The Pumpkin Disaster; little events that change your plans

A week ago I still had a pumpkin from my garden.

I was planning on cooking it soon, I really was. The thing is, it was Christmas time and the orange pumpkin just didn’t go with Christmas decorations. So I put it on top of the corner cupboard to be cooked in January.

It’s February 6th. Yes, I’m aware of that.

Just yesterday I looked at that corner cupboard and thought, I really should move it out and sweep behind it, and maybe change it to a wall cupboard, just to see how it looks. I didn’t notice that the pumpkin was missing.

This morning I had plans to sweep and mop the kitchen floor, go to the grocery store, visit my neighbor, and maybe when I was done, I’d have some quiet time to write on my novel.

img_7753When my broom and I got to the corner cupboard, my jaw dropped in dismay. There was stuff, gunk, all over the floor, the wall, and everything I could see. I couldn’t tell what it was, but I was sure it was the mice we’ve been having trouble with.  (See former post…) It looked like a lot of mice had been partying hearty behind the corner cupboard.

Of course, you, dear reader, can see where this is going. But I hadn’t a clue. The corner cupboard is filled with all of our dishes, bowls, china, and many heavy items. I had to empty the cupboard before I could move it out from the spot where it has lived for three, maybe four years.

Yes. The overripe pumpkin had fallen six feet onto the floor. On the way down it bounced off the walls and the back of the cupboard. After I moved the cupboard, I didn’t take any pictures of the mess because it was truly disgusting. (And here I realize, for the second post in a row, you may seriously take exception to my housekeeping skills…)

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I didn’t get any writing in that day, but the space behind the cupboard is spotless. And while I was cleaning I thought about these little events that change our plans.

Quite honestly, I’m not very good at having my plans disrupted. Oh yes, I know better. I know what the great philosopher John Lennon said — Life is what happens when you are making other plans. — Turns out he just wrote an already popular sentiment into a song. And the reason it is a popular sentiment is because, Yes, no one likes to have their plans disrupted.

A few posts ago, one of my friends made the comment that how we live our lives generally depends on how well we deal with disruption. I’ve mentioned this quote before, because it is one of my favorites:

c.s. lewis quote on interruptions

I try to practice this — you know, the Keep Calm and Carry On philosophy — but I’m not often successful; imagine if we could just always think of those interruptions, disruptions, intrusions… as our real lives. Forget about our own plans for that perfect day, that perfect week, that perfect life, for those plans (and those lives) don’t exist. Just because our plans are perfect in our imaginations, does that mean it’s real life? Lewis calls them phantoms.

The earlier we learn this in life, the happier we will be. The sooner we learn that every event in our lives is sent to teach us, the more joyful and purposeful we will be. Whether it was actually in our plans or not, God sent it to us to be a part of our lives. No Whining.

And I’m happy to say, that this day I managed to do fairly well. Of course, that’s partially because I didn’t have any big plans. No appointments, No lunch date, No place I really had to be…. And since I had to empty the cupboard, move it, and clean behind it, I took advantage of really moving it and trying it out in a new spot. Where it’s likely to stay until the next disaster… The disaster that, of course, is part of the life God is sending me day by day.

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So since I had pumpkin on the brain and chocolate chips in the cupboard, I made a delicious pumpkin cake. When life hands you smashed pumpkins, make a cake. (Don’t worry, I didn’t use the rotten pumpkin that is now out on the compost pile…)

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×9 square pan. Gather together: 1 cup pumpkin, 1 cup unbleached flour, 1/2 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. baking powder, 1/2 c. oil (I used 1/4 c. melted butter and 1/4 c. warmed coconut oil) 1/2 c. chocolate chips, 3/4 c. packed brown sugar, 2 eggs, and pumpkin pie spices of your choice — I used 1 t. cinnamon, 1 t. cardamom, 1/2 t. ginger, and 1/2 t. fresh grated nutmeg. You can add 1 t. vanilla too.

Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat two eggs and add the pumpkin and the oil. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into the greased pan and bake for 25-28 minutes.

Pumpkin chocolate chip snack cake

It’s always good to share…

Variations:

  • You could add chopped nuts with the chocolate chips.
  • You could add more chocolate chips on the top and spread them around when the cake comes out of the oven.
  • You could add raisins instead of chocolate chips.
  • You could add raisins and chocolate chips and nuts.
  • You could add a teaspoon of rum instead of vanilla.
  • You could bake it in a 8×8 pan and have it be more like a real cake, than bars or a snack cake. If you do this, add 8-10 minutes of baking time.
  • You could put cream cheese icing on it and call it a real cake instead of a snack cake.

I’ve made this twice now in trying to make sure it is a good recipe for your enjoyment. The second time I used half pumpkin and half applesauce because this IS Apple Hill and I have more applesauce than I have pumpkin.  It was just as delicious.

Enjoy the interruptions to your day…

17 for ’17

This is my 5th annual New Year’s post with additions for 2017.  I wasn’t going to do this again; 5 years seemed like plenty. Then I read through it and thought that this year needs a peace, love, and can’t-we-all-just-get-along? post more than any other year I’ve lived through. Except maybe 1968 (and I was mostly too young to care then).

So I wish you all peace, love, and a year of forgiving and forgetting.  Happy 2017 everyone — and thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing my little place in cyberspace.

