Ready for a Feast! Countdown to a Delicious Debut Novel

Cover of Crystal King's novel Feast of Sorrow.

It’s not often that I sing the praises of books in this blog; so many other sites do that wonderfully enough. However, this is a special occasion.  In just under thirty days, on April 25, a debut novel written by my wonderful friend, Crystal King, hits the shelves and some of us are ecstatic about it. Some of us just have to share! Feast of Sorrow is set in ancient Rome in the noble house of Marcus Gavius Apicius, a ridiculously wealthy man whose ambition to become Caesar’s culinary advisor is matched only by his appetite for indulgence. He flaunts his wealth by throwing lavish parties and capitalizes on the talents of his slaves to elevate his own status. Does it end well for him? Well, that would be giving it away. To say this is a “delicious novel” is not me being unbearably snooty. This novel centers around the … Continue reading…

Trying New Things: Putting the Shine Back on Winter

New bag and scarf modeled by me

  Most of us start the year ready to tackle goals and do new things. By March, though, some of that shine has begun to wear off and, if you’re like me, you start longing for something to freshen things up, to polish up the motivation a little. Trying new things staves off boredom and research supports that surprising and challenging your brain with new information and tasks can help fight dementia. It also helps to distract you from the long, gray days of winter (if it happens to be March and there is still a foot of snow outside your window). For all of these reasons, I have been in the mood to try more new things, some successful (and delicious) and others a work in progress. Here’s a little run-down of some of the new things I’ve been doing this month to put the shine back on my winter: 1. 5K Sundays.  January’s a … Continue reading…

The Sketch: Stirring the Sands of Time

Sketch of a friend's grandmother

The Sketch A friend of mine recently sent me a scan of a sketch I did of his grandmother in my early twenties. It blew my mind. With only the barest of memories tickling my brain, I could almost not believe it. I did that? My friend assures me: I did that. I don’t recall doing the sketch, but I remember the shading, how I struggled with it in places. OK, I conceded; I did that. Memories swirled. I recalled that I did like to sketch back then, back before talking wires and horseless carriages. I have in fact always felt drawn to it (ha – get it?) and yet, despite encouragement from family and friends, it was never something I felt confident enough to develop fully. It always remained somewhat latent, a seed dormant in the earth just waiting to be nurtured. I keep totes full of art supplies, and … Continue reading…

It’s All Good (Even When It’s Rotten)

Moose in deep snow.

It’s February. The sun is out. Dressed in shorts and sandals, children are playing in the park under the watchful gaze of parents who sun themselves on chaise lounges or towels placed on the grass. Bicyclists ring their bells as they pass walkers on the trail. An ice cream vendor hawks his delicious confections nearby. This is how I imagine it anyway, this February so far away. It’s all about perspective, you see, for this might be the picture in Sydney, Australia, but here, in the northern hemisphere, we’re up to our eyeballs in snow and ice. Our landscape is two colors: blackish-green and white. So much white. We wake up in the morning dreading the commute to work, the new snow to plow, and the extra ten minutes it takes to suit up in fifteen layers to go outside. Ah, wouldn’t it be lovely to just slip on some … Continue reading…

Idaho: A Country Mouse Explains Why

  Wouldn’t the world be kinda dull if we all prized the same things? Well, for starters we’d probably die off as a species but, before that, I imagine we’d all be bored out of our minds. Say we all wanted to live in the city, so we made the world a massive metropolis and the only green space to be found was manicured by city park officials. Or, we all drove the same car, believed the same politics, had the same religious beliefs, and watched the same television shows. Nobody baked oatmeal cookies because everybody wanted chocolate chip and that’s what we all ate, every darned day. Pthpthew (that’s me trying to spit this particular image out of my mind like it’s a bad peanut). I don’t know about you, but I think “boring” is an understatement. As cliche as it is to say, variety actually is the spice of life. So, when it … Continue reading…

Monthly Accountability Challenges: An Invitation

Hand weights, calendar and pen

Who wants to read another post about New Year’s Resolutions?! Not me! I’m sick of this self-improvement B.S.! There. That got your attention, right? It does seem that a lot of people are pretty tired of talking about New Year’s Resolutions and goals. Social media sites filled up this week with “Don’t mess with perfection” posts and photos of blank lists with “To Do: 2017” at the top. I get it. I write a lot about goals and sometimes even hear myself saying, “You’re not writing about goals again, are you?” Yes, self. Yes, I am, so hush it. But, first, Happy New Year!  As January unfolds, this is the perfect time for reflection. We cast our minds back over not just the previous year but over our lifetimes. We sing “Auld Lang Syne,” and we may even tear up a little. Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind? … Continue reading…

Reuniting K9: A Happy Story

A couple of weeks ago, I was driving home, really looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening. As I puttered along the county road, I went around a curve and saw a small black lab standing smack-dab in the middle of the pavement. Cars were coming from the other direction, swerving around him, and he just kinda stood there like he was thinking, “Cars are neato!!”  He wore no collar and I could tell immediately that he wasn’t your typical country dog. He just looked a little too much like he was absolutely drunk on freedom. I pulled over and rolled down my window. Bounding up to my car, he jumped up to say hello. Wiggling and delighted to meet me (which is awesome for my self-esteem, by the way), he was one of the friendliest dogs I have ever met, an absolute love. Well, I couldn’t just leave him in … Continue reading…

A Snowball’s Chance: Annual Goal Check-In

It’s that time of year again. Early December. Thanksgiving has passed. We are full of pie and gratitude. If you’re like me, now is the time to take another look at that Goal List from January to see if there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of completing any of the goals by the end of the year. (Shuffle papers, mumble, long pull on wine glass…) Folks, it’s not looking good. Despite that I’ve successfully rocked the monthly accountability challenges that I do with my friend, Patrice, I don’t seem to have a handle yet on three of my four major annual goals. Here’s how it’s going… 1. Read 30 books. “Readers make better thinkers,” they say, and I’m trying hard to be a critical and creative thinker. Normally this goal would not be a problem. However, this year I had a lot going on that distracted me from my daily … Continue reading…

If You Can’t Say Something Nice: One Writer’s Leap From the Backspace

The Backspace key on her keyboard was so worn, the “ksp” was completely missing. She called it the “Bacace” key, and she liked to say it in fake Italian accent. Bah-KAH-che. She had no idea if “bacace” really was an Italian word or what it meant. She just liked the sound of it. Bah-KAH-che. And it had served her well. For her, writing was the only way she could form words. Get her in a room of people where opinions and ideas were flying, and she felt like running. Her tongue would seize. Anything she knew about the subject would scatter like disturbed seagulls in a city park. Her mind would flee. Her words would become tangled. But writing was better. With writing, she could backspace her formed words and reform them if they didn’t quite say what she wanted, or sound how she wanted them to sound. She could … Continue reading…

The Things We Keep

I’ve spent the evening backing up files. I don’t know why I always wait until my computer is exhibiting signs of pending terminal failure to do this. When it comes to computers, it’s like I’m a procrastinator in the league of Scarlet O’Hara, or I just feel “too busy” to do it. The funny thing is, I know that there are plenty of ways to back up my computer quickly and painlessly, but I just don’t take the time. The best way, of course, would be to do it frequently so it’s not such a chore. But in my world, “just get it done” applies more to dishes and workouts than saving files.  Isn’t one of Dante’s levels of hell in the Inferno reserved for chronic computer backup procrastinators? The tenth level, I think, and I’ve got my spot all picked out. As I skim the files in Windows Explorer, … Continue reading…