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Tigress by Ellen Tsagaris
This is a story of Jack the Ripper with at Twist!

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Ellen Tsagaris' The Bathory Chronicles; Vol. I Defiled is My Name
This is the first of a trilogy retelling the true story of the infamous countess as a youn adult novel. History is not always what it seems.

Wild Horse Runs Free

Wild Horse Runs Free
A Historical Novel by Ellen Tsagaris

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Bean Soup, Marrow Bone Soup, Sylvia Plath Disease and Wally World

Green Blog Aug. 28;

Here are again, nearly full circle. In late August, there are leaves turning red, and the stores begin to fill with the artifacts of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas.
It is also for many of us seasonal allergy hell, and I myself admit to being a victim this past week of bad sinusitis, or “Sylvia Plath’s Disease” as I call it, since the poet suffered from it more than anyone else I’ve ever known or read about.

I was forced to phone a doctor, something I never do. But, nothing would work, I had the joy of being treated like am imbecile by the teen-something clerks who work in our various grocery stores and pharmacies. One was amazing; the blue streaks in her hair matched her blue eye shadow, matched the blue rhinestone brooch pinned to her uniform, matched her blue nail polish. She was a vision in blue and white, a Delft figurine or a Blue Willow plate animated. I’ve been using ATMs since before she was born, and debit and credit cards, yet, here she was showing me how to punch in my numbers. That Leap Frog has created monsters.

Don’t even start me on my Walmart adventures, fever and all. I stood and than sat and waited for about half an hour, with everyone at home mad at me for being late. The doctor insisted on faxing in the prescription for the Z-pack, not giving it to me, and it was my debut at Wally World. And, my last performance. It through there system. I was directed back and forth by Shirl, who paused to visit her boyfriend, organize lunch, help a very nice older lady with a knee brace that still was not the right size, well, you get it.

Finally, after they all forgot about me, I was told they were “filling” my prescription. Since it comes packaged and filled, I have no idea what they meant. Just as I had know idea what the first W pharmacist meant when he told me that “my prescription was here, but in trouble.” Trouble? How? Did not pay a tax? Did it not look both ways before crossing the street? I was flabbergasted, and sick, and I had to go to work the next two days.

I’m still dragging, and something is causing me the worst heartburn ever. Well, I don’t feel like overeating, a good sign.

Take comfort in the leaves, and the late flowers, and the tomatoes ripening on the vine, and my bottle gourds that are in amazing form, and promise and excellent harvest of craft projects.

Here are some recipe tips and ideas:

For red velvet Halloween cupcakes, my student Cassie likes to scatter crystallized sugar over the frosting to imitate “broken glass.”

Easy white bean soup; my mom’s recipe: Combine 12 0z, canned, or fresh-soaked navy beans or butter beans. You can use any beans, but black beans are sort of rich for this recipe. Add one 6 oz can tomato sauce. Add about half the can or 3 oz water. Throw in chopped onions, any kind, and celery. Add one 12 0z can chicken broth or vegetable broth, canned or homemade. Bring all to a boil. Lower to a simmer, and take care that you add water a little at a time to keep it from burning. Salt and pepper it to taste. Simmer about 20 minutes. Serve with salad and homemade bread.

If you add rice and no beans, and cook it the twenty minutes or so it takes to cook the rice, you have a nice pilaf. If you add Spinach, usually drained canned or frozen, but fresh works, you have a classic Greek soup.

If you cook a piece of pork in the broth with no beans, add big pieces of celery, and then some lemon, beat the whites of about six eggs and fold it into the cooling mixture. You have a classic Greek celery and pork dish.

Bone Marrow soup:

Combine beef marrow bones, one 12 0z can chicken or beef broth, one 6 oz can tomato sauce, chopped onions, salt and pepper to taste, and maybe 1/8 c. beer or white wine. Let it all simmer, taking care not to let the mixture burn. Bring to a boil and simmer as with bean soup. You may add vegetables to this. Once it is a rolling boil, and the bones have begun to brown, add about 1 c of orzo, or other types of bow tie, fusili, elbow macaroni, angel hair, or chopped up noodles and spaghetti. Cook till the pasta is done to your liking. Serve hot with bread and salad.

These are not recipes she actually wrote down; they are memories I have of helping her and watching her cook. These are the best ways I remember her, and when I feel her standing beside me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Recipes

Sandwich Loaf

1 8 oz tub whipped Philadelphia cream cheese or other brand. You may use an 8 oz block, but you must soften it at room temperature and thin it with about 1 TBSP milk.

One loaf bread, preferably day old, crust removed.

Butter

Mayonnaise

Sliced Green olives, sun flower seeds, parsley leaves or other olives

Sandwich fillings, egg salad, tuna salad, pimento cheese salad, ham salad, chicken salad.

Slice an uncut loaf of white sandwich bread horizontally, making three or 4 long slices ¾ inch thick. Remove crusts. Spread each slice with reamed butter and stiff mayonnaise, then each with a different chopped salad or sandwich mixture. Chicken, shrimp, salmon, eggs, sardine, cheese, or ham may be used. Stack and cover the top and sides with soft cream cheese, garnish with flowers of colored cream cheese, paprika, parsley, sliced olives or sun flower seeds. Chill about one to two hours then slice and serve. Great with iced tea.

Ellen Tsagaris from her mom, Mrs. Clara A. Tsagaris and The American Woman’s Cookbook.


Flan or Cuban Custard

Heat ¼ to ¾ cups white sugar in the bottom of loaf pan till melted and brown. Swirl to cover bottom and sides of pan. In blender or with a beater mix one can sweetened condensed mil, one can evaporated milk or whole milk, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. vanilla, 4 eggs, and a pinch of salt. Pour into loaf pan. Set pan into one inch water and bake one to one and one half hours at 350 degrees until brown on top. Cool, put in fridge before serving and chill. May be served with fruit or toasted almonds, or flamed with brandy.

Ellen Tsagaris from her Spanish Teacher, Dr. Disnarda Norniella, Professor Emeritus Augustana College.

Black Beans

1 one pound package black beans, black turtle beans, or one 12 oz can black beans.
1 ½ green bell peppers
2 large cloves garlic finely minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tblsp oil or rendered pork fat
½ Spanish cooking wine, vino secco, or dry white wine
1 TBSP vinegar
1TBSP sugar
1 bay leaf crumbled
2 tsp oregano 1 TBSP salt
Black pepper

Soak beans in eight cubs of cold water with half green pepper for at least two hours until beans have swelled. I have had to soak them one or tow nights, changing water. Beans must be able to be mashed with fork. Or, skip this step and use one can of black beans.

