Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Foibles ~~ Boudreaux's Gene Pool

Hope all of you are sliding into a great weekend this beautiful TGIF. {See photos at bottom for a glimpse of the heaven I'm soaking up at Kat's. Hope I can make myself go home at some point. Hehe.}

Here's a new Boudreaux & Thibodaux episode involving one of our crazy Cajun friends. Thank my dad for forwarding it to me. :D


Boudreaux, an 80-year-old South Louisiana Cajun, goes to the doctor for his every year check-up. The doctor is amazed at what good shape he is in and asks, "How you stay in such great physical condition, Boudreaux?"

"Mais, I stay in da swamp and I hunt and fish every day," says Boo with a grin, "and dat's why I'm in such good shape, yeah. I'm up before da daylight and out hunting or fishing all day. I have me a beer for breakfast and at lunch and wit my supper. And I have a shot of hooch before bedtime. And I say my prayers every night. And all is well wid me." 

"Well", says the doctor, "I'm sure dem prayers helps, but there's got to be more to it. How old was your father when he died?"

"Who said Pop's dead?"

The doctor is amazed. "You mean you're 80 years old and your father's still alive? How old he is?"

"Pop be a hunert (100) next month," says Boudreaux. "In fack, he hunted wit me dis morning, and den we went to dis (this) place called Da Deer Camp and popped a few tops wit da fellas, and dat's why Pop's still alive. He's a tough ol' Cajun man and he hunts and fishes every day too." 

"Well," the doctor says, "that's great, but I'm sure there's more to it than that. How about your father's father? How old was he when he died?"

"Who said my Paw Paw's dead?"

Stunned, the doctor asks, "You mean you're 80 years old, your father is 100 and your grandfather's still living? Incredible! How old he is?"

"We tink 'bout 118," says the old Cajun. Him like his beer too, but he wont touch da hard stuff, no."

The doctor is getting frustrated at this point. "So, I guess your grandfather went hunting and fishing with y'all this morning too?"

"No, Paw Paw couldn't go dis time. He's jumpin' da broom today." 

At this point the doctor is close to losing it. "Getting married! Why would a 118-year-old man want to get married?"

Boudreaux looks down at the floor and mumbles, "Who said he wanted to?"


Hope that gave you a grin. Now for some scenery that makes ya go Ahhhhhh...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Writerly Wednesday ~~ Wish You Were Here!

Nothing better for your writing than to escape the rat race and regular routines (how ya like all them Rs?) for a fresh and different perspective. Can you believe this view from Kat's porch? Every few minutes it changes, according to the weather and time of day. Ahhh! I call this Magendie Mountain.

Just one of the many critters that visits all the time; perfectly at home until three or four of the bushy-tailed babies start squawking over whose turn it is at the feeding trough. A great reminder to incorporate sight, smell and sound into our WIPs too.

Lest you think Kat and I are only playing while I'm here visiting, here's proof that we're getting some writing and social networking done along with the fun. Working with someone else can unearth buried writing fodder and nuggets if you brainstorm well together. There's nothing more inspiring to me than writing together because it's often a lonely pursuit.

Do you have someone with whom you work particularly well? Have you contacted them lately? Even via email or phone, you can get each other's writing pistons firing!


If you love poetry (reading and/or writing it), cruise on over to Rose & Thorn Journal's blog and read the eloquent and lovely thoughts of Louisiana State Poet Laureate Dr. Darrell Bourque's two-part interview. You'll be glad ya did!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Sweet Treat!

Guess where I am?! This swamp-dweller is up on Kathryn Magendie's mountain for a little vaycay. Wheeee!

The food served for our first meal was primo...followed up by GMR's version of Emeril Lagasse's recipe for the most delicious dessert. Wish you could view the photo in smell-a-vision! Enjoy...

