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I can’t remember if I posted this recipe before, but I made it last night so I’ll post it today.

This was my late grandfather’s recipe. We just love it, but it’s so rich we don’t have it very often.

SOCK IT TO ME CAKE (baked in a Bunt pan)

  • 1 box butter cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick margarine or butter
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

You can do this three ways: You can mix the nuts in with the batter so that they’re distributed all through the cake. You can mix the nuts in with the brown sugar and cinnamon. You can do both.

Mix together everything but the brown sugar and cinnamon (and nuts, if that’s how you’re doing it). Beat well, pour half of the batter into the pan. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon (and nuts, if that’s how you’re doing it) together. Sprinkle over batter in pan; then pour the remaining batter in pan. Bake at 350F until done, about 40-50 minutes.

To make the glaze, mix a little softened butter and some powdered sugar and a little milk. Stir it until it’s smooth and thick, then spoon it over the top of the cake.


This has been a Grandpa weekend: Today in church, we sang his favorite hymn, which is also my favorite, “It Is Well With My Soul.” The church organist plays it for me as a recessional every Fourth of July or the Sunday closest to it, because that was Grandpa’s birthday and I told her it was his favorite hymn. Our new preacher, NOT knowing that, chose it to sing today because it’s HER favorite.

I put out a sign-up sheet for people to bring goodies on Sunday morning. We used to have them every Sunday morning, but that’s fallen by the wayside, and I miss it, so I wanted to revive it. We have about 6 women signed up (I said, “Men can do it to, you know!”) and we may just do it on the first Sunday of the month, so each of us will only have to do it twice a year. I like having that back. It’s friendly.


writing prompt: Give a character a couple of days filled with reminders of someone who is gone.

Today was my first stint as Elder. I was way nervous, up behind the table, but they tell me I did okay. Connie asked me later if I liked it better than being Deacon, and I had to say no. I like being Deacon because Deacons go up and down the aisles and take offering and pass out communion, and you get to see everybody and make faces at the kids and stuff. Being Elder feels all solemn. But I was pleased to be doing it, anyway.

I was the Cup Elder today. Here was the prayer I gave:

Dear God, we thank you for this gift of new wine. As we drink your wine of compassion, melt our hearts of stone and bring us to new life in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen. Let us now drink the cup.

Short and sweet.

It’s so cold today, I’m surprised the trees aren’t exploding. I made the hound come into the basement last night. He came willingly, but he kept whining to go back out during the night. I was like, You just think you want to go out! I think the problem is that Charlie was burning wood and I think Joe thought the basement was burning down. After he got used to the smokey smell, he calmed down. We have food and water down there for him, and a bit of carpet to lie on, and today he won’t go out again! Just as well. It’s going to be way below freezing all week, and I don’t want a big black pupsicle on my hands.

I’m going to work on my web site a little more today. I’d like to get it up, even if it isn’t finished or perfect. Then I’ll need to decide if I’m going to move this blog to it or leave it here. But first, I’ma have a leftover baked potato for lunch. And maybe one to hold in each hand and one for each foot.


writing prompt: A dog gets in a character’s house and won’t go out.

I sat down this morning, ready to rant, but I just can’t do it. It isn’t laziness this time, it’s irony.

Our interim pastor, Marc Wessels, and the interim before him, Dean Bucalos, and our pastor before them, Neal Kentch, as well as some parishioners (including myself, from time to time) have been frustrated by the congregation’s shortage of cohesive evangelical oomph. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is technically an evangelical denomination, and you know what that means: Evangelicals do it and talk about it.

Fact is, though, our congregation practices Habits of Highly Effective People. What is it a Christian is really supposed to do? Bring the light and love of God into the lives of the people around us. Not wear gang colors and cruise around in posses and drag people off the street and say, “Hey. You. You know how to pray? Better learn fast.” I can look around our congregation and think, “This one does this and that one does that and this other one is active in such-and-such volunteer organization.” The reason I started coming to Corydon Christian was because I met Neal at a volunteer organization meeting we both attended and I was impressed with the compassion and openness he brought to it.

