A Revision of An Earlier Story: Sadie’s Good-Bye

“But she promised she’d say good-bye,” Max said as he swigged a glass of lager while we sat in our usual back booth at “Let’s Get It On” bar, the last place anybody would ever think to “get it on” unless that meant to get shit-faced drunk before noon on a weekday. That’s what Max and I were trying to do on that Wednesday at 11 am, but we were distracted with thoughts of love and death. “Yeah,” Max continued, ”I should have known I was going to get screwed to the wall the second I saw her. All that eyeliner, for Christ sake, and that green and yellow stripped jumpsuit she loved to wear. What self-respecting woman goes around looking like that, for the love of God?”

Max was a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic who went to 7 o’clock Mass every morning at Blessed Sacrament Catholic over on Sunset, then after a brief snooze, managed to be at the bar by 9 when it opened. I, on the other hand, was a fallen Jew who had traded Shabbat with my extended family on Friday nights for worship daily at the bar with Max. I had become almost a Christian under Max’s influence since he liked to call our ritual of meeting “the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine for the love of Christ.” The only difference was there was never any bread, it was beer instead of wine and I didn’t believe in Christ. But besides that…

Max finished his glass and raised it for the waitress to bring another. “Yeah, and who calls themselves a professional clown and then wears their clown suit all the time – day and night – and never seems to go to the circus or carnival or wherever the hell clowns are supposed to perform? Is that insane or what?”

“Crazy as hell,” I said, then raised my glass in memory of Sadie. Yea, Sadie was her name and she may have had her faults, but that woman had hooked us both into pure love for her. It probably was that jumpsuit. God almighty, every curve, mound – if you know what I mean – practically every mole was visible since it was skin-tight, and, I can hardly keep from salivating – yes, I know that’s gross, me saying that, but it’s the truth – even thinking about how round her breasts were and how her pant leg would slip up every once in a while and you could see this smooth-as-silk-skin that would make any man – or lesbo, I suppose – melt with longing. Oh, god, that skin – all of her skin – milky white and smooth like some piece of ice sculpture except it wasn’t cold – hell no. And yes, I did know…and not just from copping a feel. That girl could writhe with heat as if she had a volcano living inside her. Holy shit. God. Yes. What I would give to see her walking in that door about now.

“So, what time’s the funeral?” Max asked and glanced up at the neon Schlitz clock.

“Noon,” I said, and tried to forget that there’d never be any more of that heat for me from our girl Sadie.

“Why is her service at that lame-ass Episcopal church, for God’s sake?” Max asked. “Those people are just wanna-be Catholics.”

“She told me she liked that church. People were nice to her there, even fed her breakfast a couple of Saturdays a month when she didn’t have any more money for food. A good home-cooked meal. You can’t fault a church for that.”

“I can fault any church that’s not Catholic,” Max said. “That’s the one true church.”

I reached in my pocket and held up a green and yellow striped tie. “I thought I might wear this for her. I think she would laugh.”

Max shook his head. “It’d be weird if we found out she hanged herself with a tie.”

“Or her jumpsuit,” I said, thinking the nylon material might have been perfect to form a good noose.

“Where’d they say they found her?”

“Hanging from a tree limb in West Hollywood Park.”

“Yes,” he said, gulping the last of his beer before standing up, “there are some good trees there. You ready?”

I stood up, too. It was odd seeing us dressed up like respectable guys heading off to pay our respects. It was a good feeling to see that we both cleaned up pretty well despite our bad habits. “Yeah, let’s head out.”

Henry, the bartender waved as we left. “Light a candle for me,” he called. “She was a good woman.”

We squinted as we stepped out in the bright sunlight, then stumbled up the street.  All at once Max stopped and pointed at a bird perched on the back of a bus stop bench. It was big – at least a foot and a half tall – with a hooked nose, yellow head and green body. As soon as it spied us, it leaned its head to one side and squawked. “I’ll be damned,” Max said. “I can’t believe I’m seeing a yellow-headed amazon right now.”

