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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Don't Forget to Vote!

Many of you may have already watched this short video, 
but I wanted to make sure everyone sees it before the election. 

 


Our local library invited me to create something about our town, the founder, and the 19th Amendment. 
Though a huge honor, it took some planning due to the pandemic. Everything had to be done with computers, phone calls, books, emails and text messages.

What to do? 

So, I wrote an introduction, a skit, a song and a short narrative. The song is called, "I'll Never Stop Thinking" and I needed to find a composer! I have a few musical friends on Facebook but only asked one, and he came through like a true professional. (Last time I saw Keith, he was 8. I remembered a flurry of fast-moving freckles.) Anyway, I have no other words for Keith Walsh, other than amazing. He understood my words and interpreted the song better than I could have imagined. 

Also amazing, is the singer, Candace Grewe who sang the song and performed the skit with the talented Suzanne Saunders.  Candace and her family assembled the entire video! Again, I'm speechless. 

Thank you to the Wildomar Library and all involved with this short production. I am proud to live in this town and thankful for wonderful friends! 




 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Lessons From Sir Lawrence for 2020

 

As a young archeology student, Sir Lawrence of Arabia was sent to the Middle East by the British Museum. During that time, he was beaten, shot at and robbed, and yet, when the military sent him back to Syria on a fact-finding mission, where Ottoman Turks lorded over the land; Lawrence saw it as an opportunity to help liberate Arabia.

Recently, I re-watched the legendary Peter O’ Toole, in the famous 1962 movie. I saw it before, but in my case, age and experience helped me appreciate the finer points, the cinematography and the all-star cast. (Plus, I always thought Peter O’ Toole was a handsome fellow.)

With a bounty on his head, Sir Lawrence led his rag-tag troops into battle against sophisticated armies. Upon being captured, he was beaten and imprisoned, but continued his stealth operations in order to help his friends—nomads-- Arabs—and a Prince.

Whether historically true or not, the positive attitude of the main character in the movie keeps you riveted. When the British commanding officer asks him to return to the parched, dangerous land where he knows anything can happen, he cheerfully agrees to go, even saying, “It will be fun.”

Of course, none of it is fun.

Which immediately reminded me of this year.

When faced with adversity, do we give up or proceed?

Will our battle scars slow us down?

Will we continue to protect our friends?

Do we fight for peace?

Do we surrender?

Can we make it fun?

Friday, September 11, 2020

Stream of Consciousness Writing On the Anniversary of 911

 


There’s a virus among us. It came from far away and is now everywhere. We’re supposed to stay home and when we go out, we’re supposed to wear a mask, like Zorro. And, there are fires all over California. People with asthma can’t breathe. People are sad. There are riots all over the place and a few peaceful protests that end up being taken over by mobs. I think God turned up the heat on the chaos in the streets. Bad folks don’t like 120 degrees either.

I don’t like people who act like animals.

Those people who flew into the tower—they were animals.

 I guess it’s all perception. Maybe people who tend sheep in New Zealand think the world is a peaceful place. Being a shepherd near Wellington sounds idyllic.

I love my dog. Like a border collie, she has come out of retirement to watch the neighborhood. Her nose twitches from the scent of smoke. She loves our neighbors. Every night she watches the news with us and she can tell something is wrong. She is on high alert. Not bad for being 15 years old! Right now, she stares from the window, her eyes scanning the street. Finally, after many years, she recognizes the postman and figured out she doesn’t need to bark.  Right now, nothing looks out of the ordinary, but she is ready. Ready to love and kiss everyone. Ready to protect.



I love animals who act human. Pinky loves everyone.

My book, The Happy War is about a couple who will risk their life for peace. It’s now available in a hard cover version too. I think that’s pretty impressive, if I may say so myself. 😊The reviews I’ve received, so far, are awesome. I am honored by the kind words. Just wow!

 There needs to be a real, legal way to create happiness. At least my characters tried something unethical and immoral to fight hate. But it’s fiction, and their perception of things is skewed by me, the author. In other words, I lived my dream of peace on Earth vicariously, through the lives of my characters. When you read a book, doesn’t it take you on a journey somewhere? Don’t you feel better when reading a book? I guess that’s one of the reasons I wrote this book. If even one person finds my novel entertaining, during this maelstrom called life, then I did something right.  In a desperate world, we hold onto hope. We hold onto every morsel of beauty and love.

Join me in silent prayers...

For those who lost their homes. For those who have Covid.

And, let us never forget those who died on September 11th.

 

Friends, I wish you peace. Stay safe.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Summer in Your Mouth-A Recipe

 

When life gives you lemons, either you make lemonade, or search everywhere for a unique and delicious recipe. Here’s a simple one that is sure to make you smile, or at least pucker up.

(Please maintain social distancing when puckering up.)

