Of course today is January 6th, Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. It’s the twelfth and last day of the Christmas season that began on Advent Sunday (not the day after Thanksgiving) and ends today. I’ve had a wonderful, interesting, and blessed holiday. I hope all my readers and supporters are blessed in the new year. That is my heartfelt prayer for you.
These three decided to nap together and gave me this photo. The tortoise-shell in the foreground is Beauty, because she is one. She’s the queen of the household, is a talker, and has an opinion on everything. Then you have Sophie The Wonder Dog. Her name was Sophie when she was rescued and we kept it. At that time our kids were in the house and we started calling her “Soapy.” I sometimes now call her that and she perks up and prances, perhaps going back in time. I’ll have to call her that more often. And in the background is Trouble. He earned that name by his mischievousness since he was a teeny tike. He’s either in trouble or causing it. I know he looks like an angel here under the tree. That’s his cover. He’s part of an international cat burglar and jewel thief ring.
Ghee, I sure have a vivid imagination. Perhaps I should write murder mysteries with a national security twist. Hmm, now that’s a thought.
When Joseph was alive I prepared a huge Thanksgiving feast for family and a friend or two. I was known for my super moist turkey, and it was so simple. I’ll let you in on the secret. I got it years ago from Cooking Light magazine. You mix equal parts of maple syrup and unsweetened jarred apple sauce and smother the bird in it. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it. But the whole mess, and it is a mess, cooks away and you have an apple/maple glaze and a really moist and tender bird. I always cooked my bird at 325 degrees and it’s really good to use a meat thermometer to know when it’s done. Nothing is worse than eating raw poultry. I made the a traditional giblet stuffing recipe from the back of the stuffing package and added chopped dates and chopped, peeled apples and stuffed the bird. Of course, you also have to bake a pan of it, and the trick there is to pour broth over it so it’s not dry. I can’t give a recipe because I don’t cook with recipes, as a rule. I’ve spent years enjoying myself pouring over cookbooks, especially holiday cookbooks, trying different “tricks of the trade” my mother, grandmother, or a friend passed along. It got to where I cooked by eye and by taste. Yes, you have to keep a teaspoon or two or three at the stove to taste or you can get in real trouble. Add a little spice, butter, whatever, then taste. You can always add more but you can’t take out.
So, now it’s just me, Sophie the Wonder Dog, and as as Sophie refers to them, “those pesky cats.” About six months ago, a series of circumstances occurred and it hit me like a tidal wave that I was basically alone on this planet. And yes, I stewed and whined about it. If you know me at all, if I didn’t admit to whining, you’d know I wasn’t telling the truth.
Of course, it goes without saying, so I almost didn’t say it.,,I have God. I have Jesus. And of course, I have friends and associates. However, as I get up in years, I find that my friends have issues they are dealing with, some excruciatingly serious. So, I really do have to exercise my “spiritual chops” and lean in to God, follow Him, rely on Him, and seek His face.
One thing I keep hearing Him say in a variety of ways is, “Live life. You are fearfully and wondrously made. Don’t stop celebrating life.” I recently heard Joyce Meyer say on a broadcast that we humans are the closest things to God. We have been made in His image and likeness. And we should act like it. We have to choose to do that. It’s a decision we have to make and sometimes re-make.
So, I’ve been invited to a huge southern family Thanksgiving Day dinner in central Florida. I’ve been informed (forewarned maybe) that it will be an experience. Looks like God has a new delight in store for me.
ACTION-ADVENTURE, ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, TERRORISM, WAR
It’s something I haven’t done yet and something that intrigues me — when two authors collaborate on a work of fiction. In this case, AGAINST THE ODDS was written by two colleagues I’ve know for several years. So, I thought I’d ask them about it.
A little about the novel…
Agent Sam Roberts took nano seconds to figure out how and why the missionary woman got on the yacht. The scum-bucket Russian he was assigned to watch duped her somehow, like that miserable criminal had others. Turning a blind eye to save his job might guarantee her an early visit from the Grim Reaper. Then again, a rescue attempt through middle east terrain might have the same results. His choice is a story ready to keep any reader turning pages long into the night.”
It was the mother of all bad days. — The date, September 11, 2012. The place, Benghazi, Libya. While a brave band of warrior’s fight for their lives in the consulate and CIA annex, outside, a Mossad Agent, a missionary, and a Mississippi giant fight a different battle. Caught between terrorists and an enraged Russian arms dealer, they must complete the mission and manage to stay alive until they can escape or the cavalry arrives. Never assume things can’t get worse.
Nike: What was it like to write with a co-author?
