Writing Update

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Two Books Coming in 2020

One path is blocked, while another opens…

Wow, just as we were hitting our stride in 2020, working towards finishing writing projects and more, editing was paused because of wildfires, and then Covid-19. A global pandemic has had its way with us for most of this year and it’s been hard to move forward.

But as of today we have forward movement and I still believe that we’ll have not only TANNER’S LANDING be released this year; but, also WHEN A RAVEN PECKS OUT YOUR NORMAL — a stand-alone literary fiction novel.

I know that most folks are excited for my Scooby-Do meets X-files gang of Echo Falls misfits to continue; but, I have to say I’m super proud of my growth as a writer and how ‘RAVEN’ will show that. Also, my daughter’s art is going to grace this work. As for Tanner’s Landing you’ll still get to see work from Leslie Nan Moon throughout; but, the story is the star — at least I hope you’ll think so.

In addition to the birth of the books, Ye Ol’ Hubby and I are working hard to create a new home-base of operations where even more creating can be done. So stay tuned for those developments as well. If all goes well, that front door pictured above will be my front door soon.

I hope that you’re staying safe throughout all of this and are taking advantage of more reading with your favorite beverage time. If you can do it outside in the wild, even better.

Harvest Creations: Maverick Canning Rhubarb

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I swear I’m going to go and ravage the neighbor’s rhubarb plants. He now owns the 35-year old plant that I got my heirloom plant from originally. The family that planted it moved away and this new neighbor is doing nothing with it! Folks, if you don’t know what to do with your produce, you might want to ask the lady who lives the property over, who happens to spend hours and hours outside, what to do with it. Or even better — just give it to her.

Filling the jar with raw cleaned, unpeeled, sliced Rhubarb

Speaking of Rhubarb, today I harvested probably the second to last harvest I’ll get from my batch and tried an old cold-water canning method. It’s called a Maverick Canning Method by a book my dear old Army buddy sent me last year (Thanks, Wheeler! See Photo Above!).  There are other methods than what the Ball Blue Book puts out. It does have limitations, mainly, you don’t want to use this stuff if you’re canning as part of your prep for the Zombie Apocalypse.  But since things like raw rhubarb, cranberries and green gooseberries — work well in this method. Plus if you’re planning on using it very soon, which I do, this is exactly how you want to can it because it’s so freaking amazingly easy and fast.

*Directions:  Use jars that have rubber seals and screw caps or lids held with bails. Fill sterilized jars with picked-over, washed, perfect berries (rhubarb is cut in 1-inch lengths, but not peeled). Next, run cold drinking water into a scrupulously clean and scalded (the pan or canning pail is hot and slightly smokey) pail to level some six inches above the height of the jars.  Then fill the jars of fruit to overflowing with cold drinking water and submerge them — still open — in the pail and, UNDER WATER, cap them tightly. Store immediately in a cool place.

Limitations:  Fruit/berries canned this way should be strongly acid, and be tough-skinned and firm, so they don’t break down readily during storage. Old-time country housewives used to can fresh lemons this way when they could get a supply fairly cheaply in February or March. Because there’s no heat processing anywhere along the line, you must wash the fruit well and sterilize utensils and jars. If you’re leary of your water you can always boil it in advance (cooling it well before canning with it) — but then so much boiled water would be needed for canning by this method that you’re off easier, and better, using a Boiling-Water Bath in the first place.  (I have great water supply here in Western Washington, so…I didn’t worry about that.)

Fill jars to overflowing....

Fruits and berries that are Cold-Water canned require really cool storage; having no added sugar to retard freezing, though, they should not get below 32 degrees F.  Remember that the seal is not a perfect one, and that some air remains in the tissues of the food; therefore, it can’t store as long as properly heat-processed food does. 

One thing I did do was the typical lid preparation — regardless of canning method. You boil a pot of water. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and put the lids in and let them stay warm before using. (See photo.)

I have a great cupboard that is towards an outside wall that is very, very cool. The picture below shows it stored in there. But, my husband was really worried, so it’s in our garage refrigerator now on the door (so it doesn’t accidentally freeze like that ‘beer ‘fridge’ can do to some things placed against its far back reaches). However, even hours later when I moved the jars, they were very cold to the touch. I think you would be fine if you had a root cellar or other pantry-type cool, dark place to store it.

Sterilizing lids and warming for a partial seal is one place I won't be a "maverick" regarding canning.


Store in a fridge that doesn't get below 38 degrees or a lovely root cellar.


Regardless,  I will have fresh Rhubarb come Thanksgiving time — and all that Sunday pie-baking in between.

Tell me what you think! Have I gone off the the self-reliance, homesteading, do-it-yourself cliff?

*Everything italicized comes from the book PUTTING FOOD BY Written by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, and Janet Greene, 1973, The Stephen Greene Press, Brattleboro, Vermont.

Harvest Creations: Grilled Tomatillo Salsa

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Tomatillos in the Wild of the Thrasher Studios' Urban Farm.

