Category Archives: Food

Giving Thanks

Here in the US, our annual mid-fall feast of Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November. Things are a bit weird here in good old USA right now, as most of the world knows. Nevertheless, I have many blessings to be thankful for, and being able to provide a wonderful meal for my family is certainly not the least of them.

I am cooking for the family this year. I cook a turkey, even though I am vegan. But I also prepare a Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry en Croute holiday roast. It’s plant-based protein, delicious, smells amazing while it cooks, and is divine with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Regardless of the protein we choose, I always feel like the side dishes are the best part of the meal. I always go a little wild on the vegan cheese tray. Miyoko’s Kitchen makes the most amazing spreadable cheese, and it’s all plant-based. It’s quite expensive, but for a special occasion, it is so worth it.

I don’t even bother to make the icky green bean casserole that no one eats, but everyone makes anyway. Other than that, I am making all the usual sides and have included the links to the recipes below:

Roasted Ruby Sweet Potatoes

Maple and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Cranberry sauce

Vegan Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

Vegan Pumpkin Pie recipe

Vegan Gluten Free Gravy recipe

Vegan Mashed Potatoes recipe

Miyoko’s Kitchen|Artisan Cultured Vegan Cheese

Fruit Salad

Green Salad

We will have plenty of pies and sweets and lots of savory finger foods. So, today I am doing the prep, getting a lot of the cooking out of the way. I have bread to bake, and even though I have a feast to prepare, I will get my daily wordcount by using the small increments of downtime while things are cooking.

That is how I cook any big holiday dinner for my extended family—I start prepping food two days ahead, and by writing whenever I have a ten or fifteen minute pause in the preparations, I don’t fall behind.

This also allows me to enjoy my family on Thanksgiving Day because most of the work is already done.

After all, it may be a national holiday here in the US, but it’s still NaNoWriMo, and while I have officially “won” as of the 20th, getting that badge for updating every day is my next goal, and doesn’t happen until the last day of the month. Besides, I haven’t written all the stories on my list of prompts yet, although I have made good headway in creating my backlog of short stories.

On Friday, my husband and I will rest up, enjoy leftovers, and think about decorating the outside of the house for Christmas.

This world can be a hard place for some people to live. I am fortunate to be safe and well-fed, luxuries I thank God for every day. Where ever you are in this big world, I hope you have plenty to give thanks for.

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The Summer Retreat #amwriting #amvegan

This week I’m traveling, visiting my favorite summer retreat, Cannon Beach, Oregon. It’s about a four hour drive from my home, but we make a longer trip because we like to stop in Astoria.

I live all year for this week of rest and restoration. We join other members of our family there and reconnect over food, kite-flying, and long strolls on the beach.

The sunshine and occasionally stormy waters, the seabirds–this place inspires me and clears my head like no other place. I write whenever the muse seizes me. Our little condo is one we regularly rent. The owners have come to know us, and it’s perfectly situated, just steps from the beach but also in the middle of town. More importantly for us, it comes with a fully outfitted kitchen. As always, I cook many meals for my family, and my sister-in-law also cooks, so we don’t starve.

I know it seems odd to many people, but being vegan means, I eat nothing that came from an animal. No cheese, no meat, no eggs. People immediately think “how complicated!” but it’s not complicated at all if you know what to use instead. It’s simply a diet that celebrates vegetables and grains and all the many ways to eat them. Vegans consume nothing from animals, vegetarians may or may not eat dairy or eggs.

People can be inadvertently rude  when they hear I am vegan, but I realize it’s just ignorance speaking. I never engage in words with these people, as they have already pigeonholed me as a “looney fad dieter,” simply because I admit to my dirty little habit of not consuming other living creatures.

In case this worries you, we all know that humans do need a certain amount of protein as part of their balanced diet, and it is easy to get that nutrition from plants. In fact, even vegans eat far more grams of protein daily than the minimum daily requirements.

