Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writing and Publishing

I have always loved to read. In fact, several years ago I was thumbing through my "baby book" and saw this entry:

What Karen likes: being read to
What Karen dislikes: going inside. 

Yep, that's me.

When my daughter started doing that separation thing most adolescent girls go through, I started writing as a way to deal with it. That was almost ten years ago. Do I have a published book to show for all the work I've done since then? No. Has it helped me cope? Yes.

The publishing world is a universe all unto itself it seems, but with the rising popularity of electronic publishing that universe is quickly finding itself shoved to the outskirts. Anybody can produce a manuscript, upload it to Amazon and viola, you're published. In theory. All the angst of pitching a story, writing query letters, getting rejection letters, finding an agent, finding a publishing house, editorial rewriting, etc all go by the wayside. Right?

You will still have to write a good story. You will still have to get professional editorial advice. You will have to come up with your own marketing plan. Books don't sell themselves.

It's going to be interesting in the next few years to see if the publishing industry can catch up to the electronic revolution.

As for me, I'll still be writing anyway.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The End of May

The most anticipated day of the year for some people is not 
Christmas. It's the last day of school. Entire campuses full of teachers, administrators, lunch room ladies, janitors, kindergartners to high school seniors and of course school bus drivers, spend the months from the middle of August until the end of May in anticipation of this day. 

 Good bye!

Our schools let out in the late morning so it doesn't make sense for some of us to take our buses back to their parking place. We get on one of the buses and sneak off to the near by Cracker Barrel restaurant to eat a huge breakfast. This year the poor waitresses had not one, but two groups of rowdy school bus drivers to contend with.  I know they were glad to see the back of us.

Then we go back to the school and sit on the edge of our bus seats until the bell rings. The folks inside are doing the exact same thing. When the bell rings those kids get on the bus faster than they have all year. I think my bus was loaded in seven minutes. It usually takes about fifteen. Our principal sends a couple of teachers to ride with us on the last day to subvert any last minute shennanigans. Sometimes they are really helpful but this year I got two young men who sat in the front seat and talked about fishing and sports the whole time. They didn't even look at the kids. Luckily, I've been mean all year and mine were pretty good on the ride home.

This is it, the start of ten glorious weeks of sunshine, travel, and goofing off. Not just for the kids who ride my bus but for me, too. 

The end of May is the start of summer. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Freezing Eggs

Since the world didn't end yesterday or last night, I guess it wasn't a waste of time to freeze some of my extra eggs. 

In the last post this is what my egg supply looked like:

 Six dozen+ eggs and I had not collected for the day yet.

Under the watchful eyes of some little chicken friends, 
I decided to boil a few just for variety 
and to make an easy egg salad recipe.

Slightly Spicy Egg Salad
Two hard boiled eggs
1-2 tbsp of dill relish
1-2 tbsp of Kraft Spicy Mayo
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop eggs
Add relish and Mayo
Stir until mixed
If you don't have spicy mayo you can
add a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper.

I got the idea for freezing the eggs from Backyard Chickens.com

Here's what the process looked like:

Nine medium sized eggs

 Mix in some honey, sugar or salt as a preservative.

Pour into an ice tray.

Find a flat spot in the freezer to set them for a few hours.

For some reason my little chicken friends 
didn't want to follow the eggs into the freezer.

I had to thaw them in an inch or two of warm water 
before they would come out of the tray. 
Next time, I'll spray it with a little cooking oil 
before I add the beaten eggs.

Store them in ziploc bags. Large eggs, which are what most 
recipes call for, weigh two ounces. I haven't weighed these cubes yet, 
but if they aren't two ounces I can add a tablespoon or two of water 
to make up the difference. 
I can take them out a few at a time and thaw 
them in the fridge overnight this winter 
when the girls aren't laying as many as they are right now.

The boiled eggs came out pretty well this time. The first time I tried to boil fresh eggs most of the white came off with the shell. 
Another trip to Backyard Chickens.com helped me find the answer 
to that dilemma. They need to be three or four weeks old 
so that there is a little air space for the egg to expand into 
when it's being boiled.
This kitchen adventure took place on Wednesday. 
After three days, I've got seven dozen eggs in the fridge again. 
It's a wonderful "problem" to have, but I think I'll be 
visiting my parents and some of the neighbors  soon
with the gift of fresh eggs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Time flies, whether you're having fun or not! We've done a good bit of work around the suburban homestead this Spring.

The raised beds are growing pretty well. 
They've gone from empty...

to leafy.


It never ceases to amaze me  that you can put seeds 
in a pile of dirt and stuff grows.

The Music Man built a cage for the strawberries.

No, they weren't trying to escape but the chipmunk family 
that lives under that part of the backyard 
was doing all their fruit shopping in my strawberry bed.

The chickens are all healthy and doing fine.

The Australorps are turning out to be good layers.

As a matter of fact, I'm kind of over run with eggs at the moment! 

And this was after I gave a dozen to a neighbor this morning!

I just love Spring.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

April 27, 2011

On April 27, 2011, multiple tornadoes ripped through my beloved state of Alabama, leaving thousands homeless and hundreds dead or missing. It started for us at about five am Wednesday morning when I woke up to green lightning and the sound of screeching metal as the wind tried to rip the storm door from its frame. We found our way down to the basement in the dark because the power went out.

For some stupid reason I’m sure I’ll never know, our schools weren’t called off or even delayed. That meant I had to drive a bus load of somebody else’s children around downed trees and power lines and deliver them to a school which may not have had any electricity. I was over an hour late and didn’t even get back to my parking spot when I had to turn around and go back to pick them up for early dismissal. 

Wednesday evening the power was still out but we had cranked up the generator and it was running the fridge, freezer, a few lights and a fan in our house and our next door neighbor’s. The cable was out so we had to listen to the coverage on the radio. I didn’t sound like it was going to come our way but I was worried about my kids. It didn’t hit them, though it came close.

On Sunday, my husband found a church in Hueytown that needed donations of baby items so I went to Costco and loaded up the back of my Explorer. There were a lot of folks there doing the same thing. 

We beat a path to the Crossroads Baptist Church on Dee Hendrix Drive in Hueytown. As we backed into a parking place next to a pickup truck with a trailer full of coolers and plastic chairs that were being unloaded, a man and woman came out to help us unload. They were excited to find “orange Similac” since somebody said they needed that kind specifically. 

Jay Jacks, the principal of Pleasant Grove Elementary invited us into the fellowship hall and I was stunned at the amount of stuff there! Items were stacked around the edge of the room and piled on tables in the middle. He took us into the “Teen Room” where more items had been bagged, tagged and stacked in organized piles on one end of the room. Even though his house in Pleasant Grove had been damaged he was at the church helping organize and distribute the donations.

Before the tornado was even out of the state a small army of men and women with four-wheelers, pickup trucks and chainsaws were in the worst damaged areas ready to do whatever was needed to help victims. 

We in Alabama are a resilient people and we take care of our own.