Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Cold--TCE prompt

I literally just finished typing this and frankly, I am done for, so this is getting posted as-is. I shall make my edits and second draft tomorrow, and fix this haphazard entry. Until then, toodles everybody. Goodnight!

Still Untitled
The night air was cold with ice when he opened the door. Soon it would snow again, and he’d be stuck, again, in this god forsaken sod house on the edge of a northern praire, miles from neighbors and even further from civilization.  The sky to the south and the west was clear, stars—innumerably stars—stretching all the way to the horizon and seemingly below; their shine made the winter wheat and further, the shorn rows of the corn fields, sparkle with a glaring, cold silver. The sky above and behind him though was low, a softer black, puffy, crowding the hill into which the house was cut. Snow, or snow and ice. Grant looked at the woman on the other side of his sunken doorsill.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in,” she said. She did the thing where she held her tongue against her teeth and jutted out her chin like she was trying to look snotty and sophisticated. It made him hate the sight of her, and want to tell her “No.” But she must have worked very hard to find him, house sitting out here in the middle of nowhere. Still, he couldn’t just say “Oh yes, please do come in,” as if she weren’t the biggest bitch he’d ever met, as if part of the reason he was here wasn’t to get away from her, as if she…
Grant cleared his throat.  Sassa swept into the house, thick wool trench taking up most of the floor space before the hearth. He shut the door behind her. The cold flowed from Sassa in waves.
“What do you want?”
“I tried your cell.  I tried Mike’s.  I even called your mother. At least she knew what state you were in. First time in her whole life she’s held any information of value.
“What do you want, Sassa?”

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mushoom Sauce with Sangria and Cream

Yay, recipe time! Today I whipped up an insanely good mushroom sauce--I poured it over brown rice but it should go well with pretty much anything except fish, as long as this sauce carries the bulk of the packs quite a punch!

If you like mushrooms (I'm a fanatic! Fanatic! Fanatic!) you simply must try a version of this for yourself. The flavors are bright and earthy, just like summertime food should be, but the cream lends it this homey weight like something you should only get at Christmas. Ooooh, yeaaahh. lol. I tend to get very excited about new concoctions.

On a side note, this was fly-by-night as I was trying to clean out some random stuff in the fridge; all "measurements" are only the vaguest of approximations. Hopefully you'll get the idea...

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Prep time: 5 min.

Cook time: 30 min., approximately

1/4 cup H20
4 tbs butter
splash lime juice
1 tbsp ham stock/some other gelatinous meat base
coriander & rose flavored salt
1/6 cup chopped green onions
1/3 container sliced mushrooms (a handfull or so)
2 tbsp heavy cream
pinch of corn starch
3/4 tbsp sangria

Bring H20, 2 tbsp butter, lime juice and a pinch of flavored salt to a boil in small sauce pan. Toss in mushrooms, lid, and simmer/boil for a few minutes. Unlid, pour off the liquid for later. Add in heavy cream, corn starch, 1 tbsp butter, and pinch of salt. Melt, bring to simmer, stirring almost continuously. Toss in green onions. Continue simmering and stirring. Add in ham stock, last bit of butter. Continue simmering and stirring. When mixture begins to stick to pan, add in the poured off liquid. Continue simmering and stirring until mixture begins to stick again, then deglaze with a splash of sangria. Continue simmering and stirring. Deglaze 3 or so more times with splashes of sangria, according to taste, and cook on a very low simmer, stirring constantly until the sauce is a texture just shy of gravy.

((The stirring is important because the best parts of the flavor will stick to the pan and you want them to remain part of the sauce.))

Serve immediately. Pour over meat, veggies or rice. Yum!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

TCE Ninnies

First things first: I hate it!

It's so far from what I was planning I want to stomp my foot on it. Alas, that would mean either 1.) stomping my laptop or 2.) stomping my jump drive, neither of which do I want to do. Anyway, it wandered so far from its original intent that I pretty much just stoppped writing on it, rather than try and corral it back to having anything to remotely do with the prompt, my original plot, or my theme. Whatever. Frustrating.