In a post for the website, Forks over Knives, Dr. Michael Greger answers the question that vegans and vegetarians hear all the time: “Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?”

The average recommended intake of protein is 42 grams a day.

Non-vegetarians eat way more than that (almost 80 grams), but so does everyone else.

Vegetarians and vegans actually average 70% more protein than they need every day (over 70 grams).

When a person changes to a completely different cuisine, we need to learn how to prepare the new-to-us ingredients, and we want to keep the same flavors and textures we are used to. My favorite comfort food recipes adapted easily to vegan. My food is simple to make and inexpensive. I make my own staples usually, from recipes found in my three favorite cookbooks.

The first book that has been worn out in my kitchen is The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples, by Miyoko Schinner.

The Blurb:

A guide to creating vegan versions of pantry staples–from dairy and meat substitutes such as vegan yogurt, mayo, bacon, and cheese, to dressings, sauces, cookies, and more.

Kitchen crafters know the pleasure of making their own staples and specialty foods, whether it’s cultured sour cream or a stellar soup stock. It’s a fresher, healthier, more natural approach to eating and living. Now vegans who are sick of buying over-processed, over-packaged products can finally join the homemade revolution.

Studded with full-color photos, The Homemade Vegan Pantry celebrates beautiful, handcrafted foods that don’t take a ton of time, from ice cream and pizza dough, to granola and breakfast sausage. Miyoko Schinner guides readers through the techniques for making French-style buttercreams, roasted tomatoes, and pasta without special equipment. Her easy methods make “slow food” fast, and full of flavor.

The Homemade Vegan Pantry raises the bar on plant-based cuisine, not only for vegans and vegetarians, but also for the growing number of Americans looking to eat lighter and healthier, and anyone interested in a handcrafted approach to food.

The next book that is a wonderful idea generator for me is Robin Robertson’s Veganize It!

The Blurb:

Vegan pantry staples plus enticing recipes in which to use them

This is the ultimate DIY pantry book, doing double duty with recipes for vegan staples, plus ideas on how to use them as building blocks in both new and classic recipes. Many cooks prefer to make their own basics rather than buy expensive store versions, which are often loaded with additives and preservatives. These easy recipes make it easy to stock a home pantry. Enjoy milks, cheeses, bacon, burgers, sausages, butter, and vegan Worcestershire sauce in your favorite dishes, and then try delicious recipes using the staples. Sample Bahn Mi, Sausage Biscuits, Meaty-Cheesy Pizza, Milk Shakes, Jambalaya–even Jerky and Lemon Meringue Pie. With more than 150 recipes and 50 color photos, this will become an indispensable cookbook for vegans–and everyone else who enjoys animal-free food.

I like to get fancy with my meals sometimes, especially during holidays. Seattle-based chef, Tommy McDonald’s Field Roast: 101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share, and Savor is my best friend when I want to prepare something fancy that will impress folks. This cookbook has the recipes that fine restaurants should have but don’t.

The Blurb:

Hailed as 2015’s Company of the Year by VegNews Magazine, the Field Roast Grain Meat Co. offers their first cookbook, with over 100 delicious, satisfying vegan recipes.

In Field Roast, Chef Tommy McDonald shares fundamental techniques and tips that will enable you to make your own vegan meats at home–for everyday (sandwiches, burgers, meatloaf) to holiday (stuffed roast, anyone?), as well as recipes for using them in every meal from breakfast through dinner. The 100 recipes are flexible: want to make your own plant-based meats? Great! Want to use Field Roast products instead? That will work too. All you need are grains, veggies, and spices–easy-to-find whole food ingredients for authentic, hearty taste. With basics such as cutlets and sausages, along with dishes like Burnt Ends Biscuit Sandwich, Chicken Fried Field Roast and Waffles, Pastrami on Rye, Tuscan Shepherd’s Pie, Curry Katsu, (and even some favorite desserts), Field Roast brings new meaning to plant-based meat.

