Category Archives: good books

Dear Tom (and Ray), I met prejudice/ignorance today.

Loess Hills

Loess Hills.

I know I haven’t posted in a long time. Sorry. Been insanely busy re the upcoming move to Montana. But I have to say something about what happened today, and I’m including Ray because he’s a Midwesterner. Upper Midwest, but that’s okay.

I was chatting with this guy who had a real cute dog, a Scottie. I love Scotties, attitude and all. They are like little bearded hairy men. (Oh, by the way, when big ol’ Jake goes to puppy camp he’s greeted with, “Hello Sunshine!” He’s a happy camper!)

Anyways… I was chatting with this guy. He was here in Napa enjoying the sunshine. He’d driven down from Portland because he wanted a break from all the rain- which we happen to be having for a minute. Our weather has been beautiful.

We discussed the rain. We discussed my recent stop at PDX, landing in the midst of a horrific downpour. If you get off one of the little planes you have to walk through the downpour to get to the terminal. We were all soaked.

I mentioned my parents. Told him that they’d retired to Southern Oregon.

He asked, “Oh, did they move from California?”

I answered, “No, they moved from Iowa. We’re all from Iowa, I’m not a native Californian.” (‘Cuz yeah, I’m proud as heckfire to be from Iowa.)

He said, “Oh. Iowa. Bunch of illiterate evangelicals there.”

And I was like… “Um, what?”

He said, “Yeah, everyone is stupid religious. Nothing there but cornfields and ignorant racist white farmers.”

I asked, “Have you been to Iowa?”

He shrugged. He said, “I’ve read about it.”

Hey Tom, and Ray, I wanted to punch him in the face.

This is what I deal with on the West Coast. People who think they know the Midwest even though they’ve never been farther east than Vegas (or maybe they’ve flown to NYC). People like this dude, who was about as white as a slice of Wonderbread, who think everyone in the Midwest is a toothless dumbass church-goin’ snake-handling redneck filled with hate and vitriol; that we’re uneducated hicks who stupidly refuse to accept the superiority of the West Coast elites who should be in charge of EVERYTHING.

I don’t care if he had a nice dog. I wanted to kick the living shit out of him.

But I didn’t. I said, “You know nothing about Iowa. Have a safe drive back to Portland.” And I walked away.

Tom, you would have been proud of me.

XOXO! Julia

The Loess Hills: I grew up here, played here. My ancestors lived and died here.

Did I mention the University of Iowa Writers Workshop???

Besides, Iowa is home to one of the best bugs in the world – Fireflies! If you watch the video you’ll discover that we’re not all toothless yahoos.

 

Dear Tom, I don’t see the point…

2015 has been exhausting, both for me, personally, and for our nation and our world. I’m plumb tuckered out.

I’m tired of blogging – an exercise which I suspect means little these days.

I’m tired of the publishing wars. Legacy publishing versus indie publishing versus far too many authors I know who are now poor as church mice, homeless even- authors who once upon a time, as in three or four years ago, made bundles of money.

Now me, I’ve never made bundles so I’ve never spent bundles. As they say– don’t give up the day job. Oh, a couple years ago, 2010-1013, the world was a much different (and more hopeful) place. I made a bunch. I sold lots of books. The life of writing was good and I felt inspired to write more and more and more.

These days, not so much. In fact, I find myself less and less interested in engaging the market, i.e., readers, and I have little interest in promotion. To be honest, I find it hard to muster the energy. Attempts to engage, attempts to promote, don’t sell books anyway. So engagement, just like blogging, is another exercise in futility.

But what about that pot of gold, you ask? What about that lightening strike? The newly discovered land? Well, I ain’t holding my breath. Never have.

You know, I’ve read those books – the strike it rich quick books – those books that have caught fire, those six-figure signings, and except for the very first book in the Hunger Games series, those six-figure books bored me to tears. Whatever it was about those books that caught fire did not ignite the fires within me. Couldn’t even make it through the first five pages of a couple of them.