To make a sofrito: sauté garlic, onion and green pepper, finely chopped, in hot oil or fat until onion has turned soft and yellow. Add one cup of boiled beans or canned beans to sofrito. Mash together with sofrito and then pour completed sofrito back into the rest of the beans mixing well.

Add remaining ingredients to beans, mix, and bring to boil. Reduce heat as low as possible and cook, covered for one and one half to two hours, till beans have a mushy texture. Remove cover and boil away any water that remains. There should be no broth. Makes six to 8 servings, is great served over cooked, white rice. If you mix it with rice, it is called frijoles con gris. You may substitute kidney beans for black beans.

Ellen Tsagaris from her Spanish teacher, Dr. Disnarda Norniella,
Professor Emeritus, Augustana College.


Baklava

1 lb. sweet butter, melted
1lb. filo
1 or 2 lbs. chopped almonds or walnuts
2/3 c sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. all spice
3 dozen whole cloves

Syrup for baklava

2 c. honey
2 c. water
2 c. sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. granted orange peel
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients. For syrup, in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, simmer ten minutes, strain, allow to cool.

Coarsely grind/chop nuts. Mix with cinnamon, all spice, sugar.

Brush a 9 x 13 x 2” pan with melted butter. Lay a sheet of filo in pan, brush, cover with filo, repeat for one dozen sheets.

Spread on thin layer of mix on tops f filo etc., and repeat.

Cut strips 2” wide.

Brush each sheet with butter. With a very sharp knife, cut the top filo sheets into triangles, cutting diagonally across the pan.

Insert a clove in the center in each triangle.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour to one and one-half hours. Baklava should be brown on top. Remove.

Pour cooked syrup over so it covers layers; syrup will seep in. Allow to cool several hours before cooling.

Ellen Tsagaris from her mother Mrs. Clara Tsagaris and her grandmother Mrs. Maria Fanakos.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.

Sift 1 ½ c sifted lour
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp salt.

Blend 1/c shortening
½ brown sugar, cream these together and add 1/c granulated sugar.

To the creamed mixture add one beaten egg and 1 tsp. vanilla. Add 8 oz semi sweet chocolate pieces and ½ c chopped walnut pieces. Add creamed mixture with chocolate and nuts to dry ingredients. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Ellen Tsagaris from Mrs. Schultz 8th grade Home Ec class, Washington Junior High, Rock Island, IL.


Corn Muffins

½ c shortening
1/3 c sugar
1 beaten egg
1 ¼ c milk
1 c flour
½ tsp salt
4 tsps. Baking powder
1 c corn meal

Cream shortening and sugar, add egg and mil, add flour, sifted with salt and baking powder. Add corn meal, stirring only enough o mix. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 c. full, and bake in hot oven, 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes one dozen muffins.

Ellen Tsagaris

White Cake

Bake at 400 degrees fro 20-30 minutes.

Cream ½ c shortening and 1 ½ c sugar. Add 2 ¼ c cake flour and 2 1 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt. Sift together cry ingredients, first. Add 1 c milk and 1 tsp. vanilla and three stiffly beaten egg whites.

Ellen Tsagaris

Coca Cola Cake

1 chocolate cake mix.

Follow directions, but instead of adding required amount of water to the mix, add coca cola or other cola like RC cola or Pepsi. Bake according to directions.

Frosting: Use prepared chocolate frosting, or make from scratch, but add ¼ to ½ tsp. grated orange peel to frosting and mix in before you frost the cake.

Ellen Tsagaris



Hellenic Green Beans

One pound fresh green beans, ends snapped, or one lb. frozen green beans

1 6 oz can tomato sauce or canned tomatoes

Oregano and Basil to taste; dry works very well

One small onion

Olive oil or cooking oil

Water, about one cup
Sauté chopped onion in oil until it is almost clear. You may want to add a clove of garlic, but you do not have to. I like to sauté in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other large covered pan. Add tomato sauce, add spices. Let cook on simmer about ten minutes. Add Green beans, and add enough water to cover. Cook on medium heat, but watch the beans. Let the water cook down. You can include chicken and cook it with the beans, or you can add a marrow bone for flavor. Green peas, frozen, work just as well.


Ellen Tsagaris, from her mother Mrs. Clara Tsagaris



Greek Peasant Salad a la Tsagaris/ Fanakos Families

2- 3 large, ripe tomatoes
One small onion
About ½ c Kalamata olives or other olives; a mix of these, black olives, and green olives is nice

Sliced, peeled cucumbers

One jar stuffed egg plants, if available

Feta cheese, cut in chunks, about ¾ c
Kasseri, Mdzithra, kefalotiri, or Romano cheese, about ¾ c cut in chunks
Small can anchovies with capers, optional

Basil, oregano, salt pepper, to taste

Chop tomatoes, include seeds, combine with all other ingredients, toss and chill. Add about 2/4 c olive oil, enough to mix in tomato seeds, and to be able to dip in bread. Chill about one hour. Serve with crusty, fresh bread or rolls. Good French bread or Italian bread works well, or else Challah or Greek sesame bread. Pieces of fresh ricotta also are good in this classic salad.

Ellen Tsagaris

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Late August Night

It has been a full moon week, and everything is as, well, loonie, as it can be. I saw a baby mantis this week, outside a Japanese buffet. A sushi fan like me? Have they become my totem? My friend asked if she had eaten her boyfriend, yet. She looked like she was still on mantis Gerber foods to me.

Living Lands and Waters held their annual barge party, with a display of what comes out of the river, followed by a massive clean up. I don't get the full grown trees and bushes pulled out, let alone the appliances; wouldn't it be a chore to haul them out there and sink them, all evironmental issues notwithstanding? My friend Luci the cat is lying on my books next to me, all fluffy, black,and Maine coon cat of her, and my friend Nellie the white lab is cruising the floor; we are at their mom's house, working away.

We have cool nights and low humidity, and Halloween candy, and the pricier Halloween decorations are beginning to appear. Here and there, I smell woodsmoke, and I think Autumn is coming again. We've been doing this blog more than a year.

We still have flowers, and my pumpking plants are coming up, along with a glorious red begonia that is thriving. It reminds me of one my mother had for years and years, so long, that I thought she was my sibling.

