Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

#Interview With Claire Buss!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Claire Buss is here with us, today. Claire, will you tell us a little about yourself and how many books you've written?

Claire: Hi, I'm Claire Buss - wife, mother, writer and cake addict. Since I published my first book in 2016 I've written six books, 4 poetry books, had two short stories published in anthologies and co-edited a Christmas anthology which includes a co-written short story. The Gaia Collection: Book 1 - The Gaia Effect, Book 2 - The Gaia Project, Book 3 - rough draft written in NaNoWriMo 2018; Short Story Collections: Tales from Suburbia, Tales from the Seaside, The Blue Serpent and Other Tales; Roshaven Books: The Rose Thief; Poetry: Little Book of Verse, Spring Fling, Summer Dreaming, Spooky Little Book; Underground Scratchings in Tales from the Underground; an Inklings Press Anthology, Patient Data in The Quantum Soul; a Sci-Fi Roundtable Anthology, A Badger Christmas Carol in The Sparkly Badgers' Christmas Anthology (also co-edited).

Me: Wow! Busy lady! What's the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

Claire: My latest book is The Gaia Project, the second book in my hopeful dystopia series, The Gaia Collection. Here's the blurb: While Martha Hamble gets to grips with being Governor of City 42, Kira and Jed Jenkins travel to City 15 but they are not prepared for what they find. Corporation are tightening their grip on those who don't conform, threatening to split families and reassign the natural born children. With Gaia weakened, the group of friends must try to find a safe place to live and help the spirit of the Earth recover but everything stands against them. Will Corporation succeed in their tougher regime or can Kira and her friends find a new home?

Me: Sounds interesting! What are you working on now?

Claire: I am currently working on another book set in The Rose Thief world called The Interspecies Poker Tournament. It was originally a novella but has changed its mind and now wants to be a novel so I've still got quite a lot of writing ahead of me.

Me: Isn't it fun when a book takes on a life of its own? ;-) What authors, or books, have influenced you?

Claire: I read voraciously as a child across all genres and I do try to keep up that variety. My go-to genre is sci-fi and fantasy and I love Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, Greg Bear, Robin Hobb, Robert Jordan and more lately Ben Aaronovitch, VE Schwabb, Rachel Caine and Becky Chambers.

Me: Some of my favorite authors on that list! What are you reading now?

Claire: Half the World by Joe Abercrombie, Ghosts of the Sea Moon by AF Stewart, Leaps of Faith by AM Leibowitz

Me: Nice! For those who might consider reading your book, what would you tell them to expect?

Claire: In the Gaia books they can expect a setting 200 years in our future, a group of friends trying to save their families and find a safe place to live whilst an evil Corporation is bent on controlling every aspect of their lives. In The Rose Thief readers can learn how Ned Spinks, Chief Thief Catcher, and his sidekick Jenni the sprite catch the elusive rose thief. Think Terry Pratchett meets Douglas Adams. My collection of short stories take a satirical look at life in the suburbs, at the seaside, with small children in tow and humorous observations of life.

Me: Sounds like you've got quite a bit of diversity in your work. :-) What's your favorite part of being an author?

Claire: Seeing my name in print! But also being able to work with words all day long creating my stories and then getting a message from a reader who has enjoyed reading them.

Me: That is quite a rush, I agree. Do you have a day job as well?

Claire: I am a stay at home mum to Leo (5) and Anabelle (1) and housewife to my long-suffering hubby Kevin - he has to read my first drafts and eat a lot of cake lol.

Me: Ha! It sounds like your husband gets a lot of perks. ;-) What would you say are the hardest and easiest parts about being a writer?

Claire: I think the hardest are looking critically at your own work. Sometimes when you pour your heart and soul into something you don't want to admit that actually, it needs a very good polish before it is ready to be published. Keeping myself motivated can be a challenge as well but I find cake works well. The easiest parts are... I was going to say writing the books in the first place but I don't think it's fair to say that it's an easy process. It's an all-consuming, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, stressful, painful, joyful, wondrous, uplifting and devastating process. But when the muse is with me and the words are flowing, then it feels like the easiest thing in the world. Until I have to come and edit.

Me: I think most authors would agree with you there. What genre do you place your book in?

Claire: I write a variety of genres. The Gaia Effect and The Gaia Project are the first two books in my hopeful dystopian series. The Rose Thief is a humorous fantasy. Tales from Suburbia and Tales from the Seaside are my collection of satirical short stories.

Me: Cool! Is there anything else you'd like to tell your readers?

Claire: Thank you so much for choosing my books, I really hope you enjoy reading them. Do get in touch with any comments or questions and please, please leave a review. I love talking about books so feel free to get in touch and suggest any reading recommendations. All my books are available on Amazon in both paperback and eBook.

Me: And so these fine folks can find those books, are there any links you'd like me to post?

