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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Strange Dreams

I had a seriously strange dream last night, or maybe it was this morning. Once I dreamt it, I couldn't go back to sleep. It's been seriously hounding me all day.

I was in a parking lot, walking towards some type of large store, like a Walmart, when this fellow parked his vehicle in my path and exited his car leading a large wild boar, or warthog, or something like that by a leash, like the kind dog walkers use. The animal was large, seething and surly. His tusks were long, thick and pointed, his hair dark and coarse. 

I stood in front of the two of them, my feet frozen to the ground, engulfed in fear. All of a sudden, the animal broke free from the leash and charged right for me.

My first instinct was to just jump out of his way. The beast was so fast, like a blur, and I barely cleared his attack. I could feel the rough coarse hair brush the bottoms of my feet. He charged a second and third time. All three times I was able to get out of his way.

I woke a little shaky, not nearly as bad as when I was younger and woke from similar dreams.

It's been years since I've had an animal dream. I would dream of large bears, or lions chasing me as I ran through fog so thick it felt like I was running through water. It made me feel slow, sluggish. Anything could have caught me. I would fail to outrun the animal. He would catch me, claw at my flesh and maul me.

I would awake a screaming, trembling, sobbing wreck. It felt so real. I felt so helpless. It would take me a moment or two to realize it for what it was, a horrible nightmare.

I can only surmise that I may be getting better. It may be that I am better able to cope with my out-of-control past.

No longer a victim but a survivor.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Spanish Rice

My cousin, Kelly, in Martinsville, Indiana asked me if I remembered how to make Grandma's Spanish rice. I really had to think about this, because I only remember having it once, so it took a while to remember exactly what went into it.

But, yay! I figured it out and through trial-and-error, here it is!

Grandma's Spanish Rice

2 T. Butter or EVOO
1 small onion, diced
1 c. rice (I like Mahatma) rinsed and dried as much as possible
1 8 oz. can of tomato puree or sauce
1 7 oz can of Green Giant ® Mexicorn, drained
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. chicken bouillon
1 1/2 c. hot water

Melt butter or heat EVOO in a skillet over medium heat.
Add diced onion and sautee for 2 minutes
Add rice to onion and oil and continue to sautee. Rice should cook until slightly browned.
Add the tomatoes and corn and stir. Simmer while you prepare fluid.
Heat water to boiling then add bouillon and chili powder and dissolve stirring constantly.
Add liquid to rice mixture and increase heat to boiling.
Cover and simmer (about 15 minutes) or until water is absorbed.

Makes about 4 servings.

You can add more or less of the chili powder depending on how much heat you want.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Rift

Writing "The Rift" was a challenge. All said and done, I was glad for the experience. It is a different genre than I've been writing this past year. But someone dared me to do something different. To leave what was normal and write something I wouldn't typically write.

To write from the heart.

I wrote from a perspective that we all become estranged at one point or another in our lives with or from the people that love us, or are supposed to love us unconditionally. But there always has to be hope that we can find our way back; that we can find our way home again.

It was so difficult. It felt impossible. I cried so much. I tear up just thinking about a couple of the scenes.

My father passed away when I was four years old. I remember a few things about him. Just snippets of memories. I can't help but feel that if he were alive years ago some of the terrible things that happened to me wouldn't have happened.

I had very little to draw on in the way of father-daughter relationships.

Over the years, there have been "uncles" and "daddies", in my mother's sorry attempt to find someone to fill my father's shoes. Most of them were idiots. Most of them tolerated me at best. I didn't have their love and they didn't have mine. I was an angry, rebellious train wreck, soon to be snared and broken in a fourteen-year nightmare.

"The Rift" is dedicated to Butch Capps, the person who challenged me to write something different. I met him twenty-four years ago, but it seems I've known him my whole life. He stepped in and stepped up to be the dad I needed, whose company I enjoy and whose counsel and wisdom I revere.

For you, Pop.

