Fribble's Blend

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Location: Jefferson City, Tennessee, United States

Published by: Hard Shell Word Factory ( and Awe-Struck E-Books (

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Temptations of the Day

I was tempted to blow off the blog today, not write anything. Nothing important has happened, except Bret Favre played his 200th straight game. Well, that should encourage us all to show up for work. Someone -- and it has been attributed to a number of people -- said that 90% of success is showing up. (Definitely not George Jones!)

I guess I haven't been showing up enough. But I did finish copying the first chapter of BUILDING PASSION today. I hadn't read it in a while, but for being as old as it is, it holds up pretty well. Maybe like fine wine.

I think I'll get a bottle of Asti Spumanti to celebrate finishing this project...yeah, that sounds like a good reward to spur me on.

I'll show up tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2004

It was a BIG Step!

Yesterday I bit the bullet and bought a digital camera. They are pricey, compared to the Kodak Brownie I started out with lo many years ago. But we need it.

My son does reviews of models of the cars and planes he makes for a modelers magazine. I make quilts, and people are always asking me for pictures when I have books come out, or when I have some promotion going. I don't like having my picture taken, but at least this will be a lot more, shall we say, adaptable.

So expect a picture or two on here soon.

In other news, I've begun retyping a book I wrote in 1982 and which came out in 1983. The rights reverted to me a few years back. Whereas the other books I did for that company were on diskette and all I had to do was "translate" and edit, my first published book was typewritten on the aforementioned Smith Corona behemoth.
Many years have gone by, and I don't have a manuscript to go by, so I have to use a badly yellowed copy of the book and magnify it so that I can type from it. Oh, well, I've been blind before and it's no big thing.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Killer Freeze

This morning the frost was so thick on the ground that it looked like snow. The sun didn't start to come up over the hill and through the trees until eight or later, and it hasn't been much help. The sky is a clear, cloudless, cold blue. It's cold out there!

We've been digging irises to replant and give away. The garden was blessed with them when we moved here eight years ago. They were at their height when we moved in, and I counted a dozen colors at the time. We have found others since. The thing about irises, though, is that every few years they have to be dug up and thinned and what you can't use, you should share. They are so easy to grow, anyone who has a bit of ground can do it.

When I was a little kid, someone gave my father some irises in a burlap bag. When he got them home, he was too tired to do anything with them, so he just threw bag and all on the ground by the porch. He forgot about them through the rain and snow of winter. But they didn't forget to grow! They grew right through the burlap bag and bloomed beautifully the next spring.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I remember Thanksgivings when I was a kid. Going to Grandma's house in my father's Plymouth (he never drove anything but a Plymouth) and bringing Grandma home to have dinner with us, then taking her back to her home and visiting my other Grandma for a few minutes. We're talking northwestern Pennsylvania here, where there was often snow on the ground at this time of year, and had been for a while.

It wasn't a really big deal. Now, Thanksgiving is the church Thanksgiving we went through Saturday, and I find that appropriate. Thanksgiving should mean sharing.

So share what you have with those around you -- even if it is just a smile.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

My Writing is Suffering

There was a time when I got up at 5:30 every morning, turned on my Smith Corona office electric typewriter, wrote for half and hour, then roused the family, got them out the door and wrote until three in the afternoon. Granted, about half the typing I did at that time was of the cross-out- and- try-again variety. But there have been days when I wrote 3,000 words. Not often, but some.

Eleven published books later, I can barely write a couple hundred words, and I seriously think they probably shouldn't have been written or even thought. Writing has changed drastically in the last twenty-five years. Publishing has changed. Reading has changed. I haven't been able to keep up.

I've been interested in electronic publishing since 1987. My first ebook came out in 1988 -- Once Again a Princess, if you care to check it out. It was a book I just sat down and let fly. At the time, I was recovering my sight from two eye surgeries. I had no thought in the world it would ever get past my computer. It broke all the rules I'd been working with to try to sell to Harlequin, Silhouette and Zebra. And it was way long. I imagine, whereas my other ebooks go into trade paperback, Princess will never see print because of its length.

