Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Twos -- What I Got Up To

I'm currently rewriting the vampire western. I edited the hard copy and thought it really wouldn't take that much work to get it done. I've been getting antsy to get something published so I knew I needed to be careful. Antsy can lead to bad decisions.
Then one afternoon I awoke from a nap with an idea for another story. It was barely formed. I was left with the final scene of a dream, no idea what preceded it, and a vague notion. The scene stuck with me. The notion formed a bit more and it led to me consulting websites on world-building.
These sites got me worked up to form my new world and go back over all my manuscripts to see what else could be done.
I made notes on all of them.
I want to work on all of them at once.
This only sounds good.
I held myself to only going through the steps and making notes on all the others while I actually write the vampire western.
In the violent upheavals of rewriting I've changed the working title from Biting the Dust to Saintree.  I  think it's normally pronounced "Saint Ree," but in my manuscript the characters insist it's "Sane Tree." 

A little digital filter fun on a photo of Wyoming. It's kind of like putting a different working title on a manuscript. Both change how an object is viewed.

Two sentences fresh as blood from a neck bite:
"Since they'd moved to Saintree their children had embraced the life. Neither Eury nor Kid had taken their first human blood yet."
Reading took me to Oz. I love this book. I didn't read children's books when I was a child so I've missed out in some respects, but at least I've read it now. I can appreciate it more today than I would have 40-45 years ago. 
In fact there were a few times I found myself saying out loud, "This isn't a children's book."
Baum had an unceasing imagination and a gift of spare prose to the point of underwriting. It works.
A few more than two from  the scarecrow in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2005). Dorothy has just told him she wants to go back to dreary, gray Kansas. 

" 'Of course I cannot understand it,' he said. 'If your heads were stuffed with straw, like mine, you would probably all live in the beautiful places, and then Kansas would have no people at all. It is fortunate for Kansas that you have brains."
Thanks for being here. I appreciate every one of you. For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women  of Mystery.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gratitude Monday -- Food of the Gods

It helps me write.
It's a pleasant diversion.
And it's health food.
How could I not be grateful?

If you're wondering, the Latin for chocolate is Theobrama Cacao which means food of the gods.
Here's a link on for more:

Chocolate history.

How do you feel about chocolate? 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Hogged

A young pig snuffles around for food near Santo Domingo.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Tasty Way to Warm the House.

When this is what greets you outdoors:

The day warmed to a paltry -18C.

Roast is an appropriate response.

Lamb with garlic, apricot, and jalapeno, among other spices.

It was -35C this morning. I stepped outside for a quick few swallows of coffee. Bracing does not do the feel of it justice.
It's the kind of temperature that lends itself to things that take a long time to cook. Roasted lamb sounded like a good fit.
I wanted to do something different so I looked up assorted recipes for a jumping off point. Starting it at 450F without liquid might be fun. It was.
The above pic is how it looked after 20 minutes, uncovered.
I rubbed whole, old style mustard and olive oil on it so I guess I cheated a bit, but it felt right. I stuffed fresh garlic in the flesh, then chopped up some apricots and threw on a jalapeno pepper sliced on the long side. A few other spices such as parsley, cinnamon, black and cayenne pepper and paprika, plus some fresh (sort of ) lemon juice rounded it out.
After 20 minutes I poured some white wine over it, turned it down to 325F, covered it and cooked it another hour while I decided what veggies should be roasted with it.
Forty minutes after the veggies--potato, turnip, carrot--went in I took out the roast and let it sit. The veggies went back in at 350F for their big finish and 20 minutes later all was ready. The spice combination, for the record, is a keeper.
I should have taken a pic of the roast once it was done, but didn't.
The food was good, the house was warm and inviting, and all is well in my world.
Winter weather has its pleasures.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude Monday --Another Year

Today I turn another year older, and  I am damned grateful for it.
I'm alive, kicking, reasonably healthy, engaged in life, and looking forward to whatever the year has in store.
I'll only be 52 once this lifetime. I'm going to enjoy it.
Are you enjoying your age?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh, Deer, Oh, Deer