Facebook: www.facebook.com/busswriter
FB Group: www.facebook.com/groups/BussBookStop
Twitter: www.twitter.com/grasshopper2407
Website: www.cbvisions.weebly.com
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Claire-Buss/e/B01MSZY649/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16197976.Claire_Buss
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/grasshopper2407/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWrKBeiBMQg_subFM9ot2vw
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-buss-329757134/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ClaireBuss2407

Me: Awesome! Thank you so much for stopping by today, Claire. And thank you also to the rest of you who joined us. Don't forget to check back tomorrow for the latest in Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)

Monday, April 29, 2019

Something Worth Watching?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. This one is an ad that illustrates just one more reason why it has got to be Bernie in 2020. Peace!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

#Crockpot Potato #Soup #Recipe!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back with another lazy cook's dream recipe today. A warning up front, this is not at all a low-fat, low-salt, or otherwise "healthy" recipe. But it's perfect for one of those occasional chilly Spring evenings when you want something warm, stick-to-your-ribs, and indulgent. Enjoy! :-)

1 bag frozen hash-brown potatoes (the cubes not the shreds)
2 packages dried onion soup mix
4 cups vegetable stock
1 16oz can of corn
1 12oz package sliced button mushrooms (or 1 16oz can of mushrooms)
1 finely chopped onion (any color)
1 16oz bag frozen broccoli
1 1/2 pint container of heavy cream
2 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1/2 12oz package mozzarella/cheddar blend shredded cheese
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp paprika
6 cloves chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Put stock, potatoes, onion mix, paprika, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, and mushrooms in the crockpot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Add broccoli and corn and cook for another 1-2 hours. Remove the bay leaves, stir in cream and cheese, and cook for another half hour or so. Serve hot and enjoy.

Be careful about adding salt as there is already quite a bit in the pre-made ingredients. Obviously, if you don't like any of the vegetables, you can leave them out or swap them for something else. This recipe works with sweet potatoes too, but you can't always find frozen sweet potato hash-browns, so you might need to use fresh ones and adjust the cooking time. Adding a diced chili pepper gives the soup a little spice, but hot sauce works well for this too. If you don't have broccoli, spinach or kale work well, but you need to add them when you add the cream and cheese. If the liquid level looks too low, feel free to add a little water. A thickener shouldn't be necessary as the potatoes and cheese both thicken the soup already.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

#Spring Into #Reading Authors & Bloggers #Giveaway! $72 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

There's a new giveaway for Spring!  Please take a moment to check out the Spring Into Reading Authors & Bloggers Giveaway!!  There are lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 40 prizes, and the grand prize is $72 cash payable through PayPal!! :-)  Now isn't that worth taking a few minutes to check out? ;-)   Here are all the details:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for stopping by today!  And don't forget to check back tomorrow for the next installment of Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Suspicions And Surrender... ;-)

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I just thought I'd share a quick snippet about the Prince and Princess of the Summer Court to help get your weekend off to a good start. Enjoy! :-)

Excerpt from Intrigue In The Summer Court:
As they strolled arm-in-arm through the forest, Uaine reflected, with amusement, on his Anamchara's protests when he had asked her to change into comfortable clothing and walking shoes without telling her the reason. She was still shooting him suspicious glances out of the corner of her eye. He suppressed a chuckle; his lady definitely preferred being in control at all times…except in bed.

The prince's loins tightened as he thought about what he had planned for the rest of the evening. The thought of his mate tied up and spread out for his pleasure made him want to take her hand and run to the cabin that awaited them. Even when she agreed to submit to him, she always made it a battle of wills. Dominating her was an exciting challenge, made all the more so by the knowledge that he only succeeded because she chose to allow it.

In all his millennia, Uaine had seldom met anyone who could match his princess when it came to tenacity. She could be stubborn, prickly, and demanding, but she also had a good heart and compassionate nature. Not that she would admit to the latter.

At times, her behavior could be maddening. Even now she was refusing to speak to him because he wouldn't reveal the nature of the surprise that awaited her. It took a secure male to deal with such a complicated female. But it was that very strength of will that made her surrender, when it finally came, all the sweeter.

Want to find out what happens next? You can grab your copy at the link below. Happy reading!! :-)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

#APC #Spotlight: Crystal River By C.A. Keith!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got C.A. Keith in my APC spotlight, today! C.A.. is an active and supportive member of the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and her magical, fantasy, fairytale, children's story, Crystal River, looks great! Here's the description:
Sandy and her two children, 12 and 7, embark on a magical kayaking trip down Crystal River in Florida. They stumble on a beautiful waterfall. They come to a beautiful world of fairies, mermaids, and Bearlie’s. This beautiful all ages book reminds us to believe in magic.
If you think this sounds like something you, or a munchkin you know, might enjoy, go ahead and grab your copy here:

Thank you all so much for stopping by! Happy reading! :-)

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 945

Hey Everyone! :-)

Agent Thoth discusses more of the trials and tribulations associated with living with hominids. Incidentally, if you've missed Agent Thoth's earlier entries, you can find them here: Thoth's Journal

Department for the Preservation and Confirmation of Intelligent Life (DPCIL)
Agent Thoth's Personal Log

Day Nine-Hundred-Forty-Five:
My hominid-servant has placed a dangly item on the interior wall of my domicile. I am uncertain what her reasoning for doing this is, or the purpose of the item in question, but the way it dangles and sways in any passing breeze is enchanting. My young protégé agrees, and we have both spent quite a bit of time attempting to devise a strategy to more closely investigate, and perhaps masticate, this fluttering flight of fancy.