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/2 ripe medium pineapple, peeled, cored, eyes removed and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds (about 4 or 5 slices) [can used canned!]
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
14 pecan halves
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising) 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
4 fresh cherries, halved and pits removed

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet, over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the sugar mixture is bubbly, about 2 minutes. Arrange pineapple slices in the skillet in a pleasing pattern and continue to cook for 2 minutes, or until the sugar mixture turns an amber color. Turn the pineapple slices over and remove the pan from the heat. (The mixture will continue to cook even though the heat is off.) Arrange the pecan halves in the spaces between the rings. Set aside to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 3 batches, mixing at low speed after each addition until just combined. Stir in the vanilla and rum.

Spoon the batter evenly over the pineapple slices in the skillet. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown and a tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool the cake in the skillet on a wire rack for 4 minutes only. Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake and, wearing oven mitts and working quickly, invert the cake onto a cake plate, keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together. Carefully lift the skillet off cake and replace any fruit stuck to the bottom of the skillet, if necessary. Arrange the fresh cherry halves, cut side down, into the top of the cake, in the center of the pineapple rings.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Foibles ~~ An "EL OH EL" from the Family Files

Oh boy, it's the weekend! {Anybody wanna come help me with my daughter's garage sale...the daughter who's still sleeping when we have so much to do to get ready?!}

Before I unveil today's funny, how's about sending a few prayers to Louisiana and the Gulf area? Not only are we dealing with the BP oil spill Hurricane Bonnie has us in her evil sites! Ug.


Okay...this really did make me laugh out loud: daughter "Queenie" recently reached the age of majority, so my twin and a friend threw her a painting party at a local park facility. Everyone had fun, did some creative painting over canvas covered with modge podge-coated newspaper strips of a zebra striped high heel shoe, and natch, downed some good vittles.

The following is the thank-you card Queenie's father and I received for the twenty-first birthday bash. It's one of the perks that makes changing poopy diapers and dealing with teenage drama all worth it ~~

And just in case your eyes are as old as mine, the note says:

Mom & Dad,

Thanks for the AMAZING birthday party and for being such loving and caring parents. I couldn't ask for better role models. I love you both will all my heart.

"heart" Queenie

PS: Mom - thanks for the 9 months & 32 hours [32 hours was my labor time]
      Dad - thanks for the initial 10 seconds. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writerly Wednesday ~~ Author Interview with Ronlyn Domingue

RONLYN DOMINGUE is the author of The Mercy of Thin Air (Atria Books). The debut novel was a 2005 Borders Original Voices Award Finalist and was acquired in 11 other countries. Her writing has appeared in New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, New Delta Review, and The Independent (UK). She earned an MFA degree in creative writing from Louisiana State University. In the past, Ronlyn worked as a grassroots organizer, project manager, teacher, and grant writer. Novel #2 is in progress, completion date heretofore unknown. Visit her at her site or Facebook.

1.) What do you like about contributing to The Nervous Breakdown?

I enjoy the magazine’s positive community spirit. When I started to write for TNB last summer, I noticed that comments on the pieces tended to be thoughtful and encouraging. Snarkiness rarely rears up. (And several writers have become friends, both online and in person.) There’s so much content diversity, too, from funny to serious, politics to personal stories, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. I always find something wonderful to read. I think I’ve grown as a writer by having this outlet, a chance to share stories and ideas through nonfiction.

2.) If you had to name one thing that makes good fiction, what is it?

The ring of truth. To read a book for entertainment is pleasurable, serves the moment. To read a book that makes you feel—which connects you to the human experience in a way that speaks to you—feeds the soul.

3.) At a recent writers conference, you spoke on the difficulty of POV. Any advice on getting it right?
Trust the story to tell you what it wants. I once wrote a short story in third person limited because I thought it was a more literary approach. That’s what I was supposed to do. But after I finished the draft, I realized the protagonist had to tell the story in his own voice. It was a leap because the main character was a nine-year-old African-American boy. I often recommend the novel Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman because the story is told from several points of view. The perspective from which the writer writes shapes how the reader will perceive the work as a whole, as well as specific characters and situations. My opinion is that Perlman’s novel would not have been so profound if he’d chosen a more simplistic way of telling the story.

4.) I'm reading (and am captivated/inspired by) your The Mercy of Thin Air. The non-linear plot is fascinating but unusual. Did you have problems convincing your agent or publisher to let you do it that way?

