Tag Archives: southwest

Swoosh! Kerplunk! Ping! Ahghhh!


 

The racket was driving me mad. Or, madder, I should say.

With every new Hootsuite, StumbleUpon, Branch Out, Pinterest, Triberr or LinkedIn tidbit shared by the multi-quadrillions, the sound increased. I covered my ears.

I yanked my hair until the roots (which needed a little color, I might add) ached.

My throat growls were more wild than civilized.

The noise reverberated in my wetware *brain* constantly.

What was it?

Swoosh! Kerplunk! Ping! Ahghhh!

Swoosh. The sound of a heavy rock hurling through the air.

Kerplunk. A rock falling dead to the ground.

Ping! A rock clipping the side, top or bottom of a target.

Ahghhh! Unhappy groan of a defeated rock thrower.

Ad infinitum.

What in the world am I talking about?

Indulge me.

Pretend you have a stack of rocks. The rocks represent:

DUTY,  EFFORT, TOIL.

Several yards in front of you are a row of targets. The targets are:

  • Writing bazillions of words. Making them brilliant, diverse, accurate, breathtakingly grand.
  • Flitting effortlessly through the columns of Twitter (Triberr, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Tweetle-Dee-Dum) and the pages of Facebook like the flawless social-media mavens we are.
  • Blogging like there’s no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow. And another blog to write. If we write it, will readers even bother to come?
  • Publicity, platform building, conferences, improving our craft, writing groups.
  • Everything else in life!!

STRUGGLES! FRUSTRATION! WAILS! That was the racket I heard from my fellow bloggers, writers, and social-media pursuers. And in my own mind…


Fear that perhaps not all the blood, sweat and tears in the world would be enough to get us where we needed/wanted to be in our writing worlds.

Fear morphed into resentmentresentment into the sting of realizing the days of blissful writing by the sea or in a quaint mountain cabin with no worries about platform, social media, Google Analytics, Dashboards, etc. etc. etc. were gone forevermore.

“I must do something!”

I cried out, scaring my three Standard poodles and two rescue cats. And maybe my houseplants.

“I will invent an elixir to free the masses from this endless target-missing guilt!”

My eyeballs did socket circles as I conceived a name for the elixir.

SQUEEZE – the perfect name.

Why? Because my elixir would literally squeeze thirty-six hours effort from a mere twelve-hour exertion!

“Do not follow me!” I hoarsely commanded my pet entourage, retreating to my lab. I vowed never to emerge until SQUEEZE was ready to market.

I tore off my clothes and dressed in sackcloth. I sat in ashes and scratched my boils.

Wait. Sorry. That was Job, the Patriarch from the Bible. I get us mixed up sometimes.

Actually, I happened to glance out the window. Birds jabbed their beaks into my winter lawn. A crisp blue sky with pillow clouds winked at me.

Inside, my kitchen twinkled like an old friend. My houseplants seemed two shades greener than usual.

 

Epiphany! 

I am in charge of ME!

Who said I had to turn out 2,000 words by evening? It was my own Sunday afternoon goal. I set it. I could break it, couldn’t I?

If I wanted to take weekends (or a day or an hour or two weeks) off and be a regular human being, I could!

I shook my fist in the direction of my home office…

Do you hear me, blogs yet unwritten?

Do you hear me, Work in Progress?

Do you hear me, computer, you greedy gateway to the social media universe?

I am the one in charge of my schedule…NOT YOU!

I think I must have passed out about then. When I came to, I was making potato soup, jalapeño cornbread and coconut pound cake. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with family (who sort of remembered who I was). We ate, talked and watched one of the very long Lord of the Rings movies. The best part – no guilt!

Takeaway

It’s hard to hit a target with a lopsided rock. Balance your life, and you’ll hit the important targets straight on.

How do you keep balance in your life? Please share. We’d love to hear about it!

Arrow

 
Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is her first novel. CANYON OF DOOM is her second novel in the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves series.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole


 

  • 2 large chicken breasts w/skin and bone
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbls. olive or canola oil
  • 1 can chopped green chilies
  • 1 sm. bottle of pimentos
  • ½ cup chopped black olives, optional
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup, undiluted
  • ½ lb. + 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, optional

Boil chicken breasts in a heavy pot with water, bay leaves, salt and pepper until done. Cool slightly. Cut and pull the meat into very small pieces, carefully removing all bones. Reserve 1 cup of the chicken broth. Sauté onion in oil. Don’t overcook. Add chicken broth, both cans of soup, green chilies, pimentos, black olives, Velveeta cubes and black pepper to taste. Stir over low heat until cheese melts. Butter a medium casserole dish. Line the bottom and sides with corn tortillas. Layer chicken pieces, shredded cheddar and cheese sauce. Add more tortillas and continue layering until all ingredients, except one cup of shredded cheddar cheese, are used. Finish with sauce. Cover top with remaining cheddar. Bake at 350-degrees until bubbly.