Through my kitchen window

They're back, and this time they mean business.
Three deer visited me the other day and helped themselves to the assorted branches, plants, and other veggie matter that my husband cleaned out of the front yard.
The pile is right outside the kitchen window. It remains there until it becomes soil and then gets spread around as needed.
These young deer had other plans for it.  They seemed especially fond of the Sweet Cicely which tastes like licorice.
After taking the tastiest treats they moved on to the back yard for more Sweet Cicely, compost, and  crabapple.
Mom joined them after a bit. I wish I could have gotten more pics, but the back door was too frosted to shoot through.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And It Was Good

Bacon Weave =Food Porn

It turned out rather well. I should have added some more liquid in the afternoon. Possibly turned it down to 250F then as well. Clearly I will have to make it again and again until I get it right.
But the fat on the bacon kept the roast moist enough and I was happy with it.
Husband pronounced it tasty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weaving a Tale of Bacon

Small roast smothered in bacon. Yay!
Cooking things that take along time is a personal pleasure of mine.
I'm usually home. As long as I have an idea, and have it in time, I can throw something together like a soup, or a stew, or a roast.
It makes the house warm and inviting. Working with my hands to prepare food is soothing. It helps me think.
Sorting out what spices to use perks up my creativity.
Fiction writers use "what ifs" in their writing. I use "what ifs" in my cooking.
Fortunately, it usually works out.
The weather has turned wintry this week and I've been using it to my advantage. Yesterday I made a pot of beans from scratch. Between the quick soak and the simmering it took all day. That was fine with me.
I'd taken out some bacon for the beans and had so much that I actually contained myself and held some back. Normally I wouldn't, but I thought about making roast today and wondered, "What if I put a bacon weave on it?"

I had enough for a small weave, just enough to cover the top as opposed to rolling the roast in it.
It just went in, at 275F, a few minutes ago. It'll stay in for about nine hours.
It's going to be a good day.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Twosome -- Oh, Deer

Inquisitive mule deer take an afternoon stroll around town.
Readers of my blog know that I recently faced a happy problem: which manscript do I edit next?
I decided to go with the vampire western. It's been sitting a while now and is in need of some attention. As I read over a hard copy yesterday I realized my gift for understatement. It needs a hell of a lot of attention.

Here's a wee bit from Biting the Dust:

" 'You're granddad is a full-blood. It would probably set his canines on edge to have to smell that saloon.' He smiled broadly. 'Or you.' "

Reading's taken a bit of a beating lately. I devoted most of my efforts to finishing the rewrite of The Legend of Shallal. I'm pleased to report I got that done last week and have since printed out a copy for my husband to read.
Once that was out of the way I turned back to reading. I'm about to start L. Frank Baum's, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2005)
I didn't read children's books when I was a child. I'm making up for it now.
From the inside jacket:
"As beautiful and vibrant as Oz is, Dorothy still wants nothing more than to go home. But only the all-powerful Wizard of Oz can help Dorothy and Toto get back there."
I've only ever seen the movie.  I saw it young and didn't care for it. The Scarecrow reminded me too much of a clown and the Cowardly Lion annoyed me.
I'm so looking forward to getting my mind changed.
For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Monday --A Good Problem

I have a good life.
The most pressing problem I currently face is deciding which manuscript to edit.
I am grateful for this problem.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday--Free As A Bird

A West Indian Woodpecker in a tree in an orchid garden in Cuba.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You

For all who serve then and now,
For those who one day will,
For every man, woman, and child who took up arms
and said: "Not on my watch, pal."
Thank you.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two-Sentence Tuesday- The End is Near

I came very close to finishing the re-write on The Legend of Shallal on the weekend.  I spent most of Sunday at the keyboard, leftover Halloween sucker in my mouth, madly revising, rewriting, and making it somewhat better.
Two chapters remain. I had every intention of getting them done today, but I needed to go out for a few things and then I needed my glasses adjusted. Twice.
Instead of working on the end I realized I needed a scene added earlier. The manscript has gone from about 53,000, to about 40,000, and is now around 47,000. It may not ever get to novel length, but if the story is told as a novella, then novella it'll stay.
I wanted it wrapped up so it can sit a spell. And because late last week I got another idea that is currently attempting to kick its way out of my head.
I've tried to mollify it by making notes. It's calmed the kicks a bit, but it'll break its way out soon.