It's hard, having written, to go back and write some more. It's a lonely thing to do, unappreciated and underpaid. But maybe I'll get back to it, get a great idea that will hound me into its revelation. But I'm getting too old for that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

One Size Doesn't Fit All!

My daughter last night is having problems with her son in school. I sincerely empathize with her, because I had the same problems with her brother. There seems to be a genetic problem in the family, perhaps Asberger's Syndrome. These people are often brilliant, but they just don't fit the public school mold.

When faced with a teacher who is tied to a curriculum/lesson plan, the guys just can't cope -- and neither can the teacher deal with a mind that is going sideways and rushing ahead at the same time. The teacher is dealing with a heirarchy that increasingly forces faculty to teach toward standardized tests -- and the students aren't built to the standards.

Luckily, my daughter has an option. She can work out a way to home-school my grandson. I wish I'd had that option for my son. Even though I had a degree in teaching, the school districts twenty and thirty years ago discouraged taking kids out of school and teaching them in areas where their gifts were taking them.

How did that turn out? My son is brilliant with gifts that don't fit the world the way it is. I wish I had bucked the system. I guess the lesson is that sometimes you just have to hew your own path.

No child left behind may mean that no child will blaze the trail either.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Final Report

Saturday, when we got to the church to pare potatoes, people were already there, lining up cans of sweet potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. There was a stack of sticks of margarine softening, waiting to be dumped into a big pan of mashable potatoes.

One of the men brought biscuits and gravy from a fast-food place, and there was a tray of biscuits baking in the oven. Another man had brought some of his home-cured Southern ham and had fried it on the stove. One bite has a day's alottment of salt! Wow!

Anyway, many hands make the work go faster, and many tongues tell many jokes.

My husband and I delivered thirty meals meals just on our road. When we stopped to leave meals for eight people of one family, they gave us a loaf of bread still warm from the oven. The people who live alone always want us to stay and talk. They are lonely. We'll try harder to get around to them this year to see that they are all right.

By the end of the evening, we tallies up over 200 meals delivered and about 100 eaten in the church hall. The donations people pressed on us were converted within twenty-four hours into eight warm coats for children in the elementary school in the village. Success!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Tomorrow is a Big Day!

Our turkey is done, and the made-outside-the-bird dressing is in the oven, its top being toasted by the heat left over from the baking. Three pumpkin pies are in the refrigerator.

Now the fun begins. Tomorrow morning we will go up to the church at nine and begin paring potatoes. Last year, three 50-lb boxes of "bakers" were donated. They were the most beautiful potatoes I've ever seen. (Take this from someone who is allergic to white spuds in the first place.) Of the whole hundred pounds we pared, only half of one potato had to be discarded. The other fifty pounds were donated to a charity food pantry and they were glad to get them.

At 3 o'clock, the food that people have prepared at home will be brought to the church and meals for shut-ins and needy families will be assembled to be delivered. The deliveries will start at 3:30. The in-church serving will begin at 4:00 and go until 8:00, or when the food runs out. Then we'll clean up and go home to collapse.

Now, here is an irony. We have a new minister, and he teaches Bible study one Sunday a month. This Sunday happens to be it. Since he is a bachelor (for another month, at least) we have a covered dish pot luck on the Sunday evenings he teaches. Heaven help anyone who brings a turkey hot dish!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Troubling Thoughts

I get most if not all my news from the broadcast media. NPR, PBS, the networks and news shows are my sources both of news and anxiety. Two programs this week have bothered me.

I didn't see the program that dealt with WalMart sending encouraging suppliers to send jobs to China (okay, so that is an oversimpliciation), but before I'd totally worked that angst out of my system, I watched West Wing and am even more upset today.

I was raised in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, in the town where the first oil well was drilled in 1859. Last night's West Wing emphasized that at current rates of use in twenty years -- about 2025 -- the world's supply of petroleum will be gone! In less than 200 years since Drake's Well came in!

