Sunday, November 22, 2015

enormous beet

Getting back to the beet I over-peppered yesterday -- it was an enormous beet. Check this out (quarter added for perspective):

It did make it very easy to peel the beet and then chop it up. Much less peeling when you only have one beet that takes the place of at least four smaller ones.

Sexy Snippets -- Link!

This blog has writers posting some sexy snippets -- way steamier and hotter than I tend to write -- a good resource if you're feeling unsure about what book to pick up next.  A snippet might light your fire!

The Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog: Sexy Snippets for November

a lesson about pepper

My inexpensive grocery store pepper grinder is about empty (the plastic sort that has an adjustable plastic top), and I thought maybe I could refill it, and not need to purchase another grinder, so I bought just the peppercorns. But, alas, no. There's no way to get the plastic top off without breaking it. So, I have a bounty of peppercorns and no grinder.

Or do I?

I have an infrequently used coffee grinder that can perform the service of grinding! I snatch that out of obscurity from the cupboard and put it to work. I'm happily grinding peppercorns left, right, and center. The problem? I'm used to gauging pepper amount based on how many times I'm grinding the little plastic device and the already ground visual of it, not the pre-ground version of it.

I got a bit carried away, and added way too much pepper to some roasted beets I was making. Those beets were delicious! And my mouth burned for at least a half hour after. Lesson learned. Maybe. Today when I prepped dinner in the slow cooker, I still went a little heavy on the pepper. I bet dinner is going to be amazing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Free Fiction: Regular Afternoons

Back to Oscar and Phillip!


Phillip picked up his phone on the second trill. He didn't recognize the number. "Hello?"

"Phil? It's Christa, from three houses down?"

It took Phillip a moment to remember who she was. Thin, young, light brown hair, married to a dweebish guy who drove off early in the morning and came back late at night. "Christa, hello. What's going on?"

"I was hoping I could ask you a really big favor?" She sounded breathless and stressed. "I'm stuck in traffic? There was some kind of accident?" Every sentence ended in an uplift of her tone so that it all sounded like a question.

"Yes?" Phillip tried to figure out what she could possibly want, and waited for her to get to the point.

“My husband won’t be home for a while? I was supposed to be back in time? From grocery shopping? But this accident will make me late?”

Now Phillip had a possible guess what Christa needed, but he waited to let her say it. “Yes?”

“My kids get off the bus in five minutes? There has to be an adult for the drop off? Could you stand in my driveway?”

Behind her, he could hear the wail of sirens. A chill ran through him, settling in his chest. Oscar sometimes came home early, and possibly through that same road. Phillip started walking. “I’ll be there,” he said, using his most reassuring voice.

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” For once, she was sure of herself, and not questioning every sentence. “I’ll be there as soon as I can?”

After hanging up, Phillip pulled on his shoes and a coat. A glance down the street showed the bus already beginning its entry into the neighborhood. Phillip took up his post at the bottom of the driveway and waited the interminable ten minutes for the bus to loop through the neighborhood, letting each child off in their designated spot.

The bus stopped in front of Phillip and Christa’s children descended. Both were little girls, about a year apart in age, with pixie-shaped faces and enormous eyes. One had red ribbons in her hair and the other had green. Phillip had no idea what their names were, but he waved at them and hoped they remembered him from around the neighborhood.

“Where’s mom?” asked Red, the older of the two.

“Stuck in traffic,” he said.

“I want mommy!” said Green. She balled her hands into little fists and looked thunderous.

The bus driver gave Phillip a wave and drove off.

“She’ll be here in a few minutes,” Phillip said. The little girls had their coats on and it wasn’t very cold, so staying outside wouldn’t be a problem. At least, for a little while. Phillip didn’t have a key to their house, and he didn’t want to bring them to his house.

“Let’s lean your backpacks against the garage and play a game while we wait for your mom to get here, okay?”

Red thought about that for a minute, but Green squealed and ran to dump her backpack.

“Let’s play Superhero!” she announced and then pointed to herself. “I’m the Superhero. You need saving!”

Red nodded at Green, and then Phillip. “Okay. I'll play that.”

Phillip put on an act of wringing his hands. “Help, help, help!” he moaned. “If only a superhero was here!”

“You’re doing it wrong,” Green said. She was clearly displeased.

“How should I do it?” Phillip asked, and wondered if their mother would ever arrive.

“Like this,” Green said, and flung herself around in a frenzy of fake agony.

Phillip waited until she was done. “That might be a bit more than I can do,” he said. “Maybe we could play another game. Do you like to sing?”

“No!” Green said. "No, no, no!"

“There’s mom,” Red said, pointing to a car.

The car pulled into the driveway, and behind it another car continued on and then pulled into Phillip’s driveway. Oscar was home.

“Thank you!” Christa said as she climbed out of her car. “I don’t know what I would have done.”

Phillip waved and wandered away. “No worries,” he said as he departed. He left them behind and trotted back home where Oscar got out of his car and waited.

“Hey,” Oscar said. “Making friends in the neighborhood.”

“Getting kids off the bus. Christa said there was a car accident that held her up.”

“There was. It looked bad,” Oscar said, and hugged Phillip. “I’m glad to be home.”

