Amazon Rapids, “Turning Green on Halloween” is Published!

Headless horseman carved pumpkin c/o Hubby.

My youngest as Cinderella, age 4.

Cinderella carved pumpkin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witch carved pumpkin.

My youngest as a witch, age 5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mwahaha! My third story on Amazon Rapids has been published.

In “Turning Green on Halloween,” Carla wants her brother Pablo to help decorate her wheelchair so she can enter the Halloween Parade. Pablo wants no part of the first prize–a ride on the Screamin’ Skyscraper–because he has a secret. Pablo is afraid of heights. Once Carla finds out Pablo’s fear, and convinces him that he doesn’t have to go on the ride, he decides to help…on one condition. Carla has to overcome claustrophobia by dressing up as a vampire in a coffin. In the end, Carla and Pablo both face their fears…and plunge ten stories in broken elevator filled with zombies. Fun!

Happy Halloween, hon!

Short, illustrated stories on Amazon Rapids, an App for ages 7-12, “are told through the lens of characters chatting with each other. The app is available for iOS, Android and Amazon Fire devices, and offers hundreds of original stories, with dozens of new ones added monthly.”

Amazon Rapids Includes: 

Unique chat style — Stories are told through the lens of characters chatting with each other, letting stories come to life one message at a time.

Hundreds of original stories — Kids can explore a large and growing library that’s filled with original stories spanning adventure, fantasy, humor, mystery, science fiction and sports.

Age-appropriate content – All content is thoughtfully edited to be appropriate for kids ages 7-12.

Built-in glossary — Kids can easily look up the definition and pronunciation of words to help build their reading confidence. Each time they look up a word, it is automatically added to their personal glossary for easy reference. 

“Read to me” —Kids can have stories read aloud to them while they follow along with the text. “Having been a teacher for over a decade, I’ve learned to write stories in a way that compels kids to dive in and the Amazon Rapids format is a perfect way to make that happen,” said Raymond Bean, best-selling children’s author. “In my first Amazon Rapids story, Alien Invasion, a boy named Gordon and an alien connect via a misdirected text message and hilarity ensues as they discuss the aliens’ plans to land on earth.”

Parents can visit http://rapids.amazon.com to download Amazon Rapids today.

Related Posts: Amazon Rapids Press Release–My 1st Fiction Story is Published!, Amazon Rapids, “The Easter Beast” is Published!

 

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Top Ten Cool Facts About Plains Lubber Grasshoppers

Plains Lubber Grasshopper

In my last post, Tarantula Territory, I lamented that I didn’t see any tarantulas on a hike but, guess what I did see? A Plains Lubber Grasshopper! The approximately five-inch insect caught my attention–how could it not?–and I had to get a closer look. I looked at her and she at me. We bonded.

I can’t believe I got such a clear photo of her awesome exoskeleton, which protects her against predators and prevents dehydration. (Come to think of it, that could be a great pick-up line. “Excuse me, but you have an awesome exoskeleton.”) Plains Lubbers are native to southern and central USA and Northern Mexico.

Top Ten Cool Facts About Plains Lubber Grasshoppers

  1. A Plains Lubber can’t fly because its wings are too small.
  2. A lubber has a pod that holds approximately 20-35 eggs. After incubating in the ground during the colder months, or for as long as two years, the eggs hatch in May or June.
  3. It uses two pairs of eyes (simple and compound) to see.
  4. It uses its bluish-brown antennae to feel and smell.
  5. The tympanum, or round membrane located on either side of its body near its legs allows it to “hear” or detect sound waves.
  6. To breathe, it has spiracles, or tiny holes located all along the abdomen.
  7. A lubber is capable of jumping from several inches to several feet using its oversized hind legs.
  8. A young lubber will molt its exoskeleton five times at roughly 15-day intervals before reaching adulthood.
  9. Bright coloring and patterning on a lubber’s shell warns predators that it’s unpalatable to downright poisonous. A lubber ingests substances in the plants it eats that, although harmless to humans and the lubber itself, are toxic to many predators. These chemicals may kill smaller creatures such as birds or leave larger animals quite ill after ingesting a lubber.
  10. To protect against predators, a lubber can secrete a noxious foam while making a loud hissing sound. It can also regurgitate a dark brown liquid (commonly called tobacco spit) as a defense.

Hon, which category are you in? Cool or ewww?

For all of the ewww’s, consider the photos below as visual palette cleansers.

Peace along the path.

I “heart” hiking.

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching for the sky.

Sources: The Big Zoo, American Orchid SocietyWikipedia, 

Tarantula Territory

Warning signs.

Quick Quiz

A sign says, “Please yield for tarantulas on the road.” What do you do?

a) Hightail it out of there and head to civilization or a mini mall?

b) Hike in moon boots or platform shoes?

c) Get super excited and keep your eyes peeled for large creepy-crawlies?

Hon, if you chose C, we’ll be very good friends! Two weeks ago, before a hike in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Sandia Mountains, I asked a park ranger why tarantulas might be on the road. He said it’s mating season. Cool!

