Moo-moo-moovin’

My blog is moving to a new location! If you enjoy what you’ve read so far, please start following me at my new blog space over at http://pamelamorrisbooks.com/blog/

 

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The Shadows Are Revealed

In 2013 my first paranormal mystery, “Blood of the Scarecrow”, was released. Due to circumstances beyond my control, it went out of print a mere six months later. Since then, I have been working on not just finding a new publisher for “…Scarecrow”, but writing and completing two other novels.

Although it’s a stand alone novel, the first of those, “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” also continues a subplot, introduces new characters, keeps a lot of the old ones, and of course, brings us face to face with more dark, murderous, and paranormal nastiness. I like to call it “…Scarecrow”‘s companion book for want of better terminology.

With that, I am pleased to announce that “That’s What Shadows Are Made Of” is now AVAILABLE! through Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Europe, as well as the Create Space eStore. Due to some formatting snags, it’s not yet available on Kindle, but hopefully those are soon remedied. MAY even be remedied as I type this.

BUY “THAT’S WHAT SHADOWS ARE MADE OF” HERE!

Additionally, that which WAS “Blood Of The Scarecrow” is undergoing edits, rewrites, new content, cover changes, and will be re-released within the next six months under the new title of “Secrets Of The Scarecrow Moon”

Thank you all for your patience and continued support in my efforts to write and share my stories with you.

 

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin-Eater

As I do every year just before Halloween I bought some pumpkins. My heart wasn’t into it as much this time around, but who am I to break a lifelong tradition? I considered carving them into Jack-o’-lanterns, but that never happened. The smallest of the three succumbed early to rot. The other two sat on the porch quietly awaiting their fates. Would they, too, be food for the birds and critters?

Last week Jim asked about them, suggesting I actually process them and make a pie. It was a novel idea and not one I have not considered in the past. It did seem a waste to just let them sit around only to eventually be tossed out back into the compost pile.

On Saturday, I made the commitment and set to work cutting, gutting, cooking, puréeing, and freezing the smaller of the two still edible squashes. I figured the big one wouldn’t be as good for human consumption and frankly I don’t use a lot of pumpkin in anything to begin with. This was more a fun project than anything else. I ended up with 12 cups of home-processed pumpkin. Not a bad haul and easy enough to make.

As my mind is wont to do, it wandered off while all this was going on. It kept repeating that old nursery rhyme in my head, “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater” to the point of turning into something more than a little disturbing.

Consider the whole rhyme for a moment:

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn’t love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.

Seriously think about this.

This guy Peter, apparently a HUGE fan of pumpkins, can’t seem to keep his wife interested. His solution is to put her inside a pumpkin shell and keep her there. First off, that’s one big pumpkin. Second, how did she go about her domestic duties once put into this shell… or did she? He’s a known eater of pumpkins. He stuffs his difficult wife into a pumpkin. Does he then eat the pumpkin and possibly his wife in the process?

peter-pumpkin-eater

As I cooked my own pumpkins, I pondered this more times than is probably healthy. Maybe Peter was actually a cannibal! Maybe putting her into a pumpkin shell is the nice way of saying he butchered her, ala Mr. Todd and his lovely assistant Mrs. Lovett.

Which brings us to the next verse. The wife Peter stuffed into (and possibly ate) a pumpkin shell was apparently not his one and only. His second wife he was unable to love until he could read and spell (write). I get the feeling Peter was not a particularly bright man. Perhaps he envied this other wife’s education. I’m going to speculate she was pretty well off considering this poem is believed to have been first published around 1825, a time when well-read women weren’t quite so common as they are today.

After eating his first wife, Peter found another woman he admired. Unfortunately, she lived in a world above his. Maybe he was but a mere pumpkin farmer and felt he didn’t have a chance with this new woman until he could improve on his own education. So, Peter somewhere along the line learned to read and spell. Only then was he able to approach this new love with the confidence he needed. It never says if she loved him back, mind you. I would like to think she did, otherwise I’m guessing she, too, would have ended up on the dinner table.

All this because I decided to be frugal and not waste my pumpkins this year.

As Edgar A. Poe once wrote, “I am a writer, therefor I am not sane.” Yeah, I really think there may be some truth to all that. Do sane people think about Peter the Pumpkin Eater as a poorly educated pumpkin farming cannibal?