Oh, well.

Marc really gave it to us with both barrels this past Sunday, making sure we knew he was telling an allegory for the church and then telling us a story about tame geese who loved “hearing about what they could be and do as long as they didn’t have to be it or do it.” Way harsh, Marc. News: We’re already doing it and being it. We just don’t wave flags. Yeah, it doesn’t attract many members to our church, but it makes a difference to the lives of the people our people touch, and I think that’s the real idea.

It was a great sermon, though. I’ll do more of what I already do because of it.


writing prompt: Write an allegory.

I missed my church this Sunday, because Mom and I went to her church and then to the Opera (HANSEL AND GRETEL. Don’t ask.). So today, I got caught up with some of the news, and WE HAVE A PREACHER! At least, we’ve called one, and will have a reception for HER on December 6.

I’m like–YAY! I mean, I really really like the interim ministers we’ve had. They’ve both been blessings, each in his own way, but there’s a sense of unsettledness (not a word, but should be) about having an interim. In a way, it’s been great, because each interim has challenged the congregation and made at least some of us look at our church from different angles. On the other hand, Disciples of Christ are all ministers and don’t really technically HAVE to have a professional minister. Before we got our first interim, we took turns preaching, and it was fine. Still, I think we’ll feel like we’re buckling down to business if this call goes through.

They tell me that the minister before the one who was preacher when I joined was a woman, and she was fantastic. She came back as guest preacher one Sunday not long ago, and I agree–she’s fantastic! I hardly think being a fantastic preacher is gender-specific, but I’m ready to give it a shot.

I sure will miss Marc Wessels, our current interim, but I miss Dean Bucalos, who was interim before him. Still, I’m WAY excited about our having a regular minister again. I have a feeling it will revitalize our congregation. W00t!


writing prompt: If you were a minister or just a lay preacher, what would the theme of your first sermon be?

Today was the first day I performed my Deaconess duties solo and, except for one minor mishap, all went well.

Church was all about me, today. I was Deacon AND Deaconess (the titles are task-specific, not gender-specific). If I’d also been Worship Leader, I might have staged a coup. Good thing, huh?

I put the little crunchy bread pillows in the wafer trays and put them on the altar. I put the communion cups in the communion trays and filled them with grape juice and put them on the altar.

juicedHere is one of the juice trays with the cups in it. No, I am not anal retentive. Just because I put the cups into the trays in a pattern and did all of them EXACTLY THE SAME, I am not going all Adrian Monk at church. No, I am NOT.

I clearly remember the first time I took communion at my new church. I had just come down off of being Catholic for umpty years. Took the cup, bowed my head, communed with the prayer, tossed it back and choked. I didn’t spew it out all over the woman in the pew in front of me and I just BARELY managed to keep myself from croaking, “It’s freakin’ GRAPE JUICE!”

Okay, back to today. I got the show loaf out of the freezer. I don’t know if it has an official name, but I call it the show loaf because nobody eats it. The preacher holds it up and breaks it, then holds up the chalice (empty) and talks about the Last Supper and the institution of communion. So I got out the loaf and nuked it so it would be soft and cut a cheat slit in it so it would break more easily, and it’s a darned good thing I did. I seem to have over-nuked it. Though it was soft when I took it out of the microwave, by the time Marc uncovered it, elevated it and demonstrated how Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it…. Well, when he broke that bread, he broke that bread. Crumb shrapnel flew everywhere. Added a fillip of drama to an already impressive service.

