A quotation credited to the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe came to mind as I read this issue’s Heart of the Home stories: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."
Although there’s some controversy whether Goethe actually wrote that passage, I think it’s a worthy one. It certainly has been my guiding principle – and had everything to do with my becoming a writer. A number of contributors this month mentioned their dreams of being a writer "someday," which also makes it a statement worth sharing.
As far as I know, my mother had never read that quote, yet she embodied it. My sister, June Calvin, began writing romance novels in her 50s and won First Place in a national writing organization with her first novel. My mother mentioned one day that she’d always wanted to write, so June encouraged Mom to do it. They formed a writers’ club devoted to critiquing and editing each other’s stories. Eventually, June had 12 or so novels published, and, at age 80, my mom saw her first novel published. She went on to write and publish two more before her death at 86.
During the years before her death, Mom enjoyed something of the author’s life, giving talks at writing clubs and assisted living centers, encouraging others in their writing and in their dreams. Until her funeral, I wasn’t aware of the difference she had made for so many, but many of the people in attendance agreed that my mother had been bold, and had seemed to have captured a certain genius, power and magic.
I know a career that pays the bills isn’t possible for everyone who dreams of writing. It’s a tough world, and opportunities are few, but, if you feel compelled to communicate through the written word, what are you waiting for? Sit down and get started. Tell your stories, write your poems, and let yourself be deeply known.
Recently, a woman in one of my volunteer organizations quietly handed me a book of poetry she had written and self-published. It will never make her a penny, but I went home and read it that night. Now I can say I know her in a way I never had before. That’s what art provides, and it’s as close as the end of your fingertips.
We might even have a writing opportunity for you – writing about lard. Yes, you read that right. As it turns out, lard’s reputation is being redeemed as health issues from trans-fat consumption rise and as increasing numbers of people raise pastured, heirloom pigs. For many years, it was believed that fat from plants was superior to fat from animals. As it turns out, some of the vegetable-based fats and shortening are worse for you than good old-fashioned lard.
So, since we have a database full of recipes contributed by CAPPER'S readers over many decades, we’re putting together a lard cookbook and are looking for even more lard stories to include. Do you remember your family rendering it? Do you remember special recipes that only tasted good with lard? Did your family keep a big tub on hand for everything from cooking pies to keeping the cook’s hands soft and lubricating the wheels on your little Red Flyer wagon?
When I moved to New Mexico in the 1980s, I tried to make the holiday cookie bizcochitos, but they just didn’t taste right. Then a new friend shared the secret ingredient: lard. Bizcochitos without lard are like chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips. I tried it and, voila! Cookies just like my Hispanic neighbors made.
What’s your story?