School is in session, and here and there, I see a Christmas ornament popping up.How I hate to see the summer end, how I worry about the little birds. I have a friend who wants to get rid of all sparrows because they are not indigenous to this area, but I love them. I remember feeding fries to one in Disneyland, "here, Boy," we called, and he too, one out of my hand.

More newsletters, tips, green ideas to come. I'm glad to see local coffee places engaging in fair trade for their coffees, and installing recycling cxontainers with posters explaining how to use them. I continue to recycle at work, and have to note again, that yard salers and junkers, even dumpster divers, are the ultimate reusers and recyclers. More later, and live green!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Praying Mantis; Queen of Bugs!

I saw a magnificent praying mantis today; she was about seven inches long, and very alert, looking straight at me and waving her head. She was all green, and beautiful. I have to think of Annie Dillard that the business of the praying mantis is to bite off heads. If my photos come out, I will post them. It's been a stellar summer for rare insect views. Someone said today I must be the Queen of Bugs.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Plolyphemus Moth

I found one of these little guys stumbling around on the pavement of our parking lot Friday, staggering as if he were drunk. He couldn't seem to fly very far, so I took him in my office in a basket. He had a capful of water, an apple, a dead cricket and some grass. He was quiet for hours, clinging to the wicker side. I covered the basket with a half sheet of paper, and he started to stir, and flew out at one point. I took him outside, and clung to the skirt of my organdy dress part of the way. He still couldn't fly well, so I put him on the seat of a picnic table, in the shade secluded and surrounded by three walls. No one knew I had him. Had he died, I would have mounted him, I admit, but I wanted him to live. After about an hour or so, I checked on him; he was still liting on the bench. So, I put him a a shoe box with holes, and he was trying to fly out. After I looked him up and discovered he was nocturnal, liked pins, black elder, black willow, and Virignia pine, a friend and I took him to the trees at the edge of our lot, part of an apartment complex. We opened the box lid and he flew out, lighting on a bush we directed him to. He was fine; we watched him a while then left.

I felt a little sad, and I miss him, but he is happy. When I was little, I loved keeping temporary pets of grasshoppers and caterpillars, but they always left their glass jar hotels with holes in the lid at the end of the day. A friend and I also watched a magnificent spider, black with bright yellow markings, build a web on our school fence. We called her Charlotte.

The groundhog continues to do well; he has learned to crawl through the drainpipe under the highway to cross the street. Very smart little guy. Enjoy the dog days of summer; till later.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Writing World August