Comment:  My mother, Vivian Woods-Myrick has been making this casserole for almost as long as the Israelites wandered in the desert. Everyone thinks it’s yummy!

Comment:  Vivian suggests using a shallow glass pan for the casserole to distribute the heat better.

 

Arrow

 
Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is her first novel. CANYON OF DOOM is her second novel in the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves series.

Jodi’s Black-Eyed Peas


 

  • 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
  • Salt pork (1- or 2-inch piece)
  • 1 med. diced onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic pulp (don’t slice)
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • ¼ to ½ cup carrots cut into small chunks
  • ¼ bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies. For slightly spicy, use ORIGINAL. Otherwise, use MILD.
  • 4 cans chicken broth, or use water
  • 2 Tbls. chili powder
  • Black pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 cups cubed, cooked ham

Prepare black-eyed peas: Pour dried peas onto a flat surface. (Note: I use the kitchen table, using my hand to scrape the cleaned peas into a colander in my lap). Rinse under running water. Put into a heavy 6 qt. pot.

Add salt pork, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, bell pepper, can of Rotel and the broth or water. Add enough liquid to cover peas plus 2-4 inches of liquid above the peas, depending on how “soupy” you want them. They will swell somewhat as they cook, but not as much as pinto beans. Stir. Add chili powder, lots of black pepper, and start with 2 or 3 tsp. of salt. As the peas soften, taste and add salt as needed. Use less salt if using a chicken-broth base.

Bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat. Cover partially and simmer about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir and check often for desired softness. Don’t overcook. Add ham, heat through and serve. Delicious with corn bread. Happy New Year!

Arrow
Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you. Do you usually make black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day? I know it’s a Southern custom, so what do you make/bake/or serve in your part of the USA, or in your own country? We’d love to hear about it!

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM.  It will be available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers soon. If you love the Southwest and kooky characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The first book in the series, SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is available on my website, on Amazon, or can be ordered from Barnes and Noble.

While you’re here, why not get better acquainted? To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is her first novel. CANYON OF DOOM is her second novel in the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves series.

Mules Don’t Drool


 

Do Mules Rule?

Grand Canyon mules dressed and ready for work

Of Course! They were “the bomb” before tractors were invented. Especially for farmers who couldn’t afford farm equipment. Imagine trying to transform acres of rocky, tree-infested soil into bountiful crops without mules and their relatives!

Mules STILL RULE for many farmers of today. Especially with the Amish who, shunning contemporary machinery, depend on thousands of mules for plowing their fields.

Mules are the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. Inheriting the endurance of their donkey fathers, they are generally considered stronger than horses. They are faithful, hard-working animals asking only for food and water for survival.

John Wice, mule expert and rescuer, says mules are easy keepers. “They tend to be more sure- footed than horses, aren’t picky eaters, and are often good watch dogs over their own territory. They have a definite dislike for coyotes – they’ll run them off,” he says.

Wikipedia says mules are the animals of choice in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where at least sixteen commercial mule pack stations continue to operate.

When the going gets tough (steep, narrow trails),

precarious (carrying tourists in and out of the Grand Canyon),

or danged-near impossible (accessing/supplying mountain base camps)…

people need mules!

Are Mules Merely Beasts of Burden?

This may surprise you, but equine trainer and competitor Audrey Goldsmith and her six-year-old mule, Porter, enter English Dressage Classics all the time. As Porter racks up the ribbons, he and Goldsmith are changing opinions about mules everywhere they compete.

Goldsmith claims mules are extremely trainable and are as eager to please their owners as dogs. “They’re like rideable border collies,” she says. Further, they keep their heads better when they’re scared. Instead of running until they drop or their owner gets control, a mule will run a short distance and stop. He senses the danger is over, and he quits freaking out.

Sadly, mules are forbidden to compete in most hunter and jumper competitions. Chalk it up to old-fashioned paradigms and the fact that a few flighty horses really are terrified of mules.

Why do mules scare certain horses? Maybe it’s their longer ears flopping about like unattached carrots as they trot or run. Or perhaps some of the horses sense their owners’ sanctimonious attitude toward these so-called “lesser” equines.

The U.S. Dressage Federation is an exception to the rule. They allow mules to compete right along with the horses in Dressage.

Same rules. Same penalties. Same rewards. You know…fair and equal treatment.

But wait, there’s more…

Mules Barrel Racing

Besides gulping down Philly cheese steaks, hamburgers, onion blossoms, kettle corn or hot apple fritters at the annual Mule Mania event in Dayton, Washington, this July 18-21, you can watch mules in cattle events, barrel racing, English dressage, obstacle drives and even a Fast Ass Express Relay Race!

