Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 6 Link Log

Back to three pages of e-mail (after sorting out the spam and bacon). Categories: Shameless Self-Promotion, Animals, Books, Christian, Crafts, Food, Fun, Health, Holidays, Phenology, Poems, Politics, Shopping, Weird, Writing. (No Zazzle, and this time it's their fault for not getting their e-mail out earlier this morning. I got through today's e-mail and, toward closing time, am only just touching last night's.)

Shameless Self-Promotion 

Hire me to write for you at https://www.fiverr.com/priscillaking#! . Fiverr paid up as promised! Hurrah! Youall are hereby cordially invited to use that site to promote your services, too! And, since I see a lot of requests for help for book writers at Freelancer and Guru, which have so far failed to pay, here's where to hire me to help write a book at Fiverr:


Well...some of my best research and writing went into those obsolete FacTapes. Can I help produce an audiobook? Touch wood, cross fingers, spit in hat...my phone doesn't do great audio recordings, but it does clearly audible ones. I've not tested how long a single audio file can be, on the phone, or whether reading a book-length manuscript that would've made a box of tapes in the Good Old Days will actually be efficient with the technology I have. We can always try.



Cat links came in first today...

Tiana from Atlanta: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/36238475
Sweet Pea
Sweet Pea from New York: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/4756289
Panda from Bethesda: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/36577000

Is the practice of "declawing" cats about to be banned? It probably ought to be, because it's unnecessary. If a Cat Sanctuary cat uses its claws inappropriately, I clip its claws; so far all I've ever had to worry about is that every week or two some cats will take a dig at something that belongs to me, just to get some more attention. (Yes, Polly used that "human's legs as scratching post" behavior when asserting herself as Queen of the Cat Sanctuary. The surprising thing is that, like most cats who do this, she didn't like human blood and was able to paw-scent-mark my legs without drawing blood. I felt her "scratching" just the topmost, dead layer of skin, as if I'd been scratching an itch.)



And a related petition...I didn't notice that I was signing it, but youall may want to sign it too:


The post below does a lot to explain why, after Barnie the Antisocial Cat came and went, Inky the Manx Waif suddenly noticed she outweighed Heather and Irene the Social Cats and started repaying their generous hospitality in such a nasty way. Well, at least now Inky's moved on, too...



Wendy Welch shares a unique local-interest book...no, you don't have to go to Big Stone Gap to buy a copy. (Everybody should go to Big Stone Gap at some time in their life, but I recommend going in summer.) The Little Bookstore would be delighted to sell you copies online.


I'm sharing this one out of sheer frustration. I'd like to share Jim Geraghty's e-mail--the full text--about the American Atheist grinches, and that goes against both my editorial policy and his. You need to subscribe to NRO to get his e-mails. This web site now shares only nonprofit e-mails, from elected officials or from individuals who write to us once in a while, but not newsletters or e-mails from'zine editors. Here's JG's book, instead.


Darkness is an interesting metaphor...



My take on this news tidbit differs from the Blaze's or the Huffington Post's. I see Natalie Baxter coming up with a fresh, novel gimmick to market her handcrafts...and I salute that. (The Blaze has the most informative headline, for those who don't want to bother reading the whole story; I thought it was worth clicking to see the quilted machine-gun pillows, but then my computer tolerates Blaze cookies better than some do.)


I've not done a non-book Amazon link for a while. In honor of +Sandy KS 's Christmas shopping list, and the popularity of elaborate "adult" coloring books ("adult" because they call for fine-pointed pencils or markers) as stress relievers, and the stress the teenager mentioned seems to be coping with...

 136 colors!
136 colors!

And here's a photo guide to all you ever wanted to know about making sock monkeys, or a whole little sock zoo:


Food (Yum) 

For the carnivores:


Warning: you can make pancakes with gluten-free flour, but they will not taste the same. I like cornmeal pancakes with a bit of flaxmeal and/or an egg for binding power. Having the pan just a degree or two below the smoking point definitely helps lighten them; impatience with my wood stove has given me more tolerance for heavy, soggy, slow-cooked cornbread than some people have. With eggnog...cornmeal pancakes would definitely taste different. With pumpkin? ??? Different, but probably better than bean bread. (With banana, pineapple, chocolate-and-banana, blueberry-and-cinnamon, or candied-ginger-and-five-spice-powder, cornmeal pancakes can be pretty good.) Rice-and-potato flour might make fancy-flavor pancakes that taste more like eggnog-enhanced wheat-based pancakes, if the flour is fresh. One of these days this web site will get together and work this out...



This sweet gluten-free cookie story...reminds me so vividly of Grandma Bonnie Peters' brilliant start and epic fail with Allergy-Ease Veggie Burgers. Stay small, small start-up companies. If you invest everything in a big splashy start, the big food industry is all set up to see that you lose everything. While this web site opposes all forms of protectionism, we recommend that entrepreneurs stay small and take advantage of being small until they grow, rather than trying to go mano a mano with ConAgra during your first year. (I said this to GBP. I was ignored. I grieved with her.) I'd like to see Reason To Bake outlast Allergy-Ease Foods. I'd like to see GBP's granddaughter (the child on the package of Allergy-Ease foods, now a teenager), who inherited the cooking gene and whose fever-related brain damage is less drastic than autism or Downs Syndrome, get a job with RTB.



