Archive from January, 2018
Jan 31, 2018 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

5000 Year Old Wine May Cure What Ails You

I was reading about the tunnels under the Giza Plateau, a relatively new archaeological find in Egypt, when I was intrigued by another link. It took me to information about an early Egyptian ruler, the Scorpion king. Yep, he really existed, though not as the movie portrays him.

multiple jugs of wine_ScorpionKingTombIn April of 2009, Archaeologist Patrick McGovern and colleagues have found a cache of wine jars in Scorpion’s tomb that contains herbs and tree resins. They believe the additives were for medicinal purposes.

McGovern is sharing his new information with Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. Using residue of ancient winebiomolecular analysis, they are attempting to recreate the recipes of the wine find. The purpose? Maybe the ancient Egyptians were on to something – like a cure for cancer. While the concept of utilizing archaeology to help cure disease is thrilling, I can’t help but wonder why the Egyptians felt a dead person needed medicine.

Evidence is looking like these remedies are as much as 3350 B.C. Interestingly these appear to be imported wine concoctions as the Egyptians did not, at that time, produce their own wine. If you were an Egyptian ruler and imported medicated alcohol, wouldn’t you try to preserve peace with that exporting nation? Sometimes I think we could use a little bit of that wine, and the political friendship it fostered.

Original article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090413-scorpion-king-wine.html

Originally posted 2012-11-18 04:42:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 31, 2018 - Blog, Just for Writer's    1 Comment

The Perfect Nightmare

It is said that an author should write from what they know.

Well, I don’t know very many serial killers, violent murderer’s, or Grim Reaper’s, so it’s kind of hard for me to write these characters from personal experience.

If you are not a writer or involved with write-a-thon’s, you may not grasp the weird magic that can take place on the keyboard under pressure. See, I’m doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is only for 30 days, so editing would be a bad idea – waste of time. You just gotta get down the words. Edit in December. Plot changes? Sure, so long as you keep going. Don’t look back; full steam ahead. Fix it later.

I’ve been doing that, and keeping up, for the most part… more here, less there. My problem is I am still unsure of my antagonist – “the bad guy”.

Enter my horrible nightmare.

I’ve NEVER had a dream like this! Creepiness squared. Very Supernatural.

Funny thing? I didn’t feel freaked out about any of it. More like flat-lined. Like I was fully wrapped in cotton wool – couldn’t feel a thing. I’ll keep the specifics to myself, for now. But as I’m going over the details, I see that this is the sort of monster that Hollywood creates.

If Hollywood could use it, I can use it.

Voila, my antagonist.

Originally posted 2013-11-07 21:35:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 30, 2018 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

Wine in the Desert

I’m in Vegas this weekend with friends, and we’ve been out on the town (in the heat) and eaten our fill of restaurant fare, so tonight we stayed in the condo.

Trebbiano Pinot Grigio I made a faux Chicken Marsala – which was pretty tasty. Either that, or we were really hungry!

Normally, this dish is served with a bottle of wine. We drank three… three different kinds. (Is that ok?) All were inexpensive – an unbelievable $1.99 from the Las Vegas Trader Joe’s (though not marked TJ’s), and all were good! Products of Umbria, Italy. We started with a 2010 Vola Trebbiano Pinot Grigio before the table was set, had a 2010 Vola Sangiovese with dinner, and drank Cupcake Chardonnay for dessert, also from TJ’s which I brought from Los Angeles, and goes for $9.99. My mom liked it and got me a bottle, bless her heart. The label says citrus-y with a hint of vanilla. While I could tell there was something sweet-ish in the flavour, to me it came across as a sweet bark flavour, like cinnamon but not cinnamon. While I was deciding, up came that Chardonnay oak that I love. Nice.

For background music and entertainment, I put on a travel video of Southern France and all were happy. Don’t worry, it’s alright to mix cultures. I’m American with a European upbringing and I say it’s okay.

But I’m thinking you might be wondering, “What exactly is faux Chicken Marsala?” Before we get into that, I want to tell you a cooking secret: whatever you cook, the food always tastes better if the chef has a glass of wine first.

Having no idea what I’m going to make, I check the fridge for supplies. We had boneless, skinless chicken and some grapes – three colours, in fact. I found a box of raisins, and thankfully there were onions.