There are two kinds of people in the world:

1. those who would go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve, and those who couldn’t be paid enough to go…

Sunrise from our bedroom windows

Sunrise from our bedroom windows

2. those who go out for New Year’s Eve, and those who stay home…

steak, burgundy mushrooms, asparagus

3. those who would rehab an old vacant house, and those who would look for a new one instead…

boards

4. Cat-lovers and Dog-lovers…

Cat in the Christmas tree

5. Savers and Pitchers…
pitchers

6. Dreamers and Doers…

7. those who believe and those who scoff…

Micah 6:*

8. those who stay, and those who go…

9. those who love snow, and those who don’t…

10. those who take naps, and those who feel superior to those who take naps…

Cat nap

11. those who love city streets, and those who love country roads…

12. those who look up and those who look down…

13. those who eat their fruits and vegetables, and those who eat their meat’n potatoes…

green tomato salsa

14. those whose glass is half-empty and those whose glass is half-full…

Stag's Leap winery

15. those who work for pay and those who work for love; and those who are blessed to do both at the same time…

Mr. H.C's truck

Mr. H.C’s truck

16. those who believe santa is a democrat, those who believe santa is a  republican, and those who believe santa should just start a third party for the rest of us — the Dempublicans? The Republicrats? (Surely he would get more than just my vote…)

17. Those who love to go shopping and those who would rather eat worms than go to a mall.


At different times in our lives, we can be any of these.
Me? I have been all these people–a city lover, a country girl; a scoffer, a believer; an optimist, a pessimist; a cat-lover, a dog-lover; a dreamer, a doer; a shopper and a worm-eater…(Though I would have to be paid a lot of cash to go to Times Square on New Year’s Eve.)
Can we remember this?
Can we remember that our differences make this beautiful world what it is?
Can we let go of our prejudices, our prides, our preconceptions, our (fill in the blank here)… and just love each other?

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in 2017.

Christmas angel

On Organizing One’s World

Slipshod or Precise?

Messy or Neat?

Planned or Random?

Just what DOES your dining room table look like? Yes, I know, the only excuse for a messy dining room table is tax time… and ahem, yes, it’s soon upon us.

messy tableYes this is what the dining room table usually looks like. I thought about cleaning it off just for this photo shoot. But that would be putting a better face on me and my organizational skills than I deserve, and it might put undue pressure on you, the reader, to look around at your own house and wonder why you don’t measure up.

We usually eat at this table so (except at tax time) it can’t be too filled with junk. But I do admit that some evenings I have shoved stuff to the side just to make room for two plates. Sighs loudly. 

So I confess to being a disorderly, organized person. An ex-librarian for goodness sakes, and now a secretary! Files must be in alphabetical order, but the desk is often messy. I go in fits and starts. Stuff collects until I can’t stand it and then I go on a binge of organizing and throwing away, shredding, filing… Last year as we took tax stuff to our new accountant, I was rather nervous that in one of those binges, I had shredded important documents that she would need.

Indexing! said the librarian. Organization! 

And so, in an effort to start 2017 in good form and Organize My World (starting with paperwork) I’ve cleaned and re-organized the kitchen cabinet, my clothes closet, my nightstand, and I am seriously working on my own attitude toward busy-ness. I’m reading Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald (which has been on my unread bookshelf for four years now…) and it is speaking to me loud and clear.

MacDonald’s book is definitely about one’s private world, which is the heart of our moral compass, our self-esteem, our values, our conversations with God, our souls. Yet I can’t help but think if our outer worlds are messy, it must, in part, reflect our inner world.

“For me the appropriate metaphor for the inner spiritual center is a garden, a place of potential peace and tranquility. This garden is a place where the  Spirit of God comes to make self-disclosure, to share wisdom, to give affirmation or rebuke, to provide encouragement, and to give direction and guidance. When this garden is in proper order, it is a quiet place, and there is an absence of busyness, of defiling noise, of confusion.

The inner garden is a delicate place, and if not properly maintained it will be quickly overrun by intrusive undergrowth. God does not often walk in disordered gardens…”

garden statue
And in the next chapter, he continues the garden metaphor…

“Few of us can appreciate the terrible conspiracy of noise there is about us, noise that denies us the silence and solitude we need for this cultivation of the inner garden. It would not be hard to believe that the archenemy of God has conspired to surround us at every conceivable point in our lives with the interfering noises of civilization that, when left unmuffled, usually drown out the voice of God. Those who walk with God will tell you plainly, God does not ordinarily shout to make Himself heard.”

(My copy of this book was published in 1985 — way before the electronic revolution changed the type and amount of noise in our lives).

I long for simplicity — an end to clutter — both in my outer and inner worlds. I long to get rid of paper, unnecessary choices that complicate life, and I long to be the type of person who puts everything away in the correct place when I’m finished with it… Or, at least remember where I put it so I don’t have to spend twenty minutes searching for it.

“God does not ordinarily shout to make Himself heard…” That bears repeating, doesn’t it? And the still small voice is hard to hear when distraction, busy-ness, and clutter fill your heart, your mind, and your life.

Clean your house — and while you are cleaning, pray.

Weed your garden — and while you are weeding, listen to the birdsong.

Read your bible — and while you are reading, think on who He is and how to best honor Him in your life.

And for goodness sakes, clean off that dining room table — and while you are organizing, sing.