Do you subject children to the photo-with-Santa routine? If so, you may appreciate these out-takes from the ritual:


Here are some (I say better) ways to entertain children during holiday exhaustion:



Here's a more positive, empathetic reply to the discussion of "caretaker burnout" that appeared here last summer:



Abi Sutherland explains Pakjesavond:


This playlist is shared because it's so different from mine...well, I've not lived with teenagers full-time for a while. (My favorite carols are for singing and/or singing along with. Most of them come from the Oxford Book of Carols and/or the Mennonite hymnal (which was what my parents had when I was learning to play them on the piano) and/or Jim Reeves' Christmas album--but maybe my Long List of Songs to Sing While Fundraising for Your Favorite Mission does deserve a blog post. One of my silly stunt "talents" is having learned the words and tunes to nine hours' worth of Christmas carols.)


Phenology Links 

Illinois celebrates the first Real Snow this winter. Here in Virginia, we get rain...I just checked. According to Bing, the temperature in Hell, Michigan, is (at the moment of checking, about 11 a.m.) exactly where it was at the Cat Sanctuary when I left (about 8 a.m.)--exactly where you probably want the temperature to be in your refrigerator. In both Michigan and Virginia the temperature has risen by 12 Fahrenheit-degrees since sunrise, and as usual it's about 10 F-degrees warmer in Virginia. I mention this for the benefit of anyone who wants to needle a profane acquaintance who has promised, at some time in the past year, to do something "when Hell freezes over." It does, every winter, and Accuweather will tell you when. Anyway, Naomi the Nature Nerd has posted the official First Snow Picture this web site has received:



This web site is aware that some readers' one regret about Fidel Castro's demise was that it didn't happen fifty years earlier. Nevertheless: brave people criticize those in power, less brave people criticize those on the way down, and people who are just plain mean bash the dead. Alice Walker heard things about Castro that made her admire him, when she was young, and saw things about him that allowed her to like him, when she was old enough and famous enough to get a chance to meet him. Good and bad things can be said about everybody. Let the good as well as the bad be remembered.



Even when it's a beautiful free choice, communism is freedom only for the minority who have chosen it...not unlike celibacy.


Professional protesters? Hmph. Some people need to get lives.


From Penny Nance:

What a disaster ObamaCare has proven to be. The stories of decreases in coverage, along with unreasonable increases in cost, seem endless. And it’s not going to get better any time soon.

According to the Heritage Foundation, “in 2017, on the ObamaCare exchanges in 39 states, the average premium increase for the benchmark plan will be 25 percent.”

That’s on top of the steep increases we’ve already seen!

Thank God, President-elect Trump has plans to repeal this job-killing, economy-crippling legislation. But that is just step one in the process of making health care both more proficient and more affordable for American families.

It must be a priority for the President-elect and also Congress.


For those who want to continue buying prezzies for people who have everything...actually, if "everything" includes arthritis in the hands, this might be a good idea. (Reposing on the porch of the Cat Sanctuary is a vintage jar of preserved strawberries nobody was able to open for long enough that, by the time a big strong young relative visited, we'd repurposed the jar for use as a weapon. All poachers, trespassers, and raccoons should tremble.)


Elizabeth Barrette's "Winterfaire" blog post is a link-up for crafters:



This woman blames the presidential election for her boyfriend trouble? (And he's probably glad, because at least she's not blaming him...)



How to prevent burnout...for bloggers or traditional writers. (Rita Mae Brown said something similar, years ago. I love that typewriter--have a couple just like it. I loved reading her book, too.)


Jerry Jenkins on one of the basic writing skills challenges for new writers:


Hmm. Now will I make the e-time to "syndicate" a post at Niume? We shall see. I still have a post here that I was supposed to have updated last week, and I'm getting down into the last hour of online time today...


Morgan Griffith on Memorials

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9), showing that this web site does post his e-mails even when we don't agree with them. This web site will agree that Jeannette Rankin's being the first woman in the U.S. Congress was overshadowed by her pacifist vote in 1941--when this web site becomes aware of any Member of Congress with every single one of whose votes this web site would have agreed. (If such a vote ever came up, this web site would, in fact, be distraught that the U.S. Congress took time to vote on anything so stupefyingly obvious...clear labels for GMOs may come close.)

Monday, December 5, 2016–
A Date Which Will Live in Infamy?
Seventy-five years ago, on the morning of December 7, 1941, the United States of America was “suddenly and deliberately attacked.”
At the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes destroyed eight massive battleships and more than 300 airplanes and killed 2,000 Americans.
One ship, the USS Oklahoma, was hit with torpedoes and capsized with 400 men trapped inside. In a horrifying scenario, the men trapped under the water slowly ran out of air. Rescuers heard taps from inside the ship but could only save a handful of men, and after a few days the tapping stopped.
The day after the attack, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered a moving speech to a joint session of Congress in which he declared that December 7, 1941 was “a date which will live in infamy.” In the speech, he also asked Congress to declare war on Japan, stating, “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion... I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.”
As families were receiving word of lost loved ones, Americans were reeling with the news of this horrific attack on our soil, and men on the USS Oklahoma were still trapped gasping for air, one member of Congress voted against declaring war on Japan.
Jeannette Rankin was the only member of Congress to vote against declaring war on Japan and entering World War II. She had been one of a handful of members who earlier in her life had voted against entering World War I as well. While some may present an argument for the vote against WWI, there is no justifying voting against defending ourselves from the Japanese.

This attack occurred seventy-five years ago this week. So imagine my surprise when, this April, the House voted to name a federal science and technology program after Congresswoman Rankin (H.R.4570). I voted against this bill but was only joined by five of my colleagues.