The chill that had settled in Phillip’s heart fifteen minutes ago thawed and he hugged back. “I’m glad you’re home, too.”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

artsy and craftsy

I was in a store today that sold some higher end clothing, and I noticed that the scarves and hats were priced quite high. Some of the styles now are very much about getting a home-crafted look, and several of them had that look as well as the steep price tag. I also have a few friends who do a lot of knitting and crocheting and sell their wares at seasonal craft fairs. The scarves, mittens, hats, etc. they spend hours making do not sell for anywhere near these amounts. They've explicitly mentioned that they can't price the things too high or they won't sell. Now, granted, the store has some luxury of being there each day whereas the craft fairs are very temporary, but it just seems so odd. Anyway, I've been working on a few items for gifts for later on, some scarves and hats (hence my attention to the matter), and I was thinking these items might not be in as much favor as much as if I'd bought something from a store, but now I'm wondering if that's fully true.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

squash, so divine!

I've got a story coming out that features romance and a nifty little caper where zucchini are concerned. In anticipation of that, which may still be a little ways out, I'm sharing some photos from this past summer.

Some fantastic coloration of the edible squash. And zucchini growing, hidden, in the garden.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Free Fiction: The Hidden Park VI

Saturday morning again, and Annabelle walked Duchess early. Both her fathers propped themselves up at the kitchen table, coffee mugs raised to their mouths while they blearily looked at each other. She'd have preferred they come with her, but they both looked like the work week had beaten them black and blue and purple all over.

It was a fine morning, and the air was warm, the sun shone bright, and Duchess trotted like she would bring home a blue ribbon in prancing.

Nothing else had happened all week, after her Monday adventure, except a very uncomfortable conversation with her parents about stranger danger, so now Annabelle's curiosity had raised again. She'd first noticed the park a week ago, and she wanted to know if it still held a tinge of uncomfortable magic, or if it would be ordinary.

Behind the pharmacy, the green space appeared the same as before. It stood quiet and unattended. The bowls of water and kibble were full.

She took Duchess to the middle of the space and stood there, turning in a circle and looking out. She noticed a dog sleeping in a patch of sunlight near a tree, on its side. He raised his head, sleepy and tired, and then put his head down again. His muzzle was white, in contrast to the dark shag of the rest of his fur.

"Hey there, pup," Annabelle said. She approached very slowly. "Are you friendly?"

Duchess whined in greeting.

The dog shifted its weight and leaned up. Annabelle approached it, and he licked her outstretched hand. "Good boy," she said, and scratched behind his ears. He closed his eyes, pleased.

"You've met Georgie?" came a voice behind her, and she turned to see the man. "He's an old puppy, but he's got a big heart."

"He's sweet," Annabelle said.

"That he is," the man agreed. "Not a lot of days left to him, though. He's enjoying his time sleeping in the sun."

Annabelle stopped rubbing Georgie's ears and he pushed his nose into her hand to encourage her to pet him again. She scratched the back of his ears again. Duchess stretched out next to Georgie, thumping her tail behind her, and leaning gently into Georgie's side. Georgie opened his mouth, looking as if he were smiling.

"You help the dogs, don't you," Annabelle asked. She'd been afraid of the man before, but Duchess trusted him. And now Georgie trusted him.

"Yup. Much as I can. Not a lot of me to go around, but I stretch it out."

"I'm glad," she said.

"They deserve every bit of love we can give them," the man said.

"They do," Annabelle agreed. She and Duchess stayed there for a long time, keeping Georgie company, before finally saying goodbye and going home.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

late night editing

I'm feeling a little bleary-eyed as I've been up late editing. And drinking coffee.

Maybe this wasn't such a great idea, but I can't regret it because I made some tangible headway to getting something all done and submitted! I'll regret it tomorrow. ;)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

the joy of a rough draft

I finished a rough draft today! *dances*dances*dances*

And it feels so good!

Getting a story done is a strange road to follow -- I start with an idea, and it always changes as the words come out on the page, and then I have to figure out how to get away from the detours and back to the main idea, but sometimes the detour is a *better* concept. And that's what happened this time. I had some trouble navigating a sticky spot in the plot, and then let it sit for a while, and while I was doing something else completely, how to fix the issue occurred to me, and of course, the idea made the entire thing even better than it would have been originally! Ah, brain, you work in mysterious ways.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

the inner mystery of pancakes

I had occasion today to be making flapjacks for others for breakfast. I don't often make pancakes, and when I do, it is usually just for myself, so I have a lot of forgiveness if I undercook them. But when cooking for others, there's a lot of pressure to make sure the pancakes are golden on the outside and cooked through. But you can't tell without piercing them, and the hole in them would look a bit ugly. So, the chef must guess, based on the outside, and the time on the griddle. I am happy to report, my pancakes came out very well indeed, but it involved a lot of luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

angry forms

I was going to post such a vitriolic rant...but I've run out of steam for the moment. I'll get my dander back up again about it at some point. But, since I am in a calm state of mind, I just wanted to say, I am annoyed by forms that are angry. Filling out paperwork and forms is something we all have to do, on-line or on paper, and we put up with it. But sometimes you come across *angry* forms. You know the ones I mean. Lots of bolding and underlining and italicizing and harsh colors. You can almost see the person or people putting the form together, angry themselves because it is never filled out correctly, (or worse, they love the power they hold to force those filling these out to give up so much privacy, so much personal information). All that anger goes into the form, with short, terse language, and dire warnings of 'this will be returned to you', or 'this will be utterly shredded and we won't even inform you about it' if you don't fill out every single box. Why so angry? Why so angry that during the long, long process of developing this form that you *stayed* that angry? Would it hurt so awfully much to develop a pleasant form, or even a neutral one?