I sauté at least three loosely chopped onions in olive oil and butter in a pot while browning the chicken in a skillet, also with a bit of olive oil and butter. To the onions, I added grapes, raisins, bit of pepper and any other seasoning salt I could find (I found Lawry’s) but not much or it will toughen the meat and taste commercial. When the chicken begins to stick to the pan, add enough white wine to sizzle the chicken loose and make a bit of sauce – about two glasses of white wine. Reduce by half, for taste and thickening. Add the chicken and juices to the onion mixture and lower the heat to medium. Add a bit more wine to the skillet and gently dissolve the brownings into the wine and add it to the main mixture. I thought it needed a bit of sweet and was lucky to find some syrup. About 3 or 4 tablespoons did the trick. So far, so good, but it lacked colour. Aw, hell, add some red wine until it looks right – a glass of that Sangiovese, please.

It was getting hot in the kitchen so I let it simmer while we hung out on the balcony overlooking the inviting swimming pool and talked about why it’s closed for the summer.

Time to eat. We lit the candles and served the chicken with potatoes and veggies. Oh yeah, and the wine.

Luxury.

A few hours of Fringe reruns in anticipation of the new season and my friends are off to bed. Not me, though. I’m staying up to enjoy the storm, watching the jagged bolts arc the sky reflected in the pool and listening to the deep sounds of boulders falling from heaven roll about the open desert. The bit a rain that was squeezed from the clouds evaporated in minutes.

The end of a perfect Vegas day.

Originally posted 2012-01-27 23:39:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 30, 2018 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

Hot Mid-Summer Nights

It’s hot. I can’t sleep.

The open window is my only source of cool air and there is no breeze. Staring into the darkness unable to rest, I resign. Better to read than stare at the ceiling for hours.

I flick on the lamp and resume my current supernatural suspense.cross-eyed Almost immediately I am visited by a butterfly. Cool! It (He? She?) lands on my nose and seems to be staring at me with its orb-y, stickin’-out eyes. Not a moth; a butterfly – the small monarchy looking one. I stare cross-eyed back at it, wondering why it’s awake this late at night. G-d alone knows what the butterfly is thinking. It must have something to do with rotating antennae. This is so weird I fight the compulsion to brush it away and we stare at each other. It’s still better than looking at the ceiling.

I have always felt that personal experiences with animals proved that a direct connection to the realm of magic and alien life was possible, like a kind of message from the universe, or a mystic calling. It’s happening to me again with this butterfly. When I was nine I thought about such things all the time. Always hoping for another sign of the magic, I took silver linings seriously, wanting to know if there were any golden linings.

Lately, it has been raccoon’s. A mama coon with four babies visits us every night, early enough to be entertainment with dinner. I have learned that giving them some leftovers from the fridge keeps them from turning over the garbage cans. I know the dangers and keep my distance but I get to watch. What intrigues me is the eye contact; they look right into a particular part of your soul, transmitting an extra-sensory warning: “If you do anything to scare me, I will never trust you again.” It’s a contract, and I obey. Besides, what if they can hear my thoughts? “Aw, she thinks I’m cute.”

But Babs the butterfly is sending me sweet nothings and we’re becoming friends. I felt a deep relaxing sigh well up from the depths, and right on cue Babs gently takes her leave and saunters, as only butterflies can, out the open window. Is it my imagination or is it cooler?

Yep, it’s cool enough to put down the unfinished fiction and turn out the light.

Was that magic? Coincidence? Alien contact? D, none of the above? I drift into the unknown buoyed on a breeze from hundreds of black and orange fans.

Originally posted 2013-07-29 03:06:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 29, 2018 - Blog    3 Comments

Videos Could Kill You. Cool!

Er… I mean videos about what could kill you are cool. These clever little 2-3 minute videos of how common things could kill you are actually miniature, obscure health tips.

For example, it so happens that hand sanitizer has twice the alcohol of hard liquor, so naturally some college kids (boys) tried to get a buzz on eating the stuff and, you guessed it, wound up in hospital. Yeah, not very smart – but it’s kinda funny. Generally I leave my alcohol intake to the occasional glass of wine, but that’s me.

So what else can kill you? Apparently loads of things you thought were healthy, can kill. Take, for instance the humble cherry; they’re in the stone fruit family by virtue of their very hard seeds like peaches and plums, and a single cherry pit contains enough cyanide to kill an adult if swallowed. But why would you eat that rock hard thing that is larger than any pill a doctor give you? Seems to me your safest bet is moderation and logic.

