Back to Normal

We are back from Las Vegas. The main point in going was to meet up with my husbands friend Sid. Sid is a slick looker, but he is an incredibly gentle human being with a big heart.  He has a wonderful sense of humor as well. I am happy to call him my friend too. 

My tastes in vacations have changed a huge amount, however. Las Vegas just was not for us. It was crowded and pushy. The noise was constant no matter where we went. We got nickle and dimed to death the whole time. Although we did have a few good moments in the Lego store, in the Hard Rock Cafe,  we just wound up feeling overwhelmed most of the time. I far prefer the beach or the forest. 

Most people who have traveled with me have noted my increasing discomfort with airplanes over the years. This time it came to a head. The slightest bit of turbulence on the way back to Portland sent me into helpless, and humiliating, tears. So I did the only thing I could do, I wrote. 

"How Is It?"

How is it that the strongest of medications no longer work? I weep public tears of humiliation when there is the slightest tremor. Yet I have flown a military jet strapped in sideways and thought nothing of the tremors that now threaten to send me into hysterics.

I feel such a weakling. A child who knows no better. An ignorant savage who does not trust the technology she espouses.

Are there really no atheists in foxholes? Am I calling for some god to save my physical being or perhaps just something to keep me from being afraid of the fear itself.. I wonder. I do not wish to die. I am afraid every moment I will do so. I have confidence in those who do this every day, but can I trust the machine itself. The construct my brain has come up with to replace this comfortable airplane. Every tremor sends me into a paroxym of fear. please...please...please... Who am I begging? What am I really afraid of? Is it that I haven't finished life yet, or that it (death) might be painful?  I control nothing. I know this.  Yes, that is what I am most fearful of. That I really do not control my own destiny, my own fate. I want to control that.


But the fear ends eventually, and we made it safely to the ground. The kindness of an ex sonar-tech kept my attention through the worst of the descent. My thanks. And now things are getting back to normal. Our two guinea pigs are back in their big cages for which they are enormously grateful. I have my computer, my comfortable seat, my quiet house, my Oregonian neighborhood. We've got some nice photos and great memories with Sid :D

Bowie? Yeah, lets talk about David...Bowie.

I never went to a Bowie concert. Never heard him live, never met him. Yet David Bowie was the same part of my life that he was to millions of others. I watched his videos, I listened to his music. I was entranced by the way he wove his art. 

In Blackstar we see lots of images, very very Bowie like. Not always understandable, at first. But I can see lots that makes sense to me. I see lots of imagery that occurs from his entire career, his life.  

Now I note that there are lots of people out there with their own take on the imagery that Bowie put out in this video. Some people have said it's based in the occult. I don't agree with this. Though David Bowie did take inspiration from the occult, from Kabbalah, even from Judaism...I think that's where it ended. I don't think he took occultism or any religion very seriously. I think I take occultism more seriously than Bowie, I offer up a pomegranate every winter for the Gods sake. 

Symbolism was a big part of David Bowie's work. In the beginning of Blackstar we are seeing an astronaut very far from home. Has Major Tom landed on some other world, dying there after leaving the bounds of Earth? He got farther than anyone else ever did.  Surely Major Tom did a MAJOR thing for the human race. He surpassed his tin box. 

Blackstar then shows us what appears to be a woman walking toward Major Tom's corpse with an eclipsed sun in the background. On second look, however, the woman has very masculine features, a cleft chin, a strong nose. If this is a woman, it's a VERY strong woman. And the tail seems to mark them not as a woman, but as some evolved form far in the future. They walk with the assurance of a person who knows exactly what they are doing. 

One of the reasons I don't like popular rap is because rap artists scream at me. I don't want people to tell me what to be, what to think, what to do. And I really hate being yelled at.  I want someone like Bowie who is enticing me to think. "Look at this Linda. These people, they're shaking. What does that mean to you?"

David, people shake when they are scared. When they are so scared there is nothing left but to just stand and shake. It's almost like these people are afraid of life itself. This woman knows what she wants. She just goes and gets it.   Whether the interpretation is right or wrong, I've been forced to think about it. 

Holding that book up, Bowie is offering me his whole life story. "Read my story and then be free. Be free and write your own story."  Bowie spent his whole life trying to be his own person. He wanted to be who he wanted to be, say what he wanted to say, do what he wanted to do. 

Major Tom wound up far from home, but he escaped the boundaries of Earth.  And when I see that castle, the fortress that I am positive could be nothing other than the fortress from Labyrinth, it's very nostalgic. 

It is fitting, so very fitting, that when I search the BBC for news about David Bowie's album, what I see is quite possibly the best tribute of all.

Shots. omg...shots.

I have to go get a shot. An immunization shot. I am not a fan of this. But it's necessary. A Tdap shot is a vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).  Now when I say I'm not a fan, what I really mean to say is that I am pooped scared of the needle. Getting blood taken from me is one thing, but actually putting something IN is totally different. It's like a violation. 