And yet people continue to ask where horror writers get their twisted and dark ideas from!

Oh, and by the way, enjoy your pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin-Pie-Recipe-4

 

An Authentic Mexican-Italian Meal

It’s well known that when you go to your favorite Chinese Buffet you’re not getting authentic Chinese food and Outback doesn’t serve up food indigenous to Australia. Teppanyaki, where the supposedly Japanese guy in the tall hat tosses knives and fire around as if they are as harmless as a three-year-old juggling Nerf balls, originated in Japan 1945 and arrived in America in 1964. The cuisine never really took off so much in Japan, but the tourists loved it! Not really what I’d call authentic. And, for the love of salsa, please don’t try and tell me Taco Bell is real Mexican food.

A few nights back I made some manicotti. When I say made, I mean I took the pre-made ricotta stuffed pasta out of the freezer, put it in a pan, added some home-doctored sauce from a jar, sprinkled it with cheese and popped it in the oven. Apart from meatballs, my Italian food cooking skills are pretty lame. It was tasty enough and enjoyable, but I’m sure many an Italian chef would have been horrified.

Last night, I decided Mexican was in order. According to Jim, I make a mean pico de gallo. I’m particularly proud of that, being as he’s a Texan and all and I figure he knows Tex-Mex better than anyone else I know. Yeah, even the Mexican food in Texas is more Tex than Mex, but I digress.

Feeling somewhat lazy and lacking the time, ingredients or willingness to get too into dinner making, I remembered I’d bought some frozen bean and cheese burritos. Normally, I don’t get this kind of crap because God only knows what’s in there beyond innocent beans and cheese. I fall short of making my own tortillas, (It may still happen! After all, it’s got to be easier than prepping acorns to be edible) but normally I’d put a bit more effort into it than last night.

So, I turn the oven on, decide that due to not having anything better to top the burritos with I’ll open a can of chili, (without beans, of course, because chili in Texas doesn’t have beans, does it, Jim?). Now I have a starch (ala the tortilla), and three proteins (beans, beef and cheese). Well, one must have a vegetable to make it a meal so to try and correct this oversight, I chopped up some onions and peppers and gave them a little sauté before adding the chili to the pan. Good enough. A nice, thick hearty chili.

In about 30 minutes everything is ready. I put the burritos in one of my pasta bowls and pour a good helping of the chili over them and top it with cheese. For a moment I considered popping that under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese, but was just too hungry to bother. Twenty minutes, a glass of milk, and two chili-smothered burritos later, I’m stuffed.

As I’m putting things away after the meal, I realize there are no leftovers. Whatever am I going to take for lunch the next day?! I poke around in the fridge and find, ah-ha! leftover manicotti! I set to work putting some into a plastic container for the next day.

And then it hits me. Leftover chili-smothered burritos vs. leftover spaghetti sauce-smothered manicotti. What the what? I look at the manicotti, a tube of starch by way of a pasta shell, stuffed with cheese, covered with meat sauce that also contains peppers and onions and topped with melted cheese. I think about the burritos, a tube of starch by way of a tortilla shell, stuffed with beans and cheese, covered with Texas-style chili (aka meat sauce) that contains peppers and onions and topped with cheese that I considered melting in the oven for a few minutes.

An insane notion enters my mind. What if I were to cover the manicotti with Texas chili and bake it or how about taking the burritos and covering them with Italian spaghetti sauce? What have I stumbled on? Visions of alternate history flashed through my head. What if instead of the Spanish having such a huge influence on the Native cuisine back in the 1600’s, it had been Italians!? Could it be called a Mexican-Italian dish? Would Taco Bell be, I don’t know, Piadina Bell with little packets of tomato sauces on the side?

I’ll never look at manicotti or burritos the same again.

Mind blown.

Boom!

Next thing you know people will be putting tomato sauce on low mein noodles!

Exploring My Inner Squirrel, or, How I Went Nuts

Acorns, acorns everywhere! It’s that time of year when walking around the Arts Quad here at work, or walking to the parking lot can be hazardous to your health. The mass quantity of oak trees we have on campus are shedding their bounty, acorns. They fall randomly. They cover the sidewalks. They get kicked while you walk, crushed under tires, and many a squirrel is gathering and burying them for later.