The TCE prompt had to do with hangliding.

The light that spilled above the window sill to Susan’s room was calm, a gray and pink sort of light. Good enough for waking up, she supposed, if absolutely required.  She also supposed it was not truly her room; apparently it remained her husband’s room, though he never seemed to be at his house, his home. Not that she could actually seek divorce; her lawyer had warned against that. Instead, no, she was here. Atop a tangle of white bed sheets, looking through the white window sill of their white house in their white neighborhood where nobody had any problems at all. One of the babies screamed somewhere within the house.
Today was Susan’s week for the playgroup mothers. She swung her feet to the carpet. Despite it all, if she were pressed during an interview she had to admit always loving this old house; her home.  It was thoroughly Dutch colonial in its layout, materials, feel; thoroughly her grandmother’s river cottage, should her dead grandmother ever chose to be reborn and build a giant monstrosity of a house in the middle of a terrible stinking city. But it was lovely and white and quiet with dozens of wood-floored rooms and a gentle sloping ceiling hidden among the elm trees, and a good near half to the reason she married her husband. Though that was long enough ago now to cease to matter.
“Why don’t you just pretend it’s flying,” Greg had asked.  The sun had been in her eyes, so she’d closed them, standing at the edge of the rock cliff over the water, a quick so-called getaway three days before their wedding—really it was to tell him she was pregnant. She’d hoped to trap him by an “accidental” pregnancy to make sure he wouldn’t back out of the marriage, but then she read the prenup. “Nothing like it,” he’d said. “It’s just like hangliding, it won’t be that bad. Have you ever been? Of course you haven’t; I’ll take you this weekend. First day of our honeymoon.” She’d turned her face towards him then, but hadn’t opened her eyes so all she would feel was the sun, the July sun, baking her thin eyelids.  That was the morning she’d taken the test, but tests could lie. The sun didn’t lie. She was to marry Greg at the end of the summer, but they’d hurried things a month sooner so she could wed when “the church had an opening”; before she began to show. “I’ll take you tomorrow,” he said again, and then she grabbed his hand and yanked him horizontally in to the air, praying that if one of them were to dash their head upon the rocky cliff bottom, it would be him. The baby wouldn’t have had a head yet.
But the both surfaced, and she married, and she bore his child and many more, and before long he disappeared behind airplanes and androids and affected sighs. All by her own doing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday Faves

Perhaps this is a no-brainer, but this week's Friday Favorite nomination is....*drumroll please*....character- driven stories.

I know what you all are thinking: Wahh, whahh.

I saw "Whatevs" to that wahh wahh.

Yes, I am just as big of a Harry Potter fan as the next. Yet--and please understand I'm not meaning to pick on HP, but it's a truly recognizable series--Harry Potter has woefully one-dimensional charaters; the whole series is driven by plot. Yes, the plot supports the thesis, and yes, the thesis is a classic one which deserves props, but still, any character-driven novel will stand above it, after the trials of time have faced it.

Characters are what make us want to know a story's ending. In ages past, our ancestors, no matter who they were or in what land they resided, sang us the histories of our forefathers in the stories of our tribes. Now I'm not about to get all hokey-pokey on you here, but the reason those stories, even the habit of telling stories, has survived is because the people within them were considered worth  remembering. This is how we came to have our heroes, our leaders, our  brethren, our songs and poems and histories.

Anywhosers, I thought I'd take a second to list some of my favorite character-driven novels, no matter how disputed. What are yours? Beware, I am particularly attached to the following books; disagree with my choices at your peril, for I shall defend them with my log off...