Oh, my, poor Agent Thoth can resist anything but temptation! ;-) You may have noticed that Agent Thoth has a new look. I hope you like his new picture as much as I do, but I'd love to hear your thoughts, either way. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. ;-) Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Resources, Resources, Who's Got The Resources?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got a little more of Alyce's adventure to share with you, today! Enjoy! :-)

Excerpt from Answers From Alyce:
"And, of course, we haven't even talked about resources."


"Yep. Resources. Money, support personnel, equipment, these are all things that most independent news outlets have very little of, which means the number of stories they're able to investigate is limited. Mainstream media has lots of resources, but they rarely use them to do the kind of deep investigative journalism that only they are able to do."

"Which further limits the information your people have access to."

I shrugged. "Like I said before, we have lots of information. We're bombarded with information 24/7/365. We have so much information it's overwhelming; we're drowning in it. Unfortunately, very little of the information we have is the information we need. And in order to find even that little bit, we are forced to dig through the piles of nonsense, trivia, misinformation, and hot air that surrounds us constantly."

"That sounds tiring," ventured Yax.

"Oh, sugar, it's exhausting. That's why so many people are so ill-informed. And why most of them don't even realize it."

Want to know what happens next? Be the first to read it, Answers From Alyce is now out! :-)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Something Worth Watching?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. This one is about a threat to our fundamental rights -- the right to free speech and the right to a free press -- and I really don't think it's being covered correctly in the mainstream media. So, please take a few minutes to watch this video, and then consider contacting your elected representatives and telling them what you think. Peace!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Quick Spinach Saute #Recipe!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

This is a meal that's easy to throw together quickly on a weeknight, but is still delicious and will fill you up. Enjoy! :-)

4 cups cooked brown rice or pasta (your favorite kind)
4 cups spinach leaves
1 large onion chopped fine
1 granny smith apple peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup raisins
1 cup toasted walnuts chopped
5 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup red wine (your favorite kind)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the olive oil and onion to a large saute pan and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic, apple, rosemary, raisins, and salt and pepper and continue cooking until the onions start to caramelize. Add the spinach, water, and wine and continue cooking until the spinach wilts. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove the pan from the heat and serve the spinach mixture over warm rice or pasta. Sprinkle the walnuts over the top.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

#Spring Into #Reading Authors & Bloggers #Giveaway! $72 #Cash #Grand #Prize! #Free To #Enter!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

There's a new giveaway for Spring!  Please take a moment to check out the Spring Into Reading Authors & Bloggers Giveaway!!  There are lots of awesome books and prizes!! :-)  It's free to enter, there are over 65 prizes, and the grand prize is $72 cash payable through PayPal!! :-)  Now isn't that worth taking a few minutes to check out? ;-)   Here are all the details:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for stopping by today!  And don't forget to check back tomorrow for the next installment of Mistral Dawn's Musings! :-)

Friday, April 19, 2019

#APC #Spotlight: Premo (Siberian MC Book 1) By Joy Blood!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got Joy Blood in my APC spotlight, today! Joy is an active and supportive member of the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and her contemporary romance, action/adventure, motorcycle club, suspense novel, Premo, looks great! Here's the description:
My life stopped.
Stolen from me before it could begin.
So, I disappeared.
Until he found me.
The first time I found her, I sent her away.
The second time I found her, I decided to keep her.
Now, she's in my care, depending on me like so many others.
My club.
My brothers.
My son.
If you think this sounds like something you might enjoy, go ahead and grab your copy here:

Thank you all so much for stopping by! Happy reading! :-)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

#April2019 #IndieBooksBeSeen #Indie #Author #Books #Monthly #BookReview!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

It's the 18th again, so time for my #IndieBooksBeSeen monthly indie author book review!! Enjoy! :-)

Three Rules by Mary Drake:

Hope seems like a normal young woman, but the secrets she hides behind her eyes are tearing her apart. The question she needs to answer, and only she can answer it, is can she find her way through the jumbled of razorwire of self-loathing and oceans of pain her past abuse has left her in and learn to accept other people into her life, again? Or will she succumb to the darkness?