What does one have to do with the other? The American jobs going to Asia, to the point where a great many people no longer have jobs to buy items they need for adequate standards of living, and petroleum products disappearing -- well, I come back to one word that has constantly given me clues to whys of this world.


The people at the top want more and more material possessions and wealth for themselves, and to feather their nests, they use more and more of hte world's non-renewable resources for themselves. They don't care about others. They are living for today, shortsighted, ignoring the long view of not only our society but all the world beyond..

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Everything is Right on Schedule

Our little church of fifty active members will be feeding about 250 people Saturday. More about that later, maybe tomorrow.

Today we were supposed to do the finishing touches on the kitchen, but by the time we got there -- almost an hour before we were scheduled to be there -- several other people were almost finshed. Someone had come in and mopped the floor. One woman was babysitting two little kids whose usual caregivers were putting up fresh curtains, bleaching tables and every other surface in sight.

Two crock pots and four electric roasters sit at the ready for a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Hm. . .I wonder if the dessert table was cleaned. I'll check on that when I go to pare the potatoes Saturday morning. After all, there will be thirty-five different desseerts. That's why EVERYBODY comes to our Thanksgiving dinner!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The "Used" Bread store

As retirees, we have a very limited budget, so we go to a bread outlet store, which someone called the "used bread store" and the name has stuck within the family and our circle of friends. We've been going there for eight years, and know the woman who manages it well enough to take her little preesents sometimes, and she brought us a souvenier from her vacation.

When they gave a free loaf of bread to senior citizens (which included my husband but not me at the time) on Wednesdays, we went on Wednesdays. They changed their promotion to something of Tuesdays. We discussed the situation and changed our social schedule to go on Tuesdays. Just now they are closing out a coupon program, so I won't have to remember to pick up the local promo booklets at the grocery store.

But I'm sort of off balance, wondering if the next promotion will invovle another change in schedule. After all, the people in the grocery store expect us on Thursday mornings. The whole town might be effected if we have to make a major change.

Monday, November 15, 2004

My Quilting Buddy

A lot of the things I do in my life are solitary -- writing, gardening, and quilting. But I do have a buddy when it comes to quilting. She's younger than my oldest kid, which tells you something. She keeps me young and in touch with things that are going on in the world now.

Mainly, we go to quilt shops and quilt shows to buy fabric and get ideas. One Saturday a month, we go to our local quilt show, sit through a demonstration of all the new gimmicks and patterns and look at the new fabrics that have arived at the store. Then we get the bits of fabric and the directions for a quilt block, and at the end of the year, we'll have enough block to make a small quilt.

This sounds rather cut and dried, but that's because you don't know my friend. She has a wild sense of humor. When she tells a story, she talks so fast that she leaves gaps, and I fill in with mental pictures. It's hard to tell when things have happened, because time gets warped, but I've learned to keep up. And ask very few questions. It's better that way.

The great thing is that we see each other as equals, although people sometimes think I'm her mother. She fills the gap of feminine company in my life. She also fills my life with laughter.

Everybody ought to have a friend like that.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A Writer Writing About Writing

Yes, I'm a writer. I write sweet romances, generally. These with the period between first meetings and realization of commitment. That's about as much of the situation as I can deal with.

I wrote a book once, Come Home to Love, which dealt with a married pair who were separated, but that was for a specific line of romances for and about mature women. Other than that -- first meetings, angst, committment. The only time I add something is if the word count doesn't fill the pages of the standard print book ... and I hate having to fill three more pages. Let's not go there. It's one of the reasons I prefer writing for electronic publication.

But I am working on a book. It has nothing to do with this being the month that people are supposed to write a novel. That doesn't work for me. I can't write a book like that. I need time to cogitate, research, comtemplate, procrastinate. So quilting, gardening, making chili -- it all gives me time to gather bits of reality to make into the fantasy that is a novel.