I will note the bill was on suspension and perhaps some of my colleagues did not pay attention to who they were voting to honor. Perhaps some of my colleagues wouldn’t vote against honoring Rankin because it wouldn’t be politically correct to vote against the first female elected to Congress. But political correctness does not excuse Rankin’s vote against self-defense. When voting no, Rankin said, “As a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.” However, women had been among the forty-nine civilian casualties on Oahu, and thousands of women across the nation had husbands, fathers, and brothers among the dead and wounded. During the war, nearly 350,000 brave women enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), and the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots. Rankin’s sex did not justify voting against the declaration of war then, and it does not justify honoring her now.

It is my opinion that despite other achievements of Congresswoman Rankin, it is more important to remember Pearl Harbor and honor the lives lost than to honor someone who voted against defending the United States while our ships were still on fire, while our troops in the Philippines were under attack, and while men inside the Oklahoma were tapping desperately hoping someone would come to their rescue.
When I talk to my children about WWII, they react as though it was ancient history, but I am teaching them that December 7, 1941, is “a date which will live in infamy.” Although the world is much changed since those times, it was not so long ago. In my life, I have been honored to know brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen who fought for our nation in that gruesome war. For the WWII veterans that are alive today, and all those who served, we must remember and honor their sacrifices.
On this year’s seventy-fifth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, it is particularly important to remember the lives lost in the devastating attack and in the war that followed. In this seventy-fifth anniversary year, voting to honor Jeannette Rankin showed that many in Congress no longer regard December 7 as “a date which will live in infamy.”

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Book Review: Lighthouse

Title: Lighthouse

Author: Eugenia Price

Date: 1971 (Revell), 1972 (Bantam)

Publisher: Revell (1971), Bantam (1972)

ISBN: none

Length: 338 pages

Quote: “Schooners in the harbor meant money…Now, he was about to design and build a frame house for one of the town’s leading citizens. ‘My first house,’ he whispered, ‘and I’m not scared’.”

James Gould and his wife Jane were real. Enough documents about them have survived that Eugenia Price was able to spin the novel Lighthouse about their real lives in and outside old Savannah, from James’s boyhood in the Revolutionary War years up to Janie’s death in 1820.

The basic events of this story are fact. Young James dreams, in New England, of the exotic Southern colonies where he’s read that it’s possible to enjoy a barbecue outdoors on Christmas Day; he goes into the construction business, gets a surveying assignment that sends him to Georgia, and moves to St. Simons Island. Having been disappointed by his first love, he meets a more congenial young woman, marries her, and becomes a successful builder. He dreams of building a lighthouse for the island. Eventually he does.

Perhaps in order to provide a plot, partly based on hints in his real story,  Price plays up the elements of romance and spirituality in Gould’s biography. Both emotional sentiments received more attention from the generation after Jane and James Gould than they received from these characters’ own generation. However, Price has Jane fretting that James is less “spiritual” than he ought to be, and James praying and having a “spiritual” experience during Jane’s serious illness in 1813. (Facing the last page of the book, Price tells us that Jane recovered fully from that illness and died seven years later.)

Probably also invented are some conversations one can imagine Price, who was not a native Southerner, imagining for herself as she studied about Savannah and St. Simons at the turn of the nineteenth century. Gould was not the plantation type, and did not buy slaves by the hundred, but he owned some slaves. Perhaps he debated the morality of owning slaves with his neighbors, and became one of those Georgians who decided to be the nominal owners of slaves they bought to protect the slaves from worse abusers. (In other times and places, emancipating slaves was expensive; in Georgia, at this period, it was illegal. Slaves could be sold but not freed.) Price has him buy a cook at auction, and beat up the auctioneer to show what he thinks of the slave trade—but this was anything but a Humanist period of history, and the crowd merely laugh when the auctioneer falls down.

White women  were very little more respected than Black women at this period of Georgia history. Price has James hesitate to bring Jane to the island after a laborer’s wife is raped, but Jane wants to be with him and comes anyway. James orders Jane never to go out alone. Laughing and teasing him, calling him “King James,” Jane goes out alone and immediately realizes that she’s being stalked by someone who at least wants to scare her and James. James has to enforce his own law by shooting the bully in the leg. This is followed by a horrible scene in which Jane promises that she’ll never step outside the door alone again because she is “a woman now.” The notions of honor and chivalry were found here and there in Virginia, around 1800—although women were still terrorized with the old traditional line about other men not being as decent as their own, and even up to 1900 many rural women lived in fear of bears—but it took a few more years for honor and chivalry to reach Georgia.

And, as for men…the image of a rich customer beating up an auctioneer, and people laughing, is typical of the Deep South. During the first years when the land around each new settlement was cultivated, it was in fact easy for any reasonably diligent man to become rich. In a way it was even fair that men ridiculed and despised anyone who failed to become rich. The richer men in the community became “Captain” or “Colonel” or “Squire,” and they and their sons were entitled to abuse other men, who were expected to agree that they were inferior.Again, Virginia and the Carolinas had their officially recognized aristocracy, imported from England, and Kentucky was the “wild frontier” where men supposedly established a social hierarchy based on fighting and hunting prowess, but Georgia had no basis for a social hierarchy except pure, unmitigated money-snobbery. Men like James Gould, who hadn’t been wealthy as a boy in Massachusetts, accepted that older and richer men had been or would have been entitled to beat them up when they were a little younger and poorer, and considered themselves entitled, by the same right, to beat up less wealthy men now.

Readers who bring a little historical perspective to Lighthouse will thus see, not only that James is a thoroughgoing racist, sexist, and elitist, but why he is one; how close to impossible it would have been for him not to be one. Personally, I winced—especially as I reflected that, in historical fact, James Gould’s relationships with the people around him were probably even worse than Price forces us to imagine them.