BORING…

More and more I find myself buying nonfiction and re-reading my old favorites in the fiction genre.

But do I plan to quit altogether? Quit writing? Huh. Good question. Maybe. I’m working on a short story as we speak. I have a re-release scheduled for February or March. I have a number of books in the queue. Maybe I’ll finish them, maybe I won’t.

Regardless, I am convinced I’ll be appreciated after I’m dead. My stuff is good. Someday someone will realize it.

In the meantime:

I’m busy with family and friends. I’m traveling. I’ve got bushels and bushels of lemons to juice for lemon curd. I have to figure out how to halter break my steer, Hank. All in all, while my appreciation and affection for the beauty in life continues to grow, my attachment to the publishing world diminishes.

And I’m okay with that.

I miss you. 2015 was a sucky year for you and your family. They lost you. I lost you, my dear dear friend.

I look forward to 2016. The number fifteen has always bothered me in any case. I think it’s a bad luck number. 2015 has been proof of that for so many people.

Anyway, I’m tired– was up the entire night with a sick dog. No, not a kid although I did have a couple kids home– a sick dog. When I say the entire night I mean exactly that, the entire night. Oscar slept through the whole thing. But then that’s typical for Oscar. He sleeps the sleep of the dead. I wake if a neighbor three doors down drops a pin. Onto plush carpet.

The best blog around? The one worth reading? Marylin’s – Things I Want to Tell My Mother. Her recent post is frame-worthy: The Gift of Words. Go read it, you’ll love it.

All right, Tom, maybe I’ll re-watch the genius Big Bang episode (The Opening Night Excitation) and go to bed!

I love you, Tom. Here’s to the approaching New Year.

XOXO! Julia

 

 

Dear Tom, #FreeBacon

Oh. My. God. Can people just shut the ‘eff up already???

bacon

Bacon is not the devil. Tofu hot dogs are more likely to kill you. Yeah, there, I said it – and I’m speaking as a former vegan!

Here’s an idea! How about~ ALL THINGS IN MODERATION?

You wanna know what made us fat? Low-fat and fat-free. Cutting out all animal products, especially animal fats. Give it up already! Animal fat bad. Monosaturated fat good. Blah-blah-blah. So full of it.

When food producers cut out fat, they replace fat with processed carbohydrates. PROCESSED CARBOHYDRATES. Might as well just shove one spoonful of white sugar after another into your mouth. All day long.

Quit demonizing animal products. You know why we have big brains? Animal protein and animal fat and cooking. (See Richard Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.)

When white men first encountered the Plains Indians, guess what? Their were struck by their incredible good health and longevity (lack of small pox immunity notwithstanding). The Plains Indians, along with the Eskimos, both of whom traditionally ate a diet based upon fat and fatty meats, did not suffer from any of the white man’s diseases, including tooth decay. No tooth decay. No heart disease. No diabetes. No cancer. No obesity. How do you like those apples? These observations were noted in the literature of the time.

bison

Eskimo diet

Cured meats have been consumed in European countries for centuries – like for a couple thousand years at least. And despite the fact that Europeans smoke more than Americans, they have lower rates of cancer. When we were in France, what did we eat? Cured meats, cheese, foie gras, whole chickens with skin, fatty beef and lamb, duck fat, cream, whole milk, olive oil, olives, meat, pasta, bagettes. We lost weight. Vegetables, you ask? What about vegetables? Not a single restaurant served a salad, let alone a side of vegetables. Oh sure, there were farmer’s markets and we bought vegetables, but even when we ate home cooked meals in the homes of our French hosts, we were served no vegetables except potatoes. And the French are not fat. I did not see a single fat French-person in the countryside. You may have read that obesity is increasing in France. Yes, perhaps, but only in places where the French have replaced their traditional high-fat high meat meals with processed foods- like Americans.

cured meats

If you can find them- and believe me, they are hard to find- studies indicate that while vegans and vegetarians may have a slightly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, they have a slightly higher risk of cancer.

Here’s what I say:

Kale is not the superfood you think it is.

Smoothies are not the answer. For oh-so-many reasons.