So maybe I'll go work on my novel. And maybe not.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Life Is Just a Bowl of Chili

My husband and I just finished building a pot of chili. Our recipe and method are unique, as I suppose every chili recipe is. It has evolved over time to satisfy the discerning tastes of our family.

It took a long time for my husband to succumb to adding Tabasco sauce. He started out using four drops. Now he is up to six. At least that is what he says. This is the first time I have actually witnessed him in the ritual adding of the Tabasco, but I could have sworn he put in more than six drops.

Eighteen months ago, when there was a display of Tabasco at the Save-A-Lot, he decided to get a reserve bottle. Today I observed that he might consider breaking it out. The liquid he used seemed awfully clear, having left a corola of solids inside the shoulder of the bottle. What is in there is nowhere near as colorful as the unopened bottle. Perhaps he doesn't think the new bottle is sufficiently aged, but I'll bet any coupons in the box are out of date by now.

My husband was pretty much horrified that I told this blog what he gave me for my birthday, and he will probably think I'm giving away his secret chili ingredient.
But you can't drag it out of me! No1 Not for all the Tabasco in Lousianna!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Non-political Bias (Honest!)

Yesterday a miracle happened. Background first.

I took an unfinished quilt from the large hoop so that I can put another quilt on it. It's no great problem -- the quilt is just a scrap quilt, and it will join the other two (and a half) quilts on our bed, now that it is getting cold here in the mountains.

I have a book that tells me just how much fabric I need to cut bias to go around a quilt -- big chart, dull reading, but I have done so many batches of bias that the book automatically opens to the page. So why not buy the bias already cut? Because the fabric is not as nice and the colors rarely match.

It's a very techical process -- cut, sew, cut, press, sew and sew some more. So what was the miracle?

For the first time in twenty years of making bias for almost two hundred quilts, it came out perfect! The last little bit was exactly the same width as the first!

The quilt itself may be a mess, but the bias binding the edge is perfect!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Rescuing Geraniums

Two summers ago, I bought a pot of geraniums on impulse one evening when we went to the supermarket for ice cream. The strain was an eye-poping bright red with just a little orange. The pot spent the summer on the front porch, then I brought it in for the winter, took slips off it, and last spring transplanted them all to a little space by the back door -- which of course gets more traffic than the front door.

Yesterday I lifted eight plants and brought them inside. This house doesn't have enough light for houseplants to survive. The one window that does bring in enough light is upstairs, far away from sight, far away from my mind. So I am trying the old way of keeping geraniums over winter -- hanging them upside down from the ceiling. I'll put them on the sunporch -- it's not heated, and I can keep an eye on them there. I'll pot them as early as I can, probably in early March, and put them in the coldframe.

I pulled the last of the basil plants because they had taken the frost hard, so, yes, I'm proud I'd harvested them when I did.

We had another frost overnight, so I imagine the nasturtiums are done. I enjoyed them so much. They are underused in our gardens these days.

I'll be quilting today, and I hope to get some writing done. Carrying a novel in one's head causes headaches.

Monday, November 08, 2004

It Was a Lovely Weekend

It's a strange thing about weekends. Many people don't enter anything in their blogs over the weekends, but I've noticed that is when I get my best ideas.

Like this past weekend. It was sunny but brisk outside, and we had work to do, clearing away where the chicken coop had been, and moving leaves around -- that's all you really do, you know.

But I did indulge in one of the things that makes my life worth getting up in the morning. I made twelve quilt blocks. These were nine-patches for a swap. We were instructed to use a fabric that evoked our home area. I'd made one trip to the fabric shop and hadn't found anything that said "Tennessee!" But on my second trip Friday afternoon, the perfect fabric jumped out at me.

It's a funny thing about quilting. No quilt it perfect. It is hard to even make one block perfect. I had to tear all my strips apart and resew them because they were that little bit too skinny. Then they went together more easily. But the thing is, they are not all perfect.

Life lesson: The individual pices of you life might not be perfect, but then when they are all put together, they become beautiful.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Great Bierce Birthday

Today is my husband's birthday, and by an odd coincidence, it is also our daughter's birthday. If you don't think that takes planning!

