Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How Poetry Month Works at Farm and Lit

Here’s how it’s gonna go: November is novel writing month and with April as poetry month, the challenge is a poem a day for thirty days. Sound exhausting? It is, but totally worth it. Writing every day can be useful in shaking something loose. I was never as productive poetic- and flash-wise as I was in college when I did a portfolio, something like 120+ pages of completed work in 90 days. I was exhausted by the time I finished, but it was a GREAT experience and I learned a lot in a short time. Try it out here. And don’t just feel bound to poetry, flash works too.

So every day will have a new poetic form and anything else that’s going on that I feel needs writing about. :) I’ll post some of my work and feel free to write and post your own, at your own risk of course, internet copyright being what it is. Included in my regime is The Portable MFA and a condensed course of the eight-week poem deal outlined there. Like I need more work, but hey, I’m a glutton for punishment and workaholic besides.

Some valuable resources for poetry include:
Poetic Asides
and other resources I’ll cite as we go along.

And yes, rap music is a type of poetry. So check this out. Funny as hell. “I’m awesome.” Sorry for going crazy with the videos lately. I’m addicted.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

News From the Congo

I'm not much for blogging on news, but here's something that came through my inbox that I had to pass on.

LRA “Makombo massacre” of over 300 Congolese in December 2009 brought to international attention

Makes the health care thing look pretty small, doesn't it? 300 people would have been about half the population of the town I grew up in. Imagine if we lived in these conditions. It reinforces my humble opinion that government needs to pare back to what's really important, not money and lifetime cushy jobs, but analyze what their job really means: serving the people and setting a precedent for behavior. That is the role of leaders after all. Look at Beowulf, the poem and the man a complete code of behavior. I'd like to see someone, anyone, in politics now go slay a dragon.

Pretty Cool

Listen up all you readers out there :P

Monday, March 29, 2010


J and I were talking over supper one night (and yes, by Family Guy standards, I’m old as I say supper and davenport) but we were talking about the choices people make in life and how easy is boring (in my opinion) and hard is just like easy, only before removing all the hard parts. J argued that then hard isn’t hard but in fact easy. Hmm. Not sure I agree. Is it that easy to remove the hard parts?

I’m a firm believer that the wrong decisions, the things that don’t flow easy, the trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, are the hard decisions because the right ones, no matter how hard, will feel right in a way that nothing else does.

I started reading The Art of Happiness and the Dalai Lama calls happiness a discipline, a constant process of “identifying those factors which lead to happiness and those factors that lead to suffering. […] one then sets about gradually eliminating those factors which lead to suffering and cultivating those which lead to happiness.”

Easy huh? I’m not Buddhist, but that doesn’t mean I ignore a good point when I see one.

Happiness is as easy once the hard stuff is removed, once the hard work is done and carefully attended to. But having left the garden to go to seed, so to speak, I imagine the process harder, even painful, a required pruning that aches but heals cleanly, leaving the plant, or person, stronger than before. I suppose the first step is to identify these things which make us happy or suffer, and use firm discipline to focus on one and eliminate the other. FYI: happiness does not equal pleasure. Rather, it’s an innate peace and satisfaction, something perhaps vague and indefinable in all of us. It’s reaching out, connecting with people and the world around us, being creative and outgoing, not materialistic and selfish.

I leave you with those questions: What makes you suffer? What makes you happy? Make a list. I made mine.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Male Brain

Check this out from CNN.

Love, Sex, and the Male Brain

So, out of curiosity, who knows what the job market is like in Portland, Oregon?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Top 5 Sick Tips

It’s been declared Out Sick Week at my house, as MJ was down with some bronchial thing and Dad with fever and coughing. I escaped with just a horrible cough that sounds like I’m coughing up pieces of my lungs and so far J didn’t get it at all. So we developed some tips for illness, since everyone seems to be coming down sick this year.

1) Plenty of rest and fluids. Preferably non-alcoholic but a equal-parts mix of whiskey, honey, and lemon never hurt one’s throat or sanity.

2) If one person in the house comes down sick, move out. Immediately. Do not pass go. Do not take your shit with you, just leave.

3) Don’t let one sick person bring you down. If the sick person asks to be thrown in the fire, do it. It’s sterile, humane, and if you live next to a plowed field, ashes leave no evidence. This is your health we’re talking about. Be proactive!