Animal fat is not the enemy.

Meat is not the enemy.

Potatoes are not the enemy.

I love milk chocolate and I will not apologize.

Excessive sugar, processed carbohydrates, and polyunsaturated vegetable oils may well be the enemy. As in, avoid low-fat and nonfat diets and foods fried in vegetable oils like the plague they are.

Another read and I cannot recommend this book enough: The Big Fat Surprise, Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz.

The Big Fat Surprise, Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, Nina Teicholz

The Big Fat Surprise, Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, Nina Teicholz

 

 

Dear Tom, I’m sorry I haven’t written but I’ve been busy going insane.

First off let me say this – it is no fun, as in zero fun, to drive to the Oakland Airport and back four times in ten days, San Francisco and back three times in ten days, and get an injection of radioactive shit, be forced to drink three liters of water in three hours, and then lie flat on your back on a hard-ass plastic table, not moving, for an entire hour, while the bones in your foot are scanned. (Both of my feet were taped to a plastic form so I couldn’t move them if I’d tried.)

You know, I used to model, as in life-model for art classes. You would think the hardest thing was being naked in front of like forty people. Nope. The hardest thing in the world was not moving. That was super hard. And if you have one of those drawings of me stashed away, please keep it stashed away. In my defense the money was really good. And I had bills to pay.

On the bright side my youngest DOES NOT have lymphoma- yeah, been dealing with this, and it has been confirmed~ I am, as I’ve been saying all along, a super taster.

Brain

Oh, I’ve also been doing stuff with books, lots of stuff, which makes me think I should quit writing altogether and take up painting. Again. I like painting. It’s messy good fun. And I won’t have to think about the bazillions of awful books sold every single day while my amazing books sell one or two copies a month.

So yes, she DOES NOT have lymphoma. Scared the crap out of us, as you can imagine. But I got to sit in a Radioactive lab, as in I was the only person, place or thing in the room not encased in lead. Even the syringe used to inject the radioactive substance into my vein was encased in lead. But we know I’m a super taster because… well, I have said it for years. Cilantro tastes like chlorine gas. Arugula makes me vomit. The tap water tastes like penicillin mold. Raisins taste like poison. That wine tastes like creosote and sweat. (This is supposed to be a good thing?) Ladybugs are bitter when you accidentally ingest one. The dog’s feet smell like popcorn. The cat smells like bacon. There’s a skunk five miles away…) Anywhooo… So Debbie, as in her name was Debbie and I really liked her despite her lead get-up, started an IV. (A feat in itself. You try starting an IV wearing lead gloves.) She said, “All you’ll feel is the IV. You won’t feel a thing with the injection. You won’t get sick. There are no side effects. You won’t even know I’ve injected it.” Thus she injected it. Within a second of the injection, I said, “Ewwwwww. That’s not true. There is a side effect.” And she asked, “Oh? What?” And I said, “That injection tastes like the inside of an old tuna can dipped in garlic.”

And she said, “Huh. So you’re one of the one-percent who can taste the radiation.”

Ha! Again~ Brain

Perhaps I can get a job tasting for radiation.

In the meantime it’s fall, which means harvest. So…

Yesterday I used the last of the beets, the last head of cabbage, and some of the potatoes to make borscht – with beef. No, I didn’t grow the beef. My daughter did.

Today I’m pulling the skins off the mucho tomatoes I harvested to make tomato sauce to go with the eggplants I harvested so I can make eggplant Parmesean. And I have been ordered by my children, yes, my children still order me about, to make both chocolate croissants and a Coca-cola cake. Yep. There is such a thing as a Coca-cola cake. And I have been ordered to bake one as in this afternoon. The croissants I’ll freeze raw so they can bake and eat as desired. But since one of the children DOES NOT have lymphoma I will bake and freeze and can and sauce whatever she wants. And I will do it with gratitude in my heart.

Oh, about the books… What books? Who has time for books???

XOXO! Miss you, Tom. My thoughts are with Ishbel and your kids and grandkids. Julia