Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Everything Going Your Way?

by Caren Crane

I hear that Mercury is retrograde these days and that, supposedly, messes with communication, computers...writing. I'm not sure I believe wholeheartedly in astrology, but I can relate to things not going as planned.

This morning, I carefully ground beans and brewed the breakfast of mothers around the world: coffee. I adore coffee. I never drank coffee until I was almost 30. Coincidentally (?) I began drinking coffee when my youngest was three months old (still breast feeding), my father was in ICU (not expected to live) and the two of us were in LA (Lower Alabama) with my four siblings and their significant others, awaiting our father's untimely demise. Coffee, the beverage I disdained for 29-1/2 years, suddenly became my Best Friend Forever. I look forward to coffee every morning and get surly when it isn't just right.

Today, it wasn't just right. My organic half and half, which was perfectly fine yesterday, picked today to clabber in my coffee. ACK! It is impossible to make coffee with off-kilter half and half into the coffee of your dreams. I tried. I shook, stirred, added milk. It is drinkable, but not what I really wanted.

I feel like that about my writing lots of days. The idea I wanted to convey is on the page, but it's not quite what I wanted to say. Almost. In the neighborhood. Pretty darn close. Not what I really wanted. I will keep trying and polishing and editing. Someday (please, Lord, soon!), it will be what I wanted. Or at least really close.

The coffee, however, is a lost cause. I will be forced to go to the grocery and buy more half and half today. I will also write some new pages. Most importantly, I am going back to the NC State Fair this afternoon to use up those remaining ride tickets and have another apple dumpling. Maybe I will look back on today and decide things did go my way, after all. Apple dumplings make any coffee better. *g*

So, what about you? Is everything going your way these days or have you had some disappointments or setbacks? In your perfect, daydream life, what would be going better? Let us know! Meanwhile, I'll be dreaming of unclabbered half and half...


Buffie said...

Good Morning Caren! Coffee - yuck! It smells so divine but taste something awful to me. My father-in-law has been trying to get me to drink coffee for years. He doctors it all up, it smells great, and then I try it . . . and end up spitting it out!!

And when does everything go my way? Never. My hubby is looking at a job loss by the end of the year. The resume has been perfected and we have been emailing to all job announcements we can find. But it is tough. At least I have some good books to take my mind off of it :)

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Buffie, I am so sorry to hear about the stress of the job loss and hunt. I can so relate to it! When the engineering layoffs were in full swing a few years back, my husband was laid off in the fourth wave at his work. I had been working part-time and had to go back full-time.

Then, a year and a half later, I was laid off in the third wave at my company. We really wondered why in the world these things were happening. But, it all worked out well in the end.

My husband had time to spend visiting his mother, who died the next year, then he spent time building a home-based business and was home for the kids in the afternoons. He even learned to shop and cook dinner! (I fully enjoyed six months off with full pay, then went back to work the day my severance ended. *g*)

Now, we are both working full-time again. Although we have more income now, we kind of miss those days. I'm sure this closing door will open a much better window for you guys!

Kirsten said...

I actually feel so blessed by life that I sometimes feel like I'm walking on eggshells, waiting for something horrible to happen! Isn't that ridiculous? Like the TV movie where the heroine's life is so great, so of course that's when someone gets hit by a bus, has a heart attack, gets a disease, or there's a new world war...

Anyway, that's what goes on in my tortured brain! I have a husband I adore, incredible kids, a reasonable job that pays decent money, a house and a neighborhood I love, and enough time at night to pop out a new book a few times a year. Yeah, I figure I've got it pretty good! :-)

Kirsten said...

And I live in the Pacific NW, so coffee's a way of life around here...Keira can back me up on this! Keira! Swing through the lair and talk about our devotion to coffee! :-)

Christie Kelley said...

Ahh, coffee. Even as I write this I'm sipping my second cup of half-caf/half-decaf. But I don't use cream only some skim milk and it was still okay this morning.

