I'm shopping for new cookware. My current cookware was given to me as an engagement gift. I've been married for almost 27 years. It might be time to add something non-stick to my toolbox? Yeah, baby!

Considering my recent commitment to only buy American made goods this holiday season, the cookware is turning into a bit of a pickle. (Har har har....I crack me up.)

I love love LOVE Kitchenaid, but I read that Kitchenaid COOKWARE is not made in the USA, like their appliances are. I was looking at a set from Costco: 14 pieces of nice, hard-anodized aluminum non-stick cookware in configurations that are perfect for someone who really does cook. Where is it made? Taiwan.

So I found a couple of companies that do make their cookware in the good old USA. One set I really liked was $800 !!! Eight HUNDRED dollars. Oh. My. Goodness.

What to do?

NaNoWriMo Halfway

We are just over the halfway point in the insanity that is the NaNoWriMo challenge. I feel like I'm doing pretty well, being at just over 33,000 words at this point.  The writing is going well. My Sweet Hubs is wonderfully supportive, assuaging my guilt about not paying attention to anyone except my imagination and my qwerty keyboard.

I have a confession to make. I am a pantser. I know this is not the way a professional writes a novel, but I can't help it. It works for me. I figure out who my main characters are, the time and place for the storyline to evolve, and I put my hands on the home row. There may or may not be a general idea of where a story is going. For my NaNo project, I had a myriad of ideas, but settled on nothing. I just sat down and started writing.

For me, writing this is a lot like playing Barbies when I was a child. I didn't have a whole life figured out for them. I just put Barbie and Ken together and imagined what they would do. And what they would do next, and so on. Except, here I am not limited to how many dolls my parents could afford. I can put my dolls anywhere in the world and make them anything I want them to be. (What was that one episode of the Twilight Zone where the people find out that they are really just the playthings of some enormous child?)

Don't think that this means I just dash off whatever comes to me and that's all there is to it. My first draft is pretty much pure writing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. Then comes the work of revision, revision, revision.

With that in mind,  I'm going to share a small excerpt from "A Light In The Mountains", my NaNo project.
If you'd like to see the first chapter, click here.

June, 1861

     It was three more weeks before Genesis Nash pulled up his courage and spoke to his father about going off to war. Exodus waited to see what would happen before he considered it further.
    Abram was pitching hay to the milk cow when Genesis came to him. “Pop,” he began. “Um. Uh. Did you know that George Yeager and Amos McNeeley both went off to join the war?
    Abram put the pitchfork aside, leaned against the stall and took a deep breath. “And.?”
    “And... They’re both my age. Well, Amos is younger.”
    “And they’re going off to fight the Rebels.”
    “And I’m thinking about going, too.” Genesis hurried to continue before Abram could say anything. “I know you both think I’m too young. But I’m almost old enough and they won’t ask anyway. I’ve heard they don’t ask.”
    “Why do you want to fight the Rebels?” Abram asked.
    “Well. They shouldn’t be trying to break up the union this way. And they shouldn’t have fired on Fort Sumter.” Genesis’ answer lacked fire and he knew it. “Pop. If I don’t go off and see this, I might never get another chance. It will be the adventure I’ll remember all of my life. I’m a man now. I’ve got to go and join.”
    “What can I tell you, then, son? It won’t be an adventure. Oh, it will seem like one at first, and then when you get in your first fight and have to look a man in the face and kill him, the adventure will be gone and you’ll know that it’s hell on earth to war.”
    “But they’re Rebs! They’re the enemy! What’s so bad about killing an enemy?”
    “That’s what a young man thinks: that it’s easy to kill an enemy. But when you look right at him, and you see a face not unlike your own, and he speaks your language and maybe his father went to school with yours… and when you kill him and see the life evaporate from his eyes and you know you did it. Then you will know." Abram said, then continued.
   “I know you don’t believe me now. That’s alright. It’s just important for you to hear me so that you will remember my words on that future day when you will need them. Call him ‘enemy’ now, son, but remember always that he is a man. He is someone’s son, brother, husband… and to him you are the ‘enemy’. Never forget that whatever you are fighting over, he is still a man, just like you.”
    Now Genesis sat down and took a moment to collect his thoughts. “Did you kill anyone in the Mexican War, Pop?”
    “I did, and I will never forget it. I doubt I’ll ever get over it, either. He couldn’t have been more than 16. The way his eyes changed when he died…the light went out behind them, and he was gone. And it was me that killed him.” Abram’s voice trailed away.