Here are two from the The Legend of Shallal:

"She felt her guts ripped out as the land splintered. Her body twitched on the chamber floor and then all was black to her as the island disappeared under the waves and the waves gave way to a calm sea that twinkled in innocence in the sunlight."
Our current bedtime story is Taras Bulba, by Nikolai Gogol (The Complete Tales of Nikolai Gogol, Vol. 2, The University of Chicago Press (1985).
I've wanted to read this since I first heard about it some 30 years ago.
Bulba is a fine figure of a Cossack. Passionate and intense. A true fighter. And frankly, the man is a complete butt. I'm glad we're reading it, and I hope by the end I can find some way to sympathize with him.

Two sentences:
"The pretty little hand of a Polish lady, smiling and sparkling, lay white as sugar on the railing. Illustrious nobles, rather stout, gazed at the scene with a dignified air."
Thanks for coming by. For more or to get in on the fun, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude Monday - Change Gives Time To Reflect

A time of deep reflection

I prefer standard time. I always have. To me the change to daylight is absurd. It makes little difference in many parts of Canada in the meat of summer as the days here are long. In the early spring and later fall it is plain stupid. Anything we may save on one end of the day is spent on the other end.
But that's all behind us now.
I'm happy to get the hour back. I can use it.
It's darker sooner. That's better for writing and better for thinking.
Soon it'll be darker in the mornings, too.
Winter will be along shortly and that's even better.
Cold dark days are the best for thinking and writing.
And baking.
And cooking slow roasts and stews that warm the house and fill it with wonderful toothsome fragrances that fill the body and fill the soul and are good for writing, too.
I'm grateful the fundamental absurdity of daylight time is behind me so I can enjoy the day for what it is, when it is.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo-Finish Friday -- Street Scene

Sweeping water down the street in a Cuban city.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday--Too Good To Be True

I was tickled silly yesterday to find one of my favourite full page ads in the Edmonton Journal. The Heat Surge(R) Fireless Flame(R) miracle heaters with the real Amish mantles are back.
A few changes have been made to the ad this season.  The lead photo is of the heaters in the warehouse rather than Amish men making the mantles.
The ad copy has been through yet another rewrite. Last year the original references to how well the heaters were selling in Florida and California was omitted. This latest version plays down the Amish angle while playing up how the first 3, 908 people to call get the heater for free (you only pay for the mantle) though there is a limit of two per household. Since it rolls from room to room  and needs only to be plugged in I do wonder why a household needs two, but I am sure I am just being an old stick-in-the-mud.
Here are two non-continguous sentences for your edification and enjoyment:
"Readers who beat the 48-hour order deadline are getting their new infrared miracle heaters free when encased in the Amish built real wood fireplace mantle."

"This new advanced heating system warms more than just the air, it heats objects like furniture, walls and people for a warm and comfortable home."
My contributions this past week have been steady, if slow. 
The rewrite is coming along and that's about all I can ask of it.
Here are two recent sentences from The Legend of Shallal:
"A valve opening directly over the chief pressure point was a logical solution, but a deadly one. It would wipe the life off the island, and likely wipe the island off the face of the ocean."
Thank you.
For more or to get in on the fun please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gratitude Monday - My Own Steam

Me and my Focus at Twin Lakes last spring.
If I need to go to a store, I can.
If I wish to go out looking for pictures, I do so.
If I want to go for a drive, then I go for a drive.
The first two can be accomplished in several different ways, but they are easiest done with a car and a driver's license.
The third one requires access to a vehicle and the aforementioned license unless I can rook someone into being a chauffeur.
It's easier to do it myself and I am grateful for the simple pleasure of driving a car that I own.