Because it's primarily a story that reflects attitudes that should be abhorrent to Christian readers, I hesitate to classify Lighthouse as a Christian novel, although Price wrote some specifically Christian books and the characters in Lighthouse considered themselves Christians. I did not find it a particularly inspirational read. It's the way these people really were, not the way they ought to have been.

It's also a vintage book that's ripe for a reprint, beginning to go into collector prices on Amazon. However, at the time of posting, it's still possible for this web site to offer Lighthouse at the usual price of $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment, and, as usual, you can add books by living writers (which are Fair Trade Books) to the package and subsidize a payment to those writers or the charities of their choice. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

New Book Review: Clean Eating Bowls

Fair disclosure: this is the third of those three books of which I received review copies, which I read and reviewed in the order in which they came out of the package. Because I'm rushing these reviews online in order to generate as much good publicity as possible, I've not actually tested the recipes at home yet. On the other hand, I'm getting free review copies of new cookbooks because I've used and reviewed a lot of the old ones; I can visualize (taste-ize? gustatorize?) how recipes are likely to taste. This is the quirkiest of the three California-cuisine cookbooks, and maybe you have to be familiar with California health-food-store food...I am. I found it appetizing, and I give Clean Eating Bowls maximum points for presenting the best recipe for a simple, not-necessarily-too-sweet, gluten-free, virtually-guaranteeable version of granola.

Title: Clean Eating Bowls

Author: Kenzie Swanhart

Date: 2016

Publisher: Rockridge

ISBN: 978-1-62315-786-9

Length: 154 pages plus 5-page index

Illustrations: color photos

Quote: “Diving into a clean eating lifestyle can seem daunting—cutting out sugars and processed foods in favor of cooking fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats—but bowls make it simple…to focus on all the goodness you can eat, rather than thinking of it as a restriction.”

Inspired by the “paleo diet” or idea of eating things as close to their natural state as possible, Kenzie Swanhart has progressed to exploring recipes for one-bowl meals. They’re organized into “Smoothie Bowls” (blender-processed fruit and veg), “Breakfast Bowls” (fruits, cereals, and/or eggs), “Grain Bowls” (rice, quinoa, farro wheat, barley, or oats), “Salad Bowls,” “Soup Bowls,” “Noodle Bowls,” a few “Dessert Bowls,” and finally ten “Bowl Necessities”—sauces, almond milk, and granola. 

Each chapter outlines how to “build a bowl.” Swanhart is neither vegan nor vegetarian, but each type of Bowl has many vegan options, and vegetarian recipes outnumber meat recipes.

For a Smoothie Bowl, Swanhart blends together a cup of flavorful fruit, a “base” of banana, avocado, or mango, a liquid, “some superfoods (optional)," sweetening (also optional), “sneak in some leafy greens" (half cup, optional), and when these are smoothed out in the blender some unground “toppings” of  fruit, nuts, or granola.

Breakfast Bowls can be sweet, assembled by stacking up a base of yogurt or cereal, a cup of fruit, “superfoods,” sweetening, and toppings similar to the Smoothie Bowls, or savory, with a base of grain, “a protein” (1/2 cup of meat, beans, or egg), a cup of vegetables, 2 tablespoons of dressing, and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds. One savory Breakfast Bowl that may surprise readers is “Baked Eggs and Ramps,” a “decadent Sunday brunch”  featuring wild onions wilted into a sauce, simmered with tomato, and used to poach one egg per serving.

The basic outline for Grain Bowls is one cup of grain, one cup of vegetables, one cup of “a protein,” 2 tablespoons of sauce, and the optional sprinkling of nuts, sprouts, or avocado.

Salad Bowls consist of one or two cups of greens, ½ cup of “a protein,” one cup of other fruits and veg, ½ cup of nuts or grains, and “ginger, lemon, oil, vinegar, salsa, vinaigrette. (to taste). The protein in some of these Bowls is cheese.

Soup Bowls begin with 1-2 tablespoons of oil or butter, then four cups of liquid, one cup of protein, two cups of vegetables, spices of choice, and toppings that may include more spices, nuts or  seeds…or bacon.

Noodle Bowls begin with a cup of noodles, topped with 1-2 cups of hot broth, ½ cup of “protein,” a cup of vegetables, and a topping of nuts or seeds. One recipe title that was new to me was "Poke Noodle Bowl." In the Appalachian Mountains, where the pungent wild onions known as ramps are native, another native food some people like is called "poke salad"--traditionally made by cooking the early, tender, low-toxicity first shoots of pokeweed. Was that the featured ingredient in the Poke Noodle Bowl? No; apparently the Hawaiian word poke, rhyming with "okay," has made it into Pacific Coast English as a new name for a specific tuna dish, so the Poke Noodle Bowl is a fish dish. It sounds a little more flavorful than the canned tuna Easterners usually eat.

Dessert Bowls are likely to be the strangest. Suggested bases are “avocado mousse, banana ice cream, chia seed pudding, coconut cream, or Greek yogurt,” topped with a half cup of fruit, sweetening and/or nut butter if necessary, and toppings of nuts, seeds, goji berries, or cacao powder. This is a short chapter and I have to admit that reading the recipes did not inspire me. However, there’s a valid reason why natural food enthusiasts concoct such weird desserts. If you’re seriously eating a “paleo” or natural-locavore diet, you don’t actually need dessert recipes. Most of the time, sun-ripened fruit provides all the sweetness an adult could want. (In winter, the “paleo” diet features dried fruits, which tend to be sweeter than I personally like. I can handle a spoonful of plain sugar, even a few dates or banana or pineapple slices chopped into cereal, but raisins…! Ouch!)