This was an enjoyable read, but there were some extremely heavy undertones. The author is a survivor of abuse, and it shows in her writing. The story is one of healing, but it doesn't shy away from all the hurdles that those on that journey must overcome. The main character, Hope, not only comes to terms with what happened to her within herself; she also finds her voice so that she doesn't have to remain buried beneath all the secrets. But it isn't easy and the effort required takes its toll on her. This is definitely a five-star read, but be prepared because being allowed a glimpse this far inside the mind of someone who has suffered through severe trauma is not at all a comfortable feeling.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 940

Hey Everyone! :-)

Agent Thoth discusses more of the trials and tribulations associated with living with hominids. Incidentally, if you've missed Agent Thoth's earlier entries, you can find them here: Thoth's Journal

Department for the Preservation and Confirmation of Intelligent Life (DPCIL)
Agent Thoth's Personal Log

Day Nine-Hundred-Forty:
Today, while my hominid-servant was in the midst of one of her cleaning frenzies, the canid approached the juvenile felid from behind. My young companion had concealed himself beneath a flimsy piece of furniture that my hominid-servant uses to store small items she uses frequently. Unfortunately, the little idiot only hid his front half but left his backend sticking out from beneath his hiding place. My hominid-servant was running one of her unreasonably noisy cleaning contraptions when the canid noticed the small annoyance’s backend and decided to investigate.

When the canid nosed my youthful compatriot’s hindquarters, it startled the tiny halfwit. He jumped and upended the furniture he was beneath, which scattered the contents around the room. This upset my hominid-servant greatly, as she began making screeching noises and chased the little fool and the canid around my domicile.

As punishment, my hominid-servant confined both the canid and my adolescent protégé in separate boxes for a brief period of time while she gathered her belongings and restored them to their storage place. As she did this, she eyed me several times as if she was considering confining me as well; though this would have been horribly unfair, as I had nothing to do with causing the commotion. Still, I thought it wise to not tempt the capriciousness of hominids, and so made myself scarce until she displayed evidence that she had regained her emotional equilibrium.

Sheesh! Hominids can be unpredictable! ;-) You may have noticed that Agent Thoth has a new look. I hope you like his new picture as much as I do, but I'd love to hear your thoughts, either way. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. ;-) Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Debunking Bigotry And Stupidity By Asking The Right Questions

Hey Everyone!

Today, I'd like to talk about something that has been bugging me for a while. I've been seeing a bunch of hysteria from the anti-choice misogynists out there about some recently passed and proposed abortion legislation. And, honestly, just anti-women propaganda, in general. There was one video that was being passed around that particularly irritated me. It showed a doctor describing a specific kind of abortion procedure sometimes used in late second trimester abortions, a D&E at 22 weeks, and if all you knew about abortions was in that video, you would have absolutely no useful knowledge on the subject. And that kind of propaganda is dangerous because it spreads misinformation about a medical procedure and makes it more likely that people will have to risk their lives to get the treatment they need.

So, I decided to point out a few things that I think people should take into consideration when discussing this topic. And I'll start with a few facts (link to CDC website reference below). Approximately 91% of abortions are performed before 14 weeks. About 8% are performed between 14 and 20 weeks. Only about 1% are performed at 21 weeks or later. Again, the procedure described in the video was at 22 weeks. So, very few abortions are performed that late.

But, okay, let's say we're talking about one of those very few abortions. We need to ask some questions before we decide if this is a procedure that should be outlawed. Chiefly among those questions is, "Why?" Because if you watch the video, it's clear this isn't a simple, or painless, procedure for the pregnant person.

So, why would someone decide to wait that long? Well, maybe they wanted the baby and only now found out there's some catastrophic defect in the fetus that will make it impossible to survive once born. Or that will turn the baby's very short existence into a living nightmare for it. So rather than let the child suffer, the pregnant person decides to end the pregnancy.

Or maybe the fetus is dead and needs to be removed from the pregnant person's body before it starts to rot inside them. Or maybe the pregnant person will die from a complication of the pregnancy if it isn't terminated. Or maybe the pregnant person experienced a horrific trauma associated with the conception that made them psychologically incapable of coming to terms with a pregnancy until now.

The point is, there will be a reason someone waited that long to get an abortion, and it almost certainly won't be a trivial reason. Because it would have been far easier on the pregnant person -- physically, mentally, emotionally, financially -- to have had the procedure sooner.

So, the next question is, should a difficult and important decision like that be made by the individual who is pregnant in consultation with a dedicated medical expert who has full knowledge and understanding of their particular medical needs and situation to determine the best course of action for them? Or should the decision be left to uninformed politicians with a political ax to grind and no concern for or understanding of the medical realities any given person might be facing?

As we've already established, the medical procedure in question is complex and painful for the pregnant person. And, as with any medical procedure, carries an element of risk, even when performed under ideal conditions by trained experts. So, for anyone to make the decision to undergo this procedure, they would have to be very sure it was what they wanted to do and fairly determined that they needed to terminate that pregnancy.