4) Repeat step 1 as often as ness…nec… ness’ary. :)

5) Don’t chew the AirBorne tablets.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Relax. Garden. Repeat.

It’s that time of year again. Yeah, I hate the time change too, but it means the vernal equinox is coming and according to the Farmer’s Almanac, at least for our area here in Michigan, the moon is favorable for starting seeds indoors. I’ve already done an article on how to start seeds, so this is more of public service announcement.


People seem to get awful particular about their grass and gardens. Here I think it relates to the short growing season. Dad saw someone mowing lawn two days ago! Hello, people, it’s March. No sun, no glass. That simple. The 50-plus degree mark gets people crazy this time of year. Anyway, my point is, if your garden does turn out like you want it to, so what? Is it really the end of the world if your row of peas isn’t straight north and south? Or east and west? Or something resembling a line at all? Of course not.

Gardening teaches us how to bend, not just at the knees, but inside. If I had to have a perfectly neat garden, I’d be miserable. The pressure would be too much. If I had to keep it perfectly weeded, perfectly manicured, perfectly perfect, I’d probably need to be put in a farmer’s insane asylum somewhere where I could play with toy tractors and plant pretend corn on the sofa cushions. Forgoing any expectation of perfect and aspiring to happy, healthy plants frees me and allows me to sit back and enjoy the time I spend in the garden, talking to the plants and soaking up the sun.

So if you can’t be happy without a perfect garden, I’m sorry. Go to it and may the force be with you. But if you’re ready to dig in and be messy, worry less about perfection and more about production. My garden is a working garden. It produces much of the produce we need for the year. Is it neat? Fairly. I mean, we keep all the potatoes with the other potatoes and all the squashes together. Is it manicured? Hell no. I got cucs reaching out to touch the lawn mower and chickens circling the fence looking for garden scraps. But it produces for us. We take care of the soil and the plants, treating them with fertilizer and water, a kind word here and there, and they, in turn, take care of us. It’s a give and take.

Learn to bend, to work with, not against, the world around you. Learn to garden.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sex, sex, sex

I subscribe to several mailing lists, from authors I like as well as, writing websites, and some erotica. When the Oysters and Chocolate mailing arrived, weekly advice on things sexy, it inspired me to do a top five fav erotica sites. And I mean erotica, not porn, since erotica doesn’t have the pop-ups. :)

1. Oysters and Chocolate – It’s fun and sexy with categories of stories from vanilla to dirty martini.

2. Libido – Fiction, toys, movies, all things erotic in one place

3. Clean Sheets – classic

4. Susie Bright, author of How to Write a Dirty Story. If you want to learn to write erotica, she’s a great place to start.

5. Jasmine Jade – e-book erotica for your very own.

Check ‘em out and have fun! That’s what it’s all about.

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day

I spent mine in a milking parlor, but here's some ways to celebrate the Irish holiday on the farm.

How to Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day on the Farm

1. Wake up and greet the day with enthusiasm. It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Salute the chickens with green beer and have some cereal. Milk or beer on cereal optional.

2. Go out to check the farm. Stop periodically, or every few steps, while throwing out square bales to cows to appreciate the day with a toast of green beer.

3. Walk around the farm, tutting and tinkering, sharing green beer with everyone you meet. Happy cows drink beer.

4. Lunch: more green beer.

5. Go to let chickens out and count eggs. Not sure why there are double the amount of usual. Shrug and drink more green beer.

6. Go out to check fence and count cows. More calves than usual. Offer them green beer.

7. Night chores. Drop green beer, curse, and run into tractor. Rub head and wonder why the barn won’t stand still. Shut cows in chicken house to roost for the night.

8. Time to join up with friends at the pub. Ride horse into town. Seems like horse had head this morning. Sing sad Irish ballads at the bar all night. Someone might even take pity on you and sing with you. Don’t let them drown you out with the jukebox, sing it loud!

9. Ride horse home. Still headless. Shrug. Distressed mooing from chicken coop. Let chickens out early. Wonder why they have four legs. More green beer and fall asleep in the driveway.

10. Happy St. Paddy's! And kiss me, I'm Scottish. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review: The Well-Fed Writer

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less. Peter Bowerman. Fanove Publishing. 2000. 282 pages. $19.95. ISBN: 0-9670598-4-4.