I hear your pain, Caren. I'm still trying to get through book 2 and it just isn't coming. It might be because I can't hear my characters over the sound of air-powered hammers and saws and concrete guys. For anyone who doesn't know, we're completely rehabing my house (additions up and out, new roofs, etc).

So I think on Wednesday afternoon I'm going to plop myself down on the pier in my neighborhood and just let my characters talk. I need to get away from it all and see if I can't recapture that magic.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Caren! I'm with buffie. Love the smell, can't abide the taste - unless we're talking ice cream. Coffee ice cream, especially with big chocolate chunks in it, would be worth draggin myself out of bed for. Otherwise, I get my caffeine straight from the can - Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Coke.

As for life, does it ever go smoothly? Seems like there's always something - but that's what keeps the emotions going. In order to have a sense of accomplishment, one also has to have a sense of struggle or despair, so I'm okay with with a less-than-perfect life. The alternative would be ...boring.

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, I hear you on the "lucky, lucky, I'm so lucky" thing. (That was a rip-off of Franz Ferdinand, if you're a fan!)

I think "off" days hit me hard because, generally speaking, I am a naturally lucky person. I never get suspicious when things are going great - I expect them to! So, things like clabbered half and half and bad hair days really bother me.

I spent the entire drive this morning counting my many, many blessings. There are loads!

Caren Crane said...

Christie, I thought of you this morning after I posted. I thought of your roof work and remodeling and wondered if you would think things were going your way.

The stress of remodeling is enormous! If you are able to write at all, you're a far stronger person than I am. I think the ongoing ruckus would zap my creativity. Good on you for getting away to the pier to write.

I'm sure your characters will start talking any minute now!

Caren Crane said...

Donna, I was a diehard Diet Dr. Pepper drinker in the mornings until the coffee called to me. I really think it was the stress of my father's illness, being out of town, and the exhaustion that goes with nursing a newborn that won me over to coffee's evil arms. Either that, or the Persistent Pusher - my oldest sister. *g*

I suppose the bumps keep things interesting, but oddly I find things interesting enough without the drama. *g*

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Coffffeeeeeeee! I love coffee. However, like you, Caren, I didn't become an addic--ahem--coffee drinker until my thirties and the advent of Starbucks in my neighborhood. Ahhhhh. I've always loved the smell of it, and coffee ice cream!? YUM!!! I even have a recipe for this dessert that's a coffee ice cream pie. OMGosh, it's to die for. Didn't drink the stuff though. Then came Starbucks....now, I have one Venti per day. (More and I can't even live with myself, I'm so hyper, even on decaf!)

Oh, and Caren, the use of the word clabber made me homesick.

Ever the optimist, I really love life right now. Like Kirsten, I have a DH I adore, great kids, a funny dog, a book that's going to be out in June...Life, she is GOOT!
I think if you see the bumps as seasoning, you manage to get through them better. We've had some tough spots here at the old homeplace. Still have some brewing things in my family that may spill over into our lives as well, but I'll do a Scarlett and deal with them when they come. :> As my dear Mama would say, no use borrowing trouble before it's time. Grins.

That being said, the writing is just as you say, Caren. Sometimes it's so almost-right you want to erase the whole bloody thing and start over because you can't GET it right. Grrrr. The current mss is going well, so I'm going to knock wood and quit talking about almost right lest I attract it! Ha!

Great post!

AndreaW said...

Oh, I love coffee. It helps to start my day off on the right foot.

Things have not been going my way lately, and that's okay. I got into an accident the other day and my van (which I LOVE dearly) is undrivable. So now I'm temporarily driving a Chevy Cobalt--which is cute, but I'm unsure who coined it a mid-size car because it is SMALL. I'm big on routine, so when something big happens it throws me "off sync". But I'll get back on track soon. The way I figure it, if everyone's life was always perfect and went our way, it would get boring real quick. :)

Cassondra said...

Caren I can SO relate.