But come on, you’re not stupid enough to mow off your toes, are you? Well, are you?! If you want a laugh at what we’ve learned from experience, check out a few videos about what could kill you from the ULIVE videos. They are cute and very well done, besides.

http://www.ulive.com/what-you-dont-know-could-kill-you

You could also Google “could kill you” and learn – the fun way. One of my fav’s was

http://www.energyfiend.com/death-by-caffeine

But don’t over do it. Watching over 1000 could-kill-you videos could kill you. But hey, that’s kinda funny: “Death by Health Videos”. Cool  :D

 

Originally posted 2013-10-27 01:30:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 29, 2018 - Blog, Inspiration    No Comments

In the Heat of the Moment

Outdoor concertWe went to an outdoor concert the other night – you know, the kind where everyone brings their own cheese and wine… it’s a lovely evening and the Beatle impersonators are gearing up for the refrain of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, as we are trying to get the cork out of our bottle.

Nothin’ doin’; this cork is holding cork fell aparthands with this bottle and it’s never gonna leave home. Looking at each other in sorrow, we realize we must push the remainder of this mangled thing into the bottle. There’s no way we are NOT drinking at this event. That’s just the kind of wine lovers we are – ‘bad’ wine is better than no wine!

A couple of hours later, a good time having been had by all, we head for my parent’s place, just up the hill.

“Hey, kids. Pull up a drink and set a spell”, invites Dad. “What’ll it be?”

“Actually, we have some wine, but it’s corked.” (This was the easiest way to explain to a scotch drinker that we had mutilated the cork, forced it into the drink and would need to navigate around the floating bits, rather than meaning a truly ‘corked’ wine.)

Dad, always with a response, smiles: “The only kind of wine I like is the uncorked kind. Want me to open it?”

This is the father I wish I had grown up with; he’s the same person, but very much mellowed with age… not unlike a bottle of burgundy.

Bless you, Dad.

Originally posted 2013-08-15 03:15:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 28, 2018 - Blog    No Comments

NaNoWriMo Rocks

Whew! November is finally over.

The last few years November has proven to be my most hectic month. However, that may be synonymous with “most productive”.

One becomes a “NaNoWriMo” winner by writing 50,000+ words in thirty days – the thirty days of November. That’s the same month, as you well know, when family and friends come to eat turkey with you, so you have to clean house, shop, cook, clean, and socialize whether you want to or not. Writing, takes a back burner, until the guests lights go out. Then it’s burn the midnight oil , baby, burn.

Last year I won with a book I titled “The Key Club” about a group of friends that lose things, pool their copied keys to help each other out when they locked themselves out of their lives. The neighbourhood finds out about it and wants to join, creating The Key Club.

This year I wrote “Toxic Solutions”; ‘Survivors are not always the lucky ones’, a dark tale about murder – lots of it.

In 2013, I organized a writer’s club picnic complete with silly extras. Someone even brought sexy cupcakes. But this year was a small, wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family from Europe. This was the first year I ever heard [slightly] dirty jokes told at table. Heh heh.

 

 

This seems to be a recurring theme, as last  Thanksgiving I hosted friends and family from far away places, as well.

                         

To top it all off, I got a new computer virus which should be the only thing that happens all month,  because you don’t have time for anything except purging. I hate it when that happens.

But in the end (of November) I realized I actually accomplished several goals. I may even consider not shooting for a New Year resolution, because I got so much done this year. What do you think; should I burn the candle at both ends this coming year?

Onward to the Christmas season:

The first thing my neighbours do is put up the lights; then there are the cards to address, the shopping, the food, and appeasing the ghosts of Christmas past.

It’s the ghosts that make it all worthwhile.

Originally posted 2013-12-04 18:12:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 28, 2018 - Blog, Style    No Comments

Pinterest Warning

Warning Pinterest users!

Those of you who have discovered Pinterest already know of it’s addictive nature. What you may not know yet, however, is its ability to make you stop what you’re doing, and go redecorate a room in your home.

