Pindo Palm Jelly! Almost…

pindojellyI did it–I cooked a big batch of pindo fruit down into juice and turned that into jelly! Or, well, runny jelly. It didn’t solidify, or gel, quite enough. But the runny jelly works fine as a sauce for veggies or fish, and will be lovely over yogurt or ice cream.

I immediately tried it out, and it worked like a charm. Pindo jelly sweetened the sweet potato puree, giving it a tropical touch, and made a beautiful simmer sauce for tilapia.

The flavor is unique and lovely–somewhere in the vicinity of peach, mango and apricot, but with banana notes and maybe some pineapple-y-ness, and some wee effervescence of coconut. Delicious! If you get the opportunity to try some, I suggest you do.

Now I need to come up with ways to use this bounty. Hmmm, how about pindo ice cream…?

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Another First!

This is pretty exciting: my first Lois Tilton/Locus review! It’s for Putting Down Roots, my story in LCRW #33–the print version of which is now available. I’m relieved to say she certainly didn’t dislike my story, and so I’ve come out pretty much unscathed (whew! Although getting a bad review from Lois is, I think, a rite of passage, it’s one I’m willing to forgo awhile). Also, the final story in this month’s edition,The March Wind by Eric Gregory, gets a “recommended,” which is pure awesomeness.

Due to my travels, this “news” is terribly late, but…if you were at Readercon, you may have stumbled upon a group reading by the LCRW #33 guest editor and selected attending authors. I heard it was well-received, and I applaud Michael J. DeLuca for organizing this (and I wish I could have attended).

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Of Pindo Palms and Golden Dogs


Pindo Palm


Ripening fruits

There are two pindo palms in my yard. They are also known as “jelly palms” because in the past folks made jelly from the pectin-rich yellow-orange fruits. These palms bear lots of fruit on a flowering  inflorescence, and because I have two of them, and because I like making jelly, I’m giving pindo palm jelly a go (using the recipe on that second link).

Today I pitted and cooked about 2.5 cups of pindo fruit in water to make juice. There will be more fruit ripening soon, and I’ll wait until then to cook a batch of jelly from it. Once I do, I’ll post pictures and let you know how it goes. With luck, it will taste “like the tropics,” as one site claimed.

Dasher’s medical concerns are still a big thing. He blew out his second surgery when 2 separate aggressive dogs charged him in three days, and he retreated from both in a big hurry. sigh. Instead of us charging into Surgery #3, I requested physical therapy for him, to increase his atrophied muscles, and wow, has that ever been successful! His muscles are noticeably larger, and he’s starting to bear weight on his “bad” back leg. And, even better, his patella is moving up and into position as the muscles and tendons tighten and strengthen. We may just avoid another patella surgery after all!

The face of the Golden Dog?

The face of the Golden Dog?

Part of his “at home” exercise has been swimming, which he absolutely loves. I never thought he’d be a “jump into the deep water like a Labrador” kind of dog, but he totally is now. He even dives in head-first to get those toys below the surface!

Then he slipped on the wet concrete, and landed on his shoulder. Of course, he bruised his muscles and limped a few days, but seemed to be getting better. When we returned from our trip, however, his limp had increased.

At first, the vets thought it was simply a case of his walking funny to accommodate his injured rear leg for so long, which was straining his shoulder. Once his rear leg healed, his shoulder injury would go away too. What a relief.

Now, however, the theory is that he just might have shoulder dysplasia. That’s like hip dysplasia–where the hip bone is deteriorating–but in his front shoulders. Both of them. If so, it would eventually require–you guessed it–surgery.

See that pile over there? That’s me in a quivering mass of denial and mental anguish at just the thought of more surgeries on this poor, poor dog!

This got me thinking that, besides being a medical mess, poor Dasher is the dog literally worth his weight in gold. But is he? Well, I tallied it up yesterday, and he’s (fortunately) falling short, for now. I’m not sure what the total of his bills is, but to be worth his weight in gold as of yesterday, we’d have to had spent $540,560 on him. We are nowhere near that, thank all that’s good.