In view of the great gift I received for my birthday, I had my qualms when I approached him yesterday to find out what he was really looking forward to.

"I need a new belt," he said. Indeed the one he'd been wearing every day for more years than we could pin down was getting shabby.

"Where do you want to go to look?" I thought I could at least get a trip into "town" out of this situation.

"The flea market!" he said.

It was a nice day for a ride, the flea market wasn't crowded yet. He found what he wanted, albeit a size longer than he had planned on, and he even paid for it himself.

The guy's a saint!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

To Blog or Not to Blog

Well, I guess I have to do it. My son, who is my biggest fan and severest critic, nags me. But that's okay. I need to exercise my commitment muscles.

Just turning on the computer every day is a great way of wasting time. First I check my email, then I do a jigsaw puzzle, then I play games. I know I should get off this computer and go turn on the one that isn't hooked up to the Internet. It is my writing computer, and so far, I don't think I've finished a book on that particular one. I've started three, finished zero.

So if I look like I am working on my blog, I can further delay having to get to work. Hm.

It's a great temptation to avoid work and still be tapping on the keys, looking like I'm working. Assuming the position of working. Okay, I'm going to publish this day's blog and -- and go do something else. This is enough excerise for today.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Non-political Blog (Honest!)

I'm waiting to the mail to come. It seems like I'm always waiting for the mail. That's a measure of how boring my life is. I used to wait for it when I was a teenager and had a penpal in a foreign country. I wore the seat out of a perfectly good pair of jeans (although I hated jeans) sitting on the concrete stoop, watching for the mailman.

Now we live on a country road that gets a fair amount of traffic. Our mail carrier, a very nice woman who calls me by name and waves even if she doesn't have anything for me, comes noonish-oneish. She is not someone you can set your clock by, but that doesn't matter. She has a long route and probably has some trouble with traffic.

I've never met a mail carrier who has had a really bad attitude. Maybe I'm lucky, or maybe they are mostly nice, helpful people.

It's too bad they bring mostly bills and advertisements. But they're just doing their jobs.

Yep, I guess she's come by. Now I have to get back to work.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Scary Questions

This morning a friend of mine emailed me to ask how much dry yeast to measure from a jar, which was all the store had -- no little packets.

I thought for a minute, started one reply, then editted it and said something else. So much pressure, trying to picture the little heap of dry yeast sitting atop a cup of warm water, beginning to dissolve. I said I thought it was about a tablespoon.

I added the caveat that I wouldn't be responsible for a batch of monkey bread that ate East Tennessee.

Awhile later, I got a post from her saying that she had found a cookbook that said it was the equivalent of a "scant" tablespoon. How do you know how much to take out of the tablespoon to make it "scant"?

This is the type of question that scares me, with gray areas. The answer can be a little bit right, a little bit wrong. How can you study for questions like that?

I just hope that when I turn on the news this evening, there isn't a flash that a batch of monkey bread has escaped and eaten Interstate 81.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The House Smells Wonderful!

I'm an avid gardener. Just a few steps away from the kitchen door -- which is the main entrance of any country house -- I have an herb garden. This year, in an effort to curry my favor, my husband took some planks from the old chicken coop and made me a fairly nice little bed for my herbs.

I expanded the usual parsley, mint, thyme and oregano to include basil, rosemary and something called "candy" mint. Since they all were a bit too much green, I also planted a package of nasturtiums. They're edible, too, but I've not gotten that hungry.

Today was harvest. So far I've dried a tray of mint and have basil, rosemary and thyme in the oven now. There's no great trick to drying herbs. Wash the cuttings, arrange them on a cookie sheet, and put them into the oven at 200 degrees for twenty minutes or so. You can store them in a recloseable sandwich bag -- they can crumple up nicely there.

But the little labled jars are so cute, aren't they? Someone comes into your kitchen and sees them and marvels at how clever you are. You glow. Weeding was worth it!

Oops! There goes the timer!