I prefer a hardbound cookbook to an online site when I am cooking. They get a bit messy, but that’s because they are well-used. I can write my notes and adjustments in them. When I became vegan, these three books were all I needed to learn how to keep the grand kids and carnivores in my family loving my cooking. I give these books as gifts to friends who choose to embrace vegan cuisine.

Rest assured, our vacation always involves both eating well and enjoying the company of my favorite people—and there is plenty of writing as that part of my life never stops for long. The many moods of the North Pacific never fail to inspire me!


Credits and Attributions:

Forks Over Knives, Do Vegetarians and Vegans Eat Enough Protein? © 2015 by Naomi Imatome-Yun, https://www.forksoverknives.com/do-vegetarians-and-vegans-eat-enough-protein/ (Accessed August 16, 2018)

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The Queen of Bags

father-christmas-saint-02I love the sights and scents of the holiday season. Cookies baking, houses on our street with lighted displays–you don’t have to go wild to make a huge impression. My dear hubby always puts a few decorations out, little trees made of white lights and lighted candy-canes.

All up and down our neighborhood, homes are decorated for the season. Anyone driving through our little valley will see some ambitious displays. Our home is really quite simple in its holiday decorating–a tree, candles, a cute centerpiece for the table. We keep it simple because we have to tear it down and put it all away over New Year’s day, and that rapidly becomes a bore.  It’s work, and I don’t like anything that falls into the category of labor. But I love looking at other people’s efforts!

christmas-gift-bagsWrapping the presents is also a bore, but I am now the queen of bags! I love that all I have to do is remove the price-tag, fold a little tissue around it and stuff it in a bag. Jam a little tissue in the top and voila! Christmas is served! No more tape sticking to the wrong place, and no more hunting for the scissors I just set down.

Just lazy me, blowing through wrapping the pile of presents like a sleigh through snow!

We have a lot of grand-kids. We’ll make sure their gifts arrive at their houses before the big day. It’s sad when their presents are out from under our tree and under the trees in their homes because our tree looks a bit lonely. But not for long–we’ll soon have a few bags under there, just a little something for the two old people to enjoy on their quiet Christmas morning.

Field Roast holiday roastIt doesn’t take a lot to make the place feel festive. A little here and there, and the house feels warmer, cozier. An atmosphere of peace and well-being. I will roast a turkey breast for my hubby because he is a carnivore, but I will make a vegan entrée for me, a Hazelnut-Cranberry Roast made by the Seattle-based Field Roast Company. Everything I cook will be vegan except Greg’s turkey, and it will be delicious.

I make all the traditional dishes, substituting Earth Balance vegan margarine and almond or rice milk for the dairy. I use vegetable broth to make the cranberry-walnut stuffing. Anyone can eat well, if they choose to, and it’s not anymore expensive than eating junk-food, cheaper if you want to know the truth.

This is my recipe for:

onion and mushroom gravyONION AND MUSHROOM GRAVY

Ingredients:

  •  3/4 cup white or button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning (or 1/2 tsp each of sage, thyme and marjoram)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: 

In a large skillet, melt the vegan margarine and add onion and mushrooms. Sauté for just a minute or two over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium and add vegetable broth and soy sauce. Slowly add flour, stirring well to combine and prevent lumps from forming. Bring to a simmer or a low boil, then reduce heat.

santa in snow stormI love this time of year. Great food, all the Christmas lights and decorations–I kind of go nuts. When we take the presents round to our children’s homes I feel a sense of having succeeded–they have new traditions for their children, combined some from our past. I feel a sense of continuity–We’re the grandparents now, the old-fashioned ones, the ones who always have time for a cuddle and never deny a grandchild a cookie when he wants one.

We’re always there, slightly in the way of Mom getting things done, but trying not to be. We’re happy to be mauled, sat on, have our hair brushed, even our toe-nails painted if that’s what makes a child happy. We’ll play Legos with them until the cows come home, so their parents can get the real work of the holidays done.

