Tag Archives: gratitude

#FlashFictionFriday: #NewYears2016

472px-judith_leyster_merry_trioAt this time of the year, I find myself looking back at my own life, and feeling such gratitude for the blessings and the bounty my husband and I have enjoyed.

All in all, 2016 was a good year on the home front, with the low points being more than balanced by the joys. My suspicion is that people who don’t know what it is like to suffer a little pain don’t appreciate the true beauty of life.

In some ways it has been a hard year, true, but through it all I had the joy of grandchildren, the love of my husband and our children,  great books to read, 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.

On New Year’s Eve we will enjoy a dinner party at the home of close companions. We’ll party in the company of my sister and her husband, a few comrades from our old school days, and several soul-mates we have only met comparatively recently. We’re a mixed bag of nuts, as close as blood-relatives, a gang of retirees who support each other through the highs and lows of life.

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!

In the meantime, I offer you this poem (originally posted on Jan 1 of this year):


New Years Eve at the Drunken Sasquatch

Bloody Bill reigns from behind his bar

Over the rowdy throng.

And I shall nurse my cider mulled

And sometimes sing along.


The Leprechaun plays Hendrix, loud,

The vampire sings the blues.

The dragon racks the billiard balls,

The Reaper chalks his cue.


We’re having such a lively time

The floorboards sway and heave.

The Drunken Sasquatch is the place

To spend a New Year ’s Eve.

New Years Eve at the Drunken Sasquatch, © 2016 Connie J. Jasperson

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Filed under #FlashFictionFriday, writing

#amwriting: #gratitude

gravy_1The best thing about the Thanksgiving meal is the gravy.

Just saying.

And for this vegan, mashed taters and mushroom gravy are heaven on a plate.

To be vegan means I only eat plants and foods made from plants. I don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. Unlike some people, I’m not evangelical about my dietary choice. I simply bring my own food wherever I go.

I choose this diet because I have an autoimmune form of arthritis triggered by dairy and animal proteins. I have been pain-free since adopting this lifestyle in 2012. In terms of money, it’s far less expensive, as beans are my go-to protein source, and a variety of vegetables are relatively inexpensive. Other family members have more ethical reasons for not eating animals–if you are curious as to the many reasons for choosing a vegan lifestyle, click here.

We’re going to daughter number two’s house this year. I am bringing vegan foods, as there will be several vegans there besides me. I make my mashed potatoes with lots of Earth Balance margarine (100% plant-based, unlike most margarines) and I also throw in a heft dollop of Sour Supreme (Tofutti’s brand of vegan sour cream). We don’t make mashed potatoes very often, as we are careful about the amount of fat we normally consume, but this is a special meal.

This year I am making everything gluten free that I can, because my daughter’s mother-in-law has celiac disease, and anything with gluten will make her terribly ill. I found an amazing recipe for that most delicious of comfort foods, gluten-free mushroom gravy as created by Molly Katzen. I’m also making a crustless pumpkin custard–the vegan pumpkin pie filling in custard dishes rather than in a pie shell. Wheat flour is the natural source of gluten, so there will be no wheat in anything I make and bring to this event.

I am not a fan of that well-known holiday staple, the Tofurkey, although many vegans are. I prefer to just eat the side-dishes and I do 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’m playing around with the idea of stuffed squash boats, using a savory wild-rice pilaf to stuff them with, if I can find the perfect squash. Or perhaps I’ll stuff the pilaf into those colorful little mini-peppers.

Food Network Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Food Network Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Regardless, it will be a famdamily free-for-all as four of our five children will be there along with their extended families. The grandchildren will be running wild, our daughter’s kitchen will be packed, seven conversations will be occurring at once, and the noise level will approach that of a space-shuttle launch.

No longer the main cooks, my husband and I and the other older people will keep the grandparental eye on the littlest grandkids so their parents can get the meal ready to be served. When the tables are set, and the prayer is said, we old people will be thankful for our many, many blessings.

Here in the US, Thanksgiving “traditionally” marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, but I tell you this now: Being in the company of our children and their children, and sharing this meal with our children’s in-laws is a gift more precious than anything that could arrive wrapped in tissue paper.

The dinner will be loud, and not always polite as the youngest are still learning manners. There will be the lovingly waged war between the vegans and the carnivores. We will find common ground in the mashed potatoes and the two different kinds of gravy. But chaotic and messy though it will be, it will be a table full of love and that is a dish no one can pass up. This large, noisy, sometimes dysfunctional family we have blended from so many disparate pieces is the only real treasure we have. My husband and I are filled with gratitude for every minute we have in their company, grateful in ways that can’t be expressed with mere words.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie recipe here

Vegan Gluten Free Gravy recipe here

Vegan Mashed Potatoes recipe here

Miyoko’s Kitchen|Artisan Cultured Vegan Cheese


Filed under Vegan, writing

#amgrateful: Celebrate those who labor in the service industry

Stylized drawing of a maid on a Works Progress Administration poster via Wikipedia

Stylized drawing of a maid on a Works Progress Administration poster via Wikipedia

Today is Labor Day in the US. This is the day we honor those whose labor keeps this country running. Over the course of my life, I have worked in a wide variety of jobs.