“Isn’t it just one more parrot?”

“You’re missing the point. There are lots of wild parrots around here, but Sadie swore there were some of these amazons around, too, and I told her that she was full of shit. They’re an endangered species that only show up in Central America and Mexico.”

We stared at the bird, which stared right back at us before spreading its wings and flying away. “You know what that was, don’t you?” Max said.

“A lost parrot?”

“Hell, no. That was Sadie making good on her promise to say good-bye.”

I stood silent for a second, not quite sure what to say.

“She’s letting us know she’s doing okay. That’s what that was. She knew we’d feel bad and she’s saying, “Relax, boys, I may spend some time in purgatory, but it won’t be long.”

“I thought Catholics believe all people who commit suicide are doomed to hell.”

“Nay,” Max said, as he started walking in the direction of the church. “That’s just for dumbasses who don’t understand God’s love.”

“But I’m pretty sure — ”

Max gave me one of his shut-the-fuck-up looks, and I stopped before I ruined the moment. Besides I liked the idea that Sadie was going to heaven and I might get to see her again at some point in the future. I mean if heaven existed, after all.

***

There were four of us at the service besides the priest and two altar boys. The other two people were an older man and woman who bore a remarkable likeness to Sadie. Her mother and father, I was sure.

The woman came up to us afterwards and said, “It’s good to see our daughter had at least two friends.”

Max and I said in perfect unison, “She had lots of friends.”

Her father dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief. “I’m glad she had some upstanding people in her life. I feel better knowing that.”

Max and I exchanged a glance before shaking their hands. A few minutes later, we stood at the corner and waved as they drove away in a black Prius. Crazy Sadie’s parents were Prius owners. Who could have ever predicted that?

“Come on, man,” Max called as he started to cross the street.

I shook my head. “Go on back without me. I think I’ll just walk for a while.”

“Suit yourself,” he yelled, “but it’s going to be a lame-ass going-away party for our Sadie.” He headed back down the hill.

As for me, I walked all the way to West Hollywood Park. I wanted to see the exact tree where Sadie had met her end. I also wanted to enjoy looking like a respectable human being for just a little while longer. It felt strangely good. When I arrived, I looked at the trees to see which one must have been the one. That’s when I spied the yellow-headed amazon sitting up in the branches. “Holy shit,” I said to no one in particular, then sat down on a nearby bench and just stared at that bird for a good twenty minutes. I don’t quite know why, but at the end of that stare down, I understood a couple of basic truths. First, Sadie was okay, wherever she was, and it was definitely not hell, no way. Jews don’t believe in hell, anyway, but even if we did, Sadie was not there. Second, sitting near where Sadie had spent her last moments was the right place for me to be. I felt comfort here and that bird looked peaceful, too.

I took my tie off, walked over to the tree, and draped it over the lowest branch. The yellow and green stripes matched that bird’s feathers to a T. Just as I sat back down, the parrot let out a series of loud squawks that sounded a lot like laughter.  I laughed, too.  It felt so good to have a real good-bye.

Hot Today

Ray and I worked out in the heat all day today and it was HOT. In Ojai this morning, it was well over hundred by the time we headed back to town at noon, and this afternoon back in LA, it was at least 102. Even now, it feels too warm for almost 9 pm. This is quite a heat wave, particularly when you have to work outside.

I wish I could write more, but the truth is that I can’t keep my eye open. I am dead tired.

So, let it suffice to say that tonight’s blog entry is short and sweet. I need to go take a bath and then go straight to bed.

Sweet dreams, my friends. Let’s look forward to cooler weather soon.

temp

Pann’s Coffee Shop: Well Worth a Visit

Tonight we ate at Pann’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop in Westchester en route to LAX to pick up some friends at the airport. Pann’s is the diner that was featured in Pulp Fiction and it has been around since 1958. The exterior is a great example of Googie architecture, which is a futurist style designed in the mid-20th century. As described by Googie Architecture Online, “Coffee shops looked like something in a Jetsons’ cartoon.” Pann’s is exactly in this category, which makes eating there fun.  The food is just old-fashioned down-home cooking, which makes eating there also extremely enjoyable.