Marc (our interim minister) has a stepson who hopes and plans to go into the ministry. He just graduated from high school, but ours is the third church he’s preached for. An excellent sermon, on the meaning of Christian love and what it means to lay down your life for others. He said it simply means, no more and no less, than putting another person’s or other persons’ well-being above your own. We can do it by letting somebody else have the best parking space. We can do it by letting somebody else go ahead of us in line at the grocery. We can do it by lots of small acts, as well as by truly large and heroic acts. I told him that we’re currently searching for a new minister, but he insists on going to college first.Candle 2Candle 1

Oh, and I also checked to make sure the candles were in order. Here is a picture of one of our beautiful and impressive perfect candles and THE TRUTH REVEALED–an exposé you won’t see anywhere else! That silver bit at the bottom of the little candle rests on a spring. I made VERY CERTAIN I screwed the cap on tightly. The last thing I wanted was for the little acolytes to come up and snuff the candles at the end of the service and jiggle the cap loose and have a candle launch itself into outer space. Maybe a little too much drama, although Marc is a space fan.

Then I had to stay after church to clean everything up and put everything away, which was fun because Carol came back and talked to me about her Jane Austen Ball she went to a couple of weeks ago. She is so cool.

I’ll post pictures of World on the Square in a couple of days, whenever I get to town to use the high-speed internet. I’m doing this on dial-up, folks. Pray for me.


writing prompt: Write a scene where something embarrassing and amusing happens in church during a service.

I love the picture that conjures up, of Dr. Wessels up to his knees in the creek, with a line of box turtles and snappers waving their little turtle heads and singing, “As I Went Down To the River To Pray”. As long as the Holy Spirit doesn’t descend on any of them in the form of an eagle, it’s a happy little scenario.

What I mean, of course, is that we are kindred spirits in that we both brake for turtles crossing the road. Then we differ. I favor moving them to the side of the road they’re facing. He favors taking them someplace where there is no nearby road. I’m like, what if they have wives and children waiting for them? Like, “Daddy went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back.” He believes that is unlikely.

The Southern Indiana Writers had a book signing yesterday. Many of us came, but few of the people who showed great enthusiasm when I told them about it actually showed up. We did sell some books, but not many. Maybe a library is not a particularly good venue for us. We’re working with Magdalena’s on an event for July that sounds like a lot of fun. More details as they emerge. It was kind of pathetic–Karen was standing there trying to work out the details with us and we were all talking at once, mostly at cross-purposes. It’s like herding cats. We WILL work it out, though.


writing prompt: Write a scene where somebody has to baptize a turtle.

My mother gave me a recipe for Chinese Style Country Ribs from the 50+ Friends Club Cookbook. She said she had made it on top of the stove, since she doesn’t have a crock-pot (slow cooker) and it was wonderful. I have a slow cooker (or so it claims to be), so I thought I’d give the recipe a try. Mom even gave me a package of boneless ribs.


From the Kitchen of Sylvia

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 Tbsp catsup
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 to 4 lbs. country-style spareribs (boneless ribs)

Combine soy sauce, marmalade, catsup and garlic. Brush on both sides of ribs. Place in slow-cooking pot. Pour remaining sauce over all. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

bbqfailWell, I didn’t have 1/4 cup of marmalade, and I didn’t feel like crushing a clove of garlic and I had a bottle of honey-garlic barbecue sauce, so I mixed that with the marmalade I had and followed the rest of the directions and went out for the day. Unfortunately, the slow-cooker did NOT follow the directions, cooked hot even though it was set on low, and burned the ribs. I’m talking charcoal, folks. There was enough of it edible enough that we could choke it down along with some good food I had intended as side dishes, but most of it was so charred on the outside it wasn’t worth the effort getting to the dry remnants in the middle.

I gave most of it to Joe (The Noble Hound). He ate it, but the look of reproach he cast upon me as he took the first bite will haunt me forever.

Today I went to church only learn that our coming new minister changed his mind and is going to stay where he is. Meh. Our interim minister, believing, along with us, that he needed to move on, made other commitments, so we’ll be pastorless again while the Search Committee goes back to the drawing board. That means I may preach again. Can I get an AMEN?

Dept of Coincidences: I’m reading Diane Mott Davidson’s THE LAST SUPPERS, one of those mysteries with recipes in them. Last night, the chapter I read had a recipe for Almond Poppyseed Muffins, which she made for the after-church snack. Today, after church, I went to see if anybody had made anything for snacks, and my young friend Karen had made–Almond Poppyseed Muffins. And she’s never read the book or heard of the author. A happy coincidence, indeed.