Dave: Co-writing makes you think, or at least it made me think more than if I were writing alone. AGAINST THE ODDS was Virginia’s idea, and she wrote the first two chapters and sent them to me. I had to introduce my character and tie him to hers. I/we never knew where the other was taking the story. Sometimes the next scene jumped into my head and away I went. Sometimes I thought “What!”
VB: When I decide to write a story set in Libya, I asked David if he would like to join the project since he has an extensive background in the Middle East. Thus, the character of Tree was added to the story. Co-authoring was different, but in a good way. Our writing styles are similar so the chapters blended together seamlessly. Dave (The Great White Hunter) Arp was sometimes incommunicado tracking bears across the Alaskan tundra or working in the Gulf on an oil rig and would find chapters and emails from me in his inbox to wade through. All in all, it was a fun experience.
Nike: Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing of this novel.
David: Tree’s name and physical characteristics came from two men I worked with in Saudi Arabia. Getting a character from Mississippi into Libya isn’t hard if he’s working for a drilling contractor and his mom is Tunisian.
VB: Molly the dog, in the story, is real. Her characteristics as described in the novel are exclusively her own. She doesn’t like anyone but me, but will tolerate a few others. She is a rescue dog my daughter purchased. Molly’s original owner was an older woman so Molly adopted me. I call her my little Rottweiler. My office is in my bedroom and she lives under my bed except when the weather is nice. Anyone who dares venture into her space is greeted by Molly in attack mode. She is the fastest dog I’ve ever seen. When I put her outside, she shoots out the door like she was fired from a gun. I went from a big, lovable, gentle St. Bernard, to an unfriendly, grouchy, hyper, midget with an attitude. What are you going to do when you’re adopted?
If I wasn’t most definitely in my prime, some might speculate age 39 (ooops my nose is growing) ~ though a lady never should tell her age… At any rate, if I wasn’t well beyond my teenage years, one look at my armss and some might think I was an adolescent cutter. Not so! Not at all.
I have a feral cat named Mimzie and was merely trying to clean her ears. [Shh, don’t tell her I said so, but feral cats are somewhat deranged.]
The upshot is, she got away without me achieving my goal. So, I tired to sneak up on her the next day. She’s partially deaf, which makes the sneaking up not too difficult, but she’s quick and determined not to be held onto.
You’ll notice her crooked lip-line. That’s due to lost teeth. However, what teeth she’s got left sunk into my arm, fortunately, not too deeply.
This soon became a two-woman operation. I enlisted the help of my daughter Delayne, and we had to block the staircase so Mimsie couldn’t get up there to hide.
I can’t help but be reminded of that old meme, “How To Give A Cat A Pill.” Ah, the joys of cat ownership. I promise you, she’s not choking the cat, just trying to hold onto her.
For those of you who would like to lead “cruelty-free” lives (meaning you purchase products that do not test on animals, here’s a short and very incomplete list of affordable companies who sell in drug stores and supermarkets, and do not test on animals.
Cosmetics and Personal Care:
Aveda [Estee Lauder]
Caswell-Massey: fragrance, bath & body – can be purchased on Amazon
Elf Cosmetics: Target, most chain drug stores
Kiss My Face: skin care – in most chain drug stores and supermarkets
Milani Cosmetics: sold in most chain drug stores
Paul Mitchell Hair Products: most chain drug stores and beauty supply stores
Physicians Formula: make up – sold in most chain drug stores
Queen Helene: hair products, skin care, personal care – sold in most chain drug stores and supermarkets
Shiff: vitamins, in most chain drug stores and supermarkets
Toms of Maine: toothpaste – in most chain drug stores and supermarkets
Wet ‘n Wild: cosmetics, nail products – in most chain stores and supermarkets
White Rain: hair products, in most chain drug stores and supermarkets
Bon Ami: scouring cleanser, sold in supermarkets
Brillo: scouring pad, sold in supermarkets
Nature’s Miracle: pet odor destroyer, PETCO, most pet shops
Most of these products are “made in America” and do not have ingredients that will cause cancer, or cause other physical harm. Why do you suppose the other companies test on animals? It’s because they’re using potentially harmful chemicals.
Note: the box must say “cruelty-free” “no animal testing” or have a bunny on it. Most of the companies who a few years ago didn’t test on animals have gone back to testing. Why? Because China requires animal testing to sell in their country and these companies quickly gave up their principles. You’ll notice that most celebrities no longer do “cruelty free” ads. That’s because they’re signed with large cosmetics firms that have gone back to testing. How quickly they too gave up their principles.