Panns-Interior-Vampiress

panns-restaurant

Ray and I always have the trout when we go there because it is outstanding. That dinner comes with two vegetables. Tonight, I had sautéed spinach and a baked yam. There is always a choice between a dinner roll or cornbread and, of course, I had the cornbread. (What self-respecting Texan wouldn’t have the cornbread?) I haven’t had their milkshakes, but a friend has and says they are made from real ice cream and are thick and delicious. The desserts are all homemade and are impressive in size and I suspect in taste, as well. Chicken and waffles is one of the house specialties and I can vouch that this is an exceptional choice.

chicken and waffles

So, if you’re out and about and looking for good food, great atmosphere, and a little movie history, then check out Pann’s. It’s family owned and the owner, who is 94, still comes in everyday to check on the place. It’s located at 6710 La Tijera Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

Pann’s is definitely a great place to eat and have a relaxing time with friends. It is also a perfect stop going to or coming from the airport.

Happy eating here in LA.

Sadie’s Good-Bye

“But she promised she’d say good-bye,” Max said as he swigged a glass of lager while we sat in our usual back booth at “Let’s Get It On” bar. Just a side note about the bar – it was about the last place anybody would ever think to “get it on,” unless that meant to get shit-faced drunk before noon on a weekday. That’s what Max and I were trying to do on that Wednesday at 11 am – but we were distracted today with thoughts of love and death. “Yeah,” Max continued, ”I should have known I was going to get screwed to the wall the second I saw her. All that eyeliner, for Christ sake, and that red and yellow stripped jumpsuit she loved to wear. What self-respecting woman goes around looking like that, for the love of God?”

Max was a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic who went to 7 o’clock Mass every morning at Blessed Sacrament Catholic over on Sunset, then after a brief snooze, managed to be at the bar by 9 when it opened. I, however, was a fallen Jew who had traded Shabbat with my extended family on Friday nights for daily worship at the bar with Max. I had become almost a Christian under Max’s influence since he liked to call our ritual of meeting “the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine for the love of Christ.” The only difference was there was never any bread, beer replaced wine and I didn’t believe in Christ. But besides that…

Max finished his glass and raised it for the waitress to bring another. “Yeah, and who calls themselves a professional clown and then wears their clown suit all the time – day and night – and never seems to go to the circus or carnival or wherever the hell clowns are supposed to perform? Is that insane or what?”

“Crazy as hell,” I said, then raised my glass in memory of Sadie. Yea, Sadie was her name and she may have had her faults, but that woman had hooked us both into pure love for her. It probably was that jumpsuit. God almighty, every curve, mound – if you know what I mean – practically every mole was visible since it was skin-tight, and, I can hardly keep from salivating – yes, I know that’s gross, me saying that, but it’s the truth – even thinking about how round her breasts were and how her pant leg would slip up every once in a while and you could see this smooth-as-silk-skin that would make any man – or lesbo, I suppose – melt with longing. Oh, god, that skin – all of her skin – milky white and smooth like some piece of ice sculpture except it wasn’t cold – hell no. And yes, I did know…and not just from copping a feel. That girl could writhe with heat as if she had a volcano living inside her. Holy shit. God. Yes. What I would give to see her walking in that door about now.

“So, what time’s the funeral?” Max asked and glanced up at the neon Schlitz sign.

“Noon,” I said, and tried to forget that there’d never be any more of that heat for me from our girl Sadie.

“Why is her service at that lame-ass Episcopal church, for God’s sake?” Max asked. “Those people are just wanna-be Catholics.”

“She told me she liked that church. People were nice to her there, even fed her breakfast a couple of Saturdays a month when she didn’t have any more money for food. A good home-cooked meal. You can’t fault a church for that.”