When their parents were small, our parents were there for them, being the old, wise people who loved our children as unconditionally as we love our grandchildren. 

In this holiday dance, the circle is complete.

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Gratitude

Pumpkin-Pie-Whole-SliceTomorrow, here in the US, is a national holiday, a day of Thanksgiving. We gather at the homes of relatives, overeat, and then some of us embark on  the 30 days of Christmas shopping.

I don’t.

Oh, I will go to my daughter’s house and overeat, and I will give sincere and heartfelt thanks for all the many blessings I have been given in this life. And I have been blessed, far more than I deserve. I am comfortable, and I have the luxury of being able to write full-time, because my husband has a good, fairly stable job.

But grandma does not shop. Grandma does not go to the midnight sales, the door-busters, the Black Friday events that seem to be a national sport here.

Grandma does the internet for all her shopping these days. Amazon, Zulily, Overstock.com–these are the stores grandma shops in.

christmas-gift-bagsAnd it’s nearly all done already. All I have to do is get a few little thing-a-ma-jigs for you-know-who, and then we’re set!

Shopping for loved ones is so darned difficult. I can’t tell you how much I hate it. No matter how hard I sweat, no matter how pretty I wrap them, the gifts I think are awesome for so-and-so never seem to live up to their potential.

Thus I have become the queen of gift-cards.

Starbucks, Amazon, Barnes&Noble–gift cards are the way to go. The recipient can get what they want, and I am off the hook for another year.

But if you are looking for the awesomest gift ever, may I recommend a book?  Books are small vacations, little diversions into foreign lands and cultures, windows into other people’s lives.

Books can also change the world.

The company that publishes my books, Myrddin Publishing, just announced the successful campaign to raise funds for the international charity, Water is Life, via sales of their Christmas anthology, Christmas O’Clock.

christmas oclock coverChristmas O’Clock is a collection of holiday-themed stories including magic, space travel, and Rudolph. With two complete chapter books, lots of stories, and plenty of spirit, this anthology is great for kids of all ages. Two of the stories in this collection are mine!

In 2014 the publishing group donated all the revenue generated from sales of this book, totaling over $200.00 in royalties. This purchased three bucket systems and eight drinking straws, providing fresh water to three families, and eight individuals. Their goal is to double that in 2015.

It may not seem like a lot, but for those families who now have clean water, it was huge.  We can do better, and this year we intend to.

All proceeds from this wonderful book go to Water Is Life to help children and families in an international effort.

Christmas O’Clock  can be purchased at www.amazon.com

Paperback via this link: http://bit.ly/CoCpaperback  $9.51

And for the Kindle via this link http://bit.ly/CoCusE  $2.99

a medieval tablesetup 1I live in a soft, easy world of plenty with clean, clear water and plenty of food. I have a warm, dry place to live that is safe and pestilence-free. Not every family has such luxury. My husband and I believe it is our duty to help those who don’t and we do this through actively volunteering in our community. You know that I am involved  as a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month and I contribute time and energy to literacy programs here locally, but my husband is far more active on a grassroots level, and what he does has a direct effect within our community.

MH900438718My husband, Greg,  is on the board of the Community Action Council, and has been for more than twenty years. Community Action Council is a private, non-profit 501c(3) agency governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  Their multipurpose organization focuses on meeting the needs of low-income individuals and families through a variety of programs designed to help them become independent and more self-sufficient. They work collaboratively to develop strategies that address poverty in our local communities,  providing essential human services in Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties since 1966.

I am Grateful, with a capital ‘G’, for all my many blessings, for my husband who works tirelessly in the service of our community and for the opportunities I’ve been given to help make a difference in this sometimes terrible world.

 

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Mmmm…chocolate…

halloween kisses

Kisses of Death by artist Andrew Bell

I’ve always thought that if you really wanted to do something creepy for Halloween, you should hand out little mini-packs of chocolate covered ants, or something. I  just feel there is nothing scary about a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, and to do the most sinister night of the year justice, we should serve evil treats.