Got to give kudos to this writer for sharing all he’s learned about how to make a living as a freelance writer. If you want to write professionally, this is the book to read. Commercial writing as a practical career not fiction which is a much tougher market. Way to augment fiction dreams and actually make money writing. He covers everything the commercial writer needs to know, from lifestyle to successful strategies to clients, writing samples, system to support the structure of the business, how much to charge, and delivers it all in an upbeat, if-I-can-do-it- you-can-do-it style. Lots of professional writers plug this book and for good reason. If there was ever a step-by-step guide to freelance writing, this book is it.

There are more resources at Or check out some web content sites, such as Associated Content, Suite 101, E-lance, ehow, and a ton of others. Willow Sidhe offers helpful information on her website about freelance writing online.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Food Porn

On my days off, I cook. I get four days off in a two-week period so I cook a lot. J and I made delicious veggie/hamburgers with fries this weekend and spaghetti, followed by a scrumptious strawberry shortcake. All this cooking has got me thinking, especially since J and I both agree we’ve both experienced a change in our cooking since we met each other. J’s presence has made me slow down and appreciate the food experience more than I ever have. He’s sold me on fresh garlic, the smell and texture, and adding little touches that take, say, a regular tuna sandwich with miracle whip and relish, into a taste experience with veggies, capers, a touch of Dijon mustard, quality bread; all things I never paid much attention to before. I crammed veggies and tuna together because I needed to eat more veggies, paying more attention to the food pyramid than to flavor. Such attention makes regular cooking into food porn, normally only seen on the Food channel. On the other hand, J has started cooking more, preparing real meals instead of just quick things like sandwiches, since meeting me.

Tonight I made healthy enchiladas, but didn’t use a recipe. Rather, I used several, and added my own touch besides. I cook like farm women before me. When thinking about dinner, I think, “Well I have this, this, and that. What can I do with what I have?” It’s not the mindset I encounter in many cookbooks or magazines, where they assume you keep chilies in adobe on hand. I try to run to the store as little as possible and use what I have instead of buying more. So here’s a lesson on how I cook.

It began with leftovers.

We put a lot, and I mean a lot, of food up last fall. We have carrots, spinach, peas, asparagus, all kinds of meat and veggies in the freezer that need used up before spring planting. So the goal, whatever I made, was to use up as much food as I could. I started with a gallon bag of tomato sauce. It needed cooked down. I’d processed the sauce once, but quite a bit of water remained. So I got that boiling down and browned a pound of hamburger with fresh garlic and half an onion. I added that to the tomato sauce with a vague idea of enchilada sauce, wondering all the while how much it would cook down and how in the world I’d get enchilada flavor. On that note, I went and did my workout, simmering over dinner and writing even as my pot simmered.

Unhappy with the consistency, I added a pint of frozen roasted eggplant to the mix. Anything would have worked really, carrots, celery, anything sent through the blender to add bulk. Moms with picky kids could probably disguise most or all the veggies by pureeing it and cooking it with the tomato sauce. That’s assuming the kids eat tomato sauce, but I can’t help with that. My parents basically told me “eat what we eat, or be hungry.” I ate. Seasonings for the sauce included, garlic, salt and pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. You could use chili powder too if that’s a flavor you like. Rather than use precise measure, I added a little at a time until I was happy with the flavor. You can always add spices; they’re much harder to take out.

So while the thickened sauce continued cooking, I rummaged through my fridge and pulled out my veggie arsenal. Frozen peas, asparagus, and spinach from the garden; green onion from the store; canned carrots we put up; and if my pan hadn’t been full by then, I would have added mushrooms. But my pan was so I let that cook.

I’m a lazy cook. Instead of rolling all nice and neat enchiladas, I layered it like lasagna. Putting a little sauce on the bottom of a 9x13x2 glass pan, I layered corn tortillas, then a little sauce, the veggies (I miscalculated on that layer so all the veggies went on one layer), then more tortillas, sauce to cover it all, and cheddar cheese on top. Pop it in the oven set at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and done. I cut the mess like a casserole or lasagna too and served it on top of another tortilla, just for presentation and extra something to chew on. Dad and I like ours with horseradish.

