Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Romancing the Stone Remake?

One of the iconic romantic comedy movies of our time is Romancing the Stone, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as Jack T. Colton and Joan Wilder.

Scenes from the movie are imbedded in our psyche. We, romance writers, see them and discuss Joan and Jack's relationship at Romance Writer's of America conferences. It is this winning combination of hero and heroine that we hope to recreate with a new twist in every one of our books. Joan's sultry voice. Jack's brass balls.

Who wouldn't want to be the published romance author, Joan Wilder, writing on her typewriter, complete with earphones to block out noise from the NYC streets? The loyal sister willing to go to any lengths, even to Columbia, to save the one she loves.

Enter Jack T. Colton. The man who doesn't know the Doobie Brothers broke up. Why he's so out of touch with civilization and relating to people that he doesn't care Joan has broken the heel of her expensive shoes. Shudder!

Everything and the kitchen sink is in this movie. That's why it works. Douglas as Jack and Turner as Joan set the bar high for RomCom. Most every comedy is graded against Romancing the Stone when it hits the big screen.

The recipe is set. Hero and heroine have the cute meet, rue the day they met, face off, fall in love and fall out of love, especially when the hero seems more like an anti-hero.

Now they are forced to survive the black moment when all seems lost. Here's where Joan discovers her own strength.

Soon she learns she can trust him, or can she? Conflicts arise. Can she and Jack overcome the odds against them so that they can race off into the sunset? Yes. But when they meet again, we are promised a wonderful beginning as Jack's boat fills the NYC street.

Bring out the crystal dish for kitty! It's time to celebrate. Easy now. Throw the dish into the fireplace. All is well in the world!

Or is it? For one, we're out of tissues. Post-its everywhere alert us to that fact. Two, Romancing the Stone and its sequel, Jewel of the Nile, have earned a great and devoted following. So it is with no surprise that a remake in the offing is causing a ruckus on Twitter.

Twitter tells it like this. Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl are slated to team up for this remake. Say what?

Now don't get me wrong. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a Gerard Butler fanatic! I have all of his movies. (In fact, I love all of his movies!) I adore Gerry! But paring the Scot with Heigl? Why not Kate Hudson, the feisty comedian? What about Penelope Cruz, Isla Fisher, or Amy Adams? Hubby suggested Catherine Zeta Jones. Many on twitter could not believe Heigl and Butler would even be considered after The Ugly Truth didn't fare well. (I loved that movie. Sigh!)

I know I'm not alone in mourning the idea. Twitter confirmed. The most important question of all... why is a remake even under consideration? Romancing the Stone will never be Romancing the Stone without Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner!

Joan Wilder? THE Joan Wilder? Let me get my little mule. ;)

Who would you suggest paring in the remake and do you think one should be made?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Ghost Walk - Huntsville

As many of you know, I love ghosts. Any opportunity to learn more about them is a treat for me. This blogs is unusually long so I apologize now but I do love ghosts.

Every Saturday morning I watch the six o’clock news with Robert Reeves on WHNT in Huntsville where he plugs his and his wife’s downtown Huntsville Ghost Tours. the link to their tours is: http://www.huntsvilleghostwalk.com/index.html. Although I didn’t really like Mr. Reeves (he seems to slant sports against anything Auburn – Grrr), I decided I wanted to go.

We arrived in downtown Huntsville around five-thirty on the Courthouse Square. The place to purchase the tickets is Harrison Brothers Hardware on the corner of Franklin and Eustis Street. Guess who sold my husband the tickets? You got it, Robert Reeves. I tried to act nonchalant, like he wasn’t some local celebrity, by browsing the displays next to the cash register. Imagine my disappointment when I noticed his hair was real, not a toupee. I had always, in ranting about his disregard of Auburn, thought he wore a toupee. First myth busted and I hadn’t even started the tour. We went outside and met his wife Jacqueline Reeves, a local author and historian. She asked us which of the three tours we wanted to take. I wanted to take the Twickenham Tour because it concerned mostly pre-Civil War era houses (I do love old houses – remember Charleston?).

The Twickenham Tour seems to be the most popular and our group of over forty people was divided into two groups. Our guide, Kevin Thompson, was a very energetic man. He teaches at the Madison County Sheriff’s department and is an active member of the Madison County Paranormal Society. He was very informative about how the tour validates its ghosts, going through the various methods they use, including sensitives, mediums and plain old research.

The first house we stopped at was the Bibb House, circa early 1800s (I didn’t see a date for the house). This was built by the second governor of Alabama, Thomas Bibb. Kevin encouraged us to take pictures of the front, saying that a lot of pictures validate the ghost. It seems that Governor Bibb gave the house to his daughter, Adeline when she married James Bradley. Mr. Bradley was a gambler who was fifty thousand dollars in debt. He made one last bet to clear his debt and ended up losing the house. Adeline didn’t know about it until some gardeners arrived and began pulling out the flowers – they said the new owners didn’t like these flowers. She packed up and left the mansion. The ghost is probably Mr. Bradley. The medium talked to the ghost about “losing everything” and that “you can read about it in the Repulican (Huntsville newspaper of the time).” The medium said the ghost was full of shame and loss.

Front porch of The Bibb House

The second house, the VanValkenburg house, hasn’t been validated but Kevin seemed to like the guy/ghost. At the back of the house, a medium picked up on a guy, dressed in actor’s clothes and heavy makeup, who said he came back to Huntsville because “you love me here.” Seems the ghost wouldn’t tell his name, only saying he was Sir Thomas Moore.

The VanValkenburg House. I could live here...