So, one final question everyone should ask themselves before deciding if they think this procedure should be illegal. If the pregnant person in question was someone you knew and loved and they were that sure and determined that their pregnancy needed to end, regardless of whether or not you agreed with their reasoning or decision, would you want them to be able to go to a trained, licensed doctor with the proper sterile instrumentation and facility who would be focused on protecting your loved one's health and safety and who would have the knowledge and resources on hand to help your loved one should anything go wrong? Or, knowing that any person that sure and determined to end a pregnancy is unlikely to be swayed by any law passed by people who don't know them or understand what they're going through, would you rather your loved one get do-it-yourself instructions off the internet or go to a person who may have no training at all? Because that's really the decision we're talking about.


CDC reference link

Monday, April 15, 2019

Something Worth Watching?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. Two videos, actually, that are about a candidate, Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who seems to be getting painted by the mainstream media as a progressive despite the fact that he falls more center to center right on several issues. Between these two videos, I think you'll get a good idea about why I have deep reservations about this candidate. The last thing we can afford is to put another neoliberal centrist up against our tangerine study in moral turpitude and have a repeat of the 2016 election. We need a strong progressive with populist economic policies to combat the fake populism from Trump, and I really don't think this guy is that. But I'll let you watch the videos and judge for yourselves. Peace!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

#Crockpot Pot Pie #Recipe!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got another easy, crockpot recipe for all those other lazy cooks out there. Enjoy! :-)

6 potatoes washed and cubed
3 carrots peeled and chopped
1 bag frozen peas
1 large onion finely chopped
1 12 oz package sliced button mushrooms
1 12 oz package sliced baby bellas
1 zucchini chopped
1 eggplant chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
1 head of broccoli chopped or 1 bag of frozen chopped broccoli
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 can refrigerated biscuit dough
2 tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
6 cloves of garlic minced fine
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp sage
2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients except the broccoli, cream, and biscuit dough in a crockpot and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Remove the bay leaves, add the broccoli and cream, and stir the contents. Cook for another hour or so. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. If the sauce is too thin, you can make a slurry with cornstarch (about a tablespoon) and cold water and add it to the crockpot to thicken up your gravy. Remove the biscuit dough from the can (you know them, they're the kind that pops when you open them) and separate the individual biscuits. Remove the cover of the crockpot and place the biscuits on top of the vegetables in an even layer. Put the whole crock (the ceramic part that sits in the metal part only, not the metal part with the controls) in the oven without the cover and bake according to the directions on the biscuit package.

As always, I prefer my pot pie without meat, but you can add any meat you like. Just please make sure the meat is cooked before you add it to the crockpot because food poisoning sucks. Also, you can, of course, remove or add any vegetables you like. This recipe is more about a process than about a specific ingredient list. Likewise, you can adjust the seasonings however you like to suit your taste.

Bon appetit! :-)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Communication Styles...

Hey Everyone!! :-)

There's a lot going on right now in this country that ranges from infuriating to terrifying. There are constant attacks against women's autonomy, the fact that Julian Assange has been taken as a political prisoner and the associated existential threats to free speech and freedom of the press, the apparent determination in the current administration to provoke a war with Iran, and so much more that I just don't have the mental energy to get into right now. But, as important as all these things are to consider and combat, I need a break to regroup today. Sometimes it's necessary to step back, take a breath, and remind ourselves about what's good in life. Towards that end, here's a little bit of inside baseball about my furry brigade. ;-)

Differences in Communication Styles:

My oldest cat, aka The Squeak, is a noodge. He's absolutely relentless. If he wants something, like attention, and doesn't feel he's receiving it in the amount or with the urgency he feels is appropriate, he'll get up on top of things, or into things, and start knocking things over and pulling things apart. And when he's scolded for being a jerk, he'll turn big gold eyes on you and squeak out his dissatisfaction. At length.

My second oldest cat, aka The Original Sin, is a Diva with a capital D. When life doesn't meet her exacting standards, she trills and squawks out her dissatisfaction at the top of her lungs. But if we get into a direct disagreement, and her natural bluster isn't enough to settle the matter, she'll go sit facing a wall and explain her case to it, in detail, while refusing to acknowledge anyone else's presence in the room.

My second youngest cat, aka The Small, mainly communicates through interpretive dance. When he has something on his mind, he runs frantically back and forth through the house, stopping occasionally to perform complicated choreography that includes back flips, high jumps, and climbing on the furniture. It's not terribly effective at getting his point across, but it is definitely entertaining, and he seems to feel better once he's done.

My youngest cat, aka The Homicidal Muffin With Legs or The Muffin for short, prefers a direct method of gaining attention. He squeals. Repeatedly. At high volume. And if that isn't sufficient to get him his way, he pats me. For emphasis in truly urgent matters, he climbs up to squeal right into my face while simultaneously enthusiastically patting me. I must admit, his fish breath is an effective punctuation for his message.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Levers Of Change

Hey Everyone!

The other night, I had a dream about my grandfather and it made me think about something that might explain why sometimes people are reluctant to call out bad behavior in people they know. To start, there are some things I need to explain about my mom's dad. Bluntly, he was not a nice person. He was a drunk who was verbally and psychologically abusive to my grandmother, his wife, my mom and her siblings, his kids, and to people in general. He was also extremely misogynistic and terribly racist. But those are all things I learned later.