A couple years back, upon seeing all these nuts, I pondered if they were edible. I mean, they are EVERYWHERE! If we can eat them like the squirrels do, why aren’t we taking advantage of them? It’s free food for goodness sake! As it turns out, they are edible. “Three Fat Guys In The Woods” made some porridge out of them. I found a recipe for Acorn-Maple Cookies made with Acorn Flour.

Oak Bounty

Oak Bounty

Last week, as acorns fell from trees barely missing my head and bounced off the sidewalk behind me, I decided that I would try my hand at the incredible, edible acorn. I gathered 30-40 nuts from a variety of different trees over the course of three days. I didn’t want to get too carried away with this, in case they proved to be nasty. While dinner cooked, I started cracking them open with a hammer because, well, who the heck knows where my real nutcracker is?

Hammer Time

Hammer Time

Other than a few nuts that went flying across the kitchen and my fiancé coming out wondering what the heck I was doing, then asking “Why?” when I told him, (answer: In the event of a Zombie Apocalypse and we’re desperate for food, of course) it was a pretty easy and quick process. Some of the nuts I’d chosen were too old. The meat inside was a shriveled, dry thing the size of a raisin. The majority however, proved in good shape.

I moved on to step two after dinner by placing the freshly shucked nut meats into a shallow dish of cold water to soak overnight. Acorns contain a pretty hearty amount of tannins which makes them super bitter to eat right from the shell. I tried a little pre-soak nibble and almost immediately spit it back out. The next morning I drained the brownish-yellow water and refilled the pan to let the nuts soak another eight hours. Another nibble was taken and again, spat out. So far, so bad.

Acorn3

Soak, soak, soak.

Next, I placed them into a pan and began the boiling process. I let them simmer for about 15 minutes, drained, nibbled (without spitting it out this time) and boiled a second time for another 15 minutes.  I drained again and this time, let them sit in the strainer to dry. The final product after three days was a couple handfuls of, hopefully, edible acorn nuts!

Acorn4

Those are some hot nuts!

The final step, taking more than just a nibble. I removed a good-sized piece, popped it in my mouth, chewed cautiously and well, hm. Not so bad. The vast majority of the bitterness was now gone. There wasn’t a lot of flavor to them, a bit like a bland macadamia nut, but they were certainly edible. I think I’ll maybe try and roast them a bit next and add a touch of salt before presenting them to the family for a taste test.

Acorn5

LET’S EAT!!!

Will I do this again? I don’t know. It was a lot of fun really and now that I know better what to look for when gathering the nuts so I get fewer dried up raisins stumps, I may move on to try and make some Acorn Flour and bake up some of those Acorn-Maple cookies I saw a recipe for next.

Snippets In A Life Gone Surreal

The past few weeks have been surreal.

At the age of five or six, I was a little kid with a big dream. I never doubted the dream. Never. It was at about that age I came to realize that there was something very unique about me amongst my kindergarten peers. Unlike them, I was born in the far off land of New Mexico. I don’t think I really understood where it was or how far away, but it made me feel different, special in a very proud and interesting way. When we were asked to write mini-autobiographies in grade school, my unconventional birth place was always mentioned. It became part of the foundation of who I was. The dream was born. It grew deep, deep roots not only in who I was, but who I would be and what I’d do and where I’d go. “Someday,” I can hear my six-year-old-self saying, “I’m going to go back to New Mexico!” My parents would always say they hoped I would. It was a good goal to have.

I poured over the family photo albums, memorizing the images of places I had no memories of. I’d listen with rapt attention whenever stories were told of this mysterious place far, far away. I was only six months old when we moved away from White Sands, yet in those six months something about the place must have been ingrained into my infant brain, this infantile sense of “this is home”. It sounds weird even to me. This Southwestern-ness sifted through my blood. My love of Mexican food arose from it. I don’t understand how that all can be, but it is and I’m not going to even attempt to explain it.