Next we went to the house of Dr. Fearen (I don’t know how to spell his name). He was a well-known and beloved doctor in Huntsville prior to the Civil War. Kevin said that Dr. Fearen was the man who came up with drinking quinine for malaria (I’m not sure about this but the doctor was a researcher). Any way, during the War, Fearen was one of twelve men on the Confederate Council. A group of locals, known as the Thunderbolts of the Confederacy, were making guerilla attacks on the occupying Union troops. To stop this and to learn the identity of the Thunderbolts, the Union soldiers came to Dr. Fearen house and demanded he tell them. He refused and he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. The medium said the ghost on the front porch kept saying “I’m not gonna do it.” Well Dr. Fearen didn’t do it and he went back into his house. (As an aside, I met Dick Cheney in this house a few years ago. It’s a nice house with a lovely back garden.) At another house we stopped at a little later on Cruse Alley, we found out that Dr. Fearen’s neighbor, John Hunt Morgan, was one of the leaders of the Thunderbolts of the Confederacy. Gee, wonder what the doc thought about that?

The Fearen House

Next we stopped in front of the Samuel Moore house, circa 1826, and Kevin told us to remember the front.

The Samuel Moore House

We walked down to the next house, the McDowell House, circa 1848. It seems Mr. McDowell got the house plans from Dr. Moore because he loved the way the house looked especially the lovely columns on the front. He wanted to build his house just like it. Mr. McDowell went off on an extended trip and when he came back to his new house, they had built it backward on the lot. The lovely front porch was at the back and the back porch was at the front.

The McDowell House

Any way, across the street there is a ghost who sits in the front parlor of the George Harris house, always moving a chair to the center of the window. The medium said the ghost’s name was Derek Miller. Derek told the medium, after repeated attempts to get the ghost to talk, that he didn’t die (died 1923) here but he returned because he wanted the McDowell house. When asked why he was haunting the Harris house instead of the McDowell house, Derek said “I didn’t earn it.” The ghost went on to tell him about the bonus he was to earn for selling for the Stephens Tool and Die Co. and the car he was going to get. Kevin confirmed all this information from the Stephenson company which now only sells shotguns. I’m with Kevin on this one, though the McDonald house is lovely, it is nothing compared to the front of the Moore house. Poor little man. Why did he love it so? The owners of the Harris house say he keeps that chair in the front parlor so he can stare at the house across the street.

The George Harris House where poor Derek sits...

The William Pope Mansion, sitting on a hill overlooking the old section, was our next stop.

According to Kevin, there is a big black man there who told the medium to “be quiet, she’s sick.” The man said his name was “Tune” and he was sold to the Popes by the McCauleys because he beat a woman and made her lose a baby. Kevin said that the McCauleys’ records verify that happened. There are other ghosts on the grounds who wander saying “The Man is a Thief.” William Pope, through unscrupulous dealings, stole the land from John Hunt. Pope named the neighborhood “Twickenham” for his English roots. He built the house in 1814. The townspeople made an outcry and named the entire town after Mr. Hunt, hence “Huntsville.”

Just around the corner we stopped at the Cox House, circa 1823. Kevin told us to note how elongated the windows were. The house’s first floor had fifteen foot ceilings and the second had fourteen foot ceiling, much taller than others of the day.

Joshua Cox, one of the disgruntled citizens of the town, built the house directly in front of Pope’s mansion to block his view. Pope, in his nefarious ways, stole the house from under Cox. Instead of tearing it down to get his view back, Pope left it standing, saying Cox built it in spite but he would never live in it. The house stood as a warning to others – don’t mess with Pope. The medium said that Cox stands on the front porch, telling people to “Come in or he will see you.” The ghost also says “He’s a thief.” The ghost’s name is Joshua and he lives in the house now.

Directly down from the Cox House on a corner of Franklin Street we stopped. According to Kevin, David Todd (brother of Mary Todd Lincoln) had a store there. The medium picked up on a man ranting “How dare you touch me. I should command!” There were also feelings of inability to breathe, maniacal thoughts and blades stabbing everywhere. Early in the Civil War, Todd was given command of a POW camp, a job he hated. He drank a lot and started issuing strange commands. One thing he did, that was definitely crazy and evil, was to run through the barracks with all lights extinguished, stabbing the prisoners with a sword. He also took the dead body of a Union officer and sat him on Todd’s front porch to rot. The Confederates decommissioned him (big surprise) and sent him to Huntsville. Todd married a widow who owned a store there on Franklin. Todd contracted tuberculosis and was treated by a Union doctor before he died. Guess that was why he kept saying “How dare you touch me!” The Todds seemed to be a strange lot…

Our last stop was an undocumented case about a little girl named Mary Ann Rogers, who stayed in the Constitution Village area. She told the medium that no one paid her any attention. She said that every year when they had Santa there, she would wait her turn to see him and he would ignore her. So, to get attention, every time the musicians played she would cut there power. That has been documented.

I did enjoy the walk although I think it relied a bit much on mediums and sensitives without first-hand accounts. It was interesting with regard to the history of Huntsville. I would recommend this tour because the people were nice.

