What makes good literature?

An extremely good conversation in my literature class about intelligence (Inspired by Ted Chiang’s The Great Silence). We talked about other species that fall under the definition of intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and apply knowledge.” parrot.jpgConsidering Alex the Parrot and Koko the Gorilla, and other species: crows are problem solvers and remember faces. We discussed dogs, cats, and others. Is love, as an abstract idea, understood and applied by animals? And then – is intelligence found in showing love?

This is what good literature should do. Teach, delight, and create wonder.

Read The Great Silence here

What’s So Scary?

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“Don’t be afraid of failure.  The reality is that most people successes rise out of the ashes of their previous failures.”

From a new documentary on Netflix titled Creativity. The narrator is talking to the creator of Game of Thrones. The creator is talking about how many times he’s failed.

I started this to say – what are you afraid of?

Then I wanted to ask – what if there was no such thing as fear? What would you do? What could you do?

I want you to think about that. What if fear was not in the human range of emotion or thought?

 

Food Crimes: Mesquite Choco-choco-choco cookies.

Where have I been? A tad busy: End of semester biz, daughter about ready to burst with baby, and baking.

I wandered accidentally, whilst grading on the couch listening to background noise on the tele, into baking and cooking shows. They have reawakened my passion for dessert chemistry.

I’ve posted pictures of these cookies on my instagram and facebook and the original recipe ideas link on my pinterest page. These recipes are not mine – but I always do some this and that to make it my own and have been asked to share.

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These are Mesquite Chocolate Chip cookies (on my favorite Roscher porcelain).

Although they don’t seem very holiday-like, they are delicious. Softer in ways than a regular chocolate chip.

Here’s the original recipe from David Lebovitz

I wanted to halve the recipe; the original recipe makes 50 cookies. I didn’t need that many. I wanted to sample before I committed.

 

Here are the changes I made.

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3/4 cup of Mesquite flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup of oats

1 fully generous overflowing, maybe more cup or so of chocolate chips. I used semi-sweet and bittersweet. (My faves!)

 

Then I followed his directions, including the pat down which I originally thought of as strange – but they do get puffy. heaven

Of course, we ate them right out of the oven –

HEAVEN.

Some of the middles were stuffed with chocolate; this was definitely the winner. If/when I make them again, I may try to purposefully load the center.

We had more when they cooled, then more later, then more the next day. Fortunately, I have willing taste testers who will try them at all stages.

The mesquite flour makes them light and airy. (I intend to bread some chicken with it and see what that gets me).

The cookies were delish! I wonder what other types of cookies this flour would compliment?

I’m going to try to post a recipe a day for the next few weeks – if you’re interested, like, follow, favor. 🙂

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Food Crimes: Gifting Times Two – Ethnic Recipes from my Friends.

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Some years ago, John Voso Jr. put together a cookbook, Italian Recipes from my friends; the proceeds from which went to the Richie White Fund. Richie White was a young boy who spent most of his young life in the hospital battling cancer. He lost that battle a few days after his fourth birthday.

 

 

 

This year, John has put together Ethnic Recipes From My Friends. The proceeds benefit a number of good charities.

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The book contains JackFruit tacos. You’ll remember that some months ago, I tried JackFruit tacos at a vegan restaurant and loved them.

 

 

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When John Voso, his wife, Debbie, and myself met for dinner, I was surprised to find this recipe in the book! I, personally, can not wait to make them myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book contains recipes from a number of different people and cultures:

Angel Wings from Poland, 45249898_10215606113699519_8495535016174944256_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonoran Style Carne Asada, 44957040_10215568156710618_4786004417256095744_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

42876531_10215381572126120_7345769895918829568_nand don’t forget about dessert, A Nut Kuchen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethnic Recipes from My Friends will make a great gift and it supports great causes. Contact John Voso to order your copy!

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Random facts stalkers don’t know…

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I grew up in a tough neighborhood. (don’t stereotype me)

I was in a band. (for about 5 minutes)

I was in a few movies. (another 5 minutes)

I wrote my first “novel”at the age of 11. (an angst ridden piece about a girl who is kidnapped because she witnessed a crime)

I was actually kidnapped. (not at 11/that story is waiting for publication)

I always have wanted to own a Munster-like house.

I’ve gotten lost in every major city I’ve ever been (including abroad. Trust me when I say every country/every city has neighborhoods you don’t want to be lost in at dusk)

I keep a lot of random facts as well as insignificant details in my brain. (jokes don’t stick tho)

now the stalkers know – don’t be a stalker….

Writing Wishes and Publication Dreams

I’ve been working on a new story – not only working – OBSESSED!  I don’t think I left the house for most of January and part of February until the first draft was done. I’m currently working through it again and again.  I’ve begun to gather my beta readers, and I’m quite excited.

Weekly, I spend time submitting. This is what a working writer does. Writes and submits. Rejections are no fun, and I get plenty of them. I read one statistic that read, “a writer gets an average of 26 rejections for every acceptance.” Not sure how they came up with that… I feel like it’s three times that much; however, things change!

Malcolm Gladwell, estimates it takes 10,000 hours to master any one thing. I feel like I should have reached those hours long ago; but, maybe, it takes some of us a little longer to get it. (That’s the story of my life!)

So – I have to update you.

My poem, “All At Once”, was a finalist in Medusa’s Laugh NanoText Contest. I didn’t win, but it’s still to be published in their anthology and in an e-book version. This should be available soon!

My poem, “I’ve Never Looked So Beautiful” has just been accepted by Mother’s Always Write. Before you start thinking I’m quite full of myself – the poem is about my lovely daughter! This should be available in the next month.