(in no particular order)

Song of the Lark
Tale of Two Cities (hated first chapters. Now read it at LEAST two times every year....what can I's wonderful and terrible and you have to read it)
Dharma Bums
Gone With the Wind
Anna Karennina (even though I still feel like I'm missing parts. Do I just not get certain aspects of Russian culture? Possibly? Probably...)
Pride and Prejudice
Heart of Darkness (hated it the first two reads; in love with it ever since)
Bananna Rose (hated it the first few chapters, loved it ever since)

I realize that these may be more or less character-driven to other readers than they are to me, but therein lies the beauty: These are all beautiful works, no matter how you look at them, because the people within them are so awesomely real. My opinion is that they are all mostly character driven.  In TOTC, GWTW, and even Anna K. and HOD, the main characters face things which propell them to act as they could only hope they would never have to ever act. In SOTL, Dharma, P&P and Bananna, the characters in large part face themselves, and the showdown is more than enough to move the storyline along to resolution. *sigh* My list of favorites is really much longer than this, but these were the first which sprung to mind (sprang? I should look that up) when I thought of this Friday's Fave.

By the way, I have never, ever, ever made it through The Catcher in the Rye. I took English classes specifically that went around that required reading because I could not STAND that m.c. Now I realize how good of a sign that is; I'm sure it is a fantastic read, as fantastic as everyone says it is. But do I care? Shall I ever read it? HELL NO! I may be an awful person for admitting this, especially for my field, but I do not now, nor have I ever, nor shall I ever have any intention of reading that novel. If I want to divulge in that kind of wonky, my-life-sucks kind of attitude, I'll call up an ex-boyfriend.

But I digress.

I'm a firm believer our stories, at large, tell our habits; that we find ourselves in our little tidbits of literature if we are willing to look hard enough. In what sort of story do I fit, or you? The kind that is character driven?

Let's hope so. Kinky clinky for those who want to star in their own novel...

p.s. TCE 2/3 of the way complete; I expect it to be up tomorrow some time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday Teaser

Today's (err--tonight's) Tuesday Teaser is from one of the Anita Blake books. Vampires, cheesy sex, metaphysical woopsies and the like; you know, all that jazz. This snippet is from Blood Noir, and is classic Anita. Must say though, I found this book to be one of the weaker ones of the series. Here you are:

"Frankly, all grenades scared me, but something that burned even in water would be truly bad news to the
undead of any kind. It would even work on zombies and ghouls, which are both so much harder to kill than vamps." Laurell K. Hamilton

Monday, July 11, 2011

TCE Catch Up 2

Here's my really really really unfinished story for the TCE gasoline prompt. Haven't even gotten to the gasoline part yet...ho hum.


It all began with a rock.
When Cyrus was four, he and his two best friends broke into their babysitter’s husband’s rifle cabinet with a rock wrapped in a hankie. Cyrus stood lookout while the other two faced off the cabinet the way people did when playing chicken out in the creek, and when all was clear, the rock sailed through the frosted glass window panes.  They’d done already stolen some ammunition to go with it. Twenty minutes later, Cyrus had blasted a whole right through the hallway and into the master bedroom with the shiny Winchester. Of course he got in loads of trouble; couldn’t sit right for weeks. But he learned something very important about himself.
Turns out, he was pretty good at destroying things.

By the time he was eleven, Cyrus, who was a sweet-faced boy with shiny hair, had built quite a reputation for himself. He smoked his uncle’s cigarettes during recess and after school, while his uncle worked graveyard at the factory, sneaked whiskeys from his neighbor’s. She drank so much she never noticed.  That year he was bit in the chest, right over the heart, by a brown recluse while he lay sleeping.
The spider died, and Cyrus lived.
Still, the three-week long fight for life had caused some to grow less craven towards him. Bully, they called him. Heartless freak, they called him. Of course, “they” were a very few, after he took the Wayland boy out back of the school with a leash and his heavy boots. Cyrus had knocked him down, strapped him to the bottom of the playground fence with his belt, then put one boot on the belt and the other to the boy until he was stomped senseless. 

TCE Catch Up 1

Well, hell. *sigh* Haven't finished the last two TCE stories, but I'm afraid if I don't post 'em I'll never get around to finishing either of here's the beginning of my story for TCE prompt 26, which concerns the dangers of macadamia nut cookies. Only I haven't gotten that far along yet--perhaps you'll be able to see where I was going with it. More likely, not. LOL.

