Looking for the Green

No, this isn’t a post about St. Patrick’s Day, although that is just passed and I did wear my only green sweater all day long. This post is to express a longing for the green of Spring, especially now since I no longer live in Seattle, also known as the Emerald City.

Seattle is green all year round.  Not the ripe, plump green of tropical places, and not with summer-like temps and wind flows.  The winter green in Seattle is a bit subdued and often soggy, but it never completely goes away.  In a particularly mild winter, you can even see some flowers here and there.

Spring springs into action with a vengeance in Seattle, while in the Midwest it takes slow, plodding steps, slogging through mud, pecking listlessly at dirty heaps of snow along the side of the road.  There might be more sunshine here than in the traditionally precipitous Seattle, but right now it shines on sloppy lawns and bare, wind-weathered branches. And all we can do is wait until shy Spring trusts the weather enough to show us her full beauty.

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My Short Stories Highlighted on Commas and Quotations

A few weeks ago, Commas and Quotations featured my novel Chasing Nightmares by posting links and the first chapter on their website.  This week, they’ve done the same with my book of short stories, Weathering the Storms.  Here’s the excerpt they posted which is from the story The Nest.

Weathering the StormsIt had been a long, dry summer. Rocks kicked up around my tires as I pulled up to the house—Jim’s house, now, not mine anymore.

David was sitting on the cement steps of the back porch, watching the toes of his sneakers kick patterns in the gravel.

I stepped out of the car and called, “Come on, let’s go. I’ve got supper started.”

He looked up but he didn’t smile. His father was nowhere to be seen, but I was sure he was close by, listening.

David kept his eyes down as he shuffled to the car. His grubby tennis shoes scuffed up small clouds of dust. The sunlight haloed his bent head. His sandy brown hair laid soft and thick around his face.

I glanced once toward the tightly draped windows of the house. Was it my imagination, or did that crack in the kitchen curtain twitch a little wider? I sat in the car to wait. The back of my neck tingled.

David opened the car door and pretended to examine the latch mechanism. Finally, with an elaborate shrug, he got in and slammed the door. Inwardly, I sighed. Every weekend this summer had gotten worse. One day, I was afraid, he would refuse to come at all.

“Put your seatbelt on,” I said.

He ignored me, leaning his elbow on the window as he gazed across the yard.

We’d been through this one last time.

“Look,” I said, “I’m tired of this. I shouldn’t have to explain to an eleven-year-old. You can put your seat belt on and be safe, or you can take a chance on getting killed in an accident. Your choice.”

I backed onto the county road. By the time I shifted into forward gear, David was reaching for the safety belt.

“The way you drive, I guess I better,” he muttered. He avoided my eyes.

We drove the seven country miles in silence. As we turned into my driveway, a swallow flew out from under the eaves of the front porch and dive-bombed the car. I laughed as I stopped in front of the garage.

“Remember that nest the swallows built?” I asked. “Wait till you see. The baby birds are hatched now. You should hear how noisy they are when the front door is open.”

“So?”

I sighed and watched as David walked to the house, head down, shoes scraping the sidewalk.

At supper, David picked at his green beans, just eating the seeds from the inside like he used to when he was little. He ignored the potatoes. The limp slices grew a thin coat of cold grease.

“What’s for dessert?” he asked, still not looking up.

“You know the rule.” I pointed to his plate. “No dessert unless you finish the meal.”

He pushed the plate abruptly across the table, knocking over a salt shaker and empty plastic glass.

“That’s stupid,” he said. “You have stupid rules in this house.”

“It’s the same rule we had when we lived at Dad’s. Now if you’re done eating, clear your place at the table.”

“Why do I always have to do what you tell me to?” His voice was high pitched and uneven. His face had grown flushed. Our eyes made contact for a split second but he broke away.

“Because I’m your mother.”

“No, you’re not. You divorced Dad.”

“I used to be your mother, until you started spending the summer at your Dad’s. What’s so different about now?”

“Now I know what you’re really like. I’m not brainwashed anymore.”

This book is only available as a Kindle download from amazon.com.

Wedding Planning

Great news recently! My oldest son proposed and she accepted! They are doing all the planning, of course, but ever since I’ve heard the news, these are the kinds of articles that catch my eye. Aren’t weddings wonderful?

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Dinner of Herbs

We have a date set.  We have the church.  We have the reception location.

So what else have I been doing to throw together a quick, super-low-budget wedding?

Well, since this is a food blog, let’s start with the cake.  I am going to make our own wedding cake.  It won’t be a 5348-layer cake with pedestals and pillars; however, I knew that wedding cake needs special qualities.

1) The cake needs to be denser and less crumbly than normal to retain it’s shape and serve as a steady foundation for upper layers.

2) The cake should have less leavening to prevent the top from rising into a rounded dome shape, so that more layers can be stacked more easily, and so that you get a more elegant, crisp, straight edges.

I tried a white almond cake recipe and a lemon cake recipe.  Both would work, but I preferred the…

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This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes…

How many recipe books do you know that also include directions for how to wash your clothes? Well, the Young Housekeeper’s Friend does that, and even tells you how to make your own washtub:

Noe_washing_toolsA large painted wash tub is expensive, and it may be convenient for some persons to know that a very good rinsing tub can be made of a flour barrel. Take one that is clean and well made; have the upper part sawed off about nine inches. See that there are no nails sticking through. Make three holes large enough to admit the fingers, in two opposite staves, to serve for handles. If there are cracks, caulk them, and fill the tub with water.The water will soon swell the staves so as to close the cracks;  and when it has once done leaking,keep it always turned down in the cellar when not in use.