Oh, and did I say? As I was leaving, I told Mr. Reeves I watch him every morning but I had a bone to pick with him about his treatment of Auburn (you know me- I have to say my mind). His wife laughingly agreed with me when he started to protest. I will say this, he was definitely a gentleman and had a lot nicer demeanor than I expected. Second myth busted. He said he didn’t realize he did this (cue his wife laughing again). I told him I would email him the next time he did something. He smiled and said fine. We’ll see…

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rules for Football Watching

The year I was ten, during an Alabama football game, my uncle shot his television with a double barrel shotgun. I wasn't present for this but I did see the aftermath and hear the story firsthand. It wasn't that his team was losing. In fact, Alabama didn't lose any games that year. It was the TV that made him mad. Back then, televisions weren't all they could be or would be. Do you remember how the picture would sometimes roll and someone had to get up and turn a knob to stop it? This was what my uncle's TV was doing, except every time he got within two steps of it, the rolling stopped. Then, as soon as he settled into to his football watching chair again, it started up again. Now, he'd been hunting that morning and planned on cleaning his gun while he watched the game. That television misbehaved one too many times and, well, the rest is history. Good thing he lived out in the country and was home alone. But even if it had been his weekend to have my cousins, they wouldn't have touched the gun. They understood the rules of gun safety.

Clearly my uncle could have used some Rules for Football Watching.

General Rules
  • Do not be a bandwagon fan. The state of Alabama has produced two national championship teams in the last two years and I've seen people on both sides, who I didn't know knew what a football was, jump on the goodtime bandwagon. If you can't be a fan in the bad times, don't tell me about it in the good. It's not attractive.
  • Do not badmouth somebody else's team in front of them unless they start it.
  • If you know just enough about the rules of the game to make you dangerous, keep you mouth shut.
  • Don't whine or make excuses when your team loses. Most of the time, a team loses because they get outplayed. Accept it and love them anyway.
  • Don't assume that because I am female, you need to explain to me what just happened or is about to happen. Trust me, you do not.

When At a Game

  • Don't stand up in front of me to take pictures or film when no one else is standing up. Go to the sideline.
  • On the other hand, don't expect me to keep my seat when the wideout is about to take to the house and 99.9 per cent of the crowd is on their feet. At the high school stadium in my town, there's a place down front for wheelchairs. If you can't stand up, go down there.
  • Don't yell at the officials. Sure there's some homecooking from time to time, but keep you mouth shut. It won't help and you might get thrown out of the stadium.
  • Don't expound on how your kid should be in. It just might be barely possible that the coach knows a little more than you do. And I promise you he wants to win. His job depends on it. This is big boy territory and not a pony ride at a birthday party. Not everyone gets a turn. After a certain age, if you think letting every kid play is more important than winning, you are hooked up with the wrong sport. It isn't going to happen.
  • Don't leave until the game is over, regardless of the score. It's disrespectful to the team.
  • Don't insult the band or the cheerleaders in front of their parents. Wait until you get home.

When Watching on Television With Other People

  • It's best not to mix fans. It just is. But if you find yourself in the minority, you need to be quiet about it. If it's my television and my house I am simply not going to listen to anyone cheer against my team. You can have a plate to go, but you can't stay.
  • If you are not a football fan at all but go to a watching party for the fun of it, don't assume you can sit by me and tell me about the shoes you brought that morning. I don't care.
  • By all that is or every will be Holy, do not call a fan of the team your team is beating to gloat until the game is over. Trust me. No matter how snide, arrogant, and rude they have been. Wait. It could still go bad. I've never done this myself, but I stopped Oldest Friend from doing it. In the end, she was grateful. My daddy used to always say, "Two minutes is a long time to play ball." Boy, is it.
  • Yell at the officials all you want.
  • Yell at the coach all you want.
  • Yell at the ESPN guys all you want.
And last but not least, Don't shoot the TV.

I am sure some of you have something to add. Let's hear it!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recipe Friday--Football Stuffed Mushrooms

Here's what I like about summer: watermelon, flip flops and . . . well, mostly just watermelon and flip flops and you can even get decent watermelon in the winter at Publix now. I'm sick of summer. My linen clothes feel wilted—like me. My Yellow Box flip flops feel shabby, though they really aren't. Sick, sick, sick to death of being hot. Sick, sick, sick to death of my summer clothes, shoes, and television shows. Here's what I like about fall: football, cooler weather, Halloween, sweatshirts, school supply displays, flannel pajamas, football, turning leaves, chili, Thanksgiving, gourds, Indian corn, football, school wrapping paper fundraisers, homecoming at the high school, new seasons of Castle, Bones, The Big Bang Theory, et. al. football, football, football.

So, I am done with summer even if the calendar and everybody else in the country says it isn't true. Even if summer may not be done with me. This Recipe Friday is the:

First in a Series of Ever-How-Many-I-Decide Football Food Recipes.

I would call it Tailgait Food but I don't actually tailgate. First, I don't have a tailgate. Second, I've never seen a game in person that I had not rather see on a big TV. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know all about "the experience". I don't care about "the experience". I care about the game.

Anyway. When Mr. and Mrs. Cutest Girl In The World are not actually at the game, those who are lucky to be loved by them gather in their media room to watch, drink, eat, and cheer. Cutie Pie loves these stuffed mushrooms and I love to make her happy. To be honest, I just make them by flying by the seat of my pants, but I am going to try to give you actual amounts. Take some liberty. I do. And, before we start this, I might as well go ahead and tell you there are a couple of things I do that would get me excommunicated from Le Cordon Bleu and thrown off the set of any Food Network show, which works out since I have zero desire to be either place. But you do what you've got to do. First, I do not wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel. I put them in a colander and rinse them until I am satisfied they are clean. Second, though I do not buy the stuff in the green can, I do not grate Parmesan cheese. I buy it in the pouch or tub ready to go. Sorry, Julia. I've got a game to watch.

Over and out. Roll Tide.

Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 2 pounds of white mushrooms, cleaned
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • One large onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 pound roll of sausage (hot or not)
  • 2-3 cups Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing mix
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½-1 cup chicken broth, give or take

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Clean mushrooms, remove stems, and chop the stems fine. Sauté onion in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems. Cook until the stems shed their liquid and it evaporates. Remove to a bowl. In the same skillet, crumble the sausage and brown. Mix with veggies. Add stuffing mix. The amount you use will depend on how meaty you want them. Add cheese. Add enough broth so that the mixture will hold together in little balls when you compress it. You don't want it to be soupy. Put a little ball of stuffing in each mushroom cap. Place on greased sheet pan and bake for about 15 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked and stuffing is a little crispy.

I usually have stuffing left. Just freeze what's left because next week is coming. Thaw it and stuff a new batch of mushrooms. I don't have any advice about what to do with the new stems.

What's your favorite football food?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Boys of Fall

Okay, I have resisted as long as I can; I find that now I will burst if I don't blog about football season starting!  I am going to see Precious Angel in the first real game of the season tomorrow night!  I am soooooo excited to be heading back to the Friday night lights!  

 I have new sassy hair for football season.  I have gotten my team colors flip flops out and fluffed them.  They are made of 100s of little strips of fabric that dance and wave every time something good happens on the field or when the wind hits them--whichever comes first!  I have an outfit already laying out ready to put on Friday. I am considering going to get my toenails painted red and black which are the school colors.

These are the rituals that I have done for decades to welcome one of the best parts of fall. Wow, that makes me sound really old! I have always loved going to football games.  Unlike Pantster, I don't have a lot of memories of when I was very young but one of my very first memories is of going to see a high school football game on Friday night with my daddy.  We went with his best friend and his daughter who was my age. I got new shoes and a new shirt in the school colors.  It was a GREAT time, especially since my mama wasn't there so I got to eat lots of stuff from the concession stand and  run wild with other kids that we didn't even know!

Do you have any rituals that you do to bring in the fantastic season of fall?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bobbleheads Jiggle & So Do I

Testing... Testing... (Tap. Tap. Tap.) Is this thing on? It is? (Head shake answer. Is that a yes or a no, I can't tell. My head is moving too.)

My name is Kathy and I feel like a Bobblehead.

Voices in my head speak to me randomly in the shower. (Caviot: These are not psychotic but equally as distracting.) And, is always the case, they rally when I'm in a place I can't write the ideas down.
Just to prove who's in control, little worker bees buzz round shoveling coal into the cogs to keep me on task at work. While oftentimes giving me just a hint of a scene or idea I cannot react upon.
Bobbling head... bursts into cheerleader mode when family needs beckon to be addressed, the phone rings, and deadlines approach.

Little feet dance upon brain cells to convince me Bobblehead syndrome is a reaction to the inner music playing in my head. (Cue Eminem... I Need a Doctor.)

Sometimes it takes Super Girl strength to resist the minion and keep me on task when head bobbing seems to make others believe I'm agreeing to whatever they say.

Other times one must control the control freak when thoughts scatter from this subject to that, so much so that one can rarely capture a fully-shaped thought. (Ouch! I'm sorry but your whip makes me nervous! )

Gads! A call to the clergy might be in order.

Or possibly the good fairy! She might bring sweets. ;)Or a doctor to remedy said wiggle and recommend stabilization.

Bobblehead, the act of head wiggling with no apparent purpose, might be a simple lack of sleep or too much sleep or not sleeping well. What if the spasm above the neck begins and ends with rem sleep, as someone just suggested to me not too long ago? Apparently, if a person spends all their time in rem sleep, the brain never rests. Heavens, am I to believe that Bobbleheads even wiggle at night?

By George! My affliction might not stem from taking on too many tasks at once, or being chastized for not reacting to my characters' commands or not reacting to situations the way other people desire. The annoying habit of jiggle head might stem from dreaming... wanting more than you are given or worrying about never receiving your dreams at all.

Blasted shaking... perhaps a drink to ease the dizzyness?

Whatever the case may be, my head is jiggling these days on a not-so-steady neck. I've been to the chiropractor for months and can't find relief.

Always remember, when all else fails, call in a Jedi. (Works for me!)

How do you keep your head from spinning?

Bobbleheads courtesy of Bobblemaker.com where you can create a custom bobblehead of your own or someone you love as a gift.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vampires DO Exist and They are Living Among Us!

We all know one – that person who is the smartest, most intellectual person in the world and who is not afraid to tell you. It’s that person that everyone shuns because to speak a word to that person interminably traps you for hours listening to them espouse their latest accomplishments. It’s that person who is never wrong, never able to see their own faults and who NEVER listens to other people. It’s that person who, upon hearing another speak of some accomplishment, has been there, done that and has done it a whole lot better. It’s that person you must avoid at all costs or your day will suddenly become bleaker and colder…downright dismal.

I am on a rant today because of that type of person. By definition, I believe the person suffers from what is termed Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This is not a mental disease but rather a problem with personality – what makes this person function. The NPD person needs others to validate themselves at any cost. As one friend put it “She/he is just a bad person.” The disorder is pervasive, and according to the news, becoming more pervasive in American society. The disorder is not curable and most psychologists shudder when they speak of it. We all know a person who: has no empathy; only cares for his/herself; never accepts responsibility for his/her actions; is adept at blaming others (called projection); believes he/she is entitled to special treatment just because; and attaches his/her self to nice people to feed his/her ego. LJ has repeatedly termed this type of person an “emotional vampire.” She’s right - Vampires do exist, I know, I’ve seen one in action.

These vampires cruise for prey, watching and lurking in the shadows until some unwitting NICE person goes by. Then, wham, the vampire attaches like a suckerfish. The emotional vampire will then proceed to feed, bleeding the poor person dry before moving on to the next hapless victim. You have no clue that this is a narcissistic person until it is too late and you are caught in his/her web. These people usually require complete adoration, complete devotion and will not tolerate any insubordination from their “possessions” and that means you.