About five years ago I had reached a point in my life where I felt I’d come full circle. I’d been married and subsequently divorced. My kids were young adults. I was single. I was also feeling very lost. I had no personal goals and felt adrift on the ocean without a compass. I wasn’t sad, but I wasn’t really happy either. I existed, I didn’t live. My soul ached for a direction. Then The Dream winked at me and whispered, “It’s time.”

“Before I’m fifty,” I promised myself. “I’ll go there before I’m fifty come hell or high water.”

Fate is a funny thing. Within three months of this personal mission statement, I found myself in a new relationship. During our second conversation it was revealed we’d both lived at White Sands. The big difference was, he’d been there during his high school days. He had real memories. Fate smirked.

And so it came to pass that just over two weeks ago, four months before my 50th birthday, I found myself on a road trip with this fellow WSMR Kid, who was by now the love of my life, heading to New Mexico. The dream was more than just alive and well, it was thriving! Here I was closer and closer every minute. Mile after mile. Day after day. Until finally, after forty-five years of waiting, there it was, “Welcome To New Mexico”, signs pointing to “Las Cruces”, signs welcoming me to White Sands National Monument, signs that said, “You are now entering White Sands Missile Range”. Me, sniffling my nose and wiping away the tears of joy, of completion, of coming ‘home’. It still chokes me up.

WSNM

For five days I probably took way too many pictures of sand and buildings and mountains and cactus. I probably spent way more time than your average tourist ingraining every element my senses could possible absorb in the short time we had there into my brain. I took actual handwritten notes and have dubbed it research for a future novel. I’d waited almost my entire life for this and I didn’t know, still don’t know, if or when I’ll ever go back again. I hope I do!

On top of all that, I’m with a man I love tremendously who is suddenly showing a very healthy interest in jewelry cases and rings. As if his enthusiasm over picking out a Native American Wedding Vase wasn’t enough, now this. THIS! There’s a longer story to the choosing of a ring than I’ll get into here, but suffice to say, after a mini-meltdown on my part, one was finally selected. It would be another week before I’d be able to wear it. Again, another story for another time. In the meantime, here’s a picture of The Bling.

TheBling

Now we’ve been back in New York for five days. The dream has been lived and expanded upon. A beautiful blue topaz engagement ring has been placed on this middle-aged woman’s finger and I’m feeling that strange sense of the surreal. It crept up on me while I was telling my 22 year old daughter the story of the buying of the ring and subsequent kitchen proposal. Along with this weird near-disbelief that this is indeed my life and who I am and looking forward to who I am still becoming even at this age, I feel that questioning, eager tug of “What next?” Where will our next adventure take us? It reminds me of setting aside the first book in a series and not being able to start the second book for a few days. It’s there on your coffee table. It’s waiting. It’s ready to go.

Eventually, you are able to sit down with a cup of coffee on the front porch on a cool fall morning with that book. That’s where I am now, settling into Part Two, eager to know and live more of the story.

Surviving Narcissism & Why Karma Won’t Work

There has been an odd influx of articles about Narcissism posted by friends of mine on Facebook over the past couple months. It seems dealing with these mentally ill monstrosities that pass themselves off as “normal” human beings is a lot more common than I thought. It’s good to know I am not alone. I find it empowering to know I have friends I can talk to about this who will know exactly where I’m coming from on the subject. I was lucky enough to escape a seven year relationship with a narcissist about five years ago. It derailed my trust in others for a while, but I’m happy to report the train is back on its track and I’m returning to the person I was before this madness all happened.

Wikipedia defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as “a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and others.”

At PsychoCenter.com they state, “Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet. … People with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician.”

Those are great definitions, but they really don’t come close to describing what it’s really like to be involved in a relationship with someone who has NPD. Truth of the matter is, you’re likely not going to know until it’s too late. I had no idea there was such a thing as NPD until after I was out of the relationship. The first time I read about it I was stunned. Why had I never heard of this before? The stories and descriptions I read fit the man I’d been with all those years perfectly! It helped me finally get answers to the questions I’d been asking since it all came crumbling down, why? Why had this happened? Why had he done this? Were all the things he told me about how he felt and the things he did that appeared to be founded in love a lie? Did he ever really love me? How can someone be so cruel, heartless, and unfeeling? Had I done something wrong?