Always....feel free to comment!

Playing along at lovelinks today....


An American Holiday

At least, a holiday NOT made in China.

My Sweet Hubs and I made a pact: we are not buying even one thing that was made in China this holiday season. The same for products made in Taiwan, Pakistan, Korea....or any of the other countries who are glutting the American market with their cheaply-made goods and undercutting American companies.

I don't have anything against folks making a living. Of course not. But I AM a big believer in making wise financial decisions. We need to protect our own economy, and one place to start doing that is to buy American-made goods.

So, I don't guess we'll be buying any Christmas lights. What we have will have to do. (Unless you know of a place to buy lights made in America?) We'll be reading the labels on every product we buy.

We also have a pact with our sweet boomerangs: Christmas is paring down. It is a holiday for family, for remembering the birth of the Savior. We're all grown ups. We will spend the day together, and have a feast, and be grateful that we are all together. Gifts are superfluous.

Only a minor rant here. I hear you groaning. All the way over here, I hear you saying to yourself, "But my kids are still young enough to get toys for Christmas, and those are mostly made in China."

It's a crying shame if all the cool toys are made in China. It will be an even bigger shame if more breadwinners lose their jobs to the China trade.

Choose American-made goods and buy them locally whenever possible. Buy gift certificates for LOCAL services instead of a gift card for more online buying. Choose gift certificates for locally-owned restaurants instead of another one to the Olive Garden, which they didn't use last year, anyway.

Just a thought.


Chapter 1: A Light In The Mountains

For my NaNoWriMo challenge, I am working on the sequel to "A Gathering of Light". This is the rough draft of chapter 1. Comments absolutely welcome!! (Just bear in mind it IS a first draft!)

Outside of Hellgate Trading Post,
Idaho Territory, May 1861

Abram Nash was rousted from his sleep by the dog tugging on his hand. She had his hand firmly, but gently, in her mouth and was trying to pull him out of bed.
“Peaches, what is it?” Abram said in a sleepy whisper. The dog pulled until Abram’s feet were on the floor. She waited in the hall until he slipped his boots on and followed her. Peaches trotted to kitchen door and looked back.
“Can’t you wait ‘til sunup like the rest of us?” He grumbled, thinking the collie-mix dog just needed to do her business. Abram opened the door and turned to go back to bed, but Peaches darted back and grabbed his hand again.
“What? Girl, are you smelling things again, or what?” But Abram followed Peaches, anyway, in spite of his grumbling. The whinny from the barn startled the sleep from his brain and Abram Nash figured out what his dog was trying to tell him.
The buckskin mare was having her foal. She was confined to her stall in the barn and the Nash family was keeping a close eye on her. This was her first foal and she was Geneva Nash’s favorite mare. Abram was anxious to see this foal, with a buckskin dam and palomino sire, it was sure to be handsome. It wouldn’t matter. Geneva would love it no matter what it looked like.
Abram whispered in his sleeping wife’s ear, “Geneva. It’s foaling time. Gen. Genny. Wake up Gen. We have work to do.”
He brushed the caramel strands from her face and waited for her green eyes to open. Geneva was a ranch wife and woke early every day with never a complaint; she worked cheerfully until the day’s chores were done. But when she slept, she slept like a dead thing. Hard, quiet and damn near impossible to rouse.
At last, she rolled to her back and opened her eyes.
“Wake up Mrs. Nash. There’s going to be a new mouth to feed this day.” Abram said.
“Is Cupcake having her foal?” Geneva was awake and on her feet in the same breath.
Abram smiled at his impulsive wife, running out to the barn in her bare feet and nightgown. Thirty-six years old and she still had the exuberance of a girl. The moonlight shining through her nightgown showed still had the slim, supple build of a girl, too, except for the softness of her belly, so newly after childbirth.
The early May morning was chilly, and within just a few minutes, Geneva was back inside to start the coffee and get dressed. First foals, like first babies, generally took a while.
When the bacon was fried and biscuits ready to bake, Geneva Nash rang the bell, waking her brood and starting the day. One by one, their sleepy faces appeared around the kitchen table. Daughter Patience helped Geneva get breakfast on the table and the oldest sons, Genesis and Exodus milked the two dairy cows before it was time to eat.
It was Leviticus’ job to fill the wood bins, and Deuteronomy had to bring in enough water to fill the reservoir on the wood stove, plus two buckets besides. On wash day, he had to fill the laundry tub, too.
Judge Nash was ten years old, and he helped Abram feed the stock. Temperance made the beds and Faith, Hope and Charity, ages 7, 6 and 5 respectively, fed the poultry and gathered the morning eggs. Joshua and Samuel, only 3 and 1, sat in their high chairs attended by Patience, while Geneva put the newborn twins Isaiah and Ezra to breast.
Morning in the Nash family was a whirlwind.