When I knew him best was when I was very young. When I was 5 years old, my family moved away from my grandparents and I didn't see them much after that. And then when I was 7, my grandparents moved to Florida, and I barely saw them at all. So, the man I knew was someone I knew as a very young child. I know things now that make me realize that the man I thought he was then wasn't an accurate reflection of who he was, but the way I feel about him is tied to who I thought he was. If he were still alive and hurting people, he died when I was in my late teens, that might be a problem. But, at this point, he has been dead for more than half my life, so I never felt any great need to reconcile what I know with how I feel about him.

Which brings me to my dream. It was about a time he fixed a toy for me. I couldn't have been more than 3 at the time, and I was very upset. My grandmother had gotten me a Breyer horse. I don't know if you are familiar with them, but they aren't really toys so much as collectibles. They are horses molded from a hard, rather brittle plastic, and they look pretty life-like, and some of them are beautiful, but they aren't good toys for little kids. They break easily, especially their legs, and they're impossible to fix. Glue doesn't stick to the plastic they're made of well, and once they're broken that's pretty much it. I loved them when I was a kid, but my parents wouldn't buy them for me because they were expensive and they broke so easily. But my grandma indulged me sometimes, and she gave me one. And I broke it. And I was really upset.

My grandfather found me crying over the stupid thing, and he acted like a typical grandpa. He offered to fix it. But glue didn't work. So, we went down to his workshop in the basement. It actually was a workshop. He was extremely handy and liked to tinker with things. And he got out this ancient hand drill he had with the teeniest drill bit you've ever seen, and he very carefully bore a hole in the center of the broken end of the leg. It took forever, at least it seemed like forever to 3-year-old me because the drill was hand operated and he had to be careful not to split the leg. Then he drilled a hole in the broken end of the leg piece, and he ran a small piece of wire dipped in glue through both holes and clamped them together to dry. And that's the closest I've ever seen anyone be able to fix a Breyer horse. The pieces didn't stay completely together, but the wire kept them from falling all the way apart again. And that's the man my feelings about my grandfather come from.

That dream made me realize something about Trump and the people who support him. My grandfather was a lot like how I think Trump would have been if Trump had been born poor. My grandfather's family was dirt-poor, so my grandfather was a lot more useful than Trump. He had to be. And I think my grandfather had quite a bit of native intelligence, which Trump obviously lacks. But my grandfather was woefully uneducated; he never finished high school.

He knew a lot about things he had experience with. He was a sailor during WWII, so he knew a lot about boats and the sea and tieing knots and the weather and navigation. And he had natural mechanical talents that would have made him an absolutely brilliant engineer if he had ever been given a chance. Even with only being self-taught, he was able to fix pretty much anything. And he built little machines just for shits and giggles. He liked to make them fight each other, but he also built little gadgets to make common tasks around the home easier. He built my grandmother a dustbin with an extended handle and a foot peddle for scooping because she had a bad back and it hurt her to bend over when she cleaned. Things like that. It's quite possible he could have patented some of them, but he didn't have the education to know that, much less to figure out how to do it. He also fixed up old cars and sold them.

So, like I said, a much more useful person than Trump. But ignorant and bigoted and stubborn in his ignorance and bigotry. And also given to the same kind of hyperbolic statements and black and white view of the world as Trump. Often, when I hear Trump speak, it sounds a lot like my grandfather. Especially when my grandfather was drunk. So, it got me wondering how many other people had/have family who remind them of Trump and if some people have a "soft spot" for him because of that.

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying, Trump is an absolutely useless piece of human shit who has no redeeming value that I can find. But when I hear my grandfather's voice come out of his mouth, I can understand why some people might want to ascribe the good qualities of the people they've known who sound like that to him. Because, as I said, even though I know on an objective level that my grandfather was not a nice person, he was just that, a person. Which means even though if you take everything as a whole he wasn't nice, there were times he acted nice. And since my emotions towards him are tied to the incomplete view I had of him as a young child, it's easy to remember the good stuff and forget the bad. Which makes me wonder how many other people have the same emotional blind spot.

I think being aware of these subconscious connections is important. If someone's behavior is abhorrent, but one is at some point willing or wanting to ignore or excuse it, it's important to be self-aware enough to know why. Because if you aren't, then it's hard not to give in to those feelings. You might want to downplay how terrible what they say is, or automatically dismiss it as something that's said to get a reaction and isn't actually meant. And that kind of tacit acceptance of the unacceptable is how bigotry gets perpetuated.

Now, obviously, this doesn't mean that anyone reading this is going to stand toe-to-toe with Trump and tell him what they think about him. Even if someone did, I doubt it would do any good. From what I can tell, the man has absolutely no sense of shame. But most of us know people who support him and share his vile beliefs. And if we're close to and/or related to those people, like I was to my grandfather, it's not always easy to separate the good from the bad in our heads. But if we want to steer this society back into the realm of decency, then that means we need to start holding people accountable when they behave indecently.