We are, though, extremely thankful for the pet insurance we got with him, and that we continued paying into once it became apparent he’d need surgery (during our free month’s trial). Trupanion has paid 90% of his seizure expenses (after initial deductible), and 90% of his two surgeries for his patella to date (after that deductible). This is quite a chunk of cash, let me tell you! And they will continue to do so for the rest of his life.

I kind of laughed at the thought of pet insurance when we got Dasher. After all, he’s a dog–a puppy, even! But it was free for the first month, so I shrugged and signed up. And now, wow. My dog, unfortunately, is the poster child for why you should really do this if you can. We did, and I am so glad.

I get that not everyone can afford pet insurance. I also understand that for a healthy dog, it might not pay off in the long run. I sure hope that our next dog doesn’t ever come close to covering his/her monthly co-payments. But I am going to get it if I can, that’s for sure.

That’s it in a nutshell here. Dog and palms and carrying on with life as we know it. As the Queen would say, Keep Calm and Write On.

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LCRW #33 is now available!

I’ve been quiet for awhile, because I’ve just returned from visiting some friends in Germany, and wow! It was warm there! Like, crazy-warm. After they had such a long, cool spring, it seems like we took central Florida weather along with us.

It was nice to be back in Germany, and to speak German again (mine had gotten quite rusty) and hear it around me. To see old stones and new architecture mingling and merging into a city, or a neighborhood. Or more like the gentle, respectful rubbing of shoulders of the generations, each lovely and unique, and yet best as part of a conversation that creates a greater, complex society. (I may post some pictures later, as time allows.)

While I was gone, some exciting things happened:

I’m very excited to announce that the Michael J. DeLuca guest-edited edition of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is now available for purchase–especially because I’m one the included authors. Putting Down Roots is my included story, and I’m very pleased to be included in this amazing lineup!

Putting Down Roots started as a prompt to write a story with a format other than traditional narrative prose. I had never attempted this before. It was a challenge, and fun, to write an SF story into one side of a conversation. Also, I’d been reading about research into trees and the fact that they do communicate…and here came this story.

I found this entire issue to be amazing. I hope you do as well.

Also, my story The Giveaway Box was accepted at Abyss & Apex, and should be appearing there in October! Hurray! This one is contemporary fantasy with a light speculative element.

I hope your July (July already! Ack!) is going well. And now, I’m back to catching up on all the things that fell behind while I was away. (You guessed it: laundry, cutting grass, weeding, etc.)


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Enter Title Here

^^ That prompt in my title bar seemed as likely a title as any. As is so often the case of late, life seems somewhat fractured into odd bits, that, strung together, compose my life. Let’s go over some.

Dasher. Well, his “final” appointment after the second surgery was Tuesday, but I already knew the outcome. He’d been charged by 2 larger, aggressive dogs in three days, and both times he’d retreated backwards and sideways precipitously, yiping in pain. On the morning following the second charge, he started gimping about three-legged once more. Verdict: patella out of alignment, flowing out freely and not remaining in position. Sigh. Now we’re trying some physical therapy, hoping that by increasing muscle mass on his emaciated rear left leg, he might increase muscle and tendon tension enough to hold the patella in place (once it’s put there again), or at the very least, that it will give another, more extreme surgery a better chance of holding, post-surgery.

Still, he’s a tail-wagging kind of boy. His at-home therapies include: walking over water noodles, walking backwards in a straight line, alternating sits and stands, and holding up his “good” rear leg for a few seconds, forcing him to carry weight on the weaker leg. At the UF vet school hospital, he gets an underwater treadmill. You know how walking with your legs in shallow water drags, slowing you down and forcing you to work harder? Same idea here. Only his legs are in the water, so he works harder to walk, strengthening his muscles.

While all these things they can do for animals are really cool (I got a tiny tour “backstage” to glimpse some of what they can accomplish–it was pretty amazing, let me tell you!), I certainly wish I wasn’t needing to know anything about it, and that my dog hadn’t needed the first surgery, let alone a potential third one! C’est la vie.