W R I T I N G W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World

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Issue 11:15 12,752 subscribers August 4, 2011
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THE EDITOR'S DESK: Grasping for Pennies, by Moira Allen
THE INQUIRING WRITER: Content Writing, by Dawn Copeman
NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING
FEATURE: Writing to Pay the Bills, by Audrey Faye Henderson
COLUMN: Free Stuff for Writers: Going Digital, by Aline Lechaye
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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---> http://wwx.Writing.Com/ <--- Become a fan on Facebook: http://facebook.com/WritingCom Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WritingCom **************************************************************** WRITERSCOLLEGE.COM has 57 online courses. Prices are low. If you can reach our web site, you can take our courses. http://www.WritersCollege.com ***************************************************************** BECOME A FICTION WRITER. Get published. Get paid. Create manuscripts that are ready to submit to editors and publishers. Learn the techniques from an experienced professional writer - online or by mail. Free Writing Test offered. http://www.breakintoprint.com/W1646 ***************************************************************** You CAN Make a Great Full-Time Living As a Writer! Once you know the simple secrets of writing for this little-known lucrative market. You can work from home, be in control of your schedule and earn an average of $75-$150 an hour. http://www.thewriterslife.com/a63/full-time-living ***************************************************************** THOUSANDS OF WRITERS USE FANSTORY.COM FOR: * Feedback. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write. * Contests. Over 40 contests are always open and free to enter. * Rankings. Statistics will show you how your writing is doing. http://www.fanstory.com/index1.jsp?at=38 ***************************************************************** FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK ================================================================= Grasping for Pennies -------------------- While working on an article last week, I began reading the blog of one of the article's contributors, Sean Platt. Platt's "Ghostwriter Dad" blog is full of useful tips for writers, but one phrase really struck a chord with me. It pointed out that one of the traps that keeps writers poor is "Tripping over dollars to pick up pennies." Platt has a lovely blog on what HE means by the phrase. I hope he'll excuse me for taking a moment to expound on what that phrase means to ME. It means asking, "Why did you decide to become a writer in the first place?" If I were to ask that question of my readers, I know I'd get quite a range of responses. Many would say that they are following a dream -- a dream of getting published, of having their voices heard, of sharing a story that has long been near to their hearts. Others might say that they are seeking to use their writing skills to build a better life. Some want to escape the nine-to-five rat race. Some want a chance to spend more time with family, to be with their children. Some have no CHOICE but to be with their children and turn to writing as a way to augment the family income because they don't have the option of getting a "day job." Rarely, however, would I hear someone say, "I became a writer because Macdonald's was paying me too much to sling hamburgers." This issue focuses on the world of SEO writing -- of writing short articles for agencies that use them to help websites and companies improve their search engine ranking. While it apparently IS possible to earn good money in this endeavor, it's also possible to spend a great deal of time working for, yes, LESS than Macdonald's pays for slinging hamburgers. If I were to suggest to my lawn guy that he mow my lawn for $3, he'd roll on the grass laughing -- and my grass would soon be very long. But the SEO world is full of organizations who know they can offer $3 to a writer to produce 500 words -- and they'll find dozens, if not hundreds, of takers. I am well aware that there are many writers living in countries where $3 may, in fact, be a full day's wage, or more. (By the way, I'm not going to put the word "writer" in quotation marks in this instance. If you're a writer, you're a writer, wherever you live.) And if that is your circumstance, then the question really doesn't apply to you -- because a $3 article really IS, quite probably, fulfilling your writing dreams. But I know that a great many writers who are competing for these $3 and $5 "jobs" do, in fact, live (as I do) in countries where they really could make more money slinging hamburgers. So why do it? Sadly, one answer that many writers don't really want to utter aloud is "I think this is the best I can do." Low self-esteem seems to be a perennial problem with writers -- the feeling that "I'm not good enough, no one will really want to hear what I have to say, I should be GRATEFUL this content farm is willing to pay me for my pathetic scribblings." This is the feeling that drives a writer to feel that ANY sort of publication, even for peanuts, no copyright, and quite possibly no recognition, is better than NO publication. If this should be you, stop, think, and take a deep breath. If you are good enough to write for a content farm, you are good enough to write for a publication. Maybe you won't get accepted the first time, or the second, or the third. But when you do, the rewards will far exceed anything you feel that you have to "settle" for. Or maybe your ultimate writing dream is not just "getting published," but the completion of a novel, or a story, or a collection of stories, or a volume of poetry. The problem is (you may be thinking), there's no money in the long process of writing a novel. You may DREAM of getting a novel published, but realistically, you won't see a penny from that dream for two, three, maybe five or even ten years from the day you sit down and write "Chapter One..." But that's what Platt means about tripping over dollars to pick up pennies. Every day that you spend writing $3 articles -- whether it's for a content farm or for any other market -- is a day that you're NOT moving closer to a dream that could, in fact, have a far greater payoff down the line. The articles are bringing in pennies, but ensuring that your chance of getting dollars moves farther and farther into the future. To put it in terms of numbers, let's suppose you are destined to get an advance of $5000 for your novel. Let's also say that, today, you're getting paid $5 for 500 words. To earn $5000 from that type of writing, you'll have to write 500,000 words -- more than enough to complete your novel and (probably) the next one and the novel after that. If you need to pay bills in the meantime, consider flipping burgers or mowing lawns. Seriously. The pay is better -- and you can save your words for something that counts. And give the $3 job to someone who really needs it. To read more about "tripping over dollars," visit: http://ghostwriterdad.com/the-9-mistakes-most-writers-make-that-are-keeping-them-poor/ http://ghostwriterdad.com/how-to-stop-doing-the-one-thing-most-writers-do-that-they-shouldn%E2%80%99t-be-doing-at-all/ -- Moira Allen, Editor ***************************************************************** CHILDREN'S WRITERS Over 1,000 children's editors have it delivered to their desk each month. You can too - and get your first two issues FREE. http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/AK072 ***************************************************************** The Inquiring Writer: Content Writing ================================================================= By Dawn Copeman Last month I had several enquiries from writers wanting to know about SEO writing and content writing. They said that they had heard of sites claiming that writers could earn up to $300 a week doing such writing and wanted to know more about it. So I asked you for your help. The first reply I got was actually a question. Suzanne asked: "For newer writers like me, would you include in your discussion of SEO content writing a brief explanation of what the heck it is? I don't have a clue but I'm interested to hear about any new opportunities to get work out there." Sorry, Suzanne. SEO content writing means Search Engine Optimized Content Writing. Search engines like Google now rank sites based on the number of key words in their text. A SEO writer has to write content for the sites that include just the right amount of these key words. Too many and the search engine judges the site to be spam, too few and you don't get a good page ranking. It is a tricky business but one in which at least Stepanie Romero is making a living. She wrote: "In February 2010, I began writing for a web content company who specializes in SEO content for law firms. I started off writing one or two packages, averaging about $42 per package. As I continued to write for them... showing improvement, dependability, strong worth ethics and a positive attitude when I was corrected by my editor... I found my workload increasing. By August of 2010 they offered me a position as a permanent independent contractor. This company is based in Florida (I live in Wisconsin). Suddenly I had the best of both worlds, continuous work available to me and the ability to work whenever I want (although I do have deadlines. "Today I make anywhere between $500 and $800 PER WEEK. When I tell people what I do and how much I make (only when they ask), they are shocked. Sometimes I feel like I have to pinch myself... I can hardly believe this has become such a lucrative career. So obviously yes, I do believe the possibility of making $300 a week is more than possible." "In answer to scrabbling for work, I was as just as shocked when I started looking for online work through the content sites," wrote T. Sweeney. "I have found that it is possible to get higher paying jobs - but there are not a lot of them. I have sold content to Constant-Content and they do offer higher paying requests. "I make sure that I don't do any that are less than $50 per article. They do often have articles that go up to $200 and every once in a while you will see one for $500. I figure if it doesn't pay at least $50, it's not worth my time. "You can also list your own articles on the site and put your own prices on the articles - this way you are in control of what you charge and since they are able to see a sampling of your writing, it will speak for itself. The buyer will get what they pay for. What I have been told regarding all those who are willing to work for less - many are from other countries and aren't used to getting the pay we get here - so they are happy with the small amount they are making." Another writer who is making money through content writing is Ralph Bagnall. He wrote: "I understand your concerns expressed in the 'Scrabbling for Work' editorial. I have been a member of Elance for a couple of years. I have yet to accept a commission from Elance. It seems that the offers there are simply not tenable. "Although I bill by the job, I typically charge around $0.50 per word. I am able to do this