Watch the honey bees from everywhere come pollinate your garden.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we’re having some awesome growing weather. Bumper crops of blackberries, blueberries, peppers, tomatoes — you name it. A very wet cool spring followed by sun, sun, sun. Urban farming has been good — so has wild harvesting:  plums, apples, apricots, hawthorne berries. But the wild harvesting will be another post. Today we’re going to talk about this year’s experiment plant at Thrasher Studios:  Tomatillos.

Tomatillos are a staple in southwest cooking, especially Mexican dishes. It’s kind of like a green tomato in a husk (think corn). We love some southwest food in our house, so it seemed a no brainer to try to grow this. I will grow it again.

Bees love Tomatillo Blossoms! Good Plant to have around just for the pollinator attraction.

Know that honey bees love tomatillos. I have photo proof. Never have I gone out once the tomatillo plant started flowering and NOT seen honey bees. It’s been fabulous. So, they are good to have near anything you’re growing. Also know that they need lots of space and will likely grow taller than your tomatoes. Staking and caging is advised as well.

Harvesting tomatillos created a learning curve, too. But mostly, when the fruit inside fills the husk and it plucks off with little resistance, you’ve got a ripe one. Anyone else that has more experience with knowing about tomatillos — feel free to comment and let us all know.

Today’s harvest creation is grilled tomatillo salsa.

Ingredients:  Tomatillos, tomatoes, green chilis (if you want it more mild, seed it. We’re spicy-hot loving family, so I left the seeds in.), onion, garlic cloves,  lime juice, cilantro and salt.

Grilled Tomatillo Salsa: Again, this is not chemistry. Use the proportions you prefer.
1. Husk and wash some tomatillos.
2. Put tomatillos, seeded green chilis, a couple cloves of garlic, and some big chunks of onion on a baking sheet or in a big shallow baking dish.
3. Broil for about 5 minutes, turn the stuff over and broil some more. The ingredients should start to brown and get soft.
4. Dump the broiled stuff into a food processor with some fresh cilantro, salt, and lime juice. (I just got a juicer, so I used it to make my lime juice. The juicer rocked and was so worth the $2 at the yard sale.)
5. Run the processor until it’s as smooth or chunky as you want.
6. Chill it if you want to. (After it’s first made and there’s leftovers, I refrigerate in a Ball jar.)
7. Add salt if you want to. (I do.)

In this first recipe, I didn’t have any cilantro. It had already gone to seed and it was already after dinner and I didn’t feel like going to the farmer’s market. So, I snipped some fresh parsley from the garden. Also, I already had some roasted chopped garlic and used that. All but the chunk of onion was from my garden — and the onion was from a local farmer nearby. Woot for local food!

Here’s what the yumminess looked like step by step:

Chunks of Onions and Green Chilis Before Roasting












Tomatillos and three kinds of tomatoes before roasting












A whole lime juiced. Hubby said, we could have used half of the juice in the salsa, but I like it tart and spicy.












Roasted Chopped Garlic & Fresh Parsley (both from Thrasher Studios crops).












Post Roasting - Peppers & Chunks O' Onions











Be sure to pour whatever juice leaks out into the roasting pan into the food processor, too!












Be sure to pulse and not puree your salsa. Little chunks are good.












Grilled Tomatillo Salsa ala Thrasher Studios









Store in airtight container in fridge. Should last about two weeks; however, I don't think it will last that long in ours...

Book Review: THE RITUAL by Adam Nevill

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THE RITUAL is a book many folks should probably not read at night. If the deep dark forest frightens you, if evil in its most primitive form is beyond your comprehension — do not read this book. If you want an adult Grimm Fairy Tale, than read this. Regardless, a trip to the Nordic Arctic Circle just got crossed off my bucket list. After reading THE RITUAL, I also will attend Krampus with a slightly different emotion, I believe.

I gave the book 4 stars because as is my habit I read more than one book at a time and THE RITUAL was chosen many a times when it should have been the turn of one of the other volumes that occupy my reading spaces. There were moments in the text that I felt I may not give it above 3.5 stars because I was stricken with the thought that I was reading a cross between the script for DELIVERANCE and Stephen King’s MISERY. But Nevill throws some craggy twists, complete with old-growth moss to impede your trope-thinking and makes it work well. And for a debut effort he deserves the 4 stars, as Nevill drags the reader through some of the more horrific moments of pain and suffering and straight on through to redemption in its most “life is impermanent” brilliance.

I would recommend this story to those that like dark tales as much as I do — Nevill is not afraid of it and dives deep into it. For that I give him mad props. I’m looking forward to seeing more from this author.

*SPOILER ALERT* I also admire the way Nevill took the character you most liked in the beginning and turned him into the fall guy and took the least likeable characters and made you feel sympathy or at least pity for them, as well as turned one into a relatable hero antagonist.

My participation in Krampus is forever altered after this read...


Free-Range Fiction: Dog-and-Pony Show

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This week’s flash fiction is once again inspired by the World-Con going Chuck Wendig. See his TerribleMinds Blog here and the challenge here. Basically we had a choice of four words from the list:









See if you can find the four I used. 

