Seasonal Preparations and COVID thoughts

So, it is getting into fire and tornado season. And there is this virus that has the news media running in circles because what they know about medicine* and population differences can be measured in pages, not volumes.

Preparing for fire season varies with your location and your sort of fire. Ours tend to be surprise, fast-moving range fires, ones you have to get away from unless you have made some very specific preparations for. Those involve landscaping, irrigation, roof-material, soffit-vents, and other things designed and installed well in advance. If you have to run, you grab people, pets, potions (medications and medical supplies), papers, and photos (if you have time). You release any livestock if you can’t load them quickly, and you don’t give the fire a head-start. So you need to have a go-bag already prepared, more or less. Continue reading


Updates and Random Thoughts

I was asked for an update on release dates.

At the moment, the only pending releases are Furiously Familiar (March 10 [touches wood]), and “Familiar Sorrows,” (late April). I’ve got about a third of Greatly (Or something G) Familiar written, and started Horribly Familiar. I’ve also started the fantasy based on pre-historic South Asia. If you look at the series pages, you will see that I pushed the next Merchant and Empire book to this coming fall. I need a block of uninterrupted time to write those, and spring . . . is not that time. I have not started Hopling Tales, which will be the folk-lore of Shikhari. A couple of unrelated dragon-centered stories are lurking around the edges, and might get turned into a second volume of Four Dragon Tales. Or they might go galloping off on their own and become books. I’m just the author, they never tell me what they are going to do. Continue reading

Beans – Black Turtle Beans

A rerun from 2014 (!) Since Lent starts Wednesday and is considered a time to cut back on fancy things, and since beans are cheap, tasty, and black beans in particular hide a lot of add-ins (no one will see them in that inky black liquid . . .) They are also good comfort food when winter decides to hang on longer than perhaps desired.

This is a variation on a recipe from a well-known restaurant in Santa Fe. Black beans, aka turtle beans or frijoles negros, do not require overnight soaking. I still soak them for an hour or so, to drown any extra animal protein and because I’m usually cooking a few other things at the same time.

You need black beans, protein (optional), a dollop of garlic, 1/2-1 cup celery, spices to taste (cumin, cilantro, chili powder, chipotle pepper, whatever you prefer), and water and chicken or vegetable broth. Continue reading

“Bad” Places and Spa History in Germany and Austria

The question came up last week: How do towns get “Bad” in their names and what does it mean? And how recent is it? The answers required more than just a comments-comment, so here are the answers.

The super-condensed version: government interventions, place to bathe, and generally modern (post 1789.) Continue reading

Book/Product Review: The Book of Mormon – A Reader’s Edition

Before I start, a big neon-sign warning – this is NOT the place to debate The Book of Mormon or the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (also called Mormons). I’m reviewing an edition of the Book of Mormon that I found useful. Thus this is more of a product review than a true book review.

Hardy, Grant. The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition. (University of Illinois Press, 2005) Kindle edition.

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A Well-Traveled People

One of the ranchers from the Panhandle died on the Titanic. A rancher in eastern New Mexico sent his children to the Austrian Alps during the late 1920s and early 1930s to spend time with their relatives, who were among the old Habsburg nobility. Others traveled to England, Ireland, and Scotland on a regular basis, as well as to Houston, Chicago, New York City, and the like.

One of the surprises of doing research about this region’s early settlement and growth is just how mobile the population was. Continue reading

Oh Dear, Already?

Fr. Pax (the headmaster) sent out the “Now is a good time to clean all remaining Christmas snacks, treats, and other things out of your desks” notice.

Lent is about to arrive. I foresee a surge of chocolate and other little treats being consumed prior to next Wednesday.

“I’m Bringing Bars?!?” Bars

When I lived in the Midwest, I discovered that bars and cookies are different. Cookies are flat and round, or flat and cut into shapes. Bars are bar cookies, except they are just “bars.” So when you sign up to bring a dessert, cookies are separate from bars. Even if they are chocolate chip.

One of the recipes I collected was for last-minute bar cookies, thus the name in the post heading. Bar cookies tend to be relatively simple, unless you are doing Seven-Layer Bars (sometimes called Dollie Madison Bars). Oh, and do not, please, try to make S’mores Bars. I tried twice, the second time because I thought I’d messed up. No. Trying to cut bar cookies with melted chocolate and marshmallows on top is . . . No. The second time, I just tossed cookies, baking pan, and all into the garbage, and made a quick run to the bakery on the way to school.

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