Twenty-Thirteen: A Duct Tape Odyssey

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. It smacks too much of setting yourself up to fail and feeding lame jokes. I really don’t want any part of the mass sales of low fat cheese or spandex and lycra.

On the other hand, a new year does make me pause and look at my life. In retrospect 2012 was a year of waiting. There were a lot of big plans that were going to kick into gear after a low key first year of marriage. We were going to move toward buying a house and having children, have people over for dinner more often and spend more time practicing for the rifle match. Instead, the biggest thing that happened all year is I got diagnosed with Lyme disease.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have diagnosis and therefore a treatment plan and be moving toward functioning like a normal human being. But getting diagnosed with Lyme wasn’t exactly on my bucket list, you know?

God looked at all our big plans and said ‘not yet’. I’m used to that, but I’m still not good at figuring out what I’m supposed to be doing while I wait.

Since January first I’ve made several lists of things I want to get done this year, tried to narrow them down to a small focus that can actually be accomplished, and gotten distracted by how many cool ideas I’d like to follow up on. I’ve started reading books on productivity and gotten stumped on what my area of impact actually is.

And suddenly I decided I want to be a writer.

I’ve known this since I was twelve, but I’ve never really followed up on it. I had the lightbulb explosion many years ago of being told that I am already a writer, and I’ve written enough haiku to fill a small book (if I’d ever actually collected all the good ones and published it…) , but I’ve never stuck with one project for more than a few weeks.

I’m not entirely sure what this looks like now, or where exactly it falls on that priority list I’ve constructed, but I know it’s gotten bumped up a few notches. We’ll see what happens with that…

And I still don’t know what my area of impact is.


Of Kiffles Past, Present and Future

I don’t remember my great grandmother. I know some things about her, and I own the rolling pin that used to be hers. There’s even a picture of me sitting on her lap when I was very small. But I don’t even have a ghost of a memory of her. And I don’t remember ever crying over her until Christmastime this year.

The most vivid and tangible association with my great grandmother is kiffles. Kiffles are a Hungarian cookie made of plain dough with a raisin and nut filling, and we have a family recipe passed down from my great grandmother that we use to make them every Christmas. You know it’s a bona fide full blown traditional family recipe, because it even comes with disagreement between my grandmother and my great aunt about the proper way to make them.

Based on my father’s childhood memories of kiffles, our branch of the family has gone with my grandmother’s version, cooking the filling before rolling it into the dough, as that seems to produce the most authentic results. I’ve honed my kiffle making abilities pretty well over the years, and I have it on good authority that the taste is wonderful.

But like any good family recipe, the directions are a bit sketchy. With some general baking experience I can intuit what the dough is supposed to feel like, and which of the various amounts of flour lead to that feel. I can experiment to get the filling to stay in the cookie instead of running all over the cookie sheet (mostly). But I have no idea what size squares and then triangles the dough is supposed to be cut into for each cookie.

And for some reason, this Christmas as I was rolling out kiffle dough it really hit me for the first time that I can’t ask my great grandmother what size the kiffles are supposed to be. I can’t watch her make them and take notes for my children. The sum total of her kiffle knowledge that has been passed on is written on the front of a 3×5 card in my grandmother’s handwriting, with a short list of filling ingredients on the back in my handwriting.

I can’t find any evidence on the internet of the quote that’s hovering the back of my head, but someone, perhaps Martin Luther, was musing on how wonderful the beer will be in heaven, where beermakers have thousands of years to perfect their recipes.

I would have to imagine that in a place where no knowledge is lost before in can be passed on, the kiffles are truly amazing.

An Odd Sort of Week…

When I married Colton, it occurred to me that I was getting a whole lot of brothers (and a couple of sisters), but what didn’t occur to me at the time was that this would eventually mean *also* adding a whole lot of sisters (and a couple more brothers) to the final tally.

I’ve had an odd close up but far away perspective on the last couple of weeks, knowing a lot about what might be happening, but not getting to see most of it. I did get a preview of very dainty, sparkly ring, which was followed by a day of very normal housework and hours of not hearing any kind of update. I find this understandable, of course, I’m just saying it’s been… odd.