Writing prompt: Give a character a happy coincidence that somewhat mollifies a deep disappointment.

I signed up to be a worship leader at my church–Corydon Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We have enough signed up that I only had to do it twice this year. I notice from the schedule that I’m only scheduled ONCE next year…. I forgot the call to worship, the first thing I was supposed to do. I kept forgetting what I was saying. I forgot the word “chapter” in saying what the reading was–“Isaiah, …uh…uh…uh… CHAPTER two….” I was going to read from my own Bible, which is, I think, a more natural and graceful translation, but I chickened out and read the church one, which goes kind of “this doesn’t sound like it makes a whole lot of sense, but it’s a little bit poetic–not as poetic as the King James version, though, so you lose most of the poetry while gaining not much more sense.” Luckily, we’re pretty raggedy-andy about things at CCC(DofC), and don’t pay much attention to screw-ups as long as the person messing up is making a genuine attempt. *sigh*

One of the kids who came up for the pastor’s Children’s Moment brought his baby sister, who got away from him and he was trying to corral her without making her cry. While the pastor was praying with the kids, the baby crawled right away, with her brother after her. The pastor opened his eyes, looked at where they had been, and said, “It’s the rapture! –Oh, there they are.” heee!

Mom and I are going to a birthday party today for a friend. It’s a surprise party, but she’s one of the almost everybody who don’t read my blog (the freedom!!) so I won’t be spoiling the surprise.

I added a bunch of stuff to this blog yesterday, and I’m going to streamline my professional web site for January. If I could have one totally selfish holiday wish, it would be that nobody would come here or to my web site looking for a p*o*e*t with the same name as I who wrote beautiful stuff during \/\/ \/\/ one, or who come looking for an essay to steal for their English as a Second Language class about their female parental unit. Several times a year, I get big spikes in my stats when the teachers give those assignments. *heavy sigh*

Oh, well, happy whatever day this is besides Sunday. I’m sure it’s a holiday somewhere, la la la.


Writing prompt: Does your character ever get stage fright? Under what circumstances? How does he/she cope, as is the coping strategy ever successful or ever unsuccessful?

This is one of those days when I’m running sideways to keep from flying. Mom and I had a Community Unity meeting this morning. I evaded being nominated Co-Moderator again, which carries an understood follow-up year as Moderator. Been there, done that, would do it again, but I managed to duck it THIS time! All the active members are very active and very willing and, as Scott said this morning, self-starters, so Moderating is not an onerous job. I just don’t need to deliberately take on a teeny bit more responsibility just now.

See, I’ve already agreed to help set up a web site for my church, Corydon Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and have a meeting about it this afternoon.

Then, since it’s Thursday, I have a meeting with Southern Indiana Writers. I’m ready to put on my pj’s and turn in already.


Writing Exercise: You’re overextended. A new opportunity comes up. Either you turn it down, or something you’re already committed to or enjoy has to give. Put several characters in this situation and see what choices each would make.

Here I am at the library, and I’m thinking about going home.

FOOL that I am, I volunteered to do a web site for my church. –I’m looking forward to it, which just shows how warped I am. I already have a fan site up for it, which is WAY out-dated, as is the official site, which is why we want a current one. ANYWAY, I dropped by church to confer with the interim pastor and the secretary, thinking they would be there today, and they weren’t. So I went on in (I haz a kee) and set up my laptop, figuring to use the church’s shiny new internet access. Requires a password, which in my case I have not got.

So I came to the library, thinking I could go park in the conference room, make coffee, heat up my sack lunch…. The conference room is reserved today.

Oh, well, I can set up WordPress on my server so I can use it for a pro site for my writing and merch…. and cPanel is not loading there today.

So now I’m thinking, FRACK! I’ll just go home.

If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me, I’ll be well off, yes?


Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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