If you can use coconut oil (or substitute some other kind!), Swanhart’s granola recipe may be the simplest and tastiest I’ve ever come across. Most granola recipes call for ten or twenty different ingredients, at least one of which some member of your family probably hates, and if they feature raisins and honey they'll either be too sweet or have to be toned down with something that starts out bitter and gets bitterer in storage, and so on. Swanhart's recipe consists of oats and nuts, tossed with honey, cinnamon, and vanilla, and baked. If you can eat nuts, that granola is likely to taste good...for a good long time, too. If you have a trustworthy source of oats, it's gluten-free. If you slowly toast good fresh oats, almonds, cashews, and cinnamon to the right point, even if you lubricated the pan with a non-sweet oil, you can forget about the honey and have a naturally sweet sugar-free granola. 

The usual caution about honey applies: bees know they’re swallowing and regurgitating different concentrations of sweet goop, which they store in separate combs, but when humans mix it all together we never know how concentrated the sucrose is going to be or what other flavor notes are going to dominate the finished product, so if you do cook with honey you need to use caution and taste as you go...and even then, honeys made from different flowers react differently to heat! No recipe that calls for honey is reliable; most desserts made with honey tasted either unsweetened or disgustingly over-sweetened to me, with very few striking the balance we’ve all learned to expect from things sweetened with sugar. (The honey-sweetened desserts I've liked featured fresh fruit that was probably even better without the honey.)

Swanhart's “Bowls” are definitely novel cooking ideas (Salad Bowls are probably the easiest to explain to guests who haven’t read the book). If you’re blessed with access to good, organically grown, GMO-free fruit, veg, and grain, that means hundreds, maybe thousands of delicious novelties. (Given an outline for each type of Bowl, you can use these recipes to generate endless seasonal and local variations; the specific recipes merely offer cooking and seasoning suggestions, which your garden will expand...)

Most of these recipes are naturally “free” from sugar, chemical additives, and other things special diets help individuals avoid. Not all are gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, and for diabetics’ purposes honey is basically super-concentrated sugar, but for most restricted diets I suspect the majority of the Bowls are acceptable. Because “building a bowl” is so simple, it’s not hard to tweak any recipe you can’t use as written, either. Can’t eat barley? Substitute rice. Can’t eat rice? Substitute farro…and so on.

(Some people can't eat rice! Although this web site exists by and for Irish-Americans with wheat gluten intolerance, we have to mention that there's also a gene, noticed mostly by a minority of Asian people, for rice gluten intolerance. Natural rice, our staff of life, is those people's poison. Some real Chinese food is wheat-based, and some Chinese people actually need it to be. Ah, biodiversity...) 

I have to mention that the phrase “clean eating” sounds more than a tiny bit judgmental, and my personal definition of clean eating would definitely exclude bacon, hemp seed, and honey! Well, of course you don’t have to become a food nanny to use recipes that are part of some people's "healthy eating" or "clean eating" plans. Actually, several of the Soup, Grain, and Salad Bowls have flavors that would work quite nicely with a cheap greasy hamburger from the local fast-food shack, if you want to eat one of those. Maybe you do have to be a bit of a foodie to want to construct a Bowl of oatmeal, apple slices, pumpkinseeds, dried cranberries, chia seeds, and chopped ginger, but you don’t have to be a fanatic…if you slice in enough sweet, juicy apple and candy-like crystallized ginger, even oatmeal haters will enjoy that Bowl. 

I will admit some personal insight into the thought process that drives some people, if they’ve eaten a bowl of beet, carrot, Brussels sprout slices, kale, garbanzos, pomegranate, avocado, and miso, to go out and look for a cheeseburger. (That's what Swanhart describes as "probably the healthiest" Bowl of health-food-store favorites, but unwrinkle your little noses, kids...those flavors do work together, mellow each other out, and make quite a palatable "crazy salad.") Even if the cook has said not one word about how “healthy” the Salad Bowl was supposed to be, chasing it with a bag of greasy, salty chips can feel a bit like reclaiming a piece of the individual soul. Nevertheless, if you have good fresh fruit and veg, and you resist the urge to preach about them, even junk food junkies would eat most of these Bowls…and like them.

So…even within the California genre of cuisine, this is a strange cookbook, but in a nice way. Buy it if you can afford to buy excellent food and want to attract attention by doing something delightfully different with that excellent food. Especially buy it to tuck into a gift package along with a set of good-sized, handmade, beautifully quirky bowls.

2 Quart Stoneware Serving and Mixing Bowl by Arousing Appetites - Cream White Round Ceramic Serveware for Salad, Pasta and Soup with Decorative Design

Hmm...that's a nice mixing bowl. Maybe your family would prefer single-serving bowls?

Handmade Stoneware Soup or Chili Crock, Ceramic Bake and Serve Bowl

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Book Review: A Gathering Place

A Fair Trade Book

Title: A Gathering Place

Authors: Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer

Date: 2003

Publisher: Berkley/Penguin

ISBN: 0-425-19004-8

Length: 360 pages

Quote: “I am so happy once again to welcome you to Cape Light…a place where the pace is slower and people stop to savor the simple pleasures…I wanted to convey with words the same vision that my artwork expresses with paint—the values of faith, hope, family, and community.”

In 2003 the suicidally depressed “Painter of Light” didn’t have much more time to paint over his inner conflicts, but in A Gathering Place he did it again; there’s a lovely old New England church with glowing windows on the dust jacket, and a long story about all the nice neighbors who help each other through their various troubles in that purely imaginary church.