I am a fairly new member, and this weekend was driven to go through the garage in search for bed frames and fabrics. Images of what I had seen on Pinterest boards earlier in the week had infected my mind and I was unable to resist the temptationn on eof

Switching out the bed in my room, I put together the antique headboard that had been in the garage for years. Oh no! A  deep scratch! Wait; I know what to do… what was it? Quick – check out household tips of my Pinterest followers’ board’s for the solution.

Yes! A walnut meat. Strange but true, rubbing the walnut over the gouge concealed the damage enough to celebrate.walnut cover scratches wood

My room, uh I mean the guest room, is shaping up nicely.

You have been warned.

Originally posted 2012-04-28 03:38:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 27, 2018 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

October… the Spooky Month

Just in time for Halloween – a list of ghost movies so you can scare yourself, family and friends every night of October. 

three handheld Halloween DVD'sThe IMBD link - a slick list; each film has a synopsis so you know what you’re getting into – so comforting, don’t you think? Beware though, IMBD goes on and on and on and… you may end up reading more than movie watching.

The Wikipedia - this list of ghost movies is just a straight list – cut to the chase, let’s get on with it! Just so you know… each one is linked to its own Wikipedia page, so you might get caught up in the spoilers.

Totalfilm gets into the act with nice images to entice you to come a little closer, plus all kinds of distracting extras on the site. Worth a look.

Hey, what are you going as for your Trick or Treating? I see lots of Lady Gaga outfits this year, and here I thought she was fun and creative… not scary! But wait, there was that meat outfit…

Me, I’m thinking of being a wine taster for Halloween. It’ll be a cheap costume – all I need is a wine glass, and I can go from house to house asking for something to fill it. Whataya think?

Oh, and I uh, almost forgot…

 BOO!

 

Originally posted 2013-10-01 12:01:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 27, 2018 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

Niki is Writing…

October is a threshold month, a stepping-out-of-summer-into-the-dying-season month. Dios de los muertos, the Day of the Dead is in October; All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween is in October. Days get shorter, nights longer… more hours to be afraid of being alone in October.

So I’ve decided to finish things I started this year. I’m beginning with left-overs from the fridge – either I eat it, or the garbage can eats it. Next, I’m going to install the faucet I got on sale that has been sitting in the bathroom for a month, dismembered and disconnected. Then I’m going to finish my list of things I want to finish before October is over.

But if you think about it, October is all about supernatural things lurking in the dark. It’s not often you hear about a ghost or spirit bugging people during the day. October things come out at night. Makes me want to leave all the lights on all day, every day of October so I won’t be in the dark. Somehow, by the time November comes around, the night isn’t such a big thing. Why is that, you think? Probably the moonlight reflecting off the evening snow so it’s not pitch black outside. Hey wait, this is Los Angeles! Oh yeah, we can see at night because of all those celebrities names in lights.

Thinking, like I do, about the membrane between life and… other states of being, I wonder if darkness really does play an important role. We close our eyes – darkness; we fall asleep – darkness; we leave Earth – darkness. It’s natural to believe that death is ALL about darkness. However, if that were true, near death experiences (NDE’s) wouldn’t include the light at the end of the tunnel, would they? Or have these almost dying people gone to the Pearly Gates and seen inside? Hmmm… kinda supernatural.

Some scientists believe that the brain, sensing it’s immanent demise, releases a “flood of euphoria-causing endorphins”. I don’t buy that. Living beings are programmed to rail against the Reaper. Even my poor parakeet fought his end with a disturbing display of Death-Throws. Where were those the euphoria endorphins then?!

A Dutch study published in a 2010 Clinical Care Journal suggested that religious, young, female victims of near death were more likely to see shining lights than those who feared death. That would indicate that death lights are psychological and more in the realm of the brain than in the Hereafter.

Or since we are primarily seeing beings, if we can’t see it we either don’t believe it or, we are afraid of it. The suspense is just too great.

Then I am reminded of those science shows that explain how light is both a particle and a wave, and how it acts remarkably indeed, when it “thinks” it’s being observed ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc ). That’s weird enough to trump the After Life!

So if we are built to not want to die, and we’re afraid of the dark, do we instinctively think the dark is deadly dangerous? Is it? If it’s not, then why are so many of us afraid of it? Things that go bump in the night do that because we can’t see them and we’re up and moving around in the dark. Simple.

Enough of this musing… it’s time to get back to my movie. Can you please turn out the lights when you go?

Thanks.

Originally posted 2013-10-12 22:28:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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