Painted by my husband, Steven Michelangelo Gaal
He also grew the lemons. 
 

Old Fashioned Citrus Bundt Cake

(I prefer: Summer in Your Mouth Cake)

 

One cup milk

Three eggs

½ cup canola oil

½ cup melted butter--that’s cooled off

Zest of three lemons (3 or 4 tsp) or oranges and lemons

½ cup lemon, orange or tangerine juice.

 (Optional: You can add a tablespoon of Cointreau Triple Sec or Grand Marnier 

I went with Cointreau.)

_________________

Three cups flour

Two cups sugar

1 teasp. salt,

1 and ½ teasp. Baking powder.

(Lemon Glaze- 1 cup powdered sugar mixed with two or three teaspoons of juice for drizzling consistency.)

 

Spray your Bundt pan with non-stick spray and flour lightly. Then, preheat the oven to 325F.

Next, combine the first six ingredients with a whisk or on the low setting of the mixer.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend it together with a whisk or on the low speed of your mixer until it’s smooth. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Place it on a wire rack to cool for ten minutes and then turn the pan over and marvel at your lovely creation. Finally, once it’s completely cool, drizzle with the glaze! Voila!

 

This is seriously super easy. Are you going to try it?

Friday, July 31, 2020

My Newest Book is Out! (A Soft Launch)




  

It was bound to happen. A friend coaxed me into trying NaNo-for those who aren’t familiar—it’s the month of November--which is set aside as a time to write an entire novel –in one month. Yes, one month! Many try to do it and can’t finish, and a few have bestselling books because they forged through and made it.

 I finished, but the book I wrote became a rough outline for my finished manuscript. There were so many bizarre things, such as errant words inadvertently stuffed into the one-month time limit, that later, during weeks of editing and months of rolling revisions, I began to pull my hair out, deleting paragraphs and changing complicated sentences into something comprehensible.

As the 30-day finish line beckoned, my style, my voice, my poetic use of flowery language, had all flown out the window, along with grammar, punctuation and spelling. But, to give credit to NaNo, the story was also out. Out of my brain and into my laptop. Hooray.


So, after a grueling two years, it’s now available on Amazon, and I must say I’m super excited. It’s nothing like Penniless Souls, Penniless Hearts or The Fifth Commandment. Personally, I think The Happy War is a unique story that had to be told, NOW! It’s my tongue-in-cheek novel about two lovers trying to create world peace. I hope you like it. If you find it entertaining, please tell your friends, write a review and then tell your friends again.  😊 Who knows, you might  even help it become a bestseller.



Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Time To Read Books!



I don’t care what anyone says, my hair is supposed to be a long and tangled mess. This selfie displays my first attempt at trimming my bangs and it's from way back in April. I know it's funny, but you should see me now! 
In the kitchen, I ran out of a few spices and made some substitutions, heck, it still tasted good, didn’t it? So, hubs got involved, making crusty bread which turned out delicious.  We had help from a friend, who air-dropped packages of yeast over the garden gate. It seems his idea wasn't unique. Everyone bought up all the bread-making ingredients in the county! For awhile, flour became as rare as toilet paper.
Anyway, the Fed-Ex guy is fast becoming a friend and, the Instacart people do their best, but sometimes we still have to sneak off to the store to find what we really need. We plan for the journey as if going on vacation: masks, gloves, wipes, and whatever else fills my homemade crocheted tote bag.
Did you know yarn is in short supply? Who knew? My crochet club friends are ordering skeins from far off places like Turkey! I bought the last roll of red at Walmart. 
Yes, we have breathing and immunity issues, so we’re extra careful during these strange and turbulent times.  Fortunately, even with a full lock-down going on, there are books on our shelves and a slew on my Kindle. Of course, that's when I’m not writing, or trying to figure out which sanitizer to use. Here’s a few recent reads, and my reviews. 


Me


True Colors by Kristin Hannah
What started out as a family saga, turned into romance, mystery and an exciting drama about racism. Hence, the name of the book. Beautiful descriptions of trees, Washington State mountains and the ocean are woven into a story of three very different sisters who try to stick together, through difficulties stemming from love. Their children and soulmates play major roles, but Clem and Renegade, a couple of horses, have helped see them through the harshest days. Sadly, even a loving, happy family can’t change the heart of one of the characters, making the novel realistic. When hope is lost in fiction, however, it is rather disappointing. Still, it’s a great book with many exciting moments that will surprise and satisfy even the most voracious reader.





Sea Cliff by Mary Deal

This book grabbed me by the collar, as if I were there, experiencing the deep emotions felt by the main characters. Lovely Rachel, is a bookkeeper, novelist and the owner of a stunning home perched above the bay, called Sea Cliff.

