Growth and a sense of hope

The events of the past week have sunk me into the depths of despair. I have done what I personally could to help out..not only my Black sisters and brothers, but also to give myself some sense of being in control when the people in power seek to take that away from us. I’ve donated to causes, signed petitions, amplified Black voices on social media, and bought books from Black creators.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the organization I volunteer for, has put out a list of Black-owned bookstores that we can all frequent:

Black-Owned Bookstores

In my own little corner of the world, watching nature renew itself and grow, reaching with energetic optimism towards the sky also helps to calm and center me.

“What’s so funny about peas, love, and understanding?” indeed.
Using basil as perimeter defense because apparently nothing besides humans likes that stuff.
Our new asparagus bed!

Stay safe, stay sane, my friends. And hold onto hope.

A bit of sunshine, but no respite

More and more, I’m feeling the truth of this meme a friend shared on social media…

I told myself things will slow down once I was done organizing and running Illustrators Day for Indiana SCBWI. Nope.

I said, oh, things will slow down after the launch of my second book. Uh, yeah, no.

Then I told myself that things will slow down after I get a manuscript sent to the SCBWI Summer Spectacular and finish the Inked Voices critique session…hahaha! I’m very good at telling myself sweet little lies.

One of the few things that relieves this non-stop buildup of stress is staring at our fruit-bearing plants, especially on sunny days. Since it has finally warmed up (that is, the nights no longer dip into the single digits Celsius), we have brought all the citrus, avocado, and fig trees outside. They’re happy; I’m happy.

And once the plant-staring meditation time has passed, it’s back to freaking out that I’m not getting my writing done on time and fretting about SCBWI duties that are not being accomplished fast enough.

Glutton for punishment

That would be me.

Against my better judgement, I agreed to be the Illustrator Coordinator for the Indiana chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators last spring. I had volunteered for 18 years for homeschool organizations at the city and state level and vowed I would never, ever take on volunteer roles that lasted more than one or two days again.

But wait! It gets worse.

Through a series of unfortunate events (but not nearly as droll/funny or fictional), the Regional Advisor, the person who recruited me to be IC, took a sudden leave of absence (and eventually resigned). This left me and the Assistant RA scrambling to run this gin joint, sans gin–though I would have had lots of gin if my body could handle alcohol.

Then it got even worser…is that a word?

Because the role of RA was now vacant, HQ issued an open call for applications, and invited me and the ARA to apply (since we had been performing RA duties for a few months anyway). We reluctantly applied and only on the condition that we could continue to be co-RAs….because I despise dealing with finances and Diane would rather not have to deal with the website so we are a perfect match. We only agreed to apply out of a sense of duty to our region but secretly hoped that someone else more qualified would apply and get chosen. What can I say? I’m an eternal optimist at heart even though I’m a grumpy-a$$ in person.

The optimism was unfounded as we ended up being appointed co-RA.

Diane and I barely even knew each other prior to our assuming the roles of ARA and IC last June, but the dire circumstances forged a great friendship and together we work like well-oiled machinery. Sadly, we are now stuck in the cogs of said machinery for 3-5 years. Let’s hope we can survive these years without being covered in grease or ground to death by gears.

(No idea where the whole machine metaphor came from; I’m about as mechanically apt as a three-toed sloth.)

So if you see me in person, like the joke goes, and I’m blinking rapidly, it’s not because I have something in my eyes; it’s because I’m blinking “HELP ME!” in Morse code.

Birthday Thursday

Since it’s my birthday, I’m going to share some photos of me as a kid…back when I was cute…and call it a day. 😂

With dad…
and mom…
and my favorite sister!

AAPI Heritage Month 2020 post 2

For Asian/Pacific Islander American Heritage Month…

DEBtastic Reads!

HI again! Forgive me for not posting books daily as I have in the past for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month – I am on deadline – but I will post as often as I can.

Today I’d like to share some AAPI picture books I read recently and have loved.

Magic Ramen by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz

From the publisher: Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods.

Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following…

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Trying something new

I wasn’t doing it because of the quarantine. I actually started this back in December because it was cold and I wanted another pretty blanket because hubby kept taking the one my friend Elaine gave me.

This pattern is a terrific way to try out cable knitting. I’m pleased at the way it’s turning out.

Sadly, I am such a slow knitter (with too much going on competing for my time) that I’ve not made a ton of progress and it’ll likely be next winter by the time I finish this.

Still, isn’t it purty??

Seedlings, then and now

Just like human kids, seedlings grow up so fast. (Insert some dark, “The better to eat you with, my dear.” joke…hey, have I mentioned I write adult SFF?) These first few photos were taken on March 22nd.

And the next few are taken just about a month later on April 25.

When in doubt, throw in a bird

How did it get to be Thursday again? Because Thursday sneaked up on me and I had nothing prepared, I thought I would finally get around to sharing the photos of the Crested Caracara my blogging/Instagram friend Myr asked about. We took these photos back in 2014 when we went to Texas for Spring Break…ah, good times. This counts as Throwback Thursday, too!

“Did you get my good side, lady?”
“A bird can’t even eat in peace anymore…”
Doing its best Flashdance performance.

Throwback Thursday…with snakes

I was looking through our photos for something and came across these ones from 7 years ago when we relocated a timber rattlesnake. Don’t tell me we don’t know how to have a good time!

so there’s this beauty relaxing and minding its own business…but by our water garden, which is too close to our house
hubby swoops in to trap it in a cooler…that ain’t no picnic we’re having!
we went to the hilltop part of our property that adjoins state forest to release it
turns out the not-so-little fella took a liking to the cooler and had to be coaxed out slowly

Fun times was had by all! Did this remind you of any of your own cool memories?

Can we re-start the year?

Maybe that’s what I was hoping when I decided to make Stolle de Noel again.

It’s a bread I usually only make during the Christmas holidays as a special treat, but since I still had candied citrus peels in the freezer (I usually candy and then freeze a big batch when I do it), I decided I’d make another batch.

And maybe this magical bread will re-start the year and make it not so sucky?

rolling out the dough…homemade almost paste in the back
second rise

The neighbors were very happy to receive a delivery of this delicious bread!