But then I think of the alternative. Tetanus, or lockjaw causes stiffness of the jaw, possible seizures, involuntary muscle spasms in the stomach area (like doing hundreds of sit-ups and not being able to stop), high blood pressure, difficulty swallowing...oh yeah, then there's that death thing. I've seen cows with tetanus. Untreated they walk around with their tongues hanging out woodenly, drooling like mad, until they fall over and start seizing, and then they die. It's awful.

Diptheria aka throat distemper...Sore throat, fever, weakness, trouble breathing because of the junk that congeals in your throat. In 1735 an epidemic swept through New Hampshire. Almost 50% of the children in one town died in that epidemic. It wouldn't be until 1826 that it would have a name, and it wouldn't be until 1883 that that the bacteria would be identified. Effective immunization didn't occur until the 1920's. 

Whooping cough, obviously...a cough, but a particular kind of cough. When you breathe back in it sounds like you're making a whooping sound. That's because the breath is slowly being squeezed out of you. The coughing gets so bad you literally can't stop. You vomit violently and the respiratory damage can cause secondary problems such as pneumonia. Seizures, brain damage, and death can follow. A preventative vaccine wouldn't be available until 1930. I think what is most scary about Pertussis is that the single most vulnerable age range is infant. Imagine infant with an uncontrollable cough, perhaps dying from lack of oxygen.

When I think about these diseases, it scares me. It scares me because I take the opportunity to cuddle other kids. I'm all too happy to hold an infant for a few minutes for an overwhelmed mom. If I were to be the one to pass on these diseases because I was selfish enough to refuse to protect myself, I'm not sure that's something I could live with.

So the vaccine, while scary, is something I can live with. And this is how I do it. When I go into the lab, I will ask for two minutes, just two minutes to close my eyes and envision that I am a fucking superhero. I am going to get this shot and it's going to give me my own special superhero power.

Yeah...silly. Insanely silly to imagine myself like that. But c'mon. I'm a geek. If I could walk in there with a costume on, I'd do it. Every once in awhile, I gotta get this shot to make sure that I can use my superpower. But I have to hide it from the government, because if they knew, you know, they'd want to dissect me. So after my shot I give the nurse a wink and say "Thanks" as if we've just conspired and she's my undercover hook up. 

And suddenly, it doesn't hurt so bad anymore and I feel a little better about the world. 

Peas Are The New Beef (review of Beyond Meat)

As a foodie, I'm always out to try the "new thing" and today when I saw a video for Beyond meat 100% plant protein meat, it intrigued me enough that I thought, "Sure, why not?"

The video explained how it wasn't just vegetables smushed together like most grain or veg burgers. It was proteins extracted from the source. The Beast Burger is Pea Protein Isolate. Basically they extract the proteins from peas and put them together into a format which is supposed to taste like and feel like, beef.

Well, even right out of the package, these looked a lot like beef patties.

The smell off the frozen patty is reminiscent of bbq sauce. Slightly smokey and sweet.  They cooked up well. They juiced a tiny bit, didn't stick a whole lot, and only took max 6 to 7 minutes to cook. These patties do not shrink because the fat as the ingredients state are Canola, Palm, and Sunflower oil, no animal fat. The scrapings off the bottom of the pan tasted like the same seasoned scrapings you would get off a regular beef burger pan.

The smell of the cooked patty was definitely meaty. It wasn't as hefty as beef, but it was apparent that enormous amount of thought went into the creation/flavoring/smell of the patty itself.

A taste test proved that this YES, tasted like meat. There is just the slightest textural difference in the bare patty itself. Just a hint of a gelatinous texture difference. A regular beef patty is more grainy. The meaty flavor was wonderfully prominent and wasn't too smokey or salty. 

When it came to eating the burger complete with condiments and lettuce on the bun, I have to admit there is very little noticeable difference between this and a normal 1/4 lb patty you get at the store. It's rich and filling. If someone gave me these burgers with all the trimmings, I might notice a slight difference, but this is not something I'd put down or turn away. One was enough to fill me up. 

I say that this is a viable alternative to beef for me. The care with which this product was crafted gives me hope for the future of meat alternatives. I hope I see these appearing in my local restaurants and likely, I'll be introducing a few of them to these products.

Thank you Beyond Meat team!

Want to try it? You can find a store near you here:

Youtube: The future of protein and meat:

Youtube: Super Meat is better than the real thing:

Zucchini and Mushroom Lasagna


From scratch..

I started with onion, mushroom, parsley, and celery, then just chopped up the celery and parsley together in my food processor. You can do it by hand too. 

I started with onion, mushroom, parsley, and celery, then just chopped up the celery and parsley together in my food processor. You can do it by hand too. 

Cook the onion, mushroom, celery, and parsley all together in a pot until it smells like heaven. Use oil or shortening to keep it from sticking to the pot. 

Cook the onion, mushroom, celery, and parsley all together in a pot until it smells like heaven. Use oil or shortening to keep it from sticking to the pot. 

Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce

Noodles. Don't bother being pretty, no one's going to see it anyway!

Noodles. Don't bother being pretty, no one's going to see it anyway!

Ricotta and Zucchini!

Ricotta and Zucchini!



Whoa, only 1/3 of a cup??

Whoa, only 1/3 of a cup??