because I specialize in woodworking copy. "While the Internet has made it possible for 3rd world 'writers' to produce copy for very low rates, it has also exploded the amount of writing that is needed. My clients need technically correct content that will draw woodworkers to their website. I create blogs, newsletters, product copy and video marketing materials for my clients. I work with woodworking companies because I know woodworking. My audience, woodworkers, can very easily spot a non-woodworker who is trying to 'pass' as one of them, and will react VERY badly. Hiring a cut-rate copy writer can do more harm than good for my clients and they know it. "My point is that while the Internet has made it easy to hire cut-rate copywriters, there is still plenty of call for reasonably paid writers. Specialization is a key aspect to this. By knowing your market and offering value to your customers that they can't get from overseas, a nice living can be made." You make some good points, Ralph. Sadly, however, it seems that the majority of those who responded have had a negative experience of writing content, like Christine Cassello. She wrote: "I had read about these being a good way to earn money and I applied and was approved to write for Demand Studios, but when I look for a subject to write about I don't even understand the titles. I was a liberal arts major and have been out of school since 1969. I never had a 'career' where I advanced up into higher levels of expertise and I have not even raised a family. I can't find anything that I know enough about to write articles for them." Sorry to hear that, Christine. But it seems you might not be missing out, as Christine Peets explains. "Your editorial really resonated with me. My short answer to your question about scrabbling for work is 'NO' -- we do not have to accept these measly wages just because there is a lot of competition. There is a lot of competition for everything. We can continue to shop at our local small stores even though we might be able to get the same or similar products at a large box store down the street, probably for a cheaper price. "Cheap is rarely good. Publishers that pay cheap rates will get cheap content. It will not be well researched nor will it be well written in most cases. Content farms like Demand Media may be attractive to some because of their 'exposure' but as a writing colleague and friend of mine says, 'You can die from exposure.' "I tell my writing students to have more respect for themselves as writers than to write for these types of publishers. I tell them that it is better to write for free for a publication that you really like or an organization that you support than to write for an organization like Demand Media that would suck the life out of you and leave you with no energy to do any other type of writing." Al McCartan also disapproves of such content farms. He wrote: "In order to make a 'quid' in writing, I went down this road and found it wanting. "Sure, I was given the brief and welcome with open arms by the supplier, who no doubt was reaping a far greater cut than I. "I was expected to write feature and press release standard articles for peanuts. Yes, even copy was thrown back for re-writes. "'Oh woe!' cry the job providers. 'Oh woe! We only have a budget of $??. Please don't ask for more. But you must be my ghost writer and write my articles of 'The Times' standard.' "In order to give my stories credibility and to ensure I dealt out the facts, I researched; time consuming. Notwithstanding that, there was the use of electricity - big buck power bills, here in Australia now; okay! So I did not print and justify the use of paper and ink, but writing all day and many thousand words, put pressure on my keyboard and equipment. "Oh yes! Let's not forget the fact that payment is required from some of the providers, such as E-lance etc, to get the jobs. Then it's a scramble for the contents of the begging bowl. "No plumber or electrician, nor any tradie worth his or her salt would work for such measly hourly wages; no journalist freelance or staff would even consider working for a 'penny-a-word'. Yet, in the writing world, this is considered okay, in order to 'get the gig'. Worst of all, no by-line. "Sorry, no more." Someone else who has decided to throw in the towel on this sort of writing is Julie Schatz. She wrote: "My bottom line to people who hire someone to write a 300-word article for $3 is, 'you get what you pay for.' While I know that we writers have to adjust rates in this thin economy, we are being hurt by these wanna-bes who will accept any amount of money to get the work. And while I'll agree there are hacks out there that get away with charging ridiculous fees because some corporate entities are used to paying those fees, whether the writing is good, bad or indifferent, there's only one of them for every hundred $3 writers. "There's unfortunately not a thing we professional writers can do about third-world countries' citizens performing this work for menial wages; firstly because there's too many of them and not enough of us; and secondly because of our socio-economic disparity. If $3 is a day's working wage, then sure, one or three articles they can knock out in a day is about right, isn't it? "My husband, an architectural illustrator, faces the same kind of third-world competition, and for the same reason. Literally, what he would charge, say, $2000 for, someone on o-desk or any of those other bid-for-a-gig sites will do it for $50. "The other part of this equation in writing is, as you alluded to, the number of people who need to earn some extra cash and figure, 'hey, I know how to write, I should do that.' And on top of that, I believe there are more writing coaches and scam artists *telling* people that, and selling them 'the manual' to show them 'how easy it is to make a living writing,' than there are people actually writing. "Like you, I am frustrated with the whole situation as it stands today and have pretty much given up making a living writing. I've instead put my efforts toward promoting my husband's business because in the long run, although he contends with the same challenges writers do, we believe we have more chance finding local architects and builders to do work, and who value the one-on-one service that they can't get through o-desk." Finally, a new writer who offers some sage words of advice, Steve Sears. He writes: "I believe many newbie freelancers are entering the field this way, but I don't go this route at all. I write for print and online publications that pay more, and I am always seeking higher paying markets. "I'm no expert, but I know you have to have a belief in yourself and your work that you can get better paying assignments and get them done." As for me, as part of my research for this article I did some content writing. Some sites are good, some are awful and none are ideal, but as our feature writer states this month, they can come in handy when bills are due. I think this is a case of writer beware. Find out as much as you can about the job and only write for a company if you are content to do so. There are lots of con-men and scams out there, but there are legitimate jobs too. Onto this month's question from Barb Joy. She wrote: "I was thinking about submitting a short story or two to a writing contest but hesitated because I already have them on my website, although I haven't sold any yet. "Would it be unethical to send off a story I had on my website?" Send your answers and your questions please (as we're running low) to editorial@writing-world.com with the subject line Inquiring Writer. Until next time, Dawn Copyright 2011 Dawn Copeman **************************************************************** BEGINNERS! LEARN THE BASICS of writing for magazines and online publishers FREE from an experienced freelancer. Learn how to find ideas & markets, write queries that sell and get paid for your writing. Sign-up for free weekly writing tips. http://www.freelance-write-now.com ***************************************************************** NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF WRITING ================================================================= Publishers Set to Lose Money after Borders Closes ------------------------------------------------- Despite the fact that the Borders' liquidation sale is set to make over $250 million, many publishers who are owed money by the chain are set to receive hardly any money at all. These publishers will have to swallow their losses, which could impact upon future royalties and advances. To find out which publishers are going to lose money and how much visit: http://ht.ly/5Jf2z Penguin Reports Lower Sales and Profits in 2011 ----------------------------------------------- Sales of Penguin books were down 4% in the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year. Profits have decreased by $2m to $42m. The only area of growth for the company was in digital sales which have risen by 128% worldwide. For more on this story visit: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/penguins-sales-and-profits-fall-digital-rises.html Orion Sets up Website to Help Independent Booksellers ----------------------------------------------------- The publisher is offering independent stores access to free to download point of sales display material and exclusive discounts. Over 100 independent stores in Britain and Ireland have already signed up for the scheme known as BookBark. For more on this story visit: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/orion-launches-bookbark-indies.html ***************************************************************** EVERYHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SETTING FREELANCE FEES! Find out how to negotiate agreements, choose pricing strategies, define tasks, deal with difficult customers, and much more in "What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants" (2nd Edition) by Laurie Lewis. In print and Kindle from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/setyourfees *************************************************************** Writing Jobs and Opportunities ================================================================= Associate Editors Wanted by Reputation.com ------------------------------------------ Reputation.com is looking for experienced editors to work on high-profile biographies. You must have experience of editing or proofreading and be proficiently versed in the Chicago Manual of Style. For more information visit: http://www.bloggingpro.com/jobs/view/associate-editor-5 Writers Wanted for Women's Magazine ----------------------------------- This appears to be a start-up magazine in Rhode Island. They are looking for horoscope, fashion, health writers and movie reviewers. http://providence.craigslist.org/wrg/2521134584.html The Indie Pedant Seeks Writers ------------------------------ The Indie Pedant is looking for writers to join a small, but growing community of other would be writers - we're based in London but have contributors from the US, SA and mainland Europe. Come join and showcase your work. We're looking for news, reviews, and fiction, books, film, art, fashion, sport and fiction. Perfect for writers starting out or just some of you more experienced writers who just don't