Monthly Archives: June 2020

Summer Reading

 

We’ve made it to  summer.  While coronavirus remains a threat, the weather is warm and, until fire season, we have a great opportunity to read (and drink!) So pull your lounge chair into the shade, mix a martini, and sink into a good read.

Here’s what’s on my list:

The Paris Package by A.W. Harton, set in pre-WW2 Europe. A young American couple on honeymoon in Vienna take possession of a book the Nazis don’t want  to surface, and they must get the book to its rightful owner in Paris.  The SS knows they’ve got it and are on their trail. I’m trying the Kindle/audiobook sync on this one. Too exciting to put down! I can listen while I make dinner.

 

The Blue Period by Luke Jerod Kummer about the young Picasso’s “blue period” as he bounced between Barcelona and Paris. Kindle.

Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon—seven Outlander universe short stories to tide us through the season break! Audiobook.

 

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart all about the sordid lives of plants behaving badly. Want to kill, maim, intoxicate or possibly drive someone mad? Do it nature’s way. Paperback.

 

No Bad Deed the debut thriller by Heather Chavez turns my home county into a menacing backdrop to a terrifying game of cat and mouse. Hardbound.

Not for everyone on the list, Steven James, Story Trumps Structure. How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules is jam-packed with great information. It was recommended by my favorite writer of mysteries set in Paris, Cara Black. She’s written 19 books. I’ve read them all. Start with the first book: Murder in the Marais and finish with the latest, Three Hours in Paris.


Finally, the drinking part! A Drinkable Feast. A Cocktail Companion to 1920s Paris by Philip Greene. Did you ever wonder what the Lost Generation drank and where they drank it? A Drinkable Feast not only offers the recipes, but tells the stories behind the drinks and the artists, writers, and celebrities who drank them. My favorite so far? The Bailey created by Gerald and Sara Murphy, wealthy American ex-pats—the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s protagonists in Tender is the Night.

 

The Bailey

2 oz. Hendricks gin
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1-2 tsp. simple syrup
2 sprigs of mint

Tear up the mint leaves into a shaker, add the gin and steep for a couple of minutes, add the grapefruit then lime juices. Shake with ice and don’t allow it to dilute. Strain into a wine or cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of mint. Enjoy!

 Drinking and literature—a time honored pairing!

And if you haven’t already, pop open a Victoria and try out the JadeAnne Stone Mexico Adventures. Lawn chair travel—next best thing to being there! These will offer you plenty of suspense and muy rico meals. Book three, Nothing Comes After Z is scheduled for release late this year.

2SET UP postcard   +   Now in digital and paperback  +

(and if poetry is your thing, check out Nature Girl. All available on Amazon)

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Filed under Books, Reviews

The Virus and US by Russell Hvolbek

Miasma—www.stufftoblowyourmind.com

The Virus and US

So, now, a miasma here.

Not only over there, somewhere

backward, but here too in our towns,

gleaning away the soft jostling of

American life; a little money

made and spent, children maturing,

mothers and fathers dying of old age, normal

as it should be, has been, is

normal no more.

The virus roils, exposes our naivety:

Humans have no more purchase of earth

than a virus.

 

 

 

Meet Russell Hvolbek:

Russell Hvolbek is an intellectual historian with a PhD from The University of Chicago. He has written three books, the most recent, Humans: What We Are and Why We Exist, argues that language and the historical fields they produce, brought humans beyond the grooves of nature. Humans came into existence when they became able to name themselves. Humans are a language-historical creation. He is concerned that the utilitarian realm of facts and data have so overwhelmed us, we can no longer ponder what we are.

Russell now finds that people opposed to having to think through difficult ideas are more likely to engage them if they are presented as poetry. He now writes more poetry than prose.
Contact: Russell Hvolbek 818-746-0757 rhhone@hotmail.com

 

On Amazon

On GoodReads

 

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Filed under COVID19, Guest Bloggers, Poetry

Hope and Determination

 

On March 10th I walked across the border into Tijuana on an adventure to discover the best street tacos and learn firsthand how refugees are faring at our locked-down border.  And while overlooking The Wall, clinking margarita glasses,  I didn’t imagine that 48 hours later I’d be back home with my husband, both unemployed refugees of COVID-19, locked down within my own borders at home.

 

Coronavirus has slowed things down.  My days are long and task-full as spring dries into our golden summer—I’ve pulled thistles, weeded the perennial borders, mowed the oats, piled the downed eucalyptus for dump truck pick up and filled jars of delicate Cecile Brunner roses to scent the house. I’ve cleaned my cupboards, closets, pantry, scrubbed baseboards, wiped the framed artwork, washed shelves, cabinets and walls and dusted away cobwebs. I’ve tried new recipes, invented my version of the Covidtini and howled with the neighbors at 8 pm.  Now I practice yoga with a Zoom group, walk with a masked walking group, virtually chat with girlfriends over wine, talk to friends for hours on the phone  and share socially distanced game afternoons with our neighbors. Wine and Punderdome anyone?

At first fear was the driving factor. How would we pay the mortgage? The insurances? Eat? Would we catch COVID? I remembered the Guatemalan moms and children in Tijuana, emigres from gang violence and poverty—waiting, hoping—even in the face of being 4000 names down on the US Immigration interview list.

 

In TJ,  what I found was hope and determination. I’m not going to let  Coronavirus get the better of my family. I learned Zoom and Canvas and restarted two of my classes. I joined a daily “write-in” and am busy writing the third novel in my Mexico series. I landed editing jobs, created a schedule and two months later, I’m more productive than before the virus. (Hoo boy! I’m tired.)

I credit my family’s recovery to the hope I found in the faces of people who don’t have our resources or opportunities. Every day I remember these refugees as I jot my gratitude in my journal or stop to smell the roses, iris, wild asters, lavender. . . . Lockdown has turned from a disaster to a happier, more relaxed and socially connected life. Imagine, I haven’t had to put gas in my car since the 4th of April! We’re managing to pay the bills, we’re spending more time happily at home (the 8 pm howling helps) and the stack of bedside books has dwindled.

Now please excuse me, it’s cocktail time, and I want to toast you with my newest creation, the I Beat It-tini. Here’s to all you writers. Now, let’s get back to work!

ZOOM and Canvas classes start up on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday  June 8th, 9th and 11th for six week sessions. Register for on-line Summer Writing Classes Now!

Mondays 2-4 on Zoom: Vintagehouse.org Fee (707​) 996​-0311 6/8-7/13
Tuesdays 10-12:30 on-line through Napa Valley College​  Fee  (707) 302-2452 6/9-7/14
Tuesdays 4-6 on Canvas​ through Napa Valley College Free  (707) 302-2452  6/9-7/14
Thursdays 2-4 on Zoom through Rianda House  Free (707) 968-5877 6/11-7/16
                See you in class!

Better busy than bored, cabin crazy or homicidal!

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Filed under Classes, COVID19, Events