So we meet Mayor Emily Warwick, who gave up a daughter for adoption twenty-some years ago, and her daughter, Sara, who was happily adopted and has graduated from college already, and Dan Forbes, who is “trying to put out a paper with no staff” (oh, can I ever relate—which is why I don’t believe him), and his son, Wyatt, who edits Sara’s writing in Dan’s paper, and Digger, the old fisherman who gets lost in the fog on the beach one night, and other neighbors who “had worked together in a cooperative spirit typical of this town” to find him, including the Reverend Ben Anderson, whose quarrel with his own son is adversely affecting his ability to counsel other people…Sara even seriously wonders whether she should consider Wyatt as a “boyfriend,” while separated from the young man she’s been dating, and we’re not explicitly told why Wyatt’s such a wrong choice for Sara, but…

They’re all nice Christian people. They pray in times of crisis and say grace before meals. They’re the way the congregation of a small-town church want to be seen, which may be why I don’t quite get into their story. Was there an earlier “Cape Light Story” that explains why Emily looks at Dan when she wants “a little romance in her life”? Why did Dan’s wife leave, and where did she go? Am I reading too much into this romance between a single mother and a divorced man?

Everything works out, of course. On the final page Emily quotes a Bible text, “All things work together for good to them that love God.”

Somewhere, sometime, something like this story might have been real…for Spencer, if not for Kinkade. If you don’t quite believe it was, you wish it had been.

Personally…regular readers know that I’m not a Positive Thinker. I suspect Kinkade might have lived longer if he’d forced himself to look directly into the darkness in his life, instead of trying to see only the light. I’d feel better about fictional Dan’s and Emily’s romance if this novel had mentioned whether Dan was Sara’s father, and what happened to Sara’s father if he wasn’t Dan. A Gathering Place is Book 3, so maybe this was all explained in Books 1 and 2, but I've not read those.

Last Sunday this web site reviewed Reverend Randollph and the Holy Terror, in which a man who’s run away from penitence for his sins becomes a serial murderer who warns each of his victims with a reference to their past sins. That novel is fiction, just as A Gathering Place is fiction. I don’t believe either the “dark” extreme, where the unacknowledged sin impels the man all the way to murder, or the “light” extreme, where the unacknowledged sin can be simply swept out the back doors of everyone’s lives, is really typical of life—very often, or very long, anyway. 

I think there are obvious psychological dangers in trying to believe that either of these fictional extremes is a true description of the way our lives and minds normally work. The Positive Thinkers I know, in real life, all seem to be quite obviously “dwelling in a darksome land of wild wolf-cliffs and windy headlands,” failing to convince either themselves or me that all they’ve ever known are sweetness and light.

Some people like Dan and Emily may feel love for God and for each other, and some things may work together for their good. More often, they’re deluding themselves. If Dan’s first wife is married to another man now, and Sara’s father is Dan or is dead or is married to another woman now, my understanding of the Bible is that Dan and Emily have a right to marry each other…but they ought at least to know that their relationship is going to be drastically complicated by whatever character defects caused them to be a single mother and a divorced man.

Well, it’s gentle fiction, about quiet, law-abiding people. One feels that, if their midlife romance doesn’t last, Dan and Emily will quietly separate rather than so much as yell at each other. Even if you’ve had some experience of what “broken families” and “blended families” are really like, it is just…barely…possible to read A Gathering Place as a nice, mellow, bland story with happy endings all round.

Katherine Spencer is alive and writing (and continuing this series) so A Gathering Place is a Fair Trade Book. If you buy it here, for $5 per book + $5 per package + $1 per online payment, we'll send $1 per book to Spencer or a charity of her choice. Books 1 through 4 have been out long enough to be widely available secondhand; you could fit them into one package for a total of $25 (or $26). If you want the complete set, the official position of this web site is that you should buy the newer ones as new books in order to encourage a living writer, though of course we can sell all but the very newest as Fair Trade Books. Please try, if possible, to give Spencer reasons for real rejoicing, as distinct from mere Positive Thinking. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

December 2 Link Log

Warning: it's possible that this article may go live still containing an annoying Amazon cookie that I've tried to remove, going into HTML ten different times, but it keeps popping up...if I knew which Amazon or Zazzle photo link it was attached to, I'd remove that one, but once in the annoying ad cookie seems to be stuck to this page, and will not follow a photo link out. Take my word, I've tried. Anyway, lots of content seems to fit on the borders in between today's Categories: Animals, Books, Christian, Communication, Education, Food, Fun, Green, Health, Legal Issues, Music, Politics, Stupidity, Television, Women's Issues, Writing, Zazzle.


Bird lore...Everybody in North America, Australia, and Britain knows and probably loves a songbird called a robin, but not all of us realize that these are three different birds. This article is about the British robin.


Cat blog hop...makes this yet another cat day at Petfinder.


In memory of Sammy-cat, today's Petfinder links focus on "red" or "orange" cats:
Nacho from Arlington: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/36845609
Simba from Brooklyn: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/36154545

Pecan from Georgia: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/36778428

Wild animal photos:



Wild animal facts:



Warning:  The Invention of Wings is about the history of the anti-slavery movement in the United States...if it's at all authentic, it'll contain words that might be too, too traumatic for some poor li'l snowflakes in Accomack (see below).



Serious Christian way to prepare for Christmas, followed by whimsical flight of blogger's memory:


Heaven and Nature Sing Christmas Card 2

Heaven and Nature Sing Christmas Card 2

by pj_design

And here's a blog challenge for those who love Christmas:


On a different track altogether, but also Christian-oriented:


And here's a sermon for the weekend:


(Maybe because the "holiday cheer" creates such a disturbing sense of cognitive dissonance for some people, Dan Gilbert posted a non-Christian riff on the same theme at Thrive. Both the title and graphic he used violate this site's contract; to people who are amused by the use of the S-word it's funny. Read and share with friends who prefer vulgar/secular "uplift" to the Christian kind, at your discretion.)


