This week (and perhaps next week), I won’t be posting many pieces on the blog. All of my writing energy will be spent on Maya and the Book of Everything as I work on the final editing. How exciting it all is, but I must admit I’m also a bundle of nerves. However, as I mentioned in reply to one of the comments about Maya, I’ve been working toward this for a very long time.
With all the work on Maya, there will be no homemade bread (to my husband’s dismay). It will be an English muffin kind of week. Meals will be very simple. Only the minimum housework will be done to keep the house clean.
Even though it’s still early, today has been a most exciting day for me. I received the first draft of the cover for my YA fantasy, Maya and the Book of Everything. Simply put, the cover is beautiful. I know. All mothers think their children are beautiful, but this cover—a rich blue with a book motif—really and truly is. I even love the font that was chosen.
Just seeing the first draft of the cover has put me in a happy state of jitters, and it will be hard to focus on anything else. But, cover or not, the laundry needs to be hung, and we will be going for a bike ride on this fine summer day.
As soon as the cover is finalized, I will post an image of it on this blog. This means, dear readers, that aside from family, you will be the first to see it.
Exciting times, indeed!
The day before yesterday, our friend Diane surprised us with a gift of twelve silicone muffin cups. Thanks so much, Diane!
Naturally I had to immediately try them out, and at Clif’s insistence, I made cocoa muffins, which are really a dessert but with less fat and sugar than a cupcake. To guild the lily, I added three-quarters of a cup of chocolate chip, placed half a pecan on each muffin, and sprinkled the tops with a bit of sugar.
The results? “Pretty darned good,” Clif said.
And best of all, there was hardly any sticking. I let the muffins cool and peeled away the silicone cups. Voilà! Perfect little muffins with no bottoms left behind.
Cocoa Muffins with Chocolate Chips
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 cups of flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 3 tablespoons of cocoa
- 3/4 cup of chocolate chips
- 12 pecan halves (optional)
- Sugar for sprinkling on top of the muffins
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Combine dry ingredients in medium-size bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg.
- Beat the vegetable oil and milk into the egg.
- Stir in the sugar.
- Sift dry ingredients into the wet mixture.
- Stir just until the ingredients are mixed. Do not overstir or muffins will be tough.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Put the batter in either a greased muffin tin or ungreased silicone cups. (Makes twelve medium-size muffins.)
- Place pecan half on top.
- Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- If using a traditional muffin tin, let cool for five minutes before removing muffins. If using the silicone cups, let the muffins cool completely before removing from the cups.
- Butter, of course, goes with any kind of muffin, but berry jam tastes pretty darned good with these muffins, too.
Summer is winding down, and so are the gardens at the little house in the big woods, which are at their best in June and July. Still, despite their raggedness, there are still things to admire and find in the garden.
This curve of white through yellow.
This leg full of pollen.
The crickets sing, the grasshoppers buzz, and the yellow jackets, out in force this year, pester us when we eat on the patio. (Not everything is sublime at the little house in the big woods.)
Such a sweet, sad time of year, when the dark comes earlier and earlier. I love fall and the crisp energy it brings, but I am always sorry to say farewell, for another year, to the flowers and the hummingbirds and the loons.
One of the things—along with the food and the art—that I love about New York City is the incredible diversity of people. One time when I was visiting my daughter Dee, we were sitting at a café, and I was positively dazzled by the variety of passersby—short, tall, thin, fat, Asian, white, black, brown, men with women, women with women, men with men. There were no disapproving stares, and everyone looked as though they felt completely comfortable with themselves and with others.
“This is good,” I said to myself. “This is very good.”
I was reminded of this last week when I went to see the latest Star Trek movie. Along with the humorous bantering between Spock and Bones, the heroic deeds of Captain Kirk, and the many, many explosions, there was a scene at a space station that was an interstellar version of what I saw at that café in New York city. But along with the brown and black, there were red, green, blue, and other creatures that walked on two legs but did not resemble humans in any way. There they were, all together, serenely and joyfully going about their business, and it made me smile just to watch that scene.
Naturally, in the course of the story, the space station comes under grave danger. Readers, I am not going to give any spoilers, except to note that Kirk and company go to great lengths trying to save that station.
From its inception, Star Trek celebrated diversity, and the original show with Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner featured a cast that resembled a mini-United Nations. The main crew included a black woman, a Japanese man, a Russian man, a Vulcan, and the inimitable Scotty. In the early 1960s, this inclusiveness was nothing short of astonishing.
And of course that was the whole point. Gene Roddenberry, the original show’s creator, felt very strongly that as a species, we needed to look beyond the surface to acknowledge the dignity and worth of every person. He was a man ahead of his time, showing us the direction in which we should be headed.
In the natural world, we celebrate diversity and curse those invasive species that can overcome the natural system. Having too much of one plant or animal is usually not a good thing. The same is true for monocropping, with the potato famine in Ireland being a horrible example of what can go wrong when too much reliance is put on one vegetable. Even genetically, diversity is a very good thing, and too much interbreeding, whether with dogs or with humans, leads to all sorts of problems.
So we have plenty of examples of the value of diversity, but we seem to have trouble applying this knowledge to the various types and colors of people who live on this planet.
Nature shows us the way. So does Star Trek and other science fiction stories. New York City does, too. Slowly, many of us are absorbing these lessons. Unfortunately, others are not. But it is my hope that a time will come, sooner rather than later, when racial and cultural diversity is, well, normal, not at all unusual, simply the way things are.