Link to Amazon

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Writing "do no harm" was gruesome (but it was fun)

Who would have thought that I would have had so much fun writing something so macabre?

Both of my sons have spent some time in the hospital lately, and I started kicking around a "what if" scenario for a novelette.

This latest offering came to me when I exited an elevator (a real E-Ticket ride, for those of you familiar with that term), to a vacant hospital hallway with the florescent lights flickering, quite possibly due to a faulty ballast. I could smell a bit of ozone.

It was creepy. It was all I needed.

I photographed the image and kicked it around a bit with Photoshop.

What I ended up with had me doing a double-take. It would be the perfect book cover. I showed the photo to my family. It freaked them out.

Mission accomplished.

I bounced the story around a bit, and what I ended up with was morbid and dark. It's the type of story that would likely be told around a campfire, on Halloween night while sipping some sort of libation to control the shaking in your hands.

Here's the finished product:

Free on 9/19/2016 through 9/21/2016.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Well ... I never thought I'd see the day

This time last year, I was thinking about writing a novel. I was kind of on the fence about it. I knew that I would be writing pure pain, and all that good stuff from the heart - and it petrified me. The characters were screaming at each other. Day and night. 2-4-7; 3-6-5. Weekends and holidays.

Never thought I'd see the day, though.

Just for grins, I outlined it. First in my head, then in a little red notebook I carry everywhere, then started typing it out. The outline grew into several outlines, which turned into chapters, which evolved into 76,000 words (approximately); and a second novel.

Funny thing is, my first work is not the one that ended up getting published. The novelette was fun to do though, and it was something that I needed to prove to myself. Just wanted to see if I could do it.

I've left my comfort zone a lot lately.

It felt a lot like sitting in the back of my Aunt's '61 Bonneville. I used to get so car sick in that car. I'd love all the places that I got to go, but the trip there was pure hell. My Aunt did everything that she could think of to keep me from getting sick. From soda crackers and 7Up, to starving me, to drugging me. Still got sick. Never got sick in any other car, just hers. It wasn't until years later that we figured out why.

I couldn't see out the windows. I couldn't see where I was going. That backseat sat so low, all I could manage to see was the tops of trees whirling by.

We found this out quite by accident. I'd been begging my Aunt to let me ride up front. Of course, she didn't want a little girl puking all over her (understandable). But she was one to give in to me (after copious amounts of whining on my part).

So she put me in the front seat, on a towel, with a bucket because I always traveled that way, and away we went.

I sat and looked out the window, with the wind in my face. I saw other cars. I saw people walking in the crosswalk. I saw stores and gas stations and everything else that everybody else saw.

I never got sick in her car again.

All the stuff I've been doing lately has me feeling just like that queasy little girl I once was. Not able to see where I was going.

Some things never change.

Hope I don't throw up, because I sure can't see where any of this is going.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Traveler's Soup

I got a request from my cousin, Kelly, who lives in Martinsville, Indiana. She asked for the recipe for some soup that I regularly make.

I actually had to think about it some, as I've never written it down.

Elsewhere in this blog I've mentioned that I learned the fine art of cooking mostly from my grandmother. I followed her around quite a bit when I was younger, trying to gain an understanding of her creative genius. She never wrote anything down either, and I've spent literally decades trying to reproduce some of her dishes.

All these years that I've worked to replicate her cooking style I learned that the secret was nothing more than love and an enthusiasm for her family and friends.

Today, I made one of my favorites that she used to make. I call it Traveler's Soup.

I call it this because it's made in haste and with love from ingredients that I have laying around in my kitchen and fridge. It cooks all day in a crock pot as it waits for those I love and care about to return to the love, safety, and warmth of the home.

I never make this the same way twice, as I rummage through my cupboards grabbing this and that. But it seems to turn out pretty good, at the very least edible. I haven't had any complaints thus far.

Lately, since we have been living a paleo lifestyle, I've made several changes to cut out a lot of the carbs. If you follow Weight Watchers® each serving of this soup is worth a little more than one point.