Halloween is the most important day of the year for many reasons–not the least of which is the annual midnight write in at Shari’s Restaurant for those intrepid heroes who can’t wait a minute longer to start their November Novel!

HTB New Front Cover with gold frameI wrote Huw the Bard in 2011 as my NaNoWriMo Novel–it had a different working title. In 2014 it was published, and the changes it went through in those two years was amazing. Fortunately I have a supportive husband who  regularly allows me to neglect him.

This year I am writing a novel that begins in the old west of northern New Mexico, where a journey to take a holy relic to be melted down at the smelters in Durango takes a terrifying turn into a world between the worlds. The first plan I had for this story was to co-write it with indie author Aura Burrows, but that didn’t pan out as various commitments made it impossible for us to get together on it, and she is unable to do it. But I fell in love with my main character, William Two Cats, and I am going to tell his story.

I have a working title, I have designed a placeholder book cover, I know who and what I am writing about, and tonight at midnight I am off to the races. On the National Novel Writing Month website I am Dragon_Fangirl, and you can see my book page and follow my progress here.

William Two Cats is a man of two worlds, the white-man’s world and the world of the A’shiwi–the people we call the Zuni Pueblo Indians,and yet he is a man of neither. His white mother insisted he be educated him in both cultures, and his Zuni father agreed. The tribal elders know he is destined to be firmly centered between the two worlds, and ensure he takes the path of the shaman. When we meet William, he has left the pueblo.

I can’t wait to get started on this new novel, counting down the hours to midnight…counting…counting….

Oh, look! We still have chocolate covered ants left! Yum!

What? They’re not vegan?

Curses….

ants

 

 

 

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Vegan Fried Chicken

photo courtesy 'Taste of Home'

photo courtesy ‘Taste of Home’

Tomorrow I am hosting a gathering of local authors at my home, for an all day immersion in the craft.  I am providing a lunch, and it will be a lot of fun. The menu will be:

Fried Chicken (a vegan will have fried it, so there you go–Vegan Fried Chicken)

Potato Salad – vegan

Green Salad – vegan

Avocado Salad – vegan

As I have said before, I was not always a vegan, and am frequently a reluctant one.  But for my health’s sake, I avoid meat, and dairy. I am careful what I consume, because I have an autoimmune response to these foods–inflammation of my joints that cripples me. While I love fried chicken as much as anyone, I really prefer to be mobile and off the cane.

The negative effects of going off my vegan diet are immediate–maximum suffering occurring within 24 hrs. Then it takes two or three days to clear out of my system.

tacos and burritosDue to the  way our food is grown and processed by the large food manufacturers, many people nowadays are suffering food related allergies. All the food I prepare for groups is gluten free, nut free, organic and locally grown (except the avocados-they don’t grow in Tenino.) Even the chicken is organic and raised humanely. I have become re-attuned to the notion of being connected to your food as more than a consumer. If you know where it came from, how it was grown, you have more appreciation for it, and each meal becomes a celebration.

Food is love, but only if love went into the preparation of it.

I am a vegan, but those around me are not, and I do love them, so I frequently prepare ‘blended meals,’ keeping the side dishes vegan, and creating a separate high-quality, organically raised meat dish for those who expect it. If I provide dairy, it is clearly labeled so that it isn’t accidentally mixed with the non-dairy foods.

SO–the vegan will fry the chicken, and carnivorous authors will consume it. The vegan really won’t miss it at all, as I have found new sources of protein that really satisfy me in the crucial areas of taste and texture, and the quality and pronounce-ability of the ingredients is excellent. That is the basis of my ongoing cookbook project that I hope to launch in late 2015.

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Sickly Smurf

nausea4Good grief, I have not been well for the last day or two. I wasn’t sure if it is food-poisoning or a virus, but lets just say there are some foods I may never be able to eat again.