“I heard that George Yeager joined up to fight the Rebs.” Genesis Nash told his brother Exodus. Their milking chores gave them a little time for confidential talk.
“But George ain’t old enough to join. He’s only seventeen.” Exodus said.
“He told them he was eighteen, and nobody checked to make sure.”
“So? What are you saying?” Exodus knew it wasn’t just conversation.
“If he can get away with it, I can, too. I look older’n seventeen, don’t I? I know I look older than George. What you think Pop would do if I lied about my age and joined up?” Genesis asked.
Exodus thought a while. What would Pop do? “I don’t know what he’d do, brother. He might be mad, but then, he might understand, too. If I was you, I’d be more worried about what Momma would do.”
Genesis sat up on his milking stool and pictured what his Momma might do. She was only about five feet tall and maybe a hundred pounds, but the thought of crossing her gave him a sick feeling in the pit of his gut. The streaks of red in her caramel hair were a comment on her personality. Most of the time she was cool headed and warm hearted. But get crossways of her, and the red showed itself.
Thinking back over his seventeen years of life, Genesis couldn’t remember her ever actually doing anything in particular when that crimson fury showed up behind her green eyes. It was just that the feeling of having Momma displeased with you was so uncomfortable. She didn’t say anything, or whup up on you like some Mommas did. She wasn’t mean when she was mad. That just made it all the worse. She was always so patient and cheerful, that when she ever did get mad, you took notice. To have been the one who made her mad made you feel like a real snake. Momma didn’t have to do anything about it. You beat yourself up, feeling terrible that you could be so bad that you made Momma unhappy.
Now, Pop: he was different. Genesis could picture the way Pop’s black eyebrows came together in a frown, and how his almost-black eyes snapped with anger. He might use the bible to teach you the lesson he wanted you to learn. He might show you the verse that told you what was wrong with what you did. He might make you copy down that verse many times, depending on your transgression. You might earn yourself a long lecture that sounded and felt a lot like a sermon. Or he might just make you go out to the creek bottom and cut a switch from the willow tree. You could never tell with Pop.
“What about you? You’re sixteen. Ain’t you tempted to go join up and fight them Rebs?” Genesis asked.
“I don’t know. I’ve thought about. But it such a hard decision. I’d have to lie, and I hate to lie. Pop needs us both here. With all the little ones, he needs us bigger ones to work. Anyway, I bet that fight will be over by the time we can get all the way from the territory here to South Carolina. But then, we might never have the chance to have such an adventure again. We’d see places we might not ever see otherwise, and meet people from all over. Plus, those Rebels, firing on Fort Sumter: it makes me mad. It’d be like slapping Pop. You just don’t do that. They need to be punished, that’s sure. But I don’t know about us being the ones to do it. We’re just ranchers. What do we know about fighting wars?”
Temperance bounced her little blond pigtails into the barn and told the boys that breakfast was almost ready. At nine years old, she was already growing into a beauty and was so sweet that even her big brothers never picked on her. She didn’t flounce or priss around, but was such an angel child that no one could ever be cross with her.
“Mommy says the biscuits are brown and coffee is hot. Are you done with the milking, yet?” Temperance asked.
“This old cow is just about played out.” Genesis said. “We’ll need to get her freshened before long. Here, walk on this side of me, little cookie. Sometimes that cow kicks and her big foot would kick a little nubbin like you into next week.”