My story, “How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party” has been accepted by The Oleander Review. Sometimes, I write something and I think, this is pretty damn good, and I think this story says a lot about our humanity. I’m so happy that it will be published. It will be available mid-April

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, Writer Advice has just notified me that my story, “Memorial Day Death Watch”, has been chosen as a finalist in their Flash Memoir Contest!

We must have a purpose – I’ve always wanted to reach people, tell them they’re not alone. I think I’m just beginning to do that.

Live an Inspired Life!

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The Corner of Bitter and Christmas

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I went shopping last week. It was earlier in the day, around 11am, on a weekday when stores aren’t usually busy.

I sat on a rather large bench to try on the shoes. It could have easily sat four people, but the sales person set the shoes on the bench next to me leaving room for at least two other people. I tried on a pair. A woman came up, she was lingering around, looking at shoes. I wasn’t paying much attention to anything other than the comfort of the shoes I was trying on. The woman set down the box of shoes in one empty space, set down her large purse in her other empty seat, and continued to stand.

When I got up to walk over to the mirror and examine my shoes, she pushed my shoe boxes further over, said something to her husband that I did not hear, and took my seat.  I didn’t say anything, assuming she’d be gone by the time I returned anyway.

She tried on the new shoes, changed back into her shoes, and stood up just as I imagined. I went over, sat back down, and tried on the other pair of shoes. I got up again, expecting she’d take my seat again, but she did not. She grabbed her things, looked my way, and said something like “what’s wrong with some people?”

At the register, the cashier was ringing out the first person in line. There were two other people in front of me. The cashier had forgotten to take the customer’s return from the final price. The customer was very impatient. The woman behind her turned to her friend and said something, loud enough for everyone to hear, about the customer. Sensing an argument that I didn’t want to be a part of, I checked my phone. The customer having the problem walked away without a purchase, causing more negative comments from the friends behind her about how she’d wasted their time. They turned to me, an attempt to bring me into their circle. I looked at my phone, avoided their gaze.

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After that purchase, I needed to pick up an order from another counter. Another long line, so I waited. Again, more impatient people. The woman in front of me walked up to another sales person, “can’t you get someone else to help?” She returned, looked at me, and tried to bring me into her circle of complaining about the service.

The first thing that occurs to me is: 1. We have become a very impatient society. I remember waiting in long lines with my mother as a child. People waited patiently, because the wait was expected. Today, with our instant society, no one is expected to wait, and no one expects to have to wait.  Does anyone remember the long lines in a Blockbuster video store on a Friday evening?  and 2. The Christmas Season is upon us. The season where, unlike the ideal – let their be peace on earth, people are more stressed than at any other time of the year.

Let’s be honest. Christmas time is not the most wonderful time of the year. ESPECIALLY when you’re shopping.

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Even every day activities, like running to the market for the usual items, becomes more of a chore. The lines are longer, which honestly is NOT the problem. The problem is how the people act in those lines.

At a local  market, I got into the wrong line. I did not see the 15 Items or Less Sign. The person in front of me had a full cart. The man behind me had a full cart. I had probably 20 items. At least two other people in that line waited patiently behind that man without saying a word. But a man walked up to the very back of the line and instantly started complaining. I didn’t pay attention. To hear people complaining about lines is like white noise in the supermarket. But his voice kept getting louder, closer, then he was behind me. He was yelling – YELLING – at the man behind me about having too many items. The man moved his cart and let him go in front of him. The cashier was just about to ring through my things when the man moved his attention to me – “I guess you can’t read either.”  I turned around to see, yes, he was indeed speaking to me. He had two children with him. I had no idea what he was talking about until he pointed out the small sign over the register. He had successfully bullied himself to the front of the line and I was the only one standing in his way to be first. The cashier paused, wondering if I was going to let him in front of me. And, you know what, had he called it to my attention nicely, had he asked me with any decency, had he not just bullied the other people in line and berated the old man behind me, I would have let him go – But, it’d been a long day, I was tired, and this man was an asshole. I told him to take a flying leap – well, we’ll say those are the words I used. And the cashier rang me through. The man was still not satisfied with being next; he continued yelling until the manager came over and took him to another register to wait on him personally.

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These things happen every day around the holidays. People are pressured, stressed, trying to make their holiday the best for their family, try to get things done between work and other responsibilities, and people lose their patience, if not their minds, in the effort to do so.

Welcome to the corner of bitter and Christmas.

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We are supposed to be nicer this time of year, more patient, more beautiful to one another, but so many people lose sight of that.

When I must go out and face the crowds, I prepare myself by telling myself that I must be more patient than those who are not, kinder than those who are not, and I must smile especially for those who are not.

At one sale, my daughter handed me a prized purse; the last of its kind. I wasn’t certain I wanted it but, if I put it down, it’d be gone. I was looking at the purse, wondering if I should really buy it just because it was the last of its kind and everyone else wanted it, when I noticed the woman across the display from me.  I smiled.  She smiled.  “I’m sorry,” she said. “If you’re going to put it back, I’d like to have it.” I handed it to her. She was extremely grateful and happy. I’d made her day. Now, that’s the Christmas Spirit.

I don’t go out on Black Friday. There is nothing I want or need that is worth fighting – literally – fighting for. The stores set things up like a competition – think about it: Competitive Shopping! I say, don’t give in!

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In light of everything that is going on in our society right now, in the world, I say keep your common sense, keep your dignity, keep your smile, and stay patient in the face of those who are not. Do not meet them at the corner of bitterness and Christmas, come on over to the Self Respect Cafe and relax.

Less stress means fewer wrinkles, better sleep, an overall better feeling throughout the holiday season – and you’ll never have see one of those embarrassing pictures of yourself.

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This season – be kind, be happy.