“I can fault any church that’s not Catholic,” Max said. “That’s the one true church.”

I reached in my pocket. “I thought I might wear this for her,” I said and held up a red and yellow striped tie. I think she would laugh.”

Max shook his head. “It’d be weird if we found out she hanged herself with a tie.”

“Or her jumpsuit,” I said, thinking the nylon material might have been perfect to form a good noose.

“Where’d they say they found her?”

“Hanging from a tree limb in West Hollywood Park.”

“Yes,” he said, gulping the last of his beer before standing up, “there are some good trees there. You ready?”

I stood up, too. It was odd seeing us dressed up like respectable guys heading off to pay our respects. It was a good feeling to see that we both cleaned up pretty well despite our bad habits. “Yeah, let’s head out.”

Henry, the bartender waved as we left. “Light a candle for me,” he called. “She was a good woman.”

We squinted as we stepped out in the bright sunlight, and then Max stopped and pointed at an old truck that was lumbering by. Right there on its rusted side was a faded Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus logo and below it was a picture of a bunch of clowns with a much younger Sadie in her red and yellow striped jumpsuit, grinning from ear to ear.

“I’ll be damned,” Max muttered. “What do you think of that?”

I shrugged. “I guess she really was in the circus.”

Max smiled. “You know what that was, don’t you,” pointing to the truck as it rattled on down the road.

“An old rattle trap that got retired a dozen years back from Ringling Brothers?”

Max shook his head. “Hell, no. That was Sadie making good on her promise to say good-bye.”

I stood silent for a second. It was weird-ass timing, that was for damn sure.

“She’s letting us know she’s doing okay. That’s what that was. She knew we’d feel bad and she’s saying, “Relax, boys, I may spend some time in purgatory, but it won’t be long.”

“I thought Catholics believed all people who committed suicide were doomed to hell.”

“Nay,” Max said, as he started walking in the direction of the church. “That’s just for dumbasses who don’t understand God’s love.”

“But I’m pretty sure — ” I said.

Max gave me one of his shut-the-fuck-up looks, and I stopped before I ruined the moment. Besides I liked the idea that Sadie was going to heaven and I might get to see her again at some point in the future.  I mean…if there was heaven, after all.

***

There were four of us at the service besides the priest and an acolyte. The other two people were an older man and woman who bore a remarkable likeness to Sadie. Her mother and father, I was sure.

The woman came up to us afterwards and said, “It’s good to see our daughter had at least two friends.”

Max and I said in perfect unison, “She had lots of friends.”

Her father dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief. “It’s good to see she had some upstanding people in her life. I feel better knowing that.”

Max and I exchanged glances before shaking their hands, then he headed in the direction of the bar. “We have some toasting to do,” he said, waving at me to follow.

I watched as Sadie’s parents got into their black Prius and drove away. A Prius, for God’s sake. Crazy Sadie’s parents were socially conscientious. Who would have ever thought?

“Come on, man,” Max called, but I shook my head. “Go on back without me,” I said. “I think I’ll just walk for a while.

“Suit yourself,” he yelled, “but it’s going to be a lame going-away party for our Sadie.” He turned and headed back down the hill to the bar.

As for me, I walked all the way to West Hollywood Park. I wanted to see the exact tree where Sadie had met her end. I also wanted to enjoy looking like a respectable human being for just a little while longer. It felt strangely good. Besides I had the distinct feeling that Sadie was smiling, wherever she was. And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was not in hell. No way. That was one of the great things about being Jewish.  We don’t believe in hell.

sherman132

Flash Fiction: An Education

I loved the way she said “balloon.” She said it as if she were blowing bubbles…

She was strawberry blonde and had the greenest eyes I had ever seen. There was something about the way she puckered up her lips when she asked for a balloon that night at the carnival that made her look sexy as hell.

