Turn it around

Today started out well enough, with two delicious roasted chickens and a mostly nice housecleaning party, but then a couple things didn’t go how I wanted, I lost Perspective (Perspective, Perspective, wherefore art thou, Perspective!), and then I fell splat into The Pit Of Despair, and no matter how hard I cried and how hard I tried, I could not get out.

I couldn’t cook. The writing voice inside my head shut off. My face stretched so long it dragged on the floor (if only I had a beard, the floor would now be clean). When my husband kindly, gently, timidly, laughed at me—because seriously, how long can a person stay so wretchedly woeful?—I couldn’t even smile, though a little voice in the back of my head squeaked shrilly. “He’s right! You’re ridiculous!”

(Speaking of The Pit Of Despair, I fall into it with enough frequency that I ought to put a few provisions down there. Like a bottle of water to sip on and a Rubik’s Cube to fiddle with. It’d be a smart thing to do.)

Let’s be clear here. Nothing bad actually happened. My family members are alive and well and cheerful. No one died. There were no natural disasters. Nobody attacked me with a knife, ugly words, or the hairy eyeball. And even so, I managed to fall completely and utterly apart. It’s a gift I have.

After four hours of pure pitifulness, my writing voice slowly came back on, like one of those energy-saving light bulbs that starts out all dreary and dim and then gets gradually brighter. My husband stuck a glass of wine in my hand and ordered me upstairs for a shower and some tap-tap time.

So, in an effort to turn myself right-side up and facing forward, I’ve determined to make a list of good things. (Cheap therapy, lovies. Blogging is all about cheap therapy.) There are twelve, which I do believe is a respectable start. I’m feeling optimistic already.

Good Thing Number One: a fairy ring

The fairies came and left us our own personalized fairy ring. It was so spectacular that strangers pulled into our driveway to admire it.

Good Thing Number Two: a jar of sunshine

A friend came to pick our tomato patch (and then to sit at the kitchen table and drink tea and eat muffins and talktalktalk), and she brought me a quart jar of sunflowers. They’re a feast for the eyes and vitamin D for the soul.

Good Thing Number Three: David’s pizza

I’ve made this pizza twice now. It’s the embodiment of summer—roasted tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan, fresh basil, swoon.

The kids don’t like it so I call it Adult Pizza, which makes my husband snort.

Good Thing Number Four: homemade shoes

My child has overcome the odds (and the lack of shoes) with resourcefulness, plus a roll of masking tape and some brown bags. Hers is a valuable skill, people. Don’t knock it. (Even though I kind of knocked it myself by refusing to let her wear them to church.)

Good Thing Number Five: weirdness

This girl has some mean sticky-nose talent.

Good Thing Number Six: a homemade popcorn maker

After hours of boredom, the kid got up off his duff and made a popcorn maker that works! His signature touch? Lots of butter and salt, plus a dash (and then another, when Mama’s not looking) of white sugar.

Good Thing Number Seven: what I found on my mother’s mantel

Yours truly and her lover-man. What a team we make. World, watch out.

(This is, perhaps, the best good thing. I mean, really, how seriously can I take my fat, waxed-lipped self?)

Good Thing Number Eight: 70%, organic, fair-trade chocolate on sale

I bought four cases. Each case holds 16 bars, so….that’s 64 (SIXTY-FOUR) 3-ounce bars of chocolate, baby. Yee-haw!

Good Thing Number Nine: my niece

We get to babysit her sometimes (well, only once so far, but I’m pretty sure my baby-holding future is bright) and we all gather round to hold her, poke her, rock her, like she’s balm for our baby-starved souls. Which she is.

Good Thing Number Ten: bath-time Harry Potter

A special treat for a sick little girl.

Good Thing Number Eleven: roasted peaches

Roasting them in the oven concentrates their peachy-ness while also ridding the fruit of excessive juiciness, which means that, when incorporated into baked goods, they deliver more bang for their buck. A splendid discovery.

I used them in this coffee cake in place of the blueberries and gave some to my mother. My mother, who claims that her palate is getting more refined in her old age, practically had a cow. “Oh my!” she gasped, swallowing a large mouthful. “This is the only coffee cake. There is no need for any other.”

I do believe she’s right.

Roasted Peaches

6-8 cups very ripe peaches, peeled and thickly sliced

2-4 tablespoons white sugar

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice (bottled is fine)

In a 9×13-inch baking dish, toss the peaches with the sugar and lemon juice. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The peaches will get black around the edges and blister on top a little, and while that’s a good thing, don’t overdo it.

For immediate eating: eat right away, or pack peaches into a couple jars and chill. Serve with yogurt, pudding, pancakes, ice cream, oatmeal, etc. Or make a coffee cake with them.

To can: Use this method, (the hot pack method).

Good Thing Number Twelve: tomorrow is a new day, hallelujah

And there will be waffles at the park, my potluck contribution.

Sweet dreams, dearies. xo

This same time, years previous: picture perfect, honey-whole wheat cake, blueberry coffee cake (will you look at that! it’s the same coffee cake recipe I mentioned above!)


  • Kirsten

    Good (in a misery loves company sort of way) to know that there are pits of despair in Virginia, too. There's a rather large one in this corner of the world. You'd think I would learn to navigate around it, the way I can drive around the potholes on my street, but no, I'll be chugging along and WHUMP–the bottom falls out and down I go. It happens with surprising regularity, too. Looking on the bright side is a sure way out, except it's so damn dark down there sometimes! Thanks for sharing!

  • teekaroo

    I'm a little surprised and a bit relieved that even you can fall into the pit of despair. From the sounds of it, it's a pretty happenin' place. I'll leave you a message the next time I fall in. 🙂

  • Mama Pea

    And here I assumed I was mentally unbalanced because I frequently plunge into the pit of despair for no rational reason. So I'm not? Or . . . are you, too?

  • Kris

    dr perfection, if I may be so bold as to answer your question, I must say that it's a matter of timing and priorities. When the surplus grocery store across town has a large but quickly dwindling stock of certified organic fair trade dark chocolate bars (70% cacao!), one simply must buy as much as possible. They were 50 cents for each 3.5 oz bar, for crying out loud! That's cheaper per pound ($2.67) than most good quality commercial chocolate chips. Why would any self-respecting chocolate freak NOT stock up? I sure did!

  • Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig

    I'm sorry you fell into the pit…I do that, too on occasion. Sometimes without rhyme or reason…just suddenly there I am. Glad you were able to pull yourself out… And I'm envious you got to have a visit with Jane…I know that had to be good for the soul. xo

  • Second Sister

    Nice Cheap Therapy example, friend. Glad to know I'm not the only who who probably should stock her pit more with helpful things like a rope ladder made of 64 chocolate bars…

  • Kaytee

    Oh boy, I hope you pull out of this despair. Sometimes I fall apart too and I end up curling up into a little ball and crying! But at least you have your quirky kids to cheer you up with all their crazy antics!

  • Suburban Correspondent

    My kids insist on making shoes out of used Kleenex boxes. It's charming, in a retro-Depression Era sort of way…

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