More noodles, more sauce

More noodles, more sauce

a liiiiittle more cheese.

a liiiiittle more cheese.

Aluminum foil

Aluminum foil



Well, my thanksgiving meal sure did perk my interest in gourmet cooking again.  For your viewing and drooling pleasure..I give you Lasagna. 

I used no boil noodles and a small oval casserole dish. This limited our servings (good) and it was rather easy to assemble, easier than enchiladas! From start to finish. Remember that all ingredients are flexible in nature, that means that the amounts of them can be shifted to your tastes. Don't like ricotta? Don't include it. Want soy cheese? Sure! But your veg.

8oz of mushrooms sliced

1 zucchini shredded

1 onion peeled and diced fine

spaghetti or lasagna sauce (I buy Hunts, it's easier)

no boil lasagna noodles

shredded cheese (I like a blended 4 cheese type)

ricotta cheese

handful of parsley chopped fine

1 celery stick


Apply spaghetti sauce with a generous hand. This is where you will get the "tangy" flavor to balance out the veggies.











Add chunks of ricotta in what ever amounts you like. Then sprinkle a generous layer of raw zucchini over the ricotta. 






Add some spoonfuls of the mushroom/onion mixture. Try to keep everything fairly flat, it will help with the next noodle layer. 






If you are like me, you are being careful of your weight. In a small casserole dish, you really only need 1/3 of a cup of cheese in between layers! Trust me, we'll make up for it in the end.





Sprinkle evenly






This was my last layer of noodles. If you have more space, feel free to just keep on layering! 






After the sauce, more zucchini, more mushrooms, more ricotta! 





1/3 of a cup of cheese. Trust me.




Now wrap that baby up and stick it in a 375F oven for 40 minutes. 








Remove the foil...yum. But we're not done.



Now you may lose your tiny mind. Pile on the cheese. I wound up only using 2 cups of shredded cheese total. 2/3 of a cup for the inner layers and the rest alllll on top. 

Put it back in the oven at 375F for about 10 to 15 minutes.  No cover! 

You're Welcome :)

You're Welcome :)

I never met a lasagna I didn’t like
- Jim Davis

Teaser Snippet! #NaNoWriMo

For your edification, I give you a snippet of Section 9: Do I Know You? The four Champions of Falural meet.

The mist in Ly'gril's mind faded and she found herself back in the forest, standing in the middle of a tract of charred ground. The unmoving figures of the Chelar army lay around her. The only ones left standing were Brizain and his group.

"Are...are they dead?" she whispered, horror dawning on her. She had caused this. Brizain checked one and shook his head.

"They are not dead, only asleep. How...did you do that?"

Ly'gril shook her head wordlessly. Brizain's gaze focused on the cat's rider and he brought up his sword,

"An Inodian!"

Ly'gril turned to look at Tigurl and she snapped at Brizain, "That's not an Inodian you idiot! Inodians have short ears and pale skin. She has long ears and black skin. And Inodians ride horses along with humans, not...cats."

Breeze got to her feet unsteadily, unsure of what had just happened except that she was still alive and had no broken bones. She turned around to see Brizain, Tigurl, and Ly'gril looking at each other. All three looked at her and Tigurl slid down off Ferala, freeing the cat to lie down. Tigurl reached out a hand to Breeze and then stopped, her eyes wondering at her.

"'re a Damaenian," Tigurl said softly.

"Damaenians don't exist. They're a myth." Ly'gril replied

Brizain snapped his head to glare at Ly'gril, "Do I look like a myth Elf?"

Ly'gril blinked in confusion, "No. But you're a Chelar."

"I am half Damaenian," Brizain responded, lifting his head arrogantly.

Silence reigned for a long moment. Breeze abruptly felt the energy "rivers" of the area begin to flow again and she sucked in a breath of relief. Ly'gril too felt it.

"I isn't important. We need to figure out what happened here."

Tigurl frowned, "I know what happened. There is a corruption here, it came from deep within the well of the ground. It ate the Inodian army and caused the Chelar to fight each other by convincing them they were the enemy."

Brizain shook his head, "How could you know that?"

"I was one of the scouts for the Inodian forces. My particular skill allows me to see the evil that occurred here. I" Tigurl pointed to Ly'gril, "..jump from that bat. I thought you were jumping to your death."

"I'm a healer. I was trying to save lives."

Breeze shook her head, "You are not a healer."

Ly'gril glared, "I think I know what my capabilities are!"

Breeze put up her hands in a submissive gesture, "You may be capable of healing, but you are not a healer. That is only one of your abilities. I AM a healer. The energy flows tell me what people are."

Breeze pointed to Brizain, "He is a warrior" then to Tigurl "She is a hunter" and then to Ly'gril 'You are a priest."

Brizain and Ly'gril looked at each other in confusion. Brizain coughed, "Healer, you are wrong. There are no priests in Falural. There has been no priest for three hundred thousand years. The gods have been silent that long."

Breeze shrugged, "I only know what the energy tells me. You are touched. That makes you a priest."

Brizain motioned to Tigurl with his sword, "And you. YOU are the enemy!"