So what to do with these vampires? You cannot drive a stake through their hearts because, in all honesty, I don’t think you would find one. The suggestions on all the websites state “Ignore, Ignore, Ignore. DO NOT ENGAGE.” Which means, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE and don’t look back. I have to say that is harder than it sounds because these types are relentless in their pursuit of attention, good or bad. I have had to practice this time and time again but I think I am getting the hang of ignoring (as all of you know, my personality is to confront and destroy so this is hard for me). To try to correct this vampirism is kind of like beating your head against a brick wall – useless. You will never convince them that what they are doing is wrong, self-centered and, simply put, without conscience.

My next book, which is still in the thinking stages, is going to involve one of these NPD persons. I believe they make the ultimate villain/bad girl. They are never wrong. They plot and scheme, using others to get ahead. They destroy people with little or no thought. The only thing that matters is them. The real problem comes in how you get rid of them so the heroine can ultimately prevail. I don’t want my heroine to be weak and IGNORE. I want her to confront the issue and make the NPD person see her foibles. That would never happen in real life because NPD people won’t listen. I could make the villain listen but what good is that? No satisfaction. At least in fiction you can kill them…

Do you know an emotional vampire? Do you feel like a victim every time you talk to them? How do you deal with that person who knows more, has done more and will forever be better than you? I know, I can hear you say “I just avoid them” but some of these people won’t let you or you have to work with them or they are part of your family. So tell me how you get rid of them or, hopefully, make them see the light. I need fodder for my next book.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Deathbed Regrets

All my life I've heard about deathbed regrets. "If you do (not) that, you'll regret it on your deathbed!" Most of the time I don't believe it. I seriously doubt, with all that will be going on, that I am going to regret going to a basketball game in the 11th grade instead of eating dinner with my grandmother. Besides, how many people are actually awake and cognizant when they die? Let alone wailing, "I should have let my cousin have the last banana Popsicle!"

Give me a break. Or don't. I don't care. I'm still not going to live my life governed by fear of what I will worry about in my last moments.

But all of this leads to think of the things that people would never regret, even if they have plenty of time and the inclination.

No one ever regrets on a deathbed:

  • Spending money on a trip.
  • Over tipping a waitress who looks tired.
  • Buying a small gift for a friend just because.
  • Leaving a dirty floor to read a good book.
  • Leaving a good floor to read a dirty book.
  • Letting someone go first in a grocery line.

I could go on, but I'd regret it on my deathbed.

Hmm. I was actually pretty excited about this blog. I've been thinking about it for a few weeks. Now it seems lame. Oh, well. It's what I've got today.

What is something you think no one would regret?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Recipe Friday--White Trash Fusion

I have this thing I can do. When I'm with people who annoy me I can turn on automated-intermittent-nod-and-smile and go to a different part of my brain and amuse myself.

This is a skill that comes in handy. Recently I was in such a situation and the subject my brain took up was White Trash Fusion food. I don't know why. I had never thought of it before. I haven't thought much about fusion food. In case you don't know what that is, it's combining two cuisines. Mexican lasagna would be an example.

There are some things I thought of:

  • Potted Meat Ravioli
  • Spam Wellington
  • Vienna Sausage in a Port Wine Reduction.
  • Pigs' Feet Bourguignon

Before you think I'm making fun of anything, I would like to point out that there is one of those things that I would actually eat. Guess which one. What's more, at one time or another, I have eaten all of the White Trash elements, if not in the fusioned-up forms. I am who I am.

Anyway. Then, as it always does eventually, my mind turned to dessert.

  • Cornbread Pudding

Then, I thought, That's not amusing. That's a possibility.

So I set about finding a recipe. It took a bit. Most of the ones I found were savory, but I finally happened on this one with cinnamon and maple syrup. Yum. And think of the texture. It has raisins, which I like and would use. If you don't, some chopped apple or dried cranberries would be good. Come to think of it, a few pecans or walnuts wouldn't be amiss either.

I'm going to go ahead and admit I have not tested this. I was going to, but I have had a nasty, nasty summer cold. I've done good to tell The Guy to go buy some Chinese.

But I will try this. I think it will be a good ballgame food. But what's not?

Cornbread Pudding

Make a pan of cornbread. If you don't know how, use a mix or buy some at the grocery store. It comes frozen and sometimes in the bakery section. I wouldn't normally touch that stuff with someone else's ten foot pole because it has sugar in it and sugar is nasty in cornbread if you are going to eat it with beans. However, this is dessert, so go ahead.

Cool or thaw it and cut it into cubes. You will need about 6 cups.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup of raisins

Lightly butter a nine inch casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 325.

Spread the cubed corn bread on a cookie sheet and toast cornbread cubes for 15 minutes.

Turn the oven up to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the milk, cream, eggs, and maple syrup. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the sugar mixture to the liquids and mix.

Place cooled cornbread cubes in the casserole dish and sprinkle with raisins. Pour the liquid over the cubes, evenly. Let mixture sit for 15 minutes to absorb liquid.

Bake for approximately 60 minutes, until brown. The middle should be moist but set.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Typo Terror

As many of you know, Pantster and I are in the process of getting some requested work ready to submit.  We were talking last night about how difficult it can be to find typographical errors in work after you have looked the same words for months.

It is often even tougher to find missing words.  I think when our brains read they just fill in any missing words so that the sentence makes sense.  This is probably the one error that we have the most trouble with.  I think like many writers we know what we are saying so we don't notice the missing words.