First, thank you for the compliment. Second, to answer your question, no, not at all. No one ever suggested I change that aspect of it. I believe each book has its own inherent structure. A wise writer will pay attention to what the book reveals. The Mercy of Thin Air wanted to be told with the interweaving plot lines with time fractured as it was. Sure, I could have crafted the novel with a straightforward chronology, but that would have undermined its suspense and power.

5.) Do you have a handy-dandy list of three things emerging writers can do to improve their chances of publication?

(1) As often as possible, avoid words that end with –ing and avoid passive voice. You’ll be surprised how much your prose improves.

(2) Write what you want to write. Audiences don’t know what they want to read until they read it. Publishers can’t predict trends or what will break out as “the” hot books of a season. If you make it as a writer, that has as much to do with your own talent as it does with luck and timing. The former is under your control. The latter two are not.

(3) Be perseverant. You will have to work, not piddle, at your writing. You will face rejection—which feels terrible but it is part of the experience. You will have to work for what you want. For example, The Mercy of Thin Air took four years to complete. Then within 15 months, I researched and queried 60 agents—and was rejected by 59 of them. If I gave up at any part of this process, you wouldn’t be reading this now.

6.) When you read the Kirkus Review's thoughts on your book -- "Debut novelist Domingue weaves a tapestry of lost spirits and misplaced lovers...” -- did you get goose bumps? How much stock do you place in reviews?

Goosebumps, no. The experience was so surreal that it almost felt as if that and other reviews were about someone else’s book. As for what stock I put in them, enough to know they matter but don’t have the power to make or break a novel. Reviews serve a publicity function to get the title and author’s name out there. Good or bad, they also serve as a way to track a writer’s work in a cultural context. Ultimately, it’s the unpredictable force of word-of-mouth that changes a book’s life.

7.) Book two -- what is it, where are you in the process, and how is it different from your first?

Novel #2 will not let me speak about it specifically. At this point, the entire story is plotted, and I have sense of most of the significant connections among characters and events. It’s different from my first in its scope and depth. This is an epic story, although that doesn’t mean it will have an epic length. There’s a dark, brutal, archetypal quality to this novel that was not present in the first. However, like The Mercy of Thin Air, it ends in light.

8.) What draws you to the supernatural and psychological elements while crafting a story?

The stories pick me. I don’t choose them. Whatever interest I have in the paranormal and psychology gives me the ability to understand the evolving work intellectually. I’m able to separate the experience—then merge it back together. How do I explain this….I receive rather than imagine. Stories come in fragments of image, dialogue, “knowings.” I’m tasked with making sense of all of this, piecing it together in a meaningful and understandable way. For example, there are images within Novel #2 that I appreciate more fully because I’ve read a good bit of C.G. Jung. Those images would work just fine on their own, but with my knowledge, I’ll be able to add a layer of depth that may not have been present before.

9.) Best advice you give your students? Your "For Writers" section of your website is really nice.

I can’t generalize here. If a student or friend asks for my guidance, I pay attention to where that person is in his/her growth as a writer and what s/he wants to achieve. There’s no one-size-fits-all. My “For Writers” page keeps that in mind. Some people simply want to start writing. Others are ready to look for agents. A few others might be in the process of getting published and want to know what to expect. Every writer’s journey is different, and I strive to respect that. And I know I don’t have all the answers.

10.) Give us a look at a typical day in your life.

The other day, I made a comment to my sister that I live as a secular contemplative. I spend most of my daylight hours alone with my cat. The amount of time I spend reflecting on what I’ll write far exceeds the actual moments spent writing. I tend our vegetable and flower gardens either morning or evening. At night, my partner Todd and I usually watch a movie. This might sound horribly boring to many people, but for me, I need this silent, solitary space to produce the next novel. And I’m very grateful to be able to bring it into the world in this way.

Thank you for taking time away from your busy schedule to do the interview, Ronlyn.

