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Blue Northers and a Texas Perspective

Blue Northers and a Texas Perspective

Texas is huge, as you know. We have several climate regions. We have blizzards in the panhandle and snow in various places. However, we do not have much of a winter in San Antonio.

I have, in various books, described San Antonio as the belly of Texas. It might even be considered the nether region. We’re protected from violent weather that hits the coast by being inland. We aren’t in Tornado Alley. We have all the best weather, never mind that it gets to be 100 degrees in the summer. Several areas in the country that freeze in the winter also get summer scorchers.

This year we had 50 degree weather in October. I pulled out the sweaters – which is really no big deal. I simply walked to another section of the closet. 🙂 I’ve been wearing this bright red chenille sweater every week. Every time I wear it I have to take a crochet hook and pull all the loose yarn to the inside. I think it’s cuddling with Stanley that does it. When the chenille sweater is in the laundry I wear another sweater, leg warmers, and sometimes fingerless gloves. I HATE being cold and I’m cold whenever it’s below 60. I am a wuss.

This morning I was awakened at 4:30 by the most gawdawful sound. I’m a heavy sleeper – once I fall asleep – so I had a dual alarm installed in my house. Both alarms were going off. I woke in that sleep disorientation. What the hell is that sound? Is it the TV? What’s going on? Thankfully, I grasped the situation pretty quickly and answered the call from the alarm company.

“Do you need me to call the police?”

“No, I just need you to hold on while I turn off the alarm.”

I actually made it to the keypad without my glasses, managed to turn it off, and read the display. It said my front door was open. I cautiously opened my bedroom door, walked to the end of the hall and peered into the living room. No, it wasn’t open. With the alarm person on the phone with me I made it to the front door – still without glasses, which is a miracle in itself. I pushed against the door. It was okay. I opened the door. The security screen was okay.

That’s when I was informed that the cold and the wind could set off the sensors. I kinda/sorta doubted the nice lady on the phone because it’s been colder than what it was this morning and nothing happened. I went back to the bedroom, got Stanley (who was having a cow at this point) and took him outside. There on the patio were several shingles. Okay, then, it’s time for a roof inspection.

This week a blue norther is supposed to hit the northern part of the US. I commiserate with those of you in the path of it. Although I’ve lived in Canada, Syracuse, and Chicago I froze in all three places and that was just during normal winters.

Sending warm fuzzies to all of you in the path of this storm. Hunker down, heat up. And good luck with your burglar alarms and your roofs.

The Strangeness of Me

The Strangeness of Me

I am sitting here on a Monday morning staring at my messy desk. Sunday was the epitome of lazy. I finished my personal taxes and sent everything off to my CPA, who’s currently working on my LLC taxes. Other than that, I didn’t do diddly squat. Nothing. Nada. I couldn’t even be bothered to make a list of everything I had to do. Stanley and I napped and played, napped and watched TV, then napped again.

I felt like a slug.

But back to this morning. I looked at the To Love a Duchess audio CD set (my copy) and finally opened it. I’d never opened a set before. There they were, all those CDs read by an actor.

I have to confess that audio CDs drive me batty. I don’t like the actors changing voices and pretending to be different characters. I’d rather hear a computer read a book to me. When it’s MY book it’s even weirder. It doesn’t sound at all like I heard it in my head. I’m not only disoriented. I’m disturbed. Go figure.

I sat here imagining the actor reading my book. He had to become as familiar with my work as I am. It’s one thing to line edit. Or to be a proof editor. You’re looking at the words arranged in a sentence. Or the story cohesion. But reading it aloud, putting emphasis on each character makes you, well, intimate with the work.

It was the oddest sensation just holding those CDs and knowing that this actor and I had a weird and tenuous bond.

I won’t listen to his rendition of my book. As I said audio CDs drive me batty. I don’t want to know how he sounds as the hero. Or what kind of voice he uses for the heroine. Nope.

