Comfort food

There’s something supremely comforting to me about making banana bread. Maybe it’s the worn recipe card that’s waved in places from minor kitchen accidents like a little spilled milk or a dripping egg white. Maybe it’s that I barely need the recipe card anymore, checking it more to reassure myself of my memory for the ingredients than out of need. It might be in the too-sweet smell of the over-ripe bananas, their black-mottled peels paper-thin and easily pulled away from the fruit. Or maybe it’s the taste of the batter, tangy, or the color, a soft yellow in the blue German bowl.

Whatever it is, making banana bread, which I do quite frequently since the local grocery store sells over-ripe bananas at 39 cents a pound (thank goodness my husband doesn’t mind eating the sweet bread so often), grounds me. In these too-long days of an unemployed summer, finding productive activities has been difficult. It’s hot outside, it’s hot inside. I’ve started re-reading favorite books to pass the time. I should update this blog more, but editing down hundreds of photos feels daunting these days. Probably because in the face of nothing to do, I’ve wilted a little, unintentionally embracing the nothingness and getting nothing done. Surely this is why American homes have gotten larger and larger to the point of ridiculous: Give the housewives more cleaning to do so they don’t slit their wrists out of tedium.

Though friends and family urge me against it, I openly declare I can’t wait for the school year to start, to get on with the next chapter of my life. August 29 seems so impossibly far off with these dog days of summer stretching interminably before me. I’ve found a job working at a sandwich shop and coffee hut, though, which starts next weekend. My mother is coming for a visit tomorrow. There’s some county fairs I’m itching to attend. We’re moving in a few weeks (Move number 12 in the past three years. Yes, you read that correctly. 12.). So really, August 29 should be here before I know it, but I can’t help wishing the time away. Wishing for autumn, my favorite season. Reading favorite blogs, tending to my garden, weeding the flower bed and reading my books don’t take up much of the day. I’m ready to shed these beetle wings of a life full of stops and starts, ready for the next great adventure, the next career. Something to which I feel more suited (goodbye journalism, it’s been real).

So until the end of August, I find comfort in baking banana bread. Comfort in the familiar recipe (which I’ve made small changes to over the years, improving the resulting loaf), the swirl of the wooden spoon in the batter, clinking against the bowl. I am reminded of a quote from Julie & Julia, one of my favorite films: “Chocolate cream pie! You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.”

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Researchin’

Well, I obviously haven’t been putting a lot of time into updating this blog lately, now have I? It’s going to happen soon, though, I promise. Encountered a road block earlier this week when I spilled ice tea all over my computer. Horror of horrors! After a very frantic phone call to a friend in California who’s a computer whiz, I removed the battery, turned the computer upside down and pointed two fans at it on high for 8 hours. Followed that with submerging the computer in a bag of rice to draw out the moisture. Three days later, hallelujah, the computer lives!

In the meantime, computer-less (which is strangely like losing a limb), I’ve finally had the motivation (read: nothing to do without the computer) to get my hind end over to the town archives (which is really, really cool) to start doing research for a historical fiction novel idea that’s been taking up space in my cranium for a while. Not going to divulge the secrets of the novel here on the blog, but I’ll let you know that I know quite a lot about prostitution in the early American West now!

I have scads more research to do (which is a bit overwhelming), but I am making some definite headway, tackling the information subject by subject. Historical fiction is HARD, folks. A writer can take some liberties, but not too many. It’s important to get all the little details right, down to the way interiors of houses looked during the selected time period, to what people wore, to how people spoke. But on the other hand, there’s something really cool about taking history and making it into something new. I’ve got tons of ideas buzzing around in my head now that were inspired by true events that I’ve begun to learn about.

The hardest part, of course, is writing. Getting those ideas to translate into words and sentences and paragraphs that sound coherent. And writing a lot of those words and sentences and paragraphs. Which is a stretch for a journalist who is used to writing stories in 30 inches or less! But I have lots of free time these days and I’m itching to be productive. Hopefully all this hard work pays off!

In other news, summer has arrived in earnest in southwestern Montana. It’s been pretty hot here the past week (mid-80s, which yes, is freakin’ hot by my definition). And so lilac season has ended (sadness). But not without some photos:

Remember to stop and smell the lilacs!