Of course, it should be obvious that I was in love with her. Who else says dumb shit like how much they love the way someone says a word except when they are under the influence of hormones mixed with hope? Yes, it’s true. Maureen – that was her name – could glance at me from across a room and have me shifting in my chair and needing to put my jacket in my lap. I’m not proud of it, particularly since she turned out to be such a con artist. Who would have ever thought that a girl with the faintest hint of freckles sprinkled over her face could turn out to be such a thief? No, she conned me on sight and it is embarrassing to admit. Of course, I have had my revenge, so that makes everything tolerable to think about at this point.

What did she do and what did I do as a result? Good question. You see, I manage an art gallery and turns out she was a professional art thief. Again, who would have ever thought this girl of 23 could have developed such an unsavory way of making money? Turns out she came by it naturally. Her dad had taught her everything she knew. But remember, I didn’t have a clue and so I acted like a total schmuck, thinking, “Aw, this is the one.”

That is until that Tuesday when she asked me a peculiar question: “How old do you plan to be before you actually do something interesting?”

Needless to say, this put me on the defensive. I was thirteen years older than she was at that point – 36 – and I prided myself on being fairly cultured and well-traveled. My response: “Who’s talking? What are you, 23 going on 16? What have you ever done?”

Well, she had counted on that response, I can see now in retrospect. She just smiled and said, “Let’s just say I know how to make a quick 200,000 dollars and I’m guessing by the looks of you that you don’t.”

I could kick myself now I was such a patsy. I pushed my chin up in the air and said, “Oh, tell me how.” Twenty minutes later, I was participating in an art theft of some of the best art in the gallery. Good fucking grief, it’s embarrassing to admit what an easy mark I was. But, oh yeah, you are wondering how I got her back.

Well, she headed off with the art and I waited to call the police until the next day like she told me to do so she had time to get it stowed away. We were supposed to meet up later that week and figure out our next steps, but, you guessed it, there was no meeting because she had the art and why did she need me? I was totally pissed for a long time – like a year and a half – but finally gathered up the remains of my self-esteem and moved on with my life. I hadn’t been implicated since the gallery owner vouched for me and my “unshakable integrity,” and it was obvious to the police, I think, that I was too stupid and unimaginative to come up with any sort of money-making scheme that involved breaking the law.

Then I saw her by pure accident at a movie. Yea, it was a matinée and I had the day off and I was bummed as usual so I thought I’d take in a flick downtown at a theater that specializes in classics. It was Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak and I was glad to be there since it was August and hot and the theater was cool and had fresh buttered popcorn. I was sitting there by myself, flicking popcorn in my mouth, one kernel at a time, when I saw her three rows up and two seats over on my right. I stared hard to make sure it was really her and it was. I could tell by the curve of her chin and the angle of her face since we all know that I had been that obsessed with her to have memorized such details. But this time, I wasn’t fascinated, I was 100% annoyed and I managed to sink down in my seat and call the detective who had given me his card after everything had happened.

Ten minutes later, the police were there and she was walking away in handcuffs. She glared at me with those green eyes and called out, “He was an accomplice,” but the police didn’t even turn to look at me, just grabbed her upper arm and escorted her to the patrol car for the trip downtown. Turns out she had a rap sheet long enough to circle the block. She is now upstate in the women’s prison and I am off to Europe to buy art and have some fun, thanks to a grateful collector whose work was recovered after the heist.

Maureen wanted to know when my life was going to get interesting. I think it’s fair to say right now. I plan to travel, see a lot of art, and stay as far away from upstate New York as I can for as long as she’s there. Otherwise, I might fall victim again to those sweet lips of hers and start taking her cookies on visiting days. I’m not saying I did that – okay, once – but just long enough to get a quick dose of who she really is.

After all, on the visit she leaned close and whispered, “I’ve got an idea.” I stood up and told the guard I was ready to leave.

I’m done with her ideas. Now I’ve got plenty of my own.

art_gallery_ballarat_3

5-Star Gingersnap Recipe

Today I modified America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for ginger snap cookies to fit into my non-refined sugar criteria. That mean basically just substituting white sugar with maple sugar.