I think that spell and grammar check have also contributed to make us somewhat more complacent than we once were.  I know that I  personally watch for that red squiggly line to help me spell or find words that are misspelled.  It is very helpful but not so much when I have chosen the wrong word.  The word plains, for example.  If  I am talking about a man's face the word should be planes of his face.  Of course, I guess if he was not handsome that it could be the plains of his face but generally speaking that is not the case.

What is your best tip or strategy for discovering typographical errors?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Signs Are There

Jean talked about mothers on Monday. This got me to thinking that it was time I shared on the blog what was going on in my life. You see, when my father died three years ago, my mom didn't know what she was going to do. Knowing that she has always loved to travel (former Army wife), we asked her to come live with us as we live a busier lifestyle than she did back home. Because she had two more years to go before she could retire, she continued to work before finally coming to live with us last fall.

This past year has been a learning curve for all of us. (I actually have hair!) My kids left the nest to experience the world, and hubby and I were going to be alone for the first time in, well, as many years as we've had kids. We had a good six week run before Mom moved in. Before her two cats followed, joining our two cats. If I'd been a better pirate, I would have put my foot down right away and refused to allow her to bring her furry offspring into our home. But, trying to be a good daughter, we allowed her to bring her Siamese cat and rolly-polly Tabby.

Before I go on, I'm sure I don't need to tell you that my cats, Mr. Billington and Miss Daae, were not a bit pleased with this new addition to our home. We're talking feline rioting here! Cat fights. Name calling. Smacking of paws. Jealousy! In fact, I'm surprised Pussy Galore wasn't called in to take Mom's cats out.

Sadly, rolly-polly Tabby was sick. We knew this before we took him in. His kidneys were almost gone. Should have known right away that he would not make it longer than four months in our home. He passed away after a long and courageous fight at the vets. But, Mom didn't want to leave him behind because he reminded her of my dad, nor did she want to leave her Siamese. And so, we took the blighters in. Arrrr!

In order not to sicken anyone on this blog, I'll just say that this has been a great struggle and my house has turned into a battle zone. First, rolly-polly Tabby's health declined, as well as his litter habits. Second, Mr. Billington decided (after 13 1/2 years of being the best cat EVER) to mimick the sick cat. (I leave it to you to imagine what that means and I'm still battling this on a daily basis.) The Siamese couldn't, and sometimes still can't, get along with anyone. To prove her superiority over all felinedom, she ate the carpet off the bottom of our stairs.

To remedy the Siamese's decidedly annoying habit of tearing up my house, Mom put aluminum foil across the bottom of the stairs. Well, I will say that, though that has kept her cat from devouring my carpet, anyone who enters my house will think we are the family from the movie, Signs. Yes, indeedie. Now all we need are a few half-filled glasses of water sitting haphazardly around the house. Hubby just needs to get a baseball bat at the ready so I can yell, "Swing away!" at a convenient time. (Thank God we don't have a cornfield!)

Recently someone shut the Siamese upstairs. What did she do? She tore the carpet up by the door, trying to get out. Hubby said, "Why don't we just give the cats the house?" (We cannot fix the damage until the cats are gone.)

When everyone was home for my FIL's funeral, #4 kept saying she heard a cat in the shower. A cat in the shower? That's impossible. Then the wheels started turning in my head and I thought, how in the world would that Siamese figure out how to get in my walls? After hours of searching, we discovered the Siamese in the water heater closest. She'd been there for over 24 hours. Someone had shut her up there. Sadly, she'd been without food or water for over a day. We just thought she'd hidden from our grandsons.

It's apparent that Siamese cat has never heard curiosity killed the cat. By my calculations, she's four lives down, with five to go, providing she hadn't used up any before moving into my home.

If you can make lemonade from lemons, at times like these, a more versatile beverage comes to mind, rum. And it better not be gone!

Signs. Glasses half-full. Bat at the ready. Swing away!

What have your pets done for you lately?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Opposites DON'T Attract!

There is an old saying that “opposites attract.” Do you believe it? I used to until I started looking at my characters and then at my relationship with hubby. I did a little research and found countless psychological studies that firmly state the saying has no validity. The studies do emphasize that surface opposites (such as race, religion or culture) might be the background for the saying that opposites attract. However, when looking at the core values of the individuals, the studies found the couples actually share the same beliefs. Sooo…they’re not really opposites.

I found an interesting website, http://www.how-to-change-careers.com/personal-core-values.html, which lists core values for career changes. Even though it concerned work, I used it to give me a pretty comprehensive list of personal beliefs, i.e. “core values”. I sat down with hubby and we went through them separately. Believe it or not, we came up with the same beliefs we value. A few included: success, winning, compassion, honesty, humour, independence, ambition, focus and, of course, love. That sincerely amazed me that we agree on so many things. I always thought we were opposites who had found each other. We are socially different, from different cultures and different areas of the country but our belief systems are very similar.

And how does this pertain to writing? I did the same thing with a couple of my characters and wa-la, they have the same core values – family, home, love, respect and honesty. I didn’t even realize I was doing this with the characters. I thought they were so diametrically opposed to each other that it was truly a case of “opposites attract.” Ah, such conflict or so I thought. When we are writing, I think that subconsciously we know that opposites would not end up together – there is too much stress. People who share the same belief system will make it and will stay together. I am going to use this list to keep things in mind when I write about how my characters will relate to each other and their beliefs.

So tell me: are you and your significant other “opposites” or are you of a like mind and soul? And have you ever thought about how we write our characters? Do they possess the same values? Let me know what you think.

