I'm rebelling. (Don't tell my kids.) I've had several of my blogging friends lately talk about rediscovering their inner Martha. They're baking incredible goodies from scratch. They're decorating their homes beautifully with leftover stuff from other people's garbage. They're fashioning fantastic fall and Christmas decorations with bare tree branches. They're building looms and weaving scarves for everyone within walking distance. Seriously, I thought they were kidding until they posted pictures. I know it's the season. There's something about the colors and crisp air of autumn that makes everyone get in touch with their inner Martha.
My own inner Martha exists for the sole purpose of mocking me.
I'm not getting anything from my muse. At first I chalked it up to the fact that I live in Florida. There are no fall colors around here. Everything is green all the time. Plus, we've been struggling with ninety degree temperatures. Who wants to bake in that kind of heat? Who would want to crochet/knit/weave/embroider something warm and fuzzy? Get me an ice cream cone and turn the air conditioning up a little, will ya?
Still, I knew that cooler temperatures were coming. I've been preparing. I've bought lots of goodies that I can spend hours baking into wonderful treats that will disappear from the kitchen in less than three minutes. I have an unfinished afghan sitting in my closet, waiting until it's cool enough so that I can stand to be around all that yarn without hyperventilating. My sewing machine tempts me with the thought of the new skirts I could make in great fall colors.
But I didn't do any of these things. It was too warm. I hung onto the promise of cooler weather and knew that I could summon my inner Martha as soon as the temperatures dropped. In the meantime, I bought two new skirts at a great sale price. I moved the afghan further back in the closet because I kept tripping over it. And I ended up throwing out three different bunches of overripe bananas, waiting for cooler weather so I could make banana bread.
And now a cool front has gone through. Humidity is finally gone, and everyone is enjoying a pleasant breeze and temperatures that let you open the windows once in a while. I'm ready for crafts. I'm ready to bake. I'm ready to channel Martha!
There's just one problem. I'm not Martha. If I use tree branches to decorate, I end up looking like I found a weird spot to keep the wood for the fireplace. I'm losing patience with crocheting long before that afghan will take shape. And sewing? Get real. I have no place to set up. And I'm just not in the mood. Desperate to resurrect my Martha, I turned to the kitchen. Not the room of my greatest triumphs, but still I've pulled off a few great moves in my time.
I decided caramel apples were a great thing to do. In the past I've been known to buy those pre-shaped circles of caramel. Stretch them over the apple, pop in the oven for five minutes and voila! The only problem being the circles never completely stretched over the apples. And they tore in odd spots. Nosiree, this time I was going to put some actual effort into this. So I bought a package of caramels. I patiently (or not so patiently) unwrapped each individual caramel. I was a little worried that there wouldn't be enough candy to cover the apples because someone had already eaten some. (The rule in our house is, if it's been around for longer than twenty-four hours, it's open season.) I started melting the caramels on the stove, but that was taking too long, so I dumped them in a bowl and microwaved them to soft perfection. I started dipping the apples while the boys oohed and aahed. I even let them dip a couple of apples in the bowl. My inner Martha glowed. Briefly.
I was talking to a friend on the phone while I performed my domestic feat. The next day we talked again, and she asked me how my apples turned out. Somewhere in the conversation she realized that I had actually made caramel apples just for the fun of it. There was no church fellowship. No outing where I was required to reach beyond my strengths and produce something I'm not equipped to produce.
She was genuinely surprised.
And that's when it hit me. I don't have an inner Martha. Everyone knows I don't have one. She's not a part of my genetic makeup. Seriously, no one really expects me to channel Martha. So why do I expect it of myself? Right then and there I did the only thing I could. The only thing that, as a suspense writer, made sense to me. I killed off the inner Martha.
It felt good.
I'll probably still do some baking. After all, I've got another bunch of bananas ripening on the counter. And I always make Christmas cookies when the time comes. But when I do that it'll be because I'm in the mood to bake. Not because some non-existent entity is goading me into doing it. If I crochet, it'll be because I feel like it. And my decorating? I'm going back to copying things I've seen in magazines, using strictly store bought and decorating-ready objects. I'm not frustrating myself anymore. I'm free!
Next week I'm planning something really horrible for my inner June Cleaver.