The proof copy of next month’s Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet came. It was so amazing, looking at this gorgeous layout, reading the table of contents and seeing my name and my story there.  I found the Editor’s Letter lovely and moving. It really highlighted my the feelings of being overwhelmed at being a part of something so wonderful. Huzzah!

Editing and Submitting. Yes, I’ve been plugging away at this, and yesterday managed to submit two more stories into the world, where they now wait patiently in their queues. (Oddly enough, both stories are SF and both titles start with “D.” For reasons unknown, this amuses me.) This brings my current submissions to 8, and leaves four stories in my “second round” editing pile, and four in the “first round” editing pile. Not bad, not bad. But regardless, my inner slave-driver tells me that, however much I work, it’s never “enough,” that I have plenty of time that I fritter away. Sigh. Brains: Can’t live without ’em, much as I’d like to sometimes.

Novella series. I’m currently working on the outline for the third (and I think final) volume of the urban fantasy series I plan on writing and self-pubbing. But…I’ve hit some kind of mental snag. I can’t seem to get past a certain point, which also happened with Book Two’s outline. Eventually, it came to me, so I’m confident I’ll overcome whatever mental barrier is halting me here, as well. But it would be really nice if it came sooner, rather than later (hint, hint, subconscious mind!).

Guests and travel. My sisters are arriving for a visit on Monday, and I’m preparing for that. Also, Spousal Unit and I will be visiting friends and former neighbors soon, and I’m looking forward to that. Ah, the chaos of travel balanced against the joy of travel. But travel usually wins over staying home–for me, at least.

Heat. Yes, it’s been hot lately. And humid. And dry. The rain has gone mostly around us, except for a few hot, flat splats four days ago as I spoke to a neighbor, and a sudden short burst of rainfall Friday, which quickly was evaporated off the sizzling hot roadways, sidewalks, and rooftops. At least the plants got a quick shot of relief. (Not enough, though. My potted plants still needed watering twice that day.) How hot? We’ve had 100°F on the weather app, and the car I was in, after driving some while and coming to stasis, registered 104°F. Guh! I love going barefoot, but let me just say that at these temps, concrete and/or blacktop in the sun actually burns my tough feet. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Watermelon. Watermelon is in full, glorious season here. It’s utterly amazing. So succulent and sweet. It’s what’s for dinner when it’s too hot to think. And Dasher thinks watermelon is pretty tasty, too.

And there you go. Some relevant bits of my life, along with some not-so-relevant bits for good measure. Happy Sunday to you!

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And so it goes…

With the Unending Novel’s first draft completed, I feel strangely light and liberated. Also, more than a little aimless. This is despite having concrete goals in place for my “non-novel-writing time” between the first draft and starting the first revision.

What goals? To re-cap, edit short stories (I had 10 of them in a queue, waiting for revisions before their first submissions), finish taking 2 online classes over at Holly Lisle’s website, and finish the planning on a series of novellas that I plan to write and self-publish. In non-writing, to catch up with all the things that I’ve let slide during the push to finish the first draft.

Well, I’ve edited five of the stories to a near-ready state. And I’ve taken classes, just not as often as I’d like. The dog has been demanding more and more attention when I’m home, acting like the obnoxious all-about-me teenager that he is right now. And doing non-writing chores eats into time that I’d normally use for writing, and I can’t make it up with “dog” time. Add to this a week of solo time with Dasher the dog while the spousal unit was on a business trip, which made the dog and I rather sick of each other’s company (ugh!).

So…despite making actual progress on my goals, I’m feeling very adrift. As if I have nothing to show for my writing time. As if I’m being defined by writing on the novel. Which is so odd, since for the longest while, I felt vaguely guilty writing the novel and not short stories. Oh, how my brain delights in flummoxing and annoying me (and, I suspect, most writers)!

In the interim, I’ve been reading some interesting things. The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker, is a lovely story about (strangely enough!) a golem and a jinni, both of whom end up on American shores in the late 1880’s. I’m not finished with it yet, but it’s engaging, with much loveliness in tone and telling.


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Writer’s Desk, 6/3

I’ve got nothing else exciting going on, so here: look at my desk!

