The Mommy Files: Yum Yums

Friday nights at our house have always been pizza night. After a long work week, it is nice not to have to think about what I’m going to cook for supper.  When the Chromos were young, I did cook. Every night. Except Friday.

We go through phases with our pizza toppings. TV likes green peppers and mushrooms, two things I cannot abide. I like Italian sausage, something he considers extremely unhealthy. Two things we’ve always agreed on are black olives and onions. So for a while, our weekly pizza was topped with onions.

Y-Chromo was old enough to eat a slice on his own, but I had to cut up X-Chromos pizza into tiny pieces for her to handle.  “Yum yum,” she would say. And thus began what would be come a weekly game.

X-Chromo would reach over to my plate and pluck the onions off my slice. “Hey!” I would chide her. “What do you think you’re doing? Those are my onions.”

She would smile and reply, “Yum yums!”

It became a weekly game.

MJ Monday-Manuscript: What is to Come

I am in the process of finishing up the final book of the Service for Sanctuary trilogy.  I’ll share the cover and the playlist when I have a release date.

In the meantime, I’m between projects. I’m hesitant to start something new right now, because I don’t want to be so deep into research or writing then get pulled out to revise the upcoming release. At this time, I have the luxury of time.

The next book I have in mind is a mystery. I’ve developed a lovely backstory. It may be a trilogy. I have lots of notes. I have been doing research, in spite of myself.

One of the exercises I’ve been doing is to go back and re-read my favorite books that are mysteries with a touch of paranormal and define what it is about those books that keep me going back to them time and time again. It’s surprising how “steadfast” I am in the tropes that appeal to me.

I hope I can pull off the same magic in the book(s) I plan to write in the same genre.


MJ Monday-Manuscript: Update

As I type this blog, the first draft of the next (so very delayed) book is complete. A preliminary round of revisions have been noted. I plan to delve into revisions after finishing this blog.

I used my three-week July vacation to push to the end. The problem, you see, is my writing process. And it’s not a problem, really, it’s simply the process.

Some people refer to what I do as the Headlight Method: write as far as you can see in the headlights, then wait for the headlights to reveal more.  And that’s how it goes . . . sort of. What I need to know is apparently already in my head. But my brain won’t release it to me until it’s good and ready, which is frustrating as all get out. So all the while I was making myself crazy trying to figure out how/why on a certain aspect near the end of the story, my brain was sitting back, smirking. Then, as I was typing a scene, my fingers revealed the whole thing. Without ever letting my consciousness know.

It’s enough to make a sane woman crazy.


Thursday Thought: Holidays Aren’t a Day Off

Happy Memorial Day. My grandmother always called today Decoration Day, because one is supposed to decorate the graves of  deceased soldiers. When I was in high school marching band, we marched in three Memorial Day Parades. Then it was off for a family picnic.

We still have an annual family picnic. I love my family. I have wonderful nieces and nephews, and even young ones from the next generation. My sibs are great, and I’m lucky to still have both of my parents.

But now that I’m a working adult, I have concluded that just because a person doesn’t have to report to a day job on the holiday, doesn’t make it a day off. The work is just a different kind of work.

When my children were younger, I had to get them ready to travel, pack a change or two of clothing, and prepare a pot luck contribution. They’re responsible for themselves now, but I still have to prepare food to share. I like to cook, don’t get me wrong, and I enjoy the challenge of finding dishes that take everyone’s food foibles into consideration. It’s still work, though. I have to make certain I have enough meat for my gang (our picnics are bring your own meat and a dish to pass). I have to do the shopping.

Where is my day off?


MJ’s Musings: The Watkins Man

If you’ve ever seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you may recall the heroine’s father believed Windex cured everything.

My father believes in this:

Cold season meant Watkins salve was rubbed on our chests instead of the ubiquitous Vicks Vapo-Rub. When I was injured in a snow mobile accident, Dad had me massage my swollen knee with the salve. Mom smears it on her face when she has sinus headaches. Dad uses it to cure boils, erase zits, and heavens only knows what else. It is the family cure-all.

When I was a child, there was a “Watkins Man” who came around with a suitcase full of products (another favorite was horse liniment). In our small town, the Watkins Man was actually a family. The Schuyler family. I remember them well. There was old Mrs. Schuyler with her frizzy gray hair, Harry Schuyler–I never knew if he was a husband or son–with his round wire-framed eyeglasses (this was in the era of horn rimmed spectacles, so I was fascinated by his “old-fashioned” look) and Norma, Mrs. Schuyler’s adult daughter, who walked with a limp.  Once a year or so, the Schuylers would pay us a visit and Dad would restock his salve.

I don’t remember what happened to the Schuylers. We attended the same church, but weren’t “friendly” with them, not like either of the town barbers, the bank president, or the owners of the hardware store.  All I know is that my father hoarded his last tin of Watkins salve.  He didn’t know what to do. The Watkins Man no longer made house calls.

Years later, I was wandering around the state fair when I discovered someone selling Watkins products. I immediately purchase two tins of menthol camphor ointment: one for Dad and one for me. I still have mine, and I periodically use it for all sorts of things. I am my father’s daughter.

By the time Dad was scraping-the -tin-with-a-fingernail low again, the world of on-line shopping had come into being. He complained he was almost out of salve, so I hopped onto the Internet and my favorite on-line retailer. Lo and behold, there’s my Dad’s panacea. The tin has been updated to a more retro look, but the contents remain the same. And Dad is happy because he has his salve delivered right to his door, just like the old days.