Child care was always an issue. Sometimes I had subsidized child care, which was the only reason I could work. Later, my kids were latch-key kids, the older ones taking care of the younger. My uncle also cared for my youngest daughter until she was about 10.  Because I had that child care subsidy when my youngest was not yet of school age, I was able to live without government food stamps, and was able to support my family relatively well.

1970s-80s –

  • automobile detailer
  • a field hand for a (now defunct) multi-national Christmas tree company
  • photo lab tech
  • waitress in a bakery and a deli worker

During the late 70s and early 80s I worked for the J. Hofert Company (Christmas trees) and absolutely loved the work. It was outdoors,  and only paid $3.25 an hour, and it was seasonal, but I was able to work a lot of overtime during certain seasons, as field hands were as hard to get then as they are now.

1980s-90s –

  • a hotel maid
  • a photographer’s assistant and darkroom technician
  • a bookkeeper, and an office manager

Sometimes, especially during the Reagan years and up to 1996, wages were low and jobs were scarce.  I held two, and sometimes three, part-time jobs just to keep the roof over my children’s heads and food on their table. Trickle down economics never quite trickled down to my town. I was divorced in 1997, and oddly enough, things became much easier, and I was able to get by with only one job, even while raising my last teenager.

2000-13 –

  • a bookkeeper, tax preparer, data entry.

In 2014 I began writing full time, and have no regrets.

None of the jobs I held were glamorous, but I worked with great people, many of whom are still my close friends. My favorite job was as a hotel maid at a large hotel in Olympia–the work was hard, but I enjoyed it for 12 years. For most of the 1980-90s, it was my weekend job that I kept along with my bookkeeping job because the hotel was a union shop.

I worked every weekend and every holiday and yes it was not easy, but it was what it was. My kids were good and supportive and knew I was doing my best.

In 1993 things were easier. As a bookkeeper/office manager, I had earned $7.50 an hour (two dollars over minimum at the time) and worked less than 30 hours a week with no benefits whatsoever. I drove for an hour each way, morning and afternoon, for that job. As a hotel housekeeper in a union shop, I made $8.50 (three dollars over minimum) and worked about 20 hours a week, giving me enough from the two jobs to live on and provide for my children. I was still legally married to my third husband, but he was seldom in the picture. The marriage was a shield that protected me from having to date the men my friends kept trying to set me up with. (See? Everyone has a story out of a soap opera, right?)

For all the years I was married to my 3rd husband (13 long years) no matter what other job I had, I kept my weekend job at the hotel. I kept it because I always had that to fall back on, and I could work full time whenever the other jobs went away.

At the time I worked there, my hotel was affiliated with S.E.I.U. Because of the union, we who did the dirty work earned a little more than maids, housemen, and laundresses at other hotels. We also had a few benefits, such as paid sick leave, up to two weeks a year paid vacations, good health insurance, and a 401k, to which our employer matched our contributions.

We were maids, the lowest of the low. No one is lower or of less social value than the person who cleans up after other people. We would have had nothing more than minimum wage without the union.

Not every union is good, and not every union is reasonable. But while I don’t agree with everything every union does and stands for, I do feel gratitude that my family and I were protected by a good, reasonable organization during those years that were such a struggle for me. Every worker deserves that his/her employer treats them with respect and a fair wage in return for their labor.

I write books now, and the world is a different place in many ways. Even so, someone must do the dirty jobs, the work that no one else wants. I have nothing but respect for those who work long hard hours in all areas of the service industry, struggling to support their families.

Look around you, and see the people who make your life easier, by being there every day doing their job.

Every one of them is a person just like you, a living, caring human being with hopes, ambitions, triumphs and tragedies. Every one of them has a story and a reason to be where they are, doing the task they have been given.

Say a little thank you to all those who take your unintentional abuse when you are stressed out and “don’t have time to wait,” or are upset by things you have no control over and need to vent at someone who can’t or won’t fight back.

Give a little thanks to those who do the dirty work and enable you to live a little easier.

Parts of this post were previously published in Sept of 2015.


Filed under writing


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.



Filed under Adventure, Battles, Blogger, blogging, Books, charity, Fantasy, Food, History, Humor, Literature, news of the world, Politics, Publishing, Self Publishing, Spirituality, Uncategorized, writer, writing