Oh, and today is mine and my hubby’s thirty-first wedding anniversary. Geez, we’re getting old!! But we’re still having fun, after all these years…

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mama said There'd Be Days LikeThis or Laying Down the Law

Recently, my sister and I got on a tear remembering what Mama said. An aside. I'm sure you're shocked that I 'm about to get off topic.: Though we never called her Mama. She called our grandmother Mama, who we called Grandmother. We went straight from Mommy to Mother. At the time, southerners did not call their mothers Mom. Truly. The only people I knew who called their mothers Mom were in books and on television. I attribute the unfortunate and recent cultural change we've seen in the maternal moniker to the media and the influx of people who have relocated from other parts of the county.

Anyway, enough of that. Back to my mother and her directives.

In keeping with her self-imposed duty as CEO in charge of our lives, our mother spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy doing what she called Laying Down the Law. I say self-imposed because, God knows, we didn't ask for it.

This is just a sampling:

  • Know your place. Don't overstep. Don't presume.
  • Don't start. Just don't. We're not starting that.
  • It's not about you.
  • Do not horn in on a situation where you are not wanted. If those people don't want to be with you, they don't deserve your company and you can do better.
  • You tend to your own rat killing and let them tend to theirs. (Which means: Mind your own business.)
  • There is no boy worth your girlfriends.
  • Put your husband first and he'll put you first.
  • Don't you let anybody run over you. Don't start it, but take up for yourself.
  • If you think you're going out like that, you can think again. Now you go wash that face and try again.
  • No decent girl has any business out after eleven o'clock. You had better be in this house by then or that phone better ring with you on the other end with a good reason.
  • Don't contradict people.
  • You don't have to tell everything you know.
  • If you are not able to go to school/church, you're not able to do anything else.
  • Get off the phone.

What did your Mother say? What do you/did you call her?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Recipe Friday--Tomato Pie

I love tomato pie and this is the perfect time of year for it. This is a very simple version. There are some recipes out there all doctored up with puff pastry, goat cheese, bacon and basil. I'm sure they are good, if you're into that kind of thing. And I am. Well, except for the goat cheese. No. I've tried. No, again. Anyway, I like for the star of the show to be the tomatoes with Parmesan singing backup. Think of the tomatoes as Jon Bon Jovi, the Parmesan as Richie Sambora and the other ingredients as those others, whose names I don't actually know.

Tomato Pie

· 1 pie crust

· 2-3 sliced tomatoes

· 1 chopped shallot*

· 2/3-cup light mayo

· ½ cup Parmesan cheese

· dash of msg

· squeeze of lemon juice

· dash garlic powder

Slice tomatoes. Salt them and put them in a colander to drain for a few minutes. Layer tomato slices and shallot in crust. Mix remaining ingredients. Spread over top. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

*I use shallot if I have it. If not, I use most of a green onion. Barring that a couple tablespoons of regular minced onion will do.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back to School Daze

Once again, it is back to school time.  I love this time of year!  I know that there are many teachers who back to school and many more parents who love it.  I suppose both  are natural, but I always get so excited whenever I think about the fresh start a new school year gives us.

My students come to me not really knowing much about me. They are always so excited and often a little nervous about starting a new grade with a new teacher.  I am always excited to get new students to start new adventures.

This year I am changing grade levels and so I got to change rooms.  I love, love, my new room and have thanked my principal more than once for the new opportunities that she is giving me this year. My school has registration tomorrow, when I will meet some of my new students' parents for the first time.  My room is all ready with a jungle theme (Gooooo  Tigers!),  its uber cool student library (complete with reading cave), and   publishing center with a new computer and printer.  I am looking forward to a great new year!

What is your best back to school memory?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Opening Up A Can of Whoop Ass

As you know we went up to be with my FIL during and after his surgery, and then to make arrangements for his funeral. Since we were staying overnight, we went to eat at a local restaurant which celebrates the mountainous region in both decor and Appalachian merchandise. It's a great place for down home atmosphere. You can get fudge in just about every flavor, mint, pistachio, hazelnut, caramel and so forth. Which is a draw for a chocolate lover like me.

The fare at this restaurant is, of course, indicative of the south, including, pinto beans, cornbread, corn fritters, ham, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, slaw and gravy.

The owners and waiters are extra nice and offer the kind of service one wishes to find at every restaurant. There are even log cabins to rent alongside. Some of you may have already guessed what this place is. If you guessed the Smokehouse in Monteagle, TN., you were right.

I adore the Smokehouse! Our niece and nephew had a double wedding reception there many years ago. It was a grand affair with over 5 different flavors of wedding cake. Yum! (I love cake!)

But what I really love about the Smokehouse is the southern cred it brings to heart. It is there, and only there, that you can literally open up a can of Whoop Ass without worrying about saying, "Whoop Ass!" ;) (Those who know me know how hard that is for me to do with the LTC around. Imagine his chagrin when I repeated the name of the item over and over again, while pointing at the can.) Pirate!

And so as an ode to my fellow southern friends here at Okay, Listen Here. I give you the ever valuable can to whoop about, in triplet.

Not to be outdone by a can of Road Kill or Stewed & Potted Possums!

(I failed to mention that I passed on buying a can of Butt Grease or that I brought back a can of Whoop Ass for each of my blogmates.)

A disclaimer: Said can of Whoop Ass may accompany me on excursions on the road, indoors or at home where I will say "Whoop Ass" to my heart's content. Pirate!

When have you wanted to open up a can of Whoop Ass? Do tell!

