The Mean Mommy

I will admit I was sometimes “mean” to my kids. Sometimes it was funny. Oh, I don’t mean I physically abused them, or even (I hope) mentally tortured them. But once in a while . . .

One morning when X-Chromo was about 6-years old, she asked me, “What does no Pablo espanol  mean?”

Without missing a beat, I answered her. Literally. “No Spanish Paul.”

She did not like that answer. At all.

I could have asked, “Do you mean no hablo espanol?”  and translated that for her. (I don’t speak Spanish.)  But I didn’t. Because Mean Mommy was alive and well that morning.

But the beautiful part was when my husband came downstairs to join us for breakfast, unaware of the ongoing drama.

“Daddy! Mommy won’t tell me what no Pablo espanol means. What does it mean?”

My husband, without missing a beat, replied: “No Spanish Paul.”





Analyzing Other Authors

Image credit: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo

Last month, or maybe the month before, I started re-reading JD Robb’s In Death series and making notes. I also purchased all the books I didn’t have, so I now have an up-to-date library of the series. It’s important because I do go back and re-read books I love.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the books are futuristic police procedurals. Yes, there is romance, but the primary story is the police procedural. The cop (Eve Dallas) and the (reformed) con (Roarke).

I started an Excel worksheet with a spreadsheet for each title. I realized about half-way through the series that I should have made better notes. Now I’ll have to re-read all the titles again to make better spreadsheets.  Life is full of tribulations.

I started re-reading because I wanted to see how her Nora-ness handles an ensemble cast. My current WIP, which is unlike anything I’ve done before, has an ensemble cast of characters that confuses the dickens out of one of my critique partners. I keep trying to explain that I am not writing a romance and I’m not writing a small town series.

I’ve been amused and/or intrigued by the author’s vision of the future. The series starts in 2058. A couple of examples include:

  • Discs-Everyone transfers data to discs, which may have been the rage when the series began, but now it’s flash drives. I’m sure by 2058 there will be something else.
  • Talking Cars-Eve Dallas, the female protagonist, plugs addresses into her car and the dashboard gives her directions, etc. So does my car! I feel very Dallas-esque when my dash tells me, “Toll booth.”
  • Tubes of soft drinks-I love this idea, instead of cans or bottles.
  • Real cow/pig/chicken/egg/coffee/sugar-because of climate change these commodities are rare and thrilling to the characters, who get to partake because Roarke, the male protagonist is one of the wealthiest people on or off planet, frequently feeds Eve’s co-workers.
  • Off planet correctional facilities-putting prisons in space? Intriguing concept.

There are also inconsistencies that niggle, but nothing major.

  • At least two characters’ names change from book to book.
  • There is an assumption that because Roarke is Irish that he knows Catholicism. But Roarke’s upbringing certainly didn’t include the Church’s rites of passage, so he wouldn’t be as conversant as he sometimes is.
  • Eve mentions several times that religion wasn’t taught in the state orphanages in which she grew up, but sometimes, when she’s not asking Roarke questions, she does mention things that a person unfamiliar with Christianity might not know.

The best thing about the series is how the characters grow from book to book. They learn from their mistakes.

I had started another popular series of books around the same time my sister urged me to read JD Robb. I eventually stopped reading those books because the characters never changed. They were awesome characters in the beginning, but after 10 or books, I wanted to see them learning from their errors instead of the constant buffoonery to which the series evolved.


Thursday Thought-Self Help: A Whack on the Side of the Head

Years ago, in my incarnation as a local TV worker bee, I went to a conference for promotion and marketing types. I wasn’t really a promo person, but the TV station’s general manager decided that since I was a writer, I could do the station’s promo. I was also a smoker in those days. I didn’t know anyone at the conference, but struck up conversations with people in the smoking section of the lobby.  Net working with those folks was more valuable than the workshops.

I ended up with my very first laptop as a result of that conference (and when I left the station, I negotiated the laptop as part of my package). And I learned about A Whack on the Side of the Head.