I couldn’t help but wonder, however, as he’s reading, if he has any particular thoughts of his own. Things like: crap, if I’d only studied engineering I wouldn’t have to read romance novels for a living. 🙂



Oh My and Other Oaths

Oh My and Other Oaths

I’ve been doing some food research lately.

Segue here: I’ve told you often that I’m a lousy cook. Well, y’all, I happened to see a little of America’s Worst Cooks the other day. I know my way around a kitchen, having attended the Cordon Bleu school with my mother when we lived in Paris. However, I’m bored by most stuff so I don’t pay a lot of attention to it (I’d rather be writing). Bottom line, compared to those people I’m Julia Childs.

Since I can’t eat onions and garlic or anything citrusy, I decided to go on a search of spices. Was there anything that could substitute for these (and not add to my acid reflux)?

I found a few that I’d never heard of before my research.

The first one is Asafoetida.

I read something that warned people about the spice. One of the root words is fetid, as in having an offensive odor. I made the very bad mistake of opening the jar of Asafoetida and sniffing deeply. Holy Batman! (Okay, that’s not exactly what I said, hence the title of this post.) That stuff is powerful. It smelled like onion and garlic to me. To my son it smelled like diseased old socks. To a friend it smelled like something dead. But when you cook with it, it tastes just like onions and garlic. Success!

The second spice was Sumac.

I’d heard about Sumac before, but this isn’t the plant that causes you to itch (although they are related). This is a really pretty red spice that adds a faint lemony taste to food. It’s very faint, but at least it works in some dishes.

 The third find was Yacon Syrup.

Yacon Syrup is extracted from the roots of a plant that grows in the Andes. It’s naturally sweet and is high in fiber. It’s supposedly better for people because it doesn’t raise blood sugar. However, it does have some deleterious effects if you consume more than two teaspoons per day. I haven’t received my order yet, but I’ll be sure and let you know what I find. (I don’t consume sugar and I am avoiding sweeteners, so this might work. Or not.) 

How about you? Have you encountered any weird and unusual spices lately?


When Histories Collide

When Histories Collide

I was reading a blog this morning and one thing led to another – as it often does. I was soon on a research page reading about the Holodomor.

If you’re like me, you’re going what? What’s the Holodomor?

The word means to kill by starvation. Holodomor was a famine that killed between 7 – 12 million people in the Ukraine region of what was then Soviet Russia.

The famine could have been brought about because of incompetent bureaucracy: at the time Ukranian farmers were forced to abandon their farms or give them back to a collective that would manage all the farms. The farmers would then be paid wages. Unfortunately, for all those millions of people, the collective was so badly managed that only half of the expected crop was harvested. Some people believe that the famine was deliberately orchestrated to crush any hint of Ukranian independence.

I knew about the horrors of World War II and how, during the siege of Leningrad, a million people starved. Nazi Germany also had something called a “Hunger Plan” by which people would be starved into submission. All in all, between the Germans and the Japanese, 20 million people starved during World War II.

But the Holodomor occurred during 1932-1933, a decade before the war.

My first husband’s family was Ukranian. Very proudly Ukranian. My mother-in-law only spoke Ukranian. All her children spoke it as well.

They would freeze you out in a millisecond if you ever called them Russian. At the time I thought it was a pride of place thing. Sort of like me saying, “Hey, I’m a Texan. I’m not from New Mexico.” 

Uh, no.  

Today the Ukraine is a sovereign state, but the discord between them and Russia continues. Memories are long. Twelve million souls long.

 (If you’re wondering why this post appeared then disappeared, it’s user error. I had edited the post, but when I published it, the previous version appeared. I’m still learning this new theme and all its wonkiness.)


Betty White – 97

Betty White – 97

Betty White recently turned 97. Isn’t that amazing? She’s been working in the entertainment industry for 75 years.

When asked what her secret to a long life was simple:

A positive outlook.



I think she’s an absolute jewel.

I can’t do the hotdogs or the vodka, but I try to remain positive.

(I’m trying to find the right CSS code for images and it’s driving me slightly bonkers. I apologize for the weird large images you’ll see before I get it fixed.)