Here it is:


This Sunday, Pastor Brim, now growing gaunt around the edges, woke earlier than usual. The lines in the space between his eyebrows had deepened during his sleep.  A soft-spoken man outside of preaching,  when the Holy Spirit came upon him during his sermons  his voice boomed and thundered around the sanctuary like something he’d heard as a boy listening to horse races on the radio. His real name was Peter Brown, but everybody had called him Brim for so long he sometimes forgot to think of himself as any other way. The name came from the fire of the Holy Spirit that flew into him whenever he got to preaching, and it was wonderful and a bit frightening, and full of the fire and brimstone his congregation had come to know and respect and love.
The church in which he spoke the word of God was a humble brick building and sensible, but the sanctuary had vaulted, arching ceilings made of good pine with a high ridge right down the center so that when his congregation looked up, the effect was of looking into the bottom of a vast ark tipped upside down on everybody as they sang and prayed. The decorations were few; flowers for special occasions and the alter candles. Two rows of twenty pews flanked the alter, also made of good local pine, and the carpet, though a low one, was soft and sturdy. 
He knew as he rose that morning that the spiritual lives of his congregation were at stake, for he could feel the Devil himself walking the earth, and had been stalking Pastor Brim for weeks. He could see his shade hanging outside the brightest window, following the noblest souls, even amongst them in their good and godly community. Every shadow under every tree, every ungrateful scoul on the faces of men and women, every horror and every sin--the Devil. So he scrapped the sermon he’d planned on doing and done wrote up another, woe-filled, terrifying new one and knew that today, more than any other day, he would have a chance to turn back the tide of sin and non-belief, and save his fellow brothers and sisters from the temptation of evil in its most purest form.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday Faves

Don't get me wrong; I love summer. I can sunbathe all day better than anyone, even a turtle, especially if there's some water around for swimming. There's warm suntea on back porches, and fantastic veggies in the garden, pretty cotton dresses, barbeques--all that, yes. No denying it.

But really, you know, I would not mind some snow right now.

Because snow is one of my favorite things. In. The. World.

I think I must have more northern blood in me than most of my family, since I'm the only one who really seems to enjoy ice storms and blizzards and staying outside so long my eyebrows get crusty, my cheeks pink and my lungs full and cold. Igloos and forts and snowball fights when I was a kid. Or going for a long [slow] night drive out in the prairies after an ice storm just to see the hills glitter like a still silver sea for miles in every direction under a low black sky thick with heavy snow clouds; when the wind blows across it the sound is a sharp thing that whistles. (Lot's of adjectives there, I know.) Everything becomes quiet. Everything takes a long dark rest.  Mmmm, hmm, I love snow. 

It's more psychological, snow, than the other elements I think. Snow and ice, I should say. I once was snowed in at a bar. How wonderful that was *laugh*. I worked there, and there were maybe five of us, I believe. We watched football all night, drinking hot toddies, waiting for the boss to call. Wasn't like we could go anywhere; the snow was too thick. When it rains--even when it rains hard, it's not as if you stay in. You go out, you get wet, you eventually dry. Same with when it's brutally hot--you go out, you sweat, you find an a.c. or water or somewhere good to swim, and you cool off. But snow and ice? Maybe you go out if it's in small proportions, but if it's a mean snow or a steady ice, you stay the eff put until it's safe, and that's that, or you can die. You rearrange your life for it. Makes me like it more, lol.

As it's July though, I fear I have a long way to go. It will get much hotter before it gets cooler, that's for sure. And I'm one of those women who fans herself and gets grumpy at 75 degrees unless I have a nice cold beer in my hand. Ahh, well.

Anyway, I'm going to try and find a picture from this winter's big blizzard and add it to this post.

Mmmm, snow. Say it with me: Snow....

Friday, July 8, 2011

JUNOWRIMO 5--The Coming Cold

For anyone interested, see Chapter 1 here, Chapter Two here, Three here, and Four, here.

Happy reading!