I’ve always wondered how a person can tell if they have a virus or a form of the flu–so I asked the internet. I found a really good post on telling the difference here: Popsugar, posted by Jenny Sugar.  So, it looks like I have a flu bug. Today I am taking it easy, working in bed a bit, but sleeping mostly.

With that said, I have a family party at our house on Sunday. I should be fine by then — I’m lots better today. We do our family Christmas party in January because it takes a lot of stress off the kids, who are all young professionals, and have a lot of obligations during December.

christmas-gift-bagsNeedless to say, I have a kajillion grand-kid presents to bag up.  Tomorrow, maybe.

Thank God for gift bags and fancy tissue.

I think it may be my first annual deli-chicken party this year too.  I am vegan, but I am the only one, so I would have to fry a lot of chicken, and I really don’t feel like dealing with that.  I will make the mashed taters and gravy, but the chicken–my local store does a great deli-chicken.

I have been doing revisions and writing my little heart out–not so much today though.  Maybe later. I am working on connecting the threads in VOS, and getting the first section finished.

I found something interesting out on www.StumbleUpon.com .  I get some of the most interesting things off that site. Today it was the 23 most interesting images of 2013.  Such lovely photography.  I leave you with this image of the Perseid Meteor Shower, as seen in Wyoming.

enhanced-buzz-wide-22046-1387360087-17

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Monday, and the Room of Shame

Dragon_rearing_up_to_reach_medieval_knight_on_ledgeToday, my plans are as follows (in no particular order):

1. Clean the Room of Shame (my office)

2. bake bread

3. dust for cobwebs, and sweep the front  porch

4. organize kitchen a bit better (if Hell has frozen over)

5. prepare fabulous dinner for husband.

6. Connect two disparate threads in current work-in-progress.

Alas – most likely only 5 and 6 will happen.  The Room of Shame gets sort of dug out and reshuffled two times a year. The last time I cleaned it, there was still fur from our late cat in some of the corners. Yum Yum (rest her little soul) died in 2008.

800px-Southampton_Medieval_Merchants_House_kitchenI might get some baking done if I get to a stopping point on my story. I love to bake, and I love fresh bread, but I am the laziest woman these days.  I know that if I want to eat I must cook, but sometimes I just go with the Dave’s Killer Bread, rather than baking my own. Its vegan and good, but still home made is better.

Like writing, laundry is an ongoing process, so it doesn’t make it to a list. How do two old people make so much laundry? It’s insane. I don’t get it–I have the most modern of laundry doing appliances and still they don’t pick the clothes up and load themselves. Nor do they then fold and put the laundry away, as I think they should do. What’s up with that?  It’s very frustrating.

the way I work

Most likely I will remain in the room of shame, feet propped on filing cabinet, keyboard in lap, pecking away, writing fantasy tales about people who actually DO things. Perhaps Irene and I will go out for lunch. She’ll come by and pick me up and…

…but that means she’ll see the living room…

Oh-god–I have to clean the house. Gotta go!

And how do you intend to spend YOUR day?

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2013 – Huh – Look at that!

472px-Judith_Leyster_Merry_TrioThe WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog, which I looked at and said “Huh. Look at that.”  Though it didn’t really tell me a lot, it was interesting and I loved the shiny picture (at the bottom of this page.)

But it got me to thinking about the year and what my personal favorite posts were. In looking back, I realize my favorite posts are not the ones that detailed my personal life, but are the posts dealing with the craft of writing. Still, the things we struggle with on a personal level are the things that form us as writers–me more than anyone, perhaps. They seem to have been the more popular posts, which surprises me.

For me, the year started out with a round of bad health, and in an effort to turn it around, I became vegan.

Vegans and Version Control posted 04 January 2013

That worked to a certain extent, and now a year later, I am still a Reluctant Vegan. I don’t miss meat, as it has never been that important to me, but boy do I miss the cheese. (sigh.)