Handsome and hunky Matthew Knight wants to sweep the redhead off her feet, but wasting time with some guy who might be playing the field, isn’t her style. Before she gives away her heart, Rachel has to make sure he’s the one. Her past is riddled with hang ups about her father and bad memories. The more time she spends with Matthew, the more these memories play with her mind. Plus, there’s Linda, Britt and old boyfriend scars from a guy called Rodney.

Without giving away too much, I have to shout praise to the author for sublime, poetic descriptions of the Sacramento River, earthquakes, a car collision, even New York and San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Rachel needs to free up her mind, clear away the internal clutter and study some books she picked up at the San Francisco Public library. Only then, can she finish writing her novel, also titled, Sea Cliff. Will it be a bestseller? Read this book and find out!





The Mink Wrap in the Attic by Laverty Sparks
Though Elena Polson is a fictional character, there were so many parallels with my life, I couldn’t help but love the book and adored the outcome. As a childless, ex-copywriter, who fell in love with a man who came with a family, I could relate to everything. The emotional load, the desire to fly off with the geese, and a desire to crawl into an attic where happy memories are stored. I enjoyed the author’s use of descriptive and beautiful analogies, “Even her emotions mimicked a frayed cloth with uncut lines.”
Elena is kind, forgiving and unlike me, thoughtful to a fault. Her superhuman feeling to ‘fit in’ makes her go to heart wrenching lengths to forgive Britni, Decker and Hunt for all sorts of bad behavior. When Hunt compares his beloved to horrible vices, by saying she became a habit he didn’t want to break, I wanted to kick him. “I won’t say you were a bad one, just a habit.” How infuriating. Just a habit? That’s when I thought Hunt is not worthy of such a wonderful woman. But, her unconditional, unwavering love continues on every page, because destiny has unexpected plans. Will Elena’s martyrdom be rewarded? Will one woman’s love be enough to save the Klyce family? Maybe. You’ll have to read The Mink Wrap in the Attic and find out!






The Paradise Gig(Key West Capers) Laurence Shames

A friend recommended this hilarious and well-written novel about the good guys, the bad guys and Nacho. Part crime-caper/cozy mystery/adventure and part Rom-Com with emphasis on the comedy. There’s a stinky trail that only Bert and his tiny dog can sniff out regarding something that happened way back in 1964. Pete, Callie and Sarge weren’t even born yet. Of course, neither was Nacho, but when that little dog smells something rotten, he makes sure everyone hears about it.

The problem is Marco. But don't let me ruin the fun. This is retro Key West at it's best.

Shames not only writes humor, but he does it well. You’ll laugh at the dialogue between Bert and Mr. Dictionary— (aka Pete) and the shenanigans created by the singing 'goombahs'. Meanwhile, Nacho describes all this excitement from his perspective and I have to say, the descriptions are extraordinary. I’m convinced you’ll enjoy Paradise Gig, whether you like small dogs or not.




Divorcees.Biz: A Contemporary Romance by Eileen Thornton

“We created something with-class,” says Connie, near the end of Divorcees.Biz. I think I nodded in agreement. Actually, it was the author, Eileen Thornton who created a wonderful novel, rather ‘something with-class’. This book is truly an enjoyable read, filled with unique characters and ‘classy’ romance.
Four friends, Lucy, Sadie, Jenny and Connie have been friends for ages. They plan to start up a small dating agency in the posh section of London. Each day they learn new things about business, and a little too much about each other. Still, they thrive, while making the best of unusual circumstances.
There’s so much going on that the novel kept my attention the entire time. Thornton weaves her clever dialogue through pain, heartache and laughter. Amid the wild outfits and free-flowing champagne, there are brutes and floozies that need to be put in their place. Will the business fail? How about love? Will love save them all?





Where Shadows Fall by Natalie J. Case
This is a story about four tribes called the Shadows, Sages, Shades and Shifters who are being discriminated against by the United States government. The 8th Battalion is formed to round them up, putting them into camps. Meanwhile, the main character, Alaric has to figure out a way to get back at those who killed his close friend Mason. “At the end of that journey, he would have his vengeance,” says Alaric early in this mythological fantasy that includes Maddie who shifts into a cat when necessary and Evan who is a hawk. Alaric, being a Shade, has the ability to step into someone’s mind to find out information. It looks like the man he’s after is called Shallon. The Shadows put up shields to protect the thoughts in their mind. The Sages control elements such as fire, water, air and earth. The author writes a fascinating story with vivid characters and tons of action.
“Congress is divided and aside from passing emergency legislation to force Shades into custody, they don’t agree on anything,” says Zero the daughter of Vice President Rede. But, there’s a legend about a way to overcome the strange, dark figure she calls daddy, and it entails stitching the power of four tribes into one. Can they do it? Read Where Shadows Fall and find out!





Hope you're staying busy too.What have you been reading?