The results were excellent. The cookies have a real snap and they are filled with freshly ground ginger for a nice little kick.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe I can declare this the best ginger snap recipe EVER. That’s what America’s Test Kitchen does, after all. They take the best recipes for a dish or dessert and work out all the kinks before presenting them to the public.

The secret to the recipe below is browning the butter. This removes excessive moisture. Also, it’s important to move the baking sheet down from the top level to the middle rack 1/2 way through the backing.

Here is the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen:

Gingersnaps

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:

We wanted to put the “snap” back in Gingersnap cookies. This meant creating a cookie that not only breaks cleanly in half and crunches satisfyingly with every bite but also has an assertive ginger flavor and heat. The key to texture was reducing the moisture in the final baked cookie.
Makes 80 1½-inch cookies

For the best results, use fresh spices. For efficiency, form the second batch of cookies while the first batch bakes. And no, the 2 teaspoons of baking soda is not a mistake; it’s essential to getting the right texture.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch cayenne
1 1/4 cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) dark brown sugar (or maple sugar is you’re worried about eating refined sugar)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar (Or maple sugar if not using refined)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and butter is just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to large bowl and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add egg and yolk and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Divide dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into 1-inch balls. Working in batches of 10, roll balls in sugar to coat. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.

3. Place 1 sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of dough balls on upper rack. Continue to bake until cookies on lower tray just begin to darken around edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until cookies begin to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack and cool completely before serving. Cool baking sheets slightly and repeat step 2 with remaining dough balls.

TO MAKE AHEAD: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with recipe. Cooled cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.

LOADING UP ON LEAVENING

Using a full 2 teaspoons of baking soda in our cookie dough instead of the more typical ½ to 1 teaspoon not only helped create desirable fissures in the final cookie but also helped it dry out. Baking soda is an alkaline substance that weakens the gluten (the network of proteins that gives most baked goods their structure) in a dough or batter. Weaker gluten means a more porous structure from which air bubbles and moisture can burn off. It also means that the dough will collapse after its initial rise in the oven, leading to cracks that also allow more moisture to escape.

PUTTING THE SNAP IN GINGERSNAPS

The hallmark of gingersnap cookie texture—big crunch—came down to one key factor: drying out the dough.

BROWN THE BUTTER Butter is 16 percent water. Browning it before whisking it with the sugar, eggs, and flour eliminates moisture.

CUT BACK ON SUGAR The brown sugar in our recipe holds on to water, even after baking. Our solution? Use just 1 1/4 cups.

TURN DOWN THE OVEN Baking the cookies in a low (300-degree) oven gives the dough ample time to gradually—but thoroughly—dry out.

STAGGER THE BAKING Baking each tray on the top rack before moving it to the cooler bottom rack creates fissures that allow moisture to escape.

Pictures of My Cookies Made Today

cookie 1

 

cookie2

Blog Post #1000

Hi, folks. I am happy to report that I have made it to 1000 posts. I started blogging daily 2 3/4 years ago and here I am. Here are a few things I’ve learned over time.

1) Not all blog posts are created equal.

Some take 20 minutes, a few take 10 and most take at least 45 minutes to an hour. And then there are those that I spend as much as 2 hours on. The goal is to sit down and write for at least 20 minutes every day. The exact length of time varies depending on the day, the time and the topic.

2) Compelling topics can be a challenge.

The most difficult part of blogging for me is coming up with interesting topics. I sometimes wish I had a magic writing pad that supplied 3 topics from which to choose. Lots of evenings, I spend much of my time staring at the computer mumbling, “Now what can I write about tonight?” I go through several lists online, as well as a book or two here at home before settling on a topic. That is the toughest part of this daily blogging gig, hence the inclusion of favorite recipes, restaurants, books and movies. When you blog every day, you need all the help you can get!