Did “Caution!! Watch for Snakes” catch your eye? Even though two exclamation marks follow “caution,” snakes took a backseat to the hopeful main event–spotting a tarantula. Unfortunately, my childhood friend Cindy and I didn’t spot any. Years before in New Mexico, I did.

While driving 60 mph along a flat highway on the Turquoise Trail, I screamed, “Stop the car!” Hubby wanted to know why, but I didn’t have time to explain.

A tarantula was crossing the highway and I needed to see it up close! It was bigger than my hand!

I tried to record the big, hairy, brown spider, so I grabbed the only thing I could think of–a pencil. I placed (umm, threw) it on the ground next to the enormous arachnid and snapped a picture. I know I’m talking to “seasoned” (read: older) picture takers when I say my camera took film. It wasn’t until I got the film developed that I realized the photo was blurry. Oh well! I’ll always remember that tarantula, who somehow knew he had enough time between cars to cross the highway. Cool!

Fog hanging over the Sandia Mountains.

Chuya cactus.

Selfie of Cindy and me.

Antlers on an Airplane?

Live country music at Albuquerque International Sunport.

I’ve flown in and out of Albuquerque International Sunport many times but, on a recent trip, I entered the airport to twangs of live country music. Yeehaw! I thought, “That’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen at an airport.” I was wrong.

Moose antlers that were shed naturally for sale on the side of road in Maine.

Waiting to board our flight was a man carrying a rack of antlers about 5 feet wide! The tips were outfitted with cut up pieces of hose stuffed with foam. Why? Because antlers are weapons!

It begged a lot of questions.

Passenger: “How did you get them through security?”

Man: “They told me to bring them to the gate.”

Passenger: “Did you buy extra seats?”

Man: “Nope.”

Passenger: “Where will they go on the plane?”

Man: “Dunno.”

Mind you, you can’t bring scissors longer than 4 inches on a plane.

Once boarding started, the ticket agent was apoplectic.

First, he said. “Whoa! Where do you think you’re going?”

Second, “If you read what cannot come on a plane, antlers are on the list.”

To his colleague, “If I see one more pair of antlers today, I’m going home.”

Then the ticket agent made a phone call.

“Calling Security! We have a pair of antlers to check!”

Maple-Walnut Chicken with Sweet Potato Aioli

Dinner’s ready! Maple Chicken, garlic rice, steamed green beans.

Mix syrup and panko crumbs.

Combine canola oil, Dijon mustard, and thyme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drizzle maple syrup in cutlet pockets.

Brush cutlets with mustard mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

After cutlets are baked, spoon and press on panko paste to form a crust.

Broil cutlets for about 2 minutes, until crust is golden-brown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple-Walnut Chicken with Sweet Potato Aioli

This chicken recipe in Kosher by Design, Short on Time by Susie Fishbein caught my eye. I should rename it “Maple Chicken” since I made it without walnuts and skipped the sweet potato aioli. Why? Because a) my-picky-eaters-aka-my-daughters don’t like nuts and b) I was really short on time! This recipe was easy and yummy which means next time I make the dish–preparing some cutlets with walnuts, some without, and leaving time for the aioli–it’ll taste even better.

Happy cooking, hon!

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup), divided

fine sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups canned sweet potatoes, drained

1 1/2 Tablespoons light-brown sugar

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Lay chicken breasts on a cutting board, and make a cut to form a pocket in each cutlet.

3.  Stuff each pocket with 1 Tablespoon walnuts. Drizzle in 1 teaspoon maple syrup. Close up the pocket. Place pocket-side down on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining breasts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine the canola oil, Dijon mustard, and thyme. Brush each cutlet with this mixture.

4.  Bake for about 18 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup maple syrup and panko crumbs to make a paste.

6. After the cutlets are baked, remove from the oven and spoon and press on the panko paste to form a crust. Turn the oven to broil, return the chicken to the oven, and bro 6-8 inches from heat source for 2 minutes, until crust is golden-brown. (Tip: watch cutlets so they don’t burn.)

7. In a small pot, heat the sweet potatoes, smashing them with a fork or spoon. Mix in light -brown sugar. Turn off the heat and whisk in the mayonnaise and 1 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup.

Serve each cutlet with a dollop of the aioli.

Yield: serves: 6

Source: Kosher by Design, Short on Time

 

Squishy Soft Knit Cowl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Air

The minute the season turns from summer to fall, I can’t wait to knit new projects. Here’s an “easy, fast cowl that looks more complicated than it is” from Studio June Yarn.

Happy knitting, hon.

Yarn: about 120 yards

Needle: 18″ to 24″ circular, sized to work with yarn

Finished Size: approximately 30 inches in circumference and 6 inches tall

Directions:

  1. Using a long tail cast on, cast on 87 stitches.
  2. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist your work.
  3. *K4, P4, K4, P4.* Continue in pattern until about 3 yards remain.
  4. Bind off in Purl.