No, I had done absolutely nothing wrong. Yes, every word he said and every deed he performed to convince me he loved me was fake; a lie, to get what he wanted out of the relationship. He wanted the control. He wanted to be the one to decide what was what. When things didn’t go his way, it was everyone’s fault but his own. He was full of rage towards anyone that did not agree with his philosophy. He was right. Everyone else was wrong. The only time he was happy was when he could prove himself right or could use his intelligence to manipulate people into agreeing with him. Oh, yes, he is a very intelligent man. Make no mistake about it. Most narcissists are very smart people. They know exactly what they are doing – they just don’t care who it hurts in the process. They are incapable of empathy.

My anger and confusion has dwindled over the past five years, but I’d be lying to say I didn’t wish all sorts of nastiness to befall this man. I prayed Karma would kick his sorry ass to the curb more than I care to admit. I hoped he’d suffer the pain he’d dished out to me, my family, and Lord knows how many others. I know, we aren’t supposed to pray or wish for bad things like that, but damn it – I’m guilty as charged, but I doubt that Karma is going to do any such thing and here’s why.

Lady With A Truck recently posted an article on her blog about this very topic called, “Law Of Attraction and Why The Narcissist Seems Immune to Karma”. It makes a whole lot of sense to me. In a nutshell, Karma doesn’t work on a Narcissist because they have no sense of doing anything wrong. It’s believed that Karma and the Law of Attraction works based on some sort of ‘vibration’ level. The more positive the feeling, the higher the vibration and the more positive the Karma. Things like love, joy, peace and gratitude give off high vibes. Shame, guilt, fear, and anger give off low vibes. If that’s the case then how does that nasty, manipulative narcissist escape Karmic retribution when their whole life is devoted to hurting others for their own gain and that they don’t even feel love, joy, peace, or gratitude?

To quote from Lady With A Truck’s blog,”…the narcissist does not believe he is bad, he feels justified in the things he does, he does not fear anyone, nor is he ashamed, or feel guilty and even his anger he blames on someone else. The law of attraction doesn’t know if what it is attracted to is a lie or not, it responds to the vibrational level of the person. If that person is sick and has a distorted view of their value whether that distortion is good or bad, they will attract the vibration they send out to the world.”

What about love? Again, Lady With A Truck seems to have stumbled upon a theory that makes a whole lot of sense. She writes, “The narcissist’s brain is wired differently than a normal person so when he meets a new victim his brain releases the same chemicals our brains do when we meet someone who we think we could love, only he is excited because he sees a source of things he wants. He acts much like a person in love, but what he is drawn to is the prospect of being able to suck in another prey and bleed them dry. It is intoxicating to the narcissist much like love is intoxicating to a normal person.”

I really think she is on to something here, unless you go with the idea that Karma is set into action by a Higher Intelligent Being (aka God). Surely, a benevolent, All-Knowing God would be able to tell the difference between real love and false love, right? Maybe it’s a combination of the two. I don’t know. I’d still like to believe those who have NPD will be paid back somehow.

On the positive side, you can chose, as I did, to not be the victim once you realize what’s going on. During the period between this realization that I was with a very, very not-nice-at-all-person and the time he moved out, I treated him as if he were completely invisible. I did not speak to him or acknowledge his presence or existence unless absolutely necessary. It was a very uncomfortable few weeks. He got nothing from me. I put up the biggest, thickest emotional wall I could between the two of us. I admit, I smiled when I saw his pathetic post on Facebook during this time, “I think I know what if feels like to be a ghost.”

After he left, if he emailed me about things he’d left behind, he got the shortest possibly response. The freedom and joy I felt with his departure was intoxicating!! That is not to say I wasn’t emotionally hurt. My trust in others was shattered. It’s been almost five years now and I am happy to report that trust is coming back into my life slowly but surely. The wall is crumbling. I have a wonderful life filled with love, joy, and appreciation.

My hatred and rage has turned to pity. I feel sorry for that man. He’ll never know what REAL love and happiness feels like, ever. As for Karma and the Laws of Attraction, I have faith he will be rewarded in due time. When, by who or what or how it happens isn’t my concern. Enough of my time and negative energy was wasted on that man already. I have way too many positive, high vibes to share and enjoy with others and the universe. I intend to enjoy and appreciate every minute.