have the time to set up your own website. http://theindiepedant.com Send your emails to: shutupanddeal@hotmail.com ***************************************************************** HOW TO WRITE YOUR BEST STORY This inspiring, practical new book will help you write your best story and improve your chances to get published. These are the most durable, successful, and time-tested tips, techniques and examples of best practices used by great writers. http://www.crickhollowbooks.com/write_your_best_story.html *************************************************************** FEATURE: Writing to Pay the Bills ================================================================= By Audrey Faye Henderson Maybe you're hoping to supplement your income. Or you've run into a financial shortfall due to unexpected expenses or because you've lost one or more important clients. In any event, you need money, and you need it soon. As a freelance writer, it's possible to score several hundred dollars, or even thousands, on a single manuscript or report. The problem is that high-paying clients and assignments don't materialize on a regular schedule. If you need to be able to count on a certain amount of regular income on a predictable schedule, along with scouring the want ads and pounding the pavement for survival jobs, writing for one or more online content providers may provide a solution. The advantage of writing online content is that you can schedule your own hours, which gives you more latitude to pursue higher-paying assignments. On the other hand, while writing for content providers can be a legitimate source of income, you must avoid falling into the trap of treating a working relationship with a content provider like a 'regular' job or worse, failing to continue to seek out other clients. Freelance writing websites often include listings for online content providers along with information on other writing jobs. Online content providers also frequently run banner ads on writing websites, or advertise on online classified websites such as Craigslist. A caveat: content writing pay is often very low in comparison with the pay for writing for glossy publications and even some newspapers. Also, as with all work-at-home jobs, there are unscrupulous operators out there. Check out any would-be assignment thoroughly before providing sensitive personal information. Read the contractor's agreement carefully before signing your name to anything. Be very skeptical about providing original writing samples unless you're being paid for them. I also don't write for content providers that require writers to 'bid' for projects. In my experience, bidding for writing jobs too often involves a 'race to the bottom' for pay, competing against bidders from developing countries who can and often do accept $1 or $2 to produce a 500-word article. I can't afford to work for those rates and I am assuming that you can't either You will not be able to sign up with a content provider today and cash a paycheck tomorrow. However, depending on the content provider(s) you work for, you may be able to generate enough cash in time to make next month's rent. Applying for Online Content Work -------------------------------- Most content providers require prospective writers to negotiate an application process just as job applicants do with brick-and-mortar companies. The website will often include a link to a dedicated application page, or a section that provides detailed instruction on how to apply. Whatever the procedure, follow the instructions precisely. You may not get another chance if you make a mistake -- many online content providers do not allow prospective contributors to apply more than once. As a professional freelancer, your writing experience will probably place you in high regard with many online content providers. This doesn't mean you can blow off the writing sample. Yes, you will probably have to submit at least one. Choose examples of your work that relate to the subject(s) covered by the content provider(s) you're applying for. Tailor your résumé (yes, you'll need one) to emphasize relevant experience and any type of recognition for writing. Advanced degrees will also enhance your application, especially if your degrees relate to the type of writing featured by the content provider. My experience has been that favorable responses tend to come quickly or not at all, although your mileage may vary. If it has been more than a month since you've applied with no word, it's perfectly acceptable to make a single polite inquiry by email. You may preface your inquiry by voicing the concern that your application might have been lost in the ether. Of course, if you received an auto-response that your application had been received immediately after submission that approach won't work. Once you've been contracted to work with an online provider, you'll need to submit a contractors' agreement and sort out the logistics of payment and taxes. Many content providers pay only by PayPal, so you'll need an account, preferably one that is verified so that you can receive unlimited payments. What's In a Name? ----------------- Many writers use pen names when writing for online content providers for reasons ranging from safety and privacy concerns to worries that being publically associated with a 'content farm' would harm their writing reputations with other publishers or potential clients. If you decide to use a pseudonym for privacy reasons, choose something that sounds like a plausible real name. Many content providers will require this. Some content providers also require photos and fairly detailed biographical information. If you're writing under a pseudonym and want or need to maintain your anonymity, provide a photo that partially obscures your face, is shot in profile, in shadow or provides some other means of disguising your identity. Provide as little personal and biographical information as possible while remaining truthful. Explain your position to the administrators for the site. Most content providers will respect your wishes. A major reason to consider writing under a pseudonym is that most online content work is done on a work for hire arrangement. Once the work is accepted and you're paid, it becomes the property of the company, which has the right to publish it anywhere, in whole or In part, without your permission or even letting you know in advance or after publication. If that fact doesn't bother you, consider this: unscrupulous 'scraper' sites may also republish your content, often with major changes that do not enhance the work. Of course, this is a total copyright violation, but remember, you no longer own the copyright. This means you have no standing to force the 'scraper' site to remove your work. That said, if you report this kind of copyright violation to the content provider, the company can (and often does) pursue the infringing individual or website. But do you really have time to police the Internet for copyright violations of work you no longer even own? Writing under a pseudonym relieves you of the worry of wondering whether your name is associated with an unsavory online presence. Working for Content Providers ----------------------------- Each content provider has its own standard template and 'voice,' which involves climbing a learning curve that can be surprisingly steep before you get into a rhythm. Once you've acclimated yourself, however, you should be able to finish individual assignments fairly quickly. This is important, because when you're earning as little as $8, $10, $15, $20 or $25 per article, it is financially unfeasible to labor over each article for hours, much less days or even weeks. Some writers conduct interviews with experts and extensive offline research for their content articles. If you're using your real name or plan to include your content articles as part of your overall writing portfolio, this can make sense. Other writers keep their content writing portfolios completely separate from their other work. They concentrate on maintaining an acceptable quality level but concentrate the bulk of their creativity elsewhere. Some content writers are able to complete two or even three or more articles per hour as a result. I tend to average one hour for each article for content work. This includes Internet research, 'outlining' each article by section according to the template involved, actual writing and related tasks such as completing the reference section and choosing photos. I concentrate on specific general categories for which I have a ready 'library' of bookmarked websites that make it possible to quickly and efficiently research each title. The key is to maintain a level of quality that is acceptable to the content provider while writing as efficiently as possible. However, efficiency does not mean adopting a dismissive attitude. Yes, it's low-paid work. Yes, you're probably writing under a pseudonym. However, consistently submitting sloppy, poorly executed work can and will result in dismissal. More importantly, consistently producing sub-par work for a content provider can have an adverse effect on your writing in general. If at all possible, contract with several different content providers. You won't have to write for all of them simultaneously. However, even though many content providers offer a reliable pay schedule, you only get paid for work that is COMPLETED in time for processing for each payout date. Inevitably, a website glitch or a period of sustained slow reviews will result in little or none of your work being approved by the deadline for a given payout date. Given how Murphy's Law works, this unfortunate situation will inevitably occur precisely when your need for income is greatest. Having active contracts with several content providers gives you the option of shifting your efforts immediately from one to another to maintain a more or less consistent income stream. Writing for different content providers also helps to avoid burnout that can occur when you're grinding out article after article on the same subject. As a generalist, I cover articles on a wide range of subjects for my content work. This flexibility also means that I have more potential assignments available to me, which also helps to maintain a somewhat consistent income stream. Many online content providers have discussion boards for their writers and other contractors. Along with email messages and announcements from administrators, discussion board posts can keep you apprised about important policy changes and other important information for that particular content provider, as well as useful leads for other potential clients. They are also often magnets for online drama, which can present a tremendous time suck without diligent monitoring. A better plan is to set aside a certain number of hours each day and a set number of days each week for content-related work. Schedule at least one day per week to pursue and complete assignments for other clients. You'll also need time off just to recharge your batteries. Individual Content Providers ---------------------------- The list below is far from exhaustive -- the sites included are those with which I have had first-hand experience. For the purposes of this article, content providers fall into three broad categories: sites that pay at least