Ly'gril cleared her throat, tearing her eyes away from Breeze, "I don't think that's an issue anymore warrior. Your group and us are the only ones on their feet. What are you going to do? Start another little war between you, that elf, and her gigantic Chelar-eating cat?"

Brizain felt slightly foolish and lowered his sword, "You have a point...priest."

Ly'gril threw up her hands in disgust. Breeze took a deep breath, "Perhaps we could..introduce ourselves and then help get your people back ON their feet. It might go a long way toward fixing the situation? My name is Brizocia. You can call me Breeze if you like."

Brizain gave Breeze a long look before nodding, "Very well. I am Brizain."

Brizain and Breeze looked at Tigurl, "My name is Tigurl. My companion is Ferala."

Without turning around Ly'gril grunted, "My name is Ly'gril. Lets..get moving."

Blog Takeover by a character

You know me. I am that little dark voice in your head. I'm the part of you that wants to flip off that other driver, the part of you that gets really irritated when someone pulls out a checkbook in the express checkout lane. I am that part of you that just loses it when someone tries to run you over when you are walking and then blames you. 

Of course, I am that unreasonable part of you too. When you want something to happen immediately and it does not, when someone tells you something and all you say is, "who cares?" because you are too busy to take any notice of them. 

When life has hit you so hard you have nothing left but your anger and selfishness. That is me. I don't think of anything else anymore. Abandonment does funny things to a person. Food tastes like nothing, there is no pleasure in reading, or learning. All I can think of is the attitude of those who spurned me after I worked so hard to please them. And it was not enough. I was not enough. For that, I will make everyone pay. I will watch everything burn.

None shall go before me.

- Enki

I'm ready!'s something to read while I'm away.

I know you. As a reader you suffer when you don't have something to read. When you run out of money and have to reread the same novel for the fourteenth time. You are the person who falls asleep with the book or tablet in your hand. If you have to spend more than 3 minutes in the bathroom you curse yourself for leaving the book in the bedroom. You have kept "special" ratty tatty books for the shower and long for a waterproof phone. I know. Hugs. 

I certainly shall not be responsible for your desperation through November and so while on my NaNoWriMo journey through which I ignore almost everything and everyone, I shall give you some resources. These are authors who work very hard at what they do. They really deserve your attention. Just click on each name to go to where you can see their work. The link will open in a new window.

..oh, my preparations? Oh yes. I am ready. I am ready with 3 worlds, four adventurers, a goddess, a man who wants his world to burn, and one very...angry..goat. 

Kat Folland: A superb realist with a wandering mind, non fiction and fantasy

Lola Lariscy: Lola is just FUN. She is not only a book writer but enjoys beer and lots of pop culture.

Amybeth Inverness: Adventurous sci-fi writer and short story Artist. I'll never look at the moon the same way again.

RJ Blain: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Supernatural. Werewolves take on a new dimension with this writer.

Andrew Buckley: Andrew Buckley is singlehandedly responsible for getting me kicked out of a college classroom for giggling while reading one of his books. I can't help it, they are just so humorous! 

Phil Bowyer: This man is a rule breaker. If you want a dose of entertainment OR some serious instruction on how to break rules yourself, this is the author for you.

Craig Halloran: Hardcore fantasy writer. If you like Salvatore, you'll want to check out Halloran

S.H. Jucha: Sci-Fi in a totally different part of the universe than our own, but strangely compelling as we see what humanity has become.

It's One Step At A Time

When you were a tiny child, before you could walk or talk, you weren't thinking about college, or business school, your eventual career, or financial status. You didn't think about your home or car. You knew what you could see, what you could eat, what you waved your chubby little fist at. You knew that poop got magically whisked away from your adorable little rear end. Ahh, those were the days.

Let's go back to those days, only now, you have your writing utensil in your chubby little fist. This is how you are going to start. With only what you have in your head. As you put words down on the page, you are creating the world that you want to see. Whether it is a conversation or an object. Every detail you put down is a step built. And the more steps you build, the more of that world you can see. And you want to see the whole wonderful novel spread out before you. Every evil doer, every pair of shoes or lovely dress, every flash of light, or explosion. All the sights, sounds, emotion.

When you finish, you will no longer be that tiny child, waving that chubby fist. You'll be a mountain with one hand on the page and the other inspiring laughter, tears, expressions of disbelief, or even "oh.." very quietly. You'll have a magical wand that transports you to a brand new place. The past, the future, or somewhere that doesn't exist at all.

And every single one of us will start at the same place, on the same level. No matter who we are or the writing experience we've had. We're all taking our journeys and making steps. And even if no one but us reads those words, it is an integral part of who we are, to take this journey.

Maybe we don't write the whole thing this year. We succeeded in that we started. We created. We participated. We put words down. Maybe you spend the rest of the year dabbling in it. Maybe you even find that you don't like this writing thing. You could, however, find that the words just pour from you, your worlds are expressive and enjoyable, you never want to leave!

You've learned about yourself, and that counts too. Those steps are all you, and you are wonderful.