So, even though it will be uncomfortable, I think it's important to call out bigotry when we hear it. That's not to say that we physically attack anyone, but I do think speaking up against hate is something we need more of. Even when the person being hateful is someone we have warm feelings for in another context. Because those are the people we're most likely to be able to reach.

Yes, I realize what we say will often make little or no difference in a person's bigotry; that type of hate tends to be deeply ingrained and entrenched in a person's psyche. But someone listening might be affected by what we say, which certainly won't happen if we allow that type of hate-speech to go unchallenged. And it's always possible that maybe, just maybe, something we say might penetrate the shell of stereotypes and ignorance bigots armor themselves with. Having a prior relationship with the person that might cause them to have the same kind of "soft spot" for us as we'd like to have for them might make it possible for us to get past their defenses. At least a little. And changing one mind at a time is really the only way to change the world.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

#APC #Spotlight: Standing On A Whale By B. J. Tiernan!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got B. J. Tiernan in my APC spotlight, today! B. J. is an active and supportive member of the  Authors-Professional Co-op Facebook group and her action, adventure, mystery, psychological thriller novel, Standing on a Whale, looks great! Here's the description:
B. J. Tiernan’s novel is a deep dive into the business of living and dying. Recluse Lance Stavros is a successful doctor who runs his own practice, but on the inside, he’s basically high-functioning human wreckage. He was born into a loveless home that lacked the nurturing to help him develop an ability to cope with life’s challenges. Now Lance is forty-seven, and the only reason he’s survived the past four decades without taking his own life is cowardice.

As hopelessness overcomes him, and he’s finally finding the guts within to pull the trigger on his existence, a house call pulls him out of the deadly spiral. It will turn out to be the call of his lifetime.

Lance becomes a live-in medic for a controversial mystic and lecturer who irks the Greek government—and becomes an assassin’s target. Amid this new and curious world, and a reignited past romance, Lance battles his cowardice to investigate who is trying to kill his employer, and he’s about to uncover more than he bargained for.

Those who live with, or have experienced, emotional pain, destructive tendencies, or addictions will find Lance’s story familiar, engaging, and at its heart—inspirational.
 If you think this sounds like something you might enjoy, go ahead and grab your copy here:

Thank you all so much for stopping by! Happy reading! :-)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

#Agent Thoth's #Personal Log: Day 937

Hey Everyone! :-)

Agent Thoth discusses more of the trials and tribulations associated with living with hominids. Incidentally, if you've missed Agent Thoth's earlier entries, you can find them here: Thoth's Journal

Department for the Preservation and Confirmation of Intelligent Life (DPCIL)
Agent Thoth's Personal Log

Day Nine-Hundred-Thirty-Seven:
I have noticed that my hominid-servant starts her cleaning activities by removing all the baubles that have been scattered throughout my domicile from the floor and placing them in a container. This container she then conceals within a closet; though, I am uncertain if her goal is to prevent myself and my furred companions from reclaiming our property, or if she merely wishes the container to be out of her path of dirt destruction. Normally, the baubles that the juvenile felid secrets beneath my hominid-servant’s sleeping platform escape this purge, but during the extreme cleaning phases even these are confiscated.

This, of course, causes my young companion great distress. He is left wavering between launching a determined campaign to reclaim his baubles and hiding from the obnoxiously loud devices my hominid-servant employs in her dust eradication crusade. Thus far, my youthful protégé has chosen to err on the side of discretion, as he is currently perched at the top of one of the shelved pieces of furniture my hominid-servant stores her thinly-sliced, printed tree-cadavers on. As this provides him with a convenient platform for observing my hominid-servant’s activities while remaining outside her easy reach, it seems that he has concluded that his person is at greater risk from the contraptions than his baubles.

Hominids and our obsessions! ;-) You may have noticed that Agent Thoth has a new look. I hope you like his new picture as much as I do, but I'd love to hear your thoughts, either way. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. ;-) Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Separating The Wheat From The Chaff...

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I've got a little more of Alyce's adventure to share with you, today! Enjoy! :-)

Excerpt from Answers From Alyce:
"So then why don't more of your people turn to independent media for their news?"

"Some people have. Unfortunately, independent media doesn't have the kind of money that mainstream media has, which means they don't have the infrastructure necessary to promote and share their stories the way mainstream media does. Independent media is mostly on the internet, there's not much in the way of hard copy print or radio independent news, and pretty much no independent media on regular television. So, people have to go online and look for independent news sources, and a lot of people either don't know to do that or don't want to take the time. And even if someone does know about independent media and does want to seek them out, they first have to figure out which independent media sources are reliable. Because some people call themselves media when all they are, in reality, are crazy conspiracy theorists and/or hatemongers."

"Crazy conspiracy theorists and hatemongers?" asked Squid-boy. "I don't understand, I thought you said your independent journalists were more truthful and more interested in exposing corruption and criminal behavior among the powerful than your mainstream media journalists are."