once per week with assignments that have set prices; sites that pay once or twice per month with assignments that have set prices; and sites that allow you to set your own prices -- but pay only after you make an actual sale. The third category provides an alternative outlet for articles that are not approved by conventional content providers rather than an actual income stream. I personally have sold a handful of articles this way, none for less than $50. Some pieces sold, quickly, others lingered from months before selling and several are still on offer. Bright Hub ---------- Editorially-managed channels pay $10 up front per title plus continuous revenue share residual payments. Payments occur monthly via PayPal. Writers apply by submitting a résumé and writing samples to one or more channels. Successful writers become members of specific channels with assignment lists available only to members of the channel. Writers may also pitch their own article ideas to the channel manager. Editing is transparent; each article is assigned to an editor based on subject matter. Buys electronic publication rights, writers are free to publish work elsewhere in print publications only. Accepts writers worldwide. Constant Content ---------------- Writers upload individual articles and photographs. Each submission undergoes strict checking through a plagiarism filter and an editing/proofreading process before they are approved for inclusion on the website. Titles are listed by category, keyword and by author. Buyers also submit assignments to which writers may respond with completed articles or pitches. Payment occurs monthly or twice monthly as the writer chooses, exclusively through PayPal. Writers may sell usage rights, unique publication rights or all rights, and set their own prices, with a minimum of $7. Accepts writers worldwide. Demand Media Studios -------------------- Apply by submitting a résumé and writing samples. New writers must complete a probationary period where they write three paid articles edited by a senior editor. Successful writers are assigned a queue of 10 articles. Approval for a larger queue occurs on a rolling basis. Writers may apply for assignments that pay more per article. Editing is anonymous and writers are allowed a maximum of one revision after which the article is accepted or rejected. Pays twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays by PayPal, with deadlines of midnight Pacific time on Sunday and Wednesday, respectively. Articles for regular assignments range from $3 to $25 or $30, depending on internal site and format, $15 is standard. Publisher buys all rights. Accepts writers from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. only. WiseGEEK -------- U.S. writers apply through the website, which requests writing experience and writing samples. Foreign writers provide the same info by an email without attachments. Pays on a rolling basis upon acceptance of batches of five or more articles. Articles vary in price, from $10 to $14 each through PayPal only. Writers go through multiple stages of paid test articles with detailed commentary at each stage. Successful writers are able to claim a queue of 5 articles and are assigned a specific editor. Subjects range from gadgets to government. Publisher buys all rights. Accepts writers worldwide. The Writers Network ------------------- Writers apply by submitting a résumé and writing samples. Pays for articles on a rolling basis upon acceptance via PayPal. Apply by submitting a résumé and writing samples. Successful writers may claim a queue of 5 articles ranging in price from $10 to $25, mostly on home and garden related subjects. Beauty and fashion related articles were added in April 2011, more categories have been planned for addition in coming months. Editing is anonymous. Publisher buys all rights. Accepts only writers in the United States. >>--------------------------------------------------<< Audrey Faye Henderson is a writer, researcher, data analyst and policy analyst based in the Chicago area. Her company, Knowledge Empowerment, http://www.knowledge-empowerment.net/, specializes in social policy analysis concerning fair housing, affordable housing, higher education for nontraditional students, community development with an asset based approach and sustainable development in the built environment. Copyright 2011 Audrey Faye Henderson For more information on how to boost your writing income visit: http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/1000.shtml and http://www.writing-world.com/rights/money.shtml **************************************************************** EBOOK SELF-PUBLISHING EXPLAINED An epublishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what is happening and show you how to self-publish your own ebooks. http://www.PublishYourOwnEbooks.com *************************************************************** Free Stuff for Writers: Going Digital ================================================================= By Aline Lechaye A great internet radio program and a couple of cool writer-related apps are some of the things you'll be introduced to in this month's article. Something you also might want to check out: Google's new social networking site. Move over, iTunes, Grooveshark is here. This internet based radio program allows you to stream any song you want (all the way through; we're not talking thirty-second snippets here) for free! Registration is not necessary to listen to music, although registered users can create and save playlists of their favorite music. The interface can be slightly confusing for new users to get used to, and the site requires flash to operate, which may mean slower reaction times on slow internet connections. Besides music-on-demand, Grooveshark also offers internet radio that picks tunes for you. Good music can be shared using email, Twitter or Facebook. It's like having a free iPod that has all the music in the world saved inside! Check out Grooveshark at http://grooveshark.com. Okay, we've had Myspace, and then we had Facebook, and Twitter, and now we've got the latest offering in social networks from Google: Google+. The "stream" feature is similar to the Facebook wall, and "circles" lets you organize your friends into groups. Live video chat is available through the "hangouts" feature, and each hangout can hold up to ten people. You can also access Google+ through your Android, iPhone, or Blackberry device. I'm not sure at this point whether or not it will be an improvement on the current social sites, but hey, it's free and (fairly) fun to use, so why not try it out? Find out more at https://plus.google.com. I recently learned about BookCatcher through a friend. BookCatcher is a website that provides free articles and resources for writers, covering topics from marketing, publishing, and the actual writing process. They also have some podcasts and free ebooks for download. Visit the site at http://www.bookcatcher.com/index.php. Great for story plotting or brainstorming or even just jotting down random thoughts, FreeMind is a free mind-mapping software written in Java. Interesting features include the ability to "fold" and "unfold" your map (which means you can open and hide sub-points as needed), drag and drop text or sub categories, and export finished mind maps to HTML format. The program has limited support for pictures and graphics, though. Find out more about FreeMind and download the program at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/. FreeMind runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, and you can choose to download a simple basic version, or the complete version which includes plugins. Note that you may also need to install a Java program to run FreeMind if your computer doesn't already have one. And finally, an alternative for on-screen keyboards: RapidWriter. If you've ever wanted to jot down something in a hurry, this free iPhone (iPad) app is for you. Don't bother with tapping out letters on your tiny screen keyboard; just draw the letters on the screen with your finger, and the app will convert it into neat script for you. To learn more or download, go to http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rapidwriter/id342052508?mt=8. >>--------------------------------------------------<< Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye@gmail.com. Copyright 2011 Aline Lechaye ***************************************************************** THE WRITE SITES ================================================================= A Freelancer's Guide To SEO --------------------------- This is a useful article on the topic of Search Engine Optimization and how to learn to write SEO articles. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/a-freelance-writers-basic-guide-to-seo/ PenWrights.com -------------- This is a community of writers who meet online to read, write, and critique each other's work. You can submit up to two pieces a month to be critiqued. http://www.penwrights.com/ Writers Block Help ------------------ OK, so the premise of this site is to help cure writer's block, but it offers so much more than that. Here you will find articles on how to write book reviews, poem starters, flash fiction as well as games and activities to get unblocked. This is a treasure of a site. http://www.writers-block-help.com/index.html **************************************************************** WIN PRIZES AND GET PUBLISHED! Find out how to submit your stories, poetry, articles and books to hundreds of writing contests in the US and internationally. Newly updated for 2010, WRITING TO WIN by Moira Allen is the one-stop resource you need for contests and contest tips. Visit Writing-WorldCom's bookstore for details: http://www.writing-world.com/bookstore/index.shtml ***************************************************************** AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers ================================================================= Lady Father, by Susan Bowman Find these and more great books at http://www.writing-world.com/books/index.shtml Have you just had a book published? If so, let our readers know: just click on the link below to list your book. http://www.writing-world.com/books/listyours.shtml ***************************************************************** ADVERTISE in WRITING WORLD or on WRITING-WORLD.COM! For details on how to reach more than 100,000 writers a month with your product, service or book title, visit http://www.writing-world.com/admin1/adrates.shtml ***************************************************************** Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com http://www.writing-world.com Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors@writing-world.com) Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial@writing-world.com) Copyright 2011 Moira Allen Individual articles copyrighted by their authors. Back issues archived at http://www.writing-world.com/newsletter/index.shtml Writing World is hosted by Aweber.com ***************************************************************** Subscribers are welcome to re-circulate. Sutton House, Meads Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex To unsubscribe or change subscriber options visit: http://www.aweber.com/z/r/?LEyszKyMtCwcrMxs7GwMtEa0jIwMLCwcDGw=