You all know my addiction--it's either coffee, or tea made in the British fashion--with sugar and cream--for me. Must have it in the mornings. MUST HAVE IT. Right now I just got done brewing a backup pot of coffee. I say "backup" because I was supposed to go to Starbucks yesterday for a fresh pound of coffee, and I didn't. I forgot. So I staggered to the cupboard, reached inside, and what did I pull out? Six or seven boxes of old Gevalia--all DECAF!!! Oh, the pain, the pain!
AND one small package of those sample size coffees you get on the coffee aisle at the grocery store--this one is chock full of artificial everything. (My life rule is to stay as far away from fake food as possible, so this is major rule breakage.)

It's flavor???? Chocolate Velvet.

That's right. Yep. Brewing it was like a trip through a chocolate factory. I woke up a bit depressed today--not wanting to face the day, worried about dropping $1K on a laptop, wondering if I should call and cancel the order....angsting. I didn't know Mercury was in retrograde. Maybe that's part of it.

The chocolate coffee while reading your blog has made my day better! So thank you Bandita Sister. Your angst has connected with me and I am better for it. Stop for a real cup of the perfect thing at the nearest starbucks.

And get a flavor shot for good measure.

doglady said...

Hey, Caren. The word "clabber" is right up by alley as I live in MA (Middle Alabama)bordering on LA! My MawMaw was always horrified that my brothers and I were the only three of her grandchildren who never learned to drink coffee. We lived in England for three years as children and became avid tea drinkers. Now my brothers will drink coffee on mornings when they go deer hunting, but other than that it has to be tea - iced or hot. Earl Gray teabags are an essential in my house! As is Milo's iced tea. I think my life is in a transition mode at present. I have written stories since I was 9 (living in England) but it has only been in the last year that I decided it was something I was meant to do. I love it so much now, even when it is going badly. The problem is that I have come to resent my ddj (dreaded day job) terribly because it takes time and energy away from my writing. It does, however, pay the bills. Still, I have my 5 little acres in a small town where everyone knows my name. An early morning sitting on my porch, sipping Earl Gray, watching the wildlife cures most of my ills.

Cassondra said...


I hope you weren't hurt in that accident! I just saw your post. For some reason when I scrolled through to read them, I missed this one. So sorry about your beloved van. Is it totaled? Can it be fixed?

But mostly, are you okay?

Caren Crane said...

Jeanne, you absolutely have to share the coffee ice cream pie recipe. I must have it! Now, now, now!! Er...I mean, it would be lovely if you would share. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Andrea, I'm so sad to hear about your van! I adore my van, too. My husband got a new car recently and he is always nudging me to look at new cars. Now, my van is 10 years old and has over 200k miles, so she's done her time. But I hate the thought of a new vehicle. I don't want another van, but I don't want an SUV, either. My van handles just like a car! When I am forced to get something else, I will be very hard to please. My heart aches for you, without your darling van!

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, chocolate velvet coffee? Oh, the decadence! You're right--there can't be anything real in there. *g* But what a treat!

Don't worry about the laptop. I'm sure it will revolutionize your writing and make you tons more productive. Oodles and gobs!

Off to Starbucks with you. Have a vanilla shot for me. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Doglady, it sounds like heaven where you are! I'm originally from TN, so AL was a place oft visited by us. Our big school field trip every year was to the Space Center at Huntsville. My father lived in Fairhope, across the bay from Mobile. Lovely area!

I share your love of Earl Grey. As a matter of fact, the Earl greeted me when I got to work and helped me overcome my Coffee Incident of this morning. *g* Coffee: the essential ingredient in red-eye gravy.

Anna Sugden said...

Great post Caren - ack on the coffee/half and half woes. Being the resident Brit, hot English Breakfast tea (no iced or Earl Grey thank you!) is the start to my day. I do like latte's, but soooo many calories!

So, what does clabber mean? gone off?

I'm one of those with many blessings and some yucky stuff like rejections. After losing both my cats this year too, I'm ready for some good news!