I give you: Dog-and-Pony Show, coming in at a sparse 890 words. I wrote this in the throws of insomnia with a film crew in my backyard. The latter is for another post. 

Leave me comments and tell me how ya like it. Thanks. 

The entire post was getting ready for the senator’s arrival.  Tinsley hated the dog-and-pony shows his assignment at the new hallmark military post demanded. 

“This is such a joke,” his buddy, Barker, said. “Wash the trash cans? What the fuck, they are trash cans.”

“Well, it’s for Senator Williams,” Sgt. Franks said, his Puerto Rican accent thick and sing-songy. “He is the chair of the Senate Arms Committee. Think of him as the man who signs your paychecks, troopers.”

Tinsley hated the word troopers. Like they were in fucking boy scouts and his unit wasn’t starring soon at their third rotation in Southwest Asia.

“I suppose we have it better than the fucking Marines, standing guard at the o-club in full dress uniform including those pansy-ass white gloves,” Barker snickered.  His baby face’s cheeks wobbled while his teeth gritted together.  Fort Meade was the first Post they converted over into multi-military use.  The Army, Air Force, Marines – even the goddamn Navy were all co-located here. Although the Navy boys were all Yeoman – paper pushers and few SPs, as their ships were up in the port in Baltimore or at the academy in Annapolis.

Tinsley nodded at Barker – he hated dress uniforms. He would rather scrub garbage cans. He hit the last spot on his last can and stood up from the row of trash cans in front of him. The whole squad was basically done scrubbing.  Tinsley stretched his lanky frame and twisted side to side like he was doing morning P.T. warm ups. His stomach grumbled.

“Sgt. Franks, it’s lunch, yeah?” Tinsley motioned towards the tower clock in the parade field in front of their little work area under the shade trees.  The hands read 1140 hrs.

“Yeah, let’s get these cans back in their proper locations and we’ll get some chow,” Franks said.

At chow, Tinsley waited for his usual Hamburger.  Before he could get his lunch someone called for Attention. Those seated stood; those standing turned towards the sound of the command and assumed the position.  In walked the post commander, the corps general, and Senator Joshua T. Williams (R-TX).  Inside his head, Tinsley moaned an “Ah fuck.” He could smell the melted cheese which dripped from the side of his burger begin to burn on the grill.  He was waiting for someone – the Sergeant Major, anyone – to call the ‘As You Were’ so that he could just sit down and fucking eat.  But it didn’t come.  He stood there along with every other swinging dick in the dining facility waiting and stealthily watching the procession of the Big Whigs to the front of the line.

The cooks and staff swarmed near the senator and officers and chatted with each other in Farsi. Most were asylum seekers from the War on Terror.  They were happy to serve chow three times a day to American soldiers – whatever their branch.  The VIPs got their lunches and finally the ‘As You Were’ was hollered out.

“Sorry, bub; you’ll have to wait for your burger,” Arnie said to Tinsley with a shrug. His name was actually Abdullah, but he had adopted Arnie.

“What?” Tinsley slurred the word through gritted teeth. His stomach was starting a coup against the rest of his body 

“The VIP has it,” Arnie pointed a spatula towards the retreating entourage.  Tinsley saw the burger on the Senator’s cafeteria tray.  He smoothed down the front of his ACU jacket and felt his feet move forward, left foot first.

“Hey man, where you going?” Barker hissed.

“To get my burger,” Tinsley’s feet started moving into a quick step. He didn’t notice the parting sea of other lunch-time comrades.

Within moments, he stood at the head of the Senator’s table. A few choice soldiers and Marines of the month sandwiched the senator, general and base commander.  

“Sir,” Tinsley said, the air forcing a tone from his mouth he hadn’t expected. The tone said, “You need to fucking listen to me.”

“The Senator would like to eat, Soldier,” the Corps General said to Tinsley with a look that said, “Step off, Private.”  Tinsley looked down at his buck sergeant stripes and then stared back at the general.

“Yes, so would I,” Tinsley said. “The Senator has my hamburger.”  The Senator looked down at his plate, so did the commander and general and the joes on either side of them.

“I do believe it’s…” but before the Senator could get the words out the Base Commander was in Tinsley’s face.

“Report to my headquarters right now, Private Tinsley.”

“I’ll happily do that, Commander,” Tinsley said, then paused and pushed out his breath into the face of his superior officer. “With my lunch.”

Tinsley saw the general apologizing to the befuddled Senator. 

“Now, Soldier,” the commanders said. “Now. The longer you take the more pay I take from you and the more restriction I rain down upon your insubordinate ass.” 

Tinsley made towards the door and purposefully went away from the base commander and towards the Senator. It honestly made more sense to do that about face and march past the Senator. In one swift motion, quicker than he could spin his color guard rifle, Tinsley snatched the burger off the Senator’s plate and continued towards the door.

Forty-days later in the Brig down in Quantico, Tinsley ate Tuna for lunch.