Washington isn’t the only state in love with these hybrids. California, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Tennessee and many other states have their own Mule Days celebrations.

Mule Days started in 1840 in Columbia, Tennessee. In fact, Columbia claims to be “The Mule Capital” of the world. Their mule celebration is a four-day event attracting more than 200,000 people.

(l-r) Vivian Myrick, Red Myrick

My late step-dad, Red Myrick, a distinguished equestrian, trained two miniature mules for bird- hunting trips. Those little sure-footed cuties walked behind him and my mom in the field as quiet and humble as could be. When my parents stopped, the mules stopped, too. When they started walking, their mules did too.

Red sure liked his mules, except for the time he had a couple white ones hitched to a small work cart and they took off running. One took the right side of an oak tree, and the other chose the left side. Using the control of a fighter pilot on a war mission, Mom suppressed her laughter until she was sure 1) Red was alive and didn’t need paramedics, and 2) she was safely locked away in her own bathroom. Then she let the snickers rip.

To this day, she can’t tell that story without hee-hawing!

I’ll be sharing more mule facts and stories in future blogs. It’s my small way of extolling the virtues of these fine, worthy animals.

I think they deserve it.

Do you own a mule, donkey or burro? Tell us about it!

 

Arrow
Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is her first novel. CANYON OF DOOM is her second novel in the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves series.

Ya’at’eeh and Howdy! Sure nice of you to stop by…


Since this is the first blog of the rest of my life…

…can we pretend we just met at a backyard barbeque and we’re hugging a couple of those aluminum chairs crisscrossed in greenish-blue nylon straps and we’re small talking to get to know each other?

What’s that? You don’t like the heat? All right, hon. Get yourself up and follow me—we’re going inside. Have a seat on that big ‘ol fluffy sofa and make yourself at home. I’ll go get us some tea.

Do you want Navajo tea, Sassafras tea, Sweet tea or Texas-style tea?

Dark or light?

Hot or cold?

Cup or glass?

Real sugar or sweetener?

A little cinnamon?

Cream?

Dash of chocolate?

Now isn’t that funny? I just reminded myself of why I’ve started this blog. Did you know life is like a 16th Century English Sampler?

A few hundred years ago, Samplers were greatly treasured for their different needlecraft styles and the mixture of threads used in creating elaborate art with needles. Women spent a lifetime collecting stitch examples and patterns.

What does that have to do with a blog? Well, a blog, unless it’s about a specific subject like writing or pickling beets or whatnot, can be a sampling—or collection—of one’s life journey.

Recently, I had an epiphany. I could write novels (fiction) and write a blog (non-fiction) from the Sampler of my Life – thus satisfying both sides of my little brain. That way, my life would continue gathering illustrious EMBROIDERED stitches not only from my own adventures, but also from experiences my readers share with me.

Who am I, and why am I talking?

Ten-second tour: I grew up on an Arizona ranch with an Okie mom, brothers, cowboys, Angus and Hereford cattle, horses, chickens, and an eclectic mix of Native American and Hispanic friends. I fell in love with everything southwest and southern, and I weave those elements into every facet of my life.

If we share blog time together, what will we talk about?

Since I grew up next door to the Navajos, I like sharing interesting things about their culture, art and sense of humor. We’ll talk about country topics too, everything from windmills to fried okra to Buck Brannaman.  Then there’s stuff like crazy cakes, king snakes, growing jewelry and Spanish treasures. It’s all southwest and southern – a literal gold mine of sparklers waiting for us to explore.

Speaking of gold mines – you’ve heard the ghost stories about the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine in the Superstition Mountains, haven’t you? Spooky! We’ll dig into some of the best lore about it one of these days.

So back to my earlier offer of tea…what’s your favorite kind? Do you know which soft drink used to have sassafras root tea in it?

Hang out with me and you’ll find out why my granddad made us all drink sassafras tea in the spring and about his personal cure for snakebite. Works, too. Saved my mom’s life when she was five years old.

So…come back often. We’ll put the little pot in the big pot, brew up some coffee or tea and have ourselves a grand ole time!

 

Arrow

 

 

Of course, a visit isn’t a visit without a two-way conversation. I really want to hear from you.

I truly hope you’ll pick up a copy of my novel Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT. The print version is on sale at Amazon for only $9.85!!! For your convenience, it’s also available for Kindle, the Nook and for most other eBook readers. If you love the Southwest and kooky little characters that make you laugh aloud as authentic danger and mystery swirl at every turn, you’ll love this novel! The second book in the series, CANYON OF DOOM, debuts in early 2013.

While you’re here, please have a look around my website. To sign up to receive notices of my new blogs, recipes, appearances and media news, just leave your email address above. I’ll take care of the rest. Y’all come back soon…I miss you already!

 

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is her first novel. CANYON OF DOOM is her second novel in the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves series.