Planning for Dragons

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 
My husband planned to mow the lawn today, but last night this happened.
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We were not home at the time, but apparently we missed quite a thunderstorm. Our two cats witnessed the event, but they’re not talking. As we drove home from a fun evening with friends at the Auburn Road Vineyard and Winery, we watched as lightening traveled from cloud to cloud and sometimes from cloud to the ground. We weren’t driving in the rain; it was all in the distance, and it was quite amazing to watch. We were fortunate that there was no damage to our house, cars, or neighbors’ property. As with dragons, when you live near trees, you must consider them in your calculations.

 

Of course, plans go awry all the time. We encounter traffic delays and arrive late somewhere; we have to move an outdoor event indoors because of rain. And we change what we are writing because of new evidence or a sudden, brilliant idea. OK. I suppose there are some writers who plan everything and never change a word, or bit of punctuation. I’m not one of them.

 

When I was writing my doctoral dissertation about marital problems in eighteenth and early nineteen-century Pennsylvania, which became Breaking the Bonds, I could not plan the chapters until I had done the research—and, of course, I kept finding new material. At the same time, I searched desperately to find particular court records and other documents that no longer existed. Or to discover more about the men and women I encountered in court dockets and almshouse records, people who were not well known or wealthy, and in fact, were often poor and desperate. I planned and wrote, and planned again, and wrote some more. I had a baby during this process—also planned—but I did not know then how having a baby would change how and when I worked. Writing a dissertation is one big life lesson on planning and re-doing plans.
This has proven true for most of my writing. What I plan to write about in my books and in my blog changes constantly.

 
As some of you know, I often change a cooking plan in mid-recipe (or more likely mid-non-recipe). A few weeks ago, I had some bananas I wanted to use up, and also a few strawberries. So I made strawberry banana walnut bread. This is my new super-easy and delicious banana bread recipe, adapted from Simply Recipes. My version is mainly banana bread with just a hint of strawberry. Because I think banana bread is kind of naked without walnuts, I also added some ground walnuts to the original recipe.

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So here’s the recipe. You might want to plan to make it some time, or not.
Super Easy Banana Strawberry Bread
3 ½ medium bananas
About 4 strawberries
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup (approximately) ground walnuts
Melt butter. (I use the microwave to melt the butter in the same mixing bowl I’m going to use for the recipe.) Mash bananas and strawberries into the butter with a potato masher or other tool of your choice. Or use your hands if you want to. I don’t care. Mix in the egg—you can use the same potato masher, spoon, hands. . .Stir in the sugar and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the salt and baking soda on top, and stir. Add the flour and nuts. Bake in a greased loaf pan for about 1 hr at 350 degrees. Cool. Then remove the bread from the pan. Eat and do a little dance—because it will make you that happy. Plan on it.  Image

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