Rounding up the weasel words of the year...remember how Matt Groening used to draw cartoons of words we should resolve to stop using in the New Year?


Now this is the kind of cyberbullying the law needs to crack down on. Annoying a schoolmate with "I hate Brandy, she's fat/dumb/boring/whatever" is the kind of stupid childish behavior adults should ignore (and kids like Brandy should rack up cool points by ignoring, like the adults). Actually posting the kid's picture and phone number with messages that she's soliciting for sex has always been recognized in U.S. criminal law--the technical terms are slander and defamation of character--and it should have been prosecuted like the crime it was. "Cyberbullying" is the wrong word for this report to use, though, since that word could include silly kid stuff like "Go away, Brandy, we all hate you." Call the crime by its proper name! The girl's character was criminally defamed, and the criminals should serve some time.



Y'know, before I read this report, I thought the ban on hand-raising might have had something to do with someone's claiming that hand-raising called attention to the body shape. Since it doesn't, Katherine Timpf's report just joggled loose a memory...we had one teacher, whom I'll call Old Miss Mean, who didn't let people raise their hands, but ordered them to stand and answer questions, or go up front and write out their answers, in a strict rotation across the classroom. She was The. Worst. Ever. She was the one who, when swine flu was going around and a former friend I'll call Blondie whimpered "Please, no, I'm about to be sick," snarled "Show us what you've got for problem number thirteen anyway." Blondie woozed up front, worked out problem number thirteen, started to explain her work to the class, and was sick. All down her beautiful long blonde hair. Then of course she was sent home, where she stayed for a week or two. After that she gained a lot of weight, repeated a year, and eventually finished high school with a different class who didn't remember Old Miss Mean's idea of being equally mean and unfair to everybody.


Food (Yum) 

Coconut oil and coconut cream are what make this curry "Thai." If you (are like me and) can't use coconut, and (are in the U.S. and probably) can't get the specific seasoning called massaman paste and have to use regular curry powder, it's just another curried chicken and veg dish. But it'd be good.


Turkey soup:


As citrus fruit come into season, have you ever made a lime meringue pie? (If you use gluten-free cereal crumbs to line the pan, it's gluten-free.)


What about a mint caramel...Kirsten Boic calls it a tart; it's in the trifle, torte, or banana-pudding family.


Here's a classic gluten-free candy that can be made with other nuts as well as, or in place of, peanuts:


McDougall recipes:


Fun Stuff 

The down side of the rain that saved several parts of the Eastern States from raging wild fires...not serious floods, but, y'know, high-water annoyances.


The man who deserved to lose his wedding ring, but didn't...



Niume is messier than usual today, and some of the pages people shared on Google + didn't open at all, but +Andria Perry 's post about the sweetgum, or liquidambar or Tupelo, tree did. Pretty pictures here:


Scientific report here:


Health News 

Here's a mash-up: Dr. John McDougall editorializes about the President-elect. Key point made: health care is what individuals do to care for our own health. Another point: Trump looks as if he could use an upgrade in his personal health care plan.


Legal Issues 

I've commented on this before...



Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone...



David Limbaugh asks how much Obama's support of Candidate Clinton contributed toward Trump's election. (Democrats, please bear in mind the last line of Dan Gilbert's raunchy-but-true post...)


Stupidity is a Choice 

Which do you do: learn how loyalty (and heroism) can transcend an atmosphere of race prejudice, or sit down and whine because a big long complicated book accurately depicts haters talking like haters?



Michelle Malkin launches her TV show with an explosively controversial investigation. The link goes to the video; I apologize, but the e-mail describing what she's investigating goes into far too much detail about a violent crime to be quoted here. Suffice it to say, MM will be discussing the DNA evidence that may fail to prove that a former police officer is a rapist who belongs in prison for life. Lots of personal "honey," including dead skin.


Women's Issues 

Let's face it, women can be as vicious as corrupt cops are about this kind of victimless crime:


And instead of breaking through remaining prejudices and stupidities, some so-called feminists are, to use Germaine Greer's memorable phrase, "scoring own goals." Medical care, even if it's misidentified as "health care," is not what enables us to have non-procreative sex. Knowing how the reproductive process works and making decisions about which voluntary acts we do and don't choose to carry out is what enables us to have non-procreative sex. (This web site came to exist years after the demolition of another web site at which this topic used to be discussed in a frank, specific, and feminist manner. How would Auntie Pris even remember...? Ah, that'd be telling. But if you convince us that you're a confused left-wing "feminist" with an appropriate amount of e-money, we can send you printouts.)



There is so much out there in cyberspace that I'm only just reading this eight-year-old evergreen content...it appeared on a blog I started following a long time after this series was posted. I'd been putting off reading the classic book, but am printing out these tips; they should help improve the way some things look at this web site:


Should an Amazon Affiliate site ever cite a book without putting that book within one click of your inquiring mind? Probably not, although I've done that too. I am not perfect. Here's the classic...

...and here's the update.


This is not as cute and funny as the Zazzle stuff I usually link here; it's posted because it captures what I believed to be true about my late lamented cat Black Magic...why the "memorial" to her is not a fancy grave monument, but my home being rededicated as a Cat Sanctuary. Even if she'd had kittens there would never have been another Magic (though there have been, and are, other social cats who also do incredibly cute, sweet, clever things)...but Magic always wanted to adopt kittens.

Here's a cute, funny animal picture:

Ads, Yes, But....

(This started out as a reply to an e-mail asking for money to support an e-magazine.)