NaNoWriMo 2015 Story Arc Development

Enki Nergalus, a farmer from Tigurl's original homeland of Ou'asa has slowly grown hate filled. As the town he lives in progresses over the years, Enki is shunned because of his poor family status. No matter what his contributions are, the town refuses to recognize him in any way. Eventually, Enki takes vengeance on the town by kidnapping the most influential families only child and hiding him under his house. When the child dies of neglect, his despair infects the ground and activates an ancient evil bound by the minerals found inherently in the soil. It begins to feed back to Enki, giving him power. When the child's body is found, Enki vanishes into the night. All his belongings are sold off and transported away. The farm will grow nothing and is abandoned, but the belongings transport the curse, spreading it throughout Ou'asa and then through the portals where it begins to infect Falural. Over time, hidden away Enki recognizes his new powers to make others do his bidding, to destroy the land and control creatures within it. He actively begins to recruit vulnerable, yet powerful, followers and turn them into an army that will march across the face of both worlds and destroy them. 

The only way to battle the evil directly is with one who can witness the evil directly working together with a priest of Falura, and twins of a family once shattered then rejoined. 

Brizain and Brizocia, both the product of war, grew up far from each other. Brizain a warrior of tenacious strength and Brizocia a healer with the Touch of Life must reconcile their very existence before walking into battle hand-in-hand.
Tigurl, a hunter with the ability to See.
And Ly'gril, a priest with the force of conviction in her Goddess. Her abilities to think tactically could mean the difference between life and death for the group of four.

These four young adventurers from distinctly different factions will come together to overturn the greatest evil Falural has ever seen. But can they destroy the evil before they destroy each other?

Learning From Experience: How I write a novel

This is a response post to Musings Of An Ink Stained Wretch "Learning from Experience: Five Novels and Still Finding Ways to Improve My Process"  The question posted was, "How do you write a novel? What do you do differently? What have you learned over time?"

I have written a total of four novels and published one. With each book I have gotten better. My first book written at 16 was under the tutelage of an experienced writer. My second, just 3 years ago was "pantsed" or in other words, I just threw words at the page. I did some outlining for my third novel, some basic story development. Neither my second nor my third book are in any shape for publication. In fact they will require extensive story reconstruction before I can give them to editors or even beta readers. While there are sections that are great, in general, they are pretty big pieces of poop. My last novel "The Hunger Inside" was developed quite extensively before I started writing. I outlined chapters and told myself where I wanted the story to go. I had "conversations" with my characters. I even posted those conversations on Google Plus! It turned out well and although I'm sure there could be improvements, it's a decent book that tells the story I wanted it to.

Figuring out a story is not just me saying "I want a story about.." I need the characters first. My writing is mostly character driven. The characters have to tell me who they are and what they want. Yes..I talk to myself. The characters themselves tell me what setting they are in and their motivations. They even argue with each other.

While writing, it's almost like watching a movie. I write down what I watch on my mental screen. After I have finished watching the movie, I go back to see what I wrote. Some of the problems I run into are: names/dates/timeline issues. I frequently forget who is who because I'm so busy writing what I see, I don't write down these characters and places that will reoccur later on. I will also forget when important things happen.

I will follow this same process for my new Sci-fi novel that I used for The Hunger Inside. It really worked for me. Pantsing did NOT. I'll be just as tough on my word counts, requiring myself to write at least 2k words per day every working day. I will not edit until the whole novel is written. I will be adding a data list of characters, places, times for reference. 

For me, it's not so much about selling the novel as it is making the people who do read it, feel what I want them to feel. For my Sci-fi novel, I want people to feel the desperation of someone who's body has been utterly ravaged. I also want them to feel a bit of shame at a system that developed into a controlling, manipulative government and people who allowed themselves to become ignorant and passive.

How about you? If you are an author how do you write your books? What have you learned over time? 




Goodnight little f*&#'r

Warning: parts of this blog post may be graphic to some people.


So we had a rat. This smart little bastard was so big, no mouse trap could hold it. I found hairs in the triggered mouse traps, so I know they did their job, he was just too big for them.

Just to give you a sense of proportion, I noticed one morning that I went from 3 sweet potatoes to 2. I shrugged it off, but when I went down to 1 and no one fessed up to eating said sweet potato, giving it to the guinea pigs, and there were no trimmings in the trash, I went searching for those sweet potatoes. I found them...or some of them anyway. One had been dragged all the way across the kitchen close to the fridge and halfway gnawed. The second had been dragged across the kitchen and UP a four inch ledge underneath the sink. Yeah. This rat was big.

I retrieved the one real rat trap we had. One of those wooden affairs that you take your life in your hands to set. With my husband's help, we set it up with a smear of cake and icing for bait under the sink. I also retrieved a live trap meant for small animals a little bigger than a rat and baiting it with a pizza roll I left it across the entryway to a hole we knew mice had used. I wanted to catch this thing alive or dead.