So it's not rocket science, the way I cook. Sometimes it goes good, like really good. And when it goes bad... lets just say I keep a frozen pizza around for that eventuality. J's not the only Mr. Contingency around here. It's all about creativity and having fun. Presentation and doing things by the book get played up too much. How do you think those tv chefs got to be chefs? They had a little fun, used a lot of creativity, and made up their own recipes. With a little practice, anybody can do it. And if you can rope your honey into enjoying the garlic with you, its ever so much fun. :-P Who knows? They're influence on your cooking style might just lead to some real tasty juji. 

(Jiji - pronounced JEW-gee; a name for stuff. It can be anything, fluid, vegetable, mineral, but originally it described the discharge from a cow's va-jay-jay prior to calving.)

If you’re still with me after all that, I'd like to wish Dana congratulations. Her story, "Running for Recovery," was accepted for publication by The Ultimate Runner magazine. So watch for it and good luck in the kitchen. Savor the flavor, the texture, the planning. If it’s good enough, you’ll know and cooking becomes food porn. It’s a beautiful thing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good Crochet Projects Gone Bad

I learned to crochet this winter. (Okay, enough with the Granny jokes.) Knitting gets a little slow for me at times, so crochet was a great distraction for my yarn-related ADD. I do great at little squares, practice squares. They’re not all the same dimensions, but I’m learning in fits and starts, and screw you I’m having fun. So since I have an (ah-hem) affection for stuffed animals (my room is nothing but stuffed animals and books most days), I thought I’d try to crochet a stuffed animal of my very own. It looked simple enough… and the horse I picked was so cute. So, here’s the picture of the finished project by whoever posted the pattern…

Cute, huh?

Here’s my final outcome.

Let’s look again.


Hmm. Not quite right. I’m not even sure it’s a horse. A fucked up offspring of an elephant and a giraffe, maybe? Or am I being too kind? Sigh. Oh well, back to granny squares.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Farmers Often Doubt Their Sanity

Picture this: Yours truly on an open-sided skidsteer, pushing up feed after milking. It’s dark, it’s raining, it’s a typical Thursday night. It’s also March and I’m out in my shirtsleeves pushing up feed in the wind and rain. Why? It would have been too easy to grab a sweatshirt on my way out of the parlor. And as I round the corner and take a blast of cold rain down my back, I realize that I’m so glad I’m here, right now, doing what I’m doing. Why? Not a freaking clue.

Farmers are a crazy lot. You give us a million dollars and we don’t go on a cruise, we don’t spend lavishly on a nice dinner out, what do we do? That’s right, sink it right back into the farm. Even we sit back and scratch our heads over our sanity once in awhile. But it’s involuntary. Like breathing. I think most farmers don’t really know what to do or feel comfortable doing anything else. Sure we do, often out of necessity, but working with livestock or cropping or agriculture in any capacity is almost a dark inner compulsion. You can’t not do it. Not doing it makes you feel restless and ill-at-ease, an itch you can’t scratch. Maybe that’s why when some old farmers can’t get out to the barn anymore they pass away pretty fast. It’s a connection you can’t get from anything else and the lack of it makes you diminish somehow, fade away.

Meanwhile, back on the skidsteer, cold March rain in my face, I’d like to be warm. I’d like a shower after work to be an option, not a necessity. I’d prefer the cows not kicking, shitting, pissing, bleeding, pussing, or puking (it happens) on me. But you know what? I can say “yeah I run a skidsteer in a t-shirt in the rain in March. What’s it to ya?” I can say I’ve done it.

I’m farming.

I wouldn’t be this damn uncomfortable if I wasn’t.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Check me out!

Book Review at Associated Content.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Random Wednesday

Things a farm girl can find in her bra:
Hay chaff
Manure of various species’
Pre- and/or post dip
Tomato sauce
Grease, oil, and other viscous fluids
Hair, not always her own
Cell phone
Credit cards
Chicago screws
Pry bar (small size)
Small animals (very small)
And egg yolks.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A black thumb's guide to green thumb gardening

Starting seeds for a vegetable garden in the house in the spring shouldn’t come as a stress or a chore. It’s an exciting time of year where the gardener can dig into the growing season while it’s still white (or muddy) outside.

First, start by making a list of the species and varieties of plants to go into the garden. You can start as many plants as you want, but take space and light into consideration. A southern exposure window works best, giving plants the most light during the light-retarded March and April. Keep in mind, plants get bigger and will need more space when moved from the starting medium, such as a peat pot to a plastic or clay pot, prior to planting in the garden. Starting, say thirty tomato plants, will take up a lot of space. And that’s not even counting the eggplant, peppers, herbs… It’s easy to get overexcited. Keep space in mind.