This message will self-destruct when my mouth tires of saying Whoop Ass.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sitting is Dangerous for Your Health - Drat

Sitting here, typing as I work on my new novella, I realized that I have become a slug. I spend waaay too much time sitting. I recently read an article about how that affects your health and it set me to thinking. In the Huffington Post, the writer discussed studies that say diabetes, obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can be attributed to just sitting. Whoa! And there I was thinking I was doing better with eating healthy foods and losing weight. Now I have to worry about sitting?

According to the article, if you take less than 5,000 steps a day you are in danger of these diseases. If you sit more than six hours a day, a person runs an increased risk of death, more so in women. Sitting includes: sitting at a desk; sitting in a car; and sitting at a table eating. The article suggested getting up every couple of hours and moving around, taking at least 500 – 1000 steps. The object is to keep active.

I know that we writers tend to get engrossed in our stories, never moving until we finish that scene or that chapter. It shocks me sometimes when I look up and see that three or four hours have passed without me noticing that I have not moved from the computer. I need to make myself take a break whether I want to or not. Sometimes when the writing is slow, I will get up and walk around, trying to clear the log-jam of ideas. I also know that I am guilty of not exercising enough ( I make the excuse that I work around the farm but it is not the same as sustained exercise – drat). So what do I need to do? I find running boring and I don’t like to work out on machines. Can someone out there make any suggestions about working out? Do you like Yoga? What else is there out there that an old woman who’d rather be sitting can do? What do you like to do that keeps you active? Give me your suggestions.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Harry Potter and Unexpected Heroes

Spoiler Alert. If you haven't seen the new Harry Potter movie you might not want to read further.

Really, I think that spoiler alert is pointless. I am probably the only person in America and the surrounding areas who did not know what was going to happen to bring the Harry Potter saga to a close. The shame of it all. I have not read all the books. In fact, I've read only the first one and listened to the next three (unabridged) in the car. It has taken a while. I love listening to them and I plan to finish. It is going to take a while longer.

But this doesn't mean I wasn't invested in the characters, the world, and the story. In fact, I will never get over Dobby's death. I think I'm not supposed to. I have this to say about the finale: What a wonderful ending to a fabulous ride.

What I loved most were the unexpected heroes.

  • Luna—who made Harry listen when he didn't want to and pointed him in the right direction.
  • Neville Longbottom—who has always had my heart. If killing the snake wasn't enough, he made a speech that made me cry.
  • Mrs. Weasley—who had lost so much that she deserved her moment—and what a moment it was. I'm sure even Bellatrix would agree.
  • And the most unexpected hero of all—Snape. Some might say he was redeemed. I don't think so because, turns out, he never needed redemption. I want to re-read, re-listen, and re-watch so that I can look at him in a different light.

Have you seen it? Did you love it?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Haystacks from Kimberly Lang

Kimberly sent this recipe in for today with this comment:

This has nothing to do with my book other than the fact I’ve also heard these called Haystacks. There are horses in my book so is hay in my book, so I chose a recipe that sounds like it fits.


No-Bake Cookies Or Haystacks:
In a large pot, mix together 2c sugar and ¼ c cocoa.

Add ½ c milk and 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter or margarine

Stir constantly as you bring it to a boil.  Remove from heat, cool slightly, then add:

½ c peanut butter

2 tsp vanilla

3 c quick-cook oatmeal (uncooked)

¾ c raisins

Mix thoroughly and drop by tablespoons onto wax paper. Cool in fridge.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kimberly Lang Visits the Tulip Tree

We are very pleased to have Kimberly Lang visiting with us today.  Here are some comments by Kimberly about her new book to get us started.   I know everyone will be as excited as we all are to have her here and find out about her upcoming release! 

Be sure to stop back by tomorrow for a recipe by Kimberly for Recipe Friday! 

And now lets see what Kimberly has to say:

This is my first official visit to the Tulip Tree. I sometimes appear in the comment tail, but a front page spot? ~preens~ 
Thanks for having me, y’all!

So, I’m officially here to talk about my new book, The Privileged and the Damned, out this month from Harlequin Presents.  I’m very excited that this book is on the shelves.  It’s the first book in my trilogy about the Marshall brothers, and I’m totally in love with these boys.

I’ve never set out to write a series of connected books before.  I did go back once to revisit a character from a previous book, but I didn’t plan to write the second book when I wrote the first.  This time, I went in with the idea of having the same characters appear in all three books.  It was a challenge for me to set up characters for two future books without having that overshadow the story in this book, and since I fell hard for the Marshall brothers, it was tough not having them take over the entire thing! I also had to set up an entire family, with a past and present and plans for the future, which is the closest to world-building I’ve ever come. Sometimes I felt like I was trying to do way too much within such a short book.

The Privileged and the Damned is Ethan’s story.  He’s the middle brother, a bit of a playboy who falls hard for Lily, a girl who works in his grandparents’ stable who has a secret past she’s trying to escape. This story is a little more emotionally complicated than I usually write, so it was another challenge to face.

There were many times when I looked at my computer and wondered aloud if I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

In the end, though, I’m really pleased with Ethan and Lily’s story.  In December, the oldest brother, Brady, meets his match in The Power and the Glory.  And early next year, the youngest brother, Finn, brings the whole series to a close with his story (which is still so recently finished I don’t have a title or release date yet).

So, my first foray into family sagas feels successful, and I hope that readers enjoy this family and these brothers as much as I did.

Are you a fan of the family saga? Do you like getting that deep into one setting and one group of people? What about the cameo appearances of characters in the other books?

You can pop over to my website (www.booksbykimberly.com) to read an excerpt of the first chapter of The Privileged and the Damned (which contains Ethan and Lily’s first meeting. And, honestly, that’s my favorite first meet I’ve ever written.) and find out more about the Marshall family.