Out the window: A vivid aquamarine sky with white puffs of clouds. Palms swaying in the gentle breeze, and a hummingbird getting annoyed by my motions. Why can’t I just hold still and let her (no red throat) feed?

On the desktop: A mug of water, as usual. Sen Cha Green Tea Mints (gluten free!). And a really terrible sugar cookie with “key lime” icing. So sweet! So bland. But I’m eating it. (sigh)

Today’s Work-in-Progess: Editing short stories, written during the novel’s first draft and then left to languish, into something resembling submittable forms. Today I’m focusing on two, both of which started life as flash fiction, and only one of which will remain flash (maybe). The other will be closer to 2,000 words. I love them both.

One is SF, the other fantasy. I love both sub-genres within spec fic, and can’t stick to just one. I’m still not sure if this is a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing that will have no bearing on anything. I’ll let you know when (if) I find out.

During this year so far, I’ve written (but not edited to submittable) ten short stories. My goal is 12 edited and submitted. I also finished the novel, am planning the short novel series that I’m hoping to begin writing later this year, and will start editing the novel in late July or August. So, while it sounds like I’m so far ahead and how amazing is that, really, I’ll barely have time to get it all done if I don’t get my tail in gear.

I realize that I really missed getting short stories out for submission during the novel’s writing. Finalizing a short story and sending it out for beta, and then onto submission rounds, feels like “instant accomplishment.” Writing a novel? Delayed gratification. Neither is better, but I think I need a balance of the two to prevent myself from getting too ansty. Next time, I’ll do better. I promise.

And Another Couple of Things:  Dasher’s swimming has progressed to the point where he sometimes goes in for a swim just because he can. Or because it’s hot and he wants to cool off. And he swims like a champ, not a rock. Sometimes he launches himself off the step, chasing the frisbee with such enthusiastic force that he makes a wave, and leaves a wake. (Insert proud dog-mom face here)

Also, the garden is going gangbusters. Tomatoes like…um, delicious ripe tomatoes. And more basil than I can keep up with. I’ve already frozen some pesto for when it all goes limp and gives up (sometime in August?).  At the farmers’ market, there are eggplants to make you weep. Can you say “eggplant parmesan?” Yum.

Which brings me to dinner. Off I go. Happy June, everyone!

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“Blue Flame” Now Live at Saturday Night Reader

There you have it. Today, “Blue Flame Burns the Hottest” goes live at Saturday Night Reader. It’s a soft and sweet near-future SF flash tale about families, and tech, and growing together instead of apart. It deals with a woman growing actually wiser as she grows older, even though it’s hard.

The working title was the none-too-pleasant “Grannie’s VR.” Still, it encapsulated the dichotomy of the story I wanted to tell–Grandma: old-fashioned and supposedly out of touch, with VR: modern, shiny, & futuristic.

Some of this comes from the sense I have, as I grow older, of feeling out-of-date to my lively, pre- and early-teen great-nieces and great-nephews. (Hey, no judging here! I’ve been a great-aunt since college! It just means I’m great!) How much more so will this be when home tech takes another momentous leap forward, and I’m not on that wave? When, like my mother-in-law with the TV remote (or my own long-gone grandmother with the automobile), I’ll need help figuring out all this new-fangled stuff? And what great things will come along with it?

I’m all for a virtual immersive experience–how cool would that be? It could change so much: gaming, work, study and research, even travel. But as with Caroline in the story, I would still want some in-person face time to keep familial connections strong, and actual in a world going virtual. Old-fashioned? Maybe. But I think it makes a neat story, too.


Edited to add: Well, that’s a little embarrassing! I set this post to automatically post itself at 8:30 this morning, and didn’t get around to checking my email/online life until nearly noon. (Yes, I’m keeping holiday hours today!) Only then did I discover that my story isn’t up yet. Perhaps SNR forgot about the holiday they scheduled my story? Or it’ll post later in the day? Well, whatever the case, I’m leaving this post for when it does go live. As they say, better early than late…???

Further edited to add: Weee! Now it’s up! Go forth and read…please?

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