Temperance took his hand and bobbed along beside him like a kite on a string. Walking with her big brother was one of her favorite things in life.
The rest of the family was already at the table when the oldest two and Temperance walked in.  She slid into her chair, Genesis and Exodus plunked the milk buckets down and sat, too.
“We’ll bow our heads”, Started Abram. “Heavenly Father, King of the Universe, we thank Thee for the food on our table, the health in our bodies and the strength of our family. Forgive us our sins and make us worthy of Thy bounty. Amen.” The morning prayer was usually short and to the point with Abram Nash. He was homesteading a big spread and had a lot to do every day. God would understand.
“I think we’ll have a new foal around her by nightfall, youngsters.” Abram told his brood, while he slid four eggs from the platter onto his plate. Ten of his fourteen children were old enough to understand what that meant. The girls all squealed with joy, provoking a quick hush from their father.
“Piglets squeal, not girls.” He said.
They ducked their heads, but were still smiling, because Pop was smiling, too. The clinking of forks on plates and blowing on hot coffee replaced the chatter and giggling, until newborn Isaiah howled. He wasn’t quite full when the biscuits were done, but had to be put in his crib for a moment, anyway. He was not a tolerant baby. By the time Geneva could put him to breast, he was purple mad and hiccupping in his howls.
“Oh, are we all going to have trouble with this one, family.” Geneva smiled. “He is going to be the one to punch sweet Patience here in the nose, when he gets bigger.”
“And he’ll spit in Faith’s eye.” Patience said. She looked at Faith like she was passing the ball to her in a game.
“And he’ll pinch Deuteronomy on the arm!” Faith said, and looked at him to give him his turn.
“He’ll twist Judge’s ear!” Deuteronomy said.
“He’ll slap Genesis upside the head” Judge took his turn at the game.
“He’ll bite Hope’s finger!” Genesis said.
“He’ll pull Charity’s pigtail!” Hope said.
“And he’ll give Temperance a horse-bite!” Hope said, but she lisped it ‘Tempwance’.
“He’ll trip Exodus and make him fall down!” Temperance said.
“He’ll poke Leviticus in the eye!” Exodus said.
“And then what will he do?” Leviticus asked. “He’ll take little Joshua here and squeeze him until he sneezes all over Samuel, and Samuel will only have Ezra left to pick on.” Leviticus took Ezra out of his crib and cradled his baby brother in his arm. “And nobody could ever pick on Ezra because he is so handsome”
Geneva and Abram looked across the table at each other and smiled.
“I never heard such a bunch of silly children in my life.” Abram scolded, though he wasn’t really mad. “Now eat your breakfast and get to your chores. And I don’t want to see you all hanging around Cupcake’s stall and making her nervous, either. She has a big day ahead of her and it will just be harder on her if you make her nervous. You hear?
“Yes, sir.”  Even 3-year-old Joshua said it in unison with the rest. Game time was over, and Pop was serious.


I took the plunge. I'm trying it. Close my eyes, hold my breath and jump into the deep end. Which is an especially appropriate metaphor because I don't know how to swim. Honest. I don't.

Do you know about NaNoWriMo? It's a competition with yourself. The National Novel Writing Month, to write almost 1700 words every day for the month of November. At the end, if I do it, I will have my sequel.

So until December 1st, my dear ones, don't expect to see a lot of new posts. I have a deadline!

Would you like to read my first chapter? I'll post it next.

What I See--Alita

Oh, Alita! What can I say? We've known eachother for so many years! Alita and I became acquainted first because our husbands worked to...