Source: Jill June at Studio June Yarn, studiojuneyarn@sbcglobal.net

Roof Garden Art, The Theater of Disappearance

Stork.

Baby.

A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the roof. Not only do you get an amazing view of Manhattan, you get to explore changing exhibitions. On view until October 29, 2017 is sculptor Adrián Villar RojasThe Theater of Disappearance, a “performative diorama, where banquet tables occupy an oversize black-and-white checkerboard floor punctuated by sculptures that fuse together human figures and artifacts found within the museum. The resulting juxtapositions put forth a radical reinterpretation of museum practices.”

Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas has transformed the Cantor Roof with an intricate site-specific installation that uses the Museum itself as its raw material. Featuring detailed replicas of nearly 100 objects from The Met collection, The Theater of Disappearance encompasses thousands of years of artistic production over several continents and cultures, and fuses them with facsimiles of contemporary human figures as well as furniture, animals, cutlery, and food. Each object—whether a 1,000-year-old decorative plate or a human hand—is rendered in the same black or white material and coated in a thin layer of dust.

The artist has reconfigured the environment of the Cantor Roof by adding a new pergola, a grand tiled floor, a bar, public benches and augmented planting throughout the space. The Met’s own alphabet has even been incorporated into the graphic identity of the project. To realize this extensive work, the artist immersed himself in the Museum and its staff for many months, holding conversations with the curators, conservators, managers, and technicians across every department who contributed to the realization of this installation.

Hidden woman.

Traveler.

Kissing couple.

Man with eels and rock.

Masked man.

In honor of my love of art, and especially Impressionists, check out new Edgar Degas exhibits on Artsy. In addition to Degas’s bio, over 200 of his works, and exclusive articles, you’ll find up-to-date Degas exhibition listings such as The National Gallery in London exhibit Drawn in Colour: Degas from the Burrell, and an upcoming show at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Related post: Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty

Happy viewing, hon.

Epitaph-Repost

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Today is a year since my mom passed, so I’m sharing these beautiful quotes in her memory.

“…we should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important things of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honour heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honour the Pharaohs. Only instead of being made out of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you. That’s why your deeds are like your monuments. Built with memories instead of with stone.”
― R.J. Palacio

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

I wear a veil of sadness. My mother’s illness and passing has left me unmoored, so please bear with me as I stand in an ocean, the waves lapping and tugging, lapping and tugging.

img_7227 img_7228

Epitaph by Merrit Malloy

When I die

Give what’s left of me away

To children

And old men that wait to die.

 

And if you need to cry,

Cry for your brother

Walking the street beside you.

And when you need me,

Put your arms

Around anyone

And give them

What you need to give to me.

 

I want to leave you something,

Something better

Than words

Or sounds.

 

Look for me

In the people I’ve known

Or loved,

And if you cannot give me away,

At least let me live on in your eyes

And not your mind.

 

You can love me most

By letting

Hands touch hands,

By letting bodies touch bodies,

And by letting go

Of children

That need to be free.

 

Love doesn’t die,

People do.

So, when all that’s left of me

Is love,

Give me away.

Birthday Girl-Repost

My mom and third granddaughter.

My mom and third granddaughter.

Today would have been my mom’s 76th birthday. I’m re-posting this, along with an introspective quote, in her memory. 

“The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts….We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.”

― Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember: Uncollected Pieces

Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Buckle.

Cream butter, sugar and egg.

Add dry ingredient to butter mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

Fold in blueberries.

Sprinkle topping on top, pressing into batter in 3-4 places.

 

 

 

 

Ready for the oven.

Ready to eat.

Two adorable little girls.

Two beautiful teenagers. Friends since 1st grade.

Blueberry Buckle

In lots of my cookbooks, stories accompany recipes. A recipe might be passed down, a family favorite, or bring up a funny memory. This Blueberry Buckle comes with a story, too. I had just turned to the recipe in my daughter’s elementary school cookbook when my daughter’s friend said, “That’s my mom’s recipe!” And so it is. Now, every time I make this not-too-sweet-but-deliciously-tart Buckle, I will think of the two adorable little girls who have grown into beautiful teenagers right before my eyes.

Shout out to Wendy Nubel for the recipe and Linda Eagle for putting the Wyoming Wild Cooks Cookbook together.

Happy baking, hon.

Ingredients Cake:

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature (I used margarine.)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup low-fat (2%) milk (I used almond milk.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed and drained

Ingredients Topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/3 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature (I used margarine.)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch round springform pan or a deep-dish pie pan.

2.  In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, cream butter, sugar and egg with an electric mixer. Add milk and vanilla, then beat until light yellow and fluffy. Stir in flour mixture, then carefully fold blueberries and spread in pan.

4. In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients with fingers until blended, then sprinkle on top of batter. Press your fingers about half-way down into batter in 3 or 4 places until batter looks bumpy.

5. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist, but not wet, crumbs. It can be served warm right from the pan. Heads up: it took longer to bake, which may be a result of my substitutions.