Buffie - hugs on hubby's job woes. Hope it all works out for the best.
AndreaW - glad you're okay even if your van needs surgery.
Christie - hugs on the writing and roofing woes - sending you inspiration vibes!

Jeanne - I'm a terrible trouble-borrower! Thank goodness for hubby, who doesn't.

Donna MacMeans said...

AndreaW -

Sending cyberhugs on the car-crunch. That would totally screw up my world. Hope you're in a good angsty part of your WIP so you can write off your frustration.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, MAN! See? This is why I try to be first on the Bandita postings! Otherwise I have all these interesting posts to answer.

Caren, great post! Not a coffee drinker - the caffeine sends me hyper. And you've seen me without caffeine. Imagine how scary I am with it! My morning ritual is weak milky tea. Cranky as a bear if I don't get that! Anna and Pam, we'll have to get together one morning and discuss the world!

Buffie, sorry to hear about your husband's job. Fingers crossed something will turn up that's just what he wants. But it's so horrible to be caught in limbo, isn't it?

Christie? Renovations! Ugh! I admire you writing through all the chaos. I sure couldn't.

Jeanne, hand over that ice cream pie recipe or there will be TROUBLE! ;-) Coffee ice cream is one of nature's masterpieces. Ansell Adams even took a photo of it!

Andrea, hope you're OK after the accident. Hugs on the van going to the big van shop in the sky!

On the cycle thing, I'm awfully superstitious. I like to pretend I'm not, but yeah, I am. My critique partner (Annie West, I hope you're not reading this, it will just encourage you) laughs her head off at me when I say, "Oh, things happen in threes" or whatever. Anyway, I've just been through seven really awful years and I really feel another different and hopefully better cycle is beginning. I hope I'm not jinxing myself saying that. Oh, dear, I AM superstitious!

Cassondra, hope the fake stuff was fun!

Susan Seyfarth said...

Hi, Caren!

Mercury's in retrograde? Well, that explains everything! I've spent the last week or more chasing my tail trying to write a synposis that just WON'T gel, & trying to rewrite a first chapter for more POW. Not happening. Stupid Mercury. :-)

And DONNA!! My SISTER!!! Coffee ice cream -oholics UNITE! Throw in some chocolate chunks & I'm yours.

And Jeanne--I'm with Caren & Anna -- YOu must cough up that ice cream pie recipe ASAP! The holidays are nearly upon us & I'm agonna make me some PIE.

Count me in on wishing Andrea well after her accident, too. Poor van. :-(

All things considered, though, I'm with Kirsten. Wonderful DH, great kids, the freedom to stay home with them. Life's good. Now if I could just write this stupid synopsis... :-)


Suzanne Welsh said...

Caren, I'm an adore-the-smell-hate-the-taste coffee non-drinker, too!

There's a scene from the movie "While You Were Sleeping", which for some reason we haven't mentioned on here yet but I adore, that fits perfectly for your post.

The hero is sitting in the dining room with his dad. It's early morning, dad is drinking coffee and the son brought him some diet-illegal donuts.

Dad says, "Things are good today. You know sometimes you're going along and everything seems just right. The job is going well, the kids are all happy, no one is sick..."(pardon my paraphrasing)

Son: "Dad this isn't one of those times." That before he tells him he doesn't want to inherit or even be in the estate sale business (his father's business) any more.

Isn't life like that sometimes?

Suzanne Welsh said...


Clabber...it's Southern for "mucked up"
At least that's my interpretation

Christine Wells said...

Caren, great post! Coffee...mmm...love coffee!! Like you, I didn't see the attraction at first but I started drinking it in high school to stay awake and study. At work, it was a great stress-reliever, a small oasis of pleasure amidst the constant pressure of the day. I know coffee is a stimulant, but the simple act of taking 5 minutes away from my desk to make it was a great comfort to me.

Now, I can't start the day without it and I use the making process to uncloud my mind when I write.