PS for the POETS: We've got a really informative interview with our State Poet Laureate Dr. Darrell Bourque posted at the Rose & Thorn blog (oddly enough, called Roses & Thorns...hehe). If you love poetry, you'll love his perspective!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Lemonade with a Twist

Being how this is the hottest summer I can remember -- guess it balances out the coldest winter we had here in the deep deep south -- I'm thinking of delicious ways to keep from melting. Today's culinary offering should do the trick! Enjoy.

What's your favorite summer cool down item?

Berry Cool Lemonade

2 cups fresh blackberries (thawed frozen works well too)
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup Splenda (granulated) OR comparable amount of honey!
4 cups cold water
Enough crushed ice for 6 glasses
Fresh mint sprigs, blackberries or lemon slices for garnish

Combine blackberries, lemon juice, and Splenda or honey in a blender. Blend til smooth, scraping sides of container. Use a sieve to press down solids into a pitcher. Stir in water and mix well. Pour over ice in glasses. Garnish. Ahhh! 

**Wouldn't this concoction make awesome ice cubes to add to other drinks?!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Fun Facts: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About...

... Rose & Thorn Journal.

If you get a spare minute or two, surf on over to Duotrope's Digest and check out our editor's interview. It's a "must read" if you or someone you know is interested in submitting prose or poetry. {DD is an awesome writing tool and resource to mine!}

Also, if you're a member of the Twitterverse, please follow us @RoseandThorn, and we'll follow back!

And lastly (but certainly not leastly), our new summer issue of Rose & Thorn just went live yesterday. We're mighty proud of the prose, poetry and art it contains -- a nice eclectic mix of emerging and established voices and visions! We'd LOVE it if you'd sign up for our beautiful and free quarterly newsletter at the site too. Just hit the link at the top of this post and be transported to our lovely literary planet. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend, y'all!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Best for Your Body (and it's free!)

Today's fuel suggestion for your bod is something we don't think about consuming enough of. . . especially at this HOT HOT HADES HOT time of year. We're made up of 70% of this good stuff, so we need to remember to replenish our tanks daily and stay hydrated.

GIT YEW SUM~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, don'tcha feel better? I know I do. The tap water photo came from a nifty blog called Water Secrets if you want more info on the world of water. And If you've got nifty tips on staying hydrated, how 'bout sharing them with us?

"See ya" tomorrow with a really juicy and interesting author interview!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writerly Wednesday ~~ Motivaton

I've got a great interview with a very talented author & teacher to share with you tomorrow, but first, a few questions...

Why do you write? Money, fame, immortality, creative outlet or some combination of factors?

Is this the reason you began writing, or has that changed?

If someone offered you $10,000 in exchange for your writing goals, would you take it and never write again?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tasty Tuesday ~~ Get Your Drool Bibs On!

Why is it when you decide to get into a healthier mode, you see yummy food everywhere? (Yeah, I joined the health club and am eating right, cutting down on coffee, adding water, blah blah blah bleh!) :D

Oh well, if I can't eat it, at least I can dream and drool over it while I munch my yogurt, salad or granola bar!

Today's selection comes from the 2010 issue of Louisiana Life Travel magazine -- a publication just loaded with recipes and destinations for every taste. Enjoy...

Stuffed French Toast with Pecans

6 slices French bread, cut 1-inch thick
3/4 cup apricot preserves (can probably substitute your fav)
6 T. cream cheese
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 T. all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Powdered sugar
Maple syrup

Cut each bread slice to 1/2 inch of the edge. Fill each with 2 T. of jam and 1 T. of cream cheese. Whisk eggs, milk & flour in a medium bowl to blend. Stir together pecans, sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and brush with oil. Dip each bread slice into egg mixture and then into pecan mixture, coating completely. Cook until golden, brushing skillet with oil between batches. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, divide among plates, and pass the syrup. Great with crispy bacon.
Serves 6.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day 2010


May your celebrations and gatherings include rememberance of those who have secured, and still fight for, our liberties. In the next few days, I'm going to refresh myself on the contents of our Constitution, beginning with a summary. Hope you'll do the same. Remember: knowledge is power.

~~Happy Fourth, y'all.~~

God bless America!

**Image from KarensWhimsy, a beautiful site featuring vintage images, art and other great stuff that you may freely use. Check out Karen's cool stuff soon!

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