I'm actually in favor of ads--if they're not obnoxious. Ads in the margins are fine if they don't ooze into the text. I don't particularly like looking at pictures of phones or cars, but some people do; no problem as long as they don't interrupt the actual article. Ads that actually support the content, like an ad for a book that links to a quote from the book, or an ad for a car that links to a report about driving the car, are a plus point.

It's just the "If you annoy people enough they'll forget how annoyed they were and remember your brand name" type of ads I hate. I do remember the brand names, and the annoyance, and I avoid those brands! If everyone thought the way I do, it'd pay Coke to sponsor pop-up ads for Pepsi. I survive without those. (Not necessarily eating every single day, but I survive.) So can you.

There's a whole category of people in cyberspace who've been told since kindergarten that we were freaks, geeks, and statistical outliers. One way to identify us is that we spend a lot of time in cyberspace and used computers before the year 2000. I could be wrong but I suspect there's a consensus in this group that the Advertising Age as TV understood it is over, at least for us--if it ever did include us. The way to market things to us is to stop screeching for attention and earn our trust. This means good products and strategically placed, supportive rather than distracting, promotion of those products.

One friend's pet blog, two weeks ago, had an obnoxious pop-up ad for a pet product. Another friend's pet blog featured a paid advertorial for a competing pet product. Guess which brand I'm looking for the next time I buy that kind of product?

I like it when, if an article cites a book, there's a link to the Amazon page readers can use to buy the book or at least look for it at the library, right on the page. For instance, Florence King, the book reviewer from whom I learned that a book review can be short and sweet, snarky and ranting, or anything else the book brings to mind, wrote her book reviews for print-only publication...but many of them would actually have worked better if they'd appeared online with Amazon links to the obscure books FK made interesting. You can see what I mean in this book...

And it would have been cool if P.J. O'Rourke's manic Car & Driver articles had appeared with links to the cars he reported driving, too. Readers would've known that buying the Latest Convertible would not give them the experience of driving full speed through the tourist traps of Mexico, but they might have had their own ideas about where to drive a convertible...

See how easy it is? Ads can support content. Content can support ads. But let's all make a New Year's resolution to banish obnoxious pop-up ads from web sites.

Mark Warner on Trans-Pacific Partnership

From U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), in response to a petition some of us signed several weeks ago:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
In general, I have been supportive of free trade agreements, which have helped Virginia's economy grow over the last decade. According to the Business Roundtable, from 2004-2014 Virginia's goods exports to free trade agreement (FTA) partners increased by 79%, compared to a 47% growth in exports to the rest of the world. The 2004 U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement enabled Singapore to become the fastest-growing market among the major buyers of Virginia's goods, with Virginia's exports to the country growing 783% between 2004 and 2011.
During the 114th Congress, the Senate has considered a series of four trade-related packages: the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)-Generalized System of Preference (GSP), Customs Enforcement, Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The AGOA-GSP bill is a way for the U.S. to spur economic growth in developing economies and these programs have been proven to boost economies around the world. Strong customs enforcement ensures that the U.S. can take strong action against countries and companies who seek an unfair advantage against American manufacturers and competitors. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Package will help American workers who have lost their jobs due to trade get training and education for today’s globalized economy. Finally, TPA allows a trade agreement that meets explicit negotiating objectives ranging from human rights to environmental standards to benefit from an expedited process in Congress. In June of 2015, the Senate passed TPA, TAA, and AGOA-GSP, and the President signed these bills into law. On February 11, 2016, the Senate agreed to customs enforcement legislation (the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015) by a vote of 75-20, and the President signed it into law on February 24, 2016. I voted for all four of these measures, which taken together will protect American workers and allow the U.S. to set the rules of the road in global trade.
Congress is also expected to consider the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed FTA among the United States and eleven other countries released by the Administration on November 5, 2015. If approved by Congress, it would be the largest FTA in which the United States participates. The agreement, which would eventually eliminate all tariffs on manufactured products and most agricultural goods, is a key element of our ongoing efforts to boost American exports and level the playing field in the growing markets of the Asia-Pacific–a region that includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies.
In 2014, Virginia exported $6.7 billion in goods to TPP partners–representing 35% of all goods exported in that year. By reducing tariffs for key products grown or manufactured in Virginia, the agreement has the potential to boost the Virginia economy and support jobs in the Commonwealth. I was also pleased to see that the Administration negotiated an agreement that contains both high labor standards and comprehensive environmental commitments.
While trade agreements have the ability to break down barriers and open up huge opportunities for America, it is very important to me that we do more as a country to make sure the benefits of trade agreements and international commerce are more evenly distributed. I understand why some people have expressed concerns about trade agreements. In the past, some states have done very well under trade deals, while others have not. Most of Virginia has been lucky to be on the winning end of trade, but in the past some areas, like Southside Virginia, have not seen the same benefits. That is why I am a strong advocate for onshoring initiatives that bring jobs to the United States and greater economic engagement between foreign-owned companies and rural America. In the 112th Congress, I joined my Virginia colleague, Representative Frank Wolf, in sponsoring bipartisan legislation called America Recruits, which would support new inbound investment into the United States. I reintroduced this legislation in October 2013.
It is critical that we not lose sight of the fact that many of our competitors, ranging from Canada and the European Union to China, India, and Brazil are signing market access agreements and trade deals as quickly as possible. They understand the value of securing favorable terms for their goods and services in an increasingly globalized world. With 95% of the world's consumers living outside the United States, gaining access to international markets is vital for future economic growth, which is why I support reasonable trade deals that open markets for businesses and create opportunities for American employees.
Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at http://www.warner.senate.gov.
United States Senator