As for writing, I always feel like I'm tapping into an alternate universe when I'm writing a story, describing what is already happening. So often, that doesn't translate well onto the page the first time. But as you say, hopefully, we can always make it better. Loved this morning's post!

Helen said...

I love coffee I probably only have about 3 to 4 cups a day but 2 fairly close together when I first wake up need it to start the day and keep going. Like Andrea I work to a routine and if anything goes out of routine the rest of the day just doesn't seem right even if nothing bad goes wrong it just isn't right. I have had a lot of ups and downs thru my life but I really think some of them have made me a stonger person I firmly believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and things have to get better you have to be positive thru the trials that life throws our way although sometimes we are not sure whether we are going to get thru we manage to somehow. I hope everyone has a wonderful day.
Have Fun

Stacy S said...

I agree with Buffie on the coffee. I love the smell of it brewing but no matter how much junk I put in it, still tastes horrible.

I've been laid off this year for most of the summer. Not all bad, but went back to work finally. Only there a few weeks & quit. My boss doesn't seen to think he has to pay his employees. But I've had some interviews this week. So, it's looking up!! One more thing (sorry to go on). We just got our property taxes. Went up $3ooo from last year. We are going to make them recheck them. Other than that things are good..

DownUnderGirl said...

Yup, I'm with the love-the-smell- cant-bear-the-taste brigade. That goes double for coffee ice-cream or coffee falvoured chocolates or lollies.
Tea for me. But please, no Earl Grey. Man if grey had a taste
....that'd be it! Lady Grey on the other hand - now that's a nice drop.

Things have been coasting well for me but was hit by a whammy about a month ago when a good friend totally floored me with the your-not-the-same anymore speech. It was an awful couple of weeks and I felt really down and sick to the core and found it really hard to write. I think it was actually more about her life and how badly it was going but it was so unexpected and I was amazed at how furious she was with me.
Dont think things will ever be the same between us :-(


Caren Crane said...

Vrai Anna, yes, clabbered is "gone off". I love having one word for it. It's quite Southern, but no one else has a better word that I know of. It's not soured, like milk, just gets clumpy when you add it to things. You know, clabbered. *g*

I love teas of all sorts, since that was my warm beverage of choice for the many years before I switched to coffee. I know many do not care for Earl Grey, but I love the scent and taste of bergamot (a bitter orange oil). Then again, I also like gin, which is made from juniper berries (an evergreen-type plant). Probably a relation there, somewhere with me and the bitter things.

Caren Crane said...

Foanna, weak milky tea sounds really nasty. I prefer my tea very strong and completely unmarred by milk, sugar, lemon or anything else people add to tea. I like to steep it until it's full of tannins and really bitter. Hm. Sensing a trend with me and the bitter things...

Caren Crane said...

Susan, put down the synopsis and stop torturing yourself. I try not to put too much stock in the Mercury retrograde thing, but every time people start screaming about their e-mail and computers and synopsis woes and I check, it's usually when Mercury is in retrograde.

It is supposedly a good time to complete projects, but not begin them. See there? Everyone is off the hook for a couple more weeks. Er, unless a deadline looms. Then, you'll just have to fight Mercury. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Suzanne, I love 'While You Were Sleeping'. That's one of the few movies I love that I don't own. I didn't remember that scene with his dad, but it fits exactly! Actually, my day got much better once I left work and went to the State Fair!

I can't talk about Jeannie's pie right now, because I spent the afternoon eating (and watching my daughters eat): funnel cake; hot dog; Polish sausage sandwich; walking taco; frozen banana on a stick with chocolate sauce, chocolate chips and nuts; barbecue sandwich; cheeseburger with chili, cole slaw and onions; french fries; ham biscuit; apple dumpling; fried apple pie; and, a lactose-free hot fudge sundae. Oh, and lots of Diet Pepsi. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Christine, may your coffee be tasty and your day full of joy! I'm with you on the sanity of the coffee break. Ah, to get away from the desk for a minute or two. Bliss!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, I normally have my two cups of half-caf at home, then a couple of mugs of decaf at work. Even though I'm not having much caffeine, I need the coffee. I don't know if it's the warmth, the smell, the taste, or what. But I do love good coffee!