Second, order seeds, either from a seed catalog or buy them directly from the store. The store is more convenient, but they might not offer the variety that a seed catalog will carry.

Third, gather supplies. You’ll need enough peat pots and sterile soil to start your plants. Sterile soil refers to pathogen-free soil, which basically means clean peat or starting soil, not what’s available in the yard. A sturdy tray to hold the starts and water also comes in handy. Once the starts move from starting medium to a pot, prior to finding their final home in the garden, you might need a large tray beneath all the pots to protect your flooring and furniture. Ideally, everyone could have a sealed outdoor greenhouse, but not everyone has such a luxury. Plants need a lot of water, especially if you use the Jiffy Peat Soil Starter Plugs or something similar. A half inch of standing water is normal for seed starting and you don’t want muddy water running all over the house.

Four, look at the calendar. Most plants need 4-8 weeks start prior to going in the garden. Both seed catalogs and the Farmer’s Almanac contain information specific to geographical areas. For Michigan, folklore says plant above ground plants, peppers, tomatoes, on the new moon, or as the moon is waxing, growing larger, and below ground plants, potatoes and carrots, on the full moon, or as the moon is waning, growing smaller.

Five, last but not least, have fun. It’s not about how well the garden does. If it flops, at least you got to dig in the dirt.

Further information about starting plants and gardening in general is available online:

Monday, March 8, 2010

How to safely work livestock

Farming, logging, and mining are the most dangerous occupations in the U.S. To work safely around livestock, especially cattle and horses, keep some safety tips in mind.

First, make sure the animal knows you’re there, especially if it’s a larger animal, such as a horse or a bull. Most prey animals, sheep, cattle, horses, etc have a field of vision almost 360 degrees around, but have a blind spot directly in between their eyes and directly behind them. Think of making a line down their spine. They can’t see straight out at the front of the line or straight out the back. Try to stay in their field of vision.

Move slowly. Don’t rush right up to an animal. If possible, let them come to you. Otherwise, hold out your hand, palm up, either with fingers open or loosely curled.

Be polite, but not submissive, be assertive, but not aggressive. It takes time to get used to how to move around livestock. Watch how they interact with one another. Squaring your posture and striding forward directly at the animal is considered aggressive. Less dominant animals will back down and shy away from you while more dominant animals may challenge back. Always be especially careful around animals with young offspring and intact males, such as rams or bulls. Males always feel the need to assert their dominance and mommas can interpret the wrong move as a threat to their offspring and take aggressive measures. Keep the offspring between you and its mother when working in these situations.

Don’t force the animal into a corner. Do you like being backed into a corner and forced to endure unwanted attentions? Didn’t think so. Most livestock doesn’t like that either. Use the animal’s natural sense of motion. Each individual animal has a natural “personal space” where they feel comfortable. Move into their personal space and they move away. Pressure and release. Use this if you need to administer health care or any time you’re working with animals. Use the proper equipment, such as sturdy gates, and be patient. It takes their eyes time to adjust going from a brightly lit outdoors to a dark barn. Let them take time to think.

Last, remember that they’re just animals. They’re perfectly suited to what they were adapted for. Horses were meant to flee from predators, surviving on their speed. Cattle were meant to either flee or fight predators, or both, and can be aggressive, not out of maliciousness, but because that’s what they’re evolved to do. Sheep are also meant to run from predators and have the strongest group-think mentality. In sum, think like a cow/sheep/horse/etc. Understanding the animal and its species history can help you understand their behaviors and adapt your own to suit. After all, humans are the ones with the big brains. We’re meant to adapt, not the animals.

Happy Farming!

