(This column originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Refreshed Magazine)
(photo December 2015)
Over the holidays I noticed a new product on my grocery store shelf: half-sized spaghetti. It’s basically plain spaghetti, but half the length of regular spaghetti and touted as the “perfect size for any pot” because there’s no need to break it in half.
At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, have we become so lazy as Americans that we can’t break our own pasta in half?
I posted that sentiment, along with a photo of the box of spaghetti, on my Facebook page. My intent was to generate discussion about the way we rely on convenience items and technology to do everyday things we really should be doing ourselves. I’m not even talking about things like relying on GPS instead of reading a map. I’m talking about using electric staplers and wearing self-tying sneakers.
The little rant made sense to me, so imagine my surprise when instead of people talking about the laziness of half-sized spaghetti, I was hit with a barrage of replies that all shared the same message: Never break the pasta.
Yes, dear readers, the fact that we’re too lazy to break our own spaghetti is a far less serious offense than the fact that anyone would dare to break spaghetti in the first place.
The debate over pasta size included comments from my friend, Bob, who regularly cooks a variety of delicious-looking Italian dishes for his family and shares the photos on social media.
“Never break the pasta,” he wrote. When I asked why, he replied, “You’re not supposed to break it.”
For the record, I don’t break the pasta; I know not to do that. But why am I not supposed to do that? I asked the question again and again, and dozens of people responded. The conversations went something like this: Continue reading
One of the misconceptions people have about writers is that we loll around all day in our pajamas while brilliant prose magically pours forth from our fingers, usually minutes before deadline. We don’t work, therefore we’re always available for lunch, errands or babysitting. We can do whatever we want, whenever we want, and we make gads of money doing it.
OK, yes, sometimes I work in my pajamas, but most of the time I get dressed. (Yoga pants and sweat shirts count as getting dressed, right?) And yes, I am free during the day to run errands and have lunch with friends, and I used to babysit (we all know how that story ends). I also grocery shop and cook and do laundry and pay bills and answer the phone and let in repairmen. And I would clean, if I was the kind of woman who cleaned.
In between real life, I write. [Click to continue reading at Refreshed Magazine]
The problem with talking about things you would like to do is that someone might overhear and make your wish come true.
Apparently, God reads my column. Some months ago, I wrote about how darling husband and I were watching home remodeling shows on Netflix and making a list of things we’d like to repair in our 88-year-old house. Then a pipe in the upstairs bathroom burst, causing Niagara Falls to cascade into the kitchen.
Once the culprit was found—ancient cast iron pipes that literally caved in on themselves—we were left with holes in the walls where the main stack had been replaced, as well as a gaping hole in the kitchen ceiling and upstairs bathroom floor.
That provided an interesting new system of communication, to say the least: you could sit on the upstairs toilet and talk to someone standing in the kitchen below.
Entertaining as that might be, it got old pretty quickly. We needed to fix the holes. [Continue reading at Refreshed Magazine]
Imagine my surprise this week when, while congratulating writing and publishing friends on their wins at the recent Evangelical Press Association Awards in Denver, I scrolled through the list of Higher Goals winners in the Humorous category and saw who won first place – ME, for my column “Insomnia”.
I had forgotten then the publishers of Refreshed Magazine had entered my columns in this year’s contest. I was surprised at not only the win, but … first place??
Lamar and Theresa Keener, publishers of Refreshed Magazine, took home numerous EPA awards and deserve loads of congratulations for their hard work and dedication to putting out such a high quality magazine. I’m honored that they include in their Refreshed family!
Buckets and buckets and buckets of gratitude are due my editor, Lori Arnold, for her patience, grace and willingness to put up with my quirks and writers block. There’s no greater blessing a writer can have than an excellent editor who laughs at her jokes.
This is my third EPA award, but whose counting? Well, I am, because if I’m being honest I’m still always amazed that people read my scribbling. The biggest thanks, of course, goes out to you, dear reader, for reading my musings and ramblings so that I don’t have to get a real job.
You can read my column every month in Refreshed Magazine, both in print and online.
The bat escaped … this time. Fly free, Mr. Bat. Fly free.
When you’re a writer, reader feedback is always welcome, whether you’re telling me that you enjoyed something I’ve written or you think I’m an idiot.
In the July issue of Refreshed Magazine, I wrote about hearing a critter in our attic and darling husband’s brave battle with a bat. The bat lost. One reader sent this comment about the killing of the winged rodent:
“I think the article Bats in the Belfry by Joanne Brknow [sic] was disgusting! There was no reason to kill the bat! Bats are good as they eat tremendous amounts of insects. How could you print that? And under the heading That’s Life!”
Yesterday, we found a bat in our basement. In honor of the reader, we set it free.
Well, if I’m being honest – and you know that honesty always makes for the best humor pieces – we trapped the bat between the front door and the screen door while we debated whether to whack it or let it go.
It must have been listening, because as darling husband inched the door open, the bat escaped. But as it flew away – and then circled our house, and the neighbor’s house, and the street for about 10 minutes – I cried, “Be free, Mr. Bat! Be free!”
After eating bugs in the backyard, I fully expect Mr. Bat to return some night this week for another midnight round of Critters In The Attic. We’ll be waiting … with the bat whacker …
For my June column in the San Diego-based Refreshed Magazine, I mused on my 50th birthday – a few weeks before I even turned 50. Since I hadn’t yet experienced the joy of reaching a half century, I turned to friends for some thoughts. You can read the column online here.