And of course, the whole adventure is bringing back memories of my courtship and engagement two years ago. Interesting blast from the past: on this date two years ago I was visiting Tennessee for the first time. I remember this trip including both stars and a fire that Colton and I were both looking at the same time in relatively close proximity to one another, but not, you know, *together*. Suffice it to say there are memories good, bad and simply frustrating that are being stirred up right now…

On the distinctly non-emo side of the scale, we do have that new sister aspect of the whole situation, which is pretty cool. There’s even a chance, I hear, that they’ll end up living in close proximity to us. I would vote for the close proximity option, which, really should outweigh any other inconveniences associated with it for them, right?

I guess the only way to end this post properly is to say: Congratulations Sam and Laura!

(I feel like should follow that up with a funny piece of advice, but the only one I can come up with is to smack people who say dumb things about marriage, so maybe I’ll just leave that off…)

Of Canned Salmon

Who knew a can of salmon could hold so many memories? I don’t remember the can clearly enough to know if Aldi has changed the label in past 12 years. It’s not until I open it that the smell, the feel and especially the bones, remind me that I’ve done this many times before.

My mother decided we should eat more fish, because it had good fats in it. On a limited food budget, and with my father not liking fish, this meant canned salmon.

Once a month at Aldi we added four cans of salmon to our shopping cart, one for each week.

Once a week we would open a can of salmon. We always crushed the bones into the meat of the fish. They had calcium, my mother said. They were good for you. I’d pop a couple of vertabrae into my mouth as I crushed the bones, trying to decide if I like the strange soft-crunchy and slightly gritty texture or not. I never quite decided, but I never missed a chance to eat a few.

And then, we turned them into salmon patties. I didn’t know you could do anything else with canned salmon.

Who knew years later I would stand in my own kitchen many miles away, open an Aldi can of salmon and crush the bones as I drop the salmon into a sunshiny pot of chowder? (Who knew that I could possibly add a handful of the despised mushrooms to my already near-sacrilegious chowder?) And who knew that canned salmon was a reliable and unchanging presence in a world that never stays the same for long?


More than a quarter of my lifetime ago (about seven years) Seth typed in ‘sharppointythings’ in an effort keep Gabrielle and me from becoming terminally indecisive about a URL address and it stuck, even through a blog server change.

A Road Less Traveled aka sharppointythings started with the label ‘a record of our non-college adventures’. After four or five years of ‘not being in college’ we removed the label in recognition that we were drifting down a less defined path of being cultural rebels. We wrote a lot about doing laundry, nieces and nephews, dirty dishes and being single. We wrote about figuring out life and being confused about life and really not wanting to be single. Sometimes we even wrote about giving up on ever getting married. We had our trajectory down pretty well.

Then, almost two years ago, Gabrielle and I split blogs. I kept A Road Less Traveled, and she became Patches of Sunlight. We joked about breaking up and who got to keep the blog, but really, it just felt the time was right. Sad not to be continuing our five year tradition of being completely interchangeable, even on the internet, but about time that we got to pick our own blog templates.

Perhaps we should have split blogs years earlier, because by the end of that same year, I got engaged and Gabrielle was seriously dating. As you might guess, and as long time readers will testify, I got distracted from posting and posted even less than previously during engagement and the first year or so of marriage. Happiness is distracting from serious writing projects.

Over the past couple of months I’ve been feeling the urge to get back to regular writing. (Yes, I’m still very happy, just slightly less distracted than at first.) I’ve been intending to write more blog posts, but every time I start I get distracted by the state of the blog. The categories don’t fit any more. The About page still says I’m single. The Frequently Asked Questions are still hanging around from when Gabrielle shared the blog. In short, A Road Less Traveled is a lumbering behemoth which has lived past its time.

I’ll be transferring some of the posts over to A Day In The Life of The Duct Tape Valkyrie, but A Road Less Traveled will no longer be updated, and as is the way of the internet, will eventually cease to be. ¬†A lot of good times were documented there. So were a lot of heartbreakingly difficult times, but ones that shaped who I am now. When you come down to it, it’s hard to say goodbye.

But without endings, how could there be beginnings?