3) The simpler, the better.

I am learning that writing from the heart in the simplest language possible seems to convey my thoughts and feelings the most effectively. Waxing philosophic in a long-winded fashion may have its place, but its place is not a blog post.

4) Controversial stances can be tiresome to readers and to me.

Growing up in a small town where everyone went to the same school helped me to learn early on that people of different political and religious beliefs could respect each other and get along. Soapbox speeches were not encouraged and, as a result, we all seemed to focus on the common core elements that connected us as human beings. That is my goal on my blog. To concentrate on what binds us, one to another; not to point out, ad nauseam, our differences.

5) Not all blog posts can be submitted to other publications.

While I do my best to pick topics that I can “double duty” by posting on my blog and also submitting to literary magazines and anthologies, it is sometimes just not possible to do both. So far, I have several publications this year from my revised posts, but not nearly as many as I would like. I want to get more focused with this goal, but so far, I have found that out of a thousand blog posts, 20 to 30 have been worthy of additional revision and submission to another publication. That is not to say that 20 or 30 have been accepted, but I believe I am looking at 10 so far this year. That’s 10 more than I would have if I weren’t blogging. Most of the posts serve their purpose as a daily chronicle, but they are nothing more than that. However, I am not counting recipes that may eventually be compiled into a cookbook. That would increase the number of worthy posts by quite a few.

6) Blogging Connects Me to So Many People.

I had no idea how many people I would communicate with via my blog. That is the best part of the whole process. I am very pleased and happy to have people who read my humble “20 Minutes a Day” offering, and I thank you all for your support.

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A Turkey Burger Worth Eating

Looking for a great turkey burger (or regular beef burger) in LA? Here’s your stop: Astro Burger at 7475 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. The fries are also excellent, hand-cut and fried to perfection.

Astro

Here is the turkey burger I had a few days back. Pardon those bite marks. I was so hungry, I forgot to take the picture before I started eating.

turkey - Astro

This Astro Burger has been around for a good long time, but has had a facelift over the past few years. The interior is clean, mostly white and feels inviting. It has a retro feel that adds to the charm.

Astro- interior

I have not had any other food at this Astro Burger, but I saw other people eating and their food looked appetizing. Also, I didn’t see people leaving food on their plates. I figure that’s a good sign.

So, if you want a decently priced burger with fries, then this is your place. There’s a big parking lot along with outdoor and indoor seating. It’s cash only so keep that in mind (an ATM is onsite), and there is not a drive-through. But the people are pleasant and efficient and again, the place feels really clean.

Excellent food, a pleasant environment and nice workers = a recommended restaurant.

If you go there, let me know what you think. I am always interested in hearing your impressions.

Happy burger eating!

Ojai Last Night

We went to Ojai last night and I was unable to post because I had not downloaded the WordPress blog app. I have since done that so I am playing catch-up.

Here is what the moon looked like from the darkness of the orange grove last night. We were there to water our trees so the grove was filled with moonlight and the soft sound of sprinklers. Lovely.

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Writing Advice for Long Projects

A friend called me today and said, “I had been going great guns on a writing project, then I lost momentum and now I’m miserable.”

My response, “Welcome to the real world of writing.”

It is a fact (at least from my experience), once you have immersed yourself in the creative process and experienced that alternative world of your own making, it is painful not to revisit it often. However, the longer you go between visits, the harder it is to return and the more miserable you become. Even a little work each day will keep you happy and push misery to a lesser position. But do not fear, your friend misery is available night or day to prey upon your insecurity should you stop for much longer than a day.

One thing I do is to say to myself, “This is going to be awful to start with, I know, but I will start anyway. “

Each day my writing gets less awful and before too long I am back on track. It is also very smart to have your next project ready to go before you finish the last one. That helps ease the transition.

So, just recognize if you are miserable after a stall in your writing that you are in good company since most writers tend to have some variation on that theme at some point in their writing career.

Good luck, my friends. And happy writing.

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