhaps be at the top of the list as I started reading it longer ago than any of the others. I was reading this book chapter by chapter and using the writing exercises at the end of each as writing prompts that I shared with my local writers’ group. I was having fun with this, but somehow got distracted and haven’t been back to it in some time.

5. Writers of the Future Volume XXIX, ed. by Dave Wolverton – When I decided I was going to try writing short stories for my July Camp NaNoWriMo project this year, I thought maybe I should read a few short stories by other writers to get a better feel for the genre. This book has been on my bookshelf for I don’t know how long. I picked it up but managed to read only one story.

6. Necromancer Awakening, by Nat Russo – I’ve only recently ventured into the ebook world. This is only my third. I’d been considering this book for a little while, when the sequel was released earlier this year. Since I can’t read book two before reading book one, I had to get this one first. Since it’s on my mobile device, I can read it in the grocery line, or wherever else I happen to be.

7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy – This one is an audiobook I decided to download one night when I was busy making a cheesecake for yet another work pot luck. Since I can’t read, write, or do much of anything else while my hands are busy with baking, this seemed a perfectly logical way to make better use of my time. And so far, I’m loving it!

There it is, my hope of redemption for my reading failure so far this year. I am notoriously over-ambitious, and a slow reader. I will count myself successful to finally close even a few of these open-ended projects.