The book isn’t self-help for personal or even profession growth in the traditional sense. There is no advice about how to manage your in box, your email, or delegating to your underlings (of if there is, the rest outweighs the arrogance). Instead, Whack is about learning to look at situations from another angle. Turning problems upside down, sideways, and inside out. Stretching the limitations of your creativity.

I rushed home and ordered the book and the Creative Whack Pack from Amazon.  The Whack Pack, according to my favorite on-line merchant, is going or has gone out of print. It’s a deck of cards using the methods/ideas from the book to assist in choosing a method to deal with your situation. Example: I just drew the SUBSTITUTE card. There is a small blurb, then the question: “What can you substitute?” The purpose is to not only get the reader to think outside the box, but in some cases, destroy the box.

The book is full of gems, such as “Sacred cows make great steaks.” (Richard Nicolosi, businessman), and “All art is a series of recoveries from the first line. The hardest thing to do is put down the first line. But you must.” (Nathan Olivera, artist).

The book is from 1983, so parts of it are dated, especially when it comes to technology, but the premises are sound. And I believe it has been updated and expanded.



MJ Monday-Meals: My Food Foibles-Hard Boiled Eggs

As much as I loathe grocery shopping, I do find myself annoyed that the current pandemic (and my children’s insistence that I don’t go out) prevents me from cooking a wider of variety of meals and experimenting more with recipes. So this month’s edition of MJ’s Meals is more like a cautionary tale.

My husband was stopping at a local supermarket to purchase milk for his coffee, so I asked him to pick up a zucchini. He was . . . shocked. He knows nothing about picking out zucchini. Well, zucchini is a lot easier to purchase than say a tomato, which I have been picking out for him for years. You don’t need to squeeze or thump a zucchini. I gave him the basics. He did it!

I asked him if he’d gotten  himself a green pepper for his weekend omelet making. He said no, but he’d looked at mushrooms, but thought I would get mad if he brought them home. “Why?” I asked. “Because you don’t like them.”

I pointed out there are lots of things in our cupboards/refrigerator that I don’t like: green peppers, fresh tomatoes, mayonnaise, sauerkraut (which I had to remind him to purchase), even the milk I told him he needed.

The only thing I would get mad about would be if he brought home hard-boiled eggs or anything containing them. After 32 years, he should know this.

One time, long before I met my husband, I went to a family picnic at my sister’s home. There were hotdogs and hamburgers. Macaroni salad, potato salad, deviled eggs. That was it. I left. My sister knew better. Everyone in my family knew better.

I used to keep regular eggs in the house, but had to stop. Someone asked me, jokingly, “Why? Are you afraid someone will come into your house and randomly boil an egg?”

“Yes. It has happened.”

Early in our marriage, the wife of one of his friends, not an hour after I’d served a big breakfast, decided she needed a hard boiled egg, so cooked one for herself. In my kitchen. The stench of hard boiled eggs makes me ill. When I was a child, my mother would send me to the woods when she was making macaroni or potato salad or egg salad sandwiches. She always told me when I had my own kitchen I could make the rules. The wife of my husband’s friend violated my rule.

So unless I specifically need eggs, TV Stevie gets Egg Beaters.

MJ Monday-Meals: Chicken Taco Casserole with Cucumber Avocado Salad

Going on my writing retreats can sometimes be a challenge, especially when I try to take other people’s dietary needs into consideration. It’s a good thing I like to cook and peruse recipes.

Here’s a combination I used the last time I took off for the woods with my critique group.

Chicken Taco Casserole

With this, I left off the black olives and made my own taco seasoning to make sure there was no sugar in it. There are at least a couple dozen taco seasoning recipes on Pinterest.

I paired the casserole with Cucumber Avocado Salad.

With this, I swapped out the feta cheese with goat cheese, as not everyone likes feta.

The cool creaminess of the salad was a wonderful counterpoint to the mild spiciness of the casserole.