3 large tomatoes, stewed and crushed (you can use a 12 ounce can of crushed tomatoes instead)
1 chopped onion
1-2 lbs. of any meat you like (stew beef, chicken, ground turkey, whatever you like)
Cooking spray or olive oil

Sautee the onion in a dot of olive oil or cooking spray and then add the meat and brown slightly, then turn off and let rest.

Put the prepared tomatoes in the crock pot then add the meat mixture and stir.

Then get creative with your vegetables.  For my recipe, I generally add celery, cabbage, mushrooms, zucchini, pear squash (chayote) and bell peppers. You can definitely add other ingredients such as potato, carrots, corn or anything else.  Add equal portions of each of these until the pot is full (about 1/2 inch from the top).

Then cover with beef or chicken broth or bouillon dissolved in water (enough to cover when you're done adding the veggies). My crock pot takes about 6 cups.

Give the ingredients a good stir. Set on low. Forget about it until you get home.

If you are not watching carbs, you can serve this with a nice, crusty bread. I normally just eat the soup, maybe having a simple salad beforehand.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I'm awake around 3:30 am every morning just about for the last 10 months or so.

Sometimes I can go back to sleep, sometimes I just lay there.

The wheels turn faster and louder some mornings. Sometimes to stop them, I'll get up and write. Sometimes the stuff I come up with is shocking, it floors me and renders me a trembling, sobbing mess.

Sometimes it's cathartic. Sometimes I ask myself why, wondering what's the point of it all.

Then I really think about the why.

There once was a time when I thought I would never be able to report the atrocities that happened to me; that I had no voice. Back then, I wasn't allowed to have a voice, much less an opinion. I wasn't permitted to make decisions for myself. I was told what to say, how to act, what to think, what to eat, when to sleep, how to dress and where I was allowed to go.

Woe unto me should I have deviated one iota. Heaven help me if I complained.

Truth be told, I chose to forget, tune out or block those things which were just too painful. The brain switched off; my body was there, my mind was someplace else. I'd wake up and wonder how I got a new bruise. Why did my arms hurt? I didn't remember.

The mind is a wonderful thing. I was in a comfortable place with it or at least believed it to be so.

Breaking free was hard; the hardest thing I have ever done. I couldn't do it alone. And although people do it every day, no one should have to face their fears alone. Everyone needs someone.

I've learned that I do have a voice, and oftentimes, it's quite loud. And I know that it's because my husband, Jerry, has done his very best to make me know I'm safe, and has worked hard for 23 years to love me despite the pain I'm in. He knows more about it than anyone on earth, with the exception of the SOB that abused me for years.

And a dear lady whom I entrusted to review and edit a certain chapter dealing with the goings-on in an ER room. (Thank you, Kim, for preventing the death of a protagonist).

It used to be that I would have nightmares. I wouldn't remember them. My husband would try to wake me, I would just cry inconsolably but I wouldn't fully wake up. It got to the point where he would just hold me while I rode through it.

Then, I remembered things, sometimes fragmented. Sometimes complete memories. They'd play in my mind like a horror movie, over and over again.  I wrote them down for him.  Pages and pages of stuff.  He has them put away somewhere.

10 months ago approximately, I  decided enough was enough. I would tell my story, albeit in the third person-as a fictional character. Thank you, Jonas, for the mentoring. The words came easier.

Now, approximately 10 months later, the first half of my work is finished. There's a great deal of personal experience that has gone into this, along with research (because, although I remember some of what was happening, I did not know the correct terminology to describe everything).

Tonight.  Tonight, I left my comfort zone and pitched the novel.  And it scares the living daylights out of me.  And it thrills me beyond all reason.

I'm aware that no one may ever read my novel. It may not be well-received. Some might even say that the work is crap.

Part of me would be crushed. The other part couldn't care less.

It's helped me so much to write this. Maybe it will help someone else to read it.

Because of this I have to try, regardless of why.