MSClipArt MP900390083.JPG RF PDEpilepsy. A scary plunge into the unknown if ever there was one.  The  ‘e’ word  appeared 24 February 2013. I have two children who developed seizure disorders as adults, and they have each handled this frightening change in their lives differently. My daughter handles it the way she does everything–she accepts she has it, takes the medicine, and goes on with her life. Other than the first one she suffered which put her in the hospital with broken bones in her face, her seizures have been milder than my son’s. His seizures, when he has them, are severe, and he has been hospitalized three times this year. Each time, it was because he had not accepted his condition and was not obeying dr.’s orders. I am pleased to report that has changed. Sadly he is unable to drive until February 2014–but with the positive way his treatment is going it looks like he will be cleared to drive at that time. In the year since I wrote ‘The e-word‘ he has made a complete turnaround and is fully committed to managing his disease.

Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895Hard on the heels of that major change was the acknowledgement of my dysfunctional family, and dealing with loved ones who suffer from crippling addictions. That was my emotionally draining post, Trains that Go Bump in the Night, posted 25 March 2013. That situation has also seen a major turnaround, with some really positive results. There is still a lot of pain, but the low point seemed to get my brother’s attention too. He is back on track, and with his jail time behind him and a good attitude. He is working a good recovery program, with an honest desire to be truly happy.  He is doing well, and while our relationship has been forever changed by this terrible ordeal, we have mended some fences between us. I was deeply touched to discover through all of this just how many people have lost loved ones to this terrible addiction, and even more importantly, how many have regained some sort of normalcy.

If there is a Hell, Meth is the devil.

But the positive side of all of this is that because I am unable to really face the reality of my crazy existence, I managed to complete the first draft of Mountains of the Moon. YAY!!!  The End Is Nigh, posted 28 March 2013 detailed the strange reluctance I felt to actually  finish the book and let go of my characters. It was hard, but now the book has made it through the second draft and is in the hands of the beta readers.

Due to bad health, I spent many hours on Facebook, killing time when I should have been writing. Face book–A Squirrel Ran Through It posted on 6 June 2013.

BIF Blog Print ScreenThanks to having surgery and being sicker than a dog for the entire summer, I also read a lot of books and blogged about them on Best in Fantasy, my weekly book review blog.  I thank God for all the amazing and wonderful writers out there who fire my imagination and keep me plugging away at this craft. Someday I hope to have written a tale that is considered a “Best in Fantasy” tale–it is something to aspire to and work towards.

Over the course of the year I wrote many technical pieces, on everything from how to format your ms for print, to how to create a clickable table of contents for your e-book, to how to effectively use WORD, and how to–>oh, dear…Grandma’s sort of a know-it-all and she’s not afraid to tell you about it. Are you listening? There will be a test.

I published a novella, Tales from the Dreamtime, a small book of three short-stories which I think is some of my best work to date, short pieces though they are. I also had two short stories published in a children’s anthology, Christmas O’Clock. I was privileged to be included with some high-powered authors like Shaun Allan and Alison DeLuca, along with Irene Roth Luvaul, Mary K. Mitchell, and Nicole Antonia Carro. That is some heady company!

My Coffee Cup © cjjasp 2013All in all, 2013 was a good year, with the misery being more than balanced by the joys. My suspicion is that people who don’t know what it is like to suffer don’t appreciate the true beauty of life.

It has been a hard year, true, but through it all I had the joy of grandchildren, the love of my husband, the support of my dear friends and the beauty of art and music to surround me. I have rediscovered my gratitude — both for the bounty I enjoy, and the people I am privileged to share my life with.

May your new year bring you joy and prosperity and the ability to appreciate them. May you have the good health to enjoy them, and may your imaginary friends never stop talking to you!