I nodded. "Yes, those who are actually journalists, who do the work that journalists are supposed to do, are more honest and focused on speaking truth to power than the mainstream media is. But not everyone on the internet who calls themselves a journalist actually is a journalist. It's easy enough for people who have an agenda to call themselves journalists when they have no interest in reporting facts or investigating news. And if a person is looking for news sources online because the mainstream media has let them down, they have to be careful not to be fooled by people who claim to report news when all they do is spew hate or make outrageous claims with no evidence to support them."

"Which goes back to what you said before about many of your people not being well-versed in how to evaluate purported news to determine if it is supported by evidence and if the evidence comes from a reliable source."

"Yep. Exactly."

"A problem that would be solved if your mainstream media could be relied upon to provide the information your people require to make informed decisions. But they can't be, as is evidenced by their failure to focus on important news stories like that of your President appointing a judge to the highest court in your government who does not believe a President should be held to account for crimes they commit."

I smiled. "You got it, sugar. That's the conundrum."

Monday, April 8, 2019

Something Worth Watching?

Hey Everyone!! :-)

I'm back today with another video I wanted to share. Once again, an important story about the actions of DC's swamp creatures that's getting almost no attention from the mainstream media. While the nation has been distracted by 45's latest stupid tweet, this happened. Though, frankly, this kind of corruption is no more than we've come to expect from the Trump administration. But I'll let the video speak for itself.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Easy Veggie Lasagna #Recipe!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

Today, I thought I'd share my lasagna recipe, which uses the tomato sauce recipe I shared last week. I hope you like it! :-)

1 2 lb container of ricotta cheese
3 lbs mozzarella cheese shredded
1 egg
1 lb spinach uncooked
15 cloves garlic minced
2 cups oregano chopped (or 1/2 cup dried)
1 cup parsley chopped (or 1/4 cup dried)
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp red pepper flakes or 1 chili pepper chopped (optional)
1 9oz box lasagna noodles
4 cups tomato sauce (Tomato Sauce Recipe)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the lasagna noodles in salted boiling water until nearly done. Drain the pasta and place in a bowl of cold water.  Spoon 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce into a 9x13 baking dish and spread it evenly over the bottom of the dish. Take a noodle out of the bowl and pull it through two fingers to remove the water, but be careful not to break it, and place it in the bottom of the baking dish. Repeat until there is a layer of cooked noodles in the bottom of the dish.

Mix the rest of the ingredients except the noodles, spinach, tomato sauce, and 1 pound of the mozzarella cheese together in a bowl. Make sure the ingredients are well combined. Spread a layer of sauce over the noodles in the baking dish until all the noodles are completely covered. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture over the sauce in the baking dish until no sauce is visible. Place spinach leaves over the cheese layer until all the cheese is covered. Repeat layers until all the noodles are used. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top of the lasagna. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil.

The assembled lasagna can be placed in the refrigerator overnight, or it can be baked immediately at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes or until edges are bubbling. Once the edges are bubbling, remove the foil cover, run a knife around the edges of the lasagna, and return it to the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the top is browned.

You can also add pecorino romano or parmesan cheese to both the cheese mixture and/or the top of the lasagna if you like. Some other things I like to add sometimes are roasted slices of zucchini, broccoli florets, and slices of cauliflower. As with other things, I prefer my lasagna without meat, but you can easily add ground beef, Italian sausage, ham, pepperoni, and/or sliced meatballs to yours just by putting them in another layer. If you use meat, please make sure it is completely cooked before putting it in the lasagna because food poisoning sucks.

Buon Appetito!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

#NewRelease #Announcement: Bell Bottom Gypsy By Maggie Plummer!

Hey Everyone!! :-)

My friend, Maggie Plummer, is here with us today to tell us about her new book. Maggie, take it away! :-)

Announcing Bell-Bottom Gypsy: A Jessie Morgan Novel by Maggie Plummer

… Maggie is an online author friend and Twitter buddy. Her brand new “retro” coming of age novel, Bell-Bottom Gypsy, is Book One of her Jessie Morgan Series. It looks like a great read. Here’s the description:

In this galloping departure from her previous novels, author Maggie Plummer takes the reader on a wild 1970s ride – an adventurous journey along America’s back roads.

At twenty, Jessie Morgan is fed up with just about everything. It’s September 1971 – time to drop out, tune in, and turn on. She leaves college and Detroit in the rearview mirror, hitting the road in her 1965 yellow Volkswagen convertible. Wandering the country’s byways from Kentucky to Key West to Montana, Jessie is out to test herself and experience everything.

She didn’t count on meeting a man like Twisty.

Bell-Bottom Gypsy is recommended for mature readers due to plenty of 1970s-era sex, drugs, and cussing.

If you find this trip back to the early 70s as intriguing as I do, take the plunge and grab your copy here: https://amzn.to/2FaYdUt