A Tale of Unlikely Magic and Wonderful Adventures
Chapter 5: The Coming Cold

Every awake head in Pete’s living room swung toward Rahhh.

“I’ve lived at the edges of Promethia my entire life,” she growled in explanation. “My family…time beyond time, all of them, have lived away from the hustle and bustle of the humans, so we might hunt in peace. I grew from a pup to a lupa on the stories of the countryside, stories of the dangers of the humans and their magic; the night stories of my species. But one — one — would brought fear into the coldest of the wolves, and it is a tale to which my own ancestors bore witness.” Rahhh paused, licked her lips nervously with her long red tongue, eyes darting around the room as if in fear of being heard. When she spoke again, her voice was but barely a whisper. This is quite hard to do as a wolf. Don't believe me? Try and hear a regular dog whisper. Then imagine how much less likely it is for a wolf.

“When my grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother was but a pup, the pack lived far north, where the winter nights were long and the moon shined clear and large, and the prey were many and fat. One year, the snows came early, and the ice pack lasted late into the summer. Many voices in the pack were lost that unnatural winter. When finally the cold broke and the freeze melted so the hunt could begin again, they found the world around them had changed.”

“Wait, I remember that,” Steve said, running a hand over his sleek ninja topknot of hair. Ninjas don’t like to look messy. You understand. “I nearly died that year on the mountain.”

“Yes,” Rahhh agreed. “That alone would be worthy of stories, that winter. But when the winter broke, the pack found itself amidst a sea. But it was not the sea of ice and water and seal. They were among a sea of chained, hateful human souls.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back from the Sticks and the Hicks

Just got back late this afternoon from a family-visitin' trip down south. Weeeoooow. Tired. *laugh* That aside, it was a lot of fun. My newest cousin is just two, and she experienced her first fireworks this week. Two words: EPIC FAIL. She took one look at the...what's the term in firework jargon...intro round, I guess, of fireworks and her eyes got really round, and then her bottom lip jutted out, and her eyebrows started quivering on her forehead. Next thing you know, her whole body was shaking and she was sobbing. Maybe next year.

No, I don't get all peaches-and-cream over every unit of my extended family, but these people a great, kind, generous, warm, fun, etc., etc., etc., and I had such a wonderful time. The trip isn't bad at all; less than ten hours. Still the same geographical region even. But whoa, you want to talk about hick! *laughing/shaking head* Not that there's anything wrong with that. I done grew up thinking I comed from a purty hillbilly area. (ha.) You can probably tell by the words/names I use in my stories, if you read them.  But one less-than-ten-hour drive can totally prove that notion wrong. Wowsers.

The accent, for one. Mine can get "thick" from time to time, but ho-ly! Their accent is both so quick and so slow that its almost infuriating if you talk to a native who doesn't realize you aren't a native. The words themselves are spoken quickly but the vaaay---ooooww---eeell (vowel) saaayyyy---ooooooowwwww---nds (sounds) take forever and a day! Plus we were deep in the Bible Belt. For those of you outside the US, that means you just add in a Hallelujah and an Amen after every third sentence and pray over every lost french fry. Oh yeah, and we were in a dry county. *shudder* Which means even more people drank somewhere else and then drove home during the holiday than where I live. What an awful thought! But the local economy is almost booming there in comparison to most other places in this part of the country; it absolutely stunned me.

What else...hmm...GREAT food (yum yum, a big thank you to Lisa and Cindy!), great company, lots of hiking and playing and whatnot. A family member there has been deathly ill and in and out of the hospital for months; he was released just in time to enjoy the holiday with everyone and a good cup of joe with me, which is stellar. And there were snow cones (my new favie is blue raspberry, lime and coconut all in one). Yup, a good trip. What's better is that some of them will be coming up for a visit later this month! Hooray!

Anyway, it gave me time to amp up my creative juices a bit since lately I've been slacking. I've got what I hope could be a great TCE story in the mix right now BUT it's already late and it's not finished. errr.... And now I'm off to go do that.