I could almost HEAR the rat laughing at us. It avoided everything after that. Mice traps, rat traps, everything. It disappeared like magic into spaces we couldn't even find a crack. But then, it began to make mistakes. It was "seen." Now many people are familiar with John Peterson's children's books, "The littles" that are about little people who live in the walls of houses. Their overriding fear was being "seen" by humans. The same usually goes for rodents. Above all, don't be "seen." But for some reason the rat marched behind our bed one night, across my son's room another night, and then in a fit of sheer gall, across the kitchen in full daylight. TWICE. IN ONE HOUR. It could have been because it began to feel superior, or just that it was really really hungry, but I didn't care. The second time it did it, I declared war. I screamed ferociously and brandished a kitchen knife at the hole where the rat disappeared into. My husband thought I had gone nuts and encouraged me to "calm down a little."

I told him that you have to declare your intentions, put the rat off its game, but he didn't understand. Then the rat finally made its last and final mistake. It decided to investigate the original rat trap with the cake and icing smear. In the middle of the day.

I heard the snap and I have to admit, my heart fell a little. I really don't LIKE killing anything, even if it invades my home. I hate fumigating every six months because I don't like killing insects. I do understand, however, that invaders are just that and wishing won't get rid of them. I found that the rat had been caught by its snout. Stupid rat. You almost got away. I also understand a responsible human doesn't allow an invader to suffer, so I asked for a knife, told my husband he probably didn't want to watch, and made sure the rat was put out of the obvious misery it was in.

I am still happy this morning, because I don't have to be tense, wondering if the rat is going to pull out my hair, bite my son, or steal/ruin more produce.  To every life that affects me, I say Good Night, and so I say this very thing to that enemy, the invader of my home.

Goodnight ... little f*&#'r.

I'm glad we're having this discussion right now.

"I'm not sure if we should be having this discussion…"
", let's have this discussion. Let's have it right now."

These words were not said in anger. They were said among friends who were sharing some time and some beer together over the internet. We're from all walks of life and backgrounds. Some of us from Savannah Georgia, some recently moved to Virginia, some from Brazil,and me...well...I'm a California transplant to Oregon. I haven't had a whole lot of personal experience with racism except for the fact that I viewed it from the sidelines.

The man who invited the discussion is a black man who understands the reasons behind the demands to remove the Confederate flag. He has worked to get the Confederate flag removed. He is more than willing to share his experiences with us, his friends. And I'm glad he did.

I have always recognized the fact that I am a privileged person of white descent. I am German/Irish-Canadian. I knew that when I went to school I had good teachers with all the resources they needed to teach me. This was from my earliest age. I have never been asked to work harder to "prove" myself because I'm white. I have never had someone look at me nervously in a public place because of the color of my skin. Anytime I apply for a program, I never have to wonder if that person decided I was just a little less "deserving" because I'm white.

Now, I view most of us, White, Black, Hispanic, Indian, African, and all the different colors of people who come here from the eastern part of the world as having pretty equal treatment in this progressive northwest community.  Which is why I have to stand up and recognize that I have white privilege.

Just because my community recognizes equality in general doesn't mean that we don't have white privilege. We need to be very careful because that line of thought can lead to ignoring the fact that racism happens. It happens in the best of communities, it happens overtly in other parts of the country, and if we are not careful, we could be led into thinking that it just doesn't happen or couldn't happen here.

We should recognize, and teach our children, that people have been slaves a lot longer than they have been free in this country. My son thinks that people who treat others different because of skin color are just dumb. He sees no difference between himself and another child in school no matter what they look like. But if I allow him to think it didn't happen at all, I would be doing everyone who is still under the influence of racism a disservice. I would be denying the recognition of those who were slaves in my own American history.

When I was about 30, I did have some friends who would think that anyone who looked vaguely Mexican should be picking beans and fruit. They would never consider anyone like that a candidate for a professional position, a leadership position, or a position of equality within the social structure they were used to. So….I dumped them. I walked away from them as casually as I would walk away from a badly made latte at Starbucks.  But in doing so, I also cut off all the conversation that could have happened.

So when my friend Randy said, "Let's have this discussion," I listened. And I told him my views. And I realized that keeping silent on my white privilege was doing other people a disservice.

So what do we do? How do we fix this horrifying problem that is so embarrassing that we don't even want to admit to it?  

  1. Treat everyone, no matter what skin color, race, sexual orientation, or social situation, as a human being deserving of the rights and privileges that we all enjoy.  

  2. Teach your children. Teach them that slavery and racism happened, it is still happening now. That people who are different are being treated as lesser human beings, and that it is WRONG.

  3. Recognize your privilege, and when you see that your privilege is impinging on someone else's rights, speak up. Whether it is a reservation at a restaurant, someone who needs assistance through a program, or how people are represented in a media story. Yes, you might lose your spot in line. You might be turned away at your favorite restaurant, you might even lose some friends. The people you speak up for may never even be grateful, but you will make it plain that the privilege you enjoy is not enjoyed by everyone, and that is wrong.

When enough people...teach enough children….and enough governments and communities bow to the inevitable pressure to treat every single person as an equal human being…then, and only then, will be it be something we will only read in books.

And I too am glad we are having this discussion. I am glad we are having this discussion right now.

Inside the business of writing "science"

Monday's efforts are all about moving EarthFort's efforts to write a book forward.

Monday I will make 2 trips for research. One to the Benton County public library in an effort to see what is commonly available to the local public in terms of information on soil and also to OSU library to see some of the older information available on soil.