A couple post-article thoughts: if moving a large animal, move toward their shoulder to get them to turn, at their hip and out of kicking distance to move them forward. Read Temple Grandin. Stay out of kicking distance when working. Don’t rush up on the animal. I know you want to pet the horsie, but the horsie thinks you’re trying to eat him. Approach him like a prey animal, not a Labrador retriever. A lab wants you climb all over him, a horse wants to be left alone. Kindness tempered by firmness and good observational skills will take you far when working with livestock.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I've joined twitter, for all that it sounds like a sex toy. Maybe I've just got Bob and Tom and Twatter on the brain. :-) so its available at @axieb. Mostly just the goofy shit we say at work. Might develop into micro-fiction or something or flop who knows.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Critters (that's critique, not creatures) and Critters (creatures, not crits)

If you write sci-fi/fantasy/horror and haven’t joined yet, where have you been? It is the place online where writers can connect and get quality reviews of their writing. And it’s free! The system is kind of a pay it forward set up. You register, review people’s work, keeping up a review per week or so to stay in good standing, then post your own work for critique. Simple! And it’s amazing how helping others also helps you. Not just in an altruistic sense (I’m an only child, I don’t do altruism), but in your own writing. Seeing the mistakes and stuff that doesn’t work over and over in other people’s work can make you a stronger writer when you recognize the same pitfalls in your own writing.

It’s another cloudless, beautiful day here in Michigan. The snow is melting, the birds are singing… actually they’re crows, but I’m not picky. We actually saw a pair of Bald Eagles souring over our barn the other day. I’d never seen a pair before and Dad hadn’t ever seen any this far south.

At first I said to Dad that it was a hawk flying over. He came out and looked and said the wingspan was too wide for a hawk at that distance, and it’s too early for vultures… Just then, one dipped, we saw it wasn’t a hawk at all, but the white head of a Bald Eagle. SO AWESOME!!! One wheeled above us, very high, riding along the neighbor’s fence line. Then I saw the other one, almost out of Dad’s vision, which is amazing since his is better than mine. The second one was higher, just a speck, but similar in size, at least from our vantage on the ground.

So a pair of Bald Eagles, scoping out the place. If that’s not good luck, I don’t know what is. Must’ve been what made the tuna casserole so good. :) Either that or dancing in the kitchen, I’m not sure. (Aside: What happened to me? I used to be kinda cool. Now I’m all gushy-cooking/dancing with a guy I actually like? What the hell is this? I know, I know. Enjoy it Ax. And hopefully lots of other people have something similar to enjoy as well. I recommend cows. Highly.)

Was going through some old pics and found these of the Old Man.

 And of chickens...

And of the fucked up looking ram.

Yeah, the steers weren't sure about him either. He kept trying to hump them.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tuna Casserole

Tuna casserole last night. YUM! It’s a Barnes family recipe, though it could have come off the back of the cereal box, I’m not quite sure.

Bag or half bag of cooked egg noodles

two cans tuna

mayo or miracle whip

½ c. milk or just eyeball it for moisture as this recipe is very forgiving

cream of mushroom soup or celery or hell whatever cream soup you want, though
chicken clashes with the tuna, I have to say


red or green pepper

peas, celery, mushrooms, whatever veggies you want, frozen spinach even works well in this

Salt, pepper, a touch of cayenne and garlic power

Mix all together and make sure is a good consistency

Top with cheese, I use cheddar, but parm works, or motz-cheddar mix, whatever you like. (Maybe this is why I can make the same dish but it never tastes the same twice!)

Put in pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

J made fried taters to go with, which were excellent. We’re gonna get fat together I swear. :) Problem with having two good cooks who like to eat in proximity to each other. Valentine’s Day was obscene. Fake-baked eggplant parmesan ziti, anti-pasta and banana-strawberry dessert. We cooked all day. Actually a really fun time. Gotta love culinary adventures with your honey! :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Snow on the ground, garden in mind

Dad, MJ, and I sat down this weekend to make the seed order. So great when it’s all snowy outside to think of things green and growing. Even got J. excited about plants. (FYI, using initials and nicknames since I haven’t asked these guys if they mind me writing about them.) The garden looks like it’ll be bigger than last year, more potatoes and onions, and we have plans to store them better. Lost a lot of onions and potatoes due to poor storage plan.

We ordered a food dehydrator, which I’ll review when we start using it, and I’m looking forward to using. I’ve got extensive herb garden plans this year since I like mixing my own teas, for headaches and stuff, and they should dry well in this dehydrator. We’ll see.

Dad even agreed to plant horseradish so we can cook our own. Maybe we can grill some hot peppers in the house while we’re at it since both tend to blind you with the fumes. (Yes, that was sarcasm :) We didn’t order any flowers, though they were tempting. But I kill flowers with a dirty look. J and I decided our flower selection would be crazy since we’re both drawn to the unusual and exotic. Absolutely nothing would match. Feng Shui help us if we ever decorate a house together.