You are right that the rough spots help us enjoy when things are smooth. Like my great afternoon at the Fair. As expected, that apple dumpling erased my memories of the funky coffee! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Stacy, I'm so sorry to hear about your work woes. I tell you, having a job you enjoy (or even don't mind much) is a wonderful thing. I'm sure your perfect job is coming along (for me, I worked in a horrible job for 8 months before landing the wonderful job I have now). In the meantime, keep your chin up. There are better times ahead!

Caren Crane said...

Amy, I will defend the Earl to the death! *g* Actually, I love Earl Grey so much that a friend suggested I try Lady Grey. Ugh! I found her far less tasty. Hm. All this tea talk is making me want to hunt up the Earl. I wonder if he's here in the Lair somewhere?

That is the worst, to be on the outs with your best friend. I recently had a rather terse message from a friend and thought we were going to have one of those talks - you know, the "you're never there when I need you" talks. Fortunately, it turned out to be less drastic than that and things were fine. Bullet dodged that time. But these things do seem to come out of nowhere when you're on the receiving end.

I'm sure you are a wonderful friend, though, and I'm sure she will come around in time. In the meantime, you always have us Banditas!

Anna Campbell said...

Hmm, CC, is my choice between bitter or weak and tepid? I don't think either is a very flattering description of my personality!

Joan said...


Sorry for the late posting.....the ddj (dreaded day job...I LIKE that) had me getting home late.

Coffee? Ugh, no thanks. Not unless it is soaked in ladyfingers and put in tiramisu. I like it fine in all kinds of desserts but drink it? Never.

And tea. Well, on one of my last trips to Ireland, my friend from Dublin finally talked me into a hot cup. By the time I was finished with it she asked "Would you like some tea with your milk and sugar?".

No, I'm a southern girl through and through and start my morning with an ice cold Diet Coke!

Caren Crane said...

Foanna, ha! The description of your personality would be more like that of a chocolate orange: sweet, sunny and full of fun! *g*

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Buffie and Stacy, sorry about the work woes. And Andrea, sorry to hear about your van, but I hope you didn't suffer any injury yourself.

Isn't is odd how many of us like the smell of coffee but don't like to drink it? Add me to that list, and the one who likes coffee ice cream, but only if it's on something like a hot gooey brownie dessert. Oddly enough, I don't drink tea of any kind either.

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I hear you! Until I was wooed to the Dark Side when my dad was dying, I loved a diet soda in the morning. I really never thought that would change! I will admit, in the middle of summer when it's incredibly hot outside, I will sometimes have a diet soda instead of coffee. My soda of choice is Coke Zero. Yummo!

Caren Crane said...

Trish, I completely understand loving the smell/hating the taste of coffee. I had that sort of relationship with coffee for many, many years. Tried to drink it in college, but never liked it.

I love coffee ice cream - and I don't really care that much for ice cream. The best was the kaffee glace in Switzerland. Coffee ice cream to die for! Of course, they have all those cows in Switzerland...

doglady said...

Having my last cup of the day with the Earl (I like that, Caren.)The Earl is the last to touch my lips before I go to sleep. How romantic. (Snork, to quote FoAnna)Wishing each and every one of you a day of good things, good food and good company tomorrow! I have to face the ddj tomorrow, but I will emerge victorious (even if I have to kill somebody!)

DownUnderGirl said...

Thanks Caren.


Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Pam, I got 'snork' from Her Grace Jeanne.

AndreaW said...

Thanks so much for your well wishes, Banditas. It truly means a lot to me. My kids and I are fine. My van is able to be repaired (thank goodness!), but I'm unsure how long it will take. It's funny, 10 years ago I never would have thought I'd even have a van, much less love one the way I do mine. Thanks again, ladies!