 

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Dinosaurs Among the Birds

200px-Hippie_bug!_(1043753793)We go through life and things happen. Friends drift apart and then we drift back together. When we meet again, we are all so curious about each other’s lives and where the road has taken us, curious about the visible changes and not-so-visible ones. Forty-odd years ago we were young and wild, determined to carve our path in the world and desperate to get on with living. We were tired of the war, tired of politics, and tired of being told what to think by media controlled by pin-headed men in suits. We were tired of congress selling us out.

We were going to change the world.

250px-Woodstock_posterWe did change the world, but not exactly the way we naively believed we would. Even though we were unable to solve all the problems we wanted to, we did manage to make some positive changes. Unfortunately, we were too few, voices shouting in the wind.

And now we are somewhat jaded. The country is still divided, big money still buys votes. Congress is still selling out, and the media is still owned by pin-headed men in suits. There is always a war somewhere, and it is never done with.

We cling to our belief that we will see positive changes, but we don’t believe we will live long enough to enjoy them. But change is inevitable, and it will happen, even if, like Moses and the promised land,  we stand on the opposite shore and see only what yet may be.

My old friends and I are not exactly who we were in those wild days. Now we are an amalgamation of everything we once believed would happen and everything that really happened. We are people who survived Reaganomics, who survived raising children through the MTV years. We held down three part-time jobs because trickle-down economics didn’t really trickle down the social ladder to our rung, and we had kids to feed. We survived the Bush years with some of our dignity intact, and didn’t fold under the “you’re with us or you’re against us” propaganda designed to shut us up.

194px-LennonWallImagineWe are jaded, but we have hope, we old hippies; we old women and men who are dinosaurs among the birds of the modern, hyper-connected world. We still believe the world can be a better place for everyone. The difference is now we know we can change the world…just not in the way we thought we would.

Now we put our money where our mouth is, donating to charities and spending our retirement years volunteering in schools and hospitals. We do it in small ways, chipping away, and little by little we have a positive effect.

We lost the battle to make the world a simpler, kinder place. Our parents won the war with their firm, 20th century belief that only through technology would mankind benefit, and that somewhere  was a miracle drug just waiting to cure every disease known to man.  It just hadn’t been discovered yet.

We were conquered, despite the struggle to keep it simple. We old hippies now embrace the technology and make it ours, because we must either adapt or die, and I am not ready to die. We are a wired society, and we old people have the luxury of a little free time and occasionally, extra money.

Writing is my opportunity to live in the world as I would like it to be, and it is my chance to get away from the war, from politics, and from crazy family issues. Adult children with complicated epilepsy issues, grandchildren having babies too young (did they learn nothing from my trials and errors?) –writing is my escape.  And when I am not reinventing the world, I donate my time and money to advancing humanity. My husband and I give to charities, both locally and internationally.

I support creativity and free-thinking on a local level. I volunteer as municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. I encourage people from all walks of life, and from every point of view to write. It doesn’t matter to me if we agree politically or not. Everyone has a story to tell. Some stories are real and incredibly moving, and all they need is the skill to tell that story the way it should be told.

Generic-180x180They can gain that skill through participating in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Children and schools benefit year round from writing programs sponsored by this organization. November is coming, and for me November is the busiest month of the year. I will be meeting and getting to know many new people, and I will be writing the framework for a new novel.  For one month, thousands of people will be too busy writing to spend their evening in front of the electronic altar, being fed mindless pap in the form of ‘entertainment.’ Instead, they will entertain themselves and find they are so much more than they ever thought they could be.

With every new story that is told, the world opens its eyes a bit more, seeing more possibilities. There is more awareness that we are not islands disconnected from society, cocooned in our dark living-rooms unable to look away from the poorly crafted mind-porn we are force-fed to fill the void.

I am an old hippy, I admit it. But I am water, wearing away at society’s monument to ignorance, helping  the world learn how to tell its story one person at a time.  

Andreas_Achenbach_-_Felsige_Küste

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Filed under Battles, Books, charity, Epilepsy, Fantasy, Food, Humor, Literature, Uncategorized, Vegan, writer, writing