Winter dragging a little on the farm, especially after this last snow storm. My car gets stuck if a fat guy sits on it, so the slush wreaks hell on it. Getting tired of getting stuck at the end of the driveway and Dad getting tired of pulling me out. At least last night it was still light out and not three in the morning with me just getting back from the bar and after-party at a friend’s house.

The cows aren’t complaining though, at least mine aren’t. Dairy cattle always complain. My cows, all 29 or 30 of them, we can’t ever get an accurate count for some reason, luxuriate on a hundred acres of corn stalks, and think they’re the luckiest cows on the planet, acting like range cows in Nebraska or something.

I’ve had a few opportunities to take classes this winter. Both Allena Tapia’s Get Pad to Read through LCC and Annie’s Project put on by the Clinton County Extension Office have been great resources. More on both later. For now, I need to keep a forward momentum. Worked until 3 a.m. last night and up before 8. Coffee so wearing off.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Book Review

Sexy/Dangerous by Beverly Jenkins, HarperTorch, Nov 2006, 343 pages, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-06-081899-9

Two Rottweilers and a gun. What more could a girl want? In this romantic thriller, those are all the good things in life, at least until Maxine “Max” Blake, ex-marine and ex-cop with the attitude to prove it, meets scientist Dr. Adam Gary. He’s designed a top-secret world-revolutionizing piece of technology; she’s the government agent sent to protect him from those who seek to kill him and steal his work. A South African terrorist group in particular has their scope locked on Adam’s prototype with the intent to use it in acts of terrorism to restore apartheid South Africa. But Adam doesn’t want her protection and Max is determined he’ll get it; come broken water pipes, a mouthy assistant with marriage mind, a house falling to chaos, or sharpshooter snipers.

Through home cooking and great, long legs, Max slowly wins Adam over, as he wins her own himself. But after two divorces, Max isn’t looking for anything serious, even if the long, sweet lovin’ blows both their minds. Max isn’t sure she wants to give up The Life, swatting mosquitoes in third world jungles, taking out bad guys, that’s what she lives for. And Adam only wants to research and design, not be tied down, even by some fine lookin’ sistah. Especially one as dangerous as Max, a spook, and a killer. But Max’s first priority is to keep Adam alive long enough for either of them to admit what they have goes deeper than just between the sheets.

From high-amped car chases across the state of Michigan to the White House, Sexy/Dangerous is hot from first page to last. Jenkins’ style and sense of pacing makes the story feel like visiting with your best girlfriends and riding along with James Bond all at once. Sexy/Dangerous ties into Jenkins’ previous work, The Taming of Jessi Rose and A Chance At Love, as well as the companion book, Deadly Sexy, featuring Max’s sister, JT, another addition to Jenkins’ string of strong-willed woman loving men who prove worthy of them.

Guess who's back? (Back again?)

I took a, what? several months long hiatus to “reinvent myself” as a friend of mine would put it, but guess who’s back

(back again, shady’s back…anyway…)

with farm tales, short how-to posts, maybe some writing tips, recipe successes and disasters, book shout-outs and reviews, knitting and crochet disasters, and the occasional old-fashioned all-around rant, most days of the week? At least, that’s the idea. :)

So, for those of you who don’t know me (and a sorry to those who do), I’m a Michigan writer and farmer; I milk cows (not mine), read voraciously, and spend way too much time in the barn.

I want to include some book shout-outs. It’s not like Stephen King needs any more publicity, but I finished reading his Dark Tower series the other day. Loved it! Must read for anyone who loves western/sci-fi/horror. At the other end of the spectrum is Beverly Jenkins. Needed a break from the sex and violence I tend to write and read and found it in her books. I’ve read Sexy/Dangerous, Deadly Sexy, and just received Captured in the mail so looking very forward to that. Every book is like visiting with my favorite girlfriend. I got to see Beverly speak at a reading in Jackson last year, along with Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, and have been as impressed with her books as I was with her. A great all around package. And for the record, I hate romance. That says a lot for her style and characters.

Well it was a long night in the parlor. Cows worked good and it wasn’t too cold. But I’m whupped after a writing most of the day and five-mile jog. Will wrap it up here now by saying it’s good to be back.