From Tradition to Book – Holiday Anthology

When my parents and I started living fairly far away, we still had a desire for closeness, particularly around the holidays. We started a tradition where my mother would write a story and email it to me, I would create illustrations for it then send the finished pages back over to them, then my father would help bind and ship the story. Usually with sparkly yarn and a fancy cover.  They would go out to all the friends and relatives as their Christmas present.

There were so many advantages to this. The extended family would start calling each other and discussing the story. I got plenty of chance to illustrate things. We all three had the feeling of continuing a holiday tradition that drew us together.

Now, for this year, my dad is the one who wrote the story. I had the idea to publish the last twelve or so stories into one big volume. I also would re-illustrate the stories that needed it.  So “Yuletide Lights” was born. It’s fifteen stories, each one born of personal experience, and filled with the central themes of the holiday season. They stories are in general heartwarming and filled with generosity but in some truly touching ways. Each story is a slice of life, a pair of magic glasses with which you can peep into another life, another way. The story I wrote is about a lost cat in Japan, but even it happens around the Holidays. The little girl in the book my dad wrote might as well have been me, and I remember versions of many of events in these and other stories. Many times I’ve been moved to tears, working on this project.

I had fun preparing, editing and illustrating these stories, as much fun as I hope you have  reading them.

If you’d like to see this volume, it’s available both in paperback and Kindle.

 

Yuletide lights cover small.jpg

A most delightfully Pungent kitchen

There are things I can’t cook at home – certain Vietnamese soups, old fashioned oatmeal, and overcooked cabbage.  They leave the kitchen in a most pungent state.

This weekend my kitchen has been pungent in a good way.  It normally whiffs of sesame oil and garlic, but now it also smelled of turkey breast, roasted potatoes, and more than the legal limit of pumpkin spice.  Last night I made another batch of pumpkin bread.  I used my own spice mix and I must tell you it was heady indeed.  When I took it out of the oven, I stood for a moment, deeply inhaling.

That smell was a great one, almost rivaling rain when it hasn’t started falling yet, or a good Monsoon downpour when it fills the whole house with that damp, clean, almost resinous smell.

My nose and I are good friends and I love good aromas.  Some of them always tell me I’m home.

Bonus: pumpkin spice mix recipe

For any interested, here’s my spice mix:  nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger – all ground and mixed together in roughly equal amounts with maybe a bit more cinnamon.  I buy them in packets at the grocery store, you know those lovely dollar packets?  So I get my pumpkin spice at a discount price.  It’s great for adding to oatmeal or coffee.

 

via Daily Prompt: Pungent

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/pungent/

Anticipation Grows Again

Anticipation is definitely something I’ve felt around this time of year.  And who has more anticipation than a young child?   When I was little, Christmas was one of my favorite days.  I’d count down to it, plan my present giving strategy, maybe practice my lines for the yearly pageant.  I’d lay awake nights watching the beautiful Christmas lights on the tree through a myopic fog that made them look glowing and mysterious, rather like this photo.

Growing older, I’ve tried to learn to uncouple anticipation from expectation, and thus, disappointment.  Oddly, I’ve found a small glow of anticipation for the holiday season again.  It’s only been made possible by studiously ignoring all the glitz in the stores, the over inflated artificial hype.  That’s easier since my TV turns on only occasionally and I haven’t watched even one movie in quite a few months.  Commercials are my bane and I avoid them, the only ones I hear are from the radio.

With the reduction of the pressure of commercialism, I find that there is still a soft little place in my heart that I can leave open to anticipation.  I think about finding something nice to do for one of my coworkers, who seems rather lost and unloved.  I quietly plan a cookie baking day, so I can invite my neighbor over, so she, my spouse and I can bake cookies and I can teach her to bake bread.  The plan is to distribute small packages of cookies to all my close neighbors.  I think, “maybe a few strings of lights to celebrate the Winter Solstice would be  nice.”

Slowly, gently, anticipation grows again.  The holidays start to be about people I care about and doing nice things for others, as well as enjoying good food and fun times.  I remember being that kid who used to look at the Christmas tree through a half open door.

 

via Daily Prompt: Anticipation

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/anticipation/

It may sound Ostentatious, but…

…the real name for a group of house cats is not a Clowder.  It’s a Stripe.  A Stripe of House Tigers.  For that is just what we are, house tigers.

I’m taking over Other Mom’s keyboard again.  She’s off buying turkey breast and pumpkin and baking supplies and I don’t know what all.  Luckily, she’s buying Sheba perfect portions, which I love, so I decided I’d help with the blog again.

Nezumi Keyboard 2.JPG

I never liked it when the Two-Leggeds called a group of my kind a Clowder.  It sounds stupid, almost like chowder, which I’d love to eat but am told is too salty.  No, I am much more like a tiger, only in a far more reasonable size and marked in much more varied colors.  The other main difference is that I don’t like to swim.  I hear tigers do.  Therefore, I am part of a Stripe.

For those softer cats who like to lie down with the Two-Leggeds rather than boss them around, they also have a name.  Their group is a Cuddle.  A Cuddle of Cats.

Now that you know, you can start using the names properly.  A Stripe of House Tigers, a Cuddle of Cats.  Now I hear Other Mom coming.  I must make sure she doesn’t forget my favorite flavor of Gooshy Food.  Also it’s time for my ration of head scritches and jaw rubs.

desk-cat-crop

via Daily Prompt: Ostentatious

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/ostentatious/

…then you might live in Tucson.

If you…

..turned your furnace on for the first time on November 17th,

…commonly see folks walking across a busy street with a stoplight just yards away,

…have doors held for you on a daily basis,

…know that chimichangas originated in Pima County,

…just saw 10% on the hygrometer and smile,

…think it’s not the holidays without tasty tamales,

…think bacon is a perfectly normal thing to wrap around a hot dog,

…know what a bolillo is,

…stop to wonder why bolillo isn’t in the spell check dictionary,

…check and fix the spelling to make sure,

…still wonder why it isn’t in the dictionary,

…regularly barbecue the Thanksgiving turkey,

…don’t act shocked when you see a T-rex by a McDonalds,

…know that mesquite beans are edible,

…have ever taken a swim the day after Christmas,

…wear a jacket when it’s below 70 degrees…

 

…then, you might live in Tucson.