I expect this will give me a handle on the marketing section of the proposal, giving me local and historical evidence in support of the book.

Here comes the more dry, writing business type information:

I do not charge for research time unless it has been insisted upon in the contract as a precursor to writing the book. Why not when it is obvious that it is pointed toward the proposal effort?

Research is never straight forward. There are many opportunities to go on tangents. Those tangents may or may not provide useful information to the effort, but if I charged for 6 hours of research time, and only 1 hour provided useful information for this particular effort, that's 5 hours of time literally wasted for the customer even if I use that information for some other purpose later on.

I would like to see if I can replicate the fashion in which someone from the local community not familiar with electronic/internet research into soil would go about trying to gain information the book provides. This will not only give the book a marketing edge, but also provide a few hints on what people may look for in this book that are not necessarily what I anticipate.

Writing science based books is not like writing science fiction. In sci-fi, I am either pushing the story forward with support from science, or I am basing the story around a specific science concept. This means I can fudge it. I can push the boundaries, I can even outright boldly lie as long as the reader is happy.

A science based informational book has to convince the reader to trust them even if they are NOT happy with the answer by using information that is solidly backed up by evidence. I have to be very careful where I step, which means it can be a finicky process. The proposal more so than the actual book, because for the actual book, I have access to a true expert and I can monopolize that resource all I want. The proposal not only has to convince someone that the book is a good idea, but that it is truly necessary, even integral to a range of communities. The proposal has to convince publishers that THEY have to be the one to put this book out. My job is to anticipate questions, objections, and potential rivals to this information. This isn't easy. It's about a hundred times easier to actually write a book. Luckily, I enjoy the challenge.

Taking chances and rule breaking

Phil Bowyer, Imma look at you! Cause I took a chance and it totally worked out.

For years I have done bits of ghostwriting. Granted, it's been in the form of D&D character outlines and fictional materials, but I have never gotten a chance to do a whole cooperative project of more than 20,000 words. Until today.

Many recognize my deep interest in agricultural science and farming. Today I met with Matthew Slaughter from Earthfort. Matt wants to write a book about soils that will bring a common sense, easy to understand approach to the community at large.  I'm going to help him do it.

Remember that saying, "No Foot, No Horse"?  The same can be said for those who are utilizing soil to grow plants. It's not practical, right now, for a large scale farmer to use hydroponics or hay bales to grow all their crops. It is, however, possible to adjust the way in which crops are grown so that less fertilizer is used, and alternatives to pesticides and herbicides will result in healthy, strong growth in order to reach maximum potential.

It's not an all or nothing approach. We don't have to be drastic. We do have to understand how and why the soil works the way it does. What does bacteria do in the soil? Where does compost fit in? Is there a way to rototill that won't destroy the healthy layers of soil? And for the large farmer's consideration, how much is this going to change my bottom line? 

The same processes that work for the farmer will work for the homeowner. Earthfort understands this and wants to create the same understanding with them. We do not have to resort to massive amounts of anything to keep our plants growing. It's not magic, it's not a miracle, and it totally breaks the rules. It just takes understanding.

Keep an eye out and I will tell you more as we go along with Matt and -

Food Pr0n

Pork. Such an innocent, unassuming chunk of meat. Then, I had to go and turn it into delicious, smoky, tangy, cumin flavored goodness. 


...Did I mention I also used beer? Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin that is. 

What was that? You want the recipe? Why of COURSE I'll give you the recipe. It all started as chance really. I happened to pick up some very cheap pork carnitas meat (less than $1 U.S. per pound) I wanted to grill it, but I wanted it tender too. I couldn't have both. Or could I? I theorized that I could use the grill to develop the smoky flavor, then the oven to roast it nice and slow.  It totally worked.

Use pork with fat. Do NOT trim the pork. Carnitas worked beautifully.

I started by rubbing the pork with balsamic vinegar and then dousing it with a generous amount of cumin and some salt. For this you will need charcoal and a LOT of hickory chips. (commonly available in stores where charcoal is sold)  Soak about seven to ten handfuls of hickory chips in water. You want a lot of smoke going on. Let them soak for at least an hour. Start up the grill, get the charcoal hot, and make sure the charcoal is on one side of the grill. Drain the hickory chips. Sprinkle the hickory chips on top of the hot charcoal and put the pork on the rack as far away from the charcoal as you can get. Remember the point of this part is not to cook the pork but give it a really smoky flavor. Close the grill and let the pork sit until the grill stops smoking. 

Remove the pork from the grill. In a roasting pan, put a thin layer of some citrus beer. Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, Elysian's blood orange, Lost Coast tangerine, Coronado Orange Avenue. If you can't find a citrus ale, then a really good IPA with citra hops would do. Try to stay away from the piney IPA's though. No beer? No worries, you can use water with some juice. 

Place the pork directly into the liquid. Set your oven to 250F and cover the roasting pan. Let it sit in the oven, checking every hour, until the meat is tender and coming apart easily. If the meat had a decent amount of fat, there should be plenty of drippings at the bottom of the pan. 