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The Plastic Bag

A very good film from Future States about the life of objects, and how we anthropmorphize them, but also about recycling and renewing:

http://futurestates.tv/episodes/plastic-bag

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Spiders, Groundhogs, Humidity: Let the Stress Begin

It is so steamy I literally can't see when I go out; glasses can be a terrible liability, and it is hazy, too. I can't tell if it is the weather, or if it's the stress blinding me and making me dizzy. We wonder if this is success, this choking feeling that never leaves us, and is that the feel of our savings in their big money bags sitting on our chest? Will it shift long enough for us to breathe? Are we punished by our own love for techie things with carpal tunnel and nerve damages, so that it hurts us to pursue the games and gadgets we love?

But, I can' simplify either. I'm a complicated person, and I thrive on complications, but those of my own design, and I find it is very difficult to cater to other peoples' schedules. When I get like this,and I miss my mother more than I can stand, I seem to have more compassion for nature and animals than ever.

Yesterday, I knocked spiders out of our croner on the porch, but I spared the elegant mocha colored spider. I don't intend to be overrun with vermin, but she was outside, and it was her home. I have been known to liberate an insect victim now and then, but as a fan of Arachne, I have compassion for spiders. This evening, she had built back her web. I left her alone. In the five ring circus of turmoil that is my life, I can't disrupt hers.

I worry about the little ground hog I see every morning in the ditch between the two lanes of the interstate. Does he know where he is? He is there everyday foraging, and I wish I could signmal him to go into the pipes, underground, not to cross the road of death, not to be drawn to the big shiny cars. Then, maybe he knows this, and is domesticated as the squirrels in my yard are, or as the chipmonk, named Alvin, of course, who sleeps in my drainpipe. The squirrels are not above running at me when it is dry and they want water. If I have the hose out, they charge me, and I arrange little dishes for them so they, and the other animals can drink.

I don't begrudge them a cabbage leaf or pepper now and then, either. I am not a farmer, and am not lviing on my produce. But, I am glad that the gourds and pumpkins seem to be hanging on, and I'm waiting for Halloween this year again. It is August, which I love, with its peridot birthstones reminding me of sweet days lost. I used to be gettng ready for school in August, or I would be on Huntington Beach with my family, or Fisherman's Wharf, but now, all that is gone, too.

The shells I kept from those days mock me; I may never hear the ocean in their depths again, or walk through the shoals of Santa Cruz, or rescue star fish as I used to do.

I live for autumn, but nothing promising happens, only more trying things.

As far as cooking, these days it is too hot, but I make salads with arugula,and lemon basil mixed with black beans or peas, and other celeries, onions, and fresh vegetables. I'm getting interested in soup recipes again, planning for cooler days, but dreading them lest the pressure in my tires drops again.

The flowers seem to glow; they like the humidity, and if I were wealthy, I'd go mad at the sales in the nurseries, and even found a new one yesterday I would have loved to visit.

Happy planting, a stress free week. Welcome to new Twitter followers and folks on our Dr. E's Doll Museum Facebook page, and bless our friends at Pocket of Pearls!