Now comes the fussy part. Tear apart the meat into a bowl and set it aside. Pour the drippings into a saucepan. You are going to add about 3 heavy squeezes of ketchup, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a few dashes of balsamic or apple cider vinegar. Process a half an onion until it is pureed and put that in the saucepan. Stir gently and allow to simmer, bubbling gently. 

Slice the other half an onion plus two more. Unless they are big onions, in which case use only one more. Brown the onions in a large pot carefully with some oil or butter. Do not burn them. When they are browned, add the shredded meat and mix thoroughly. 

Taste the sauce. If it tastes bland, add more ketchup, if it feels thin, add a few tomatoes that are processed in a food processor until finely chopped.  If you want more sauce you can add a bit of beef broth. This is a personal taste process. It should taste smoky and slightly fatty. You should be able to smell a hint of vanilla. It will not be like commercial BBQ sauce. It will not be sweet or extremely thick. It should remind you of the bbq when it was smoking the pork. You can add more cumin if you love the taste of cumin, or some seasoned salt. When you think the sauce tastes as it should, pour it in with the meat and put a lid on the pot. It will not take long for it to heat up. When it is hot, it is ready to serve. Put it on sandwiches, serve with brown rice, asparagus, or a salad with sharp cheese. 

I recommend serving this with an IPA, a cider, or a Belgian lager.

Photos by Che Dean

Library Reading!

So today I went to the Corvallis Public library where we had a party to celebrate the book that was created from everyone in Corvallis who submitted excerpts from NaNoWriMo. 19 people submitted, though I'm sure lots more people actually worked on NaNoWriMo.

You can find the book on Amazon HERE

and on LuLu HERE

And I very bravely got up in front of all those people..and I read. I read my own work from The Hunger Inside. This is exceptional for me. I who put the professional wallflowers to shame with my ability to blend into the woodwork at parties. I even talked to someone, and didn't melt. 

As you can see, I did bolster my confidence by wearing my Doctor Who outfit. I love that outfit for my writing persona of S0rceress0. It makes me a little less able to BE a wallflower. 

And here is the excerpt, from Chapter 11: Unexpected. Where Sam is struggling with actually running a real restaurant, which she's never done before. 

Sam spent most of the next day searching for ways to keep going. She was only a few weeks away from having to shut down unless she either cut costs or made some money. She decided to do a small amount of subtle espionage. She went back to the restaurant where she got the range and asked for the head chef. The sous-chef wrinkled his nose at her and left her waiting outside. She had to wait in the snow for at least twenty minutes before Louis appeared. She was trying to stomp some feeling into her toes when he did.

“Hi, Louis!”

“My God, Sam, come in before you catch your death!”

Louis whacked his sous-chef on the head as they passed.

“Don’t ever leave this woman standing outside again! Heartless ruffian!”

Sam smiled to herself as she passed. She refrained from sticking out her tongue at the man. They settled into Louis’ office, and he insisted on pouring her a coffee with brandy. It was very luxurious, and she took the time for a long moment to smell the coffee before she drank it.

“Ah, a woman after my own heart. A true appreciation for coffee.”

“That’s only because I burn mine.”

“Well, what can I do for you Sam?”

“I wanted to do some work on my building, but I need some boxes—good, stiff, cardboard boxes. Would you happen to have any?”

“Oh, yes, we get so many we have to pay to have them taken away. You are welcome to as many as you want. Here, I’ll show you where we store them.”

They went through the back of the restaurant to a storage closet where packs of the cardboard boxes were tied up. Sam chose a small stack. They walked back through the kitchen.

“Thank you so much, Louis. It’s hard to find clean cardboard.”

“Yes. Cleanliness is next to godliness in the kitchen, isn’t it?”

“Oh...say, do you use your kitchen scraps?”

Louis looked shocked,

“Sam! You aren’t seriously that hard up for food that you would take garbage and serve it to customers!”

“No, no, I don’t mean your garbage, Louis, I meant your ends and trimmings. Carrots, onions, potato peelings. Do you use them?”

“, we don’t. Why would you want our trimmings?”

“Well, frankly, I think they make good soup, Louis. You have organic produce. Organic produce in the pot produces better stock. I’ve been reading. I won’t be able to avoid canned food forever, but if I can make good stock, I can produce large amounts of good soup as a staple for my menu.”

Louis smiled, amused.

“Reading is good, Sam. It makes you a better cook. You have a fine idea. Give me one of those boxes.”

Sam chose a small one, but Louis made her refold it and chose another one, strapping it into shape with packing tape. He swept a whole pile of various produce off the stainless prep table where his sous-chef was working. The sous-chef didn’t even flinch.

“Oh Louis, I didn’t mean your good produce!”

The sous-chef snorted. Louis took Sam by the arms.

“Sam, this is the discard pile. We run a restaurant that caters to investors, credit companies. These individuals do not want a spotted carrot in their dinner. André is the best sous-chef I have ever had. He can pick the perfect produce and happily toss all the rest in the garbage. You may have the discards. André?”

André rolled his eyes. “I understand, Louis. When...she...shows up, I let her in, I give her coffee,  and then let her take all the discards home. Are we getting a puppy too?”